2015 Libres Book Reviews - Spreadsheet
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TimestampTitle of BookGrade LevelReviewer's Name
Reviewer's Email Address
SchoolSchool DistrictAuthor (Last, First)PublisherDate of PublicationNumber of PagesISBN #PriceVoya Rating: QualityVoya Rating: PopularityRecommendationYour ReviewPublished Review #1Published Review #2
2
4/21/2015 15:58:18Dead I Know
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Karen Becknell
bookwoman@mi.rr.com
Gardner, Scot
Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015201978-0-544-23274-7 17.994Q4PHighly recommended
Gardner has produced a phenomenal work which addresses subjects not normally touched upon in YA literature: funeral work, violence, coping with death and dementia. The author provides clues, sparingly, at the beginning of each chapter. As the reader experiences Aaron’s life through his perspective, this protagonist comes alive. The reader experiences the confusion and despair which inhabit his life, as well the trepidation he experiences in contact with others.

Aaron lives with his “Mam”, in a caravan park. He just got hired for a three-month trial as a funeral director at JKB Funerals, and is working hard, doing everything in his power to prove to his boss that he's the right man for the job. The dead don't affect him as much as the living do. He's often numb and withdrawn, and he doesn't speak a whole lot. There's a lot on Aaron's mind these days. His Mam isn't acting normal, her mental state getting worse with every passing day. On top of that, Aaron is a somnambulist and his sleepwalking has been getting way out of hand. Mentally exhausted, confused, and scared, Aaron has to find a way to get his life back under control, before someone, possibly himself, gets hurt.

This is a mystery with a psychological impact. Gardner sets up the revelation quite well and total awareness and understanding is a satisfying conclusion. Highly Recommended.
BookList:
Grades 9-12 Aaron had never shaken someone’s hand before until he meets his boss at JKB Funerals. That’s the first indication that Aaron’s past has been hard, but the rest of the details emerge slowly about his life in the RV park with his unstable mother. Aaron shows an affinity for funeral work and quickly feels at home in the director’s family, but he struggles to trust enough to ask for help. Hints of his past are revealed gradually through a recurring nightmare that sends him sleepwalking through his coastal Australian town, putting him in danger that he cannot remember the next day. He begins to confront his inner demons through the probing questions of Skye, the funeral director’s precocious daughter, and though the technique occasionally feels forced, it does move the story forward. Gardner’s descriptions of funeral work compellingly mix dark humor and a respectful tone. Aaron’s mother’s health, his dark past, and the question of whether he can embrace his new life combine in an engaging through line that will engross readers. -- Harold, Suzanne (Reviewed 03-01-2015) (Booklist, vol 111, number 13, p54)
School Library Journal:
/* Starred Review */ Gr 9 Up — Aaron has trouble connecting with people. He suffers from recurring nightmares—horrific memories of a dead woman—that have been locked away, and most nights he sleepwalks away from his home and into a caravan park where the majority of residents are drug addicts. When the teen gets a funeral director apprenticeship with Mr. Barton, it is not thedead bodies that make him nervous, but Mr. Barton's family and the grieving mourners instead. As his dreams become more intense and his Mam's undiagnosed dementia becomes increasingly dangerous, Aaron must learn how to rely on the living if he wants to save his grandmother and himself. First published in Australia, this is a dark, psychological coming-of-age drama with memorable characters and believable dialogue. Gardner continuously keeps readers emotionally invested in the protagonist. Despite the heavy topics explored in the novel, including Aaron's realization that his recurring dreams are actually repressed memories of a horrible event, and Aaron being the sole caretaker of his sick grandmother, Gardner writes with sensitivity and in a way that is accessible to teens. With humorous interactions and their unwavering belief that Aaron is worthwhile, Mr. Barton and his daughter, Skye, help him appreciate life in the midst of death and tragedy. A darkly funny book with a male coming-of-age story similar in theme and tone to My Life and Death (Peachtree, 2002) by Susan O'Keefe.—Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ --Marissa Lieberman (Reviewed December 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 12, p133)
3
4/21/2015 20:32:47
Eddie Red Undercover - Mystery on Museum Mile
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elem West BloomfieldWells, Marcia
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014240978-0-544-23833-616.994Q4PRecommended
Sixth-grader, Edmund Xavier Lonnrot, known to the New York Police as Eddie Red, has a photographic memory, great art skills, an over protective mother, and a best friend who is an ADHD genius. After witnessing a man leaving a crime scene, Eddie wows the police station with his amazing ability to recall the man’s features and draw his portrait better than their own police artist. He then gets hired to help the police solve a complicated art-theft case by watching the visitors at several art museums and drawing their faces. This is a great deal for Eddie because if he can help the police solve the art crimes; he gets to stay at his private school which his parents can no longer afford. He gets paired up with a rough veteran cop named Detective Frank Bovano, who really never wanted to deal with Eddie in the first place. Through several funny mishaps and the genius minds of Eddie and his friend Jonah, Eddie cracks the mysterious case. Unfortunately, no one will believe him until it is almost too late and he finds himself right in the middle of the Picasso Gang’s next job.
This book is the first in a new series featuring Eddie Red, Edmund’s undercover name. Though the premise (getting hired by the New York Police department) is a little unbelievable, Eddie is a very likable main character who often acts just like any preteen kid, but who happens to have some remarkable skills (i.e. photographic memory, amazing drawing ability). This book will be a hit with those middle school readers who like mysteries and characters who get involved in dangerous situations. Teachers could use this book as a read out loud, especially when introducing the mystery genre or even in connection with a unit on art. Even though the main characters are boys, this book would also make for a good small group book club for both boys and girls. Teachers can use this story focusing on Eddie’s behavior while working for the police for discussions centering around Common Core standard RL.3.3 “Describe characters in a story and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.”
School Library Journal (April 1, 2014)
Gr 4-6-Edmund Xavier Lonnrot has a photographic memory and amazing art abilities, but in lots of ways he is just an ordinary sixth grader-growing tongue-tied and sweaty-palmed around a crush, playing video games with his best friend, and trying to convince his parents to give him more independence. His remarkable skills come to the attention of the local police, after he witnesses a man fleeing an altercation. Eddie can draw the suspect from memory and he is hired to help with a complicated art-theft case. Now known as "Eddie Red"-the codename he is given-he is eager to help, hoping to earn money to keep attending the school he loves in the wake of his father's recent layoff. Although he assists the police, his realistic sixth-graderness leads to some problems: using an officer's taser just like in the movies, getting really bored during stakeouts, and getting tied up after underestimating the real dangers involved. The plot moves along at a good pace, and though at times it strains belief, most readers won't mind. Eddie's portraits are sprinkled throughout the book, giving it added visual appeal and filling in some of the gaps in character development. "Eddie Red" is bound to be a series that will appeal to fans of fast-paced mysteries who have outgrown David A. Adler's "Cam Jansen" (Viking) books, but are not quite ready for the nuance of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004).-Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland.
Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2014)
A photographic memory and a best bud with OCD help a young sleuth nab a gang of art thieves in this effervescent debut. The pressure's on: With his librarian father laid off, it looks like 11-year-old Edmund will have to transfer out of his exclusive prep school--until he leverages his spectacular memory and eye for detail into a part-time police gig staking out New York art museums threatened by the mysterious Picasso Gang in exchange for tuition. But not only is his relationship with crusty veteran Detective Frank Bovano, "a tough loaf of old and angry Italian bread," on the rocks (particularly after the Taser incident), but the department is about to close the whole investigation down for lack of progress. Eddie Red is a smart, likable narrator with credible thought processes and an impulsive streak that drives the safety-minded adults around him crazy. Though the New York setting is sketchy at best, Wells outfits her voluble narrator with a lively supporting cast led by his close if relentlessly hyper friend Jonah, who comes up with the breakthrough insight, and a fluent plotline that leads to a bullets-flying climax. Calo provides accomplished, lightly caricatured portraits of all the main characters, plus a quick course in drawing faces at the end. A sure pleaser for Cam Jansen grads or anyone fond of knotty, lightweight capers solved with brainpower (and a little luck). (Mystery. 9-11)
4
4/21/2015 20:39:37Locker That Ate Lucy
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
SheikoWest BloomfieldChabert, JackScholastic201490978-0-545-62396-415.993Q3PRecommended
In this second book of the Eerie Elementary series, Sam Graves is back as the hall monitor and class protector at Eerie Elementary. This book takes off right from the first one and it would be helpful to read The School is Alive first in order to understand how Sam became the school’s hall monitor. He and his friends Lucy and Antonio are trying to uncover the secrets of their school by researching the Eerie Cemetery and family. In this story, Lucy gets swallowed by her locker and it is up to Sam and Antonio to follow a trail of clues that leads them through the locker and deep inside the school in order to rescue her. Their journey is a bit strange as they fight off a giant hand and eventually defeat it with a white hot beam of light. As they rescue Lucy and save all the students from the evil school, they discover that it is really a strange creation that was mad scientist Orson Eerie. Together they vow to defeat Eerie Elementary once and for all.
Eerie Elementary series (currently 2 books) is just right for newly independent readers who want to read monster/horror books but are not quite ready for the Michigan/American Chillers or Goosebumps series. This series offers beginning chapter book readers easy-to-read text, lots of fast-paced action, and illustrations on each page. Teachers may want to recommend this series to reluctant chapter book readers or to those students who enjoy the silliness found in the Captain Underpants series. Elementary libraries should have this series available to those students, in the early grades, who are ready for chapter books and would enjoy this genre. Because there are a lot of illustrations in this chapter book, this title could be used for classroom discussions on Common Core Standard RL.2.7 “Use information from the illustrations and words in a print text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting or plot.”
School Library Journal (November 1, 2014)
Gr 1-3-In this entry of the eerie early chapter book series, Sam and Antonio are on the hunt for Lucy, who has mysteriously disappeared into her locker. The legible text, high-interest story line, and Ricks's generous and appropriately scary illustrations, make this title perfect for early elementary students looking for spine-tingling tales. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Next review is from the first book in this series:
Booklist (June 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 19))
Grades 1-3. Who wants to be the hall monitor at a school called Eerie Elementary? Not Sam Graves, that’s for sure. He is a little embarrassed by the shiny orange sash he has to wear as he patrols the halls, but when the playground sand tries to eat him, and the school caretaker, Mr. Nakobi, tells him that it’s Sam’s job to keep the malevolent brick building in check, Sam can’t tell whether Mr. Nakobi is crazy—or he is. Dynamic, cartoonish illustrations amp up the action, and fun onomatopoeia provides atmosphere—“Pow! Pow!” as a vending machine fires water bottles at Sam, and “CHOMP! CHOMP!” when a pile of metal folding chairs menaces the third-grade cast of Peter Pan. Sam’s friends Antonio and Lucy are by his side (once he convinces them he hasn’t lost his mind), but a sentient, evil school is not a peril to be taken lightly. Readers who relish the action of Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta series and the just-beyond-safe scares of R. L. Stine’s Rotten School titles may want to enroll at Eerie Elementary.
5
4/21/2015 20:45:14Sisters
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
SheikoWest BloomfieldTelgemier, RainaScholastic2014197978-0-545-54060-510.994Q5PHighly recommended
In this story, Raina’s relationship with her younger sister is revealed. The story goes back and forth between the present and flashbacks to the past, when Raina’s sister, Amara came into the family. Raina was very excited to have a younger sister, but soon realized that the 2 girls were very different from each other. Right from the start, they did not usually get a long or understand each other. In the present, Raina, her 2 siblings and her mom go on a road trip without their dad. Raina and her sister are constantly at each other with squabbles and annoying behaviors. When they get stranded in the middle of nowhere because their vehicle breaks down, Raina’s mom leaves the 2 girls to go get help. It is during this time, that the girls call a truce and start to appreciate each other a bit more, especially when they realize that things between their parents are not ideal.
Upper elementary school and middle school readers who enjoy graphic novels and books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid will be a fan of Smile and Sisters by Telgemeier. Many students will be able to relate to the sibling rivalry and everyday problems that occur in a family. The flashbacks help fill in the gaps as to why the two sisters seem to never be able to get along. Because this book is in graphic novel form, teachers can use it for Common Core standard RL.4.7 “Make connections between the text of a story and a visual representation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.” There is also a great lesson on the importance of family and loving your siblings for who they are even when they are so different from you. This book would also make for a great discussion on sibling relationships. Teachers could assign a written narrative to students about their own sibling or about a close friend and have their students try to write from the other person’s perspective as well as their own.
School Library Journal (July 1, 2014)
Gr 4 Up-Telgemeier has returned with a must-have follow-up to Smile (Scholastic, 2010) that is as funny as it is poignant, and utterly relatable for anyone with siblings. This realistic graphic memoir tells the story of Raina; her sister, Amara; and her brother, Will, as they take a road trip with their mother from California to Colorado to join a family reunion. The author's narrative style is fresh and sharp, and the combination of well-paced and well-placed flashbacks pull the plot together, moving the story forward and helping readers understand the characters' point of view. The volume captures preadolescence in an effortless and uncanny way and turns tough subjects, such as parental marriage problems, into experiences with which readers can identify. This ability is what sets Telgemeier's work apart and makes her titles appealing to such a wide variety of readers. Not only does the story relay the road trip's hijinks, but it also touches on what happens with the advent of a new sibling and what it means to be truly sisters. Fans of the graphic novelist's work will be sure to delight in this return to the Telgemeier's family drama.-Krishna Grady, Darien Library, CT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Horn Book (November/December, 2014)
Fans of Telgemeier's graphic-novel memoir Smile will be smiling all the way through this companion book, an often bittersweet but amusingly told story about Raina's intense and difficult relationship with her younger sister, Amara. The summer before Raina starts high school, she and Amara, their younger brother, and their mom take a road trip from California to Colorado for a family reunion. As in Smile, sepia-toned pages mark the frequent flashbacks, which fill readers in on the evolution of this battle of the sisters, mainly involving Amara's outsized personality, her love of drawing (art had always been Raina's thing), and her love of snakes (Raina is terrified of them). In one crucial flashback Raina receives a Walkman for Christmas, and from then on she's able to tune out all the yelling (both happy and angry) in their small house. The Walkman also proves invaluable on the road trip -- until frustrated Amara informs Raina that not only has she tuned out all signs of their parents' troubled marriage, she's completely tuned out Amara. The story ends with a solidly believable truce between the warring siblings, who, one suspects, will continue to both annoy and support each other. Telgemeier's art humorously captures fourteen-year-old Raina's range of emotions, easily drawing readers into the story, which doesn't depend on having read the first book. The jacket art, however, cleverly ties this book to its predecessor: Smile's yellow smiley face with braces now also sports headphones, while a second (not-so-smiley) face glares angrily at the first.
6
4/21/2015 20:49:18
Game Over, Pete Watson
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
SheikoWest BloomfieldSchreiber, Joe
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014205978-0-544-15756-916.993Q3PRecommended
This is the fourth book in the Starring Jules series. In this story, Jules is now in third grade and life gets more difficult. She has a new teacher that she can’t quite figure out. Acting in a sitcom is harder than she thought. On top of that, this school year she has a big research project. She has to select and research a famous person for her class Wax Museum. As usual with this series, Jules is able to figure it all out with the help of her friends, family and her teacher. She learns that she needs to go all out and just do her best. This also leads to her selecting the best person for her to be in the Wax Museum – Lucille Ball. She discovers that she really does like acting and being funny, even though it is hard work.
Even though this book is part of a series, each title can be read independently, but those who begin the series will want to keep reading about Jules journey through the world of acting and elementary school. This story will also be popular among early and middle elementary grade girls who enjoy school and friendship stories like Junie B. Jones, Amber Brown, Clementine, and Judy Moody. Many girls will be able to relate to the friendship, homework and other school related drama that takes place in elementary school. Unfortunately, most boys will be turned off because the cover and title are very “girlie”. This book would be a good choice for a girl’s book club and they could do several of the books in this series. Since this book is a part of a series, third grade teachers could use it for discussions centering around Common Core standard RL.3.9 “Compare and contrast the themes, setting, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters. This story could also be used as a springboard to a class biography and “Wax Museum” project since Jules and her classmates are starting this kind of project in this book.
School Library Journal (November 1, 2014)
Gr 2-4-Aspiring child stars, watch out-Jules Bloom is back in her fourth installment. The intrepid third grader has been cast in a sitcom but quickly discovers that the acting life isn't all that it promises. Off-screen, the drama is ratcheting up, too: there's teacher trouble and homework woes galore. Feisty and fun, Jules is a charmer of a protagonist who encounters-and overcomes-realistic, relatable obstacles. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The second review is from another book in the series:
Horn Book (Fall 2014)
A typical summer vacation is not in the cards for young actress Jules Bloom. This third book involves a road trip, her eighth birthday, her best friend being an ocean away in England, a stuck-up co-star, and her first major role in a spy movie. Ain's writing is refreshing, and Jules is a charming yet realistic character who grapples with real childhood problems.
7
4/21/2015 20:54:50
Starring Jules Third Grade Debut
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
SheikoWest BloomfieldAin, BethScholastic2014164978-0-545-44358-614.994Q3PRecommended
This is the fourth book in the Starring Jules series. In this story, Jules is now in third grade and life gets more difficult. She has a new teacher that she can’t quite figure out. Acting in a sitcom is harder than she thought. On top of that, this school year she has a big research project. She has to select and research a famous person for her class Wax Museum. As usual with this series, Jules is able to figure it all out with the help of her friends, family and her teacher. She learns that she needs to go all out and just do her best. This also leads to her selecting the best person for her to be in the Wax Museum – Lucille Ball. She discovers that she really does like acting and being funny, even though it is hard work.
Even though this book is part of a series, each title can be read independently, but those who begin the series will want to keep reading about Jules journey through the world of acting and elementary school. This story will also be popular among early and middle elementary grade girls who enjoy school and friendship stories like Junie B. Jones, Amber Brown, Clementine, and Judy Moody. Many girls will be able to relate to the friendship, homework and other school related drama that takes place in elementary school. Unfortunately, most boys will be turned off because the cover and title are very “girlie”. This book would be a good choice for a girl’s book club and they could do several of the books in this series. Since this book is a part of a series, third grade teachers could use it for discussions centering around Common Core standard RL.3.9 “Compare and contrast the themes, setting, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters. This story could also be used as a springboard to a class biography and “Wax Museum” project since Jules and her classmates are starting this kind of project in this book.
School Library Journal (November 1, 2014)
Gr 2-4-Aspiring child stars, watch out-Jules Bloom is back in her fourth installment. The intrepid third grader has been cast in a sitcom but quickly discovers that the acting life isn't all that it promises. Off-screen, the drama is ratcheting up, too: there's teacher trouble and homework woes galore. Feisty and fun, Jules is a charmer of a protagonist who encounters-and overcomes-realistic, relatable obstacles. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The second review is from another book in the series:
Horn Book (Fall 2014)
A typical summer vacation is not in the cards for young actress Jules Bloom. This third book involves a road trip, her eighth birthday, her best friend being an ocean away in England, a stuck-up co-star, and her first major role in a spy movie. Ain's writing is refreshing, and Jules is a charming yet realistic character who grapples with real childhood problems.
8
4/23/2015 8:14:39Darius & Twig
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Bethany Bratney
bbratney@novischools.net
Novi High SchoolNoviMyers, Walter DeanAmistad2013201978006172823517.994Q4PRecommended
Darius and Twig are best friends. Though they are different races and pursue different passions, the potential they see in each other binds them together as they struggle through the realities of daily life in Harlem. Darius is a great reader and writer. His work has potential to be published in magazines, but it’s a little too dark for the masses right now. He wants to get a scholarship and go to college, but the odds of his life are stacked against him. Twig is tremendous track star. He lives to run and thinks of nothing else. The plot involves several predictable elements with fairly obvious outcomes, but the characterization of the friendship between the two boys with remind readers of the power of Walter Dean Myers. There is an extended metaphor between Darius and a bird of prey, with frequent passages from the hawk’s perspective to start many chapters, that students will either love or hate. Like many of Myers’ other works, he focuses on characters of color in an urban setting. Fans of Monster or Lockdown might be drawn to this title, though it’s not quite as powerful as those previous novels. There are not many curricular connections in this novel, but this Coretta Scott King Honor book (2014) is a worthy addition to any collection needing more multicultural representation.
Booklist starred (March 15, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 14))
Grades 9-12. Darius and Twig have been best friends since they were 9. Now 16, the two dream of finding a world beyond the confines of their daily lives on 145th Street in Harlem. Certainly, their talents are on their side: Darius is a highly intelligent writer, and Twig is a gifted runner. But are the two free to use their gifts? A story Darius has written has been accepted by a college journal contingent on his making editorial changes. Must he give up his singular voice to conform to an editor? As for Twig, are his gifts as a runner being exploited by an unscrupulous adult for personal gain? In his imagination, Darius is his alter ego—a falcon flying to impossible heights. But in real life, he and Twig are the targets of mindless bullies who seek to drag them down to their miserable level. Will the friends ultimately be able to soar, or will they remain earthbound victims of their circumstances? Myers has written another gritty, suspenseful, street-smart novel with a viscerally real setting in which young men must struggle to overcome obstacles by finding the best within themselves. In the process, they become the heroes of their own lives and surely will inspire their readers to seek to do the same. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A large-scale promotion tied to Myers’ appointment as National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature will likely expand the already enormous audience for this title.
School Library Journal (June 1, 2013)
Gr 8 Up-In New York City's Harlem neighborhood, two high school friends approach graduation with different dreams. Narrator Darius knows it takes more than a high school diploma to have the life he wants and, despite mediocre grades, develops his creative fiction for publication in the Delta Review, boosting his hopes for a college scholarship. His best friend Manuel Fernandez, or "Twig," is a long-distance runner looking ahead only as far as the next race. Along with a high grade-point average, Twig has the athleticism to catch the attention of college scouts in the big race but is being pressured to quit the track team and work in his uncle's bodega. Both boys face daily run-ins with Tall Boy and Midnight, two classmates with rap sheets and vengeful thug behavior. Ultimately, Darius and Twig learn of a shooting and are faced with the moral dilemma of coming to the aid of their tormentors. The portrayal of Harlem is realistic and nuanced, describing the sweetness of the neighborhood vibe and its friendly and supportive adults while also showing animosity among ethnic enclaves, and random violence. Darius's alter ego, Fury the peregrine falcon, appears at the beginning of some chapters as both guardian and predator above the city streets. An unfinished story about a boy testing his limits by swimming with dolphins comes to a poignant conclusion, as Darius similarly overcomes his own obstacles. Less gritty than many of Myers's titles, this book will satisfy his legions of fans.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
9
4/24/2015 13:40:49Skinny
Middle School (grades 6-8)
Stephanie Wilson
stephanie.wilson@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville Middle School
Clarenceville Cooner, DonnaScholastic2012260978-0-545-42763-0$17.994Q4PHighly recommended
Skinny reveals the internal and external conflicts of obese fifteen-year-old Ever Davies. Ever desires to be thin and healthy but her personal demons continuously sabotage her efforts. Her mom’s death and her dad’s subsequent remarriage started Ever on the path to swallowing her grief along with bite after bite of junk food. When a chair collapses under her weight, Ever resolves to lose the weight even if it kills her.
Ever names the destructive voice she hears in her head “Skinny.” Skinny berates Ever for her eating habits and voices the mean comments Ever’s classmates are thinking. Skinny is relentlessly omnipresent and rarely silent. Ever’s struggles will resonate with anyone who has ever battled with their weight. The novel, Skinny, realistically portrays the daily battles of an emotional eater.
The target audience for the novel is definitely teen female readers. However, the writing is strong enough to appeal to adults. The main character and most of the minor characters are female. Ever’s best friend and moral support is male. The relationship between Ever and Rat (also known as Ted) keeps Ever from being completely isolated. Most readers will realize why Rat supports Ever long before Ever understands the true nature of their relationship. The other male characters in the novel are relegated to the background. Male readers would potentially be turned off by the overtly feminine cover and Ever’s romantic musings.
Skinny is recommended reading for teens or adults considering gastric bypass surgery. Teens struggling with a lack of popularity or low self-esteem will identify with Ever. Parents and teachers will appreciate the realistic depiction of Ever’s life before and after gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass surgery for teens continues to be controversial. Donna Cooner does not gloss over the seriousness of the surgery or the struggles Ever faces in adjusting to her new lifestyle. Donna Cooner writes from personal experience as former gastric bypass patient. The surgery is not portrayed as a magic cure or an easy road. The novel is best suited for readers age thirteen and older. The rants of the voice inside Ever’s head (Skinny) make for emotionally difficult reading for younger or more sensitive readers.
School Library Journal:
Gr 7 – 10 — In this debut novel, Cooner fictionalizes her experiences with extreme-weight-loss surgery. Ever Davies, 15, thinks she would be perfect for the part of Cinderella in her high school musical. She can sing, she knows what it's like to have a stepmother and stepsisters at home, and most people tend to ignore her since she weighs more than 300 pounds. Even Jackson, a childhood friend and now a hunk, looks right through her. Food has been a comfort since her mother died; however, her weight is becoming a serious health issue. And Skinny, the little voice in her head, keeps up a running commentary about Ever's weight and total incompetence. Despite her concerns about the risks of surgery, Ever finally undergoes gastric bypass. Her geeky friend, Rat, stands by her throughout the process, helping her chart her progress with pounds lost and pertinent songs. As she loses weight, Ever learns about the people around her-her stepsister Briella, who uses shopping to soothe herself when her dad ignores her; her new friend, Whitney; and even Rat, who might be Prince Charming in disguise. She forces herself to enroll in drama class to qualify for the musical and finds that she enjoys it. And as she becomes more confident, she realizes that Skinny's voice isn't as loud as it once was. The surgery is discussed in detail; readers can see this isn't a quick, easy solution, and that Ever's problems don't magically go away. This story will appeal to girls who struggle with doubts and fears, whether dealing with weight issues, loneliness, or lack of popularity.—Diana Pierce, Leander High School, TX --Diana Pierce (Reviewed October 1, 2012) (School Library Journal, vol 58,
Kirkus:
For the ultimate makeover, nothing beats gastric-bypass surgery. Her beloved, ever-dieting mom died five years ago. Now saddled with a beautiful stepmom and two gorgeous stepsisters, Ever, a sophomore, is pretty, smart, musically gifted and 302 pounds. Former buddy and long-term crush Jackson ignores Ever. She's taunted by classmates, but her own self-loathing eclipses their slurs--she's even given it a name, Skinny, and mostly ceded her identity to it. Skinny prevents Ever from taking up drama or accepting friendly overtures from stepsister Briella and takes Rat, science geek and loyal friend, for granted. Desperation drives Ever to gastric-bypass surgery. Her agonizing self-awareness, imprisoned in a body under severe stress, is compelling. (Author Cooner, who's had the surgery, doesn't sugarcoat its risks and considerable downsides.) As Ever loses weight, the story loses its grip on reality, avoiding tough issues, like the power assigned to appearance. A stylish classmate takes Ever under her wing, and enhanced by a designer wardrobe and hair, Ever's loveliness turns heads. Surgery's magic wand has opened doors for her that only the beautiful and gifted may enter. Lip service is paid to "inner beauty," but Cinderella, that quintessential consumer fairy tale and the plot's template, tells another story: It's what's outside that counts. (Fiction. 12 & up)(Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2012)
10
4/25/2015 14:33:07
Year of the Three Sisters
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldCheng, Andrea
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015147978-0-544-34427-316.994Q3PRecommended
This is the fourth book about Anna Wang, her family and her school friends. Twelve-year-old Anna is uncertain about her upcoming school year because 2 of her friends will be at different schools. She and her friend Andee along with their parents figure out a way to have Fan, their Chinese pen-pal, come visit on a cultural exchange program. It sounds like such a great, but when Fan arrives, things are much more complicated than either girl can imagine. Fan doesn't really seem happy in America and neither Anna nor Andee can really figure out how to change that. Even Andee and Anna seem to have problems connecting and getting along. However, by the end of the story, all 3 girls discover that sisterhood can extend across grade levels, cultures and continents.
This book is a warm-hearted story about friendships that span grades and cultures. It can be used by teachers to introduce students to cross-cultural pen-pals. There is quite a bit of cultural information in this story about China, so this book may lead into discussions and further learning about China. If students are interested in learning another language, this book may spark interest in learning Chinese as there are several Chinese words used throughout and the girls even go to Chinese language classes. Anna and her friends are interested in poetry and write some, so teachers can also use this story as a springboard to a poetry writing unit. This book can be used in the classroom for discussion on CCR Anchor Standard “Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development, summarize the key supporting details and ideas” (Common Core Standards RL. 3.2; 4.2 and 5.2). The girls are also involved in a Community Action group, so this book could encourage readers to get involved in service projects in their own community. The popularity of this book may be hindered by the all-girl cover. But for many girls in elementary school, this book can be a recommended read and can be used in a small group book club as well.
Kirkus Reviews February 15, 2015
In this fourth novel of the Anna Wang series, seventh-grader Anna can hardly believe her waitress friend from China is coming to America. Through a cultural exchange program, Anna and Andee invite Fan to live in their Cincinnati neighborhood during the school year. While there, Fan will attend Fenwick High School to learn to speak English more fluently, which can help her get a better job back in Beijing. The plan calls for Fan to live with Andee, but Anna becomes concerned that the two won't get along, given their backgrounds. Fan lives in an alley with other migrant families who cook on electric hot plates, while Andee lives with her well-to-do family in a big house with a stove sporting six burners. Anna's fears are realized when Andee becomes distant and seems all too relieved to leave Fan at Anna's house for the weekends. Emphasizing that she must get good grades for her family's sake, Fan buries herself in her studies, which doesn't leave time for much else. The threesome's friendship feels genuinely complicated and endearing, with communication mishaps, cultural differences, and unmet, early teen expectations. A true understanding among the three starts to grow, as Fan begins to share her migrant life in both conversation and writing. One essay and poem, in particular, that she shares with Anna are memorable. This unique sisterhood beats with a gentle heart. (pronunciation guide) (Fiction. 8-10)
School Library Journal February 1, 2015
Gr 1-4-Anna and Andee campaign to bring their Chinese pen pal, Fan, to the U.S. on a cultural exchange program. But Anna begins to worry that Andee and Fan may be too different to get along. Cheng's characters are just as charming as ever in this fourth series entry. Cultural details are woven skillfully throughout, while Barton's comely illustrations add to the overall appeal. Another winner. (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
11
4/25/2015 15:18:15
Superstars of history : the good, the bad, and the brainy
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldGrant, R.J.Scholastic201496978-0-545-68024-07.993Q4PRecommended
This book provides short biographies of about 8-11 famous people from each of the 4 major time eras in history presented; the Ancient World, the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Revolution and the Enlightenment, and the Modern Era. There is a brief introduction and timeline for each era and then a two page biography of a famous person from that era. The 2-page spread contains a colored drawing of the person with a quote, a paragraph that introduces the person and several text boxes including information such as a short timeline, the person’s legacy to the world, family member or rivals, an interesting question about the person and other short facts. Both “good” and “bad” people are included, though not very many women. The book does include a Table of Contents, a Glossary and an Index, but no other additional resources are provided.
Many students who may not normally be interested in history may pick up this book because of the cartoon drawings, short snippets of information and the infographic design of the information, which seems to be very popular especially among upper elementary students. Because the sections for each person are very short, reluctant readers may also be willing to tackle this nonfiction book because it can be read in small sections while not losing the meaning of what is written. Teachers may want to use this book as an introduction to a unit on biographies. Students could be asked to read this book and then to select one of the “superstars” to research further thus helping students with Common Core standards such as RI.4.9 and RI.5.9 “Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably” History teachers may want to use this book to introduce one of the “eras” included. Even middle school students may want to read this type of nonfiction text in order to meet Common Core Standard RI.6.7 “Integrate information presented in different media or formats as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.” While not a comprehensive look at historical eras, this book is an interesting introduction to a large span of human history.
Booklist November 1, 2014 (Online)
Grades 5-8. Grant and Basher condense history from 1258 BCE to 2014 CE, divide the millennia into 4 chapters, select between 8 and 11 people to feature for each chapter—and make it all fit into 96 pages! Juxtaposing the title against some of the people included puts one in a quandary. Yes, the subtitle includes “the Bad,” but would one call bad people such as Stalin or Hitler superstars? Anyway, the layout of the book is creative: each chapter begins with a time line that introduces the people in the chapter. This is followed by a two-page spread for each individual: one side has a full-page color drawing, and the other has text boxes of varying shapes and sizes that supply information about the person and his or her accomplishments. No rationale for selection of people is given, nor are additional resources listed. An irreverent approach to history, to be sure, but Basher’s approach is always appealing, and this might springboard interest in more definitive sources.
School Library Journal November 1, 2014
Gr 4 Up-This latest Basher creation focuses on significant figures throughout history dating back as far as 1258 BC with Ramses II and ending with Nelson Mandela's death in 2013. The book moves chronologically and covers a wide variety of people, such as Attila the Hun, Karl Marx, and plenty of presidents, scientists, explorers, and emperors. However, only six of the 40 figures are female. The page-length biographies include a colorful, first-person description of individuals and a time line of their lives, as well as their accomplishments, legacy, and significant relationships. Grant doesn't gloss over more unsavory details and is honest with readers about Elizabeth Cady Stanton's turbulent relationship with religion and Mandela's occasional use of violence to secure equal rights in South Africa. Basher's childlike, cartoon depictions of despots Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler seem strange, almost lending a bizarrely comedic tone. This book should be taken for what it is: a quick-and-dirty jump into history. Even those who aren't history buffs will find the facts and first-person accounts highly readable and might even be encouraged to pick up a full biography of one of the individuals.-Keith Klang, Port Washington Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
12
4/25/2015 15:54:42
Scholastic 2015 book of world records
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldMorse, Jenifer CorrScholastic2014316978-1-48985-026-310.993Q4PRecommended
This book provides short snippets of information about a variety of world records. The record information is divided into 6 major areas including Science & Technology, Money, Pop Culture, Nature, United States, and Sports. Within each area there are several topics. For example, the Science and Technology section is divided into video games, internet, technology, vehicles, and structures. Each world record listed includes a photo, a brief paragraph describing the record and a graph revealing other top selections. The final world record listed is Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge. Students and schools from around the world participated in this challenge to help create this reading record. The book does include a Table of Contents, an Index, and a list of Photo Credits, but no other additional resources are provided.
World record books are very popular among upper elementary students. These books are in constant demand and students seem to like reading the short snippets of information and looking at the photos of the variety of world records or “best of” winners. Because the sections for each record are very short, reluctant readers may also be willing to tackle this nonfiction book because it can be read in small sections while not losing the meaning of what is written. Students can also only read the sections that interest them the most or by reading all the sections, this book could spark an interest in a new topic for further reading. Teachers may want to use this book as an introduction to nonfiction text features, showing students how to combine text, photos, and other features such as graphs to present the same information. Students could use this book’s format as a model to display information they learned about on almost any topic or subject studied. This reference book can be combined with other nonfiction texts to assist students with Common Core standards such as RI.4.9 and RI.5.9 “Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably”.
No professional reviews found
No professional reviews found
13
4/28/2015 10:40:26Prism
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Karen Becknell
bookwoman@mi.rr.com
Kellerman, Faye
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
2009276978-0-06-168721-1184Q4PRecommended
The idea of parallel universes is intriguing and fairly compelling. Kaida Hutchenson and two classmates are transported to another world the result of a field-trip accident and mysterious happening afterwards. Kaida, and her classmates, Zeke and Joy, find themselves in familiar surroundings, home, family, school, but at the same time, strange and dangerous, for this world has no medicine or medical cures. People dread illness because they know they will be swept up and carried away to die. Kaida searches for a way to return to the world she remembers, and is driven to do so for classmate, Joy, who was injured in the accident. In her search, she encounters, Ozzy, a resident of the new world. Ozzy is an underworld character who is searching for a cure for his mother who is ill. Together, he and Kaida join with Zeke and Joy to search for a way back.

