2007 Reviews

January 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Desnoettes, Caroline. Look Closer: Art Masterpieces through the Ages. Walker, 2006. $18.95. 0-8027-9614-2. Unp. Ages 5+: Foldouts and thick paper make this interactive book highly useful and fascinating for adults working with younger children or older children examining the book on their own. Each “masterpiece includes a reproduction of the entire work, four inserts from each painting, the basic four colors in the artist’s palette, brief information about the work’s place in history, and a set of questions requiring careful examination of the work. Each work is given one full page in the back of the book with a brief bio of the artist, a discussion of the type of work, and an description of the painting included in the book. The masterpieces go from gothic style in the 14th and 15th centuries to figurative and abstract art in the 20th century. Although all the artists are men, a variety of European countries are represented with the majority from France. The concept in this book could be replicated by teachers who wanted to include art from other countries and genders. P8Q8

 

Ebadi, Shirin. Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. With Azadeh Moaveni. Random House, 2006. $24.95. 1-4000-6470-8. 232p. Ages 16+: The life of this dedicated human rights advocate and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize is filled with danger and courage as she tries to maintain the traditional women’s role in an Arab country while defending, as a lawyer, women and children in politically charged cases that most in her profession refuse to touch. From her girlhood in a modest Tehran household to her demotion to clerk when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges, she describes her deep disillusionment with the direction Iran has taken since the 1979 Islamic Revolution under the guidance of hard-line clerics. In the book she also speaks out against the oppressive patriarchy of Iran, where conservative rulers have stripped women of their basic rights and all citizens of their political freedom. Although not always easy reading, this book is important for young people because of our increasing relationship with Iran and the resolute bravery of a woman who refuses to give up. P4Q9

 

Gold, Rozanne. Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients. Il. Sara Pinto. Bloomsbury, 2006. $17.95. 1-58234-735-2. 144p. Ages 9+: As a lover of cookbooks, I was really excited about this book. I was disappointed. The premise is excellent and the layout fun. Some of the directions are helpful, such as washing your hands before cooking and cleaning up after yourself as you cook. But while the audience for the book is young readers, the vocabulary is sometimes sophisticated (such as “autonomic nervous system”). The list of equipment required is also extensive, making this book more for middle and upper class children. The first recipe, Hot Chocolate, requires chopping “7 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate,” a fairly daunting task for a “simple” three-recipe cookbook. Another recipe calls for scallions but doesn’t explain what these are. And essential items in the pantry of refrigerator include Nutella, pesto sauce, and puff pastry. There are other, better, simpler cookbooks for children on the market. P4Q6

 

Jarrow, Gail. The Printer’s Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press. Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills, 2006. $18.95. 1-59-78-432-4. 102p. Ages 12+: The relative freedom of the press in the United States dates back to 1734 when a recently-appointed New York governor arrested a printer for printing papers that said negative things about the governor’s actions. This book chronicles the events that led up to the arrest, the trial, and the results of the trial. Such an episode could be very exciting; the book is not. It begins at the beginning, rather than a journalistic approach that would begin with the event itself, drawing the reader into the book. In addition, the book is largely gray with dull print, fuzzy pictures, and large areas of hand-written text that cannot be easily read. The format puts the narrative of the book on the right page and supporting material on the left. Sometimes the material has no relationship, indicating that perhaps there was not enough for the left side. The author also shows bias in some of her statements. I would not recommend this book for purchase. P3Q4

 

Murphy, Claire Rudolf. Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock. Walker, 2006. $17.95. 0-8027-9577-3. 64p. Ages 8+: Although people think of “The Rock,” an island off San Francisco, as only a maximum-security prison and later as a place for Native American protest, it has been home to children for the past 200 years. In her chronicle of this famous place, Murphy highlights those children with a wide selection of photographs beginning with pictures of children of army officers who moved to the Army post in 1859 to protect San Francisco and house such criminals as the Hopi Indians imprisoned there in 1894 who refused to allow their children to be sent to a government boarding school. The juxtaposition of the innocent young children and the criminals, some of them quite hardened, is fascinating. Those consigned to Alcatraz for refusal to serve in the army cut the children’s hair, baby-sat them, or went to movie screenings with the children. Children would sneak messages to the prisoners’ friends on the mainland. During the Native American occupation from 1969 through 1971, children were back, again exploring the island and this time wandering through the dank prison cells. One interesting picture is of actor Benjamin Bratt as a child. This provides not only interesting information about the children but also shows some of the injustices of the U.S. government through the last century. P9Q8

 

Reef, Catherine. E.E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life. Clarion, 2006. $21.00. 0-618-56849-2. 149p. Ages 12+: Cummings’ life seems to have happened in a different world. Born in 1894, his family had two live-in servants and a daily handyman; as an adult, Cummings never seemed to have a job, depending on help from friends and family at first and later making some money from readings and being a visiting lecturer at schools of higher education. Because of these freedoms, he was able to spend his time writing, breaking away from the traditional poetic form, using capitalization, punctuation, and spacing in ways never seen before. The book reads like a “who’s who” of famous writers during his lifetime. This makes it almost more appropriate for adults or young readers who want to study literature. With its complete information, young readers may find this a bit boring, difficult to get through. P3Q7

 

Roth, Susan L. Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo. Ass. Angelo Mafucci. Houghton, 2006. $17.00. 0-618-46572-3. Unp. Ages 5-8: “A thousand years ago. . .There was no written music at all.” Thus begins this remarkable biography of the Italian monk who devoted his time to developing a system that would depict music so that a song would not be lost forever if someone forgot it. Lyric writing matches the subject as well as do the flowing collages of torn papers collected from around the world. Roth tells of how d’Arezzo’s work led to so much skepticism that he had to leave a monastery to return to his native Tuscan village. This is a story of a person who followed his heart no matter what anyone told him thus creating a language that crosses all ethnic backgrounds. P8Q9

 

Picture Books

McLimans, David. Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet. Walker, 2006. $17.85. 0-8027-9564-1. Unp. Ages 5+: Although the letters graphically rendered with animal characteristics from these endangered species (from Chinese Alligator through Grevy’s Zebra) may sometimes be difficult to decipher, the actual letters, both upper and lower case, are clearly delineated in the upper outside corner . The information about the creatures is fascinating: the alphabet pages provide class, habitat, range, threats, and status, and five pages in the back provide more information. Also included are websites and bibliography for further reading. White pages with bold black and red printing for different kinds of information make every piece stand out. Both a striking work of art and a zoological adventure, Gone Wild can be used for all ages and a variety of purposes. P8Q8

 

Satrapi, Marjane. Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon. Bloomsbury, 2006. $15.95. 1-58234-744-1. Unp. Ages 3-6: Bold cartoon illustrations outlined in bold black help tell the story of Marie, a girl who tries to protect herself from monsters by cutting the moon out of the sky and hanging it in her room. This is a tale that shows how what seems like an easy fix can lead to a bigger problem when cats cannot see at night and the rats take over the town’s streets. It’s also a good way to negotiate rather than ordering someone to give something back that they have taken. The author, born in Persia, also wrote the award-winning Persepolis and its sequels which detail her life growing up in Iran (formerly Persia). P9Q8

 

Fiction

Winterson, Jeanette. Tanglewreck. Bloomsbury, 2006. $16.95. 1-58234-919-3. 415p. Ages 10-14: When “time tornadoes” begin picking up school buses and depositing wooly mammoths on the banks of the Thames, 11-year-old Silver becomes the one person who can make time predictable again. The story is full of wonderful characters: selfish, bad-tempered Mrs. Rokabye who takes over “caring” for Silver when the girl’s parents disappear; evil Abel Darkwater who wants the mysterious timekeeper; Fisty and Thugger who are sent to find the timekeeper; wicked Regalia Mason who runs a corporation; Gabriel, a strange boy from a clan that has made its home beneath London for more than a century; and all the children that surround Gabriel. The author, winner of the coveted Whitbread Prize, combines rousing adventure with time warps and quantum physics, in a book reminiscent of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Also for lovers of Lemony Snicket’s books. P7Q9

 

January Book Reviews D.G.H. Media Specialist

Wallington, Aury, Pop. Razorbill, 2006, $8.99, 1-59514-092-1, 248p., Grades 9-12

The pretext here is that virginity is something that needs to be gotten out of the way. Readers that buy into that pretext should enjoy this book. Marit, along with her best friends Carolyn and Jamie want their senior year to be perfect. Because she keeps dumping her boyfriends when things start to get physical, Marit decides to ask her guy friend Jamie (who is also a 17 year old virgin) to do the mutual honor with no strings attached. The interesting twist is that it is the guy who gets emotionally hurt and the three way friendship bottoms out. The book examines the typical cliques and trust issues faced by teens, and it also highlights a pregnant girl with a smeared reputation as the worst consequence of sex. Unfortunately the book just ends with the friends all getting back together as if nothing happened and the pregnant girl’s character is just dropped with no resolution. The book does a decent job dealing with a topic that is on a lot of teen minds. P8 Q7

 

St. Stephens Community House, The Little Black Book For Girlz, annick press, 2006, $8.95, 978-1-55037-954-9, 208p, Grades 8-12 Coming out of Toronto, Canada this book is “by youth, for youth”. It was written by ten young women through an independent community-based agency subtitled, “A Book on Healthy Sexuality”. The chapters cover the gamete: relationships, periods, sex, birth control, pregnancy/miscarriage, abortion, STIs, AIDS, and sexual assault. Poems, drawings, essays, Q&As, written in black and white with frank, and sometimes graphic depictions, will appeal to girls (and boys) seeking straight answers about human sexuality issues. My family members thought it might be “too much information”, but in reviewing this book with a high school counselor, the thought was that this is dead-on much needed information that many students will benefit from as young as eighth grade. P9 Q8

 

Tullson, Diane, Red Sea, Orca Books, 2005, $7.95, 1-55143-331-1, 169p., Grades 8-12

A troubled 14 year-old Libby is made to travel for a year on her mother and step-father’s sailboat. Because she was dragging her feet to leave port with the flotilla for passage through the Red Sea, her family was forced to go alone facing a potential storm and the ever-present threat of pirates. This story written in first person allows the reader into the world of modern day sailing and growing up in a divorce situation. The pirates and storm do hit, and Libby has to rely on her wits and knowledge that she learned from her step-father to survive the Red Sea. P8 Q8

 

Lyga, Barry, The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, Houghton Mifflin Co, 2006, $16.95, 978-0-618-72392-8, 311p., Grades 8-12 Written in the first person, this novel is about an angry youth high school sophomore who constantly carries a bullet in his pocket as a talisman against the world. The product of a divorce, move, bullying, and mother’s re-marriage to “the step-fascist” Donnie is adding enemies to The List and fantasizing about the school being taken over by shooters who kill and maim. He is incredibly smart and a talented artist who is writing a graphic novel (“it’s not a comic book”) that he is sure will attract the eye of his favorite author Michael Bendis at the up-coming comic book convention and will be his ticket to college and out of the situation that he is in. He has told no one about his efforts because he has only one friend, Cal, who happens to be a black jock (and a comic book fan as well!); no one that is until he meets Kyra (aka “Goth Girl” who dubs Donnie “Fan Boy”). Through her Fan Boy begins to realize that he needs to be self-confident, and that others have problems in their lives that are at least equal to his. Throughout the book there is a tension building regarding the bullet and what Fan Boy (and later Goth Girl) will do with it. The book resolves nicely with all the characters growing through the experiences that unfold. Alienated youth or kids that are bullied will especially relate, but the book is a good vicarious experience for all that want to explore those feelings. P9Q8

 

February 2007 Reviews

 

 

Book Reviews – January 2007 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School

 

Fiction Selections:

Smith, Jeff. Bone: Eyes of the Storm. Scholastic, New York, 200. $18.99 ISBN: 0-439-70625-4 174 p. Gr. 5-8. The third of a 9-volume series, this story is a quick romp though Stony Gulch with the celebrated Bone family and their friends, Thorn and Gran’ma Ben. Though it follows the action of the previous installments, it works OK as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the reader wanting more. The classic comic book illustrations by Smith are lively and well executed, a bit redolent of Walt Kelly’s Pogo. Coloring in this edition (previous editions are black and white) is very well done and makes the book worth the heftier price tag. Most of the Bone books have reached collector status, with price tags anywhere from $15 to $30 each. Many of the volumes are not in print currently, so it might be difficult to establish a complete collection in a school library. There is a paperback compilation of all 9 books available as well, for $39.95, but it isn’t in color, and, at 1341 pages thick it’s doubtful the binding is durable enough to withstand heavy circulation. Bone may not be the first graphic novel, but it’s one of the most widely read and well-accepted, and is sure to engage and inspire reluctant readers/comic book artists. P10 Q8

 

Forest, Heather. The Little Red Hen: an old fable. Illustrated by Susan Gaber. August House Little Folk, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-87483-795-7 p. Gr. Preschool -1. Lively prose, memnonic verse, and a new and inspiring ending to the fable make this exquisite book a must-have for any elementary or preschool library. The ending is prefaced by the little red hen’s admonishment, “I will share my cake with those of you who help when there is work to do. For after all is said and done, working together makes working fun.” This takes the story beyond the usual self-sacrificing hen and her thankless, indolent friends and puts a teamwork spin on the tale that fable fans will enjoy. In addition, Gaber’s richly layered acrylic, pastel, and cut paper illustrations lend depth and humor that audiences of all ages will appreciate. P7Q9

 

Pinkney, Jerry. The Little Red Hen. Penguin Group., 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-8037-2935 p. Gr. Preschool -1. Pinkney’s book is basically an enlargement on the original fable, with the various barnyard animals playing a bigger role than usual, as the hen tries to enlist their help by calling on each animal’s special talents. Another departure from the usual L.R.H. venue is that the miller – a human – actually grinds the wheat and gives the hen a bonus jar of jam. Otherwise, there are no surprises in this retelling. Pinkney’s lively, meticulously-executed illustrations fill the page, which makes this a good choice for classroom read-alouds. P6 Q7

 

Hayward, Linda.. The King’s Chorus. Illustrated by Jennifer P. Goldfinger. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006. $16.00 ISBN: 0-618-51618-2 p. Gr. Preschool –2 Kadoodle is a rooster with a problem: he crows all night and day, which disturbs his fellow barnyard pals to the point they stop laying eggs, giving milk, and develop surly dispositions. A creative goose solves the problem with telling Kadoodle to ‘save his voice’ for the King’s Chorus – so he adapts by only crowing one exquisite, loud, and proud time at dawn. This is an engaging story of group dynamics that will entertain all ages. Goldfinger’s illustrations are exquisite, and poultry enthusiasts will delight in the way she has portrayed several rarer chicken breeds. P7 Q8

 

B.R. Yaquina View February Reviews

Elschner, Geraldine. Mark’s Messy Room. Ills. By Alexandra Junge. Penguine Young Readers Group, c2006. ISBN 069840047X. Unp. Grades 3-5th. (Q6 P6) Carlo is an unhappy cat because he is tired of living in Mark’s messy room. He couldn’t even climb up on the bed it was so bad, so Carlo decided to leave. He found an open window and climbed inside. It was warm and tidy, but neatness and cleanliness is too much for Carlo. Meanwhile Mark was lonely with Carlos gone. He decided to clean his room. Yes, Carlo decides to go home and both are happy again.

 

Umansky, Kaye. I Don’t Like Gloria!. Ills. by Margaret Chamberlain. Candlewick Press, c2006. ISBN 0763632023. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P6) Why did nobody ask Calvin if he wanted a cat in the house before they brought Gloria home? Gloria eats from his bowl and sleeps in his basket. When Calvin growls at Gloria he gets into trouble. Calvin will agree with Gloria about nothing, but maybe that isn’t true. When a bunny is brought home neither Gloria nor Calvin is happy.

 

Trotter, Deborah W. How Do You Know? Ills. by Julie Downing. Clarion Books, C2006. ISBN 0618463437. Unp. $16.00. GradesK-2nd. (Q7, P6) Polly wakes up one morning looks outside and finds everything gone. The trees, the barn even the pond has been blanketed by fog. Mama says it everything is still there and when Polly asks how she knows she replies “I just do”. Polly wants to go look to make sure everything is there. The soft watercolors used give the feeling of real fog, although the facial features are sometimes stiff.

 

Roth, Susan L. Great Big Guinea Pigs. Bloonsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582347247. Unp. $17.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Did you know guinea pigs used to weight up to 1500 pounds? They also lived in the swamp in Venezuela. GREAT BIG GUINEA PIGS to sweet cuddly animls, this book informs us how they evolved into pets of today. The collage art made of torn papers give great texture to the pictures.

 

Mora, Pat. Marimba! Ills. by Doug Cushman. Clarion Books, c2006. ISBN 0618194533. Unp. $16.00. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P5) An A to Z book about animals written in English with some easy to learn Spanish words. Bright colorful pictures will help make this a hit for the young readers, They will enjoy looking at all the animals frolicking throughout the zoo.

 

Tanen, Sloane. Coco All Year Round. Ills. by Stefan Hagen. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582347093. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS.-2nd. (Q6, P7) Crisp clear very striking photographs in this book will fascinate younger children. Learning the months of the year will be fun with irresistible chicken Coco. You will be taken through the cold months of winter with ice-skating, into the spring with April’s Fool, and on to the summer of a long hot summer drive finally ending up with the fall’s Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Urbigkit, Cat. Puppies, Puppies Everywhere!. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783638. Unp. $12.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P7) Everyone loves to look at puppies and this book will bring a delightful smile to all who read it. From the adorable photographs to the simple rhyming text this book captures puppies playing, fighting, prancing and more.

 

Ross, Kathy. Step-by-Step Crafts for Fall. Ills. by Jennifer Emery. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590784480. 48 Pgs. $6.95. Grades 1st -5th. (Q7, P6) This is a fun book for children to have something to do during those fall afternoons when it is too nasty to go outside. The book begins with a getting started page which tells the types of supplies you will need throughout the book. It also instructs one to cover your work area to protect it. The complete instructions written in simple words make them easy to follow.

 

Ross, Kathy. Step-by-Step Crafts for Winter. Ills. by Jennifer Emery. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590784499. 48 Pgs. $15.95 Grades 1st-5th. (Q7, P6) This book begins with a getting started page which tells the types of supplies you will need throughout the book. It also reminds you to protect your cloths and work area and gives ideas how to do that. Along with the simply written instructions are colorful illustrations. Instructions for making Santa’s, Elf light cover, angel, snowman, Hanukkah

Dreidel, Valentine and other items are included.

 

Van Patter, Bruce. Farley Found It! Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783514 Unp. $16.95 Grades K-2nd. (Q5, P7) Farley loves being a sheep and living in the open field but when it comes to night and sleeping, Farley does not feel comfortable. He found the perfect place to sleep, Edna’s dog house. Of course Edna is not happy about his choice. She tries to hide her dog house from Farley, but Farley finds it every time. Finally Edna decided to build herself a new house and all is good. But is it, around the corner come all the other sheep.

 

Fletcher, Ralph. Moving Day. Ills, by Jennifer Emery. Wordsong, c2006.ISBN 1590783395. 39 Pgs. $17.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q 8, P6) Fletch and his brothers receives new gifts from Dad, but are they gifts or are they really bribes, because then Dad announces they are moving. Each page presents another problem about moving. Selling the house, leaving friends, cleaning, packing, and all the other necessities for moving, are outlined in this book. Fletch learns the sad feelings of moving and the happy feelings of finding out the new place might not be so bad after all. This book describes it all. This would be a wonderful book to give as a gift to someone close to you who has to move away.

 

Ries, Lori. Mrs. Fickle’s Pickles. Ills. by Nancy Cote. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590781953. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS.-1st. (Q 6, P7) Mrs. Fickle likes pickles. She plants them, tends them, picks and pickles them. Then she is off to the fair hoping she will win a prize for them. Of course she does, but most of all she loves her pickles when they are on her tongue. Short simple sentences make this book an easy even for the younger readers. The colorful pictures help make this book interesting.

 

Moser, Lisa. Watermelon Wishes. Ills. by Stacey Schuett. Clarion Books, c2006. ISBN 0618564330. 32 pgs. $16.00. Grades K-2nd. (Q 6, P7) This is a very heartwarming story about a grandson and his grandfather who spend the summer together. Charlie and Grandpap know what they need to grow watermelons and gather them together. Off they go to plant the seeds. Thru ought the summer they tend the watermelons as they grow. Grandpap doesn’t know what a wishing watermelon is and that is what Charlie is working for. Grandpap tries to guess what Charlie will wish for as they spend the summer together. They picnic by the garden, go fishing in the creek, play basketball and many other things. Charlie finally wishes for another summer just like this one with Grandpap.

 

Burg, Sarah Emmanuelle. The Secret of Love. Penguin Youn Readers Grou, c2006. ISBN 069840050X. unp. $11.00. Grades 4th-8th. (Q7, P6) Two friends come upon a single red heart flower, both want it and end up fighting over it and it

tears in two pieces. The children go their own way and realize they miss each other and both gather new seeds and present them to each other. Together they plant the seeds and grow a whole crop of red heart shaped flowers. This wordless book is a beautifully illustrated book about friendship and love. The colorless pencil drawings enhance the single red heart flower.

 

Pinto. Sara. Clockwise, A time-Telling Tale. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582346690. Unp. $16.95 Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P5) Thomas and his family is always busy, somewhere to go or something to do. Thomas does not know how to tell time and this presents a problem with him being ready to go. He visits a clock store where the clockmaker gives him a clock to help him learn to tell time. Starting with only the hour hand, learning to tell the hour, he progresses to the minute hand and succeeds in learning to tell not only the hour but the minutes also.

 

Rockwell, Anne. Backyard Bear. Ills. by Megan Hasley. Walker & Company, c2006. ISBN 0802795730. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P6) When baby bear and his mother wake up in the spring their lovely woods were being cut down and houses being built. Their lovely woods were gone and they had to find new ways to find their food. Into the backyards and trash cans they went. One day a mother called the state game warden that trapped the bears and sent them free into the woods again. This is a story about habitats and what happens when that is taken away. While this book does not solve any problems connected with numerous bears losing their habitat it does start young readers thinking about the subject.

 

Harley, Avis. Sea Stars Saltwater Poems. Ills. by Margaret Butschler. Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 1590784294. 36 Pgs. $16.95. Grades 1st-5th. (Q8, P6) A variety of poems (rhyming couplets, haiku, a list poem, and an acrostic) are used to capture the mood of the clear colorful photographs. Brief notes in the back give a short explanation of each creature. This book is a joy to read for not only the young but also for the adult reader.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Duncan, David Douglas. Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey. Bulfinch Press, 2006. $24.95. 0-8212-5810-9. Unp. Ages 10+: In 1957, Pablo Picasso adopted a dog during a visit from the artist’s photographer. Man and dog maintained a close relationship maintained a close relationship throughout the next 26 years with Picasso memorializing the little dog, who name means “little rascal,” in 45 paintings inspired by Velasquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas. The photographs provide an intimate look at Picasso at home with his two children, his last wife, and others close to him. It is my guess, however, that young readers will not find much of interest in this book. In addition, it fails to provide information about the artist that would help them understand either him or his art. P3Q8

 

Kirkpatrick, Katherine. The Snow Baby: The Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary’s Daring Daughter. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-1973-8. 50p. Ages 8-12: One would think that a picture book about a baby who was born on an icy bay in northern

Greenland and lived there part of her young life would be exciting. Sad to say, it isn’t. The photographs, while interesting, are sometimes small and too few to keep the browser fascinated. The text covers a great deal of Peary’s experiences; the book would have kept greater interest by concentrating on Marie Ahnighito Peary and using a simpler writing style. This will make a good addition to large collections, but hopefully someone will write a more accessible book for younger children. P4Q7

 

Levine, Gail Carson. Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly. Collins, 2006. $16.99. 0-06-051961-4. 167p. Ages 10+: The author of fantasies such as Ella Enchanted and Fairest has provided young readers with a book about writing fiction–or anything else. She shows the readers how they can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialog, develop memorable characters, and work toward being published. Her recommendations are upbeat, interesting, and useful. This would be an excellent book not only for young readers but also for teachers needed writing ideas and instruction. P5Q9

 

Picture Books

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld. The OK Book. HarperCollins, 2007. $12.99. 0-06-115255-2. Unp. Ages 3-5: Different black and white line configurations of “O” and “K” illustrate this delightful character who demonstrates that sometimes it’s acceptable to be just “OK” at things that you try. This is a charming book with a non-gender “person” who tries juggling, baseball, cooking, climbing, sledding, sharing, and other adventures. The moral of the story? It’s fun to figure out what the character will “be really excellent at” in the future. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Greene, Stephanie. Sophie Hartley, On Strike. Clarion, 2006. $15.00. 0-618-71960-1. 152p. Ages 8-11: Deciding that her older and younger brothers were favored in the household because she had to do more chores than they did, 9-year-old Sophie decided to follow her father’s lead at work when she strikes in this sequel to Queen Sophie Hartley. The author has provided a variety of characters in the five Hartley children from baby Maura, who rarely appears in the book, to 16-year-old Thad, whose charm gets him out of doing most work. The book has its charm, and the characters are distinctive with their actions believable for their ages, but there seems to be no resolution for the struggles that everyone has in trying to get someone else to do the housework. An average juvey novel. P5Q6

 

Lichtman, Wendy. Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra. Greenwillow, 2007. $15.99. 0-06-122955-5. 189p. Ages 10-13: Eighth-grader Tess uses algebra to solve her problems and correct her history teacher as well as a secret code in her journal. When she overhears her mother report that a friend may have killed his wife, she pursues the mystery and suffers through knowing that a classmate has stolen a state history test. The plotting is acceptable as is the characterization of Tess and her friends, Sammy and Miranda, but the math inserts detract from the flow of the book. The resolution is also quite weak when Tess’s mother decides that her friend didn’t kill his wife although there seems to be no proof either way. Only for the most dedicated of mathophiles. P5Q6

 

February Reviews K.R. WHS

Viswanathen, Kaavya. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2006.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of book that would appeal to many of my students. The notion that parents would spend years planning to send their daughter to Harvard is beyond them. To think that, after all the years of being a perfect student, Opal would have to learn how to be popular and how to have “fun” in order to be accepted—my students would have an easier time believing some of the fantasy novels they read. I also understand that there is some question about Viswanathen’s plagiarism of another popular novel. This is simply not one I would be comfortable with in my classroom. P: 5 or 6

 

James, Betsy. Listening at the Gate. Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York; 2006.

I am never comfortable reading a part of a trilogy; Listening at the Gate is the third and final of James “The Seekers” series. I am pleased to announce that this is definitely a stand-alone novel. It is also reminiscent of the ancient “vision quest” or “hero’s journey” archetypes in that Kat, an outcast from two cultures must go on a life-changing journey between cultures in order to save her world. One of the elements I enjoyed was James’ ability to create believable civilizations, complete with language and songs; another was her ability to write “poetically”. Because the book is “fat” many students will be discouraged from reading it before they even start; this will require teachers to encourage students to read it. If students will read it, they will be greatly rewarded. P: 7

 

Darrow, Sharon. Trash. Candlewick Press: Massachusetts, 2006.

Because of Darrow’s spare writing (formatted like poetry), many students will be attracted to this short novel. Like many Y.A. novels, this one deals with the tragic lives of its characters, Boy and Sissy, who have been shuffled from one foster home to another. Eventually, they begin tagging buildings which results in Boy’s death and Sissy’s fierce depression. It’s not a life-changing novel, but one that will appeal to a large segment of sophomores at local high schools. P: 8

 

Cardenas, Teresa, Letters to My Mother. Groundwood Books: Toronto, 1998.

What makes this book unusual is that it is a translation of a novel already popular in Cuba. It is a collection of letters written by an unnamed Cuban/African girl to her dead mother. Filled with tragedy with little hope, it’s the kind of novel that may help students to realize that things really could be worse in their own lives. Fortunately, it ends hopefully, on an upbeat note where the girl has found a boyfriend and is on her way to finding her papa. Note: there is a brief description of a sexual encounter, so that, although the girl is about 10 at the beginning of the book, I would not recommend it for younger students than 9th grade. P: 8

 

Fiedler, Lisa. Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story. Henry Holt and Company: New York 2003.

At Waldport High School, we are currently not teaching Romeo and Juliet. However, if we were going to do it again, this is the novel I would read aloud to my class before starting. Fiedler has done a fine job of writing in a style similar to Shakespeare’s (I suspect even he would approve) as she tells the story of how Rosaline fortunately escaped the flattery of the Capulets and Montagues, how she intends to study medicine, and how she eventually comes to appreciate and love Benvolio. Her story makes a nice contrast between the kinds of love treated in Shakespeare’s play and what appears to be a more devoted, deeper love between two young people. The story of Romeo and Juliet is moved into the background while each chapter is told from another character’s point of view.P: 9

 

Marino, Peter. Dough Boy. Holiday House: New York; 2005.

People who have weight problems can be very funny; they can also have very sensitive natures that seem to attract cruelty. Tristan is one of those teens who has weight control issues, but as long as he and his friend Marcos (who is very popular) are together, life is okay. Unfortunately, after his parents’ divorce, Tristan discovers cruelty in Kelly, his mothers’ boyfriend’s daughter. She focuses on Tristan in ways that are downright mean and destructive to what little self-esteem he has. In the end, he finally must leave that toxic environment and live with his father, who helps with Tristan’s self esteem and brings his sense of humor back. Tristan’s problems with weight remain, adding realism to the story, and hopefully adding sensitivity to the novel’s readers. P: 7

 

Schultz, Samantha. I Don’t Want to be Crazy. Scholastic Inc.: New York. 2006

This autobiography teaches a great lesson: You can have fears, but you cannot let your fears control you; they only hold you back. The novel, written in a poem-style can be hard to follow. Although the pages are shorter, the author can jump very quickly from one event in her life to another which can leave the reader confused. However, it also gives the reader a sense of the intensity of the emotions Samantha suffers while trying to come to grips with the anxiety attacks that complicate her life.

P: 7

 

Walter Dean Myers. Autobiography of My Dead Brother. Harper Tempest: New York. 2005.

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have completed a complex, very “real” story of two “blood brothers, Jesse and Rise who are associated with various gang members in their community. Jesse is a budding cartoonist who maintains a regular journal about “Spodi Roti and Wise” as he tries to make sense of the world around him. At one point he complains that, because of Rise’s personality changes, Jesse cannot draw his friend/brother because “I don’t know who Rise is any more.”

Students of mine who have read this novel have suggested strongly that I use it for a read aloud in class. The illustrations are large enough and drawn well enough that I think I could successfully use it for my 10th grade classes. A.T. said, “I highly recommend this book because it shows how teen problems can snowball, and more importantly how friends can pull together to help each other and stay out of trouble.” P: 9

 

Butler, S.C. Reiffen’s Choice. A Tom Doherty Associates Book: New York. 2006. (Book One of the Stoneways Trilogy)

I think I have already indicated my frustration with series books; maybe I should qualify my feelings by saying that usually by the time the books come out in paperback, I can purchase the entire collection to enjoy. Too often there is a lengthy period between my reading a novel and its companion books being printed or I find myself reading the novels out of order. Once in a great while the following novels are stand-alones; I hate it when they are not. Thus, I asked one of my students to review this fantasy novel. A.M said, “Butler did a good job with detail in this book; the words put a very detailed picture of this very imaginative world and characters into my head. Even though he did a good job describing things, I thought that it slowed the story down and it caused me to lose interest midway through the book. Making up for it all, though, whatever any mistakes he had, there was a twist ending that made me wonder what would happen the next book titled Queen Ferris. I would recommend for anyone that likes fantasy books to read this one; it was definitely a good first book for S. C. Butler.” P: 7

 

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins. Dial Books for Young Readers: New York; 2005.

The most notable characteristic of this picture book are the wonderful chalk illustrations done in browns, oranges, and sienna. The help to convey the message of the story as if it were part of a long-wished-for dream come true. The story is told from the perspective of a young black girl whose older brother and sister become participants in the sit-ins and protest marches of the early 60’s. Even Dr. Martin Luther King is given credit for his work. At the end of the book is an author’s note that explains further the events of the 60’s and gives the names of those involved. A way to bring history into the lives of younger children. P: 8

 

Retold by Aaron Shepard. One-Eye! Two Eyes! Three Eyes! A very Grimm Fairy Tale.”Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York. 2007.

This tale is very similar to Cinderella where two wicked step-sisters persecute their younger sister—the one with two eyes. First of all, they feed her very little and later, when a fairy godmother rescues her, they chase away the goat that provides two-eyes with enough to eat. Later, a handsome (two-eyed) prince enters the picture and because he and Two eyes have so-o-o much in common, they live happily ever after.

I did not like this book because the artwork is not very artistic (badly drawn) and the message seems to be that it’s okay to treat others poorly if they look different from ourselves. A better message would have been tolerance for and from all three sisters. P: 4 or 5

 

Wiesner, David. Flotsam. Clarion Books: New York; 2006.

Like his book, Tuesday, this is a wordless picture book that begins even before the title page which is full of things one might logically find on the beach. In the story, a young boy is playing at the beach when he finds an underwater camera. He takes out and prints the film; to his astonishment there are amazing, fantastical creatures (and even aliens) in the ocean. What surprises him most is a picture within a picture within a picture that he finally copies, allowing the ocean creatures later to come take the camera and its treasures to the seashore in another part of the world. In this case, a picture truly IS worth a thousand words. A keeper for anyone who has an imagination. P: 10

 

Geisert, Arthur. Oops. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston; 2006.

From the inside cover, “They say you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk, but what if it destroys your hole house?” Another wordless picture book (I collect these, by the way) that tells a delightful story of how one small event triggers a series of chain reactions—a la Rube Goldberg. The pen-and-ink illustrations are carefully detailed and worth the time it takes to really “see” the events as they occur. Though the end is a disaster, the family takes it well. P: 8

 

Brown, Lisa. How to Be. Harper Collins Publishers: New York. 2006.

Although the reader is taught how to be a bear, a turtle, a snake, a dog, a spider, and a monkey in two-word phrases, it’s when the “How to be a Person” section comes up that one learns how to “Be Yourself.” The illustrations are simple and the printing so easy to read, that this could easily be a word-less picture book. This is a useful book to have on hand for 2-3 year-olds who are learning kinesthetically. P: 8

 

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road? Dial Books for Young Readers: New York 2006.

Fourteen artists share their unique talents as they humorously answer this question with unusual answers. V-e-r-r-y enjoyable, nearly wordless picture book. Could be used in elementary art session where students can learn that each one of us has different perspectives and styles. No one who “reads” this book will ever feel “made” to draw red flowers on green stems in planter boxes again.

P:10

 

Garland, Michael. Miss Smith Reads Again. Dutton Children’s Books; 2006.

Like the short story “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, students are warned to leave the creatures and events in the stories Miss Smith reads alone or “You’ll change the story and it won’t end the way it should! The story has to end—otherwise it won’t go back into the book.” The idea is better than the way the concept is worked out. The children interfere as Miss Smith reads and must rescue her from a dinosaur’s nest. At the end of the story (which feels as if the author simply ran out of imagination) one of the dinosaur eggs is left behind from the book, cracks open, and the baby pterodactyl flies away. So?

The illustrations are cartoonish, but richly colored and are certainly more inviting than the story turns out to be. P: 6 or 7

 

Rowe, John Alfred. J. A. Teddy. Penguin Young Readers Group: New York; 2006.

This quirky, but uneven picture book is the story of how Captain Skallywag manages to find and rescue all of the lost teddy bears from the giant ogre who keeps them locked up in his castle. The illustrations are complex and most elementary schoolers will enjoy looking at them. Besides the young Captain, there are also pictures of fairies, pixies, and goblins who manage to help. Just a note: the illustrator’s use of the color red is somewhat jarring in his pictures and his drawing style is European rather than American. A very interesting combination of story and pictures that will enthrall some and be “off-putting” to others. P: 7 or 8

 

Almond, David and Stephen Lambert. Kate, the Cat and the Moon. Doubleday Book for Young Readers: New York; 2004.

I am a fan of David Almond’s; this poetically written story of a girl who changes one night into a cat to dance beneath the white moon, does not disappoint. The colored pencil drawings are very simple yet not cartoonish. The white cat that calls to Kate is as white as the moon, as are the other “dreams” that float by in the night. In the morning, as Kate’s family discusses their own dreams from the night, Kate has a special secret of her own. A lovely picture books for a bedtime story. P: 8 or 9

 

The Brothers Grimm. Little Red Cap, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Penguin Young Readers Group: New York; 1987.

The story is a traditional retelling of the Little Red Ridinghood story with very German-looking watercolor illustrations. The colors are toned down by a brownish wash the highlights the little girl’s red cap and makes all but the wolf appear friendly and warm. The wolf, on the other hand, looks just as sinister as can be; it is only because of the Santa Claus-looking woodcutter that the old woman and Little Red Cap are saved. This is a good reminder of how important it is not only to follow directions, but also to be a good neighbor and care about others. P: 8 or 9

 

Michaelson, Richard. Across the Alley. G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York; 2006.

Although during the daytime, Abe, a Jewish boy, and Willie, a black boy, do not play together, at night they are best friends. Each has an adult in his life who has great expectations for them, but it isn’t until Grandpa catches the boys exchanging a baseball for a violin, that both families come to realize that “Ignorance comes in as many colors as talent.” Together the boys and their families walk together in the sunshine to the temple where Willie plays the violin like Jascha Heifetz and Abe pitches like Satchel Paige and one more prejudice is conquered. P: 8 or 9

 

Rosoff, Meg. Just in Case. Wendy Lamb Books: New York.; 2006.

I’ve been waiting for several weeks to write my review os this novel because it is both dark and difficult to explain. It is the story of David (who changes his name to Justin) because the moment he saves his little brother Charlie from falling out a window, he realizes how helpless he is in his own life to avoid Fate. And Fate itself is a part of the novel, complete with asides (schizophrenia?) and a determination to catch up to Justin before he has a chance to live a real life. With the compassion of his brother, the kindness of another cross-country runner, a scary girlfriend, and an invisible dog, Justin is just barely able to put off Fate for six months. The book is disturbingly wonderful, difficult to put down, and very very hard to wrap around into a few brief comments. P: 9 or 10

 

Sturtevant, Katherine. A True and Faithful Narrative. Farrar Straus Giroux: New York; 2006.

I liked this book, but perhaps not for the right reasons. It is one of the few I have read that intelligently discusses the writing process—along with numerous other Very Important Issues that ring true for 17th Century England and America today. Meg Moore wants to be a writer, but cannot do so because of the constraints of the culture she lives in; yet, when given the opportunity to write, includes all of the prejudices and fictions that she has heard of the Muslims. These are important because Edward, a friend (and herein in most of the romance of the book) is captured and she must find a way to finance his way home. The other reason I liked this book is that Meg is NOT centuries ahead of her time as a feminist, though she is stubborn to a fault. Meg is the kind of character that fits within the society in which she lives and must deal with the unfairness it affords her. I like that she isn’t a 21st century woman and that at 16 she has to decide between two young men. Not a marvelous book, but one I enjoyed reading. P: 9 or 10

 

Schlosser, Eric and Charles Wilson. Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food. Houghton Mifflin: Boston; 2006.

Last summer I asked my pre-AP English students to read Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation. Although most of the students enjoyed it, I know that many were frustrated by the technology and the references to statistics. This book, written for even younger students and dotted with photographs, is still the kind of book every reader of non-fiction should be familiar with.

Schlosser writes about the fast food industry from its beginnings until now and includes the horrors of the meat and vegetable production that support it. His prejudices are obvious from the first; they are ones students need to know. Fast food, which they seem to enjoy, is not created in a vacuum. Animals are treated cruelly and children are manipulated psychologically to demand :”Happy Meals.” While Schlosser does not create a “happy book” he does open the door for discussion and better decision-making. P:8 or maybe even 10

 

Book Reviews from A.G. LCSD Indian Ed Feb. 1, 2007

Deatusch, Stacia & Rhody Cohon. Illus. by David Wenzel. Blast to the Past: Sacagawea’s Strength. NY: Alladin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster), 2006. $3.99 124 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-1270-3 P7/Q7 This adventure story mixes science fiction with history, taking a group of elementary age students on a time travel back to the Lewis and Clark expedition. The challenge in this series of “Blast to the Past” books is for the kids to convince certain key people in history to not “quit”. In the process, they learn what that person contributed to history. To the story’s credit, Sacagewea’s contribution is stated with the ambivalence many Indian people feel. Had it not been for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the “manifest destiny” of the white people may not have been so quick to destroy the native cultures. It is also explained that the expedition’s promise in the trade for the Shoshone’s horses was not kept. The role Sacajawea played in keeping the expedition on track and convincing the Shoshone to help them is given as key to the success of the trip. The story also emphasizes the importance of cartography, and begins with a social studies lesson in map-making. This sometimes dry subject is given life through this story. The subject is apt, the vocabulary is easy, and the story is fast-moving and has young characters with which readers could relate.

 

Carvell, Marlene. Sweetgrass Basket. Ages 10 up P7/Q8 Mohawk sisters Mattie and Sarah are sent to Carlisle Indian School from their home at Akwasasne in upstate New York. Their mother has died, and their father wants them to go to school. This tear-jerker of a novel written in free verse brings alive the heart-breaking situation of Indian boarding school students in the military-style setting of the 19th century boarding schools. The sweetgrass basket made by the girls’ mother to “hold their womanly thoughts” is an apt metaphor for their culture squashed by the boarding school. Fortunately, not all the adults in the story are evil, and it ends with some hope in the humanity of others. The story is a quick and easy read due to the loose free-verse.

 

Katz, William Loren. Black Indians. NY: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2005 (orig. pub. 1986). $10.00 ages 11 up ISBN 0-689-80901-8 P8/Q9 Great that this work has been republished! This is a valuable history that is lively and interesting reading, bringing out the Indian background to a number of groups and individuals who are most notably thought of as Black throughout history. Reasons for the mixture of blood in different places and times is explained. This work had a great

impact when it was first released. It still has a great deal to offer, and should be in every high school library.

 

Abrahams, Peter. Behind the Curtain. NY: Harper Collins, 2006. $15.99 346 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-06-073705-0 P8/Q8 This Echo Falls mystery is a page-turner. Middle school student Ingrid uncovers a steroid-dealing ring. Her ill-tempered father is, at the same time, competing with a newcomer at work who ends up being assistant coach for Ingrid’s soccer team. The story moves along well, giving clues and red herrings enough to keep the reader guessing (but guessing well) right up to the end. Issues about steroid use by student athletes are given a profile. This mystery should appeal to elementary as well as middle school students, and even high school students. The worst part of this book is its unfortunate choice of cover art; while the metaphor of the Wizard of Oz is apt for the book’s storyline, the specifics depicted on the cover are lost on the average reader, and the impression is off-putting.

 

Ziegler, Jennifer. Alpha Dog. NY: Delacourte Press (Random House), 2006. $7.95 320 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-385-73285-6 P8/Q8 Seventeen-year-old Katie is off to a summer program at a college in another town. What she can’t shake is her mother’s smothering control. She agrees with everything her mother tells her and does her best to follow, but it’s time to develop some independence. Dealing with her mother is only one of the things she needs to learn; she also has a ways to go in knowing how to handle other social relationships, from boyfriends to roommate. The learning aid in this story is her adopted puppy, who teaches her the necessity of asserting herself and being Alpha Dog. The story is smooth and a fast read, keeps interesting without being outlandish, and is apt in its illustration of common missteps. A very enjoyable story.

 

Kaslik, Ibi. Skinny. NY: Walker and Co., 2006 (first pub. in Canada in 2004 by Harper Collins). $16.95 244 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-8027-9608-7 P6/Q7 This story about a disturbed anorexic girl going to medical school is a bit odd, and certainly dark. The author explores, through the narration of Giselle and her healthy (though partially deaf) younger sister Holly, the origins of her family trauma that might have led to her anorexia. By the end of the story, Giselle’s odd relationship with men and expanding physical problems are as complex as the story of her parents’ getting together. The writing is well done, and the story has plenty of interest, but it is very dark and has a very dark ending. It might serve as a warning for girls who are too concerned with their weight, but it is not a blazing sign toward that cause.

 

Windsor, Patricia. Nightwood. NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2006. $7.95 243 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-385-73312-7 P8/Q7 This horror story has all the typical “scary teen movie” ingredients—peer pressure to attend an unauthorized party, oddball types, a heroine who is relatively innocent, build-up to a drastically gory horror scenario at an isolated lakeside community. The story reads well and quickly, the buildup is well done (though slightly predictable with this genre), and the ending is fine. It goes a bit over the top on the gore, but since you don’t

have to see it, what the heck. This should appeal to a teen who likes scary stories to read for fun.

 

DePaolo, Tomie. Little Grunt and the Big Egg: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006 (art & original pub. 1990). $16.99 30 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-24529-4 P9/Q8 This story doesn’t appear to have been changed from the original publication, although presumably the text is at least a little different. This new release will appeal to a whole new generation of children. The imaginative stretch that makes it a fairy tale is that people and dinosaurs are living at the same time period. Little Grunt’s pet baby dinosaur grows up to annoy everyone around him until disaster in the form of an erupting volcano hits. The dinosaur’s annoying qualities become the tribe’s saving grace when he rescues them from the hot lava. The art is fun and the typeface readable. The story has been around long enough that one can find reading comprehension activities based on it on the internet (the first I found was for 3rd grade). With the re-release, the publisher puts the target age group as 3-5, but it should continue to appeal to the older children.

 

Durant, Alan. Burger Boy. Illus. by Mei Matsuoka. NY: Clarion Books, 2006 (1st pub in Great Britain 2005). $16.00 ages 2-8 ISBN 0-618-71466-9 P9/Q9 Finicky eaters should be read this book about a boy who will eat nothing but hamburgers. “If that’s all you eat, you’ll turn into one,” is the tagline. With very cute graphics and endpapers as well as an engaging story, this has been consistently the favorite story among 4-7 year olds I’ve tried it on.

 

March 2007 Reviews

 

Book Reviews, March 2007 C.B. INMS/NMS

Bondoux, Anne-Laure, The princetta, translated by Anthea Bell, Bloomsbury, New York, 2004, 430 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:158234924X, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

I read Bondoux’s novel The killer tears and found it to be a difficult read. This book was total enjoyment. The story starts with the forced marriage of the 15-year-old Princetta Malva, who wants to have control of her own future. She escapes in a wine barrel the night before her marriage and her adventure begins. Middle and high school age students will love this fantasy adventure brought to us from France.

 

Collins, Linda, Star-crossed, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006, 408 pgs., glossary, map, $16.95, ISBN:0375833633, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

Patricia Kelly has lived the last 10 years in a boarding school in 18th century England. Now her father has died and left her the plantation in Barbados. With no funds to make her way to Barbados Patricia stows away aboard a merchant ship. She is discovered and the captain has her become an apprentice to the ships surgeons to pay her way.

This unconventional life for a woman soon appeals to Patricia and we find her climbing the rigging of the ship in men’s clothing. This adventure in the first person narrative will appeal to an older audience which loves historical novels.

 

Jennings, Patrick, Wish riders, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2006, 276 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:1423100107, Gr. 8 +, P 7 , Q 7,

Set in a logging camp during the depression 15-year-old Edith struggles to survive her life as a foster child, which is more like slave labor. When a magical seed pod is dropped to Edith, by a bird Edith’s life starts to change. Growing from the seed pods are five horses which Edith and her foster brother and sisters use to escape to a better life. This fantasy book will appeal to older reader.

 

Kirkpatrick, Katherine, Escape Across the Wide Sea, Holiday House, New York, 2004, 210 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0823418545, Gr. 5+, P7, Q7.

In 1686, Daniel Bonnet and his family escaped Catholic France, where they are persecuted for their Huguenot Protestant religion. Daniel, during the escape is bayoneted by a French soldier which handicaps, him for life, during their three year voyage to Guadeloupe. Again they are persecuted for their religion by the French soldiers and they have to escape to New York. This unique book told in the first narrative, gives a first hand look into 16th century France and colonial America. History buffs will be drawn to this book.

 

Lorbieck, Marybeth, Jackie’s bat, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, unp., $15.95, ISBN:0689841027, Gr.2+, P7, Q7,

This is a multi faceted book, which could be used in elementary classroom to discuss such topics as discrimination, black history month, and sports heroes. Using muted colored illustration, the relationship between Jackie Robinson, his fans and the bat boy are portrayed. It is Jackie’s ability to overcome odds against him that finally wins him a place in the hearts of his fans and the bat boy, which makes this book appealing to all.

 

Ryan, Amy, Shadowfalls, Delacorte Press, New York, 2005, 216 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0385731329, Gr.9+, P7, Q7.

15 year old Annie McGraw goes to the Jackson Hole valley in Wyoming after her brother fell to his death during a climbing accident, to live with her grandfather. Here Annie traverses the valley where her Talisman (the bear) is soon communicating with her. Annie must come to terms with the grief that is weighing her down and fulfill the dreams of climbing the mountains in which she resides. This poignant novel which deals with grief could be used by those who have suffered similar losses.

 

Winthrop, Elizabeth, Counting on Grace, Wendy Lamb Books, 2006, 232 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:038574644X, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

Grace Forcier and her family have settled in Vermont after leaving their farm in Canada to find work in the factories and have a better life. The factories however have become a hole which the family can not escape from. They owe money for the factory house and to the factory market for the food they have to buy here. When Grace turns twelve she to must go and work in the factory, leaving behind school and her dreams of becoming a teacher. In this story set in 1910 Grace comes to see that her way out the factories is education and that with it she can help her family too. This novel will appeal to those readers who enjoy historical fiction.

 

Wulf, Linda, The Night of the Burning: Devorah’s Story, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2006, 210 pgs, glossary, $16.00, ISBN:0374364192, Gr.8+, P7, Q8.

1920 in a Polish village, the Russian Cossacks attack the Jewish populous killing all except for eleven-year-old Devorah and her sister Nechama. Placed in an orphanage the two sisters survive until Isaac Ochberg, from South Africa comes and takes them to a new life in South Africa. The two sisters are eventually adopted into two different families, and must come to terms with their different situation, one being poor, but loved, the other being rich and snobbish. This historical based novel will appeal to an older audience.

 

Picture Books

Coste, Marion, Finding Joy, illustrated by Yong Chen, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN1590781929, Gr. 1+, P7, Q8.

This book could be used in discussing adoption, families, and the love of children. The message portrayed when Shu-li is found is; “Please care take care of her, No Room for Girls”. Yong Chen’s watercolor illustrations portray Shu-li’s journey from one loving parents arms to another’s arms in another land. An authors note at the end of the story talks about China’s policy of one child, and how boys traditionally take care of their parents.

 

Hawes, Louise, Muti’s necklace: the oldest story in the world, illustrated by Rebecca Guay, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006, unp, $16.00, ISBN:0618535837, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,

Muti is thirteen when she leaves her fathers home in Egypt to serve in the pharaoh’s household. Muti also takes with her the necklace her father had carved for her as a baby. Soon Muti catches the pharaoh’s eye and becomes a rower for him on his barge. Muti, leads the others in rowing and the pharaoh watches her. When Muti drops her necklace and refuses to go on till the necklace is found. Rebecca Guay misty muted water color illustrations bring the story to life. This fairy tale will appeal to young readers. Teachers planning an Egyptian unit will find this book a great read a-loud to start the unit with.

 

Rees, Douglas, Grandy Thaxter’s Helper, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2004, unp, $15.95, ISBN:06898 30203, Gr. 3+, P7, Q7.

Grandy Thaxter is busy taking care of her grandchildren, when Mr. Death comes a knocking. It is Grandy Thaxter’s time to go, but she is to busy as Mr. Death soon finds out as she puts him to work. He is so worn out by the end of the book, he is going to come and get her another day. This book may appeal to young readers, but the message that is given that cheating death through hard work is not true.

 

Would, Nick, The Scarab’s secret, illustrated by Christina Balit, Walker & Company, New York, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0802795617, Gr. 3+, P , Q,

The scarab beetle in the Egyptian culture is considered sacred. The Pharaoh visits his tomb one day and his life is saved by following this small beetle. Balit’s bright colorful drawings depict the building of the pharaoh’s tomb and will draw the reader further into this story. Both young and old will find this story a delight to read. Any unit that a teacher is planning on Egypt will find this book a great read to introduce the topic of Egypt.

 

Short Stories

Scary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California, 2006, 182 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0811854140, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

This is a collection of 20 stories featuring various writers. From The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to, The Cremation of Sam McGee, this collection will appeal to middle and high school students, who have a vivid imagination. Barry Mosers’ engravings illustrate the chilling factors of each story.

 

Non Fiction

Allan, Nicholas, Where Willy Went…The big story of a little sperm, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004, unp, $15.95, ISBN:0375830308, Gr. 5+, P8, Q8.

What a fun book! Willy was a little sperm who had a big job ahead of him. It is a clearly entertaining book that shows the process of reproduction. It is written and illustrated in a way that will appeal to all ages. This book appropriately shows the reproduction system in a way that parents and teachers would not object to.

 

Burgan, Michael, The 19th amendment, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2006, 48 pgs, glossary, index, ISBN:0756512603, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

This book deals with the women’s movement and the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. It features infamous women such as, Elizabeth Candy Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony. The achievements that women went through are

discussed in clear and accurate detail. Photos and posters are featured through out the text for students to see the challenges women faced. This book would be a great addition to any elementary library.

 

Demi, Mary. Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2006, unp, $19.95, ISBN:0689876920, Gr.6+, P7, Q8.

Drawing upon Biblical references, The Lost Books of the Bible, The King James Version, The Life of Mary as seen by Mystics, Demi tells the story of Mary’s life and her Ascension to glory. This is a beautifully illustrated book, but the climate surrounding a public school library collection is less tolerant of book of this nature, then a public library collection. This might be a controversial book in a public school collection.

 

Ingpen, Robert, The Voyage of the Poppykettle, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, Penquin Young Readers Group, New York, 2005, unp, $15.99, ISBN:0698400259, Gr. 4+, P7, Q8.

This is a tale from Australia, where the children of the Geelong celebrate Poppykettle Day every October. Ingpen has brought the tale to life not only with his rich illustrations, but fervent reverence for the story and culture. This folk tale will appeal to children who love stories from other lands, and would fit in nicely with a teacher’s curriculum in folk tales.

 

Rodriguez, Rachel, Through Georgia’s eyes, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0805077405, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

This book features the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe. It starts with her younger years and goes through adulthood, describing how she was influenced by nature and the world around her. Julie Pachkis uses cut-paper collages to illustrate O’Keeffe’s work. This book used in the elementary setting could spark an interest for beginning blooming artists.

 

Book Reviews March, 2007 Reviews by S.J., Isaac Newton Magnet School

Elisa Carbone. BLOOD ON THE RIVER. Viking, 2006. $16.99. ISBN 0-670-06060-7. 237 p. Gr 5-8. P 9 Q 9 Eleven-year-old Samuel, an orphan in 1600’s England, is given in to the care of Reverend Hunt who is about to journey to the New World. Samuel is then made page to Captain John Smith and travels with Hunt, Smith, and other colonists to found Jamestown. Samuel learns from Smith an appreciation and manner of dealing with the native peoples as well as the skills necessary to survive in the New World. I find the cover to be misleading. It portrays two Powhatans surveying the settlement, implying

somehow that the story stems from their point of view. In fact, the opposite is true and the plotline reflects the English perspective.

 

T.K. Welsh. THE UNRESOLVED. Dutton Books, 2006. $16.99. ISBN 0-525-47731-4. 149 p. Gr. 7 and up. P 7 Q 8 In June, 1904, New Yorkers experienced a horrifying tragedy. The steamship, Slocum, burned and 1,000 passengers perished. The Unresolved is the story presented from Mallory’s point of view. Mallory was a 15-year-old passenger who died in the tragedy and she narrates this tale of the fire, her death, the following investigation and outcome. It’s a historic fiction novel told with a supernatural point of view as Mallory must linger until justice is done. This novel is suitable for a high school collection.

 

Jennifer Armstrong. THE AMERICAN STORY: 100 True Tales from American History. Il. Roger Roth. Alfred A. Knopt, 2006, $34.95. ISBN 0-375-81256-3. 347 p. Gr. 4-7. P6 Q 7 This is a collection of 100 essays about all things American. Including personalities like Carrie Nation, Bobby Fischer, Ben Franklin, and Maya Lin this book provides an abbreviated, yet concise version of their tales. Not only does it include abbreviated biographies, but information and overview of events like the first permanent North American settlement by Europeans in Fort Caroline to the election of 2000, the Chicago fire, and eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It provides a sampling of Americana as well as history. Organized chronologically and divided into themes it’s a collection many middle grade teachers of US history will want.

 

Gary Paulsen. THE LEGEND OF BASS REEVES: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valient Marshal in the West. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. $15.95. ISBN 0-385-74661-X. 137 p. Gr. 5 – 8. P 10 Q 10 Paulsen demonstrates genuine adoration for his title character, Bass Reeves, a runaway slave who lived among the Creek Indians in Indian Territory prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. Reeves, a real Wild West figure, became a rancher then deputy in the Indian Territory. He was credited for bringing in thousands of fugitives and surviving 14 gunfights. He even served the warrant on his own son. Paulsen interspersed his narrative account of what may have happened to Reeves with what is actually known while making a fascinating read.

 

Katharine Boling. JANUARY 1905. Harcourt Inc., 2004. $16.00. ISBN 0-15-205119-8. 170 p. Gr. 4-7. P 7 Q 7 In a turn of the century mill town twin sisters envy each other’s lives. Pauline works in the cotton mill and is jealous of her sister’s ability to stay home and enjoy leisurely days. Arlene, born with a club foot, cannot work the mill and must stay home to

maintain the house and fix all meals. She longs to interact with others and earn money for the family in the mill. The harsh realities of life in a mill town are explored in this narrative told from each sister’s point of view in alternating chapters.

 

Joanne Bell. BREAKING TRAIL. A Groundwood Book, 2005. $15.95. ISBN 0-88899-630-6. 135 p. Gr 5 – 7. P 6 Q 7 Becky feels at a loss as her father sinks into a severe depression; she wants to help him regain his old self, but she isn’t sure how. Becky remembers good times as her father’s helper learning to care for the dogs in his sled-dog team. She resolves to raise and train her own team and is convinced that her actions will assist her father in overcoming depression. Breaking Trail is the story of Becky and her family’s trek to their summer cabin where she combats her own sense of insecurity and place in the family that is plagued by her father’s mental illness.

 

Sofia Nordin. IN THE WILD. A Groundwood Book, 2003. $15.95. ISBN 0-88899-648-9. 115 p. Gr. 4 – 7. P 7 Q 8 Sixth grader, Amanda, is the brunt of her classmates’ jokes. She doesn’t fit in and they continually remind her of that, so the last place she wants to be is on a week-long adventure trip with them. Miserably ostracized she attends the school sponsored excursion only to be swept down river on the rafting trip by out of control white water. She’s stranded with Philip her primary tormentor. In their ensuing days together, Philip demonstrates respect for Amanda’s survival abilities and she learns that friendship with him is possible. Readers who liked Hatchet and other survival stories will be drawn to this novel. They will find a unique twist when they discover it is told from the point of view of the class scapegoat.

 

Lucy Jane Bledsoe. THE ANTARCTIC SCOOP. Holiday House, 2003. $16.95. ISBN 0-8234-1792-1. 168 p. Gr 4 – 7. P 5 Q 5 Trapped in school and only twelve years old, Victoria dreams of astronomy, space, and time travel yet finds herself grounded and in trouble for her vivid imaginings. She’s disconnected from her classmates and more into computers than friendships when she finds she’s won a science contest and is the recipient of a trip to Antarctica. Along the way Victoria discovers that the people sponsoring the trip don’t have the unblemished continent’s best interests at heart. Victoria is able to thwart their schemes and still achieve her dreams of meeting and assisting a premiere astronomer.

 

JT Petty. THE SQUAMPKIN PATCH: A Nasselrogt Adventure. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. $15.95. ISBN-13 978-1-4169-0274-4. 250 p. Gr. 4 – 7. P 9 Q 8 In the tradition of a Series of Unfortunate Events, The Squampkin Patch, follows the misadventures of two siblings as they mistakenly believe their parents have died. First

they are forced into labor in a cruel orphanage/zipper factory and then, after they make their escape they inhabit an abandoned home where a series of strange events unfold. If the current trend in children’s fiction is gloom and doom stories then this one fills the bill, but falls short with this reviewer as any sort of satisfying fare.

 

Book Reviews by B.R. Yaquina View Elementary March 2007

Steinhofel, Andreas. An Elk Dropped In. Ills. by Kerstin Meyer. ISBN 1932425802. 80 Pgs. $16.95. Grades 2nd-4th. (Q5, P6) This Christmas story, translated from German, gives a different spin on Father Christmas, Santa Claus, than any other I have ever read. Mr. Moose is on a trial run for Santa, real reindeer is much too dainty for such risky business, crashes through the roof of Billy Wagner’s house. Where he lands on the kitchen table bought from Ikea. He injuries his leg and stays till it heals and Father Christmas comes to collect him. This story deals with not only the myth of Father Christmas, is he real or not, and the situation of divorce in the family. I question, is it alright to portray Father Christmas as being able to reunite Mom and Dad? Is that giving hope to children that might not be there? The book also pictures a moose and even calls him Mr. Moose, but continues to say he is an elk.

 

Baum, Louis. The Mouse Who Braved Bedtime. Ills. by Sue Hellard. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582346917. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P6) Milo, the mouse, has nightmares every night and couldn’t seem to get rid of them. His friends all give him suggestions of what to do before he went to bed at night. Although Milo followed the suggestions, he still continued to have the bad dreams. A cup of warm milk, open a window for fresh air, exercising, nothing helped him sleep. He finally faced his bad dream one night and found out that it was just a tiny field mouse that had been trying to wake Milo to play each night.

 

Hutchins, Pat. Bumpety Bump. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0060560002 Unp. $16.89. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q4, P6) A boy and his grandfather take the wheelbarrow to the garden to pick vegetables and fruits as the little red hen follow them. When they get to the end the little red hen leads them to the hen house to show them she can lay eggs. The illustrations are colorful and show not only the plants above ground they also show the root systems of the plants. This book could be used with a unit on growing plants and vegetables. As a read aloud book the text flows easily except for a couple of pages where the rhyming seems to disappear.

 

Cooper Elisha. A Good Night Walk. Orchard Books, c2006. ISBN 0439687837 Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) “Let’s go for a walk along the block, and see what we can see, before it’s time for bed.” This opening sentence sets the stage for an adventure walking in the neighborhood. The neighbor has finished her gardening and is sitting on her wheelbarrow. Squirrels are running, the cat resting under the apple tree, the smell of apple pie, are but a few of the normal everyday happenings in a neighborhood. When they get to the end of the block and reverse their walk, the neighborhood is settling down to sleep. The pie has been eaten, the cat and squirrels are asleep, and the neighbor has gone in for the evening. The watercolor illustrations are simple but children will enjoy looking for the happenings which the text describes. A great bedtime story for settling down.

 

Gibbons, Gail. Groundhog Day!. Holiday House, c2006. ISBN 0823420035 32 pgs. $16.95. Grades PreS-5th. (Q7, P5) While Groundhog Day isn’t a large holiday, Gail Gibbons has written a wonderfully fun and informative book about it. She begins with the history for its beginnings and follows up with lots of information about groundhogs. In the back of the book she has included a page on digging up groundhog facts. The illustrations range from showing groundhogs peeking up out of the snowy February ground, the presenting of the groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., to the groundhogs underground living chambers and finally children celebrating the holiday. A wonderful book for teaching about Groundhog Day.

 

Rawlinson, Julia. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves. Ills. by Tiphanie Beeke. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0061134015. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P7) Fall has arrived and Fletcher, the baby fox, is worried watching the leaves fall off his favorite tree. He tries to tie a leaf back on with a piece of grass, stick a leaf back on with a twig, and then he finds that others use the discarded leaves for themselves. When he finally realizes he cannot save the leaves he takes one to his den and carefully tucks it into bed with him. At dawn he wakes up to a cold morning and finds the tree beautiful and shinning with ice. This book would be great to lead into a teaching unit for autumn.

 

Krensky Stephen, Hanukkah at Valley Forge. Ills by Greg Harlin. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525477381. Unp. $17.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q7, P5) December, 1778, at Valley Forge was cold and miserable for George Washington and his troops. They were fighting for America. Washington unexpectedly sees a soldier lighting a candle. The soldier explains that he is celebrating Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday. He goes on to tell how the Maccabees and the Greeks fought during ancient times. Washington and the soldier talk about the similarities between their ancient fight and the current War of Independence. The author’s note tells that the story is based on facts but the story must be taken on faith as there is no written documentation from Washington himself. This story would be appropriate for history and religious classes.

 

Post, Peggy & Cindy Post Senning, ED.D. Emily’s Everyday Manners. Ills. By Steve B. Jorkman. Harper Collins, c2006. ISBN 0060761741. Unp. &16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P6) An updated version of good manners, this book will be fun to read to young children and create a dialog about their own manners. Not only the text promotes good manners, the cheerful illustrations will help reinforce them. It also gives examples of how and when to use those manners. An after word to adults explains that parents not only need to tell children about using good manners that if they don’t show them they will not learn.

 

Cooper, Elisha. Bear Dreams. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0060874287 Unp. &16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q5, P7) Bear is not ready to sleep and goes outside to play with the other animals. He wants to do what they do, race with the rabbits, wrestle with the moose, climb trees, and fly with the geese. When the other animals are tired Bear still wants to play. Finally he lays down to sleep and Mother and Father carry him off to the warm cave for the winter. The watercolor pictures are cute.

Hilliard, Richard. Godspeed, John Glenn. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783840. Unp. $16.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) From a young boy John Glenn had a fascination of flying through the sky. This book outlines his young life till he becomes an astronaut and into his adult life. It tells of his flight aboard Friendship 7 and his fiery reentry into the atmosphere and the safe landing. The book contains sidebars on each page giving somewhat detailed information. While the people in the acrylic illustrations seem somewhat stiff the pictures of the blast-off are striking.

 

Wechsler, Doug. Frog Heaven Ecology of a Vernal Pool. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590782534. 46 pgs. $17.95. Grades 3-8th. (Q7, P5) Doug Wechsler, naturalist-photographer offers a close-up look at a vernal pool in Delaware. He takes us through a year of happenings of an interconnected ecosystem that depends on the pool and the fact that it dries up annually. Because of the pool drying up fish are not sustained but other animals (frogs, salamanders, snakes, fairy shrimp, and more) flourish. In the first four chapters Wechsler describes the how the pool changes through the seasons. The final chapter discusses preservation of vernal pools. The photographs are sharp showing much detail. The book concludes with a glossary and a list of recommended books and web sites for further explorations.

 

Pringle, Laurence. American Slave, American Hero York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ills. by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Calkins Creek Books, c2006. ISBN 1590782828.40 pgs. $17.95. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q7, P5) Laurence Pringle explores the life of York, a slave of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In the book Pringle occasionally uses the word “probably” because little is known about some times in his life. It was against the law for slaves to read or write so York was not able to write about his own adventures. The book goes from the birth of the two (Clark and York) traveling to their young lives through the expedition and

ending when York dies of the disease cholera. Details of York’s death and burial place are mysteries. This is a must for anybody or class which is studying the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

 

Latifah, Queen. Queen of the Scene. Harper Collins, c2006. Ills. by Frank Morrison. ISBN 0060778563. Unp. $16.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q5, P7) Self-esteem, this girl has it all. She is the best in all she does: basketball, baseball, running, football. She believes in herself, almost too much till you get to the end. At the end of the day she, like all children, has to be home by dark, where her parents are waiting for her on the porch. This very empowering story for girls is written in rhyme which can be bumpy at times.

 

Zolotow, Charlotte. If It Weren’t For You. Ills. by G. Brian Karas. Harper Colllins,C2006. ISBN 0060278757. Unp. $15.99. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q4, P6) How fun would it be to tell your sibling how much fun it would be without her? Yes, for the child it might be great but from the point of view of a parent it seems this book is completely negative. “If it weren’t for you” I would have all the cake, all the candy, my own room, would not have to share anything. Even at the end of the book, “If it weren’t for you I’d have to be alone with the grown-ups”.

 

Funny Cide Team. A Horse Named Funny Cide. Ills. by Barry Moser. G.P. Putman Sons, c2006. ISBN 039924462X. 31 pgs. $16.99. Grades Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) A small horse with a big heart, Funny Cide, was born in New York. Not many people thought he would be a great race horse. A persistent trainer, a hard-luck jockey and a group of school-buddies, who bought the horse, believed in Cide who became a winner of the famous Kentucky Derby. Cide also raced in the Preakness and won, but when it came to the third race of the Triple Crown at Belmont, he didn’t have enough stamina to finish strong. He came in third, but when he left the track, the entire crow cheered for Cide.

 

Dubowski, Cathy East. Clara Barton I Want to Help!. Bearport Publishing, c2006. ISBN 159716075X 32 pgs. $23.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) Clara Barton was a late-born daughter who had four brothers and sisters. She was afraid of almost everything especially people. She became a teacher and established the first free school in Bordentown, New Jersey in 1852. From there she worked in the U.S. Patent Office and when the Civil War broke out she helped the shoulders with food and other necessities. She helped wounded soldiers and became the first president of the American Red Cross. This is one of a series of Defining Moments books which are simple straightforward biographies of historical figures.

 

Russell, Babrara Timberlake. Maggie’s Amerikay. Ills. by Jim Burke. Melanie Kropua Books, c2006. ISBN 0374347220. Unp. $17.00. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q6, P5) It’s 1898 when Maggie McCrary and her family immigrate to America. In New Orleans

Maggie makes friends with an African American boy who finds her a job writing down the experiences of Daddy Clements. As Daddy Clements tells his stories the two compare how each others cultures parallel the other, their struggles and accomplishments. The illustrations captures the time period perfectly. This would be a wonderful book to read to classes which will be studying immigrants.

 

Benton, Jim. The Fran with Four Brains. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 1416902317. 104 Pgs. $14.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q6, P8) The seventh book in Jim Benton’s series of Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist looks to be another book children will love to read. This time Franny’s mother keeps her so busy she decided to make three Franbots so she could get some rest. But while Fran gets some rest, the Franbots are so busy they keep Mom busy and she becomes tired. Fran decides to slow down her bots, but it doesn’t work and the results are quite funny.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by Nel Ward

 

Nonfiction

Low, William. Old Penn Station. $16.95. Holt, 2007. 0-8050-7925-4. Unp. Ages 5-8: Before Madison Square Garden, Penn Station was a magnificent train station with “a magical spider-web of metal and glass” in the concourse and elegant amenities such as “the fabulous Savarin Restaurant.” The author/illustrator brings this theater of art back from its destruction beginning with his master’s thesis project, a series of ten oil paintings, painstakingly taken from old photographs and his imagination. The resulting drama is a fascinating history, but the artwork, created from computer-layering blotches of color to form texture seems too muddy and abstract for a picture book. It might work better for a distant illustration. The brush strokes seem artificial and strained. Another issue is that there is almost no diversity in the human images; even the porter is Anglo. Yet the book is a marvelous piece of history that will delight adults who want to look back to a “palace” destroyed in the early 1960s. P7Q7.

 

Redsand, Anna S. Viktor Frankel: A Life Worth Living. Clarion, 2006. $19.00. 0-618-7243-9. 150p. Ages 10-14: The world of psychotherapy may be different because this Viennese man survived the Nazi concentration camps during World War II when 11 million people died in the German purge. His development of logotherapy, which encourages patients to look to the future and live their lives fully rather than to relive the past, began before his incarceration and expanded after his release beginning with his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In large format with many photographs, this richly compelling biography chronicles the incredible struggles and obstacles that Frankel, who lost his entire family in the Holocaust, overcame. P5Q8

 

Shea, Pegi Deitz. Patience Wright: America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy. Il. Bethanne Anderson. Holt, 2007. $17.95. 0-8050-6770-1. Unp. Ages 5-9: Possibly America’s first international female entrepreneur, Wright, a widow with four children, was able to get information from the British plotting against the revolutionaries and send messages back to her country in the busts of people that she had formed. Although young people will not be familiar with many of the people referred to in the book, there is enough excitement to keep them interested–fire, cold, death, and female independence. The information about how Wright created her sculptures will also keep their interest, particularly the method in which she shaped wax faces under her skirts while the customers posed and then pulled them out. The gouache illustrations for the book, primarily of people, create a bold feel, especially the life-like bust of Benjamin Franklin in a box. A fun book about a woman who lived an extraorinary life, full of art and intrigue. P6Q8

 

Poetry

Kuskin, Karla. Green as a Bean. Il. Melissa Iwai. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-075332-3. Unp. Ages 3-6: Parts of text first published in 1960 gains new artwork which culminates in a boy reading a book about a boy reading a book…you get the idea. The concepts result in a mish-mash from colors and the one shape of square to those not visible such as loud, soft, and fierce. There seems to be no reason for which concepts were selected, and the illustrations are fuzzy and a bit muddy. The text sometimes fails to scan and doesn’t evoke much excitement, even with a dragon. A disappointing re-hash that should have stayed in the past. P7Q5

 

Walker, Alice. Why War Is Never a Good Idea. Il. Stefano Vitale. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-075385-4. Unp. Ages 4+: War has grown old but not wise as it wantonly destroys beautiful things and people with no consideration for the consequences. This is the premise found in this book filled with richly-colored, somewhat naif illustrations beginning with the statement: “Though War speaks/Every language/It never knows/What to say/To frogs.” The artwork moves from golden bucolic scenes through increasingly dark scenes engendered by the white cloud from an airplane (which blocks almost the entire two-page spread) and destroyed landscapes. The publication date of this book is set for 9/21/07, the International Day of Peace. Some of the proceeds will be donated to Code Pink, Women for Peace. P8Q10.

 

Picture Books

Portis, Antoinette. Not a Box. Laura Geringer Books, 2006. $12.99. 0-06-112322-6. Unp. Ages 2-5: A plain brown book (without even a cover) holds secrets of imagination as questions address why the rabbit (in simple black outline) why it is sitting in, standing on or in, wearing, or squirting a box. The answer is always “It’s not a box” with the answer to the final question, “It’s my Not a Box!” Concepts of body positions are delightfully shown through the line drawings with the imagination displayed in slightly more elaborate red, white, and black drawings on yellow. A joyful flight into a child’s imagination with a non-gendered character. P8Q8

 

Urbanovic, Jackie. Duck at the Door. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-121438-8. Unp. Ages 4-7: A plethora of pets accompany their owner, Irene, when a lone duck pounds on the front door in a wintry storm. Charming watercolors accompany the clear and brief text as Irene adopts the duck, who had failed to migrate because it wanted to see winter and who becomes more and more of a nuisance with his obsession with television and cooking. In spring, Max the duck goes back to his flock, and all the creatures miss him. But in the fall, he returns…with his entire flock! Although the illustrations are delightful, they can be confusing if examined carefully because some of the pets change color and personalities. But with so many of them (a baker’s dozen), this may not be an issue for less anal readers. P8Q8 Fiction

 

Blume, Lesley, M.M. The Rising Star of Rusty Nail. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-93524-4. 273p. Ages 9-13: Meet Franny Hansen–a 10-year-old piano virtuoso in McCarthy-era small-town America. She has long exhausted the talents of Rusty Nail’s only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in town. The book is a mixture of humorous events as Franny and her friend Sandy play pranks on their enemies and a view of 1950s bigotry toward the “Commies.” Some of the characters do change although they don’t actually develop. And many of the situations are improbable: when Franny loses a contest because the banker bribes the judges, everyone immediately turns against him; Franny gets a chance to attend Julliard during the summer months; and Franny’s mother makes an instant 180-degree turn in her prejudice. The characters are too broadly drawn with no feeling for them as people. Yet, the book has great heart, good writing, and fun situations. P6Q7

 

Brande, Robin. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-84349-5. 265p. Ages 12+: Mena Reese’s life is turned upside down the summer before her high school freshman year when her fundamentalist church and her parents shun her. Her sin? She had written a letter to a young man who tried to commit suicide because other young people in the church had terrorized him for being gay. The plot is carefully laid out throughout the book with the reader not knowing what the issue behind the rejection was, as Mena slowly comes out of her shell with the help of a brilliant science teacher, a classmate who befriends her, and the boy’s older sister. Mena’s first-person narration tells of her slowly understanding that she can believe in both evolution and God. The author has created complex characters with other issues such as her friends’ grief after losing their father, and the action lacks the didactic approach that other “message” books have. P7Q8

 

Couloumbis, Audrey. Maude March on the Run! Random House, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83246-8. 308p. Ages 10-14: Twelve-year-old Sallie and her older sister, Maude, are once again running from the law after five months with an uncle in Independence, Missouri. The author of The Misadventures of Maude March take readers on a dizzying fast-paced, delightfully rowdy, and altogether heartwarming ride west to the Colorado Territory after bounty hunters see the “terrifying” Maude working as a waitress. As always, Sallie calls the shots with a little help from a journalist, the “hero” of dime novels, and a couple selling fake medicine. May Sallie and Maude ride again! P7Q9

George, Jessica Day. Dragon Slippers. Bloomsbury, 2007. $16.95. 324p. Ages 10+: In a ploy by her aunt to lure a heroic knight with money, Creel meets a dragon, bargains with him for her life, and ends of with a pair of blue slippers that sets a series of disasters into action. In this newest–and delightful–addition to dragon-lore, the author presents a believable and likable protagonist and another dragon family not seen for many years. And of course, there’s the charming, unassuming prince who rescues Creel from a life of poverty (she embroiders) while she saves his kingdom. We can only hope for a sequel! P8Q8

 

Hale, Shannon. Austenland. Bloomsbury, 2007. $19.95. 1-579691-285-5. 197p. Ages 13+: From the award-winning author of such young adult novels as The Goose Girls and Princess Academy comes this novel with a 30+ woman who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Her obsession is carried out when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women. The story covers the three weeks at this resort, showing how boring Victorian life actually was and helping our heroine, Jane Hayes, find her way out of the obsession. As always, the narrative is filled with humor as Hale describes Jane’s 12 “boyfriends” from childhood to the present and Jane’s struggle to overcome the type to which she is attracted. P8Q8

 

Jolin, Paula. In the Name of God. Roaring Brook, 2007. $16.95. 1-579643-211-X. 208p. Ages 13+: In her attempt to be the best Muslin she can be, 17-year-old Nadia finds herself drawn into the world of Islamic fundamentalism, contemplating the ultimate sacrifice to take a stand for her people in Syria and her religion. Jolin has well described the living conditions and people’s attitudes in the Middle East in this exploration of the economic and social struggles of her country and the civil war raging in Iraq. A first novel, this bodes well for future books from this author, who spend most of the last decade living and working in the Middle East. P8Q8

 

Rinaldi, Ann. An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00 0-15-205597-5. 241p. Ages 12+: The wife of Abraham Lincoln and her African-American seamstress were born in the same year–1818–but followed very different paths despite the close friendship that they developed when Lincoln moved to the White House in 1861. When, in her childhood, Mary’s mother died, she struggled to cope with her new stepmother who sent her to a boarding school nearby during Mary’s adolescence. Keckley, the daughter of a plantation owner, was sexually abused when her father gave her to his son who then loaned her out to a violent neighbor. This book lacks the energy and enthusiasm of earlier Rinaldi historical novels, a disappointment for those who have enjoyed earlier books. The connection is so slight in the book that the author might have been better off if she had kept to one or the other of these protagonists. P6Q7

 

Sharenow, Robert. My Mother the Cheerleader. Laura Geringer Books, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-114897-0. 300p. Ages 12+: In 1960, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans was primarily white, albeit poor, with segregated schools. All this changed when the court ordered the schools desegregated. The volatile situation is seen from the point of view of 13-year-old Louise Lorraine Collins, no longer in school and left to help operate a run-down boarding house while her mother joins the “cheerleaders,” a group of women who gather every morning to heckle six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the school’s first African-American student. Louise watches the hate and bigotry grow as she develops a crush on a new boarder, a Northerner, who is discovered to be a Jew and therefore must be eliminated by the Southerners trying to preserve an out-dated way of life. The author knows his subject, having grown up there, and his writing. A strong first novel with hopes of much more to come. P7Q9

 

Weinheimer, Beckie. Converting Kate. Viking, 2007. $16.99. 0-670-06152-5. 314p. Ages 12+: Raised in the Church of the Holy Divine, Kate decides to leave the faith, although not her belief in God, when her nonreligious father unexpectedly dies. But when her mother moves her across the county to an aunt’s home where Kate has an entirely new school and her mother operates a bed & breakfast, the Church is still there. And cruel as Kate finds when she becomes friends with a new local minister who is gay. Although the author presents the issues well, her attempts to be fair about the mother’s protecting Kate after presenting her as a hateful person seem jarring. A first novel, it is still an engaging book that discusses the issues of fundamentalist religion and its influences. P8Q7

 

Book Reviews – March 2007 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School

 

Fiction Selections:

Van Allsburg, Chris. Probuditi!. Hougton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006. $18.95 ISBN: 978-0-618-75502-8 p. Gr. K-3. Everytime we think Chris can’t possibly come up with a quirkier, funnier or more creative story, he does. Probuditi! Is no exception to this, but it’s certainly a different sort of storytelling for him, as it’s no fantasy. Character development is rich, and listeners will be readily be able to identify with the two boys and the trouble they get into, by hypnotizing little sister into thinking she is a dog. The story takes us all over the hot and steamy town, and Chris’ rich sepia-tone pencil drawings truly transport us to the scene. While this is a great read-aloud for elementary students, teachers may be cautioned that the suspense may be too much for very young and sensitive. As a note of interest, every Van Allsburg book features Fritz, a now-deceased bull terrier that is based on a real-life dog owned by brother-in-law. In this book, he appears as a teakettle! P8 Q9

 

Murphy, Jim. Fergus and the Night -Demon: an Irish ghost story. Illustrated by John Manders. Hougton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006. $16.00 ISBN: 978-0-618-

33955-6 p. Gr. 3-7. This interesting account of an Irish phantom who specializes in terrorizing lazy boys is one sure to excite and engage young readers and give them a taste of blarney, to boot. Protagonist Fergus is that lazy kid that who is gifted in fast talking and thinking and uses his glib to give the demon the slip, but just barely! In the end Fergus redeems himself and vows to be a hardworking lad, so the demon will never find him again. The illustrations are lively and serve the text well; this is a great read-aloud for young classrooms or older groups studying folklore. P7 Q7

 

Nonfiction Selections:

Goodman, Susan E. Gee Whiz! It’s all about Pee. Illustrated by Elwood H. Smith . Viking, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 0-670-06064-X 40 p. Gr. 3-8. This book has everything that will make it fly off middle school library shelves: gross subject matter, humorous illustrations, puns to keep teachers happy, whiz bang facts (OK, pun intended there), and scintillating writing. It is the marriage of Captain Underpants with Dr. Science, Mister Rogers with Bart Simpson. For me, it was the end of the search: I have for years wondered what happened to astronaut pee. I know now: it’s ejaculated into space, where, as Astronaut Wally Shirra called it, it creates “Constellation Urion.” Of course, they also mentioned that “seventy-two rats pee about as much as one astronaut;” how they researched this book I am not sure I want to know. P9 Q9

 

Robbins, Ken. Seeds. Antheneum, New York, 2005 . $15.95 ISBN:0-689-85041-7 p. Gr. PK-2. This beautiful little book would be a real asset to any elementary school library or classroom, where it might be used to supplement a unit on seeds. The photos are incredible and text layout is clear and well thought out, making this book a great read aloud. P7 Q9

 

Deary, Terry. Wicked History of the World: History with the nasty bits left in!. Illustrated by Martin Brown. Scholastic, New York, 2003. $10.99 ISBN: 0-439-87786-5 99 p. Gr. 3-7. To be honest, I’m not a world history buff so it’s hard for me to know how accurate (or not) this book is, but I found it to be one of the most entertaining and engrossing books I’ve read for a long time. A full-color, expanded version of theauthor’s Horrible Histories series, this very detailed collection of historical tidbits from caveman to Hitler focuses on the bad boys of history: vicious villains, cruel criminals, evil explorers, et al. Profusely illustrated and creatively organized, this book would inspire classroom humorists to peruse history texts for materials. Peppered liberally with British slang and humor, the editor fortunately includes a British to American glossary in the back of the book. P8 Q8

 

Coleman, Penny. Adventurous Women: eight true stories about women who made a difference. Henry Holt & Company, New York, 2006. $18.95 ISBN: 0-8050-7744-8 186 p. Gr. 3-7. This book covers the lives of eight women: Louise Boyd, Mary Gibson Henry, Juana Briones, Alice Hamilton, Mary McLeod Berthune, Katharine Wormeley, Biddy Mason, and Peggy Hull. While the writing is very well done, research meticulous, and the subject matter interesting, the presentation and organization make this text unnecessarily dull. That said, it’s still a good place to find information on lesser-known

women adventurers and deserves a spot on any middle school library shelves. Includes brief chronologies, a list of places to visit where these women have been memorialized, acknowledgments, source notes, bibliography, webliography, photo credits, and index. P6 Q6

 

Allen, Judy. Unexplained. Kingfisher, Boston, 2006. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-7534-5950 144 p. Gr. 4-7. Yet another “wowie-zowie” tome from Kingfisher that is certain to get lots of circulation in any middle school library, Unexplained provides but an appetizer of information. Nicely organized and presented, it’s still a great addition and covers topics not commonly represented in juvenile literature. Includes P8 Q7

 

Bohannan, Lisa Frederiksen. Woman’s Work: the story of Betty Friedan. Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Greensboro, N.C., 2004. $24.95 ISBN: 1-931798-41-9 144 p. Gr. 3-7. This is a well-written account of a very interesting woman. The author treats Friedan with respect and awe, but still presents an honest account of her foibles and fears, revealing a character that teens will readily relate to. Unfortunately, this book is not one that would be very popular in school libraries, partially because the presentation is so dull. If the format of the pages had been larger, for example, the photos and clippings that are reproduced in the book might have more appeal and readability. P5 Q7

 

Book Reviews March 2007, A.G. LCSD Indian Ed.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. Roxie and the Hooligans. NY: Ginee Seo Books/Atheneum, 2006. $15.95 116 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-0243-0 P7/Q7 This fanciful tale of a bullied girl takes her and her tormentors (the Hooligans) to a deserted island where they must hide from robbers. Roxie’s familiarity with survival skills saves the day and wins respect from the Hooligans. The lesson: be confident in who you are because eventually your detractors will learn you are all right, especially if you save their lives. This is an easy early chapter book with occasional amusing illustrations to relieve the text.

 

Llewellyn, Sam. The Return of Death Eric. NY: Walker & Co., 2006 (1st pub. in Great Britain). $16.95 239 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-8027-8951 P8/Q6 “Death Eric” is the name of a has-been heavy metal group a’la Ozzie Osborne. Eric has two perfect children who decry their loss of great income when the group’s agent takes off with the money. They orchestrate the group into performing again. A heavy-handed satire, the story never misses an opportunity to bring out the most garish of the heavy metal scene, but there’s nothing to scandalize a reader. It’s almost a fairy tale in its style, and taken in that light it’s a fun read.

 

Woods, Brenda. My Name Is Sally Little Song. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. $15.99 183 pp. ges 10 up ISBN 0-399-24312-7 P8/Q8 Sally May Harrison is an 11-year-old field slave on a Georgia plantation in 1802. Her family is still intact, but when the master intends to send some of the family away to help his relative, the slave family decides to run away—south rather than north. They seek shelter with the Seminole Tribe in Florida. Written first person, this simple story is like many in the “Dear America” genre—easy to read with short chapters. It gives a genuine feeling both for the everyday reality of southern slavery and for the ways in which the Native tribes interacted with and intermarried with the runaway slaves.

 

Moranville, Sharelle Byars. A Higher Geometry, a Novel. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2006. $16.95 212 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-8050-7470-8 P8/Q9 It’s sometimes hard to get today’s teens to understand the way it was, the way in which women of the 1950’s were pressured, however subtly, to achieve at home and not in academics. This story of a rural, middle-America teen girl who loves math theory illustrates the various pressures while still being an enjoyable story. It’s the story of 15-year-old Anna who has a boyfriend but doesn’t like home ec, she prefers math class. By the end of the story she’s overcome her parents’ objections and competed in a national math competition. It’s a sweet story with detail that evokes the time (I’d forgotten the smell of Niagara starch coming from just-ironed clothes!)

 

Scdoris, Rachael & Rick Steber. No End in Sight: My Life As a Blind Iditarod Racer. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. $22.95 278 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-312-35273-5 P7/Q9 Rachael Scdoris received a lot of press when she challenged the Iditarod organizers to let her participate with a “visual interpreter” (a person driving another dog team who would warn her of pitfalls). It made the race a household word around the country. This book gives her side of the story, from her early years trying to convince her father to let her mush to the more recent competitions to which she had to fight. The details of the Oregon landscape will ring true to Oregonians. Although it looks long, the book is fast-moving and well-written. It should provide inspiration to physically challenged people.

 

Hagerup, Klaus. Markus + Diana. Honesdale, PA: Front Street /Boyds Mills Press, 2006. $17.95 188 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 978-1-932425-59-8 P8/Q8 Ever wonder what goes on in the heads of those awkward 13-year-old boys who act really weird? This novel gives some insight, and perhaps useful insight for teen girls who can’t figure them out. Set in Norway (it was originally published in Norwegian), the book also gives an interesting view of modern Norwegian teens’ lives. Markus has a hobby of collecting autographs of famous people, and writes in hyperbole (if not actual lies) when he writes to them to obtain their autograph. One day he goes a little too far, and attracts the attentions of a movie starlet. Learning how to be himself without posing is the lesson of the story.

 

Dowd, Siolehan. A Swift Pure Cry. NY: David Fickling Books (Random House), 2006 (released 2007) (first pub. in Great Britain). $16.99 320 pp. ages 14 up. ISBN 978-0-385-75108-7 P7/Q8 This is (surprisingly) a mystery, centered on an Irish teenager with a widowed, alcoholic father and two younger siblings. She gets sexually active with a rich, self-centered boy, gets used and left behind. The mystery involves (without giving it away) the body of a baby found in a sea cave. The story is sweet and compelling, realistic in terms of the family dynamics and social scenario. There are no graphic sex scenes; it’s more by implication. Although not too happy, the story does have a relatively positive ending. Set in Ireland, it gives some feel for the place and social setting. It could serve as a warning for teens considering the consequences of their actions, as well as being an interesting tale.

 

Durrant, Lynda. My Last Skirt: The Story of Jenny Hodgers, Union Soldier. NY: Clarion Books, 2006. $16.00 196 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-618-57490-5 P8/Q8 Based on the real life of the only woman to ever get a Civil War soldier’s pension, this historical novel is fascinating. Since it sticks to Jenny Hodgers/Albert Cashier’s real life story, it doesn’t have a sole climactic moment but works more as a journal in the tradition of the “Dear America” series and is written in first-person. It gives a genuine feel for life as an Irish peasant to life as a mid-19th century immigrant to America, especially in regards to the economics of gender. Jenny begins to dress like and pass as a boy in Ireland in order to get a good-paying job, and the trick continues to work in America. The only reason she dresses trans-gender is because she can get better pay and live easier as a male; the story does not address sexuality issues other than that.

 

Picture Books 

Isaacs, Anne. Illustrated by Mark Teague. Pancakes for Supper. NY: Scholastic Press, 2006. $15.99 38 pp. ages 7 up ISBN 0-439-64483-6 P7/Q7 Pancakes have virtually no place in this story, except at the end and the recipe on the back cover. The plot has to do with the old theme of tricking predators into defeating themselves. Set in the snowy northeastern US at a pre-industrial time, the story contains a number of North American predators—from eagles to cougars—who set upon a girl, wanting to eat her up. Toby has to use her wits (and fortunately has layers of clothes she’s wearing against the bitter cold) and turn the animals against each other. The typeface is regular and clear enough for early readers. The illustrations are reminiscent of the 1930’s style, and are wonderful characterizations of the animals.

 

Winthrop, Elizabeth. Illustrated by Pat Cummings. Squashed in the Middle. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2005. $16.95 28 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8050-6497-4 P7/Q7 As a middle child, Daisy can’t get any respect. No one will listen to her. This story is about how she finally becomes assertive and simply does what she tells everyone she was going to do (visit a friend) but they wouldn’t listen. When they come to find her, she explains that no one listens to her and finally they get the point. The illustrations are good, and I’m sure many middle children could relate to her story. The point of the book may be a bit lost on children and is more aimed at the adults who fail to listen.

 

Poydar, Nancy. The Bad-News Report Card. NY: Holiday House, 2006. $16.95 29 pp. ages 6-8 ISBN 0-8234-1992-4 P8/Q8 The author, a former elementary school teacher, obviously knows how worried kids can get about their report cards. This story deals with one girl’s anxiety and the inappropriate way with which she dealt with it (hiding the report card instead of bringing it home). The report turns out to be much better than she imagined, and the ending is a

happy one. This story might be a good read-aloud for a class getting their first report cards. The typeface is legible, it introduces appropriate vocabulary, and the art is simple but fun.

 

Dolenz, Micky. Illustrated by David Clark. Gakky Two-Feet. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. $16.99 29 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-399-24468-9 P7/Q7 Gakky is an early hominid—the sort of missing link between monkey and human that stands on two feet. The story attempts to point out the survival value of walking upright and why it might have led to two-leggeds inheriting the Earth. The illustrations are lively and cute. The story line is fine, dealing with the taunts of others when a person is different, though a bit shallow. The vocabulary is just challenging enough that it might be best as a read-aloud, particularly in the early grades to teach the principles of natural selection. It’s written by the drummer for the 60’s band “The Monkees”; coincidence?

 

Armstrong, Jennifer. Illustrated by David Small. Once Upon a Banana. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $16.95 36 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-84251-1 P7/Q7 This is a book of very few words; in fact the only words in it are the various street signs in the pictures. The story line begins with a monkey who eats a banana and throws the peel: not in the garbage but on the sidewalk where someone inevitably slips on it. The rest of the book is page after page of the strong of unfortunate consequences that ensue after the first person slips and falls, hitting a ladder….etc etc. It provides action that a child or someone reading to a child can embellish, comment upon, or just simply narrate in their own words and at their own pace. The illustrations are colorful, lively, and convey the impression of action.

 

Latifah, Queen. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Queen of the Scene. NY: Laura Geringer Books/Harper Collins Pub., 2006. $16.99 28 pp. ages 3-8 0-06-077856-3 P7/Q7 In this colorful picture book featuring a young black girl in the city, Queen Latifah “represents”. The little girl is confident—even boastful—about her abilities, but in the end admits to having to be home by dark (conforming to her parents’ wishes.) An accompanying CD has Latifah rapping the book, so if the reader can’t read or can’t read in rhythm there’s help.

 

Montejo, Victor. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. White Flower: A Maya Princess. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2005. $16.95 36 pp. ages 7 up ISBN 0-88899-599-7 P7/Q7 This story, told by a Jacaltec Maya who is also an anthropologist, is one of those books that has a lot of words on its big pages, some of which are difficult names. Yet it is aimed at a young audience. It will probably work best as a read-aloud, and will lend itself to literary analysis when studying myths and legends. White Flower, we are told in an endnote, wa an old Spanish story. This version draws strongly on Native traditions with a theme of parental rejection of a beautiful girl’s suitors. While I’d normally object to the semantics of using the title “princess” to refer to a Native cacique’s daughter, since it’s a Native author I am inclined to give him his preferences. As European fairy tales are wont to do, this one ends with the couple living happily ever after.

 

April 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Books For Young Readers Book Reviews April 2007 L.R. NHS

 

Picture Books 

Whitford, Rebecca. Sleepy Little Yoga. Illus. by Martina Selway. Henry Holt and Company, 2007. ISBN 0-8050-8193-3. $9.95. 23pgs. Ages 2-4. P7,Q7. Whitford has created a simple parent’s guide introducing yoga to toddlers in a colorfully illustrated book with animals demonstrating techniques. Additional information includes a note to parents and caregivers, practice tips, explanation of poses, and photos of toddlers demonstrating yoga positions.

 

Montanari, Eva. A Very Full Morning. Houghton Mifflin Company,2006. ISBN 0-618-56318-0. $16.00. 30 pgs. Grades 1-3. P7Q8. Today is the first day of school for little rabbit. Excited, anxious, frightened, and finally relieved are some of the emotions portrayed in beautifully drawn acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations. The unusual perspectives really emphasize the nervousness children feel about the first day of school while the ending relieves that fear for little rabbit, I’m not sure if a child will be comforted or possible more frightened.

 

Rueda, Claudia. Let’s Play in the Forest. Scholastic Press, 2006. ISBN 0-439-82323-4. $16.99. 30 pgs. Grades Pre-K. P8,Q8. In a repetitive sing song pattern the animals come out to play while the wolf is getting dressed. The simple text and illustrations will make this a fun book for young children to hear, tell, and act out.. This story was inspired by a song and game the author often played as a young child and then with her own children, after researching she found it dated back to before the sixteenth century as a ceremony among monks to catch his successor.

