Reviews are sorted alphabetically by author’s last name.
Abawi, Atia. 2014. The secret sky: A novel of forbidden love in Afghanistan. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Philomel Books). 304 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-26078-3
LaMarche, Una. 2014. Like no other. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Razor Bill). 352 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-59514-674-8.
Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare, 1597) and Maria and Tony (Laureats, 1957, West Side Story), meet Jaxon and Devorah in Like No Other, and Fatima and Samiullah in The Secret Sky. The teenagagers in these two novels are forbidden to interact with one another, but love has no cultural, ethnic, or religious boundaries for the star-crossed lovers. Set in Brooklyn, NY (LaMarche, 2014), and Afganistan (Abawi, 2014), the two stories follow similar plots and themes, specifically young people falling in love who are forbidden by cultural mores. The teenagers in both stories experience the ruthlessness of bullies, but the violence and terror in The Secret Sky is especially vivid, reflecting the lawlessness of the Taliban. On the other hand, a different perspective of Islam is eloquently conveyed in Chapter 23 through the conversation among Mullah Sarwar, Fatima, and Samiullah. Both books are highly recommended for young adults ages 12 and older because they illuminate the complexity of humanity, including the positive and negative effects tradition and the possibilities for change. (DLN)
Abbott, Tony. 2014. The Copernicus legacy: The forbidden stone. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 423 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219447-3.
This is the first book in a new series that promises mystery and adventure. Four friends travel to Germany from Texas to attend the funeral of a mysterious friend of Roald’s father. Once there, they learn of an invention that Copernicus had created that would make time travel possible. The four friends begin a search across the globe for the 12 parts that make up the machine. The story includes plenty of humor and twists to keep readers turning the pages. Late elementary school readers who enjoy Rick Riordan may become engrossed in this series. (MC)
Allen, Crystal. 2013. The Laura line. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 328 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-199274-2.
Seventh grader Laura Eboni Dyson is hassled by her classmates because she is overweight and unpopular, and her love interest ignores her. Laura doesn’t need any more complications, so when her history teacher announces a field trip to the family’s slave shack on her grandma’s property, Laura says, “Heck to the double no!” Matters worsen when Laura must stay with her grandma while her parents train for the military. Although combative at first, Laura’s resentmentoc the slave shack melts when she reviews the family history book. Knowing that her lineage dates back to the Amistad, Laura’s embarrassment transforms into the courage and hope she needs to develop her confidence and self-esteem. The book is a bit long and drawn out, but the significance of family history and innate desire of “knowing where you came from” makes this an enjoyable and important read. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Anthony, Joseph. 2014. The dandelion seed’s big dream. Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32 pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-497-7. Illustrated by Cris Arbo.
More plants and animals should have the personality and characteristics of dandelion seeds. They are unique, persistent, hardy, futuristic, patient, and resilient, with dreams of developing into golden yellow flowers. Children, ages 4-10, and adults may discover multiple commonalities with dandelion seeds as they follow their own life cycles. (DLN)
Archer, Dosh. 2013. Urgency emergency! Big bad wolf. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 48 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-8352-4.
Children, ages 3–8, will enjoy this adventure of Little Red Riding Hood, her grandmother, and the Big Bad Wolf. Awareness of the original tale provides essential background knowledge before understanding the severe stomach pains of the Big Bad Wolf and the ultimate consequence of his behavior. (DLN)
Archer, Dosh. 2013. Urgency emergency! Itsy Bitsy Spider. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 48 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-8358-6.
Miss Muffet finally conquers her fear of spiders and cares for a wounded Itsy Bitsy Spider. Children, ages 3–8, without background of the nursery rhymes of Little Miss Muffet and the Itsy Bitsy Spider may need to read the classic rhymes before understanding the subtle characterizations, conflicts, and themes of this story. (DLN)
Arlon, Penelope. 2013. Fantastic frogs. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-57271-2.
Callery, Sean. 2013. Titanic: Disaster at sea. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-57272-9.
Both Fantastic frogs and Titanic are non-fiction stories appealing to students in grades 1–3, and rated at grade 2 and grade 3 reading levels, respectively. The pictures are engaging and interesting, but the language in the text is highly regulated, a textual characteristic meant for leveled readers. Each book includes a code readers can enter on the Scholastic web page to access activities, quizzes, and games with sound and video to learn more about each subject. (DLN)
Arlon, Penelope, and Tory Gordon-Harris. 2013. Scholastic discover more: Emergency vehicles. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-49563-9.
Children can explore emergency vehicles of land, air, and sea in this nonfiction book. Large print and simple sentences make this picture book ideal for beginning readers, and smaller print details will add interest for older readers. Full page photographs and smaller inset pictures give the reader ample information. Want more? Visit the digital companion book for videos and fun activities. (KKG)
Bader, Bonnie. 2014. Fly, butterfly. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Grosset & Dunlap). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-47919-4.
As a Penguin Core Concept book, Fly, Butterfly, presents an introduction to the non-fiction genre, contributing to the development of skills expected of elementary readers in Common Core State Standards. The concepts covered in this text include butterflies and seasons of the year. While the illustrations are beautiful photographs of each stage in the life of a monarch butterfly, the language is stiff with a highly controlled vocabulary. (DLN)
Bates, Katharine Lee. 2013. America the beautiful: Together we stand. Scholastic Inc. (Orchard Books). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-49207-2.
The title “America the Beautiful”truly describes this book, containing quotes from various American presidents as well as the lyrics to the famous song that gives this book its title. The illustrations are beautiful and will be meaningful to the reader. This book also contains a list of national landmarks and symbols and a description of each. This book is a must-read for young children! (JGL
Baker, Keith. 2014. 1–2–3 peas. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). www.simonandschuster.com, (800-223-2336). 36 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-9928-7.
This board book uses peas as the characters in different settings in which children may count. The numbers 1–10 are individually represented, while numbers 11–19 share a two page spread, and are followed by the numbers 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and finally, 100. The number of peas corresponds to each number, except the numbers 11–19 when three peas skip from one number to the next. As youngsters are introduced to peas as a food item, caregivers can share the book, keeping in mind the maximum number of peas children of different ages should eat during a meal. (DLN)
Baron, Jeff. 2013. I represent Sean Rosen. Harpercollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 345 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-218747-5.
Thirteen-year-old Sean Rosen has a brightly lit light bulb hovering over his head! He feels that he has a multi-million dollar idea that will rock the entertainment world. Marketing his idea is a bit tough, though. He has homework to do, podcasts to upload, entertainment people to impress, and a make-believe manager to fabricate. Sean is a small enough entrepreneur to scheme and scam to sell his idea, but this strategy doesn’t come without problems. An Option Agreement proves unsettling, and Sean’s excitement ends up spilling into the ears of the wrong friend. This novel is an excellent study on characterization. Students will find this to be an easy read about a charismatic and honest, smart and witty, weird and motivated teenager. Highly recommended for grades 6-12. (ADA)
Bascomb, Neal. 2013. The Nazi hunters: How a team of spies and survivors captured the world’s most notorious Nazi. Scholastic, Inc. (Arthur A. Levine Books). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 256 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-43099-9.
The search for fugitive Nazi Lieutenant Colonel Adolf Eichmann (1906 – 1962) is methodically told in this compelling non-fiction book. The writing style is engaging and readers ages 10–16 will absorb the true story of the manhunt and capture one of the world’s most notorious Word War II Nazi criminals. (DLN)
Berry, Lynne. 2013. What floats in a moat? Simon and Schuster (Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-233-2336). 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9763-4. Illustrated by Matthew Cordell.
Archie the Goat poses the question, “How do I cross the moat?” He doesn’t just want to cross using the obvious drawbridge; he wants a bigger challenge. A great deal of humor continues throughout the book before he meets the queen. The book also contains scientific information about what causes a barrette to float. (J
Biggs, Brian. 2013. Everything goes by sea. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 56 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195811-3.
Readers of this story will travel on a ferry from one harbor to another on a trip that fifty-six pages long. Each page is full of information about seafaring vessels and marine history. Readers of all ages may appreciate the irony of the traffic jam in the final scene after seeing the congestion on the sea. (DLN)
Bird, Betsy. 2013. Giant dance party. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196083-3. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman.
Lexy loves to dance but is terrified of performing in front of people. Her severe stage fright continues until her students, the Giants, freeze during their first recital. Children ages 3–8 may recognize their own fears as they read about the stage fright of others. They also may be able to overcome their fears as do Lexy and her students. (DLN)
Blankman, Anne. 2014. Prisoner of night and fog. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 401 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227881-4.
Set in Munich during the 1930s, this book is a combination of real events and fiction. The main characters, Gretchen, her family, and her close friend Daniel are fictitious, but others, such as Adolf (Dolf) Hitler, Ernst Rohm, Angela Raubal, and Eva Braun, are real historical figures from the 1930s. The story, appropriate for young adults ages 12–18, reveals the frightening mentality of and events leading to Hitler’s rise and control of Germany. Conflicts are often brutal, but readers will also observe positive changes in Gretchen, suggesting that the best of humanity will prevail. (DLN)
Blundell, Judy. 2013. Dear America: The diary of Minnie Bonner: A city tossed and broken. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (800-223-2336). 224 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-545-3`022-2.
Imagine yourself being sold into a different family. This has happened to the teenage Minnie Bonner. Soon after Minnie’s parents lose their Philadelphia Tavern, her father goes missing. Minnie ends up being sold as a housemaid by the wealthy Edward Sump. Why a wealthy Edward Sump is hiring out somebody else’s daughter is the million dollar question. Minnie is on her way to San Francisco, a rapidly growing city, when tragedy strikes. A major earthquake leaves Minnie not only a sole survivor, but also the sole person capitalizing on a hidden treasure that is going up in flames. This book is a winner! The historical background leaves this a ready-made history lesson and a math student will want to read the answer to the aforementioned “million dollar question.” A super-duper Dear America read. Highly recommended for grades 5-12. (ADA)
Brent Weissman, Elissa. The short seller. 2013. Simon and Schuster. [email protected] (866-506-1949), 251 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5255-8.
Burning up with fever and ready to burn up some time, 12 year old Lindy Sachs takes her father’s $100 and dabbles in the stock market. Using a “Buying Stocks for Dummies” resource, Lindy learns, fixates, and submerges herself in the stock market. Playing with a $100 allotment is one thing, but Lindy gets overconfident. Betraying her father’s trust and feeling overconfident, Lindy drags her parents $25,000 into debt, unbeknownst to them. Lindy now finds herself at a couple of losses: her friends and her parent’s cash. Thanks to a big sister, a good Dream Dry investment, and some sympathetic Commissioners Lindy find herself rescued. Personal financing students can certainly benefit from and appreciate math more with Short Seller’s terminology, such as trades, margin, and stocks! A great cross-curricular read. Highly recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Brian, Janeen. 2014. I’m a dirty dinosaur. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 22 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-296-2 (2013). Illustrated by Ann James.
Children ages 2–6 who enjoy the outdoors and love mud puddles will appreciate this dinosaur with an affection for dirt. This cumulative tale of dirt will capture the attention of readers because of the rhyming verses paired with a wide variety of contrasting colors. The dirt is always different shades of brown, but the outline of dinosaur and text utilize the bold colors of red, deep purple/dark blue, green, gold, and yellow. Children can join the dinosaur in sniffing, shaking, stamping, sliding, and washing – because even dinosaurs know when it is time to bathe. (DLN)
Brown, Calef. 2013. We go together! A curious selection of affectionate verse. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-72128-6.
Each verse in this collection of poetry is about friendship and/or love. Poems include: Let’s go!, We go together, You two (kiwis), Totally! My doorbell, FBF, Mirth makers, and more. Readers of all ages will almost certainly connect to at least one of these poems about affection and friendship. (DLN)
Brown, Carron. 2014. Secrets of the seashore: A shine-a-light book. Kane Miller (EDC Publishing). kanemiller.com, (858-456-0540). ISBN 978-1-61067-309-9. Illustrated by Alyssa Nassner.
Habitats of ocean life are cleverly illuminated in this unique picture book for children ages 4–8. If readers shine a light behind the pages, they can see the animals mentioned in the text in their ocean habitats. (DLN)
Brown, Tameka Fryer. 2013. My cold plum lemon pie bluesy mood. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-07285-5. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans.
Colors reflect and convey moods and when Jamie feels happy: he is in a purple mood. However, he also can be gloomy, a gray mood; or pleasant, a green mood. When mad, he is in a black mood, when happy and pleased with himself, he is in an orange mood. If he is frantic, he is in a red, running mood. Brown reflects his determination and yellow conveys the liveliness and happiness from a family meal. Finally, blue represents mood of contentment in his personal space. The colors may convey different moods and emotions for readers, ages 4 – 10, but the story can lead to interesting discussions about feelings, behaviors, and color. (DLN)
Bruchac, Joseph. 2013. Killer of enemies. Lee & Low Books (Tu). [email protected], (212-779-4400). 361 pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-143-4.
Lozen is an Apache living as an assassin in a dystopian society. Similar to The hunger games and Divergent, a young, 17-year-old female overcomes oppression and menacing obstacles to protect her friend and family. Unlike The hunger games and Divergent, however, Apache history and folklore are integral parts of the story, contributing to the development of Lozen, the plot and the themes. (DLN)
Buckley, Richard. 2013. The foolish tortoise. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-8990-5 (1985). Illustrated by Eric Carle.
