Professional Reviews (Significant Others I)

2012. Disney bedtime favorites. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 312 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-142316034-2.

Adaptations from 19 Disney enterprises comprise the contents of this anthology. Stories include adapations from Toy story, The Lion King, Bambi, Lilo and Stitich, Mickey Mouse, Sleeping Beauty, Monsters Inc., Cinderella, 101 Dalmations, Peter Pan, Finding Nemo, Dumbo, Bunnies, Pinocchio, The Aristocats, Winnie the Pooh, Aladdin, Donal Dicu, and Cars. Children familiar with the Disney films will easily recognize the characters. However, the book can also be used to introduce students learning English as another language to one of the dominant cultural icons of the USA – Disney. (DLN) 

Ada, Alma Flor, & Zubizarreta, Gabriel M..2011. Dancing home. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). consumer,[email protected] 800-223-2336. 176pp. $5.99. 978-1-4424-8175-6.

Margie struggles to be an American and remain true to her heritage. When her cousin Lupe arrives from Mexico, Margie sees the importance of preserving her family’s traditions and language. Issues faced by immigrant families are handled optimistically. The author incorporates cultural references and language into the story with ease. This is the perfect read for 10-12 year olds. (KKG) 

Allington, Richard L. and Anne McGill-Franzen, (Eds). (2013). Summer reading: closing the rich/poor reading achievement gap. Teachers College Press. [email protected], (800-575-6566). 144 pp. $27.95. ISBN 978-0-8077-5374-3.

In addition to chapters by the editors, Allington and McGill-Franzen, the text includes contributions by James J. Lindsay, Lunetta Williams, Geralding Melosh, and Lynn Begelmen. While the majority of chapters address summer reading loss, chapter 4, The importance of book selections: Enticing struggling readers to say, “I want to read that one!” (Williams) provides book selection ideas for classroom teachers. (DLN) 

Appelt, Kathi. (2013). The true blue scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2105-9.

Fantasy for young adults, ages 8 – 12, may be classified into two categories, high fantasy or low fantasy. Since the setting of The true blue scouts of Sugar Man Swamp is a recognizable, realistic swamp, it is low fantasy. Appelt does suspend disbelief of the fantastical elements of the story through the setting and the descriptions of multiple characters in the story including two clever, talking, raccoons who live in an abandoned DeSota; Chap Brayburn, a wandering wild gang of hogs; Sugar Man; and a handful of minor protagonists and antagonists. With an environmental theme, humorous and serious events, the book is undoubtedly another Appelt treasure. (DLN) 

Atinuke. (2013). Splash, Anna Hibiscus! EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). [email protected], (800-475-4522). 32 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-173-6. Illustrated by Lauren Tobia.

Anna is at the beach with her family and wants someone to pay with her in the water. People are busy with their activities and turn Anna away when she asks them to splash with her in the waves. Anna then decides to play in the water alone. Although everyone soon joins her, the message of a very young girl splashing in the ocean waves alone, is frightening. (DLN) 

Austin, Mike. (2013). Monsters love colors. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-212594-1.

Monsters share their favorite colors of red, yellow, and blue then create new colors by first mixing red and yellow, then yellow and blue, then red and blue, and finally, using all of the colors to build a rainbow. Youngsters ages 4 – 8 may enjoy copying the monsters as they mix colors (on a blank sheet of paper, of course). Art teachers may want to read the book to their students before a lesson on the composition and effect of color. (DLN) 

Bach, Shelby. 2012. The ever afters: Of giants and ice. Simon and Schuster (Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 352pp. $15.99. ISBN978-1-4424-3146-1.

Eleven-year-old Rory Landon is the only child of divorced celebrity parents. After countless moves and many schools, Rory finally settles into a school called Ever After School. EAS is unique in that it allows its students to become real characters in real fairy tales. It seems like fun and games to Rory when she wields a sword and fights a dragon, but dangers emerge. Rory eventually learns of the dangers when viewing a wall listing the failed tales and the characters-in-training who have perished. Impulsivity thrives as ESA-ers continue to look forward to and train to become the star in the greatest, most classic tales. The action begins for Rory when her best friend Lena is chosen as lead character in the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. Rory, along with the arrogant Chase Turnleaf, are chosen as Lena’s companions. Together they must outsmart a few giants for some coins, a hen, and a harp. En route, more surprises spring up and Rory learns that she might be the one assigned to defeat the evil Snow Queen. Off to Glass Mountain the threesome must go! Plenty of action with even more twists and turns ensue. Along with the surprises come a lot of storyline fluff, an underdeveloped and overwhelming cast of characters, and many unfamiliar fairy tales. A light, fun read but best kept in the library as a choice rather than a whole-class required read. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Barrett, Judi. (2012). Animals should definitely not wear clothing. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 36pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3334-2. Illustrated by Ron Barrett.

Thanks to new illustrations, this board book, first published as a picture book in 1970, is an opportunity to discuss clothing and animals with children. Young children with canine pets, however, may challenge the title if their dogs wear winter jackets. (DLN) 

Bauer, Marion Dane. 2012. Little dog, lost. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 208pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3423-3. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.

Mark really wants a dog, but his mom says “no.” Buddy is a little dog whose family has moved away and given him to a new owner. When their paths cross, Mark and Buddy are each trying to fill the emptiness they feel and together they find new happiness. This touching story, written from the perspective of both Mark and Buddy, is appropriate for readers aged eight to twelve. (LB) 

Bickle, Laura. 2012. Hallowed ones. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 320pp. $8.99. ISBN978-0-547-85926-2.

Amish teen Katie is looking forward to Rumspringa, an Amish tradition which allows their teens freedom to the “outside” world to determine whether or not they wish to commit to the Amish lifestyle. However, a crashed helicopter in an abandoned field changes things. When trying to help crash victims, Katie gets a glimpse of something evil. Then Elijah, the boy Katie thinks she will marry, is missing his two brothers. It isn’t until Katie puts her life on the line to save a young man affected by the evil on the outside of her Holy residence that she finds some answers. Blood-thirsty zombie vampires are at large and quickly taking over. Some people appear to be protected, but why and for how long? These questions keep this book suspenseful, dark, and gritty from beginning to end. Students looking for a good action-packed horror read will be entertained. It’s bioterrorism at its finest. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA)

Black, Holly. (2013). Doll bones. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books) [email protected], (800-223-2336). 248 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-6398-1. Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Three twelve–year-old friends, two female and one male, are on a quest to bury the Queen, a doll with secrets of her own. The plot includes multiple conflicts between friends, individuals struggling with personal identities, people struggling against society, including caregivers and school norms. Doll bones is highly recommended for students, ages 10 – 14, and adults who would like insight into the characteristics and challenges of young adolescents.

Simon and Schuster reissued the complete series of The spiderwick chronicles (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, 2013). The five-book series includes: The field guide (2003), The seeing stone (2003), Lucinda’s secret (2003), The ironwood tree (2004), and The wrath of Mulgarath (2004). Readers, ages 6 – 12, (or readers who were 6 – 10 when the books were first published), will enjoy reading or rereading about the Grace siblings, Mallory, Jared, and Simon and their encounters with the mystical, magical world of Fairie.

Simon and Schuster (McElderry Books) also reissued Susan Cooper’s The dark is rising sequence of Over the sea, under stone (1965), The dark is rising (1973), Greenwitch (1974), The Grey king (1975), and Silver on the tree (1977). The books within the genre of fantasy are as relevant today as when first published, with recognizable themes, including good v. evil, familiar conflicts of person and self, others, and society, and distinctive settings as mood, place, and symbolism. (DLN) 

Bleiman, Andrew. (2013). ABC ZooBorns! A classic board book. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). 40pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7376-8. Pictures by Chris Eastland.

Infant animals born in a zoo are the main characters in this board book for very young children, 0 -3 years old. Each letter of the alphabet introduces a newborn animal children may find at a zoo, A = anteater, B = baboon, C=cheetah, but the letter Z does not represent the anticipated zebra. The pictures of the animals are cute and the background colors of the pages with the letters and print allow readers to focus on the letters and text. (DLN) 

Bleiman, Andrew, and Eastland, Chris. (2012). I love you, zoo borns! Ready to read level one. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4379-2. Pictures from multiple photographers.

As with all level one ready to read books, the words in I love you, zoo borns! are easy sight vocabulary or easy to sound out. The plot is consistent, predictable, and recognizable for children familiar with zoo animals. Even if children aged three to six have not visited a zoo, they will connect with the newborn baby panda, hippo, frogmouth, wombat, wildcats, tamarin, otter pups, sifaka lemu, and kangaroo because too they were once infants.

Another level one reader by Bleiman and Eastland (2012) with a similar plot, setting, and theme is Welcome to the world, zoo borns! As with I love you, zoo borns!, all of the photographs in the book were first published in Zooborns: The newest, cutest animals from the world’s zoos and aquariums. Zoo animals in Welcome to the world, zoo borns include: a clouded leopard, emperor tamarins, meerkats, a sea otter, an elephant, a koala, a spotted hyena, and mongooses. Hopefully all of the zoo newborn books will motivate readers to investigate the animals in greater detail through animal behavior and their natural habitats. (DLN) 

Bloom, Amy Beth. 2012. Little sweet potato. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-1804390-7. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.

Sweet Potato finds the world is a rather harsh and cruel place as he tries to find his way back home after a tractor throws him from his garden patch. Gardens of carrots, eggplants, pansies, Brussel’s sprouts, roses, and cucumbers tell Sweet Potato he is not welcome in their patches. Sweet Potato finally finds a home in the world’s largest garden with a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers who are friendly and enjoy all kinds of vegetation. Although a bit didactic, children ages 4 – 7 will understand the main message of the book. (DLN)
Boldt, Mike. (2013). 123 versus ABC. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210299-7.

Numbers and letters are at odds with each other at the beginning of this picture concept book for youngsters ages 4 – 8. At the end of the book, letters and numbers recognize the value of both letters and numbers and discover, through letters and numbers they are actually quite compatible. Vivid, colorful, and silly illustrations augment the argument between the letter “A” and the number, “1” in their attempts to convince readers one is more dominant than the other. (DLN) 

Bounton, Sandra. (2012). Moo, baa, la la la! Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 14 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5410-1 (1982).

Although the 2012 edition of this board book is larger than the 1982 version, the text has not changed and young children, ages 0 – 2, will enjoy the whimsical verses. The text includes onomatopoeia, such as, “A cow says moo. A sheep says baa.” But it also challenges children to think about sounds, especially when the pigs sing “la la la” and do not say “oink”. (DLN) 

Bradbury, Jennifer. (2013). A moment comes. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336) 278 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7876-3.

Set in India in 1947, three different young adults, Anupreet, a Sikh female servant, Margaret, the daughter of an English cartographer, and Tariq, a Muslim male translator with dreams of studying at Oxford, alternately tell their stories of the partition between Pakistan and India. The author’s notes and glossary will contribute to readers’, ages 12 and older, understanding of this violent historical episode. (DLN) 

Branford, Anna. 2012.Violet Mackerel’s brilliant plot. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum)[email protected] (800-223-2336). 112pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3585-8. Illustrated by Elanna Allen.

Violet sets her heart on buying a blue China bird. She tries many different ideas to earn money for her purchase. Although Violet has several plans, one turns out to be especially creative and she finds a new friend in the process. (GL) 

Breen, Steve. (2013). Pug and Doug. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-803703521-7

Pug and Doug are best friends with similarities and differences. Doug is more creative with an active imagination where Pug is more concrete. As with human friends, Pug and Doug have a series of misunderstandings but eventually reach the conclusion that communication is extremely important to prevent future misinterpretations. Despite didactic storyline, children ages 4 – 9 will be able to identify with the characters Pug and Doug. (DLN) 

Brockenbrough, Martha. 2012. Devine intervention. Scholastic Inc. (Arthur A. Levine Books). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-545-38213-7.

For a dead kid, 17-year-old Jerome Hancock is still kind of a hooligan. Caught in limbo between Heaven and Hell, Jerome is a guardian angel. His client is the very much alive Heidi Devine. Heidi is the complete antithesis of Jerome, and she isn’t amused by Jerome’s antics and voice that she has been hearing in her head since being a toddler. Jerome isn’t very serious about his job as guardian angel, but he knows this assignment will either ascend him into Heaven or descend him into Hell. He’s already teetering on the edge since he lost his Guardian Angel Handbook. Just when it appears Jerome could care less, Heidi drowns (or maybe not) in a nearby pond. Jerome will now go through some thoughtful steps to save and be saved. Since chapters alternate between Jerome’s and Heidi’s characters, and since the characters are polar opposites, this book would be an excellent tool for direct and indirect characterizations. Set students to work making their t-charts over both protagonists. Reasonable Commandments might also provide value in making this a religion class read. Recommended. Grades 9-12. (ADA) 

Brooks, Kevin. 2011. iBoy. Scholastic Inc. (The Chicken House). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 288pp. $1.99. ISBN978-0-545-31768-9.

While sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey is on his way to visit a friend, he is pummeled head-on with a cell phone thrown from a 30-story apartment building. After being hospitalized and recovered, Tom discovers Smartphone shrapnel has lodged itself into his brain, leaving him with unique phone, internet, and message abilities. When Tom learns that his pre-accident visit to his friend interrupted her brutal rape, Tom resolves to avenge her pain. All his cyber abilities place the blame at a local, and very large, gang ring which leaves Tom wondering if he should have left well-enough alone. An interesting sci-fi thriller read with an interesting concept. It’s a bit far-fetched and unbelievable, but it flows nicely and presents a thought-provoking moral dilemma. Reading this book as a class would open up some good classroom discussions. But mostly, it will show that anything can happen in fiction. Some students might be able to use this book to show them that no book idea is too farfetched or too quirky. Includes some short episodes of harsh language and brutality. Recommended. Grades 8-12 (ADA)

UnknownCarle, Eric. (2013). A house for Hermit Crab. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon) [email protected] (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $9.99 ISBN 978-1-4424-7224-2 (1987). CD read by Keith Nobbs.

The CD nicely complements this timeless picture storybook for people of all ages. Themes of settling into a new home, welcoming and appreciating the talents of new friends, and helping others are as important in 2013 as they were 1987. Young children can also develop their counting skills when introduced to Hermit Crab’s new friends. (DLN) 

Carle, Eric. (2013). Ready-to-read: Level one: Pancakes, pancakes! Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7275-4 (1990).

Although slightly different and not as engaging as the 1990 original book, this pastiche on The Little Red Hen, is appealing to early readers because of its logical, sequential plot, the characterization of Jack, and the compelling illustrations. The controlled vocabulary is somewhat stiff, but it is designed to fit the requirements of a level one reader. (DLN) 

Carle, Eric. (2013). Ready-to-read: Level one: Rooster is off to see the world. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7270-9 (1972).

Carle adapted Rooster’s off to see the world (1972) to conform to the standards of level one readers: easy sight words, words readers can sound out, recognizable topics, themes, and plots. In this case, students will recognize the cumulative tale of a rooster, joined by two cats, three frogs, four turtles, and five fish off on an adventure to explore the world only to realize, as did Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there is no place like home. (DLN) 

Carter, Scott William. 2012. Wooden bones. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], 800-223-2336. 160pp. ISBN978-1-4424-2751-8.

For those who wonder what happened to Pinocchio after he turned into a real boy, this is their read. Pino carries a gift. It is the gift to turn wooden carvings into real life. Not fully aware of this, Pino invests a lot of time, care, and detail into creating a wooden sculpture of his dead mother. As a gift to his father Gepetto, Pino brings the sculpture to life. When the town residents catch wind of Pino’s magical ability, they hunt him down to use him for their own selfish wants. To escape all the madness, Gepetto takes his son and seeks refuge elsewhere. This Pinocchio sequel doubles as a fast paced adventure and a book of lessons on morality and being true to oneself. Readers will enjoy traveling with the protagonists through dense forests and listening to voices in a cave. And, acts of a Queen’s betrayal will make any reader question who they listen to. Magic, familiarity, and a quest for truth will make for an excellent read and good discussions. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Clayton, Dallas. 2012. An awesome book! HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 64pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211468-6 (2008). 

Clayton, Dallas. 2013. An awesome book of love! HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 64pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211666-6.

Of the two books, the first, An awesome book, is one every legislator, parent, and teacher should share with children because it promotes dreaming and creativity, two attributes absent in the common core curriculum. Clayton’s second book is also worth reading to children, but sadly, too many youngsters, and people in general, cannot grasp the concept of “love.” (DLN) 

Cleary, Beverly. 2013. Just for me: My Ramona Quimby Journal. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected] (212-207-7000). 144pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-223049-2. Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers.

