Professional Reviews

Adams, Simon. 2009. I wonder why records are broken and other questions about amazing facts and figures. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $12.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-6291-1.

Which river is the longest? Who climbed the highest mountains? Which is the most crowded country? These questions and more are answered in this book that is full of captivating facts and figures. Curious readers will enjoy reading this book and learning about records from around the world. (LB) 

Arlon, Penny, & Gordon-Harris, Tory. 2012. Scholastic discover more: Planets. Scholastic, Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 80 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-545-33028-2.

Stellar illustrations, concise yet informative text, cogent glossary, and a thorough index are hallmarks of this discover more title that explores the solar system. A digital companion book complements the paper text with additional entries and “space quizzes.” The book is recommended for grades 2 – 8, and as a text suitable for the content area literacy strategy, reading before reading, in grades 2 – 12. (DLN) 

Armstrong, Matthew S. 2011. Jane and Mizmow. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], 212-207-7000. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-117719-4.

A young girl named Jane and her monster companion, Mizmow, have a lot to learn about friendship. Beginning with a series of eye-catching and amusing pictures and continuing with simple narration, young readers discover with Mizmow and Jane that girls are not food, sharing is important, and forgiveness is necessary for friendship to continue. Readers will laugh at the silly antics of Mizmow as he learns about a new culture and how to be a good friend to Jane. Adults will appreciate the lessons taught in this delightful and recommended story. (MW) 

Arnosky, Jim. 2011. At this very moment. Penguin Group, USA, Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-525-42252-5.

Connecting the daily activities of young readers with events from the animal kingdom contributes to the development of the concept of time – a challenging concept for youngsters to master. Arnosky’s “amazing moments” include references to a variety of animals, such as Rocky Mountain sheep, a blacktip shark, a polar bear, black bears, deer, an owl, a finback whale, seals, puffins, a rat, beaver, snake, a blue jay, a bee, an alligator, lions, squirrels, raccoons, blackbirds, and pelicans. End notes about a select number of animals mentioned in the book are informative and reflect the author’s interest and understanding of time, children, and animals. All ages. (DLN) 

Arnosky, Jim. 2011. Monster hunt: Exploring mysterious creatures. HarperCollins Publishers (Hyperion-Disney). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142313028-4.

People from around the world have contemplated the existence of creatures such as the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot. In this book Jim Arnosky explores the existence of these creatures and other historic creatures, some of which have stories that survive to present day. Elementary readers that enjoy animals or mysteries will like reading about these creatures and exploring the illustrations of these enthralling beings. (LB) 

Baratz-Logsted, Lauren. 2010. The education of Bet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 186pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-55024-4.

Life for Bet is a little different than that of a typical girl her age. She is caught between two worlds, one of a semi-servant, and another of an orphan whose benefactor pulls her to the edge of his world of privilege. This tug of war is a struggle for Bet and creates restlessness in her everyday life. Her friend, the disillusioned Wil, is her benefactor’s nephew. He is required to attend schools that he dislikes. His rebellious behavior results in his expulsion from almost all the elite schools. Since his reputation precedes him to the only school that will accept him, Wil struggles with his station in life.

The two make a pact: Bet takes Wil’s place at the new school since she wants an education, and Wil fulfills his dream and joins the army. Bet’s transformation into a boy and subsequent enrollment in the new school make for an interesting parody on The Prince and the Pauper. What neither realizes is “things are seldom what they seem.” Each takes on the challenges that eventually come to a charming ending. Highly recommended. Ages 12+. (BNS) 

Barden, Stephanie. 2011. Cinderella Smith. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 148pp. $14.99. ISBN978-0-06-196423-7. Illustrated by Diane Goode.

Cinderella Smith is certain to do one thing – lose her shoes. Now she has lost her red ruby tap shoe. Without them, she is no longer a shoe-in for becoming Pumpkin Blossom Fairy for her dance recital. But now Cinderella’s problems are extending beyond shoes. Her teacher makes fun of her, and she is ignored by her former best friend. When there are no solutions to her problem, a new girl asks Cinderella Smith to help identify the wickedness of her stepsisters. One by one, Cinderella tap dances her way through each problem. This is an excellent book to teach theme, since each chapter is titled after a different pair of shoes. It is a zesty romp with some true-life fun (with a capital Z, R, and F). Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Barratt, Mark. 2010. The wild man. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521). 341pp. $9.00. ISBN978-0-8028-5377-6.

In this sequel to Joe Rat, The wild man narrates this historical fiction novel about runaway Joe Rat. Joe is happy outside the sewers of London and away from “Mother” of the last book. Joe is now working in the wealthy part of London as a sweeper. When two boys try to bully Joe into breaking into the wealthy Harvey’s family home, Joe jeopardizes his future safety and foils the plan with his honesty. As compensation for his good deed, the wealthy philanthropist Mr. Harvey offers Joe a job, and room and board in his house. Meanwhile Mr. Harvey’s son Alec becomes jealous of Joe. Alec struggles with gaining his father’s admiration and pride. When Mr. Harvey reunites Joe with his own father, Alec’s jealousy seethes. Archenemy, rather than friend, Joe must decide in the end who is foe and who is friend: his own father or a wealthy man’s son. There is tension and mystery built into this solidly constructed plot. Honesty and hard work are shown to pay off creating a very good read about social class and its issues. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Basher, Simon. 2011. ABC kids. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6495-3.

Alliteration can act as a powerful creative learning tool. This is certainly true for Basher’s ABC kids, which brings the alphabet to life through alliteration. Early readers, ages three and up, will find the illustrations and rhythmic phrases a fun, clever way to learn to read. (BNS) 

Berend, John. 2011. My baby blue jays. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01290-9.

In this book, readers will follow the life of a baby blue jay in the big city of New York. Through a conversational style of writing, readers learn how the nest is built, the eggs are laid and the babies emerge. Then readers will wonder if one baby bird will be okay as it learns to fly and live independently in the Big Apple. Throughout the book, pictures taken out the window overlooking the nest document the life of the birds—almost like looking through a family photo album of Mr. and Mrs. Blue Jay. This book provides a good narration of nature and will create interest in the lives of our feathered friends. (MW) 

Berkes, Marianne. 2012. Over in the forest: Come and take a peek. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-163-1. Illustrated by Jill Dubin.

This book explores different types of forest animals and counts the number of babies the different kinds of animals have. Young readers will enjoy the rhyming text and illustrations in this book, while also being introduced to the names of these babies and their behaviors. Preschoolers will take pleasure in searching for the hidden animals on each page. (LB) 

Block, Francesca Lia. 2012. Pink smog. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 185pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06156-5984.

Louise is a typical adolescent searching for who she is and where she fits in, all while dealing with her dad leaving her and her mom. Junior high school becomes even harder for Louise when her two best friends move away, leaving her unsure of who her new friends are and whom she can trust. Louise embarks on a journey in which she encounters many obstacles but in the end finds the confidence to believe in herself and who she is. (LB) 

Booth, Coe. 2011. Bronxwood. Scholastic, Inc. (Push). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 328pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-92534-1.

This is a good book for literature teachers to teach point-of-view, first-person, and the present tense. Sixteen-year-old Tyrell lives in the Bronxwood Projects, an urban neighborhood crippled with drug dealing, incarcerated fathers, infidelity, and power struggles. Tyrell wants nothing other than to be his own man and leave the craziness of his neighborhood behind, but there are a few obstacles he must overcome. First, he must deal with his hormones and the girls he finds attractive. Then he has to figure out a way to get his eight-year-old brother out of foster care. To worsen Tyrell’s matters, his friends want him to start pushing drugs, and his dad throws a wrench in his money-making plans when he’s released from jail. Teachers can use this book in class to teach about a typical inner city life. If students can’t relate to the book’s setting, they will be able to understand the struggles within families and the desires to break free and become their own person. The book is very vulgar, with coarse language from beginning to end, so preview before purchasing. Recommended. Grades 10-12. (ADA) 

Boyland, Jennifer Finley. 2011. Falcon Quinn and the crimson vapor. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 370pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-172835-8.

This is book 2 in the series and Falcon Quinn still finds himself torn between his guardian angel mom and his monster crow dad. Much of the book is about Falcon’s struggle to choose to side with his mother or his father. An amulet with a red jewel in it seems to know the right path, but then two of his friends go missing and he steers off course to go looking for them. Crimson vapor may be overwhelming to newcomers to the series. The sheer number of characters and some befuddling, hard-to-follow goofy sequences might cause readers to disengage. With that said, quick dialogue, vivid descriptions, and several crazy characters will still shine to readers who are already fans. Keep a copy of this book in the library or classroom to keep Falcon fans happy. Recommended. Grades 6-8. (ADA) 

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. 2011. Jefferson’s sons. Penguin Group USA, Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 368 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3499-9.

While the debate about the paternity of Sally Heming’s children continues, there is no dispute about the fact that Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, and one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence owned enough slaves, including Sally Hemings, to maintain his Monticello fields and home. There is also enough scientific and historical evidence to support the claims that Jefferson fathered at least one of Sally Heming’s children. Bradley supports the contention that Jefferson fathered six of Sally’s children, and through fiction, she tells the story of the enslaved Heming family through the voices and experiences of two sons, Beverly and Madison, and Peter Fossett, another slave who is close to the Heming/Jefferson family. Every student, grades 5 – 12, of American history should read and discuss Jefferson’s sons within the context of the lives of the Heming family and Thomas Jefferson. (DLN) 

Brett, Jan, reteller. 2011. Beauty and the Beast. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25731-5. (1989).

The illustrations complementing the literary elements of this French folktale are captivating. If readers are alert and study the tapestries in the background, they will be able to predict the outcome of this enchanting tale. (DLN) 

Brooks, Susie and Sandy Ransford. 2011. Brain busters. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 144pp. $5.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6408-3. Illustrated by Adrian Barclay.

People who are intrigued with puzzles will find quite an assortment of this mental activity in this book. Memory tests, number problems, and picture puzzles are just a few that are included in Brain busters. An explanation on how to use this book helps the puzzle player navigate the various kinds of puzzles. The book is a fun activity for those who enjoy this form of mental stimulus (BNS). 

Bullard, Lisa. 2012. Chelsea’s Chinese new year. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 24pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-8579-0. Illustrated by Katie Saunders.

Chelsea and her family are busy cleaning the house and buying red clothes to prepare for their celebration of Chinese New Year. They will celebrate with their relatives by staying up late, eating dumplings and attending a big parade with a dragon! Young children will enjoy reading Chelsea’s story and learning about this important Chinese holiday. (LB) 

Bullard, Lisa. 2012. Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 24pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-8583-7. Illustrated by Holli Conger.

This book is written about a boy named Rashad and his family’s celebration of Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr. Through Rashad’s eyes, young readers are introduced to the two holidays and gain a basic understanding of what the special days mean and how they are celebrated. The brightly colored illustrations are appealing to young children and add to the festive nature of the book. (LB) 

Bunting, Eve. 2012. Little Bear’s little boat. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 30 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-547-71903 (2003). Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.

This board book version of the original story is designed for very young readers who too will grow out of their little clothes and toys. Youngsters will relate to Little Bear’s loss and sadness as he grows too big for his little boat. However, Little Bear, who is now Big Bear, has a big heart and eventually finds another little bear who loves and enjoys the little boat. And since Big Bear misses his boat, he begins to build one large enough for a big bear. Ages 15 months – 3 years. (DLN) 

Burnie, David. 2011. The Kingfisher animal encyclopedia. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 320pp. $27.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6580-6.

The Kingfisher animal encyclopedia is an exciting, colorful journal about the animal kingdom. Authored by a biologist, David Burnie, this comprehensive encyclopedia covers more than 2,000 animals spanning the globe, from the smallest cell to the largest mammal. Each chapter gives a clear, descriptive explanation of each creature, including its Latin name. Illustrations are a beautiful, enhancing feature to each entry. Recommended for adults and children. (BNS) 

Burnie, David. 2011. Navigators: Mammals. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6610-0.

The Navigators series allows the reader to obtain facts easily. Mammals continues this pattern with essential facts about the world’s mammals. Creatures are identified in their own environment from the deserts to the seas. Ages10+. (BNS) 

Burningham, Sarah O’Leary. 2009. Boyology. Chronicle Books, LLC. [email protected], (800-759-0190). 167pp. $12.99. ISBN978-0-8118-6436-7. Illustrated by Keri Smith.

Although this book is advertised as a crash course in understanding boys, it could easily pass as more than that. Teen girls will find help in dealing will different kinds of boys and boy situations, offering help with identifying the “breed” of boy, the differences between loving and liking a boy, setting boundaries, and dealing with parents, both yours and his. Plus, there is advice on breaking up but pulling yourself back together to get back into the dating game. It’s helpful, it’s illustrated, and it’s a must have in any library or classroom. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Callery, Sean. 2011. Life cycles: Ocean. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6577-6.

Kingfisher Life cycles books are beautifully illustrated according to the subject material. Ocean describes underwater life found in three large bodies of water. From the Indian Ocean, the reader will learn about coral starfish, puffer fish, and the tiger shark. The Pacific Ocean’s inhabitants –shrimp, squid, salmon, and the bald eagle– are linked to other creators through their life cycles. Jelly fish, sea turtles, and whales found in the Atlantic Ocean follow the same pictorial life cycle explanation. This is another successful supplement for early science classes. (BNS) 

Callery, Sean. 2011. Life cycles: Rainforest. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6576-9.

Rainforest explores one of the earth’s most efficient ecosystems. This book takes the young reader on an adventurous discovery of ten animals and one unusual plant. Their lives, reproduction cycles, and ways they link with other rainforest elements bring this system to light in a colorful, innovative way. Ages 8+. (BNS) 

Calvert, Pam. 2011. The multiplying menace divides. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 32pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-0-1-57091-782-0. Illustrated by Wayne Geehan.

Prince Peter must save his kingdom and his father from the evil Matilda and Rumpelstiltskin. The two of them have teamed up to get revenge on the King by turning people and animals in his kingdom into frogs. Peter must outwit the duo by using division to destroy the magical Frog Crystal and return everything back to its original form. This book uses a fun story to introduce students to division. The author has included division notes at the end of the book that introduce division by whole numbers and fractions as well as including a note about dividing by zero. (LB) 

Calvert, Pam. 2011. Princess peepers picks a pet. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected] cavendish.com, (914-332-8888). 32pp. $16.99. 978-0-7614-5815-9. Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning.

Princess Peepers is an independent, spirited, and creative young woman, quite different from the other princesses at the Royal Academy for Perfect Princesses. Princess Peepers also must wear glasses, while the other princesses do not. All the princesses, except Princess Peepers, are thrilled when the grand matron announces the upcoming pet show. Princess Peepers does not have a pet, but rather than help Grand Matron behind the curtain, she begins the quest for a suitable pet. The princesses scoff at her first attempts, leaving Peepers quite disconcerted. As she thinks about finding a suitable pet, she stumbles and loses her glasses. A pet actually finds Peepers and without her glasses, Peepers mistakes it for a unicorn. Peepers and her new found pet fly to the pet show – surprising everyone including herself, once she sees clearly with a new pair of glasses, with her most unusual pet of the show. Although the characters are quite flat, Peepers personality and her unique pet are endearing. (DLN) 

Carey, Janet Lee. 2012. Dragonswood. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 403pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-8037-3504-0.

In 1192 A.D. on Wilde Island, Tess, the daughter of an abusive blacksmith father, yearns to leave her life of misery. Brief steels in the forbidden forest of Dragonswood offer much needed reprieve (and prophecies), but being there has grave consequences. Being spotted in Dragonswood eventually lands her accusations of being a witch. Rather than suffering a deadly fate from the witch hunter, Tess escapes into the forest. Tess is eventually joined by her best friends Meg and Poppy, who have also been accused of being witches. En route to seek food and shelter, the three girls find themselves cold, hungry, and caring for Meg’s husband. In enters Garth, a huntsman and woodsguard. Garth offers the four fugitives safety. Slowly Tess begins learning the morbid truth about Wilde Island: the king is dead, the royal treasure is missing, interim Lord Sackmoore is evil, and the island suffers political unrest. Tess must cast her mistrust of people aside and rely on her gut and her visions if she not only wants the rightful heirs to assume the throne, but also to bring three different species together to live in harmony. Fantasy and darkness, romance and risk, mystery and suspense can all be found in this novel. It is a library must-have. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Carle, Eric. (2012). Have you seen my cat? Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4575-9. (Original copyright 1987).

The transformation from a picture book (1987) to a Ready*To*Read Pre-Level One reader (2012) has not changed the universal appeal of Have you seen my cat? Not only is this an early reader for youngsters ages 4 – 7, but it is also a concept book of cats, including a lion, puma, panther, jaguar, Persian, bobcat, tiger, cheetah, and of course, the boy’s cat. (DLN) 

Carnesi, Monica. 2012. Little dog lost: The true story of a brave dog named Baltic. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Nancy Paulson Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25666-0.

The end notes are as heartwarming as the story of a dog, stranded on a piece of ice in the Vistula River near Grudziadz, Poland, who is eventually saved by a crew on a scientific research vessel called the R/V Baltica. Teachers and caregivers may enjoy this drama as much as youngsters, and in addition to sharing the adventure of a lost dog, readers can observe the dangerous conditions of the floating ice and predict the sequence of events based on the text and the illustrations. All ages. (DLN) 

Casanova, Mary. (2007). The klipfish code. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper), [email protected], 800-597-6127. 240 pp. $6.99, ISBN 978-0-547-74447-6.

Set in 1940 on Godøy Island, east of Alesund, Norway, The klipfish code is a tale of resistance, perseverance, and resilience of Norwegians objecting to the German occupation of the country during WWII. Because of the development of the characters, the intrigue, and the multiple conflicts of person v. self, person v. person, person v. society, and person v. nature, this is an excellent choice to
read-aloud to students in grades 4 – 7. (DLN) 

Cash, John Carter. (2012). The cat in the rhinestone suit. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon Inspirations). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $17.99. 978-1-4169-7483-3. Illustrated by Scott Nash.

Cat lovers may enjoy this silly drama full of rhyming words noticeable by their red or blue colors. Even though young readers, ages 4 – 7, may understand this is a ridiculous play or show, the characters, i.e., the animals, should have recognizable characteristics. However, this is not always true. Cat rides a bandicoot through the desert in daylight as one would ride a horse. This is nonsense, because a
bandicoot is a small marsupial mammal, 12 – 17 inches long and weighing about 2 pounds. Bandicoots live in the forest, preferring moist environments, and because they are nocturnal, they spend the daylight hours hiding. As pictured, they can be brown or striped, but they do not move as a horse; instead, they hop like kangaroos. Furthermore, as with the kangaroo, the bandicoot exhibits complex syndactyly with its second and third toes fused together. (DLN) 

Cecil, Lauren. 2011. Pooh’s cleanup. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Grosset & Dunlap). [email protected], (212-366-2000), 24 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-45558-7. Illustrated by Andrew Grey.

Although the illustrations are disappointing, the story of Pooh and his friends mirrors the relationships among the characters in Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. In this tale, Pooh throws a birthday party for Piglet, inviting all of his friends. When Christopher Robin, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo leave the party, Pooh has an enormous mess in his apartment. The story has a happy ending when Pooh’s friends return to help him clean up. The theme of friendship prevails – and the cliché, many hands make for light work, is reinforced. (DLN) 

Cerullo, Mary, M. 2012. City fish, country fish. Tilbury House Publishers. [email protected], (800-582-1899). 32 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-88448-323-6. Photographs by Jeffrey L. Rotman. (Review from a galley proof).

