2015. Star Wars: The original trilogy stories®. Disney Book Group (LucasFilm Press). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148470471-4. Illustrations by Brian Rood.
Star War fans, especially those 3 – 9 years old, will be captivated by the 18 adventures in this anthology of the original stories. While the stories are familiar, the brush art of Brian Rood captures the personalities of all of the characters. In fact, without the illustrations, the text would be almost incomprehensible for young readers because of the white print on a black background. However, the white text on black pages sends the message of the seriousness of the conflicts and contrasts the stark differences among the good and the evil. (DLN)
2015. World of reading level 1: Star Wars: Rey meets BB-8. Disney Book Group (Disney Lucasfilm Press). $3.99. 32pp. ISBN 978-148470480-6.
2015. World of reading level 2: Star Wars: Finn & the first order. Disney Book Group (Disney Lucasfilm Press). $3.99. 32pp. ISBN 978-148470481-3.
The two level readers will appeal to all Star Wars fans, young and old, primarily because of the illustrations. The pictures are photos from the Lucasfilm productions, and the text in each reader conforms to the standards of Beginner Readers, Pre-K – Grade 1 or Junior Readers in grades Kindergarten – 2. Contractions are introduced in level 2 readers and sentences are more complex than the simple text in level 1 readers. For example “Finn knew he didn’t want to be a Stormtrooper anymore” (p. 14, Level 2), versus “Unkar is not always fair” (p. 10, Level 1). (DLN)
2016. Disney classic: Storybook treasury. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). 256pp. $30.00. ISBN 978-148478960-5.
Disney presents a retelling of five classic Disney tales, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, The Jungle book, and The Lion King. Children will recognize the stories, and also remember the movies of each classic tale. The large font, colorful, recognizable Disney pictures will capture the attention of all readers. A teacher of English to speakers of other languages also states “My students would love this book because of the delightful pictures complementing the text. Also, the vocabulary is comprehensible, thanks to the pictures, and the number of words per page is not overwhelming for my (adult) ESL students.” (DLN)
2016. Draw it! Color it! Creatures by 43 amazing artists and one more: You!. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 120pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-0-544-77979-2. (2015).
Partial illustrations in this unique picture story book promotes creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving among readers. The book of partial sketches encourages readers, also known as artists, to complete and color each incomplete illustration. It is suitable for multiple ages, youngsters through senior citizens, and it is possible to imagine the book with all of its artistic and reading options, as therapy for people of all ages. (DLN)
2016. Marvel mighty colors. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). 24pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-148473270-0.
Young children, ages 1 - 4, can identify the wide array of colors while reading this board book of super heroes. Super Heroes represent specific colors, such as Falcon showing his “red wings.” Hulk is wearing “purple pants,” even though children will recognize the bright green hue of his skin. Unfortunately the characters are not identified for readers, however, adult fans of super heroes can name them for their children, such as Falcon, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow (wearing a “black suit”), and Captain Marvel. (DLN)
2016. Marvel mighty numbers. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). 24pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-148473271-7.
Young children, ages 1 - 4, can count from 1 – 10 in this board book of super heroes. Each number corresponds with the appropriate number of super heroes, beginning with Spider Man on the page of “1 Super Hero.” Unfortunately the characters are not identified for readers, but adult fans of super heroes can name them for their children, such as Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hulk. (DLN)
2016. Marvel: Spider-man storybook collection. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148473215-1.
This collection of twenty Spiderman stories will appeal to fans of any Super Hero. As with all Super Hero adventures, good prevails and evil is always defeated. Readers will recognize the good characters of Superman (Peter Parker), Hulk, Rocket, Ms. Marvel (Kamala), Groot, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Guardians, Nova, Falcon, Black Widow, Aunt May, Mary Jane (MJ), and other human friends with good intentions. The nasty characters in this collection include: the Beetle, Electro, Kraven, the Hunter, the Lizard, Rhino, Doctor Octopus, Chitauri space villains, the Looter, Sandman, Green Goblin, the Scorpion, Venom, Mysterio, and evil humans, such as the bully Flash. (DLN)
Anaya, Rudolfo. 2016. The sorrows of young Alfonso. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman). 232 pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5226-4.
Alfonso’s life has been full of sorrow since the day he was born and the local healer whispered in his ear, “The world is full of sorrow”. Alfonso lives in New Mexico and is pulled to do different things and make different decisions by this healer, Agapita, and his mother, Rafaelita. Throughout his life he is confronted with different sorrows influencing his decisions and ultimately change the trajectory of his life. The story takes place after Alfonso has died and is told by a friend of his through letters this friend writes to someone named K. The book begins with the tragic story of how Adolfo died and the reactions of those around him. Anaya has completely intertwined the Spanish and English language, making this book very difficult to read. There is no rhyme or reason to which words are written in English and which are written in Spanish, requiring a lot of focus to read this book. Those who wish to read this book must be proficient in Spanish due to the fact that the languages are so intertwined. There is quite a bit of dialogue between different characters in the book although it is complemented with very descriptive actions. There are many cultural references in this book such as La Llorona, a witch or “the frightful Crying Woman who store children”, as well as many historical references. The book takes place during the settlement of New Mexico and discusses Mexican history and the conquest north. Through this mix of English and Spanish, Anaya tells the detailed story of Adolfo and the sorrows affecting his life. (EK)
Anderson, John David. 2016. Ms. Bixby’s last day. HarperCollins Publishers (Walden Pond Press). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233817-4.
Topher, Brand, and Steve are three best friends in Ms. Bixby’s sixth grade classroom. In alternate voices, readers gain insight into the boys’ unique personalities and qualities. All are characteristics of three exceptional sixth graders, intelligence, humor, cunning, creativity, friendship, and devotion to their teacher, Ms. Bixby. Ms. Bixby is an extraordinary teacher, one of the “Good Ones” (p. 7), v. a Zombie, a Caff-Add or Zuzzer, Dungeon Master, a Spielberg, or Noob. One month before the end of the school year, Ms. Bixby must take a medical leave for treatment of pancreatic cancer. The entire class is devastated. And when Ms. Bixby cannot attend her farewell party because of her illness, Topher, Brand, and Steve plan a private last day with their beloved teacher. Plot with conflicts, settings, including the school, homes, and hospital, themes, characterizations, points-of-view, and style are credible and prompt readers to reflect on attributes of their best teachers. All practicing and pre-service teachers should read this compelling story of self-discovery and the positive effect of one good teacher on the lives of her students. (DLN)
Alley, R. W. 2016. Clark in the deep sea. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90692-8.
On a beautiful spring day the imaginations of children, Clark, Gretchen, Annabelle, and Mitchell create an adventure all will remember. When Gretchen’s Bear falls overboard, off the porch and into an imaginary sea, Clark swims after Bear. Eventually Bear is rescued, but not after multiple challenges, including battling a wild, furious, stormy sea. If readers, ages 3 – 8, are observant, they will see the object on the second to the last page that morphed into the imaginary sea on a beautiful spring day. (DLN)
Alley, R. W. 2016. Gretchen over the beach. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 32pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-547-90708-6.
Creative children, ages 3 – 8, will appreciate Gretchen’s imaginary flying adventures over the sea with her fictional friends, the roly polys. Gretchen, youngest of four children, is left behind as her siblings dash off to the beach. While Clark, Annabelle, and Mitchell play on the beach and in the water, Gretchen frolics on her imaginary adventure in the clouds. Readers can prediction the outcome as they observe a gray and black thundercloud subsume a pillowy white cloud. They can infer if Gretchen, the roly polys, and her new friend, gull will reach safety before the thundercloud and imminent lightning overcome them. (DLN)
Anderson, Robert L. 2015. Dreamland. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 332pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233867-9.
Teenager Dea can walk in others’ dreams, as can her mysterious mother, who moves them around the country for reasons Dea can’t understand. Things begin looking up for Dea when a new boy, Connor, moves to town, and Dea finds herself drawn to him, both in his dreams and in real life. Connor has his own secrets, however. What starts as an intriguing fantasy becomes mystery novel. The premise is original and the prose is enjoyable, however in the final section of the book, the plot swerves and introduces new world-building, characters, and revelations too late for a satisfying conclusion. Nevertheless, teen readers who enjoy realistic novels with injections of fantasy might enjoy this novel. (MC)
Asch, Frank. 2015. Pizza. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 32pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1442466760.
Readers, ages 3 – 7, can follow Baby Bear as he tastes his first pizza. Baby Bear has never tasted pizza before and in fact, does not know what it is. Mama and Papa Bear tell him that he will like the treat. Readers who enjoy pizza will understand Baby Bear’s reaction to eating the treat and then seeing the circles in his world, the moon, wheels, manhole covers, as pizzas. Readers can also predict what Baby Bear really wants for breakfast. The paperback version of the book will make it more affordable to more people and pizza parlors. (DLN)
Avi. 2016. School of the dead. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-174085-5.
Thanks to Tony Gilbert’s very strange (great) Uncle Charlie, Tony and his parents move from Connecticut to San Francisco. Uncle Charlie died, and left money for the move and the tuition for Penda School, a private school for children, 6 – 12. Penda is also Uncle Charlie’s alma mater. As Tony tries to acclimate to his new school and home, he becomes terrified of ghosts trying to capture souls, evil v. good, questionable teachers, nefarious voices, deception, sinister relationships, and suspicious friends. An occasional loyal and positive friend enters Tony’s life, such as Lilly, but he is constantly terrified because of sightings of ghosts, including his Uncle Charlie. Readers, ages 8 – 12, will get a minds-eye-view of Tony’s frightening life because the story is craftily told in first person, “I.” The conclusion is satisfying, but Halloween will take on an entirely new meaning after reading Avi’s School of the dead. (DLN)
Barbieri, Gladys E. 2016. A charmed life/una vida con suerte. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-827-5. Illustrated by Lisa Fields.
Felicia loves to admire the beautiful homes where her mother works as a cleaning lady. One day, Felicia goes to work with her mom at Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s house and Felicia imagines her life living in a big house like the Fitzpatrick home. Mrs. Fitzpatrick has a conversation with her, telling her stories about immigration and the importance of having dreams. From this book, children are able to learn more about the concept of immigration. This book is written in English and Spanish, so it is perfect for language learners. (COM)
Barnett, Mac. 2016. Rules of the house. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-8516-1. Illustrated by Matt Myers.
Children with siblings will understand the bitter –sweet relationship of Ian and his sister, Jenny. Ian, the younger brother, always follows rules, but Jenny does not. When Jenny and Ian spend the summer at a house in the woods, Jenny continues to break do things she’s not supposed to.
She opens a door, releasing monsters set on eating her. Ian saves the day, although he breaks at least one rule to rescue his sister. The illustrations accurately convey the moods of the story, when Jenny dominates the scene and scowls, the colors are a drab brown with red paint peeling of the door. When Jenny opens the door, the colors are dark blue, brown, red, and black. The house at night is dark, except for the red glow of the opened red door, signaling imminent danger. And the subsequent scenes reflect the children’s fear and potential demise. Of course, the conflicts are happily resolved – even if Jenny pinches her brother – gently. (DLN)
Bauer, Marion Dane. 2016. Little Cat’s luck! A companion to Little Dog lost. Simon & Schuster. 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2488-2. Illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell.
Patches, the little cat, is anxious, restless and curious. If readers understand the nature of female cats, they may predict the reason for Patches’ emotions and subsequent behavior, if not, the cause will unfold as they read the story. When she sees a golden leaf fall from a tree outside of her warm, safe, comfortable home, she is compelled to follow the leaf. Luck is with her, and when she pounces at the window screen to chase the leaf, the screen gives way and Patches is free to roam. The poetic verse sets a calm, hopeful, and gentle tone as readers uncover the cause and effect of Patches’ restlessness and wander-lust. Unlikely friends, surprising, yet predictable outcomes, and comforting conclusions will appeal to all readers, 8 – 12 years old. (DLN)
Bauer, Marion Dane. 2016. Rain: Ready to Read - Level one. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6214-3 (2004, 2011). Illustrated by John Wallace.
Rain joins five other Ready-to-Read Level one books by Marion Dane Bauer, Snow, Clouds, Wind, Rainbow and Sun. Except for perhaps snow, all of the non-fiction books inform early readers about concepts they experience in their lives. The explanation of rain, from the formation of small drops of water in clouds to the falling of raindrops to the ground, are clearly articulated with complementing illustrations. The concept books are ideal for all young readers, ages, 4 – 7, including students learning English as another language. (DLN)
Beasley, Cassie. 2015. Circus Mirandus. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 292pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42843-5.
Micah's grandfather has always spoken of a magical circus he visited as a boy. So Micah, with his skeptical friend Jenny, sets out to find the circus for himself so that a magical man can grant his grandfather one last miracle. The magic of the circus can only be seen by those who believe, and Micah's time is running short. Although the characters are somewhat simplistic, the novel and its whimsical illustrations tell a magical tale; Micah's special ability to tie knots that describe a personality is especially inventive. Recommended for late elementary readers. (MC)
Bechtold, Lisze. 2016. Green Light Readers for the reader who’s ready to GO: Level 3: Buster the very shy dog in the great bone game. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-544-66847-8.
Originally published in 2003 as part of Buster & Phoebe: The great bone game, the author transformed sections of the story into a Level 3 Green Light Reader. According to the rubric established by the publisher, a Level 3 reader is a book individuals can read independently. In this chapter book, the stories are not necessarily sequential and can be read independent of each other. Buster is a naïve puppy in the first chapter and fully grown, although still manipulated by Phoebe, the older, cunning dog. Illustrations capture the emotions of the dogs, for example, when Phoebe is caught with the large bone of the dog next door (Gregory), her eyes are huge, and appear bulging out of her head. Thanks to Buster, however, he saves her day as he exclaims “Phoebe found your bone.” (p.28). Readers will chuckle because they know Phoebe intended to steal the bone! Themes children can understand -- friendship, greed, hoarding, riches -- dominate both stories in this Level 3 Green Light Reader. For example, Phoebe gloats she has more bones than Buster, but Buster believes he is as rich as she because he found a new friend, Gregory, the dog next door. (DLN)
Berkes, Marianne. 2016. Over on the farm. Dawn Publications. 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-549-3. Illustrated by Cathy Morrison.
In Over on the farm, children are invited to explore a farm as they count and learn about the behaviors of different farm animals. They will also have the opportunity to participate in other activities connected to different subject areas. In this easy-to-read picture book, children, ages 3-6, may struggle to identify conflicts if they are too focused on counting. There is a character vs. character conflict when the mice hide in the hay as a cat peers through a crack in the wall. Children can draw on their prior knowledge to remember cats eat mice. There is a character vs. character conflict because owls are a “natural pest control;” they eat rats, mice, and voles. Another character vs. character conflict is when the baby farm animals get away from their parents, and the reader must search for the animals on the page. Although this is the end of the book, the babies may get in trouble for running to other parts of the farm without asking. Observant children may notice a rooster lurking in the background of each illustration, and they may predict a character vs. character conflict. In the information at the end of the book, children may notice a potential character vs. nature conflict because mice need grain, seeds, and other food in order to survive. Because people don't feed them, they have to rely on nature, which may be problematic depending on the season, the availability of food, and the number of animals. Told from the third person point of view, children may struggle to identity characterization because a lot of farm animals are introduced in this short book. However, they may notice how the baby farm animals initially listen to their mothers, such as when the ducklings waddle after their mother commands them to do so. At the end of the book, the baby animals run away when their mothers are resting. Even though they are still on the farm, children will see how these baby animals can assert their independence and do not always follow the commands of their mothers. Throughout this book, the setting serves as both mood and antagonist. The mood is cheerful as readers are introduced to the animals at the farm on a sunny morning. In a field full of corn plants, there is an even more light-hearted, energetic mood as the young foals run freely through the grass near this field. However, in the barn, there is a mood of anxiety as the young mice, called pups, have to hide from the cats who want to eat them. These animals must also watch out for the owls. There is a mood of exhilaration as some of the owls venture into the dark night. The setting also creates a playful mood when all the pigs roll around in the mud. There is a mood of confusion when all of the baby animals gather in one setting and the reader must find the different groups of animals. As they read, children may be able to identify several subtle themes. One theme is numbers can be found everywhere in real life. In this case, children can count how many of each type of farm animal can be found on the farm. Another theme is parental figures can help us learn how to behave in the world. For instance, the kittens learn how to wash themselves clean, and the poults learn how to strut. Another subtle theme is how people look and act differently. This is evident when considering how each of these farm animals is unique; this is also true for people. Children will be able to notice different elements of style used consistently throughout the book. This book is an adaptation of “Over in the Meadow” by Olive A. Wadsworth. On every page except the last page, there are two stanzas with four lines each; the last page has three stanzas. There is rhyme present throughout the book. Lines 2 and 4 rhyme on each page, such as one/sun, two/chew, and ten/den. In order for this rhyme to work, Berkes had to modify the word order. For instance, she writes, “her little ducklings nine” instead of “her nine little ducklings;” this allows “nine” to rhyme with “line.” Despite this misplaced adjective, the rhyme will help make it easier for children to read. In Lines 4 and 8 of each page, the same rhyme words are used but in the opposite order. For instance, the “sun” and “one” in Stanza 1 becomes “one” and “sun” in Stanza 2. This repetition emphasizes the setting and the number of animals. Berkes also utilizes repetition. Each page begins with “Over on the farm.” This helps remind the children of the setting. Each animal’s behavior is also emphasized through the use of repetition and short sentences. For instance, owls usually fly at night. Berkes states, “‘Fly,’ said the mother. ‘We fly,’ said the seven.” There is also repetition of Lines 2 and 8, such as “where the corn plants thrive” near the horses and “Where [the ducklings] followed in a line.” Children will also notice when there is slight variation in Lines 2 and 8. When describing cows, Line 2 says “Near a buzzing bumblebee” whereas Line 8 says “At the buzzing bumblebee.” Children will see how this change is necessary in order for the sentence to make sense. Alliteration is also evident, such as “buzzing bumblebee.” This emphasizes the sound of the bee and how this may annoy the cows. “Tree-hollow heaven” incorporates both alliteration and metaphor as the tree is “heaven” for the owl. These stylistic elements emphasize the setting. Another element is a rhetorical question. This appears on the last page of the book when Berkes asks, “Do you see the father rooster?” This question encourages children to go back through the book and search for the rooster. In the information portion of the book, there are also elements of style. There are similes used to describe the animal's’ behavior. Cats wash themselves with their paws “like the way we might use a wash cloth,” and ducks’ webbed feet “act like paddles when swimming.” Both of these examples provide connections to children’s daily lives and will make it easier for them to understand. In order to promote cognitive development, children can observe how a rooster lurks in the background of every page. If they do not notice this as they read, the last page of the book reveals this secret so the reader can look back and find it. This will help children understand the importance of relooking at a book to find out more information. They can also compare how different animals behave. Children can predict what farm animal will come next and what their action will be. They should also be able to summarize common characteristics of these farm animals and the seasons, especially after reading “About the Animals” and “Seasons on the Farm” in the information portion of the book. They can evaluate as they learn the actual number of babies each farm animal typically has; the numbers throughout the book are not accurate. Other activities in the back of the book are connected to different content areas and can help children practice these skills in the context of the farm. Children are also encouraged to act out the animals as they sing the song “Over on the Farm;” this will be another way to help children summarize what they have learned about animals. In order to promote social development, children can consider how the baby animals listened to what their mothers said; this helped the babies avoid danger. Children may also be able to identify with the relationship between the mother animal and her babies if they come from a single parent household. They can understand how there may be problems after the babies ran away from their mothers. The illustrations throughout the book can help reinforce children’s comprehension and interest. The thin, brushed vertical lines of the tree trunks and the old barn gate indicate the safety and stability for the animals in their life at the farm. Similarly, the vertical lines of the barn and silos in the background of the final page suggest constancy and community found at the farm. Children will get the same impression from the horizontal lines of the fence and on the wall of the barn. The bold, diagonal line of the ladder in the barn suggests unpredictability and uncertainty; this makes sense because the cat is waiting for an opportunity to eat the mice. The organic shapes of the different animals emphasize their natural, predictable behavior. At the same time, the organic shape of the rooster suggests unpredictability as children will not be able to understand why he is spying on all of the animals. There are also some geometric shapes incorporated throughout the book. For instance, the cow’s legs create a parallelogram with the ground; this suggests stability as these animals continue to grow. The hollow of the tree creates a circle of stability and comfort where the owls can sleep. On the old barn gate, the wood crosses to create four triangles. This reinforces the safety of this setting; the mother turkey does not need to worry about her babies being hurt at this moment. On the last page, children will also see the triangle formed by the roof of the house, another indicator of predictability. In terms of color, the presence of green indicates a strong connection to nature, and this light shade of green indicates a sense of calm and routine at the farm. The red color of the rooster in every page suggests both friendliness and energy as he takes the time to guard all of the animals on the farm. The various brown, gray, and black colors on the cats also emphasize how animals can be similar yet different. The darker brown hues of the horses, owls, and poults are all associated with purposeful movement and a spirit of confidence and adventure. The yellow color of the ducklings suggests energy and determination as they waddle toward the water in a straight line. The contrast between the yellow ducklings and the white mother duck also reveals how the ducklings will change as they get older. Morrison utilizes light in two instances to show the time of day. The moon emphasizes the night, and the sun in the background on the last page emphasizes either the beginning or the end of the day. Extra, thin lines in the sky, the trees, and the ground contribute texture. Texture is also evident when Morrison uses different shades of the same color on the animals. There also seems to be texture on the animals because there are no sharp lines; the background and the animals seem to flow together. The illustrations also incorporate words, specifically the sounds the animals make (“Hoot” or “Quack”). This book may be classified as an easy-to-read picture book. The vocabulary, rhyme, and repetition will allow children to read this book independently. This will help them develop their skills. They will be able to read the shorter sentences associated with the animal’s behavior, such when the calves say “We swish.” The illustrations can also help reinforce what the children are reading and promote comprehension with minimal prompting from an adult. Children will enjoy this book because it incorporates the actions of animals on a farm. Not only is it easy to read, but it also helps children practice counting, especially when the babies ask the reader to find them “‘from ten to one.’” They will be able to match the numerals (1-10) to the words (“one” through “ten”). A book about farm life and counting, children will find themselves in a position to learn about behaviors of animals while at the same time gaining confidence in their ability to count in real-world situations. (SMM)
Bildner, Phil. 2016. Derek Jeter presents night at the stadium. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2655-8. Illustrations by Tom Booth.
