L.R. for Siletz Library
Pon, Cindy. Fury of the Phoenix. Harper Collins Publishers, 2011, 362 pgs. Ages 14-18. ISBN
9780061730252 $17.99 P6 Q8
A combination of fantasy, romance, supernatural and ancient Chinese history, this book is very rich in images and adventure. The heroine, Ai Ling, has visions and memories and sometimes it is not clear which is which. But she has an overwhelming sense of dread for her friend, Chen Yong, who has embarked on a long voyage to find his father. A dream tells her where he is, and she leaves home to find him and stow away on the ship that he has boarded. She proves herself discerning and loyal when she fights for him, as he is tempted by ancient evil spirits. This book isn’t for every teen with the ancient Chinese setting and the supernatural elements, but for those who are interested in this kind of story, it has its rewards. It is a sequel to the novel Silver Phoenix, but one does not necessarily have to have read the previous book to enjoy the story. The cover of a rather modern girl grasping a richly decorated dagger does not really convey what the book is about, but maybe that is the goal. Once the reader has delved in a few pages, he or she will not put it down.
Gonzalez, Christina Diaz. The Red Umbrella. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010, 284 pgs. Ages 10-16. ISBN 9780375861901 $16.99 P6 Q8
The evacuation of children from Cuba to the United States in the early 1960’s is a not a very well-known subject, even to adults today. Author Gonzalez has found a good subject for her novel. She also had some good sources, as her parents and mother-in-law were some of those 14,000 children who came to the US to escape the extremism of Castro’s regime. It is a very heartwarming story, as the children in the book are reunited with both their parents in the US at the end, and I have listed it for ages 10 and up, because nothing too brutal or frightening happens in the book. The heroine, does witness the hanging body of the local pharmacist in a park in Cuba, and there are hints of rape by a revolutionary in the book, but mostly it is a story of adapting to a new culture and moving on. The author offers a simple explanation at the end of the book about what was happening in Cuba at the time. I would recommend that the reader take a look at that first, and also note the chapter titles which give quotes from American newspapers and the date such as “Castro Rules Out Elections in Cuba—The New York Times, May 2, 1961.” There is also a glossary of Spanish words and phrases used in the book, which would be interesting to those learning Spanish. Some of the references to life in the 60’s will probably be lost on the young readers of today, but it is still an interesting story and a chance to learn some history.
Smiley, Jane. true blue. Alfred A. Knopf , 2011, 297 pgs. Ages 12-17. ISBN 9780375862311 $16.99 P7 Q 8
Part ghost story and part old fashioned ¡§horse romance,¡¨ this novel will find readers among young teens who love horses, whether they know anything about them or not. The main character is a 13 year old girl whose father is a horse trainer. They are given a horse that seems to see the ghost of his former owner, a woman who died in a car crash and didn’t appear to have any relatives or living connections. The teen girl has a lot of conflicts in her life, including a falling out between her father and her brother and an argument in the family church that has everyone on edge. Seeing the ghost of the woman who used to own Blue really sets her on edge. But everything works out in the end. There are some nice things about the book for those horse lovers. The teen discusses in detail some horse training methods, and explains horse gaits and equipment. There are line drawings of the various accoutrements of horse ownership at the beginning of each chapter, which would be quite helpful to those who are unfamiliar. It would have been helpful to have drawings of horse gaits, also, to help explain a pretty complicated concept. The story seems to be set in the early ¡¥60’s, and I wonder why, as I don’t imagine the young readers of today would have a clue what the television show “Gunsmoke” was, as well as some other references to the 60s. Perhaps it was to keep the story uncluttered and simple. The cover, with a large photo of a beautiful gray and white dappled horse, will entice teen readers.
Winters, Ben H. The Mystery of the Missing Everything. HarperCollins Publishers, 2011, 263 pgs. Ages 8-12 ISBN 9780061965449 $16.99 P8 Q8
The cover of this mystery for middle-schoolers will have a lot to do with its popularity. The jacket is designed by Brett Helquist who illustrated the Lemony Snicket series and is quite recognizable as his work. The mystery inside is pretty elementary. A trophy goes missing from a case in the school hallway and the principal is absolutely rabid in her quest to find the thief. She cancels the 8th grade outdoor school excursion until the thief comes forward and Bethesda Fielding decides to solve the mystery and save the fun. It is a fairly entertaining story and the author uses some great vocabulary, just as Lemony Snicket does. (eg. nefarious, innocuous) There are also references to operas, Shakespeare and books that one would not expect the reader to have any knowledge of. It would have been spectacular to have some inside illustrations by Helquist, especially since the book is supposed to be for 8 year olds and up. I also wonder if it was a little long for juveniles to want to read. But if they do tackle it, they will enjoy the read.
Waechter, Philip. Bravo! Gecko Press, 2011, unpgd. Ages 7-10. ISBN 9781877467714 No price listed P4 Q4
Originally published under the name Der Krakeeler, this book may have lost something in the
translation. A little girl kitten named Helena likes to play the trumpet, but “only one thing spoiled it.” Her father shouts his complaints all of the time. Helena’s mother explains that it runs in his family, and one day she can be a shouter, too. She decides she wants no part of that, and runs away. Eventually, she plays a trumpet concert in a fancy music hall and guess what? Her father shows up and shouts “BRAVO,” and Helena was happy to hear him. The end. If it is a story in accepting the faults of others, it doesn’t go far enough, and if the goal is to encourage young ones to follow their dreams, it does it the wrong way. The book gives the impression that if there is something that you don’t like in your family, you should just run away and you will become a famous whatever. The illustrations are well done. Helena is a charming little character, but the story just doesn’t work.
McCarthy, Meghan. The Incredible Life of Balto. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011, unpgd. Ages 7-11. ISBN 9780375844607 $16.99 P7 Q9
This is the true story about a sled dog who supposedly led a pack of sled dogs delivering precious diphtheria serum to Nome, Alaska from a town 600 miles away. (Actually, the trip used 20 teams of dogs in a relay fashion.) But the story doesn’t end there. A movie is made about the incredible feat and Balto is a star. Eventually, Balto and his team are sold to a sideshow where they languish in apparent neglect. A fundraising effort succeeds in raising enough to buy the dogs and donate them to a zoo where they were cared for. What is most interesting about the book is the author’s explanation at the end of the detective work that she employed to find out the whole story, and even determine what color Balto was. There was some controversy about Balto not being the lead dog and the man who owned Balto actually claimed that another dog, Togo, deserved the credit. McCarthy also explains how facts can sometimes get blended with opinions so that no one really knows the truth. But regardless of which dog was the most heroic, it is a fascinating and uplifting story. The illustrations are perfect, with cartoony people and dogs that have big, bulgy eyes and protruding tongues. The muted palette is perfect to portray the cold and colorless world of snow and ice and the neglect in the side show. The colors brighten a bit when the fundraising begins and Balto leads a parade to celebrate his rescue. The end papers show a simple map of the route of the dogsleds, and also the route of the Iditarod race, perhaps
to encourage further reading about dogsled races. This is a quality nonfiction book which should be a purchase for every library. Lots of children will enjoy The Incredible Life of Balto.
Van Dusen, Chris. King Hugo’s Huge Ego. Candlewick Press, 2011, unpgd. Ages 5-7. ISBN9780763650049 $16.99 P8Q8
Written in verse and garnished with colorful and amusing illustrations, this book will be grabbed off the shelf by any child who enjoys stories of kings and castles. The king in this story is a short little guy with a very big head, literally. His head grows bigger and bigger as he thinks more and more of himself. Fortunately, he meets a peasant girl named Tessa who means to teach him a lesson in humility. Some of the illustrations are quite funny, such as the one depicting the king’s carriage passing in the countryside. Even the horses are looking quite disdainful and the peasants and their sheep are bowing low. However, the depictions of the king’s balloon-like florid head are pretty ugly. I can imagine the kids on the front row of story time cringing at his exploding head! The cover, with its silver Cygnet font and rich, royal colors will attract lots of young readers.
C.S.- Siletz Public Library Reviews
Beaumont, Karen. Jackie Urbanovic, ill. No Sleep for the Sheep! Hartcourt Children’s Books, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780152049690. Unp. Ages 4+.
This was another hit at storytime. The sheep keeps getting woken up by various animals and he doesn’t like it! It’s told in rhyme and has a rhythm that makes the reader go faster and faster. It’s a great read aloud and is sure to be popular with young readers. P9Q9
Elliott, David. Timothy Basil Ering, ill. Finn Throws a Fit! Candlewick Press, 2009. $16.99. ISBN 9780763623562. Unp. Ages 3+.
This one had my storytime group in stitches. Finn is in a rotten mood and doesn’t like anything today. He throws a fit, and devastation ensues! Then suddenly, it’s over. The illustrations perfectly capture the chaos created when a strong minded child throws a tantrum. I especially liked the feeling of empathy the illustrator managed to capture. P9Q10
Kellogg, Steven. The Piper’s Magic. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. $16.99 ISBN 9780803728189. Unp. Ages 3-8.
This cute fairytale tells the story of Peterkin, a cheerful elf who is given a magical pipe,
which plays the sound of letters. The words they spell create what they spell (like R-A-T-S!). Peterkin uses the pipe to rid a city of a tyrant and to cheer up a gloomy witch. The colorful illustrations and upbeat story are sure to please small children. P8Q8.
McGrory, Anik. Quick, Slow, Mango!. Bloomsbury, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9781599902425. Unp. Ages 3-7.
What a sweet book! McGrory tells the story of Kidogo the baby elephant who takes his time and
PolePole the monkey who’s always in a hurry. They meet each other and find out that sometimes doing things slowly is good and sometimes quicker is the better way. The soft pastel illustrations set the mood for the story very well. My storytime group enjoyed this one a lot. P9Q9.
Tillman, Nancy. Tumford the Terrible. Feiwel and Friends, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780312368401. Unp. Ages 3+. Unp.
Tumford the Terrible is a sweet book about the importance of saying, “I’m sorry” when
you’ve done something wrong. Like in On the Night You Were Born, the focus in on unconditional love a parent has for a child, even when he or she doesn’t behave. The story of the Tumford, his sometimes bad behavior, and his reluctance to apologize is told in rhyming verse. The artwork is appealing, and I think children of all ages will recognize themselves at times in Tumford. P8Q8.
Meng, Cece. Illustrated by Joy Ang. I Will Not Read This Book. ISBN: 978-0-547-04971-7. Boston : Clarion Books, 2011. 32 p. Gr. K-2. $16.99
Reading is hard so there are many excuses why the little by will not read this book. “You can’t make me, you can hang me upside down” each page adds to this even if you “hang me by one toe”. The even if’s get more dangerous as the story goes on until “even if you drop me, wait”. The little boy changes his mind “but only if you catch me. I’ll read it with you”. P.9, Q.9.
Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys reading in bed. ISBN: 978-0-547-38610-2. Boston : Clarion Books, 2011. 32 p. : Gr. K-2. $16.99
After four stories mom says it is time to turn out the lights and go to sleep. The little monkeys have other plans, first they read a sad story that brings mother back in to remind them to turn out the lights and go to sleep, next is a ghost story followed by a joke book. Finally mother takes the books with her when she tucks them in. The little monkeys hear noises and get up to find that mother is reading in bed, but finally the little moneys are sleepy and go to sleep to wait till tomorrow to read some more. P. 9, Q. 9.
Poydar, Nancy. No fair science fair. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2269-2. New York : Holiday House, 2011. 1st ed. 32 p. Gr. K-2. $14.95.
Mr. Zee’s class is having a science fair and Otis still doesn’t have a project until Mr. Zee gives him an idea. The next day he makes a bird feeder to hang outside the classroom window so that he can observe what birds visit. When the judges get to the classroom and look at all the projects they give Otis the Stick-to-it award because he will stick with his project until next year’s science fair. The last page challenges the reader to go back to the text and find the science projects in this story. K-2 P. 8, Q.8.
Verburg, Bonnie. The KISS BOX. ISBN: 978-0-545-11284-0. New York : Orchard Books, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $ 16.99. Gr. K-2.
Mama Bear has to go away for a little while and Little Bear is going to miss her, so before she goes they have a day of fun. They swing, go fishing and have a picnic. They each make a Kiss Box to store kisses in so that they can send a kiss back and forth no matter where they are. Watercolor graphics accompany a story that reminds us that we are always together in our hearts. P. 9, Q. 9.
Chaconas, Dori, Illlustrated by Josee Massse. Mousie love. ISBN: 978-1-59990-111-4
New York : Bloomsbury, 2009. 1st U.S. ed.  p $16.99. Gr. K-2
It is love at first sight for Tully after being chased under the pantry door and meeting Frill sitting in the flour bin. Tully instantly asks her to marry him. She doesn’t say no, she doesn’t say yes and she doesn’t say maybe, but after finding a place to build a home, getting a muffin warm from the oven for breakfast and days of bringing her gifts as they learn about each other and get chased by the cat Frill finally agrees to marry Tully. Inviting story with colorful illustrations. P. 8 Q. 8
Quattlebaum, Mary. Illustrated By Patricia Castelao. The hungry ghost of Rue Orleans. ISBN: 978-0-375-86207-6. New York : Random House, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $ 15.99. Gr. K-2
Fred the ghost’s dusty creaky home has been invaded, the cobwebs swept and the windows polished, tables moved in and diners are eating. Fred has had enough. He tosses the gumbo, juggles the crawfish and floats the rice in an effort to scare them all away. It does not work, the diners cheer and the food critic gives them five stars. Fred gives up and decides to leave but the little girl finally notices him and asks him to stay. She fixes him his own room all dusty and creaky and bribes him with Powdered Ghost Puffs. Fred decides that it won’t be so bad to share the house. A note from the author adds some background to the story. P. 9, Q. 9
Hilb, Nora. Wiggle giggle tickle train. ISBN: 978-1-55451-210-2. Toronto, ON ; Annick Press, 2009.  p. $8.95. Gr. K-1
Real pictures along with colorful illustrations accompanied by rhythmic writing show children
interpreting everyday things throughout their day. Starting with sun up and ending with the setting of the moon children enjoy their day of imagination. P. 8, Q 8.
Depken, Kristen L. The Little Mermaid : Ariel’s beginning. ISBN: 978-0-375-85203-9 (pbk.) New York : Random House, 2008. 1st ed.  p. $3.99. Gr. K-3.
After the loss of his wife Queen Athena, King Triton banned music from Atlantica forever. Ariel along with her six sisters lived under the strict rules of their father. Ariel did not like her father’s strict rules and often disobeyed, she had to do shores as punishment. Accidentally Ariel found a music club which the king also found out about and soon destroyed, Sebastian and the band were thrown in jail. Ariel felt awful and decided to free them and run away. On a reef Ariel found her mother’s music box and decided to bring it back to her father to remind him how to be happy. Avoiding dangers they returned music and happiness to Atlantica. P.8, Q. 8.
McNamara, Margaret. Illustrated By Barry Blitt George Washington’s birthday : a mostly true tale. ISBN: 978-0-375-94458-1. New York : Schwartz & Wade, 2012. 1st ed.  p. $17.99. K-3.
George goes to sleep six and wakes up seven. When he goes downstairs on his birthday the rest of the family pays no attention to George on his special day. He does his lessons, helps his father in the orchard, finally to return to the house cold and wet. All day he dreams of a time when his birthday will never be forgotten. When he comes down for dinner he finds his family has not forgotten his birthday and they have a feast in honor of George. Facts and myths about George’s life are inset on the pages of this story. The final page tells the reader truths about George written as if George were talking. Watercolor illustrations help bring the story to life. P.9, Q. 9.
Michalak, Jamie. Judy Moody and the not bummer summer : the thrill points race. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5552-5 (pbk.) Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011. 1st ed. 44 p. $3.99. Gr. 1-3.
Judy and her friends design a dare filled fun summer. Each friend will earn thrill points for doing daring things to get to 100 points. Walking tight ropes, riding the Scream Machine amusement park were all potential way to earn points but for Judy something was always going wrong. Judy decides to help her brother Stink find Bigfoot (his summer ambition). They camp out but only find a possum instead. About to give up out of nowhere a tall, hairy creature runs past the window. They discover they mystery of Bigfoot. Putting homemade hats on the statues at the library at night finally earn Judy some thrill points. P.8, Q. 8.
Walsh, Barbara. Paintings by Jamie Wyeth. Sammy in the Sky. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4927-2. Somerville, Mass. Candlewick Press, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $16.99. Gr. K-2.
A touching story of how much love there is between a dog and his family. The love and bond continues after the loss of the dog. The story of a family remembering a friend, a protector, a playmate how had unconditional love for his people. Beautiful painting help tell this story. P. 9, Q. 9.
Michalak, Jamie. Judy Moody and the not bummer summer : the poop picnic. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5553-2 (pbk.) Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011. 1st ed. 42 p. : $3.99. Gr 1-3.
Real pictures from the movie take you into this story as Judy finds out that her two best friends and her parents are going away for the summer. Stink, her brother, is not so bummed he has big plans to catch Bigfoot this summer. Aunt Opal comes to stay with them turns out not to be as awful as Judy thought she would be. As Stick continues to hunt for Bigfoot, Judy has fun with Aunt Opal. When they try to go to the Creep’n Craw at the cemetery, Aunt Opal gets lost. Stink’s Bigfoot scat gets mixed with the sandwiches at their picnic and they have to call a tow truck to get them home because they ran out of gas. After thinking she was going to have a terrible summer it turns out to be Judy’s best. P. 8, Q. 8.
Shaskan, Stephen. A dog is a dog. ISBN: 978-0-8118-7896-8. San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2011.  p. $14.99 Gr. K-1
A dog is a dog unless it is a cat, squid, or a moose. Colorful illustrations take the reader from a dog to other animals returning to a dog. Rhyming text will have students guessing what is next.
P.8, Q. 8.
Yum, Hyewon. The twins’ blanket. ISBN: 978-0-374-37972-8. New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $16.99 Gr. K-2
The twins have always shared everything, especially their favorite blanket, but now they are too big to share the bed or the blanket. Mother makes them each a new blanket attaching a piece of the old blankets that they shared. Their new blankets will be used in their new twin beds. They have a hard time sleeping so they reach for each other’s hand to hold as they fall asleep in their own beds for the first time. P.9, Q. 9.
Parish, Herman. Pictures by Lynne Avril. Amelia Bedelia’s first Valentine. ISBN: 978-0-06-154458-3. New York : Greenwillow Books, 2009. 1st ed.  p. $9.99 Gr. K – 2
Making special Valentines for her classmates and then leaving them on the bus almost ruins Amelia’s first Valentine’s Day party. Finding the deck of cards in her backpack saves the day as she makes new cards for her friends with the hearts. When her father gets home he gives her a sparkly bracelet with a tiny pink heart and they have the best family hug ever. P. 9, Q. 9
Kann, Victoria. Silverlicious. ISBN: 978-0-06-178123-0. New York : Harper, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $17.99. K-2.
Pinkalicious has lost her tooth, but not just any tooth, her sweet tooth. Now candy no longer tastes sweet. She writes a note to the tooth fairy asking her to send her something sweet to eat until her sweet tooth grows back. The tooth fairy is busy with other matters and sends some of her friends like Carlos Cupid, Edgar Easter Bunny and elf #351 instead to try and help Pinkalicious. The last letter to Pinkalicious from the tooth fairy reminds her that sweetness comes from within. The silver wrapped chocolate coins that are left with the letter finally taste silverlicious to her. Bright pink and red illustrations. P. 9, Q. 9.
Mandel, Peter. Illustrated By David Catrow. Jackhammer Sam. ISBN: 978-1-59643-034-1. New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $16.99. K-1.
Detailed color graphics take the reader into the world of Jackhammer Sam. Not only does he stop traffic and dig down to the subway, he sings his song. Through city streets to outer space Jackhammer Sam keeps moving along. P.8, Q. 8.
Singer, Marilyn. Illustrated By Alexandra Boiger. Tallulah’s tutu. ISBN: 978-0-547-17353-5. Boston : Clarion Books, 2011.  p. $16.99. K-3.
Tallulah knows that she will be a great ballerina she just needs a tutu. After her third day of ballet class she gets angry when her teacher tells her that she will have to waid awhile longer for her tutu. Tallulah decides to give up ballet if she can’t have a tutu. Everything around her reminds her of ballet. So she returns to class and eventually gets a red tutu that matches the blooming roses. This is a nice story about working hard to achieve a goal. P.9, Q.9.
Barner, Bob. Animal baths. ISBN: 978-1-45210056-2. San Francisco : Chronicle Books, 2011.  p. $15.99. K-2.
Illustrations rendered in cut paper, ribbon and pastel accompany the text about how different animals take a bath ending with a child in the tub. What animal will you be like in the tub? P. 8, Q. 8.
Hawkes, Kevin. The wicked big toddlah goes to New York. ISBN: 978-0-375-86188-8. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. 1st ed.  p. $16.99. Gr. K-2.
Toddie, a very large toddler is on a visit to New York City. Toddie is surprised at how big the city is. They go to Yankee Stadium and watch a ball game, and see Grand Central Station. When Toddie was helping a little who had lost her balloon he gets separated from his parents. He finds a dog that has also gotten lost. Together they play and eventually find the dog’s family, then Toddie climbs a building to find his parents. Reunited they go home to sleep in their own beds. P. 8, Q. 8.
Reviewed by M. M. 6th grader. Oceanlake Elementary
Barber, Tiki, Goal line. ISBN: 978-1-41699095-6. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011. 1st ed. 159 p. Gr. 5+. 15.99
This is the story of Ronde and Tiki Barber in High School. They play football on the school team and the team is undefeated so this season. Ronde gets taller that Tiki so he teases him about it and then everyone notices it. Tiki has a job as an advice writer for their school newspaper. The team mascot needs advice from Tiki but he does not want the whole school to know that it is his problem. At the end of the book Tiki is hitting his growth spurt to catch up with his brother. Football terms are defined in a section at the back of the book as well as information about Ronde and Tiki. This story is based on what really happened when Ronde and Tiki were kids. P. 8, Q 10.
Kirby, Stan. Illustrated by George O’Connor. Captain Awesome to the rescue! ISBN: 978-1-44243561-2 (pbk.) New York : Little Simon, 2012. 1st ed. 105 p. Gr. 1 – 3. $5.99.
A delightful story of Eugene a.k.a. Captain Awesome as he moves to a new town. Losing his cape is one thing but now his mom wants to talk about school, could Eugene’s day get any worse? Yep, here comes his archenemy Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby. Stepping into the first classroom that he finds to hide from the principal patrolling the hallway Eugene finds his new teacher Miss Beasley, his classmates and a new enemy Meredith Mooney. Thinking that Miss Beasley and Meredith are working together to get him to reveal his true identity as Captain Awesome, Eugene tells them nothing about himself. On the second day of school Eugene agrees to take care on the class hamster (Turbo) when he finds out that it would make Meredith very unhappy. In the cafeteria Eugene meets Charlie, another “Super Dude” comic book fan. Captain Awesome saves Turbo from two villains. On the way home from school Eugene’s new friend Charlie tells him that he too is a superhero, Nacho Cheese Man. They decide to become the “Sunnyview Superhero Squad.” Readers get a sneak peek into the next Captain Awesome Adventure. Large type accompanied by black and white illustration make this an easy to read
early chapter book. P. 9, Q. 9.
Coven, Wanda. Heidi Heckelbeck has a secret. ISBN: 978-1-44243565-0 (pbk.) New York : Little Simon, 2012. 1st ed. p.128. $4.99. Gr 1-3.
It was the first day of school ever for Heidi and her brother Henry. Heidi will be anew second grader at Brewster Elementary and she is not happy about it. At school she meets mean Melanie who gives her trouble all day. She also meets Lucy a new friend who helps her get through her day. When her mother picks her up from school she tells her about her awful day. Heidi’s little brother tries to help her get over her day and it gives Her an idea. She goes to her keepsake bos, takes out her spell book and her medallion to end this first book saying ¡§I.m Heidi Heckelbeck, and I’m a WITCH. A sneak peek at the next book starring Heidi is provided at end of this story. Large type as well as black and white graphics make this early chapter book reader friendly. P.9, Q.9.
McDonald, Megan. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. The mad, mad, mad, mad treasure hunt. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4351-5 (pbk.) Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2010. 1st pbk. ed. 114 p. : $6.99. Gr. 2-4.
Judy and her family are on their way to Ocracoke Island for vacation. While on the ferry Judy and her brother Stick find out that they will get to do a treassure hunt while on the island. Judy and Stick follow clues, collect sixteen pieces o’eight while trying not to lead other treasure hunters to the answers. They are declared the winners and collect the bounty, a shiny gold doubloon each and a ride on a real pirate ship which they share with another brother and sister team that was always right behind them during the reassure hunt. Colorful pictures and nice sized print make the an easy to read book. P. 9, Q. 9.
Kingsley, Kaza. The three Furies. ISBN: 978-1-41697990-6. New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010. 1st ed. 564 p. $16.99 Gr. 4+
King to be Eric Rex needs to finish twelve quests. While he is away his best friend Bethany is captured by Baskania, he believes she has the last information he need to learn the final magic which will allow him to take over the three kingdoms. Before Eric can finish his quests he needs to save Bethany. With the help from new friends and old Eric is successful in rescuing Bethany only to find that the world as they know it will end. The three Furies will soon be released from Tarturus by Baskania. If released they will take revenge on their sisters The Fates and human kind for being locked away for so long. Eric gets his next quest and thinks it is the end for him. Eric finishes the quest and it doesn’t turn out like he thought it would. Battling shadow demons, zombies, and gruesome monsters, finding the missing Clown Fairy, surviving the Nightmare Realm are only some of the things that Eric does during his quests to save the three kingdoms. P. 9, Q. 9.
Stewart, Melissa. Shark or dolphin? : how do you know? ISBN: 978-0-7660-3680-2 (lib. bdg.) Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow, 2011. 24 p. $ 15.95. Gr. K-3.
Words to know begin this book describing the differences between sharks and dolphins. Quick, easy to read facts accompany real photos of different species of sharks and dolphins. A listing of books and websites to learn more are present at the back of the text. Younger students will enjoy this book. P. 9, Q. 9.
Calkhoven, Laurie. Illustrated By Rebecca Zomchek. I grew up to be president. ISBN: 978-0-545-33152-4 (pbk.) New York : Scholastic, 2011. 1st ed. 96 p. $8.99. Gr. 3+.
A nice introduction leads into two pages of information about each president. Presidential information includes a fact file accompanied by a photo. George Washington to Barack H. Obama are represented in this book that talks about their childhood, how they grew up as well as the steps each of them took to become a U.S. President. The back of the book provides additional information on the three branches of government, how presidents are elected, a two page glossary, sources and websites for further learning. Good information for early or beginning report writing. P. 9, Q. 9.
Sawyer, Kem Knapp. The amazing Underground Railroad. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3951-3 Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Publishers, 2012. P 128. $23.95 Gr. 5+
This book takes the reader on a trip along the Underground Railroad. Along the way you meet many of the people involved in helping escaped slaves reach freedom. Explained is the process and the hardship that all involved when through. Maps of the routes used by runaway slaves show the distances that they had to go without being caught to reach freedom. The reader also learns about those that spoke out against slavery and had a hand in making slavery against the law. Pictures of the time period, a timeline, chapter notes, further reading, interned addresses
And an index finish this book. P. 9, Q. 9.
Wingard-Nelson, Rebecca. Multiplication and division. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3779-3 Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Publishers, 2011. 104 p. $23.95 Gr. 4+
Beginning with test taking tips , we move into step-by-step directions on the besics of multiplication and division with a bonus decimals and fraction section. Clear and easy to understand wording makes this a user friendly volume. Test-taking hints are present at each lesson. Clear explanations of steps to solve each problem about different math concepts makes learning math simplified. The book concludes with further reading suggestions, internet addresses and an index. Very well written math text that could easily be used with students to help them understand multiplication and division. P. 9, Q. 9.
Wilner, Barry. Tom Brady : a football star who cares. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3773-1. Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Elementary, 2011. 48 p. $17.95. Gr 3 – 4
Photos add to the text as you get to know quarterback Tom Brady in six easy to read chapters. Readers learn about his 16-0 season and how he makes a difference through charities for many people around the world. Career statistics are given through 2009 season. Many reference sources add to this title. Football fans will enjoy getting to know Tom Brady. This would be a good source for early biography report writing. P. 9, Q. 9.
LaBaff, Stephanie. Illustrated by Tom LaBaff. Draw pirates in 4 easy steps : then write a story. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3839-4. Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Publishers, 2012. 48 p. $17.95. Gr. 3+
Steps 1-4 guide you to drawing many things in this pirate themed drawing book. After being guided through your drawing, you need a story to go with it. Five easy steps to add a story to your drawings, story starters and brainstorming exercises help the reader with this. After you have gone step by step, drawn you pictures, written the story to accompany them, suggestions are given as to how to publish your book. To finish the book enjoy their pirate story before moving on to further reading, internet addresses and the index sections. A fun guided lesson in drawing and story writing. P. 9, Q. 9.
Wade, Mary Dodson. Amazing Olympic athlete Wilma Rudolph. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3282-8. Berkeley Heights, NJ : Enslow Elementary, 2010. 24 p. Gr. 3+
Learn about Wilma Rudolph with short easy to read information presented with photos during her life. Good source for early biography writing. A timeline, words to know and other learn more information is provided. P. 9, Q 9.
Norwich, Grace. Snake-a-phobia. ISBN: 978-0-545-27332-9. New York : Scholastic, 2011. 48 p. $5.99. K+
Colorful photos take the reader into the world on snakes. Complete with a table of contents, an
introduction, two snake tests and a glossary, this book tells about many different species of snakes. Throughout the book is the fear-o-meter gauging how scary certain parts of a snake are to people. The information is presented in a reader friendly format inviting learning all about snakes. Key words are highlighted before they are defined. P. 9, Q. 9.
Galdone, Paul. The three billy goats Gruff : a folk tale classic. ISBN: 978-0-547-57655-8. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.  p. $8.99 Gr. K-2
Each taking their turn from smallest to largest the three Billy Goats Gruff go across the bridge to the green grass of the meadow to get fat, only to encounter the mean ugly troll. The largest Billy Goat Gruff pushes the troll into the rushing river never to bother them again.p.9, Q. 9.
Galdone, Paul. The gingerbread boy : a folk tale classic. ISBN: 978-0-547-59940-3. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011.  p. $8.99. Gr. K-2.
Nice graphics tell the classic story of the gingerbread boy running first from the little old man and woman, then the cow, horse and various other through the story. Each new threat to the Gingerbread Boy building on the last as he finally gets to the river and is fooled by the fox to become the fox’s lunch. P.9, Q. 9.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by M.D.
Cooper, Ilene “Angel in My Pocket”, Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2010, $16.99, 978-0-312-37014-5. Middle school. 278 pgs. P7/Q7
This is a fictional story about Bette a 7th grader who finds an angel coin. The coin finds it’s way to three other friends and they also learn to deal with major loss and believe in themselves. It took me awhile to connect and get into the story. I’m afraid some students would not stick with the story till the end.
Goossens- Lenniscatt, Jesse “Right to Play, every child has the right to play.” Lenniscatt LLC, New York. 2011, 978-1-935954-10-1. Middle School to Adult. 142 pgs. P8/Q8
This is a beautiful paperback book full of bright vibrant photos of children all over the world playing. Johann Olar Koss an Olympian from Norway started the Right to Play foundation which provides sports, equipment, training, and supervision to spread the importance of play in children’s lives. The book features different countries with fact blocks, games and photos. This would be a great book for history, physical education, photography and geography classes and teachers.
Lowry, Lois. “Dear America The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce…Like the Willow Tree,,Portland Maine, 1918.” Scholastic. Inc., New York. 2011, 978-0-545-14469-8. Upper elementary and middle school. 218 pgs. P8/Q8.
This is one of Dear America series book about a girl and her brother who are taken in by the Shakers after her parents die from the Spanish flu. The book is written in journal format with Lydia’s thoughts and feelings. I enjoy reading historical fiction and this book also has a Life in America in 1918 section that explains details about the Spanish influenza and the Shakers. It also has a section of black and white photos from this time in history.
C.S.- Siletz Public Library
Kenney, Sean. Cool City. Henry Holt and Company, 2011. $12.99. ISBN 9780805087628. 32 pgs.
Basically, this is a book showing kids how to build buildings and city-related objects out of Legos. The pictures are clear and colorful, and the diagrams should be easy to follow. I think Lego obsessed kids will love this book. P9Q8
Beskow, Elsa. Princess Sylvie. Floris Books, 2011 (English Version). $17.95. ISBN 9780863158131. Unp. Ages 4-6.
This is a cute fairy tale, originally published in Sweden in 1934, about Princess Sylvie, her dog
Oskar, and the king and their adventure in the woods where they meet a nice bear. There wasn’t
anything very unusual in this story, but it’s a sweet one that younger kids will like. The illustrations are simple, gentle watercolors.
Cox, Judy. Jeffrey Ebbeler, ill. Haunted House, Haunted Mouse. Holiday House, 2011. ISBN 9780823423156. Unp. Ages 4-6.
Mouse is jealous of the treats the local kids are getting Trick or Treating, so he tags along. His adventure turns out to be scarier than he planned, but he does end up with plenty of candy for himself. The illustrations are interesting but a little “busy”. P8Q8
Levy, Joel. Phobiapedia. Scholastic, 2011. $8.99. ISBN 9780545349291. 80pgs. Ages 8-12. This book is sure to be popular with middle age kids. It explores a long list of phobias. There’s a quick reference list at the beginning of phobia names and definitions, then a more thorough exploration of a shorter list. The pictures are clear. This is a good general book on the subject. P9Q8
Berk, Ari. Death Watch. Simon & Schuster, 2011. $17.99. ISBN 9781416991151. 523 pgs. Ages: 12+.
Deathwatch is an incredibly atmospheric book- it’s gothic, dark, eerie, and beautifully written. Silas Umber is the main character, and he struggles to follow in his missing father’s footsteps as an “undertaker,” someone who helps to ease the passage of the dead out of this life. The book delves deeply into the history of a small town, and looks at its inhabitants, both living and dead, and plays with the folklore of ghosts and death. The destructive power of unresolved grief is a huge theme, along with and the importance of ritual and remembering the dead. You would think a book like this would be depressing, but it has subtle humor and leaves you wanting more. P8Q9
Osborne, Mary Pope, Abe Lincoln at last, illustrated by Sal Murdocca, Random House, New York, 2011, 114 pgs. $12.99, ISBN:978-375-86825-2, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
Jack and Annie are still on a quest to free Merlin’s baby penguin, Penny who has been turned into stone. They have to gather all the magical items that are needed in order to free her from the spell that Jack did wrong. This time they are leaving Frog Creek, Pennsylvania and traveling back in time to the year 1861. They have to collect a magic feather from Abraham Lincoln. When they land they don’t encounter President Lincoln right away, it is his two young sons Tad and Willie that they meet. Entering the White House, which was open to the public at this time, Annie and Jack soon realize that it will be hard to see the President. With the Civil War raging and a nation to run when will he have time to see two kids, Jack and Annie? When Tad and Willie tell their father about the two he acts if he already knows them. Another trip in the magic tree house takes Jack and Annie back in time where they meet Abe Lincoln as a young man. This was a story that I enjoyed what with the two time shifts and then being able to visualize
Abe Lincoln as a father and not just the president made the story more personal. The illustrations by Sal Murdocca are black and white and help the reader to see Abraham as a father and as a president.
Rose, Caroline, May B, Schwart & Wade Books, New York, 2012, 231 pgs. $15.99. ISBN:978-1-58246-393-3, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,
May B and her family live together in a sod house on the prairies of Kansas. They are so poor that they have had to sell May B’s services to another family living in a sod house further away. Her father promises that he will be back to pick her up at Christmas. May B, only wants to return to school so she can continue to learn. She suffers from dyslexia, a disability that was not recognized at this time, making it hard for her to read. What May B faces is a very withdrawn unhappy bride, Mrs. Oblinger, who comes from a rich family and is unable to stand the prairie. When Mrs. Oblinger disappears one day and leaves a note saying she won’t be back Mr. Oblinger takes off after her. May B, is left behind and must fend for herself living on the rations left behind for the next four months. She faces shortages of food, howling wolves, and severe snow blizzards. The story is written in free verse which shows the grit and determination of a young girl trying to survive at all costs.
Saunders, Kate, Beswitched, Delacorte Press, New York, 2010, 244 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:978-0-385-74075-3, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,
Flora Fox, is twelve years-old the year that she is told that for one term of her school year she will have to attend a posh boarding school. She rants and raves about how her grandmother is ruining everything. Why should her father have to take care of him after she had run off and left him when he was little boy? They don’t owe her anything! To Italy her parents go and off on a train Flora goes. Flora gets more than she ever expected, a trip into the past to the year 1935. She has been summoned by three girls from the past to the boarding school, Saint Winifred’s, in England. Flora faces a world of no cell phones, computers, not even a curling iron and Saint Winifred’s, which is certainly no posh boarding school. Flora, is stuck in 1935 until she is able to right a wrong. She just has to figure out who and what it is.
Shahan, Sherry, Ice Island, Delacorte Press, New York, 2012, 168 pgs. $15.99, ISBN:978-0-385-74154-5, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
The end of the Iditarod dog sled race is where Tatum, who lives in Alaska with her mother and father, awaits her friend Beryl’s team to cross the finish line. It is also Tatum’s dream to one day be one of the participants in the Iditarod dog race. Beryl comes in twenty-third and gives Tatum one of her dogs Bandit. Now will Tatum’s dream come true? It might, if she can just get her mother to agree to let her keep Bandit. When Beryl leaves it looks like she has no other recourse but to keep Bandit. Tatum and her mother are asked to care for a hotel on Santa Ysablel Island and must take Bandit with them. Here Tatum meets 15 year-old Cole, a native of the Island, who also has a dog sled. Cole asks Tatum to go on a training run with him and they encounter a surprising blizzard. Tatum has to rely on all she has learned in order to survive and to get help for Cole whom she has had to leave behind.
Ward, David, Between two ends, Amulet Books, New York, 2011, 288 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:978-0-8109-9714-1, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,
Twelve year-old, Yeat Tafford and his parents, Grace and Dr. William Tafford are on their way to his Grandmother’s house. This is a trip that they have not gone on very often and one where Yeats’ parents keep warning him not to touch anything in the house. Better yet don’t go into any of the rooms alone. Yeat’s father and mother are on the verge of a divorce and going home to grandma’s house to help his father. Here he should be able to come to terms with what is causing him to be so depressed. Finding two magical pirate book ends Yeats is able to enter another world that is based on the story of The Arabian Nights He must find Shaharazad, who is really Shari his father’s friend who was left behind 20 years ago by his father. The quilt of leaving Shari behind is what is causing his father’s depression. Complicating the matter is that Shari no longer remembers who she is. The longer that you stay in the story world the more your
memories start to fade away. It is up to Yeat to rescue her and bring her back to the present. This is a story within a story that has many plot twists but is a fast paced magical adventure that will appeal to both middle and high school age students.
Kostecki-Shaw, Jenny, and Ward, April Same, same but different, Christy Ottavino Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2011, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-8050-8946-2, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q8,
Elliot lives in the United States and his pen-pal Kailask lives in India. Through a series of pictures and very simple letters they are able to see that things are different in their countries but also the same. The artists used several different mediums in the illustrations of this book. Acrylics, crayon, pencil, collage, and tissue paper were all used to show how each of the two boys lives were the same but also different. This would be a great book to read aloud to an elementary class that was going to write pen pal letters.
Marley, Cedella, One Love, Based on the song by Bob Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2011, unp, $16.99, ISBN:978-4521-0224-5, Gr. 1+, P 8, Q 8,
I have a friend who loves Bo Marley’s music and I just had to review this book that is based on one of his favorite songs. Through a series of brightly colored, mixed media and digitally produced illustrations a young girl flows from page to page gathering all together in a park to celebrate.
Sierra, Judy, Suppose you meet a dinosaur: a first book of manners, illustrated by Tim Bowers, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2012, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-375-86720-0, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
What is a small girl to do when she meets a clumsy green “dinosaur?” She of course is polite and says hello. The little girl dreams of different scenarios where she can be polite and helpful to the dinosaur. The illustrations done in acrylic paint on bristol board are of a large green near sighted clumsy dinosaur that will make the kids laugh.
Shaw, Hannah, School for bandits, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2011, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-375-86768-2, Gr. 1+, P 8, Q 7,
What are concerned raccoon parents to do when one of their offspring, Ralph, is just too good. They decide that they must send him to Bandit School where he can learn to be a bad raccoon. At Bandit School he fails to impress his teacher, Mrs. Mischief, when he fails to take something without asking. When a class competition for who will be the Best Bandit in school, to be based on filling their sack with the most loot, Ralph just knows he will be the loser. Through a series of good deeds Ralph’s pack is soon filled with things from the grateful people he has helped and is the winner or the contest. When the other raccoons learn he has won they are just a little jealous and want to know how he did. His reply is you just have to say “Please” first. The bandit school’s rules are soon replaced by Ralph’s good manners rules. The illustrations are a combination of the use of pen and ink and printmaking and Photoshop that are bright and so detailed that they will appeal to younger readers.
Tillman, The crown on your head, Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2011, unp, $16.99, ISBN:978-0-312-64521-2, Gr. 1+, P 8, Q 9,
A rhyming text carries a message to all children that we as parents know that they each of them is magnificent. A glowing crown upon his head stays with him as he grows and comes to symbolize that all you have to do is believe and your crown will keep shining. The final line “That’s why at night, when I put you to bed, I’m careful to kiss the crown of your head.” Makes me feel this is a book that you read to your child at bedtime. I know that it can be read at any time but it seems more fitting for night or napping time. The illustrations are vivid bright primary colors, that are sometimes muted, that showcase a baby boy who grows up in an amazing world where dreams know no bounds.
Winter, Jonah, Steel Town, illustrated by Terry Widener, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-1-4169-4081-4, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
A detailed look in a 1930’s steel town using free verse to describe the night shifts different jobs. The day shift leaves and the night shift takes their places, working first with coal you are able to see each job that is needed in the process make steel. The author writes “In steel town, it’s always dark and the street-lamps are always lit.” The illustrator, Terry Widener used acrylic on paper and dark colors set against the extremely hot glowing fires lets every one see the men laboring through each job as they make steel.
Janeczko, Paul, Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto, Candlewick Press, Melrose Park, IL, 2011, 102 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-4727-8, Gr. 9+, P 7, Q 9,
The horrors of the Holocaust, many which I can’t imagine, are told through each of the poems in this book. You are able to feel the depths of the despair that people went through. It is the muddy black and white illustrations that really help the reader to see the horrors that people
faced in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp.
Osborne, Mary Pope, & Boyce, Natalie Pope, Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Sal Murdocca, Random House, New York, 2011, 117 pgs, index, $5.99, ISBN:978-0-375-87024-8, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
Having read Abe Lincoln at last I know that Jack and Annie had many questions that they wanted to ask. This nonfiction companion to the book does just that. From his early life on the frontier to his becoming President of the United States all are delved into. The illustrations again by Sal Murdocca are black and white detailed drawings showing Abe as a young boy growing up in a log cabin and to his entering the White House as president. They greatly add to the understanding of how a poor boy, Abe grew up to be a president.
Richard, Lucky 13 survival in space, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2008, unp. $16.95, ISBN:978-1-59078-557-7, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
I was in high school in 1970, the year that Apollo 13 was to go to the moon. I always loved to watch the rockets blasting off against a clear blue sky. This flight however was different from the others as an explosion happened that caused damage to the craft. The three astronauts aboard and the ground crew had to figure out how they could save the astronaut’s life. There are two stories in this book, one that could read aloud to a class and the other in the side bars of the book which gives a much more detailed story. Hilliard is also the artist and he uses a double page spread that are acrylic paintings that show large scale pictures of the Apollo 13’s journey in space. He has also used smaller ones to accompany the side board story as well.
L.R. for Siletz Library
Stiefvater, Maggie. Linger. Scholastic Press, 2010, 360 pgs. Ages 15-18. ISBN 9780545123280 $17.99 P8Q5
Written from the perspective of several current or former teenage werewolves with no vampires in sight, this book does have an unusual plot. It is the sequel to a book called Shiver, and it takes quite a while to put the pieces together to understand what has gone before. I would definitely recommend that the reader get the first one first! Each chapter is a different teenage character’s narrative. They are all rebellious, searching and oh, yes, SUFFERING. They all seem to have a problem with the adults in their lives and yet, the author doesn’t give us too many clues of why the adults are so clueless. (Except for one father who hunts the wolves in the woods who are the friends of the teens. Now, that is not nice!) In spite of the skewed perspective, the story moves along with some sexy and violent salacious events. The cover is quite beautiful and the typeface is green, so it is an attractive book, contributing to its popularity quotient.
Scieszka, Jon, ed. Guys Read: Thriller. Il. Brett Helquist. HarperCollins Publishers, 2011, 272 pgs. Ages 8-12. ISBN 9780061963766 $16.99 P9 Q9
Jon Scieszka came up with a brilliant concept in the Guys Read series. This is volume 2 and includes short stories of mystery and intrigue, written by best known authors such as Patrick Carman, James Patterson, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and of course, illustrated by Brett Helquist. The stories all involve middle school-age boys doing fairly typical guy-stuff. Most of them are light-hearted and some are comic. Others are serious and inspire reflection, such as Walter Dean Myer’s Pirate about a young Somalian pirate who is not sure of why he has to board foreign boats with a gun, except that these foreign vessels are taking the fish and leaving the local fishing families hungry. Sometimes the ships aren’t fishing, but are polluting the waters, causing the fish and gulls to die. Mature beyond his years, he ponders that “I don’t know if there is a right thing that fits everybody.” Of course, girls will enjoy this book, too, and who knows? They may gain some insight into the minds and hearts of pre-teen boys!
Muller, Gerda. Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Floris Books, 2011, unpgd. Ages 2-6. ISBN 9780863157950 $17.95 P9 Q10
If your library doesn’t seem to have a copy of Goldilocks, or even if it does, you should buy this book for the collection. It is a beautifully illustrated book with a bit of a kinder, gentler slant to the old favorite. The little golden-haired girl lives with her dad and mum in a trailer (caravan) that travels around with the circus. Goldilocks strays from the path while picking flowers and ends up at a house that looks like it was designed by LL Bean. Everything happens just as in the old tale, but as the little girl is running away from the house, the baby bear offers her more porridge and the parent bears call after her with rules of etiquette. It is not a frightening experience, but Goldilocks remembers her manners for ever after.
Rayner, Catherine. Solomon Crocodile. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011, unpgd. Ages 2-5. ISBN9780374380649 $15.99 P10 Q10
This book is beautiful inside and out. The cover, with its mischievous looking young crocodile, gold flecked skin and gold title will draw young lap sitters right in. And who could resist a little tease on the front cover: “Uh-oh, here comes trouble!” Inside are more simple, but attractive pen and ink and watercolor drawings depicting Solomon’s adventures by the river. The illustrations are big enough to be a wonderful story time book and the text will be great fun to read aloud. This is a must buy for every library!
Carle, Eric. Tom Thumb. Scholastic, Inc., 2011, (special portions published earlier by Orchard Books) unpgd. Ages 6-9. ISBN 9780545270090 $17.99 P9 Q10
Eric Carle retells and illustrates four of the longer Grimm’s fairy tales in this version, just republished. The stories of “Tom Thumb, “The Fisherman and His Wife,” “Hans in Luck” and “The Seven Swabians” are recounted with joy and zest. The illustrations, simple as they are convey a sly humor into the stories that make them a delight to read for both children and adults. If your library does not have any of the previous versions of Carle’s Grimms’ Tales, you need to buy this one.
First Thursday Book Reviews / February 2012—JC
Buzzeo, Toni ; pictures by David Small. One cool friend. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780803734135 Ages 4-6. P7Q8
Dapper in his black suit and bowtie, Elliot is enthralled by the penguins at the local aquarium and asks his father if he may have one. When his father says, “Yes,” calm, cool hilarity ensues.
Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys cool kids and penguins—also for preschool and public library collections.
Don, Lari, with Nicola O’Byrne. How to make a heron happy. “Picture Kelpies.” Floris Books, 2011. Unpaged. $11.95 ISBN 9780863158049 (pbk.) Ages 3-6. P6Q7
Young Hamish worries that the heron in the park always looks grumpy. His strategies for making the heron happy range from feeding the tall bird to cleaning up the park and stream. Everyone in the neighborhood likes the changes to the park. Why does the heron still look grumpy? Simple, realistic illustrations contribute to this amusing environmental fable. Recommended for preschool and public library collections.
Ernst, Lisa Campbell. The gingerbread girl goes animal crackers. Dutton Children’s Books, 2011. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780525422594 Ages 4-6. P7Q6
In this sequel to Ernst’s 2006 Gingerbread Girl, a birthday present brings the intrepid gingerbread girl new friends—a box of animal crackers. Unfortunately, the wild animal crackers leap from their box into a stampede that brings them into the clutches of the well-known, very hungry fox. Though text-heavy, the story includes a refrain that will engage story time listeners. Recommended for kindergarten and public library collections.
Juan, Ana. The pet shop revolution. “Arthur A. Levine books.” Scholastic, 2011. Unpaged. $17.99 ISBN 9780545128100 Ages 4-7. PQ8
When Mina’s pet rabbit disappears, she fears that Mr. Walnut, who might be the meanest pet shop owner in the world, has her. With the help of the delivery boy, Bobo, Mina frees the caged animals, leaving Mr. Walnut alone in his shop, without his toupee, afraid of ridicule should he show his bald head in the town. As time passes, Mr. Walnut, with the help of the free pets, creates toy animals, changing from a frightful tyrant to a creative—even cheerful—man. This odd fable goes from the dark, depressing shadows of the cruel pet shop to the whimsical bright colors of the toy factory. The grotesque and exaggerated style of illustration and the contrast between light and dark will appeal to young readers and listeners as goodness triumphs over evil once again. Recommended for preschool, elementary, and public library collections.
McGhee, Alison ; with illustrations by Marc Rosenthal. Making a friend. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9781416989981 Ages 3-6. P7Q8
A book with deceptively simple, almost old-fashioned illustrations and spare text gives the story of a lonely child who builds a snowman and creates a friend. Through the changing seasons, the child searches out the missing snowman, who comes again with the winter’s snow. As the repeated text says, “What you love will always be with you.” Children will enjoy the title pun. Suggested for preschool and public library collections.
McKay, Elizabeth ; Maria Bogade. Wee Granny’s magic bag. “Picture Kelpies.” Floris Books, 2011. Unpaged. $11.95 ISBN 9780863158445 (pbk.) Ages 4-7. P7Q8
When Wee Granny takes Emily and Harry to the park, they find everything—everything!—they need for the day’s activities in her small, tartan bag. The unhurried pacing and cheerful watercolor illustrations will make this very funny story a hit at story times. One review suggested putting on a Scottish accent to add to the atmosphere. Recommended for preschool and public library collections.
Alexander, Elizabeth ; illustrated by David Diaz. Praise song for the day : a poem for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration. “Katherine Tegen books.” HarperCollins, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780061926631 Ages 3-up. P6Q7
David Diaz’s intricately detailed and brilliantly colored artwork brings the story of a mother and son to life, accompanying the words of Elizabeth Alexander’s poem commissioned to honor the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The blank verse poem, by the co¬author of Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies, is important only for the commemoration of an historic occasion; without the powerful illustrations it lacks emphasis, persuasive imagery, or power. Recommended as a supplemental purchase for school and public library poetry collections.
Chin, Jason. Coral reefs. “A Neal Porter book.” Roaring Brook Press, 2011. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9781596435636 Ages 6-9. P7Q8
Jason Chin writes nonfiction texts about interesting topics and combines them with fantastic
illustrations that bring the information to life. Coral Reefs continues the trend begun in Chin’s earlier work, Redwoods. Though the text speaks of coral polyps and the ecology that depends upon the reefs they create, the illustrations show a girl reading, with more and more sea creatures washing into the reading rooms and hallways of the venerable library where she wanders. The author’s note suggests books and web sites for further study. Endpapers are decorated with line drawings of common coral reef inhabitants. Highly recommended for elementary and public library collections.
Kamkwamba, William and Bryan Mealer ; pictures by Elizabeth Zunon. The boy who harnessed the wind. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780803735118 Ages 4-7. P7Q7
As a fourteen year old boy in drought-stricken Malawi, William Kamkwamba found his way to a library and taught himself the basics of electrical engineering. Then, he salvaged metal scraps, parts of a bicycle, and old electric motors and created a functional windmill to bring electricity and water to his starving village. This inspiring autobiographical work, enlivened with cut paper and oil paint illustrations, shows that people of any age can make a positive difference in the world. Highly recommended for kindergarten, elementary, and public library collections.
Sallas, Laura Purdie ; illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. BookSpeak! : poems about books. “Clarion Books.” Houghton Miffliin Harcourt, 2011. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780547223001 Ages 7-10. P7Q7
A collection of twenty-one poems written in various styles, cheerfully illustrated with collages¸
drawings, and computer-generated montages, celebrates books, reading, and writing. Unfortunately, several of the poems do not follow their own meter. This is a well-meaning attempt, that almost, but not quite, achieves poetry. Recommended only for collections with an emphasis on illustrated poetry.
Wood, Douglas ; illustrated by Barry Moser. Franklin and Winston : a Christmas that changed the world. Includes bibliographic references. Candlewick Press, 2011. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780767333837 Ages 7-10. P6Q8
In 1941, in the middle of a world war, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill braved the icy North Atlantic for a month-long Christmas visit with American President Franklin Roosevelt. Using quotations from both world leaders and pictures of places and incidents of the visit, Wood and Moser introduce a new generation to the history and people of World War II. (I particularly enjoyed the picture of Churchill surprised as he climbed out of his bath.) Recommended for elementary and public library collections.
Young adult fiction
Pierce, Tamora. Mastiff : a Tortall legend. “Beka Cooper, book three.” Random House, 2011. 593 p. $18.99 ISBN 9780375814709 Ages 14-up. P7Q7
Beka Cooper, able to hear the ghosts that ride on the backs of pigeons, keeper of the scent hound
Achoo, and now trained police officer, takes on a secret Hunt for the kidnapped heir to the kingdom of Tortall. This quasi-medieval police procedural leaves no doubt that dealing with lawbreakers is gritty, dangerous, tiring work, even when assisted by magic and divine beings. As the third book in a trilogy, it requires a few leaps to guess at the character development and experiences that appeared in previous volumes, but fans of Tamora Pierce will be happy for the opportunity to read this new title. Highly recommended for middle, high school and public libraries who should also have the previous titles in this series. (And, for those libraries lacking the previous titles, I recommend that they be purchased.)
Picture Books[Reviewer no named]
Arnosky, Jim. At this very moment. ISBN: 978-0-525-42252-5 New York : Dutton Children’s Books, 2011.  p. $16.99 Gr. K – 3
Colorful illustrations accompany rhyming verse that invites the reader to think about all the things globally happening at the same time. From the things you do when you get up to going to sleep at night the story connects things that happen in the animal kingdom at the same time.
P.9, Q. 9.
Chabon, Michael. Illustrated by Jake Parker. The astonishing secret of Awesome Man. ISBN: 978-0-06-191462-1. New York : Balzer + Bray, 2011.  p. Gr. K – 3
Awesome man has a secret grip to crush things, he can fly as high as a satellite and shoot positronic rays out of his eyeballs to fight off giant killer robots. His sidekick is his dog Moskowitz and together they fight evil when are not using the secret identity as a kid to hide from his enemies. P. 8, Q. 8.
Roode, Daniel. Little Bea and the snowy day. ISBN: 978-0-06-199395-4. New York : Greenwillow Books, 2012.  p. $12.99. GR. K -1.
Join little Bea and her friends for a day in the snow. They make snow angels, skate on the ice, and sled before stopping for hot chocolate. Together they make a new friend, a snow bear then it is time to say goodbye till tomorrow. Simple story with colorful illustrations. P. 8, Q. 8
Blake, Robert J. Painter and Ugly. ISBN: 978-0-399-24323-3. New York : Philomel Books, 2011.  p. $16.99. Gr. K – 3
Painter and Ugly are sled dogs and best friends and always together until they are sold to different owners. Each dog participates in the junior Iditarod where they find each other again.