This work is both fast-paced and compelling. The reader wants to discover what happens and why. Most readers will be satisfied with the denouement, which is unfortunately the weakest element. Discerning readers will wonder what caused this event to occur and why. Answers will remain a mystery, which is what Kellerman is known for, after all. Kellerman collaborated with her teen daughter, Aliza, to produce this sci fi novel. It will have its readers, but Neil Gaiman’s Interworld might be more satisfying.

School Library Journal:
Gr 6–10— Kaida Hutchenson, a purple-haired 15-year-old student at Buchanan High School in St. Denis (right outside "Hollyweird"), never expected the school field trip to Carlsbad to go so wrong. She thought that the worst part of it would be riding in a van without her best friend, Maria, and dealing with arrogant Zeke Anderson and laid-back Joy Tallon. But after the van crashes in the desert, catches on fire, and it begins to rain, the three enter a cave that strangely transports them to a parallel dimension in which everything, including their families, is the same—except that being ill is kept a secret and finding a cure is illegal. Kaida's narration of the events will keep readers' interest as they feel her frustration and confusion as to why she can't find an aspirin for Joy's throbbing arm or use any words associated with health care or medicine because the wrong people might hear. The mysteries unfold and dangers are explained through Kaida's new love interest, Ozzy, the rebel with a cause in a world without health care. This is an ideal concept for a story that is smoothly paced through new romances, new friendships, and suspicious family members while dealing with the underworld trafficking of medicine that can become deadly. Unfortunately, the ending is rushed, some seemingly important characters are left undeveloped, and there's no explanation of how and why the split in the parallel worlds came about. This powerful topic had great potential but it falters in its delivery.—Nancy D. Tolson, Mitchell College, London, CT --Nancy D. Tolson (Reviewed August 1, 2009) (School Library Journal, vol 55, issue 8, p106)
Kirkus:
Kaida is a normal high-school girl going on a normal class trip—until a terrible van accident strands her in a nightmare with two of her fellow travelers. After a harrowing night lost in a desert cave, Kaida wakes at home in her own bed, her class trip a week in the future. She hasn't moved into the past, though. Instead, Kaida is in a world almost like her own but horribly different, and only her fellow accident victims seem to recognize anything is wrong. Nobody has ever heard of doctors or hospitals, and speaking of illness brings horrified looks from any who hear. Somehow, the accident has brought Kaida into an alternate universe where a fascist government enforces taboos against both medicine and sickness. Though the novel, by the gajillion-selling thriller author and her high-school junior daughter, might need a shot of penicillin to cure its massive plot holes, fast-paced action will keep thriller fans reading. Who needs character development or logical world-building when you've got high-speed chases and laxative smuggling? (Fantasy. 11-13) (Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2009)

14
4/28/2015 13:25:56
Vivian Apple at the End of the World
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Bethany Bratney
bbratney@novischools.net
Novi High SchoolNoviCoyle, Katie
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014262978054434011417.994Q4PHighly recommended
The Rapture is coming and Vivian Apple could not care less. Unlike the so-called Believers, including her recently devout parents, Vivian knows that the Church of America, its leader, Beaton Frick, and all talk of Rapture can be chalked up to the ramblings of a crazy man and his followers. But the morning after the anticipated Rapture, Vivian returns to an empty house with two holes in the roof of her parents’ bedroom. 3,000 Believers have disappeared in a similar fashion, convincing and converting millions of new followers – but not Vivian. With society becoming increasingly dangerous for non-Believers, Vivian, best friend, Harp, and mysterious new friend, Peter, go on the run, seeking a safe haven from judgment and answers to questions about their lives and the future. Vivian Apple is a different kind of dystopian. It will appeal to Hunger Games and Divergent fans, but will also draw in readers of realistic fiction. Mature readers will appreciate Vivian’s honest and unflinching approach toward life in the post-Rapture world (including some possibly objectionable teen behavior like drinking, drug use, sexual activity, etc.), and will draw connections to political and religious power struggles in America today. Loose curricular connections could be made to psychology coursework or to the concept of satire, but Vivian Apple will work best as a recreational read. A unique and fascinating debut page-turner that is sure have readers clamoring for the sequel.
School Library Journal October 1, 2014
Gr 9 Up-The reclusive leader of the Church of America has declared that the Rapture will occur in late March of an unspecified 21st-century year. While Believers prepare as they've been instructed, others host or attend Rapture's Eve parties. Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple and her best friend Harpreet Janda fall into the latter category, but Vivian's parents are devout Believers. The morning after Harp's party, Vivian goes home to find her house empty. She searches, but there's no message from her parents: only two person-sized holes in the roof above their bedroom. Certain that her parents haven't really been "raptured," the teen sets out to drive across the country in search of them, along with Harp and the mysterious Peter, whom they met at the Rapture's Eve festivities. As their journey progresses, the trio discovers that post-rapture America has become paranoid, insular, and most of all, dangerous. The protagonists are more developed than the secondary characters, which rings true in this road trip novel. The plot moves slowly at times but keeps readers fully immersed in this bleak story. Recommend to mature readers, especially those who enjoy postapocalyptic narratives or fans of Jeri Smith-Ready's This Side of Salvation (S. & S., 2014).-Marlyn Beebe, Long Beach Public Library, Los Alamitos, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Reviews November 1, 2014
It's the end of the world as she knows it, but Vivian Apple does not feel fine.In a modern America that seems to have forgotten God, Beaton Frick has been selected by the Almighty to be His prophet. Capitalizing (in every sense of the word) on such visions as "the parable of the Starbucks," Frick has created the Church of America and set a date for the Rapture. Seventeen-year-old Vivian is certain the paranoia will dissipate, but when her Believer parents (along with thousands of other followers) disappear and natural disasters ensue, she finds herself wondering if Frick's prophecies might be true. The teen's present-tense narration teems with irreverent humor as she follows her decision to solve the mystery of her missing parents. This is a book about America, after all, so a road trip from Vivian's Pittsburgh neighborhood to California is practically requisite. Accompanying her along the way are Indian-American and BFF Harpreet (another Rapture victim) and Peter, whom she met at a Rapture's Eve party and who also has family secrets. As on any worthy road trip, Vivian meets a host of unusual characters and begins to form her own beliefs. Although the story loses speed toward the end, readers will already be charmed by Vivian's transformations. An open ending paves the way for the trip to continue. For readers who like their realistic fiction with a whopping side of satire. (Fiction. 14 & up)
15
5/1/2015 11:15:39Glass Word
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Karen Becknell
bookwoman@mi.rr.com
Meyer, Kai
New York, N.Y.: Margaret K. McElderry Books
2008298 p.97814052163958.99-Kindle3Q3PAdditional selection
The third in the Dark Reflections trilogy, this novel is confusing to a reader unfamiliar with the previous two volumes. The first installment was evidently set in Venice, the second involved the devil and activities in Hell, the third in a snow and ice bound Egypt.

The relationships to the settings and the fantasies are unclear unless the previous two have been digested. There is some reference to the previous tales, but they are vague. However, the characters are well-drawn and appealing – especially Vermithrax, the glowing iron lion. The vague conclusion was overshadowed by all the action.

This volume should only be purchased by those with the previous two volumes in their collections. Additional purchase.

School Library Journal:
Gr 5–7— Egypt is the setting for the final volume of this epic fantasy: an Egypt unpeopled except for the powerful and violent sphinxes and the main characters, and bound in devastating snow and ice. The story picks up shortly after Merle and Junipa escape from Hell on the back of Vermithrax, the obsidian lion, in The Stone Light (S & S, 2006). With few explanations for latecomers, Meyer's trilogy should be seen as a single work divided into three physical volumes, rather than three stand-alone novels. Merle, Junipa, and Serafin are reunited in the nonstop action that courses through the book, and go on to work with Lalapeya, the Flowing Queen, and Vermithrax to save the world from the devastating evil that threatens it. Meyer explains the mysteries at the heart of the series, including the nature of the water mirror and Merle's heritage, the true nature of both the sphinx Lalapeya and the Flowing Queen, and the truth about the threat posed by Egypt to the world. The relationship between Merle and Serafin also reaches a resolution, although so much attention is paid to the action that the emotional power of Merle's crucial choice at the end is muted. Buy where the first two titles have been popular.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City --Sue Giffard (Reviewed March 1, 2008) (School Library Journal, vol 54, issue 3, p206)
Kirkus:
A series that began with offbeat potential ends with tedium. Merle and Junipa, emerging from Hell, discover Egypt covered in snow. The unprecedented cold comes from the presence of Winter, a figure searching for his paramour Summer. Summer's imprisoned in the Iron Eye, a stronghold of mirrors made by sphinxes as part of the Stone Light's plan to take over the world. The Stone Light also wants to take over other worlds—worlds that Meyer never shows, except the "mirror world" that connects them all. Ancient legend connects the sphinxes, the Stone Light, the Egyptian Empire (which has ravaged Venice and the world), the Flowing Queen and Vermithrax, the flying stone lion. Meyer's prose is verbosely distancing; for example, in an action scene, "The mummies wore armor of leather and steel, but even that could not conceal that these undead soldiers were specimens with uncommonly robust proportions." Excessive explanation and exposition renders this conclusion dull and slow. (Fantasy. 11-14) (Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2007)

16
5/1/2015 14:03:33
Clark the shark tooth trouble
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Hale, BruceHarper201532978-0-06-227908-8$16.995Q4PRecommended
Clark the Shark has tooth trouble when he gets hit with a ball during reef soccer. He’s sent to the dentist by Nurse Mahi Mahi, but not before Billy-Ray gives him the heads up that Clark has everything to fear; dentists are mean and cruel. “You’ll be fine,” his pal Joey Mackerel consoles, and “Isn’t he the one who told you whales fly?” Clark’s mother reminds. To Clark’s surprise, Doctor Pia is a tiny, wise cracking good-natured fish. Clark the shark doesn’t shed a tear, because there’s nothing to fear.

“Clark the Shark, that well-meaning but sometimes-too-rambunctious fish, is back to learn another school-based lesson... There's no disguising the story's intent, but the message goes down easy through Clark's silly antics, which are reflected in both the lively text and the just-as-spirited-as-Clark undersea illustrations,” Horn Book (Fall 2014).

Clark contains rhyme words, most often within dialogue. And there are examples of such literary conventions as onomatopoeia. The setting and problem/solution are easy and obvious for young students to pick out and decipher.

Clark’s a lovable well-meaning goofball who oftentimes makes poor choices, similar to Jonathon London’s better written, and more likable, Froggy. Pair the two to compare and contrast the main characters in a character study exercise. Like Froggy, Clark has an endearing quality despite his many wrong-headed choices.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
Clark the shark has a toothache and needs to visit the dentist. But when a friend tells him dentists are scary, Clark isn't so sure he wants to cooperate. This easy-to-read story has the signature overt lesson but without Clark's playfully rambunctious, well-meaning antics that make them palatable in his picture books. Shark-loving emergent readers will appreciate the appended shark facts.
Review not available.
17
5/1/2015 14:09:06Good night alreadyPrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
John, JoriHarper201532978-0-06-228620-8$17.994Q5PRecommended
Poor Bear has never been so tired in his life, but his friend and neighbor duck has never been so awake. Duck’s repeated attempts to cajole Bear into entertaining him fail miserably, but Duck won’t be deterred, until he is fast asleep and irritable Bear is wide awake.

“The premise of this story is not very original, and even the ending won't be a surprise. Bear comes across as a grouchy curmudgeon, while Duck is oblivious and annoying, and their dialogue is stilted… but the fresh, funny art makes it a worthy consideration,” School Library Journal, (November 1, 2014).

Compare and contrast insistent Duck with Mo Willem’s persistent pigeon. There are plenty of grouchy bears in children’s literature to compare with rather one note bear. Comparing Bear to a more well-rounded grizzly character from another story could be a useful exercise in teaching character development.

The story can also be used to discuss nocturnal vs. diurnal, and generate a list of each type of animal. Pair with another animal book and an animal website such as Sheppard’s software to teach animal traits.
Booklist November 15, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 6)
Preschool-Grade 2. Poor Bear. All he wants to do is go to sleep. But his neighbor Duck is wide awake and wants company. Will Bear play cards? Read stories? Make smoothies? Be sympathetic to a stubbed beak? Bear and Duck play out a back-and-forth scenario of approach and rebuff, until the tables are turned: Duck falls asleep but Bear is now wide awake. The story is reliant on the visual cues of Davies’ comic illustrations, so that the exchange between the characters is funny rather than intolerable. Duck is so small compared to Bear, yet his larger-than-life (and possibly caffeine-induced?) energy overwhelms his much larger neighbor. Bear becomes more and more irritable with each interruption from Duck, yet maintains a strained cuddliness—he is always holding his teensy bedtime bunny in his massive paw. (Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the bunny is a silent participant in the action, often reflecting Bear’s feelings.) While not a typical bedtime battle of wills, parents and kids will recognize the power struggle between Duck and Bear and pick sides accordingly.
Kirkus Reviews October 1, 2014
Animals with differing internal rhythms find it challenging to be neighbors in this nocturnal tale. Duck is full of energy; sitting in his brightly lit, yellow kitchen, he sips coffee while perusing 101 Ways to Stay Awake. Bear, by contrast, stands sleepily at the base of the staircase in his dimly lit living room, stuffed rabbit dangling from one massive paw. Just after Bear climbs the steps and settles in, Duck raps on the door, wide awake. "Wanna play cards?...Watch a movie?...Start a band?...Make smoothies?" To each suggestion, Bear simply says "No." This pattern plays out three times, each episode ending with one or the other voicing the titular refrain until the beleaguered bear is finally wide awake, and the duck drifts off. The relationship between a lumbering, grumpy character and a frenetic extrovert will be familiar to grown-up fans of cartoons, and Duck's ludicrous behavior and costumes will no doubt elicit giggles from young listeners. Davies brings an animator's sensibility to his uncluttered compositions; variation in page color and typeface as well as skillful manipulation of facial features signal emotional states. The texture of the hairy bear and the occasional patterns on the floor and bedspread add interest to the flat backgrounds. That's all, though, folks. With its one-joke plot and dramatic potential, it's better suited to school and library use than repeat readings in a lap at home. (Picture book. 3-6)
18
5/1/2015 14:54:41Bed for bear
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
McFarland, CliveHarper Collins201432978-0-06-223705-7$17.994Q5PHighly recommended
“This simple tale riffs on a perennial theme: "There's no place like home." It's nearly time for bears to hibernate for the winter, but young Bernard thinks his clan's cave is "too noisy, too big, and too crowded." Pillow under arm and a yellow, fringed scarf wrapped around his neck, the green-eyed fellow sets off to find a better place to sleep,” Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2014).

Bear meets up with a series of friends and tests out their beds, whether they want him to or not. Of course in the end, he finds the perfect den – home, even though it might be a little bit too noisy, big and crowded.

The animals deadpan delivery is comically amusing, and it would be a great read aloud for any age. Where other creators would have shown Bernard's victims having conniption fits, Bernard's cluelessness earns him some very Klassen-y side-eye from the other animals. Once readers glean what's going on behind all the poker faces and understatement, they'll be hooked,” Publisher’s Weekly, (September 29, 2014).

Have students re-enact the story and assume the roles and personalities of the animals. They will have fun with this short and simple, heartwarming tale.
Booklist March 15, 2015 (Online)
Preschool-Grade 1. Bernard the bear is not looking forward to hibernating in the noisy, crowded cave this winter, so he sets out in search of a better bed. How about frog’s lily pad? “Wet isn’t very comfy.” What about rabbit’s burrow? “This is a tight fit.” There’s a cozy-looking spot at the base of a tree, but “a badger sett is no place for bears.” Soon his pillow, not to mention his own body, is covered in sticks and leaves, and dejected Bernard doesn’t know where to turn. Luckily, a friendly mouse, who has had his eye on Bernard the whole time, has a great tip about a place that’s cozy, warm, and dry. McFarland does not waste any time establishing the subtly witty and dry tone, while slyly introducing youngsters to a handful of animal habitats. The cut-paper collage illustrations, which make great use of animal eyes to telegraph expressions, are richly textured and add to the spare, autumnal atmosphere. This wryly funny story is perfect for bedtime, particularly for little cubs who can’t get comfy.
Kirkus Reviews October 15, 2014
This simple tale riffs on a perennial theme: "There's no place like home." It's nearly time for bears to hibernate for the winter, but young Bernard thinks his clan's cave is "too noisy, too big, and too crowded." Pillow under arm and a yellow, fringed scarf wrapped around his neck, the green-eyed fellow sets off to find a better place to sleep. He tries out Frog's lily pad, discovering that "[w]et isn't very comfy." Ditto for Bird's windy perch and Rabbit's too-tight burrow. Hedgehog sleeps in the open--not to Bernard's liking. And while a spot in a hollow tree seems cozy (if lonely), Badger soon returns to claim it. A pink-tailed gray mouse, who's observed Bernard's entire quest, asks "What kind of bed DO you want?" When the bear answers, Mouse knows just what to do. A double-page spread shows the pair backtracking among all of Bernard's stops, returning to a bed that's perfect for him. Irish illustrator McFarland's digitally composed crayon-and-watercolor cutouts are backed by expansive white space. Stylized animals and austere, minimalist flora evoke Jon Klassen's work--and that sage little mouse, that of Leo Lionni. A visual progression shows that Bernard's pillow, having trapped leaves and sticks along the way, is left behind for Hedgehog. A final picture depicts the sprawling, slumbering bears. Pleasant--though it does not plow particularly new ground. (Picture book. 3-6)
19
5/4/2015 8:34:51Love wins for teens
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville High School
ClarencevilleBell, Rob
Harper Collins children’s books
2013150978-0-06-222187-2$17.994Q2PAdditional selection
I selected this book thinking it would be a poetry book similar to Alanis Morresett’s song ‘What if god were one of us?’ It turns out to be a book on Christian faith and the author’s beliefs. One of my favorite sentences in the book was “When God made you, God did not make a mistake.” Bell rewrote this book for teens. His first major work was Love wins.

Bell is a catholic priest and talks of his earlier years as a youth by asking questions and answering them. He is essentially preaching his views on the bible. He often tells us what Jesus intended for us to do and interprets what Jesus said in his own way. “So when Jesus anticipated that great day in the future when God would heal the world, he was talking about the day when heaven and earth would be the same place”. The next line reads “This is really, really important, so let me repeat it: When Jesus spoke of the future, he spoke about the coming day when heaven and earth would be one.” That is a lot of conjecture on his part. He lost over 1,000 people in his church over his views on Love Wins and this is his rewritten/adaptation of that book for teens.

Bell is a spiritual talk show host in Los Angeles and while most of what he says is good and light. He wants all of those who read this to be more of a Christian than what they were before reading this book. He is trying to convert teens to be and do good things in society to live the Christian way of life. He wants them to reach out to people to that need their help, be kind to the elderly, to observe and assist. His message is good, but his interpretation of the bible is strictly his own interpretation.

I will put it in my public high school library. It’s an easy read and I hope it may produce some changes in today’s teen society for the good. It could be used in the 11th grade non-fiction curriculum for creative nonfiction.

Voice of Youth Advocates.
Being an adolescent is hard--you have to deal with so many things. You have the "untouchable" complex; no matter what you do, you automatically assume you will walk away unharmed. As Bell mentions in the introductory chapter of this book, he allowed his friend to encourage him to ride a BMX bike while his friend shot a BB gun at him. Hoping that he misses, Bell ends up with a painful reminder of why his friend should not use Bell's butt for target practice. With this opening anecdote, Bell sets the tone of the book by using personal stories to shift adolescents' minds from their social and personal hardships to the big party to which God invites everyone. In a down-to-earth demeanor, Bell explains to adolescents how religious faith can help them interact and interpret their world.
Bell's question-and-answer format makes his presentation of ideas simple to understand and more conversational than prescriptive. It can be read in one sitting, or readers can select different sections. Teachers can pair this book with classic novels that deal with faith and the consequences of actions based on faith. Adolescents could assume a character's persona, such as Hester Prynne or Abigail Williams, and explain how the book could interpret their fictional worlds. This book would be a wonderful addition to any library's self-help or teen nonfiction section. --Anjeanette Alexander-Smith.
no other reviews found
20
5/4/2015 8:39:18Sleep no more
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
clarenceville high school
ClarencevillePike, Aprilynne Harper Teen2014340978-0-06-199903-1$17.995Q5PHighly recommended
Charlotte is a sixteen year old Oracle. Her aunt is an Oracle and keeper of the records. Oracles can see the future and some can change it. Charlotte changed the future when she was six by accident. Her aunt belongs to a group called the Sisters of Delphi and knows all the powers an Oracle has but will not reveal them to Charlotte. Oracles are to forget their visions, never change the past, and leave the future alone. Charlotte follows all of these rules. Then schoolmates start being murdered, she feels guilty just knowing what is about to happen. She cannot stand by and watch these visions unfold to real life. She is contacted by a man, she never met, named Smith. He knows how to stop and reverse these future killings from happening. Unknown to her, Smith is gaining power from her as she rebels against her Oracle upbringing. Smith is a feeder. He feeds off of Oracles and their weakness to stand against him. Smith is trying to take over Charlotte and her powers. She has to fight Smith in an alternate world where futures can be changed. She has to distract him enough to release his grip on Charlotte’s physical body that is holding a knife to her boyfriend’s throat. This is a traditional fight between good and evil.

This book is very well written. It is a page turner. Most of my high school boys and girls will love the new series. It is a light fiction read that could be used in English classes or a book club read. Due to the violent killings I don’t recommend it for middle school.

Voice of Youth Advocates.
4Q * 4P * J * S
Charlotte made a life-changing mistake when she was six, acting on one of her visions and changing the future. After her father is killed and her mother injured, Charlotte tries to follow the rules laid out by her Oracle aunt, Sierra. Not only must she hide her ability to see the future, she must also fight the visions and remain inactive when a vision breaks through. This consumes most of Charlotte's energy, leaving little room for friends. When her small-town classmates start dying in horrific ways, Charlotte cannot stay neutral any longer. She must try to save them.
Pike is probably best known by teen readers for her Wings series, and Sleep No More might be a bit of a surprise for Pike's fans. The action is intense at times, with detailed descriptions of the crime scenes in Charlotte's visions. It is dedicated to victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, and captures the sadness and terror felt by a community losing young members one at a time to horrific tragedy. Adrenaline junkies and fantasy lovers should both be satisfied with the story, the characters, and the exciting conclusion.--Kate Conklin.

Kirkus Reviews.
If you knew something bad was going to happen, would you try to change the future? Charlotte Westing is an Oracle, and as such, she must follow three rules: never to reveal herself as an Oracle to non-Oracles; never to give in to the visions; and if a vision gets through, never to try to change the future. At age 6, Charlotte broke the third rule, costing her father his life. Ten years later, a stronger-than-normal vision breaks through 16-year-old Charlotte's carefully constructed psychic defenses, foretelling the murder of a classmate. Charlotte wants to act, but she is too late. After a second ominous vision, she warns the potential victim, but it's no help. As visions of the dead increase, and the bodies start piling up, Charlotte must decide whether to break all the rules in order to stop a serial killer and save lives. Oddly, the Sisters of Delphi seem disinclined to intervene in Charlotte's rule breaking, but perhaps official consequence is being saved for sequels. The story is sometimes predictable and goes a bit too fast in places-readers will quickly lose track of visions and victims-but it's full of gripping tension, and Charlotte is a self-aware and likable narrator, determined to use her powers for good. Faults aside, this supernatural mystery will appeal to fans of the genre, and the story's conclusion leaves wide the door for possible future installments. (Supernatural thriller. 15-17
21
5/4/2015 9:12:40Undead
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville High School
ClarencevilleMcKay, Kirsty
Chicken House/Scholastic
2012262978-0-545-38189-5$9.995Q4PHighly recommended
Bobby is 16 and has just moved back to England from the US. To make friends, her parents send her off on a school ski trip to Scotland. The trip did not pan out as her parents had hoped. On the return bus ride, they stop to eat at a restaurant. Bobby & bad boy Smitty stay on the bus. After hours of waiting, all but two students emerge from the restaurant changed into zombies. All those that went in drank some free energy drink and turned into zombies. Now, tough-guy Smitty, computer nerd Pete, cheerleader Alice, and Bobby have to work together to escape the zombie filled mountain. They find shelter in an old castle and discover this is the place where the zombie outbreak was conceived. It is a man-made virus. It also has an antidote that goes along with it. The students have to escape and get the antidote to the authorities before there is an epidemic and it becomes uncontrollable.

I really enjoyed the humor McKay added to the story. It was a page turning escape into sci-fi. It can be used in English as an outside reading project or book club. The mistakes, wrong turns, and humor will captivate the readers. Zombie readers will love this book. I found nothing inappropriate for MS students.
Booklist.
Zombies, the monster du jour, are sure to win any current battle royal with vampires and werewolves, and this British import is packed with them. When a bus of high school students on a class trip gets stranded at a snowed-in Scottish rest stop, most of the teens, along with other travelers, turn into the drooling, flesh-eating undead. Only Bobby (aka Roberta), the wisecracking narrator, and three others who fit neatly into stereotypes-slacker, pretty bubblehead, and nerd--are left standing. When McKay sticks to the comic interplay between the foursome, the novel is fun to devour, but when the plot takes a turn at the end into a conspiracy thriller, things begin to fall apart. Clearly the story is meant to be resolved in a sequel. More satiric Shaun of the Dead than dramatic The Walking Dead, this includes plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat moments with unusual venues--the luggage hold of a bus, a Scottish castle with a wine cellar and a dungeon--and should be popular with teens who can't get enough goose-bump thrills.
no other review
22
5/4/2015 9:17:22
Don't you forget about me
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville High School
ClarencevilleQuinn, Kate Karyus Harper Teen2014334: 978-0-06-213596-417.994Q4PRecommended
Mythical magical Gardnerville is a place where you can go to heal. Garnerville, if you can find it, heals people with cancer and other debilitating diseases. Lachlan Gardner came across this town in the mountains early in his life. He had the power of suggestion and convinced people to do his bidding. He built this town including the refirmery. The refirmery was to be his castle on the mountain built with bricks made from the rat population. A curse was put on the town for anhilating the rat population and the refirmery became a living monster. The monster lives off of human spirits. It needs to be fed every 4 years. Every 4 years there is a disaster that takes the lives teenagers. Those who are alive who committed the crimes are sent to the refirmery until 18 and come out former shells of themselves. Now several 100 years later, sisters Piper and Skylar Gardner, Lachlan’s granddaughters, have powers. Piper has the power of suggestion and Skylar can read people’s thoughts. Piper aims to take down the refirmery. Skylar looks up to her older sister and is called the Pied Piper because she follows Piper around and does her bidding. Piper during a 4th year tells teens to follow her to the tressle bridge and when the train comes, she makes them to jump into the river below by power of suggestion. She is locked up in the refirmery and Skylar gives up all hope of her returning. She turns to pills to forget her misery, but a new boy in town spurs her to start remembering her past. She then feels she deserted Piper in the refirmery and decides it is time to get it together and break her out. She finds out later that Piper is her doppleganger and is not real. She was created from a lock of Skylar’s hair by her great-grandmother & mother to protect Skylar from their father. It’s really Skylar with all the powers and the ability to keep Piper alive. When she arrives at the refirmery to break her out and destroy it, she finds Piper just a figment of who she used to be. Piper has several rat urges and her eyes look like rat eyes.

This book would work well for a fantasy or science fiction read for English classes. It was a really good story with an unpredictable end. I do not foresee a sequel. There is nothing objectionable for a middle school. It would be a great read for a book club discussion.

Voice of Youth Advocates 4Q * 4P * M * J * S
Welcome to paradise. Gardnerville is a place where no one gets sick and no one dies, but every fourth year, strange, creepy events take place. This sleepy little town is hidden away by mountains and can only be reached by train. People come to Gardnerville looking for paradise, but what they do not realize is that paradise comes at a price. Sisters Skylar and Piper are Gardners, which makes them special from the beginning. Skylar has psychic ability, and Piper is a free spirit loved by all. One deadly fourth year, Piper led sixteen of her classmates to their death off a bridge, and she was locked away. Skylar became obsessed with finding her sister, and the events that unfold keep the reader turning pages.
This is a blend of science fiction, mystery, and romance. The plot moves quickly, and there is good tension throughout. Each chapter is the title of a song, which makes it fun to predict what might happen in the chapter. This would be a good novel to use when teaching theme. The cover of the book adds to the suspense and intrigue. This book will appeal to young girls of all ages, whether they like science fiction, mystery, or romance. --Lona Trulove.

Kirkus Reviews
Even paradise has its secrets.Trains bring desperate newcomers who've heard the tales of wonder. Gardnerville has no disease, and its inhabitants live well beyond 100, looking youthful all the while. But those, like Skylar, who were born and raised in the seemingly blissful town know its dark side. The land gives many gifts, like Skylar's ability to read minds, but it takes even more. Adolescence is hard in Gardnerville, turning teens mad and even into killers. With some pharmaceutical help, Skylar has tried to forget her painful past, including her older sister Piper's strange disappearance four years ago, but now it's time to remember. In this distinctive, supernatural read, Skylar's first-person narration alternates between episodic remembrances of time spent with Piper (highlighted by '80s song titles from their mother's old mix tapes) and her current struggle to find Piper and understand the mysteries of Gardnerville. Skylar's storytelling style can be slow and complex, leaving characters and romance flat. Readers with patience and curiosity about Piper's whereabouts, possible role in an uprising and folkloric connections, however, will add up the clues that lead to a startling ending.A divisive novel that will leave readers wondering "Should I Stay or Should I Go."
23
5/4/2015 9:25:19
Bridge between me and you
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville High School
ClarencevilleSchroeder, LisaScholastic2014327978-0-545-64601-717.994Q4PRecommended
This book shows how two people, who need someone to confide in, can become close friends in a “taking it slow” love relationship. It is written with alternating Colby and Lauren chapters. Lauren chapters are written in 1 page verse, while Colby chapters are 2-3 pages long. It is a very unique technique of writing. It keeps the pages turning because the chapters are so short.

Lauren moves to a small town into her Uncle and Aunt’s house. Her mother sends her away and keeps the younger brother Lauren has raised. Lauren longs to be home protecting her brother from her drug addicted mother. She also longs to be loved by her mother and would do anything to keep the family together.

Colby is the high school star football player and is getting offers to play at big universities. While his father is reliving his past through Colby, Colby wants nothing to do with football after high school. He is reluctant to tell his father of his true dreams and ambitions of going to a smaller college and getting his civil engineering degree to build bridges.

Colby and Lauren bond and find comfort in telling each other their secrets of being loved without conditions. They just want to be themselves and not pretend to be someone they are not.

This book would work well for a fiction read for an English class. There is nothing objectionable for a middle school. It would also be good for a book club read.
Voice of Youth Advocates Aug. 2014: 72.
Lauren is the new girl in a small town that revolves around its high school football team. It is unclear at first why her mother has abandoned her, forcing her to live with her uncle and his family, and whether or not she deserves it. She has found a loving family with them but she is afraid it will not last and that nothing will work out for her. Colby is the high school football star being recruited by top ivy league schools who secretly wants to stop playing football and study bridges. To stop playing football would disappoint his father, so he keeps his wishes hidden and tries to do right by everybody else. When Lauren and Colby meet, they both sense a kindred spirit and a chance at happiness.
The Bridge from Me to You is classified as a romance but it is so much more. Lauren and Colby's romance is sweet and slow, but it takes a backseat to larger themes of family and strength and finding one's self. Lauren must deal with her issues with her mother before she can truly commit to a relationship with Colby; likewise, Colby has to face his father. The author lets them work out these issues and develop a friendship instead of jumping into insta-love. The novel is written in alternating chapters of poetry (Lauren) and prose (Colby) that serve the story well. It is a very quick, engrossing read that Sarah Dessen fans will appreciate.--Jen Macintosh.
Kirkus Reviews 1 June 2014
Colby, star of the Willow High School football team, and Lauren, the new girl with a dark secret, both yearn to be seen for who they really are.Colby's best friend, Benny, has always been his greatest supporter, both on and off the field, but when a tragic motorcycle accident changes Benny's life, Colby needs someone he can rely on. Lauren, struggling with her own personal tragedy, is the only one who seems to understand. Colby is obsessed with bridges. He sees them as a way to escape. Lauren, with dreams of becoming an ornithologist, envies a bird's ability to fly away and be free. But as their friendship grows, each of their obsessions begins to change. For Colby, bridges become ways to connect; Lauren begins to appreciate a bird's ability to nest. The narrative unspools through chapters told in the alternating voices of the two main characters. Colby's chapters focus on a straightforward telling of the events, while Lauren's chapters, a mix of poetry and prose, resonate with emotion. Familiar characters and a quiet plot are elevated by poetry that is as beautiful as it is varied.Lovely in its details. (Fiction. 13-18)
24
5/4/2015 14:24:13
Charley the ranch dog stuck in the mud
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Drummond, ReeHarper 201532978-0-06-234775-6$16.994Q4PRecommended
Charlie the cattle dog eats extra bit of breakfast because he’ll need all his strength to do his job. Moving cattle is not a job for every dog, but Charlie has what it takes to be a cattle dog. He not only has the stamina, he has the sense to keep a level head and keep calm, cool and stay at high alert. He’s not one to go crazy among the confusion of the cattle drive.