The digital illustrations contribute to the fantasy elements of a story baseball fans, particularly New York Yankee devotees, will enjoy. Targeting readers, ages 4 – 9, the story begins with a youngster, Gideon, searching for Derek Jeter (former New York Yankee shortstop) because he wants his autograph. Gideon panics when he loses his autograph book and without thinking, dashes through the crowd to find it and in the process, becomes separated from his family. As Alice tumbled through the Looking Glass, Gideon stumbles into unknown corners of the stadium where rakes, hoses, pails, bats, balls, bases, food, and the Babe Ruth monument move and talk. Eventually, Gideon is reunited with his autograph book and his family. He even gets the coveted autograph of Derek Jeter. However, when Gideon tries to explain his adventures to his family, the stadium is empty and quiet, prompting Gideon to question the reality of his night with talking rakes, hoses, pails, bats, balls, bases, food and the Babe Ruth monument. (DLN)
Breitrose, Prudence. 2015. Mouse mission. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 272 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148471117-0. Illustrations by Stephanie Yue.
In Mouse mission, children are invited into an unexpected world where mice have evolved and can communicate with a select group of humans, the Humans Who Know. One human, a young girl named Megan, is revered by the mice after she provided them Thumbtops, mini computers to use for collecting top-secret information. The author explains communication through Mouse Sign Language (MSL); the few mice who are capable of human speech, such Trey and Sir Quentin, translate for the humans. Older children, ages 8-12, will be able to identify with the characters’ concern for the environment. Megan, her family, and the mice are immersed in a battle to protect a rain forest on the island of Marisco from Loggocorp, a powerful corporation. However, this proves more difficult than expected as hackers attempt to steal information from Susie Fisher, Megan’s mom. The family must embark on an adventure to London to secretly meet with Coconut Man’s descendant, who has rights to the forest. This London setting becomes an antagonist as the family realizes they cannot escape Loggocorp spies, especially the ones posing as quilters staying with them at the Duke of Wiltshire’s castle. Suspense builds as the Americans and the climate change experts try to mislead Loggocorp, several people are locked in the tower, a child is kidnapped, and the power goes out. While the style is straightforward in the beginning, it may be hard to follow the different phrases used by the people and mice in England, such as the Duke’s use of the word “what” instead of right. Told from the third person limited omniscient point of view, children are invited into Megan’s thoughts to discover her lack of confidence, her internal view of never being better than her step-brother Joey, and her struggle to form relationships with people instead of just mice. Children will be able to watch how Megan becomes an integral part in preventing Loggocorp’s evil designs. The few black-and-white illustrations provide children just enough detail to help them visualize both characters and the setting. A tale of adventure and advocating for the common good, children will find themselves racing through a castle and the English countryside with Megan and the mice in a final attempt to save Marisco’s rain forest. (SMM)
Brewer, Zac. 2016. The blood between us. HarperCollins Publishers(HarperTeen ). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-00623079.
When Adrien’s adoptive parents are killed in their home chemistry lab, Adrien decides to spend his high school years in a private school in California, leaving his sister Grace, behind at Wills, a private school on the East coast. Grace is the biological daughter of Adrien’s adoptive parents, but she and Adrien despise each other. Adrien does not finish his schooling in San Diego, however, because his dying godfather, Viktor, asks that he return home. The multiple conflicts, characters, and themes will capture the attention of readers 12 and up. While this is a dark novel, the conflicts are credible and the conclusion plausible. Readers, however, should know this is not a Pollyannaish story, but the eerie scenarios contribute to the intensity of the novel. (DLN)
Brian, Marion Rea. 2016. Rolling down the avenue. Pelican Publishing Company (Gretna). 32pp. $9.95. ISBN 9781455621798. Illustrated by Jennifer Lindsley.
A black and white map of New Orleans sets the stage for this delightful, colorful tour of New Orleans. From the perspective of a passenger in a streetcar, readers tour this unique city, observing cars, snowball treats, the Mississippi River, new animal friends, Audubon Park, places of worship, homes, food, such as roux, gumbo, Roman candy, muffulettas, jambalaya, and étouffée. Riders/readers also pass businesses, shops, a “Quarter. “ mid-city, balconies, and cemeteries. (DLN)
Brown, Margaret Wise. 2016. The dead bird. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-028931-7. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. (1938, 1965).
The theme of The dead bird is as relevant in 2016 as in 1938. Young children bury a dead bird and care for the grave until they forget about it. The perspectives and behaviors of the children reflect their age-appropriate emotional development of affection, including sadness, care, and remembrance until they move on to other things and forget the dead bird. The illustrations reflect the childlike characteristics of 4 – 5 year olds, and the dominance of the color green, sets a calm, soothing, mood throughout this story about life. (DLN)
Brown, Monica. 2015. Maya’s blanket/La manta de Maya. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low Books Inc.). 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-89239-292-6. Illustrated by David Diaz.
Maya has a blanket that is close to her heart; her grandmother made it for her when Maya was just a baby. As Maya grew older, the blanket became worn out. Luckily, her grandma helps her continue to find new purposes for her precious blanket! Maya understands that it is important to remember the magic of her blanket and learn to keep the memories of the fabric as she grows older. Maya’s blanket/la manta de Maya is in English and Spanish, so it is a great book for language learners. Context clues in the book make it possible to learn new Spanish vocabulary. (COM)
Brown, Monica. 2016. Marisol McDonald and the monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low Books Inc.). 32pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-0-89239-326-8. Illustrated by Sara Palacios.
Marisol McDonald loves all things that start with the letter “m”—except for monsters! Marisol believes there may be a monster living under her own bed! Soon, her whole family hears noises at night, and Marisol is convinced she’s is living with a monster. With the help of her family, the McDonald’s discover the “monster” that is causing such a ruckus! This book is written in English and Spanish, and the two languages often intertwine throughout the book. However, there is a glossary in the back to help with unknown words. (COM)
Bruchac, Joseph. 2016. Chenoo: A novel. University of Oklahoma Press. 224pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5207-3.
Bruchac and the University of Oklahoma Press claim “This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental” (p. iv). However, the story reveals the myth behind Chenoo, a nefarious creature known also as Windigo, and Kiwakw. Myths, as readers know, reflect cultural attributes, including relationship, beliefs, and traditions among specific people, in this case, Algonquin speaking nations of the Northeast. Also embedded in the story are historical references to various Native American struggles, e.g. Wounded Knee, and narratives about the socio-economic-political challenges and accomplishments of the Indigenous people of North America. Readers will follow Jacob Jesse Neptune, a Penacook private investigator, and his trusted companions, as they solve the mystery of the vicious murders of two people in a group staging a takeover of State land that should have been tribal land. Jacob, also known as Podjo, meets every obstacle with humor, wisdom, perseverance, and skill – all a function of his accomplishments in martial arts, military training, and knowledge of the traditions, wisdom, and expertise of his People. All adults should read Chenoo,especially individuals interested in Native America and historic and contemporary issues of Native Americans. (DLN)
Bruchac, Joseph. 2016. Talking leaves. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3508-8.
Challenges facing Sequoyah (circa 1765 – 1842) as he developed the Cherokee syllabary (alphabet) were considerable. Cherokee living in his community believed Sequoyah was displaying signs of witchcraft when, in fact, he was creating a writing system for the Cherokee people. Historical evidence substantiates this remarkable achievement and Bruchac captures the humanity of this accomplishment in Talking leaves. Told through the perspective of Uwoholi, a character based partially on one of Sequoyah’s actual sons, Tessee, readers, ages 10 and up, will learn aspects of Cherokee life and culture, as well as the environment in which they lived. For example, Cherokee are matrilineal, pileated woodpeckers exist in the forests of Tennessee and Alabama, and ramps, or wild leeks are a delicious and healthy food choice. While the book is not completely historically accurate, this is fiction, and the genius of Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, is real. (DLN)
Bunting, Eve. 2015. Forbidden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 224pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-39092-8.
In Forbidden, upper middle and high school children are invited to experience the difficulties of transitioning to a new life in an unfamiliar place. Sixteen-year-old Josie Ferguson has recently been orphaned and ventures from Edinburgh to Brindle Point, Scotland to live with her aunt and uncle. However, this transition proves more difficult than Josie imagined; her aunt and uncle, Minnie and Caleb Ferguson, are only concerned about the money they receive for housing Josie and show her no compassion. Furthermore, most of the people living in Brindle are also cold and dismissive; they seem to be hiding a secret from Josie. Older children, ages 12 and up, will recognize multiple conflicts throughout the novel. After an initial cold welcome from her aunt and uncle, Josie faces a character vs. character conflict when she leaves her room during the middle of the night to look for a bigger bucket; during the rain storm, water is leaking from the ceiling in her room. However, she doesn’t complete this task because Aunt Minnie’s vicious dog, ironically named Lamb, bites her ankle. Minnie does not apologize because Lamb is a guard dog, and he fulfilled his duty; Josie’s aunt and uncle assume she was snooping around. This conflict continues throughout the novel as Minnie whispers orders to Lamb about what Josie is not allowed to do. He makes sure Josie doesn’t leave the house or search the rooms for clues. Josie tries to overcome this conflict by escaping through her bedroom window and later putting a sleeping potion in Lamb’s food. Josie experiences a person vs. self conflict when she first meets Eli Stuart, a young man with black hair and blue-green eyes. She must decide whether to accept this stranger’s help, especially because the bites look infected from Lamb’s teeth and she can barely walk. She has to set aside her ladylike manners and let Eli carry her to his grandmother’s house. Josie also faces an internal conflict as she spends more time with Eli and tries to understand her feelings for him. She struggles to comprehend why she is attracted to this unknown man, and it takes time before she fully accepts she is in love with Eli. A person vs. person conflict becomes more evident as the reader monitors the relationship among Josie, Minnie, and Caleb. Both Minnie and Caleb order Josie around and expect her to comply; Josie is not used to being treated this way. While Minnie and Caleb are initially cold and distant, more conflict arises when Josie discovers her relatives lure ships into the rocks on stormy nights, murder any passengers, and then pillage the ship. Once she knows this, they will not let her leave their house, so she must use her critical thinking to find a way to escape. There is also a person vs. society conflict. Several people tell Josie Eli is forbidden. While she doesn’t understand what this means, she hears how others talk about how Elia has escaped three murder attempts; this community doesn’t like Eli. Later in the novel, this conflict becomes clearer. Josie, Eli, and Mrs. Stuart are the only people in Brindle who recognize the moral problems of luring in a ship and plundering it. It is hard to change a practice accepted by the majority of Brindle, including the mayor. Older children can trace the noticeable development of the main characters. Told from the first person point of view, children can understand how Josie processes information during this transition to a new place. One major change in Josie is when she steps away from her sheltered life and her primary concern of ladylike behavior. She becomes braver and more defiant as she realizes her relatives and other people in Brindle are murderers. She is horrified by what she witnesses. When she knows what they do for a living, she is not afraid to confront them and hold Caleb accountable when he tries to blame his brother, Josie’s father, for how his life turned out. In the course of only a few days, Josie matures and becomes more critical of the world around her. By the end of the novel, she is able to accept she will not be able to understand everything, but she is stronger and ready for whatever obstacles she may face. She is no longer the timid girl who only considered proper etiquette and manners. She becomes more receptive of her feelings during this confusing and difficult transition. One year after the last shipwreck, Josie changes again as her memory of this incident fades; she can no longer remember specific details about Eli and her time at Brindle Point. Eli also displays some change. He is considered forbidden, and his grandmother warns Josie Eli cannot return her feelings of concern or love. Eventually, Josie realizes Eli is a ghost, one of the victims who drowned in a shipwreck. Still, towards the end of the novel, Eli does exhibit some emotion when he initiates a kiss and then later when his face expresses anguish at the impossible relationship between himself and Josie. Throughout the novel, the setting serves as mood, antagonist, and historical background. The mood is foreboding whenever Josie describes the forceful wind and the relentless rain at Brindle Point. The roaring, crashing waves, especially during a storm, establish a mood of gloom and hopelessness; Josie has a difficult time transitioning because this unfamiliar setting provides her no comfort, especially when considering the supportive, loving home she had growing up in Edinburgh. The setting also serves as an antagonist. For the people on a ship during the storm, the Sisters, a formation of sharp rocks hidden by the large waves, can be fatal. The people of Brindle use a light to lure a boat in. Then, they can pillage the ship and drown the people who wash ashore. The Sisters make it possible for this action to take place. Minnie and Caleb’s house, Raven’s Roost, serves as an antagonist when Minnie and Caleb order Josie to stay in her room. This is a different home environment than what she is used to, and it is hard to escape because Lamb is on guard. The setting also establishes historical background when Bunting’s afterword reveals wrecking was a common practice, and people were willing to murder others so they could pillage the ships. As mentioned in the novel, an animal, such as a donkey or horse, would walk up and down the cliff with a light tied to its tail to make ships think this was a safe harbor. However, this light led them to their death. This historical background provides a context for the reality of the plot in this novel. This story takes place in 1806 and 1807. As they read, older children will also identify several themes. They will discover how greed can make people overlook the moral implications of their actions. The people of Brindle are so focused on getting more goods they do not think twice about drowning other people and stealing. At the same time, another theme is immoral deeds will be discovered, and people will have to face the consequences of their actions. This is true for the people of Brindle when the ghosts of the people who perished march into town and burn all of the buildings. Furthermore, Josie has Eli’s red notebook, which contains a record of the murderers and those deceased, and she gives this to Mr. Brougham, her solicitor. This leads to the trial of several murderers in Brindle. Children will also learn about the importance of being socially responsible and standing up for what is right, even if that means resisting what everyone else is doing. All of the people of Brindle participate in the plundering of these ships, and they believe God sanctions their actions and is providing for them. However, Josie is horrified by what she sees and refuses to participate; she has no desire to pray because she does not think God supports this behavior. She even fires a pistol in the air to try to distract the men from drowning someone from the wrecked ship. This also relates to the theme of courage. Josie had to step outside of her comfort zone to defy the commands of her aunt and uncle and to try to escape from this place. Another underlying theme is the importance of love. This is evident when Minnie and Caleb refuse to show compassion to Josie. They put her in an environment where it is difficult for her to thrive, especially considering the positive relationship she had with her parents. On the other hand, Josie falls in love with Eli, primarily because of how he treats her with a protective and later caring attitude. Her acquaintance with Eli makes it easier to survive the dire situation she has been placed in. His grandmother, Doss Stuart, also shows kindness when she applies herbs to heal Josie’s ankle. Older children will have an easier time reading the novel because of various elements of style. Bunting utilizes italics to indicate Josie’s thoughts as she processes what is happening. Italics are also used when she is recalling previous conversations with others, such as her conversation with Mrs. Stuart about Eli’s dead parents. Throughout the novel, Josie also poses a series of questions as she learns more about Brindle or as she tries to navigate her emotions. Children will be able to connect to the story because they will likely be asking the same questions as Josie; the readers will be able to identify with Josie’s concerns. However, children may also encounter unfamiliar words, such as sleekiting, bairn, lass, and bannock; these are words typically used in Scotland, so they will need to use context clues to understand what is being said. There is also interesting word choice when Josie talks about the “good people of Brindle Point” (95) even after she knows the truth about them; this suggests the people are blind to immorality of their actions. Bunting uses short sentences for the commands given by Minnie and Caleb, which indicates their curt behavior toward Josie. There are also one-word sentences or phrases when Josie is in a panicked situation and is quickly observing the details of her surroundings. Throughout the novel, Bunting employs repetition, such as “Something was happening, something illicit, and I needed to know what it was” (100). This repetition emphasizes Josie’s curiosity of finding out the truth; it also suggests she will not give up until these horrific actions come to an end. Poignant alliteration is present throughout the novel, such as “dark and deadly on a dark and deadly sea” (110) and “demon of darkness” (158). This style element makes the reader slow down and consider the significance of the words; they often reveal important insights about certain characters in the book. There are similes and metaphors included throughout the novel as well. For instance, the fishing boats are deadly toys in the ocean. These similes and metaphors help students visualize this unfamiliar scenario. These different aspects of style help maintain students’ interest. In order to promote cognitive development, children can observe how the description of the gloomy setting contributes to the mood. They can also compare how Minnie, Caleb, Mrs. Stuart, and Eli treat Josie. Josie feels more at home and loved when talking to Mrs. Stuart and Eli than with her own relatives. As they read, students can hypothesize why Eli is considered forbidden and what secret the people are hiding. They can also predict how this horrific practice of wrecking will come to an end at Brindle’s point. They can also hypothesize about the identity of Josie’s new beau. Because the secret of the ghosts is revealed in the last twenty pages, children will benefit from reflecting on what they read and summarizing the main points of the story, such as why Eli and Josie cannot be together. In terms of social development, older children will be able to observe how previously unknown relatives treat Josie. In this case, they will see the negative impact of the relationship. This will help them regulate their behavior and act with the kindness displayed by Mrs. Stuart and Eli. They will start to understand how it may be necessary to speak out if they witness something morally wrong. Children may identify with these broken relationships, and they will note how Josie is able to claim independence and thrive in doing the morally correct behavior. Readers will also witness the problem of peer pressure and group norms; Josie must come from the outside to point out the problem with wrecking and try to change others’ behavior. This novel falls into the genre of modern fantasy, although this is not readily apparent until the last twenty pages of the novel. Bunting includes both friendly and frightening ghosts. For instance, Eli is a friendly ghost who helps protect Josie and who records the evil deeds of the people in Brindle. Bunting suspends disbelief in the plot by only divulging this secret at the end of the book; it would be more confusing if she initially revealed Eli was a ghost. Eli is portrayed as a fully alive person who often carries Josie to a new destination when her foot is healing. There are hints Eli is a ghost, such as when he says he never gets cold and when no one can kill him. There are also frightening ghosts when all of the victims march across the beach and burn all the houses down. In this case, these ghosts are seeking revenge. Bunting suspends disbelief in the plot by creating believable characters who struggle with their emotions and their ability to control their greed. The story also is believable because the setting is realistic and consistent; the action all takes place in Brindle Point in Scotland. The point of view can be relatable to any teenager who is struggling with family relationships and identity. These believable literary elements help suspend disbelief, especially because the fantasy aspect of the novel is not introduced until the end. This novel can also be classified as historical fiction because it is based on the 19th century practice of wrecking ships on purpose. Forbidden also reflects the time period through Josie’s concern about keeping modest clothes and feeling wary about clinging to Eli when he carries her home. Another hint of the time period is how Josie arrives at Brindle in a carriage. A story of love and resisting the influence of others, older children will find themselves invested in the adventures of Josie Ferguson as she seeks to discover the truth about Brindle and prevent further murderous actions. (SMM)
Cart, Michael, ed. 2015. Taking aim: Power and pain, teens and guns. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). 345pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-232735-2.
This timely book is a collection of short stories related to gun culture and teenagers. It features 14 stories by Walter Dean Myers, Alex Flinn, Tim Wynne-Jones, and others. While each story brings a fresh perspective, some are more impactful than others, and only Myers’ short story takes place in an urban environment. Even so, the collection is a good resource for teenagers interested in guns or the controversy surrounding them. (MC)
Carter, Caela. 2016. Tumbling. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 432pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-451-47300-4.