Together they race side by side and cross the finish line at exactly the same time. P.9,Q.9.
Watkins, Angela Farris. Illustrated by. Eric Velasquez. My Uncle Martin’s words of love for America : Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece tells how he made a difference. ISBN: 978-1-41970022-4. New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011. 39 p. $19.95 Gr. K – 3.
The author reminds us of the importance and meaning of words spoken by her uncle Martin Luther King Jr. The reader learns how King used words focusing on love and peace to fight for civil rights. Complete with a timeline, glossary, author’s note, artist’s note, index and other related book suggestions this book is a good introduction to Martin Luther King Jr. and his message. P. 9, Q. 9.
Toft, Di. Wolven: The twilight circus. ISBN: 978-0-545-29492-8. New York. Chicken House, 2011. 372 p. $17.99. Gr. 4 +
After surviving an attack by mutant werewolves and a mad scientist Nat Carver and Woody join Nat’s grandfather’s twilight circus as it is moving south for the winter. The twilight circus is made up of many beings of myth and legend. Upon reaching the town of Salinas they find that some unsettling events have been taking place in the nearby towns. Children have gone missing and cattle have been killed. Suspecting vampire activity agent Alexandria Fish is sent to watch over Nat and Woody and to eliminate any threats to their survival. Woody is a shape shifting Wolven from the Kings clan and hopes to find the rest of his clan while in Salinas if there are any survivors. Agent Fish, Nat, Woody along with his new found clan and others from the Twilight Circus find and eliminate the vampires. The missing children are found and returned to their parents. Nat and Woody know that their real enemy however has not been found and will again try to kill them. P. 9, Q.9
Jacobson, Jennifer, Small as an elephant. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4155-9. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2011. 275 p. $15.99. Gr. 5 – 8.
Eleven year old Jack and his mother are spending Labor Day weekend in Arcadia National Park however when Jack wakes up the first morning his mother and all her things are gone. Jack’s world is turned upside down as days go by and his mother does not return. Jack knows how to take care of himself when his mother has her “spinning time” when he is at home but he is miles away from home and must use his head and all his survival skills to figure out how to get himself home without being caught. Jack thinks that if he is caught and does not have a good excuse as to where his mother is DSS will take him away and that he will have to go live with his grandmother. Jack does not want this to happen. Jack loves everything about elephants and before he leaves the park he wants to visit the elephant that lives there and gives people rides. With the help of an unknown ally Jack makes it to see the elephant where he finds his grandmother waiting for him. They have a nice talk about what to do and Jack gets to visit
with the elephant before what Jack thought would be the end but now feels like the middle of a journey that started long ago and now is in its next leg. P. 9, Q 9.
Mills, Claudia. Illustrated By Guy Francis. Mason Dixon : basketball disasters. ISBN: 978-0-375-86875-7. New York : Knopf, 2012. 167 p. Gr. 3 – 6. $12.99.
Mason does not like sports but finds himself talked into playing basketball by his best friend Brody. Mason just knows that it is going to be a disaster. Things get worse when at the first meeting Mason’s dad ( who doesn’t know anything about basketball) becomes his teams coach. If the first practice tells anything about the season, Mason’s team will be lucky to make it through. Practices and games at first go just as Mason thought they would, not so good. The team gets the addition of a few more players and their skills steadily improve as do Mason’s feeling about playing a team sport. By the last game of the season and after having to sit out one because of an injury Mason is ready to win. His team does win when they are reminded not to play as individuals but as a team. A well written story about a boy overcoming his fear of sports looking forward to the next season. P. 8, Q, 8.
Morse, Scott. Magic Pickle and the garden of evil. ISBN: 978-0-545-13580-1. New York : Graphix, 2009. 136 p. $5.99.Gr. 3 – 6.
Jo Jo Wigman has a secret, her bedroom sits over the super secret lab of government scientist Dr. Jekyll Formaldehyde. One day when he was working to create a special agent the pickle from his lunch landed in the experiment and Magic Pickle was created. Jo Jo and Magic Pickle work together to fight The Brotherhood of Evil Produce. Magic Pickle can’t resist a game of checkers so Jo Jo uses this to her advantage when she wants something she tempts Magic Pickle into a game to win whatever it is that she wants. As a class project Jo Jo and her classmates are going to grow a vegetable garden. Working together with two classmates Jo Jo adds some super
growing formula to the seeds that they plant. They accidently re grow one of the Brotherhood of Evil Produce, Romaine Gladiator, but together Jo Jo and Magic Pickle figure out how to once again get rid of him. Readers will enjoy the black and white graphics that accompany this good against evil story. P.9, Q.9.
Yep, Laurence, The star maker. ISBN: 978-0-06-025315-8. New York : Harper, 2011. 1st ed. 100 p. $15.99. Gr. 3-5.
Being the youngest and smallest in the family made it very hard for Artie. He was always getting teased by his older cousin Petey. His Uncle Chester, like him, was also the youngest in his generation. Uncle Chester and Artie get along great and do many things together. Artie having been pushed too far at a family gathering by Petey made a promise to his family that he would have fireworks to give them all during Chinese New Year. Artie did not know how he was going to fulfill this promise until Uncle Chester said that he would help. This is a story about a family living in Chinatown, helping one another during hard times and celebrating the New Year together with the promised fireworks and a lesson learned. P. 9, Q. 9.
Blume, Lesley M. M. Illustrated by David Foote. Modern fairies, dwarves, goblins & other nasties : a practical guide. ISBN: 978-0-375-86203-8. New York : Knopf, 2010. 1st ed. 245 p. :$16.99. Gr. 3 – 6.
This guide will give you all the information to live in harmony with all the Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and others that live around us all the time. Some humans are able to see them on a daily basis but most of us are unaware. This book will tell you all what you need to know to protect yourself from some of the more nasty fairies. The eight tales will give you information about when the two worlds come together, not always do good things happen. This is an entertaining book that might have you questioning, What If? P. 9, Q. 9.
Anderson, M. T. Zombie mommy. ISBN: 978-1-41698641-6. New York : Beach Lane Books, 2011. 1st ed. 220 p. $16.99 Gr. 5+ $16.99
Lilly and her friends are characters in a book and they have many adventures together. Lily’s mother however does not like the outcome for the mothers in their stories. She becomes very worried that she is going to end up dead, so she decides to take a short vacation to the most undead place she can find. Todburg is her destination, where the living operate the town by day and the undead rule it by night. While at the theater one evening she is taken over by the ghost of a Russian movie star and returns home to Lily a whole new person. Lily knows something is wrong and asks her friends to help find out what. They solve the mystery when they visit Todburg and find a way to return Lily’s mother to normal. At times during the story the writer talks to the reader explaining different ways of writing a story interrupting the zombie action throughout this book. P. 8, Q. 8.
Graff, Keir. The Other Felix. ISBN: 978-1-59643-655-8. New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2011. 169 p. $16.99. Gr 3 – 6.
Felix is a fourth grader worried about the bully at school and that his father may lose his job, has
nightmares about a monster filled world that he visits each night when he goes to sleep. One night in Felix’s dream world he meets someone familiar, the Other Felix. The Other Felix shows him many things about being a strong independent person. Through his dream world Felix learns how to deal with the bully and becomes a more confident person. Felix becomes friends with the monsters and shows the Other Felix how to be friends with them too. Soon Felix no longer visits the dream world. Felix’s father does lose his job and decides to pick Felix up early from school and spend the day together at the zoo. They reassure each other that things will be o.k. P.8, Q. 8.
McDonald, Megan. Stink and the world’s worst super-stinky sneakers. ISBN: 978-0-7636-3669-2 (pbk.) Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2008. 130.p $4.99
Stink has the best day ever, his class goes on a field trip to the smelliest place on earth, the Gross-Me-Out exhibit at the science museum. While at the museum Stink finds out that he has the best nose in the entire class, he can identify all the smells in the Everybody Stinks exhibit. When the class leaves the museum they are given information about a contest to find the worse smelling sneakers around. Stink just knows that his sneakers are the worst. His sister Judy almost ruins his chances when she powders his sneakers but by the next morning the sneakers were back to normal, very stinky. When Stink gets to the smelly sneaker contest he is told that one of the judges is sick and that the contest will have to be cancelled. Stink’s teacher suggests that Stink fill in because of his unique smelling ability. Stink becomes a judge and meets a professional smeller, his friend wins the sneaker contest. Readers will enjoy this stink adventure with Stink Moody. P. 9. Q. 9.
Lincoln, Christopher, Billy Bones, The Road to Nevermore. ISBN: 978-0-316-01475-5. New York : Little, Brown, 2009. 1st ed. 198 p. Gr. 3 – 6. $10.99.
The afterlife comes alive when Billy Bones has to travel to the hidden world of Nevermore when his cousin Millicent and his uncle Grim are captured by the maker of Nevermore, Shadewick Gloom. Billy and Millicent want to travel but Nevermore was not what they had in mind. Billy must first find his grandfather Pete who will help rescue Millicent and uncle Grim. With golden wishes (so they can wish themselves back) they go to Nevermore but things do not go as smoothly as they thought it would Shadewick is there to stop them. Using Shadewick’s rules for Nevermore against him Billy, Millicent, uncle Grim and grandpa Pete have him arrested and free the rest of the prisoners in Nevermore which included the missing council members. When they return from Nevermore all is restored to normal by the council. P.9.Q. 9
Klise, Kate. Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. Till death do us bark. ISBN: 978-0-547-40036-5 Boston : Harcourt, 2011. 109 p. Gr. 3 – 4 $15.99
When Secret follows Seymour home from the library one day everyone’s lives get turned upside down. Secret is a dog that uses to belong to Noah Breth who just passed away and whose children have been fighting for years and are now fighting over his fortune. Before Noah passed he turned his fortune into valuable coins and hid them for people in his community to find. Seymore is the adoptive son to Igantius B. Grumply and Olive D. Spence, together they write and illustrate a serialized ghost story. When Seymore runs away with Secret because he thinks that he is not being a very good son and Secret will not stop barking, Igantius realizes how much Seymore means to the family. The Breth children continue to fight until the will is read when they find out that the last coin was attached to Secrets collar whom they had just given to Seymore. They both realize how awful they have been and decide to stay together at their father’s home to catch up on lost time. They no longer cared about the money. Seymore and his family are reunited, and decide that things could be a bit different in their home too. The characters in this story communicate with each other via letters. The entire story is read in letter form with a few newspaper articles. P.9, Q.9.
Bruel, Nick. Bad Kitty for president. ISBN: 978-1-59643-669-5. New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2012. 1st ed. 142 p. $ 13.99. Gr. K-3.
Go out on the campaign trail with Bad Kitty and learn what it takes to become president of the
Neighborhood Cat Club. From the primary where kissing babies is really important to becoming the nominee of your party, readers will learn about it all from Bad Kitty. Bad Kitty hits the campaign trail to drum up votes but runs into bad press, fires his assistant then launches his own web site to raise money. Uncle Murray’s fun facts help the reader understand some of the political processes. Readers will enjoy this approach to the steps taken in an election process. P.9, Q. 9.
Latta, Sara L. Why is it fall? ISBN: 978-0-7660-3985-8. Berkeley Heights : Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2012. Gr. 2 + 4 $15.95
Easy to read text and colorful photographs introduce readers to Fall. Words to know are explains.
There is a diagram of the earth moving around the sun explaining why we have four seasons complete with an experiment, learn more sections and an index, readers will understand the seasons and what happens in Fall. P. 9, Q. 9
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
Reviews by MD
More, Jenifer Corr. “Scholastic book of World Records 2012.” A Georgian Book. New York. 2011. $10.99. 315 pgs. middle and high school. 978-0-545-33149-4. p9/q8
The majority of the statistics are current as of May 2011. The pages are brightly colored for different sections and have engaging pictures of all of the record holders. There are sections on pop culture, sports, science, nature, money, u.s., and human made things. There is an index and even a contest where students can read for a world record. This would be a great book for math and history classes as each page has a colored graph to compare the runner ups to the winners. This is an easy read that will keep students busy for hours.
Magoon, Kekla. “The Rock and the River.” Aladdin. New York. 2009. $15.95. 290 pgs. middle and high school. 978-1-4-169-7582-3. p8/q8.
This is historical fiction about a thirteen year old boy whose father is a peaceful civil right activist in 1968. Sam and his brother become involved with the radically different black panther movement. The story has family relationship issues, history and shows how one’s choice can affect others. I think this book is a great way to expose students to the history of the civil rights movement.
McMullan, Margaret. “Cashay.” Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2009. 166 pgs. $15.00. ages middle and high school. 978-0-547-07656-0. p/q.
Cashay is devastated when her sister dies right in front of her on the street after a gang drive by
shooting. Cashay who is only fourteen meets weekly with a mentor to help her deal with her anger and grief. Things get really messy when her mother starts using drugs again. Cashay uses a hostility log to help her deal with her feelings which may be a very useful tool for other teens who are dealing with family drama. I like this story because in the end the bad guys get their due.
Weeks, Sarah. “As Simple as it Seems.” Laura Geringer Books. New York. 2010. 181 pgs. $15.99. ages middle and high school. 978-0-06-084663-3. p8/q8.
Verbena is eleven years old and is having a horrible summer as she is learning more about her family and dealing with the effects of being born with fetal alcohol syndrome. When a new boy moves in next Verbena pretends to be a ghost and what begins as a game helps her learn more about her true identity. The chapter headings are all actual moves of polkas or waltzes that could have been played by the tons Clydesdale Band that her mother is a part of. Verbena struggles with puberty and the disability of FAS and growing up. If students also have FAS this book might bring some enlightenment and connection.
Aronson, Marc. “Trapped…How The World Rescued 33 miners from 2,000 feet Blew the Chilean Desert.”Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York. 2011. $16.99. 134 pgs. middle and high school. 978-1-4169-1397-9. p8/q8.
This is a unique book as it has many drawings and photos to help explain the concepts and math behind rescuing the 33 miners. The miners trapped in a mine in chile for 69 days but all were rescued after the world worked together to save them. This book also has several sections with details like the ages of the miners and how they were related, a timeline, glossary, and notes and source. There is an index, helpful websites and a section about how the author wrote the book. This is a great book for many types of classes such as math, geography, history, etc.
Vrettos, Adrienne Maria. “Burnout…This Time Her Nightmare is Real.” Margaret K. McElderry Books. New York. 2011. $16.99. 193 pgs. high school. 978-1-4169-9469-5. p8/q8.
Nan wakes up on a subway the day after Halloween in a torn costume, her haircut and makeup all over her face. She can’t remember anything but starts to figure things out when she sees “HELP ME” written on her chest. The book goes back and forth between today and remembering. She tries to find her friend Seemey but is having a hard time concentrating. In the end we learn that Nan has been away at rehab and was drugged on Halloween while she was trying to save her friend Seemey. This is a mature topic as it deals with alcohol and kidnapping but has a good ending.
Orlev, Uri. Translated by Hillel Halkin. “The Song of the Whales.” Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. Boston. 2010. 108 pgs. $16.00. ages middle and high school. 978-0-547-25752-5. p7/q8
This book was first published in Hebrew in 1997 and is about an eight year old Mikha’el who knows he is different but doesn’t figure it out till his family moves to Jerusalem to live with his grandparents. Over the next three years he learns to make other people’s dream sweeter and more real with the help of his grandfather who has the sane dream gift. This is a very mythical fantasy based story of learning to embrace one’s family and gifts.
Michaels, Rune. “Fix Me.” Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York. 2011. 149 pgs. $16.99. ages high school. 978-1-4169-5772-0. p8/q8.
A sixteen year old girl has a horrible life at home with her violent twin brother and an unsupportive Aunt. She runs away and finds herself hiding and living at the zoo in one of the cages. She is able to make friends with the owners’ son and gains access to many of the animals as she helps feed and carefor the animals. This story has memories of horrible abuse and mental problems as the girl is struggling to re connect with humans. The abuse is suggested but not described in detail so you don’t get graphic images when reading but if someone has experienced abuse this book may be too much.
Wilson, Karma and Jane Chapman. “Bear’s Loose Tooth.” Margaret K McElderry Books. New York. 2011. 30 pgs. $16.99. ages pre-school. 978-1-4169-5855-0. p/q.
This is one of many Bear Books. The pictures are very bright, vibrant, and cute with all of the many animals who try to help Bear’s loose tooth come out. The story even has a fairy that leaves blueberries when he leaves his tooth out when he sleeps.
Johnson, Angela. Illustrated by Scott M Fischer. “Lottie Paris Lives Here.” Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. New York. 2011. 30 pgs. $16.99. ages pre-school. 978-0-689-87377-5. p8/q8.
This is a cute story of a little African American girl who lives across the street from a girl and has daily adventures there. I like the way when Lottie Paris makes a bad choice she is punished by going to the time out chair. The pictures are bright and engaging and the words float around the pages to create a feeling of movement as Lottie is a very busy girl.
Perlman, Willa. Pictures by Carolyn Fisher. “Good Night World.” Boach Lane Books. New York. 2011. 35 pgs. $16.99. Ages pre-school. 978-1-4424-0197-6. p7/q8.
This is a good night book with words that move across the pages of very simply drawn pictures. It seems to have a rhythm to the words without totally rhyming. The back of the book features a list of ways to say good night around the world with pronunciations as well as what country it comes from.
Adler, Victoria. Pictures by David Walker. “Baby Come Away.” Farrar Straus Giroux. New York. 2011. $16.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-0-374-30480-5. p7/q7.
This is a good night book about a baby who imagines what it would be like to be a bird, cat, fish, and dog and then at the end of the day is tired and ready for bed. The words rhyme, repeat themselves and are very simple and imaginative. The pictures are sweet and fun. A very simple book for babies.
Smith, Danna. Illustrated by Valeria Petrone. “Pirate Nap a book of Colors.” Clarion Book. Boston. 2011. $14.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-0-547-57531-5. p7/q7.
This is a fun book with the color words highlighted so a child can leave their colors as they are reading the book. The theme is a little naughty as the “pirates” don’t want to take a nap and keep looking around the house for treasure. In the end they settle down for a nap but after it seems they make a big mess and disobey mom.
Dempsey, Kristy. Illustrated by Bridget Stevens-Marzo. “Mini Racer.” Bloomsbury. New York. 2011. $16.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-1-59990-170-1. p7/q7.
The pictures are a little busy and the eyes of the animals are very large and distracting. The words move across the page to mimic the movement of the racers. This book could help to teach young readers concepts such as under, left, right, etc; as the words are shown in the pictures. There is a lot of detail to discuss with the child.
Crimi, Carolyn. Pictures by Lynn Munsinger. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Mole.” Dial Books for Young Readers. New York. 2011. $16.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 2nd grade. 978-0-8037-3166-0. p8/q8.
The funny thing about this story is the mole has an idol “Mick Badger” so parents will get a good laugh when they are reading it to their children. The story does use some slang phrases which may be hard for younger children to understand or encourage improper grammar. The story revolves around a talent show that pig has decided to sponsor. Mole gets nervous, decides he can’t perform but in the end plays to save the day even after he falls flat on the stage. It has a great moral of not giving up and facing one’s fears.
Hayes, Geoffrey. “The Bunny’s Night-Light…A glow-in-the-dark search.” Random House. New York. 2012. $11.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-0-375-86926-6. p8/q7.
The baby bunny can’t sleep and is looking for a night light after they search all over the woods mom bunny remembers that she has the perfect night light from when she was young. The pages all have a black and white border that brings consistency to the pages. The pictures are colored with muted tones. The fun thing is after you read this bed time story you can turn out the lights and each page has one item that glows in the dark. This would make a very unique and fun bed time ritual.
Emberley, Rebecca & Ed. “The Lion and the Mice.” Holiday House. New York. 2011. $14.95. 30 pgs. preschool. 978-0-8234-2357-6. p7/q8.
The mice help the lion escape in this very simple story. The pictures are bright but a little hard to decipher because they are cut paper in a collage effect. This may be a good book for an art class to see examples of cut paper art.
Kopisch, August. Illustrated by Beatrice Brawn-Fock. “The Helpful Elves.” Floris Books. Edinburgh. 2011. $17.95. 30 pgs. pre-school – 1st grade. 978-086315-815-5. p/q.
This story was first published in Germany and is based on a poem by the author. The book has a cut out that displays ten little elves. Each page has a cut out of one of the elves that may not stand up to library use. The pictures and feel of the book seem simple and from long ago. The pages are of a sturdy paper so may hold up in a classroom. The binding is very sturdy and nice. It Is a funny story about lazy people who are helped by elves at night but the butcher’s wife catches sight of them and they never come back to help. The people must learn to do their own work in this classic German tale.
White, Becky. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. “Betsy Ross.” Holiday House. New York. 2011. $16.95. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-0-8234-1908-1. p8/q8.
The pictures are really interesting they are fabric collages which fits perfect with the story’s theme of Betsy Ross making the first American flag. The words are very simple only about five words per page. There is an Author’s note and an Illustrator’s note and a section on how to make your own Betsy Ross Star with paper and scissors. This might be a great book for a kindergarten class who is talking about Betsy Ross or the flag.
Soltis, Sue. Illustrated by Bob Kolar. “Nothing Like a Puffin.” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2011. $15.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 978-0-7636-3617-3. p8/q8.
The pictures are simple shapes and the puffin has the most color so it attracts your attention. The story compares things like a house to a puffin and then a newspaper, jeans and a fish and how those things have things in common. The author is trying to convince us that puffins are one of a kind and in the end we agree.
Drescher, Daniela. “Little Fairy Can’t Sleep.” Floris Books. Edinburgh. 2011. $16.95. pre-school. 25 pgs. 978-086315-825-4. p8/q7.
This book was first published in German in 2007. The story doesn’t seem to feel like a translation but works well in English. It is about a little fairy who is having trouble falling asleep and doesn’t receive help from the sandmen but a moth-fairy prince helps her fall asleep in the end. The pictures are bright and it is an enjoyable magical night time book.
Kinch, Devon. “Pretty Penny…cleans up.” Random House. New York. 2012. $16.99. 30 pgs. pre-school. 2nd grade. 978-0-375-86736-1. p8/q8.
This is a simple story about two little girls who want to earn some money so they set up a perfect pup salon at their grandmother’s small mall. I liked the fact that the story teaches how to set up a savings budget plan and encourages children to save and also give to charity. The girls earned enough money to attend the concert and this story teachers great principles of sell reliance. The pictures are a little busy but the bright pictures and detail may appeal to a wider age range.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers / Reviews by NW
Cummins, Julie. Women Explorers: Perils, Pistols, and Petticoats. Il. Cheryl Harness. 2011. 48p. Dial, $17.99. 978-0-8037-3713-6. Ages 8-10: Most people think of women sitting demurely in their parlors or working the farms over a century ago, but some “dauntless” women traveled the world and “contribut[ed] to science, geography, history, and cultural understanding.” Among the ten women highlighted in three-four-page bios boldly illustrated with pen, ink, and watercolor are an Arctic explorer, an Australian Aborigine researcher, a gold “rusher,” a biologist in the wilds of Mexico, and a woman who lived with cannibals while she studied insects. Following these ten vignettes, Cummins provides paragraphs about another ten intrepid women—all 20 born before 1900. Because history books neglect these women, this book is a must for libraries.
Hopkinson, Deborah. A Boy Called Dickens. Il. John Hendrix. 2012. unp. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99. 978-0-375-86732-3. Ages 5-8: Two-hundred years ago on February 7, 2012, the famous English novelist was born. To celebrate this occasion, Hopkinson has provided this slice of Dickens’ life for younger children, telling about his misery as a 12-year-old when his father was in debtors’ prison and the boy supported himself by toiling in a miserably cold, rat-infested blacking factory where he labeled the polish for gentlemen’s shoes. At the same time, Dickens honed his story-telling abilities as he staved off boredom and hunger by creating a long string of tales for the other boys at the factory. Despite the description about child labor and the need for social reform, the cleanly-inked figures and acrylic cityscapes are a bit cheerier than the narrative, and Dickens even looks fairly happy at times, mitigating the desolation of his
Johnson, Tony. Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea: A Fairly Fabricated Story of a Pair of Pants. Il. Stacy Innerst. 2012. unp. Harcourt, $16.99. 978-0-15-206145-6. Ages 6-8: How does one write a biography with few details? Johnson decides to turn Strauss’ life into a funny tall tale as he misses the discovery of gold and creates his own fortune by making durable pants for the miners. To carry out the entertaining exaggeration, Innerst uses Levi fabric for the backdrop of her tall-tale acrylics, giving the adventure a rugged tone. With the entertaining narrative, Levi Strauss makes for a great read-aloud. P9Q8
Lawlor, Laurie. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World. Il. Laura Beingessner. 2012. 32p. Holiday House, $16.95. 978-0-8234-2370-5. Ages 6-8: In a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, the book that warned the world about the dangers of pesticides, Rachel Carson tells a young audience about the quiet, unassuming scientist and writer who wasn’t stopped by the rejection of women in her field or by the need for her to support her family almost her entire life. Understated paint and ink illustrations are matched by the quiet prose that shows the perseverance and joy that Carson took in nature. An epilogue tells about the aftermath of the book’s publication, when chemical companies fought to suppress the information. P7Q9
Leedy, Loreen. Seeing Symmetry. 2011. 32p. Holiday House, $17.95. 978-0-8234-2360-6. Ages 4-6:
People are surrounded by symmetry, as Leedy points out in this book. She starts with very simple examples of creatures and then moves into more complex concepts such as line, vertical, horizontal, rotational, mirror, bilateral, and reflection. Who would know there are so many! The book finishes with activities and math concepts including her website with much more. Illustrations are bold and clear, and the use of symmetry in letters and words is quite interesting. The only missing term is asymmetry. P8Q8
Marrin, Albert. Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives. 2012. 180p. Knopf, $19.99. 978-0-375-86673-9. Ages 11-15: During the past century, the United States has developed an “oil addiction,” relying on it for almost all the conveniences in our lives. The story of oil during this time is one of violence and war and will continue without another source of energy. Following a brief chapter on how oil develops, Marrin moves into a history of asphalt and mummification in pre-historic times and then describes the ways that oil was taken from under the Earth’s surface in the early 20th century. The far-sighted vision of Winston Churchill expanded the need for oil in war; his technological advances led to Germany’s loss in World War I and again in World War II after the Allies starved their enemy of the all-important oil. The last half of the book concentrates on the political decisions that the United States made in the Middle East because of our desire for the black, slippery crude, even installing dictators in some of these countries. Marrin explains that controlling the supply of oil and finding substitutes for the stuff “will shape much of the social, political, and military history of the twenty-first century” and insists that change must occur. This book should be required for all adults as well as young people because it shows how oil shapes history, society, politics, and economy.
Rosenstock, Barb. The Camping That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks. Il. Mordicai Gerstein. 2012. unp. Dial, $16.99. 978-0-8037-3710-5. Ages 6-9: Without the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt and the environmental activism of John Muir, the huge redwoods of California would have long disappeared under cities and concrete. After his visit to the West, Roosevelt protected millions of acres of wilderness into national “monuments” so that they are available for people to visit today. The few days that these two famous men spent together are illustrated with joy and excitement, many of the watercolors showing the vastness of the scenery set behind tiny characters exploring on horseback. Gerstein takes a lighter touch in this book that in some of his earlier ones, giving the feeling of a magical world. The imagined dialog is supplemented with factual notes about the event about the historical impact of the meeting. P7Q9
Selznick, Brian. Hugo Movie Companion: A Behind the Scenes Look at How a Beloved Book Became a Major Motion Picture. 2011. 255p. Scholastic, $19.99. 978-0-545-33155-5. Ages 11-15: Following the success of Selznick’s Caldecott winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, recently made into an Oscar-nominated 3-D motion picture, the author has provided a companion piece with full-color photographs from the movie, interviews with the cast and crew, comparisons of artwork from both book and movie, and additional information about automatons, Georges Melies, and an essay from director Martin Scorsese about the early development of movies. Fans of this year’s Oscar-award winning movie will want to read this book. P8Q7
Wallner, Alexandra. Susan B. Anthony. 2012. unp. Holiday House, $16.95. 978-0-8234-1953-1. Ages 6-8:
Flat, decorative watercolors and clear, simple narrative tell the story of suffragist Anthony from her childhood through her activist life of speaking, publishing, and creating forums so that women could legally vote. The friendship with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and attacks against her are touched on, but the book is a bit wordy and not always interesting. It may be that a book about both Anthony and Stanton can tell a more complete tale of the struggle for women’s suffrage. P5Q6
Warren, Andrea. Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London. 2012. 156p. Houghton Mifflin, $18.99. 978-0-547-39574-6. Ages 12-15: Far more than a biography, this carefully researched history of England in the 1800s discusses the abominable treatment of poor children during that time. Because Dickens did menial work for several years after his father went to prison, he understood life in the slums, despite his respectable childhood. After becoming a journalist, Dickens practiced law and became committed to childcare reform while he wrote his famous novels. The biography has the excitement of an historical novel with Dickens as the main character using his own fiction to effect social change. He is the man who gave homeless children a voice and then a home through his charitable promotion for them. Although not always done overtly, Warren shows situations that parallel those today, for example when she discusses the current public attitude of some that people are poor because they are lazy and that conditions must be made horrible to try to make them work. Through his personal experiences, Dickens learned that the poor were exploited with bad wages by the wealthy. In clear, direct vivid writing, the book makes connections between Dickens’ life, his writings, and the social reforms of the time. P7Q9
Dewdney, Anna. Llama Llama Home with Mama. 2011. unp. Viking, $17.99. 978-0-670-01232-9. Ages 3-6: Little ones will delight in this story about how Llama Llama ends up taking care of Mama after he gets over his yucky feeling and she comes down with his sneezing, snuffling, snorting illness. Dewdney gives the book a charming finish when she tells about Llama Llama bringing Mama tissues, a cup, a fluffed pillow—and picture books! The sweet, funny illustrations show the self-reliance of the younger one, and the rhyming verses complete the sense of togetherness that mother and child have. A welcome addition to the Llama Llama collection. P9Q8
Griffith, Helen V. Moonlight. Il. Laura Dronzek. 2012. unp. Greenwillow, $16.99. 978-0-06-203285-0. Ages 3-6:Rich, heavy acrylic paints highlight the minimalist story of Rabbit who falls asleep and misses the wondrous scenes above his burrow as the moon turns the countryside into butter light. Although the butter analogy is a bit overused, the verbs—slides, skims, skips, sucks, skitters, slips, seeps—give an excellent sense of action and alliteration and the different creatures of parent and child/children will interest very young listeners. In the culmination of the book, the buttery light of the moon penetrates Rabbit’s home, and he wakes up to dance in its light. An excellent rhyming picture book for bedtime.P9Q8
Barnett, Mac. Extra Yarn. Il. Jon Klassen. 2012. unp. Balzer + Bray, $16.99. 978-0-06-195338-5. Ages 5-8:
Annabelle’s discovery of a box of yarn that provides never-ending supplies for knitting turns a monochrome cold town into a rainbow of warm joy. The result is so wonderful that the greedy archduke steals the box after Annabelle refuses to sell it to him. It seems, however, that the box works only for one person. Klassen (I Want My Hat Back) has created a world of wooden-plank fences, birch trees, and clapboard houses that drastically change once they are covered with Annabelle’s creations. The hanging threads among the people symbolize the connections that the little girl knits between everything that she clothes through her kindness. A feel-good story! P9Q9
Brett, Jan, ret. Beauty and the Beast. 1989. unp. Putnam, $17.99. 978-0-399-25731-5. Ages 5-9: This reprint of a classic tale brings back the magic of Brett’s earlier artwork in the time-old story about true love overcoming the enchantment of a prince and the love that a young woman has for her father. Iridescent blues and greens provide the background for the famous rose that led to Beauty’s living with the Beast, depicted with the head of a wild boar, and finally falling in love with him. The book is simpler than Brett’s later work, lacking the detailed squares of additional illustrations on each page which gives the enchanting vision of the beauty that surrounds the beast. Lavish tapestries mirror the events in the palace and the embroidered mottoes, such as “Do Not Trust to Appearance,” lead the young woman. P8Q8
Carle, Eric. The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. 2011. unp. Philomel, $17.99. 978-0-399-25713-1. Ages 3+: For almost a half century, this author/illustrator has been entertaining young children with “animal” books beginning with Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. With his newest delight, he reflects back to his youth in World War II Germany where his teacher told him about how modern art was prevented by the Nazi regime because it was “degenerate.” The inspiration for the blue horse comes from Expressionist artist Franz Marc, who used bright primary colors for his 60 woodcuts and lithographs until he was killed in World War I. Carle takes on Marc’s persona, beginning the book, “I am an artist and I paint …” The remainder of the book is filled with huge fanciful animals—of course the blue horse but then a yellow cow, green lion, and even a polka-dot donkey—all made from
brilliantly-colored tissue paper enhanced by thick patterned lines in the paint. The Artist is Carle’s homage to unconventional creativity, to using natural talent to the fullest as shown through the endnotes describing Carle’s and Marc’s lives. P10Q10
Clark, Leslie Ann. Peepsqueak! 2012. unp. Harper, $12.99. 978-0-06-207801-8. Ages 3-6: Peepsqueak, the baby chicken with the bright red shirt initialed P.S., “was on the move” and nothing made him give up, no matter how impossible it seemed. His goal was to fly, and, despite everyone telling him that he couldn’t, succeeds when Old Gray Goose gives him a flight on his back. The digitally-colored drawings delightfully show the ways that Peepsqueak tries to fly—off a stone wall, then a rock, after that a hill, even a tower of other chicks. No matter how much he falls, he tries again. Once he achieves his goal, he doesn’t rest on his laurels; instead he decides he will swim. Listeners will join into the repetition and enjoy the different personalities of the creatures. We’ll hope that Peepsqueak returns! P9Q9
Freedman, Deborah. Blue Chicken. 2011. unp. Viking, $15.99. 978-0-670-01293-0. Ages 3-6: A charming story ensues when a chicken crawls out of the drawing to try to help paint the barn and tips over the paint pot that the illustrator is using for the book. Speckles and splashes of blue paint slowly begin to inundate every scene, finally coloring everything blue as it flows over the pages, both finished and unfinished. As the color moves from pale to deep, the patterns contrast with fine pencil lines and shadings. Spare, poetic text emphasizes the images that escape conventional boundaries in a feeling of joy and irreverence.
Long, Loren. Otis and the Tornado. 2012. unp. Philomel, $17.99. 978-0-399-25477-2. Ages 4-6: The Little Tractor That Could is back, this time facing down the vicissitudes of weather to save a particularly unpleasant farm animal. The neutral tones of the farm background begin on a summer day when Otis and his friends play follow-the-leader and avoid the angry bull, a huge reddish creature. As before, Otis saves his friends when the tornado arrives, this time by leading them to the dried-up banks of Mud Creek. When he hears the bull bellowing, however, he putt putt puttedly chuffs back and saves the terrified animal. A good lesson on helping those even if they haven’t been very nice mixed with a mildly exciting story about a dangerous situation. Long finishes the artwork with a return to bright sun on the victorious parade of animals in the fields. Just plain fun! P9Q9
Srinivasan, Divya. Little Owl’s Night. 2011. unp. Viking, $16.99. 978-0-670-01295-4. Ages 3-6: Bold, richly-colored cutouts of nocturnal animals—raccoons, frogs, crickets, moths—composed of simple shapes (circles, ovals, triangles, diamonds) follow Little Owl as he travels through the black backdrop with mossy greens and mushroom browns. As the sun rises, he returns home and asks his mother how the night ends. Mama says, “The moon and stars fade to ghosts. Spiderwebs turn to silver threads.” And Little Owl falls fast asleep. This first book from Srinivasan combines lyrical dream-like text with engaging illustrations providing distinguishing characteristics for each of the nighttime creatures, giving a reassuring aura to the book.
Eaton, Maxwell, III. The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan 2012. unp. Knopf, $6.99. 978-0-375-86338-2. Ages 4-7: Ace loves sports and excitement while his brother Bub loves napping—and more napping. Together, however the two beavers save Beaver Island from the penguins who want to create a place for “resort and polar-style living.” The wry humor of the square-drawn brothers mixed with the environmental touch and the green highlights of the black and white cartoons make for enjoyable education. [Also The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Fishy Business (978-0-375-86447-6): In blue on black and white, the Flying Beaver Brothers are trailing another eco-villain, Fish Stix Environmental Manufacturing whose eco-friendly façade is a cover for building a smoking volcano while the cut down all the island’s trees.] P9Q8
Fearing, Mark. Earthling! 2011. 244p. Chronicle, $22.99. 978-0-8118-7106-8. Ages 7-10: Problems with going to a new school is the focus of this colorful, fast-paced adventure cartoon. But Bud has far more problems that the typical new kid: he’s been catapulted into space to Cosmos Academy where Earthlings are feared and hated. Gort, a new friend, helps Bud go undercover as a Tenarian exchange student, forcing him into playing a sport for which he’s totally unprepared. The themes of the graphic novel are of friendship and teamwork, as Bud discovers his skills help his new classmates win the contest and incidentally unite the aliens with Earthlings. P9Q8
McCranie, Stephen. Mal and Chad: Food Fight. 2012. 220p. Philomel, $9.99. 978-0-399-25657-8. Ages 7-10: Super kid genius and his talking dog take on another adventure in this sequel to The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! Mal still has a crush on Megan and wants to make friends with her but keeps failing because the girls’ club doesn’t allow boys. Mal’s new invention to keep his dog Chad from having nightmares about a lion leads to connecting the two because the scary lion in the dream follow Mal and Chad into their world. McCranie created this cartoon when he was in college, and the drawings are deceptively simple like those in Calvin and Hobbes, TinTin, and Peanuts. The adventures are easy to follow and a great deal of fun. P8Q8
McKissack, Patricia and Frederick L. McKissack Jr. Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love. Il. Randy Duburke. 2012. 132p. Chronicle, $19.99. Ages 7-10: During the last half of the nineteenth century, Love, aka Deadwood Dick, was a famous black cowboy in the Old West, friends with Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid. The McKissacks have adapted Love’s autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Nat Love, in this exciting piece of historical fiction with creatively-fashioned colorful acrylic illustrations that follow the hero from an early life in slavery through his years as a cowpuncher before he becomes a railroad porter. P8Q9
O’Connor, George. Hades: Lord of the Dead. [Olympians]. 2012. 76p. Neal Porter/First Second, $9.99. 978-1-59949643-434-9. Ages 10-14: “This is what happens to you when you die.” This sentence starts the adventure of how Kore, renamed Persephone, finds herself in the Greek underworld, after Charon ferries her across the River Styx to the entrance guarded by the vicious Cerberus. The dark brown, burgundy, and black cartoons complement the greens and blues of the living world where Persephone’s mother, Demeter, frantically searches for her daughter. O’Connor has done a better job with this view of the Greek afterlife than in earlier books, and Persephone’s disagreement with her mother, goddess of the harvest, rings true for any rebellious teenage girl. He depicts Hades as a kinder god than other tales have, and Persephone is given the choice of eating the pomegranate seeds that force her to live in each of the world for six months out of the year. An engaging read. P9Q8
Ponti, Claude. Chick & Chickie Play All Day! 2012. unp. Toon/Candlewick, $12.95. 978-1-935179-14-6. Ages 4-6: Chick and Chickie play together as many small children do, in this beginner graphic novel as they tickle each other and make masks to scare each other. A bonus to fun reading is their tickling of the letter A, giving a clear image of the first letter of the alphabet. A thoroughly enjoyable addition to the graphic narrative world for little readers. P9Q9
Rex, Michael. Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian. 2012. 120p. Putnam, $5.99. 978-0-399-25521-2. Ages 8-10: Going to a new school is always a challenge, and Fangbone the Young, of the Mighty Lizard Clan, has even more problems because he has come from another world to protect a big toe, the last body part needed to re-build a horrible villain, Venomous Drool. Reluctant readers will love the image of Fangbone in his “remedial” class of outsiders and the ways that he helps the underachievers achieve much, including winning the Friday beanbag game. At the same time, the classmates help him defeat the hound-snakes and lava-ferrets. Interspersed through the book are myths from Fangbone’s world, and the classmates are well drawn. Adults may recognize the relationship to Conan the Barbarian, but it’s not necessary. All in all, a satisfying read as well as the sequel, Fangbone! The Egg of Misery (978-0-399-25522-9) in which the egg sent from Fangbone’s home world doesn’t hatch into what was expected
but it does help make the class’s play in the science pageant a success. P9Q8
Spiegelman, Nadja. Zig and Wikki in the Cow. 2012. unp. Toon/Candlewick, $12.95. 978-1-935179-15-3.
Ages 6-8: Science facts are slipped into this slapstick cartoon about a cow that swallows a spaceship. Aliens Zig and Wikki have gone to Earth because Zig’s pet fly is homesick. As they wander through the cow—and the poop—the two friends quarrel and make up.Nadja Spiegelman, daughter of the Maus creator, and Francoise Mouly, art editor for The New Yorker, make a great pair to entice young readers into learning. P9Q8
Child, Lauren. Ruby Redfort: Look into My Eyes. 2012. 383p. Candlewick, $16.99. 978-0-7636-5120-6. Ages 11-14: There’s a new saucy, wise-cracking genius detective in a series, and its 13-year-old Ruby Redfort, hired as a temp agent at SPECTRUM. Unhappy with her desk job trying to crack a code about the Fool’s Gold Gang, she uses the magic gadgets that she stole from their office and sets out on her own to solve the mystery. With her exaggerated cartoon nature and impossible puns, she floats in and out of life-threatening situations with the help of another agent, masquerading as the family butler, and her best friend Clancey as they protect the jade statue and save lives. The series is imported from England, and six books are ready for publication here. A UK reviewer found it too “corny” which makes it appropriate for an American audience! P9Q9
Hartman, Rachel. Seraphina. 2012. 465p. Random House, $17.99. 978-0-375-86656-2. Ages 13+: About once a year, a book comes along so brilliant that takes my breath away—this year’s book is Seraphina. The book’s titles comes from the 16-year-old protagonist who is forced to hide her half-human, halfdragon self because of the uneasy mistrust between logical dragons and the emotional humans, even after a 40-year-old treaty. Because of her great talent as a musician, Seraphina leaves her lawyer father to join the royal court of Goredd where she finds herself in a position to investigate and, inconveniently, falling in love with a bastard son. The polished prose of this well-paced and richly complex book creates a world of two civilizations with two divergent technological capabilities, each one highly suspect of and prejudiced toward the other. The care taken in the descriptions of everything from daily life to the political and religious systems and the various characters, both those in the world and the ones hiding in Seraphina’s mind because of her mother’s memory, give the book a feeling of authenticity despite the improbability of the society. A must read! P8Q10
Hiaasen, Carl. Chomp. 2012. 293p. Knopf, $16.99. 978-0-375-86842-9. Ages 11-14: After a dead iguana falls from a tree and hits his animal-wrangler father in the head, 13-year-old Wahoo’s family is hurting for money. Wahoo can take care of all the Florida Everglades creatures—gators, snakes, snappers, etc. in his backyard—but they need money so his mother takes a three-week job in China. The adventure begins when Wahoo takes on a job with a survival reality TV show, and the “hero,” Derek Badger refuses to cooperate with their safety measures. As in Hiaason’s other YA novels, include the Newbery Honor Hoot, environmental concerns are thrown into the excitement as well as a concern with domestic violence when Wahoo finds a girl living at Wal-Mart who runs away from her abusive father. The solutions can be simplistic, and Wahoo seems to have more skills than a 13-year-old should, but the fastpaced
plot keeps the reader involved, and the characters are fun. P9Q7
Lee, Y.S. The Traitor in the Tunnel. [The Agency]. 2011. 373p. Candlewick, $16.99. 978-0-7636-5316-3. Ages 12+: Two books ago, 12-year-old Mary Lang, daughter of an Irish woman and a Chinese man, was rescued from prison to be educated in a girls’ school and then taken in by a Victorian-era spy agency. Now Mary uses the last name of Quinn and has another undercover case, investigating the minor thefts of ornaments in Buckingham Palace. The plot provides the opportunity for the reader to examine the details of that period as well as to meet the Queen and her oldest son, 18-year-old Bertie (the Prince of Wales) on a personal level. As a housemaid, Mary has the chance to explore the entire palace—including the sewers below the building where an assassin plants explosives to kill the queen. Mary’s long-lost father reappears, sent to prison in The Tower where Mary is determined to rescue him. The prejudices of the time toward minorities and women are well-delineated, and James Easton, the love interest in the last book, returns to take on a new role and relationship with Mary. Traitor is as thoroughly action-packed and enjoyable as the two earlier books and leaves the reader looking forward to the next book in the series.
MacColl, Michaela. Promise the Night. 2012. 262p. Chronicle, $16.99. 978-0-8118-7625-4. Ages 11-14: Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly alone non-stop east to west across the Atlantic in 1936, was born in what is now Kenya and brought up largely by her father after her mother leaves them when Beryl is 11. The stories of her childhood relationships with the natives in the early twentieth century, including the tale of her participating in hunts for a leopard and a lion, are mixed with her journal as she relates her feelings in her plane The Messenger. Beryl’s rebelliousness will strike a chord in ‘tween and teenage readers as she fights authority and sometimes wins on her father’s horse-racing ranch and during a year in a boarding school. The protagonist’s bravery is reminiscent of MacColl’s earlier Prisoners in the Palace. A great narrative about a girl who fights the traditional roles of women a century ago. P7Q8
Rosoff, Meg. There Is No Dog. 2011. 272p. Putnam, $17.99. 978-0-399-25764-3. Ages 13+: Is it possible that God is actually a pimply-faced rude adolescent more concerned with his personal love life than the trials of the world while his anxious and over-worked second-in-command tries to manage the disasters and tragedies of the planet called Earth? That is Rosoff’s premise in a book about Bob who got the job in a poker game elsewhere in the universe, a book strengthened more by the plot than the writing. References of mythological deities sprinkled throughout the book blend with such characters as Bob’s hard-drinking, gambling mother, his devoted pet of a species due for distinction because of Bob’s neglect, the lovely blond who most recently caught Bob’s attention, and the god who won Bob’s pet and plans to eat him. Rosoff has added to the lore throughout the centuries that suggest that God is not the being that Christians have created, but her offering is unique among YA novels. P8Q8
Reviews by JV
Sarcone-Roach, Julia. SUBWAY STORY . Borzol book published by Alfred A. Knopf 2011 $16.99 ISBN 978-0-375-85859-8 approx. 30 pages; hard cover. Age preschool. P7 / Q8
Illustrations acrylic on paper This story is about a subway car named Jessie. It tells about her birth, her work, and with time how she is put into storage. She is dismantled and dropped into the sea where she becomes an artificial reef making a home for the sea life. Nicely illustrated. The Author’s note is a great addition, telling about different ways people around the world reuse older subway cars.
Godwin, Laura; illustrated by Tanaka, Yoko. ONE MOON, TWO CATS. Atheneum Books 2011. $16.99 ISBN 978-1-4424-1202-6 approx 22 pages; hardcover. Ages 2-6. P5/ Q6
This story, with its beautifully drawn pictures, uses many different verbs describing the activities a city and country cat. They are chasing after a mouse. The chase ends with thunder and lightning.
Gal, Susan. INTO THE OUTDOORS. Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books of Random House; 2011. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-375-86958-7 approx 32 pages; hardcover. Age’s preschool. P8 / Q9
Illustrations charcoal on paper and digital collage. Beautifully illustrated book about a family camping trip. I like how the prepositions are written in a different color which helps them stand out for a parent teaching their young child to speak. There are some hidden animals and most fun is the baby seems to have secretly made friends with a bear.
Maccarone, Grace; Illustrated by Davenier, Christine. MISS LINA’S BALLERINAS AND THE PRINCE Feiwel and Friends of Macmillan 2011. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-312-64963-0 approx 36 pages; hardcover. Ages: preschool early reader. P8 / Q9
The illustrations are fun adding to the story about a ballet school with 9 girls that is about to add a new student that is a boy. The girls have visions of a prince dancing with them. That changes when he arrives. The book introduces some of the French dance terms with a little glossary at the end of the book.
Alko, Selina. EVERY-DAY DRESS-UP. Alfred Knopf, of Ramdom House Children’s Books. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-375-86092-8. approx 24 pages; hardcover. Ages; preschool, early reader. P7 / Q8
This is a story of a girl dressing up differently every day of the week pretending to be a great woman in history. At the end of the book there is a glossary of the women, when they were alive and what they did to make them great. The brief biographies may be a little advanced for this age group, but it is a good start to introduce great women.
Portis, Antoinette. PRINCESS SUPER KITTY. Harper books. $14.99 ISBN 978-0-06-182725-9. approx 28 pages; hardcover. Ages: preschool, early reader. P7 / Q7
Maggie gives reasons why she is a kitty and then says why she is not just a kitty but a super kitty. The story builds until she is finally a water lily hula porpoise princess super kitty. A super kitty looks for people to rescue and a princess super kitty is someone you obey.
Book Reviews K.D.
Williams, Vera. 1982. A chair for my mother. New York, New York. Greenwillow Books.
The children’s picture book is designed to be read to complete the story of the girl, her mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles, family, and the neighborhood as they recover from a fire and care for each other. The story told by a young girl shares the actions of the child, her working mother, her grandmother, their family members, and their community of friends and neighbors after a fire destroys the home of the child, her mother, and grandmother. The friends, family, and neighbors help out. The girl helps her mother and grandmother with many things but also in helping to save for and pick-out a special chair for the comfort of her mother who works as a waitress, her grandmother, and herself. They save together and take a time for each of them to enjoy the comfort of the chair that was beautiful and just right for all of them. The illustrations were beautiful watercolor and ink with lots of warm colors and detail. [Editor’s note: A chair for my mother was a 1983 Caldecott honor book, unusual at the time (and now) for its depiction of a single-parent, working class, multiple-generation female household. The story’s simplicity and warmth make it a wonderful addition to any library even thirty years after its first publication.]
Friedman, Lauri S., editor. 2006. Introducing issues with opposing viewpoints: Gay marriage. Farmington Hills, MI. Thomson Gale.
The book designed for the more experienced reader who is at secondary school age and above including adults out of school learning and revisiting constitutional and individual rights guaranteed but interrupted or interpreted by United States church, state, and federal government. The opposing viewpoints explored in this book introduce the questions of gay marriage, civil unions, constitution language and rights, state and federal legislation controversy, social and family including pairing and divorce, child welfare, and nurturing of the society. The facts of marriage, contracts, and additional readings are presented from a variety of opposing viewpoints. The illustrations are primarily photographs of individuals expressing their concerns and commitments in a variety of settings through history.
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse, Illustrator, Lichtenheld, Tom. 2009. Duck! Rabbit! San Francisco, CA. Chronicle Books. This children’s picture book is excellent for children and all ages. Dialog between two unseen characters discuss contradictory perceptions. Questions and illustrations explore the ideas of perception we have when looking at things. The children’s picture book is a good book for fun and thought with a single, two, or more children, child or children and a reader, or others differing and exploring visual and mental perceptions. The understanding could extend beyond to differing views of language, culture, local and world issues or conflicts of thinking and opinions. This book shows that that one’s views explore, expand, and change as an opportunity for interaction, exploration of one’s own and other’s perception of most everything and view. Bold black ink line drawings and lettering, with some water color and colored pencil with of simple views of common objects and blue skies and clouds pass meaning and questions to the viewer. The questions posed to the unseen characters, to the viewer, and reader shows the simplicity of differences of opinion, perception, and detachment in a non-judgemental and creative way which can be carried into many venues.
Burningham, John. 2009. It’s a secret! Somerville, Massachusetts. Candlewick Press.
The children’s picture book is a story of the real and the imaginary. The reading with a child or children would be best done with a more experienced reader who is able to read well. The characters include a girl Marie Elaine, her cat, Malcom, her mother, her friend Norman, and a variety of unnamed characters including the Queen of the Cats. The imagined adventure begins with Marie Elaine asking her mother where cats go at night and includes Malcom, Marie Elaine, and Norman traveling through the city through the night and back home again after a dance and party. It is a cute and fanciful story. The illustrations are watercolor, ink, pencil, and possibly chalk and charcoal. They are very simple convey the story almost as well as the words.
Schotter, Roni. Illustrations, Widener, Terry. 2008. The house of joyful living. New York, New York. Melanie Kroupa Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The children’s book is designed probably to be read with an able reader to get the full benefit of the words and pictures. The story could be appropriate mostly for the child or children who are about to have a younger sibling in the home or even in the neighborhood. This is a book about a woman herself as a young girl, her family including her very pregnant mother, her neighbors and friends in the tall old apartment house where she was the only child. and their community life in the large apartment building in a New York City. Their community life included daily activities and a rooftop gathering place for daily and special occasions enjoyed with beautiful classical music, dance, smiles, pigeons, a dog, a rooftop garden with colorful beautiful flowers, trees, life-size sculptures, a view of the city and buildings about them. The community had a weekly Sunday breakfast where they shared challah bread, herring, tuna, eggs, onions and talked of the good they had done with and for others who had less. They had a yearly Roof Party in the Roof Garden. Daily they practiced community, humility, and gratitude for the joy and the goodness in their lives. There were community members and friends from many lands and they shared their history, culture, gifts and skills including paper art, Paris, France, stone carving and masonry, Italy, gardening, raising and sculpting plants, tending gold fish, baking and cooking,
woodcarving from many countries China, Japan, Russia, as well as France and Italy. As a young girl and the only child in the family and the community she felt special and nurtured until the thought and prospect of sharing her loving, humble, and unselfish mother, father, and community with the baby to be born. She experiences the pain and loneliness of jealousy. She becomes reassured by her mother, father, and friends that she is loved and cared for now and after the baby is born. This mixed media illustrated book, done primarily in acrylic warm tones, may move the child to better accept and enjoy other life experiences, cultures, environments, families, music, gardens, art, countries, and additional members to the family and community.
Kimmel, Elizabeth Cody. 2008. Photo researcher, Berkvist, M. Boy on the lion throne. The childhood of the 14th Dalai Lama. New York, New York. Flash Point. Roaring Brook Press. Llamo Thondup a Tibetan two and a half years old in finds himself the subject of a visiting party of traveling monks. This begins his and his family’s journey from Takster, Tibet in the early 1930’s to his later years when he and his family are called to leave Tibet as the Dalai Lama and the Royal Family for exile and protection from the Chinese government and then Communist Party under Mao Tse-Tung initially. As the 14th Dalai Lama, leader of the Tibetan religion and government the country and its people were his responsibility spiritually and in every way. His safety held the hope and the safety of the future of the religion, the people, and the government. The true life drama filled with some maps of Tibet, the Dalai Lama at all ages covered in this time period, and the important cities, events, and buildings. The book designed for a proficient reader interested with Tibet, China, India, the student of history of Tibet and the world from prior to the1900’s with the death of the 13th Dalai Lama through around 1957, religions of the world, Buddhism, geography including changes in geographic borders, location names, culture, religious and land conflicts, and political effects on human rights. Sources and additional readings and resources are cited for further study.
Levithan, David & Merrell, Billy, editors. 2006. The full spectrum: a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. New York, New York. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books a division of Random House, Inc.
This great book is thought provoking, value searching, and heart learning. The stories told from the personal experience of many young, twelve to twenty-five year old persons that share their personal, school, family, and public history with varying experiences with denial, emotional, verbal, physical, financial, and sexual mistreatment and abuse. Their strengths and hopes for personal acceptance, freedom, and individual rights as defined by the United States Constitution are presented in a tasteful sensitive manner. The ignorance that surrounds their personal travels and experiences as individuals with the right to equal rights in all areas of life is parted and researched by the publication in which in a short amount of words expresses forty persons fears, sadness, heartbreaks, joy, harassment, bullying, and love by and for themselves, family, friends, and partners in poems, essays, excerpts from diaries and journals, and essays.