 

McAllister, Angela. Brave Bitsy and the Bear. Illus. by Tiphanie Beeke. Clarion Books, 2006. $16.00. 29 pgs. Grades Pre-3. P7,Q8. Little Bitsy falls out of her girl’s pocket and is lost in the woods. Along comes a big fuzzy bear to the rescue to help little Bitsy find her way home, but bear is ready for his winter’s nap and is having a difficult time staying awake. Themes of courage, loyalty, and friendship make this a fun read aloud to a child or classroom. The soft, warm, illustrations lend to the books overall appeal.

 

Stringer, Lauren. Winter is the Warmest Season. Harcourt, Inc., 2006. $16.00. ISBN 0-15-2049767-3. 30 pgs. Grades Pre-2. P7,Q8. This is the first book Stringer has both written and illustrated. In this wonderful story all everything that makes winter warm is captured; from hot chocolate to woolly warm sweaters. The colorful full page illustrations add to the books warmth and will make both the reader and listener feel cozy and look forward to a warm winter. This would make a nice resource for introducing winter or studying the different seasons to younger children.

 

Rosen, Michael. Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry. Illus. by Chinlun Lee. Candlewick Press, 2006. ISBN 076362744-5. 34 pgs. $15.99. Grades K-2. P7,Q7. Molly is excited about taking her grandmother’s crystal to school for shoe and tell, but when all the children are distracted by Russell’s pink and green water-spurting dragon she is disappointed. Molly’s teacher, Miss Plumberry sees her disappointment and redirects the class by showing interest in the crystal. Yes, teachers are wonderful!

 

McKay, Katie. Pumpkin Town! Illus. by Pable Bernasoni. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. ISBN 0-618-60569-X . 32 pgs. $16.00. Grades K-3. P7,Q8. Jose’ and his brothers plant a variety of pumpkins every year to sell, saving only the best for seed to replant and discarding the rest. When the brothers throw the less than perfect seeds away on a windy day, the town is in store for a surprise or quite possibly a disaster. A fun read supported by unusual colorful, collage-type, computer generated art. This is a great book to read aloud, inspire creative writing, predictions, or demonstrate art technique.

 

Wellington, Monica. Mr. Cookie Baker. Dutton Children’s Books, 1992, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47763-2. 27 pgs. $15.99. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. From early morning to evening a nice close up look at a day with Mr. Baker as he makes cookies for his store. The simple text and simple drawings are just the right ingredients for a sure to please book for young children. Recipes are featured in the back of the book.

 

Wellington, Monica. Pizza at Sally’s. Dutton, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47715-2. 30 pgs. $14.99. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. Wellington uses her signature simple, bold, colorful artwork to illustrate Sally, the pizza maker making pizza for her customers. Young children will be delighted as they turn the pages and learn about the pizza making process. Recipes included for added enjoyment.

 

Walton, Rick. The Remarkable Friendship of Mr. Cat and Mr. Rat. Illus. by Lisa McCue. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ISBN 0-399-23899-9. 27 pgs. $14.99. Grades K-3. P7,Q8. Mr. Cat and Mr. Rat live together and agree on one thing, their extreme dislike of one another. In the beginning several attempts to send the other packing will delight young readers. One day when Rat is locked outside a package arrives for Mr. R from Mr. C, assuming it’s for him he cautiously opens it thinking it’s a trap or joke or ? When he discovers its delicious cheese, he sends a gift in return to Mr. Cat. The fun begins and continues…in this sing-song rhyming text. Cartoon-like, watercolor illustrations of characters detailing expressive facial features and a variety of emotions add appeal.

 

Schwartz, Corey Rosen and Klein, Tali. Hop! Plop! Illus. by Oliver Dunrea. Walker& Company, 2006. ISBN 0-8027-8056-3. 30 pgs. $15.95. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. Unlikely friends, elephant and mouse go to the playground for a day of fun, but when the playground equipment fails to provide they anticipated they must problem solve. The text is loaded with action words and sounds creating a sense of energy and movement. Many examples of size relations as well as opposites are displayed throughout the story. The illustrations are simple water color drawings on bright white backgrounds.

 

Sloat, Teri. I’m a Duck. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ISBN 0-399-24274-0. 30 pgs. $15.95. Grades Pre-2. P7,Q8. Beautifully illustrated in pastels using bold, earthy colors a duck celebrates his magnificent stroke of good luck, he’s a duck! He’s delighted with everything about himself from his quack to his webbed feet, his wings to his new found wife, and later his duck-dad self. Themes of self esteem, family, fatherhood, ducks, wetlands, hatching, and growing are all presented.

 

Lobel, Gill. Too Small for Honey Cake. Illus. by Sebastien Braun. ISBN 0-15-206097-9. 25 pgs $16.00 Grades Pre-K. P7,Q7. Little Fox is feeling left out after the arrival of his new baby brother. Everything has changed and Little Fox is not happy. When Daddy Fox is too busy to play, Little Fox thinks of naughty things to do and then hides in the closet. After some time to think, Little Fox comes out and finds Daddy Fox is waiting with open arms and a honey cake that baby fox is too small to eat. Nice artwork with fun end papers, the front illustrating the start of a new day and back a peaceful evening.

 

Polaccco, Patricia. Something About the Hensley’s. Philomel Books, 2006. ISBN 0-399-24538-3. 40 pgs. Grades K-4. P7,Q8. Patrica Polacca has once again drawn from her real life experience to write a heart warming story about Old John, an owner of general store, who weaves magic into people’s lives with his generosity and friendly personality. When two young girls move to town with their mother, it’s Old John’s kindness and wisdom that truly make a difference in this family’s lives. Family stress, financial hardships, single parent families, medical issues are some of the themes addressed in this warm, touching tale. Illustrations are typical Polacca style, filled with details from top to bottom, side to side, and with surprises on every page.

 

Fiction

Lynch, Chris. Sins of the Fathers. Harper Tempest, 2006. ISBN 0-06-074037-X. 232 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P7, Q7. Three friends since first grade attend a Catholic School in Boston where they routinely get into their share of mischief, and are always there for one another. When one of the boys suspects his friend is being sexually abused by one of the school’s priests, he steps up and offers his support. A look at the unfortunate situations children can be exposed to when adults take advantage of their authority roles. A fast paced read, with believable characters, and quickly developing plot and subplots.

 

Trueman, Terry. 7 Days at the Hot Corner. Harper Tempest, 2007. ISBN 0-06-057494-1. 150 pgs. $15.99. Grades 8+. P7,Q8. Scott plays third base for his school’s varsity baseball team and is looking forward to the upcoming playoffs after a record winning streak season. In baseball when things get tricky it’s called the Hot Corner, something Scott is more than familiar with, but now his life is a series of hot corners that have him thinking about more than baseball. Friendship, homosexuality, coming out, acceptance, family, and divorce are all touched on in this quick entertaining read. Another high interest read by Terry Trueman to recommended to the reluctant reader needing a book report read.

 

Page, Katherine Hall. Club Meds. Simon Pulse, 2006. ISBN 1-4169-0903-6. 166 pgs. $6.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q8. Freshman, Jack Sutton has ADHD and has taken meds since third grade and learned what he needs to do to live with his disorder. When the school bully starts demanding that Jack handover a portion of his Ritalin each week to prevent being beat up, he and his friends find themselves working to come up with a plan to prevent the bullying. This is a nicely written story with an interesting plot, real characters with real problems and insight to ADHD. A quick read with a great deal of information presented interestingly enough to make it a page turner.

 

Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. Golden. Delacorte Press, 2006. ISBN 0-385-73311-9. 247 pgs. $7.95. Grades 7+. P7,Q6. New girl, Lissy James finds there are two main social groups at her new school in Oklahoma: the Goldens, popular, beautiful, and snobby and the Non-Goldens. Her Sight or ability to see individual’s auras in different colors alerts her to evil lurking within the school. Students will pick this book up for its teen- appeal cover, but I’m afraid they will be discouraged by the difficulty in following the undeveloped plot, excessive repetition, and the less than interesting characters. This is nineteen-year-old Barnes first Novel, perhaps her second novel, Tattoo, will be better.

 

Booth, Coe. Tyrell. Push, 2006. ISBN 0-439-83879-7. 310 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P8,Q8. Life for Fifteen-year-old Tyrell is going from bad to worse with his dad in jail once again, he, his mom, and little brother all living in a run down shelter, and his girl friend making demands he doesn’t feel he can live up to. Determined to take care of his family and to do the right thing, Tyrell is faced with difficult choices. In this coming of age book Tyrell’s character is strong, determined, and believable. I think students will enjoy this quick read for its real voice and in depth look at homelessness, poverty, relationships, and desire to do the right thing.

 

Snadowsky, Daria. Anatomy of a Boyfriend. Delacorte Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-73320-5. 257 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P7,Q8. Seventeen-year-old Dom has worked her life preparing herself for Stanford and Premed. Medical journals and anatomy books are her favorite reads and for fun she enjoys timed games of Operation to improve small motor skills and dexterity. Things change in a hurry when she meets the perfect guy and now all she can think about is  Wes. Dating, sex, family life, friendship, school, heartbreak and adjustment are all dealt with in this fun, quick, humorous read by this first time author.

 

Bryant, Jen. Pieces of Georgia. Knopf, 2006. ISBN 0-375-83259-9. 166 pgs. $15.95. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. Georgia is having a difficult time dealing with the death of her mother as well as her grieving father. With the help of journal, given to her by the school counselor Georgia is able to write to her mother and express her feelings and their shared love of art. On her thirteenth birthday she receives a membership to the Brandywine River Museum from someone anonymously. Not wanting to risk upsetting her father, Georgia secretly visits the museum every chance she gets learning and losing herself in the one thing that brings so much joy. Written in a nice flowing free verse style, this book is an enjoyable read. Grief, family, friends, difficulties in school, art, pursuing dreams, healing, are a few of the subjects covered in this novel.

 

Sonnenblick, Jordan. Notes From the Midnight Driver. Scholastic, 2006. ISBN 0-439-75779-7. 265 pgs. $16.99. Grades 8+. P8,Q8. When things get crazy in Alex’s life, he takes a wrong turn and lands himself before a judge who sentences him to a hundred hours community service in a nursing home. The resident he is teamed to work with proves to be a very difficult challenge, a challenge Alex informs the judge that he is not qualified to handle. Alex soon learns that he and Sal share a common interest in music he looks forward to his visits. A humorous, heart-warming story about friendship, family problems, and the power of relationships.

 

Barkley, Brad and Heather Hepler. Scrambled Eggs at Midnight. Dutton Books, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47760-8. 262 pgs. $16.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. Cal is along for the ride when her mother decides to load up the car and travel across the country following Renaissance fairs selling jewelry and working as a wench. Cal longs for a stable home life or at least one that offers a shower, kitchen and warm bed. Elliot longs for his former life living on the beach, before his dad decided to spread the gospel at a health camp. Upon meeting they become good friends and are able to help one another find the lives they are looking for. A little slow starting, but picks up and becomes a good read.

 

Carr, Dennis and Elise. Welcome to Wahoo. Bloomsbury, 2006. ISBN 1-58234-696-8. 229 pgs. $16.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. For Victoria life is about having fun at any cost and with wealthy parents she finds plenty of fun as well as trouble causing her parents a great deal of worry. Everything changes when Victoria’s parents are suddenly being hunted by assassins and she must flee with the family body guard to the small town of Wahoo in Nebraska. Public school, cafeteria food, Walmart clothes, a part time job, chores, etc. are all new concepts Victoria is learning to adjust to with the help of her new friend. A quick read with humor and a slightly twisted ending. This is the first book by husband-wife team.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Curlee, Lynn. Skyscraper. Atheneum, 2007. $17.99. 0-689-84489-1. 44p. Ages 9+: Austere, glowing, acrylic portraits of individual skyscrapers enhance the text about the development of these marvels of engineering from their rise after the Chicago fire to those planned in the future. In each example, the art historian introduces the landmark buildings and the engineering advances that made them possible as well as thoughts about how these buildings affect the ways society lives and works. The final pages, summarizing the development of skyscraper technology in a cleverly rendered chronology of the world’s tallest buildings, add further visual appeal. Although the text can be dense, the illustrations are such that one can pour over them for a long period of time. P8Q10

 

Dear Author: Letters of Hope. Ed. Joan F. Kaywell. Philomel, 2007. $14.99. 0-399-23705-8. 222p. Ages 13+: Letters to 27 young adult authors and the authors’ responses show heartbreaking and heartwarming reactions to the books that these authors write and the ways that the books may help young readers get through life, perhaps even keep them alive. The last 40 pages give brief annotated bibliographies of each author’s work as well as their websites. Although young readers may not read the book from cover to cover, they might dip into the selections and find some solace for their own problems. P6Q8

 

Gourley, Catherine. War, Women, and the News: How Female Journalists Won the Battle to Cover World War II. Atheneum, 2007. $21.99. 0-689-87752-8. 198p. Ages 12+: From the “sob sisters” or “newshens” of the 1920s and 1930s to “news reporters”–this is the change for female reporters because of their courage and determination during World War II. This book includes famous photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothy Lange, adventurers such as Martha Gellhorn (one of Ernest Hemingway’s wives), and even Eleanor Roosevelt who not only gave women their chance at reporting but also had a column of her own. Excellent photographs and resources, including websites, help make this book an inspiration to young women today. P6Q8

 

Gourse, Leslie. Sophisticated Ladies: The Great Women of Jazz. Il. Martin French. Dutton, 2007. $19.99. 0-525-47198-1. 64p. Ages 9-13: These mini-biographies about 14 women who helped “create…a uniquely American art form” are each accompanied by full-page portraits of these women. The common thread that runs through their lives seems to be the poverty that most of them experienced as children and their inability to find happiness as adults. Many of them died of such diseases as diabetes and various kinds of cancers. The majority of those in the book—and the best known of them—are African-American such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. One might question whether Rosemary Clooney is classified as a jazz singer. The colorful illustrations will make this a good addition to libraries. P7Q8

 

Harper, Charise Mericle. Flush! The Scoop on Poop throughout the Ages. Little, 2007. $15.99. 0-316-01064-2. 24p. Ages 8+: This scatological book will delight almost all of its audience—although it probably can’t be used for a read-aloud. Described as “wacky, witty, and informative,” it fulfills all three of these adjectives with its somewhat frank drawings and descriptions of disposals. The book can be quite useful to discuss other living conditions through history as well as chemistry of elimination. (The book begins with “Uses of Urine.”) It’s my guess that this book will wear out soon!

 

Magaziner, Henry Jonas. Our Liberty Bell. Il. John O’Brien. Holiday House, 2007. $15.95. 0-8234-1892-8. 32p. Ages 8-11: From its arrival in 1752 (when the bell sounded so bad and then cracked that it had to be melted down for another bell) to the present day, the bell ordered as a 50-year celebration of the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges has been used as a symbol of freedom. It rang to communicate important events throughout the colonials’ fight for liberty and was used to celebrate George Washington’s birthday until this bell, too, cracked. Then it was used as a symbol for women’s suffrage and abolitionist groups. The information is interesting and the drawings entertaining, but the author could have used fewer exclamation points and melodramatic comments. This is his first book; he may improve. P6Q8

 

Poetry

Hemphill, Stephanie. Your Own Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83799-9. 261p. Ages 14+: The author fictionalizes the events and people in Plath’s life through a series of poems based on her journals, essays, letters, poetry, and the one autobiographical novel. Brief biographical notes are included at the end of all the short poems throughout the book. Plath became a cult figure after her suicide in 1963, influencing many today. This book is “a welcoming introduction for newcomers and an unflinching valentine for the devoted…[as it] invites readers to savor the rich, turbulent life of an enduring literary trailblazer who so fearlessly articulated the vivid complexities of the human heart.” This book is not for everyone, but those who find it interesting will also find it invaluable.

 

Horowitz, Dave. Five Little Gefiltes. Putnam, 2007. $12.99. 0-399-24608-1. unp. Ages 4-7: When five curious gefilte fish have the chutzpah to explore the world, Mama Gefilte cries “Oy vey!” And so begins this poetic playful take on Yiddish culture, complete with asides in balloons and a glossary of the expressions. As the description says, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll plotz!” A delightful introduction to a different culture or a warm return to a familiar one. P9Q9

 

Lithgow, John. Mahalia Mouse Goes to College. Il. Igor Oleynikov. Simon & Schuster, 2007. $17.99. 1-4169-2715-8. unp. Ages 4-7: This latest book written by Emmy and Tony award winner and illustrated by the art director of a Russian animation studio contains a CD of Lithgow’s reading these witty rhymes which he used as part of his keynote address at Harvard’s commencement in 2005. Lush, thoughtful digitally-treated gouache illustrations help tell the story of a young mouse who finds herself at a college after hiding in a backpack. The happy ending of her graduation evolves from a physics professor who discovers her aptitude for science. Although the rhyming sometimes limps, the verse scans fairly well, and the illustrations are a true joy as is the inspiring message for those struggling in life. P8Q8

 

Picture Books

Breem, Steve. Stick. Dial, 2007. $16.99. 0-8037-3124-0. unp. Ages 3-7: In this almost wordless book, a young frog who likes to do things for himself gets carried away when his tongue sticks to a big dragonfly and he’s pulled across the swamp, through town, and into the busy city. In this debut picture book from a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Breem celebrates his love of travel and his love for New Orleans through the whimsical illustrations and adventures of a little frog—who also manages to find his way home again. P9Q9

 

Burmingham, John. Edwardo: The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World. Knopf, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-84053-1. unp. Ages 3-6: When grownups tell Edwardo that he is the noisiest, messiest, cruelest, dirtiest, nastiest, rudest, and roughest boy in the world, he becomes worse and worse. But the day that they start to praise him, his world turns around. Burningham’s clever watercolors and wit show the power of words in shaping people’s actions. Every parent should read this. P10Q10

 

Compestine, Ying Chang. The Real Story of Stone Soup. Il. Stephane Jorisch. Dutton, 2007. $16.99. 0-525-47493-7. unp. Ages 4-8: In the original story of stone soup, a person puts stones in water over a fire waiting for people to come along and contribute to the “soup.” In this one Chinese fishermen who forget to bring cooking utensils with them find creative ways to make do with what they have and what they can find. They take the hot river rocks from the fire to make it boil. The charm of this book is the narrator who talks about the troublesome, lazy brothers who he has hired to help him whereas the reader knows that it is the employer who is lazy and worthless. The funny watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations add greatly to the book’s effectiveness. P8Q8

 

Falconer, Ian. Olivia…and the Missing Toy. Atheneum, 2007. $16.95. 0-69-85291-6. unp. Ages 3-6: Our favorite feisty female pig is back, this time searching for her favorite toy. The discovery that the family dog tore it up devastated her for a while before she mended the doll and then forgave the hapless pup. Olivia’s independence continues to be delightful as she starts to grow up—her mother now has to make her a soccer shirt, and her two siblings are obviously much younger. This is a shero that children can grow up with! P9Q9

 

Hartman, Bob. Dinner in the Lion’s Den. Il. Tim Raglin. Putnam, 2007. $16.99. 0-399-24674-6. unp. Ages 4-7: The story of Daniel in the lion’s den takes on new

dimension—and a funny one—when an angel plays with Father Lion, Mother Lion, and the two cubs all night long to save Daniel from being dinner. The twist at the end? Daniel is out of the den, and the enemies in—with the angel telling the furry critters that “It’s dinnertime!” This is another traditional tale turned upside down, fun read-aloud with humorous cross-hatch illustrations from the pair that brought young readers The Wolf Who Cried Boy. P9Q8

 

Hume, Lachie. Clancy the Courageous Cow. Greenwillow, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-117249-9. unp. Ages 3-6: The foolishness of judging by appearance is the theme of this story about a Belted Galloway cow with no distinctive white “belt.” Although he is rejected by his herd, he saves them from extinction when he wins the annual cow wrestling match. (He’s gotten strong because he has no white belt and can sneak over to get the good grass!) A great tale about the unfairness of giving the best of everything to those with power over others from a student of agricultural science in his first book. P9Q9

 

Yoo, Taeeun, The Little Red Fish. Dial, 2007. $15.99. 0-8037-3145-5. unp. Ages 3-6: Lovely sepia-toned etchings and hand color provide a background for the red fish and book in this story of a boy, JeJe, who jumps into a book to save his fish in a magical library in the middle of a forest. The author/illustrator created this lovely book for her master’s thesis. P8Q10

 

Graphic Novel

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Heartbreaker. Random House, 2006. $5.99. 0-375-83798-2. 96p. Ages 7-10: Once again this brother/sister team revisits the angst of their school year, this time to write about our heroine’s misadventures in trying to get a date for the Valentine’s Dance. And once again, Babymouse’s fantasies and trials provide humor and pathos for the reader. Coming in May, Babymouse goes to camp! P9Q8

 

Fiction

Fine, Anne. The Return of the Killer Cat. Il. Steve Cox. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-36248-3. 74p. Ages 7-10: Once again, Tuffy the pet cat narrates his escapades in a hilarious fashion as he attempts to escape his family’s cat-sitter. It’s a bittersweet experience when the neighbor dresses him in a nightie and calls him Janet while at the same time feeds him as much tuna and cream as his can eat. Those who delighted in The Diary of a Killer Cat will have another treat. P9Q9

 

Hooper, Mary. The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose. Bloomsbury, 2006. $16.95. 1-58234-854-5. 336p. Ages 13-15: Thrown out of her home in rural England by her stepmother, 15-year-old Eliza Rose goes to 1670 London in search of her father. Delightfully melodramatic experiences are highlighted as Eliza soon ends up in prison. But she always lands on her feet and keeps her virtue as unexpected people befriend

her at every turn, and–gasp–she discovers that she is actually noble-born, a changeling at birth. A fun read without much substance. P7Q7

 

Jones, Diana Wynne. The Pinhoe Egg. A Chrestomanci Book. Greenwillow, 2006. $17.99. 0-06-113124-5. 515p. Ages 11-15: Wizardry and witchcraft are afoot as Cat Chant and Marianne Pinhoe discover a valuable egg hidden in an attic for many years. The resulting birth of a griffin, the young people’s adventures as they seek the source of a powerful bad luck spell that wreaks havoc throughout their land, and the discovery of a magical leader long believed dead all make for an engaging read by the author of such fantasies as Howl’s Moving Castle and other Chrestomanci books. Her effervescent sense of humor and well-developed characters make readers want to visit Jones’ world again and again. P8Q10

 

Miller, Sarah. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. Atheneum, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-2542-2. 227p. Ages 12+: The familiar story of how Annie Sullivan teaches six-year-old Helen Keller to sign in spite of the child’s overprotective family comes to life as Miller, in her first novel, tells about the first month plus a day in their 50-year-old relationship. Miller’s writing is as energetic and entertaining as Miss Sullivan and as spirited as Helen Keller at six. A great read-aloud book from Annie’s point of view as we learn of her disadvantaged childhood and longing for a child’s love. P9Q8

 

Mills, Claudia. Being Teddy Roosevelt. Il. R. W. Alley. Farrar, 2006. $16.00. 90p. Ages 8-11: On the surface, this charming juvenile book is about Riley O’Rourke, a fourth-grader who wants to get a saxophone so badly that his schoolwork improves, especially the biography that he writes about Theodore Roosevelt. But blended into the main plot are a collection of characters that make this book much richer: Sophie who learns that she doesn’t have to be perfect; Erika who manages to keep her feminism intact; and Grant who is brave enough to wear just a loin cloth to school when he gives his report on Mahatma Gandhi. And then there’s Riley’s mother, who learns to trust in her son after he learns tenacity and perseverance from his biography’s subject. This makes a great read-aloud with many subtle lessons for young readers. And it’s fun! P8Q8

 

Townley, Roderick. The Red Thread. Atheneum, 2007. $17.99. 1-4189-0094-3. 294p. Ages 13+: A review of Sky, Townley’s earlier book, described it as “one hell of a book.” The same could be said of this one. The smooth writing draws the reader into the suspense of a teenage girl caught up in two earlier incarnations and suffering from her struggles to save her beloved younger brother from a killer. Sadly, the book loses this energy about halfway through. The characterizations lack realism: boyfriend Chase is just too, too nice for a typical teenage boy, and other characters lack complexity. In addition, the events seem far too coincidental to be believable. Yet young readers will love this book because of the excitement and imagination surrounding Dana’s travels from 21st-century Portmouth, New Hampshire, to England in three different centuries. P8Q7

 

White, Ruth. Way Down Deep. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-38251-4. 197p. Ages 10-14: How did the toddler Ruby June end up on a bench in front the courthouse in a tiny West Virginia town in 1944? That’s the question that she pursues when, at the age of about 12, she meets a new family in town that might have news about her past. This is a book to savor, with memorable characters who are described in such a gentle manner that you know they come from the past. Although Ruby must leave her beloved guardian briefly after her family is found and her unkind grandmother wants her to wait on the older woman hand and foot, all ends happily. The only mystery that remains is how Ruby traveled 60 miles to the town Way Down Deep. P6Q10

 

April 5, 2007 Book Reviews by C.S.

Non-Fiction

Wooten, Sara McIntosh. Frida Kahlo: Her Life in Paintings. Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2005. $ ? . 0-7660-2487-3. Chapter Notes, Bibliography & index. 128 p. 5 th – 9 th grades. Nicely written biography of the Latina artist. Language is suitable for younger students, although details of her life make the book more appropriate for middle school and up. I was most disappointed with the lack of examples of her work to accompanying text. Some pieces are carefully analyzed and then there is no photo. I doubt middle school readers will take the time to find the actual works mentioned. P5 Q5

 

Radziszewicz, Tina. Ready or not? A girl’s guide to making her own decisions about dating, love and sex. Illustrated by Kathryn Lamb. Walker and Company, 2005. $9.95. 0-8027-96125. Resources & Contact, Index. 267 p. 6 th – 12 th grade. BLUNT! Hence probably written in a matter adolescents will pay attention too. Good information, lame illustrations. Should have explored peer pressure more in depth, seems glossed over. Excellent resources (including websites.) P9 Q7

 

Book Reviews April 2007 by C.B.

Cheng, Andrea, Eclipse, Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 2006, 129 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1932425217, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Peti is an 8-year-old refugee from Hungary, who has lived in the U.S. for some time. It is also 1952 and Peti’s parents invite his Uncle’s family to come to Cincinnati, Ohio to live with them. Peti has plenty to worry about, first there is his 12 year-old cousin who picks on him and then there is his Grandfather who is still behind the iron curtain in Hungary, Peti’s only escape is to the public library to read. This story told in the first person narrative gives the reader a look into the hard ships faced by people who emigrate to other countries.

 

Elliott, Patricia, Ambergate, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2005, 2007, 390 pgs., 16.99, ISBN:031601060X, Gr. 9+, P 7, Q 7,

The adventures of Patricia Elliot’s characters in the book Murkmere are continued in this sequel, Ambergate. Scuff, an orphan from the capital city is a young girl who is taken to a remote village to as a servant in the manor house. The Protector’s army years later come to find the young girl who has a arm with the number 102 tattooed on it. Scuff escapes and on her journey she finds love, friends and her true identity. This book will stand on it’s own but would make better sense to the reader if they had read the first one first.

 

Gross, Philip, The lasting, Clarion Books, New York, 2003, 248 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0618659986, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,

During a trip to the Himalayas Paris, a 14-year-old girl, finds not only that her rich Uncle Franklin is not as nice as he always seemed. She finds instead that he is here to find and capture exotic animals, some the last of their kind. It is in this war torn land that they find the Yeti and a young monk named Tahr. Paris and Tahr struggle across the Himalayas trying to avoid Uncle Franklin, survive the rugged conditions and help the Yeti to find others of her kind who have made this journey before.

 

Haydon, Elizabeth, The floating island, illustrated by Brett Helquist, A Tom Dougherty Associates Book, New York, 2006, 368 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0765308673, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,

Using the lost journal of Ven, a 50-year old Nain explorer, the story of his journey is told simultaneously as his life is taking place. Ven’s journey starts on his birthday and involves his ship being attacked and burned, rescued by a mermaid and picked up by a ship which takes him to a floating island and new lands. This adventure is sure to appeal all who love a fantasy adventure.

 

Holm, Jennifer, Penny from heaven, Random House, New York, 2006, 274 pgs,$15.95, ISBN:037583687X, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

In 1953, Penny is an 11 year-old girl living in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her widowed mother and her maternal grandmother and grandfather. Her father is deceased but he comes from a large Italian family which lives nearby and Penny is always visiting them. Penny’s summer, where she will turn 12, starts with no swimming in the public pool because of the Polio threat and a summer job at her Uncles meat store as delivery girl. She also hopes this summer that maybe the Dodger’s will win the pendent this year. Penny also must navigate between her two families who do not get along and will not discuss her fathers death. This humorous but also sad story will appeal to middle school students.

 

Lawrence, Iain, Gemini Summer, Delacorte Press, New York, 2006, 261 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0385730896, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

It’s 1964 and Danny, 8 years-old, and his older brother Beau spend the summer trying to avoid the bully down the street. Danny family all have dreams Beau, dreams of becoming an astronaut, his father is digging a hole in the front yard for a bomb shelter and his mother is busy writing a best selling book. All Danny wants is a dog. It is with the death of his brother and the appearance of a dog, that Danny thinks is his brother reincarnated, that the parents finally come to see that is not right with their family. Danny runs away and is brought home by Gus Grissom a Gemini astronaut in a jet, T-38.

 

Lord, Cynthia, Rules, Scholastic Press, New York, 2006, 200 pgs., $15.99 ISBN:0439443822, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 9,

Catherine is 12 years-old and lives with her brother David, who is autistic, and her mother and father. It is also Catherine who many times must care for David and had come up with a set of rules so that he doesn’t always embarrass her. One such rule is no toys in the fish tank. This is a great book for parents and children to read so that they can understand what siblings of handicapped children face and feel.

 

Marillier, Juliet, Wildwood dancing, Alfred, A. Knopf, New York, 2007, 407 pgs, glossary, $16.99, ISBN:0375833641, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

This fantasy tale has all the ingredients of what a fantasy needs. From the talking magical frog, to a wall that lets the sister into a fairy realm this book will captivate the reader’s attention and they won’t want to put it down till it’s finished.

 

O’Connor, Barbara, How to steal a dog, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2007, 170 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0374334978, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q7

Georgia Hayes and her family are now homeless and living in car. Her mother has two jobs and struggles to keep her family together and fed. She keeps telling Georgia and her brother that soon they will have enough money to get an apartment. Georgia however tires of this situation and steals dog to get the reward that she is sure to follow. After all they can use the money to get a place to stay. Students will be drawn to this book that so many people face today.

 

Vejjajiva, Jane, The happiness of Kati, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2003,139 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:1416917888, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

Kati lives in Thailand with her grandmother and grandfather. Her mother who left her years before is now asking to see her and Katie must decided if this is what she wants. Eventually Kati does go to her mother who is dying of ALS and is together with her mother for her final weeks. Health teachers could use as a read aloud to introduce the topic of diseases in their classes.

 

Non Fiction

Hughes, Ted, Collected poems for children, illustrated by Raymond Briggs, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, 259 pgs., index, first line index, $18.00, ISBN:0374314292, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This is a collection of over 200 children’s poems by the late Ted Hughes. Starting with whimsical poems this collection eventually expands to longer and more complex poems but still have the quirky tone to them. Line drawings by Briggs are scattered thought the book illustrating the funny characters of Hughes poems. This is a must for any elementary library.

 

Katz, Bobbi, Trailblazers: poems of exploration, illustrated by Carin Berger, Greenwillow Books, 1993, 2007, 208 pgs, map, index, index of first lines, $18.99, ISBN:0688165338, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Poems featuring explores of the world are gathered together in this book. Starting with Adam and Eve and concluding with Sylvia A Earle this collection of poems offers the reader a poetic look at the explores of the world. Biographies of various explores are also featured in the book. Geography teachers will love this book as a way to introduce exploration to their classes.

 

MacLeod, Elizabeth, Eleanor Roosevelt: an inspiring life, Kids Can Press, 2006, 32 pgs., index, $14.95, ISBN:1553377788, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

The life of Eleanor Roosevelt is discussed from her being shy as a child to her final days in England where she took part in writing the human bill of rights. Period photos and personal quotes make this book a good starting point for students who are researching this honorable person.

 

Wallner, Alexander, Lucy Maud Montgomery: the author of Anne of Green Gables, Holiday House, New York, 2006, unp., $16.95, ISBN:082341549X: Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7,

Good biographies for elementary age students are hard to find. This book with its picture book approach is one that meets the requirements for young readers. Not only does the folk art style pictures add charm to the book but also displays the area she lived in and how it too affected her writing. Lucy Montgomery’s, life from a child poem published in a newspaper to her struggle to get Anne of Green Gables published are all mentioned.

 

Reviews by B.R. Yaquina View

Cazet, Denys. The Shrunken Head. HarperCollins, c2007. ISBN 0060730137. 48 pgs., $15.99. Grades K-2. (Q 7, P7) When Barney gets the chickenpox and itches, Grandpa comes to the rescue with one of his anti-itch stories. Grandma has other ideas, she is going to the store and Grandpa is to mow the grass. When Barney’s friend Harold arrives with comic books, Grandpa cons him into mowing the grass so he can sit down and start the story. The story begins….. Grandpa and Doc Storkmeyer rides their bicycles into the jungle where they come upon headhunters. Of course they are captured and of course they get away, but the adventure is fun and exciting. This is a high interest story for developing readers.

 

Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About Reptiles. Ills. by Christopher Moroney. Random House, c2007. ISBN 0375836853. unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) Another colorful informative book from Sesame Subjects, this book explores reptiles. This would be a good book to share with a small group. The pictures are clear and up close to their subjects and the simple sentences are very informative.

 

Kleinberg, Naomi. Happy Healthy monsters Good Night, Tucked in Tight. Ills. by Barry Goldberg. Random House, c 2007. ISBN 0375835687. Unp. $6.99. Grades PreS. (Q6, P5) Grover and Elmo tell little ones all about bedtime. Grover is in Elmo’s dream and they distribute their Sleepy Dust to help their friends fall asleep. Throughout the book is important facts about getting enough sleep and how to make bedtime easy and pleasant.

 

Winter, Jonah. Diego. Ills. by Jeanette Winter. Alfred. A. Knopf, c1991. ISBN 0679819878. Unp. $15.99. Grades 1-4. (Q8, P6) This beautiful book about the life and work of Diego Rivera focuses on his early life. His birth and the death of his twin brother, how he became sick and who helped him become well, it then goes on to talk about his love for painting. How he develops his art and what he does with it in young adulthood are also included. The pictured are bordered in Mexican folk-art designs done in vivid, resonate tropical tones. The text is done in English and Spanish and is written in easy to read short sentences. This book should be included in any library that has any Mexican patrons.

 

Kelly, Irene. It’s a Butterfly’s Life. Holiday House, c2007. ISBN 082341860X. Unp. $16.95. Grades K-3rd. (Q6, P6) This book written in simple informative text guides the reader through the life of a butterfly as it transforms from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, emerging into a beautiful butterfly with graceful wings. Watercolors, molded ink and gouache artwork will entice the children to look closely to nature.

 

Bowe, Julie. My Last Best Friend. Harcourt, c2007. ISBN 0152057773. 146 Pgs. $16.00. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q7, P6) Ida May’s best friend moves away and she had decided to never have a best friend again. When Stacey Merriweather moves into town, Ida May can’t help herself, she won’t talk to Stacey but communicates through writing anonymous notes. The friendship develops with the notes until one day there is no choice but to reveal who she is. Then the real friendship begins.

 

Farm Tales. Random House, c2007. ISBN 0375839429. 213 Pgs. $10.99, Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P6) This collection of nine Little Golden Books about farm animals will delight everyone. The bright and colorful illustrations will delight young ones with its portrayal of happy people and animals.

 

Fine, Anne. Jennifer’s Diary. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c1996. ISBN 0374336733. 58 Pgs. $15.00. Grades 2nd-4th. (Q6, P6) Jennifer’s aunt gave her a diary, but Jennifer didn’t have anything to write in it. Her friend Iola is bursting with ideas and takes over the diary writing in it. Only her writing is made up stories. This easy reading book will delight and possibly encourage young girls to write in their own diary.

 

Martin, Ann M. On Christmas Eve. Scholastic Press, c2006. ISBN 0439745888. 149 Pgs. $15.99. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P5) Tess is eight and still believes in the miracle of Santa. As Christmas arrives Tess decides to wait up for Santa to ask him to make her friend Sarah’s father better. He is sick with cancer. Tess learns the hope and magic of life although she is disappointed that Santa

 

J.K. Parent Volunteer NMS/INMS Book Reviews

Lanagan, Margo, White Time, Harper Collins, New York, 2006, 216 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:006074393X, Gr. 8+, P 6, Q 8,

A collection of intricately written futuristically styled short stories that require some concentration by the reader so they can get involved with the story. The effect is worth while, however, because the author explores emotional issues in a creatively different way.

 

Oates, Joyce, After the wreck, I picked myself up, spread my wings and flew away, HarperCollins, New York, 2006, 289 pgs., 2006, $16.99, ISBN:0060735252, Gr.8+, P 7, Q 8,

More suitable for high school age students due to a gang rape scene that’s not overly graphic but involves drugs and alcohol. Great story about a 15 year-old who blames herself for her mother’s death in a car accident. The guilt she feels caused her to push people away until she meets Crow, who helps her discover the truth about the accident and herself.

 

May 2007 Reviews

 

DGH LCSD Media Specialist

 

Everybody Books

Haskins, Lori. Ducks in Muck; for Baby. Illus. Valeria Petrone. Random House Children’s Books, 2000. 978-0-375-84028-9. $4.99. unp. Ages 1-3. P8Q5

Board books are always great at this age because the kids can handle the book, turn the pages, and put their fingers on the illustrations. I am concerned that the binding won’t hold up the way two year olds hold a book. The story line simple, the words repetitive, illustrations bright; altogether a read-aloud the littlest ones will enjoy. Knowing that many kids just gaining language skills pronounce the “tr” sound with an “f” made me smile to think how prominently the word “truck” plays

 

Brown, Margaret Wise. I Like Stars. Illus. Joan PaLey. Random House Children’s Books, 2000. 978-0-375-84027-2. $4.99. unp. Ages 1-3. P8Q5

The text for this board book read aloud, comes from a 1954 Golden Book, but the illustrations were redone in 1998. Four animal paper cut out illustrations “like stars” each of four colors. The text didn’t quite flow and rhyme towards the end, but the colors were lively and the animal characters were fun.

Dead High Yearbook is the title and theme of this graphic novel whose audience is “live” high school readers. Fans of this genre won’t be overly pleased because it follows pretty familiar territory and stereotypical situations. The art and stories are each done by different artist-authors so the “chapters” in the yearbook are unique and fresh. A little bit splashy with the blood, but with a title like Dead High, the reader pretty much knows what they’re getting into!

 

May Reviews 2007

 

J.C. Cataloger

Bell, Hilari. Shield of stars. (The shield, sword, and crown, book one.) Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2007. 267 p. “Ages 8-12.” ISBN 9781416905943/1416905944 $16.99 P7Q8

When his protector and employer Justice Holis is arrested for treason, young Weasel, a semi-reformed pickpocket tries to free him, first by speaking to the Prince, and then by seeking out a powerful outlaw. While he and an imprisoned girl escape from imprisonment in the castle, Weasel finds an old shield—one of the magical artifacts supporting the king and kingdom. A

quest in search of justice, this is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. Recommended for school and public library collections.

 

Calhoun, Dia. Avielle of Rhia. Uncorrected proof. Marshall Cavendish, released Oct. 2006. [400] p. “Ages 11 up.” ISBN 9780761453208/0761453202 $16.99 P7Q7

Princess Avielle of Rhia, has the Dredonian features passed down from her evil great-great-grandmother, and—alternately shunned and abused—wonders if she will actually develop her grandmother’s evil powers. When the kingdom is attacked by the Dredonian Brethren of the Black Cloaks, and the royal family killed, Avielle hides in the city among the common folk, apprenticing to learn the weaver’s craft and develops her own magical gift. Lacking a leader, the Rhian leadership begins targeting those citizens who have Dredonian characteristics. Unable to break through her fears until the death of her gentle mentor, Avielle is the only hope of the beleaguered nation. One of the few authors who realistically depicts the effects of fear, Calhoun brings an immediacy to her fantasy works that is often lacking in the genre. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

B.R. Yaquina View May 2007

Rex, Michael. You Can Do Anything, Daddy!. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2007. ISBN 0399242988. Unp. $14.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P6) This is a delightful bedtime story which develops into a tall tale. All Dads are not tall strong macho looking. This book has a Dad who is bald and middle aged; even so he is this son’s hero. He would save him from pirates, swim the ocean, tie snakes in knots and more to save his son. Dad gets hot and thirsty so the son gives him cold apple juice and bandages his scrapes and scratches.

 

Parker, Marjorie Blain. Your Kind of Mommy. Ills. by Cyd Moore. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. ISBN 0525469893. Unp. $12.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P6) This book is a celebration of all mothers, animal and human alike. While a Mother Bee can make sweet honey, a human knows her treats will do. An elephant would sprinkle you with water from her trunk but a human mother knows her baths will do. The illustrations are warm and fuzzy without being over powering sweet. A great book to read around Mother’s day.

 

Vestergaard, Hope. I Don’t Want to Clean My Room. Ills. by Carol Koeller. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. ISBN 0525477764. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P7) What a horrible chore for young children, cleaning their room. Cleaning my room, making my bed, even recycling will be more fun after reading the catchy rhymes in this book. The playful illustrations will bring delightful smiles to all who share this book.

 

Cotton, Cynthia. Some Babies Sleep. Ills. by Paul Tong. Philomel Books, c2007. ISBN 0399240306. Unp. $12.00. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P8) This is a darling book about where baby animals sleep. A baby is shown sleeping along with animals, in a stall with a colt, in a pouch with a kangaroo, even curled up with their sisters and brothers in their chimpanzee mother’s arms. Finally the child is shown snuggled in their own bed. The fuzzy oil paintings are just right to lull a child to sleep.

 

Foley, Greg. Thank You Bear. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670061654. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P5) Most everybody is enchanted with books about baby bears, this one is no different. Bear finds an empty box and just knows his friend, mouse, will just love it. Along the way bear shows it to his other friends. They put doubts into Bears mind. Owl has seen such things before, Fox tells him he is holding it the wrong way, rabbit didn’t have time to look at it, and on it goes till bear finally finds mouse. Mouse thinks it is just right for his bed and curls up and goes to sleep. The text is plain written on pastel pages while the opposite page has illustrations of pastels on bright white backgrounds.

 

Harper, Jo. I Could Eat You Up!. Ills. by Kay Chorao. Holiday ;House, c2007. ISBN 0823417336. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-1st.m (Q6, P5) This simply written book, with one short sentence on each page, uses different animals to demonstrate a mother’s love for her child. Cute sentences match the animal: You’re my biscuit treat. You’re my sugar lump. Etc. The illustrations are in pastel water colors and are charming showing the love each animal had for its child.

 

Asher, Sandy. What A Party!. Ills. by Keith Graves. Philomel Books, c2007. ISBN 0399244964. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Froggie liked his hut t the edge of the pond. He woke up and it was Grandpa’s birthday so he joined the other frogs where they were hanging decorations, fixing refreshments and preparing party hats. Froggie needed to make himself a costume for his very special gift to Grandpa. He was going to sing a song. At the end of the day he went back to his own little hut. Children will understand Froggie’s feelings of self worth for giving such a wonderful gift. A great book to read for Grandparent’s day or maybe a birthday.

 

Ryder, Joanne. Toad by the Road. Ills. by Maggie Kneen. Henry Holt and Co., c2007 ISBN 080507354X. 37 Pgs. $16.95. Grades K-4th. (Q7, P7) A book of poems about frogs combined with facts make this book a wonderful addition to any library. Divided into the four seasons, the author has described how wonderful it is to be a frog, catching flies, shedding skin, and fooling predators by playing dead. It takes the reader from the springtime tadpoles into full grown frogs that hibernate in the winter. The illustrations are done with great detail.

 

Arnosky, Jim. Babies in the Bayou. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2007. ISBN 0399226532. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q8, P7) Beautifully written, Babies in the Bayou, illustrates the ecosystem without being gruesome. While white birds wade in shallow water, the alligator floats near her babies on a log. The raccoons look in the water and feed upon turtle eggs on the shore, yet the same picture show more turtles hatching and then heading to the water. The illustrations done in green, yellows and blue acrylics are framed with dark branches and grasses. A Great book to introduce bayou life to little readers.

 

Zimmerman Andrea and David Clemesha. Fire Engine Man. Henry Holt & Company, c2007. ISBN 080507905X. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-K. (Q8, P9) Imagination is a wonderful thing and in this book a young boy imagines he is a fireman. Dressed in his fire gear, driving his trusty fire truck and putting out the fire is viewed from the eyes of a young boy. This book has great clear and colorful illustrations which will entice the young reader to turn the pages.

 

Wells, Rosemary. Max Counts His Chickens. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670062227. UNP. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q8, P6) Max and Ruby wake up on Easter morning to look for ten hot-pink marshmallow chicks hidden all over the house. While Ruby is finding all her bunnies, Max can’t find any. Every where Max hunts, he leaves a mess behind: in the toothpaste tube, leaving toothpaste all over the bathroom. He looks in the dinning room and leaves the silverware all over the floor. When Grandma finds Max without any bunnies, she makes a phone call and ten yellow marshmallow chicks come through the mail slot. The fun of counting as Ruby finds her chicks will delight children. Egg colored pages features large numbers and hot pink chicks along with the delightful pictures of Max and Ruby looking for chicks. This book could be put in the holiday section but why not put it in the everybody section, it would create more usage.

 

Lillegard, Dee. Balloons Balloons Balloons. Ills. by Bernadette Pons. Dutton Children’s Books. C12007. ISBN 0525459405. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P6) Written in prose, this book celebrates colorful balloons and familiar places for children. Balloons are floating into town and blanket everything. The sidewalk, streets, buildings, chairs, and on and on until evening and then they rise into the sky like a rocket where the fly away to other suns and moons. This book would be good for learning colors; children could pick out the colored balloons as the story is read.

 

Bateman, Teresa, Traveling Tom and the Leprechaun. Ills. by Melisade Potter. Holiday House, c2007. ISBN 0823419762. Inp. $16.95. Grades K-5th. (Q6, P6) Kathleen, the king of Ireland’s daughter, was a beautiful princess who did not want to marry any of the knights who came to vie for her hand. The only man worth marrying would be one who could capture a leprechaun’s pot of gold. When Tom, the traveling minstrel, came to town he fell in love with Kathleen. He charmed the pot of gold out of the leprechaun by telling a tale, now he could claim the hand of the princess.

 

Kidslabel, Spot What 7 Animals. Kidslabel, c2005. ISBN 0811857220. 31 Pgs.$12.95. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q6, P7) Two photos that look the same, but there are seven differences in each set, can you sport them? This book will take hours and hours to complete and children will enjoy looking at the colorful photos over and over. In the back of the book two pages is two pages with the differences if the pictures, also included is a web site if you can’t find the differences.

 

Adler, Davis, A. The story of Roy Campanella Campy. Illd. By Gordon C. James. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670060410. Unp. $15.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) Roy Campanella was the first catcher and second person to break the color barrier of baseball. This book tells the story of a great baseball player who was born to an Italian father and an

African American mother. He loved playing baseball from the time he was a small boy till he was crippled in a car accident at the age of 37. After fighting back from his accident he became a Dodgers spring training coach and later had a radio program, television show and held baseball clinics for teenagers. He was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1969. This story is one of courage and determination, although it doesn’t talk much about the struggles he endured while becoming a major league baseball player. The illustrations are done in soft-focus pastel oils which compliment the story.

 

Hennessy, B.G. Corduroy’s Sleepover. Ills. by Lisa McCue. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670061859. Unp. $11.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) Corduroy’s friend has invited him and his friends to a sleepover. Corduroy doesn’t know what to pack. They play games, build forts, eat popcorn and watch movies, but when it is time to go to sleep Blue Mouse isn’t ready to sleep. Corduroy reads a story and Checkerboard Bunny sings him a song and soon the four are asleep. This would be a great book to read to a child who is going for his first sleepover.

 

Hogg, Gary. Beautiful Buehla and the Zany Zoo Makeover. Ills. by Victoria Chess. Katherine Tegen Books, c2006. ISBN 0060094206. Unp. $15.99. Grades K-2nd. (Q7, P7) It is picture day at the zoo and Mr. Phipps, the zookeeper, is not happy with how his animals look. He calls in Beautiful Buehla to help. She brings her to-go-makeup bag and gets busy. She curls the lion’s main, puts face makeup on the hippo, colors the gorilla pink and dresses the bears in disco outfits. When the photographer comes Buehla is not ready and starts to put powder on her face. The elephant sneezes and blows off all of Buehla’s hard work, so the picture is of the natural look of each animal.

 

San Jose , Christine. Six Swans. Ills. by Jes Cole. Boyds Mill Press, c2006. ISBN 1590780566. Unp. $16.95. Grades 1st-4th. (Q8, P6) This story is a retelling of “Six Swans” based on the tale as written by Brothers Grimm. The illustrations alone in this book would entice children to pick up the book. They are clear, colorful and have lots of detail. The King, while on an outing of hunting, came across a shrieking creature that drug him to her lair and threatened him that if he did not marry her daughter he would never leave. He took his six sons and daughter to a magical spot in the woods where they lived happily for years. One day the boys were turned into swans and the girl had to sew six shirts out of fragile stitch work flowers and to not utter any sounds. This would take her six years to accomplish, but she did it.

 

DuQuette, Keith. Little Monkey Lost. G.P. Putnam Son’s, c2007. ISBN 0399242945. Unp. $15.99. PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Little Monkey is bored and when a lily pad floats by he decides to hop aboard and travel. He soon realizes he is lost and remembers his mother telling him if he ever gets lost just ask the other monkeys the way home. He comes upon many other monkeys but none of them know the way home but they do teach him many things. He learns how to howl, hug, how to swing on vines, etc. He finally makes it home where he teaches his troop all these things and is never bored again. Included in the book is information on all the species of monkeys in this book.

 

Prelutsky, Jack. good sports. Ills. by Chris Raschuka. Alfred A. Knopf, c2007 ISBN 0375837000. Unp. $16.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) This book consists of untitled poems about different sports. Whether you are proficient or just and average or even not so average sports player, you will enjoy these poems. One person saves the day by catching the fly ball, other swims like a fish that has been sick for days. The illustrations are done in watercolors with pen and ink lines.

 

Hills, Tad. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz & Wade Books, c2007. ISBN 0375840680. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q5, P6) Duck has a new friend, Thistle, and Goose is not happy about it. Goose and Duck usually are laid back while Thistle is quite competitive. Thistle thinks she is the best of everything she does whether it is math, having butterflies land on her nose, stand on her head, anything. Finally Goose and Duck become tired and trick Thistle to be the best sleeper and she lays down and takes a nap while the other two go off and play quietly by themselves. While this seems to take care of the immediate problem, what happens when Thistle wakes up and continues her competitive ways? The book does not solve the problem. This book could be used in situations where friends are having trouble sharing friends by opening up discussion.

 

Lakin, Patricia. Rainy Day. Ills. by Scott Nash. Dial Books, c2007. ISBN 0803730926. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Four crocodile friends become bored during a rainy day. Nothing to: make, bake, paint or play. They put on their rain clothes and go outside where they try all types of play but nothing works out because it is raining too much. Finally they end up in the library in a cozy corner to read about their favorite thing. The illustrations shows some detail in the animals clothing but are fairly plain otherwise will still create enjoyment for the young one to look at.

 

Gorbaschev, Valeri. Red Red Red. Philomel Books, c2007. ISNB 0399246282. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd.. (Q7, P6) Turtle rushes by his neighbors who want to know why he is in such a hurry. When he tells them that he is off on a mission to see something red they all want to know if it is something they have, red roses, red tomatoes, red watermelon, red socks or a red roof? NO, so they all follow him to the top of the hill where they see the beautiful red sunset. The illustrations done in pen-and-ink watercolors show the animals all in clothing.

 

Loomis, Christime. The Best Father’s Day Present Ever. Ills. by Pam Paraone. G. P. Putnam’s Sons., c2007. ISBN 0399242538.m Unp. $15.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q4, P5) Langley, the snail, is looking for just the right Father’s Day present. Mom tells him to make him something, but Langley thinks of the past presents he has made and is not impressed with them. A picture which was suppose to be Dad’s favorite spot by the stream but looked like a “bluish-purplish monster dripping blue ooze”, a picture frame with gluey macaroni, a paperweight for his dad to take to work. The problem with that was Mr. Snail did not have a desk at work. He heads to the store but is too slow and the store closes before he arrives. On the way home Langley has an idea, he finally gives his dad an invitation for a walk. Together they enjoy the outdoors and everything it provides for a delightful time. This story again proves the idea that doing things together can be better than anything money can buy. This is a good book to read before Father’s Day but the long sentences and some of the text is hard to read for the younger child. (Turbo-Blaster-Car-Washer-and-Ice-Cream-Maker and Super-Duper-Golf-O-Matic-Home-Ball-Washer) The first of the book is somewhat comical but does not carry throughout till the end.

 

Sayre, April Pulley. Hush, Little Puppy. Ills. by Susan Winter. Henry Holt and Company, c2007. ISBN 0805071024. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P6) It is time for the little puppy and boy to go to sleep. They think of all the fun they had during the day, running, splashing, sloppy smooches and fetching sticks. Tomorrow they can play again for now they are tired and ready to sleep. The cuddly warm illustrations help entice warm cuddly sleepy feelings.

 

Trine, Greg. Superhero, Terror in Tights. Ills. by Rhode Montijo. Henry Holt & CO., C2007. ISBN 0805079238. 138 Pgs. $16.95 Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Melvin Beederman and his side kick, Candance are in trouble. The superhero duo is quite puzzled who is sending threatening e-mail to Melvin. Working together the two solve the problem finding out the person who is sending the e-mail. When this person comes to wipe out Melvin, they manage to thwart him and send him to the judge for his consequences.

 

Pfeffer, Wendy. We Gather Together, Celebrating the Harvest Season. Ills by Linda Bleck. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525476695. Unp. $17.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q8, P6) Pfeffer has created a great book on how harvests are gathered and celebrated by different cultures. She explains about the solstices and equinoxes in an easily understandable way. At the end of the book are activities you can do dealing with the equinoxes, showing how the tilt of the earth makes the seasons, a recipe for Equinox corn muffing instructions on making Nigerian harvest masks and how to celebrate. It also dedicates two pages on helping the reader with suggestions of other research information. The illustrations draw the reader into the text with its vibrant colors and helps weave interest into the book.

 

Carmody, Isobelle. Little fur, A Fox Called Sorrow. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375838562. 245 Pgs, $14.99. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q6, P6) Little Fur is on a second adventure to thwart the Troll King’s plan to destroy the earth magic running through the natural world. Reading the first sequel is not necessary to enjoy this one, but it does build on the events of the first, The Legend Begins. Little Fur is joined by a new character, Sorrow, a fox which had no wish to live. Little Fur is half troll half fairy and had magical healing powers. The simple pen-and-ink drawings visualize some of the characters which should help the reader understand the feelings each animal has.

 

Guzman, Michael. Finding Stinko. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2007. ISBN 0374323054. 136 Pgs. $16.00. Grades 4th-8th (Q7, P6) After being left at birth and living in eleven foster homes in twelve years, Newboy manages to escape. He hasn’t talked in three years, one day he just quit talking and nobody knew why, especially Newboy. He finds an old broken ventriloquist’s dummy, names him Stinko, and Stinko becomes his voice. The story deals with friendships and the loyalty they inspire.

 

Strasser, Todd. Con-fidence. Holiday House, c2002. ISBN 0823420612. 154 Pgs. $6.95. Grades 5th-8th. (Q8, P6) Lauren lacks the confidence to try to belong with the “in crowd” until newcomer Celeste befriends her. Lauren doesn’t realize Celeste is using her to knock Krista off her throne. They run for class co-treasurer together but Lauren does all the work. They go shopping together but Lauren ends up buying all the snacks and paying for the taxis because Celeste has forgotten her wallet. The reader will pick up on the hints that Celeste is not a nice person, but Lauren doesn’t realize until the end that Celeste has actually stolen the class money and convinced Lauren to use her own money to replace it. Lauren finally learns a valuable lesson about the value of true friendship.

 

June 2007 Reviews

 

May Reviews 2007 DGH Media Specialist

Rumford, James, Don’t Touch My Hat!, Alfred Knopf Publisher, 2007, 978-0-375-83782, $16.99, unp., 1st-3rd graders

Beginning with end papers, which re-tell the story’s highlights in an old western newspaper format, to the ol’ west vernacular throughout, this multi-color paged book tells the story of good guy Sheriff John and his ten gallon hat. Using repetitive phrases like, “Don’t Touch My Hat” Sheriff John learns the lesson in the end that, “Its Your Heart, Not Your Hat” that makes the difference. This would be a fun read aloud that kids would find amusing and it has a lesson that can be a springboard to discussing what is really important in a person’s character. P7 Q6

 

McCarty, Peter, Fabian Escapes, Henry Holt & Co., 2007, 978-0-8050-7713-1, $16.95, unp., 1st-3rd graders

Muted beige paper and brown text add feeling tone to this simple storyline and beautiful illustrations by Caldecott Honor recipient Peter McCarty. For those who loved Hondo and Fabian, this book contrasts a day shared by both of them. Hondo stays at home while Fabian escapes to the wide world outside… but who has more fun and who causes more trouble before the day is over… P8 Q8

 

Clark, Mary Higgins, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Ghost Ship A Cape Cod Story, Simon & Schuster Books, 2007, 978-1-4169-3514-8, $17.99 unp. 3rd-5th graders

Author of many adult mysteries, Clark writes this picture book for young children using an old Cape Cod ghost story as her vessel. There is quite a bit of text and new vocabulary, and readers learn about sailing and living in New England 250 years ago, but the illustrations bring the story alive for young readers. P8 Q7

 

Mathews, John, Pirates Most Wanted, Atheneum Books, 2007, 978-1-4169-3934-4, $19.95, 5th-8th graders

With a jolly roger on the cover, complete with a jewel in the eye of the skull, this book is sure to attract attention! It is almost a novelty book because it has fold out pages, notes that have to be unfolded, and booklets stapled to pages. It is packed with information (almost too crowded) about 13 infamous pirates and their trade of plundering. It is not for the timid with blood splashed on almost every page, and images of a severed finger, battle scenes, and executions. The author uses many historical images, Wyeth paintings of pirates, cut away diagrams, and other eye catchers so that the reader is constantly visually stimulated, but the text is sometimes difficult to read because font styles and size are changed up throughout the book. I wouldn’t purchase because the format is such that the book will be beat up and torn up after a few checkouts, and it seems to be a rip-off of the “ology” books that fly off the shelves of elementary libraries, but pirate lovers would probably enjoy it as a gift from their loved ones. P9 Q6

 

Lester, Julius, This Strange New Feeling: Three Love Stories from Black History, Dial Books, 1982, 0-8037-8491-0, $16.99, 7th-9th graders

Historical fiction on the story collection shelf probably won’t be found and read in libraries, but those who are intrigued about slaves and slavery, and the fact that love can grow even in this condition will be pleased with this Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Each of the three stories were developed from historical documents, researched, and then fictionalized by the author. P8 Q9

 

June Book Reviews L.F., NMS & INMS

 

Fiction Selections

Willis, Jeanne. Who’s in the Bathroom? Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-4169-3516-2 np. Gr. PK-1 Not really just another “gross humor” book, Willis’ tale is more a “it’s my potty and I’ll pry if I want to” poem. Reynolds’ bright and fun water color follow the exploration, “is it a tiger who needed to tiddle”, or a “wandering wombat who wanted to widdle?” and so forth. The portrayals of the various creatures are amusing and engaging, and this would make a great read-aloud for the younger set, possibly used as a prelude to a lesson on bathroom etiquette. P7 Q6

 

Christelow, Eileen. Letters from a Desperate Dog. Clarion Books, New York, 2006. $16.00 ISBN:978-0-618-51003-0 32 p. Gr. 1-3 Emma is an underappreciated, misunderstood mutt who shares her trials with Queenie, an email canine “Dear Abby” from the Weekly Bone. After several tries, Emma takes Quennie’s advice and gets a job, which leads to a career on stage and on the road. Her former owner publishes and posts “missing dog” ads and Emma realizes that she is loved, after all. They are reunited after one of her stage performances, but all is not perfect, as she continues her “bad doggie” behavior. It’s a fun story, handled in a quasi-graphic novel style, which would appeal to older elementary kids who might be encouraged to write their own story in this format. P6 Q 6

 

Sidjanski, Brigitte. Little Chicken & Little Fox. Illustrated by Sarah Emmanuelle Burg. Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-698-40044-5 np. Gr. PK-1 This book has it all – a touching story, exquisite illustrations, and chickens. It’s a story of two unlikely friends (fox and hen) who help each other. Young children will be easily relate to the fox’s predicament and will be soothed by the chicken’s courage and determination. The watercolor and pencil illustrations are wonderfully understated and skillfully rendered. A great read-aloud. P6 Q 8

 

Weston, Carrie. If a Chicken Stayed for Supper. Illustrated by Sophie Fatus. Holiday House, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-2067-1 np. Gr. PK-1 Almost identical in theme to the Sidjanski book above, Weston’s tale is about young foxes who are ‘found’ by a helpful hen. While not nearly so ‘warm and fuzzy’ in text or illustration as the other book, Weston’s is far more amusing and creatively presented. P7 Q9

 

Baddiels, Ivor and Sophie Jubb. Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack! Illustrated by Ailie Busby. Random House, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 978-0-385-75104-9 np. Gr. PK – 1. A fun read aloud, this book follows the travails of a young rooster who is learning the appropriate way to crow. Illustrations are bright and engaging. P6 Q6

 

Arnold, Tedd. The Twin Princes. Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 938-0-8037-2696-3 np. Gr. 1-3 Readers expecting the usual cornball, slapstick comedy from Tedd Arnold will be refreshingly surprised and impressed with The Twin Princes. Expanding on a riddle his father shared with him long ago, Arnold weaves a tale of two very different twin princes, one thoughtful and the other thoughtless. As they vie for the title of king, the riddle comes into play. Arnold manages to give a strong lesson on kindness, but leaves out none of his usual shenanigans – there’s enough puns and craziness to engage even the most reluctant reader. A great classroom read-aloud! P8 Q10

 

Baker, Sharon Reiss. A Nickel, a Trolley, a Treasure House. Illustrated by Beth Peck. Viking, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-670-05982-9 np. Gr. 3-5 Baker’s story, loosely based on a biographical sketch of her grandfather, is a snapshot of what urban boyhood must have been like around the turn of the century. The story centers around young Lionel, a gifted young artist, and Miss Morrissey, a teacher who befriends him and treats him to a visit at the Met. There he discovers “the world through the artists’ eyes.” It’s a sweet and engaging tale of a young lad who grew up in poverty and made good in the art world (among his many creations is the MGM lion.) Peck’s illustrations, while dark and hardly cheery, are true to Reiss’ Reconstructionist style that he became noted for. This book would be a great addition to classroom studies in art, as it segways nicely into how artists portray their environment. P6 Q8

 

Ibbotson, Eva. Not just a Witch. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Dutton, New York, 2003. $15.99 ISBN:0-525-47101-4 185 p. Gr. 4-8 Following the same format as the more rollicking Which Witch?, Ibbotson has spun another imaginative tale centering on well-meaning, good witches. The romp is convoluted, yet fast-paced and engaging for even reluctant readers. Characters are richly developed, and Hawkes’ pen and ink illustrations add a nice spice. P7 Q6

 

Henry, O. The Gift of the Magi. Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 978-1-4169-3586-5 np. Gr. 3-5 Wonderful, timeless story + exquisite illustrations = great book? Should be, but the font that they selected for this text makes it incredibly difficult to read, especially for younger children. The illustrations, while charming and very authentic-looking, are too detailed and dark to make this edition an engaging read-aloud for a classroom. Still, it’s a beautiful coffee-table book and would make a great holiday gift to a young family. P5 Q8

 

Nonfiction Selections

Pringle, Laurence. Penguins! Strange and Wonderful. Illustrated by Meryl Henderson. Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale PA, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 1-59078-090-6 32 p. Gr. 2-6 This thoughtfully organized and nicely presented book covers all 17 species of penguins found on earth. While it’s not one of those books you would go “oh wow” about, the depth and quality of information given is actually very unique for a young children’s book. The detailed water color illustrations are nicely done and technically perfect, but have a “magazine” feel to them; not surprising, since Boyds Mill Press is actually a division of Highlights for Children publishing. As crazy as kids are about penguins and as few really good nonfiction books are out there on them, this is a must have for any elementary school library. Includes websites for further information. P8 Q8

 

Edelman, Marian Wright. I can make a difference. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Harper Collins, New York, 2005. $20.89 ISBN: 978-0-06-028052-9 112 p. Gr. 3-7 I really wanted to like this book; besides having a great purpose (inspiring young people), the illustrator is fabulous. What I found was a book of poorly selected and badly organized quotes that were only passively illustrated, totally a half-hearted attempt. For example, Moser’s watercolor portrait of George Washington Carver should accompany Carver’s quote, but it comes a page later. Moser’s usually scintillating graphics are mostly pretty dull and unimaginative, not inspiring in the least. The text is similarly lackluster; many of the passages are out of place and don’t relate well to each other, even though the theme should clearly be unifying. Out of the thirty or so selections Edelman includes, over half are either too preachy or too convoluted to engage elementary-aged (grades 2-4) youth, the audience the book is aimed at. I believe it would be better presented to older elementary or early middle-school, where it could be part of a unit that explores fables, religion, etc. It’s the sort of book that adults who don’t have kids buy for kids or give as awards. It’s sad to me, as there are so many wonderful stories and quotes that Edelman might have selected that would have made this a fantastic tool for bringing character education to our schools. P 5 Q 5

 

Rozakis, Laurie. Get Test Smart!. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $7.99 ISBN: 0-439-87880-2 144 p. Gr. 6-9 Rozakis has written a very helpful and comprehensive guide that should appeal to most middle school PARENTS. Well, that’s a start, anyway. Unfortunately, the presentation is so monotonous (even with the ample white space and colored font – it cries out for graphics) that not many kids would stay with it for more than a couple of pages. However, this would make a great addition to a teacher’s library, as there are many pages that would make helpful worksheets or overheads for classroom use. Includes T of C, sample tests & answers, index, and many blank pages for notes. P5 Q7

 

Ryan-Herndon, Lisa. Guiness World Records: To the Extreme. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $14.99 ISBN: 0-439-86562-x 144 p. Gr. 5-8 A fun book, this one is sure to get lots of circulation and engage even the most reluctant readers. The organization of the book is a bit different than most Guiness World Record books, as it includes a “Quiz Me” page after each section that not only is fun, but encourages better reading comprehension. Includes T of C, Index. P10 Q7

 

Miller, Lee. Roanoke: The Mystery of the Lost Colony. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $18.99 ISBN: 0-439-71266-1 112 p. Gr. 4-9 Feeling like you have only gotten part of the story after you read a book isn’t always a bad thing: this book is a Pandora’s box. I want to know more about Roanoke because of Miller’s account, and I would bet that kids reading this might feel the same way. The author’s theory that Roanoke’s disappearance was part of a royal conspiracy is controversial among scholars, yet this book presents no other arguments. Does it need to? Maybe not, but libraries/classrooms purchasing this book would be advised to also purchase other author’s treatments of the topic. For young explorers, the Stemple/Yolen book of the same title would probably appeal more. Includes: T of C, ‘historical cast’ list, Roanoke time line, source notes, and index. P7 Q7

 

Brashich, Audrey. All Made Up. Illustrated by Shawn Banner. Walker & Company, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8027-8074-1 147 p. Gr. 7- 12. Braschich subtitled her book “a girl’s guide to seeing through celebrity hype and celebrating real beauty.” Topics range from celebrity worship to celebrating real, inner beauty. The chatty and engaging text, written by a former model who has been through the hype mill is thoroughly enlightening and inspiring. BUY THIS FOR YOUR LIBRARY, your classroom, or your daughter: it’s an important and informative book that young women need access to. Includes T of C, resources, notes. P8 Q8

 

Siebold, J. Otto Quincy, the hobby photographer. Harcourt, New York, 2006. $14.95 ISBN: 0-15-101494-9 61 p. Gr. 2-5. OK, this book is pretty funny and very creative. It might even get kids interested in photography. But a “complete guide to do-it-yourself dog photography” (as it says it is on the cover) IT IS NOT. I can’t believe other reviewers said ages 4-8 for this, either: the reading level is much higher and the humor would be completely missed by the younger fans of Siebold’s earlier, famed work Olive the Other Reindeer. Sometimes I’m not so sure what planet some reviewers come from. P7 Q7

 

McPherson, James. Into the West. Antheneum, New York, 2006. $22.95 ISBN:978-0-689-86543-5 96 p. Gr. 3-8 Booklist and School Library Journal reviewers dismissed this book and advise that a better purchase would be Sonneborn’s The American West. I would have to disagree with this recommendation, because I don’t believe the latter book gives anything more than a cursory portrait of the topic. While Into the West is far from presenting comprehensive coverage of “reconstruction to the final days of the American frontier,” it gives tidbits that draw kids in and make them want to know more. The arrangement of the text is nicely done; “quick facts” sidebars accompany each page. Additionally, there are as many pages dedicated to photos and illustrations as there are to text, which makes this more attractive to young readers. Includes T of C, timeline, glossary, bibliography, webliography, and index. P6 Q10

 

Bradley, Timothy. Paleo Sharks: Survival of the Strangest. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2007. $15.95 ISBN: 0-8118-4878-7 46 p. Gr. 2-up WOW, WOW, WOW! This book belongs in every middle and elementary library, where it will get lots of circulation. The topic of the book: ancient sharks – is meticulously and creatively explored by artist Tim Bradley. I showed this book to my marine biologist (and former editor) husband, wanting to see if he felt the topic was sensationalized or over-simplified. I didn’t get the book back for 2 days, as he took it to work to show his cohorts, who were impressed with the depth and clarity of presentation (no pun intended) and the technical accuracy. This is an amazing book, beautifully wrought. Includes T of C, glossary, further readings, bibliography P9 Q10

 

Rylant, Cynthia. The Journey: Stories of Migration. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. Scholastic, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN:0-590-30717-7 np. Gr. pK-4 I can’t summarize this any better than the author did: “here are the stories of some remarkable travelers. The lcuse, the whale, the eel, the butterfly, the caribou, the tern – so different from each other but so alike in one profound way: Each must move.” Gifted Rylant has managed to put high drama into six very different tales of animal migration, without anthropomorphizing or sensationalizing. It’s so beautifully done, we might forget that it’s nonfiction. Indeed, it would be a great classroom read-aloud, it’s that engaging and interesting. P8 Q10

 

Lorrie, Peter. Hidden World of the Aztec. Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale, PA, 2006. $17.95 ISBN: 978-1-59078-069-5 48 p. Gr. 3-7 My personal feeling is that it’s impossible for a middle school library to have too many books on Aztecs. This book, while not as comprehensive or as detailed as others, brings new passion to the subject and belongs in every middle school library. As one reviewer wrote: “I love Peter Lourie’s books because they help students see that real adventure is still taking place in a real world.” It’s obvious from his many photos and the text that Lourie loves what he is writing about and immerses himself totally in his research. One thing I really enjoyed about the book was that it gives the reader a feeling that he is part of the discovery.

Lourie even makes the reader part of the discussion, by challenging us to draw our own conclusions from the anthropologists’ research. P6 Q8

 

Biography

Neimark, Anne E. Up close: Johnny Cash. Viking, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 978-0-670-06215-7 207 p. Gr. 7-9 This engaging biography is a rich and detailed portrait of a complicated and conflicted man. While not an easy reader, it’s one that is hard to put down because the story is so interesting and full of depth. The author doesn’t spare many details when she describes Cash’s hardscrabble upbringing, tragedies, wild times, and struggles with drug abuse. Well-researched and documented, the author includes many of Cash’s songs and photos. Includes T of C, source notes, bibliography, index, and permissions. P6 Q7

 

Fradin, Judith Bloom and Dennis Brindell Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. Clarion Books, New York, 2006. $21.00 ISBN: 0-618-50436-2 216 p. Gr. 4-8 This book sets the gold standard for young adult biographies. It is simply outstanding; the writing is succinct, yet engaging, the research meticulous and well presented, and the organization of the text and illustrations is impeccable. Addams character and foibles shine throughout the text, and readers will be easily engaged and inspired by the drama of her life and accomplishments. Includes T of C, afterword, source notes, bibliography, and index. P6 Q10

 

Burleigh, Robert. Stealing Home. Illustrated by Mike Wimmer. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 0-689-86276-8 np. Gr. 1-5 A gorgeously, powerfully illustrated book, Stealing Home has elements that should’ve made it a great first biography, but it falls short. The main storyline is engaging and poetic enough and there are snippets of sentences given on each page. Unfortunately, the author chose to introduce details via sidebars (presented in a baseball card frame) on each page that totally distract from the story and makes this less than a perfect read-aloud for young classrooms. Overall, though, it is a very interesting and creatively produced book and would be a nice addition to any elementary school library. Includes notes and bibliography. P8 Q7

 

Keating, Frank. Theodore. Illustrated by Mike Wimmer. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-689-86532-9 np. Gr. 3-5 It’s rare to see a biography that is enticing, interesting, and drop-dead gorgeous. Keating’s treatment of Theodore Roosevelt is all that and more; it truly is a creative masterpiece. Governor Keating’s text is succinct and simple and he narrates as though Teddy himself was dictating it. While it may seem a bit grandiose, Keating uses quotes taken directly from Roosevelt’s writings, and he stays true to Teddy’s great sense of inspiration and service. Wimmer’s accomplished oils lend a very human touch to the story, and his liberal use of red and orange add considerable warmth. Together, the illustrations and text make this a good choice for a classroom read-aloud, and an excellent first biography. An important addition to an elementary school library. P6 Q8

 

Gillis, Jennifer Blizin. Mercy Otis Warren. Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, 2006. $9.95 ISBN: 0-7565-0982-3 111 p. Gr. 3-8 This meticulously researched and well-organized biography has just enough human drama to keep young readers engaged. There are quite a few illustrations that illuminate the text, which is written in a very straightforward, if dry, manner. Mercy Otis Warren was born into a family of independent thinkers and she became involved with the fight for independence, using her considerable writing skills to inspire and inform. Later, she became the first American woman to author a history book. Contains T of C, timeline, additional resources list, glossary, source notes, bibliography, index, and credits. P5 Q8

 

Ernst, Lisa Campbell. The gingerbread girl. (Dutton Children’s Books, c2007). ISBN 0525476679 $16.99 Ages 3-6. P7Q7

The lonely couple who baked the ill-fated gingerbread boy decides to try again, with a sweet little gingerbread girl. However, the candy-coated girl with amazing licorice whip hair, leaps out of the oven and repeats her famous brother’s run to the river, only to out-fox the fox, and change the lonely couple’s lives with her charm and wit. A pleasant addition to the fractured fairy tale genre, recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Heide, Iris van der. The red chalk. Illustrated by Marije Tolman. (Front Street/Lemniscaat, c2005) ISBN 1932425799 $15.95 Ages 3-7. P7Q6

Although the plot of this translated picture book is similar in many aspects to several other folk tales, the bored little girl’s suggestions for successive trades of red chalk, marbles, a lollipop, a yo-yo, and a flute bring magic and imagination to the children she meets on the way. Recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

June 2007 Reviews, JC

Kelly, John. Scoop! : an exclusive by Monty Molenski. Additional words and pictures by John Kelly & Cathy Tincknell. (Candlewick Press, c2007) ISBN 0763630594 $15.99 Ages 4-7 and up. P7Q7

Monty Molenski, junior reporter/photographer for a tabloid, is longing for a front-page story, but has trouble discerning what he sees through his camera lens. In trying to find out where all the other reporters are going, he fulfills his dream. An action-packed tale, as much fun as reading the front pages of the supermarket tabloids. Recommended for public and school libraries. Highly recommended for high school journalism classes, just for the fun of it.

 

Emmett, Jonathan. She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain. Illustrations, Deborah Allwright. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006) ISBN 9781416936527/1416936521 $16.99 Ages 3-6. P8Q6

A horribly cute rendition of the traditional song, featuring pink ruffled pajamas on young outlaw, Bonnie Bandit. I don’t see that this rendition adds much to the original song, and the illustrations are decidedly cute. But, if your collection needs more pink ruffles, by all means, spend the money to add it to public and school library collections. Otherwise, buy something good.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers

 

Reviews by N.W. – June 2007

 

Nonfiction

Cooper, Ilene. Oprah Winfrey: Media Queen. [Up Close Series]. Viking, 2007. $15.99. 0-670-06162-4. 204p. Ages 12-15: The struggles experienced by this African-American woman who went from a life of poverty when she was shuttled among her grandmother’s farm, her mother’s cramped city apartment, and her father’s restricted lifestyle is told by a respected author using a variety of sources. Quite positive toward the subject, this biography shows her emotional issues with weight gain and the hostility from her half-sister and the beef industry. A debut title in this biography series about the impact that 20th-century leaders, artists, and legends have had on the world. P7Q8

 

Levine, Ellen. Rachel Carson: Environmentalist. [Up Close Series]. Viking, 2007. $15.99. 0-670-06220-1. 224p. Ages 12-15: The first in her family to graduate from college, Carson became a biologist in an age when there were few female scientists and wrote a book that created an environmental revolution. Well-paced chapters filled with relevant quotes trace Carson’s passion for the science of living things as well as her selflessness in caring for family members. The author emphasizes the subject’s struggles in overcoming the prevailing attitudes of women’s roles during her lifetime (which ended in 1964 of a cancer inflicted because of her research). P7Q8

 

Marcus, Leonard S. Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark. Walker, 2007. $19.95. 0-827-9600-1. 56p. Ages 10+: The book critic/historian and author of Side by Side and A Caldecott Celebration returns with another book about authors and illustrators for young readers. Each family—Crews, Hurd, Myers, Pinkney, and Rockwell—is given nine or ten pages which are illustrated with ink studies for their books, completed illustrations, photographs of the authors/illustrators, and reproductions of editors’ letters with ideas for changes as the books progressed. Some of the families are more artistic than others: for example, Walter Dean Myers has never been considered an artist. And the audience for the book is questionable. Adults will be far more interested in the book than young readers who tend to prefer reading the actual books. Yet some of the information will draw them in, for example, the fact that two of the five parent illustrators, Myers and Anne Rockwell, were raised in foster homes. The introduction also discusses how family traits are passed down through the generations. P5Q8

 

Picture Books

Freedman, Deborah. Scribble. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83966-5. unp. Ages 3-6: Black childlike drawings—and scribbles—on white and bright pink and yellow backgrounds follow the rivalry between two sisters, the older who draws the “beautiful” Princess Aurora and the younger who seems to scratch out a kitten. The realistic drawings of the two girls follow the argument as the older ridicules the drawing of the younger until the younger marks all over the princess and then follows a kitten, Scribble, as they go into the older sister’s picture. This delightful and realistic representation of squabbling, resentment, and remorse, a debut picture book, shows great promise for the creator of this book, an architect with two daughters. Visit Scribble and Princess Aurora at http://www.deborahfreedman.net. P10Q10.

 

Holt, Kimberly Willis. Skinny Brown Dog. Il. Donald Saaf. Holt, 2007. $16.95. 0-8050-7587-9. unp. Ages 4-7: Watercolors, acrylic, and color pencils highlight this poignant tale of a dog who tries to adopt a baker who thinks that he has no need for the animal in his life. The book provides a plethora of creatures from the polar bear baker to the other characters—Miss Patterson, the elephant; Sam, the porcupine; and children and medical professionals, a collection of birds and mammals. The dog’s getting help for the baker when he breaks his leg convinces him that the dog (whose name is now Brownie) would be a great companion. This is a wonderful story of community support illustrated in a very humorous way. P9Q9

 

Johnson, Angela. Lily Brown’s Paintings. Il. E.B. Lewis. Orchard Books, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-78225-8. unp. Ages 3-6: Painting can change the way that a person sees the world as Lily discovers when interprets her world in bright paintings of fruit, a nightscape reminiscent of Van Gogh, the park with lounging alligators, a beach scene, and ultimately her own family. A wondrous journey through a child’s imagination, this book will provide much food for creative thought. P9Q9

 

Raschka, Chris. The Purple Balloon. Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-84146-0. unp. Ages 3+: Balloons are the characters in this book about death as they talk about the people who work “to make dying not so hard” and the value of having family because “Good help makes leaving easier.” The muted colors of the balloons give a peaceful, comforting feeling at the same time that they seem buoyant. The Caldecott Award winning author/illustrator worked in conjunction with Children’s Hospice International to create this gentle, reassuring book for seriously ill children and the people who love them. This is an important book for all libraries. P7Q10

 

Graphic Novels

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Camp Babymouse. Random House, 2007. $5.99. 0-375-83988-7. 95p. Ages 7-10: Poor Babymouse has as many problems at camp as she does anywhere else as she continues her fantasies of superiority and ends up causing her cabin to come in worse than last in the camp competition. Despite her difficulties, however, she succeeds in leading her group and winning them over as friends. As always with this series, readers will take delight and empathy in her misadventures. P8Q8

 

Pyle, Kevin C. Blindspot. Holt, 2007. $13.95. 0-8050-7998-X. unp. Ages 9-13: Reality and fantasy blend in this sensitive comic-like drawings to show Dean’s struggle to grow up when he moves to the suburbs and becomes friends with three boys bent on destruction in the neighborhood. While playing the war games with the boys, Dean becomes belligerent in school, leading his parents to take him to a psychologist for an evaluation. The solution seems a bit pat which a homeless man brings Dean back to reality and a positive attitude, but the book is a good story and a good lesson for young people who will accept it. P9Q8

 

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic, 2007. $22.99. 0-439-81378-6. 533p. Ages 8+: It’s difficult to select a genre for this book, but with the 284 pages of drawings and the many other pages of almost no text, I’m guessing that it could be called a graphic novel. Selznick uses a filmic technique to present the drawings, moving the eye closer and closer in subsequent drawings to focus the attention on a specific subject. The multitude of angles and close-ups makes this book unique in its genre and a treat for the eye. Fortunately, the story is exciting enough so that children not knowledgeable about film can appreciate the tale without understanding the historical references. Briefly, the novel features Hugo, a boy in 1931 Paris who lives on his own after his father dies and his drunken uncle disappears, earning a living by continuing to repair clocks. As Hugo tries to mend a mechanical figure that draws, an automaton, he encounters a girl who helps him and a bitter old man who turns out to be the legendary George Melies, an early cinema legend who made the film that Hugo’s father taught him to love. Many young people will love this book. P8Q10

 

Fiction

Carey, Janet Lee. Dragon’s Keep. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00. 0-15-205926-2. 302p. Ages 12+: Legend and history combined with a story of a deformed princess who must go fight the angry dragons result in an exciting, romantic tale in this charming addition to dragon lore. At 14, Rosalind needs a husband but is held back by the dragon’s claw that replaces her left-hand ring finger, a curse that Merlin had foretold six hundred years before. Unlike many dragon books, characters are neither all evil or good: Rosalind’s mother is so protective of her daughter that she kills anyone who gets in her way; the adult dragon treats Rosalind abominably, but the hatchlings mostly get along fine with her. There’s lots of adventure, bravery, and an understanding that love is not always what you might think it is in a book that’s is not always predictable. It’s fun! P8Q8

 

Cooney, Caroline B. Enter Three Witches. Scholastic, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-71156-8. 281p. Ages 13-15: In this ambitious undertaking, this popular YA author uses Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a background for her story of Mary, a young girl who becomes a ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth after her father betrays the king and is hanged for treason. Blood freely flows as Mary tries to protect others, often failing. Each chapter is headed by a quotation from the play although they are not in any particular order. The book is better read as a stand-alone instead of trying to connect it to the classic tragedy, but Cooney has honed her craft so that descriptions and characterizations are full and interesting. P7Q8

 

D’Lacey, Chris. Fire Star. Orchard Books, 2005. $15.99. 0-439-84582-3. 549p. Ages 12+: The evil threatening to take over the world in the two earlier books, The Fire Within and Icefire, returns more strongly than ever as college student David takes his research trip to the Arctic with girlfriend Zanna, Lucy is kidnapped, and Gwilanna fights to let the dragons come in through the portal and assume control of the Earth. Delightfully convoluted plotting, including the possibility that David’s writing will become true, follows all the characters—replete with the living clay dragons that Liz makes and the magical polar bears–throughout the UK and up to the snowy north. Fantasy and adventure lovers will gobble down this fast-paced book right down to the exciting end. P7Q8

 

Garden, Nancy. Hear Us Out!: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present. FSG, 2007. $18.00. 0-374-31759-3. 230p. Ages 12+: Beginning with the 1950s, Garden covers each decade through 2000 by prefacing the decade with an historical setting of social and political events and then presenting two stories for each decade which give a sense of what life was like for these teens growing up then. The stories reflect the highly closeted life of the 1950s, the growing sense of gay pride and openness, to the greater sense of freedom, except for gay marriage and gay parenting, of the early years of the 21st century by exploring the emotional experiences of young gay people coming of age during those times. The essays are clearly stated with personal references from the author about her experiences, and the short stories give vivid insight into that being gay during that time really felt like. An important addition for libraries of all sizes from the author of Annie on My Mind. P6Q8

 

Leeds, Constance. The Silver Cup. Viking, 2007. $16.99. 0-670-06157-0. 212p. Ages 12+: In a novel facing the constrictions of prejudice, 15-year-old Anna, a German Catholic girl, faces shunning in her village by protecting a Jewish girl whose home, family, and community were destroyed by the Crusaders in 1095. This debut novel is filled with fascinating period details in a rich, colorful picture of lives marked by courage, will, and hope. It also provides lessons for today’s growing schisms among religious groups. P7Q7

 

Martinez, A. Lee. A Nameless Witch. TOR, 2007. $24.95. 0-7653-1868-7. 320p. Ages 14+: The family curse was intended to make the victim hideous and undead. Only the undead worked; the victim was born—and stayed—beautiful. After living in the basement until the age of 18 with the basic needs just tossed down the stairs by her parents, the witch is purchased by Ghastly Edna who teaches the girl all the witchy arts before she is killed by nonhuman men. This event leads the nameless witch into exciting and funny adventures as she travels at first with her familiar, Newt the demonic duck, and her faithful broom, Penelope, before she acquires the company first of Gwurm the troll and then of White Knight Wyst of the West on her quest. To stop a mad sorcerer from destroying the world, they face a journey filled with menace, monsters, and magic—mostly done in a hilarious fashion. Reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s novels, this properly witchly read comes from an Alex Award-winner. I’ll be watching for his next novel, preferably a sequel! P8Q9

 

September 2007 Reviews by Toledo Parent Volunteer S.E.

 

Fiction

Werlin, Nancy The Rules of Survival Edgar award winner 2006, Dial Books, member of Penquin Group. NY.NY. ISBN 0803730012. $16.99 259p

A brutal story of three children trying to survive their childhood with a terribly violent and mentally disturbed mother. The point of view is from the older brother writing the story to his younger sister to not only try to figure out why their life was as it was but to explain it to her as well. Ages 13-17. Q7 P6

 

Ferris, Jean. Much ado about Grubstake, population 62 Harcourt Books, Orlando Fla. 2006 ISBN 0152057064 $17.00. 265p.

This is a cute mystery set in the 1800’s, 10,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies. The town has no sheriff or law enforcement and the women (some girls too) run the town, which was mining town until the gold ran out. It is a fun read and written so that one can picture the events as they happen. I would like to see this put in the schools because it shows that in the “old west”, the girls and women who were left behind were leading profitable and stimulating lives without the menfolk who had either died in the mines or moved away seeking a better life. Ages 11-16 Q8P8

 

Scott, Kieran. Brunettes strike back The Penguin group GP Putnam and sons, 2006. ISBN039924493x. $17.00. 249p.

This is a cute high school cheerleaders story of love and jealousy and peer pressure. The message conveyed that a girl didn’t have to conform to “fit in”. although it is yet

another of the cheerleading genre, it is well written and humorous and will be enjoyed by girls ages 11-17. Q8P8

 

Thompson, Lauren, Il. Buket Erdogan. Mouse’s first Fall Simon and Schuster Books for Young readers. NY. 2006. $13.00 .

A wonderfully brightly illustrated easy read a-loud-book about mice in the fall leaves by the creators of the NY Times best selling “Mouse’s First” series. I would like to see this book put in our school’s libraries. The illustrations alone will make this a popular book for the primary grades. Ages 5-7. Q10 P10

 

Bell, Cece, Il. Cece Bell Sock Monkey Rides Again. Candlewick Press Ma. 2006. $14.00.

This is a primitive digitally illustrated book that the kids will like because it is a “too easy” read and involves sock monkey having to kiss a girl for a part in the movie he was cast in. I wasn’t impressed but it will probably be sought after because all kids know sock monkey and the boys will be able to relate to the kiss-a-girl thing Ages K-2. Q6 P8

 

Non-Fiction

Lauber, Patricia, Il. Mandes, John. What You Never Knew About Beds, Bedrooms, and Pajamas. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, NY, 2006. $17.00.

This is a really informative book that will appeal to all ages. The illustrations are great and the humor will have the reader wanting to go on to the next page. Ages 7-11. Q9 P9

 

Raatma, Lucia. Queen Noor, American born Queen of Jordan. Compass Point Books, Minn, 2006. $16.00.

This biography of Lisa Halaby, the young American who married the King of Jordan, historically covers a lot of the problems of the middle east from the early 1900’s to the present day including the death of Sadam Hussein and the influence she had on the people of Jordan. It is well written and may appeal to grades 7-12. Q8P6

 

Zeitz, Joshua. Flappers. Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, NY 2006. 291p. $25.00.

A comprehensive narrative of the flapper era bringing in the independence of women through suffragettes and the not-so-Victorian girl of the 20’s, the Flapper. Emphasis is put on F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda ho lived the high life with artists such as Picasso and Miro in France and living the life of what the flapper stood for according to F.Scott Fitzgerald. It also focuses on Clara Bow and the whole Hollywood scene and the decay of social morals. Using Coco Chanel as the spearhead of women’s fashions, the book delves into the dress of the modern women during the roaring 20’s. This book is very well written and I think it would appeal to the students in 11th and 12th grade who are into social change and how it all came about. Q8P8

 

September Book Reviews D.G.H. Media Specialist

Snicket, Lemony, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid. Harper Collins, 2007, $12.99, 13-978-0-06-124006-5, 168p., Grades 9-12

Lemony attempts to keep his dry, acerbic wit in front of readers, but the bitter truth here is that he doesn’t know who his audience is. Grade school kids have come to love his style in the 13 book series of unfortunate events, but this book must be directed at an adult audience because his chapters reflect life experiences. He has take quips and quotes from speeches and musings and has packaged them into short stories and “bumper sticker” phrases (never look a gift lion in the mouth). Print size varies throughout the book as does the philosophical advice he imparts. Like horseradish, this book should be consumed sparingly. P4 Q3

 

Hyde, Catherine Ryan, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance Alfred A. Knopf, 2007, $15.99, 978-0-375-83257-4, 228p, Grades 8-12 A young girl of 14 is drawn into alcoholism even though she vows not to be like her mother. This is a story that is just gritty enough that readers can identify, but without the effect of shocking language or scenes. Readers glimpse how a character can be pulled in to addiction without being “bad” and is able to pull herself out again without being “perfect”. Interesting story of how the 12 Steps of AA are played out, and why support is so essential to recovery. I will buy this book for our secondary schools! P9 Q8

 

September Book Reviews L.F. Volunteer NMS & INMS

 

Non-Fiction Selections

Davies, Nicola. Extreme Animals. Illustrated by Neal Layton. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, 2006. $12.99 ISBN:0-7636-3067-5 61 p. Gr.3-8

This cute little book is chock full of interesting facts about extremist animals. It’s hard to imagine how the author collected such a treasure trove of trivia, like fact that spiders can live without food for 18 months, but she did and it is truly amazing. As we might expect from the collaborators behind Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable, this tome is weirdly informative, peppered with funny illustrations, and irresistible – even to the most reluctant readers. Includes index, glossary. P7 Q8

 

Cooper, Michael L. Jamestown, 1607. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $18.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1948-7 98 p. Gr. 4-8

Despite printing errors noted on the errata insert placed in this edition, Jamestown, 1607 is a meticulously produced interpretation of the scant information available about the Jamestown settlement and its fate. While not a book that has a lot of shelf appeal to young readers, the text is engaging and easy to follow. Liberally peppered with maps and illustrations taken from John Smith’s many publications, the text – which covers coastal exploration, settlement Roanoke to the death of Smith in 1631 – leans heavily on Smith’s observations. Includes T of C, timeline, source notes, internet sites, index and other miscellany. P5 Q8

 

O’Brien, Patrick. The Mutiny on the Bounty. Walker & Company, New York, 2007. $17.95 ISBN: 978-0-8027-9587-8 40 p. Gr. 2-7

This beautifully wrought version of the tale of mutiny on the high seas blurs the distinction between picture book and graphic novel, creating a masterpiece of juvenile fiction that will bring drama, history, and adventure to even the most reluctant readers. This book, along with O’Brien’s The Great Ships, would be an excellent addition to elementary libraries and classrooms. Includes bibliographical references. P7 Q8

 

St. George, Judith. Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt. Illustrated by Britt Spencer. Philomel Books, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-399-24175-8 48 p. Gr.2-5

The third in the author’s intimate biographies about US Presidents, Make Your Mark covers the birth of FDR to his graduation from Groton. St. George succeeds in painting a portrait of a young man who was born to a life of privilege, doted on by an overprotective mother and isolated from society. Only through his exposure to Groton’s guest speakers and the Reverend Endicott Peabody does FDR hear about slavery, slums, and other social ills and become inspired to live a life of service to others. The cartoonish, animated, and skillfully wrought illustrations lend an air of excitement and add interest to the text. Illustrator Spencer has a background in psychology, and his portraits are rich with character and feeling. This, coupled with the lively text, makes for a good classroom read-aloud. Includes bibliography. P5 Q7

 

High, Linda Oatman. The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg. Walker & Company, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 32 p. Gr. 2-4

Written from the perspective of the seven year old son of the caretaker of Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery, this account covers the arrival of the Confederate army in Gettysburg to Lincoln’s November speech. Based on the written account of Elizabeth Thorn, the boy’s mother who managed to bury 100 soldiers in the rockiest part of the cemetery while 6 months pregnant, the story is dark and sad but not scary. Illustrations fit the tone of the story and are not scary or gruesome, as might be expected. It’s a good read aloud for young classrooms, and helps introduce the battle from a child’s perspective. Includes map of Gettyburg (in book endpapers), Gettysburg Address, and Author’s Note. P5 Q6

 

Gibbons, Gail. The Vegetables We Eat. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-8234-2001-8 32 p. Gr. pK-2

This book covers the 8 basic groups of vegetables (grouped by the part of the plant that is eaten, e.g., leaf) and how they are grown. It’s fairly comprehensive and includes a page of veggie trivia at the end of the book. Good read-aloud for younger classrooms. P5 Q6

 

Carr, Jan. Greedy Apostrophe. Illustrated by Ethan Long. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN:978-0-8234-2006-3 32 p. Gr. K-3

As a kid, I anthropomorphized numbers; “7” was a suave, sporty type, “3” a loose woman; 37 was trouble in the making. This book takes that sort of characterization to heart, as the near-evil greedy apostrophe raises holy havoc hell in label land. Enlisting the readers to help in the crusade to stamp out errant apostrophes, this little gem of a book makes learning punctuation – at least where it concerns apostrophes – fun. Nice addition to any elementary classroom or library. P5 Q6

 

Matteson, John. Eden’s Outcasts. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2007 (Advance Reader’s Edition). $29.95 hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-05964-9 528 p. Gr. 11-Adult

Matteson may reveal in the last paragraph of his meticulous work: “Biographers can sift the sands as they think wisest” but the reader of this book is left wondering what sand has been sifted, for this account is so comprehensive and detailed. This biography is truly a dual biography of Louisa May and Bronson Alcott, portraits in contrasts between transcendental/ephemeral and practical/earthy. Covering the period of time from Bronson’s birth in 1789 to his and Louisa May’s death in 1888, Eden’s Outcasts is destined to be THE Alcott biography. Includes T of C, footnotes, bibliography. P5 Q10

 

Sullivan, Edward T. The Ultimate Weapon: the race to develop the atom bomb. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $24.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1855-3 183 p. Gr. 6-12

Sullivan, a Tennessee librarian, has done remarkably well for his first book: it’s a masterpiece. One Amazon reviewer said “I am…hard-pressed to name a book…whose contents are more consequential to tomorrow’s voters and problem solvers than this well-researched, profound look at how the whole nuclear business began, where it has currently brought us to in the 21st Century, and what it is that I have to be frightened of.” Ample photos, clearly presented sidebars, and meticulous organization make this a “must have” for all libraries. Includes t of c, appendix, timeline, bibliography, internet resources, glossary, and index. P7 Q10

 

September 2007 Reviews–J.C.