With all the charm of a Kindergartner, Charlie is confident if not completely competent. His eagerness and good intentions are easily relatable for young children who are beginning to read independently. There are plenty of visual clues in the pictures to assist independent reading.

Even though Charlie might be in over his head, literally, in a puddle of mud - he manages to save the day and wayward calf Abigail. There are plenty examples of Charlie’s personality for students to perform a simple character study. He goes from eager to overly confident and takes his lumps in stride.

Students will enjoy brainstorming what makes Charlie a great cattle dog. And they will no doubt enjoy reading his adventures down on the ranch.
No reviews available No reviews available
25
5/4/2015 14:37:57Chu's dayPrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Gaiman, NeilHarper201332978-0-06-201781-9$17.994Q4PRecommended
“When Chu sneezes, bad things happen,” sets up the expectation that the kids will be blown away when Chu finally lets loose. It’s not the solemn library’s musty old books or pepper flying at the diner that triggers Chu’s sonic convulsive explosion.

These prim, orderly settings are the perfect setup for the chaos that Chu introduces, and there's a mischievous sense of humor that results from placing exotic anthropomorphic animals … onto these decidedly conventional backdrops. While children will delight in seeing such a tiny creature wreak havoc, the story still concludes on a reassuring note, with Chu's parents gently tucking him in. A small but delightful dose of fun,” School Library Journal, (January 1, 2013).

There are enough other animals in the story (squids, narwhals, giraffes, wombats), that teachers can quiz students their names. The three main settings are simple enough, that students will be able to recall them easily.

Because the climax is basically a wordless pictorial display of detailed carnage, the entire story could be used as springboard to set up a writing prompt for students to create a narrative using specific details to describe the circus scene. Students could then peer edit, compare and contrast one another’s literary creations.
School Library Journal December 1, 2014
PreS-The orderly routine of Chu's daily life, which include a trip to the library and lunch at a diner, is upended when the adorable little panda sneezes. Rex's gorgeous, rich illustrations depict an enchantingly old-fashioned world of hilariously anthropomorphized beasts. The satisfying chaos that ensues when an "Achoo!" turns everything upside down will have readers giggling again and again. (c) Copyright 2014.
Kirkus Reviews November 15, 2012
A modest yet richly colorful day in the life of a small panda who may or may not sneeze, which may or may not be calamitous. "When Chu sneezed, bad things happened," portends the opening. Chu is an adorable panda kid in a striped T-shirt and aviator hat. Mellow white space surrounds him and his panda parents except when they arrive at the day's three destinations: the library, a diner and the circus. These settings are sumptuous spreads. Rex's oil paints showcase lights, darks and textures while populating the scenes with droll-looking animals and fine details to pore over. A circus turtle flies on a trapeze; library mice sit inside old-fashioned card-catalog drawers working on miniscule computers. Due to the library's "old-book-dust," Chu's mother knows to check: "Are you going to sneeze?"--"aah-aaah-Aaaah- / No, said Chu." That comical buildup and take back spreads across three pages, including a suspenseful page turn. At the circus, readers finally behold the power of a nasal expulsion. The climax is visually realistic yet dreamlike, with a nice, slyly deadpan ending that finds Chu's family somewhat better off than the rest of their town. The single problem with this book--potentially a deal breaker--is the use of this particular Chinese name for the sake of a sneeze pun. Weigh great art and clever story against the exploitation of the old, unfortunate clich that Asian names sound funny. (Picture book. 2-5)
26
5/4/2015 14:42:42Hello, moonPrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Simon, FrancescaScholastic 201332978-0-545-64795-3$16.994Q4PRecommended
Inquiring minds want to know; what does the mood do for fun? What does the moon like? What does the moon see? “The questions Simon has her protagonist pose--by turns spirited, playful and genuinely sweet--signal understanding of and respect for a child's emotional and intellectual capacities. Judging from all the childhood insomnia out there, there can never be too many bedtime stories, especially when they model a strategy as successful as this one,” Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2014).

Hello, Moon! Is an extend dance remix of personification. The whole story is an inquiry by an insomniac boy, who may or may not be lonely, into what human pursuits the moon might or might not indulge in. The boy’s companion is his orange tiger striped cat.

Students could perform an exercise where they make appropriate inquiries to an inanimate object they find in nature. What sort of questions would they ask a pine tree, an old barn, the sun, a mountain, a lake. The perspectives would have to vary with the different point of view. Students could model their questions after those found in the text.

The exclamation mark in the title and the litany of questions could serve to reinforce punctuation for very young children.
Booklist June 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 19)
Preschool-Kindergarten. A cheery round moon with a small upturned nose is a little boy’s nighttime confidant in this offering by the author of the Horrid Henry series. A foil for the tot’s curiosity, the celestial being is peppered with dozens of questions. Does the moon like ice cream and bouncing on a bed? What does he pretend? Can he see everything the boy can or more? Cort’s illustrations reflect the little guy’s imagination: a mermaid swims with him beneath the sea, a slide twists around an ice-cream cone, and children cavort in a meadow under the stars. Royal-blue skies give the evening a happy look mirroring the child’s blue-walled bedroom, and the items surrounding the boy—a tabby cat, a stuffed toy monkey—have counterparts in his conjured world, with a happy-looking tiger roaming a jungle and simians sitting in a palm tree. The moon shines amiably down in most spreads and lends its moonbeam light to others. A sweet book of reassurance, this will stand out among the many bedtime volumes available on library shelves.
Kirkus Reviews March 15, 2014
Children who have their own bedrooms must face that moment each night when they feel utterly alone; the time before sleep may seem endless. This thoughtful young protagonist strikes up a conversation with the moon: "Can we talk? I get lonely down here sometimes. What I want to know is...." His questions run the gamut from the moon's taste in games, food and animals to its range of vision. Can the smiling countenance see inside people's homes or into the ocean's depths? Reflecting on his own situation, the boy wonders if the moon has friends--and, in a kindly gesture, offers to listen anytime. Composed with an abundance of reassuring, rounded shapes and images high on the child-appeal scale (pirates, ice cream cones, playgrounds), Cort's acrylic scenes contrast the predominately cool, blue nighttime environment with a variety of warm greens punctuated by bursts of orange. Prominent among these is the child's striped cat, which appears as a playful and comforting presence throughout, and the identically colored tiger who saunters out of the bushes when named as a favorite. The questions Simon has her protagonist pose--by turns spirited, playful and genuinely sweet--signal understanding of and respect for a child's emotional and intellectual capacities. Judging from all the childhood insomnia out there, there can never be too many bedtime stories, especially when they model a strategy as successful as this one. (Picture book. 3-6)
27
5/4/2015 14:48:48Hooray for hat!Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Won, Brian
Houghton Harcourt Mifflin
201432978-0-544-15903-7$16.995Q5PRecommended
“As everyone well knows, there’s nothing so cheering as a good fashion accessory. Here Won takes the idea a step further: Elephant wakes up grumpy, but the mood doesn’t survive the discovery of a gift box on the porch with a fabulous multilayered hat inside,” Booklist, (June 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 19)).

In this infectious tale, Elephant spreads his joy to his crew of crotchety critters. Their moods instantly lift as they parade from one home to another, chanting “Hooray for hat!” The story climaxes with everyone but giraffe with a hat and a good mood. Students can be asked to make predictions about how the animals can pitch in and make giraffe feel better.

This simple story is an effective way to teach the concept of pay it forward, or think first to understand, and then be understood – as their grumpy moods are felled like dominoes. In the end, the moral of the story is summed up with one final chant of, “Hooray for friends!”

Children will no doubt make a connection as to a time when they cheered a friend or family member, or when they were uplifted by one another.
Booklist June 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 19)
Preschool-Grade 2. As everyone well knows, there’s nothing so cheering as a good fashion accessory. Here Won takes the idea a step further: Elephant wakes up grumpy, but the mood doesn’t survive the discovery of a gift box on the porch with a fabulous multilayered hat inside. Off Elephant rushes to show—and cleverly share with—grouchy Zebra. Soon there’s an entire parade of formerly grumpy friends marching along beneath new hats and chanting the titular exclamation. Ultimately the original headpiece is reassembled as a gift for Giraffe, who isn’t feeling well, and all gather for a final shout: HOORAY FOR FRIENDS! Won’s expressively posed animal figures and the spare narrative are placed on white backgrounds that both brighten the colors and give each scene a clean, spacious look. Moreover, the repeated chorus endows the episode with storytime-friendly rhythm and predictability. A tip of the hat to this buoyant debut.
Kirkus Reviews April 15, 2014
All the animals are grumpy until a surprise brightens their day in this tale about the joy of sharing. With eyebrows knit and feet clenched, Elephant stomps downstairs. A black-scribble cloud hovers over his head. But his anger melts into delight when he finds a gift on the doorstep--a tall and very silly hat comprising many other hats stacked one on top of the other. Happily, Elephant puts it on, exclaiming, "Hooray for hat!" Wanting to show others, he runs from one home to the next, distributing hats one by one and perking up his crabby crew of friends. When Elephant's hats are all gone, the pals each contribute their own to make a new gift for Giraffe. The artwork, done in a pastel palette, is appealing and playful, and the heritage of Mary Blair can be seen in the spreads. Everything--from the composition of the characters to the way the images are placed with relation to the type--is well-designed. Won especially plays with definition, form and color. As each surly animal is introduced, it becomes less defined: Turtle is a shell, Owl a silhouette and Lion a dark cave. But when the animals join the hat party, they emerge in expressive, full form. This lighthearted story revels in the small acts that make life better--cheers all around. (Picture book. 3-7)
28
5/4/2015 14:53:55
How to behave at a tea party
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Rosenberg, MadelynHarper Collins 201432978-0-06-227926-2$17.995Q4PRecommended
Julia invites her little brother to her tea party, which devolves into chaos when the neighbor twins, a frog and a dog make a mess of her carefully executed exercise in civility.

“The metajoke of this book is that the text reads like a set of instructions written by Miss Manners that hint at the chaos shown in the pictures. "You may bring a stuffed animal. And a present. / Do not eat the peonies. Or the tablecloth!" Julia loses her temper and sends the boys away with big angry words that fill the page. But a tea party for one is not much of a party,” Kirkus Reviews, (August 15, 2014).

Ultimately, Julia tosses in the towel, and subscribes to the old adage - if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, as she discovers spontaneity has its perks. Older siblings will easily be able to relate to this tale of a thwarted decorum and maturity.

The story’s illustrations reveal the story’s subtext, since the visual chaos doesn’t exactly match up with the text. It could be used as a teaching tool to reinforce the importance of paying attention to the illustrations of a story, as they sometimes tell a different story from another perspective.
Booklist December 15, 2014 (Online)
Preschool-Grade 2. When throwing a tea party, a host expects certain decorum. However, when Julia invites her younger brother, Charlie, she learns a thing or two about expecting the unexpected. Julia starts her tale by listing party-planning steps. However, things go downhill when Charlie brings a snake to the table, builds a teacup tower, and allows the dog, a frog, and the twin boys from next door to join in. Chaos ensues. After banning everyone and attempting to have a quiet, solitary tea party, a bored Julia eventually understands that “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” and decides to reinvite her guests and enjoy whatever happens. Photoshop digitally composed illustrations leave plenty of white space and feature brightly colored, energetic, and engaging scenes with action galore. Pair this with Caterina and the Perfect Party (2013), by Erin Eitter Kono, to show that being spontaneous can have its rewards.
Kirkus Reviews August 15, 2014
With such a mischievous little brother, what's a young hostess to do? As Julia plans and sets up her backyard tea party, younger brother Charles runs rings around and through it with the cute family dog, Rexie. And not far away are the McKagan brothers, redheaded twins with googly eyes, who match Charles prank for prank. They eat the peonies on the table (while Rexie is eating the tablecloth), and one of them stacks the teacups on his head. The metajoke of this book is that the text reads like a set of instructions written by Miss Manners that hint at the chaos shown in the pictures. "You may bring a stuffed animal. And a present. / Do not eat the peonies. Or the tablecloth!" Julia loses her temper and sends the boys away with big angry words that fill the page. But a tea party for one is not much of a party. She reinvites the boys and even allows Rexie to return. Before long, she's playing as rambunctiously as they are, building a rocket ship out of sugar cubes and climbing the big backyard tree. Rosenberg's prose is apt and economical, playing right into the humor of the book's digital illustrations, created with Photoshop. Ross' repertoire of facial expressions is a highlight. Fizzy and sweet if not exactly groundbreaking. (Picture book. 3-6)
29
5/4/2015 14:59:27
Huff and Puff have too much stuff
Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Rabe, TrishHarper Collins 201332978-0-06-230506-0$16.994Q4PRecommended
“Adorable train cars Huff (engine) and Puff (caboose) star in these early readers perfect for train-loving kids…. Short rhyming text with catchy repetitive phrases ("Click-ity, click-ity clack"; "Chug-a, chug-a, chug-a, chug-a, choo-choo-choo!") make for read-aloud gold, while candy-colored illustrations are packed with smiling faces,” Horn Book Guide for the Fall, 2014.

Huff and Puff is an essential series for beginning readers. The text is written in such a way that the repetitive words build on one another. Each page features vowel sounds such as -ite, -oat, and of course -uff. The text is simple enough not to challenge struggling readers too much, but it’s entertaining enough to keep their attention.

The brevity of the book will keep students from losing interest and they will have a sense of accomplishment on completion.

Read the book one on one, and teach children to look at pictures for visual clues as to the text. Also, there’s an obvious lesson, or problem/solution that students can easily identify. They should have no problem deciphering them.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
Adorable train cars Huff (engine) and Puff (caboose) gather things as they travel along the tracks: "Big stuff, small stuff, they got it ALL!" But they soon discover they have too much, so Farmer Fluff takes the stuff and the friends realize having each other is enough. Easy-to-read rhymes and candy-colored illustrations set a friendly stage for the slight story.
No review available.
30
5/4/2015 15:03:31I love dogsPrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Stainton, SueKatherine Tegen Books201432978-0-06-117057-7$14.994Q4PRecommended
An urbane, whimsical celebration of canines. The setting is an urban park, with witty simple rhyming couplets to narrating the joyous action, “Yappy dogs, happy dogs. Fluffy dogs, scruffy dogs.” The dog-crazy protagonist has an infectious love for man’s best friend.

“Stylized, computer-generated illustrations capture the antics of the happily romping canines and the eccentricities of their various owners. The main character is sometimes cleverly concealed within the illustrations of the busy park scenes, but he can always be spotted by his tuft of red hair and striped shirt. The illustrations carefully match the descriptions of the dogs, whether spotty, dotty, wrinkly or crinkly, and the bold, jazzy style perks up a story that isn't particularly original. As always, Staake depicts skin tones of just about every color, including blue, lavender and green…” Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2014).

Since the story reads like a poem, students could be instructed to write and illustrate their own poetic celebration of their favorite pets: bunnies, cats, hamsters, or fish. The descriptive adjectives could be tailored to reflect their pet of choice.
Booklist November 15, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 6)
Preschool-Grade 3. Simple verse and comic cartoons combine to celebrate a bounding, boundless variety of dogdom. A little boy with a big affinity for dogs works his way through a city park that’s chock-full of canine variety. Along the way, he follows a series of “ADOPT A DOG TODAY!” signs as he catalogs all of the kinds of dogs he loves: “Yappy dogs, happy dogs / Fluffy dogs, scruffy dogs.” Finally, he arrives at his destination: a place where he can adopt a happy bundle of his own. Stainton’s couplets frolic like the energetic dogs they chronicle, filling the patterned rhyme with both predictable and unpredictable descriptions. Staake’s trademark style, a polychrome midcentury madness, here depicts purple people and plaid puppies on an ebullient municipal backdrop and echoes the outing’s delightful spirit with waggish detail and creative abandon. Individual viewers will pore over this—and storytime audiences will roar! Dog-lovers rejoice!
Kirkus Reviews October 15, 2014
A little boy travels around a bustling, big-city park observing dogs of many varieties before finally acquiring a dog of his own. The title page introduces the boy who narrates the story, showing him gazing up at a red sign that orders, "Adopt a dog today!" As the boy wanders through the huge park, he follows multiple identical signs that point the way to a canine adoption center. The short, humorous text describes a diverse canine population through descriptive rhyming pairs, such as "nosy dogs, / cozy dogs" and "naughty dogs, / haughty dogs." Stylized, computer-generated illustrations capture the antics of the happily romping canines and the eccentricities of their various owners. The main character is sometimes cleverly concealed within the illustrations of the busy park scenes, but he can always be spotted by his tuft of red hair and striped shirt. The illustrations carefully match the descriptions of the dogs, whether spotty, dotty, wrinkly or crinkly, and the bold, jazzy style perks up a story that isn't particularly original. As always, Staake depicts skin tones of just about every color, including blue, lavender and green; the protagonist has very light brown skin. Pleasing pups and a vibrant illustration style make this a cheery story for preschoolers or for children just beginning to read on their own. (Picture book. 3-7)
31
5/4/2015 15:41:38I'm brave Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
McMulan, KateBalzar and Bray201432978-0-06-220318-2$16.993Q5PRecommended
“A supremely confident fire engine races to the rescue in the latest vehicular outing from the McMullans. Jim McMullan's watercolor and gouache artwork continues the series' strict vehicular focus: no firefighters appear, and the empty warehouse on fire means no citizens are in danger. Kate McMullan's rundown of the many tools on board the truck will satisfy young gearheads and future firefighters alike… and the truck's bravado (and bravery) never waver,” Publisher’s Weekly (July 14, 2014).

Little fire fighting enthusiasts will have an interest in locating all the tools named in the story. There is extreme amount of onomatopoeia that students will delight in, and they could be encouraged to create a word wall.

Point of view should be easy to teach using the text, as the story unfolds in first person from the truck’s point of view. He’s the lone star of the show. Also, the concept of personification can be easily taught using this story, as the truck is given many human characteristics. Pair it with another story that uses personification told in the third person, to compare the two and illustrate the differences in point of view.
Booklist September 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 1)
Preschool-Grade 1. Here’s a sure-to-be-popular choice from the writer-illustrator team behind picture-book favorites such as I Stink! (2002) and I’m Dirty! (2006). Not just brave, this fire engine is bold, brash, and brassy as he toots his own horn. While he points out his impressive equipment, the contents of his toolbox, and the many things he can do, the alarm sounds. He races through city streets to join other fire trucks and deal with a burning warehouse. No people appear in the illustrations, though the truck gives firefighters a little credit for putting out a blaze, as well as caring for the equipment, washing the engine, and polishing his chrome. The focus remains on the proud fire truck, whose distinctive persona sets the tone through the lively text and well-crafted paintings. Created with watercolor and gouache, the illustrations include dramatic action scenes, as well as quieter pictures showcasing the brave (“And—GOOD LOOKIN’”) fire truck. Great fun for reading aloud.
Publishers Weekly July 14, 2014
A supremely confident fire engine races to the rescue in the latest vehicular outing from the McMullans. Jim McMullan's watercolor and gouache artwork continues the series' strict vehicular focus: no firefighters appear, and the empty warehouse on fire means no citizens are in danger. Kate McMullan's rundown of the many tools on board the truck will satisfy young gearheads and future firefighters alike ("Can you match 'em?" asks the truck, appearing next to hydrant wrenches, saws, hooks, and more), and the truck's bravado (and bravery) never waver. Ages 4-8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
32
5/4/2015 15:46:37If kids ran the world
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Dillon, LeoScholastic 201432978-0-545-44196-4$18.994Q3PRecommended
“The educational tone extends into a three-page sermon about children’s volunteerism and a discussion of Franklin Roosevelt and Second Bill of Rights. Children might enjoy the pictures, but even they will be stretched to imagine a world where No bullying would be allowed how many schools extend this promise without delivering? With so little to pin this book to the world actual children are living in, it feels like a gesture rather than a call to action. Well-meaning but saccharine and didactic,” Kirkus Reviews, (July 2015).

The book can be used to inspire students to brainstorm their own ideas of what would really happen if kids actually ran the world. No indoor schools, no baths, no bedtimes, ice cream for every meal and everyone gets an iPad. It could be a humorous exercise in honesty. Eventually, students could be directed outward to view an ideal world from the point of view of their immediate family group, or school and city.

“To be sure, the aspirations espoused by the voice of these "kids" are admirable and inspiring, and the title could be used to initiate classroom discussions about improving society. However, the tone of the narrative is somewhat didactic, and sentiments such as "No bullying would be allowed" and "Kids would love school" reveal a wistful adult rather than an enthusiastic child.” School Library Journal, (July 21, 2014).
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
The Dillons' last collaboration aims to empower children, with an ostensibly child-narrated text imagining a world free of poverty and conflict because kids are in charge. But adult voices creep in, and there's no attempt to explain how kids would achieve their admirable goals. Rich illustrations show diverse groups of cheerful children working together--volunteering in hospitals, cleaning up trash, and more.
Weekly May 26, 2014
"If kids ran the world," this warmhearted manifesto begins, "we would make it a kinder, better place." Seen against a bright white backdrop, a troupe of children in a rainbow of colors swarms through a flower garden, trimming, watering, and digging. "We'd take care of the most important things," the children say. "We know people are hungry, so all over the world, everyone would have enough to eat." They bring barrows and baskets full of delicious food to a banquet table. "Everyone would have a safe place to live.... Friendship, kindness and generosity would be worth more than money." The Dillons, in their final collaboration (Leo died in 2012), make the creation of this ideal world seem like play; there's no sanctimony, nor any sense of weary obligation. The spreads balance the lively activity of a parade with the rhythm and poise of classic tapestry. With these images of joyousness and boundless energy, the Dillons affirm and call forth the special gifts children have to give. Two brief afterwords discuss opportunities for kids to get involved and the inspiration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. All ages. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
33
5/4/2015 15:52:20It is nightPrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Rowland, PhyllisGreenwillow201432978-0-06-225024-7$16.992Q3PRecommended
“Everything and everyone finds a safe place to bed down for the night, although young children will likely not be surprised by where they all actually end up sleeping. Fresh illustrations give luminous new life to this reissue of a bedtime story originally published in 1953,” Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2014). The repetitive inquiry, where does such and such or so and so sleep, offers a simple lulling pattern to an interactive bedtime story.

The story can be paired with other bedtime tales, such as Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon, for a comparison and contrast. Students can pick out which elements make for an effective bedtime story. Repetition, and the simple question and answer format are used here to successfully maintain interest without generating too much excitement.

The reveal at the end will please small children, because they will most likely have guessed it. Children can make a connection using their own favorite bedtime companion, which they can then write down and illustrate using the same a question and answer verse. No doubt, they will want to share their creations in a sort of show and tell activity.

This copy is not very well made.
Horn Book Guide starred Fall 2014
A series of bedtime questions ("Where does a railroad train go at night?") receive answers in this book first published in 1953 with illustrations by Rowand. The lulling litany is sweetly updated in Dronzek's blanket-soft, moon-drenched art. Some unlikely groupings (tiger and giraffe) presage the satisfying conclusion in which it is shown that the creatures are dolls, toys, and pets.
Kirkus Reviews starred March 15, 2014
What could be more pleasant than a cozy circle of smiling animals on a starlit night? Beginning with the soft glow of a moonlit house and the soft buttery tone of the facing page, this charming bedtime story sways with a gentle rhythm both aural and visual. Sleepy nighttime scenes in muted tones alternate with individual, fuzzily outlined animals and toys against a background of rich, saturated acrylics. The story will delight children with its predictability, as each page turn raises and answers a question about where each toy sleeps, but the text is anything but pedantic: "Where does a railroad train go at night? / If it is going somewhere, it goes there. / And if it is not, it stands still on the tracks." Rowand's sweetly engaging story invites children to imagine the world at night, and Dronzek's expressive illustrations and effective layout work hand in hand with the text to make this a perfect book to snuggle up with for repeated readings. Everything and everyone finds a safe place to bed down for the night, although young children will likely not be surprised by where they all actually end up sleeping. Fresh illustrations give luminous new life to this reissue of a bedtime story originally published in 1953. (Picture book. 2-5)
34
5/4/2015 16:01:10
Max and the I won't go to bed show
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Sperring, MarkScholastic, Inc.201432978-0-545-70822-7$16.994Q5PHighly recommended
"Please put your hands together for...MAX THE MAGNIFICENT!" Vaudevillian hyperbole abounds as young magician Max attempts to achieve the impossible--he plans to avoid going to sleep! Star-spangled, whimsical and circus-bright…” Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2014). Daredevil stunts and fetes of prowess abound in this energetic, too lively for bedtime tome. Max must tame the family beast, make time stand still while nibbling on a snack, and ascend the stairs of doom.

Max’s mundane bedtime rituals become the fantastic fetes of a sleep-defying master of procrastination. While it takes Max forever to get settled in, the author ponders what amazing tricks Max has up his sleeve for tomorrow. Visual clues suggest acrobatic antics that students will appreciate, as they are asked to brainstorm what other illusions Max may perform. Also, for older students, there can be a discussion of voice. Is the author serious? Humorous? What’s the objective – solely to amuse, or entertain?

Pair Max the magnificent with Bruce Waber’s Ira Sleeps Over for a Bedtime extravaganza. Ask students to create a character study of Max and Ira. Compare and contrast what feelings, actions, or looks they have in common? What are their differences? How does Max express himself compared to Ira.

Students will enjoy a one on one read before bed or as a read aloud in a group setting.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
Max the Magnificent delays bedtime by turning each piece of his nighttime routine into a magic trick or circus-like spectacle. The exaggerated, amped-up language; busy, brightly colored illustrations; and the many sizes and styles of font give the book a frenetic pace. There's plenty of cleverness that will appeal to kids and adults, but it's hard to read as a linear story.
Kirkus Reviews August 1, 2014
"Please put your hands together for...MAX THE MAGNIFICENT!" Vaudevillian hyperbole abounds as young magician Max attempts to achieve the impossible--he plans to avoid going to sleep! Star-spangled, whimsical and circus-bright illustrations show the young conjurer as he performs a multitude of tricks, from making milk slowly disappear (eating his bedtime snack) and taming a savage beast (trying to get his dog to sit and stay) to pulling a rabbit from under his bed (gathering his stuffed animals up for the night). But wait, there's more! "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we strongly advise you NEVER to try this at home... / Max asks for ten--yes, TEN!--bedtime stories. / (His mom says she'll read two.)" As much fun to read as it is to listen to, this going-to-sleep book hits on all of the necessary bedtime rituals (including tooth brushing) and will provide enjoyment and satisfaction for all concerned; the spot-on ballyhoo is bound to provoke snorts and giggles, while the nicely controlled pace eventually slows to allow all young listeners to gradually hunker down for a good night's rest. A fun-filled revamp of the bedtime genre and a humorous choice for the not-quite-sleepy set. (Picture book. 3-6)
35
5/4/2015 16:04:56My grandfather's coat
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Aylesworth, JimScholastic, Inc.201432978-0-439-92545-7$17.994Q4PRecommended
“With its engaging cadence and catchy repetitions, Aylesworth's text propels the art through periods that are revealed in sewing machine styles, kitchen details, a synagogue wedding, toys, and much more. Old-timey and inviting, the book has well-paced pages, spreads, and vignettes that nicely celebrate one family's ongoing affection and continuity.” Horn Book, (November/December 2014). B

Based on an old Yiddish folk song, I had a Little Overcoat, the updated tale is tweaked to span the generations, which is evident in the pictures. As the story unfolds and the repetitive pattern emerges, it’s the pictures that moves the story along and captivates the reader along with the lulling clip of the words. Younger students can be asked to identify the pattern, as which words are repeated.

Students can exercise their powers of recall by having them name the items before the last page of the book where they’re repeated for the last time. The concept that eventually there’s nothing left but this story might be a springboard for students to retell a story from their own families that has been repeated over and over.

Students can make connections by identifying something old that they associate with their grandparents - maybe an item or trinket that has been passed on.
Booklist October 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 3)
Preschool-Grade 1. This moving immigration story begins with the narrator’s grandfather arriving in New York City and diligently working as a tailor. For his wedding day, he makes himself a long coat, which he wears all the time, “and little bit by little bit, / he frayed it and he tore it.” But all is not lost, for the resourceful tailor snips and sews and turns the fine coat into a jacket. The jacket becomes a vest, the vest becomes a tie, and the tie makes it through the years until the grandfather becomes a great-grandfather and gives his great-grandson a stuffed mouse out of the last fabric remnants. And what happens when the fabric is all gone forever? Well, it lives on in this very story. McClintock’s warm, realistic watercolor-and-ink illustrations follow the family through the years and capture lively period details that mark the passage of time. Based on a familiar Yiddish folk song and enlivened by a light tone, this tale of family, creativity, and resourcefulness is a warm, touching read-aloud.
Horn Book Magazine November/December, 2014
Revisiting the Yiddish folksong celebrated in Simms Taback's Caldecott-winning Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, Aylesworth extends its events over four generations, affording McClintock the opportunity to sample dress and households from the early twentieth century to the near-present. As title-page art reveals, "my grandfather" landed at Ellis Island; he became a tailor and made his own blue wedding coat. "He wore it, and he wore it" and, with a move to a country farm revealed in the art, "little bit by little bit, / he frayed it, and he tore it / …[so] he snipped, and he clipped, / and he stitched, and he sewed." While his daughter's a baby, that "still-good cloth" serves for a jacket. Soon it's reduced to a vest, then a tie for his daughter's wedding (and later for his granddaughter's, too), then a toy for "you" (his great-grandchild), and at last a toy mouse that -- once "you wore it out" -- is left for a real mouse to shred into a nest "until there was nothing left at all…except for this story." With its engaging cadence and catchy repetitions, Aylesworth's text propels the art through periods that are revealed in sewing machine styles, kitchen details, a synagogue wedding, toys, and much more. Old-timey and inviting, the book has well-paced pages, spreads, and vignettes that nicely celebrate one family's ongoing affection and continuity. Author's and artist's notes confide some contrasting bits of their own family histories as well as a bit more about the settings. joanna rudge long
36
5/4/2015 16:35:15Noodle Magic
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Thong, RoseanneOrchard Books201432978-0-545-52167-3$16.993Q3PRecommended
“Mei's grandfather Tu is a master noodle maker, and his noodles are not just for eating. They can be anything, from jump ropes to kite strings. When he says it's Mei's turn to make magic noodles for the emperor's birthday, she's baffled. "Magic must come from within," he tells her, Publisher’s Weekly, (September 2, 2014).

The story of Mei’s journey is told with the magical realism reminiscent of a genre of Latin stories, such as Abuelo by Arthur Dorros. They could easily be paired for a session of comparisons and contrasts.

Overwhelmed, Mei is coached by grandpa, who speaks in similes "Simple as a sunflower seed" and "Easy as a sea breeze,” and students will have fun picking them out and creating their own Similes. Mei and Grandpa Tu are watched over by the woman in the moon, who initially appears to be a benign omniscient presence. In the end, she delights in the ball of noodles and showers the pasta downward in a meteoric cacophony of celebratory shapes.

Students will be able to make connections to mentors in their own lives who’ve helped them and encouraged them in their own lives.
Kirkus Reviews October 1, 2014
In this slurp-worthy picture book, Mei loves to watch Grandpa Tu create noodles spun out of dough, magic and plenty of heart. The emperor's birthday approaches, and Mei's village buzzes with preparations. Grandpa Tu, a master noodle maker, enchants Mei with show-stopping dexterity, as he slaps, kneads and stretches plain dough into wondrous noodles. Mei asks if he can make jump ropes or kite strings from noodles. He answers with poetic wit--"Simple as a sunflower seed" and "Easy as a sea breeze"--and works through the night with abandon. When it's time for the emperor's long-life noodles, a birthday tradition, to be made, the villagers are surprised to learn Grandpa Tu isn't making them. Instead, he says it's time for Mei to learn the art of magic noodle making herself. This intergenerational relationship endears from the start, and readers will want not only a plate of noodles, but a grandpa like Tu. Thong plants a playful, repeated rhythm to describe his technique ("SLAP, knead and stretch"), which grows organically with Mei's discovery of her own talents. So's rich watercolor illustrations radiate affection between the two, especially when they stretch noodles in a cats-cradle-like fashion or across the gutter in a vigorous culinary workout. And animal-shaped noodles, in the forms of cats, roosters and a dragon, add whimsy and elegance.Playing with your food has never been quite so enticing. (Picture book. 4-8)
Library Media Connection March/April 2015
As the emperor's birthday approaches in ancient China, everyone in the village expects Grandpa Tu to produce his delicious noodles. But Grandpa Tu believes it is time for granddaughter Mei to learn the magic. Mei is both excited and terrified. With encouragement from both Grandpa Tu and the Moon Goddess, Mei finds the magic that was in her all along. Told in the manner of a Chinese folktale, this is a terrific story about a young girl finding confidence in carrying on an important cultural tradition. Meilo So's watercolor illustrations, bright and colorful, evoke both the realism of Mei's village and the magic in the art of making noodles. Have the members of your read-aloud audience keep their eyes open for the cat, the hen, birds, and dragons, and more, all made of noodles! Rich Parker, Media Specialist, Fox Chapel Elementary School, Germantown, Maryland [Editor's Note: Available in e-book format.] HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
37
5/4/2015 16:40:07
Pete the cat and the bad banana
Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Dean, JamesHarper Collins 201432978-0-06-230383-7$16.994Q5PRecommended
Despite his rock solid resolve to never eat another banana, Pete is tempted to take a nibble – and to his delight, remembers how much he’s simply bananas for bananas.