Kerley, Barbara. Those Rebels, John & Tom. Il. Edwin Fotheringham. 2012. Unp. Scholastic, $17.99. 978-0-545-22268-6. Ages 6-9: The diversity between extrovert farmer John Adams and reserved statesman Thomas Jefferson is highlighted in this charming book with its caricatures and variety of fonts to illustrate the tone of voice from each of these men instrumental in the country’s independence. Patriotic red, white, and blue are combined with gold and brown in digitally created witty artwork. Readers will enjoy the human view of these famous men. Despite the humorous approach, the book retains respect for “John and Tom” in their contributions. An author’s note describes the hiatus in their friendship for 11 years following an argument and Jefferson’s slave ownership. The book also includes source notes and a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence. P7Q9
Khan, Hena. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors. 2012. Unp. Chronicle, $17.99. 978-0-8118-7905-7. Ages 4-7: “Red is the rug/Dad kneels on to pray/facing toward Mecca/five times a day.”Colors and culture blend in this perspective on Islam’s beauty and a fact-based view of its traditions. The rhyming text of four-line verses is told by a young girl as she describes wearing apparel, food, a mosque, and the celebrations of Eid that includes gifts. Simple, classic illustrations introduce the girl’s family—two parents and two grandparents—to the book’s audience, and a glossary extends information about the girl’s “deen,” her religion or way of life. Highly recommended. P8Q9
Walker, Sally M. Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917. 2011. 145p. Holt, $18.99. 978-0-8050-8945-5. Ages 10-14: The largest explosion in the world until the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945 is one of the lesser known events of the past century. Walker uses stories about five families in the Halifax (Nova Scotia) area when two ships headed for Europe, one loaded with munitions and the other with relief supplies, collided in the harbor on December 6, 1917. The blast and the resulting tsunami killed almost 2,000 people, wounded another 6,000, left over 9,000 homeless when buildings within two square miles Relief efforts were seriously hampered when a blizzard hit the area within 48 hours. Black and white photographs of the people, the devastation of the property, and some of the discovered artifacts are skillfully blended with reminiscences of the tragedy. A positive note comes from the tales of heroism and selflessness exhibited by those involved and others who came to help. P7Q8
Coombs, Kate. Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems. Il. Meilo So. 2012. 2012. Unp. Chronicle, $16.99. 978-0-8118-7284-3. Ages 7-12: Just as people wander the beach, so do the readers wander throughout these vignettes of the sounds and smells of the sandy stretches gorgeously illustrated by the wash of naturecolored watercolors. Jewel-toned treasures abound on every page with visual and textual surprises from power to playfulness. Wading throughout these 23 poems provides the feeling of the tides and its living things with the misty memory inviting readers back again. Although the vocabulary is not always simple, it is a great beginning for learning about unfamiliar words as well as lesser-known creatures through couplets, limericks, free verse, and more.
Frost, Helen. Step Gently Out. Photo. Rick Lieder. 2012. Unp. Candlewick, $15.99. 978-0-7636-5601-0. Ages 3+: Extreme close-up photography provides the backdrop for a lyrical poem inviting the reader to examine the miracles of nature’s tiny creatures—a climbing ant, a flying honeybee, a leaping cricket, and eight more. Frost completes her poem by writing: “they share the world/with you.” A bonus is the twopage endnote about all the photographs’ stars, including the “ebony jewelwing damselfly, with descriptions and explanations of where each can be found.
Levine, Gail Carson. Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It: False Apology Poems. Il. Matthew Cordell. 2012. 80p. Harper, $15.99. 978-0-06-178725-6. Ages 8-12: Apologies without any intent to apologize are becoming more and more common in today’s world, and Levine capitalizes on this trend with her satire. Playing off William Carlos Williams’ poem “This Is Just to Say,” Levine creates more than 40 more offerings to bring smiles and laughter to readers. Even the introduction is meant to be funny, located after five of her poems. Those wishing to model their own poems on those of Levine have a simple task: she explains that the first stanza describes the offense, the second one its effect, and the last, beginning with “Forgive me” finishes off the false apology. Her sarcasm is heightened by the use of typical behaviors and famous nursery rhymes such as “Humpty Dumpty.” The book, with its caustic line-drawings, is a great beginning for reluctant poetry readers—and writers. P9Q9
Bingham, Kelly L. Z Is for Moose. Il. Paul O. Zelinsky. 2012. Unp. Greenwillow Books, $16.99. 978-0-06-079984-7. Ages 3+: Young readers and listeners will laugh out loud at the antics of Zebra’s friend, Moose, who wants to be on every page—but doesn’t even get to be on the “M” page because that’s been assigned to the lowly mouse. The same readers will understand the problems of Zebra, who is trying to accomplish a task and is constantly thwarted by his stubborn friend who hides in the pouch of the Kangaroo and even draws antlers on the Snake. Brightly colored borders around each page are sometimes interrupted by Moose, injecting himself into the scene and Zebra trying to stop him. With the proliferation of alphabet books, it’s hard to come up with a fresh take, and this one may be the funniest yet. P10Q10
Anthony, Jessica. Chopsticks. Il. Rodrigo Corral. 2012. 272p. Penguin/RazorBill, $19.99. 978-1-5951443-5-5. Ages 15-17: Photographs, wine labels, emails imbedded with YouTube sites, television stills, letters, programs, invitations, sketches, etc. mix with minimal text to show the growing relationship between a prodigy teenage pianist, Glory, and her Argentinean immigrant neighbor, Francisco. When Glory’s father takes her on a European tour, Glory retreats into playing only variations of “Chopsticks,” frustrating her father and causing him to separate her and Francisco. The book begins with Glory’s disappearance and then uses flashbacks to show all these events. Anthony depicts the father as overbearing, imposing a rigid schedule onto Glory. Slowly the visuals reveal Glory’s fragility after her mother’s death years before and Francisco’s frustration from the racial bigotry he faces in school and his desire to bury himself in his art. The symbolism of Corral’s illustrations is obvious from the beginning when he pairs a two-page photo spread of tree branches with the spokes of a fence. An interactive, electronic version of the book is also in the offing. P9Q9
Chad, Jon. Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey through the Center of the Earth. 2012. Unp. Roaring Brook Press, $15.99. 978-1-59643-661-9. Ages 8-11: Leo is eye-catching from the beginning: its size, 4.5 inches high by 13 inches long, will frustrate some librarians trying to shelve the book, but it’s perfect for the finely-inked, detailed illustrations of an imagined journey through the earth. Traveling 9,000 miles, the explorer, leading geologist at the Fizzmont Institute of Rad Science, follows a tunnel through the earth’s layers while providing scientific facts and avoiding monsters, including the huge Quadclops, before he emerges near Taipai. The reader cannot avoid learning about science while enjoying the adventure. P8Q9
Craddock, Erik. Dragon Boogie: Stone Rabbit. 2012. 96p. Random House, $6.99. 978-0-375-86912-9. Ages 8-11: Caught in a board game, three friends—Stone Rabbit, Henri, and Andy—must overcome the evil Dark Lord to get home from a medieval realm. This seventh book in the full-color graphic novel series fulfills the expectations of those who enjoyed the earlier ones. As always, fast-paced excitement follows the volatile youthful rabbit and his patient friends. P8Q7
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes. 2012. 96p. Knopf, $6.99. 978-0-375-87028-6. Ages 6-10: Having avoided a field trip in the last Lunch Lady graphic novel, Dee, Hector, and Terrence are required to join the mathletes team which expects to once again lose to the unbeatable Willowby Academy. On their way to success, the three friends don’t know about the reason behind the series of wins, but Lunch Lady, with faithful sidekick Betty, pulls out her weapons to solve the problem. As always, the simple black and white cartoons are highlighted in yellow. An excess of math problems tends to slow down the action. P7Q7
Long, Mark and Jim Demonakos. The Silence of Our Friends. Il. Nate Powell. 2012. 199p. First Second, $16.99. 978-1-59643-618-3. Ages 10-15: Mark Long’s childhood in Houston during the 1960s where his father, Jack, was the “race reporter” at a television station provides the information for this graphic novel about civil rights protests at the African-American Texas Southern University, the violence surrounding Anglo hatred for the blacks, and the distrust between the races. Powell’s black and white drawings are brilliant, using lighter shades of gray for the television pieces and visually extending the images beyond the cartoon blocks. Black and white illustrations also fit the author’s statement, “The civil rights struggle was never black and white.” The basis of the story is the police arrest of five students after a policeman is killed during the protest, a death that the reluctant reporter finally explains came from the cop’s own ricocheting bullet. Long depicts his father honestly, with his flaws and fear during the protest while wanting to support the black community. The title comes from a Martin Luther King Jr. quote: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies … but the silence of our friends.” The words refer to the reporter’s hiding during the protest instead of supporting his friend, a black university professor. Sure to become an award-winner, the book explores far more than race relationships, delving into family, friendships, and courage.
Wooding, Chris. Pandemonium. Il. Cassandra Diaz. 2012. Scholastic/Graphix, $12.99. 978-0-439-87759-6. Ages 11-14: Leaving his small safe world in a remote village for something more, Seifer is kidnapped and taken to the royal palace because of the similarity between him and the abducted Prince Talon Pandemonium. The similarity ends with their personalities however: Seifer is kind and giving while Talon is evidently uncaring about anyone else. As Seifer is forced to be a diplomat and warrior, he has to figure out who is trying to kill him and how he can avoid being killed. Meanwhile he develops a relationship with Cassie, awkward because Talon is engaged to another. Humor pervades the graphic novel, too; for example, Seifer’s grandpa “hasn’t been quite right ever since he ate something poisonous that fell asleep in his porridge.” The characters are also typical of graphic novels: the nasty Prime Minister, horrid villains, dynamic girlfriend, etc. Their names are also fun—Master Lumbago, Lady Asphyxia, Baroness Crustaces Effluvia, etc. Even Seifer brings up an image of the word “cipher.” The winged inhabitants give the feeling of manga, and the kingdom’s inhabitants dwell in dynamically-drawn darkness—literally—with a few touches of fuchsias and yellow/oranges. Woodling’s debut graphic novel is obviously the first in a series as Prince Talon is still missing and his fiancé shows up at the end of the book while Cassie watches. P9Q8
Cronin, Doreen. The Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery. Il. Kevin Cornell. 2012. 126p. Balzer + Bray, $14.99. 978-0-06-177996-1. Ages 7-11: Search-and-rescue dog J.J. is back with a new problem: his four little chick friends are spending too much time with Diamond Lil, the glitzy new dog next door. Then there’s a possum on the loose, threatening the chickens in their coop. Vince the Funnel, a dog so named because he wears a long plastic collar around his neck, is still someone to be avoided. A smooth plot and funny black and white drawings make this chapter book a hit with the younger set even if they didn’t read The Trouble with Chickens. As in the earlier book, the happy ending will lead to a sequel. P8Q8
Lasky, Kathryn. Lucy. [Daughters of the Sea]. 2012. 312p. Scholastic, $17.99. 978-0-439-78312-5. Ages 10-14: Lucy Snow has never felt she belonged with her family as her social-climbing mother forces her to attend parties and mingle. Spending the summer in Bar Harbor, Maine, is the perfect answer for the teenager who loves the sea, but her mother decides to use this chance to find Lucy a suitable—and wealthy—husband. Set in the early 1900s, this historical novel shows meticulously researched details and characters who represent the variety of repressive social classes that cannot be breached. But there’s more than history in this novel. In the third of Lasky’s series, Lucy connects the third mer sister with the other two; Lucy discovers that the ocean turns her into a lovely creature with a tail. Mixed with her understanding of her newfound family is Lucy’s attraction for a boat builder and a mysterious murder of the man Lucy’s mother had selected for her daughter’s marriage. Lucy stands alone, but readers will want to return to the earlier ones, one about a servant and the second focusing on a lighthouse keeper’s daughter. Lasky said about her series, “I wanted the world, … that of the sea—to represent a realm that is the complete opposite of this rigid society. I wanted this world to be free and very sensual.” She has succeeded in this charming historical fantasy. P7Q8
Littlewood, Kathryn. Bliss. 2012. 374p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegan Books, $16.99. 978-0-06-208423-1. Ages 9-12: The theme of kids left on their own is enhanced by the scent of magic when 12-year-old Rose and her siblings are left to operate the Bliss bakery while their parents eradicate the plague in another town. The problems begin with Rose’s desire to discover the secret recipes in the Bliss Cookery Booke which involve such mysterious ingredients as a lightning bolt. The arrival of the exciting Lily, a stranger who claims to be a distant cousin there to help them, makes everything worse. Rose breaks her promise not to look into the cookbook, Lily sees her do it, and the town’s name of Calamity Falls becomes true. Littlewood depicts a realistic family from insecure Rose’s lazy older brother to her adorable little sister Leigh, and one adventure piles upon on another in the zany fast-paced plot tied to Rose’s attempts to extricate herself from Lily’s influence without help from her parents. The ending of this debut novel promises a sequel. P8Q8
Meloy, Maile. The Apothecary. Il. Ian Schoenherr. 2011. 353p. Putnam, $16.99. 978-0-399-25627-1. Ages 11-14: The witch hunts of the 1950s form the backdrop to this historical fantasy about a family forced to move from the United States to London because the House Committee on Un-American Activities is pursuing a Hollywood writing team for Communism. Their daughter, 14-year-old Janie Scott, is first resentful, but her growing friendship with the apothecary’s son, Bejamin, and their spying into Cold War espionage gives her far too much excitement to miss her former home. When the two teenagers look for Benjamin’s missing father through information in a secret 700-year-old book of magic elixirs, they get caught up with other characters such as the Pip, the helpful pickpocket straight out of Dickens; the apothecary, actually an alchemist; the handsome Latin teacher, possibly a double agent; and Sarah Pennington, a wealthy teenage snob. Romance, global conflicts surrounding the atomic bomb, history, magic, adventure, and culture smoothly blend into a fine novel with an intricate plot, fast-paced suspense, and authentic settings. While enchanting, the cover and ink drawings give the book a younger feel. P7Q8
Moriarty, Chris. The Inquisitor’s Apprentice. Il. mark Edward Geyer. 2012. 345p. Harcourt, $16.99. 9978-0-547-58135-4. Ages 11-14: Witchcraft and magic enter New York City when 13-year-old Sacha spots this at work and is immediately drafted as an apprentice to Inquisitor Wolf as part of the police force’s attempt to root out and eradicate any magical happenings, particularly among the poor. In her debut novel for young readers, adult SF novelist Moriarty uses rich language to reveal the racism, anti-Semitism, and social ills through the smells, sounds, and sights of New York at the turn of the twentieth century. The book also shows the predatory side of the wealthy through J.P. Morgaunt (Morgan) who is determined to own the machine that records the souls of people. The wild adventure is what will keep young readers fascinated as Sacha and another apprentice, wealthy Lily Astral, pit good against evil as they pursue a dybbuk that is overtaking Sacha’s body. While exploring this alternative history, readers will also get a good dose of life at that time through Sacha’s eyes as he hides his family and their tenement home from his co-workers. Sacha’s bizarre journeys from the Lower East Side to Hell Town and Chinatown while trying to solve the mystery of who wants to assassinate Thomas Edison and save Harry Houdini’s life come with fully-developed characters and a strong feeling for loyalty to family. The period detail is enhanced by the occasional full-page pen-and-ink illustrations and the humor displayed through Sacha’s predicaments. The ending shows the possibility of a sequel. P7Q9
Rylander, Chris. The Fourth Stall, Part II. 2012. 281p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $15.99. 978-0-06-19630-6. Ages 9-12: Sixth-grader Mac, nicknamed after secret agent MacGyver, sets up his “problem solving” business in the fourth stall of a little used school boys’ bathroom and survived his personal problems with friends during the first book of this series. Girls, specifically one who won’t tell Mac her real name, and the school administration cause Mac problems that may force him to close down the lucrative business. The dialog and narrative give a wonderful mobster feel with laugh-aloud humor while the excitement builds when the principal discovers Mac’s operation and business. Instead of petty problems like forging hall passes, providing homework and test answers, and taking care of bullies, Mac finds himself confronted by someone who wants to close down his school. The addition of an eighth grade girl, who makes Mac feel “like a small white mouse or whatever it is that rattlesnakes eat,” moves the plot into growing male-female relationships in middle school. As in the first book, fast-paced plot twists keep the reader’s interest in the continuation of a funny, improbable situation. P8Q8
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
April 2012 Reviews by M.D.
Cocca-Leffer, Maryann. “Time to Say Bye-Bye.” Viking. New York. 2012. $12.99. 30 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-670-01309-8.
This is a very colorful cute story about a little toddler who never wants to leave when it’s time to go. He ends up saying bye-bye to everything before he moves onto his next activity. This might be a good book for toddlers who have problems with transitions. It also makes for a perfect bedtime story.
Lurie, Susan (new verses by). Alexina B. White (based on a poem by). Photographs by Murray Hop. “Frisky Brisky Hippity Hop. Holiday House.” New York. 2012. $16.95. 35 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-2410-8. P7/Q8
This is a fun book but some of the words are nonsensical and may be confusing for beginning readers for example “scrambly bambly…” The pictures are actual photographs of very cute squirrels in a park. It can be used as a good night story as the last two pages say Good Night.
Davey, Owen. “Night Knight.” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2011. $15.99. 30 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-7636-5838-0. P8/Q8.
The front cover has a cute cut out of the little knight’s face. The colors are all red, yellow, and orange. It is a pretend story of a little boy getting ready for bed and pretending he is a knight. It is a fun way to celebrate the imagination of children.
Light, Steve. “Trains Go.” Chronicle Books. California. 2012. $8.99. 10 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8118-7942-2. P7/Q7.
This is a cardboard book so it would be great for very young children. They also have trucks go available in the series. The pictures are watercolor. The interesting thing is the shape of the book it is long and a rectangle format. The words go all different directions on the pages and there are lots of sounds a very few words.
Janovitz, Marilyn. “I Will Try.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $14.95. 30 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-2399-6. P8/Q8
This is a I Like To Read book so it will be great for young readers. It is about a young girl who is going to gymnastics and the different things she can do. It talks about trying again after you fall.
O’Conner, Jane. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. “Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet.” Harper. New York. 2012. $17.99. 35 pgs. ages 4-7. 978-0-06-170381-2. P8/Q8
The cover is beautiful with glitter and sparkles. The story is fun because the author explains what some of the words mean for example “thrilling news-thrilling means terrific and exciting all mixed together.” The pictures are very detailed and colorful as Fancy Nancy loves to pretend to be a mermaid. The story is about a ballet class that Nancy is attending. It is a good story about disappoint and friendship.
Falconer, Ian. “Olivia Saves the Circus.” Atheneum Books for Young Readers. New York. 2001. $16.00. 30 pgs. Ages 3-7. 978-06-898295-43. P8/Q8
In this Olivia the pig book she helps by making breakfast for her brothers William and Ian but of course makes a mess in the process. When she is getting dressed in her bedroom it is interesting that she has a poster of Eleanor Roosevelt on her bedroom wall. She has a very wild imagination and tells about a vacation to the circus and how she had to do all of the performance because everyone side. The flying trapeze and trampoline pages are a double fold out in the middle of the book. The teacher is not amused and asks if it was true and of cause Olivia says “Pretty true.” I love the red, black, and gray colors with are always a part of the Olivia books.
Aylesworth, Jim. Illustrated by Brad Sneed “Cock-a-doodle-doo, creak pop-pop, moo.” Holiday House Book. New York. 2012. $16.95. 30 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-2356-9. P8/Q8
The pictures are rich in tone and have a 1950’s feel to them. This is a book full of sounds of a country farm for example the “splash” of the water pump filling up the kitchen sink. Most children will have no idea about some of the goings on of a country farm but this is a peaceful good night story.
Hillenbrand, Will. “Kite Day A Bear and Mole Story.” Holiday House. New york. 2012. $16.95. 30 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-1603-5. P8/Q8
The action words are highlighted in different colors so when the Bear and Mole make a kite and fly it “zoom, zoom, zoom”: is printed in blue. The background colors of the woods, are muted with the Bear’s and Mole’s overalls brightly colored so they pop off the page. I like the way the noise words are repeated three times a well so little listeners can repeat the words with the reader.
Huget, Jennifer LaRue and Illustrated by Leuyen Pham. “The Best Birthday Party Ever.” Schwarts and Wade Books. New York. 2011. $16.99. 35 pgs. Ages 4-8. 978-0-375-84763-9. P8/Q8
This is a funny story about a little girl who is planning for her birthday and is counting down the months, weeks, days and hours till her party. I enjoyed her detailed imagination and plans. She even wants to give everyone a hamster as a party favor. Her mother tells her that the birthday party is getting a little out of hand because she wants a parade with fireworks. And right after her seventh birthday party is over she starts counting down and planning her next birthday party. The pictures are cute and have an old time feel to them with a great deal of detail.
Hubbard, Jennifer R. “Try Not to Breathe.” Viking. New York. 2012. $16.99 233 pgs. High School. 978-0-670013-90-6. P8/Q8
The content of this book is more mature as it deals with suicide, mental hospitals, and young lovers. Ryan is 16 and finds Nicki at the waterfall where be goes to forget his pain after his release from the mental hospital. Nicki is hiding the fact that her own father committed suicide at the very waterfall. Nicki is able to get Ryan to share his darkest secrets but hides her own. There is trust issues and dealing with lost, loneliness and trying to re-enter the world after a stay at the mental hospital. This story has some very raw emotions that are explored.
Gonik, Adam. Illustrated by Bruce McCall. “The Steps Across The Water.” Disney Hyperion Books. New York. 2010. $17.99. 297 pgs. Middle and High School. 978-142311213-6. P7/Q8
This book is a nice read for someone who loves to use their imagination. I enjoyed the color pictures which are interspersed throughout the story. It is about a city within a snow globe UNORK which is the opposite of New York. The young girl travels from New York to the tiny snow globe city and has to save the city from the wicked women who happens to be her real mother. This story drags the reader into to this mystical fanciful world and is similar to Alice in Wonderland.
Warner, Carolyn, Selected and Introduced. Forward by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner. “The Words of Extraordinary Women.” Newmarket Press. New York. 2010. $18.95. 163 pgs. High School. 978-1-55704-856-1. P7/Q8.
There are several other books in this series Words of Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., of Peace etc. The book is a group of quotes by Women on many different subjects such as the arts, character, education, success, etc. They usually consist of just one or two sentences so they would be perfect for use in as talk, presentation, or paper on the various subjects. The book also includes an introduction that speaks to the importance of such quotes.
Edited by Amy Ehrlich. “When I was Your Age…Original Stores About Growing Up.” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2012. $14.99. 341 pages. Middle and High School. 978-0-7636-5892-2. P7/Q8
This collection of over 20 writers stories of when they were young is very interesting. This book includes both volumes me and two which were first published in 1996 and 1999 respectively. Another feature I really enjoyed was each author was pictured as a youth and the chapter ends with notes from the author about why they wrote the particular story to highlight their youth. The author biographies are also included at the end of the book. Many of the authors mention how they know they were going to write as a profession this would be a great read for budding authors.
Peck, Robert Newton. “Weeds in Bloom…Autobiography of an Ordinary Man.” Random House. New York. 2005. $15.95. 209 pgs. Middle and High School/Adults. 9780375-8280-10. P7/Q8.
The author Robert has written more than 65 books but his style and stories may be more interesting to adults. He is a cowboy who grew up in Vermont and now lives in the Everglades of South Florida. The book is set up with different parts and chapters from boyhood, manhood, and the Florida Years. I found it interesting because I grew up in Florida and I’m familiar with the landscape. Some of the sentence structure and words he was may be unfamiliar to a young reader. But the book has black and white photos included which add interest.
Book Reviews for March/April 2012 By A.G
Abbott, Tony. Lunchbox Dream. NY: Frances Foster Books, 2011. $16.99 178 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 978-0-374-34673-7 P8/Q8
In 1959, a white family stressed by internal struggles takes a road trip south to Atlanta, Georgia, touring Civil War battlefields. The other side of the story is of a Black family from Georgia. The two families encounter each other only in passing, but each has a social drama which is driving it. Most of the book deals with the realities of Jim Crow laws and attitudes of the day, how an ignorant young white northerner first experiences them, and how Black people victimized by Jim Crow have to deal with it. While the social injustices of Jim Crow are clear, the author does not imply that the whites of the time are themselves without social problems: It is implied that the white mother is herself a victim of spouse abuse. The title refers to a poem by Langston Hughes. This would be a good extra-credit reading for high school modern history classes.
Amato, Mary. Edgar Allan’s Official Crime Investigation Notebook. Maple Vail, PA: Holiday House, 2010. $16.95 140 pp. ages 7-11 ISBN 978-0-8234-2271-5 P7/Q7
This mystery for young readers involves the theft of a class pet, a goldfish. Edgar keeps the clues to the crime in a notebook (an artifice that is actually less conspicuous than the title implies). As other items disappear from the classroom, Edgar’s detection of verbal clues is pitted against Patrick’s detection using forensic science (aided by his detective father). The book explores personal relationships, and the fact that clues to people’s internal lives are sometimes misread but present. The essence of the clues and solution, though, is poetry (spoiler alert….. the thefts turn out to be a stunt by the English teacher to introduce a poetry unit). While the book would be a recreational read, it could also be read aloud to a classroom in the same way that the teacher in the book leaves clues for the students to solve, opening discussion about poetry as well as understanding people and their motivations.
Beckman, Thea. Crusade in Jeans. NY: Lemniscaat, 2011. (copyright 1973) $9.95 (paperback) 311 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-1-935954-07-1 P8/Q8
This Dutch classic, which won a prestigious book award when first published, is a time-travel story set in 1212 AD. A modern Dutch teen goes back in time in his scientist father’s experimental time machine, intending to return 24 hours later. Thwarted from standing on the appropriate rock to return by the presence of children marching on a crusade, Dolf is forced to remain in the Middle Ages. With nothing better to do, he joins with the teen whose life he saved from robbers and travels with the thousands of children. His natural leadership skills come into play, and his caring nature encourages him to stay with the children to protect them. (A 2006 movie based on part of the story changes the plot quite a bit.) It’s a fast read despite its apparent length, and would be a good illustration of medieval life for a 7th grade class studying medieval Europe. The novel, being clearly fiction, is able to avoid the debate among historians as to whether the thousands who went on this crusade following Nicholas were young children (some modern historians believe that they were, in fact, young men), but the author does throw doubt on the old stories that there were 30,000 in that march (guessing that it was probably about a third that number), and also intimates that the crusaders were the poor and unattached Germans who went on the crusade. There are many medieval sources that mention the “children’s crusade”, so it is likely that it actually happened, but the time-travelling version offered here gives an opportunity to illustrate the kinds of conditions and mentality of the time without having to debate the facts of the old stories. It is a readable and action-packed adventure story that will appeal to both boys and girls. It would make a good read-aloud for a middle school classroom studying the middle ages.
Cashman, Erin. The Exceptionals. NY: Holiday House, 2012. $16.95 236 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 978-0-8234-2335-4 P8/Q8
Claire, 15, is the daughter of the founding family of a boarding school for exceptional students:
students with extra-sensory powers. Claire is forced to leave her public high school and come to school at Cambial Academy when she messes up, even though she doesn’t have a special talent—she thinks. A dark force is at work, threatening the school, and Claire seems to be its salvation. This book should appeal to fantasy-lovers, especially those who are fans of Harry Potter. There is an element of discovering a student’s unknown and untapped potential, of empowerment to fight evil in the world, as well as camaraderie between students who are not obsessed with appearance or modern culture, that has an appeal to young people.
Chandler, Kristen. Girls Don’t Fly. NY: Viking (Penguin), 2011. $16.99 300 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 978-0-670-01331-9 P8/Q8
Myra is just about to graduate high school, but she’s mired in taking care of her family. Between her mother’s evening job, her 4 younger brothers, and her pregnant sister, she seems to be always needed and not have time to develop her own interests. Then her boyfriend of a year and a half dumps her. More as a distraction than anything else at first, she decides to apply for a biology internship in the Galapagos Islands. Fighting the lack of belief in her abilities on all sides, she steadily proves that she’s up to the task. The book is a fast read, and not at all awkward. A girl who is dedicated to family is a welcome change for a modern character, but it is equally refreshing to have her successful in pursuing education in science. The reader ends up caring about Myra, and appreciating her growth of character. This should appeal to readers who like modern social dramas.
Murdock, Catherine. Front and Center. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. $16.00 254 pp ages 12 up ISBN 978 -0-618-95982-2 P9/Q9
Books featuring sports are often dry histories, picture books, or something other than dramatic
fiction. This one, the third of a series about a girl jock, is closer to a coming-of-age story, complete with romance. The series began with DJ as an underclassman, wanting to play football with the boys and the awkwardness of realizing her dream. The second featured her interfacing with her brother who had been paralyzed with a football injury. This volume deals with her senior year playing basketball, and the fears and tensions around being recruited to play for college. The characters are believable and the writing seamless; I read it cover to cover in just a day or two. Both boys and girls should find the story interesting, whether or not they are jocks.
Noe, Katherine Schlick. Something to Hold. Boston: Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin), 2011. $16.99 244 pp. age 8 up ISBN 978-0-547-5813-4 P9/Q9
Set on the Warm Springs Reservation in central Oregon, this story is about an elementary school girl who moves in 1962 when her father is transferred there. The author speaks from her own life, and the place and people feel authentic. The story speaks to a greater understanding of what students are going through outside of school, and to cultural (in)competence of teachers. The book is a fast read, suitable for any age, and has drama to keep it moving. I’d like to see this in all of the Lincoln County school libraries—elementary through high school.
Weatherly, L.A. Angel Fire. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2011. $17.99 638 pp. ages 13+ ISBN 978-0-7636-5679-9 P8/Q8
The second of a series (there’s got to be more coming…), Angel Fire takes up the day after Angel Burn leaves off. It has so little back-filling on the story that it appears that the original manuscript was just so enormous that the publisher simply divided it into bindable volumes, and this one is at about the maximum possible. The science fiction story is dynamic, original and exciting, and despite its size it is a quick read. Angels, in this story, are alien beings who feed off human energy, a kind of energy vampires. This volume makes it clear that the angels in the first volume are not necessarily in line with those in power from their other world, and that their negative and callous disregard for human life does not align with the ruling angels’ vision of “sustainable energy”. Willow, the half-angel, meets her male counterpart, and the extent of half-angel powers is explored further. The ending leaves so many questions that there’s no doubt that there will be a sequel, a book which will be anxiously awaited by all who read the first two volumes. This series is already popular with high school: Definitely something to get for the libraries.
Book Review by K.D.
Dana, B. 2009. A voice of her own: becoming Emily Dickinson. New York, New York. Harper Collins Publishers.
Dana has researched the life and times of Emily Dickinson as well as her many hundreds of writings over forty-five years of her life from a young girl of nine onto a mature woman of fifty plus years. The time period includes the 1830’s through the 1860’s in a New England, with reference to living, visiting, and going to school in Massachusetts, Washington D.C., Chicago, and New York. The life of a young girl and her family expressed in first person by the author who researched the history of Emily Dickinson: the farm, the town, the schools, and the girlfriends, family, family pets, family friends, political climate, family vocations and experiences and expectations of men, women, boys, girls, and pets, boyfriends, doctors, ministers, and instructors. The first person use was similar to journal, novel, and diary writing which was compiled in the manner of Emily Dickinson.
First Thursday Book Reviews
Costanza, Stephen. Vivaldi and the invisible orchestra. “Christy Ottaviano Books.” Henry Holt, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780805078015 Ages 4-6. P7Q8
Through playing with perspective and including unexpected details just under the rich, faded colors of Venice, Costanza introduces composer Antonio Vivaldi and the invisible, hidden orchestra of orphans who played his compositions. One of Vivaldi’s works, the Four Seasons, was published with a set of four sonnets by an anonymous author. In this story, Costanza imagines the unknown author of the sonnets as the orphan, Candida, who had the task of copying music by hand each day for the orchestra. A good introduction to music history and the power of the imagination. Recommended for preschool, elementary and public libraries.
Jessell, Tim. Falcon. Random House, 2012. Unpaged. $17.99 ISBN 9780375868665 Ages 3-6. P7Q8
A child daydreams life as a peregrine falcon, sweeping the reader along into light drenched illustrations that are similar in skill to the painterly works of Thomas Locker. The author’s passion for falconry is evident in the careful renditions of the soaring raptor while the simple text creates transitions from one scene to the next. Recommended for preschool, elementary and public library collections.
Kent, Allegra. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Ballerina swan. Holiday House, 2012. Unpaged.
$16.95 ISBN 9780823423736 Ages 3-6. P7Q7
Sophie, a swan, decides to join the ballet classes she has watched from her pond. Sophie finds that some ballet moves come easily to her, but some require practice. This collaboration between celebrated ballerina Allegra Kent and ballet enthusiast /illustrator McCully encourages perseverance in pursuit of one’s dreams. Includes a glossary of ballet terms. Recommended for kindergarten, elementary and public library collections.
Millard, Glenda. Illustrated by Rebecca Cool. Isabella’s garden. Candlewick Press, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780763660161 Ages 3-6. P6Q7
Colorful, intricate, folk art mixed media illustrations pair well with the rhyming, repetitious, additive refrain about creating a garden through the seasons. An Australian title originally published in 2009, this is the first U.S. edition. Recommended for elementary and public library collections.
Winter, Jeanette. Kali’s song. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780375870224 Ages 3-6. P7Q8
In the prehistoric world of woolly mammoths and cave dwellers, a boy given his first bow finds that he can make music by plucking the string. Winterson’s simple illustrations of acrylic paint and pen and ink drawings on handmade paper bring to life a simpler world in which the harmonies of music echo the harmonies of the natural world and can captivate even the largest beasts. Recommended for preschool, elementary and public library collections.
Jones, Diana Wynne. Earwig and the witch. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky. Greenwillow Books, 2012. 115 p. $15.99 ISBN 9780062075116 Ages 6-9. P8Q8
Earwig, an orphan adopted by a witch, uses her intelligence and cunning to learn the skills to defeat her. Zelinsky’s line drawings pair well with the text and I particularly enjoyed the foreshadowing in the chapter headings of the smoking toasters. A delightful, though all too brief, fantasy, highly recommended for elementary and public library collections.
Judge, Lita. Bird talk: what birds are saying and why. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. Unpaged. $17.99 ISBN 9781596436466 Ages 4-8. P8Q8
Bright, lively, accurate illustrations of common and less-well-known birds show the ways that bird species communicate. Each section begins with a double page spread introducing a behavior, usually followed by a page or two of vignettes that show examples of the behavior in other bird species. Includes a glossary, bibliography, list of birds included in the text, and an engaging author’s note. Highly recommended for elementary school and public library collections.
Potter, Alicia. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Mrs. Harkness and the panda. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9780375844485 Ages 4-8. P8Q8
Melissa Sweet’s watercolor illustrations over paper collage beautifully illustrate the story of Ruth
Harkness who took on her deceased husband’s quest to locate the elusive panda in the wilds of China in the 1930s. Refrains of naysayers and the account of what it took for her to get clothing for the expedition show some of the difficulties faced by women explorers of the time. Includes a chronology and selected bibliography. Recommended for public and elementary school libraries.
Young adult fiction
Franklin, Emily & Brendan Halpin. Tessa Masterson will go to prom. Walker & Company, 2012. 256 p. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-8027-2345-1. Gr. 9-12.
Lucas and Tessa are two lifelong best friends who come to a parting of the ways when Tessa refuses Lucas’s flamboyant prom invitation and then comes out as a lesbian. Tessa’s purchase of a tuxedo to wear to the senior prom and her intention of bringing another girl to the as her date focus the conservative religious wrath of small-town Indiana on her, culminating in a school board decision to cancel the prom with parents planning an abstinence prom to which Tessa is pointedly not invited. This novel told in two voices explores the strain that questions of sex and sexuality can place on friendships as well as the destructive potential of conservative religious homophobia in small communities. Unfortunately, though this plot comes directly out of recent news reports, the outcomes in real life are often not as positive. Highly recommended for middle and high school library collections as well as public library young adult collections.
Winterson, Jeanette. Why be happy when you could be normal? Grove Press, to be released March 2012. 240 p. $25.00 ISBN 9780802120106 Ages 14-up. P7Q9
British novelist Jeanette Winterson, OBE, published the novel, Oranges are not the only fruit in 1990, writing of a girl raised in an evangelical household who discovers her attraction to her own sex and is banished from her home and church because of it. Winterson revisits the themes of Oranges, but now as a memoir exploring the ways her early life as the abused and neglected adopted lesbian daughter of a flamboyantly depressive evangelical Christian mother in working class Manchester have affected her life and relationships, eventually leading to her mental breakdown. Highly recommended for public library and high school library collections.
April 2012 Book Reviews
Patricia Polacco: Bun Bun Button. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. ISBN 978-0-399-25472-7. $17.99. Gr. K-3
Paige loves spending time with Gramma cuddling in the Old Blue Chair with the cats and the dogs and the pet squirrel. As they sat in the chair Paige realized that she was the only one that didn’t have a special toy to hold, so she asked Bramma to make her one. Gramma works through the night to make a special stuffed bunny for Paige. Paige calls it Bun Bun Button. Bun Bun Button goes everywhere with Paige but when Gramma buys Paige a balloon she ties it to Bun Bun and accidently lets go of the string while she was outside. Bun Bun Button goes on an adventure, Paige is left to wonder if he will come back. Gramma continues to tell Paige that “we Darlings are lucky” and Bun Bun finally returns with the help from the squirrel. Gramma mends Bun Bun, Paige returns to Gramma’s to find him home. A delightfully illustrated story of the love between Gramma and Grandchild and how they enjoy the Old Blue Chair together with all the animals. P. 9, Q. 9
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen / Geraldo Valerio. Half-Pint Pete the Pirate. G. P. Putnam’s sons, New York. 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-25173-3. $16.99. Gr. K-2.
The pirate Half Pint Pete sails half the seven seas with half a treasure map until he meets Half-Baked Belle on a ship he was going to pillage. Half-Baked Belle has the other half of the map. Together they find the treasure and discover that they are a perfect pair to sail all the seven seas. Rhyming text and bright graphics add to this early pirate story. P.8, Q. 8.
Peter Golenbock, pictures by Dan Andreasen. Abc’s of Baseball. Dial Books. New York, 2012. ISBN 978-0-8037-3711-2. $16.99. Gr. K -4.
Take an alphabetical tour through baseball terms with this wonderfully illustrated book. The reader will learn all the key information needed to understand the game of baseball. This book is complete with an introduction as well as a fun facts section at the back. P.9, Q.9.
Felicia Bond. Big Hugs, Little Hugs. Philomel Books. New York. 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-25614-1. #16.99. Gr. K-2.
Celebrate hugs with dogs, cats, hippos, turtles, bats and more as they hug inside, outside, here and there. The universal feeling of love in represented with colorful are illustrations. P. 9, Q. 9.
Sally Sutton. Illustrated by Brian Lovelock. DEMOLITION. Candlewick Press. 2012. ISBN 978-0-7636-5830-4. $15.99. Gr. K-2.
Sound words take you through the busy world of the demolition of a building. A crane with a wrecking ball along with an excavator with dinosaur teeth, shredders and trucks take down the building. Bulldozers smooth the ground to make way for a new playground. P.9, Q.9
Paul Schmid. Petunia goes wild. Harper. 2012 ISBN 978-0-06-196335-3. $12.99. Gr. K-2.
Spend a week with Petunia who just knew that she should have been born an animal because “being human is just to clean, careful, to hafta”. She wanted to be her parents pet, her mother told her how lucky that she was to be a child that being an adult is not easy. As Petunia waited inside her box that she had labeled “mail to Aftica” she could hear her mother singing and she thought of all the things that tigers did not do. Petunia decided that her box would be good if things got too human-ish. Black and white with purple illustrations accompany this story. P. 8, Q. 8.
Jan Ormeord & Freya Blackwood. Maudie and Bear. G. P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 2010. ISBN 978-0-399-25709-4. $16.99 Gr. K-3.
Five beautifully illustrated stories share the world of Maudie and Bear. The take a bike ride for exercise, Maudie finds a little house in the woods and is happy to get back home to her own chair. They make a nice snack, have an argument, make up and share a story with each other. A cute story of how friends share things and sometimes argue but are always friends. P. 9, Q. 9.
Maria Kalman. Looking At Lincoln. Nancy Paulsen Books. New York. 2012. ISBN 978-0-399-24039-3. $17.99. Gr. 1-4.
Abraham Lincoln the 16th president of the United States is celebrated in this easy to read story. Bright graphics and colorful print highlight many facts about Mr. Lincoln. Readers will learn when and where he was boy, many facts throughout his life to his death in the theater. Early report writers will find helpful information about the life of Mr. Lincoln. P. 9, Q. 9.
McKinlay, Megan. Duck for a day. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5784-0. Somerville, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2012. 1st U.S. ed. 89 p. $12.99. K-3.
Abby and Noah both want to take Max (the new class pet) home for a day. Their teacher Mrs. Melvino tells them that Max isn’t some fluffy pet that sits around in a cage, he is a duck after all. To have him for a day there are many things he will need first. Abby and Noah, who are neighbors separated by a fence, both work to get all the things that Max will need. Finally Abby gets to take Max home for the night. When she gets up the next morning Max has let himself out of his cage and gone to the park. Noah arrives to help Abby catch Max. While working together Abby and Max learn that although they are different they both really care about Max and end up taking care of him together. The pencil illustrations and character to this story. P.9, Q. 9
Trine, Greg. Melvin Beederman Superhero: Invasion from planet Dork. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8165-7. New York : Holt, 2010. 138 p. Gr. 3-6. $17.99.
Melvin Beederman, superhero can sense that something is not quite right. He calls in some help from friends from the superhero Academy. The four superheroes split up into twos to see if they can find what they all felt. While Candace and Margaret were patrolling lair Hill they were taken by surprise by some Aliens who have come to Earth to capture some humans for their science project. Melvin and James arrive at the spaceship just in time to hitch a ride to the Planet Dork where they rescure the girls and return to Earth. Black and while illustrations add to this superhero story. P. 8, Q. 8.
McDonald, Megan. Stink and the incredible super-galactic jawbreaker. ISBN: 978-0-7636-3236-6. Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2007. 1st pbk. ed. 118.p
Stink is mad, his super-galactic jawbreaker that it took an entire week to eat, did not break his jaw. He decides to write a letter to the jawbreakers company. Eleven days after his letter Stick received a box full of jawbreakers (10 pounds or 21,280 to be exact) accompanied by an apology letter. Now what to do with all those jawbreakers? What is he wrote more letters? Stink did write more letters with wonderful results. When Stink’s parents found out about the letters and their results, they told Stink that he had to stop writing letters and they would have to figure out what to do with all the stuff that Stink had received. In Stink’s excitement upon receiving more boxes he disregards an envelope from his best friend Webster that is an invitation to his birthday. When Stink gets to school Webster is mad at him for missing his birthday. Feeling bad about this, Stink arranges a celebration in class for Webster. Stink’s father brings all the stuff that he had received from writing letters for Webster’s birthday. The book finished with a list of idioms (in order of appearance). Another great chapter in the world of Stink Moody. P. 9, Q. 9.
Bolger, Kevin. Illustrated By Aaron Blecha. Zombiekins. ISBN: 978-1-59514-177-4. New York : Razorbill, 2010. 205 p. $6.99. Gr. 3 – 6.
Number 4 Shadow Lane was having a yard sale and even though it was strange Widow Imavitch’s house people still came to look to see what was for sale. Stanley and Miranda stopped to check it out on their way home from school. Stanley found a weird looking stuffed animal that he decided to buy. The Widow told him to read all the instructions and handed him a bag of candy telling him that he would never know when it would come in handy. Stanley took the stuffed animal that was part bear part bunny with fangs and claws out of the package and discarding the package in the nearest bushes never reading the instructions. When the stuffed animal (Zombiekins) is exposed to moonlight strange things happen. The next morning all of his sisters other stuffed animals are ripped to pieces. Stanley blames it on the dog. Stanley decided to take Zombiekins to school. When Zombiekin gets out of Stanley’s backpack and goes for a walk he bites a few people who then become zombies. Before Stanley and Miranda can catch Zombiekins and find the antidote he has turned the entire school into zombies. Finally with nothing left but the candy in the backpack and trapped in the teacher’s lounge Miranda throws it at the pack of zombie students who upon eating it return to normal. They had the antidote all along. When Stanley gets home he puts Zombiekin into a metal box with a lock so that this sort of thing will never happen again. Black and White illustrations bring added detail to what can go horribly wrong when a stuffed animal is brought to school. P. 8, Q. 8.
Strickland, Brad. Grimoire : tracked by terror. SBN: 978-0-8037-3061-8. New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007. 182 p. Gr. 3 – 6. $15.99.
Trapped in the pages of the Grimoire a magical Book Jarvey and his friend Betsy work together to survive each new world that they encounter. Somewhere his parents are trapped in the book and he needs to figure out the Grimoire’s secrets so that he can save his parents and finally escape from the pages.
Flanagan, John. The outcasts / : Brotherband Chronicles – book 1 . ISBN: 978-0-399-25619-6.New York : Philomel Books, 2011. 1st American ed. 434 p. Gr. 4-6 $18.99 Review by. C. Thomas, 5th Grader at Oceanlake Elementary.
Hal is a young inventor and he is going to Brotherband which is a way of living to become a Viking or Skandian. When he starts he has a rival who wants the best of everything named Tursgud. Tursgud doesn’t want Hal to win any of the challenges. When Hal wins a challenge Tursgud comes to fight him but it is a draw, but when they are caught they lie to the chief commander so that neither will get into trouble. Competitions continue and during a navigation challenge a fellow competitor’s boat sank so Hal went back to save him allowing Tursgud to win. Hal comes out ahead at the final count for the competitions. While guarding the Andoal (A priceless Skandian Treasure) Hal went to check on his boat, when he returned the Andoal had been stolen. The book ends with Hal and the rest of Brotherband going to retrieve the Andoal. I would recommend this book to a friend. P. 9. Q. 9.
Lupica, Mike. The underdogs. ISBN: 978-0-399-25001-9.New York : Philomel Books, 2011. 280 p. $17.99. Gr. 4 – 6
Review done by M. Mora 6th grader at Oceanlake Elementary.
Will lives in Forbes, Pennsylvania, he is a football player. His football team didn’t have enough money for uniforms so he sent a letter to a company called New Balance asking if they would be willing to sponsor his team for a year. New Balance responded with a “yes”. Another problem for the team was they had no coach and not enough players. Will’s dad became the coach, the team added a girl and some of last year’s players. During the season Will’s friend and the quarterback of the team moved away so the team faced another setback. One of the other players was able to step in as quarterback to save the season. I felt it was a little hard to tell if it was a first person narrative, but I liked the book. P.9, Q.8
Howe, Peter, Warriors of the Black Shroud. ISBN: 978-0-06-172987-4. New York : Harper, 2012. 1st ed. 266 p. $ 16.99.
Gr. 3 – 6. Review done by H. Bishop. 6th Grader Oceanlake Elementary.
A boy named Walker was born with a birthmark on his face shaped like a star. A boy his age comes to him to tell him to go to another kingdom with him. Walker doesn’t at first but later decides to go with him. They dig a hole in the ground and jump in and are then in an underworld called Nebula. They go visit the king and Walker finds out that his birthmark is a sign of the chosen one and Eddie was sent to find him. The warriors of the Dark Shroud want to take over Nebula and while trying they kill the king of Nebula. Walker is then asked to be king. Walker needed to decide so he went back home where he met Frankie who traveled back to Nebula with him. When they returned they had to face the Black Shroud again, with Eddie’s help they defeated the Black Shroud and Walker becomes king. I liked the book it was cool, it had fairy tale like qualities. I would recommend it to a friend. P.8, Q. 8
Hays, Anna. Portia’s ultra mysterious double life. ISBN: 978-1-41694893-3 (pbk.). New York : Aladdin Mix, 2008. 1st Aladdin Paperbacks ed. 211 p. Gr 5 – 8. $5.99.
While picking up after an earthquake Portia finds a major clue to her missing father. Portia’s mother does not talk about him and has told Portia that when she is older she will tell her all about him but Portia does not want to wait. Hiding what she has found from her mother Portia decides to become a detective to uncover more about him. As she volunteers to help others with earthquake recovery she continues to find a few clues about her father. When she confronts her mother with this information, her mother continues to avoid the subject. At the end of the book Portia is o.k. with it being just her and her mom and the case of her missing father is not officially closed and to date her findings are inconclusive. P. 9, Q. 8.
Book Reviews March, 2012 – C.B
Calkhoven, Laurie, Michael at the invasion of France 1943, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012, 231 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-8037-3724-2, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
This is Calkhoven’s third book in her historical series “Boys of Wartime.” I read the first one, Daniel at the siege of Boston 1776, and found this book to be even better. Michael who is half French and half American is only 11 years-old the year that the Germany invaded France. It is now 1942 and 13 year-old Michael is determined to fight the Germans any way that he can. Michael hears General de Gaulle on the radio telling the French people that “Whatever happens, the flame of resistance must not and will not be extinguished.” He and his friend Jacques rip down German signs and paint Viva la France on buildings. Michael becomes involved with the French resistance and helps pilots and others to get safely out of France. What I liked most about this novel is Michael and how well rounded his character is. He has flaws like we all do and doubts, such as never being able to live up to his dads expectations. He grows into a brave and young man who comes to see his own worth. This historical novel will appeal to both elementary and middle age students.
Fitzmaurice, A diamond in the desert, Viking, New York, 2012, 258 pg. $16.99,
ISBN:978-0-670-01292-3, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,
Tetsu Kishi was 12 years-old when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1942. It was in this same year that his father is taken away by the military for questioning. For Japanese Americans it was a time where they were forced to move to relocation centers. Tetsu, his 8 year-old sister, Kimi and mother are relocated to the Gila River Relocation Center in near Rivers, Arizona. The story is narrated by Tetsu and based on actual events. He tells his story by using the seasons of the three years that his family lived at the camp. The tone or mood of the story is dark with hardly any hope being offered to the families who were imprisoned here. It is baseball that really gives a spark of hope to Tetsu, his family and others who were able to gain a sense of normalcy by simply attending a game.
Fussell, Sandy, Monkey fist, illustrated by Rhian James, Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2009, 250 pgs. $6.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-5827-4, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
I read the second book, The owl ninja, in this series, The Samurai kids, and was delighted to find the fourth book. The house of Cockroach Ryu members are now in Japan where they must go to the Forbidden City with their Sensei to rescue Kyoko. Kyoko was kidnapped at night by a revengeful Lu Zeng, an old enemy of Sensei. The mysterious forest dwelling people, the Lin come to the aide of the Sensei and the Samurai kids. They teach them the secret ways of the forest people in exchange for the rescue of a seven year Lin child called Niya. Lu Zeng is to kill him so that he can learn why the Lin people live so long. This is a fast paced adventure that kept me on the edge of my chair as the plot twisted and turned with the antics of Samurai kids. The black and white drawings help reveal the mysterious happenings of the story.
Horvath, Polly, Mr. and Mrs. Bunny – detectives extraordinaire! Illustrated by Sophie Blackall, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, 2012, 248 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:978-0-375-86755-2, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 9,
Madeline lives on Hornby Island off the coast of Vancouver, Canada with her hippie mom and dad. She is the one who worries about everything and usually take cares of what needs to be done. She doesn’t always agree with her parents and sometimes goes against them. Such as attending public school and getting up at five in the morning to catch a ferry for school. Buying white shoes for the schools award presentation is more important to her than buying candles, especially when Prince Charles is to be in attendance. Her parents are kidnapped by foxes for they need the address of Madeline’s uncle, who is a secret decoder for the government of Canada. Her parents can’t convince the foxes that only Madeline knows the address of the uncle, she is the one in the family who takes care of such matters. Madeline must get to her Uncle’s so that he can help her rescue her parents. Her uncle is sick and has fallen into a coma. Madeline must rely upon Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, first time detectives, to help find her parents. The black and white illustrations by Sophie Blackall help convey this adventures many hilarious plot twists.
Lawson, Julie, Ghosts of the Titanic, Holiday House, New York, 2011, 2012, 169 pgs. $16.95, ISBN:978-08234-2423-8, Gr.4+, P 8, Q 8,
Kevin lives in Victoria, British Columbia where in school they are studying about the Titanic. The Titanic is something that he finds fascinating. He is not happy though when his summer plans are ruined. His family inherits a home on an island near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. None of his family knows who the benefactor was that left the house. Kevin talks to the local populace and finds out that the house is haunted. He also finds out that a man, Angus Seaton was the owner of the house that he went mad. When the ghostly image of a young girl starts to haunt Kevin, he has to find answers to where her little boy is, so she will stop haunting him. There are actually two stories in the book. One is of Kevin and the other is of Angus Seaton and his involvement with the Titanic, both will have the reader on the edge of their chair.
Lowry, Lois, Gooney Bird on the map, illustrated by Middy Thomas, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Boston, 2011, 125 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:978-0-547-55622-2, Gr. 2+, P 8 , Q 8,
Gooney Bird, is a second grader in Miss Pidgeon’s class where the teacher lets her do almost anything she wants: leading the class in discussions, doing class projects, and letting her get projects okayed by the school principal. The illustrations are simple black and white pictures that show case Gooney Bird’s latest project, drawing a United States map in the snow that will show where all the students are going for vacation. This is the fifth book in the Gooney Bird series and the first that I have ever read. This series will appeal to young readers as they read about the antics of Gooney bird.
Lu, Marie, Legend, Putnam, New York, 2011, 336 pgs. $17.99, ISBN:978-0-399256752, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,
In a futuristic society the United States has been broken into two regions that are ruled by different factions. A dystopia world in which America has had a war that caused this division and there are still conflicts between the two governments. The story is written from two different viewpoints that of June and Day. June, comes from the ruling military government and she is being trained to become a member of the military elite. Day, comes from a more humble back ground. His father at one time worked for the government and then disappeared. The family is now in economic straights and they live in squalor like conditions. There has been a serious infectious disease that changes every year that has eliminated most of world’s population. The military and the rich are able to buy a yearly vaccination that will prevent them from getting ill, but the poor can’t. Day, breaks into a military hospital so that he can steal one of the vaccinations for his ailing little brother. He is accused of killing June’s brother and June is determined to bring him to justice. The military government declares Day one of the most wanted terrorist of their nation. Day and June meet and come to understand that the government is not what it seems.
MacLachlan, Patricia, Kindred souls, Katherine Tegen, Books, New York, 2012, 119 pgs., $14.99, ISBN:978-0-06-052297-1, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 9,
I am reading this book aloud to the students in my school and they call the story a tear jerker. I call it one of the best books that I have read this year. Having read Sarah, plain and tall I was delighted to find another story by the author that is geared for a younger audience. I have myself experienced a death in my family this last year and I found myself crying by the end of this story. Patricia MacLachlan handles the subject of death in a clear, gentle and understanding way that will help younger students understand and deal with death. I will always remember the lines “Billy is eighty eight years old. And Billy will live forever.” My students are wrong, it is not a tear jerker it is a celebration of a wondrous life that is coming to an end.
McElligott, Matthew, + Tuxbury, Larry, Benjamin Franklinstein meets the fright brothers, illustrated by Matthew McElligott, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2011, $12.99,
ISBN:978-0-399-25480-2, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,
The Modern Order of Promethaus, is a secret organization that Ben Franklin belongs to and has preserved him in a leaden casket for over 200 years. It is the orders duty to preserve the world’s greatest scientists, and a guardian has always looked after those who are asleep. Ben’s guardian has died leaving no one to monitor him. Ben has been awakened by a freak lightning strike and it is Victor Godwin, he is the only one who knows Ben Franklin’s true identity, who helps Ben is adjusting to life in the 21st century. When the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, appear havoc starts to happen in the city of Philadelphia. It is Ben, Victor and Scott who must discover why mysterious bites are appearing on people’s necks and to save the city.
