2016. Disney bedtime favorites (3rd ed.). Disney Book Group. 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148473238-0. Illustrations by the Disney Storybook Art Team.
Eighteen bedtime stories from the Disney Enterprises will captivate youngsters, especially if the favorites are read-aloud to children before they fall asleep. The stories are based on Disney movies such as, Tangled: Bedtime for Max, Bambi: Good night Thumper, The Little Mermaid: Sweet dreams at last, Wreck-It Ralph: Power outage, Toy story 3: The big campout, Finding Nemo: Night games, and many other tales inspired by Disney classics. Although sleep may be the objective, caregivers reading the stories aloud should encourage conversations about the characters, conflicts, themes, settings, and conclusions. Of course, the stories can be read and re-read silently by children ages 5 – 8 trying to fall asleep. (DLN)
Asher, Sandy. 2016. Chicken story time. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3944-4. Illustrated by Mark Fearing.
Readers, ages 3 – 7, will enjoy this variation of the slogan “Don’t Forget to Read to Your Dog,” a phrase commonly posted on library walls. This cumulative tale of story time at the library with a librarian, a half a dozen children, and one chicken develops from a quiet and attentive setting to one of chaos, with flocks of chickens and a plethora of children. Eventually, a wise, clever librarian finds a solution to the bedlam. Bold primary colors convey the moods of each story time at the library and the large round eyes of all characters, the librarian, children, chickens, staff, convey first the respectful attentiveness of the children and chicken then the wild disorder in the library, followed by the peaceful resolution to the chaos. Readers will also discover a satisfying variation on the last double page spread as one youngster reads to her dog versus chickens. (DLN)
Atkinson, Cale. 2016. Explorers of the wild. Disney Book Group (Hyperion Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148472340-1.
The concept of youngsters exploring the wilderness without adult supervision may be appealing, but it is certainly a foolish idea. Although the cartoon like illustrations may convince readers, ages 3 – 7, the adventures of Boy and Bear is fantasy, adults should caution youngsters never to venture into woods alone or with a friend of comparable age. Regardless, the illustrations of Boy and Bear exploring the wilderness are extraordinary and adults can ask youngsters to search and find objects on each page; or predict the next scene after Boy and Bear run into each other on a path in the woods. (DLN)
Bachmann, Stefan. 2016. A drop of night. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow). 439pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-228992-6.
Anouk is a girl who doesn't belong anywhere.That is, until she and five other teenagers are summoned by the Sapani corporation for a mysterious, all-expenses-paid trip to France. After receiving lavish invitations and promises of an experience of a lifetime, will Anouk and her companions form a bond strong enough to let them face their inner demons and the challenges ahead? Dark, foreboding, and not for the faint of heart, this story blends old world France, high tech horror, and fast paced action, and is best suited for high school readers. (JE)
Bansch, Helga. 2016. At Night. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 41pp. $14.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5471-1.
Elephant sleeps in the tall grass, bird dreams in her lofty nest, leopard rests in a high tree branch, polar bear snores in her ice cave, and Manu rests softly in his bed. In this comforting read aloud for young children, all of the creatures fall asleep in their natural comfort places. In the quiet of night everyone and every place of sleep is as it should be. But what if things were turned upside down? As the print and pictures turn upside down, so do the resting places of the creatures. Just as in our dreams, polar bear is now in a doghouse, rabbit is upside down in a cave like bat, cat is purring in a burrow, and Manu dreams on a cloud with visions of chocolate and raspberry ice cream. Author/illustrator, Helga Bansch weaves soft, dreamy illustrations and words with little surprises, such as ducklings in a dog bowl or a hedgehog on a carrot that are tucked in the corners for readers to find. Children will enjoy how the book flips over at midpoint and the normal sleeping spots are totally changed. This is a nighttime read aloud that children will ask for again and again. (OJB)
Carter, Caela. 2016. My life with the liars. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperCollins Children's Books). 285pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238571-0.