This journal highlights the adventures of the precocious character made famous in her book series. It encourages children to fill the pages with feelings, stories, and drawings of their own. Readers are reminded of Ramona’s first day of school, the embarrassing egg accident, her fear of the dark, and the tin can stilts. A “must have” for Ramona fans, the book also includes puzzles and stickers. (KKG) 

Clements, Andrew. 2011. Troublemaker. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 160pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-4932-9.

Clay Hensley is the troublemaking legend of his school. His latest antics during art class involve drawing a picture of the principal as a donkey. Clay’s older brother Mitch has just gotten out of jail and does not appreciate Clay bragging about his behavior. He is ready to guide Clay away from making serious mistakes. Even with a haircut and new clothes, Clay has a difficult time changing his reputation. Middle school age readers can relate to the misbehavior and bullying Andrew Clements tactfully uses in his story to teach an essential lesson. (KKG)
Unknown-2Codell, Esme Raji. 2012. Seed by seed: The legend and legacy of John “Appleseed” Chapman. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-145515-5. Illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins.

The life and legend of John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, are recounted in this book for upper elementary readers. Johnny Appleseed did more than simply plant apple seeds; he lived his life with a great respect for plants, animals and people. The tales in this book give the reader a deeper understanding of how his values shaped his actions and set an example for all. The content of this book is further enhanced by the rich illustrations and set the tone for this enlightening book. (LB) 

Cole, Henry. 2012. Unspoken: A story from the Underground Railroad. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press), scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-39997-5.

Set during the Civil War, this wordless picture book illustrates the compassion of a young girl towards a run-away slave. The characters are terrified of discovery, the girl secretly feeds the runaway, and the slave is hiding in the barn on the girl’s farm, hoping for an opportunity to continue moving north to freedom. As reflected in the illustrations, the consequences of discovery are severe. The graphite illustrations capture the despair of the runaway, and yet, the light of the lantern, the white face of the corn doll the slave leaves for the girl, and white stars at night reflect hope for a better future for the slave, the young girl, and humanity. (DLN) 

Creech, Sharon. (2013). The boy on the porch. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper) [email protected], (212-207-7000). 151 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-189235-6.

John and Marta, a young couple, find a young boy asleep on their porch with a note saying his name is Jacob and one day someone will come back for him. The plot, with multiple conflicts, is captivating, and the characters develop as the story unfolds. Themes of abandonment, love, loss, and hope prevail as John, Marta, and their beagle, cow, and goats learn to adore Jacob, and vice versa. Even though Jacob does not speak, he communicates through his endearing personality, music, and art with the animals and the people he learns to love. When Jacob’s father appears one day to take Jacob away, John, Marta and the animals are devastated, and throughout the rest of the story, continue to hope Jacob will return. Meanwhile, they open their hearts and home to children in need of temporary foster care. The book is stellar and ideal as a read aloud in second through fifth grade classrooms. Children, ages 8 – 12, and adults who crave a book that reflects positive aspects of humanity, such as love, faith, and hope, will find a literary friend in The boy on the porch. (DLN) 

Creech, Sharon. 2012. The great unexpected HarperCollins Publishers (Joanna Cotler Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 240pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-189232-5.

This book moves back and forth between two different storylines. One takes place in Blackbird Tree and focuses on the adventures of Naomi and Lizzie, two orphans who are best friends. The other focuses on the elderly Mrs. Kavanagh and her companion, Miss Pilpenny, who live in a stately manor on the coast of Ireland. This book features an eccentric cast of characters and surprises. This includes Finn, a mysterious boy who falls from a tree, a crooked bridge, and locked trunks. The author has created an imaginative world that upper elementary students will be drawn into as the two storylines are brought together. (LB) 

Crimes, Nikki. 2012. Halfway to perfect: A Dyamonde Daniel book. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 96pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25178-8. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

Dyamonde is worried about her friend Damaris. Lately it seems that Damaris is not eating, and just pushing food around on her plate. Dyamonde is determined to help Damaris see that she is perfect and convince her to eat healthy. The two friends both get a lesson in healthy eating when they learn of a classmate’s battle with diabetes. Elementary readers will relate to Dyamonde and Damaris as they struggle to fit in with their peers and learn how to do what is right. (LB) 

Crowder, Melanie. 2013. Parched. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected] (800-597-6127). 160pp. $15.99. 978-0-547-97651-8.

Sarel’s parents are murdered for it. Musa is held hostage until he finds it. What causes evil men to hunt these children down? The precious commodity of water.

This intriguing tale is too dark for younger children, but will have 12-14 year olds reading about the dowsing technique and rooting for the heroes. (KKG) 

Curtis, Jamie Lee. 2012. My brave year of firsts: Tries, sighs, and high fives. HarperCollins Publishers (Joanna Cotler Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191516-144155-4. Illustrated by Laura Cornell.

Frankie shares a number of “firsts” with her readers: first time riding a two-wheeler alone, first pet, first day of first grade, first friends, first time riding a pony, etc. She is truly blessed with multiple opportunities, but life is not perfect because Frankie also faces the consequences of stealing and getting caught telling a lie for the first time. However, 98% of the time she is courageous and
without fear. The story will definitely appeal to readers, ages 5 –7, with as many different “first” experiences as Frankie. (DLN) 

Daly, Niki. 2012. Next stop – Zanzibar road. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp., $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-68852-7.

Niki Daly introduced readers, ages 5 – 8, to Mama Jumbo, the main character, in Welcome to Zanzibar Road (2006). In this picture/chapter book, readers travel to the market and back home again with Mama Jumbo, who is lively, musical, loving, creative, and generous. The illustrations reflect the colors, patterns, and rhythm of an African market and home. Since children need more exposure to a variety of cultures and personalities, teachers and librarians should add Daly’s books to their collections, such as Pretty Salma, a Little Red Riding Hood story from Africa (2007), Happy birthday, Jamela (2006), A song for Jamela (2010), and The herd boy (2012). (DLN) 

David, Jackie. Ladybug girl and the bug squad. 2011. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 36pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3419-7. Illustrated by David Soman.

The Bug Squad members arrive at Lulu’s house in their costumes ready for fun. A day of adventures includes showing off their powers, sneaking past an army of giants, painting rocks, and spying on aliens. Young children will relate to the characters’ imaginative play. Colorful illustrations enhance this Ladybug Girl book from the bestselling series. (KKG) 

Dean, James. (2013). Pete the cat: The wheels on the bus. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-21987106

Pete the cat is behind the driving wheel of a school bus carrying kittens and one dog through town all day long. Fans of Pete the cat will enjoy reading along with this version of the nursery rhyme, The wheels on the bus. Music teachers may want to introduce the song, The wheels on the bus, with this story. (DLN) 

Dean, Kimberly, & Dean, James. (2013). Pete the cat and his magic sunglasses. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227556-1. Illustrated by James Dean.

Fans of Pete (ages 4 – 8) will empathize with his sad, despondent, blue mood at the beginning of the book. But Pete’s disposition changes when he puts on a pair of blue sunglasses from Grumpy Toad. The glasses exchange paws, first when Pete meets a sad squirrel, then a despondent turtle, followed by a moody alligator. Predictably, the glasses break, and Pete wonders about life without his cool blue sunglasses. Unfortunately, rather than encouraging readers to draw their own conclusions about the placebo effect of the “magic” glasses, a wise owl tells Pete he really does not need the glasses to see the world anew. Pete the cat fans will enjoy the story because of their favorite main character, but may be disappointed in the didactic old owl. (DLN) 

de la Cruz, Melissa, and Robert Venditti. 2013. Blue Bloods: The graphic novel. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). Disney.go.com. (877-378-6990).112pp. $19.99. 978-142313446-6. Illustrated by Alina Urusov.

Schuyler has just learned the truth. She is a blue-blood, a vampire. Her mother remains in a coma in the hospital unable to help her understand her immortality and her calling. Schuyler tries to solve the mystery of who murdered Aggie. This graphic novel set in New York City transports the reader to night clubs, mansions, and modeling agencies. The plot is left dangling for book two. This reads like a teenage soap opera and is not appropriate for elementary readers. (KKG) 

Delaney, Joseph. 2012. The last apprentice: Grimalkin the witch assassin. Harperollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 387pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-20207-7.

Witch assassin Grimalkin narrates her spooky adventures in this ninth book of The Last Apprentice series. The nasty, unsavory Fiend has been decapitated. Grimalkin has wrapped Fiend’s head in barbed wire, stuffed his mouth so he cannot talk, and crammed his head in a sack. Grimalkin kicks her heels all over the countryside running from Fiend’s evil minions who are looking to free him. Tension mounts when the kretch- a hybrid demon shewolf is fast on Grimalkin’s tail. Grimalkin quickly finds her seemingly unending powers draining, and decides she needs help. She reunites with her witch buddy Thorne, and aligns with several other allies along the way. Author Joseph Delaney is the lynch pin of horror stories, proving plenty of suspense, tension, and devastation in this novel. But Delaney also weaves a bit of compassion and friendship throughout. Established fans and new readers looking for a good horror book will not be disappointed. For teachers, the whole series offers many lessons in the elements of horror. Recommended. Grades 7-12 . (ADA) 

Delaney, Joseph. 2012. The last apprentice: Lure of the dead. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 432pp. $17.99. 978-0-06-202760-3. Illustrated by Patrick Arrasmith.

The tenth book of The Last Apprentice series finds Tom, the apprentice of a local Spook, taking a more active role in defending against darkness when the spook falls into danger. Tom struggles with the possibility of having to sacrifice his best friend Alice, while also struggling with the belief that his friend has the power to destroy the Fiend he opposes. The series’ characters are already established, so readers interested should start with Book 1. Fans of the series will not be disappointed by the scary encounters and the even scarier illustrations that begin each chapter. Recommended for horror fans grades 5-8. (MC) 

Delaney, Joseph. 2012. The last apprentice: Slither. HarperCollins Publishing (Greenwillow Books). [email protected] 212-207-7000. 416pp. $17.99. 978-0-06-219234-9.

The eleventh book of The Last Apprentice series takes a turn away from the adventures of Tom to focus on a different story about a bloodsucking creature named Slither. A farmer fulfills an oath by giving his eldest daughter, Nessa, to Slither, who intends to sell her as a slave to other monsters. Instead, an unlikely alliance forms between the girl and the monster, with hints that their story will tie into the main character Tom’s adventures. This book contains scary illustrations and therefore is only recommended to young readers with a taste for horror, grades 5-8. (MC) 

Dixon, Franklin W. 2013. Hardy boys adventures: Mystery of the phantom heist. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected] 800-223-2336. 160pp. $15.99. 978-1-4424-6586-2.

The Hardy Boys adventures continue in the second book in a series by Franklin W. Dixon. Frank and Joe Hardy, use their detective skills to solve the mystery of pranks occurring in Bayport. The mystery must be solved before the social event of the year, Lindsay Peyton’s 16th birthday party. Along the way, the brothers face back-stabbing friends and intrigue. The author mentions social media and trendy comments excessively. The change of narration and emphasis with each chapter may be confusing. The real mystery is how to hold the reader’s attention in this underdeveloped story. (KKG) 

Dodd, Emma. 2012. Foxy. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-201419-1.

Emily is worried about having the items she needs for her first day of school. Thankfully, her friend Foxy has a magical tale that eventually, after a series of comical failures, produces the items Emily needs, such as a pencil, pencil case, notebook, and eraser. Two of Emily’s concerns, however, are not assuaged by magic, but readers ages 3 – 5, will agree knowledge is learned and friends are earned, not acquired through any magical act. (DLN) 

Drummond, Ree. 2012. Charlie and the Christmas kitty. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-199657-3. Illustrated by Diane deGroat.

Charlie, the ranch beagle, continues to delight readers with his attitude and big heart. When a new kitty joins the family, Charlie is not a happy dog, but he eventually changes his mind and accepts the kitty. While the setting is on a ranch with a family preparing for Christmas, the story is secular, not religious, but with universal themes of tolerance and acceptance. The illustrations of Charlie reflect the characteristics of a beagle, however, deGroat may want to spend time with ranchers in their homes and observe their indoor wardrobes. (DLN) 

Dumont, Jean-Francois. (2013,). The chickens build a wall. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521). 36pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-5422-3 (2011).

As readers follow the plot of the story, they can join the barnyard animals in answering the question: Why are the chickens building a wall around the henhouse? Fears may be real, but sometimes they are foolish, fed by misinformation or just ignorance. But readers will need to decide if building a wall is a rational response to fear. First published in France in 2011, this story is highly recommended for readers of all ages. (DLN) 

Erdrich, Louise. 2012. Chickadee. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 208pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-057790-2.

Chickadee is the fourth book in the acclaimed Birchbark House historical fiction series about an Anishinabeg, or Ojibwe family. The plot, conflicts, settings (historical, antagonist, mood), themes, and
development of the main character, Chickadee, are accurate, credible, captivating and illuminating. (DLN) 

Fagan, Cary. 2012. The boy in the box. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 288pp. ISBN978-0-547-75268-6.

Sullivan Mintz is 11 years old and he loves to juggle. He also has a younger sister and parents who own and operate the Stardust Home for Old People. He likes his life, but he feels a void which can perhaps be filled with a hobby. Gradually Sullivan learns to juggle. When Master Melville’s Medicine Show comes to town, Sullivan jumps at the opportunity to show off his newfound skills. Trouble follows when Sullivan ultimately becomes part of a disappearing act. Sullivan soon finds himself amongst the kidnapped, while his parents think their son was the unfortunate victim of a drowning. Sullivan’s younger sister insists her big bro is still alive and forms a one-person search party. Little does Sullivan know that he has a big decision in the wake. Will he go back to his true biological family, or will he stay will the “family” he has grown to love? By today’s family standards, it’s easy to see Sullivan’s dilemma. This makes the book’s premise strong. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t tie up all loose ends and motivations. But there is enough to keep readers interested. Recommended. Grades 5-7. (ADA) 

Falwell, Cathryn. (2013). Rainbow stew. Lee & Low Books, [email protected], (212-779-4400). 32pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-1-60060-847-6.

Families that play together often stay together and this is true with Grandpa and his three grandchildren. However, because it is a rainy day, rather than literally play outside the children and their grandfather make a game of collecting a variety of colorful vegetables from the garden to make a hot stew. The plot, along with the warm colors and round, inviting shapes of the characters, and the rhyming text, contribute to a story to share with all children ages 3 – 8. (DLN) 

Feldman, Thea. 2012. The wonderful world of animals. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 64pp. $8.99. 978-142314940-8.

This nonfiction animal book classifies the animals on land, in the air, and in the water. Each category includes the animal’s picture on its home continent on a world map. Vivid photographs and fun facts will capture elementary age children’s attentions. Shame on Disney for sticking cartoon characters on each page to add insult to young minds naturally attracted to animal books. (KKG) 

Feldman, Thea. 2012. The wonderful world of nature. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 65pp. $8.99. 978-142314971-2.

Forests, flatlands, mountains, and bodies of water are highlighted in this nonfiction book of nature. Intriguing photos and facts will keep children busy searching for answers to the coldest, tallest, driest, and darkest kinds of places.

Helpful maps, glossary, and index complete this learning adventure. Disney cartoon characters were not necessary. (KKG) 

Fisher, Douglas, Nancy Frey, & Cristina Alfaro. (2013). The path to get there: A Common Core road map for higher student achievement across the disciplines. Teachers College Press/International Reading Association. [email protected], (800-575-6566). 176 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8077-5434-4.

Designed for content area teachers in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects such as engineering, technology, design, and business, this text articulates the relationship among disciplinary knowledge, the common core standards, and literacy. A variety of content area literacy strategies are presented for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects and numerous charts provide invaluable information about reading, writing, listening, and speaking standards in grades 6 – 12. (DLN) 

Fitzmaurice, Kathryn. 2012. A diamond in the desert. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 258 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01292-3.

According to the author, this story, set in the Gila River Japanese internment camp during WWII, is based on newspaper article and interviews with three baseball players. Although the setting is accurate on many levels, the era and place, setting as mood and antagonist, the style distracts from character development and the plot/conflicts of person v. person, person v. self, person v. nature, and person v. society because of the writing style. However, young adults ages 10 – 15 who enjoy historical fiction may still feel the devastating effects of the forced relocation of Japanese Americans in the United States during WWII. (DLN) 

Florence, Tyler. (2013). Tyler makes spaghetti! HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-204756-4. Illustrated by Craig Frazier.