Palacio, R. J., Wonder, Alfred A. Knoff, New York, 2012, 315 pgs. $15.99, ISBN:978-0375-86902-0, Gr. 5+, P 9, Q 10,
What do we all do when we see someone that does not appear normal to us? We lo–after all it is human nature to notice something that is different. But in the case of August Pullman, people look, gape, make comments, are frightened, or look away very quickly. August was born with an extremely deformed face and has experienced twenty seven operations that have helped him and his face. He is known as Auggie to his parents and sister and he is now going to attend public school for the first time. He’s frightened and scared and relies on three students, who showed him around the school, to help him adjust to the 5th grade. Two that showed him around, one is Jack who becomes his friend and the other is Julian who spreads rumors and makes life hard for Auggie. The story is told through alternating characters and this adds to the complexity of the story. This is a book that WE all should read!
Patron, Susan, Lucky for good, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2011, 208 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-1-4169-9058-1, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,
Susan Patron won the Newbery Medal for her story The higher power of Lucky. This is third and final book if this series that finds the main character, Lucky Trimble, now eleven years old. I did not read the other two books was surprised how much I liked this vivacious young girls character. She lives in Hard Pan, a desert town, with a population of 43. Her adoptive mother is Bridgette who runs a café that features French cooking. Bridgette is also her father’s first wife, her mother died when she was born. Her father she hasn’t seen but once in her life and she thinks that he hates her as he doesn’t talk to her. This is a coming of age story where Lucky comes to terms with so many things in young life.
Reese, Jenn, Above world, Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2012, 256 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-5417-7, Gr.5+, P 8, Q 8,
I LOVED this book ! The question I had to ask myself was what type of book was this: an adventure, science fiction, a myth or an epic fantasy. The only answer I came up with was all of them rolled into the pages of this book. The world suffers in our future and has become so crowded that people have gone into space, under the oceans and into the deserts. To adapt to their new environments they have become centaurs, mermaids, and people with wings and many whom are called the Upgraders. The Upgraders are the ones who are searching for the hidden cities and their people. When they are found they murder people or they harvest body parts. The body parts are to be used in upgrading the Upgraders and changing others into Upgraders. It is Aluna, a 13 year-old girl and Hoku, a 12 year-old boy who come from the City of Shifting Tides, a city under the ocean, and who together help to save their world from the Upgraders.
Voorhoeve, Anne, translated from German by Tammi Reichel, My family for the war, Dial Books, New York, 2007, 2012, 402 pgs. $17.99, ISBN:978-0-8037-3360-2, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,
Franziska Mangold, a 10 year-old girl, and her family’s lives are changed when Adolf Hitler becomes the leader in Germany. Franziska and her family are of Jewish decent but they have been Christian for three generations. Under Hitler’s view Franziska and her family are still Jewish and all the new laws pertain to her family. Franziska and her best friend Bekka find places to hide and practice escaping and hiding from the German’s. Bekka and her family want to get her and her brother out of Germany and apply to for places for them on the Kindertransport. It is Franziska and Bekka’s brother who are given a spot on the transport that will take her London. England. Her Franziska is eventually taken in by a Jewish family and in time they become her family. She becomes known as Frances to her new family who encourage her to study her Jewish heritage and to embrace their religion. Correspondence between her family grows harder and harder and Frances comes to realize that she may never see her other family again. The mood and tone of the story are set against war-torn London and the desperation that her new family faces, as their son joins the Navy and the Blitzkrieg rains down upon them.
Adler, David, Perimeter, area, and volume : a monster book of dimensions, illustrated by Edward Miller, Holiday House, New York, 2012, unp., $16.95, ISBN:978-0-8234-2290-6, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,
Standardized testing takes up a majority of schools time. With states money being coming tighter and tighter testing is one way that schools can garner money from the federal government. So I am always looking for a book that can teach students in a fun way about math and other subjects. This one, with its bright colorful monsters, will surely appeal to all ages as they learn about dimensions. It is a great book to use in a review or a new lesson on perimeter, area and volume. Measuring the different heights and sizes of the monsters is a unique way to introduce volume and area to younger students. I have shown this book to the teachers in my school and they can’t wait to use it in their rooms. I have other books by David Adler and I will be looking for others by him to put into our schools library.
Hicks, Kyra, Martha Ann’s quilt for Queen Victoria, illustrated by Lee Fodi, Brown Books Publishing, Dallas, Texas, 2007, unp. $16.95, ISBN:978-1-933285-59-7, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 8,
Martha Ann Ricks, is 12 years-old the year, 1817, that she and her family’s freedom is purchased for twenty five hundred dollars. He father earned the money so that he could take his family away from the Doherty Plantation in Eastern Tennessee and to freedom in Liberia, Africa. Later her family dies from an outbreak of typhoid fever leaving Martha Ann an orphan. She grows up and marries Sion. Martha Ann vows to herself that one day she will go to England where she wishes to thank Queen Victoria for the navy who protect them from the slave ships. It takes her 50 years to save the money. She sails to England and with the aid of the Liberian Ambassador she is finally able to give the queen a quilt that she worked on for years. The soft colored illustrations show the determination of Martha Anne to present her Coffee Tree quilt to Queen Victoria.
Levinson, Nancy, Rain forests, Illustrated by Diane Hearn, Holiday House, New York, 2008, 40 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:978-0-8234-1899-2, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 7,
This book is geared towards a younger audience that is studying the rain forest. The illustrations feature bright colored animals that are labeled for each layer of rain forests. A simple text is also clear and does a good job of introducing what a rain forest is. For more information students will have to go to other books.
McKissack, Lisa, Women of the Harlem Renaissance, Compass Point Books, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2007, 48 pgs. index, $27.99, ISBN:978-0-7565-2034-2, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,
With the use of black and white photographs that are time appropriate McKissack tells the history of the six women who lived in Harlem. The six women featured are writers, singers, sculptors, a teacher and anthropologist who all came from Harlem. There is a chapter written about each of the women and describes their lives in Harlem and their climb to success. I know that discrimination for African American men and women was profound during this time. I found myself, however celebrating the freedom that some of the women of Harlem had. This is a unique book that gives the reader a look in to a time that I found myself wanting to have experienced.
Sayre, April, Vulture view, illustrated by Steve Jenkins, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2007, $16.95, ISBN:978-0-8050-7557-1, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 9,
Turkey vultures have to be the most ugliest birds that I have ever seen. After having this book they are still ugly but very interesting birds. The cut-paper collages show this bird in different scenarios’ that the reader will be able to see just how fascinating they really are. The text is written using a rhythmic cadence that carries the reader along on the vultures ride through the sky. At the end of the book the author has included more information about vultures.
Stone, Tanya, Elizabeth leads the way : Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the right to vote, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon, Holt Henry and Company, New York, 2008, unp., $19.75,
ISBN:978-0-8050-7903-3, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 9,
I recently had a discussion with my classes about women’s rights and how limited they were in the 1700 and 1800’s. I stressed the point that it wasn’t until August 26, 1920 and the passing of the 19th amendment that women were given the right to vote. I made mention of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony’s role in helping women to gain the right to vote. I was there for great full for finding this book. Even as a young 13 year-old girl Elizabeth yelled at her father, Judge Cady that it was unfair that women could not own property after their husband had died. He told her the law was the law and only men could change it. She was told that girls did not do the same things that boys did. This young woman did though! At 16, when there were no colleges that would accept a girl, she begged her father to let her continue learning. It was several years later that she met and married an abolitionist named Henry Stanton. She had children who she loved but the house work was not something that she enjoyed. On July 19, 1848 she went to Seneca Falls, New York where the Women’s Rights Convention was convened. Here with other women she helped to write the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. The illustrations appear flat but time sensitive and are done in gouche and colored pencil on paper. This book will appeal to elementary students who want to study about Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
Strauss, Linda, The Elijah door : a Passover tale, illustrated by Alexi Natchev, Holiday House, New York, 2012, unp,$16.95, ISBN:978-0-8234-1911-1, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
It is Alexi Natchev’s block prints that really bring this tale alive for the reader. He was inspired by traditional eastern European folk prints when he was asked to illustrate this book. Strauss’s tale is of two families who life in a small village that is sometimes in Poland and sometimes in Russia. It is a tale of Passover that the two families have always shared and celebrated together. That is until one day the family’s start a feud over of a deal, that goes wrong. The fight is about how many geese were swapped for laying hens? The two families however can agree that two of the geese died, but the question is who fault is it? It is David and Rachel who are members of the two different families who come up with a way to settle the argument and that finally bring the two families together again.
Carbone, Elisa, Night running : how James escaped with the help of his faithful dog, illustrated by E. B. Lewis, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008, unp. 2008, $16.99,
ISBN:978-0-375-82247-6, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
In 1838 James Smith and his dog leave Master Graham’s farm in Virginia in a bid for freedom. Being a slave who is trying to escape, the last thing James wants to take with him is his loud dog, Zeus. The dog could draw unwanted attention to him. It is Zeus, however, who saves his life as he makes his way north. The watercolors by Lewis are rich and very realistic that showcase James and Zeus escape to freedom.
George, Lindsay, Alfred digs, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2008, unp., $$17.89, ISBN:978-0-06-078761-5, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
If you are looking for a book that you could use to introduce dictionary then this is one to read aloud to your class. Alfred Aardvark lives at the bottom of a burrow with his mom, aunt and his pet ant, Itty Bitty. Alfred loses Itty Bitty one day so he leaves a note for his mama and digs into the dictionary. He digs past the alphabet before he finally spots Itty Bitty and rescues him from a Woodpecker’s beak. It is mama who finally scares the scratching Woodpecker away and rescue both Itty Bitty and Alfred. The watercolor and ink drawings are brightly colored illustrations that draw the reader into Alfred’s adventure.
Goldberg, Myla, + Gassaway, Steven, Catching the moon, pictures by Chris Sheban, Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, 2007, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-439-57686-4, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
This is a whimsical tale of an old woman who each night takes her fishing rod, reel and a mouse to fish by the light of the moon. The moon is confused as to why she would fish by night and not in the day. After all who wants to fish in the dark? Every night the moon watches the old woman and one night decides to visit her. Everyone knows that one night each month there is no moon and the sky is dark. After having tea with the old woman, the moon goes back into the night sky but he leaves behind his luminous footprints. Each moonless day of the month thereafter the moon has tea and conversation with the old woman. She talks of the tides staying away from her house and the moon obliges by changing the tides for her. The moon finally quits visiting the old woman but she calls out hello to him each night that she goes fishing. The illustrations are done in watercolor and Prismacolor pencils that shimmer with the glow of the moon. Each page that has words is printed on a creamy gold and blocked in by a darker glow, almost as if the moon’s glow is reflected on them.
J.V Reviews 04/05/2012
Stein, Davie Ezra, Love, Mouserella Nancy Paulsen Books of Penguin Publishers; 2011 $15.99; ISBN 978-0-399-25410-9; hardcover about 30 pages Age: preschool. P8/Q9
This is a fun book, written like a large letter taken out of the envelope on the cover and read like a letter would be. There are great pictures of Mouserella and many of her own drawings. She is writing a letter to her grand mouse that she misses. This book should hold the attention of a child and give lots for a little one to talk about.
Carnesi, Monica, author and illustrator, Little Dog Lost The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic. Nancy Paulsen Books of Penguin Publishers, 2012 $15.99; ISBN978-0-399-25666-0; hardcover about 30 pages. Ages preschool. P8/Q9
This is a true story is about a lost dog floating down the river on ice for two days and about his rescue. This is a sweet book with beautiful illustrations for an early reader or a read to book.
Adler, David A, and Adler, Michael S. Sam Houston, A Picture Book Illustrated by Collins, Matt. Holiday House Book Publishing; 2012 $17.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2369-9; hardcover about 30 pages Ages; grade school P8/Q9
A great history book about Sam Houston and the era he lived through. There is a time line in the end of the book which summarizes his life achievements. Nicely written, to the point and holds interest of reader. Would be excellent addition to a class room
Coffelt, Nancy. Author, illustrator; Aunt Ant Leaves through the Leaves a story with Homophones and Homonyms Holiday House Publishing; 2012 $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-2353-8, Hardcover about 30 pages Ages: grade school 1-3 P7/Q9
This book would be great in a class room as a teaching aide for learning about Homophones and Homonyms. The Homophones are highlighted in the text and there are fun pictures.
Ward, Lindsay, When Blue Met Egg Penguin Books; 2012 $16.99, ISBN 978-0-8037-3718-1, Hardcover about 30 pages Ages: Preschool P6Q7
A blue bird searches for the mother of the egg she found in her nest which is really a snow ball. After months it gets warm and melts. The illustrations are good. On the cover it says a “timeless story of friendship” I see it more as dedicated to finding mom or perseverance but the snowball never says a word to the bird. Small children may see the bird as silly not knowing it is a snow ball.
Redman, E.S., Author & Illustrator, The Unruly Queen Candlewick Press; 2012 $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7636-3445-2 Hardcover about 30 pages Ages; read to or early reader P8/Q9
The illustrations are fantastic. The story is in rhyme about the unruly child that no Nanny can survive. Then Nanny no 53 arrives. I like that the bad behavior is portrayed as the child’s actions and not in conflict with mom and dad directly.
London, Johathan, Froggy Builds a Tree House Illustrated by Remkiewicz, Frank ; Penguin Group Publishing; 2011 $16.99, ISBN 978-0-670-01222-0 Hardcover about 28 pages Ages 2 and up. P7/Q8
Another cute Froggy story. He and his friend work together to build a tree house.
Lyons, Kelly Starling, Ellen’s Broom Illustrated by Minter, Daniel; G. P. Putnam’s Sons division of Penguin publishers; 2012 $16.99, ISBN 978-0-399-25003-3 Hardcover about 30 Pages Ages: Grade school middle years P8/Q9
As slavery was abolished, the newly freed slave now had the right to marry legally. Prior to this time they were not allowed by law to marry and families could be torn apart at the whim of the owner. This story tells about this and the marriage ceremony that began the tradition of jumping over the broom to be married in the eyes of god. The Author’s note sheds light on this Historical fiction. Would be a great addition to a class room.
LaReau, Kara, Mr.Prickleas a Quill Fated Love Story. Illustrated by Magoon, Scott; Neal Porter Book of Roaring Brook Press, 2012 $14.99, ISBN 978-1-59643-483-7, Hardcover about 30 pages Ages: Preschool P5/Q5
Mr Prickles is not accepted by the other animals because of his porcupine prickles. He only finds
happiness when he meets another porcupine to become friends with and stay with his own kind. I was not personally happy with that. However the illustrations have some interesting use of color for as the porcupine becomes more angry the pages change color from grays to reds. That is nicely done.
Day, Alexandra Carl at the Dog Show. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2012 $14.99, ISBN 978-0-374-31083-7, Hardcover about 35 pages Ages; preschool P9/Q10
This picture book is absolutely wonderful. A little girl is let loose with her babysitting dog at the dog show. Mostly a picture book with very little text. Any child will have lots to tell about with the detailed realistic drawings. At end there are three pages of dog pictures with the breed written below and the child is to be a dog detective and see if they can find each dog in the book.
Petroff, Shani. Bedeviled: Careful What You Wish For. Grosset & Dunlap, 2010, 237 pgs. Ages 10-13. ISBN 9780448451138 $6.99 P5 Q4
Angel Garrett is a middle schooler, and oh, by the way, the daughter of the devil. The reader would need to read the first two books in this series to ascertain how this occurred. The reader is informed that Angel does not approve of her father and has had some run-ins with “Lou” (short for Lucifer) which make her steer clear of him in the present day. In her zeal to be the exact opposite of her father, she uses little practiced skills to grant the wishes of her best friend. But the good deed backfires when the friend kind of likes having her wishes granted! It was not necessary to have read the previous books to figure out what is going on here, but perhaps it would have helped deepen the story. As read, it is a very fluffy story and the reader doesn’t develop much empathy with any of the characters. The cover is engaging, with a young girl dressed in a trench coat and dark glasses and looking mysterious. I would not recommend that a library buy this book—there are better ways to spend your budget!
Cox, Judy. The Secret Chicken Society. Il. Amanda Haley. Holiday House, 2012, 88 pgs. Ages 8-10. ISBN 9780823423729 $15.95 P 7 Q8
Even though the cover of this book depicts some cartoony-looking kids chasing some cartoony-looking chickens, this book is totally realistic, and yet quite entertaining. A family ends up adopting five chicks from a 3rd grade class when the chicks are hatched in an incubator as a science lesson. Four of the families opt out at the last minute and thus, all five chickens end up in the backyard of one family. Of course, when one turns out to be a rooster, which is prohibited in the neighborhood, the kids have a problem. There are lots of fun little adventures with the chickens and a realistic portrayal of what it takes to care for chickens in the backyard. Ages 8-10 will enjoy this story and they will learn from it, as well.
Parker, Steve. Ocean and Sea. Scholastic, 2012, unpgd. Ages 12-Adult. ISBN 9780545330220 $15.99 P7 Q5
Who wouldn’t want to dive right into a book with a cover like this? It has a gorgeous photo of a sea turtle swimming above almost neon colored undersea flora and fauna. But a few pages into the book, it is a bit disappointing. It is divided into chapters with huge font announcing the subject: “ALL ABOUT OCEANS.” The chapter title took up half of two facing pages. One almost has to hold the book at arm’s length to read the words, which would be great for story time, except this book doesn’t work for very young children. Each chapter comprises about ten pages of beautiful photos and scattered facts about the broad topic. It would actually make a great coffee table book, where the reader just picks it up and reads one chapter, then goes on to some other bit of entertainment. It is not conducive to reading from cover to cover. It does have a digital companion book that the reader can download with the code in the book, and lots of other handy aids, such as a glossary, index and side panels with symbols to tell the reader other books to read or places to visit. Most of the pages are so busy, it is easy to skip over those helpful little symbols. Although this book might give a student an idea for writing a report, it would not be a useful homework tool, as it doesn’t give enough facts about any one subject to make it helpful. Not a recommended buy for a library.
Offill, Jenny. 11 Experiments That Failed. Il. By Nancy Carpenter. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011, unpgd. Ages 5-8. ISBN 9780375847622 P9 Q9
You don’t even know the name of the enterprising little scientist in this book, but you just have to love her! She conducts 11 experiments that all go horribly wrong, but she never gives up using her scientific method. The illustrations are a brilliant way to tell the story, using pen and ink drawings and photographs seamlessly integrated. The cover is very enticing, with a drawing of the girl dumping a real bottle of ketchup on snowballs in a real beaker. A stream of shiny, raised red snakes its way across the cover, making the reader want to touch it and then, of course, find out what is inside. The end papers show two more experiments, drawn in simple style, in case you just haven’t had enough with 11. This one would be so much fun to read in school. Teachers: make note.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Yolen, Jane. Take Two! A Celebration of Twins. Candlewick Press, 2012, 72 pgs. Ages 3-10. ISBN $17.99 P8 Q9
At first look, this is just a picture book with an attractive cover of two upside-down babies in polka dot diaper covers. But when the reader opens the cover, so much more is revealed. It is 72 pages of poems and sweet, sly illustrations of twins and the situations they find themselves in. On every other page there is a “Twin Fact” that is interesting reading for any age. This would be a great gift book to twins or parents of twins, and a great read-aloud book to a classroom with twins. There is a lot of entertainment packed into this $17.99 book.
C.S.- Siletz Public Library / April 2012 Reviews
Veldkamp, Tjibbe. Philip Hopman, il. Tom the Tamer. Lemniscaat, 2010, 2011. $16.95. ISBN 9781935954057. Unp. Ages 4+. P9Q9.
This lively story is about how Tom the Tamer helps his father conquer his fear of animals by putting on a “show” with cleverly disguised animal friends from the local pet store. Tom is very creative in how he does this- the cover flap of the book notes that Veldcamp “often writes about resourceful children who are creative problem-solvers.” In the end Tom’s father is able to go outside and becomes comfortable with animals. The story is silly and fun and the illustrations are wonderful. There are two large pullouts with pictures full of fun at the end.
Waechter, Philip. Moni Port, ill. Bravo! Gecko Press, 2011.$17.95. ISBN 9781877467714. Unp. Ages 4-8. P8Q8.
Helena has a problem. She lives in a nice house with a nice family, but her father is extremely loud- he’s a shouter, though very sweet. Eventually she has had enough and moves out. Helena’s parents look for her (her father is determined to reform himself) and eventually track her down at a concert where she is playing her trumpet. The only noisy one in the audience is her father, shouting Bravo! And this time Helena is happy to hear him.
Ursu, Anne. Breadcrumbs. Walden Pond Press, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780062015051. 312 pgs. Ages: 12+. P8Q9.
This was a wonderfully engrossing story, appropriate for middle school age readers, but satisfying for older ones too. It’s a modern day fairy tale that must have been inspired by The Snow Queen (Hans Christian Andersen) and the Narnia stories. Hazel and Jack are best friends and share a love for science fiction and fantasy, and are immersed in their own imaginative world. When Jack disappears, Hazel goes on a quest to find him. The story touches on many traditional fairytales, and is in turns funny, scary, and very sad. One of the themes that I found beautiful in this book is the sorrow children sometimes feel while growing up because of the loss of innocence, changing relationships with friends, and the need to sacrifice things they treasure to help others.
Ylvisaker, Anne. The Luck of the Buttons. Candlewick Press, 2011. $15.99. ISBN 9780763650667. 224 pgs. Ages: 8-12. P8Q9.
12 year old Tugs is from a luckless family, and nobody expects much success from her because of that. Through the course of the story, set in 1929, we see that tomboy Tugs is very much her own person and is determined to make her own luck. She wins a camera in a raffle, solves a mystery, saves the town from a scam artist and begins to understand that the reputation of her family doesn’t have to shape the course of her own life. This was very readable- I read it in an afternoon and was sorry for the story to come to an end.
Barrows, Annie. Sophie Blackall, ill. Ivy + Bean: No News is Good News (Book 8). Chronicle Books, 2011. 127 pgs. Ages 6-10. P9Q8.
This is another fun Ivy and Bean book. Ivy and Bean have to think of a way to make money- their moms won’t buy them coveted red wax-covered cheese. They can use the wax to make amazing things like boogers and mustaches, and all the other kids have it. So, they come up with a plan to make some money- this involves writing a neighborhood newspaper requiring a subscription. As you might expect, their exposés of local events don’t go over very well. All of this is illustrated with Blackall’s simple and cute illustrations. The vocabulary is challenging in parts, but kids will love this silly, engaging story.
Rossi, Veronica. Under the Never Sky. Harper, 2012. $17.99. ISBN 9780062072030. 376 pgs. Ages: 12+. P9Q9.
Readers who liked The Hunger Games and Divergent will probably like this book, the first in a new trilogy. Aria and Perry come from very different worlds. Aria lives in the enclosed city of Reverie, in a “pod”, a high-tech community which is protected from the dangerous climate and people outside. Perry is an “outsider”, meaning that he lives outside the protected city and is considered by the people inside to be a savage. Aria and Perry are thrown together after a series of events and eventually learn to understand and even love each other. The book is violent, complex, and the harsh but beautiful world is very, very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the characters develop and look forward to the next novel.
First Thursday Book Reviews: May 2012 K.R
Plum-Ucci, Carol, Following Christopher Creed. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011; 405 pages. $16.99. Q.
8 P. 8 FCC is the sequel to Plum-Ucci’s novel, The Body of Christopher Creed, written about 11 years ago. While several other reviewers have indicated that one needs to read BCC first, I found that this is a fine stand-alone novel. For me, the real problem was my tendency to compare the two books which I believe is a mistake. BCC is one of the best YA psychological novels I have ever read. Christopher’s story is told from the point of view of Torey Adams who was a witness to his being abused by his alcoholic mother and bullied by the kids at school. Eventually he disappears and everyone wonders what has happened to him. In FCC, Torey, now a budding music sensation, has been keeping blog on Creed and the people who played a major role in his life and disappearance. Enter Mike Mavic, a legally blind college newspaper reporter, who has come to Creed’s home town to investigate another murder and to meet the major characters from the previous novel. I feel that Plum-Ucci dropped the ball over a couple of issues. First of all, there are reports of a higher percentage of cancer and car accidents in the community since Creed’s disappearance, but nothing is resolved with this issue. Mavic repeatedly goes back to his own past, where he, too, was abused and bullied. While it makes him sympathetic to Creed, often the reader thinks, enough already. There were also some discussions about “bad frequency,” “quantum thought,” and an unnerving reference to Tory’s fine hands (which makes the reader wonder whether something awful will happen to them—nothing does, however.) While I respected Mavic’s concern for Creed’s younger brother, and enjoyed the peculiar relationship between Mavic and his girlfriend, I have to admit that the book is not on the same level as BCC. Note, however, that with its lack of swearing (there was too much in BCC), this novel will appeal to younger students, say 8th grade through, maybe, 10th, who enjoy a slightly predictable mystery.
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Midnight Palace. Little, Brown and Company; 1994; English translation copyrighted 2011. 298 pages. Translated by Lucia Graves. Q. 9 P. 8 Ages 10-14+
I was delighted to read another book by one of my favorite authors. Zafon, who wrote the adult novel, In the Shadow of the Wind, has written a terrific YA novel about friendship and courage. Ben (a boy) and Sheere (a girl) are twins whose lives were saved by an English lieutenant, living in Calcutta in the 1930s when their mother dies. The lieutenant was able to deliver them to their grandmother, Aryami, who, realizing that she cannot raise both safely, sends the boy to St. Patrick’s orphanage where he develops a closely-knit relationship with 5 other boys who, like Ben, will be sent out of the orphanage when he turns 16. In the meantime, the children meet in a creepy abandoned mansion—the midnight palace—to tell stories and pledge to always be there for each other. On the day Ben is to be released, Sheere arrives with her grandmother and even though they don’t know each other, the twins are immediately drawn to trust each other. This feeling will be tested as they try to avoid the supernatural murderer who wants to destroy them. Although this novel doesn’t reach the same heights of character development and plot as In the Shadow of the Wind does (after all, it’s an earlier book of Zafon’s that wasn’t published in English until 2011), I enjoyed the atmosphere and the camaraderie of the orphans whose lives are at stake in this story of exotic magic.
Patrick, Cat, Forgotten. Little, Brown and Company, 2011. 288 pages Q: 9 P: 9
I have a personal prejudice against most teen-age/YA novels involving romance. They are typically SO clichéd! However, here’s one that I highly recommend because of the overall premise: London Lane cannot remember her past—not even yesterday’s events; however, she does remember future events. Can you imagine how complicated life would be under those circumstances? Every morning at 4:33 her memory resets itself while she’s sleeping so that when she wakes up she has to rely on the notes she made for herself the day before to be able to recall the events, people, and school work she needs in order to function. She has a girl friend with whom she is on the “outs” because Jamie is involved with a married school teacher (I hate plots that include situations like this). However, the story needed a negative character and Jamie fits the bill. But, and this is important, there’s also Luke Henry, the boy that comes into London’s life. He is totally accepting of her daily challenge and for me it was fun to read about how the two teens were able to adapt to each other: every day was like meeting Luke again for the first time. London is a solid character whose concerns don’t focus just on her memory issues. Luke is kind, but they still argue, like typical teens do. London’s mother is an involved parent (nice plot twist), and the end finally resolves the reason why London cannot remember her yesterdays (but it doesn’t tell–thereby taking away the magic–of why she can remember the future). I like this novel and recommend it to high school students looking for something different in a romance/mystery.
Lovric, Michelle. The Undrowned Child.Delacorte Press; 2009-2011. 442 pages Q: 8 P:8
I enjoyed this book, but I am still struggling to describe the appropriate audience for it. The heroes, Teodora Gasparin and Lorenzo are only 11 years old, and yet, because of their interests in history and their intellectual development, they seem older (most of the time). On the other hand, while younger children often like to read about protagonists who are older than they are, the vocabulary (including foreign names), the setting (Venice), and even some wildly quirky dialogue from mermaids who sound more like salty sailors than the Walt Disney mermaids that younger students are used to may make it difficult for a younger audience. I know that Lovric would like to appeal to the Harry Potter crowd so perhaps I’ll just leave it at that. In spite of having been raised in Naples, Teo has always wanted to visit Venice, a place that has always fascinated her. Because she was adopted, she doesn’t realized until many pages into the book, that she was actually born there and that her family was instrumental in keeping various evil forces at bay. Now it is up to her and Renzo to stop Bajamonte Tiepolo (an actual character from history) from regaining his power and destroying the city. Mermaids and a vast collection of ghosts, skeletons, cats, and even “saints” become involved while the novel leads the reader into the exciting battle that is the climax. The writer has included a map and list of actual places in Venice where the children go. It was interesting to see what geography is real in the story. Like Harry Potter’s adventures that begin in a typical London town before _____, the reality of the setting adds interest to the plot and characters.
Stork, Francisco X., Irises. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2012. 288 pages. High school reading level topics. Q. 7 P. 7
In Irises, two sisters, Mary (16) and Kate (18) must face issues that would overwhelm most adults coming as they do immediately after a tragedy. When their father dies suddenly, they are left with debt, choices regarding their jobs, marriage, faith, and even the morality of whether to allow their mother’s body to die, as she has been in a vegetative state for two years, connected to life only by a feeding tube. The aunt that they had hoped would help them has cancer. The boy, Simon, that Mary has been dating for 18 months wants to marry her, but Kate has dreams of attending Stanford to become a doctor (an unusual career choice, I think, for one as callous and—for most of the novel—selfish character). Mary, a natural artist has withdrawn into herself, unable to see the “light” that has inspired her to paint since her mother’s accident. Of course, things turn out well in the end, but only with an epilogue that skirts most of the issues and simply lets us know that the girls have moved on. There is one sexually explicit paragraph in the novel.
As escape literature, I suspect that Irises has value, but I found the writing immature: too many adverbs for one thing, preachy scenes with the pastor who takes over after the girls’ father dies, and a very unrealistic moment of clarity for Kate that is intended to make up for all the selfishness she has shown heretofore.
Voorhoeve, Anne C., My Family for the War; translated by Tammi Reichel. Dial Books, 2007; 2012. 402 pages Appropriate for good readers in 6th grade through any reader middle school to high school. Q.9 P. 9
Like so many other families, the Mangolds waited too long before deciding to leave their homes in the wake of Hitler’s terror. Only their daughter, Franziska, is able to escape via a secret kindertransport for England. The Mangolds are not practicing Jews; as a matter-of-fact, several of Franziska’s ancestors were Christian. Her temporary family is very traditional and while she resents the confusion she feels at first, eventually Franziska adapts to this new culture–until once again she is sent to another family where she is treated poorly (Dickens-like) by another Jewish family. Throughout the novel, Franziska gradually finds her place in the world in spite of (and maybe because of) serious tragedies and deaths of loved ones around her. I really liked this story. Although the setting was WWII, the story is really about family—who is our “real” family? Those who raise us or give birth to us or sacrifice for us? Franziska is easy to relate to for her concerns are ones that anyone can feel. She is open and her emotions fit with the circumstances she is in. The people around her are just as real as she is; therefore, the reader cares about them as well. Voorhoeve continues the story beyond the war itself which allows the reader time to contemplate the rewards of love and to be grateful for the experience of having spent time with these characters.
Richter, William. Dark Eyes. Razor Bill, 2012. 373 pages. High school level: includes language and violence. Q. 9 P. 9
The novel starts with a murder and the bodies certainly pile up. While Dark Eyes is being promoted as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, I’d suggest that it’s not nearly as cynical and the main character gives us less knowledge about herself than Lizbet does in TGwDT. In fact, that is probably my only complaint about this page-turner of a mystery: the reader never completely understands Wally (known as Valentina in the Russian orphanage from which she is adopted when she is five) or her motivations for leaving a comfortable life with the Stoneman family to be the leader of a crew of homeless kids. It is a dangerous life, one that the independent and practical Wally does well in–that is, until she receives a packet of clues directing her to the identity of her birth mother. Thinking that she finally has the information she needs to answer the one pressing question in her life, Wally focuses entirely on reaching her goal of meeting her mother. As her father Klesko, a Russian mob boss and her brother, Tig[e]r, who is just as vicious, come into Wally’s life, it is up to her to find her mother before they do as they plan to kill her for the fortune in alexandrite jewels mother stole from Kelsko when she left for America. Wally is aided in her search by her crew: Tevin, Ella, and Jake as well as the detective who is trying to solve the murders as they occur. Nevertheless, Wally is mostly on her own and the reader can hardly read fast enough to find out what happens. This is one of the best mystery/adventure novels I have read in a long time. Every single loose end is tied up by the end and leaves the reader totally satisfied. A sequel would be welcome, but is not required. Very enjoyable.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers May 2012
Reviews by M.D.
McClafferty Killough, Carla. “Tech Titans” Scholastic Inc. New York. 2012. $6.99. 144 pgs. 4th-12th grade. 978-0-5453-6577-2. P8/Q8.
This book is a great resource for a beginning computer tech class in middle or high school. I shared the stories with my special education classroom and the boys really enjoyed learning about these men and what they have contributed to technology. They liked the fact that some of the men started off a little rough in school and had autism because they could relate to these facts. The book has color photos a map, timeline and index and is very easy to read and research.
Berger, Gilda and Melvin. “Why Do Feet Smell?” Scholastic Inc. New York. 2012. $4.99. 48 pgs. 2nd-5th grade. 978-0-5453-4665-8. P8/Q8.
I think most young boys will probably pick up this book because of the title and picture of the front cover. The book has simple pictures and words so the youngest of readers may be able to use this book. Most of the pictures are of elementary students but some of the facts may be fun for middle school science class as well.
Claybourne, Anna. “100 Scariest Things On The Planet” Scholastic Inc. New York. 2011. $7.99. 112 pgs. 5th-9th grade. 978-0-5453-7444-6. P8/Q8
This book is filled with actual photos of some of the things mentioned on each page. There are scary things from nature, places, monster, strange science, stunts and feats. It has a bit of a Ripley’s believe it or not feel to the format. Each page has a scale of scary faces to show how scary the things are on a scale. The words are in different text fonts and boxes so one can read this book easily and just skim it as well.
Harrison, Paul. “3-D Thrillers! Bugs and The World’s Creepiest Microbugs” Scholastic Inc. New York. 2011. $4.99. 31 pgs. 4th-8th grade. 978-0-5452-8178-2. P8/Q8
The book comes with a pair of paper 3-d glasses in the inside front cover and will probably be lost if it was in a library. Each 2 page spread has at least one 3-d picture but the book can be used without the glasses as well. The format is picture bubbles and word boxes so it is very engaging for the visual learner.
Arlon, Penelope. Harris-Gordon, Tory. “Farm” Scholastic Inc. New York. 2012. $7.99. 32 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-5453-6571-0. P8/Q8.
The pages of this book are a very sturdy cardboard type page. There is a content page, a discover more and a digital companion book from online. There is also a glossary and an index at the back of the book. The book has actual photos with large words for younger children and would be a great re along opportunity. The pages also have additional photo block, bubbles and word arrows. It shows how the food goes from farm to store. There is even a section on rare farms.
Patricelli, Leslie. “Faster! Faster!” Candlewick Press. 2012. $15.99. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-7636-5473-3515-99. P8/Q8.
The only words in this story are “faster, faster“with a few sound words. It is about a little girl who starts by riding her dad’s back and yelling “ faster, faster “ she pretends he is a dolphin, cheetah ect. And at the end he is a turtle because he is so tired. This is a great story for a father to read with their little girl.
Kaiser, Ruth. “The Smiley Book of Colors” Random House Inc. New York. 2012. $8.99. 30 pgs. Preschool. 978-0-3758-6983-9. P8/Q8.
This is a book of colors for young children but the pictures are photographs of “smiles” for example in the cut strawberry. The story focuses on being happy no matter what. This would be a great book to share in a social group great because they have additional photos of miles and they also tell you what they are. Ex “ski smiley”.
Garland, Michael. “Fish Had a Wish” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $14.95. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-8234-2394-1. P7/Q8
This is a very simple short book for beginning readers. It is one of the “I like to read” books from holiday hones. It is about a fish who wishes he could be a bird so he can fly but then decides after he eats a fly that he is happy to be a fish. The pictures are dark and meted but have interesting texture as they look like sketches this would make a good story time might really look good from far away.
Gibson, Amy. “Split! Splat!” Scholastic Press. New York. 2012. $16.99. 25 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-4395-8753-2. P7/Q7
This story is in a simple song – rhyme format that would be fun for a read aloud for young children. The pictures are bring and inviting. The book is full of sound – words about a young girl and her friends and dog playing in the mud and rain.
Beaumont, Karen. “Dini Dinosaur” Greenwillow Books. New York. 2012. $14.99. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-0620-7299-3. P8/Q8
Dini the dinosaur is trying to take a bath after he has played outside in the mud but forgets to take off his shoes, hat… before he gets in the tub. This is a good night story as well as the mom and baby dinosaur end up falling asleep after trying to get all cleaned up.
Wood, Audrey. “Blue Sky” The Blue Sky Press. Scholastic Inc. New York. 2012. $16.99. 25 pgs. Preschool. 978-0-5453-1610-1. P8/Q8.
This is at two words per page book with the words being part of what is happening, for example on the “rain sky” page the words are part of the rain. I’m not sure I like some of the drawings of the family members in the pictures. This could be used as a bedtime story book as the last few pages are “sleep sky” and “dream sky”.
Snyder, Laurel. “Good night, laila tov” Random House. New York. 2012. $17.99. 25 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-3758-6868-9. P8/Q8
The title of the book is comforting words in English and Hebrew “Good Night, Laila Tov.” I like the simple colorful pictures about a family who goes on a camping and humanitarian adventure. The family plants trees in the forest so the children are learning to take care of nature and give back. I also noticed on the pages at the end of the story when they are back at home there is a menorah in the window. I had to read the inside cover to know that “Laila Tov” was a Hebrew phrase. This would be a great book to read to young children. [Note: “Laila tov” translates into the English “good night.”]
Reedy, Trent. “Words in the Dust” Arthur A. Levine Books. Scholastic Inc. New York. 2011. $17.99. 266 pgs. Middle school and high school. 978-0-5452-6125-8. P8/Q8.
I really enjoyed this story because I could relate because I know of a father and daughter who go to third world countries and help with clef pallet and lip surgeries for children who can’t otherwise be helped. The book has a great introduction from the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature about the importance of telling the stories in Afghanistan. The book has a glossary and pronunciation guide that really should have been at the beginning of the book to help with the names and words I was not familiar with. I really enjoyed the author’s note at the end of the story as it was enjoyable to see how the story came about. He is an English teacher who was also called up to Afghanistan as part of his National Guard service and experienced some of the things in the story. There are some interesting cultural differences in the story such as arranged marriage and the place of women in the Afghanistan society. The book also ends with a note about the poetry in the book and additional readings about Afghanistan.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Reviews by N.W.
Aronson, Marc. Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies. 2012. 230p. Candlewick, $25.99. 978-0-7636-5025-4. Ages 14+: During the almost 50 years of Hoover’s control over the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he changed the FBI from a minor agency to a huge controlling organization by collecting information on almost everyone in the United States and sometimes outside its borders. Although a few pages cover Hoover’s life, most of the book concentrates on his battle against Communism, a controversial political party that many people feared and others thought would help them out of the Depression. Aronsen works hard to be unbiased in his presentation, so hard that the legal abuses that Hoover committed are sometimes glossed over as others, such as the Mafia, get blamed for these actions. Without any proof, he also declares that Hoover had no predilection for wearing women’s clothes and had no intimate relationship with his assistant, Clyde Tolson. At the same time he passes along unsubstantiated stories about Hoover’s African-American background as possibly true. There is also no mention of Hoover’s secretary, who played a big part in Hoover’s research. Four pages describing how Aronsen did his research is useful for educational purposes as is the extensive bibliography. To create a more exciting narrative, the author has used questions, first person, and exclamations that sometimes appear obtrusive to the writing. P6Q6
Hopkinson, Deborah. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster. 2012. 289p. Scholastic, $17.99. 978-0-545-11674-9. Ages 12+: This book may be one of the best to be released during the centennial year of the sinking of the “unsinkable” ship after it hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic 400 miles off the shore of Nova Scotia. Black and white photos and illustrations, letters, eyewitness accounts, and brief bios of many of the travelers are accompanied by a timeline, facts and figures, final report, statistics of both survivors and non-survivors, and a very extensive bibliography. Weaving all these together is the thirdperson narrative to tell the entire story. Readers can either move through the book in a linear fashion or move from one section to another, seeing visuals of telegrams, maps, menus, and other reproductions for browsing.
Judge, Lita. Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why. 2012. Unp. Roaring Brook, $17.99. 978-1-59643-646-6. Ages 5-7: Factual information about bird communication in attracting mates, calling partners, thwarting predators, encouraging chicks to hatch, etc. is accompanied by imaginary statements such as “I’m the strongest” from about two dozen bird species. The bold illustrations set against the white background make the drawings seem life-like, and the invented speech can be very funny. Four pages at the end provide additional information about the selected bird species.
Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp. Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud. Il. Larry Day. 2012. Unp. Dutton, $16.99. 978-0-525-47903-1. Ages 6-9: Over two centuries after the signing of the Constitution, many people have come to the belief that the Founding Fathers were perfect and that politics then was civil. Jurmain disabuses the young readers of this idea by showing the relationship between two men who helped write the Constitution, signed the document, and then each became President of the United States. According to Jurmain’s biography, John was “vain, suspicious, irritable, stubborn, and wrong”; Tom was “weak, confused, uninformed, and ignorant”; and their conflict came from how each saw the role of the federal government. Energetic watercolor-and pencil drawings show life during their times as Tom kept John from physically attacking King George and John moved out of the White House at 4:00 in the morning after losing the presidency to Tom. The satisfying part of the book is that John wrote a letter after the feud had lasted 12 years and Tom wrote back, renewing their friendship by letter throughout the next 14 years until both of them died on the same day. Barbara Kerley’s Those Rebels, John & Tom (Scholastic) covers the same two people but with slightly different stories. Both are fun. P8Q9
Show Me A Story!: Why Picture Books Matter. Comp./ed. Leonard S. Marcus. 2012. 309p. Candlewick, $22.99. 978-0-7636-3506-0. Ages – Adult: A decade after Marcus’ Ways of Telling, he has updated his earlier book, this time with “Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators.” Three of the earlier illustrators–Karla Kuskin, Iona Opie, and Charlotte Zolotow—have disappeared, replaced by 11 new ones including Quentin Blake, Chris Raschka, Peter Sis, and Mo Willems. Marcus has also updated some of the earlier interviews. The format is the same for all the subjects: a photo and brief introduction are followed by the interview itself; a color center section provides sketches and sometimes finished artwork for each of the 21 illustrators. Some of the themes are the importance of teachers in helping these artists develop, ways in which they deal with family and finances, and Charles Schulz’s and Maurice Sendak’s influences on them. (Sendak is one of the subjects.) About half the contents of this book can be found in the earlier volume, making the purchase of this one for larger libraries or those with comfortable budgets. P8Q8
The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems. Ed. Georgia Heard; Il. Antoine Giulloppe. 2012. 40p. Roaring Brook, $16.99. 978-1-59643-665-7. Ages 8-10: The fun of “found” poems is putting writing not meant for poetry into a poetic shape. This slim volume cheats a bit by allowing the poets to re-order or re-fashion the original writing. Yet it is an enjoyable exercise for young people because it comes from their world—Facebook, signs, graffiti, ads—even the computer itself. Expressive black and white drawings illustrate these 40 poems from 39 poets, known and lesser-known. P6Q6
Florian, Douglas. Unbeelievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings. 2012. Unp. Simon & Schuster, $16.99. 978-1-4424-2652-8. Ages 5-8: Known for his quirky nature poems and illustrations, primarily critters, Florian concentrates on bees in his most current collection. An addition this time are snippets of facts accompanying each of the 14 poems that make the book useful as a teaching tool as well as art. While readers enjoy the poetry, they also learn about the roles of drones, workers, and the queen as well as the bee’s anatomy and development. As always, the colorful collages provide an essence of the poem, matching the whimsy of the poetry, and the deep shades behind the poems give a rich feeling to the book. P9Q9
Winter, Jonah. Jazz Age Josephine. Il. Marjorie Priceman. 2012. Unp. Atheneum, $16.99. 978-1-4169-6123-9. Ages 5-8: Two-time Caldecott Honor winner Priceman joins picture-book biographer Winter (Barack) in this joyous celebration of Josephine Baker, a black dancer who fled the New York racist society during the first half of the twentieth century to perform in Paris. Swirling gouache and ink paintings depict Josephine’s playful personality and her fluid shimmying moves. Not all is festive in the book, however; it begins with her flight from St. Louis (MO) as a child when the Anglos set fire to the black section of town and continues with later rejection that made her sad even after her success in Paris. Although the book ends with her youth in Paris, the author’s note supplies brief information about her adopting a dozen children and then speaking out for Civil Rights during the 1960s, enough to encourage readers to find more information about Baker. Winter and Priceman have admirably brought to life the strength and determination of this woman of color. Reading the bouncy, rhythmic story will bring back an important piece of history. P8Q10
Davies, Nicola. Just Ducks! Il. Salvatore Rubbino. 2012. Unp. Candlewick, $15.99. 978-0-7636-5936-3. Ages 4-6: The river full of mallard ducks provides the backdrop for this young girl’s enthusiastic commentary on their appearance, behavior, nesting, sleeping, etc. Adding to the girl’s observations are facts in smaller font and the watery greens, browns, and grays of the peaceful mixed media illustrations. A nice touch is the occasional appearance of the mother, very unobtrusively done. Davies has used her zoology background to make the world for young readers more beautiful. P8Q8
Jeffers, Oliver. Stuck. 2012. Unp Philomel, $16.99. 978-0-399-25757-7. Ages 5-7: Contrasting to Jeffers’ earlier The Heart and the Bottle, silliness from the unexpected is the basis for this tale beginning with a young boy’s solution to getting his stuck kite down from a tree. Floyd starts by throwing up his shoe to displace it, but the shoe gets stuck. As the reader begins to guess, everything thrown up into the tree to dislodge the other objects also gets stuck—everything including the kitchen sink as well as a ladder and a whale. The colors of the background and the tree shift with the boy’s mood—the green of hope through the red of frustration to the blue of sadness. At one point, the reader thinks that Floyd will saw down the tree, but no, he “hurled it up the tree.” Floyd’s stubbornness and ignorance will produce giggles in the readers who watch the barely-drawn boy, a stick figure with dots for eyes, proceed to an illogical conclusion in a surrealistic tale. A delight that can be read over and over. P9Q9
Kooser, Ted. House Held Up by Trees. Il. Jon Klassen. 2012. Unp. Candlewick, $16.99. 978-0-7636-5107-7. Ages 6-8: The change of a house over the years comes from the man who insisted that there be not one plant growing near it to the trees’ taking over the deserted building after the father left and was unable to see the former home. Although two children also live in the house, the protagonist is the house that shifts with the passing of time, accompanied by the care that the trees give to the abandoned structure. The failure of the man to nurture the house—and perhaps by extension—his children is sad, but the resolution shows that nature takes care of its own, holding us up. Klassen’s block-like illustrations, beginning with open spaces and then enhanced by the waving plants, give the story a wonderful elegance and majesty also created by Kooser’s simple rich language. A delight for all. P9Q9
McKinlay, Meg. No Bears. Il. Leila Rudge. 2012. Unp. Candlewick, $15.99. 978-0-7636-5890-8. Ages 4-6:
The joke in the book is that Ella insists that her story have no bears while the bear appears on all the two-page spreads, sometimes with just a paw sticking in or turning the page within a page. While enjoying the humor, young readers learn about the construction of a story and find a monster, always a delight to them if it isn’t too scary, that wants to kidnap the princess “so she could read him bedtime stories every night.” The conclusion brings a beary godmother to rescue the princess. Digital illustrations bring in several fairy-tale conventions from the Three Little Pigs to Rapunzel. Young readers will giggle to Ella’s conclusions that her story has value “because there were no bears in it. Not one!” A book for reading aloud again and again. P9Q9
McPhail, David. The Family Tree. 2012. Unp. Henry Holt, $16.99. 978-0-8050-9057-4. Ages 4-6: This tale of a tree through the generations begins with a man saving this one tree from a forest in the 1800s and ends with a young boy collecting his wild animals friends to save the tree from being cut down for a highway. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations depict the changes of transportation through the past two centuries, and the art’s perspective creates interest. Yet bubbles of dialog seem inappropriate for the style, as if the illustrator is trying to play off the current popularity of the graphic narrative, and the sweet tale rings sentimental and unrealistic. P7Q7
Polacco, Patricia. The Art of Miss Chew. 2012. Unp. Putnam, $17.99. 978-0-399-25703-2. Ages 8-10: As in earlier autobiographical books, Thank You, Mr. Falker and The Junkyard Wonders, the author/illustrator praises teachers who changed her life with their understanding of her learning disability and her artistic talent. Mr. Donovan realizes that 11-year-old Trisha needs extra time to take tests because of the way that she sees words and also sends her to study with an extraordinary art teacher, Miss Chew. The tension in the story comes when Mr. Donovan must return to his native Ireland because of his father’s death, and the substitute teacher tries to keep Trisha from going to art class because the girl cannot complete her tests in the allotted time. Fortunately, right wins out for both Trisha and Polacco when Mr. Donovan returns. The vibrant pencil-and-marker illustrations show expressive movements and facial expressions as the reader learns about both the importance of art in education and recognition of different learning styles. Polacco also slips in a bit of an art lesson when Miss Chew teaches Trisha the need “to see” rather than just looking at things. P9Q9
Rogers, Gregory. The Hero of Little Street. 2012. Unp. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $17.99. 978-1-59643-729-6. Ages 4-8: Kicking a soccer ball into one of London’s fountains takes a boy from Trafalgar Square to seventeenth-century Holland as he runs away from a gang of boys into the National Gallery. There he meets the dog that jumps out from Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage and joins the dog in the painting when the boy tries to return a page that fell out of Vermeer’s A Lady Seated at the Virginals. In this alternate world, the boy rescues a collection of dogs from a sausage maker before returning to present-day London where, when the soccer players find him again, the dogs from Holland rescue him. The entire story is told without words in visuals from action-filled small frames to slower full pages culminating in the bullies getting their comeuppance. This is the third wordless “boy” book; the first two are The Boy, the Bear, the Baron, and the Bard, starting in the sixteenth-century Globe Theater and proceeding throughout London; and Midsummer Knight, set in a forest glade inhabited by sprites and fairies. P9Q9
Stower, Adam. Silly Doggy! 2012. Unp. Orchard Books, $16.99. 978-0-545-37323-4. Ages 3-6: The joke of the book is that Lily thinks her new pet, found in her backyard, is a “doggy.” She manages it just like an ordinary dog, but a zookeeper comes to get the animal after she’s forced to post a flyer about her find. No sadness there, because the next “pet” that appears is a “kitty,” an escaped tiger. Illustrated with charming watercolors, the book gives a dangerous message that children can adopt any strange animal for a pet. P8Q8
Aguirre, Jorge. Giants Beware! Il. Rafael Rosado. 2012. 202p. First Second/Roaring Brook, $14.99. 978-1-59643-582-7. Ages 8-12: Strong Claudette, who has a bloodthirsty streak, is one of the best female cartoon characters to appear since graphic novels appeared on the middle-school scene. Bored with her dull life in a protected village, she decides to slay the giant that supposedly feasts on babies’ feet. To carry out the task, she manipulates her cowardly pastry-chef brother, Gaston, and her princess-wannabe friend, Marie, to accompany her and her dog, Valiant, on the adventure. Although the experiences may seem to be somewhat formulaic to graphic adventures, the characters and the solutions to crises aren’t. Rarely does the female “heroine” have a female companion, especially one who comes across as vacuous as this one until the reader sees her real substance. Also unusual is the change in Gaston as he shows bravery in true danger. Part of the excitement comes from the adults, including Claudette and Gaston’s father, who try to save the children, especially because the father has lost his legs below the knees as well as one arm. The richly full-color illustrations with highly humorous facial expressions, action, and diverse perspectives join the original delivery of a top-notch graphic novel. Superb, too, are both the smart dialog and the nonverbal communication that clearly gets Claudette’s message across when she’s irritated. Aguirre allows all three children to shine, and the conclusion avoids violence without seeming too sweet. Several undeveloped characters indicate that Claudette and her village may be back. We hope so! P9Q9
Hicks, Faith Erin. Friends with Boys. 2012. 224p. First Second/Roaring Brook, $15.99. 978-1-59643-556-8. Ages 11-13: Terrified at attending high school because she’s always been homeschooled, Maggie also has to deal with the haunting of the ghost that follows her even into her room at home. The graphics of this semi-autobiographical novel provide a rich view of her life both at home and at the school, where her three brothers first refuse to protect her and then change their minds. Subplots deal with the struggle between her twin brothers to separate themselves and her older brother’s determination to keep her from the only two people, Mohawk-wearing brother and sister who are also outcasts, who want to befriend her. The ghost of a woman who died 200 years earlier adds to the plot when Maggie decides that she must exorcise the ghost by connecting her to her past. The black and white artwork is so expressive that you can almost hear the telephone ring on the first page, and the facial expressions are vividly depicted. A few unanswered ends, such as why Maggie’s mother left the family, may be answered in a sequel; this book has been serialized online. The growing crushes between Maggie and her new friend on each other’s brothers could also use some resolution. As it stands, the graphic novel has funny, complex characters with a suspenseful plot. This comic book artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia bears watching. P8Q8
Johnson, R. Kikuo. The Shark King. 2012. 40p. Toon Books/Candlewick, $12.95. 978-1-93517916-0. Ages 6-8: The slightly dark graphic representation of a traditional Hawaiian folk tale is a welcome addition to the simpler, funny graphic narratives for the younger set. An absentee father and the isolated sense of being an outcast join the trickery of this story about the shape-shifting shark god Kamohoalli who fathers a child, Nanaue, with Kalie, a human woman. The voracious set of jaws on the boy’s back creates mild horror but also saves him in the end after he gets caught saving fish by stealing them from the nets. The colorful, dramatic artwork moving between the beach and the underwater sea life provides the vigor of the story with its minimal dialog. Multilayered, the book is an easy read but provides a richer experience for more sophisticated readers. The award-winning author has drawn on his childhood experiences exploring the beach and diving in the Hawaiian waters for this visual feast. P9Q9
Pyle, Kevin C. Take What You Can Carry. 2012. 176p. Henry Holt, $12.99. 978-0-8050-8286-9. Ages 12-15: Two separate narratives about teenage boys set almost 40 years apart merge Kyle is caught stealing from Ken’s store. The story of Ken, whose Japanese-American family is sent to a World War II relocation camp with just what they could carry, is done silently with sepia ink washes. Kyle’s story, in simple lines and blue shading, uses both visuals and dialog to show the brash, rude boy who falls in with the wrong bunch in a new town before getting caught for stealing. Although Kyle is mostly unlikable, he does protect another boy who would be more abused by his father if Kyle tells that he was part of the gang. Both stories are good, but the meshing is not seamless, resulting in some awkwardness. The storyline and illustrations for Ken’s experiences in the camp are far stronger as he saves an older man’s carving tools from being confiscated as weapons and learns carving himself. The striking visuals showing the rejection of the Japanese-Americans and the disgusting living conditions at the camp also resonate with the reader. P7Q7
Yoyo. To the Pillar of the Wind. [Vermonia #6] 2012. 206p. Candlewick, $7.99. 978-0-7636-5917-2. Ages 9-12: In this graphic novel, four skate-boarding pre-teens, transported to another world in the first volume, continue to work toward saving their new home from destruction. In the sixth of ten planned books of the series, the Blue Star Warriors need to infiltrate Uro’s impenetrable headquarters to save the Pillar of Wind. Using the warship Vleste, powered by the magical crystal found in the Lake of Wishes, they face different issues: Uro’s soldiers capture Doug while Naomi and Fly find Uro’s weaknesses when they are transported back to the planet of Blue Star. As in typical Japanese manga, the book must be read from right to left and back to front. Despite the black and white drawings, the action is non-stop, and the adventures lead to the sequel. P6Q8
Edwards, Eve. The Queen’s Lady. (The Lacey Chronicles). 2012. 313p. Delacorte, $17.99. 978-0-385-74091-3. Ages 12-16: In the sequel to The Other Countess, 17-year-old Lady Jane finds herself a widow, fighting her stepsons to keep her dowry and hoping that she will find safety in Queen Elizabeth I’s court. Her secret love for James Lacey continues as he suffers from depression because of the horrific experiences he has had in war; meanwhile Jane’s father and brother are determined to marry her off to a gay French man for business reasons. Lovely melodrama combines with the historically accurate setting and Jane’s possibly unrequited love are well executed. Edwards covers racism, lack of women’s rights, and religious purges in this good read for those who enjoy historical romances. The book includes a few pages from the next in the series, The Rogue’s Princess, featuring Kit Turner, a relatively minor character in The Queen’s Lady. P7Q7
Funke, Cornelia. Ghost Knight. Il. Andrea Offermann. Trans. Oliver Latsch. 2012. 330p. Little, $16.99. 978-0-316-05614-4. Ages 9-12: Those who loved Funke’s The Thief Lord will delight in this adventure set at Salisbury Cathedral School when resentful Jon Whitcroft, 11, is banished to boarding school because he hates his mother’s new boyfriend. The 400-hundred-year-old ghosts who haunt Jon are after revenge because of his mother’s ancestors, and only Jon’s new friend, Ella, can help him fight back against their threats. History, romance, excitement, humor, compassion, and bravery all blend together in this novel about an awkward boy who grows up through his experiences. Black and white illustrations show the comedy, action, and atmosphere of the plot that culminates in a satisfying conclusion which might even lead to a sequel. The writing is better than recent Funke novels because the translator of her early books has returned. So entertaining that it could be read aloud, the fast-paced novel will keep listeners on the edge of their seats. P9Q9
Hand, Elizabeth. Radiant Days. 2012. 287p. Viking, $17.99. 978-0-670-01135-3. Ages 13-16: Art transcends time when gay teenagers Merle, an punk artist from the later 20th century, meets 19th century poet Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud. Merle has finished an affair with her art instructor Clea and dropped out of Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. when she loses her squalid room and all her artwork is stolen by kids. A homeless man who used to be a well-known guitarist gives her a key that unlocks Merle’s way to France in 1870 where she encounters 16-year-old Arthur who has run away from his rural life to go to Paris. One of their strong connections is Merle’s graffiti, with Radiant Days as her tag. The story is skillfully told through Merle’s first-person narrative and the third-person tale of Arthur who tries to escape the Prussian war with France only to briefly end up in prison before he searches for a place in the country for him. Hand has also translated some of Arthur’s poetry for the book and provides an historical endnote of his time and life, including his tumultuous relationship with Paul Verlaine. Hand’s depictions of the teenagers’ meetings in both centuries and the connections between them provide a mystical atmosphere, complete with philosophical statements about art, relationships, and love. P7Q8
Book Reviews NHS Student Reviewers
Dominy, Amy Fellner. OyMG. Walker Publishing Co., New York, 2011. $16.99 ISBN: 9780802721778 247p. Gr. 7-9
Ellie Taylor is a Jewish girl who loves to debate. In order to get into her dream school, she has to go to debate camp, which – OMG – is a Christian camp where they pray to Jesus every morning. Romance with the TOTALLY hot Devon Yeats causes Ellie to sizzle. Some good-old anti-Semitism possibly prevents her from winning a scholarship that would pay her tuition. Now she must choose between being true to herself and following her dreams.
