Reviews for month


Peace Warriors
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 02, 2013
Seasholes, Craig L
Subtitled "One Movement Six Bios" this is a well written collection of 6 succinct profiles of peaceful warriors including 4 oft-cited exemplars Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr, the Dalai Lama and two lesser known but notable women Dorothy Day and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Dorothy Day was a journalist and faith-based activist for social justice in the 1920's through the 70's. "Mama Sirleaf was Africa's first female president, elected to lead Liberia in 2007 through to today. Author Andrea Davis Pinkney has done great service in presenting the childhood background that each had to face in their own their place and time. Just these changemakers have prevailed against considerable obstacles, so the reader is left feeling empowered to take a stand for peace. The author asks. "Could we live in a world without violence?" With more books and people like these, I believe we come closer to that goal with every reader willing to consider the long arc of justice and their personal stake in the struggle for peace in our time. Bravo! The paperbound book includes many full color photographs of each subject and is a $7 bargain from Scholastic. Most highly recommended for grades 4 on up.
MISTER WHISTLER
GECKO PRESS [GECKO PRESS]
MAHY, MARGARET
BISHOP, GAVIN
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 03, 2013
Kay, Breean
Singing and dancing through his dreams, Mister Whistler can’t seem to tear himself away from his catchy tunes once it’s time to wake up. He can’t bring himself to stop dancing, as he gets dressed and ready for a train ride- even when he realizes he’s misplaced his train ticket. Inventively, Mister Whistler starts tap-dancing his clothing off, layer-by-layer, oblivious to a gathering crowd. The onlookers start to tip his hat for his offbeat performance of wiggling his clothes back on before the train arrives. Children will delightfully relate to the feeling of not wanting to interrupt their own activities in order to follow daily routines. Illustrations introduce them to clothing and styles from the early twentieth century. Humorous and intriguing, this story will appeal to a wide range of early listeners and readers.
LOOK UP! : BIRD-WATCHING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
CATE, ANNETTE LEBLANC
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 6th grade
October 03, 2013
Kay, Breean
While some might find the premise of getting younger children to check out their surroundings and take notice of the birds in their backyards, Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, isn’t the perfect vehicle for most young budding birdwatchers. Cate aims to reach young readers, but there is so much information and so many illustrations on each page, that it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Older children might find the cartoonish illustrations and conversation style of writing too juvenile. An ideal fit would be middle grade kids interested in sketching and wildlife. For that select niche, the vast amount of information about birds including colors, sounds, characteristics, behaviors, etc, as well as the tips on drawing, could strongly appeal to young artists/nature-lovers. For the rest, maybe some vivid color photographs juxtaposed with bird sketches would have done the trick.
FARMER JOHN'S TRACTOR
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
SUTTON, SALLY
BELTON, ROBYN
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
October 03, 2013
Kay, Breean
What makes something valuable? Farmer John’s old tractor wouldn’t be anyone’s first guess until it comes to the aid of a family with two young girls stuck in a flood. “Rusty yet trusty and orangey red”, the tractor sits locked in a barn while every passerby attempts their rescue to no avail: a jeep rolls on its side, a tow truck gets stuck, a fire truck can’t get past a rockslide. Finally, Farmer John gets out his “clanking old tractor covered in rust” to save the uneasy family. Not only recommended for children that love vehicles, this story combines slight drama with graceful rhymes (and a catchy refrain) and gorgeous watercolor illustrations, into a winning read-aloud for preschool/kindergarten aged children.
PRETTY PENNY MAKES ENDS MEET
RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READER [RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READER]
KINCH, DEVON
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
October 03, 2013
Kay, Breean
Kinch’s series introduces children to financial scenarios and encourages children to earn and save. In this title, Grandma Bunny’s basement floods causing Pretty Penny to quickly dream up an inventive solution to raise money for the cost of repairs. Once Pretty Penny decides to buy jewelry supplies and then create pieces she will sell to friends and neighbors, she must remember to subtract her costs in order to calculate her profit. At times the writing could be better and the illustrations are overly cutesy, but the overall agenda of the book (teaching young kids to make healthy financial choices) comes through as an important lesson for children. Recommended for libraries because of its useful topic, but only after other titles in the series have been reviewed or purchased.
CHAMELEONS
CHECKERBOARD [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
PETRIE, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
As masters of disguise, chameleon has become an adjective for a self-initiated change. While unable to mimic all backgrounds, their natural coloring blends in with whatever habitat they are found. Native to Africa southern Asia and southern Europe, escaped pets now live in Florida, Hawaii and California. Readers will learn that chameleons are not the easiest pets to keep, as they are susceptible to disease and parasites. Checkerboard Series books are staples of an elementary school library, especially as Common Core Standards place so much emphasis on non-fiction. The 24 page books cover basic information, but also lend themselves to deeper questioning, comparative studies and further research. Each book in the series talks of the dangers from habitat loss and capture and stresses that it is important to purchase your pet from a reputable breeder. While formulaic, the close-up color photographs, text features, and large print have these books flying off the shelves for students from K-5. .
IGUANAS
CHECKERBOARD [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
PETRIE, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
What unique pet looks like a small dragon, loves to swim and can grow to 6.6 feet long? Green iguanas are native to Mexico, South and Central America but have also been introduced to Florida and Hawaii and thrive there. Checkerboard Series books are staples of an elementary school library, especially as Common Core Standards place so much emphasis on non-fiction. The 24 page books contain basic information, but also lend themselves to deeper questioning, comparative studies and further research. Information about the reptiles living in the wild is covered as well as requirements for taking care of them as pets. Many words are adequately defined in context and the glossary, but a few key ones such as exothermal and herbivores are not. Each book in the series talks of the dangers from habitat loss and capture and stresses that it is important to purchase your pet from a reputable breeder. While formulaic, the close-up color photographs, text features, and large print have these books flying off the shelves for students from K-5.
MADAGASCAR HISSING COCKROACHES
CHECKERBOARD [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
PETRIE, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
As one of the largest and most aggressive cockroaches, these seem unlikely pets. Native populations are found in Madagascar, hence the name, but are low maintenance pets, can become quite accustomed to being held and may be so comfortable with this, they can lose their defensive reflex to hiss. Checkerboard Series books are staples of an elementary school library, especially as Common Core Standards place so much emphasis on non-fiction. The 24 page books cover basic information, but also lend themselves to deeper questioning, comparative studies and further research. Each book in the series talks of the dangers from habitat loss and capture and stresses that it is important to purchase your pet from a reputable breeder. While formulaic, the close-up color photographs, text features, and large print have these books flying off the shelves for students from K-5.