Relating fish habitats to concepts known to children, such as, city, country, and street smart will help students remember multiple interesting facts about the fishes of the different bioregions in the world. The colorful photographs of the fish include captions identifying each one. A glossary and additional titles about fish complement this informational book for children ages 4 – 9. The author also provides an accurate comparison of “fish” and “fishes.” Unfortunately, details of the dimensions/size of the fish and their habitats are left to the imaginations of the readers. (DLN) 

Chancellor, Deborah. 2011. Discover science: Planet Earth. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6605-6.

The young readers’ series Discover science: Planet Earth is a captivating children’s science book. Chapters such as “Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Weather, and Climate” create keen, intelligent awareness about our planet. Similar to other books in this series, creative activities and suggestions for parents and teachers assist the reader to think and experiment. Beautiful pictures add to the learning process (BNS). 

Chancellor, Deborah. 2007. Everything you need to know: An encyclopedia for inquiring young minds. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 320pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6667-4.

Everything you need to know is another successful resource for children ages 4+. This book is a perfect book for young minds exploring topics such as our earth, people and places, science, space, etc. With more than 2,000 illustrations and easy-to-follow chapters, this informative book will be a good resource for beginning school projects (BNS). 

Cheng, Andrea. 2012. The year of the book. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 160pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-68463-5. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin.

Nine-year-old Anna Wang is a Chinese American girl. Her friend Laura spends less time with her, so Anna mostly keeps her nose in a book. Meanwhile, Anna’s mom is always nagging her to learn to read and write Chinese, and Anna struggles to understand cultural balances. Slowly, with the help of her crossing guard friend named Ray and her mother’s boss Mr. Shepard, readers will be able to watch Anna understand some of life’s little challenges. Some readers will empathize and/or sympathize with Anna’s frustrations and relish in her final moment of joy. This fiction book has good character development, which would make for a good read for any student struggling to find their identity. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Chrisp, Peter. 2011. Explore Titanic. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. (Carlton’s Books Limited). barronseduc.com, (800-645-3476). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4380-7159-6. Illustrated by Somchith Vongprachanh.

This book tells the story of the Titanic and its ill-fated maiden voyage. Readers are able to explore the majestic ship with detailed illustrations, diagrams and photographs. The people that worked aboard the Titanic and some of its well -known passengers are also highlighted and brought back to life. This book comes with a CD that allows readers to explore the ship in 3D with interactive animation. (LB) 

Chrisp, Peter. 2011. Navigators: Pirates. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6611-7..

Navigator books are subject-oriented. Pirates takes the reader into the land of actual pirates. The latest information which is available in this series guides the young reader through the real acts of piracy, battles, and travels. Pirate raids from the seven seas are recorded and explored through the lives of some of the most notorious pirates. Illustrations add a visual aid to the stories, enhancing each active written page! (BNS) 

Clayton, Emma. 2012. The whisper. Scholastic Inc. (The Chicken House). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 309pp. $17.99. ISBN978—545-31772-6.

This is a great, great book that readers should have as a sequel to The roar (2009). Twins Ellie and Mika have been reunited, but to remain so, they must carry out the evil deeds of Mal Gorman. The setting is the same as the first book. There is a monstrous 50-foot-high wall that divides the rich from the poor. Telepathic and extraordinary twins Ellie and Mika would like to reunite themselves and all the other mind-controlled soldiers with their parents on the “other” side of the wall. However, Mal Gorman wants the twins to carry out his agenda, which is to steal an age-reversing drug from the rich. Meanwhile, the poor catch wind that the “other” side offers riches and luxury, so then the uprising begins. This book has got a rocket strapped to its back! The plot is action packed, the characters—mutants, villains, good guys—show some depth, and the science fiction thrill genre is rare and refreshing. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Clements, Andrew. 2012. Benjamin Pratt and the keepers of the school: The whites of their eyes. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 207pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-3888-0.

Since this third book in The keepers of the school series begins where the last book left off, it should be read after books one and two. Developers would still like to tear down the revered Oakes School and replace it with an amusement park. Time may be dwindling, but protagonist Benjamin Pratt and his friend Jill have a few things working to their advantage. Among other things, whiz kid (and weirdo) Robert can help defy a security system, and banker Mr. Rydens explains a codicil and a very helpful interest gain. But the evil Mr. Lyman has got a few tricks up his sleeve when it comes to tearing down the school. Benjamin wants to react by attacking right away, but he decides to heed an American officer’s famous order, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” Fans will enjoy reading to see if Benjamin and his friends waited long enough to see the “whites” or if premature or delayed efforts destroy a part of their town’s history. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Clive, Gifford. 2011. Robots. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-66-7-0.

One of the first science-related projects a young boy enjoys is playing with robotic components. This play tool plus this book will incite more interest in this particular scientific concept. The reader will learn the broad use of robotics from controllers, arms, sixes, and acobite humans and animals. The diverse use of robotics in space, medicine, and national security issues intensifies this exciting book. Projects and notes help make the book another resource for science classes. Pictures associated with each function provide a good link in the learning process (BNS). 

Corse, Nicole. 2011. Sea horses. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32pp. $3.99. ISBN9870-0545-27333-6.

Scholastic Readers develop fascinating, grade-level reading material about unique topics. This reader explores the life and activity of sea horses. Photographs enhance each facet discussed in the book. Recommended for grades 1-2. (BNS) 

Coville, Bruce. 2008. Moongobble and me: The naughty nork. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 107pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-0810-4. Illustrated by Katherine Coville.

Leaving the village of Pigbone, Edward, Fireball, and a magician named Moongobble (along with Urk the toad) must travel to Flitwick City to find some answers. Oggledy Nork has been transformed into a monster, and in order to fix the problem a curse must be lifted. The Dangley-Boo is the least of their troubles in finding the cave of the old woman who can help. The quartet must work through the dangers and deceit involved with the curse’s eradication. With short chapters and plenty of illustrations, this is a creative and entertaining read for young and reluctant readers. Highly recommended for grades K-4. (ADA) 

Crimi, Carolyn. 2011. Dear Tabby. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-114245-1. Illustrated by David Roberts.

Dear Abby is the name of the advice column founded in 1956 by Pauline Phillips under the pen name Abigail Van Buren and carried on today by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now owns the legal rights to the pen name. The Chicago Sun-Times presents Dear Abby articles that answer your life questions, concerns, and more. In the spirit and style of the syndicated column of Dear Abby, Tabby, a dumpster cat, answers questions and concerns of Boots, a pampered cat, Manfred, a bored beagle, a chatty parrot named Pauline, Stanky Skunque, Betty Bear, Fizzy Hamster, and Guy Groundhogg. All are pursuing happiness and Tabby’s last letter to Manfred offers sage advice for everyone to follow – happiness may be nearby, but sometimes we need to make it happen. Ages 4 – 8. (DLN) 

Cusick, Dawn. 2012. Get the scoop on animal poop!. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-225-3214). 77pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-936140-42-8.

All living organisms in the animal kingdom ingest food and therefore must poop. This book explores the waste material from different animals and educates readers about some of the other functions of feces, such as fooling predators and marking territories. Elementary readers will be entertained by the funny and grotesque side of this book while also learning the basic science behind fecal matter. The many photographs in this book also help to communicate the subject matter in a fun and educational manner. (LB) 

Cussler, Clive. 2010. The adventures of hotsy totsy. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 162pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25434-5.

Ten-year-old twins Casey and Lacey use their willpower to turn a model of the vintage championship speedboat Hotsy Totsy into a full-sized boat. Their intentions are to enter and win the Gold Cup National Powerboat Race by zooming up the Sacramento River. When the twins are kidnapped by “The Boss” and his nasty gang of bank robbers, their Gold Cup plans are jeopardized. This is an okay adventure read for youngsters. It might appeal more to a few boat racing fans. The characters are underdeveloped, and the plot is somewhat disjointed and without purpose. There are better magical adventure stories to teach students in the classroom. Grades 3-5. (ADA) 

Cyrus, Kurt. 2011. The voyage of turtle rex. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-42924-3.

Through clever rhyme, the reader experiences the life and challenges facing the prehistoric sea turtle, Archelon. First, Archelon must leave the beach for safety before being crushed under the weight of a giant T-Rex or eaten by other predators. Then, she must brave a sea of creatures bigger than herself. Soon, though, she grows to be the largest turtle of all time and follows her instincts back to the beach from which she came in order to start a new generation. Early readers will be captivated by the illustrations and adventures of the prehistoric sea turtle, while adult readers will appreciate the flowing verse that entertains while it educates. (MW, TW) 

Davies, Katie. 2010. The great hamster massacre. Simon and Schuster (Beach Lane Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 177pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4414-2062-5. Illustrated by Hannah Shaw.

Equipped with a peppy plot and some funny prose, The great hamster massacre has all ingredients for a great read. Anna and her little brother Tom finally get the hamsters they have been begging for. Yippy and double yippy when there are suddenly eight new hamster arrivals. How did that happen? But things turn sour when Anna and Tom see that their hamsters’ cage turns into a murder scene and all the hamsters fall victim. Brother and sister don’t believe who the vet suspects, so they take matters into their own hands. They march straight to the police (the neighbor lady), and all together they generate their list of suspects, check alibis, and snoop around. Anna and Tom may or may not find who murdered their beloved pets, but this is a hilarious who-dun-it mystery story. With tone, style, illustrations, and a whole lot of personality, this book is a winner for parents, police, vets, and kids of all ages. Highly recommended. (ADA) 

Davies, Stephen. 2011. Outlaw. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 304 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-39017-8.

When Jake Knight, fifteen year old son of the British ambassador (High Commissioner) to Birkino Faso, is suspended from an elite English boarding school, he returns to Birkino Faso to live with his family. However, Birkino Faso is politically unstable, and one evening the most wanted man in the Sahara kidnaps Jake and his sister Kirsty, or Kas. However, with the corruption amongst government officials, it is difficult to separate the truth from the propaganda. Readers with a passion for action, mystery, and high tech tools, will enjoy this thriller set in Birkino Faso, a country in western Africa about the size of the state of Colorado. (DLN) 

DeCristofano, Carolyn Cinami. 2012. A black hole is not a hole. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 74pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-783-7. Illustrated by Michael Carroll.

What is a black hole? How are black holes formed? Where are black holes? These questions and more are all answered in this informative book. Readers of all ages will find the subject matter in this book intriguing as they explore each chapter to have their questions answered. The addition of timelines, a glossary and images all give the reader a better understanding of these amazing places. (LB) 

Denenberg, Barry. 2011. Titanic sinks!. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 72pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01243-5.

The Titanic and all its luxuries took three years to build and utilized the work efforts of 14,000 people. Why then did it sink on its maiden voyage? This book details the complete story of the Titanic, from the very beginning of the building process to its fateful trip across the Atlantic Ocean. Readers also learn about the people involved in building the Titanic, the employees working on the ship and the passengers aboard on that fateful night. The photographs, newspaper articles and diagrams all help to give an accurate account of the majestic ship and what it was like to be aboard on its doomed voyage. (LB) 

Derting, Kim. 2012. The last echo. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 360pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-208219-0.

There is no hitch in author Kimberely Derting’s giddy-up with this third novel in the Bodyfinder series. Seventeen-year-old Violet Ambrose has the unique ability to find those who killed and those who are killed. In this entry, Violet is exercising her skills by working for a covert agency with police ties. Relationship woes between her boyfriend and her emerge when Jay begins to question Violet’s partnership with paranormal prodigy Rafe. Relationship issues, however, are only a minor subplot. When a female college student goes missing and a suspect referred to as “the collector” is revealed, things really get interesting. The case turns huge when Violet is targeted. Although it can be read apart from the series, fans are going to love this next-in-line book. This is a gripping mystery and suspense tale where a likable heroine throws caution to the wind and risks her own life so as not to betray who she really is. Applause! Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Donovan, Sandy. 2011. Did president Grant really get a ticket for speeding in a horse-drawn wagon? And other questions about U.S. presidents. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 40pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-61001-5.

Facts and myths about U.S. Presidents dominate our political history. This book states common beliefs about seventeen presidents. Included is a brief discussion about the validity of each belief. Fans of presidential trivia will love this book. Illustrations support each belief. Ages 10+. (BNS) 

Dudley, David L. 2011. Caleb’s wars. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 263pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-23997-2.

Caleb faces numerous obstacles as a black teenager in rural Georgia in 1944. In addition to the racial challenges he must face each day, he is worried about his brother Randall who has been sent to fight in the war, and he feels caught between his parents and their differing opinions of how Caleb should live his life. Caleb embarks on a journey of self-discovery as he tries to be the person his family and friends expect him to be while also remaining loyal to himself. This book will appeal to middle school students that are also finding the independence to be their own person. (LB) 

Durand, Hallie. 2011. No room for Dessert. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 177pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0360-4. Illustrated by Christine Danvenier.

Eight-year-old Dessert Schneider is literally searching for her identity. A little sensitive to her family’s focus on running their household and fondue business and tending to her younger brother’s needs, Dessert is looking for a way to recapture some of the attention. Cha-ching! Dessert has an idea. She is sure her “Vending Dresser” idea is going to take first place in the Thomas Edison Contest at her school. Will Dessert get the trophy and win back the affections of her parents? New fans, as well as fans of the first three books, will enjoy the creativity this novel has to offer. It includes black and white illustrations, classroom contest ideas, and whimsical ideas. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Durbin, Frederic S. 2012. The star shard. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-37025-5.

For Cymbril, life aboard the Thunder Rake as a slave is hard and lonely. As the wheeled city travels the countryside stopping to sell goods at various markets, Cymbril must always be ready to sing and attract customers. When she befriends Loric, a fellow slave, she begins to long for another life. The two of them plot their escape, but they need a perfectly executed plan in order to gain their freedom. Cymbril’s journey and the fantasy world in which she lives will appeal to upper elementary and middle schools students. This story is one that leaves the reader cheering for the underdogs and eagerly anticipating what will come next. (LB) 

Falwell, Cathryn. 2011. Pond babies. Down East Books. [email protected]st.com, (800-685-7962). 32pp. $15.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-920-3.

In this book for young children, a mother takes her child to the pond to see what kinds of baby animals they can find. When they discover a baby animal they try to guess whose baby it is, and the answer is revealed on the next page. Very young children will enjoy having this book read to them and exploring the illustrations of the different pond animals. (LB) 

2011. The family storybook treasury: Tales of laughter, curiosity, and fun. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 304 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-61221-8. Illustrated by multiple artists.

The stories and poems in this collection are quite diverse and include the following titles: Curious George and the firefighters (2004), Lyle walks the dogs (2010), Martha speaks (1992), Sheep in a jeep (1986), Tacky the penguin (1988), Five little monkeys jumping on the bed (1989), Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel (1939), The cheetah (from Bow wow meow meow,2003), The egret (from Soup for breakfast, 2008), Caterpillar (from A pocketful of poems, 2001), Song of the water boatman (from Song of the water boatman, 2005), Tree horse (from Old elm speaks: Tree poems, 1998), Robert’s four at-bats (from Technically it’s not my fault, 2004) , The sphinx ain’t all that (from Frankenstein takes the cake, 2008), and Lying on the lawn (from Guyku, 2010). A read-along CD is an excellent tool for students learning to read and young English Language Learners (ELLs). Stories are appropriate for ages 3 – 8 and the poetry is for everyone. (DLN) 

Feldman, Jody. 2010. The seventh level. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 298pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195105-3.

Seventh grader Travis Roines yearns to become a member of The Legend, a secret society at his Lauer Middle School. When Travis begins receiving blue envelopes marked with “For Your Eyes Only,” he assumes he is a candidate for The Legend and quickly gets to work solving the envelopes’ puzzles. The solutions do not come easily for the young Travis, however. Being a notoriously mischievous boy by nature, the school is now pointing fingers in Travis’s direction when several school items go missing. Travis eventually wonders if buying gum for the whole sixth grade, cramming a waste basket in a locker, or stealing flowers is going to get him into trouble or get him inducted into The Legend. This book falls short of Blue Balliet’s The Calder game and Maureen Sherry’s Walls within walls. The plot is somewhat disjointed and the pacing is occasionally slow. Credit does go to the smartly written puzzles and the mystery of whether or not Travis is being sabotaged or considered for greatness. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Ford, Michael Thomas. 2010. Z. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 276pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-073758-0.

It’s the year 2032, 15 years after a mutated flu virus that turns people into zombies is wiped out in all but the video-gaming world. To divert his parents’ disapproval of playing his much-loved zombie video game, talented video-gamer Josh jumps at the opportunity to play the game in real life. The reality starts out exciting for Josh, but he suddenly discovers the blood is real, and the zombies are quondam friends. The character development is a bit strained, but the plot flame-throws plenty of action, suspense, and horror. This science fiction zombie thriller is a must read. Recommended for grades 7 and up. (ADA) 

Fox, Mem. 2012. Two little monkeys. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-1-4169-8687-4. Illustrated by Jill Barton.

Similar to the rhyming verse and rhythm of 5 little monkeys jumping on the bed (Eileen Christselow), two little monkeys, Cheeky and Chee, learn an important lesson about playing close to home. Young
children, ages 3 – 7, will enjoy the meter and the chain of events, but the illustrations are odd. The faces and hands of the monkeys are definitely human-like with five fingers, but the feet are peculiar, often shown with only four toes (p. 27 unnumbered). Although at least three types of monkeys have lost or reduced thumbs, e.g., spider, woolly, and colobus monkeys, all primates have prehensile feet with five fingers and therefore have the ability to grasp objects like a hand, as accurately drawn on p. 29 (unnumbered). (DLN) 

Francis, Lee DeCora. 2012. Kunu’s basket: A story from Indian Island. Tilbury House Publishers. [email protected], (800-582-1899). 32 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-88448-330-4. Illustrated by Susan Drucker. (Review from a galley proof).

Contemporary Native American stories by Native Americans are rare. This story about a Penobsot (Maine) boy, Kunu, reflects the values of family, perseverance, and tradition. Kunu is learning the art of basket weaving, a skill passed on from one generation of males to another. While the story is about Kunu weaving his first backpack basket, readers can observe additional designs on the last page of the book. Ages 4 – 9. (DLN) 

Freedman, Russell. 2012. Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas: The story of an American friendship. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 113pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-38562-4.

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass are two prominent figures in American History. This book tells the story of how the president of the United States and a leading abolitionist formed a relationship that would impact our country and race relations for generations to come. This nonfiction book uses illustrations, photographs, and historical documents to give the reader additional insight into the history of the United States and how these two men factored into it. (LB) 

Galdone, Paul. 2011. The three Billy Goats Gruff: A folk tale classic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-57655-8. (1973, 2001) 

Galdone, Paul. 2012. Little Red Riding Hood. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-66855-0. (1974)

Galdone, Paul. 2011. The Gingerbread Boy: A folk tale classic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-59940-3. (1975, 1979)

The reprinting of Paul Galdone’s (1907-1986) retellings of three classic tales, The three Billy Goats Gruff (Norwegian), Little Red Riding Hood (French, German, et al), and The Gingerbread Boy (USA) is welcome to librarians, teachers, caregivers, and children who need to replace their old and tattered copies. Galdone’s adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood is unique, and his illustrations in all of the tales are whimsical, including the representation of the nasty troll in The three Billy Goats Gruff. The books are highly recommended for all ages, including students in traditional folk literature courses. (DLN) 

Ganeri, Anita. 2011. Explorers: Rainforests. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $10.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6590-5. Illustrated by Peter Bull.