Twelve (12) young women are competing for five (5) positions on the US Olympic gymnastics team. The judges will also name three alternates, but the girls are competing for the top 5 positions. Told from the perspectives of five of the competitors, Grace, Leigh,. Monica, Wilhelmina, and Camille, readers, ages 12 and up, will vividly detect the physical, emotional, and social challenges of competing in the four gymnastic events, bars, beam, floor, and vault. The interactions among the gymnasts, parents, coaches, friends, judges, and to a certain extent, audiences, mirror the best and worst of this highly competitive sport. There are multiple surprises in the book and the voices of the five narrators do not necessarily reflect the final Olympic team. As Camille says, “Gymnastics isn’t fair to anyone (p. 398)”. A glossary of gymnastic terms at the end of the book is useful, especially for readers unfamiliar the terminology of the sport. (DLN)
Cass, Kiera. 2016. The siren. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 327pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-239199-5 (2009).
Originally published in 2009, The Siren was Cass's first novel. She went on to write the incredibly popular The Selection series, and with renewed interest in the author, Cass has rewritten and republished The Siren. Kathlen made a deal with the Ocean at the point of drowning- be saved from death in exchange for 100 years of service as an ageless siren. 80 years later, Kathlen and her siren sisters are still luring strangers to their deaths, but Kathlen loves spending her time on land. Although she is unable to speak to humans without killing, Kathlen falls in love with a human man, Akinli. What seems to be a doomed relationship has a surprising ending. There are distinct echoes of The Little Mermaid in this story, and the writing isn't excellent, but fans of Cass's Selection series might enjoy reading this standalone romance. (MC)
Colato, René L. 2016. Mamá the alien/Mamá la extraterrestre. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low Books Inc.) 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-89239-298-8. Illustrated by Laura Lacámara.
Young Sofía is playing in her home when she discovers a card that says her own mom is an alien! She knows her father is not an alien and Sofía quickly begins to imagine her life as an alien-hybrid. Over time, Sofía learns that the word “alien” has multiple meanings in English. In this book, children learn about foreigners who move to the United States. The author does a nice job of explaining the complex process of becoming a United States citizen. This book is written in English and Spanish and would be great for language learners. (COM)
Constantine, Robin. 2016. The season of you and me. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 344pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243883-6.
This summer romance features two characters struggling with two different issues. Cassidy's boyfriend broke up with her unexpectedly, so Cassidy leaves town for the summer to work as a camp counselor. She meets Bryan, who has recently been paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. While Bryan mourns all the things he can't do and adjusts to his new situation, Cassidy comes to terms with her break-up. Amidst all of these struggles, the two come together. The story doesn't shy from real struggles for its characters, but the tone stays light and summery throughout, making this a sweet summer read for teen romance fans. (MC)
Cook, Eileen. 2016. With malice. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0544805095.
Readers, 14 and older, who enjoy psychological thrillers, will enjoy this story. Told from the perspective of 18 – year old Jill Charron, with intermittent blogs, messages, newspaper and police reports, readers get a minds-eye view of complex and often sinister relationships among family, friends, police, school personnel and others, including a tour guide. Jill has amnesia, caused by a car accident in Italy and while she cannot remember the trip to Italy or the crash, she is told her best friend, Simone died of injuries suffered in the crash. Readers need to pay attention to all of the details, Jill’s narrative, the blogs, e-mail messages, newspaper and police reports to understand all of the relationships and the specifics leading up to the fatal crash. (DLN)
Cottam, Erica. 2016. Hubbell Trading Post: Trade, tourism, and the Navajo Southwest. University of Oklahoma Press. 368pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-4837-3.
This impressive, extensively researched history of the Hubbell Trading posts and the John Lorenzo Hubbell family in the southwest is engaging. JL Hubbell was not the first trader among the Navajo, but he is one of the more colorful and famous. Readers will discover JL was more than a trader; he also enjoyed politics and was one of the instrumental advocates of Arizona Statehood. His life and interactions with friends, family, and Navajo are clearly, fairly, and accurately shared in this substantive text about a difficult, challenging era in US American history. Now a National Park, the Hubbell Trading Post is thankfully preserved in perpetuity. (DLN)
Cregg, R. J., adapter. 2016. Batman strikes back. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7835-9. Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante. Based on the screenplay by Heath Corson. Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.
Batman and his superhero helpers, Green Arrow, Nightwing, Red Robin, and The Flash, defeat their nemesis, Penguin, and save Gotham City. Readers, ages 4 – 8, will readily recognize the theme of good v. evil and easily follow the conflicts of Batman and friends v. Penguin, also known as Oswald Cobblepot and his robotics. Because the book is affordable, fans will want to collect all of the Batman books. (DLN)
Crossan, Sarah. 2015. One. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 393pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-211875-2.
Tippi and Grace are conjoined twins, about to start high school for the first time. Everyone comments how hard it must be to be joined together, but they can't imagine life apart. The twins also have plenty of other things to worry about - parents losing their jobs, their younger sister's eating disorder, and for Grace, falling in love. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Grace develops a heart condition that forces the sisters to make an unthinkable decision - should they stay together and die or separate and try to live? The story is written in verse and told from Grace's perspective. It's a fast read, but one which takes readers on an emotional journey through joy, desolation, and anxiety, and the story will stay with them long after they are through reading. Recommended. (MC)
Cushman, Karen. 2016. Grayling’s song. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-30180-1.
When Grayling’s mother, Hannah, a wise magician some would label “witch,” is literally rooted to the ground by evil forces, Grayling sets off on a journey to locate others who escaped the curse and find Hannah’s grimoire, a book with her recipes for potions, charms, and spells. Grayling would prefer to stay home and reluctantly begins and eventually successfully completes her mission – led by the grimoire’s song and with friends she meets along the way. Her quest is challenging, and one member is a silent, but deadly nemesis. Cushman fans and young adults fond of fantasy set in the past will appreciate the conflicts and the resolutions in Grayling’s song.Friendship, cooperation, loyalty, and perseverance, are dominant themes complemented with humorous situations and characterizations of friends and foes. (DLN)
Davis, John W. 2016. The trial of Tom Horn. University of Oklahoma Press. 368pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5218-9.
This account of the trial of Tom Horn, an accused murderer of a fourteen-year-old boy, Willie Nickell, is considered to be the only full-length description of the controversial trial. The author, John Davis, is a lawyer, an authentic communicator and analyzer of the events occurring during this society-changing trial. The book begins with the first chapter focusing on the killing of Willie Nickell and the events occurring directly after his horrific murder. Nickell was a well-behaved farm boy unexpectedly shot from far away, and the murderer is originally unknown to the reader. The author then leads the reader in the discovery and conviction of the murder, later identified as Tom Horn, by featuring each chapter with a key event that happened in convicting a murderer for the crime. The chapters featured include one on the coroner’s findings all the way to the conviction and hanging of Tom Horn. Davis includes testimonies of those involved in the trial in order to support the validity of the account, such as the questioning of a witness who talked with Horn before the murder occurred. This informative book not only discusses the trial of Tom Horn, but also talks about his image seen by those living in Wyoming during the early twentieth century.
The group of influential cattlemen had hired murderers to protect their property, which meant that Tom Horn was not expected to be convicted because of their impressive defense team. After the jury found Horn guilty of murder, the system of law of the Wild West, specifically Wyoming, changed. This account documents the change in vigilantism and the struggle of power that occurred in Wyoming between the wealthy and the working citizens. Davis also includes images related to the trial, such as a picture of Tom Horn being escorted to jail, which helps the reader place themselves in the time period and relate to the setting and experiences of those involved in the trial. This book will appeal to older adolescents beginning to analyze research and historical events that changed society’s perception of valor and the controversial view of justified criminality. This book features dense factual evidence, such as quotations from reports of the trial, which young readers will have difficulty comprehending. Younger readers will also have difficulty following the footnotes that are featured in order to support the research presented by the author. Older students and adults will thoroughly enjoy this informative and detailed account of one of the most significant trials of the Wild West. (SW)
Deem, James M. 2015.The prisoners of Breendonk. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). 339pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-544-09664-6. Photography by Lenn Nolis.
The geographic climate of Europe from the early 1900’s was designed to protect regions from the attacks of aggressive enemy forces. Antwerp, Belgium was no exception. From the beginnings of World War I Breendonk was used as a citadel. Damaged in the first world war, it was taken over by the Nazis as a "reception" camp, designed to transport inmates to other locations. No less brutal than other more well-known camps, only one half of the prisoners survived. Camp records are now available with graphic photos, and artwork. James Deem creates stories of the inmates with identities ranging from communists, Jews, resistance fighters, and criminals. The creation of their stories illuminates the incredible spirit of the human being, a theme repeated in stories from camps across Europe. The idea that only the Jews were targeted is well dispelled; individuals from all walks of life were targeted. Photography by Lenn Nolis is significant in that his grandfather was detained there during WWII. This is his first book. A fantastic and well written documentary of personal histories. Highly recommended for mature readers. (BNS)
Delacre, Lulu. 2004. Rafi and Rosi/Rafi y Rosi. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low Books Inc.). 64pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-89239-377-0.
In a chapter book suited for early fluent readers, the audience enjoys short stories of Rafi and Rosi’s day at the beach. Rafi keeps surprising Rosi with all of his magic abilities. However, Rosi becomes increasingly skeptical of her brother. Rafi and Rosi learn to work through their misunderstandings and conflicts. Although this book is written in English, there are some Spanish words in the text. There is a glossary in the beginning of the text that will teach readers new words. (COM)
En un libro ideal para primeros lectores fluidos, el público disfruta los cuentos de Rafi y Rosi y sus día en la playa. Rafi mantiene sorprendente Rosi en todas sus habilidades mágicas. Sin embargo, Rosi siempre se vuelve un poco escéptico de su hermano. Rafi y Rosi aprender a trabajar juntos de los malentendidos y conflictos. Hay un glosario en el principio del texto que enseñará a los lectores palabras nuevas. (COM)
Delacre, Lulu. 2006. Rafi and Rosi carnival!/Rafi y Rosi ¡Carnaval!. Children’s Book Press (Lee & Low Books Inc.). 64pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-89239-379-4.
Rosi is excited to celebrate Carnival; only to soon find out she is too young to participate in the town festival. Rafi must help his sister find a solution. However, Rafi always has a trick up his sleeve! Rafi and Rosi expose young audiences to the cultural importance of Carnival. While there are some Spanish words intertwined in this small chapter book, there is a glossary in the beginning to help readers understand and learn new words. In addition, there are ideas for hands on art activities in the back of the book. (COM)
Rosi está entusiasmada para celebrar el Carnaval; sólo pronto descubre que ella es un demasiado joven para participar formalmente en la ciudad festival. Rafi debe ayudar a su hermana para encontrar una solución. Pero sin embargo, Rafi siempre tiene un truco! Rafi y Rosi exponer a audiencias jóvenes acerca de la importancia cultural de la fiesta de carnaval. Hay un glosario al principio para ayudar a los lectores a entender y aprender nuevas palabras. Además, hay ideas actividades artísticas en la contraportada del libro. (COM)
Denise, Anika. 2016. Baking day at grandma’s. (Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel). 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17157-4 (2014).
Three little bears travel through the snow to spend the day baking at their grandmother’s house. Muted colors convey a loving, caring, sharing, and patient grandmother helping her curious, charming, cheerful, and devoted grandchildren bake a cake. The story definitely suggests a safer time, when young children could walk from their home across a snowy field to grandmother’s house. (DLN)
Denise, Anika. 2016. Monster trucks. HarperCollins Publishers. 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0062345226. Illustrated by Nate Wragg.
Youngsters, ages 3 – 8, interested in trucks, will enjoy this Halloween tale of Frankentruck, Werewolf Truck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and Vampire Truck as they compete in the Monster Truck Race. However, they are not the only racers; Little Blue Bus joins the trucks for the race to the finish line. The monster trucks are not a welcoming bunch, but Little Blue Bus takes the lead and uses her true grit and wits to finish first. The illustrations are striking and convey the action of the trucks and the determination of the Little Blue Bus. (DLN)
DePaola, Tomie. 2015. The magical world of Strega Nona: A treasury. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 224pp. $40.00. ISBN 978-0-399-17345-5.
Fans, young and old, of Strega Nona will treasure this collection of six (6) Strega Nona stories: Strega Nona, Strega Nona meets her match, Strega Nona: Her story, Strega Nona takes a vacation, Strega Nona’s harvest, and Strega Nona’s gift. Illustrations are captivating and the stories are appealing because of the humor, spirit, and practical approach to life. Tomi DePaola introduces each story, and in addition to the stories, the treasury includes a map of Strega Nona’s town, recipes, a lullaby with sheet music, and a CD of the lullaby and the author reading Strega Nona: Her story. (DLN)
Dimopoulos, Elaine. 2015. Material girls. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 322pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-3888-5.
Material Girls was especially dry in the beginning, but the plot improved as the story progressed. The book begins with two perfect lives of citizens in the world of Tap. Tap was a new concept in which children were chosen in the creative industries based on their Tap Page, the website they had worked on through most of seventh grade. The chapters alternate through two points of view, going back and forth between two Taps: A trend setter sitting on the highest court fashion label Torro DeBlanc, and a famous pop star. Both are trying to slow down the money consuming trends, and start up the new eco-chic trend that could save their world from landfills in their backyards. This book was good, not great, but still one that I would reread. (BNS)
Disney Princess Beauty and the Beast: The story of Belle. 2016. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). 112pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-148476720-7.
Disney Princess Snow White and the seven dwarfs: The story of Snow White. 2016. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). 112pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-148476726-9.
Disney Princess Tangled: The story of Rapunzel. 2016. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). 112pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-148476727-6.
The three beloved fairy tales retold by Disney Press are endearing and memorable, primarily because the illustrations mirror the animation of characters and settings from their Disney movies, respectively. The characters, Belle, Snow White, and Rapunzel persevere with spirit while remaining kind and loving people. The books target a young audience of readers between the ages of 3 – 5, but older readers, ages 6 – 9, may also enjoy the stories. (DLN)
Driza, Debra. 2016. MILA 2.0: Redemption. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). 408pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209042-3.
This is the final book in the MILA 2.0 trilogy, a series that follows Mila, a teenage girl built in a secret lab and programmed to do things. MILA 2.0: Redemption finds her on the run from General Holland, who wants to use Mila for his own purposes. Mila is worried that she will put Hunter, the boy she loves, in danger. Whether the series ending will satisfy fans of the previous books will depend on whether or not they enjoy sad endings- this book ends on a tragic note. (MC)
Duane, Diane. 2016. Games wizards play. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 640pp. $17.99. ISBN 768-0-547-41806-3.
In Games wizards play, upper middle and high school children are invited to view the spells of the wizards and explore various parts of the world through the eyes of three young wizards—Kit Rodriguez, Nita Callahan, and Dairine Callahan. The lives of these wizards intertwine throughout the book as Nita and Dairine are sisters; on the other hand, Kit and Nita have worked together as team in times of crisis and have now established their relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend. In this omniscient third person point of view, older children can understand the perspectives of Nita, Dairine, and Kit during certain situation as the point of view rotates among these characters. Even though all of these characters are wizards, Duane encourages readers to suspend their disbelief by creating believable characters. They often think about relationships, which is something readers can identify with. Older children, ages 12 and up, will also recognize the multilayered conflicts present throughout the novel. Nita faces a person vs. person conflict after she and Kit are assigned to mentor Penn Shao-Feng. Penn does not treat her with respect or value her opinion. Instead, her refers to her as “Juanita” and often uses sexual innuendo. Because of this situation regarding Nita, another person vs. person conflict arises later in the novel between Kit and Penn; Kit challenges Penn to a duel after Penn unfairly says Kit doesn’t deserve to have Nita as his girlfriend. A person vs. person conflict becomes more evident as the reader slowly pulls together clues about the relationship between Dairine’s mentee Mehrnaz Farrahi and her family. Her family emotionally abuses her by instilling in her the belief her spell will fail. This makes it difficult for her to accept and feel happy as her spell continues to excel. An underlying conflict throughout the book is person vs. nature. The spells presented at the Invitational focus on how to fix or prevent negative aspects of nature. For instance, Mehrnaz’s spell can stop earthquakes. This conflict against nature intensifies at the climax when both Penn and Dairine encounter the plasma from the Sun. Another underlying conflict is character vs. a character who is a higher power. The Powers That Be manipulate some of the action based on their knowledge, such as the pairings of mentors and mentees. On the other hand, Nita encounters the Lone Power, an antagonist, during her dreams, and It reminds her many people forget they are playing the game. These wizards may sometimes forget the influence of the Lone Power and the Powers That Be. Duane suspends disbelief by using realistic settings of cities around the world; most of the action takes place in these realistic settings. Her descriptions of both Earth and the other worlds also make it believable. Older children can trace the noticeable development of several characters. One major change in Nita is her acceptance of her visionary gift during the climax. Prior to this, she feared and dreaded her dreams because she worried about how she would resolve these problems when they did arrive. She also becomes more empathetic to Penn when she sees how worried he is about his spell presentation before the judges. Both Nita and Kit develop as they adjust to the new change in their relationship a boyfriend and girlfriend. Mehrnaz, Dairine’s mentee, initially hero worships other wizards she meets at the Invitational, especially Irina, the Planetary for Earth. However, Mehrnaz becomes more insecure and upset when her spell is well received by the judges; she is constantly worried about how her family will react. In the final round of the Invitational, she is able to feel more confident in her and not worry how her family will react. Penn, Kit and Nita’s mentee, displays some change. Throughout the novel, he is arrogant, confident, and rude to most people he meets. However, this behavior shifts when he starts feeling overwhelmed in the last two rounds of the Invitational; he gets so nervous he can barely remember how to talk about his spell. Each time, he can recover and returns to his lofty behavior. The biggest change arises during the climax when he discovers a fragment of the Sun’s soul, called Simurgh, had been living inside of him. This other entity in his body may have influenced his interactions with others. Another change evident is evident in Dairine. The reader notices how she tries to cope with the unusual disappearance of her good friend, Roshaun, who lives in another world, Wellakh. However, Dairine becomes happier when intense circumstances lead to the discovery of Roshaun. Duane suspends disbelief by creating characters who display behaviors expected of a typical teenager. Throughout the novel, the setting serves as both mood and antagonist. Each chapter title is a location, which helps establish where the action will be taking place. Duane also incorporates a detailed description of the place within the first page or two of the chapter; she appeals to the five senses, particularly sight. Older children will be able to easily visualize this location and place themselves in the action. It is also believable because most of the action takes place on the Earth. When it does occur elsewhere, it is often a familiar location, such as the Moon. The setting serves as a mood when Dairine visits Mumbai to help Mehrnaz with her spell. There is a mood of insecurity and mistrust as Dairine starts to see how Mehrnaz’s family treats her almost as a prisoner; they don’t allow Mehrnaz to leave the house, and they don’t believe she can be successful in the competition. In another setting, the mood is more exhilarating but also nervous. For instance, at the Javits Center and Canberra, the best wizards participate in the Invitational where they display their spell to other wizards and judge. The wizards are excited about this event, and there is energy in the air. However, this setting of competition becomes more nerve wracking as the competition becomes more intense. The setting also serves as an antagonist at the end of the story when Penn’s spell accidentally redirects power from the Sun back toward the Moon where the Invitational is being held. Similarly, Dairine discovers where Roshaun disappeared, and she must go the Sun and get him out. As they read, older children will also identify several themes. They will learn about the importance of patience and perseverance as Kit and Nita try to help Penn despite his determined reluctance to listen to their advice. However, this all becomes worth it at the climax when the soul of Sun returns to the correct place; this soul, Simurgh, no longer inhabits Penn’s body. Kit and Nita’s goal had been to help Penn succeed, and they were able to help him during this transitional moment. Another theme is living in the moment. Nita, a visionary, has the ability to see what can happen in the future. However, these give her anxiety as she tries to understand the consequences of the events she foresees. Several other wizards tell her to live in the moment instead of worrying too much. This advice becomes helpful when she is able help convince Penn to take away the control structures in his spell so the soul can return to the sun. Duane also incorporates the theme of how relationships can be complicated, but it’s important to support each other in the difficult times. For instance, Nita and Kit feel awkward after labeling their relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend; they also feel pressured by others’ expectations of what it means to be boyfriend and girlfriend. Despite this change, Nita and Kit invest time in their relationship and try to get to a point where they can comfortably discuss their feelings. Older children may identify with these feelings as they develop more relationships. An underlying theme is good vs. evil. Several times, Nita encounters the Lone Power during her dream and others mention this name as well. Older children can infer there has been conflict in the past and will be more in the future. Because the wizards have spells to help prevent natural disasters, children also see how humans have the power to change their environment, which is a common theme in modern fantasy. Duane suspends disbelief by incorporating universal themes. As this is the tenth book in a series, older children will have an easier time following the style if they have read the previous books. However, Duane still incorporates context clues to help other readers. “Dai stihó” is repeated throughout the novel, and students begin to understand this is a greeting. Duane also includes words in italics. This indicates internal thoughts, but it also communicates telepathy; Nita and Kit can sometimes read each other’s thoughts. It also indicates between humans and unhuman objects. For instance, Dairine communicates a Spot, a spider-like computer, using telepathy, and Nita has Bobo, referred to as an outrider, who gives Nita information and helps record her dreams. These wizards also communicate in universal language, called the Speech, but Duane keeps these interactions in English so readers can still understand. There are similes included throughout the story, which help the reader connect unlikely events to earthly phenomenon. For instance, part of a spell is compared to the petals of a flower. Older children also will notice the swear words throughout the novel. In order to promote cognitive development, children can observe the key details presented about each setting. They can then compare these locations around the world and on other planets. They can also compare the relationships between mentor and mentee and parent and child. For instance, Dairine has a more positive relationship with Mehrnaz than Kit and Nita do with Penn. On the other hand, Mehrnaz and Penn both seem to have complicated relationships with their families. Older children will also be able to hypothesize the significance of Penn and his spell. Throughout the novel, Duane provides hints there may be more to Penn than meets the eye, which is true. Because this is longer novel, older children will benefit from summarizing the key events and details. In terms of social development, older children will be able to observe how different characters treat others who are of higher rank. At the same time, they will be able to regulate their behavior when they see how Penn initially disregards Nita’s knowledge because she is a girl; Penn has an outdated view of women. They may also identify with the different family relationships modeled. For instance, Nita and Dairine live with their loving father, but their mother died recently. On the other hand, Mehrnaz has a large family, but her father isn’t included and other family members disregard Mehrnaz’s talent. Similarly, Penn can never please his grandfather. Older children can also regulate their behavior after seeing there are consequences for behavior. Kit challenges Penn to a duel at the Invitational, and this rash action almost leads to their wizardry title being revoked. Overall, older children may draw connections because of the emphasis on relationships. This novel falls into the genre of modern fantasy. Duane suspends disbelief through her use of key literary elements. Older children enter into a new perspective of the world when Nita has the ability to shape shift into a whale and communicate with other whales. They also enter into another world when Nita transports them into an empty portal space where they can practice Penn’s spell without worry of it affecting anyone; this space seems to be infinite. It also has the ability to recreate a sun for Penn to practice his spell on. A story of the challenges of wizardry, older children will find themselves invested in the adventures of Nita, Kit, and Dairine as they try to help their mentees and prevent an inevitable crisis. (SMM)
Duncan, Alexandra. 2015. Sound. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 486pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-222017-2.