This book is as subtle as a flaming bear being shot out of a cannon while it is playing the sousaphone and being lobotomized by a magenta unicorn IN YOUR FACE! In short, this book is extremely heavy-handed, predictable, and clichéd. My issues with the book:
1) Judaism doesn’t have a hell, they have a place for sinners where they are purified for twelve months on average before ascending to heaven.
2) Judaism isn’t a race. It is a philosophy, belief, and a culture that can be shared with anyone, regardless of color and race.
3) The Jesus issue is more complicated than “He was only human.” The argument ranges from “he’s a failed prophet” to “worshipping Jesus along with God is polytheism, therefore it is forbidden.”
4) Even though, most of the information was basic, there were a few snippets of information that
weren’t common knowledge that went unexplained.
ý5) This girl obviously isn’t Orthodox or Conservative. She is Reform and thus, should be able to give a persuasive oratory on the values of a fake Christmas Tree versus a real Christmas tree. Sure, I don’t know of the finer nuances of Christianity, but I could at least debate the pros and cons of plastic versus pine in the house.
6) Stereotypes EVERYWHERE. It was rather insulting, to be frank.
All of that aside, the book itself was poorly written, the word choice was ridiculously limited and
repetitive, and I knew how the book would end at the 80 page mark. Review by E.S., NHS 12th grader
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. Blood Wounds. Harcourt Children’s Book, New York, 2011. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0547496382 256p. Gr. 9-12
Willa Coffey believes that she’s part of a happy family. With a stepfather and two stepsisters who love her, why should she not believe that? She soon finds out that she has three half-sisters who have been violently murdered by her biological father. She travels to Pryor, Texas where she had grown up and where she and her mother escaped over a decade ago. She attends her sisters’ funerals and learns more about her family then she had intended and her “happy family” image is shattered by the aftereffects of her inheritance. It’s not the type of book I normally read and I most likely won’t ever read it again. It was well-written grammatically , but the plotline didn’t have much action to it (no climax or plotline.) Review by K.B., NHS 12th grader.
Ellison, Kate. The Butterfly Clues. EgmontUSA, New York, 2012. $16.99 ISBN: 978-1606842638 336p. Gr. 9-12
The Butterfly Clues is about Penelope “Lo” Marin. Lo reads in the news about a 19-year-old girl who is killed mysteriously. Lo, who feels some unknown connection with the murdered girl, decides to investigate her death and the creepy sector of Cleveland known as “Neverland.” With the help of Neverland teen Flynt, Lo discovers surprising information about the city she lives in as was as her family’s secrets past. I liked this well-written book; Lo is obsessive-compulsive, which adds an interesting twist to the story. Review by K.B., NHS 12th grader.
Price, Lissa. Starters. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0385742375 352p. Gr.7-12
Callie Woodland lives in a world where no one is alive between the ages of 20 to 70, due to the Spore Wars. Her parents died, leaving her to care for her seven-year-old brother. Desperate, she becomes a donor for the body bank called “Prime Destinations.” Elderly folk, referred to as “Enders,” are able to rent a youth’s body (a “Starter”) for a set amount of time so they can be young again. Callie finds herself caught up in an assassination plot when her donor chip glitches out. To avoid being imprisoned and to keep her brother alive, Callie fights against her renter.
Really well-written dystopian novel, with a strong, satisfying ending that makes me want to read the next in the series. Review by K.B., NHS 12th grader.
Chapman, Lara. Flawless. Bloomsbury, New York, 2011. $9.99 ISBN: 978-1599905969 272p. Gr. 7-12
The book opens with the first day, senior year for best friends Sarah and Kirsten. There’s a new boy in town and both girls fall in love with the handsome Rock. Sarah can only do what a good friend can when Kirsten asks her to help her catch this heart throb. The book takes you through her life and struggles to see what Rock will do and who he will date. Every girl who has had a crush on the same guy as their best friend will be able to relate to this book; it’s funny and a very enjoyable read, not at all predictable. Review by L.C., NHS 12th grader.
Johnson, Maureen. The Name of the Star. Putnam Juvenile, New York, 2011. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0399256608 384p. Gr. 9-12
It’s been almost a hundred years since Jack the Ripper terrorized London. Rory Deveaux moves to London right when Rippermania starts up again. Jack the Ripper (or the person taking on the role of him) begins killing young women who have the same name of the original victims, in the same fashion. After Rory experiences a brush with death at her boarding school she acquires the “sight”; she may be one of the very few who can actually bring the Ripper down.
The plot of this book is very good, but it’s not well-written. A large part of the book takes place in a boarding school setting and is written in a very basic, oversimplified way. Review by C.M., NHS 9th grader
Spotswood, Jessica. Born Wicked: The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Book One. Putnam Juvenile, New York, 2012. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0399257452 272p. Gr. 9-12
In an alternate universe where there are such things as witches, the Cahill sisters stay as anonymous as possible. The Brothers and Sisters are a large part of the government, with the Brothers holding the highest power. Cate, the oldest Cahill girl, takes on the role of mother for her family. But when relationships and a governess from the Sisters complicates her life, her endurance is tested. What’s more, Cate discovers her mother’s diary that speaks of a prophecy that may impact the Cahill sisters. I loved this book; for an author’s first book, it’s an amazing beginning! The tone really is realistic for an 1800’s voice, but it’s very easy to read and paints a vivid picture with the reader. Review by C.M., NHS 9th grader
Revis, Beth. A Million Suns: An Across the Universe Novel. Razorbill, New York, 2012. $17.99 ISBN: 978-1595143983 386p. Gr. 9-12
A million suns is the second installment in the Across the Universe trilogy. The story is told in firstperson narrative by the main character Elder, the captain of the spaceship Godspeed and Amy, the only actual human surviving earth. Disaster seems to strike the Godspeed: Elder learns the ship hasn’t moved in centuries, Amy is troubled by the guest Orion (the protagonist from the first book), and Amy is forced to make a choice that determines the destiny of the ship. Elder also loses authority as people get off the drug Phydus; now people rebel and want a totally new government.
Beth Revis writes in a very mediocre and simple way. She attempts to create intensity, but it comes across as pitiful. The plot is great, but the delivery is poor. Review by C.M., NHS 9th grader
Book Wish Foundation. What you Wish For: A Book for Darfur. Putnam Juvenile, New York, 2011. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0399254543 288p. Gr.7-up
This book is a collection about what people wish for. The poems and stories by the authors are outstanding, and represent many different points of view. It’s very easy to read, engaging, and the concepts presented are easy to understand. Review by M.C., NHS 11th grader
Clement-Moore, Rosemary. Texas Gothic. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, New York, 2012. $17.99 ISBN: 978-0385736930 416p. Gr.9-12
Amy Goodnight is used to being the gatekeeper: the “normal” Goodnight who protects others from the insanity of the rest of her family. The Goodnights all have some kind of paranormal resonance, and a lot of people dislike them for that. When Amy and her sister Phin head to Texas to house- and pet-sit for their Aunt Hyacinth, Amy has no idea what she’s gotten into. Ancient burial grounds, grouchy neighbors, family vendettas, revenging ghosts, and long-dead gold miners make up the most haunting summer Amy has ever had. I thought this book was very good, very spooky and a very interesting read. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader.
Paratore, Coleen Murtagh. Dreamsleeves. Scholastic, New York, 2012. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0545310208 288p. Gr.9-12
If no one knows your dreams, how can they make them come true? So begins “Dreamsleeves” by Aislinn O’Neill. Aislinn knows lots about dreams, having had lots of them, only to have them crushed. An alcoholic father who expects her to car for four little siblings continually crushes her dreams of being a normal teenager. So she begins to write her dreams on stickers, which she places on her sleeve. Soon, Dreamsleeves has become far more magical than Aislinn ever dreamed of.
This book is sweet, fun, realistic, believable and an easy read with a great main character. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader.
Boles, Philana Marie. Glitz. Penguin, New York, 2011. $16.99 ISBN: 9780670012046 263p. Gr. 9-12
Ann Michelle always chooses safety, until she meets Raquel, or Raq. Soon, she is disobeying her grandmother to attend a concert by Piper, her favorite rapper. The concert catapults Raq and Ann Michelle into a wild ride, along with Piper on tour. Ann Michelle ditches her safe tendencies to become Glitz, a fearless, cooler version of herself. Glitz and Raq have the ride of their lives while discovering a whole new world that isn’t quite as glittery as it looks and that everything has to end someday. This book is well written and astonishing, but still almost possible. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader.
Hepler, Heather. Love? Maybe. Dial Books, New York, 2012. $16.99 ISBN: 9780803737211 267p. Gr. 7-10
Piper is a cynic, believing that love is silly and Valentine’s Day is even sillier. When one of her best friend’s heart is broken, Piper and Jillian develop a plan to fix it and get them all a love before Valentine’s Day, also Piper’s birthday. Dates are found, a secret admirer is abound, and mishaps surround the trio as they discover more about whom they really like. I think this book is very fun and realistic, easy to read and the characters are easy to relate to. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader.
Zeitlin, Meredith. Freshman Year & other Unnatural Disasters. Putnam Juvenile, New York, 2012. $16.99 ISBN: 978-0399254239 288p. Gr. 7-10
Kelsey Finklestein has fabulous plans for freshman year. These plans include being a soccer star and dating a popular boy. Said plans are soon dashed by a uni-browed terror of a soccer captain, becoming a goalie and discovering her best friend with her ideal boy. In revenge, she tries out for the school play and is cast as a fat-suit-wearing, mustachioed old man. To take the cake, her prom date is arrested – at prom. But Kelsey will still have a good year, right? This book has funny, realistic and relatable characters; it should be very popular with readers. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader.
Brezenoff, Steve. Brooklyn Burning. Carolrhoda Lab, Minneapolis, 2011. $17.95 ISBN: 978-
0761375265 202p. Gr. 7-12
This is a story of fire and two summers of love and loss. Kid has become alienated from her parents, and is living in and under a friend’s bar. Last summer it was Kid and Felix. They were blamed for burning down a warehouse and she is the only one who knows the whole story now that Felix is dead. Now it is Kid and Scout for another summer of music and love. She expects him to leave at summer’s end but sometimes love isn’t an end to all. The book was a bit confusing, but it is well written and haunting. Review by R.C., NHS 9th grader [Editor’s note: The story, told as a first-person narrative, leaves Kid’s gender unspecified.]
Adapted By Stroud, Jonathan and Andrew Donkin. Art By Lee Sullivan. Color By Nicolas Chapuis. The Amulet of Samarkand : a Bartimaeus graphic novel. ISBN: 978-1-42311146-7. New York : Disney/Hyperion Books, 2010. 1st ed. $19.99. Gr. 3 +
Nathaniel, a magician-in-training is angry with Simon Lovelace and wants revenge so he summons Bartimaeus, a 5,000 year Djinni to help him. His request of Bartimaeus is for him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Simon. When Bartimaeus completes his tasks Nathaniel realizes that he is in over his head. The theft is blamed on Nathaniel’s mentor who knows nothing about the theft and does not believe that Nathaniel has the knowledge to summon such powerful help. Simon stops at nothing to get the amulet back. Lives are destroyed as the still missing amulet is searched for and returned to its proper owner. P.9, Q. 9.
London, C. Alexander. We dine with cannibals. ISBN: 978-0-399-25488-8 New York : Philomel Books, 2011. 359 p. Gr. 4-8
After the first day of sixth grade does not go as planned for twins Celia and Oliver they are swept into an adventure in the Amazon jungle with child star Cory Brandt. Relying on the survival skills learned from hours and hours of television watching, they rescue their father from cannibals, see their long lost mother, find the fabled city of El Dorado and manage to make it home alive. Another fast paces story of reluctant adventurers Celia and Oliver. P.9, Q.9.
Mull, Brandon. Seeds of rebellion. Beyonders ; bk. 2. ISBN: 978-1-41699794-8. New York Aladdin, 2012. 483 p. $19.99. GR. 5-8.
After returning home Jason continues to try to find a way back to Lyrian, he is successful after many attempts. Once back in Lyarian he finds Rachael and the Blind King and tells them the information he learned before he escaped from the evil emperor Maldor. Joined by other friends of the rebellion they travel to save as many of the secret keepers as they can and to find those who will join them to oppose Maldor. Their final destination in the Oracle who will tell them what the future holds for each of them and the rebellion. This volume ends with the prophecy that tells of a dual quest, splitting Jason’s group in two with both quests needing to be successful for the rebellion to have any chance of success. The action starts with the first turn of the page and continues through the book. This is a very good second book in this series. P.9, Q. 9.
Crowley, Cath. Graffiti Moon. ISBN: 978-0-375-86953-2. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. 1st American ed. 259 p. Gr. 7 +
Gripping story of one nights celebration of graduating year twelve for Lucy, Jazz, Ed (Shadow), Leo(Poet), Daisy and Dylan. Tonight is the night that Lucy will finally meet shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist that she just knows she is meant to be with, only they run into Ed, Leo and Dylan first. Dylan convinces them to hang out with them and they will all go try to find Shadow together. Lucy does not know that Ed, whom she had a terrible date with in year ten, is actually shadow. Events throughout the evening bring Lucy and Ed closer as they continue to visit some of Shadow’s walls. Lucy, an artist in her own right, interprets Shadow’s graffiti very well, it surprises Ed (Shadow). Before the evening ends Ed tells her the truth and everything that goes with it. Will they find their way back together? Struggling family life, extraordinary talent, friendship, emotional hardships, loss, love, belief, and forgiveness are all part of this powerfully written story. Strong language used throughout the text. P.9, Q.9
Singer, Marilyn. I’m your bus . ISBN: 978-0-545-08918-0. New York : Scholastic Press, 2009. 1st ed. 32 p. $16.99. K-3.
Rhyme your way through the day with a school bus. Picking up, dropping off, keeping forgotten things safe. The bus is always ready to take you to and from school. A nice read aloud for younger students just getting use to the bus. Bright smiling busses accompany this story. P. 9,
Willems, Mo. What’s your sound, Hound the hound?. ISBN: 978-0-06-172844-0. New York : Balzer & Bray, 2010. 1st ed. 24 p. $10.99. K – 3.
Cat wants to know you sound. Cat asks dog, cow and chick about their sound but when Cat get to Bunny, Bunny has no sound, this makes Bunny feel bad. Cat replies “sounds like someone needs a hug”. Beginning story with colorfully illustrated animals. P. 8, Q. 8.
Ditchfield, Christin. “Shwatsit!” : no one knows just what it means. ISBN: 978-0-375-84181-1. New York : Golden Book, 2009. 1st ed. 32 p. &15.99. K-3
What does it mean? It could mean this it could mean that, but until big brother figures it out no one knows. Baby talk means something it just needs a little help to by understood. This would be a good word teaching book to read together with a beginning reader as well as enjoyed by all. P.9, Q. 9.
Gorbachev, Valeri. Molly who flew away. ISBN: 978-0-399-25211-2. New York : Philomel Books, 2009. 34 p. $16.99. K-3.
Molly the mouse was off to the fair with her friends. She does something special with each of them. Then she decides to get them each a balloon, but when the balloon man gives them all to her she is lifted and taken away. Her friends follow and together rescue her. She gives each of them their balloons saving the yellow one for herself. Wonderful illustrations show Molly’s day at the fair with all her friends. P. 9, Q. 9.
Snyder, Betsy E. Sweet dreams lullaby. ISBN: 978-0-375-95852-6. New York : Random House Children’s Books, 2010. 1st ed. 26 p. $15.99. K-3
From a kiss goodnight little Bunny goes to sleep and dreams of colors, shapes, in this beautifully illustrated rhyming story to share at bedtime. P. 8. Q.9
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
June 2012 Reviews by Nel Ward
Abel, Jessica and Matt Madden. Mastering Comics: Drawing Words & Writing Pictures Continued. 2012. 318p. First Second, $34.99. 978-1-59643-617-6. Ages 14+ including adult: Following up on their 2008 book for beginners, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures: Making Comics: Manga, Graphic Novels, and Beyond, these two authors have given more to advance understanding of pictorial composition and design, inking, and story structure. The 15 chapters in this book include tasks and suggested reading of graphic narratives for cartoonists-in-training and those interested in graphic design, web design, filmmaking, animating, and advertising. The four units in the book are creativity and generating stories; structuring work visually; advanced tools and techniques (i.e. inking, lettering, using tone and color, creating for digital platforms); and professional practice and getting your work into the world. A bonus of the work is that it provides
knowledge in evaluating graphic narratives so that they can appreciate the extensive knowledge and work demanded of good illustrators. Heavily illustrated with examples of the lessons, the book uses samples from a wide variety of
published artists that walk the reader through the different concepts. The opening section called “The Horror of the Blank Page” shows that the authors understand their audience and the problems that they may have in finding ideas
for their art. This book is a gold-mine of information. P6Q10
Dillon, Patrick. The Story of Britain: From the Norman Conquest to the European Union. Il. by P.J. Lynch. 2010. 341p. Candlewick, $21.99. 978-0-7636-5122-0.
Ages 14+: Originally published for young people in England, this book chronologically approaches the rich history of the country in short, chatty chapters more suited to individuals who have some familiarity with the subject. The writing can be delightful, using invented quotations and witty remarks. Despite the pedantic look of the volume with its ribbon, foil highlights on the beige cover background, and text-heavy format, and the contents can be fun. Most impressive was the author’s ability to cover all of Britain’s history up to 1066 AD in seven pages. A few color illustrations at the beginning of each of the six sections lighten the layout although some readers may be confused to see Victoria’s caption as “Empress of India” if they don’t know that she was also Queen of England. Timelines are useful but located at the end of each section rather than in a more obvious place. Much of the history concentrates on war, especially the rather lengthy (when compared to other parts of the book) piece on World War II. The book does look as if the author had fun putting it together, and the book received glowing reviews in Britain. I found this comment delightful: “As you’d expect, all the major events and people that children are likely to already know about are covered here, but there’s also room for less
common topics …. It succeeds perfectly as it’s a book which could be read by confident readers but the chapters are short enough, and written in such an engaging style, that some of them could also be nice alternatives for children who were growing out of ‘normal’ bedtime stories whose parents wanted to get them to take an interest in history.” A useful but not necessary addition. P4Q9
Fern, Tracey. Barnum’s Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World. Il. by Boris Kulikov. 2012. Unp. Farrar, $17.99. 978-0-
374-30516-1: Ages 6-8: Named for P.T. Barnum because his parents loved the circus, Brown hunted fossils at an early age, leading naturally into his life-time career as a paleontologist. The humorous book concentrates on his travels and
investigations, hired by New York’s Museum of Natural History to find specimens. And find them he did, being the first to discover the Tyrannosaurus rex as well as more specimens than any other scientist. Kulikov’s earth-toned watercolors
highlight the adventures with the well-dressed Brown, and an author’s note explains that he was also a spy during both world wars, a long career for someone born in 1873. Although the book chooses to say little or nothing about his personal life, including his two wives, it does show the painstaking work required to find dinosaur skeletons. A fun read for individual or groups. P9Q9
Hartland, Jessie. Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child. 2012. Unp. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99. 978-0-375-86944-0. Ages 8-11: To cover the quirky busy life of Julia Child in a book for young readers is a difficult task, one that this commercial artist undertook with enthusiasm. Rather than a picture book, this appears to be a scrapbook filled with panels of multiple busy naive cartoons, quotations, and imaginary comments winding through and around the illustrations. From Child’s privileged childhood in Pasadena (CA) to her decision to take cooking classes in
Paris because of her husband’s State Department assignment, the reader will delight in her adventures, including that of being a spy during World War II. The audience, however, may tend more toward the adult than the young because the
handwritten material is sometimes difficult to read and the asides somewhat sophisticated. Hartland does provide some useful information such as “For the first time, cookbook illustrations are drawn from a cook’s viewpoint” when
referring to the book that Child wrote. Of benefit to understanding this book more fully is the movie Julie & Julia. For a cooking and Child enthusiast, this book is a true delight with its energetic vignettes kept to greens, gray-blues, reds, and
browns on a white background. P4Q9
Jamie Campbell Naidoo. Rainbow Family Collections: Selecting and Using Children’s Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Content. [Children’s and Young Adult Literature Reference Series] 2012. 260p. Libraries Unlimited, $48. 978-1-59884-960-8. Adult: Librarians not familiar with the LGBTQ community sometimes have difficulty understanding how to work with this population; those who are comfortable with the “rainbow families” don’t always know the resources. This book serves both populations of librarians who work with children from birth through age 11. The first five chapters explain ways to provide information and recreational needs of both children and adults in these families in a welcoming environment, the censorship challenges of these materials, awards that provide the best of LGBTQ books for children, and cataloging concerns. The second part of the book–over half of the volume—gives
detailed annotations for almost 250 pieces of media, primarily books, including thoughtful and respectful explanations of the ratings from Highly Recommended to Not Recommended. Citations also include any available professional review
sources and awards for each of the books/films/coloring books/e-books, music recordings/magazines listed. An extensive list of resources (articles, books, periodicals, films, online resources, blogs, and book distributors) includes books with single parents which can also be useful for rainbow families and non-U.S. picture books with LGBT characters. Nothing like this book exists for rainbow families, and it is complete and accurate. This is a must buy for individual libraries that can afford it and for library consortia. In addition, parents will find the book lists invaluable for purchasing, and library schools should also use the first five chapters as required reading for students who plan to become children’s librarians. To say that the list of materials in this book is amazing is an understatement because of the difficulty in finding the large number of LGBTQ books from small presses or self-published. P8Q10
Van Hout, Mies. Happy. 2011, 2012. Unp. Lemniscaat, $17.95. 978-1-935954-14-9. Ages: PreS: In this vocabulary of emotions, a single word is paired with a fantasy fish illustration with each of them representing the emotion itself. On the twopage spread of “furious,” for example, the word is scratched in black on an angry red while the fish’s open, screaming mouth is surrounded by red with the fish on black. Each of the 20 words is sure to bring discussion from the young readers. The clear, radiant book is a sure hit with everyone whether for the feelings or the line and texture of the artwork. “Dive into this book and be swept along with some remarkable fish.” P10Q10
Bellstorf, Arne. Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles. 2012. 196p. First Second, $24.99. 978-1-59643-771-5. Ages 13+: Over 50 years ago before the Beatles swept the United States—and then the world—by storm, there were five of them, living illegally in Hamburg, Germany, and barely getting by. This is the story of how the “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, fell in love with photographer Astrid Kirchherr and gave up his part in the band to become a painter, only to die a year later. The plain black and white illustrations seemed filled with emotion as the main characters are all depicted in three-quarter profile, as if the readers is able to listen in on their conversations. The narrative is surprisingly short on drama despite the rough area where the band performs because they came into the country illegally, but it inexorably builds to the end as the reader knows a tragedy is in sight. For those unfamiliar with the band’s development, the story of how Kirchherr cut their hair in what became their classic look and sewed the collarless suits fills in a piece of their journey. Yet this book is the story of two lovers who plan for a future, only to have it instantly destroyed. As readers start the book, they may be surprised because of the almost childlike feel with the lovers in forests, talking about art, and the simple drawings that create a sense of intimacy.
Holm, Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm. Squish: The Power of the Parasite. [Squish #3] 2012. 96p. Random House, $6.99. 978-0-375-84391-4. Ages 6-9: The lovable, funny amoeba gets in trouble when he signs up for swim camp instead of the
ballet camp (ech!) and quickly becomes friends with Basil, the hydra. (More science facts in this one: hydra’s tentacles can be deadly!) Squish learns about how to cope with bullies and doing the right thing before he figures out that
there’s nothing wrong with ballet for boys. As with the first two books, the simple graphics use only green and black while the book about Super Amoeba that Squish reads is in black and white. Lots of fun and a few lessons such as Squish
getting brave enough to dive in the swimming pool. P9Q8
Vance, Jack. The Moon Moth. Adap. Humayoun Ibrahim. 2012. 114p. First Second, $17.99. 978-1-59643-367-0. Ages 11-14: Vance’s classic story from 1961 is a murder mystery submerged in science fiction and spiced with social commentary. In short, Edwer Thissell, the new consul from Earth to the planet Sirene, has difficulty adjusting to the culture because all Sirenese wear hierarchically symbolic masks to show their social status and communicate
through musical instruments and song styles that are also designated by their status. Thissell’s mask of the Moon Moth is on a low level, making it harder for him when he is ordered to find an off-world criminal. Personal honor is all on
Sirene, but this honor is not easily determined by an incompetent off-worlder. The richly detailed artwork with flat and muted colors uses thin lines and elongated bodies; the creative masks are as delightful as the meticulously-drawn
musical instruments. It is easy for the reader to skip over the two-page spread showing these instruments before the narrative just as Thissell skipped over their importance until his life was in danger. The long forward by Carlo Rotella about Jack Vance and his influences at the beginning makes starting the book more difficult; placing this material at the end would make the book more accessible. It is also difficult to get into the narrative, but once there, the reader is hooked until the end. This is a graphic novel that bears re-reading. P6Q9
Klimo, Kate. The Dragon in the Sea. [Dragon Keepers, Book 5]. Il. by John Shroades. 2012. 211p. Random House, $15.99. 978-0-375-87065-1. Ages 8-11: Introduced in the first book of the series, The Dragon in the Sock Drawer, Jesse, Daisy, and their dragon Emmy (sometimes masquerading as a sheep dog) find a new venue for adventure that keeps the humor and suspense rolling. The excitement and danger of the Watery Realms, filled with merpeople, selkies, and the dangerous huge sea cucumber Mermage, make for non-stop reading as the three protagonists try to rescue a second dragon’s egg, Emmy’s baby brother. The addition of relationships with Polly, Jesse and Daisy’s understanding
grandmother, and a neighboring hippie family expand the series as does Jesse’s and Daisy’s abilities to grow gills and develop mertails. More fun and the chance to catch up on earlier plotting comes from the interactive approach with the
Internet: a dragon’s footprint shows that readers can find more information by visiting http://www.thedragonkeepers.com P8Q8
Lane, Andrew. Rebel Fire. [Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins]. 2012. 343p. Farrar, $16.99. 978-0-374-38768-7. Ages 10-13: Fourteen-year-old Sherlock Holmes of Death Cloud has returned, now traveling to the United States to
pursue Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, who supposedly didn’t really die. Part of Holmes search is for his friend Matty Arnatt with the help of mysterious American tutor, Amyus Crowe, and his daughter Virginia. From the
thrilling beginning when two men search for a giant red leech to the discovery that Duke Balthassaar wants an army for the South to rise again after the Civil War, Andrew Lane, author of the Doctor Who series, has created heart-stopping
situations of abductions, death-defying train rides, and near-death experiences as well as both grotesque and well-developed characters. P8Q8
Petrucha, Stefan. Ripper. 2012. 426p. Philomel, $17.99. 978-0-399-25524-3. Ages 12-15: What would happen if Jack the Ripper came from England to the United States to find his son? That’s the premise behind this book about Carver Young, a brilliant 14-year-old who has grown up in an orphanage but dreams of being a detective. His adoption by surly, eccentric Detective Albert Hawking gives Carver the chance to find his father by tracking down the vicious serial killer who is killing women in 1895 New York. The backdrop for this adventure comes from the secret headquarters of the New Pinkertons, Carver’s new home at Blackwell Penitentiary and Asylum with Hawking, gadgets real and imagined, and New York City Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. This novel has it all: great setting, characterization, and plotline. Young readers wanting a concentration on the bloody activities of the Ripper will be disappointed because the action concentrates on Carver’s search for the man. Those who enjoy books in the history-bending steampunk tradition will delight in the magic surrounding the characters as Carver seeks the help of friend Delia to stop the killings. P7Q8
Stewart, Trenton Lee. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict. 2012. 470p. Little, $17.99. 978-0-316-17619-4. Ages 12-15: The founder of The Mysterious Benedict Society is a narcoleptic genius; in Education Stewart follows the start of young Benedict at the age of nine when he is sent to a financially-troubled rural orphanage with brutal bullies who beat children while the staff ignores them. Because of his brilliance, he is able to solve the mystery of the missing treasure and save the orphanage from extinction while turning its culture around. Stewart has created a remarkable character: Nicholas is very small with a long, lumpy nose and the essence of a victim. His approach toward the bullies is to just agree with them or ignore them while figuring out how to outsmart them. His methods of solving problems show a precocious manner as when he duplicates a key by molding one from melted candle wax and using a glass or water as a magnifying glass. Those who have read the series will enjoy understanding the pieces of Benedict’s childhood; those who read this one first will search out the series. P7Q9
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Books
September 2012 Reviews by NW
Coyote, Ivan E. One in Every Crowd. 2012. 279p. Arsenal Pulp, $17.95. 978-1-55152-459-7. Ages 13+: Writer, performer, and speaker, Coyote tells of experiences during childhood in the Canadian Yukon and adult life in a large city
while also describing responses from her audiences both high school and adult. In the six chapters of the book, each divided into four to ten pieces, Coyote goes from “The Kid I Was” through “Kids I Met” to “Wisdom I Found, Learned, or Was Given.” Never condescending and frequently funny, these narratives about gender and identity show the cruelty and kindness the author has encountered through travels through Canada. The best advice I found was this: “In my world, gender is a spectrum, not a binary.” It’s an insightful, feel-good book about people, young and old, grappling with the new world of alternative gender and identity. This forty-something, self-identified butch lesbian with a crew cut and
tattoos knows her audience and speaks from her heart. Although some of the stories in this book have been published in other collections, Coyote’s tales always bear re-reading. The book is designated for young adults, but it’s a must
read for all adults too. P8Q9
The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves. Ed. by Sarah Moon. 2012. 272p. Arthur A. Levine Books, $17.99. 978-0-545-39932-6. Ages 13+: Libraries in which Dan Savage’s It Gets Better is popular will enjoy having
another book written by adult LGBT people that is directed to LGBTQ youth. This anthology of letters by 64 successful writers, supposedly directed toward themselves as teenagers, goes from poignant to funny in their advice, memories,
tales, and encouragement. The repetition of the theme is broken up by graphic narratives from at least six of these writers, and, as in many collections, the offerings are uneven in quality. It is best read in short spurts rather than in one
or two sittings. Half the royalties from the sale of this book goes to The Trevor Project. P6Q7
Naidoo, Jamie Campbell. Rainbow Family Collections: Selecting and Using Children’s Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Content. [Children’s and Young Adult Literature Reference Series] 2012. 260p. Libraries Unlimited, $48. 978-1-59884-960-8. Adult: [See June 2012 reviews]
Parent, Dan. Kevin Keller. 2012. 24p. Archie Comics, $19.99. 978-1-879794-93-1. Ages 12-14: Riverdale High’s gay guy, cute and blond Kevin, is a delightful addition to Archie’s pals, but the question about this book is whether a teenage
population will enjoy the book as much as the older nostalgic crowd. Raised in a military family, Kevin is the perfect child; in this compilation of comic books he wins a tournament for the school, helps a former bully, and is elected president— all in the space of 24 pages. Considering the expense of the book, libraries might wish to pass on this for books of greater appeal to teenagers. P5Q7
Takako, Shimura. Wandering Son, V. 2. Tr. Matt Thorn. 2011. 200p. Fantagraphics, $19.99. Ages 13-16: This second of a 12-book series shows fifth-grader transgirl Shuichi and transboy Yoshino coming out more to friends and family members as they increasing appear in public in their preferred gender clothing. Gentle, sweet black and white drawings follow the manga style, sometimes making it difficult to identify characters. The characterization, however, is realistic and heart-warming. Wandering Son, V. 3 and V. 4 are now available in English. P7Q8
Brunt, Carol Rifka. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. 2012. 360p. Dial Press, $26. 978-0-679-64419-4. Ages 15+: Published for adults, this magical book about loss and values features 14-year-old June after her uncle’s death. The time is 1987 when
young people were sheltered from the tragedy of AIDS amid the misapprehensions of its contagion. Finn’s last gift to his nieces, June and her older sister, Greta, is a portrait of them. The painting by this famous artist leads June to a secret friendship with Finn’s partner, a man who, as June discovers, is hated by her mother because she believes that the partner’s AIDS killed her beloved brother. The characters are well delineated: the frustrated mother who settled for a life as an accountant instead of an artist because of her devotion to her family; the father who bears the brunt of his wife’s anger; the sister who slowly falls apart emotionally from her jealousy of the closeness between June and Finn and her fear of performing on the stage; and June who comes of age from her past self-perceived unpopular ugly self. Their personal tragedies slowly unravel to through conflicts and sibling rivalry to a realistic resolution. P6Q9
Danforth, Emily. The Miseducation of Cameron Post. 2012. 470p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray, $17.99. 978-0-06-202056-7. Ages 14+: The author’s debut novel begins with 12-year-old Cameron’s guilt after her parents are killed in a car accident the day after Cameron kisses another girl and culminates in Cameron’s desire to escape the religious school where her evangelical aunt hopes she will lose her lesbian self. The novel unfolds in a series of vignettes that first focus on Cam’s crushes before it moves to the different people in the school who struggle with their gender identities. The strongest piece of the novel is Danforth’s ability to create a sense of place, especially in the rural Montana setting, and the sexual relationships between two girls. The ignorance of the counselors at the school are treated so gently that they sometimes seem correct in their attempts to “pray away the gay,” and occasionally Cameron is portrayed as being comfortable there. In addition, the book is drawn out, almost two separate novels, one before and one after she attends the school. The multitude of issues—confusion of sexual identity, grief and loss, family dynamics, loving, cancer, drug use, and fundamentalist religious teaching—makes the narrative too overwhelming. Yet good readers will enjoy the romance and adventure depicted here. P7Q7
Davis, Tanita S. Happy Families. 2012. 234p. Knopf, $16.99. 978-0-375-86966-2. Ages 13-15: Ysabel is a talented glassblower, and Justin, a champion debate team member. Both twins find their lives disturbed, however, when they discover that their father is a cross-dresser and have to spend spring vacation with him in a distant city so that they can learn to understand him. The author presents the issues and the struggles, but the novel is more of an “issue” book and less a work of fiction as the twins work with a therapist, spend a day river-rafting with families in the same situation, and reluctantly talk with their mother, who plans to reunite with their father. There is also some confusion about the father’s
status. Although he takes on a woman’s name, Christine, when he dresses as a woman, it is unclear about whether he is a transwoman. The dual point of view is also confusing because the twins sound very much alike. Although educational,
the novel uses stereotypes, unrealistic teen protagonists, and very little plot in its explanations of the transgender world. P7Q6
Gennari, Jennifer. My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer. 2012. 119p. Houghton, $15.99. 978-0-547-57739-5. Ages 8-11: Twelve-year-old June Farrell has the typical aversion to a divorced mother’s new partner, but in this case the partner is a
woman. The two women try to protect June from the ugliness around them as Vermont struggles with legalized civil unions for gays and lesbians, but that summer teaches June about the importance of family. Despite the seriousness of
the issues that June faces, the book maintains a light tone as June decides to enter the baking contest at the fair as an adult because her parents won’t sign a permission slip, hoping to protect her from the visibility of being in the
competition. There is a scarcity of novels for this age group about same-sex parents, and this one is a valuable addition. P8Q8
George, Madeleine. The Difference between You and Me. 2012. 256p. Viking, $16.99. 978-0-670-01128-5. Ages 13+: Fifteen-year-old Jesse, with her fishing boots and her hair cut by a Swiss knife, just blunders along looking forward to her “special time” with Emily and her faux pearl buttons on her sweater although they have nothing in common. When Jesse meets freshman Esther in detention and finds a world outside her obsession for Emily, her life changes. Esther and Emily each tell their stories in first person whereas Jesse’s chapters are third person. Throughout the pathos of Jesse’s unrequited love, the writing is sometimes funny, and the descriptions are some of the best in any YA novel. (Author Malinda Lo said that the kiss was the best that she had read!) Attraction of opposites, political action
against corporate takeover, and different personalities are a few of the issues that George tackles well in this charming book. Jesse, although vulnerable, stands up tall and strong as a great model of young womanhood. P8Q9
Gonzalez, Rigoberto. Mariposa Gown. 2012. 218p. Tincture/Lethe Press, $13.00. 978-1-59021-351-3. Ages 13+: The three gay guys from The Mariposa Club are struggling through the second half of their senior year when they are joined by wealthy hunk, Sebastian, in their fun and activism. Living again with his homophobic father, Trini is forced to switch to wearing male clothing; filling in as host at the restaurant his father now manages after the family sold it, Maui finds
himself strongly attracted to Sebastian but not ready to give up his virginity; and still dressing as a Goth-boy, Lib has to decide his higher education future. Meanwhile they convince the school principal to let two of the four run for the
prom’s king/queen couple, an action that keeps changing. As in the earlier book, the author has presented strong characterizations of loving, family-oriented, gay teenagers in an appealing way. P7Q8
Griffin, Molly Beth. Silhouette of a Sparrow. 2012. 189p. Milkweed, $16.95. 978-1-57131-701-8. Ages 14+: The search for freedom is the focus of this coming-of-age tale set in a lakeside resort during Prohibition Days. Garnet, budding
ornithologist and pure tomboy, is sent to stay with distant relatives to be civilized so that she will catch the wealthy Teddy for a husband. No longer protected by her father who took her birding before he was shell-shocked in World War I, she sublimates her interest by cutting out silhouettes of the birds. In avoiding her snooty aunt, the 16-year-old gets a job at a hat store and then falls head-over-heels in love with Isabella, a beautiful flapper runaway working at a nearby
carnival. Although the ending may be too tidy and today’s teens may get bogged down in the period and bird details, the debut novel shows promise. P6Q8
Hand, Elizabeth. Radiant Days. 2012. 287p. Viking, $17.99. 978-0-670-01135-3. Ages 13-16: [See May 2012 reviews]
Hobbs, Valerie. Minnie McClary Speaks Her Mind. 2012. 215p. FSG, $16.99. 978-0-374-32496-4. Ages 10-12: The new girl at school, shy Minnie, loves her new teacher because of her open methods of teaching critical thinking and
encouraging students to ask questions. Complicating Minnie’s life are her uncle Bill, a dysfunctional veteran living in the basement; her whistle-blower father who lost his job; her perfectionist mother; and the parents who want to fire the
new teacher for her rainbow tattoo on her ankle and opposing the prejudice against a Middle-Eastern student. Simple plot and characterizations are didactic, stereotypical, and predictable. P6Q6
King, A.S. Ask the Passengers. 2012. 296p. Little, $17.99. 978-0-316-19468-6. Ages 14-17: Family dysfunction and coming-out lesbian both receive a different take in Printz honor author’s new book about set in a small Middle America town. In firstperson narration, introverted Astrid Jones shows the flaws of people around her—her control freak mother, stoner father, and conformist younger sister as well as her popular friends Kristina and Justin who double date with Donna and Chad so that the two girls and the two guys can make out. The humor of Astrid’s strong voice shows her attempts to find herself as she simultaneously makes out with girlfriend Dee and fends off attempts to have sex with her. King depicts Astrid as intelligent and thoughtful, following her pursuit into philosophy and her imaginary companion “Frank” Socrates to find the “truth.” Most teenagers can identify with Astrid in her dissatisfaction of her personal life and her frustration in being pressured to put herself into just one identity box. The homophobia of classmates
and family members, even those who had seemed to be accepting, rings true. especially after she is outed and suffers the hatefulness of bigoted people around her. The one flaw in the book comes from the interspersed stories of the
imaginary stories of passengers on the airplanes that Astrid watches and the quick end. But these issues are overcoming by the writing, the plot, and the characterization. P8Q8
Knowles, Jo. See You at Harry’s. 2012. 310p. Candlewick, $16.99. 97-0-7636-5407-8. Ages 11-14: Readers need to prepare them for this novel by getting out the Kleenex box before following 12-year-old Fern’s saga of a year in her family. Both her older siblings, gay high-school-freshman Holden bullied because he is gay and high-school-graduate Sara lost during her gap year, are miserable and don’t help Fern care for their three-year-old brother Charlie. Their father is caught up in his ice cream business, and their mother needs to sometimes hide from the frenetic work at the restaurant. The tragedy that tears the family apart is carefully delineated without melodrama or maudlin writing, and the gradual healing is realistic as each of the family members learns to let go of their denial, anger, guilt, blame, and all-consuming grief. P8Q8
Lecesne, James. Trevor: A Novella. 2012. 111p. Seven Stories, $12.95. 978-1-
60980-420-6. Ages 11-13: Fifteen years ago, the author’s Oscar-winning short
film by the same name inspired The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization
focused on preventing suicides among LGBTQ youth. He has adapted the film and
one-man stage show into a this short work about a 14-year-old high school boy
who doesn’t want to come out as gay but suffers because of his interests in Lady
Gaga, theater, and his new buddy, ultra-straight Pinky. The events are typical of
boys that age suspected of being gay: he loses his best friend Zac, and
classmates bully him. His ensuing attempt at suicide is downplayed and quickly
solved, not necessarily typical of today’s tragedies. Trevor’s personality and voice
are right-on, with his enthusiasm and humor, but the writing is far more simple
and easy than one might assume for a book about a high school boy, creating a
question about the audience. The pencil drawings also make this more
appropriate for middle-school readers. A bonus to the book is the multiple LGBT
resources in the back. It is a good inexpensive book, and part of the proceeds go
to The Trevor Project. P6Q7
Moskowitz, Hannah. Gone, Gone, Gone. 2012. 251p. Simon Pulse, $16.99. 978-1-
4424-5312-8. Ages 13+: A year after the devastation of 9/11 when planes
destroyed the Twin Towers and part of the Pengagon, two snipers terrorized
people in Maryland, killing ten and seriously injuring three people before the two
were caught. The story of Craig and Lio, on the brink of love, is set against the
fear during this time. Both 15-year-old boys tell their sides of the events: Craig is
ADHD and can’t shut up while Lio is almost silent, still suffering from his twin’s
death from cancer seven years earlier. What should be a good book is flawed by
exaggerations, improbabilities, and sometimes dullness. The book begins with a
break-in at Craig’s house that causes him to lose all fourteen pets; the remainder
of the book is interspersed with searches for these dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea
pig, and parakeet during the danger of being hit by a sniper. Although the
beginning feels slow, there is too much crammed into what seems like a frenetic
book: the break-in, Craig’s sort-of ex-boyfriend institutionalized after his father’s
death on 9/11, Lio’s own past with cancer as well as the loss of his brother and
his mother deserting the family, etc. The author manipulates the reader
emotionally with all the angst, and the characters never seem to gel. Their voices
are almost alike for the first half of the book. P6Q8
Neff, Beth. Getting Somewhere. 2012. 411p. Viking, $17.99. 978-0-670-01255-8.
Ages 12-15: Four teenage girl delinquents—dealer, junkie, recluse, and thief—
take up the state’s offer to leave a juvenile facility and live with three women on
an organic farm in a desolated area. The purpose of the experimental project is
for the girls to learn compassion and caring through their sharing responsibilities.
The book concentrates on their pasts and their reactions to the discovery that the
women running the farm may be lesbians. The author has tried to fold too many
characters together with Sarah, Jenna, Lauren, and Cassie all dealing with the
farm’s owners, Ellie, Grace, and Donna. Highly contrived, the plot feels like four
case studies with a sauce of lesbianism and a sprinkle of organic farming. This is
Neff’s debut novel; hopefully her next one will be less ambitious in scope with
greater depth. P7Q5
Peters, Julie Anne. It’s Our Prom (So Deal with It). 2012. 342p. Little, $17.99. 978-
0-316-13158-2. Ages 13-15: More and more, the traditional proms are changing,
with LGBTQ kids taking a more prominent position. Two narrators, bisexual Luke
and lesbian Azure, take front stage in their high school proms when they
convince the principal to make it more diverse and accessible to all students.
Their conflict comes from their mutual crush on Radhika, who shows no gender
preference and is controlled by her Indian mother. Peters also provides diverse
backgrounds for the protagonists: Luke lives with his older brother while his
parents are in Europe and constantly gets harassed by the brother’s best friend
for being bi, and Azure has a warm and loving family, particularly her supportive
father. An advantage of this YA book is that it actually has a plot instead of
concentrating on characterization to carry the LGBTQ issues. Although a bit pat,
the book’s ending comes as a heart-warming surprise. P7Q8
Rudetsky, Seth. My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan. 2012. 211p. Random House,
$16.99. 978-0-375-86915-0. Ages 12-14: Justin, 15, has three plans for his
sophomore year: date Chuck, have his first kiss, and become popular. The plan is
totally improbable because chubby Justin is a geek, and football quarterback
Chuck is dating Becky, the most popular girl in school. The three stereotyped
characters get together because Becky convinces her father that she is dating
Justin to hide her relationship with Chuck. The information randomly dropped into
the fluffy plot distracts from the narrative, and the storyline uses predicable plot
devices, particularly the conclusion in which Justin does find love, has his kiss,
and becomes popular because of his work in drama. This is Rudetsky’s first
novel; perhaps he will find his pacing in the next one. As the Kirkus review
concluded, “Not much style, not much substance, but suitable for younger
Ryan, Tom. Way to Go. 2012. 214p. Orca, $12.95. 978-1-4598-0077-9. Ages 14-17:
The homophobia that Danny’s friends display has kept him from telling them that
he is gay. But summer vacation on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia changes the 17-
year-old when he takes a job helping create an up-scale restaurant and works
with Lisa, a hip girl from New York City. At first, he tries to convince himself that
he could be straight because of his friendship with Lisa, but more and more he
begins to understand his own needs. Set in 1994, this debut novel about a small
town could easily be set anywhere in the United States during the present time.
The narrow father who opposes Danny’s dream of being a chef and the obnoxious
friends who push Danny to get laid—with a girl, naturally—are well fleshed out,
and Lisa is a memorable character. Although the ending is a bit pat, the author
carries out the plot in an enjoyable writing style, providing an authentic view of
teenage angst. P8Q8
Saenz, Benjamin Alire. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.
2012. 358p. Simon & Schuster, $16.99. 978-1-4424-0892-0. Ages 13-16:
Although two 15-year-old Aristotle, angry and lonely, and Dante, intellectual and
open, are unlikely friends, the boring summer of 1987 in El Paso brings them
together when Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. Slowly they begin to share
each other’s families: Ari’s father is a Vietnam vet who cannot talk about his
experiences there; Ari’s mother refuses to talk about Ari’s older brother who is in
prison, and Dante’s professor father and psychiatrist mother are welcoming. The
rocky romance between the two Mexican-American boys begins when Ari saves
Dante’s life at the risk of his own. Although Dante recognizes that he is probably
gay, Ari is confused about his feelings for Dante and begins to reject him. The
author’s experience as a poet makes this book magical, not with long flowing
passages but with short statements, many of them brief dialog. The exploration
of family, sexual identity, and friendship covers over a year as Dante’s family
spends nine months in Chicago and Ari fights his feelings for Dante. The multidimensional
characters make this less a coming-out book and more about a
coming-of-age book that delivers the mindset of adolescents told from Ari’s point
of view as he learns to open up to the possibilities around him. The family
relationships are also real—the parents are not perfect, but they are genuine, as
are the feelings that the boys have for them. The brevity of the sentences makes
this a quick read that will stay in the memory for a long time. P7Q9
Simon, Lianne. Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite. 2012. 232p. Faie Miss
Press, $11.95. 978-0-981-482-0-1: The technical term in psychology with infants
born with both male and female physical characteristics is DSD—disorder of sex
development. In the past the person was term “hermaphrodite”; now it is
intersex. Yet a new term for obstacles facing Jamie, the 16-year-old protagonist
of this novel, is faie. Born with a testis and an ovary, Jamie, called Jameson by
his parents, can be a boy with minor surgery and testosterone. But her pixie
face, her height under five feet, and her inner feelings make her think that she is
actually a girl who wants to marry a man and have children. Simon shows her
struggles with her gender identity while living in a boys’ dorm at school while
wishing to be the elfin princess in her dreams. A medical student changes Jamie’s
life, helping her get surgery to be a girl and encouraging her in her dreams
despite Jamie’s father anger at her not wanting to be a boy. Simon’s book blends
friendship, romance, school, and family issues while providing information about
DSD. Set in the late 1960s, the book shows how intersex children were perceived
at that time by the people around them. Although some of the situations were
too simplified or glossed over, Jamie’s pain rings true, and the information also
makes the book interesting. P8Q7
Tracey, Scott. Witch Eyes. 2011. 330p. Flux, $9.95. 978-0-7387-2595-6. Ages 12-
15: Braden, a gay boy born with the ability to look through spells, leaves the
safety of his life with Uncle John to Belle Dam, a small Washington town being
torn apart by two feuding witch dynasties, in order to save his uncle. There he
discovers that his father is head of one family and Trey, the boy he crushes on, is
the son of the women who leads the rival group. The rest of the book is a mix of
magic, when Braden suffers excruciating pain whenever he takes off his
protective dark glasses, and revelations of dangers through the people he meets.
The beginning is slow and the characters sometimes confusing because the
reader knows only what Braden does. Sometimes strands of plot have no
resolution while other pieces come together very gradually. Unfortunately, the
relationship between Trey and Braden is rarely shown, almost as an afterthought
from time to time. Young readers will enjoy the teen drama and the adventurous
mysticism, wanting to read the second book in the planned series. P8Q6
First Thursday Book Reviews
September 6, 2012—JC
Pinkwater, Daniel. Bear in love. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick Press, 2012.
Unpaged. $15.99 ISBN 9780763645694 Ages 3-6. P7Q7
A lonely bear wakes one morning to discover that someone had left a present on a nearby rock.
As days pass, more presents appear and the bear begins to leave treats on the same rock. After
bear leaves a particularly fine treat, the anonymous friend is revealed to be a rabbit and they
become friends. Pinkwater’s simple story is fleshed out and given warmth and charm by
Hillenbrand’s mixed media illustrations. Recommended for preschool, kindergarten, and public
Siegel, Randy and Serge Broch. My snake, Blake. “A Neal Porter Book.” Roaring Brook Press, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN 9781596435841 Ages 3-6. P7Q8
With simple, colored line drawings, the story of a small boy and his pet—though quite
talented—snake charms the reader in much the same way as Tomi Ungerer’s 1958 book, Crictor.
Blake the snake can not only spell, but also cook, find car keys and remote controls, do
homework, and eat the occasional Brussels sprout. Recommended for preschool, kindergarten,
and public libraries.
Yates, Louise. Dog loves drawing. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Unpaged. $16.99 ISBN
9780375870675 Ages 3-6. P7Q7
Dog loves books so much that he opened a bookstore, but when his aunt sends a blank book,
Dog is puzzled. Following her directions, Dog readies his art supplies and draws a door into
adventure. Harkening back to the simple meta-world of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Yates
uses figures drawn by Dog to further the story and they, in turn, create other characters and
adventures. Recommended for preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and public school libraries.
Matthews, John, and Caitlin Matthews. Storyworld : create-a-story kit. Illustrated by Wayne Anderson, Paul Hess, David Lawrence, Nicki Palin, and Tomislav Tomic. “Templar Books.” Candlewick Press, 2012. 1 booklet (21 p.) + 40 cards. $12.99 ISBN 9780763645458 Ages 8-up. P8Q8
Intricate scenes beautifully illustrated with fairy tale and folkloric motifs repeated from one card
to another form the basis of an integrated introduction to storytelling, for a single child (or
adult) or for small groups. The accompanying booklet describes ways to incorporate the cards
into storytelling games. In some ways this may appeal to those who have enjoyed Where’s
Waldo or Graeme Base’s Animalia. Recommended for school and public libraries’ games
collection as well as for creative writing exercises.
Hearst, Michael. Unusual creatures : a mostly accurate account of some of Earth’s strangest animals. Artwork, diagrams and other visuals by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright, and Jelmer Noordeman. Chronicle Books, 2012. 109 p. Includes index. $16.99 ISBN 9781452104676 Ages 9-12. P8Q7
This bestiary of unusual animals gives a brief description, a drawing, the taxonomy, a
distribution map, and either a sidebar or true/false quiz about 50 species of animals, from the
axolotl and the aye-aye to the wombat and the yeti crab. Though the information seems
accurate and is delivered in a deliberately humorous fashion, the entries are barely extensive
enough to contribute to reports as a supplemental resource. That said, I learned facts about
several animals that I had not previously known, including the recently described venom of the
Komodo dragon and the existence of the Tiburonia granrojo, or big red jellyfish, which is 2 to 10
feet wide and lives up to a mile under the Pacific Ocean. Recommended as a supplemental text
for elementary, middle school and public libraries.
Simon, Seymour. Extreme Earth records. Chronicle Books, 2012. 57 p. Includes index. $17.99 ISBN 9781452107851 Ages 7-12. P8Q8
Dramatic photographs and sidebars support brief essays exploring Earth’s extremes, from
coldest and hottest, highest and deepest, driest and rainiest to earthquakes, tsunami, and
volcanoes. Seymour Simon has created yet another high quality, compelling nonfiction work for
children. Recommended for elementary school and public library collections.