12-year-old Zylynn has spent her life in a compound with a restrictive, radical cult. When she is released back to her father and family just days before her 13th birthday, she wrestles between truths and lies, reality and brainwashing. Zylynn views the outside world, where she gets fed every day and can wear colors other than white, with suspicion. It's not until Zylynn makes her way back to the compound that she unravels the truth. Her perspective and gradual realizations are both realistic and fascinating. Recommended for middle school readers and those who enjoy psychological plots and the Novel Room. (MC)
Coville, Bruce. 2016. Goblins on the prowl. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 260pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1441-9.
The sequel to the 20-year-old novel Goblins in the Castle finds friends Fauna and William on further adventures. Fauna finds her home ransacked by goblins and William kidnapped. What follows is a fast-paced, goofy story with plenty of laughs and creative supporting characters, including a ghost, a warrior woman, and of course, goblins. Middle school readers who enjoy fantasy, adventure, and humor should pick this one up. (MC)
Dixon, Franklin W. 2016. Hardy Boys adventures™:Bound for danger. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 144pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6831-2.
Joe and Frank Hardy, high school sleuths, are surprised when Principal Gerther adds them to the boys’ basketball team, especially since neither one tried out for the team. But Principal Gerter has good reason for adding the brothers to the winning team because there is a mystery to solve. This action filled detective story for young adults, ages 8 – 12, is incredible, but fans of the Hardy Boys will believe the unbelievable, including Tasing a corrupt assistant coach while flying in a helicopter – and then miraculously landing the helicopter. The plot and conflicts are thrilling, and readers will definitely experience all of the adventures with the brothers, Joe and Frank Hardy. (DLN)
Deuchars, Marion. 2016. Art play. Laurence King Publishing. 224pp. $19.95. ISBN 9781-9781-7806-78771.
This activity book encourages readers as well as blooming artists to nurture, experiment, and practice their skills in drawing, color, shapes, paint, paper, printing, and pattern. A list of materials artists and readers will need are included before Deuchars launches into directions for each activity, such as creating with pencils, drawing thoughts without words, playing with scribbles, exploring the color wheel, mixing primary colors, repeating patterns, and more. Altogether, Deuchars shares 50 guided activities for artists/readers to follow. It is a stellar collection of activities, suitable for children ages 7 and older, including adults in health and rehabilitation centers. (DLN)
Fleming, Denise. 2016. 5 little ducks. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2422-6.
The illustrations, created by pulp painting, a unique paper-making technique of colored cotton fiber poured through hand-cut stencils with pastel pencil accents, dominate this adaptation of a beloved traditional rhyming tale. In this adaptation Papa Duck, not the mother duck calls the ducks back. Mother Duck, however plays a critical role in this counting concept book within the context of the seven days of the week when she declares Sunday is the day the family rests. Each illustration is a double page spread of more than the mallard ducks and their journeys far away. Readers will also see a variety of other animals, such as, green frogs, flying squirrels, wild turkeys, box turtles, pigs, and Anna. Other creatures are also visible, but children may need to look carefully to find them; dragonflies, beetles, flies, a rabbit, a deer, a horse, crows, a cat, kittens, cows, squirrels, and a dog. End notes about the dominant animals in the story are informative and interesting. (DLN)
Hand, Cynthia, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. 2016. My lady Jane. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 491pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-239174-2.
Three well-known YA literature authors collaborated to create this funny, snarky, “revised” tale about Jane Grey, the ill-fated English queen who ruled for nine days before being beheaded. In this fantasy-laced historical retelling, book-obsessed Jane is introduced to Gifford, a man by night and a horse by day. Things are further complicated by the fact that young King Edward is being poisoned by conspirators. The story, alternatively told by these three characters, is fast-paced and funny, with snarky asides from the authors and sly references to Shakespeare and The Princess Bride. The story never takes itself too seriously, and neither should the reader. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction, fantasy, or poking fun at either one. (MC)
Jiang, Ji-li. 2016. Lotus & feather. Disney Hyperion. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142312754-3. Illustrated by Julie Downing.