The rhyming verse of this tale accentuates the journey of a tortoise who sheds his heavy shell with the expectation he will be able to move quickly. However, his shell is more than just a home, and the tortoise soon regrets his foolishness and eventually returns to the safety of his home. This 2013 edition is a large board book designed for youngsters ages 0 – 2. (DLN)
Bullard, Lisa. 2013. Turn left at the cow. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 304 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-02900-2.
Tired of his California life with his mom and stepdad, 13 year old Travis Stoiska runs away to rural Minnesota to stay with his grandmother. This seems like the perfect idea to him, since he wants some answers about the father he never knew. After turning left at the cow to get there, Travis eventually learns of his father’s bank heist and stolen money indiscretions. Small town gossip indicates that Travis knows where the stolen money is hidden. With the help of two quirky neighbor kids named Kenny and Iz, Trav is determined to solve the mystery behind the missing loot as well as stomp out any rumors of his dead father’s involvement. A rural Minnesota setting with all the fixings (hot dishes, potlucks, church basement ladies, small town gossip, parades that circle twice) are all reasons to teach this book in rural literature or history classes. Highly recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Bullard, Lisa. (2013). Turn left at the cow. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 297 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-02900-2.
Although the introduction is rather incredible, this coming-of-age story is interesting because the characters, thirteen-year old Travis, his friends Kenny and Isabella, his grandmother, and his mother are credible. The story’s setting, Green Lake, Minnesota will also be both realistic and familiar to vacationers and Minnesota residents. The plot includes multiple conflicts of person v. self, person v. person, and person v. society. Readers will recognize the themes of friendship, and family. Young adult readers, ages 10–14, who look for novels with suspense and mystery, will appreciate the adventures and experiences of Travis and his friends as they uncover events that happened before Travis was born: the death of his father, a bank robbery, and the missing cash. (DLN)
Cano, Felipe. 2014. Bonjour Camille. Chronicle Books, LLC. [email protected], (800-759-0190). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-2407-0 (Spain, 2011).
Camille loves Sundays because she can dress in her tutu and top hat and use her imagination to be creative. She jumps on her bed, eats a plethora of cherries, asks the wind to tell a story, and draws faces on balloons. The illustrations complement each action and thought, conveying the energy behind Camille’s imagination. (DLN)
Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. 2014. Tulip loves Rex. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-2909413-1. Illustrated by Sarah Massini.
Tulip is not quite like other young girls because she loves to dance. Rex is not like other dogs because, like Tulip, he loves to dance. When Tulip and Rex find each other, it is love at first sight, and both discover that they not only love to dance, but they love each other as well. Children ages 3–8 who love to dance or love animals will enjoy this story with a very happy ending. (DLN)
Carnavas, Peter. 2014. The boy on the page. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 32 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-245-0 (Australia, 2014).
First published in Australia (2014), this story has universal appeal because of its focus on the common philosophical question: “why are we here?” As a boy moves through childhood and adulthood, readers can contemplate their own lives and ambitions and begin trying to answer important questions about their existence. (DLN)
Castaldo, Nancy F. 2014. Sniffer dogs: How dogs (and their noses) save the world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 160 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-08893-1.
Narrative informational books are interesting and engaging, especially when they include multiple different stories about a specific topic. These stories about dogs and their phenomenal sense of smell are fascinating and captivating. After learning about the science of sniffing, readers will examine different types of sniffers: live-find sniffers, bone sniffers, explosive sniffers, narcotic sniffers, eco sniffers, medical sniffers, and more. Readers will learn how the dogs’ acute sense of smell contributes to a better world for everyone. (DLN)
Cawkwell, Sarah. 2014. Heirs of the demon king uprising. Abaddon Books (Rebellion Intellectual Property Limited). www.abaddonbooks.com, $7.99. ISBN 978-1-78108-224-9.
Although uchronia (alternate history novels) are an important part of the literature discourse, the events must be thoroughly explained and set in authentic context, especially if authors juxtapose fantastical elements to the plot. Magic and history can be an interesting combination, but only readers with a substantive background in English history will recognize the error of suggesting that magic saved Richard III (1452–1485) from dying in the Battle of Bosworth. Accurate historical notes, including a timeline of significant events in the world around Richard’s reign and descriptions of the religious and mythological beliefs of the time, would enhance comprehension of the plot, conflicts, themes, settings, and character development (DLN).
Chainani, Soman. 2014. The school for good and evil: A world without princes. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 433 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210492-2.
This sequel to The School for Good and Evil continues to follow Sophie and Agatha, who aren’t exactly satisfied with their “Happy Ever After” as friends forever. Agatha still pines for the prince she left behind, and while the walls of good and evil have been broken down, the school is now divided between girls and boys. Bitterness and mistrust come from both sides, and amidst it all, Agatha is conflicted between her best friend and Tedros, the boy she loves. This novel continues with the humor, zippy pace, and creative trope-bending of the first novel. Readers who enjoyed the first novel will be curious to see how this epic fairy tale continues to develop. Recommended for readers 10 and up. (MC)
Chalmers, Claudine. 2013. Chronicling the west for Harper’s: Coast to coast with Frenzeny & Tarvernier in 1873 – 1874. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman). [email protected], (800-627-7377). 229 pp. $45.00. ISBN 978-0-8061-4376-7.
Art and US American history collectors will certainly want to add this exquisite text of the documents illustrating Frenzeny and Tarvernier’s cross-country journey from New York City to San Francisco shortly after the Civil War. The 100 illustrations in pencil, woodcuttings and the documents contribute to the history of westward expansion, which seems both brutal and heartwarming. Harper’s Weekly employed the two artists because of their collaborative talents including artistic acumen, acute observation skills, true grit, writing ability, and their versatility in connecting with people from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. (DLN)
Christopher, Lucy. 2014. The killing woods. Scholastic Inc. (The Chicken House). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 359 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-46100-9.
Ashlee Parker is dead, and Emily Shepard’s dad is the accused. Emily’s dad is an ex-military veteran suffering from PSTD and was seen carrying the dead body of the dead teen Ashlee out of the woods, but he has no recollection of what happened. Emily isn’t so convinced her father is at fault, so she sets out to find evidence in order to to acquit her father. Alternating between two viewpoints, Emily and Ashlee’s boyfriend Damon, readers will learn of some risky sexual escapades and drug use, an old underground war bunker, and a dangerous night game. Disturbing mystery and growing suspense will keep readers on edge. Because of sex, drugs, and occasional crude language, teachers should recommend this book with caution. Recommended for grades 9-12 (ADA)
Clark, Leslie Ann. 2013. Peepsqueak wants a friend! HarperCollins (Harper). [email protected], 212-207-7000. 32 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207804-9.
Peepsqueak is the only chick without a partner and he is determined to find a friend. He hops, skips, jumps, and skitters through the woods looking for a friend with very big footprints. In spite of warnings from the baby chicks, hedgehogs, red birds, and raccoons, Peepsqueak continues down the path until he encounters his new friend. Repetitive phrases, a rhyme or two, and a delightful ending will appeal to all youngsters ages 3 – 7. (DLN)
Cline-Ransome, Lesa. 2013. Light in the darkness: A story about how slaves learned in secret. Disney Book Group (Jump at the Sun Books). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1423113495-4. Illustrated by James E. Ransome.
Slaves would get whipped if they were caught learning to read—sometimes a lash was given for each letter; they had to learn in secret. In this story, an old man teaches slaves to use sticks to make the letters during the night in a pit. The slaves take many risks to seek the light of knowledge. This book will give the reader an appreciation for the freedom we have today to get an education. (JGL
Coben, Harlan. 2011. Shelter: A Mickey Bolitar novel. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected] (212-366-2000). 288 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25650-9.
After Mickey Bolitar witnesses his father’s murder, he is forced to send his mother to a rehab center and live with his estranged uncle Myron. Mickey has to transfer to a new high school, which comes with new friends, enemies, and a new girlfriend, Ashley. When she disappears, however, Mickey begins to search for her in a seedy underworld which reveals that no one, not even Mickey’s father, is who they claim to be. This novel involves ten characters so impeccably interwoven that each character is thoroughly developed to the point that the reader is compelled to continue reading. (BNS)
Columbus, Chris and Ned Vizzini. 2013. The house of secrets. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 490 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219246-2.
Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor Walker are three kids, aged eight to fifteen, who learn that there are a lot of reasons to hate people. Their father has been fired after an unfortunate medical incident, visitors have offered truces and then betrayed, and long-lost loves are never forgiven. After Dr. Walker purchases a too-good-to-be-true house, there is a knock at their door. A big bang leaves the children separated from their parents. The story focuses on the kids’ survival while piecing together the puzzle that will get them home. The kids first land in a creepy, primeval forest where they befriend an airplane crash victim named Will. Surrounded by giant, howling beasts and an oversized buzzing dragonfly, the Walker kids slowly learn they are trapped in one of author Denver Kristoff’s fiction books. If the Walker children want to reunite with their parents, they will have to battle warriors, pirates, and a nasty Queen. The character development is shallow, but the action hops right along. This is a good book for avid readers, as it’s plot can be a bit overwhelming with so much action. Recommended for grades 7-12 (ADA)
Columbus, Chris and Ned Vizzini. 2014. House of secrets: Battle the beasts. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 465 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219249-3.
Cordelia, Brendan, and Eleanor, ages 13, 16, and 9 lead a seemingly content life after their wild worldly escapades in the first book of the series. After being lured to California, however, an unsuspected confrontation with the Wicked Wind Witch lands all three Walker children, and returning character Will, at the Roman Coliseum. The kids must outwit Nazi cyborgs, but then they become separated. One decides to be a gladiator, while the others end up at a Monastery in Tibet plotting to destroy the Frost Beasts for the monks. Like its predecessor, this book is fast-paced and action-packed. And, similar to the first book, it might be a bit overwhelming for some readers. Regardless, fans of the series will enjoy this thriller. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Converse, P.J. 2011. Subway girl. HarperCollins Publishers ( Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 210pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-6-157514-3.
This story revolves around two teenagers trapped in separate worlds, though they both live in Hong Kong. Simon does not speak Chinese and his counterpart, Amy, doesn’t speak English. The situation these two people find themselves in involves caring and understanding even though there is a language barrier. Eventually, Simon confesses that he is dropping out of school, and Amy relates that she is pregnant with an ex-boyfriend’s child. Both feel lost in a world that they do not understand, but they still have each other. A very heartwarming, though challenging plot. This story provides a good example of the power of love in a lost world to two people with potential and is an overall good read. (BNS)
Copeland, Misty. 2014. Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland shows a young girl how to dance like the Firebird. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16615-0. Illustrated by Christopher Myers.
The story of Misty Copeland and her life as a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) mirrors the themes found in Firebird, such as perseverance, dedication, and the idea that both practice and talent are critical in reaching personal goals. This vibrant picture book will be realistic, dynamic, and inspiring for all readers as Misty Copeland encourages a young girl to pursue her dreams. The illustrations by Christopher Myers convey hopes, dreams, dedication, practice, and the spectacular performance of The Firebird. (DLN)
Cowell, Andrew, Alonzo Moss Sr., and William J C’Hair. (2014). Arapaho stories, songs, and prayers: A bilingual anthology. University of Oklahoma Press. www.oupress.com, (1-800-627-7377). 576 pp. $55.00. ISBN 978-0-8061-4486-3.
This collection celebrates the narrative oral traditions of different Arapaho stories: creation stories, trickster stories, legends and myths, song texts, and more. Anyone interested in Arapaho language and culture will value the informed discussions and perspectives of Arapaho lexicon and storytelling. Given Andrew Cowell’s research of the stories collected between 1880s and the late 1920s and the qualifying contributions of Alonzo Moss Sr. and William J. C’Hair, this anthology has the potential to become the formative text in Arapaho storytelling. (DLN)
Deem, James M. 2012. Faces from the past: Forgotten people of North America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 154 pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-37024-8.
James Deem takes readers on a journey of discovery that brings a new sort of life to the human remains that have been discovered across North America. Upper elementary and middle school readers will be fascinated by the process in which human remains are discovered and studied to determine who this person was, how they lived and died, and even what they looked like! This book introduces readers to the past lives of a variety of different people that lived in different areas of North America from various time periods. Deem utilizes maps, photographs and illustrations that enhance the reader’s understanding of the process in which the skeletons are studied and the past lives they represent. (LB)
Delaney, Joseph. 2014. The last apprentice: Fury of the seventh son. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 462 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219231-8.
Tom Ward and Old Gregory are on the same team once again, but this time they bring Grimalkin into their circle in an effort to defeat the evil Fiend forever. Because a cruel sacrifice must be made in order to destroy the fiend, a new plan of attack must be devised. Tom discovers his future will hold a battle at the mysterious Wardstone, but what he doesn’t know is what he is going to lose—lose himself, lose somebody near-and-dear to him, or lose the battle? All the elements that make a great horror book— mystery, suspense, mood, tone, etc.—come together to form a perfect storm of creepiness. Literature teachers may wish to substitute the morbid works of Poe with this series. Highly recommended for grades 5-12. (ADA)
Delaney, Joseph. 2013. The last apprentice: Slither. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 397 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219234-9.
This book proves that something other than witches, ghosts, and boggarts exist in the darkness. The eleventh book in the Last Apprentice series is dark, exciting, and absorbing. English/Literature teachers could use this book to teach mood and suspense. Recommended for grades 5-12. (ADA)
Doeden, Matt. 2011. Johnny Depp: Hollywood rebel. Lerner Publishing Group (Twenty First Century Books). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 112 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6420-7.