This companion novel to the science fiction book Salvage follows teenage Miyole, who readers saw as a younger girl in the first novel. By faking her age, Miyole has landed a coveted position as a research assistant on board the Deep Sound Research Institute spaceship. She risks it all when she meets a girl named Cassia, who is rescued by Miyole’s spaceship after her rover is attacked and looted, and her brother is kidnapped. Miyole feels morally conflicted, but abandons her post to help Cassia find her brother, and along the way can’t help herself from falling for her. The future world-building is detailed and inventive, from the post-climate change Earth to the diverse characters and cultures in the space colonies. This fast-paced and richly-developed novel stands on its own. Readers who haven't read Salvage can still enjoy Sound. Recommended for high school readers who enjoy science fiction and diverse character representation. (MC)
Ehlert, Lois. 2016. Rrralph. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 36pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5211-3. (2011).
Collage illustrations characterize Ralph, a “talking” dog, as vocal, inquisitive, energetic, terrified, happy, and sleepy. Ralph is delightful and although he cannot speak, Ralph can still express himself. Readers, ages 1 – 4, will learn multiple meanings of words such as roof, bark, rough, wolf, and yep. Dog lovers of all ages will appreciate the humorous text and vibrant illustrations of Ralph and his experiences. (DLN)
Dunrea, Olivier. 2016. Me and Annie McPhee. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16808-6. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.
Rhyme is the notable quality in this cumulative counting story. Readers are also exposed to the homonyms of “sea” and “see” repeatedly throughout the book and if youngsters are observant, they will find clues in the illustrations about the characters on the next page. For example, a small dog runs through the palm trees on the first full page spread about the “one tiny island.” The characters on the next page are “two wee dogs who thought they were frogs.” On this full page spread, a pig is hiding behind a palm tree, leading readers to predict the next set of characters will be, pigs, specifically, “three perky pigs all wearing wigs.” The tiny island becomes congested with 57 animals, and readers, ages 3 – 8, may agree with Annie McPhee when she explains “TOO CROWDED FOR ME!” But readers will wonder where she and her friend may go? (DLN)
Emerson, Kevin. 2015. Encore to an empty room. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). 313pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-213398-4.
Summer Carlson continues to manage a band of exiles called Dangerheart in this sequel to Exile. Now that the band is making it big and on the verge of a record deal, everything should be going Summer’s way. However, she finds herself torn between college and her potential music career with Dangerheart. Weaving in with this plot is the continuing mystery of the lost songs of band member Caleb’s father, a music legend. Fans of Exile will enjoy this continuation. The pace is fast and the characters stay consistent. (MC)
Erdrich, Louise. 2016. Makoons: Book five of The Birchbark House series. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 176pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0060577933. Pencil illustrations by Louise Erdrich. Jacket art by Aza Erdrich Dorris.
Makoons follows The Birchbark House, The game of Silence, The Porcupine Year, and Chickadee. Each book in the series can stand alone, but readers, grades 3 +, will more thoroughly understand the history of one Anishinaabe or Ojibwe family as it moves from Minnesota across the Red River to Dakota Territory and then finally, Turtle Mountain, if they read all of the books in the ordered they were written. Themes of perseverance, hope, adaptation, family, friendship, love, loss, and survival dominate all of the stories. In the fifth book, Makoons begins to heal after the return of his twin brother and soulmate, Chickadee (kidnapped in Chickadee), and the family continues to adapt to life on the plains. Buffalo and horses replace fish and canoes, and throughout all of the challenges, the family remembers tradition through stories and laughter. Characters are vividly developed and the charming pencil sketches help readers visualize the new life of Omakayas and her extended family, including her sons Chickadee and Makoons. Readers with little or no background in the Ojibwe or Anishinaabe language will appreciate the glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the book. (DLN)
Evans, Cordelia. 2016. Yo, Gabba Gabba! Colors are the best. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5658-6. Based on the TV series Yo Gabba Gabba!™ as seen on Nick Jr.™
Colors are the theme in Gabba Land and the characters enjoy sharing their favorite colors. Foofa loves pink, Brobee likes green, Muno prefers red, and Toodee loves blue. Each would like everything to be their favorite color and changes their world to reflect only the color they choose. Eventually, they discover that a world full of different colors is more pleasurable and exciting. Children, ages 2 – 5, will enjoy the visual aspect and agree with the characters that many colors is better than one. (DLN)
Everett, Mikaela. 2015. The unquiet. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 453pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238127-9.
In a setting with two parallel Earths, Lirael's Earth is fading away. She has been trained from a young age to infiltrate the other version of Earth, insidiously taking the place of her parallel self on a French farm. Her brutal training and preparations for a war between the Earths left her conflicted and broken, and she seeks to make sense of her life with other “sleeper” soldiers living around her. The world and character building can feel sparse, even as the plot feels plodding and overly-long. However, the novel works with a unique idea and comes with some powerful moments. Teen readers who enjoy a more subtle dystopia that slowly unfurls will enjoy The Unquiet. (MC)
Fan, Terry, and Fan, Eric. 2016. The night gardener. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3978-7.
The night gardener encourages children to be inspired by one person’s positive influence on a neighborhood called Grimloch Lane. A young boy, William, becomes intrigued by the trees in his neighborhood. Someone has been clipping the leaves into different animal shapes, such as an owl near the orphanage. Observant readers will find a clue in the pages preceding the title page as to why the night gardener chose this animal. Younger children, ages 4-8, will recognize the initial person vs. society conflict as the night gardener takes on the daunting task of using the trees to transform gloomy Grimloch Lane. However, shortly after William discovers the identity of the night gardener and helps clip the trees in the park, the seasons begin to change. William experiences a person vs. nature conflict as he helplessly watches leaves fall and snow cover the ground, leaving children to wonder if William and the rest of Grimloch Lane will resort to gloominess again. Told from the third person omniscient point of view, students can explore William’s development by monitoring his actions and facial expressions. They can infer William is an orphan, particularly because of the sign on the building, “Grimloch Orphanage,” and the lack of a parental figure throughout most of the book. However, the whole neighborhood, including the trees, is affected by the night gardener’s work. As they read, children will easily follow the straightforward style and be able to anticipate the action. In order to promote social development, children can consider how the whole community changes after the efforts of one man—the night gardener—and how he also steps in as a father figure for William. In order to promote cognitive development, they will be able to hypothesize the night gardener’s next topiary and experience excitement as they find trees shaped as a cat, rabbit, parakeet, elephant, and dragon. They can then compare the illustrations and discuss the illustrators’ decisions. Line is used effectively to create the horizontal and vertical lines of the houses on Grimloch Lane, which suggest safety, stability, and a lack of necessary change. The curved lines of some tree trunks draw attention to these objects and elicit a sense of unpredictability and impending change. Furthermore, the curved, bold lines of the gate leading to Grimlock Park emphasize a new opportunity for William. The organic shapes and large size of the animals also focus children’s attention and make them pause as they take in the setting. The night gardener’s ladder, forming a right triangle with the ground and the tree, suggests safety, even though ladders could be considered dangerous. The use of color reflects the emotions felt by William and other people in the neighborhood. In the beginning, the background remains black and white, making the green, owl-shaped tree stand out. In each scene, more color, primarily green, is added to the landscape and the people observing the trees, signifying a restoration of life. In order to fully appreciate this change, children can compare the initial illustrations of Grimloch Lane to the one at the end. They may argue the setting displays a more noticeable shift than William, as the color establishes a mood ranging from sadness to happiness. The illustrators use light to emphasize the moon’s utility as a companion to the night gardener while he clips the trees. The drawing of individual leaves on each tree contributes texture, as does the shading of the houses, clothes, and tree trunks; this adds to the children’s wonder of nature in contrast to the city. The illustrations will draw their attention and complement their reading of The night gardener. A story of one person’s ability to change a community, children will find themselves eagerly joining William as he observes the animal topiaries and then develops his own. (SMM)
Farish, Terry. 2015. Either the beginning or the end of the world. Carolrhoda Books (Carolrhoda Lab). 190pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-4677-7483-3.
Sofie is half-Scottish and half-Cambodian, living in New Hampshire with her fisherman father. This novel follows what happens when Sofie’s long-absent and now pregnant mother returns to look after her while her father is away. Things are further complicated by Sofie’s encounter with a recently-returned army medic on the beach. Sofie begins falling in love with the soldier and starts coming to terms with her family and her mother’s background. The writing is lyrical, although occasionally the poetic style distances the reader from the characters’ feelings. While the love story is difficult to completely buy into, the novel portrays PTSD, families, and differing cultures in a realistic and complex way. (MC)
Flinn, Alex. 2015. Mirrored. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 373pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-213451-6.
Flinn has written modern retellings of Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and more. With Mirrored, she adds Snow White to her repertoire. The first section of the novel is told from the perspective of Violet, a homely high school girl who just wants one particular boy to like her. Violet discovers that she has magical abilities, and begins to use them in ruthless ways to get what she wants. The second part is told by Celine, who knows Violet as her gorgeous stepmother. As Celine grows older and more beautiful, her stepmother becomes monstrous. Celine soon finds herself in danger, and all of the elements from the original fairy tale – a rescue from a huntsman, a house of seven dwarves, a poisoned fruit, and a revival from true love’s kiss - are all here, but perhaps not in quite the way the reader would expect. Although the novel has some problems with characterization and runs on the overly-long side, the pacing is good and there are some clever allusions to the original story. (MC)
Flintham, Thomas. 2016. Animal numbers. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 24pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6937-1. (2015).
Youngsters, ages 6 months to 4, can learn numbers 1 – 10 as well as various colors and animals while reading this charming story. A black whale, yellow lions, blue bears, pink elephants, green crocodiles, white and black pandas, red fox, purple, white and yellow penguins, red parrots, and amber monkeys are easily recognizable for developing eyes. The chaotic ending will appeal to readers and listeners alike. (DLN)
Friedman, Becky, adapter. 2015. Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood: Daniel goes to the playground. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp $3.99. ISBN 978-1481451987. Based on the screenplay, The playground is different with Baby, written by Jennifer Hamburg. Poses and layouts by Jason Fruchter. Copyright The Fred Rogers Company.
The introductory sentence will be familiar to the friends of Fred Rogers, “It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” But while the day is beautiful, conflict exists when Daniel is ignored while his parents tend to his baby sister, Margaret. However, thanks to sage advice from mom, “When a baby makes things different, find a way to make things fun,” conflicts are resolved and Daniel, with his friends, not only adapt to change but celebrate the new ways of doing things together, including Baby Margaret. It truly is a “beautiful day in the neighborhood.” (DLN)
Friel, Helen. 2016. Midnight creatures: A pop-up shadow search. Chronicle Books (Laurence King Publishing). 10pp. $24.95. ISBN 9781780678221.
Helen Friel, a freelance paper engineer and illustrator living and working in London, UK, has created a phenomenally unique pop-up book for readers ages 3 and up (however, young hands may need help with the pages and the requisite flashlight needed to find the animals). The pages are scenes of different ecosystems and representative inhabitants of each area, completely visible with a flashlight. Thankfully, the directions for finding the creatures in each scene are stated on the back cover. Nocturnal animals and ecosystems represent different parts of the world, e.g., the fossa from Madagascar, the greater mouse-deer from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand; and the red-eyed tree frog from Mexico and northern South America, all living in dense jungles. Other ecosystems include the dark cave, moonlit woodland, and the deep ocean. All of the paper pop-ups are slate gray, complemented by white images of the animals visible in the shadows of each ecosystem. The text and pictures/shadows are ideal writing prompts, but classroom teachers will need to dim the lights because the book is ideally suited for the dark. (DLN)
Friend, David. 2016. With any luck, I’ll drive a truck. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16956-4. Illustrated by Michael Rex.
A youngster and his collection of trucks grow each year. As trucks are added, youngsters, ages 2 – 7, become reading passengers in different trucks. While adult readers may recognize the young boy is using his imagination to drive each vehicle, early readers many not understand the boy is pretending to drive each truck in his collection until the end of the story. Although the main character is male, and word choices are occasionally sexist, for example, “fireman’s truck” is used rather than firefighter’s truck, girls and boys can increase their affection and knowledge of trucks as they read Friend’s tale about driving a different trucks. Children will appreciate the variety of trucks in the story; a cement mixer, backhoe, firetruck, crane, 18-wheeler, flatbed trailer, combine, earthmover, paver, forklift, jackhammer, bulldoze, (snow) plow, tractor, dump truck, and trash compactor. Because the illustrations are large and colorful, and the words of the trucks are printed in a vibrant color, youngsters can readily associate the type of truck with the distinctive features of each vehicle. (DLN)
Gardner, Scot. 2015. The dead I know. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 201pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-23274-7.
In The Dead I Know, Aaron goes on a journey, being trained as a funeral director, facing death, and picking at a scab on his heart from his dark past. The story starts as Aaron goes to the funeral home; looking for a job. John, his boss and teacher, helps him along his path despite the many obstacles in their way. This story was haunting, wonderfully mysterious, and an absolute page-turner. Scot Gardner is a master wordsmith: Crafting each word and carefully placing each into its proper place, developing a story to remember. Bravo! (BNS)
Garza, Xavier. (2015). La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otro cuentos/The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and other stories. Piñata Press (Arte Público Press). 144 pgs. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-816-9. Illustrated by Xavier Garza.
Garza has created and retold a variety of short stories that are told in both English and Spanish. It is obvious these stories were all originally written in English and later translated into Spanish because of the phrases that only exist in English and have been poorly translated into Spanish. The topics of these stories vary from the traditional Spanish tale of La Llorona, a witch, to selfies and many different and unheard of, supernatural creatures. The stories are only 8-10 pages long and do not take long to read. These stories would be perfect for late elementary or early middle school students because they are short and use relatively simple vocabulary. The stories will captivate readers and pull them into reading more of them. They are mostly dialogue focused, so there is little descriptive detail within the stories. Also, because the stories are so short, there isn’t much growth in any of the characters and it is hard to form a connection with them. There is a black and white drawing somewhere in each short story that illustrates the main part of the story. The story of this book’s namesake, The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona is similar to an American ghost story that is told by the children’s grandfather to scare them. Margarito doesn’t believe his grandfather’s stories until he is walking home after hearing the tale of La Llorona and the Donkey Lady, when these two women find him where they are lurking near the river. This story brings in the traditional Hispanic tale of La Llorona but introduces it in a friendlier way for younger children. The illustration for this tale is of La Llorona and the Donkey Lady fighting in the river. Overall, Garza has done a nice job of drawing in an audience to read about these strange supernatural characters and a few classic Hispanic tales. (EPK)
Gilmore, Grace. 2016. Tales from Maple Ridge: The new kid. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4747-8. Illustrated by Petra Brown.
Logan Pryce is determined to solve the mystery of the missing library book from his one-room schoolhouse in Maple Ridge, Illinois (late 1800s). Classmates, including Logan’s sister, Tess, accuse the new student from Chicago, Wally, of stealing the book, but Logan and his friend Anthony avoid the mean spirited, indicting discussion about the missing title, Birds of North America. The large print, credible characters, exciting conflicts (including a couple of mysterious events), Midwest setting, and black and white complementary sketches contribute to a readable chapter storybook for children ages 5 – 9. (DLN)
Gonzalas, Diane B. 2015. A bean and cheese taco birthday/Un cumpleaños con tacos de frijoles con queso. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-812-1. Illustrated by Robert Trujillo.
Brothers Darío and Ariel are starting to plan for Ariel’s fifth birthday party. While Darío tries to convince his brother to have a party similar to his fifth birthday, Ariel has to decide what he wants to do. After choosing a simple party in the park, Darío is a little disappointed. However, Darío quickly loses his skepticism as he soon finds out how fun a simple party can be! Darío teaches young readers an important life lesson about what really matters. This book is written in English and Spanish, so it’s great for language learners! (COM)
Gonzales, Diane B. 2016. The story circle/el círculo de cuentos. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 32pp. $14.14. ISBN 978-1-55885-826-8. Illustrated by Wendy Martin.
After a terrible storm closes down a school, students return to school one day to find that all of their books are gone! Not sure how to have story time without books, the teacher suggests she tells a story and her students can imagine pictures in their minds. Soon, the whole class is having a blast creating and imaging stories! It teaches kids the power and capabilities of their own imagination. This book is in English and Spanish, so it’s great for language learners. (COM)
Griffin, Paul. 2016. When friendship followed me home. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3816-4.
Multiple conflicts, person v. self, person v. person, and person v. society propel the plot as the lives of Ben Coffin, a former foster child, a stray dog, Flip, and Halley, a young girl come together, and then fall apart. Ben, Halley, and even Flip share a love of literature and books bind them together. Their lives are not perfect; Ben’s adopted mother dies suddenly, Flip’s owner returns, and Halley is battling a rare form of cancer. Themes of friendship, love, happiness, loss, and the meaning of home resonate throughout this realistic story for young adults in grades 5 – 8. (DLN)
Hamilton, Kersten. 2016. Yellow copter. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 26pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99796-3 (2015). Illustrated by Valeria Petrone.
Although the style of writing or illustrations is not consistent throughout the board book, early readers, 0 – 3, can associate the printing of the words, “yellow copter,” with the copter itself because both are a bright yellow, one of the first colors children recognize. Onomatopoeias: the beep, beep, beep of yellow copter’s radio, the whip, whip, whip of its blades, the swoosh of passing planes, and the wheeeeeee of the teacher’s expression of delight when she is rescued; help readers understand the sequence of events. The bright yellow copter, the white letters (skywriting) of the phrase “HURRY YELLOW COPTER,” a dazzling orange Ferris wheel with green, yellow, blue, and red chairs; a forest green crane, emphasize the excitement of the rescue – A teacher is stuck on a Ferris wheel and only yellow copter can move her to safety. (DLN)
Hannigan, Katherine. 2016. Dirt + water = mud. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234517-2.