Carlson-Voiles, Polly. Summer of the wolves. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. 343 p. $15.99 ISBN 9780547745916 Ages 11-15. P7Q8
Two years after their mother’s death, orphans Nika and her brother Randall are sent from a
caring foster parent in California to Minnesota to join a long-lost biologist uncle who studies
wolves. Nika’s gradual understanding of wolf family dynamics helps her get over her rage and
loss to accept and create a new human family. Includes information on the care and rescue of
wild animals as well as wolf biology. Recommended for middle, high school, and public libraries.
Engle. Margarita. The wild book. Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012. 133 p. $16.99 ISBN
9780547581316 Ages 10-up. P7Q7
In 1912 Cuba, a doctor diagnoses Fefa with word blindness—dyslexia—and says she will never
read nor write. Yet, her mother encourages Fefa by giving her a blank book which blossoms into
a wild garden of words and meaning. A novel in verse. Highly recommended for middle, high
school, and public libraries.
Under my hat: tales from the cauldron. Edited by Jonathan Strahan. Random House, 2012. 415 p. $16.99 ISBN 9780375868306 Ages 12-up. P7Q8
Taking inspiration from Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax, Jonathan Strahan collected 18
short fantasy stories about witches. Authors include Garth Nix, Tanith Lee, Neil Gaiman, Ellen
Kushner, Frances Hardinge, Holly Black, and Jim Butcher, among others. Ellen Klages explores
the power of Disney’s Maleficent on a young girl’s life while Australian author Isabelle Carmody spirits a curmudgeonly, middle aged woman and a young girl–who becomes her familiar–out of a doomed airplane and into a quest for a lost magical object. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public libraries.
Wein, Elizabeth. Code name Verity. Hyperion, 2012. 343 p. Includes bibliography. $16.99 ISBN 9781423152194 Ages 14-up. P7Q9
Paired journals form the basis of this historical thriller set in World War II occupied France. An
unnamed young British woman captured by the Gestapo trades her recollections for the small
comfort of lack of torture and the occasional article of clothing. Her story dovetails with that of
her friend, Maddie, a woman pilot/mechanic sheltered by the French resistance after her plane
is shot down. This is the story of courage and wit, love and friendship set in stark contrast to
torture and the inhumanity of war. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public
Book Reviews by JT
Kelly, Lynne. Chained. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-374-
31237-4. 248p. Ages 10 and up:
This beautiful story is about a boy and an elephant. Hastin’s family has doctor
bills to pay and Hastin gets a job as an elephant keeper for a circus. He falls in
love with the elephant, but finds the circus owner to be cruel and plans to free
not only the elephant but himself. This book is to be read with a tissue box and
would be a great addition to our library. P9Q8
DeVillers, Julia and Roy, Jennifer. Times Squared. [series] Aladdin, 2011.
$16.99. ISBN: 978-1-4168-7532-8. 233p. Ages 9-13:
Twin sisters Payton and Emma both are going to NYC for a field trip. Payton is
in drama club and Emma is on the mathletes team. This story is about sisters
sticking up for each other and always having each other’s backs. I would
recommend this book for a 10-12 year old girl. I love the fact that this series is
written by twin sisters. P7Q8
Kennedy, Emma. Wilma Tenderfoot: The Case of the Frozen Hearts. [series]
Penguin Group, 2011. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3540-8. 335p. Ages 9 and up:
An orphan girl, who lives on the “wrong-side” of the island, finds herself rented
out to the “right-side” as a servant to a woman named Barbara. Next door her
hero lives, the famous detective Theodore P. Goodman. Thelma can be
described as a mini-Nancy Drew. She wants desperately to become a detective
and find her parents. This is a great book to add to my library. Students who
like mysteries will love Wilma. The key messages in this book are: Never give
up on your dream, keep trying, and think positive. P9Q8
Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Wumbers. Chronicle Books, 2012. $16.99. ISBN:
978-1-452110226. 40p. Ages 8 and up:
Good idea, but…as my seven year olds nicely put it, “Where is the story?” This
book takes words like forgotten and substitutes it for 4got10. Each page is
different and creative, but doesn’t tell a story. This book would be a great
discussion piece about further steps that the author should have taken. How
could my students take this good idea and make it great? P6Q6
Davies, Jacqueline. The Bell Bandit. [series] Houghton Mifflin, 2012. $15.99.
ISBN: 978-0-547-56737-2. 174p. Ages 10 and up:
My first book of this series. This book is about a family who finds out their
grandma has Alzheimer’s. They struggle to do what is best for her and not give
up on family traditions. This book has a lot of issues that would need to be
talked about with students that read this book. The grandmother has
Alzheimer’s, the neighbor boy has Aspergers, and then there is animal cruelty. I
still think this is a great book, but would want to talk about these issues with my
Harper, Charise Mericle. Just Grace and the Flower Girl Power. [series]
Houghton Mifflin, 2012. $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-547-57720-3. 192p. Ages 6 and
Too young for my classroom, but a great read. Grace is not picked to be the
flower girl in her friend’s wedding. She desperately wants to be part of the
wedding and decides on the perfect wedding gift. She teaches the cat to walk
down the aisle. So many things can go wrong, but Grace finds a way to pull it off.
I would recommend this book to a first grade girl. P7Q7
Smith, Greg Leitich. Chronal Engine. Clarion Books, 2012. $16.99. ISBN: 978-
0-547-60849-5. 183p. Ages 10 and up:
This prehistoric time-travel adventure had my head swimming with time and
space. Three siblings go to live with their grandfather, the sister is kidnapped,
and the only way to save her is to go back in time. Dinosaurs rule and their
great-grandfather (who lives in the age of the dinosaurs with great-great
grandpa) helps the siblings save their sister. Confusing I know, but somehow it
makes sense. Their sister is the link to how the time travel works. After I got
over my confusion, I enjoyed this book. Kids will be thoroughly engaged when
reading this book, and will be waiting for the next book to come out. P9Q8
Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. [series] Alfred A. Knopf,
2011. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-85851-2. 295p. Ages 8 and up:
The three youngest Penderwicks go to Point Mouette on a vacation with their
aunt and are joined with their friend Jeffery. The three youngest are growing up
and with these growing pains learning lessons in love and loss. I would not
recommend this to students who want a fast paced adventure. It is an easy
read, but at times I felt it could have sped up. P6Q7
Fidler, Kathleee. The Desperate Journey. Floris Books, 1964. $9.95. ISBN:
978-086315-881-0. 161p. Grade 5 and up:
This book is about a Scottish family who is evicted from their home, and has to
find a way to survive through the industrial revolution in Glasgow. Not happy
with their new living conditions, they make the journey to a promised new life in
Canada. This book has many great themes that I can share with my classroom.
We could relate this book to the historical aspect of the journey to America that
so many people did in the 18th century, character traits, industrial revolution, and
child labor. P7Q8
Strohm, Stephanie. Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
$8.99. ISBN: 978-0-547-56459-3204 204p. Ages 12 and up:
How many girls do you know that would spend their summer working at a
historical living museum? I know a few (including myself). This story is about
Libby who gets to live out her Jane Austen fantasy through her job at a living
museum. Libby falls in and out of love with the wrong and the right guy. To
sum up this book: a teenage romance novel. Love this book, but would
recommend it for the high school library. P9Q8
Else, Barbara. The Traveling Restaurant: Jasper’s Voyage told in Three Parts.
Gecko Press, 2012. $17.95. ISBN: 978-1-877579-03-5. 295p. Ages 10-12:
Jasper has lost his family. His adventure to find them starts aboard the
Traveling Restaurant, where he finds magic and a way to save his parents and
baby sister. This is a great adventure story with a wonderful ending. My
students will love this book. It has all of the components that will hold their
interest: magic, adventure, pirates, and overcoming evil. P9Q9
Pryor, Bonnie. Captain Hannah Pritchard: The Hunt for the Pirate Gold. [series]
Enslow Publishers, 2012. $27.93. ISBN: 978-0-7660-3817-2. 158p. Ages 10
Hannah is a pirate during the Revolutionary War. Her crew must recover their
buried gold before the evil pirate Captain Samuel Cutter and evade capture from
the British. Only a select few know that Hannah is a woman pirate and so she
must be careful at all times. This Historical Fiction adventure will be used in my
Revolutionary War curriculum and historical fiction project. P8Q7
Baker, Theo and Oliver, Lin. Sound Bender. Scholastic Press, 2011. $16.99.
ISBN: 978-0-545-19692-5. 262p. Ages 10 and up:
Leo has a special gift. He can hear the history of an object by touching it. Living
with his Uncle Crane he finds that his gift must be protected and kept a secret.
His unsavory Uncle Crane is a smuggler who deals in antiques. This book I
would recommend to my Science Fiction lovers. I hope that there is a sequel to
this book! P9Q8
Grey, Mini. Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011.
$16.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-86952-5. 32p. Ages 6 and up:
The end covers and illustrations are the best part of this story. This story is
about a doll that is taken to the beach and gets lost (for a short time) in the
waves of the ocean. I kept waiting for a plot to be developed, but did not find
one. There were moments that the book could have been funny, but the author
didn’t take her writing far enough.
Florian, Douglas. Poem Runs. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-
547-68838-1. 30p. Ages 6 and up:
This book has poems that range from the pitcher to the catcher. Baseball fans
will enjoy these poems. The artwork creates a wonderful visual for the poems.
Love this book and will be adding it to my poetry unit. P8Q7
Vernick, Audrey. Brothers at Bat. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. $16.99. ISBN: 978-
0-547-38557-0. 39p. Ages 5 and up:
12 brothers plus 1 baseball team is a perfect way to describe this true story.
Love the artwork in this book. The message is a great one to share about a
family that works together and is successful. I will use this as a read aloud to
my students and use it in my unit for notable figures. P9Q9
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for
Reviews by S.J and the students of Isaac Newton Magnet School
Mac Barnett. Illustrations by Adam Rex. THE CASE OF THE CASE OF
MISTAKEN IDENTITY. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers,
2009. ISBN 978-1-4169-7815-2. 179 pgs. $14.99. Gr. 4 – 7.
A 12 year old boy named Steve was assigned an essay on needle work and, as
he checks out a book for his essay, his life changes forever. He is accused of
treason and wanted, but not by the police. He is wanted by the librarian agents
and everyone thinks he’s a detective. I recommend this exciting book to people
that dig adventure. This book is not only a great adventure, it’s a great mystery
too. Can Steve track down the missing quilt that contains all of America’s
secrets? You’re going to have to read it to find out. P 8, Q 10
Sean Beaudoin. Illustrations by Wilfred Santiago. FADE TO BLUE. Little,
Brown Company, 2009. ISBN 978-0-316-01417-5.
How would you feel if you couldn’t remember anything about your father? You
only know that you have a red scar on your elbow that somehow involves him.
Sophie Blue is 15 and she really wants to find out more about her father, but she
cannot remember a thing. She will do anything to find out. She will even die
three times to learn more about him. Not to mention becoming a zombie and
sacrificing herself. Would you do those things? P 7, Q 7
Tom Birdseye. STORM MOUNTAIN. Holiday House, 2010. ISBN 978-0-8234-
2130-5. 135 pgs. $16.99. Gr. 4 – 6.
A thirteen year old girl named Cat has practiced rock climbing in gym, but is she
ready to chase down her cousin on the same mountain her dad and uncle died
upon while climbing? Ty, Cat’s cousin, has embarked on a fool’s errand to
scatter the ashes of his father and Cat’s dad upon the mountain they loved. Do
and Cat and Ty have the experience, skill, and luck to do what their fathers
couldn’t? Readers in grades 4 – 6 will enjoy this quick paced book. P 7, Q 6.
Padraic Colum. THE GOLDEN FLEECE: AND THE HEROES WHO LIVED
BEFORE ACHILLES. Random House, 2010. 351 pgs. $10.99. Gr. 5 and up.
In order to claim his father’s lost throne, a strong young man named Jason must
embark on a journey with his crew to get the fabled Golden Fleece. On the way
they encounter monsters, gods, and goddesses. This book includes back stories
of some of the Argonauts. I recommend this book for twelve to fourteen year
olds who like adventure and mythology. P 9, Q 10
Melisssa De La Cruz. Illustrations by Mychael Johnston. BLOODY
VALENTINE. Hyperion, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4231-3449-7. 147 pgs. $6.00. Gr 6
This is a three part book about vampires. The first part is about Oliver. Oliver’s
vampire has left him so when a friendly bartender offers help Oliver’s all in. The
second part is about Allegra Van Alen. Allegra has just switched schools and is
meeting new friends. Ben is one of them, but when she has a vision it puts her
relationship in jeopardy. The last story is about Schuyles and Jack. Schuyle
and Jack have been fighting for their love and their lives, and they have finally
decided to get married. But when the unexpected happens will they be able to
say their “I do’s”? I recommend this book to advanced readers who like thrilling
fantasies. P 7, Q 8
Rick Detorie. THE ACCIDENTAL GENIUS OF WEASEL HIGH. Egmont USA,
2011. ISBN 978-1-60684-149-5. 208 pgs. $9.99. Gr. 5-8.
Larkin has always wanted a camcorder so he can become the next great
filmmaker. Larkin spends his time with a young girl named Brooke, but he finds
out that she is the girlfriend of his worst enemy, Dalton Cooke. Larkin hates
school, Dalton, and he misses Brooke. In the end, Larkin sets things right. This
book is recommended for grades 5-8. P 9, Q 8
Erik E. Esckilsen. THE OUTSIDE GROOVE. Houghton Mifflin Company,
Walter Lorraine Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-618-66854-0. 258 pgs. $16.00. Gr.
5 – 9.
Casey LaPlante is the sister of Wade LaPlante, the race car driver. She feels
like she is always in his shadow. When she gets into the college of her dreams
she still feels that no one cares. I would recommend this book for advanced 5th
grade readers and beyond. P 8, Q 7
Stuart Gibbs. BELLY UP. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers,
2010. ISBN 978-1-4169-8731-4. 294 pgs. $ Gr. 5-8.
Ted has a reputation for being a troublemaker. His parents have just been
accepted as volunteers at Wild Park, the largest zoo in the world, and when
Henry the Hippo goes belly up Ted appears suspicious. He later finds out that
Henry has been murdered. Ted finds more than just a hippo murderer. With the
killer trying to kill Ted he has to hurry up and find the killer before it’s too late. I
recommend this book to anyone who likes murder mysteries and animal
adventures. P 8, Q 10
Chris Grabenstein. THE BLACK HEART CRYPT. Random House Children’s
Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-375-86900-6. 329 pgs. $18.99. Gr. 8-10.
In the beginning, Zach Jennings chases a large black dog with glowing, red eyes.
Soon after that Zach discovers – just as his father could – that he can see ghosts.
What will he do when the Ickleby ghosts come after him to kill him on Halloween
night? This book will be enjoyed by middle schoolers. P 8, Q 8
Peter Hannan. MY BIG MOUTH: 10 SONGS I WROTE THAT ALMOST GOT
ME KILLED. Scholastic, 20111. ISBN 978-0-545-16210-4. 235 pgs. $16.99.
Gr. 4 – 7
I give this book five stars! It is very entertaining. If I had to pick a favorite
moment it would probably be when they were using the barber shop as a practice
place and Molly and Davis were having a little duel. I also liked it when Sally
came back and Davis didn’t recognize her. Davis Delaware has moved to a new
school and yet again he’s forced to explain that his last name doesn’t mean he’s
from Delaware. That’s the least of his problems as he learns how to fit in and
meet new friends. I recommend it to people because it is a very entertaining
book. And it is also a very quick read.
P 10, Q 10
Charlie Higson. THE ENEMY. Hyperion, 2009. ISBN 978-14231313175-5.
440 pgs. $16.99. Gr. 8 and up.
The book is one of the best books I have ever read. It is full of action and
adventure. It will leave you tense and hyperventilating and is impossible to put
down. An unknown disease has cast a blanket over the world. Everyone over
sixteen is either dead or a zombie. That’s right, a stumbling, drooling, brainless
zombie. And if you want to survive you hide or you fight. Join a group of children
in London as they struggle to survive and make their journey to safety in The
Enemy. Older readers and mature students who like thrilling stories will enjoy
P 10, Q 10
H. N. Kowitt. THE LOSER LIST. Scholastic Press, 2011. ISBN 978-0-545-
24004-8. 213 pgs. $9.99. Gr. 4 – 6.
The Loser List is one of my favorite books. It is about an average kid trying to
survive school. Most people think Danny Shine is a geek, but he has a wide
variety of interests: buying comics, trading comics, drawing comics, and saving
money for comics. He gets in detention during a food fight with the three
meanest school bullies, kids the entire school fears. Anyone who is a fan of Big
Nate or Diary of a Wimpy Kid will love this book.
P 10, Q 10
Torrey Maldonado. SECRET SATURDAYS. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2010.
ISBN 978-0-399-25158-0. 195 pgs. $16.99. Gr. 6-9.
Secret Saturdays is about a group of best friends who do everything – from
school work, to rapping, and staying at each other’s houses – together until
Justin’s best friend, Shaun, starts taking secret Saturday trips. Shaun begins
lying, “dissing”, and even beating up the other kids and starts acting different.
Justin and his other friends put the pieces together to find out what’s making
Shaun act weird. This book will appeal to older students, particularly male
P 8, Q 8
Ian Ogilvy. MEASLE AND THE WRATHMONK. Harper Collin Publishers,
2004. ISBN 0-06-058686-9. 210 pgs. $16.89. Gr. 4 – 8.
Measle’s parents died from a deadly snake bite or so he was told by his
guardian/cousin. Measle now lives in a dirty house full of cockroaches when he
finds himself trapped in one of his cousin’s spells. Measle’s got to get help to
survive the situation. I think lots of people will enjoy this book because it is full of
P 8, Q 8
Micol Ostow. WHAT WOULD MY CELL PHONE DO? Penguin Group, 2011.
ISBN 978-0-14-2411469-9. 260 pgs. $7.99. Gr. 6 – 9.
Moving from sunshiny Florida to cold Alaska is going to be rough for 16-year-old
Aggre. With no friends or phone what is she going to do? Over the course of the
novel, she will find love, friends, and a better relationship with family. I
recommend this book to 6th graders and higher level readers and to people who
like realistic fiction. Everyone who will read this book will love it, just like I did.
P 9, Q 9.
Rebecca Promitzer. THE PICKLE KING. Scholastic Inc, 2010. ISBN 978-0-
545-17087-1. 404 pgs. $9.89. Gr. 4 and up.
Bea and Sam are best friends and they live in the boring little town of Elbow
where nothing happens. Well nothing usually happens until Sam discovers a
body in the flooded basement of a creepy house and encourages camera bug
Bea to take photos of the scene. Soon the two friends are embroiled in a
mystery. P 8, Q 8
Jerry Spinelli. EGGS. Little, Brown and Company, 2007. ISBN 0-316-02871-
1. 236 pgs. $5.99. Gr. 5 – 6.
David is a boy in high school who has recently lost his mom. Now he lives with
his grandmother, but isn’t very happy with his situation. When he meets Primrose
his life changes forever. Eggs is a can’t-put-it-down-novel full of humor and
drama. It is recommended for grades 5-6.
P 9, Q 10
Reviews by M.D. ASPIRE NHS
Barnaby, Hannah. Wonder Show. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. Houghton
Mifflin Books For Children. New York. 2012. $16.99. 271 pgs. Middle & High
School. 978-0-547-59980-9 P8/Q8
I enjoyed this story as I have always been intrigued with circus side show performers
from a young age. I even googled some of the people who the story was loosely based
on from the early 1800’s. Portia is a “normal” among the “freaks” and joins the circus to
escape the apple orchard “slave” camp for orphans. This is a story of abandonment,
loss, murder, misfortune of the rich and how Portia is able to come out on top by making
friends and standing up for her. There is a section at the end of the story that explains
who the “freaks” were based on and this is how I was able to find them on the web. I
think middle school students will find this very intriguing. This might make a good project
for an English or Art class to create “freaks” or start a discussion about how times have
changed for the physically handicapped.
Shank, Marilyn Sue. “Child Of The Mountains.” Delacorte Press. New York. 2012.
$16.99. 253 pgs. Middle & High School. 970-0-385-74079-1. p8/q8
This is a story of historical fiction from the point of view of Lydia from West Virginia in
1953 in Coal Country. It is a story of loss and grief as she must move in with her Aunt
and Uncle after her Gram and brother die and her mother is taken to jail. I like how Lydia
finds her voice and is able to help her mother be released from jail and acquitted of her
brother’s death. It explores some of the horrible treatment of the poor. During the 50’s
medical personal who were doing medical experiments on the poor and uneducated. Her
brother dies from the horrible diseases cystic fibrosis. The story has twists and secrets
that are reveled in the end like who her real father is. I like how the lawyer is able to
help her testify on her mother’s behalf and free her mother from the injustice of the
system. I really like historical fiction because the story feels real and teaches about
history at the same time.
Bauman, Beth Ann. “Jersey Angel.” Wendy Lamb Books. New York. 2012. $16.99.
199 pgs. Middle & High School. 978-0-385-74020-3. p8/q8
Angle is about to start her senior year in high school. She is a free sprit and her
boyfriend Joey wants things to be more serious, while Angle wants to remain in a more
open relationship. Angle starts to fool around with her best friends boyfriend while Inggy
is away for college visits but Joey keeps coming back for more. Angle can’t seem to
figure who she wants to be with. Joey stays by her side and helps her learn to care for
others and ultimately herself. The story has more mature sexual scenes in the story and
may not be appropriate for younger readers. I do like the way Angle changes and
matures and learn what and who is really important in her life.
Sloan, Holly Gorlberg. “ I’ll Be There.” Little, Brown And Company. New York.
2011. $17.99. 392 pgs. High School. 978-0-316-12279-5 p8/q8
The book is written from the perspective of three different characters Sam, Riddle, and
Emily. The author tells us when a new character is talking by putting three stars between
the sections (***). Sam & Riddle brothers who are raised by an abusive father are finally
able to escape a very scary trip out in the middle of nowhere. They meet a girl Emily
who helps them move on from their previous life on the move. The difficult part about
this story is the violence from the father towards his sons; he even tries to kill them. This
is a very suspenseful story with a good ending. I also like how the boys are good despite
their despicable father. This story may be hard for some students who have
experienced abusive parents to read. It might make a good book for classroom
discussion about how students don’t have to be like their parents.
Price, Charlie. “Desert Angel.” Farrar Straus Giroux. New York. 2011. $16.99. 233
pgs. High School. 978-0-374-31775-1 p8/q8
This is a scary story about murder, abuse and how one fourteen year old girl Angel
escapes her past. Her mother has been murdered by her boyfriend and she is trapped
in a trailer in the California desert. She is able to escape but must suffer with out water
and weapons all alone in the desert to get away from Scotty. Luckily she runs into
another small community that is willing to help her avoid Scotty and get help from the
authorities. This is a thrilling life and death story of escape and hope. The story has
very graphic scenes of abuse and torture and may be too intense for some young fragile
readers, but I love how Angel is able to make a new life in the end.
Levine, Kristin. “The Lions Of Little Rock.” G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 2012.
$16.99. 296 pgs. Middle & High School. 978-0-399-25644-8 p8/q8
This story is set in 1958 during the race and civil rights movements in Little Rock
Arkansas. This is a great tale of two girls Liz and Marlee who stay true friends despite
the fact that Liz leaves school suddenly. People say she has been trying to pass for
white and returned to the black school before she was caught. I liked how Marlee
figured out a way to stay in contact despite her family’s worries. The authors note
section explains about the integration of the High Schools in Little Rock during the
1950’s. I always learn so much when I read historical fiction, such as how America has
changed as we have come through such race problems. This is a great book about
friendship despite conflict and politics. This would be a great book for a history class to
read and look at this time through the eyes of young students.
2012 Reviews by M.D. ASPIRE NHS
Kaster, Pam. “Molly the Pony.” Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. New
York. 2012. $15.99. 48 pgs. Elementary School. 978-1-250-00433-8 P78/Q7
This is a My Readers Classic Stories – Classic Characters book. This is a true story
about a pony who lived through hurricane Katrina but was injured by a dog and lost a front
leg. The vets build a prosthetic leg for the pony and she was able to heal from her
injuries after many months. I also like the many pictures that are included in this simple
chapter book. Molly becomes a bit of a celebrity and visits children’s hospitals so that
children who have also loss a limb have some encouragement and hope. I also like the
fact that her prosthetic leg creates a fun happy face in the dirt when she walks. This is a
great beginning reader book with a very inspirational story about hope and healing.
Carson, Mary Kay. “Who was the Hair-Care Millionaire? Madam C.J.Walker..”
Enslow Elementary Enslow Publishers, Inc. New Jersey. 2012. $16.99. 24 pgs.
Elementary School. 978-0-7660-3973-5. p7/q8
This is a book from an “I like Inventors!” series which also includes Who Invented
Basketball, Who Invented the Ferris Wheel? and Who Invented Home Video Games?. I
have read other books about Madam Walker and I thought this was an excellent
explanation of who and what she did. It is truly an amazing story because she was the
first black woman millionaire. It has a contents page, words to know, learn more section,
index and a activity to learn how to make homemade bubble bath. This story has lots of
interesting photos and facts about this woman and her invention. This would be a great
book for budding chemists and inventors.
Purcell, Kim. “Trafficked.” Viking. New York. 2012. $16.99. 384 pgs. High School.
The jacket cover asks the question “What is one girl’s life worth on the black market?”
This is a novel about Moldovan a seventeen year old girl from Europe who is brought to
the U.S. to be a slave for a family in Los Angeles. Her parents are both killed and her
Uncle has disappeared so when she is contacted by a lady who gets her to go to Los
Angeles. She is made to babysit two children nonstop, clean from morning to evening
and never leave the house. She finally makes friends with the neighbor boy when she
takes out the trash late one night. Things get crazy when the father of the family tries to
put the moves on Moldova and she is finally able to escape. Things are a little graphic
with some sexual abuse and the theme of slavery and may be offensive to some
Book Review by Carol Bernardi
Ashley-Hollinger, Mika, Precious bones, Delacorte Press, U.S.A. 2012, 344
pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-385-74219-1, Gr.5+, P 8, Q 9,
Bones is a 10 year-old girl who lives in Florida with her family in 1949. Two
Yankees have come to Florida with a scheme to build a complex on her family’s
land. Bone’s father, Nolay who is a Native American, has owned the land
for generations. There is a strong sense of discrimination against people of color
in the south at this time. When Bone and her friend Little Man find a body in the
swamp all the evidence points to Nolay. Nolay is arrested and charged with the
murder. Bones and her friend are determined to prove Nolay’s innocence.
Burg, Shana, Laugh with the moon, Delacorte Press, New York, 2012, 145
pgs., $16.99, ISBN:978-0-385-73471-4, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Clare and her father are traveling to Malawi, Africa, though Clare doesn’t want to.
I has been only a few since her mother’s death and she is ready really for
anything. Clare’s father is a doctor who years ago visited Malawi and helped the
people here in the hospital. Clare is to attend the Mzanga Full Primary School
instead of the international school nearby. Her father wants her to really
understand the local people and what their daily lives are like. Clare soon makes
friends and is even called upon to be a teacher at the school. She is to teach
English to the primary students, all 146 of them. Her idea of a play escalates into
night time event that all the parents and local villages are invited to. When the
star of the play, Memory, dies from malaria she is devastated. She and her father
must come to understanding of the loss of her mother and also Memory. A rare
look into what life is like for those who live in another country.
Buzbee, Lewis, Bridge of time, Feiwell and friends, New York, 2012, 290
pgs. $17.99, ISBN:978-0-312-38257-5, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q8,
Lee Jones and Joan Lee have no idea when their class goes on a field trip to
Fort Point which is near the Golden Gate Bridge. Lee and Joan have been best
friends since 1st grade and next year they will be going to different schools so this
is to be their last great hurrah together. Disappointment is all they feel as this is
just another field trip to a place they have already been. Upon arriving at the Fort
the two break away from the group and climb to the top of a lighthouse, an area
that is not accessible to the public, and there they fall asleep. When they awaken
they have traveled back in time to the year 1864. Here they meet Samuel
Clemens, racial prejudice, and are chased by gangs who want to catch them.
Together with Sam Clemens they go on a madcap adventure as they try to get
back to their own time.
Clark, Catherine, How not to run for president, Egmont, New York, 2012,
235 pgs. $15.99, ISBN:978-1-60684-101-3, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,
With the presidential election coming up next month I was eager to read this
book. I wanted a great read aloud for a class that might be studying the election
system process. What I found was a look into what could happen behind the
scenes of those who are running for office. Aiden is a middle school student who
plays in the school band. The band is to play at one of the presidential campaign
rallies. Aiden saves the candidate’s life and his life changes forever. She asks
him to go along on her touring bus and to help with her campaign. He hates the
life style, the candidate’s daughter and longs for his home. This is a unique book
that lets the reader see how campaigns may not always be what they seem.
Dashner, James, The kill order, Delacorte Press, New York, 2012, 329 pgs.
$17.99, ISBN:978-0-385-74288-7, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
James Dashner has written a prequel to his Maze Runner series. It like the
previous novels is full of adventure and a plot that offers twists as the world we
knew is changed forever. Sun flairs have destroyed the world that we knew now
people in small clusters fight to survive. When a airship arrives a virus is
unleashed on Earth and it is up to Mark and Trina to survive and find out why all
this has happened. If you have read the other books in this series then this book
is a must to read too.
Gleitzman, Morris, Now, Henry Holt and Company, New York,
2010(Australia) 2012, 184 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-8050-9378-0, Gr. 7+, P 8,
I read the other two books, Once and Then, by Morris Gleitzman, where Felix
and his young friend Zelda escape the Germans during World War II. Felix is
Jewish and Zelda is a young girl of German descent who meet and together strive
to survive the Nazi’s atrocities. Now Felix is an old man and Zelda, his
granddaughter, is sent to Australia to live with him till her parents return from a
humanitarian trip to Africa. Felix himself is a surgeon who has retired from
surgery because of his shaking hands. Zelda’s visit brings back the memories of
the horrors he faced during WWII. Zelda and her grandfather face a devastating
fire that together they fight and that causes Felix to finally put to rest his terrible
Hayles, Marsha, Breathing room, Christy Ottavino Books, Henry Holt and
Company, New York, 2012, 244 pgs. $17.99, ISBN:978-0-8050-8961-5, Gr. 5+,
P 7, Q 8,
Tuberculosis is a rising world health concern especially as it has becomes
resistant to drugs that have been used in the past. Evvy Hoffmeister, is 13-years-old,
in 1940 when she is taken to Loon Lake Sanatorium, a place where
Tuberculosis patients are placed. Evvy is befriended by the other young girls
there who with her must obey the strict rules. She may talk or get out of bed it is
complete bed rest for her and them. Letters and the day that you are allowed to
sit up is the most excitement that they have. There is a night nurse who
remembers that they are young girls and sneaks Coke-a-cola into their rooms
and talks to them of records and the happenings of the world. The author has
used historical photographs of the period and at the beginning of each chapter as
she describes each girls dreary existence, their hopes and their triumphs and
failures. This is a story that will be remembered long after the reader has read it.
Lacey, Josh, Island of thieves, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston,
2011(England) 2012, 228 pgs. ISBN:978-0-547-76327-9, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
Tom’s parents have never been a vacation by themselves since they had Tom
and his other two siblings. With the other siblings placed in homes where the
parents know they will be taken care of all they have to do is find some place for
Tom, and the only person left is Uncle Harvey. Uncle Harvey is their last resort
and Tom can barely remember him but the parents are determined to go on this
vacation. So after Uncle Harvey finally says yes Tom is dropped off his parents
hurry to catch a plane. This begins a fast paced adventure that takes Tom and
Uncle Harvey to South America where they search for a treasure, that is
mentioned in John Drake’s journal. John Drake is actually a cousin of Sir Frances
Drake and was on board his ship in 1577. Years later the journal was found and
the author has based this story on it.
Laybourne, Emmy, Monument 14, Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2012, 296
pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-312-56903-7, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
Alex and Dean both run to their waiting school buses not realizing that this might be the last time that they will see their mother. A sudden freak hail storm hits their town, set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, hail that is so large that the streets become so hazardous that Alex’s bus is almost destroyed. There are only 14 students who are saved from this devastating storm and they take refuge in a local super store. There are 6 high school students, 2 eighth graders, and 6 little kids who must work together to survive in a store that has locked them in and the world out. A world where chemicals are released into the air that cause people to react differently depending on their blood type. Their world had depended on the web for information and it has gone down no communication is available to them except on old television that allows them to see news, which tells them what is going on in the world. Together they survive and together they must find a way to get to safety.
Rosenthal, Betsy, Looking for me, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2012,165 pgs.
glossary, $15.99, ISBN:978-0-547-61084-9, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
This story is based on the life of the author’s mother, Edith Paul. Set in Baltimore during the depression Edith was on of 12 children and she never really knew who she really was. Her life was always one of working, taking care of younger siblings and working in her father’s diner. Her teacher saw in Edith the makings of a teacher and she encouraged her in this dream. The story has actual photographs from Edith’s large family.
Stiles, Martha, Sailing to freedom, Henry Holt and Company, New York,
2012, 245 pgs. glossary, $16.99, ISBN:978-0-8050-9238-7, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
Raymond Ingle lives with his mother in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and with
his father, a ship’s captain, when he comes into port. He dreams of going to sea
and his father always measures his height by the height of the fireplace mantle.
When he reaches the height of the mantle he will be grown enough to go to sea.
Whenever his father he returns he always brings him something and this time he
gets a Capuchin monkey, named Allie. When his mother has to go to her sisters
place Ray is sent to stay with his Uncle Slye. He hates the stingy old man who
doesn’t want him because of the monkey. When Allie gets into Uncle Slye’s molasses, he
threatens to kill or give away the monkey. Ray cleans the mess and in doing so
hears his uncle plotting to catch his brother, Ray’s Uncle Thad, who they believe
is aiding an escape slave. Ray runs away from Uncle Slye and meets his Uncle
Thad who takes him to his own ship as a cabin boy. When Ray discovers the hidden
slave aboard his ship he comes to realize the danger the ship and crew would be in if
they are caught. The Fugitive Slave Act is being enforced and if they catch his
uncle he could lose his ship and have a hefty fine leveled against him as well.
Alternating chapters tell the story of Ogun and his mother, they are slaves in the
south, who are escaping to Canada. The two boys finally meet at the end of the
Scott, Elaine, Buried alive! How 33 miners survived 69 days deep under the
Chilean desert, Clarion Books, Boston, 2012, 80 pgs. glossary, index,
$17.99, ISBN:978-0-547-70778-5, Gr.5 +, P 8, Q 8,
In the last few years it seems that there have been more mines, not only in
America but also around the world, that have collapsed and the miners caught in
the cave ins have been killed. I sat in front of the television watching as the 33
miners were brought to the surface after having been trapped below for 69 days
in a mine in Chile, South America. The grainy pictures of the miners trapped
below give a quick view of what life was like for these 33 men. The stories are
taken from the miners and retold in the pages of this book. The gray paper that
the text appears on is reminiscent of what the miners looked at each day. I have
presented this book already to four of my classes and have waiting list for those
who wish to read the book.
Amateau, Gigi, Come August, come freedom the bellows, the gallows, and
the black General Gabriel, Candlewick Press, Berryville, VA. 2012, 231 pgs.
$16.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-4792-6, Gr. 7th, P 7, Q 8,
I remember reading in my history books how some slaves in the South tried to
rise up against their slave owners in an attempt to gain their freedom. Gabriel is
one of these slaves who attempted to rise up against his owners to gain his
freedom. As a young boy he was taught to read and write as he set next to the
young son of his owner. Teaching slaves to read was frowned upon and in some
states was against the law. When Gabriel is caught by the owner reciting a
speech by Patrick Henry about slavery he is first hit by his master and then the
master’s son. Gabriel and his older brother are taken to Richmond, Virginia to
become a black smith. Here in Richmond he is exposed to free talking people
who are for and against slavery. General Gabriel is able to recruit slaves from all
over Virginia to join his forces and all pledge to rise up for freedom. On the day
that the attack is to take place a rain storm hits stopping the revolution in its
tracks. When the plot is found out many are captured and hung, as is Gabriel.
Slavery is and was a horrible blight on America’s history. A land where all men
are created equal but still slavery existed. This book gives unique look in to a
slave family life.
Beil, Michael, Summer of the forsaken lake, Alfred A. Knopf, New York,
2012, 330 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-375-86742-2, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
This is the summer that Nicholas and his two younger twin sisters are being
shipped to Forsaken Lake to spend with their great Uncle Nick. A place where
there is no computer, television, or cell phone reception. What are city kids to do
with nothing to do? They have a summer filed with learning, adventure, and
reading. There is a mystery that they are determined to solve and which will bring
their dad back to Forsaken Lake after 30 years. Nick learns to sail a sail boat and
to finish one that his dad started so long ago. This is a summer like they have
never had before, a summer that can’t wait to do all over next summer. This story
was like a walk down memory lane as I remembered all those trips back to
Jackson, Wyoming where I had many of my own adventures.
Bolger, Kevin, Zombiekins, illustrated by Aaron Blecha, Razor Bill, New
York, 2010, 206 pgs. $10.99, ISBN:978-1-59514-177-4, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 7,
Stanley is in the 4th grade in Dementedville, USA and his life is going along pretty
well. That is till the day that he buys this creepy mysterious doll from the Widow
Imavitch. The package warns that you need to read the instructions before
opening the box. Stanley throws them away and opens the box, setting free
Zombiekins. How to describe this little monster whom the artist depicts as part
bear, part rabbit, talons for hands, webbed talons for feet and vampire teeth. His
two eyes one bright yellow and the other pink and hanging by a thread would
make any person stop and think before opening the box. The mostly black and
white drawings show the victims of Zombiekins in many different situations. It is
the bite of this charming little monster that sets off a series of events that Stanley
must stop. After all it was he who released Zombiekins on Dementedville. I know
this book will be a hit with the students of my school.
Coakley, Lena, Witchlanders, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New
York, 2011, 397 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-1-4424-2004-5, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
Witchlanders is a land that has been divided and is protected by the red witches
who pray to their goddess high up in the hills. Ryder lives in Witchlander and
does not believe in the witches and their tales. He is the son of one of the red
witches, who gave up her place in the coven for that of her family’s home.
Falpian is a prince from a land beyond Witchlander who comes close to border
for a time to mourn his twin brother. This book is narrated by two different boys
who speak in alternating chapters. When Ryder’s mother dies after huge earth
beasts attack Ryders village he suddenly starts to hear and see that of a life of
another young man. When he leaves the witches coven, the village has gone
here for safety, he is determined to find the one who thoughts he his sharing. He
finds Falpian and learns why he was really sent to the hills above Witchlander.
They must work together to solve the mystery of the earth beasts and to stop a
war that is soon to start between their two countries. Yes, there will be another
book in the series.
Dashner, James, The Scorch trials, Ember, Random House, New York, 360
pgs. $9.99, ISBN:978-0-385-73876-7, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
Having read the Maze Runner I couldn’t wait for the second book to find out what
was going to happen to the survivors of the first story. This dystopia novel goes
further into the world that was destroyed by sun flares and has turned Earth in to
a waste land. Dashner has thrown a new element in to the story line the “Flare” a
disease that not only covers people with open festering sores but also drives
them insane. A disease that starts to mutate and the founders of the disease can
no longer control it. Thomas has to battle those who suffer from the disease while
trying to figure out why the ruling government, Wicked, is trying to destroy those
who have survived. The story is again fast paced and I couldn’t put it down till I
finished it. The many plot twists and the discovery of why all this is taking place
kept me on the end of my seat.
Dashner, James, The death cure, Delacorte Press, New York, 325 pgs.
$17.99, ISBN:978-0-385-73877-4, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
The third book of the Maze Runner series where once again I found myself biting
my finger nails, a true indication of how suspenseful the story was. My many
questions are all finally answered. It is revealed to Thomas why his memory was
erased and that why “Wicked” infected the world with the FLare. Thomas was
part of the plot all along, but having experienced everything he now realizes how
wrong he and the government truly are. Thomas has come to see that he was a
player in a scheme that went terribly wrong and now threatens the civilization of
the world. This fast action paced book comes to a sudden end which leaves the
reader thinking of a world that in the future could come to be.
Holm, Jennifer, Eight grade is making me sick: Ginny Davis’s year in stuff,
illustrated by Elicia Castaldi, Random House, New York, 2012, 121 pgs.
This is the second book that Jennifer Holmes has written about Ginny Davis. The
first is titled “Middle school is worse than meatloaf” which is in my library but I
have not read. This unique book is written using a series of letters, e-mails, tech
messaging, photographs, sketches and printouts from school which are actually
the illustrations for the book. I don’t do texting, I don’t own a cell phone so to
actually read texting was different but fun. Fun is the word that comes to mind
with this book to read a book using only the afore mentioned ways was distinctive
from any other book that I have read. One year in Ginny’s life brought many
changes to her life: a new baby, a new house, her mother quitting her job, her
stepfather Bob losing his job, running out of money, and by the end of the year
moving to California because her mother goes back to work. Students will love
Pearsall, Shelly, Jump into the sky, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2012, 344
pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-375-83699-2, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,
Levi Battle was only nine years old the year that his father left him with his Aunt
Odella in Chicago while he serves his country in World War II. Now at the age of
13 his aunt is determined to send south to an Army base in North Caroline. She
feels the war is starting wane and that they should be together. His great Uncle
Otis feels that Levi is not prepared for the south, being African American Levi is
not prepared for the discrimination that he will face. He has to switch trains as
Aunt Odella has put him the wrong train and he is escorted to the colored train
section. When Levi arrives in Fayetteville, NC he enters a store and asks for a
grape pop. The store owner sells him one and forces him to drink it at gun point.
Levi now knows why his Uncle Otis was worried; he is unprepared for stark cruel
prejudice of the south. The story is set against his fathers all black parachute
troop that many people didn’t even know about. The555th Parachute Infantry
Battalion or the Triple Nickels really existed and was a test by the US
government set to see if an all-black parachute troop could be used in WWII. In
the story Levi’s father Lieutenant Charles Battle and his battalion were sent to
Pendleton, Oregon to stop the Japanese air balloons bombs that were being
sent into the air and came down it the west. There were Japanese air balloon
bombs that really did come down in Washington, Oregon and Idaho though the
Triple Nickels never saw any. This book offers a closer look into true historical
events of WWII and also to how African Americans were seen at this time.
Shelton, Dave, A boy and a bear in a boat, David Ficking Books, New York,
2012, 294 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0385-75248-0, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 9,
When I first started reading this book I didn’t know what to think. Terms that
come to mind are weird, strange, odd and unusual. ( I looked these terms up in
the thesaurus) So why did I continue to read it, I found myself on Beatrice, the
boat, with the bear and the boy, and even though their adventure was let’s say
really boring I had to finish reading the story. This was a trip that was doomed
from the start a strong British bear who just starts rowing, splish splish, splish,
and will never admit to the boy he is lost. A bear who has to stop at 4:00 o’clock
to have his tea and is afraid to light his little gas stove. The boy questions
everything that bear says or does but in the end must accept what is the bear
says, as he is the captain. After all how can and does the bear find his way with a
map that is all blue without any reference points to follow. The boy and bear
have many adventures together some good and some horrible, but through it all
they find a way to survive and to trust one another. The illustrations help in telling
this story from a mix of cartoon style and a unforgettable black and white
pictures, that will stay with the reader long after the story ends. This unique book
will appeal to younger students.
Vail, Rachel, Justin Case shells, smells, and the horrible flip-flops of doom,
illustrated by Matthew Cordell, Feiwell and Friends, New York, 2012, 179
pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-1-250-00081-1. Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,
I had to do a little research on this book as the tone made me feel that this story
had one that was written before it. Surprise there was one titled Justin Case:
school, drool, and other daily disasters, printed in 2010. Did I need to read the
first to understand this no, it stands on its own merit. Justin Case has just
finished the 3rd grade and he is determined to attend Camp GoldenBrook, after
all he is still not a runny-aroundy kid. Justin writes of his 79 days of vacation by
using a diary format where the reader comes to understand that Justin might
naught have picked the right camp after all. The message however that the book
sends to the reader “start what you finished” comes through loud and clear. No
matter how bad it is for Justin he does just that and in the end is happy that he
did. Matthew Cordell illustrations add to story with his hilarious black and white
drawings. I know that my students will want this book as soon as I can get into
Wells, Rosemary, Following grandfather, illustrated by Christopher Denise,
Candlewick Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 2012, 58 pgs. $14.99,
ISBN:978-0-7636-5069-8, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,
Jenny and her grandfather have a special bond after all it has been grandfather
who has always taken care of this little mouse. Grandfather was an immigrant
mouse from Italy who came to Boston for a better life. He tells Jenny stories of
Boston, his immigration, and his true love Jenny’s grandmother. He also teaches
her to read and write and all the names of the seashells. When her grandfather
passes away her sorrow is intense. She starts to see him everywhere and follows
those who she thinks is her dead grandfather. This is a touching tell of a
grandparents death and the final acceptance by a grandchild. The ending of this
tale is truly endearing and will bring tears to many who read it.
Adams, Tom, Super Science: mater matters! Illustrated by Thomas
Flintham, Templar Books, imprint of Candlewick Press, Somerville,
Massachusetts, 2012, unp. 18.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-6096-3, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,
Chemistry was a subject that I never took in high school. When I went to college I
was unprepared for some of my classes as I did not have any background in this
subject matter. I had to really study to get caught up and I also spent time in the
professor office as well. Had I had a book like this that makes chemistry fun
maybe I would have ventured into a chemistry class. Fun is the key word with
this book as you lift tabs to discover the mystery of chemistry. The pop ups and
tabs engage the reader as they learn about ancient scientist, acids, bases, and
reactions. There are seven experiments that are included in the book as well.
There is also a warning that tells the reader not to do the experiments with out an
adult present. The colorful comic book style illustrations are witty and entertaining
they are sure to help engage the reader with the subject of Chemistry.
Handford, Martin, Where’s Waldo? (Deluxe anniversary edition) Candlewick
Press, Somerville, Massachusetts, 1987, 1997, 2007, 2012, unp. $16.99,
ISBN:978-0-7636-4525-0, Gr. all, P 10, Q 8,
It is hard to believe that Where’s Waldo? is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
Waldo is timeless and appeals to all ages. We seek to find this tiny quirk man in
a large complex pictures and when you do how satisfying it can be. That is if you
can stand the stress to first find him. This large colorful text does not disappoint
in fact there is even more to find as the left page has a flap that can be opened
where you will find a list of more things to find in the picture.
Holden, Henry, The coolest job in the universe : working aboard the
International Space Station, Enslow Publishers, Berkeley Heights, NJ, 2013,
48 pgs., glossary, index,$23.93, ISBN: 978-0-7660-4074-8, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,
Last year one of my teachers was looking for books on careers and to my shame
I didn’t have many to offer. So I latched onto this book as soon as I saw it, it not
only meets the career needs of my school but also the subject of space. If you
are looking for an up to date book this is the one. The text is easy to read and
understand and broaches such subjects as safety in space, the building of the
space station, and living aboard the space station. Since President Obama cut
funding to NASA we have had to catch rides aboard Russian spacecraft and pay
them for doing so. This book touches briefly on this fact but does not go really
deep in discussing why. The color photographs of space and man living on the
space station are very up to date. My favorite color photograph was the one of
Robonaut, a robot that carries out tasks outside the International space station. I
would recommend this book for all public and school libraries.
Landau, Elaine, Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, Enslow Publishers, Berkeley
Heights, NJ. 2012, 48 pgs. glossary, index, $23.93, ISBN:978-0-7660-4035-9,
Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
Due to budget cuts in my school district we have had to close some of our schools four years ago and integrate younger students into our building. We are now a school which houses 4th through 8th grades. At this time I have younger students who want information on different holidays. I was glad to find the
celebrating holiday series that Enslow Publishers now have. The information is clear, precise and easy to follow. There are colored photographs on each page are fact boxes that accompany them that add to the material presented. I have a 4th grader who is waiting to read this book.
Wade, Mary, Deadly waves: tsunamis, Enslow Publishers, Berkeley
Heights, NJ. 2012, 48 pgs. glossary, index, $23.93, ISBN:978-0-7660-4018-2,
Gr. 5+ , P 8, Q 8,
I work in a coastal town where the threat of tsunamis is always a possibility. A
year ago a call woke me up early in the morning with a warning that a tsunami
was headed our way. I was instantly awake and had the television on watching
the devastation to Japan from a tsunami that was the result of an earthquake that
took place right off their shore. We need more books on this subject that clearly
state the dangers of these mighty waves. The history of previous tsunamis and
the devastation that they brought is discussed. We now have a warning system
of deep water sensors, called a DART, that have been placed deep in the oceans
around the world to help to know when a tsunami might occur. There are color
photographs of the tsunamis and also historical black and white photographs
which accompany this text. This is a book that should be placed in all our coastal
city and school libraries.
Williams, Marcia, The elephant’s friend and other tales from ancient India,
illustrations by Marcia Williams. Candlewick Press, Somerville,
Massachusetts, 2012, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-5916-5, Gr.3+, P 8, Q 8,
I love tales from other lands am always looking for new ones to add to my
collection. There are seven included in this book from ancient India that are
retold by the author. The comic-book format is what makes this book so unique in
the retelling of these tales. The panels are bright and colorful and done in
gouache and ink, and add greatly to the whimsical humor of the tales.
Book Reviews by Jo Train
Goldstone, Bruce. Awesome Autumn: All Kinds of Fall Facts and Fun.
2012. 48p. Henry Holt and Company, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9210-3.
Ages 5 and up, P7Q8
This book was a slow start for me. I was disappointed until about page 8. The
beginning of this book reminded me of those small cardboard books that you give
babies to chew on. After page 8 it became more interesting and educational.
The pictures are authentic and the book includes facts from science, math,
holidays and crafts. My eight year olds were not drawn to the front cover, but
once they began to read were hooked into reading the entire book.
Neis, Therese. Extraordinary African-American Poets. 2013. 112p. Enslow
Publishers, Inc., $31.93. ISBN:978-1-59845-139-9. Ages 10 and up, P7Q8
This would be a great resource to have in the poetry section of your library.
There are eight African-American poets covered in this book. Each poet has a
short section about who they are, a timeline of their works, a picture, and short
excerpts of their poetry. I would like to have seen more excerpts of their poetry
or a full poem that they had written. The back of the book does include a
glossary and further reading.
Eldridge, Alison and Stephen. The Statue of Liberty: An American Symbol.
2012. 24p. Enslow Publishers, Inc., $21.26. ISBN: 978-0-7660-4061-8.
Ages 4 and up, P6Q7
It is great to see a book at this reading level that is non-fiction. This book would
be great to have in a preschool or kindergarten classroom. The choice of picture
on page 8 and 9 are different from the rest of the book and I would have liked to
see a better picture for these pages.
Lewis, J. Patrick. Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems. 2012. 37p. Harcourt Children’s Books, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-547-51338-6. Ages 6 and up, P8Q8
Love to find a book that connects math with literacy. Loved the artwork in this book and the prose about the poets in the back of the book. I would have liked to see the actual poems in the back of the book, like in Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog. This book would be great to use in a poetry unit or a link to use in math literacy.
Harvey, Matthea and Potter, Giselle. Cecil the Pet Glacier. 2012. 31p. Schwartz and Wade Books, $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-86773-6. Ages 5 and up, P8Q7
Ruby Small is normal, but has extraordinary parents. Her dad is a topiary gardener and her mother is a tiara designer. Ruby wants a pet and while on vacation in Norway reluctantly acquires a pet glacier. This book can be described as “Curiouser and curiouser.” This book is a bizarre tale of a little girl, who in the end accepts the glacier as her pet. I thought that this book would be a tied to climate change or global warming. In reading this book I found that glaciers break apart when they get too big and start a process called “calving.” Basically they make baby glaciers. “Curiouser and curiouser.”
Hennessy, B.G. The Scary Places Map Book: Seven Terrifying Tours. 2012. 32p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4541-0. Ages 8 and up, P9Q9
You will want to read this book more than once. This book creates a fun way to learn how to read maps and follow directions, while reading about ghosts, monsters, zombies, and more. What third grader wouldn’t want to read this book!
Hodgkinson, Leigh. Goldilocks and Just One Bear. 2012. 32p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6172-4. Ages 5 and up, P8Q8
Ever wonder what happened after Goldilocks runs back home? In this story, baby bear is all grown-up and pays a visit to Goldilocks. The boys thought that this book was a fun read. Loved reading the pictures and laughed at the references to other fairy tales. This would be great to use in a classroom along with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and have the student pick their favorite story and come up with a different ending, a prequel, or a sequel to their story.
Freeman, Tor. Olive and the Big Secret. 2012. 28p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6149-6. Ages 4 and up, P7Q8
This book would be great to use in a class meeting that discussed telling secrets, teasing, and boy/girl issues. With my kids we discussed what it is like when you trust someone with a secret and they break your trust. This is a hard lesson to learn and one that should be discussed with children.
Stein, David Ezra. Because Amelia Smiled. 2012. 40p. Candlewick Press, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4169-6. Ages 5 and up, P6Q7
The chain reaction of Amelia’s smile is shown in this book. The boys described this book perfectly, “A good book, but rather long.” A five year old may get lost in the story and forget the beginning by the time they get to the end.
Marino, Gianna. Meet Me at the Moon. 2012. 36p. Penguin Group, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-670-01313-5. Ages 3 and up, P9Q9
This sweet story is about a mama elephant and her baby that have to be separated, but find each other in the end. The author is also the illustrator and her art is beautifully done. This would be the perfect book for a read aloud to a little loved one.
Roy, Ron. August Acrobat. [Calendar Mysteries series] 2012. 72p. Random House, $4.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-86886-3. Grade 2, P7Q7.
This simple story is about first graders solving an acrobatic mystery. First time chapter book readers will enjoy this book, but those that have mastered the ability to read beyond 100 pages will have a hard time connecting with this story. This would be a great book for students to read that want to start reading chapter books. The chapters are short, the book isn’t too long, and first timers would feel successful at the end.
Roy, Ron. July Jitters. [Calendar Mysteries series] 2012. 71p. Random House, $4.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-86882-5. Grade 2, P7Q7.
This is also a book of the Calendar Mysteries. Twin brothers Brad and Brian, along with their friends Nate and Lucy decide to enter their pets into the Fourth of July contest. Winners get to be mayor for the day. Unfortunately their pets have other ideas and run away before the contest begins. This is another great book for beginning chapter readers to read.
Donbavand, Tommy. Scream Street: Attack of the Trolls. [series] 2010. 115p. Candlewick Press, $5.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5740-4. Ages 8-10, P8Q8.
In this eighth edition of Scream Street, Cleo, Luke, and Resus must return the six relics to shut the portal to the mortal world. The mortals are beginning to tour Scream Street and making it impossible for the residents to live a somewhat normal life. The three friends bravely return a vampires fang and battle trolls. This book has everything that a monster lover would like in a book. Boys and girls will love this series and begin to collect the trading cards.
Cody, Matthew. The Dead Gentleman. 2012. 280p. Alfred A. Knopf, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-85596-2. Ages 10 and up, P9Q9
“The closet in the dark room—there are monsters in there. The reason you’re afraid to let your arm dangle when you’re sleeping is because things are waiting under the bed for you. The space under the stairs is bigger than the space above it and people do disappear there.” I read this passage at night, when the wind was blowing and my house was creaking. Augh! I don’t like scary books, but I loved this book! Tommy has a gift, he can see through the veil, he can see the creatures in the dark, and he is the last explorer. Unfortunately he also ticked off the Dead Gentleman and has to outwit him to save the world. The author left an opening at the end and this will certainly become a new series. A must have
book for any Library.
Ylvisaker, Anne. The Luck of the Buttons. [sequel to come] 2011. 224p. Candlewick Press, $6.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6061-1. Ages 8-12, P7Q8
Penderwicks beware the Buttons have arrived. This story has elements of the Penderwicks series, but with more substance. Set in 1929, the Buttons are the unluckiest family you will meet, but Tugs wants to change her luck. She wants to be someone, have friends, and have the town respect her and her family. I
already know which student I will pass this book onto in my classroom.