Johnny Depp: Hollywood rebel, a USA Lifeline Biography, details Johnny Depp’s rise to fame. Depp received immediate attention for his good looks, after his career took off in 1987 due to his role as a cop in the TV series 21 Jump Street. However, Depp was more interested in challenging himself with complex characters and films than being a TV star or teen idol. He is known for roles such as the title character in Edward Scissorhands, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Then Depp was introduced to a new generation of fans through the role of “Jack Sparrow” in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, a role for which he has achieved international fame. He is considered one of the most respected actors by critics and most popular with fans from all ages. (HJM, BNS)
Drummond, Ree. 2014. Charlie and the New Baby. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-229750-1. Illustrated by Diane deGroat.
Charlie is one happy dog who enjoys being King of the Ranch, but one day a sick newborn calf is carried into the house, much to Charlie’s surprise. Charlie struggles in finding that he is no longer the center of attention as the family’s focus is now on nursing the calf back to health. After Charlie realizes there is enough love to go around, the calf is able to rejoin its mother and life returns to normal. This story, told from Charlie’s point of view in humorous language, may promote a discussion about inclusiveness and helping those in need, as well as the idea that love is limitless. The bold illustrations show some accurate details of life on a modern day cattle ranch. (JLS)
Dumont, Jean-Francois. 2014. The geese march in step. Eerdmans Books for young Readers. www.eerdmans.com, (800-253-7521). 33 pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5443-8 (France, 2007).
Zita, the young gosling, will be an inspiration for readers of all ages, including elementary music and dance teachers. She creates a unique marching beat, much to the chagrin of Edgar, the head goose, who demands a highly structured hiking beat. While the other farm animals ignore Edgar’s traditional, boring beat, they find Zita’s beat captivating. Young and old will feel encouraged to express their individuality and imagination after reading about the goose who does not march in step. (DLN)
Dumont, Jean-Francois. 2014. The sheep go on strike. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521). 33 pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5470-4 (France, 2009). Translated by Leslie Mathews.
In this story, a group of sheep go on strike, protesting shearing in the fall because the temperatures drop, and without their wool, they become cold and fall ill. After a series of chaotic events, all parties concerned reach a satisfying compromise. As children and adults read this delightful story, they will learn about the cause and effect of strikes and the value of compromise. However, astute readers may ask the question “Why not shear the sheep in the spring of the year instead of in the fall?” Regardless, if people enjoy The Sheep Go on Strike, they may also want to read Dumont’s The Chickens Build a Wall, The Geese March in Step, and A Blue So Blue. (DLN)
Dunrea, Olivier. 2013. Jasper & Joop: A perfect pair: One tidy, one messy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Books for Children). [email protected], (800-255-3362). 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-86762-5.
Designed for children ages 2–5, this 6” x 6” book is ideal for small hands. Children beginning to develop friendships will hopefully recognize the theme that friendships may blossom regardless of differences. While Jasper and Joop have very different characteristics, they remain devoted to each other and are best friends. (DLN)
Egan, Tim. 2013. Dodsworth in Tokyo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 48 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-87745-7.
Traveling with an unpredictable duck can be quite a risk. Trouble seems to follow him everywhere. Despite the antics he gets into, he becomes a hero in a most unexpected way. Children will enjoy this adventure and will be anxious to read the other books in the series. (JGL)
Ellis, Leanne Statland. 2013. The ugly one. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 256 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-64023-5.
Set in the past among the Incas of South America, readers ages 10–16 will discover multiple attributes of Inca culture, including traditional religious beliefs. Micay believes the scar on her face is a curse, but discovers the opposite is true. Through her apprenticeship with the great shaman Paqo, the gifts and protection of a macaw, and a pilgrimage to the sacred sun city Machu Picchu, Micay discovers her ugly scar is actually the sign of a blessing. Thankfully, the book includes a glossary with pronunciation guides and resources for additional information about the Inca Empire. (DLN)
Ellsworth, Loretta. 2011. Unforgettable. Macmillan Publishing (Walker). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 251 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2305-5.
Baxter Green has a fantastic memory. Not only does he remember number sequences, but also the small details of everyday life. His mother’s relationship with a criminal has forced them to move to a remote area of Minnesota, forcing Baxter to suppress his gift. This repression causes problems with everyone including himself, but he continues to recall a girl named Halle. Halle knew Baxter as a five year old, but has since forgotten him even though he remembers her. This book deals with relocation issues, becoming accepted in another state, suppressing one’s individuality, and realizing that attempting to be someone else only causes problems with the individual as well as accepting who one really is. (BNS)
Elya, Susan Middleton. 2014. Little Roja Riding Hood. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0399247675. Illustrated by Susan Guevara.
This bilingual retelling of the familiar Little Red Riding Hood story begs for interaction with the text. The reader, or listener in the case of a younger child, will enjoy trying to interpret the Spanish words intermingled in the text. The author appropriately provides a Spanish glossary at the beginning of the book. I found myself returning often to check my predictions. This book not only introduces Spanish effectively but intersperses cultural elements in both the illustrations and text. Be prepared for a surprise ending by an empowered Grandma! Little Rojo Riding Hood will appeal to early elementary students because of its familiar story and predictable style but will also challenge older students. (PAS)
Engle, Margarita. 2013. The lightning dreamer: Cuba’s greatest abolitionist. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 192 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-80743-0.
This historical fiction is written in poetic verse and is about a girl who is not allowed to receive an education. Books are forbidden to her, but she sneaks them from her brother to read and also reads books when she visits the local nuns. Tula longs to find the words to express herself and her feelings. Tula has to face an arranged marriage and many other challenges as a young teenage girl. She feels trapped, and it seems that no one understands her. This book will be a great and encouraging read for women of all ages. (JGL)
Evans, Cordelia. 2013. Mike the knight: The jewel of Glendragon. Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 24 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-8635-5.
Based on the screenplay by Simon Nicholson, this level one, ready-to-read book reflects the criteria for leveled readers: phonetically based sight words, uncomplicated plot with conflicts that move forward with simple dialogue, and familiar topics and themes. Children familiar with Mike the Knight will recognize the characters and will easily be able follow the sequence of events as the jewel in the crown is lost, then found. (DLN)
Ewell, Katherine. 2014. Dear killer. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 359 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-225780-2.
Kit has carried on her murderous mother’s legacy as London’s “Perfect Killer.” Even though Kit is a teenager, she has been groomed to kill silently and effectively. Kit receives letters and cash from people who want someone dead, and she chooses the victims, adhering to her own nihilistic code. Over the course of the book, Kit begins to wrestle with her conscience as she befriends a Scotland Yard member. Despite the unbelievable stupidity of the police and the inauthenticity of the London setting, Dear Killer is a riveting, violent tale, especially considering Ewell was 17 years old when she wrote it. (MC)
Ferrer, J.J. .2012. The art of stone skipping and other fun old-time games. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-225-3214). 192pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-936140-74-9. Illustrated by Todd Dakins.
This book contains a variety of games that you can play by yourself or with friends and family. Some of the games are outdoor games; others are car games, while still others are brain games. Each description explains what you need, the object of the game and the rules. There are also many interesting game facts included in the pages of this book. This is an interesting book containing many great games for children. (JG
Formento, Alison. 2013. These seas count! Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-7871-1. Illustrated by Sarah Snow.
At Sunnyside Beach, Mr. Tate’s class meets Captain Ned. Walking along the shore, they see bottles, cans, plastic bags and other trash. Captain Ned tells them that if the ocean is not clean, that hurts fish, sea creatures, and even people.This book can help remind us how much the sea really counts. (JGL)
Frasier, Debra. 2013. Spike: Ugliest dog in the universe. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-1452-5.
Unique illustrations of denim and dress scraps with Cansons papers complement a linear plot, themes of abandonment, good vs. evil, and friendship; and characterization of an abandoned, ugly dog, a compassionate boy, his mother, and Evangeline, a cat. Readers, ages 4 – 8, will recognize the denim and clothing in the illustrations, and appreciate the savvy, ugly, yet brave dog who eventually finds a loving home. (DLB)
Galdone, Paul. 2013. Jack and the beanstalk. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-06665-6 (1974).
First retold in 1974, this version of Jack and the Beanstalk is adapted from The history of Mother Twaddles and the marvelous achievements of her Son Jack (1807). Galdone’s version is distinctly different than other popular Jack and the beanstalk tales and is Ideal for comparisons and inquiry. (DLN)
Galdone, Paul. 2013. Rumpelstiltskin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-066692-2 (1985).
This retelling of Rumpelstiltskin (1985 by Paul Galdone) mirrors the classic tale of deception, consequences, misery, and eventual redemption. (DLN)
Gates, S.P. 2011. The monster in the mudball. Lee & Low Books (Tu). [email protected], (212-779-4400). 216 pp. $16.96. ISBN 978-1-62014-141-0.
An unidentified monster threatens Jin Sparks and his family. When Jin’s carefree little brother drools on an ancient artifact mudball, an African legend-folktale monster emerges, and it’s hungry for kid brothers. Jin needs help, and he unwittingly enlists his free-spirited sister Frankie and an ancient artifacts inspector nicknakmed Miss Z. Each character has its/his/her own agenda; Smiler wants to play, Frankie wants to prove herself different, Jin wants to save his little brother, and Miss Z wants to avenge her brother’s death. It may be a bit difficult to imagine the monster Zilombo, but the London setting and African folktale legend can offer teachable and supernatural elements in the literature, history, or culture classes. Recommended for grades 3-7. (ADA)
George, Jean Craighead. 2013. The eagles are back. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3771-6. Illustrated by Wendell Minor.
A boy discovers two smashed eggs in an eagle’s nest. He knows that eagles were endangered and that the eagle was the national bird of the US. The boy had watched Uncle Sam and First Lady raise eaglets every year. A ranger from Alaska gives him an eagle egg to place in the nest in order to tempt the eagle pair into adopting the egg. Read this book to find out what happens. Do the eagles make a comeback? (JGL)
George, Jean Craighead. 2014. Galapagos George. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-028793-1. Paintings by Wendell Minor.
As stated in the end notes, Jean Craighead George (1919 – 2012) and Lonesome George, the galapogos tortoise in this story, died within weeks of each other. It is no coincidence they each represented unique aspects of life, a love of nature, and the last of a species. This informational book meets the requirements of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts/Science and Technical Subjects. The story of Lonesome George and other extinct tortoises is one of migration, adaptation, evolution, and hope. (DLN)
Gibson, Marley. 2012. Radiatae. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Graphia). [email protected], (800-255-3362). 416pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-61728-2.
Hayley Matthews, a senior in high school, wants more: more friends, more experiences, more challenges, more everything. She tries out for cheerleading and beats the odds by making the team. Suddenly, she has more. Hayley notices one day that she has a lump on her left leg. This eventually has a crippling effect; she can barely walk, and it turns out that the diagnosis is cancer. The worst that can happen is that she could lose her leg. She must now face a different type of odds and find the inner strength to help her through this problem. This is a marvelous book that reflects on how positive thinking can help with adversities. (BNS)
Gill, David Macinnis. 2012. Invisible Sun. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 370 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207332-7.
Violence and romance explode in this sci-fi adventure set far in the future on Mars after an apocalypse. Jacob Stringfellow (aka Durango), Durango’s AI (artificial intelligence cloned to his brain), and the fierce sidekick Vienne are mercenary soldiers who do dirty, dangerous deeds for very little pay. After defeating the Eceni and the sinister Dreau in the first book, Durango and Vienne hightail it to Bibliotheca Alexandria to steal stored data that the crime lord Mr. Lyme needs to take over the Zealand Corporation and become supreme ruler of Mars. Durango and Vienne come up a bit short on acquiring all of the data, but they still take a side trip to the Tengu Monastery. It is here that Vienne begins to remember her childhood where she raised bees and learned from monks. She also reunites with her outcast brother and plays with the sister-like Riki Tiki. After Durango finally convinces Vienne to tag along with him to settle some unfinished business, the two head to Tharsis Two, but their attack fails. Suddenly, Durango finds himself in quite a quagmire: no successful reboot, no armor or ammo, and no Vienne. Returning to the Monastery without Vienne does not bode well with the monks. Feeling guilty, Durango moves on and evades Hellbenders, shock troopers, and his nemeses Lyme and Archibald. An out-of-this-world setting complements a the story’s warp-speed pace. Social studies teachers may use this book or series to help introduce students to a post apocalyptic create-your-own-world unit. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Gill, David Macinnis. 2013. Shadow on the sun. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 432 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207335-8.
Freedom fighters Durango and Vienne are back, but now they are assaulting the Scorpions, at war with the evil Mr. Lyme, and hating their time spent apart from each other. The book starts with Durango and Vienne following different paths. Vienne has been hiding in the Monastery where she grew up, and although she yearns for Durango’s attention, he has left her. To cope with his absence, she accepts a job where she must protect a caravan of refugees from the Scorpions. A job well done steers Vienne into accepting another job which requires her to go back to a guanite mine in Hell’s Cross. Meanwhile, Durango is busy trying to stop the ill-intentioned Mr. Lyme from ruling Mars, first by stealing an important piece of equipment and then by visiting a former classmate. A happy, but intense reunion of old lovers emerges, and all loose ends are tied up in this final installment of the action-packed sci-fi trilogy. This novel cannot stand alone, but students can read all three and learn how events from three books can culminate into a tidy, satisfactory conclusion. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Glass, Calliope. 2013. Tiana: The stolen jewel. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 93 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-142316903-1. Illustrated by the Disney Storybook Artists.
Tiana is one of the Disney Princesses, a groups that includes Belle, Ariel, Cinderella, and others. In The stolen jewel, a story set in the Louisiana bayou, Tiana agrees to find a magical jewel belonging to Mama Odie. Young girls ages 7–10 who crave romantic mysteries rooted in classical tales will thoroughly enjoy this fantasy with a very happy ending. (DLN)
Godin, Thelma Lynne. 2014. The hula-hoopin’ queen. Lee & Low Books. [email protected], (212-779-4400). 40pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-846-9. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton.