Tyer and his dog Tofu love spaghetti with meatballs, and seize the opportunity to take a lesson from their favorite chef, Lorenzo, in his restaurant kitchen. Although it is unlikely that a chef, like Tyler Florence, would teach a young boy to make spaghetti and meatballs in his restaurant kitchen, it is highly probable adults would teach their young children how to bake and cook in their home kitchens. Step by step directions, Tyler’s spaghetti and meatball recipe, and descriptions of the some of the ingredients, will appeal to youngsters interested in the art and science of cooking. (DLN) 

Forward, Toby. 2012. Dragonborn. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 344pp. $16.99. ISBN978-1-59990-724-6.

Finally! Another good wizard fantasy book has hit the market. Twelve-year-old Sam is a wizard-in-training. When Master Flaxfield dies, Sam becomes lonely and withdrawn. Flaxfield’s former apprentices show up and start to question whether or not Sam was Flaxfield’s chosen one. A despondent Sam decides to leave the other wizards alone, so he grabs his pet dragon Starback and wanders away from his naysayers. Sam may not be fully trained or with clear direction, but other wizards want to take him and use him. This, along with a very convincing roffle dwarf, steers Sam into a magic school. Sam doesn’t like what he sees, but nonetheless he gets caught up in a wizard’s war that nearly kills him. Starback may be Sam’s only hope, but where is his pet dragon? A highly developed exposition delays the plot’s action at first. But once it gets going, it moves along. The stage is set for a sequel or two. Start students who enjoy reading magic on this pleasure ride right away. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Fox, Mem. 2013. Good night, sleep tight. Scholastic, Inc. (Orchard Books). www.scholastic.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-53370-6 (2012). Illustrated by Judy Horacek.

Unforgettable babysitters with nurturing experience will be delighted with this story embedded with familiar nursery rhymes. The babysitter is wise and caring and the children not only love the rhymes, but they adore Skinny Doug, and eventually, sleep tight. Children ages 3-5 will enjoy these bedtime stories the most. (DLN) 

Freedman, Russell. (2013). Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 96 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90378-1. Poems translated by Evans Chan.

Angel Island was an important station in the early part of the twentieth century for immigrants from Mexico, Russia, China, Korea, and Japan arriving via the Pacific Coast. Russell relates several immigrant stories about crowding dormitories enclosed by barbed wire and subjection to intense interrogation. The facts in this book, highly recommended for students in grades 4 – 7, are substantiated with source notes and a selected bibliography. (DLN) 

Galdone, Paul, adapter. 2012. Little Red Riding Hood: Adapted from the retelling by the Brothers Grimm. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books). [email protected], (800—597-6127). 40pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-66855-3 (1974).

Although the adaptation is credited to the Brothers Grimm, the historically accurate origin of the tale is from a woman, Dorothea Viehmann (Paradiz, 2005). The tale is a Galdone adaptation of a tale familiar to children and parents about the tragic consequences of disobedience. (DLN 

Galdone, Paul, reteller. 2012. The town mouse and the country mouse: A folk tale classic. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books). [email protected], (800—597-6127). 40pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-66854-3 (1971).

The 2012 re-issue of Galdone’s 1971 retelling of this classic Aesop fable remains an entertaining moral tale of the value of peace and quiet in the calm countryside versus the turmoil, fears, and dangers of a luxurious life in town. (DLN) 

George, Jean Craighead. (2013). A special gift for Grammy. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-053176-8. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher.

Written before Jean Craighead George (1919 -2012) died, A special gift for Grammy is a treasure for imaginative children, ages 4 – 8, who love collecting objects. In this story, young Hunter collects stones and leaves them in a pile on his grandmother’s porch. As he leaves, Grammy asks Hunter, “What do I do with a pile of stones?” and Hunter replies, “What everyone does with a pile of stones.” As readers begin thinking about how they would use a pile of stones, they discover there is no one best answer to Grammy’s question. (DLN) 

Goodhart, Pippa. (2012). You choose. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, [email protected], (858-468-0540). 32 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-076-0. Illustrated by Nick Sharratt.

Children, ages 2 – 9, can use their imaginations as they answers the questions on each page, e.g., “If you could go anywhere, where would you go?” Pictures on each page will help readers answer each question, but this is thankfully a book of possibilities and ever changing choices, not finite answers. (DLN)

Green, Tim. 2012. Unstoppable. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 352 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-208956-4.

Harrison is moved from an abusive foster environment to a loving, caring, and nurturing family. Mr. Kelly just happens to be a football coach of the junior high team, and Harrison, who is strong, big, and
fast, has always wanted to play the game. The plethora of conflicts, including bullying and person against self, will keep fans of Tim Green reading until the bitter and sweet end of the story. (DLN) 

Greenwood, Mark. (2012). Drummer boy of John John. Lee & Low Books. [email protected], (212-779-4400). 40pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-652-6. Illustrated by Frané Lessac.

The colorful illustrations vividly reflect the setting in this informational book about a Carnival in John John, Trinidad and the onomatopoeia of sound-words augment the plot. The focus of the story is the variety of bands practicing for the parade: chac-chac players shaking gourds, a tamboo bamboo group, a bottle-and-spoon orchestra, shango drummers, and finally, a steel-drum ensemble. The bands compete against each other, vying to win Roti King’s pancakes filled with herbs, spices, and chicken. The steel drum band is the invention of Winston, who accidentally discovers the various sounds of different tins and cans he finds in the junkyard. End notes explain the inspiration behind the story is the steel drum artist, Winston “Spree” Simon (1930-1976). The book is highly recommended for any music class because of the setting, the descriptions of the variety of instruments in Trinidad, and the origin of the steel band. (DLN) 

Golan, Avirama. (2013). Little Naomi, Little Chick. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (616-459-6540), 34pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5427-8 (2012, translated by Annette Appel). Illustrated by Raaya Karas.

Two little creatures, Naomi, a pre-schooler, and Little Chick, a young chicken, share similar, but very different, activities throughout the day. The routines of Naomi and Little Chick’s day are told on opposite pages, one in text and the other in illustrations. While Little Chick does not attend preschool, this chick shares the same types of activities as Naomi. For instance when she eats a lunch of meatballs, rice, a slice of tomato, a green pickle, and strawberries, Little Chick eats a worm. Youngsters can practice their observation skills as they read, comparing and contrasting the daily lives of Naomi and Little Chick. (DLN) 

Gownley, Jimmy. 2012. Amelia rules: Her permanent record. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected] (800-233-2336). 160pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8615-7. Illustrated by Jimmy Gownley.

Written in a comic book/graphic novel format, this book follows the daily life of an elven year-old girl, Amelia. Amelia Rules is an adventurous series from start to finish as she searches for her favorite missing aunt. Amelia and her friends create an exclusive made-up club called GASP which stands for Gathering of Awesome Super Pals. Amelia is on the cheer squad and also experiences her first crush in an awkward way. Since the author spent much of his youth reading comic books, his main purpose is to promote literacy through comic books. (GL) 

Green Light (Leveled) Readers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper) [email protected] (1-800-597-6127)

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes numerous leveled readers in the Green Light Readers series, and even though some are over a decade old, they are worth adding to classrooms with leveled reading programs. Characters are generally interesting and experience growth, plots/conflicts are identifiable and understandable to early readers, and the settings are recognizable.

Anderson, Peggy Perry. (2012, 2002). Level 1: Let’s clean up! 32 pp. $4.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-547-74562-6.
Anderson, Peggy Perry. (2012, 2007). Level 1: Joe on the go! 32 pp. $4.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-547-74563-3.
Baker, Keith. (2012,2006). Level 2: Cookies: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure. 24 pp. $4.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-547-74561-9.
Baker, Keith. (2012,2006). Level 2: Camping: A Mr. and Mrs. Green Adventure. 24 pp. $12.99, ISBN 978-0-547-74561-7
Egan, Tim. (2012). Level 3: Dodsworth in Rome. 48 pp. $4.99 (paper). ISBN 978-0-547-72210-8.
Yee, Wong Herbert. (2008). Level 3: A brand-new day with Mouse and Mole. 48 pp. $4.99 (paper). ISBN 978-0-547-72209-2.
Guest, Elissa Haden. (2012, 2002). Level 3: Iris and Walter: The sleepover. 44 pp. $5.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-547-74556-5. Illustrated by Christine Davenier.
Guest, Elissa Haden. (2012, 2000). Level 3: Iris and Walter. 44 pp. $5.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-547-74555-8. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. 

Hall, Michael. 2012. Cat tale. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191516-1.

More than a story, Cat tale challenges young and old readers alike to pay close attention to the words in the book. Michael Hall cleverly uses rhyming patterns and homonyms, homographs and homophones, to capture and maintain readers’ interest. As with Hall’s earlier books, My heart is like a zoo, and Perfect square, bold, vibrant illustrations complement the text. (DLN) 

Hansen, Doug. 2013. Aesop in California. Heyday [email protected] (510-549-3564). 48 pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59714-235-9.

The author chose animals whose habitats are in the Golden State. The fables are familiar but have a new twist and include a lesson just as Aesop always did. The first word of every fable begins with a capital letter enclosed in a rectangle. An animal is either climbing or peeking behind each letter. Children will enjoy finding the animals in the pictures that accompany each fable. The facts at the end of the book shared by the author are very interesting! (GL) 

Harland, Richard. 2012. Liberator. Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 487pp. $17.99. ISBN1-4424-2333-6.

This is the second book in the Worldshaker series and a Filthy revolt has now humbled the upper class Swanks. Now, Col Porpentine must work with Filthy Riff to turn the once-called Worldshaker juggernaut, a ship once ruled by the rich, into a social-class merged Liberator. The Liberator houses both the upper and lower classes resulting in a new society. Managing a new society is tough, but things get tougher when an old council member must be replaced. Lye, a Filthy, is chosen to replace the lost member and she makes her hatred for the Swanks obvious. It isn’t until the Liberator needs fuel that a Swank secret has to be kept. If the Swanks want the means to propel their ship, then the Swank-Filthy merge must be unknown. Things look promising until an ugly, metaphorical rat rears its head. A Filthy-Swank alliance causes problems for the Liberator. Battles are sure to happen. Who will win and why? The answer lies with a complete beginning to end reading of the book. A page-turning, dystopian adventure story that is sure to appeal to many readers. Recommended for those after reading the first book Worldshaker. Grades 7-12. (ADA)

Harvey, Alex, adapter. (2012). Olivia and the kite party. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight) [email protected] (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4650-2. Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante.

Since the wind is blowing, Olivia decides to have a kite party. But when her friends arrive, the wind has stopped blowing. Olivia, however, is resourceful, and creates a solution to their problem. Even young children who are not familiar with the TV series Olivia, will identify with the characters and easily follow the plot in this level one ready-to-read book. (DLN) 

Harvey, Alex, adapter. 2012. Olivia loves to read: Olivia goes camping. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 34pp. $11.99. 978-1-4424-5879-6. Illustrated by Jared Osterhold.

As with Olivia takes a trip, this level one story is based on a screenplay, Olivia goes camping, written by Patrick Resnick. Children familiar with the TV series on Nickelodeon will recognize the characters, plot, setting, and theme as Olivia goes camping with her family and her best friend, Francine. Once again, the text includes words that readers can sound out, easy sight words, a simple plot and dialogue, and a recognizable and familiar theme. Other books in the Level One series include: Olivia plants a garden (Emily Sallinger, adapter), Olivia and the snowy day (Farrah McDoogle, adapter), Olivia and her ducklings (Veera Hiranandani, adapter), and Olivia trains her cat (Sarah Albee, adapter). (DLN) 

Hathaway, Jill. 2012. Slide. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 250pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-207790-5.

Narcolepsy teems up with the paranormal in this young adult mystery suspense novel. Vee Bell has a unique ability to “slide” into someone else’s being. Touching objects with someone’s fingerprints is what sparks the movement out of herself and into somebody else. When Vee’s sister’s best friend becomes a murder victim, Vee finds herself at the murder scene with a bloody knife in her hand. Everybody, including the police, believe that the friend has committed suicide. Vee knows differently of course and sets off to solve the mystery herself. In the process, however, more unsavory events occur. Vee suspects her own boyfriend of the murder, another girls dies, and her dad is secretly harboring some damning evidence of his own. This book will cater to both students and teachers. Teachers can use it to teach suspense and mood, and students can read it to “kill” some idle time. It will not disappoint. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Heide, Florence Parry, and Roxanne Heide Pierce. 2013. Spotlight club mysteries: Mystery at blue ridge cemetery. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 116pp. $14.99. ISBN978-0-8075-3. Illustrated by Sophie Escabasse.

Cindy Temple, her brother Jay, and next door neighbor Dexter Tate call themselves the Spotlighters. Together they solve mysteries and this book’s mystery is a good one. The plot begins with the Spotlighters doing stone rubbings at the local cemetery. They are hoping to sell their art and make enough money to save their local museum from closing. When Cindy does a stone rubbing of Sarafina Winslow’s tombstone the true conflict starts. Once the cemetery business is over, Cindy heads back to town. Cindy takes a box from the curb when her neighbor Claudia throws it out. Eventually Cindy witnesses a sibling confrontation between Claudia and Claudia’s sister Carmen – the confrontation involving a locket. The locket goes missing, and the Spotlighters’ investigation begins. The pieces of this mystery’s puzzle starts to come together when Cindy discovers Serephina Winslow’s journal in the previously mentioned box left for garbage. The story is a bit disjointed and unrealistic at times. It jumps from stone rubbings to sibling rivalry in a matter of pages. And, the selling stone rubbings for $20 a piece is too convenient to be real life. A good book, nonetheless. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Henkes, Kevin. 2012. Penny and Her Doll HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-208199-5.

Gram sends Penny a new doll she loves immediately. However, as much as Penny loves her new doll with pink cheeks, pink bow, and pink dress with big buttons, she cannot think of a name for her. But Penny knows how to solve a problem. She has a “eureka” moment when she returns to the garden where she opened the box with the gift from Gram, and Penny names her beloved doll. Early readers, ages 4 – 7, will enjoy this chapter book and may even guess the name of the doll before Penny shares it with her family. (DLN) 

Hennesy, Scott. (2013). The cat’s baton is gone: A musical cat-tastrophe. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion Books). disney.go.com, (877-378-6990). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142314583-7). Concept and pictures by Joe Lanzisero.

Meowstro cannot find his beloved baton for the impending concert and asks several musicians if they know where it is. Although he does not find his baton, he is creative and conducts a purrfect performance. Although stereotypes are evident, in that Rico plays the guitar, the bagpiper is from Scotland, and others, the book is a purrfect addition to any music class because of the characters, instruments, informative glossary, vocabulary, and rhyming text. (DLN) 

Himmelman, John. (2013). Noisy frog sing-along. Dawn Publications, [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-340-6.

As a book about frogs, this is superb non-fiction for children, ages 3 – 6. However, the book is more than an informational text about different types of frogs. It is also a book about sounds, loud and soft, and a chorus of natural frog voices. Frogs mentioned in the book include spring peepers, green frogs, American toads, American bullfrogs, pickerel frogs, western chorus frogs, mink frogs, spotted salamanders, couch’s spadefoots, Pacific treefrogs, and green treefrogs. (DLN) 

Hilton, Nette. 2005, 2012. Wooly jumpers. Kane Miller. [email protected], (858-456-0540). 150pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-050-0.

Twin brothers, Mike and Jake, face new adventures when their family moves to a farm in Australia. To save them the work of mowing the field, the boys coax a neighbor’s sheep to eat on their side of the fence. The amusing consequences prove that living in the country will never be boring. A first person account from Mike alternates with the sheep’s point of view. This hilarious story is highly recommended and an ideal read aloud for ages 7 and up. (KKG) 

Hobbs, Will. (2013). Never say die. HarperCollins Publishers, [email protected], (212-207-7000). 224 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-170878-7.

Fifteen- year-old Nick is part Inuit and an accomplished hunter. He also has a half-brother whom he has never met. However, he accepts an invitation by this half-brother, a famous wildlife photographer and former Grand Canyon River guide, to raft the Firth River in search of caribou herds in migration. The brothers have many adventures, including a near-death encounter with the freezing Firth River and the infamous grolar, a huge, vicious beast rumored to be half polar bear and half grizzly. Highly recommended for young males ages 8 – 12. (DLN) 

Holland, L. Tam. (2013). The counterfeit family tree of Vee Crawford-Wong. Simon and Schuster (Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336) 368 pp. $17.99, ISBN 978-1-4424-1264-4.

