Reviews for month


BUILDING OUR HOUSE
FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX (BYR) [MACMILLAN]
BEAN, JONATHAN
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 01, 2013
Shirts, Brooke
"Today is moving day. We left our old house in the city and are moving to the country," begins this charming tale, but readers will be surprised that the new home consists of an empty field. Together, Mom, Dad, and sister and brother work together (with a little help from friends) for one and a half years to build their house from scratch. Bean infuses his text with both a fierce spirit of homestead-style independence (his parents collect stones for the fireplace from a neighbors' pasture; they cut lumber with an old-fashioned bit and brace) as well as community (extended family and friends gather for a frame-raising party). Fans of digging and building will love Bean's detailed illustrations of family members working together as they dig, cement, hammer, wire, and insulate their home through all four seasons. An author's note at the end explains that the story is autobiographical and contains period photographs of his family hard at work. R+ K-2
JENNIFER LAWRENCE : STAR OF THE HUNGER GAMES
Lerner Publishing Group [Lerner Publishing Group]
KROHN, KATHERINE
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
Part of Lerner's Gateway Biographies series, which includes figures as diverse as Jonas Salk, Laura Bush, Tyra Banks, and Justice John Roberts, this is a reasonable introduction to the life of the young actress. Her early life is spoken of simply, with a few photos that are in black and white for some reason, although Lawrence was born in 1990. She shows determination to be an actor, gets signed by an agency, and her early career is outlined simply, leading up to her first Golden Globe nomination in 2010. For some reason, big deal is made of there being another famous actor from Kentucky, Josh Hutcherson, who later appears as a co-star in the Hunger Games. Some fun details are included, such as how she navigated worries that she was "too pretty" for her role in Winter's Bone by taking a red-eye flight and showing up with no makeup. Compliments from the director and writer of the Hunger Games on her casting lead us to the end where a brown-haired Jennifer Lawrence is giving interviews about the role. The 2012 publication date pre-dates the release of the Hunger Games as well as the release of Silver Linings Playbook, which gave Jennifer her Oscar, showing how difficult it is to capture a career this fast-moving in print. Information on her current personal life is minimal, other than that she lives in New York and L.A. and would like to raise a family in London someday. Pictures abound but the format is very text-heavy, and some of the pictures don't make sense, like ones of her competitors for the role of Katniss who have no other place in her story. Most libraries will want to pass up this title, which is already outdated.
MY FAMILY FOR THE WAR
DIAL [DIAL]
VOORHOERE, ANNE G
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
6th grade to 12th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
Franziska Mangold's four grandparents all converted to Presbyterianism long before she came along, but in 1938 Berlin it isn't going to matter. By the time the Mangolds find this out, their chances of successful emigration are limited. Ziska's best friend Bekka tells her about the kindertransports, which send Jewish children out of Berlin and Vienna to live with foster families in Britain, where they will be safe. Ziska doesn't want to go, but when her father is sent to a concentration camp, she moves up past Bekka in the waiting line and is sent off to London, where she also doesn't fit in. Living with an Orthodox Jewish family, she isn't Jewish enough for them, and is also too German for her classmates. As Britain declares war, she finds herself evacuated again. Slowly, however, she assimilates and becomes Frances Shepard, acquiring her own wartime family who survive the Blitz, send a son off to the Navy, and experience the challenges of wartime Britain. When the war is over, she must try to piece together what family she has left and what has become of her best friend Bekka and life in Berlin, again finding herself caught between worlds. German author Anna C. Voorhoeve's first English translation is an epic ten-year story of war and one girl's coming-of-age. Frances/Ziska is a real character whose experiences ring true...how would a family react to taking in a refugee child? What happens to a ten-year-old girl whose mother sends her away? American readers usually read two types of World War II stories: American homefront and Holocaust. My Family for the War is something entirely different...it is one girl's story but winds together a whole continent of war. Readers see Frances in wartime London, worry about Bekka left back in Berlin, know more than Frances does about what will happen to her family when they escape to Holland, watch her foster father get stuck in France, and follow her foster brother as he sails with the Navy back and forth across the Atlantic. It's an amazing story made more amazing by the fact that Frances feels as real as Anne Frank. An epilogue tells readers what happened to the fictional Frances and her family, and an afterword describes the real events that inspired the story. Just as was true for most Britons during the war, Frances does not really hear what is happening to her people until after Normandy when liberation begins and the stories begin to trickle back, making the Holocaust more a backdrop to her story than its centerpiece. This beautiful book will not have wide appeal but will touch those who read it deeply.
SEEING CINDERELLA
UNKNOWN [UNKNOWN]
LUNDQUIST, JENNY
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
As if starting middle school wasn't hard enough, Callie is now told she needs to start it with glasses. Odd optometrist Dr. Ingram tells her her glasses must be ordered, but he can loan her a pair…of the ugliest glasses ever invented. Callie doesn't want to put them on, but when she does she is in for a shock. These glasses let her read people's minds! Now she can see what her best friend really thinks of her, tell what her dad really means when he says he can't be around this weekend, and read the thoughts of her crush Scott. But reading thoughts is not the same as understanding them, and readers will figure out what is going on with Ellen, Scott, and the new girl Stacy as well as neighbor Ana (whose thoughts are unhelpfully in Spanish), Scott's best friend Charlie, and mean locker partner Raven before Callie will. Chapter headings each describe a "Super Freaky Glasses Rule" as Callie learns that mind reading is not all it's cracked up to be. As the drama club stages a production of Cinderella, everyone's loyalties are becoming more clear. A cute premise but a twist or two away from the expected would have helped this story very much. Callie is certainly more lovable than best friend Ellen, but she is whiny, and the situation with Ana is pretty sterotypical and not well explored or resolved. Perhaps the most sympathetic character is drama teacher Mr. Faber who must make these adolescents create something larger than themselves.
WRITE STUFF
UNKNOWN [UNKNOWN]
MULLARKEY, LISA
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
Katharine the Almost Great finds writing Boring with a capital B. Her classmates are all being told they have the Write Stuff and being honored with pencils on the classroom bulletin board, while Katharine is being told to add details and turn her five-cent words into dollar words. To make matters worse, her arch nemesis Vanessa has earned her pencil and been paired with Katharine for Peer Review. When her teacher Mrs. Billingsly sends a note home to Katharines' mom, Katharine realizes Mrs. Billingsly doesn't always write creatively either and her note is in need of Katharine's edits. While eventually Katharine does sculpt her story into a "Write Stuff" story, the plot seems more than a little contrived to teach young writers, as Katherine's conference with Mrs. Billingsly is a step-by-step description of prewriting. Katharine is constantly using words like "stealie girl" and "fabuloso" in overly effusive ways that can get in the way of her character development. But she is spunky and young readers will root for her. Her editied essay and a five-step description of the writing process are included in the back.
FOUR SECRETS
CAROLRHODA [CAROLRHODA]
WILLEY, MARGARET
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
7th grade to 9th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
At first glance, this first YA novel by Margaret Willey (author of an adult novel and several award-winning folktale picture books), feels like something you've seen before: three fourteen-year-olds are mercilessly bullied and eventually turn on the bully. In this case, they kidnap him and hold him hostage, for which they are sent to juvenile detention. An interesting premise, but not initially captivating. However, Four Secrets is so much more than that. Gwen, the social worker in charge of their case, is intrigued by these kids who have never been in trouble before, so she assigns each to keep a journal so she can understand them. Plain talking Katie ends up keeping two, the one she hands in and a secret one that holds more than she can say. Because, you see, there is a pact between these kids, and no one can break the pact. Nate, the leader of the group and future fantasy novelist, writes his journal in fantasy writing style, calling himself Nathaniel, son of James of Cleves (his father having moved to Cleveland awhile back). And Renata, perhaps the most fragile, keeps her journal in a series of complex black-and-white drawings. Through their writing, both the reader and the social worker realize there is much more to this case than bullied kids becoming bullies, and in fact each of the three has a secret, and the bully has a secret as well. But will they have to break the pact in order to earn their freedom? As the journals unfold and the social worker continues her investigation, this question looms large. If the reader can keep from sneaking a glance at Renata's last few drawings, the mystery will hold them to the end. This is a surprising book, and it will find a teenage audience. The journals are not too confusing, even Nate's narrative is easy to follow, and the change in perspectives adds to rather than distracting from the primary focus, which is the mystery. Middle school audiences will enjoy this but high school readers will also not feel talked down to by this book. Librarians should note: date rape and drug use are mentioned; this is not a book for an elementary audience. A transgendered parent is handled with the character in question disowning his parent, which may offend some.
EATING AND THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA [ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA]
LUNDGREN, JULIE K
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
The cover of this book is deceptive, as over half of it is devoted to human eating and digestion, although most of the interesting facts come from the animal sections. Healthy eating is introduced with a graphic of the "healthy plate" that has replaced the food pyramid, which had replaced the four food groups. The text then follows food though the mouth, with a brief description of saliva, into the stomach, and through the small and large intenstines. Details are minimal...the small intestines have "complex walls" and that is how digested food molecules get into the blood stream, and undigested food goes into the large intestine to exit the body. Animal digestion is discussed in two sections: plant eaters and meat eaters. There is lots of good information here, like a description of a bird's crop and talk about how some grazing animals have different "rooms" in their stomach and bring partially digested food up to re-chew. There isn't enough space to adequately explain most of these concepts, so readers are left with a lot of quick facts. A quiz at the end shows four pictures (one human) of animals and their teeth and asks which animals are meat-eaters, then bizarrely does not give the answer. A three question written "show what you know" section is also included, as is a much-needed glossary, short index, and websites to visit. This certainly covers the digestive system, if briefly, but kids will learn more about how animals eat by studying the animals themselves than in this all-to-brief overview.
PRIVATEER'S APPRENTICE
Peachtree Publishers [Peachtree Publishers]
VERRICO, SUSAN
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
After his father's death, printer's son Jameson has lost the business, was taken prisoner for not repaying debts he does not believe his father owes, and is about to be sold to the highest bidder. Fortunes change, however, when he is picked up and taken aboard the ship Destiny. What we might call kidnapping is actually conscription into service in the Queen Anne's War, and Jameson is now a proud sailor with Her Majesty's Navy. Around the southwest coast they go, mapping and exploring and fighting off the Spaniards. When they sail back, trouble is brewing. The war has been over for some time, and although the sailors did not hear of the truce they have broken it and the captain must stand for treason. It will take all of Jameson's skills to get out of this trouble. The story is interesting and fast-paced enough to hold even those who don't read much historical fiction, and covers an unusual time that will likely inspire more reading about the Queen Anne's War. A map in the front is extremely helpful, since in this era of the British Empire Charles Towne could be a lot of places. Unfortunately, as the end draws near the plot gets clunkier and some hard-to-believe twists make the ending far less than satisfying. An unusual typeface with not as much white space on the page will be off-putting to some more reluctant readers.
LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS : A STORY ABOUT HOW SLAVES LEARNED IN
JUMP AT THE SUN [JUMP AT THE SUN]
CLINE-RANSOME, LESA
RANSOME, JAMES E.