With hand-drawn pictures that are digitally colored with intermittent collages, this text comes alive with action that is propelled by multiple conflicts and themes. The value of family and intimate relationships among friends, neighbors, and family dominate the competition among friends for the title of “hula-hoopin’ queen.” Parents, children, and grandchildren will find at least one personal connection to one of the themes in this story that crosses generational lines. Since the publisher, Lee & Low Books, is dedicated to cultural accuracy and is exceptionally sensitive to cultural issues, any reader, may comfortably connect with the vitality of the friends, family, and neighborhood of 139th Street, NY, NY. (DLN)
Goodhart, Pippa, and Nick Sharratt. 2014. Just imagine. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-343-3.
Readers ages 3–7 will apply their imaginations as they interact with the multiple colorful illustrations on each page. The possibilities of responses to the commands or questions in each section are nearly unlimited. All fifty pictures will certainly prompt unusual and unique answers among readers. The final challenge in this book is to dream, something adults should encourage children to do. (DLN)
Goodman, Gabriel. 2012. After the dust settled: Plague riders. Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. (Darby Creek). [email protected], (800-328-49290). 112 pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-8330-7.
Set in the future along the Wisconsin River, this story follow 14 year old Shep Greenfield who rides horse and delivers medicine to “nightpox” infected people in the settlements. While trading medicine for food, Shep learns that his parents might be alive. When he asks his boss, Doctor St. John, for permission to search for his parents, the doctor says no. Soon after, Shep learns the ‘good’ doctor has bad intentions. Shep, now on a mission to find his parents, enlists the help of a girl named Cara. Together they ride for a common cause, stumbling across two young children fighting for their survival. With nightpox threatening to infect them and Doctor St. John’s henchmen at their heels, Shep must make a tough decision—and he does a “bang up” job to get it done. This easy-to-read, short-texted book will appeal to teachers with older students struggling to read. It is a high interest historical adventure that deals with an epidemic sweeping the outdoors. Recommended for grades 4-12. (ADA)
Grabenstein, Chris. 2013. Riley Mack stirs up more trouble. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected] (212-207-7000). 336 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-202622-4.
Twelve-year-old do-gooder Riley Mack is back, along with his buddies Briana, Mongo, Jamal, and Jake. This time, there is a grave concern for the environment, and Riley must get to the bottom of it before the problem escalates beyond repair. It is the beginning of summer vacation, and the swimming hole is polluted. At the same time, military personnel are getting sick. As the puzzle pieces come together, Riley Mack and his adherents help readers see that chemical runoff from a nearby green owned by an arrogant business man is suspect. Riley Mack’s performance highlights this whodunit mystery adventure about truth, honesty, and doing the right thing for those you love and those less fortunate. Highly recommended for grades 5-9. (ADA)
Hague, Allison Grace. 2013. Michael Hague’s read-to-me book of fairy tales. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 123 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-0-688-14010-6. Illustrated by Michael Hague.
Each folktale in this anthology is short, with some differences from the traditional tales familiar to children. One example of this occurs in The Three Little Pigs when the oldest pig buys straw for his house, the middle pig purchases sticks, and the youngest pig has just enough money to buy bricks. This varies from the original tale because peddlers give the pigs the materials they want to use to build their houses. Teachers could read multiple versions of each of the tales, asking children for the similarities, differences, and the effect on the plot. Included in the collection are Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and more. (DLN)
Hale, Bruce. 2014. Clark the Shark Dares to Share. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227905-7. Illustrated by Guy Francis
Clark the Shark thinks he understands everything about sharing, but through his actions and their consequences, he finds out that he is actually confused by the concept. Through interactions at school and with his friends and family, Clark successfully learns about the many different aspects of sharing. Children will be able to identify with Clark in this book as he goes to school, plays sports, and sulks in his bedroom. They will likely see parallels to their own lives as many caring adults in the story gently guide Clark in the right direction. The illustrations in this book are highly amusing, especially the facial expressions of the characters. This will be a wonderful book to use at the beginning of the school year with kindergarteners and first graders. (JLS)
Harness, Cheryl. 2013. Mary Walker wears the pants: The true story of the doctor, reformer and Civil War hero. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-4990-2. Illustrated by Carlo Molinari.
Many people were surprised to see a woman wearing the Medal of Honor, the highest award a war veteran can receive. Usually men were the only ones to receive that special honor. Mary Edwards Walker was taught to think for herself. She wore pants at a time when most women only wore dresses. Mary campaigned for equal rights and opposed slavery. She was one of the first female doctors and served her country during the Civil War caring for wounded soldiers. This story shows how Mary Walker dealt with prejudice and scorn, but was a hero in the making. (JGL)
Harnnan, Peter. 2011. My big mouth: Ten songs I wrote that almost got me killed. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 235 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-16210-4.
Davis Delaware, the protagonist, is in the ninth grade and recently moved to a new school. As the new kid in school, Davis does not want to draw any attention to himself. All he wants to do is draw in his notebook make a few friends. But when Davis creates a band with his friends, suddenly his is king of the school. He even got the attention of the school bully, Gerald, who had decided that Davis is his next target. Peter Hannan when he authored this book when he was in ninth grade, just like Davis, which makes the story even more believable. His credits are impressive as a young artist and creator of the TV series CATDOG. (BNS)
Harper, Charise Mericle. 2014. Dreamer, wisher, liar. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 348 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-202675-0.
Ashley believes her summer will be nothing but disappointing; her best friend heads to camp and Ashley’s mother invites a 7-year-old named Claire for an extended visit. This coming of age story for adolescents (ages 7–13) includes multiple conflicts of person v. person, person v. self, and person v. society. The plot is in many ways similar to Holes (L. Sachar) and Oliver Twist (C. Dickens) because the characters and events are interrelated, much like a tapestry. The book is a mixture of fantasy, mystery, and realistic fiction, and will be suitable as a suspenseful read-aloud. (DLN)
Harper, Charise Mericle. 2011. Just Grace and the double surprise. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 176 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-37026-2.
The newest edition to the Just Grace series, Just Grace and the double surprise, tells the story of Grace and her best friend Mimi. Mimi’s family is adopting a baby girl, and Mimi excited to finally have a sister. But Mimi gets a big surprise when she finds out that her parent’s aren’t adopting a girl, they are adopting a boy. In addition to Mimi’s surprise, Grace finds out that she is getting a surprise too. Her dad takes her to find a dog, but even though the dog is a girl, she only responds to the name Mr. Scruffles. The two friends must work together to adjust to their surprises and make the best of them. A good book for young girls adjusting to changes in their own lives. (BNS)
Harper, Charise Mericle. 2010. Just Grace and the terrible tutu. Harper, Charise Mericle. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-255-3362). 176 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-541-15224-1.
Grace’s best friend Mimi is about to get a new adopted sibling. As preparations commence, preparing the room for the arrival of this new family member, the girls prepare by spending time with her 4-year-old neighbor, Lily. Lily likes Grace immediately, but doesn’t take any interest in Mimi, which causes her to doubt her ability to be a good big sister. Lily starts following Grace everywhere, and Grace can’t escape her. Grace tries to help Mimi and Lily become friends by inviting them both for a sleepover. Grace can only hope that this will end well. This book is a good example of healthy preadolescent behavior with a positive ending. (BNS)
Hathaway, Jill. 2013. Imposter. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer+Bray). [email protected] (212-207-7000). 272 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207798-1.
Whoa! Say “hello” to a very good psychological thriller. Vee Bell continues her unique ability to “slide” into somebody else’s being. This time, however, new dangers arise. Vee now suspects that what she could do to others, somebody is doing to her. In other words, somebody has seemingly slipped into Vee’s body and committed a crime. Vee may have nabbed her guy, but the life of another now hangs in the balance. Just when Vee realizes her body was being used and wonders by whom; her boyfriend has a suspicious “girl” friend, her long lost aunt shows up unannounced, her sister is overly accommodating, a strange lady appears in her life, and her father begins exhibiting bizarre behaviors of his own. A hodge-podge of themes such as love, trust, betrayal, insecurity, comeuppance, and vengeance can be used as teaching points in the classroom. This book is intense enough to make you want to yell, “I didn’t do it!” Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Henkes, Kevin. 2013. The year of Billy Miller. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 229 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-226812-9.
Billy Miller is worried about many things, including beginning the second grade. The story, set in Wisconsin, portrays a young boy with a loving, supportive, and unique family. Billy’s mother is a high school English teacher and his father is a struggling artist who works at home and takes care of household responsibilities, and Billy’s younger sister, Sal. While this would be an ideal read-a-loud in a second grade classroom, young boys, ages 6 – 8, may find they connect with Billy as he faces multiple challenges and rewards. (DLN)
Higgins, Ryan. 2013. Wilfred. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3732-7.
Wilfred is a huge, hairy giant who just wants a friend. But the bald townspeople just want hair on their heads! Wilfred finds one friend, and the townspeople find a way to convince Wilfred to share his hair – all of it. The unexpected consequences are nearly fatal for Wilfred and his friend, but the townspeople rally when they understand the effects of their greed. The story is suitable for discussions about friendship, heroes, and greed, with at least one opportunity for problem solving. (DLN)
Holm, Jennifer L. 2011. The trouble with May Amelia. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 204 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1373. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson.
May Amelia lives in the 1900’s at a time of increased immigration, when immigrant families must try to assimilate to life in America. With seven brothers and a father who declares that “Girls are Useless”, she has trouble finding her identity in a new place. May Amelia is to blame when the family falls victim to a real estate scam, and must do whatever she can to make things right. As a result, she learns that she has more sisu (Finnish for guts) than all of her brothers. A wonderful read for young ladies who are searching for their own identity. (BNS)
Hopkinson, Deborah. 2013. Knit your bit: A World War I story. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). insidesales @us.penguingroup.com, (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25241-9. Illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia.
In this historical fiction, a Mikey’s father leaves to fight as a soldier overseas. Mikey does not want to learn to knit like his sister, because he thinks knitting is a “girl thing”. A soldier he meets encourages him to knit and tells him how good warm socks feel when it is cold. After this encounter, Mikey takes an interest in knitting,and there is even a contest at school that yields some interesting results. Read to find out how knitting can be a great hobby for anyone. (JGL)
Jenkins, Celeste. 2012. The lost (and found) balloon. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6697-5. Illustrated by Maria Bogade.
Molly O’Doon ties a note filled with questions to her red balloon and sends it up into the sky to see who will find it. She hopes to find a “balloon pen pal”. The balloon travels above trees, over fields, and is blown to its final location. A great book to read aloud. (JGL)
Idle, Molly. 2013. Tea rex. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01430-9.
Who would you invite to an afternoon tea party? Most of us would invite neighbors or friends, but what about inviting a dinosaur? This delightful book gives examples of how to be a perfect host or hostess, despite a few distractions. (J
Jenkins, Steve. 2013.The animal book: A collection of the fastest, fiercest, toughest, cleverest, shyest – and most surprising – animals on earth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 208 pp. $21.99. ISBN 978-0-547-55799-1.
This non-fiction informational book should be in many libraries and school classrooms because of its illustrations, descriptions, facts, glossary, steps in writing/making books, and bibliography. Jenkin’s text and pictures of 300 animals is a perfect complement to science curriculums, but also suitable for any person learning English as another language. (DLN)
Jiang, Ji-li. 2013. Red kite, blue kite. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion). disney.go.com, (877-378-6990). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142312753-6. Illustrated by Greg Ruth.
Flying a kite makes Tai and his father feel free. Tai’s father Baba is sent to a labor camp to work and can only visit his son on Sundays. The two of them keep in touch by flying their kites to communicate. They both long for the day when the revolution ends and they will be together and free! This is an excellent read for anyone who is feeling oppressed and seeking freedom. (JGL)
Joyner, Andrew. 2011. Boris gets a lizard. Scholastic. Inc (Branches). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 72 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-48447-4.
Boris the warthog loves his pets! All he needs now to complete his collection is a Komodo dragon. Unfortunately, his parents deny his request after he tells his classmates that he was getting one. Boris begins problem-solving by writing a letter to the zoo to ask if he can borrow their komodo. When he is politely declined, Boris needs to think of another plan. The text is easy to read, the pictures are brilliantly colored, and the situation is age-appropriate and comical. Elementary students will enjoy learning about problem solving, and middle school students would probably read this overnight if assigned by a teacher. Recommended for grades K-3 and as a middle school exercise. (ADA)
Jordan, Sophie. 2014. Uninvited. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 372 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-223365-3.
Davy Hamilton has a perfect life until she is genetically tested and finds out that she has the “kill gene.” She is, according to her DNA, destined to become a killer. She is immediately ostracized, but Davy doesn’t feel like a killer. This dystopian novel raises an interesting question: do our genes determine our whole future? Unfortunately, the novel sacrifices thoughtfulness in favor of fast pace and romance. Despite its weaknesses, Uninvited is an exciting page-turner that lovers of dystopian novels will enjoy. (MC)
Kalman, Maira. (1999). Next stop grand central. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (Nancy Paulsen Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-22926-8.
Reprinted in celebration of the 100 year anniversary of NYC’s Grand Central Station, Kalman captures the vitality of a city landmark and the diversity of people who pass through the station. Pages convey dynamic activities, characters, and historical factoids. Children and adults may enjoy comparing the events in Grand Central with activities in other stations throughout the world. (DLN)
Kessler, Jackie Morse. 2012. Loss. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (graphia). [email protected], (800-255-3362). 272pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-547-71215-4.