“Beginning readers will find plenty to enjoy here, from the short words, brief sentences, and large type to the bold black lines, plaintive eyes, and vivid colors that define the distinctive forward-facing characters. An engaging and ultimately amusing book from the Pete the Cat series for beginning readers,” (Booklist, May 1, 2014).

Students will easily be able to make connections to a time when they ate something bad or got sick and hated a food afterwards. Pete’s tale could serve as a writing prompt for students to share a time when the experienced something similar. Moreover, students will easily be able to grasp the theme of the story, which is – never say never. Pete’s love of bananas is eventually restored, as he can’t resist their tasty banana charms.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
Pete the Cat loves bananas until he takes a bite of a rotten one. "I will not eat bananas again." But on the day of "the big race," pickles, a hot dog, and a lemon won't cut it for breakfast, so Pete gets back on the banana bandwagon. Easy-to-digest text doesn't compensate much for the flat story line and uninspired illustrations.
No reviews available
38
5/4/2015 17:21:04Racing the waves
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Neubecker, RobertScholastic, Inc.201432978-0-545-54903-5$15.994Q3PRecommended
“In this beginning reader, Lilly and Joe go back in time to 1851 when the clipper ship The Flying Cloud set a world record for sailing from New York to San Francisco. Red, a Time Dragon who guides them through different eras, meets the pair in New York Harbor, just as the ship sets sail. They learn a little about ship navigation from Captain Creesy's wife, Eleanor, and they encounter fierce storms and various other perils on the high sea,” School Library Journal, (January 1, 2015).

This clunky tale is more expository than entertaining. The details explain an expedition halfway around the world without being too informative or very entertaining. The illustrations are childish enough to turn off older readers while the text is hefty enough to try the patience of emerging readers.

The story could be used to accompany a social studies unit on the gold rush. It presents an alternative to cross country travel by locomotive. Moreover, it could be used to kick off a scavenger hunt using an Atlas of the world. Students could do research to complete the journey through Asia, around Cape of Good Hope and back across the Atlantic to New York.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
In another accessible time-travel story (Days of the Knights), while researching clipper ships, Lily and Joe are yet again sucked into their computer, this time to the year 1851 where they join their friend Red (a time-traveling dragon) on a sea voyage. Lily and Joe learn about navigation, battling storms, and sailing. More information about clipper ships rounds out the book. Timeline. Glos.
School Library Journal January 1, 2015
Gr 1-3-In this beginning reader, Lilly and Joe go back in time to 1851 when the clipper ship The Flying Cloud set a world record for sailing from New York to San Francisco. Red, a Time Dragon who guides them through different eras, meets the pair in New York Harbor, just as the ship sets sail. They learn a little about ship navigation from Captain Creesy's wife, Eleanor, and they encounter fierce storms and various other perils on the high sea. Two shipmates have a running gag about what's on the menu for each upcoming meal; the answer is always fish. While some of the dialogue is rather stilted and the sequencing isn't always smooth, readers not quite ready for Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Treehouse" (Random) books may find this particular title interesting, especially if they are intrigued by ocean voyages. The map at the front showing the ship's path to the south around Cape Horn (not labeled), could use a few more details, such as where the Doldrums are located. Some additional back matter is included.-Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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5/4/2015 17:25:57
Riff Raff sails the high cheese
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Schade, SusanHarper201232978-0-06-230510-7$16.994Q3PRecommended
Shiver me timbers! An inane cats and mice tale that features “...rhyme-prone pirates. The merry drawings feature seafaring mice aboard a bottle-turned-ship,” Horn Book Guide, (Fall 2014). This pointless prose tells the tale of three pirate mice on the hunt for their stolen hunk of cheese. Friendly Ali the alligator sends them in the right direction, which they hope doesn’t lead to Cat Island.

Of course Cat Island is where they end up, battling for their lives and the stolen sharp cheddar chunk. In the end, some old rats help save the lives of the mice and retrieve their Roquefort.

The story is heavy on tiresome rhyming dialogue. At times, it’s confusing to figure out who’s speaking. Phonetically, it’s good practice for students learning the –at sound. But other words would be too difficult for students. Since there’s so much dialogue, the story could be read by assigning different parts to various readers and reading it out loud in a choral fashion.

Students could have fun cutting an old two-liter bottle up and assembling various trash to recreate the mouse ship, since that was the most imaginative part of the story.
No reviews available No reviews available
40
5/4/2015 17:30:16
Shark kiss, octopus hug
Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Reed, LynnBalzar and Bray201432978-0-06-220320-5$14.995Q5PHighly recommended
“Two sea creatures who do not really leap to mind as cuddly-wuddlies are starved for a little smooch and a little squeeze from the denizens of the beach. Charlie the shark and Olivia Octopus--who could have come straight from Hanna-Barbera/Nickelodeon central casting--have yearnings. Charlie wants a kiss, and Olivia wants a hug, so they study beachgoers in order to devise stratagems,” Kirkus Reviews, (April 1, 2014).

Together, the dangerously cute duo plot and scheme a way to elicit a little lovin’ from land dwellers. They conspire with a kissing booth, eating contest, and free rides to cajole bugs and kisses, but the most they manage to tease from the beachcombers are terror and hysterics.

Very young children will delight in the antics of the kiss-starved shark and hug-deprived octopus. Students can brainstorm ideas for the duo to get their hugs and kisses. Students will be momentarily amused., but there’s not much here to sustain interest.

“Cornell uses colorful illustrations and goofy expressions to give the many humans on the beach personality and buoy the floundering story line with their many activities, but ultimately this effort sinks.” School Library Journal, (June 2014).
Horn Book Guide Fall 2014
After seeing people hugging and kissing on the beach, shark Charlie wants a hug himself, and his good friend, octopus Olivia, wants a kiss. They try various goofy schemes to get their hug and kiss from beach-goers, but nothing works. As the title suggests, they finally realize they can hug and kiss each other. Cartoon-style illustrations emphasize the silliness of this lightweight tale.
Kirkus Reviews April 1, 2014
Two sea creatures who do not really leap to mind as cuddly-wuddlies are starved for a little smooch and a little squeeze from the denizens of the beach. Charlie the shark and Olivia Octopus--who could have come straight from Hanna-Barbera/Nickelodeon central casting--have yearnings. Charlie wants a kiss, and Olivia wants a hug, so they study beachgoers in order to devise stratagems. Elementary, my dear Ahab. Just set up a kissing booth, or put on a play, or offer free rides, or throw a cookout, complete with "delicious algae souffl." Kisses and hugs always follow a good time, don't they? The kids are a tad wary, though, and the parents are near hysterical. When their best designs are met with screams of horror, Charlie begins to shed a tear. Olivia moves to comfort him. A hug. A gentlemanly kiss in return. Not bad, not bad at all. Who needs those pasty landlubbers? Affection can come from the oddest and often most overlooked places. Let us just hope that Charlie never activates his urge to swallow Olivia whole when a kiss was all that was intended. Brain chemistry...what a mess it can make of things. But not here. Cornell milks the premise for all it's worth, throwing verisimilitude to the winds; a puckered-up Olivia, eyes closed, should have readers in hysterics. Pity poor Charlie when he has to buy eight wedding rings. (Picture book. 4-8)
41
5/4/2015 17:35:34
cat, the dog, little red, the exploding eggs, the wolf, and grandma
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Fox, Diane Scholastic, Inc.201432978-0-545-69481-0$16.993Q4PRecommended
According to School Library Journal, (June 1, 2014), “Children who liked Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's The Stinky Cheese Man (Viking, 1992) or The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! (Viking, 1989) will find that this fractured fairy tale is right up their alley. As Cat attempts to tell Dog the story of "Little Red Riding Hood," Dog constantly interrupts, asking questions and making comments.”

However, it’s more of “[a] meta-fictive examination of "Little Red Riding Hood." The book opens and closes with a cartoon-style dog and cat--the main characters--discussing the endpapers on the endpapers,” Kirkus Reviews, (June 1, 2014).

As a story within a story, this simple tale is an effective introduction to the concept of meta-fiction to children who are aware of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Third and fourth grade students would delight in creating their own storyboards of characters re-telling familiar folktales, such as the three little pigs or Jack and the beanstalk.

After creating a storyboard, students could then use an iPad app such as puppet pals, to create a digital storytelling mini-movie that features themselves as characters within the folktale.
Kirkus Reviews June 1, 2014
A metafictive examination of "Little Red Riding Hood." The book opens and closes with a cartoon-style dog and cat--the main characters--discussing the endpapers on the endpapers. They also appear on the title page, the cat with dripping paintbrush in paw, apparently having just finished painting the title. The story begins in earnest as the cat reads "Little Red Riding Hood" aloud to the dog, the text of the tale appearing as a printed sheet of paper, which appears along with the dog and cat against the white background. Believing Little Red to be a superhero, the dog asks what her special power is. The cat explains that Little Red has no superpowers, but the dog continues to drive the cat to distraction. Interestingly, while the grandmother hides in a closet and so avoids being eaten, Little Red's father appears and cuts off the wolf's head before Little Red is swallowed--a strange deus ex machina salvation that is not quite as violent as the original story. (It's violent enough for the dog to question the story's appropriateness for children, however.) The use of minimal color and objects in the illustrations, coupled with the sometimes-advanced humor, suits the book to older readers with prior knowledge of both fairy tales and superheroes and maturing attention spans. Unfortunately, the book is more metafiction than story, making it feel more an exercise than, well, a book. Too smart for its own good. (Picture book. 5-9)
Publishers Weekly June 2, 2014
In this story-about-a-story, the husband-and-wife Foxes (Tyson the Terrible) draw a bossy, teacher-ish cat and an irrepressible pup arguing their way through a reading of Little Red Riding Hood. "Cool! I love stories about superheroes," the pup says, imagining that Little Red Riding Hood's cape is part of a Superman-style outfit. "What's her special power?" "She doesn't have any special powers," says the cat primly. "It's not that kind of a story." But the dog is undeterred. "She's not very bright, is she?" he complains. "I mean, if there were a wolf dressed up as MY Grandma, I might have noticed right away." Simple line drawings a la Sandra Boynton give the animals adorably large snouts and tiny bodies, while lots of white space and props that come and go give the story a theatrical feel, as if the two were doing improv. There's plenty of subversive laughter, and a sly turn at the end when the cat's bloodthirsty account of the climax exposes the dog's tenderer feelings: "Are you absolutely sure this is a children's book?" he asks. Ages 4-8. Agent: Marilyn Malin Consultancy. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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5/4/2015 17:40:57troublemaker, ThePrimary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Castillo, LaurenClarion Books201432978-0-547-72991-6$16.995Q3PRecommended
“The "bored" narrator snatches his sister's stuffed bunny, blindfolds it, and ties it to the mast of his toy boat. "Off ye go, matey!" the boy says to his co-conspirator, a stuffed raccoon, as he "send[s] the prisoner out to sea." The boy's mother and sister protest, and when the bunny disappears again, they naturally blame the boy,” Publisher’s Weekly, (April 14, 2014).

The boy gets a lesson in empathy when the not so secret culprit makes off with his stuffed sidekick, Rascal. Throughout the story, readers are able to see the troublemaking bandit making mischief. The wild raccoon culprit is spotted in a tree after a sleepless night of worrying, and he’s tucked snugly into bed with bunny and Rascal.

Troublemaker could be used to teach fiction vs. nonfiction, by comparing the story to an informational text about raccoons. It can also be used to teach the concept of realistic fiction. There’s also a lesson in empathy. The boy gets to experience what he put his sister through. Students can be asked to describe what the boy might be feeling.

Also, the final page sets the reader up for a writing prompt, as the story’s resolution could be a springboard for further tales of adventure.
Booklist June 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 19)
Preschool-Grade 1. A troublemaker is hiding right on this book’s cover, but readers might not notice him: the little boy wearing a paper hat and brandishing a toy sword takes center stage. And to be honest, the boy is a bit of a troublemaker himself. With his stuffed raccoon, Rascal, as his sidekick, he steals his sister’s stuffie, a rabbit, and sends it out on the lake. The bunny comes back wet, but then it disappears again, and the boy gets the blame. Perceptive children will note it’s the real raccoon who is doing the taking. When the live animal gets his paws on Rascal, the boy learns how it feels to lose a friend. The story doesn’t have many surprises—readers know the culprit—but the slight shortcomings are more than balanced by the clever artwork that strikes just the right note. Smartly using black outlines to make her figures sturdy and interposing pages composed of silhouettes, Castillo offers something interesting on every page, either winsome or whimsical. Excellent for storytimes, too.
Horn Book Guide starred Fall 2014
The narrator kidnaps his sister's stuffed rabbit, lashes it to his toy boat, and sets it sail on the lake. The boat capsizes, and sister and mom are angry; later when the bunny disappears--again!--they understandably suspect the narrator. (Readers will see that a wild raccoon is the real culprit.) With boldly rendered spreads, the book is at once handsome and child friendly.
43
5/4/2015 17:47:38violin for Elva, A
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Ray, Mary Lyn
Houghton Harcourt Mifflin
201532978-0-15-225483-4$16.995Q4PHighly recommended
As a young girl, Elva hears violins and falls in love for the first and maybe only time in her life. But her parents get in the way of her dreams of making music. The older Elva gets, she matures into a successful busy person with important appointments, and life gets in the way of her long forgotten musical ambitions. Finally, one day she gives in to the call of the music, and she checks out records form the library.

Elva breaks down and buys a violin, and even though she’s not very good, she sets out to take lessons. In the end, at a recital surrounded by children, she puts bow to violin with earnestness. “With practice, patience, and perseverance, Elva learns to create sweet music. This charming book artfully and evocatively explores the joy that comes from following your dreams,” School Library Journal, (December 1, 2014).


Pair with Langston Hughes’s A Dream Deferred, and have students make connections. What is something they long to be good at? Will they take up the challenge and make it happen, or will they put off their dream? Students can brainstorm their dreams and goals – and decide which ones they can make happen sooner rather than later.

Then have students outline a plan. What can they do to make their dream a reality? Students can write a letter addressed to their geriatric selves of the future, holding themselves accountable to their childish dreams. Students can stick their letter in a self-addressed stamp envelope, and you can mail it to them over the summer.
Booklist November 1, 2014 (Vol. 111, No. 5)
Grades K-3. One is never too old to realize a dream. As a young child, Elva overhears violin music at a garden party, and it stirs a desire in her to make beautiful music. Her parents say no to a violin of her own, so she pretends to play, becoming the violin virtuoso she longs to be, until she grows up and her aspirations begin to dim. Her latent yearning briefly surfaces throughout her life whenever she hears music, but it isn’t until she is an old woman that she finally decides to, literally, take matters into her own hands. Older readers and adults may take away more from this ultimately joyful story than young children, but the theme is an important one for all ages: it is up to you to make your dreams come true. Charming, softly-colored watercolor-and-ink illustrations follow a dreamy Elva growing up, moving away, and keeping busy with her career. However, it is when she finally learns to make her own music that she finds total contentment. An endearing tale of an ambition fulfilled.
Kirkus Reviews November 1, 2014
A long-deferred dream of music comes true.The cover shows Elva in overalls, with a twig for a bow and a tennis racket standing in for the violin she covets. "Above the ruffle of talk and the rustle of dresses"--all the language is simple and gorgeous--"Elva heard music"; a violinist is playing at a garden party on the other side of the hedge. But when she asks her parents for a violin, they say no. So she pretends with whatever comes to hand and grows up, music always in her head. She gets a job and responsibilities and a dog, but she borrows records (vinyl LPs!--this is a period piece) from the library and remembers. Her hair gone gray, she gets that violin at last, making music with the help of a teacher. The image of her at the teacher's recital, a tall, elderly grown-up among a throng of tiny children, is unabashedly adorable. Tusa's illustrations are cheery and absolutely full of life: Readers can almost hear the music Elva does. It's a lovely story of the pursuit of a dream delayed but not abandoned, but it may be the sort of book adults give to other adults. Though putting off a dream for decades is a foreign idea to most children, they should respond to the lilt of the words and the energy and charm of the pictures. (Picture book. 6-10)
44
5/4/2015 22:19:19
granddaughter necklace, The
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Wyeth, Sharon Arthur A. Levine201432978-0-545-08125-2$16.994Q4PRecommended
“This quiet, thoughtful book will undoubtedly serve as an opening to a special conversation about family roots. It connects several generations of women through the passing down of a necklace. The narrator relates the moment when she received it from her mother, and then the story moves backward, threading linked accounts of the gifting of the necklace to the woman of each previous generation,” School Library Journal, January 1, 2015.

In a world where few students can race their ancestry back more than a generation or two, this story might serve as springboard for further investigation into children’s backgrounds. It’s also a story of an interracial family, and a merging of old and new world cultures. This is explained more in detail in the afterword. The original matriarchal ancestor is from Ireland and she marries a free Black and they raise a family together.

Pair this story with Janet Nolan’s (more successful) The St. Patrick's Day shillelagh, which is the patriarchal version – as the old shillelagh passes through the men in the family. Have students compare and contrast the stories. What makes Nolan’s story more engaging are the specific details – it’s the story of the American immigrant experience in New York City. Although Grand daughter’s Necklace is engaging, there’s something missing – like a specific setting, which is vaguely rural .

Students can find an item of importance to their own family and use it as a springboard for a personal narrative of their own families and multi-generational stories.
Booklist February 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 11)
Grades 1-3. Few of today’s children can trace their ancestry back more than a generation or two. But this inspiring first-person account of a crystal necklace handed down from granddaughter to granddaughter across four generations may spark their interest. The story begins with a contemporary girl and works backward until it reaches Frances, an Irish girl who came to America and married a farmer. The acrylic gouache illustrations are idealized yet realistic, and glow with rich colors of sunset skies and warm kitchens. Wyeth details in her author’s note how the oral tradition in her own family inspired the tale, right down to her joint African/Irish heritage. Though classified as fiction, the book is clearly a personal journey, capturing individual moments that connect a family of women over the years, enlivened with images of grace, depth, and emotion.
Horn Book Guide Fall 2013
Frances arrives in America from Ireland with a crystal necklace her mother gave her. Over many generations, it's handed down from mother to daughter for special occasions such as a birthday, performing an act of kindness, or completing a difficult task. The well-told fictional story honoring ancestry is inspired by Wyeth's family; Ibatoulline's rich gouache paintings help celebrate this history.
45
5/6/2015 21:01:39
baby elephant in the wild, A
Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
O'Connell, CaitlinHoughton Mifflin201432978=0=544-14944-1$16.994Q5PRecommended
“In text and numerous color photographs we follow a newborn female elephant through her first months in the Namibian scrub desert as she learns the behaviors that will enable her to survive. The account is straightforward and unsentimental yet filled with detailed and fascinating scientific information, including the lifelong ties among elephants that will resonate with readers' own experience of family,” Horn Book starred (Fall 2014).

The story is non-fiction read aloud for young children who want to learn more about elephants.
The text is very appealing for a 1st grader, although some of the language may be difficult. Young Liza’s story unfolds in such a way as to appeal to young readers. The information is general enough not to be intimidating, but specifically anecdotal to capture a very young scientist’s imagination.

The story can serve as a springboard for students to brainstorm facts about elephants. Also, the text can be used to teach inference. What can be inferred about elephants from the author’s words? Students can be asked to recall from the narrative how elephants communicate with one another, feed their babies, and protect young elephants from predators, such as lions. In this way, the story can be used to reinforce specific detail.

The end pages contain more specific scientific facts about elephants for students to glean information to use in their own writings, if they are prompted to write a paragraph about elephants.
Booklist March 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 13)
Grades K-3. Nicely illustrated with photographs, this book invites children to observe a family of elephants in the Namibian scrub desert over a period of months. The text and photos focus mainly on Liza, a newborn cared for by her mother, aunt, brother, cousin, and extended family members. O’Connell, the subject of The Elephant Scientist (2011), a volume in the Scientists in the Field series that she coauthored with Donna M. Jackson, discusses matters such as how elephants communicate, greet one another, feed their babies, and protect their young from lions. Printed in large type, the text is relatively short but informative. The crisply reproduced photos, taken in the field by O’Connell and her husband, Rodwell, illustrate points made about the family of elephants and their surroundings. Two appended pages provide additional facts about the African elephants’ dwindling habitat, “aquatic ancestry” and relatives, communication, teeth, and lives in captivity. A valuable addition to library collections on elephants.
Kirkus Reviews December 15, 2013
A scientist highlights elephant family values in this rare glimpse of a newborn's first season. "Family is very important to elephants," notes O'Connell (Elephant Scientist, 2011), taking advantage of a serendipitous birth in a wild herd to observe and describe how adorable little "Liza"--"Even her belly and toenails are pink"--is nurtured and protected by her mother and other family members through her first few months. Reinforcing that message, the color photos almost without exception catch Liza posing beneath, or even leaning against, obviously attentive older elephants as the herd travels across the Namibian plain to a water hole for a drink and a refreshing mud bath. The physical birth itself isn't described or shown, and the author covers the natural hazards that wild elephants face only in general terms (even the one photo showing elephants being tracked by lions has been artfully blurred). Nevertheless, her accounts of elephant growth, social behavior, and environmental and human challenges are both detailed enough to satisfy demanding young naturalists and easy for younger general readers to understand. A fetching portrait, from a researcher who has studied these animals for many years and plainly cares for them deeply. (fact page, afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)
46
5/6/2015 21:09:59
How do dinosaurs say I'm mad?
Primary (preK-K)Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Yolen, JaneBlue Sky Press201332978-0545-14315-8$16.993Q4PRecommended
What do dinosaurs do when they’re mad? Count up to ten, takes a time out and breaths calmly before undoing the damage they’ve done. In this dinosaur installation, they pout, throw tantrums, break things and demonstrate ten different types of ill behaviors before realizing the error of their ways. Colorful end papers illustrate and name all the different dinosaurs that make an appearance.

“Although no new concepts are introduced, not only will this title be a favorite at story time, it may also serve as a discussion starter about feelings and how best to express and cope with them,” Kirkus Reviews, (September 15, 2013). Either one on one, or in a group discussion setting, children can brainstorm different ideas for calming themselves down during a fit. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t really offer too many suggestions.

However, it does provide many engaging examples of dinosaurs behaving badly that children of all ages should be able to identify with and find amusing. The comical and identifiable situations should be easily relatable for most kids and it should be relatively easy for them to make connections. But ultimately, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2014
In the latest iteration of the series, yelling, stomping, door-slamming dinosaurs express their anger while the human parents offer peaceful suggestions of time-outs, deep breaths, and gentle hugs. As always, the bouncy rhymes succinctly epitomize a child's emotions, and Teague exaggerates the tantrum-throwing dinosaurs just right. However, this might be a bit too reminiscent of the original How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?.
Kirkus Reviews September 15, 2013
Yolen and Teague continue their best-selling series with a comic look at what dinosaurs might and then should do when they are angry. Whether a Barapasaurus sticks his sizable tongue out or a Scaphognathus pouts or a Sauropelta throws things, tantrums and bad behavior come to an end through counting to 10 or having a timeout or breathing calmly. Messes are then cleaned up, apologies are given, and hugs are exchanged. The preschool set will recognize the full spectrum of antics that result from pent-up anger and the occasions that provoke such stormy emotions. The text follows the familiar series format, posing questions to readers: "When he's told to sit still, does he kick at a chair? / Does he act as if Mother and Father aren't there?" This invitation to participate will have readers offering their own opinions on appropriate behavior. On full-bleed, double-page spreads, Teague delivers oversized creatures whose sizes and silly expressions make their actions appear all the more outrageous. Although no new concepts are introduced, not only will this title be a favorite at storytime, it may also serve as a discussion starter about feelings and how best to express and cope with them. (Picture book. 2-5)
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5/11/2015 19:32:11
Scholastic 2015 Almanac for Kids
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldBrunelle, LynnScholastic2014352978-0-545-67949-713.994Q4PRecommended
This book provides short snippets about a variety of short factual information. Topics include animals, books, crime, countries and states, inventions, military, movies, religion, technology, sports, and history. Most of the information is given in very short paragraphs, bullet-ed points, graphs, charts, colored photos or other visual aids. The information provided is current and relevant to most students. There is even a short section called “Homework helpers” that provides students with brief information about parts of speech, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and research skills. A Table of Contents and an Index will help students find just what they are4 looking for.
This almanac for kids will be popular among upper elementary students who like fact books such as world records. These books are in constant demand and students seem to like reading the short snippets of information and looking at the photos of the wide variety of topics. Because the sections for each record are very short, reluctant readers may also be willing to tackle this nonfiction book because it can be read in small sections while not losing the meaning of what is written. Students can also only read the sections that interest them the most or by reading all the sections, this book could spark an interest in a new topic for further reading. Teachers may want to use this book as an introduction to nonfiction text features, showing students how to combine text, photos, and other features such as graphs, charts and tables to present the same information. Students could use this book’s format as a model to create a visual display of information they learned about on almost any topic or subject studied. This reference book can be combined with other nonfiction texts to assist students with Common Core standards such as RI.4.9 and RI.5.9 “Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably”.
No review found for this year's Scholastic Almanac for kids, but the one below is for 2013:
School Library Journal December 1, 2012
Gr 4-7-American Idol. The periodic table of elements. The major religions of the world. Only an almanac bold, brassy, and entertaining enough can make all these elements work together. Fortunately, Scholastic's tried-and-true formula of in-your-face photos and graphics, addictive lists, and on-trend talking points make this book a "want to read" for middle schoolers. It all starts with a catchy cover that's splashed with images of Angry Birds, Justin Bieber, and extreme skateboarders, all of which will draw in students eager to see what's inside. And the inside doesn't disappoint. With full-color illustrations (many of them stock photos) and easily scannable lists, sidebars, and pull-outs, readers (even reluctant ones) will be encouraged to spend time on what they're interested in and to skim the rest. The alphabetical organization (and user-friendly index) makes the material easy to access, but also unfortunately means that topics such as technology and U.S. government follow sports, and movies/TV/music comes before plants and population. While the information is well-researched, consider this volume a meatier companion to the standbys with massive followings, Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Believe It or Not.-Sharon Verbeten, All Write Creative Services, De Pere, WI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
no second review found
48
5/11/2015 20:00:01
Close encounters of the nerd kind
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldMiller, JeffHarper2015260 978-0-06-227265-216.993Q4PRecommended
Neil is a typical gaming/nerd. He loves video games and is super smart. He and 11 other gaming “nerds” recently came back from their first military mission to save the planet and are now heading towards their next one. Over the past several months, they were supposed to play a NASA created space game, but Neil never quite got around to it. This creates a problem for him because NASA needs him and the others to rescue a stolen spacecraft and prevent an asteroid from destroying the Earth. The space game was meant to prepare Neil to fly NASA’s spacecraft and now he has to “wing” it. He needs his crew to support him, but they don’t really trust him since he lied about how much time he spent playing the video space game. Eventually his crew comes around and they are able to not only find the stolen spacecraft, but they find 2 missing astronauts and they save the world. At the end, Neil earns a medal that reads “Astronaut Neil Andertol”. All the while, his family is oblivious to his missions and his short time away saving the world.
This is a fun adventure/sci-fi book that will be enjoyed by readers who love gaming, sci-fi stories, or are fans of books like Michael Buckley's NERDS series, 39 Clues and Ender’s Game. The main characters are quirky and likeable, even when what they are asked to do and actually do is very unbelievable. Since this is the second book in the Nerdy Dozen series, anyone who read the first one and enjoyed it, will want to continue the saga. However, for those that did not read the first book, this one may be a little more difficult to jump into. This story can lead to some interesting discussions on problem solving, the importance of honesty, and working together for a common goal. Teachers can also use this story to work on Common Core standard RL.4.3 “Describe in depth a character, setting or event in a story, drawing on specific details in the text.” And Common Core standard RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story from details in the text, including how characters in a story respond to challenges.” This book would be a good choice for a small book club of students who are interested in video gaming or space action stories.
School Library Journal December 1, 2014
Gr 5-8-A top-secret spacecraft, the Newt, has been stolen. With the help of the nerdy dozen, Neil "Astronaut" Andertol, are recruited from NASA to bring it safely back home to planet Earth. Before using their video gaming skills to smoothly navigate the Fossill, a spacecraft, they must pass a few basic training obstacles, including boarding the Vomit Comet. Andertol is chosen to lead the NASA nerdy dozen crew, along with a chimpanzee in a jumpsuit named Boris. While flying into space with little training in a spaceship full of space bananas, Andertol and his crew face several stumbling blocks, such as running away from a monstrous Polar Bear on a Yeti Bobsled inflatable raft and meeting a scientist's kid trapped in a space-bubble-community. Time speeds up as they learn Q-94, the world's most dangerous asteroid, is headed toward Earth. Neil is a born space explorer, and astronomy fans will surely enjoy the story. The short time span of the novel does stretch plausibility. However, there is a great assortment of characters with varying degrees of weirdness, gaming abilities, astronomical jargon, silliness, and, most importantly, a clear mission. The characters are quite interesting and well developed. Middle school students who enjoyed Michael Buckley's "NERDS" series (Amulet) and Dan Gutman's "Genius Files" (Harper) will most likely get a kick out of these books. Reluctant readers who are into online gaming and astronomy will find this an easy action/adventure read.-Krista Welz, North Bergen High School, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Reviews December 15, 2014
Recovering a stolen NASA spacecraft turns out to be only the beginning for Neil and his crew of gonzo video gamers.Having carelessly lost both the Golden Gecko, which carried an expedition to Mars, and now the sleek new Newt, NASA has only the Fossil left in more or less flyable condition. Unfortunately, that prototype was designed for a chimpanzee crew and so is too small for full-sized astronauts. Fortunately, the teen geeks introduced in series opener The Nerdy Dozen (2014) are not only the right size, but eager to get their hands on yet more secret government high tech. (The revelation that Earth is just days away from being destroyed by a large asteroid raises the stakes somewhat.) And so the stage is set for Neil and Co. to go careening through clouds of space junk to a secret orbiting settlement, then on to Mars and back for a dramatic double rescue. Credible astrophysics never even approach Miller's bucket list, and his blithe assumption that the cast will already be familiar to readers may cause a bit of floundering. Still, along with copious compensatory banter and silly antics, the author folds in opportunities aplenty for Neil to demonstrate leadership qualities--ranging from befriending a hostile chimp by teaching him a better way to peel a banana to single-handedly saving a planet. Space farce, to infinity and...well...if not beyond, then to Mars at least. (Science fiction. 10-12)
49
5/14/2015 21:57:43Our solar system
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Todd Erickson
toerickson@novischools.net
Orchard Hills Elementary
Novi Community School District
Simon, SeymourHarper201432978-0-06-233379-7$17.994Q4PRecommended
Beginning with the Sun, Simon describes our solar system in detail using comparisons that young readers can readily grasp. The 5 billion year old solar system is given a fresh updating from previous versions, with clear and captivating spacecraft photographs captured from their most recent excursions into space. The sun, the eight planets and their moons, asteroids, meteoroids, comets and dwarf planets are given in depth descriptions updated with the latest findings.

There is an author’s note, and such non-fiction text features as a mini-glossary and a short index. The glossary is seriously lacking, as it is only about a third of a page long; however, it is barely sufficient enough to be used as a quick reference by young students.

