Reviews are sorted alphabetically by author’s last name.
Anderson, M.T. The clue of the linoleum lederhosen. 2006. Simon and Schuster (Beach Lane Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 243pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0697-1.
After all the exhausting events in this book’s prequel, Whales on stilts, protagonists Katie, Lily, and Jasper are looking forward to a nice relaxing vacation at Moose Tongue Lodge and Resort. However, a chain of mysterious happenings beginning with the kidnapping of the Hooper Quintuplets and the disappearance of the wealthy Mrs. Madrake’s diamond necklace, reunite the sleuth-like triage once again! If they want to solve the mysteries, however, Jasper is going to have to elude his mucus and poisonous snake problems, Katie is going to have to undergo an attitude adjustment, and Lily is going to have to see that things are simply not adding up. And, what in the world is going on with those dinner coupons? Seeing the mysteries as tasks not chores, Lily’s, Katie’s, and Jasper’s kooky optimism and exuberant enthusiasm to solve the cases, give this book a humorous tone that young readers are sure to enjoy. An excellent read-aloud for reluctant readers. Recommended for grades 4-8. (ADA)
Anderson, M.T. Whales on stilts! 2005. Simon and Schuster (Beach Lane Books), [email protected], (800-223-2336). 188pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0695-7.
An innocent “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day!” turns disastrous when 10 year old Lily Gefelty cannot convince her unassuming father that his mad scientist-boss, Larry, is up to no good. After the clever Lily recruits her two buddies, Kate Mulligan and Jasper Dash, both action adventure heroes in their own fantasy book series themselves, the sleuthy trio strategizes to uncover and cease the evil plot intended to fit an army of whales with stilts and send them off to take over the world. There are plenty of explosions, mischief, and general mayhem in this first title in the Pals in Peril series. Readers are going to absolutely love this read. Recommended for grades 4-8. (ADA)
Bagley, Will. So rugged and mountainous: Blazing the trails to Oregon and California, 1812-1848. 2010. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 480pp. $45.00. ISBN 978-0806141039.
Author Will Bagley does an outstanding job of bringing the history of the Oregon and California trails to life in So Rugged and Mountainous. Many books have been written about the intrepid travelers that risked the wraths of nature, geography, and “hostile” tribes to reach the rich lands of the west but very few do such a commendable job of avoiding the stereotypes and patterns of past titles. Bagley provides a very thorough discussion of all aspects of life on the trail from the routes themselves, to economics, and the role of women and minorities in trail society. This book does not focus on one trail experience, but instead relies on the experiences and accounts of hundreds of people that traveled overland between 1812 and 1848 to produce a fuller picture of what life was like for the first travelers. The author discusses the hardships and tragedies that befell these people, but instead of fixating on them Bagley uses them as a pivot point to turn the discussion in a different direction.
While the title does not provide much in the way of detail about specific Native American tribes along the trail, it does an admirable job of highlighting the importance of those people to the survival of the travelers. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book and anyone with an interest in the history of the American West should find plenty to appreciate. It is extensively annotated and provides a wealth and variety of topical information that can be easily understood by beginning and advanced scholars alike. (CL)
Bakern E.D. The dragon princess. 2008. MacMillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 218pp. $16.99.
Book 6 is a great addition to the Tales of the Frog Princess series. Princess Millie has a problem – when she gets upset she transforms into a dragon. The only worse thing would be if her grandmother, Queen Frazella (who harbors an extreme distaste for dragons), discovered this secret about her grand-daughter. When Millie realizes she has been tricked into spending her birthday with her grandparents, rather than at her at-home birthday party as planned, Millie morphs into a dragon right before Queen Frazella’s horrified eyes! Readers will be taken on an awesome carpet ride with royalty, and with Millie’s cousin Francis and friendly bat friend Zoe. Together all three will travel to the Icy North in search of the blue witch, the only witch who can help the befuddled Millie. An excellent dragon princess tale full of magic is sure to entertain. Recommended for grades 4-7. (ADA)
Barber, Tiki and Ronde. Wild card. 2009. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800)223-23360. 148pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-6858-0.
The Hidden Valley Football Team is in its eighth season, and its players are positive the season is going to be nothing short of a great success. After all, the team is connecting well with their new coach, and only has plans to carry out an undefeated season of regular-season play. Therefore, smooth-sailing to the playoffs is anxiously anticipated. However, complications arise when the Eagle’s star kicker, Adam Costa, cannot maintain passing grades. School policy prohibits Adam to play football until his grades improve. Fortunately for Adam his friends on the football team, Tiki and Rhonde Barber, commit to helping Adam academically recover. The plot loses some action when Adam’s poor grades are discussed in too much detail, but real-life NFL players Tiki and Rhonde Barber write a realistic sequel to Kickoff! (2007) and Go Long! (2008) that will definitely satisfy young football fans. Recommended. Grades 4-6. (ADA)
Barnes, Derrick. We could be brothers. 2010. Scholastic, Inc (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com (212-343-6100). 176 pp. $17.98. ISBN 978-0-545-13573-3.
Eighth graders Robeson Battlefield and Pacino Clapton land in after school detention for different reasons. Robeson is accused of cheating and Pacino is blamed for starting a food fight in the school cafeteria. Both incidents involve Tariq Molten, a student known for his troubled background, including time spent in a Juvenile Correctional Center. Tariq threatens Robeson, renamed “Crease” by Pacino, and conflicts intensify as Pacino promises to watch is new friend Robeson’s back. Although the scenarios are often incredible, e.g., a student, like Robeson, with and impeccable record would not be sentenced to detention after accused of cheating for the first time, and a student like Tariq would be monitored carefully in a middle school, the rapid pace of the story will hold the attention of middle school readers (DLN).
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn. Raised by wolves, 2010. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 418pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-059-7.
Spirited and independent Bryn, raised by werewolves after her parents were killed by a rogue wolf, is more or less content with her strange life. However, this contentment ends when she meets a young male human-turning-werewolf with whom she feels an instant attraction and bond. Her instincts and training become crucial as she solves the mystery of her pack’s werewolf background and battles not only the rogue wolf but also rival wolf packs. I have not read other werewolf literature, so perhaps some of the imaginative world I admired in this book is not original. In any case, it is an excellent book—absorbing and well written (AC).
Basher, Simon. Go! Go! Bo Bo: Colors. 2011. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 16 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6493-9.
This board book for youngsters learning the colors of red, yellow, blue, green, orange, and pink, is delightful. The colors are vivid and shiny and the object corresponding to each color appeal to both boys and girls. Fire trucks represent red, ducks are yellow, butterflies are blue, a tree with apples is green, carrots and oranges are orange; and finally, pigs and cupcakes with pink frosting are pink. (DLN)
Bauer, Joan. Close to famous. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 250 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01282-4.
Foster McFee dreams of following her idol, Sonny Kroll, and host her own TV food show someday. Although she is only 12, she is famous for her cupcakes and bakes her way through multiple obstacles and challenges. Foster and her mother land in Culpepper, West Virginia after fleeing from an abusive boyfriend. Although the town is small compared to Memphis, Foster and her mother discover other people in town also have goals and ambitions. Bauer captures the essence of humanity in this coming-of-age story, as people confront their fears, work together, and pursue their dreams (DLN).
Bauer, Marion Dane. Shelter from the wind . 1976, 2010. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 112 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5687-2.
While life is considerably different in 2010 than in 1976, this second publication of Shelter from the wind may resonate with young female readers. At age 12, Stacy is angry with her lot in life and runs away to find her mother, leaving her father and pregnant stepmother behind. Unfortunately, she leaves her home in the Oklahoma panhandle without water, supplies, or a map. Just when she is ready to return home, two dogs find her and lead her to Old Ella, a widow who lives in a cabin without running water, central heating, or air-conditioning in an isolated part of the panhandle. Eventually, Stacy confronts her anger and though she does not find her mother, she finds herself (DLN).
Brown, Lisa. Vampire boy’s good night. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 30pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114011-2.
Real life illustrations unite two friends, a witch and a vampire, as they set out on Halloween Eve to settle a disagreement regarding the existence of children. Our Halloween pair believed costumed children to be real witches, skeletons and mummies! They join a Halloween party-in-progress at a house down the street. When the party is over, everybody removes their masks proving that the children are real! The pair of friends fly off on broomsticks into the moonlight, astounded that children are real. Children from ages 4 – 6 will greatly enjoy this book. (JO)
Brown, Jeff and Sara Pennypacker. The Japanese ninja surprise. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 96pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-06-142994-1. Illustrated by Macky Piamintuan.
When Flat Stanley and his brother Aurther Lambchop are dying to see Japan’s super-cool martial arts movie star, Oda Nobu, Stanley gets the bright idea to mail himself to Japan. Out of all the great Flat Stanley adventures, this adventure tops them all. It is a short, entertaining read and, once again, Stanley is a fun, loveable character. Highly recommended. K-4 (ADA)
Carle, Eric. The very hungry caterpillar’s finger puppet book. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 12pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-448-45597-6 (1969).
This finger puppet board book, based on the original version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), is a counting book for young readers. The caterpillar is transformed into a multi-colored butterfly after eating through 1 apple, 2 pears, 3 plums, 4 strawberries, and 5 oranges. Although the last page of text is awkward, “many colors a beautiful butterfly,” children will quickly learn the relationship between a caterpillar and a butterfly because the face of each is the finger puppet (DLN).
Cave, Patrick. The selected, 2005. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 405pp. $27.99.
This riveting apocalyptic tale is described as a prequel and sequel to Cave’s earlier, acclaimed book Sharp North. The Selected moves between two time periods, separated by centuries but linked through the consciousness of the remarkable main character, Adeline. Adeline has been hidden and sheltered all her life, but at 17 she learns that she has a prophetic destiny. As a cloned “Scroat” (a genetic mutt, unlike the genetically engineered “New Vision” youth now in power), she becomes the unexpected hero in a reality TV survival show that is streamed live to a riveted and increasingly hopeful nation. Meanwhile, centuries earlier, Dom falls in love with Ruth in the year 2023, when England is plunged into sudden winter from the effects of global warming as the political elite try to ensure their futures in power. Like all science fiction, this novel provokes thought and could be used in a high school unit to talk about social issues (AC).
Christelow, Eileen. Five little monkeys wash the car. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-547-31598-0.
As with the original picture book (2000), the board book version will capture readers’ attention. Although the print is small for a board book, the rhyme and rhythm of the text move the plot: the sale of a dilapidated car, and conflict, escaping a crocodile infested swamp to a mutually satisfying, win-win conclusion. Yellow, a dominant color in the book, will help youngsters distinguish the monkey from the car, house, swamp and crocodile (DLN).
Cole, Joanna. The magic school bus and the climate challenge. 2010. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 37pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-590-10826-3. Illustrated by Bruce Degen.
The Magic School Bus series is classic for young readers interested in science and The magic school bus and the climate challenge does not dishonor the tradition. Taking on the politically controversial topic of global warming, Ms. Frizzle and students travel to the North Pole and see firsthand the problem with melting sea ice. In true Magic School Bus fashion, the reader learns the difference between climate and weather, why the earth is getting warmer, what makes it worse, and how to fix the problem. Almost half of the book is devoted to the last topic and is arguably the best part of the book. This reasoning is based on the number of small steps presented that kids can do. These steps, from turning off electronics to recycling, make a global topic accessible to the average elementary student. (MB)
Coleman, Michael. The snog log. 2009. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 266pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5609-4.