The excellent Explorers series helps children understand clearly mysterious aspects of our universe. The book Rainforests is interactive, discussing the nature of rainforests in various parts of the world. Animals, plants, and inhabitants are presented in a way children should enjoy. Very colorfully illustrated. Ages 8+. (BNS) 

Garretson, Dee. 2011. Wolf storm. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 288 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0062000323.

According to an article in TimeScience by B. Walsh (Wednesday, January 4, 2012) titled “Why wild animals and Hollywood don’t mix,” the inclusion of wild or socialized wolves in a Hollywood set would be highly regulated, even in a set located in Slovakia, Eastern Europe. According to Walsh, film industry amended its rules in 1980 to require the “proper treatment of animals.” The new rule allowed American Humane Association (AHA) representatives on movie sets to monitor the treatment, although the industry is not obliged to invite AHA to any film location. According to Walsh, the new rule prompted the well-known line in end credits of films using animals “No animals were harmed in the making of this film.” Wild and socialized wolves are integral to the plot and conflicts in Wolf storm, set on a film location in Slovakia. The wolves are both antagonists and protagonists and not all survive. While readers 8 – 12 may enjoy the plot, setting, characters, and theme of survival, the treatment of the wolves in the story may be troubling and misleading. On the other hand, it may prompt an investigation into the real habits of wolves and the rationale for the 1980 amendment in the film industry about the treatment of animals. (DLN) 

Gifford, Clive. 2011. Explorers: Things that go. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $10.00. ISBN 978-0-7534-6593. Illustrated by Peter Bull.

From the Kingfisher Explorers series, Things that go is a good reference tool for young readers. Children are always fascinated with speed and those machines which travel at a fast pace. This is a good interactive guide for beginning science classes that deal with the physics of speed. Illustrations by Peter Bull give life to this wonderful book. (BNS) 

Gilpin, Daniel. 2011. Explorers: Planet Earth. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6591-2. Illustrated by Peter Bull.

Earth is a diverse, colorful planet. This book depicts various facts about our planet. Volcanoes, oceans and mountains are just a sample of the subjects. Interactive links add important and interesting information about each chapter. Beautifully illustrated. (BNS) 

Going, K. L. 2012. Dog in charge. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-366-2000), 40pp. ISBN 978-0803734791. Illustrated by Dan Santat.

Good, smart Dog is left in charge of the house and five cats while the family drives away on an outing. In spite of Dog’s efforts, the cats do not follow his directions; in fact, much like the events in The cat in the hat, the cats transform the house from complete order and neatness to chaos and total disorder. Dog is worried, but the cats love him, and while Dog naps in despair, the cats clean up the messy house. Dog learns quite a few lessons in this tale, including the values of love, friendship, and appreciation of others. (DLN) 

Gondosch, Linda. 2011. Where did Sacagawea join the corps of discovery? And other questions about the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected] (800-328-4020). 48pp. $21.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5226-6.

The voyage and discovery of the 1804 Lewis and Clark expedition began through the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. This territory, which Thomas Jefferson purchased in 1803 in a desire to find a quick passage to the Pacific Ocean and allow traders easier access to markets in Asia, nearly doubled the land mass of the United States, stretching the country from the Atlantic Ocean to the Rocky Mountains. This book follows the journey of Lewis and Clark, giving extensive detail to every aspect of their exploration. Vocabulary words are highlighted; pictures and drawings carry the reader through every mountain, valley, and encounter with the Native American. This work provides an exciting supplement to American history lessons. (BNS) 

Grabenstein, Chris. 2012. Riley Mack: And the other known trouble makers. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 305pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-202620-0.

Eleven-year-old Riley Mack has got a lot going on. He has to devise a way to either outwit the school bully or somehow get the bully to play on his team. There are other problems as well. His mom’s boss seems a bit shady – perhaps it’s the thousands of dollars gone missing that makes him sound suspect? Not to mention that over 50 dogs have been found, but not the Goldendoodle dog that originally went missing. Riley Mack calls on his friends, Briana, Mongo, Jake, and Jamal to help solve each piece of this puzzle. Teachers looking for a lighthearted and entertaining detective story can walk their students through this book. It is fun for everyone. Recommended. Grades 3-8. (ADA) 

Grant, M. 2011. The magnificent 12: Book 2: The trap. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 294pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-183368-7.

Riddled with wit, wisdom, and some downright zany adventures, readers are going to find this second book in the Magnificent 12 series an enjoyable adventure story. Mack MacAvoy is a bit nerdy and wimpy, but according to an apparition named Grimluck, he is one of twelve kids destined to save the world from the evil Pale Queen and her equally dangerous daughter Risky. The clock is ticking, and Mack, along with former-bully-turned-bodyguard Stefan, must travel from Australia to Beijing to continue to assemble the Magnificas. With sinister Paddy “Nine Iron” causing problems, Mack finds himself being attacked by a giant grasshopper, smacked by an elf, accosted by a shape-shifting death princess, and transported on the back of a lovesick dragon. Things really get hairy when facing the angry Norse gods. Despite challenges, they find Xia, Dietmar, and Valin and therefore increase the Magnifica assemblage to five. Likable characters and a plot full of vivid descriptions and plenty of action will make readers impatient for book three. Meanwhile, teachers could use this series to teach about suspense and irony. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Gravet, Emily. 2012. Wolf won’t bite! Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336), 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2763-1.

Three pigs have captured the wolf in this pastiche of The three little pigs. Each pig forces the wolf to perform or tolerate a variety of humiliating actions, telling the reader all is well because “wolf won’t bite” regardless of the provocation. The ending may not be a total surprise to readers because the wolf finally reacts to the pigs’ egotism. (DLN) 

Green, Tim. 2011. Deep zone. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 265pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-201244-9.

Young football fans ages eight through twelve will enjoy following Troy White’s latest plots, including adventure on and off the field. This coming of age story is full of mystery, intrigue, relationships (both positive and negative), and of course football games and tournaments. (DLN) 

Greene, Stephanie. 2010. Happy birthday, Sophie Hartley. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (617-351-1185). 127pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-547-25128-8.

Nine-year-old Sophie Hartley, who is soon to turn 10, wants nothing other than a baby gorilla for her birthday. She has researched the upbringing of gorillas thoroughly, and she has spread the word that a gorilla will be her birthday gift to her classmates. Her peers do not believe it, so Sophie has to do something so she is not labeled as a liar. The plot is simple, the humor is light, and the characters are believable. Recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Grimes, Nikki. 2011. Planet middle school. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 154pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-284-5.

Twelve-year-old Joylin Johnson’s life was simple when she was younger and she knew it. It went a little something like this: school, basketball, family, and a few friends. Then, suddenly, her life changed. Now things aren’t so simple. She begins taking interest in hunky schoolmate Santiago, starts to ditch boy friend (not boyfriend) Jake, and redefines herself with lipstick, skirts, and high heels to direct Santiago’s attention to her and away from another girl named KeeLee. Friendships are forged, then broken, then forged again, which offers teenage girl readers a good message: be true to who you are. Any teacher or counselor with a small group of teenage, female students would find this a good, solid addition to any curriculum. Small group of teenage girls or not, this book of free-flowing free-verse poems is nicely crafted. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Gutman, Dan. 2012. Ted and me. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 194pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-123487-3.

Hats off, once again, to another successful Dan Gutman baseball card adventure novel. Joe “Stosh” Stoshack continues to carry the unique ability to travel back to the exact year reflected on the baseball card he holds in his hand. This time, however, the FBI has caught wind of Stosh’s talent and demands that he travels back to 1941 to warn President Roosevelt of a Japanese invasion and hopefully prevent the Pearl Harbor attack. A bit reluctant to follow FBI orders initially, Stosh becomes motivated when he hatches an additional plan. Not only would he honor the request of the government, but he might possibly be able to convince Ted Williams – one of the greatest hitters of all times – to stay out of the Marines for 5 years to continue improving his baseball hitting stats. Gutman’s Baseball Card Adventure series needs to be in every classroom or library in the United States. Lots of baseball lore, history, and tips for young baseball fans litter this novel. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8 (ADA) 

Hahn, Mary Downing. 2012. Mister death’s blue-eyed girl. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 336 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-76062-9.

Teenagers, Cheryl Miller and Bobbi Jo Boyd, are shot and killed by an unknown assailant as they walked to school one morning in 1956. Although the prologue informs readers about the assailants, all of the
characters in the book, except Nora, believe Harold Novak, better known as Buddy, murdered the girls. Told through the eyes of Nora, readers will discover the disastrous, life-changing effects of the
murders on everyone in the community. Hopefully, young adults, ages 14 and older, will have the opportunity to discuss the events as they read this tragic, masterfully crafted story. (DLN) 

Hale, Bruce. (2012). Santa on the loose. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperFestival), [email protected] (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-202262-2. Illustrated by Dave Garbot.

As with the Where’s Waldo books (Martin Handford), the I spy series (Jean Marzolla and Walter Wick), and the Can you see what I see picture puzzles to search and solve (Walter Wick), Santa on the loose is a book of searching, observation, and prediction. Readers must find Santa, located in a new place in every scene, to help solve the mystery of the missing toys. Bruce Hale presents six suspects in the missing toy caper on the first two pages of the book and readers are invited to help catch the thief through the clues on each page of the book. All ages may enjoy identifying the evidence and predicting the identity of the thief. Is it Loki the Reindeeer, or Roz the Bear, or Kenra, Santa’s Helper, or Emo the Elf, or Softy the Snowman, or Arlo the Penguin? (DLN) 

Halls, Kelly Milner. 2011. In search of Sasquatch. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 64pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-25761-7.

The legend of Sasquatch is one that many people believe, while others are convinced it is a hoax. Numerous people on both sides of the argument have tried to convince others that their position is correct. In this book Kelly Milner Halls examines the issue by using historical accounts, physical evidence, and Sasquatch sightings to determine whether or not the creature is real. Elementary students will be able to read the text and examine the photographs and illustrations in this book to draw their own conclusions about the validity of this elusive creature. (LB) 

Hansen, Joyce. 2010. Home is with our family. Harper Collins Publishers (Hyperion-Disney), 2010. [email protected], (219-207-7000). 282pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-078685217. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

Protagonist Maria is about to turn thirteen when she discovers a true passion for the preservation of her life, her land, and her rights as a human being. This novel sets in New York during the 1850’s, a very pivotal time for the abolitionist’s movement. Part of New York City’s plan is to eliminate the poor and dilapidated sections of town and turn them into a park. While being forced to move from their home creates strains within the family, Maria finds herself in awe of the black inspirational speaker Sojourner Truth. The cast of characters is quite large and some events stray from the true issues at hand, but the setting is absolutely real and reflects New York’s 1850’s setting accurately. Teachers would find parts of this historical fiction valuable to teach about compassion and commitment to family and friends in the tough economic times of slavery and the progression of the history of our land. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)

Harper, Charise Mericle. 2011. If waffles were like boys. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer+Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-177998-5. Illustrated by Scott Magoon.

Meant to be whimsical and amusing, this book was more irritating as it promoted stereotypes of boys and their actions. It lacks creativity in its analogies and is fairly mediocre in general. (MW) 

Hassett, Ann. 2011. Too many frogs! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-36299-1. Illustrated by John Hassett.

This silly book tells the tale of poor Nana Quimby whose house is being overrun with frogs while she’s just trying to bake a cake. The invasion starts with a flood in the basement and ten frogs. The water is cleaned up, but the frogs just keep coming. Thankfully, the neighborhood children have ideas of what to do with the growing number of frogs. Illustrated with charming paintings, pre-schoolers/kindergarteners will enjoy counting the growing number of frogs and will laugh at its absurdity. (MW) 

Hathaway, Barbara. 2012. Letters to Missy Violet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 157pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-36300-4.

Eleven-year-old main character Viney, much to her mother’s dismay, looks forward to writing and receiving letters from Missy Violet. Although this is a sequel to Missy Violet and me (2004), the book makes for a very good time piece. The book takes place in a small southern town in 1929. The townspeople are a mix of rich, poor, black, and white. The KKK is in full swing, school is in session and opening with an essay contest, and small town drama exists everywhere. The characters are quite good – everybody is just trying to make the best out of what could be considered big incidents. This book would serve both teachers and students well. Its 1929 setting about growing up in a southern black town offers good, short lessons about African Americans and Southern states’ history. Recommended. Grades K-5. (ADA) 

Haworth, Danette. 2011. Me and Jack. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury-Walker Publishing Company). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 232pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-8027-9453-6.

Set against a Pennsylvania Mountains landscape, Me and Jack is a timeless tale of hope and friendship. Young Joshua Reed must once again move to follow his father’s Vietnam-era military recruiting livelihood. In efforts to help Joshua cope, his father lets him get a dog. Soon after Joshua brings Jack (a Pharaoh hound) home, a series of trouble strikes the neighborhood. Joshua is convinced that a coyote is the one wreaking havoc on the neighborhood, but neighbors, the neighborhood bully, and even the police are pointing their fingers at the Pharaoh hound! Josh’s dad would like to help extinguish all the hostility toward Jack, but he is busy trying to dissipate anti-war sentiments. It’s up to Josh to convince everybody that Jack is the innocent victim. This is an excellent and well-paced novel that accurately portrays a young boy’s sentiments and a war time’s intensity, and it is a must-have historical fiction for all English and history classrooms. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Hemphill, Stephanie. 2010. Wicked girls. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer+Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 408pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-185328-9.

Brimming with intrigue and suspense, this historical fiction novel about the Salem Witch Trials will keep its readers guessing and the pages turning. What starts out as a game for accusers Ann Putnum, Mercey Lewis, and Margaret Walcott, ultimately ends up in the persecution and death of 19 innocent townspeople during 1962. Growing weary of certain people and bad behaviors in their town—Ann hungers for her mother’s attention, Margaret tires of her “boyfriend’s” wandering eye, and Mercy is disgusted by Puritan men’s flirtations—the three girls assemble for a “blame” game. It seems easy for the girls to blame the bad behaviors on certain townspeople. However, when they see they have clearly taken things too far, it’s tough to renegotiate their accusations. Or are the accused simply getting what they deserve? Brutal and frightening, but a very skillful free verse poem to read this is a must read for any history teacher and his/her students, grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Henkes, Kevin. 2009. Birds. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). www.harpercollinschildren.com, (212-207-7000). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-136304-7. Illustrated by Laura Dronzek.

Birds come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Sometimes they are by themselves and other times they are in big groups. One minute you see them, and the next minute they are gone. This book about birds has simple text and large, colorful illustrations that will be attractive to preschool children. (LB) 

Henkes, Kevin. 2011. Junonia. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 176pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-196417-6.

Ever since about-to-be ten year old Alice can remember, she and her family have spent her birthday on vacation on Sanibel Island in Florida. Alice enjoys spending time with her family, but she mostly enjoys the predictability and structure of visiting the same neighbor friends and having a small birthday celebration. And, of course, Alice is looking for a new “first” in her life. This year Alice hopes to find her first Junonia shell. Routines are broken, however, when there is a new kid in town. This is a simple read with simple characters, setting, and plot. It is a very good book to teach students about the elements of a narrative. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Herrera, Juan Felipe. 2011. Skate fate. HarperCollins Publishers (Rayo). [email protected], (202-207-7000). 116pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-143287-3

Latino teen Lucky Z has had a rough life. His father, an Iraq veteran, has left him. His mother, the one he looked to for security, has died of breast cancer. Lucky has now landed himself in foster care after a drag racing accident has left him paralyzed. Unable to skateboard, drive, or even walk, Lucky Z has a newfound power: his voice. Skate fate is a quick, free verse read of poems compiled about Lucky Z’s school life, mostly – student behaviors, overheard cell phone conversations, laptop space bar cursors, etc. The book may teach readers, if anything, that poems are abstract and incomprehensible. If classroom teachers would like to teach poetry by Latino authors, there are better books out there. Not recommended. (ADA) 

Hermes, Patricia. 2011. Emma Dilemma, the nanny, and the best horse ever. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected]h.com, (914-332-8888). 137pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5905-7.

Problems for young Emma Dilemma are always intensified. In this sixth installment of the Emma Dilemma series, Emma is traumatized to learn that the nearby stables are going to sell her favorite horse, Rooney. Avid fans of the series know that Emma doesn’t let go easily, and she is no different in this book. She begs and she tries to borrow, but will Emma decide to steal in order to get what she wants? Like all of Hermes’s books in this series, this one shows that the love and kindness of others teaches Emma to grow and mature responsibly just a little bit more. It is an excellent means for teachers to teach problem-solving skills to students and an excellent read for students to learn logical problem-solution tactics. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Hillenbrand, Will. 2011. Mother Goose picture puzzles. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5808-1.

The rebus motif, or picture puzzles, is the unique feature of Hillenbrand’s presentation of twenty Mother Goose rhymes. The clues to each puzzle are located on the opposite page of each rhyme. Illustrations are whimsical, suggesting a humorous and colorful side of familiar Mother Goose rhymes, such as Jack and Jill, Little Bo-Peep, Little Boy Blue, Hickory Dickory Dock, and Wee Willie Winkie. Ages 3 – 8. (DLN). 

Hilton, Perez. 2011. The boy with pink hair. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Celebra Children’s Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-451-23420-9. Illustrated by Jen Hill.

Born an anomaly, the Boy with Pink Hair learns that being different can be difficult, but that embracing one’s uniqueness and gifts can change the world. Although his parents love him unconditionally, the Boy with Pink Hair has a hard time adjusting to a school filled with brown- and blonde-haired children until the Girl with Ponytails reassures him that it is okay to be different. He shows her his secret tree fort kitchen and prepares her a splendid pink treat, which comes in handy when the school kitchen’s oven breaks and the Principal is desperate for a meal to serve to the parents. The other students’ attitudes change as they work together to make the meal, and they realize that different can be good. The Boy with Pink Hair gets a break when a parent raves about his cooking and offers to use it in his restaurant. Thus, the world learns to appreciate not only pink food, but pink-haired children as well. (MW) 

Holiday, John and Robert S. McPherson. 2005. A Navajo legacy: The life and teachings of John Holiday. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (1-800-627-7377). 420pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0806141763.

Born near the turn of the 20th century, Navajo elder John Holiday spent much of his life on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Northeastern Arizona and Southeastern Utah. Over the course of his life, Holiday experienced the profound transformation that both the country and the Navajo Nation underwent. A Navajo legacy is a collection of stories told by John Holiday about his life and how his culture, identity, and experiences shaped his view of the world. The author does a commendable job of translating and organizing Holiday’s memories and teachings without removing his voice from the text. Holiday’s experiences as a child, his time in the army, recollections of working for the railroad, and even his memories of Uranium mining are as genuine and relatable as if spoken by your own grandfather, yet his perspective is unmistakably Navajo.

This title should be exceptionally enjoyable for all readers, regardless of their knowledge of Navajo culture or the history of the Southwest. It is not to be confused as a general reference book about Navajo culture and history, yet it will provide very real and touching discussions of both. A Navajo legacy will be especially interesting and most rewarding for those readers who possess some understanding of Native American cultures in the Southwest, even more so for those with specific knowledge about the Navajo people and their history. Regardless of your background or interests, Mr. Holiday’s intelligence, humor and humanity make A Navajo legacy well worth the time investment. (CL) 

Howe, Peter. 2012. Warriors of the black shroud. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 266pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-172987-4.