This exceptional coming of age story for young adults, ages 12 and up, reveals Vee Crawford-Wong’s quest for the truth about his family history. Vee knows nothing about his grandparents other than his mother’s folks live in Texas, and his father’s parents live in China. Neither parent shares any part of their past with Vee. One of the main strengths of Holland’s novel is the development of the main characters: Vee, his parents, and one of his best friends, Madison. Readers also see changes in a handful of the minor characters as well, including Vee’s high school history teacher and girls’ basketball coach, and Steffe, one of the basketball players. Multiple issues/themes augment the development of the characters, including, maturation, sexuality, peer relationships, and emotional changes. Conflicts of person v. person, person v. self, and person v. society keep the plot moving. The various settings of the story contribute to the development of the main characters and the conflicts among the people in the novel. People are individuals, rather than stereotypes in the story, although Vee, his parents, and Madison discuss stereotypes and racism. Vee’s grandfather, who lives in China, is also portrayed honestly, without excessive sentimentality or demonetization of his past or present. (DLN) 

Hughes, Langston. (2013). Lullaby (for a black mother). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-36265-6 (1932). Illustrated by Sean Qualls.

Lullaby (for a black mother) first appeared in a collection of Langston Hughes’ (1902 – 1967) poems, The dream keeper and other poems (1932). In this lyrical verse, a mother sings a nighttime song about the stars and the moon to her baby. The collage, pencil, and acrylic illustrations convey the loving relationship between a mother and her child. (DLN) 

Jadoul, Emile. (2012). All by myself. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521), 26 pp. $14.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5411-7.

The plot is quite simple and recognizable to all parents and toddlers learning to use the toilet. Leon needs to go to the bathroom at least once every night and asks his mom, and sometimes his dad for help. Both parents are exhausted every morning for lack of sleep and decide to persuade Leon to go potty on his own at night, this is what “big boys” do. So Leon tries, succeeds, and is so proud of himself that he wakes up his parents to share his accomplishment. Caregivers trying to potty train their toddlers will definitely want to add this to the reading room, aka, bathroom library. (DLN) 

Jennings, Patrick. 2012. Invasion of the dognappers. Egmont, USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 208pp. $15.99. ISBN978-1-60684-287-4.

Something weird is happening in 10-year-old Logan’s neighborhood. Dogs are going missing. First one dog disappeared from a local grocery store, then one right out of a backyard, and then another out of a friend’s house. When Logan suspects an alien invasion, he decides he needs help. This sounds like a job for the Intergalactic Canine Rescue Unit (or just CRU to his friends who don’t believe the “alien” part). When Logan thinks a hairy, bearded man is the prime suspect, he uses his own very flatulent dog Bubba as bait. Just as Logan is about to interrogate an odd-looking man, Logan blacks out. He wakes up on a spaceship. Using the power of persuasion and the misfortunes of the neglected and abandoned Earth dogs, Logan and the aliens shake hands and tap noses after they strike a deal. Good detective work and a creative animal premise make this a decent read. Make it available to kids by placing a copy in the library. Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Joyce, William. (2012). The fantastic flying books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 56 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5702-7. Illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm.

Morris Lessmore loves everything about books, mainly the various stories and the words used to write them. His particular story has multiple conflicts, through settings, mood, and the antagonist. Seeing books as friends drives the theme reflecting the love and power of books. As with all books, Mr. Morris Lessmore has a beginning and an ending, but his book lives on. (DLN) 

Kadohata, Cynthia. (2013). The thing about luck. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 270 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1882-0. Illustrated by Julia Kuo.

Twelve-year-old Summer leaves with her grandparents, brother, and dog to join a harvest crew while her parents fly to Japan to care for elderly relatives. Summer is not thrilled to cook for the crew along with her grandmother, who suffers severe back pains, but she knows the mortgage must be paid, even though she does not quite understand the meaning of the word. However, she does understand mosquitoes and combining. The main characters, including the dog, Thunder, are vividly described, and the plot clips along with multiple conflicts between people, their selves, and society. Rural and urban, male and female readers ages 10 – 14 will be able to connect with at least one character, theme, or conflict in this endearing multi-generational, multi-dimensional story of true grit. (DLN) 

Kann, Victoria. (2013). Pinkalicious: The pinkamazing storybook collection. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 188 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-218800-7.

Fans of Pinkalicious will recognize six of Kann’s stories in this collection: The pinkerrific playmate (2011), Pinkalicious and the pink hat parade (2012), Pinkalicious: The princess of pink slumber party (2012), Pinkalicious: Flower girl (2013), Pinkalicious: Soccer star (2012), and Pinkalicious and the pinkatastic zoo day (2012). For new readers of the Pinkalicious books, pink IS the dominating color. While readers, ages 4 – 9, may enjoy the collection of Pinkalicious stories, the change in fonts from story to story may interfere with readability and fluency. (DLN) 

Keene, Carolyn. 2013. Nancy Drew diaries: Curse of the Arctic Star. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected] 800-223-2336. 208pp. $15.99. 978-1-4424-6610-4.

In this contemporary Nancy Drew mystery, the story is told in first person by Nancy herself. She is invited with her sidekicks to travel on an Alaskan cruise to help Becca Wright, the cruise director, determine who is sabotaging the maiden voyage. Even Nancy becomes the target of threats and strange accidents. In typical Nancy Drew style, many characters seem suspicious, and it is just a matter of time before Nancy can narrow it down. After 8-12 year olds discover the villain, they will want to read the sequel Strangers on a Train. (KKG) 

Kennedy, Caroline. 2013. Poems to learn by heart. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion Books). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 192pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-142310805-4. Illustrated by Jon J. Muth.

Caroline Kennedy’s affection for poetry is evident in her second children’s poetry book after the collection A Family of Poems. This compilation of a hundred poems covers the classics as well as recently written poems on a variety of delightful themes. Caroline stresses the value of memorization in the introduction and continues to share her poetry experiences at the beginning of each section. The poems are beautifully illustrated with watercolor paintings by Jon J. Muth. This resource should reside in every classroom and family bookshelf. Let the memory work begin! (KKG) 

Kennedy, Emma. 2011. Wilma Tenderfoot: the case of the putrid poison. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 366pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-8037-3541-5. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman.

In the previous book, 10-year-old orphan Wilma Tenderfoot has two dreams: to follow in the footsteps of her world’s greatest detective hero, Theodore P. Goodman, and to find her parents. This second book of the series Wilma finds herself working as an apprentice to her detective hero, Theodore. It’s not long before Wilma’s and Theodore’s first case together evolves. Several actors at the Valiant Vaudeville Theatre are turning up dead. Somewhere, somehow Theodore is able to tell the remaining cast that their dead cast mates were poisoned. Warnings are issued. The surviving cast must remain vigilant, refrain from eating unusual food, and report any strange vapors or peculiar odors. Theodore exits stage left, after advising that the Theatre close. Wilma accepts that hero and mentor Theodore has vanished, and works (along with her dog Pickles) to solve the case herself. The mystery solving might become less important when readers realize that Wilma hasn’t made huge strides in finding her real parents. But hey! Wilma has a home for herself and her dog, plus she gets to solve the case singlehandedly. A good, simple read where dancing seems to set the stage for this intriguing who-dun-it mystery. Recommended. Grades 3-8. (ADA) 

Kibuishi, Kazu. 2012. Amulet:Prince of the elves. Scholastic Inc. (Graphix) scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 208pp. $12.99 978-0-545-20889-5.

Book five in the Amulet series contains elements that graphic novel enthusiasts crave – dramatic illustrations, action-packed battles, fantasy, and time travel. The plot details and characters are difficult to follow without reading the first four books. Fans of this series will discover the secrets of the amulet and are left hanging at the suspenseful ending. (KKG) 

Kirwan, Wednesday. (2013). Baby loves to rock! Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 28 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5989-2.

Youngsters, ages 6 months – 3 years, will understand after reading this book that many different kinds of babies love to rock.. Except for the picture of a phonograph, the illustrations are also reflective of common tools in the musical world of rock, like headphones, microphones, speakers, and amplifiers. The baby rockers are animals, including a skunk, weasel, fox, opossum, frog, blue jay, hummingbird, owl, lamb, cool cat, bunny, squirrel, snake, goat, and a human baby. Although the phrases are not always rhythmical, the language is often humorous with puns and an extensive vocabulary. (DLN) 

Kraatz, Jeremy. 2012. The cloak society. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 288pp. $1.99. ISBN978-0-06-209547-3.

Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is growing stronger by the year. His parents are the two most feared supervillains of the Cloak Society – an elite supervillain organization with extraordinary powers – and his genetic makeup grants him supreme telekinetic powers. A head-on collision with these two factors will give Alex the ability to defeat the do-good, humanity-saving Rangers of Justice. Pfooey! But his new powers come with difficult choices: to take over the world by vanquishing the Rangers of Justice or to break away from his parents and side with the other team. Alex’s first mission makes him keenly aware that his choice may not be an easy one to make. That was when he saves, rather than destroys, female Ranger member Kirbie. Motivated to know why, Alex travels through the Gloom to find Kirbie. When he finds her, she turns out to be pretty cool. This leads to other encounters, each one becoming more and more dangerous. Once his disobedience is noticed, he butts heads with not only his parents but also others within his society. Eventually Alex begins questioning the motives of The Cloak Society. Although the good vs. evil theme is far from rare in works of fiction, and although the Avenger-like plot is familiar, this is one of very few comic book storylines written in prose fashion. A good, action-hero thrill ride. Students will enjoy reading it for something to do. Or, teachers can use it to take comic books to a whole new prose level. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Kroll, Steven. 2011. Super-dragon. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books). [email protected] , (914-332-8888). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5819-7. Illustrated by Douglas Holgate.

Drago, a young dragon, wants to enter the flying contest in two weeks. Unfortunately, he has not yet learned how to fly and his family insists he is too little. Night after night while his family sleeps, he takes flying lessons from a little bird. When the day of the contest arrives, Drago surprises everyone with his new flying skills and wins the contest. Young children will identify with with Drago and root for him as he perseveres in learning a new skill. The vibrant illustrations and simple text will keep readers engaged in the book as they cheer for Drago! (LB) 

Lacey, Josh. (2013). The Sultan’s tigers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected] , (800-225-3362). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-09645-5.

Both Island of thieves and The Sultan’s tigers (2012) are books for young adults, primarily males, who thrive on fast paced adventure stories. In this sequel to Island of thieves, Tom and his Uncle Harvey search for a rare jeweled tiger in India with the hope of selling it to a multimillionaire collector. Tom is as crafty and adventuresome as his uncle, but thankfully does not have Harvey’s greedy nature. As in Island of thieves, Tom is grounded when he returns home from his adventures in India, but this time his father grounds him for life or until he leaves the house, and of course, Tom finds a way to leave the house. Both books are highly recommended for readers 9 – 12 years old who thrive on action stories. (DLN) 

Lake, Nick. 2012. In darkness. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 341pp. $17.99. ISBN978-1-59990-743-7.

Author Nick Lake offers a brutal yet touching story that balances unpredictability and sympathy with human sentimentality and cruelty. Fifteen-year-old Shorty is convalescing is a Haitian hospital when an earthquake strikes. Trapped beneath collapsed walls and extensive rubble, Shorty can do nothing other than think about his past. His detailed experiences are horrific. Slum life and the related gang violence, the kidnapping of his twin sister, and the brutality behind his father’s death are among his thoughts. When running drugs and working for a corrupt government seems to be his path in life, a new leader may prove sympathy and peace is the way to go. A challenging read, even with education of Haitian governmental hardships. However, teachers shouldn’t steer clear of this book. Teaching students about some government’s brutality and neglect of its own people, along with a little background on slavery, religion, and revolt will make this a good powerful read about 18th century Haiti. It will take a good world history class and teacher to make sense out of the old adage, “History repeats itself.” Highly recommended. Grades 10-12+ (ADA) 

Lawlor, Joe. 2013. Bully.com. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected] (800-253-7521). 248 pp. $8. ISBN 978-0-8028-5413-1.

Most everyone has experienced bullying, but the newest bullying method is cyber-bullying. Jun Li finds himself accused of cyber-bullying and has to prove his innocence to avoid expulsion. The book is written by a middle school English teacher who definitely knows the “ins” and “outs” of middle school students. This book should be on the shelf of every middle school library. (GL) 

Lawrence, Caroline. 2012. The case of the deadly desperados. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 279pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-399-25633-2.

What would you do when you have cornered yourself in a mineshaft with a million dollar deed while trying to save your life from murderers Whittlin’ Walt and his gang of ruthless desperadoes? You do the only thing you can do. You write you story down. This is what 12 year old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton does. Half Sioux and half White, protagonist P.K gets home to find that his foster parents are dead or near dead. He grabs the medicine bag his foster mother instructed him to take and hightails it out of the Nevada Territory to corrupt Virginia City. The year is 1862 , the location is the wild, wild west, and the people are rowdy at best. While fleeing from bad guy Whittlin’ Walt, P.K. first runs into “soiled Dove” Belle Donne. At first, Belle seems helpful and uses her skirt to aid the fleeing P.K. Although he narrowly escapes, Pinky has a tough time trusting anybody after Belle has stolen his land deed worth millions. He later, with the help of a Celestial, learns to disguise himself and cardsharp Jace teaches him a few people skills. It isn’t until P.K. runs into newspaperman Sam Clemens that he begins to trust someone. After surviving dangerous ordeal after dangerous ordeal, P.K. ends up backing himself into a corner. Hence, P.K.’s written story. Author Lawrence introduces readers to a sometimes raunchy, yet exciting Wild West narrative. This is a well-oiled machine, smoothly moving through the five stages of plot and through elements of fiction such as suspense and flashback. Literature teachers are encouraged to teach this book in class, but with caution. There is talk of scalping, prostitution, and other crude vernacular. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Lee, Anne. (2012). When you are camping. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. [email protected], (858-456-0540), 32 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-064-7.

Hazel and Tilly love to camp, whether it is sunny or rainy. The watercolor illustrations capture the essence of the girls’ emotions, the weather, and all of the camping experiences. The girls enjoy watching bugs, rabbits, and deer; chasing moths, swimming in the river, and hiking. Not all children camp nor enjoy the experience, but the book could serve as a reading before writing assignment answering the question “What do you like to do in your spare time?” (DLN) 

Leeds, Constance. (2012). The unfortunate son. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 302pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01398-2.

Born to a brutal father who cannot tolerate abnormalities of any kind, Luc, who has only one ear, is spirited away at birth and raised by a cruel surrogate dad. Male and female young adults ages 10 – 14 will find mystery, adventure, geography, history, and a bit of romance embedded in the plot. Set in 16th century France and Tunisia, readers will need patience to discover the true identities of the main characters. (DLN) 

Levis, Caron. (2012). Stuck with the Blooz. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-74560-2. Illustrated by Jon Davis.

When stuck with the Blooz, a very sad, unhappy, monster, a young girl tries different activities to change her mood. Finally, Blooz flies away and the girl is able to feel happy again and see the brightness of the day. Used in moderation, the book is suitable for bibliotherapy, talking with children, ages 5 – 8, about the causes and solutions of gloom and despair. (DLN) 

Lewis, Gill. 2012. One white dolphin. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 352pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1447-1.

Life in a small coastal village is not always easy for Kara Wood. She misses her mother who disappeared a year ago, she is bullied at school, and financial hardships may force her father to sell their family’s boat. She is also upset that local fishermen may soon begin dredging in order to make more money, a process that will ruin the reef. When Kara discovers an albino dolphin calf which washed ashore after becoming tangled in fishing nets she is determined to help save it and the reef. Upper elementary and middle school readers will connect with Kara and her touching story. (LB) 

Lewman, David. 2012. Club CSI: The case of the disappearing dogs. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 160pp. $5.99. 978-1-4424-4671-7.

This mystery has Club CSI working to solve the case of Hannah’s missing dog. With their science teacher’s help, Hannah, Corey, and Ben examine clues at the scene of the crime. The children even report their findings to the police and ask for assistance. David Lewman, author of SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron, has created a detective series pleasing to elementary age readers. Technical vocabulary and evidence collecting challenge young minds in forensic science. (KKG) 

Linder, Brooke. (2009). Yo Gabba Gabba! Dance with Brobee! Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 12 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5445-3.

Brobee, a character in the Nick Jr. television cartoon show Yo Gabba Gabba, loves to dance with his friends, Toodee, Foofa, Muno, and Plex. As children read this board book, they will eventually see the names of each dance match the names and attributes of each character in the story. (DLN) 

Loftin, Nikki. 2012. The sinister sweetness of Splendid Academy. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (Razorbill). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 282pp. $16.99. ISBN978-1-59514-508-6.