The book centers on a fifteen year old male named Billy Ballard who is constantly bullied. This changes drastically when he realizes that he has been affected by the supernatural, which he begins using to torment his oppressors. This theme is a reinvention of several often used themes, however in this case Billy is appalled by his actions and seeks to remedy his actions. Finally, an antagonist is introduced who makes all the atrocities of humankind seem mild, and only Billy can stop this force. Those that enjoy supernatural thrillers will find this book captivating, however this reviewer found the theme a bit overused. (BNS)
Kimmelman, Leslie. 2013. Sam and Charlie (and Sam too!). Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 48 pp. $13.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-7213-9. Illustrated by Stefano Tambellini.
Sam has a new neighbor named Charlie, who is actually a ‘she.’ The book contains five short stories about the two friends and how they learn to deal with differing opinions in a friendship. This book illustrates how disagreements and differences can actually strengthen friendships. (JGL)
Klein, Lisa. 2013. Love disguised. Bloomsbury Publishing (Childrens’ Books). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 320 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-59990-968.
While not a perfect fit in the historical fiction genre, the plot and conflicts of this story will move the reader through multiple “what if” scenarios about William Shakespeare at age 18 before he married Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The London setting, as well as complex characters, intrigue, deceit, friendship will appeal to young and old. (DLN)
Krull, Kathleen. 2013. Benjamin Franklin. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 121pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-670-0-01287-9. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov.
Kathleen Krull presents Benjamin Franklin as a true “Giant of Science” and provides many interesting facts about his contributions to science and his life. Benjamin Franklin lived to 84 years at a time when most people did not live past 40. He sought to use the benefits of science to make life more enjoyable and safe for others. Ben was self-educated (his formal education ended at age 10), and he read everything he could get his hands on. Since he loved swimming, it was natural that his first inventions were flippers for his feet and paddles for his hands. When Franklin was 46, he conducted his famous kite experiment and also invented the lightning rod. He also established the first hospital and even invented bifocals. At age 59, Benjamin Franklin became a diplomat and his political life continued until he was 81 years old at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. His productive life ended when he died at age 84. Twenty thousand people attended his funeral in Philadelphia to honor the man who contributed so much to the making of America. (JGL)
LaFevers, Robin. 2012. His fair assassin book I: Grave mercy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 528 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-544-02249-2.
LaFevers, Robin. 2013. His fair assassin book II: Dark triumph. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 400 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-544-22720-0.
LaFevers, Robin. 2014. His fair assassin book III: Mortal heart. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 464 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-62840-0.
Female adult readers ages 14 and up who thrive on paranormal historical fantasy will enjoy the trilogy of His Fair Assassin. The story is set in the late 15th century in Brittany, and female assassins serve as the main characters, akin to Katniss in the Hunger games. Unlike Katniss, however, each of the main characters (Ismae in book II, Sybella in book II, and Annith in book III) are members of the convent of St. Mortain, the god of death in a fictitious pantheon of the ‘nine old gods of Brittany.’ The plots in each book evolve quickly, and Ismae, Sybella, Annith, eventually demonstrate veracity, keen intellect, independent spirit, curiosity, and an ability to question authority. (DLN)
Lammle, Leslie. 2014. Princess wannabe. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-125197-9.
Fern loves to read, especially books about princesses. One day, Fem accidentally falls into a book and meets a fairy godmother who sends her on a path to meet a princess. Children ages 4–8 with a background in fairy tales will recognize the characters Fern meets on her way to the castle to meet the Princess. The characters Fem meets, however, are refreshingly different than those in the traditional tales, for example, the wolf is kindly and gently pig-sitting three baby pigs. When Fern finally meets the princess, she has one question: “What is it really like to be a princess?” Fern is surprised by the answer, but avid readers will be pleased to learn the princess’ real desire. (DLN)
Landalf, Helen. 2011. Flyaway. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 167 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-51073-9.
Flyaway depicts a young girl, Stevie, whose judgement is clouded by her desire to protect and justify her mother’s actions. Stevie’s mother is a drug addict, who often disappears for days at a time. When her mom disappears again, Stevie’s aunt Mindy makes Stevie come stay with her. Stevie goes with Aunt Mindy so she will not call Child Protective Services, but claims that she will be back home when her mother returns. But when Stevie begins helping out at a rehab center, she begins to see things differently. Suddenly, life with Aunt Mindy doesn’t seem so bad in comparison to a life like those she has seen at the rehab center. But how can a life be good without her mother in it? This book is a good example of how teenagers cope with tough situations they don’t completely understand. (BNS)
Larson, Kirby. 2013. Duke. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). www.scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 240 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-41637-5.
Based on the factual events of WWII but with fictional characters, Duke is the realistic story of an eleven-year-old boy named Hobie who contributes to the war effort by donating his German shepherd to the marines. Hobie is troubled by his decision and tries to get his dog back, but Duke ends up in a combat unit in Guam. Other issues also trouble Hobie and he is concerned about his father in a prisoner of war camp, as well as his friendships, the war, and his family. Young boys ages 9–12 with pets or parents serving in the military may connect with Hobie and his brave, selfless acts. (DLN)
Lean, Sarah. 2013. A hundred horses. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 224 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-212229-2.
While her mother prepares for an important conference, Nell spends spring break on a farm in the country with two cousins and an aunt she knows only by name. Farm life is new to Nell, as are the unique relationships she develops with her aunt, cousins, Angel, a mysterious foster girl who is the same age as Nell, and Rita, a woman who recently lost her husband. Nell also grows to know multiple animals, including 100 horses, a goat, pigs, chickens, and goslings. Multiple plots and themes and the integrating of various interpretations of a fairy tale about 100 horses will captivate young female readers, ages 8 – 12. (DLN)
Lester, Helen. 2013. A porcupine named Fluffy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-00319-4 (1986). Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
Fluffly, a porcupine, is prickly, not fluffy as his name implies. Fluffy is unhappy with his name and struggles with understanding with who he really is. He finally comes to terms with his unusual name when he meets a rhinoceros called Hippo. Children ages 3 – 6 will recognize the need to be true to themselves regardless of their given names. (DLN)
Lester, Helen. 2013. It wasn’t my fault. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-00323-1 (1985). Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
Murdley Gurdson is convinced that his many accidents are not his fault. Although the book suggests the theme is accepting responsibility, readers ages 3 – 6, may view the sequence of unfortunate events as having cause and effect relationship. (DLN)
Lester, Helen. 2013. Listen, Buddy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-00322-4 (1995). Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
Buddy learns to listen only after the loud, boisterous, obnoxious Scruffy Varmint tries to make Buddy, a bunny, the main ingredient in his soup. The loud threats of Scruffy will not be appropriate messages to send to children with listening challenges, but the book was first published in an era less cognizant of literature appropriate for children with special learning needs. (DLN)
Lester, Helen. 2013. Me first. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-00321-7 (1992). Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.
First is not always best or wisest as Pinkerton discovers when he insists on being first to care for a sandwich. In this case, the sandwich happens to be a witch named Sandwich. As Pinkerton cares for Sandwich, he recognizes the folly of always being first. A downloadable audio is available for young readers ages 3 – 6. (DLN)
Lindman, Maj. 2013. Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the little dog. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 32 pp. $9.99, ISBN 978-0-8075-2509-8 (1946).
Lindman, Maj. 2013. Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the strawberries. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 32 pp. $9.99, ISBN 978-0-8075-2512-8 (1946).
Lindman, Maj. 2013. Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and the three kittens. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 32 pp. $9.99, ISBN 978-0-8075-2515-9 (1941).
Lindman, Maj. 2013. Flicka, Ricka, Dicka bake a cake. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-225-7675). 32 pp. $9.99, ISBN 978-0-8075-2509-8 (1955).
Triplets Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka immigrated from Sweden to the United States, and are very blonde with blue eyes. The girls dress alike, play together without fighting, and work together to reach common goals, such as baking a birthday cake for their mother, taking care of a neighbor’s cat, picking wild strawberries, and even rescuing a little dog. The illustrations, plots, settings, characterization, and themes may appeal to immigrants of Swedish descent and others interested in reading stories from the mid 1900s. (DLN)
Lithgow, John. 2013. Never play music right next to the zoo. Simon & Schuster (Books for Young Readers), [email protected] Schuster.com, (800-223-2336). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6743-9. Illustrated by Leeza Henandez.
Although this book targets youngsters ages 2–6, the lyrical text and illustrations are ideal for children of all ages who are interested in music and musical instruments. A young boy falls asleep while attending an evening outdoor concert with his family and dreams that animals are the musicians playing the instruments. The scenario of a youngster falling asleep at a concert is credible, and dreaming about a more lively, appealing performance by four-legged animals, seems appropriate for the perspective of a six-year old boy. (DLN)
Liu, Julia. 2013. Gus the dinosaur bus. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90573-0. Illustrated by Bei Lynn.
Gus is a dinosaur serving as a bus to transport children from their homes to school. However, because Gus is huge, he causes accidents en route to school. The accidents prompt complaints and eventually the school principal fires Gus. However, as in life, when one door closes, another opens, and Gus finds new ways to serve the schoolchildren. (DLN)
Lobel, Arnold. 2014. Frog and Toad storybook treasury. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 254 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-229258-2.
Four Frog and Toad books- Frog and Toad are friends (1970), Frog and Toad together (1971, 1972), Frog and Toad all year (1976), and Days with Frog and Toad (1979)- are included in this collection of stories about two best friends forever (Lobel, 1933 – 1987). Although the size and weight of the book and pages are a bit unwieldy for small hands, fans of Frog and Toad, will appreciate the four stories together in one collection. (DLN)
Lord, Cynthia. 2014. Half a chance. Scholastic, Inc. (Scholastic Press). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 218 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-03533-0.
The tapestry of multiple conflicts told through the lens of Lucy’s camera (person v. person, person v. self, person v. society, and person v. nature) contributes to an endearing and enduring young adult novel for readers 8 and older. All of the characters exhibit emotional growth and development throughout the story, including Nate’s grandmother, Grandma Lilah, who is experiencing memory loss, and Ansel, Lucy’s dog. The loons on the lake also change, but the change is predictable given their habitat, habits, and migratory patterns. The characters and their behaviors are credible, challenging readers to think about family, friendship, honesty, integrity, loss, and the powerful idea that art reflects life. (DLN)
Magoon, Kekla. 2011. Camo girl. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 218 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7804-6.
The story revolves around two best friends, Ella and Z, both of whom are outside the circle of “normal”. Ella is the only black student in school and Z lives in a fantasy world, where he stars as a knight. These traits isolate both of them from the rest of the student body. Although Zeke is content with this fact, Ella desperately wishes she could be popular. This all changes when Bailey, another black student comes to their school. Bailey is a great athlete and becomes very popular. He befriends Ella, who finally has a chance to be popular. But to become popular, Ella must leave Z behind. Each of the main characters is challenged with choices which affects the “old” and the “new”. What each of them does not realize is that across racial boundaries, there lies a deeper sense of community and friendship. This is an excellent social commentary on several aspects of our existing communities. (BNS)
Manning, Jane. 2012. Millie fierce. Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25642-4. Illustrated by Jane Manning.
Mille does like feeling like a smudge. Tired of being treated like a nobody, she becomes fierce, frizzling her hair, filing her nails to a tiny point, and even painting her dog’s face blue. As she dioes more things to get attention, Mille notices people still won’t pay much attention to her at all. Millie discovers that being fierce isn’t all that she thought it would be. (JGL)
Marsoli, Lisa. 2014. Frozen sing-along storybook. Disney Press. www.disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 128 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1484-72035. Illustrated by the Disney Storybook Art Team. Music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Typical of Disney fairytales, good overcomes evil, and love overcomes hate and despair in this story. However, before the happy ending, readers, ages 6–8 will experience the loss, deceit, loneliness, and rejection among the characters Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Sven, Olaf, and Hans. Children familiar with the music can sing along with the instrumental CD because the lyrics are included at the end of the story. (DLN)
Martin, Bill Jr., and Michael Sampson. 2014. Chicka chicka 1-2-3. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 36 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-0056-5 (2004). Illustrated by Lois Ehlert.
As a board concept book of numbers, this edition is suitable for children 0–3. The bold, vivid colors make numbers and objects pop, and the pictures are large enough for children to identify, even though the design of the bees and the tree are abstract v. realistic. (DLN)
May, Kyla. 2013. Coco: My Delicious Life. Scholastic. Inc (Branches). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 88 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-44514-6.
Save the snails! This second book in Scholastic’s “Branches” series begins with main character Coco convincing her friends, members of their Lotus Lane Girls Club (LLGC) to organize a bake sale in order to raise money for a vegetable garden that will ultimately be used to save the snails. A breezy, illustrated diary with a great message about friendship and teamwork, this book could be used to teach part of a character education unit. Highly recommended for grades K-3. (ADA)
May, Kyla. 2013. Kiki: My stylish life. Scholastic. Inc (Branches). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 88 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-44512-2.
Best friends Kiki, Coco, and Lulu must decide if they want a new inductee in their LLGC (Lotus Lane Girls Club). A school fashion project creates tension when Kiki and the new girl Mika find that there is room in the fashion world for similar products. Will Kiki cast her vote against allowing Mika into their new club all because of this fashion faux pas? The character development is lacking, but the plot is simple and realistic. English teachers may wish to use this book as an example to encourage their female students to keep a diary. Recommended for grades K-3. (ADA)
McDonnel, Christine. 2014. Dog wants to play. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Viking). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01633-4 (2009). Illustrated by Jeff Mack.