Buried deep in the Earth’s core is a kingdom called Nebula. Although darkness enshrouds it, Nebula’s very existence stems from a perpetual inner light that is protected by the lightkeepers. But danger always lurks in the darkness, and that darkness is ruled by the sinister Black Count and his Diablonian army. In enters 11-year-old Walker. He is an unlikely hero from the outer world who has been brought into Nebula because he bares the mark of the Chosen One. Along with his friends Frankie and Prince Edward, Walker must travel through the perilous darkness in order to help preserve the light. This book holds all the key elements of a magical fiction fantasy. Teachers will love the good v. evil theme, and students will love the endless surprises and unicorns, dragons, and other magical creatures. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Hynes, Margaret. 2011. Navigators: Extreme weather. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48pp. $12.99. ISBN 078-0-7534-6578-3.

Extreme weather swings have occupied the media across the country. Extreme weather relates accounts of “storm chasing,” safely observing storms from blizzards, hail storms, and hurricanes. The 3-D artwork enhances this book, which contains the most reliable information currently available. (BNS) 

Isadora, Rachel. 2012. Bea at ballet. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25409-3.

With illustrations reflecting a class of diverse young dance students, ages 2 – 4, this introduction to the basics of ballet will appeal to all dancers and aspiring ballet dancers. The smiling children convey their enthusiasm and appreciation for ballet. (DLN) 

Isop, Laurie. 2011. How do you hug a porcupine? Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 31pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1291-0. Illustrated by Gwen Millward.

Everybody needs a hug from time to time, even the prickly porcupine. In this story, young readers will explore the problem of how to hug a porcupine and enjoy its simple rhymes and whimsical paintings. (MW)

 Jeffrey, Mark. 2011. Max Quick: The pocket and the pendant. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 294pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-198892-9.

This book opens with protagonist Max Quick stumbling through the California countryside with no recollection of who he is or where he came from. He does seem to have quite a knack for thievery and pick pocketing, however. When time suddenly stops and everyone seems frozen, Max finds he is immune and sets out to find answers. Eventually he discovers that several other people are unaffected by the time-stop and wonders where those UFOs are going. When Max teams up with Casey, the truth lingers just around the corner. Max must put his quest for identity on hold if he wants to preserve the freewill of all. This is an amazing science fiction read that includes everything kids want to read about – aliens and UFOs, extraordinary abilities, and mythological creatures. Discussions on ethics and the theme of good v. evil are sure to follow if taught in the classroom. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Jenkins, Steve. 2012. The beetle book. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-68084-2.

Aspiring, novice, and experienced coleopterists (people who study beetles), will want to add The beetle book to their libraries. Because the number of beetles in the world exceeds 350,000 different types, it is impossible to record and discuss every beetle in a picture book. However, Jenkins is diligent in labeling, describing, and illustrating the characteristics of multiple beetles young readers may recognize from their observations of insects in their home environments. (DLN). 

Jenkins, Steve. 2011. Just a second: A different way to look at time. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-618-70896-3.

Steve Jenkins introduces young readers to amazing things that can happen in a second, then a minute, followed by an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year, concluding with the concepts of “very quick” and “very long.” Examples include observations and/or comparisons of a variety of animals, plants, and objects presenting the concept of time in a fascinating, unique, informative, and memorable format for young readers and readers who are young at heart. (DLN) 

Johnson, Peter. 2012. The amazing adventures of John Smith, Jr., aka Houdini. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 168pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-06-198890-5.

John Smith Jr., whom his friends call Houdini, is inspired to write a book when an author visits his school. He writes about himself, chronicling his problems with the neighborhood bully, his relationship with the Vietnam War vet, and his brother who is reported missing in action in Iraq. Houdini has a tough time dealing with these painful parts of his life, but through his writing, he is able to see things differently. This book is both sad and funny, and it is relatable for adolescents. (LB) 

Jones, Allan. 2011. The six crowns: Fair wind to widdershins. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 162pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200626-4. Illustrated by Gary Chalk.

Readers can set sail in a skyboat with squirrel Jack Nimble and hedgehogs Trundle and Esmeralda in this animal fantasy and adventure. The trio may be pursued by nasty pirates, but they’ve got an idea to help themselves find the second ancient, hidden, and power-giving crown made of iron. They will go ask Esmeralda’s mysterious, but aloof, aunt directions to the crown. Trouble follows immediately, however, when they discover that Aunt Millie betrays them. Now they must plod forward on their own. All the cast in this zany romp is a bit wack-a-doodle and all the “clanging and clonging and dinging and donging” of bells and gongs is going to rattle and tickle the funny bones of all readers. Libraries everywhere should house this book and all the other books in the series. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Jones, Allan. 2011. The six crowns: fire over Swallowhaven. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 154pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200629-5. Illustrated by Gary Chalk.

After breaching a no-fly zone, quirky crew Trundle, Esmeralda, and Jack must come up with a plan to avoid being incarcerated by the Swallowhaven citizens. A group of bloodthirsty pirates might be bad, but the three are granted reprieve when they help defeat the several sinister swashbucklers – for now, anyway. The pirates are a constant threat, but Trundle, Esmeralda, and Jack must not steer off course again if they hope to find the phoenix bird that knows the whereabouts of the third powerful crown, the Crown of Fire. This series is a bit predictable – it’s no secret that six crowns will be found within six books. Teachers could use this premise to their advantage by reading one book per month, per three months, or per year. Whatever the procedure, this fantasy adventure book is routine, captivating, and has a rip-roaring element (What’s that smell?) to it. Good fun. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Jones, Diana Wynne. 2012. Earwig and the witch. HarperCollins Publsihers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 117pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207511-6. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Earwig is living her life in an orphanage in absolute bliss. She has the natural ability to manipulate people to do what she wants, when she wants, and for however long she wants. Earwig’s bliss is threatened when a couple, Bella Yaga and Mandrake, wants to remove her from the orphanage by adopting her. When the adoption papers are signed, Earwig loses the control she once had over people and becomes a servant to her new guardians. Rather than throwing a tantrum, Earwig must now learn to negotiate in order to manipulate. Will she succeed? The characters are wacky and the plot is twisted, both of which will keep younger readers happy. This is a quick, fantasy read that is illustrated and humorous to boot! Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Jurmain, Suzanne Tripp. 2011. Worst of friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the true story of an American feud. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47903-1. Illustrated by Larry Day.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were best friends, and together they helped fight for America’s independence from Great Britain. As the years went on, the two of them began to disagree how the new country should be run and soon became political opponents, eventually running against each other for president. As time went on, the two of them resolved their feud and were able to regain the friendship they had many years earlier. This book tells elementary readers a fun story of friendship with a historical component. (LB) 

Kamkwamba, William, and Mealer, Bryan. 2012. The boy who harnessed the wind. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3511-8. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon.

William was fourteen years old when a drought struck his home in Malawi, causing famine and starvation and eventually forcing William to drop out of school. Despite these obstacles, he continued to pursue his interest in science and engineering by going to the library and exploring his interests independently. When he learned about windmills and their ability to produce electricity and water, he began to gather the materials to make one for his village. Although many people thought he was crazy, he was able to harness the wind and produce electricity. Elementary readers will enjoy this heartfelt story of determination that is enhanced with colorful illustrations. (LB) 

Kanplan, Michael B. 2011. Betty Bunny loves chocolate cake. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3407-1. Illustrated by Stephanie Jorisch.

Betty Bunny, the youngest of four bunnies, is definitely a handful. After trying chocolate cake for the first time, she decides she “loves chocolate cake.” Her passion for chocolate cake becomes an obsession, and Betty eventually learns a few lessons about appropriate behavior and patience – to a certain extent. After all is said and done, she is still a young bunny in love with chocolate cake. (DLN) 

Katz, Karen. 2011. No biting. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Grosset & Dunlap). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-448-45581-5. (Original copyright 2002). 

Katz, Karen. 2011. Excuse me! Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Grosset & Dunlap). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-448-45582-2. (Original copyright 2002).

Katz’s books Excuse me!, No biting! as well as No hitting! and I can share, are intended to promote manners and/or appropriate behaviors. One positive quality of No biting! is the alternative presented for each inappropriate behavior. For instance, if one should not bite friends, one can bite an apple. Recommended for ages 2-5. (DLN) 

Katz, Susan. 2012. The president’s stuck in the bathtub: Poems about the presidents. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 64pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-18221-6. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker.

This book is a collection of whimsical poems about the presidents of the United States. Each president from George Washington to Barack Obama is represented with an entertaining poem and illustration. There are also notable quotations and fun facts about each president. This book takes a light-hearted look at all of the presidents that will entertain young readers. (LB) 

2011. Kingfisher first dictionary. Macmillian Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 180pp. $10.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6585-1. .

The Kingfisher first dictionary is carefully organized and illustrated for children. The words described in the dictionary are those that are used daily by young readers as they begin to explore the joys of reading. Words and illustrations are paired, enabling all to find the necessary definitions. Example sentences, spelling tips, and wordplay boxes help sharpen the meaning of words. Highly recommended. (BNS) 

2011. Kingfisher first encyclopedia. Macmillian Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (616-307-5151). 160pp. $10.99. ISBN978-0-6587-5.

Kingfisher first encyclopedia continues to provide useful information for young readers. With more than 1,500 photographs and illustrations, this encyclopedia relates to young readers through organized information about facts and subject material. A detailed guide on how to use this book is included. Topics ranging from animals, cars, prehistoric life, and sports create a good resource for elementary grades. (BNS) 

2011. Kingfisher first encyclopedia of animals. Macmillian Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 144pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6588-2.

Kingfisher first encyclopedia of animals is a perfect guide to the animal kingdom. The descriptions of hundreds of species invite and challenge young, inquisitive minds. Information about life cycles, behavior, etc., is organized according to species: mammals, birds, fish, etc. This book is a good supplement to elementary biology classes. Illustrations help navigate the reader through each species. (BNS) 

2011. Kingfisher first thesaurus: The ideal A-Z resource with 100 keywords, similar words, and opposites… Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 144pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6586-8. Illustrated by Martin Chatterton.

A thesaurus is a valuable tool enabling readers to further advance their knowledge of the English language. Arranged in alphabetical order, the “keyword” is exemplified through other supporting words. Forms of speech, antonyms, homonyms, and synonyms are listed often with complete sentences and wordplay games assist further in the conveying correct word usage. The illustrations add to the learning experience. (BNS) 

Kohuth, Jane. 2012. Duck sock hop. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3712-9. Illustrated by Jane Porter.

With the rhyme and rhythm of the verse, readers can dance with the sock hopping ducks. Colorful socks and ducks, along with the verse will spur all readers to tap their fingers and/or toes to this literary sock hop. (DLN) 

Kops, Deborah. 2012. The great molasses flood: Boston, 1919. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 102pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-348.

January 15, 1919 started out to be a beautiful day in Boston, but that all changed when a molasses tank exploded and sent a 40-foot wave of the sticky substance flowing through the streets. This unusual disaster destroyed buildings, collapsed elevated train tracks and killed 21 people. This book not only recounts this disaster, but also examines why it occurred and who or what is to blame. Middle school readers will find this an intriguing story, and the use of historical photographs makes this unusual occurrence more realistic. (LB) 

Lace, Josh. 2012. Island of thieves. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 240pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-76327-9.

Right before Tom Trawney’s parents leave on a much looked-forward-to vacation, Tom gets bored and burns down the family shed. Tom’s family can’t trust him alone now, and his parents certainly do not want to take Tom along on their vacation. Calling the eccentric, quirky Uncle Harvey! Uncle Harvey welcomes Tom into his New York apartment but has no intention of babysitting. Tom is instructed to occupy the apartment but ends up blackmailing Uncle Harvey into taking him along on a treasure hunting escapade. This book has got a lock on fun, funny, and frolicsome. Uncle Harvey and Tom get to the airport in Peru only to be cornered by the dangerous and notorious Otto Gonzalez. Otto wants his money back from a picture scam Harvey initiated. Since Harvey has already spent the money, he takes Otto and his gang on as partners to search for Sir Francis Drake’s eight chests of treasures. Together they travel the roads and waters and scour the countryside of South America to look for the treasure. The treasure may be near, but the antics and shoot-outs prove challenging. This book has everything middle school teachers and students want: action, adventure, wit, and history. This would make for a very good read-aloud. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

LaFevers, R.L. 2010. Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist: Book two: The basilisk’s lair. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 150pp. $15. ISBN 978-0-547-23867-8. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

Nathaniel Fludd does not have time to be leery of the fact that he is a beastologist in training. Instead he must learn to manipulate a camel through West Africa with his Aunt Phil in hopes to help the entire (but small) village of Dhughani find out why the deadly Basilisk—the king of serpents—wreaks havoc upon the villagers. The deadly Basilisk is not Nate’s only problem, however. He still wonders where his parents have disappeared to and the safety of the only book that can answer everything about beasts is jeopardized. The “Beastologist” concept is new and refreshing, not found in other children’s literature. The interesting mythological creatures and thoroughly sketched illustrations of Nate’s zany adventures that will keep young readers captivated. Like its predecessor, this book includes Nathaniel Fludd’s Guide to People, Places and Things—a sure way to aid reader in understanding the plot. Highly recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA) 

LaFevers, R.L. 2010. Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist: Book three: The wyverns’ treasure. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 154pp. $16. ISBN 978-0-547-31618-5. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

There is no rest for the weary in this third Nathaniel Fludd adventure story. Nate, Greasle the gremlin, and Aunt Phil return to England after solving the deadly Basilisk problem only to discover that their home has been rampaged. There is a suspect and a possible motive, but before anything can be determined Nate and Aunt Phil must travel to the Welsh countryside to figure out why the Wyverns—giant winged dragons—have turned against the people they have managed to live in harmony with for many years. The more Nate and Aunt Phil learn, the more they discover that the person who ransacked their English home may be the same one responsible for the Wyvern unrest. Nate, Greasle, and Aunt Phil all work together to save the day, but it is Nate’s quick thinking that provides the ultimate solution. Conflict-resolution skills could easily be taught in the classroom using this mystery-adventure book as a tool. The pacing of the text and the familiar characters will make readers delighted to pick up and read. Highly recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Lawton, Caroline. 2011. Bugs A to Z. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 29pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-27330-5.

This alphabet book introduces young readers to a variety of bugs. From ants and aphids to the zebra swallowtail butterfly, each letter of the alphabet has one or two corresponding bugs. The photographs are large enough to give children a close-up view of the bugs and the text that accompanies each letter provides a fun fact about each bug. (LB) 

Landau, Elaine. 2012. My favorite horses: American Quarter Horses are my favorite!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 24pp. $22.60. ISBN 978-0-7613-6532-7.

American Quarter Horses are often chosen by mounted police officers for their dependability and speed. They can be stocky or built for racing and may be any color. This book tells readers these facts and more about American Quarter Horses as well as information about caring for horses and riding them. Elementary children that like horses will enjoy learning more about this breed through the text and photographs in this book. (LB) 

Landau, Elaine. 2012. My favorite horses: Arabians are my favorite!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 24pp. $22.60. ISBN 978-0-7613-4938-9.

This book is about Arabian horses. Elementary horse-lovers will enjoy learning about this breed’s physical characteristics, mannerisms and history. The photographs help reinforce the text, and the glossary and additional resources give the reader more areas to explore. (LB) 

Landau, Elaine. 2011. Newfoundlands are the best!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 32pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6082-7.

Newfoundlands are the best! promotes this breed of dogs. Included is a descriptive narrative about the nature of this breed. Information on how to care for this dog, suggestions for dog names, and a list of famous people who owned them makes the book a “must have” for all who own or hope to own the breed. (BNS) 

Landau, Elaine. 2011. Persians are the best!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929. 32pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6425-2.

Elaine Landau’s Cat series gives detailed information owners need to know about the species. This book describes Persians as the best. The history of the breed along with colorful photos enhances the reading experience. Special attention is given to the care, environmental needs, and personality traits. (If I had read the book several years ago, I would not have purchased this breed!!!) (BNS) 

Landau, Elaine. 2011. Saint Bernards are the best!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 32pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6080-3.

Elaine Landau’s series The best dogs ever describes various breeds, their characteristics, habits personalities, etc. This book features the Saint Bernard. Individual chapters discuss topics such as special care needs and information related to what potential owners need to know about this breed of dog. (BNS) 

Landau, Elaine. 2010. Sphynx are the best!. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected] (800-328-4929). 32pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-7613-6429-0.

Every cat has unique and specific characteristics. With so many differing shapes and sizes, each with its own personality, information on how to care for a particular cat breed is always welcome. In this book, Laundau explains the characteristics of the Sphynx and explains how to care for them. The Sphynx have the appearance of almost having no fur. They have large ears and slim bodies, and they are playful and friendly. This book is a good “how to” resource for caring for the Sphynx. Illustrations are appropriate and helpful. (BNS) 

LeBox, Annette. 2012. Circle of cranes. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 341 pp. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-8037-3443-2.

As an adaptation of the folk tale, The Crane Wife, this young adult book for students 12 – 18 blends themes from fantasy and contemporary issues of human trafficking and sweat shops. Suspending disbelief of the talking cranes is an integral part of this mystical, magical, yet realistic tale. Suyin, a thirteen year old poor orphan, living in Cao Hai in Guizhou Province, China, is selected by the villagers to
accompany a man promising golden opportunities to New York City, also called Gold Mountain. In China, Suyin has an unusual relationship with the local cranes who fortunately do not abandon her in New YorkCity where Suyin works for a cruel, dishonest, and greedy sweatshop owner. With the help of the cranes and a keen intellect, including a gift with languages, Suyin overcomes overwhelming obstacles to discover her real identity and a settle into a life worth living in Gold Mountain. (DLN) 

Lee, Spike, & Lee, Tonya Lewis. 2011. Giant steps to change the world. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 9978-0-689-86815-3. Illustrated by Sean Qualls.

The key to identifying the men and women to which the text is referring lies inside the cover of this inspirational book. The Lees challenge readers to make a difference in their lives and the world by alluding to the accomplishments of twelve people, Jesse Owens, Harriet Tubman, Marva Colllins, Muhammad Ali, Ben Carson, Mother Teresa, Langston Hughes, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Albert Einstein, Barack Obama, the Tuskegee airmen, and Neil Armstrong. The messages may be too abstract for younger children, but readers, ages 9 – 15 + can understand the themes and may even recognize the individuals who overcame multiple obstacles to significantly influence the world. (DLN) 

Leonard, Julia Platt. 2011. Cold case. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 281pp. $15.99. ISBN978-1-4424-20009-0.

If there is going to be a murder mystery read that has enough intrigue and suspense to captivate even the most reluctant reader, this is it! Thirteen year old Austin “Oz” Keillor opens his family’s Santa Fe restaurant only to find the dead body of a journalist. When it is discovered that the dead journalist was the one who accused Oz’s father years ago as selling nuclear secrets, police immediately suspect Oz’s brother David as the murderer. With Dave in jail, Oz and his friend Rusty must travel all over New Mexico to try and find answers that will acquit his brother and keep the family business in business. The characters are likable. The plot stays on track and is simple, only dealing with the evidence at hand and not sidetracked by difficult subplots. This is a great book to teach the elements of mystery. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Lewis, Gill. 2011. Wild wings. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 287pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1445-7. Illustrated by Yuta Onoda.