Because of an illness, Lotus, a young girl cannot speak. Inspired by a true story from China, she is shunned by classmates and becomes consumed by loneliness until she rescues an endangered crane, shot in a wing by a poacher. Eventually Feather, the wounded crane heals and flies away, only to return with a female & chick, followed by hundreds of other cranes. Multiple themes are evident including loss, friendship, loneliness, wetland conservation, wildlife rescue, selflessness, love, compassion, inter generational relationships, empathy, and endangered species. The watercolor illustrations convey setting and mood, for example, when Lotus is lonely, she walks with slouching shoulders. When Lotus is in a boat with her grandfather on a lake, the illustration is predominantly gray, conveying an empty, dying habitat. Red drips from the wounded crane’s wing, conveying the crippling gunshot wound. When Feather dances for the children, the angles of his legs convey movement and when an earthquake threatens the village, the illustrations are dark, black, gray, misty dark blue, transmitting danger; yet, hope is evident by the lights shining from a lantern and window. Hope and salvation are evident when the pictures become brighter and colorful as purple, pink, red, and turquoise laundry hang on lines between houses. Hope is also transmitted with brighter pages, even when Feather flies away. The final double page spread of various hues of red convey the final feeling of hope and celebration of life as the lake is restored and the cranes return. (DLN)
Kono, Erin Eitter. 2016. Every color. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978- 0-8037-4132-4.
Bear, living in the north pole, is depressed because he is surrounded by white snow, white ice, and white animals, including a white bird, white rabbits, and white fox. He longs for color, and eventually a young girl comes to his rescue. They sail the world and Bear sees vibrant pinks in Holland, reds in London, orange, red, and yellows in Paris, followed by golden cities, green hills, blue sites (such as the Great Wall of China), and spectacular purple monuments, such as the Statue of Liberty. Bear records the color of all the sites and sends the pictures home to his friends. When Bear and the girl return home, he realizes the colors of the rainbow were always with him, reflected in the Northern Lights above the whiteness below. He, like readers, has learned how to see the beauty of the world in which he lives. (DLN)
Krulik, Nancy. 2016. Magic bone: Two tales, one dog.Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 192pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48877-6. Illustrated by Sebastien Braun.
Readers, ages 6 – 8, can explore two countries as Sparky’s magic bone first transports the dog to the Serengeti in Tanzania (Africa), then to India. Eventually the bone whisks Sparky home again to his beloved owner, Josh. Facts about the Serengeti and Agra India strengthen and complement the two settings and the multiple conflicts about the adventures of one magic bone and one charming dog, Sparky. (DLN)
Markel, Michelle. 2016. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 38pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-2381224.
This timely book chronicles the life and accomplishments of Hillary Rodham Clinton. It begins in the man’s world of the 1950’s where women faced many barriers to success. Hillary began to make her mark in elementary school through her scholarship and ability to organize her classmates to take on social issues. She moved on to excel in college and law school and worked in the summers to better the lives of migrant workers in Florida and register minority voters in Texas. After her marriage, she settled in Arkansas where she supported her husband, then Governor Bill Clinton, and raised her daughter, Chelsea, while establishing a solid legal career. When Bill won the presidency, Hillary moved to Washington, DC where she led a task force to establish affordable health care for all. The health care initiative was met with widespread derision and Hillary became a target of hatred, but she didn’t back down. She used her voice to promote better lives for women and children as a goodwill ambassador overseas. When her husband completed his presidency, Hillary ran a successful campaign to become a Senator for the state of New York. After an unsuccessful run for the presidency herself, Hillary became secretary of state under President Obama before returning to her Senate position. The book ends on these words, “No matter what Hillary does next, if she wants to change the world, she’ll find a way.” Author Michelle Markel provides several notable quotes from Hillary Clinton’s career including, “Women’s rights are human rights, once and for all,” spoken at the United Nations conference in China. She has also created a timeline of events in Hillary’s life and a selected bibliography. Illustrator Le Uyen Pham supports the text with bold, colorful, and expressive pictures and her page-referenced Artist’s Notes help identify individuals and provide historical background. This biography is appropriate for mid to upper elementary students. (OJB)
Oakes, Colleen. 2016. Queen of hearts. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 306pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-240972-0.