This board book, an abridged version of the original picture book, captures the feel of rhyme and verse as well as portraying the dog’s disappointment, perhaps the most memorable elements of the story published in 2009. One animal after another says “no” when asked to play; the kitten is afraid, the lamb is too shy, the hare is scared, and the chick is too small, but finally, the dog finds an animal willing to play all day – a young boy. (DLN)
McGowan, Jennifer. 2013. Maid of secrets. Simon & Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 432 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4139-2.
Set in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1559), the story centers around a fictitious maid of honor, Meg, who uses her talents as a spy and pick-pocket to protect the crown. Woven throughout the plot is Meg’s attraction towards a Spanish courtier. Female readers ages 14 and up with interest in romantic, historical novels may want to add Maids of secrets to their personal libraries. (DLN)
McKay, Hilary. 2006. Caddy ever after. Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 218 pp. $15.95. ISBN 978-1-4169-0930-9.
The Casson family is full of wit and charm. Siblings Rose, Indigo, Saffy, and Caddy are each looking for a date to their school’s Valentine’s Day dance. Each sibling has a clever way of outdoing the other until Caddy makes a daring decision. She claims to have found the”Real Thing”. Unfortunately, things are seldom as they seem,but the results are comical. (BNS)
McMullen, Nigel. 2014. Let’s dance, grandma! HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-050747-3.
Lucy loves to dance and wants her grandma to dance with her. Grandma usually says no, because dancing is tiring. Oddly, she plays a number of physically active games with Lucy before she takes a nap. Just when Lucy realizes her grandmother’s physical limitations, Grandma surprises Lucy and the world of readers. The story is quite charming, reflecting the fondness and love of a young child and her grandmother, and it will appeal to readers ages 3–8 and their grandmothers. (DLN)
Meyer, Carolyn. 2013. Beauty’s Daughter: The story of Hermione and Helen of Troy. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-225-3362). 337 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-10862.
While a discrepancy or two exist between the stories of Hermoine in Heroides and the Iliad, the tale of the daughter of Helen of Troy is one of adventure, abandonment, despair, brutality, and love. According to Greek mythology, Hermoine is left behind when her father, King Menelaus of Sparta, sails to Troy to bring back his wife Helen, who fled with Paris to Troy. In this fictional account for young adults, Hermoine stows away in one of the ships and sails to Troy with the fleet of Greek soldiers. The majority of characters will be familiar to fans of Greek Mythology and readers interested in the cause and effects of The Trojan War. (DLN)
Monaghan, Annabelle. 2012. A girl named Digit: She’s got your number. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 192 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-66852-9.
Farah “Digit” Higgins has incredible analytical math abilities, and can memorize and apply numerical sequences to current events. When she accidentally cracks a terrorist’s number sequence, she suddenly finds herself in a lot of trouble. What unfolds is a spellbinding account of a search to find the real “traitor”. What Farah comes to realize is that through the search for justice and security from those chasing her, she finds herself actually living for the first time. This book is highly recommended! (BNS)
Moragne, Wendy. 2011. Diseases and disorders: Depression. Lerner Publishing Group (Twenty First Century Books). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 128 pp. $25.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5882-4.
Diseases and Disorders is a series about health disorders commonly found in society. About 121 million in the world people are clinically depressed. It is a disorder which affects the daily life and functions of those who suffer from it. The reader will follow the affects of this disease in five young people featured in the book. Facts are also presented which help to identify the disorder and ways to aid in the recovery of those affected. (BNS)
Moriarty, Chris. 2011. The inquisitor’s apprentice. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Childrens Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 356 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-58135-4.
This novel brings to life a wonderful story about a young Jewish boy’s experiences after it is discovered that he can see witches. Sacha is apprenticed to New York’s star Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf. The primary job of the Inquisitors is to prevent magical crime. Soon Sacha is teamed up with another apprentice Lily Astral. Their first assignment is to find out who is trying to kill Thomas Edison. The motives for assassinating Edison and their outcomes surprise even Sacha. Set in a period of US history when every ethnic group had its own characteristics and “magic”, this novel will entice young readers to explore their own imagination. A great read! (BNS)
Murray, Alison. 2013. Little mouse. Disney Book Group. disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142314330-7.
Young readers ages 2–7 may relate to the girl in the story who questions her nickname of ‘Little Mouse.’ While she may be like a little mouse when sitting quietly on her mother’s lap, she also has other characteristics. For example she is tall like a giraffe, strong like an ox, eats like a horse, is brave like a lion, and can be as loud as an elephant. Each characteristic is associated with an animal, but her affectionate attribute is associated with her mother as her “Little Mouse.” (DLN)
National Wildlife Federation. 2014. My first book of baby animals. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-225-3214). 24 pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-62354-028-9.
Magnificent photographs of baby animals introduce children, ages 6 months – 3, to numerous wild animals and their “infant” names, such as fox (kit), lion (cub), and rabbit (bunny). In addition to the opportunity for caregivers to develop the vocabulary of youngsters, the books invite readers to guide children through various cognitive operations, including observing and classifying animals of different species. (DLN)
National Wildlife Federation. 2014. My first book of wild animals. Charlesbridge (Imagine!). [email protected], (800-225-3214). 24 pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-62354-029-6.
Another set of stellar pictures introduce wild animals to youngsters, ages 6 months – 3 years. The animals are similar to those in My first book of baby animals, with some differences. Among the animals pictured are a wolf, lion, zebra, and moose. (DLN)
Nees, Susan. 2013. Missy’s super duper royal deluxe: Class pets. Scholastic. Inc (Branches). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 72 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-43852-0.
The super-duper-royal-deluxe way to best bullies is to beat them at their own game, and this is exactly what Missy does in this story. Missy wants to bring home a few of the class pets. She prepares her bedroom, organizes food for her critter guests, and uses every tactic she knows (asking, begging, and annoying) to get her mom to agree. There is big trouble when new girl Tiffany wants the pets, too. Now Missy must figure out a way to get the pets. In this excellent, colorful, and jazzy read, kids will learn that a simple change in semantics can get them what they want. Recommended for grades K-3. (ADA)
Nees, Susan. 2013. Missy’s super duper royal deluxe: Picture day. Scholastic. Inc (Branches). scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 72 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-43851-3.
It will soon be picture day, and Missy has thought about her outfit morning, noon, and night. Her outfit is sure to dazzle, with its ruffles, sparkles, and wild colors! However, Missy’s mom has a different, more conservative outfit in mind. Missy may be independent and headstrong, but she dresses as her mom says at home. During school, however, she has a different idea in mind, involving her friend Oscar, her cat Pink. The text and plot are easy to digest, and the pictures and speech bubbles will be easily recognizable to readers. This book has got some pep to its step—enough for kids to laugh out loud—and is a good, relaxing read. Recommended for grades K-3. (ADA)
Nelson, Kadir. 2014. Baby Bear. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], 212-207-7000. 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-224172-6.
Baby Bear is lost but with words of wisdom and guidance from his dear friends, Mountain Lion, Frog, Squirrels, Moose, Ram, Owl, and Salmon, he finds his way home. The stunning illustrations convey Baby’ Bears’ emotions well. The dark and foreboding colors express Baby Bears’ sadness, fear, despair, and loss. Darkness pervades until the last scene when Baby Bear is home. Then Baby Bears’ happiness is evident by the rainbow, a bright blue sky, and a lively green and tan landscape. Finally, the yellow and white blazing sun in the horizon in the end pages symbolizes peace, tranquility, joy, and contentment. All is well because Baby Bear found his way home. (DLN)
Nelson, Peter and Rohitash Rao. 2013. Herbert’s wormhole: Aerostar and the 3 1/2 –point plan of vengeance. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 346 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-201220-3.
Three feuding “Alienslayers,” Herbert, Alex, and Sammi desire to part ways until a 111 year old alien needs to be humbled. Future Merwinsville G’Dalien GOR-DON, a once friendly and peaceful alien, has fallen in love with AeroStar. This love can be achieved by following through with AreoStar’s plan: GOR-DON must befriend and betray the aliens of Merwinsville, destroy the city, and ship the city’s resident’s (aka The G’Dalien’s) somewhere else. More interested in AeroStar’s love than becoming the ruler of future Earth, GOR-DON apologizes and seeks the Alienslayer’s help. Alex needs to overcome his attitude and future addictions, Herbert must repair his Universe Perspective Enhancer, and Sammi must face and defeat her future self. Let’s not forget GOR-DON—he’s been the bad guy throughout this Herbert’s Wormhole trilogy. Will he make peace in this last book, or continue down the same path? Lots of “tenses” are at stake: the past, present, and future. History, language arts, and earth science teachers could assign this read and parallel its contents within their own classrooms. This book, along with the rest of the trilogy, is recommended for grades 7-9. (ADA)
Nelson-Schmidt, Michelle. (2014). Bob is a unicorn. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 28 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-155-2.
Youngsters ages 3–7 will definitely relate to Bob and his insistence that he is a unicorn, even though Bob and his friends know he is not. The readers will recognize Bob’s confidence and hopefully connect with his power of imagination. (DLN)
Nolan, Han. 2011. Pregnant pause. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt). [email protected] 340pp.$16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-206570-6.
Eleanor Crowe has a mind of her own. She usually makes decisions based on who she can annoy the most, which usually ends badly for those involved. Elly is 16-and-pregnant, and her opinion does not matter to those telling her what to do. She marries the father of her child, and delivers the baby, who has Down’s Syndrome. The biggest question facing Elly is what she is going to do with the baby. Against the advice of her parents, the father of the child, and his parents, she sets forth on a path to take care of the baby. How she completes the task is a surprise, especially to the father’s parents. This is a wonderful story of determination and true grit. (BNS)
Novesky, Amy. 2013. Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the dog who loved her. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-205806-7. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Billie Holiday (1915-1959) was a phenomenal jazz singer known for her love of dogs, unique sense of musical style, and clothing. This biography of Billie Holiday will be an excellent, informative complement to any music curriculum. A talented jazz musician, Billie also struggled with abandonment, loss, depression, and drug addiction. While the story alludes to her prison sentence, the text only mentions she left her beloved ‘Mister’ for a year. However, the endnotes elaborate on the life of Billie Holiday and explain the reason for the sentence. (DLN)
O’Connor, Jane. 2014. Fancy Nancy’s fabulous fall storybook collection. HarperCollins. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 192 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-006228884-4. Pictures based on the art of Robin Preiss Glasser.
This themed collection of Fancy Nancy stories includes: Fancy Nancy: Halloween… or Bust! (2009), Fancy Nancy: Fancy Day in Room 1-A(2012), Fancy Nancy: Splendid Speller (2011), and many more. Children ages 3–8 familiar with Fancy Nancy will recognize the stories and appreciate the collection’s focus on events and colors associated with fall, school and family activities. (DLN)
O’Connor, Jane. 2013. Nancy Clancy sees the future. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 128 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-208297-8.
This is the third title in the Nancy Clancy chapter book series. Fans of Nancy Clancy will appreciate yet another adventure with one of their favorite characters. Although not as colorful as the Nancy Clancy picture books, the language remains engaging and instructional, e.g., “Mrs. DeVine taught me how to make sachet. That’s the French word for a little bag of dead flowers. You can also mix in pieces of cinnamon sticks and cloves to make the aroma more delightful” (p.15). (DLN)
Ode, Eric. 2014. Busy trucks on the go. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-287-0. Illustrated by Kent Culotta.
Youngsters ages 3–8 with an interest in trucks will appreciate each of the different trucks included in this book, such as an excavator, a dump truck, and a concrete mixer. The rhyming verses and illustrations will help youngsters remember the names and functions of each vehicle. (DLN)
Oliver, Lauren. 2014. Panic. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 408 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-201455-9.
High school seniors in the poor town of Carp have a dangerous tradition: a life-threatening game called Panic. The winner of the game gets an enormous cash prize, and in a town where futures are limited, people will do almost anything to win. The story centers around two seniors, Heather and Dodge, who compete in the series of dangerous challenges. This novel is tense, bleak, and unpredictable, and readers will be on the edge of their seats. Recommended for high school readers who enjoy thrillers or dystopian fiction. (MC)
Pallotta, Jerry. 2013. Butterfly colors and counting. [email protected], (800-225-3214). 10 pp. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-57091-899-5. Illustrated by Shennen Bersani.
Ten different butterflies of a variety of colors will capture the attention of infants and toddlers in this durable concept board book full of counting and colors. In this book, the numbers 1-10 correspond with the colors red, blue, green, purple, orange, black, white, brown, yellow, and pink. (DLN)
Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia hits the trail. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209527-5. Illustrated by Lynn Avril.
Parish, Herman. 2014. Amelia Bedelia joins the club. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-222131-5. Illustrated by Lynn Avril.
Beginning readers, primarily girls ages 4 – 8, who enjoy a young, precocious Amelia Bedelia will want to pick up these two new Level 1 I can read, books. According to the publisher, Beginning Reading 1 books include short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read independently. (DLN)
Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia storybook treasury. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 192 pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-06-228714-4. Illustrated by Lynn Avril.
Children, ages 4-6, fond of Amelia Bedelia and her antics as a young girl will enjoy this collection of five (5) stories: Amelia Bedelia’s first day of school (2009), Amelia Bedelia’s first field trip (2011), Amelia Bedelia makes a friend (2011), Amelia Bedelia sleeps over ( 2012), and Amelia Bedelia hits the trail (2013). A handful of games and puzzles augment each story, but librarians and teachers will not want readers to follow the directions of one of the games – asking readers to cut out clothes on the page to dress the paper doll who is Amelia Bedelia. Amelia’s struggles with idioms and word mix-ups make practicing reading comprehension fun, while also serving to expand vocabulary. (DLN)
Parker, Mary Jessie. 2013. The deep, deep puddle. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3765-5. Illustrated by Deborah Zemeke.