In this story, which is set on a farm in Scotland, Callum ditches his two best friends and teams up with odd- girl Iona. Together they share a secret! The endangered Osprey have nested on Callum’s parent’s farm. Suddenly tragedy strikes and Callum must now fulfill a promise. Callum first reconciles with his friends, then the threesome work together to track the mother Osprey’s transmitter. A lost signal sparks an Internet contact, which builds new relationships and eventually ends in some good deeds. Give this book to lovers of the outdoors and adventure enthusiasts, as they will be able to track cross country from Scotland to Gambia in Africa and back. The novel reveals that yes, nature can be harsh, but when people work together, friendships form and new possibilities open. Teachers can use this novel as a great unit on naturalism. Highly recommended. Grades 3-12. (ADA) 

Lipsyte, Robert. Center field. 2010. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 280pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-055704-1.

This is one of many Lipsyte books dealing with the world of sports, and this will be just as appealing to its readers as the others. High school junior Mike Semak finds it tough to satiate his baseball hunger. He loves to play on the field, he dreams of it off the field, and he aspires to be a baseball hero like the famous Billy Budd. But Mike is a bit threatened by illegal immigrant Oscar Ramirez, and he is afraid to lose his center field position to him. This feeling of threat coupled with a cyber club geek pushes Mike over the edge, igniting a fight. Mike must now fulfill community service hours with the cyber club as his penance. As Mike becomes more and more involved with this club, he learns of several questionable occurences happening within the walls of his own school. Now Mike confronts moral and ethical issues in which he must decide if he should do what is best for himself or for his team. A decent book that touches on the content typical in other sports novels—steroid use, sexual activity, and dealing with male egos. It also delves into themes that are tougher to come by—illegal immigrants, deceitful coaches, and two-faced sports heroes. There may be several subplots, but readers will find it entertaining nonetheless. Recommended for grades 9-12. (ADA) 

Llewllyn, Claire. 2011. Reptiles. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-7634-6499-1. Illustrated by Peter Bull Art Studio.

The Explorer series continues to serve as an excellent reference series for science students. Reptiles clearly provides comprehensive information about the species: where they live, how they hunt, how they protect themselves, and more. Colorful illustrations provide valuable facts. Cross references to evolution, habitats, plants, and “record breakers” complete the explorative nature of the book. (BNS) 

Lunge-Larson, Lise. 2011. Gifts from the gods: Ancient words &wisdom from Greek & Roman mythology. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 90pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-15229-5. Illustrated by Gareth Hinds.

Many words in the English language have their origins in Greek and Roman Mythology. This book tells the story behind words such as arachnid, fortune, hypnotize and panic. Upper elementary and middle school readers will not only learn the origins of these words but also gain knowledge of Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. The illustrations help bring each tale to life in this entertaining and educational book. (LB) 

Luper, Eric. 2011. Jeremy Bender vs. the cupcake cadets. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 240 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0062015129.

Fearing punishment for damaging his father’s boat, eleven year old Jeremy and his friend Slater decide to dress as females, join the Cadets, and enter a cupcake contest with a $500 cash prize. They plan to win the prize and use the money to repair the boat before Jeremy’s father discovers the damage. Much like the husband in The man who kept house (Norwegian folk tale), the boys experience one disaster after another as they compete as female Cadets for the prize money. Although quite humorous at times, this coming of age story reminds readers ages 8 – 12 about the values of honesty, and personal integrity. (DLN) 

Lupica, Mike. 2010. Shoot out. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 165pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24718-7.

Eleven-year-old Jake has all the ingredients of being the best soccer player. He has the athletic genes, the talent, and the determination. When his parents move him off the winning team and onto the losing team, Jake’s priorities must change. He must now focus less on himself and more on his team if he wants to prevail once again. This book isn’t just for soccer lovers. Anybody could use it as a quick-read lesson to prove that winners are both on and off the field. Highly recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Lupica, Mike. 2011. The underdogs. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 272pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25001-9.

Mike Lupica fans will enjoy his latest football novel for middle age readers, ages 9 through 12. Will’s football team for eleven-year-olds is funded by the town council. But money is scarce, and the council cannot continue to fund all of the local sports teams. Will is persistent, hopeful, and takes initiation; but as with the game of football, motivation is a powerful force. (DLN) 

Lynch, Chris. 2012. Vietnam: Book two: Sharpshooter. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 187pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-27026-7.

Ivan Bucyk, 18 years old, is no ordinary kid. Loyal, determined, and gutsy, Ivan knows he was born to enlist. It’s between the years 1961-1975, and the Vietnam War is in full swing. So naturally, when Ivan enlists into the United States Army, he finds himself fighting in Vietnam. He easily finds his area of expertise, which is sharpshooting. Ivan’s sniper training soon begins and it’s not long before he must apply what he has learned while surrounded by the stench and heat of the Vietcong jungles. The realities of war rear their ugly heads, most notably of which is death, which comes as an unexpected surprise to the naive Ivan. The mix of historical fiction ideas with real Vietnam War tensions guarantees reader approval. Highly recommended. Grades 5-12. (ADA) 

Malnor, Carol L. 2012. Molly’s organic farm. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-58469-167-9. Illustrated by Trina L. Hunner.

This book is based on the story of a real homeless cat that wandered onto a community organic farm. The farmers instantly take a liking to her and name her Molly. Molly happily spends her days wandering in the fields, chasing insects and greeting farm customers. Her friendly disposition wins the hearts of nearby neighbors, and when the days become colder, they give her a warm home for the winter. Young readers will enjoy reading about Molly’s adventures on the farm while also learning about how food grows. The illustrations help bring Molly’s adventures to life and will appeal to young children. This book includes farm related activities, books, and resources, as well as photographs of the real Molly. (LB) 

Margles, Samantha. 2011. Mythbusters science fair book. Scholastic, Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 128pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-545-23745-1.

This book sets out to test popular myths, urban legends and wives tales to determine their validity. Based on the television show, this book gives readers instructions on how to perform these tests at home and draw their own conclusions based on their findings. Children of all ages can perform the experiments in this book (with or without the help of an adult) and not only be entertained but also gain a basic understanding of the scientific method. (LB) 

Marino, Gianna. 2010. One too many: A seek & find counting book. Chronicle Books, LLC. [email protected], (800-759-0190). 30 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0—8118-6908-9.

Barnyard animals are added on each full page spread, beginning with one significant fly. However, only one of the barnyard animals including the fly, two cows, three horses, four goats, five black-faced sheep, six pigs, seven rabbits, eight geese, nine hens, ten white mice, eleven bees, twelve bats, remains when a black and white mammal of the weasel family enters the scene. This captivating book will delight people of all ages, especially those experiencing an invasion of the animal that is “one too many.” (DLN) 

Markle, Sandra. 2012. Crab spiders: Phantom hunters. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 48pp. $29.27. ISBN 978-0-7613-5045-3.

This book gives readers a fascinating look at crab spiders. It utilizes detailed illustrations and close-up photography to give readers a thorough look at the physical characteristics of the crab spider. This book includes a glossary, additional resources and an activity to give the reader an opportunity to explore crab spiders further. (LB) 

Markle, Sandra. 2012. Fishing spiders: Water ninjas. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 48pp. $29.27. ISBN 9768-0-7613-5044-6.

Do spiders really fish? This book explores the world of fishing spiders and teaches the reader how they fish, what they catch and how they move on the water. The photographs, glossary, additional resources and activity all give the reader the chance to explore these fascinating creatures. (LB) 

Marshall, George. 2011. The Kingfisher children’s illustrated dictionary and thesaurus. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6469-4.

The Kingfisher children’s illustrated dictionary and thesaurus is an easy-to-use asset in the development of vocabulary. The book contains more than 4,000 words and 5,000 synonyms and provides a powerful interactive resource for all ages. Also included are sample sentences, colorful illustrations, and a reference section with useful information, word games, and pronunciation notes. A must for all readers! (BNS) 

McCaughrean, Geraldine. 2011. The glorious adventures of the sunshine queen. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 325pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200806-0.

A diphtheria epidemic has broken out and Cissy, Kookie and Tibbie have been sent away to try and avoid the deadly disease. When they find safety from the disease with the bright Lights Theater Company, the real adventure begins as they travel down the Missouri River on a dilapidated showboat. This book is full of quirky characters and humor that upper elementary students will find engaging, and they will keep turning the pages wanting more. (LB) 

McGuiness, Dan. 2011. Pilot & Huxley. Scholastic Inc. (Graphix). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 62pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-26504-1.

The aliens have come to take over Earth, and Pilot and Huxley are out to save the day. Their adventure takes them through a swamp of bees and face-to-face with the Grim Reaper, monsters, and sea creatures. Elementary readers will enjoy reading about the adventure of Pilot and Huxley while using the illustrations in this graphic novel to bring the story to life. (LB) 

McMann, Lisa. 2011. Cryer’s Cross. Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 232pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9481-7.

Something has gone wrong in the small town of Cryer’s Cross, Montana. The main character is 17-year-old Kendall. People are a little bit worried that she has obsessive compulsive disorder, but Kendall’s OCD may be the key in finding two missing students. First a freshman girl goes missing, and then Kendall’s boyfriend Nico goes missing. It doesn’t take long for Kendall to discover that the two missing teens shared the same desk while they were in school. Eerie, haunting passages etched in the desk raise some questions, but it’s Jacian, the new kid in town, that really causes the details to unravel and an investigation to begin. Full of mystery and suspense and riddled with plenty of intrigue and tension, this book develops into an excellent mystery fiction chiller. Some vulgar language, but this can be overlooked if the book is being taught at the high school level. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Meddaugh, Susan. 2011. Martha speaks: Story time collection. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. trade­[email protected], (800-597-6127). 192 pp. $10.99, ISBN 978-0-547-57967-2.

Stories in this collection include Martha speaks, Martha calling, Martha blah blah, Martha walks the dog, Martha and skits, and Perfectly Martha. As long as Martha eats a bowl of vegetable soup each day, she is able to talk, and she loves words. Each story ends happily, much to the delight of Martha’s fans. Ages 3 – 8. (DLN) 

Meyers, Walter Dean. 2011. The cruisers: Checkmate. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 133pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-91627-1.

Yet another challenge arises for the four middle schoolers who publish the Cruiser newspaper in Walter Dean Meyer’s second book in the Cruisers series. This time Sidney Aronofsky, the school chess stud, is struggling with the pressures of being the star of the school chess team. Protagonist Zander Scott and his friends (the Cruisers) are summoned to investigate why Sidney is acting so strangely. It doesn’t take long for Zander to discover that drugs are partly responsible for Sid’s “off” behavior. The triumphs and frustrations of a competitive world are exposed, along with much patience and compassion to help solve the problems of everyday pressures. Readers will learn from and enjoy this book. It is compelling and heartfelt. Teachers could easily teach this book as part of a character education unit. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Milford, Katie. 2010. The boneshaker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected] (617-351-1185). 372pp. $17. ISBN 978-0-547-24187-6.

Watch out, Arcane, Missouri! It’s 1913 and Dr, Jake Limberleg’s wagon mysteriously breaks down at the crossroads where the devil is supposedly incarcerated indefinitely. While Dr. Jake’s wagon wheel is being fixed, Jake and his band of minions set up their medicine show in order to con the residents out of their money. When in steps 13 year old Natalie Minks, she suspects the deceit runs much, much deeper than the sheer con-artistry of Nostrom’s Fair and Technological Show. She is further mystified when the interlopers’ collection of clockwork automata function without being wound. However, it is the visions she sees that really send her warnings. The town and her family depend on her, so with the help of the Boneshaker and a few of her friends, the resolution begins piecing itself together. This is a wacky, mysterious romp that mixes historical fiction with elements of fantasy, demonology, and the supernatural. A good, solid plot offers opportunities for excellent classroom discussions on the theme of good versus evil. Highly recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Mortimer, Anne. 2011. Pumpkin cat. HarperCollins Publishers (Katerine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 24pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-187485-7.

Although slightly incredible, Cat and Mouse team sign up to grow a pumpkin in time for Halloween. The personified realistic animals of a black cat and a brown mouse combine their efforts to plant and water seeds, transplant seedlings, make a scarecrow, and harvest a pumpkin. Step-by-step instructions for actually growing pumpkins are included and thankfully, the author includes a caveat about carving pumpkins with adult supervision. Age 4-8. (DLN) 

Nelson, Peter. 2012. Herbert’s wormhole: The rise and fall of el solo libre. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 320pp. $12.99. ISBN978-0-06-201218-0. Illustrated by Rohitash Rao.

Young readers who prefer a well-spiced comedy with futuristic alien science fiction will be pleased with this sequel to Herbert’s wormhole (2009). Protagonist time travelers Herbert, Alex, and Sammi return once again to Alex’s jungle gym in his back yard. Dressed in the space suits, all three characters advance through a wormhole and are transported 100 years into the future. The future holds a world where humans and aliens, called G’Daliens, co-exist in harmony. This visit has a prepared celebration – a Flee Festival – to recognize how the G’Daliens allowed themselves to be kicked off their planet by a bunch of Klapthorian bullies. Chances of another alien attack are remote until an insecure Alex, in efforts to prove himself a true alien slayer, makes a too-big-for-his-britches phone call and challenges the evil Klapthorians to a fight. Anticipating that his friends may not be able to free him from this mess, Alex goes to look for a better part of himself to help his cause. This is a very good book with a very good chance for sequels. Libraries should reserve some shelf space. Kids are going to be looking for them. Recommended. Grade 3-8. (ADA) 

Nesbo, Jo. 2010. Doctor Proctor’s fart powder. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 265pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7972-2. Illustrated by Mike Lowery.

Who would have thought that a fart powder would make someone popular, much less be in high demand? When new kid Nilly moved into the neighborhood, he never guessed life would be so interesting. Neighborhood bullies Truls annd Trym learn a tough lesson when Nilly teams up with the wacky Dr. Proctor and the neighbor girl Lisa. Set in Norway, Dr. Proctor plans on selling his fart powder to NASA to inexpensively blast astronauts into space. But before plans can be followed through, the powder is stolen by the evil Truls and Trym and their villainous father. Perhaps the premise sounds a bit goofy (and slightly disgusting), but the tone is silly enough for readers to enjoy. A firecracker ending! Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Nesbo, Jo. 2012. Doctor Proctor’s fart powder: Who cut the cheese? Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 458pp. $15.99. ISBN978-1-4424-3307-6. Sudden misspellings and several speech blunders may go unnoticed to the average

citizen, but when mass quantities of socks and an unhealthy fixation on a televised choral concert are added to the mix, they’re all enough to make Nilly, Lisa, and the eccentric Dr. Proctor go, “hmm-mmm?!” It doesn’t take long for Dr. Proctor to deduce that evil moon chameleons are determined to take control of Norway. The three misfits eventually discover that a disguised figure named Hallvard Tenorson plans to hypnotize the whole country via a television choral concert, overthrow the Norwegian government, and take over Denmark. Very little time to fix the problem but lots and lots of fart powder is all Nilly, Lisa, and the doctor have with which to work. The farts might be odorless, but there is power in high numbers when phantom wildebeests and buffaloes are involved—and special thanks to a Peruvian spider and a large anaconda. The plot is a little windy for reluctant readers, but there are high doses of wit, occasional illustrations, and zany happenings. Fart powder fans will want this third book in the series at their local library. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Nevius, Carol. 2011. Soccer hour. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books). [email protected], (914-332-8888). 32pp. $16.99. 978-0-7614-5689-6. Illustrated by Bill Thomson.

Soccer is a global sport in which many children participate. In this book, the team gathers to practice and the reader learns about what they do in that time. The rhyming text will engage young readers, and it is enhanced with the illustrations that give the reader a unique perspective on the game. (LB) 

Newsome, Richard. 2011. The archer legacy: The emerald casket. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 359pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-06-194492-5.

Vacations are for rest and relaxation, not for peril and chaos. So when 13-year-old billionaire Gerald Archer and his friends Ruby and Sam go to India to get away from it all, they never expected their lives would be in jeopardy. The book opens right away with action – a stealthy man dressed in black and stealing a notebook that gives clues on how to heist a diamond. Meanwhile Gerald and his friends are heading off to visit an old acquaintance. It doesn’t take long before Gerald discovers that his own family has a long-held secret. Gerald and his friends must now work together to make sure that the secret, which might put the world’s fate in the wrong greedy “Green” hands, stays hidden. The action never rests with midnight escapades, kidnappings, and near-death mishaps. Although the characters are predictable, new discoveries such as a city under sea and ancient Indian temples gives the plot constant mobility. This is book two in the Archer Legacy trilogy and every library should house all three. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Nguyen, Nam, and Hines, Sarah. Stephens. 2011. Undersea creatures: Extreme encounters with the aquatic beasts. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected] (646-307-5151). 48 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6569-1.

Undersea creatures gives the reader an idea how the most dangerous creatures live, hunt, and swim. The book is organized with a general overview of these sea inhabitants. Each creature is given a subtitle such as “shadow stalker” or ” deep trouble.” The vivid illustrations accentuate the nature of each creature. Also, a graph of each is included which identifies intelligence, strength, and agility. This book is recommended for biology classes that emphasize exotic but dangerous underwater life. (BNS) 

Nicholson, William. 2010. Rich and mad. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-1002). 367pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-120-4.

This book is not a typical romance novel. Sixteen-year-old Rich fantasizes about his beautiful but distant classmate Grace. Meanwhile, sixteen-year-old Maddie is in love with her already-taken, hunky schoolmate Joe. Both Rich and Maddie feel betrayed while they pursue each of their love interests, which ultimately brings the two of them into a mature, adult relationship. Laced with a few subplots—a surfacing family affair, a homosexual teacher, and a mentally unhinged friend—this story does not disguise the true hardships, sensitivities, fears, and surrenders that true lovemaking involves. An authentic and sweet read. Recommended for grades 10-12. (ADA) 

Norwich, Grace. 2011. Snake-a-phobia. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhlep.com, (212-343-6100). 48pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-545-27332-9.

Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes, a condition from which many people suffer. This book educates readers about snakes and also addresses many common myths and beliefs about the animals that often provoke fear. The information in this book, combined with the photographs, teaches the reader about how snakes live and how we as humans can stay safe and conquer our phobia. (LB) 

Norworth, Jack. 2011. Take me out to the ballgame. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-225-3214). 28 pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-936140-26-8. Illustrated by Amiko Hirao. Performance by Carly Simon.