POTBELLIED PIGS
CHECKERBOARD [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
PETRIE, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Do you remember when potbellied pigs first appeared as pets, perhaps seen on a leash? Bred in the 1960’s from wild Vietnamese pigs, they were first brought to the United States in 1985 for zoos but were purchased for pets soon after. Tips are given to would-be pet owners, such as give them places to root in and don’t let them be bored as they can become quite destructive. Checkerboard Series books are staples of an elementary school library, especially as Common Core Standards place so much emphasis on non-fiction. The 24 page books cover basic information used in traditional reports, but also lend themselves to deeper questioning, comparative studies and further research. Each book in the series talks of the dangers from habitat loss and capture and stresses that it is important to purchase your pet from a reputable breeder. While formulaic, the close-up color photographs, text features and large print have these books flying off the shelves for students from K-5.
SUGAR GLIDERS
CHECKERBOARD [ABDO PUBLISHING COMPANY]
PETRIE, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Sugar Gliders are marsupials found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Tasmania. A kite-like membrane known as the patagium allows them to sail through the air up to 148 ft. These nocturnal animals are fairly easy to keep as pets but require much social interaction and would be most happy with another glider sharing their cage. Checkerboard Series books are staples of an elementary school library, especially now that Common Core Standards place so much emphasis on non-fiction. The 24 page books are divided into chapters basic information, but also lend themselves to deeper questioning, comparative studies and further research. Each book in the series talks of the dangers from habitat loss and capture and stresses that it is important to purchase your pet from a reputable breeder. Many words are adequately defined in context and the glossary, but a few key ones such as patagium and deforestation are not. While formulaic, the close-up color photographs, text features and the large print have these books flying off the shelves for students from K-5.
Barnum's Bones
FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX (BYR) [MACMILLAN]
Fern, Tracy
Kulikov, Boris
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Here’s a picture book biography for dinosaur lovers and especially those who love the fierce ones. Living during the great age of rivalry for discovering dinosaur bones, Barnum Brown collected the first dinosaur fossils for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It took Barnum only 8 years, collecting tons of bones, before he made his greatest discovery – an almost complete skeleton of an unknown dinosaur, soon called T. rex. Colorful, humorous mixed media illustrations complement the text and are large enough for a read aloud. Examples of primary documents, excerpts from letters and diary entries, are found in the front endpapers and an author’s note detailing the facts about a little known but prolific fossil collector create a fascinating narrative! This would be a great mentor text for higher level thinking skills such as a comparison with Mary Awning, the British girl who discovered the coelacanth, or analyzing how a fossil collector decides where to dig for fossils.
BURIED ALIVE! : HOW 33 CHILEAN MINERS SURVIVED 69 DAYS DEEP
CLARION [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
SCOTT, ELAINE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 05, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Starting August 5, 2010 and lasting 69 days, the world was riveted to news of the plight of 33 Chilean miners caught in a massive cave-in whose only escape route had never been completed by the mine owners. Elaine Scott chronicles the terrible ordeal and resilience of the trapped miners and their families, and the coming together of an international team for the seemingly impossible rescue mission. The famous John Donne quote, “No man is an island,” frames and explains how the miners survived by establishing group roles and routines, working around the clock in shifts to maintain some semblance of normality, and encouraging each other when spirits sank. Photographs illustrate the array of emotions, the miners, families and rescue workers experienced during the long nightmare. Diagrams and maps detail the technology used for all stages of the rescue allowing readers to comprehend the challenges involved. The narrative concludes with, “the story will be repeated whenever there is talk of how planning, working, cooperating, and praying can turn tragedy into triumph.”
KING OF POP : THE STORY OF MICHAEL JACKSON
GRAPHIC LIBRARY [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
COLLINS, TERRY
BYERS, MICHAEL
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 06, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
June 25, 2009 marks the death of Michael Jackson, legendary music and cultural icon over the past 40 years. Terry Collins’s graphic biography only skims the history of the Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson’s independent rise to stardom, but avoids all mention of the circumstances of his death. With the recent lawsuits decided, readers may be disappointed with this avoidance. The blue, ocher, burnt orange and black color palette, clarity of design within large panels, and uncluttered graphics are easily viewed and the illustrations convey a variety of emotions, as well as Jackson’s slow morph into an androgynous appearance. Direct quotes are written in a light orange color, but unfortunately don’t stand out as intended. The book begins with Jackson’s last days, and then moves sequentially, but without a timeline and few dates, readers are forced to dig across all 40 years in order to determine the trajectory of Jackson’s career. While the book will be popular, it is not sufficient to understand Michael Jackson’s life and contributions to music and culture.
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING [CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING]
DECRISTOFANO, CAROLYN C
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 07, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Black Holes are “NOT a hole – at least not the kind you can poke your finger through,” humorously declares Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano, as she introduces readers to one of outer space’s most enigmatic features. But just what are they? “A black hole is like a hiding place in space, with footprints leading to it.” DeChristofano uses examples of the energy of whirlpools and light bending action of movie filmstrips along with explanations of gravity, birth and death of stars, and x-ray energy to detail how scientists started to piece together the puzzle. Michael Carroll’s out-of-this-world graphics, with colorful diagrams and false-color telescopic images amplify DeChristofano’s clear explanatory text. Difficult concepts such as singularity, extreme gravity, fusion, distances of outer space, and the event horizon are deftly explained in a conversational mix of questions, answers, speech bubbles and text box inserts. The stellar information presented in an author’s note explains where and how she researched this book and notes that websites were current as of printing. This is a must purchase but library binding is recommended.
THE GREAT MOLASSES FLOOD
CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING [CHARLESBRIDGE PUBLISHING]
Kops, Deborah
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 07, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
One of the most bizarre disasters in America’s history was the 1919 Molasses Flood in Boston’s inner harbor, killing 21 and injuring another 150. Pressure built-up as the molasses fermented ripping through a shoddily built storage tank, and releasing a tsunami wave of sticky, gooey molasses, traveling “around 55 kilometers per hour in a wave about 7.5 meters high and 50 meters wide at its peak” according to an Aug. 2013 Scientific American article. Deborah Kops presents a masterful compilation of archival photographs and first person accounts from individuals caught up in this tragedy. Lawsuits and inquiries to assign culpability continued for several years and some compensation was finally assigned to victims but the sweet smells lingered into the 1990's! The sepia toned photographs and chapter titles contribute to this thoroughly engaging non-fiction thriller as Kops weaves the individual stories to their conclusions; some survive, some don’t. A cast of characters, prologue, and photo credits support the text as well, but citations and further resources are lacking. Still, a worthy library purchase!