When Robbie Brookes and three of his male classmates and friends are assigned to journal their emotions, they decide to turn the assignment into a competition. The assignment becomes a kissing contest where points are awarded for smooching certain girls for a certain amount of time. Soon, their english journaling transforms into the “snog log”, where all the snogging details and results are recorded. However, following through with the contest becomes difficult when a snogging victim intercepts the log and reads all the gritty details. Completion becomes even more difficult as Robbie slowly matures and his competitive nature morphs into compassion. Although this fiction novel’s action retires before its end, readers may find themselves entertained by the unusual storyline. Recommended for grades 8 and up. (ADA)
Corntassel Smith, Chadwick, Rennard Strickland, and Benny Smith.. Building one fire: Art + world view in Cherokee life. 2010. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 224pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-1616589608.
In Building One Fire, the authors provide an excellent survey of the full range of creative arts produced by members of the Cherokee Nation. The authors discuss how the history of the Cherokee people influences the lives of their modern ancestry, both artist and non-artist alike. Nearly every material form of art created by Cherokee artists is exhibited in this book including ceramics, basketry, carving, painting, jewelry, and mask-making. Traditional styles and imagery are incorporated with aspects of our modern world such as laptops and iPods are shown on painted hardhats. This book has a perfect balance of prose and breathtaking imagery that gives the reader a view of the world through Cherokee eyes. While making it perfectly clear that Cherokee culture continues to thrive, the authors also suggest that their people live in and experience the same world as the rest of us. Anyone interested in the art of Native Americans, especially historic and modern examples will want to check out this book. The writing is not overly-technical, nor does it require a background in Cherokee history or Native American cultures to appreciate. As is the case with most art books, the pictures alone are quite stunning and well worth the time spent. (CL)
Clements, Andrew. We the children. 2010. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 143pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-3886-6. Illustrated by Adam Stower.
Sixth grader Benjamin Pratt and his friend and classmate, Jill Action, work together to save their historic school from developers looking to build an amusement park in its place. Following the words on a mysterious coin, Ben and Jill discover that two steps out of a five step plan, lead to a loose baseboard and a very helpful key. Taking place on the New England coast, this first book in the Keeper of the School series is an excellent mysterious adventure. It is sure to stimulate the minds of young readers as they follow the protagonists Ben and Jill to a logical solution. Expect a great storyline crafted by Andrew Clements and great illustrations done by Adam Stower. Recommended for grades 3-7. (ADA)
Crimi, Carolyn. Rock “n” roll mole. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 30pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3166-0. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
Mole has a passion for rock ‘n’ roll. He imitates his idol, Mick Badger, but doesn’t yet have the courage to perform in front of an audience. When Mole’s best friend Pig needs his musical skills, Mole doubts whether he can support his friend. This charming tale of friendship mixed with overcoming self esteem issues is a must read for all young readers. (BNS)
Demi. Genghis Khan. 2009. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 64pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5547-7.
Temujin was born in 1160 to Yesujei, the leader of Yakka Mongols. When Temijin was nine years old he became the head of the Yakka Mongols after his father died by poison. Temijin was a proud leder for his small tribe and helped it grow. Soon stories of his acts of bravery and courage spread throughout the land. As a result, the tribe unified the Mongols and conquered much of the region. Temujin was then given the name of Genghis, which means spirit of light, and went on to become one of the most feared leaders of all time. This book, based on history and legend, tells the story of Genghis Khan accurately and in a way that is entertaining for elementary students. The illustrations give the reader a visual representation of Genghis Khan that is both interesting and instructive. (LB)
Derting, Kimberly. Desires of the dead. 2011. HarperCollins (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 35pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-06-177984-8.
Sixteen-year-old Violet Ambrose, who first appeared in the novel The body finder, returns in another suspense-filled romp, steeped in her ability to find those who kill and those who have been killed. Derting successfully weaves several separate events together that eventually intersect to create a very captivating read. This novel casts brother and sister duo Mike and Megan as the new transfer students in school. They are quickly befriended by Violet’s boyfriend Jay. Meanwhile Violet, continuing to hear echoes of the dead, tries to keep her ability a secret to FBI agent Sara Priest. In addition, Violet knows she is being stalked and Jay begins to question her faithfulness. A shocking twist at the end gives this novel some muscle deserving of an audience. Much like Derting’s first novel, this is an excellent, fast-paced read. Highly recommended for grades 9-12. (ADA)
Detting, Kimberly. The body finder. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 327pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-177981-7.
Sixteen year old Violet Ambrose has an ability that sets her apart from other individuals – she can sense death. When a serial killer begins terrorizing her small Washington town, Violet jeopardizes her own safety in order to help the local law enforcement in investigating two murders that hit very close to home. Will Violet’s boyfriend Jay be able to adhere to his promise and keep Violet safe? No loose end is left untied in this murder mystery that flirts with the supernatural. It’s suspenseful, creepy, wicked – readers will find this book a fast-paced and entertaining read. Recommended for Grades 7 and up. (ADA)
Draper, Sharon M. Out of my mind. 2010. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 295pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7170-2.
A prisoner in her own body, 5th grader Melody Brookes seeks to convince those around her that cerebral palsy only affects her physically, and not mentally. The sophisticated narration, told from Melody’s point of view, will take readers on a touching journey. It begins with the frustration of having no physical control, moves through the feat of communication, and finishes with acts of determination. Readers will be whisked through a rollercoaster ride of emotions. This book, both eye-opening and upsetting, isn’t just for kids – teens and adults are sure to be enlightened as well. Highly recommended. For grades 7 and up. (ADA)
Dubois, Liz Goulet. What does a seed need? 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Price Stern Sloan). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 16 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-8431-9901-7
In this flap book for young readers, Little Pig (Mo) demonstrates the process of growing plants. She explains with words and interactive illustrations that seeds need dirt, water, sunshine, time, and an attentive friend to grow. Suitable for preschool children, this book could complement any unit on gardening – with an inside classroom garden/greenhouse or a more conventional outside garden. (DLN)
Elliott, Zetta. Bird. 2008. Lee & Low Books. [email protected], (212-779-4400). 48pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-1600602412. Illustrated by Shadra Strickland.
Long ago, Mehkai’s received the nickname “Bird” because as a baby he would lie in his crib and “cheep-cheep” like a baby bird wanting food. As Bird grew up, he developed a love for drawing and receives encouragement and guidance from his older brother, Marcus, who struggles with drug addiction. Bird finds comfort in his drawings and uses them to escape the many problems around him. This book is a touching story with illustrations that converse with audiences via the text and drawings created by Bird. (LB)
Epstein, Adam Jay and Andrew Jacobson. The familiars. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 360pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-06-196108-3.
A narrow escape from bounty hunter Grimslade, besets alley cat Aldwyn with a new set of problems. Now Aldwyn finds himself a “familiar” to a young wizard loyal named Jack. Now that Aldwyn has been adopted, he is automatically aligned with two other familiars: Skylar the blue-jay and Gilbert the tree frog. After an innocent walk in the countryside, the villainous Queen wreaks havoc on Kalstaff the mentor, leaving all three familiars responsible for saving their loyals. This book might be a bit undisguised from the typical wizardry novels, but it has twists and turns of its own. Readers will delight in the perilous journey of the familiars – starting with the sorceress Edna, moving into hand-to-hand combat in frog territory, and culminating in a battle against the hydra. Sequels are likely as well as welcomed. Recommended for grades 4-8. (ADA)
Falls, Kat. Dark life, 2010. Scholastic, Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100).
297pp. $16.98. ISBN 978-0-545-178143.
Ty lives in an underwater world with other pioneer settlers, learning how to survive and use the ocean resources now that the ruined and despoiled earth can no longer sustain all its inhabitants. The underworld settlement provides food for the “Topsiders” in exchange for the supplies that must be manufactured above-ground. Ty plans to farm his own homestead there, once he turns 18. But Ty’s world is threatened by a notorious criminal gang, by the Topsider demands on the settlement, and by his encounter with Gemma, a brave young woman searching for her brother. Furthermore, Ty is challenged by the perception that he and the other children in the settlement are different— possessed by strange extrasensory powers called “Dark Life.” How will Ty protect his community and his own future? (AC).
Gaiman, Neil. Odd and the frost giants. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 117pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-167173-9. Illustrated by Brett Helquist.
Partly to escape the uneventful happenings in his small village and partly to escape his unhappy home, a young Viking boy named Odd sets out on his own adventure. Along the way, Odd stumbles upon three unlikely characters – a bear, an eagle, and a fox. Eventually Odd learns his new companions are the Norse gods Thor, Loki, and Odin and they have been banished from Asgard by the insensitive frost giant. Using the good sense and charm characteristic of all Scandinavians, Odd summons the giant and convinces him to “repatriate” his three animal friends. This Norse mythology novella is humorous, clever, and quick-paced to boot! The storyline and illustrations are sure to satisfy readers. Highly recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA)
Galdone, Paul, reteller. The three little pigs. 1970, 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Books [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-370200
This retelling of The three little pigs, is as delightful in 2011 as when first published in 1970. The first two pigs face the consequences of building their houses with flimsy material while the third wise, resourceful pig thrives. The timely reissue of The three little pigs should become a staple in any folktale collection along with Galdone’s retelling of Three little kittens, The three bears, and The Little Red Hen. (DLN)
Garretson, Dee. Wildfire run. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 260pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195347-7.
Thirteen year old Luke, the President’s son, and his friends Theo and Callie have to go about following typical Secret Service protocol while relaxing at Camp David. While at camp, a wildfire caused by an earthquake quickly envelops the unwitting Luke, his Secret Service agents, and his buddies. Things get increasingly hairy after a jeep accident within the compound walls. With the fire still raging in their direction, Luke and his friends must now devise schemes to outwit the many security measures that were originally intended to keep the President, his family, and other visitors safe. Wildfire run is an intense, fast-paced read that focuses on loyalty, perseverance, and determination. The clever strategies and ingenious inventions are sure to entice readers. Highly recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Geisert, Arthur. Country road abc: An illustrated journey through America’s farmland. 2010. Houghton Mifflin, [email protected], (800-597-6127), 64 pp. $17.00, ISBN 978-0-547-19469-1
The farm glossary and acknowledgements at the end of the book qualify the illustrations depicting the language and scenes of American farmland in the Midwest. The book is both a mirror and a window, with settings familiar to people living in the country, and insightful for folk with little or no knowledge of farming. Even though the book is written for young people, adults may also appreciate the illustrations and the farm glossary at the end of the book. For example, even though I live in rural America, I did not know Z-braces make barn doors more durable! (DLN)
Gilson, Jamie. Thirteen ways to sink a sub. 2009. Marshall Cavendish.
[email protected], (914-332-8888). 103pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5587-5.
Fourth grade teacher Mr. Star is never absent, until he is struck with the flu. In his absence, his class seizes the opportunity to act mischievously towards substitute teacher, Svetlana Ivanovitch. Leader of the boys, Hobie Hansen, and Molly Bosco for the girls, a contest emerges between genders over who can make the overly nice and sappy Miss Ivanovitch cry first. The game begins with some simple name-switching, moves to taking the long route to the music classroom, and ends in a torrent of watery trouble. When the score shows 7 (girls) to 6 (boys), both sides learn that Miss Ivanovitch has a few tricks up her own sleeve as well. Readers in the mood for a mild and warm comedy singed with a bit of mischief are going to find this book a positive, solid selection. Recommended. Grades 4-7 (ADA)
Glass, Linzi. Finding Danny. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 201pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-179716-3.