Both a math concept and picture storybook with multiple themes, including the value of friendship, Dirt+water = mud, encourages readers, ages 3 – 8, to use their imaginations as they follow a girl and her dog through multiple scenarios. Dirt and water begin the sequence of math problems with interesting solutions, for example a sheet on a clothes line becomes a cape, then a parachute, then a pirate’s sash. The illustrations vividly complement the problems and solutions, including the resolution of apology and forgiveness indicating the girl + dog are best friends forever. (DLN)
Hartzler, Aaron. 2015. What we saw. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 321pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233874-7.
Kate and her longtime friend and love interest Ben were both at the party where Stacey Stallard was allegedly raped by members of their high school basketball team. As accusations come out, the school, the town, and the media twist the story. Kate's viewpoint of the party's events begin to shift as she uncovers more information, especially when she comes into contact with a determined reporter. The novel is a painfully accurate portrayal of rape culture, and the ways that people ignore it or deny it for convenience. Some parts of the story are sickening and hard to read, but this novel is a realistic, important story that is sadly relevant in many high schools and colleges. Recommended for teen readers. (MC)
Hassick, Peter H. (ed.). 2016. Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne II. University of Oklahoma Press. 328pp. $75.00. ISBN 978-0-8061-5208-0.
Frederic Remington is an American icon and chronicler of the West through his prolific paintings, illustrations, sculpture, and written works. Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne II is itself a work of art with its quality paper and binding, lustrous reproductions, historical photographs, and meticulous research. The work comprises seven chapters that begin with the authentication process. Remington is perhaps the most “faked” American artist and this chapter provides fascinating details on how his real work is identified. The chapters that follow chronicle the shared imagery of Remington and William F. Cody, the illustrative work of Remington and Howard Pyle, Remington as a sportsman and horseman, his vision of the early westerners (“Men with The Bark On”), and his experiences at the Taos Pueblo and the Taos Artist Colony. Throughout this work, Remington historians provide biographical details, insights into his ever-evolving style, and his opinions on a range of subjects from the temperament of different Native American tribes to the place of women in conflict situations.
Purchasers of Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonne II are entitled to unlimited access to a website that features over 3,200 of his works, reprints of his essays, timelines and biographies included in the catalogue, multiple search capabilities, and ongoing updates to the website. This work is both a treasure and tribute to this iconic American artist. Lovers of western art and western history will be drawn to this essential resource. Recommended for secondary and adult readers. (OJB)
Hay, Sam. 2016. Stella and the night sprites: Knit-knotters. Scholastic Inc. (Branches). 96 pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-81998-5. Cover art by Turine Tran and Liz Herzog.
Scholastic’s Branches imprint targets young independent readers interested in fast-moving plots, recognizable themes, and engaging characters. Stella and the night sprites: Knit-knotters, is the first in a series appealing to young female readers in grades 1 – 3, or highly proficient readers in kindergarten. Initially, Stella is upset because she needs to wear glasses, however, her glasses allow her to focus on objects and see magical night sprites. One sprite, Trixie, is particular naughty as she ties knots in children’s hair. However, Stella thinks of a solution readers will find satisfying. (DLN)
Hemmings, Kaui Hart. 2015. Juniors. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). 314pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17360-8.
With its Oahu, Hawaii setting, this novel about Lea, a teenager finding her identity, is a good summer read. Lea is part Hawaiian, part Mainlander, and is being raised single handedly by her actress mother. She becomes friends with Will and Whitney West, spending time at their mansion. Lea starts the novel feeling out place, but as the novel progresses she comes into her own. As she grows more attracted to Will, the story’s credibility slips. It’s a breezy novel that makes for a quick read without much to take away from it once it’s done. (MC)
Hillery, Louise. 2016. Bold women in Indiana history. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 220pp. $14.00. ISBN 978-0878426553.
Just as the title suggests, Bold women in Indiana history is a collection of short biographies about the lives of women who came from Indiana. Some of these women include Marie Bailly, who was the first person to settle in Indiana, the Overbeck sisters, who were award-winning ceramic artists and art teachers, and poet Sarah Bolten. These stories show the lives of these women who rose above the limitations of their times to becomes successful. Most of these women lived in a time where women were not encouraged to be strong and independent; and society expected females to marry and work at home. Not only did these women overcome sexism, but also racism and many other kinds of oppression. For example, Vivian Carter was a black woman who co-founded and was an executive in Vee-Jay Records in the 1950’s. This nonfiction book is full of stories of inspiring women from Indiana who overcame obstacles to become bold heroines of their times. (KAB)
Hilton, Marilyn. 2015. Full cicada moon. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 389pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42875-6.
The year is 1969, and teenager Mimi moves to Vermont with her family. She dreams of someday being an astronaut, but as one of the few non-white students in her school, Mimi finds plenty of obstacles in her way. Despite judgment based on her race and her gender, Mimi defies expectations, fights for her right to take shop class, and makes true friendships. The story, told in verse, covers Mimi’s first year in Vermont as she tries to fit in and be brave. The writing is beautiful and the characters ring true. Students who enjoy realistic and historical fiction will enjoy reading about her brave character and real-life struggles. (MC)
Hoge, Robert. 2015. Ugly. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 200pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-425-28775-0.
In the words of Robert Hoge, he is “the ugliest person you have never met.” Over the years others have called him, “Flat nose,” “Toothpick legs,” “Stumpy,” “Go-Go-Gadget-Rob,” and six others he lists. Born with a tumor smack dab in the middle of his face and two underdeveloped, misshapen legs, Robert had some real obstacles to face. Aided by a supportive family and his own dogged determination, Robert faces multiple surgeries and the cruelty of classmates and strangers with realism and aplomb. We cringe as Rob’s love poem to a 10 year old classmate is intercepted; we marvel at the ingenuity of dad as he takes Rob’s broken prosthetic leg to the local auto shop for welding; and we cheer when Rob says, “no,” to yet another operation to make him look more “normal.”
Told with straightforward honesty, Robert Hoge seeks no sympathy or disability award. He invites readers in to share his rather normal life as someone not so normal in appearance. There is no sappiness in this story, just a likeable man from a likeable family living life in a little different way. I am tempted to say this is an inspirational story, but I doubt that Hoge would find that a compliment, so I will say it is an eventful life journey that readers from elementary through adult will enjoy. (OJB)
Holub, Joan. 2016. This little president: A presidential primer. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 26pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5850-4. Illustrated by Daniel Roode.
Though misleading because presidents of the United States were not little in either size or age, the rhyming, lyrical text introduces youngsters, ages 1 – 4, to interesting facts about ten presidents of the United States: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. Thankfully, to avoid misconceptions about the number of U. S. presidents, all are caricatured in the last two pages of the book along with a statement of encouragement, “Hey! Maybe you’ll be president someday!” (DLN)
Hopkinson, Deborah. 2016. Steamboat School: Inspired by a true story. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142312196-1. Illustrated by Ron Husband.
When Missouri passed a law in 1847 forbidding schooling for African American, one teacher finds a unique way to circumvent the despicable edict. The teacher, the Reverend John Berry Meachum (1789 – 1854), moves his school to a steamboat on the Mississippi River, a neutral zone, exempt from the Missouri law. This is an inspiring tale of one man’s efforts to educate and inspire young African Americans regardless of the era; President Lincoln gave his Emancipation Proclamation address January 1, 1863, eleven years after the death of John Berry Meachum. (DLN)
Jiménez, Joe. 2016. Bloodline. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 132pp. $11.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-828-2.
High school student Abraham lives at home with his grandmother. Abraham tends to get in a lot of fights, despite his girlfriend and grandmother’s disapproval. His grandmother believes Abraham needs a male role model in his life, so she invites Abraham’s uncle to live with them, even though Abraham dislikes him. Bloodline presents complicated philosophical questions about morality to a young adult audience. Are people born evil? Can people change? This book is recommended to a young adult audience who are interested in questions about humanity and self-identity. (COM)
Kanellos, Nicolás. 2016. El torneo de trabalenguas/the tongue twister tournament. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-832-0. Illustrated by Anne Vega.
It is time for a tongue twister tournament! Contestants take their stand as they recite tongue twisters to the audience. This interactive book is in English and Spanish, so it is fun for language learners and great for practicing tricky sentences! There is also a nice anthology of the tongue twisters in the back of the book, so readers can continue reciting these silly statements on their own. (COM)
Kang, Anna. 2016. Can I tell you a secret?. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-239684-6. Illustrated by Christopher Weyant.
Montague, also known as Monty, believes he has a secret. But readers, ages 4 – 8, will easily discover his secret, as do his parents. Monty is a frog and unlike all other frogs, he is afraid of the water and does not swim. He avoids swimming, finding ways to mask his fear of the water. The story is an ideal medium for discussing fears of children and ways to overcome irrational, illogical angst. The bold black lines outlining Monty, highlight his personality and convey the authenticity and seriousness of Montague’s fear of the water. (DLN)
Keene, Carolyn. 2016. Nancy Drew Clue book: Big top flop. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin Paperbacks). 96pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4000-4. Illustrated by Peter Francis.
Young readers, primarily girls between the ages of 6 – 9, looking for chapter books with interesting themes, plots, and characters will enjoy the Nancy Drew Clue Books. Nancy Drew is eight and always carries her clue notebook just in case she and friends Bess Marvin, and George Fayne need to solve a mystery. In this story, the girls are looking for the culprit who switched the Junior Ringmaster’s whistle George intended to blow at the circus opening night with another. The switch was an accident and the Clue Crew of Nancy, Bess, and George eventually solved the mystery. The conflicts in the book are age-appropriate, and the theme of friendship is the dominate message for readers. Previous Nancy Drew Clue Crew books include Pool party puzzler, Last lemonade standing, and A star witness. According to the publisher, the next Clue Crew book will be Movie madness. (DLN)
Kephart, Beth. 2014. Going over. Chronicle Books. 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1452- 124575.
Set in 1983 in East and West Berlin when the two cities are divided by a wall built in 1961, readers immediately will empathize with the families, friends, and lovers separated by a formidable, terrifying partition. Ada, on the verge of sixteen, and the love of her life, eighteen year old Stephan, live on opposite sides of the wall. Their story of love, separation, survival, hope, and daring will capture the hearts and minds of young adults, ages 14 and older. Given the current migration of millions of people around the world, and the threats of building more walls separating families, friends, lovers, and countries, this story is one people should read and discuss. (DLN)
Kirby, Allie. 2016. Kion’s animal alphabet. Disney Book Group (Disney Press). $12.99. 12pp. ISBN 978-148472949-6. Based on the series created by Ford Riley. Illustrated by the Disney Storybook Art Team.
Youngsters, ages 2 – 5, and readers young at heart with an interest in animals and animations will treasure this alphabet book. Each letter represents at least one animal familiar to Kion, the leader of the Lion Guard (Disney). The animals reflect the diversity in the Pride Lands (Disney) and interesting facts compel readers to move forward through the alphabet as they learn about Kion’s friends, such as antelope, adder, badger, cheetah, dung beetle, egret, elephant, falcon, flamingo, giraffe, hippo, et al. Children and adults alike will delight in repeating the names of all of the animals (see the work of Jean Berko Gleason). (DLN)
Lambert, Megan Dowd. 2016. Reading picture books with children. Charlesbridge Publishing. 152 pp. $21.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-662-7.
There is so much in this book that I never considered, even terms I had never before heard (book gutter?). The Whole Book Approach encourages those in a shared reading experience to think about picture book attributes like end pages, typography, or shaped formats. Author Megan Dowd Lambert encourages us to really listen to children when we ask questions or prompt their responses. The text of this book is clearly organized around specific topics: jackets and covers, endpapers, front matter, typography, page design, nurturing visual intelligence, and the benefits of the Whole Book Approach. Resources include chapter summaries, sources for further reading, glossary of book and story time terminology, and sample questions for the book readers to consider within each chapter topic.
Reading picture books with children is a model of the many attributes it cites from the high quality binding and paper to the readability of the typography and beautiful reproductions of book jackets and illustrations. Author Megan Dowd Lambert’s clear love of books and the process of sharing them with children is infectious and left me wishing that I still had young children so I could again share the unfolding of a picture book-this time with an awareness of all book features. This book is recommended for parents, teachers, and all who share picture books with young (and old) readers. (OJB)
Lambert, Megan Dowd: In association with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. 2015. Reading picture books with children: How to shake up storytime and get kids talking about what they see. Charlesbridge. 176pp. $21.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-662-7.
Megan Dowd Lambert presents a model for reading books with young children, ages 3 – 7, called The Whole Book Approach, an interactive process focusing on the intersection of literary and visual elements in picture storybooks. The approach is not a step-by-step methodology, but a series of dialogues with children about their observations, descriptions, and hypotheses about what they hear (the text), and what they see (the illustrations). Individuals interested in the process will appreciate the guiding questions and answers about using the Whole Book Approach and examples of questions to ask youngsters participating in the storytime. (DLN)
Lambert, Nancy R. 2016. Smithsonian: The Star-Spangled Banner. Level 4 fluent reader. Penguin Young Readers (Penguin Random House). 48pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99609-9. Photographs from the Library of Congress, Maryland Historical Society, Pickersgill Retirement Community, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Thinkstock, Purestock, Thinkstock/iStock.
The story of the flag and the national anthem of the United States, called the Star-Spangle Banner, is one all children living in the USA should read. This version of the Star-Spangled Banner is designed for fluent readers who read quickly and comprehend the text with little effort. The photographs complement the text and provide graphic clues to the content on each page. Although the flag experienced significant wear and tear through the years, readers will learn, this national relic, first flown on September 13, 1814, is now displayed safely in an atmospherically controlled space at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. (DLN)
Lea, Synne. 2016. Night guard. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 82pp. $17.00, ISBN 978-0-8028-5458-2. Illustrated by Stian Hole.
In Night guard, children are invited to explore the intersection of relationships, nature, and emotions. Throughout these poems, a young girl reveals observations from her parents, her little brother, or herself. She displays a strong connection to nature surrounding her home. She also expresses feelings of loneliness and the fear of being unnoticed or forgotten. Children, ages 9 and up, may struggle to identify the implied conflicts in this book of poetry. The young girl’s mother and father seem to face a person vs. person conflict. Her mom notes how people can be different than what they originally seem. This is paired with an illustration of a man and a woman lying next to each other, and the woman’s eyes are open and have a troubled look. This implies there may be tension in this marriage. This conflict is later confirmed when Dad leaves, and Mom hopes someone else will come into their lives and stay; Dad is not mentioned in the rest of the poems after this, which suggests he has permanently left the family. Throughout the poems, there are also conflicts of person vs. self. For instance, the young girl struggles with feelings of loneliness. She seems to question her value as a human being when she realizes her best friends include trees and her dog. This is further apparent when she asks herself a series of questions beginning with the phrase “Who will….” She worries no one will remember the little details about herself or help her when she struggles. There is also implied anxiety and nervousness surrounding a new school year when she states, “Can you hear / the school bell ringing? Soon / the kite is a butterfly / in your stomach;” this could be nervous excitement, but the rest of the book suggests it could be a feeling of dread. A final clue of the young girl’s search for affirmation of her value is when she states, “But I only want to know how it felt to find me,” in reference to her friend finding her alone. She wants others to enjoy her company; she does not want to always be lonely. Told from the first person point of view, children can see how the young girl responds to nature and understand her relationships with her family; they can also see how she develops. Initially, the girl expresses feelings of loneliness intermixed with advice or comments from her parents. It seems like she has found a friend when she is able to tell her little brother a friend is “someone who insists on lying closest to the wall and will constantly fall asleep before you do.” This is one of the few times the narrator voices her opinion to another character instead of only the reader. The girl is also expected to take on a new role after Dad leaves the family; she reveals, Mom “wants me to be her house. In me there’s always a nice smell, the right warmth, and lots of space above your head.” She must be loving and supportive toward her mom. By the end of the poems, the girl feels happy because she has a friend she can laugh with, but she still experiences some nervousness and is unsure how much her friend values her. It is unclear how much time these friends spend together. While Mom, Dad, and her little brother may change, their development is more difficult to follow. Because the girl does not provide all the details, readers must infer what is happening, which may leave them with more questions than answers. Throughout the poems, the setting serves as both the mood and the antagonist. These poems take place primarily near the girl’s house, which appears to be in a rural area. Many of the scenes are associated with nature. The mood is reflective and relaxed when the girl asks herself questions such as, “Because clouds look like something, are they dreams? Because dreams exist, do clouds look like something?” The tone is more comforting when both Mom and the girl realize how the trees can provide support during a difficult times; this suggests nature can be a place of refuge. The setting also provides a mood of tenderness when the girl is able to bond with her family, such as in the illustration of the family on the beach flying kites. However, the setting becomes the antagonist when Dad leaves the family. Their physical location in nature prevents the likelihood of meeting new people or forming stronger relationships; this is something the young girl has struggled with throughout these poems. The setting of nature has both positive and negative aspects for the girl and her family. As they read, children will be able to identify several themes. They will discover the importance of friendship and how it can be difficult to find friends and maintain these relationships. Even when she does find a friend, the girl experiences some loneliness, possibly because she is more invested in the relationship than the other person. Another theme is loneliness and fear can still be present even when a person seems to be surrounded by people who care about them. Children may be able to relate to this feeling as they get older and try to form positive relationships with their peers. Nature also has a constant influence on these poems; one theme is how nature can be a place of refuge in times of personal struggle. For instance, the girl initially only considers the trees to be her friends. These themes reveal topics relevant to young adolescents. Children will also be able to notice different elements of style consistently found in poetry. These poems do not have a strict rhythmic structure but rather use free verse with its casual, irregular rhythm to reflect everyday speech. Lea utilizes several different aspects of sound patterns. While there are not end rhymes, she incorporates alliteration, assonance, and consonance. Lea notes the “soft skin” of the girl’s little brother and how the “house hides in the garden.” These instances of alliteration help the reader further understand specific details of the characters or the setting. Children will be able to identify rhymes with the vowel sounds, or assonance, in sections such as “grows dark with crows” and “open the window.” This will encourage children to slow down as they read aloud to hear these rhymes. Consonance is evident in statements such as “come for a climb” and “Say something so I can see you, my friend calls out and asks me if it felt great to be found.” This style element draws attention to the significance of these passages; the linked sounds are also pleasing to the ear. Another style aspect is repetition. One poignant example is when the young girl asks a series of rhetorical questions beginning with “Who will.” She wonders, “Who will unlock the door and let me in… Who will look at me when I’m asleep? Who will feel sad when I cry?” This repetition at the beginning of each line, also called anaphora, emphasizes the girl’s anxiety about the future and her feelings of loneliness. In another case, the girl’s questions take on the form of a chiasmus, or a reversal of word structure. For instance, she says, “Because clouds look like something, are they dreams? Because dreams exist, do clouds look like something?” This chiasmus highlights the complex questions asked by a young girl when she has time to think in nature. Repetition is also used as a way to reassure the girl, such as when Dad says, “Just go ahead and cry… go ahead and cry.” Another instance of repetition occurs after a pivotal moment in the girl’s life; “Mom lights light after light” when Dad leaves. Lea uses imagery as a way to help children visualize what they are reading. There is personification in relation to trees and spring. Trees would “like to creep into the hollow of your neck and be comforted by comforting you.” On the other hand, spring “wants to know what it feels like to be held onto.” These descriptions help the reader understand how the narrator understands nature and her relationship with it. Several images also repeat throughout the poems, such as water, trees, the house, a boat, and a bed. There are similes and metaphors included throughout the poems. For instance, the girl thinks Mom moves gently “like a white anemone.” Children will be able to visualize this connection to nature. Lea utilizes a metaphor when she describes how Mom thinks “a lamp is a promise… the rooms are bonfires, and we can be beacons.” This metaphor reveals there can still be hope even in difficult situations. Another metaphor is “the kite is a butterfly in your stomach,” suggesting nervousness or anxiety. These poems have interesting shapes, mainly because of the stanza breaks; this contributes to a combination of short and long lines. For instance, she writes, “Can you hear / the school bell ringing? Soon/ (stanza break) the kite is a butterfly / in your stomach.” Children may not be expecting a stanza break at this point in the poem, and they may need to be reminded to read through the line and stanza breaks; their pauses should still be based on punctuation marks. In order to promote cognitive development, children can observe how the illustrations add further insight to the words in print. Because most of the book includes advice or comments from both Mom and Dad, children can compare the messages each character conveys. They can also hypothesize what will happen to the girl in the future based on what she has experienced so far. They must be more open minded to consider the implications of the girl’s or her parents’ words; children may initially be confused and need to reread. Even if they are confused, they can summarize the main themes of the poems. In order to promote social development, children will be able to regulate their behavior and change their attitude toward a person they have left out of their group; everyone needs a friend and wants to feel valued. They may be able to identify with some of the feelings experienced by the young girl. Beyond relationships with others, they can also understand how they should respect nature as a place of refuge and renewal for others or for themselves. The illustration throughout the book can help reinforce comprehension of the content. The bold, vertical lines of the trees suggest safety and stability, which aligns with the young girl’s view of the trees as her constant friends. There are also thinner lines as the walls of the house. This still suggests stability, but it does not imply the same type of refuge found in nature. There are diagonal lines, such as the rain pouring down and the string of the kites. Both of these suggest uncontrolled motion and unpredictability. The young girl cannot be confident in the continued recurrence of either of these; it may be a fleeting joy or burden. The organic shapes of people, the animals, and the plants draw attention to the life and possibilities still present despite the negative emotions and struggles with relationships. There are also geometric shapes. For instance, the metal rungs on the bed create rectangles and the ladder forms a triangle with the tree and the ground. The roof of the house also forms a triangle and the windows form rectangles. These geometric shapes suggest safety in both nature and in the home. In terms of color, this book utilizes black to indicate both night and the mood. This is contrasted by the white color of the house and the sky during the day. This conveys a mood of hope and the possibility of better relationships. The greens and blues draw the reader’s attention to the importance of nature. On the other hand, the vibrant red of the bedspread often indicates friendliness, or a place of rest for Mom. Hole utilizes light to show the time of day. For instance, a lamp is included in an otherwise dark background and bonfires light up the woods at night. There is also light from the moon and the stars. Although there is some light, this provides a great contrast to the nearly white sky during the day. These different uses of color will help children understand the mood. Extra lines on the trees, the leaves of the plants, and the roof of the house contribute texture. The added shadows and shading also make the illustrations more realistic. This book may be classified as poetry. More specifically, it is a collection of narrative poems because it captures the events of one girl’s life at a certain point in time; all of the poems give further insight on the girl’s development and her relationships. These poems incorporate different elements of poetry, including rhythm, rhyme and other sound patterns, repetition, imagery, and shape. This book also includes several topics typically found in poems. This could be considered a nature poem because of the girl’s connection to nature and her reverence for the trees and animals. She is able to find nature as a place of refuge. These poems also incorporate the topics of characters, situations, and settings. Children are able to follow the experiences of the girl and may be able to relate to what she describes about her family and friends. The environment will especially appeal to those who live in rural areas. Another large aspect of the poems is the attention to the subject of moods and feelings. Even though she is a young girl, she struggles with feelings of loneliness. These poems will be able to help children feel they are not alone, especially if they are also experiencing conflicts within their family. Night guard does match the criteria for poetry. A story of building relationships and overcoming fear and loneliness, children will find themselves empathizing with the young girl as she tries to observe, navigate through life, and connect with nature and the people around her. (SMM)
Lê, Minh. 2016. Let me finish. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148472173-5. Illustrated by Isabel Roxas.