Can You Survive the Jungle?; An Interactive Survival Adventur
CAPSTONE PRESS INC [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
DOEDEN, MATT
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 07, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Knowledge of jungle survival skills is mandatory to make it through this book without dying at least once. I managed to die several times before finding a right combination of decisions. Like the other You Choose series, the scenario is set up; Marie, the pilot, and you crash in the middle of the Amazon jungle and face all sorts of danger. You parachute out but don’t know Marie or the plane’s location or whether she even survived. Three story paths and 39 choices later you will end up in one of 17 endings. The dangers highlighted include a jaguar, scorpions, venomous snakes, insects and spiders, heatstroke, piranhas, caimans and a few others I was lucky enough to avoid during my multiple journeys. Readers learn various skills such as making and lighting fires using a camera lens, building a sturdy raft, constructing a shelter and how to fend off a jaguar attack. Five fascinating vignettes of real jungle survivors, jungle photographs, text boxes, glossary, additional resources and a survival quiz round out this engaging adventure.
Sink Or Swim
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Mlynowski, Sarah
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 08, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
This is the third book in the "Whatever After" series where Abby and her younger brother, Jonah, go through a magic mirror into a fairy tale, usually changing it in the process. This time it's "The Little Mermaid" and Abby's not particularly pleased with how the original story ended in the first place. Despite her efforts, the little mermaid gives up her voice and, indeed, gets engaged to the prince. This prince, however, and his parents, are enamored of the color yellow and are basically beach dudes. And the prince is remarkably self-centered, which makes the little mermaid rethink her original dream. But how does she keep from dying if someone else marries the prince? Abby and Jonah go beneath the sea to see what they can negotiate with the Sea Witch. This is another fun, light story that will please fans of the series.
KINGDOM KEEPERS V : SHELL GAME
UNKNOWN [UNKNOWN]
PEARSON, RIDLEY
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 08, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
New challenges await the five Kingdom Keepers in their ongoing battle with the Overtakers. The five Keepers are required to appear on the new Disney Cruise knowing they will face an ever-expanding group of evil characters including hypnotized friends and even Finn’s Mom. New recruits have joined them and speculation amongst the five is that new recruits are being groomed to take over as Disney Hosts. Part of the book’s plot revolves around discovering what the new danger is as well as protecting themselves and the Kingdom. Readers should have read at least the first book in the series for grounding in the ongoing battle between Kingdom Keepers & Overtakers and the evolving relationships between the keepers. The allure of the first few books is wearing off as the repetitious cycle of danger, overwhelming difficulties and internal conflicts are resolved at the last minute with the special talents of the Keepers. But fans of the series and Disney travelers will enjoy the continuation of action in a new Disney setting.
The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle
KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
Appelbaum, Susannah
Taylor, Jennifer
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 08, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
“It’s an astonishing feat that young Ivy Manx was not poisoned during Mr. Flux’s tenure as her taster.” So begins a trilogy that pits Ivy, niece and apprentice to her Uncle Cecil, a banished healer, against King Nightshade, tyrannical leader of Caux, and Vidal Verjuice, Director of the Taster’s Guild and real power in the kingdom. Caux has been transformed into a shadowy, dangerous land where fears of being poisoned led to specially trained tasters to declare a meal safe. Ivy sets off for Templar with her talented crow Shoo and Rowan, a runaway taster on a quest to rescue her Uncle Cecil and cure the Good King of sorrow, restoring balance to the kingdom. Twists and turns confront them on their journey to the city and the shifting allegiances of characters require Ivy to discern motivations and discover her true identity. Susannah Appelbaum brings Book One to a satisfactory conclusion with a temporary victory of good over evil while also alerting readers to the formidable task waiting Ivy in the following book.
City of Wind
RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [RANDOM HOUSE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
Baccalario, Pierdomenico
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 08, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
In the third book of the Century Quartet, Mistral, Elettra, Harvey and Sheng, travel to Paris in the continuing quest for the objects of power needed to renew Earth, ensuring its survival for another 100-year cycle. With enemies tracking every move, the foursome must quickly gather and decipher the clues provided by the Star of Stone to discover the next object of power. Harvey is kidnapped twice the moment he arrives in Paris, bitten by a poisonous spider and betrayed by a new self-declared friend. The other friends find pitfalls as well as find help in unusual places, all while searching the city following the clues provided by their ancient tops and other antiquities. Fans of the previous books will enjoy the continuation of the story while new readers will easily catch on to the plot. Mystery, romance, intrigue, danger and a quest to renew the Earth will provide appeal to your fantasy and mystery readers equally.
WHO NEEDS AN ICEBERG?
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
PATKAU, KAREN
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 08, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
As anyone who has ever seen an Aurora Borealis knows, the Arctic is a mysterious yet beautiful place. Author/Illustrator, Karen Patkau, has created a richly illustrated overview of the arctic ecosystem showing the interconnectedness of the plants and animals that make up a food chain and sustain life in this land of extremes. Patkau begins with a welcome that explains how icebergs are formed, the reasons the tundra is considered a desert, and such habitat specific terms as permafrost, ice sheets and glaciers. Vibrant, digitally rendered illustrations are realistic enough to give readers a sense of the beauty of the treeless tundra with the boggy, wildflower, moss and lichen-covered land. Additional diagrams show a soil profile, a krill – plankton filled water sample and a decomposer bacteria. A map of the world locating the Arctic and a brief explanation of global warming highlights the increased significance of the ice cap melting, creating a feedback loop accelerating the warming. With Common Core standards emphasizing narrative non-fiction, Tundra’s Ecosystem series may be a great addition.
The Shepherd of Weeds
KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
Appelbaum, Susannah
OFFERMANN, ANDREA
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 08, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
In this third and final book of the trilogy, Ivy has acknowledged her birthright as the Noble Child of Caux and understands that she must fulfill the ancient prophecy. Ivy enlists an odd assortment of humans, scarecrows and birds in her quest to defeat her father, Verjuice, head of the Tasters Guild and restore King Verdigris to health and the throne. But old enemies conspire, the bracken scourge is harvested to make the deadly ink and Ivy finds that success is not what she envisioned. The multiple journeys of the main characters, helpful and evil, weave together in a satisfying conclusion but the plot would be difficult to follow without having read the first two books in the trilogy. With so many newer fantasy series to choose from, The Poisons of Caux, is one that may need to be book talked but should then be quite popular with the older elementary students.
Pandemic Survival : It's Why You're Alive
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
Love, Ann
Slavin, Bill
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
6th grade to 12th grade
October 11, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Malaria, bubonic plague, typhus, rabies...hey, the question isn't why these diseases happen so much as how the heck people have managed to remain on the earth. Millions have died, and continue to die, from all sorts of diseases. What kinds? Well, this book offers a potpourri of choices taking us back to the plagues of Moses and on to the middle ages and even modern times. The author gives clear, graphic information about the symptoms of the various diseases, how they were spread, what (if anything) defeated them, and what kind of impact they have had on history. This is a grim topic but the author, nevertheless, provides a very readable and interesting, if macabre, introduction to the subject. Lifestyles, old medical beliefs, religious influences, cultural changes, and tales of those who figured out what to do are all intertwined here. This would be both a good source for report-writing, and an interesting book for those who like solid nonfiction. However, I wouldn't recommend it for the faint-hearted, or an elementary school audience.