While this counting book from 1–12, and 12–1 is colorful and promotes the relationship between numbers and objects, the plot of animals, children, and even taxis sinking in a large puddle of water may be terrifying to young readers who understand the devastating effects of tsunamis, hurricanes, and other major, water-bearing storms. Eventually, the puddle disappears, and all characters move on with their lives. However, the final scene in the book reveals the formation of another large puddle. (DLN)
Phillips, Linda Vigen. 2014. Crazy. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. [email protected]com, (800-253-7521). 320 pp. $9.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5437-7.
Knowledge and attitudes about mental illness in the 1960s were drastically different than they are today. Readers will share Laura’s fears as she struggles with her identity, her future, and her mother’s mental health issues throughout this story written in poetic verse. Laura, age 15, is also dealing with the teenage challenges of classes, teachers, friends, relationships, and family. (DLN)
Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 128 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-545-63009-2 (2000). Graphic art by Dan Santat.
Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot vs. the mutant mosquitoes from Mercury. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 128 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-545-63010-8 (2000). Graphic art by Dan Santat.
Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot vs. the voodoo vultures from Venus. Scholastic Inc. 128 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-545-63011-5 (2001). Graphic art by Dan Santat.
Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot vs. the mecha-monkeys from Mars. Scholastic Inc. 128 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-545-63012-2 (2002). Graphic art by Dan Santat.
Youngsters, ages 4–8, who enjoy graphic adventure novels will appreciate the reissuing of Pilkey and Santat’s Ricky Ricotta series. The books are easy-to-read without any of the stifling or artificial language often associated with leveled reading material. Each book includes “flip-o-rama,” page to page animations that complement the conflicts in each text. Astute readers will notice the cumulative nature of the stories if they carefully look at the inmates of the jail in each book. (DLN)
Pinborough, Jan. 2013. Miss Moore thought otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore created libraries for children. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 40 pp.$16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-47105-1. Illustrated by Debby Atwell.
Annie is not a typical girl of the 1870’s. She likes to be outdoors and does not prefer to do quiet activities inside the house. At that time, children were not able to go inside libraries because reading was not considered important, especially for girls. Annie’s goal is to be a lawyer, but her plans are detained. Eventually, she studies to be a librarian, and she even starts a “Bright Children’s Room” in New York where children can meet others and learn interesting things. More and more libraries then begin to include children’s rooms. (JG
Platt, Cynthia. 2013. Sweet dreams, Curious George. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-255-3362). 24 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-544-03880-6. Illustrated by Mary O-Keefe Young.
Written in the style of the original Curious George books by Margret and H. A. Rey, this is a story about the power of stories. After the man with the yellow hat reads him Chicken Little as a bedtime story, George is plagued with nightmares of the sky falling. Neither a second story nor a song can convince George the sky will not fall. Thankfully, the man with the yellow hat eventually assuages George’s fear and he snuggles into bed with sweet dreams. Youngsters ages 2–5 will connect with George’s nightmares, and teachers, librarians, and caregivers will be reminded of the power of story among children. (DLN)
Poblocki, Dan. 2013. The haunting of Gabriel Ashe. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). Scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 277 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-40270-5.
Eighth grader Gabriel Ashe and his family move into a haunted manor with Gabriel’s grandmother, and Gabe meets and befriends fellow eighth grader named Seth. Despite warnings about Seth from his friends, Gabe keeps some arranged “haunting” playdates. These playful encounters deal only with a supposed made up fantasy game where Gabe and Seth must save the vulnerable while evading the haunting Hunter. Suspense is evident all throughout, but truly begins when Gabe invites some classmates (excluding buddy Seth) over to his house. It doesn’t take long before loud noises surface, suspicions arise, and a life-sized puppet goes missing. Suspense escalates in the book’s middle with a reiteration of the night before, a confession to an adult, a mysterious missing figurine. A long-lost brother’s actions, an enticing game of imagination, and a haunting game collide in the real world with real consequences. All of these events make this book worthwhile in the English classroom, from beginning to middle to end. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Prelutsky, Jack. 2013. It’s Valentine’s Day. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 48 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-053712-8. Illustrated by Marylin Hafner.
Children ages 4 – 8 will be able to connect with the Valentine’s Day poems, reflecting the social behaviors of student in grades kindergarten – 3. As an I Can Read Level 3 book, students can expect advanced vocabulary, such as, fierce, weather, cupids, breath, unlawful, mailbox, etc., for independent level 3 readers. (DLN)
Rappaport, Doreen. 2013. To dare mighty things: The life of Theodore Roosevelt. Disney Book Group, disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 48 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142312488-7. Illustrated by C. F. Payne.
Children ages 7–12 will discover the challenges, interests, ambitions, characteristics, and achievements of Teddy Roosevelt as they read this biography of the 26th President of the United States. The facts of Roosevelt’s life are thoroughly researched, and the style and the varying fonts contribute to an understanding of the passion and compassion of the man, Theodore Roosevelt. (DLN)
Reef, Catherine. 2012. The Bronte sisters: The brief lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 240pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-57966-5.
The Bronte sisters spend a lot of time writing and creating imaginative stories in a place where writing was discouraged. Their father is a pastor who raised them with the help of his unmarried sister-in-law after his wife died. Charlotte and Anne try to earn money by being governesses and also teaching, but neither job proves to be successful for them. Their brother, Branwell, is fired from his teaching position and railroad job and dies at age 31. Writing is the most important activity for the sisters, even though literature was supposed the business of men. Emily writes the novel Wuthering Heights and Charlotte writes the famous book Jane Eyre, but both have to keep their identities a secret. Sadly, Emily dies at 30 years old and her sister Anne dies at age 29 of tuberculosis.You will want to read this book to find out what happens to Charlotte. The book may inspire you to read, or re-read, some of the Bronte books. (JGL)
Rippin, Sally. 2012. Hey Jack? The new friend. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 48 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-125-5 (2012). Illustrated by Stephanie Spartels.
The “Billie B. Brown” and “Hey Jack” books, first published in Australia, join other titles in their respective collections. As chapter books for readers ages 6–9, they contain characters, plots, and themes that mirror experiences children may have on their own, such as consequences of playing with scissors, friendship, serving as teacher’s helper, fear when forgetting to study for a test, adopting a pet, and worrying about fitting in. While the books about Jack may appeal more to boys, and Billie’s books may appeal more to girls, the two have remained best friends since they were babies and readers may enjoy all of the titles because they will recognize the long-lasting friendship of Billie and Jack. (DLN)
Roberts, Jeremy. 2011. The Beatles: Music revolutionaries. Lerner Publishing Group (Twenty First Century Books). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 112 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6421-4.
The Beatles, a USA Lifeline Biography, presents the group’s path from humble beginnings to international stardom. They began as merely an ambitious band out of Liverpool, who wanted to play American-style rock ‘n roll. Often rejected by producers, they were forced to perfect their sound and style while performing at small clubs in Germany and England. Then, in 1962, the musical group took the world by storm. This book traces the development of their music which has influenced many generations. A definite must for Beatles fans. (BNS)
Rockwell, Anne. 2014. Apples and pumpkins. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 24 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-9977-5 (1989). Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell.
Multiple concepts are included in this board book edition for youngsters ages 0–3 (first published as a hardcover in 1989). Children are introduced to a farm, with apples, geese, pumpkins and more. As caregivers read the book to children, they can also identify the colors, reinforcing the hues of fall. (DLN)
Rosen, Michael J., and Ben Kassoy. 2014. Strange Foods. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 32 pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0761389842. Illustrated by Doug Jones.
Coffee brewed from poop, toxic blowfish, and cheese crawling with maggots are just a few of the unusual foods the author candidly introduces to the reader. History, geography, and math are effectively hidden throughout this entertaining book that would certainly appeal to older elementary and middle school students. The author’s voice is inviting, casual, informative, and humorous. Readers are not only introduced to bizarre foods but also to novel vocabulary words and to the varied tastes of other countries. You do wonder as you read who ever thought of eating the first bite of each of these Strange Foods. (PAS)
Saab, Julie. 2014. Little Lola. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227457-1. Illustrated by David Gothard.
Little Lola may be a cat, but she goes to school with boys and girls. Given the activities portrayed in the text and the pictures, Lola is in either kindergarten or first grade. Lola loves school and demonstrates the value of learning, sharing, and cleaning-up after accidents. This is another back-to-school book for young readers ages 4–8 that celebrates the wondrous events that occur in a primary classroom. (DLN)
Sandler, Martin W. 2014. How the Beatles changed the world. Bloomsbury Publishing (Walker Books for Young Readers). [email protected], (212-419-5300). 176 pp. $20.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-35565-2
Beatlemania may be less intense today, but the Fab Four continue to influence popular music in the 21st century, over 50 years since the group started playing together. The Beatles were a phenomenal group, influencing music, clothing, hair styles, religion, and life in general. The photographs included in this book enhance and clarify the information in the book, bringing to life the rise and fall of one the greatest musical groups in the world. (DLN)
Sayre, April Pulley. 2014. Rah, rah, radishes! Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 34 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-44249927-0 (2011).
First published in 2011 as a Beach Lane Books hardcover, this board book edition is ideal for youngsters ages 0-3. The vivid pictures and the lyrical verse complement the theme of eating healthy foods, such as radishes, carrots, bok choy, and broccoli. In addition to the theme of promoting healthy eating, the pictures are an excellent medium for identifying the various vegetables. (DLN)
Schneider, Josh. 2014. Princess Sparkle-Heart gets a makeover. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-14228-2.
Amelia’s beloved rag doll, Princess Sparkle Heart is ripped apart one day by a very jealous dog. However, Amelia and her mother remake Princess Sparkle Heart and she becomes a much better, stronger, and braver doll; one able to deter even the aggressive behavior of a jealous dog. While it is important for youngsters to stand up to bullies, like the doll and the dog, it is also critical that the dolls do not become the aggressors. The last page of the story, however, suggests a satisfying resolution for Amelia, Princess Sparkle Heart, and the dog.
Scotton, Rob. 2013. Splat and the cool school trip. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-213386 -1.
Splat is excited because his class is going on a field trip to the zoo. However, his friend, Seymour, a mouse, cannot come with the class because the elephants at the zoo are afraid of mice. Seymour is determined to go to the zoo, and subsequent adventures cause the penguin exhibit to close. However, Seymour has a plan, and eventually Splat the Cat achieves his coveted Penguin Day. Splat and the Cool School Trip is the eighth Splat book, and is appropriate for readers ages 3-8. (DLN)
Schreiber, Joe. 2013. Lenny Cyrus: School virus. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 288 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-89315-0.
Lenny Cyrus, 13, comes by his intelligence naturally: both his parents are geniuses themselves. Rather than putting his skills to use at NASA, however, Lenny delves into his own project involving nanotechnology. His plan is to woo Zooey, the girl of his dreams, by shrinking himself down to a miniscule entity, traveling into Zoey’s brain, and implanting sweet nothings about himself. His mission begins successfully — slathering himself with a gooey outer layer, shrinking down to size, and getting his buddy Harlan to capsule him up and dump him into Zooey’s diet Coke. Immediately upon landing in Zooey’s stomach, Lenny meets Astro the friendly virus, who helps Lenny execute his plan. Together they navigate to Zooey’s ovaries for a hormone party before Lenny faces a dilemma—how to get through Zooey’s blood brain barrier. Astro is sure that a steroid molecule named Lug can assist them, but not before a little rewiring is done. When Zooey is presumed ill, best friend Harlan gets frustrated. Meanwhile, time is running out and Lenny begins to question his whole role in this mess. As a middle school science fiction book about the human body, this makes for a great read for any physical science or health classroom. Readers are bound to learn something when reading about viruses, aromatic hormones, and anthropomorphized cells. It’s funny, it’s engaging, and it’s told from three points of view. Learning something is inevitable. Recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Shepherd, Megan. 2014. Her dark curiosity. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 422 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-212805-8.
This is the sequel to The Madman’s Daughter, which was an interesting new perspective on the H.G. Wells classic, The Island of Doctor Moreau. Juliet Moreau returns to London from her now-deceased father’s island, but the macabre terror she encountered on the island seems to follow her. Several people close to Juliet are murdered in a vicious manner. This novel continues developing the Victorian horror element with similarities to Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, but it suffers from the addition of an unnecessary love triangle that eclipses the far more interesting horror elements. Fans of the first book may be disappointed at this second installment, but curious to see what happens next. (MC)
Shepard, Megan. 2013. The madman’s daughter. Harper Collins Publishing (Balzer + Bray). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 432 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-212802-7.
Readers will need to be wearing their thermals while reading this spine-chilling science fiction novel. Sixteen-year-old, London-born Juliet behaves badly, gets curious, and takes a risk that lands her on an isolated, tropical island. The story will go from good to great for readers, but it goes from bad to worse for Juliet upon meeting her father. Juliet first finds her supposed first-time introduction with character Edward mysterious. A reunion with her father’s assistant (and Juliet’s love interest) Montgomery, and the peculiar appearance of the insulars are just plain mad. This book could be taught in any literature classroom.The person versus god conflict could benefit any \ science, geography, and anatomy classroom as well. This book could even be discussed at book clubs, political get-togethers, or business gatherings.This book is crazy good, thoughtful, and mad! Highly recommended for grades 7-12. (ADA)
Shepard, Sara. 2013. Crushed: A pretty little liars novel. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeens). [email protected], (212-217-7000). 352pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-6219971-3.