Youngsters, ages 3 – 8, may relate to the frustrations of the main character who is trying to read without his animal friends blurting parts of the story before the boy finishes each book. Teachers certainly can share the book with children as they learn the parts of a story: beginning, middle and end, but youngsters can appreciate the boy’s quest for finding the perfect spot to read without interruptions. Illustrations convey the enthusiasm of the animals who cannot resist sharing their opinions, and the frustrations of the young reader as he struggles to read a book without noisy, unwanted, interruptions. (DLN)
Lee, Mackenzi. 2015. This monstrous thing. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). 371pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238277-1.
The classic Frankenstein gets a steampunk twist in this novel. When Alasdair’s brother Oliver dies in an accident, Alasdair patches him back together using clockwork methods and brings him back to life. Since people with clockwork parts are viewed with contempt, Oliver is kept locked away, with a more monstrous appearance and personality than he had before his death. Soon a new novel bearing a striking resemblance to Alasdair and Oliver’s situation begins circulating Europe. Could Alasdair’s former sweetheart Mary have written Frankenstein? This alternate history novel adds a complexity to the original story by including a group of marginalized clockwork people who band together at the end with Oliver’s help. Recommended for fans of steampunk or the original Frankenstein. (MC)
LeMay, Bronwyn Clare. 2016. Personal narrative, revised: Writing love and agency in the high school classroom. Teachers College Press. 147 pp. $23.96. ISBN 978-0- 8077-5808-3.
In this ethnographic narrative, author Bronwyn LaMay presents stories of students with whom she worked during her two years at a school she calls Escenario High School. Escenario is located in “El Cuento,” described as the 10 th largest city in the U.S., with a history of intergenerational gang warfare, a population with 41% of families living on less than $14,000 a year, and an ethnic representation that is 80% Latino with the rest a mix of African-American, Pacific Islander, Asian, and white. LeMay uses Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” as the stimulus to encourage students to create their own personal narratives. These stories focus mainly on her successes like Diego who begins as an angry, pessimistic student, but emerges as a future educator accepted at not one but two colleges or Hazel who transformed the class dynamic and, despite the trauma in her life, became engaged in activities like the Brave New Voices National Youth Poetry Slam, an occasion that led to her meeting The Black Eyed Peas.
Ultimately LeMay places love as foremost in the teaching/learning process and through love hopes to lead her students to self-actualization. She often uses the term “school gravity” which refers to relationships and how a school can foster or impede these relationships. Her narratives are powerful and her love and investment in students profound. LeMay provides a rich research base for her work, albeit one that primarily supports a Frierian approach to student learning and teacher mentoring.
No one should ever enter the teaching profession unless he/she first loves students, but caution should be used when building an educational relationship with students based on love. For too many students like those in LeMay’s book, love has been untrustworthy (or absent) and when it fails or leaves, as teachers must, all the rest fails as well. Students like those in LeMay’s book represent a fragile demographic and teachers must work tirelessly to build a foundation of respect and trust.
This book is recommended for future and current educators, both elementary and secondary, particularly those intending a career in a highly diverse urban area. (OJB)
Leroy, Jean. 2016. A well-mannered young wolf. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 30pp $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5479-7. Illustrated by Matthieu Maudet.
Wolf learned civil and appropriate manners from his parents. He is hungry, and without his parents, leaves his house to hunt for his food -- alone for the first time. His perfect manner, however, contribute to failed attempts at catching and eating his prey, first a rabbit, then a chicken, and finally, a little boy. Rabbit, chicken and a little boy believe they have outwitted the well-mannered fox, but fox has a surprise for two of the three. The story, a clever and humorous tale, is an excellent medium for readers to apply their prediction skills, and of course, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living a well-mannered life. (DLN)
Levy, Debby. 2016. I dissent Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes her mark. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1- 4814-6559- 5
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been the voice of dissent in many high profile Supreme Court decisions. She has been a consistent force in the fight to support the underrepresented and through her dissent has stood to equalize workplace opportunities and pay for women, African-Americans, and immigrants, to protect the voting rights of African-Americans, and to allow African-American students a better chance to attend college. Born of Jewish immigrant parents, Ruth experienced discrimination throughout her life and early on began to stand up for her own rights and those of others. As one of nine women in a law school class of 500 men, she managed to tie for first in her class and go on to become the first Jewish woman Supreme Court judge. Author Debby Levy presents Justice Ginsburg as a role model, change agent, and tireless voice for equality, and also presents us with little known tidbits that personalize Ginsburg’s life. We learn that Justice Ginsburg cannot carry a tune although she adores opera, that her husband is the gourmet cook in the home and she burns pot roast, that despite her differences of opinion with Antonin Scalia the two maintained a strong personal friendship, and that she changes collars depending upon her vote to agree or disagree with a Supreme Court decision.
The endnotes provide photos of Ginsburg through the years, personal anecdotes, landmark Supreme Court cases, and a bibliography that includes books, articles, interviews, quotes, and video. Levy’s book is supported with illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley that, while lively and colorful, seem rather caricature-like. (OJB)
Liberty, Margot. 2016. Horseback Schoolmarm: Montana, 1953-1954. University of Oklahoma Press. 144pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5388-9.
During the year of 1953-1954, Margot Pringle, a recent Cornell graduate, became the teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Montana. With the closest house a half mile away and roads that were impassible, Margot traveled to school on her horse, Orphan Annie. This is the story of her first year and how seven children ranging from first through seventh grade stole her heart and helped her to discover that real teaching occurs when you understand and maximize the gifts of each and every student. Margot was a natural teacher who instinctively made student-centered decisions. She taught reluctant readers by using a language experience approach, she encouraged resistant students to discover through project-based learning, and she created a science menagerie that resulted in a student-inspired, student-composed story. Along the way the reader meets Margot’s diverse group of students like Eddie, the first grader who has an impish grin, infectious enthusiasm, and who can swear like a trooper or Billy, Eddie’s older brother, with his insolent attitude and painfully slow learning. There is Pansy, the only girl who, despite her academic brilliance, faced an everyday struggle in this all-male classroom, Dick the nervous, unsure student who began every assignment with “I can’t,” and three others, each with his own story.
Author, teacher, and noted anthropologist, Margot Liberty (Pringle) provides an intimate insight into life in rural one-room schoolhouses. Her descriptions of the struggles of other teachers shared at the “Teachers’ Institute” remind us of the dedication of these teachers to make do with nothing, to prepare materials for blind children, to stay at school with the children during blizzards, or to patiently adjust materials for students with intellectual disabilities. Horseback Schoolmarm is a pioneer story that shows the incredible influence caring teachers can have on the lives of children. This book is an inspiring tale for aspiring teachers and should be recommended for secondary and adult readers. (JB)
Liggett, Kim. 2015. Blood and salt. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam’s Son). 341pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16648-8.
Ash Larken’s mom has always been strange, but so has Ash- she regularly sees an apparition of a dead girl. When Ash’s mom returns to the cult she escaped from in Kansas, Ash and her twin brother Rhys set out to find her. They end up in the ancient village of Quivira, hidden in a cornfield. Surrounded by old tradition and bloodlines, Ash and Rhys find themselves wrapped in conflict that started with the hundreds-year-old conquistador, Coronado. Although Ash is supposed to be looking for her mother, she is drawn to a potentially dangerous boy named Dane. The story is billed as a horror romance, but it’s light on horror and heavy on romance. The plot is unique if a little implausible, but high school readers who enjoy romance with a slightly creepy setting might find Blood and salt worth a read. It’s the first in a series. (MC)
Maas, Sarah J. 2015. A court of thorns and roses. Bloomsbury. 419pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-61963-444-2.
Feyre struggles to make ends meet for her impoverished family, but when she accidentally kills a faerie disguised as a wolf, she is taken into the faerie realms to live as a penalty. At first she is resistant to the idea of staying, but the masked High Lords at the manor where she is kept, Tamlin and Lucien, are generous and intriguing. Soon she finds herself falling for Tamlin. As she is pulled farther into the growing threat on the faerie realms, she has to go farther than she ever thought possible to save her true love. This novel is well written, with interesting characters and plenty of suspense filling the last act of the story. Although the novel works well on its own, it lays out breadcrumbs for a sequel. I would recommend it for high school readers who enjoy fantasy and romance. (MC)
Mack, Jeff. 2016. Playtime?. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17598-5.
Author of several books for young readers, ages 2 – 6, including Look!, Frog and Fly, Good news bad news, Ah ha!, and the Clueless McGee series, Jeff Mack shares an endearing struggle between a playful gorilla and a boy who just wants to go to bed. It is bedtime, but the gorilla just wants to play. Eventually sleep appears to prevail, but readers can draw their own conclusions about whether the gorilla really falls asleep? The text consists of two words, “bedtime” and “playtime” and children will easily learn the words because of the playful battle evident through the illustrations of the two concepts. (DLN)
Mackler, Carolyn. 2015. Infinite in between. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 462pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-173107-5.
Infinite In Between follows five high-schoolers from their first day meeting each other at freshman orientation to after their graduation. Each chapter rotates between the five teens' perspectives. It's an ambitious undertaking, and Mackler creates relatable characters in Gregor, Whitney, Zoe, Jake, and Mia. Each reader will find a character they relate with, although trying to cover four years and five characters in one books sometimes feels rushed and less fleshed-out. (MC)
MacLachlan, Patricia. 2016. The moon’s almost here. Simon & Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2062-4. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola.
Children, ages 3 – 8, will gently fall asleep after listening to this lyrical bedtime story. With the help of a mime, adults may recognize as Pierrot, a standard male character of pantomime with the characteristic whitened face, white cloak and hat, children will observe the habits of animals settling down for the night. Baby robins fly to their nest, a mama sheep herds her lamb to the barn, a hen and her chicks settle in their coop, ducks nest on shore, horses and cows head for the barn, a butterfly takes off into the night, fireflies emerge, and stars twinkle in the night – all in preparation for the rising moon. The pet dog and kitten settle into their respective beds and after welcoming the moon, Pierrot holds the sleeping child as he stares at the moon and the bright stars. Throughout the story, youngsters will recognize the child mimicking the actions of Pierrot, and clever readers may compare the homes of the animals with their own houses. The soft pastels complement the text, and together, illustrations and lyrics create a soothing bedtime story. (DLN)
Malone, Bobbie. 2016. Lois Lenski: Storycatcher. University of Oklahoma Press. 336pp. $26.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5386-5.
Lois Lenski is the author of Newbery Award-winning books about the lives of American children from diverse backgrounds, geography, and cultures. Lenski’s books include classics like Strawberry Girl, Cotton in My Sack, and Shoo-Fly girl as well as the Mr. Small series and several historical novels. Author Bobbie Malone has meticulously researched the life of Lois Lenski and provides an in-depth biography of this beloved storyteller. The daughter of a scholar and Lutheran minister, Lois grew up in the small Ohio town of Anna where there were clear expectations for her behavior and that of her siblings. Early on Lois began to exhibit the creativity and independence that would be the hallmarks of her career for the next five decades. In a time when women were expected to devote themselves to marriage and family and were not in the workplace, Lois Lenski was a pioneer. She married her former teacher/mentor Arthur Covey becoming stepmother to his two children and then adding their son, Stephen, when she was thirty-five years old. Lenski became the major wage earner for the family during the Great Depression when Arthur’s murals were no longer in great demand. While juggling home and family, Lenski traveled extensively, living for extended periods in different parts of the country learning about the lives of diverse children and families to craft her stories with accuracy and empathy. Although she never considered herself a feminist, Lois Lenski was always an independent spirit and strong self-advocate who believed in creating stories that represented the lives of all kinds of children.
Author Bobbie Malone’s deep admiration for Lois Lenski inspired the systematic research behind this biographic work. The book provides an intimate portrait of Lenski’s life through vintage photographs, excerpts from written communication, reproductions of her sketches, and interviews with family members and friends. The appendix provides a complete list of books written and illustrated by Lenski including her song and early picture books. For readers who grew up with Lenski books or who simply have come to love them, this biography provides a rich chronicling of her life, professional development, and her dedication to careful, authentic research. Recommended for secondary age and adult readers.(OJB)
McGhee, Alison. 2015. Someday. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 40pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6012-5. Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.
In Someday, children are invited to contemplate their childhood experiences and speculate about their future. Told from the first person point of view, this picture book reveals how a mother envisions her newborn baby’s future; children will follow the mother’s descriptions of what her daughter may accomplish. This book encourages children to watch as the young girl grows up and becomes a mother too. Younger children, ages four and up, may struggle to identify the conflict in this story. They may infer a person vs. self conflict as the mother has to adjust to her daughter’s independence and let her discover the world. Children can trace the young girl’s development by noticing how she initially holds her mother’s hand to cross the street but then later ventures into the deep woods on her own. They will experience excitement as they imagine themselves running along the beach and swinging on a swing like the young girl. They will witness another shift as the girl ventures away from home and becomes responsible for her own child. The development of the young girl culminates in the image of her as an older woman reflecting on her relationship with her mother. Children can also contemplate how the mother changes over time, even though there are no illustrations of her after the first few pages. Throughout these stages of life, the setting sets the mood. The majority of action takes place in nature, presumably the area close to their home. These scenes of nature elicit a lively, hopeful mood, although the dark woods shift this mood to fear and uncertainty. Overall, the home scenes may be comforting reminders for children. Observant readers will notice the absence of the father; this book specifically follows the development of a relationship between a mother and daughter. Children raised in single parent households may relate to the scenes presented in the book. This aligns with themes of relationships, love, and the comfort of home. As they read, children will easily follow the repetition of signal phrases, such as “One day” and “Someday.” The author also incorporates one simile to note how running fast will make the girl’s heart “feel like fire.” In order to promote cognitive development, children can compare their experiences with their parents to the ones displayed in Someday. As they read, they can hypothesize what the mother envisions for her daughter’s life. In order to promote social development, children can consider how some of their peers may come from a family with a single parent. They can also regulate their behavior as they see the respectful, positive interactions between parent and child. The illustrations also influence children’s perception of the book. The horizontal lines in many of the illustrations of nature, such as the ground where young girl rides her bike or the porch railing, suggest stability and security. At the same time, the curved lines of the swing and the hills elicit a sense of fluidity and upcoming changes; this reveals the unpredictability of life and the necessity of adapting to any situation. Furthermore, the text itself also varies between curved and straight orientation, reinforcing the message conveyed by the illustrations. Throughout, the softer, delicate lines parallel the mood of happiness and tenderness exhibited in this mother-daughter relationship. The organic shapes throughout the book focus children’s attention on the recurring setting of nature. For instance, the circular wheels of the girl’s bike convey the opportunity of exploration of nature. The triangle created between the daughter’s legs and the ground as she carries her own child suggests security and a stable relationship. The final image of a rectangular picture frame and rectangular windows reinforces stability and closure as well. The minimal use of color centers children’s attention on the mother and her child. Green represents the life found in nature and conveys a sense of tranquility experienced by the mother and daughter when they are in that setting. In other illustrations, the pastels and muted hues of darker colors in the mother’s clothes convey a mood of calmness and love. These illustrations contrast the illustration of darker woods, an image suggesting the uncertainty and danger found in nature as well. On some pages, the white space reveals the distance between the girl and her home as she leaves. Furthermore, this whiteness replaces other sources of light, such as the sun or a lamp. Throughout, texture is created by slightly darker shades of watercolor on the woman’s clothing, the trees, and the sheets on the bed. These simple illustrations will draw children’s attention to the relationship between the mother and her daughter. In this easy-to-read board book, children will be able to focus on reading independently, which is aided by the short sentences and monosyllabic words. The repetition of initial words, such as “One day” and “Someday,” also will help children read on their own. Because of the logical development and simple plot, they will not be overwhelmed by the task of comprehending the story. This board book introduces the importance of relationships among family members and will help children understand their expanding experiences in nature and other places outside the home. A story of the developing relationship between a mother and a daughter, children will find themselves imagining all the adventures ahead of them. (SMM)
McQuinn, Anna. 2006. Lola at the library/Lola en la biblioteca. Charlesbridge Publishing. 32pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-142-4. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw.
Lola looks forward to Tuesday’s every week; that’s the day she gets to walk to the library with her mom! Lola at the Library is a fun book which introduces kids to the world of libraries and all they have to offer. Recommended for children ages 2-5. (COM)
Lola espera del martes todas las semanas. ¡Ese es el día en que camina a la biblioteca con su mamá! Lola en la biblioteca es un libro divertido que introduce a los niñas al mundo de las bibliotecas y todo lo que tienen que ofrecer. Recomendado para niñas de 2-5 años de edad. (COM)
McQuinn, Anna. 2012. Lola reads to Leo/Lola le lee al pequeño Leo. Charlesbridge Publishing. 28pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-404-3. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw.
Lola uses the power of storytelling and books to help her new baby brother out in the home. A heartwarming story of a new sibling is great for young children, whether or not they have a younger sister or brother. Recommended for children ages 2-5. (COM)
Lola utiliza el poder de contar historias y libros para ayudar a su nuevo hermanito en la casa. Una historia Linda de un Nuevo hermano es ideal para niñas pequeños, con o sin hermanitas. Recomendado para niñas de 2-5 años de edad. (COM)
Medina, Juanita. 2016. 1 big salad: A delicious counting book. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99974-5.
Children can learn the numbers 1 – 10 and identify different ingredients of a unique, healthy salad; an avocado, radishes, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, radicchios, walnuts, romaine (lettuce), and clementines. Realistic photographs help children learn the vocabulary of each ingredient. However, the vocabulary goes beyond the ingredients because of the additional lines creating different animals, such as 1 avocado deer, and 2 radish mice. This clever addition may prompt a drawing lesson changing other food into animals. A recipe for a healthy salad dressing concludes this unique counting book. (DLN)
Merritt, Russell, & J.B. Kaufman. 2016. Walt Disney’s silly symphonies: A companion to the classic cartoon series, revised & updated edition. 272pp. $40.00. ISBN 978-148475132-9.