Rump : The True Story Of Rumpelstiltskin
Knopf Books for Young Readers [RANDOM HOUSE]
Shurtliff, Liesl
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 12, 2013
Kline, Karen
Did you ever wonder why Rumplestiltskin told the imprisoned girl to give him her first born child in exchange for spinning straw into gold? And why would he bargain the child back to the girl who became queen if she could guess his name? This delightful tale takes us back to the time right before the famous fairy tale takes place. We meet Rump, as he is known, living with his grandmother. His mother died shortly after his birth and was only able to tell the child part of his name before dying. Rump spends his childhood in The Village on The Mountain surrounded by things with names like Nothing, his donkey, who does nothing and a milking goat called Milk. Names have special significance in The Kingdom, and are saved for people. Poor Rump has only part of a name, he’s sure there’s more that his mother didn’t have time to utter before dying, and that leaves him uncertain of his importance and destiny in the world. When Rump discovers that he has a special and magical talent--spinning straw into gold--he finds himself wrapped up in a skein of trouble with the local miller, his daughter, and the king. Don’t miss this magical book that will earn its place on the shelves of readers alongside ones like Ella Enchanted and Wicked.
Deer Watch
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Collins, Pat Lowery
Slonim, David
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 12, 2013
Kline, Karen
An annual trip to a summer house brings a young boy and his family to the seashore. The boy and his father set out on an early morning walk across the beach, through a marsh, through a construction site, and finally to conservation land where the father comments, “all the land looked like this once.” It is all in anticipation of seeing the deer that the boy’s father promised he would see. As the pair continue on their nature walk, they pause to notice small sounds and squint to see small movements. Nature slowly reveals itself, and they see a pheasant and scare away rabbits. A sudden rain burst doesn’t change the mood; father and son catch raindrops on their tongues. The narrative climaxes as a doe and two fawn seem to magically appear for a brief moment, one the boy is sure he’ll never forget. Muted oil painting illustrations depict a careful study of the child amidst a natural setting. A lovely book to remind all of the importance of noticing small things for big impact.
Night Light
ORCHARD BOOKS [ORCHARD BOOKS]
Blechman, Nicholas
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Pre-Kindergarten
October 12, 2013
Kline, Karen
This cleverly designed picture book takes us into the pitch black night with different vehicles and cutaways revealing their headlights on the next pages. What’s behind “1 light, shining bright?” A train, of course. The author-illustrator doesn’t neglect the facing pages, though. Once readers turn the pages to discover the vehicles described, they will also enjoy discovering the opposing pages’ second uses of the cutaways -- holes at the ends of elephants’ trunks, people’s open mouths hailing a taxicab, and more. After counting up to ten, we arrive back at “1 light, glowing through the night?” The last page and inside cover take the reader to the twilight gray room of a child reading the self-same book by nightlight, of course, amongst a jumble of toy vehicles from the story. This counting book with simple text will have young readers practicing the skill of re-reading in no time! The heavy gauge paper and sewn binding will hold up to the many readings this book is sure to get.
ALBERT'S BIGGER THAN BIG IDEA
KANE PRESS [LERNER PUBLICATIONS COMPANY]
MAY, ELEANOR
MELMON, DEBORAH
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 12, 2013
Kline, Karen
Albert the mouse is going with his big sister Wanda and bigger cousin Pete to the people kitchen to get fruit. They each take a bag. Pete’s bag is small, Wanda’s is smaller, and Albert’s is the smallest. This classic story of the smallest child wanting to do bigger things provides an entry into a concept book about size comparison. Terms are bolded in the text to stress and highlight the point, and occasional labeled illustrations provide additional support. Albert has ideas bigger than his bag, though, so he goes home and makes more bags after each trip to the people kitchen in order to bring home bigger and bigger fruits. When he sets out to get a peach on the last trip he spies the biggest fruit of all -- a watermelon! Soon, though, a cat shows up and Albert and Wanda think of a different use for that biggest bag. Two pages of activities are appended and a weblink to .pdfs of some of the other books in the Mouse Math series are included. This title had no supporting online activities, though. Cheerful, detailed art illustrations add to the text.
Dinosaur Tooth Fairy
ARTHUR A LEVINE BOOKS [ARTHUR A LEVINE BOOKS]
Brockenbrough, Martha
Sanchez, Israel
Additional Minus -- Mediocre.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 12, 2013
Kline, Karen
A lonely dino tooth fairy collects the teeth of dinosaurs in a museum until there are no teeth to collect. Lurking in the wings of the museum is a human tooth fairy, and when an unsuspecting guest loses her tooth near the dino display both fairies want, want, want it. The dino fairy takes off into the bizarre world of the child as she exits the museum and is “swallowed” by a “giant, roaring monster” (school bus). The human tooth fairy is not to be denied the tooth, though, and takes off after the child as well. Once at the child’s home the dino fairy has trouble at every turn. The one-eyed doorknobosaurus is impossible, and a drooling beast with fangs confronts her when she enters through the doggie door. Where is that tooth? Not in the shirt cave or the with the furry mammal, or the rude parrot. Just when dino fairy spies the tooth, the human fairy appears snatching it from under the child’s pillow. Dino fairy whips out a tusky tooth from her handbag, though, and offers to trade with the human fairy and a bargain is struck betwixt the two who become friends in the end. The cartoonish gouache art is lively if a bit garish, and dino fairy resembles a green blob akin to t.v.’s Barney. Somehow the kooky story falls flat.
Macadoo Of The Maury River
CANDLEWICK PRESS [CANDLEWICK PRESS]
Amateau, Gigi
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 13, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
The first book of the "Maury River" series featured Chancey. Now, in this second book, readers meet a young Belgian named Macadoo. Separated from his mother, he is threatened with being sold to the meat market. Macadoo is rescued, however, and sent to a ranch where he finds a boy to love and where he begins to grow into the warm-hearted horse he is meant to be. Tragedy and change follow, but Macadoo learns to adapt and find joy in helping those around him. Told from the point of view of the young horse, this is an emotional, heart-felt book that horse-lovers will embrace. You don't have to have read the first book to enjoy this one, but if you have you'll recognize some characters. If you have readers who love horses, this is the book to hand them.
NO TRICK-OR-TREATING! : SUPERSCARY SUPERSPECIAL
SPOTLIGHT [ABDO]
NIGHT, P J
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 14, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Goosebump fans listen up. There's a new series called "You're Invited to a Creepover". Things don't necessarily end well in these books that seek out the macabre and spine-shivery stories in life. Ashley isn't happy moving to a small town with her parents. She loved the big city. It is also very odd that none of the children celebrate Halloween in her new neighborhood. Trick-or-treating is strictly forbidden. Ashley decides to break that rule with a few friends that she persuades to buck the town's traditions. But the traditions were there for a reason--a reason that safe-guarded the children of the community. And now it's too late. Much, much too late. This is perfect for Halloween. It's sure to draw a devoted audience from those who love to be totally creeped out and are always asking for something "scary." Oh, and the binding is great!