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
All ages
June 05, 2013
Dersch, Kris
Author Lesa Cline-Ransome's research for a book on Frederick Douglass led her to the premise for this picture book: pit schools. Pit schools were literally holes dug into the ground where slaves would meet in secret, often at night, and learn reading and writing from a literate slave. Rosa, whose age is left ambiguous in this book, goes there with her mother to learn from a slave named Morris. They practice making letters and practice the sounds of the letters. When some slaves are caught leaving the "school" at night, it shuts down for awhile, but Rosa and her mother know freedom is coming and they must learn, so they return and Rosa uses her limited knowledge to teach others. Beautifully illustrated with muted paintings that show the darkness in which they must hide, and bring out the reality of their daily lives and the punishment they will surely endure if caught, this book will have wide appeal. Suited as a read-aloud for younger grades during Black History month or at other times, it will spark conversation about education as a right and a responsibility with older students. A brief afterword explains how the author came to be intereste in pit schools and includes further reading suggestions.
Rounding Third, Heading Home!
UNKNOWN PUBLISHER [UNKNOWN PUBLISHER]
ARETHA, DAVID
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 06, 2013
Dersch, Kris
Part of Enslow's Champion Sports Story series, in which every title seems to stand alone, this brief baseball season adventure features ten-year-old suburban Detroit Little Leaguer Jake and his team, Morey's Funeral Home. Jake has a cool dad who is a walking baseball encyclopedia, a fun mom who makes his teddy bear Chewbacca tell jokes, and a great coach who is taking Morey's all the way to the top. Game by game we follow Jake and his buddies through baseball season, seeing how their antics compare with those of current and former major league stars, all described in detail by his dad. Will Morey's come back and have an unbelievable year, beating the all-powerful United Bank and Trust? Ya gotta believe! It will take a real baseball fan to appreciate Jake's story, as the details of major league antics and records will be lost on the casual reader. Reluctant readers will appreciate lots of white space, short chapters, and the 110 page count, although they may wish the binding felt like a "real" chapter book, and the talking teddy bear might be off-putting, although even Jake keeps that quirky detail a secret from his teammates. Baseball fans will cheer on these underdogs.
Martha Speaks : Funny Bone Jokes And Riddles
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Barss, Karen
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 10, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Based on Susan Meddaugh's talking dog, Martha, this is a collection if 18 simple, kid-friendly jokes, many with an animal theme. The illustrations are bright and fun, with conversation bubbles that give the book a slight graphic novel feel. While not extraordinary, this is still a fun book and you can never have too many joke and riddle books in your library.
Bad Astrid
RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READER [RANDOM HOUSE]
Brennan, Eileen
Dunnick, Regan
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 10, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
When Astrid moves into the neighborhood everything changes. She's rowdy. She's thoughtless. She's a bad neighbor. Still the narrator doesn't let the new arrival spoil her summer…until Astrid bicycles through her yard bringing mayhem and destruction. What should she do now? She reaches out in friendship and discovers Astrid is just trying to get attention. OK, the ending is a little saccharine, but the rhyming text is bouncy and fun, and the bright and humorous illustrations by Regan Dunnick, showing the main characters as anthropomorphized dogs, are enjoyable and quirky. This could lead to a discussion on dealing with challenging peers.
SILLY CLASSROOM JOKES
PEBBLE BOOKS [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
SHORES, ERIKA L
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This 24-page Pebble book is exactly what the title suggests - a collection of 18 jokes that are at least somewhat school-related. The book is formatted in double-page spreads where two jokes, often on a similar theme, face wacky bright photographs that are also humorous. While not extraordinary, I've found that no library can have too many joke books so there's no reason not to add this to your collection.
Bring On The Birds
Peachtree Publishers [Peachtree Publishers]
Stockdale, Susan
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
OK, granted this is a board book, but it actually would fit nicely into a school library. Stockdale's rhyming text, with one line per sturdy small-format page, is accompanied by bright, expressive illustrations showing different types of birds, each of which illustrates the point the author is making in the text. The book shows how birds can be different from each other, but ends with the line "All of them have feathers, and all are hatched from eggs." Can you say "Venn diagram?" This makes it a nice easy nonfiction choice for primary classes doing bird units. And astute teachers will have students list ways in which they are all different and the same. OOOH! Common Core!
Bean Dog And Nugget : The Ball
Knopf Books for Young Readers [RANDOM HOUSE]
Harper, Charise Mericle
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
I had low expectations for this series. The graphic novel style is large, and the drawings seemed juvenile. Imagine my surprise when I started giggling just a few pages in. Bean Dog (a hot dog--long and thin) has a new red ball. He shows it to his friend Nugget (short and plump). He throws it at her and it bounces off her into the...gasp...bushes. How are they going to get it back from the vicious bush? After several failed attempts they put on their superhero guises and prepare to do battle. While not initially successful eventually they are victorious! Ah, but what to do next? You can't help but think of the Elephant and Piggy books when you read this. It has such a basic concept, and such simple illustrations, and such easy-to-read dialogue. But the humor is clever and the kid-appeal is definitely there. Hey, this adult was laughing out loud. The only problem? This is a paperback. You'll need it in sturdy hardcover.
Bean Dog And Nugget : The Cookie
Knopf Books for Young Readers [RANDOM HOUSE]
Harper, Charise Mericle
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Long skinny Bean Dog has a best friend, short and plump Nugget. Their interactions are in an easy graphic novel format, carried by dialogue. In this entry in the series Nugget pretends to have a giant invisible donut, but Bean Dog uses her own trick to get what he wants--the biggest piece of the cookie they are sharing. The concept is simple, but fun. So are the illustrations. This is a book that the Elephant and Piggy crowd would enjoy.
Skeleton Pirate
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Lucas, David
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Wild patterns and quirky pictures abound in this pirate story. The skeleton pirate says he'll never be beaten and, indeed, he survives many challenges. But he's finally beaten when his heart is taken by a mermaid. He ends up with a golden ship and plenty of treasure and all ends well. The illustrations are fun and are clearly designed to carry the story since there's just not much in the way of narration in the text. This leaves much, perhaps too much, to the young reader's imagination. Still, the illustrations are fun to peruse.
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY [ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY]
Lincoln, Abraham
Daugherty, James
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
While Abraham Lincoln may have thought the world would "little note nor long remember" what he said at Gettysburg, it is one of the classic speeches of all time. In 1947 the speech was illustrated by Caldecott winner James Daugherty. Now it has been reissued and a new crop of readers can enjoy his classic illustrations as well as a foreword, an informative afterword, and an explanation by the artist of the thought that went into each of the 15 paintings. It's no surprise that the artwork is exceptional, and epic in quality. Lincoln's words flow with the illustrations. Perhaps the best part of the book, however, is found in the the in-depth explanation of each picture. It would be fascinating to give students the chance to look for symbolism in each painting and then read the artist's explanation. That kind of in-depth thinking would encourage a greater appreciation for the artwork, and for what it symbolizes.
MAKO
FITZHENRY & WHITESIDE [FITZHENRY & WHITESIDE]
BEZIAT, JULIEN
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Mako is a walrus who likes to sculpt things, mainly fish. He is a true artist, and his friends use his artwork to find food because he is basically sculpting maps of fish and where they can be found. Then…catastrophe! The ice floe collapses. The sculptures are gone. There's nothing to eat in the sea. Mako sculps a giant whale. One appears and it disgorges a bellyful of fish, saving Mako's friends. He continues to sculpt and his friends now understand why he's so into art. Huh? Billed as a celebration of the magic of artistic passion, perhaps it lost something in the translation from the French. The illustrations are often as cryptic as the story, though they bathe the pages in the whites and blues of an icy landscape. They have touches of whimsy, but the story is just a little too ethereal to be understood by the intended audience...if children are that audience, that is.
Matilda And Hans
TEMPLAR [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Yokococo
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Matilda is a sweet little kitty who is always very good. Hans, on the other hand, is a bad cat indeed. Hans vandalizes property, makes noise, and lets the animals out of their cages at the zoo. Hans is wanted by the police and Matilda tells them where the miscreant can be found. There is, after all, a reward. I won't give away the surprise ending, but the fact that Matilda turns Hans in seems an odd twist unless you consider how good Matilda is...or is supposed to be, at any rate. The crime spree is over, or is it? This is a quirky, madcap book with bold and amusing illustrations that put good Matilda in light and color, and bad Hans in darkness and mostly monochrome. Children will find the story amusing and recognize that few people are easily defined as completely good or bad. Or perhaps children won't recognize this, but they'll still think the story is funny even if the ending is a bit odd.
MONKEY BUSINESS
ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA [ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA]
ROBERTSON, J JEAN
DUFALLA, ANITA
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Mike and Spike are twin monkeys who devise an amusing game called "Snatch and Stow." They steal things from the other animals and stow them away in a secret place. Needless to say, the other animals are not thrilled when things start going missing. They make a list of the purloined items and decide to search, at which point the culprits 'fess up and promise not to play their game again. Computer-generated illustrations, an uninspired text, and an unsatisfying rote ending combine to make this only an additional purchase.
World Belongs To You
TEMPLAR [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Bozzi, Riccardo
Zagnoli, Olimpia
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Beginning with "The world belongs to you, and you belong to the world" this is less of a book than it is an inspirational message about freedom and constraints. Each page contains a brief line of text and a bright simple illustration, against a stark white background. The binding is sturdy. The book's message will, however, be better appreciated by adults than by children.
Speed
Boyds Mills Press [Boyds Mills Press]
Clement, Nathan
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
A race is about to begin. The cars are ready. The flag waves and they've off! They dodge and turn, speed and crash. Different flags are waved. Pit stops, danger…speed! The bright computer-rendered illustrations show slick, colorful cars zooming along a gray track. It is only at the end that the reader sees a child's hand on the winning car. This is a very simple book with bright illustrations, sure to appeal to young boys.
We Go Together! : A Curious Selection Of Affectionate Verse
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Brown, Calef
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This collection of 18 short poems focuses on friendship and love. The poems vary in rhythm and rhyme and are accompanied by fanciful anthropomorphized animal illustrations. The collection is well-organized and the illustrations suit the rhymes well. None of the poems, however, really "sing." This is not a first purchase.
ABOUT HABITATS : OCEANS
Peachtree Publishers [Peachtree Publishers]
SILL, CATHRYN
SILL, JOHN
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
I love the "About" books by the team of Cathryn and John Sill. Crisp, informative, yet simple text is juxtaposed with exquisite watercolor plates, each carefully captioned. Read it to a very young audience and you have a simple nonfiction book. BUT look in the back and you have more information about each of the plates, and the topic on that page. Those explanations serve the needs of an older audience. That makes these books useful on a variety of reading levels. Like all the books in the series this is beautifully put together, informative, and even evocative. It would be a worthy addition to your collection.
