Book review: Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals, by Nancy Furstinger

Furstinger, Nancy. Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780544879669. 128 pages. Ages 7-14.  Includes index. P7 Q8

Do you love animals and wonder what happens to animals who have injuries? This book contains close to 350 animals who live in the 150-acre sanctuary who have triumphed over sad beginnings. These animals find strength in their differences. While reading these stories of perseverance and hope, readers will meet the caretakers, prosthetists, vets and loving families who help to make the recovery of these remarkable animals possible. These uplifting stories show that physically challenged animals can adapt to almost any circumstance. You can learn more about the animals through online resources. Many of the animals featured in this book have Facebook pages and YouTube videos. The pages are high quality glossy paper with photos of the actual animals. Extra information is inset on the pages.

Verdict: I highly recommend this book for Elementary and middle school aged libraries. The stories are true and inspiring. I bought this book for my 11-year-old niece and she loved it. Since this book has so many stories and tidbits, it is a great book to read in sections.

December 2017 Review by Tami Harris.



Book review: Trickiest! 19 Sneaky Animals, by Steve Jenkins

Jenkins, Steve. Trickiest! 19 Sneaky Animals (Extreme Animals series). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781328841957. 40 pages.  Includes glossary and bibliography. Ages 6-12. P8 Q7

Focusing on nineteen animals, artist Steve Jenkins explains tricky adaptations that help the animals catch prey or escape their predators.  Maps show where each animal lives and their diet. Animal size is illustrated in comparison to a human body or human hand for small animals.  A graphic organizer at the end of the book groups the animals with similar tricks together helping the reader understand which animals are alike in how they catch prey. A bibliography allows the reader to verify the research and facts.

Verdict: It is great to help understand adaptations for animal survival and for learning about animals. I recommend for the library.

January 2018 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Deadliest! 20 Dangerous Animals, by Steve Jenkins

Jenkins, Steve. Deadliest! 20 Dangerous Animals (Extreme Animals series). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781328841704. 40 pages. Includes glossary and bibliography. Ages 6-12. P8 Q7

Steve Jenkins examines twenty deadly animals, exploring what makes them dangerous, what each eats, and a map showing where the animal lives. Animal size is illustrated in comparison to a human body or human hand for the small animals.  Interesting facts about the animals are in colored bubbles. Some of the most interesting and shocking facts were shared in the chart at the end showing the number of people killed by animals each year.  It is surprising which animal has the most effect on people.  A bibliography allows the reader to verify the research and facts.

Verdict: This non-fiction book will be a great addition to the library and children will enjoy learning about the animals.

January 2018 review by Deborah Gwynn.

Book review: Witchtown, by Cory Putman Oakes

Oakes, Cory Putman. Witchtown. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 310 pgs. $17.99. ISBN 9780544765573. Ages 12+. P7Q6

Macie O’Sullivan and her mother Aubra have traveled around from one witch haven (places where witches can live safely) to another for most of Macie’s life, pulling scams and heists. Aubra is a natural witch, and Macie seems to be a void (a person with no magic), a fact which they hide. Macie desperately wants to settle down to a normal life in a loving community, and she think she has her mom convinced to do that after one last big theft. But things aren’t as they seem. What Aubra has told Macie all her life about her lack of magical talent isn’t true, and Aubra has some very dark secrets; she gets what she deserves in the end. There is a bit of romance, a feisty poltergeist who keeps burning down the herb shop, and some other interesting characters. I enjoyed this book, though I felt that the main characters and their motivations could have been developed more fully. I also felt like the title could have been improved- I almost didn’t pick up the book when I first saw it, largely because the title sounded simplistic.

VERDICT: Teen readers who are interested in magic and modern witches will probably like this book.

December 2017 review by Carol Schramm.

Book review: Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest, by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Keith Ellenbogen

Montgomery, Sy. Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest. Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen. (Scientist in the Field series) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $18.99. ISBN 9780544352995. 65 pages.  Includes selected bibliography, web resources, and index. P7Q8

When Scott Dowd of Boston’s New England Aquarium first came to Barcelos to study the cardinal tetras and other aquarium fish to be exported from the dark, tannin-rich waters of Brazil’s Rio Negro, he was appalled by what he saw as drastic overfishing.  Further study brought him to the conclusion that the people who fished for the piabas—the brightly colored tiny fishes exported for the aquarium trade—were actually protecting the river and watershed from deforestation and the goldmining that plagues much of the Amazon’s rainforest.  Sy Montgomery, author of 20 books for adults and children, explores Brazil’s Rio Negro along with photographer Keith Ellenboggen to understand the relationship between the humans who collect the many small, brightly colored fishes and the ecosystem that produces the fishes.  Scientists from Project Piaba work with the fishers—the piabeiros—to safeguard the fisheries and protect the watershed.

Note: Scientists from Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon are mentioned.

Verdict: The book is divided, with approximately half devoted to the ecology and the work of scientists and the other half exploring the piabeiros and the towns that depend on the fisheries.  As with all of the Scientist in the Field series, the layout is appealing, with maps, sidebars explaining additional aspects of the topic.  The science is sound, with the acknowledgement of problems to be faced.  Highly recommended for school and public library collections and for middle school STEM classroom collections.

September 2017 review by Jane Cothron.

Book review: Round, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Sidman, Joyce. Round. Ill. Yoo, Taeeun. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-38761-4. Unpaged. Ages 3-6. P7Q8.

This book examines items that are round in nature mostly but also created or inspired by the coziness beneath a blanket or encircled in loving arms of a circle of friends. The soft peaceful outdoor scenes depict a child with Asian features as she plants peas, peeks at the round eggs of a turtle and a ladybug, blows bubbles, points to tree rings. A huge full moon complements the story wonderfully. The youngster carries a basket of blueberries, explores a beach, canoes past water-rounded rocks, and throws pebbles into a pond. This book is an early invitation to visualize and think about shape and concept. In two pages in the back of the book, Sidman goes on to describe how roundness benefits seeds, eggs, and other living things.

Verdict: this is an excellent picture book to engage and encourage exploration in early years.

May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.

Book review: Frankie, by Mary Sullivan

Sullivan, Mary.  Frankie. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $12.99.  ISBN 9780544611139. Unpaged. Ages 4-10. P8 Q8.

Frankie is the new dog introduced to a home that already has a dog–Nico.  The two dogs go through the struggle of not wanting to share and then they develop a relationship. Cute illustrations have soft borders. The emotions of the dogs are clearly illustrated. The book is written only in think and talk bubbles that change shapes with the emotions expressed, but it is not in the format of the cartoon style of a graphic novel.  The endpapers have cute hearts.

Verdict: This is an adorable book for a young readers and a good addition to a library.

June 2017 review by Deborah Gwynn.