Openly Straight
ARTHUR A LEVINE BOOKS [ARTHUR A LEVINE BOOKS]
Konigsberg, Bill
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
6th grade to 12th grade
October 14, 2013
Dame, Anne
Rafe is tired of being known as the gay guy. He knows he's really fortunate: his parents are accepting and loving (in fact, his mom is the president of their local chapter of PFLAG), his community is very receptive, the kids at school don't bully him... However, he is never recognized for his other abilities; he's been fit into a stereotypical niche. To get away from it, he applies to and is accepted at a boys boarding school on the East coast. While it is a big change from Boulder, CO, he is happy to be making new friends who don't make any judgments - especially since he has decided not to be openly gay at this school. Things go really well until he develops a crush on his new friend, Ben. Sexual situations. Nothing graphic, but may make it more appropriate for more mature readers. A really interesting look at how LGBT kids are treated and stereotyped, even in accepting communities. Could provoke some great discussions as well.
BIG PUSH : HOW POPULAR CULTURE IS ALWAYS SELLING
COMPASS POINT BOOKS [CAPSTONE PRESS INC]
WITTEKIND, ERIKA
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
7th grade to 9th grade
October 15, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
Part of Compass Point Books' Exploring Media Literacy series, this 2012 title examines how popular culture drives the consumer market. Color photos are complimented by color graphs and numerous text boxes. There is enough data to understand how we as consumers respond to branding, more than adequate for research purposes. Students will recognize plenty of celebrity references from Justin Bieber's rise to fame after posting made-at-home music videos on YouTube to Chris Brown's disappearance from Doublemint gum ads after his 2009 arrest for assault. The two-page Media Literacy 101 section at the end of the book gives four exercises teens can undertake to better understand how branding influences purchase choices. Includes glossary, index, and bibliography. Other titles in the series are Choosing News: What Gets Reported and Why?, Selling Ourselves: Marketing Body Images, and Violence as Entertainment: Why Aggression Sells. A solid addition for libraries with inquisitive teens and those offering marketing and other business classes.
SCAVENGERS
ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA [ROURKE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA]
STURM, JEANNE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 15, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Though only 24 pages this is a well-made piece of nonfiction for intermediate students and works as a good model for report writing. After introducing scavengers as carrion eaters the next chapters focus on vultures (nature’s winged recyclers), a variety of land creatures from hyenas to cockroaches, and end with those in the water world. The last chapter thanks these scavengers for their role in the food chain with their eight photos below. Excellent, clear color photos abound. Most have labels or captions if needed. Other desired text features include a map, a food chain diagram with photos from producers to decomposers in addition to a table of contents, glossary of the highlighted words, index, three websites and an about the author paragraph with photo. This well-bound book is worth a place in libraries that serve children. Others in this Eye to Eye with Animals series are Frogs, Marsupials, Sharks, Perfect Predators, and Hippos and Rhinos.
Zero Tolerance
FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX (BYR) [FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX (BYR)]
Mills, Claudia
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 21, 2013
Dame, Anne
Honor student Sierra accidentally brings her mom's lunch to school and discovers a small paring knife for cutting an apple. She immediately turns it in to the office as she is highly aware of the school's no weapons policy. Convinced that she was doing the right thing, she and her family are shocked when Sierra is threatened with expulsion due to the zero tolerance policy in place. There's lots to like in this story: good character development, relevant plot, great discussion topic, etc. However, the cover looks very young; even though it is about a 7th grade student, the picture on the cover looks like 4th grade, max.
Hidden Kingdom
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Sutherland, Tui T
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 21, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
In this, book three in the "Wings of Fire" series, our Dragonets of Destiny are trying to figure out how they impact the fate of dragonkind, while visiting Glory's home in the RainWing Kingdom. Like her companions she, too, is disappointed in what she finds. She may have been kidnapped but she wasn't missed. In fact, most of the RainWing dragons don't seem to care about much past their next meal and the chance to lounge in the sun. They haven't even really paid attention to the fact that over a dozen of their members have disappeared. Glory and her companions are soon on the case and discover something very unusual, and an ally(?) who may be their worst enemy. This is a fast-paced series with well-defined characters. It is very popular in both my libraries and this volume is going to fly off the shelf.
BRIDGE
TUNDRA BOOKS [TUNDRA BOOKS]
HIGGINS, JANE
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
9th grade to 12th grade/Young Adult
October 21, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
Nik expects to be one of the top thirty high school students chosen by the Internal Security and Intelligence Services (ISIS) for training in hi-tech operations which will lead to work for the government. ISIS agents run the war against the rebels of Southside; rooting the rebels out is imperative to saving Cityside in the north. When the younger brother of Nik's friend Fyffe is kidnapped, the teens cross the bridge to rescue him. The brutality of war is seen on both sides of the conflict, as is the perseverance to do the right thing while learning horrible secrets that affect family members. The little bit of longing won't put off readers averse to romance in their reading. A sequel is in the works. Readers in grades 7-8 will not have a problem with the book.
Jackie Robinson Bio
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Robinson, Sharon
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 22, 2013
Dame, Anne
Written by Jackie Robinson's daughter, this biography was timed to release the same time as the movie "42". Lots of great family photos. There is much information that is common knowledge as well as some lesser known details.
Volcanoes : Run For Your Life!
Scholastic Reference [Scholastic Reference]
Brown, Laaren
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 22, 2013
Dame, Anne
Vivid pictures and illustrations will draw lots of attention to this book from young readers. While it does not go into great detail, it does give a lot of basic, important information; plus it has a link to a digital book with additional facts as well as interactive games and quizzes. While set for a young level, it will take a savvy reader who knows how to read a non-informational text with many text boxes, picture,s and other methods of conveying information.
Matter Of Days
DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS [DELACORTE BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS]
Kizer, Amber
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
9th grade to 12th grade/Young Adult
October 22, 2013
Dame, Anne
A plague pandemic has killed a high percentage of Earth's population. Nadia and her younger brother were saved by their medical doctor uncle who just happens to work for the government and just happened to have been working on a vaccine. He can't stay with them however, so they are forced to find their way across the country from Seattle to West Virginia where they hope to reunite with their uncle and their grandfather. I will admit to being a bit tired of the whole dystopian craze right now. However, this book sucked me in and made me forget about all that. Maybe because it is more about the sibling relationship and using their ingenuity to survive rather than just factions fighting against each other. A good addition to a middle school collection as well as high school. There is some language and some violence.
Oh, Snap!