Sabrina “Bree” Davies has two very busy journalist parents. When a teacher worries that Bree may be suffering socially, Bree’s parents get her a Border Collie as compensation for their shortcomings. It doesn’t take long for Bree to get attached to her new pup, Danny. Unfortunately the attachment is abruptly severed when Bree’s mother accidentally leaves the gate open and Danny disappears. The heartbroken Bree desperately searches every animal shelter she can in efforts to find Danny. Her search eventually leads her to a new friend Rayleen and the harsh realities of animal shelter regulations and adoption policies. Although the animal-rescue theme is portrayed with good intentions, the read is somewhat disjointed and difficult to complete. Recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA)
Goodrich, Carter. Say hello to Zorro! 2011. Simon & Schuster.
[email protected], (800-223-2336). 40 pp. $15.99 ISBN 978-1-4169-3893-4.
Mr. Bud, a rather chubby dog, loves his 10- step schedule. But then one day during step number 6, the meeting time, a new dog Zorro joins the household. After a couple of troublesome days of fighting and commands to “get along,” the dogs discover their relationship is not perfect, but life is more enjoyable with each other’s company. This is an endearing tale of friendship – and schedules. However, the dogs are overweight – a sign of poor health among all animals. (DLN).
Grabien, Deborah. Dark’s tale. 2009. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 320pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-037-5.
A small child’s cat allergy leaves the once-housecat, Dark, abandoned in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. A new refuge and an innate cautious nature, require Dark to form an unlikely alliance with a skunk and some humans if she wants to survive the increasing coyote attacks threatening their neighborhood. The setting is beautifully described in this animal fantasy, but the weighty plot lessens the fluidity of events. Nevertheless, Dark’s tale will appeal to lovers of cats and lovers of Erin Hunter’s Warriors books. Recommended. Grades 5-8 (ADA)
Grant, Michael. The magnificent 12: The call. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 243pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-183366-3.
Twelve year old Mack MaAvoy has issues. He suffers from mediocrity, battles with numerous phobias, and his parents accept his oddities as typical adolescent behavior. Nonetheless, the 3,000 year old Grimluk has named Mack one of the Magnificent Twelve – a group of twelve kids destined to save the world from the sinister Pale Queen and her equally evil daughter. When Mack forms an unlikely alliance with his former bully Stefan, they find themselves sucked into a wind vortex where they battle monsters, elves, and snakes while en route to Australia via airplane to find another of the Magnificas. This debut book in Grant’s new series, The magnificent twelve, has plenty of action, a quick pace, and a well-balanced plot with funny one-liners and plenty of likable characters. Fans of fantasy and action adventure stories are going to gobble this novel up! Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Green, Dan. Music. 2011. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 64 pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-6595-0. Illustrated by Simon Basher.
Theory of music presents students with certain vocabulary challenges. Music addresses these components in a whimsical, charming manner which is sure to captivate and amuse even the most stubborn theory student. An interesting correlation is presented addressing the relationship(s) between music and other disciplines, i.e. physics, history and math. The illustrations are an effective “eye catcher”. A wonderful tool for teachers of public schools as well as those in the private sector! Recommended for all ages. (BNS)
Green, Tim. Best of the best. 2011. HarperCollins (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 272 pp. $16.99. ISBN 987-0-06-168622-1.
Best of the best joins Tim Green’s other baseball novels, Baseball great, and Rivals. In Best of the best, twelve-year-old Josh is about to play in the Little League World Series. While he tries to focus on the game, he is distracted by his parent’s divorce and the annoying son of his father’s girlfriend. However, Josh’s friends Jaden and Benji help sort through all of Josh’s conflicts and reach a conclusion grounded in the realities of life. Young adults both male and female may also enjoy other sports’ adventure books by Tim Green: Football genius, Football hero, Football champ, and The big time. (DLN)
Grumet, Robert S. The Munsee Indians, a history. 2009. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 464pp. $45.00. ISBN 978-0806140629.
The Munsee people are most famously credited with selling Manhattan Island to the Dutch West Indies Company sometime around 1626. However, their story is much more complex than this single event in history. In The Munsee Indians, author Robert Grumet demystifies the convoluted historical data about the Delaware-speaking tribe that inhabited portions of what is today New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Grumet begins with a brief introduction to the culture and way of life of the Munsee people prior to European contact in the region in 1609. He then goes in to great detail about the colonial and tribal relations over the preceding 200 years, documenting the treaties, land cessions, battles, and alliances that would eventually see the Munsee people pushed out of their traditional homeland and absorbed into neighboring and/or related tribes.
The Munsee Indians provides an extensively researched and detailed account of the Munsee people as well an early history of this particular part of the country. While it may be difficult to keep all the various tribes, governors, and political actors straight, Grummet’s writing is still quite enjoyable and easy to understand. This book provides a wealth of information about inter-tribal relations among the Munsee and other tribes in this region, such as the Mahicans and Iroquoian Susquehannock, and their conflicts with the Europeans. Readers with an interest or background in early colonial history, administration, or Native American history will get the most from this book yet it should also be informative for most readers at or above the high school level. (CL)
Gutman, Dan. Ray & Me. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 173pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-123481-1.
Another grand-slam performance by author Dan Gutman with his ninth book of the Baseball Card Adventure series. Like the other books, protagonist Stosh has the ability to travel back in time. He simply has to hold a baseball card, and he will return to the date of the card. This particular Baseball Card Adventure has Stosh traveling back to the 1920’s in order to prevent the real-life baseball tragedy in which Ray Chapman, from the Cleveland Indians, was killed when hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Carl Mayes of the New York Yankees. Along the way, Stosh meets many famous people including Babe Ruth and Harry Houdini. This is an excellent book that mixes fiction with baseball facts. All readers- male or female, avid baseball fans, or reluctant readers –are sure to love this book. Highly recommended. Grades 5 and up (ADA)
Hale, Bruce. From Russia with lunch: A Chet Gecko mystery. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 112pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-547-32882-9.
Chet Gecko is an elementary school student by day, but a wise cracking private eye by recess. No mystery is too small or too difficult to peck his interest. The current case is anything but ordinary. It begins with machines that have begun to replace teachers and unusual behavior from the student body. Like any good mystery, there are twists, turns, and false leads. This book is an entertaining mystery novel for young readers. From Russia with lunch is great for young readers because they are presented with all the information necessary to solve the crime for themselves. Readers will be left wanting more – thankfully there are fourteen other books staring Chet Gecko! (MB)
Haines, Mike & Frohich, J. Wild alphabet: An A to zoo pop-up-book. 2010. MacMillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 52 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6472-4.
The interactive pop-ups of specific characteristics of the animals complement the realistic photos of each animal representing a letter of the alphabet. For example, the black and white neck and head of a giraffe move from the letter “G” on the opposite page of a colored photo of the giraffe. Readers will enjoy learning about different wild animals, including at least one extinct reptile (the utahraptor), from different parts of the world. For example, a narwhal from the North Pole is described as “the unicorn of the sea” (p. 27 unnumbered). The book reinforces multiple cognitive operations, such as comparisons, classifications, predictions, and of course, promotes reading for fun (DLN).
Hall, Michael. Perfect square. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207—7000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-006-191513-0.
The perfect square is perfectly happy at the beginning of the story because it is perfectly square. But from Monday through Saturday, it changes as it is cut, torn, shredded, shattered, snipped, crumpled, ripped, and wrinkled. On Sunday when the square is once again perfectly square, it is not happy because the four equal sides are confining, rigid, and cramped, so it changes into a window that sees the mountain, river, bridge, park, garden, and fountain made during the week. Illustrations are as captivating as the text, beginning with a bold red square that transforms into an orange fountain, an orange and yellow garden, a park composed of various shades of green, a turquoise and green bridge, a blue and green river, and a purple and blue mountain. On Sunday, the square is red again, but unhappy and transforms itself into a window composed of all of the colors in the book – except red. The story is intended for all teachers, parents, and children who are tired of rigid rules and the “box” mentality of instruction. (DLN)
Harlow, Joan Hiatt. Secret of the night ponies. 2009. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-0783-1.
Set off the Newfoundland coast in 1965, this adventure story’s historical facts and whirlwind plot is sure to entertain. Thirteen year old Jessie Wheller is the driving force of this novel as she helps to save the lives of three shipwrecked commoners, offers refuge to abused orphan girls, and unravels islander corruption by pulling off a daring horse rescue. This historical fiction may have a lot going on, but readers will find the setting convincing, the characters believable, and the history immersing. Highly recommended. Grades 4-8. (ADA)
Harper, Charise Mericle. Just Grace and the snack attack. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 164pp. $15. ISBN 978-0-547-1522-33.
When a student’s lunch is described as “disgusting,” Grace’s teacher uses this as a “teachable” moment. Soon Grace and her classmates find themselves researching foods from around the world. Grace’s choice to research potato chips of the world, excites her but she becomes jealous when her father would rather help her friend Mimi study hotdogs instead. An easy-breezy narration with an excellent message and cartoon drawings will help motivate young readers. Recommended. Grades 2-5. (ADA)
Heck, Ed. Color-by-penguins. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Price Stern Sloan). [email protected], (212-366-2000) 16 pp. $5.99 ISBN 978-0-8431-9888-1.
One of four concept board books by Ed Heck, Color-by-penguins introduces the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple along with contrary characteristics, one penguin is neat, the other is not, one paints in a straight line, the other does not. Opposite characteristics prevail until the end, when both penguins are happy after painting a rainbow. The bold, vivid colors of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple are memorable. (DLN)
Other concept board books by Ed Heck include Monster opposites, Shape up, Pup!, and ABCD eat!
Hermes, Patricia. Emma dilemma, the nanny, and the secret ferret. 2010. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books). [email protected], (914-332-8888). 144pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5650-6.
With another Emma Dilemma story comes another Emma Dilemma family trip. This time the whole family is spending their summer in Maine. Although Emma’s ferrets are to stay behind and are looked after by friends, Emma sneaks one into her backpack. Emma plans to tell the family her secret once they get far enough away so they cannot turn around. Things get hairy when the family cat starts sniffing around. But Emma’s problems change in Maine, when the neighbor guy plans to cut Emma’s favorite tree down to make his lake view better. The resolution is a bit too tidy, but readers will learn some good lessons when Emma’s reactions towards adults grow and mature. This book will not disappoint Emma Dilemma fans. Recommended for grades 2-5. (ADA)
Hopkinson, Deborah. Home on the range. 2009. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 38pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-23996-0. Illustrated by S.D. Shindler.
John Avery Lomax was raised in Texas and loved to spend his time singing. When he grew up, he went to college where his love of music, especially cowboy songs, continued to grow. He met an instructor who encouraged him to write about his home. John did so by making a collection of songs sent to him from people all over the West. This project encouraged John to create a book and record the songs so they would be remembered for a very long time. Young children will be drawn into his book with in depth illustrations and pleasing story, and may become inspired to create a song of their own. (LB)
Hill, Eric. Spot’s first shapes: A touch –and-feel book. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (G. P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000), 12 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25631-8.
Early readers will connect the shapes of a circle, square, triangle, rectangle, and heart in this colorful board book featuring Spot, the puppy, and his friends, a blue hippopotamus, a brown monkey, and a green alligator. In addition to recognizing colors and shapes, readers can feel the round bumps on the circle, the corrugated texture of the red square, the sand-paper like surface of the green triangle, the velvet blue rectangle, and finally, the satin red heart. The book is recommended for very young readers, as are Hill’s other concept books, Spot’s first colors: A touch-and-feel book (2011), Spot’s toys (2011), and Spot says goodnight: A lift-the flap book (2008 re-issued in 2011). All are sturdy board books suitable for developing hands. (DLN)
Howe, Peter. Waggit again. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 292pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-124264-9.