No! This isn’t based on a true story, which should come as a relief to all its readers. Lorelei Robinson, 11, is completely enamored with the new school that just popped up into her neighborhood overnight. On the inside, kids are allowed to run in the halls, the teachers are nice and overly accommodating, and the food is absolutely delicious and plentiful. On the outside is the biggest, most beautiful playground imaginable. All of this seems like a dream come true to all the kids in the neighborhood, including Lorelei. It’s not long, though, before Lorelei smells the smell of something smelly. There is nothing believable about Lorelei’s theory that the school personnel is trying to fatten its kids up, feasting on their tasty bodies, and grinding up their bones to be added as playground bedrock. It looks like Lorelei and her classmate Andrew will have to solve this problem on their own. There is very little on-stage violence, but this modern day fairy tale displays the right amount of creepiness and magic to parallel today’s horror flicks. Use this book in class to teach students how to take classic literature and shape and mold it into contemporary times. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Long, Kathy. (2013). Christopher sat up straight in bed. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. [email protected], (800-253-7521). 40 pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5359-2. Illustrated by Patricia Cantor.

The plot, setting, and characterization are the most dominant elements in this picture story book for readers 4 – 8. However, grandparents may also enjoy reading this book. When Christopher is suddenly awakened by a loud, unfamiliar strange sound, he bravely investigates the source. It is not a trumpeting elephant, or a monster under his bed, or a bear in his closet, or a stomping dinosaur, or a mountain lion, but a loud sound coming from his grandparents’ bedroom. Children will enjoy predicting and investigating the cause of the noise – a snoring grandpa– along with Christopher. (DLN) 

Lorentz, Dayna. 2012. No safety in numbers. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (Dial Books) [email protected], (212-366-2000). 263pp. $17.99. 978-0-8037-3873-7.

This tale of a mysterious bomb that puts an entire mall under quarantine is told from the perspective of four different teenagers. Over the seven days the book takes place, panic, riots, food shortage and sickness sweep the mall, but underneath this crisis is a story about normal teenagers trying to figure out where they fit in, who their friends are, and how others view them. Those looking for a conclusion to the mystery will be disappointed; by the end of the story the planter of the bomb has yet to be determined, which suggests there will be more in this series. For readers grades 8-12. (MC) 

Lubar, David. 2013. Looniverse: meltdown madness. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 90pp. $4.99. ISBN9978—0-545-49604-9..

Everybody loves chocolate, but it may not be as marketable when melted and molded into an ugly, nondescript lump. It looks like poor Ed is going to have to come up with a new plan to make the money needed for his team’s soccer uniforms. With each money-making scheme Ed thinks up, a tragedy follows – broken windows and wasted oranges for example. Ed owes his strange-causing coin much thanks. Without it, he couldn’t have cooled things down without warming things up! The words are simple, the plot is energetic, and the resolution is creative. Use this book to teach a few good vocabulary lessons, or use it to teach how fiction’s resolution ties up all loose ends. Recommended. Grades K-3. (ADA) 

Lubar, David. 2013. Looniverse: stranger things. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 90pp. $4.99. ISBN978-0-545-49602-5. Illustrated by Matt Matt Loveridge.

It’s a normal Friday afternoon when Ed, a normal third grader, stumbles across a coin. The coin is abnormal in that each side is labeled with two words: “Strange, Stranger.” Upon taking the coin to Mr. Sage’s store The Silver Center, Ed learns that he must give the coin to the “stranger” before the two words fade away, or else the world will lose its strangeness. A bit miffed by Mr. Sage’s answer, Ed leaves to ponder who the stranger may be. It takes a series of strange events such as parading mice, uplifting air, and a derailing train before Ed realizes there are no coincidences involved. Equip with illustrations and a plausible theme, young readers can benefit from this fantasy read. Recommended. Grades K-3. (ADA) 

Lyons, Kelly Starling. 2012. Hope’s gift. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). inside [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16001-1. Illustrated by Don Tate.

This book of historical fiction takes place during the Civil War. The book makes the issue of slavery come alive by placing the reader in the role of a slave. The illustrations definitely pull at one’s heartstrings! Father leaves for war on Christmas night; the children miss him and you feel their pain. The shell that Papa left them reminds them of freedom. Swoosh! Swoosh! That is the sound of freedom ringing in their ears! (GL) 

MacLachlan, Patricia and Emily MacLachlan Charest. (2013). Cat talk. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000), 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-027978-3. Illustrated by Barry Moser.

Using poetic voices, cats share their stories which vary as much as the lives of their humans. The cats, superbly illustrated by Barry Moser, include Tough Tom, Lily, Tuck, Princess Sheba Darling, Alice, Minnie, Henry, Bett (and her kittens), Sylvie, Romeo, Peony, Simon, and Eddie. The cats, like humans, have distinct personalities and behaviors. This includes a cat whose best friend is a white mouse, though unusual and slightly unbelievable, it’s true in Lily’s world. (DLN) 

MacLachlan, Patricia. (2013). The truth of me. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-199859-1.

Robert, also known as Robbie, also known as Kiddo, and his dog Ellie, also known as Eleanor, spend summers with his unique, charming, and endearing grandmother while his musician parents tour with their string quartet. Throughout the summer and after a series of fortunate and unfortunate experiences, Robert discovers something about his gifts and learns to understand one reason for his mother’s emotional detachment. Readers, ages 6 – 10, who are developing their personal talents and gifts will connect with Robbie as he comes of age in this story (DLN). 

MacLachlan, Patricia. 2011. Waiting for magic. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum) [email protected] (800-223-2336). 176pp. 5.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-2746-4. Illustrated by Amy June Bates.

When a book has a dog on the cover, the reader anticipates a good story. When there are four dogs on the cover, the story is bound to be wonderful. Newberry winning author, Patricia MacLachlan, does not disappoint as she deals with an all too familiar topic of parents separating. MacLachlan uses dogs to fill the void for William, Elinor, and their mother after Papa leaves. Dogs love unconditionally. Through their presence this family is able to cope with hard times and find the magic. A perfect read for ages 8-12. (KKG)\ 

MacLachlan, Patricia. 2013. White fur flying. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 128 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2171-4.

White Fur Flying is another winner for this well-known author. Zoe’s mother is in the dog-rescuing business. She travels great distances to rescue Great Pyrenees and then finds loving homes for them. Zoe’s father is a vet and her sister, Alice, is a writer and a thinker. Phillip moves into the neighborhood with his aunt and uncle when his parents are having some problems and gets acquainted with his new neighbors and their dogs. Zoe turns out to be a hero and rescues Phillip when she notices some white fur flying. This is a heartwarming book about how important animals, especially dogs, can be to humans. (GL) 

Mafi, Tahereh. 2011. Shatter me. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 338pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-208548-1.

Juliette, 17, is a hot commodity. Literally. Her touch is enough to electrocute someone to death. After some sort of environmental devastation, she is ripped away from her home and thrown into an asylum. Her cozy cell is empty until the new government, the Reestablishment, places the hunky soldier Adam with her. At first, Adam seems to be a ploy for Reestablishment commander Warren to gain Juliette’s trust. Warren’s power mongering ways combined with Juliette’s electric “shattering” touch could prove devastating to the rest the newly reforming society. Anticipating this, Adam goes against his commander’s (and regime’s) order and steels Juliette away and brings her to an institution where there are others with extraordinary powers. This great dystopian adventure novel will “zap” its readers from one page to the next with amazing speed. Give this to students to read for pleasure, or assign it to read for class – it will keep them interested in the many dystopian thrillers out there. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12 (ADA)

Mahy, Margaret. (2012). The man from the land of Fandango. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books), [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-81988-4. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

The man from Fandango is whimsical, musical, colorful, lyrical, and rhythmical. He also dances, but visits only once every 500 years. The story, intended for young children ages 4 – 8, and perhaps art, music, and dance teachers, includes invented words, such as jongles, jangles, fandandical, and tongle, emphasizing the humor and movement of a magical man from the fantastical land of Fandango. (DLN) 

Mandanna, Sangu. The lost girl. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 432pp. $17.99. 978-0-06-208231-2.

Eve is an echo, a being created to replace a real human if that human ever dies. Because of this, she has no life of her own and is regarded as an abomination by many. She attempts to take hold of her destiny, however, when she is sent from England to India to replace her human, Amarra, although this is much more dangerous than it seems. With a fast pace, realistic characters, a believable romance, and some very fitting allusions to Frankenstein, this sci-fi novel is an entertaining and thought-provoking read for grades 9-12. (MC) 

Mari, Iela, and Enzo Mari. (1969, 2013). The apple and the butterfly. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Price Stern Sloan). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 48 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-8431-7230-0 (1969).

Originally published in Italy as La mela e la farfalla (1969), then in France as La pomme et le papillon (2004), the book thankfully caught the attention of Penguin Group USA .The wordless picture book should be part of every school library because it challenges students to make predictions and hypothesize about the circle of life, specifically with reference to the seasonal relationships between the butterfly and the apple. (DLN) 

McAuley, Amy. 2012. Violins of autumn. Bloomsbury Publishing Inc. (Walker Publishing). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 336 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2299-7.

Inspired by Sonya Butt, a WWII Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent for the British, McAuley presents a suspenseful book about espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance in occupied France. Adele, alias for Betty, is a young woman recruited by the British into the SOE for a variety of reasons, including the ability to communicate fluently in French. The plot, conflicts, themes, characterizations, and settings are credible because of the actual service of several women in the SOE during WWII, including Cecily Lefort, Diana Rowden, Yolande Beekman, Violette Szabo, Andreé Borrel, Christine Granville, Virginia Hall, Noor Inayat Khan, Ann-Marie Walters, and Sonya Butt. Unfortunately, McAuley did not include brief biographies or list references of any of the SOE women. (DLN) 

Mc.Neil, Gretchen. Possess. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000) 379pp. ISBN978-0-06-200671-6.

Two thumbs up to this riveting, supernatural fantasy. The mood is typical for a horror story, taking place in a foggy San Francisco. It’s the tone that sets the real page-turning pace! Bridget Lui is just 15 years old. Her psychiatrist father was murdered and it’s a cold case. How much her father’s murder plays in her innate ability to communicate with and banish demons remains a mystery. Her “communication” talents land Bridget an apprenticeship with Monsignor Renault. As her knowledge strengthens, her abilities become more profound. It is in a doll shop, with its contents smashing and bashing around her, that she is upgraded to carrying out exorcisms. While trying to sniff out creepy demons and villainous priests, Bridget must also keep her 8-year-old brother safe and solve friend/boyfriend issues. Eventually Bridget learns she comes from a line of rouge, unrighteous angels. This begs the question: Does Bridget try to side with or to suppress the demon king? With all the darkness, secrets, and deceit Bridget may end up going in the wrong direction. Demonic overtones, sneaky priests, andd talks of hell/possessions might keep the book from being taught in the conservative classroom. If allowed, put a copy in the library. Rumors of its high interest and entertainment will circulate rapidly. Recommended. Grades 8-12. (ADA) 

Meadows, Michelle. 2013. Piggies in pajamas. Simon and Schuster (Books for Young Readers) [email protected] (800-233-2336). 32 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-4982-4. Illustrated by Ard Hoyt.

What happens when Mama Piggy is on the phone? You can bet that the book is a delightful episode of how much fun can happen when mother is occupied. The five little piggies do not get ready for bed as they were told. The illustrations help tell the story and . . . there is a surprise ending as well! (GL) 

Meddaugh, Susan (based on the characters by). 2012. Martha Speaks: Canine comics. Six daring doggy adventures. Harcourt Publishing Company. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 108pp. $9.99. ISBN978-0-547-86784-7.

After numerous Martha Speaks chapter books, why not a comic book? Stories move from a computer dilemma, thieving strays in a butcher shop, and tensions with robotics. There is also a good lesson in propaganda, along with a few more good lessons. This hardcover comic book includes six “Martha” adventures that are all based on the Martha Speaks television episodes. This is an excellent, full-color comic book that begins with a picture introducing the cast and ends with helpful hints for kids to draw their own comics. Each comic comes with an intelligible problem and resolution. Teachers should feel free to use it as so. Recommended. Grades K-3 (ADA) 

Meyer, Carolyn. 2012. The wild queen: The days and nights of Mary, queen of Scots. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt), [email protected], (800-597-6127). 430pp. $16.99. ISBN 9978-0-15-206188-3.

As she waits for her imminent beheading in 1587, Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland, recalls her life. Mary tells her story through the direct, often abrupt narrative voice of the first person making it easy for readers to see the queen’s feelings and thoughts. However, readers who are uncomfortable with the single point of view presented by Mary may want to read informational books about her or Elizabeth I, the queen of England who issued Mary Stuart’s execution. (DLN) 

Miché, Mary. 2012. Nature’s patchwork quilt: understanding habitats. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). $8.95, 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-58469-170-9. Illustrated by Consie Powell.

The illustrations are the most phenomenal aspect of this picture book about habitats. As suggested by the title, the colorful illustrations mirror a patchwork quilt with multiple geometric shapes. The pictures of plants and animals living in specific habitats include: forest, desert, prairie, ocean, seashore, lakes/ponds, arctic/high mountains, rainforest, houses/towns/cities, and ranches/farms. One section of the illustrative quilt of habitats includes sketches of scientists who work with different environments, such as Margaret Wentworth Owings, Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai, Jacques yves Coustearu, John Muir, Margaret Murie, et al. This is an excellent resource for youngsters, ages 5 – 10, interested in the interdependent nature of life. (DLN) 

Minor, Florence. (2013). If you were a panda bear. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195090-2. Illustrated by Wendell Minor.

In this early story book, readers ages 4 – 8 are introduced to eight different bears: the giant panda, sloth, polar bear, American black bear, moon bear or Asiatic black bear, sun bear, grizzly, and the spectacled or Andean bear. The illustrations capture the distinct physical features of each type of bear, and the end notes expand on the bear facts in the narrative. Teachers may want to read this book or If you were a penguin to motivate students to compose an “If I were….” essay, book, or poem. (DLN) 

Montgomery, Sy. 2012. Temple Grandin: How the girl who loved cows embraced autism and changed the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 148 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-44315-7/

Sy Montgomery tells the story of Temple Grandin, internationally known for her work with animals, especially cows. She is also known for using her unique skills and talents to overcome multiple challenges associated with her learning disability. The story of Temple Grandin’s life is informative, inspiring, and almost incredible given her accomplishments in spite of the forces against her. (DLN) 

Moore, Clement C. (2013, 1822). The night before Christmas. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-821-0115). 26pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-936140-06-0. Illustrated by Eric Puybaret.
Vocal and Guitar by Noel Paul Stookey: The Night before Christmas
Vocals by Peter, Paul, and Mary: Christmas Eve with Mary and A’ Soalin

The legendary poem, The night before Christmas, is an USAmerican classic, read and/or sung throughout the Christmas season. While the illustrations do not always match the text/lyrics, for example, Mama is not wearing a kerchief, the pictures convey the mystical, magical, wonderment of a fantastical holiday character, Santa Claus. (DLN) 

Moore, Kay. 2012. The great bicycle experiment: The army’s historic black bicycle corps, 1896-97. Mountain Press Publishing Co. [email protected], (800-234-5308). 72pp. $12.00. ISBN 978-0-87842-593-8.

This nonfiction account reveals how black soldiers journeyed from Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri on bicycles. This experiment was physically demanding as riders faced bad weather, rough roads, mosquitoes, and long daily distances. Archive photographs and captions add important details to this chapter of history and its heroes. Grade 6 and up. (KKG) 

Moreillon, Judi. (2013). Ready and waiting for you. William B. Eerdmans Publishing (Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521), 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-5355-4. Illustrated by Catherine Stock.

The bus driver, crossing guards, principal, school secretary, attendance clerk, school nurse, librarian, gym teacher, art teacher, music teacher, cafeteria cooks, food workers, playground monitors, custodians, parent volunteers, students, and classroom teachers, welcome all new students to school with a memorable phrase “We’re ready and waiting for you.” The illustrations complement the text with vibrant colors, and every other page includes a flap which, when opened, presents a panoramic view of part of the school. This is an excellent choice for children ages 4 – 7 who want reassurance that school is a welcoming environment for everyone. (DLN) 

Moritz, Dianne. 2013. 1, 2, 3 …. by the sea: A counting book. Kane Miller, [email protected], (858-456-0540). 36 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-935279-94-5. Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell.

The first part of the first sentence is grammatically incorrect and distracting, but the rest of this counting book for children ages 2 – 5, is charming, with rhyming text and lively, colorful, illustrations. In addition to the numbers, 1 – 10, the colors red, green, and blue are used to describe three towels. Other objects clearly illustrated are bikes (biking), umbrellas, jellyfish, waves (crashing and splashing), seagulls (fly, dive, squawk, flock), and surfers. The reference to clouds in “heaven” is less precise than “sky,” but readers may forgive the abstraction. (DLN) 

Morpurgo, Michael. 2012. Kaspar: the Titanic cat. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper) [email protected], (212-207-7000). 199pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-06-200618-9. Illustrated by Michael Foreman.