Another Night At The Museum
HENRY HOLT & COMPANY (BYR) [MACMILLAN]
Trenc, Milan
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
The same author/illustrator who brought us the first story about the wild and crazy things that happened during the night watchman's stint at the museum is back with another adventure. This time our main character is in charge of the Ocean Hall and, oh dear, did he leave the faucet running at home? Soon water fills New York City, a whale is nudging the museum down the street, and all kinds of amazing things are occurring. The night watchman's daughter is even involved, delighting in the adventure. Will they be able to get the museum, and all the exhibits, back into place before dawn? Flowing watercolor illustrations swim across the pages of this watery tale that contains just the right mix of fantasy and fun.
LET'S MEET A LIBRARIAN
MILLBROOK PRESS (HARD) [LERNER PUBLICATIONS COMPANY]
BELLISARIO, GINA
MYER, ED
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This sturdily-bound 24-page book is part of the Cloverleaf Books "Community Helpers" series. With bright illustrations and clear, informative text, young readers learn about librarians. Specifically, they learn about Mr. Field, their school librarian. He's an information expert, using an on-line catalog and multimedia to teach and inform. A tech problem? He can handle it, but he also uses books, puppets, and many other resources to spread the joy of libraries. Bright illustrations abound. The book includes an ending activity, glossary, index, and bibliography. It's a nice basic introduction to the modern librarian.
Face Bug
Wordsong [Wordsong]
Lewis, J Patrick
Murphy, Kelly
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Did you ever look a bug in the face? I mean, directly in the face? You get that chance in this delightful book of poetry. 14 weird and wacky insects are highlighted in poems that are fresh, fascinating, and often funny. J. Patrick Lewis is a wonderful poet. Add crisp close-up photographs by Frederick B. Siskind, and black and white illustrations by Kelly Murphy that add a whole different layer of humor, and you have book that is beautifully designed, visually intriguing, and compellingly educational to boot. Readers learn facts about the insects as they enjoy the poetry and peruse the pictures. Even better, there's an interview with each bug at the end of the book that includes a photograph and the answers to basic questions--Where I live, how I grow, what I eat, and what eat me. The poems are all beautifully crafted with clever word-play and a lovely use of rhyme and rhythm. While this would be a great addition to the poetry collection, teachers doing insect units are going to love it as well. Every collection should have a copy.
Giddy-Up, Daddy!
RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READER [RANDOM HOUSE]
Cummings, Troy
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Daddy is the best horse ever. He can get the kids from bed to breakfast before the toast pops up! Of course, such a terrific horse is in danger from horse rustlers. When he is stolen, his two children are quickly on his trail. They rescue him at the rodeo, then escape through a circus, polo match, and even the Kentucky derby (which Dad, naturally, wins). When they arrive in Canada they turn the tables on those rustlers and hurry home again where their mom waits with HER special skill. This is an over-the-top hilarious story that stretches the premise to the breaking point, much to the delight of readers. The illustrations show gleeful kids and their proud horse of a father, with his balding head, totally involved in their great adventure. What a wonderful read-aloud!
Mustache Baby
CLARION [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Heos, Bridget
Ang, Joy
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 12, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Billy the baby was born with a mustache. This was a surprise and somewhat of a concern. After all, there are good-guy mustaches, and bad-guy mustaches. During his early years Billy uses his mustache for good, first as a cowboy then moving on to a man of the law (with a very Tom Selleck look). As he got older, however, the mustache began to curl at the ends. At this point the puns begin. He was a cat burglar, a cereal criminal, a piggy bank robber. Thrown in jail (his crib) and forced to mark the time of his incarceration on his Etch-a-Sketch, he's finally released by his mother with the evil of his facial hair under control. Is there a message to this book? Not that I can see, but the story is hilarious. The digital illustrations are particularly good. They're big enough for group sharing, very colorful, and filled with humorous details. Both children and adults will enjoy this story.
When You Wander : A Search-And-Rescue Dog Story
HENRY HOLT & COMPANY (BYR) [MACMILLAN]
Engle, Margarita
Morgan, Mary
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
I am a graduate of sniffing school. If you are lost I will wag my tail, use my nose, and find the places where you have been. Hug and tree and wait, and I'll find you and bring you home again. Told in the first person from the point of view of a search-and-rescue dog this is a gently sweet and reassuring tale. The soft, warm illustrations by Mary Morgan are like a hug, minimizing the trauma that young readers might feel in empathizing with the lost child. There's information on staying safe, facts about rescue dogs, and a happy ending. This would be a good story to read to children before an outing.
Tallulah's Toe Shoes
CLARION [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Singer, Marilyn
Boiger, Alexandra
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
In this, the third book in the Tallulah series, we find our young ballerina longing for toe shoes. She's been told she's too young, but surely that can't be true! When an older dancer discards an old pair of shoes Tallulah takes them home. To her horror she discovers that they look fabulous, but she can barely stand in them, and they make her toes hurt. The older ballerina sees her returning them to the trash and offers insight from someone who's been there before. This is another great ballet book, with a girl in a sparkly pink tutu on the cover that is sure to attract young girls. Oh, and Tallulah's brother dances as well so maybe you'll catch a few boys, too. The message of having to wait for something you really want is one that every child needs to learn.
Candy Smash
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Davies, Jacqueline
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Evan Treski has had to deal with his younger, smarter sister, Jessi, in three previous books. She's not really a horrible person, but the fact that she's been moved ahead a grade into Evan's classroom means he can't escape her. And, frankly, she doesn't always "get" some of the social interactions of the older children. Someone is leaving candy hearts with special messages on desks in the classroom. Jessie, wantsto write an exciting expose and determines to find out who is responsible. But the students are in the middle of the "who likes who" phase, and feelings may be hurt. Besides, Evan is writing down his deepest thoughts in a journal his sister is never supposed to see and her decision to make public his private musings could expose feelings that are not ready to be expressed to everyone. She's not mean, just clueless. Can Evan help her get a clue before his own reputation is ruined? There's boy/girl stuff here, as well as classroom dynamics and brother-sister relationships. Again, Jacqueline Davies has done a good job in creating realistic characters with whom readers can empathize.
Place For Turtles
Peachtree Publishers [Peachtree Publishers]
Stewart, Melissa
Bond, Higgins
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
Kindergarten to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Turtles are endangered. What can we do to help? This exceptional book provides ideas. Each two-page spread features a problem that turtles are facing, such as habitat loss, new predators, fishing nets, or pollution. Higgins Bond's exquisite realistic illustrations show the problem impacting a particular type of turtle. A fact box provides more information about that type of turtle, tortoise, or terrapin; the problem it faces; and what is being done to solve the problem. The entire focus of the book is on what we can do to protect this animal in our world, and the suggestions are realistic. There are additional turtle tidbits at the end of the book as well as a good bibliography. The end papers show the ranges of the featured turtles. This is excellent nonfiction that not only informs but is also a call to action. It belongs in every library serving children.
VISION OF BEAUTY : THE STORY OF SARAH BREEDLOVE WALKER
CANDLEWICK PRESS [WALKER & COMPANY]
LASKY, KATHRYN
BENNETT, NNEKA
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Originally published in 2000 in a larger format, this excellent book is now back as a member of the "Candlewick Biographies" series. Kathryn Lasky opens the life of Madame C.J. Walker to young readers. Born just after slavery was abolished, she led a life of poverty and hard work. The hard work part eventually paid off as she developed hair care products for her African-American sisters. Through her company she contributed to her community and helped other African-American women find success as well. This is an inspiring story of a strong woman who changed the world. Nneka Bennett's pencil and watercolor illustrations have true emotional impact and blend beautifully with the text. Both author and illustrator notes add additional insights. If you don't have the earlier version of this book you should definitely purchase this one.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHS
FACT FINDERS [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
ALLEN, KATHY
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Part of the "Fact Finders" series, this well-written 32-page book provides clear and insightful information about Egyptian hieroglyphs. It walks through the discovery of hieroglyphs in 1798, then the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and the lengthy and difficult task of figuring out how hieroglyphs work. There is a clear explanation of what has been determined including the interesting concept that hieroglyphs can represent objects, sounds, or both, and can be read left to right or right to left, depending. (And now I know how you can usually tell in which direction to read--totally cool.) Readers are told how hieroglyphs were developed in Egyptian culture, the progression to Hieratic script, then Demotic, then Coptic. There's even a timeline! While this sounds terribly complex, the author lays it out clearly and concisely. All illustrations and photographs serve to enhance the text. This is exceptional and interesting nonfiction.
ANNIE AND SNOWBALL AND THE SURPRISE DAY
UNKNOWN [UNKNOWN]
RYLANT, CYNTHIA
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Annie and her rabbit, Snowball, go on a surprise day-trip with Dad. Snowball gets to pick their route, and they enjoy a day in the car and a healthy picnic. Sharing time with Dad is a lot of fun. Annie can hardly wait to tell her cousin Henry about it. This is a gentle, sweet Level Two "Ready-to-Read" book with warm and colorful illustrations by Sucie Stevenson. If you have readers who enjoy this series they'll like this slice-of-life book.
JAPANESE
HEINEMANN RAINTREE LIBRARY [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
MILLES, HARRIET
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This 32-page book contains 13 chapters or topics each as a double-page spread. After introducing the country of Japan and where its national language is spoken the young reader then learns briefly about the three different reading and writing systems. Most of the book shares the romaji form of Japanese words written in English. A full pronunciation guide of all these words is listed on two pages at the back. Besides some useful expressions the Japanese culture is presented with bits of information about family life, school, sports, food and clothes. Every page has a photo, diagram or map, and though the photos are clear, they are not vibrant in color. The text is easy to read and well written with caption boxes greatly extending the text. Pleasant graphics and non-threatening size font are inviting. The book concludes with several books and websites for further learning plus a very brief index. This is a nice introduction for the intended audience. This Heinemann First Library title is part of their Languages of the World, which also include the languages of Arabic, French, Hindi, Polish, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, German, Italian, Mandarin, Russian, Swahili, and Vietnamese.
I'M THE BOSS
ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA [ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA]
WILLIAMS, SAM
DUFALLA, ANITA
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
An aggressive Abby Gator declares herself the boss and sets the rules determining the game the animals will play as well as who can’t play. She’s unkind, direct, and the resolution is abrupt. It just takes the crawling cub she disses to stand up to her, and suddenly they’re all friends. Despite its educational features (8 words to know before you read preceding the title page) and activities following the story, this is not a book worth purchasing. The illustrations are colorful and even cute in their digital sort of way, but the stilted text has problems. Both quotations with unidentified speakers and dialogue bubbles are used on the same double-page spread. At least the bubbles point to a speaker. Also the use of “C’mon!” is difficult to decipher for the intended readership.
DIRK NOWITZKI : NBA CHAMPION
Sportszone [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
GITLIN, MARTY
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review of Albert Pujols by Alex Monnig in same Playmakers series by ABDO’s SportsZone. Grades 4-7.
DERRICK ROSE : NBA'S YOUNGEST MVP
Sportszone [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
HOBLIN, PAUL
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review of Albert Pujols by Alex Monnig in same Playmakers series by ABDO’s SportsZone. Grade 4-7.