Umansky, Kaye. Clover Twig and the Perilous Path. [series] 2012. Roaring Brook Press, $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-59643-754-8. Ages 8 and up, P9Q9
The second book of this series finds Clover Twig having to take the Perilous Path to save her little brother Herby. With the help of her employer (a messy witch) and a friend, Clover finds friendship and courage along the way. This book is an easy read and a great series for those that might like books with a little magic and a lot of fun.
Kendall, Jane. Horse Diaries: Tennessee Rose. [series] 2012. 139p. Random House, $6.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-87006-4. Ages 8 and up, P7Q8
This book is set in the Civil War and is written with the horse’s point of view. Tennessee Rose is a horse that falls in love with the slave that takes care or her and realizes that her life is better than his. The two escape are able to escape when they are both sent to war and her owner is killed. I wasn’t sure that I would like this book, but knew that I have students that love this series. I was surprised that I liked it. Tennessee Rose has just enough history in it to make it enjoyable. There is even an appendix in the back that gives you background information on the Tennessee Walking Horse and the Civil War.
Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack. [series] 2012, 294p. Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-375-87052-1. Ages 10 and up, P7Q7
“The way he believed that one person could change things by standing up, standing tall. Maybe that wasn’t an actual superpower, but the way he put his whole heart and soul into it? It was powerful.” Martina has a superhero, Justice Jack. Justice Jack fights crime and wants Sammy to be his sidekick. Sammy at first thinks Jack lame with his spandex, mask, and dirt bike, but in the end realizes what he stands for is what the town of Martina needs.
Weiner, Ellis. The Templeton Twins Have an Idea. [series] Chronicle Books. $16.99, 227p. ISBN: 978-0-8118-6679-8. Grades 4 and up, P9Q8
If I were scoring this book on a writing-scoring guide, the book would get a 5 out of 6. Why not a 6? At times there was too much voice. The narrator in this book is constantly interrupting the story with questions for the audience and other nonsense. In the book, You Can’t Have My Planet: But Take My Brother, Please the narrator also does this, but in the Templeton Twins Have an Idea it works. His interruptions are appropriate and not condescending. Overall, this book will be fought over in my classroom.
Kimmel, Eric A. Hiss-s-s-s! 2012. 151p. Holiday House, $16.95. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2415-3. Ages 10 and up, P8Q8.
The one thing that I don’t like about this book is the cover. I think that they could have designed a more inviting cover. I will have to convince my students that it is a great book and to not judge the cover. This book is set in Oregon and written by an author who lives in Portland, Oregon. Omar wants a snake, but his mother is extremely afraid of snakes. Omar doesn’t really understand his mother’s fear, until his snake escapes from his habitat. In the end Omar learns about fear, “Fear doesn’t have to make sense…it’s like catching a disease. One tiny microbe enters your system. It grows and multiples until it takes over your body.”
Holt, Kimberly Willis. Piper Reed Forever Friend. [series] 2012, 152 p. Henry Holt and Company, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9008-6. Ages 8 and up, P7Q7
Piper Reed is a Navy Brat and in the 6th grade. Her family has to move again and she has to leave behind her Gypsy Club members. I would recommend this book to my reluctant readers and then have them move on to a book that has more substance. The themes in this book are change, being the new kid, and forming new relationships.
Everett, J.H. and Scott-Waters, Marilyn. Haunted Histories: Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons, and Powerful Palaces. 2012, 160 p. Henry Holt and Company, $14.99. ISBN: 978-0-8050-8971-4. Ages 9 and up, P9Q8
My sons were immediately drawn to this book. Exploring haunted castles while learning about the history, people, and vocabulary of castles and palaces. Virgil, still a boy, is the youngest Master Ghostorian in London and is your guide throughout the book. I was hoping for a few more interviews with London’s ghosts, but overall a great read.
Book Reviews by V.M.
Horton, Joan, Illustrated by Kozjan, Drazen, Working Mummies, FSG, 2012, no page numbers, $12.99, ISBN:978-0-374-38524-8, 3-5
The illustrations are colorful; it would be a good book to read aloud to a classroom, my little cousins enjoyed it. Shows all of the different jobs that a mummy can have, some mummies work at pet stores, as manicurist, doctors, waitress, writer and so on. In the end it doesn’t matter where the mummies work
they can’t wait to get home and hug their boys and ghouls. I thought it was cute. P7Q8
Corderoy, Tracey, Illustrated by Berger, Joe, Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble, Nosy Crow, no page numbers, $14.99, ISBN:978-0-7636-5904-2, 2-4
Illustrations are done in pen, brush-pen and digital. This book would be good to read out loud to a class and it would teach kids that it is alright to be different. This little girl thinks her granny is a little strange because of the way she dresses, the way she cooks. She tries to change her granny to make her look normal. In the end she realizes that her granny is perfect just the way she is. P7Q7
Koertge , Ron, Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses. Illustrated by Dezso Andrea, Candlewick Press, 2012, 87 pgs. $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-7636-4406-2. 14-18.
The illustrations are digital and are black and white and look a little 3D because of the shadows behind the dark figures/creatures. There are different fairy tales like Thumbelina, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstilskin, but there are twists to the stories. They are not the same fairy tales that you read when you were little. I liked it and it was a fast read. P8Q8
McDaniel, Lurlene, Red Heart Tattoo, Delacorte Press, 2012, 216 pgs. $15.99, ISBN: 978-0-385-73462-2, 16-18.
The book is told in five different perspectives from each character about before, during and after a bomb is set off at Edison High school. After the bomb is set off nine people are dead, fifteen are critically injured, twenty-two have less severe injuries and one is left blind. In this book the main character Morgan Frierson is the one left blind and a secret is kept from her. She is left blind because she was
facing the explosion but it is only temporary for a couple of weeks so her eyes can heal. When the weeks are over and her bandages are removed she is still blind but that is because her mind is keeping her blind to cope with such traumatic events. Her vision finally returns when she is at a store with a friend and she is getting a soda and someone gets her one but before the person hands her it the person shakes it up; when Morgan opens it, the soda explodes in her face and she remembers the traumatic scene that left her blind. As I was reading this book it made me cry and I couldn’t put the book down and I finished it in three days. This book makes you think about life and that anything can happen. . P8Q8
Lyon, George Ella, Holding on to Zoe, FSG, 2012, 166 pgs. $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-374-33264-8, 15-18.
Jules is a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant and her boyfriend is there for her but ends up leaving her. She thinks she can raise the baby on her own with no one’s help. Something happens and she ends up losing the baby, but she thinks she still has the baby. In reality it is in just her mind and her friends and family keep trying to tell her but she doesn’t listen. This book moved too slowly and I didn’t
really like it, P6Q7
Book Reviews by C.S.‐ Siletz Public Library
Bowen, Anne. Abby Carter, ill. Scooter in the Outside. Holiday House, 2012. $16.95. ISBN 9780823423262. Unp. Ages 4-6. P8Q8.
Scooter is an energetic dog who loves to go for walks with Lucy. He’d like to walk further than she will let him, though. One day, Scooter ventures out on his own. At first it’s very fun and exciting, but soon Scooter is afraid. Children will identify with the feelings Scooter experiences: impatience, joy, fear of the unknown. The illustrations are colorful and lively, and the text is scattered with sound words that will have kids in a story time session “reading” along.
Freedman, Claire. Ben Cort, ill. Aliens in Underpants Save the World. Aladdin, 2009. $15.99. ISBN 9781442427686. Unp. Ages 4+. P9Q9
Like the previous Aliens in Underpants books, this one is hilarious. The 4 line rhymes tell the story of the underpants-wearing aliens’ successful mission to save the earth from a huge meteorite by sewing together many pairs of underpants. The illustrations are really colorful and funny, and the rhyming text is easy for the reader. As I expected, my story time group loved this book.
Lester, Helen. Lynn Munsinger, ill. All for Me and None for All. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. ISBN 9780547688343. Unp. Ages 4+. P9Q9
Gruntly is a greedy pig- he hogs all the toys, treats, and anything else he wants from his friends. He eventually learns to share after seeing the good example his friends set. The illustrations are cute and very funny. The kids at story time really found this story entertaining, and it has a good life lesson in it.
Wilson, Karma. Jim McMullan, ill. Horseplay! Hachette Book Group, 2012. ISBN 9780316938426. Unp. Ages 4+. P9Q9.
This lively book tells the story of Farmer and his rowdy horses. They play all night and they’re exhausted during the day so he tries to make them rest. The illustrations are wonderfully funny (I love the picture of the horses, locked in the barn, playing poker and eating seven-layer dip) and the story is told in rhyme. I’m guessing this book will become a favorite at the library.
Cowley, Joy. Gavin Bishop, ill. Friends: Snake and Lizard. Gecko Press, 2011 (first American Edition). $16.95. ISBN 9781877579011. 126 pgs. Ages 7-10. P8Q9.
I really enjoyed this book of short stories about Snake and Lizard and their business of “helping” other animals. The stories, most of which deal with issues of friendship and some big questions in life, have a moral to them, but they aren’t preachy. They can be read alone but do have a common thread that connects them. There is a nice sense of humor underlying many of the stories and pretty watercolor (?) illustrations. My favorite line from the book is when Snake asks, “Is this story? Or is it true?” Lizard
answers, “It’s both, one hundred percent.” I think children who have to work hard at reading will find this book easy to work through and also entertaining. It could also work well as a readaloud.
Alexander, Rosie (editor). Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Special Edition 2012. Ripley Publishing, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780545329750. 144 pgs. Ages 8+. P9Q8
Like the regular annual editions of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, this book is packed with interesting, strange and grotesque information. Kids will love it for the weird factor alone. There are lots of pictures and very short informative passages. The cover has a holographic type picture on it, and the pages are glossy and feel a bit flimsy for heavy use. I’m sure this will be a popular item in the kids’ room at my library.
Murrie, Steve & Murrie, Matthew. Tom Bloom, ill. Every Day on Earth: Fun Facts that Happen Every 24 Hours. Scholastic, 2011. $9.99. ISBN 9780545297066. 224 pgs. Ages 8+. P8Q8.
Kids will be really interested in the wide variety of facts in this book (more than 200 different topics). It’s broken into chapters like “Living Things”, “Earth”, “Technology”, and “The Human Body”. Each page has a short explanation of something interesting- there’s trivia on how many steps an average person takes in a day, how many taste buds you have in your mouth and how often they’re replaced, how much data a Blue-ray disc can store in comparison to a standard DVD (and what Blu-ray means), etc. I like the way numbers are converted in the book- when the authors tell us that GPS satellites orbit about 12,500 miles above the earth, we also learn that that is equivalent to 20,200 kilometers. The book is full of science and math, but the delivery is fun and random like a book of trivia. I expect this
to be a popular checkout choice among kids at my public library.
Reviews by Nel Ward
Christensen, Bonnie. I, Galileo. 2012. unp. Knopf, $17.99. 978-0-375-86753-8. Ages 6-9: As a blind old man, imprisoned in his home because his accurate scientific theories didn’t match those of the Catholic Church, Galileo Galilei tells about his childhood in Pisa, Italy. Despite the fact that Galileo lived four centuries ago, his personal issues are the same as those of children today–bored with school and frustrated by his father’s expectations. Woodcut-like oil paintings with bold lines and jewel tones reminiscent of stained-glass windows mixed with representative drawings of early scientific instruments,
diagrams, and other images show the man that Albert Einstein described as “the father of modern science.” Young readers will be fascinated by a time when people believed that the heavenly bodies revolved around the Earth; a timeline lists Galileo’s inventions, experiments, and discoveries. Galileo’s
discovery that the sun forms the center of our universe led him to be tried for heresy and censured by the Catholic Church. This censure has never been lifted. An appealing story that shows the passion and curiosity necessary for scientific progress. P8Q9
Harris, Robie H. Who’s in My Family? All about Our Families. Il. by Nadine Bernard Westcott. 2012. unp. Candlewick, $15.99. 978-0-7636-3631-9. Ages 3-6: Narrators Nellie and Gus, siblings from the author’s Who Has What?, experience a large variety of families, both human and animals at the zoo, during a day that is topped off by a dinner with friends and relatives in their home. Charming illustrations show only the positive pieces of families with an almost 1950s television view. Harris describes similarities and differences in what people in families eat, what they look like, and how they
behave. The attempt to be positive sometimes becomes cloying, the narrators’ language is not realistic, and the alternative families such as those with foster and grandparent parents receives short shrift. This book makes a nice addition if a library needs a large collection of books about families. P7Q6
Hobbie, Holly. Gem. 2012. unp. Little, $16.99. 978-0-316-20334-0. Ages 3-7:
Well-known nature watercolorist has produced a gentle, detailed wordless story in greens and yellows about the wonders of spring as a toad rambles across a variety of adventures, perils, and environments: a muddy road outside a farmhouse, a lovely garden, and the lily pads in a pond. The pen-and-ink drawings with watercolors also show the toad’s perspective. Hobbie introduces the book with Gram’s letter to Hope, explaining the inspiration for “the story of Gem’s spring journey” and finishes the girl’s response to her grandmother. Hope’s note of thanks gives a valuable message explaining the importance of freedom for the toad: “They want to be free, like everything does.” The book is truly a “gem.” P9Q9
Montgomery, Sy. Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. 2012. 148p. Houghton, $17.99. 978-0-547-44315-7. Ages 10-14: Biographies that go beyond what an Internet article can provide are precious, and Montgomery’s take of this autistic woman is truly special. Adult readers may be familiar with Grandin because of her autobiographies: Thinking in Pictures tells about her life and accomplishments, and Animals in Translation explains their behavior through her experiences with autism. Montgomery has skillfully taken articles, books, web sources, and interviews with Grandin to explain how she overcame what her father described in the 1950s as “retarded,” becoming an international authority in humane treatment of animals used for food. In addition to being a fascinating read, the book can also help young people to understand how others may think differently and suffer because of these differences. One young reviewer wrote about how she, like Grandin, has to deal with sensory overload problems. The book shows also how Grandin sees her autism as a challenge and a gift. Each one of the 13 chapters includes short informational sections, for example “Thinking differently: Changing Views of Brain Differences” and “Factory Farming by the Numbers.” Grandin also shares her wisdom about autism in an appendix, “Temple’s Advice for Kids on the
Spectrum,” and diagrams and photographs help depict her early life, work, and career. Montgomery has also provided an excellent list of resources on both animal welfare and autism. Readers enjoying this book might also want to see the 2006 movie The Woman Who Thinks like a Cow. P8Q9
O’Reilly, Bill. Lincoln’s Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever. Adapt. Dwight Jon Zimmerman. 2012. 316p. Holt, $19.99. 978-0-8050-9675-0. Ages 14-16: Taken from O’Reilly’s book for adults, this covers Civil War battles during the six weeks before Booth killed the U.S. president in 1865, the actual murder, the pursuit of the conspirators, and the hanging of four of them, including one woman. The strongest part of the book is the plethora of photographs, both connected to the assassination and to objects and buildings during that time period. The weakest part was the misinformation including references to the Oval Office (which was not built until 1909); the omission of meetings between U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee (the book says that they met only once when Lee surrendered), and a conspiracy theory that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was involved in the assassination plot so that he could be president (when it has been disproved). Known for his television program, O’Reilly is known for stretching the truth to suit himself. Unfortunately, too, most adaptations of adult books for young readers are weaker than those written specifically for the age group. P5Q5
Schubert, Leda. Monsieur Marceau. Il. by Gerard Dubois. 2012. unp. Roaring Brook, $17.99.978-1-59643-529-2. Ages 4-7: Many people are familiar with the famous mime, Marcel Marceau, but far fewer know his background as a Jewish war hero with the French Resistance during World War II. Spare, dramatic language and fluidly-nuanced oil paintings briefly describe his life from his early imitations of silent film star Charlie Chaplin followed by his creation of Bip, Marceau’s alter ego with white makeup and red carnation, in the late 1940s. The expanses of white pages alternating with black ones provide a superb background for the mime’s magical movements. Like Marceau, the book is short on words and strong on feelings. P9Q9
Hills, Tad. Rocket Writes a Story. 2012. unp. Schwartz & Wade, $17.99. 978-0-375-87086-6. Ages 4-8: Those who enjoyed the author’s How Rocket Learned to Read will take joy in this sequel; readers unfamiliar with the first book will definite seek out the book after delighting in this gently humorous
tale about the Wheaton terrier. Young readers who love to collect words will identify with Rocket who brings slips of paper with words like “buttercup” and “feather” back to his little yellow bird friend who provides connecting terms that they spread all over a tree. As the bird says about “up,” which she holds
in her wing, “This one is small, but I promise it’ll come in handy.” Collecting words is only half the story, however; the other half is the way that Rocket makes friends with a timid owl who creeps little by little down to sit beside Rocket as the dog makes up a story about her. The black-and-white puppy
makes a perfect foil for the yellow bird and the brown owl, characters set against bright illustrations from oil paints and colored pencil. Between the themes of friendship, patience, acceptance, and the process of writing a story is a book that will surely get the same rave reviews that Rocket’s story does.
The beauty of the book is how much Tad Hills seems to love his subjects. P9Q9
Manning, Maurie J. Laundry Day. 2012. unp. Clarion, $16.99. 978-1-547-24196-8. Ages 4-8: During the early twentieth century, a shoeshine boy tries to find the owner of a bright-red scarf, a search that takes him throughout Lower Manhattan where he meets a number of ethnic groups: Chinese, African-American, Ukrainian, Italian, Polish, Irish, Jewish and Caribbean Island immigrants. The boy, dejected until he finds the scarf, fearlessly proceeds up and down throughout the kind individuals, climbing fire escapes, walking across clothes lines, and shimmying up and down pipes in detailed digital pencil, watercolor, and pastel drawings. Cartoon balloons in a graphic narrative style provide terms indigenous to each culture as the boy does small, simple services for each person and earns simple things and advice
from each of them. P8Q8
Patel, Sanjay. Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth. Il. by Emily Haynes. 2012. unp. Chronicle, $16.99. 978-1-4521-0362-4. In this twisted version of how Ganesha wrote the Mahabharate, the epic poem of Hindu literature, the protagonist is like any other child except for his elephant head and his ride on a magical mouse. His love for sweets causes him to break off a tusk after biting into a huge jawbreaker. Highly distressed about his loss, the wise poet Vyasa helps him by asking him to use the tusk to transcribe the very, very long poem. Brilliant colors set in Adobe Illustrator graphics present a new and humorous version of a classic tale. The author’s note includes the original story of Ganesha. P8Q9
Reynolds, Peter H. Sky Color. 2012. unp. Candlewick, $14.00. 978-0-7636-2345-6. Ages 3-6: The creator of The Dot and Ish has created a character who must paint the sky in the library mural without the color blue because she doesn’t have that color of pain. Marisol lives in a world with such muted colors that the illustrations seem almost sepia, but she dreams of a different sky, “swirling with colors.” Through her dreams, she expands on her self-expression, a journey beyond set rules to the ending with a two-page spread of the mural and the admiring multi-cultural children. A delightful read-aloud
with minimal text that can be enjoyed over and over. P9Q9
Zalben, Jane Breskin. Mousterpiece: A Mouse-sized Guide to Modern Art. 2012. unp. Roaring Brook, $16.99. 978-1-59643-549-0. Ages 5-8: The adventures of Janson, a mouse who lives in an art museum, shows the wide variety of modern paintings throughout the last century. Named after art historian H.W. Janson, the little creature replicates, in her own style of parody, art from Braque, Matisse, Warhol, Pollack, and many more. When the paintings are removed from a room in the museum to renovate the wing, she hangs her paintings on the wall and becomes acclaimed for her artistry, especially after she creates a painting in her own personal style. A wonderful book that not only shows the diversity of modern art but also the importance of striking out on one’s own. P8Q9
Hatke, Ben. Legends of Zita the Space Girl. 2012. 209p. First Second, $12.99. 978-1-599643-447-9. Ages 9-12: In this sequel to Zita the Space Girl, the lovable protagonist, after becoming famous, gets into trouble when she becomes famous lets a look-alike robot do her PR work. The confusion ends
up in another interplanetary adventure to save another doomed planet as Zita suddenly becomes outlaw instead of hero. Their adventures teach Zita and the “bot” to learn how to work together as they rescue Lumponians from the deadly Star Hearts that could destroy the entire planet before moving on to the next one. Hatke’s action-paced illustrations filled with light and shadows mixed with his depictions of Zita’s bravery make the adventure impossible to put down. Piper and Zita’s other friends from the first book are still around as Zita is determined to find her way home to Earth. One of the best parts of Zita
is her loyalty and humility: she keeps denying that she is a hero and claims to be ordinary. A great model! P8Q8
Hayes, Geoffrey. Benny and Penny in Lights Out! 2012. 31p. Toon/Candlewick, $12.95. 978-1-935179-20-7. Ages 5-7: In the fourth Benny and Penny book, Benny insists on going out in the dark to get his pirate hat from their playhouse, and Penny has to rescue him. As in the other books of the series, the story is sweet and the cartoons action-packed as they worry about fearsome monsters and meet a scary bug. Although the book shows an excellent view of childhood fear, the gender stereotyping is
annoying: Penny is a goody-goody in pink who doesn’t want to break rules and likes to read; Benny is loud and disobedient, demanding attention. P8Q6
Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse for President. 2012. 89p. Random House, $7.99. 978-0-375-86780-5. Ages 6-8: “I believe that being President isn’t about being in charge. It’s about being the voice of the people. Just because we’re kids, it doesn’t mean we don’t have real concerns.” This statement is part of Babymouse’s concluding speech after her election for school president after a disastrous campaign. The format is like the first 15 books in the series: glorious, imaginary scenes in pink followed by interruptions as the protagonist heads toward certain failure. Although I have loved every one of the cartoon books about the mouse with the messy whiskers, this one deserves special attention because of its satire on the current election. Babymouse promises anything to get votes, the collection of candidates even includes her own locker, she has to promise voters rewards for their support, and her campaign made her lose her soul. This is a teachable book about what lengths candidates will go to in order to get
elected, a great lesson on popularity and principles told with fun. P9Q9
Holm, Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm. Squish: Captain Disaster. [Squish #4] 2012. 91p. Random House, $6.99. 978-0-375-84392-1. Ages 7-10: Comic book fan and grade school amoeba Squish becomes captain of The Water Fleas, a soccer team, thanks to his ever cheerful friend paramecium Peggy. First his favorite superhero, Captain Diatom, gives him help in vanquishing the other teams and then guides him to the understanding that winning isn’t everything when teammates don’t get a chance to score. The traditional green and white theme has added yellow, but the superhero sequences are
still gray and white. As ever, funny and insightful with a touch of science education and understanding of school bullies and other problems. P9Q9
Jablonski, Carla. Victory: Resistance Book 3. Il. by Leland Purvis. 2012. 124p. First Second, $17.99. 978-1-59643-293-2. Ages 8-12: This last graphic narrative in the Resistance trilogy shows the conclusion of World War II. Siblings Sylvie, Paul, and Marie Tessier risk their lives as the Allied Forces
move to take France from the Nazis, this time going from the French countryside into Paris when Paul takes important maps to the leaders of the resistance and then rescues his friend, Henri, from the enemy. Sylvie continues to endure her reputation as a Nazi sympathizer while collecting information, and the youngest, Marie, comes into her own when she rescues a wounded flier. Family relationships are also highlighted as each of the young people, their mother, and their aunt use different coping skills to
survive the war. The graphic novel is not only an exciting war-time adventure but also a look at history little known by young people in this country, providing education through excitement and adventure generated through the darkness of the illustrations. P7Q8
Krosoczka, Jarrett J. Lunch Lady and the Picture Day Peril. [Lunch Lady #8] 2012. Random House, $6.99. 978-0-375-87-35-4. Ages 7-10: Zits plague almost all the kids at Thompson Brook on Picture Day, and the photographer makes money charging each one $15 for touching up their photos. The plot thickens when the unlikable school council president embezzles money so that the photographer will make her a model. Lunch Lady has new tricks up her sleeve, such as the MacGyver scene where she
foils a booby-trapped elevator with doctored ketchup, a mustard grappling hook, a serving spoon crowbar, and a chicken nugget bomb. Lunch Lady varies from some of the other popular graphic narrative series in that adults get involved in solving the plot and sometimes rescuing the kids, but it has the same fast-paced, quirky plotting. P9Q9
Mead, Richelle. Frostbite. Adapt. by Leigh Dragoon; il. by Emma Vieceli. [Vampire Academy] Razorbill, $12.99. 978-1-59514-430-0. Ages 13-16:
Romance and thrills mix in the sequel to Vampire Academy, adapted from the original novel. The first book sets the scene with different races of vampires in Montana: the alive, magical Moroi; the undead, evil Strigoi, and the halfhuman, half-Moroi Dhampir. The first few pages of the graphic narrative
provide the background and set the scene before heading into the vampire attack assisted by humans. Vivid, action-packed illustrations identifying the different kinds of vampires by skin tone and the depictions of gorgeous young women and hunky teenage boys add to the fast-paced plot, and readers will delight in the return of best friends Dhampir Rose and the royal Moroi Lissa. Joining the cast are Janine Hathaway, Rose’s mother; Adrian Ivashkov, Lissa’s cousin; and Tasha Ozera, Christian’s aunt. Those who read the original book may be disappointed because of lack of details, but it also makes a great stand-alone for vampire book-lovers. P9Q8
Modan, Rutu. Maya Makes a Mess. 2012. 32p. Toon/Candlewick, $12.95. 978-1-935179-17-7. Ages 5-7: Using the queen as a reason to use good table manners doesn’t work on Maya when this graphic fantasy shows the queen inviting Maya to dinner. Instead of modeling her behavior on the queen’s company, she asks for spaghetti and ketchup, eating the mixture with her hands. The colorful images show the queen patterning her manners after those of Maya and thoroughly enjoying herself. The Eisner-winning cartoonist fills her humorous colorful images with imaginative details such as the queen’s Corgi dogs and Maya’s mismatched socks. Some say that the message is not changing who you are, but another answer might be that it is pretty silly to have good manners only because you might eat with the queen. P9Q8
Nytra, David. The Secret of the Stone Frog. 2012. 80p. Toon/Candlewick, $14.95. 978-1-935179-18-4. Ages 6-9: Exquisite, finely-drawn black and white illustrations with minimal verbal language depict Leah and her younger brother, Alan, as they search for their way home from the woods where they
have been magically taken from their beds and shrunk into thumb-sized people. Told by the stone frogs they encounter to stay on the path, they find distractions that change their directions: a Bee Lady angered by their hurting a bee; the lions dressed in 18th-century style, giant rabbits that give them a
ride, and a train ride inhabited by sea life wearing Victorian garb. In the finale, they race on reptilian streets surrounded by monster buildings with glowering faces before they are magically moved back into their bedroom. The feel is of Alice in Wonderland, and the result is a land of beauty despite the danger.
This is a special book for special young readers. P6Q9
Petty, JT. Bloody Chester. Il. by Hilary Florido. 2012. 143p. First Second, $18.99. 978-1-59643-100-3. Ages 10-14: A cross between horror and the Old West in this graphic novel shows the real thing, complete with disease, filth, murderers, and treachery. Hired to ride into a ghost town and burn it down
because it is infested with a plague, Chester finds much more than he bargained for. Three people still live there–a priest who is supposedly ill, a young boy who cares for the priest, and a girl whose father lives up in the hills and shoots at Chester. Revenge and hatred of Native Americans are the controllers, and adventure is the name of the game. The plotting is as dark as some of the illustrations, the language can be somewhat graphic, and the ending is tragic. The creativity of both narrative and art plus the message that evil can result in a plague makes this graphic novel a classic. P7Q9
Poe, Edgar Allen. Dark Graphic Tales by EdgarAllen Poe. [Dark Graphic Novels Series] Adapt. by Denise Despeyroux; il. by Miquel Serratosa. 2012. 96p. Enslow, $30.60. 978-0-7660-4086-1. Ages 11-15: “The Gold Bug,” “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher” are Poe’s grotesque short stories chosen from this graphic adaptation. As a graphic narrative, the book has two problems. One is that Poe’s rich language may be difficult for many readers in this format,
especially because the words are set in all capitals. The second issue is the bizarre faces on the figures: with the flat faces and chubby cheeks, the characters all look like those apple figures that are left to wither into wrinkled beings. P4Q4
TenNapel, Doug. Cardboard. 2012. 285p. Graphix/Scholastic, $12.99. 978-0-545-41873-7. Ages 10-14: The creator of Ghostopolis and Bad Island has returned with another horror tale that begins very simply with an unemployed father who can only afford to buy an empty cardboard box for his son’s birthday. After Dad and Cam make a heroic figure out of the cardboard, the neighborhood bully steals the remainder of the cardboard and fashions terrifying creatures that take over his life. TenNapel addresses several issues before and after the adventure: unemployment resulting from the downturn of the construction industry, Cam’s loss of his mother, a jealous bully and his dysfunctional family, the father’s inability to think about another intimate relationship despite his neighbor’s attempts to attract him, and the struggle to go from “bad” to “good.” Although a bit preachy at times, the excitement will attract readers, and the illustrations are brilliantly executed. P8Q8
Yakin, Boaz. Marathon. Il. Joe Infurnari. 2012. 187p. First Second, $16.99. 978-1-59643-680-0. Ages 12-15: Many people know the legend of the messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens, about 25 miles, to announce the victory of Athens and Sparta over Persia, thus protecting the rise of Western civilization. Yakin gives the background, using a runner named Eucles who ran 153 miles from Athens to Sparta to ask for help in stopping the Persians and then ran back to Marathon before his famous run to Athens. The sepia washed artwork of the graphic narrative appears jagged, almost like sketches, in its attempt to give the excitement and movement of the story. Unfortunately, this effect makes the characters difficult to distinguish from one another. The stereotypes of the characters, including tyrant Hippias who killed Eucles’ parents, takes away from the plotting. The attempt to give a feeling of
combat with “KLAK” and “CHK” also falls short. The novel is easier to read for those who know the background; a little research would benefit the confused reader. P5Q5
Coats, J. Anderson. The Wicked and the Just. 2012. 344p. Harcourt, $16.99. 978-0-547-68837-4. Ages 12+: Two girls in the late 1200s, one English and the other Welsh, each give her personal view of the abuse of the Welsh after the English decide to take over their area. Furious over having to leave
England after her father loses his estate to his older brother and moves to take an estate in Wales, Cecily hates everything about her new primitive home, especially the servant girl Gwinny. On the other hand, Gwinny’s hatred is all focused at the English, including Cecily, because they took her home and
forced her into extreme poverty and servitude while killing her father and endangering her brothers. Reminiscent of Karen Cushman, this debut novel goes farther other the edge with Cecily’s high degree of bigotry and Grinny’s fierce opposition. The violence is graphic; the characterization sophisticated,
especially in its subtlely; and the ending less than satisfactory for anyone who wants a conclusion with a nice little bow. The girls’ two voices are remarkably distinct, and their interactions are riveting. The depiction of the history is brilliant and the writing compelling; the reader can taste the moldy bread with
a bloody fingerprint and feel the mud beneath Cecily’s feet. P7Q9
Lo, Malinda. Adaptation. 2012. 386p. Little, $17.99. 978-0-316-19796-0. Ages 13+: Formulaic science fiction, fast-paced plot, and a bisexual protagonist set the tone for this futuristic dilemma of birds falling from the sky, causing disastrous plane crashes. The plot begins with two young people, Reese and
David, trying to get home to San Francisco with their school debate coach after the nationals in Arizona. The terror accelerates as the coach is shot during an attempted car mugging and Reese finds herself waking up 27 days after the accident, unable to remember anything. Once home, Reese finds herself miraculously healed and developing a crush on another girl, Amber, in a city with a curfew and hazmat teams’ collecting dead birds. Facing a global emergency, the adventure escalates with espionage, surveillance of Reese and David, and a capture that keeps the two of them in danger. The book sometimes seems long: the first half sets the scene and then moves into a slower-paced momentum that lacks the earlier tension. The last few pages quickly tie up the plot in an unrealistic manner but leave an open ending, possibly for a sequel. Characterization is also uneven with Reese well-developed and David and Reese’s mother more of cardboard figures. There’s also not much about any character’s past. Dialog is right-on, and Reese is appealing, especially in her relationship with Amber. For those who like sci-fi and alternate love stories, this will be a good read. P7Q7
Mobley, Jeannie. Katerina’s Wish. 2012. 246p. McElderry, $15.99. 978-1-4424-3343-4. Ages 8-12: Dreams and a bit of fantasy guide 13-year-old Katerina’s life after her family comes to the coal mines of southern Colorado from Bohemia in the late 1800s so that her father can earn enough money to buy a farm. They face the usual problems of the company store cheating them, no unionizing, and lack of safety regulations, but the maybe-magical carp shows Katerina directions to make money for the family. Despite the dastardly plans of the hostile store owner to destroy Katerina’s desires when Katerina arranges for cheaper prices from out of town, she stands up for her rights and brings the community together. The protagonist has a great voice, and the author has done her research on life in a mining town, resulting in a rich historical novel. The folk tales providing the background to Katrina’s
actions are a charming bonus. P7Q9
Pitcher, Annabel. My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece. 2012. 211p. Little, Brown, $17.99. 978-0-316-07690-3. Ages 10-14: The title and cover page of this novel reveal that the 10-year-old narrator’s sister has died. In her debut book, the author manages to turn fiction about death, grief, alcoholism, bullying,
prejudice, and family dysfunction into a book with hope and humor. In short, a Muslim terrorist attack in London killed Rose, Jamie’s sister’s twin, five years earlier, and their parents have been incapable of moving on. Their father just drinks and ignores everything except the urn with a few ashes, and their
mother left the family with a man she met in a support group. It is Jamie’s growing friendship with a Muslim girl, Sunya, after the father moves his two children to the Lake District that keeps him dealing with the pain both at home and at school. Jamie’s and Sunya’s characters are well-developed as they
each try to cope with the bullying at school and the father’s eventual explosion when he discovers that Jamie’s friend is a Muslim. The joy of Jamie is that he doesn’t understand that his life is unusual, and the sensitive, optimistic boy tells about it from that point of view as he and his remaining sister, her hair now dyed pink, cling together for survival. Instead of being sentimental, the book is warm and wise and truthful, in its own way
triumphant, because of Jamie’s courage and love. My Sister won the
Guardian [UK] Children’s Fiction Prize 2011. One warning! Despite its humor,
prepare yourself with a box of tissues when you read the book. P6Q10
Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. 2012. 180p. Wendy Lamb/Random House, $15.99. 978-0-385-73743-2. Ages 10-14: Nothing is as it seems in Stead’s new book about a seventh-grade boy who moves with his father from their house into a nearby apartment building and meets a home-schooled boy who also lives there. Georges is one of those delightful nerds who always has to face bullies but tries to see life in a positive way. A copy of Georges Surat’s painting hangs over the couch, and Georges’ mother explained that he was named after the pointillist artist who created wonderful images out of dots of paint. Georges’ friendship with Safer (the three children in his family were named for important parts of their life) builds when Safer teaches Georges about spying, using one of the building’s occupants as a subject, but then
wanes when Georges discovers that he has been lying to him. Stead goes farther into the world of mendacity when Georges reveals that he has not been truthful about why he never sees his mother in their apartment. Some of the issues are too easily settled, such as the odd-group-out solving their
bullying problems by joining together and Georges’ ability to quickly solve Safer’s agoraphobia, but the voice of a 13-year-old boy rings true and the mysteries reveal knowledge about adolescent life. Through her spare prose style and well-paced plot, Stead has created unique memorable characters in a detailed New York City setting. P6Q8
Steer, Dugald A. The Dragon Prophecy. [Dragonology Chronicles, V. 4]. Il. by Nick Harris. 2012. 213p. Candlewick, $7.99. 978-0-7636-3428-5. Ages 9-12: Dark dragonologist Alexandra Goryntchka is up to no good, and dragon apprentices, brother and sister Daniel and Beatrice, must help Dr. Drake to
solve the mystery. On the Lost Isle of Dragons, they search for the Hammer of the Dragons, a weapon dangerous to all dragons, in a series of dangerous adventures. Goryntchka’s massive army of enslaved dragons must all be unhypnotized while she tries to kill the creatures who try to do this. Steer has
created an entire world for dragon lovers, far beyond these four volumes: in addition to dragon identification books, the “dragonology” has evolved in board games and an upcoming movie. Although The Dragon Prophecy is standard plot-driven fare, dragon lovers will be fascinated by its lore and
November 2012 Book Reviews D.T.
Black, Birdie, Illus. Breadshaw, Rosalind, Just Right for Christmas. Candlewick Press, 2012; 25 pages. $15.99 Q. 8 P. 9 FICTION
In this illustrated children’s book, a king buys of beautiful red cloth to have a coat made for his daughter and a maid of his recycles the left over scraps, then a hedgehog recycles her scraps, a squirrel does the same on down to a little mouse who makes a scarf for her son. The moral of the story is that Christmas is about giving what you can, and when you are crafty and recycle, even the tiniest mouse can have something for Christmas. This book was easy to read, and easy for young learners to follow. The repetitive nature of this story makes it ideal for new readers, and students grades pre-3.
Speck, Katie, Illus. Ratzede Tagyos, Paul, Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake. Henry Holt and Company, 2012; 58 pages. $16.99 Q. 8 P. 8 FICTION
The unlikely team of a flea named Henry, Maybelle the Cockroach, and Bernice the Ant join forces to gather crumbs in the Peabody kitchen in this quickie and quirky chapter book. The book opens with Mrs. Peabody finishing her special, award-winning cupcakes with a secret ingredient that she never discloses. Ramona the Cat keeps watch. The crumbs on the floor tempt the cockroach, but not until the arrival of Bernice the Ant do they begin their adventures. Bernice the Ant is more courageous with his crumb searching tactics than the insects are usually comfortable with, bringing new opportunities and danger to the lives of these characters. The daring ant offers to make Maybelle, the cockroach, her
queen, and to gather treats just for her. Their subsequent mishaps then lead to tricking the humans in the house into believing that the cupcakes are haunted. I found this book to be a quick read, surprisingly humorous, and full of entertaining illustrations. It is appropriate for advanced young readers who are in first grade, or struggling readers up to the seventh grade as it is full of entertaining black and white illustrations on each page, the vocabulary is simple, and there is a great deal of action; all things that will keep a struggling reader’s attention while attacking the challenge of a first chapter book.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers
Nov. 2012 Reviews by M.D. ASPIRE
Nadin, Joanna. “Paradise”. Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2011. 257 pgs. $16.99. High School. 978-0-7636-5713-0. P6/Q7
This was a really hard book for me to follow because of the format of the five plus different characters with their own chapters and switching back and forth between past and present. I believe the author tried to make it easy by changing the font between italics and regular and titling each chapter with the character’s name, but I feel it was too confusing. It is a story about a sixteen-year-old bully who inherits her grandmother’s home in London and tries to figure out who her father was. But the book was too confusing for me to really enjoy.
Coben, Harlan. “Shelter… A Mickey Bolitar Novel.” G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 2011. $18.99. 304 pgs. Middle and High School. 978-0-399-25650-9. P8/Q8
Mickey witnesses his father’s death and has to live with his uncle Myron when his distraught mother is sent to rehab. In his new school he has a great girlfriend but she goes missing and he goes after her and finds an underworld of people who are helping the young girls escape slavery. This book has twists, turns, mystery and surprise and I like the way Mickey doesn’t give up till he finds out what is really going on at the “Shelter.”
Gould, Sasha. “Cross My Heart” $17.99. Delacorte Press. New York. 2011. 263 pgs. Middle and High School. 978-0-385-74150-7. P8/Q8
The story is set in a 16th century Venetian society. Laura is plucked out of the Covent she was left at for years when her sister dies. She is only 16 years old and must marry the terrible older Vincezo because her sister was promised as his wife but is now dead. Laura is taken to the secret Segreta society and must
tell a secret to receive their help. This is a murder mystery with secrets and women who take the power behind the scenes of a society only for men. The story keeps us guessing but has a great ending as Laura figures out who killed her sister and is set free from marrying the horrible Vincezo. This would be a fun
read aloud for an English or History class. I also believe the art on the cover would capture student’s attention.
Bozzo, Loinda. “I Like Beagles!” Enslow Publishers. New Jersey. 2012. $19.13 23 pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-7660-3846-2. P7/Q.7
This series also has other books such as I like Collies, Labrador Retrievers, and Mixed-Breed dogs. All discover dogs with the American Canine Association. This book will grab any dog lover’s attention with an actual photo of a puppy on the cover. The feeding directions are almost word for the word the same as the cat book I read, so if a child was read all of the books in the series I imagine it would be a bit boring. The notes to parents are written in a very condescending tone almost like the rest of their story. The pictures are very enjoyable but this is a book for a very low level reader.
McPhail, David. “Sick Day.” Holiday House. New York. 2012.$14.95. 25pgs. Preschool. 978-0-8234-2424-5. P8/Q8
This is an “I like to read” book so it is perfect for a beginning reader. None of the characters have names it is just a simple story about a boy, dog and a bird that get sick and comfort one another till they are all well again and can play. There is another book in this series “Boy, Bird and Dog” the pictures are simple and engaging they also have a calming effect because they are so simple so it would make a perfect naptime story.
Diggs, Taye, Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. “Chocolate Me!” “Feiwel and Friends. New York. 2011. $16.99. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-312-60326-7. P7/Q8
I feel like this is a great book to start a dialogue with children about appreciating who they are. This is a story about a little African American boy whose white friends would constantly ask him why he is so dark etc. The little boy’s mom explains to him that no matter what that he needs to be proud of whom he is- she buys him a “Chocolate Me” T-shirt to wear and he shares chocolate cupcakes with his friends. This is a great book to start a conversation with really young children about race.
Brain, Janeen, and Stephen Micheal King. “Where does Thursday go?” Clarion Books. New York. 2001. $14.00. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 97800618-212644. p8/q8
This fun story was first published in Australia. This is about a little Polar Bear Bruno and his friend the bird Bert who tries and figures out where Thursday goes. They search everywhere for “Thursday” they finally agree the moon is Thursday and they say good-bye before they go to bed. The pictures are so cute
and this is a fun book that might answer a child’s funny questions.
Long, Ethan. “The Wing Wing Brothers… Math Spectacular!”. Holiday House. New York .2012. $15.95. Pre-school & Kindergarten. 25 pgs. 978-0-8234-2320-0. P7/Q 7
This book teaches beginning math standards for kindergarten and is modeled using the common core standards. These are five ducks that spin plates in a circus sideshow. The storybook also has little word boxes that explain what the signs mean for example > means greater than. It shows one value is larger than the other. They also have the math problems depicted in number form at the bottom of the page. The different problems are set out in different acts. The ducks are jugglers I also noticed that each act or math problem has a different background color to the illustrations.
Feldman, Thea, illustrated by Olga and Aleksey Ivanov. “Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse Starring Harry.” Macmillan Children’s Publishing Company. New York. 2011. $15.99. 32Pgs. Elementary School. 978-0-312-68168-5. p7/q 8
This is a “My readers…Classic stories. Classic Characters.” Book. The front page has a note to parents and teachers about how these books help children select books based on interest level not just reading level. It also has tips for things to discuss with your child to help with learning to read. This is cute story about two friends Harry the cat and Tucker the mouse and how they miss each other when
Harry becomes a star. I love the cute picture of Harry and Tucker together at the end of the story. Some of the pictures seem old timey and may not be interesting to some children. [Editor’s note: This story is loosely based on characters in George Selden’s books, beginning with Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse.]
Rosenberg, Madelyn, illustrated by Paul Meisel. “The Schumtzy Family.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $16.95. 35 pgs. Elementary school. 978-0-8234-2371-2. p 7/ q8
The fist page uses the word “Malodorous” to describe the swamp which may be hard for some people to read. Also “Farshtunken + Shabbos” which may be made up words because this story is about a crazy family who loves to make messes and parents who don’t seem to care. But as one finishes the book one
realizes they clean up and get ready for the Sabbath and Synagogue so maybe some of the word used in the story are Hebrew because it is about a Jewish family. This is a great book to celebrate heritage as the same time as being silly.
Catrow, David. “Best In Show… Max Spaniel.” Orchard Books. New York. 2011. $6.99. Pre-school. 978-0-545-12277-1. P 7/Q 7
This would be a great book for beginning readers. The story has funny references that parents would understand like Max the dog wants to be a big star like “Spaniel L. Jackson.” The pictures of the animals are a little wild and remind me of cartoons with big eyes. This book is also one of many in the Max Spaniel series that are created after the author’s dog, Bubbs.
Poydar, Nancy. “Bus Driver.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $15.95 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-8234-2411-5. P8/q7
I love this story because it is about a tiny toy that a little boy finds and cleans up and takes everywhere. It is a little bus driver toy and Mac takes him everywhere but often loses him. He and his mother spend lots of time looking for his toy. This is a fun book about how little children love their toys. The pictures are cute, bright, and simple. It would make a good book for a library story time.
Marzollo, Jean. Photographs by Chad Phillips. “Help Me Learn Subtraction.” Holiday House/New York /2012. $15.95. 30 Pgs. Pre-school and elementary school. 978-0-8234-2401-6 P7/q8
There are many other books in this series that introduce common core state standards for mathematics in the area of operation and algebraic thinking. The end papers have fun different rubber duckies to count and subtract. This book has an easy format of solid backdrops and cute little toys with fun rhymes to help young children start to think about math. This would be a great read aloud book as well because the group can shout the answers.
Marzollo, Jean. Photographs by Chad Phillips. “Help Me Learn Addition” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $15.95. 30 Pgs. Elementary school. 978-8234-2398-9. P7/q8.
This is a singsong rhyming book that helps the young learner understand addition. There are toy pigs, chicks, and passengers in trains, marbles and other cute little toys. In the book there is a letter to parents and teachers and a thank you page. The addition is based on common core standards for kindergarten and the author believes that if you help children think about addition at an early age, they will be better prepared for later schooling.
Micco, Trudy. “Discover Ragdoll Cats.” Enslow Publishers. New Jersey. 2012, $19.13 24 pgs. Elementary School . 978-0-7660-3855-4. P7 /Q7
This is one of several books in the series by Discover cats with the Cat Fanciers Association. They also have books on Marine Coon, Oriental Shorthairs and Persian cats. The back of the book contains a note to parents about adopting pets and a glossary with a list of things a pet owner should do before bringing a cat home. The book also has actual photos of cats that any reader will enjoy. The book talks about how cats should not go outside so if you have an indoor/outdoor cat you may not want to read this book because young children often believe everything they read.
Murray, Aaron R. “EMT’s Help Us” Eslow Publishers, Inc. New Jersey. $19.13 23 pgs .Pre-school. 978-0-7660-4050-2. P8/Q7
There are eight total books in this community helper’s series like dentists, nurses, etc. The books have contents page, index and word count. The pictures are photographs with a variety of races and genders depicted. The sentences are simple and short so early readers can read these books and well as learn about possible careers. I like the easy format of these simple books.
Stewart, Melissa. “Green Animals.” Enslow publishers. Inc. New Jersey. 2012. 20pgs. $. Pre-school. 978-0-7660-3998-8. P8/Q8
These books are designed to help pre-readers start with repetition of words and short simple sentences. The book has a contents page, words to know section, read more, web sites, index and guided reading level of A with a word count of 23. The pictures are bright and beautiful and the end of the book has a green animal’s page where the child could point and remember the names of the animals. This is a very simple and fun book.
Murray, Aaron R. “Counting in the Rain Forest 1-2-3.” Enslow Publishers. Inc. New Jersey. 2013. 30pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-7660-40557. P8/Q7.
There are six books in this series: counting in the desert, forest, grasslands, oceans, tundra, and rainforest. This series would also be helpful for a class room studying the different types of landscapes in the world. This book also has what other Enslow early reader books have with words to know etc. I like the fact that there were little text boxes that gave the name of the animals that we were counting, one thing that I didn’t like was were counting the ten claws on the komodo dragon but one claw was hidden by the book binding.
Gal, Susan. “Day by Day.” Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2012. $16.99. 30pgs. pre-school.978-0-375-86959-4. P8/Q8
The illustrations are fun sketches with collage effects by paper and fabric that make the book very whimsical. The story has cute rhyming phrases that the words roll off the tongue. The pigs move to a new area, building a home, planting a garden and share the harvest with neighbors. The pigs do all of this in an orderly fashion for example ”row by row we plant the garden.” This will be a fun story for parents and children to read over and over again.
Winthrop, Elizabeth. Illustrated by Amanda Haley. “Maia and the Monster Baby.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $16.95. 30 pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-8234-2518-1. P7/q8
This is a funny story about Mia and her make believe purple furry monster who visits her every night to play. Monster asks Mia “why does your mom have a pot belly?”… Because she is having a baby as she rolls her eyes. I think the use of the term “pot belly” is a little unusual and may be hard to explain to little children. The fun thing is that the big sisters end up helping each other’s little sister calm down and they visit each other and are happy they are friends despite their noisy siblings. This could be a good book to start a conversation of caring for new siblings.
Litwin, Eric (story by). James Dean. (created and illustrated by) “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.” Harper. New York. 2012. 30 Pgs. $16.99. ages 4-7. 978-0-06-211058-9. p8/q8
The front corner lets the parents know that they can get free songs by going to a website. This would make for a great story time for a library or classroom activity. This is a counting book with the buttons popping off of Pete’s shirts and doing math to know how many buttons are left. The pages even have the math problems written on the side 4-1=3. The words and song are repeated over and over so the children will love the repetition and the opportunity for participation and the story has a very funny ending with him finding his belly button after all four buttons pop off. The book has a great moral as well that we don’t cry over things that come and go, because it’s just stuff.
Moser. Lisa. Illustrated by Benji Davies “Railroad Hank.” Random House. New York. 2012. 30 Pgs. $16.99. Pre-School. 978-0-375-86849-8. P8/Q8
This is a funny story about Railroad Hank that doesn’t understand where things come from and takes a wild ride to visit Granny Bett who is feeling “Kind of Blue.” I think young readers will think this is funny and can tell you what Hank should have done differently. They did cheer up granny Bett by making her laugh with all the chaos and silliness. For example he takes the cow instead of just a glass of
milk to cheer up Granny. The pictures are cute and simple with some picture bubbles that can also make for a great discussion.
Low, William. “Machines Go to Work in the City”. Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2012. $16.99. 40 pages. Pre-School. 978-0-8050-9050-5. P8/Q7
If this book were to be in the library or classroom it may need to be reinforced with tape as every other page has big flaps that fold out to help tell the story of all the different trucks, planes, trains, etc that help a city go. The last two pages have smaller pictures with word and arrows and definitions of the different
equipment featured in the story. I like this very interesting and engaging book.
Long, Ethan. “Pig Has A Plan”. Holiday House. New York. 2012. $14.95. 25 pages. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-2428-3. P7/Q7
This is a book from the “I like to read” series for beginning readers. Most pages have a three to four word sentence for the child to sound out and read. It is a story of a barnyard pig that wants to be left alone but all of the other animals are busy building and setting things up. In the end when the pig buries his head in the mud to get away from all of the commotion his friends yell “happy birthday” and he decides to be happy because they remembered his birthday. Most of the story is told through pictures and would make a great conversation starter about being patient with others.
Rotner, Shelley and David A White, “Body Actions”. Holiday House. New York. 2012. $16.95. 35 pages. Elementary School. 978-0-8234-2366-8. P8/Q8.
The book features actual photographs of children with sketches over them to show the body’s bones, muscles, blood, digestive, and other systems. It also gives facts like “your heart is about the size of your fist”… The story also features how the eye, nose, tongue and ears work. The back of the book has a section for the 5 senses, skin and hair and a definition with pictures of six body systems. The last page has a glossary. I think this would make a great addition to any library and would be very helpful for the health classrooms.
Kent, Deborah. “What Is It Like to Be Blind?” Enslow Publishers. New Jersey. 2012. $. 48 pages. Elementary School. 978-0-7660-3769-2. P7/Q8
This is a book from the overcoming barriers series – they also have What Is Braille?, What is it Like to Be Deaf?, What is Sign Language? All Enslow books are very sturdy and have a library reinforced binding as well as a contents page, full index, and this book has a two page words to know section with definitions. This is a story that talks about a teenage girl MarChe’ Daughtry and what it is like for her to be blind. The book has actual photographs of her and others from all over the world and how they function in the world around them. Many different cultures, age groups and genders are shown in this book. The book also has text boxes with definitions and captions for all of the pictures. This would be a great book for students who are in the recourse room and for other students to learn about what it is like to be blind. This is a very inspirational book.
Tarpley, Todd. Illustrated by Marc Brown. “Ten Tiny Toes”. Little, Brown and Company. New York. 2012. $16.99. 35 pages. Pre-School. 978-0-316-12921-3. P8/Q8
The pictures are so cute and beautiful and made from the cut-paper collage. This is a story of passing along love as one grows up and how cute little baby toes are when they are little. I like the fact that the little baby grows up and then kisses her own babies ten little toes. The story has depictions of many different children as they are babies as well. I like how the babies learn to walk and do many things
as they grow my favorite page is the trick or treating page. This would make a great book for a mother or father to read to their children.
Cecil, Randy. “Horsefly and honeybee.” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2012. 30 pgs. 416.99. Pre-School. 978-0-8050-9300-1. P8/Q8
This is a beautiful children’s story based on a quote by Luciano De Crescenzo “we are each of us angles with only one wing, and we can fly by embracing one another.” Friendship and working together to be successful is a theme. Horsefly and Honeybee fight and rip off one another’s wing and then they must work together when Bullfrog captures them. They are able to finally fly away by holding onto one another and flapping their one remaining wing to get away. This is a great book for teaching children how important it is to share and work together.
Some of the pictures of flowers even look real. I really enjoyed this simple story.
Schwartz, Amy. “Lucy Can’t Sleep.” Roaring Brook Press New York. 2012. 16.99. 30 Pgs. Pre-School. 978-1-59643-543-8. P7/Q7
This is a fun story about a little girl who can’t sleep and tries several funny things like counting baby otters, mountain goats, blowing her nose, Etc. to fall asleep. Finally she gets out of bed and starts looking for bear and dolly and she looks everywhere including the bath, downstairs, and in the refrigerator. She then has some pudding with bear and dolly but she then goes outside to swing on the
porch – which I think is kind of a bad suggestion for little children who may go outside at night unsupervised. She plays dress up and then finally she falls asleep. As a mother I think the message of getting out of bed, to have snacks, look for toys, and play dress up could get frustrating and unsafe. I know what I want to them to learn to stay in bed and fall asleep.
Zarins, Kim. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. “The Helpful Puppy.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $16.95. 30 Pgs. 978-0-8234-2318-7. P8/Q8
The pictures are simple, calm drawings of a puppy in a barn yard that is not so calm and wants to know what he could do to help the farm. He tries pushing the cart like the Ox or chasing a mouse like the cat. He isn’t even able to hustle sheep because he is just a puppy. But he is able to give love to his boy when he gets home from school and that is his job to be the little boy’s friend. I think this book would make a great conversation starter about how we all have different jobs and we all have a place.
Yee, Wong Herbert. “Summer Days and Night.” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2012. $14.99. 30 Pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8050-9078-9 P 8/Q 8
There are two other similar books by this author “Who Likes Rain?” and “Tracks in the snow.” These are great books that feature an Asian little girl and her family. The pictures are soft, simple and enjoyable. The words have singsong rhyming pattern that will be perfect for little ones who like to read and reread books. I really enjoyed the things the little girl saw at night with her father like a barn owl.
Ward Law, Lee. Illustrated by Huy Voun Lee. “Red White and Boom!” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2012. 30 Pgs. $16.99. Pre-School. 978-0-8050-9065-9 P8/Q8
I really enjoyed the author in this simple, 4th of July story it is cut paper collage, which makes the pictures simple, and eye catching. The story is told in two words phrases that rhyme and make the story easily as a great read aloud. It talks about all the fan things Americans do on the 4th of July parade picnics beach trips and fireworks. There are also many other cultures represented in the collage art
children and families.
LaRochelle, David. Illustrated by Jerry Tankard. “It’s A Tiger!” Chronicle Books. San Francisco. 2012. 30 pages. $16.99. Pre-School. 978-0-8118-6925-6. P8/Q8.