Hannah, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a hunt. While most girls are looking for the perfect prom dress, these four girls are searching for the mysterious “A.” Each girl has a hidden secret, and the closer they get to learning the true identity of “A,” the more trouble comes to their door. A wonderful book for early teens. (BNS)
Shepard,Sara. 2013. Deadly: a pretty little liars novel. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 305pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-219974-4.
Teenage girls often form groups that lie to one another. This novel provides a good example of what can happen if lies depend on secrecy. Four girls are involved in a dangerous situation that eventually comes crashing down on them and their future. The girls lose everything: college enrollment, involvement in a political campaign, and Aria, the main antagonist, may even be deported. If Aria has her way, the four may have told their last lie. This novel is a wonderful example of how lying can be self destructive and create a world of its own. Highly recommended for middle school girls who are susceptible to peer pressure. (BNS)
Sohn, Tania. 2014. Socks! EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). www.edcpub.com, (800-475-4522). 36 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-244-3 (South Korea, 2014).
Children ages 2-5 who love socks will cherish this delightful story about a young girl and her love of socks. The story may promote conversations about patterns, colors, holiday, cultural traditions, and other personal, benign obsessions. (DLN)
Spiegler, Louise. 2011. The jewel and the key. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion). [email protected] 456pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-14979-3.
This book concludes a three part series that began with A Beautiful Dark. The protagonist, Skye, has been given the option of choosing sides, but she decides to create her own path. What she encounters threatens everything: her lover (who may be her biggest threat) and the relationship she has with family and friends. This story introduces a twist on an ongoing fascination with the “other” world. And though it is a fantasy, this book offers realistically intense personal changes and choices. Middle School girls enjoy the fantasy genre will find it an easy read. (BNS)
Standiford, Natalie. 2013. The boy on the bridge. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press), scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 256 pp. $17.99. ISBN 987-0-545-33481-5.
The plot moves quickly in this romantic novel about Laura, an American student studying in Russia and a native Russian young man known to his friends as Alyosha. The book includes conflicts of person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. society, and person vs. nature. Themes include not only friendship and love, but also loyalty and conformity. The risks friendship each other are high, and while readers are immersed in a blooming relationship, there is an underlying dark, fearful mood throughout the book. (DLN)
Stanley, Diane. 2013. The Princess of Cortova. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper), [email protected], (212-207-7000). 320 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-204730-4.
Although the conclusion of this final installment is rather abrupt, readers familiar with Molly and her magical gift will enjoy the intrigue, character development, plot, and magic in this low-fantasy novel for young adults ages 12–16. Molly is consistently honest, loyal, smart, crafty, and loving, with substantial insight into the world around her. She befriends Elizabetta, princess of Cortova, who is a pawn in a game of suitors orchestrated by her father, King Gonzalo. The outcome of the game may surprise yet satisfy devoted fans of the series. (DLN)
Stier, Catherine, 2013. Barnaby the bedbug detective. Albert Whitman & Company. [email protected], (800-255-7675). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-0904-3. Illustrated by Karen Sapp.
Rescue dogs save children, guide dogs lead the blind, and police dogs track thieves. What do dogs in pet shelters dream of doing? Barnaby has many high aspirations, but he never thought he would be going to “Bedbug-Sniffing School.” Read about Barnaby’s heroic efforts and learn many facts about the pesky bed bugs. (JGL)
Sutcliffe, William. 2013. The wall: A modern fable. Bloomsbury Publishing (Walker Books). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 304 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-3492-1.
While adults and young adults may immediately think about the Israeli/Palestinian division as they read The Wall, the book is a testament to the demoralizing and dehumanizing effect of domination, oppression, racism, and separation. Thirteen–year–old Joshua, finds a tunnel that leads him from his sheltered, middle class neighborhood to another part of the city, a section few people openly discuss. His journey is a coming-of-age story, not just for Joshua, but also for his mother. The book is an excellent medium for discussions about segregation, hate, and hope. (DLN)
Thomas Jr., Rich. 2014. Captain America: An origin story. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). disney.go.com, (887-318-6990). 48 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-14847003-0. Illustrated by Val Semeiks, Bob McLeod, Hi-Fi Design, and The Storybook Art Group. Based on the Marvel comic book series.
Thomas Jr., Rich. 2013. Thor. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). disney.go.com, (887-318-6990). 48 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-142317215-4. Illustrated by Val Semeiks and Hi-Fi Design. Based on the Marvel comic book series.
Readers familiar with the Marvel universe will find their favorite characters in these hardcover adaptations of stories featuring iconic Marvel heroes. New fans will discover interesting (although somewhat predictable) details about each character. However, one reason the Marvel stories are popular is because of the reliability and dependability of each hero. (DLN)
Thomson, Sarah L. 2013. Cub’s big world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). [email protected], (800-225-3362). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-05739-5). Illustrated by Joe Cepeda.
When Cub, the baby polar bear, ventures out of his cave, he slips and falls down a hill. At first, Cub thinks the world is big and fun, but then he panics when his mother is out of sight. Very young children, ages 2 – 4, will identify with the plot and conflicts because they, too, panic when they lose sight of their primary caregivers. (DLN)
Thompson, J.E. 2013. The girl from Felony Bay. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 375 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-210446-5.
This mystery novel is a quiet read, and is far from sedate. Twelve year old Abby Force has had a difficult 18 months. Her father is in a coma and can’t defend himself against his alleged crime, she has been uprooted from her beloved family and forced to live with her evil aunt and uncle, and she has nobody with whom to talk. Set on “Reward Plantation” in South Carolina, the story begins to unfold as Abbey teams up with Bee, the daughter of the new plantation’s owner, and the problem solving begins. A mid morning walk reveals a bunch of No Trespassing signs and dug up holes on Felony Bay. A library search coupled with some legal advice reveals that charges of malpractice and stolen jewelry have been part of an attempt to hide rightful deeds and buried treasures. This is a history teacher’s dream book to teach about pre/post Civil War events and slaveholding history, and it would make a great required summer read. Highly recommended for grades 6-12. (ADA)
Troutman, John W. 2012. Indian Blues: American Indians and the politics of music, 1879-1934. University of Oklahoma (Norman). www.oupress.com, (1-800-627-7377). 304pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-8-61-4269-2.
This scholarly study will be informative and significant for American Indians, whose musical culture is something of a mystery to most of our population. While show music is an effective entertaining tool, this book explores the mechanics of native American music, its constructs, and it’s relationship to federal Indian policy during this important part of American history. This is an enlightening account of a facet of music seldom explored. (BNS)
Tuchman, Gail. 2014. Planets. Scholastic Inc. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-57270-5.
The captivating images in this Level 1 reader come from a variety of sources and complement the planets described in the book. The book targets beginning readers learning to read for informational texts or non-fiction. Vocabulary is limited to 200–500 words, and key facts are straightforward and easy to understand. If readers want more information about planets, they can log on to the web site and enter the special code for digital activities, quizzes, games, and activities. (DLN)
Tullet, Hervé. 2014. Mix it up! Chronicle Books, LLC. [email protected], (800-759-0190), 32 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-3735-3 (France, 2014). Translated by Christopher Franceshelli.
Readers will discover two secrets of artists as they turn the pages of this book: colors are interesting and fun. Ideally, readers of all ages will have palates of paint or crayons to use on separate sheets of paper as they follow the directions and answer the questions in the story about the mixing and blending of colors. If not, they can simply see the effect of mixing colors. (DLN)
Twohy, Mike. 2013. Outfoxed. Simon and Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 32 pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7392-8.
Fox unknowingly grabs a duck when he breaks into the henhouse one dark evening. He escapes the guard dogs and runs home only to discover his mistake, but then decides duck is as good a meal as chicken. Duck, however, has a plan and convinces Fox he is a dog and not a duck. Young children and adults will enjoy following Duck as he ‘outfoxes’ the fox. The plot, characterization, and complementing cartoon-like illustrations are memorable and cute – very clever and delightful. (DLN)
Valentino, Serena. 2014. The Beast within: A tale of Beauty’s prince. Disney Book Group. disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142315912-4.
The tale of Beauty and the Beast is known as a classic French fairy tale in print and on the screen. However, multiple versions of the story omit the scenes prior to the transformation of the prince into the beast. Valentino presents one version of the potential fantastical events prompting the curse which could lead to death unless the Beast loves and is loved in return (DLN).
Vendetti, Robert. 2013. Percy Jackson & the Olympian’s book three: The Titan’s curse (The graphic novel). Disney Book Group (Hyperion). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 128 pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-142315430-1. Illustrated by Attila Futaki and Greg Guilhaumond. Based on the novel by Rick Riordan.
This graphic novel, based on Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian’s: The Titan’s Curse, includes all of the main characters and the original plot, settings, and themes. All of the literary elements are visually reinforced by the graphic art. Prolific and reluctant readers ages 9 and older will find this book based on Greek mythology a page-turner that they will not be able to put down. (DLN)
Vigilante, Danette. 2014. Saving Baby Doe. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (G. P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 230 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25160-3.
Realistic fiction mirrors life, and Saving Baby Doe captures the essence of being in many ways. The characters are human, the setting is realistic, and the themes are universal. Highly recommended for all readers 12-16. (DLN).
Viorst, Judith. 2014. Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 32 pp. $12.99 ISBN 978-1-4814-1412-8 (1972). Illustrated by Rau Cruz.
Youngsters have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, just like Alexander, the protagonist in this oversize board book targeting readers ages 1–4. While the text may be a bit long for the short attention spans of young children, they will undoubtedly connect with Alexander’s moods and desire to leave the country or to at least put the events behind him and move on to another day. (DLN)
Walker, Melissa. 2014. Ashes to ashes. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 325 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-207734-9.
Charleston is a city full of ghost stories, but Callie never expected to become a part of one. After chasing adrenaline in a dangerous car ride, Callie dies, leaving her boyfriend, dad, and best friend behind to grieve. After Callie’s death, she meets other spirits waiting to pass on to the afterlife, including Thatcher, who becomes her mentor. Callie begins to learn how to bring comfort and feelings of resolution to her family and friends. Other spirits, however, are bitter about dying and try to bring negative consequences to the dead and the living alike. Ashes to Ashes is a novel about healing and learning to move on. The addition of some villainous spirits spices up the tale, but at its heart, it is a contemplative story with a surprising ending that begs for a sequel. Recommended for junior high and high school readers. (MC)
Wegman, William. 2014. Early rider. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3933-8.
Wegman, William. 2014. 3….2…1…. circus! Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 24 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3934-5.
Wegman’s two concept board books, one about riding in vehicles, and the other about numbers, are unique, primarily because the characters are Weimaraners puppies. The book about vehicles provides an interesting comparison between a skateboard park and skateboarding on a street or sidewalk. The inclusion of flying in a hot air balloon is quite fantastical and realistically inappropriate for the audience, but children will be captivated by the Weimaraners. The number concept book is developmentally appropriate for early readers, counting down from 10 to 1. Since the medium is the circus, all of the illustrations are realistic. (DLN)
Wheeler, Lisa. 2013. The pet project: Cute and cuddly vicious verses. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). [email protected], (800-223-2336. 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7595-3. Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora.
What is the best pet? How do you choose one that is just right for you? In this story, the protagonist goes to the farm to look for a pet. Next is a trip to the zoo to find the perfect pet. Unfortunately, she finds no luck there. She then sets off to the woods, but she is not impressed with any of the forest animals. Unable to find any pet that is compatible, she finally decides to settle for a microscope! (JGL)
Willems, Mo. 2013. I’m a frog! Disney Book Group (Hyperion Books). disney.go.com, (877-318-6990). 64 pp. $8.99 ISBN 978-142318305-1.
Elephant is confused because Piggie claims she is a frog. Gerald, the elephant, is also terrified that he may become a frog himself, and he refuses to even pretend to be a frog. The banter between Piggie and Gerald comes to a satisfying, happy, ending that readers ages 3–7 will thoroughly enjoy. (DLN)
Wilson, Karma. 2014. Outside the box: A book of poems. HarperCollins Publishers (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 172 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8005-6. Illustrated by Diane Goode.
Wilson’s book of eighty-eight poems is an eclectic collection of verses. The first poem, Outside the Box, which is also the title of the anthology, establishes the focus of the collection on encouraging curiosity, creativity, and imagination with each contribution. Illustrations of brush, pen, and ink capture the essence of each poem, whether serious or whimsical. (DLN)
Winter, Jeanette. 2013. Henri’s scissors. Simon and Schuster (Beach Lane Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-6484-1.
Although 72-year-old Henri Matisse (1869-1954) survived surgery for cancer, the ordeal left him frail and confined him to a bed or wheelchair. Though his mobility was limited, his spirit and creativity were not, and he changed his art medium from paint to paper. This book delves into the little-known creative process of a world famous artist. Winter presents a unique artist, who is a role model in art and determination. (DLN)
Woods, Brenda. 2014. The blossoming universe of Violet Diamond. Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Nancy Paulsen Books). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 222 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25714-8.
Eleven-year-old Violet, also known as V, is biracial, but knows nothing of her father or of his African American heritage because he died tragically before her birth. As the plot unfolds, V discovers more about her paternal relatives, especially her grandmother, who is an artist. She also learns more about her accomplished mother, grandparents, and friends. Most importantly, she becomes comfortable with herself. The writing style is superb, especially the unique vocabulary inserted periodically throughout the story. (DLN)