Readers who enjoyed the first novel Waggit’s Tale are sure to enjoy the second installment of Waggit’s adventures. Waggit, once again, has found himself abandoned by his owner, but this time it’s as a neglected and mistreated visitor of a farm. Determined to reunite with his original pack of misfit strays, Waggit escapes the farm and begins his trek back to Central Park in New York. With the help of an Upright (human) named Felicia and a pit bull named Lug, Waggit finds his friends. Waggit’s acceptance back to his old group, however, presents new challenges. From mean and villainous, to crafty and clever, to sensitive and thoughtful, the characters are believable. But it’s the beautifully sustained action and adventure from beginning to end, that will hold the interest of all readers. An A+ read. Recommended. Grades 5-8 (ADA)
Howland, Naomi. Princess says goodnight. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 24 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-145525-4. Illustrated by David Small.
The illustrations of David Small capture the essence of a young girl who pretends she is a princess. The plot includes an imaginative bed-time fairy tale routine of leaving a ball, practicing curtsies, climbing the winding stairs holding a candelabra, drinking a glass of milk with chocolate cream éclairs, counting sheep from her tower, wishing upon a star, removing her glass slippers, taking a bubble bath, brushing and flossing her teeth, and kissing her frog Prince on the head. The story also has a tender, realistic ending when the clothing and palace setting return to the girl’s real bedroom and her dad kisses her “goodnight.” While adults may enjoy the subtle references to fairy tales, children with princess dreams will simply enjoy the story (DLN).
Hyde, Heidi Smith. Feivel’s flying horses. 2010. Lerner Publishing Group (Kar-Ben). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 30pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-3959-5. Illustrated by Johanna van der Sterre.
This picture book tells a story more commonly told with chapter books: the American immigrant. Feivel, a Jewish woodcarver, leaves his wife and four young children in Europe to start a better life in America. Feivel plans to make enough money to send for his family and pay for their passage. A job at Coney Island carving wooden carousel horses becomes the way for Feivel to not only earn a living, but to express his homesickness for his family. The author tells a tale common for immigrants but with a new twist accessible to young readers. The simple but beautiful watercolor illustrations are a good pairing for this heartwarming tale and would integrate well with a number of lesson plans. (MB)
Jennings, Patrick. Guinea dog. 2010. Egmont USA. [email protected],
(212-685-0102). 192pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-053-5.
Guinea dog is spring-loaded with plenty of amusing pet scenarios that readers will love. Fifth grade Rufus campaigns heavily for a dog to call his own. Rufus’s stay-at-home father, however, is adamant against having a dog for more than just a few reasons. Rufus’s sensitive and compassionate mother acts as mediator between father and son and gets Rufus (of all things) a guinea pig named Fido, in efforts to fill her son’s “void” while hopefully placating father. It isn’t until Fido begins acting like a dog – fetching sticks, retrieving the TV remote, and wanting his belly scratched – that Rufus decides a guinea pig is all he needs. The cute and clever storyline, along with some solid characterization, will keep readers turning the pages of this animal fantasy. A must have and a must read for grades 4-7. (ADA)
Jinks, Catherine. Living hell. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 255pp. $17. ISBN 978-0-15-206193-7.
Living hell depicts a suspenseful tale about a space ship carrying a vast amount of human cargo. In an outer space encounter with unknown dust, the space ship is transformed into a living organism (hence the title) that becomes convinced that its humans are germs that must be destroyed—but there is no place for the humans to escape. Those who remain must figure out how to live peacefully with and within the being (AC).
Kajikawa, Kimiko. Tsunami!. 2009. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 30pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25006-4. Illustrated by Ed Young.
Ojiisan is a wise rice farmer and the wealthiest person in his village. When the people in his village gather to celebrate the rice harvest, Ojiisan does not join because he feels that something is wrong. After a small earthquake, Ojiisan watches in horror as the sea disappears and he realizes that a tsunami is coming! He must warn the people in his village that they must move to higher ground. To do so he sets his rice fields, the source of all his wealth, on fire. His selfless actions save the people of his village from the huge wave. This book is one that captures the reader’s attention with its text and illustrations, and sets a great example for elementary students. (LB)
Katz, Alan. Smelly locker. 2008. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 30pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0251-5. Illustrated by David Catrow.
Life for school children is riddled with odd distractions. This book complies some of the most annoying challenges, formats them with a “jingle” narrative form, and set each “problem” to a familiar tune. A fun way to relieve the “stressed” student! Illustrations by David Catrow accentuate the “jingles”. A fun read for ages 5 and up. (BNS)
Kennedy, Marlane. The dog days of Charlotte Hayes. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-2000). 23pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-145241-3.
Charlotte does not like dogs, but she is responsible for caring for her family’s Saint Bernard puppy. Soon she grows tired of being the one to feed him and fill his water bowl. Charlotte knows she does not want to keep the dog, but she also wants to ensure that he goes to a good home. She creates a plan to buy her dog from her parents and then turn him over to a reliable rescue organization. Elementary students can relate to Charlotte’s character as they empathize with the emotions she experiences in this book. Children will enjoy reading about how, in the end, Charlotte hatches a new plan to rescue her own dog! (LB)
Kennemore, Tim. Alice’s shooting star. 2009. Eerdmans Publishing Company. [email protected], (800-253-7521). 95pp. $12. ISBN 978-0-8028-5337-0. Illustrated by Mike Spoor.
Good-as-gold middle child Alice is called upon to help her little sister Rosie, when she is accused of telling too many lies. In the process of helping her sister curb some bad habits, Alice becomes a semi-famous filmmaker. She makes some spending cash, and helps her family take one more step toward a Disneyland vacation. Nothing is as it seems in this lighthearted and gentle comedy with likeable characters and realistic situations. Young readers will find that this book holds several good laughs and a sweet resolution. Recommended. Grades 3-6 (ADA)
Kimmel, Haven. Kaline Klattermaster’s tree house. 2008. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 152pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87403-1. Illustrated by Peter Brown.
Third grader Kaline Klattermaster’s world has changed. The routine he yearns for disappears with his father, and his mother seems to be spinning in circles more than usual, as his parents begin to go through a divorce. When things get too tough, Kaline uses his imagination to fabricate a tree house with two older sensible brothers to help him cope with three school bullies. However, when Kaline bonds with and accepts the help of his kind, older neighbor Mr. Osiris, he resolves some of his biggest problems. Written in the third person, young readers may find the writing style confusing and disjointed as the plot hops from event to event abruptly. The topics of divorce and bullies, however, appeal to some readers. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA)
Klise, Kate. Little rabbit and the meanest mother on earth. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Childrens Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 30pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-15-206201-9. Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise.
Little Rabbit wanted to go to the circus but his mother told him he had to clean his room first. With good illustrations and funny moments such as, “stinky socks!” all readers will be amused and recognize a familiar theme of efforts being underappreciated. Young readers will also enjoy many different verbal sounds rarely found, such as: “An Emporium of Odiferous Oddities” or “Mysterious Marvel of Maternal Monstrosity.” In the end, Little Rabbit is permitted to sleep in a homemade circus tent and may inspire young readers to build a circus of their own! (JO)
Kloepfer, John. The zombie chasers. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 205pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-185304-2. Illustrated by Steve Wolfhard.
At breakneck speed this zombie adventure, set in a small but seemingly normal Phoenix neighborhood, features 12 year old Zack Clarke and his two unusual “acquaintances”: Rice and Madison. Rice is the rotund, nerdy best friend who thinks he knows all the sordid details about zombie invasion. Madison is the eccentric, beautiful Queen Bee, and is the best friend of Zack’s older sister, Zoe. When a torrent of horrid zombies transform after a fastfood-eating frenzy, Zack and his crew arm themselves with a plastic baseball bat, a fire extinguisher, and some gingko capsules and run off to save the world against the grimy and slimy undead. Vivid details to describe the zombie lot’s appearances are not sugarcoated, which will make for an even more appealing read to horror fans. The characters are quirky, the one-liners are funny, and the illustrations are cringe-inducing. More, please! Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Kramer, Andrew. Pajama pirates. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 33pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-125194-8. Illustrated by Leslie Lammle.
Pajama Pirates tells the tale of three children and their dog who become pirates when the moon comes out. Once their bed turns into a pirate ship, the “pajama pirates on the go” navigate by moonlight into the bay. Soon after, a nemesis pirate ship appears and a sword fight that ensues involves a cannon whose “blast rips the sail and splits the mast,” providing a scene where new vocabulary terms can be absorbed. The illustrations were simple, colorful yet clearly painted the picture. Readers will certainly enjoy the parrot flying just above the sword fight or the sharks and the other sea creatures included in the illustrations. It is an excellent “good night” story which are the best kind for adults trying to convince their young reader it is time to go to sleep. Young children have enough foundational knowledge to have this story stoke their imaginations. It is written in a prose form with an appealing and amusing rhyme scheme (AS, JLO).
Kreech, R.W. Love, puppies, and corner kicks. 2009. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 213pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42197-9.
Accustomed to a familiar home, familiar friends, and a familiar soccer team in the United States, thirteen year old Andrea starts anew when her father announces their family will be relocating to Scotland for a year. Once overseas, Andrea struggles with her speech, the Scottish culture, and her living arrangements. Will she ever survive a year abroad? Thanks to her extraordinary soccer skills and the hearty interest of the hunky Stewart, readers will soon discover that surviving abroad is possible. Although the Scottish culture is only brushed upon, Andrea is a likeable character with realistic problems. In addition, vocabulary words and definitions from a Word Power book, makes this a book for readers other than just female soccer fans. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Krull, Kathleen. Kubla Khan: The emperor of everything. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc (Viking). [email protected] (212-366-2000) 38 pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-670-01114-8. Illustrated by Robert Byrd.
Robert Byrd based his illustrations of Kubla Khan on Asian prints and paintings. Byrd’s paintings are colorful and detailed, representing Mogul art, visible in the designs in contemporary rugs, clothing and yurts (ger in Mongolian). However, Krull’s biography of Kubla Khan is disappointing. While it accurately reflects the life of Kubla Khan – as recorded and shared by historians, word choices are often awkward and misleading. For example, Moguls do not live in tents, they live in yurts. A yurt or ger (Mongolian) resembles a tent, because it can be dismantled and moved, but felt covers a lattice framed structure to create walls thicker than any tent. Therefore, reference to the dwelling’s accurate name would distinguish it from other tents. The sources noted for young readers are informative, but they are dated and references to Demi’s Marco Polo (2008), and Gheghis Khan (2009), are absent. The language in the last sentence of the book includes the cliché “over-the-top.” While readers speaking English as a first language may understand the phrase, it will confuse English language learners (DLN).
Krull, Kathleen. Lives of the pirates: Swashbucklers, scoundrels (neighbors beware!). 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 94pp. $21.00. ISBN 978-0-15-205908-8. Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt.
This is a non-fiction report of the life of 18 pirates. Readers may find it very exciting that women were also pirates. This book is most rewarding for middle-school and junior-high school students. It gives a short, though accurate, depiction of the highlights of each pirate’s life and impact on history. This book works nicely as a prelude to more in-depth reading on each character. This was interesting read with appropriate illustrations which highlighted the text. I especially enjoyed the last chapter about Long John Silver, and as it clearly points out, he was a depiction of Robert Louis Stevenson’s imagination and “not a real pirate”. The author explains that this pirate was created to help Robert capture the heart of his stepson. It is important for the reader to separate the two perceptions of pirates: real and fictional (AS, JLO).