ADRIAN PETERSON : RECORD-SETTING RUNNING BACK
Sportszone [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
GITLIN, MARTY
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review of Albert Pujols by Alex Monnig in same Playmakers series by ABDO’s SportsZone. Grades 4-7.
ALBERT PUJOLS : GROUNDBREAKING SLUGGER
Sportszone [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
MONNIG, ALEX
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
A variety of authors contributed to the 2012 Playmakers series in ABDO's SportsZone that covers top players in football, baseball and basketball. Albert Pujols, known for three home runs in a World Series game, grew up poor in the Dominican Republic, mostly raised by his grandma along with her 10 children. After moving to the US with his father at age 16 he followed his dream of playing baseball while struggling as a student and learning English. His high school career, though stellar, didn’t convince the major leagues, specifically the St. Louis Cardinals, to draft him before the 13th round in 1999. He continued to have to prove himself a consistent offensive player as well as a flexible defensive player. Nicknamed “The Machine” he has more than proven this and earned many awards including some for his charity work. The format for the series involves four chapters with lots of stats and game specifics in chronological order followed by Fun Facts and Quotes, Web Links, glossary and index. The photos though mostly from the last 10 years tend to be dark. The writing is adequate though will only be of interest to a true sports fan, who can handle all of the stats and game info.
EARTHQUAKES
ABDO & Daughters [ABDO & Daughters]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review by same author of Tornadoes from same series Xtreme Forces of Nature.
HURRICANES
ABDO & Daughters [ABDO & Daughters]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review by same author of Tornadoes from same series Xtreme Forces of Nature.
TORNADOES
ABDO & Daughters [ABDO & Daughters]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Published in 2012 this 32-page title provides coverage of the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado and prior disasters. After defining what a tornado is and how it forms the two different classification systems are explained (the National Weather Service and the Fujita scale) with damage examples depicted for the latter. The majority of the book reels through major tornadoes in the US, the country with the most per year, from the deadliest 1925 Tri-State Tornado (219 miles; 695 fatalities) through more recent catastrophes. It would be hard for such a book to stay current as the US averages 1000 tornadoes a year, but this is pretty up-to-date. Though the Oklahoma City tornado of this year is obviously not included, there is a very similar image of an Oklahoma City suburb from the devastation in May 1999. Each double page spread is comprised of full photos overlayed with text of various sizes. All photos are captioned and sometimes maps, diagrams and Xtreme factoids are included. The book concludes with storm chasers and how to survive one of these events followed by a glossary with well-defined terms and a detailed index. ABDO’s A&D Xtreme Forces of Nature series includes Earthquakes, Floods, Hurricanes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes.
VOLCANOES
ABDO & Daughters [ABDO & Daughters]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review by same author of Tornadoes from same series Xtreme Forces of Nature.
CARMELO ANTHONY : SUPERSTAR SCORER
Sportszone [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
HOBLIN, PAUL
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review of Albert Pujols by Alex Monnig in same Playmakers series by ABDO’s SportsZone. Grade 4-7.
WORLD WAR II
Childrens Press [SCHOLASTIC]
STEIN, R CONRAD
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Well-known nonfiction writer R. Conrad Stein has authored a title in the Children’s Press Cornerstones of Freedom third series that features 64 pages with the intent of bringing history to life. The four middle chapters—The Beginning, The European Theater, The Home Front, and War in the Pacific are book-ended by Setting the Scene—The Last War?(this is a new part of the series) and Map of Events—What Happened Here plus the final section: The Story Continues—New World Powers. The book concludes with the six key players (Influential Individuals) i.e. Churchill and MacArthur, a timeline from 1918-1945, four primary sources, a list of resources, glossary and very detailed index. The is a very well executed overview of the major issues and events of World War II. It would be a very useful tool for research, easy to read with its direct and fast-paced text, multiple photos (all captioned nicely) and very specific details. Highly recommended.
NEW PUPPY
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
KERTELL, LYNN MASLEN
Hendra, Sue
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
One of the Bob Books this is a Beginning Reader Level 1 intended for Grade 1 with sight words, some words to sound out and simple sentences. The first 28 pages describe a young brother and sister who want a dog. Their parents warn them about the responsibilities this entails, but the children soon find out for themselves as the very busy dog keeps them even busier. This is a cute, simple story that the beginning reader will most likely enjoy. Concludes with 2 pages of 2-sided cut-outs that include a vocabulary word on one side and the picture with the sentence on the opposite making this paperback much more appropriate for home use or a classroom.
PANDAS
Childrens Press [SCHOLASTIC]
ZEIGER, JENNIFER
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This Nature’s Children’s series by Children’s Press includes Bald Eagles, Chimpanzees, Komodo Dragons, Lions, Penguins, Sharks, Tarantulas and Wolves with different contributing authors. The 48 pages with smaller font and more lengthy text at 770 Lexile is aimed at the intermediate reader and report writing. Before the table of contents is a very handy Fact File page that quickly delineates critical information from class/order/family/genus/species to habitat, physical characteristics and diet, and that’s just the first page! The book is comprised of four chapters each with subtopics. Each double page spread contains several detailed paragraphs of text and an exceptional color photo that’s captioned. The text is informative, well written and interesting and all in subject-verb sentence structure. A few Fun Facts are thrown in. The highlighted words are well defined in the two-page glossary followed by a world map noting the small population of endangered pandas in China. Several print and electronic resources and a good index conclude this book. This is top-notch nonfiction for the intended audience.
DOLPHINS
Childrens Press [SCHOLASTIC]
GREGORY, JOSH
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review for Pandas by Jennifer Zeiger in same series of Nature’s Children by Children’s Press.
WOLVES
Childrens Press [SCHOLASTIC]
SIMON, CHARNAN
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review for Pandas by Jennifer Zeiger in same series of Nature’s Children by Children’s Press.
THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS FLY SOUTH
CLARION [CLARION]
RUBIN, ADAM
SALMIERI, DANIEL
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Fans of the first book will want this to join their collection. Once again it’s grumpy Old Man Fookwire, but the focus is now on the squirrels, who decide to follow the birds in their southern migration. They build a variety of flying contraptions with their understanding of aerodynamic engineering and then follow the last bird, the floogle bird, on its journey. They love the beach they land on and enjoy a few glorious weeks among the brilliantly colored birds. When one reminds them of Old Man Fookwire they get on the telefono and make a collect call from Santa Vaca to him. Thus he decides to join these creatures he misses and slowly makes his way south. After he passes out from painting too long in the hot sun it’s time for him and the squirrels to head home. There’s much again to capture the attention of young readers—the contraptions; the humorous watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil illustrations with all of their details; and the title refrain. Such fun entertainment!
THE CONSTRUCTION CREW
HENRY HOLT & COMPANY [HENRY HOLT & COMPANY]
MELTZER, LYNN
EKO-BURGESS, CARRIE
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Between a board book and a picture book this book with thicker than normal glossy paper depicts the steps in demolishing an old building and building a new house. In rhyming text the pattern begins with, “This old building’s/Ready to fall/What do we need?/WRECKING BALL!” Each subsequent step repeats the 3rd line and ends with a rhyming item. Some rhymes work better than others such as “poem” with “home” on the last page with the family all nicely settled. The bright bold digital illustrations will work for the young audience though the binding may work better for home use.
Sherlock Holmes and the Redheaded League
GRAPHIC UNIVERSE [GRAPHIC UNIVERSE]
SHAW, MURRAY
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This graphic novel series is based on the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as is mentioned on the first page giving a background on Holmes and Watson. Then follows a map of London highlighting 221B Baker Street plus card-like illustrations of the major players in this installment #7 of On the Case with Holmes and Watson. Next comes a letter from John H. Watson, MD, introducing Holmes and his powers of deduction. Then the graphic novel begins when a redheaded pawnbroker brings his concerns about the sudden demise of a nicely paying job where all he had to do was copy the encyclopedia four hours a day. His assistant, who was working for half pay, brought the advertisement for this job requiring only redheads apply, to his attention. Holmes quickly deduces some theories and tests them out, setting up the culprits, who are planning to rob the bank behind the pawnshop. The final page returns to Watson summing up how Holmes solved the case. The 48 pages conclude with further readings and websites. This captivating adaptation is an easy introduction to the renowned fictional detective for elementary readers in grades 3-6.
MY STRETCHY BODY
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
FROMER, LIZA
WEISSMAN, JOE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
After a short author’s note, the reader is introduced to the growing body of kids. Topics include height, hair, skin, nails, muscles, bones, and teeth. Each “chapter” is a double-page spread that provides interesting information, color illustrations, diagrams, a fun fact in bold type, a true or false question and answer, and sometimes a “Doctor says” quote. The text is somewhat dense, so intended for third through fifth grade students. Curious children should find some new facts that help explain their changing bodies. Medical terms (MT) are included that even an adult will find challenging. The Midparental Height calculation is a bonus in the beginning. The book concludes with a 10-word glossary and has no table of contents or index. Despite this it’s decent information, which should provide an adequate introduction to the topic for elementary students. Others in the Body Works series are My Noisy Body, My Achy Body, and My Messy Body.
MY ACHY BODY
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
FROMER, LIZA
WEISSMAN, JOE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review for My Stetchy Body by same authors. This title covers bruises, scrapes, scabs, broken bones, sprains and strains, stomach aches, earaches, and sore throats.
CARLY'S ANGELS
STONE ARCH BOOKS [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
HOENA, BLAKE
FACIO, SEBASTIAN
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Three girls known as Carly’s Angels dare to report the news for their school paper. As with their namesake Charlie’s Angels, there is a mysterious Carly, who calls the beautiful and ditzy Gillian on her cell phone to tip them off on their first lead. An unusual number of bee stings leads them to the pond that been turned into blue slushie like goo and creating huge bees. The science nerds seem to be behind this as they prove during a steak-out. This graphic novel is not high literature, but the color comic illustrations are easy to follow in this fast paced tale. This may provide an additional series for girls looking for the graphic novel format. Children will not understand the reference to the old TV show.
PRAIRIE DOGS
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books [Marshall Cavendish Children's Books]
BAILER, DARICE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
The animalsanimals series is quite extensive and this addition features a keystone species to the plant and animal world of the grasslands and Great Plains of North America. In 48 pages the intermediate reader will come to appreciate the hard life these small creatures that are not dogs, but rodents, have as they spend much of their lives watching for predators. The excellent color photos are all captioned with some containing more information than the extensive text. Startling facts—the current prairie dog population is only 2% of what it was 200 years ago; pups are only 1 inch and one ounce at birth; and burrows can be up to 108 feet of tunnels. Such information will help young researchers and the curious learners with the very interesting, well written text followed by a 3-page glossary, two pages of further information and websites plus a 2-page index. This is quality nonfiction worth purchasing for all libraries that serve children.