Bateman, Teresa. Fiona’s luck. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Charlesbridge, c2007. 1 v., color illustrations. Ages 4-7. ISBN 9781570916519 $15.95 P7Q7

When the king of leprechauns locks up all the luck in Ireland, a woman named Fiona uses her wits to pass the king’s tests and win it back. A nicely told story with determinedly cute illustrations. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Freymann, Saxton. Fast food. Joost Elffers. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006. 1 v., chiefly color illustrations. Ages 3-6. ISBN 043911019X $12.99 P8Q8

Sculpted vegetables introduce various forms of transportation, from feet to skateboards, wheelchairs to skis, cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, and planes, using their trademark black-eyed pea eyes and patent good cheer. Both adults and children will enjoy figuring out the various vegetables used in the pictures. Recommended for public and kindergarten/elementary school libraries.

 

Gravett, Emily. Orange pear apple bear. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005. First U.S. edition 2007. 1 v., chiefly color illustrations. Ages 2-5. ISBN 978141693993 / 1416939997 $12.99 P8Q9

A deceptively simple book with watercolor illustrations of a bear and fruit introduce words and word play. Highly recommended for any library serving small children, librarians, parents, and educators.

 

Lindenbaum, Pija. Mini Mia and her darling uncle. Translated by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard. R&S Books, c2007. 1 v., color illustrations. Ages 4-7. ISBN 9789129667349 / 9129667348 $16.00 P7Q8

When Mini Mia’s favorite Uncle Tommy starts to share his time with her with a man named Fergus, Mia becomes jealous and acts out. But, when Uncle Tommy is ill, and Fergus teaches Mini Mia some awesome soccer moves, she comes to accept the new relationship. Scenes of the changing room at the swimming pool and the gay subtext may cause some to feel uncomfortable with this book. However, the visually compelling watercolors and child-centered text combine to create an entertaining work. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Gloss, Molly. The hearts of horses. (Advance reading copy.) Houghton Mifflin, November 2007. Ages 14 up. ISBN: 0618799907 P8Q8.

Nineteen year old Martha Lessen talks herself into a job as a horse tamer for the Bliss ranch in Eastern Oregon during the years leading up to America’s involvement in World War I, and finds herself involved with the lives of the ranch families. A highly readable historical novel that explores the lives of women isolated on distant homesteads, dependent on the men in their lives for basic necessities. Recommended for junior high, high school and public library collections.

 

Stead, Rebecca. First light. Wendy Lamb Books, c2007. 328 p. Ages 12 up. ISBN 9780375840173 $15.99 P7Q7

Twelve-year-old Peter accompanies his parents on a scientific expedition to the Greenland ice cap; meanwhile, Thea lives in a carefully hidden community and seeks to discover a passage to the surface of the surrounding ice field. A fascinating science fiction adventure told from two perspectives. A first novel, First Light, becomes a bit choppy as the twinned narratives approach each other, and some developments are rather predictable. However, the characters and unusual settings more than make up for the minor lapses in editing. Recommended for junior high school and public libraries.

 

September 2007 Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Atkins, Jeannine. Anne Hutchinson’s Way. Il. Michael Dooling. FSG, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-30365-7. unp. Ages 5-8: Susanna tells about her voyage to the New World from England in 1634 with her siblings and parents, her family’s attempt to practice religion in the way that they find appropriate, and their being forced out of the Massachusetts colony because of Anne Hutchinson’s refusal to follow the rigidity of the Puritans. One of the inviting aspects of the book is the narration of a famous woman by her daughter who explains how Hutchinson tries to provide a positive example for other women in her determination to preach and her refusal to be silent in her desire for peace with the Native Americans. Like Alice Paul, Hutchinson was willing to go to prison because of her belief that her way would improve life for others. Illustrations are intriguing because the images give the impression that there is always much more to the picture than what the reader can see. The large picture-book format makes the subject highly accessible to younger readers, and the subject matter goes beyond the biographical subject into life in America during the early 1600s. An afterword is appended to the fictionalized story. P7Q8

 

Beccia, Carolyn. Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-71718-8. unp. Ages 4+: Circus fanatic Beccia makes her children’s book debut (self-described as “the spectacular, never-before-seen”) with this alphabet book using adjectives for the wonders of events under the big tent. Her selections are knowledgeable and the lettering for the illustrations (made of “a bit of pencil and paper, gobs of oil paint, a little acrylics, curled wood shavings, a dull blade, and then combined digitally”) artistic. But sometimes she lost the chance to extend the alphabet in her use of circus parts. For example, the boxing kangaroo could have gone under “kooky” rather than “legendary.” Beccia writes about a time when starting at oddities was promoted, something that might have to be explained to younger readers today. P8Q8

 

Deans, Karen. Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson. Il. Elbrite Brown. Holiday, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-1926-6. unp. Ages 6-8: Tough rebellious Althea, growing up in the Harlem of the 1930s, was a natural at tennis which, at that time, was almost exclusively for wealthy white people in country clubs that excluded African Americans. With the encouragement of those around her, she went on to win at Wimbledon and Forest Grove in 1957 and 1958. Bold cutouts , largely faceless, follow the simple text. The story is interesting, but, forced to purchase only one book about Gibson, I would choose the Stauffacher book (reviewed below). P7Q7

 

Demi, The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching. McElderry, 2007. $21.99. 1-4169-1206-1. unp. Ages 5+: According to legend, this mysterious philosopher who may have founded Taoism was born at the age of 81 in 604 B.C. China. The classically stunning paint and ink illustrations, typical of other Demi books, display simple settings of that time with the first third of the book describing the mythical life of Lao Tzu and the remainder devoted to 20 of the 81 passages of the Tao Te Ching. Topics range from silence to moderation, from governing to the balance of earth and heaven. A favorite of mine: “True words are not fine sounding./ Fine-sounding words are not true.” A book for all libraries. P6Q9

 

Jenkins, Steve. Dogs and Cats. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-50767-1. unp. Ages 5-8: Some people like dogs; others prefer cats. This book caters to both interests with half the book upside down to deal with the other subject. Begin with dogs? There will be guides through the pages to tell you to flip the book for pages on cats. Illustrations are cut and torn paper collage, with some of the paper made by hand and others coming from a variety of countries. The information is clearly stated without any startling insights not noted in other books on the subject. This book has more value because of its art but a pleasant addition to collections. P8Q8

 

Peacock, Louise. At Ellis Island: A History in Many Voices. Il. Walter Lyon Krudop. Atheneum, 2007. $21.00. 0-689-83026-2. 44p. Ages 7-10: Many of the stories of immigrants coming through Ellis Island on their way to the dreams of the New World from 1904 to 1927 are framed by words of Sera, a composite of these people and represented as an Armenian girl fleeing her country and joining her father in America, with excerpts from a contemporary young girl whose great-great-grandmother came through these halls. The intent is laudatory, but the transitions among the people’s reports, the imaginary journaling, and the current comments can sometimes be confusing. The handwriting/italics for the journal may also be difficult for young people to read. The layout can be cluttered, and the the paintings somewhat muddy. The photographs lend interest to the narrative and the information is valuable. This may be more a book for teachers to use with students than one that is read by the young people themselves. P6Q7

 

Ray, Deborah Kogan. Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer. FSG, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-31838-7. unp. Ages 8-12: From a preacher’s kid in Jackson, Ohio, to the famous explorer of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Powell had a variety of experiences, including the need for his arm to be amputated below the elbow after his wound in the Civil War. Although the book’s narrative largely ends in 1869 at the end of his expedition, an afterword briefly refers to his political problems with a Nevada senator when Powell tried to create a system of

long-term planning to protect the western rivers from misplaced dams. The full-page watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations in a large picture-book format are broadly produced, many in the bright orange and brown colors associated with the Canyon. The writing is geared more for those interested in the subject, and the map of his expedition is buried near the end of the book, but adventurers may find this appealing. P6Q7

 

Tyldesley, Joyce. Egypt. Simon & Schuster, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-3858-3. 64p. Ages 8-12: Lush colorful illustrations, including detailed cutaways, provide extensive information in the five chapters of this informational book: history, religion, life, pyramids, and temples and towns. Despite the fact that the busty women in fairly tight clothing could be current movie stars, the attempts to show life at the time is educational, particularly with the timelines placed on the sides of the pages to show the period in which something happened. Reading this book feels like a tour through a well-designed museum. P8Q8

 

Stauffacher, Sue. Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson. Il. Greg Couch. Knopf, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-83408-0. unp. Ages 4-8: Gibson’s unsophisticated cultural background and frustration with the “society life” as a young person are shown through the description of Buddy Walker’s mentoring after he sees her playing paddle tennis on a Harlem street. The text is delightful, but the vibrant watercolors, complete with rainbow colors showing her movement are outstanding. Her life beginning in a family of sharecroppers to the greatest female tennis player in the world in 1957 is inspirational as is Gibson’s willingness to give credit to all the people who helped her in her achievement. P7Q8

 

Poetry

Smith, Linda. Mrs. Biddlebox: Her Bad Day and What She Did about It! Il. Marla Frazee. Harcourt, 2007. $15.00. 0-15-206349-8. unp. Ages 3-7: Ever get up on the wrong side of bed? That’s exactly what Mrs. Biddle did as Frazee shows the witchy woman upset with everything that happens to her. But she takes action when she uses fog, dirt, sky, and the other pieces of a rotten day to make a sweet cake, going from a stomach full of grumblies to being filled with crumblies. The rhyme moves the story along as she shows, in a non-didactic way, how to turn around a bad feeling into a good experience. Illustrations in black grease pencil and colored inks give lots of movement to Mrs. Biddle’s activities, and the ever-present duck provides an extra dimension to the story. P9Q9

 

Picture Books

Fox, Mem. Where the Giant Sleeps. Il. Vladimir Radunsky. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-20785-5. unp. Ages 3-7: Find out where the giant sleeps, the fairy dozes, the wizard dreams, the dragon lays his head, and other mythical creatures find rest while the elves work all night “to make a quilt of moons and stars/to wrap you in…tonight.”

The fantastical misty illustrations, gouache on handmade pages, of both creatures and their snoozing place will continue to delight young readers in this luscious goodnight tale. A delight! P8Q8

Leuck, Laura. I Love My Pirate Papa. Il. Kyle M. Stone. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205664-3. unp. Ages 3-7: In an unusual approach for children’s picture books, the loving father is the sole caregiver for a little “pirate boy” who travels the seven seas with the man who prizes nothing higher than his son. The acrylic illustrations tend to be dark but delightful as the adventurous group goes a-plundering and the boy has many adventures—including walking the plank to jump into his father’s lamp. Striking endpapers with a map enhance the text that shows the boy gradually becoming more tired and going to sleep. P8Q8

 

Polhemus, Coleman. The Crocodile Blues. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-3543-5. unp. Ages 4+: Electric blue silhouettes on black with yellow highlights showing light present the beginning of this story about a man with a man and his pet cockatoo discover the crocodile that hatches out of the egg that they brought home from the store. Daylight scenes move to yellow background with black silhouettes for the characters and black and white showing the remainder the minimalist scenes. The humor and adventurous mystery of this wordless picture book is enhanced by the occasional foldouts that make this a read-aloud book for children under six. But the happy ending makes the scary parts all worthwhile! P9Q1

 

Rex, Adam. Pssst! Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205817-6. unp. Ages 5-8: Imagine going to the zoo and having to shop for a variety of articles that the animals request? That’s what happens to the androgynous-appearing girl (who is not identified as a female until almost halfway throughout the book. OK, maybe she wears saddle shoes and a barrette!) The zoo inmates are drawn more realistically than their surroundings but with great humor as they ask for help. The repetition is well-handled, and the ending has a few delightful surprises: the “zoomobile” that the creatures collaborate on making with everything that she brings, the trip to the circus when the girl refuses to get the elephant anything, and the drawing of the surprised motorcycles cop! P8Q9

 

Schertle, Alice. Very Hairy Bear. Il. Matt Phelan. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-216568-1. unp. Ages 3-7: Pastel and pencil illustrations match the charm of the text that follows a “boulder-big bear” covered with hair “except on his no-hair nose.” He fishes, picks blueberries, finds honey, and does other bear-y things until the cold air makes him settle into a cave and cover his nose. Phelan captures the essence of a bear, and Shertle delineates the seasons in a relaxing book. P9Q9

 

Thomas, Jan. What Will Fat Cat Sit On? Harcourt, 2007. $12.95. 0-15-206051-0. unp. Ages 3-5: Bold, blue thick lines outline the simple drawings of Fat Cat and the creatures he thinks about using for a seat: the cow, chicken, pig, dog, and mouse. Thomas understands out to demonstrate the emotions as all these considerations are made. Fortunately, the mouse suggests the chair, and all is well until Fat Cat has to decide what to have for lunch. An excellent look at compromise with message that the process must continue after you think that there is a solution. P8Q8

 

Wing, Natasha. Go to Bed, Monster! Il. Sylvie Kantorovitz. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205775-7. unp. Ages 3-7: Unable to go to sleep one night, Lucy decides to draw, but the appearance of a monster in her drawings keep her working far into the night as it comes to life and she must draw all the things that it needs. Although appearing to be crayon drawings, the illustrations are actually oil paints and pastels. The text captures all the things that one needs to go to bed, including a book, in a realistic manner while the artwork provides a superb background of Lucy’s and the monster’s surroundings. This view of the difficulty in getting someone to sleep is highlighted when Lucy thinks she has succeeded because the monster’s eyes close (thanks to Lucy’s drawings) just to have them briefly pop open again. A must for both the monster and the goodnight approach. P8Q8

 

Graphic Novel

Decker, Timothy. Run Far, Run Fast. Front Street, 2007. $17.95. 1-59078-469-3. unp. Ages 7-12: The bleak, desperation-filled life of 14th-century Europe during the plague years (called the Pestilence in the book) comes vividly to life through the journey of a girl whose mother sends her away to keep the girl from being imprisoned in the house after the father becomes sick. Short lyrical passages briefly explain the focus of the small, detailed black and white drawings arranged in a symmetrical pattern opposite a full-page drawing on each two-page spread. An absolutely fascinating book that can be explored over and over. P8Q10

 

Wild, Margaret. Woovs in the Sitee. Il. Anne Spudvilas. Front Street, 2007. $17.95. 1-59078-500-2. unp. Ages 10+: Living alone in a musty basement room, Ben hides from the shadows, refusing to go out although Mrs. Radinski, his upstairs neighbor, tries to persuade him to go back to school. The almost-scrawled black and white drawings on different muted colors communicate the same palpable fear that Ben does in his poorly spelled recital of his feelings about the disappearance of the blue sky. The mystery of the book is whether the problems are in Ben’s mind or whether the shadows and dark sky are a physical aberration. The question at the end is what has happened to Mrs. Radinski, when her absence causes Ben to go out into the world to make “the streets my rivers and the parks my valees.” An amazing piece of art! P6Q10

 

Fiction

Avi. The Traitor’s Gate. Ill. Karina Raude. Atheneum, 2007. 0-689-85335-1 354p. Ages 12-15: Visit the poverty and despair of 19th-century London in another of this author’s historical masterpieces as Avi traces the steps of 14-year-old John Huffam as he takes on added responsibilities after his father is arrested as a debtor. The protagonist’s name is taken from a leading Victorian novelist, Charles John Huffam Dickens, and the flavor of the book is similar to Dickens’ novels. It may be that Avi set his book in 1849 because this is the publication year for David Copperfield, Dickens’ autobiographical novel. Black and white scratch drawings enhance the text and the quirky characters that populate this book. P7Q10

 

Bennett, Veronica. Cassandra’s Sister. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-3464-3. 227p. Ages 12-15: Austin grows up with one sister and six brothers in a parsonage. A simple country girl, Jenny is now well known as Jane Austin, English novelist whose books were published during the early nineteenth century. Bennett’s work seems to imitate Austin’s writings about coming of age, romance, courtship, and marriage, including a bit about the problems that women suffer if they do not find love with a man of means, but this is largely downplayed until the end. The author also deals with the politics of the French Revolution during that time. A simple, slow narrative, some readers may enjoy this because they like reading Austin; others might want to compare the version of Austin’s life with that of the new movie Becoming Jane, both highly fictional. P6Q7

 

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The Lacemaker and the Princess. McElderry, 2007. $16.99. 1-4189-1920-1. 199p. Ages 9-13: The politics leading up to the horrors of the French Revolution are shown through a friendship between 11-year-old Isabelle, a poor lacemaker living wither her mother and grandmother, and nine-year-old Therese, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Through the tutelage of George, Isabelle’s older brother, the girl learns how unrealistic her fairy-tale world of the Versailles court actually is and why the people of France felt they had to revolt because they were starving to support the wealth of the royalty. The tale of class differences and hunger for equality was inspired by an actual friendship between the French princess and a commoner who became her companion. The depiction of Therese’s “royal” attitudes blended with Isabelle’s confusion makes this a valuable read for young people. P7Q8

 

Funke, Corneila. Igraine the Brave. Trans. Anthea Bell. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-90379-3. 212p. Ages 10-14: The popular author of The Thief Lord returns with this spirited tale of a girl who must dress as a knight in order to save her parents, their castle, and the singing spell books that help them perform good for the people around them. Black and white drawings help move alongthe witty and whimsical text, and the adventurous feeling of Igraine’s experiences never slows down. P8Q8

 

Gantos, Jack. I Am Not Joey Pigza. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-39941-7. 216p. Ages 10-14: Just when you thought this series might have ended, it pops up again. For the uninitiated, Joey is a pre-adolescent with ADHD, a loving mother, and a father—usually absent–who does not understand Joey’s issues. In the newest book, however, Joey’s father comes back to the family with lottery winnings and a desire to reform all of them by changing their names. To complicate the situation, Joey has injured his head taking a diver off the roof while playing his game of going over Niagara Falls. With humor and pathos, Gantos may be the most realistic writer for this age group in

describing the issues that they have. A must read for adults as well as a book that many young readers will identify with. P8Q8

 

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Dangerously Alice. Atheneum, 2007. $15.99. 0-689-87094-8. 294p. Ages 13-16: Now a junior in high school, Alice is struggling with the relationship between her and her stepmother and fighting the image of MGT (Miss Goody Twoshoes) that some of her classmates have pinned on her. As always, she pursues life in a sometimes joyous, sometimes frustrated, and always confused manner with the typical problems that girls of her age endure: getting to drive the family car by herself, figuring out what to wear, and deciding how far to go with a boy on a date. Definitely for those who love the Alice series but also a good standalone book for mid teens. P8Q8

 

Pressler, Mirjam. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Trans. Erik J. Macki. Front Street, 2007. $16.95. 1-932425-84-5. 207p. Ages 13+: A class project shows 16-year-old Johanna what a sham her family is when she travels from Germany to Israel and interviews an elderly Jewish woman. The author skillfully unravels the story of how Johanna’s grandfather, a faithful member of the Nazi party during pre-World War II, managed to purchase a successful clothing store when Jews were forced to flee Germany. The depictions are realistic as the family never accepts responsibility for their actions while still feeling guilt. Woven into the plot is also the issue of Johanna’s feelings for her boyfriend while still being interested in a handsome Jewish teenager in Israel. An excellent view of Germany during this period of time by a German author. P7Q9

 

Sage, Angie. Physik. Il. Mark Zug. [Septimus Heap Series] Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2007. $17.99. 0-06-057737-1. 544p. Ages 9-13: Kidnapping, travel back through time, an adolescent (and not always well-behaved dragon), the return of a dreadful queen who wants to rule the country, murder, mayhem, and ghosts are only part of the exciting adventures experienced by 11-year-olds Jenna (the princess) and Septimus (the seventh son of a seventh son) as they try to protect each other and help those who get caught up in the whirlpool around them. The third part of this series (the first two being Magik and Flyte), the book is plot-driven but still has wonderful characters that also provide the emphasis for reading. The ending indicates another must come along because two of the characters are trapped 500 years earlier. Absolutely delightful and seems much shorter than the indicated length! And for more fun, go to http://www.septimusheap.com. P7Q9

 

Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. Little, 2007. $16.99. 0-316-0577-6. 438p. Ages 10+: Beginning with a simple story of children who take a series of tests after answering a newspaper ad, the plot of this amazing book spirals into the attempt of four children, two girls and two boys, to save the world from a monster who wants to control everyone through their minds. Although very different from one another, the four children have one thing in common that bonds them in their secret mission. Although long in pages, the book is not slow in catching attention with its multiple issues of abandonment, family, loyalty, and facing ones fears. Everyone

should read this book to think about what it happening to us in our society today. It is to be hoped that this author will continue to write for young readers. P7Q9

 

Wemmlinger, Raymond. Booth’s Daughter. Calkins Creek, 2007. $17.95. 1-932425-86-1. 210p. Ages 11-14: For those who know the Booth family as having provided only the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, this book will provide an interesting chapter into the lives of other members of the famous acting family during the nineteenth century. The protagonist is 18-year-old Edwina, nephew of John and daughter of Edwin Booth, a Shakespearian actor who performed in the United States and on the Continent. Although the book is well-researched and thorough in its historical depiction, it can be slow and formal similar to books written in during the time in which it is set. The author seems to delight in the maudlin details of Edwina’s dependence on her father, her attempt to deal with her mentally imbalanced stepmother, and her failure to marry her first love because of her father’s disapproval. Yet it is a book that readers of historical novels will enjoy because of the content and the romance. P7Q6

 

September 2007 Book Reviews L.R. Retired Media Specialist

Brown, Rhys. OH DANNY BOY; A MOLLY MURPHY MYSTERY. St Martin’s Minotaur, 2006 ISBN 0-312-32817-6 323p $23.95 Gr. 10 –Adult Written in the first person, this 5th Molly Murphy mystery takes place in New York City at the turn of the century. She is a recent immigrant from Ireland and finds herself a nanny turned PI (Private Investigator) who has dated NYPD cop Daniel Sullivan whose most recent charge is to track down a brutal east side serial killer of prostitutes. When he finds himself in jail on trumped-up charges, he turns to Molly for help and in the process she finds herself working with a woman who is New York’s first female policewoman. While I found the first person narrative to be annoying at first, and the writing to be rather pedestrian, the author is able to build the story with a fairly interesting plot that becomes more and more involved. The conclusion is satisfying if somewhat predictable. The author stays true to the historical setting by using accurate words and descriptions appropriate to the time. All-in-all, this is a competent mystery to fill genre reading at the high school level. It is now available in paperback which will make it a more budget worthy choice. (P-7, Q-7)

 

Rylant, Cynthia. MR. PUTTER AND TABBY SPIN THE YARN. Illus. by Arthur Howard. Harcourt Inc., 2006 ISBN 0-15-205067-1 unp $14.00 Gr. 1-3 Cynthia Rylant continues her series of beginning-to-read books with this delightful entry in the Mr. Putter and Tabby series. Mr. Putter worries that he isn’t the best neighbor. Mrs. Teaberry makes wonderful baked goods for Mr. Putter and he wants to be a good neighbor in return so when she mentions her knitting club will be meeting at her house, Mr. Putter decides he will make them tea and provide the refreshments. Zeke the dog and Tabby make for a memorable event as they create chaos on their run through the house.

These are great stories for first and second graders and children will learn to love the characters if they are introduced appropriately in a reading center highlighting all of the titles. I would have multiple copies of each for buddy reading as well. They are good stories to use for friendship, grandparent, and pet units and spelling lessons could utilize the new words that are introduced in each story. (P-8, Q-9)

 

Leedy, Loren. IT’S PROBABLY PENNY. Henry Hold & Company, 2007. ISBN 0-8050-7389-2 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 This title about Penny helps teach young children about probability and it would be a great lead-in to a math lesson. Other useable titles in the series include topics about mapping and measuring and they could make math lessons more fun for early learners. (P-4, Q-7)

 

Bauer, Marion Dane. A MAMA FOR OWEN. Illus. by John Butler. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-689=85787-x unp $15.99 PreS-K This is a sad little story really. Owen is a hippo who loves his mama and does everything with her, but one day the rains come and a flood washes Owen and his family down the Sabaki River and to the sea. When a tsunami wave washes Owen back to shore, he can’t find his mama, but finds an animal with the same coloring. Mzee is a tortoise, a large tortoise that Owen adopts as his new mama. An author’s note says that the story is based on a real incident, that Owen was rescued by the Kenya Wildlife Service and a local fisherman. He was less than a year old when he was brought to a nature preserve outside of Mombasa. It was at this park that Owen chose a 130-year-old male tortoise to be his new mama. Lovely muted illustrations in acrylic and colored pencil enhance the story, but I’m not sure if the intended audience will find this an uplifting story . . . or feel just plain sad that the real mama is gone forever. (P-5, Q-8)

 

Paul, Ann Whitford. FIESTA FIASCO. Illus. by Ethan Long. Holiday House, 2007 ISBN 0-8234-2037-x unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 I love these characters first introduced in MANANA, IGUANA. In this story the snake, Culebra, is having a birthday and all the animals set about to find a present for the fiesta. The rabbit, Conejo, talks each one into buying something he would like, not something they think Culebra will like. At the party when rabbit ends up with all the gifts, the animals and Culebra ban him from the party before the cake is cut and the games are played. In the end, rabbit comes back with the original ideas, a balloon, a book, and a bowl. A glossary of Spanish words used in the text is at the beginning for easy reference. This is a great story to introduce young children to common Spanish words, and would be a good addition to libraries serving a bi-lingual population. These Spanish words would fit nicely into a spelling list as well. (P-8, Q-8)

 

Rudyard, Kipling. IF, A POEM BY RUDYARD KIPLING. Photos by Charles R. Smith,

Jr. Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-689-83799-4 unp $14.99 Gr. 5-7 Presented as a father’s advice to his son, this is a beautiful poem illustrated with photography of sporting events that is grainy, blurry and mediocre at best. A teacher might use the book in a poetry unit, a coach might use it at the beginning of the season, or a kid might pick it up by virtue of the cover, but it will have a limited audience unless it is introduced by someone familiar with the value and beauty of the poem. (P-2, Q-3)

 

Lin, Grace. OLVINA SWIMS. Henry Holt & Company, 2007 ISBN 0-8050-7661-1 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 After attending a bird convention, Hailey the penguin and Olvina the chicken stay in Hawaii for some R&R. When Hailey asks Olvina why she never goes swimming she explains that she is a chicken. So? Hailey will teach her and when she says she is afraid Hailey responds, “Oh, Olvina, don’t be such a chicken!” Hummm. This title might be useful for children who are learning to swim, but the “I think I can” attitude might be better served with a title like “The Little Engine That Could.” This is a bit of chicken fluff that isn’t a first purchase. (P-4, Q-4)

 

Buehner, Caralyn & Mark Buehner. GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-8037-2939-1 unp $16.99 PreS-1 Can there ever be too many versions of this story on the shelf? Here little Goldi comes bouncing into the bears’ house in her little red cowgirl boots and swinging a jump rope looking for a good time. A teacher will use this story when wanting to share a folktale or as a compare and contrast lesson when using several books of the same title. Children will want it because it is a familiar story. (P-6, Q-6)

 

Stille, Darlene R. ANNE HUTCHINSON; PURITAN PROTESTER. Compass Point Books, 2006 ISBN 0-7565-1577-7 112p np Gr. 4-6 This biography of Mrs. Hutchinson starts a little slow, but after a brief history of the times and why the Puritans left for the New World to seek religious and political freedom, we learn how her early life and childhood and marriage enabled her to become the strong, courageous person she was. Bearing fifteen children in twenty-three years and traveling thousands of miles to pursue religious freedom, she faced persecution and hardships throughout her short life of fifty-two years. If readers can get past the first few pages this will be a satisfying read. Teachers can use the book in units on Colonial America, women in history, and in the biography genre.

 

Cabrera, Jane. KITTY’S CUDDLES. Holiday House, 2007. ISBN 0-8234-2066-3 unp $16.95 PreS

Kitty loves cuddles and it seems every animal cuddles in a different way, but Kitty decides his favorite cuddle is with someone very special who gives warm, soft cuddles. Surprise! It’s not mama or papa, but a new baby brother. This is an okay title for very young children who are experiencing the disruption of a new addition to the family. Just be sure to let the cuddler know that squeezing too hard is not acceptable. Not a necessary purchase for schools. (P-3, Q-3)

 

Lourie, Peter. FIRST DIVE TO SHARK DIVE. Boyds Mills Press, 2006 ISBN 1-59078-068-x 48p $17.95 Gr. 5-7 This is not only a good introduction to scuba diving, but also gives a detailed account of the little known Caribbean Island off the coast of Florida known as Andros. In one week eleven-year-old Suzanna learns about the sport and passes her test, gets her temporary certificate card, and completes four open water dives. Beautiful photography enhances the text, important words are defined and explained, and an index makes this suitable for children needing to do a report on a specific sport or hobby. (P-6, Q-8)

 

Book Reviews

 

September 2007 C.B.

Bath, K. P. Escape from Castle Cant, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2006, 287 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:031610857X, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,

In this sequel to the secret of Castle Cant we now find Lucy Wainwright and her sister, Pauline von Cant running away from the castle and the regent who is seeking both them. The story has it all– schemes, plots, twists and disguises as the two girls run and try at the same time to sabotage the gum trade. Readers of the first book will enjoy this sequel.

 

Clare, Cassandra, City of bones, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2007, 485 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:1416914285, Gr. 8+, P 7, Q 8,

When Clary Fray is the only who can see and witnesses the murder of another teen, she is left guessing why. It doesn’t help either that these three teenagers, bearing strange tattoos, who committed the crime disappear right after the crime. Clary is soon swept up into a world where Shadowhunters hunt down and kill demons and werewolves. She is the only person left, after her mother is kidnapped who knows where the mortal cup is. For it is this magical cup which turns people into Shadowhunters and will help to save mortal man from the renegade shdowhunters who are seeking the death of all humans. This book is the 1st in a trilogy and will have a vast appeal to those who love fantasy.

 

Collins, Suzzanne, Gregor and the code of claw, Scholastic Press, New York, 411 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:043979143X, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8, This is the fifth and final book in the Gregor sereies. We again find Gregor and Boots beneath New York City this time in the final battle between the rats and their determination to be the only ones left to live in the secret city beneath New York. Those who loved these previous books will love this one. I for one am sorry to see the series end.

 

Hobbs, Valerie, Anything but ordinary, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2007, 168 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0374303746, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

Bernie Federman and Winifred Owens have been best friends since middle school, when Bernie put on the ridiculous green hat and sat by Win in the lunch room. They have grown together and shared everything and their life and their plans seem perfect. Until Bernie mother dies and then everything falls apart. Win continues on to college in Santa Barbara and finds an new life and learns to explore a new existence without Bernie. This love story will appeal to girls in high school.

 

Hughes, Carol, Dirty magic, Random House, New York, 2006, 416 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0375831878, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Joe Brooks is just 10-years old when he wakes up in a mysterious world where he seeks to find his lost sick sister, 4-year-old sister Hannah. Complicating this search is Joe’s guilt, he had yelled at her for ruining his favorite magazines. Here in this worn torn world teeming with sick children Joe must find his sister and return to their own world before time runs out.

 

Kerley, Barbara, Greetings from planet Earth, Scholastic Press, New York, 2007, 245 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0439802032, Gr.6+, P 7, Q 7,

Ever since Theo’s dad was killed in Vietnam his grandmother has always had a present for him from his dad. It is now 1977 and Voyager 2 is going to be launched by NASA, his assignment, for science is too come up with something that could be included with Voyager. While searching for something to include he comes across letters from his dad to his mom. This novel explores the Vietnam era for returning veterans, a young boy trying to make sense of a death that really never happened and family dynamics.

 

Leavitt, Martine, Keturah and Lord Death, Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 2006, 216 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1932425292, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 9,

Keturah is 16 the day she meets Lord Death and talks him out of taking her away. She instead uses her storytelling abilities to her advantage and steals another day of life. Each preceding day finds Lord Death waiting for her and giving her more time. This strange intense love story is one that will capture high school student’s attention and one that they won’t be able to put down.

 

Newton, Robert, Runner, Alfred a. Knopf, New York, 2007, 209 pgs, glossary, $15.99, ISBN:0375837442, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Charlie is 15-years-old in 1919, and he and his mother his mother are living in the slums in Richmond, Australia. Charlie’s father had died and they are on their own trying to make ends meet. Charlie even stuffs the holes in his boots with newspaper to keep his feet warm. Charlie’s mother wants him to stay in school, for a better life, but he secretly stops going to become a runner for a Squizzy Taylor, a local gangster. He soon is taking care of Squizzy’s business by collecting his protection money and running his booze. Charlie eventually escapes from Squizzy and comes to run a local competion that offers money to the winner. This book will appeal to middle and high school age students.

 

Paver, Michelle, Soul eater. Katherine Tegen Books, New York, 2007, 323 pgs., $16.99, OSBN:0060728310, Gr., P, Q,

This is Paver’s third book in series of six that she plans to write. Here we again encounter Torak, Renn and his Wolf as they go hunting in the frozen snow and ice. Wolf is capture by the soul-eaters and Torak and Renn must cross the frozen land to the North to find him. The soul-eaters have captured other animals and they plan to sacrifice them and wolf so that the demons that once roamed Earth may be set free to do so again. Those who enjoyed the first two books of this series will enjoy this one too.

 

Reeve, Philip, Larklight: a rousing tale of dauntless pluck in the farthest reaches of space, illustrated by David Wright, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, New York, 2006, 399 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1599900203, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,

It’s 1851, and Art Mumby and his sister, Myrtle are part of the British Empire. A British empire that is in the far reaches of space and their orbiting home is being attacked by giant white spiders that incase the home in spider webs. Art and Myrtle escape only to be captured the space pirate Jack Havock. On a planet that Jack takes them to the two are separated and must find their way back to each other. Art and Mrytle learn that the spiders, the First Ones, are set on taking control of Earth and ruling it again. The story, after they are separated, is told alternating between Art the narrator and then through Myrtle’s diary entries. This is a fantasy adventure that middle and high school students will be drawn to.

 

Salisbury, Graham, House of the red fish, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2006, 291 pgs., glossary, $16.95, ISBN:0385731213, Gr., P, Q,

Graham Salisbury first wrote Under the blood-red sun in 1994 and now in this sequel tells us more of the life of Tomi Nakii and his family. It is now 1943 and Tomi has had to take on the role of man of the house, while still attending high school and trying to make ends meet. His father and grandfather have been arrested and they don’t know where they are. Tomi with the help his friend, Billy, decide to raise his fathers fishing boat, the Taiyo Maru. During this turbulent time however this is dangerous thing for Japanese American to do. The Hawaiian Island’s have a curfew set for the Japanese, there are vigilantes who roam the streets at night looking for those who are breaking the rules. The racism and tropical setting are vividly discussed by Salisbury. This with book along with the first would be a great read-aloud in any classroom studying this era of time.

 

Strasser, Todd, Boot camp, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 235 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:141690848X, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

In the middle of the night 15-year-old Garret is taken, abducted, from his home in handcuffs to a camp, Lake Harmony, for teens who in trouble. Here he is subjected to beatings, teen pressure, and hours of isolation for infractions that the staff implement to break his spirit. Talking while eating is also forbidden and strict measures are again used to enforce it. Garret is drawn to two other teens who have been in Lake Harmony for over two years, and with them escapes to freedom. Strasser’s book describes a world where teens heave no rights and the violence that exists in many of these camps. This book is one that high school students will be drawn to.

 

Washington, Irving, The legend of sleepy hollow, illustrated by Gris Grimly, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, unp, $16.99, ISBN:1416906258, Gr.5+, P 7, Q 9

Gris Grimly uses yellow and tan colored tones to illustration the tale of sleepy hollow. The description of Ichabod Crane is delightful with the accompany drawing, which portrays his all so masculine form. The story moves across the pages with the accompany text and the pictures breath life into pages of this book. This book is one that students will spend hours looking at all to get all the details of the story and pictures.

 

Wells, Rosemary, Red moon at Sharpsburg, Viking, New York, 2007, 236 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0670036382, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

In 1862, India Moody is 13-years-old, and her life is about to change as the civil war tears the United States apart. India dreams of becoming a doctor something unheard of in this era of time. She is tutored by Emory Trimble, her rich neighbor who opens her eyes to learning and the world. The Confederate Army calls her father to duty where he servers as an ambulance driver. India during the war must face many difficulties, freeing and hiding slaves the death of her father, burning of the plantations around her city, starvation and just surviving. This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction.

 

Yep, Laurence, The Earth dragon awakes, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2006, 117 pgs., $14.99, ISBN:0060275243, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7,

April 17, 1906 is known to the world as the day that San Francisco had one of its worst earthquakes. Yep brings this event to life in this book where two young boys tell their stories of what happened to them. Both are friends one is Chinese and lives in China town, the other white and from a rich family. They are also true friends and love to read the “penny dreadfuls,” which show a life full of excitement. They long for something to happen to them and when it does they realize that their life is so bad after all. Young children will love this book as San Francisco shakes and then burns and the young boys lives are changed forever.

 

Non- Fiction

Allen, Thomas, Hariet Tubman, secret agent : how daring slaves and free blacks spied for the union during the Civil War, illustrated by Carla Bauer, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2006, 191 pgs., index, time line, $16.95, ISBN:0792278895, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,

This book features Harriet Tubman and her work in helping slaves to escape as well as her involvement in the Civil War. The book also features those who helped her and how they called upon her and her knowledge of the South to help in raids by the Union forces. The one draw back to this book are the tiny photographs and accompany text in the beginning of the book. There size made it extreme difficult to read. This one drawback would not stop from purchasing such an excellent book. It would be a great addition to any middle or high school library collection.

 

DeSaix, Deborah, Hidden on the mountain : stories of children sheltered from the Nazis in le Chambon, Holiday House, New York, 2007, 275 pgs., index, $24.95 ISBN:0823419282, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

The French village of Le Chambonsur-Lignon became the hiding place for thousands of Jewish and political refugees during World War II. Here the Protestant villagers took families and orphans into their homes and sheltered many for a night or for years. Sharing what little they had this group not only saved the people they sheltered but also were part of the resistance movement against the Nazi’s at this time too. The stories that are told in this book would be great ones to read aloud to students who are World War II in school.

 

Dyer, Alan, Space, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 64 pgs., index, glossary, $16.99, ISBN:1416938605, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This book is divided into three sections, exploring space, our solar system and our universe. Within each of these chapters the reader is met with full color page layouts of space, in which the descriptions and questions are given and asked. One of the changes I noted in this book is that Pluto is not given plant status, but was mentioned as a dwarf planet, (one not big enough to be considered a planet.) Each page has interesting side bars and with listing facts about each topic. This book will be a great addition to any media center.

 

Gourley, Catherine, War women and the news : how female journalists won the battle to cover the war, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007,198 pgs., index, $21.99, ISBN:0689877528, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Gourley has captured more than 12 women journalists within the pages of this book. He gives an overview of how women struggled to become reporter in the 30’ and 40’s and then how they became such a vital part of the news be reported during the war. He introduces each woman and then brings them back again in other chapters as the women cross each other during the war. This is a book that teachers could draw upon for many subjects in middle school or high school for it touches other topics besides just women. The accompanying photos of the concentration camps, the war and the women are of high quality and add to the appeal of thebook.

 

Harpur, James, Warriors: all the truth. tactics, and triumphs of history’s of greatest fighters, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, unp, $21.99, ISBN:1416939512, Gr. 5+, P 9, Q 9,

If your looking for a book which will touch on the warriors of the centuries this is the book to buy. Starting with the Assyrians their weapons, forts, cities, conquests and their great warriors are all talked discussed in the pages of this book. Maps for each group are also included in each section. The end of the book also has a warrior timeline which start at 800 BC and concludes with the Zulu’s in the 1900. This book will be one that flies off the shelf and one that middle school students will gather around to read.

 

McMillan, Beverly, Oceans, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York,2007, 64 pgs., glossary, index, $16.99, ISBN:1416938591, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

Using the same format as Space by Alan Dyer, this new series opens the wonders of the oceans to the world. This book is divided into five sections, the watery world, ocean life, exploring the oceans, the shallows and the depths. Full page color layouts are used though out the book. Side bars of interesting facts are also included. This new series of books is one that should be included in all elementary and middle school libraries.

 

Sitarski, Anita, Cold light : creatures, discoveries, and inventions that glow, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale Pennsylvania, 2007, 48 pgs., glossary, $16.95, ISBN:1590784685, Gr. 4, P 7, Q 8,

Cold light features those animals that have luminescenes and the people who have studied them. One colored page is of a chicken carcass and on the opposite page it

shows a chicken carcass that glowes, full of surviving bacteria. The creatures of the deep that glow are also discussed. The book also features how luminescences is being used in medicine around the world. This book is sure to capture elementary and middle school age student’s attention.

 

Weatherford, Carole, Birmingham, 1963, Wordsong, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2007, 40 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:1590784405, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

In 1963 four young African-American girls died in an explosion that also injured many others who had just finished attending church in Birmingham, Alabama. The poems of this book discuss this turbulent time in America’s history and the four girls who died as result of racial bigotry. This collection could be used to introduce the civil rights here in America.

 

Book Reviews, K.R. WHS September, 2007

Koja, Kathe. Going Under, 2006. When Elisha commits suicide, Hilly and her brother Ivan are devastated. With Ivan’s encouragement, Hilly begins seeing a counselor until she can really believe that “life must go on”. Another theme in the story is “live life to its fullest”. Fortunately, the siblings have each other because, while the parents believe that the family is perfect, the adults are not close enough to their children, leaving them to fend for themselves during this emotional time. The therapist, unfortunately, is cruelty at its worst as he manipulates both children to do his bidding. There are many references to Greek mythology to the perceptive. Students who have lost a friend will relate best to this book, particularly to the end where Hilly has her epiphany: life will go on and we who are left behind will be fine. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 8/9

 

Watts, Leander. Wild Ride to Heaven, 2003 Although the setting of the novel is about 1800, the sense of adventure and the compassion the author has for her characters make this worth reading today. The plot concerns Hannah who lives on a “farm” where coal is mined. Her father (because mother and little sister left a decade earlier) has signed a contract with the Barrow brothers. Hannah is to work (read: slave) for them and marry the oldest, Noel. Of course Hannah rebels at the marriage; she is rescued by “Brother Boy” who lives in the woods. The story turns out, not happily ever after, but with a positive outlook that Hannah and Brother Boy may find happiness together. Students have enjoyed the story, but it is so far from their life experiences that I don’t think that the audience would be wide enough to purchase this for high school students. Story quality: 7 Purchase: 7

 

Crisler, Curtis. Tough Boy Sonatas. The New York setting for the novel gives it a sense of darkness. The main character, however, is not evil. He robs a bank and then feels sorry so he returns the money. A student of mine, who is also Black, found that he could relate to the main character who is also African American. There are many conflicts in the novel, but the most apparent one is simply a look at how people deal with their problems. “Intriguing” is the word my student used to describe the book. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Becoming Chloe. 2006 This is a novel of “hard core” happenings to two teenagers. It begins with Chloe’s rape, then her rescue by Jordon, who is gay. The two become friends, but Jordan, though younger, is in charge and takes Chloe along on an adventure to show her that the whole world is not as dark and depressing as her life has been. One comment from a reader was that “Chloe doesn’t always seem to be ‘all there’; she gets raped and doesn’t seem to be affected by it. ‘It happens all the time,’ she says. That’s not how I’d take it.” However, the novel ends with the two friends sitting on the shore watching a whale—the author’s last images of beauty are in stark contrast to Chloe’s past life. I think that high school students (girls) relate to people who are having difficult lives. They appreciate novels where they can compare their personal difficulties with others’ real hardships. Story quality: 8/9 Purchase: 9

 

Taylor, Kim. Bowery Girl. 2006 It takes a special writing skill to make a student reader empathize with a prostitute and a pickpocket, but Taylor does it in this story about two women who want to better themselves. Annabelle, the pickpocket takes in Mollie because she feels sorry for her. Eventually, the roles are changed because Annabelle becomes pregnant after a stay in the jail and needs Mollie to take care of her. Add to the very real problems they face, the role of the antagonist, Tommy, who is Annabelle’s pimp, discourages both of the women from going to school. I believe that the student who felt for these two characters was unusual. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as she did. Story quality: 7 Purchase: 7

 

Lippman, Laura. By a Spider’s Thread, 2004. A nine-year-old boy is the story’s narrator which was off-putting to my students. Isaac is not in a position to make the action happen, so he must reflect his mother’s desperation to go with another man and leave her husband from his point of view—not necessarily the best choice. Add to the confusion this caused my student reader, the facts that this is the eighth in a series of novels about a females private eye and that the setting is a Jewish family in Baltimore, the novel becomes difficult to follow. As much as I liked the plot about a man searching for his missing family, it isn’t a novel that students in Waldport, Oregon can relate to. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 5

 

Qualey, Marsha. Just Like That, 2005 Coincidence. Hanna fails to warn two young lovers about the thin ice on the lake and they die. Coincidence. Hanna meets Will, the teen who discovers their bodies. Coincidence. Hanna becomes involved with Aaron, an ex-rock star who was driving when the other members of her band were killed in an accident. Coincidence is the driving force behind this terrific novel about accepting change—even when we least expect it. Well written and memorable, the novel is something anyone can relate to as the characters are well-drawn nearly average people who find themselves in situations they had not expected. My students who have read this have commented on how life-changing incidents in their own lives helped them understand the characters and the life-affirming conclusion. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Shafter, Audrey. The Mailbox, 2006. Gabe lives in foster care after his mother’s murder until the state finally finds his uncle, Vernon. Unfortunately, Vernon is a veteran in poor health who dies suddenly. Gabe is too young to know what to do about the body, so he leaves it where he finds it and goes to school as though it were a typical day. When he returns, the body is gone and in its place is a note, leading to other notes in the mailbox. The letter-writer remains anonymous throughout most of the book, but he is a clear character to the reader and Gabe who are both helped by the advice and concern given by him. Although I liked the story, both the book jacket and the title are very off-putting to high school students. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for a middle school audience who would enjoy the mystery and, admittedly, simplistic conclusion. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Antieau, Mary. Mercy Unbound. Mercy believes that she is an angel; angels don’t need to eat. She doesn’t believe she has an eating disorder, even when her parents take her to a hospital specializing in taking care of adolescents with bulimia and anorexia. Fortunately, she is willing to become friends with some of the other girls and, in fact, is able to save one of them. One night, however, Mercy goes missing; she is discovered, naked, several hours later with a blank laptop computer in her hand. Like the computer, Mercy’s memory has also been erased which causes her to eat because she cannot remember not eating. The frank teenage language and very “real” situations make this a keeper. (The title will appeal to girls more than guys.) Story quality: 9+ Purchase: 9

 

Saldana, Rene. The Whole Sky Full of Stars, 2007. This novel is about “friends” who take advantage of each other. The plot concerns Barry who certainly likes boxing. His friend, Alby is using him to pay his gambling debt to Ciro. Eventually, Barry finds out what Alby is doing and refuses to split the winnings with Alby; he gives it all to his friend and then sells his car which he and his father had been working on before his dad died. Mother needs the money to get by on and Barry wants to help. Eventually, Alby’s father, a boastful car salesman, comes up with a way for Alby to redeem himself. A very typical coming of age story, this novel probably belongs in a middle school rather than in a high school where students are more interested in complex decisions. Story quality: 6.5 Purchase: 7 (for middle school)

 

Johnson, Peter. What Happened. 2007 What Happened needs a fairly mature reader who can appreciate the poetry and sensitivity with which Kyle writes about the conflicts he faces in the story. The initiating conflict is a car accident where Duane, the driver, is drunk in s snow storm and runs over and kills a man. Kyle, a passenger, wants to tell the authorities, but Duane relies on his father’s influence to keep him out of trouble. Kyle is also troubled by the earlier death of his mother and the disappearance of his father. Life has been difficult for him; even his girlfriend’s father is unsupportive. The theme of believing, even when life is difficult, is appropriate to the story for a boy who really has nothing to believe in until he realizes he can believe in himself. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Dietrich, William. Napoleon’s Pyramids, 2007. Unfortunately, historical fiction—even well-written historical fiction—doesn’t hold the attention of many high school students. Even though this one has a terrific plot about the search for the secret to eternal life that is revealed in the Book of Thoth, the book is too “intelligently written” for most of my students. The characters are well-developed, Napoleon comes across as the great general he was, and the intrigue of a medallion draw students who are willing to read the novel will be rewarded for their efforts. The only criticism I have of the novel is that it ends too quickly, leaving the lives of most of the characters open to conjecture. One is left feeling unrewarded for the time spent reading. A student of mine said, “I had a hard time reading it fast because it is very intelligent. I would pause after a bit and reflect about what I had just read. I thought the historical accuracy made it better to read.” Story quality: 10 Purchase: 8/9

 

Chapman, Steve. With God on a Deer Hunt. “It was one of the best books I have read, and I really don’t like reading,” CC. The story frame is that of two hunters living for four days in a tree stand waiting for the deer they are looking for. The end up seeing a beautiful elk instead. Full of insights and humorous anecdotes, this is a keeper for all who enjoy the call of the wild. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 9

 

Kelby, N.M. The Company of Angels, 2001. World War II in a small village in France near the border of Belgium is the setting for this piece of historical fiction. The story concerns two nuns, Anne and Mother Xavier who hide and protect Marie Claire from the soldiers. Books like this are important for

students to read because they bring the reality of a terrible time in the world’s history to life so that, perhaps, because of that knowledge, we can keep from allowing those events to occur again. The small town where Marie Claire lives is the site of numerous minor miracles, including peculiar things that happen to Marie. This is well-worth reading. Story quality: 10 Purchase: 10

 

Sturtevant, Katherine. A True and Faithful Narrative 2006. Another historical novel presents London in 1680 when it was considered indecent for women to write; however, Meg, the main character and narrator, cannot help it. She needs to write. Meg has two beaux: one, Edward has chosen a life on the sea; Will is a store owner—neither is all that she wants. However, Edward seems to hold the upper hand when he is captured by pirates and comes back home with amazing stories to tell that Meg can write for him. Even though Meg will not get credit for her writing, it is evident that she has taken a step liberating herself and her talent. So many adolescent novels deal with conflicts between parents and teens (Meg is sixteen) that eventually they begin to sound alike, that only the setting changes. However, the setting in this case is well-represented and Meg’s wanting to write is interesting even to students who don’t care to themselves. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Haycak, Cara. Red Palms, 2004. “I love this coming of age book because anyone can relate to it on their own level. Personally, I can relate with Benita in a way that we both have been through struggles with culture, and money with family. There’s been many things in my life that have changed from great to worse in a matter of minutes, but because of my family and friends, as well as myself, I got through those rough patches. Just like Benita, I have learned from those times and become a stronger individual. I hope that for future readers that they can connect with Benita in a way that I did.” MB One of the valuable things about historical novels is the way that they can put adversity into its proper perspective for teenagers. Here is one that tells of one adventure during the Great Depression when the Mariah family moved to a small island hoping to make a living employing the islanders on a coconut plantation. Benita’s love for one of the islanders, Raul, provides a major source of conflict between the girl and her father. The story ends with a life-affirming testament to the growth Benita has achieved through the trials she has faced. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Rae, Lynne. Criss cross, 2005. Two fourteen-year-old friends, Debbie and Hector, have got wishes. She wants to have something happen to change her life and he wants to learn to play guitar. They each get their wishes, but learn in the meantime that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. This Newberry Medal winner is told poetry, prose, haiku, and questions-and-answer formats, even illustrations. More appropriate for middle schoolers than students in high school, it is a nice perspective on what it means to be a teen Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Joyce, Graham. TWOC, 2007. Because Matt has been taught by his brother, Jake, to steal cars for joy rides, he is involved in a serious car accident. The result is that Matt cannot remember much of what happened that night; he is, however, “haunted” by his dead brother who shows up often in hallucinations. Although Matt is the main character, very little of what he says or understands is true. The book requires a thoughtful reading to sort out Matt’s true feelings and the real events that have taken place. “TWOC seems like the type of book that will stick with you for a long time because of the suspense, and surprises inside of it. It took a while to get going, but once you really dig into it, it’s hard not to appreciate it as a very well-done novel.” JW Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Baptise, Tracey. Angel’s Grace, 2005 While spending the summer with her grandmother in Trinidad, Grace sees a picture of some people, one of whom has the same hand-shaped birthmark she has on her shoulder. Thus begins her quest to find out who her real father is. By interviewing her parents friends, and, eventually, her grandmother, Grace learns the answers to all of her questions. “I realized that not all secrets are the kind that turn your whole world upside down. Some of them are sweet little things that are simply too delicious to let slip.” “I liked this book a lot. It makes you wonder if your parents aren’t hiding secrets from you, and makes you think about how important the little things are in life and that your parents really care about you even if they aren’t your real parents.” DS Story quality: 8 Purchase 7/8

 

Chotjewits, David. Daniel Half Human, 2000. It warms a teacher’s heart when students will say things like, “If this guy had kids like me in mind while writing this book, then more power to him This book was probably one of the best books that I have ever had to read at school.” This novel takes place in Hitler’s Germany. As far as Daniel knows, he is not Jewish; unfortunately, his grandmother is; therefore, he is as likely to be hurt as any of his Jewish friends. Fortunately, he has a friend, Armin, who refuses to treat Daniel like an enemy of the state. The boys have even slit their wrists and combined their blood because their friendship is so deep. It’s a well-written story about how love can survive even the most terrible situations. Story quality: 9 Purchase 9

 

Noonan, Brendon. Plenty Porter, 2006. The eleventh child in a poor family, Plenty wonders where she fits in. Her older sister, Marcie, is losing her hair and has even tried to commit suicide. Why? Mr. Prindergast, using as an excuse that Marcie reminds him of his dead wife, raped Marcie. The story, told through Plenty’s eyes, is essentially her progress in putting together clues that will reveal why Marcie is having such a difficult time, and that Plenty actually does have a place in her family. “Luckily I cannot relate to this book. I know that I have a place in my family. Also I know that God puts everyone on this earth for a reason. So I always know that I have a purpose. All in all I thought that it was a good book.” AW Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7

 

Hawes, Louise. The Vanishing Point, 2004. Like so many works of historical fiction, this one has at its central theme the idea that you can become whatever you want to be—no matter who or what social conventions seem to stand in the way. Vini (Lavinia Fontana) was an actual person who lives in the 1600s when women weren’t supposed to be able to be as skilled as men, nor were they supposed to be allowed to follow their dreams. Vini’s father refuses to believe and then to permit Vini to paint. On the other hand, the young man that she loves recognizes her talent and encourages it. The story begins with Vini imagining herself as a puppet; at one point her mother “goes over the edge” and believes that a puppet is actually the son she was supposed to give her husband. At the end of the story, Vini once again dreams of the puppet, but this time she has no strings, nothing at all to hold her back. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Written as a children’s book, Alice in Wonderland still has a place in our culture. Who can forget the “tea party,” the white rabbit, the red queen, and all the characters that inhabit the pages of this classic? Too few students have read the book that was so popular (again) during the 60s. Some of my students have discovered it again and agree that it is well worth reading. Story quality: 10 Purchase: 9

 

Richards, Justin. The Death Collector, Bloomsburg Publishing: New York, 2006. A dinosaur egg as the key to creating life? That seems to be the premise of the Glick diaries which hold the secrets to creation. George, the protagonist and his friends, Elizabeth and Eddie, are determined to keep Mr. Lorimore and others from using their vast intelligence and equipment to create life. Although the story drags in places, the characters are well-developed, pitting good against evil. Another theme is that intelligence is a gift, a privilege, and human nature has a tendency to abuse such things. At the heart of many good young adult books is a mystery; this one has mysteries galore. As it is told in the first person, the reader feels as if s/he were a companion “good guy” helping to save the world. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Saulnier, Beth. Ecstasy, 2003. Truly awful things happen to teenagers every day. To Alex and the group she calls the Melting Rock Eight, the teens she is supposed to cover at the famous rock music festival, this reality is a part of their lives. This is an intense, and rather lengthy (for an adolescent novel) story about the mystery surrounding the deaths and rape of seven of them. Unfortunately, a stereotypical bad-guy cop turns out to be the center of the events that take place. If I were to purchase this book, I would suggest having it for older teens than sophomores. (It’s difficult to find interesting novels for seniors.) Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

de la Cruz, Melissa. Angels on Sunset Boulevard, 2007. Occasionally adolescent literature will leave readers wanting more; this novel is one of them. It concerns Taj, a song writer, Johnny, a musician, Nick, their friend, and Tap parties—drug parties, actually. When Johnny suddenly disappears during one of his concerts in a blinding flash of light and smoke, Nick seems to be the only one searching for him. Unfortunately, during his search he discovers that Taj isn’t who she seems to be; she is, in fact, the creator of the drug and the activities associated with it. I am always torn about whether to suggest books that “deal in drugs”. I know that they present a reality that is “out there,” but I am not certain that it does any good to confirm students’ assumptions about what goes on in that culture. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 7

 

Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade, 2002. This is a story interspersed by poetry written by “Tyrone” who attends a school for troubled kids. The teacher encourages all of them to try their hands at poetry and Tyrone discovers that he has a talent. His teacher believes in him and encourages him to move on and continue his writing. Inspiring. Probably more for an inner city school. I don’t know how well students would relate to the story. I did, however, and would consider using it for a daily read aloud in my classes. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Lowry, Brigid. Things You Either Hate or Love, 2005. I often wonder how boys would react to the many novels I have that have as their protagonist a female. M.Y. read this and said, “I am glad I read this book because it helped me understand how girls feel.” The story concerns Georgia who lives in a town called Anywhere, but she doesn’t fit in anywhere. She’d like to, but Georgia doesn’t have the money that it seems to take. Eventually, though, because she and the boy she likes work at the same place, they are able to talk to each other, which seems to resolve at least part of Georgia’s frustrations. I seem to have a large number of books that, except for their themes, would do well in a middle school. Some of my less-active readers are getting to them and that is good for their reading practice. Story quality: 5/6 Purchase: 6/7 for middle school

 

Carter, Betsy. Orange Blossom Express, 2005. Death is the most obvious theme of this novel as one parent after another dies leaving grieving family behind. There is simply too much death; soon, the reader becomes inured to it and the story begins to have less of an impact than the author intended. It’s hard to see what keeps driving the characters when every time things are heading for the best someone close to them dies. The setting is Illinois and covers about 1958 to 1986—during the Vietnam War and protests for Equal Rights. Because the book is written in 3rd person, the reader is able to take a step back in the mix of all the commotion and see the problems of the characters in a worthwhile perspective. I think that the book was overly packed with death and pain. A better approach would have been to focus on one—at the most, two—deaths to allow the reader to really care about what transpires to the characters. Story quality: 5 Purchase: 5

 

Halse, Laurie. Prom, 2005. My students have said that because the book is so pertinent to their school lives, Prom hooks readers with the very first sentence as it describes the ups and downs of Ashley’s experiences surrounding Prom; it turns out to be one of the best nights of her life. Ashley is a stubborn and fairly typical teen, while her best friend Natalia is Russian and has to deal with a crazy grandmother. The girls’ adventures show how two very different people can be best friends and find that there is more joy in life when two can share their adventures. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Mass, Wendy. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. 2006. Jeremy Fink is 12 years old going on 13. He only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When he sweats he smells like peanut butter. He doesn’t like to travel, or eat different food; he just likes sticking to what he does normally. The reason all of the events happen in the story is that Jeremy’s mother receives a box; Jeremy receives a collection of keys. When the two are matched up, all kinds of adventures begin to happen. The last line of the book reads, “The people on the train with me don’t know it, but in my head I’m dancing.” Although this book could just as easily find its way into a middle school collection, I liked it because it was refreshing and optimistic. Lizzy and Jeremy make a fun pair of protagonists. Story quality: 8/9 Purchase: 8

 

Rennison, Louise. Startled by his Furry Shorts, 2006. This is the 7th in an extended series of stories about (and by) Georgia Nicholson who writes in her journal about her love life and general adventures in the lives of her friends. The problem this time is that she has a crush on Masimo who is playing hard to get while Dave, who has always been there for her, is getting tired of waiting. Very little is resolved by the conclusion, leaving the way open for another in the on-going “saga.” Part of what makes the book enjoyable, however, is Georgia’s sense of humor. A glossary of terms, both real and invented by her, is included so that the reader can laugh along with the heroine. “Journal” and diary-style novels are very popular with the girls at my school right now. Ones that are written with a cheerful sense of humor are a must-read among my sophomores; this one already is being passed around and students are asking for more by “Georgia.” Story quality: 7/8 Purchase: 8 (with others in the series)

 

Book Reviews—September 2007

 

A.G.

Easton, Kelly. Aftershock. NY: Margaret McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2006. $16.95 165 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-0052-7 P7/Q8

Traumatic shock takes a lot of forms; this story is about a seventeen-year-old boy who gets in a car wreck with his parents, thousands of miles away from home, and they are killed. Shocked beyond belief but physically unhurt, Adam is unable to talk. The rest of the story is about his journey back to the east coast from Idaho, penniless and without identity, working through his grief as he went. This is yet another book about dealing with grief. It is very readable and I finished it in one sitting.

 

Yancey, Rick. The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. NY: Bloomsbury Childrens Books, 2005. $16.95 313 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-58234-693-3 P7/Q7

This is a quintessential boy’s adventure novel set in modern times but with a fantasy edge that will appeal to King Arthur fans. Alfred is a 15-year-old orphan with self-esteem problems living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his security guard uncle. When his uncle reveals a get-rich-quick scheme to Alfred which requires his involvement, Alfred tries to please by going along with it. Little did he know that it would lead not only to the death of many people, but also to the revelation of Alfred’s Arthurian heritage. Alfred is a lovable, bumbling, self-effacing hero who proves that the best leaders are those who don’t crave that recognition. The first person singular writing is a bit uneven but sometimes it’s appealing in that. For kids who are into action adventure, this will supply them with all the adrenaline-pumping scenarios they are used to in adventure films. The cover is not as appealing as it perhaps could be, so readers may have to be led to this book. It could work as a read-aloud to a classroom as there are no objectionable bits, and could also serve to emphasize that kids who may look dorky may also have greatness in them.

 

Calhoun, Dia. Avielle of Rhia. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2006. $16.99 400 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-7614-5320-2 P8/Q8

In this extra-terrestrial medieval fantasy, a teen princess is despised by her older brother (the crown prince) and many of her countrymen because she takes after the race of her grandmother, a political bride from the neighboring enemy state. Her silver skin stands out against everyone else’s white to black skin. Making it more interesting, her favored race also has genetically-linked magical powers. She leaves home and takes shelter with a magical weaver, and then finds that she also has to learn how to conquer her country’s problems and lead them to victory. This is the type of story that features a misunderstood teenager with hidden powers, but it also puts race relations into perspective. The message tends to give the story more punch.

 

McDonald, Janet. Harlem Hustle. NY: Frances Foster Books (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 2006. $16.00 182 pp. 14 up ISBN 0-374-37184-9 P6/Q6

The story of teen Eric Samson (aka Harlem Hustle) and his hard life living with friends (abandoned by his family) and trying to make a living by shoplifting is intriguing but not pathetic. The story’s main focus is on his ambition (along with many other teens) to become a well-paid rap artist. He’s good with words and with hustling, but his innocence gets him ripped off by a mid-level manager of a recording company. Armed with friends in high places due to a friendship with a Harlem girl who made good and went to a good school, Hustle fights back using a network of people rather than a gun. While the topic may appeal to teens who like rap, the story isn’t particularly gritty or fraught with pathos. The author gets in her own political stance on misogynistic rap, encouraging more positive lyrics. It’s hard to know if a woman raised in Brooklyn and living in Paris, France, has the straight story on male Harlem rap wannabes. The extensive use of rappers’ lingo may provide some useful examples of dialect for English classes, as well as demonstrating rap’s poetry.

 

Kirkpatrick, Katerine. Escape Across the Wide Sea. NY: Holiday House, 2004. $17.95 210 pp. ages 8-13 ISBN 0-8234-1854-5 P6/Q6

The settlement in New York of French Huguenots in the late 1600’s today interests mostly just family historians. However, their culture was one of the many that contributed to America’s early settlement and deserves exploration. This story follows the fate of a 9-year-old French boy of Rochelle as he and his weaver father and mother are persecuted for their refusal to convert to Catholicism. They are run out of town, and in the process Daniel is badly wounded in the leg by a soldier’s sword. From there the story proceeds on board a slave ship to Africa, the loading of slaves and sailing west to Guadalupe, a French sugar plantation colony with Daniel befriending a young African slave. The family eventually ends up in New York. Designed to serve as enrichment for 4th grade history curriculum, this book will give students background on Calvinism and the French equivalent of the Puritans, the reasons people settled in America, the slave trade, 17th century French politics, New World economics, and American settlers’ early difficulties in the “wilderness” that became New Rochelle, New York. The story is interesting and has vocabulary simple enough for a 4th grader, and is a fast read despite its many pages.

 

Smith, D. James. Probably the World’s Best Story About a Dog and the Girl Who Loved Me. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 234 pp. ages 9-12 ISBN1-4169-0542-1 P7/Q8

Twelve-year-old Irish-Italian Paolo lives in Orange Grove City, California in 1951. While not strictly speaking a historical novel, the story does focus on a life that’s forever gone—boys with paper routes who spend time bicycling around hunting adventures instead of sitting in front of TV or a computer. (Many things of the 50’s the author gets right, so I’ll forgive one historic inconsistency: While duck tape had been invented by 1951, it wasn’t in common use yet—baling wire was the universal binder of the day). It also deals with longer-term issues: first jobs, friendships, children who are different (there’s a deaf boy, a boy with a polio-withered hand, and a boy whose mother is odd), and puppy love. The chapter headings, each with a description of a plot-significant word in sign language, add a classy touch. The plot rides along nicely, and has some

interesting twists. A clear message is conveyed regarding positive self-concept without hitting the reader over the head with it (except in the title).

 

Popescu, Petru. Weregirls: Birth of the Pack. NY: Tom Doherty Assoc., 2007. $12.95 352 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-7653-1641-2 P7/Q6

This first volume of an obviously anticipated series is entertaining enough reading, imaginative though sometimes uneven in writing. Sixteen-year-old Lily is the daughter of two police; her father, though, was killed in a mysterious confrontation for which her mother still blames herself for failing to save him. Most of the book is Lily’s discovery of herself and her hidden powers. Beginning with her organizing of a soccer club, Lily has challenges ranging from overcoming bureaucracy to competing with a wealthy Barbie-look-alike new girl. The ordinary teen social angst suddenly becomes a battle of magical beings fighting for good and evil. The mystical traditions the author draws upon for his story are wildly confused between eastern European and imagined Native American. I’m not entirely sure that they work, but I suppose people can make up whatever they please. The first person narrative is a little lame at times in its effort to be contemporary “teen-speak”. It is a bit in the genre of the Chloe King series where an ordinary teen finds herself with cat powers, but that series has more interesting character development than this novel. A little formulaic, perhaps, but perhaps what bothers me most is the clear delineation of “bad” qualities (greed, anger, etc.) but not as great of delineation of “good” qualities (the good guys are a bit headstrong and out for glory). I would not highly recommend this book, but I suspect it will have its followers. Sex, violence or mature themes do not occur in this book, and it would likely have a stronger following with the middle school set.

 

Wittlinger, Ellen. Blind Faith. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 280 pp. ages 12 up ISBN:1-4169-0273-2 P

This story is about relationships with parents—when they are dying, when they have died, and when they are grieving. Liz (undeterminate age, probably middle school) is trying to cope with her mother who is deeply depressed after the death of her own mother, with whom she’d had a much closer relationship than she has with Liz. The story is in first person. While Liz deals with her mother, her mother’s new obsession with spiritualism, and then with her parents’ separation, a new family moves in across the street. That mother is herself dying, and they haven’t told the younger daughter. This book could provide a basis for a discussion on dealing with dying, and with relationships between mothers and daughters. A side story is Liz’ emotional outlet in playing piano.

 

D’Lacey, Chris. Fire Star. NY: Orchard Books (Scholastic); 1st pub in Great Britain by Hachette Pub., 2005. $15.99 548 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-84582-3 P8/Q7

This is the third in a series; no doubt there will be a fourth as the story is not yet complete. Dragons are the subject. In this volume, the storyline focuses on Elizabeth Pennykettle’s roomer, David, who writes and mysteriously what he writes comes true, and his odd girlfriend Suzanna. Much of the story takes place in the Arctic with the polar bears. The plot has some reasonably interesting twists, and a new malevolent force is introduced which promises to be the focus of the next volume. While there are a lot of pages here, they are offset by the large print and wide margins, and the vocabulary and treatment keep it within the reach of elementary students.

 

Ruby, Laura. Good Girls. NY: Harper Tempest, 2006. $16.99 274 pp. ages 15 up ISBN 0-06-088223-9 P7/Q7

Told first person, we learn about the senior year of Audrey and the guy she really likes (but can’t bring herself to tell him). At a party they get together, then someone pops in and snaps a photo of them with a cell phone, and then circulates it. Audrey’s reputation is ruined as everyone could tell that was his pants and the back of her head in the picture. Yet they broke up that night. This is a pretty frank book about sexual activity, though it isn’t prurient; it’s more precautionary, as though from a girlfriend.

 

Russo, Marisabina. A Portrait of Pia. NY: Harcourt, 2007. $17.00 221 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-15-205577-6 P7/Q7

Twelve-year-old Pia is a normal kid raised by a single mom. She however has an older brother who is a schizophrenic genius, and a father she’s never met. The story brings her through contacting her father, meeting him for the first time by traveling to Italy, and finding out the nature of her parents’ relationship. It considers her feelings about her mother dating and trying to find her a dad. There is also a lot about friends and when those relationships go sour. This is a pleasant story, one I enjoyed returning to, and it considers a situation that probably many young people today go through, and need to reflect on. It also addresses schizophrenia and how that can affect a family, and how it can manifest and how people deal with it.

 

Welsh, T. K. Resurrection Men. NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2007. $16.99 214 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-525-47699-3 P7/Q7

Western medical science has progressed a lot since the early 1800’s, but it got off to a rocky start. With autopsies of treated patients not allowed, the bodies of the condemned—or bodies obtained far more cruelly—were used to demonstrate anatomy. This story begins with a child being run over by a horse and coach in the 1850’s. As he treats the “street rat” against the wishes of the rich man who struck him, the doctor tells the story of a boy which views the English class system from the point of view of the “less fortunate”. The 12-year-old boy Victor goes to sea, and has more bad luck there when he is terribly injured and permanently disabled. From walking the plank (so to speak) to life on the streets of 1830’s London, the struggles that kept the Englishmen’s average lifespan to only 27 years are brought to life. The horrors of unprincipled medical research and grave-robbing of the time will likely appeal to pre-teen/tween boys. This story will interest fans of historical fiction, mysteries, and action adventures. It is fast-paced and colorful, a quick read. The vocabulary will include many words new to the reader (from antique slang to stilted Victorian terms), but it adds to the texture of the book and shouldn’t be an obstacle to understanding or enjoyment.

 

Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II. NY: Dial Books, 2005. 224 pp. $16.99 ages 10 up ISBN 0-8037-2921-9 P8/Q8

I’ve had more than one high school boy ask me for help finding material on the Navajo code talkers, and it’s not been easy to find it. This volume clearly tells the tale from the

point of view of an old Navajo veteran. Having heard many a vet tell war stories at powwows, this voice rings true. Bruchac wrote this one because he was interested in the topic, and it shows in the extensive research he obviously did for the book. I learned a lot of facts new to me by reading it; for instance, that the Cherokees used their language to relay messages on the battlefront in World War I. The viewpoint of the code talker is particularly advantageous in telling the story of the island battles in the Pacific theatre of the war, since they were in direct company with the top brass and relayed all the key messages (“FDR is dead”, “Japan has surrendered” as well as “Stop bombing us with friendly fire!”) The story is not too graphically violent, and is appropriate for all ages. People who like war stories will like this one, but it should appeal also to those looking for a palatable way to learn history. With the popularity of the movie “Windtalkers”, there should be enhanced interest in filling out the Navajo side of the story as well as historical details with this book; the recent movies “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” would also compliment this story. High school students more often cover World War II, but there will be middle school students who will find this book interesting. It is must reading for all Navajo students. It is very good in teaching about race relations. There is a selected bibliography in the back, on Navajos, code talkers and World War II.

 

Wilson, N.D. Leepike Ridge. NY: Random House, 2007. $15.99 224 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 978-0-375-83873-6 P8/Q8

Tom is 11 years old and resentful of his mother’s new boyfriend (his father died 3 years before) and goes down to the creek in a sulk. Playing on a refrigerator box Styrofoam pad, he soon gets washed downstream to unfamiliar territory, and then sucked underwater to an underground system of streams and caves. Wierder yet—people have been there before, a LONG time before. This action adventure story melds Tom Sawyer with Indiana Jones (with minimal violence) for a fun read that will entertain most action-oriented young readers.

 

DePalma, Toni. Under the Banyan Tree. NY: Holiday House, 2007. $16.95 185 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-8234-1965-7 P6/Q7

When 15-year-old Irena gets fed up with her gator-wrestling backwoods father who’s run off her precious mother, she hitchhikes off to Key West, famous for being the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. The key focus of the book is on her sense of loss and trying to sort out her parents’ divorce in her mind. She gets hired on as a motel maid at the Banyan Tree Motel. In hopes that she can keep her position and the motel afloat, Irena has to apply some business sense she learned from the gator-wrestling business. The story is simple, large print, and pretty short. It packs in some personal development—Irena comes to forgive her father some—and some literary allusion (how she saves the motel is best left as a surprise, but it involves a well-known writer). It may help an older teenager think through what is out there in the “real world”, and how one survives without a family’s help. There is none of the older teen’s romance or social whirl, so the story could appeal also to the younger pre-teen; it’s an easy read, too.

 

Archbold, Tim, Brown, Mik & Hurt-Newton, Tania.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Over 350 very funny jokes. Boston: Kinfisher, 2006. $? No. of pages ? (it’s pretty long, pocketbook-style) Ages 5 up ISBN 0-7534-6003-3 P8/Q7

There’s a certain age of kid that really loves puns, knock-knock jokes and elephant jokes. No matter that these particular jokes have been published since 1984, they will be all knew (ha ha) to the younger crowd. Each illustrator takes a third of the book, using a different illustration style. The jokes are very simple and short. At the end of each section there’s a short bit about the illustrator, which is written to be funny as well. As a comparison of artistic styles it’s interesting, but it will also keep the interest of a pre-reader as someone else reads the short joke, and give the reader and listener something to focus on to prolong the enjoyment of a particular joke.

 

Picture Books

Hatkoff, Isabella; Hatkoff, Craig; & Kahumbu, Paula. Photos by Peter Greste. Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship. NY: Scholastic Press, 2007 (c. Turtle Pond Pub.). $16.99 30 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-89959-1 P8/Q8

Cross-species friendships are unusual enough when they involve horses and cats; this story is about an exceptional relationship between a 130-year-old land tortoise, Mzee, and a young hippopotamus, Owen. The hippo was rescued after the big tsunami of 2004 and brought to the park where Mzee was kept. As hippos don’t always accept newcomers, the keepers put Owen in with Mzee, where they formed a surprisingly close relationship. The photos support the physical language between the two, and the text talks about its development. It’s a wonderful story, appropriate to read aloud to a classroom or to children younger than can read the text, and will also interest adults.

 

Baum, Maxie. Illus. by Julie Paschkis. I Have a Little Dreidel. NY: Scholastic, 2006. $9.99 22 pp. ages 5 up ISBN 0-439-64997-8 P7/Q8

This charmingly illustrated book illustrates an evening celebration of Hanukah which features making latkes, lighting candles, and playing dreidel. The dreidel song is often the only feature of Hanukah which makes it to the hinterland of public schools, so it’s helpful to illustrate how the game is played and in what setting, as well as giving many verses and also the musical score. A recipe for latkes is also offered at the end. (In terms of Hebrew heritage, it’s interesting how the spell-check program for this Word program understands and spells Hanukah and latke, but not dreidel, underlining the need for a book such as this.) This will be a standby for cultural diversity in the winter season, and would make an appropriate gift to a young gentile from a Jewish friend.

 

Funke, Cornelia. Illus. by Kerstin Meyer. Princess Pigsty. NY: Chicken House (Scholastic), 2007. $16.9924 pp. ages 5-9 ISBN 0-439-88554-X P7/Q7

Ever tried to convince a youngster that they should LIKE to do chores? It’s pretty difficult, but maybe reading this book will help. Princess Isabella gets tired sitting around looking beautiful all day, with everyone waiting on her. Being a Royal turns out to be more difficult than it looks. All she wants to do is skip the dress-up and cook, clean and take care of the pigs. Will it be convincing? Good luck—but at least it gives another perspective. Cute illustrations. Best as a read-aloud for the younger ones.

 

Bildner, Phil. Illus. by Zachary Pullen. The Greatest Game Ever Played: A Football Story. NY: GP Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-399-24171-K P7/Q7

A father tries to interest his son in football by talking about a great pro football game from the early days of football’s popularity rise over baseball. The illustrations are great fun, and the story is told straightforwardly. The book may even interest non-sports fans, at least to enjoy the funny pictures. I am not a good judge of accuracy in sports stats, but the names of the players even I was familiar with, though I can’t think of a good reason I would have heard before of the “greatest game ever played”, a NFL championship game between the Colts and the Giants.

 

October 2007 Reviews

 

OREGON COAST PREVIEW BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS S.E. Grandparent Volunteer October 2007

 

Fiction

Lehman, Barbara author and illustrator. Rainstorm. Houghton Mifflin Company, NY.NY. 2007. 061875639-6. $16.00. A wonderful wordless story about a young man who is alone on a rainy day and finds a key. The illustrations are simple but the reader can easily identify with what the boy goes through during the story. It is a cheery book to “read” aloud on a rainy winter day. K-1. P10 Q9

Shannon, George. Il Laura Dronzek. Rabbit’s Gift. Harcourt Children’s Books San Diego, Calif., 2007. ISBN 15206073-1. $16.00. 32p. This is a nice story of sharing that spreads throughout Rabbit’s community. Ages 5-7. P8Q8

 

Norac, Carl. Il Ingrid Gordon. My Mommy Is Magic Houghton Mifflin Company, NY, NY. 2006. ISBN 0-61875766-4. $16.00. 29p. A cute story about the things a mom can do that appear to be magic. If it becomes popular it will be because little children can relate to the mom being magic. Ages 5-7. P8Q7

 

Dahlin, Adam. Il. Emma Akerman. Junk Collector School Rabe’n & Sjogren Bokforlag, Stockholm, Sweden, 2007. ISBN 91-29-66736-4. $16.00. This is a nice story about a kid who wants to start a collection and gets lessons from an old guy who is a junk collector. I like the book, I like the illustrations and I like the theme which is that life can get a little meaningless without some sort of goal or something special. Ages 5-9. P8Q8

 

Poetry

Grandits, John. Blue Lipstick Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Company NY. 2007. ISBN 061856860-3. $15.00. This is a very unique way to write poetry and can be used to show that you don’t have to write in any particular way in order to get out what is inside you…that creativity can be accepted and celebrated in whatever unique form presented. Ages 13-18. P8Q8

 

October 2007 Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Burns, Loree Griffin. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. [Scientists in the Field Series] Houghton, 2007. $18.00. 0-618-58131-6. 58p. Ages 8-12: What do sneakers and plastic bathtub toys have to do with ocean currents? The answer comes from those who study the ocean movements as they are aided by objects tossed into the ocean, including cargo containers hauling manufactured goods from one continent to another. The author uses the information from their studies to teach basic concepts of longitude and latitude, tides and currents, and the dangers of all the debris circling the world’s waterways. The information is fascinating enough to keep the reader moving through the book. If anything suffers in the book, it is the lack of dynamic pictures. Yes, the maps are important, but almost half the photographs are static, usually headshots of men active in the field. (The only named woman in a photograph is one of the scientists’ mother.) Nevertheless, this book is a good addition to books about the ocean, especially needed in schools along the Coast, and it has a good environmental focus showing the disasters of not recycling. P7Q7

 

Gibbons, Gail. Coral Reefs. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-2080-9. 32p. Ages 5-9: Author of dozens of books in the same style, Gibbons tackles some of the 650 known kinds of hard coral polyps and 1,800 soft coral polyps in brief narrative and drawings of sea life completed with colorful watercolors. Useful are the maps where coral reefs have been found as well as illustrations of reef types that make the explanation far clearer than words only. The repetition of coral names reinforces the information, and the drawings and naming of other reef creatures expand the usefulness of this book. Previous books for this audience on coral have used photographs; Gibbons brings her own unique approach to the subject. P8Q8

 

Litwin, Laura Baskes. Dorothea Lange: A Life in Pictures. [People to Know Today Series] Enslow, 2007. 0-7660-2697-3. Ages 9-12: Best known for her photographs showing the personal devastation of the 1930s Depression, Lange managed a full-time career during a time that most women in her class stayed at home with the children. Because of her commitment to recording the social scene of her time, she successfully worked to combat poverty and improve people’s lives. The 33 photographs in the book show some of her most famous as well as those events in her personal life. P6Q6

 

Sis, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain. Farrar, 2007. $18.00. 0-374-34701-8. unp. Ages 8-12: In Tibet, Sis tells about his father’s life while he was lost in Tibet after the Czechoslovakian government ordered him there to teach photography to the Chinese people. In The Wall, Sis describes his own life growing up in Czechoslovakia under the iron hand of the Soviets. His story, told in roughly drawn but detailed pictures and brief memories, goes from a happy childhood in the late 1940s and 1950s to a confused adolescence when the news filtered from the West taught him and his friends about Coca-Cola, jeans, beat poetry, and the Beatles. But with the Soviets’ reassertion of totalitarian control in Prague during the spring of 1968, Sis wishes to escape from a land of suspicion, stupidity, and fear to a place of justice, honor, wisdom, and knowledge. He was allowed to leave the country but returned when he was ordered to until 1984 when he settled in the United States. This fusion of history, personal recollection, and art provide an amazing journey behind the Iron Curtain into the lives of young people. P7Q9

 

Sullivan, George. Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures. Scholastic, 2007. $17.99. 0-439-91815-4. 80p. Ages 8+: The story of the blind and deaf girl who became one of the most famous women in the world never ceases to fascinate, and this book adds two new pieces to the literature: a foreword by Keller Johnson Thompson, Keller’s great-grandniece; and the plethora of large photographs following Keller from childhood through old age. Although the text is briefer than many other books, Sullivan manages to synthesize the important parts of Keller’s life and bring a warm, personal touch to his writing. Reading this book is almost like meeting the great woman. Highly recommended for all school and public libraries. P7Q10.

 

Waring, Geoff. Oscar and the Moth: A Book about Light and Dark. [A Start with Science Book Series] Candlewick, 2006. $11.99. 0-7636-3558-9. 29p. Ages 4-7: Seasons, light, times of day, heat and cold, and shadows are a few of the subjects tackled by Moth who explains these phenomena to a curious kitten, Oscar as they wander around. Bold, brightly-colored cutouts demonstrate the succinct, clear text that includes how some living creatures make light in their own bodies. Gentle humor, including the illustration of the anglerfish, motivate the reader. The index helps introduce this concept to your readers who will find this charming book delightful. P8Q9

 

Waring, Geoff. Oscar and the Frog: A Book about Growing. [A Start with Science Book Series] Candlewick, 2006. $11.99. 0-7636-3558-9. 29p. Ages 4-7: A curious kitten, who visits a pond, learns about how living things begin, why they eat, and how they grow from his friend Frog. The same advantages as Oscar and the Moth (above). P8Q9

 

Picture Books

McPhail, David. Sylvie & True. Farrar, 2007. $15.00. 0-374-37364-7. 32p. Ages 5-8: In a charmingly illustrated chapter book, the friendship of a sweet rabbit who loves to cook and a giant water snake who always wins at bowling are shown in a series of episodes. The acceptance of True’s oddity as a reptile and the characterization of both creatures makes this an important book in showing young readers about the diversity of humans while the humor of True’s attempting to cook will strike home for everyone. Life with Sylvie and True is never boring as anyone who reads the tales and admires the enchanting watercolors will realize. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Horvath, Polly. The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane. Farrar, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-31553-1. 261p. Ages 12+: Horvath has always brought a black humor to her novels; in this one, she goes farther than before as she lays her highly dysfunctional characters on a rainy island off the Vancouver Island coast in British Columbia. Although the focus is on two cousins, ages 15 and 16, who have been orphaned through a train accident, other pieces of a puzzle are supplied by the taciturn uncle who gives them a home and the housekeeper/cook hired to provide for their needs. With no supervision, the two cousins work to put together parts of airplanes to escape the island, the younger Meline leading the older Jocelyn. The story moves backward to earlier experiences of the lives that the cousins had with their families and the uncle when he was a foster child as well as the the housekeeper’s loss of her husband and four sons. The theme of the book centers on how each copes with grief and moves past their sadness. A rich, complicated book for readers willing to be introspective. P7Q9

 

konigsburg, e. l. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. Atheneum, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-4972-0. 244p. Ages 11+: Amadeo’s dream of discovering something that no one realizes is there takes a strange turn when he moves with his mother to a small Florida town and works with an aloof boy on an estate sale for Amadeo’s eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Zender. The carefully delineated characters of the book are typical of this two-time Newbery winner as she draws the reader further and further into the maze that led the neighbor to own a Modigliani drawing that was stolen from Amadeo’s godfather’s family during the Holocaust. Also tied into the plot is Hitler’s persecution of homosexuals as well as Jews. Readers familiar with konigsburg’s earlier book The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place will delight in following the three protagonists in their adulthood, Amadeo’s divorced parents and his godfather. Arcane plotting and motivations make this a good candidate for another Newbery. P7Q9

 

Lott, Tim. Fearless. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-3637-1. 263p. Ages 12+: In this dystopian novel of the future, girls are incarcerated in a so-called school to slave for the government, dehumanized by their losses of their names and their pasts. Only one of them, nicknamed Little Fearless, has the courage to try to escape the facility to tell the world about the cruelty that they suffer. In her dangerous adventures she is willing to risk everything so that the girls will be treated justly. Despite some improbably plotting, the book reads well and quickly. Lott shows readers the ability for people to lose their courage and determination when they are stripped of individuality and their growing subservience when power is distributed unequally. A must reading for today’s society. P7Q8

 

Pixley, Marcella. Freak. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-32453-0. 131p. Ages 11-14: Seventh grade, a time when hormones change everyone’s perspective, is also the time when girls try to work on their “Feminine Attributes” if they wish to be popular with boys. Miriam Fisher, budding poet, decides not to follow her older sister into this loss of intelligence and thus suffers the cruel harassment of the popular girls. She cannot talk to her artist mother because of the woman’s emotional fragility and thus copes in silence until one night she starts cutting her hair and shaping her eyebrows, ending up with almost no hair on her head. When Miriam fights back against the ridicule, she

discovers that being popular is not necessarily what she wants, discovering that her classmate Jenny is sexually molested because she wants to be popular. Although the book is almost too simple, almost to the point of being didactic, many young girls can identify with the plights of Miriam and Jenny who reveal dimensions that young people need to understand. P8Q7

 

St. George, Judith. The Ghost, the White House, and Me. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-2045-0. 153p. Ages 8-12: This light-hearted comedy/coming-of-age novel features 11-year-old KayKay Granger whose mother has just been elected the President of the United States. The plot surrounds KayKay’s decision to play a prank on her uncle who is allowed to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom after she is told she cannot. Somewhat unrealistic with jumps in characterization and motivation, but young readers will enjoy a look at the most famous home in the United States. And it’s got a great cover! P8Q6

 

Sinykin, Sheri. Giving Up the Ghost. Peachtree, 2007. $15.95. 1-56145-423-0. 227p. Ages 10-14: Fear so overwhelms 13-year-old Davia that she has frequent asthma attacks: mostly she is terrified of her mother’s cancer returning. When she and her mother leave their home to stay with a dying aunt in the deep South while Davia’s father helps rebuild New Orleans after Katrina, the girl has a new fear—the tortured ghost of a spoiled Creole girl who inhabits the old plantation. Sinykin has not only the ability to delineate character but also skill to create a fascinating, believable setting for her story. Young readers wil be enticed into the novel through the cover and title as well as benefit from reading about a peer’s gradual acceptance of self and death in a story about developing closeness with a relative who starts out as a stranger. P8Q8

 

October 2007 Reviews by C.B. INMS/NMS

Farmer, Nancy, The land of the silver apples, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 496 pgs., $18.99, ISBN:1416907351, Gr.7+, P 8, Q 9,

This book is the sequel to The Sea of trolls, and we now find Jack, who is now 13-years-old, back home in 790 AD Britain where he is studying to be a bard. Jack is soon facing elves, who never age, hobgoblins, who stole his true sister, a reunion with Thorgil, and Pege, a slave girl. Christianity versus the life of pagans and magic is another theme that is woven throughout the story. If you liked the first book this is one that readers will not be able to put down till they finish.

 

Croggon, Alison, The crow: the third book of Pellinor, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006, 511 pgs., $18.99, ISBN:0763634093, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,

This is the third book in this series by Croggon. This book however features Hem, Maerad brother, who is discovering his own powers and how to fit in the life he has now. Previously he had been in an orphanage and was taken from there by the dark forces to train to become one of them. Now as the dark forces attack the city of Turhansk, Hem helps to defend the city and discovers that he is a healing bard. Escaping from the city in it’s final moments Hem and the others with know that they too must help discover the riddle of the Treesong so that the dark forces can be conquered. Those who read the other two books in this series will love this one as well.

 

Giff, Patricia Reilly, Eleven, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2008, 167 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0385900988, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Sam is an 11 year-old boy the year he finds a box in Mack’s attic which holds a newspaper clipping with the words kidnapped printed on it. This triggers Sam’s memory and he is soon wondering who really is, if he was indeed kidnapped. He also starts to wonder why the number 11 keeps appearing in all his dreams. Sam tries to do everything himself but is unable to read. With the appearance of Caroline Sam plans to make friends with her and have her help him solve the mystery. But instead he finds a friendship and the truth. This is a book that will appeal to middle school age students.

 

Resau, Laura, Red glass, Delacorte Press, New York, 2007, 275 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0385734662, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Sophie and her mother have always just made it from one pay check to another, that changes when her mother marries Juan. It’s not uncommon now for Sophie to wake up to find her back yard harboring people who have crossed into the United States illegally. Pedro, survives such a crossing, is introduced to the family after he is found in the desert. Pedro is with them for almost a year when his extended family is found in Mexico. So begins an adventure and a self discovery for Sophie as she and the members of her party take Pedro home. This book will appeal to older middle school children and will show them the difficulties that people in other countries face.

 

Salisbury, Graham, Night of the howling dogs, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2007, 191 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0385731221, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 9,

In 1972, on the big island of Hawaii a boy scout troop was camping at a remote site, Halapee, when a earth quake hit the island. In the following aftermath of the quake a tsunami also hits the island. This story is based on this event. Dylan is an 8th grader when his troop plans an overnight camping and hiking trip. His trip is further complicated by the new member, Louie, whom he doesn’t get along with. During this horrible event however Louie and Dylan must work together to find those lost and to survive. As with other Salisbury books this one will draw the reader in and keep their interest as the events unfold.

 

Stone, Jeff, Crane, Random House, New York, 2007, 248 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0375830774, Gr. 5+, P 8 , Q 7,

Those students who love martial arts will love this book, the fourth in a series of five books. Hok ,also known as Crane has hidden her true identity from her fellow young monks and the world. Hiding and posing as a boy has always been hard for the young women, but now reunited with her family she is finally able to be herself. This Kung Fu adventure is set in China and includes a raft trip down the Yellow River with danger lurking around every bend. Elementary and middle school students who have read Stone’s other three books will enjoy this one as well.

 

Verrillo, Erica, Elissa’s quest, Random House, New York, 2007, 336 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0375839461, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

This book has it all mystery, magic, danger and an adventure. Topping it all off however is a young girl, Elissa who is an orphaned girl who has lived in a small village with the village healer, Nana. During this time she has developed into a secure young woman who is both strong and kind. She wants to more about herself, who her parents are, why she has these hidden powers, and who know the answers but Nana, who won’t tell her anything. Elissa’s father is revealed and in her travels she is kidnapped, she escapes and by the end of the story has saved the day. This delightful book is one of three planned by the author and I can’t wait to read the other two.

 

NON FICTION

Adams, Simon, The Kingfisher atlas of exploration & empires, illustrated by Mark Bergin, Kingfisher, Boston, 2007, 48 pgs., index, maps, $15.95, ISBN:0753460335, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,

Starting with the world’s exploration in 1450 this unique book covers the world’s discoveries by those who dared to travel the oceans. Full page maps and a side bar time line are included on each page as each era and region are presented. From the voyages of discovery, the Renaissance and ending with the French Revolution students will find this a handy reference to begin more in depth research.

 

Farmer, Nancy, Clever Ali, illustrated by Gail De Marcken, Orchard Books, New York, 2006, unp, $17.99, ISBN:0439370140, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

Seven year old Ali is a young boy who lives in the Sultan’s palace, where his father holds the position as a pigeon keeper. It’s the 12 century and Farmer has chosen to tell the tale, based on a true 12-century Egyptian ruler, Al-Azeez, who demands that Ali deliver 600 cherries in three days. If he fails to do so he and his father will be sent down through a hole in the floor to the horrible monster who lives in the ground below the palace. Ali overcomes this by sending 600 pigeons with a message that they are to send the pigeons back with a cheery. Using rich designs and calligraphy, taken from the Arab-Muslim world, the illustrator has strived to give the reader a taste of the culture of this region.

 

Fleischman, John, Black and white airmen : their true history, Houghton Mifflen Co. Boston, 2007,158 pgs., index, $20.00, ISBN:0618562974, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

This book is centered around two men, John Leahr and Herb Heilbrun, who were born in 1920 in Cincinnati, Ohio. These two men would however lead totally different lives, for Leahr is an African-American and Heilbrun is white, in an era that catered more to whites than to blacks. 50 years later, in 1997, Heilbrun attends a local reception that is honoring the Tuskegee airmen that the two meet and become friends. They soon discover that they attend the same school and even had their picture taken together. While the title of the book speaks of the “airmen” it is really more about these two men and not a whole lot about other airmen. Those who are studying this subject will find this book a good source to draw information from.

 

Hampton, Wilborn, War in the Middle East : a reporter’s story: Black September and the Yom Kippur War, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2007, 112 pgs., index, photos, maps, $19.99, ISBN:0763624934, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Wilbourn was a reporter who was assigned to cover the war, Black September, in 1970 and the Yon Kippur War in 1973. He has drawn upon these experiences to paint a true picture of what war is and the conflicts that were faced in the Middle East at this time. He also gives a clearer under standing of the issues that caused the wars and the war that we are in now. The dangers he faced as a reporter are truly extraordinary and he brings the reader to the true face of what was happening in the wars of these times. Any reader who is studying the Middle East should read this reporter’s first hand account to gain a clearer perspective of what the issues are in the Middle East.

 

Kramer, Ann, Anne Frank : the young writer who told the world her story, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2007, 63 pgs., index, $17.95, ISBN:1426300042, Gr. 5+,P 7, Q 7,

Anne Frank is presented to the reader with full color layouts and across the bottom of each page are historical events and biographical information. The book is also presented chronology with the book divided into four sections so that all of Anne’s life is presented to the reader in an easy format to read. While the writing is not of stellar quality it does keep your attention and flows fairly simply.

 

Steele, Philip, Kingfisher knowledge wonders of the world, Kingfisher, Boston, 2007, 63 pgs., index, $12.95, ISBN;0753459795, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This book contains wonders of the world that man has built. From the Taj Mahal to the pyramids of Egypt this books presents color photos and information that will catch the reader’s interest. While this work catches the reader’s interest you will have to go else where for more in depth information.

 

Weastherford, Carole, Jesse Owens fastest man alive, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, Walker & Company, New York, 2007, unp, $17.85, ISBN:080279551X, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 9,

Jesse Owens in 1936 won four gold medals in the Berlin Olympics and became one of the world’s best known athletes. In this book the legend is again represented with pastel pictures that without words would still demonstrate Owens remarkable abilities. The book deals mainly with the four races that Owen ran during the Olympics. It also deals with Hitler who felt that the white, Aryan, race was more superior and how by Jesse Owens wins this theory was proven wrong. Weastherford writes in prose to carry the reader through Owens triumphs.