Lai, Thanhha. Inside out & back again. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (202-207-7000). 272 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196278-3.
Há along with her mother and three older brothers leave Vietnam towards the end of the war and immigrate to Alabama. Resettlement is difficult because of the language and cultural differences, resulting in blatant racist comments and behavior from Há’s classmates and community members. Há and her family persevere however, and with the help of a handful of people, they overcome challenges, adapt to their new home, and move forward with their lives. Há shares her story in poetic verse, a highly effective style which captures the pain, suffering, loss, and hope of a family deeply affected by the Vietnam War (DLN).
Levine, G. C. Betsy Redhoodie. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers, [email protected], (212.207.7000). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-146870-4. Illustrated by Scott Nash.
This variation of Little Red Riding Hood includes sheep and a wolf shepherd who walk with Betsy to Grandma’s house. The flock and shepherds, Betsy and the wolf, Zimmo, are taking cupcakes to Grandma in her house over the meadow, mountain, woods, hill, and valley. However, when the group enters the woods, Zimmo runs off. Even though Betsy trusts Zimmo to eat cupcakes and not grandmas, she is concerned and urges the sheep to move forward quickly. But sheep do not move quickly, especially in the rain or on slippery slopes. Readers may experience suspense, but the lack of sharp points and dark colors convey confidence rather than uncertainty – except when Betsy reaches Grandma’s house. Then the hues are dark and shadows loom behind two of the characters in the picture. (DLN)
Lichtman, Wendy. The writing on the wall. 2008. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 216pp. $1.99. ISBN 978-0-06-122958-9.
Mathematical equations can help solve life’s toughest problems. Eighth grade Tess, who happens to harbor a gift for numbers, is about to learn that literature and math are a part of everyday life for people. These two subjects help Tess when suddenly a fire starts in a nearby classroom. Tess looks to the graffiti on the wall in hopes of finding the arsonist. No bully and no trip to the principal’s office are going to stop her from announcing that the set fire was very calculated and thought out. Readers who share a love for facts and figures like Tess, are going to find this mathematical mystery refreshing and intriguing. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Lindo, Elvira. Manolito four eyes: The 2nd volume of the great encyclopedia of my life. 2009. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 160pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5470-0.
Manolito four eyes returns, which will make fans of his first two volumes of mischievous blunders extremely happy! Manolito is up to his same 8 year old antics in this 2nd volume of the encyclopedia of his life, where he chronicles a shoplifting prank, the consequences of cutting his brother Bozo’s hair, and suffers his mother’s wrath when caught holding a cigarette. Any kid who makes mistakes, lives within a quirky family, and loves to laugh is going to find the amusing anecdotes of Manolito four eyes a worthwhile read. Very highly recommended. Grades 4-8. (ADA)
Lowry, Lois. Gooney Bird is so absurd. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 105pp. $15.00. ISBN 978-0-547-11967-0. Illustrated by Middy Thomas.
Gooney Bird Greene’s classmates are both shocked and amused by her unusual ways. She wears pajamas, a ballet tutu, and unmatched socks to school! Her classmates are especially surprised the day of the new poetry unit, as Gooney wears underwear on her head to keep her brain warm! Gooney Bird and her classmates enjoy the poetry unit and put their new knowledge to action when they use poetry to comfort their teacher when her mother passes away. Gooney Bird’s sense of independence and fun-loving spirit make her a likeable character that elementary students will love. Readers will enjoy this fun story about overcoming differences and pulling together in a crisis through being ones silly self. (LB)
Love, D. Anne. Semiprecious. 2006. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 293pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87389-8. .
Garnet Hubbard, going on age thirteen, may be no ordinary kid, but she is determined to become one. Immediately after her father leaves their small-town Texan home and returns to his work of drilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Garnet and her sister Opal find themselves whisked away to re-establish their lives in Oklahoma with their aunt. Meanwhile, their self-absorbed mother moves to Nashville without them, to fulfill her dream of becoming a country singer. It’s not long before Garnet finds herself an outcast in her new home and nostalgic about her hometown. Determined to re-establish her previous life, Garnet hops on a bus to Nashville to find her mother. While young readers may struggle with the music references and life’s challenges of the time (no television, radio, and limited vehicles), they will realize that this 1960’s historical fiction is an entertaining read that addresses a fragile economy, social changes, and fractured families. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Lupica, Mike. Hero. 2010. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 289pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25283-9.
Soon after 14-year-old Zach Harriman discovers his father died in a covert government operation, Zach learns that he has inherited several supernatural abilities. But why? It appears that two people, a stranger named Mr. Herbert and Zach’s father’s best friend, Uncle John, can help answer the recent onset of attacks and superhuman powers Zach has been experiencing. Unfortunately Mr. Herbert and Uncle John have different opinions regarding the superpowers and Zach finds himself torn between what is right and what is wrong. Lupcia, who is well known for his children’s sports novels, has successfully branched out to write an engaging, action-packed superhero thriller. Recommended for grades 5-9. (ADA)
Lupcia, Mike. Million-dollar throw. 2009. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Puffin). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 244pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-399-24626-5.
The stakes are high for thirteen-year-old Nate Brodie after winning a drawing that landed him a shot at winning a million dollars if he can throw a football through a 20 inch hole during a Patriots Thanksgiving halftime break. Readers, at first, are led to believe that the talented Nate’s toss will be effortless and successful, but bad news erupts. Nate’s father has lost his job, and his friend Abby is about to lose her eyesight. As tension mounts, Nate’s confidence and abilities recoil. Will Nate fumble his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intercept a much-needed $1,000,000? Lupica knows his audience and treats them well. Plenty of football action, an economy with which people can relate, and a special visit from real-life NFL player Tom Brady, offers excellent appeal for youngsters and oldsters alike. Includes themes that touch on determination and compassion making every page a touchdown! Highly recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
MacLachlan, Patricia and Emily MacLachlan. I didn’t do it. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 30pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-135833-3. Illustrated by Katy Schneider.
The authors clearly grasp voices of puppies trying to navigate their owners’ territory. Dog lovers will be excited to read about the world from many different dog perspectives. The illustrations add to the perception of dogs being able to express words and thoughts. Using a poetry format, I didn’t do it is an effective tool to introduce children to poetry by using a relatable storyline since many children have dogs as pets. In the end, readers may start to defend the dogs by saying, “they did not mean to be naughty!” (JO)
Mariz, Rae. The unidentified, 2010. HarperCollins Publishes (Balzer & Bray).
[email protected], (212-207-7000). 296pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-180208-9.
Set in a dystopia, the schools of this not-too-distant-futurist teen drama are funded by corporations, and students spend their school day using state-of-the-art technology to learn and simultaneously provide market research for those companies. Popular kids are “branded”: adopted by a particular corporation for advertising purposes. Meanwhile, The Unidentified seek to deconstruct this corporate power and return freedom of thought to students—mostly against their will. When Katey – one of the school nobodies – becomes “branded” unexpectedly, she is thrust into the middle of a power struggle between the corporations, her friends, and The Unidentified. This is an excellent and thought-provoking book that could be used in a high school social studies course discussing social issues including media literacy (AC).
Margolis, Leslie. Girls acting catty. 2009. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 177pp. $15.99.
Protagonist Annabelle learns that boys are like dogs and nothing is ever simple in middle school, as she fends off the cattiness of a popular group of classmates. While Annabelle struggles to fit in at school by making and managing friendships, she also becomes concerned with her mom’s recent engagement. To make matters worse, a serious crush on the handsome boy who is soon to become her stepbrother emerges. This book is a relatable, quick read about some not-so-original topics found in other similar girl-drama genres. Recommended. Grades 4-7 (ADA)
Martin, Ann M. Everything for a dog. 2009. Macmillan Publishing (Feiwel and Friends). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 211pp. $16.99.
Three totally different lives and three totally different paths, all eventually intersect on powerfully tough and moving notes in Everything for a dog. Bone, the first dog, is a stray that was torn from his sister and now must learn to survive alone. Charlie, the second character, finds comfort in his warm, fuzzy friend after a tragedy just seven months before. And after his parents deny him a dog, Henry, the third character, does nothing but yearn for one to replace his friend that has just moved away. The ups and downs of each very different character – both human and canine – provide a heartfelt read that will take the audience through discovering if each individual can throw off the weights of life and death, and move toward happiness again. Message laden and has excellent appeal for dog lovers. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Martin, J. B. The chiru of high Tibet. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (1-800-597-6127). 40 pp. $17.99. 978-0-618-58130-6. Illustrated by Linda Wingerter.
This is captivating true story of locating the calving grounds of the Chang Tang chiru in Tibet. Through perseverance and true grit, four experienced trekkers succeed where conservationist George Schaller failed. Although the story is interesting, dates of the original and subsequent quests are missing, yet important. Also, the primarily muted pastel illustrations distract from the authentic text. Photographs of the trek, the landscape, and the chiru would be more informative, complementary, and compelling. (DLN)
McAlister, Caroline. Brave Donatella and the jasmine thief. 2010. Charlesbridge, [email protected] (800-225-3214) 32 pp. $16.95 ISBN 978-1-57091-729-5. Illustrated by Donald Hendricks.
Set in Florence, Italy sometime between 1537 and 1574, this historical picture – story book will enlightens young readers about the wrath of Duke Cosimo de’Medici. Cosimo has the only jasmine plant in Florence and refuses to share any of it. However, one of his gardeners, Antonio, covets a sprig to impress his beloved, Donatella. Antonio secretly cut a branch of the plant, gave it to Donatella, but when Cosimo threatens to torture all of his servants unless someone tells him the name of the thief, a housemaid told Cosimo “It was Antonio.” Cosimo then proceeds to throw Antonio in a dungeon cell in the town of Volterra. After hiding the jasmine spring in a pot and determined to save Antonio, clever Donatella walked three days and two nights to the dungeon. Once in Volterra, she persuaded the guards to let her cook for them and after one particularly gluttonous meal, the guards fell asleep. Donatella grabbed the cell keys, freed Antonio, and the twosome fled Volterra, settling in an unknown location. That is, unknown to everyone except Donatella’s mother who quickly leaves Florence with the jasmine plant to join Donatella and Antonio. Predictably, Antonio and Donatella marry and buy a house with the money earned from selling multiple plants grown from the stolen jasmine sprig. While this historical tale is more fantasy than fiction, historical record supports the evil rule of Cosimo and to this day, it is the custom for brides in Italy “to wear jasmine for happiness and good luck.” (DLN)
McDermott, John D. Red Cloud’s war: The Bozeman trail 1866-1868, volumes 1 & 2. 2010. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 704pp. $75.00. ISBN 978-0870623769.
In the 1860’s the Powder River Country in southwestern Montana became the focus of much activity with the discovery of gold and other mineral deposits. Reeling from the effects of the Civil War, the United States desperately needed the wealth contained in those deposits and set out to secure the region for settlement. But this region was not un-inhabited, it was prime hunting territory hotly contested and fiercely protected by Native American tribes. The forts along the Bozeman Trail, meant to connect the gold fields to the Oregon Trail, became the location of numerous conflicts between the U.S. Government and bands of Lakota, Cheyenne, Crow, and Arapahoe Indians. Red Cloud’s War is a detailed account of the three years of conflict at the heart of this moment in our nation’s history.