This broad overview of the solar system can be used to supplement any science lesson on the subject. It provides just enough information to serve as an introduction to wet students appetites for further study. The information regarding asteroids and comets is brief, but informative. Students will want to know more will need to read more elsewhere.
Horn Book Guide starred Spring 2015
The culmination of Simon's planets series is a fine, comprehensive work on the solar system. Similar to the others in format, the book brings together information on all the planets, a good comparison chart, and typically excellent color photographs. Beautifully designed and a pleasure to use, this latest edition is updated with information from recent explorations. Websites. Glos., ind.
School Library Journal October 1, 2014
Gr 3-6-Revised and updated, this edition takes readers on a journey through the solar system with upgraded photos, content, and glossary from its predecessors (1992, 2007). While much of the content remains the same as the previous edition, small details have been adjusted, such as Jupiter's clouds, which are no longer "mostly hydrogen gas, not water droplets like clouds on Earth" but are now simply "frozen ammonia droplets." Although these details may be nearly imperceptible to young readers, what will stand out are the captivating photographs. The images, many of which are from NASA, are remarkably crisp and more detailed than before, giving a nod to changes in imaging technology in the past decade. As stated in the author's note, Simon uses comparisons to help readers comprehend the scale of these celestial masses ("If Earth were the size of a basketball, the sun would be as big as a basketball court."). He does not return the favor for specific calculations, though, thus leaving readers to grapple with the meaning of "the crust, which ranges from 5 to 30 miles deep" and "the mantle, an 1,800-mile-thick layer of heavy rock." Furthermore, some words do not appear in the glossary, such as typhoon and asteroid, and the unexplained transition from "800 degrees Fahrenheit" to "-300°F" may confuse some readers. However, the brief overview of the solar system and the spacecraft sent to explore it make this title a worthwhile consideration for school and public libraries.-Meaghan Darling, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
50
5/16/2015 10:42:39
Countdown (Unstoppable book 3)
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldStandiford, NatalieScholastic2014190978-0-545-52145-112.994Q3PRecommended
This is the 3rd book in the Unstoppable series from 39 Clues. Amy, her brother Dan and their team continue on their mission to prevent world domination by the evil J. Rutherford Pierce. In this story, they are searching for further ingredients in order to create an antidote for the “power” serum that was created by the Cahill family. In order to save her brother, Amy decides to take the serum, which gives her amazing powers, but it comes with a price. She will die in one week without the antidote. This causes the team to come together again to try and get the all the needed ingredients. They are constantly being chased and by Pierce’s thugs and unfortunately at the end of this book, it appears on member has died and Dan is captured.
This book really must be read after the first 2 books in this subseries and even after the entire first set of 39 Clues books. The storyline is too connected to previous books to be read as a stand-alone and truly understand it. Fans of this series will continue to want to read this book and future books in order to find out what happens next. Each book leaves readers with an ending that leads right into the next book. Readers who like a lot of action, suspense, and danger will enjoy reading this series, but it is not for all students (thus the 3P rating). Teachers can use these books to encourage the study and discussion of places around the world, as well as famous artifacts and attractions. All of the clues discovered by the main characters can be used for discussions centering on Common Core standard RL.4.2 “Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.” Because this book is part of a series with the same main characters, it can also be used for Common Core standard RL.3.9 “Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters.”
Horn Book Guide Fall 2014
Cahill siblings Amy and Dan continue their dangerous mission to stop evil media mogul Pierce from world domination in the spinoff series' second and third books. Relationships are tested and loyalties questioned when Amy takes matters into her own hands in Breakaway and makes a rash decision in Countdown. Plot development feels a little sluggish, but action-heavy moments raise the stakes. [Review covers these 39 Clues: Unstoppable titles: Breakaway and Countdown.]
Booklist July 2014 (Online)
Grades 4-6. The 39 Clues brand churns forward with this third volume in the Unstoppable series. With J. Rutherford Pierce getting closer to a presidential bid (and then world destruction, natch), siblings Dan and Amy Cahill continue their mission to create a serum to strip him of his powers, this time heading to Guatemala for the next ingredient, “riven crystal,” which looks to be hidden somewhere in the Mayan ruins of Tika. Standiford, the series’ latest helmer, tamps down the snark—a welcome change—as things get serious upon Amy’s deadly ingestion of the serum. But there’s only so much Standiford can do with the usual grind of black-suited bad guys and loud, action-packed set pieces (runaway choppers, zip lines, etc.). Still, fans will be fans, and, as always, the book comes with collectible cards and links to an online game.
51
5/16/2015 15:31:19Wild Book
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldEngle, Margarita
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2012121978-0-547-58131-616.994Q3PRecommended
This story is about a ten-year-old girl named Fefa who struggles with dyslexia, called “word blindness” by the doctor. She lives on a farm with her 10 brothers and sisters, none of whom seem to understand her or her disability. Her mother, however, believes in her, despite the doctor’s diagnosis. She gives her a blank diary and encourages her to persevere. Fefa’s life is difficult and sometimes dangerous in early 20th century Cuba. There is unrest in the country and bandits often kidnap children, unless the parents pay a ransom. Fefe’s diary or “wild Book” captures her life, struggles and eventual triumph to overcome her disability.
This historical fiction novel in verse may be a difficult sell to students to read on their own, partly because of the limited appeal of the topic and partly because of the poetry format. However, the story, which focuses on overcoming a difficulty is very relatable to many students, especially those with learning disabilities. This would make a great read-out-loud for teachers because students would enjoy hearing the beauty and rhythm of the poems and the perseverance of the main character. Teachers could use this book as a spring board to having their students write their own poetry, perhaps even in a journal format. Wonderful classroom discussions can take place about respecting people with differences and the rewards of hard work and perseverance. This book can be used to guide students in Common Core standard RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic.” And RL.6.2 “Determine a theme or central ideas of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgements.”
Kirkus Reviews starred February 1, 2012
A young girl tackles a learning disability and the uncertainty of daily life in early-20th-century Cuba. Ten years old at the tale's opening, Josefa "Fefa" de la Caridad Ura Pea lives with her parents and 10 siblings on their farm, Goatzacoalco. Diagnosed with "word blindness" (a misnomer for dyslexia), Fefa struggles at school and in a home rich with words, including the writings of Nicaraguan poet Rubn Daro. Discounting a doctor's opinion that "Fefa will never be able / to read, or write, / or be happy / in school," her mother gives her a blank diary: "Let the words sprout / like seedlings, / then relax and watch / as your wild diary / grows." "Let the words sprout / like seedlings, / then relax and watch / as your wild diary / grows." Basing her tale on the life of her maternal grandmother, Engle captures the frustrations, setbacks and triumphs of Fefa's language development in this often lyrical free-verse novel. Her reading difficulties are heightened when bandits begin roving the countryside, kidnapping local children for ransom: "All I can think of / is learning how / to read / terrifying / ransom notes." The author gives readers a portrait of a tumultuous period in Cuban history and skillfully integrates island flora, fauna and mythology into Fefa's first-person tale. This canvas heightens Fefa's determination to rise above the expectations of her siblings, peers and society. A beautiful tale of perseverance. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)
School Library Journal March 1, 2012
Gr 5-9-This novel in verse is about a girl growing up with dyslexia in early 20th-century Cuba. Family love and the chaos that comes with large families are mixed with historical tidbits about Cuba after its wars for independence from Spain. Engle uses words sparingly and with grace: ".I love the way poetry/turns ordinary words/into winged things/that rise up/and soar!" In other poems, the protagonist's voice (based on Engle's grandmother) speaks of the struggles of learning to read and write with "word blindness," a term used to describe learning disabilities a century ago. While Fefa's great sadness over her inability to read is the primary focus, Engle includes rich cultural details and peeks into a time in which bandits roamed the countryside and children were often captured and held for ransom. Throughout all the drama, poetry is an integral part of daily life, in the play of children and the entertainment of adults, solace to Fefa in her struggle, and even as a means of expression by a kidnapper-poet. The idea of a wild book on which to let her words sprout is one that should speak to those with reading difficulties and to aspiring poets as well.-Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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5/16/2015 15:59:31
Amelia Bedelia Shapes Up
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldParish, Herman
Harper Collins (Greenwillow books)
2014145978-0-06-233397-115.993Q4PRecommended
This is the 5th chapter book about the childhood of Amelia Bedelia. Amelia has really never felt the need to be good at sports, but that changes when her school begins a “Greek Games” competition. Amelia agrees to try golf, yoga, running, jumping, throwing and catching in order to find a sport she can be good at doing. Mixed in with all of her hard work at learning sports, Amelia continues to mix up the meaning of words and common phrases. She usually takes everything literally and that causes for a lot of fun and silliness. Despite all of her clumsiness and silliness, Amelia manages to come in 2nd place in several events. Her hard work and good sportsmanship helps her to win an award at her school’s Greek games.
This story will be popular among kindergarten through 3rd grade students who have enjoyed reading or hearing other books about Amelia Bedelia. Lower-elementary students tend to like the silliness involved in Amelia’s confusion over words and their double meanings. The stories in the Amelia Bedlia childhood series really do not have to be read in order to understand what is happening. Unfortunately, many boys may be turned off because the cover looks “girlie. This book would be a good choice for a girl’s book club and they could do several books in this series. Since this book is a part of a series, third grade teachers could use it for discussions centering around Common Core standard RL.3.9 “Compare and contrast the themes, setting, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar character”. Teachers can also use this book to discuss the real meanings behind common expressions such as “It is time to hit the sack” or “couch potato”. The back of the book contains a “Two Ways to Say It” section and it would be fun for students to research expressions and idioms and write about what they really mean. They can even draw pictures showing the literal meaning of the words. Even with all the silliness in this story, there is a great lesson about trying one’s best and working hard to learn something new.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
Amelia turns her attention to sports as she prepares for the school Greek Games in this fifth chapter book about the young Amelia Bedelia. Parish uses every opportunity to play with language, so plot and character development are slight, but the silly wordplay and Amelia's literal interpretations will be familiar to fans of the picture books and easy readers. Lively black-and-white illustrations break up the text. An inexpensive paper-over-board edition is also available.
From the Publisher:
In the fifth book in the New York Times‒best-selling chapter book series about the childhood of America's favorite housekeeper, Amelia Bedelia takes to the field, the yoga mat, and the track, with hilarious results. Includes a guide to the idioms used in the book and features black-and-white art throughout. The Amelia Bedelia books have sold more than 35 million copies.
Amelia Bedelia's friends and classmates all have a particular sport that they love and are good at. Amelia Bedelia loves sports and games of all kinds, for different reasons. She has fun (and she loves to dribble and dunk and run home), but she is not the fastest or strongest or quickest at anything. Amelia Bedelia would love to have a sport to call her own—and so when her class at school studies the sports of ancient Greece, she goes on a mission to find one! With Amelia Bedelia, anything can happen—and it usually does. Short, fast-paced chapters, tons of friends and funny situations, and black-and-white illustrations by Lynne Avril on every page make the Amelia Bedelia chapter books an ideal choice for readers of the Ivy + Bean, Magic Tree House, and Judy Moody books.
53
5/16/2015 16:29:44Honest Truth
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldGemeinhart, DanScholastic2015229978-0-545-66573-516.994Q4PRecommended
Twelve-year-old Mark is believes he is dying from cancer. His life-long dream is to climb Mt. Rainer before he dies. He knows that the only way he can do so is to run away from home with his faithful dog, Beau. Mark’s best friend Jessie, knows what is going on and she is tormented between keeping his secret and telling his parents. Mark encounters quite a few difficulties along the way including nausea and headaches from his illness, a robbery, and a terrible snowstorm. All of these set-backs along with his strong determination makes this adventure trip very suspenseful. At the end, he is rescued because of his faithful dog and he asks Jessie to write down his story. It seems like he now wants to live and may even be willing to fight through his continuing bout with cancer.
This is an adventure book told in alternating voice between Mark and his friend Jessie. The story is very serious in tone because of Mark’s cancer and all of the difficulties he faces on his trip. It would make for a great teacher read-out-loud or for a small group book club because of the themes in the story and the richness of discussions that could take place. Along the way, Mark writes haiku poems about his experiences. This offers a great opportunity for teachers to introduce a unit on writing poetry especially as a means to convey one’s feelings and emotions. Since the story is told from alternating points of view, it would make for a good discussion on Common Core standard RL.5.6 “Describe how a narrator’s point of view influences how events are described.” For middle school teachers, this book, and especially the inclusion of poetry, could be used for Common Core standard RL.6.5 “Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.”
School Library Journal November 1, 2014
Gr 5-8-Twelve-year-old Mark wants to climb a mountain before his imminent death from cancer, so he runs away to Mt. Rainier with only his faithful dog, Beau, to accompany him. In alternating chapters, Mark's best friend Jessie, at home, narrates her moral dilemma: should she honor his last request or reveal his location to the worried adults who would deny him his wish? As each event befalls Mark along his journey, Beau increasingly proves himself, while Jessie vacillates. Gemeinhart, a first-time author, keeps the pace with short, active chapters leading to a satisfying, if somewhat predictable, ending. Descriptions of place and character are good, the Northwest Washington setting palpable, and Mark's continuous descriptions of headaches and nausea, if a bit repetitive, can be chalked up to realism. The actions of the adult characters along the way are slightly less believable but suspension of disbelief is possible with such a compelling premise and Mark's ringing sense of confidence. Recommended for general purchase and for classroom structured reading. This will be especially interesting to capable but reluctant readers, particularly dog lovers.-Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted
Kirkus Reviews November 1, 2014
With only his faithful dog, Beau, for company, Mark, a boy with recurrent cancer, runs away from home to fulfil his dream of climbing Mount Rainier. Told in alternating first-person voices, Gemeinhart's heart-rending yet suspenseful novel tells the equally gripping stories of the boy who went to the mountain and the girl who stayed behind. In certain respects, the story of Mark's best friend, Jessie, who spends the novel waiting, hoping and worrying, is the more morally complex of the two. Even though he's only 12, Mark makes a personal decision that affects others but in the end is his choice. But Jessie is the keeper of the secret, a task that becomes harder and harder as Mark's parents become increasingly frantic and a dangerous snowstorm approaches. Mark, who is plagued by headaches and nausea, must use every ounce of his courage and smarts to persevere. Along the way, he's helped and hindered by various characters; the most poignant is a biologist who lost his son in Iraq, and the most fabulous is a dog loyal enough to give lessons to Lassie. An overexplanatory conclusion mars the story, though it's still undeniably moving. Writing with care to keep from too-explicit detail, Gemeinhart presents a rousingly riveting two-hanky read. (Fiction. 9-13)
54
5/16/2015 16:58:53Skateboard Party
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldEnglish, Karen
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014115978-0-544-28306-014.994Q4PRecommended
My Review:
This book (part of the Carver Chronicles series) features third grader, Richard and his issues with responsibility and distractibility. His troubles begin when he does not complete his portion of an assignment on the rainforest. His teacher gives him a note to get signed by his parents, but he conveniently keeps “forgetting” to get it signed. His lack of responsibility eventually catches up with him and when it does, he faces multiple consequences both at school and at home. He thinks all of his fun times are over, but by the end of the story, he begins to pull himself together and learns a big life lesson. He even gets to show off his skate boarding skills at his friend’s birthday party.
This is a good school story in which readers will be able to relate to Richard’s issues of not “putting first things first”. Fans of the Nikki & Deja series or the Ellray Jakes series will enjoy this series about Richard. Teachers can use this story to prompt life lesson discussions on how to complete assignments on time, how to be responsible and how to stay focused on what is most important. Richard’s class does journal writing and this story can be used as a spring board for a variety of journal writing topics that can be done by students who read this book. Even though the title and cover make this story seem like it is mostly about skateboarding, readers do not have to be skateboarding fans to enjoy or relate to this story. Because Richard’s actions lead to some drastic consequences, this story would be excellent for discussions on Common Core standard RL.3.3 “Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events”.
Kirkus Reviews October 15, 2014
Richard dreams of landing the perfect flat-ground Ollie, but before he can attempt the daring skateboard feat, he must recover from an earlier trick that he played on his parents by concealing a teacher's note informing his parents of lackluster effort. Ms. Shelby-Ortiz knows that Richard can do better, but Richard just doesn't want to think about it, so he leaves her note buried in his backpack. Eventually, of course, the truth comes out, and there are consequences, chief among them missing the birthday party where he plans to show off his trick. English's longtime collaborator Freeman (the companion Nikki & Deja series) contributes illustrations throughout, often representing critical moments in the story. One memorably depicts Richard struggling with the spelling of q-u-o-t-i-e-n-t in a crucial spelling test in which perfection stands between him and the skate park. While it's clear from the illustrations that Richard and his family are African-American, the text is largely free of cultural signifiers. The story reads much more like an all-American tale of a growing family amid middle-class suburban life than it does of a black middle-class family raising four black boys in the suburbs--an approach that broadens the spectrum of books aimed at young urban boys of color. Readers won't find clear racial depictions, but they'll still giggle at the familial mischief. A welcome series addition that emphasizes familiarity instead of difference and treats its message with an affectionately light hand. (Fiction. 6-10)
Horn Book Magazine November/December, 2014
Richard (best friend of protagonist Gavin in Dog Days, rev. 1/14) just can't seem to get out of his own way. He knows that his report on howler monkeys was due last Friday, but he hoped his fake-sick-day absence from school would throw Ms. Shelby-Ortiz off her game. No such luck, and after blowing off his assignment -- again -- he finds himself staying in for recess. Skateboarder Richard spends so much time mastering a flat-ground Ollie that other things fall by the wayside; avoidance and procrastination prevent him from doing as well as his teacher and family expect, and it can be frustrating for the reader to watch him spend more time on avoiding tasks than simply getting them done. However, Richard is a good-natured guy, and readers will cheer when he finally tackles the report. Richard's parents are exasperated but supportive and unwavering in their expectations for their son. His teacher is a good balance of no-nonsense and cheerleader for a boy who wants to slide along doing the bare minimum. Best buddy Gavin encourages Richard without compromising his own high academic standards. Lots of kids will recognize themselves in this book (including the occasional black-and-white illustrations), and teachers and librarians will be happy to have a series to recommend that stars a realistic, likable boy of color. robin l. smith
55
5/26/2015 12:21:32
What Waits in the Woods
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Karen Becknell
bookwoman@mi.rr.com
RetiredScott, Kieran
New York: Point; an imprint of Scholastic
2015273p978-0-54569111-6 184Q4PRecommended
Scott has created page-turner murder-mystery with a psychological twist. A group of typical teens are on a 4-day hiking trip in the woods. Callie, the new girl is only along because she wants to bond with her new friends, Lissa and Penelope. She is not the outdoorsy type, but has managed to bring her boyfriend, Jeremy, along for support. The characters are almost cliché-perfect: Lissa, the self-assured bossy leader; Penelope, quiet, shy, unsure, who sticks to Lissa like a bug to flypaper, and Jeremy, the perfect, hot, handsome guy.

Things don’t go particularly well, Jeremy and Lissa are often at each other’s throats, and Lissa’s bossiness gets them lost the second day. In addition, Jeremy and Penelope and their backpacks end up in a river, resulting in the loss of food, and electronic equipment which means they are cut-off from the rest of the world.

Due to the effect of scary stories told around the campfire the first night, Callie experiences instances when she is sure they are being stalked. The sudden appearance of a stranger, who says he is a park ranger’s son, makes everyone uneasy, and the tension of being lost, lack of food causes the teens to turn against each other.

The addition of “Recovery Journal” entrees, written by the killer (in therapy once apprehended placed throughout the book increases the suspense. The ending will catch most readers off-guard. This fast-paced, mildly romantic thriller will be popular with teens. It is also in softcover, so you may want to invest in more than one copy.
BookList:
Grades 8-11 Callie Velasquez is a recent transplant to upstate New York from Chicago who reluctantly agrees to go on a four-day camping trip with two of her new friends. The only thing making the trip bearable for the decidedly not-outdoorsy Callie is her boyfriend, who comes along. After a terrifying accident, the teens become lost inthewoods, where they quickly begin to turn on each other. A handsome older camper, Ted, crosses their path and offers to lead them to his cabin, but can he be trusted? A series of macabre discoveries, including bloodied dolls and twisted stick figures, plus the echoing maniacal laughter of an unknown stalker keep the terrified campers on edge. Scott alternates between Callie’s viewpoint, her fear and desperation to leave thewoods growing with every moment, and diary entries recounting the events from the perspective of an unknown mental patient. With the taut pacing of a horror movie, plenty of gruesome twists, an angsty romantic triangle, and a deeply creepy ending, this one is sure to satisfy teens. -- Szwarek, Magan (Reviewed 03-01-2015) (Booklist, vol 111, number 13, p60)
School Library Journal:
Gr 7 Up — Callie is the new girl, so when her new friends invite her on a camping and hiking trip, she can't say no, even though she has never been camping. The trip starts out fine, although a few spooky stories and her lack of outdoor experience have Callie on edge. Things begin to go south when the group gets hopelessly lost and it becomes obvious that there is someone following them. When the group meets a solo hiker who claims to know how to get to a trail and a cabin, they agree to follow him. Yet things continue downhill as their food dwindles, their trust of one another and their mysterious guide wears thin, and whatever is stalking them is closing in and threatening their lives. Most chapters end on a cliff-hanger, and entries from the stalker's "Recovery Journal" are interspersed throughout, so readers know that there is a killer but don't know the identity. Scott builds constant tension, and the novel's events unfold like a horror movie. There is some violence and a high body count, so this title is not for the faint of heart. This is a fast-paced thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats.—Ellen Norton, White Oak Library District, Crest Hill, IL --Ellen Norton (Reviewed January 1, 2015) (School Library Journal, vol 61, issue 1, p100)
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5/27/2015 13:52:12Codename Zero
Middle School (grades 6-8)
Stephanie Wilson
stephanie.wilson@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville Middle School
ClarencevilleRylander, ChrisHarper2014352978-0-06-212008-3$16.994Q4PHighly recommended
Bored seventh grade prankster Carson Fender sets loose a herd of fainting goats at school. The fainting goats provide the perfect cover for the actual prank happening inside the school building. While Carson watches the mayhem unfold, a man runs up to him and hands him a package. He cryptically tells Carson to give the package to Mr. Jensen and to not open it. Carson accepts the package and unknowingly sets in motion events he never imagined were even possible. He soon finds himself sucked into world carefully hidden from the average citizen in his small North Dakotan town.
Codename Zero borrows heavily from both the James Bond and Mission Impossible genres. Carson joins The Agency as a junior agent. The senior agents outfit Carson with all kinds of incredible and fantastic gadgets. No spy story would be complete without secret messages that self-destruct and Codename Zero hilariously complies. Carson’s natural curiosity coupled with his inability to confess his secret to his friends sets him up for a difficult balancing act. He wants to know everything about his mission and co-agents. Unfortunately, the more he knows, the less he is able to share with his closest friends.
Codename Zero deftly handles both the storyline and the characters with seriousness and a sense of humor. Author Chris Rylander knows what male young teen readers want to read and he delivers. Fans of his Fourth Stall series will love Codename Zero. Carson talks and acts like a typical middle school boy. Readers will identify with Carson and his struggles. His characters are strong and well-developed. Even though most of the main characters are male, female readers will find the novel appealing. The novel is best suited for entertainment reading and not for serious in- class study.
The plot and the snappy writing propel the reader through the pages. The story never sags even though it may stretch the bounds of credibility. Parents will appreciate the novel’s storytelling and age appropriate humor. The language never strays into inappropriate territory. There is violence inherent in the spy story genre but Codename Zero keeps the violence squarely on the level of the average cartoon. Rylander maintains the excitement of the novel but uses humor to modify the serious tone of the plot.
School Library Journal:
Gr 6 – 8 — Carson is a perpetually bored seventh grader who satisfies his craving for action by orchestrating increasingly elaborate pranks at school. One day, he is handed a mysterious package and told he must deliver it—but not open it under any circumstances!—and suddenly life becomes anything but boring. The package is connected to a top-secret government agency, which recruits Carson to protect one of his classmates and foil the plans of a terrorist organization. Excitement builds as Carson—codename Zero—and his quirky friends put together the puzzle as only a team of plucky, imaginative kids can. Carson and his friends are funny and likable, and the pacing of the story is just right. The action steadily builds to a climax that satisfies, yet also whets the appetite for a sequel. Good for reluctant readers, and for any kid who likes tales of action, mischief, and friendship.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA --Emma Burkhart (Reviewed April 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 4, p153)
Kirkus:
Desperate to spice up life in his small, North Dakota town, seventh-grader Carson Fender has secured his position as Erik Hill Middle School's number-one prankster. But shortly after Carson orchestrates the release of a herd of fainting goats on school grounds, life in Minot gets a whole lot more interesting…and it doesn't have anything to do with the goats. When a strange man unloads a mysterious package on Carson and informs him that "the fate of the world depends" on him delivering it to a Mr. Jensen, it becomes clear that there's more going on in this small town than he ever imagined, and Carson is now at the heart of it all. With its high-stakes secret missions, gadgets and underground government agencies, readers in search of a solid middle-grade spy novel will find plenty to enjoy here. Carson is a funny and engaging protagonist, and readers will relate to both his longing for a more interesting life and his angst once he finds it. Though Carson has an intriguing cast of close friends, including a deliciously unapologetic, conspiracy-theorist best friend, one of the novel's greatest shortcomings is that they don't play a larger role in the story. Still, this is an exciting, zippy read that will leave readers wondering if there's more to their own hometowns than meets the eye. (Thriller. 9-12)(Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2013)
57
6/3/2015 9:27:46Revolution 19
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Stephanie Wilson
stephanie.wilson@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville Middle School
Clarenceville SchoolsRosenblum, GreggHarper2012265978-0-06-21595-8$17.994Q4PHighly recommended
Nick and his family survive after the robot revolution in a “Freepost” community hidden deep in the woods. The community remains vigilant for the possibility of a robot attack. Nick’s tech-obsessed younger brother, Kevin unwittingly discloses the community’s location when he picks up a chaff beacon. The robots attack with ferocity killing many in the community and capturing the survivors for transport to the city. Nick, Kevin and their younger sister Cass escape but their parents are among the captives. Nick leads his siblings on a dangerous mission to recover their parents from the city.
Nick, Kevin and Cass enter the city with relative ease. Locating their parents and blending in proves more difficult than they first imagined. All citizens of the city are micro-chipped and routinely scanned when they take public transportation or enter a building. “Freeposters” do not have micro-chips. If the robot police apprehend them, Nick, Kevin and Cass will be sent to re-education centers for micro-chipping and reprogramming.
Revolution 19 grabs the reader from page one and does not let go. The action moves at breakneck speed. Rosenblum’s descriptions vividly bring his characters to life. The main characters balance each other perfectly. Nick provides the brawn, Kevin provides the brain and Cass bridges the gap between them. The novel will have broad appeal to fans of science fiction and action films. The robots’ human-like qualities add an edge to their encounters with Nick, Kevin and Cass. The brutality of the robots creates authentic terror.
The reprogramming and torture scenes in the novel are not recommended for younger readers. The novel is clearly meant for teens and young adults who are mature enough to handle the violence. Parents might object to the violence but the language and other scenes are not objectionable. Reluctant readers or strong readers looking for a dark, edgy futuristic novel would enjoy Revolution 19. The strong female characters will appeal to female readers. The male characters have both strength and depth. The novel is best suited for pleasure reading. Revolution 19 is the first novel of a planned trilogy. If the writing in the subsequent books is as strong, the series may prove to be the next contender for must read status.
School Library Journal:
Gr 8 Up — In the not-so-distant future, a robot revolution results in humans living in tightly controlled cities or in the wild outskirts, surviving by scavenging "pre-Rev" items. When their parents are captured during a "bot" raid on one such Freepost, three teens set out to rescue them. The siblings discover that the City, while still commanded by the robots, is not a prison but a thriving community. They make a friend who offers to shelter them and act as guide. After being implanted with dummy chips to blend in better, 15-year-old Cass and 13-year-old Kevin attend school, where students are indoctrinated with robot propaganda. A too-brief explanation is given for how robots were able to enslave humans: the robots that replaced human soldiers during warfare eventually evolved and took over to "save mankind from itself." The teens are nearly caught and make a daring escape, as does 17-year-old Nick, who has allowed himself to be captured to find his parents in the reeducation center. More action follows as Kevin temporarily overloads the power system and disables the bots (using a stolen identity that conveniently allows access to the mainframe). The climax and epilogue leave many unresolved issues that indicate a sequel. Fans of dystopian fiction will find Revolution 19 fast paced and entertaining, but Daniel Wilson's Robopocalypse (Doubleday, 2011) offers more satisfying speculation about the dangers of our reliance on technology.—Sherry J. Mills, Hazelwood East High School, St. Louis, MO --Sherry J. Mills (Reviewed May 1, 2013) (School Library Journal, vol 59, issue 5, p124)
Kirkus:
In 2051, the robot soldiers stopped fighting; the next day they took over the world. Fourteen years later, free humans are scattered through the wilderness in Freeposts, where they live off the land, communicate via pigeon and try to avoid bot raiding parties. In the Cities, humans live under strict robot control. Just as the adults are discussing whether to move the Freepost, 17-year-old Nick's home is attacked and destroyed. He and his 13-year-old, tech-loving brother Kevin and adopted 15-year-old sister Cass escape and head for the shelter their family set up in the north, hoping to find their parents there. After waiting there for several days, the trio decides to head to the nearest City in hopes of rescuing their parents. The City is vastly different from the stories they've heard all their lives, and when they meet Lexi, they find her ideas of the wilderness are just as different from reality. Even with Lexi's help, can they survive in the City long enough to save their parents? Debut novelist Rosenblum's series kickoff (movie already in the planning stages) is an exciting, dystopian page turner. Conceived by the minds behind the Final Destination movies and the TV series Homeland and 24, this is sure to have legs. Robot apocalypse done right--sequels can't come fast enough. (Science fiction. 12 & up)(Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2012)
58
6/3/2015 14:13:05
Toxic: A Pretty Little Liars Novel
Middle School (grades 6-8), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Stephanie Wilson
stephanie.wilson@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville Middle School
Clarenceville SchoolsShepard, SaraHarper2014323978-0-06-228701-4$17.994Q4PRecommended
Everyone except Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer believes Ali perished in the fire at the house in the Poconos. The girls cannot shake the feeling Ali is not only alive but still watching their every move. Ali rises like a phoenix from the ashes to torment them. She methodically calculates her plans and executes them with chilling accuracy. She manipulates her boyfriend Nick, those who fawn over her and anyone who gets in her way. Ali’s devious plots seem limitless.
The challenge of writing a long-running popular series of books lies in finding creative ways to keep loyal readers happy and invested in the story. Author Sara Shepard faces the added burden of pleasing the fans of the successful TV series based on the books. The success of the novels and the TV series is intertwined. Shepard never fails to create newer, better and more intense drama for the girls and by extension her readers. She knows what her readers want and she offers it up one tantalizing detail at time. Readers know to expect the unexpected, yet Shepard always creates an unpredictable surprise or two. Toxic is no less of a page turner than the previous novels in the series.
The obsessive fans of the series are primarily female and typically in their teens. However, the appeal of the TV series has led to crossover appeal with adults and male readers. The Pretty Little Liars novels mirror the hunger for gossip, the revelation of closely guarded secrets and the quest for the finer things in life that fuels our society’s need for the tabloids. The novels provide an escape from the tedium of ordinary life. The escapist nature of the novel precludes its use in a classroom. Due to the subject matter and mature situations, Toxic is not recommended for younger readers. Parents might object to the casualness of the romantic relationships of the main characters and Emily’s homosexuality. The depictions of Emily’s relationship with Jordan do not progress past kissing and cuddling. There are no depictions of drug use, alcohol use or sex.
No Professional Reviews Available
No Professional Reviews Available
59
6/5/2015 8:44:39Very Cranky Bear
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyBland, NickScholastic2008329780545612691$16.995Q4PHighly recommended
I love this book! I am pretty sure that children will love this book also. First, the illustrations are beautiful and cute at the same time. The text rhymes and tells the story of friends made up of a zebra, moose, lion and sheep who look for a warm, dry place to play cards. They go into a cave to find that it is inhabited by a very cranky bear. Children will see how the friends brainstorm to make the bear happy. He must need stripes like the zebra or antlers like the moose or a golden mane like the lion! But the plain sheep does not offer a solution at first because she is plain. Of course, when the cranky bear rushes the other 3 out of the cave and proclaims he only wants to sleep the sheep goes into action and clips off half of her wool to make a pillow for the bear. The story and illustrations are both adorable. Highly recommended.
From School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—In the Jingle Jangle Jungle, a quartet of comical animals take refuge from a storm in a cave—only to find the titular bear none too happy to be awakened from his sleep. Determined to cheer him up, Moose, Lion, and Zebra adorn the bear with antlers made from branches, a mane made from grass, and stripes painted on with mud—surely he will feel better if he looks like them, right? Only Sheep thinks beyond her own perspective; she shears off some of her wool to make a soft pillow, and the bear finally goes back to sleep. The silly rhyming text bounces along with an infectious rhythm that is perfect for storytime, and kids will enjoy the colorful, cartoonish illustrations and exaggerated features of the animals. (Expect giggles when they see the striped, maned, antlered bear.) This deceptively simple story is also a great jumping-off point for discussions about kindness and empathy.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
No other reviews found.
60
6/5/2015 8:53:42
Pete the Cat. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyDean, JamesHarperCollins2014329780062304162$9.994Q4PRecommended
The author has taken the classic English lullaby “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” and
used it as text to go with illustrations of Pete the Cat and family. This is a clever
plot because young children will recognize the words and may be very familiar
with Pete which makes it a great combo! I don’t think many of us know
every verse of the Twinkle, twinkle, little star so even the parents, siblings or
teachers reading to children will find it interesting to see all verses. I never much
cared for the illustrations in Pete the Cat books but I will bet that young children
love them. This is a cute book with a great theme. Recommended.
No reviews found.No reviews found.
61
6/5/2015 8:55:28Clifford Visits the ZooPrimary (preK-K)Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyBridwell, NormanScholastic2014409780545668965$12.994Q4PRecommended
This is a very cute book featuring the beloved huge red dog named Clifford. The illustrations are big and bold just like Clifford. This story has a little girl, Emily Elizabeth, who is Clifford’s owner/friend going to the zoo with her friend. As they observe different animals the text describes to the reader the differences between up and down, wet and dry, loud and quiet and so on. I like that there is some diversity in the book in race and age. Young children will get a kick out of Clifford if only for his calm, friendly demeanor and gigantic size! And they will love the cover featuring a soft Clifford. Recommended.
No reviews found.No reviews found.
62
6/8/2015 8:22:34Panic
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Bethany Bratney
bbratney@novischools.net
Novi High SchoolNovOliver, LaurenHarper2014408978006201455917.994Q5PRecommended
Panic is a high-stakes, huge prize game that the graduating seniors in tiny, isolated Carp play every year. Heather never intended to play. She has always thought Panic was stupid, a death wish. Yet without much thought or warning, she finds herself making the jump (literally) off the cliff into the river to declare herself a player. Does she really have what it takes to play? Could she ever win? Dodge, on the other hand, has known he would play for years. But unlike everyone else in Carp, he’s not motivated by the money. He’s driven by revenge, a long-standing rivalry that makes his blood boil. He’s confident he can make it to the final round and face his enemy, but can he go through with his plan in the end? Panic is a novel that is sure to appeal to even reluctant readers. It is plot-driven and full of adventure and danger, providing the ultimate page-turner. There’s just enough romance to intrigue those who love it, yet not disgust those who don’t. The characters are interesting, relatable, and realistically flawed. Despite the extremely unlikely and unbelievable scenario of the game, the characters bring the story back to a place of plausibility. The ending is also wrapped up a bit too neatly and unbelievably, though many readers will be satisfied by the closure. The story is chock full of potentially objectionable teenage behavior (drinking, drugs, sex, irrationally dangerous behavior, etc.) so it’s best suited to mature high school students. There’s not much in the way of curricular connections in Panic, and it’s a significant genre deviation from Oliver’s other novels, but it will make a popular choice among readers of teen fiction.
Booklist December 15, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 8)
Grades 9-12. Oliver brings the survivalist competition of the Hunger Games series to present day New York State, where newly graduated seniors can take part in an annual game called Panic. In a small town where factory closures laid off 40 percent of the population, students are understandably concerned about financial security, and Panic awards the ultimate winner a sizable cash jackpot gathered from mandatory contributions from all high-school students. Participants are judged on physically and mentally challenging dares that culminate in a game of chicken called The Joust. The game’s genesis, organizers, and judges are carefully kept secrets, and participants work hard to keep the police in the dark, as dangerous stunts have resulted in deaths in years past. Told in alternating chapters by Heather and Dodge, two players with siblings to protect and avenge, Oliver’s novel is a wholly believable and compulsively readable tale of friendship, loyalty, survival, and courage. Although loose ends are tied together a little too neatly, the depressing yet realistic picture of new high-school graduates facing a bleak future balances unlikely heroism and happy endings.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Delirium trilogy books are New York Times and international best-sellers. Expect demand.
School Library Journal March 1, 2014
Gr 9 Up-There's not much to do in tiny Carp, New York, so a group of teenagers take it upon themselves to create their own excitement through Panic, a risky game with potentially deadly sets of challenges. Panic is all about facing fears, and this year's winner will take home a pot of $67,000. Both Heather and Dodge need to win for personal reasons, and they decide to form an alliance, one that will be threatened repeatedly throughout the game. The large cast of characters slowly reveals secrets, schemes, and fears that complicate the competition and its outcome as they participate in increasingly dangerous trials. Oliver maintains a high level of tension throughout, starting right in the middle of the action and relentlessly building momentum. The desperate and broken characters are willing to do just about anything to win, making it impossible to guess how the story will unfold. A mix of fear and determination permeate the writing, often manifesting in clipped, no-nonsense tones and a straightforward approach to unimaginable situations. The bleak setting, tenacious characters, and anxiety-filled atmosphere will draw readers right into this unique story. Oliver's powerful return to a contemporary realistic setting will find wide a readership with this fast-paced and captivating book.-Amanda MacGregor, formerly at Apollo High School Library, St. Cloud, MN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
63
6/9/2015 14:40:33Sea turtle scientist
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Terry Wahrman
terry.wahrman@clarencevilleschools.org
clarenceville high school
clarencevilleSwinburne, Stephen R
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
201465978-0-547-36755-218.995Q5PHighly recommended
“One egg out of a thousand will produce an adult sea turtle” so starts the story to the sea turtle scientist. It’s a catchy start and the author holds your attention all the way through till the end. Dr. Kimberly Stewart, who established and maintains a sea turtle monitoring program on St. Kitts, is the only scientist on the island preserving the sea turtles. She and a group of students protect and monitor sea turtles. She is a part of a larger organization called the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST). WIDECAST provided Dr. Stewart with her reference library, most of her startup funding, and training.