 

Book Reviews N.B. Oceanlake Teacher 2007

Cowell, Cressida; and Neal Layton. That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, Hyperion, New York; 2006. 29 pages, $16.99 price, ISBN 142310645-8 Grade: k-2. Popularity: 9 Quality 10 This is a great book that deals with problem solving with words and appropriate actions. It demonstrates how a child can work through a problem by a many pronged approach. The theme is a relatable topic to the students, drawings are wild and imaginative enough to draw the interest of the students and hold it.

 

Anderson, Peggy Perry, Joe on the Go. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, New York; 2007. 32 pages, price $16.00, ISBN 10:0=618-77331-2 Grade k-2 P: 9 Q:10 Joe Frog wants to play with anyone at a family reunion, but no one will, they find many things wrong with him, and thereby making Joe sad. Finally finds someone who will play with him. This is a great book for an open dialogue about how people are different, but they can still do things other people are able to do. A social lesson can be done on this subject about how to treat people, is it ok to say NO to people just because they are different, etc. It is also a great way to get kids to think outside the box and how others might feel if this was done to them.

 

Standler, John; Big and Little. Random House Inc., New York; 2007. 30 pages, price $9.99, ISBN 10: 978-0-375-84175-0 Grade: k-1, P: 10, Q: 10 This is a great book, kids love movement and anything that they are able to manipulate while engrossed with reading. For a teacher, they can use it as a teaching tool on how to predict, as the story revolves wholly on what will happen next excitement wise. Will the elephant standing atop a very tall ladder, be able to jump into a single glass of water and fit. Before each action takes place the teacher can preempt the students by asking “what will happen next,” and the flip the paper for them to see.

 

McMullan, Katie and Jim; I’m Dirty. HarperCollins Publishers, USA; 2007. 34 pages, price $16.99, ISBN 10: 0-06-009293-9 Grade k-1, P10, Q10. A backhoe is having fun as he describes all the things he hauls, how he hauls them, all the while getting messy. This is a great book for descriptive words. The sounds that are made, the counting, etc the book can be used by a teacher to use as a teaching tool to talk about sounds,

 

First Thursday Book Reviews October 2007 J.C. Library Cataloger

 

Picturebooks

Bean, Jonathan. At night. Farrar Strau Giroux, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780374304461 / 0374304467 $15.00 Ages 3-6, adult. P7Q8

A family goes to bed, but one girl cannot go to sleep. When a mild summer breeze flows in , she follows it up the stairs to the roof. This first book written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean combines realistic pictures of the family members with a nighttime cityscape very effectively. Highly recommended for preschool and public libraries.

 

Cole, Brock. Good enough to eat. Farrar Straus Giroux, c2007. [32] p. ; col. ill. ISBN 9780374327378 / 0374327378 $16.00 Ages 4-7. P7Q7

When an ogre threatens the town, the townspeople vote to give him a girl so poor that she doesn’t even have her own name. Through courage and cleverness, she conquers the ogre and claims her own fortune. Cole’s forte in illustration is showing the monstrous, and the smelly. He excelled in this one. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections.

 

Fleming, Denise. Beetle bop. Harcourt, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780152059361 $16.00 Ages 3-6. P7Q7

Beetles, lots of beetles, lots of really good beetles. According to the title page verso, “the illustrations were created by pouring colored cotton fiber through hand-cut stencils.” The resulting illustrations and simple rhyming text seems made for story times. Recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Mobin-Uddin, Asma. The best Eid ever. Illustrate by Laura Jacobsen. Boyds Mill Press, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9781590784310 / 1590784316 $16.95 Ages 4-7. P6Q7

Aneesa, a Muslim girl staying with her grandmother while her parents are on the Hajj pilgrimage, discovers two refugee girls who have neither new clothes nor food for Eid feast, the biggest holiday of the Muslim year. She comes up with a plan to share her gifts and persuades her grandmother to help make this the best Eid ever. The book will be a welcome addition to school and public library collections needing to develop collections on Muslim customs and holidays. However, the appealing illustrations are sometimes overpowered by the large amount of text. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Palatini, Margie. The cheese. Paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. “Katherine Tegen Books.” HarperCollins, 2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780060526313 $17.89 “Preschool-2.” P6Q7

In this take-off on the nursery song The Farmer in the Dell, the rat, hungry for cheese, questions why the cheese stands alone, and encourages everyone on the farm to enjoy a cheese-centered picnic. The intricate, though not realistic, illustrations will be best shared one-to-one and would not lend themselves well to story hours. Recommended for preschool and public libraries.

 

Pinkney, Jerry. Little Red Riding Hood. Little, Brown and Company, c2007. [34] p. : col. ill. ISBN 0316013552 / 9780316013550 $16.99 Ages 3-8. P7Q6

Pinkney’s beautiful illustrations of flora and fauna place this new rendition of Little Red Riding Hood somewhere in eastern North America, but the text does not significantly add to other retellings of the story. Recommended for art criticism collections and for libraries collecting multiple versions of fairy tales.

 

Weeks, Sarah. Counting ovejas. Art by David Diaz. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780689867507 / 0689867506 $17.99 Ages 2-5. P8Q8

At bedtime, a small child is crowded by sheep in rainbow hues and must use several strategies to move them out of the way before falling asleep. The bilingual Spanish-English text incorporates counting from one to ten as well as naming colors. The enchanting illustrations and simple story work well together. The child in the story is not named as either a boy or girl, making the story accessible to children of either gender. Highly recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Middle grade fiction

Gifford, Peggy. Moxy Maxwell does not love Stuart Little. Photographs by Valorie Fisher. Schwartz & Wade Books, c2007. 91 p. : ill. ISBN 9780375839153 $12.99 Ages 8-12. P7Q6

Moxy Maxwell’s summer reading assignment—due when fourth grade starts at the end of August (tomorrow)—is to read Stuart Little. The book has been with her all summer, in her backpack, on her lap, to the swimming pool, but not read. So, on the last day (when she really, really has to read the book), she finally Stuart Little’s wonderful world in a car with fabulous fenders. The angst and procrastination over a school assignment ring true. This book might be useful to a reluctant reader (or a rebellious one) as fodder for a book report.

 

Orr, Wendy. Mokie & Bik. Illustrations by Jonathan Bean. Henry Holt and Company, c2007. 72 p. : ill. ISBN 9780805079791 / 0805079793 $15.95 Ages 8-12. P7Q7

The twins, Mokie and Bik, live aboard a boat called Bullfrog, with their nanny Ruby who takes care of them while their mother is Arting and their father is on his ship-at-sea. Nine chapters take the brother and sister through adventures with Laddy the dog and a tortoise, eating ice cream bars, falling overboard, learning to swim, moppping decks. These are pleasant stories of children messing around in boats—what could be better?—and the pen and ink illustrations are well matched to the text. The text, however, includes semi-poetical bits and deliberate misspellings (fisk for fish, scotch-hop for hopscotch) which I found distracting. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections needing more titles at this reading level.

 

Young adult fiction

Dickinson, Peter. Angel Isle. Wendy Lamb Books, 2007. Advance reading copy, release date Oct. 9, 2007. 512 p. ISBN 9780385746908 (trade) $17.99 / 9780385909280 (library binding) $20.99 Ages 14 up. P7Q7

This sequel to the Printz honor book, The Ropemaker, continues the story of the aforementioned Ropemaker, now missing. Two girls—sisters—and a young man find themselves caught in a magician’s battle, using artifacts from the past to turn aside the power of an enclave of anonymous magicians who now rule the country. Since the Ropemaker, who has not been seen for the past two hundred years, is the only one who can stop the magicians, the three, along with a young renegade magician, two occasionally winged horses, and a sheepdog set out on a quest to locate him. Wonders abound, the conflict between individuality and enforced conformity is once again fought, and eventually, the world—while not right—can again be rebuilt. While it is possible to understand Angel Isle, the backstory from The Ropemaker is wanted to flesh out the story. Recommended for high school and public libraries to accompany The Ropemaker.

 

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the wild things. Alfred A. Knopf, c2007. 293 p. ISBN 9780375835254 $15.99 Ages 12 up. P8Q7

Sammy Keyes, city girl to the max, agrees to go on a summer camping trip to count condors—according to Sammy, the ugliest birds on the planet—when she finds out that the boy she’s interested in will also be camping in the area. But when the girls find an injured condor, Sammy finds herself in the middle of a mystery (as well as hot, sweaty, blistered, and lost). A worthy addition to the Sammy Keyes mystery series. Highly recommended for junior high, high school and public libraries.

 

November 2007 Reviews

 

First Thursday Book Review November 2007 D.G.H. Media Specialist

Marcus, Eric. What if Someone I Know is Gay?. Simon Pulse. 2007. 978-14169-4970-1. $8.99. P9 Q9

This is an updated and revised edition since the original was published in 2000, but retains it read friendly, question and answer format with anecdotes that amplify the author’s answers to common questions the reader might have. I especially appreciated the author’s tone, neutrality, and sensitivity to the questions asked and answered. This is an important aspect to keep a diverse audience reading on this important, but personal topic. I will be purchasing this one for our secondary schools.

 

McGowen, Anthony. Hellbent. Simon Pulse. 2006. 978-1-4169-0814-2. $8.99 P9 Q8

McGowen’s first book for young adults is a riotous trip through Hell. Literally. The protagonist and his mean dog Scrote are killed by an ice cream truck and taken to a updated British version of Dante’s Hell. The author really lays it out in terms of describing a myriad type of suffering and pain, but always does so with an irreverent tongue in check that young adults would appreciate. McGowen is obviously well read given the allegories, illusions, and references to some pretty heavy philosophies, but he can also take a page and a half describing a fart in a high school classroom which made me laugh out loud with tears rolling! At other times, after describing a war being waged between two territories in Hell, he is able to sum up the senselessness and brutality described with a twist on a famous phrase by saying,, “Hell is war”. Profound but simple is the appeal that kept me reading, as well as a desire to find out if he ever gets out and has a second chance at life. An interesting theme that sent him to Hell in the first place (besides lying three more times than his quota) was that he was a murderer! The author keeps that thread intact, but it is not until near the end that the protagonist reflects on the murder charge and has to agree with it. The incident was when a gay classmate confesses his attraction, but is humiliatingly rejected by our lead character. The rejected teen goes home and hangs himself. This is a powerful scene that I did not see coming, but one that really sticks the reader with the need to be responsible for our actions towards others. I liked the book, even though it is not for everyone, I think it would make a well read addition to our secondary schools.

 

Iweala, Uzodinma, Beasts Of No Nation, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005, 978-0-06-079867-3, $16.95, P7, Q7

Set in an un-named ,war-torn African country, a young boy witnesses the execution of his family and destruction of his village by guerilla insurgents. He is then rounded up with other young boys and is recruited into the guerilla band. Told in first person, broken English, the reader is taken on a journey into the life and mind of a boy who is first desensitized and then dehumanized to the horrors of war. We learn how youngsters can be molded into anything the commander desires: from killing machines to recepients of his sexual desires. The book is a graphic look at coming to age during war and the bleak lessons that are learned from the experience. I would put this on a high school shelf, but would not actively seek to purchase for all libraries because the storyline did not resonate like that of Kite Runner, Escape From Warsaw, The Book Thief, and other novels of growing up in war.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Books for Young Readers 

November 2007 by S.E. grandparent/volunteer

 

FICTION/FOLKLORE/POETRY

Raven, Nicky, Il John Howe. Beowulf. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Ma. 2007. $18.99. 69p. ISBN 978 0 7636 3647 0 Ages 11-18. This tale of a hero, Beowulf, has been told and retold for the one thousand years that it has been in existence. Had this version been available to me, I would have enjoyed this classis a lot more. The illustrator is the artist that did the pictures for Tolkein’s ring trilogy. It is wonderful in that it can be classified as poetry as well as folklore and has no rhythm or fancy concrete drawing to make the story. It is awesome in that it still stands after 1000 years, the oldest known English book. Q10 P10

 

Fiction

Petty, J.T. il David Michael Friend. The Scrivener Bees. Simon & Schuster books for young readers. NY. NY. 163p. $11.99. ISBN 1-4169-0769-6 Ages 10-15. This is the third in the Clemency Pogue series. It is a wonderful tale of adventure. Clemency has to save her father from the scrivener bees, the ones who, when they attack, tattoo the truth on a person’s body…they answer questions and the truth hurts. He has stolen the flowers the bees use in order to make up for his actions with his wife. During all of this, she also has to defeat the changeling who wants the Forgetting Book in order to control the goblins and hobgoblins. This is a very humorous book and well written and the illustrations will make this book popular with ages 10-15. Q9P9

 

Casely, Judith. The Kissing Diary. Frances Foster Books. Farrar, Straus and Gliroux. NY. 199p ISBN 0-374-36346-3. $16.00. Ages 12-15. Her divorced mother has a boyfriend and Rosie Goldglitt not only has problems dealing with her name but also with the emotions her mom is going through as well. Rosie is also going through that period of growing where she fantasizes kissing Robbie, a boy who proves to be the wrong boy for her. The journal that her dad gave her when he left, which she has called her kissing diary, has yet to be filled with names of the boys who have kissed her. It is a cute story about what is important in life. Q7P9.

 

Arnold, Ted. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy. Scholastic Cartwheel Books 2007, NY. ISBN 0-439-63906-4. Ages 5-6. One in a series of “Fly Guy” books. A pet fly, FLY GUY, kept by a boy named Buzz, goes visiting Grandma. When she runs up to hug him, she swallows Fly Guy and thus begins the age old story about an old lady who swallowed a fly and swallows a whole lot of things to catch what she swallows. The illustrations will attract kindergarten and first grade students to read the book. Q7P9

 

Dillon, Leo & Diane, Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose. $17.00 Harcourt Children’s Books Calif. 2007. 56p. Ages 5-7. ISBN 0152056769. this is a nicely illustrated book of numbers using Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. It uses rhyme to teach from 1-10. It is a good read aloud book for either the library or the classroom. Q7P8

 

Arrar’as, Maria Celeste, Il. Pablo Raimondi, The Magic Cane, Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. N.Y. 2007. ISBN 0-439-57419-6 $16.99. Ages 5-8. Puerto Rican, award winning journalist and bestselling author, Maria Celeste Arrara has been on the cover of Newsweek as one of the most powerful women on the rise and has been featured in the New York Times. It is a wonderful story of how love and respect conquers evil, however, the illustrations of the king were bothersome. I like the plot and I liked the moral and I liked the fact that Hispanic women are being highlighted for their artistic journalistic abilities. Q8P8

 

DePalma, Mary Newell, The Nutcracker Doll, Arthur A. Levine Books, a Scholastic Inc imprint. 2007 N.Y. ISBN 0-43980242-3. $16.99 Ages 5-6. This is a great read-aloud story about a young aspiring ballerina who see’s the Nutcracker and gets to talk with one of the older girls that was in it and she tells this young lady how, if she works hard and practices, she too can be in the Nutcracker and so she does. It is a good read aloud book and the illustrations are simple but nice. Q7P7

 

Non Fiction

Craig, Rebecca, Ecocrafts Gorgeous Gifts. Kingfisher, a Houghton Mifflin Co. imprint, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7534-5967-6. 47p Ages 8-17. $7.95. This book shows an artistic way to use recycled material found in every day trash. A few of the ideas I have used myself through my life. It is well illustrated and kids will find it fun to make things for their friends or folks. I think it would be especially popular around the holiday times. Q8P8

 

Gifford, Clive & Mason, Conrad & O’brien, Cynthia & Varley,Helen. Quiz Quest Kingfisher, a Houghton Mifflin Co. Ma. 2007. ISBN 9780753460788. $11.95. Ages 11-17. This is a wonderfully informative book that is more on a plane with an encyclopedia but more fun. In this quiz book are facts about Nature, i.e.: spiders, bees, deadly creatures, birds of prey etc., Geography, Science and Inventions including outer space, Gold, Caves, Climate, Tornadoes, the Senses, Cars Motorcycles and Art to name a few of the things covered. The questions are asked on the right of a page and the answers are found with the info on the next two pages. It is a fun book and it is filled with knowledge that all school age kids can use and written in such a way it can be used in middle school and high school. Q9P10

 

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW GROUP Nov. 1, 2007 CLR Siletz volunteer

Kochalka, James, Squirrelly Gray. Random House Children’s Books, 2007, $12.99, 978-0-375-83975-7, unpg., Grades K-2

I thought I was going to like this book, particularly when I opened the first page. It is illustrated with black and white and shades of gray and shows a typical drenching Oregon rain over what looks like an Oregon forest. The prose about the rain is good too. But from there, it is all downhill. It proceeds to tell an inane story about a very crudely drawn squirrel who wiggles his front teeth out because he is bored. He hopes to bring the tooth fairy to relieve his boredom. Here is where the story gets downright scary for little kids. The tooth fairy is stuck in a spider web, and she begs the squirrel to get her out before the spider comes back. The picture is disturbing. Then a hungry fox approaches and attempts to club the squirrel with a giant club. The squirrel ends up escaping, but the fox is unrepentant and “just as naughty as before.” I think this story will be upsetting to most small children and has nothing to recommend it.

The blurb on the jacket states that the author is a full-time cartoonist and rock star. I hope he is better at music than he is at writing and illustrating children’s books. P2 Q2

 

Dillon, Leo & Diane, Jazz on a Saturday Night. The Blue Sky Press, 2007, 16.99, 0-590-47893-1, unpg., Grades K-7

This is a beautiful book. The authors/illustrators are great fans of jazz, and their enthusiasm comes through. There are wonderful paintings of the audience and the jazz band members, mostly done in deep jewel tones of a darkened, intimate concert. The prose also serves as lyrics on the accompanying CD, which explains and demonstrates jazz. The CD also encourages the reader to listen to more examples of jazz and even try an instrument. This would be a great book to read to and play for a visiting class to the library, and it works on lots of age levels. The only criticism is that the plastic case inside the book literally disintegrated when I took the CD out for the first time. Oh well, maybe they need to be packaged separately for checking out, anyway! P3 Q 9

 

Hale, Bruce, Hiss Me Deadly: A Chet Gecko Mystery. Harcourt Children’s Books, 2007, $15.00, 978-0-15-205482-3, 144 p., Grades 3-6

Given that the reader knows what a private eye is, and maybe has even seen some old Humphrey Bogart movies, he/she will love the plot and style of this book. It is sprinkled with colorful comparisons (a spot tighter than a blue whale’s bikini and one desk was as spotless as a Teflon necktie) and clever names for the animal characters. (Anna Motta-Pia and two music teachers: Zoom’in Mayta and Gustave Mauler) There are knock-knock jokes and lots of bug and insect jokes (the main character is a gecko, after all) for the younger readers, and they will find descriptions like “scorpions on a shortcake” and “candied apple worms,” very entertaining. The tough guy in the story, a raccoon by the name of Johnny Ringo, has henchmen and they all talk like mobsters, which will resonate with the older readers. The cover looks like a mystery novel from the 1940’s and is attractive. P8 Q9

 

Nagda, Ann Whitehead, The Perfect Cat-Sitter. Holiday House Books, 2007, $15.95, 978-0-8234-2112-1, 104 p., Grades 3-6

Susan is a self-important little girl who gets a job as a cat-sitter while her friend is gone over the Christmas holidays. Various things go wrong every time she goes over to do her job. She starts to feel miserable that she can’t do the job perfectly. But no one is seriously hurt, although a friend suffers a broken arm from falling out of a tree while trying to get a string of lights off a deer’s antlers. This is a mildly interesting book and the illustrations are adequate. P4 Q5

 

Madison, Bennett, Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006, $10.99, 1-59514-086-7, 201 p., Grades 9-12

At first I thought this book would be in the tradition of Angus, Thongs & Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. It seemed to be about a modern teen girl and her friend problems, mother problems, friend’s mother problems and so forth. But the deeper I got into the book, it hit me. This girl is the new Nancy Drew—-a Nancy who rides the subway, has a cell phone that tends to ring at the most dangerous and suspenseful times, jumps on a Vespa and chases after an SUV full of kidnap victims. Lulu Dark is an engaging teen whose movie star mom has been noticeably absent from her life. Lulu spends a lot of time reflecting on her relationship with her mother while thinking some pretty wise thoughts: “At a certain point, a grown-ass lady needs to get over it and remember that she has responsibilities—most of all to her child, but not least of all to herself.” Not a very Nancy-Drew-kind-of-thing to think, but Lulu Dark is a lot more interesting than Nancy Drew.

There are lots of colorful character descriptions and exciting action in this book, set in a fictional town with a beach, boardwalk, an old warehouse with a trapdoor, and an island with an abandoned mental hospital. Young readers are going to be totally engrossed in this lighthearted mystery. P8 Q9

 

Schumacher, Julie, The Book of One Hundred Truths. Delacorte Press, 2006, $15.95, 0-385-73290-2, 182 p., Grades 6-12

Thea Grumman visits her grandparent’s house on the Jersey shore just like she does every summer. But this year, her mother gives her a diary and instructs her to write four truths in it every day. It seems like an odd request, but very gradually, the reader comes, through the writings in the diary, to understand why Thea continually lies to people and has a tendency to be a crabby, uncooperative adolescent. Thea is expected to babysit her seven year old cousin during the afternoons, and the cousin has problems of her own. But the time they spend together ends up healing both of them. The main characters in the book are not really very likable until the end of the book, but the reader is drawn into the story and eventually it becomes apparent that a mystery is going to be revealed. It is written well and very age-appropriate. I would not hesitate to recommend it to a young teen. P7 Q 8

 

November Reviews by Oceanlake Teacher N.B.

Stein, Mathilde; Mine!. Lemniscaat; Honesdale, Pennsylvania; 2006. 36 pages, price $16.95, ISBN-10: 1-59078-506-1 Grade 1-3, Popularity 7, Quality 7 This book is about a ghost who invades a little girl’s life; whatever he sees, he always exclaims “MINE!” The little girl tries desperately to teach the ghost that not everything that is around him is automatically his, but that he needs to share. In the end she teaches him how to share and play with others, and he learns his lesson. This would be a great book to bring up social issues with kids on how to we solve problems, how could this have been done differently, and for those who have a hard time making friends a guide or ideas on how to make friends.

 

Henkes, Kevin; A Good Day. Greenwillows Books; USA, 2007. 23 pages, price $16.99, ISBN-10: 0-06-114018-X Grade K-1, Popularity 7, Quality 8 This is a book that covers how a bad day turns into a good day for some people around a forest community. It uses very descriptive language that will expose the students to rich language. As a prompt it is a good way to introduce a beginning, middle and end concept to the students; as it is short but yet demonstrates this concept very quickly.

 

Cate La Blanc, Annete; The Magic Rabbit. Candlewick Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2007. 28 pages, price $15.99, ISBN-10: 978-0-7636-2672-3 Grade3-4, Popularity 8, Quality 8 For a book about a rabbit and a man who are very good friends. They rely on one another to make a living, get fed, be happy, and have someone to interact with. One day out while performing their magic act, the rabbit gets lost. This is the bunny’s

journey to find his master and by chance he comes across some stars that lead him to be reunited with his master. Could be used to talk about descriptive language.

 

Cooper, Helen; Delicious!. Farrar Straus Giroux; New York, New York. 2007. 31 pages, price $16.00, ISBN-10: 0-374-31756-9 Grade 1-3, Popularity 7, Quality 9 Duck, Squarriel, and Cat all live together and everyday they make pumpkin soup. Yet they are tired of the same old same old. As a group they choose to dust off their cook book and try different soups. Cat and Squirrel are very happy and like the new food, but Duck won’t even try it, because it doesn’t look like what he is used to. Finally they are able to solve the problem. Great way to get kids to think about trying new foods, going beyond just the same thing, being opened minded, etc.

 

Montenegro, Laura Nyman; A Poet’s Bird Garden. Farrar Straus Giroux; New York, New York. 2007 28 pages, price $16.00, ISBN-10: 0-374-360838-3 Grade 1-3, Popularity 6-7, Quality 7 Natalie opens the door to her bird cage, and accidentally releases her pet bird. She runs home tells her Mom, who calls all her friends to come help, they try everything to get the bird to come down. Nothing seems to work, finally one man hits on the idea to make the garden more attractive to the birds. When that happens, the bird will want to come down to the ground. As a community they work to make a very barren and not pretty garden into a place that attracts many birds and becomes a gathering place for the people of the area. Would be a great book to use for an introduction to conservation, community beautification, science with what attracts birds, etc.

 

First Thursday Book Reviews November 2007 J.C. Cataloger

 

Picturebooks 

Broach, Elise. When dinosaurs came with everything. Illustrated by David Small. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2007. 1 v. ; col. ill. ISBN 978-0-689-86922-8 / 0-689-86922-3 $16.99 Ages 3-7, adult. P8Q8

A little boy faced with the usual boring Friday errands is delighted when all the merchants in town give away a dinosaur with every purchase—including the doctor’s office and the bakery. His mother is not pleased with the promotion. Until, that is, she discovers the talents of the various dinosaurs and puts them to work. The fresh, slightly off-center story is aptly accompanied by Small’s spare illustrations and the dinosaurs are spot on. Highly recommended for any collection needing a fresh infusion of humor, especially for pre-school, elementary and public library collections.

 

Middle grade fiction 

Bauer, A.C.E. No castles here. Random House, c2007. 270 p. ISBN 978-0-375-83921-4 $15.99 Ages 12 up. P7Q8

Augie Boretsky, a poor kid from New Jersey, inadvertently steals a book of fairy tales from a funky bookstore in Philadelphia and is assigned a white, gay Big Brother. As he reads the fairy tales, his strategy of avoiding the bullies and gang members in his school and neighborhood fails. Yet, when an ice storm damages his school, Augie is the catalyst who pulls the neighborhood together and pushes the school board to repair the building instead of busing the students to schools outside the area. I enjoyed the framed fairy tales which carried lessons on courage and fidelity to Augie’s life. Highly recommended for large urban middle, high, and public school collections.

 

Young adult fiction

Fullerton, Alma. In the garage. Red Deer Press, 2007, c2006. 181 p. ISBN 0-88995-371-6 / 978-0-88995-371-0 $10.95 Ages ? P6Q7 BJ’s best friend, Alex, has died. Told between her approach to give his eulogy and her entrance to the church, BJ narrates events from her life as an overweight, ugly girl with a port wine birthmark, including child abuse, maternal abandonment, and ongoing abuse from her classmates. Rescued from a pair of bullies by Alex Fitzgerald, BJ and Alex become best friends. Though perceived as the perfect scholar-athlete (and member of a garage band), Alex too has secrets, and his poetry stands in counterpoint to BJ’s narrative. At the prompting of two popular girls, BJ betrays Alex by stealing his journal, which results in his outing as gay. BJ’s mental breakdown and hospitalization, and the scene of Alex’s murder by a homophobic ex-band member complete the downward spiral. Although the book is well written, the subject matter is rather depressing, with the unwritten message that anyone who is different—in appearance or in sexual orientation—will be destroyed and that “normal” teenagers are vicious. Not recommended for anyone who is not currently under the care of a good mental health counselor. Especially not recommended for gay teenagers.

 

Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. The shadow speaker. “Jump at the sun.” Hyperion, c2007. 336 p. ISBN 978-142310033-1 / 142310033-6 $16.99 Ages 12 up. P7Q8 A fantasy quest of a fourteen-year old West African girl whose father instituted a sex-based hierarchy (which lead to his public beheading). Ejii undertakes the dangerous journey to learn to use the powers of shadow speaking, which may be the only hope of saving her tribe from annihilation. A particularly well crafted work in an unusual setting. Recommended for junior high, high school, and public libraries.

 

November Book Reviews

 

B.J., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $17.99 ISBN: 1-4169-1428-5 485 p. Gr. 8-adult Clary Fray goes to a club called Pandemonium. That club is aptly named for what happens next. Clary and Simon (her friend) were dancing when they notice a boy leading a girl into a closet/back room This isn’t unusual, but when two people follow them, it piques Clary’s interest. The weirdest thing, though, is that Simon cannot see any of them. When the boy they saw is killed in the closet/back room, he disappears. It turns out he was a demon, and the three others are shadow hunters. They are puzzled at how Clary can see them. She has the “sight,” but why? She isn’t related to any shadow hunters. Or is she? This book was easy to read and it is fantasy, but a believable fantasy like Harry Potter. I am waiting for the second in the series as impatiently as I waited for the 7th Harry Potter! P 7.5 Q 10

 

Black, Holly. Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. ISBN: 184738062X 336 p. Gr. 8-adult Kaye is a changling (a faery who has replaced a human child.) When she visits the unseelie Court (the court of the bad faeries) she declares herself to the king. Only when she can find a faery who can lie can she see the king again. When she tells her mother she is a changling, her mother freaks and Kaye returns to the realm of the fairy. When she gets to the realm she gets roped into court politics. The queen of the Seelie Court wants to overthrow the King of the Unseelie Court. If Kaye can solver her quest (which is impossible, or so it seems) she can tell the King the evil plans of the Seelie Court. This book would be a bit confusing to read if you didn’t know much about the faeries, but it is a believable fantasy. P6 Q 8

 

November Book Reviews C.N., NHS Student Reviewer Fiction Selections

Benz, Derek & J.S. Lewis. The Rise of the Black Wolf. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $12.99 ISBN: 0-439-83774-X 310 p. Gr. 5-8 The four kids of the Grey Griffin go to a castle for Christmas, which turns out to be a trap. They must escape and save their dad! I think the plot is a scream for more; a nice start. I see the tiniest details of the characters in my mind as I read the book’s pages. I thought that the characters were so great and funny. The book is very well organized. The book should be shared; I loved it and couldn’t stop reading it. The book is a blast of good and dark scenes and a reading rollercoaster of excitement. P7 Q10

 

Schooley, Bob & Mark McCorkle. Liar of Kudzu. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 1-4169-1488-9 183 p. Gr. 4-6 In the Super Weird town of Kudzu a U.F.O. crash lands and is discovered by a boy everyone calls Liar. It’s a sweet & sour, funny & just cool book. P 10 Q 10

 

Lucas, D.J. Bravo, Max! Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 1-4169-0393-3 159 p. Gr. 4-6 This book is a conversation between a fan and an author, pen pals who share their lives over time and distance. It’s a funny book that’s easy to relate to. P7 Q10

 

November Book Reviews K.C., NHS Student

 

Fiction Selections

Frederick, Heather Vogel. The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 0-689-86412-4 245 p. Gr. 6-10 In this book there are four girls: Jess, Emma, Cassidy, and Megan. Their mothers come up with the idea of a mother-daughter book club, and, although the girls don’t want to, the mothers arrange meetings once a week. They read Little Women and the four girls find that they resemble the characters in the story (though they all wish they were like Jo.) In the year that follows the girls grow up with Little Women’s help and navigate the troubles of Moms, boys, and the fab four. All the girls are very believable: Jess is shy, Emma is self-conscious, Cassidy is a bit of a jock, and Megan wants to be popular. They have real problems and deal with them in real ways (over-reacting, under-reacting) and not everything is perfect in the end. P8.5 Q10

 

Allison, Jennifer. Gilda Joyce: the Ladies of the Lake. Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2006. $15.99. ISBN: 0-525-47693-8 339 p. Gr. 7-10 Gilda Joyce is a psychic investigator who loves all things different. Gilda goes to the Catholic girls’ school “Our Lady of Sorrows” to find out more about a student who drowned there. She struggles to cope with high school, her mom dating, and the angry ghost who seems to be haunting the school. Gilda is an awesome character and this book is a great mystery. I love books where clues keep adding up and then you finally realize what happened. This book is believable and easy to read. P8.5 Q10

 

November Book Reviews M.J., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Carman, Patrick. The Tenth City (Land of Elyon Books). Scholastic, New York, 2006. $11.99 ISBN: 0-439-70095-7 186 p. Gr. 8-12 This is the third installment of Patrick Carmans’s trilogy “Land of Elyon.” The story follows Alexa Daley, an independent and strong-willed 13 year old who has had the fate of her world resting on her shoulders. It has that cliché genre of someone with a magical item fighting off an unknown evil. However, this book brings a new twist and refreshing ideas to this overused topic. Alexa isn’t magical, just the stone called a Jostica is. It allows Alexa to talk to animals and hear the voice of the creator of the land, Elyon. This book would be great on its own, but it makes more sense and the reader can make closer connections to the story and characters if the other two books were read first. I have only read book 1 and found myself asking a lot of questions about this book. This book is written in a very descriptive and lighthearted way. I really enjoyed the author’s style because he writes with a sophisticated and advanced vocabulary, but it was easy to follow and understandable. P9 Q10

 

Garcia, Laura Gallego. The Valley of the Wolves. Arthur A. Levine, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0439585538 336 p. Gr. 9-adult She was the only one who could see him. At first she thought she was crazy and that he was a figment of her imagination, but when a stranger with a long silver beard finds her, Dana knows that he could also see or at least feel Kai’s presence. At the age of 10 Dana was taken from her home to live in a tower and learn something not many had the opportunity to learn. She would become a sorceress. Along with a suave, silent elf and a spunky, embittered dwarf, Dana finds that the tower she is in holds more secrets than she ever thought possible. Along with the secrets, Dana’s relationship with Kai becomes more than friendship, and what he is is slowly revealed. The Valley of the Wolves holds many secrets and hundreds of them have yellow eyes, sharp teeth, and slashing claws and a purpose for vengeance. Dana must learn to overcome her fear of the unknown and embrace change. If not, everything she knows and holds close will disappear forever. The writing style is very likeable and understandable. Garcia writes in a way that appears to be 3rd person, but with the main character (Dana) as the narrator. This doesn’t distract, but adds an invisible, magical quality to the writing. P9 Q10

 

Felin, M. Sindy. Touching Snow. Antheneum, New York, 2007. $16.99. ISBN: 1416917950 240 p. Gr. 9-adult Touching Snow follows Karina (age 13) and her family and their struggle to fit into the American society after moving from Haiti. Karina’s father (who she always refers to as “the daddy”) abuses her and her 12 brothers and sisters. Being too poor to debate where the money comes from, Karina’s mother does nothing about it. Being too scared to report this abuse, Karina and her sisters and brothers never say anything about it to the police. Karina is very determined to get the life she deserves in America and perseveres to the very end to accomplish her dream. Touching Snow provides an inside look to the human soul and how it learns to cope with disaster. Even in the darkest of times, a human soul can hope, sprout wings, and take flight. The writing flowed really well and there wasn’t a time when I didn’t understand what was happening. There were also many times when the characters’ native language was used, but it only added to the realism of the book. This book may offend some people who do not feel comfortable reading about abuse, drugs, alcohol, fowl language, homosexuality, and other sexual content. P8 Q9

 

November Book Reviews T.P., NHS Student

 

Fiction Selections

Robinson, Sharon. Slam Dunk. Scholastic Press, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 0-439-67199-X 151 p. Gr. 6-8 I thought that it was good organization because they had

a good beginning, middle, and end. The story centers around a kid named Jumper and wha the does in basketball games. There were two main characters: Jumper and his friend, Kevin. The plot and contents were pretty good, too. However, I gave this book a low rating because it caught my attention only towards the end. P7 Q6

 

Wallace, Rich. Takedown. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2006. $14.99 ISBN: 0-670-06096-8 118 p. Gr. 6-8 The plot and contents of this book were pretty good but the organization was not that well thought out, I think. The point of view was effective in telling the reader about wrestling. The characters were good, especially Donald. I don’t think this book will be popular with kids who aren’t into wrestling, though. P5 Q6

 

Barber, Tiki and Ronde Barber. Teammates. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $14.95 ISBN978-1-4069-2489-0 pp. Gr. 1-3 Tiki was the running back for his team and he fumbles the ball a lot. His coach teaches him how to hold on to the football and the fumbling stops. Then Tiki and his team start to win football games. P5 Q6

 

November Book Reviews L.F., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon/ Buenas Noches, Luna: A Counting Book/Un libro para contar. Illustrated by Clement Hurd. HarperCollins, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-117325-7 np. Gr.PreK-adult This edition of the timeless classic is a side-by-side English/Spanish treatment of the counting book version of Goodnight Moon. Fortunately, no one tampered with the original text or illustrations of this exquisite little book. Great read aloud for classrooms, a fun one to explore in Spanish language classes. P6 Q10

 

Edens, Cooper, Compiler. Sea Stories: A Classic Illustrated Edition. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2007. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-8118-5634-8 145 p. Gr. 4-8 This is a lively collection of stories, songs, and poems about the sea. Edens has included excerpts and classic illustrations from his own “largest collection of vintage picture books in the world,” from “Jason and the Argonauts” to “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Truly, there’s something here for everyone. My only complaint is that there’s no author/origin listed for several of the selections, though it appears that these have been taken from previously published works. P5 Q9

 

Dunrea, Olivier. Hanne’s Quest. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-399-24216-3 95 p. Gr. 3-8 This is one little hen’s “Odyssey,” a charming story of poultry angst and ecstasy, sparingly illustrated with the author’s simplistic, but rich gouaches. It’s a fairly basic plot: “hen lays golden egg that saves farm from tax foreclosure” but is written in dramatic and lyrical style that is thoroughly engaging. Though it could hardly be called a picture book, the story is simple enough to make this a good read-aloud for younger children. The tale has several unpredictable twists that keep it interesting for older children, as well. P6 Q10

 

Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish.. $16.99 ISBN: 1-4169-4235-1 294 p. Gr. 9-12 This funky little book is about a teen who is struggling with gender dysphoria. By the end of the book, Angie is accepted as transgendered Grady, solves two long-standing family issues, and is accepted by the most popular kids at school. Despite the Pollyanna ending, the book is entertaining, if not deep. It manages to touch on several issues that are rarely dealt with in young adult literature. One of the things I really loved about this book is that the protagonist discovers that sexuality is truly a spectrum thing, i.e., that people are all shades of genders. The dialog passages are distracting and the first person writing is tiresome, but it’s a worthy addition to any high school library. Includes website, support group, etc. information in the back of the book that teens might find helpful. P5 Q7

 

St. James, James. Freak Show. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2007. $18.99 ISBN:978-0-525-47799-0 298 p. Gr. 10-12 This is one of those books that is just plain weird, but it’s so funny and well-written that it’s hardly a turn off (that is, if you can accept the protagonist being a “glitteroid.”) High school drag queen Billy Bloom moves from a liberal Connecticut school to a bible-belting, homo-beating Florida academy. His sarcastic first-person narrative is fast-paced, yet rich with details. Billy stubbornly remains optimistic and true to himself, and even though he faces bullying and beating at school, he manages to win many friends. Along the way, he runs for Homecoming Queen, falls in love with a star football player, and becomes the poster boy-er-queen for all kids who feel like freaks sometime. Yes, there’s a lot of bawdy humor, obscenities, and sexual innuendo in this book, but it’s a tome that should be in all young adult libraries. P6 Q8

 

Non-Fiction Selections

Enright, Dominique and Guy MacDonald. The Boys’ Book; How to be the best at Everything. Illustrated by Nikalas Catlow (ISBN: 0-545-01628-2) AND Foster, Juliana. The Girls’ Book: How to be the best at Everything. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $9.99 each (ISBN: 0-545-01629-0) 118 p. Gr. 3-6 Designed to look like the circa 1880’s American Boys’ Handy Book , these little books are the sort that well-intentioned, childless adults buy for i-pod toting adolescents, thinking somehow the activities will help “get the kids off the electronics.” Both books are a waste of money and shelf space, filled with superficial and mostly stupid activities that alternate between benign and inane. Two examples: the Boys’ Book has “how to tear a phone book in half” and the Girls’ Book has “how to pet a wild horse.” More appalling are the differences between the two books: predictably, the boys get to do active, “important” things, while the girls make bubblebaths, pompoms, and learn how to do other mundane tasks. P5 Q4

 

Reber, Deborah. In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $12.99 ISBN: 1-4169-2578 411 p. Gr. 8-12 This nicely-organized and meticulously presented book has only one fault: the

title might turn off any young men who would find it very helpful in choosing careers. Beyond that, it’s a fabulous guide to nearly 50 interesting careers, ranging from Sheriff to Actionist (huh?) Reber interviewed women, found out why they were attracted to their careers, what sort of education/certification they needed, and what sort of advice they would give to others who were interested in knowing more. Interviews are grouped into several sections, and between each section is a “lunch break” discussion that deals with topics ranging from goal setting to stress relief. In the back of the book is a helpful “career chooser” that give readers choices to help them narrow down what they want from their careers. The writing style is lively and engaging; even kids who might not be all that motivated to do career research will find this handy guide fun to read and inspiring. P6 Q9

 

Books Reviews for Nov. 2007

 

A.G.

Carman, Patrick. CD recording, read by Jonathan Davis. Atherton: The House of Power. NY: Hachette Book Gp, Hachette Audio, 2007. $29.98 7 discs, 8 hours playing time. Ages 8 up. ISBN 1-59483-922-2 P7/Q6

This science fiction story posits an artificially-made satellite of a corrupted Earth that has been populated by memory-blanked people living in a stratified society. The protagonist is a young boy who feels compelled to climb a forbidden cliff in search of something he doesn’t remember but knows is important. The crisis comes with the geological changes the artificial planet is suddenly undergoing and the social changes it brings. The characters are nicely drawn and the story includes exciting adventures, but the end is rather unsatisfying and I was left wondering if the author intended it to be the first of perhaps a trilogy. The author is an Oregon native.

 

Bruchac, Joseph. Illus. by Sally Wern Comport. Bearwalker. NY: Harper Collins, 2007. $16.89 208 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 978-0-06-112311-5 P7/Q7

Bruchac here returns to his “scary story” series. Like the others in the series, this is a modern-day story that draws on some Indian themes as well as modern scary stories. Bearwalker features an eighth grade boy of Mohawk descent, the son of two military people. He’s new to the school and, as the shortest kid, he’s bullied. When the class goes to Camp Chuckamuck (the hero points out it’s a made-up Indian-sounding name), they are in for more than they counted on, and scary movies featuring “Jason” come to mind. The book is not only a scary story, but also focuses on the character development of Baron, his identification with his Indian heritage and the theme of the bear. . Bruchac treats the Indian themes with sensitivity to modern Indian kids and how they feel when made the “token Indian”. It’s short enough to read aloud to a class, and has the added interest of being about a school group. Though it’s not in the category of great literature, it certainly brings forward the development of traditional Indian stories, and is entertaining reading that is head and shoulders above the Goosebumps fare.

 

Strasser, Todd. Boot Camp. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. $15.99 235 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-0848-X P6/Q6

When his parents unexpectedly send 15-year-old Garrett to boot camp, none of them expected the severe treatment he’d get. This book explores the brutality and meanness of a certain kind of adolescent residential “treatment” center, which although extreme may be all too accurate. Despite the harsh treatment, Garrett maintains his humanity as long as he can. By the end, though, it appears that the brainwashing has taken hold. The book seems more aimed at adults who might be able to stop this trend, or at least who could re-examine their rationale for sending kids there. Any kid who reads it will definitely run away from home (and should) before going to a boot camp. The book should prompt discussion about the corrections system.

 

Holtz, Thomas. Illus. by Luis Rey. Dinosaurs. NY: Random House, 2007. $34.99 432 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-375-92419-4 (lib. Bdg.) P9/Q9

There are many, many books on dinosaurs for that predictable age of 3-6 years old. There are few for the better reader who finds paleontology interesting and wants to know more than a lot of Latin names. This book focuses on the “true” dinosaurs: the most recent common ancestor of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus and their descendants (which means that it covers birds, though only the older more primitive species and how they relate to modern birds). That rules out pterodactyls and plesiosaurs, but the book won’t disappoint fans of those animals as several early chapters cover aspects relevant to them, too; fossilization, geologic time, taxonomy, even accuracy of dinosaur art. The middle chapters are organized by genus and speak to their commonalities, their world distribution, and their adaptations.

One of the strongest aspects of this book is that it is written by a paleontologist, and includes many one-page essays by a variety of other paleontologists (accompanied by their photograph and where they work) who speak from their own research. The writing style is much more readable than the encyclopedic scope might indicate, and is sprinkled with exclamation points (first time I’ve ever seen an exclamation mark in a scientific table!) The book will resist becoming dated because it takes the approach of “how we know what we know and what we don’t know”. Students interested in the field of paleontology will become familiar with investigation techniques and the excitement of discovery, as well as the fine points of taxonomy, without feeling like they are reading a textbook. The artwork is wonderful, illustrating both comparative anatomy and imaginative scenes from dinosaur life.

 

Fleming, Candace. The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. NY: Scwartz & Wade, 2007. $15.99 186 pp. ages 7 to 10 ISBN 978-0-375-83672-5 P7/Q7

There’s a class of students that has a terrible reputation for being hard to handle, and they’ve just moved up to fourth grade. No one wants to teach them until an odd new teacher turns up: Mr. Jupiter. With his oddball interests, exhaustive background of experiences, sense of humor and easy relating to the students, he soon has them working hard learning everything from schoolwork to life lessons. The chapters are fairly short and each one frames a certain child with their particular challenges, from the

boy who is always teased to the girl who talks so quietly no one can hear her. Each chapter ends in a “moral of the story” a’ la Aesop’s fables. It could make a fun read-aloud book for a third to fifth grade class.

 

Borden, Louis. Illus. by Adam Gustavson. The John Hancock Club. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. $16.99 36 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-1813-4 P5/Q5

This is a kind of sweet book about a boy with doubts about his ability to do well in school. Starting the third grade, he’s worried he won’t be able to keep up with his class in learning to write in cursive. The story sets up a goal he wants (to be able to take care of the class pet) and his teacher’s incentive game which hinges around John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Indepencence. There’s a few facts about Hancock, but mostly the story is about Sean’s progress. The book might make a fun read-aloud to introduce a class to cursive.

 

Hautman, Pete. Rash. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 240 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-689-86801-4 P7/Q7

This science fiction recalls Orwell’s 1984 in its foretelling of a big-brother-type state in the future. Rather than building on the fascist trends of the 1940’s, though, this story builds on the over-protective trends of the 2000’s. Football and beer are banned and Measure 11 crimes include verbal put-downs of other people. You have to wear a helmet to go walking, and running track is so weighty with protective gear and super-soft track surface that no one can run the times of the past. The hero is a reasonable boy who has inherited a bit of a temper from his father. The rash the title alludes to is an artifact of the sheep-like fear of his school full of hypochondriacs. All in his family but his mother and grandfather are serving prison time, and it’s not long before he, too, is sent up to do hard labor for a private corrections contract company, McDonald’s. In prison he gets to do things “the old-fashioned way”, without calming drugs or protective gear, and becomes a football star. This story is all too eerily true even today, and should make people think about the potential disadvantages of suppressing the male drive and risk-taking.

 

Olsen, Sylvia. Illus. by Joan Larson. Yetsa’s Sweater. Winlaw, BC, Canada: Sono Nis Press, 2006. $17.95 34 pp. ages 6-10 ISBN 1-55039-155-0 P6/Q7

Cowichan Indian sweaters were a mainstay of my family living in the Pacific Northwest; they are warm, durable and work well in the rainy weather. As this book points out, they aren’t as often seen as they used to be, but to my thinking they are still better than any polar fleece jacket. The hand-knitted sweaters made from the various natural colors of gray, brown, black and white wools are made by the Native people of Vancouver Island. This book, with its beautiful illustrations, portrays a young Native girl helping her grandmother prepare the wool to make the sweaters. It’s valuable as a preserver of Native heritage, as well as a pleasant story about a girl.

 

Alexei, Sherman. Illus. by Ellen Forney. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $16.99 230 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-316-01368-4 P9/Q9

Of all the many boy-coming-of-age novels I’ve read in the past few years, this has to be my favorite. Alexei has written great books for adults; this is his first offering for the younger reader. The story is about a freshman Spokane Indian boy who is an odd-ball. Hydrocephalic at birth and still small in stature, he is very intelligent but never the popular kid and is constantly beat up by the other boys on the reservation. After getting advice from a teacher he accidentally hits with a school book (he’s furious because it is so old his mother’s name is on the inside cover), the hero, Baron, decides to go to an all-white off-reservation school where he is perhaps more likely to succeed and eventually leave the poor reservation life. Any rural student will recognize the themes of poverty, bullying, small schools, and the hopes that sports hold. The illustrations, intended to look like Baron’s cartooning genius, are wonderful. They capture perfectly the kind of drawings produced by a talented kid of that age. Better, they make very funny satirical statements about modern Indian life. The story’s language is perhaps a bit too street-smart to be read aloud to many classes, but is not as extreme as many urban rap lyrics. Certainly the themes are tame enough for nearly any student age 8 and up. Indian students, especially boys who are reluctant readers, will have great fun with this one.

 

December 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers December 2007 Reviews by S.E.

 

Fiction

Wolf, Allan. Zane’s Trace. Candlewick Press, Ma. 2002. ISBN 0763628581. $16.99. 177p. Ages 15-18. This is a somewhat factual account of a disturbed young man who has a disease called Geschwind Syndrome that includes seizures and hypergraphia, an overwhelming urge to write and write a lot. It is also called the “midnight disease” His purpose and goal is to reach Zanesville in his dead father’s Plymouth Barracuda to kill himself on his mother’s gravesite. He writes on his walls in indelible ink describing his imprisionment, ie: his mind. His encounter with a young hitchhiker seems to help himself discover new things about himself but she is as troubled as he is. He has stolen his brother’s credit card and uses it which enables his brother to find Zane in time to save him. Q6P6

 

Fiction/Poetry

Hopkins, Ellen. Glass. Margaret K McElderry Books Ny, an imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing Division. 2007. ISBN 141694090. $16.00. 680p. Ages 15-18. This is a very long and drawn out story of a young lady who gets hooked on smoking crank. It is way too long with absolutely no redemption at the end. I wasn’t impressed. Q5P4

 

Fiction/folk stories

Hamilton, Virginia. Il. Leo and Diane Dillon. The People Could Fly. Alfred A Knoph, an imprint of Random House Inc. NY. 2007 ISBN 978037592405-7. $17.99. Ages 6-10. This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a story of a group of slaves who call upon African Magic to transport them away from their suffering as slaves and allows them to fly away. A Coretta Scott King award. Text copywrite 1985. Q9P8

 

Fiction

Stein, David Ezra, Monster Hug. GP Putnam’s sons, a division of The Penguin Group. NY 2007. ISBN 9780399246371. $15.99. ages 5-6. Two monsters from different backgrounds come together for a day of fun until their parents call them home for the evening. The drawings are primitive and it has very few words but my youngest grandson calls it one of his favorite books so who am I to say it wont be popular? Q7P9

 

Roberts Bethany, Il. Vladimir Vagin, Cookie Angel. Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007. ISBN 0805069747. $16.99. Ages 5-8. It is Christmas eve and the Carroll family make their special cookie angel who comes to life after the family has gone to bed. All the toys under the tree come to life and all misbehave and it is up to the cookie angel to calm them all down. It is a nice Christmas Eve read aloud book. Q8P8

 

McDonnell, Patrick, Hug Time. Little Brown and Co. NY 2007. $14.99. ISBN 0316114944. this is a very sweet story about a kitten who wants to hug everybody and makes a “hugs to do list” and travels the world hugging everything on his list. It is a sweet story and will be popular among children ages 5-7. The illustrator is the creator of the comic strip “Mutts” Q8P8

 

Maass, Robert, Little Trucks With Big Jobs. Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007. ISBN 100805077480. $16.95. Ages 5-7. This is a short story about trucks that kids will want to check out primarily because they love big rigs that do big jobs inicluding ambulances and forklifts and mail trucks. Q6P6.

 

Johnston, Tony. Il. Melissa Sweet Off To Kindergarten. Cartwheel books, Scholastic Inc. NY 2007. ISBN 0439730902. $7.99. Ages 5-7. a sweet book about a boy’s first day of kindergarten and what all he wants to take with him. It is a good read aloud book. Q8P8

 

Aruego, Jose &Ariane Dewey, The Last Laugh. Dial Books for Young Readers Group. NY. 2007. ISBN 0803730934. Age K. $12.99. This is an exceptionally good book dealing with bullies. A not so nice snake gets the tables turned on him by a duck with lots of friends. Kindergarten age children will love this book. Q9P9

 

Purmell, Ann. Il Jill Weber, Christmas Tree Farm. Holiday House NY 2006. ISBN 0823418863 $16.95. Ages 5-10. This is an informative book about a young boy who helps his grandpa throughout all phases of tree farming. The illustrations are great and shows how much hard work goes into this type of farming all year long. A good holiday book. Q7P7.

 

Wilson, Karma, Il. Christa Unzner, Princess Me Margaret K McElderry books and imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing division. NY. ISBN 9781416940982 . 2007. $16.99. Ages 5-7 A cute easy to read and nicely illustrated book about a young girl who dresses up as a princess and plays with all the toys in her realm. A great read aloud book. Q8P8

 

Non fiction

Michelson, Richard, Il Mary Azarian, Tuttles Red Barn. The Story of America’s Oldest Family Farm. G Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Reader’s Group, NY. 2007. ISBN 9780399243547. $16.99. Ages 6-10. This is a story of a generational farm that goes back to 1632 and follows the family farm throughout time to the present. It is the winner of the Caldecott Medal. Q8P8

Morrison, Taylor, Tsunami Warning. Houghton Mifflin Co. NY 2007 ISBN 061873435. $17.00. Ages 7-11. This is a nicely illustrated anthology of significant tsunamis throughout history including the most recent 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It teaches what is being done about understanding tsunamis and the newest technology to detect a coming tsunami. Q8P9

 

Koscielniak, Bruce, Looking at Glass Through the Ages. Houghton Mifflin co. NY 2007. ISBN 0618507507.$16.00 Ages 7-11. This is an in depth look at how glass was made throughout the ages starting in Egypt. It is a very informative book and I recommend it to students who are interested in glass fusion and glass window art. Q8P8

 

Non fiction/Math/animals

Whitehead, Ann Nagda, Cheetah Math. Henry Holt &Co. NY 2007. Ages 6-11. ISBN 9780805076455. $16.95. In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, this informative book teaches how division, multiplication, addition and subtraction are used in determining how to care for cheetahs. The photography is good and I like how it shows how math can be applied in everyday use. Q8P7

 

First Thursdays Book Review Group December 2007 L.R. for Siletz Library

 

Picture Books

Cecka, Melanie. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Cynthia Coopersmith’s Violet Goes to the Country. Viking, 2007. unpgd. Ages 3-7. ISBN 9780670061815 $16.99 P6Q8

This book was written by a real author, posing as a fictional author, who is a character in an adult-series book by another author. I guess the hook is that Grandma will recognize the prominently displayed name “Jan Karon,” who wrote the adult books, and Grandma will buy it. But it probably would have done well enough on its own, particularly with Emily Arnold McCully as the illustrator. The pictures are lovely and realistic and the story, though formulaic, is sweet. The cover is sturdy and inviting to animal lovers. Note to Jane: this is going to be a cataloguing nightmare!

 

Freeman, Don, Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library. Viking, 2007. (first pub. 1969) unpgd. Ages 3-6. ISBN 9780670062300 $15.99 P5Q9

This high quality book is a re-release of a Don Freeman book from 1969, and although I had never read it before, it did not disappoint. The illustrations are his trademark simple black and white lines creating the background, with the characters in simple colors. The story, about a daydreamer in a library, is humorous and would be great for a story time. The hardcover book is high quality and the cover is eyecatching.

 

Juvenile Books

Adler, David, Cam Jansen and the Mystery Writer Mystery. Viking, 2007. 57 p. Ages 8-11. ISBN 9780670061990 $13.99 P4Q3

 

Sobol, Donald J., Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case. Dutton Children’s Books, 2007. 90 p. Ages 8-11. ISBN 9780525479246 $15.99 P7Q8

Both of the above books are about young “detectives” who have special powers. In the case of Cam Jansen, it is a photographic memory, and in the case of Encyclopedia, excellent powers of deduction. Both have adults who consult them to help solve cases. However, Adler’s plot, which takes place at a school book fair, is just lame. I can’t imagine it holding the interest of many young mystery lovers. Sobol’s book is a series of short cases, with the answer to the mystery at the back. This is a great device for the reluctant reader and won’t hinder the child who plows through the whole book in one sitting. The stories are imaginative and the answers aren’t always obvious. The covers of both books are pretty enticing and the quality is good, but at approximately the same price, the Sobol book is a better choice for young readers.

 

Young Adult

Lenhard, Elizabeth, Chicks with Sticks (Knitwise). Dutton Books, 2007. 260 p. Ages 13-17. ISBN9780525478386 $16.99 P4Q5

I know that knitting has gained a new popularity with young girls, but I don’t know how many non-knitters will pick up this book. The cover, with an illustration of three teens, in varied dress, knitting, just seems a little odd. But beyond the off-putting cover is a light, and interesting story of four girls in their last year of high school. They are dreaming about the future, but determined to enjoy their last year and all do quite a bit of growing up in that year. Growing up in Chicago, the girls mouth the lastest slang and seem to have quite a bit of fun running around the city, but seem quite innocent and sweet throughout. Nothing gritty or drastic happens here, so it will appeal to certain readers. There are even knitting patterns at the end, for those who already have the knitting bug. Beginners will need to check out an easier how-to book!

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers December 2007 Reviews by M.D.

Holm, Jennifer L. Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf – A Year Told Through Stuff. Pictures by Elicia Castaldi. Antheneum Books for Yound Readers. New York. 2007.$12.99. 0-689-85281-9. 70+ pgs. Grade 5-7 P7/Q8

This is a young girl’s scrapbook depicting her middle school year in chronological order. Bright engaging graphics but may be hard for some readers to know what is important to read and what is next in the story. It is a quick read and you wouldn’t have to read it in order to get a feel for her middle school life. Those with short attention spans may enjoy or get distracted by the format.

 

Kelly,Katy. Lucy Rose Working Myself to Pieces and Bits. Illustrated by Peter Ferguson. Delacorte Press. New York. 2007. $12.99. 978-0-385-73408-0. 196 pgs. Grade 5-7. P6/Q7

There are three other Lucy Rose books. Lucy Rose: Here’s the Thing about Me, Lucy Rose: Big on Plans, Lucy Rose: Busy like Youcan’t Believe. I picked up the book because of the title working myself to pieces and bits – I thought what is a young girl is doing to work herself to death. But I’m into page 58 and can’t get into the book it is not a very engaging story. The format is like a journal and the pint is large and not at all intimidating for a young reader. The girls whose journal it is, is in fourth grade and therefore some of the sentence structure is how a fourth grader might talk and therefore confusing.

 

Straight, Susan. The Friskative Dog. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2007. $14.99. 978-0375-83777-7. 149 pgs. Grade 4-6. P9/Q9

It was a great story and I couldn’t put it down. This would be fun to read out loud to an elementary class. It’s about a girl, her stuffed dog, her father who is a truck driver and hasn’t been home for a year. The girl has to write a career paper and decides to become a guide dog trainer. It has a happy hopeful ending as the young girl learns what family & love really are. I loved this book.

 

Burnham, Niki. Goddess Games. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $15.99. 1-4169-2700-X. 282 pgs. Grade 6-12 P9/Q9

This was a great book, easy to read and follow. It’s about three girls who work at a retreat for rich people. It is set in Colorado during the summer. They have different lives, boyfriends, values and challenges. One girls father was killed in Iraq a year ago, another’s mother was ditched by her rich producer boyfriend, and a third has decided

she needs to change her partying ways before she screws her life up for real. They have to room together in the employee cabins and start off on a bad foot but by the end of summer they are making since of their lives and becoming life long friends. Young girls will love this story.

 

Bowers, Laura. Beauty Shop for Rent …fully equipped, inquire within. Harcourt Children’s Books. 2007. $17.00 978-0-15-205764-0. 336 pgs. Grade 6 and up. P9/Q9

I couldn’t put this book down. I really enjoyed it and I know it would captivate other young readers. It’s about a girl who was dropped off at her great grandma’s house/beauty parlor when she was eleven by her mother. He dad didn’t want her and she won’t talk to him now. She is determined to be a millionaire by age 35 and works all the time. No time for being a teenager so she turns down any and all dates. The gray haired widows and the new beauty shop owner become her mother figure. She has to face her past and future when her mother takes all of her savings for a down payment on a beach house. It ends well and she learns to trust and forgive the right people.

 

Coleman, Penny. Adventurous Women: eight true stories about women who made a difference. Henry Hold and Company. New York. 2006. $18.95. 0-8050-7744-8. 186 pgs. Grade 8 – up P6/Q8

I could only make myself read the first three chapters. I wasn’t very interested in explorers or plant hunters. First chapter was about Louise Boyd: Arctic Explorer 1887-1972. It would make a good resource for a book report. Some of the other women from the book are: Mary Gibson Henry: Plant Hunter, Juana Briones: Enterprising Family Head, Alice Hamilton: Supersleuth, Mary McLeod Bethune: Passionate Educator, Katharine Wormeley: Daring Superintendent, Biddy Mason: Fierce Fighter and Peggy Hull: Resolute Reporter. Looking at the rest of the chapter headings I maybe would read about the enterprising family head. Not sure any student would pick this up to read it – only as an assignment. It does have some great resources in the back of the book: brief chronologies of each woman, places to visit, name sakes, sources, and bibliographies.

 

Roop, Connie and Peter. Tales of Famous Americans. Illustrations by Charlie Powell. Scholastic Reference. 2007. $17.99. 978-0-439-64116-6. 108 pgs. Grade 6-9 P6/Q8

Book has beautiful illustrations and simple quick easy text to read. It has an index and information about the photos at the back of the book. Each story is about 3-4 pages and has important facts, dates and actual photos as well as interesting drawings. It would be a good resource for book reports or history curriculum but most students would not pick it up to read as a story book. It has from Pocahontas to Mia Hamm and Yo-Yo Ma.

 

Taback, Simms. I Miss You Every Day. Viking. 2007. New York. $16.99. 978-0-670-06192-1. 32 pgs. Pre-k – 2 Grade P8/Q9

Simms Taback has won the Caldecott medal for several of his children’s books he both writes and illustrates the stories. The pictures are engaging and colorful. There is a

pocket on the first page that is a depiction of an envelope with a note to someone who is missed. The pocket could easily be torn or ripped off the page if not reinforced. There are very few simple words on each page which makes it a great story time book. It’s about a girl who sends herself in the mail to someone she misses every day. The words rhyme and make a fun read aloud book.

 

Boelts, Maribeth. Before You Were Mine. Pictures by David Walker. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York 2007.$15.99 978-0-399-24526-8. 25 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P6/Q6

It is a story book about a dog who was adopted from the shelter. The boy asks before you were mine were you lonely, hungry ect. At the back of the book the author writes a paragraph about adopting dogs from shelters and how it creates a ripple of hope. It has cute words and drawing and would be good for a young child who pet has passed away and will adopt a new dog from the shelter. Kind of a sad story because it talks about all of the bad things that could have happened to the dog before he belonged to the boy.

 

Se’ve, Randall de. Loren Long. Toy Boat. Philomel Books. New York.2007. $16.99. 978-0-399-24374-5. 31 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P8/Q8

Beautiful pictures and few simple words tell a story of a boy who made a toy boat. He sailed it on the lake with a string attached so it would stay with him. One day his mother jerked his hand – and the string slipped. The boat was lost out on the lake and ran into lots of other kinds of boats. Finally a fishing boat helped him catch a wind and he returned to the little boy. They were together again at last.

 

Aston, Dianna Hutts. An Orange in January. Illustrated by Julie Maren. Dial Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $16.99. 978-0-8037-3146-2. 30 pgs. Pre k- 1 Grade P8/Q8

It is a very simple story with a few words. It is about how an orange grew and ended up being eaten in the cold of January. A Latino family works on the farm and then eats the orange.

 

Johnson, Dinah. Hair Dance! Photographs by Kelly Johnson. Henry Holt and Company.New York. 2007. $16.95. 978-0-8050-6523-7. 25 pgs. Pre k-3 Grade. P8/Q8

The book starts with a photographer’s introduction that talks about her love of hair and hairstyling and her grandparent’s legacy. The girls she photographed were described as positive, unique, glamorous and elegant. It’s a book of people of color ( rainbow tribe) with their afros, dreadlocks and braids. The words are not really in a story format but more of a poem and are few and simple in nature.

 

Reiser, Lynn. And Penny Gentieu. You and Me, Baby. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2006.$15.95. 0-375-83401-X. 20 pgs. Pre k -1 Grade P6/Q6

This book has real photographs of babies and parents. It talks about looking at baby and smiling, eating, and other simple things that babies and parents would do, but not very interesting words.

 

Weeks, Sarah. Bunny Fun. Illustrated by Sam Williams. Harcourt, Inc. New York. 2008. $14.00. 978-0-15-205838-8.25 pgs. Pre k – 1 Grade P7/Q7

It is a simple story with cute drawings to illustrate a bunny and mouse who goof around inside because it is raining. When the rain stops they go outside but there is lots of mud. It has a rhyming patter to the bunny fun.

 

Mcghee, Alison. and Peter H. Reynolds. Someday. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $14.99. 978-1-4169-2811-9. 25 pages. Prek – 2 Grade. P6/Q7

It is a story of a mother and baby and how someday the baby will grow up and become a mother herself. It is a nice story of how the baby will then remember her own mother. It has simple drawings with a only a few words and pictures on each page. The words fly across the page and would be a great book for a mother to give to her daughter who has just had a baby of her own.

 

Charlip, Remy. A Perfect Day. Greenwillow Books. New York. 2007. $17.89. 978-0-06-051973-5. 20 pgs. Pre k – 1 Grade P5/Q5

A story about a young boy and his dad and the things they do during the day. The pictures are plain and the words are as well. I don’t like the text they chose for the words. It looks like a cheap book.

 

Rosenthal, Marc. Phooey! Joanna Colter Books. 2007. $17.98. 978-06-075249-1. 25 pgs. Pre k – 3 Grade P6/Q7

The art work and book jacket look like Curious George books. The drawings remind me of a book from the same time frame as Curious George. A young boy is bored and thinks nothing ever happens in his town. Little does he know lots of things are happening all around him but he is too busy complaining to notice what is going on. In the end he finds a kitten and believes it is the best place of all.

 

Magoon, Scott. Hugo & Miles in I’ve Painted Everything ! An Adventure in Paris. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 2007. $16.00. 978-0618-64638-8. 25 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P7/Q7

I love the texture of the book jacket and it has muted but interesting illustrations to help tell a story with few words. Hugo is an elephant and his friends are animals as well. Hugo is an artist who has painted everything and ran out of ideas. They had to go to Paris on a trip and saw the many sites like the Louvre, Musee’d’Orsay and other art museums. He did get an idea and never ran out of ideas again.

 

McClements, George. Ridin’ Dinos with Buck Bronco. Harcourt, Inc. Florida. 2007. $16.00. 978-0-15-205989-7. 40 pgs. Pre k – 3 Grade P7/Q7

The illustrations are mainly made out of cut or ripped paper in a cartoon look. It is a story about how a cowboy found some eggs and they hatched and he is now the leadin’ authority on dinosaurs. He talks about Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous and how they are biped or quadruped and what that means. He also teaches about saddles, blankets and bridles because he shows how to ride a dinosaur. Little boys would love this book and learn something as well.

 

Grimes, Nikki. Welcome Precious. Illustrations by Bryan Collier. Orchard Books. New York. 2006. 0-439-55702-X. 30 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P7/Q8

An African American family welcomes a new baby girl – Precious and the delightful illustrations depict all that she sees. The beauty of the earth, her father, grandmother and life a basket brimming with things to see and hear.

 

Serfozo, Mary. Whooo’s there? Illustrated by Jeffrey Scherer. Random House. New York. 2007. $9.99 978-0-375-84050-0. 20 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P6/Q7

It is a story about an owl and other animals with bright cheerful pictures in a cartoon format. The owl goes threw the forest asking who everyone is and the moon is beginning to fade as the owl goes to sleep.

 

Cheng, Andrea. Tire Mountain. Illustrations by Ken Condon. Boyds Mills Press. Pennsylvania. 2007. $15.95. 978-1-932425-60-4. 25 pgs. Grade 1-4. P7/Q7

A little boys mother wants to move. They own a tire store next to a large pile of tires. Right now they live in a house right next to the tire shop – what if she finds a house far away and he can’t walk to the shop. He likes playing with the tires, making swings, stacking them and then they make a play park with all of the tires.

 

Delessert, Etienne. Alert! Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 2007. $17.00. 978-0-618-73474-0. 40pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q7

I think the cover has an ugly picture and I wasn’t sure what it was. But it is a story about Tobias a special mole who liked to collect shiny pebbles and other colorful stones. The creatures are very odd looking. His mole friend told him that thieves were on their way to steal the pebbles. He had been robbed by his mole friend and he would be wiser next time.

 

Young, Ed. My Mei Mei. Philomel Books. New York. 2006. $16.99. 0-399-24339-9.30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P8/Q8

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. It is a story of a little Chinese girl and how she plays Jieh-Jieh. There are other Chinese words in the book and she talks about a

pretend sister she has. The illustrations are made up of fabric and drawings. They flew and got her a real sister but then she felt left out. The back cover has a real photo of the sisters in China and an explanation about the adoption of Antonia. It’s a story about adoption and sibling relationships.

 

Cuyler, Margery. That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington, DC. Ilustrated by Michael Garland. Henry Holt and Compan, LLC. 2007. $16.95. 978-0-8050-7727-8. 30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q7

The book has illustrations that are cartoon in nature with bright colors. It is a story about a boy who went on a field trip to Washington DC and fell off the tour bus and landed on a motorcycle. He saw the National Zoo, Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument ect. Along his adventures seemed to be bad but no they were good after all. It has very engaging pictures that will capture young reader’s attention. At the end of the story there is a map that shows the little boy’s day and where he went and how he found his class.

 

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Dear Mr. Rosenwald.Illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner R. Gregory Christie. Scholastic Press.New York. 2006. $16.99 0-439-49522-9. 30 pgs Grade 3-6 P7/Q8

It is a book that talks about Rosenwald schools which empowered thousands of African American communities to build schools for their children in the 1920 & 30’s. The format looks like poetry with titles and the format of the words. The illustrations are drawings in a sketch format. 1921: One – Room School, Sharecropping, Supper, New School Rally, Taking Root, Box Party, Passing the Plate, Blueprints, Lumber, Raising the Roof, Hand-Me Downs, Playground, 1922; White Oak School, and Dear Mr. Rosenwald. There is an authors note in the back about how the schools were built for ex- slaves and how the they were a sign of progress. Each page could be taken and read as a poem on its own.

 

Van der Heide, Iris. A Strange Day. Illustrations by Marijke ten Cate. Lemniscaat. Pennsylvania. 2006. $15.95 978-1-932425-94-9. 30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P8/Q8

It is a book with beautiful illustrations. Jack a young boy has entered a contest and is waiting for the mail to see if he has won. The illustrations tell the story as the local postman is trying to catch a letter that has been taken by the wind. Jack says he will never enter another contest and he doesn’t notice the bad wind storm as he is only thinking of his bad luck. Finally the mail man catches the letter and puts it in Jacks mail box. Jack has won and everyone around town brings him presents because when he was preoccupied with loosing he had helped win a soccer match, found a dog, and saved an egg. What a strange day.

 

Singer, Marilyn. Let’s Build a Clubhouse. Illustrated by Timothy Bush. Clarion Books. New York. 2006. $16.00. 978-0-618-30670-1. 25 pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q8

A story of building a club house that teaches at the same time. The author gives definitions for the plan, and what rulers measure. Who’s got the … is the format and then they explain what each item does with drawings, words and why the item would be used to build something. There are pictures of open-ended, box end and adjustable wrenches. This book could be read to a younger group by only reading the bold words and leaving out the definitions. The theme is teamwork and also the process of building.

 

Anderson, Lena. Hedgehog, Pig, and the Sweet Little Friend. Translated by Joan Sandin. R&S Books. New York. 2007. $16.00. 978-91-29-66742-4. Grade 1-3 P7/Q7

Mrs. Hedgehog hears someone at her gate late in the evening. It is Pig and she invites him for soup and then someone else comes a little crying girl pig. They become friends and the next day in town the pig takes the crying girl around town they stop for cakes and she finds her mom in the end the pigs walk off into the sunset.

 

Book Reviews for December 2007 by A.G.

Martin Jr., Bill. Illus. by Eric Carle. Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2007. $16.95 24 pp. ages 3-6 ISBN: 0-8050-8336-7 P9/Q9 The precursor to this book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”, was a clear favorite of my own children. Having had to read it aloud over and over and over again, I can see how welcome a variation on it would be. This book retains all the good qualities of the original—the simple, repetitive text and simple, colorful illustrations—while introducing a new batch of animals, this time from North America. No doubt it will be an instant classic.

 

Hughes, Pat. Illus. by Ken Stark. Seeing the Elephant. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. $16.00 37 pp. ages 8-10 ISBN 0-374-38024-4 P7/Q8 Ten-year-old Izzie sees his two older brothers off to fight for the Union in the Civil War. It seems like a glamorous outing until news arrives that one brother got typhoid fever that put him out of action and he’s sent home. The brother’s resentment at being sidelined is one of the many details that give this story both its historic accuracy and relevant meaning. When Izzie travels to Washington, DC and meets a Reb in the hospital, he begins to see the brutality of war and the humanity of the enemy. “Seeing the elephant” takes on a new meaning to him. With war a constant in today’s society, the book has a valuable meaning. It should appeal to kids both because of its theme and the wonderful illustrations. It could make a good class read-aloud regarding troop mobilization and the effects of war on warriors and their families. The story avoids going overboard by remaining true to the author’s family history which provided the storyline.

 

Mayer, Mercer. The Little Drummer Mouse. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2006. $16.99 30 pp. ages 5-8 ISBN 0-8037-3147-7 P8/Q8

Mercer Mayer’s illustrations are predictably wonderful, this time focusing on woodland animals (the raccoon’s inclusion puts it solidly in the realm of fantasy). The story is of the “little drummer boy” who feels inadequate in his gift to the “newborn king”, baby Jesus. The story makes the point that people may underestimate the worth of others, but when looked at purely they are worthy.

 

Addy, Sharon Hart. Illus. by Wade Zahares. Lucky Jake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. $17.00 32 pp. ages 6-9. ISBN 0-618-47286-X P8/Q8 Jake and his pa are panning for gold in California in the 1850’s. Jake wants a dog but ends up with a pet pig they name Lucky. Through a series of “lucky” turns of events, they end up striking it rich in a way they’d never imagined. The story not only gives a feeling for the economics of the Gold Rush, but also explores the concept of “luck” in a way that younger children can begin to understand. The reading level is simple and the typeface quite readable, and with the bright and engaging impressionistic illustrations it should appeal to children.

 

Becker, Bonny. Illus. by Abby Carter. Holbrook: A Lizard’s Tale. NY: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), 2006. $15.00 150 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 0-618-71458-8 P7/Q7 Holbrook (a lizard) loves to paint, and to realize his dream of becoming a famous painter he travels to the big city. Being a rube, he gets suckered in by a pretentious art patron. The lizard joins forces with other exploited animal artists and comes up with a creative way to beat the exploiter. The story is about having confidence in your ambition and abilities, as well as being careful of other peoples’ motivations.

 

Dunham, Montrew. Illus. by Cathy Morrison. Mahalia Jackson, Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Champion. Carmel, IN: Patria Press, 2003. (orig. pub. 1974) $15.95 105 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 1882859383 P6/Q7 This classic biography covers mostly the early life of Mahalia Jackson, giving both a background in what led her to prominence in gospel singing and the flavor of the times in which she lived. Students today are likely not very familiar with her, but having heard her sing in person in my youth, a couple of years before she died, I can attest that she had an amazing singing voice and style. The story is interesting by itself, but could no doubt be enriched by accompanying it with playing a recording of Mahalia singing. The book will appeal to students who like biographies or history. It provides diversity and depth to a school collection of biographies for intermediate readers (the vocabulary is simple), and qualifies as a chapter book without being an intimidating length.

 

Pinkwater, Daniel. The Neddiad. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. $16.00 307 pp. ages 10-14 ISBN 0-618-59444-2 P8/Q8 Ned (age maybe 10) and his family are moving from Chicago to LA by train when he gets left behind in Flagstaff (he wandered down the street to watch a rodeo parade). His hero’s adventure includes a ghost bellboy that many people can see and hear and a quest to save the world. Complete with a mystical Navaho shaman (with a sense of humor), this story is a fun action adventure, an epic hero’s story implied by the title’s play on “The Illiad”. It portrays details of the 1950 era that only someone who lived through it would know (author Daniel Pinkwater, of NPR fame, clearly is of that age).

The most endearing part of the book to me is its upbeat nature. I’d come away from reading it with a smile and the urge to return to the story. While it’s completely fanciful, the reader will learn a few things that are real, especially about the La Brea Tar Pits and turtle mythology.

 

Jonell, Lynne. Illus. by Jonathan Bean. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2007. $17.95 346 pp. ages 8-14 ISBN 0-8050-8150-X P7/Q7 Emmy is a very good girl, leading a busy life of lessons and extra-curricular activities and getting good grades. Yet she’s very unhappy: no one notices her. This story takes a probably not uncommon situation and weaves it into a story of magic, intrigue and adventure. Emmy gets help from an unlikely source: the classroom pet rat and a “Rodentologist” who first identified his incredible qualities. The story is about values more than anything, and explores the emotional vacuum that even a rich girl can experience. The illustration at the top of each page, when the pages are flipped, create a fun moving illustration of a rat dropping from a tree. The story is an easy, quick read despite it’s apparent large number of pages, and is likely to be enjoyed by boys and girls in elementary school, on up to puberty.

 

Giles, Gail. Right Behind You. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $15.99 292 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-316-16636-7 P8/Q8 How could you live with yourself if you killed another child when you were 9 years old? After years of therapy, Kip is released into the world and has to learn how to live with others and live with himself. There’s some useful therapeutic messages, and perhaps the story will encourage some compassion for juvenile delinquents and their rehabilitation. But it’s also enjoyable as a sort of love story, told from the boy’s point of view. The title phrase refers to standing by someone, backing them up. This could provide some stimulus for discussion among a group of teenagers, particularly those who are trying to overcome their past.

 

de la Cruz, Melissa. The Au Pairs: Sun-Kissed. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 306 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 1-4169-1746-5 P7/Q5 This is a classic teen romance, fantasy-style. All the girls are smart, beautiful and rich, and the worst of their troubles is when one girl’s parents cut up her credit cards because she rented a black hawk helicopter to deliver her and the new designer dress from NYC to the Hamptons for a spectacular finish to a debut fashion show. Ack. It took me a year and a half to get around to this one, no doubt due to my noticeable lack of teen hormones, but it turned out to be not so bad, though it has a minimal of redeeming social value. Romance enthusiasts will no doubt like it.

 

Deary, Terry. Flight of the Fire Thief. Boston: Kingfisher, 2006. $9.95. 225 pp. ages 8-14. ISBN 0-7534-5819-5 P6/Q5 This is the sequel to The Fire Thief, a back-and-forth-through-time story featuring Prometheus (the fire thief). Although it contains Greek/Roman gods and demi-gods, it is not big on mythology or history particularly. The story is primarily told first person as the young (indeterminate age) girl who travels with her showman father in 1795. Its cutesy style I found distracting, though some might find it amusing, as was the bouncing

back and forth in time every other chapter between “Eden City” in America and Troy under siege 4,000 years ago. A glossary is given in the back, along with the first few pages of the third book in the trilogy (I can wait).

 

Yeomans, Ellen. Rubber Houses. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $15.99 150 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-316-01701-9 P7/Q8 Kit, a junior in high school, has a close relationship with her little brother Buddy. When Buddy is diagnosed with cancer, she goes on a different kind of journey than she had always envisioned, progressing through his death and her beginning to cope with her grief. The story is told simply but movingly in a sort of free verse, making it a quick read. The title refers to home plate. This would be a helpful story to read for a bereavement group.

 

Russell, Christopher. Hunted. NY: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins), 2007. $16.89 254 pp. ages 10-14 ISBN 978-0-06-084120-1 P6/Q7 Set in the late 1300’s during the reign of King Edward III in England, this story follows the lives of two young people during the Black Plague. Brind is a dog handler of the lord’s hunting dogs and Aurelie is the lord’s foster daughter. When the lady of the manor dies of the plague, the two of them become convenient scapegoats when a traveling Brother tries to drum up support for his own greedy interests. The book illustrates the lifestyle of the time, along with the sketchy morals of some who professed to be religious. The plot is lively and the characters sympathetic. The vocabulary isn’t the easiest but is certainly in reach for middle school, and is a fast read.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers November/December 2007 

Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art. Philomel, 2007. $30.00. 0-399-24600-5. 105p. Ages 8+: Well-known, award-winning authors share their childhood experiences, motivations, training, and knowledge about art in this exuberant feast for the eye that will attract both young and adult readers. One page of text, two-page foldout of illustrations from their early experiences and picture books, and a full-page self-illustration highlight each of these artists including Eric Carle, Steven Kellogg, Barry Moser, and Chris Van Allsburg in a benefit for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Three-fourths of the artists represented are male, hopefully not a trend in the museum. But the visuals are a delight, especially the pop-up contribution by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. An excellent book for art teachers. P8Q8

 

Gonyea, Mark. Another Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Bad. Holt, 2007. $19.95. 0-8050-7576-3. unp. Ages 6+: Conyea’s first book, A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good, provided the basics in graphic design for beginning artists. In this one, he includes extremely brief chapters on the foundation, foreground/background, use and repetition of colors and shapes, and positive and negative space which results in a simple

illustration of a flying superhero with city buildings in the background. A superb companion for his first book. P8Q10

 

Freedman, Russell. Who Was First? Discovering the Americas. Clarion, 2007. $19.00. 0-618-66391-6. 88p. Ages 9-12: Dispelling the myth that Christopher Columbus was the first person to “discover” North America, Newbery-winner describes other voyages before 1492 in which the Chinese and the Vikings may have traveled to the continent. Beginning with a chapter on Columbus, the book has a dramatic finish in the chapter “Who Really Discovered America” which tells about the journey on land from Siberia when a land bridge existed between Russia and Alaska. Paintings, engravings, photographs, scrolls, models, and ancient and current maps enliven the clear text which provides much food for young readers’ thoughts. Recommended for all school and public libraries. P6Q9

 

Hill, Laban Carrick. American Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the ‘60s. Little, 2007. $19.99. 0-316-00904-1. 165p. Ages 12+: Colorful elaborate design highlights the ten chapters chronicling the types of protests during the decade of the 1960s and comparing these to the overview of life in the 1950s that opens the book. Included are the movements created by students, hippies, African Americans, women, Native Americans, Latinos, and environmentalists to make life in America more equal for all. Filled with photographs, quotations, and facts, this summary of tumultuous events will interest young readers. The brevity of the book may contribute to the omissions noted by a reader who lived during this time, but the gay protests relegated to one page create a lack of balance in the coverage. P7Q7

 

Hodgkins, Fran. The Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings. [Scientists in the Field series] Houghton, 2007. $18.00. 0-618-55673-7. 64p. Ages 9-12: Following an introductory chapter on cetaceans—whales, dolphins, and porpoises—and their abuses throughout the ages, the books moves to the subject of the title, describing scientific studies that attempt to solve the mysteries of these giant mammals going ashore. Several answers are proposed from weather to solar man-made noises from solar testing and shipping lanes. Hodgkins shows a great passion for her subject in a narrative that may inspire young readers to become activists in the environmental movement. The plight of these gentle creatures is tragic, as shown through both the text and photographs. P8Q8

 

Jenkins, Steve. Living Color. Houghton, 2007. $17.00. 0-618-70897-9. unp. Ages 8-11: Nature enthusiasts will love this depiction of birds, fish, birds, bugs (lots of them!) and other creatures as they are sorted into the vivid colors of red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, and pink. Jenkins explains behavior, appearance, rationale, and other color facts with a description of size, habitat, diet, and other bits of information about the 70+ animals in the book. His books have been described as stunning, gorgeous, compelling, engaging, glorious and informative: this book lives up to all these adjectives. P8Q8

 

Matthews, Elizabeth. Different like Coco. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-2548-1. unp. Ages 6-9: Most adults are familiar with Coco Chanel because of her perfume and fashion, made well-known to women in the United States when Jackie Kennedy wore Coco’s stylish clothing. But many may not know about Coco’s adolescence in a Catholic orphanage after her mother’s death and her struggle to overcome the forced humiliation of her poverty. For young readers,

this book is about a “poor and skinny” child determined to become part of an elegant society and who succeeded with the help of a wealthy British aristocrat who bankrolled her first shop. This wonderful true story of rags to riches is highlighted by delicate watercolors laced with humor and personality. Important to the reader is also the conclusion: “Everyone loved Coco. And she was always different.” P8Q9

 

Platt, Richard. Pompeii. Il. Manuela Cappon. [Through Time series]. Kingfisher, 2007. $16.95. 0-7534-6044-3. 48p. Ages 8+: Although many people think primarily in terms of the 79 AD destruction of the city when Vesuvius erupted, the city had actually suffered earthquakes and other eruptions during its almost three millennia of existence. With artwork and cross sections, Platt follows the life of a farm house throughout these years as it changed from a humble hut into a wealthy family’s home, only to be covered by ash for almost a century. While trailing the events in Pompeii, readers will learn about the culture in different times and the development of archeological study during the past three centuries. Anyone can spend hours pouring over the details of life and activity. P9Q8

 

Picture Books

Cate, Annette LeBlanc. The Magic Rabbit. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-2672-3. unp. Ages 4-7: In her first book, Cate tells the story that she developed in art school as she thought about the perspective of a small animal looking up at people’s shoes. The story is simple: a bunny gets separated from his magician owner, searches throughout the city for him, and then finds his way home by following first popcorn and then scattered glittering stars. What makes the book unique is the hand-lettered text and the quirky pen and ink illustrations, all in black and white except for touches of gold, with their perspectives from varying angles. Cate provides a great look at life from the point of view of a person who is not usually part of the reader’s life. P8Q10

 

Flaherty, A. W. The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster. Il. Scott Magoon. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-55644-3. unp. Ages 4-7: Until this book was published, I’ll bet no one knew that the Loch Ness monster was once a small worm that grew because a picky eater threw her oatmeal overboard on a trip from the United States to Scotland. OK, maybe that’s not really true. But Flaherty has created a delightful story about Katerina Elizabeth, a picky eater who rejected the food that her parents made sure was provided for her on her trip to see her grandmother. Whimsy combines with sophisticated dark digitally-colored drawings in a story that also shows the life of the wealthy in another time when sea travel was the only way to make this journey. The favorite part for young readers may be the note on the back endpaper that explains “picky eating” may be genetic and the advantages of this trait. This fun book keeps the flavor of past centuries with the original endpaper art—a delight for adults as well as younger readers. P8Q10

 

Noyes, Deborah. Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China. Il. Sophie Blackall. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-2400-2. unp. Ages 5-8: Elegantly flowing free-style verse traces the story of a young Chinese princess who illegally smuggles silkworms out of the kingdom when she is married to a king of a faraway oasis so that she will have this memory of home. Chinese ink and watercolors show the culture of the time and place

as well as the emotions of the princess, her family, and those surrounding her. This gentle, contemplative book introduces the reader to another world and time from a female perspective. P7Q9

 

Parks, Todd. We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families. Little, 2007. $15.99. 0-316-01668-3. unp. Ages 2-6: Few books explain adoption to young people: Parks has succeeded in explaining why children should be adopted—they need a home, someone to help the child grow healthy and strong and kiss “boo-boos,” a friend, education—in short, safety and stability. Bold black lines drawings and colors amply illustrate the concepts. As the author says, “This book is meant to be read with someone you love”: a book that transcends adoptive families. P9Q9

 

Strom, Kellie. Sadie the Air Mail Pilot. David Fickling Books/Random House, 2007. $16.99. 0-385-75027-1. unp. Ages 4-8: Elaborately detailed illustrations of panoramic views and feats of derring-do make this story about a daredevil tiger pilot a true delight. The bouncy characters give a great sense of joy, and the different perspectives of the scenes make this a nicely sophisticated book with simple narration. The variety of animals provides learning for young readers with an elephant Air-Chief, aviators that include an ostrich, anteater, and bear, and monkey Mickey the mechanic. Places where they fly can also give a geography lesson—Lima, Santiago, Cordoba, and Panama. Our fearless Sadie flies over rocky cliffs, tropical jungles, and high mountains to icy Knuckle Peak before returning home to her city (which somewhat resembles San Francisco). Think Amelia Earhart and Katharine Hepburn rolled up into sturdy little feline Sadie. P9Q9

 

Graphic Novels

Holm, Jennifer L. Skater Girl. Il. Matthew Holm. Random, 2007. $5.99. 0-375-83989-4. 96p. Ages 7-10: Babymouse has always wanted to win, but when she has the chance to become tops in ice-skating, she discovers that all the hard work in her training schedule cuts her off from her friends—and her beloved cupcakes. The resolution of the book, the seventh in this popular series, shows that everyone is a winner at something. Cute, smart, sassy, and addictive. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Brooks, Martha. Mistik Lake. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-34985-1. 207p. Ages 14+: Spare writing with vivid characterization and use of multiple narrators show the impact of infidelity and death on three generations in an Icelandic settlement in Canada with its mix of French and Ojibwa inhabitants. Seventeen-year-old Odella suffers from anger and loss when her mother leaves the family for another man; her boyfriend Jimmy lives with his grandparents but feels responsible for his schizophrenic mother. The past is slowly unraveled through a number of voices from different characters as Odella discovers her biological father, the mystery of her great-aunt’s sexual orientation, and the source of her mother’s guilt. All Brooks’ earlier books have been ALA Best Books for Young Adults; this one deserves the same. P8Q9

 

Cazet, Denys. Minnie and Moo and the Haunted Sweater. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.89. 0-06-073017-8. In this narrative from the popular early chapter book series, our delightful bovine protagonists celebrate the farmer’s birthday by giving him a cream puff—in his shoe—and knitting him a sweater—straight from the sheep. Young readers will giggle over the rooster’s accidentally ending up in the sweater’s sleeve and the illustrations, particularly the naked sheep looking down at themselves and obviously wondering where their wool has gone. As always, delightful! P8Q8

 

De Lint, Charles. Little (Grrl) Lost. Viking, 2007. $17.99. 0-670-07144-0. 271p. Ages 12-15: Furious and depressed by her move to the city with her family and the loss of her beloved horse Red, 14-year-old T.J. has a shock when she finds a new friend, 16-year-old punked-out teen Elizabeth who is running away from her parents. What makes this relationship different from other YA books is that Elizabeth is six inches tall and faces dangers that T.J. can only imagine. Through the gentle narrative, T.J. follows her heart in deciding who to trust while she searches for the missing Elizabeth and persuades her parents that she is growing up. Clear characterization and fast-moving plot adds to the charm of the descriptions in this combination of realism, magic, humor, and hope. P8Q8

 

DeVita, James. The Silenced. Laura Geringer Books/HarperCollins, 2007. $17.99. 0-06-078462-8. 501p. Ages 14+: An impassioned plea to preserve the Constitution’s First Amendment comes from this futuristic novel in which people are forced to follow controlling sanctions and restrictions. The government’s belief is that safety comes from homogeneity of political thinking, ethnic origin, and appearance. High schooler Marena, however, refuses to give into the fear-based government and creates her own resistance group—the White Rose—based on the activism of German-born Sophie Scholl, her brother, and their friend to fight Nazism during World War II. The danger is that the political party has a special “tool” to silence wrong-thinkers permanently by erasing part of their brains. With rewards given for betraying others, Marena doesn’t know who to trust and discovers that she has selected the wrong person to put her faith in. Chilling and realistic suspense with satisfyingly capable characters—a must read. P7Q9

 

Grove, Vicki. Rhiannon. Putnam, 2007. $18.99. 0-399-23633-4. 347p. Ages 13-16: High on the bluff of Clodaghcombe, 14-year-old Rhiannon lives with her Mam and Granna, helping them tend to the sick and wounded from the village below, where people are occupied with the arrival of the Norman gentry, the tragic shipwreck that killed King Henry’s only son, and the mysterious murder of a man left nearby. Ria plays upon the superstitions of the 12th-century peoples as she saves a man wrongly accused of murder and solves the mystery of one of their patients. The blend of danger and history bring the time period clearly into focus for the reader while readers can empathize with the coming-of-age struggles of both girls and boys. This enthralling, suspenseful adventure filled with fantasy and romance is based on the actual occurrence of the sinking of The White Ship in 1120. P7Q9

 

Levithan, David. Marly’s Ghost. Ill. Brian Selznick. $14.99. 0-8037-3063-2. 167p. Ages 14-16: When the spirits of Valentine Day’s Past, Present, and Future visit Ben after he gives up hope because of his girlfriend’s death, he realizes that he is dishonoring her memory. Using Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol as a prototype, Levithan writes a tear-jerker that will

become popular. Selznick’s pen-and-ink drawings, based on the original engravings, retain the same Victorian flavor. A book for a special audience. P6Q8

 

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. The Off Season. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-68895-9. 277p. Ages 14-16: D.J. Schwenk (of Dairy Queen) tries to juggle school, football, family, the farm (which is losing money) while dealing with the loss of her best friend, a shoulder injury that might keep her from getting a basketball scholarship, her mother’s slipped disc, and her older brother’s college football accident that may mean he is a quadriplegic. Skillful in the delineation of characterizations, the author uses “realistic” adolescent idioms (such as the overuse of awesome) and awkward writing which can become annoying in this first-person narrative. Young readers will appreciate D.J.’s self-doubt which is sometimes carried to the extreme. The plot leaves several strings hanging (D.J.’s change in the relationship with Brian the boyfriend and her brother’s progress in his rehab, for example) which leaves the door open to another sequel. P8Q7

 

Rinaldi, Ann. The Ever-After Bird. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00. 0-15-202620-2. 232p. Ages 12-15: Orphaned in 1851 when her father dies, 13-year-old CeCe McGill travels through the South with her abolitionist uncle, a doctor and ornithologist, where she learns about the cruelty of slavery. Pieces of the book are timeless, such as CeCe’s love/hate relationship with her unfeeling father who blames her wrongly for her mother’s death when CeCe was an infant and her growing love for her uncle. Other parts seem contrived as each plantation they visit is different, each designed to teach the reader a different lesson. Briefer and simpler than other Rinaldi books, this will still appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction. P7Q7

January 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Desnoettes, Caroline. Look Closer: Art Masterpieces through the Ages. Walker, 2006. $18.95. 0-8027-9614-2. Unp. Ages 5+: Foldouts and thick paper make this interactive book highly useful and fascinating for adults working with younger children or older children examining the book on their own. Each “masterpiece includes a reproduction of the entire work, four inserts from each painting, the basic four colors in the artist’s palette, brief information about the work’s place in history, and a set of questions requiring careful examination of the work. Each work is given one full page in the back of the book with a brief bio of the artist, a discussion of the type of work, and an description of the painting included in the book. The masterpieces go from gothic style in the 14th and 15th centuries to figurative and abstract art in the 20th century. Although all the artists are men, a variety of European countries are represented with the majority from France. The concept in this book could be replicated by teachers who wanted to include art from other countries and genders. P8Q8

 

Ebadi, Shirin. Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. With Azadeh Moaveni. Random House, 2006. $24.95. 1-4000-6470-8. 232p. Ages 16+: The life of this dedicated human rights advocate and winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize is filled with danger and courage as she tries to maintain the traditional women’s role in an Arab country while defending, as a lawyer, women and children in politically charged cases that most in her profession refuse to touch. From her girlhood in a modest Tehran household to her demotion to clerk when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges, she describes her deep disillusionment with the direction Iran has taken since the 1979 Islamic Revolution under the guidance of hard-line clerics. In the book she also speaks out against the oppressive patriarchy of Iran, where conservative rulers have stripped women of their basic rights and all citizens of their political freedom. Although not always easy reading, this book is important for young people because of our increasing relationship with Iran and the resolute bravery of a woman who refuses to give up. P4Q9

 

Gold, Rozanne. Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients. Il. Sara Pinto. Bloomsbury, 2006. $17.95. 1-58234-735-2. 144p. Ages 9+: As a lover of cookbooks, I was really excited about this book. I was disappointed. The premise is excellent and the layout fun. Some of the directions are helpful, such as washing your hands before cooking and cleaning up after yourself as you cook. But while the audience for the book is young readers, the vocabulary is sometimes sophisticated (such as “autonomic nervous system”). The list of equipment required is also extensive, making this book more for middle and upper class children. The first recipe, Hot Chocolate, requires chopping “7 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate,” a fairly daunting task for a “simple” three-recipe cookbook. Another recipe calls for scallions but doesn’t explain what these are. And essential items in the pantry of refrigerator include Nutella, pesto sauce, and puff pastry. There are other, better, simpler cookbooks for children on the market. P4Q6

 

Jarrow, Gail. The Printer’s Trial: The Case of John Peter Zenger and the Fight for a Free Press. Calkins Creek Books/Boyds Mills, 2006. $18.95. 1-59-78-432-4. 102p. Ages 12+: The relative freedom of the press in the United States dates back to 1734 when a recently-appointed New York governor arrested a printer for printing papers that said negative things about the governor’s actions. This book chronicles the events that led up to the arrest, the trial, and the results of the trial. Such an episode could be very exciting; the book is not. It begins at the beginning, rather than a journalistic approach that would begin with the event itself, drawing the reader into the book. In addition, the book is largely gray with dull print, fuzzy pictures, and large areas of hand-written text that cannot be easily read. The format puts the narrative of the book on the right page and supporting material on the left. Sometimes the material has no relationship, indicating that perhaps there was not enough for the left side. The author also shows bias in some of her statements. I would not recommend this book for purchase. P3Q4

 

Murphy, Claire Rudolf. Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock. Walker, 2006. $17.95. 0-8027-9577-3. 64p. Ages 8+: Although people think of “The Rock,” an island off San Francisco, as only a maximum-security prison and later as a place for Native American protest, it has been home to children for the past 200 years. In her chronicle of this famous place, Murphy highlights those children with a wide selection of photographs beginning with pictures of children of army officers who moved to the Army post in 1859 to protect San Francisco and house such criminals as the Hopi Indians imprisoned there in 1894 who refused to allow their children to be sent to a government boarding school. The juxtaposition of the innocent young children and the criminals, some of them quite hardened, is fascinating. Those consigned to Alcatraz for refusal to serve in the army cut the children’s hair, baby-sat them, or went to movie screenings with the children. Children would sneak messages to the prisoners’ friends on the mainland. During the Native American occupation from 1969 through 1971, children were back, again exploring the island and this time wandering through the dank prison cells. One interesting picture is of actor Benjamin Bratt as a child. This provides not only interesting information about the children but also shows some of the injustices of the U.S. government through the last century. P9Q8

 

Reef, Catherine. E.E. Cummings: A Poet’s Life. Clarion, 2006. $21.00. 0-618-56849-2. 149p. Ages 12+: Cummings’ life seems to have happened in a different world. Born in 1894, his family had two live-in servants and a daily handyman; as an adult, Cummings never seemed to have a job, depending on help from friends and family at first and later making some money from readings and being a visiting lecturer at schools of higher education. Because of these freedoms, he was able to spend his time writing, breaking away from the traditional poetic form, using capitalization, punctuation, and spacing in ways never seen before. The book reads like a “who’s who” of famous writers during his lifetime. This makes it almost more appropriate for adults or young readers who want to study literature. With its complete information, young readers may find this a bit boring, difficult to get through. P3Q7

 

Roth, Susan L. Do Re Mi: If You Can Read Music, Thank Guido d’Arezzo. Ass. Angelo Mafucci. Houghton, 2006. $17.00. 0-618-46572-3. Unp. Ages 5-8: “A thousand years ago. . .There was no written music at all.” Thus begins this remarkable biography of the Italian monk who devoted his time to developing a system that would depict music so that a song would not be lost forever if someone forgot it. Lyric writing matches the subject as well as do the flowing collages of torn papers collected from around the world. Roth tells of how d’Arezzo’s work led to so much skepticism that he had to leave a monastery to return to his native Tuscan village. This is a story of a person who followed his heart no matter what anyone told him thus creating a language that crosses all ethnic backgrounds. P8Q9

 

Picture Books

McLimans, David. Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet. Walker, 2006. $17.85. 0-8027-9564-1. Unp. Ages 5+: Although the letters graphically rendered with animal characteristics from these endangered species (from Chinese Alligator through Grevy’s Zebra) may sometimes be difficult to decipher, the actual letters, both upper and lower case, are clearly delineated in the upper outside corner . The information about the creatures is fascinating: the alphabet pages provide class, habitat, range, threats, and status, and five pages in the back provide more information. Also included are websites and bibliography for further reading. White pages with bold black and red printing for different kinds of information make every piece stand out. Both a striking work of art and a zoological adventure, Gone Wild can be used for all ages and a variety of purposes. P8Q8

 

Satrapi, Marjane. Monsters Are Afraid of the Moon. Bloomsbury, 2006. $15.95. 1-58234-744-1. Unp. Ages 3-6: Bold cartoon illustrations outlined in bold black help tell the story of Marie, a girl who tries to protect herself from monsters by cutting the moon out of the sky and hanging it in her room. This is a tale that shows how what seems like an easy fix can lead to a bigger problem when cats cannot see at night and the rats take over the town’s streets. It’s also a good way to negotiate rather than ordering someone to give something back that they have taken. The author, born in Persia, also wrote the award-winning Persepolis and its sequels which detail her life growing up in Iran (formerly Persia). P9Q8

 

Fiction

Winterson, Jeanette. Tanglewreck. Bloomsbury, 2006. $16.95. 1-58234-919-3. 415p. Ages 10-14: When “time tornadoes” begin picking up school buses and depositing wooly mammoths on the banks of the Thames, 11-year-old Silver becomes the one person who can make time predictable again. The story is full of wonderful characters: selfish, bad-tempered Mrs. Rokabye who takes over “caring” for Silver when the girl’s parents disappear; evil Abel Darkwater who wants the mysterious timekeeper; Fisty and Thugger who are sent to find the timekeeper; wicked Regalia Mason who runs a corporation; Gabriel, a strange boy from a clan that has made its home beneath London for more than a century; and all the children that surround Gabriel. The author, winner of the coveted Whitbread Prize, combines rousing adventure with time warps and quantum physics, in a book reminiscent of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Also for lovers of Lemony Snicket’s books. P7Q9

 

January Book Reviews D.G.H. Media Specialist

Wallington, Aury, Pop. Razorbill, 2006, $8.99, 1-59514-092-1, 248p., Grades 9-12

The pretext here is that virginity is something that needs to be gotten out of the way. Readers that buy into that pretext should enjoy this book. Marit, along with her best friends Carolyn and Jamie want their senior year to be perfect. Because she keeps dumping her boyfriends when things start to get physical, Marit decides to ask her guy friend Jamie (who is also a 17 year old virgin) to do the mutual honor with no strings attached. The interesting twist is that it is the guy who gets emotionally hurt and the three way friendship bottoms out. The book examines the typical cliques and trust issues faced by teens, and it also highlights a pregnant girl with a smeared reputation as the worst consequence of sex. Unfortunately the book just ends with the friends all getting back together as if nothing happened and the pregnant girl’s character is just dropped with no resolution. The book does a decent job dealing with a topic that is on a lot of teen minds. P8 Q7

 

St. Stephens Community House, The Little Black Book For Girlz, annick press, 2006, $8.95, 978-1-55037-954-9, 208p, Grades 8-12 Coming out of Toronto, Canada this book is “by youth, for youth”. It was written by ten young women through an independent community-based agency subtitled, “A Book on Healthy Sexuality”. The chapters cover the gamete: relationships, periods, sex, birth control, pregnancy/miscarriage, abortion, STIs, AIDS, and sexual assault. Poems, drawings, essays, Q&As, written in black and white with frank, and sometimes graphic depictions, will appeal to girls (and boys) seeking straight answers about human sexuality issues. My family members thought it might be “too much information”, but in reviewing this book with a high school counselor, the thought was that this is dead-on much needed information that many students will benefit from as young as eighth grade. P9 Q8

 

Tullson, Diane, Red Sea, Orca Books, 2005, $7.95, 1-55143-331-1, 169p., Grades 8-12

A troubled 14 year-old Libby is made to travel for a year on her mother and step-father’s sailboat. Because she was dragging her feet to leave port with the flotilla for passage through the Red Sea, her family was forced to go alone facing a potential storm and the ever-present threat of pirates. This story written in first person allows the reader into the world of modern day sailing and growing up in a divorce situation. The pirates and storm do hit, and Libby has to rely on her wits and knowledge that she learned from her step-father to survive the Red Sea. P8 Q8

 

Lyga, Barry, The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl, Houghton Mifflin Co, 2006, $16.95, 978-0-618-72392-8, 311p., Grades 8-12 Written in the first person, this novel is about an angry youth high school sophomore who constantly carries a bullet in his pocket as a talisman against the world. The product of a divorce, move, bullying, and mother’s re-marriage to “the step-fascist” Donnie is adding enemies to The List and fantasizing about the school being taken over by shooters who kill and maim. He is incredibly smart and a talented artist who is writing a graphic novel (“it’s not a comic book”) that he is sure will attract the eye of his favorite author Michael Bendis at the up-coming comic book convention and will be his ticket to college and out of the situation that he is in. He has told no one about his efforts because he has only one friend, Cal, who happens to be a black jock (and a comic book fan as well!); no one that is until he meets Kyra (aka “Goth Girl” who dubs Donnie “Fan Boy”). Through her Fan Boy begins to realize that he needs to be self-confident, and that others have problems in their lives that are at least equal to his. Throughout the book there is a tension building regarding the bullet and what Fan Boy (and later Goth Girl) will do with it. The book resolves nicely with all the characters growing through the experiences that unfold. Alienated youth or kids that are bullied will especially relate, but the book is a good vicarious experience for all that want to explore those feelings. P9Q8

 

February 2007 Reviews

 

 

Book Reviews – January 2007 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School

 

Fiction Selections:

Smith, Jeff. Bone: Eyes of the Storm. Scholastic, New York, 200. $18.99 ISBN: 0-439-70625-4 174 p. Gr. 5-8. The third of a 9-volume series, this story is a quick romp though Stony Gulch with the celebrated Bone family and their friends, Thorn and Gran’ma Ben. Though it follows the action of the previous installments, it works OK as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the reader wanting more. The classic comic book illustrations by Smith are lively and well executed, a bit redolent of Walt Kelly’s Pogo. Coloring in this edition (previous editions are black and white) is very well done and makes the book worth the heftier price tag. Most of the Bone books have reached collector status, with price tags anywhere from $15 to $30 each. Many of the volumes are not in print currently, so it might be difficult to establish a complete collection in a school library. There is a paperback compilation of all 9 books available as well, for $39.95, but it isn’t in color, and, at 1341 pages thick it’s doubtful the binding is durable enough to withstand heavy circulation. Bone may not be the first graphic novel, but it’s one of the most widely read and well-accepted, and is sure to engage and inspire reluctant readers/comic book artists. P10 Q8

 

Forest, Heather. The Little Red Hen: an old fable. Illustrated by Susan Gaber. August House Little Folk, Little Rock, Arkansas, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-87483-795-7 p. Gr. Preschool -1. Lively prose, memnonic verse, and a new and inspiring ending to the fable make this exquisite book a must-have for any elementary or preschool library. The ending is prefaced by the little red hen’s admonishment, “I will share my cake with those of you who help when there is work to do. For after all is said and done, working together makes working fun.” This takes the story beyond the usual self-sacrificing hen and her thankless, indolent friends and puts a teamwork spin on the tale that fable fans will enjoy. In addition, Gaber’s richly layered acrylic, pastel, and cut paper illustrations lend depth and humor that audiences of all ages will appreciate. P7Q9

 

Pinkney, Jerry. The Little Red Hen. Penguin Group., 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-8037-2935 p. Gr. Preschool -1. Pinkney’s book is basically an enlargement on the original fable, with the various barnyard animals playing a bigger role than usual, as the hen tries to enlist their help by calling on each animal’s special talents. Another departure from the usual L.R.H. venue is that the miller – a human – actually grinds the wheat and gives the hen a bonus jar of jam. Otherwise, there are no surprises in this retelling. Pinkney’s lively, meticulously-executed illustrations fill the page, which makes this a good choice for classroom read-alouds. P6 Q7

 

Hayward, Linda.. The King’s Chorus. Illustrated by Jennifer P. Goldfinger. Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2006. $16.00 ISBN: 0-618-51618-2 p. Gr. Preschool –2 Kadoodle is a rooster with a problem: he crows all night and day, which disturbs his fellow barnyard pals to the point they stop laying eggs, giving milk, and develop surly dispositions. A creative goose solves the problem with telling Kadoodle to ‘save his voice’ for the King’s Chorus – so he adapts by only crowing one exquisite, loud, and proud time at dawn. This is an engaging story of group dynamics that will entertain all ages. Goldfinger’s illustrations are exquisite, and poultry enthusiasts will delight in the way she has portrayed several rarer chicken breeds. P7 Q8

 

B.R. Yaquina View February Reviews

Elschner, Geraldine. Mark’s Messy Room. Ills. By Alexandra Junge. Penguine Young Readers Group, c2006. ISBN 069840047X. Unp. Grades 3-5th. (Q6 P6) Carlo is an unhappy cat because he is tired of living in Mark’s messy room. He couldn’t even climb up on the bed it was so bad, so Carlo decided to leave. He found an open window and climbed inside. It was warm and tidy, but neatness and cleanliness is too much for Carlo. Meanwhile Mark was lonely with Carlos gone. He decided to clean his room. Yes, Carlo decides to go home and both are happy again.