After the death of Countess Kandinsky, 14-year-old-Johnny Trott cares for her cat Kaspar. There are a few problems, however. Johnny works at the ritzy Savoy Hotel in Britain, and no pets are allowed. Johnny must always be vigilant of his nasty colleague Mrs. Blaise. Harboring Kasper is easy at first, but the exuberant Lizziebeth, daughter of the wealthy Stanton family, enters the picture. She’s good at keeping secrets, but not so good keeping herself under control. Eventually Lizziebeth puts her life at risk and Johnny doesn’t hesitate to save her. As a reward, Johnny gets $100 from the Stantons for his successful efforts. Nasty Mrs. Blaise knows of Johnny’s sudden windfall while simultaneously noticing his cat. Johnny gives up his cash reward to keep Kaspar a secret. To avoid more problems, Johnny gives Kaspar to the Stantons before they board the Titanic back to America. On a whim, Johnny hops the ship and becomes a stowaway. Let the adventures begin. Johnny works in an engine room, helps the Stantons when the Titanic sinks, gets adopted, goes to war, and acquires a new friend. Teachers could use this as a supplement to any Titanic units. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Morrell, Ernest, Rudy Dueñas, Veronica Garcia, and Jorge López. (2013). Critical media pedagogy: Teaching for achievement in city schools (Language and Literacy Series). Teachers College Press. [email protected], (800-575-6566). 192 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-807705438-2.

The authors suggest media education should be included in the K – 12 classrooms, but more precisely, they advocate for critical media education. Critical media is knowledge of the role media play in forming social thought and behavior. The authors state we want students to know that media has the potential to reinforce stereotypes and biases, thus promoting negative attitudes towards the self and others. Critical media pedagogy, according to the authors, is explicit instruction in critical media and the skills students need to “powerfully consume and produce new media” (p.3). Drawing on Locke, Rousseau, Dewey, and Freire, the authors present theories and examples of literacy, civic engagement, and media production in life and classrooms. The text is highly recommended for teachers and administrators who believe in the enlightenment and empowerment of all students. (DLN) 

Morris, Gerald. 2012. The knights’ tales: The adventures of Sir Balin the ill-fated. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 112pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-68085-9. Illustrated by Aaron Renier.

In this middle-reader book, the fourth in the Knights’ Tales series, chivalry, adventure, and an ill-fated prophecy drive the plot and contribute to multiple conflicts. However, when Sir Balin begins to doubt an old woman’s prophecy of a life of misfortune, he also begins to change his attitudes and behaviors from impending doom to good fortune. (DLN). 

Myklusch, Matt. (2013). The Jack Blank collection. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 1,472pp. $23.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-8718-5.

The three books in this collection were previously published individually by Simon & Schuster: The accidental hero (2010), The secret war (2011), and The end of infinity (2012). Jack Blank, the main character, will appeal to science fiction readers ages 8 – 12 because of his unique powers and terrifying challenges of good v. evil, including his internal turmoil. (DLN) 

Nelson, Steve and Jack Rollins. (2013,1950). Frosty the snowman. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-821-0115). 28pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-62354-012-8 (1950).
Illustrated by Wade Zahares. Performed by Kenny Loggins.

The book and the CD, with three songs by Kenny Loggins, Frosty the snowman, Cyndi, and Fishin’ blues, are winter wonderland classics. Illustrations by Wade Zahares capture the imagination of the children and magical powers of the hat that brings Frosty to life. This would be an excellent resource for teachers with students learning English as another language, pre-K -3 music teachers, and classroom teachers with a room full of children who cannot go out for recess because of the cold and snow. (DLN) 

Neuman, Susan B., and Tanya S Wright. (2013). All about words: Increasing vocabulary in the common core classroom, Pre K-2. Teachers College Press. [email protected], (800-575-6566). 176 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-8077-5444-3.

With the advent of the Common Core Standards, teachers may struggle with finding strategies and books to promote language development among their students. Neuman and Wright present a series of ideas appropriate for common core classrooms in grades K – 2. Errors appear in some of their text sets. For instance, the engine in The little engine that could (1930) is female and not male and the original publication date is not 2007; and The ant and the grasshopper by Poole is non-fiction and not fiction. However, the suggestions for developing vocabulary among children in grades K – 2, are fundamentally sound, based on research and/or best practice. (DLN) 

Night, P.J. 2012. Creepover: It’s all downhill from here. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-233-2336). 160pp. $5.99. ISBN978-1-4424-5285-5.

Tensions mount in this 10th book in the series, rated level 4 on the Creep-O-Meter. Maggie Kim’s parents have the opportunity to fulfill their long-time dream to own and operate a lodge. Opportunity knocks when the last Wharton family member dies and the Wharton Mansion goes up for sale. The Kim parents are excited about turning the mansion into a ski resort, big brother Simon lives to schuss down any slopes, but Maggie is reluctant to make the new move. Weird things begin to happen over the family’s visit to the mansion. A candle mysteriously lights itself and burns, a supposed secret passageway with a doorknob won’t turn, and an eerie feeling of another presence is noted. The Kims add housekeeper Ms. Walcot’s warning to Simon’s near-death experience to a scary séance which resurrects old man Wharton’s ghost and that equals a major reconsideration. The action careens to an abrupt conclusion, but maybe there was no other choice. Teachers with a lot of time to teach mood and tone could definitely put this spooky ghost story to good use in the classroom. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

Nyeu, Tao. 2012. Squid and Octopus: Friends for always. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3565-1.

Squid and Octopus are friends for always. They cheer each other up, explore how to solve disagreements, and work together in the four short stories of this book. These tales will entertain young children while also demonstrating to them the meaning of friendship. The illustrations will attract readers as they bring the characters and their underwater world to life. (LB) 

Oates, Joyce Carol. 2012. Two or three things I forgot to tell you. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211047-3.

Nadia and Merissa appear to be typical teenagers. In reality they both try to deal with their friend’s death, while also hiding their own painful secrets. This book follows the two girls through their senior year of high school as they try to cope with their emotions and deal with school, family, and friends. The characters are confronted with many serious and painful issues, such as suicide, cutting, eating disorders, and more, which makes this book both intense and difficult for some readers. (LB) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2012. Book 1: Nancy Clancy super sleuth. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 128 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-208293-0. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

Nancy Clancy fans eager for chapter books about their favorite character will enjoy this mystery about a missing blue marble. Nancy is as precocious and cute as in her picture books, but the language is less inviting with fewer descriptions of unique vocabulary words. (DLN) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2013. Book 2: Nancy Clancy secret admirer. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 128 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-208295-0. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

Nancy and her friend Bree are enamored with Valentine’s Day and try to arrange a romantic relationship between two of their older friends, Andy, Nancy’s guitar instructor, and Annie, Bree’s babysitter. As with the first chapter book, the vocabulary is less descriptive than in Nancy Clancy picture books. (DLN) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2013. Fancy Nancy storybook treasury. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 192 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211978-0. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

The Fancy Nancy stories in this anthology include: Fancy Nancy and the late, late, late night (2010), Fancy Nancy: Pajama day (2009), Fancy Nancy sees stars (2008), Fancy Nancy and the delectable cupcakes (2010), Fancy Nancy: The show must go on (2009), and Fancy Nancy: The dazzling book report (2009). Readers will enjoy the number of unique words in Nancy’s vocabulary, words she always describes in context of the story. After each story, Jane O’Connor shares a list of “fancy” words used in each book included in this Fancy Nancy Clancy collection. (DLN) 

O’Ryan, Ellie, Ready*To*Read: Level One adapter. 2012. Olivia loves to read: Olivia takes a trip. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 34pp. $11.99. 978-1-4424-5879-6. Illustrated by Jared Osterhold.

Children who are familiar with the screenplay, Olivia takes a road trip, written by Eric Shaw, will recognize the characters, plot, setting, and theme of this level one reader. This adaptation of the screenplay conforms to the standards of level one readers with easy sight words and words children can sound out, a simple plot and dialogue, and a recognizable and familiar theme. (DLN)

Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia hits the trail. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209527-5. Illustrated by Lynne Avril

A young Amelia joins her class on a field trip, hiking on a nature trail. Again, as with Amelia Bedelia sleeps over, this is labeled I can read! Level 1 book, suitable for youngsters ages 4 – 8. Amelia continues to entertain readers with her literal interpretation of words, for example, when the teacher, Miss Edwards, turns to a student exclaiming “Let’s go, Wade,” (p. 17), Amelia takes off her shoes and socks and runs into the stream to wade in the water. (DLN) 

Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia means business. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 160pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209497-1. Illustrated by Lynne Avril

Amelia wants an expensive new bike and her parents want her to earn half of the money to pay for it. She is serious about earning money for a bike and tries different jobs, including waitressing at Pete’s Diner, opening a lemonade stand, entering a contest, and baking treats. One of her attempts is enormously successful and Amelia gets the bike of her dreams. Readers, ages 6 – 10, will recognize the language and the humor that characterizes all of the Amelia Bedelia chapter books by Herman Parish, nephew of Peggy Parish. (DLN)

Parish, Herman. 2012. Amelia Bedelia sleeps over. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209524-4. Illustratedby Lynne Avril

In this I can read! Level 1 book, readers will encounter brief sentences, simple, familiar concepts, and recognizable words. True to the style of the original Amelia Bedelia books, beginning readers, ages 4 – 7, will also notice young Amelia’s literal interpretation of words, for example, Amelia imagines the phrase “paint nails” (p. 6) to mean painting nails used in construction then hammering them in the wall. In fact, the expression actually means painting fingernails. (DLN) 

Parish, Herman. (2013). Amelia Bedelia unleashed. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 160pp. $15.99 ISBN 978-0-06-209500-8. Illustrated by Lynne Avril.

What begins as an innocent question about a baby brother or sister soon transforms into an appeal for a dog. As Amelia cares for dogs in her neighborhood, she convinces her parents she is responsible enough to own and care for a dog. In this chapter books for youngsters ages 6 – 10, Amelia continues to struggle with the nuances of language, but then readers expect Amelia to interpret words and phrases literally. (DLN) 

Parish, Peggy. 2013, 1963. Amelia Bedelia. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $14.99 ISBN 978-0-06-220969-6. Illustrated by Fritz Siebel.

Except for the size of the book, this 2013 edition of Amelia Bedelia is the same story as the one first published in 1963. However, the 2013 edition also includes end notes about Peggy Parish, Fritz Siebel and the story behind the creation of Amelia Bedilia. While Parish, who died in 1988, wrote only 12 Amelia Bedelia books, she published approximately 50 books for children. (DLN) 

Perez, Marlene. (2012). Dead is a killer tune. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 224 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-547-60834-1

The women warriors, or viragos, of Nightshade are searching for the source of strange music that is causing unusual behavior among the musicians of two competing high school bands. Killer tune joins 6 previous books in the Dead Is … series including Dead is the new black, Dead is a state of mind, Dead is so last year, Dead is just a rumor, Dead is not an option, and Dead is a battlefield. Fans of the series will not be disappointed as they follow Jessica Walsh and other viragos solve another mystery in Nightshade. (DLN) 

Phillipps, J.C. 2013. Monkey Ono. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40 pp. $16.99. 978-0-670-78505-6.

Monkey Ono makes plans to go to the beach. When one plan doesn’t work, he tries another and another. Monkey Ono’s preposterous ideas will keep preschoolers laughing all the way to the happy solution. Enjoy the vivid illustrations. (KKG) 

Pierce, Lincoln. 2013. Big Nate flips out. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 224pp. $13.99. 978-0-06-199663-4

Lincoln Peirce is a New York Times bestselling author for his Big Nate book series. In this adventure Nate is accused of losing the school camera due to his messiness. Everything changes when he is hypnotized. Best friends come through in the end. Reluctant readers will be attracted to the cartoon illustrations. Bathroom humor and put downs did not enhance the story. (KKG) 

Pickett, Bobby, & Capizzi, Leonard. 2012. Monster mash. Scholastic Inc. (Orchard Books), scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-21479-7 (1962). Illustrated by David Catrow.

The colorful illustrations bring new life to the lyrics and music of Bobby Pickett and Leonard Capizzi (1962). Students may want to find the music and play it along as they read the words describing a mad scientist’s new dance, Monster Mash. (DLN) 

Pileggi, Leah. (2013). Prisoner 88. Charlesbridge. [email protected] (800-225-3214). 144pp. $16.95. 978-1580895606.

Based on a true story of a ten-year old boy incarcerated for shooting an adult male in 1885, Prisoner 88 will provoke conversations about penitentiaries and the criminal justice system both in the past and the present. This books presents questions such as should juveniles be tried as adults and if convicted, serve their sentences in prisons designed for adults? Young adults, ages 10 – 14 who appreciate historical United States fiction, will want to read this unique story. Teachers may want to add this to their read-a-loud lists because of the refreshing, honest point-of-view and the descriptions of the Idaho Penitentiary in 1885. (DLN) 

Pinkney, Andrea Davis. (2012). Hand in hand: Ten black men who changed America. Disney Book Group (Jump at the Sun Books), disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 256 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-142314257-7. Illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

Organized chronologically, this anthology includes biographies of ten men who influenced not only the United States of America, but the world. The men – Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack H. Obama II – were all trail blazers in American history. The text is quite dense, with few pictures to clarify or complement the written words. However, where illustrations appear, they are magnificent. At the beginning of each chapter readers of all ages will marvel at Brian Pinkney’s full page sketch of each man. (DLN) 

Primavera, Elise. 2012. Libby of high hopes. Simon and Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 192pp. $14.99. ISBN978-1-4169-5542-9.

Readers who want a good, quick read about horses will enjoy the text, illustrations, and lessons of this book. Thanks to her unleashed dog, 10 year old Libby ends up trespassing on the High Hopes Horse Far. After meeting Princess, a supposed washed-up horse, Libby decides to live up to her potential and commit herself to a life in the horse show business. Libby gets a job at the horse farm, but she must start small. She walks, talks, and cleans up after the horse in efforts to convince her parents to pay for horse riding lessons. But life gets unfair when her sister gets the riding lessons and horse show opportunities instead. To make things worse, Libby must juggle an aversion to swimming and a corny Princess Spa party with friends. In the end, Libby’s resentments melt and life’s injustices are solved. A job well done! Recommended. Grades 3-6. (ADA) 

Proimos, James. 2012. The best bike ride ever. penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], 212-366-200. 32pp. $16.99.978-0-8037-3850-8. Illustrated by Johanna Wright.

The book title and cover illustration entices young readers inside the pages of this clever story. How could this be the best bike ride ever? Once inside, ride along with Bonnie. As a beginning biker, she rides willy-nilly over mountains, under a giraffe, up the Statue of Liberty, and down the Grand Canyon. “Oh Yipes!” A gentle reminder to wear a bike helmet is incorporated into the ending. Two thumbs up. (KKG) 

Quattlebaum, Mary. (2013). Jo MacDonald hiked in the woods. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-335-2. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

Young female Jo MacDonald walks through the woods with an older MacDonald, her grandfather. Instead of farm animals in the familiar tune Old MacDonald had a farm, Jo hears a woodpecker, a squirrel, a turkey, a chipmunk, a snake, a turtle, a skunk, a moth, and an owl. The text is a pastiche of the beloved song, Old MacDonald had a farm. The setting is a forest community v. a farm, and the main character is Jo MacDonald v. Old MacDonald. End notes add to the story by explaining the forest community and suggesting activities for youngsters who would like to be naturalists. (DLN) 

Ridley, Kimberly. (2013). The secret pool. Tilbury House [email protected], (800-582-1899). 32pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-88448-339-7. Illustrated by Rebekah Raye.

Readers, ages 5 – 12, are introduced to the ecology of vernal pools in The secret pool. Illustrations complement the text and the sidebars in this informative picture book explaining vernal pools and the animals that rely on this wetland. These animals include wood frogs and their tadpoles, spotted salamanders and their eggs/ larvae, fairy shrimp and their eggs, and predators, such as bullfrogs, turtles, and ribbon snakes. Vernal pools also provide fast food for ducks, great blue herons, and other shorebirds. Readers will also appreciate the glossary of terms located at the back of the book. (DLN) 

Riordan, Rick. (2013). Percy Jackson & the Olympians, book two: The sea of monsters, the graphic novel. Disney Book Group (Disney Hyperion Books). Disney.go.com, (877-813-6990). 128pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142314550-9. Adapted by Robert Venditti, Art by Attila Futaki, Color by Tamás Gáspár.