Dr. Stewart and her team of students hunt down nesting sites at night. They build protection around the nests, tag the mother turtle, and see the babies through to hatching and release into the ocean. There are seven species of sea turtle and all are endangered. Sea turtles are hunted for their shells and meat, but the most prevalent killer of sea turtles is the polluted oceans. Oceans are polluted with plastics and garbage that bind and suffocate the sea turtles.

The book is full of stirring facts and information. I learned that the temperature of the nest can determine the sex of the turtle (hot chicks & cool dudes), how many eggs can be laid by one female (50-250), and how many turtles survive to adulthood (1 in 1000). I enjoyed the writing, the many colorful photographs and the way the information was laid out. I highly recommend this book. It can be used in biology, ELA as a non-fiction read, or a book club. It was that interesting!
School Library Journal:
/* Starred Review */ Gr 5 – 8 — Another nifty entry in an impressively reliable series, this work follows the field work and the research of Dr. Kimberly Stewart, the "turtle lady" of the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. Her subjects are mainly the largest marine turtles of all, leatherbacks, though her drive for conservation includes all Caribbean species. Swinburne's engaging text engages readers in Stewart's efforts to record "turtle data," to compare and evaluate the discoveries she makes, and to encourage inhabitants of St. Kitts to help her in her drive to preserve this species. Stewart educates them in finding sources of protein other than turtle meat and eggs and assists them on new paths to economic independence without relying on turtle products. Accompanying the narrative are data boxes on such divergent topics as "A Brief History of St. Kitts," "Modern SeaTurtle Threats," and "How Sea Glass Saves Turtles," plus a detailed list of items stocked in her Turtle Watching Toolkit. Swinburne's excellent color photos (many full page) enrich his informative text and give readers a clear vision of a scientist hard at work recording the lives of her elusive subjects and trying to instill a sense of ecological conservancy in a community that has heretofore regarded turtles as a boost to their menu or their personal income. Pair this with Kathryn Lasky's excellent Interrupted Journey (Candlewick, 2001) and Swinburne's own Turtle Tide: The Ways of SeaTurtles (Boyds Mills, 2005) for a balanced look at species swimming in dangerous waters. This refreshing journey with a dedicated woman hard at work in her chosen field will resonate with readers. Inspiring.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY --Patricia Manning (Reviewed May 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 5, p158)
no other review
64
6/11/2015 9:51:57
There is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Bethany Bratney
bbratney @novischools.net
Novi High School
Novi Community Schools
Shihab Nye, NaomiGreenwillow Books2011201978-0-06-201965-316.995Q3PHighly recommended
There is No Long Distance Now: Very Short Stories is a collection of short stories (very short ones!) thematically linked around the idea of the emotional and physical spaces that separate people. There are no concrete links between the stories—no recurring characters or settings—but all of the teenage characters are addressing the challenges of growing up and understand their place in the world. The characters rarely figure anything out. One struggles to understand the random nature of illness when a friend discovers a tumor, another attempts to address a cab driver’s racist attitudes, a third wrestles with an aging grandmother and her dementia. The stories’ settings and characters are incredibly diverse; many directly consider multicultural issues, but in all the stories, the protagonists are dealing with real, complicated problems that would be easily relatable to teenagers. Ultimately, all of the stories contend in some way that “There is no Long Distance” between us and our problems. One concern about this text is that some teen readers might balk at the lack of resolution in many of the stories. Most end on a very open-ended note and the protagonists are left still struggling to make sense of their situation. Teens often express frustration at this type of ending because they desire a clean resolution. However, this is not necessarily a negative of the text as it would provide many opportunities for discussion about the complexity of life’s problems. Though sophisticated teen readers might enjoy this independently, this text would likely be most successfully used as an anchor text in a classroom setting. It would also be an excellent text for teachers to use in small pieces. Some of the stories could be used as class texts and others could be used in small groups. Teachers could easily use this to address thematic connections across texts with their students.
Kirkus Review (August 2011)
Thirty-nine very short stories offer glimpses into the everyday lives of young people.
How much can a writer say in a five-page story? It turns out, everything; if the devil is in the details, so is the world. In “Stay True Hotel,” Jane observes couples walking hand in hand, people with tattoos, old people with canes, parents pushing prams, burgundy peonies in buckets, ginger ale with an orange slice—the “clicking and humming of the planet.” The best of the stories present “fringe observers” happy to be invisible, extracting themselves from the crowd to observe a world full of mysteries. The spirit of Thoreau suffuses some of the stories, and in “Thoreau Is My Partner,” Andy notices a cardboard coaster in his hotel room that quotes Thoreau: “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” As she does in her poetry, Nye achieves a perfect marriage of theme and structure in stories that reflect the moments, glimpses and epiphanies of growing up. Readers can dip in and out with ease, and writing teachers will find it a boon in the classroom.
Though the stories aren’t linked, there is an accumulation of experience and feeling, and by the end of this fine collection readers will sense what life is like—what life means—for these young people.(Short stories. 12 & up)
School Library Journal (November 2011)
Gr 7 Up—These short, seemingly unconnected stories are set in the current moment but told by different adolescent characters from around the world. Two girls with a passion for cooking face the disappointment of their cooking teacher; another searches for her father in San Marcos, TX; another buys socks in Cairo; and a young man deals with depressed parents in Nebraska, to name but a few. And yet Nye's stories are indeed connected, some loosely and others in more abstract ways. Despite place, gender, and other superficial differences, they all weave together a perspective on what it means to come of age in the contemporary world. Rich thematic threads-dealing with loss, accepting the responsibilities of maturity, negotiating misunderstandings, for example-can be found throughout. Nye's stories are the beginning, middle or end of longer stories waiting to be written. With her characteristic strong, often quirky characters, and with much pathos, these vignettes invite readers to make meaning of the story fragments. They're a bit like Chris van Allsburg's The Chronicles of Harris Burdick (Houghton Harcourt, 2011), but for a teen audience.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA—
65
6/11/2015 10:30:02Camouflage
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAMiklowitz, Gloria D. Houghton Mifflin 1998166 978-05443361488.995Q3PHighly recommended
Fourteen year old Kyle finally convinces his mom to let him spend the summer with his dad living in Michigan. Kyle quickly discovers that living in rural Michigan is much different than living in Los Angeles; the way of life, teenagers interests and just about everything one can imagine is different. Not to mention his own responsibilities and expectations from his parents in two different parts of the country. His dad’s lifestyle offers adventure with guns and the outdoors until Kyle finds himself in the midst of trouble and fear as he learns his dad is part of a militia that is conspiring against the federal government. Kyle tries desperately to get out while there is still time. Kyle must make decisions based on what is right and loyalty.

A social studies teacher could use this title to coincide with lessons about the constitution and sharing history of militia and how it can impact the government, citizens and laws.

Students who are interested in military themes as well as young boys who struggle to maintain father son relationships will find the author’s book intriguing and a page turner from the beginning to the very end.






In this overdrawn yet thrilling high drama, 14-year-old Kyle is fed up with
his overprotective mother and her "cop" boyfriend and is eager to take off to
Michigan to spend the summer with his father. However, his Midwest vacation
takes on nightmarish proportions as the teenager is drawn into his father's
circle of friends, a group of right-wing militants prepared to take the law
into their own hands. Miklowitz's (Standing Tall, Looking Good) taut narrative
traces Kyle's descent into a world ruled by hatred, racism and violence. Kyle's
father, after presenting his son with a camouflage suit ("Back home, if [Kyle]
wore this, he'd be the envy of all his friends!") and teaching him how to shoot
a gun, leads his son into battle against officials ready to foreclose a
neighbor's farm. Once Kyle realizes that bloodshed and destruction are in
store, it is too late for him to back out. This action-packed drama challenges
readers to examine conventional notions of freedom, loyalty and manhood. Kyle's
emotional turmoil is genuine, even if events (e.g., the bombing of a government
building) appear extreme and characterizations (e.g. "If he was going to have
friends... he better go along with the flow, bite his tongue and not judge,"
are Kyle's thoughts when he meets a teen leader), occasionally superficial.
Hearts will be racing as Kyle desperately seeks escape from external and
internal warfare. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
"Camouflage." Publishers Weekly 12 Jan. 1998: 60+. General OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
School Library Journal
Grade 8-10?Fourteen-year-old Kyle's summer visit to his father in northern Michigan takes a surprising turn when the teen becomes enmeshed in a right-wing militia's plot to wage war on the federal government. Within the first hour of reconnecting with Dad, Kyle is thrilled to be offered the truck to drive, a cigarette, gun lessons, and maybe even a motorcycle. His father gives him a camouflage suit and the teen gets a buzz cut to fit in with the young people he meets. At a party, he encounters an older girl who comes to his house the next day and makes sexual advances toward him. His anticipation for a great summer wanes and his confusion and fear build as he learns more about his father, the "General," and Operation Desperate, a plan to fight perceived government control by blowing up a federal building. Although the ending is a bit melodramatic, it is not pat. After some hesitation, Kyle turns his father in; this intervention saves some lives, but not all. The novel, reading as it does like today's headlines, is a thought-provoking discussion-starter.?Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
66
6/11/2015 10:45:29Who wants a hug?
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAMack, JeffHaper Collins Children201531 978-006222026417.993Q4PRecommended

Bear loves hugs! Doesn’t everybody love hugs? Well one furry friend in the forest, Skunk does not like hugs, he is always trying to avoid Bear. While outgoing and friendly, Bear is determined to continue to hug all of friends of the forest including Skunk. Skunk decides to play a stinky trick on Bear so Bear won’t want to hug him any more. Unfortunately Skunk’s stinky plans backfire and he is the one that comes out stinky over and over again. Finally Skunk decides to give in and allow Bear to hug him. After Skunk gets a hug, he decides he likes getting hugs from Bear. But, does Bear want to hug Skunk now that he is all stinky?

Mack uses bright and rich colors with a cartoon style for his illustrations, capturing listeners and readers attention. The story maintains the same simple plot with humor throughout the story allowing preschoolers and kindergarteners follow allow with the story easily and sure to bring smiles and laughter. Teachers can create many themed lessons based on this book including friendship, kindness, and persistence.









Professional Review:
A big brown bear is generous with his hugs, and all the forest creatures appear to enjoy his embraces--except a grumpy, scheming skunk.Mack is back with a tale reminiscent of classic Looney Tunes but with a warm if odiferous ending. Readers learn early on that even though Bear offers his hugs to everyone, Skunk isn't having it. Bear enthuses, "[Hugs] make you feel great!" Skunk responds with the grumpy if accurate assertion that "nobody hugs a skunk!" Undeterred, Bear replies, "I'll save you one for later." Soon Skunk has a briefcase of "Super Stinky Tricks" with which to fend Bear off. First he tries to clobber Bear with a stinky fish, but when Bear bends down to hug a worm, the fish misses Bear and bounces back to smack Skunk. The second try is no better, and neither is the third--Skunk ends up smelling worse than usual. Adding insult to odor, with each mishap, the sympathetic Bear offers a hug. Finally Skunk relents and accepts a hug. In an instant, each animal is wowed by the experience. Skunk discovers he loves hugs...and Bear realizes he cannot stand the smell of Skunk. The digital illustrations have a cartoon comic feel that ably matches Skunk's laugh-out-loud attempts to get back at Bear for just being nice. Share widely. Few will be able to resist chuckling at this humorous yet heartwarming tale. (Picture book. 4-8)
"Mack, Jeff: WHO WANTS A HUG?" Kirkus Reviews 1 Oct. 2014. General OneFile. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
From School Library Journal
PreS-K—Everyone in the forest loves ebullient Bear and his big hugs—everyone except Skunk, the gleefully grouchy outcast. Bear's constant cheerfulness gets under Skunk's fur so much so that he decides to play a series of nasty tricks, but no matter how hard he tries, nothing goes right. When the stink balloon he plants for Bear backfires on him, Bear knows just what he needs to cheer him up—a hug. Skunk is quickly converted to Bear's hugging ways, and Bear's good nature wins out-even if he has to wear a clothespin on his nose. Mack's bright cartoon illustrations, created with a combination of ink and pencil and Photoshop, bring the characters to life and mesh perfectly with the crackling text. The message—that everyone is lovable, no matter how stinky and mean on the surface—bubbles through the story without ever becoming heavy-handed. A sure favorite for storytimes.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
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6/11/2015 10:52:00Red: A crayons storyPrimary (preK-K)Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAHall, MichaelGreen Willow Books201537978-006225207417.994Q4PHighly recommended
Red crayon may be red but he colors EVERYTHING blue! All of his friends believe there is something wrong with Red and they all try really hard to get him to color objects red. One day his friend purple has an idea, to help Red draw something blue. Finally all of his friends cheer with excitement.

Bright and rich color illustrations resembling childrens art work captures readers attention throughout the story.Young readers will enjoy the artist drawings drawn with a crayon and meeting the personalities of different colors of crayons. Parents can discuss different feelings and emotions that crayons feel and relate them to real life. Young readers can join in the story and talk about colors of the crayons and what objects match the different colors of crayons.


Professional Review

Red is blue--he can't seem to color anything correctly. Other crayons try to help, to no avail. His parents and grandparents worry. Everyone is afraid there is something wrong with Red until Purple, who has drawn a fine boat, asks him to draw a blue ocean. At first, Red says he can't, but Purple insists he try. Children who know their colors will immediately see what's wrong: Red's paper sleeve has been mistakenly put on a blue crayon! Readers will share all the emotional elements of the tale--humor, despair, sadness, frustration, and finally, excitement--as Red (and all the other crayons) witness and take pride in his success. The solid text is matched by the eye-catching artwork. Often placed against pages of shiny white or black, the crayons and their scribblings will charm children (who will also get the message that when it comes to creativity, strawberries and hearts can also be colored blue). Adults may have to help younger kids catch the nuances of size and color, such as the slightly worn-down brown and olive-green crayons for parents, and short, stubby silver and gray crayons for grandparents. There's lots to look at here. This fresh approach to colors and feelings will be great for sharing one-on-one or in a larger group.--J. B. Petty
Petty, J.B. "Red: A Crayon's Story." Booklist 1 Feb. 2015: 57. General OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

Crayon Red may be labeled red, but he colors blue, which creates no end of frustration for all the other crayons, and thus Red himself. The other crayons (in humorously labeled colors, heights, and degrees of sharpness, including short, stubby Silver and Gray grandparents) and art supplies advocate solutions such as practice, mixing with other colors, and wearing something warmer, but Red still colors blue, and the illustrations make it clear to readers that he always will. In one visually effective double-page spread, the other crayons stand up in a row on a black background evaluating the situation, and responses include "He came that way from the factory," "Frankly, I don't think he's very bright," and "Well, I think he's lazy"; Army Green thinks pressing harder is the answer, and the Sunshine crayon thinks he just needs more time to catch on. Red continues to struggle until new friend Berry asks him to make a blue ocean for her. Once he lets go of his label and proclaims, "I'm blue!" everything turns around, and so do the minds of all the other crayons. Though the metaphor here occasionally veers close to heavy-handed, the smart design, bold colors, and sharp details keep the story both effective and amusing. Roach, Julie
Roach, Julie. "Red: A Crayon's Story." The Horn Book Magazine Jan.-Feb. 2015: 65. General OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
68
6/11/2015 10:57:01
Miss. Patch's Learn to Sew
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAMeyer, CarolynHoughton Milton196990978-05443390579.993Q2PNot recommended


Miss. Patch’s Learn to Sew book teaches sewing techniques and the beginning fundamentals of sewing. The step by step process along with images provides the basic steps and project ideas . The 1969 DIY book’s language is concise yet the book’s voice may appeal to a younger audience than actual reader. Images are similar to blue print drawings and provide detailed information that is especially helpful for visual learners.

Parents could use this book to help their child who is eager to learn a new skill or hobby. They can encourage him/ or her enhance their skills as they learn to sew and guide them through the process. Teachers could recommend Miss. Patch’s Learn how to Sew Book to inspire students to engage in new hobbies.

Professional Review:
Due to the copy year of this title, I was not able to access a professional review. However, citations for two reviews may be found below:
"Miss Patch's Learn-To-Sew Book." Publishers Weekly 2 June 1969: 136.
"Miss Patch's Learn-To-Sew Book." Library Journal July 1969: 2677.
Professional Review:
Due to the copy year of this title, I was not able to access a professional review. However, citations for two reviews may be found below:
"Miss Patch's Learn-To-Sew Book." Publishers Weekly 2 June 1969: 136.
"Miss Patch's Learn-To-Sew Book." Library Journal July 1969: 2677.
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6/11/2015 11:02:11No Place to Fall
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNABrown, Jayne RobinHarper Collin2014368978-0-06-227099-317.995Q4PHighly recommended
Soon to be sophomore Amber Vaughn and her best friend Devon (who is gay) spend their summer hanging out in a barn in their small North Carolina town. The friends meet hikers from around the country who often use the barn as an overnight shelter while hiking the Appalachian Trail. Amber dreams about a future and visiting places that she hears about from the hikers. She uses her dreams and singing to cope with family life that is filled with drama including her parent’s relationship and her drug dealing brother – in –law. Amber's ability to sing may just be her ticket to escape her family and the town she lives through a music scholarship at a private arts school. As the new school year begins, Amber and her friends struggle to find reality and honesty among one another. Family problems and secrets between the newcomers of the school, best friends and siblings cause trouble among the friends. Choices among friends lead to serious consequences and jeopardizes friendships and relationships.

No Place to Fall, is a page turner both for students as well as adults as the author keeps her readers attention. Even though some events in the story seem predictable with foreshadowing, the plot twists and reader is surprised with a different turn of events. High school students will most likely be able to identify with this book as they relate to being a teenager and the events they experience through high school as well as family life. Teens are shown first hand through characters how choices can affect their lives. Controversial topics provide readers with different points of view. The author includes strong themes of drugs, underage drinking, teenage sexuality, homosexuality, cheating and marital affairs. Friendships and relationships are tested and friends find out who their true friends are and the meaning of friendships. Unlike Weekly Publishers review, this title was suggested for ages 14. Age 14 may be inappropriate due to mature themes and content.




Amber Vaughn is an extraordinary singer from the mountains of North Carolina. But her situation isn't idyllic. Her family is poor, her father cheats on his wife, and her brother-in-law is a known drug dealer. The only thing she wants in life is to get out of her small town and sing on a real stage. During her junior year, Amber makes two major decisions: to get into an esteemed arts school in nearby Winston-Salem and to help a new friend regain his ability to play the music he loves. When the two decisions collide, the result causes complications for both herself and the people she loves the most: her family, her friends, and the boy for whom she falls hard. Lyrically written with a deep sense of place and music, Brown's story allows the heroine to stumble, falter, and suffer consequences without forcing a tidy, happy ending. There is so much joy within the pages that the sorrow hits hard and emotions rise and fall and rise again like a vocalist running scales. --Jeanne Fredriksen
Fredriksen, Jeanne. "No Place to Fall." Booklist 1 Nov. 2014: 47. General OneFile. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

Amber Vaughn--one of three Ambers in her junior class--has plenty of reasons for being good. She's "barely sixteen," her mother's a fundamentalist Baptist, and her "daddy has a thirty-aught-six rifle." But lately her parents have been distracted: her mother is worried about Amber's older sister, whose husband deals drugs, and Amber is sure that her father is having an affair. So no one notices when Amber hooks up with her best friend's brother, who happens to date one of the other Ambers. Debut author Brown makes a small town in North Carolina--where everyone knows everyone, and the outside world comes in via Appalachian Trail hikers--feel real, but the heart of the story is Amber, as she tries to find herself, love, and her voice (she's a talented singer, but is afraid of singing in front of crowds). Though the no-good brother-in-law and the snarky new boy in town distract from the music--potential love interest Will may be a judge's son, but he plays a mean banjo--Amber's persistence and down-to-earth narration carry the story through these melodramatic additions. Ages 14 up. Alexandra Machinist, (Dec.) "No Place to Fall." Publishers Weekly 13 Oct. 2014: 62. General OneFile. Web. 26 Jan. 2015.
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6/11/2015 11:10:07
Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink
Middle School (grades 6-8), Junior High (grades 7-9)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNALevine, Gail CarsonHarper Collin2015287978006227530116.995Q2PRecommended

“ Have fun and save what you write”, is advice from Newbery Honor Award author, Gail Carson Levine’s book Writer to Writer From Think to Ink. Questions posted from her fans on her blog post along with her own writing tips and advice will capture the attention of readers interested in reading. Themed chapters based on the readers questions and personal experiences are shared . Writers are encouraged to try different types of writing and exercises through actual writing prompts and activities. Readers are motivated to develop ideas, invited to consider allowing character development as a process that takes time and remember that every writer's experience is different.

Student writers from the beginning stage and beyond can use this resource as the author encourages them through the writing process. The table of contents and index allows readers to find specific topics or spark curiosity as they browse through chapter titles.

Teachers may recommend Writer to Writer to students that are interested in the author as well as the writing process. Those that teach creative writing will most likely find the writing exercises engaging for student writers and can also be aligned with curriculum standards.

Parents can use this title as a resource to encourage and brainstorm ideas with their young writer based on an established author’s experience







Popular author Levine offers copious writing advice in this companion to her earlier work on the subject, Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly (2006), using questions from her eponymous blog as a framework. Here, she offers general guidance, such as establishing good writing habits and finding a reader you trust, as well as specific direction for everything from building character to choosing and managing tense, drawing on examples of excellence from everyone from M. T. Anderson to Langston Hughes. Individual chapters on different elements of story offer practical suggestions--the chapter on building tension features no fewer than 10 useful tools--and conclude with a variety of writing prompts and a refrain to "have fun, and save what you write!" As the title suggests, Levine writes for a practiced audience; exercises often involve the revision of existing work, rewriting a story in verse, or in another tense, and a beginner might feel overwhelmed. Still, avid writers will find meaningful guidance, support, and inspiration in Levines polished, enthusiastic instruction.--Thom Barthelmess
Barthelmess, Thom. "Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink." Booklist 1 Nov. 2014: 38+. General OneFile. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
School Library Journal
In this follow-up book to Writing Magic Creating Stories That Fly (HarperCollins, 2006), fantasy author Levine doles out realistic and helpful guidance to aspiring authors. This title is an extension of her blog, and Levine provides her audience with the common nuts and bolts of the profession, offering this advice: writers write, they keep writing, and they save everything they write to use again. Levine's tone is conversational and upbeat and her suggestions easy to follow, tinged with an underlying sense of encouragement that will bolster readers. She discusses common difficulties, warning young people not to get hung up on minutiae and letting them know that confronting challenges is a surmountable part of the craft. The chapters are based on questions that have been posted to her blog and address how to develop characters and backstory, come up with plot twists and flashbacks, and create mystery and tension. Each chapter ends with appealing and doable exercises. Levine urges her audience to cast away self-criticism and to write and rewrite, underscoring that this is an enjoyable, important process. An engaging and valuable addition.—Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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6/11/2015 11:19:40
Noah Webster and His words
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAFerris, Jeri ChaseHoughton Milton201232978-054739055016.995Q2PHighly recommended

Readers are provided with a timeline of Noah Webster’s life. Webster, the author of the 2nd most consulted book in the world, life’s story is shared from his childhood throughout his adult life. Along with Webster's biographical features his dreams and beliefs are shared with readers.

Students may find Noah Webster and His Words a useful resource for biography projects. In addition students can also enjoy learning about Webster for pleasure reading. Students can also gain knowledge how the very first lesson books were created and well as The Dictionary. A website address is provided to give students the opportunity to learn more about Webster and offers special kid activities.

Teachers can use this book as a unit introduction as they teach dictionary skills. History lessons can be incorporated with Webster's life events to match important history facts throughout US history. Readers learn about Webster through a more in-depth look at his career in the back of the book.

Rich colorful illustrations are sketched cartoon fashioned mirroring images similar to George Washington type of characters. Uniquely, students are given the opportunity to learn new words throughout the story. Words relating to the storyline are provided with definitions along with pronunciation and parts of speech, modeling the dictionary format on each page throughout the book.


Professional Review:
A charming introduction to Noah Webster, creator of "the second most popular book ever printed in English, after the Bible." Noah Webster loved words and wanted to be a scholar, so at age 15 he entered Yale University and became a teacher. When the Revolutionary War was over, he wanted to write a "second Declaration of Independence," an American spelling book that would systematize American spelling. At a time when Americans spelled words any which way--"mosquito, moskito, miscitoe, misqutor, muskeetor"--this was a way to further unite Americans. He followed his speller with a grammar text, and eventually, at age 70, published his American Dictionary of the English Language. What could have been as dry as a, well, dictionary is here made lively and enjoyable, with appealing cartoonish illustrations and a clear and lively text.Webster is drawn with a balloon-ish head since he "always knew he was right, and he never got tired of saying so." Ferris defines big words in brackets, dictionary-style, throughout the story, a playful device that becomes distracting, since most words can be figured out by context, even by very young readers and listeners. Nevertheless, the volume is a wonderful success in introducing Webster in such a charming manner. Future wordsmiths may be IN-SPIRED [verb: stimulated] by Webster's devotion to the English language. (timeline, more about Noah Webster, bibliography, websites) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
"Ferris, Jeri Chase: NOAH WEBSTER & HIS WORDS." Kirkus Reviews 1 Sept. 2012. General OneFile. Web. 5 Feb. 2015.
School Library Journal
Best known today for his dictionary, Webster was an important figure in early American education. As the new nation was forming, he championed the idea of standardized spellings and usage. He simplified British words, such as "plough" to "plow," and published the first American schoolbooks. This picture-book biography bursts with charm in telling Webster's story. The author puts some words into dictionary form as a reminder of Webster's claim to fame. For example, instead of a farmer, "Noah wanted to be SCHOL-AR [noun: one who goes to school; a person who knows a lot]." The watercolor-and-pencil cartoon illustrations are a perfect complement to the text. A page describing Webster's high self-confidence depicts him with a huge head. An image of young Noah nose to nose with his irritated father is both funny and telling. Primary and secondary sources are listed, as are websites for more information and activities. This informative book would be a great addition to dictionary lessons or to studies of the formation of the United States.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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6/11/2015 11:26:48Prey
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Jill Bakerjillbaker31@gmail.comNAIsbell, TomHarper Teen2015404 978-006221601417.994Q2PAdditional selection


Teenage survivors from a catastrophe radiation crisis find themselves struggling for survival. Not only do the teens try survive horrific environments, government officials are hunting them as if they were prey. The teens are captured as prisoners and used as science experiments and many are eventually killed. The survivors that have yet been caught form an allegiance with one another and attempt to escape to freedom.

Readers that enjoy adventure and dystopian literature will find The Prey intriguing. Non traditional book groups will find a wide variety of discussion themes to accompany this title. Readers should be prepared for gory details of death, suffering, human torture, devastation and armageddon themes.


Professional Review

An electromagnetic pulse followed by radiation--they called it Omega, the end--destroyed civilization as it once existed. The survivors established the Republic of the True America. But the future still looks like a dead end for Book and Hope, two teens who find themselves in the camps that purport to be orphanages. Camp Liberty and Camp Freedom do not exist to save the young people, though. Instead, they serve to contain prisoners--teens who will be hunted, experimented upon: and, ultimately, killed. Isbell creates a dystopian landscape that is bleak and unforgiving and has eerie echoes of the Holocaust. Careful readers will appreciate the irony and subtle, deeper meanings in character and location names as Isbell shapes his own vision of a dark world. Pair this with other blockbuster titles about hope in the midst of despair and danger, including Veronica Roth's Four (2014), Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, and James Dashner's Maze Runner books.--Teri Lesesne
Lesesne, Terri. "The Prey." Booklist 15 Dec. 2014: 52. General OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.