This is a funny book with very exciting pictures that helps the reader feel the moments of the story. The pictures are simple, bright, and bold and help the young reader to feel like they are a part of the tiger chase. The story reminds me of an old girl scout campfire song about a tiger chasing a monkey. It is also a loop story with the end being a crocodile doing the chasing so I think this would make a great read along story for a group who can extend the story with imaginary other animals as well.
Springett, Martin. Photographs by Isobel Springett. “Kate & Pippin…An Unlikely Love Story” Henry Holt and Compny. New York. 2012. 30 pages. $16.99. Pre-School. 978-0-8050-9487-9. P8/Q7.
This is a fun story with real photographs to tell the story of Pippin wild a deer and Kate a Saint Bernard who took Pippin in as a baby. I like how the dog and deer remain friends even though the deer grows up. It shows how wild animals are still wild and not really pets like dogs and cats. I like how they captured the whole story with photos and you can see the changes in the deer as she matures. This would make a great companion to adoption as well as how to care for wild and domesticated animals.
Na, Sung I1. “Hide and Seek.” Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2011. $15.99. 30pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-375-87078-1. P8/Q8
The end papers are so very fun and cute with many different colored chameleons. This is also a counting book as the elephant is counting as all of the animals are hiding. After counting to 10 the elephant finds all of the animals in the rain forest but the chameleon till he jumps out and scares them all. The pictures are bright and colorful and some seem to be made of fabric, paint and other collage materials. I also like the way one side of the two-page spread is colorful and the other is white with just the elephant counting.
Cabrera, Jane. “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $16.95. 30pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-8234-2519-8. P8/Q8
This is a fun twist on the rhyme twinkle twinkle little star as the star sparkles, flickers, shimmer etc. Mothers and little animal children see the star differently where ever they are be it the forest desert, city or plains. This would be a great read aloud story or circle time book so children can say the rhyme along with the reader. At the end it talks about a mother and her little baby she loves so it would also be a perfect bed time story. The pictures are paintings that are a little busy but cute.
Emberley, Rebecca and Ed Emberley. “Mice on Ice.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $14.95. 25pgs. Pre-school. 978-0-8234-2576-1. P8/Q8.
This is a very simple book from the “I like to read” series for beginning readers. The pages are made of cut paper collages that make for very bright colorful pictures. Most sentences are only three to four words. The fun thing is the ice skating mice end up making a big cat with their scratches in the ice, and then a real cat appears and has fun ice-skating with the mice.
Calmenson, Stephanie. Illustrated by Abby carter. “Ollie’s School Day a Yes-and-No Book.” Holiday House. New York. 2012. $15.95. 30 Pgs. Pre-School. 978-0-8234-2377-4 P8/Q8.
This is a fun story about a little boy named Ollie who wants to do silly things like eat fish flavored ice cream for breakfast. The story goes through several no options but end with a yes option like a bowl of cereal for breakfast. This is a fun way for teachers or parents to start a conversation about what is appropriate behavior and choices. This is all about what it is like for Ollie to get ready for school and
who is waiting for him when he gets home.
Wojtowycz, David. “Elephant Joe, Brave Knight!” Random House. New York. 2011. $16.99. 30 Pgs. Pre-School 978-0-307-93087-3 P8/Q8.
The pictures are very bright, colorful and a little busy with some collage of paper, prints, pictures, and drawings. The story has a little frog with funny word bubbles that helps to bring humor to the story. This is a silly story about a knight, dragon and a “tricky” damsel in distress. I think the colorful pages of this silly story will mesmerize any young child.
Hoban Russell. Pictures by Lillian Hoban. “The Little Brute Family”. Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. New York. 2011. $15.99. 39pgs. Elementary School. 978-0-312-62138-4 p7/q 7
This is a My Readers, Classic Stories, Classic Characters book about a Brute Family who mean and horrible and never say please or thank you. I’m not really sure what a “brute” is and may be confusing to children and hard for adults to explain but the moral of the story is good as they are not happy when they are being bad and in the end they become the “Nice” family and do good things and are much happier. This may be a great conversation starter book about how our behavior affects our mood.
Yum,Hyewon. “Mom; It’s My First Day of Kindergarten !”. Frances Foster Books. New York . 2012. $16.99. 30 pgs . pre-school. 978-0-374-35004-8. P8 /Q8
The end papers are cute and help to tell the story of a little boy getting dressed and ready for school. In the beginning the mom is drawn as tiny and in dark sad colors because she is so worried whether or not her son is ready for kindergarten. The little boy keeps telling his mom not to worry and when they
finally get to school she meets another mother and her whole demeanor changes. His mother becomes big and colorful then the little boy becomes sad and worried but as soon as he meets his teacher he is excited. This would be a great book for a pre-school group of children who are getting ready to go off to
Geist, Ken. Pictures by Henry Cole. “Who’s Who?” Feiwel and Friends. New York. 2012. $16.99. 30 Pages. Pre-school. 978-0-312-164437-6. P8/Q8
This is a very fun children’s book about twins. It features twin animals such as cows, bunnies, monkeys, fish etc. Some of the twins are identical and others are fraternal because it is a brother and sister fish for example. The words create a fun rhyming story that any child would enjoy over and over again. The author has twins Owen and Kei who are the inspiration for their fun, colorful book and I specially enjoy it as I’m the grandmother of identical twin girls.
Book Reviews P.D. Oceanlake
Daisy Meadows. The Fairy Treasure Hunt. Scholastic 2012. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-38493-3. Gr. 1-3. P. 8 Q. 7.
Bright illustrations accompany a story of Fairyland. Sister fairies in training are ready for their final challenge. Together they follow the magic they have inside, they find all the jewels to pass and become full fairies.
Janet Morgan Stoeke. Pip’s Trip. Dial Books. New York. 2012. $ 16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3708-2.
Gr. K – 2 P. 8, Q. 9.
The truck is always going on Loopy Coop Farm. The hens want to go in the truck too. They decide to try even though it is loud and scary. Pip gets in firs then Midge and Dod must go talk to Rooster Sam before they go too. The truck gets loud, Pip shuts her eyes and hides. When the truck is quiet she finds that she is on the farm and her friends tell her how brave she was even if the truck did not move. Brightly illustrated adventure for three hen friends.
Lynn Maslen Kertell, Illustrated by Sue Hendra. Cupcake Surprise. Scholastic 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-38269-4. $3.99. Gr. K-2. P. 8, Q. 9.
It is dad’s birthday; Jack and Anna have many surprises as they make him a present. The cupcakes turn out great and dad is surprised. Word cards along with picture sentence cards are at the end of the story.
Tedd Arnold. Ride Fly Guy Ride. Scholastic 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-22276-1. $6.99. Gr. K-2. P. 9, Q. 9.
While on a ride with Buzz and his father Fly Guy gets blown out the window into many situations with Buzz and dad chasing behind. After thinking Fly Guy flew away on a rocket ship Buzz is surprised when he finds him and they go home.
Neil Gaiman illustrated by Charles Vess. Blueberry Girl. Harper Collins 2009. ISBN 978-0-06-083808-9, $17.99. Gr. 1-3. P. 8, Q. 9.
Wonderfully illustrated book of wishes for a new baby daughter to be. Dreams for her as she grows and journeys through life.
Michael B. Kaplan, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. Betty Bunny Wants Everything. Dial Books 2012. ISBN 978- 0-8037-3408-1. $16.99. Gr. K-3. P.9, Q.9.
As a surprise mother bunny takes her children to the toy store and tells them that they may each pick one toy. Betty Bunny finds a stuffed bunny that looks just like her and puts it in the cart along with many other toys. Mother bunny explains again that she can have only one. Betty Bunny wants them all. When it is time to go Betty throws a fit and goes home crying without a toy. Father bunny has a solution they go back to the toy store but this time they give Betty money and tell her that she can have whatever she wants until the money is gone. She settles on the stuffed bunny that looks just like her and keeps the rest of the money. Then starts to fill the cart again and tells mom and dad that these toys are not for her they are for her new stuffed bunny and could she have some money too. P. 9 Q. 9.
Ying Chang Compestine. Illustrated by Uan Nascimbene. Crouching Tiger. Candlewick Press 2011. ISBN 978-0-7637-4642-4. $16.99. Gr. K-3. P. 8, Q. 9.
Vincent’s grandfather is visiting from China. Vincent joins him in the yard for Tai Chi. He soon learns that there is more to this martial art than he thought. His grandfather is encouraging and patient as Vincent learns. When it is time for the New Year’s parade Vincent is part of it and finds that during his training he was also learning the role he would play in the parade. Each page has an illustrated
Tai Chi form. Beautiful ink and watercolor accompany the heartwarming story of grandfather and grandson. P.9, Q.9
Frieda Wishinsky, Remembering the Titanic. Scholastic 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-35844-6. $3.99. Gr. 1-3. P.32. P.9, Q.9.
Real photos as well as recreated pictures tell the story of the short trip of the ship that was said to be “unsinkable”, and the finding of its wreckage years later. Information about the last survivor, questions as to why we are still interested in the Titanic’s history as well as a glossary are included in this level 3 reader. P.9, Q. 9.
Tori Kosara. Hibernation. Scholastic 2011. ISBN 978-0-545-36582-6. $3.99. Gr. K-3. P. 32. P.8, Q. 9.
From true hibernators to those animals that hibernate for short periods, this book will explain it. Real pictures accompany this well detailed early book about hibernation. Pronunciation keys help with unfamiliar words and a glossary defines text printed in green. Well written for early report writing.
Daniel Pinkwater illuatrated by Adam Stower. Mrs. Noodlekugel. Candlewick Press 2012. ISBN 978-0-7636-5053-7. $14.99. Gr.2-4. P. 8, Q. 9. p. 72
Nick and Maxine move into a tall apartment building and find that there is a little house in the back yard but how do they get there to investigate. Mom and dad tell them not to bother the little old lady who lives in the back yard yet Nick and Maxine find out how to get there, knock on the door and find sweet Mrs. Noodlekugel and her unusual cat Mr. Fuzzface and the farsighted mice who live in the little house in the back yard. After their visit mom and dad find out that they have visited her even when they were told not to they tell Nick and Maxine they are glad that they like Mrs. Noodlekugel because she is their new babysitter.
Carole Lexa Schaefer illustrated by Galia Bernstein. Monkey and Elephant. Candlewick Press 2012. ISBN 978-0-7637-4840-4. $14.99. Gr. 1-3. P. 8, Q. 8. p. 42
This is a colorfully illustrated chapter book for early independent readers. Monkey and Elephant are friends but disagree sometimes. During their travel to find shade the complaining friends Wald and Bumpity and are bossy but eventually get where they are going. They find that they each like each other just the right amount. Adjectives and action words keep readers engaged.
Richard Peck illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Secrets at Sea. Dial Books 2011. ISBN 978-0-8037-3455-5. $16.99. Gr. 3+. P. 8, Q. 9. P. 237.
Mouse sisters Helena, Louise and Beatrice along with brother Lamont set out on a voyage across the sea with their human counterparts, the Cranstons. Once aboard the ship they find that it is full of other mouse families. Before the journeys end both Cranston daughters are engaged, Lamont has hired on as crew and Beatrice has fallen in love. Helena is offered a great opportunity and both mouse Cranstons and human Cranstons are happy. Engaging story of a family of mice and how they help their humans along in life.
Jennifer A. Nielsen. The False Prince. Scholastic Press New York 2012. ISBN 978-0-545-28413-4. $17.99. Gr. 3+. P. 8, Q.9. p. 342.
Left to fend for himself when he was young, Sage is recruited along with three other orphans to battle n impersonate the king’s long lost son. During the competition Sage begins to remember why all the things he already knows and the things he is being taught are so familiar. The truth is finally revealed at the books end where the reader finds that “The False Prince” is the exciting first book in a trilogy leaving the reader wanting the 2nd book as soon as closing the 1st. P.9, Q.9.
Anthony Horowits, Bloody Horowitz. Philomel Books 2010. ISBN 978-0-399-25451-2. $12.99. Gr. 9+.P. 8, Q.7. p. 330.
This book is a collection of 14 unusual horror stories with unexpected twists. A quiz show where the winner is the only survivor until he tries to take his winnings home, a robot Nanny for robot children what can go wrong? Bad dreams and the X train are only a few of the twisted tales in a true horror book. Horror readers will find some new with each story.
Huante, Brenda. Creature count : a prehistoric rhyme.ISBN: 978-0-374-33605-9 Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2012 1st ed 26. P $16.99 Count and rhyme with the dinosaurs and enjoy the colorful illustrations from 1 to 10. A timeline and facts about the dinosaurs in the text is included at the end of the story. P.9, Q. 9. K – 2
Bauer, Marion Dane. Halloween forest New York : 2012.  p. $16.95. K – 3. A child ventures beyond houses, schools and churches and stores on All Hallows’ Eve. She finds bones, bat, cat, rat and many other bones, but she is not afraid, she is tough. Then after a “boo” and a “wahoo!” she holds out her sack and what can the bones do but give all its candy to her. P. 9. Q. 9.
Paul B. Thompson, The Brightworking. (The Brightstone Saga, Book 1) ISBN 978-0-7660-3950-6, Enslow Publishers, 2013, 160 P. P. 8, Q. 8, Gr. 5 – 8.
Mikal is a chosen Gleaning and has to leave his family and everything he knows to study at the magicians’ Guild of Constant Working. A talent that he didn’t know that he had and help from a new friend as well as a talking metal head, Orry, are all discovered on his way to becoming an apprentice with Master Harlano. Things are not what they seem at the Guild and Mikal leaves the guild with Orry to find employment with a traveling show. Master Harlano finds him and wants to get Orry back, Mikal does not return Orry and knows that Master Harlano will not give up.
James A. Moore. RUN. ISBN 978-1-59514-305-1 pbk. New York, Razorbill, 2012, 309 p. $9.99 Young Adult.
Joe Bronx, a genetically altered experiment that has gone wrong is known as a Failure. He is looking for Evelyn Hope, the one person that can give him the answers he needs. Evelyn also wants to find Joe, one of the many Failures who were mistakenly put up for adoption and do not know their capabilities. Joe finds and enlists some more of the Failures to help him get to Evelyn and the answers that may help return his and their lives to normal. The Successes however just want to capture or kill them. After a major confrontation Joe is no closer to getting what he found Evelyn for.
C.S.- Siletz Public Library
November 2012 Reviews
Bateman, Teresa. Paul Meisel, ill. The Leprechaun Under the Bed. Holiday House, 2012. $16.95. ISBN 9780823422210. Unp. Ages 4-7. P7Q7.
This lively story is based on traditional stories of leprechauns, but the acrylic and watercolor illustrations give it a fresh feeling. As in the old stories, Sean MacDonald the farmer has built his house over the home of leprechaun cobbler Brian O’Shea. The predictable conflict and then a slowly growing friendship play out. When robbers break into Sean’s cottage, Brian saves the day and they’re firm friends from that point on. The story is simple but very pleasant and young children will enjoy this as
Lee, Spike & Lewis Lee, Tonya. Sean Qualls, ill. Giant Steps to Change the World. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011. $16.99. ISBN 9780689868153. Unp. Ages 4-7. P6Q8.
This book is intended to inspire young children to take big steps to achieve their dreams. Using examples of people who have accomplished amazing things despite obstacles (like athletes, freedom fighters, and teachers) the husband and wife authors use poetic language to make this book. The illustrations are interesting- they’re a mixed media combination of painting, drawing, and collage. I don’t think this isn’t a book that children will automatically ask for, but they may find the poetic language soothing.
Fleming, Candace. Eric Rohmann, ill. Oh, No! Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. $17.99. ISBN 9780375842719. Unp. Ages 3-7. P8Q9. My storytime group enjoyed yelling out “Oh, no!” each time another animal fell into the deep, deep hole while trying to help the others out. The lovely illustrations make this story- they’re detailed but bold enough that a group of children can easily follow the story. The rhyming text is easy to read out loud and the animal’s sounds are fun for the children to repeat. There’s a surprise at the end too! This book will definitely become a favorite at my library.
Sif, Birgitta. Oliver. Candlewick Press, 2012. $16.99. ISBN 9780763662479. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7Q9.
This story will brighten up a dark, rainy day. Birgitta Sif tells the story of Oliver, who is a solitary child whose usual companions are his puppets and toys. He has a wild imagination and is never bored. However, at times his toys aren’t enough. Oliver meets Olivia, and that fact that he is a bit different doesn’t matter, because Olivia is a bit different too. I love the last page, where we see that the happy ending is actually a happy beginning. Oliver reminds us that it is okay to be different, and that everyone is different in some way.
Smith, Lane. Abe Lincoln’s Dream. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $16.99. ISBN 9781596436084. Unp. Ages 5-7. P7Q8.
I enjoyed both the story and illustrations in this book. Quincy is touring the White House and sees the ghost of Abe Lincoln. They strike a kind of friendship, where Abe tells Quincy about a dream he had and about his concerns for the future of the US. Quincy reassures him that the country has continued to make progress since the time of his life and the present. Lincoln and Quincy both tell some silly jokes and provide some humor to the story. The illustrations and text have a period feeling- woodcut-like
pictures and fonts that look like old advertising. There is a very short afterword giving a few historical details, but in general the book doesn’t have much in this regard.
Oxley, Jennifer & Aronson, Billy. The Chicken Problem. Random House, 2012. $16.99. ISBN 9780375869891. Unp. Ages 3-7. P7Q8.
The Chicken Problem describes Peg, Cat and Pig’s attempt to have a picnic, and the big problem they have. 100 chicks get loose from the chicken coop and the three friends try to get them back in. Counting and basic math ideas are worked into the simple but appealing story.
Stead, Rebecca. Liar & Spy. Wendy Lamb Books, 2012. $15.99. ISBN 9780385737432. 180 pgs. Ages 9-13. P8Q9.
When 7th grader Georges (with a silent ‘s’, named after Georges Seurat) moves into a new building, he is recruited by 12 year old Safer to spy on neighbors. Georges is bullied at school, his mom is working extra shifts at work, and his dad has lost his job, so when Safer’s eccentric but friendly family welcomes Georges and he and Safer begin to be friends, he feels like something good is happening. He becomes uncomfortable, though, when it isn’t clear how much of the spying is actually a game. This story is
Interesting–it looks at themes like friendship, the good and bad of exercising your imagination, illness in a family, dealing with change, etc. At the end we find out that George’s mom is actually very sick, and a lot of unclear points become clear. This story could be dark and traumatic, but the author manages to keep it light. I think it will be popular with both boys and girls.
Hunter-Gault, Charlayne. To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $22.99. ISBN 9781596436053. 198 pgs. Ages 12+. P7Q9.
This is a wonderful resource on the civil rights movement from the first black woman writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter for The Times, for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS and for National Public Radio. Hunter-Gault was also one of the first students to integrate the all-white University of Georgia in 1961. She uses black and white photos and original articles (with full transcriptions in the back) from the New York Times to look back on her experiences during those important years. Her moving first person descriptions bring the era to life, and she skillfully weaves in historical facts in a way that engages and pulls you through the chapters. She gives lots of detail about the drives to register voters, Freedom riders, various court cases and appeals, and talks, of course, about the violence and intimidation the exceptionally brave activists encountered at every turn. I think this book should be considered essential in middle and high school classrooms, and should be included in
public library collections. This historical memoir is anything but dull, and young readers will see the connection between the events of the Civil Rights Movement and things that are happening right now in the US.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center
for Young Readers November 2012 Reviews by N.W
Murphy, Jim. The Giant and How He Humbugged America. 2012. 112p. Scholastic, $19.99. 078-0-439-69184-0. Ages 10-14: The “discovery” of a tenfoot- tall stone man on an upstate New York Farm in 1869 led to a journey through fake science and hype in a time that people were searching for hope.
People were willing to stand in long lines and pay to see the figure, showing their desperate will to believe. As always, two-time Newbery Honor author Murphy uses solid research and illustrations to support his history, using an engaging narrative to follow the tale of the petrified man and how such
hoaxes can advance reforms through professional perspectives. As Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.” P5Q8
Hall, Michael. Cat Tale. 2012. unp. Greenwillow, $16.99. 978-0-06-191516-1. Ages 3-7: This adventure of both cats and words plays with homophones as the creatures “flee a steer,” “steer a plane,” “plane a board,” etc. Simple digital blocky collages produce the same pop as the words with a humor that invites children to identify more homophones. New York Times describes it as “eye-poppingly bright and friendly … a twisty, imaginative story … [with] ‘read it again’ magic.” Young readers will fall in love with Lillian, Tilly, and William J. as they delight in the bright colors and compelling rhythm. Designer Hall also created both My Heart Is like a Zoo and Perfect Square. P9Q9
Cole, Henry. Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad. 2012. unp. Scholastic, $16.99. 978-0-545-39997-5. Ages 4-8: Skillfully drawn graphite illustrations on rough-textured paper tell, without words, the story of a farm child who discovers an escaped slave behind cornstalks in the storehouse. The image of soldiers with a Confederate flag trotting behind the child adds to the suspenseful atmosphere. Despite reward poster and the return of the soldiers, the girl doesn’t reveal the hiding place. Close-ups of an eye in the leaves—the only view of the slave–and later the girl’s eye through a knothole emphasize the theme of careful watching shown by both the girl and the man.
The author’s attention to ordinary life, such as the cat following the girl and the basket that she carries, contrasts with the feeling of danger. Cole’s afterword describes his Virginia family’s connections to the Civil War and the significance of the Big Dipper in the nighttime sky that led many slaves to freedom. The image of the child’s face on the rear cover leads to discussion with the question, “What would you do if you had the chance to help a person find freedom?” P8Q9
DaCosta, Barbara. Nighttime Ninja. Il. Ed Young. 2012. unp. Little Brown, $16.99. 978-0-316-20384-5. Ages 3-6: Minimal text accompanies the textured illustrations of cut paper, cloth, string, and colored pencil that follow a mysterious mission of a silhouetted figure, revealed in the end to be a small boy going to the kitchen. Young readers will admire the boy’s skills as he climbs and leaps past obstacles. The darkness changes to a bright, white background in the ending as the child’s mother discovers the ninja ready for a treat. The fine artwork carries the book in this fantasy. P8Q8
Klassen, Jon. This Is Not My Hat. 2012. unp. Candlewick, $15.99. 978-0-7636-5599-0. Ages 3-7: In another dark tale from the author of I Want My Hat Back, a tiny fish doesn’t consider the danger when stealing a hat from a huge sleeping fish. Unremorseful, the cocky fish talks trash about the big creature
and, in its downfall, brags to a watchful crab. The black background is perfect for subtle metallic colors that make the fish’s world shimmer. Like his earlier book, Klassen features a hat, a thief, and a wronged party but this time uses the thief for his perspective as compared to the stolen-from bear in his earlier
book. Young readers will know people who underestimate the abilities of others while presenting a huge ego. Double-page spreads provide the room to highlight the size of the big fish and the movement of the little one, and the art creates the counterpoint to the text. The page that reads, “he probably won’t notice that it’s gone” is accompanied by the big fish looking up. As in the earlier book, the eyes primarily show all the emotion, demonstrating Klassen’s brilliance in depicting situations with great simplicity.
Savage, Stephen. Little Tug. 2012. unp. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, $12.99. 978-1-59643-648-0. Ages 3-6:The adventures of a small tug that, despite its size and slowness, makes it possible for a tall ship, a speedboat, and an ocean liner to come in and out of the harbor, comes with crisp stencil-style art
in high-contrast blue-grays and red highlights that includes the city skyline and water reflections. The magic of the illustrations is the expressions on the vessels to illustrate reactions to dilemmas and feelings of achievement. The book finishes with a goodnight message as Little Tug tires out and the others
bid goodnight to him. P9Q8
DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. Adapt. Dallas Middaugh; art by Niklas Asker. 2012. Random House, $18.99. 978-0-375-86821-4. Ages 10-14: Light and shadow highlight this graphic adaptation of the 2003 novel about two children who find the way out of a doomed city. Designed as a last refuge for
the human race instead of a Utopia, Ember is disintegrating: food is short, the electrical system is unreliable, and the government controls people’s lives. Lina finds the Builders’ instructions, but her baby sister partially destroyed them. With a few letters left, she and her friend Doon must solve the mystery. A dystopian fantasy with hope, this version of DuPrau’s book lends itself to a
Larson, Hope. Wrinkle in Time/Madeleine L’Engle. Adapt. & il. by Hope Harson. 2012. 392p. FSG, $19.99. 978-0-374-38615-3. Ages 9-12: The story of the characters who fight off a dark force to save the universe in the 50-year-old Newbery winner has returned in this graphic novel showing Meg and her younger brother traveling through space and overcoming obstacles to find their father. The lack of color—only blue is used—distracts when a character is called “man with red eyes” and takes away from the drama of the book. Those who have read and loved the book already have images in their heads
of the characters, which also takes away from the book’s impact. The original text also comes across a bit stiff in a graphic format. P6Q7
Telgemeier, Raina. Drama. 2012. 233p. Graphix/Scholastic, $23.99. 978-0-545-32698-8. Ages 10-14: Award-winner Telgemeier stays in middle-school for her next graphic novel after Smile but uses the drama associated with a musical for her focal point. As Callie tries to get over jock Greg who has gone
back to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the play’s stuck-up star, she finds new friends in cute twins gay Justin and straight Jesse Mendocino. Colorful cartoon art and superbly delineated plot and characterization make the hormone-driven world of middle school, complete with its confusion and anxiety, funny and poignant. Telgemeier treats her characters with respect, laughing with them but not at them as she includes many types: the diva, suave lead, shy crew member, strong girl leader, funny gay guy, etc. P8Q8
Bigelow, Lisa Jenn. Starting from Here. 2012. 282p. Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99. 978-0-6514-6233-0. Ages 14+: Colby, 16, suffers from so many abandonment issues—her mother has died, her truck driver father is always on the road, and her girlfriend dumps her for a boyfriend—that she
feels completely lost until she is adopted by a stray dog. But even this situation brings predicaments when she doesn’t accept that the dog’s vet just likes her for herself. Fortunately, Colby’s backups, best friend Van and cute lesbian writer Amelia, help her find her way through her grief and her loneliness. The online chats sometimes get in the way, but the plotting and characterizations are strong. Her meandering path to coming out as a lesbian to her father is a particularly strong part of the novel. Although the ending is a bit pat, animal lovers will enjoy Colby’s relationship with the found dog, Mo, in Bigelow’s first book. P8Q7
Kokie, E.M. Personal Effects. 2012. 341p. Candlewick, $16.99. 978-0-7636-5527-3. Ages 13-15: In his homophobic rural community, the loss of Matt’s older brother in Iraq and the abuse of his alcoholic father is nothing to the discovery that his brother was gay. Throughout most of the book, the 17-year-old
developed a fantasy that his brother may have had a child because of the photos in T.J.’s effects, making the shock of reality even worse. Kokie’s debut novel is very dark, with the heavy layers of raw misery covering Matt, yet he finally allows T.J.’s lover to help him through his grief. It is this relationship that allows Matt to escape the traditional definition of being a man that his father forced on him after the death of Matt’s mother. P7Q8
Book Review November 2012 A.G.
Selzer, Adam. Extraordinary*: *the true story of my fairy godparent, who almost killed me, and certainly never made me a princess. NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2011. $15.99 324 pp. ages 11 up ISBN 978-0-385-73649-7 P8/Q8
This is an odd sort of “expose” story. In it, Jennifer quotes part of a (fictional) book that had been published about her where the author had changed everything until it was nearly unrecognizable, claiming that her Fairy Godmother turned her into a Princess after she willingly kissed a vampire boy. Then she sets the story straight about what “really” happened. Jennifer has the usual sort of social problems and competitions going on, but in her world the “post-humans” (vampires and zombies) had “come out of the coffin” some years previously. She belongs to a “post-human”-human alliance that seeks to gain better understanding and smooth over problems between the groups. Then a strange
man shows up who claims to be her “fairy godmofo” and proceeds to “cast spells” and “grant wishes”. Not unlike a genie’s wish-granting, nothing goes to plan, and by the book’s climax Jennifer and her friends are madly spreading the school gym with unicorn manure to prevent a dance from being held. The book is lighthearted and funny, and doesn’t get too embroiled in either the school social muck
or idealize the supernatural. It may appeal to readers who like vampire romances, but this one definitely has an odd twist.
Book Reviews for Oct. 2012 [Reviewer not named]
Parish, Herman. Illus. by Lynne Avril. Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote. NY: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins), 2012. $16.99 ages 4-8 ISBN 978-0-06-209405-6 P8/Q8
This Amelia Bedelia story explores elections, using a class’s vote on class rules as the focus. A number of election-related words are introduced, playing on their double meanings (run, as in run in the hall; office, as in principal’s office; tie, as in something the principal wears, etc.). As an introduction to the idea of elections, this is a simple one, one that does not get into current politics or issues. The
illustrations are classic, both colorful and friendly. It could be a fun way for teachers of younger grades to introduce the topic during this election year.
DeGroat, Diane & Rotner, Shelley. Homer. NY: Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2012. $15.99 ages 3-7 ISBN 978-0-545-33272-9 P9/Q8
Young Alex has a love of baseball, and a dog named Homer. While Alex sleeps, Homer slips out to play in his own species’ baseball game. This adorable book tells a simple tale of a baseball game, played by dogs. The illustrations (both authors also illustrate) are a combination of photographs of dogs and colorful drawings. The vocabulary, font and limited number of words make it a good choice for beginning readers.
McNamara, Margaret. Illus. by Mark Fearing. The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot. NY: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011. $16.99 ages 4-8 ISBN 978-0-375-86689-0 P9/Q9
Three little aliens are set out in the universe to find their own planet. Their mother warns them about the Big Bad Robot. Clearly, the story parallels “The Three Little Pigs,” but with a space motif. The illustrations are colorful and amusing, and those of the planets in the Solar System are reasonably accurate. Read-alouds will have to imagine how to pronounce “Nklxwcyz” and will have fun
with the robot sound effects.
Repka, Janice. The Clueless Girl’s Guide to Being a Genius. NY: Dutton’s Children’s Books, 2011. $16.99 218 pp. ages 8-12 ISBN 978-0-525-42333-1 P/8 Q/7
Aphrodite Wigglesmith (yes, the author must have had fun choosing names) is a 13-year-old math teacher of 13-year-olds. Awkward! Aphrodite is a math genius, recognized at the age of 4 and has graduated from Harvard with a degree in Mathematics, and is now working on her thesis. Her belief is that anyone can be taught math, and she’s found this job so she can prove it. Naturally, she makes
missteps, some of them only a 13-year-old could make (like gluing the students to their chairs, quite literally, but misreading that the time they would stick wasn’t 50 minutes but 500 minutes). Eventually, Aphrodite not only makes friends with one of the students and receives some “makeover” advice from her, but manages to teach math to the class. I would know a lot more about this process of pages 59-90 were not missing from this copy [Hint to publishers: Be sure the review books are complete!] Nevertheless, the story has a surprising and satisfying climax (after p. 91) and proves that anyone can learn math, and that immature “geniuses” can also learn the common touch.
Patron, Susan. Behind the Masks: The Diary of Angeline Reddy, Bodie, California, 1880. (Dear America series). NY: Scholastic Press, 2012. $12.99 293 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-545-30437-5 P/8 Q/8
This mystery is set in a gold mining town in California, a real place that is now a ghost town, near Yosemite and the Nevada border. At the time of the story, 1880, the town is booming but well established, filled with people from a variety of places around the world, including a large Chinese population. Angeline, who writes the “diary”, is a normal girl of her day, writing about the people and events of her town, but especially about the mystery of the recent death of her father, which she just cannot accept. With the help of a 12-year-old Chinese-American girl and a Wells Fargo detective, Angeline finds out about the kind of corruption that ruled many small towns of the day. It’s the drama put on by the “Horribles” theatrical troupe that pulls together the solution to the mystery (hence the title
about masks). The book contains a healthy amount of information about and atmosphere of the old California mining towns, and includes at the end a historical after note and photographs, as well as directions for making masks the way they were made in the 1880’s.
Geithner, Carole. If Only. NY: Scholastic Press, 2012. $16.99 327 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-545-23499-3 P/ 7 Q/ 8
Thirteen-year-old Corinna’s mother just died of cancer, and she’s having a hard time coping. The story follows her entry into eighth grade and the ways in which her grieving touches her schoolwork, her friendships, and other parts of her life. Gradually she comes to terms with her mother’s life and death by writing in her own journal, and by reading her mother’s journal and letters from her mother’s friends. The entire story involves dealing with the grieving process, and was written by a counselor. It should be helpful for young people going through grieving, but also for students and adults who want to support and understand the process. The girl’s coping is positive, rather than angry, and includes some
helpful strategies while focusing on the very social life of an 8th grader. The story finishes on a bright note as Corinna visits Japan with her father, to the family with whom her mother had stayed when she was in high school, and learns some cross-cultural methods of honoring those who have passed.
Gensler, Sonia. The Revenant. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. $16.99 322 pp. ISBN 978-0-375-86701-9 P/8 Q/8
Essentially a murder mystery and a ghost story, this is set in Indian Territory in 1896 (now Oklahoma) in the Cherokee Nation. (A “revenant” is a ghost.) A young white woman who hasn’t finished her own schooling poses as another woman so she can get out of town, fast. She is mourning the death of her father, and angry at her mother for remarrying. Willie/Angeline takes a job offered to a friend (easier in a day without photo ID and Facebook) and travels from Tennessee. Her love of the theater gets her involved in the Cherokee Female Seminary in a way that can include all of the students, of whatever age and class. The story particularly underlines the prejudices and class distinctions of the day and place, where poor full-blood Cherokees took a backseat to those who were better off and thought highly of their station. The names of the people are familiar Cherokee names. The hyper-awareness of class distinctions is familiar to me from my own family’s history in that area (my great-greatgrandmother
attended the Cherokee Female Seminary), prejudices that are particular to that time in history, and I don’t think that the author is inaccurate, though she obviously sees them from the perspective of an outsider. The characters are interesting and sympathetic, and the story has a satisfying conclusion. As a way to understand a small part of history, it does a satisfactory job, while also being entertaining.
Hiranandani, Veera. The Whole Story of Half a Girl. NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2012. $16.99 209 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-385-74128-
6 P8 Q8
Fifth grader Sonia has gone to Community School all her life. It’s a progressive school, with exciting teachers and curriculum, but it costs more money than her parents can afford now that her father has lost his job. Suddenly she is thrown into the world of public school, where her unusual cultural background is questioned (she is half east Indian and half Jewish). The new middle school she attends has a cheerleading squad, and she manages to make it on—as an alternate. The story is primarily a social drama, exploring mixed heritages, public vs private schools, class distinctions, as well as the emotional fall-out of unemployment. The characters are believable, and sympathetic. It’s a quick read that should appeal especially to middle school girls.
November 2012 Book Reviews
NHS Student Reviewers
Fagan, Deva. Circus Galacticus. Harcourt Children’s Books, New York, 2011. $16.99 ISBN: 78-0547581361 304 p. Gr.8-12 This book is written in first person dialog. Betrix has been feeling alone and boring ever since her parents died. Walking down the hallway of her school, one of her classmates tauntingly suggests that she join the circus that’s come to town. The next day, the school takes a field trip, and she meets the mysterious Ringmaster, tech-savant Nola, and pretentious Sirra, but is there more to this batch of performers than it seems? She sets out with the mysterious Circus Galacticus and all its
performers, hoping to finally find her place. This book is fun and creative. Well-written, I found it easy to follow the plotline and engaging for the reader. Review by AM, NHS 10th grader
Van Cleave, Ryan G. Unlocked. Walker Childrens, London, UK, 2011. $15.99 ISBN-13: 978-0802721860 176 p. Gr. 7-12 Andy the Janitor’s son and an outcast, becomes friends with Blake, who was a previously a popular kid. A rumor soon goes around school that Blake has a gun in his locker. Trying to impress a girl, Andy steals the keys from his dad to open Blake’s locker and discovers the gun is missing. Andy finds out that Blake does have the gun and may have plans to use it. The book was very easy to read. It had a lot of suspense that kept me focused on the story. Review by RV, NHS 9th grader
Mead, Richelle. The Golden Lily: A Bloodlines Novel. Razorbill, New York, 2012. $6.99 ISBN-13: 978-1595143181417 p. Gr. 9-12 This second book in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series continues the saga of the Alchemist Sydney, the Moroi princess-in-hiding Jill and the Moroi assistant Adrian. Sydney, a loyal Alchemist, has begun to question her family’s belief in light of several events. Betrayals of the vampires she has truly grown to like are seen to be loyalty to her Alchemist family. Her Moroi friends must learn to trust one another and form bonds. Sydney learns more about herself, and realizes that family may not always deserve your absolute loyalty. I liked the plot and the characters and found them to be easy to relate to. Review RC, NHS 9th grader
Book Reviews J.T. NIS
Marsalis, Wynton. Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! 2012. 34p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-3991-4. Ages 3 and up, P7Q7
Everyday sounds made to music. This book is wonderfully illustrated, but I would like to see this book as a read along audio book. I would think that it would give the early reader a better connection with the sounds and the music. Without the audio it may be hard for those early readers to make connections with what they are reading.
Greenwood, Mark. The Greatest Liar on Earth: A True Story. 2012. 32p. Candlewick Press, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-6155-7. Ages 7 and up, P8Q7
This book is about a con artist who told fictitious stories and made himself famous. Eventually people figured out he wasn’t telling the truth and he became the Greatest Liar, but not before he was able to meet the Queen of England, have a likeness of himself made at Madame Tussauds, and enchant crowds of people with his fabulous stories. The end of the book has a fact checker. The last few pages supply facts that back up Louis’ stories. The question that the reader has at the end…did the events really happen to Louis or was he repeating the stories he read?
Alko, Selina. B is for Brooklyn. 2012. 38p. Henry Holt and Company, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9213-4. Ages 3 and up, P8Q8
Selina Alko mixes the old and new of Brooklyn in this alphabet book. Loved the use of mixed media in this book and how the artwork is a collage of pieces. This book is a wonderful reference to Brooklyn’s culture and diversity. I will add this to my collection of alphabet books.
Marley, Cedella. Every Little Thing. 2012. 30p.Chronicle Books, $16.99. ISBN: 978-1-4521-0697-7. Ages 3 and up, P9Q9
Based on Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds,” Cedella Marley (daughter of Bob Marley) writes a wonderful book about how life’s troubles shouldn’t get you down. There will be sunshine after the rain (unless you live in Oregon) and life is tough, but it will be all right in the end. The artwork in this book is wonderful and memorable.
McDonald, Megan. Judy Moody’s Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super-Sleuths. 2012. 96p. Candlewick Press, $4.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5941-7. Ages 6 and up, P8Q8
Fun and interactive. This book reminds me of the one Encyclopedia Brown book that I read. The mini-mysteries in this book are told, the reader has time to try to figure it out, then the answer is given. There are places where the reader can record their ideas and fun activities that they can complete. This book would make a great gift to any kid detective.
Clifton, Lutricia. Freaky Fast Franky Joe. 2012. 248p. Holiday House, $16.95. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2367-5. Ages 8 and up, P9Q9
When Frankie Joe’s mom makes some poor decisions and goes to jail, he has to move to Illinois to live with his dad and his family. His dad has three sons (that do not want another brother) and a wife. Frankie feels lost and home sick. He wants desperately to return to Texas to be with his mom and so he decides to earn money to run away. He starts the Freaky Fast delivery service. This is a wonderful story about family, love, and learning when to let go of the past. Be advised…you will need Kleenex.
Ylvisaker, Anne. Button Down. [series] 2012. 177p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-5396-5. Ages 8-12, P8Q8
The Buttons are back! Ned Buttons wants to be a great football player like the local legend Lester Ward. Since he is small for his age, the other boys won’t let Ned or his friends play. With his Granddaddy Ike’s help he and his friends learn how to play football. Ned has many challenges in this book including a sad ending (tissue box recommended), but he learns a great deal about himself and his family.
Baker, Kim. Pickle. 2012. 236p. Roaring Brook Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-1-59643-765-4. Ages 8 and up, P8Q7
After Ben pulls off a prank at his school, he decides to form a club. His best friend Hector can’t be trusted to be in the club (his grandmother is the principal), so Ben finds new friends to join him. They form the League of Pickle Makers, which gets funding by the PTA! The Pickle Makers is their cover club, so that they can gain access to the school after hours. The Prank Club learns about friendship, trust, leadership, and surprisingly develops an interest in pickling. This funny book will grab reader’s attention and hopefully won’t give them any ideas!
Tolan, Stephanie S. Applewhites at Wit’s End. [series] 2012. 253p. Harper Collins, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-057938-8. Grade 5 and up, P7Q8
“The end of the world” has happened to the Applewhites. The Applewhites’ financial advisor has stolen all of their money and they are now broke. How does a group of creative, artistic people solve their money dilemma? They create a summer school for creative children. As a family they learn to work together not just with each other, but also with their students. In the end they are a success, but it takes a lot of work to get there. I have many students that I know will enjoy this book.
Valente, Catherynne M. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. [series] 2012. 258p. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0- 312-64962-3. Ages 10 and up, P8Q7
September has left her shadow in Fairyland. Her shadow, Halloween, has taken over Fairyland below and is stealing everyone’s shadow. September must go on a quest to find a way to stop her shadow from destroying a place she loves. This book was hard to read at times and I had a hard time creating the pictures of her descriptions in my head. I felt that this book needed more pictures to help the
reader get a better idea of what the author is describing.
Pennypacker, Sara. Summer of the Gypsy Moths. 2012. 275p. Harper Collins, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-196420-6. Ages 8-12, P8Q9
Oil and water is how Louise describes the two 12-year-old girls living with her. Stella is her great-niece and has an unreliable mother who has been sent to jail for neglect. The other girl, Angel, is a foster girl that Louise has taken in. Both girls find it best to ignore the other until Louise dies. Instead of reporting the death and going back to foster care, they bury Louise in the garden, and try desperately to survive on their own. This is a wonderful book about finding friendship, learning about love and loss, and watching the girls become sisters. I wish for a different ending for the girls, but the ending does work.
McDonald, Megan. Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm. 2012. 157p. Candlewick Press, $15.99. ISBN: 978-0-7636-3451-3. Ages 6 and up, P8Q8
Judy Moody has a good luck penny. She believes that every good thing that happens is because of her penny. The penny seems to work until she loses her chance to go to Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee. Her classmate who wins the trip asks Judy to come with her to Washington and pig sit. This would be a great book to use in teaching students about voice. McDonald writes in a way that the reader can relate to the character and find humor in Judy’s misadventures.
Hunter, Erin. Survivors: The Empty City. 2012. 275p. Harper Collins, $16.99. ISBN: 978-0-06-210256-0. Ages 8 and up, P8Q7
This is the first book that I have read by this author. My niece is a huge fan of the Warrior series. The Survivors is her new series and the main characters are dogs. The author tells the story through a dog’s point of view embedding the story with myth of the Big Growl and how the dogs came to be. In the story an earthquake destroys a city and all of the humans (longpaws) have disappeared. The dogs must find a way to survive. I believe that my students would love this book. I was really bothered by the double spacing in this book and wonder if all of her books are written like this. I am not a fan, but know that this book will not stay on my shelf.
Book Review By Lexi
Mobley, Jeannie. Katerina’s Wish. 2012. 256p. Simon and Schuster, $15.99. ISBN: 978-1-4424-3343-4. Ages 8-12, P9Q9
Katerina is a miner’s daughter who finds a wishing fish. She doesn’t believe that it is a wishing fish, but her family’s and her wishes come true. This book is about perseverance and never giving up. Katerina’s Wish is a wonderful addition to any library. This easygoing book is fun to read and appropriate for all children. It’s definitely hard to tell that this hopeful miner’s daughter is just a fictional character. Katerina is the kind of girl that anyone wants around and by the second chapter; you want to meet her yourself.
Book Review December 2012 – C.B
Crossan, Sarah, Breathe, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2012, 371 pgs., $17.99. ISBN:978-0-06-211869-1, Gr. 7th, P 8, Q 8,
In this dystopian novel the world’s population exists under large domes where oxygen is manufactured. The worlds’ oceans and trees have been decimated totally from the Earth. That is what the survivors in the dome have been told. There is another group living outside the dome and they are training so that they can live in the world’s atmosphere. They are also secretly growing trees that can be reintroduced to world. I have read other dystopian books that have worlds that live under domes but this one stands out. As tension and between the two different societies clash can the world be changed once again? I will find this out in the next book in the series.
Frost, Mark, The Paladin prophecy, Random House, New York, 2012, 549 pgs., ISBN:978-0-375-87045-3, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,
This is Mark Frost’s first book of a new series. Mark is the executive producer of the television show “Twin Peaks.” This science fiction novel will take the reader on a journey in the life of Will West, who has abilities that the average person doesn’t have. His parents have always told him to stay under the radar so that his abilities cannot be discovered. All goes well till the day that black car starts to chase him and his mother is changed into someone that he knows is no longer his mother. This is a fast paced adventure that has me anxiously waiting for the next book in the series.
Lean, Sarah, A dog called homeless, Katherine Tegen Books, New York, 2012, 202
pgs. $16.99. ISBN:978-0-06-212220-9, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,
When I was only 7 my father passed away. I was living in Oregon at the time and he was in Wyoming. At school for show and tell time and I remember getting up and sharing that he passed away. Now years later I realize how really odd that was. I didn’t understand death and I found myself looking for answers as I grew older. Several books that I have read deal with a child dealing with death and in this book Cally Fisher is looking too. Her family is fragmented and all are trying to cope with her mother’s death.
When a homeless dog starts to appear to Cally starts to see her dead mother, who materializes to her in a red coat. She knows that the dog and her mother are connected; she just has to figure out what the two have in common. This book deals with a family who must overcome their grief so that they may come together in the end and be rewarded with a wonderful gift.
Lloyd, Saci, Momentum, Holiday House, New York, 2011, 215 pgs. $16.95, ISBN:978-0-
8234-2414-6, Gr. 9, P 8, Q 9,
Action, action, action that is my most favorite thing about this book, I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. Set in the future where power is the most essential commodity in England and the world. Hunter is a citizen of the city where he has all the privileges that go with citizenship granted to him. Uma is from the other side of the tracks, per say, where the populace seek to find alternative power and to be more self-sufficient. As the two factions battle each other Hunter comes to realize that there is more in the world than the city and those in power.
Martin, C. K. Kelly, Yesterday, Random House, New York, 2012, 353 pgs., $16.99,
ISBN:978-0-375-86650-0, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,
In the future,2053, our world is vastly different but one thing that does not change is war. A war that will decimate everything and the only hope is to travel to the past, 1980’s in Taranto, Canada. Here your mind will be changed and a new one put in its place. Freya Kallas has this happen to her but she knows that things are not right and she determined to find the answers to this mystery. Plot twists, action, and two protagonists who together are determined to survive make this book one that reader will
McCormick, Patricia, Never fall down, Blazer + Bray, New York, 2012, 216 pgs.,$17.99, ISBN:978-0-06-173093-1, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 9+,
In the 60’s and the 70’s I saw on television Americans fighting in Vietnam. Years later I remember seeing on the news a report on Cambodia and the new threat to this region called the Khmer Rouge. “Never fall down” is a fictionalized story based on true events affecting a Cambodian boy, Arn Chorn-Pond, the main character in this book. After being marched out of his city and separated from his family he survived to make it to the United States. This book should be in all high school and public libraries.
Morpurgo, Michael, Shadow, Fewel and Friends, New York, 2010, 180 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:978-0-312-60659-6, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
When the Twin Towers had two planes that were flown into them, I remember having tears run down my face and not even realizing that I was crying. It was not long after that we went to war in Afghanistan to get those who were responsible for the terrorism. What I never thought about were the ones who helped the United States and then were punished by the Taliban for doing so. Arman, a 6 year-old boy, is an example of those whose family were punished. With the aid of a stray dog he and his mother were able to escape to England. Entering England illegally, it isn’t till Arman is 14 years-old that he and his mother are arrested, detained, and are to be sent back to Afghanistan. Matt begs his grandfather, a former newspaper reporter to visit, Arman and his mother. When Arman sees a picture of a dog, who looks like Shadow, he relates the horrors of the war to Matt’s grandfather. A look at the other side of war is always a learning experience but in this case it is also a measure of love for a dog and his owner.
Oliver, Lauren, Spindlers, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, Harper, New York, 2012, 246 pgs., $16.99, ISBN: 978-0-06-197808-1, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 9,
I love fantasy stories especially one that is action packed and offers an adventure. “Spindlers” is just such a book, when Liza realizes that her little brother, Patrick, is just not himself, her adventure begins. Liza goes down into a world that is inhabited by magic rats and beings and she is determined to find her brother’s soul and return it to him. This is a book that a younger audience will enjoy as Liza battles evil so that the good will prevail.
Stanley, Diane, The cup and the crown, Harper, New York, 2012, 344 pgs., $16.99,
ISBN:978-0-06-196321-6, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
The cup and the crown is the sequel to the book “The silver bowl” and it stands alone on its own merit. Molly, the protagonist in the first book, is having more visions of a love cup and a young man whom she has never seen. The king requests that she find one of her father’s love cups and bring it back to his kingdom, so that he may find his true love. What she finds instead is a hidden city and its inhabitants, from whom she is descended. This hidden city will not let her leave and will surely kill her friends so that the city can remain a secret. Molly is a strong young woman who uses her mind and strength to escape the city and rescue her friends.
Trueman, Terry, Life happens next, Harper Teen, New York, 2012, 132 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:978-0-06-202803-7, Gr. 9+, P 8, Q 9,
Shawn McDaniel first appeared as a character in the book “Stuck in neutral” here he was portrayed as a young boy with cerebral palsy. His case is so severe that he has no way of communicating with anyone as he cannot control any of his body movements. He is unable to talk or able to write–he is trapped in his own body. He is very smart but in school Shawn is in a self-contained classroom for learning disabled students. Shawn, is now fifteen years-old, and he has desires and dreams like any boy would at his age. When his brother falls for the same girl, he is heartbroken, he is angry at his brother and angry at his circumstances. There is a slightly religious tone to the book that is related to his cousin, who had Down Syndrome, she has died and is unable to move on till she speaks to Shawn. I have a son who injured his neck. I too could have a son who was in wheel chair and who would have been unable to move. This is a great book that gives a “normal” person a glimpse into a disabled person’s life.
Welsh, M. L., Heart of stone, David Fickling Books, Oxford, 2012, 409 pgs. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-385-75243-5, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,
Verity Gallant is the protagonist in the first book “Mistress of the storm” and of this series, Verity Gallant Tales. She is now content as she has had a perfect summer sailing with her friends on beautiful sunny days. But it won’t stay that way for long and it is up to Verity and her friends to save the town of Wellow and all the stories that are stored in the town’s library. If they fail to save the stories, then life on earth will be changed forever. This book is one that I plan to promote to the students in my school.
McDonnell, Patrick, The monsters’ monster, illustrations by Patrick McDonnell, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2012, unp. $16.99, ISBN:978-0-316-04547-6, Gr. 1+, P. 8, Q. 9,
Halloween is almost here and I was searching for a book to read aloud to my students. Boy was I glad to find this book and one that isn’t scary but rather one that finds joy in life. Three monsters live in a castle overlooking a nearby town. The three little monsters are determined to create a new big monster who will frighten the townspeople. Instead they create a being who sees joy in the world. The illustrations which are by the author are muted grays and brown at the start of the book and then turn light and brighter after the monster’s creation. This is a fanciful tale that younger students will enjoy.
December 2012 Book Reviews by D.T.
Bell, Cece, Illus. Ratzede Tagyos, Paul, Rabbit & Robot, The Sleepover. Candlewick Press, 2012; 50 pages. $14.99 Q. 8 P. 9 FICTION
This is one of a series of books about Rabbit & Robot, much in the same spirit and reading level of Frog and Toad. Because I am cynical about books mimicking the already wonderful series of Frog and Toad, I was ready to find the quality of this book mediocre. Much to my surprise I found it to be entertaining and engaging both for my four-year-old son and me, so much so that he asked me to read it to him over and over again. There are four chapters in this book, one chapter for each thing that rabbit plans for he and Robot to do on their sleepover. They make pizza, watch TV, play go fish, and then go to bed. Rabbit wants to make his pizza with carrots and cabbage and robot wants his with nuts, bolts and hardware… thus the conflict and the source of humor when they try to work out their disagreements. It is appropriate for advanced young readers who are at K through first grade reading level, or struggling readers up to the seventh grade as it is full of entertaining illustrations on each page, the vocabulary is simple, and there is humor; all things that will keep a struggling reader’s attention, leading them through the experience of reading a first chapter book. It is also appropriate for reading aloud one chapter at a time before bedtime to younger pre-readers. I love this book because it makes me and my kid laugh!
Knudson, Michelle, Illus. Magoon, Scott, Big Mean Mike. Candlewick Press, 2012;
picture book. $15.99 Q. 8 P. 9 FICTION
In this illustrated children’s book, a unique perspective is taken from the point of view of a bully named Big Mean Mike. This is what makes it effective. The book starts by announcing that Mike is the meanest, toughest dog in the whole neighborhood. This is a way to get some resistant and tough-to-please readers into a story about a guy who likes monster trucks and acting too cool for school. Readers who can relate to this main character, such as boys who might usually not want to read, invites such readers in a way that will get them interested. The main character wears a leather jacket, a spikey dog collar and combat boots. His car is purple with a mean paint job complete with flames and chrome hubcaps. The book gets interesting when fuzzy bunnies start showing up in Big Mean Mike’s car, and he can’t seem to get rid of them, much to his embarrassment. Finally, when the bunnies show up in his car at a monster truck show Mike is forced to realize his compassionate nature when he realizes it won’t be safe to leave the bunnies in his car alone. He brings them along to the monster truck show, and discovers that they are great company. When other dogs try to tease him he says, “Yeah? You got a problem with that?” After that Mike doesn’t go anywhere without his fuzzy bunny friends. The simple yet effective nature of this story makes it ideal for new readers, and students grades pre-3, particularly boys who might be showing signs of a bullying nature, as it will give them permission to get in touch with their kinder, gentler side and still be cool. I recommend this book because it has a lesson, and it tells a great story for kids who might usually not want to read in a way that will get them interested.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Dec. 2012 Reviews by M.D.
Casanova, Mary. “The Klipfish Code.” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Boston. New York. 2007. 227 pgs. middle and high school. $6.99. 978-0-547-74447-6. p8/q8
The cover has a Nazi symbol so that might bring in young historical fiction readers. The story takes place in 1940 in Norway after the Nazi’s invade. Marit and her brother are sent to live with their aunt and uncle on Goday Island While their parents help with the resistance. The story has intrigue, suspense and hardship as their aunt who is also their teacher is taken away and they aid an injured resistance worker. I liked how brave the children in this story were and how they solved very difficult situations. I think this book would be a great way for a history teacher to bring this period alive for students.
Moore, Wes. “Discovering Wes Moore.” Delacorte Press. New York. 2012. 159 pgs. $15.99. middle and high school. 978-0-385-74167-5. p7/q7
This is a true story of two different paths. The author went to Johns Hopkins University, served as a paratrooper in the Army and was a Rhode Scholar. The other Wes ended up in jail on death row. The book has black and white photos of both boys and the story ends with resources to help youth make better choices in life. This story has several different topics and could be a great resources and inspiration for all different kinds of students.
Myers,Walter Dean. “All The Right Stuff.” Harper Collins Publishers. New York. 2012. 213 pgs. $17.99. middle and high school. 978-0-06-196087-1 p7/q8
I like the small size of this book which encourages some reluctant readers pick up the book and read. This book is a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature winner. The subject matter is a little deep as the characters discuss “The Social Contract.” Paul is volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping an unwed mother hone her basketball skills and trying to figure out what Elijah is talking about. I enjoyed the deep conversation about our responsibilities as citizens. Paul must decide if he believes the local gang member Sly or Elijah about life and our responsibilities. Paul’s father was shot in a random act of violence and Paul is also struggling with finding his place in Harlem. There are many topics discussed in this small book- un-wed pregnancy, loss of parent, gang membership, cooking, volunteering and the social contract.” This would be a great book for a government class.