The author provides an astonishing amount of detail about the various factions involved in the events of this conflict. He uses historical documents to flesh out his narrative of how and why the conflict unfolded. Where the body of the text does not lend itself to greater nuance, McDermott uses extensive footnotes to provide additional detail and explanation. The depth of discussion and readability of this title makes this title one of the best pertaining to this region and time period. Readers interested in U.S. military and Native American history will find this book to abound with useful information. Likewise, scholars and individuals fascinated with the history of the American West will appreciate the accounts and discussion provided. (CL)
Mina, Javaherbin. The secret message. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-423110-44-6. Illustrated by Bruce Whatley.
The tale, based on a poem by Rumi, a 13th century Persian poet, is about a clever parrot who wants his owner, a merchant, to free him from his cage. However, the parrot is an asset because customers flock to the merchant’s store to hear the bird talk and sing, and to admire his colorful feathers. Before the merchant leaves home for India to buy goods to sell at his store, he asks the parrot if he would like a gift. The parrot has an unusual request to tell the parrots in his home forest about the cage. The merchant agrees and when he returns from his travels, he tells the parrot about the meeting with the bird’s forest friends. The tale has a liberating affect and the illustrations reflect the colors and patterns of Persian architecture and some of the unique animals and land features the merchant encountered between Persia and India on the Silk Road. (DLN)
Morris, Gerald. The knights’ tales: The adventure of Sir Gawain the true. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 128pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-41855-1. Illustrated by Aaron Renier.
The continuing saga of the Arthurian legend is depicted in Sir Gawain the True. The story revolves around the knight, Sir Gawain the True, and his lack of manners. A proud and boastful knight, Sir Gawain overcomes his arrogance and in so doing, reveals the meaning of friendship. The book is an easy, quick read, beautifully illustrated by Aaron Renier. A potential teaching option could include lessons in manners, respect for others, and of course old adage “what goes around comes around”. The adventure of Sir Gawain the true is a cute parable about the dangers of being too arrogant and is most appropriate for readers aged ten and up. (BNS)
Myers, Walter Dean. Looking for the easy life. 2011. HarperCollins (Harper), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-06-054375-4. Illustrated by Lee Harper.
Oswego Pete challenges Uh-Huh Freddie for the position of Chief Monkey on Monkey Island. He tells the monkeys he will show them the Easy Life, compared to their life of hard work under the leadership of Uh-Huh Freddie. After a series of misadventures with a lion, shark, and hippos, the monkeys vote to keep Uh-Huh Freddie as the Chief Monkey. The illustrations vividly display the evolution of the plot and the emotions of the characters, but the text is ultimately too didactic. At the end of the story, Uh-Huh Freddie tells the monkeys “It just goes to show you that easy ain’t always good …… and a little work ain’t always bad” (unnumbered). Another criticism of the book is the phrase about the lion leaving to “mess with his girlfriend” (unnumbered). The phrase adds absolutely nothing to the plot, conflict, character development, theme, or setting and young children, the intended audience of the book, do not need to hear about a boyfriend “messing” with his girlfriend. (DLN)
Myklusch, Matt. Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation. 2010. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 468pp. $16.99. ISBN 9781416995616.
Jack Blank is more than the name of a twelve year old boy: it is also a description. Jack has no memory of his parents or of his home previous to living in the orphanage. He doesn’t live the happiest life; it is safe and boring. But one day his life becomes more interesting and a lot less safe when a creature reminiscent of a comic book villain tries to kill Jack. Another man appears to take Jack to Imagine Nation, a place where everything you read in comic books and fantasy novels comes true. This begins an amazing journey of self discovery and adventure. Though the author’s style of writing is cartoonish, the characters tend to be one dimensional, and some story lines appear too good to be true. However, rather than detracting from the story, the writing style does the opposite. Full of puns and plot twists, this story is a joy to read. (MB)
Na, An. No such thing as the real world. 2009.HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 246pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-147058-5.
Nobody ever said transitioning from childhood to adulthood was predictable or easy. This book cycles through a series of six themed short stories written by young adult authors. Each author writes of ten protagonists that must endure life’s complexities, such as the aftermath of a father’s funeral, coping with a friend’s suicide, and finding closure after being raped. This book offers a glimpse of some hardships that older teens may appreciate and relate to. Recommended. Grades 9 and up (ADA)
Nelson, Peter and Rohitash Rao. Herbert’s wormhole. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected] (212-207-7000). 292pp. $12.99.
Ten-year-old Alex Filby loves video games. Ten year old Herbert Slewg loves to tinker with new inventions. The two are hardly alike, so naturally both are dreading the play-date that has been arranged for them. However, during the play-date suddenly Alex and Herbert find themselves thrust through a wormhole taking them 100 years into the future. Little did the boys know, the future would hold humans as the minority, while mustache-sporting squids would make up the majority. Now Alex and Herbert must convince the G’Daliens that they mean no harm to their species or to their peace. Students in grades 4-7 will find themselves drawn to the loudly-clad exterior and mildly-amusing, cartoon-illustrated, humorously quipped interior. Also an excellent read-aloud for reluctant readers. Recommended. (ADA)
Norcliffe, James. The boy who could fly. 2009. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 309pp. $16.99. ISBN978-1-60684-084-9.
A young boy named Michael is desperate for a life other than the miserable one he leads – caged within the Great House, a home for abandoned and orphaned children. One day a Loblolly Boy coaxes Michael to exchange places with him in return for the power to fly and the power of invisibility. At first Michael loves his new life and its freedoms, but he soon tires of a life devoid of human contact. With the help of twin sisters and a seemingly overbearing mother, Michael attempts to regain his original identity while escaping the evil “collector”. Norcliffe presents a beautifully bizarre fantasy story with a suspenseful vibe in all the basic elements of fiction (characters, setting, and plot) that all young fantasy fans are going to enjoy. Every library should own a copy. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Oliver, Lin. Attack of the growling eyeballs. 2008. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336) 146pp. $14.99.
ISBN 978-1-4169-0951-4. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.
Daniel Funk is the only boy in a family of girls, right down to numerous female pet cats and fish. Funky facts, zany quips, and a laugh-out-loud plot will keep readers entertained and wanting more. Sometime after eating his eccentric Granny Nanny’s Hungarian goulash, Daniel Funk finds himself shrunk to the size of what he compares to his small left toe. Although a bit unnerved at first, Daniel discovers at least one positive consequence of his pea size – he has an identical twin brother Pablo, who is the same small size. Together, Daniel and Pablo have all sorts of fun by planning ways to crash an older sister’s sleepover party. This book is a winner! Highly recommended. Grades 4-8 (ADA)
Palatani, Margie. Goldie and the three hares. 2011. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-06-125314-0. Illustrated by Jack E. Davis
Running from three bears, Goldie falls down a rabbit home and lands at the front door of the Hare family where she meets Papa, Mama, and Little Baby Hare called Bunny. Goldie is angry and one foot is swollen from the fall, preventing her from climbing out of the hole. The Hares invite Goldie into the house, but she does not appreciate anything the rabbits do to help. She is a brassy, crabby, unappreciative, self-indulgent, ego-centric, greedy, gluttonous, demanding girl. Generally, she is a girl readers will love to hate. Eventually, Bunny finds a clever way to get Goldie to leave the Hare house. But then, a kinder, more polite girl with long blond hair, from none other than Alice in Wonderland, falls down the hole looking for a white rabbit. Perhaps the end is actually the beginning of a different book? (DLN)
Parish, Herman. Go West, Amelia Bedelia. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-700). 64 pp. $17.99, ISBN 978-0-06-084361-8. Illustrated by Lynn Sweat
Following the adventures of the original Amelia Bedelia in books by Peggy Parish (1927 – 1988), Go West, Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy’s nephew Herman, is another story about the spunky, somewhat confused and confusing young woman. Amelia is as quirky as she is adventurous, evident in her misunderstandings or misinterpretations of words and phrases used by the people at her Uncle Buck’s ranch. One mistake leads to a stampede, which Amelia stops all by herself. Although the books can be used in lessons about language, such as homonyms and vocabulary development, children may prefer to read Go West, Amelia Bedelia just for fun. (DLN)
Paxton, Tom. The marvelous toy. 1971. Charlesbridge. [email protected]om, (800-225-3214). 24 pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-9822939-2-8. Illustrated by Steve Cox (2009).
Steve Cox’s illustrations complement and bring a sparkling perspective to the timeless lyrics of Tom Paxton’s, The marvelous toy. As with the marvelous new toy, the colors are bright and establish a mood of delight and wonderment in a toy that “went zip when it moved and bop when it stopped and whirr when it stood still.” Paxton sings the lyrics on the CD accompanying the book along with two other tunes: Let the wild wind blow, All the children (DLN).
Plum-Ucci, Carol. Fire will fall, 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 485pp. $18. ISBN 978-0-15-216562-8.
This riveting and disturbing story of bioterrorists, describes how a powerful biological attack against the United States is launched using teenagers infected by bioterrorist experiments. Working against time, six teenagers—the Trinity Four, the few survivors of an attack on their community water supply, and two tech geniuses infected by an earlier attack—must help international agencies uncover and thwart the terrorists before their evil plans are unleashed. In the meantime, they themselves are targeted, not only by the lethal infections their bodies still carry, but by the terrorists who plan to stop anyone in their way. The teens each tell part of the story as they confront their own fragility and the relationships they have with their families and each other. The book is very well written and highly suspenseful. Although this book is the sequel to Streams of Babel, I did not have any difficulty following the story. I loved this book (AC).
Potter, Beatrix (adaptation). Night, night, Peter Rabbit. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Frederick Warne). [email protected] (212-366-2000). 6 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0723266556.
Infants can practice recognizing the concept of a book while listening to the story and grasping for the soft and occasionally crunchy pages. While the title suggests Peter Rabbit will eventually fall asleep, the story focuses on the active Tom Kitten, Benjamin Bunny, Squirrel Nutkin, Mrs. Tittlemouse, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and lastly, a sleeping Flopsy Bunny. A floppy-eared Peter is on the front cover but he is wide-awake (DLN).
Potter, Beatrice (adaptation). Peekawho? 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Frederick Warne). [email protected] (212-366-2000). 10 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7232-6637-2
According to psychologist Jean Piaget, children as infants – two year-old toddlers, move through multiple sub stages of sensory-motor development including reflexes (0 – 1 month), adaptations (1 – 4 months), and making interesting experiences last (4 – 8 months). Searching for partially hidden objects contributes to the development of the attributes in making interesting experiences last. Peekawho? is an ideal choice for caregivers with children at this stage of development because young readers search for partially hidden characters from Beatrice Potter’s books – a squirrel, a mole (Mrs. Tiggy-winkle), a frog (Jeremy Fisher), a duck (Jemima Puddle-duck), and finally, Peter Rabbit. The flaps covering each partially hidden character are large and sturdy, essential features for tiny hands (DLN).
Potter, Beatrix. Peter Rabbit finger puppet book. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Frederick Warne). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 12 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7232-6639-6.
Peter is hiding, but children will find him burrowed in the knot-hole of the tree on each page of this board book. While the duck, mice, kittens, bunnies, and squirrels mirror the illustrations of Beatrix Potter, Peter is the finger puppet. Children can count with Peter as they move through the sequence of 1-2-3-4 & 5 in this board book designed for younger readers (DLN).
Prineas, Sarah. The magic thief: Found, 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper).
[email protected], (212-207-7000). 357pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-137593-4.