 

Umansky, Kaye. I Don’t Like Gloria!. Ills. by Margaret Chamberlain. Candlewick Press, c2006. ISBN 0763632023. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P6) Why did nobody ask Calvin if he wanted a cat in the house before they brought Gloria home? Gloria eats from his bowl and sleeps in his basket. When Calvin growls at Gloria he gets into trouble. Calvin will agree with Gloria about nothing, but maybe that isn’t true. When a bunny is brought home neither Gloria nor Calvin is happy.

 

Trotter, Deborah W. How Do You Know? Ills. by Julie Downing. Clarion Books, C2006. ISBN 0618463437. Unp. $16.00. GradesK-2nd. (Q7, P6) Polly wakes up one morning looks outside and finds everything gone. The trees, the barn even the pond has been blanketed by fog. Mama says it everything is still there and when Polly asks how she knows she replies “I just do”. Polly wants to go look to make sure everything is there. The soft watercolors used give the feeling of real fog, although the facial features are sometimes stiff.

 

Roth, Susan L. Great Big Guinea Pigs. Bloonsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582347247. Unp. $17.95. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Did you know guinea pigs used to weight up to 1500 pounds? They also lived in the swamp in Venezuela. GREAT BIG GUINEA PIGS to sweet cuddly animls, this book informs us how they evolved into pets of today. The collage art made of torn papers give great texture to the pictures.

 

Mora, Pat. Marimba! Ills. by Doug Cushman. Clarion Books, c2006. ISBN 0618194533. Unp. $16.00. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P5) An A to Z book about animals written in English with some easy to learn Spanish words. Bright colorful pictures will help make this a hit for the young readers, They will enjoy looking at all the animals frolicking throughout the zoo.

 

Tanen, Sloane. Coco All Year Round. Ills. by Stefan Hagen. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582347093. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS.-2nd. (Q6, P7) Crisp clear very striking photographs in this book will fascinate younger children. Learning the months of the year will be fun with irresistible chicken Coco. You will be taken through the cold months of winter with ice-skating, into the spring with April’s Fool, and on to the summer of a long hot summer drive finally ending up with the fall’s Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Urbigkit, Cat. Puppies, Puppies Everywhere!. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783638. Unp. $12.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P7) Everyone loves to look at puppies and this book will bring a delightful smile to all who read it. From the adorable photographs to the simple rhyming text this book captures puppies playing, fighting, prancing and more.

 

Ross, Kathy. Step-by-Step Crafts for Fall. Ills. by Jennifer Emery. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590784480. 48 Pgs. $6.95. Grades 1st -5th. (Q7, P6) This is a fun book for children to have something to do during those fall afternoons when it is too nasty to go outside. The book begins with a getting started page which tells the types of supplies you will need throughout the book. It also instructs one to cover your work area to protect it. The complete instructions written in simple words make them easy to follow.

 

Ross, Kathy. Step-by-Step Crafts for Winter. Ills. by Jennifer Emery. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590784499. 48 Pgs. $15.95 Grades 1st-5th. (Q7, P6) This book begins with a getting started page which tells the types of supplies you will need throughout the book. It also reminds you to protect your cloths and work area and gives ideas how to do that. Along with the simply written instructions are colorful illustrations. Instructions for making Santa’s, Elf light cover, angel, snowman, Hanukkah

Dreidel, Valentine and other items are included.

 

Van Patter, Bruce. Farley Found It! Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783514 Unp. $16.95 Grades K-2nd. (Q5, P7) Farley loves being a sheep and living in the open field but when it comes to night and sleeping, Farley does not feel comfortable. He found the perfect place to sleep, Edna’s dog house. Of course Edna is not happy about his choice. She tries to hide her dog house from Farley, but Farley finds it every time. Finally Edna decided to build herself a new house and all is good. But is it, around the corner come all the other sheep.

 

Fletcher, Ralph. Moving Day. Ills, by Jennifer Emery. Wordsong, c2006.ISBN 1590783395. 39 Pgs. $17.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q 8, P6) Fletch and his brothers receives new gifts from Dad, but are they gifts or are they really bribes, because then Dad announces they are moving. Each page presents another problem about moving. Selling the house, leaving friends, cleaning, packing, and all the other necessities for moving, are outlined in this book. Fletch learns the sad feelings of moving and the happy feelings of finding out the new place might not be so bad after all. This book describes it all. This would be a wonderful book to give as a gift to someone close to you who has to move away.

 

Ries, Lori. Mrs. Fickle’s Pickles. Ills. by Nancy Cote. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590781953. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS.-1st. (Q 6, P7) Mrs. Fickle likes pickles. She plants them, tends them, picks and pickles them. Then she is off to the fair hoping she will win a prize for them. Of course she does, but most of all she loves her pickles when they are on her tongue. Short simple sentences make this book an easy even for the younger readers. The colorful pictures help make this book interesting.

 

Moser, Lisa. Watermelon Wishes. Ills. by Stacey Schuett. Clarion Books, c2006. ISBN 0618564330. 32 pgs. $16.00. Grades K-2nd. (Q 6, P7) This is a very heartwarming story about a grandson and his grandfather who spend the summer together. Charlie and Grandpap know what they need to grow watermelons and gather them together. Off they go to plant the seeds. Thru ought the summer they tend the watermelons as they grow. Grandpap doesn’t know what a wishing watermelon is and that is what Charlie is working for. Grandpap tries to guess what Charlie will wish for as they spend the summer together. They picnic by the garden, go fishing in the creek, play basketball and many other things. Charlie finally wishes for another summer just like this one with Grandpap.

 

Burg, Sarah Emmanuelle. The Secret of Love. Penguin Youn Readers Grou, c2006. ISBN 069840050X. unp. $11.00. Grades 4th-8th. (Q7, P6) Two friends come upon a single red heart flower, both want it and end up fighting over it and it

tears in two pieces. The children go their own way and realize they miss each other and both gather new seeds and present them to each other. Together they plant the seeds and grow a whole crop of red heart shaped flowers. This wordless book is a beautifully illustrated book about friendship and love. The colorless pencil drawings enhance the single red heart flower.

 

Pinto. Sara. Clockwise, A time-Telling Tale. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582346690. Unp. $16.95 Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P5) Thomas and his family is always busy, somewhere to go or something to do. Thomas does not know how to tell time and this presents a problem with him being ready to go. He visits a clock store where the clockmaker gives him a clock to help him learn to tell time. Starting with only the hour hand, learning to tell the hour, he progresses to the minute hand and succeeds in learning to tell not only the hour but the minutes also.

 

Rockwell, Anne. Backyard Bear. Ills. by Megan Hasley. Walker & Company, c2006. ISBN 0802795730. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P6) When baby bear and his mother wake up in the spring their lovely woods were being cut down and houses being built. Their lovely woods were gone and they had to find new ways to find their food. Into the backyards and trash cans they went. One day a mother called the state game warden that trapped the bears and sent them free into the woods again. This is a story about habitats and what happens when that is taken away. While this book does not solve any problems connected with numerous bears losing their habitat it does start young readers thinking about the subject.

 

Harley, Avis. Sea Stars Saltwater Poems. Ills. by Margaret Butschler. Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 1590784294. 36 Pgs. $16.95. Grades 1st-5th. (Q8, P6) A variety of poems (rhyming couplets, haiku, a list poem, and an acrostic) are used to capture the mood of the clear colorful photographs. Brief notes in the back give a short explanation of each creature. This book is a joy to read for not only the young but also for the adult reader.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Duncan, David Douglas. Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey. Bulfinch Press, 2006. $24.95. 0-8212-5810-9. Unp. Ages 10+: In 1957, Pablo Picasso adopted a dog during a visit from the artist’s photographer. Man and dog maintained a close relationship maintained a close relationship throughout the next 26 years with Picasso memorializing the little dog, who name means “little rascal,” in 45 paintings inspired by Velasquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas. The photographs provide an intimate look at Picasso at home with his two children, his last wife, and others close to him. It is my guess, however, that young readers will not find much of interest in this book. In addition, it fails to provide information about the artist that would help them understand either him or his art. P3Q8

 

Kirkpatrick, Katherine. The Snow Baby: The Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary’s Daring Daughter. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-1973-8. 50p. Ages 8-12: One would think that a picture book about a baby who was born on an icy bay in northern

Greenland and lived there part of her young life would be exciting. Sad to say, it isn’t. The photographs, while interesting, are sometimes small and too few to keep the browser fascinated. The text covers a great deal of Peary’s experiences; the book would have kept greater interest by concentrating on Marie Ahnighito Peary and using a simpler writing style. This will make a good addition to large collections, but hopefully someone will write a more accessible book for younger children. P4Q7

 

Levine, Gail Carson. Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly. Collins, 2006. $16.99. 0-06-051961-4. 167p. Ages 10+: The author of fantasies such as Ella Enchanted and Fairest has provided young readers with a book about writing fiction–or anything else. She shows the readers how they can get terrific ideas for stories, invent great beginnings and endings, write sparkling dialog, develop memorable characters, and work toward being published. Her recommendations are upbeat, interesting, and useful. This would be an excellent book not only for young readers but also for teachers needed writing ideas and instruction. P5Q9

 

Picture Books

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld. The OK Book. HarperCollins, 2007. $12.99. 0-06-115255-2. Unp. Ages 3-5: Different black and white line configurations of “O” and “K” illustrate this delightful character who demonstrates that sometimes it’s acceptable to be just “OK” at things that you try. This is a charming book with a non-gender “person” who tries juggling, baseball, cooking, climbing, sledding, sharing, and other adventures. The moral of the story? It’s fun to figure out what the character will “be really excellent at” in the future. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Greene, Stephanie. Sophie Hartley, On Strike. Clarion, 2006. $15.00. 0-618-71960-1. 152p. Ages 8-11: Deciding that her older and younger brothers were favored in the household because she had to do more chores than they did, 9-year-old Sophie decided to follow her father’s lead at work when she strikes in this sequel to Queen Sophie Hartley. The author has provided a variety of characters in the five Hartley children from baby Maura, who rarely appears in the book, to 16-year-old Thad, whose charm gets him out of doing most work. The book has its charm, and the characters are distinctive with their actions believable for their ages, but there seems to be no resolution for the struggles that everyone has in trying to get someone else to do the housework. An average juvey novel. P5Q6

 

Lichtman, Wendy. Do the Math: Secrets, Lies, and Algebra. Greenwillow, 2007. $15.99. 0-06-122955-5. 189p. Ages 10-13: Eighth-grader Tess uses algebra to solve her problems and correct her history teacher as well as a secret code in her journal. When she overhears her mother report that a friend may have killed his wife, she pursues the mystery and suffers through knowing that a classmate has stolen a state history test. The plotting is acceptable as is the characterization of Tess and her friends, Sammy and Miranda, but the math inserts detract from the flow of the book. The resolution is also quite weak when Tess’s mother decides that her friend didn’t kill his wife although there seems to be no proof either way. Only for the most dedicated of mathophiles. P5Q6

 

February Reviews K.R. WHS

Viswanathen, Kaavya. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2006.

Unfortunately, this is not the kind of book that would appeal to many of my students. The notion that parents would spend years planning to send their daughter to Harvard is beyond them. To think that, after all the years of being a perfect student, Opal would have to learn how to be popular and how to have “fun” in order to be accepted—my students would have an easier time believing some of the fantasy novels they read. I also understand that there is some question about Viswanathen’s plagiarism of another popular novel. This is simply not one I would be comfortable with in my classroom. P: 5 or 6

 

James, Betsy. Listening at the Gate. Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York; 2006.

I am never comfortable reading a part of a trilogy; Listening at the Gate is the third and final of James “The Seekers” series. I am pleased to announce that this is definitely a stand-alone novel. It is also reminiscent of the ancient “vision quest” or “hero’s journey” archetypes in that Kat, an outcast from two cultures must go on a life-changing journey between cultures in order to save her world. One of the elements I enjoyed was James’ ability to create believable civilizations, complete with language and songs; another was her ability to write “poetically”. Because the book is “fat” many students will be discouraged from reading it before they even start; this will require teachers to encourage students to read it. If students will read it, they will be greatly rewarded. P: 7

 

Darrow, Sharon. Trash. Candlewick Press: Massachusetts, 2006.

Because of Darrow’s spare writing (formatted like poetry), many students will be attracted to this short novel. Like many Y.A. novels, this one deals with the tragic lives of its characters, Boy and Sissy, who have been shuffled from one foster home to another. Eventually, they begin tagging buildings which results in Boy’s death and Sissy’s fierce depression. It’s not a life-changing novel, but one that will appeal to a large segment of sophomores at local high schools. P: 8

 

Cardenas, Teresa, Letters to My Mother. Groundwood Books: Toronto, 1998.

What makes this book unusual is that it is a translation of a novel already popular in Cuba. It is a collection of letters written by an unnamed Cuban/African girl to her dead mother. Filled with tragedy with little hope, it’s the kind of novel that may help students to realize that things really could be worse in their own lives. Fortunately, it ends hopefully, on an upbeat note where the girl has found a boyfriend and is on her way to finding her papa. Note: there is a brief description of a sexual encounter, so that, although the girl is about 10 at the beginning of the book, I would not recommend it for younger students than 9th grade. P: 8

 

Fiedler, Lisa. Romeo’s Ex: Rosaline’s Story. Henry Holt and Company: New York 2003.

At Waldport High School, we are currently not teaching Romeo and Juliet. However, if we were going to do it again, this is the novel I would read aloud to my class before starting. Fiedler has done a fine job of writing in a style similar to Shakespeare’s (I suspect even he would approve) as she tells the story of how Rosaline fortunately escaped the flattery of the Capulets and Montagues, how she intends to study medicine, and how she eventually comes to appreciate and love Benvolio. Her story makes a nice contrast between the kinds of love treated in Shakespeare’s play and what appears to be a more devoted, deeper love between two young people. The story of Romeo and Juliet is moved into the background while each chapter is told from another character’s point of view.P: 9

 

Marino, Peter. Dough Boy. Holiday House: New York; 2005.

People who have weight problems can be very funny; they can also have very sensitive natures that seem to attract cruelty. Tristan is one of those teens who has weight control issues, but as long as he and his friend Marcos (who is very popular) are together, life is okay. Unfortunately, after his parents’ divorce, Tristan discovers cruelty in Kelly, his mothers’ boyfriend’s daughter. She focuses on Tristan in ways that are downright mean and destructive to what little self-esteem he has. In the end, he finally must leave that toxic environment and live with his father, who helps with Tristan’s self esteem and brings his sense of humor back. Tristan’s problems with weight remain, adding realism to the story, and hopefully adding sensitivity to the novel’s readers. P: 7

 

Schultz, Samantha. I Don’t Want to be Crazy. Scholastic Inc.: New York. 2006

This autobiography teaches a great lesson: You can have fears, but you cannot let your fears control you; they only hold you back. The novel, written in a poem-style can be hard to follow. Although the pages are shorter, the author can jump very quickly from one event in her life to another which can leave the reader confused. However, it also gives the reader a sense of the intensity of the emotions Samantha suffers while trying to come to grips with the anxiety attacks that complicate her life.

P: 7

 

Walter Dean Myers. Autobiography of My Dead Brother. Harper Tempest: New York. 2005.

Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have completed a complex, very “real” story of two “blood brothers, Jesse and Rise who are associated with various gang members in their community. Jesse is a budding cartoonist who maintains a regular journal about “Spodi Roti and Wise” as he tries to make sense of the world around him. At one point he complains that, because of Rise’s personality changes, Jesse cannot draw his friend/brother because “I don’t know who Rise is any more.”

Students of mine who have read this novel have suggested strongly that I use it for a read aloud in class. The illustrations are large enough and drawn well enough that I think I could successfully use it for my 10th grade classes. A.T. said, “I highly recommend this book because it shows how teen problems can snowball, and more importantly how friends can pull together to help each other and stay out of trouble.” P: 9

 

Butler, S.C. Reiffen’s Choice. A Tom Doherty Associates Book: New York. 2006. (Book One of the Stoneways Trilogy)

I think I have already indicated my frustration with series books; maybe I should qualify my feelings by saying that usually by the time the books come out in paperback, I can purchase the entire collection to enjoy. Too often there is a lengthy period between my reading a novel and its companion books being printed or I find myself reading the novels out of order. Once in a great while the following novels are stand-alones; I hate it when they are not. Thus, I asked one of my students to review this fantasy novel. A.M said, “Butler did a good job with detail in this book; the words put a very detailed picture of this very imaginative world and characters into my head. Even though he did a good job describing things, I thought that it slowed the story down and it caused me to lose interest midway through the book. Making up for it all, though, whatever any mistakes he had, there was a twist ending that made me wonder what would happen the next book titled Queen Ferris. I would recommend for anyone that likes fantasy books to read this one; it was definitely a good first book for S. C. Butler.” P: 7

 

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins. Dial Books for Young Readers: New York; 2005.

The most notable characteristic of this picture book are the wonderful chalk illustrations done in browns, oranges, and sienna. The help to convey the message of the story as if it were part of a long-wished-for dream come true. The story is told from the perspective of a young black girl whose older brother and sister become participants in the sit-ins and protest marches of the early 60’s. Even Dr. Martin Luther King is given credit for his work. At the end of the book is an author’s note that explains further the events of the 60’s and gives the names of those involved. A way to bring history into the lives of younger children. P: 8

 

Retold by Aaron Shepard. One-Eye! Two Eyes! Three Eyes! A very Grimm Fairy Tale.”Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York. 2007.

This tale is very similar to Cinderella where two wicked step-sisters persecute their younger sister—the one with two eyes. First of all, they feed her very little and later, when a fairy godmother rescues her, they chase away the goat that provides two-eyes with enough to eat. Later, a handsome (two-eyed) prince enters the picture and because he and Two eyes have so-o-o much in common, they live happily ever after.

I did not like this book because the artwork is not very artistic (badly drawn) and the message seems to be that it’s okay to treat others poorly if they look different from ourselves. A better message would have been tolerance for and from all three sisters. P: 4 or 5

 

Wiesner, David. Flotsam. Clarion Books: New York; 2006.

Like his book, Tuesday, this is a wordless picture book that begins even before the title page which is full of things one might logically find on the beach. In the story, a young boy is playing at the beach when he finds an underwater camera. He takes out and prints the film; to his astonishment there are amazing, fantastical creatures (and even aliens) in the ocean. What surprises him most is a picture within a picture within a picture that he finally copies, allowing the ocean creatures later to come take the camera and its treasures to the seashore in another part of the world. In this case, a picture truly IS worth a thousand words. A keeper for anyone who has an imagination. P: 10

 

Geisert, Arthur. Oops. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston; 2006.

From the inside cover, “They say you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk, but what if it destroys your hole house?” Another wordless picture book (I collect these, by the way) that tells a delightful story of how one small event triggers a series of chain reactions—a la Rube Goldberg. The pen-and-ink illustrations are carefully detailed and worth the time it takes to really “see” the events as they occur. Though the end is a disaster, the family takes it well. P: 8

 

Brown, Lisa. How to Be. Harper Collins Publishers: New York. 2006.

Although the reader is taught how to be a bear, a turtle, a snake, a dog, a spider, and a monkey in two-word phrases, it’s when the “How to be a Person” section comes up that one learns how to “Be Yourself.” The illustrations are simple and the printing so easy to read, that this could easily be a word-less picture book. This is a useful book to have on hand for 2-3 year-olds who are learning kinesthetically. P: 8

 

Why did the Chicken Cross the Road? Dial Books for Young Readers: New York 2006.

Fourteen artists share their unique talents as they humorously answer this question with unusual answers. V-e-r-r-y enjoyable, nearly wordless picture book. Could be used in elementary art session where students can learn that each one of us has different perspectives and styles. No one who “reads” this book will ever feel “made” to draw red flowers on green stems in planter boxes again.

P:10

 

Garland, Michael. Miss Smith Reads Again. Dutton Children’s Books; 2006.

Like the short story “The Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury, students are warned to leave the creatures and events in the stories Miss Smith reads alone or “You’ll change the story and it won’t end the way it should! The story has to end—otherwise it won’t go back into the book.” The idea is better than the way the concept is worked out. The children interfere as Miss Smith reads and must rescue her from a dinosaur’s nest. At the end of the story (which feels as if the author simply ran out of imagination) one of the dinosaur eggs is left behind from the book, cracks open, and the baby pterodactyl flies away. So?

The illustrations are cartoonish, but richly colored and are certainly more inviting than the story turns out to be. P: 6 or 7

 

Rowe, John Alfred. J. A. Teddy. Penguin Young Readers Group: New York; 2006.

This quirky, but uneven picture book is the story of how Captain Skallywag manages to find and rescue all of the lost teddy bears from the giant ogre who keeps them locked up in his castle. The illustrations are complex and most elementary schoolers will enjoy looking at them. Besides the young Captain, there are also pictures of fairies, pixies, and goblins who manage to help. Just a note: the illustrator’s use of the color red is somewhat jarring in his pictures and his drawing style is European rather than American. A very interesting combination of story and pictures that will enthrall some and be “off-putting” to others. P: 7 or 8

 

Almond, David and Stephen Lambert. Kate, the Cat and the Moon. Doubleday Book for Young Readers: New York; 2004.

I am a fan of David Almond’s; this poetically written story of a girl who changes one night into a cat to dance beneath the white moon, does not disappoint. The colored pencil drawings are very simple yet not cartoonish. The white cat that calls to Kate is as white as the moon, as are the other “dreams” that float by in the night. In the morning, as Kate’s family discusses their own dreams from the night, Kate has a special secret of her own. A lovely picture books for a bedtime story. P: 8 or 9

 

The Brothers Grimm. Little Red Cap, illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Penguin Young Readers Group: New York; 1987.

The story is a traditional retelling of the Little Red Ridinghood story with very German-looking watercolor illustrations. The colors are toned down by a brownish wash the highlights the little girl’s red cap and makes all but the wolf appear friendly and warm. The wolf, on the other hand, looks just as sinister as can be; it is only because of the Santa Claus-looking woodcutter that the old woman and Little Red Cap are saved. This is a good reminder of how important it is not only to follow directions, but also to be a good neighbor and care about others. P: 8 or 9

 

Michaelson, Richard. Across the Alley. G.P. Putnam’s Sons: New York; 2006.

Although during the daytime, Abe, a Jewish boy, and Willie, a black boy, do not play together, at night they are best friends. Each has an adult in his life who has great expectations for them, but it isn’t until Grandpa catches the boys exchanging a baseball for a violin, that both families come to realize that “Ignorance comes in as many colors as talent.” Together the boys and their families walk together in the sunshine to the temple where Willie plays the violin like Jascha Heifetz and Abe pitches like Satchel Paige and one more prejudice is conquered. P: 8 or 9

 

Rosoff, Meg. Just in Case. Wendy Lamb Books: New York.; 2006.

I’ve been waiting for several weeks to write my review os this novel because it is both dark and difficult to explain. It is the story of David (who changes his name to Justin) because the moment he saves his little brother Charlie from falling out a window, he realizes how helpless he is in his own life to avoid Fate. And Fate itself is a part of the novel, complete with asides (schizophrenia?) and a determination to catch up to Justin before he has a chance to live a real life. With the compassion of his brother, the kindness of another cross-country runner, a scary girlfriend, and an invisible dog, Justin is just barely able to put off Fate for six months. The book is disturbingly wonderful, difficult to put down, and very very hard to wrap around into a few brief comments. P: 9 or 10

 

Sturtevant, Katherine. A True and Faithful Narrative. Farrar Straus Giroux: New York; 2006.

I liked this book, but perhaps not for the right reasons. It is one of the few I have read that intelligently discusses the writing process—along with numerous other Very Important Issues that ring true for 17th Century England and America today. Meg Moore wants to be a writer, but cannot do so because of the constraints of the culture she lives in; yet, when given the opportunity to write, includes all of the prejudices and fictions that she has heard of the Muslims. These are important because Edward, a friend (and herein in most of the romance of the book) is captured and she must find a way to finance his way home. The other reason I liked this book is that Meg is NOT centuries ahead of her time as a feminist, though she is stubborn to a fault. Meg is the kind of character that fits within the society in which she lives and must deal with the unfairness it affords her. I like that she isn’t a 21st century woman and that at 16 she has to decide between two young men. Not a marvelous book, but one I enjoyed reading. P: 9 or 10

 

Schlosser, Eric and Charles Wilson. Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know about Fast Food. Houghton Mifflin: Boston; 2006.

Last summer I asked my pre-AP English students to read Schlosser’s first book, Fast Food Nation. Although most of the students enjoyed it, I know that many were frustrated by the technology and the references to statistics. This book, written for even younger students and dotted with photographs, is still the kind of book every reader of non-fiction should be familiar with.

Schlosser writes about the fast food industry from its beginnings until now and includes the horrors of the meat and vegetable production that support it. His prejudices are obvious from the first; they are ones students need to know. Fast food, which they seem to enjoy, is not created in a vacuum. Animals are treated cruelly and children are manipulated psychologically to demand :”Happy Meals.” While Schlosser does not create a “happy book” he does open the door for discussion and better decision-making. P:8 or maybe even 10

 

Book Reviews from A.G. LCSD Indian Ed Feb. 1, 2007

Deatusch, Stacia & Rhody Cohon. Illus. by David Wenzel. Blast to the Past: Sacagawea’s Strength. NY: Alladin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster), 2006. $3.99 124 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-1270-3 P7/Q7 This adventure story mixes science fiction with history, taking a group of elementary age students on a time travel back to the Lewis and Clark expedition. The challenge in this series of “Blast to the Past” books is for the kids to convince certain key people in history to not “quit”. In the process, they learn what that person contributed to history. To the story’s credit, Sacagewea’s contribution is stated with the ambivalence many Indian people feel. Had it not been for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the “manifest destiny” of the white people may not have been so quick to destroy the native cultures. It is also explained that the expedition’s promise in the trade for the Shoshone’s horses was not kept. The role Sacajawea played in keeping the expedition on track and convincing the Shoshone to help them is given as key to the success of the trip. The story also emphasizes the importance of cartography, and begins with a social studies lesson in map-making. This sometimes dry subject is given life through this story. The subject is apt, the vocabulary is easy, and the story is fast-moving and has young characters with which readers could relate.

 

Carvell, Marlene. Sweetgrass Basket. Ages 10 up P7/Q8 Mohawk sisters Mattie and Sarah are sent to Carlisle Indian School from their home at Akwasasne in upstate New York. Their mother has died, and their father wants them to go to school. This tear-jerker of a novel written in free verse brings alive the heart-breaking situation of Indian boarding school students in the military-style setting of the 19th century boarding schools. The sweetgrass basket made by the girls’ mother to “hold their womanly thoughts” is an apt metaphor for their culture squashed by the boarding school. Fortunately, not all the adults in the story are evil, and it ends with some hope in the humanity of others. The story is a quick and easy read due to the loose free-verse.

 

Katz, William Loren. Black Indians. NY: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2005 (orig. pub. 1986). $10.00 ages 11 up ISBN 0-689-80901-8 P8/Q9 Great that this work has been republished! This is a valuable history that is lively and interesting reading, bringing out the Indian background to a number of groups and individuals who are most notably thought of as Black throughout history. Reasons for the mixture of blood in different places and times is explained. This work had a great

impact when it was first released. It still has a great deal to offer, and should be in every high school library.

 

Abrahams, Peter. Behind the Curtain. NY: Harper Collins, 2006. $15.99 346 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-06-073705-0 P8/Q8 This Echo Falls mystery is a page-turner. Middle school student Ingrid uncovers a steroid-dealing ring. Her ill-tempered father is, at the same time, competing with a newcomer at work who ends up being assistant coach for Ingrid’s soccer team. The story moves along well, giving clues and red herrings enough to keep the reader guessing (but guessing well) right up to the end. Issues about steroid use by student athletes are given a profile. This mystery should appeal to elementary as well as middle school students, and even high school students. The worst part of this book is its unfortunate choice of cover art; while the metaphor of the Wizard of Oz is apt for the book’s storyline, the specifics depicted on the cover are lost on the average reader, and the impression is off-putting.

 

Ziegler, Jennifer. Alpha Dog. NY: Delacourte Press (Random House), 2006. $7.95 320 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-385-73285-6 P8/Q8 Seventeen-year-old Katie is off to a summer program at a college in another town. What she can’t shake is her mother’s smothering control. She agrees with everything her mother tells her and does her best to follow, but it’s time to develop some independence. Dealing with her mother is only one of the things she needs to learn; she also has a ways to go in knowing how to handle other social relationships, from boyfriends to roommate. The learning aid in this story is her adopted puppy, who teaches her the necessity of asserting herself and being Alpha Dog. The story is smooth and a fast read, keeps interesting without being outlandish, and is apt in its illustration of common missteps. A very enjoyable story.

 

Kaslik, Ibi. Skinny. NY: Walker and Co., 2006 (first pub. in Canada in 2004 by Harper Collins). $16.95 244 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-8027-9608-7 P6/Q7 This story about a disturbed anorexic girl going to medical school is a bit odd, and certainly dark. The author explores, through the narration of Giselle and her healthy (though partially deaf) younger sister Holly, the origins of her family trauma that might have led to her anorexia. By the end of the story, Giselle’s odd relationship with men and expanding physical problems are as complex as the story of her parents’ getting together. The writing is well done, and the story has plenty of interest, but it is very dark and has a very dark ending. It might serve as a warning for girls who are too concerned with their weight, but it is not a blazing sign toward that cause.

 

Windsor, Patricia. Nightwood. NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2006. $7.95 243 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-385-73312-7 P8/Q7 This horror story has all the typical “scary teen movie” ingredients—peer pressure to attend an unauthorized party, oddball types, a heroine who is relatively innocent, build-up to a drastically gory horror scenario at an isolated lakeside community. The story reads well and quickly, the buildup is well done (though slightly predictable with this genre), and the ending is fine. It goes a bit over the top on the gore, but since you don’t

have to see it, what the heck. This should appeal to a teen who likes scary stories to read for fun.

 

DePaolo, Tomie. Little Grunt and the Big Egg: A Prehistoric Fairy Tale. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006 (art & original pub. 1990). $16.99 30 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-399-24529-4 P9/Q8 This story doesn’t appear to have been changed from the original publication, although presumably the text is at least a little different. This new release will appeal to a whole new generation of children. The imaginative stretch that makes it a fairy tale is that people and dinosaurs are living at the same time period. Little Grunt’s pet baby dinosaur grows up to annoy everyone around him until disaster in the form of an erupting volcano hits. The dinosaur’s annoying qualities become the tribe’s saving grace when he rescues them from the hot lava. The art is fun and the typeface readable. The story has been around long enough that one can find reading comprehension activities based on it on the internet (the first I found was for 3rd grade). With the re-release, the publisher puts the target age group as 3-5, but it should continue to appeal to the older children.

 

Durant, Alan. Burger Boy. Illus. by Mei Matsuoka. NY: Clarion Books, 2006 (1st pub in Great Britain 2005). $16.00 ages 2-8 ISBN 0-618-71466-9 P9/Q9 Finicky eaters should be read this book about a boy who will eat nothing but hamburgers. “If that’s all you eat, you’ll turn into one,” is the tagline. With very cute graphics and endpapers as well as an engaging story, this has been consistently the favorite story among 4-7 year olds I’ve tried it on.

 

March 2007 Reviews

 

Book Reviews, March 2007 C.B. INMS/NMS

Bondoux, Anne-Laure, The princetta, translated by Anthea Bell, Bloomsbury, New York, 2004, 430 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:158234924X, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

I read Bondoux’s novel The killer tears and found it to be a difficult read. This book was total enjoyment. The story starts with the forced marriage of the 15-year-old Princetta Malva, who wants to have control of her own future. She escapes in a wine barrel the night before her marriage and her adventure begins. Middle and high school age students will love this fantasy adventure brought to us from France.

 

Collins, Linda, Star-crossed, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006, 408 pgs., glossary, map, $16.95, ISBN:0375833633, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

Patricia Kelly has lived the last 10 years in a boarding school in 18th century England. Now her father has died and left her the plantation in Barbados. With no funds to make her way to Barbados Patricia stows away aboard a merchant ship. She is discovered and the captain has her become an apprentice to the ships surgeons to pay her way.

This unconventional life for a woman soon appeals to Patricia and we find her climbing the rigging of the ship in men’s clothing. This adventure in the first person narrative will appeal to an older audience which loves historical novels.

 

Jennings, Patrick, Wish riders, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2006, 276 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:1423100107, Gr. 8 +, P 7 , Q 7,

Set in a logging camp during the depression 15-year-old Edith struggles to survive her life as a foster child, which is more like slave labor. When a magical seed pod is dropped to Edith, by a bird Edith’s life starts to change. Growing from the seed pods are five horses which Edith and her foster brother and sisters use to escape to a better life. This fantasy book will appeal to older reader.

 

Kirkpatrick, Katherine, Escape Across the Wide Sea, Holiday House, New York, 2004, 210 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0823418545, Gr. 5+, P7, Q7.

In 1686, Daniel Bonnet and his family escaped Catholic France, where they are persecuted for their Huguenot Protestant religion. Daniel, during the escape is bayoneted by a French soldier which handicaps, him for life, during their three year voyage to Guadeloupe. Again they are persecuted for their religion by the French soldiers and they have to escape to New York. This unique book told in the first narrative, gives a first hand look into 16th century France and colonial America. History buffs will be drawn to this book.

 

Lorbieck, Marybeth, Jackie’s bat, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2006, unp., $15.95, ISBN:0689841027, Gr.2+, P7, Q7,

This is a multi faceted book, which could be used in elementary classroom to discuss such topics as discrimination, black history month, and sports heroes. Using muted colored illustration, the relationship between Jackie Robinson, his fans and the bat boy are portrayed. It is Jackie’s ability to overcome odds against him that finally wins him a place in the hearts of his fans and the bat boy, which makes this book appealing to all.

 

Ryan, Amy, Shadowfalls, Delacorte Press, New York, 2005, 216 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0385731329, Gr.9+, P7, Q7.

15 year old Annie McGraw goes to the Jackson Hole valley in Wyoming after her brother fell to his death during a climbing accident, to live with her grandfather. Here Annie traverses the valley where her Talisman (the bear) is soon communicating with her. Annie must come to terms with the grief that is weighing her down and fulfill the dreams of climbing the mountains in which she resides. This poignant novel which deals with grief could be used by those who have suffered similar losses.

 

Winthrop, Elizabeth, Counting on Grace, Wendy Lamb Books, 2006, 232 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:038574644X, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

Grace Forcier and her family have settled in Vermont after leaving their farm in Canada to find work in the factories and have a better life. The factories however have become a hole which the family can not escape from. They owe money for the factory house and to the factory market for the food they have to buy here. When Grace turns twelve she to must go and work in the factory, leaving behind school and her dreams of becoming a teacher. In this story set in 1910 Grace comes to see that her way out the factories is education and that with it she can help her family too. This novel will appeal to those readers who enjoy historical fiction.

 

Wulf, Linda, The Night of the Burning: Devorah’s Story, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2006, 210 pgs, glossary, $16.00, ISBN:0374364192, Gr.8+, P7, Q8.

1920 in a Polish village, the Russian Cossacks attack the Jewish populous killing all except for eleven-year-old Devorah and her sister Nechama. Placed in an orphanage the two sisters survive until Isaac Ochberg, from South Africa comes and takes them to a new life in South Africa. The two sisters are eventually adopted into two different families, and must come to terms with their different situation, one being poor, but loved, the other being rich and snobbish. This historical based novel will appeal to an older audience.

 

Picture Books

Coste, Marion, Finding Joy, illustrated by Yong Chen, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN1590781929, Gr. 1+, P7, Q8.

This book could be used in discussing adoption, families, and the love of children. The message portrayed when Shu-li is found is; “Please care take care of her, No Room for Girls”. Yong Chen’s watercolor illustrations portray Shu-li’s journey from one loving parents arms to another’s arms in another land. An authors note at the end of the story talks about China’s policy of one child, and how boys traditionally take care of their parents.

 

Hawes, Louise, Muti’s necklace: the oldest story in the world, illustrated by Rebecca Guay, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006, unp, $16.00, ISBN:0618535837, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,

Muti is thirteen when she leaves her fathers home in Egypt to serve in the pharaoh’s household. Muti also takes with her the necklace her father had carved for her as a baby. Soon Muti catches the pharaoh’s eye and becomes a rower for him on his barge. Muti, leads the others in rowing and the pharaoh watches her. When Muti drops her necklace and refuses to go on till the necklace is found. Rebecca Guay misty muted water color illustrations bring the story to life. This fairy tale will appeal to young readers. Teachers planning an Egyptian unit will find this book a great read a-loud to start the unit with.

 

Rees, Douglas, Grandy Thaxter’s Helper, illustrated by S.D. Schindler, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2004, unp, $15.95, ISBN:06898 30203, Gr. 3+, P7, Q7.

Grandy Thaxter is busy taking care of her grandchildren, when Mr. Death comes a knocking. It is Grandy Thaxter’s time to go, but she is to busy as Mr. Death soon finds out as she puts him to work. He is so worn out by the end of the book, he is going to come and get her another day. This book may appeal to young readers, but the message that is given that cheating death through hard work is not true.

 

Would, Nick, The Scarab’s secret, illustrated by Christina Balit, Walker & Company, New York, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0802795617, Gr. 3+, P , Q,

The scarab beetle in the Egyptian culture is considered sacred. The Pharaoh visits his tomb one day and his life is saved by following this small beetle. Balit’s bright colorful drawings depict the building of the pharaoh’s tomb and will draw the reader further into this story. Both young and old will find this story a delight to read. Any unit that a teacher is planning on Egypt will find this book a great read to introduce the topic of Egypt.

 

Short Stories

Scary stories, illustrated by Barry Moser, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California, 2006, 182 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0811854140, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

This is a collection of 20 stories featuring various writers. From The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to, The Cremation of Sam McGee, this collection will appeal to middle and high school students, who have a vivid imagination. Barry Mosers’ engravings illustrate the chilling factors of each story.

 

Non Fiction

Allan, Nicholas, Where Willy Went…The big story of a little sperm, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2004, unp, $15.95, ISBN:0375830308, Gr. 5+, P8, Q8.

What a fun book! Willy was a little sperm who had a big job ahead of him. It is a clearly entertaining book that shows the process of reproduction. It is written and illustrated in a way that will appeal to all ages. This book appropriately shows the reproduction system in a way that parents and teachers would not object to.

 

Burgan, Michael, The 19th amendment, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2006, 48 pgs, glossary, index, ISBN:0756512603, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

This book deals with the women’s movement and the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. It features infamous women such as, Elizabeth Candy Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony. The achievements that women went through are

discussed in clear and accurate detail. Photos and posters are featured through out the text for students to see the challenges women faced. This book would be a great addition to any elementary library.

 

Demi, Mary. Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2006, unp, $19.95, ISBN:0689876920, Gr.6+, P7, Q8.

Drawing upon Biblical references, The Lost Books of the Bible, The King James Version, The Life of Mary as seen by Mystics, Demi tells the story of Mary’s life and her Ascension to glory. This is a beautifully illustrated book, but the climate surrounding a public school library collection is less tolerant of book of this nature, then a public library collection. This might be a controversial book in a public school collection.

 

Ingpen, Robert, The Voyage of the Poppykettle, illustrated by Robert Ingpen, Penquin Young Readers Group, New York, 2005, unp, $15.99, ISBN:0698400259, Gr. 4+, P7, Q8.

This is a tale from Australia, where the children of the Geelong celebrate Poppykettle Day every October. Ingpen has brought the tale to life not only with his rich illustrations, but fervent reverence for the story and culture. This folk tale will appeal to children who love stories from other lands, and would fit in nicely with a teacher’s curriculum in folk tales.

 

Rodriguez, Rachel, Through Georgia’s eyes, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2006, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0805077405, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

This book features the life and art of Georgia O’Keeffe. It starts with her younger years and goes through adulthood, describing how she was influenced by nature and the world around her. Julie Pachkis uses cut-paper collages to illustrate O’Keeffe’s work. This book used in the elementary setting could spark an interest for beginning blooming artists.

 

Book Reviews March, 2007 Reviews by S.J., Isaac Newton Magnet School

Elisa Carbone. BLOOD ON THE RIVER. Viking, 2006. $16.99. ISBN 0-670-06060-7. 237 p. Gr 5-8. P 9 Q 9 Eleven-year-old Samuel, an orphan in 1600’s England, is given in to the care of Reverend Hunt who is about to journey to the New World. Samuel is then made page to Captain John Smith and travels with Hunt, Smith, and other colonists to found Jamestown. Samuel learns from Smith an appreciation and manner of dealing with the native peoples as well as the skills necessary to survive in the New World. I find the cover to be misleading. It portrays two Powhatans surveying the settlement, implying

somehow that the story stems from their point of view. In fact, the opposite is true and the plotline reflects the English perspective.

 

T.K. Welsh. THE UNRESOLVED. Dutton Books, 2006. $16.99. ISBN 0-525-47731-4. 149 p. Gr. 7 and up. P 7 Q 8 In June, 1904, New Yorkers experienced a horrifying tragedy. The steamship, Slocum, burned and 1,000 passengers perished. The Unresolved is the story presented from Mallory’s point of view. Mallory was a 15-year-old passenger who died in the tragedy and she narrates this tale of the fire, her death, the following investigation and outcome. It’s a historic fiction novel told with a supernatural point of view as Mallory must linger until justice is done. This novel is suitable for a high school collection.

 

Jennifer Armstrong. THE AMERICAN STORY: 100 True Tales from American History. Il. Roger Roth. Alfred A. Knopt, 2006, $34.95. ISBN 0-375-81256-3. 347 p. Gr. 4-7. P6 Q 7 This is a collection of 100 essays about all things American. Including personalities like Carrie Nation, Bobby Fischer, Ben Franklin, and Maya Lin this book provides an abbreviated, yet concise version of their tales. Not only does it include abbreviated biographies, but information and overview of events like the first permanent North American settlement by Europeans in Fort Caroline to the election of 2000, the Chicago fire, and eruption of Mt. St. Helens. It provides a sampling of Americana as well as history. Organized chronologically and divided into themes it’s a collection many middle grade teachers of US history will want.

 

Gary Paulsen. THE LEGEND OF BASS REEVES: Being the True and Fictional Account of the Most Valient Marshal in the West. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. $15.95. ISBN 0-385-74661-X. 137 p. Gr. 5 – 8. P 10 Q 10 Paulsen demonstrates genuine adoration for his title character, Bass Reeves, a runaway slave who lived among the Creek Indians in Indian Territory prior to the Emancipation Proclamation. Reeves, a real Wild West figure, became a rancher then deputy in the Indian Territory. He was credited for bringing in thousands of fugitives and surviving 14 gunfights. He even served the warrant on his own son. Paulsen interspersed his narrative account of what may have happened to Reeves with what is actually known while making a fascinating read.

 

Katharine Boling. JANUARY 1905. Harcourt Inc., 2004. $16.00. ISBN 0-15-205119-8. 170 p. Gr. 4-7. P 7 Q 7 In a turn of the century mill town twin sisters envy each other’s lives. Pauline works in the cotton mill and is jealous of her sister’s ability to stay home and enjoy leisurely days. Arlene, born with a club foot, cannot work the mill and must stay home to

maintain the house and fix all meals. She longs to interact with others and earn money for the family in the mill. The harsh realities of life in a mill town are explored in this narrative told from each sister’s point of view in alternating chapters.

 

Joanne Bell. BREAKING TRAIL. A Groundwood Book, 2005. $15.95. ISBN 0-88899-630-6. 135 p. Gr 5 – 7. P 6 Q 7 Becky feels at a loss as her father sinks into a severe depression; she wants to help him regain his old self, but she isn’t sure how. Becky remembers good times as her father’s helper learning to care for the dogs in his sled-dog team. She resolves to raise and train her own team and is convinced that her actions will assist her father in overcoming depression. Breaking Trail is the story of Becky and her family’s trek to their summer cabin where she combats her own sense of insecurity and place in the family that is plagued by her father’s mental illness.

 

Sofia Nordin. IN THE WILD. A Groundwood Book, 2003. $15.95. ISBN 0-88899-648-9. 115 p. Gr. 4 – 7. P 7 Q 8 Sixth grader, Amanda, is the brunt of her classmates’ jokes. She doesn’t fit in and they continually remind her of that, so the last place she wants to be is on a week-long adventure trip with them. Miserably ostracized she attends the school sponsored excursion only to be swept down river on the rafting trip by out of control white water. She’s stranded with Philip her primary tormentor. In their ensuing days together, Philip demonstrates respect for Amanda’s survival abilities and she learns that friendship with him is possible. Readers who liked Hatchet and other survival stories will be drawn to this novel. They will find a unique twist when they discover it is told from the point of view of the class scapegoat.

 

Lucy Jane Bledsoe. THE ANTARCTIC SCOOP. Holiday House, 2003. $16.95. ISBN 0-8234-1792-1. 168 p. Gr 4 – 7. P 5 Q 5 Trapped in school and only twelve years old, Victoria dreams of astronomy, space, and time travel yet finds herself grounded and in trouble for her vivid imaginings. She’s disconnected from her classmates and more into computers than friendships when she finds she’s won a science contest and is the recipient of a trip to Antarctica. Along the way Victoria discovers that the people sponsoring the trip don’t have the unblemished continent’s best interests at heart. Victoria is able to thwart their schemes and still achieve her dreams of meeting and assisting a premiere astronomer.

 

JT Petty. THE SQUAMPKIN PATCH: A Nasselrogt Adventure. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. $15.95. ISBN-13 978-1-4169-0274-4. 250 p. Gr. 4 – 7. P 9 Q 8 In the tradition of a Series of Unfortunate Events, The Squampkin Patch, follows the misadventures of two siblings as they mistakenly believe their parents have died. First

they are forced into labor in a cruel orphanage/zipper factory and then, after they make their escape they inhabit an abandoned home where a series of strange events unfold. If the current trend in children’s fiction is gloom and doom stories then this one fills the bill, but falls short with this reviewer as any sort of satisfying fare.

 

Book Reviews by B.R. Yaquina View Elementary March 2007

Steinhofel, Andreas. An Elk Dropped In. Ills. by Kerstin Meyer. ISBN 1932425802. 80 Pgs. $16.95. Grades 2nd-4th. (Q5, P6) This Christmas story, translated from German, gives a different spin on Father Christmas, Santa Claus, than any other I have ever read. Mr. Moose is on a trial run for Santa, real reindeer is much too dainty for such risky business, crashes through the roof of Billy Wagner’s house. Where he lands on the kitchen table bought from Ikea. He injuries his leg and stays till it heals and Father Christmas comes to collect him. This story deals with not only the myth of Father Christmas, is he real or not, and the situation of divorce in the family. I question, is it alright to portray Father Christmas as being able to reunite Mom and Dad? Is that giving hope to children that might not be there? The book also pictures a moose and even calls him Mr. Moose, but continues to say he is an elk.

 

Baum, Louis. The Mouse Who Braved Bedtime. Ills. by Sue Hellard. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 1582346917. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P6) Milo, the mouse, has nightmares every night and couldn’t seem to get rid of them. His friends all give him suggestions of what to do before he went to bed at night. Although Milo followed the suggestions, he still continued to have the bad dreams. A cup of warm milk, open a window for fresh air, exercising, nothing helped him sleep. He finally faced his bad dream one night and found out that it was just a tiny field mouse that had been trying to wake Milo to play each night.

 

Hutchins, Pat. Bumpety Bump. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0060560002 Unp. $16.89. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q4, P6) A boy and his grandfather take the wheelbarrow to the garden to pick vegetables and fruits as the little red hen follow them. When they get to the end the little red hen leads them to the hen house to show them she can lay eggs. The illustrations are colorful and show not only the plants above ground they also show the root systems of the plants. This book could be used with a unit on growing plants and vegetables. As a read aloud book the text flows easily except for a couple of pages where the rhyming seems to disappear.

 

Cooper Elisha. A Good Night Walk. Orchard Books, c2006. ISBN 0439687837 Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) “Let’s go for a walk along the block, and see what we can see, before it’s time for bed.” This opening sentence sets the stage for an adventure walking in the neighborhood. The neighbor has finished her gardening and is sitting on her wheelbarrow. Squirrels are running, the cat resting under the apple tree, the smell of apple pie, are but a few of the normal everyday happenings in a neighborhood. When they get to the end of the block and reverse their walk, the neighborhood is settling down to sleep. The pie has been eaten, the cat and squirrels are asleep, and the neighbor has gone in for the evening. The watercolor illustrations are simple but children will enjoy looking for the happenings which the text describes. A great bedtime story for settling down.

 

Gibbons, Gail. Groundhog Day!. Holiday House, c2006. ISBN 0823420035 32 pgs. $16.95. Grades PreS-5th. (Q7, P5) While Groundhog Day isn’t a large holiday, Gail Gibbons has written a wonderfully fun and informative book about it. She begins with the history for its beginnings and follows up with lots of information about groundhogs. In the back of the book she has included a page on digging up groundhog facts. The illustrations range from showing groundhogs peeking up out of the snowy February ground, the presenting of the groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., to the groundhogs underground living chambers and finally children celebrating the holiday. A wonderful book for teaching about Groundhog Day.

 

Rawlinson, Julia. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves. Ills. by Tiphanie Beeke. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0061134015. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P7) Fall has arrived and Fletcher, the baby fox, is worried watching the leaves fall off his favorite tree. He tries to tie a leaf back on with a piece of grass, stick a leaf back on with a twig, and then he finds that others use the discarded leaves for themselves. When he finally realizes he cannot save the leaves he takes one to his den and carefully tucks it into bed with him. At dawn he wakes up to a cold morning and finds the tree beautiful and shinning with ice. This book would be great to lead into a teaching unit for autumn.

 

Krensky Stephen, Hanukkah at Valley Forge. Ills by Greg Harlin. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525477381. Unp. $17.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q7, P5) December, 1778, at Valley Forge was cold and miserable for George Washington and his troops. They were fighting for America. Washington unexpectedly sees a soldier lighting a candle. The soldier explains that he is celebrating Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday. He goes on to tell how the Maccabees and the Greeks fought during ancient times. Washington and the soldier talk about the similarities between their ancient fight and the current War of Independence. The author’s note tells that the story is based on facts but the story must be taken on faith as there is no written documentation from Washington himself. This story would be appropriate for history and religious classes.

 

Post, Peggy & Cindy Post Senning, ED.D. Emily’s Everyday Manners. Ills. By Steve B. Jorkman. Harper Collins, c2006. ISBN 0060761741. Unp. &16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P6) An updated version of good manners, this book will be fun to read to young children and create a dialog about their own manners. Not only the text promotes good manners, the cheerful illustrations will help reinforce them. It also gives examples of how and when to use those manners. An after word to adults explains that parents not only need to tell children about using good manners that if they don’t show them they will not learn.

 

Cooper, Elisha. Bear Dreams. Greenwillow Books, c2006. ISBN 0060874287 Unp. &16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q5, P7) Bear is not ready to sleep and goes outside to play with the other animals. He wants to do what they do, race with the rabbits, wrestle with the moose, climb trees, and fly with the geese. When the other animals are tired Bear still wants to play. Finally he lays down to sleep and Mother and Father carry him off to the warm cave for the winter. The watercolor pictures are cute.

Hilliard, Richard. Godspeed, John Glenn. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590783840. Unp. $16.95. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) From a young boy John Glenn had a fascination of flying through the sky. This book outlines his young life till he becomes an astronaut and into his adult life. It tells of his flight aboard Friendship 7 and his fiery reentry into the atmosphere and the safe landing. The book contains sidebars on each page giving somewhat detailed information. While the people in the acrylic illustrations seem somewhat stiff the pictures of the blast-off are striking.

 

Wechsler, Doug. Frog Heaven Ecology of a Vernal Pool. Boyds Mills Press, c2006. ISBN 1590782534. 46 pgs. $17.95. Grades 3-8th. (Q7, P5) Doug Wechsler, naturalist-photographer offers a close-up look at a vernal pool in Delaware. He takes us through a year of happenings of an interconnected ecosystem that depends on the pool and the fact that it dries up annually. Because of the pool drying up fish are not sustained but other animals (frogs, salamanders, snakes, fairy shrimp, and more) flourish. In the first four chapters Wechsler describes the how the pool changes through the seasons. The final chapter discusses preservation of vernal pools. The photographs are sharp showing much detail. The book concludes with a glossary and a list of recommended books and web sites for further explorations.

 

Pringle, Laurence. American Slave, American Hero York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Ills. by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. Calkins Creek Books, c2006. ISBN 1590782828.40 pgs. $17.95. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q7, P5) Laurence Pringle explores the life of York, a slave of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In the book Pringle occasionally uses the word “probably” because little is known about some times in his life. It was against the law for slaves to read or write so York was not able to write about his own adventures. The book goes from the birth of the two (Clark and York) traveling to their young lives through the expedition and

ending when York dies of the disease cholera. Details of York’s death and burial place are mysteries. This is a must for anybody or class which is studying the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

 

Latifah, Queen. Queen of the Scene. Harper Collins, c2006. Ills. by Frank Morrison. ISBN 0060778563. Unp. $16.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q5, P7) Self-esteem, this girl has it all. She is the best in all she does: basketball, baseball, running, football. She believes in herself, almost too much till you get to the end. At the end of the day she, like all children, has to be home by dark, where her parents are waiting for her on the porch. This very empowering story for girls is written in rhyme which can be bumpy at times.

 

Zolotow, Charlotte. If It Weren’t For You. Ills. by G. Brian Karas. Harper Colllins,C2006. ISBN 0060278757. Unp. $15.99. Grades 1st-3rd. (Q4, P6) How fun would it be to tell your sibling how much fun it would be without her? Yes, for the child it might be great but from the point of view of a parent it seems this book is completely negative. “If it weren’t for you” I would have all the cake, all the candy, my own room, would not have to share anything. Even at the end of the book, “If it weren’t for you I’d have to be alone with the grown-ups”.

 

Funny Cide Team. A Horse Named Funny Cide. Ills. by Barry Moser. G.P. Putman Sons, c2006. ISBN 039924462X. 31 pgs. $16.99. Grades Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) A small horse with a big heart, Funny Cide, was born in New York. Not many people thought he would be a great race horse. A persistent trainer, a hard-luck jockey and a group of school-buddies, who bought the horse, believed in Cide who became a winner of the famous Kentucky Derby. Cide also raced in the Preakness and won, but when it came to the third race of the Triple Crown at Belmont, he didn’t have enough stamina to finish strong. He came in third, but when he left the track, the entire crow cheered for Cide.

 

Dubowski, Cathy East. Clara Barton I Want to Help!. Bearport Publishing, c2006. ISBN 159716075X 32 pgs. $23.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) Clara Barton was a late-born daughter who had four brothers and sisters. She was afraid of almost everything especially people. She became a teacher and established the first free school in Bordentown, New Jersey in 1852. From there she worked in the U.S. Patent Office and when the Civil War broke out she helped the shoulders with food and other necessities. She helped wounded soldiers and became the first president of the American Red Cross. This is one of a series of Defining Moments books which are simple straightforward biographies of historical figures.

 

Russell, Babrara Timberlake. Maggie’s Amerikay. Ills. by Jim Burke. Melanie Kropua Books, c2006. ISBN 0374347220. Unp. $17.00. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q6, P5) It’s 1898 when Maggie McCrary and her family immigrate to America. In New Orleans

Maggie makes friends with an African American boy who finds her a job writing down the experiences of Daddy Clements. As Daddy Clements tells his stories the two compare how each others cultures parallel the other, their struggles and accomplishments. The illustrations captures the time period perfectly. This would be a wonderful book to read to classes which will be studying immigrants.

 

Benton, Jim. The Fran with Four Brains. Simon & Schuster, c2006. ISBN 1416902317. 104 Pgs. $14.95. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q6, P8) The seventh book in Jim Benton’s series of Franny K. Stein Mad Scientist looks to be another book children will love to read. This time Franny’s mother keeps her so busy she decided to make three Franbots so she could get some rest. But while Fran gets some rest, the Franbots are so busy they keep Mom busy and she becomes tired. Fran decides to slow down her bots, but it doesn’t work and the results are quite funny.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by Nel Ward

 

Nonfiction

Low, William. Old Penn Station. $16.95. Holt, 2007. 0-8050-7925-4. Unp. Ages 5-8: Before Madison Square Garden, Penn Station was a magnificent train station with “a magical spider-web of metal and glass” in the concourse and elegant amenities such as “the fabulous Savarin Restaurant.” The author/illustrator brings this theater of art back from its destruction beginning with his master’s thesis project, a series of ten oil paintings, painstakingly taken from old photographs and his imagination. The resulting drama is a fascinating history, but the artwork, created from computer-layering blotches of color to form texture seems too muddy and abstract for a picture book. It might work better for a distant illustration. The brush strokes seem artificial and strained. Another issue is that there is almost no diversity in the human images; even the porter is Anglo. Yet the book is a marvelous piece of history that will delight adults who want to look back to a “palace” destroyed in the early 1960s. P7Q7.

 

Redsand, Anna S. Viktor Frankel: A Life Worth Living. Clarion, 2006. $19.00. 0-618-7243-9. 150p. Ages 10-14: The world of psychotherapy may be different because this Viennese man survived the Nazi concentration camps during World War II when 11 million people died in the German purge. His development of logotherapy, which encourages patients to look to the future and live their lives fully rather than to relive the past, began before his incarceration and expanded after his release beginning with his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In large format with many photographs, this richly compelling biography chronicles the incredible struggles and obstacles that Frankel, who lost his entire family in the Holocaust, overcame. P5Q8

 

Shea, Pegi Deitz. Patience Wright: America’s First Sculptor and Revolutionary Spy. Il. Bethanne Anderson. Holt, 2007. $17.95. 0-8050-6770-1. Unp. Ages 5-9: Possibly America’s first international female entrepreneur, Wright, a widow with four children, was able to get information from the British plotting against the revolutionaries and send messages back to her country in the busts of people that she had formed. Although young people will not be familiar with many of the people referred to in the book, there is enough excitement to keep them interested–fire, cold, death, and female independence. The information about how Wright created her sculptures will also keep their interest, particularly the method in which she shaped wax faces under her skirts while the customers posed and then pulled them out. The gouache illustrations for the book, primarily of people, create a bold feel, especially the life-like bust of Benjamin Franklin in a box. A fun book about a woman who lived an extraorinary life, full of art and intrigue. P6Q8

 

Poetry

Kuskin, Karla. Green as a Bean. Il. Melissa Iwai. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-075332-3. Unp. Ages 3-6: Parts of text first published in 1960 gains new artwork which culminates in a boy reading a book about a boy reading a book…you get the idea. The concepts result in a mish-mash from colors and the one shape of square to those not visible such as loud, soft, and fierce. There seems to be no reason for which concepts were selected, and the illustrations are fuzzy and a bit muddy. The text sometimes fails to scan and doesn’t evoke much excitement, even with a dragon. A disappointing re-hash that should have stayed in the past. P7Q5

 

Walker, Alice. Why War Is Never a Good Idea. Il. Stefano Vitale. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-075385-4. Unp. Ages 4+: War has grown old but not wise as it wantonly destroys beautiful things and people with no consideration for the consequences. This is the premise found in this book filled with richly-colored, somewhat naif illustrations beginning with the statement: “Though War speaks/Every language/It never knows/What to say/To frogs.” The artwork moves from golden bucolic scenes through increasingly dark scenes engendered by the white cloud from an airplane (which blocks almost the entire two-page spread) and destroyed landscapes. The publication date of this book is set for 9/21/07, the International Day of Peace. Some of the proceeds will be donated to Code Pink, Women for Peace. P8Q10.

 

Picture Books

Portis, Antoinette. Not a Box. Laura Geringer Books, 2006. $12.99. 0-06-112322-6. Unp. Ages 2-5: A plain brown book (without even a cover) holds secrets of imagination as questions address why the rabbit (in simple black outline) why it is sitting in, standing on or in, wearing, or squirting a box. The answer is always “It’s not a box” with the answer to the final question, “It’s my Not a Box!” Concepts of body positions are delightfully shown through the line drawings with the imagination displayed in slightly more elaborate red, white, and black drawings on yellow. A joyful flight into a child’s imagination with a non-gendered character. P8Q8

 

Urbanovic, Jackie. Duck at the Door. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-121438-8. Unp. Ages 4-7: A plethora of pets accompany their owner, Irene, when a lone duck pounds on the front door in a wintry storm. Charming watercolors accompany the clear and brief text as Irene adopts the duck, who had failed to migrate because it wanted to see winter and who becomes more and more of a nuisance with his obsession with television and cooking. In spring, Max the duck goes back to his flock, and all the creatures miss him. But in the fall, he returns…with his entire flock! Although the illustrations are delightful, they can be confusing if examined carefully because some of the pets change color and personalities. But with so many of them (a baker’s dozen), this may not be an issue for less anal readers. P8Q8 Fiction

 

Blume, Lesley, M.M. The Rising Star of Rusty Nail. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-93524-4. 273p. Ages 9-13: Meet Franny Hansen–a 10-year-old piano virtuoso in McCarthy-era small-town America. She has long exhausted the talents of Rusty Nail’s only piano teacher and seems destined to perform at church events and school assemblies until a mysterious Russian woman arrives in town. The book is a mixture of humorous events as Franny and her friend Sandy play pranks on their enemies and a view of 1950s bigotry toward the “Commies.” Some of the characters do change although they don’t actually develop. And many of the situations are improbable: when Franny loses a contest because the banker bribes the judges, everyone immediately turns against him; Franny gets a chance to attend Julliard during the summer months; and Franny’s mother makes an instant 180-degree turn in her prejudice. The characters are too broadly drawn with no feeling for them as people. Yet, the book has great heart, good writing, and fun situations. P6Q7

 

Brande, Robin. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-84349-5. 265p. Ages 12+: Mena Reese’s life is turned upside down the summer before her high school freshman year when her fundamentalist church and her parents shun her. Her sin? She had written a letter to a young man who tried to commit suicide because other young people in the church had terrorized him for being gay. The plot is carefully laid out throughout the book with the reader not knowing what the issue behind the rejection was, as Mena slowly comes out of her shell with the help of a brilliant science teacher, a classmate who befriends her, and the boy’s older sister. Mena’s first-person narration tells of her slowly understanding that she can believe in both evolution and God. The author has created complex characters with other issues such as her friends’ grief after losing their father, and the action lacks the didactic approach that other “message” books have. P7Q8

 

Couloumbis, Audrey. Maude March on the Run! Random House, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83246-8. 308p. Ages 10-14: Twelve-year-old Sallie and her older sister, Maude, are once again running from the law after five months with an uncle in Independence, Missouri. The author of The Misadventures of Maude March take readers on a dizzying fast-paced, delightfully rowdy, and altogether heartwarming ride west to the Colorado Territory after bounty hunters see the “terrifying” Maude working as a waitress. As always, Sallie calls the shots with a little help from a journalist, the “hero” of dime novels, and a couple selling fake medicine. May Sallie and Maude ride again! P7Q9

George, Jessica Day. Dragon Slippers. Bloomsbury, 2007. $16.95. 324p. Ages 10+: In a ploy by her aunt to lure a heroic knight with money, Creel meets a dragon, bargains with him for her life, and ends of with a pair of blue slippers that sets a series of disasters into action. In this newest–and delightful–addition to dragon-lore, the author presents a believable and likable protagonist and another dragon family not seen for many years. And of course, there’s the charming, unassuming prince who rescues Creel from a life of poverty (she embroiders) while she saves his kingdom. We can only hope for a sequel! P8Q8

 

Hale, Shannon. Austenland. Bloomsbury, 2007. $19.95. 1-579691-285-5. 197p. Ages 13+: From the award-winning author of such young adult novels as The Goose Girls and Princess Academy comes this novel with a 30+ woman who is obsessed with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Her obsession is carried out when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women. The story covers the three weeks at this resort, showing how boring Victorian life actually was and helping our heroine, Jane Hayes, find her way out of the obsession. As always, the narrative is filled with humor as Hale describes Jane’s 12 “boyfriends” from childhood to the present and Jane’s struggle to overcome the type to which she is attracted. P8Q8

 

Jolin, Paula. In the Name of God. Roaring Brook, 2007. $16.95. 1-579643-211-X. 208p. Ages 13+: In her attempt to be the best Muslin she can be, 17-year-old Nadia finds herself drawn into the world of Islamic fundamentalism, contemplating the ultimate sacrifice to take a stand for her people in Syria and her religion. Jolin has well described the living conditions and people’s attitudes in the Middle East in this exploration of the economic and social struggles of her country and the civil war raging in Iraq. A first novel, this bodes well for future books from this author, who spend most of the last decade living and working in the Middle East. P8Q8

 

Rinaldi, Ann. An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00 0-15-205597-5. 241p. Ages 12+: The wife of Abraham Lincoln and her African-American seamstress were born in the same year–1818–but followed very different paths despite the close friendship that they developed when Lincoln moved to the White House in 1861. When, in her childhood, Mary’s mother died, she struggled to cope with her new stepmother who sent her to a boarding school nearby during Mary’s adolescence. Keckley, the daughter of a plantation owner, was sexually abused when her father gave her to his son who then loaned her out to a violent neighbor. This book lacks the energy and enthusiasm of earlier Rinaldi historical novels, a disappointment for those who have enjoyed earlier books. The connection is so slight in the book that the author might have been better off if she had kept to one or the other of these protagonists. P6Q7

 

Sharenow, Robert. My Mother the Cheerleader. Laura Geringer Books, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-114897-0. 300p. Ages 12+: In 1960, the Ninth Ward of New Orleans was primarily white, albeit poor, with segregated schools. All this changed when the court ordered the schools desegregated. The volatile situation is seen from the point of view of 13-year-old Louise Lorraine Collins, no longer in school and left to help operate a run-down boarding house while her mother joins the “cheerleaders,” a group of women who gather every morning to heckle six-year-old Ruby Bridges, the school’s first African-American student. Louise watches the hate and bigotry grow as she develops a crush on a new boarder, a Northerner, who is discovered to be a Jew and therefore must be eliminated by the Southerners trying to preserve an out-dated way of life. The author knows his subject, having grown up there, and his writing. A strong first novel with hopes of much more to come. P7Q9

 

Weinheimer, Beckie. Converting Kate. Viking, 2007. $16.99. 0-670-06152-5. 314p. Ages 12+: Raised in the Church of the Holy Divine, Kate decides to leave the faith, although not her belief in God, when her nonreligious father unexpectedly dies. But when her mother moves her across the county to an aunt’s home where Kate has an entirely new school and her mother operates a bed & breakfast, the Church is still there. And cruel as Kate finds when she becomes friends with a new local minister who is gay. Although the author presents the issues well, her attempts to be fair about the mother’s protecting Kate after presenting her as a hateful person seem jarring. A first novel, it is still an engaging book that discusses the issues of fundamentalist religion and its influences. P8Q7

 

Book Reviews – March 2007 L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School

 

Fiction Selections:

Van Allsburg, Chris. Probuditi!. Hougton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006. $18.95 ISBN: 978-0-618-75502-8 p. Gr. K-3. Everytime we think Chris can’t possibly come up with a quirkier, funnier or more creative story, he does. Probuditi! Is no exception to this, but it’s certainly a different sort of storytelling for him, as it’s no fantasy. Character development is rich, and listeners will be readily be able to identify with the two boys and the trouble they get into, by hypnotizing little sister into thinking she is a dog. The story takes us all over the hot and steamy town, and Chris’ rich sepia-tone pencil drawings truly transport us to the scene. While this is a great read-aloud for elementary students, teachers may be cautioned that the suspense may be too much for very young and sensitive. As a note of interest, every Van Allsburg book features Fritz, a now-deceased bull terrier that is based on a real-life dog owned by brother-in-law. In this book, he appears as a teakettle! P8 Q9

 

Murphy, Jim. Fergus and the Night -Demon: an Irish ghost story. Illustrated by John Manders. Hougton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2006. $16.00 ISBN: 978-0-618-

33955-6 p. Gr. 3-7. This interesting account of an Irish phantom who specializes in terrorizing lazy boys is one sure to excite and engage young readers and give them a taste of blarney, to boot. Protagonist Fergus is that lazy kid that who is gifted in fast talking and thinking and uses his glib to give the demon the slip, but just barely! In the end Fergus redeems himself and vows to be a hardworking lad, so the demon will never find him again. The illustrations are lively and serve the text well; this is a great read-aloud for young classrooms or older groups studying folklore. P7 Q7

 

Nonfiction Selections:

Goodman, Susan E. Gee Whiz! It’s all about Pee. Illustrated by Elwood H. Smith . Viking, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 0-670-06064-X 40 p. Gr. 3-8. This book has everything that will make it fly off middle school library shelves: gross subject matter, humorous illustrations, puns to keep teachers happy, whiz bang facts (OK, pun intended there), and scintillating writing. It is the marriage of Captain Underpants with Dr. Science, Mister Rogers with Bart Simpson. For me, it was the end of the search: I have for years wondered what happened to astronaut pee. I know now: it’s ejaculated into space, where, as Astronaut Wally Shirra called it, it creates “Constellation Urion.” Of course, they also mentioned that “seventy-two rats pee about as much as one astronaut;” how they researched this book I am not sure I want to know. P9 Q9

 

Robbins, Ken. Seeds. Antheneum, New York, 2005 . $15.95 ISBN:0-689-85041-7 p. Gr. PK-2. This beautiful little book would be a real asset to any elementary school library or classroom, where it might be used to supplement a unit on seeds. The photos are incredible and text layout is clear and well thought out, making this book a great read aloud. P7 Q9

 

Deary, Terry. Wicked History of the World: History with the nasty bits left in!. Illustrated by Martin Brown. Scholastic, New York, 2003. $10.99 ISBN: 0-439-87786-5 99 p. Gr. 3-7. To be honest, I’m not a world history buff so it’s hard for me to know how accurate (or not) this book is, but I found it to be one of the most entertaining and engrossing books I’ve read for a long time. A full-color, expanded version of theauthor’s Horrible Histories series, this very detailed collection of historical tidbits from caveman to Hitler focuses on the bad boys of history: vicious villains, cruel criminals, evil explorers, et al. Profusely illustrated and creatively organized, this book would inspire classroom humorists to peruse history texts for materials. Peppered liberally with British slang and humor, the editor fortunately includes a British to American glossary in the back of the book. P8 Q8

 

Coleman, Penny. Adventurous Women: eight true stories about women who made a difference. Henry Holt & Company, New York, 2006. $18.95 ISBN: 0-8050-7744-8 186 p. Gr. 3-7. This book covers the lives of eight women: Louise Boyd, Mary Gibson Henry, Juana Briones, Alice Hamilton, Mary McLeod Berthune, Katharine Wormeley, Biddy Mason, and Peggy Hull. While the writing is very well done, research meticulous, and the subject matter interesting, the presentation and organization make this text unnecessarily dull. That said, it’s still a good place to find information on lesser-known

women adventurers and deserves a spot on any middle school library shelves. Includes brief chronologies, a list of places to visit where these women have been memorialized, acknowledgments, source notes, bibliography, webliography, photo credits, and index. P6 Q6

 

Allen, Judy. Unexplained. Kingfisher, Boston, 2006. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-7534-5950 144 p. Gr. 4-7. Yet another “wowie-zowie” tome from Kingfisher that is certain to get lots of circulation in any middle school library, Unexplained provides but an appetizer of information. Nicely organized and presented, it’s still a great addition and covers topics not commonly represented in juvenile literature. Includes P8 Q7

 

Bohannan, Lisa Frederiksen. Woman’s Work: the story of Betty Friedan. Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Greensboro, N.C., 2004. $24.95 ISBN: 1-931798-41-9 144 p. Gr. 3-7. This is a well-written account of a very interesting woman. The author treats Friedan with respect and awe, but still presents an honest account of her foibles and fears, revealing a character that teens will readily relate to. Unfortunately, this book is not one that would be very popular in school libraries, partially because the presentation is so dull. If the format of the pages had been larger, for example, the photos and clippings that are reproduced in the book might have more appeal and readability. P5 Q7

 

Book Reviews March 2007, A.G. LCSD Indian Ed.

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. Roxie and the Hooligans. NY: Ginee Seo Books/Atheneum, 2006. $15.95 116 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-0243-0 P7/Q7 This fanciful tale of a bullied girl takes her and her tormentors (the Hooligans) to a deserted island where they must hide from robbers. Roxie’s familiarity with survival skills saves the day and wins respect from the Hooligans. The lesson: be confident in who you are because eventually your detractors will learn you are all right, especially if you save their lives. This is an easy early chapter book with occasional amusing illustrations to relieve the text.

 

Llewellyn, Sam. The Return of Death Eric. NY: Walker & Co., 2006 (1st pub. in Great Britain). $16.95 239 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-8027-8951 P8/Q6 “Death Eric” is the name of a has-been heavy metal group a’la Ozzie Osborne. Eric has two perfect children who decry their loss of great income when the group’s agent takes off with the money. They orchestrate the group into performing again. A heavy-handed satire, the story never misses an opportunity to bring out the most garish of the heavy metal scene, but there’s nothing to scandalize a reader. It’s almost a fairy tale in its style, and taken in that light it’s a fun read.

 

Woods, Brenda. My Name Is Sally Little Song. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. $15.99 183 pp. ges 10 up ISBN 0-399-24312-7 P8/Q8 Sally May Harrison is an 11-year-old field slave on a Georgia plantation in 1802. Her family is still intact, but when the master intends to send some of the family away to help his relative, the slave family decides to run away—south rather than north. They seek shelter with the Seminole Tribe in Florida. Written first person, this simple story is like many in the “Dear America” genre—easy to read with short chapters. It gives a genuine feeling both for the everyday reality of southern slavery and for the ways in which the Native tribes interacted with and intermarried with the runaway slaves.

 

Moranville, Sharelle Byars. A Higher Geometry, a Novel. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2006. $16.95 212 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-8050-7470-8 P8/Q9 It’s sometimes hard to get today’s teens to understand the way it was, the way in which women of the 1950’s were pressured, however subtly, to achieve at home and not in academics. This story of a rural, middle-America teen girl who loves math theory illustrates the various pressures while still being an enjoyable story. It’s the story of 15-year-old Anna who has a boyfriend but doesn’t like home ec, she prefers math class. By the end of the story she’s overcome her parents’ objections and competed in a national math competition. It’s a sweet story with detail that evokes the time (I’d forgotten the smell of Niagara starch coming from just-ironed clothes!)

 

Scdoris, Rachael & Rick Steber. No End in Sight: My Life As a Blind Iditarod Racer. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. $22.95 278 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 0-312-35273-5 P7/Q9 Rachael Scdoris received a lot of press when she challenged the Iditarod organizers to let her participate with a “visual interpreter” (a person driving another dog team who would warn her of pitfalls). It made the race a household word around the country. This book gives her side of the story, from her early years trying to convince her father to let her mush to the more recent competitions to which she had to fight. The details of the Oregon landscape will ring true to Oregonians. Although it looks long, the book is fast-moving and well-written. It should provide inspiration to physically challenged people.

 

Hagerup, Klaus. Markus + Diana. Honesdale, PA: Front Street /Boyds Mills Press, 2006. $17.95 188 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 978-1-932425-59-8 P8/Q8 Ever wonder what goes on in the heads of those awkward 13-year-old boys who act really weird? This novel gives some insight, and perhaps useful insight for teen girls who can’t figure them out. Set in Norway (it was originally published in Norwegian), the book also gives an interesting view of modern Norwegian teens’ lives. Markus has a hobby of collecting autographs of famous people, and writes in hyperbole (if not actual lies) when he writes to them to obtain their autograph. One day he goes a little too far, and attracts the attentions of a movie starlet. Learning how to be himself without posing is the lesson of the story.

 

Dowd, Siolehan. A Swift Pure Cry. NY: David Fickling Books (Random House), 2006 (released 2007) (first pub. in Great Britain). $16.99 320 pp. ages 14 up. ISBN 978-0-385-75108-7 P7/Q8 This is (surprisingly) a mystery, centered on an Irish teenager with a widowed, alcoholic father and two younger siblings. She gets sexually active with a rich, self-centered boy, gets used and left behind. The mystery involves (without giving it away) the body of a baby found in a sea cave. The story is sweet and compelling, realistic in terms of the family dynamics and social scenario. There are no graphic sex scenes; it’s more by implication. Although not too happy, the story does have a relatively positive ending. Set in Ireland, it gives some feel for the place and social setting. It could serve as a warning for teens considering the consequences of their actions, as well as being an interesting tale.

 

Durrant, Lynda. My Last Skirt: The Story of Jenny Hodgers, Union Soldier. NY: Clarion Books, 2006. $16.00 196 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-618-57490-5 P8/Q8 Based on the real life of the only woman to ever get a Civil War soldier’s pension, this historical novel is fascinating. Since it sticks to Jenny Hodgers/Albert Cashier’s real life story, it doesn’t have a sole climactic moment but works more as a journal in the tradition of the “Dear America” series and is written in first-person. It gives a genuine feel for life as an Irish peasant to life as a mid-19th century immigrant to America, especially in regards to the economics of gender. Jenny begins to dress like and pass as a boy in Ireland in order to get a good-paying job, and the trick continues to work in America. The only reason she dresses trans-gender is because she can get better pay and live easier as a male; the story does not address sexuality issues other than that.

 

Picture Books 

Isaacs, Anne. Illustrated by Mark Teague. Pancakes for Supper. NY: Scholastic Press, 2006. $15.99 38 pp. ages 7 up ISBN 0-439-64483-6 P7/Q7 Pancakes have virtually no place in this story, except at the end and the recipe on the back cover. The plot has to do with the old theme of tricking predators into defeating themselves. Set in the snowy northeastern US at a pre-industrial time, the story contains a number of North American predators—from eagles to cougars—who set upon a girl, wanting to eat her up. Toby has to use her wits (and fortunately has layers of clothes she’s wearing against the bitter cold) and turn the animals against each other. The typeface is regular and clear enough for early readers. The illustrations are reminiscent of the 1930’s style, and are wonderful characterizations of the animals.

 

Winthrop, Elizabeth. Illustrated by Pat Cummings. Squashed in the Middle. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2005. $16.95 28 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8050-6497-4 P7/Q7 As a middle child, Daisy can’t get any respect. No one will listen to her. This story is about how she finally becomes assertive and simply does what she tells everyone she was going to do (visit a friend) but they wouldn’t listen. When they come to find her, she explains that no one listens to her and finally they get the point. The illustrations are good, and I’m sure many middle children could relate to her story. The point of the book may be a bit lost on children and is more aimed at the adults who fail to listen.

 

Poydar, Nancy. The Bad-News Report Card. NY: Holiday House, 2006. $16.95 29 pp. ages 6-8 ISBN 0-8234-1992-4 P8/Q8 The author, a former elementary school teacher, obviously knows how worried kids can get about their report cards. This story deals with one girl’s anxiety and the inappropriate way with which she dealt with it (hiding the report card instead of bringing it home). The report turns out to be much better than she imagined, and the ending is a

happy one. This story might be a good read-aloud for a class getting their first report cards. The typeface is legible, it introduces appropriate vocabulary, and the art is simple but fun.

 

Dolenz, Micky. Illustrated by David Clark. Gakky Two-Feet. NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. $16.99 29 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-399-24468-9 P7/Q7 Gakky is an early hominid—the sort of missing link between monkey and human that stands on two feet. The story attempts to point out the survival value of walking upright and why it might have led to two-leggeds inheriting the Earth. The illustrations are lively and cute. The story line is fine, dealing with the taunts of others when a person is different, though a bit shallow. The vocabulary is just challenging enough that it might be best as a read-aloud, particularly in the early grades to teach the principles of natural selection. It’s written by the drummer for the 60’s band “The Monkees”; coincidence?

 

Armstrong, Jennifer. Illustrated by David Small. Once Upon a Banana. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $16.95 36 pp. ages 4-8 ISBN 0-689-84251-1 P7/Q7 This is a book of very few words; in fact the only words in it are the various street signs in the pictures. The story line begins with a monkey who eats a banana and throws the peel: not in the garbage but on the sidewalk where someone inevitably slips on it. The rest of the book is page after page of the strong of unfortunate consequences that ensue after the first person slips and falls, hitting a ladder….etc etc. It provides action that a child or someone reading to a child can embellish, comment upon, or just simply narrate in their own words and at their own pace. The illustrations are colorful, lively, and convey the impression of action.

 

Latifah, Queen. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Queen of the Scene. NY: Laura Geringer Books/Harper Collins Pub., 2006. $16.99 28 pp. ages 3-8 0-06-077856-3 P7/Q7 In this colorful picture book featuring a young black girl in the city, Queen Latifah “represents”. The little girl is confident—even boastful—about her abilities, but in the end admits to having to be home by dark (conforming to her parents’ wishes.) An accompanying CD has Latifah rapping the book, so if the reader can’t read or can’t read in rhythm there’s help.

 

Montejo, Victor. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. White Flower: A Maya Princess. Toronto: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2005. $16.95 36 pp. ages 7 up ISBN 0-88899-599-7 P7/Q7 This story, told by a Jacaltec Maya who is also an anthropologist, is one of those books that has a lot of words on its big pages, some of which are difficult names. Yet it is aimed at a young audience. It will probably work best as a read-aloud, and will lend itself to literary analysis when studying myths and legends. White Flower, we are told in an endnote, wa an old Spanish story. This version draws strongly on Native traditions with a theme of parental rejection of a beautiful girl’s suitors. While I’d normally object to the semantics of using the title “princess” to refer to a Native cacique’s daughter, since it’s a Native author I am inclined to give him his preferences. As European fairy tales are wont to do, this one ends with the couple living happily ever after.

 

April 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Books For Young Readers Book Reviews April 2007 L.R. NHS

 

Picture Books 

Whitford, Rebecca. Sleepy Little Yoga. Illus. by Martina Selway. Henry Holt and Company, 2007. ISBN 0-8050-8193-3. $9.95. 23pgs. Ages 2-4. P7,Q7. Whitford has created a simple parent’s guide introducing yoga to toddlers in a colorfully illustrated book with animals demonstrating techniques. Additional information includes a note to parents and caregivers, practice tips, explanation of poses, and photos of toddlers demonstrating yoga positions.

 

Montanari, Eva. A Very Full Morning. Houghton Mifflin Company,2006. ISBN 0-618-56318-0. $16.00. 30 pgs. Grades 1-3. P7Q8. Today is the first day of school for little rabbit. Excited, anxious, frightened, and finally relieved are some of the emotions portrayed in beautifully drawn acrylic and colored-pencil illustrations. The unusual perspectives really emphasize the nervousness children feel about the first day of school while the ending relieves that fear for little rabbit, I’m not sure if a child will be comforted or possible more frightened.

 

Rueda, Claudia. Let’s Play in the Forest. Scholastic Press, 2006. ISBN 0-439-82323-4. $16.99. 30 pgs. Grades Pre-K. P8,Q8. In a repetitive sing song pattern the animals come out to play while the wolf is getting dressed. The simple text and illustrations will make this a fun book for young children to hear, tell, and act out.. This story was inspired by a song and game the author often played as a young child and then with her own children, after researching she found it dated back to before the sixteenth century as a ceremony among monks to catch his successor.

 

McAllister, Angela. Brave Bitsy and the Bear. Illus. by Tiphanie Beeke. Clarion Books, 2006. $16.00. 29 pgs. Grades Pre-3. P7,Q8. Little Bitsy falls out of her girl’s pocket and is lost in the woods. Along comes a big fuzzy bear to the rescue to help little Bitsy find her way home, but bear is ready for his winter’s nap and is having a difficult time staying awake. Themes of courage, loyalty, and friendship make this a fun read aloud to a child or classroom. The soft, warm, illustrations lend to the books overall appeal.

 

Stringer, Lauren. Winter is the Warmest Season. Harcourt, Inc., 2006. $16.00. ISBN 0-15-2049767-3. 30 pgs. Grades Pre-2. P7,Q8. This is the first book Stringer has both written and illustrated. In this wonderful story all everything that makes winter warm is captured; from hot chocolate to woolly warm sweaters. The colorful full page illustrations add to the books warmth and will make both the reader and listener feel cozy and look forward to a warm winter. This would make a nice resource for introducing winter or studying the different seasons to younger children.