ASTRONAUT FIRSTS
ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
One of the Xtreme Space series this book chronicles exactly what its title declares, the many firsts of astronauts in space covering the last 60 years. It begins with the first animal astronauts to survive in space in 1957 (Russian dogs) and 1959, the first US animals, “monkeynauts”. From there it moves through the human astronauts from Cosmonaut Yuri Garin in 1961 through the men and women who followed as “firsts”. It concludes with the International Space Station and Sergei Krilalev, who holds the record for most days in space (803). The glossary has less topics (6), but more details on each of the different programs followed by a detailed index. Due to the historical nature of this content the photos are a bit dark, but will quickly bring these major events into focus for the intermediate reader. The text and photos are supplemented by Xtreme Facts and Quotes. The rest of the series contains Exploration, Robots & Rovers, Sky Watch, Solar System, and Stars. The 2011 copyright won’t affect the usefulness of this title though this would be more of a browsing book rather than useful for research due to the brevity of each first.
EXPLORATION
ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review by same author for Astronaut Firsts in the Xtreme Space series. Beginning with President Kennedy’s 1961charge to send a man safely to and from the moon by the end of the 1960s, this book then quickly recounts the major missions in space exploration—the moon, Mars, Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its moons, Planet Quest and Terrestrial Planet Finder, the Kepler mission and the 2012 launch of the Gaia mission to map the Milky Way. Includes a 10-word glossary with good definitions plus a detailed index.
New York Yankees
ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
HOWELL, BRIAN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
New York Yankee or pro baseball fans will enjoy ABDO’s SportsZone Inside MLB series. With snappy text full of major players, the intermediate reader will learn about the Yankees’ history from its beginnings in 1901 as the Baltimore Orioles to its transition to the Highlanders in NYC and finally to its current name starting in 1913. Babe Ruth, the most famous baseball player of all time, changed the course of Yankees’ success. Before acquiring Ruth from the Red Sox, they had never won a World Series, but afterwards they began their meteoric rise. The team’s Hall of Famers & MVPs including Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, Maris, Jackson, Jeter, and Rodriguez are all chronicled with personal information, pivotal games, seasons, and winning and losing streaks. The text and timeline carry the reader through the 2010 season, so any new statistics will date this book. It can still be a very informative, entertaining look at the most famous professional team. Due to its historical nature the photos tend toward darker images, but the informative captions, fact boxes, clean graphics, timeline, quick stats, quotes and anecdotes, glossary, further information and index all contribute to this being quality nonfiction for the sports fan.
The Star Island Spirits
Magic Wagon [Magic Wagon]
Specter, Baron
Evans, Dustin
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This is the fifth adventure in the Ghostly Graphic Adventures series by Magic Wagon/Graphic Planet. After a page listing the heroes and villains the graphic novel begins with 2 types of text—one block of narrative or background information and the other dialogue balloons. The two heroes, Joey and Hank, are exploring Star Island, where Blackbeard, the pirate, is said to have left treasure guarded by his wife, and for which he never returned. The boys encounter a young girl Mitty, who leads them to a cave that is only visible at low tide during a full moon. Joey almost drowns trying to climb up in this cave and is pushed into the water by the ghost of Blackbeard’s first mate. He survives, but only ghosts are the only explanation for the mysterious singing in the empty church, and finally the graves of Mitty and her sisters, who died in 1863. The final page on Star Island explains the history of these legends of the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast. This is a decent graphic novel, scary enough for the intended reader, especially since it’s somewhat based on fact. The title concludes with a glossary and website.
Clarence Birdseye: Frozen Food Innovator
ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
MATTERN, JOANNE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
See review for The Kellogg Family by same author. This food product will be less familiar to children and thus of less initial interest, but if teachers would read this aloud students might be amazed at the life and many inventions this one man is responsible for. Though he didn’t invent freezing food, after living in Labrador and witnessing the Inuit way of preserving fish, he developed an efficient way to flash freeze, store, and transport it. He went on to develop other food preservation methods along with 300 patents on a wide variety of items. This is a life worth reading about.
The Kellogg Family: Breakfast Cereal Pioneers
ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
MATTERN, JOANNE
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Checkerboard Biography Library Food Dudes features famous names in the food industry. The Kellogg brothers, John (a doctor) and W. K, together stumbled upon the first wheat flakes as they experimented with healthy foods for the Battle Creek Hospital Sanitarium, where John was the medical superintendent. Raised with a healthy diet as Seventh-Day Adventists, John was a purist in not having sugar, salt or meat as part of his patients’ diets. He and W.K. had a falling out over W.K.’s addition of sugar to his corn flakes that continued the rest of their lives. W.K. went on to found the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, today known as the Kellogg Company. Both men continued to serve the public in different ways throughout their lives making for an interesting story for intermediate readers. This 32-page book follows the typical Checkerboard format with the desired nonfiction text features from table of contents through index. There seem to be some unnecessary punctuation and could have used better editing on page 5-6. Despite these quibbles, it’s still a good example of report writing. Others in the series include Ben & Jerry, Clarence Birdseye , Robert Cade (Gatorade), & Milton Hershey.
Ebox
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books [Marshall Cavendish Children's Books]
Zabludoff, Marc
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Part of the Green Cars series by Marshall Cavendish, this 48-page offering has bright color photos with lots of white space to offset the larger amount of text. The book begins with a 4-page introduction to the fuels we use, the impact on the environment, and the alternative fuels that have been developed. The AC Propulsion Company converts existing gasoline-powered cars into fully electric vehicles with rechargeable batteries that they call the eBox. The text gives the history of the electric car with the focus of Alan Cocconi’s work on continued research to improve this technology. Consequently there are only dozens of these cars on the roads, with the intent that by the public seeing these will create a demand that major automakers heed. Despite the 2011 copyright this could still be a useful text for students interested in background on the topic or studying environmental concerns. It’s also good for analyzing the subject with a well-rounded presentation of the issues. This has all of the desired nonfiction features from labels, diagrams, captions, glossary, further information and websites, and a detailed index.
Hot Air Balloon
Cherry Lake Publishing [Cherry Lake Publishing]
MASTERS, NANCY ROBINSON
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
One of the How Does It Fly? books about different aircraft and how they work, this 24-page title has four chapters, a glossary, further information and index. The text is very straight forward and seemingly intended for a beginning reader in its sentence structure and large font. The strength of this offering may be in its very vivid color photographs whereas most captions repeat information found in the text. Also, most pages have a right hand question or participation probe. This is a nice introduction for the young reader to a colorful topic they may find of interest especially if they’ve seen such contraptions. Others in the series cover blimps, bomber planes, fighter planes, gilders, helicopters, jet planes and propeller planes.
Animal Invaders
Rourke Publishing [Rourke Publishing]
Tourville, Amanda Doering
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This 48-page Let’s Explore Science book focuses on animals that are brought to a new environment and cause problems in this new habitat. A very helpful introduction defines these invaders and each major habitat with its native animals and a few invaders. The reader will then learn the various ways in which these invasive critters arrive (intentional unintentional, and naturally) and the harm some specific animals can cause including the worst offenders—brown tree snake, zebra mussel, red imported fire ants, nutria, and emerald ash borer. The book concludes with ways to try to control these invasive species followed by a glossary, index and websites. This is an excellent example of nonfiction text features—clear color photos,labels, captions that extend the text, diagrams, maps, factoid boxes, lists and tables. Others in this 2011 series include Build It Green, Exploring the Solar System, Infections, Infestations, and Diseases, Plants Out of Place and You Can’t Wear These Genes.
Clean Water
CHILDS WORLD [CHILDS WORLD]
Thomas, Elizabeth
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This book begins with an answer to the question, “Why care about clean water?” Then follow 12 tips, 1 per double-page spread, that a young person could possibly enact. Each tip is followed by a “Why?” with an answer opposite a color photo plus caption of that demonstrated. The browns of the graphics make this a bit dark as are some of the photos, but all in all these are straight-forward suggestions worth sharing with kids. Nothing should be new to an adult, but it’s important to make sure impressionable kids get off to a responsible start with such reminders as shorten showers, reuse pet water or unused drinking water, use less toilet water by partially filling the tank with a container of sand, or clean up litter at local rivers or beaches. Go Green, the title of the series, is nowhere to be found on this Child’s World cover though a list of all in the series is—Changing Habits, Living Green, Clean Air, Conserving Energy, Good Food, Good for Earth, Protecting Animals, Protecting Land, and Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This could be shared with 2nd graders as well.
GREEN KID'S GUIDE TO COMPOSTING
LOOKING GLASS LIBRARY [ABDO]
LAY, RICHARD
ZARRIN, LAURA
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Stein, Valerie
Well-presented NF text for early primary grades, this is a fine treatment of composting, both how it works and why we might want to try it. Two-page spreads are well-designed, with clear, simple text on one page paired with a richly-colored, well-rendered illustration of what’s being discussed on the facing page. Text features include a good glossary, a couple of projects to do for further learning, and an index. The failure of well-regarded publishers to include any kind of bibliographic sources in non-fiction text which meets other criteria for curricular material is highly problematic. Also problematic is what the reader has to do in order to learn more about green gardening, like so: “Web sites about green gardening are featured on our Book Links page.” Maybe I am just stupid, but I figured this information was in error when I went to the site. It would never occur to me to go inside the eBook version of this book to look for links, based on the description given above. That is where they are, and I imagine they’ll remain un-visited much of the time, especially if families and young students are searching. If only a person Too bad- the links are good ones.
TAKE MY ADVICE
PUTNAM PUBLISHING (JUVENILE) [PUTNAM PUBLISHING (JUVENILE)]
PALMER, ROBIN
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 13, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Lucy B. Parker fans will enjoy #4 in the Yours Truly, Lucy B. Parker series, of which there are now five. Lucy is a verbose seventh grader, who in a previous book, won the class president election over a snooty, popular girl. In this title, she has several problems—trying to find a hobby or extracurricular activity that proves to her step-father that she’s on the college track, admitting to her BFF that she has a crush on her brother, and trying to avoid going to the school dance while advising others about it. Lucy’s famous step-sister again helps her out and encourages her to take over the school newspaper’s advice column anonymously as her hobby is collecting advice and sharing it. Perhaps she’ll be able to solve all of her issues simultaneously. This breezy, fast paced text is all from Lucy’s POV for girls from Gr. 4-7.
Bye-Bye Baby Brother!
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Dempsey, Sheena
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Ruby's mother is busy with Oliver, Ruby's new brother. In fact, it often seems that her mother is so involved with the baby that she has no time for Ruby. Ruby dreams of ways to get rid of her nemesis. Sell him at the grocery store or at a yard sale? Nah. Finally she settles on sending him off in a rocket. When she builds her cardboard rocket, however, Mother suggests it might be a good trip for all of them, together (including the dog). The shared imaginary adventure makes Ruby reconsider her original plan. This is a gently humorous story with soft, very light, pastel and ink illustrations that sometimes seem to fade into the page. It presents a common situation in a warm and loving way.