In this third book of The Magic Thief series, young Connwaer, the “Magic Thief” and narrator, is treated as a common vagabond. However, he is also a novice wizard, under the tutelage of the master wizard Nevery. Conn, along with Nevery, the princess, and other friends, works to outsmart those who have sentenced him to exile and death. Conn and his accomplices try to thwart those who are unadvisedly keeping Conn from his quest to save their city from destruction. In his adventure, he seeks his locus stone and finds a powerful Dragon. Because I have not read the earlier “Magic Thief” books, I found this book occasionally confusing; however, most readers would be familiar with the characters and back stories. The book is quite delightful—well written and suspenseful– and readers may also enjoy reading a book by the local author from Iowa City (AC).
Quay, Emma. Yummie ice cream. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc (Dial). [email protected] (212-366-2000), 24 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3568-2 (2009) Illustrated by Anna Walker.
Sheep and Panda creatively find a way to share their ice cream cones with Owl in this Hello friends board book for very young readers. Puddle jumping, another Hello friends book about bravery is less convincing than Yummie ice cream. Panda and Owl jump over a puddle with ease, but Sheep is afraid of falling and hurting herself. Indeed, she finally jumps, falls, but “it doesn’t hurt at all” (pp22 unnumbered). However, children know from experience that a fall can hurt. (DLN)
Reardon, John. The south overlook oaks. 2006. Seven Locks Press. [email protected], (800-354-5348). 119pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-1931643917. Illustrated by Chris Youngbluth.
Author John Reardon invites young readers to listen to this book’s narrator, Silver Oak Tree, relate imaginative stories about friendship, growing up, and compassion for those (and those things) that surround us in the natural world. As a good read aloud before bed, around a campfire, or to a classroom of students, this book offers valuable and touching lessons about nature’s beauty. Chapters and narration are short enough to teach and to engage readers in grades 3-6. (ADA)
Reef, Catherine. Jane Austen: A life revealed. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 192pp. $18.99. 978-0-547-37021-7.
Against the rich backdrop of nineteenth century English society canopy, Catherine Reef draws on writings and letters of Jane Austen to depict the author’s life and deep feelings. Reef describes Austen’s beginnings, her birth, education, relationship with her sister Cassandra, her relationships with men, and subsequent unmarried status. Expertly woven with précis of Austen’s novels, this book will richly enhance fans of Jane Austen’s life and works. This book is beautifully illustrated with pictures of that era coupled with pictures taken from movies based on Austen’s writings. Ages 12+. (BNS)
Ren Suma, Nova. Dani noir. 2009. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 263pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7564-9.
Rather than dwelling on her parents’ recent divorce and her best friend’s move, 13 year old Dani Collazano finds other ways to occupy her mind. Dani begins immersing herself in noir films at the local, small-town theatre. After each movie, she enjoys discussing the elements of those “dark” films with Jackson, the theatre’s teenage boy projectionist, who also happens to be dating Dani’s former babysitter. Dani’s overactive imagination and above-average zeal for drama allow her to become the detective in her own real-life noir film when she starts to suspect Jackson of stepping out on her beloved babysitter. Hardly a sleuth for small details, readers will come to appreciate Dani’s commitment and loyalties to those she considers close friends. Dani noir provides useful life lessons and reminds readers, grades 5-9, of the importance of acceptance. Recommended for grades 5-9. (ADA)
Restrepo, Bettina. Illegal. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 272 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195342-2.
When the messages and money stop coming from Nora’s Papa, an illegal immigrant in Houston, fourteen year old Nora and her mother leave Mexico for the United States to search him. The trip North is frightening and suffocating, and the challenges in Houston are overwhelming at times. With the help of new friends, Nora and her mother eventually discover the truth about the disappearance of Nora’s father. They also discover the powers of love, hope, compassion, and generosity to conquer hate, despair, suffering, and loss. This coming-of-age story includes a variety of Spanish words, but the glossary at the end of the book makes it accessible to non-Spanish speaking readers (DLN).
Rey, H.A. Curious George at the park: A touch and feel book. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 10 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-547-24300-9. (characters created by Margaret and H. A. Rey)
This is a touch and feel board book with interesting and appealing textures. The bunny is soft and furry, the tree bark is bumpy, the kite is crinkly and glossy, the soccer ball is smooth, and the picnic blanket is a red and white checkerboard cotton cloth. The plot follows the adventures of George and Jumpy Squirrel as they play in the park and encounter a gray bunny, a brown tree trunk, a yellow kite, a black and white soccer ball, and finally enjoy a picnic with all of their friends (DLN).
Riordan, Rick. The lost hero. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Hyperion-Disney). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 557pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1423113393.
Demigods Jason, Leo, and Piper are three social misfits who find themselves at Camp Halfblood after being deemed as “problem children”. Soon after being introduced at the camp, the demi-trio learn that they have been prophesied to save the Olympians from being overthrown by Gaea’s offspring. Readers will be taken along for a ride on a 60 foot mechanical dragon with Piper as they travel to the Grand Canyon, Detroit, Chicago, and New York in efforts to save Queen Hera while outwitting some evil mythological characters. This is a tightly crafted fantasy that weaves mythology within contemporary times. Plenty of tension, wit, and action. A must read for all Percy-Jackson fans or not. Highly recommended for grades 5-12. (ADA)
Rocco, John. Blackout. (2011). HarperCollins (Hyperion-Disney). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pages, $16.99. ISBN 978-142312190-0.
When the lights go out in the city, a family and their neighbors discover the wonders of the night and existence without electricity and cell phones. When electrical service finally returns, one family does not go back to their “normal” life. Blackout relies on stellar illustrations to complement the minimal text to tell the story. However, parents, children, and teachers can discuss and write their personal thoughts about “busy,” “normal,” and the value of “play.” (DLN)
Rodgers, Mary and Heather Hach. Freaky Monday. 2009. HarperCollins Publishers (The Bowen Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 180pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-166478-6.
Thirteen year old Hadley will never say it’s okay to forget. Forgetting things, such as preparing for her To Kill a Mockingbird presentation led to some very undesirable consequences. Unfortunately, Hadley must experience the “undesirable” when she and her quirky English teacher unwittingly switch bodies after simultaneously reciting a line from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Now Hadley must rely on her teacher Miss Pit to romantically woe the hunky Zane for her. The characters in this fantasy book are a bit one dimensional, and the storyline isn’t as clever as Freaky Friday (1972), but the pacing is consistent and the humor is sufficient enough to hold the attention of readers. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Rorby, Ginny. Lost in the river of grass. 2011. Lerner Publishing Group (Carol Rhoda). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 255pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5685-1.
Sarah, a freshman at Glade Academy does not feel welcome. She is new to the community and experiences rejection from her peers. The class prepares to go on a field trip to the Fakahatchee Strand. Sarah sees this as an opportunity to escape for an afternoon with Andy, a resident of the Fakhatchee Strand area. The two arrange to meet in the afternoon of the field trip. What begins as an afternoon of frolicking and adventure turns into a horrific fight for survival. Sarah must depend on all her instincts to survive, trusting a stranger to bring them both to safety.
This book is well written. Many object lessons can be lifted from the analysis of Sarah as an outsider in a new school system, to the reaction of her peers after her rescue. Lost in the River of Grass is a realistic book. Readers will enjoy this cleverly plotted and absorbing novel. (BNS)
Rubalcaba, Jill, and Eric H. Cline. Digging for Troy: From Homer to Hasarlik. 2011. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-224-3214). 74pp. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-327-5. Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannon.
The fascination with the legend and subsequent passionate search for Troy spans centuries and captures the imagination of generations of students and scholars alike. Digging for Troy approaches this search first from the retelling of the Homeric legend. They then begin the archeological attempts first from the perspective of Heinrich Schliemann, the successful businessman whose intense search for Hasarlik and the site of Troy sparked international interest.
The authors do not romanticize Schliemann’s attempts, which seem ruthless at times in his digging for Troy. Rather, they give Schliemann credit for opening the idea to others, i.e. Wilhelm, Dorpfeld, and Carl Blogen. Troy’s time line is cataloged from Troy I (the early Bronze Age c. 2900-2450 BCE) to Troy IX, (Roman Period, c. 48 BCE-550 CE).
However, it was not until Manfred Korfmann’s efforts that a city outside Troy’s walls was identified. Controversy over excavating ethics ensued between Korfmann and rival Dr. Frank Kolb. Until that time, scholars wished to discredit any findings claiming Troy was never more than a story of pirates and “brigands” not worthy of invading. Korfmann established relevance and relational issues linking the Trojans with Anatolia.
Probable models of the city are beautifully illustrated in its varied stages. The illustrations of the legend enrich the continued mystery of a story whose history provides us with never ending intrigue. Digging for Troy is a wonderful teaching tool for all who love mythology and as well as those individuals whose imaginations can find a city in the archeological rubble. (BNS)
Rubin, Adam. Those darn squirrels and the cat next door. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books), trade¬¬[email protected] (800-597-6127). 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-547-42922-9. Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.
Old Man Fookwire is not fond of the squirrels and their antics, often shaking his fist and yelling in an angry tone of voice “Those darn squirrels!” However, people and squirrels change, and when the squirrels outwit a mean, terrifying, bully of Mmuffins the cat who moves in next door with Little Old Lady, his owner, Fookwire changes his attitude about the squirrels. The illustrations are as whimsical as the story which can be used in discussions about bullying among young children. (DLN)
Salter, Sydney. Jungle crossing. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt). [email protected], (617-351-5000). 215pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-15-206434-1.
Thirteen-year-old Kat would rather stay home and attend a summer mini-camp with her friends than travel with her family on some boring ol’ cultural trip to the jungles near Mexico. Despite much pouting, and a very long list of reasons NOT to spend time with her family, her parents refuse to budge on the issue. Kayaking, swimming, and touring the jungles hold little appeal to the teenage Kat. But when a Mayan teen named Nando narrates stories on Mayan religion, human sacrifices, and a Mayan story about a girl named Mulac’s escape from slavery, Kat’s interest is piqued. Readers will join Kat as she grows and matures throughout the story, but may be disappointed to find the book not based on any actual truths or legends about the Mayan culture. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Say, Allen. The boy in the garden. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 29pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-21410-8.
Using a story within the framework of another story format, Japanese inspired artwork displayed on the pages of The boy in the garden is brought to life. The reader first learns a classic Japanese fairtytale and is shortly brought into an adventure of a little boy imagining himself as a hero in the fairtytale. Readers are given the opportunity to ponder ethical questions of keeping one’s word and the value of hard work. Children will learn new vocabulary words such as “kimono,” “loom” and a “fold” of cloth and are supported by the illustrations. Sharing a story so rich in culture will be enjoyable for all. (JO)
Seabrook, Brenda. Wolf pie. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 48 pp. $16.00, ISBN 978-0-547-04403-3. Illustrated by Liz Callen.
In this early chapter book pastiche of the classical Three little pigs, the relationship among three Pygg brothers and Wilfong, the wolf, changes from one of distrust to one of trust and friendship. When a gang of mean-looking and spirited wolves surround the Pygg brothers’ house, Wilfong takes control and saves his pig friends. Children familiar with the classic folktale of the Three little pigs, will recognize similar characteristics of fear, cunning, and wit. The ending will resonate with readers familiar with The three little wolves and the big bad pig. (DLN)
Segal, John. Alistair and Kip’s great adventure. 2008. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 31pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-0280-5.
To avoid a boring afternoon, Alistair and Kip build a boat that allows them to travel to distant lands. They row down a creek all the way to the ocean where a giant wave tosses them from their boat and into the sea. They befriend a kind whale who helps return them home safely. The simple story of friendship and adventure is one very young readers will enjoy. The watercolor illustrations enhance the story with its charming representation of the characters’ adventure. (LB)
Sidman, Joyce. Ubiquitous: Celebrating nature’s survivors. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 34pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-618-71719-4. Illustrated by Beckie Prange.