Adapted from Riordan’s novel, The sea of monsters (2007), this adaptation brings colorful new light to this Percy Jackson thriller. Although Percy is in seventh grade, this variation of the novel will appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy graphic pastiches of Greek mythology. (DLN) 

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse, & Lichtenheld, T. (2013). Exclamation mark! Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 56pp. 17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-43679-3.

Exclamation Mark has a story to tell. Unless he is sleeping, Exclamation Mark!, stands out among all others in the punctuation world. Eventually, he accepts his differences from the period and question mark, and recognizes his contributions to the (punctuation) world. Readers of all ages will appreciate this allegorical tale of coming to terms with personal differences, abilities, talents, and contributions. (DLN)
Ross, Chudney. 2012. Lone Bean. HarperCollins Publishers (Amistad) [email protected], (212-207-7000). 208pp. 15.99. 978-0-06-166011-5.

Chrysanthemum is starting third grade and wants to be called Bean. She is disappointed to learn that Carla, her best friend, has made a new best friend. Bean reluctantly has to spend time with Stinky Stanley, Terrible Tanisha, and Goody-two-shoes Gabrielle. She learns to be herself and accept others. This is a must-have book to start the school year. Being a true friend is the central theme. (KKG)
Rossi, Veronica. 2012. Under the never sky. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper) [email protected], (212-207-7000). 376pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-207203-0.

After participating in a foolish stunt with some friends, Aria is dropped outside of the dome-enclosed city in which she has grown up. From the inside, Aria is used to her virtual reality spaces, but now she must try and survive the Aether storms and plagues of the outside wasteland. Death would have been inevitable had she not crossed paths with an outsider, or Dweller, named Perry. Despite both being outcasts, each needs the other. Perry needs to get back into the dome to rescue his nephew, and Aria needs to survive in order to achieve redemption. This may be seen as just another dystopian thriller taking up shelf space, but it’s worth the space. The setting itself could be used to teach students. Descriptions of Pod housing within a dome and virtual travel are plausible. Plus, wasteland developing as a result of an ecological apocalypse can make the message “Go Green” more of a priority to modern students. Recommended. Grades 9-12. (ADA) 

Roth, Veronica. 2012. Insurgent. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 592pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-2002404-6.

Here we go again, back in Chicago where a civil war between factions continues. Tris Prior and her boyfriend Tobias are the protagonists. This time, however, Tris must stay motivated to do what is right despite the loss of her parents and the tension between Tobias and his father, Marcus. The story begins with a few Dauntless seeking sanctuary among Amity. When the peace compound is attacked by the dominating Eurodites, the real action begins. Fighting many battles and trying to maintain a healthy relationship with Tobias, Tris must choose between understanding the last words of her mother and determining Marcus’ credibility. One thing becomes clear – Johannah must be defeated. There are many without a faction and since they are the least likely suspects of a revolt upstart, Tris knows who she needs to combine her powers with. Riveting! This series is absolutely riveting. The battles, the alliances, the loyalty, the storyline – it’s all good. Reading the first book Divergent is a must. Language arts and social studies teachers could team teach this series. Language Arts could study the themes of loyalty, loss, and betrayal. Social studies could use this as a quick study on how 5 branches of government needs its checks and balances working in order to achieve justice for all. Highly recommended. Grades 9-12. (ADA). 

Rueda, Claudia. (2013). Is it big or is it little? William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. [email protected], (800-253-7521). 26 pp. $14.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5423-0.

Size is relative, a fact evident to the mouse in Rueda’s clever concept book for young readers, ages 3 – 6. The ball may be big to the mouse, but it is little from the black cat’s perspective. Thanks to the questions of the mouse, readers must view size, depth, weight, length, emotios, and place (end/beginning), from at least two perspectives, which begs the question “Is there a right or wrong answer?” This book is highly recommended because it challenges readers to think critically about concepts. (DLN) 

Rylander, Chris. 2011. The fourth stall. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 314pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-199496-8.

Sixth grader Mac is a young entrepreneur, conducting his fee-for-service franchise from the fourth stall of a boys’ unused bathroom. Mac’s business employs several of his schoolmates, but his childhood friend Vince acts as right-hand man and business treasurer. Business is booming and enough money for Mac and Vince to be cheering at the World Series is almost feasible. When third grader Fred seeks Mac’s service to keep legendary bully and crime boss Staples off his back, things get out of control. A string of lying, cheating, backstabbing, betrayal, beatings, intimidation, and theft ensue. Mac knows that the dissolution of his business and employees is possible, so he sets out to conduct his own research. Oh, the places he can go when he throws a big, juicy steak to a guard dog! The first-person narrative will help students relate to main character Mac and bring light to the real-life picture of the bullies and the bullied. A good fiction book to read, as a class, for lessons in developing character. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

Rylander, Chris. 2012. The fourth stall: Part II. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 281pp. $15.99. ISBN978-0-06-199630-6.

After his run in with the legendary dropout and delinquent Staples from the previous book, middle schoolers Mac and Vince are back in business. The requests start off simply: a change in the lunch menu and a rat poop in a locker problem. When it comes to solving 8th grade Trixie Von Parkway’s dilemma, however, things get complicated. She feels threatened by the seemingly nice-guy and well-liked science teacher Mr. Kjelson. Trixie’s problem may be too time consuming, when Mac feels he may lose his business to a nosy administrator. Mac considers dumping Trixie’s case and investing wholly in the possible collapse of his business. But Mac is a problem solver and when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Can he solve everybody’s problems and keep his business afloat at the same time? Just like Rylander’s first novel, this book is a winner. The lessons in character education continue, even if it means stealing the answers to a test! Teachers and fans of the first book will want to add this to their collection. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Scarrow, Simon. 2011. Fight for freedom. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 255pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-14231-5101-2.

Marcus Cornelius Primus is kidnapped and enslaved along with his mother after his father is murdered. Through a series of action-filled events, Marcus is separated from his mother and eventually learns to fight as a gladiator. However, he never forgets his promise to find and rescue his mother while avenging his father’s death. Set in the years following the slave revolts in the Roman Empire led by Spartacus (after 73 BCE), this action filled historical novel will appeal to young male readers, ages 9 – 13, who may or may not have an understanding of slaves, gladiators, Spartacus, or the early years of the Roman Empire. (DLN) 

Schachner, Judy. 2011. Skippyjon Jones class action. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 31pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42228-0.

Skippyjon Jones, a Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua, wants to attend obedience school with the other dogs. He has many friends at school and together they ride the bus, attend classes, and read books in the library. Skippyjon Jones and his friends must also find a way to save the playground from the school bully. Skippyjon Jones is a character that elementary readers are drawn to and his adventures at school are sure to amuse young children. The illustrations enhance the adventures of this likable kitty and pass them on to the reader. (LB) 

Scotton, Rob. (2013). Splat the cat: Storybook collection. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 192 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-213383-0

Fans of Splat the cat will recognize the stories in this collection:

Splat the cat sings flat (2011) with cover art by Rob Scotton, text by Chris Strathearn, and interior illustrations by Robert Eberz
Splat the cat: Back to school (2011) with cover art by Rob Scotton, text by Laura Bergen, interior pencils by Charles Grosvenor, and interior color by Joe Merkel
Splat the cat: Good night, sleep tight (2011) with cover art by Rob Scotton, text by Natalie Engel, and interior illustrations by Robert Eberz
Splat the cat: The perfect present for mom & dad. (2012) with cover art by Rob Scotton, text by Annie Auerbach, and interior art by Rick Farley and Joe Merkel
Splat the cat and the duck with no quack (2011) with cover art and text by Rob Scotton and interior illustrations by Robert Eberz
Splat the cat takes the cake (2012) with cover art by Rob Scotton, text by Amy Hsu Lin, and interior illustrations by Robert Eberz

Early readers, ages 4-8, will appreciate the onsets and rimes in each book and of course the predictable behaviors of an endearing humorous cat (DLN) 

Selbert, Kathryn. (2013). War dogs: Churchill & Rufus. Charlesbridge Publishing Inc. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 48 pp. $16.96. ISBN 978-1-58089-414-2.

Rufus was Winston Churchill’s brownish-red miniature poodle and companion during England’s participation in WWII (1940 – 1945). The mutual devotion of Rufus and Churchill is evident in this non-fiction picture book, as is Winston’s commitment to end the war. Of interest are post-it notes on several pages of different phrases or quotes from Churchill throughout the war, e.g., “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.” (Churchill, 1941). The phrases are sequential, following the time-line of events from the perspective of England and Churchill in WWII. Strengths of this non-fiction picture book are the Time Line of World War II; short biographical sketches of Winston Churchill, his dogs, and his life; books for young Churchill readers; related websites; a bibliography; and sources of the quotations cited in the text. (DLN). 

Simon, Coco. 2012. Cupcake diaries: Mia’s boiling point. Simon and Schuster (Simon Spotlight). [email protected] (800-223-2336). 160pp. $5.99. 978-1-4424-5396-8.

Mia tries to help Olivia, the new girl in school, feel welcome. The Cupcake Club is reluctant to allow someone new to join their business. Mia is torn between faithful friends and being used. Fashion, food, and friendships – just what every tween girl would love to read about. There are plenty more Cupcake books to devour in the series. (KKG) 

Simon, Norma. 2013. All kinds of friends. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected] (800-255-7675). 32pp. $16.99. 978-0-8075-0283-9. Illustrated by Cherie Zamazing.

People have friends who are grown- ups, babies, pets, family, and even stuffed animals. Friends love you, talk to you, disagree, and want to be friends again. Friends even move away. This simple book states the importance of friends in a tedious, redundant style. (KKG)

Singer, Marilyn. 2012. The superheroes employment agency. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected] (800-597-6127). 40pp. $16.99. 978-0-547-43559-6. Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones.

Meet the B-list superheroes from Blunder Woman to The Bulk. Each one is depicted in rhyming verse and silly illustrations. Not as famous as Superman, these misfits have a different approach to fighting villains. This was readable, but not noteworthy. (KKG) 

Singer, Marilyn. 2012. Tallulah’s solo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-33004-4. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.

As Tallulah continues her ballet lessons, she is convinced the choreographer for the winter recital of The Frog Prince will select her to dance the leading role of the princess. However, Tallulah is devastated when she is not the princess and mortified when the choreographer chooses her brother as the Frog. However, Tallulah overcomes her jealousy to tutor her brother, who is struggling with his movements. Eventually both Tallulah and her brother, Beckett, star in the end-of-the-year ballet, Hansel and Gretel. Children ages 5 – 8 will easily identify the positive change in Tallulah’s attitude and behavior towards her brother and dancing as they read the story. (DLN) 

Singer, Marilyn. (2013). Tallulah’s toe shoes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 48pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-48223-1. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.

Tallulah wants to dance on pointe, but the adults in her life refuse to buy her pointe shoes or teach her to dance on her toes until her feet stop growing. However, Tallulah is determined to dance on pointe and seizes the opportunity to retrieve discarded toe ballet shoes from the garbage after class. Later, at home, tries to dance on her toes. She learns a lesson, however, that some things just need to wait. One of the endearing qualities of all of the Singer books about ballet, Tallulah’s tutu, Tallulah’s solo, and Tallulah’s toe shoes, is while all of the dances are physically fit, they are not pencil thin, a positive message for all youngsters. (DLN) 

Smith, Sherwood. 2012. The spy princess. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], 212-366-2000. 400pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-670-06341-3.

For 12-year-old Lilah, dressing up as a boy and running the streets in the fictional land of Selenna began out of boredom. But once out and about, she discovers that the king, her uncle, is guilty of stealing from his own people. This comes as no surprise to Lilah’s older brother Peitar, but when she confronts him, he adds her to his gang of revolutionaries. Slinking around and spying can only last so long, however. Eventually Peitar and his best friend Derek are apprehended by the evil king. Lilah, unsure of how to save her brother, seeks refuge in a magical land to escape the hardships of a revolution. After much thinking, she leaves the land of magic, reunites with her pre-revolt band of buddies, and goes about making the powerful into the powerless. This book has its flaws. An abrupt reliance on magic and superficial character development are some of the problems. Otherwise, it’s a decent adventure book. It shows what four kids can do when confronted with the powers of royalty. Its first-person narrative could be useful in the classroom. Grades 5-8. (ADA)

 

Spinelli, Jerry. 2012. Jake and Lily. HarperCollins Publishers (Blazer + Bay). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 352pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-028135-9.

Dizygotic twins Jake and Lily share the summer they turn eleven in alternate chapters. Jake writes the first chapter because he was born eleven minutes before Lily. The main characters are lifelike and develop through the story, as do several other minor characters. The plots and conflicts are realistic, especially the oppressive bullying of Bump, leader of the Death Ray’s. Male and female readers ages 9 –
12, will relate to the contemporary problems and celebrate the satisfying conclusion along with Jake, Lily, friends and family. (DLN) 

Stanley, Diane. 2012. The cup and the crown. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196321-6.

Fans of The silver bowl will enjoy this second book in the series. Molly confronts multiple obstacles and challenges, but with the help of her visions and friends, including a raven, she delivers the requested loving cup to her king. However, the conclusion is less than definitive, and readers will need to read to confirm or reject their predictions about the relationship between Molly and the king. (DLN) 

Stein, David Ezra. (2013). Ol’ mama squirrel. Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Nancy Paulsen Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25672-1.

No one will doubt the power in numbers after reading mama squirrel’s ousting of a grizzly bear that attacked her home, threatening her babies. Readers, ages 3 – 8, will marvel at mama’s courage, persistence, and problem solving abilities. Ol’ mama squirrel is fearless. (DLN) 

Stiefvater, Maggie. 2011. The scorpio races. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 409pp. $17.99. ISBN978—0-545-22490-1.

It is autumn on the island of Thisby, which is located somewhere along the British coast. This is prime time for the very aggressive, very dangerous water horse to emerge from the seas. It is also a time for the islanders to lay claim on one of the man-eating horses and try to run them across the finish line during the Scorpio Races. Big money is at stake to the winner, and that is why Kate “Puck” Connolly enters. She needs the cash. Her big brother (and provider of the family) has decided to leave the island. Also entering the race is Sean Kendricks. Not only is Sean the running champ, but he has his own dreams to fulfill. With big brother leaving and Benjamin Malvern ready to foreclose on the Connolly house, Puck is even more determined to win. With an unsatisfactory life and a yearning to possess his boss’s prize water stallion, Sean wants nothing more to win. Death is likely for the both of them. This is a great, great book. The characterization is solid and realistic, the plot is brutal and villainous, and the legend that makes up the storyline is fictionally fantastic. Place this book on a summer reading list for high-level readers with a hankering for legend and horses. Recommended. Grades 8-12 (ADA) 

Stoeke, Janet Morgan. 2011. The loopy coop hens. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dutton Children’s Books). [email protected]ingroup.com, (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42190-0.

The hens Midge, Pip, and Dot live on Loopy Coop Farm. They love Rooster Sam and want to learn to fly just like him. They try and try but just cannot fly. Finally one morning they wake up early to spy on Sam as he makes his way to the roof to awaken everyone. They are shocked to discover that he does not fly to the top of the roof at all, but climbs and hops to the top using various objects. Despite their disappointment at his inability to fly, they still love Rooster Sam. Bright illustrations and colorful characters will draw children into this book. (LB) 

Stout, Glenn. 2012. Good sports: Against all odds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Sandpiper). [email protected] (800-597-6127). 144pp. $5.99. 978-0-547-88734-0.

This easy-to-read narrative promotes doing your best and never giving up through the examples of five sports heroes. Read about comeback kid TimTebow, Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels, Frank Reich’s last chance, St. Louis Cardinals World Series champions, and Tracy McGrady’s long shot. The author also encourages using the library to find other resources listed after the conclusion. Comes complete with sports statistics in the appendix. (KKG) 

Stringer, Lauren. (2013). When Stravinsky met Nijinsky: Two artists, their ballet, and one extraordinary riot. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90725-3.

Stringer’s outstanding non-fiction picture book appropriate for readers of all ages, is based on the composition and ballet of Stravinsky’s The rite of spring first performed in France in 1913. In addition to telling the story of the partnership between Stravinsky (1882-1971), the composer, and Nijinsky (1889-1950), the dancer/choreographer, Stringer includes elements of famous paintings, The Red Studio (Matisse 1913), and Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon (Picasso 1907), in her illustrations. (DLN) 

Sullivan, Mary. (2013). Ball. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-547-75936-4.