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Myers, Walter Dean
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 22, 2013
Dame, Anne
Book 4 in the series. When The Cruisers' unofficial school newspaper is named one of the top 3 in the city, the writers and editors of The Palette (the official school newspaper) are quite upset. Both groups of the press set out to prove their excellence. Kambui, from the Cruisers, takes some photographs at the mall that may prove vital as evidence in a police case against one of their fellow school-mates. While not as hard-hitting as his YA books, this is a credible juvenile series with interesting characters and situations. Most middle school students will find them too young, however.
Surprise Attack Of Jabba The Puppett : An Origami Yoda B
Amulet Books [Amulet Books]
Angleberger, Tom
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
4th grade to 6th grade
October 23, 2013
Dame, Anne
4th in the Origami Yoda series. Dwight and his friends at McQuarrie Middle School are displeased, to say the least, when their principal announces that due to low standardized test scores all elective classes have been taken away. They have been replaced with an educational program called "FunTime" to increase students' test-taking skills. Thus begins the Origami Rebel Alliance, an organized student protest against the new curriculum. The Wimpy-Kid style will continue to appeal to certain readers, as will the Star Wars references. Although set in a middle school, the readership will tend to be younger and could go lower than 4th grade easily. Also appropriate for a middle school, but harder to find the right audience. As an educator, I enjoyed the implied commentary on standardized testing.
Money
CHILDS WORLD [CHILDS WORLD]
Pistoia, Sara
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 23, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
Part of the Simply Math series by Child's World, this title introduces the concept of money, specifically coins, to young readers. Large photos of coins are shown on almost every page with counting problems illustrated with the correct number of coins. Lots of blue, red, and yellow boxes make the book seem bright and somewhat cheery. The author is a retired elementary teacher so the verbage reflects words that might be used in the classroom. Other titles in the series are Counting, Fractions, Graphs, Measurement, Patterns, Shapes and Time. Although the book is aimed at early elementary-aged children, it will work well with other students who are learning English.
Measurement
CHILDS WORLD [CHILDS WORLD]
Pistoia, Sara
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 23, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
Part of the Simply Math series by Child's World, this title introduces the concept of measurement, beginning with units of measure. Rulers, scales, and measuring cups are shown as are items which children might have handy to use for measuring such as paperclips. Length, volume, and weight are discussed. Lots of blue, red, and yellow boxes make the book seem bright and somewhat cheery. The author is a retired elementary teacher so the verbage reflects words that might be used in the classroom. Other titles in the series are Counting, Fractions, Graphs, Money, Patterns, Shapes and Time. Although the book is aimed at early elementary-aged children, it will work well with other students who are learning English.
Classroom : Student Council Smackdown!
HYPERION PRESS [HYPERION PRESS]
Mellom, Robin
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 26, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
There's a student body election coming up and the two girls who have been competing in similar events every year up until now are revving up for the competition. But now they're in seventh grade. Maybe they should up the ante? Libby's always used Trevor as her campaign manager, but perhaps it's time for a change. Trevor wants Libby to win. After all, she's a friend (and her opponent is an airhead.) When it is revealed that a third person is REQUIRED to run, for the election to be valid, Trevor throws his hat into the ring. He's helping out a friend, except now maybe he wants to win. Trouble with a bully, misunderstandings, a strange smell filling the school, and a film crew recording the whole thing, turn this into a comedy of errors. Clearly this series is designed to mirror the success of "Dork Diaries" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" with a similar style--story intermingled with personal interviews and odds and ends. It's all right, don't get me wrong. It's just not quite the same. While the author does a nice job of throwing readers into the middle of middle school angst (with a lot of humor), and the writing is more than competent, this just isn't exceptional. That does not, however, mean that it won't attract young readers.
Brush Of The Gods
SCHWARTZ & WADE [SCHWARTZ & WADE]
Look, Lenore
So, Meilo
Highly Recommended -- Superior book everyone should buy.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 26, 2013
Kline, Karen
This book is based on an “imagined version of Wu Daozi’s life and work pieced together from references found in translations of T’ang poetry and essays.” It takes readers back to ancient China to Daozi’s childhood as he is taught calligraphy, “the highest of the arts,” according to his teacher, a monk. Try as he might, Daozi’s calligraphy produces worms and blades of grass instead of Chinese characters. Undeterred, Daozi proclaims his love for calligraphy even though his teacher tells him that his work is not worthy of the term. Each stroke of Daozi’s brush surprises him with something unexpected, a horse’s tail, a fish hook, a splintered tree. Daozi becomes obsessed with his painting taking to the streets and painting on walls where crowds gather, admire, and leave gifts. “Flying Sleeves,” as he becomes known, eventually is recognized by the emperor and spends the rest of his life creating a celebrated masterpiece on the wall of the palace, the highest of honors to Daozi. This magical, mystical tale ends with Daozi painting a door into his own painting into which he walks and disappears. An inspiring story about an artist’s passion steeped in culture. Perfect read aloud before an art or biography lesson.
JUST GRACE AND THE FLOWER GIRL POWER
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY [HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY]
HARPER, CHARISE MERICLE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 27, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Just Grace, one of four Graces in her class, returns with great news. Her very, very, special friend Augustine is getting married. But the bad news is that the job of flower girl has already been promised to the groom’s only niece, five-year-old Emily. Never fear though, Augustine assures Just Grace a very special role in the wedding. When Just Grace conceives of “THE BEST WEDDING PRESENT” ever; to teach her cat, Crinkles to walk slowly up the aisle and surprise Augustine, readers might well anticipate all sorts of problems. Cat lovers will enjoy the escapades and trials of the learning process as well as the surprise ending. Mimi’s younger brother Robert and Mr. Scruffers, the dog, provide additional humor and excitement. Just Grace’s marvelous comics are sprinkled throughout the book and provide the fuel for the class Comics Club as they work together on a book to be published. Middle grade fans of the hybrid graphic novels, will delight in yet another addition to the Just Grace series.
EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star
Viking Juvenile [Viking Juvenile]
WARNER, SALLY
HARPER, JAMIE
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 27, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Third-grader EllRay Jakes, epitomizes the pleasures and pitfalls of life in his friendships at school and family life at home in this humorous second book of the series. Wanting to impress his friends who always have bigger and better things to brag about, EllRay brings 6 of his father’s special crystals to school to show the class. But with the coolness factor in full swing, EllRay slips and lets people keep the crystals, thinking his father won’t miss them. At least not right away. The inevitable happens and his father misses them right away. In a realistic progression of admitting to the deed, refusing his father’s help and trying to take responsibility, EllRay has until the end of the week to get them back. Although humiliated, blackmailed and embarrassed by the demands of his classmates in return for the crystal, EllRay provides a realistic model of acknowledging one’s mistakes and trying to remedy the problem. Another solid middle-grade book, including humorous illustrations and an African-American main character will be a good addition to an elementary library.
