Book review: Tempests and Slaughter, by Tamora Pierce

Pierce, Tamora. Tempests and Slaughter. “Advance Reader’s Copy.” (The Numair Chronicles, book 1) Random House Books for Young Readers, on sale February 6, 2018. $18.99. [480] pages. ISBN  978-0-375-8471-0. “Ages 12-up.” P8Q8

Fans of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series will welcome this new prequel series about the early life of mage Numair Salmalín, once called Arram Draper.  At the age of 10, Arram becomes a student at the Imperial University of Carthak. The opening scenes with his father and uncle at the Imperial Games introduce Arram to the gladiator Musenda, who saves his life, and begin his lifelong aversion to slavery.  In many ways, Tempests and Slaughter is a fantasy tale in the form of a school story.  Arram faces classroom challenges, dormitory dominance issues, beginning friendships, and growing confidence in his own abilities. Also typical of school stories, Arram’s story focuses on new classes and growing mastery, not on extraordinary quests and tests.  In this first book of a planned trilogy, Pierce introduces major players and conflicts that tie into the later books in the world of Tortall.

Verdict: Highly recommended for public, middle and high school libraries.

January 2017 review by Jane Cothron.


Book review: The Force Oversleeps, by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Krosoczka, Jarrett J. The Force Oversleeps. (Star Wars: Jedi Academy). Scholastic, 2017. $12.99. 174p. ISBN 978-0-545-87574-5. Ages 8-12. P7Q7

In the fifth book of this series, Victor heads back to his second year at boarding school after The New Class with high hopes that he’ll be happier because he has made friends, but Zavyer, a new student, makes him feel less popular, and his older sister, Christine, is accused of being a spy for the dark force Sith. The first three books of the series had a different author and different characters.

Verdict: Younger readers may be disappointed with the black-and-white format and the extensive text (for a graphic novel) from journal entries and pages from the school newspaper. Some of the conflicts are too easily resolved, for example the competition between Victor and Zavyer as well as Christine’s coldness toward him. Victor is also far too self-absorbed and selfish to be a likable protagonist. Yet the science fiction plot draws in the reader, and Victor grows up—sort of. The clearly distinct characters are diverse in color and shape, and the plot is easy to follow.

December 2017 review by Nel Ward

Book review: Back to School with Bigfoot, by Samantha Berger and Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Dave Pressler

Berger, Samantha and Brockenbrough, Martha. Back to School with Bigfoot. Illustrated by Dave Pressler. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9780545859738. Unpaged. Ages 4-8. P7 Q8

Are your children a bit anxious about going back to school? If so, this humorous book about Big Foot is just the book for you. Big Foot shares its worries about going back to school. Everything Big Foot goes through is on a large scale. The illustrations are colorful and full of expression. Children will be able to relate to Big Foot and feel more at ease going back to school. Parents can read this book and let their children share how they are feeling about returning to school.

Verdict: A great addition to any library. Children will realize that school is a place where friends do things together,  study interesting things,  create fun art projects, and go on field trips. This is a good book for teachers to read the first week of school and for parents to read as children are getting ready to return to school.

December 2017 review by Tami Harris

Book review: The Great Art Caper. by Victoria Jamieson

Jamieson, Victoria. The Great Art Caper. (Pets on the Loose! series). Holt, 2017. $7.99. 48p. ISBN 978-1-62779-119-9. Ages 5-9. P9Q8

Class hamster GW (George Washington) joins his friends guinea pig Sunflower and bunny Barry to foil Harriet and her mice minions as these terrors of the second floor set out to ruin the school art show. GW is proud of second-grader Carina because she has the only entry, but Harriet thinks that blaming GW for their destruction will force the three critters out of their classroom cage to St. Bart’s Obedience School for Unruly Pets. Charming illustrations in this comic novel follow the cuddly creatures as they thwart Harriet’s plans, frequently in a silly fashion.

Verdict: Cute without being too saccharine, silly without being stupid. One of the better books about animals for little ones.

Summer 2017 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Sticks and Stones, by Nicole C. Kear, illustrated by Tracy Dockray

Kear, Nicole C. Sticks and Stones. Illustrated by Tracy Dockray. (The Fix-It Friends series) Imprint, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781250085863. 144 pages. Ages 6-9. Book 2 in the Fix-It Friends series. P7 Q7

Veronica helps her friend, Noah, who is being bothered by another student. This book focuses on how to deal with being teased. It includes a tool box with detailed steps on how to handle being teased. Like the first book in the series, The fix-it friends have no fear, this book also includes resources for parents and children. The Fix-It Friends have not fear is a chapter book in the series Fix-it Friends. The author is planning to have six books total in the series. The third book is estimated to be released in September 2017, and books four to six will be released until 2018. The books can be pre-ordered. Each book in the series focuses on an issue children may be dealing with and each book can stand alone.

Verdict: I recommend this book for libraries, classrooms and personal libraries. This book is especially helpful for children who are being teased. As a family advocate, this is a book I will keep in my personal library. I look forward to the other books in the series.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.

Book review: Have No Fear!, by Nicole C. Kear, illustrated by Tracy Dockray

Kear, Nicole C. Have No Fear. Illustrated by Tracy Dockray.(The Fix-It Friends series)  Imprint, 2017. $5.99. ISBN 9781250085849. 144 pages. Ages 6-9. Book 1 in the Fix-It Friends series. P7 Q7

Veronica wants to help her friend Maya with her fear of bugs. As Veronica is helping Maya, she realizes that she needs to allow others to help her as well. The book includes a worry tool box that gives children step by step instructions on how to deal with worry. It also shares what worry feels like. At the end of the book, there are resources which include book lists for children, parents and websites for parents who have children who are struggling with anxiety. It also includes a website address for Fix-It Friend’s games and activities. The website has different topics children can click on to find ways to cope with varies issues. The Fix-It Friends have no fear is a chapter book in the series Fix-it Friends. Even though it is in a series, it can also stand alone.

Verdict: I recommend this book for all libraries and for parents whose children deal with anxiety. As a family advocate, I will be adding this book to my personal library and recommending it to several families.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.



Book review: Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten, by Candice Ransom, illustrated by Christine Grove

Ransom, Candice. Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten. Illustrated by Christine Grove. Doubleday, 2017. $17.99. ISBN 9780399554551. Unpaged. Ages 3-7. P7 Q7

Amanda starts kindergarten and imagines how things will go. A girl named Bitsy gets more attention than she does. Amanda decides to go to the second grade where her brother is. Bitsy goes to the second grade to find Amanda and their friendship starts. The inside and end cover pages have colorful polka dots. The illustrations show Amanda as her day progresses. It is realistic for a day at school. The facial expressions on Amanda and her friends add an extra element to the book. The message that sometimes we judge others by how we see them instead of getting to know them and giving them a chance comes through in this book.

Verdict: I highly recommend this book for elementary school libraries, personal libraries and classroom libraries. This book will help children navigate friendships.

June 2017 review by Tami Harris.