Teens uncover their post-apocalyptic, dystopian society's secret program that segregates those deemed inferior to use as game in rich men's hunts. An orphan nicknamed Book who's grown up in an all-boys government-run camp discovers a strange new boy, near death, in the desert. Book befriends him and learns that after the boys graduate, they aren't bussed away for leadership positions as promised--instead, they're hunted by the rich as entertainment. Turns out they're scapegoated Less Thans--a designation given to undesirable races, religious groups, political dissidents and a variety of other discriminatory categories. Alternate chapters break from Book's first-person, past-tense narration for a third-person, present-tense account that follows Hope, who's been running from government soldiers for years. She and her twin sister, Faith, are captured and brought to a girls' facility specializing in twins for twisted medical experiments. Brought together by chance, Book and Hope feel an instant connection. That doesn't stop them from making a weak love triangle with another character when small groups from each camp unite to escape certain extermination. Running for freedom, they face such perils as soldiers and wolves, but the most dangerous are the hunters, yielding scenes in which the teens use clever strategy to defend themselves against the better-equipped hunters. Isbell aims for inventive description but frequently fumbles, producing phrases like "anvil-shaped face." Light worldbuilding leaves too many questions unanswered, paving the way for the sequel. It's an exciting concept, but the execution is for the most part mediocre. (Dystopian adventure. 13 & up) "Isbell, Tom: THE PREY." Kirkus Reviews 1 Nov. 2014. General OneFile. Web. 25 Feb. 2015.
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6/16/2015 16:19:41Creature of Moonlight
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Klaudia Janekkjanek@bloomfield.orgInternational Academy
Bloomfield Hills School District
Hahn, Rebecca
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2013313978054410935317.993Q2PAdditional selection
Marni is half dragon and half human. She is heir to the throne, but her uncle has overthrown her grandfather and she is forced to live in exile. It was a content life since she didn't really know what she was missing. Marni enjoyed the woods, the rustic cabin they lived in and she loved her grandfather. As Marni grew older, she began to want for more; more freedom, more relationships a chance to be herself. The woods were magical, but they never seemed to harm Marni. Her mother and grandfather had given up a lot to give Marni a life. They were all forced to give up their kingdom and the riches that come with it.
Many of the reviews wrote that the prose was lyrical and vivid, but it seemed to move slowly to me. The main character narrated this in a sort of stream of consciousness voice. I appreciate that it is supposed to be a metaphor for adolescence, but a dragon story seemed like it should move along a bit faster. I like that the heroine was strong and stayed true to herself. There was some romance, but I'm not sure there was enough character development to do all the things the author wanted to do. The professional reviews are glowing, but it took me quite a while to get through it. There is nothing controversial in this book so it would be appropriate for a high school library. I think it could be useful as an example of a modern fairytale. It will appeal to fans of fantasy. It is definitely more of an emotional read than an action read. The story leaves you with a sense of loss and emptiness, which may have been the author’s point. So maybe not for everyone, but a good addition to a school library.
Kirkus:
/* Starred Review */ A dreamlike, poetic fantasy bildungsroman explores the power of choice and the meaning of home. Marni has lived 16 years in a hut near the magic-haunted woods, growing flowers for the nobility with her grandfather. But Gramps was once the king—before his daughter ran away to the woods only to return with a baby rumored to be "the dragon's daughter," before Gramps gave up everything to protect Marni from her murderous uncle. Now Gramps is gone, and the king's court has noticed that his only heir is an unmarried girl...and the woods are invading the kingdom, calling Marni to return. A fully satisfying fairy tale, this can also be read as an elegant metaphor for adolescence, as Marni is tempted in turn by obscurity, power, vengeance, romance and (most seductive) the freedom of eternal childhood. Her vivid narration is rustic and even coarse at times. She is bitterly resentful of her unjust treatment but also aching with loneliness and lyrically passionate about the beauty of nature and magic alike, and she is always perceptive, acute and honest. Torn between human and dragon, Marni (unlike too many otherwise "strong" teen heroines) fiercely maintains her own agency. Thoughtful readers will embrace the ambiguous conclusion and appreciate the triumph of Marni's commitment to keeping her possibilities open. Deliberate at first, Hahn's debut is cumulatively stunning. (Fantasy. 12 & up)(Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2014)
School Library Journal:
Gr 9 Up — Marni lives in a shack at the edge of the woods with her Gramps, where she tends flowers, as she's done for most of her life. Yet change is afoot. As she's come of age, more and more male visitors have come to sit on the porch with Gramps while Marni lingers in the shadows. Perhaps even more disturbingly, the woods have begun creeping in inch by inch into the surrounding villages—but notably not around their own hut. If there was ever a time Marni should ignore the siren call of the voices in the woods, it is now, but she continues to escape there. It was these woods, after all, that had lured her princess mother away from the castle. Her mother was not the only girl lured by the voices, but she was the only to return—carrying the illegitimate "Dragon's" daughter and ultimately ending her own life, thereby sentencing Marni and her Gramps to a life of exile. Unexpectedly, Marni is thrust into life at court, and she must fight desperately to keep her independence while unraveling the mysteries of the encroaching woods and her birth. This book's greatest strength lies in the vivid woodland scenes and the rich detail that describes the mystical pieces of Marni's tale. The plot, however, plods along a bit, and, in the end, readers might wish that a little more had lurked beneath the surface. Fantasy fans who enjoy reveling more in the vision of a fantastical land and its creatures than an intricate and fast-paced plot will find much to love here.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ --Jill Heritage Maza (Reviewed April 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 4, p164)
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6/20/2015 13:40:43
Star of Stage and Screen (Nancy Clancy series)
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldO'Connor, JaneHarperCollins2015120978-0-06-226964-5$9.994Q3PRecommended
This is book 5 in the Nancy Clancy series and this time Nancy wants to be a star in the school play. In years past, she was in the chorus, but this year she practiced her guitar playing and got a starring spot in one of the acts. Nancy is super excited, but like in typical Nancy mode, she focuses so much on her own issues, that she ends up hurting her best friend Bree. At last it is show time, and while Nancy makes it up to Bree and is forgiven, Nancy comes down with stage fright. Luckily, her little sister comes to the rescue and the whole thing gets recorded and placed on YouTube. Nancy is mortified, until she realizes she is now famous and gets to be on TV. Like all of the Nancy Clancy books, she manages to see the positive in what seems to be an embarrassing situation and turns the whole thing around. She learns that everyone needs a little help from others and that perseverance really pays off.
Fans of the Nancy Clancy chapter books and Fancy Nancy picture books will like this story about friendship, hard work and forgiveness. Early chapter book readers who like similar series such as Just Grace, Ivy and Bean, Just Jules, and Clementine will also enjoy reading the Nancy Clancy books. This series is geared toward younger elementary grade girls. Any book in the series would be good for a small book club for early chapter book readers. In school, Nancy and her classmates have been learning about the 50 states, so this book could be used as an introduction to a social studies unit on the United States. As an early chapter book, this story could be used to examine Common Core Standard RL2.5 “Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.” There is also a good lesson in here about the benefits of hard work and seeing the positive in any situation, even really embarrassing ones.
(none for this book - so included for another in the same series)
Grades 2-4. Can Nancy Clancy predict the future? If JoJo hadn’t dropped her Magic 8 ball, it might be able to tell her. But when Nancy foresees several occurrences (Dad will bring pizza for dinner, for instance), she is convinced she has a special gift. And so wearing her neighbor’s fortune-teller-like flowy clothes and dangly earrings (clip-ons, alas), Nancy sets up shop in the school playground to offer her services at 25 cents a pop. Unfortunately, her visions become a little cloudy. The third title in the winning Nancy Clancy mystery series, this is another energetic offering—full of fancy words like boudoir—and it will have huge appeal to budding sleuths.
(non available for this book, so included one for another in same series)
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
When Nancy acquires an old desk with lots of drawers and cubbyholes, she discovers a secret compartment with a key. Who hid it there and what important thing does it unlock? To find the answers, Nancy and her best friend Bree must look beyond the obvious and find an earlier owner of the desk. Spot illustrations add interest to Nancy's latest amusing chapter-book caper.
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6/20/2015 14:05:03
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters series)
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldWest, TraceyScholastic201490978-0-545-6424-6$15.993Q3PRecommended
This is book number 1 in the Dragon Masters series and probably should be read first in order to set the stage for the rest of the adventures. Drake seems like an ordinary farm boy until one day when a king’s soldier comes to take him away from his home. He soon discovers that the king has real dragons and that Drake has been identified as a child who has the gift to be a Dragon Master. He quickly meets his trainer, the king’s wizard, named Griffith and the other children who are Dragon Masters. At first, Drake is very nervous because he isn’t sure he has what it takes to be a Dragon Master. On top of that, his dragon seems a bit sluggish and dull compared to the other dragons. He learns that he and his dragon, Worm, have a special connection and that they make a great team. Worm finally reveals his true power and Drake is ready to begin his new life as a Dragon Master full of dragons, magic and danger.
The Dragon Masters fantasy series (currently 4 books) is just right for newly independent readers who are not quite ready for longer chapter books. This series offers beginning chapter book readers easy-to-read text, lots of fast-paced action, and illustrations on each page. Teachers may want to recommend this series to reluctant chapter book readers or students who are interested in dragon fantasy books but may not be ready for the How to Train Your Dragon series. However, the dragon and magic theme does have a limited appeal and thus the 3P rating. There is also a strong theme of friendship and teamwork throughout the series. This story is short enough to keep reluctant readers engaged and teachers can use it for Common Core standards like RL.1.2 “Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson”. The abundance of illustrations make it perfect for discussions on Common Core standard RL.3.7 “Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story”.
Library Media Connection January/February 2015
This first entry in a new series of early chapter books is promising, but tries to do too much. Eight-year-old Drake is spirited away from his family and delivered to a wizard at the king's castle where he learns that he is a Dragon Master. There are many twists and turns, but supporting details that a young reader needs are unfortunately omitted. Every page features wonderfully detailed pencil illustrations which help to support the text. The story has potential, and may appeal to primary grade students not ready for one of the big fantasy series. Leigh Russell King, School Librarian, Lincoln St. Elementary School, Northborough, Massachusetts
Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2014)
Drake has been selected by the king to serve as a Dragon Master, quite a change for an 8-year-old farmer boy. The dragons are a secret, and the reason King Roland has them is a mystery, but what is clear is that the Dragon Stone has identified Drake as one of the rare few children who have a special connection with dragons and the ability to serve as a trainer. Drake’s dragon is a long brown creature with, at first, no particular talents that Drake can identify. He calls the dragon Worm. It isn’t long before Drake begins to realize he has a very strong connection with Worm and can share what seem to be his dragon’s thoughts. After one of the other Dragon Masters decides to illicitly take the dragons outside, disaster strikes. The cave they are passing through collapses, blocking the passageway, and then Worm’s special talent becomes evident. The first of a new series of early chapter books, this entry is sure to attract fans. Brief chapters, large print, lots of action, attractive illustrations in every spread, including a maplike panorama, an enviable protagonist—who wouldn’t want to be a Dragon Master?—all combine to make an entertaining read. With plenty left to be resolved, the next entry will be eagerly sought after. (Fantasy. 7-10)
76
6/20/2015 14:28:28
Scholastic Year in Sports 2015
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldBuckley, JamesScholastic2015192978-0-545-67953-4$9.994Q4PRecommended
This book provides short snippets of sports highlights over the past year. Sections include; ‘Top 10 Moments in Sports”, “Winter Olympics”, “Amazing Sports”, plus sections on different sports such as soccer, football, basketball, car racing, hockey, golf, tennis and more. Information on both college and professional sports is also included. The information is provided in short paragraphs, action photos, statistics presented in table format, lists, and quotes. The book concludes with a timeline in the back of major sporting events throughout the year.
This sports fact book for kids will be popular among upper elementary and middle school students who love all things sports related. This book will be in demand with sport fans who like to read short snippets of information and enjoy looking at lots of photos. This book is like an almanac for sports stats and facts. Because the selections of information are very short, reluctant readers may also be willing to tackle this nonfiction book because it can be read in small sections while not losing the meaning of what is written. Students can also only read the sections that interest them the most or by reading all the sections, this book could spark an interest in a sport to read more about or perhaps to even try out themselves. Teachers may want to use this book as an introduction to nonfiction text features, showing students how to combine text, photos, and other features such as graphs, charts and tables to present the same information. Students could use this book’s format as a model to create a visual display of information they have learned about on almost any topic or subject studied. This reference book can be combined with other nonfiction texts to assist students with Common Core standards such as RI.4.9 and RI.5.9 “Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably”.
no reviews availableno reviews available
77
6/22/2015 13:16:16Scarecrow's Wedding
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland County
Donaldson, Julia and Scheffler, Axel
Arthur A. Levine Books an Imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
2014329780545726061$17.994Q4PRecommended
This is the story of Betty O'Barley and Harry O'Hay - two scarecrows who love one another and want to be married. Betty makes a list of what she wants for the wedding and Harry sets out to make Betty's wish list come true. The story is told in rhyme and there is enough text on each page to make the story move along nicely with interesting twists included. The pages are large and the illustrations are colorful. The cute story of Harry getting the wedding items along with the cute, colorful illustrations will be appealing to young children. The inclusion of many farm, forest and water creatures is also nice to include in the story. Children will see how they all work together to make the wedding a success. Before Harry returns from his trek the farmer has replaced Harry with a scoundrel of a scarecrow. but Betty is not swayed by the scoundrel and when Harry returns he even saves Betty from a terrible fate regarding fire (not good for a scarecrow)! Recommended.
From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—In this peculiar tale, two scarecrows decide to get married and have a big wedding. They gather everything on their list that they need for the celebration but realize that the pink flowers are missing. So off Harry O'Hay goes to find a field of flowers for his bride, Betty O'Barley. Meanwhile, the farmer notices that Harry is missing and brings home a new scarecrow, Reginal Rake, to take his place. The newcomer promptly begins to woo Betty and tries to impress her by making smoke rings with a cigar. This leads to an unfortunate incident in which she ends up on fire. Thankfully, Harry appears: "'Betty!' cried Harry. 'My own future wife!'/He poured on the water—and saved Betty's life." This story is told through simple rhyming couplets that are intended for young children, but the plot isn't satisfying. The author may have been trying to promote an anti-smoking message; unfortunately, it is lost in the disconcerting image of the scarecrow burning. The pictures are done in bright and vibrant colors outlined in black. Strictly additional.—Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
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78
6/22/2015 13:19:18First Snow
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyMcCarty, Peter
Balzar & Bray an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
2015409780062189967$16.994Q4PHighly recommended
First Snow is the story of Pedro, an animal (dog?) who visits his cousins for the first time. Pedro has never seen snow and thinks he will not like it. His cousins make Pedro join them for fun snow frolicking! Pedro does not like the snow and the cold at first but finds out that he does like it and has fun. The illustrations are cute on natural colored backgrounds. The characters are very cute in their snow gear! The cousins act like typical young kids in that they want to have fun, have their cousin join in the fun, and play outdoors after an overnight snowfall. Young children will totally relate to the story. They may have been the person who visited relatives and was a bit wary of the whole thing. Or they may have been the one who was afraid to try something but bravely tried it and found that they liked it after all. The story will resonate with young children and they will enjoy the illustrations and the “kids” playing in the snow. Recommended.
From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—Pedro, a young anthropomorphic dog, has traveled from far away, and his cousins Sancho, Bella, Lola, Ava, and Maria are eager to introduce him to snow—something he's never before experienced. Though Pedro is initially reluctant, the cousins, joined by a host of other animals—bunnies, owls, chickens, and more—show him how to make snow angels, taste snowflakes, and sled down a hill, until he finally warms to the day's activities. Employing ink and watercolors rendered in a muted, beige-heavy palette, McCarty relies upon the sweetly old-fashioned style readers will fondly remember from titles such as Henry in Love (2009) and Chloe (2012, both HarperCollins)—Chloe the rabbit even makes an appearance. The animals are an enchanting bunch, striking such dynamic poses as they cavort that Pedro and readers alike will be hard-pressed to resist. McCarty sustains a gentle but upbeat tone through charming, dialogue-heavy text ("'Put on your boots! Put on your coat! Put on your hat and mittens!'"), as the cousins eventually win Pedro over, encouraging him cheerfully but never forcefully. Through it all, a message emphasizing the importance of trying new things is unobtrusively folded in, but most of all, readers will come away with a genuine sense of fun and the joy of family and friends. A delightful winter excursion.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
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79
6/22/2015 14:07:24
Roc and Roe's Twelve Days of Christmas
Primary (preK-K)Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyCannon, Nick
Scholastic Press an Imprint of Scholastic
201432978054519502$17.993Q4PRecommended
The author of this book is Nick Cannon, ex-husband of Mariah Carey. Cannon and Carey are the parents of the titular characters - Roc and Roe. The book is, obviously, a takeoff of the 12 days of Christmas. In this story Roc and Roe add items to their Christmas tree each day and the text repeats the previous days items as in the original song. The illustrations are cute and it is a good idea for a holiday theme. A nice Christmas addition although not the most exciting Christmas story. Maybe children could sing the text to make it more fun. Recommended.
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80
6/22/2015 14:24:51
I know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyYacowitz, Caryn
Arthur A. Levine Books an Imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
2014329780439915304$17.994Q4PRecommended
An old lady swallowed a dreidel that had fallen into cream cheese and ended up on her bagel. The old lady proceeds to swallow latkes, applesauce, oil, gelt, a menorah, brisket and candles. The illustrations are big, broad and fun. The story is cute and manages to pack in many symbols of Chanukah. And the text repeats the previous lines about what the old lady swallowed each time a new item is added. My only concern would be to tell young children not to swallow most of those items! But, my favorite thing about the book is that the illustrations pay homage to classic works of art. I honestly did not notice until a takeoff of Hopper's Nighthawks. Then it became fun to guess the work of art. At the end of the book the Artist's Note indicates the works of art represented in the story. Recommended.
From School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This version of the familiar cumulative song is given a humorous twist: "I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel, a Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel…Perhaps it's fatal." The song progresses through various traditional foods and symbols, such as oil, latkes, brisket, gelt, and candles, all leading to a large non-fatal "BURP!" Following the original rhyming scheme calls for some verbal acrobatics, which the author handles well, with the exception of substituting "some sauce" for applesauce. Slonim makes an intriguing decision to base the cartoon pictures on famous works of art. "I wanted the art parodies to help the book transcend Chanukah, speaking to the universal human experience of family gatherings and celebrations." So, the old lady is depicted as a winking Mona Lisa, while her family appears in American Gothic and a menorah lights up Van Gogh's The Starry Night. This artistic "what-is-it" adds another layer to the book that is generally appealing and occasionally irksome (the old lady as the young woman in Wyeth's Christina's World.) Still, given the over-the-top silliness of the song, adding a visual game to it doesn't seem excessive and might just spur young readers to locate the original works. A unique addition that could generate a few parodies of its own. Includes an artist's note.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
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81
6/22/2015 15:53:02
Petal and Poppy and the Spooky Halloween!
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland County
Clough, Lisa and Briant, Ed
Green Light Readers/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014329780544336025$12.993Q4PAdditional selection
This book definitely has a Halloween theme with costumes, scary houses and ghosts but it lacks something. It is presented on each page in panels somewhat like a comic book or graphic novel. Petal and Poppy are some kind of animal and I would rather have seen them as animals that exist. Petal is afraid of scary things including costumes. Poppy persuades Petal to wear a costume for Halloween so Petal chooses a butterfly. They fall off their bike trick or treating and end up at a scary house. I see that the author is going for a theme of "don't be afraid" and friendship but it doesn't completely work for me. And there is a ghost (you can see through the creature) yet by the end of the book when both Poppy and Petal are scared they say in unison, "They are only costumes." Well maybe P and P... but look out!
"Simple text combines with short, but not stilted, sentences, and colorful, humorous illustrations with just enough dark to retain the Halloween feel."
—Booklist Online
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82
6/23/2015 14:03:00
Flicka, Ricka, Dicka Go to Market
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Klaudia Janekkjanek@bloomfield.orgInternational Academy
Bloomfield Hills School District
Lindman, Maj
Albert Whitman & Company
Reprint edition (March 1, 2012)
32978-0-8075-2478-714.993Q3PRecommended
Travel back in time with this re-published book. The original title was first published in 1946 and they were re-released in 2012. Three Swedish triplets want to plant a garden to earn money for bicycles. They would like to buy bikes to get to school faster because they live in a very rural area far from school. It takes them a while to learn how to buy seeds, how to plant them and then they have to wait for everything to grow. They are shy when they get to the market, but then they get used to the hustle and bustle.
This is a very sweet story that can teach to children how they can help themselves if they need something. The illustrations seem to be the original watercolors from the previously published books. The drawings are accessible and realistic. The color palette has a soft tone and the landscape will let little ones imagine what Sweden looks like in the summer. I would argue that it incorporates some Swedish folk art. The dresses that the children and the women wear are true to the 1930s.
There is nothing objectionable in this book. It is really very sweet and timeless. It has that vintage feel and I think a new generation of children will enjoy this series. It is appropriate for a school library. It could be used in classes exploring Sweden. It would also be a great example of working hard when doing character education lessons.
Maj Lindman. Albert Whitman, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-2478-7
From a Swedish picture book series about three blonde triplets (originally published in the U.S. in the 1950s), this redesigned edition centers on the girls as they grow a garden in hopes of selling vegetables so they can buy bicycles. The girls learn the art of patience--first sending away for the seeds ("Oh," Ricka says, "even the outsides of the [seed] envelopes are beautiful"), then waiting for them to sprout. When it's finally time to harvest, a farmer offers the girls the use of his horse and cart if they will also sell his flowers at the market. The triplets, who wear matching outfits that alternate between blue and orange stripes and solids, appear in tidy compositions--walking in line under an orange umbrella in a rainstorm, they resemble a troika of Morton Salt Girls. Lindman's designs point to a bygone era of friendly, pipe-smoking neighbors and delayed gratification, offering a refreshing change of pace for the Farmville generation. Age's 5-8. (Mar.)

"Sweet returns." Publishers Weekly 30 Jan. 2012: 55. General OneFile. Web. 23 June 2015.
could not find a 2nd professional review
83
6/23/2015 15:31:26
Mary Engelbreit's Nutcracker
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyEngelbreit, Mary
Harper an Imprint of Harpercollins Publishers
2011409780062224170$9.993Q4PAdditional selection
This story is a very nice Christmas story that has been around for a long time. A handsome prince is turned into an ugly nutcracker when a terrible spell is placed on him by the Mouse King. Marie is a girl whose uncle is the local toy shop owner. He takes the nutcracker as a gift for his niece Marie at Christmas time. Marie is awakened one night by her uncle who sprinkles magic dust on her so that she ends up in a fairy tale land. The Mouse King fights the nutcracker and Marie helps breaking the spell. The prince is now back and courts Marie. The only thing that put me off a bit is that marie and the prince are children but he takes her away to his kingdom and they live happily ever after. They look a bit older in the final illustration but they should have been made a bit older in the first place.
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84
6/23/2015 15:53:57Very Marley Christmas
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyGrogan, John
Harper an Imprint of HarperCollinsChildrens
2008409780062113672$9.995Q4PHighly recommended
If you are looking for a very cute Christmas book for a young child this book is once to consider. The happy-go-lucky Marley is a young pup helping his family get ready for Christmas. Of course, Marley makes a mess of the ornaments and decorations but he is so adorable who cares? The kids want snow for Christmas and, of course, it happens for Christmas morning. Young children will love Marley's antics and the Christmas theme. Very family-oriented and dog-oriented.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–The pup from Grogan's nonfiction title Marley: A Dog Like No Other (HarperCollins, 2007) returns in a picture book. This slight story records the yellow Lab's destructive puppy antics. The repetition of Bad dog, Marley! seems antithetical to current, positive-reinforcement-based pet-training techniques, but one can understand the frustration as the pup ruins project after project for every family member. Cowdrey's illustrations do their best to showcase Marley's exuberance and joie de vivre, but only partially succeed. Better dog stories abound.–Lisa Falk, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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85
6/24/2015 12:44:19
Just Grace Gets Crafty (Just Grace series)
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldHarper, Charise Mericle
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2014185978-0-544-08023-2$15.994Q3PRecommended
This is another book in the Just Grace series, but the series does not have to be read in any particular order. Third grader, Grace, and her classmates are getting a substitute teacher for a week while Miss Lois is away at a teacher conference. Miss Summers, the substitute, has a creative project for the class to do. They created a pocket pal character to write a story about. Grace comes up with a squirrel character named Stan, who acts naughty and gets into trouble just like some of her classmates. Meanwhile, her best friend, Mimi, talks her into a project where they make crafts for a craft fair in order to help raise money for her brother’s school. Grace also wants to help the new crossing guard, Marie, meet and make a friend, so she finds a way to combine both projects. In the end, she is successful at doing both but in a surprising way.
This story will be popular among middle elementary grade girls who enjoy school and friendship stories like Amber Brown, Clementine, Judy Moody and of course other Just Grace books. Unfortunately, most boys will be turned off because the cover and title are very “girlie”, even though much of the story could appeal to both boys and girls. This book would be a good choice for a girl’s book club and lends itself to discussions about friendship, helping others and. During the school portion of this story, Grace and her classmates are doing a creative writing project, so this book could be used as an introduction to a creative writing unit in a classroom. Teachers could have their own class create a “pocket pal” character just like the students in Grace’s class did. This story could also be used as a springboard for discussions around Common Core Standard RL.3.3 “Describe characters in a story (e.g. their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.”
School Library Journal June 1, 2014
Gr 1-4-The frank and hilarious Grace and her best friend Mimi have entered the school craft fair. Peppered with Grace's comics, this charmingly depicts school and family strife with the beloved third grader's witty flair. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist July 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 21)
Grades 2-4. The sub who takes over Grace’s third-grade class starts a creative writing project that captures the kids’ imaginations. Meanwhile, Grace helps Mimi prepare for a craft fair, finds an unexpected friend for the new crossing guard, and even begins to understand an annoying classmate better. Weaving these disparate elements into a very readable story, Harper makes clear that even the best friendships need effort, understanding, and a little space from time to time. The believable first-person narration, large type, and childlike line drawings make this and other volumes in the Just Grace series appealing, accessible choices for young readers.
86
6/24/2015 13:04:27
Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Stupid Stinkbugs from Saturn
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldPilkey, DavScholastic2015125978-0-545-63121-1$15.993Q3PRecommended
Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot continue their friendship and heroics in this sixth book in the Ricky Ricotta series. In this story, Ricky’s parents have a trip planned to visit his cousin Lucy and her family. This is as boring as it gets for Ricky, because all Lucy ever wants to do is play princess. However, things get exciting when an invasion of stinkbugs from Saturn come because they think Lucy is the princess of all the Earth. Their goal is to take over the Earth since they have ruined their own planet with all their stinky junk. Ricky and his robot of course fight off the stinkbugs and win. They capture Sergeant Stinkbug and throw him into the Squeakyville jail. Ricky and his robot have once again saved the day and their town.
Readers, who liked any of the books in this series, will want to continue to read all the books. This book is full of colorful pictures, comics and even some flip book pages. Fans of the Captain Underpants series or super hero comics will enjoy books from this series. So will newly independent readers who want to read both chapter books and graphic novels, since this series combines both. There is a message of friendship, kindness and a lesson on responsibility that can be discussed in the classroom. Teachers could use books from this series as an introduction to the world of graphic novels. The story is short enough to keep reluctant readers engaged and teachers can also use it for Common Core standards like RL.1.2 “Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson” and RL2.3 “Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.”
No reviews for this title in the series, included reviews of first book.
Booklist (April 15, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 16))
Grades K-3. Poor little Ricky Ricotta—just a nerdy, bespectacled mouse with no friends. But when his dad says, “Someday something BIG will happen and you will find a friend,” he is right. One day, a giant robot, controlled by evil Dr. Stinky, attacks the city, but the robot has a change of heart when he sees the terrified townsmice. When Dr. Stinky punishes the robot for his disobedience, Ricky is the one to save him, and their friendship is cemented. Pilkey first published this series in 2000, but in preparation for new installments, Scholastic is rereleasing the stories with brand-new full-color illustrations on glossy pages from prolific artist Santat (Crankenstein, 2013). Aimed at a younger audience than the wildly popular Captain Underpants books, this series opener has all the classic Pilkey hallmarks: comic book panels, superhero action, and flip-o-rama, which here depicts the battle between Mighty Robot and the supersize class lizard infected with “Hate Potion #9” to enact Dr. Stinky’s revenge. Brace yourselves, there’s more on the way. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pilkey’s publisher is pulling out all the stops for this series. Expect to see Ricky Ricotta TV spots any day now.
No reviews for this title in the series, included reviews of first book.
School Library Journal (May 1, 2014)
Gr 1-3-Ricky Ricotta is a little guy who is always picked on. That is, until Dr. Stinky McNasty's plot to destroy the city by a giant, evil robot goes awry. The evil robot would rather be Ricky's friend than cause mass destruction. This reboot of the original title of the same name (Scholastic, 2000) includes all-new, full-color illustrations by Santat. Paired with Pilkey's minimal text, these images offer a new generation of readers a fun introduction to chapter books. The story includes Flip-O-Ramas (two-page flip book-style animations) that will make the story truly come alive. There are also several graphic novel-style pages that will attract hesitant readers. Newly independent readers and Pilkey fans alike will not be disappointed by this humorous ride.-Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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6/25/2015 16:26:04Illusions of Fate
Junior High (grades 7-9), Senior High (grades 10-12)
Klaudia Janekkjanek@bloomfield.orgInternational Academy
Bloomfield Hills School District
White, Kiersten
HarperTeen an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
2014275978006213896$17.995Q4PHighly recommended
White’s new novel had me from the beautiful illustration on the cover to each chapter having a blackbird stare at you while turning the page. Jessamin is from the island of Melei, which is a colony of Albion. She has earned/bribed her way into a boarding school and found a room at a local hotel, where she also works part time. She has mostly kept to herself until she bumps into Finn (Lord Ackerly) and her world changes. Her introduction into this magical world began with torture and then she was thrown into the world of nobility, which was very unexpected. This new world is full of magic, political intrigue and deception. Jessamin does not have any magical powers, but she has the brains to think herself out of seemingly impossible situations.