Hedgehog's Magic Tricks
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Paul, Ruth
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Hedgehog is not having much luck with his magic tricks, and his audience of animal friends is disappointed. However, as his friends, they also want him to be successful. So they provide their own supportive "magic" trick that makes everyone happy. This is a sweet tale of friendship with soft pastel illustrations and a text suitable for early readers. It will please children who like stories as warm as a tight hug.
ONE DIRECTION : POPULAR BOY BAND
BUDDY BOOKS [ABDO]
TIECK, SARAH
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Tweens who are into boy bands are probably more familiar with "One Direction" than this reviewer. The band was formed by Simon Cowell from contestants on the British show "The X Factor." Each of the 4 members is cute and snappily dressed, with hair product aplenty. This book actually offers a pretty good basic introduction. It describes how the group was formed, how they work together, and gives a brief bio of each member of the group. Bright fan-friendly photographs will get those young girls squealing. There's a glossary and index but readers won't be going to this book for reports. It's sure to be a hit with fans.
SCREAM STREET : HEART OF THE MUMMY
UNKNOWN [UNKNOWN]
DONBAVAND, TOMMY
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This is book #3 in the popular "Scream Street" series. Luke and his parents were moved to Scream Street when Luke started turning into a werewolf. His parents are having trouble adjusting so Luke and his two friends--a pseudo vampire and a mummy--are working together to gather six relics. These will give Luke a chance to return his parents to the world they know. In this volume our heroes are after a mummy's heart. It's not that easy, however. They meet a mummy with a sense of humor and a huge ego, deal with a scourge of spiders, trade with the zombies, and have to outwit the evil supervisor of Scream Street. These books are well-bound and have just enough scary to draw in the Goosebump crowd. While not extraordinary literature, they are, nevertheless, very popular. I recommend the series for purchase.
NIGHT HUNGER
STOKE BOOKS [STOKE BOOKS]
GIBBONS, ALAN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
7th grade to 9th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
John has a hunger. At first regular food satisfies it, but then he starts longing for meat…then blood. It all started when he was bitten on the neck by that strange new girl in school. Now a teacher has been found, ripped apart, and John realizes his girlfriend is in danger, and not just from the new girl. The full moon is coming. Can he maintain any level of control? This is a very short horror story that would fit well into secondary school libraries, especially for high-interest, low-vocabulary readers. Some problems with language make it inappropriate for an elementary library. Nevertheless, the author uses wonderful figurative language that brings the whole story to blood-curdling life...or death.
CASE OF THE BOOKSTORE BURGLAR
PRICE STERN SLOAN [PRICE STERN SLOAN]
ROSENBERG, AARON
Harrington, David
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Pete and Penny's parents own a pizza parlor. Both children love to solve puzzles. When a new book store opens next door they find many puzzling things happening. What could possibly be going on? Is someone deliberately trying to sabotage their neighbors? This is book #3 in the "Pete and Penny's Pizza Puzzles" series. There are plenty of puzzles for readers to solve. (Solutions are in the back of the book.) The 8 chapters and 64 pages, with occasional black and white illustrations, make this a good choice for those just transitioning to chapter book.
Mountain Top Mystery
ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY [ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY]
Warner, Gertrude Chandle
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 15, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This is the 9th Boxcar Children mystery. In it the Aldens climb a mountain, are briefly stranded, meet an elderly Indian woman, reunite her with her grandson, and find a hidden treasure. Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are all well-mannered, and Benny is obsessed with food. These books are written to a formula, of course, and are a tad dated. Nevertheless, they are popular with children who want an easy chapter book that doesn't LOOK easy.
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG : THE MAGICAL CAR
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
FLEMING, IAN
BERGER, JOE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 15, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Originally published in 1964 this childhood classic is back and will be sure to surprise those children who have only seen the movie. Here is the story of the magical car that managed to add her own special features, while being renovated by Commander Caractacus Pott. Soon the Commander, his wife, and their two children--Jeremy and Jemima--are off on a family vacation that turns into a dangerous adventure as their destroy the headquarters of an international criminal. Jeremy and Jemima are kidnapped and made to play a role in a chocolate shop robbery. Fortunately their cleverness (and the car's homing device) make it impossible for the crooks to succeed. This is the only children's book written by the creator of James Bond. Each chapter ends with our heroes in deadly peril. The writing is fun and rereading it helped me remember why it was such a popular read-aloud when I was in elementary school.
Vote
Wendy Lamb Books [RANDOM HOUSE]
Paulsen, Gary
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 17, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Kevin Spencer (of Crush, Flat Broke, and Liar Liar) is back as his normal conniving self. He figures he knows how to work the system, and the people who exist in the system, so why shouldn't he RUN the system? Yes, politics is an obvious choice. (And the boy who is running for class president seems to have eyes on Kevin's girl so, naturally, that inspires his sudden political fervor.) Now he just needs a plan, and he needs to stop alienating those who support him. Then there's the whole problem of coping with his family and friends. Oh, and did I mention that he really has no desire to win? How do you run a successful campaign that earns you the attention of your peers, while deliberately trying to make sure the other guy wins? Ah, here's the man with the plan! Fans of this short-chapter series will be pleased with this new book.
LONELY EXISTENCE OF ASTEROIDS AND COMETS
GRAPHIC LIBRARY [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
WEAKLAND, MARK
RON, CARLOS
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 19, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This Graphic Library Adventures in Science title introduces asteroids and comets along with their place in the solar system and their long history as humans know it. This is adequate nonfiction with a graphic style. Each dark illustration contains a fact box with straight forward, informative text. This might appeal as possibly less threatening than a science book with color photos and blocks of text though it’s not a lot different. The most “comical” part of the drawings is in people’s faces. The 32 pages concludes with a detailed glossary, four books and the FactHound website plus a decent index. Others in this series include Rocks and the People Who Love Them, The Secret Lives of Plants! and When Volcanoes Erupt!
BALANCED DIET
HEINEMANN RAINTREE LIBRARY [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
VEITCH, CATHERINE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 19, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
In the large format Acorn Read-Aloud style A Balanced Diet introduces the five food groups through good visuals and straight forward, medium-sized text. The colorful photos are especially crisp and clear accurately depicting the text. Besides pages on each food group (fruit, vegetables, grains, meat, and dairy) fats, sugars and oils are included. The book concludes with recommendations for exercise and sleep to maintain a healthy body. All desired nonfiction features are in place from the contents page through the glossary and brief index. A note to parents and teachers gives suggestions for pre and post reading discussions. Others in the Healthy Eating with MyPlate series include a book on each of the food groups, and Using MyPlate.
MELONHEAD AND THE VEGALICIOUS DISASTER
DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
KELLY, KATY
JOHNSON, GILLIAN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 20, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
5th grade is starting and Adam "Melonhead" Melon has much to worry about. Can his new teacher possibly be as bad as people say? Will the addition of a new friend, in a wheelchair, break up old friendships? Who will be the worthy subject of his biography report? And, worst of all, how will he cope with his mother's overly-enthusiastic venture into adding vegetables to the family menu--in glorious and reckless (though often inedible) splendor? This is the 4th Melonhead book and it is filled with lively language, hilarious situations, occasional black and white illustrations, and just enough gross-out humor to please boy readers. Mind you, girls will enjoy the well-developed characters and the humor as well. If you're into the Melonhead series this is a worthy addition. If not, perhaps you need to buy the first three books as well as this one.
Reporter In Disguise: The Intrepid Vic Steinberg
FITZHENRY & WHITESIDE [FITZHENRY & WHITESIDE]
Welldon, Christine
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
6th grade to 12th grade
June 21, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
In the 1890's in Toronto, Canada, there was an outrageous female newspaper reporter. She disguised herself and went places no respectable woman would go so she could write stories exposing the truth to her readers. She dressed as a man to watch rugby. She worked in sweat shops and as a lady's maid. She went to taverns, learned fencing, and tried to sell books door to door. Who was Vic Steinberg? Nobody really knows. She used a pen name, and stopped writing under that name in 1895. Still, the author does her best to provide readers with what information is available. The book includes a variety of photographs, most of which are only tangentially related to the story. I would have enjoyed more of Vic Steinberg's actual columns. The biggest problem with the book? The print is too small. Even with my bifocals it was a challenge to read. (And, c'mon, these are new glasses.) I think most readers might find the font size a challenge. Nevertheless, this is an interesting book about a little-known character from Canadian history.
SACRED
DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
ARNOLD, ELANA K
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
9th grade to 12th grade/Young Adult
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Scarlett Wenderoth lives on Catalina Island, in a small community where everyone knows everyone's else's business. Scarlett and her parents are grieving the unexpected loss of her older brother, and while her parents remain overwhelmed and distant, she finds herself obsessing over weight loss and food, finally resorting to cutting herself to deal with the numbing loss. While this could easily turn into an "issues" book, grief, anorexia, cutting, racism, homophobia, and date rape are somehow all handled without becoming heavy handed. The book is also filled with normal bits from a small town high school, and Scarlett thankfully has a wonderful, fashion-obsessed best friend and a mysterious new crush to help her along. The book progresses into one about Jewish mysticism, love, and letting go, continuing to intrigue and surprise the reader up to the very end. Best of, this is a book where readers expect Scarlett to be rescued by the loving people around her, especially as she is so fragile and numb at the beginning But by the end, she manages to rescue not only herself, but those around her.
DARK UNWINDING
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
CAMERON, SHARON
BLOOM, TOM
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
9th grade to 12th grade/Young Adult
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Despite a very steampunk cover, this book is more a historical fiction taking place in the Victorian era. Orphaned Katherine in sent by her evil, conniving aunt to her eccentric uncle's large, mysterious estate to establish whether or not he is crazy. She is instructed to find Uncle Tully insane, so his estate can pass to her awful aunt's lazy, useless son. What Katherine finds is a massive gasworks and a hodgepodge group of fiercely loyal subjects who will do anything to protect fragile Tully, his crazy ideas, and their way of life. What is most fascinating about this challenging book is that it is based on Welbeck Abbey and a mysterious Duke who did indeed build a roller skating rink at the estate, and employ many people rescued from the work houses. The language style is difficult, and characterization is subtle, so this book is more suited for skilled readers. The first half of the book is rather slow going and takes a lot of persistence before the more fast paced second half. Katherine is not always an easy character to root for, despite her terrible upbringing, and many of the other heroes in the book are somewhat antiheroes as well. The book ends with a cliffhanger, and the sequel is due out in September.
ADELE
TWENTY FIRST CENTURY BOOKS [LERNER PUBLICATIONS COMPANY]
DOEDEN, MATT
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
6th grade to 12th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the USA Today Lifeline Biographies series, this book tells the life story of "Soul Music's Magical Voice", Adele. The books begins with Adele making her triumphant comeback at the 2012 Grammy's, and the begins to tell her story from the beginning. Words are defined in parenthesis in the text, and the book is sprinkled with In Focus sections on her musical influences (pretty much everyone, apparently), and news articles that barely connect to the story being told (such as college majors and their job prospects or what sort of online content people are willing to pay for), that are simply USA Today articles that are reprinted in the book. While the book does include the standard index, timeline, bibliography, and other book features, the writing is disjointed, the story often uninteresting, and the "bonus" news article throughout are distracting. There are better Adele biographies out there, ones that focus on being a well edited and well told biography, rather than a constant promotion of USA Today.