Readers and listeners of all ages are as fond of the lyrics, Take me out to the ballgame, as when first published in 1908. The accompanying CD to one of the verses and the popular chorus of Take me out to the ballgame, includes three songs performed by Carly Simon, Take me out to the ballgame, Scaborough Fair, and I gave my love a cherry (the riddle song). Fans of Carly Simon and baseball of any age will enjoy this book! (DLN) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2011. Fancy Nancy: Stellar stargazer! HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191523-9. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

O’Connor, Jane. 2011. Fancy Nancy: Aspiring artist. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191526-0. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

O’Connor, Jane. 2009. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-123590-0. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

Fans of Fancy Nancy will enjoy the three titles listed above, even though the last title is a tad bit dated. Although labeling synonyms of selected words as “fancy,” distorts the relationship among vocabulary choices, children ages 4 – 8, will appreciate Nancy’s love of words and life. She is spirited, curious, vivacious, and endearing in all of O’Connor’s Fancy Nancy books. (DLN) 

O’Dell, Scott. 2011. Kathleen, please come home. Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 200 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5884-5. (Original copyright 1978)

Multiple themes evident in O’Dell’s young adult novel first published in 1978 are relevant today, such as mother-daughter relationships, illegal immigration, rebellion, drugs, adolescent love, running away from home, loss, self-destruction and self-discovery. Missing are the technological tools readers would find in contemporary literature, such as cell phones and computers. Readers might want to ask themselves if the story would have a different outcome if Kathleen and her mother had such tools. (DLN) 

Ogburn, Jacqueline K. 2011. Little treasures: Endearments from around the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. trade­[email protected], (800-597-6127). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-42862-8. Illustrated by Chris Raschka.

The theme of love resonates throughout Little treasures. Raschka’s illustrations complement the text, written in the native languages and script of each family represented in the story: English (America, England, Australia), Finnish, Russian, Polish, Lugandan, Portuguese (Brazil), Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, German, Hindi, Amharic, Slovak, and Spanish (Chile and Argentina). Readers will learn how love is a universal concept expressed in words from a variety of languages. Ages 4 – 8. (DLN) 

Oppel, Kenneth. 2010. Half brother Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 375pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-22925-8.

It’s Canada during the 1970s. A renowned behavioral psychologist makes his wife and son adopt a baby chimpanzee into their family as part of a research project to determine whether or not chimps can learn language. At first, 13-year-old Ben Tomlin is not excited to have a chimpanzee as a half brother. As the weeks progress, however, Ben and Zan’s sibling relationship grows strongly. However when funding runs out, the Tomlins can no longer afford to keep Zan. Ben is crushed when Zan is sold to a university. But being sold to a university is not Zan’s worst option. With time running out, Ben must figure out a way to save his little half brother from biomedical danger. Oppel adeptly broadcasts characters’ emotions and chimpanzees’ real-life behaviors in this action packed, emotionally charged novel. An excellent read that presents moral and ethical issues that will make readers think twice. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Palatini, Margie. 2011. Stuff. HarperCollins Publishers (Katerine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-171921-9. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.

Edward loves his stuff more than he loves his friends, Anthony and Marguerite, or his cat. Edward loved to play with his stuff until one day the stuff in his house buried him. Days passed, but eventually Anthony and Marguerite dug a tunnel and saved Edward who is unscathed and as robust as before the tragic accident. However, readers will note a significant change in Edward’s attitude and behavior towards his stuff and his friends after the accident. The message of valuing friends versus possessions is obvious, but worth sharing with children ages 4 – 7. (DLN) 

Paley, Jane. 2011. Hooper finds a family: A hurricane Katrina dog’s survival tale. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 137pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-201103-9.

This is a great book to teach students point of view. Nature’s negligence has left yellow Labrador pup Hooper without George and Mama and without a home as well. After a near-drowning, a fierce bobcat, and some less-than-satisfying shelter conditions, Hooper is adopted by a new family. It’s tough to adjust to his new family and new routines at first, but he moves forward with confidence and settles nicely. The book is told from Hopper’s point of view which will help students identify with someone other than themselves. Good discussions on Hurricane Katrina might follow. It is a good book to add to a dog lover’s collection. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Palmer, Robin. 2010. Yours truly, Lucy B. Parker, girl vs. superstar. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 215pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25489-5.

Life for Lucy B. Parker, age 12, is not going smoothly. Already nervous about entering sixth grade, she is dumped by her two best friends. Then her mom announces that she is dating the father of television star Laurel Moses—the Laurel Moses that publicly humiliated her not too long ago. At about the same time that Lucy’s dad tells her his girlfriend is pregnant, Lucy’s mom announces she is engaged. This new unity requires her to move from small town Massachusetts to the Big Apple —New York City. Although saddened by her friends’ abrupt detachment, missing her father, and her new family, Lucy slowly learns how to deal with her new lifestyle with maturity. Talk of bras and obsessions with periods is a bit too much, but readers will relate to the significances in Lucy’s life. This is quick, fictional read for girls with plenty of light humor, recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Parish, Herman. 2011. Amelia Bedelia makes a friend. Harper Collins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207516-1. Illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Fans of Amelia Bedelia’s crazy antics will enjoy a story from her childhood. She continues to astound readers by taking everything literally. In this story, Amelia Bedelia’s best friend, Jen, moves away, but Amelia discovers a new friend in the older woman, Mrs. Adams, who has moved in next door. Although Mrs. Adams’ footstool, coffee table, and armchairs confuse Amelia Bedelia and make her imagination run wild, she learns that her new neighbor and friend is not so strange after all. Beginning readers may enjoy the fun in literal interpretation of compound words, but the imagery may be lost on earlier audiences or children from other cultures. (MW, TW) 

Parker, Jake. 2011. Missile Mouse: Rescue on Tankium3. Scholastic Inc. (Graphix). scholastic.custhelp.com, (232-343-6100). 146pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-545-11717-3.

The Galactic Security Agency has called on Missile Mouse to save the day in this graphic novel. The illustrations in this book tell the story of the superhero as he works to defeat King Bognarsh. The limited text makes this a book young readers can enjoy as they follow Missile Mouse on his adventure. The end of the book has a Missile Mouse Guide to the Universe, which allows the reader to further delve into this galactic world. (LB) 

Patron, Susan. 2012. Dear America: The diary of Angeline Reddy: Behind the masks. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 304pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-545-30437-5.

Set in Bodie, California in the 1880s, this Dear America book has an appealing combination of the Old West—saloons, brawls and gun fighting, murder and desperation. Angie Reddy’s father is a criminal lawyer, but now the town believes he has been murdered. Angie knows her father is alive, but where is he and why has he gone missing? When Angie’s mother falls ill, Angie goes out to solve her family’s problems alone. Along the way, and with help from two friends Ling Loi and Ellie, Angie comes across some town secrets and several uncivilized vigilantes. The characters are strong, brave, and persistent. The plot does little to sugarcoat the true details about the wild, wild west including taboo subjects such as brothels and outlaws. It includes some real details about the one and only Bodie, California, a small mining town. If the details in this book aren’t able to captivate its readers, then nothing will. Teach it in the classroom, put it in the library, add it to a booklist—it doesn’t matter. This book is a winner. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Patron, Susan. 2011. Lucky for good. Simone and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 224 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9058-1.

Lucky’s development as a reliable, resourceful, and loveable character regresses in this last book of the Hard Pan trilogy when she hits Ollie, a boy older than she who taunts and ridicules Lucky about her mother, father, restaurant, town, friends, and neighbors. While readers may identify with uncontrollable anger, Lucky’s reaction is out-of-character. Regardless, eventually all conflicts are resolved and the people of Hard Pan live happily ever after as a loving, caring, extended family. (DLN) 

Patterson, Rebecca. 2012. My no, no, no day! Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000), 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-670-01405-7.

Parents and toddlers will identify with Bella’s behavior on a very, very bad day, similar to Alexander and his terrible horrible no good very bad day (Judith Viorst, 1972, 2009). Fortunately, a bedtime story saves the day from becoming a complete disaster, and after a good night’s sleep, Bella is a happier, more pleasant person. The illustrations convey Bella’s moods and behavior, and readers of all ages can easily identify Bella as she experiences a very bad day. (DLN) 

Peirce, Lincoln. 2012. Big Nate goes for broke. HarperCollinsPublishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 216pp. $12.99. ISBN978-0-06-199661-0.

Big Nate might be a class clown, but he certainly demonstrates the traits to prevail. Although he still has his hope-to-be-future-wife Jenny on his brain, he knows his priorities. As president of his school drawing club, a club called P.S. 38, Nate challenges school rivals Jefferson Middle School to a snow sculpting contest. The challenge was easy, but now Nate must uphold his president status and turn his club (and school) from super-zeroes to super-heroes. Nate might not be triumphant, but readers are going to love to see Nate’s maturity when he seeks advice from adults and turns that advice into his own positive solutions. This is an excellent short comic-strip novel that can be used to teach students in the classroom about problem-solving tactics. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Peirce, Lincoln. 2010. Big Nate in a class by himself. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 214pp. $12.99. ISBN978-0-06-194434-5.

Big Nate never would have guessed that a fortune cookie stating he will “surpass all others,” would land him in a heap of trouble. Turning the frown of a cranky science teacher upside down, writing a love poem, and appreciating a pile of green beans should have earned Nate some praise, or so he thought. Along with his friends Francis and Teddy (and the word “cafetorium”), Big Nate is sure to tickle the fancy of any Diary of a wimpy kid fan. Readers will not be disappointed. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Peirce, Lincoln. 2011. Big Nate on a roll. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 216pp. $12.99. 978-0-06-194438-3.

Big Nate is literally on a roll. Part prose and part comic, readers will gobble up this third Big Nate adventure like the previous two books. This time Nate must compete with his arch nemesis Artur “the perfect” for a new skateboard to replace his “lost” board and to win the girl. Nate, convinced that he cannot outright sell door-to-door wall hangings to get his new skateboard, has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve in order to win the skateboard, win back his girl, and help his scout troop. The many illustrations and Nate’s clever schemes move this story along to provide excellent lessons on conflict and positive resolutions to those conflicts. Fans will find this book just as good, if not better, than the others. Highly recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Peirce, Lincoln. 2010. Big Nate strikes again. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 216pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-194436-9.

Sixth grader Big Nate may not be the teacher’s pet, but he has a whole lot of personality that will make his readers laugh. He would love to be paired up with his future wife Jenny on a classroom assignment to write about a great American. Instead Nate gets coupled with the perfectionist and “pukey” Gina. On the upside, however, Nate has been chosen to be a fleeceball captain. Maybe things are not so bad after all for Big Nate? The pages of this hard-cover comic book find a perfect balance between goofy and sweet. Big Nate will not disappoint with this novel-length comic strip that has Nate pacing back and forth to solve problems with imagination, creativity, and humor. The abundance of illustrations and easy reading style will engage even reluctant readers. Book three will be much looked -forward to. Recommended for grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Pellant, Chris. 2011. Discover science: Rocks and fossils. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6606-3.

The book Rocks and fossils is a compelling learning tool assisting young readers in the subject foundation for future learning. Exciting material on how volcanoes make rocks, how tree sap becomes precious stone, and how to find fossils makes for interesting reading. The discover series always includes fun projects, notes to parents and teachers, and a “quiz” about each subject. Illustrations enhance each worthy chapter. (BNS) 

Petersen, David. 2011. Snowy valentine. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-146378-5.

Jasper, a bunny, loves his wife but cannot think of a valentine gift that reflects his affection. He walks in the snow through the village, going from one house to another looking for the perfect present. However, Jasper does not find a gift that is quite right. At the end of his quest, the cardinal points out that Jasper made the quintessential present for his wife. Children may be able to guess the gift Jasper made in the snow during his walk through the village. Recommended for all ages. (DLN).

Pinnington, Andrea, & Gordon-Harris, Tony. 2012. Scholastic discover more: Animal babies. Scholastic, Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-36568-0.

Pinnington, Andrea, & Lamprell Penny. 2012. Scholastic discover more: My body Scholastic, Inc. scholastsic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-34514-9.

Both books are examples of titles in Scholastic’s “discover more” series. Strengths of each book include a free digital companion book with additional facts and activities complementing each title. Each book is easy-to-read, with large fonts and realistic pictures. The diagrams in My body are also realistic. However, the text in each book may confuse readers because of imprecise vocabulary, such as “most” and “some.” Also, the first sentence in Animal babies, “All animals can have babies,” is not accurate because animals, such as humans and cows, can be infertile. (DLN) 

Polacco, Patricia. 2011. Bun Bun Button. Penguin Group (G. P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25472-7.

Grandma sews her granddaughter, Paige, a stuffed yellow calico bunny she names Bun Bun Button. Paige and Bun Bun are inseparable until one day when tragedy strikes and a balloon moved by high winds sweeps Bun Bun high into the atmosphere. Given the predominant theme of loving relationships and moods in the story, children will easily predict the outcome of the story, which is warm, tender, and a reminder of the power of love. (DLN)

Purcell, Kim. 2012. Trafficked. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 384 pp. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-670-01280-0.

Hannah cannot believe the nightmare she is living in the land of her dreams, America. She came to the US to nanny for a Russian-American family in Los Angeles; however, her working conditions are oppressive and unjust. Multiple conflicts of person v. person, person v. society, and person v. self are captivating and heart-wrenching. However, readers, ages 12 and older, will gain a deeper understanding of the reality and inhumanity of trafficking after reading this book. (DLN) 

Quattlebaum, Mary. 2012. Jo Macdonald had a garden. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-165-5. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant.

Jo Macdonald had a garden is a new twist on an old song. In this book, young children learn about gardens and how they benefit both people and animals with the food and habitat they provide. Preschool children will also enjoy exploring the illustrations that accompany the text as they watch the garden grow. (LB) 

Ransom, Candice. 2011. George Washington and the story of the U.S. Constitution. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 48pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5877-0. Illustrated by Jeni Reeves.

Fifty-five men gathered in 1787 in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the meeting was to write a constitution for the newly formed country under the leadership of George Washington. This is a detailed account of the meeting, men, and personality issues which forced compromise and cooperation. At the end of the book is a script which can be used to produce a play on the historical event. (BNS) 

Rey, Margaret and H.A. 2011. Reading fun with Curious George box set. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 24pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-57722-7.

Based on the original Curious George created by Margaret and H.A. Rey, this boxed set includes six Level 1, Getting Ready to Read books for children ages five through seven with a reading recovery level of 15-16. The books: the dog show, the kite, roller coaster, the boat show, Curious George plays golf, and piñata party, correspond to different concept grouping: flight, measurements, water, numbers, and the five senses. Curious George is his inquisitive self, but piñata party places him in dangerous situations. Navigating a large city all day blind folded is not an appropriate plot for children of any age. (DLN) 

Rinaldi, Ann. (2009). Leigh Ann’s Civil War. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 308pp. $7.99. ISBN978-0-547-54999-6.

Leigh Ann’s Civil War is an easy-to-read novel narrated by the young protagonist of the title. The setting of the novel revolves around the historic Roswell Cotton Mill and its burning by the Yankees. Significant events of the war are woven into the story, which revolves around the owners of the mill and their family dynamics. The burning of the mill and the transporting North of the women and children employed by the mill were described as the horrific events that they were; but the flavor of the book is more a novel rather than an accurate depiction of true Southern life in antebellum Roswell, Georgia. This is definitely a story for young adult readers, who may find that the quick-paced dialogue and entertaining story line pique their interest for research into the “maelstrom of pillaging, unnecessary destruction, heart-rending ruination, and unremitting desolation that became known as Sherman’s March to the Sea.” If that is so, then Ann Rinaldi is to be thanked.

However, her book was profuse with unnecessary profanity, even out of the mouth of the young heroine and her sisters. Rinaldi may have written her ideas about antebellum Southern life from her modern, Northern point of view. At that time, certain behaviors were allowed and forbidden at home and at school, and well-bred young ladies would have been in finishing schools. The other misinterpretations of Southern life would have been more tolerable if Rinaldi had not thought it necessary to include the profuse use of profanity and sexual information in her story. It is puzzling to consider that modern authors must make even historical narratives contemporary, or that they feel the necessity to strew a decent storyline with trash. It is noteworthy that the novels of Miss Austen and the Misses Bronte, which do not include any of this, still sell. (TS) 

Roop, Peter and Connie. 2011. Down east in the ocean. Down East Books. [email protected], (800-685-7962). 24pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-709-4. Illustrated by Nicole Fazio.

From seals and whales to ospreys and jellyfish, this counting book uses animals found in and near the coast of Maine. As young readers turn the pages of this book they will count along as the animals go about their daily lives. Utilizing both rhyming text and large illustrations, this book will entertain preschool children as they read along. (LB) 

Rosenburg, Aaron. 2011. Pete and Penny’s pizza puzzles: Case of the topsy-turvy toy. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Price Stern Sloan). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 62pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-8431-9929-1. Illustrated by David Harrington.

Young readers can join in the puzzle-solving fun with Pete and Penny through this interactive and engaging story. In this book from the Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles series, readers will follow the trail left by an unknown person to solve a puzzle that is not completely revealed until the end. Readers will help Pete and Penny solve a maze of clues, decode secret letters, and find the door that is unlocked by a mysterious key. Through their adventures, Pete and Penny enjoy the excitement of the puzzles, work together as a team, and help friends in need. With the answers in the back, all that is left is to ask if you’d like sausage or pepperoni on your pizza. (MW) 

Rosenstock, Barb. 2012. The camping trip that changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our national parks. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3710-5. Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.

John Muir loved the outdoors, especially the Yosemite wilderness near his home in California. He expressed his fondness and concern for the outdoors through his writing in one of his books, calling upon the United States government to help protect these lands. Theodore Roosevelt read this plea for help and took action by arranging to go camping with Muir and see first-hand this majestic area. This trip led to action by Roosevelt and the creation of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and national forests. Elementary readers will enjoy this story that is based on the true relationship that developed between John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt. (LB) 

Rosenthal, Eileen. (2012). I’ll save you Bobo! Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0378-9. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.

Children ages 3 – 6 will welcome the Rosethal’s second Bobo book which is as clever as the first, I must have Bobo (2011). Earl, the cat, is once again the antagonist who wants Bobo, the sock monkey, as much as Willy. Tails contribute to the on-going conflicts, generating excitement in the story with an endearing ending. (DLN) 

Rosenthal, Eileen. 2011. I must have Bobo!. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0377-2. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal.

Willy loves Bobo, a sock monkey, who he does not want out of his sight. Earl, Willy’s cat, is also fond of Bobo and enjoys dragging Bobo out of Earl’s sight. Young children will recognize the relationship between Earl and Bobo, as well as the sense of loss and fear when Earl hides Bobo from Willy. Willy and Earl are both persistent in their pursuit and ownership of Bobo, an unfortunate pawn of affection. Recommended for ages two through six. (DLN) 

Ryals, Lexi. 2011. Teeny tiny animals. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-24982-9.

This nonfiction book introduces young readers to some of the world’s smallest animals. Everything from the common, such as Chihuahuas and pigs, to the elusive Monte Iberia Eleuth frog are covered in this book. The photographs of the animals give readers a true sense of their size and the text tells readers not only the size of the animal but also where they live in the world. Children that like animals will enjoy reading this book and learning about these tiny creatures. (LB) 

Rylant, Cynthia. 2011. Mr. Putter & Tabby: Ring the bell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 44pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-15-205071-9. Illustrated by Arthur Howard.

Joining at least 19 other Mr. Putter & Tabby books is Ring the bell, about Mr. Putter’s wish to return to school – at least for a day. He does attend school for part of the day, along with his cat, Tabby, his neighbor Mrs. Teaberry, and her dog Zeke. The first grade teacher loved the idea of the pets performing tricks for her students, but Tabby and Zeke’s tricks are not exactly conventional. All is well in the end, however, and readers will enjoy yet another Mr. Putty and Tabby easy-to-read book. Ages 5 – 7. (DLN) 

Sattler, Jennifer. 2011. Pig kahuna. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], 646-307-5151. 32 pp. $14.99 ISBN 978-1-59990-635-5.