The simply-colored gecko on the cover camouflages the wonderfully colored illustrations inside this tale about nature’s ubiquitous creatures. Short explanations of many animals are offered throughout this story, including an occasional poetic contribution. The complexity of the subject matter would lean towards older children, perhaps ages 7 – 12. Adults would also enjoy this simply presented, scientifically detailed-in-nature, book. (JO)
Smith, Yeardly. I, Lorelei. 2009. HarperCollins (Laura Geringer Books).
[email protected], (212-207-7000). 339pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-149344-7.
Lorelei Connelly comes from a wealthy family and attends a prep school in Washington D.C. She is creative, honest, and sees the world as a stage. She has made up her mind to not care what others think and write the experiences in a diary. Each journal entry is addressed to her much-adored deceased cat, Mudd. The eleven year old Lorelei intends to document her aspirations of someday becoming a famous actress, chef, or author, in efforts to aid her future biographers. However, anxieties mount for the 6th grade Lorelei at school. Music rehearsals, friends, and her hunky and charming Bo weigh heavily on her mind while her father’s infidelities surface, thus making the diary Lorelei’s only source of therapy. Chronicled with sensitivity and light-hearted humor, this book has great voice and presents itself as a purr-fect idea to survive life’s imperfections. An engaging must-read. Grades 5 and up. (ADA)
Sonnenblick, Jordan. Dodger for president. 2009. Macmillan Publishers (Feiwel and Friends). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 168pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-312-37794-6.
Imaginary to everybody but the nerdy Willie and his friend Lizzy, a magical blue chimp named Dodger manages to create yet another hilarious scheme. When Dodger impersonates the 5th grade Willie, Willie soon finds himself running for student council president with Lizzie as his running mate. However, Willie has second thoughts when he finds out he’s running against the ultra-popular and super scary James and Craig. Encouraging shoves by his little sister and some of his friends, convince Willie to reconsider. The characterization in this humorous fiction novel is a bit shallow, but there is plenty of gentle humor and comic situations to move the plot along. An overall good appeal for youngsters. Recommended. Grades 4-7 (ADA)
Stine, R.L. Fear: 13 stories of suspense and horror. 2010. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 306pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42168-9.
Anybody who loves a good scary read is sure to find something spine-tingling in this collection of 13 stories of suspense and horror, all written by best-selling authors. The selections include a gamut of genres including science fiction, mystery, thriller, and oddly, some comedy. Readers can expect a wide array of situations dealing with vampires, shadow “dark” children, cannibals, and more. Horrific, creepy, and recommended for grades 7-9. (ADA)
Strasser, Todd. Famous. 2011. Simon & Schuster. [email protected] Schuster.com, (800-223-2336) 272 pp. $15.99 ISBN 978-1-4169-7511-3.
Readers must pay close attention to the style of Famous to follow the conflicts and characterization – via letters, text messages, narratives, transcripts, and newspaper articles – of Jamie, Richard, Avy, and Detective Carlos Ramos. Jamie, a teenager with a talent for taking the right photograph at the right time, experiences success, frustration, friendship, loss of friendships, and an eventual recognition of herself and her relationships to others. While the plot reads like a movie script, the novel, more fantastical than realistic, identifies with young readers and their struggles, challenges, frustrations and destruction of one or more of the primary characters (DLN).
Tarshis, Lauren. Emma-Jean Lazarus fell in love. 2009. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 169pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3321-3.
Practical and rational by nature, seventh grader Emma-Jean Lazarus has difficulty understanding why her knees grow weak and her heart flutters every time she sees Will Keeler. Will is a handsome classmate of Emma’s but misunderstandings run rampant when her best friend, Colleen, needs help identifying her own secret admirer. With its authentic middle school theme of sweet romance and puppy love, this heartwarming sequel to Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of a Tree won’t disappoint its readers. A light-hearted fun read for all ages. Recommended Grades 4-7 (ADA)
Thomas, Shelley Moore. A good knight’s rest. 2011. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42195-5. Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.
Good Knight is tired and needs a vacation and the king agrees. However, it is difficult to rest with three curious and lively dragons as companions. Even though he is exhausted, the Good Knight is after all, a good knight, and agrees to all of the demands of the young dragons. That is, until the Good Knight explodes and reminds the little dragons that he must rest, relax, and take a break. The dragons agree, and in a reversal of roles, they take the reins of the horse – drawn wagon and find the ideal place for Good Knight’s vacation. Children fond of the Good Knight easy reader series will enjoy this title as much as the earlier books of A cold winter’s Good Knight, Take care Good Knight, Get well, Good Knight, Happy birthday Good Knight, and Good night Good Knight (DLN).
Thompson, Kate. Most wanted. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 136pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-173037-5. Illustrated by Jonny Duddle.
Marcus, a delivery boy for his family’s bakery business, becomes inadvertently involved with the transfer of power from the ruler Caligula to Claudius. Marcus is given the reigns to a horse, Incitatus, Consul of Rome. When the rumor spreads through Rome that Caligula died, Marcus and his family hide the horse to avoid retribution from those loyal to Caligula. The story involves great insight to life in Rome under Caligula’s rule, the struggles of the common individual, the importance of the title “Consul of Rome”, and a courageous effort of a young boy caught in the middle of a dangerous situation. This book is an excellent tool for those interested in Roman history, particularly the events that led to Caligula’s demise. Fourth graders and above would enjoy and learn from this book. (BNS)
Van Allsburg, Chris. Queen of the falls. 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-31581-2.
Niagara Falls is one of the most adventurous sites in North America. Chris Van Allsburg relates the story of Annie Edson Taylor, as she seeks fame and fortune using Niagara Falls as her focus. A retired charm school teacher, she decides to attempt what no individual has ever done: go over the Falls in a wooden barrel she designed herself. However, she discovers after her successful ride over the Falls is not only surprising, but also disappointing. Fame and fortune for Annie continued to be allusive as no one would believe that she was “Queen of the Falls”. Illustrations are century appropriate. Ages 10+. (BNS)
Van Fleet, Mara. Three little mermaids. 2010. Simon & Schuster. [email protected] (800-223-2336). 12 pp. $14.99 ISBN 978-1-4424-1286-6
With push and pull tabs, this counting books for early readers uses a rhyming or assonance pattern in the last word of sentence pairs — treats/sweet, loud/proud, flowers/hours, tea/seek, smells/bells, and finally, fun/done. The illustrations are bright with multiple textures, e.g., a sticky lollipop, raised relief on the starfish, and glittery jellyfish. In fact, the colors in the pictures are reminiscent of those in The Rainbow Fish (DLN).
Weigel, Jeff. Thunder from the sea: Adventure on board the HMS defender. 2010. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 46pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25089-7.
This story is presented in comic book format with boxes of factual information such as definitions and historical facts that deepen the story line. This story is most appropriate for upper elementary or middle school readers interested in sailor life. A depiction of corporal punishment could be alarming to younger readers and the difficult vocabulary sets a high bar. However, most readers seeking a challenging read would be able to navigate through it. An ELL/ESL student would require more assistance with the vocabulary in advance. Although the format is unconventional, I do feel this book would be effective with the appropriate age range. It is a rather complex story and may be a good “pull” for a reluctant reader (AS, JLO).
Wellington, Monica. Firefighter Frank. 2011. Penguin Group USA (Dutton). [email protected] (212-355-2000). 24 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42373-7.
Happy faces of all of the firefighters in this board book, suggest Frank and his co-workers enjoy their jobs. Even Frank’s dog, Sparky wears a smile. Children are introduced to a firefighter’s responsibilities, including speaking to children on a field trip to a firehouse. Frank’s firefighting friends are male and female, and when the fire alarm rings, all of the firefighters work to put out the fire. Boarders of every other illustration show the tools and symbols relevant to the two page spread, e.g., when Frank is talking with children at the firehouse, the illustrations in the boarder on the opposite page suggest he is addressing “stop, drop, roll,” fire hazards, alarms, and extinguishers. All are part of fire units in primary classrooms. (DLN)
White, Kiersten. Paranormalcy, 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen).
[email protected], (212-207-7000). 333pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-198584-3.
In her day job for the Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie has the unique power to detect paranormal beings who hide under a glamorous facade and apprehend them for “containment.” Despite this unusual power, in the evenings Evie is just a normal teenager – or so she thinks. She comes to discover that the world is not quite as she originally imagined, and the dangers she tries to keep at bay become unexpectedly close to her. This unusual and poignant “coming of age” novel is suspenseful and haunting (AC).
Wolf-Morganlander, Karl. RagTag. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books).
[email protected], (800-597-6127). 225pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-547-07424-5.
Working as a maid in the early 20th century, 15-year-old Addy accidentally activates a time-machine that propels her back to the 13th century. In this time period she is mistaken for a noblewoman betrothed to the castle lord. Though in her real life she is a poor girl who must leave school and go “into service,” in this new world she is treated as royalty. Will she decide to marry the lord? Will she run away with the handsome young falcon handler with whom she has fallen deeply in love? Will she be discovered as a fraud, endangering not only herself but the people she has come to care about? Or will her sense of responsibility, and fear, lead her to return to her previous life? This is a well-written and suspenseful tale that could potentially be used in social studies units looking at time periods with particular focus on women’s roles (AC).
Long on action and relatively short on chapters, this animal warfare fantasy has plenty of feathers flying and blood spurting. Ragtag, a misfit swallow, ditches his Feathered Alliance friends in Boston, returning only when he realizes that his family and friends are under attack by the Talon Empire, a nasty band of hawks, falcons, and ospreys. In order to preserve the Alliance’s home turf, Ragtag sets out to defeat the fierce birds of prey, first by rescuing his leader, then by extending the alliance, and finally by pleading an eagle to fulfill his promise. Lessons in determination and preservation will enlighten readers, but the endless battles, attacks, and suspense will keep them wanting more. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that there are more of Ragtag’s adventures in the making. Highly recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Yonezu, Yusuke. A cup for everyone. 2008. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Minedition). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 25pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-698-40091-7.
Because Pucca’s father’s cup-making business is not going well, he must leave home and try selling his cups in another town. While his father is away, Pucca makes special cups for his friends. Soon everyone in town wants a special cup made by Pucca. Eventually Pucca is able to sell enough cups to save his father’s business! The colorful illustrations in A cup for everyone bring the artifacts and story to life and will draw young readers into Pucca’s story. (LB)
Zahler, Diane. A true princess. 2011. HarperCollins (Harper). [email protected],com, (212-207-7000). 182pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-182501-9.
Life for twelve-year old Lilia is different than the lives of typical children her age. Under mysterious circumstances, she was found as a baby. Now she is forced to labor as a servant in her adopted household, performing tasks which require skills that she does not have. The only stable part of her life is the friendship she has with Kai and his sister Katrina. After overhearing a plot to sell her to a mean miller’s family, she decides to run away to discover her true identity. Kai and Katrina decide to accompany Lilia on her adventure. All is not as it seems as they journey north in attempt to find out who Lilia really is. Numerous obstacles appear when they encounter the Elf-King who takes Kai hostage. The ransom for Kai is a jewel of ancient power which Lilia must find to save her friend.
A True Princess is rich in imagery, folklore, and fairytale parallels. References to Goethe’s “Erlkonig” and many well known fairytales (i.e. “the Princess and the Pea”) enhance the book’s charm and efficacy. This is a well written novel which poses numerous instructional opportunities.
This book is sure to give readers, particularly those in fourth grade and above, a delightful journey into collective memories and most important, the endearing qualities of true friendship.