The setting is very reminiscent of Victorian London, but in an alternate reality with different names. Jessamin is a colonist, thus a second class citizen. She only came to Albion to get an education. Her father, who is a professor at her school, got her in but doesn’t really support her in any other way. Finn is breaking all the rules of nobility by associating with Jessamin, but he inadvertently got her involved in his world. This book is a blend of historical fiction, magic, romance and adventure. Jessamin is the narrator and it reads like realistic fiction. White created a few likeable characters that will grow on the reader and the evil Lord Downpike is a well portrayed as a villain. I disagree with the Kirkus review that says the characters are stereotypical because the twists at the end were quite unexpected to me. I would say that this book would be appropriate for most high school libraries. There is nothing controversial that stood out to me. I love that Jessamin was smart, good at math and logic, took her studies seriously and was brave in the face of danger. This book could be used for free reading and would fit well with fantasy and paranormal book displays in the school library. I really enjoyed this fantastical world. It was a gripping, fun read that is perfect for vacation or summer reading.
Grades 7-10 Jessamin struggles to get a foothold in her adopted country of Albion. She works hard and studies hard, hoping to soon return to Melei, where she can help her people. But in this strange land with magical undercurrents, Jessamin is swept away by powerful people with even more powerful forces. When she first meets Finn, she is surprised that a nobleman would pay her any attention. His attraction turns dangerous when Finn’s enemy, the evil Lord Downpike, sees threatening and controlling Jessamin as a way to keep hold of Finn. White’s world of Albion is an enticing blend of Victorian sensibilities and scenery and dark magic. Jessamin, meanwhile, is a clever young woman with a strong sense of self, and she navigates an unfamiliar place, as well as social strata, without magic of her own, yet still keeps her head held high. The relationship between Finn and Jessamin is sometimes fraught but ultimately rewarding, and side characters are well drawn. Readers will eagerly await the next installment of this paranormal, romantic, and historical adventure. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Ever since Paranormalcy (2010), White has been a dependable best-seller, and the planned media outreach for this new series should help keep her there. -- Booth, Heather (Reviewed 08-01-2014) (Booklist, vol 110, number 22, p66)
Jessamin Olea has been sent away from her native island of Melei to attend school in the dull and sinister Albion, a country that bears a vague resemblance to Victorian England.While struggling with her studies and fighting both homesickness and poverty, Jessamin comes literally under the spell of a mercurial aristocrat named Finn Ackerly, who returns her affections and attempts to protect her from the evil, sadistic Lord Downpike. The rebellious and headstrong girl refuses the attempts of the various Alben nobility to protect her, even as the elite struggle to gain control of Albion's colonies. All hell breaks loose when Jessamin inadvertently takes possession of Lord Downpike's familiar, a black bird that morphs into a book of spells on occasion but protects Jessamin from the worst of the magic. Downpike's attempts to recover the bird/book and Jessamin's frantic pursuit of the captured Finn through a maze of magic portals and strongholds make for a thrilling if confusing narrative. Jessamin's engaging first-person, present-tense narration does not entirely compensate for the tenuous logic of the plot and the preponderance of stereotyped characters.Not really enough substance to make a satisfying read even for paranormal addicts. (Paranormal romance. 12-17) (Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2014)
88
6/26/2015 12:15:22
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel!
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyScholasticScholastic2014129780545533645$4.993Q4PAdditional selection
This is a cute board book using the dreidel song (dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of clay...) as the text. Various animals - bears, mice, raccoons, beavers and owls - act out the dreidel song in illustrations. And they will have questions about dreidels so it will be good for some discussion. The board book is in the shape of a dreidel so that and the story will, of course, have young children wanting to try spinning dreidels. It is too bad one could not be included with the book or at least a cardboard cutout that could be made into a dreidel. Young children will enjoy the short story, bright illustrations and animals.
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89
6/26/2015 12:22:06Eight Jolly Reindeer
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2)
Judy Hauser
judy.hauser@oakland.k12.mi.us
Oakland SchoolsOakland CountyScholasticScholastic2014169780545651455$6.993Q4PAdditional selection
This is a very short, simple board book for young children about Santa and his eight reindeer. The story starts with 8 reindeer and as they go "up" one at a time it gets down to 1 but then you see all 8 up in the air helping Santa. The text is in rhyming verse. The illustrations are bright and bold and young children will enjoy them especially the tabs around two edges of the book with a closeup of the face of each reindeer.
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90
6/29/2015 11:15:35Fugitive X
Senior High (grades 10-12)
Stephanie Wilson
stephanie.wilson@clarencevilleschools.org
Clarenceville Middle School
Clarenceville SchoolsRosenblum, GreggHarper2013261978-0-06-212597-217.994Q4PHighly recommended
Fugitive X ratchets up the intensity of the story that began in Revolution 19. Nick, Kevin and Cass narrowly escape the city and the Bots. They quickly decide their best chance for survival lies in locating a Freepost and joining with its citizens. Their plans quickly turn to ash when Kevin disappears and Cass is gravely wounded by a Bot attack. Nick reluctantly leaves Cass to the Bots and escapes further into the woods. The Bots return Cass to the city for healing and re-education.
Nick is Fugitive X and the novel primarily follows Nick’s story as he tries to locate his siblings and reunite his family. The novel deftly splits the action between Kevin’s survival on the island, Cass’s new life in the city and Nick’s life in the new Freepost. The Freeposters warily accept Nick and his offer to help fight the Bots. Cass becomes reunited with her family and readily accepts her new life. Kevin divides his time between work detail on the island and tinkering with tech equipment at the governor’s behest.
Rosenblum easily weaves the diverse plot threads of the novel into a cohesive whole. The novel never becomes a victim of its own cleverness nor fails to keep the reader engaged. The language provides the proper balance of action and description. Fans of Revolution 19 provide a ready-made audience. The novel can be read without reading Revolution 19 but it makes more sense when read in order. The novel has strong appeal for both male and female readers. The female characters are not coddled or protected. They participate in the action to the same degree as the male characters.
The novel is not recommended for younger teens or sensitive readers. Most of the action scenes contain violence and some of the violence is pretty graphic. The ruthlessness of these scenes is central to the action and adds to the intensity of the novel. Parents and teachers might object to the violence but it is not gratuitous. The language is clean and characters frequently say “rust” instead of the typical curse word. The target audience is clearly fans of science fiction and novels like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner. The novel is best suited for pleasure reading. The novel would make a great addition to a high school or middle school library.
Kirkus:
Can Kevin, Nick and Cass survive apart in a robot-controlled world? Fresh from an unsuccessful attempt to free their parents from the robot-controlled City (Revolution 19, 2013), 13-year-old technology expert Kevin, his adopted older sister, Cass, and his older brother, Nick, set out to find a robot-free Freepost like the one where they grew up, as well as their liberated City friends, Lexi and Farryn. After a disagreement, Kevin is abducted by robots who seem friendly. Chasing them, Cass suffers an accident that brings her to the brink of death. Nick can only watch as City robots take her away. Still trying desperately to find Kevin, Nick accepts the help of enigmatic Erica, but bots dog their every step. Kevin discovers an enclave where robots and humans work together; Cass is brainwashed and returned to her birth family; and Nick joins the rebels as he continues his search for his siblings. Will the trio be able to reunite and find their friends? Picking up where the first left off, Rosenblum's second could stand alone, but it's best read as a sequel. There's no great character development or innovative plotting, but good action sequences and an interesting future milieu make this fine pleasure reading. Devised by the minds behind 24 and Homeland, can a TV series be far behind? A sequel isn't. (Science fiction. 12-16)(Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2013)
No other reviews available.
91
7/6/2015 16:41:40
License to Thrill (The Genius Files series)
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldGutman, DanHarperCollins2015251978-0-06-223632-6$16.994Q3PRecommended
In this fifth and last book of The Genius Files series, 13-year-olds, Coke and Pepsi finish their cross-country road trip with their family. In this final episode, the twins get abducted by aliens, trapped with a venomous snake, pushed through a deadly turbine and thrown into a volcano. Of course they escape each one of these deadly adventures and it almost looks like their family will meet their doom as they have broken down in Death Valley with no food, water, or air conditioning. They are saved by Mrs. Higgins, who has turned from her evil ways. Then at the end, the twins finally are able to get rid of Dr. Warsaw once and for all and convince their parents that every adventure they had really was true. Their dad decides that their adventures would make a great series and thus he writes the Genius Files.
This series is not for everyone, but for those students who like danger, action, and silliness, this book will be perfect for them. Even though it is book 5 in the series, the author does a good job of retelling the highlights from the previous books, so it could be read out of order (but would suggest starting with the first book anyways for continuity). During the family’s road trip, they stop and visit many interesting and weird attractions which could lead to further study of other unusual attractions in our country. Students could be asked to write a travel log for their own state or any state they are learning about. Teachers can use this book as a springboard for using Google maps as Gutman includes Google Map directions in his chapters. This book in the series takes them through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California and thus can be used in conjunction with the study of the western region of the United States. Since the twins must solve ciphers, students could also do further research on secret codes and other ciphers, perhaps even making up their own. With the high level of action that takes place when the twins are trying to escape from their enemies, teachers can use the text for discussions centering around Common Core standard RL.4.3 “Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story, drawing on specific details in the text.” Since this book is a part of a series, teachers can have students work in book clubs to read all 5 of the books and then have them “Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the author takes.” (College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard 9)
Booklist April 15, 2015 (Online)
Grades 4-7. After the opening chapter cleverly reintroduces characters and memorable moments from book one to the cliff-hanger that closed book four, the twins’ alien abduction adventure concludes and the McDonald family vacation continues. In the backseat of the Ferrari, Coke and Pep attempt to decipher clues in time to foil evil Dr. Warsaw while their road trip winds through New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. Grayscale illustrations include many photos of roadside attractions. And from time to time, Gutman renews his page-one promise to readers that, yes, Coke will be thrown into a volcano before the end of the book, the final volume in the amusing Genius Files series.
Only one review available for this book, so included is a review of a previous book in series:
Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2011)
Twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald squeak through numerous murder attempts at roadside attractions across the Midwest and on eastward. After berating readers who skipped the opener, Mission Unstoppable (2011), Gutman picks up his unconventional cross-country travelogue where he left off. He takes the RV holding his 13-year-old brainiacs and their oblivious parents from the National Mustard Museum in Spring Green, Wisc., to the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. Along the way, he pauses to suspend the sibs in French-fry cages over boiling oil outside the first McDonald's, imprison them in glass vats of soft-serve ice cream at Ohio's spectacular Cedar Point Amusement Park, lock them inside Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum (with a Megadeth track cranked up to mind-blowing level) and subject them to other perils. What's up? It seems aptly named bad guy Archie Clone and other assassins are out to kill, or perhaps test, them before they can join a secret organization of child geniuses and collect a huge reward. Tucking in small photos, instructions for following the route on Google Maps, facts about attractions large and small and mysterious ciphered messages, the author brings his confused but resourceful youngsters to an explosive climax and a shocking revelation that guarantees further adventures on the road back to the left coast. Nothing spices up a boring road trip like moments of extreme terror. (Adventure. 10-12)
92
7/6/2015 17:10:26
Shifty Business (The Adventures of Jo Schmo series)
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldTrine, Greg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2013105978-0-547-80796-6$12.993Q3PRecommended
This is book number 3 in The Adventure of Jo Schmo series featuring 4th grade, superhero, Jo and her doggy sidekick Raymond. In this adventure, a crime wave hits her city of San Francisco. Headed by the villain, Numb Skull, a group of ‘bad guys” start a crime spree that keeps Jo busy. The ultimate goal if for Numb Skull and Dyno-Mike to sink and rob a cruise ship full of gazillionaires. While trying to capture the bad guys, Jo is also trying to master her new super power, shape shifting. While experimenting with this super power, her shape changes from Frankenstien, to a werewolf, to her school teacher. Like the other books in this series, Jo manages to outsmart the villains, brings Numb Skull to justice and helps keep her beloved city safe from crime.
The books in The Adventures of Jo Schmo series (currently 4 books) are just right for readers who love books full of silliness and superheroes, like Captain Underpants. This series, however, features a girl heroine/superhero so these books may have a greater appeal to girls. The books in this series are full of far-fetched plans, silliness and fun super powers. Teachers can use this series as a part of a small group book club and have students read 2 or more books in the series in order to “Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters.” (Common Core RL.3.9) Since these chapter books have quite a few illustrations in them, students can also “Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story.” (Common Core Standard RL.3.7)
Horn Book Guide Spring 2014
Fourth-grade superhero Jo is honing a new talent--shape-shifting--and must channel it to stop villain Numb Skull's latest machinations (Shifty); Jo and pup Raymond get on the bad side of time-traveling pirates who team up with her nemeses for revenge (Pinkbeard's). Madcap to the max, these installments will please established series fans and newbies alike. Dormer's childlike line drawings enliven the antics. [Review covers these The Adventures of Jo Schmo titles: Pinkbeard's Revenge and Shifty Business.]
Kirkus Reviews June 1, 2013
Defending San Francisco is a busy job for fourth-grade girl superhero Jo Schmo, who faces a cunning villain in this third book in the series. Numb Skull is a retired boxer who "used to be a good guy, or at least an okay guy, but every time he was smacked in the head in the boxing ring, he lost a little of his good-guyness and his okay-guyness, until there was nothing left to do but pursue a life of crime." He schemes to blow up a cruise ship carrying gazillionaires so that when it sinks, he can, via his submarine, steal the gazillionaires' priceless jewels. In order to keep Jo Schmo from interfering, he runs her ragged by organizing a "crime tsunami," which is more crime than a crime wave, which in turn is more than a crime ripple. Jo finds more difficulties in her attempts to master a new superpower, shape-shifting, which happens uncontrollably when she sleeps or sneezes. The convoluted time structure, slipping back and forth between flashbacks and current action, occasionally confuses, which will keep the target early-elementary audience on its toes. The playful illustrations have an anything-goes feel to them that matches the text's punchy puns, wordplay and occasional fourth-wall breakage. While there's no doubt that Jo Schmo will eventually bring Numb Skull to justice, there's enough hilarity and unexpectedness in the zany, quick jokes to keep readers guessing how. (Adventure. 6-9)
93
7/6/2015 17:32:03
Pinkbeard’s Revenge (The Adventures of Jo Schmo series)
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldTrine, greg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2013118978-0-547-80797-3$12.993Q3PRecommended
This is book number 4 in The Adventure of Jo Schmo series featuring 4th grade, superhero, Jo and her doggy sidekick Raymond. In this adventure, Dr. Dastardly and Numb Skull escape from prison. At the same time, a band of pirates have time-traveled and land themselves at a fashion show in San Francisco. While working on her latest super power, invisibility Jo and Raymond are able to stop all the pirates except for Pinkbeard. Dr. Dastardly, Numb Skull and Pinkbeard join forces to seek revenge on Jo by kidnapping her weaknesses (Kevin, Mitch and David). They also manage to dognap Raymond. While trying to rescue them, Jo is forced to walk the plank, but is saved by Jasper the reporter and Raymond. With the help of her sidekicks and the Coast Guard, all the villains are captured and the day is saved once again.
The books in The Adventures of Jo Schmo series (currently 4 books) are just right for readers who love books full of silliness and superheroes, like Captain Underpants. This series, however, features a girl heroine/superhero so these books may have a greater appeal to girls. The books in this series are full of far-fetched plans, silliness, super powers and themes of good vs evil. With so many super hero books available in many different genre formats, this series can be used with others to “Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes or topics (opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events in stories, myths, and traditional literature.” (Common Core Standard RL.4.9) Teachers can also use this series to have discussions on Common Core Standard RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story from the details in the text, including how characters in a story respond to challenges.”
Kirkus Reviews October 15, 2013
Fourth-grade girl superhero Jo Schmo faces three revenge-hungry villains. While Jo masters new techniques--the Tasmanian Chop and invisibility (useful for sneaking into movies, not so useful for avoiding being sat on by fat people)--Dr. Dastardly and Numb Skull bond in prison over their mutual hatred of her. Their jailbreak uses exploding macaroni and a giant slingshot made from underwear elastic. Meanwhile, a crew of time-traveling pirates led by Pinkbeard (he was Blackbeard until he drank too much pink lemonade) travels to the future to see if modern times offer more money, better-tasting grog and cuter women. They find it all at a wine tasting/fashion show before being trounced by Jo. Pinkbeard, the only pirate to escape, encounters Dr. Dastardly and Numb Skull as they plot revenge on Jo and joins them. After Googling Jo Schmo's vulnerabilities (three boys she has crushes on and her dog, Raymond), the terrible trio abduct the boys and Raymond in a plot that includes "an enormous piece of bacon dancing in the moonlight." Sometimes, especially early on, chattiness and repetition threaten to bog things down, but the lively action and illustrations propel the story forward to a drool-filled fight on a pirate ship. Packed with warped logic, twisted common sense and silly hijinks--offbeat fun. (Adventure. 6-9)
Horn Book Guide Spring 2014
Fourth-grade superhero Jo is honing a new talent--shape-shifting--and must channel it to stop villain Numb Skull's latest machinations (Shifty); Jo and pup Raymond get on the bad side of time-traveling pirates who team up with her nemeses for revenge (Pinkbeard's). Madcap to the max, these installments will please established series fans and newbies alike. Dormer's childlike line drawings enliven the antics. [Review covers these The Adventures of Jo Schmo titles: Pinkbeard's Revenge and Shifty Business.]
94
7/8/2015 12:03:00
Chocolate: sweet science and dark secrets of the world's favorite treat
Senior High (grades 10-12), Adult
Karen Becknell
bookwoman@mi.rr.com
Frydenborg, Kay
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
20152520-544-17568-2$19.004Q2PAdditional selection
The title is engaging, as is the subject and most of the material within. However, as I read, I wondered how many young adult readers would stick with this book. It is as complete as it could possibly be, and current. The information could have been presented in a more engaging format. The author who has been part of a “Scientists in the Field” team, envisioned a similar format for this book, but her editor at HMH, encouraged her to “think about a much bigger, more ambitious book that I’d had in mind.” I think this was a mistake for the following reasons:

The author uses an historical event to introduce the book: the rise of the price of chocolate after the second world war prompted a strike by children in a small Canadian town, leading to stepping back in time to Mesoamerica an the native Mayan, Olmec and Aztec cultures which prized the seeds of cacao tree so much it was used as currency. Descriptions and explanations of the cultures and how they cultivated and used cacao fill the next four chapters broken up by unappealing black and white photos as well as historical inserts which are distracting. The rise of European chocolatiers follows, along with their influence on the American chocolate industry. Frydenborg then moves to the scientists who are mapping the DNA of cacao and searching for “pure” original cacao. This then leads to the destruction of the original strain through overplanting, indiscriminate agriculture and the decimation of the Central and South American rainforests.

This work can be a great teaching example of the value of diligent research. The author ends with a timeline of important dates, an excellent bibliography, and a webology. All-in-all a commendable albeit an unappealing read. Inserted in the middle are color plates – which remind me of the non-fiction of the 50s and 60s. I thought we were past that. There are printing problems. Several times I found misspellings as on p.170, and spots where carets (>) took the place of letters in words as on p. 246. For the price editing needs to be much better. The review copy of the book was not well bound. There was no front flyleaf, and the title page has already begun to pull loose. Problems noted, if you need a comprehensive work on chocolate this would be an Additional Purchase because the research is outstanding, even though the format is not.
Publishers Weekly:
Frydenborg (Wild Horse Scientists ) examines the considerable impact, both good and bad, that chocolate and the cacao tree have had and continue to have on cultures around the globe in this wide-ranging treatment of the subject. Primarily a chronological history of the tropical plant and its deliciously addictive by-products, the fascinating, fast-moving narrative also delves into the socioeconomic, scientific, and culinary importance of the cacao bean. Recipes, from Aztec foaming chocolate to Toll House cookies, conclude many of the 13 chapters, which include “Tree of Myth and Money” and “Candy, Food, or Medicine?” A full-color insert includes photos of the tree itself and modern-day Peruvian cacao farmers, as well as reproductions of artwork depicting Mesoamerican people and events touched by chocolate. With a rise in social justice, sustainable food sourcing, and global warming, the author considers how the crop might benefit the Amazonian rainforest and its native peoples: “Could chocolate be the key to preserving this precious, threatened ecosystem and to helping people whose livelihood depends on it?” A bibliography, website list, and time line conclude this expansive chocolate primer. Ages 12–up. (Apr.) â– --Staff (Reviewed March 2, 2015) (Publishers Weekly, vol 262, issue 09, p)

Kirkus:
Stories of ancient cultures, religion, conquest, slavery, privilege, invention, medicine, culinary experimentation, science and more are all confected together in this flavorful, richly textured historical chronicle of chocolate.Once confined to religious rituals and royalty, consumption of chocolate is now an $83 billion worldwide business, with the average European eating 24 pounds per year and the average U.S. citizen, 11 pounds per year. Frydenborg begins this fascinating history in Mesoamerica, where cocoa beans were used as currency; it was so valuable that its consumption was reserved for emperors. The conquistadors brought cocoa to Europe, where its popularity grew quickly among the privileged. With the decimation of indigenous populations thanks to European invaders, African slaves had to be imported for cocoa bean cultivation. The kind of chocolate we know today was developed through experimentation in the 19th century. We have the Swiss to thank for milk chocolate and the Dutch for the chocolate bar. The author lays it all out in a lively text punctuated by archival illustrations, photographs and sidebars, taking care to impress upon readers that even today, chocolate is more than just dessert. Its medicinal properties and applications have long been noted, as has its usefulness as a stimulant. A deliciously informative, engaging and sweeping chronicle of one of the most popular treats in the world. (timeline, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 12-18)(Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2015)

95
7/11/2015 14:43:08Smasher
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldBly, ScottScholastic2014250978-0-545-14118-516.994Q3PRecommended
Charlie is a twelve year old genius from the year 1542 who is brought to the year 2042 to help save the world. Geneva, a robot resembling a teenage girl, chooses Charlie for his abilities with magic, which he calls "the Hum”. They need to stop CEO Gramercy Foxx, who is about to unleash a new technology is called "The Future". Foxx claims his technology will bring about peace and harmony, but it really is meant to enslave humanity. Charlie needs to not only master his “Hum” skills but also 21st- century technology. Working with Geneva, they are able to uncover his evil plans and save the world. At the end of the story, Charlie has the skills and confidence to go back into his own time and lead a better life.
This book will be appreciated by those readers who like sci-fi adventure stories, such as the Artemis Fowl series by Colfer or the Missing series by Haddix. This book could be used for a small book club of readers who like sci-fi, dangerous situations, and “save the world” stories. This story includes themes such as good vs evil, friendship, and teamwork so teachers could also use this story for Common Core standard RL.4.2 & RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story, drama or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.” Since the main characters in this story must piece together what they learn about “the Hum” and “The Future”, classes can have discussions centering on Common Core standard RL.4.2 “Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.” Middle school teachers may also want to use this book as a spring board for discussions on ethics in technology and science.
Booklist March 15, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 14)
Grades 3-6. Awkward medieval kid Charlie strikes back against evil 500 years in the future in this grand sci-fi tale. Charlie, who is gifted with magical abilities, is stuck in his grandfather’s hideout in England in 1542, avoiding the attentions of the violent mob who killed other members of his family with the same gift. One day, Charlie is astonished to be rescued from local toughs by a robot girl, Geneva, who needs his help to save the world. Geneva is from future Los Angeles, where creepy Gramercy Foxx is creating computer viruses that do more than disrupt computer systems, and he has set his sights on merging technology with biology. If Geneva can get Charlie to figure out the future, he can use his magic and his smarts to stop Foxx’s dangerous plans. Debut author Bly smashes time travel and robots together with the fantasy of magic in a fun, adventurous way. Charlie’s a hero for smart, quiet kids, who will find a lot to love in this story.
Kirkus Reviews February 1, 2014
A robot girl transports Charlie from medieval Europe to a futuristic Los Angeles with the explanation that only he can save the world. Almost all of Charlie's family has been killed for their ability to harness the Hum, a mysterious force that gives the wielder unimaginable power. Charlie has been taught that the Hum is to be used with love, but in LAanges the Hum is being used to terrible effect by Gramercy Foxx, a ruthless genius focused on world domination. When Charlie and his robot friend, Geneva, discover Foxx's animal-experimentation lab, where he is attempting to alter a computer virus to infect human DNA, they know they must stop him no matter the cost. It is not until Charlie returns to his time and discovers Foxx's true identity that it becomes personal. The fast-paced plot, supersaturated with technology and complex puzzles, is warmed by Geneva and Charlie's unlikely friendship. Foxx is the consummate villain, preying on children and animals without remorse--a predilection that is not soft-pedaled in the text, particularly with regard to animals, which will put readers squarely in Geneva and Charlie's court. An unusual premise vibrates with a combination of science and magic. (Fantasy. 8-12)
96
7/23/2015 19:18:53Case for Loving
Primary (preK-K), Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Judy Hauser
beverlybanks@wlcsd.org
Meadowbrook ElemWalled LakeSchoolsAlko, SelinaArthur Levine Books201530978-0-545-47853-318.995Q5PHighly recommended
Beautifully illustrated and timely picture book on the Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia. The case is about an interracial couple (the husband White, the wife Black) who marry in Washington, DC in the 1960's and move to their hometown in Virginia where they are arrested, jailed and told their marriage is not recognized in Virginia. It's strange in these times to think that not so long ago marriage between people of different races let alone same sex marriage was against the law in many states. They took their case to the Supreme court where they won and changed the law across America. This book is illustrated by the husband and wife team of Sean Qualls and Selina Alko using bold colors. This book contains no strong language and so it would be appropriate for any grade level. It could be used as a talking point for marriage equality, civil rights, race relations, and diversity issues. I was deeply moved in reading this simply written yet powerful story on the power of love. I would highly recommend adding it to any elementary collection.
The Horn Book
JUNE 17, 2015 BY ROGER SUTTON
The 1967 Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage throughout the country is here given a picture-book accounting. Richard Loving was white, Mildred Jeter’s skin was a “creamy caramel”; despite their different racial backgrounds, they fell in love and married, only to be arrested for miscegenation when they returned to their Virginia hometown after the wedding. It’s a story about adults and with potentially much legalese, but Alko does a mostly admirable job of shaping the love story and the legal proceedings for a young audience. There is, however, a haziness about skin color and racial identity throughout the book that can be unclear, with lyrical references to “people of every shade” bumping confusingly with “colored,” and “black”; meanwhile, the term “interracial marriage” is used but not defined. While the book is honest about the obstacles the Lovings faced, its message and tone are optimistic, the feel-good atmosphere reinforced by the pencil, paint, and collage illustrations by Alko and Qualls (themselves partners in an interracial marriage). With soft, worn shades providing a gently old-timey aura, even a scene like the police busting in on the sleeping couple is sufficiently dramatic without being frightening. Frequent festoons of hearts and flowers, nice but overly decorative, help, too. Sources and a suggested reading list are appended.
School Library Journal by Elizabeth Bird

When the Supreme Court ruled on June 26, 2015 that same-sex couples could marry in all fifty states, I found myself, like many parents of young children, in the position of trying to explain the ramifications to my offspring. Newly turned four, my daughter needed a bit of context. After all, as far as she was concerned gay people had always had the right to marry so what exactly was the big deal here? In times of change, my back up tends to be children’s books that discuss similar, but not identical, situations. And what book do I own that covers a court case involving the legality of people marrying? Why, none other than The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by creative couple Selina Alko and Sean Qualls. It’s almost too perfect that the book has come out the same year as this momentous court decision. Discussing the legal process, as well as the prejudices of the time, the book offers to parents like myself not just a window to the past, but a way of discussing present and future court cases that involve the personal lives of everyday people. Really, when you take all that into consideration, the fact that the book is also an amazing testament to the power of love itself . . . well, that’s just the icing on the cake.
97
7/25/2015 15:26:45
Shivers!. I,The pirate who's afraid of everything
Lower Elem (grades 1-2), Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West Bloomfield
Bondor-Stone, Annabeth
HarperCollins2015178978-0-06-231387-4$12.993Q3PRecommended
This is the first book in a new series about Shivers, a 9-year-old pirate who is afraid of everything. At an early age, his pirate parents realized that a life at sea would not work for Shivers, so they made a beached boat house for him to live on while they went on their pirate adventures. In this story, Shivers learns that his parents and brave older brother Brock are missing and only Shivers is left to find and rescue them. He sets off to sea with is new best friend Margo and his fish, Albee. They encounter a lot of trouble and mishaps, but at the end they save his family and find the elusive Treasure Torch as well. Shivers also learns that even though he has a lot of fears, he has a lot of courage too and he may be ready for more adventures with Margo and Albee at his side.
This book is just right for readers who love books full of silliness, adventure and unlikely heroes. Fans of books like How to be a Pirate by Cowell, Captain Underpants by Pilkey and The not So-Jolly Roger by Scieszka will enjoy this hilarious pirate book. Graphic novel readers who want to venture into chapter books will appreciate all of the action packed cartoon drawings. This book is full of far-fetched plans, silliness, and themes of good vs evil and fear vs courage. With so many pirate books available in many different genre formats, this book can be used with others during class book clubs to “Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes or topics and patterns of events in stories, myths, and traditional literature.” (Common Core Standard RL.4.9) Teachers can also use this series to have discussions on Common Core Standard RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story from the details in the text, including how characters in a story respond to challenges.” Since part of this story takes place on the Statue of Liberty, teachers could use this book as a fun way to introduce our beloved national symbol.
Kirkus Reviews November 15, 2014
Get ready for a breathlessly paced pirate adventure starring Shivers, who is terrified of just about everything. The fearful 11-year-old, the youngest in his family of pirates, begins the story with an overreaction to his beeping alarm clock. The liberal use of capitalized dialogue ("LOAD THE CANNONS! SWAB THE POOP DECK!") makes it clear that Shivers is easily freaked out. When a carrier pigeon delivers a plea for help from his parents, he goes to the police station for some help. Good thing spunky Margo, two years his junior and the police chief's daughter, is craving some true adventure. The unlikely duo sets sail and encounters colorful characters. Here the authors' language often impresses with its rich and humorous descriptions: "In a deep voice that sounded like pancake syrup dripping down a jagged rock, he bellowed, '...I am Captain Pokes-You-in-the-Eye!' " Man-eating sharks, a giant squid and a villain with a passion for mustard are all part of the over-the-top journey. Cartoonish illustrations in black and white by Holden further emphasize the crazy antics that rapidly move the characters on until their heroic climb of the Statue of Liberty and one final, colossal panic attack that brings the slapstick story to a tidy conclusion. While the premise is initially hard to accept given its pure ridiculousness, fans of Captain Underpants and the Wimpy Kid may find Shivers more hilarious than overwrought. (Fiction. 8-11)
Booklist June 1, 2015 (Online)
Grades 3-5. Poor Shivers! Even at 11, he’s afraid of almost everything. But life is about to change, as a carrier pigeon alights on his window, bearing a desperate note from his parents. Shivers must respond! He musters courage to seek help from the police and is surprised when it’s Chief Clomps’n’Stomps’ 9-year-old daughter, Margo, who says, “Let’s go find them!” Shivers, Margo, and Albee (Shivers’ pet fish) embark on a fearful yet hilarious journey from New Jersey to Liberty Island. Along the way, they encounter pirates, a giant squid, sharks, the crazy Cruise Captain, and, finally, a slimy sludge of spicy mustard. Just inside Lady Liberty’s toes they find Shivers’ family and a hoard of pirates slaving in the great Mustardio’s hot-dog factory. Score! Font variations, dialogue, and Holden’s hilarious black-and-white comic illustrations are sure to engage fans of Captain Underpants.
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7/25/2015 16:03:55Galaxy's most wanted
Upper Elem (grades 3-5)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldKloepfer, JohnHarperCollins2014208978-0-06-223101-7$12.993Q3PRecommended
In this first book of a new series by Kloepfer, Kevin, Warner, TJ, and Tara are at a STEM camp and want to win the camp’s invention convention. They create a device to communicate with aliens, which they read about in a comic book and to their amazement it worked. When they see a spaceship land in their camp, they rescue an alien named Mim. At first, they believe the cute alien is friendly and is hiding out from interstellar bad guys. But they discover that Mim is really a dangerous creature set out to destroy Earth. With the help of other aliens and their own genius brains, the 4 friends send Mim through a wormhole thus saving their camp and the entire planet. At the end, they discover more aliens are on their way to Earth and it will take their combined genius efforts to outsmart this new threat.
This is a fun adventure/sci-fi book that will be enjoyed by readers who love inventions, camp stories or alien invasion books. Fans of the Smekday series by Rex or the Max Flash series by Zucker may also enjoy this new series. Of course fans of Kloepfer’s Zombie Chasers series will probably want to read this one as well. The 4 main characters are quirky, smart and likeable, even when what they do is very unbelievable. This story can lead to some interesting discussions on problem solving, the importance of honesty, and working together for a common goal. Teachers can also use this story to work Common Core standard RL.5.2 “Determine a theme of a story from details in the text, including how characters in a story respond to challenges.” This book would be a good choice for a small book club of students who are interested science, inventing, and the possibility of life in outer space. Students who are involved in STEM activities will probably appreciate the characters in this story and will be able to work on Common Core standard RL.4.3 “Describe in depth a character, setting or event in a story, drawing on specific details in the text.”
School Library Journal May 1, 2014
Gr 4-7-This is a suspenseful science-fiction adventure that will keep readers glued to the pages. The fast-paced story chronicles how Kevin, Warner, TJ, and Tara create a device to communicate with aliens to win the science-camp-invention convention. Excitement abounds when Mim, a friendly purple alien, crash-lands and becomes fast friends with the group after receiving their message. But when intergalactic bounty hunters begin touching down at science camp and hunting down Mim, things take a turn for the worst. Mim isn't really the last of his kind and is hiding on Earth; he's a world-destroying fugitive. Kevin, Warner, TJ, and Tara grow as a team and as friends throughout the story as they work to stop a terrible end for Earth. The accompanying illustrations add to the quirky nature of the story and reluctant readers will gravitate to its style. Libraries with built-in fans of Kloepfer will want to purchase, but it is also a good addition for collections in need of more science fiction or reluctant reader choices.-Ashley Prior, Lincoln Public Library, RI (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Reviews May 15, 2014
STEM camp is nerd heaven--until the aliens descend. Kevin and his friends Ward, Tara and TJ have to find a way to win the Invention Convention at Northwest Horizons science camp if for no other reason than to beat Kevin's nemesis, Alexander. Unfortunately, Alexander and his team, the Vainglorious Math Nerds, have built a working hovercraft. Kevin and his pals decide to build a galactascope, an interstellar communications device based on a comic book written by a man supposedly abducted by aliens…and it works! Responding to their summons, small, purple and furry Mim crashes into the camp lake. Can the friends keep Mim a secret until the Invention Convention? They're pretty crafty, so probably. But when more aliens descend, can they trust that all their new friend has told them is fact? Kloepfer's series kickoff is slow to start. It's only after the aliens arrive that the story shows signs of life and only toward the end that the fun actually lifts this above run-of-the-mill go-to-camp tales. The sequel, set up in the last couple pages, might well be fun from the start, since the preliminaries are now out of the way. Final art not seen. This offers a few smiles and a laugh or two while readers wait for the sequel. (Science fiction/humor. 8-11)
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7/29/2015 15:36:57
Zombies of the Caribbean
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldKloepfer, JohnHarperCollins2014197978-0-06-229024-3$16.993Q3PRecommended
In this 6th book in the Zombie Chasers series, Zack and his team, Zoe, Rice, Ozzie, Madison, and Olivia, continue to pursue their quest to save the world from the zombie virus and now the super zombie virus. They were chased off the coast of Florida by super zombies and have headed to the sea on a cruise ship. They are searching for an antidote and it seems like there is one person who can help them; Nigel Black, explorer and zombie expert. On their adventure they must outwit and fight decomposing pirates, sea creatures, and of course the super zombies. By the end of the story, they manage to acquire the main ingredient for the super zombie antidote and capture a super zombie specimen. However, their war against zombies is far from over.
This fantasy/adventure story has all the elements needed to attract many reluctant readers; creepy creatures, sarcastic & gross humor, lots of zombies and of course zombie battles. Students who enjoy reading zombie stories such as Legion of the Dead by Stewart and the Case File 13 series by Savage will enjoy this series. Since this is book number 6, reading the first 5 would help with better understanding the entire plot, but this book could be read on its own. Teachers can use this story to discuss themes of teamwork and cover Common Core standard RL.4.2 “Determine a theme of a story from details in the text; summarize the text.” This chapter book has quite a few illustrations in it making it useful for teachers to address Common Core standards like RL.3.7 “Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story”. Small book club groups can read this and other zombie fiction stories in order to create their own zombie or horror adventure stories.
Horn Book Guide Spring 2015
The Zombie Chasers leave Florida in search of the antidote, only to have their Caribbean cruise encounter a super zombie pirate ship. The high-seas adventure includes zombie sharks and barracudas; the serum comes up short, meaning series fans can anticipate a seventh adventure. (Will the world ever be saved?) Gross humor and gooey illustrations punctuate the romp.
Review from first book in the series:
School Library Journal November 1, 2010
Gr 5-7-Seventh-grader Zack Clarke's suburban Phoenix neighborhood seems normal-until almost everyone mysteriously transforms into a zombie. Zack, his geeky friend Rice, and his eighth-grade sister Zoe's glamorous but snarky friend Madison are seemingly the only ones unaffected. That means that all the zombies in the neighborhood-including Zoe-are determined to devour them. They need to defend themselves but can only find a plastic baseball bat and a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, Zack and Zoe's parents are at a parent-teacher night at their school-do they even know what's going on? This first volume in a new series leaves readers hanging at the end, but it's a quick, fun read, loaded with jokes and middle-school sarcasm. Kloepfer's descriptions of the zombies and their feeding habits, and Wolfhard's cartoon characters with guts and drool hanging out, are not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach).-Walter Minkel, Austin Public Library, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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7/29/2015 16:42:42
Evil Twins (Case file 13 series)
Upper Elem (grades 3-5), Middle School (grades 6-8)
Carrie Bulbuk
carrie.bulbuk@wbsd.org
Sheiko Elementary School
West BloomfieldSavage, J. ScottHarperCollins2014258978-0-06-213337-3$14.993Q3PRecommended
In this 3rd book in the Case File 13 series, Nick, Carter and Angelo, monster loving friends, begin this adventure with a camping trip with Nick’s parents. Unfortunately, their camping reservations get mixed up and they end up in a “keep out” private area that they thought was a campground. While there, the 3 boys find an unusual creature, they call “homunculus” and bring it home. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a doppelganger or shape-shifter. The creature gets loose and wreaks havoc with evil intentions among their neighborhood, pretending to be the boys, classmates, teachers, parents and others. With a lot of creepy chills and humorous situations, they eventually get the creature back to its home and things go back to normal. The story ends when Nick’s dad announces their next vacation; an archeological exploration of a newly discovered “cursed” pyramid in a Mexican rain forest.
This fantasy/adventure story is just right for monster loving readers or students who like to read about mythical creatures. Even though this is book number 3 in the series, it is not necessary to read the first two in order to understand the plot as this book is a stand-alone story. Upper elementary students who have read the first 2 books or who enjoy books like The Menagerie series by Sutherland will want to read this story. Teachers may want to use this book as an introduction to the world of mythical creatures in folklore and perhaps couple it with books like Field Guide to Monsters by Olander or Monsterology by Slade. Because there are many different genres of books that deal with mythical creatures, this book can be used to address Common Core Anchor Standard - Reading Literature 9 “Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.” Books in this series would be great for small group book clubs for readers who love the combination of silly humor and creepy adventure.
Review from first book in this series:
Kirkus Reviews starred November 1, 2012
Striking the perfect balance between rib-tickling humor and bone-chilling adventure, the first novel in Savage's new middle-grade series is sure to please young readers looking for a thrill. Nick, Carter and Angelo, otherwise known by their fellow sixth-graders as the "Three Monsterteers," are obsessed with the supernatural and all things Halloween. Nick is crushed when he learns that he will miss trick-or-treating with his buddies because he has to travel to New Orleans for his great-aunt's funeral. But when it turns out that she was a voodoo queen, the trip to Louisiana quite literally changes Nick's life. Back home in California, Carter and Angelo notice there's something different about their friend, and all the signs lead them to one conclusion: Nick's been turned into a zombie. It's pretty cool to have a zombie as a best friend, but when Nick starts losing body parts and develops a hankering for brains, the three boys set out on a desperate mission to change Nick back before it's too late. With clever commentary from a mysterious narrator at the start of each chapter, a trio of funny and enormously likable boy protagonists and plenty of creepy encounters to up the ante, Savage hits all the right notes. It's hard to imagine that readers (particularly boys) won't enjoy every minute of hair-raising fun. (Funny horror. 9-14)
Review from the second book in this series:
Kirkus Reviews July 15, 2013
The Three Monsterteers are back and ready for another hair-raising, funny-bone--tickling adventure (Zombie Kid, 2012). The only difference is that this time, like it or not, they've got help. When bodies go missing from the local cemetery, Nick, Angelo and Carter reluctantly agree that the only way they are going to solve the mystery is with the help of their monster-loving girl rivals Angie, Tiffany and Dana. The addition of the girls not only broadens the book's appeal, but adds a humorous layer of boy-girl interaction that preteen readers will get a kick out of. It's a battle of the sexes as the mystery leads them to an unusual private school with larger-than-life (literally) students and a mad-scientist headmaster with a demonic agenda. Though the headmaster's ultimate endgame is somewhat confusing, readers are sure to get more than a few thrills as the kids band together to uncover what's really going on at Sumina Prep. The stakes are raised even higher when their classmate Cody Gills goes missing, and the kids have every reason to believe that he will meet an untimely end unless they break into Sumina Prep and save him. The best and most satisfying part about this series is that the monsters and mystery are real and not figments of the kids' imaginations. Another thoroughly satisfying thrill ride. (Funny horror. 9-14)
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