Book review: Big Brother Peanut Butter, by Terry Border

Border, Terry. Big Brother Peanut Butter. Philomel Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781524740061. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P8 Q8

What does it meant to be a big brother? Peanut Butter’s parents tell him he is going to be a big brother. This leads Peanut Butter on a journey to figure out what it means to be a big brother. He tries to be as good as his friends Apple Pie, Cucumber, and Cheese. From his conversation with Jelly, he realizes he doesn’t have to change who he is, he just has to love his new brother or sister. As Peanut Butter and Jelly return to his house, he hears a baby crying. Is it twins or more? A section of the text is repetitive, which emphasizes that Peanut Butter wants to be a good brother. The illustrations are actual pictures of food with wire to make them into characters. Food related humor adds to the story.

Verdict: This fun, read aloud is perfect for children who are expecting a sibling. Loving others is the best thing one can do. I recommend this book for libraries for elementary aged children.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

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Book review: Pasando Páginas: La historia de me vida, by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, translated by Teresa Mlawer

Sotomayor, Sonia. Pasando Páginas: La historia de me vida. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. Translated by Teresa Mlawer. Philomel Books, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780525515494. Unpaged. Ages 7-10. P9 Q10

In the Spanish version of Turning Pages: My Life Story, Sonia Sotomayor shares the story of her life and all she experiences that leads up to her becoming the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. In the English edition, she explains the meaning of cultural words while in the Spanish version, no explanation is needed. In the English edition, it mentions the Catholic High School she attended while the Spanish edition omits it. The phrases in the Spanish edition create a more positive message, for example, the English edition reads, “Fix and try harder to be better” while the Spanish edition reads, “Put things right and try harder.” The ending differs in the following way, “It is what I am” and “This is my responsibility.” The translator took liberty with sentence structure and wording. While the words are not exactly the same, the same image appears in one’s mind. The idiomatic phrases are unique to each language. The words in the Spanish edition flows better than the English edition, even though the English edition was written first. Having read both the English and Spanish editions, I would prefer the Spanish edition since it comes across as warmer and more familial in Spanish. The illustrations are the same in both editions and work equally well.

Verdict: This book contains a lot of information and may be difficult for some children to read. Children may not gravitate on their own to this book, but they may find it interesting if an adult read it to them. This is an inspirational book on starting out with very little and creating, with hard work, a life that greatly influences others. I recommend this book for elementary school libraries.

September 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Boying Up: How To Be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant, by Mayim Bailik

Bailik, Mayim.  Boying Up: How To Be Brave, Bold, and Brilliant. Philomel Books, 2018. $18.99. ISBN 9780525515975. 200 pages.  Ages 12+. P7 Q9

The journey through puberty can be awkward, embarrassing, and confusing. Do you wish you had a handbook to guide you through it? Well now you do! Bailik writes in a simple relatable way, but at the same time, she packs the book full of helpful information. She covers how boys’ bodies work, how they grow, learn, love, cope, and matter. She includes the importance of education and why school is valuable, but at the same time she validates a variety of paths boys can take after high school including college, military, trade school, and work. I appreciate the fact that she emphasizes that boys need to have consent before they engage in sex, which is important. Illustrations include realistic simple sketches of a variety of penises and scrotums, the male and female reproductive systems, and different body types. This book is very well rounded. While scientific, it is still easy to read and understand. The last chapter delves into how boys’ matter, featuring six men who matter and how they made the world a better place. Bailik writes, “Part of the process of Boying Up and becoming a young man who is compassionate, kind and confident involves finding ways to make impacting others in a positive way a significant part of your life.”

Verdict: I don’t know if boys would actually pick up this book and read it, but if they did, it would provide them with valuable information. Parents may want to read it with their boys as they are starting the journey through puberty. I highly recommend this book for personal libraries, middle school and high school libraries along with the public library.

May 2018 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: An Uninterrupted View of the Sky, by Melanie Crowder

Crowder, Melanie. An Uninterrupted View of the Sky. Philomel Books, 2017. 289 pgs. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0-399-16900-7. Gr. 9+. P8 Q8

In Bolivia, in 1999, Francisco is a young man in high school at this time. His father owns a car and runs a taxi service, his mother works and his younger sister attends elementary school. The day his father is arrested for a minor traffic violation is the day that all their lives change. Francisco’s father’s taxi is confiscated and he is thrown into prison. Days later the children wake up and their mother has abandoned them which leads to them going to the prison and living with their father. Every day they leave by the gates and go to school and at night they must return before the gates are locked. It is only at the end of the story that Francisco and his little sister are safe as they go into the mountains to live with their grandparents.

Verdict: A very realistic look into the corruption of the Bolivian government in 1999 and the impact it had on families.

June 2018 review by Carol Bernardi.

Book review: The Caldera, by John Flanagan

Flanagan, John. The Caldera. (Brotherband Chronicles, #7) Philomel Books, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-0399163586. 432p. Gr.7+. P9 Q7

 

 

Fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series will love this latest installment in the companion series, Brotherband Chronicles. This one has pirates, Vikings, and lots of nonstop action.  There’s really nothing in this series that is objectionable, so parents should encourage their kids to read them.  They are a great way to escape!

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Lone Stars, by Mike Lupica

Lupica, Mike. Lone Stars. Philomel Books, 2017. 240p. $17.99.  ISBN: 978-0399172809. Gr. 7-9. P6 Q8

This book is about Clay, a young boy who overcomes his fear of playing football.  He and his friend Maddie also take time to help the coach (a former Dallas Cowboys player) cope with traumatic brain injuries he suffered while playing pro football.

Verdict: I liked this book; it’s an easy read that will appeal to anyone who is interested in sports.

April 2018 review by NHS student.

[Editor’s note: Other reviewers noted that, unlike other books by Mike Lupica, the sports action sometimes takes a back seat to emotional issues off the field. Unfortunately, the decision to have the children hide the coach’s symptoms may also hide some of the effects of cumulative brain traumas.  This new book by a well-known sports writer brings awareness to a growing problem for school and professional football programs.]

Book review: Edie Is Ever So Helpful!, by Sophy Henn

Henn, Sophy. Edie Is Ever So Helpful! Philomel Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780399548062. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P7 Q7

We all know children who are so helpful that their help gets in the way. Edie is helpful and exuberant, but her help is loud, busy and sometimes destructive. At the park, she makes sure everyone is having fun. Red dashes show her path throughout the park as she is helping others. While the book is humorous, I wonder if being too helpful is an adult concept and if children will find as much humor in it. I think a child will feel crushed if they think that their help is not appreciated. Children want to make a difference and to be helpful, not criticized for being too helpful. Simple matte water color illustrations match the text.

Verdict: Children will enjoy the various ways Edie tries to help her family. This book that will add some fun to an elementary school libraries and public library.

February 2018 review by Tami Harris.