Book review: Winterhouse, by Ben Guterson, illustrated by Chloe Bristol

Guterson, Ben.  Winterhouse.  Illustrated by Chloe Bristol.  Henry Holt and Company, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-250-12388-6. $16.99. 370 pages.  Ages 8-12.  P8Q8

A well written paranormal story (not too scary) based on a discontented teenager who chooses to go her own way instead of taking over the family business and the ramifications of her actions.  Elizabeth is sent by herself to stay at a beautiful hotel over the holiday.  There she discovers the cause of her parent’s death, her mysterious powers, her family roots, and the value of friendship.  I love that the author includes word ladders in every chapter title!

Verdict:  A tame paranormal novel full of mystery and fun, good for the middle grades.

May 2018 review by Terri Lippert

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Book review: Reaper, by Kyra Leigh

Leigh, Kyra. Reaper. Paula Wiseman Books, 2017.  $18.99. ISBN: 978-1481471961. 256p.  Gr.7-9. P8 Q8

One thing you should know right away, before you start reading this book: you will cry. A lot.  Get the tissues handy.  This odd tale is about a girl who dies but will be stuck in the revolving door between life and death until she goes back to earth and collects 3 souls as a Reaper.  Disregarding the rules for proper reaper behavior, she falls in love with a live being. Sort of predictable, but her character is so real that it is still interesting.  There were a lot of times where the book seemed like a drier version of my favorite show, “Dead Like Me.”  I’m not sure it would help someone who was grieving over a death, but it did remind me to look hard at my relationships and to treasure each day.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book reviews: Pig and Pug, words by Lynn Berry, pictures by Gemma Correll

Berry, Lynn. Pig and Pug. Pictures by Gemma Correll. Simon & Schuster, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4814-21317. $16.99. Ages 4-8. P7Q6

Pig and Pug are each confused what the other is. Pug makes pig angry but in the end they are friends “at least for now.” Repetitive dialog will help early readers successfully enjoy this story.

VERDICT: This story could lead to a discussion about feelings, name calling, and getting angry even if it is among pals.

December 2017 review by Patty Dodson.

Book review: Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines, by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Karl Newsom Edwards

Albee, Sarah. Poison: Deadly Deeds, Perilous Professions, and Murderous Medicines. Illus. by Karl Newsom Edwards. Crown Books, 2017. $17.99. 182p. ISBN 978-1-101-93223-0. Ages 11-14. P9Q9

From BCE through the present, poisonings—both deliberate and accidental—have played an important part in history and culture. Albee gives a sometimes lighthearted but ghoulish view with clear scientific information about poisons along with details about religion, slavery, advertising, medicine, and everyday life because of the easily accessed ingredients such as strychnine and arsenic. Only when scientific advances allowed forensics to identify the substance in bodies did intentional poisonings slow down, but the chemicals can still be found in food, air, and water. Also discussed are the beneficial uses of poisons in small amounts.

Verdict: Great graphics with pops of green throughout the black and white text and illustrations make an inviting subject even more interesting, and the addition of boxes, humor, photographs, and drawings—both cartoons and older illustrations—add to the book’s accessibility. The excellent resource guide beings with the telephone number for the Poison Help Line. Highly recommended for all collections.

January/February 2018 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: I Am Not Angry!, by Marie Eden, illustrated by Amy Mebberson

Eden, Marie. I Am Not Angry! Illustrated by Amy Mebberson. (Disney First Tales Inside out series) Disney Press, 2017. $10.99. ISBN 9781484799772. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P7 Q7

We often see what is happening on the outside, but we don’t usually think about what is happening in our minds. This Disney Tale follows Inside Out characters as they discuss ways to calm angry down. If you are familiar with the Inside Out movie, the book will make sense. If you are not familiar with the movie, the book may seem a bit disjointed. Angry’s friends help him calm down by offering several ideas. While some children may not be able to follow all the dialogue, they will like the colorful pictures and different ideas on how to calm down.

Verdict: If you have a child who gets angry quickly and would like some techniques to calm down, this book offers techniques in a fun way. Recommended for elementary aged children libraries and public libraries.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris

Book review: Georgie’s Best Bad Day, by Ruth Chan

Chan, Ruth. Georgie’s Best Bad Day. (Georgie and Friends series) Roaring Brook Press, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9781626722705. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7 Q7

Georgie the cat is having a bad day and so are his friends. They decide to turn their days around. However, the things they did turned out disastrously. They find the humor in it and laugh. It shows that when our day isn’t going as planned, we can do things to turn it around. This book is in the series of Georgie and Friends books. Children will enjoy the comic illustrations and facial expressions on the animals.

Verdict: I recommend this book for young children’s libraries. It will help children realize that we all have bad days and it is possible to turn things around. The book uses humor and adventure to lighten up a bad day.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing, by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley

Robbins, Dean. Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing. Illus. by Lucy Knisley. Knopf, 2017. $17.99. unp. ISBN 978-0-399-55185-7. Ages 6-9. P7Q8

Millions of people know the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man who walked on the moon in 1969, but far fewer know the name of the women who made his walk possible. Without her software, the Apollo mission could not have landed. Robbins begins the picture book biography with her love of solving problems and follows her career in science after her father’s encouragement. In the 1950s and 1960s, she experimented with writing code to predict weather and track airplanes before she worked for NASA, developing the steps on flying to the moon. Cartoonish ink illustrations colored in Adobe Photoshop accompany the minimal text that explains a complicated process in a simple fashion. Particularly delightful are the signature huge glasses that Hamilton wears. End papers include black and white photographs of the subject, including the almost six-foot tall stack of her documents of code for the project.

Verdict: The illustrations are inviting, but the text is set in all caps in a font simulating hand printing, making it harder to read. Yet the humor and information in the book make it a must read for young people that fills in missing information about the space program a half century ago, especially in its encouragement for girls to pursue careers in science.

May/June 2017 review by Nel Ward.