Anyone who enjoys reinterpretations of fairy tales will appreciate Queen of Hearts, which tells the backstory of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. Dinah is destined to be queen, but for now she is a princess of Wonderland, and suffers the abuse of her father, the King. Everything changes when her father reveals his illegitimate daughter Vittoire, who Dinah immediately dislikes. The reimagining of Wonderland is inventive and fun, although the heavily-laden descriptions and clunky dialogue might turn off some readers, as might Dinah's whiny personality. The plot is slow, likely setting up for future novels, and with many other, better retellings of fairy tales and classic stories available, readers may want to skip this one. First in a series. (MC)
O’Connell, Caitlin. 2016. Bridge to the Wild. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 202pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-544-27739-7.
Author Caitlin O’Connell explains that a zoo allows people who may never have the opportunity to observe animals in the wild to learn about them in a more controlled environment. O’Connell has selected the Atlanta Zoo as her focus and provides an intimate look at pandas, meerkats, flamingos, elephants, Komodo Dragons, primates, and others. This book is rich with scientific information. For example, readers learn of an experiment with decoys and false nests that resulted in wild flamingo mating. Primates took intelligence tests at a testing center by selecting their own their answers. There are other surprising facts like the evolutionary reason for panda “thumbs “and the ritualized greeting behavior of elephants. Pandas are always a favorite at zoos and adorable twin pandas Mei Huan and Mei Lun feature prominently in this book. Photographer Timothy Rodwell has captured the expressions, colors, and interactions of the animals with clarity. With photos on almost every page, it feels very much like a tour through the Atlanta Zoo. The book includes special features like a section on endangered species, a photo page of the individual zookeepers, a day in the life of a zoo vet, sample data sheets, and a section with additional sources and references. Students from elementary through middle school doing research on animals, zoos, or specie endangerment will find this book to be a fantastic reference. (OJB)
Oppel, Kenneth. 2016. The nest. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 244pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3232-0.
Steven's new baby brother has been sickly since his parents brought him home from the hospital. Soon Steven is visited in recurring dreams by a queen wasp who lives outside his window, who promises to fix Steven's brother. All Steven has to do is say yes. What seems like a miraculous promise by an angel becomes increasingly unsettling, until Steven learns that the queen wasp plans on replacing his brother entirely and feeding his brother to her workers. This creepy tale, accompanied by fittingly eerie black and white illustrations, explores how people are tempted by perfection, yet it is the flaws and the uncertainty that make people human. Recommended for middle grade readers with an appetite for horror, especially for those who enjoy books like Neil Gaiman's Coraline. (MC)
Ørbeck-Nilssen, Constance. 2016. Why am I here?.Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 32pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5477-3 (2014). Illustrated by Akin Duzakin. Originally published in Norway and translated from Norwegian into English by Becky Crook.
Readers of all ages will appreciate the question a young girl asks about life, “I wonder why I am here, in this exact place” (page 2 unnumbered). She continues to ask this question as she wonders about different places and people in the world, including the homeless, individuals in war zones, refugees, and child laborers. The settings, themes, and characterizations are heart wrenching and should provoke spirited conversations about current events. Acrylic paintings express the sincere, insightful questions of the young girl and the contemplative mood of each setting. (DLN)
Pilkey, Dave. 2016. God bless the gargoyles. Scholastic Inc. (Orchard books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-93514-2. Originally published in 1969 by Harcourt Brace.