The history of the series of Silly Symphonies along with complementary illustrations and comments is thoroughly explained in this comprehensive record of Disney’s musical novelties, a combination of animation and music. The text is divided into three parts, The Tiffany Line with background information about the concept and the development of the symphonies, Producing the Silly Symphonies, a chronology of the different eras, The Columbia Years (1929 – 1932), The United Artists Years (1932-1937), and Disney’s RKO Radio Pictures (1937-1939). Drawn from principally primary sources, the third section presents a thorough description of the Silly Symphonies: A filmography. The 76 symphonies/films include The skeleton dance, Springtime, Winter, Egyptian melodies, The Pied Piper, and others. Three additional symphonies are listed in Appendix A: Hot chocolate soldiers, Don Donald, and Donald’s better self. A significant number of unfinished symphonies are included in Appendix B, including The ant symphony, The brave tin soldier, The Emperor’s new clothes, Frog symphony, and Puss in Boots. The third appendix lists the Silly Symphony Sunday color comic pages from newspapers, January 1932 – July 1942, such as Birds of a feather, Little Red Hen, Three Little Pigs, and Pluto the pup. Appendix D lists the songs emerging from the symphonies, such as Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf, The Pied Piper, Grasshopper and the Ants, and Elmer Elephant. The fifth appendix lists the silly symphony books from 1934 – 1940, including The Ugly Duckling, Water babies, and The Wise Little Hen. The last appendix lists the monthly Disney pages in the Good Housekeeping magazine from 1934 – 1939 with two examples, a page illustrating Water Babies, and one of Who killed Cock Robin. This exemplary, thoroughly researched text concludes with an informative bibliography and detailed index. (DLN)
Mesrobian, Carrie. 2015. Cut both ways. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 342pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234988-0.
Will Caynes is torn. He bounces between his divorced parents’ homes and between his girlfriend Brandy and his friend Angus. The novel paints a realistic picture of a divorced family and also touches on alcoholism and sexuality. While it’s refreshing to see a portrayal of bisexuality or sexual ambiguity in a teen novel, the fact that Will continually cheats on his girlfriend with Angus is never addressed morally. The book is sexually explicit, and paired with Will’s unlikeable character traits, it can border on vile. Some readers might be disappointed with the ambiguous ending and Will’s lack of growth. (MC)
Miyares, Daniel. 2016. Bring me a rock!. Simon & Schuster. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4602-0.
The grasshopper king is demanding, loud, arrogant and wants to reign from on high. He commands his minions to bring rocks to build a towering throne. The majority of his servants bring rocks meeting the tyrant’s expectations, but one, a small bug, can only carry a small pebble and is ridiculed by the king. However, it is the tiny bug with the small rock that not only saves the king from a terrible fall, but also changes the relationship among the king and his subjects. Caregivers will recognize the political message, and children will appreciate the wit and problem-solving skills of the small bug. (DLN)
Mora, Pat. 2015. The remembering day/el día de los muertos. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-805-3. Illustrated by Robert Casilla.
Bella has a special bond with her grandmother, Mamá Alma. Bella is a special helper and student of her grandmother, and Mamá Alma sure has a lot to teach! From gardening, to playing, to weaving, Mamá Alma always has been there for Bella. However, as her grandmother gets older, Bella learns the importance of memories and how a place has the power to back memories. Written in both English and Spanish, this is a touching and culturally informative book about the love between a grandmother and granddaughter. (COM)
National Wildlife Federation. 2016. My first book of animal hugs and kisses. Charlesbridge (Imagine). 22pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1623540616. Photo Credits: Bob Zeller (prairie dogs), Sebastien Burel (seals), Paul Souders (gorillas), Leslie S. Anderson (puffins), Marian Herz (cheetahs), Jessica Teel (bears), Beth Stewart (cougars), Renee Herteux (raccoons), Walter Nussbaumer (red fox), Eilish Palmer (wolves), Kathy Rowland (bison), Kathy Reeves (sea lions), Jurij Leshko (elephants), John Stevens (monkeys).
Youngsters, ages 0 – 3, can learn to identify different animals as they observe the how different animals share affection with each other. The pictures are exquisite and endearing and children should feel comfortable and content as their caregivers read the story of the different types of greetings or demonstrations of affection of prairie dogs, seals, gorillas, and more. (DLN)
National Wildlife Federation. 2016. My first book of animal opposites. Charlesbridge (Imagine). 24pp. $6.95. ISBN 978-1-62354-062-3. Photographs by Theodore Mattas (lion cubs), Sandy Jacobson (lion), Chris Labbe (egret), Chuck Irose (puffin), George Ritchy (tortoise, crab), Patricia Lavin (red fox), Mark Ditmer (bison), Bret Huggard (lizard), Stephen Coester (alligator), Chantale Rosenberg (hippo), Philippe Henry (bear), Grant Atkinson (leopard), Gill Gogo (duck), Yitzhak Kohavi (penguin), Katherin Davis (sea otter), Cheryl Rose (frog), Ric Kessler (cougar), Sue Christensen (owl), Stephanie Swartz (koala).
Readers, ages 0 – 3, will identify several animals, lion cubs, daddy lion, egret, puffin, cheetah, tortoise, crab, red fox, bison, lizard, alligator, hippo, bear, leopard, duck, penguin, sea otter, frog, cougar, owl, and koala as they learn the concept of opposites. The opposites of small/big, long/short, fast/slow, hard/soft, cold/hot, close/open, up/down, in the air/on the ground, in/out, and awake/asleep, are familiar to young children. The photographs of the animals are stunning and readers will be able to distinguish one from another. (DLN)
Niemann, Christoph. 2016. Words: More than 300 words to discover, imagine, and READ!. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 352pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-245550-5.
Each page is a unique experience, with a word labeling the illustrations. Except when the backgrounds of the pages are a specific hue, e.g., red, yellow, blue, et al; the words are printed in color and the illustrations are primarily created with bold black lines on white backgrounds. The intent is to stimulate reading, spelling, creativity (imagination), comprehension, artistic expression (drawing), speaking, writing, and sharing. It is a book suitable for all English language learners, people learning English as another language and those mastering English as a first language. The occasional bold black lined illustrations on colored backgrounds with black print, such as pink, red, orange, blue, and yellow, present homonyms, e.g., duck (the bird), and then duck (lower one’s body to avoid colliding with an object), or woebegone (sad), followed by effervescent (vivacious), or punctuation marks. Not all words in the eighteen (18) sections of the book are homonyms, antonyms, or punctuation marks, a handful of the pairings are unusual words with different types of relationships, e.g., collywobbles (stomach pain), and gobbledygook (nonsense), but even the uncommon words can promote reading, writing, listening, and speaking opportunities among students, prek – adult education. (DLN)
O’Connor, Jane. 2016. Nancy Clancy seeks a fortune: Book 7. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 144pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-226969-0. Illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser.
Readers will quickly recognize the attributes of Nancy Clancy, including her delightful vocabulary, as the begin reading book 7 in O’Connor’s chapter book series. As with the previous books, Super sleuth, Secret admirer, Nancy Clancy sees the future, Secret of the silver key, Star of stage and screen, Soccer mania, Nancy learns a valuable lesson in life as she seeks a fortune. While the lesson may be transparent, i.e., the best things in life maybe free (p.133), readers will enjoy Nancy’s quest for a fortune in money, and of course readers will enjoy Nancy’s love of words. From the third sentence to the end of the books, readers, ages 6 – 9, will learn new words, for example, “Being wealthy sounded – well, it sounded wealthier than just being rich” (p.1). Readers are also introduced to a different language, French; through words they can understand because of the context, e.g., au revoir (p. 66). (DLN)
Parish, Herman. 2015. Amelia Bedelia dances off. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 165pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233409-1. Illustrated by Lynne Avril.
In Amelia Bedelia dances off, children are invited to experience different types of dance as Amelia Bedelia attends classes at Dana’s School of Dance. Amelia Bedelia, a young girl, is initially intrigued by dance when she starts watching an episode about ceremonial dances on the TV program The World Is a Village. She takes a step closer to the dance world when Aunt Wanda takes her to Tepper’s Department Store to participate in a tap dance with 348 other dancers. However, Amelia Bedelia is more reluctant when Aunt Wanda gives her a birthday present of ten dance lessons at Dana’s School of Dance; she had been hoping for drums instead. Children, ages 6 to 10, may struggle to recognize conflicts in this primarily light hearted fiction book. They may infer a person vs. person conflict when Amelia Bedelia’s parents express disappointment in her response to Aunt Wanda’s gift. Amelia Bedelia knows her parents will make her try dance lessons, and she responds to this conflict by making the decision to attend; this does not escalate into a larger family problem. There is a person vs. nature conflict when Dana, the dance instructor, slips on steps during a thunderstorm and breaks her leg. This conflict influences the rest of the story as Aunt Wanda temporarily becomes the dance instructor and invites expert dancers to teach the students certain styles of dancing. Eventually, these dance students present a recital in Dana’s honor. Amelia Bedelia faces a person vs. self conflict as she must set aside her reservations and try to dance, even if she isn’t as good as the other students. Children can also trace the development of the characters, especially Amelia Bedelia. Told from the third person limited omniscient point of view, children can explore how Amelia Bedelia’s viewpoint about dance changes and how she responds to her environment. Initially, Amelia Bedelia thinks it is fun to participate in a tap dance at Tepper’s Department Store. However, she is not as eager to start dance lessons because she thinks she will only learn one type of dance--ballet; she would’ve preferred receiving drums. Her reluctance is evident when she thinks the sign to the dance studio should say “10,000 Poisonous Snakes Inside.” Once she enters the studio, she feels discouraged because of the ability level of the other dancers; other students in her class have had more experience with dance. Even during the first class, Amelia Bedelia is able to adjust and become more comfortable. Dance also helps her feel more in tune with nature when they practice swaying in the breeze. She becomes more interested when Dana starts inviting expert dancers to teach the class. For example, Amelia Bedelia is able to discover the role of rhythm in flamenco dancing. During the instruction by Madame Dansova, Amelia Bedelia begins to notice the graceful actions of these dancers. In another dance lesson with Madame Dansova, Amelia Bedelia has to alter her understanding of what it means to “put your best foot forward” (92). This is one instance where some of her character development is hindered by how she expresses herself. Amelia Bedelia often takes all statements at face value, which prevents her from comprehending what is actually meant by certain phrases or sentences. She spends a lot of time thinking about how these idioms don’t make sense to her. At the same time, these mistakes allow her to learn small details, such as how dancers always put their right foot forward. Part of Amelia Bedelia’s development includes understanding the small details experienced dancers do without thinking. For instance, Gracie must teach Amelia Bedelia how to make a bun out of her hair to keep it firmly in place. Even though she is constantly being corrected, she still has not started to grasp how everything should not be taken literally. By the end of the story, Amelia Bedelia has developed an appreciation for dance and has learned how ballet is not the only form of dance; she enjoyed the lessons more than she anticipated she would. Despite the initial uncertainty, Amelia Bedelia showed bravery, never complained about dance, never missed a class, and tried something new; her mother commends her for these accomplishments. This reveals how dedicated she can be when trying something new. Throughout the story, the setting serves as an antagonist and a mood. The setting is the antagonist when Dana slips on the wet steps and breaks her leg. This threatens the continued instruction of her students. Even in this unfortunate situation, the mood does not remain dismal. Wanda takes over the instruction, and the dance studio establishes a mood of joy and excitement as the children learn new types of dances, such as break dancing and the hula. The mood is also more humorous and chaotic when the students are trying to learn certain dances; they all topple over when trying to learn the easy six-step in break dancing. Similarly, the dance studio establishes a mood of liveliness and creativity when Alex teaches his fellow classmates the “double salsa;” he dances the salsa while eating chips and salsa. There is also a mood of celebration when the dance students give a recital showcasing all they have learned about dance. As they read, children will also identify several themes. One theme is do not be afraid to try new activities because it may be a very rewarding experience; these new activities can also be a place to meet new people with similar interests. In this case, Amelia Bedelia fits into this community of dancers. Not only does she become more knowledgeable about dance, but she is also able to establish important relationships. One theme is differences among people are important. Amelia Bedelia realizes all of her dance classmates have different personalities and strengths. Furthermore, it would be boring if everyone was exactly the same. Willow is an artist, Brad likes to skateboard, Gracie can do gymnastics, and Alex and Alexandra are good at any type of dance. Another theme is perseverance and hard work can lead to a rewarding outcome. In this case, the dancers work hard when Dana is recovering from her broken leg. Despite this obstacle, Amelia Bedelia and her friends are still able to become more invested in dance as they learn how to dance from different experts. Children may also be drawn to this book because of the style. Parish incorporates many different sounds to engage the reader’s senses, such as “POP-Pu-POP! POPPUPOP-Pop-Pop-POP Patta-POP POP POP!” (6) and CLICKTY-CLICK-CLICK-CLACK (14). Parish also uses repetition, such as “right-left right-left” (23) when giving instructions on how to dance. Another prominent stylistic choice is the use of malapropisms. For instance, Brad thinks “flamenco” is actually “flamingo” (56). Amelia Bedelia also has problems comprehending idioms because she takes everything literally. She is initially worried when someone tells her to “break a leg” before the performance; she then realizes they aren’t being serious about this. Children may find these mistakes humorous, and it may help clear up their own misunderstanding. Parish uses metaphors and similes to emphasize how well the dance students learn the new steps. In one case, they are described as falling dominoes (75), whereas their temporary instructor, Madame Dansova, is “like a tigress” observing them (76). Another stylistic choice is how Parish does not refer to the main character as only Amelia; it is always Amelia Bedelia, which children will be able to remember because of the rhyme. However, older children may find all of the errors unnecessary and distracting. In order to promote cognitive development, children can observe the illustrations of how to do several of the dances, such as break dancing and the salsa. They can follow the directions in the book to attempt to dance like Amelia Bedelia. They can also predict what Aunt Wanda is going to do after Bob and Lois Quinn, an older couple who like to dance the rumba, mention they would like to bring their friends with them to watch the children dance. Children will be able to verify their prediction when they learn Wanda is planning a dance recital. Children can also compare the different types of dances and how the dancers dress for each dance. For instance, Alex points out how both the hula and the Scottish dance include a skirt, even for the boys. Wanda explicitly notes how the Polynesian dance has simple footwork and complicated hand gestures while Celtic dancing expresses a message through the movement of feet. They can summarize dance as a way to express feelings or ideas; hand movements can be incorporated to help tell the story. They can also summarize what dances Amelia Bedelia learned and highlight a key aspect of each; the last few pages in the book provide more key information about the different dances. In order to promote social development, children can notice the positive relationships among the dance students. They have respect for each other, even though they have different dancing abilities. This story also celebrates the positive interactions between Amelia Bedelia and Aunt Wanda, and some children may be able to identify with this. Children will be able to monitor their behavior when they realize the value of differences; not everyone needs to be the same. Students may also be able to identify with Amelia Bedelia if they have struggled with malapropisms or idioms. The illustrations throughout the book can help reinforce comprehension of the content. Each page includes a few drawings of the important details in the text. For instance, there are illustrations of the different costumes and dances presented in this novel. Curved, thin lines are used effectively to convey movement as the children dance. It also emphasizes the unpredictability and creativity present in some dances. At the same time, the bolder, horizontal lines of the dance studio ground and barre suggest safety, stability, and conventions; there are certain guidelines the students must follow in dance. The organic shapes created by the students’ bodies draw attention to how bodies can move in different ways. Geometric shapes are incorporated as well. For instance, the horizontal and vertical lines of doorways suggest stability and constancy at home and the dance studio. The legs of the dancers often form a triangle with the ground, suggesting safety and stability even in the midst of an energetic dance. In terms of color, this book utilizes only black, gray, and white; there is no emphasis on light. In this case, the lack of color allows children to visualize the colors based on Parish’s description. The dark colors do not indicate a gloomy or subdued mood. The varying shades of gray provide a suggestion as to what color each person’s clothes or hair may be. The shading and extra lines on the clothes of the students or on the floors of the dance studio contribute texture. This short novel may be classified as contemporary realistic fiction, although it does not completely align with all the criteria. There is authentic characterization, as some children are often reluctant to try new things. Amelia Bedelia is also able to establish new, authentic relationships with the other students in the dance class. The setting is realistic and familiar because many young children may be starting dance lessons; different forms of dance are still practiced in the contemporary world. The themes are also relevant to the needs of children. Amelia Bedelia is able to find supportive friends and overcome her fear and uncertainty of trying something new. Children will also have a feeling of acceptance when Amelia Bedelia comments on the importance of everyone being unique. This story also aligns with the criteria for style. Parish provides vivid descriptions of the different clothing associated with each dance, which is complemented by the illustrations. Furthermore, readers will be able to try the new dance moves because of the thorough descriptions. While most of the dialogue is believable, there are several malapropisms as Amelia Bedelia takes everything literally; she doesn’t understand idioms. She makes these mistakes quite frequently, and this is may not be a realistic representation of how children this age talk. The point of view is also realistic, and children will be able to put themselves in Amelia Bedelia’s shoes, especially if they are trying dance or a sport for the first time. However, the plot does not align with what is usually incorporated in contemporary realistic fiction. For instance, Amelia Bedelia does not face many external or internal conflicts; there are no controversial issues present. There are also unrealistic, though humorous moments, such as when Amelia Bedelia uses a bagel to help form a ballet bun on her head. At the same time, the story does incorporate some common subjects, such as peer relationships as Amelia Bedelia grows up. Parish also starts to break a stereotype when he includes two boys in the dance class. Amelia Bedelia dances off does match most of the criteria for contemporary realistic fiction. A story of exploring new activities, children will find themselves trying to learn these new dance moves alongside Amelia Bedelia and her new friends. (SMM)
Paterson, Katherine. 2016. The great Gilly Hopkins. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 256pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-242286-6 (1978).
If young adults, ages 8 – 13, watch the movie of Gilly Hopkins, released February 2016, they should first read the book. Comparisons between the book and the movie may be an interesting classroom or home activity, or, for students learning English as another language, the movie may enhance comprehension of the plot, conflicts, themes, and characterizations. Readers familiar with Gilly, will expect a brash, frustrated, cunning, and humorous eleven year old manipulating her foster home settings. Eventually, however, one foster home is the perfect environment for Gilly, except Gilly learns life is never perfect. (DLN)
Pendergrass, D., adapter. 2016. Creatures of crime: A guide to the bad guys. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7837-3. Illustrated by Patrick Spaziante. Based on the screenplay Animal Instincts by Heath Corson. Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.
Although Penguin escapes again, Batman and allies, conquer the Animilitia, a team of villains hoping to capture Gotham City. The villains, Killer Croc, Cheetah, Silverback, Cyber Wolf, Cyber Tiger, Cyber Bat, and The Penguin, are clearly described in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. Readers will also discover how the villains, with the exception of The Penguin, are defeated by Batman and his superhero friends. The conclusion is predictable, Gotham City is safe. (DLN)
Phillips, Lee John. 2016. Toolshed coloring book & toolshed journal. Chronicle Books (Laurence King Publishing). 64pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-78067-901-3.
Incredibly, there are 14,000 illustrations based on tools in the shed of the author’s deceased grandfather. Tool collectors, counselors using coloring book therapy, contractors, nursing home activity directors, and anyone interested in detailed illustrations of a variety of tools from the past will want to add this phenomenal coloring book with a detailed index (journal or running record), identifying each tool, to their libraries. (DLN)
Pizzoli, Greg. 2016. Good night Owl. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 48pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148471275-7.
Goodnight moon (Margaret Wise Brown, 1947) welcomes Good night Owl. However, unlike the gentle sequence of events in Goodnight moon, Owl violently tears his house apart to find the noise preventing him from sleeping. Youngsters, ages 2 – 5, will see the animal Owl refers to as “noise” on each page, but only Owl hears the sound, “squeak!” Readers follow the sequence of probable causes of the noise: the wind, the cupboard, the floor, the roof, and the walls. Owl is desperate to find the source of the noise and eventually destroys everything around his bed. Readers can predict the ending easily because except for the bed, nothing is left in the house to hide the source of Owl’s nemesis. (DLN)
Poloski, Rachel. 2016. Marvel: Iron Man – Read-along storybook and CD. Disney Book Group (Marvel Press). 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-148475182-4. CD: Nolan North, narrator, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts: Jeff Bridges as Obadia Stane/Iron Monger. Based on the screenplay by Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby. Music composed by Ramin Djawadi.
Youngsters ages 2 – 6 will enjoy following along with the CD, or listening to an adult read the story about the transformation of Tony Stark to Iron Man. The youngest readers may need help following the sound/signal on the CD to turn the page, but everyone will appreciate the voices of the characters. Tony must learn to put others before himself and ensure that his machines are used for good. The classic theme of good overcoming evil, is something readers of all ages can appreciate. (DLN)
Poloski, Rachel. 2016. Marvel Studios: Captain America, the first Avenger: Read-along storybook and CD. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-148475131-2. CD- Nolan North as narrator, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter, Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, Stan Sebastian as Bucky Barnes. Based on the screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Music composed by Alan Silvestri.