 

Rosen, Michael. Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry. Illus. by Chinlun Lee. Candlewick Press, 2006. ISBN 076362744-5. 34 pgs. $15.99. Grades K-2. P7,Q7. Molly is excited about taking her grandmother’s crystal to school for shoe and tell, but when all the children are distracted by Russell’s pink and green water-spurting dragon she is disappointed. Molly’s teacher, Miss Plumberry sees her disappointment and redirects the class by showing interest in the crystal. Yes, teachers are wonderful!

 

McKay, Katie. Pumpkin Town! Illus. by Pable Bernasoni. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006. ISBN 0-618-60569-X . 32 pgs. $16.00. Grades K-3. P7,Q8. Jose’ and his brothers plant a variety of pumpkins every year to sell, saving only the best for seed to replant and discarding the rest. When the brothers throw the less than perfect seeds away on a windy day, the town is in store for a surprise or quite possibly a disaster. A fun read supported by unusual colorful, collage-type, computer generated art. This is a great book to read aloud, inspire creative writing, predictions, or demonstrate art technique.

 

Wellington, Monica. Mr. Cookie Baker. Dutton Children’s Books, 1992, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47763-2. 27 pgs. $15.99. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. From early morning to evening a nice close up look at a day with Mr. Baker as he makes cookies for his store. The simple text and simple drawings are just the right ingredients for a sure to please book for young children. Recipes are featured in the back of the book.

 

Wellington, Monica. Pizza at Sally’s. Dutton, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47715-2. 30 pgs. $14.99. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. Wellington uses her signature simple, bold, colorful artwork to illustrate Sally, the pizza maker making pizza for her customers. Young children will be delighted as they turn the pages and learn about the pizza making process. Recipes included for added enjoyment.

 

Walton, Rick. The Remarkable Friendship of Mr. Cat and Mr. Rat. Illus. by Lisa McCue. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ISBN 0-399-23899-9. 27 pgs. $14.99. Grades K-3. P7,Q8. Mr. Cat and Mr. Rat live together and agree on one thing, their extreme dislike of one another. In the beginning several attempts to send the other packing will delight young readers. One day when Rat is locked outside a package arrives for Mr. R from Mr. C, assuming it’s for him he cautiously opens it thinking it’s a trap or joke or ? When he discovers its delicious cheese, he sends a gift in return to Mr. Cat. The fun begins and continues…in this sing-song rhyming text. Cartoon-like, watercolor illustrations of characters detailing expressive facial features and a variety of emotions add appeal.

 

Schwartz, Corey Rosen and Klein, Tali. Hop! Plop! Illus. by Oliver Dunrea. Walker& Company, 2006. ISBN 0-8027-8056-3. 30 pgs. $15.95. Grades Pre-1. P7,Q7. Unlikely friends, elephant and mouse go to the playground for a day of fun, but when the playground equipment fails to provide they anticipated they must problem solve. The text is loaded with action words and sounds creating a sense of energy and movement. Many examples of size relations as well as opposites are displayed throughout the story. The illustrations are simple water color drawings on bright white backgrounds.

 

Sloat, Teri. I’m a Duck. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ISBN 0-399-24274-0. 30 pgs. $15.95. Grades Pre-2. P7,Q8. Beautifully illustrated in pastels using bold, earthy colors a duck celebrates his magnificent stroke of good luck, he’s a duck! He’s delighted with everything about himself from his quack to his webbed feet, his wings to his new found wife, and later his duck-dad self. Themes of self esteem, family, fatherhood, ducks, wetlands, hatching, and growing are all presented.

 

Lobel, Gill. Too Small for Honey Cake. Illus. by Sebastien Braun. ISBN 0-15-206097-9. 25 pgs $16.00 Grades Pre-K. P7,Q7. Little Fox is feeling left out after the arrival of his new baby brother. Everything has changed and Little Fox is not happy. When Daddy Fox is too busy to play, Little Fox thinks of naughty things to do and then hides in the closet. After some time to think, Little Fox comes out and finds Daddy Fox is waiting with open arms and a honey cake that baby fox is too small to eat. Nice artwork with fun end papers, the front illustrating the start of a new day and back a peaceful evening.

 

Polaccco, Patricia. Something About the Hensley’s. Philomel Books, 2006. ISBN 0-399-24538-3. 40 pgs. Grades K-4. P7,Q8. Patrica Polacca has once again drawn from her real life experience to write a heart warming story about Old John, an owner of general store, who weaves magic into people’s lives with his generosity and friendly personality. When two young girls move to town with their mother, it’s Old John’s kindness and wisdom that truly make a difference in this family’s lives. Family stress, financial hardships, single parent families, medical issues are some of the themes addressed in this warm, touching tale. Illustrations are typical Polacca style, filled with details from top to bottom, side to side, and with surprises on every page.

 

Fiction

Lynch, Chris. Sins of the Fathers. Harper Tempest, 2006. ISBN 0-06-074037-X. 232 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P7, Q7. Three friends since first grade attend a Catholic School in Boston where they routinely get into their share of mischief, and are always there for one another. When one of the boys suspects his friend is being sexually abused by one of the school’s priests, he steps up and offers his support. A look at the unfortunate situations children can be exposed to when adults take advantage of their authority roles. A fast paced read, with believable characters, and quickly developing plot and subplots.

 

Trueman, Terry. 7 Days at the Hot Corner. Harper Tempest, 2007. ISBN 0-06-057494-1. 150 pgs. $15.99. Grades 8+. P7,Q8. Scott plays third base for his school’s varsity baseball team and is looking forward to the upcoming playoffs after a record winning streak season. In baseball when things get tricky it’s called the Hot Corner, something Scott is more than familiar with, but now his life is a series of hot corners that have him thinking about more than baseball. Friendship, homosexuality, coming out, acceptance, family, and divorce are all touched on in this quick entertaining read. Another high interest read by Terry Trueman to recommended to the reluctant reader needing a book report read.

 

Page, Katherine Hall. Club Meds. Simon Pulse, 2006. ISBN 1-4169-0903-6. 166 pgs. $6.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q8. Freshman, Jack Sutton has ADHD and has taken meds since third grade and learned what he needs to do to live with his disorder. When the school bully starts demanding that Jack handover a portion of his Ritalin each week to prevent being beat up, he and his friends find themselves working to come up with a plan to prevent the bullying. This is a nicely written story with an interesting plot, real characters with real problems and insight to ADHD. A quick read with a great deal of information presented interestingly enough to make it a page turner.

 

Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. Golden. Delacorte Press, 2006. ISBN 0-385-73311-9. 247 pgs. $7.95. Grades 7+. P7,Q6. New girl, Lissy James finds there are two main social groups at her new school in Oklahoma: the Goldens, popular, beautiful, and snobby and the Non-Goldens. Her Sight or ability to see individual’s auras in different colors alerts her to evil lurking within the school. Students will pick this book up for its teen- appeal cover, but I’m afraid they will be discouraged by the difficulty in following the undeveloped plot, excessive repetition, and the less than interesting characters. This is nineteen-year-old Barnes first Novel, perhaps her second novel, Tattoo, will be better.

 

Booth, Coe. Tyrell. Push, 2006. ISBN 0-439-83879-7. 310 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P8,Q8. Life for Fifteen-year-old Tyrell is going from bad to worse with his dad in jail once again, he, his mom, and little brother all living in a run down shelter, and his girl friend making demands he doesn’t feel he can live up to. Determined to take care of his family and to do the right thing, Tyrell is faced with difficult choices. In this coming of age book Tyrell’s character is strong, determined, and believable. I think students will enjoy this quick read for its real voice and in depth look at homelessness, poverty, relationships, and desire to do the right thing.

 

Snadowsky, Daria. Anatomy of a Boyfriend. Delacorte Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-73320-5. 257 pgs. $16.99. Grades 9+. P7,Q8. Seventeen-year-old Dom has worked her life preparing herself for Stanford and Premed. Medical journals and anatomy books are her favorite reads and for fun she enjoys timed games of Operation to improve small motor skills and dexterity. Things change in a hurry when she meets the perfect guy and now all she can think about is  Wes. Dating, sex, family life, friendship, school, heartbreak and adjustment are all dealt with in this fun, quick, humorous read by this first time author.

 

Bryant, Jen. Pieces of Georgia. Knopf, 2006. ISBN 0-375-83259-9. 166 pgs. $15.95. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. Georgia is having a difficult time dealing with the death of her mother as well as her grieving father. With the help of journal, given to her by the school counselor Georgia is able to write to her mother and express her feelings and their shared love of art. On her thirteenth birthday she receives a membership to the Brandywine River Museum from someone anonymously. Not wanting to risk upsetting her father, Georgia secretly visits the museum every chance she gets learning and losing herself in the one thing that brings so much joy. Written in a nice flowing free verse style, this book is an enjoyable read. Grief, family, friends, difficulties in school, art, pursuing dreams, healing, are a few of the subjects covered in this novel.

 

Sonnenblick, Jordan. Notes From the Midnight Driver. Scholastic, 2006. ISBN 0-439-75779-7. 265 pgs. $16.99. Grades 8+. P8,Q8. When things get crazy in Alex’s life, he takes a wrong turn and lands himself before a judge who sentences him to a hundred hours community service in a nursing home. The resident he is teamed to work with proves to be a very difficult challenge, a challenge Alex informs the judge that he is not qualified to handle. Alex soon learns that he and Sal share a common interest in music he looks forward to his visits. A humorous, heart-warming story about friendship, family problems, and the power of relationships.

 

Barkley, Brad and Heather Hepler. Scrambled Eggs at Midnight. Dutton Books, 2006. ISBN 0-525-47760-8. 262 pgs. $16.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. Cal is along for the ride when her mother decides to load up the car and travel across the country following Renaissance fairs selling jewelry and working as a wench. Cal longs for a stable home life or at least one that offers a shower, kitchen and warm bed. Elliot longs for his former life living on the beach, before his dad decided to spread the gospel at a health camp. Upon meeting they become good friends and are able to help one another find the lives they are looking for. A little slow starting, but picks up and becomes a good read.

 

Carr, Dennis and Elise. Welcome to Wahoo. Bloomsbury, 2006. ISBN 1-58234-696-8. 229 pgs. $16.99. Grades 7+. P7,Q7. For Victoria life is about having fun at any cost and with wealthy parents she finds plenty of fun as well as trouble causing her parents a great deal of worry. Everything changes when Victoria’s parents are suddenly being hunted by assassins and she must flee with the family body guard to the small town of Wahoo in Nebraska. Public school, cafeteria food, Walmart clothes, a part time job, chores, etc. are all new concepts Victoria is learning to adjust to with the help of her new friend. A quick read with humor and a slightly twisted ending. This is the first book by husband-wife team.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young ReadersReviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Curlee, Lynn. Skyscraper. Atheneum, 2007. $17.99. 0-689-84489-1. 44p. Ages 9+: Austere, glowing, acrylic portraits of individual skyscrapers enhance the text about the development of these marvels of engineering from their rise after the Chicago fire to those planned in the future. In each example, the art historian introduces the landmark buildings and the engineering advances that made them possible as well as thoughts about how these buildings affect the ways society lives and works. The final pages, summarizing the development of skyscraper technology in a cleverly rendered chronology of the world’s tallest buildings, add further visual appeal. Although the text can be dense, the illustrations are such that one can pour over them for a long period of time. P8Q10

 

Dear Author: Letters of Hope. Ed. Joan F. Kaywell. Philomel, 2007. $14.99. 0-399-23705-8. 222p. Ages 13+: Letters to 27 young adult authors and the authors’ responses show heartbreaking and heartwarming reactions to the books that these authors write and the ways that the books may help young readers get through life, perhaps even keep them alive. The last 40 pages give brief annotated bibliographies of each author’s work as well as their websites. Although young readers may not read the book from cover to cover, they might dip into the selections and find some solace for their own problems. P6Q8

 

Gourley, Catherine. War, Women, and the News: How Female Journalists Won the Battle to Cover World War II. Atheneum, 2007. $21.99. 0-689-87752-8. 198p. Ages 12+: From the “sob sisters” or “newshens” of the 1920s and 1930s to “news reporters”–this is the change for female reporters because of their courage and determination during World War II. This book includes famous photographers such as Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothy Lange, adventurers such as Martha Gellhorn (one of Ernest Hemingway’s wives), and even Eleanor Roosevelt who not only gave women their chance at reporting but also had a column of her own. Excellent photographs and resources, including websites, help make this book an inspiration to young women today. P6Q8

 

Gourse, Leslie. Sophisticated Ladies: The Great Women of Jazz. Il. Martin French. Dutton, 2007. $19.99. 0-525-47198-1. 64p. Ages 9-13: These mini-biographies about 14 women who helped “create…a uniquely American art form” are each accompanied by full-page portraits of these women. The common thread that runs through their lives seems to be the poverty that most of them experienced as children and their inability to find happiness as adults. Many of them died of such diseases as diabetes and various kinds of cancers. The majority of those in the book—and the best known of them—are African-American such as Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. One might question whether Rosemary Clooney is classified as a jazz singer. The colorful illustrations will make this a good addition to libraries. P7Q8

 

Harper, Charise Mericle. Flush! The Scoop on Poop throughout the Ages. Little, 2007. $15.99. 0-316-01064-2. 24p. Ages 8+: This scatological book will delight almost all of its audience—although it probably can’t be used for a read-aloud. Described as “wacky, witty, and informative,” it fulfills all three of these adjectives with its somewhat frank drawings and descriptions of disposals. The book can be quite useful to discuss other living conditions through history as well as chemistry of elimination. (The book begins with “Uses of Urine.”) It’s my guess that this book will wear out soon!

 

Magaziner, Henry Jonas. Our Liberty Bell. Il. John O’Brien. Holiday House, 2007. $15.95. 0-8234-1892-8. 32p. Ages 8-11: From its arrival in 1752 (when the bell sounded so bad and then cracked that it had to be melted down for another bell) to the present day, the bell ordered as a 50-year celebration of the Pennsylvania Charter of Privileges has been used as a symbol of freedom. It rang to communicate important events throughout the colonials’ fight for liberty and was used to celebrate George Washington’s birthday until this bell, too, cracked. Then it was used as a symbol for women’s suffrage and abolitionist groups. The information is interesting and the drawings entertaining, but the author could have used fewer exclamation points and melodramatic comments. This is his first book; he may improve. P6Q8

 

Poetry

Hemphill, Stephanie. Your Own Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83799-9. 261p. Ages 14+: The author fictionalizes the events and people in Plath’s life through a series of poems based on her journals, essays, letters, poetry, and the one autobiographical novel. Brief biographical notes are included at the end of all the short poems throughout the book. Plath became a cult figure after her suicide in 1963, influencing many today. This book is “a welcoming introduction for newcomers and an unflinching valentine for the devoted…[as it] invites readers to savor the rich, turbulent life of an enduring literary trailblazer who so fearlessly articulated the vivid complexities of the human heart.” This book is not for everyone, but those who find it interesting will also find it invaluable.

 

Horowitz, Dave. Five Little Gefiltes. Putnam, 2007. $12.99. 0-399-24608-1. unp. Ages 4-7: When five curious gefilte fish have the chutzpah to explore the world, Mama Gefilte cries “Oy vey!” And so begins this poetic playful take on Yiddish culture, complete with asides in balloons and a glossary of the expressions. As the description says, “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll plotz!” A delightful introduction to a different culture or a warm return to a familiar one. P9Q9

 

Lithgow, John. Mahalia Mouse Goes to College. Il. Igor Oleynikov. Simon & Schuster, 2007. $17.99. 1-4169-2715-8. unp. Ages 4-7: This latest book written by Emmy and Tony award winner and illustrated by the art director of a Russian animation studio contains a CD of Lithgow’s reading these witty rhymes which he used as part of his keynote address at Harvard’s commencement in 2005. Lush, thoughtful digitally-treated gouache illustrations help tell the story of a young mouse who finds herself at a college after hiding in a backpack. The happy ending of her graduation evolves from a physics professor who discovers her aptitude for science. Although the rhyming sometimes limps, the verse scans fairly well, and the illustrations are a true joy as is the inspiring message for those struggling in life. P8Q8

 

Picture Books

Breem, Steve. Stick. Dial, 2007. $16.99. 0-8037-3124-0. unp. Ages 3-7: In this almost wordless book, a young frog who likes to do things for himself gets carried away when his tongue sticks to a big dragonfly and he’s pulled across the swamp, through town, and into the busy city. In this debut picture book from a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Breem celebrates his love of travel and his love for New Orleans through the whimsical illustrations and adventures of a little frog—who also manages to find his way home again. P9Q9

 

Burmingham, John. Edwardo: The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World. Knopf, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-84053-1. unp. Ages 3-6: When grownups tell Edwardo that he is the noisiest, messiest, cruelest, dirtiest, nastiest, rudest, and roughest boy in the world, he becomes worse and worse. But the day that they start to praise him, his world turns around. Burningham’s clever watercolors and wit show the power of words in shaping people’s actions. Every parent should read this. P10Q10

 

Compestine, Ying Chang. The Real Story of Stone Soup. Il. Stephane Jorisch. Dutton, 2007. $16.99. 0-525-47493-7. unp. Ages 4-8: In the original story of stone soup, a person puts stones in water over a fire waiting for people to come along and contribute to the “soup.” In this one Chinese fishermen who forget to bring cooking utensils with them find creative ways to make do with what they have and what they can find. They take the hot river rocks from the fire to make it boil. The charm of this book is the narrator who talks about the troublesome, lazy brothers who he has hired to help him whereas the reader knows that it is the employer who is lazy and worthless. The funny watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations add greatly to the book’s effectiveness. P8Q8

 

Falconer, Ian. Olivia…and the Missing Toy. Atheneum, 2007. $16.95. 0-69-85291-6. unp. Ages 3-6: Our favorite feisty female pig is back, this time searching for her favorite toy. The discovery that the family dog tore it up devastated her for a while before she mended the doll and then forgave the hapless pup. Olivia’s independence continues to be delightful as she starts to grow up—her mother now has to make her a soccer shirt, and her two siblings are obviously much younger. This is a shero that children can grow up with! P9Q9

 

Hartman, Bob. Dinner in the Lion’s Den. Il. Tim Raglin. Putnam, 2007. $16.99. 0-399-24674-6. unp. Ages 4-7: The story of Daniel in the lion’s den takes on new

dimension—and a funny one—when an angel plays with Father Lion, Mother Lion, and the two cubs all night long to save Daniel from being dinner. The twist at the end? Daniel is out of the den, and the enemies in—with the angel telling the furry critters that “It’s dinnertime!” This is another traditional tale turned upside down, fun read-aloud with humorous cross-hatch illustrations from the pair that brought young readers The Wolf Who Cried Boy. P9Q8

 

Hume, Lachie. Clancy the Courageous Cow. Greenwillow, 2007. $16.99. 0-06-117249-9. unp. Ages 3-6: The foolishness of judging by appearance is the theme of this story about a Belted Galloway cow with no distinctive white “belt.” Although he is rejected by his herd, he saves them from extinction when he wins the annual cow wrestling match. (He’s gotten strong because he has no white belt and can sneak over to get the good grass!) A great tale about the unfairness of giving the best of everything to those with power over others from a student of agricultural science in his first book. P9Q9

 

Yoo, Taeeun, The Little Red Fish. Dial, 2007. $15.99. 0-8037-3145-5. unp. Ages 3-6: Lovely sepia-toned etchings and hand color provide a background for the red fish and book in this story of a boy, JeJe, who jumps into a book to save his fish in a magical library in the middle of a forest. The author/illustrator created this lovely book for her master’s thesis. P8Q10

 

Graphic Novel

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Heartbreaker. Random House, 2006. $5.99. 0-375-83798-2. 96p. Ages 7-10: Once again this brother/sister team revisits the angst of their school year, this time to write about our heroine’s misadventures in trying to get a date for the Valentine’s Dance. And once again, Babymouse’s fantasies and trials provide humor and pathos for the reader. Coming in May, Babymouse goes to camp! P9Q8

 

Fiction

Fine, Anne. The Return of the Killer Cat. Il. Steve Cox. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-36248-3. 74p. Ages 7-10: Once again, Tuffy the pet cat narrates his escapades in a hilarious fashion as he attempts to escape his family’s cat-sitter. It’s a bittersweet experience when the neighbor dresses him in a nightie and calls him Janet while at the same time feeds him as much tuna and cream as his can eat. Those who delighted in The Diary of a Killer Cat will have another treat. P9Q9

 

Hooper, Mary. The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose. Bloomsbury, 2006. $16.95. 1-58234-854-5. 336p. Ages 13-15: Thrown out of her home in rural England by her stepmother, 15-year-old Eliza Rose goes to 1670 London in search of her father. Delightfully melodramatic experiences are highlighted as Eliza soon ends up in prison. But she always lands on her feet and keeps her virtue as unexpected people befriend

her at every turn, and–gasp–she discovers that she is actually noble-born, a changeling at birth. A fun read without much substance. P7Q7

 

Jones, Diana Wynne. The Pinhoe Egg. A Chrestomanci Book. Greenwillow, 2006. $17.99. 0-06-113124-5. 515p. Ages 11-15: Wizardry and witchcraft are afoot as Cat Chant and Marianne Pinhoe discover a valuable egg hidden in an attic for many years. The resulting birth of a griffin, the young people’s adventures as they seek the source of a powerful bad luck spell that wreaks havoc throughout their land, and the discovery of a magical leader long believed dead all make for an engaging read by the author of such fantasies as Howl’s Moving Castle and other Chrestomanci books. Her effervescent sense of humor and well-developed characters make readers want to visit Jones’ world again and again. P8Q10

 

Miller, Sarah. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller. Atheneum, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-2542-2. 227p. Ages 12+: The familiar story of how Annie Sullivan teaches six-year-old Helen Keller to sign in spite of the child’s overprotective family comes to life as Miller, in her first novel, tells about the first month plus a day in their 50-year-old relationship. Miller’s writing is as energetic and entertaining as Miss Sullivan and as spirited as Helen Keller at six. A great read-aloud book from Annie’s point of view as we learn of her disadvantaged childhood and longing for a child’s love. P9Q8

 

Mills, Claudia. Being Teddy Roosevelt. Il. R. W. Alley. Farrar, 2006. $16.00. 90p. Ages 8-11: On the surface, this charming juvenile book is about Riley O’Rourke, a fourth-grader who wants to get a saxophone so badly that his schoolwork improves, especially the biography that he writes about Theodore Roosevelt. But blended into the main plot are a collection of characters that make this book much richer: Sophie who learns that she doesn’t have to be perfect; Erika who manages to keep her feminism intact; and Grant who is brave enough to wear just a loin cloth to school when he gives his report on Mahatma Gandhi. And then there’s Riley’s mother, who learns to trust in her son after he learns tenacity and perseverance from his biography’s subject. This makes a great read-aloud with many subtle lessons for young readers. And it’s fun! P8Q8

 

Townley, Roderick. The Red Thread. Atheneum, 2007. $17.99. 1-4189-0094-3. 294p. Ages 13+: A review of Sky, Townley’s earlier book, described it as “one hell of a book.” The same could be said of this one. The smooth writing draws the reader into the suspense of a teenage girl caught up in two earlier incarnations and suffering from her struggles to save her beloved younger brother from a killer. Sadly, the book loses this energy about halfway through. The characterizations lack realism: boyfriend Chase is just too, too nice for a typical teenage boy, and other characters lack complexity. In addition, the events seem far too coincidental to be believable. Yet young readers will love this book because of the excitement and imagination surrounding Dana’s travels from 21st-century Portmouth, New Hampshire, to England in three different centuries. P8Q7

 

White, Ruth. Way Down Deep. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-38251-4. 197p. Ages 10-14: How did the toddler Ruby June end up on a bench in front the courthouse in a tiny West Virginia town in 1944? That’s the question that she pursues when, at the age of about 12, she meets a new family in town that might have news about her past. This is a book to savor, with memorable characters who are described in such a gentle manner that you know they come from the past. Although Ruby must leave her beloved guardian briefly after her family is found and her unkind grandmother wants her to wait on the older woman hand and foot, all ends happily. The only mystery that remains is how Ruby traveled 60 miles to the town Way Down Deep. P6Q10

 

April 5, 2007 Book Reviews by C.S.

Non-Fiction

Wooten, Sara McIntosh. Frida Kahlo: Her Life in Paintings. Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2005. $ ? . 0-7660-2487-3. Chapter Notes, Bibliography & index. 128 p. 5 th – 9 th grades. Nicely written biography of the Latina artist. Language is suitable for younger students, although details of her life make the book more appropriate for middle school and up. I was most disappointed with the lack of examples of her work to accompanying text. Some pieces are carefully analyzed and then there is no photo. I doubt middle school readers will take the time to find the actual works mentioned. P5 Q5

 

Radziszewicz, Tina. Ready or not? A girl’s guide to making her own decisions about dating, love and sex. Illustrated by Kathryn Lamb. Walker and Company, 2005. $9.95. 0-8027-96125. Resources & Contact, Index. 267 p. 6 th – 12 th grade. BLUNT! Hence probably written in a matter adolescents will pay attention too. Good information, lame illustrations. Should have explored peer pressure more in depth, seems glossed over. Excellent resources (including websites.) P9 Q7

 

Book Reviews April 2007 by C.B.

Cheng, Andrea, Eclipse, Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 2006, 129 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1932425217, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Peti is an 8-year-old refugee from Hungary, who has lived in the U.S. for some time. It is also 1952 and Peti’s parents invite his Uncle’s family to come to Cincinnati, Ohio to live with them. Peti has plenty to worry about, first there is his 12 year-old cousin who picks on him and then there is his Grandfather who is still behind the iron curtain in Hungary, Peti’s only escape is to the public library to read. This story told in the first person narrative gives the reader a look into the hard ships faced by people who emigrate to other countries.

 

Elliott, Patricia, Ambergate, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2005, 2007, 390 pgs., 16.99, ISBN:031601060X, Gr. 9+, P 7, Q 7,

The adventures of Patricia Elliot’s characters in the book Murkmere are continued in this sequel, Ambergate. Scuff, an orphan from the capital city is a young girl who is taken to a remote village to as a servant in the manor house. The Protector’s army years later come to find the young girl who has a arm with the number 102 tattooed on it. Scuff escapes and on her journey she finds love, friends and her true identity. This book will stand on it’s own but would make better sense to the reader if they had read the first one first.

 

Gross, Philip, The lasting, Clarion Books, New York, 2003, 248 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0618659986, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,

During a trip to the Himalayas Paris, a 14-year-old girl, finds not only that her rich Uncle Franklin is not as nice as he always seemed. She finds instead that he is here to find and capture exotic animals, some the last of their kind. It is in this war torn land that they find the Yeti and a young monk named Tahr. Paris and Tahr struggle across the Himalayas trying to avoid Uncle Franklin, survive the rugged conditions and help the Yeti to find others of her kind who have made this journey before.

 

Haydon, Elizabeth, The floating island, illustrated by Brett Helquist, A Tom Dougherty Associates Book, New York, 2006, 368 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0765308673, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,

Using the lost journal of Ven, a 50-year old Nain explorer, the story of his journey is told simultaneously as his life is taking place. Ven’s journey starts on his birthday and involves his ship being attacked and burned, rescued by a mermaid and picked up by a ship which takes him to a floating island and new lands. This adventure is sure to appeal all who love a fantasy adventure.

 

Holm, Jennifer, Penny from heaven, Random House, New York, 2006, 274 pgs,$15.95, ISBN:037583687X, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

In 1953, Penny is an 11 year-old girl living in Brooklyn, New York where she lives with her widowed mother and her maternal grandmother and grandfather. Her father is deceased but he comes from a large Italian family which lives nearby and Penny is always visiting them. Penny’s summer, where she will turn 12, starts with no swimming in the public pool because of the Polio threat and a summer job at her Uncles meat store as delivery girl. She also hopes this summer that maybe the Dodger’s will win the pendent this year. Penny also must navigate between her two families who do not get along and will not discuss her fathers death. This humorous but also sad story will appeal to middle school students.

 

Lawrence, Iain, Gemini Summer, Delacorte Press, New York, 2006, 261 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0385730896, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

It’s 1964 and Danny, 8 years-old, and his older brother Beau spend the summer trying to avoid the bully down the street. Danny family all have dreams Beau, dreams of becoming an astronaut, his father is digging a hole in the front yard for a bomb shelter and his mother is busy writing a best selling book. All Danny wants is a dog. It is with the death of his brother and the appearance of a dog, that Danny thinks is his brother reincarnated, that the parents finally come to see that is not right with their family. Danny runs away and is brought home by Gus Grissom a Gemini astronaut in a jet, T-38.

 

Lord, Cynthia, Rules, Scholastic Press, New York, 2006, 200 pgs., $15.99 ISBN:0439443822, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 9,

Catherine is 12 years-old and lives with her brother David, who is autistic, and her mother and father. It is also Catherine who many times must care for David and had come up with a set of rules so that he doesn’t always embarrass her. One such rule is no toys in the fish tank. This is a great book for parents and children to read so that they can understand what siblings of handicapped children face and feel.

 

Marillier, Juliet, Wildwood dancing, Alfred, A. Knopf, New York, 2007, 407 pgs, glossary, $16.99, ISBN:0375833641, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

This fantasy tale has all the ingredients of what a fantasy needs. From the talking magical frog, to a wall that lets the sister into a fairy realm this book will captivate the reader’s attention and they won’t want to put it down till it’s finished.

 

O’Connor, Barbara, How to steal a dog, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2007, 170 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0374334978, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q7

Georgia Hayes and her family are now homeless and living in car. Her mother has two jobs and struggles to keep her family together and fed. She keeps telling Georgia and her brother that soon they will have enough money to get an apartment. Georgia however tires of this situation and steals dog to get the reward that she is sure to follow. After all they can use the money to get a place to stay. Students will be drawn to this book that so many people face today.

 

Vejjajiva, Jane, The happiness of Kati, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2003,139 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:1416917888, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

Kati lives in Thailand with her grandmother and grandfather. Her mother who left her years before is now asking to see her and Katie must decided if this is what she wants. Eventually Kati does go to her mother who is dying of ALS and is together with her mother for her final weeks. Health teachers could use as a read aloud to introduce the topic of diseases in their classes.

 

Non Fiction

Hughes, Ted, Collected poems for children, illustrated by Raymond Briggs, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, 259 pgs., index, first line index, $18.00, ISBN:0374314292, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This is a collection of over 200 children’s poems by the late Ted Hughes. Starting with whimsical poems this collection eventually expands to longer and more complex poems but still have the quirky tone to them. Line drawings by Briggs are scattered thought the book illustrating the funny characters of Hughes poems. This is a must for any elementary library.

 

Katz, Bobbi, Trailblazers: poems of exploration, illustrated by Carin Berger, Greenwillow Books, 1993, 2007, 208 pgs, map, index, index of first lines, $18.99, ISBN:0688165338, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Poems featuring explores of the world are gathered together in this book. Starting with Adam and Eve and concluding with Sylvia A Earle this collection of poems offers the reader a poetic look at the explores of the world. Biographies of various explores are also featured in the book. Geography teachers will love this book as a way to introduce exploration to their classes.

 

MacLeod, Elizabeth, Eleanor Roosevelt: an inspiring life, Kids Can Press, 2006, 32 pgs., index, $14.95, ISBN:1553377788, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

The life of Eleanor Roosevelt is discussed from her being shy as a child to her final days in England where she took part in writing the human bill of rights. Period photos and personal quotes make this book a good starting point for students who are researching this honorable person.

 

Wallner, Alexander, Lucy Maud Montgomery: the author of Anne of Green Gables, Holiday House, New York, 2006, unp., $16.95, ISBN:082341549X: Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7,

Good biographies for elementary age students are hard to find. This book with its picture book approach is one that meets the requirements for young readers. Not only does the folk art style pictures add charm to the book but also displays the area she lived in and how it too affected her writing. Lucy Montgomery’s, life from a child poem published in a newspaper to her struggle to get Anne of Green Gables published are all mentioned.

 

Reviews by B.R. Yaquina View

Cazet, Denys. The Shrunken Head. HarperCollins, c2007. ISBN 0060730137. 48 pgs., $15.99. Grades K-2. (Q 7, P7) When Barney gets the chickenpox and itches, Grandpa comes to the rescue with one of his anti-itch stories. Grandma has other ideas, she is going to the store and Grandpa is to mow the grass. When Barney’s friend Harold arrives with comic books, Grandpa cons him into mowing the grass so he can sit down and start the story. The story begins….. Grandpa and Doc Storkmeyer rides their bicycles into the jungle where they come upon headhunters. Of course they are captured and of course they get away, but the adventure is fun and exciting. This is a high interest story for developing readers.

 

Einhorn, Kama. My First Book About Reptiles. Ills. by Christopher Moroney. Random House, c2007. ISBN 0375836853. unp. $7.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) Another colorful informative book from Sesame Subjects, this book explores reptiles. This would be a good book to share with a small group. The pictures are clear and up close to their subjects and the simple sentences are very informative.

 

Kleinberg, Naomi. Happy Healthy monsters Good Night, Tucked in Tight. Ills. by Barry Goldberg. Random House, c 2007. ISBN 0375835687. Unp. $6.99. Grades PreS. (Q6, P5) Grover and Elmo tell little ones all about bedtime. Grover is in Elmo’s dream and they distribute their Sleepy Dust to help their friends fall asleep. Throughout the book is important facts about getting enough sleep and how to make bedtime easy and pleasant.

 

Winter, Jonah. Diego. Ills. by Jeanette Winter. Alfred. A. Knopf, c1991. ISBN 0679819878. Unp. $15.99. Grades 1-4. (Q8, P6) This beautiful book about the life and work of Diego Rivera focuses on his early life. His birth and the death of his twin brother, how he became sick and who helped him become well, it then goes on to talk about his love for painting. How he develops his art and what he does with it in young adulthood are also included. The pictured are bordered in Mexican folk-art designs done in vivid, resonate tropical tones. The text is done in English and Spanish and is written in easy to read short sentences. This book should be included in any library that has any Mexican patrons.

 

Kelly, Irene. It’s a Butterfly’s Life. Holiday House, c2007. ISBN 082341860X. Unp. $16.95. Grades K-3rd. (Q6, P6) This book written in simple informative text guides the reader through the life of a butterfly as it transforms from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, emerging into a beautiful butterfly with graceful wings. Watercolors, molded ink and gouache artwork will entice the children to look closely to nature.

 

Bowe, Julie. My Last Best Friend. Harcourt, c2007. ISBN 0152057773. 146 Pgs. $16.00. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q7, P6) Ida May’s best friend moves away and she had decided to never have a best friend again. When Stacey Merriweather moves into town, Ida May can’t help herself, she won’t talk to Stacey but communicates through writing anonymous notes. The friendship develops with the notes until one day there is no choice but to reveal who she is. Then the real friendship begins.

 

Farm Tales. Random House, c2007. ISBN 0375839429. 213 Pgs. $10.99, Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P6) This collection of nine Little Golden Books about farm animals will delight everyone. The bright and colorful illustrations will delight young ones with its portrayal of happy people and animals.

 

Fine, Anne. Jennifer’s Diary. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c1996. ISBN 0374336733. 58 Pgs. $15.00. Grades 2nd-4th. (Q6, P6) Jennifer’s aunt gave her a diary, but Jennifer didn’t have anything to write in it. Her friend Iola is bursting with ideas and takes over the diary writing in it. Only her writing is made up stories. This easy reading book will delight and possibly encourage young girls to write in their own diary.

 

Martin, Ann M. On Christmas Eve. Scholastic Press, c2006. ISBN 0439745888. 149 Pgs. $15.99. Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P5) Tess is eight and still believes in the miracle of Santa. As Christmas arrives Tess decides to wait up for Santa to ask him to make her friend Sarah’s father better. He is sick with cancer. Tess learns the hope and magic of life although she is disappointed that Santa

 

J.K. Parent Volunteer NMS/INMS Book Reviews

Lanagan, Margo, White Time, Harper Collins, New York, 2006, 216 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:006074393X, Gr. 8+, P 6, Q 8,

A collection of intricately written futuristically styled short stories that require some concentration by the reader so they can get involved with the story. The effect is worth while, however, because the author explores emotional issues in a creatively different way.

 

Oates, Joyce, After the wreck, I picked myself up, spread my wings and flew away, HarperCollins, New York, 2006, 289 pgs., 2006, $16.99, ISBN:0060735252, Gr.8+, P 7, Q 8,

More suitable for high school age students due to a gang rape scene that’s not overly graphic but involves drugs and alcohol. Great story about a 15 year-old who blames herself for her mother’s death in a car accident. The guilt she feels caused her to push people away until she meets Crow, who helps her discover the truth about the accident and herself.

 

May 2007 Reviews

 

DGH LCSD Media Specialist

 

Everybody Books

Haskins, Lori. Ducks in Muck; for Baby. Illus. Valeria Petrone. Random House Children’s Books, 2000. 978-0-375-84028-9. $4.99. unp. Ages 1-3. P8Q5

Board books are always great at this age because the kids can handle the book, turn the pages, and put their fingers on the illustrations. I am concerned that the binding won’t hold up the way two year olds hold a book. The story line simple, the words repetitive, illustrations bright; altogether a read-aloud the littlest ones will enjoy. Knowing that many kids just gaining language skills pronounce the “tr” sound with an “f” made me smile to think how prominently the word “truck” plays

 

Brown, Margaret Wise. I Like Stars. Illus. Joan PaLey. Random House Children’s Books, 2000. 978-0-375-84027-2. $4.99. unp. Ages 1-3. P8Q5

The text for this board book read aloud, comes from a 1954 Golden Book, but the illustrations were redone in 1998. Four animal paper cut out illustrations “like stars” each of four colors. The text didn’t quite flow and rhyme towards the end, but the colors were lively and the animal characters were fun.

Dead High Yearbook is the title and theme of this graphic novel whose audience is “live” high school readers. Fans of this genre won’t be overly pleased because it follows pretty familiar territory and stereotypical situations. The art and stories are each done by different artist-authors so the “chapters” in the yearbook are unique and fresh. A little bit splashy with the blood, but with a title like Dead High, the reader pretty much knows what they’re getting into!

 

May Reviews 2007

 

J.C. Cataloger

Bell, Hilari. Shield of stars. (The shield, sword, and crown, book one.) Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2007. 267 p. “Ages 8-12.” ISBN 9781416905943/1416905944 $16.99 P7Q8

When his protector and employer Justice Holis is arrested for treason, young Weasel, a semi-reformed pickpocket tries to free him, first by speaking to the Prince, and then by seeking out a powerful outlaw. While he and an imprisoned girl escape from imprisonment in the castle, Weasel finds an old shield—one of the magical artifacts supporting the king and kingdom. A

quest in search of justice, this is the first book in a fantasy trilogy. Recommended for school and public library collections.

 

Calhoun, Dia. Avielle of Rhia. Uncorrected proof. Marshall Cavendish, released Oct. 2006. [400] p. “Ages 11 up.” ISBN 9780761453208/0761453202 $16.99 P7Q7

Princess Avielle of Rhia, has the Dredonian features passed down from her evil great-great-grandmother, and—alternately shunned and abused—wonders if she will actually develop her grandmother’s evil powers. When the kingdom is attacked by the Dredonian Brethren of the Black Cloaks, and the royal family killed, Avielle hides in the city among the common folk, apprenticing to learn the weaver’s craft and develops her own magical gift. Lacking a leader, the Rhian leadership begins targeting those citizens who have Dredonian characteristics. Unable to break through her fears until the death of her gentle mentor, Avielle is the only hope of the beleaguered nation. One of the few authors who realistically depicts the effects of fear, Calhoun brings an immediacy to her fantasy works that is often lacking in the genre. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

B.R. Yaquina View May 2007

Rex, Michael. You Can Do Anything, Daddy!. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2007. ISBN 0399242988. Unp. $14.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P6) This is a delightful bedtime story which develops into a tall tale. All Dads are not tall strong macho looking. This book has a Dad who is bald and middle aged; even so he is this son’s hero. He would save him from pirates, swim the ocean, tie snakes in knots and more to save his son. Dad gets hot and thirsty so the son gives him cold apple juice and bandages his scrapes and scratches.

 

Parker, Marjorie Blain. Your Kind of Mommy. Ills. by Cyd Moore. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. ISBN 0525469893. Unp. $12.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q6, P6) This book is a celebration of all mothers, animal and human alike. While a Mother Bee can make sweet honey, a human knows her treats will do. An elephant would sprinkle you with water from her trunk but a human mother knows her baths will do. The illustrations are warm and fuzzy without being over powering sweet. A great book to read around Mother’s day.

 

Vestergaard, Hope. I Don’t Want to Clean My Room. Ills. by Carol Koeller. Dutton Children’s Books, c2007. ISBN 0525477764. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-3rd. (Q7, P7) What a horrible chore for young children, cleaning their room. Cleaning my room, making my bed, even recycling will be more fun after reading the catchy rhymes in this book. The playful illustrations will bring delightful smiles to all who share this book.

 

Cotton, Cynthia. Some Babies Sleep. Ills. by Paul Tong. Philomel Books, c2007. ISBN 0399240306. Unp. $12.00. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P8) This is a darling book about where baby animals sleep. A baby is shown sleeping along with animals, in a stall with a colt, in a pouch with a kangaroo, even curled up with their sisters and brothers in their chimpanzee mother’s arms. Finally the child is shown snuggled in their own bed. The fuzzy oil paintings are just right to lull a child to sleep.

 

Foley, Greg. Thank You Bear. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670061654. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P5) Most everybody is enchanted with books about baby bears, this one is no different. Bear finds an empty box and just knows his friend, mouse, will just love it. Along the way bear shows it to his other friends. They put doubts into Bears mind. Owl has seen such things before, Fox tells him he is holding it the wrong way, rabbit didn’t have time to look at it, and on it goes till bear finally finds mouse. Mouse thinks it is just right for his bed and curls up and goes to sleep. The text is plain written on pastel pages while the opposite page has illustrations of pastels on bright white backgrounds.

 

Harper, Jo. I Could Eat You Up!. Ills. by Kay Chorao. Holiday ;House, c2007. ISBN 0823417336. Unp. $16.95. Grades PreS-1st.m (Q6, P5) This simply written book, with one short sentence on each page, uses different animals to demonstrate a mother’s love for her child. Cute sentences match the animal: You’re my biscuit treat. You’re my sugar lump. Etc. The illustrations are in pastel water colors and are charming showing the love each animal had for its child.

 

Asher, Sandy. What A Party!. Ills. by Keith Graves. Philomel Books, c2007. ISBN 0399244964. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Froggie liked his hut t the edge of the pond. He woke up and it was Grandpa’s birthday so he joined the other frogs where they were hanging decorations, fixing refreshments and preparing party hats. Froggie needed to make himself a costume for his very special gift to Grandpa. He was going to sing a song. At the end of the day he went back to his own little hut. Children will understand Froggie’s feelings of self worth for giving such a wonderful gift. A great book to read for Grandparent’s day or maybe a birthday.

 

Ryder, Joanne. Toad by the Road. Ills. by Maggie Kneen. Henry Holt and Co., c2007 ISBN 080507354X. 37 Pgs. $16.95. Grades K-4th. (Q7, P7) A book of poems about frogs combined with facts make this book a wonderful addition to any library. Divided into the four seasons, the author has described how wonderful it is to be a frog, catching flies, shedding skin, and fooling predators by playing dead. It takes the reader from the springtime tadpoles into full grown frogs that hibernate in the winter. The illustrations are done with great detail.

 

Arnosky, Jim. Babies in the Bayou. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, c2007. ISBN 0399226532. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q8, P7) Beautifully written, Babies in the Bayou, illustrates the ecosystem without being gruesome. While white birds wade in shallow water, the alligator floats near her babies on a log. The raccoons look in the water and feed upon turtle eggs on the shore, yet the same picture show more turtles hatching and then heading to the water. The illustrations done in green, yellows and blue acrylics are framed with dark branches and grasses. A Great book to introduce bayou life to little readers.

 

Zimmerman Andrea and David Clemesha. Fire Engine Man. Henry Holt & Company, c2007. ISBN 080507905X. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-K. (Q8, P9) Imagination is a wonderful thing and in this book a young boy imagines he is a fireman. Dressed in his fire gear, driving his trusty fire truck and putting out the fire is viewed from the eyes of a young boy. This book has great clear and colorful illustrations which will entice the young reader to turn the pages.

 

Wells, Rosemary. Max Counts His Chickens. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670062227. UNP. $15.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q8, P6) Max and Ruby wake up on Easter morning to look for ten hot-pink marshmallow chicks hidden all over the house. While Ruby is finding all her bunnies, Max can’t find any. Every where Max hunts, he leaves a mess behind: in the toothpaste tube, leaving toothpaste all over the bathroom. He looks in the dinning room and leaves the silverware all over the floor. When Grandma finds Max without any bunnies, she makes a phone call and ten yellow marshmallow chicks come through the mail slot. The fun of counting as Ruby finds her chicks will delight children. Egg colored pages features large numbers and hot pink chicks along with the delightful pictures of Max and Ruby looking for chicks. This book could be put in the holiday section but why not put it in the everybody section, it would create more usage.

 

Lillegard, Dee. Balloons Balloons Balloons. Ills. by Bernadette Pons. Dutton Children’s Books. C12007. ISBN 0525459405. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-1st. (Q6, P6) Written in prose, this book celebrates colorful balloons and familiar places for children. Balloons are floating into town and blanket everything. The sidewalk, streets, buildings, chairs, and on and on until evening and then they rise into the sky like a rocket where the fly away to other suns and moons. This book would be good for learning colors; children could pick out the colored balloons as the story is read.

 

Bateman, Teresa, Traveling Tom and the Leprechaun. Ills. by Melisade Potter. Holiday House, c2007. ISBN 0823419762. Inp. $16.95. Grades K-5th. (Q6, P6) Kathleen, the king of Ireland’s daughter, was a beautiful princess who did not want to marry any of the knights who came to vie for her hand. The only man worth marrying would be one who could capture a leprechaun’s pot of gold. When Tom, the traveling minstrel, came to town he fell in love with Kathleen. He charmed the pot of gold out of the leprechaun by telling a tale, now he could claim the hand of the princess.

 

Kidslabel, Spot What 7 Animals. Kidslabel, c2005. ISBN 0811857220. 31 Pgs.$12.95. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q6, P7) Two photos that look the same, but there are seven differences in each set, can you sport them? This book will take hours and hours to complete and children will enjoy looking at the colorful photos over and over. In the back of the book two pages is two pages with the differences if the pictures, also included is a web site if you can’t find the differences.

 

Adler, Davis, A. The story of Roy Campanella Campy. Illd. By Gordon C. James. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670060410. Unp. $15.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) Roy Campanella was the first catcher and second person to break the color barrier of baseball. This book tells the story of a great baseball player who was born to an Italian father and an

African American mother. He loved playing baseball from the time he was a small boy till he was crippled in a car accident at the age of 37. After fighting back from his accident he became a Dodgers spring training coach and later had a radio program, television show and held baseball clinics for teenagers. He was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1969. This story is one of courage and determination, although it doesn’t talk much about the struggles he endured while becoming a major league baseball player. The illustrations are done in soft-focus pastel oils which compliment the story.

 

Hennessy, B.G. Corduroy’s Sleepover. Ills. by Lisa McCue. Viking, c2007. ISBN 0670061859. Unp. $11.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q6, P7) Corduroy’s friend has invited him and his friends to a sleepover. Corduroy doesn’t know what to pack. They play games, build forts, eat popcorn and watch movies, but when it is time to go to sleep Blue Mouse isn’t ready to sleep. Corduroy reads a story and Checkerboard Bunny sings him a song and soon the four are asleep. This would be a great book to read to a child who is going for his first sleepover.

 

Hogg, Gary. Beautiful Buehla and the Zany Zoo Makeover. Ills. by Victoria Chess. Katherine Tegen Books, c2006. ISBN 0060094206. Unp. $15.99. Grades K-2nd. (Q7, P7) It is picture day at the zoo and Mr. Phipps, the zookeeper, is not happy with how his animals look. He calls in Beautiful Buehla to help. She brings her to-go-makeup bag and gets busy. She curls the lion’s main, puts face makeup on the hippo, colors the gorilla pink and dresses the bears in disco outfits. When the photographer comes Buehla is not ready and starts to put powder on her face. The elephant sneezes and blows off all of Buehla’s hard work, so the picture is of the natural look of each animal.

 

San Jose , Christine. Six Swans. Ills. by Jes Cole. Boyds Mill Press, c2006. ISBN 1590780566. Unp. $16.95. Grades 1st-4th. (Q8, P6) This story is a retelling of “Six Swans” based on the tale as written by Brothers Grimm. The illustrations alone in this book would entice children to pick up the book. They are clear, colorful and have lots of detail. The King, while on an outing of hunting, came across a shrieking creature that drug him to her lair and threatened him that if he did not marry her daughter he would never leave. He took his six sons and daughter to a magical spot in the woods where they lived happily for years. One day the boys were turned into swans and the girl had to sew six shirts out of fragile stitch work flowers and to not utter any sounds. This would take her six years to accomplish, but she did it.

 

DuQuette, Keith. Little Monkey Lost. G.P. Putnam Son’s, c2007. ISBN 0399242945. Unp. $15.99. PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Little Monkey is bored and when a lily pad floats by he decides to hop aboard and travel. He soon realizes he is lost and remembers his mother telling him if he ever gets lost just ask the other monkeys the way home. He comes upon many other monkeys but none of them know the way home but they do teach him many things. He learns how to howl, hug, how to swing on vines, etc. He finally makes it home where he teaches his troop all these things and is never bored again. Included in the book is information on all the species of monkeys in this book.

 

Prelutsky, Jack. good sports. Ills. by Chris Raschuka. Alfred A. Knopf, c2007 ISBN 0375837000. Unp. $16.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q7, P5) This book consists of untitled poems about different sports. Whether you are proficient or just and average or even not so average sports player, you will enjoy these poems. One person saves the day by catching the fly ball, other swims like a fish that has been sick for days. The illustrations are done in watercolors with pen and ink lines.

 

Hills, Tad. Duck, Duck, Goose. Schwartz & Wade Books, c2007. ISBN 0375840680. Unp. $15.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q5, P6) Duck has a new friend, Thistle, and Goose is not happy about it. Goose and Duck usually are laid back while Thistle is quite competitive. Thistle thinks she is the best of everything she does whether it is math, having butterflies land on her nose, stand on her head, anything. Finally Goose and Duck become tired and trick Thistle to be the best sleeper and she lays down and takes a nap while the other two go off and play quietly by themselves. While this seems to take care of the immediate problem, what happens when Thistle wakes up and continues her competitive ways? The book does not solve the problem. This book could be used in situations where friends are having trouble sharing friends by opening up discussion.

 

Lakin, Patricia. Rainy Day. Ills. by Scott Nash. Dial Books, c2007. ISBN 0803730926. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd. (Q7, P6) Four crocodile friends become bored during a rainy day. Nothing to: make, bake, paint or play. They put on their rain clothes and go outside where they try all types of play but nothing works out because it is raining too much. Finally they end up in the library in a cozy corner to read about their favorite thing. The illustrations shows some detail in the animals clothing but are fairly plain otherwise will still create enjoyment for the young one to look at.

 

Gorbaschev, Valeri. Red Red Red. Philomel Books, c2007. ISNB 0399246282. Unp. $16.99. Grades PreS-2nd.. (Q7, P6) Turtle rushes by his neighbors who want to know why he is in such a hurry. When he tells them that he is off on a mission to see something red they all want to know if it is something they have, red roses, red tomatoes, red watermelon, red socks or a red roof? NO, so they all follow him to the top of the hill where they see the beautiful red sunset. The illustrations done in pen-and-ink watercolors show the animals all in clothing.

 

Loomis, Christime. The Best Father’s Day Present Ever. Ills. by Pam Paraone. G. P. Putnam’s Sons., c2007. ISBN 0399242538.m Unp. $15.99. Grades K-3rd. (Q4, P5) Langley, the snail, is looking for just the right Father’s Day present. Mom tells him to make him something, but Langley thinks of the past presents he has made and is not impressed with them. A picture which was suppose to be Dad’s favorite spot by the stream but looked like a “bluish-purplish monster dripping blue ooze”, a picture frame with gluey macaroni, a paperweight for his dad to take to work. The problem with that was Mr. Snail did not have a desk at work. He heads to the store but is too slow and the store closes before he arrives. On the way home Langley has an idea, he finally gives his dad an invitation for a walk. Together they enjoy the outdoors and everything it provides for a delightful time. This story again proves the idea that doing things together can be better than anything money can buy. This is a good book to read before Father’s Day but the long sentences and some of the text is hard to read for the younger child. (Turbo-Blaster-Car-Washer-and-Ice-Cream-Maker and Super-Duper-Golf-O-Matic-Home-Ball-Washer) The first of the book is somewhat comical but does not carry throughout till the end.

 

Sayre, April Pulley. Hush, Little Puppy. Ills. by Susan Winter. Henry Holt and Company, c2007. ISBN 0805071024. Unp. $15.95. Grades PreS-1st. (Q7, P6) It is time for the little puppy and boy to go to sleep. They think of all the fun they had during the day, running, splashing, sloppy smooches and fetching sticks. Tomorrow they can play again for now they are tired and ready to sleep. The cuddly warm illustrations help entice warm cuddly sleepy feelings.

 

Trine, Greg. Superhero, Terror in Tights. Ills. by Rhode Montijo. Henry Holt & CO., C2007. ISBN 0805079238. 138 Pgs. $16.95 Grades 3rd-5th. (Q6, P6) Melvin Beederman and his side kick, Candance are in trouble. The superhero duo is quite puzzled who is sending threatening e-mail to Melvin. Working together the two solve the problem finding out the person who is sending the e-mail. When this person comes to wipe out Melvin, they manage to thwart him and send him to the judge for his consequences.

 

Pfeffer, Wendy. We Gather Together, Celebrating the Harvest Season. Ills by Linda Bleck. Dutton Children’s Books, c2006. ISBN 0525476695. Unp. $17.99. Grades 2nd-5th. (Q8, P6) Pfeffer has created a great book on how harvests are gathered and celebrated by different cultures. She explains about the solstices and equinoxes in an easily understandable way. At the end of the book are activities you can do dealing with the equinoxes, showing how the tilt of the earth makes the seasons, a recipe for Equinox corn muffing instructions on making Nigerian harvest masks and how to celebrate. It also dedicates two pages on helping the reader with suggestions of other research information. The illustrations draw the reader into the text with its vibrant colors and helps weave interest into the book.

 

Carmody, Isobelle. Little fur, A Fox Called Sorrow. Random House, c2006. ISBN 0375838562. 245 Pgs, $14.99. Grades 3rd-6th. (Q6, P6) Little Fur is on a second adventure to thwart the Troll King’s plan to destroy the earth magic running through the natural world. Reading the first sequel is not necessary to enjoy this one, but it does build on the events of the first, The Legend Begins. Little Fur is joined by a new character, Sorrow, a fox which had no wish to live. Little Fur is half troll half fairy and had magical healing powers. The simple pen-and-ink drawings visualize some of the characters which should help the reader understand the feelings each animal has.

 

Guzman, Michael. Finding Stinko. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2007. ISBN 0374323054. 136 Pgs. $16.00. Grades 4th-8th (Q7, P6) After being left at birth and living in eleven foster homes in twelve years, Newboy manages to escape. He hasn’t talked in three years, one day he just quit talking and nobody knew why, especially Newboy. He finds an old broken ventriloquist’s dummy, names him Stinko, and Stinko becomes his voice. The story deals with friendships and the loyalty they inspire.

 

Strasser, Todd. Con-fidence. Holiday House, c2002. ISBN 0823420612. 154 Pgs. $6.95. Grades 5th-8th. (Q8, P6) Lauren lacks the confidence to try to belong with the “in crowd” until newcomer Celeste befriends her. Lauren doesn’t realize Celeste is using her to knock Krista off her throne. They run for class co-treasurer together but Lauren does all the work. They go shopping together but Lauren ends up buying all the snacks and paying for the taxis because Celeste has forgotten her wallet. The reader will pick up on the hints that Celeste is not a nice person, but Lauren doesn’t realize until the end that Celeste has actually stolen the class money and convinced Lauren to use her own money to replace it. Lauren finally learns a valuable lesson about the value of true friendship.

 

June 2007 Reviews

 

May Reviews 2007 DGH Media Specialist

Rumford, James, Don’t Touch My Hat!, Alfred Knopf Publisher, 2007, 978-0-375-83782, $16.99, unp., 1st-3rd graders

Beginning with end papers, which re-tell the story’s highlights in an old western newspaper format, to the ol’ west vernacular throughout, this multi-color paged book tells the story of good guy Sheriff John and his ten gallon hat. Using repetitive phrases like, “Don’t Touch My Hat” Sheriff John learns the lesson in the end that, “Its Your Heart, Not Your Hat” that makes the difference. This would be a fun read aloud that kids would find amusing and it has a lesson that can be a springboard to discussing what is really important in a person’s character. P7 Q6

 

McCarty, Peter, Fabian Escapes, Henry Holt & Co., 2007, 978-0-8050-7713-1, $16.95, unp., 1st-3rd graders

Muted beige paper and brown text add feeling tone to this simple storyline and beautiful illustrations by Caldecott Honor recipient Peter McCarty. For those who loved Hondo and Fabian, this book contrasts a day shared by both of them. Hondo stays at home while Fabian escapes to the wide world outside… but who has more fun and who causes more trouble before the day is over… P8 Q8

 

Clark, Mary Higgins, illustrated by Wendell Minor, Ghost Ship A Cape Cod Story, Simon & Schuster Books, 2007, 978-1-4169-3514-8, $17.99 unp. 3rd-5th graders

Author of many adult mysteries, Clark writes this picture book for young children using an old Cape Cod ghost story as her vessel. There is quite a bit of text and new vocabulary, and readers learn about sailing and living in New England 250 years ago, but the illustrations bring the story alive for young readers. P8 Q7

 

Mathews, John, Pirates Most Wanted, Atheneum Books, 2007, 978-1-4169-3934-4, $19.95, 5th-8th graders

With a jolly roger on the cover, complete with a jewel in the eye of the skull, this book is sure to attract attention! It is almost a novelty book because it has fold out pages, notes that have to be unfolded, and booklets stapled to pages. It is packed with information (almost too crowded) about 13 infamous pirates and their trade of plundering. It is not for the timid with blood splashed on almost every page, and images of a severed finger, battle scenes, and executions. The author uses many historical images, Wyeth paintings of pirates, cut away diagrams, and other eye catchers so that the reader is constantly visually stimulated, but the text is sometimes difficult to read because font styles and size are changed up throughout the book. I wouldn’t purchase because the format is such that the book will be beat up and torn up after a few checkouts, and it seems to be a rip-off of the “ology” books that fly off the shelves of elementary libraries, but pirate lovers would probably enjoy it as a gift from their loved ones. P9 Q6

 

Lester, Julius, This Strange New Feeling: Three Love Stories from Black History, Dial Books, 1982, 0-8037-8491-0, $16.99, 7th-9th graders

Historical fiction on the story collection shelf probably won’t be found and read in libraries, but those who are intrigued about slaves and slavery, and the fact that love can grow even in this condition will be pleased with this Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Each of the three stories were developed from historical documents, researched, and then fictionalized by the author. P8 Q9

 

June Book Reviews L.F., NMS & INMS

 

Fiction Selections

Willis, Jeanne. Who’s in the Bathroom? Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $12.99 ISBN: 978-1-4169-3516-2 np. Gr. PK-1 Not really just another “gross humor” book, Willis’ tale is more a “it’s my potty and I’ll pry if I want to” poem. Reynolds’ bright and fun water color follow the exploration, “is it a tiger who needed to tiddle”, or a “wandering wombat who wanted to widdle?” and so forth. The portrayals of the various creatures are amusing and engaging, and this would make a great read-aloud for the younger set, possibly used as a prelude to a lesson on bathroom etiquette. P7 Q6

 

Christelow, Eileen. Letters from a Desperate Dog. Clarion Books, New York, 2006. $16.00 ISBN:978-0-618-51003-0 32 p. Gr. 1-3 Emma is an underappreciated, misunderstood mutt who shares her trials with Queenie, an email canine “Dear Abby” from the Weekly Bone. After several tries, Emma takes Quennie’s advice and gets a job, which leads to a career on stage and on the road. Her former owner publishes and posts “missing dog” ads and Emma realizes that she is loved, after all. They are reunited after one of her stage performances, but all is not perfect, as she continues her “bad doggie” behavior. It’s a fun story, handled in a quasi-graphic novel style, which would appeal to older elementary kids who might be encouraged to write their own story in this format. P6 Q 6

 

Sidjanski, Brigitte. Little Chicken & Little Fox. Illustrated by Sarah Emmanuelle Burg. Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-698-40044-5 np. Gr. PK-1 This book has it all – a touching story, exquisite illustrations, and chickens. It’s a story of two unlikely friends (fox and hen) who help each other. Young children will be easily relate to the fox’s predicament and will be soothed by the chicken’s courage and determination. The watercolor and pencil illustrations are wonderfully understated and skillfully rendered. A great read-aloud. P6 Q 8

 

Weston, Carrie. If a Chicken Stayed for Supper. Illustrated by Sophie Fatus. Holiday House, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8234-2067-1 np. Gr. PK-1 Almost identical in theme to the Sidjanski book above, Weston’s tale is about young foxes who are ‘found’ by a helpful hen. While not nearly so ‘warm and fuzzy’ in text or illustration as the other book, Weston’s is far more amusing and creatively presented. P7 Q9

 

Baddiels, Ivor and Sophie Jubb. Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack! Illustrated by Ailie Busby. Random House, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 978-0-385-75104-9 np. Gr. PK – 1. A fun read aloud, this book follows the travails of a young rooster who is learning the appropriate way to crow. Illustrations are bright and engaging. P6 Q6

 

Arnold, Tedd. The Twin Princes. Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 938-0-8037-2696-3 np. Gr. 1-3 Readers expecting the usual cornball, slapstick comedy from Tedd Arnold will be refreshingly surprised and impressed with The Twin Princes. Expanding on a riddle his father shared with him long ago, Arnold weaves a tale of two very different twin princes, one thoughtful and the other thoughtless. As they vie for the title of king, the riddle comes into play. Arnold manages to give a strong lesson on kindness, but leaves out none of his usual shenanigans – there’s enough puns and craziness to engage even the most reluctant reader. A great classroom read-aloud! P8 Q10

 

Baker, Sharon Reiss. A Nickel, a Trolley, a Treasure House. Illustrated by Beth Peck. Viking, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-670-05982-9 np. Gr. 3-5 Baker’s story, loosely based on a biographical sketch of her grandfather, is a snapshot of what urban boyhood must have been like around the turn of the century. The story centers around young Lionel, a gifted young artist, and Miss Morrissey, a teacher who befriends him and treats him to a visit at the Met. There he discovers “the world through the artists’ eyes.” It’s a sweet and engaging tale of a young lad who grew up in poverty and made good in the art world (among his many creations is the MGM lion.) Peck’s illustrations, while dark and hardly cheery, are true to Reiss’ Reconstructionist style that he became noted for. This book would be a great addition to classroom studies in art, as it segways nicely into how artists portray their environment. P6 Q8

 

Ibbotson, Eva. Not just a Witch. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Dutton, New York, 2003. $15.99 ISBN:0-525-47101-4 185 p. Gr. 4-8 Following the same format as the more rollicking Which Witch?, Ibbotson has spun another imaginative tale centering on well-meaning, good witches. The romp is convoluted, yet fast-paced and engaging for even reluctant readers. Characters are richly developed, and Hawkes’ pen and ink illustrations add a nice spice. P7 Q6

 

Henry, O. The Gift of the Magi. Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 978-1-4169-3586-5 np. Gr. 3-5 Wonderful, timeless story + exquisite illustrations = great book? Should be, but the font that they selected for this text makes it incredibly difficult to read, especially for younger children. The illustrations, while charming and very authentic-looking, are too detailed and dark to make this edition an engaging read-aloud for a classroom. Still, it’s a beautiful coffee-table book and would make a great holiday gift to a young family. P5 Q8

 

Nonfiction Selections

Pringle, Laurence. Penguins! Strange and Wonderful. Illustrated by Meryl Henderson. Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale PA, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 1-59078-090-6 32 p. Gr. 2-6 This thoughtfully organized and nicely presented book covers all 17 species of penguins found on earth. While it’s not one of those books you would go “oh wow” about, the depth and quality of information given is actually very unique for a young children’s book. The detailed water color illustrations are nicely done and technically perfect, but have a “magazine” feel to them; not surprising, since Boyds Mill Press is actually a division of Highlights for Children publishing. As crazy as kids are about penguins and as few really good nonfiction books are out there on them, this is a must have for any elementary school library. Includes websites for further information. P8 Q8

 

Edelman, Marian Wright. I can make a difference. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Harper Collins, New York, 2005. $20.89 ISBN: 978-0-06-028052-9 112 p. Gr. 3-7 I really wanted to like this book; besides having a great purpose (inspiring young people), the illustrator is fabulous. What I found was a book of poorly selected and badly organized quotes that were only passively illustrated, totally a half-hearted attempt. For example, Moser’s watercolor portrait of George Washington Carver should accompany Carver’s quote, but it comes a page later. Moser’s usually scintillating graphics are mostly pretty dull and unimaginative, not inspiring in the least. The text is similarly lackluster; many of the passages are out of place and don’t relate well to each other, even though the theme should clearly be unifying. Out of the thirty or so selections Edelman includes, over half are either too preachy or too convoluted to engage elementary-aged (grades 2-4) youth, the audience the book is aimed at. I believe it would be better presented to older elementary or early middle-school, where it could be part of a unit that explores fables, religion, etc. It’s the sort of book that adults who don’t have kids buy for kids or give as awards. It’s sad to me, as there are so many wonderful stories and quotes that Edelman might have selected that would have made this a fantastic tool for bringing character education to our schools. P 5 Q 5

 

Rozakis, Laurie. Get Test Smart!. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $7.99 ISBN: 0-439-87880-2 144 p. Gr. 6-9 Rozakis has written a very helpful and comprehensive guide that should appeal to most middle school PARENTS. Well, that’s a start, anyway. Unfortunately, the presentation is so monotonous (even with the ample white space and colored font – it cries out for graphics) that not many kids would stay with it for more than a couple of pages. However, this would make a great addition to a teacher’s library, as there are many pages that would make helpful worksheets or overheads for classroom use. Includes T of C, sample tests & answers, index, and many blank pages for notes. P5 Q7

 

Ryan-Herndon, Lisa. Guiness World Records: To the Extreme. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $14.99 ISBN: 0-439-86562-x 144 p. Gr. 5-8 A fun book, this one is sure to get lots of circulation and engage even the most reluctant readers. The organization of the book is a bit different than most Guiness World Record books, as it includes a “Quiz Me” page after each section that not only is fun, but encourages better reading comprehension. Includes T of C, Index. P10 Q7

 

Miller, Lee. Roanoke: The Mystery of the Lost Colony. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $18.99 ISBN: 0-439-71266-1 112 p. Gr. 4-9 Feeling like you have only gotten part of the story after you read a book isn’t always a bad thing: this book is a Pandora’s box. I want to know more about Roanoke because of Miller’s account, and I would bet that kids reading this might feel the same way. The author’s theory that Roanoke’s disappearance was part of a royal conspiracy is controversial among scholars, yet this book presents no other arguments. Does it need to? Maybe not, but libraries/classrooms purchasing this book would be advised to also purchase other author’s treatments of the topic. For young explorers, the Stemple/Yolen book of the same title would probably appeal more. Includes: T of C, ‘historical cast’ list, Roanoke time line, source notes, and index. P7 Q7

 

Brashich, Audrey. All Made Up. Illustrated by Shawn Banner. Walker & Company, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 0-8027-8074-1 147 p. Gr. 7- 12. Braschich subtitled her book “a girl’s guide to seeing through celebrity hype and celebrating real beauty.” Topics range from celebrity worship to celebrating real, inner beauty. The chatty and engaging text, written by a former model who has been through the hype mill is thoroughly enlightening and inspiring. BUY THIS FOR YOUR LIBRARY, your classroom, or your daughter: it’s an important and informative book that young women need access to. Includes T of C, resources, notes. P8 Q8

 

Siebold, J. Otto Quincy, the hobby photographer. Harcourt, New York, 2006. $14.95 ISBN: 0-15-101494-9 61 p. Gr. 2-5. OK, this book is pretty funny and very creative. It might even get kids interested in photography. But a “complete guide to do-it-yourself dog photography” (as it says it is on the cover) IT IS NOT. I can’t believe other reviewers said ages 4-8 for this, either: the reading level is much higher and the humor would be completely missed by the younger fans of Siebold’s earlier, famed work Olive the Other Reindeer. Sometimes I’m not so sure what planet some reviewers come from. P7 Q7

 

McPherson, James. Into the West. Antheneum, New York, 2006. $22.95 ISBN:978-0-689-86543-5 96 p. Gr. 3-8 Booklist and School Library Journal reviewers dismissed this book and advise that a better purchase would be Sonneborn’s The American West. I would have to disagree with this recommendation, because I don’t believe the latter book gives anything more than a cursory portrait of the topic. While Into the West is far from presenting comprehensive coverage of “reconstruction to the final days of the American frontier,” it gives tidbits that draw kids in and make them want to know more. The arrangement of the text is nicely done; “quick facts” sidebars accompany each page. Additionally, there are as many pages dedicated to photos and illustrations as there are to text, which makes this more attractive to young readers. Includes T of C, timeline, glossary, bibliography, webliography, and index. P6 Q10

 

Bradley, Timothy. Paleo Sharks: Survival of the Strangest. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2007. $15.95 ISBN: 0-8118-4878-7 46 p. Gr. 2-up WOW, WOW, WOW! This book belongs in every middle and elementary library, where it will get lots of circulation. The topic of the book: ancient sharks – is meticulously and creatively explored by artist Tim Bradley. I showed this book to my marine biologist (and former editor) husband, wanting to see if he felt the topic was sensationalized or over-simplified. I didn’t get the book back for 2 days, as he took it to work to show his cohorts, who were impressed with the depth and clarity of presentation (no pun intended) and the technical accuracy. This is an amazing book, beautifully wrought. Includes T of C, glossary, further readings, bibliography P9 Q10

 

Rylant, Cynthia. The Journey: Stories of Migration. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. Scholastic, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN:0-590-30717-7 np. Gr. pK-4 I can’t summarize this any better than the author did: “here are the stories of some remarkable travelers. The lcuse, the whale, the eel, the butterfly, the caribou, the tern – so different from each other but so alike in one profound way: Each must move.” Gifted Rylant has managed to put high drama into six very different tales of animal migration, without anthropomorphizing or sensationalizing. It’s so beautifully done, we might forget that it’s nonfiction. Indeed, it would be a great classroom read-aloud, it’s that engaging and interesting. P8 Q10

 

Lorrie, Peter. Hidden World of the Aztec. Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale, PA, 2006. $17.95 ISBN: 978-1-59078-069-5 48 p. Gr. 3-7 My personal feeling is that it’s impossible for a middle school library to have too many books on Aztecs. This book, while not as comprehensive or as detailed as others, brings new passion to the subject and belongs in every middle school library. As one reviewer wrote: “I love Peter Lourie’s books because they help students see that real adventure is still taking place in a real world.” It’s obvious from his many photos and the text that Lourie loves what he is writing about and immerses himself totally in his research. One thing I really enjoyed about the book was that it gives the reader a feeling that he is part of the discovery.

Lourie even makes the reader part of the discussion, by challenging us to draw our own conclusions from the anthropologists’ research. P6 Q8

 

Biography

Neimark, Anne E. Up close: Johnny Cash. Viking, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 978-0-670-06215-7 207 p. Gr. 7-9 This engaging biography is a rich and detailed portrait of a complicated and conflicted man. While not an easy reader, it’s one that is hard to put down because the story is so interesting and full of depth. The author doesn’t spare many details when she describes Cash’s hardscrabble upbringing, tragedies, wild times, and struggles with drug abuse. Well-researched and documented, the author includes many of Cash’s songs and photos. Includes T of C, source notes, bibliography, index, and permissions. P6 Q7

 

Fradin, Judith Bloom and Dennis Brindell Fradin. Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy. Clarion Books, New York, 2006. $21.00 ISBN: 0-618-50436-2 216 p. Gr. 4-8 This book sets the gold standard for young adult biographies. It is simply outstanding; the writing is succinct, yet engaging, the research meticulous and well presented, and the organization of the text and illustrations is impeccable. Addams character and foibles shine throughout the text, and readers will be easily engaged and inspired by the drama of her life and accomplishments. Includes T of C, afterword, source notes, bibliography, and index. P6 Q10

 

Burleigh, Robert. Stealing Home. Illustrated by Mike Wimmer. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 0-689-86276-8 np. Gr. 1-5 A gorgeously, powerfully illustrated book, Stealing Home has elements that should’ve made it a great first biography, but it falls short. The main storyline is engaging and poetic enough and there are snippets of sentences given on each page. Unfortunately, the author chose to introduce details via sidebars (presented in a baseball card frame) on each page that totally distract from the story and makes this less than a perfect read-aloud for young classrooms. Overall, though, it is a very interesting and creatively produced book and would be a nice addition to any elementary school library. Includes notes and bibliography. P8 Q7

 

Keating, Frank. Theodore. Illustrated by Mike Wimmer. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-689-86532-9 np. Gr. 3-5 It’s rare to see a biography that is enticing, interesting, and drop-dead gorgeous. Keating’s treatment of Theodore Roosevelt is all that and more; it truly is a creative masterpiece. Governor Keating’s text is succinct and simple and he narrates as though Teddy himself was dictating it. While it may seem a bit grandiose, Keating uses quotes taken directly from Roosevelt’s writings, and he stays true to Teddy’s great sense of inspiration and service. Wimmer’s accomplished oils lend a very human touch to the story, and his liberal use of red and orange add considerable warmth. Together, the illustrations and text make this a good choice for a classroom read-aloud, and an excellent first biography. An important addition to an elementary school library. P6 Q8

 

Gillis, Jennifer Blizin. Mercy Otis Warren. Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, 2006. $9.95 ISBN: 0-7565-0982-3 111 p. Gr. 3-8 This meticulously researched and well-organized biography has just enough human drama to keep young readers engaged. There are quite a few illustrations that illuminate the text, which is written in a very straightforward, if dry, manner. Mercy Otis Warren was born into a family of independent thinkers and she became involved with the fight for independence, using her considerable writing skills to inspire and inform. Later, she became the first American woman to author a history book. Contains T of C, timeline, additional resources list, glossary, source notes, bibliography, index, and credits. P5 Q8

 

Ernst, Lisa Campbell. The gingerbread girl. (Dutton Children’s Books, c2007). ISBN 0525476679 $16.99 Ages 3-6. P7Q7

The lonely couple who baked the ill-fated gingerbread boy decides to try again, with a sweet little gingerbread girl. However, the candy-coated girl with amazing licorice whip hair, leaps out of the oven and repeats her famous brother’s run to the river, only to out-fox the fox, and change the lonely couple’s lives with her charm and wit. A pleasant addition to the fractured fairy tale genre, recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Heide, Iris van der. The red chalk. Illustrated by Marije Tolman. (Front Street/Lemniscaat, c2005) ISBN 1932425799 $15.95 Ages 3-7. P7Q6

Although the plot of this translated picture book is similar in many aspects to several other folk tales, the bored little girl’s suggestions for successive trades of red chalk, marbles, a lollipop, a yo-yo, and a flute bring magic and imagination to the children she meets on the way. Recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

June 2007 Reviews, JC

Kelly, John. Scoop! : an exclusive by Monty Molenski. Additional words and pictures by John Kelly & Cathy Tincknell. (Candlewick Press, c2007) ISBN 0763630594 $15.99 Ages 4-7 and up. P7Q7

Monty Molenski, junior reporter/photographer for a tabloid, is longing for a front-page story, but has trouble discerning what he sees through his camera lens. In trying to find out where all the other reporters are going, he fulfills his dream. An action-packed tale, as much fun as reading the front pages of the supermarket tabloids. Recommended for public and school libraries. Highly recommended for high school journalism classes, just for the fun of it.

 

Emmett, Jonathan. She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain. Illustrations, Deborah Allwright. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006) ISBN 9781416936527/1416936521 $16.99 Ages 3-6. P8Q6

A horribly cute rendition of the traditional song, featuring pink ruffled pajamas on young outlaw, Bonnie Bandit. I don’t see that this rendition adds much to the original song, and the illustrations are decidedly cute. But, if your collection needs more pink ruffles, by all means, spend the money to add it to public and school library collections. Otherwise, buy something good.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers

 

Reviews by N.W. – June 2007

 

Nonfiction

Cooper, Ilene. Oprah Winfrey: Media Queen. [Up Close Series]. Viking, 2007. $15.99. 0-670-06162-4. 204p. Ages 12-15: The struggles experienced by this African-American woman who went from a life of poverty when she was shuttled among her grandmother’s farm, her mother’s cramped city apartment, and her father’s restricted lifestyle is told by a respected author using a variety of sources. Quite positive toward the subject, this biography shows her emotional issues with weight gain and the hostility from her half-sister and the beef industry. A debut title in this biography series about the impact that 20th-century leaders, artists, and legends have had on the world. P7Q8

 

Levine, Ellen. Rachel Carson: Environmentalist. [Up Close Series]. Viking, 2007. $15.99. 0-670-06220-1. 224p. Ages 12-15: The first in her family to graduate from college, Carson became a biologist in an age when there were few female scientists and wrote a book that created an environmental revolution. Well-paced chapters filled with relevant quotes trace Carson’s passion for the science of living things as well as her selflessness in caring for family members. The author emphasizes the subject’s struggles in overcoming the prevailing attitudes of women’s roles during her lifetime (which ended in 1964 of a cancer inflicted because of her research). P7Q8

 

Marcus, Leonard S. Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark. Walker, 2007. $19.95. 0-827-9600-1. 56p. Ages 10+: The book critic/historian and author of Side by Side and A Caldecott Celebration returns with another book about authors and illustrators for young readers. Each family—Crews, Hurd, Myers, Pinkney, and Rockwell—is given nine or ten pages which are illustrated with ink studies for their books, completed illustrations, photographs of the authors/illustrators, and reproductions of editors’ letters with ideas for changes as the books progressed. Some of the families are more artistic than others: for example, Walter Dean Myers has never been considered an artist. And the audience for the book is questionable. Adults will be far more interested in the book than young readers who tend to prefer reading the actual books. Yet some of the information will draw them in, for example, the fact that two of the five parent illustrators, Myers and Anne Rockwell, were raised in foster homes. The introduction also discusses how family traits are passed down through the generations. P5Q8

 

Picture Books

Freedman, Deborah. Scribble. Knopf, 2007. $15.99. 0-375-83966-5. unp. Ages 3-6: Black childlike drawings—and scribbles—on white and bright pink and yellow backgrounds follow the rivalry between two sisters, the older who draws the “beautiful” Princess Aurora and the younger who seems to scratch out a kitten. The realistic drawings of the two girls follow the argument as the older ridicules the drawing of the younger until the younger marks all over the princess and then follows a kitten, Scribble, as they go into the older sister’s picture. This delightful and realistic representation of squabbling, resentment, and remorse, a debut picture book, shows great promise for the creator of this book, an architect with two daughters. Visit Scribble and Princess Aurora at http://www.deborahfreedman.net. P10Q10.

 

Holt, Kimberly Willis. Skinny Brown Dog. Il. Donald Saaf. Holt, 2007. $16.95. 0-8050-7587-9. unp. Ages 4-7: Watercolors, acrylic, and color pencils highlight this poignant tale of a dog who tries to adopt a baker who thinks that he has no need for the animal in his life. The book provides a plethora of creatures from the polar bear baker to the other characters—Miss Patterson, the elephant; Sam, the porcupine; and children and medical professionals, a collection of birds and mammals. The dog’s getting help for the baker when he breaks his leg convinces him that the dog (whose name is now Brownie) would be a great companion. This is a wonderful story of community support illustrated in a very humorous way. P9Q9

 

Johnson, Angela. Lily Brown’s Paintings. Il. E.B. Lewis. Orchard Books, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-78225-8. unp. Ages 3-6: Painting can change the way that a person sees the world as Lily discovers when interprets her world in bright paintings of fruit, a nightscape reminiscent of Van Gogh, the park with lounging alligators, a beach scene, and ultimately her own family. A wondrous journey through a child’s imagination, this book will provide much food for creative thought. P9Q9

 

Raschka, Chris. The Purple Balloon. Schwartz & Wade/Random House, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-84146-0. unp. Ages 3+: Balloons are the characters in this book about death as they talk about the people who work “to make dying not so hard” and the value of having family because “Good help makes leaving easier.” The muted colors of the balloons give a peaceful, comforting feeling at the same time that they seem buoyant. The Caldecott Award winning author/illustrator worked in conjunction with Children’s Hospice International to create this gentle, reassuring book for seriously ill children and the people who love them. This is an important book for all libraries. P7Q10

 

Graphic Novels

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Camp Babymouse. Random House, 2007. $5.99. 0-375-83988-7. 95p. Ages 7-10: Poor Babymouse has as many problems at camp as she does anywhere else as she continues her fantasies of superiority and ends up causing her cabin to come in worse than last in the camp competition. Despite her difficulties, however, she succeeds in leading her group and winning them over as friends. As always with this series, readers will take delight and empathy in her misadventures. P8Q8

 

Pyle, Kevin C. Blindspot. Holt, 2007. $13.95. 0-8050-7998-X. unp. Ages 9-13: Reality and fantasy blend in this sensitive comic-like drawings to show Dean’s struggle to grow up when he moves to the suburbs and becomes friends with three boys bent on destruction in the neighborhood. While playing the war games with the boys, Dean becomes belligerent in school, leading his parents to take him to a psychologist for an evaluation. The solution seems a bit pat which a homeless man brings Dean back to reality and a positive attitude, but the book is a good story and a good lesson for young people who will accept it. P9Q8

 

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Scholastic, 2007. $22.99. 0-439-81378-6. 533p. Ages 8+: It’s difficult to select a genre for this book, but with the 284 pages of drawings and the many other pages of almost no text, I’m guessing that it could be called a graphic novel. Selznick uses a filmic technique to present the drawings, moving the eye closer and closer in subsequent drawings to focus the attention on a specific subject. The multitude of angles and close-ups makes this book unique in its genre and a treat for the eye. Fortunately, the story is exciting enough so that children not knowledgeable about film can appreciate the tale without understanding the historical references. Briefly, the novel features Hugo, a boy in 1931 Paris who lives on his own after his father dies and his drunken uncle disappears, earning a living by continuing to repair clocks. As Hugo tries to mend a mechanical figure that draws, an automaton, he encounters a girl who helps him and a bitter old man who turns out to be the legendary George Melies, an early cinema legend who made the film that Hugo’s father taught him to love. Many young people will love this book. P8Q10

 

Fiction

Carey, Janet Lee. Dragon’s Keep. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00. 0-15-205926-2. 302p. Ages 12+: Legend and history combined with a story of a deformed princess who must go fight the angry dragons result in an exciting, romantic tale in this charming addition to dragon lore. At 14, Rosalind needs a husband but is held back by the dragon’s claw that replaces her left-hand ring finger, a curse that Merlin had foretold six hundred years before. Unlike many dragon books, characters are neither all evil or good: Rosalind’s mother is so protective of her daughter that she kills anyone who gets in her way; the adult dragon treats Rosalind abominably, but the hatchlings mostly get along fine with her. There’s lots of adventure, bravery, and an understanding that love is not always what you might think it is in a book that’s is not always predictable. It’s fun! P8Q8

 

Cooney, Caroline B. Enter Three Witches. Scholastic, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-71156-8. 281p. Ages 13-15: In this ambitious undertaking, this popular YA author uses Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a background for her story of Mary, a young girl who becomes a ward of Lord and Lady Macbeth after her father betrays the king and is hanged for treason. Blood freely flows as Mary tries to protect others, often failing. Each chapter is headed by a quotation from the play although they are not in any particular order. The book is better read as a stand-alone instead of trying to connect it to the classic tragedy, but Cooney has honed her craft so that descriptions and characterizations are full and interesting. P7Q8

 

D’Lacey, Chris. Fire Star. Orchard Books, 2005. $15.99. 0-439-84582-3. 549p. Ages 12+: The evil threatening to take over the world in the two earlier books, The Fire Within and Icefire, returns more strongly than ever as college student David takes his research trip to the Arctic with girlfriend Zanna, Lucy is kidnapped, and Gwilanna fights to let the dragons come in through the portal and assume control of the Earth. Delightfully convoluted plotting, including the possibility that David’s writing will become true, follows all the characters—replete with the living clay dragons that Liz makes and the magical polar bears–throughout the UK and up to the snowy north. Fantasy and adventure lovers will gobble down this fast-paced book right down to the exciting end. P7Q8

 

Garden, Nancy. Hear Us Out!: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present. FSG, 2007. $18.00. 0-374-31759-3. 230p. Ages 12+: Beginning with the 1950s, Garden covers each decade through 2000 by prefacing the decade with an historical setting of social and political events and then presenting two stories for each decade which give a sense of what life was like for these teens growing up then. The stories reflect the highly closeted life of the 1950s, the growing sense of gay pride and openness, to the greater sense of freedom, except for gay marriage and gay parenting, of the early years of the 21st century by exploring the emotional experiences of young gay people coming of age during those times. The essays are clearly stated with personal references from the author about her experiences, and the short stories give vivid insight into that being gay during that time really felt like. An important addition for libraries of all sizes from the author of Annie on My Mind. P6Q8

 

Leeds, Constance. The Silver Cup. Viking, 2007. $16.99. 0-670-06157-0. 212p. Ages 12+: In a novel facing the constrictions of prejudice, 15-year-old Anna, a German Catholic girl, faces shunning in her village by protecting a Jewish girl whose home, family, and community were destroyed by the Crusaders in 1095. This debut novel is filled with fascinating period details in a rich, colorful picture of lives marked by courage, will, and hope. It also provides lessons for today’s growing schisms among religious groups. P7Q7

 

Martinez, A. Lee. A Nameless Witch. TOR, 2007. $24.95. 0-7653-1868-7. 320p. Ages 14+: The family curse was intended to make the victim hideous and undead. Only the undead worked; the victim was born—and stayed—beautiful. After living in the basement until the age of 18 with the basic needs just tossed down the stairs by her parents, the witch is purchased by Ghastly Edna who teaches the girl all the witchy arts before she is killed by nonhuman men. This event leads the nameless witch into exciting and funny adventures as she travels at first with her familiar, Newt the demonic duck, and her faithful broom, Penelope, before she acquires the company first of Gwurm the troll and then of White Knight Wyst of the West on her quest. To stop a mad sorcerer from destroying the world, they face a journey filled with menace, monsters, and magic—mostly done in a hilarious fashion. Reminiscent of Terry Pratchett’s novels, this properly witchly read comes from an Alex Award-winner. I’ll be watching for his next novel, preferably a sequel! P8Q9

 

September 2007 Reviews by Toledo Parent Volunteer S.E.

 

Fiction

Werlin, Nancy The Rules of Survival Edgar award winner 2006, Dial Books, member of Penquin Group. NY.NY. ISBN 0803730012. $16.99 259p

A brutal story of three children trying to survive their childhood with a terribly violent and mentally disturbed mother. The point of view is from the older brother writing the story to his younger sister to not only try to figure out why their life was as it was but to explain it to her as well. Ages 13-17. Q7 P6

 

Ferris, Jean. Much ado about Grubstake, population 62 Harcourt Books, Orlando Fla. 2006 ISBN 0152057064 $17.00. 265p.

This is a cute mystery set in the 1800’s, 10,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies. The town has no sheriff or law enforcement and the women (some girls too) run the town, which was mining town until the gold ran out. It is a fun read and written so that one can picture the events as they happen. I would like to see this put in the schools because it shows that in the “old west”, the girls and women who were left behind were leading profitable and stimulating lives without the menfolk who had either died in the mines or moved away seeking a better life. Ages 11-16 Q8P8

 

Scott, Kieran. Brunettes strike back The Penguin group GP Putnam and sons, 2006. ISBN039924493x. $17.00. 249p.

This is a cute high school cheerleaders story of love and jealousy and peer pressure. The message conveyed that a girl didn’t have to conform to “fit in”. although it is yet

another of the cheerleading genre, it is well written and humorous and will be enjoyed by girls ages 11-17. Q8P8

 

Thompson, Lauren, Il. Buket Erdogan. Mouse’s first Fall Simon and Schuster Books for Young readers. NY. 2006. $13.00 .

A wonderfully brightly illustrated easy read a-loud-book about mice in the fall leaves by the creators of the NY Times best selling “Mouse’s First” series. I would like to see this book put in our school’s libraries. The illustrations alone will make this a popular book for the primary grades. Ages 5-7. Q10 P10

 

Bell, Cece, Il. Cece Bell Sock Monkey Rides Again. Candlewick Press Ma. 2006. $14.00.

This is a primitive digitally illustrated book that the kids will like because it is a “too easy” read and involves sock monkey having to kiss a girl for a part in the movie he was cast in. I wasn’t impressed but it will probably be sought after because all kids know sock monkey and the boys will be able to relate to the kiss-a-girl thing Ages K-2. Q6 P8

 

Non-Fiction

Lauber, Patricia, Il. Mandes, John. What You Never Knew About Beds, Bedrooms, and Pajamas. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, NY, 2006. $17.00.

This is a really informative book that will appeal to all ages. The illustrations are great and the humor will have the reader wanting to go on to the next page. Ages 7-11. Q9 P9

 

Raatma, Lucia. Queen Noor, American born Queen of Jordan. Compass Point Books, Minn, 2006. $16.00.

This biography of Lisa Halaby, the young American who married the King of Jordan, historically covers a lot of the problems of the middle east from the early 1900’s to the present day including the death of Sadam Hussein and the influence she had on the people of Jordan. It is well written and may appeal to grades 7-12. Q8P6

 

Zeitz, Joshua. Flappers. Crown Publishers, a division of Random House, NY 2006. 291p. $25.00.

A comprehensive narrative of the flapper era bringing in the independence of women through suffragettes and the not-so-Victorian girl of the 20’s, the Flapper. Emphasis is put on F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda ho lived the high life with artists such as Picasso and Miro in France and living the life of what the flapper stood for according to F.Scott Fitzgerald. It also focuses on Clara Bow and the whole Hollywood scene and the decay of social morals. Using Coco Chanel as the spearhead of women’s fashions, the book delves into the dress of the modern women during the roaring 20’s. This book is very well written and I think it would appeal to the students in 11th and 12th grade who are into social change and how it all came about. Q8P8

 

September Book Reviews D.G.H. Media Specialist

Snicket, Lemony, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid. Harper Collins, 2007, $12.99, 13-978-0-06-124006-5, 168p., Grades 9-12

Lemony attempts to keep his dry, acerbic wit in front of readers, but the bitter truth here is that he doesn’t know who his audience is. Grade school kids have come to love his style in the 13 book series of unfortunate events, but this book must be directed at an adult audience because his chapters reflect life experiences. He has take quips and quotes from speeches and musings and has packaged them into short stories and “bumper sticker” phrases (never look a gift lion in the mouth). Print size varies throughout the book as does the philosophical advice he imparts. Like horseradish, this book should be consumed sparingly. P4 Q3

 

Hyde, Catherine Ryan, The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance Alfred A. Knopf, 2007, $15.99, 978-0-375-83257-4, 228p, Grades 8-12 A young girl of 14 is drawn into alcoholism even though she vows not to be like her mother. This is a story that is just gritty enough that readers can identify, but without the effect of shocking language or scenes. Readers glimpse how a character can be pulled in to addiction without being “bad” and is able to pull herself out again without being “perfect”. Interesting story of how the 12 Steps of AA are played out, and why support is so essential to recovery. I will buy this book for our secondary schools! P9 Q8

 

September Book Reviews L.F. Volunteer NMS & INMS

 

Non-Fiction Selections

Davies, Nicola. Extreme Animals. Illustrated by Neal Layton. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA, 2006. $12.99 ISBN:0-7636-3067-5 61 p. Gr.3-8

This cute little book is chock full of interesting facts about extremist animals. It’s hard to imagine how the author collected such a treasure trove of trivia, like fact that spiders can live without food for 18 months, but she did and it is truly amazing. As we might expect from the collaborators behind Poop: A Natural History of the Unmentionable, this tome is weirdly informative, peppered with funny illustrations, and irresistible – even to the most reluctant readers. Includes index, glossary. P7 Q8

 

Cooper, Michael L. Jamestown, 1607. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $18.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1948-7 98 p. Gr. 4-8

Despite printing errors noted on the errata insert placed in this edition, Jamestown, 1607 is a meticulously produced interpretation of the scant information available about the Jamestown settlement and its fate. While not a book that has a lot of shelf appeal to young readers, the text is engaging and easy to follow. Liberally peppered with maps and illustrations taken from John Smith’s many publications, the text – which covers coastal exploration, settlement Roanoke to the death of Smith in 1631 – leans heavily on Smith’s observations. Includes T of C, timeline, source notes, internet sites, index and other miscellany. P5 Q8

 

O’Brien, Patrick. The Mutiny on the Bounty. Walker & Company, New York, 2007. $17.95 ISBN: 978-0-8027-9587-8 40 p. Gr. 2-7

This beautifully wrought version of the tale of mutiny on the high seas blurs the distinction between picture book and graphic novel, creating a masterpiece of juvenile fiction that will bring drama, history, and adventure to even the most reluctant readers. This book, along with O’Brien’s The Great Ships, would be an excellent addition to elementary libraries and classrooms. Includes bibliographical references. P7 Q8

 

St. George, Judith. Make Your Mark, Franklin Roosevelt. Illustrated by Britt Spencer. Philomel Books, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-399-24175-8 48 p. Gr.2-5

The third in the author’s intimate biographies about US Presidents, Make Your Mark covers the birth of FDR to his graduation from Groton. St. George succeeds in painting a portrait of a young man who was born to a life of privilege, doted on by an overprotective mother and isolated from society. Only through his exposure to Groton’s guest speakers and the Reverend Endicott Peabody does FDR hear about slavery, slums, and other social ills and become inspired to live a life of service to others. The cartoonish, animated, and skillfully wrought illustrations lend an air of excitement and add interest to the text. Illustrator Spencer has a background in psychology, and his portraits are rich with character and feeling. This, coupled with the lively text, makes for a good classroom read-aloud. Includes bibliography. P5 Q7

 

High, Linda Oatman. The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg. Walker & Company, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 32 p. Gr. 2-4

Written from the perspective of the seven year old son of the caretaker of Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery, this account covers the arrival of the Confederate army in Gettysburg to Lincoln’s November speech. Based on the written account of Elizabeth Thorn, the boy’s mother who managed to bury 100 soldiers in the rockiest part of the cemetery while 6 months pregnant, the story is dark and sad but not scary. Illustrations fit the tone of the story and are not scary or gruesome, as might be expected. It’s a good read aloud for young classrooms, and helps introduce the battle from a child’s perspective. Includes map of Gettyburg (in book endpapers), Gettysburg Address, and Author’s Note. P5 Q6

 

Gibbons, Gail. The Vegetables We Eat. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN: 978-0-8234-2001-8 32 p. Gr. pK-2

This book covers the 8 basic groups of vegetables (grouped by the part of the plant that is eaten, e.g., leaf) and how they are grown. It’s fairly comprehensive and includes a page of veggie trivia at the end of the book. Good read-aloud for younger classrooms. P5 Q6

 

Carr, Jan. Greedy Apostrophe. Illustrated by Ethan Long. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $16.95 ISBN:978-0-8234-2006-3 32 p. Gr. K-3

As a kid, I anthropomorphized numbers; “7” was a suave, sporty type, “3” a loose woman; 37 was trouble in the making. This book takes that sort of characterization to heart, as the near-evil greedy apostrophe raises holy havoc hell in label land. Enlisting the readers to help in the crusade to stamp out errant apostrophes, this little gem of a book makes learning punctuation – at least where it concerns apostrophes – fun. Nice addition to any elementary classroom or library. P5 Q6

 

Matteson, John. Eden’s Outcasts. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2007 (Advance Reader’s Edition). $29.95 hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-05964-9 528 p. Gr. 11-Adult

Matteson may reveal in the last paragraph of his meticulous work: “Biographers can sift the sands as they think wisest” but the reader of this book is left wondering what sand has been sifted, for this account is so comprehensive and detailed. This biography is truly a dual biography of Louisa May and Bronson Alcott, portraits in contrasts between transcendental/ephemeral and practical/earthy. Covering the period of time from Bronson’s birth in 1789 to his and Louisa May’s death in 1888, Eden’s Outcasts is destined to be THE Alcott biography. Includes T of C, footnotes, bibliography. P5 Q10

 

Sullivan, Edward T. The Ultimate Weapon: the race to develop the atom bomb. Holiday House, New York, 2007. $24.95 ISBN: 0-8234-1855-3 183 p. Gr. 6-12

Sullivan, a Tennessee librarian, has done remarkably well for his first book: it’s a masterpiece. One Amazon reviewer said “I am…hard-pressed to name a book…whose contents are more consequential to tomorrow’s voters and problem solvers than this well-researched, profound look at how the whole nuclear business began, where it has currently brought us to in the 21st Century, and what it is that I have to be frightened of.” Ample photos, clearly presented sidebars, and meticulous organization make this a “must have” for all libraries. Includes t of c, appendix, timeline, bibliography, internet resources, glossary, and index. P7 Q10

 

September 2007 Reviews–J.C.