The young and young at heart will easily follow the endearing plot of a dog who adores fetching his red ball, even if it is only in his dreams. Except for the word “ball,” the picture book is without words, but the illustrations and the dominant color of red complemented by other hues, lines, and shapes, lead readers to connect the dog with the ball and the dog’s best and most loyal friend, a little girl with red hair. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. (DLN) 

Tan, Shaun. (2010, 2013). The bird king: The artist’s notebook. Scholastic, Inc. (Arthur A. Levine), scholastic.cushelp.com, (212-343-6100). 128 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-545-46513-7

In addition to the motivating sketches, the book is notable because of Tan’s introduction regarding his work from the past twelve years: his comments about “untold stories,” “book, theater, and film,” “drawings from life,” “notebooks,” and “endpapers.” A list of sketches, including descriptions of his work, are explained at the end of the book along with a bibliography. (DLN)

 

Taylor, Sean. Huck runs amuck! (2011). Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 48pp. $16.99. 978-0-8037-3261-2. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

Goats are known for eating anything. Huck is no different except when there are flowers nearby. Huck’s frenzied attempts to gobble any flowers he sees almost destroy the village. Children will enjoy predicting what will happen next. What flowers does Huck successfully eat? (KKG) 

Thompson, Julie, and Brownie Macintosh. (1996). A pirate’s life for me! Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 32 pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-384-8. Illustrated by Patrick O’Brien. Traditional songs on the CD arranged and adapted by Julie Thompson and Brownie Macintosh.

The story is narrated on a CD along with recordings of The Bonnie Lady, Santy Anno, The Cape Cod Light, Blow Ye Winds, Jack the Sailor, Bonnie Highland Laddie, Away Rio, Windy Old Weather, and To Portsmouth. Classified as non-fiction, the book includes descriptions of a pirate’s life through a handful of famous pirates, such as Mary Read, Anne Bonney, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Black Bart. (DLN) 

Thompson, Lauren. 2012. Hop, hop, jump! Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9745-0. Illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

The whimsical and colorful illustrations of children wiggling, waggling, winging, waving, hopping, jumping, squinting, grinning, shrugging, hugging, zig-zagging, dancing, reaching, rolling a ball, twisting, kicking, flapping, flopping, and bowing make this an essential book for all classrooms with children learning English as another language. In addition to the illustrations of the verbs, body parts critical to each action are identified, e.g., shoulder complements “shrug it.” (DLN) 

Thompson, Lauren. (2013). Mouse’s first summer. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon) [email protected], (800-223-2336). 36 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5842-0 (2004). Illustrated by Buket Erdogan.

This board book for youngsters up to age three was first published as a picture storybook in 2004. Yet the illustrations and vocabulary, reinforcing colors, objects, and actions reflect the summer of 2013. However, it is questionable if Erdogan would include soft white bread if the first publication date were 2013 rather than 2004. (DLN)

Tolan, Stephanie S. (2012). Applewhites at wit’s end. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-057938-8.

To avoid bankruptcy, the Applewhites transform their farm into a summer camp for exceptionally creative youngsters. Without experience as directors, cooks, or counselors the execution of the idea is less than seamless. Campers, Applewhites, and Jake Semple (see Surviving the Applewhites), confront multiple obstacles including a potential disaster that could destroy all attempts to save the family farm. Multiple diverse characters, various conflicts, at least one mystery, and humor are appealing to male and female readers ages 10 – 17. (DLN) 

Tone, Satoe. (2013). The very big carrot. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company [email protected], (800-253-7521). 26 pp. $12.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5426-1

Six rabbits find a huge carrot in the garden, dig it up, and then use their imaginations to find the best use of their new-found treasure. Children, ages 2 – 6, can predict the rabbits’ choices and imagine other uses for a carrot larger than life itself. The size of the carrot is always larger than any page in the book. (DLN)

Trelease, Jim. (2013). The read-aloud handbook: Includes a giant treasure of great read-aloud books (7th ed.). Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Penguin Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 384pp. $17.00. ISBN 9780143121602.

First published by Jim Trelease in 1979, the book has evolved as the world has changed. However, the importance of reading aloud to youngsters and young adults is as vital today as in 1979. After ten chapters explaining various issues related to reading aloud (theory into practice), the text lists a number of books, including e-books, picture books, and novels to read aloud to children and young adults. (DLN) 

Trice, Linda. 2013. Kenya’s song. Charlesbridge Publishing Inc. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 32 pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-847-6. Illustrated by Pamela Johnson

Friends and family try to help Kenya with a homework assignment to find a favorite song to share with the class. Kenya appreciates their help and their favorite songs, but none are her favorite. However, she surprises the class with a song she composes reflecting the music, languages, and cultures of her friends and family: salsa, jazz, merengue, Spanish, English, and French. The text and illustrations capture the universality of music for children ages 4 – 8. Teachers could also read the book to introduce to students different types of music and the value of individuality and creativity. (DLN) 

Trine, Greg. 2012. The adventures of Jo Schmo: Dinos are forever. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected] (800-597-6127). 112pp. $12.99. 978-0-547-76341-5. Illustrated by Frank W. Dromer.

After Jo receives a superhero cape from her uncle, she is ready to begin her crime fighting career. With the help of her grandfather and her slobbering dog, Jo stops bank robbers, jewel thieves, and drug dealers. Can she prevent Dr. Dastardly and his Reanimator Laminator? This is the kind of ridiculous story that entertains beginning chapter readers. Added bonus – contains dinosaurs. (KKG) 

Turnage, Sheila. 2012. Three times lucky. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-8037-3670-2.

An awesome title for an awesome book! Three Times Lucky features 6th grader Mo Lobeau and is set in rural Tupelo Landing, North Carolina. There is mystery from the get go. Mo is a hurricane orphan. Since she was whisked away and washed ashore over a decade ago, it seems appropriate that she hurls messages in a bottle upstream in hopes one is intercepted by her real mom. Mo finds a home with Colonel, who has both mysterious memory loss and a mysterious past. Both Mo and Colonel have been taken in by cafe owner Miss Lana, forming a mysterious threesome. However, all the relationship mystery takes a backseat to the true mystery. Mr. Jesse, one of the most disliked people in the town, has turned up murdered. Detective Starr is on the case, and he means business! Everybody is talking in this small town, but no answers emerge. Then Miss Lana and Colonel are kidknapped and held for ransom. Mo grabs her best buddy Dale Earnhardt Johnson III and together they set out to save the day. Leaving no stone, or rather no boat, unturned. All loose ends are brilliantly tied by the end, which makes for a great in-class read to teach resolution. Teachers looking to teach great examples of simile and metaphor will find plenty of excellent examples as well. Highly recommended. Grades 5-9. (ADA) 

VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig. (2013). Forest has a song. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-618-84349-7. Illustrated by Robbin Gourley.

The poems with subdued water color illustrations take readers on a walk through the forest. The first poem invites readers to visit the forest and discover four seasons of activity: a Dead branch, a Chickadee, animal tracks, ferns, a Fossil, a tree frog, a Lady’s Slipper, Spider, Dusk, Lichens, the first flight of an owl, Moss, a pile of bones, Wintergreen, deer, a rotten log home to many animals, a mushroom pump, poison ivy, a Woodpecker, fall maple leaves, a Squirrel, a forest song, Snowflake voices, and a red cardinal. The poems should inspire all readers to reflect and write about their observations as they walk through their woods, prairie, or neighborhoods, listening to the songs of the world around them. (DLN) 

Vaughan, M.M. 2013. The ability. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-233-2336). 336pp. $15.99. ISBN797-1-4424-5200-8.

Twelve-year-old Christopher “Chris” Lane doesn’t have much going for him. His father is dead, his mother is clinically depressed and doesn’t want him, and his teachers deem him a thief and a liar. After expulsion from one school, Chris accepts an offer to train at Myers Holt Academy, a school run by British government leaders. During his year at Myers Holt, Chris will learn to develop telepathic, telekinetic, and mind accessing abilities. This will all be done with a team of five other recruits and will be known as the MI18. It’s all fun and games until director Sir Bentley Jones informs MI18 that a few former Myers Holt students and teachers are either showing up dead or mentally disabled. The charades must stop, so MI18 crams a year’s worth of training into a couple of months. Attacks are predicted to happen at the Antarctic Ball, and MI18 must be ready to fight even though they may not be. The characterization is a bit shallow, but the storyline is good. According to this book, there is a one year period of development for a special “Ability” at 12 years old. Although improbable, this would be worth investigating. Perhaps it would make for a good research project for students? Even if there is no such thing, students will at least have read a good mystery, fantasy, and supernatural work of fiction. Recommended. Grades 6-12. (ADA) 

Waber, Bernard. (2012). Lyle, Lyle, crocodile: Storybook treasury. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books For Young Readers). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 192pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-0-547-51618-9.

Bernard Waber who passed recently on May 16, 2013 wrote many beloved tales for children. This collection includes: The house on East 88th Street, Lyle, Lyle, crocodile, Lyle and the birthday party, Lyle walks the dogs, Count with Lyle! and Counting activity. People who grew up reading Waber’s books may enjoy sharing their favorite green crocodile with another generation of enthusiastic readers. (DLN) 

Ward, Lindsay. 2012. When Blue met Egg. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected] us.penguingroup.com, (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-8937-3718-1.

A lovable, little bird named Blue discovers an egg in her nest. Travel with Blue through the streets of New York as she diligently cares for her new friend. Blue accepts sudden change with loving optimism. Primary age children will be pleasantly surprised by this special story of friendship. Treat your children to an exceptional picture book. (KKG) 

Warner, Gertrude Chandler. (2013). The boxcar children: The woodshed mystery. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 160 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-9207-6 (1692). Illustrated by David Cunningham.

Albert Whitman & Company is thankfully reissuing Warner’s original Boxcar Children books, and boxcar books written by other (ghost) writers. Contemporary Boxcar Children books, authored by other authors, continue to captivate young readers, ages 8 – 12. Two of the more recent titles are The return of the graveyard ghost (2013), and Mystery of the fallen treasure (2013). While fans of the Boxcar Children may age, the characters Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden are the same as when they appeared in the first nineteen books by Gertrude Chandler Warner (1890 – 1979). (DLN) 

Watson, Tom. 2013. Stick dog. HarperCollins Publishing(Harper). [email protected] 212-207-7000.192pp. $12.99. 978-0-06-211078-7.

Stick Dog and his friends are on a mission to steal hamburgers. As told from the author’s point of view, Tom explains that he cannot draw, so all his illustrations will be stick drawings. This beginning chapter book will attract 8-10 year olds with its ridiculous characters and situations. Find out what dogs love even more than hamburgers. Bravo for Stick Dog. (KKG) 

Wells, Dan. 2012. Partials. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 470pp. $1.99. ISBN978-0-06-207104-0.

Wow! This book packs quite a punch in the genetic engineering world. It is the year 2076 on Long Island, New York. Sixteen-year-old Kira is a human nurse medic in the town’s nursery. Unfortunately, the human race is becoming extinct. RM, a postwar virus, is to blame for the 56 hour average lifespan of babies. Kira can no longer stand the sight of another dead baby. Plus, in attempts to save a dying race, the government enacted a law which requires all girls to be pregnant by the age of 18. Kira, knowing that babies will continue to die and knowing that the Senate’s new law is unprofitable, teems up with two soldiers to execute a new plan. The plan is to cross over into enemy territories. From there she will kidnap a Partial, humans that were genetically engineered to help humans win a war and are also immune to RM. Since Partials are now human enemies, this plan is dangerous. After several good battles, Kira is able to kidnap a Partial named Samm. Once brought back to human territory, the human Senate is not happy with Kira’s acquisition. Kira’s mistake is soon seen when Partials attack their island to get their stolen Partial back. An interesting turn of events occurs when Samm is willing to work with Kira. An awesome, action-packed sci-fi, apocalyptic thriller. It will appeal to higher level students. Science and biology teachers everywhere could add this to a school summer reading list. Excellent discussions will follow. Recommended. Grades 9-12+ (ADA) 

Wells, Robison. 2012. Feedback. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected] Com, (212-207-7000). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-202610-1.

A sequel to Variant, this novels opens with 19-yearold Benson Fisher and injured classmate Becky running through dense forests to escape the dangerous gangs and android leaders of the last book. When Benson stumbles across a barn, he is surprised to see his Maxfield Academy dead ex-girlfriend Jane. Benson is desperate for help and looks for it in a small hamlet. While android leaders canvass the area searching for the two escapees, Benson learns the hamlet’s population is made up primarily of android doubles. Seeing many familiar faces among the ranks makes more and more sense as revelations lead to dark imaginations, twisted realities, and the need to control. A standing ovation goes out to this book. Themes of determination, perseverance, and truth run rampant. But mostly, the pages hold the true elements of an excellent sci-fi thriller. Teach it in class, or simply make it available to students – it will work its own magic. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

Wells, Robison. 2011. Variant. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 376pp. $17.99. ISBN978-0-06-202608-8.

Spring-loaded with action, suspense, and mystery this story will be a one-sitting read! Set against a contemporary New Mexico backdrop, 17-year-old Benson Fisher arrives at a very isolated Maxfield Academy. Having jumped from orphanage to orphanage in the past, Benson is looking for a fresh start and a place to call home. His suspicions are piqued upon arrival when he notices his school is deeply rooted in a forested area, with barbed wire stretching atop a high surrounding wall. Things appear downright strange when he is greeted to his new school by two students with mysterious messages. Benson is assured no escape from Becky, who shuts and locks Benson into the building. Right away Benson must choose a gang. He must choose to be a social (rule follower), a Havoc (indifferent to their stay), or a Variant (determined escapists). Later on, Benson sees atypical school traditions: classes of no educational value, bid out jobs, and video cameras monitoring students’ every move. But when an attack leads to his romantic interest’s death, Benson vows to get out. This isn’t easy when future confrontations reveal an android vs. human conflict. Author Robison Wells has succeeded in raining true mystery throughout this gripping novel. Teachers need to get this book into student hands using any methods possible. Highly recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA) 

White, Mark Andrew. 2012. The James T. Bialac Native American art collection. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (1-800-627-7377). 240pp. $29.95. 978-0-8061-4304-0.

The James T. Bialac Native American art collection is an illustrated catalog of selected Native American works donated to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma by James T. Bialac of Phoenix, Arizona. Throughout the catalog, engaging essays by curators, scholars, and fellow collectors situate both the collector and the collection. Bialac, as an advocate and supporter of Native American arts, artists, and galleries in the American Southwest, has actively promoted the exhibition, display, and study of his collection for several decades. This collection strongly favors Southwest and Plains Indian arts, but other regions are present and complement the history of artistic traditions in North America. This catalog provides a glance through the window of this large collection that is diverse in content but focused in scope. Works spanning from around 1900 to present are well-illustrated and include paintings, sculpture, metal, weaving, and ceramics. Included in full-color are breathtaking examples of contemporary and experimental artworks that often depict seemingly traditional Native American icons and ways of life, each item selected for its beauty and artistry. At moments the essays highlight the significance of specific pieces, but more importantly, this collection and the resulting catalog reflect a history of Indian arts from key schools and movements in American Native American art. (DC) 

Whitman, Sylvia. (2013). The milk birds. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 384 pp. $16.99, ISBN 978-1-4424-4682-3.

Nawra is a 14 year old refugee living in Darfur, Sudan. K. C. is a 14 year old living in Richmond, Virginia. Although their worlds are entirely different, they correspond with each other through an organization called Save the Girls. While the settings and the characterizations of the young girls are authentic, readers may have difficulty following the plot because of the frequent flashbacks and minimal description of the Sudanese cultural attributes. Nawra is raped, but the statement about this violent act minimalizes the tragedy “used me as women” (p. 171). Although Arabic words are defined in context, a glossary of terms, including cultural characteristics, such as female circumcision would be useful. Readers, 14 and up, may enjoy the story as told by Nawra and K.C., but they should also read Paul Collier’s Bottom billion (2007), for a different perspective on foreign aid. They should also read at least one of the hundreds of books and papers about the histories and cultures of the people of Sudan and South Sudan. (DLN) 

Willems, Mo. (2013). That is not a good idea! HarperCollins Publishers (Bazler + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-220309-0.

When a sly fox meets a plumb goose and extends a dinner invitation, readers like the baby goslings may scream “that is not a good idea!” However, the ending of this tale is delightful, surprising, and somewhat unpredictable. This is an enchanting story which teachers of children ages 4 – 8, may want to use in promoting at least one cognitive operation associated with hypothesizing. (DLN) 

Wilson, Karma. 2012. Bear says thanks. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-5856-7. Illustrated by Jane Chapman.

In this story of friendship and thanksgiving, Bear eventually realizes that although he does not have food to share for the feast, he can share his stories. Friends from previous Bear books by Wilson and
Chapman – Mouse, Hare, Badger, Gopher, Mole, Owl, Raven, and Wren – are in this story as well. Readers, ages 3 – 7, will also recognize the rhyming verses, common to all Bear books. (DLN)