SPUNKY TELLS ALL
FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX [FARRAR, STRAUS, & GIROUX]
CAMERON, ANN
Castillo, Lauren
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
2nd grade to 4th grade
October 27, 2013
Sepessy, Lona
Spunky, the appropriately named Bates Family dog, has dignity and his own point-of-view that readers will follow in this first person dog account of Spunky's daily life and emotions. Despite the frustrations of communicating in dog language, which the family unfortunately does not understand, Spunky feels loved and he loves the Bates. Until that fateful day, when an episode with Mr. Bates’s socks convinces the family that Spunky needs a companion cat to help him calm down. Fiona, the proud, rambunctious cat, comes home and takes over Spunky’s water, kibble, blanket bed with Huey and causes catastrophe one after another. But despite all that, the two become friends when Spunky saves Fiona’s life several times and Spunky discovers the mystical bond between dog and human that binds them together on life’s journey. The dream of Joining that Spunky and Huey share brings a rare introspection to a middle grade animal fiction story. This has the makings for an excellent read-aloud in primary classrooms. Recommended but may need book talking to start the check out.
Silver Six
GRAPHIX [GRAPHIX]
Lieberman, A J
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 28, 2013
Gustafson, Chris
Phoebe has been doing the almost unimaginable – living on her own after her mom and dad die in a future world where the government knows and manages all. Her cover finally broken she is sent to an orphanage where she and a group of friends decide to call themselves the Super Six when they discover that they all lost parents in the same space craft accident. Determined to find out what really happened to their parents and following a set of microchip clues their adventures take them to an uninhabited moon and then back to earth to take on the corporation that rules all. Graphic novel fans will be pleased.
SALAMANDER, FROG, AND POLLIWOG : WHAT IS AN AMPHIBIAN?
MILLBROOK PRESS (HARD) [MILLBROOK PRESS (HARD)]
CLEARY, BRIAN P
GONEAU, MARTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 28, 2013
Stein, Valerie
This rhyming book is a fun exploration of what makes an amphibian. Creator Brian P. Cleary has several series of books which help children put things into categories. I was most confused by mention of the CATegorical Cats which apparently make learning fun. On the third time through, I realized that the only furry creatures in the books are… probably… cats. This is a solid additional purchase which I would shelve in nonfiction. Especially useful if you have younger students studying animal classification, as our school does. If not for the presence of the gimmicky strange cats, which confused me, this would likely have gotten a higher recommendation.
Watermelon Seed
HYPERION PRESS [HYPERION PRESS]
Pizzoli, Greg
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten
October 28, 2013
Stein, Valerie
I loved this book right up to and including the alligator’s gigantic “BUUURRRPP.” Then I got uncomfortable. Who ends up with something they swallowed sitting in their hand after a burp? Huh? It’s a simple story about an alligator who loves watermelon, swallows a seed, and gets worried that all kinds of bad things might happen. He burps up the seed and decides, briefly, never to eat watermelon again. Then he eats more, and on the last page, there he is, rubbing his tummy and looking worried again. This book has no point that I can see, unless it’s to confuse and worry kids. Maybe I’m over-thinking, and maybe someone else will get it, but it’s my third graders who would get the subtleties here, and that’s clearly not the intended audience.
Ol' Clip-Clop : A Ghost Story
HOLIDAY HOUSE [HOLIDAY HOUSE]
Mckissack, Patricia C
Velasquez, Eric
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 28, 2013
Stein, Valerie
This is a decently creepy book, which I enjoyed reading with my students. I just wish I were a real fan of ghost stories. The final chill on the last page didn't send me, so I had to use my acting skills to pull it off. The kids enjoyed the thread of the story, and were angry with evil landlord John Leep, who was going to put the Widow Mayes out of her house. "He'd decided not to wait until morning; it was much better to put her out at night." In the end, third graders were somewhat confused - and therefore unmoved - by the ghostly visitation, but the amazing, moody illustrations work very well with the story, and everyone agreed that they conveyed the dark mood of the words very well. McKissack is always the master of capturing elements of folk tale; she can carry them farther, or take them in new directions with different perspectives.
Patchwork Garden = Pedacitos De Huerto
PINATA BOOKS [PINATA BOOKS]
De Anda, Diane
Kemarskaya, Oksana
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 28, 2013
Stein, Valerie
I loved the concept of this book, and it’s a wonderfully told little story. The little girl wishes she could make a garden, but she lives in the city, and there is only a tiny patch of ground. Together, she and her Abuela plant the tiny plot, and amazing things begin to happen! This book is bi-lingual and because of its easy to navigate layout, it will have appeal for native speakers of both English and Spanish. Illustrations have a wonderful movement, with daubs of paint within freely drawn lines creating a sense of motion and a rich textural feel. Though the chronology is somewhat over-simplified, and the time it takes to grow all the gardens in the neighborhood is unrealistic, it still shares a lovely and important message about community, and about how change can start with just one or two people who care.
CACHING IN
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS [ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS]
BUTCHER, KRISTIN
Additional Plus -- Good solid book but has some minor flaws.
7th grade to 9th grade
October 29, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
Eric and Chris are on the hunt for a geocache but why does the GPS coordinate lead them to a cemetery, and why is there a wedding taking place on the spot they need to search? So begins this high-interest, low-level story, another winner in the Orca Currents series. The teens realize that their search is something more than their usual caching trip and with it comes adventure, mystery, and danger. A good look at how the strengths of each person add to the quality of a relationship (and in this case, to the successful geocache mission). Perhaps teens new to geocaching will take it up, getting them off the couch. A win-win for them as they will have fun while learning about their communities and getting a bit of exercise at the same time. Appropriate for older teens who are struggling with reading.
Skeleton For Dinner
ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY [ALBERT WHITMAN & COMPANY]
Cuyler, Margery
Terry, Will
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Pre-Kindergarten to 1st grade
October 30, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Usually Margery Cuyler can be counted on for a great story. This one is just a bit too simple to meet that standard. It centers around a misunderstanding when Skeleton sees a “For Dinner” list posted on a tree after overhearing Big Witch and Little Witch while preparing stew say they must have him for dinner. He noisily clatters to the others on the list to warn Ghost and Ghoul, who follow him to hide. Little Witch is inconsolable when she can’t find any of her friends to invite for dinner, but crow saves the day when he solves the misunderstanding. The strength of this story is in the word choice that rhymes at times and vibrant illustrations that are too cute and cartoonish to be scary. This version would need rebinding to withstand multiple circulations. Perhaps the younger the reader the higher the rating.
Bone By Bone : Comparing Animal Skeletons
MILLBROOK PRESS (HARD) [MILLBROOK PRESS (HARD)]
Levine, Sara
Spookytooth, T. S.