Bateman, Teresa. Fiona’s luck. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Charlesbridge, c2007. 1 v., color illustrations. Ages 4-7. ISBN 9781570916519 $15.95 P7Q7

When the king of leprechauns locks up all the luck in Ireland, a woman named Fiona uses her wits to pass the king’s tests and win it back. A nicely told story with determinedly cute illustrations. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Freymann, Saxton. Fast food. Joost Elffers. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006. 1 v., chiefly color illustrations. Ages 3-6. ISBN 043911019X $12.99 P8Q8

Sculpted vegetables introduce various forms of transportation, from feet to skateboards, wheelchairs to skis, cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, and planes, using their trademark black-eyed pea eyes and patent good cheer. Both adults and children will enjoy figuring out the various vegetables used in the pictures. Recommended for public and kindergarten/elementary school libraries.

 

Gravett, Emily. Orange pear apple bear. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005. First U.S. edition 2007. 1 v., chiefly color illustrations. Ages 2-5. ISBN 978141693993 / 1416939997 $12.99 P8Q9

A deceptively simple book with watercolor illustrations of a bear and fruit introduce words and word play. Highly recommended for any library serving small children, librarians, parents, and educators.

 

Lindenbaum, Pija. Mini Mia and her darling uncle. Translated by Elisabeth Kallick Dyssegaard. R&S Books, c2007. 1 v., color illustrations. Ages 4-7. ISBN 9789129667349 / 9129667348 $16.00 P7Q8

When Mini Mia’s favorite Uncle Tommy starts to share his time with her with a man named Fergus, Mia becomes jealous and acts out. But, when Uncle Tommy is ill, and Fergus teaches Mini Mia some awesome soccer moves, she comes to accept the new relationship. Scenes of the changing room at the swimming pool and the gay subtext may cause some to feel uncomfortable with this book. However, the visually compelling watercolors and child-centered text combine to create an entertaining work. Highly recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Gloss, Molly. The hearts of horses. (Advance reading copy.) Houghton Mifflin, November 2007. Ages 14 up. ISBN: 0618799907 P8Q8.

Nineteen year old Martha Lessen talks herself into a job as a horse tamer for the Bliss ranch in Eastern Oregon during the years leading up to America’s involvement in World War I, and finds herself involved with the lives of the ranch families. A highly readable historical novel that explores the lives of women isolated on distant homesteads, dependent on the men in their lives for basic necessities. Recommended for junior high, high school and public library collections.

 

Stead, Rebecca. First light. Wendy Lamb Books, c2007. 328 p. Ages 12 up. ISBN 9780375840173 $15.99 P7Q7

Twelve-year-old Peter accompanies his parents on a scientific expedition to the Greenland ice cap; meanwhile, Thea lives in a carefully hidden community and seeks to discover a passage to the surface of the surrounding ice field. A fascinating science fiction adventure told from two perspectives. A first novel, First Light, becomes a bit choppy as the twinned narratives approach each other, and some developments are rather predictable. However, the characters and unusual settings more than make up for the minor lapses in editing. Recommended for junior high school and public libraries.

 

September 2007 Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Atkins, Jeannine. Anne Hutchinson’s Way. Il. Michael Dooling. FSG, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-30365-7. unp. Ages 5-8: Susanna tells about her voyage to the New World from England in 1634 with her siblings and parents, her family’s attempt to practice religion in the way that they find appropriate, and their being forced out of the Massachusetts colony because of Anne Hutchinson’s refusal to follow the rigidity of the Puritans. One of the inviting aspects of the book is the narration of a famous woman by her daughter who explains how Hutchinson tries to provide a positive example for other women in her determination to preach and her refusal to be silent in her desire for peace with the Native Americans. Like Alice Paul, Hutchinson was willing to go to prison because of her belief that her way would improve life for others. Illustrations are intriguing because the images give the impression that there is always much more to the picture than what the reader can see. The large picture-book format makes the subject highly accessible to younger readers, and the subject matter goes beyond the biographical subject into life in America during the early 1600s. An afterword is appended to the fictionalized story. P7Q8

 

Beccia, Carolyn. Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-71718-8. unp. Ages 4+: Circus fanatic Beccia makes her children’s book debut (self-described as “the spectacular, never-before-seen”) with this alphabet book using adjectives for the wonders of events under the big tent. Her selections are knowledgeable and the lettering for the illustrations (made of “a bit of pencil and paper, gobs of oil paint, a little acrylics, curled wood shavings, a dull blade, and then combined digitally”) artistic. But sometimes she lost the chance to extend the alphabet in her use of circus parts. For example, the boxing kangaroo could have gone under “kooky” rather than “legendary.” Beccia writes about a time when starting at oddities was promoted, something that might have to be explained to younger readers today. P8Q8

 

Deans, Karen. Playing to Win: The Story of Althea Gibson. Il. Elbrite Brown. Holiday, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-1926-6. unp. Ages 6-8: Tough rebellious Althea, growing up in the Harlem of the 1930s, was a natural at tennis which, at that time, was almost exclusively for wealthy white people in country clubs that excluded African Americans. With the encouragement of those around her, she went on to win at Wimbledon and Forest Grove in 1957 and 1958. Bold cutouts , largely faceless, follow the simple text. The story is interesting, but, forced to purchase only one book about Gibson, I would choose the Stauffacher book (reviewed below). P7Q7

 

Demi, The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching. McElderry, 2007. $21.99. 1-4169-1206-1. unp. Ages 5+: According to legend, this mysterious philosopher who may have founded Taoism was born at the age of 81 in 604 B.C. China. The classically stunning paint and ink illustrations, typical of other Demi books, display simple settings of that time with the first third of the book describing the mythical life of Lao Tzu and the remainder devoted to 20 of the 81 passages of the Tao Te Ching. Topics range from silence to moderation, from governing to the balance of earth and heaven. A favorite of mine: “True words are not fine sounding./ Fine-sounding words are not true.” A book for all libraries. P6Q9

 

Jenkins, Steve. Dogs and Cats. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-50767-1. unp. Ages 5-8: Some people like dogs; others prefer cats. This book caters to both interests with half the book upside down to deal with the other subject. Begin with dogs? There will be guides through the pages to tell you to flip the book for pages on cats. Illustrations are cut and torn paper collage, with some of the paper made by hand and others coming from a variety of countries. The information is clearly stated without any startling insights not noted in other books on the subject. This book has more value because of its art but a pleasant addition to collections. P8Q8

 

Peacock, Louise. At Ellis Island: A History in Many Voices. Il. Walter Lyon Krudop. Atheneum, 2007. $21.00. 0-689-83026-2. 44p. Ages 7-10: Many of the stories of immigrants coming through Ellis Island on their way to the dreams of the New World from 1904 to 1927 are framed by words of Sera, a composite of these people and represented as an Armenian girl fleeing her country and joining her father in America, with excerpts from a contemporary young girl whose great-great-grandmother came through these halls. The intent is laudatory, but the transitions among the people’s reports, the imaginary journaling, and the current comments can sometimes be confusing. The handwriting/italics for the journal may also be difficult for young people to read. The layout can be cluttered, and the the paintings somewhat muddy. The photographs lend interest to the narrative and the information is valuable. This may be more a book for teachers to use with students than one that is read by the young people themselves. P6Q7

 

Ray, Deborah Kogan. Down the Colorado: John Wesley Powell, the One-Armed Explorer. FSG, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-31838-7. unp. Ages 8-12: From a preacher’s kid in Jackson, Ohio, to the famous explorer of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, Powell had a variety of experiences, including the need for his arm to be amputated below the elbow after his wound in the Civil War. Although the book’s narrative largely ends in 1869 at the end of his expedition, an afterword briefly refers to his political problems with a Nevada senator when Powell tried to create a system of

long-term planning to protect the western rivers from misplaced dams. The full-page watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations in a large picture-book format are broadly produced, many in the bright orange and brown colors associated with the Canyon. The writing is geared more for those interested in the subject, and the map of his expedition is buried near the end of the book, but adventurers may find this appealing. P6Q7

 

Tyldesley, Joyce. Egypt. Simon & Schuster, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-3858-3. 64p. Ages 8-12: Lush colorful illustrations, including detailed cutaways, provide extensive information in the five chapters of this informational book: history, religion, life, pyramids, and temples and towns. Despite the fact that the busty women in fairly tight clothing could be current movie stars, the attempts to show life at the time is educational, particularly with the timelines placed on the sides of the pages to show the period in which something happened. Reading this book feels like a tour through a well-designed museum. P8Q8

 

Stauffacher, Sue. Nothing but Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson. Il. Greg Couch. Knopf, 2007. $16.99. 0-375-83408-0. unp. Ages 4-8: Gibson’s unsophisticated cultural background and frustration with the “society life” as a young person are shown through the description of Buddy Walker’s mentoring after he sees her playing paddle tennis on a Harlem street. The text is delightful, but the vibrant watercolors, complete with rainbow colors showing her movement are outstanding. Her life beginning in a family of sharecroppers to the greatest female tennis player in the world in 1957 is inspirational as is Gibson’s willingness to give credit to all the people who helped her in her achievement. P7Q8

 

Poetry

Smith, Linda. Mrs. Biddlebox: Her Bad Day and What She Did about It! Il. Marla Frazee. Harcourt, 2007. $15.00. 0-15-206349-8. unp. Ages 3-7: Ever get up on the wrong side of bed? That’s exactly what Mrs. Biddle did as Frazee shows the witchy woman upset with everything that happens to her. But she takes action when she uses fog, dirt, sky, and the other pieces of a rotten day to make a sweet cake, going from a stomach full of grumblies to being filled with crumblies. The rhyme moves the story along as she shows, in a non-didactic way, how to turn around a bad feeling into a good experience. Illustrations in black grease pencil and colored inks give lots of movement to Mrs. Biddle’s activities, and the ever-present duck provides an extra dimension to the story. P9Q9

 

Picture Books

Fox, Mem. Where the Giant Sleeps. Il. Vladimir Radunsky. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-20785-5. unp. Ages 3-7: Find out where the giant sleeps, the fairy dozes, the wizard dreams, the dragon lays his head, and other mythical creatures find rest while the elves work all night “to make a quilt of moons and stars/to wrap you in…tonight.”

The fantastical misty illustrations, gouache on handmade pages, of both creatures and their snoozing place will continue to delight young readers in this luscious goodnight tale. A delight! P8Q8

Leuck, Laura. I Love My Pirate Papa. Il. Kyle M. Stone. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205664-3. unp. Ages 3-7: In an unusual approach for children’s picture books, the loving father is the sole caregiver for a little “pirate boy” who travels the seven seas with the man who prizes nothing higher than his son. The acrylic illustrations tend to be dark but delightful as the adventurous group goes a-plundering and the boy has many adventures—including walking the plank to jump into his father’s lamp. Striking endpapers with a map enhance the text that shows the boy gradually becoming more tired and going to sleep. P8Q8

 

Polhemus, Coleman. The Crocodile Blues. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-3543-5. unp. Ages 4+: Electric blue silhouettes on black with yellow highlights showing light present the beginning of this story about a man with a man and his pet cockatoo discover the crocodile that hatches out of the egg that they brought home from the store. Daylight scenes move to yellow background with black silhouettes for the characters and black and white showing the remainder the minimalist scenes. The humor and adventurous mystery of this wordless picture book is enhanced by the occasional foldouts that make this a read-aloud book for children under six. But the happy ending makes the scary parts all worthwhile! P9Q1

 

Rex, Adam. Pssst! Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205817-6. unp. Ages 5-8: Imagine going to the zoo and having to shop for a variety of articles that the animals request? That’s what happens to the androgynous-appearing girl (who is not identified as a female until almost halfway throughout the book. OK, maybe she wears saddle shoes and a barrette!) The zoo inmates are drawn more realistically than their surroundings but with great humor as they ask for help. The repetition is well-handled, and the ending has a few delightful surprises: the “zoomobile” that the creatures collaborate on making with everything that she brings, the trip to the circus when the girl refuses to get the elephant anything, and the drawing of the surprised motorcycles cop! P8Q9

 

Schertle, Alice. Very Hairy Bear. Il. Matt Phelan. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-216568-1. unp. Ages 3-7: Pastel and pencil illustrations match the charm of the text that follows a “boulder-big bear” covered with hair “except on his no-hair nose.” He fishes, picks blueberries, finds honey, and does other bear-y things until the cold air makes him settle into a cave and cover his nose. Phelan captures the essence of a bear, and Shertle delineates the seasons in a relaxing book. P9Q9

 

Thomas, Jan. What Will Fat Cat Sit On? Harcourt, 2007. $12.95. 0-15-206051-0. unp. Ages 3-5: Bold, blue thick lines outline the simple drawings of Fat Cat and the creatures he thinks about using for a seat: the cow, chicken, pig, dog, and mouse. Thomas understands out to demonstrate the emotions as all these considerations are made. Fortunately, the mouse suggests the chair, and all is well until Fat Cat has to decide what to have for lunch. An excellent look at compromise with message that the process must continue after you think that there is a solution. P8Q8

 

Wing, Natasha. Go to Bed, Monster! Il. Sylvie Kantorovitz. Harcourt, 2007. $16.00. 0-15-205775-7. unp. Ages 3-7: Unable to go to sleep one night, Lucy decides to draw, but the appearance of a monster in her drawings keep her working far into the night as it comes to life and she must draw all the things that it needs. Although appearing to be crayon drawings, the illustrations are actually oil paints and pastels. The text captures all the things that one needs to go to bed, including a book, in a realistic manner while the artwork provides a superb background of Lucy’s and the monster’s surroundings. This view of the difficulty in getting someone to sleep is highlighted when Lucy thinks she has succeeded because the monster’s eyes close (thanks to Lucy’s drawings) just to have them briefly pop open again. A must for both the monster and the goodnight approach. P8Q8

 

Graphic Novel

Decker, Timothy. Run Far, Run Fast. Front Street, 2007. $17.95. 1-59078-469-3. unp. Ages 7-12: The bleak, desperation-filled life of 14th-century Europe during the plague years (called the Pestilence in the book) comes vividly to life through the journey of a girl whose mother sends her away to keep the girl from being imprisoned in the house after the father becomes sick. Short lyrical passages briefly explain the focus of the small, detailed black and white drawings arranged in a symmetrical pattern opposite a full-page drawing on each two-page spread. An absolutely fascinating book that can be explored over and over. P8Q10

 

Wild, Margaret. Woovs in the Sitee. Il. Anne Spudvilas. Front Street, 2007. $17.95. 1-59078-500-2. unp. Ages 10+: Living alone in a musty basement room, Ben hides from the shadows, refusing to go out although Mrs. Radinski, his upstairs neighbor, tries to persuade him to go back to school. The almost-scrawled black and white drawings on different muted colors communicate the same palpable fear that Ben does in his poorly spelled recital of his feelings about the disappearance of the blue sky. The mystery of the book is whether the problems are in Ben’s mind or whether the shadows and dark sky are a physical aberration. The question at the end is what has happened to Mrs. Radinski, when her absence causes Ben to go out into the world to make “the streets my rivers and the parks my valees.” An amazing piece of art! P6Q10

 

Fiction

Avi. The Traitor’s Gate. Ill. Karina Raude. Atheneum, 2007. 0-689-85335-1 354p. Ages 12-15: Visit the poverty and despair of 19th-century London in another of this author’s historical masterpieces as Avi traces the steps of 14-year-old John Huffam as he takes on added responsibilities after his father is arrested as a debtor. The protagonist’s name is taken from a leading Victorian novelist, Charles John Huffam Dickens, and the flavor of the book is similar to Dickens’ novels. It may be that Avi set his book in 1849 because this is the publication year for David Copperfield, Dickens’ autobiographical novel. Black and white scratch drawings enhance the text and the quirky characters that populate this book. P7Q10

 

Bennett, Veronica. Cassandra’s Sister. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-3464-3. 227p. Ages 12-15: Austin grows up with one sister and six brothers in a parsonage. A simple country girl, Jenny is now well known as Jane Austin, English novelist whose books were published during the early nineteenth century. Bennett’s work seems to imitate Austin’s writings about coming of age, romance, courtship, and marriage, including a bit about the problems that women suffer if they do not find love with a man of means, but this is largely downplayed until the end. The author also deals with the politics of the French Revolution during that time. A simple, slow narrative, some readers may enjoy this because they like reading Austin; others might want to compare the version of Austin’s life with that of the new movie Becoming Jane, both highly fictional. P6Q7

 

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The Lacemaker and the Princess. McElderry, 2007. $16.99. 1-4189-1920-1. 199p. Ages 9-13: The politics leading up to the horrors of the French Revolution are shown through a friendship between 11-year-old Isabelle, a poor lacemaker living wither her mother and grandmother, and nine-year-old Therese, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Through the tutelage of George, Isabelle’s older brother, the girl learns how unrealistic her fairy-tale world of the Versailles court actually is and why the people of France felt they had to revolt because they were starving to support the wealth of the royalty. The tale of class differences and hunger for equality was inspired by an actual friendship between the French princess and a commoner who became her companion. The depiction of Therese’s “royal” attitudes blended with Isabelle’s confusion makes this a valuable read for young people. P7Q8

 

Funke, Corneila. Igraine the Brave. Trans. Anthea Bell. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2007. $16.99. 0-439-90379-3. 212p. Ages 10-14: The popular author of The Thief Lord returns with this spirited tale of a girl who must dress as a knight in order to save her parents, their castle, and the singing spell books that help them perform good for the people around them. Black and white drawings help move alongthe witty and whimsical text, and the adventurous feeling of Igraine’s experiences never slows down. P8Q8

 

Gantos, Jack. I Am Not Joey Pigza. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-39941-7. 216p. Ages 10-14: Just when you thought this series might have ended, it pops up again. For the uninitiated, Joey is a pre-adolescent with ADHD, a loving mother, and a father—usually absent–who does not understand Joey’s issues. In the newest book, however, Joey’s father comes back to the family with lottery winnings and a desire to reform all of them by changing their names. To complicate the situation, Joey has injured his head taking a diver off the roof while playing his game of going over Niagara Falls. With humor and pathos, Gantos may be the most realistic writer for this age group in

describing the issues that they have. A must read for adults as well as a book that many young readers will identify with. P8Q8

 

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Dangerously Alice. Atheneum, 2007. $15.99. 0-689-87094-8. 294p. Ages 13-16: Now a junior in high school, Alice is struggling with the relationship between her and her stepmother and fighting the image of MGT (Miss Goody Twoshoes) that some of her classmates have pinned on her. As always, she pursues life in a sometimes joyous, sometimes frustrated, and always confused manner with the typical problems that girls of her age endure: getting to drive the family car by herself, figuring out what to wear, and deciding how far to go with a boy on a date. Definitely for those who love the Alice series but also a good standalone book for mid teens. P8Q8

 

Pressler, Mirjam. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. Trans. Erik J. Macki. Front Street, 2007. $16.95. 1-932425-84-5. 207p. Ages 13+: A class project shows 16-year-old Johanna what a sham her family is when she travels from Germany to Israel and interviews an elderly Jewish woman. The author skillfully unravels the story of how Johanna’s grandfather, a faithful member of the Nazi party during pre-World War II, managed to purchase a successful clothing store when Jews were forced to flee Germany. The depictions are realistic as the family never accepts responsibility for their actions while still feeling guilt. Woven into the plot is also the issue of Johanna’s feelings for her boyfriend while still being interested in a handsome Jewish teenager in Israel. An excellent view of Germany during this period of time by a German author. P7Q9

 

Sage, Angie. Physik. Il. Mark Zug. [Septimus Heap Series] Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, 2007. $17.99. 0-06-057737-1. 544p. Ages 9-13: Kidnapping, travel back through time, an adolescent (and not always well-behaved dragon), the return of a dreadful queen who wants to rule the country, murder, mayhem, and ghosts are only part of the exciting adventures experienced by 11-year-olds Jenna (the princess) and Septimus (the seventh son of a seventh son) as they try to protect each other and help those who get caught up in the whirlpool around them. The third part of this series (the first two being Magik and Flyte), the book is plot-driven but still has wonderful characters that also provide the emphasis for reading. The ending indicates another must come along because two of the characters are trapped 500 years earlier. Absolutely delightful and seems much shorter than the indicated length! And for more fun, go to http://www.septimusheap.com. P7Q9

 

Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Mysterious Benedict Society. Little, 2007. $16.99. 0-316-0577-6. 438p. Ages 10+: Beginning with a simple story of children who take a series of tests after answering a newspaper ad, the plot of this amazing book spirals into the attempt of four children, two girls and two boys, to save the world from a monster who wants to control everyone through their minds. Although very different from one another, the four children have one thing in common that bonds them in their secret mission. Although long in pages, the book is not slow in catching attention with its multiple issues of abandonment, family, loyalty, and facing ones fears. Everyone

should read this book to think about what it happening to us in our society today. It is to be hoped that this author will continue to write for young readers. P7Q9

 

Wemmlinger, Raymond. Booth’s Daughter. Calkins Creek, 2007. $17.95. 1-932425-86-1. 210p. Ages 11-14: For those who know the Booth family as having provided only the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, this book will provide an interesting chapter into the lives of other members of the famous acting family during the nineteenth century. The protagonist is 18-year-old Edwina, nephew of John and daughter of Edwin Booth, a Shakespearian actor who performed in the United States and on the Continent. Although the book is well-researched and thorough in its historical depiction, it can be slow and formal similar to books written in during the time in which it is set. The author seems to delight in the maudlin details of Edwina’s dependence on her father, her attempt to deal with her mentally imbalanced stepmother, and her failure to marry her first love because of her father’s disapproval. Yet it is a book that readers of historical novels will enjoy because of the content and the romance. P7Q6

 

September 2007 Book Reviews L.R. Retired Media Specialist

Brown, Rhys. OH DANNY BOY; A MOLLY MURPHY MYSTERY. St Martin’s Minotaur, 2006 ISBN 0-312-32817-6 323p $23.95 Gr. 10 –Adult Written in the first person, this 5th Molly Murphy mystery takes place in New York City at the turn of the century. She is a recent immigrant from Ireland and finds herself a nanny turned PI (Private Investigator) who has dated NYPD cop Daniel Sullivan whose most recent charge is to track down a brutal east side serial killer of prostitutes. When he finds himself in jail on trumped-up charges, he turns to Molly for help and in the process she finds herself working with a woman who is New York’s first female policewoman. While I found the first person narrative to be annoying at first, and the writing to be rather pedestrian, the author is able to build the story with a fairly interesting plot that becomes more and more involved. The conclusion is satisfying if somewhat predictable. The author stays true to the historical setting by using accurate words and descriptions appropriate to the time. All-in-all, this is a competent mystery to fill genre reading at the high school level. It is now available in paperback which will make it a more budget worthy choice. (P-7, Q-7)

 

Rylant, Cynthia. MR. PUTTER AND TABBY SPIN THE YARN. Illus. by Arthur Howard. Harcourt Inc., 2006 ISBN 0-15-205067-1 unp $14.00 Gr. 1-3 Cynthia Rylant continues her series of beginning-to-read books with this delightful entry in the Mr. Putter and Tabby series. Mr. Putter worries that he isn’t the best neighbor. Mrs. Teaberry makes wonderful baked goods for Mr. Putter and he wants to be a good neighbor in return so when she mentions her knitting club will be meeting at her house, Mr. Putter decides he will make them tea and provide the refreshments. Zeke the dog and Tabby make for a memorable event as they create chaos on their run through the house.

These are great stories for first and second graders and children will learn to love the characters if they are introduced appropriately in a reading center highlighting all of the titles. I would have multiple copies of each for buddy reading as well. They are good stories to use for friendship, grandparent, and pet units and spelling lessons could utilize the new words that are introduced in each story. (P-8, Q-9)

 

Leedy, Loren. IT’S PROBABLY PENNY. Henry Hold & Company, 2007. ISBN 0-8050-7389-2 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 This title about Penny helps teach young children about probability and it would be a great lead-in to a math lesson. Other useable titles in the series include topics about mapping and measuring and they could make math lessons more fun for early learners. (P-4, Q-7)

 

Bauer, Marion Dane. A MAMA FOR OWEN. Illus. by John Butler. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-689=85787-x unp $15.99 PreS-K This is a sad little story really. Owen is a hippo who loves his mama and does everything with her, but one day the rains come and a flood washes Owen and his family down the Sabaki River and to the sea. When a tsunami wave washes Owen back to shore, he can’t find his mama, but finds an animal with the same coloring. Mzee is a tortoise, a large tortoise that Owen adopts as his new mama. An author’s note says that the story is based on a real incident, that Owen was rescued by the Kenya Wildlife Service and a local fisherman. He was less than a year old when he was brought to a nature preserve outside of Mombasa. It was at this park that Owen chose a 130-year-old male tortoise to be his new mama. Lovely muted illustrations in acrylic and colored pencil enhance the story, but I’m not sure if the intended audience will find this an uplifting story . . . or feel just plain sad that the real mama is gone forever. (P-5, Q-8)

 

Paul, Ann Whitford. FIESTA FIASCO. Illus. by Ethan Long. Holiday House, 2007 ISBN 0-8234-2037-x unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 I love these characters first introduced in MANANA, IGUANA. In this story the snake, Culebra, is having a birthday and all the animals set about to find a present for the fiesta. The rabbit, Conejo, talks each one into buying something he would like, not something they think Culebra will like. At the party when rabbit ends up with all the gifts, the animals and Culebra ban him from the party before the cake is cut and the games are played. In the end, rabbit comes back with the original ideas, a balloon, a book, and a bowl. A glossary of Spanish words used in the text is at the beginning for easy reference. This is a great story to introduce young children to common Spanish words, and would be a good addition to libraries serving a bi-lingual population. These Spanish words would fit nicely into a spelling list as well. (P-8, Q-8)

 

Rudyard, Kipling. IF, A POEM BY RUDYARD KIPLING. Photos by Charles R. Smith,

Jr. Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-689-83799-4 unp $14.99 Gr. 5-7 Presented as a father’s advice to his son, this is a beautiful poem illustrated with photography of sporting events that is grainy, blurry and mediocre at best. A teacher might use the book in a poetry unit, a coach might use it at the beginning of the season, or a kid might pick it up by virtue of the cover, but it will have a limited audience unless it is introduced by someone familiar with the value and beauty of the poem. (P-2, Q-3)

 

Lin, Grace. OLVINA SWIMS. Henry Holt & Company, 2007 ISBN 0-8050-7661-1 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3 After attending a bird convention, Hailey the penguin and Olvina the chicken stay in Hawaii for some R&R. When Hailey asks Olvina why she never goes swimming she explains that she is a chicken. So? Hailey will teach her and when she says she is afraid Hailey responds, “Oh, Olvina, don’t be such a chicken!” Hummm. This title might be useful for children who are learning to swim, but the “I think I can” attitude might be better served with a title like “The Little Engine That Could.” This is a bit of chicken fluff that isn’t a first purchase. (P-4, Q-4)

 

Buehner, Caralyn & Mark Buehner. GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007 ISBN 0-8037-2939-1 unp $16.99 PreS-1 Can there ever be too many versions of this story on the shelf? Here little Goldi comes bouncing into the bears’ house in her little red cowgirl boots and swinging a jump rope looking for a good time. A teacher will use this story when wanting to share a folktale or as a compare and contrast lesson when using several books of the same title. Children will want it because it is a familiar story. (P-6, Q-6)

 

Stille, Darlene R. ANNE HUTCHINSON; PURITAN PROTESTER. Compass Point Books, 2006 ISBN 0-7565-1577-7 112p np Gr. 4-6 This biography of Mrs. Hutchinson starts a little slow, but after a brief history of the times and why the Puritans left for the New World to seek religious and political freedom, we learn how her early life and childhood and marriage enabled her to become the strong, courageous person she was. Bearing fifteen children in twenty-three years and traveling thousands of miles to pursue religious freedom, she faced persecution and hardships throughout her short life of fifty-two years. If readers can get past the first few pages this will be a satisfying read. Teachers can use the book in units on Colonial America, women in history, and in the biography genre.

 

Cabrera, Jane. KITTY’S CUDDLES. Holiday House, 2007. ISBN 0-8234-2066-3 unp $16.95 PreS

Kitty loves cuddles and it seems every animal cuddles in a different way, but Kitty decides his favorite cuddle is with someone very special who gives warm, soft cuddles. Surprise! It’s not mama or papa, but a new baby brother. This is an okay title for very young children who are experiencing the disruption of a new addition to the family. Just be sure to let the cuddler know that squeezing too hard is not acceptable. Not a necessary purchase for schools. (P-3, Q-3)

 

Lourie, Peter. FIRST DIVE TO SHARK DIVE. Boyds Mills Press, 2006 ISBN 1-59078-068-x 48p $17.95 Gr. 5-7 This is not only a good introduction to scuba diving, but also gives a detailed account of the little known Caribbean Island off the coast of Florida known as Andros. In one week eleven-year-old Suzanna learns about the sport and passes her test, gets her temporary certificate card, and completes four open water dives. Beautiful photography enhances the text, important words are defined and explained, and an index makes this suitable for children needing to do a report on a specific sport or hobby. (P-6, Q-8)

 

Book Reviews

 

September 2007 C.B.

Bath, K. P. Escape from Castle Cant, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2006, 287 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:031610857X, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,

In this sequel to the secret of Castle Cant we now find Lucy Wainwright and her sister, Pauline von Cant running away from the castle and the regent who is seeking both them. The story has it all– schemes, plots, twists and disguises as the two girls run and try at the same time to sabotage the gum trade. Readers of the first book will enjoy this sequel.

 

Clare, Cassandra, City of bones, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2007, 485 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:1416914285, Gr. 8+, P 7, Q 8,

When Clary Fray is the only who can see and witnesses the murder of another teen, she is left guessing why. It doesn’t help either that these three teenagers, bearing strange tattoos, who committed the crime disappear right after the crime. Clary is soon swept up into a world where Shadowhunters hunt down and kill demons and werewolves. She is the only person left, after her mother is kidnapped who knows where the mortal cup is. For it is this magical cup which turns people into Shadowhunters and will help to save mortal man from the renegade shdowhunters who are seeking the death of all humans. This book is the 1st in a trilogy and will have a vast appeal to those who love fantasy.

 

Collins, Suzzanne, Gregor and the code of claw, Scholastic Press, New York, 411 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:043979143X, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8, This is the fifth and final book in the Gregor sereies. We again find Gregor and Boots beneath New York City this time in the final battle between the rats and their determination to be the only ones left to live in the secret city beneath New York. Those who loved these previous books will love this one. I for one am sorry to see the series end.

 

Hobbs, Valerie, Anything but ordinary, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2007, 168 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0374303746, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

Bernie Federman and Winifred Owens have been best friends since middle school, when Bernie put on the ridiculous green hat and sat by Win in the lunch room. They have grown together and shared everything and their life and their plans seem perfect. Until Bernie mother dies and then everything falls apart. Win continues on to college in Santa Barbara and finds an new life and learns to explore a new existence without Bernie. This love story will appeal to girls in high school.

 

Hughes, Carol, Dirty magic, Random House, New York, 2006, 416 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:0375831878, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Joe Brooks is just 10-years old when he wakes up in a mysterious world where he seeks to find his lost sick sister, 4-year-old sister Hannah. Complicating this search is Joe’s guilt, he had yelled at her for ruining his favorite magazines. Here in this worn torn world teeming with sick children Joe must find his sister and return to their own world before time runs out.

 

Kerley, Barbara, Greetings from planet Earth, Scholastic Press, New York, 2007, 245 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0439802032, Gr.6+, P 7, Q 7,

Ever since Theo’s dad was killed in Vietnam his grandmother has always had a present for him from his dad. It is now 1977 and Voyager 2 is going to be launched by NASA, his assignment, for science is too come up with something that could be included with Voyager. While searching for something to include he comes across letters from his dad to his mom. This novel explores the Vietnam era for returning veterans, a young boy trying to make sense of a death that really never happened and family dynamics.

 

Leavitt, Martine, Keturah and Lord Death, Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 2006, 216 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1932425292, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 9,

Keturah is 16 the day she meets Lord Death and talks him out of taking her away. She instead uses her storytelling abilities to her advantage and steals another day of life. Each preceding day finds Lord Death waiting for her and giving her more time. This strange intense love story is one that will capture high school student’s attention and one that they won’t be able to put down.

 

Newton, Robert, Runner, Alfred a. Knopf, New York, 2007, 209 pgs, glossary, $15.99, ISBN:0375837442, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Charlie is 15-years-old in 1919, and he and his mother his mother are living in the slums in Richmond, Australia. Charlie’s father had died and they are on their own trying to make ends meet. Charlie even stuffs the holes in his boots with newspaper to keep his feet warm. Charlie’s mother wants him to stay in school, for a better life, but he secretly stops going to become a runner for a Squizzy Taylor, a local gangster. He soon is taking care of Squizzy’s business by collecting his protection money and running his booze. Charlie eventually escapes from Squizzy and comes to run a local competion that offers money to the winner. This book will appeal to middle and high school age students.

 

Paver, Michelle, Soul eater. Katherine Tegen Books, New York, 2007, 323 pgs., $16.99, OSBN:0060728310, Gr., P, Q,

This is Paver’s third book in series of six that she plans to write. Here we again encounter Torak, Renn and his Wolf as they go hunting in the frozen snow and ice. Wolf is capture by the soul-eaters and Torak and Renn must cross the frozen land to the North to find him. The soul-eaters have captured other animals and they plan to sacrifice them and wolf so that the demons that once roamed Earth may be set free to do so again. Those who enjoyed the first two books of this series will enjoy this one too.

 

Reeve, Philip, Larklight: a rousing tale of dauntless pluck in the farthest reaches of space, illustrated by David Wright, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, New York, 2006, 399 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1599900203, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,

It’s 1851, and Art Mumby and his sister, Myrtle are part of the British Empire. A British empire that is in the far reaches of space and their orbiting home is being attacked by giant white spiders that incase the home in spider webs. Art and Myrtle escape only to be captured the space pirate Jack Havock. On a planet that Jack takes them to the two are separated and must find their way back to each other. Art and Mrytle learn that the spiders, the First Ones, are set on taking control of Earth and ruling it again. The story, after they are separated, is told alternating between Art the narrator and then through Myrtle’s diary entries. This is a fantasy adventure that middle and high school students will be drawn to.

 

Salisbury, Graham, House of the red fish, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2006, 291 pgs., glossary, $16.95, ISBN:0385731213, Gr., P, Q,

Graham Salisbury first wrote Under the blood-red sun in 1994 and now in this sequel tells us more of the life of Tomi Nakii and his family. It is now 1943 and Tomi has had to take on the role of man of the house, while still attending high school and trying to make ends meet. His father and grandfather have been arrested and they don’t know where they are. Tomi with the help his friend, Billy, decide to raise his fathers fishing boat, the Taiyo Maru. During this turbulent time however this is dangerous thing for Japanese American to do. The Hawaiian Island’s have a curfew set for the Japanese, there are vigilantes who roam the streets at night looking for those who are breaking the rules. The racism and tropical setting are vividly discussed by Salisbury. This with book along with the first would be a great read-aloud in any classroom studying this era of time.

 

Strasser, Todd, Boot camp, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 235 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:141690848X, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,

In the middle of the night 15-year-old Garret is taken, abducted, from his home in handcuffs to a camp, Lake Harmony, for teens who in trouble. Here he is subjected to beatings, teen pressure, and hours of isolation for infractions that the staff implement to break his spirit. Talking while eating is also forbidden and strict measures are again used to enforce it. Garret is drawn to two other teens who have been in Lake Harmony for over two years, and with them escapes to freedom. Strasser’s book describes a world where teens heave no rights and the violence that exists in many of these camps. This book is one that high school students will be drawn to.

 

Washington, Irving, The legend of sleepy hollow, illustrated by Gris Grimly, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, unp, $16.99, ISBN:1416906258, Gr.5+, P 7, Q 9

Gris Grimly uses yellow and tan colored tones to illustration the tale of sleepy hollow. The description of Ichabod Crane is delightful with the accompany drawing, which portrays his all so masculine form. The story moves across the pages with the accompany text and the pictures breath life into pages of this book. This book is one that students will spend hours looking at all to get all the details of the story and pictures.

 

Wells, Rosemary, Red moon at Sharpsburg, Viking, New York, 2007, 236 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0670036382, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

In 1862, India Moody is 13-years-old, and her life is about to change as the civil war tears the United States apart. India dreams of becoming a doctor something unheard of in this era of time. She is tutored by Emory Trimble, her rich neighbor who opens her eyes to learning and the world. The Confederate Army calls her father to duty where he servers as an ambulance driver. India during the war must face many difficulties, freeing and hiding slaves the death of her father, burning of the plantations around her city, starvation and just surviving. This book will appeal to those who love historical fiction.

 

Yep, Laurence, The Earth dragon awakes, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2006, 117 pgs., $14.99, ISBN:0060275243, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 7,

April 17, 1906 is known to the world as the day that San Francisco had one of its worst earthquakes. Yep brings this event to life in this book where two young boys tell their stories of what happened to them. Both are friends one is Chinese and lives in China town, the other white and from a rich family. They are also true friends and love to read the “penny dreadfuls,” which show a life full of excitement. They long for something to happen to them and when it does they realize that their life is so bad after all. Young children will love this book as San Francisco shakes and then burns and the young boys lives are changed forever.

 

Non- Fiction

Allen, Thomas, Hariet Tubman, secret agent : how daring slaves and free blacks spied for the union during the Civil War, illustrated by Carla Bauer, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2006, 191 pgs., index, time line, $16.95, ISBN:0792278895, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,

This book features Harriet Tubman and her work in helping slaves to escape as well as her involvement in the Civil War. The book also features those who helped her and how they called upon her and her knowledge of the South to help in raids by the Union forces. The one draw back to this book are the tiny photographs and accompany text in the beginning of the book. There size made it extreme difficult to read. This one drawback would not stop from purchasing such an excellent book. It would be a great addition to any middle or high school library collection.

 

DeSaix, Deborah, Hidden on the mountain : stories of children sheltered from the Nazis in le Chambon, Holiday House, New York, 2007, 275 pgs., index, $24.95 ISBN:0823419282, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

The French village of Le Chambonsur-Lignon became the hiding place for thousands of Jewish and political refugees during World War II. Here the Protestant villagers took families and orphans into their homes and sheltered many for a night or for years. Sharing what little they had this group not only saved the people they sheltered but also were part of the resistance movement against the Nazi’s at this time too. The stories that are told in this book would be great ones to read aloud to students who are World War II in school.

 

Dyer, Alan, Space, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 64 pgs., index, glossary, $16.99, ISBN:1416938605, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This book is divided into three sections, exploring space, our solar system and our universe. Within each of these chapters the reader is met with full color page layouts of space, in which the descriptions and questions are given and asked. One of the changes I noted in this book is that Pluto is not given plant status, but was mentioned as a dwarf planet, (one not big enough to be considered a planet.) Each page has interesting side bars and with listing facts about each topic. This book will be a great addition to any media center.

 

Gourley, Catherine, War women and the news : how female journalists won the battle to cover the war, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007,198 pgs., index, $21.99, ISBN:0689877528, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Gourley has captured more than 12 women journalists within the pages of this book. He gives an overview of how women struggled to become reporter in the 30’ and 40’s and then how they became such a vital part of the news be reported during the war. He introduces each woman and then brings them back again in other chapters as the women cross each other during the war. This is a book that teachers could draw upon for many subjects in middle school or high school for it touches other topics besides just women. The accompanying photos of the concentration camps, the war and the women are of high quality and add to the appeal of thebook.

 

Harpur, James, Warriors: all the truth. tactics, and triumphs of history’s of greatest fighters, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, unp, $21.99, ISBN:1416939512, Gr. 5+, P 9, Q 9,

If your looking for a book which will touch on the warriors of the centuries this is the book to buy. Starting with the Assyrians their weapons, forts, cities, conquests and their great warriors are all talked discussed in the pages of this book. Maps for each group are also included in each section. The end of the book also has a warrior timeline which start at 800 BC and concludes with the Zulu’s in the 1900. This book will be one that flies off the shelf and one that middle school students will gather around to read.

 

McMillan, Beverly, Oceans, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York,2007, 64 pgs., glossary, index, $16.99, ISBN:1416938591, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

Using the same format as Space by Alan Dyer, this new series opens the wonders of the oceans to the world. This book is divided into five sections, the watery world, ocean life, exploring the oceans, the shallows and the depths. Full page color layouts are used though out the book. Side bars of interesting facts are also included. This new series of books is one that should be included in all elementary and middle school libraries.

 

Sitarski, Anita, Cold light : creatures, discoveries, and inventions that glow, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale Pennsylvania, 2007, 48 pgs., glossary, $16.95, ISBN:1590784685, Gr. 4, P 7, Q 8,

Cold light features those animals that have luminescenes and the people who have studied them. One colored page is of a chicken carcass and on the opposite page it

shows a chicken carcass that glowes, full of surviving bacteria. The creatures of the deep that glow are also discussed. The book also features how luminescences is being used in medicine around the world. This book is sure to capture elementary and middle school age student’s attention.

 

Weatherford, Carole, Birmingham, 1963, Wordsong, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2007, 40 pgs., $17.95, ISBN:1590784405, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

In 1963 four young African-American girls died in an explosion that also injured many others who had just finished attending church in Birmingham, Alabama. The poems of this book discuss this turbulent time in America’s history and the four girls who died as result of racial bigotry. This collection could be used to introduce the civil rights here in America.

 

Book Reviews, K.R. WHS September, 2007

Koja, Kathe. Going Under, 2006. When Elisha commits suicide, Hilly and her brother Ivan are devastated. With Ivan’s encouragement, Hilly begins seeing a counselor until she can really believe that “life must go on”. Another theme in the story is “live life to its fullest”. Fortunately, the siblings have each other because, while the parents believe that the family is perfect, the adults are not close enough to their children, leaving them to fend for themselves during this emotional time. The therapist, unfortunately, is cruelty at its worst as he manipulates both children to do his bidding. There are many references to Greek mythology to the perceptive. Students who have lost a friend will relate best to this book, particularly to the end where Hilly has her epiphany: life will go on and we who are left behind will be fine. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 8/9

 

Watts, Leander. Wild Ride to Heaven, 2003 Although the setting of the novel is about 1800, the sense of adventure and the compassion the author has for her characters make this worth reading today. The plot concerns Hannah who lives on a “farm” where coal is mined. Her father (because mother and little sister left a decade earlier) has signed a contract with the Barrow brothers. Hannah is to work (read: slave) for them and marry the oldest, Noel. Of course Hannah rebels at the marriage; she is rescued by “Brother Boy” who lives in the woods. The story turns out, not happily ever after, but with a positive outlook that Hannah and Brother Boy may find happiness together. Students have enjoyed the story, but it is so far from their life experiences that I don’t think that the audience would be wide enough to purchase this for high school students. Story quality: 7 Purchase: 7

 

Crisler, Curtis. Tough Boy Sonatas. The New York setting for the novel gives it a sense of darkness. The main character, however, is not evil. He robs a bank and then feels sorry so he returns the money. A student of mine, who is also Black, found that he could relate to the main character who is also African American. There are many conflicts in the novel, but the most apparent one is simply a look at how people deal with their problems. “Intriguing” is the word my student used to describe the book. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. Becoming Chloe. 2006 This is a novel of “hard core” happenings to two teenagers. It begins with Chloe’s rape, then her rescue by Jordon, who is gay. The two become friends, but Jordan, though younger, is in charge and takes Chloe along on an adventure to show her that the whole world is not as dark and depressing as her life has been. One comment from a reader was that “Chloe doesn’t always seem to be ‘all there’; she gets raped and doesn’t seem to be affected by it. ‘It happens all the time,’ she says. That’s not how I’d take it.” However, the novel ends with the two friends sitting on the shore watching a whale—the author’s last images of beauty are in stark contrast to Chloe’s past life. I think that high school students (girls) relate to people who are having difficult lives. They appreciate novels where they can compare their personal difficulties with others’ real hardships. Story quality: 8/9 Purchase: 9

 

Taylor, Kim. Bowery Girl. 2006 It takes a special writing skill to make a student reader empathize with a prostitute and a pickpocket, but Taylor does it in this story about two women who want to better themselves. Annabelle, the pickpocket takes in Mollie because she feels sorry for her. Eventually, the roles are changed because Annabelle becomes pregnant after a stay in the jail and needs Mollie to take care of her. Add to the very real problems they face, the role of the antagonist, Tommy, who is Annabelle’s pimp, discourages both of the women from going to school. I believe that the student who felt for these two characters was unusual. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as she did. Story quality: 7 Purchase: 7

 

Lippman, Laura. By a Spider’s Thread, 2004. A nine-year-old boy is the story’s narrator which was off-putting to my students. Isaac is not in a position to make the action happen, so he must reflect his mother’s desperation to go with another man and leave her husband from his point of view—not necessarily the best choice. Add to the confusion this caused my student reader, the facts that this is the eighth in a series of novels about a females private eye and that the setting is a Jewish family in Baltimore, the novel becomes difficult to follow. As much as I liked the plot about a man searching for his missing family, it isn’t a novel that students in Waldport, Oregon can relate to. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 5

 

Qualey, Marsha. Just Like That, 2005 Coincidence. Hanna fails to warn two young lovers about the thin ice on the lake and they die. Coincidence. Hanna meets Will, the teen who discovers their bodies. Coincidence. Hanna becomes involved with Aaron, an ex-rock star who was driving when the other members of her band were killed in an accident. Coincidence is the driving force behind this terrific novel about accepting change—even when we least expect it. Well written and memorable, the novel is something anyone can relate to as the characters are well-drawn nearly average people who find themselves in situations they had not expected. My students who have read this have commented on how life-changing incidents in their own lives helped them understand the characters and the life-affirming conclusion. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Shafter, Audrey. The Mailbox, 2006. Gabe lives in foster care after his mother’s murder until the state finally finds his uncle, Vernon. Unfortunately, Vernon is a veteran in poor health who dies suddenly. Gabe is too young to know what to do about the body, so he leaves it where he finds it and goes to school as though it were a typical day. When he returns, the body is gone and in its place is a note, leading to other notes in the mailbox. The letter-writer remains anonymous throughout most of the book, but he is a clear character to the reader and Gabe who are both helped by the advice and concern given by him. Although I liked the story, both the book jacket and the title are very off-putting to high school students. Perhaps it would be more appropriate for a middle school audience who would enjoy the mystery and, admittedly, simplistic conclusion. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Antieau, Mary. Mercy Unbound. Mercy believes that she is an angel; angels don’t need to eat. She doesn’t believe she has an eating disorder, even when her parents take her to a hospital specializing in taking care of adolescents with bulimia and anorexia. Fortunately, she is willing to become friends with some of the other girls and, in fact, is able to save one of them. One night, however, Mercy goes missing; she is discovered, naked, several hours later with a blank laptop computer in her hand. Like the computer, Mercy’s memory has also been erased which causes her to eat because she cannot remember not eating. The frank teenage language and very “real” situations make this a keeper. (The title will appeal to girls more than guys.) Story quality: 9+ Purchase: 9

 

Saldana, Rene. The Whole Sky Full of Stars, 2007. This novel is about “friends” who take advantage of each other. The plot concerns Barry who certainly likes boxing. His friend, Alby is using him to pay his gambling debt to Ciro. Eventually, Barry finds out what Alby is doing and refuses to split the winnings with Alby; he gives it all to his friend and then sells his car which he and his father had been working on before his dad died. Mother needs the money to get by on and Barry wants to help. Eventually, Alby’s father, a boastful car salesman, comes up with a way for Alby to redeem himself. A very typical coming of age story, this novel probably belongs in a middle school rather than in a high school where students are more interested in complex decisions. Story quality: 6.5 Purchase: 7 (for middle school)

 

Johnson, Peter. What Happened. 2007 What Happened needs a fairly mature reader who can appreciate the poetry and sensitivity with which Kyle writes about the conflicts he faces in the story. The initiating conflict is a car accident where Duane, the driver, is drunk in s snow storm and runs over and kills a man. Kyle, a passenger, wants to tell the authorities, but Duane relies on his father’s influence to keep him out of trouble. Kyle is also troubled by the earlier death of his mother and the disappearance of his father. Life has been difficult for him; even his girlfriend’s father is unsupportive. The theme of believing, even when life is difficult, is appropriate to the story for a boy who really has nothing to believe in until he realizes he can believe in himself. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Dietrich, William. Napoleon’s Pyramids, 2007. Unfortunately, historical fiction—even well-written historical fiction—doesn’t hold the attention of many high school students. Even though this one has a terrific plot about the search for the secret to eternal life that is revealed in the Book of Thoth, the book is too “intelligently written” for most of my students. The characters are well-developed, Napoleon comes across as the great general he was, and the intrigue of a medallion draw students who are willing to read the novel will be rewarded for their efforts. The only criticism I have of the novel is that it ends too quickly, leaving the lives of most of the characters open to conjecture. One is left feeling unrewarded for the time spent reading. A student of mine said, “I had a hard time reading it fast because it is very intelligent. I would pause after a bit and reflect about what I had just read. I thought the historical accuracy made it better to read.” Story quality: 10 Purchase: 8/9

 

Chapman, Steve. With God on a Deer Hunt. “It was one of the best books I have read, and I really don’t like reading,” CC. The story frame is that of two hunters living for four days in a tree stand waiting for the deer they are looking for. The end up seeing a beautiful elk instead. Full of insights and humorous anecdotes, this is a keeper for all who enjoy the call of the wild. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 9

 

Kelby, N.M. The Company of Angels, 2001. World War II in a small village in France near the border of Belgium is the setting for this piece of historical fiction. The story concerns two nuns, Anne and Mother Xavier who hide and protect Marie Claire from the soldiers. Books like this are important for

students to read because they bring the reality of a terrible time in the world’s history to life so that, perhaps, because of that knowledge, we can keep from allowing those events to occur again. The small town where Marie Claire lives is the site of numerous minor miracles, including peculiar things that happen to Marie. This is well-worth reading. Story quality: 10 Purchase: 10

 

Sturtevant, Katherine. A True and Faithful Narrative 2006. Another historical novel presents London in 1680 when it was considered indecent for women to write; however, Meg, the main character and narrator, cannot help it. She needs to write. Meg has two beaux: one, Edward has chosen a life on the sea; Will is a store owner—neither is all that she wants. However, Edward seems to hold the upper hand when he is captured by pirates and comes back home with amazing stories to tell that Meg can write for him. Even though Meg will not get credit for her writing, it is evident that she has taken a step liberating herself and her talent. So many adolescent novels deal with conflicts between parents and teens (Meg is sixteen) that eventually they begin to sound alike, that only the setting changes. However, the setting in this case is well-represented and Meg’s wanting to write is interesting even to students who don’t care to themselves. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Haycak, Cara. Red Palms, 2004. “I love this coming of age book because anyone can relate to it on their own level. Personally, I can relate with Benita in a way that we both have been through struggles with culture, and money with family. There’s been many things in my life that have changed from great to worse in a matter of minutes, but because of my family and friends, as well as myself, I got through those rough patches. Just like Benita, I have learned from those times and become a stronger individual. I hope that for future readers that they can connect with Benita in a way that I did.” MB One of the valuable things about historical novels is the way that they can put adversity into its proper perspective for teenagers. Here is one that tells of one adventure during the Great Depression when the Mariah family moved to a small island hoping to make a living employing the islanders on a coconut plantation. Benita’s love for one of the islanders, Raul, provides a major source of conflict between the girl and her father. The story ends with a life-affirming testament to the growth Benita has achieved through the trials she has faced. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Rae, Lynne. Criss cross, 2005. Two fourteen-year-old friends, Debbie and Hector, have got wishes. She wants to have something happen to change her life and he wants to learn to play guitar. They each get their wishes, but learn in the meantime that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. This Newberry Medal winner is told poetry, prose, haiku, and questions-and-answer formats, even illustrations. More appropriate for middle schoolers than students in high school, it is a nice perspective on what it means to be a teen Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Joyce, Graham. TWOC, 2007. Because Matt has been taught by his brother, Jake, to steal cars for joy rides, he is involved in a serious car accident. The result is that Matt cannot remember much of what happened that night; he is, however, “haunted” by his dead brother who shows up often in hallucinations. Although Matt is the main character, very little of what he says or understands is true. The book requires a thoughtful reading to sort out Matt’s true feelings and the real events that have taken place. “TWOC seems like the type of book that will stick with you for a long time because of the suspense, and surprises inside of it. It took a while to get going, but once you really dig into it, it’s hard not to appreciate it as a very well-done novel.” JW Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Baptise, Tracey. Angel’s Grace, 2005 While spending the summer with her grandmother in Trinidad, Grace sees a picture of some people, one of whom has the same hand-shaped birthmark she has on her shoulder. Thus begins her quest to find out who her real father is. By interviewing her parents friends, and, eventually, her grandmother, Grace learns the answers to all of her questions. “I realized that not all secrets are the kind that turn your whole world upside down. Some of them are sweet little things that are simply too delicious to let slip.” “I liked this book a lot. It makes you wonder if your parents aren’t hiding secrets from you, and makes you think about how important the little things are in life and that your parents really care about you even if they aren’t your real parents.” DS Story quality: 8 Purchase 7/8

 

Chotjewits, David. Daniel Half Human, 2000. It warms a teacher’s heart when students will say things like, “If this guy had kids like me in mind while writing this book, then more power to him This book was probably one of the best books that I have ever had to read at school.” This novel takes place in Hitler’s Germany. As far as Daniel knows, he is not Jewish; unfortunately, his grandmother is; therefore, he is as likely to be hurt as any of his Jewish friends. Fortunately, he has a friend, Armin, who refuses to treat Daniel like an enemy of the state. The boys have even slit their wrists and combined their blood because their friendship is so deep. It’s a well-written story about how love can survive even the most terrible situations. Story quality: 9 Purchase 9

 

Noonan, Brendon. Plenty Porter, 2006. The eleventh child in a poor family, Plenty wonders where she fits in. Her older sister, Marcie, is losing her hair and has even tried to commit suicide. Why? Mr. Prindergast, using as an excuse that Marcie reminds him of his dead wife, raped Marcie. The story, told through Plenty’s eyes, is essentially her progress in putting together clues that will reveal why Marcie is having such a difficult time, and that Plenty actually does have a place in her family. “Luckily I cannot relate to this book. I know that I have a place in my family. Also I know that God puts everyone on this earth for a reason. So I always know that I have a purpose. All in all I thought that it was a good book.” AW Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7

 

Hawes, Louise. The Vanishing Point, 2004. Like so many works of historical fiction, this one has at its central theme the idea that you can become whatever you want to be—no matter who or what social conventions seem to stand in the way. Vini (Lavinia Fontana) was an actual person who lives in the 1600s when women weren’t supposed to be able to be as skilled as men, nor were they supposed to be allowed to follow their dreams. Vini’s father refuses to believe and then to permit Vini to paint. On the other hand, the young man that she loves recognizes her talent and encourages it. The story begins with Vini imagining herself as a puppet; at one point her mother “goes over the edge” and believes that a puppet is actually the son she was supposed to give her husband. At the end of the story, Vini once again dreams of the puppet, but this time she has no strings, nothing at all to hold her back. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 8

 

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Written as a children’s book, Alice in Wonderland still has a place in our culture. Who can forget the “tea party,” the white rabbit, the red queen, and all the characters that inhabit the pages of this classic? Too few students have read the book that was so popular (again) during the 60s. Some of my students have discovered it again and agree that it is well worth reading. Story quality: 10 Purchase: 9

 

Richards, Justin. The Death Collector, Bloomsburg Publishing: New York, 2006. A dinosaur egg as the key to creating life? That seems to be the premise of the Glick diaries which hold the secrets to creation. George, the protagonist and his friends, Elizabeth and Eddie, are determined to keep Mr. Lorimore and others from using their vast intelligence and equipment to create life. Although the story drags in places, the characters are well-developed, pitting good against evil. Another theme is that intelligence is a gift, a privilege, and human nature has a tendency to abuse such things. At the heart of many good young adult books is a mystery; this one has mysteries galore. As it is told in the first person, the reader feels as if s/he were a companion “good guy” helping to save the world. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Saulnier, Beth. Ecstasy, 2003. Truly awful things happen to teenagers every day. To Alex and the group she calls the Melting Rock Eight, the teens she is supposed to cover at the famous rock music festival, this reality is a part of their lives. This is an intense, and rather lengthy (for an adolescent novel) story about the mystery surrounding the deaths and rape of seven of them. Unfortunately, a stereotypical bad-guy cop turns out to be the center of the events that take place. If I were to purchase this book, I would suggest having it for older teens than sophomores. (It’s difficult to find interesting novels for seniors.) Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

de la Cruz, Melissa. Angels on Sunset Boulevard, 2007. Occasionally adolescent literature will leave readers wanting more; this novel is one of them. It concerns Taj, a song writer, Johnny, a musician, Nick, their friend, and Tap parties—drug parties, actually. When Johnny suddenly disappears during one of his concerts in a blinding flash of light and smoke, Nick seems to be the only one searching for him. Unfortunately, during his search he discovers that Taj isn’t who she seems to be; she is, in fact, the creator of the drug and the activities associated with it. I am always torn about whether to suggest books that “deal in drugs”. I know that they present a reality that is “out there,” but I am not certain that it does any good to confirm students’ assumptions about what goes on in that culture. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 7

 

Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade, 2002. This is a story interspersed by poetry written by “Tyrone” who attends a school for troubled kids. The teacher encourages all of them to try their hands at poetry and Tyrone discovers that he has a talent. His teacher believes in him and encourages him to move on and continue his writing. Inspiring. Probably more for an inner city school. I don’t know how well students would relate to the story. I did, however, and would consider using it for a daily read aloud in my classes. Story quality: 8 Purchase: 7/8

 

Lowry, Brigid. Things You Either Hate or Love, 2005. I often wonder how boys would react to the many novels I have that have as their protagonist a female. M.Y. read this and said, “I am glad I read this book because it helped me understand how girls feel.” The story concerns Georgia who lives in a town called Anywhere, but she doesn’t fit in anywhere. She’d like to, but Georgia doesn’t have the money that it seems to take. Eventually, though, because she and the boy she likes work at the same place, they are able to talk to each other, which seems to resolve at least part of Georgia’s frustrations. I seem to have a large number of books that, except for their themes, would do well in a middle school. Some of my less-active readers are getting to them and that is good for their reading practice. Story quality: 5/6 Purchase: 6/7 for middle school

 

Carter, Betsy. Orange Blossom Express, 2005. Death is the most obvious theme of this novel as one parent after another dies leaving grieving family behind. There is simply too much death; soon, the reader becomes inured to it and the story begins to have less of an impact than the author intended. It’s hard to see what keeps driving the characters when every time things are heading for the best someone close to them dies. The setting is Illinois and covers about 1958 to 1986—during the Vietnam War and protests for Equal Rights. Because the book is written in 3rd person, the reader is able to take a step back in the mix of all the commotion and see the problems of the characters in a worthwhile perspective. I think that the book was overly packed with death and pain. A better approach would have been to focus on one—at the most, two—deaths to allow the reader to really care about what transpires to the characters. Story quality: 5 Purchase: 5

 

Halse, Laurie. Prom, 2005. My students have said that because the book is so pertinent to their school lives, Prom hooks readers with the very first sentence as it describes the ups and downs of Ashley’s experiences surrounding Prom; it turns out to be one of the best nights of her life. Ashley is a stubborn and fairly typical teen, while her best friend Natalia is Russian and has to deal with a crazy grandmother. The girls’ adventures show how two very different people can be best friends and find that there is more joy in life when two can share their adventures. Story quality: 9 Purchase: 9

 

Mass, Wendy. Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life. 2006. Jeremy Fink is 12 years old going on 13. He only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When he sweats he smells like peanut butter. He doesn’t like to travel, or eat different food; he just likes sticking to what he does normally. The reason all of the events happen in the story is that Jeremy’s mother receives a box; Jeremy receives a collection of keys. When the two are matched up, all kinds of adventures begin to happen. The last line of the book reads, “The people on the train with me don’t know it, but in my head I’m dancing.” Although this book could just as easily find its way into a middle school collection, I liked it because it was refreshing and optimistic. Lizzy and Jeremy make a fun pair of protagonists. Story quality: 8/9 Purchase: 8

 

Rennison, Louise. Startled by his Furry Shorts, 2006. This is the 7th in an extended series of stories about (and by) Georgia Nicholson who writes in her journal about her love life and general adventures in the lives of her friends. The problem this time is that she has a crush on Masimo who is playing hard to get while Dave, who has always been there for her, is getting tired of waiting. Very little is resolved by the conclusion, leaving the way open for another in the on-going “saga.” Part of what makes the book enjoyable, however, is Georgia’s sense of humor. A glossary of terms, both real and invented by her, is included so that the reader can laugh along with the heroine. “Journal” and diary-style novels are very popular with the girls at my school right now. Ones that are written with a cheerful sense of humor are a must-read among my sophomores; this one already is being passed around and students are asking for more by “Georgia.” Story quality: 7/8 Purchase: 8 (with others in the series)

 

Book Reviews—September 2007

 

A.G.

Easton, Kelly. Aftershock. NY: Margaret McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2006. $16.95 165 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-0052-7 P7/Q8

Traumatic shock takes a lot of forms; this story is about a seventeen-year-old boy who gets in a car wreck with his parents, thousands of miles away from home, and they are killed. Shocked beyond belief but physically unhurt, Adam is unable to talk. The rest of the story is about his journey back to the east coast from Idaho, penniless and without identity, working through his grief as he went. This is yet another book about dealing with grief. It is very readable and I finished it in one sitting.

 

Yancey, Rick. The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. NY: Bloomsbury Childrens Books, 2005. $16.95 313 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-58234-693-3 P7/Q7

This is a quintessential boy’s adventure novel set in modern times but with a fantasy edge that will appeal to King Arthur fans. Alfred is a 15-year-old orphan with self-esteem problems living in Knoxville, Tennessee, with his security guard uncle. When his uncle reveals a get-rich-quick scheme to Alfred which requires his involvement, Alfred tries to please by going along with it. Little did he know that it would lead not only to the death of many people, but also to the revelation of Alfred’s Arthurian heritage. Alfred is a lovable, bumbling, self-effacing hero who proves that the best leaders are those who don’t crave that recognition. The first person singular writing is a bit uneven but sometimes it’s appealing in that. For kids who are into action adventure, this will supply them with all the adrenaline-pumping scenarios they are used to in adventure films. The cover is not as appealing as it perhaps could be, so readers may have to be led to this book. It could work as a read-aloud to a classroom as there are no objectionable bits, and could also serve to emphasize that kids who may look dorky may also have greatness in them.

 

Calhoun, Dia. Avielle of Rhia. Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2006. $16.99 400 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 0-7614-5320-2 P8/Q8

In this extra-terrestrial medieval fantasy, a teen princess is despised by her older brother (the crown prince) and many of her countrymen because she takes after the race of her grandmother, a political bride from the neighboring enemy state. Her silver skin stands out against everyone else’s white to black skin. Making it more interesting, her favored race also has genetically-linked magical powers. She leaves home and takes shelter with a magical weaver, and then finds that she also has to learn how to conquer her country’s problems and lead them to victory. This is the type of story that features a misunderstood teenager with hidden powers, but it also puts race relations into perspective. The message tends to give the story more punch.

 

McDonald, Janet. Harlem Hustle. NY: Frances Foster Books (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 2006. $16.00 182 pp. 14 up ISBN 0-374-37184-9 P6/Q6

The story of teen Eric Samson (aka Harlem Hustle) and his hard life living with friends (abandoned by his family) and trying to make a living by shoplifting is intriguing but not pathetic. The story’s main focus is on his ambition (along with many other teens) to become a well-paid rap artist. He’s good with words and with hustling, but his innocence gets him ripped off by a mid-level manager of a recording company. Armed with friends in high places due to a friendship with a Harlem girl who made good and went to a good school, Hustle fights back using a network of people rather than a gun. While the topic may appeal to teens who like rap, the story isn’t particularly gritty or fraught with pathos. The author gets in her own political stance on misogynistic rap, encouraging more positive lyrics. It’s hard to know if a woman raised in Brooklyn and living in Paris, France, has the straight story on male Harlem rap wannabes. The extensive use of rappers’ lingo may provide some useful examples of dialect for English classes, as well as demonstrating rap’s poetry.

 

Kirkpatrick, Katerine. Escape Across the Wide Sea. NY: Holiday House, 2004. $17.95 210 pp. ages 8-13 ISBN 0-8234-1854-5 P6/Q6

The settlement in New York of French Huguenots in the late 1600’s today interests mostly just family historians. However, their culture was one of the many that contributed to America’s early settlement and deserves exploration. This story follows the fate of a 9-year-old French boy of Rochelle as he and his weaver father and mother are persecuted for their refusal to convert to Catholicism. They are run out of town, and in the process Daniel is badly wounded in the leg by a soldier’s sword. From there the story proceeds on board a slave ship to Africa, the loading of slaves and sailing west to Guadalupe, a French sugar plantation colony with Daniel befriending a young African slave. The family eventually ends up in New York. Designed to serve as enrichment for 4th grade history curriculum, this book will give students background on Calvinism and the French equivalent of the Puritans, the reasons people settled in America, the slave trade, 17th century French politics, New World economics, and American settlers’ early difficulties in the “wilderness” that became New Rochelle, New York. The story is interesting and has vocabulary simple enough for a 4th grader, and is a fast read despite its many pages.

 

Smith, D. James. Probably the World’s Best Story About a Dog and the Girl Who Loved Me. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 234 pp. ages 9-12 ISBN1-4169-0542-1 P7/Q8

Twelve-year-old Irish-Italian Paolo lives in Orange Grove City, California in 1951. While not strictly speaking a historical novel, the story does focus on a life that’s forever gone—boys with paper routes who spend time bicycling around hunting adventures instead of sitting in front of TV or a computer. (Many things of the 50’s the author gets right, so I’ll forgive one historic inconsistency: While duck tape had been invented by 1951, it wasn’t in common use yet—baling wire was the universal binder of the day). It also deals with longer-term issues: first jobs, friendships, children who are different (there’s a deaf boy, a boy with a polio-withered hand, and a boy whose mother is odd), and puppy love. The chapter headings, each with a description of a plot-significant word in sign language, add a classy touch. The plot rides along nicely, and has some

interesting twists. A clear message is conveyed regarding positive self-concept without hitting the reader over the head with it (except in the title).

 

Popescu, Petru. Weregirls: Birth of the Pack. NY: Tom Doherty Assoc., 2007. $12.95 352 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-7653-1641-2 P7/Q6

This first volume of an obviously anticipated series is entertaining enough reading, imaginative though sometimes uneven in writing. Sixteen-year-old Lily is the daughter of two police; her father, though, was killed in a mysterious confrontation for which her mother still blames herself for failing to save him. Most of the book is Lily’s discovery of herself and her hidden powers. Beginning with her organizing of a soccer club, Lily has challenges ranging from overcoming bureaucracy to competing with a wealthy Barbie-look-alike new girl. The ordinary teen social angst suddenly becomes a battle of magical beings fighting for good and evil. The mystical traditions the author draws upon for his story are wildly confused between eastern European and imagined Native American. I’m not entirely sure that they work, but I suppose people can make up whatever they please. The first person narrative is a little lame at times in its effort to be contemporary “teen-speak”. It is a bit in the genre of the Chloe King series where an ordinary teen finds herself with cat powers, but that series has more interesting character development than this novel. A little formulaic, perhaps, but perhaps what bothers me most is the clear delineation of “bad” qualities (greed, anger, etc.) but not as great of delineation of “good” qualities (the good guys are a bit headstrong and out for glory). I would not highly recommend this book, but I suspect it will have its followers. Sex, violence or mature themes do not occur in this book, and it would likely have a stronger following with the middle school set.

 

Wittlinger, Ellen. Blind Faith. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 280 pp. ages 12 up ISBN:1-4169-0273-2 P

This story is about relationships with parents—when they are dying, when they have died, and when they are grieving. Liz (undeterminate age, probably middle school) is trying to cope with her mother who is deeply depressed after the death of her own mother, with whom she’d had a much closer relationship than she has with Liz. The story is in first person. While Liz deals with her mother, her mother’s new obsession with spiritualism, and then with her parents’ separation, a new family moves in across the street. That mother is herself dying, and they haven’t told the younger daughter. This book could provide a basis for a discussion on dealing with dying, and with relationships between mothers and daughters. A side story is Liz’ emotional outlet in playing piano.

 

D’Lacey, Chris. Fire Star. NY: Orchard Books (Scholastic); 1st pub in Great Britain by Hachette Pub., 2005. $15.99 548 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-84582-3 P8/Q7

This is the third in a series; no doubt there will be a fourth as the story is not yet complete. Dragons are the subject. In this volume, the storyline focuses on Elizabeth Pennykettle’s roomer, David, who writes and mysteriously what he writes comes true, and his odd girlfriend Suzanna. Much of the story takes place in the Arctic with the polar bears. The plot has some reasonably interesting twists, and a new malevolent force is introduced which promises to be the focus of the next volume. While there are a lot of pages here, they are offset by the large print and wide margins, and the vocabulary and treatment keep it within the reach of elementary students.

 

Ruby, Laura. Good Girls. NY: Harper Tempest, 2006. $16.99 274 pp. ages 15 up ISBN 0-06-088223-9 P7/Q7

Told first person, we learn about the senior year of Audrey and the guy she really likes (but can’t bring herself to tell him). At a party they get together, then someone pops in and snaps a photo of them with a cell phone, and then circulates it. Audrey’s reputation is ruined as everyone could tell that was his pants and the back of her head in the picture. Yet they broke up that night. This is a pretty frank book about sexual activity, though it isn’t prurient; it’s more precautionary, as though from a girlfriend.

 

Russo, Marisabina. A Portrait of Pia. NY: Harcourt, 2007. $17.00 221 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-15-205577-6 P7/Q7

Twelve-year-old Pia is a normal kid raised by a single mom. She however has an older brother who is a schizophrenic genius, and a father she’s never met. The story brings her through contacting her father, meeting him for the first time by traveling to Italy, and finding out the nature of her parents’ relationship. It considers her feelings about her mother dating and trying to find her a dad. There is also a lot about friends and when those relationships go sour. This is a pleasant story, one I enjoyed returning to, and it considers a situation that probably many young people today go through, and need to reflect on. It also addresses schizophrenia and how that can affect a family, and how it can manifest and how people deal with it.

 

Welsh, T. K. Resurrection Men. NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2007. $16.99 214 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-525-47699-3 P7/Q7

Western medical science has progressed a lot since the early 1800’s, but it got off to a rocky start. With autopsies of treated patients not allowed, the bodies of the condemned—or bodies obtained far more cruelly—were used to demonstrate anatomy. This story begins with a child being run over by a horse and coach in the 1850’s. As he treats the “street rat” against the wishes of the rich man who struck him, the doctor tells the story of a boy which views the English class system from the point of view of the “less fortunate”. The 12-year-old boy Victor goes to sea, and has more bad luck there when he is terribly injured and permanently disabled. From walking the plank (so to speak) to life on the streets of 1830’s London, the struggles that kept the Englishmen’s average lifespan to only 27 years are brought to life. The horrors of unprincipled medical research and grave-robbing of the time will likely appeal to pre-teen/tween boys. This story will interest fans of historical fiction, mysteries, and action adventures. It is fast-paced and colorful, a quick read. The vocabulary will include many words new to the reader (from antique slang to stilted Victorian terms), but it adds to the texture of the book and shouldn’t be an obstacle to understanding or enjoyment.

 

Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II. NY: Dial Books, 2005. 224 pp. $16.99 ages 10 up ISBN 0-8037-2921-9 P8/Q8

I’ve had more than one high school boy ask me for help finding material on the Navajo code talkers, and it’s not been easy to find it. This volume clearly tells the tale from the

point of view of an old Navajo veteran. Having heard many a vet tell war stories at powwows, this voice rings true. Bruchac wrote this one because he was interested in the topic, and it shows in the extensive research he obviously did for the book. I learned a lot of facts new to me by reading it; for instance, that the Cherokees used their language to relay messages on the battlefront in World War I. The viewpoint of the code talker is particularly advantageous in telling the story of the island battles in the Pacific theatre of the war, since they were in direct company with the top brass and relayed all the key messages (“FDR is dead”, “Japan has surrendered” as well as “Stop bombing us with friendly fire!”) The story is not too graphically violent, and is appropriate for all ages. People who like war stories will like this one, but it should appeal also to those looking for a palatable way to learn history. With the popularity of the movie “Windtalkers”, there should be enhanced interest in filling out the Navajo side of the story as well as historical details with this book; the recent movies “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” would also compliment this story. High school students more often cover World War II, but there will be middle school students who will find this book interesting. It is must reading for all Navajo students. It is very good in teaching about race relations. There is a selected bibliography in the back, on Navajos, code talkers and World War II.

 

Wilson, N.D. Leepike Ridge. NY: Random House, 2007. $15.99 224 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 978-0-375-83873-6 P8/Q8

Tom is 11 years old and resentful of his mother’s new boyfriend (his father died 3 years before) and goes down to the creek in a sulk. Playing on a refrigerator box Styrofoam pad, he soon gets washed downstream to unfamiliar territory, and then sucked underwater to an underground system of streams and caves. Wierder yet—people have been there before, a LONG time before. This action adventure story melds Tom Sawyer with Indiana Jones (with minimal violence) for a fun read that will entertain most action-oriented young readers.

 

DePalma, Toni. Under the Banyan Tree. NY: Holiday House, 2007. $16.95 185 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-8234-1965-7 P6/Q7

When 15-year-old Irena gets fed up with her gator-wrestling backwoods father who’s run off her precious mother, she hitchhikes off to Key West, famous for being the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. The key focus of the book is on her sense of loss and trying to sort out her parents’ divorce in her mind. She gets hired on as a motel maid at the Banyan Tree Motel. In hopes that she can keep her position and the motel afloat, Irena has to apply some business sense she learned from the gator-wrestling business. The story is simple, large print, and pretty short. It packs in some personal development—Irena comes to forgive her father some—and some literary allusion (how she saves the motel is best left as a surprise, but it involves a well-known writer). It may help an older teenager think through what is out there in the “real world”, and how one survives without a family’s help. There is none of the older teen’s romance or social whirl, so the story could appeal also to the younger pre-teen; it’s an easy read, too.

 

Archbold, Tim, Brown, Mik & Hurt-Newton, Tania.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Over 350 very funny jokes. Boston: Kinfisher, 2006. $? No. of pages ? (it’s pretty long, pocketbook-style) Ages 5 up ISBN 0-7534-6003-3 P8/Q7

There’s a certain age of kid that really loves puns, knock-knock jokes and elephant jokes. No matter that these particular jokes have been published since 1984, they will be all knew (ha ha) to the younger crowd. Each illustrator takes a third of the book, using a different illustration style. The jokes are very simple and short. At the end of each section there’s a short bit about the illustrator, which is written to be funny as well. As a comparison of artistic styles it’s interesting, but it will also keep the interest of a pre-reader as someone else reads the short joke, and give the reader and listener something to focus on to prolong the enjoyment of a particular joke.

 

Picture Books

Hatkoff, Isabella; Hatkoff, Craig; & Kahumbu, Paula. Photos by Peter Greste. Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship. NY: Scholastic Press, 2007 (c. Turtle Pond Pub.). $16.99 30 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 0-439-89959-1 P8/Q8

Cross-species friendships are unusual enough when they involve horses and cats; this story is about an exceptional relationship between a 130-year-old land tortoise, Mzee, and a young hippopotamus, Owen. The hippo was rescued after the big tsunami of 2004 and brought to the park where Mzee was kept. As hippos don’t always accept newcomers, the keepers put Owen in with Mzee, where they formed a surprisingly close relationship. The photos support the physical language between the two, and the text talks about its development. It’s a wonderful story, appropriate to read aloud to a classroom or to children younger than can read the text, and will also interest adults.

 

Baum, Maxie. Illus. by Julie Paschkis. I Have a Little Dreidel. NY: Scholastic, 2006. $9.99 22 pp. ages 5 up ISBN 0-439-64997-8 P7/Q8

This charmingly illustrated book illustrates an evening celebration of Hanukah which features making latkes, lighting candles, and playing dreidel. The dreidel song is often the only feature of Hanukah which makes it to the hinterland of public schools, so it’s helpful to illustrate how the game is played and in what setting, as well as giving many verses and also the musical score. A recipe for latkes is also offered at the end. (In terms of Hebrew heritage, it’s interesting how the spell-check program for this Word program understands and spells Hanukah and latke, but not dreidel, underlining the need for a book such as this.) This will be a standby for cultural diversity in the winter season, and would make an appropriate gift to a young gentile from a Jewish friend.

 

Funke, Cornelia. Illus. by Kerstin Meyer. Princess Pigsty. NY: Chicken House (Scholastic), 2007. $16.9924 pp. ages 5-9 ISBN 0-439-88554-X P7/Q7

Ever tried to convince a youngster that they should LIKE to do chores? It’s pretty difficult, but maybe reading this book will help. Princess Isabella gets tired sitting around looking beautiful all day, with everyone waiting on her. Being a Royal turns out to be more difficult than it looks. All she wants to do is skip the dress-up and cook, clean and take care of the pigs. Will it be convincing? Good luck—but at least it gives another perspective. Cute illustrations. Best as a read-aloud for the younger ones.

 

Bildner, Phil. Illus. by Zachary Pullen. The Greatest Game Ever Played: A Football Story. NY: GP Putnam’s Sons, 2006. ages 7-10 ISBN 0-399-24171-K P7/Q7

A father tries to interest his son in football by talking about a great pro football game from the early days of football’s popularity rise over baseball. The illustrations are great fun, and the story is told straightforwardly. The book may even interest non-sports fans, at least to enjoy the funny pictures. I am not a good judge of accuracy in sports stats, but the names of the players even I was familiar with, though I can’t think of a good reason I would have heard before of the “greatest game ever played”, a NFL championship game between the Colts and the Giants.

 

October 2007 Reviews

 

OREGON COAST PREVIEW BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS S.E. Grandparent Volunteer October 2007

 

Fiction

Lehman, Barbara author and illustrator. Rainstorm. Houghton Mifflin Company, NY.NY. 2007. 061875639-6. $16.00. A wonderful wordless story about a young man who is alone on a rainy day and finds a key. The illustrations are simple but the reader can easily identify with what the boy goes through during the story. It is a cheery book to “read” aloud on a rainy winter day. K-1. P10 Q9

Shannon, George. Il Laura Dronzek. Rabbit’s Gift. Harcourt Children’s Books San Diego, Calif., 2007. ISBN 15206073-1. $16.00. 32p. This is a nice story of sharing that spreads throughout Rabbit’s community. Ages 5-7. P8Q8

 

Norac, Carl. Il Ingrid Gordon. My Mommy Is Magic Houghton Mifflin Company, NY, NY. 2006. ISBN 0-61875766-4. $16.00. 29p. A cute story about the things a mom can do that appear to be magic. If it becomes popular it will be because little children can relate to the mom being magic. Ages 5-7. P8Q7

 

Dahlin, Adam. Il. Emma Akerman. Junk Collector School Rabe’n & Sjogren Bokforlag, Stockholm, Sweden, 2007. ISBN 91-29-66736-4. $16.00. This is a nice story about a kid who wants to start a collection and gets lessons from an old guy who is a junk collector. I like the book, I like the illustrations and I like the theme which is that life can get a little meaningless without some sort of goal or something special. Ages 5-9. P8Q8

 

Poetry

Grandits, John. Blue Lipstick Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Company NY. 2007. ISBN 061856860-3. $15.00. This is a very unique way to write poetry and can be used to show that you don’t have to write in any particular way in order to get out what is inside you…that creativity can be accepted and celebrated in whatever unique form presented. Ages 13-18. P8Q8

 

October 2007 Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Burns, Loree Griffin. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion. [Scientists in the Field Series] Houghton, 2007. $18.00. 0-618-58131-6. 58p. Ages 8-12: What do sneakers and plastic bathtub toys have to do with ocean currents? The answer comes from those who study the ocean movements as they are aided by objects tossed into the ocean, including cargo containers hauling manufactured goods from one continent to another. The author uses the information from their studies to teach basic concepts of longitude and latitude, tides and currents, and the dangers of all the debris circling the world’s waterways. The information is fascinating enough to keep the reader moving through the book. If anything suffers in the book, it is the lack of dynamic pictures. Yes, the maps are important, but almost half the photographs are static, usually headshots of men active in the field. (The only named woman in a photograph is one of the scientists’ mother.) Nevertheless, this book is a good addition to books about the ocean, especially needed in schools along the Coast, and it has a good environmental focus showing the disasters of not recycling. P7Q7

 

Gibbons, Gail. Coral Reefs. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-2080-9. 32p. Ages 5-9: Author of dozens of books in the same style, Gibbons tackles some of the 650 known kinds of hard coral polyps and 1,800 soft coral polyps in brief narrative and drawings of sea life completed with colorful watercolors. Useful are the maps where coral reefs have been found as well as illustrations of reef types that make the explanation far clearer than words only. The repetition of coral names reinforces the information, and the drawings and naming of other reef creatures expand the usefulness of this book. Previous books for this audience on coral have used photographs; Gibbons brings her own unique approach to the subject. P8Q8

 

Litwin, Laura Baskes. Dorothea Lange: A Life in Pictures. [People to Know Today Series] Enslow, 2007. 0-7660-2697-3. Ages 9-12: Best known for her photographs showing the personal devastation of the 1930s Depression, Lange managed a full-time career during a time that most women in her class stayed at home with the children. Because of her commitment to recording the social scene of her time, she successfully worked to combat poverty and improve people’s lives. The 33 photographs in the book show some of her most famous as well as those events in her personal life. P6Q6

 

Sis, Peter. The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain. Farrar, 2007. $18.00. 0-374-34701-8. unp. Ages 8-12: In Tibet, Sis tells about his father’s life while he was lost in Tibet after the Czechoslovakian government ordered him there to teach photography to the Chinese people. In The Wall, Sis describes his own life growing up in Czechoslovakia under the iron hand of the Soviets. His story, told in roughly drawn but detailed pictures and brief memories, goes from a happy childhood in the late 1940s and 1950s to a confused adolescence when the news filtered from the West taught him and his friends about Coca-Cola, jeans, beat poetry, and the Beatles. But with the Soviets’ reassertion of totalitarian control in Prague during the spring of 1968, Sis wishes to escape from a land of suspicion, stupidity, and fear to a place of justice, honor, wisdom, and knowledge. He was allowed to leave the country but returned when he was ordered to until 1984 when he settled in the United States. This fusion of history, personal recollection, and art provide an amazing journey behind the Iron Curtain into the lives of young people. P7Q9

 

Sullivan, George. Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures. Scholastic, 2007. $17.99. 0-439-91815-4. 80p. Ages 8+: The story of the blind and deaf girl who became one of the most famous women in the world never ceases to fascinate, and this book adds two new pieces to the literature: a foreword by Keller Johnson Thompson, Keller’s great-grandniece; and the plethora of large photographs following Keller from childhood through old age. Although the text is briefer than many other books, Sullivan manages to synthesize the important parts of Keller’s life and bring a warm, personal touch to his writing. Reading this book is almost like meeting the great woman. Highly recommended for all school and public libraries. P7Q10.

 

Waring, Geoff. Oscar and the Moth: A Book about Light and Dark. [A Start with Science Book Series] Candlewick, 2006. $11.99. 0-7636-3558-9. 29p. Ages 4-7: Seasons, light, times of day, heat and cold, and shadows are a few of the subjects tackled by Moth who explains these phenomena to a curious kitten, Oscar as they wander around. Bold, brightly-colored cutouts demonstrate the succinct, clear text that includes how some living creatures make light in their own bodies. Gentle humor, including the illustration of the anglerfish, motivate the reader. The index helps introduce this concept to your readers who will find this charming book delightful. P8Q9

 

Waring, Geoff. Oscar and the Frog: A Book about Growing. [A Start with Science Book Series] Candlewick, 2006. $11.99. 0-7636-3558-9. 29p. Ages 4-7: A curious kitten, who visits a pond, learns about how living things begin, why they eat, and how they grow from his friend Frog. The same advantages as Oscar and the Moth (above). P8Q9

 

Picture Books

McPhail, David. Sylvie & True. Farrar, 2007. $15.00. 0-374-37364-7. 32p. Ages 5-8: In a charmingly illustrated chapter book, the friendship of a sweet rabbit who loves to cook and a giant water snake who always wins at bowling are shown in a series of episodes. The acceptance of True’s oddity as a reptile and the characterization of both creatures makes this an important book in showing young readers about the diversity of humans while the humor of True’s attempting to cook will strike home for everyone. Life with Sylvie and True is never boring as anyone who reads the tales and admires the enchanting watercolors will realize. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Horvath, Polly. The Corps of the Bare-Boned Plane. Farrar, 2007. $17.00. 0-374-31553-1. 261p. Ages 12+: Horvath has always brought a black humor to her novels; in this one, she goes farther than before as she lays her highly dysfunctional characters on a rainy island off the Vancouver Island coast in British Columbia. Although the focus is on two cousins, ages 15 and 16, who have been orphaned through a train accident, other pieces of a puzzle are supplied by the taciturn uncle who gives them a home and the housekeeper/cook hired to provide for their needs. With no supervision, the two cousins work to put together parts of airplanes to escape the island, the younger Meline leading the older Jocelyn. The story moves backward to earlier experiences of the lives that the cousins had with their families and the uncle when he was a foster child as well as the the housekeeper’s loss of her husband and four sons. The theme of the book centers on how each copes with grief and moves past their sadness. A rich, complicated book for readers willing to be introspective. P7Q9

 

konigsburg, e. l. The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World. Atheneum, 2007. $16.99. 1-4169-4972-0. 244p. Ages 11+: Amadeo’s dream of discovering something that no one realizes is there takes a strange turn when he moves with his mother to a small Florida town and works with an aloof boy on an estate sale for Amadeo’s eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Zender. The carefully delineated characters of the book are typical of this two-time Newbery winner as she draws the reader further and further into the maze that led the neighbor to own a Modigliani drawing that was stolen from Amadeo’s godfather’s family during the Holocaust. Also tied into the plot is Hitler’s persecution of homosexuals as well as Jews. Readers familiar with konigsburg’s earlier book The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place will delight in following the three protagonists in their adulthood, Amadeo’s divorced parents and his godfather. Arcane plotting and motivations make this a good candidate for another Newbery. P7Q9

 

Lott, Tim. Fearless. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-3637-1. 263p. Ages 12+: In this dystopian novel of the future, girls are incarcerated in a so-called school to slave for the government, dehumanized by their losses of their names and their pasts. Only one of them, nicknamed Little Fearless, has the courage to try to escape the facility to tell the world about the cruelty that they suffer. In her dangerous adventures she is willing to risk everything so that the girls will be treated justly. Despite some improbably plotting, the book reads well and quickly. Lott shows readers the ability for people to lose their courage and determination when they are stripped of individuality and their growing subservience when power is distributed unequally. A must reading for today’s society. P7Q8

 

Pixley, Marcella. Freak. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-32453-0. 131p. Ages 11-14: Seventh grade, a time when hormones change everyone’s perspective, is also the time when girls try to work on their “Feminine Attributes” if they wish to be popular with boys. Miriam Fisher, budding poet, decides not to follow her older sister into this loss of intelligence and thus suffers the cruel harassment of the popular girls. She cannot talk to her artist mother because of the woman’s emotional fragility and thus copes in silence until one night she starts cutting her hair and shaping her eyebrows, ending up with almost no hair on her head. When Miriam fights back against the ridicule, she

discovers that being popular is not necessarily what she wants, discovering that her classmate Jenny is sexually molested because she wants to be popular. Although the book is almost too simple, almost to the point of being didactic, many young girls can identify with the plights of Miriam and Jenny who reveal dimensions that young people need to understand. P8Q7

 

St. George, Judith. The Ghost, the White House, and Me. Holiday House, 2007. $16.95. 0-8234-2045-0. 153p. Ages 8-12: This light-hearted comedy/coming-of-age novel features 11-year-old KayKay Granger whose mother has just been elected the President of the United States. The plot surrounds KayKay’s decision to play a prank on her uncle who is allowed to sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom after she is told she cannot. Somewhat unrealistic with jumps in characterization and motivation, but young readers will enjoy a look at the most famous home in the United States. And it’s got a great cover! P8Q6

 

Sinykin, Sheri. Giving Up the Ghost. Peachtree, 2007. $15.95. 1-56145-423-0. 227p. Ages 10-14: Fear so overwhelms 13-year-old Davia that she has frequent asthma attacks: mostly she is terrified of her mother’s cancer returning. When she and her mother leave their home to stay with a dying aunt in the deep South while Davia’s father helps rebuild New Orleans after Katrina, the girl has a new fear—the tortured ghost of a spoiled Creole girl who inhabits the old plantation. Sinykin has not only the ability to delineate character but also skill to create a fascinating, believable setting for her story. Young readers wil be enticed into the novel through the cover and title as well as benefit from reading about a peer’s gradual acceptance of self and death in a story about developing closeness with a relative who starts out as a stranger. P8Q8

 

October 2007 Reviews by C.B. INMS/NMS

Farmer, Nancy, The land of the silver apples, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 496 pgs., $18.99, ISBN:1416907351, Gr.7+, P 8, Q 9,

This book is the sequel to The Sea of trolls, and we now find Jack, who is now 13-years-old, back home in 790 AD Britain where he is studying to be a bard. Jack is soon facing elves, who never age, hobgoblins, who stole his true sister, a reunion with Thorgil, and Pege, a slave girl. Christianity versus the life of pagans and magic is another theme that is woven throughout the story. If you liked the first book this is one that readers will not be able to put down till they finish.

 

Croggon, Alison, The crow: the third book of Pellinor, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2006, 511 pgs., $18.99, ISBN:0763634093, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,

This is the third book in this series by Croggon. This book however features Hem, Maerad brother, who is discovering his own powers and how to fit in the life he has now. Previously he had been in an orphanage and was taken from there by the dark forces to train to become one of them. Now as the dark forces attack the city of Turhansk, Hem helps to defend the city and discovers that he is a healing bard. Escaping from the city in it’s final moments Hem and the others with know that they too must help discover the riddle of the Treesong so that the dark forces can be conquered. Those who read the other two books in this series will love this one as well.

 

Giff, Patricia Reilly, Eleven, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2008, 167 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0385900988, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Sam is an 11 year-old boy the year he finds a box in Mack’s attic which holds a newspaper clipping with the words kidnapped printed on it. This triggers Sam’s memory and he is soon wondering who really is, if he was indeed kidnapped. He also starts to wonder why the number 11 keeps appearing in all his dreams. Sam tries to do everything himself but is unable to read. With the appearance of Caroline Sam plans to make friends with her and have her help him solve the mystery. But instead he finds a friendship and the truth. This is a book that will appeal to middle school age students.

 

Resau, Laura, Red glass, Delacorte Press, New York, 2007, 275 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0385734662, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,

Sophie and her mother have always just made it from one pay check to another, that changes when her mother marries Juan. It’s not uncommon now for Sophie to wake up to find her back yard harboring people who have crossed into the United States illegally. Pedro, survives such a crossing, is introduced to the family after he is found in the desert. Pedro is with them for almost a year when his extended family is found in Mexico. So begins an adventure and a self discovery for Sophie as she and the members of her party take Pedro home. This book will appeal to older middle school children and will show them the difficulties that people in other countries face.

 

Salisbury, Graham, Night of the howling dogs, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2007, 191 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0385731221, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 9,

In 1972, on the big island of Hawaii a boy scout troop was camping at a remote site, Halapee, when a earth quake hit the island. In the following aftermath of the quake a tsunami also hits the island. This story is based on this event. Dylan is an 8th grader when his troop plans an overnight camping and hiking trip. His trip is further complicated by the new member, Louie, whom he doesn’t get along with. During this horrible event however Louie and Dylan must work together to find those lost and to survive. As with other Salisbury books this one will draw the reader in and keep their interest as the events unfold.

 

Stone, Jeff, Crane, Random House, New York, 2007, 248 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0375830774, Gr. 5+, P 8 , Q 7,

Those students who love martial arts will love this book, the fourth in a series of five books. Hok ,also known as Crane has hidden her true identity from her fellow young monks and the world. Hiding and posing as a boy has always been hard for the young women, but now reunited with her family she is finally able to be herself. This Kung Fu adventure is set in China and includes a raft trip down the Yellow River with danger lurking around every bend. Elementary and middle school students who have read Stone’s other three books will enjoy this one as well.

 

Verrillo, Erica, Elissa’s quest, Random House, New York, 2007, 336 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0375839461, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

This book has it all mystery, magic, danger and an adventure. Topping it all off however is a young girl, Elissa who is an orphaned girl who has lived in a small village with the village healer, Nana. During this time she has developed into a secure young woman who is both strong and kind. She wants to more about herself, who her parents are, why she has these hidden powers, and who know the answers but Nana, who won’t tell her anything. Elissa’s father is revealed and in her travels she is kidnapped, she escapes and by the end of the story has saved the day. This delightful book is one of three planned by the author and I can’t wait to read the other two.

 

NON FICTION

Adams, Simon, The Kingfisher atlas of exploration & empires, illustrated by Mark Bergin, Kingfisher, Boston, 2007, 48 pgs., index, maps, $15.95, ISBN:0753460335, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,

Starting with the world’s exploration in 1450 this unique book covers the world’s discoveries by those who dared to travel the oceans. Full page maps and a side bar time line are included on each page as each era and region are presented. From the voyages of discovery, the Renaissance and ending with the French Revolution students will find this a handy reference to begin more in depth research.

 

Farmer, Nancy, Clever Ali, illustrated by Gail De Marcken, Orchard Books, New York, 2006, unp, $17.99, ISBN:0439370140, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,

Seven year old Ali is a young boy who lives in the Sultan’s palace, where his father holds the position as a pigeon keeper. It’s the 12 century and Farmer has chosen to tell the tale, based on a true 12-century Egyptian ruler, Al-Azeez, who demands that Ali deliver 600 cherries in three days. If he fails to do so he and his father will be sent down through a hole in the floor to the horrible monster who lives in the ground below the palace. Ali overcomes this by sending 600 pigeons with a message that they are to send the pigeons back with a cheery. Using rich designs and calligraphy, taken from the Arab-Muslim world, the illustrator has strived to give the reader a taste of the culture of this region.

 

Fleischman, John, Black and white airmen : their true history, Houghton Mifflen Co. Boston, 2007,158 pgs., index, $20.00, ISBN:0618562974, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

This book is centered around two men, John Leahr and Herb Heilbrun, who were born in 1920 in Cincinnati, Ohio. These two men would however lead totally different lives, for Leahr is an African-American and Heilbrun is white, in an era that catered more to whites than to blacks. 50 years later, in 1997, Heilbrun attends a local reception that is honoring the Tuskegee airmen that the two meet and become friends. They soon discover that they attend the same school and even had their picture taken together. While the title of the book speaks of the “airmen” it is really more about these two men and not a whole lot about other airmen. Those who are studying this subject will find this book a good source to draw information from.

 

Hampton, Wilborn, War in the Middle East : a reporter’s story: Black September and the Yom Kippur War, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2007, 112 pgs., index, photos, maps, $19.99, ISBN:0763624934, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

Wilbourn was a reporter who was assigned to cover the war, Black September, in 1970 and the Yon Kippur War in 1973. He has drawn upon these experiences to paint a true picture of what war is and the conflicts that were faced in the Middle East at this time. He also gives a clearer under standing of the issues that caused the wars and the war that we are in now. The dangers he faced as a reporter are truly extraordinary and he brings the reader to the true face of what was happening in the wars of these times. Any reader who is studying the Middle East should read this reporter’s first hand account to gain a clearer perspective of what the issues are in the Middle East.

 

Kramer, Ann, Anne Frank : the young writer who told the world her story, National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2007, 63 pgs., index, $17.95, ISBN:1426300042, Gr. 5+,P 7, Q 7,

Anne Frank is presented to the reader with full color layouts and across the bottom of each page are historical events and biographical information. The book is also presented chronology with the book divided into four sections so that all of Anne’s life is presented to the reader in an easy format to read. While the writing is not of stellar quality it does keep your attention and flows fairly simply.