Gargoyles assume different characteristics in Dav Pilkey’s story than when they appeared in ancient civilizations. According to a legend, St Romanus saved France from a dragon named Gargouille. Apparently, the monster frightened off evil spirits because of its scary appearance. This led some to call the dragon a protector and placed carved images of monsters on churches and other important buildings, including the Tower of London and the Chrysler Building in New York City. The gargoyles in Pilkey’s story guard and protect cathedrals only, such as the Notre Dame and the Washington National Cathedral. The text rhymes, for example “but the years came and went, and the people did, too. and in time, they forgot what their ancestors knew. and whenever they passed by the gargoyles’ lairs, they trembled in fear at the gargoyles’ stares” (p. 12). Thanks to the illustrations and the rhyming, lyrical text, readers can believe the sequence of events as the gargoyles, bold and courageous, protect everything below their perches until they are taunted and cursed by the people. But finally, they are protected, loved, and respected by angels. Pilkey effectively creates surreal images and environments using acrylics, watercolors, and India ink. When people “a long-ago time,” respected and admired the gargoyles as beloved protectors, the sky is a brilliant yellow, conveying positive relationships among the individuals and the stone creatures. But as people change their perspectives, the yellow light fades, and their anger, fear and spite are conveyed by the dark colors of blue, purple, red, brown, and black. The exceptions to the fearful moods are the bright yellow, white, red, blue and green stained glass windows of the cathedrals, signally a message of hope. Readers will not be disappointed because hope, love, and respect come to the grieving gargoyles as angels swoop through the night to soothe the tears of the grieving gargoyles and together they fly through the evening skies. (DLN)
Polacco, Patricia. 2016. Because of Thursday. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2140-9.
Thursday is the most important day of the week for Annie Fetlock. She was born on Thursday, won her first cooking contest on Thursday, met her husband, Mario, on a Thursday, married him on a Thursday, gave birth to her children on two different Thursdays, opened a diner on Thursday, and created a highly coveted Poke Salad on a Thursday. When Mario dies, Annie becomes depressed and disinterested in her diner and life until she finds a kitten on her doorstep on a Thursday. The kitten, named Thursday, contributes to phenomenal changes in Annie’s life, including the reopening of the diner on a Thursday. Thanks to an unfortunate event in the diner, another signature dish, called Ugly Pasta, is created, on a Thursday. Fortunately, a television food critic is in the diner and after eating the pasta, features the creation on his television show. Annie and her Ugly Pasta become famous. Youngsters, ages 6 – 9, will develop an appreciation for Thursday, Annie’s perseverance, and the difference one can make in the life of another. In this case, Thursday, the cat, contributes to the metamorphosis of a sullen, depressed Annie to a vibrant, loving, caring, energetic, and creative person. (DLN)
Reiss, John J. 2016. Colors. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 34pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7643-0 (1969).
Multiple colors and corresponding objects are introduced and reinforced in this board book for young readers, ages 0 – 4. The primary colors on the patchwork quilt on the title page represent the colors explored in the book, but not the order they appear. The colors – red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple, brown, black, correspond to the objects on each respective page, such as red apples, yellow lemons, blue sky, orange pumpkin, green frogs, purple cabbage, brown bear, and black licorice sticks. The last page of a girl sleeping in a bed covered with a quilt, provides an opportunity to review the colors, and readers may recognize the blanket as a mirror of the patchwork quilt on the title page. (DLN)
Reiss, John, J. 2016. Shapes. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 34pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7645-4 (1974).
Shapes are dominant, but readers can also identify colors, labels of each shape, and corresponding objects reflecting each shape. For example, crackers represent squares, sails represent triangles, circles are represented by buttons, doors are rectangles, and spoons are oval. Youngsters, ages 0 – 4, will be fascinated by the three dimensional objects created by different shapes, e.g., cubes, pyramids, and spheres. Additional shapes are displayed at the end of the book, pentagons, hexagons, octagons, and then a full page spread of the effect of combining multiple different shapes. As with Colors, readers should examine and discuss the relationship between the illustration on the title page, and the final picture in the book. (DLN)
Rylant, Cynthia. 2016. Mr. Putter & Tabby hit the slope. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206427-3. Illustrated by Arthur Howard.