In The Tree House
KIDS CAN PRESS [KIDS CAN PRESS]
Larsen, Andrew
Petricic, Dusan
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
This picture book has a dark, intriguing cover featuring a tree house and a starry sky. It is a sweet story of two brothers who used to play together in the treehouse, but have drifted apart as the older one has found new interests. A neighborhood blackout on a hot summer night reunites them in a beautifully illustrated story. The pictures are well done, but the writing is unfortunately rather boring, and what could be a beautifully lyrical tale is told in straightforward prose. Adults reading the book will appreciate the story of brothers and childhood (based on the author's life), but it will be lost on most young picture book audiences.
UNDEAD
Chicken House [Chicken House]
MCKAY, KIRSTY
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
6th grade to 12th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Bobby is the new girl, born in England but raised in America, who is stuck on a bus with her new classmates in Scotland, who mock her accent and lack of coolness. Smitty is a rebellious, attractive classmate who is also forced to wait on the bus while everyone else traipses across the snow for a lunch break at a diner. No one returns, and before you know it, there are undead moans and severed limbs strewn about. This debut novel has the standard high school zombie story down-- school trip, snotty classmates, outcast hero, and plenty of zombies. Thankfully, this book also has humor and gore, making it a fun read. It is also set in Scotland, which helps the story be a bit different than the many zombie tales set in suburban American high schools. It does not stand alone, as it ends with quite a cliffhanger, and readers will need to continue on with Unfed, the sequel, to find out what happens. The book isn't amazing, but it also isn't terrible, and is a solid addition for a collection needing books on zombie high schoolers, which really, should be every library.
Snippet The Early Riser
Knopf Books for Young Readers [RANDOM HOUSE]
Murguia, Bethanie Deeney
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Snippet is a morning snail, while Papa, Mama, and Sister Snail prefer to sleep in. Snippet employs his bug friends to try and wake them up, and of course, by the time they awake, he is pretty tired from all his efforts.... The book has fun snail facts on the end papers, and the story is told in simple text with funny asides written in speech bubbles. The illustrations are cute and colorful, and each snail has a great shell design, such as plaid or floral. A sweet, simple, fun story, this book is great for new readers, story time, or lap sit.
FOOTWORK : THE STORY OF FRED AND ADELE ASTAIRE
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
ORGILL, ROXANE
JORISCH, STEPHANE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
This Candlewick Biography tells the story of the early life of Fred Astaire and his sister, Adele. The book follows them from the early 1900s as they appear in Vaudeville, travel, go to school, and end up on Broadway and in London. (The book is from 2007, but was recently republished in a new format). Each chapter is about 2-4 pages long and has an illustration on every page. It is 36 pages long and includes an index, resources, and author's note. The text is simple, straight forward, fast paced, and interesting, though the faces in the illustrations are creepy. The book is unique in its focus on Fred's early life, as his well known success in Hollywood only merits a one page chapter at the end of the book. It tells the story of Fred AND Adele, concentrating on teamwork, hard work, and stepping out from the shadows of a talented older sibling.
GANGSTERS, BOOTLEGGERS, AND BANDITS
LERNER PUBLICATIONS COMPANY [LERNER PUBLICATIONS COMPANY]
SCHWARTZ, HEATHER E
Not Recommended -- Does not meet library standards in style, content or design.
2nd grade to 4th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the Shock Zone Villians series ("High Energy Topics, Powerful Reads"), this book is designed to engage reluctant readers with colorful, active pages filled with captions, pictures, and simple text on an exciting topic. After the introduction, each chapter (2-4 pages in length) tells the story of a high profile gangster, with words defined throughout the book. The idea is a great one, but falls far short of the mark, as the book's attempts to engage readers results in a glorification of violence and gangster lifestyle. The first line of the book ("Broken laws, broken skulls, bullet holes.") grabs reader's attention, that's for sure, but the book then continues with pictures of dead bodies, and quotes about the importance of not ratting out others. There is no emphasis on consequences or discussions of danger, just a collection of stories on how cool it was to be a gangster or mobster. Schools and parents would be concerned about the book's content, and to top it off, the writing is jarring and insulting to readers.
Peppa Pig And The Muddy Puddles
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Based on a 2004 UK cartoon that is now in the U.S. on Nick Jr., this picture book follows Peppa Pig and her family during a rain storm. Peppa and George are waiting for the rain to stop so they can play in the mud puddles, but instead find that the storm has turned into a flood, so they travel in a boat with Granny and Grandpa Pig to deliver items to their neighbors, as "each house is on its own island". The illustrations are ok-- digitally rendered, a bit silly, and the pigs are odd shaped with distorted faces. Not a bad picture book, and fans of the show will enjoy it, but there is nothing outstanding about it, either.
Thunder Creek Ranch
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS [ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS]
Charko, Kasia
Charko, Kasia
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Jake and his younger brother Timmy are visiting their grandparents' ranch, when they end up trapped on the wrong side of a flooded creek with city kid Cory. The boys must use their country smarts and bravery to find a way to get home safely, despite Cory's bullying ways that he employs to hide his fear. From the Orca Echoes series, the book (the fourth starring these characters) is aimed at middle grade chapter book readers. There are occasional black and white pencil illustrations, and each chapter is about 6 pages long, with slightly enlarged font. Each chapter has a title, though there is no table of contents, and the thoughts of the characters are presented in italics. The binding is flimsy and will not hold up well. The book lacks a satisfying resolution for bully Cory: "He bragged, drove like a madman, and could be kind of mean sometimes. But he wasn't as bad as he tried to be." (page 60) Cory, in fact, is more than "kind of" mean, and is pretty much mean ALL the time. Yes, it is an act to cover up fear, but young readers may miss all of that, and the book lacks clarity for young readers trying to understand character motivation and for schools trying to emphasize anti-bullying.
Max Spaniel : Best In Show
Hachette Children's Books [HACHETTE CHILDREN'S BOOKS]
Catrow, David
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the Max Spaniel series, this level one book contains simple sentences, sight words, and sound out words, according to the back cover (but not sure how simple words such as judge, treasure, and shadow are for new readers). There are about two sentences per page, with silly illustrations, and jokes both kids and adults will like. Max and his friends compete in a pet show, resulting in a simply told, funny story with high interest for new readers (Guided Reading level 1 and Lexile 240L).
Mystery Of The Bewitched Bookmobile
ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY [ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY]
Heide, Florence Parry
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the Spotlight Club Mysteries series, this book attempts to take the conventions of a classic children's mystery series and bring it to the modern age, resulting in an unrealistic setting and characters, and a disjointed story. Cindy, Jay, and Dexter help solve a mystery surrounding their beloved book mobile, with plenty of adult characters who behave well in front of children, even though when they are the bad guys. The town seems small and perfectly safe, very Mayberry-esque, but somehow set in modern day, resulting in a muddied setting that doesn't grab the readers' interest. The story even ends with the classic bad guy line "If it hadn't been for you and those nosey boys...". The book does not include a list of other books in the series, but does include a table of contents and a title for each chapter. Chapters are about 10-12 pages long and have occasional illustrations and enlarged font. Librarians will appreciate the very cool bookmobile librarian, who rides a red motorbike.
MY HAPPY LIFE
GECKO PRESS [GECKO PRESS]
LAGERCRANTZ, ROSE
ERICKSON, EVA
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Dani is starting school, and soon befriends Ella, and together they have many fun, young girl adventures. Dani is generally always happy, but becomes very sad when Ella moves away. Her dad, teacher, and classmates find ways to help cheer her up. With large print, frequent illustrations, and short chapters, this book looks on the surface to be another great, cheerful chapter book for new readers. But adults will quickly grasp that this story is a sweetly told tale of sadness, loss and grief, as it is also slowly, carefully, and honestly reveals that Dani's mother is dead, and that it is just Dani and her dad facing down her school and friendship problems. A well-told, sweet, honest, and occasionally sad story, this book is a great addition to a library collection and would be a ideal classroom read aloud for discussion.
Lost Tooth Rescue!
Scholastic, Inc. [Scholastic, Inc.]
Ledger, Kate
May, Kyla
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the Twin Magic series, this book is listed as a Grade Two Reading Level, for the developing reader with new vocabulary and longer sentences. Lottie, who is messy and hurried, and Mia, who is clean and organized, are twins who can chant a charm to turn them into the magical Super Twins (with help from Rosie the Unicorn). They help their new friend Anna at school, who loses her tooth. The illustrations are very cartoony and the book has about 3-4 sentences per page. The idea is very cute, but the ending is pretty lame. However, young readers will love the colorful, fun, unicorn filled books!
ADELE : GRAMMY-WINNING SINGER & SONGWRITER
ESSENTIAL LIBRARY [ABDO]
OWINGS, LISA
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
6th grade to 12th grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
From the Contemporary Lives series, this biography tells the life story of Grammy Award winning Soul artist Adele. The book is 8 chapters long, with each chapter about 10-14 pages in length. The book includes a table of contents, glossary, timeline, resources, index, basic facts, and suggestions for further reading. The book includes pictures and quotes from Adele, and has slightly enlarged text. Of course, any book written about someone who is still alive will become outdated, but the book is well bound and is a very solid, well done biography for a library collection.
AFTER ELI
CANDLEWICK PRESS [WALKER & COMPANY]
RUPP, REBECCA
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
9th grade to 12th grade/Young Adult
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Daniel Anderson's beloved older brother Eli is killed in Iraq, and as a way of coping with his grief, his numbly absent mother, and his insensitive father, Eli creates a Book of the Dead, a binder full of information on how and why people died. Danny surprisingly befriends small town outcast Walter, and New York City transplant Isabelle, and they spend a strange, wonderful summer together, resulting in a beautiful, honest tale of war for the people left behind. The book manages to tell not only of the fear, loss, and hope of those going on without their loved ones, but also of a young man coping with his future, changing friendships, and small town prejudices. The book will appeal to both male and female readers, with enough interesting topics for reluctant readers, and plenty of subtlety for mature readers, making it an excellent class read and a great addition to a library collection. By the end of the book, I too was grieving the loss of Eli and his sweet, silly, and achingly real relationship with his younger brother.
Pomelo's Opposites
ENCHANTED LION BOOKS [ENCHANTED LION BOOKS]
Badescu, Ramona
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
More fun from Pomelo, the tiny, pink garden elephant! This book is small, thick, and sturdy, about the size of a board book, but with picture book pages. This particular book teaches the concept of opposites, going so far as to show opposites from the front cover (the back cover shows, of course, the back of Pomelo and the title backwards) and the end papers. The usual opposite concepts are included, but with so many pages available (it is a lengthy book), the book is also full of fun, silly, and unexpected combinations, such as dressed vs. bare, real vs. pretend, and gastropod vs. cucurbit! The Pomelo books are always delightful, and this one is no different.