Fergus and his younger brother Dick are fond of exploring the beach and collecting treasures. Life on the beach is interesting and exciting as long as Fergus avoids the water. Pigs swim, but Fergus, like some humans, is terrified of the water. One day, the boys find a unique treasure, a surfboard the pigs name Dave. As the plot moves forward, the conflicts of person vs. person, and person vs. self unfold. Children may identify with multiple feelings and themes conveyed in the book, including fright, excitement, imagination, creativity, problem solving, love, friendship, and overcoming fear. This is an enchanting story for children ages 4 – 7. (DLN) 

Savage, Steven. 2011. Where’s Walrus?. Scholastic, Inc. scholasitc.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-70049-8.

Youngsters will definitely need their observation skills to find Walrus, who escapes from the zoo and hides in various parts of the city, wearing a camouflage of different colored hats. The zookeeper cannot find him hiding in the water fountain, diner, window display, or among brick layers, fire fighters, dancers, or artists. But Walrus cannot resist a diving competition and when he emerges from the water without his camouflage and a perfect score of five 10’s for the gold medal, the zoo keeper is astonished with Walrus’ accomplishment. Thankfully, the zoo keeper also comes up with a plan to keep Walrus in the zoo. This wordless picture book is an excellent resource for promoting cognitive and language development among children ages 2 – 9. (DLN) 

Say, Allen. 2011. Drawing from memory. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 72pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-17686-6.

When Allen Say was a child, he loved to draw and had dreams of becoming a cartoonist. His father shunned the idea and had expectations for him to earn a living with a respectable career. Allen did not give up on his dream and sought the guidance of Noro Shinpei, a leading cartoonist in Japan. It was under Shinpei’s guidance that Allen pursued his passion and became an artist. This memoir tells an inspiring story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles with well-written text that is enhanced with photographs, cartoons and illustrations. (LB) 

Schmid, Paul. 2011. Hugs from Pearl. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-180434-2.

Beloved Pearl loves to give hugs and despite her sharp quills, her friends appreciate her affection. However, Pearl is upset because her hugs hurt others when her quills puncture her friends’ flesh. She solves the problem by observing bees flying around the thorns of a rosebush. It is at this point in the story teachers and caregivers can stop and ask youngsters to predict the solution to Pearl’s problem. Recommended for ages 2-5. (DLN) 

Schmidt, Gary D. 2011. Okay for now. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597- 6127). 360 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-15260-8.

Multiple themes prevail throughout this complex coming-of-age story about a fourteen year old boy. Doug Swieteck moves with his dysfunctional family, including an abusive father, to a small town in Upstate New York. Initially, Doug hates the place – the people, the town, the school, and his house. However, through his friendship with a spirited young female schoolmate, his newly acquired passion for Audubon’s Birds of America plates, and his own true grit, he discovers himself and earns the respect of others in his life. (DLN). 

Schneider, Josh. 2011. Tales for very picky eaters. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 48pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-14956-1.

Any parent who has heard, “But I don’t like it…” only to reply, “But you haven’t tried it yet!” will appreciate this book. James’s father states some lighthearted and vivid possible results for James’s refusal to eat his food. If you need more ammunition for the dinner table rather than saying, “Because I told you so,” to picky eaters, this book will inspire more creative retorts. Perhaps your family’s Troll chef will be put out of work if you do not eat your lasagna, or maybe you will be overrun by growing oatmeal. While it may not actually make your kids eat their veggies, it will at least keep you laughing as you serve the same bowl of oatmeal for the third time. Kids from age 3 to 100 will enjoy hearing these clever and imaginative stories. (MW) 

Seegert, Scott (Vordak the incomprehensible). 2010. How to grow up and rule the world. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 195pp. $13.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-013-9. Illustrated by John Martin.

Between the title and cover image (an overdressed, villainous Vordak standing on the top of the world) this book will have no problems appealing to kids who want to rule the world. This book is a very thorough and comprehensive guide to anything and everything it takes to rule the world. Discussions on how to dress, how to bring out an inner evil, and how to arm oneself to overthrow are included in this first-page to last-page illustrated work of fiction. Charts, graphs, and instructions will encourage the already diabolical reader and help turn those readers who are on the edge. It’s goofy, it’s quirky, and it’s crude. Many students will like what’s between these pages. A good reference, if teachers are looking to help students write a “how to” paper or book. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Sendak, Maurice. 2011. Bumble-Ardy. HarperCollins Publishers (MDC Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-06-205198-1.

At age nine, Bumble-Ardy moves in with his aunt, Adeline, and for the first time in his life, he has a birthday party. Unfortunately, Adeline must go to work before the party begins and when she leaves, the mischief begins. Through rhyming, rhythmic verse, Maurice Sendak shares a tale of debauchery, self-indulgence, and gluttony among Bumble-Ardy and his party friends. But the tale is also about forgiveness and love, because after all, Adeline is “that aunt divine.” One of the more delightful passages refers to “swilling swine,” a charming phrase because swill is “garbage and scraps of waste food mixed with water for feeding to pigs.” All ages. (DLN) 

Sewall, Marcia. 1996. The pilgrims of Plimoth. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin Paperbacks). [email protected] Schuster.com, (800-223-2336). 48 pp. $7.99. ISBN: 987-0-68980861-6.

Although given a starred review by the Horn Book in 1996, readers should avoid The pilgrims of Plimoth unless they compare the errors and half-truths with Thanksgiving facts published in Deconstructing the myths of the first Thanksgiving by Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin available through the web at oyate.com (DLN). 

Shaw, Natalie, adapter. (2012). Olivia and the butterfly adventure. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight), [email protected] (800-223-2336), 36 pp. $10.99 ISBN 978-1-4424-3601-5. Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante.

Readers who also watch the television series, Olivia, may recognize this story based on the screenplay “Butterfly Safari,” written by Scott Gray. Olivia releases, then desperately tries to catch Stinky, Ian’s pet butterfly. The pursuit ends well on two fronts; Olivia recovers Stinky, and Ian decides butterflies should be free to fly with their friends. Youngsters ages 2 – 5 may relate to any one of the characters, including Ian, the butterfly. (DLN) 

Shecter, Vicky Alvear. 2011. Cleopatra’s moon. Scholastic Inc. (Arthur A. Levine). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 355pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-545-22130-6.

Vicky Alvear Shecter has provided readers with a historical novel highlighting a young woman not as well-known as the famous mother whose name she bore. Cleopatra’s moon follows the life of the daughter of Egyptian queen Cleopatra from childhood through her marriage to Juba II. The author skillfully weaves in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman history as Cleopatra Selene leaves her mother’s court as a Roman captive and returns to rule as a queen in North Africa. The intrigue of Roman Caesars, coupled with the rites and rituals of the ancient mystery religions, provides a swiftly-moving plot and accurate facts that make the book a perfect supplemental text for mature readers in history lessons covering these old empires. Because the author has chosen descriptive details rather than reference and innuendo in some settings and dialogue, this would not be a good choice for younger students. Adult readers or adult supervision is recommended. (TS) 

Shepard, Sara. 2011. The lying game. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 307pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211416-7.

Emma Paxton has spent her entire life searching for the place in which she fits. She has been bounced between foster homes ever since her mother abandoned her and has always wished for a family to call her own. When Emma discovers she has a long lost twin, she goes in search of her, only to find herself caught up in a world of lies and deceit. She must then figure out a way to be herself while also forming a relationship with her lost twin and her life of privilege. Teen readers will be drawn into the mystery of this book while also relating to Emma and her struggle to be herself and form positive relationships. (LB) 

Singer, Marilyn. 2011. A full moon is rising. Lee & Low Books. [email protected], (212-779-4400). 48pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-364-8. Illustrated by Julia Cairns.

This collection of interesting poems highlights how different cultures think about, celebrate, and experience the moon. In addition, a helpful full-layout, colored map shows the location of each culture, and an appendix gives more detail about each passage. Teachers and their late elementary to early middle school students will appreciate the artistry used to make learning about the moon a fun, interactive, and bright experience. (MW) 

Slodovnick, Avi. 2010. The tooth. Kane Miller Publishing. [email protected], (858-456-0540). 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-935279672-3. Illustrated by Manon Gauthier.

Marissa’s fondness for sweets causes a toothache and prompts an appointment with the dentist. As Marissa and her mother walk through the city to the dentist, Marissa sees an old man sitting on the sidewalk with an open box in front of him. Children may be able to predict the outcome of the visit to the dentist, but may be troubled by the characterization of the old man. Through the innocent eyes of a child, readers are reminded of the inhumanity of humanity. The illustrator uses color to highlight Marissa and other objects and people directly related to her in the story – bedroom, stuffed monkey, mother, the old man, couch in reception – are of the dental office, attendant, dentist, and bed with a pillow. Black, white, and gray illustrations dominate everything else. The story is provocative and heart wrenching and an excellent vehicle for conversations about innocence and humanity. All ages. (DLN) 

Smith, Miranda. 2009. Speed Machines and other record-breaking vehicles. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). 64pp. $12.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-6287-4.

This book explores the fastest vehicles on land, on water, and in the air as well as highlighting vehicles for their size or productivity. In this book readers learn about these amazing machines that come in all shapes and sizes, the people who operate them and their functions. The photographs and illustrations give the reader a better sense of these amazing machines as they explore this book. (LB) 

Smith, Roland. 2011. Storm runners. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-342-6100). 143pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-08175-7.

Fate has drawn up a new plan for 13-year-old Chase Masters and his father. When Chase’s father sells the family construction business, Chase finds himself traveling the countryside in search of natural disasters. Next stop? St. Petersburg Florida, where hurricane Emily is predicted to leave some catastrophic marks. Chase is dropped off at a circus house in Palm Breeze while his father heads to where he thinks the most damage will be done. Unfortunately, the storm changes course. Now Chase, along with two other classmates, finds himself battling the winds, sloshing through the rains and waters, and avoiding alligators that the storm stirs up. Readers will have to pick up the next installment in order to find out if Chase and his friends survive. There are plenty of survival tips and weather facts woven into the non-stop action. This book would make an excellent supplement to any classroom lessons involving natural disasters, and it is certain to entertain and teach. Recommended. Grades 5-8.(ADA) 

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. 2011. William’s midsummer dreams. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 209pp. $16.99. ISBN978-1-4424-1997-1.

William’s midsummer dreams is a fast-paced story about four siblings escaping harsh family situations. All four leave to find a fresh start with their aunt. William, an aspiring actor, auditions for the role of Puck in a summer production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” His audition was easy, and William was successful in getting the part. This meant that William would be separated from the rest of his new familial living conditions for the summer. The drama associated with the separation and that which occurs behind scenes of the production, including jealousy amongst the actors, intrigue, separation, and anxiety of the characters in the book adds to the intensity of a “story” within a story.

Because of this play, William’s summer is filled with the growing maturity that comes from being alone and somewhat isolated from the rest of his family. This, coupled with the exhilaration garnered from the performance, becomes the focus of his growth. William’s aunt brings the rest of the siblings to watch the play. In one terrifying scene involving the new family, they are forced to “stick together.” A good dual story. (BNS) 

Sparkes, Ali. 2009. Frozen in time. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 312pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-07701.

This book is the first of its kind in adolescent literature. It takes place in a large house in England during the year 2010. Ben and Rachel, 13 and 12 years old, try to stave off their boredom by staying out of their busy scientist uncle’s way and by exploring a densely overgrown garden. It doesn’t take long for them to discover Freddy and Polly, both hidden in an underground bunker and in cryogenic chambers since 1956, which was over 50 years ago. The possibility of cryogenics would make for an interesting discussion in any science class. Home economics and social studies classes may find the topic of soviets, time travel, and adjustments to modern day life intriguing. There is much mystery behind the disappearance of Freddy’s and Polly’s father, but the pacing is a bit slow. The action and the ending still put on a great show, however. Recommended. Grades 4-7. (ADA) 

Spinelli, Eileen. 2011. Now it is summer. Eerdman’s Publishing Company (Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521). 32pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5340-0. Illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma.

A young mouse repeatedly asks his mom if the much anticipated season of autumn is coming soon. While acknowledging the joys of fall and its unique opportunities, mother mouse reminds the young mouse to appreciate the days of summer and to enjoy living now. This is a poignant reminder to us all to be thankful for each moment and appreciate the joy today brings. Sense-provoking poetry is coupled with detailed and delightful paintings to make this book not only meaningful but a pleasure to read. (MW) 

Springman, I. C. 2012. More. Hougton Mifflin Harcourt. trade­[email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-61083-2. Illustrated by Brian Lies.

Magpie is obsessive about collecting stuff and eventually, the bird’s potpourri of things become overwhelming. However, Magpie’s mice friends come to the rescue and remove the majority of Magpie’s accumulated stuff. The illustrations actually tell the story more precisely and brilliantly than the text, but readers may have mixed reactions about the rhetorical intent of the author. According to the publisher, I. C. wrote the book hoping “one day there will be enough for all.” Readers, young and old alike, may want to ask if this is in fact, true. (DLN) 

Staton, Hilarie N. 2011. Cowboys and the wild west. Macmillian Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $9.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6510-3.

Cowboys and the Wild West focuses on the adventurous, romantic facet of life in America from 1800-1890. The narrative states facts about which groups of people were responsible for creating the concepts of cowboys, ranches, and daily tasks which were necessary for survival. Facts about which group of people brought cattle to the newly set up ranches, the tasks of pioneers, and how the term “cowboy” developed add useful historical information. This book provides an excellent supplement for elementary American history class. The illustrations, engravings, and photographs will further please young readers. (BNS) 

Steele, Philip. 2011. Knights and castles. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48pp. $8.99. ISBN079-0-7534-6383-0. Illustrated by Steve Stone, Thomas Bayley, and Lee Gibons.

Knights and castles, a Navigator book, gives the young reader a glimpse of information which can captivate the imagination. Since the renewed interest in families such as the Tudors, Knights and castles will invite the reader to participate in that adventure. The book is packed with facts of knights, battles, and castles. A wonderful addition to Medieval history classes. Ages 12+. (BNS) 

Steele, Philip. 2011. Speed machines: And other record-breaking vehicles. Macmillan (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 63pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6487-8. Illustrated by Steven Weston, Encompass Graphics, Peter Winfelf, and Sebastian Quigley.

Kingfisher Speed machines: And other record breaking vehicles explores the fastest, largest, longest, and strangest high powered vehicles. Readers will discover the science and technology that created each source of transportation from space to the deep sea. This is accomplished through chapters dedicated to land, air, and water transportation. Also included are links to related sites, career paths, and places to visit. Wonderful photographs and digital art work support each topic. Highly recommended for intermediate science classes. (BNS) 

Steele, Philip. 2011. Wonders of the world. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 63pp. $8.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6486-1.

Kingfisher Knowledge is an efficacious series. Each volume takes readers into the realities of its subject. Beautiful photography and artwork enhance each series. The text provides a path through the wonders of the world as humanity has recognized them throughout the centuries of recorded history. The seven wonders of the world are explored, from the ancient to modern. Chapters have easy-to-understand summaries. A must for individuals who love history. Ages 12+. (BNS) 

Stone, Phoebe. 2011. The Romeo and Juliet code. Scholastic Inc. (Arthur A. Levine). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 300 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-545-21511-4.

Don’t be fooled by this book’s flippantly modern cover. This tender tale of friendship and family during World War II reads like the Frances Hodgson Burnett novels to which it frequently alludes. Set in Maine, the story begins with eleven-year-old Felicity Bathburn Budwig’s arrival from bomb-ravaged London. She finds herself stuck in her extended family’s secret-filled Victorian house with The Gram, her spinster Aunt Miami, and her awkwardly helpful Uncle Gideon. Once she unravels the mystery of the secluded “Captain Derek,” who turns out to be her polio-stricken adopted cousin, she recruits him in a quest to unravel the mystery of the coded letters that occasionally arrive from her father. The delightful coming of age story gets stronger as it’s told, with unfurling secrets and revelations. Author Phoebe Stone includes notes on her research into covert intelligence agents at work in Europe during World War II. Highly recommended for grades 4-6. (AEW) 

Stone, Tanya Lee. 2011. A is for America: A patriotic alphabet book. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Price Stern Sloan). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-8431-9877-5. Illustrated by Gerald Kelley.

A is For America is a unique historical walk through some of the founding fathers and major developments in our nation’s history, organized alphabetically. It earns a thumbs-up for a book that presents history and patriotism in a memorable and uplifting way. The illustrations show a group of school kids performing a play and dressed up as the characters they represent for each letter. A bonus is the list on the back cover with more information about the topics already introduced. This book is a definite asset to any elementary reader’s book shelf. (MW) 

Stout, Glenn. 2011. Good sports: Soldier athletes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 99pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-547-41729-5.

This book tells the story of four professional athletes who put their careers on hold to serve their country. Ted Williams, Rocky Bleier, Carlos May and Pat Tillman all made sacrifices that would impact their lives and future athletic careers. This book tells of their individual service and determination to come back to the sports they loved. (LB) 

Summers, Laura. 2010. Desperate measures. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 250pp. $16.99. ISBN 987-0-399-25616-5.

Jamie and his twin sisters, Vicky and Rhianna, start off on an adventure to find a place where they can stay together when their foster family is unable to care for them. As they journey to an aunt’s cottage miles away, their travel is punctuated by interactions with others – some harrowing, such as being bullied by teens; and some compassionate, such as being given food and insight into another sibling relationship. Summers tells the story through Vicky’s and Rhianna’s alternating voices. The children’s personalities are strongly illustrated: Jamie’s willingness to pick a fight, Rhianna’s quirky thoughts and behaviors as a child identified with a learning disability, and Vicky’s resourcefulness in keeping the trio safe. Summers portrays both a realistic, yet near-fantasy, adventure of children living in a world of differences, including the sometimes-tenuous placement in foster care, the unique thoughts and behavior of children with disabilities, having a sibling with a disability, and the continuum in which all children can be treated by others. Desperate measures has won numerous awards in the U.K. and is appropriate for readers ages 10 and up. (JMM) 

Sweet, Melissa. 2011. Balloons over Broadway: The true story of the puppeteer of Macy’s parade. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-19945-0.

Readers may recognize Melissa Sweet as the illustrator of A river of words. In this fascinating biography, Melissa Sweet shares the life of Tony Sarg (1880-1942) and the origin of the Macy’s Day Parade using visual elements of “mixed media collage,” and literary elements dominated by the characterization of Tony Sarg. Readers can follow Tony as he creates marionettes that fly in the sky, entertaining people attending the first Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parades in New York City, beginning in 1928. The end notes of the author, bibliography, and sources complement the biography. All ages. (DLN). 

Sylvester, Kevin. 2012. Neil Flambe and the Aztec abduction. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 297pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4607-6.

This is a book with good reviews, and excellent potential (based on the first book, The Marco Polo Murders), but readers beware. This book might have the hardcover or book jacket advertising Neil Flambe and the Aztec Abduction, but its content might be that of the first book. Check this out before purchasing it for your school library or classroom. (ADA) 

Sylvester, Kevin. 2012. Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo murders. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 297pp. $12.99. ISBN978-1-4424-4604-5.