Mr. Putter & Tabby, his cat, are bored, tired of their inactivity and the restrictions of a snowy winter. They want the fun and excitement Mr. Putter remembers from his childhood when he sailed down snowy hills on his sled. When he calls his friend, adventurous and organized Mrs. Teaberry, the fun begins when she drags two sleds from her storage shed and meets Mr. Putter & Tabby on a hill with her dog, Zeke. Mr. Putter, Mrs. Teaberry, and Zeke are thrilled to be on the slopes, but Tabby is terrified and wants nothing to do with sledding. However, she lands behind Zeke and they fly down the hill but when they reach the end of their ride, Tabby dashes up a tree, away from any possibility of another jaunt on a sled down the hill. Eventually she climbs down the tree, but only because Mr. Putter promises muffins and cream when the return home. Divided into five chapters: Slow, The best fun, The slope, Like a rocket, and Muffins and cream, readers ages 6 – 9 can easily follow the plot with the conflicts of person v. person, person (cat) v. nature, and will recognize Tabby’s angst, established by the illustrations and vocabulary. When Mr. Putter tries to put Tabby on a sled, her eyes are as large as saucers and her tail is jagged, indicating terror. “Tabby was not liking it” (p. 25 unnumbered). As Zeke and Tabby sled down the hill, Tabby twitches, corresponding with “Zeke wagged. He was happy. Tabby twitched. She was not” (p. 32 unnumbered). Affection, friendship, adventure, and the ultimate comforts of home dominate this Mr. Putter & Tabby tale. (DLN)
Sánchez-Korrol, Virginia. 2017. A surprise for Teresita/Una sorpresa para Teresita. Arte Público (Piñata Books.) 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-155885831-2. Illustrated by Carolynn Dee Flores.
When Teresita wakes up on her 7th birthday, she learns her uncle has a special surprise! Teresita spends the day helping her mom and playing with friends, but she has to be patient while she anxiously waits to find out what her uncle has for her. Ideal for children ages 4-8, readers can enjoy this story in English or Spanish. Some of the English has a few Spanish words mixed in, so a little Spanish knowledge may be helpful. (COM)
¡Cuando Teresita se despierta en su cumpleaños de 7 años, ella aprende de que su tío tiene una sorpresa especial! Teresita se pasa el día ayudando a su mama y jugando con su amigxs, pero tiene que ser paciente mientras espera ansiosamente para encontrar lo que su tío tiene. Ideal para niños de 4-8 años de edad, los lectores pueden disfrutar de esta historia en ingles o español. (COM)
Siglain, Michael. 2016. Star Wars: Trapped in the Death Star! (Word of Reading: Level 2). Disney (Lucasfilm Press). 32pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-14847-0510-0. Art by Pilot Studio.
Targeting students, kindergarten through second grade, this leveled reader shares a simple plot and introduces compound sentences, e.g., “The dreaded Death Star floated in the far reaches of space (page 3).” While there are no contractions, a common occurrence in Level 2 Readers, there are a number of compound sentences, another characteristics of books at this level. The vocabulary is controlled, but then this is another feature of leveled readers. Fans of Star Wars will recognize the characters, Han, Chewie, Luke, Ben, Princess Leia, R2-D2, C-3PO and their adversaries, Tarkin and Darth Vader. The conflicts are consistent with those in the movie, and while the heroes escape from the Death Star, readers know Tarkin and Darth Vader will continue their quest to control the galaxy. (DLN)
Thompson, Betsy. 2016. Sunrise, moonrise. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 32pp. $7.99.
Mixed media illustrations enhance this story of the passing of time, from sunrise to sunset. Children can follow the events of the day, from the beginning to the end. Children can also identify various colors, animals, and plants; a blue bird, gray squirrel, brown branches, yellow bees, yellow and orange fish, an orange owl, pink/purple/green flowers, a gray rabbit, yellow fields, a brown bear, yellow fireflies, an orange fox, gray mice and bats. It is a charming book for inquisitive young readers, ages 0 – 3. (DLN)
Thompson, Jolene. 2016. Faraway fox. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-70711-5. Illustrated by Justin K. Thompson.