Littleland
NOSY CROW [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Billet, Marion
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Billed as "Search-and-say fun for little ones!", this book is a simple picture book full of items for readers to search for in the illustrations. A simple story is told along the way, with anywhere from 4-10 lines of text per page. The digitally created illustrations are simple and colorful, with the items to search for shown at the bottom of the page. The end papers are also quite colorful and include pictures of the items to search for as well. A fun book, though definitely not necessary for a school library collection.
Bug Patrol
CLARION [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Mortensen, Denise Dowlin
Bell, Cece
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
A picture book with acrylic and ink illustrations, this book follows Captain Bob on his bug patrol. The text begins with the time (9 a.m.) and the first call of the day. Captain Bob sorts out many bug-related misdemeanors throughout the day, returning to his own bug family at the end. The rhyming text is simple, with large font and large, simple pictures. The vocabulary is occasionally challenging (cruller and perpetrator are included), and the book itself isn't especially great, but children will love the combination of police and bugs, and will particularly enjoy the "Wee-o!" of the siren.
Curious George Saves His Pennies
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
Rey, H A
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
Everyone's favorite monkey has worked hard to save $5 to buy a red train at the toy store. When George loses his piggybank and it is recovered by a nice little girl, he must decide how to properly thank her. While a page of money facts are included at the end, the text throughout could have done a better job explaining concepts of money, counting, addition, and subtraction. The book includes a pop out coin bank, which is not ideal for a library book. This hardbound, reinforced binding will last well in a library, necessary any time Curious George appears on the cover of a picture book!
At The Beach
Peachtree Publishers [Peachtree Publishers]
Spurr, Elizabeth
Oliphant, Manelle
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Pre-Kindergarten
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
A board that begins immediately on the inside cover, this simple book follows a young boy spending the day on the beach. Initially, the book has just one or two words per page, such as "pail" or "shore", but the books are not anywhere near the actual items they are describing. Later on, the book has more text as the boy tires and spends lunch time with his mom. There isn't really a plot, but the book isn't exactly a concept book, either. The illustrations are soft, simple drawings. There are plenty of better board books and books about beaches out there.
Checkers And Dot At The Beach
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
Torres, J
Lum, J.
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Pre-Kindergarten
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
This board book begins immediately on the inside cover, following the Canadian characters of young Checkers (a boy in a checked shirt), Dot (a girl in a polka dot dress), Stripesy (a striped cat), and Spot (a spotted dog). The bold, black and white digital illustrations are particularly ideal for babies, and very young children will enjoy the rhyming text. The 4 characters spend the day at the beach, and the reader is asked to count the animals they meet (fish, crabs, etc.). The numbers (1-5) are in very large, bold contrast text on the page. All of the animals and the main characters appear together on the last page.
Checkers And Dot On The Farm
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
Torres, J
Lum, J.
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten
June 22, 2013
Samuel, Treasure
This board book begins immediately on the inside cover, following the Canadian characters of young Checkers (a boy in a checked shirt), Dot (a girl in a polka dot dress), Stripesy (a striped cat), and Spot (a spotted dog). The bold, black and white digital illustrations are particularly ideal for babies, and very young children will enjoy the rhyming text. The main characters spend the day at a farm, but the text is inconsistent when it comes to concepts. I was not sure if it was teaching animal names, animal noises, or animal activities.
Further Adventures Of Jack Lime
KIDS CAN PRESS [KIDS CAN PRESS]
Leck, James
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 23, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Jack Lime is a P.I. who tries to solve cases that develop at his high school. He's gained some enemies along the way--the local teen bookie, for one. But now it looks like he's being deliberately set up to take the fall for just about everything that's going on at the school. It's a sophisticated plot. Can he survive? This is a fun take on a teenaged Sam Spade character. It contains "The Case of the Missing Quarterback," "The Case of the Red Envelope," and "The Comic Book Caper." All of the cases are in some way intertwined and the first-person narrative in a journal format is a lot of fun. Our hero ends up in the principal's office fairly routinely, is threatened regularly by bullies, and cleverly unwinds some clues, only to be trapped by others. This is a sequel and both books would be a great step up for fans of Encyclopedia Brown or a good choice for Sammy Keyes fans.
ALIEN ON A RAMPAGE
HYPERION PRESS [HYPERION PRESS]
SMITH, CLETE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 23, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
David’s excitement on revisiting his Grandmother’s Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast is abruptly dashed when he encounters the hostile Scratchull in this sequel to Aliens on Vacation. His friend Amy, now the Director of Outings, and the head cook and juvenile alien play camp director, has little time for David. Her father Tate, the former town Sheriff, in charge of security, has assumed an irritating authority. Driving the plot is the ever-growing dance of antagonism between Scratchull and David. Scratchull ingratiates himself using his handyman skills and smooth talk, but David’s suspicions are realized when he overhears the devious plans to take over the universe. David’s only ally is Snarffle, a humorous purple, dog-like, alien pet, whose voracious appetite leads him to devour anything in sight. Tension mounts when David’s accusations against Scratchull are attributed to teen rebellion and he is to be sent home. This is an excellent science fiction series written for the middle grade and upper elementary readers in a genre that is mostly aimed at older audiences.
TREASURE ON SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN
HENRY HOLT & COMPANY (BYR) [MACMILLAN]
BROACH, ELISE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
June 23, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
We first met the Barker brothers and their friend Delilah in "Missing on Superstition Mountain" where they were seeking a lost gold mine, Delilah was injured, and they were shot at. This did not please their parents. Now they are specifically forbidden to set foot on Superstition Mountain. Naturally this means that they are just waiting for the adults to get out of the picture to continue their quest. Now they even have proof the mine exists, and is that a map? Delilah's in a walking cast. The desert is a dangerous place. Rock falls are common and so are rattlesnakes. Still the kids brave the wilderness in search of the gold mine that everyone has been looking for. They follow clues, visit a ghost town, and have their suspicions about local town residents. Let's face it--the librarian is awfully creepy. Oh, and someone definitely seems out to get them. This is another mystery adventure story that would please an elementary school audience.
POISON
HYPERION PRESS [HYPERION PRESS]
ZINN, BRIDGET
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 25, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
16-year-old Kyra is traveling through the kingdom with her tracking pig, looking for the princess, who she intends to kill. She's already tried once, without success, so she's now having to dodge those who are trying to stop this teenage assassin. Oh, and did I mention that the princess is also her best friend? Kyra is a potioner and has plenty of weapons training. Her potions can disable or kill, and she's more than able to protect herself, usually. Now, however, things have changed. She's sure the fate of the kingdom depends on her but she's on the run and there's that terribly annoying cute guy who keeps popping up unexpectedly. Her constant attempts to ditch him add to the humor. This is a fun fantasy novel. The writing is fresh, breezy, and often hilarious, but there are also moments of true tension. There are also surprises that the author keeps hidden from the reader until near the end of the book. In style this is the sort of book that Jessica Day George fans, or Shannon Hale fans, will happily embrace. The tragedy is that this Portland author passed away in 2011, and this was her debut novel.
Here Lies Linc
Knopf Books for Young Readers [RANDOM HOUSE]
Ray, Delia
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 26, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Linc has decided to attend regular middle school even though little about his life is "regular." He lost his father several years ago. His mother is a rather unusual looking expert on graveyards. He lives next to the cemetery, and his best friend appears to be the groundskeeper. When his class is assigned to select one gravestone and do research for a report, Linc chooses the black angel, which is rumored to be cursed. As he researches he becomes closer with a neighbor who provides important clues, gains a few friends, faces an adult bully, and discovers something about his family that had been long hidden. The author's note at the end shows the research she did in finding out the story behind the black angel, and gives readers additional insight. This is a well-written, interesting novel that has a strong underlying message about the value of research and family heritage
Shadow Breakers
Chicken House [Chicken House]
Blythe, Daniel
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 27, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Miranda and her mother and baby brother have just moved to the village of Firecroft Bay, and something is wrong there. Miranda is having nightmares--a shadowy figure singing "ring around the rosie..." Her new school has its typical groups but she soon finds herself aligning with a particular one--one that is exploring the paranormal activities of the region. They seem to have some idea about the weird things that are happening. Miranda doesn't know it, but she will be the key to their battle against a rising darkness. This is a very "English" novel with slight elements of fantasy, science-fiction, and horror. While competently written, one never feels like the characters or situations are fully fleshed out. On the other hand, the author does a nice job making shivers run down the readers' spines.
Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact
RAZORBILL [PENGUIN]
Hartley, A.J.
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 28, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
After the death of his parents eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright is sent from his former home in England to live with an aunt in the United States. She's rich, but pretty much clueless about raising kids. The school she chooses for him is not a good fit and he is soon bullied by both students and staff for his accent and his inability to fit in. He only makes two friends, both of whom are misfits as well. That's all right, however, because he has discovered he has a unique ability. A mysterious shopkeeper, Mr. Peregrine, has given him an unusual mirror. After sunset it leads to a different world. At first it seems harmless, but gradually things worsen and Darwen realizes that his own world is in danger. He and his friends must find a way to stop a deadly enemy before everything they love is destroyed. This is a fairly fast-paced fantasy adventure novel that might appeal to Charlie Bone fans. The second book in the series is already out.
BOY IN THE BOX : MASTER MELVILLE'S MEDICINE SHOW
CLARION [CLARION]
FAGAN, CARY
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
4th grade to 6th grade
June 29, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Eleven-year-old Sullivan is not completely happy with his life. His parents are struggling financially. His little sister is annoying. There's a bully who is tormenting him at school. Then a shady medicine show comes through town and Sullivan, a juggler, is kidnapped to be part of the troupe. The other children in the show were also stolen, and they are kept locked in the caravan at night. Yet each has a skill that makes the show a success. together with the husband and wife who run the show they make an usual and somewhat coerced family. Sullivan tries running away without success. His family believes he has drowned. What will become of him? Is being part of the show really such a bad life? This is a well-written book with interesting characters. The ending, however, raised this reviewer's eyebrows. Is there going to be a sequel? While solidly written, this is not going to be an easy sell with most young readers.
YOUNG HEALER
MACKINAC ISLAND PRESS [MACKINAC ISLAND PRESS]
MCMILLAN, FRANK N, III
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
June 30, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Eleven-year-old Feather Anderson is half Lakota, but her mother abandoned that tradition to be a high-price lawyer in New York City. Now Feather's little brother is hovering near death in the hospital, and her grandfather, a Lakota medicine man, has come to introduce Feather to her heritage. This first-person novel takes readers on a trip filled with almost magical coincidences as Feather and her grandfather go on a spirit guest through New York City to gain the power they will need to heal her little brother. This is a gentle, empathetic, often humorous but heart-touching book that seamlessly blends in Native American beliefs with modern-day life. The pursuit of tradition in the big city is beautifully portrayed, and the way all the odd events tie together imply a rhythm in the world that cannot be disrupted by tall buildings and crowded sidewalks. There are not nearly enough books featuring Native American culture in a modern setting, and this award-winning volume merits a place in your collection.