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 30, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This is a nice introduction to vertebrates and by contrast and lesser degree invertebrates. Second graders had a good understanding of the these terms plus “vertebrae” and “opposable thumbs” by the end of this book. With a Question and Answer format, a hypothetical question is posed on the right hand page i.e. “What kind of an animal would you be if we took away your leg bones but kept your arm bones? (followed by a hint). Turn the page for the answer—“A WHALE OR A DOLPHIN!” (or porpoise). In different font styles several short paragraphs of explanation are provided with the appropriate diagram of that animal and its skeleton. This proves a fun way to learn with good and interesting information, entertaining illustrations, and student engagement/participation without being out of control☺ The book concludes with more about bones, vertebrates, a good glossary, downloadable Lerner resources, and further reading that includes five books and three websites.
Jack-O'-Lanterns
Pebble Plus/capstone Press [Pebble Plus/capstone Press]
Peterson, Megan Cooley
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 30, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Usually Pebble Plus books are well done, but this one is not exceptional. Yes, the photos are of the usual high quality, but perhaps the topic doesn’t lend itself to the most exciting text. Historical information is included starting with the Celts and a map of the four countries where they lived in Europe. The Stingy Jack story is better told by Gail Gibbons in Halloween Is… The change from carving turnips to pumpkins because they’re easier happened when the Irish moved to the US in the 1800s. Students did like the idea of painting on a pumpkin rather than carving, but is it still a jack-o’-lantern? Includes the required nonfiction text features in 24 pages. Others in the Halloween Fun series are Black Cats, Celebrate Halloween, and Trick-or-Treat Safety.
Tarantulas
Pebble Plus/capstone Press [Pebble Plus/capstone Press]
Wittrock, Jeni
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 30, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
Students agree that this has all of the desired nonfiction text features with its table of contents, labels, diagram, glossary, read more, index, clear and large color photos, and readable informative text. This topic isn’t for everyone as there may be more boy appeal according to second graders, but kids who are interested in learning about this hairy arachnid that’s the biggest of all spiders will be very satisfied with this offering. The full color photos are extremely large and close-up comprising over half of every double page spread in this Pebble Plus book. The body parts are delineated along with how a tarantula finds its prey and the life span from spiderling to long adult lives. This is recommended for libraries needing to update their spider section with a captivating new title in the Creepy Crawlers series. Others include Centipedes, Cicadas, Cockroaches, Scorpions, and Termites.
Rise Of A Legend
SCHOLASTIC [SCHOLASTIC]
Lasky, Kathryn
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
5th grade to 8th grade
October 30, 2013
Bateman, Teresa
Having followed the story of Soren through many books, we now get a chance to get the backstory on his mentor, Ezylryb. Coming from a warrior family, readers learn about his youth and the losses he suffered as he was raised during a time of war. His own brilliance in tactical skills and innovative thinking helped Lyze give his side a fighting chance and eventually turned the tide of battle. The personal sacrifices involved, however, both in loss and in treachery, convinced him that war was not how he was going to spend his life. This is another well-written "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" novel told in the first person and reflecting the personality of the teller as he occasionally wanders off into details and footnotes, reflecting the older teller and not the youth he's talking about. Readers get a chance to meet a few characters they already know, as they're just starting out, and gain a greater understanding of the world Lansky has created for this series. Fans will not be disappointed.
KENTUCKY DERBY
A&D XTREME [ABDO]
HAMILTON, S L
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 30, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This A & D Extreme Races title has many desirable nonfiction text features with lots of graphics, captions, captions where necessary plus Extreme Facts boxes interspersed. The text boxes are sometimes overlayed on the photos and other times on their own background. Some pages have busy layouts, which match the idea of the race. This and the others in the series, which include America’s Cup, Iditarod, Indianapolis 500, Reno Air Races (which I’ve never heard of), and Tour de France might have limited appeal depending on a library’s population. Some of the photos have a darker look to them and though well-bound several photos suffer from crossing the cutter including one jockey’s face. A young reader will come out with a better understanding of the history of this race, its place in the Triple Crown, and why it’s the “Greatest Two Minutes in Racing.” Past winners, both horses and jockeys are depicted followed by decent glossary and detailed index. If you have horse or horse race fans this could be a decent addition.
Mo Willems
First Facts/capstone Press [First Facts/capstone Press]
Colich, Abby
Additional -- Satisfactory book but is or will be excelled in its field by other books.
Kindergarten to 3rd grade
October 31, 2013
Turpin, Sharon
This 24-page First Facts book in the series Your Favorite Authors provides information on popular primary author/illustrator Mo Willems’ life. The creator of the Pigeon books, Knufflebunny, and Elephant and Piggie, Willems first wrote children’s stories that he didn’t like while he doodled pigeons in a sketchbook. After doing stand-up comedy and studying film and animation he had a successful stint writing for Sesame Street, where he learned to really write for children. The rest is history, but he hopes to inspire children in the creative process as evidenced by his iPad app. The cover illustration doesn't really look like the man and will not invite readers in. The text, though informative, may be too fact heavy with places or dates for the most likely audience of Gr. K & 1 students to enjoy. Many of the photos verge on dark rather than true colors. Graphically fine it includes a table of contents,index,read 2 more books about creative process, Facthound website, and timeline. All eight glossary words except one are also defined within the body. Other authors covered in this series include Barbara Park, Dav Pilkey, Grace Lin, Jeff Kinney, and Shel Silverstein.
Take A Closer Look At Your Ears
CHILDS WORLD [CHILDS WORLD]
Vanvoorst, Jenny Fretlan
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 31, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
This series of 12 titles is an excellent look at body systems for elementary-age children. Each 24-page book has color photos and illustrations, plenty of white space, and many interesting facts about each topic. The photos are mainly of young children but these books are a wonderful resource for older students who are learning English. Words in the glossary are printed in bold when used within the text. This title discusses the auditory system beginning with information on sound and sound waves. Other topics describe the parts of the body that make up the auditory system, how those parts work together for hearing and balance, and the causes for problems such as ear infections and hearing loss. Recommended especially for younger readers but also for older readers as stated previously.
Take A Closer Look At Your Bones
CHILDS WORLD [CHILDS WORLD]
Malaspina, Ann
Recommended -- Superior in style, liveliness, integrity and format.
3rd grade to 5th grade
October 31, 2013
Gleb, Heidi
This series of 12 titles is an excellent look at body systems for elementary-age children. Each 24-page book has color photos and illustrations, plenty of white space, and many interesting facts about each topic. The photos are mainly of young children but these books are a wonderful resource for older students who are learning English. Words in the glossary are printed in bold when used within the text. This title discusses the skeletal system beginning a comparison of the skeletons found hanging at Halloween and those in human bodies. Photos of x-rays show healthy and broken bones. The last chapter encourages the drinking of milk for the calcium and vitamin D within, as well as the wearing of protective gear when participating in rough sports activities. Recommended especially for younger readers but also for older readers as stated previously.