Fox is lost and longs for his family and home habitat. Readers, ages 3+, can accompany fox on his quest and experience each new environment/setting with fox, and predict the outcome of the story. The theme of wild life protection or conservancy is dominant as fox searches for his home. Because of the illustration, readers will empathize with fox, sharing his sense of loss as he fondly remembers each member of his family. Readers will also celebrate fox’s reunion with his family, predictable because of the second to the last double page spread covered with two different shades of bright yellow with the bushes and leaves painted bright green - signaling hope and restoration. Reunion is also predictable because of the spacing of the trees in the same illustration. The trees are spaced far apart from each other and daylight shines among the trees. Readers can “see” hope and subsequently feel hopeful about Fox’s future. (DLN)
Van de Vendel, Edward. 2016. A dog like Sam. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 111pp. $13.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5484-1 (2011). Illustrations by Philip Hopman. Originally published as Toen kwam Sam. English-language translation by David Colmer.
Multiple social issues are embedded into this novel for young adults, including, animal abuse and rescue, mental illness, injustice, and redemption. Sam, a pyrenes dog, wanders into the lives of Kix, Emily, and their parents. While the parents are not initially thrilled about adding Sam to their family and farm, Kix and Emily immediately accept the purebred dog into their lives. Multiple conflicts propel the story, person v. person, person v. society, and person v. self. Scenes are a blend of sorrow, despair, joy, acceptance, and ultimately, love. (DLN)
Wallace, Kali. 2016. Shallow graves. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). 358pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-236620-7.
Is our destiny determined by factors beyond our control, such as, say, waking up undead after your best friend’s house party? In the process of figuring out who murdered her and who she is to become, Breezy squares off against beings with terrifying powers and meets new, only slightly less terrifying friends. But, will she continue using her newfound powers or try to live as a human? The answers to all these questions can be found by digging into this creepy and unsettling story for high school readers. (JE)
Wells, Dan. 2016. Bluescreen. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 335pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234787-9.
Bluescreen projects what wearable, intuitive technology might look like in 2050, and the ramifications of such intimate technology. Marisa, like everyone else, is online all hours of the day, connected by an implant called a djinni. When she encounters the digital drug Bluescreen, she thinks nothing of it- she already goes to school, spends time with friends, and does everything else digitally. The novel explores similar themes as M.T. Anderson's popular YA novel Feed. While it is refreshing to see a Latina main character in a science fiction story, the pacing at the beginning feels weighty and slow. However, high school readers who enjoy science fiction will likely appreciate the concept and the diverse, futuristic Los Angeles that Wells portrays. First in a series. (MC)
West, Alexandra. 2017. World of reading: Level pre-1: Marvel super hero adventures: Tricky trouble!. Disney Book Group. 32pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-148478644-4. Illustrated by Dario Brizuela.
Young readers, ages 3 – 5, will follow the super heroes as they visit school on Hero Day. Spider –Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man, and Falcon help the kindergarteners with reading, art, snacks, math, and nap time. However, someone disrupts all of the activities. Children familiar with the Marvel super heroes, may easily predict the culprit, Loki, and appreciate the messages of inclusion and sharing. (DLN)
Willems, Mo. 2016. An elephant & piggie book: The thank-you book. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion Books). 64pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-142317828-6.
Gerald, an elephant, and Piggie, a little pig, are best friends. Piggie is grateful and wants to thank everyone for a special talent, gift, or skill. Gerald believes Piggie will forget someone, and this almost happens. The message to all readers is to remember to thank people for talents, gifts, or skills, but most importantly, to appreciate friendship. (DLN)
Young, Ed. 2016. The Cat from Hunger Mountain. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17278-6.
Bold, highly textured and colorful mixed – media illustrations convey the messages of greed, insatiable desire, oppression, desperation, loss, waste, mindfulness, kindness, and finally self-awareness. Based on a Chinese fable, a greedy, gluttonous lord (the Cat), is never satisfied; he is always demanding, selfish, greedy, and wasteful. The Cat even wastes the coveted rice grown on Hunger Mountain, allowing half of the harvest to run downstream. When a drought assaults the land, including Hunger Mountain, life changes for everyone, even the Cat becomes homeless and hungry. The ending is similar to the conclusion of The Quiltmaker’s gift (Brumbeau, 2000), and will cause readers of all ages to reflect on their lives. (DLN)