 

Steele, Philip, Kingfisher knowledge wonders of the world, Kingfisher, Boston, 2007, 63 pgs., index, $12.95, ISBN;0753459795, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

This book contains wonders of the world that man has built. From the Taj Mahal to the pyramids of Egypt this books presents color photos and information that will catch the reader’s interest. While this work catches the reader’s interest you will have to go else where for more in depth information.

 

Weastherford, Carole, Jesse Owens fastest man alive, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, Walker & Company, New York, 2007, unp, $17.85, ISBN:080279551X, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 9,

Jesse Owens in 1936 won four gold medals in the Berlin Olympics and became one of the world’s best known athletes. In this book the legend is again represented with pastel pictures that without words would still demonstrate Owens remarkable abilities. The book deals mainly with the four races that Owen ran during the Olympics. It also deals with Hitler who felt that the white, Aryan, race was more superior and how by Jesse Owens wins this theory was proven wrong. Weastherford writes in prose to carry the reader through Owens triumphs.

 

Book Reviews N.B. Oceanlake Teacher 2007

Cowell, Cressida; and Neal Layton. That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, Hyperion, New York; 2006. 29 pages, $16.99 price, ISBN 142310645-8 Grade: k-2. Popularity: 9 Quality 10 This is a great book that deals with problem solving with words and appropriate actions. It demonstrates how a child can work through a problem by a many pronged approach. The theme is a relatable topic to the students, drawings are wild and imaginative enough to draw the interest of the students and hold it.

 

Anderson, Peggy Perry, Joe on the Go. Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, New York; 2007. 32 pages, price $16.00, ISBN 10:0=618-77331-2 Grade k-2 P: 9 Q:10 Joe Frog wants to play with anyone at a family reunion, but no one will, they find many things wrong with him, and thereby making Joe sad. Finally finds someone who will play with him. This is a great book for an open dialogue about how people are different, but they can still do things other people are able to do. A social lesson can be done on this subject about how to treat people, is it ok to say NO to people just because they are different, etc. It is also a great way to get kids to think outside the box and how others might feel if this was done to them.

 

Standler, John; Big and Little. Random House Inc., New York; 2007. 30 pages, price $9.99, ISBN 10: 978-0-375-84175-0 Grade: k-1, P: 10, Q: 10 This is a great book, kids love movement and anything that they are able to manipulate while engrossed with reading. For a teacher, they can use it as a teaching tool on how to predict, as the story revolves wholly on what will happen next excitement wise. Will the elephant standing atop a very tall ladder, be able to jump into a single glass of water and fit. Before each action takes place the teacher can preempt the students by asking “what will happen next,” and the flip the paper for them to see.

 

McMullan, Katie and Jim; I’m Dirty. HarperCollins Publishers, USA; 2007. 34 pages, price $16.99, ISBN 10: 0-06-009293-9 Grade k-1, P10, Q10. A backhoe is having fun as he describes all the things he hauls, how he hauls them, all the while getting messy. This is a great book for descriptive words. The sounds that are made, the counting, etc the book can be used by a teacher to use as a teaching tool to talk about sounds,

 

First Thursday Book Reviews October 2007 J.C. Library Cataloger

 

Picturebooks

Bean, Jonathan. At night. Farrar Strau Giroux, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780374304461 / 0374304467 $15.00 Ages 3-6, adult. P7Q8

A family goes to bed, but one girl cannot go to sleep. When a mild summer breeze flows in , she follows it up the stairs to the roof. This first book written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean combines realistic pictures of the family members with a nighttime cityscape very effectively. Highly recommended for preschool and public libraries.

 

Cole, Brock. Good enough to eat. Farrar Straus Giroux, c2007. [32] p. ; col. ill. ISBN 9780374327378 / 0374327378 $16.00 Ages 4-7. P7Q7

When an ogre threatens the town, the townspeople vote to give him a girl so poor that she doesn’t even have her own name. Through courage and cleverness, she conquers the ogre and claims her own fortune. Cole’s forte in illustration is showing the monstrous, and the smelly. He excelled in this one. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections.

 

Fleming, Denise. Beetle bop. Harcourt, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780152059361 $16.00 Ages 3-6. P7Q7

Beetles, lots of beetles, lots of really good beetles. According to the title page verso, “the illustrations were created by pouring colored cotton fiber through hand-cut stencils.” The resulting illustrations and simple rhyming text seems made for story times. Recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Mobin-Uddin, Asma. The best Eid ever. Illustrate by Laura Jacobsen. Boyds Mill Press, c2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9781590784310 / 1590784316 $16.95 Ages 4-7. P6Q7

Aneesa, a Muslim girl staying with her grandmother while her parents are on the Hajj pilgrimage, discovers two refugee girls who have neither new clothes nor food for Eid feast, the biggest holiday of the Muslim year. She comes up with a plan to share her gifts and persuades her grandmother to help make this the best Eid ever. The book will be a welcome addition to school and public library collections needing to develop collections on Muslim customs and holidays. However, the appealing illustrations are sometimes overpowered by the large amount of text. Recommended for school and public libraries.

 

Palatini, Margie. The cheese. Paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. “Katherine Tegen Books.” HarperCollins, 2007. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780060526313 $17.89 “Preschool-2.” P6Q7

In this take-off on the nursery song The Farmer in the Dell, the rat, hungry for cheese, questions why the cheese stands alone, and encourages everyone on the farm to enjoy a cheese-centered picnic. The intricate, though not realistic, illustrations will be best shared one-to-one and would not lend themselves well to story hours. Recommended for preschool and public libraries.

 

Pinkney, Jerry. Little Red Riding Hood. Little, Brown and Company, c2007. [34] p. : col. ill. ISBN 0316013552 / 9780316013550 $16.99 Ages 3-8. P7Q6

Pinkney’s beautiful illustrations of flora and fauna place this new rendition of Little Red Riding Hood somewhere in eastern North America, but the text does not significantly add to other retellings of the story. Recommended for art criticism collections and for libraries collecting multiple versions of fairy tales.

 

Weeks, Sarah. Counting ovejas. Art by David Diaz. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2006. [32] p. : col. ill. ISBN 9780689867507 / 0689867506 $17.99 Ages 2-5. P8Q8

At bedtime, a small child is crowded by sheep in rainbow hues and must use several strategies to move them out of the way before falling asleep. The bilingual Spanish-English text incorporates counting from one to ten as well as naming colors. The enchanting illustrations and simple story work well together. The child in the story is not named as either a boy or girl, making the story accessible to children of either gender. Highly recommended for public and preschool libraries.

 

Middle grade fiction

Gifford, Peggy. Moxy Maxwell does not love Stuart Little. Photographs by Valorie Fisher. Schwartz & Wade Books, c2007. 91 p. : ill. ISBN 9780375839153 $12.99 Ages 8-12. P7Q6

Moxy Maxwell’s summer reading assignment—due when fourth grade starts at the end of August (tomorrow)—is to read Stuart Little. The book has been with her all summer, in her backpack, on her lap, to the swimming pool, but not read. So, on the last day (when she really, really has to read the book), she finally Stuart Little’s wonderful world in a car with fabulous fenders. The angst and procrastination over a school assignment ring true. This book might be useful to a reluctant reader (or a rebellious one) as fodder for a book report.

 

Orr, Wendy. Mokie & Bik. Illustrations by Jonathan Bean. Henry Holt and Company, c2007. 72 p. : ill. ISBN 9780805079791 / 0805079793 $15.95 Ages 8-12. P7Q7

The twins, Mokie and Bik, live aboard a boat called Bullfrog, with their nanny Ruby who takes care of them while their mother is Arting and their father is on his ship-at-sea. Nine chapters take the brother and sister through adventures with Laddy the dog and a tortoise, eating ice cream bars, falling overboard, learning to swim, moppping decks. These are pleasant stories of children messing around in boats—what could be better?—and the pen and ink illustrations are well matched to the text. The text, however, includes semi-poetical bits and deliberate misspellings (fisk for fish, scotch-hop for hopscotch) which I found distracting. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections needing more titles at this reading level.

 

Young adult fiction

Dickinson, Peter. Angel Isle. Wendy Lamb Books, 2007. Advance reading copy, release date Oct. 9, 2007. 512 p. ISBN 9780385746908 (trade) $17.99 / 9780385909280 (library binding) $20.99 Ages 14 up. P7Q7

This sequel to the Printz honor book, The Ropemaker, continues the story of the aforementioned Ropemaker, now missing. Two girls—sisters—and a young man find themselves caught in a magician’s battle, using artifacts from the past to turn aside the power of an enclave of anonymous magicians who now rule the country. Since the Ropemaker, who has not been seen for the past two hundred years, is the only one who can stop the magicians, the three, along with a young renegade magician, two occasionally winged horses, and a sheepdog set out on a quest to locate him. Wonders abound, the conflict between individuality and enforced conformity is once again fought, and eventually, the world—while not right—can again be rebuilt. While it is possible to understand Angel Isle, the backstory from The Ropemaker is wanted to flesh out the story. Recommended for high school and public libraries to accompany The Ropemaker.

 

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the wild things. Alfred A. Knopf, c2007. 293 p. ISBN 9780375835254 $15.99 Ages 12 up. P8Q7

Sammy Keyes, city girl to the max, agrees to go on a summer camping trip to count condors—according to Sammy, the ugliest birds on the planet—when she finds out that the boy she’s interested in will also be camping in the area. But when the girls find an injured condor, Sammy finds herself in the middle of a mystery (as well as hot, sweaty, blistered, and lost). A worthy addition to the Sammy Keyes mystery series. Highly recommended for junior high, high school and public libraries.

 

November 2007 Reviews

 

First Thursday Book Review November 2007 D.G.H. Media Specialist

Marcus, Eric. What if Someone I Know is Gay?. Simon Pulse. 2007. 978-14169-4970-1. $8.99. P9 Q9

This is an updated and revised edition since the original was published in 2000, but retains it read friendly, question and answer format with anecdotes that amplify the author’s answers to common questions the reader might have. I especially appreciated the author’s tone, neutrality, and sensitivity to the questions asked and answered. This is an important aspect to keep a diverse audience reading on this important, but personal topic. I will be purchasing this one for our secondary schools.

 

McGowen, Anthony. Hellbent. Simon Pulse. 2006. 978-1-4169-0814-2. $8.99 P9 Q8

McGowen’s first book for young adults is a riotous trip through Hell. Literally. The protagonist and his mean dog Scrote are killed by an ice cream truck and taken to a updated British version of Dante’s Hell. The author really lays it out in terms of describing a myriad type of suffering and pain, but always does so with an irreverent tongue in check that young adults would appreciate. McGowen is obviously well read given the allegories, illusions, and references to some pretty heavy philosophies, but he can also take a page and a half describing a fart in a high school classroom which made me laugh out loud with tears rolling! At other times, after describing a war being waged between two territories in Hell, he is able to sum up the senselessness and brutality described with a twist on a famous phrase by saying,, “Hell is war”. Profound but simple is the appeal that kept me reading, as well as a desire to find out if he ever gets out and has a second chance at life. An interesting theme that sent him to Hell in the first place (besides lying three more times than his quota) was that he was a murderer! The author keeps that thread intact, but it is not until near the end that the protagonist reflects on the murder charge and has to agree with it. The incident was when a gay classmate confesses his attraction, but is humiliatingly rejected by our lead character. The rejected teen goes home and hangs himself. This is a powerful scene that I did not see coming, but one that really sticks the reader with the need to be responsible for our actions towards others. I liked the book, even though it is not for everyone, I think it would make a well read addition to our secondary schools.

 

Iweala, Uzodinma, Beasts Of No Nation, Harper Collins Publishers, 2005, 978-0-06-079867-3, $16.95, P7, Q7

Set in an un-named ,war-torn African country, a young boy witnesses the execution of his family and destruction of his village by guerilla insurgents. He is then rounded up with other young boys and is recruited into the guerilla band. Told in first person, broken English, the reader is taken on a journey into the life and mind of a boy who is first desensitized and then dehumanized to the horrors of war. We learn how youngsters can be molded into anything the commander desires: from killing machines to recepients of his sexual desires. The book is a graphic look at coming to age during war and the bleak lessons that are learned from the experience. I would put this on a high school shelf, but would not actively seek to purchase for all libraries because the storyline did not resonate like that of Kite Runner, Escape From Warsaw, The Book Thief, and other novels of growing up in war.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Books for Young Readers 

November 2007 by S.E. grandparent/volunteer

 

FICTION/FOLKLORE/POETRY

Raven, Nicky, Il John Howe. Beowulf. Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Ma. 2007. $18.99. 69p. ISBN 978 0 7636 3647 0 Ages 11-18. This tale of a hero, Beowulf, has been told and retold for the one thousand years that it has been in existence. Had this version been available to me, I would have enjoyed this classis a lot more. The illustrator is the artist that did the pictures for Tolkein’s ring trilogy. It is wonderful in that it can be classified as poetry as well as folklore and has no rhythm or fancy concrete drawing to make the story. It is awesome in that it still stands after 1000 years, the oldest known English book. Q10 P10

 

Fiction

Petty, J.T. il David Michael Friend. The Scrivener Bees. Simon & Schuster books for young readers. NY. NY. 163p. $11.99. ISBN 1-4169-0769-6 Ages 10-15. This is the third in the Clemency Pogue series. It is a wonderful tale of adventure. Clemency has to save her father from the scrivener bees, the ones who, when they attack, tattoo the truth on a person’s body…they answer questions and the truth hurts. He has stolen the flowers the bees use in order to make up for his actions with his wife. During all of this, she also has to defeat the changeling who wants the Forgetting Book in order to control the goblins and hobgoblins. This is a very humorous book and well written and the illustrations will make this book popular with ages 10-15. Q9P9

 

Casely, Judith. The Kissing Diary. Frances Foster Books. Farrar, Straus and Gliroux. NY. 199p ISBN 0-374-36346-3. $16.00. Ages 12-15. Her divorced mother has a boyfriend and Rosie Goldglitt not only has problems dealing with her name but also with the emotions her mom is going through as well. Rosie is also going through that period of growing where she fantasizes kissing Robbie, a boy who proves to be the wrong boy for her. The journal that her dad gave her when he left, which she has called her kissing diary, has yet to be filled with names of the boys who have kissed her. It is a cute story about what is important in life. Q7P9.

 

Arnold, Ted. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Fly Guy. Scholastic Cartwheel Books 2007, NY. ISBN 0-439-63906-4. Ages 5-6. One in a series of “Fly Guy” books. A pet fly, FLY GUY, kept by a boy named Buzz, goes visiting Grandma. When she runs up to hug him, she swallows Fly Guy and thus begins the age old story about an old lady who swallowed a fly and swallows a whole lot of things to catch what she swallows. The illustrations will attract kindergarten and first grade students to read the book. Q7P9

 

Dillon, Leo & Diane, Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose. $17.00 Harcourt Children’s Books Calif. 2007. 56p. Ages 5-7. ISBN 0152056769. this is a nicely illustrated book of numbers using Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes. It uses rhyme to teach from 1-10. It is a good read aloud book for either the library or the classroom. Q7P8

 

Arrar’as, Maria Celeste, Il. Pablo Raimondi, The Magic Cane, Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. N.Y. 2007. ISBN 0-439-57419-6 $16.99. Ages 5-8. Puerto Rican, award winning journalist and bestselling author, Maria Celeste Arrara has been on the cover of Newsweek as one of the most powerful women on the rise and has been featured in the New York Times. It is a wonderful story of how love and respect conquers evil, however, the illustrations of the king were bothersome. I like the plot and I liked the moral and I liked the fact that Hispanic women are being highlighted for their artistic journalistic abilities. Q8P8

 

DePalma, Mary Newell, The Nutcracker Doll, Arthur A. Levine Books, a Scholastic Inc imprint. 2007 N.Y. ISBN 0-43980242-3. $16.99 Ages 5-6. This is a great read-aloud story about a young aspiring ballerina who see’s the Nutcracker and gets to talk with one of the older girls that was in it and she tells this young lady how, if she works hard and practices, she too can be in the Nutcracker and so she does. It is a good read aloud book and the illustrations are simple but nice. Q7P7

 

Non Fiction

Craig, Rebecca, Ecocrafts Gorgeous Gifts. Kingfisher, a Houghton Mifflin Co. imprint, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7534-5967-6. 47p Ages 8-17. $7.95. This book shows an artistic way to use recycled material found in every day trash. A few of the ideas I have used myself through my life. It is well illustrated and kids will find it fun to make things for their friends or folks. I think it would be especially popular around the holiday times. Q8P8

 

Gifford, Clive & Mason, Conrad & O’brien, Cynthia & Varley,Helen. Quiz Quest Kingfisher, a Houghton Mifflin Co. Ma. 2007. ISBN 9780753460788. $11.95. Ages 11-17. This is a wonderfully informative book that is more on a plane with an encyclopedia but more fun. In this quiz book are facts about Nature, i.e.: spiders, bees, deadly creatures, birds of prey etc., Geography, Science and Inventions including outer space, Gold, Caves, Climate, Tornadoes, the Senses, Cars Motorcycles and Art to name a few of the things covered. The questions are asked on the right of a page and the answers are found with the info on the next two pages. It is a fun book and it is filled with knowledge that all school age kids can use and written in such a way it can be used in middle school and high school. Q9P10

 

CHILDREN’S BOOK REVIEW GROUP Nov. 1, 2007 CLR Siletz volunteer

Kochalka, James, Squirrelly Gray. Random House Children’s Books, 2007, $12.99, 978-0-375-83975-7, unpg., Grades K-2

I thought I was going to like this book, particularly when I opened the first page. It is illustrated with black and white and shades of gray and shows a typical drenching Oregon rain over what looks like an Oregon forest. The prose about the rain is good too. But from there, it is all downhill. It proceeds to tell an inane story about a very crudely drawn squirrel who wiggles his front teeth out because he is bored. He hopes to bring the tooth fairy to relieve his boredom. Here is where the story gets downright scary for little kids. The tooth fairy is stuck in a spider web, and she begs the squirrel to get her out before the spider comes back. The picture is disturbing. Then a hungry fox approaches and attempts to club the squirrel with a giant club. The squirrel ends up escaping, but the fox is unrepentant and “just as naughty as before.” I think this story will be upsetting to most small children and has nothing to recommend it.

The blurb on the jacket states that the author is a full-time cartoonist and rock star. I hope he is better at music than he is at writing and illustrating children’s books. P2 Q2

 

Dillon, Leo & Diane, Jazz on a Saturday Night. The Blue Sky Press, 2007, 16.99, 0-590-47893-1, unpg., Grades K-7

This is a beautiful book. The authors/illustrators are great fans of jazz, and their enthusiasm comes through. There are wonderful paintings of the audience and the jazz band members, mostly done in deep jewel tones of a darkened, intimate concert. The prose also serves as lyrics on the accompanying CD, which explains and demonstrates jazz. The CD also encourages the reader to listen to more examples of jazz and even try an instrument. This would be a great book to read to and play for a visiting class to the library, and it works on lots of age levels. The only criticism is that the plastic case inside the book literally disintegrated when I took the CD out for the first time. Oh well, maybe they need to be packaged separately for checking out, anyway! P3 Q 9

 

Hale, Bruce, Hiss Me Deadly: A Chet Gecko Mystery. Harcourt Children’s Books, 2007, $15.00, 978-0-15-205482-3, 144 p., Grades 3-6

Given that the reader knows what a private eye is, and maybe has even seen some old Humphrey Bogart movies, he/she will love the plot and style of this book. It is sprinkled with colorful comparisons (a spot tighter than a blue whale’s bikini and one desk was as spotless as a Teflon necktie) and clever names for the animal characters. (Anna Motta-Pia and two music teachers: Zoom’in Mayta and Gustave Mauler) There are knock-knock jokes and lots of bug and insect jokes (the main character is a gecko, after all) for the younger readers, and they will find descriptions like “scorpions on a shortcake” and “candied apple worms,” very entertaining. The tough guy in the story, a raccoon by the name of Johnny Ringo, has henchmen and they all talk like mobsters, which will resonate with the older readers. The cover looks like a mystery novel from the 1940’s and is attractive. P8 Q9

 

Nagda, Ann Whitehead, The Perfect Cat-Sitter. Holiday House Books, 2007, $15.95, 978-0-8234-2112-1, 104 p., Grades 3-6

Susan is a self-important little girl who gets a job as a cat-sitter while her friend is gone over the Christmas holidays. Various things go wrong every time she goes over to do her job. She starts to feel miserable that she can’t do the job perfectly. But no one is seriously hurt, although a friend suffers a broken arm from falling out of a tree while trying to get a string of lights off a deer’s antlers. This is a mildly interesting book and the illustrations are adequate. P4 Q5

 

Madison, Bennett, Lulu Dark and the Summer of the Fox. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2006, $10.99, 1-59514-086-7, 201 p., Grades 9-12

At first I thought this book would be in the tradition of Angus, Thongs & Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. It seemed to be about a modern teen girl and her friend problems, mother problems, friend’s mother problems and so forth. But the deeper I got into the book, it hit me. This girl is the new Nancy Drew—-a Nancy who rides the subway, has a cell phone that tends to ring at the most dangerous and suspenseful times, jumps on a Vespa and chases after an SUV full of kidnap victims. Lulu Dark is an engaging teen whose movie star mom has been noticeably absent from her life. Lulu spends a lot of time reflecting on her relationship with her mother while thinking some pretty wise thoughts: “At a certain point, a grown-ass lady needs to get over it and remember that she has responsibilities—most of all to her child, but not least of all to herself.” Not a very Nancy-Drew-kind-of-thing to think, but Lulu Dark is a lot more interesting than Nancy Drew.

There are lots of colorful character descriptions and exciting action in this book, set in a fictional town with a beach, boardwalk, an old warehouse with a trapdoor, and an island with an abandoned mental hospital. Young readers are going to be totally engrossed in this lighthearted mystery. P8 Q9

 

Schumacher, Julie, The Book of One Hundred Truths. Delacorte Press, 2006, $15.95, 0-385-73290-2, 182 p., Grades 6-12

Thea Grumman visits her grandparent’s house on the Jersey shore just like she does every summer. But this year, her mother gives her a diary and instructs her to write four truths in it every day. It seems like an odd request, but very gradually, the reader comes, through the writings in the diary, to understand why Thea continually lies to people and has a tendency to be a crabby, uncooperative adolescent. Thea is expected to babysit her seven year old cousin during the afternoons, and the cousin has problems of her own. But the time they spend together ends up healing both of them. The main characters in the book are not really very likable until the end of the book, but the reader is drawn into the story and eventually it becomes apparent that a mystery is going to be revealed. It is written well and very age-appropriate. I would not hesitate to recommend it to a young teen. P7 Q 8

 

November Reviews by Oceanlake Teacher N.B.

Stein, Mathilde; Mine!. Lemniscaat; Honesdale, Pennsylvania; 2006. 36 pages, price $16.95, ISBN-10: 1-59078-506-1 Grade 1-3, Popularity 7, Quality 7 This book is about a ghost who invades a little girl’s life; whatever he sees, he always exclaims “MINE!” The little girl tries desperately to teach the ghost that not everything that is around him is automatically his, but that he needs to share. In the end she teaches him how to share and play with others, and he learns his lesson. This would be a great book to bring up social issues with kids on how to we solve problems, how could this have been done differently, and for those who have a hard time making friends a guide or ideas on how to make friends.

 

Henkes, Kevin; A Good Day. Greenwillows Books; USA, 2007. 23 pages, price $16.99, ISBN-10: 0-06-114018-X Grade K-1, Popularity 7, Quality 8 This is a book that covers how a bad day turns into a good day for some people around a forest community. It uses very descriptive language that will expose the students to rich language. As a prompt it is a good way to introduce a beginning, middle and end concept to the students; as it is short but yet demonstrates this concept very quickly.

 

Cate La Blanc, Annete; The Magic Rabbit. Candlewick Press; Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2007. 28 pages, price $15.99, ISBN-10: 978-0-7636-2672-3 Grade3-4, Popularity 8, Quality 8 For a book about a rabbit and a man who are very good friends. They rely on one another to make a living, get fed, be happy, and have someone to interact with. One day out while performing their magic act, the rabbit gets lost. This is the bunny’s

journey to find his master and by chance he comes across some stars that lead him to be reunited with his master. Could be used to talk about descriptive language.

 

Cooper, Helen; Delicious!. Farrar Straus Giroux; New York, New York. 2007. 31 pages, price $16.00, ISBN-10: 0-374-31756-9 Grade 1-3, Popularity 7, Quality 9 Duck, Squarriel, and Cat all live together and everyday they make pumpkin soup. Yet they are tired of the same old same old. As a group they choose to dust off their cook book and try different soups. Cat and Squirrel are very happy and like the new food, but Duck won’t even try it, because it doesn’t look like what he is used to. Finally they are able to solve the problem. Great way to get kids to think about trying new foods, going beyond just the same thing, being opened minded, etc.

 

Montenegro, Laura Nyman; A Poet’s Bird Garden. Farrar Straus Giroux; New York, New York. 2007 28 pages, price $16.00, ISBN-10: 0-374-360838-3 Grade 1-3, Popularity 6-7, Quality 7 Natalie opens the door to her bird cage, and accidentally releases her pet bird. She runs home tells her Mom, who calls all her friends to come help, they try everything to get the bird to come down. Nothing seems to work, finally one man hits on the idea to make the garden more attractive to the birds. When that happens, the bird will want to come down to the ground. As a community they work to make a very barren and not pretty garden into a place that attracts many birds and becomes a gathering place for the people of the area. Would be a great book to use for an introduction to conservation, community beautification, science with what attracts birds, etc.

 

First Thursday Book Reviews November 2007 J.C. Cataloger

 

Picturebooks 

Broach, Elise. When dinosaurs came with everything. Illustrated by David Small. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2007. 1 v. ; col. ill. ISBN 978-0-689-86922-8 / 0-689-86922-3 $16.99 Ages 3-7, adult. P8Q8

A little boy faced with the usual boring Friday errands is delighted when all the merchants in town give away a dinosaur with every purchase—including the doctor’s office and the bakery. His mother is not pleased with the promotion. Until, that is, she discovers the talents of the various dinosaurs and puts them to work. The fresh, slightly off-center story is aptly accompanied by Small’s spare illustrations and the dinosaurs are spot on. Highly recommended for any collection needing a fresh infusion of humor, especially for pre-school, elementary and public library collections.

 

Middle grade fiction 

Bauer, A.C.E. No castles here. Random House, c2007. 270 p. ISBN 978-0-375-83921-4 $15.99 Ages 12 up. P7Q8

Augie Boretsky, a poor kid from New Jersey, inadvertently steals a book of fairy tales from a funky bookstore in Philadelphia and is assigned a white, gay Big Brother. As he reads the fairy tales, his strategy of avoiding the bullies and gang members in his school and neighborhood fails. Yet, when an ice storm damages his school, Augie is the catalyst who pulls the neighborhood together and pushes the school board to repair the building instead of busing the students to schools outside the area. I enjoyed the framed fairy tales which carried lessons on courage and fidelity to Augie’s life. Highly recommended for large urban middle, high, and public school collections.

 

Young adult fiction

Fullerton, Alma. In the garage. Red Deer Press, 2007, c2006. 181 p. ISBN 0-88995-371-6 / 978-0-88995-371-0 $10.95 Ages ? P6Q7 BJ’s best friend, Alex, has died. Told between her approach to give his eulogy and her entrance to the church, BJ narrates events from her life as an overweight, ugly girl with a port wine birthmark, including child abuse, maternal abandonment, and ongoing abuse from her classmates. Rescued from a pair of bullies by Alex Fitzgerald, BJ and Alex become best friends. Though perceived as the perfect scholar-athlete (and member of a garage band), Alex too has secrets, and his poetry stands in counterpoint to BJ’s narrative. At the prompting of two popular girls, BJ betrays Alex by stealing his journal, which results in his outing as gay. BJ’s mental breakdown and hospitalization, and the scene of Alex’s murder by a homophobic ex-band member complete the downward spiral. Although the book is well written, the subject matter is rather depressing, with the unwritten message that anyone who is different—in appearance or in sexual orientation—will be destroyed and that “normal” teenagers are vicious. Not recommended for anyone who is not currently under the care of a good mental health counselor. Especially not recommended for gay teenagers.

 

Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. The shadow speaker. “Jump at the sun.” Hyperion, c2007. 336 p. ISBN 978-142310033-1 / 142310033-6 $16.99 Ages 12 up. P7Q8 A fantasy quest of a fourteen-year old West African girl whose father instituted a sex-based hierarchy (which lead to his public beheading). Ejii undertakes the dangerous journey to learn to use the powers of shadow speaking, which may be the only hope of saving her tribe from annihilation. A particularly well crafted work in an unusual setting. Recommended for junior high, high school, and public libraries.

 

November Book Reviews

 

B.J., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Clare, Cassandra. City of Bones. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $17.99 ISBN: 1-4169-1428-5 485 p. Gr. 8-adult Clary Fray goes to a club called Pandemonium. That club is aptly named for what happens next. Clary and Simon (her friend) were dancing when they notice a boy leading a girl into a closet/back room This isn’t unusual, but when two people follow them, it piques Clary’s interest. The weirdest thing, though, is that Simon cannot see any of them. When the boy they saw is killed in the closet/back room, he disappears. It turns out he was a demon, and the three others are shadow hunters. They are puzzled at how Clary can see them. She has the “sight,” but why? She isn’t related to any shadow hunters. Or is she? This book was easy to read and it is fantasy, but a believable fantasy like Harry Potter. I am waiting for the second in the series as impatiently as I waited for the 7th Harry Potter! P 7.5 Q 10

 

Black, Holly. Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. ISBN: 184738062X 336 p. Gr. 8-adult Kaye is a changling (a faery who has replaced a human child.) When she visits the unseelie Court (the court of the bad faeries) she declares herself to the king. Only when she can find a faery who can lie can she see the king again. When she tells her mother she is a changling, her mother freaks and Kaye returns to the realm of the fairy. When she gets to the realm she gets roped into court politics. The queen of the Seelie Court wants to overthrow the King of the Unseelie Court. If Kaye can solver her quest (which is impossible, or so it seems) she can tell the King the evil plans of the Seelie Court. This book would be a bit confusing to read if you didn’t know much about the faeries, but it is a believable fantasy. P6 Q 8

 

November Book Reviews C.N., NHS Student Reviewer Fiction Selections

Benz, Derek & J.S. Lewis. The Rise of the Black Wolf. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $12.99 ISBN: 0-439-83774-X 310 p. Gr. 5-8 The four kids of the Grey Griffin go to a castle for Christmas, which turns out to be a trap. They must escape and save their dad! I think the plot is a scream for more; a nice start. I see the tiniest details of the characters in my mind as I read the book’s pages. I thought that the characters were so great and funny. The book is very well organized. The book should be shared; I loved it and couldn’t stop reading it. The book is a blast of good and dark scenes and a reading rollercoaster of excitement. P7 Q10

 

Schooley, Bob & Mark McCorkle. Liar of Kudzu. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $15.99 ISBN: 1-4169-1488-9 183 p. Gr. 4-6 In the Super Weird town of Kudzu a U.F.O. crash lands and is discovered by a boy everyone calls Liar. It’s a sweet & sour, funny & just cool book. P 10 Q 10

 

Lucas, D.J. Bravo, Max! Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 1-4169-0393-3 159 p. Gr. 4-6 This book is a conversation between a fan and an author, pen pals who share their lives over time and distance. It’s a funny book that’s easy to relate to. P7 Q10

 

November Book Reviews K.C., NHS Student

 

Fiction Selections

Frederick, Heather Vogel. The Mother-Daughter Book Club. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $15.99 ISBN: 0-689-86412-4 245 p. Gr. 6-10 In this book there are four girls: Jess, Emma, Cassidy, and Megan. Their mothers come up with the idea of a mother-daughter book club, and, although the girls don’t want to, the mothers arrange meetings once a week. They read Little Women and the four girls find that they resemble the characters in the story (though they all wish they were like Jo.) In the year that follows the girls grow up with Little Women’s help and navigate the troubles of Moms, boys, and the fab four. All the girls are very believable: Jess is shy, Emma is self-conscious, Cassidy is a bit of a jock, and Megan wants to be popular. They have real problems and deal with them in real ways (over-reacting, under-reacting) and not everything is perfect in the end. P8.5 Q10

 

Allison, Jennifer. Gilda Joyce: the Ladies of the Lake. Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2006. $15.99. ISBN: 0-525-47693-8 339 p. Gr. 7-10 Gilda Joyce is a psychic investigator who loves all things different. Gilda goes to the Catholic girls’ school “Our Lady of Sorrows” to find out more about a student who drowned there. She struggles to cope with high school, her mom dating, and the angry ghost who seems to be haunting the school. Gilda is an awesome character and this book is a great mystery. I love books where clues keep adding up and then you finally realize what happened. This book is believable and easy to read. P8.5 Q10

 

November Book Reviews M.J., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Carman, Patrick. The Tenth City (Land of Elyon Books). Scholastic, New York, 2006. $11.99 ISBN: 0-439-70095-7 186 p. Gr. 8-12 This is the third installment of Patrick Carmans’s trilogy “Land of Elyon.” The story follows Alexa Daley, an independent and strong-willed 13 year old who has had the fate of her world resting on her shoulders. It has that cliché genre of someone with a magical item fighting off an unknown evil. However, this book brings a new twist and refreshing ideas to this overused topic. Alexa isn’t magical, just the stone called a Jostica is. It allows Alexa to talk to animals and hear the voice of the creator of the land, Elyon. This book would be great on its own, but it makes more sense and the reader can make closer connections to the story and characters if the other two books were read first. I have only read book 1 and found myself asking a lot of questions about this book. This book is written in a very descriptive and lighthearted way. I really enjoyed the author’s style because he writes with a sophisticated and advanced vocabulary, but it was easy to follow and understandable. P9 Q10

 

Garcia, Laura Gallego. The Valley of the Wolves. Arthur A. Levine, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0439585538 336 p. Gr. 9-adult She was the only one who could see him. At first she thought she was crazy and that he was a figment of her imagination, but when a stranger with a long silver beard finds her, Dana knows that he could also see or at least feel Kai’s presence. At the age of 10 Dana was taken from her home to live in a tower and learn something not many had the opportunity to learn. She would become a sorceress. Along with a suave, silent elf and a spunky, embittered dwarf, Dana finds that the tower she is in holds more secrets than she ever thought possible. Along with the secrets, Dana’s relationship with Kai becomes more than friendship, and what he is is slowly revealed. The Valley of the Wolves holds many secrets and hundreds of them have yellow eyes, sharp teeth, and slashing claws and a purpose for vengeance. Dana must learn to overcome her fear of the unknown and embrace change. If not, everything she knows and holds close will disappear forever. The writing style is very likeable and understandable. Garcia writes in a way that appears to be 3rd person, but with the main character (Dana) as the narrator. This doesn’t distract, but adds an invisible, magical quality to the writing. P9 Q10

 

Felin, M. Sindy. Touching Snow. Antheneum, New York, 2007. $16.99. ISBN: 1416917950 240 p. Gr. 9-adult Touching Snow follows Karina (age 13) and her family and their struggle to fit into the American society after moving from Haiti. Karina’s father (who she always refers to as “the daddy”) abuses her and her 12 brothers and sisters. Being too poor to debate where the money comes from, Karina’s mother does nothing about it. Being too scared to report this abuse, Karina and her sisters and brothers never say anything about it to the police. Karina is very determined to get the life she deserves in America and perseveres to the very end to accomplish her dream. Touching Snow provides an inside look to the human soul and how it learns to cope with disaster. Even in the darkest of times, a human soul can hope, sprout wings, and take flight. The writing flowed really well and there wasn’t a time when I didn’t understand what was happening. There were also many times when the characters’ native language was used, but it only added to the realism of the book. This book may offend some people who do not feel comfortable reading about abuse, drugs, alcohol, fowl language, homosexuality, and other sexual content. P8 Q9

 

November Book Reviews T.P., NHS Student

 

Fiction Selections

Robinson, Sharon. Slam Dunk. Scholastic Press, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 0-439-67199-X 151 p. Gr. 6-8 I thought that it was good organization because they had

a good beginning, middle, and end. The story centers around a kid named Jumper and wha the does in basketball games. There were two main characters: Jumper and his friend, Kevin. The plot and contents were pretty good, too. However, I gave this book a low rating because it caught my attention only towards the end. P7 Q6

 

Wallace, Rich. Takedown. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2006. $14.99 ISBN: 0-670-06096-8 118 p. Gr. 6-8 The plot and contents of this book were pretty good but the organization was not that well thought out, I think. The point of view was effective in telling the reader about wrestling. The characters were good, especially Donald. I don’t think this book will be popular with kids who aren’t into wrestling, though. P5 Q6

 

Barber, Tiki and Ronde Barber. Teammates. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006. $14.95 ISBN978-1-4069-2489-0 pp. Gr. 1-3 Tiki was the running back for his team and he fumbles the ball a lot. His coach teaches him how to hold on to the football and the fumbling stops. Then Tiki and his team start to win football games. P5 Q6

 

November Book Reviews L.F., NHS

 

Fiction Selections

Brown, Margaret Wise. Goodnight Moon/ Buenas Noches, Luna: A Counting Book/Un libro para contar. Illustrated by Clement Hurd. HarperCollins, New York, 2007. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-06-117325-7 np. Gr.PreK-adult This edition of the timeless classic is a side-by-side English/Spanish treatment of the counting book version of Goodnight Moon. Fortunately, no one tampered with the original text or illustrations of this exquisite little book. Great read aloud for classrooms, a fun one to explore in Spanish language classes. P6 Q10

 

Edens, Cooper, Compiler. Sea Stories: A Classic Illustrated Edition. Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2007. $19.95 ISBN: 978-0-8118-5634-8 145 p. Gr. 4-8 This is a lively collection of stories, songs, and poems about the sea. Edens has included excerpts and classic illustrations from his own “largest collection of vintage picture books in the world,” from “Jason and the Argonauts” to “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Truly, there’s something here for everyone. My only complaint is that there’s no author/origin listed for several of the selections, though it appears that these have been taken from previously published works. P5 Q9

 

Dunrea, Olivier. Hanne’s Quest. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2006. $16.99 ISBN: 0-399-24216-3 95 p. Gr. 3-8 This is one little hen’s “Odyssey,” a charming story of poultry angst and ecstasy, sparingly illustrated with the author’s simplistic, but rich gouaches. It’s a fairly basic plot: “hen lays golden egg that saves farm from tax foreclosure” but is written in dramatic and lyrical style that is thoroughly engaging. Though it could hardly be called a picture book, the story is simple enough to make this a good read-aloud for younger children. The tale has several unpredictable twists that keep it interesting for older children, as well. P6 Q10

 

Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish.. $16.99 ISBN: 1-4169-4235-1 294 p. Gr. 9-12 This funky little book is about a teen who is struggling with gender dysphoria. By the end of the book, Angie is accepted as transgendered Grady, solves two long-standing family issues, and is accepted by the most popular kids at school. Despite the Pollyanna ending, the book is entertaining, if not deep. It manages to touch on several issues that are rarely dealt with in young adult literature. One of the things I really loved about this book is that the protagonist discovers that sexuality is truly a spectrum thing, i.e., that people are all shades of genders. The dialog passages are distracting and the first person writing is tiresome, but it’s a worthy addition to any high school library. Includes website, support group, etc. information in the back of the book that teens might find helpful. P5 Q7

 

St. James, James. Freak Show. Penguin Young Readers, New York, 2007. $18.99 ISBN:978-0-525-47799-0 298 p. Gr. 10-12 This is one of those books that is just plain weird, but it’s so funny and well-written that it’s hardly a turn off (that is, if you can accept the protagonist being a “glitteroid.”) High school drag queen Billy Bloom moves from a liberal Connecticut school to a bible-belting, homo-beating Florida academy. His sarcastic first-person narrative is fast-paced, yet rich with details. Billy stubbornly remains optimistic and true to himself, and even though he faces bullying and beating at school, he manages to win many friends. Along the way, he runs for Homecoming Queen, falls in love with a star football player, and becomes the poster boy-er-queen for all kids who feel like freaks sometime. Yes, there’s a lot of bawdy humor, obscenities, and sexual innuendo in this book, but it’s a tome that should be in all young adult libraries. P6 Q8

 

Non-Fiction Selections

Enright, Dominique and Guy MacDonald. The Boys’ Book; How to be the best at Everything. Illustrated by Nikalas Catlow (ISBN: 0-545-01628-2) AND Foster, Juliana. The Girls’ Book: How to be the best at Everything. Scholastic, New York, 2007. $9.99 each (ISBN: 0-545-01629-0) 118 p. Gr. 3-6 Designed to look like the circa 1880’s American Boys’ Handy Book , these little books are the sort that well-intentioned, childless adults buy for i-pod toting adolescents, thinking somehow the activities will help “get the kids off the electronics.” Both books are a waste of money and shelf space, filled with superficial and mostly stupid activities that alternate between benign and inane. Two examples: the Boys’ Book has “how to tear a phone book in half” and the Girls’ Book has “how to pet a wild horse.” More appalling are the differences between the two books: predictably, the boys get to do active, “important” things, while the girls make bubblebaths, pompoms, and learn how to do other mundane tasks. P5 Q4

 

Reber, Deborah. In Their Shoes: Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing Careers. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007. $12.99 ISBN: 1-4169-2578 411 p. Gr. 8-12 This nicely-organized and meticulously presented book has only one fault: the

title might turn off any young men who would find it very helpful in choosing careers. Beyond that, it’s a fabulous guide to nearly 50 interesting careers, ranging from Sheriff to Actionist (huh?) Reber interviewed women, found out why they were attracted to their careers, what sort of education/certification they needed, and what sort of advice they would give to others who were interested in knowing more. Interviews are grouped into several sections, and between each section is a “lunch break” discussion that deals with topics ranging from goal setting to stress relief. In the back of the book is a helpful “career chooser” that give readers choices to help them narrow down what they want from their careers. The writing style is lively and engaging; even kids who might not be all that motivated to do career research will find this handy guide fun to read and inspiring. P6 Q9

 

Books Reviews for Nov. 2007

 

A.G.

Carman, Patrick. CD recording, read by Jonathan Davis. Atherton: The House of Power. NY: Hachette Book Gp, Hachette Audio, 2007. $29.98 7 discs, 8 hours playing time. Ages 8 up. ISBN 1-59483-922-2 P7/Q6

This science fiction story posits an artificially-made satellite of a corrupted Earth that has been populated by memory-blanked people living in a stratified society. The protagonist is a young boy who feels compelled to climb a forbidden cliff in search of something he doesn’t remember but knows is important. The crisis comes with the geological changes the artificial planet is suddenly undergoing and the social changes it brings. The characters are nicely drawn and the story includes exciting adventures, but the end is rather unsatisfying and I was left wondering if the author intended it to be the first of perhaps a trilogy. The author is an Oregon native.

 

Bruchac, Joseph. Illus. by Sally Wern Comport. Bearwalker. NY: Harper Collins, 2007. $16.89 208 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 978-0-06-112311-5 P7/Q7

Bruchac here returns to his “scary story” series. Like the others in the series, this is a modern-day story that draws on some Indian themes as well as modern scary stories. Bearwalker features an eighth grade boy of Mohawk descent, the son of two military people. He’s new to the school and, as the shortest kid, he’s bullied. When the class goes to Camp Chuckamuck (the hero points out it’s a made-up Indian-sounding name), they are in for more than they counted on, and scary movies featuring “Jason” come to mind. The book is not only a scary story, but also focuses on the character development of Baron, his identification with his Indian heritage and the theme of the bear. . Bruchac treats the Indian themes with sensitivity to modern Indian kids and how they feel when made the “token Indian”. It’s short enough to read aloud to a class, and has the added interest of being about a school group. Though it’s not in the category of great literature, it certainly brings forward the development of traditional Indian stories, and is entertaining reading that is head and shoulders above the Goosebumps fare.

 

Strasser, Todd. Boot Camp. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. $15.99 235 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-0848-X P6/Q6

When his parents unexpectedly send 15-year-old Garrett to boot camp, none of them expected the severe treatment he’d get. This book explores the brutality and meanness of a certain kind of adolescent residential “treatment” center, which although extreme may be all too accurate. Despite the harsh treatment, Garrett maintains his humanity as long as he can. By the end, though, it appears that the brainwashing has taken hold. The book seems more aimed at adults who might be able to stop this trend, or at least who could re-examine their rationale for sending kids there. Any kid who reads it will definitely run away from home (and should) before going to a boot camp. The book should prompt discussion about the corrections system.

 

Holtz, Thomas. Illus. by Luis Rey. Dinosaurs. NY: Random House, 2007. $34.99 432 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-375-92419-4 (lib. Bdg.) P9/Q9

There are many, many books on dinosaurs for that predictable age of 3-6 years old. There are few for the better reader who finds paleontology interesting and wants to know more than a lot of Latin names. This book focuses on the “true” dinosaurs: the most recent common ancestor of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus and their descendants (which means that it covers birds, though only the older more primitive species and how they relate to modern birds). That rules out pterodactyls and plesiosaurs, but the book won’t disappoint fans of those animals as several early chapters cover aspects relevant to them, too; fossilization, geologic time, taxonomy, even accuracy of dinosaur art. The middle chapters are organized by genus and speak to their commonalities, their world distribution, and their adaptations.

One of the strongest aspects of this book is that it is written by a paleontologist, and includes many one-page essays by a variety of other paleontologists (accompanied by their photograph and where they work) who speak from their own research. The writing style is much more readable than the encyclopedic scope might indicate, and is sprinkled with exclamation points (first time I’ve ever seen an exclamation mark in a scientific table!) The book will resist becoming dated because it takes the approach of “how we know what we know and what we don’t know”. Students interested in the field of paleontology will become familiar with investigation techniques and the excitement of discovery, as well as the fine points of taxonomy, without feeling like they are reading a textbook. The artwork is wonderful, illustrating both comparative anatomy and imaginative scenes from dinosaur life.

 

Fleming, Candace. The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. NY: Scwartz & Wade, 2007. $15.99 186 pp. ages 7 to 10 ISBN 978-0-375-83672-5 P7/Q7

There’s a class of students that has a terrible reputation for being hard to handle, and they’ve just moved up to fourth grade. No one wants to teach them until an odd new teacher turns up: Mr. Jupiter. With his oddball interests, exhaustive background of experiences, sense of humor and easy relating to the students, he soon has them working hard learning everything from schoolwork to life lessons. The chapters are fairly short and each one frames a certain child with their particular challenges, from the

boy who is always teased to the girl who talks so quietly no one can hear her. Each chapter ends in a “moral of the story” a’ la Aesop’s fables. It could make a fun read-aloud book for a third to fifth grade class.

 

Borden, Louis. Illus. by Adam Gustavson. The John Hancock Club. NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007. $16.99 36 pp. ages 7-10 ISBN 1-4169-1813-4 P5/Q5

This is a kind of sweet book about a boy with doubts about his ability to do well in school. Starting the third grade, he’s worried he won’t be able to keep up with his class in learning to write in cursive. The story sets up a goal he wants (to be able to take care of the class pet) and his teacher’s incentive game which hinges around John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Indepencence. There’s a few facts about Hancock, but mostly the story is about Sean’s progress. The book might make a fun read-aloud to introduce a class to cursive.

 

Hautman, Pete. Rash. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 240 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-689-86801-4 P7/Q7

This science fiction recalls Orwell’s 1984 in its foretelling of a big-brother-type state in the future. Rather than building on the fascist trends of the 1940’s, though, this story builds on the over-protective trends of the 2000’s. Football and beer are banned and Measure 11 crimes include verbal put-downs of other people. You have to wear a helmet to go walking, and running track is so weighty with protective gear and super-soft track surface that no one can run the times of the past. The hero is a reasonable boy who has inherited a bit of a temper from his father. The rash the title alludes to is an artifact of the sheep-like fear of his school full of hypochondriacs. All in his family but his mother and grandfather are serving prison time, and it’s not long before he, too, is sent up to do hard labor for a private corrections contract company, McDonald’s. In prison he gets to do things “the old-fashioned way”, without calming drugs or protective gear, and becomes a football star. This story is all too eerily true even today, and should make people think about the potential disadvantages of suppressing the male drive and risk-taking.

 

Olsen, Sylvia. Illus. by Joan Larson. Yetsa’s Sweater. Winlaw, BC, Canada: Sono Nis Press, 2006. $17.95 34 pp. ages 6-10 ISBN 1-55039-155-0 P6/Q7

Cowichan Indian sweaters were a mainstay of my family living in the Pacific Northwest; they are warm, durable and work well in the rainy weather. As this book points out, they aren’t as often seen as they used to be, but to my thinking they are still better than any polar fleece jacket. The hand-knitted sweaters made from the various natural colors of gray, brown, black and white wools are made by the Native people of Vancouver Island. This book, with its beautiful illustrations, portrays a young Native girl helping her grandmother prepare the wool to make the sweaters. It’s valuable as a preserver of Native heritage, as well as a pleasant story about a girl.

 

Alexei, Sherman. Illus. by Ellen Forney. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $16.99 230 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-316-01368-4 P9/Q9

Of all the many boy-coming-of-age novels I’ve read in the past few years, this has to be my favorite. Alexei has written great books for adults; this is his first offering for the younger reader. The story is about a freshman Spokane Indian boy who is an odd-ball. Hydrocephalic at birth and still small in stature, he is very intelligent but never the popular kid and is constantly beat up by the other boys on the reservation. After getting advice from a teacher he accidentally hits with a school book (he’s furious because it is so old his mother’s name is on the inside cover), the hero, Baron, decides to go to an all-white off-reservation school where he is perhaps more likely to succeed and eventually leave the poor reservation life. Any rural student will recognize the themes of poverty, bullying, small schools, and the hopes that sports hold. The illustrations, intended to look like Baron’s cartooning genius, are wonderful. They capture perfectly the kind of drawings produced by a talented kid of that age. Better, they make very funny satirical statements about modern Indian life. The story’s language is perhaps a bit too street-smart to be read aloud to many classes, but is not as extreme as many urban rap lyrics. Certainly the themes are tame enough for nearly any student age 8 and up. Indian students, especially boys who are reluctant readers, will have great fun with this one.

 

December 2007 Reviews

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers December 2007 Reviews by S.E.

 

Fiction

Wolf, Allan. Zane’s Trace. Candlewick Press, Ma. 2002. ISBN 0763628581. $16.99. 177p. Ages 15-18. This is a somewhat factual account of a disturbed young man who has a disease called Geschwind Syndrome that includes seizures and hypergraphia, an overwhelming urge to write and write a lot. It is also called the “midnight disease” His purpose and goal is to reach Zanesville in his dead father’s Plymouth Barracuda to kill himself on his mother’s gravesite. He writes on his walls in indelible ink describing his imprisionment, ie: his mind. His encounter with a young hitchhiker seems to help himself discover new things about himself but she is as troubled as he is. He has stolen his brother’s credit card and uses it which enables his brother to find Zane in time to save him. Q6P6

 

Fiction/Poetry

Hopkins, Ellen. Glass. Margaret K McElderry Books Ny, an imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing Division. 2007. ISBN 141694090. $16.00. 680p. Ages 15-18. This is a very long and drawn out story of a young lady who gets hooked on smoking crank. It is way too long with absolutely no redemption at the end. I wasn’t impressed. Q5P4

 

Fiction/folk stories

Hamilton, Virginia. Il. Leo and Diane Dillon. The People Could Fly. Alfred A Knoph, an imprint of Random House Inc. NY. 2007 ISBN 978037592405-7. $17.99. Ages 6-10. This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a story of a group of slaves who call upon African Magic to transport them away from their suffering as slaves and allows them to fly away. A Coretta Scott King award. Text copywrite 1985. Q9P8

 

Fiction

Stein, David Ezra, Monster Hug. GP Putnam’s sons, a division of The Penguin Group. NY 2007. ISBN 9780399246371. $15.99. ages 5-6. Two monsters from different backgrounds come together for a day of fun until their parents call them home for the evening. The drawings are primitive and it has very few words but my youngest grandson calls it one of his favorite books so who am I to say it wont be popular? Q7P9

 

Roberts Bethany, Il. Vladimir Vagin, Cookie Angel. Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007. ISBN 0805069747. $16.99. Ages 5-8. It is Christmas eve and the Carroll family make their special cookie angel who comes to life after the family has gone to bed. All the toys under the tree come to life and all misbehave and it is up to the cookie angel to calm them all down. It is a nice Christmas Eve read aloud book. Q8P8

 

McDonnell, Patrick, Hug Time. Little Brown and Co. NY 2007. $14.99. ISBN 0316114944. this is a very sweet story about a kitten who wants to hug everybody and makes a “hugs to do list” and travels the world hugging everything on his list. It is a sweet story and will be popular among children ages 5-7. The illustrator is the creator of the comic strip “Mutts” Q8P8

 

Maass, Robert, Little Trucks With Big Jobs. Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007. ISBN 100805077480. $16.95. Ages 5-7. This is a short story about trucks that kids will want to check out primarily because they love big rigs that do big jobs inicluding ambulances and forklifts and mail trucks. Q6P6.

 

Johnston, Tony. Il. Melissa Sweet Off To Kindergarten. Cartwheel books, Scholastic Inc. NY 2007. ISBN 0439730902. $7.99. Ages 5-7. a sweet book about a boy’s first day of kindergarten and what all he wants to take with him. It is a good read aloud book. Q8P8

 

Aruego, Jose &Ariane Dewey, The Last Laugh. Dial Books for Young Readers Group. NY. 2007. ISBN 0803730934. Age K. $12.99. This is an exceptionally good book dealing with bullies. A not so nice snake gets the tables turned on him by a duck with lots of friends. Kindergarten age children will love this book. Q9P9

 

Purmell, Ann. Il Jill Weber, Christmas Tree Farm. Holiday House NY 2006. ISBN 0823418863 $16.95. Ages 5-10. This is an informative book about a young boy who helps his grandpa throughout all phases of tree farming. The illustrations are great and shows how much hard work goes into this type of farming all year long. A good holiday book. Q7P7.

 

Wilson, Karma, Il. Christa Unzner, Princess Me Margaret K McElderry books and imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing division. NY. ISBN 9781416940982 . 2007. $16.99. Ages 5-7 A cute easy to read and nicely illustrated book about a young girl who dresses up as a princess and plays with all the toys in her realm. A great read aloud book. Q8P8

 

Non fiction

Michelson, Richard, Il Mary Azarian, Tuttles Red Barn. The Story of America’s Oldest Family Farm. G Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Reader’s Group, NY. 2007. ISBN 9780399243547. $16.99. Ages 6-10. This is a story of a generational farm that goes back to 1632 and follows the family farm throughout time to the present. It is the winner of the Caldecott Medal. Q8P8

Morrison, Taylor, Tsunami Warning. Houghton Mifflin Co. NY 2007 ISBN 061873435. $17.00. Ages 7-11. This is a nicely illustrated anthology of significant tsunamis throughout history including the most recent 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It teaches what is being done about understanding tsunamis and the newest technology to detect a coming tsunami. Q8P9

 

Koscielniak, Bruce, Looking at Glass Through the Ages. Houghton Mifflin co. NY 2007. ISBN 0618507507.$16.00 Ages 7-11. This is an in depth look at how glass was made throughout the ages starting in Egypt. It is a very informative book and I recommend it to students who are interested in glass fusion and glass window art. Q8P8

 

Non fiction/Math/animals

Whitehead, Ann Nagda, Cheetah Math. Henry Holt &Co. NY 2007. Ages 6-11. ISBN 9780805076455. $16.95. In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, this informative book teaches how division, multiplication, addition and subtraction are used in determining how to care for cheetahs. The photography is good and I like how it shows how math can be applied in everyday use. Q8P7

 

First Thursdays Book Review Group December 2007 L.R. for Siletz Library

 

Picture Books

Cecka, Melanie. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Cynthia Coopersmith’s Violet Goes to the Country. Viking, 2007. unpgd. Ages 3-7. ISBN 9780670061815 $16.99 P6Q8

This book was written by a real author, posing as a fictional author, who is a character in an adult-series book by another author. I guess the hook is that Grandma will recognize the prominently displayed name “Jan Karon,” who wrote the adult books, and Grandma will buy it. But it probably would have done well enough on its own, particularly with Emily Arnold McCully as the illustrator. The pictures are lovely and realistic and the story, though formulaic, is sweet. The cover is sturdy and inviting to animal lovers. Note to Jane: this is going to be a cataloguing nightmare!

 

Freeman, Don, Quiet! There’s a Canary in the Library. Viking, 2007. (first pub. 1969) unpgd. Ages 3-6. ISBN 9780670062300 $15.99 P5Q9

This high quality book is a re-release of a Don Freeman book from 1969, and although I had never read it before, it did not disappoint. The illustrations are his trademark simple black and white lines creating the background, with the characters in simple colors. The story, about a daydreamer in a library, is humorous and would be great for a story time. The hardcover book is high quality and the cover is eyecatching.

 

Juvenile Books

Adler, David, Cam Jansen and the Mystery Writer Mystery. Viking, 2007. 57 p. Ages 8-11. ISBN 9780670061990 $13.99 P4Q3

 

Sobol, Donald J., Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case. Dutton Children’s Books, 2007. 90 p. Ages 8-11. ISBN 9780525479246 $15.99 P7Q8

Both of the above books are about young “detectives” who have special powers. In the case of Cam Jansen, it is a photographic memory, and in the case of Encyclopedia, excellent powers of deduction. Both have adults who consult them to help solve cases. However, Adler’s plot, which takes place at a school book fair, is just lame. I can’t imagine it holding the interest of many young mystery lovers. Sobol’s book is a series of short cases, with the answer to the mystery at the back. This is a great device for the reluctant reader and won’t hinder the child who plows through the whole book in one sitting. The stories are imaginative and the answers aren’t always obvious. The covers of both books are pretty enticing and the quality is good, but at approximately the same price, the Sobol book is a better choice for young readers.

 

Young Adult

Lenhard, Elizabeth, Chicks with Sticks (Knitwise). Dutton Books, 2007. 260 p. Ages 13-17. ISBN9780525478386 $16.99 P4Q5

I know that knitting has gained a new popularity with young girls, but I don’t know how many non-knitters will pick up this book. The cover, with an illustration of three teens, in varied dress, knitting, just seems a little odd. But beyond the off-putting cover is a light, and interesting story of four girls in their last year of high school. They are dreaming about the future, but determined to enjoy their last year and all do quite a bit of growing up in that year. Growing up in Chicago, the girls mouth the lastest slang and seem to have quite a bit of fun running around the city, but seem quite innocent and sweet throughout. Nothing gritty or drastic happens here, so it will appeal to certain readers. There are even knitting patterns at the end, for those who already have the knitting bug. Beginners will need to check out an easier how-to book!

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers December 2007 Reviews by M.D.

Holm, Jennifer L. Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf – A Year Told Through Stuff. Pictures by Elicia Castaldi. Antheneum Books for Yound Readers. New York. 2007.$12.99. 0-689-85281-9. 70+ pgs. Grade 5-7 P7/Q8

This is a young girl’s scrapbook depicting her middle school year in chronological order. Bright engaging graphics but may be hard for some readers to know what is important to read and what is next in the story. It is a quick read and you wouldn’t have to read it in order to get a feel for her middle school life. Those with short attention spans may enjoy or get distracted by the format.

 

Kelly,Katy. Lucy Rose Working Myself to Pieces and Bits. Illustrated by Peter Ferguson. Delacorte Press. New York. 2007. $12.99. 978-0-385-73408-0. 196 pgs. Grade 5-7. P6/Q7

There are three other Lucy Rose books. Lucy Rose: Here’s the Thing about Me, Lucy Rose: Big on Plans, Lucy Rose: Busy like Youcan’t Believe. I picked up the book because of the title working myself to pieces and bits – I thought what is a young girl is doing to work herself to death. But I’m into page 58 and can’t get into the book it is not a very engaging story. The format is like a journal and the pint is large and not at all intimidating for a young reader. The girls whose journal it is, is in fourth grade and therefore some of the sentence structure is how a fourth grader might talk and therefore confusing.

 

Straight, Susan. The Friskative Dog. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2007. $14.99. 978-0375-83777-7. 149 pgs. Grade 4-6. P9/Q9

It was a great story and I couldn’t put it down. This would be fun to read out loud to an elementary class. It’s about a girl, her stuffed dog, her father who is a truck driver and hasn’t been home for a year. The girl has to write a career paper and decides to become a guide dog trainer. It has a happy hopeful ending as the young girl learns what family & love really are. I loved this book.

 

Burnham, Niki. Goddess Games. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $15.99. 1-4169-2700-X. 282 pgs. Grade 6-12 P9/Q9

This was a great book, easy to read and follow. It’s about three girls who work at a retreat for rich people. It is set in Colorado during the summer. They have different lives, boyfriends, values and challenges. One girls father was killed in Iraq a year ago, another’s mother was ditched by her rich producer boyfriend, and a third has decided

she needs to change her partying ways before she screws her life up for real. They have to room together in the employee cabins and start off on a bad foot but by the end of summer they are making since of their lives and becoming life long friends. Young girls will love this story.

 

Bowers, Laura. Beauty Shop for Rent …fully equipped, inquire within. Harcourt Children’s Books. 2007. $17.00 978-0-15-205764-0. 336 pgs. Grade 6 and up. P9/Q9

I couldn’t put this book down. I really enjoyed it and I know it would captivate other young readers. It’s about a girl who was dropped off at her great grandma’s house/beauty parlor when she was eleven by her mother. He dad didn’t want her and she won’t talk to him now. She is determined to be a millionaire by age 35 and works all the time. No time for being a teenager so she turns down any and all dates. The gray haired widows and the new beauty shop owner become her mother figure. She has to face her past and future when her mother takes all of her savings for a down payment on a beach house. It ends well and she learns to trust and forgive the right people.

 

Coleman, Penny. Adventurous Women: eight true stories about women who made a difference. Henry Hold and Company. New York. 2006. $18.95. 0-8050-7744-8. 186 pgs. Grade 8 – up P6/Q8

I could only make myself read the first three chapters. I wasn’t very interested in explorers or plant hunters. First chapter was about Louise Boyd: Arctic Explorer 1887-1972. It would make a good resource for a book report. Some of the other women from the book are: Mary Gibson Henry: Plant Hunter, Juana Briones: Enterprising Family Head, Alice Hamilton: Supersleuth, Mary McLeod Bethune: Passionate Educator, Katharine Wormeley: Daring Superintendent, Biddy Mason: Fierce Fighter and Peggy Hull: Resolute Reporter. Looking at the rest of the chapter headings I maybe would read about the enterprising family head. Not sure any student would pick this up to read it – only as an assignment. It does have some great resources in the back of the book: brief chronologies of each woman, places to visit, name sakes, sources, and bibliographies.

 

Roop, Connie and Peter. Tales of Famous Americans. Illustrations by Charlie Powell. Scholastic Reference. 2007. $17.99. 978-0-439-64116-6. 108 pgs. Grade 6-9 P6/Q8

Book has beautiful illustrations and simple quick easy text to read. It has an index and information about the photos at the back of the book. Each story is about 3-4 pages and has important facts, dates and actual photos as well as interesting drawings. It would be a good resource for book reports or history curriculum but most students would not pick it up to read as a story book. It has from Pocahontas to Mia Hamm and Yo-Yo Ma.

 

Taback, Simms. I Miss You Every Day. Viking. 2007. New York. $16.99. 978-0-670-06192-1. 32 pgs. Pre-k – 2 Grade P8/Q9

Simms Taback has won the Caldecott medal for several of his children’s books he both writes and illustrates the stories. The pictures are engaging and colorful. There is a

pocket on the first page that is a depiction of an envelope with a note to someone who is missed. The pocket could easily be torn or ripped off the page if not reinforced. There are very few simple words on each page which makes it a great story time book. It’s about a girl who sends herself in the mail to someone she misses every day. The words rhyme and make a fun read aloud book.

 

Boelts, Maribeth. Before You Were Mine. Pictures by David Walker. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York 2007.$15.99 978-0-399-24526-8. 25 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P6/Q6

It is a story book about a dog who was adopted from the shelter. The boy asks before you were mine were you lonely, hungry ect. At the back of the book the author writes a paragraph about adopting dogs from shelters and how it creates a ripple of hope. It has cute words and drawing and would be good for a young child who pet has passed away and will adopt a new dog from the shelter. Kind of a sad story because it talks about all of the bad things that could have happened to the dog before he belonged to the boy.

 

Se’ve, Randall de. Loren Long. Toy Boat. Philomel Books. New York.2007. $16.99. 978-0-399-24374-5. 31 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P8/Q8

Beautiful pictures and few simple words tell a story of a boy who made a toy boat. He sailed it on the lake with a string attached so it would stay with him. One day his mother jerked his hand – and the string slipped. The boat was lost out on the lake and ran into lots of other kinds of boats. Finally a fishing boat helped him catch a wind and he returned to the little boy. They were together again at last.

 

Aston, Dianna Hutts. An Orange in January. Illustrated by Julie Maren. Dial Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $16.99. 978-0-8037-3146-2. 30 pgs. Pre k- 1 Grade P8/Q8

It is a very simple story with a few words. It is about how an orange grew and ended up being eaten in the cold of January. A Latino family works on the farm and then eats the orange.

 

Johnson, Dinah. Hair Dance! Photographs by Kelly Johnson. Henry Holt and Company.New York. 2007. $16.95. 978-0-8050-6523-7. 25 pgs. Pre k-3 Grade. P8/Q8

The book starts with a photographer’s introduction that talks about her love of hair and hairstyling and her grandparent’s legacy. The girls she photographed were described as positive, unique, glamorous and elegant. It’s a book of people of color ( rainbow tribe) with their afros, dreadlocks and braids. The words are not really in a story format but more of a poem and are few and simple in nature.

 

Reiser, Lynn. And Penny Gentieu. You and Me, Baby. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2006.$15.95. 0-375-83401-X. 20 pgs. Pre k -1 Grade P6/Q6

This book has real photographs of babies and parents. It talks about looking at baby and smiling, eating, and other simple things that babies and parents would do, but not very interesting words.

 

Weeks, Sarah. Bunny Fun. Illustrated by Sam Williams. Harcourt, Inc. New York. 2008. $14.00. 978-0-15-205838-8.25 pgs. Pre k – 1 Grade P7/Q7

It is a simple story with cute drawings to illustrate a bunny and mouse who goof around inside because it is raining. When the rain stops they go outside but there is lots of mud. It has a rhyming patter to the bunny fun.

 

Mcghee, Alison. and Peter H. Reynolds. Someday. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York. 2007. $14.99. 978-1-4169-2811-9. 25 pages. Prek – 2 Grade. P6/Q7

It is a story of a mother and baby and how someday the baby will grow up and become a mother herself. It is a nice story of how the baby will then remember her own mother. It has simple drawings with a only a few words and pictures on each page. The words fly across the page and would be a great book for a mother to give to her daughter who has just had a baby of her own.

 

Charlip, Remy. A Perfect Day. Greenwillow Books. New York. 2007. $17.89. 978-0-06-051973-5. 20 pgs. Pre k – 1 Grade P5/Q5

A story about a young boy and his dad and the things they do during the day. The pictures are plain and the words are as well. I don’t like the text they chose for the words. It looks like a cheap book.

 

Rosenthal, Marc. Phooey! Joanna Colter Books. 2007. $17.98. 978-06-075249-1. 25 pgs. Pre k – 3 Grade P6/Q7

The art work and book jacket look like Curious George books. The drawings remind me of a book from the same time frame as Curious George. A young boy is bored and thinks nothing ever happens in his town. Little does he know lots of things are happening all around him but he is too busy complaining to notice what is going on. In the end he finds a kitten and believes it is the best place of all.

 

Magoon, Scott. Hugo & Miles in I’ve Painted Everything ! An Adventure in Paris. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 2007. $16.00. 978-0618-64638-8. 25 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P7/Q7

I love the texture of the book jacket and it has muted but interesting illustrations to help tell a story with few words. Hugo is an elephant and his friends are animals as well. Hugo is an artist who has painted everything and ran out of ideas. They had to go to Paris on a trip and saw the many sites like the Louvre, Musee’d’Orsay and other art museums. He did get an idea and never ran out of ideas again.

 

McClements, George. Ridin’ Dinos with Buck Bronco. Harcourt, Inc. Florida. 2007. $16.00. 978-0-15-205989-7. 40 pgs. Pre k – 3 Grade P7/Q7

The illustrations are mainly made out of cut or ripped paper in a cartoon look. It is a story about how a cowboy found some eggs and they hatched and he is now the leadin’ authority on dinosaurs. He talks about Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous and how they are biped or quadruped and what that means. He also teaches about saddles, blankets and bridles because he shows how to ride a dinosaur. Little boys would love this book and learn something as well.

 

Grimes, Nikki. Welcome Precious. Illustrations by Bryan Collier. Orchard Books. New York. 2006. 0-439-55702-X. 30 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P7/Q8

An African American family welcomes a new baby girl – Precious and the delightful illustrations depict all that she sees. The beauty of the earth, her father, grandmother and life a basket brimming with things to see and hear.

 

Serfozo, Mary. Whooo’s there? Illustrated by Jeffrey Scherer. Random House. New York. 2007. $9.99 978-0-375-84050-0. 20 pgs. Pre k – 2 Grade P6/Q7

It is a story about an owl and other animals with bright cheerful pictures in a cartoon format. The owl goes threw the forest asking who everyone is and the moon is beginning to fade as the owl goes to sleep.

 

Cheng, Andrea. Tire Mountain. Illustrations by Ken Condon. Boyds Mills Press. Pennsylvania. 2007. $15.95. 978-1-932425-60-4. 25 pgs. Grade 1-4. P7/Q7

A little boys mother wants to move. They own a tire store next to a large pile of tires. Right now they live in a house right next to the tire shop – what if she finds a house far away and he can’t walk to the shop. He likes playing with the tires, making swings, stacking them and then they make a play park with all of the tires.

 

Delessert, Etienne. Alert! Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. 2007. $17.00. 978-0-618-73474-0. 40pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q7

I think the cover has an ugly picture and I wasn’t sure what it was. But it is a story about Tobias a special mole who liked to collect shiny pebbles and other colorful stones. The creatures are very odd looking. His mole friend told him that thieves were on their way to steal the pebbles. He had been robbed by his mole friend and he would be wiser next time.

 

Young, Ed. My Mei Mei. Philomel Books. New York. 2006. $16.99. 0-399-24339-9.30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P8/Q8

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. It is a story of a little Chinese girl and how she plays Jieh-Jieh. There are other Chinese words in the book and she talks about a

pretend sister she has. The illustrations are made up of fabric and drawings. They flew and got her a real sister but then she felt left out. The back cover has a real photo of the sisters in China and an explanation about the adoption of Antonia. It’s a story about adoption and sibling relationships.

 

Cuyler, Margery. That’s Good! That’s Bad! In Washington, DC. Ilustrated by Michael Garland. Henry Holt and Compan, LLC. 2007. $16.95. 978-0-8050-7727-8. 30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q7

The book has illustrations that are cartoon in nature with bright colors. It is a story about a boy who went on a field trip to Washington DC and fell off the tour bus and landed on a motorcycle. He saw the National Zoo, Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument ect. Along his adventures seemed to be bad but no they were good after all. It has very engaging pictures that will capture young reader’s attention. At the end of the story there is a map that shows the little boy’s day and where he went and how he found his class.

 

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Dear Mr. Rosenwald.Illustrations by Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner R. Gregory Christie. Scholastic Press.New York. 2006. $16.99 0-439-49522-9. 30 pgs Grade 3-6 P7/Q8

It is a book that talks about Rosenwald schools which empowered thousands of African American communities to build schools for their children in the 1920 & 30’s. The format looks like poetry with titles and the format of the words. The illustrations are drawings in a sketch format. 1921: One – Room School, Sharecropping, Supper, New School Rally, Taking Root, Box Party, Passing the Plate, Blueprints, Lumber, Raising the Roof, Hand-Me Downs, Playground, 1922; White Oak School, and Dear Mr. Rosenwald. There is an authors note in the back about how the schools were built for ex- slaves and how the they were a sign of progress. Each page could be taken and read as a poem on its own.

 

Van der Heide, Iris. A Strange Day. Illustrations by Marijke ten Cate. Lemniscaat. Pennsylvania. 2006. $15.95 978-1-932425-94-9. 30 pgs. Grade 1-4 P8/Q8

It is a book with beautiful illustrations. Jack a young boy has entered a contest and is waiting for the mail to see if he has won. The illustrations tell the story as the local postman is trying to catch a letter that has been taken by the wind. Jack says he will never enter another contest and he doesn’t notice the bad wind storm as he is only thinking of his bad luck. Finally the mail man catches the letter and puts it in Jacks mail box. Jack has won and everyone around town brings him presents because when he was preoccupied with loosing he had helped win a soccer match, found a dog, and saved an egg. What a strange day.

 

Singer, Marilyn. Let’s Build a Clubhouse. Illustrated by Timothy Bush. Clarion Books. New York. 2006. $16.00. 978-0-618-30670-1. 25 pgs. Grade 1-4 P7/Q8

A story of building a club house that teaches at the same time. The author gives definitions for the plan, and what rulers measure. Who’s got the … is the format and then they explain what each item does with drawings, words and why the item would be used to build something. There are pictures of open-ended, box end and adjustable wrenches. This book could be read to a younger group by only reading the bold words and leaving out the definitions. The theme is teamwork and also the process of building.

 

Anderson, Lena. Hedgehog, Pig, and the Sweet Little Friend. Translated by Joan Sandin. R&S Books. New York. 2007. $16.00. 978-91-29-66742-4. Grade 1-3 P7/Q7

Mrs. Hedgehog hears someone at her gate late in the evening. It is Pig and she invites him for soup and then someone else comes a little crying girl pig. They become friends and the next day in town the pig takes the crying girl around town they stop for cakes and she finds her mom in the end the pigs walk off into the sunset.

 

Book Reviews for December 2007 by A.G.

Martin Jr., Bill. Illus. by Eric Carle. Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2007. $16.95 24 pp. ages 3-6 ISBN: 0-8050-8336-7 P9/Q9 The precursor to this book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”, was a clear favorite of my own children. Having had to read it aloud over and over and over again, I can see how welcome a variation on it would be. This book retains all the good qualities of the original—the simple, repetitive text and simple, colorful illustrations—while introducing a new batch of animals, this time from North America. No doubt it will be an instant classic.

 

Hughes, Pat. Illus. by Ken Stark. Seeing the Elephant. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. $16.00 37 pp. ages 8-10 ISBN 0-374-38024-4 P7/Q8 Ten-year-old Izzie sees his two older brothers off to fight for the Union in the Civil War. It seems like a glamorous outing until news arrives that one brother got typhoid fever that put him out of action and he’s sent home. The brother’s resentment at being sidelined is one of the many details that give this story both its historic accuracy and relevant meaning. When Izzie travels to Washington, DC and meets a Reb in the hospital, he begins to see the brutality of war and the humanity of the enemy. “Seeing the elephant” takes on a new meaning to him. With war a constant in today’s society, the book has a valuable meaning. It should appeal to kids both because of its theme and the wonderful illustrations. It could make a good class read-aloud regarding troop mobilization and the effects of war on warriors and their families. The story avoids going overboard by remaining true to the author’s family history which provided the storyline.

 

Mayer, Mercer. The Little Drummer Mouse. NY: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2006. $16.99 30 pp. ages 5-8 ISBN 0-8037-3147-7 P8/Q8

Mercer Mayer’s illustrations are predictably wonderful, this time focusing on woodland animals (the raccoon’s inclusion puts it solidly in the realm of fantasy). The story is of the “little drummer boy” who feels inadequate in his gift to the “newborn king”, baby Jesus. The story makes the point that people may underestimate the worth of others, but when looked at purely they are worthy.

 

Addy, Sharon Hart. Illus. by Wade Zahares. Lucky Jake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. $17.00 32 pp. ages 6-9. ISBN 0-618-47286-X P8/Q8 Jake and his pa are panning for gold in California in the 1850’s. Jake wants a dog but ends up with a pet pig they name Lucky. Through a series of “lucky” turns of events, they end up striking it rich in a way they’d never imagined. The story not only gives a feeling for the economics of the Gold Rush, but also explores the concept of “luck” in a way that younger children can begin to understand. The reading level is simple and the typeface quite readable, and with the bright and engaging impressionistic illustrations it should appeal to children.

 

Becker, Bonny. Illus. by Abby Carter. Holbrook: A Lizard’s Tale. NY: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), 2006. $15.00 150 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 0-618-71458-8 P7/Q7 Holbrook (a lizard) loves to paint, and to realize his dream of becoming a famous painter he travels to the big city. Being a rube, he gets suckered in by a pretentious art patron. The lizard joins forces with other exploited animal artists and comes up with a creative way to beat the exploiter. The story is about having confidence in your ambition and abilities, as well as being careful of other peoples’ motivations.

 

Dunham, Montrew. Illus. by Cathy Morrison. Mahalia Jackson, Gospel Singer and Civil Rights Champion. Carmel, IN: Patria Press, 2003. (orig. pub. 1974) $15.95 105 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 1882859383 P6/Q7 This classic biography covers mostly the early life of Mahalia Jackson, giving both a background in what led her to prominence in gospel singing and the flavor of the times in which she lived. Students today are likely not very familiar with her, but having heard her sing in person in my youth, a couple of years before she died, I can attest that she had an amazing singing voice and style. The story is interesting by itself, but could no doubt be enriched by accompanying it with playing a recording of Mahalia singing. The book will appeal to students who like biographies or history. It provides diversity and depth to a school collection of biographies for intermediate readers (the vocabulary is simple), and qualifies as a chapter book without being an intimidating length.

 

Pinkwater, Daniel. The Neddiad. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. $16.00 307 pp. ages 10-14 ISBN 0-618-59444-2 P8/Q8 Ned (age maybe 10) and his family are moving from Chicago to LA by train when he gets left behind in Flagstaff (he wandered down the street to watch a rodeo parade). His hero’s adventure includes a ghost bellboy that many people can see and hear and a quest to save the world. Complete with a mystical Navaho shaman (with a sense of humor), this story is a fun action adventure, an epic hero’s story implied by the title’s play on “The Illiad”. It portrays details of the 1950 era that only someone who lived through it would know (author Daniel Pinkwater, of NPR fame, clearly is of that age).

The most endearing part of the book to me is its upbeat nature. I’d come away from reading it with a smile and the urge to return to the story. While it’s completely fanciful, the reader will learn a few things that are real, especially about the La Brea Tar Pits and turtle mythology.

 

Jonell, Lynne. Illus. by Jonathan Bean. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2007. $17.95 346 pp. ages 8-14 ISBN 0-8050-8150-X P7/Q7 Emmy is a very good girl, leading a busy life of lessons and extra-curricular activities and getting good grades. Yet she’s very unhappy: no one notices her. This story takes a probably not uncommon situation and weaves it into a story of magic, intrigue and adventure. Emmy gets help from an unlikely source: the classroom pet rat and a “Rodentologist” who first identified his incredible qualities. The story is about values more than anything, and explores the emotional vacuum that even a rich girl can experience. The illustration at the top of each page, when the pages are flipped, create a fun moving illustration of a rat dropping from a tree. The story is an easy, quick read despite it’s apparent large number of pages, and is likely to be enjoyed by boys and girls in elementary school, on up to puberty.

 

Giles, Gail. Right Behind You. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $15.99 292 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 0-316-16636-7 P8/Q8 How could you live with yourself if you killed another child when you were 9 years old? After years of therapy, Kip is released into the world and has to learn how to live with others and live with himself. There’s some useful therapeutic messages, and perhaps the story will encourage some compassion for juvenile delinquents and their rehabilitation. But it’s also enjoyable as a sort of love story, told from the boy’s point of view. The title phrase refers to standing by someone, backing them up. This could provide some stimulus for discussion among a group of teenagers, particularly those who are trying to overcome their past.

 

de la Cruz, Melissa. The Au Pairs: Sun-Kissed. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006. $15.95 306 pp. ages 14 up ISBN 1-4169-1746-5 P7/Q5 This is a classic teen romance, fantasy-style. All the girls are smart, beautiful and rich, and the worst of their troubles is when one girl’s parents cut up her credit cards because she rented a black hawk helicopter to deliver her and the new designer dress from NYC to the Hamptons for a spectacular finish to a debut fashion show. Ack. It took me a year and a half to get around to this one, no doubt due to my noticeable lack of teen hormones, but it turned out to be not so bad, though it has a minimal of redeeming social value. Romance enthusiasts will no doubt like it.

 

Deary, Terry. Flight of the Fire Thief. Boston: Kingfisher, 2006. $9.95. 225 pp. ages 8-14. ISBN 0-7534-5819-5 P6/Q5 This is the sequel to The Fire Thief, a back-and-forth-through-time story featuring Prometheus (the fire thief). Although it contains Greek/Roman gods and demi-gods, it is not big on mythology or history particularly. The story is primarily told first person as the young (indeterminate age) girl who travels with her showman father in 1795. Its cutesy style I found distracting, though some might find it amusing, as was the bouncing

back and forth in time every other chapter between “Eden City” in America and Troy under siege 4,000 years ago. A glossary is given in the back, along with the first few pages of the third book in the trilogy (I can wait).

 

Yeomans, Ellen. Rubber Houses. NY: Little Brown & Co., 2007. $15.99 150 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-316-01701-9 P7/Q8 Kit, a junior in high school, has a close relationship with her little brother Buddy. When Buddy is diagnosed with cancer, she goes on a different kind of journey than she had always envisioned, progressing through his death and her beginning to cope with her grief. The story is told simply but movingly in a sort of free verse, making it a quick read. The title refers to home plate. This would be a helpful story to read for a bereavement group.

 

Russell, Christopher. Hunted. NY: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins), 2007. $16.89 254 pp. ages 10-14 ISBN 978-0-06-084120-1 P6/Q7 Set in the late 1300’s during the reign of King Edward III in England, this story follows the lives of two young people during the Black Plague. Brind is a dog handler of the lord’s hunting dogs and Aurelie is the lord’s foster daughter. When the lady of the manor dies of the plague, the two of them become convenient scapegoats when a traveling Brother tries to drum up support for his own greedy interests. The book illustrates the lifestyle of the time, along with the sketchy morals of some who professed to be religious. The plot is lively and the characters sympathetic. The vocabulary isn’t the easiest but is certainly in reach for middle school, and is a fast read.

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers November/December 2007 

Reviews by N.W. Retired Librarian

 

Nonfiction

Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Talk to Children about Their Art. Philomel, 2007. $30.00. 0-399-24600-5. 105p. Ages 8+: Well-known, award-winning authors share their childhood experiences, motivations, training, and knowledge about art in this exuberant feast for the eye that will attract both young and adult readers. One page of text, two-page foldout of illustrations from their early experiences and picture books, and a full-page self-illustration highlight each of these artists including Eric Carle, Steven Kellogg, Barry Moser, and Chris Van Allsburg in a benefit for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Three-fourths of the artists represented are male, hopefully not a trend in the museum. But the visuals are a delight, especially the pop-up contribution by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. An excellent book for art teachers. P8Q8

 

Gonyea, Mark. Another Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Bad. Holt, 2007. $19.95. 0-8050-7576-3. unp. Ages 6+: Conyea’s first book, A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good, provided the basics in graphic design for beginning artists. In this one, he includes extremely brief chapters on the foundation, foreground/background, use and repetition of colors and shapes, and positive and negative space which results in a simple

illustration of a flying superhero with city buildings in the background. A superb companion for his first book. P8Q10

 

Freedman, Russell. Who Was First? Discovering the Americas. Clarion, 2007. $19.00. 0-618-66391-6. 88p. Ages 9-12: Dispelling the myth that Christopher Columbus was the first person to “discover” North America, Newbery-winner describes other voyages before 1492 in which the Chinese and the Vikings may have traveled to the continent. Beginning with a chapter on Columbus, the book has a dramatic finish in the chapter “Who Really Discovered America” which tells about the journey on land from Siberia when a land bridge existed between Russia and Alaska. Paintings, engravings, photographs, scrolls, models, and ancient and current maps enliven the clear text which provides much food for young readers’ thoughts. Recommended for all school and public libraries. P6Q9

 

Hill, Laban Carrick. American Dreaming: How Youth Changed America in the ‘60s. Little, 2007. $19.99. 0-316-00904-1. 165p. Ages 12+: Colorful elaborate design highlights the ten chapters chronicling the types of protests during the decade of the 1960s and comparing these to the overview of life in the 1950s that opens the book. Included are the movements created by students, hippies, African Americans, women, Native Americans, Latinos, and environmentalists to make life in America more equal for all. Filled with photographs, quotations, and facts, this summary of tumultuous events will interest young readers. The brevity of the book may contribute to the omissions noted by a reader who lived during this time, but the gay protests relegated to one page create a lack of balance in the coverage. P7Q7

 

Hodgkins, Fran. The Whale Scientists: Solving the Mystery of Whale Strandings. [Scientists in the Field series] Houghton, 2007. $18.00. 0-618-55673-7. 64p. Ages 9-12: Following an introductory chapter on cetaceans—whales, dolphins, and porpoises—and their abuses throughout the ages, the books moves to the subject of the title, describing scientific studies that attempt to solve the mysteries of these giant mammals going ashore. Several answers are proposed from weather to solar man-made noises from solar testing and shipping lanes. Hodgkins shows a great passion for her subject in a narrative that may inspire young readers to become activists in the environmental movement. The plight of these gentle creatures is tragic, as shown through both the text and photographs. P8Q8

 

Jenkins, Steve. Living Color. Houghton, 2007. $17.00. 0-618-70897-9. unp. Ages 8-11: Nature enthusiasts will love this depiction of birds, fish, birds, bugs (lots of them!) and other creatures as they are sorted into the vivid colors of red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, and pink. Jenkins explains behavior, appearance, rationale, and other color facts with a description of size, habitat, diet, and other bits of information about the 70+ animals in the book. His books have been described as stunning, gorgeous, compelling, engaging, glorious and informative: this book lives up to all these adjectives. P8Q8

 

Matthews, Elizabeth. Different like Coco. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-2548-1. unp. Ages 6-9: Most adults are familiar with Coco Chanel because of her perfume and fashion, made well-known to women in the United States when Jackie Kennedy wore Coco’s stylish clothing. But many may not know about Coco’s adolescence in a Catholic orphanage after her mother’s death and her struggle to overcome the forced humiliation of her poverty. For young readers,

this book is about a “poor and skinny” child determined to become part of an elegant society and who succeeded with the help of a wealthy British aristocrat who bankrolled her first shop. This wonderful true story of rags to riches is highlighted by delicate watercolors laced with humor and personality. Important to the reader is also the conclusion: “Everyone loved Coco. And she was always different.” P8Q9

 

Platt, Richard. Pompeii. Il. Manuela Cappon. [Through Time series]. Kingfisher, 2007. $16.95. 0-7534-6044-3. 48p. Ages 8+: Although many people think primarily in terms of the 79 AD destruction of the city when Vesuvius erupted, the city had actually suffered earthquakes and other eruptions during its almost three millennia of existence. With artwork and cross sections, Platt follows the life of a farm house throughout these years as it changed from a humble hut into a wealthy family’s home, only to be covered by ash for almost a century. While trailing the events in Pompeii, readers will learn about the culture in different times and the development of archeological study during the past three centuries. Anyone can spend hours pouring over the details of life and activity. P9Q8

 

Picture Books

Cate, Annette LeBlanc. The Magic Rabbit. Candlewick, 2007. $15.99. 0-7636-2672-3. unp. Ages 4-7: In her first book, Cate tells the story that she developed in art school as she thought about the perspective of a small animal looking up at people’s shoes. The story is simple: a bunny gets separated from his magician owner, searches throughout the city for him, and then finds his way home by following first popcorn and then scattered glittering stars. What makes the book unique is the hand-lettered text and the quirky pen and ink illustrations, all in black and white except for touches of gold, with their perspectives from varying angles. Cate provides a great look at life from the point of view of a person who is not usually part of the reader’s life. P8Q10

 

Flaherty, A. W. The Luck of the Loch Ness Monster. Il. Scott Magoon. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-55644-3. unp. Ages 4-7: Until this book was published, I’ll bet no one knew that the Loch Ness monster was once a small worm that grew because a picky eater threw her oatmeal overboard on a trip from the United States to Scotland. OK, maybe that’s not really true. But Flaherty has created a delightful story about Katerina Elizabeth, a picky eater who rejected the food that her parents made sure was provided for her on her trip to see her grandmother. Whimsy combines with sophisticated dark digitally-colored drawings in a story that also shows the life of the wealthy in another time when sea travel was the only way to make this journey. The favorite part for young readers may be the note on the back endpaper that explains “picky eating” may be genetic and the advantages of this trait. This fun book keeps the flavor of past centuries with the original endpaper art—a delight for adults as well as younger readers. P8Q10

 

Noyes, Deborah. Red Butterfly: How a Princess Smuggled the Secret of Silk Out of China. Il. Sophie Blackall. Candlewick, 2007. $16.99. 0-7636-2400-2. unp. Ages 5-8: Elegantly flowing free-style verse traces the story of a young Chinese princess who illegally smuggles silkworms out of the kingdom when she is married to a king of a faraway oasis so that she will have this memory of home. Chinese ink and watercolors show the culture of the time and place

as well as the emotions of the princess, her family, and those surrounding her. This gentle, contemplative book introduces the reader to another world and time from a female perspective. P7Q9

 

Parks, Todd. We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families. Little, 2007. $15.99. 0-316-01668-3. unp. Ages 2-6: Few books explain adoption to young people: Parks has succeeded in explaining why children should be adopted—they need a home, someone to help the child grow healthy and strong and kiss “boo-boos,” a friend, education—in short, safety and stability. Bold black lines drawings and colors amply illustrate the concepts. As the author says, “This book is meant to be read with someone you love”: a book that transcends adoptive families. P9Q9

 

Strom, Kellie. Sadie the Air Mail Pilot. David Fickling Books/Random House, 2007. $16.99. 0-385-75027-1. unp. Ages 4-8: Elaborately detailed illustrations of panoramic views and feats of derring-do make this story about a daredevil tiger pilot a true delight. The bouncy characters give a great sense of joy, and the different perspectives of the scenes make this a nicely sophisticated book with simple narration. The variety of animals provides learning for young readers with an elephant Air-Chief, aviators that include an ostrich, anteater, and bear, and monkey Mickey the mechanic. Places where they fly can also give a geography lesson—Lima, Santiago, Cordoba, and Panama. Our fearless Sadie flies over rocky cliffs, tropical jungles, and high mountains to icy Knuckle Peak before returning home to her city (which somewhat resembles San Francisco). Think Amelia Earhart and Katharine Hepburn rolled up into sturdy little feline Sadie. P9Q9

 

Graphic Novels

Holm, Jennifer L. Skater Girl. Il. Matthew Holm. Random, 2007. $5.99. 0-375-83989-4. 96p. Ages 7-10: Babymouse has always wanted to win, but when she has the chance to become tops in ice-skating, she discovers that all the hard work in her training schedule cuts her off from her friends—and her beloved cupcakes. The resolution of the book, the seventh in this popular series, shows that everyone is a winner at something. Cute, smart, sassy, and addictive. P9Q9

 

Fiction

Brooks, Martha. Mistik Lake. Farrar, 2007. $16.00. 0-374-34985-1. 207p. Ages 14+: Spare writing with vivid characterization and use of multiple narrators show the impact of infidelity and death on three generations in an Icelandic settlement in Canada with its mix of French and Ojibwa inhabitants. Seventeen-year-old Odella suffers from anger and loss when her mother leaves the family for another man; her boyfriend Jimmy lives with his grandparents but feels responsible for his schizophrenic mother. The past is slowly unraveled through a number of voices from different characters as Odella discovers her biological father, the mystery of her great-aunt’s sexual orientation, and the source of her mother’s guilt. All Brooks’ earlier books have been ALA Best Books for Young Adults; this one deserves the same. P8Q9

 

Cazet, Denys. Minnie and Moo and the Haunted Sweater. HarperCollins, 2007. $16.89. 0-06-073017-8. In this narrative from the popular early chapter book series, our delightful bovine protagonists celebrate the farmer’s birthday by giving him a cream puff—in his shoe—and knitting him a sweater—straight from the sheep. Young readers will giggle over the rooster’s accidentally ending up in the sweater’s sleeve and the illustrations, particularly the naked sheep looking down at themselves and obviously wondering where their wool has gone. As always, delightful! P8Q8

 

De Lint, Charles. Little (Grrl) Lost. Viking, 2007. $17.99. 0-670-07144-0. 271p. Ages 12-15: Furious and depressed by her move to the city with her family and the loss of her beloved horse Red, 14-year-old T.J. has a shock when she finds a new friend, 16-year-old punked-out teen Elizabeth who is running away from her parents. What makes this relationship different from other YA books is that Elizabeth is six inches tall and faces dangers that T.J. can only imagine. Through the gentle narrative, T.J. follows her heart in deciding who to trust while she searches for the missing Elizabeth and persuades her parents that she is growing up. Clear characterization and fast-moving plot adds to the charm of the descriptions in this combination of realism, magic, humor, and hope. P8Q8

 

DeVita, James. The Silenced. Laura Geringer Books/HarperCollins, 2007. $17.99. 0-06-078462-8. 501p. Ages 14+: An impassioned plea to preserve the Constitution’s First Amendment comes from this futuristic novel in which people are forced to follow controlling sanctions and restrictions. The government’s belief is that safety comes from homogeneity of political thinking, ethnic origin, and appearance. High schooler Marena, however, refuses to give into the fear-based government and creates her own resistance group—the White Rose—based on the activism of German-born Sophie Scholl, her brother, and their friend to fight Nazism during World War II. The danger is that the political party has a special “tool” to silence wrong-thinkers permanently by erasing part of their brains. With rewards given for betraying others, Marena doesn’t know who to trust and discovers that she has selected the wrong person to put her faith in. Chilling and realistic suspense with satisfyingly capable characters—a must read. P7Q9

 

Grove, Vicki. Rhiannon. Putnam, 2007. $18.99. 0-399-23633-4. 347p. Ages 13-16: High on the bluff of Clodaghcombe, 14-year-old Rhiannon lives with her Mam and Granna, helping them tend to the sick and wounded from the village below, where people are occupied with the arrival of the Norman gentry, the tragic shipwreck that killed King Henry’s only son, and the mysterious murder of a man left nearby. Ria plays upon the superstitions of the 12th-century peoples as she saves a man wrongly accused of murder and solves the mystery of one of their patients. The blend of danger and history bring the time period clearly into focus for the reader while readers can empathize with the coming-of-age struggles of both girls and boys. This enthralling, suspenseful adventure filled with fantasy and romance is based on the actual occurrence of the sinking of The White Ship in 1120. P7Q9

 

Levithan, David. Marly’s Ghost. Ill. Brian Selznick. $14.99. 0-8037-3063-2. 167p. Ages 14-16: When the spirits of Valentine Day’s Past, Present, and Future visit Ben after he gives up hope because of his girlfriend’s death, he realizes that he is dishonoring her memory. Using Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol as a prototype, Levithan writes a tear-jerker that will

become popular. Selznick’s pen-and-ink drawings, based on the original engravings, retain the same Victorian flavor. A book for a special audience. P6Q8

 

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. The Off Season. Houghton, 2007. $16.00. 0-618-68895-9. 277p. Ages 14-16: D.J. Schwenk (of Dairy Queen) tries to juggle school, football, family, the farm (which is losing money) while dealing with the loss of her best friend, a shoulder injury that might keep her from getting a basketball scholarship, her mother’s slipped disc, and her older brother’s college football accident that may mean he is a quadriplegic. Skillful in the delineation of characterizations, the author uses “realistic” adolescent idioms (such as the overuse of awesome) and awkward writing which can become annoying in this first-person narrative. Young readers will appreciate D.J.’s self-doubt which is sometimes carried to the extreme. The plot leaves several strings hanging (D.J.’s change in the relationship with Brian the boyfriend and her brother’s progress in his rehab, for example) which leaves the door open to another sequel. P8Q7

 

Rinaldi, Ann. The Ever-After Bird. Harcourt, 2007. $17.00. 0-15-202620-2. 232p. Ages 12-15: Orphaned in 1851 when her father dies, 13-year-old CeCe McGill travels through the South with her abolitionist uncle, a doctor and ornithologist, where she learns about the cruelty of slavery. Pieces of the book are timeless, such as CeCe’s love/hate relationship with her unfeeling father who blames her wrongly for her mother’s death when CeCe was an infant and her growing love for her uncle. Other parts seem contrived as each plantation they visit is different, each designed to teach the reader a different lesson. Briefer and simpler than other Rinaldi books, this will still appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction. P7Q7

 

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