Some people are said to have a nose for news, but 14-year-old Neil Flambe has got a nose for kitchen know-how. As a prodigy chef, Neil owns his own top-notch Vancouver restaurant. He may be a bit cocky, but he is confident. Neil had previously used his keen sense of smell to help police inspector Sean Nakamura solve murder cases, before venturing into the restaurant business, but now once again Neil is happy to help the detective solve a chain of murders done to the best chefs in the Vancouver area. Neil struggles to identify one particular odor found on all victims, and just when it seems he can’t quite pinpoint the one or ones responsible for the crimes, he finds himself a suspect. This book is one well-oiled machine, running smoothly from beginning to end. The refreshing theme of culinary genius, the historical tie between Marco Polo and his last voyage journal, and the sheer mystery and madness in this detective story make this a must-read for any aspiring cook or detective or both. A+ work and highly recommended. Grades 6-8. (ADA) 

Taylor, Barbara. 2011. Discover science: Apes and monkeys. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $9.99. ISBN 078-0-7534-6603-2.

Apes and monkeys, a Discover science book, is a beautiful learning experience. The young reader learns the definition of apes, monkeys, etc. and their differences according to geographic location. Colorful pictures accompany each description, enhancing the educational aspect of the book. A fascinating chapter on finding food encourages the students to experiment with creating a “termite tower”. Fun, interactive projects are included (as in other discover science books), as well as notes to teachers and parents (BNS). 

Thomason, Mark. 2009. Moonrunner. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. [email protected], (858-456-0540). 224pp. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-935279-03-7.

Twelve-year-old Casey had to leave his home in Montana and move with his family to Australia. He is friendless and bullied at school, but he finds comfort in his new horse Lady. Hard times force Casey to set Lady free to live with a herd of wild horses for the winter. One particular stallion that Casey names Moonrunner stands out in the herd, and the two of them form a special bond. This book will appeal to adolescent animal lovers, and Casey’s struggle to find acceptance make him a relatable character. (LB) 

Thomson, Melissa. 2010. Keena Ford and the secret journal mix up. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 118pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3465-4. Illustrated by Frank Morrison.

A seemingly innocent play-date ends worrisomely when second grade Keena Ford arrives home and discovers she has left her precious journal at her not-so-friendly friend Tiffany’s house. Keena is troubled further when Tiffany decides to hold the journal until Keena agrees to be her friend. This chapter book offers an appropriate resolution to a real-life situation, when the strong-willed and intelligent Keena decides to confront her anxieties and confront her “friend.” A quick, satisfying, and illustrated read. Recommended for grades 1-3. (ADA) 

Todras, Ellen H. 2011. Wagon trains and settlers. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6511-0.

The All about America series invites the young reader to be an active participant in specific aspects of our history. This series is especially important as detailed art from this time period gives a more accurate portrayal of history.

The events of the mid-1800s inspired many to seek a better life in the West. The hardships, turmoil, and actual living experiences are expertly woven, leaving the reader wondering how all this was accomplished. A wonderful supplement to American History classes. Ages 10+. (BNS) 

Turner, Ann. 2011. Father of lies. HarperCollins (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 247pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-137085-4.

Ann Turner has written a highly satisfying historical fiction novel about the Salem Witch Trials. The year is 1692; the place is Salem, Massachusetts. When “witch fever” erupts, fingers start pointing to those who are supposedly afflicted. When the consequences of the accused become disastrous, 14 year old Lidda must decide to follow her inner voice from “Lucian” the light bringer to expose a bunch of lies or remain silent and let disaster fall. This may not be an in-class read, but every teacher should add it to a reading list for students. It is a great study on courage and standing up against monstrous acts and haunting accusations. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Underwood, Deborah. 2011. The loud book. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-547-39008-6. Illustrated by Renata Liwska.

The loud book explores the various forms of loud noises. This book presents all sounds, from good to bad, in a child-friendly manner. Illustrated by Renata Liwska, the book shows creatures in the good-bad “sound bites.” Recommended for grades 1-3. (BNS) 

Vaughan, Marcia. 2011. Irena’s jar of secrets. Lee & Low Books. [email protected], (212-779-4400). 32pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-439-3. Illustrated by Ron Mazellan.

Irena Sendler was born in Poland to a Catholic family, and her father taught her to respect all people. When the Nazi’s imprisoned Jewish families in the Warsaw Ghetto, Irena remembered her father’s words and began to smuggle Jewish children out of the ghetto and into safety. Irena kept lists of the children she helped and planned to reunite them with their families when the war was over. This book uses text and beautiful illustrations to tell elementary school readers the story of a woman who risked her own life to save the lives of thousands of innocent children. (LB) 

Venkatraman, Padma. 2011. Island’s end. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 228 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-2509906.

Set among the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, this coming-of-age story with a young female protagonist, Uido, provides readers with an opportunity to learn about cultural conflicts when
outsiders/strangers threaten values and traditions of indigenous people. Uido, chosen by the members of her island tribe to become the next spiritual leader, struggles to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to keep the values of her people intact. (DLN) 

Venuti, Kristin Clark. 2010. The butler gets a break: A Bellweather tale. Egmont USA. [email protected]m, (212-685-0102). 225pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-087-0.

Butler Tristan Benway, who graduated first in his class at B. Knighted Academy for Butler’s, is about to find out what the quirky Bellweather family would do without him. When 10-year-old triplets Brick, Spike, and Sassy leave the lighthouse stairs in disrepair, Benway unwittingly breaks through the steps and is hospitalized for a broken leg. The family needs a “staple” to hold them together when it is discovered that 15-year-old Spider has smuggled some sort of attack squirrel into their own village called Eel-Smack-By-The Bay. Meanwhile 14-year-old Ninda carries the burden of trying to place some displaced immigrants. This sequel to Leaving the Bellweathers has tidbits of humor throughout that will make most the most serious middle schooler chuckle. The telling as a memoir in the third person will give educators lesson plan ideas to target student comprehension of literary types and point of view. Recommended for grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Walker, Brian F. 2012. Black boy/white school. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 246 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191483-6.

Anthony “Ant” Jones, a fourteen-year-old eighth grade student, is about to leave his violent East Cleveland home on a full scholarship for a predominantly white private high school in Maine called Belton Academy. Adjustment to the new cultures in the school is a challenge, and Ant struggles with learning and following the rules and the traditions. However, the full scholarship is does not cover all expenses, and Ant must return to East Cleveland after one year at Belton. This young adult novel is ideal for book clubs and even perhaps literature circles among students from different backgrounds who struggle with accepting themselves and others. (DLN) 

Walker, Paul Robert. 2011. Gold rush and riches. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6512-7.

One of America’s most intriguing stories is the 1848 gold discovery in California. As a result, people from all over the world flocked there to seek their fortune. California, thus, became a diverse culture with a lasting, colorful legacy. Ages 10+. (BNS) 

Walker, Sally M. 2012. Freedom song: The story of Henry “Box” Brown. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-058310-1. Ilustrated by Sean Qualls.

Similar in genre and theme to Henry’s Freedom Box: A true story from the Underground Railroad (Levine, 2007), Freedom song is the fictional retelling of Henry Brown, a slave born on a Virginia plantation around 1815. Henry loved to sing but when his master sold Henry’s wife and children, all but Henry’s “Freedom song” died. The illustrations convey the darkest moods of setting and characterization, especially Henry’s journey in a box from slavery in Virginia to freedom in Philadelphia. Recommended for ages 8-12. (DLN) 

Ward, D. J. 2011. Seven wonders of space phenomena. Lerner Publishing Group (Twenty First Century Books). [email protected] (800-328-4929). 80pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5452-0.

The Seven Wonders series is a group of beautifully illustrated books. Each identifies a certain classification of space phenomena, providing valuable information about the “final frontier.” This book answers basic questions, such as “when did the universe begin?” Other chapters, such as “Dark Energy and Dark Matter,” explore some of the mysterious forces that either work for or against gravity. A helpful glossary is included. Ages 10+. Highly recommended. (BNS) 

Watsin, Geoff. 2010. Edison’s gold. Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 312pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-094-8.

With equal parts mystery, adventure, and action, this novel is sure to engage any middle school student. Tom Edison is the 13-year-old great-great grandson of the famous inventor Thomas Edison. Although young Tom is bent on mischief and clumsiness, he is not petty in his dealings when he discovers his great-great grandfather’s formula for turning metal into gold. Along with his friends “Noodle” and Colby, Tom Jr. finds himself in a number of predicaments involving air shafts, trains, and water in order to keep his secret out of the greedy hands of enemy Nikola Tesla and bring honor back to the Edison name. Although no factual information on whether any of the historical figures or possibilities mentioned were true, the read will provide a roller coaster ride of fun. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Weaver, Will. 2012. The survivors. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 308pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-009476-8.

When the volcanoes erupt and change the earth’s climate, everything about Sarah’s life, and who she is, changes with it. She and her family must flee their suburban home and take shelter in a small cabin in the woods, depending on her brother’s wilderness skills for survival. Sarah has not only lost the comforts of home, but her identity is also gone as she learns to adapt to her new status as a “traveler” and the stigma that goes with it. As Sarah becomes accustomed to her new home and school, she also learns some valuable life lessons about what is truly important. Teenagers will enjoy reading about the survival skills in this book as they also relate to Sarah and her struggle to connect to her family and society. (LB) 

Weber, Belinda. 2010. Discover science: Reptiles. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 56pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6605-6.

Discover science series captures the essence of various subjects. Reptiles relates important facts about different types of reptiles, i.e. temperature control, skin, senses, moving capabilities and reproduction. Located at the back of the book are activities and notes for future learning experiences which help young readers with their creative experience. A good supplement for early science classes. (BNS) 

Weeks, Sarah. 2010. As simple as it seems. HarperCollins Publishers (Laura Geringer Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 181 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-084663-3.

After fifth grade graduate Verbena Colter unravels the mystery behind her New York City birth and true parents, she realizes that her struggles in school are due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. After she loses her best friend to another girl, and wedges stormy words between herself and her mother, Verbena feels lost. She faces a summer of loneliness with only her shelter dog, Jack, for company. That is, until the arrival of the redheaded, gullible Pooch. Her new neighbor doesn’t know Verbie or her past, and when he stumbles upon her playing down by Bonners Lake in her white nightgown, he believes her to be the ghost of a drowned girl. Adventures and friendship ensue. A lovely story of two awkward children finding acceptance of themselves through time spent with each other. Note: The FAS angle is quickly dealt with and not a major element of the story overall. Perhaps this shows how “normal” an FAS kid can be. Recommended for grades 4-6. (AEW) 

Whelan, Gloria. 2011. See what I see. HarperCollins (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 199pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-125545-8.

Kate dreams of becoming an artist, and she is one step closer to her dream when she receives a scholarship to art school. The only thing she needs now is a place to stay and she decides to knock on the door of her father, who she has not seen in years, and ask him for a home while she attends classes. Living with her father is full of challenges and turns out to be a lesson not only in art but also in life. Teenagers will relate to Kate’s struggles to find herself as she navigates the ups and downs of self-discovery. (LB) 

Williams, Alex. 2006. The talent thief. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 300pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25278-5.

Any child with an exemplary talent at all is going to want to stay away from the creature of the dark! Talented children all over the world have been invited to share their extraordinary gifts when they are all invited to the “Festival of Youthful Genius”. When 12-year-old Adam Bloom, a seemingly talentless boy, demands to attend the festival to protect his oh-so singing-talented sister Cressida, he learns the festival is a trap. Adam is too late in discovering the villainous Fortescue’s evil intentions and Cressida’s singing talent is gone! Determined to help his sister regain her talent, Adam recruits two previous victims, and the triage set out to answer some of their questions. This fantasy adventure makes for a good, humorous story with a couple of interesting concepts—a talent thief and a creature that doesn’t necessarily reflect the evil of the darkness it lives and works best in. The characters are a bit unrealistic, but the idea that all kids in the “real” world have talents and must work to find those talents is believable and real. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Wilson, Diane Lee. 2012. Tracks. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 276pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2013-7.

The year is 1866, the place is San Fransisco, California, and the motivation is to find work in tough times. Thirteen-year-old Malachy Gormley becomes the man in the family after his father dies in the Civil War. To help support his family, Malachy heads to California to help build the transcontinental railroad. The work is grueling and dangerous, and once he’s hired, there are plenty of opportunities to develop bad habits. Malachy’s gambling is insatiable and to make matters worse, he steals a bag of money which negatively affects a fellow worker and Chinese immigrant he calls Duck. Malachy’s irresponsibility and immaturity cause his character to die of its own inertia—he’s simply not a likable character. The author’s description of the setting during the mid-1800s, the close detail to Chinese customs, and the topic of two major and real-life railroad companies and practices will definitely spark interest in its readers. Place a copy in your library. Readers will like it. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Wilson, Hannah, and Butler, John. 2009. Pets. Macmillan Children’s Books (Kingfisher). 18pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6386-7.

Pets can be a lot of fun but they also need for to be cared for correctly. Dogs, horses and rabbits all have special needs, and this book highlights the needs of each of these animals and other common pets. This book has interactive flaps that will engage young children as they learn all about their favorite animals. (LB) 

Wittes, Stephen S. and Marsha V. Gallagher (Editors). 2010. The North American journals of Prince Maximillian of Wied: Volume II, April to September 1833. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (1-800-627-7377). 612pp. $85.00. ISBN 978-0806139234.

Prince Maximillian was a naturalist and explorer from western Germany whose first expedition to the New World came on a trip to Brazil in 1816. After suffering several setbacks and returning to Germany, Maximillian returned again to the New World in 1832. This time, his mission was to explore the Great Plains of North America. This title, the second volume of Maximillian’s travel journal and notes from North America, recounts his experiences travelling up the Missouri River from St. Louis to the frontier of Montana Territory. Aboard the steamers Yellow Stone and Assiniboine, Maximillian surveys the immediate countryside, detailing the geography, topography, and biology of the habitats he encounters along the river. Along the way Maximillian and the steamers’ crews frequently meet and live among Native Americans and employees of the federal government.

While Maximillian spends some time describing several of the numerous Native American tribes he encountered, this title is perhaps most valuable for the rich descriptions of the landscape and the environment. The North American journals of Prince Maximillian of Wied is not so much a journal in the sense that Maximillian shares much of his own personal thoughts or feelings about what he has seen as it is a precise, scientific account of the journey. Maximillian’s journal is equal parts captain’s log and natural history recitation; it is not to be confused with travel journals like you might be familiar with from the Oregon Trail era. It is filled with descriptions of this type of bird, or that type of plant, or an accounting of the hardships of steamboat travel on the Missouri River. There is much of value in this title, especially for historians of early Western exploration, Native American history, and the biology of the Missouri River Valley, and it is not necessary that you have read Volume I beforehand. The editors have done quite an astonishing job of translating his words and providing copious notes to explain where he is geographically and clarifying what plants and animals he is seeing. I highly recommend this title to anyone with interests in early navigation and travel on the Missouri River as well as anyone wishing to learn more about the geography and natural history of the Northern Great Plains prior to European settlement. (CL) 

Wong, Janet S. 2010. Me and Rolly Maloo. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 122pp. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-158-5. Illustrated by Elizabeth Butler.

Rolly Maloo, 4th grade, is the most popular girl in school. Jenna Lee is not all that popular, but she is a math whiz. When Rolly flings a note to Jenna asking her for the answer to question #8 on a math test, Jenna hesitates. Should she cheat? The part novel, part comic book format will appeal to youngsters. The many characters will not make this an easy read for some readers. “When all else fails, tell the truth,” is a message that will make this worth the read for classroom teachers. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Yep, Laurence. 2011. Dragons of silk. HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 352 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-027518-1

Dragons of silk, spanning seventy-five years of the lives of four young women from different generations, 1835 – 2011, is the final book in Laurence Yep’s Golden Mountain Chronicles. As with The serpent’s children, Mountain light, Dragon’s gate, The traitor, Dragonwings, Dragon Road, Child of the owl, Sea Glass, and Thief of hearts, one of the dominant threads of this historical and contemporary realistic novel is the complexity of experiences among the Chinese and American Chinese immigrants. Two themes are prevalent in Dragons of silk: the importance of family throughout the generations and the value of silk. Silk is more than a livelihood; it is an art and a science. This is highly recommended for students in grades 5 – 12 + when studying China and Chinese immigration to the USA (1835 – 2011). (DLN) 

Yolen, Jane. 2010. Sea queens: Women pirates around the world. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-225-3241). 103pp. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-132-5. Illustrated by Christine Joy Pratt.

Throughout history, the act of piracy was attributed only to men. However, some of the most famous pirates were women. The women came from all classes, resorting to piracy out of desperation, necessity, and/or greed. This well-written book describes the life and acts of thirteen women who chose piracy as a way of life. (BNS) 

Yoo, David. 2012. The detention club. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 299pp. ISBN 978-0-06-178378-4.

Peter Lee and his friend Drew are about to graduate from middle school. They want to make sure they remain “cool” with their new transition into high school, however. The move proves more difficult than they thought. Those who were once friends have now joined different groups of friends, the idea of collecting the most mica over the summer to remain “cool” has dissipated, and relying on maverick skills in kickball has deemed them losers. Eventually Peter and Drew realize that they must change their tactics. After failing at their schemes to befriend the popular, Drew parts ways with Peter and Peter launches his “Detention Club” scheme. Peter begins to recapture his popularity, with the help of the Sweet brother twins and an elaborate plan to catch the school thief. There are no show-stoppers in this evenly paced and gentle comedy. The characters are just nerdy enough that readers will be able to relate to and laugh at them. The plot allows readers to see how one can move from self-absorption to redemption in a few hundred pages. Teachers could use the premise of popularity and its effects on kids for teaching this book in the classroom. Libraries can circulate it freely. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Yovanoff, Brenna. 2010. The replacement. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 343pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-337-2.

The little town of Gentry is one of the finest, most prosperous steel mining towns around – well, most of the time anyway. But it’s been seven years and the roofs are beginning to leak, the topsoil is being washed away by the rain, and the town is beginning to fold into pieces. 16 year old Mackie Doyle is a changling child who was used to replace a real human baby. But Mackie is dying and he needs to visit the “underground” to get the medicine he requires. While negotiating with the underground residents, Mackie learns the true secret behind Gentry’s success. If the once-thriving town is going to continue its success, the sacrifice of a real human baby needs to be made. Now Mackie finds himself torn between his survival and a moral dilemma. The premise of Yovanoff’s debut novel is intriguingly brilliant in its mystery and darkness in the world of the supernatural. Recommended for grades 8 and up. (ADA) 

Zahler, Diane. 2012. Princess of the wild swans. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 212pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200492-5.

Princess Meriel is distraught when her father’s new wife secretly sends her brothers away to school. When she investigates further, she learns that her stepmother is a witch. She has actually turned Meriel’s brothers into swans and cast a spell on her father as she plots to take over his kingdom. Meriel turns to others for help as she plots to break the witches spell and get her family and kingdom back. This unlikely heroine will appeal to elementary students as they cheer on Princess Meriel in this magical story. (LB) 

Zia, F. 2011. Hot, hot roti for dada-ji. Lee & Low Books, [email protected], (212-779-4499). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-60060-443-0. Illustrated by Ken Min.

While the love between a grandson and his grandfather is evident in this story, so is the power of tradition. In this case, the power comes from roti, a traditional flat Indian bread. Aneel is thrilled when his grandparents from India come to the United States to live with Aneel and his family. Dada-ji, Aneel’s grandfather, is fond of telling stories about his childhood and the power of eating roti. The whimsical illustrations complement the plot, conflicts, setting, characterization, and themes of this delightful story for children age 4 – 9. (DLN)