Readers from ages 3 and older, can follow the CD and the text of the story about the origin of Captain America. The story begins in 1943, a significant time in the world, however lost on younger readers. Nonetheless, the conflicts, the action-packed sound effects, and the voices of the characters will captivate readers of all ages. Experience Steve Rogers’s dramatic transformation into Captain America and his tireless efforts to abolish evil from the world. Readers will appreciate the timeless theme of good overcoming evil. (DLN)
Quinn, Jordan. 2016. The kingdom of Wrenly – 10 – the pegasus quest. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5871-9. Illustrated by Robert McPhillips.
Black and white illustrations complement the mysterious events in the fantastical kingdom of Wrenly. Prince Lucas, his best friend, and a young scarlet dragon, investigate a series of mysterious events. When searching for the trolls lost elderberries, they find a wounded Pegasus. With the help of a kind and benign female hunter, Grace, Pegasus heals and is able to fly home to his floating castle in the sky before it moves out-of-reach, trapping the winged horse in the Kingdom of Wrenly. The map of the Kingdom of Wrenly at the beginning of the book immediately establishes the fantastical, yet believable, setting of the story and the humanistic qualities of all of the characters, human or otherwise, are credible. Youngsters, ages 5 – 9, will appreciate this magical and mythical chapter book. (DLN)
Reed, Lynn Rowe. 2016. Bear’s big breakfast. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06226455-8. Illustrated by Brett Helquist.
The illustration on the front cover of the book conveys the storyline of the book – Bear wants a big breakfast. But the story is not just about Bear’s search for food, it is also about B’s, that is, the letter “B.” B as represented in Bear, breakfast, Bunny, Bumblebee, Boa (constrictor), (tree) bark, bat (the mammal), Bluebird, berries, and quite subtly, a boy. The cumulative tale of Bear’s quest for a big breakfast is delightful and satisfying. Youngsters, ages 3 – 8, will connect with Bear’s search for a filling and edible breakfast. The illustrations, shape, texture, color, and line convey a realistic search for Bear’s big breakfast. (DLN)
Reid, Mary E. 2016. Smithsonian: Curious about money. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap) 32pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99606-5.
Pictures of different types of money, maps, art, and photographs about money complement this informational story about the history of money in the United States. Readers of all ages can follow the history of the development of money from the era of the thirteen colonies to contemporary times. From beaver pelts, tobacco leaves, wampum beads, to electronic money, such as the bitcoin, American money has a unique and colorful history that is explained in interesting and informational way that appeals to younger audiences. (DLN)
Reynolds, Jason. 2016. As brave as you. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum). 432pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1481415903.
Lucille Clifton (1936 – 2010) wrote “Things don’t fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept.” Her words resonate as eleven year old Genie and his thirteen year old brother, Ernie, travel from their home in New York City to rural Virginia to live with their grandparents for a month in the summer while their parents travel to Jamaica for a vacation. A trip they hope will patch their differences and save their marriage. Things seem to fall apart for Genie and Ernie, including lost wheels, lost teeth, angst between Grandma and Grandpop, sadness for the tragic death of an uncle, suicide, and a neurotic neighbor. However, events and people are connected in this coming-of-age story of young and older adults. Themes of friendship, love, perseverance, and hope dominate and Ernie’s perspective; his questions and thoughts will compel readers, ages 10 + to finish the book quickly. (DLN)
Rylant, Cynthia. 2003. Lighthouse family: The whale. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 64pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-689-84881-0. Illustrated by Preston McDaniels.
Appropriate for early readers, ages 6 – 10, The whale (2003), complements other books in the Lighthouse Family series, The storm, The eagle, The turtle, The octopus, and The otter. The family includes Pandora, a cat in the maternal role; Seabold, a dog as the father figure; and mice children Whistler, Lila, and Tiny. The characterizations in this fantasy story are endearing and challenge the stereotypes of real cats, dogs, and mice. When a baby beluga whale, Sebastian, is separated from his mother, Honey, the Lighthouse Family rally together and reunite Honey with Sebastian with the help of Huck, an old cormorant. The vocabulary is rich, authentic, and contributes to the development of the plot, themes, and realistic interactions among the characters, thus suspending disbelief in this memory fantasy for young readers. (DLN)
Rylant, Cynthia. 2004. Lighthouse family: The eagle. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 64pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-689-86243-4. Illustrated by Preston McDaniels.
Although published in 2004, contemporary readers, ages 6 – 10, will want to add this story about a loving family living in a lighthouse– and others in the Lighthouse family series – to their bookshelves. Whistler, Lila, and Tiny, three mouse children, are beloved by the adult figures in the household, Pandora, a cat, and Seabold, a dog. The plot is delightful and the style of language is descriptive and lively. Also, the characters are loving, respectful, interesting, and either adventurous or encourage “safe” exploration of the countryside. In this story, Whistler and Lila learn how to use a compass and explore the forest. When they lose the compass, they are able to use problem – solving skills and the help of Stanley, an eagle, to return home from their adventures safely. (DLN)
Rylant, Cynthia. 2005. Lighthouse family: the octopus. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 64pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0689863141. Illustrated by Preston McDaniels.
Appropriate for early readers, ages 6 – 10, The octopus (2005), complements other books in the Lighthouse Family series such as, The storm, The eagle, The turtle, The whale, and The otter. The family, Pandora, a cat in the maternal role, Seabold, a dog as the father figure, and children, Whistler, Lila, and Tiny are mice. The characterizations in this fantasy story are endearing and challenge the stereotypes of the prototypical cat, dog, and mouse. With Pandora’s warning of “Never turn your backs to the sea” (p.20), Whistler and Lila head to the sea shore and the estuary where they meet Cleo, an octopus, stranded because he missed the tide to carry him back out to sea. However, the mice-children hope they can reach shore before the tide comes in and thankfully, due to Cleo’s help, Lila and Whistler safely reach the shore. The vocabulary is rich, authentic, and contributes to the development of the plot, themes, and realistic interactions among the characters, thus suspending disbelief in this endearing, memorable fantasy for young readers. (DLN)
Saldaña, René Jr. 2016. A mystery bigger than big: A Mickey Rangel mystery/Un misterio más grande que grandísimo: colección Mickey Rangel, detective privado. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 78pp. $9.95 ISBN 978-55885-824-4.
Mickey is an avid detective at school. He likes the challenge of discovering mysteries. One day, a new girl shows up at his school. Mickey needs to find out who she is and where she is from. She is very quiet, small, and wears worn out clothes. One day on the news, Mickey learns about unaccompanied minors-children who have crossed the border without an adult. Could this new girl be an unaccompanied minor?! In this chapter book written in English and Spanish, readers become exposed to very real social issues regarding immigration and the U.S./Mexico border. (COM)
Salisbury, Mark. 2016. Walt Disney’s Alice in wonderland: An illustrated journey through time. Disney Book Group (Disney Enterprises). 176pp. ISBN 978-1-484-73769-9.
Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland is based on the book by English author, Lewis Carroll. The film captures the essence of Alice, as stated by James Bobin, “Alice represents a new generation of women fighting for equal rights by going down a rabbit hole into a very different world where traditional gender roles have been turned upside down, and thank goodness she does: the world is so much better for it.” (page 11). And gratefully, Disney’s development of the film is captured from the beginning with The Alice Comedies, to An Animated Wonderland, and finally, The live-action adventures. The Illustrated journey through time is timeless, as a historical record, but also as an engaging representation of art, film, animation and Alice in Wonderland first published on 26 November, 1865. (DLN)
Scelsa, Kate. 2015. Fans of the impossible life. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 360pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-233175-5.
When the shy art nerd Jeremy meets Mira and Sebby, he is instantly captivated. The three become close friends, even as they struggle with their own internal problems. Mira wrestles with crippling depression. Sebby masks his hurt and stress from living in foster care by acting snide and seeking fleeting relief from sex and drugs. Jeremy is painfully shy and wrestles with his sexual identity. The chapters alternate between the three characters’ perspectives - Jeremy’s told in first person, Sebby’s in second person, and Mira’s in third. The characters and their emotions feel achingly real, and the motives and nebulous relationships are treated realistically and with respect. Fans of novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower might find this to be a new favorite. Recommended for high school readers. (MC)
Schaefer, Elizabeth (adapter). 2016. Star Wars: The force awakens. Disney Book Group (Disney Lucasfilm Press). 128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-148470558-2. Illustrations by Brian Rood. Based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
The movie, Star Wars: The force awakens is retold in this storybook of General Leia Organa’s quest to find Luke Skywalker and defeat the evil First Order. Leia has the help of others, including a brave and fearless pilot. The fast-paced action and corresponding pictures, artwork from the Star Wars film, will appeal to youngsters, ages 6 – 12, and all fans of the Star Wars films. (DLN)
Schaefer, Elizabeth (adapter). 2016. Star Wars™ the force awakens: Read – along storybook and CD. Disney Book Group (Disney+Lucasfilm Press). 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-148473149-9. Illustrated by Brian Rood. CD: Michael D. Hanks as the narrator, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, John Boyega as Finn, Daisy Ridley as Rey, Harrison Ford as Hans Solo. Music composed by John Williams. Based on the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
Readers of all ages 3 and up, will appreciate the voices of the characters as they share the story of the latest Star Wars™ adventure. Join Hans Solo and his allies as they face a new threat thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire. The scenes in the book reflect the intense action in the film, and readers will sense the excitement and thrill of the conflict between good and evil. Star Wars™ enthusiasts will value the last sentence because it hints of a sequel “But she (Rey) was sure that her adventures were only just beginning…….” (DLN)
Schulz, Charles, M. 2015. Peanuts: Snoopy and Woodstock’s great adventure. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1481451963. Adapted by Lauren Forte, Illustrated by Scott Jeralds.
Bird scouts Conrad, Olivier, Bill, Harriet and Woodstock, led by Snoopy, the world-famous Beagle Scout, are off to the wilderness for an adventure. When they reach overgrown weeds, Snoopy and troupe are wary of snakes, but resolve the dangerous situation by filing vertically on Snoopy’s hat. Snoopy graciously solves or tolerates each conflict, typical of Schulz’s characterization of his famous dog. (DLN)
Schulz, Charles, M. 2016. It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 32pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1481461597. Based on the animated special, with text adapted by Daphne Pendergrass. Illustrated by Vicki Scott.
Fans of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends will enjoy this adaptation of the animated special if they also celebrate the Easter holiday. Characters are familiar, and as expected, Lucy loses her patience, and Peppermint Patty is frustrated with Marcie, but the Easter Beagle, otherwise known as Snoopy, saves the day and mollifies an angry Lucy with a kiss on the cheek. The ending is rather cheeky, but then Easter can be a sentimental holiday. (DLN)
Schulz, Charles M. 2016. Peanuts: Kick the football, Charlie Brown!. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6209-9. Adapted by Cordelia Evans, Illustrated by Scott Jeralds.
Charles M. Schulz (1922 – 2000) created the comic strip that serves as the basis for this story about Charlie Brown and his sister, Sally, and friends, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy, and Rerun, Charlie Brown is committed to kicking the football but Lucy has other ideas. While Charlie is stubborn, Lucy is cunning but becomes completely frustrated when her brother, Rerun, refuses to answer her question about whether Charlie Brown succeeded in kicking the football. Readers, ages 4 – 8, can discuss the probable endings to the story. Did Charlie really kick the ball and fulfill his dream, or the Rerun remove the ball before Charlie could make contact with it? (DLN)
Schwab, Victoria. 2016. This savage song. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 427pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238085-2.
Kate is trying to prove that she is as ruthless as father. August, a monster, wants nothing more than to be a human, even though he can steal souls with a song. In a post-apocalyptic former United Sates where different kinds of monsters terrorize the outer limits of the cities, Kate and August strike up an unlikely friendship. While the plot moves slowly at first, the two main characters are unique and interesting and keep the reading engaging . Recommended for high school readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic stories or horror. First in a series. (MC)
Scott, Elaine. 2015. Our moon: New discoveries about Earth’s closest companion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (Clarion Books). 72pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-547-48394-8.
In Our moon: New discoveries about Earth’s closest companion, children are invited to learn up-to-date information about the moon, including previous missions to the moon, current theories on how the moon formed, the discovery of water on the moon, and the possibility of sustaining human life on the moon. As they read, children will be able to trace the gradual discoveries about the moon. Even though this is an informational book, children, ages 9-12, will be able to identify potential conflicts. There is a person vs. society conflict when the philosopher Anaxagoras told people moonlight was a reflection of the sun’s light. Other people did not agree with his seemingly radical idea; he was arrested and almost put to death before his friend Pericles helped him escape. A similar person vs. person conflict is present whenever people have different views about origins. For instance, Ptolemy taught geocentric theory, which stated the sun and planets orbited Earth. However, this was challenged by Copernicus. He supported the heliocentric view; the sun is the center of the solar system. People could get into disagreements over these different views. Similarly, there is a person vs. person conflict about the moon’s formation; experts have different theories. Another conflict is person vs. nature. This was evident during the first landing on the moon. Neil Armstrong had to quickly find a safe place to land on the moon once he realized the Eagle was about to land on an area with rocks and boulders. They were able to land on smooth basalt before they ran out of fuel. This conflict continued as Mission Control had to run tests to make sure the astronauts would be safe outside of the spacecraft. Person vs. person conflicts take place on a larger scale as different countries race to learn more about the moon. The Apollo Missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s were a result of a race between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union; the U.S. was able to put the first person on the moon. Despite the success of the mission, there was initially another person vs. person conflict when astronauts and materials from the moon had to be quarantined for fear of a potential disease spreading. This conflict was eliminated once experts confirmed there was no danger of contamination. Scientists also face person vs. self conflicts as they have to “always be willing to let go of long-held beliefs if new information presents itself” (59). Told from the third person point of view, children can see how people’s response to the moon has shifted, even while the moon has remained unchanged “for the past 4 billion years or so” (32). Initially, ancient tales characterized the moon as “a distant, forbidding place, a kind of outer-space prison or punishment for misbehaving humans” (9). This view has changed as people have learned more information about the moon, such as its different phases. This change in opinion was also clear when the U.S. sent people to the moon. Scott also reveals people still dream of living on the moon, which may not be impossible according to recent discoveries of water on the moon. Throughout this book, the setting serves as mood, antagonist, and historical background. The setting creates a mood of anxiety when Neil Armstrong gets dangerously close to crashing the Eagle into the unexpected rocks and boulders on that area of the moon. This is an instance when the setting also serves as an antagonist. However, after they safely land, there is a mood of excitement as they are able to collect rock samples for experts to analyze back on Earth; this mood extends beyond the time the astronauts spend on the moon. Some children may also feel this excitement at the suggestion of people being able to live on the moon someday. The setting can also convey a mood of calm because there are no sound waves on the moon; it is quiet. The setting also serves as an antagonist when other unmanned missions fail as the crafts crash into the moon’s surface. The setting serves as historical background because children are able to learn about our ancestors’ views of the moon and the Apollo missions. Children will also be able to see how Thomas Harriot and Galileo mapped the moon. This historical background is necessary to include. As they read, children can identify several themes in this informational book. They will discover how it is important to consider all evidence and potentially change their opinions. This is what experts have done as they learn more information about the moon. Another subtle, yet important theme is to cultivate imagination and curiosity. Without these aspects of personality, experts may have already given up the prospect of ever being able to sustain human life on the moon. This relates to the theme of never stop exploring, even if challenges arise. Children will also discover how hard work can lead to success. It took a lot of preparation before the U.S. was able to send people to the moon, and it continues to take effort and time to complete research. Children will also be engaged by different elements of style throughout the book. In contrast to the long, descriptive sentences, Scott incorporates short sentences, such as “Not in 1969” (6), “They were busy” (19), “Bag 196 was special” (46), “For now” (48), and “It isn’t dry and airless. It has water and atmosphere” (59). These shorter sentences alert the reader to an important point and may help refocus their attention back on the text. Scott also uses a conversational, relatable tone. For instance, she notes how it would take 135 days to get to the moon by car (7). This is information middle school children would be able to comprehend. In another case, she compares radioactive dating to the process of trying to figure out how long a glass of milk has been sitting on the counter; this makes the concept more accessible for children. Scott also conveys honesty in statements such as “But the truth is, Earth’s closest companion in the solar system is actually a good neighbor, not frightening at all” (9). Another style element is alliteration. Astronauts went on “manned missions to the moon” (9), and the moon is “Earth’s nearest neighbor” (11) and “closest companion” (61). This alliteration can help children remember key details about the moon. Throughout the book, Scott provides definitions of unfamiliar words. For instance, she reminds children of definitions when she explains how Anaxagoras’s students had to “rely on their senses (what they could see, touch, taste, or hear) but also to use logic and reason (their minds)” (11). When there is a difficult name, Scott provides a pronunciation guide so children don’t get stuck for too long; there is other information they should focus on. There are also similes throughout the book, which will help children connect these concepts to things on Earth. For instance, planets occupy a certain space in orbit “like the separate lanes on a racing track” (13), and the moon “looked like smooth seas to them” (17). Objects in space are “like runaway bumper cars in a giant carnival ride” (24), the atmosphere clings to Earth “like sand sticks to bare wet feet” (36), and small materials hit the moon “like bugs hit a car window as it speeds down the road” (60). Scott tries to maintain children’s attention by using different names for the moon. The moon is the Earth’s sister (36) or “silent and still, like an untouched attic just waiting to have its treasures discovered (39),” whereas Earth is the Goldilocks planet because it’s a “just-right distance from the sun” (36). Scott repeats words to add emphasis, as in “more and more” (12), “night after night” (15), and “step by step, mission after mission” (51); italics are also used to add emphasis. She occasionally incorporates exclamation points as well. Scott has unique word choice in several sentences, including “whopping” (20) and “bombardment” (32). Another strategy to keep children engaged is by utilizing rhetorical questions, such as “How did water get to the moon?” (59) and “But which humans will be first to return to the moon?” (63). There is personification when Scott notes how the rocks have their own story to tell. In order to promote cognitive development, children can compare the views of ancient philosophers and current experts in regard to the moon. If they don’t know the story of the first landing, they can also predict what will happen after Scott notes “That landing, however, was not exactly tranquil” (17). Because the story of the different missions weaves throughout the book, children may benefit from summarizing and organizing the facts in chronological order. They can also evaluate information when they read about Dr. Taylor’s idea of a “lunar lawnmower” creating a glass road on the moon. They can observe and compare the different photographs of the moon included throughout the book. In order to promote social development, children can consider how experts have different viewpoints, but they still have to get along and possibly work together. This will model the behavior of being considerate to others even if there are differing opinions. This book also displays the benefits of working together toward a common goal. Children may be able to identify with others who are excited about researching and learning about potential future residence on the moon. The photographs and illustrations throughout the book can help reinforce children’s comprehension and passion for this topic. The majority of this book incorporates photographs of the moon from the different missions. The thin, diagonal lines cutting through Riccioli’s map of the moon allude to the unpredictability and uncertainty about the moon during the 1600s. On the other hand, the horizontal lines on the illustration for Hevelius’s book, Selenographia (1647), suggest a step toward stability; this seems to put more validity in the practice of mapping the moon. The vertical pole of the American flag on the moon also establishes a sense of stability and accomplishment, even though it was blown over by the exhaust of the Eagle’s takeoff. The thin, curved lines of the orbits of the planets convey how these large, distant objects may seem unpredictable or hard to comprehend. Some of the illustrations include the astronauts on the moon. These organic shapes draw children's focus away from the moon and emphasize the accomplishment of people landing on the moon. The organic shape of the moon rocks suggest unpredictability, and this correlates to the initial fear the rocks might spread disease. In several of the photographs, there are geometric shapes. For instance, there is a triangle formed by the legs of the astronaut and the moon. This conveys a sense of safety in the midst of a potentially dangerous situation. The landing craft, the Eagle, also looks like a triangle, which reinforces the suggestion of stability. Another common shape is a sphere—the moon. This implies stability and a place of safety. However, this surface also contains craters, which slightly distorts this view. In terms of color, the muted, darker hues of gray and black suggest a calm state of the moon. This is contrasted by other colors, such as the red in Aristotle’s clothes. This suggests the energy and vigor necessary to teach others and conduct research. This red color is also incorporated in the pictures of the sun and the Meteor Crater in Arizona, both suggesting high amounts of energy expended. There are also blues and greens with the image of the Earth and the moon. This reinforces the presence of life on Earth, while also highlighting the lack of life on the gray moon. Different artists use light to depict explosions, such as in the illustrations of the beginning of the solar system and the formation of the moon. Extra lines and shading on the maps of the moon indicate texture. Similarly, the small circular shapes on the photographs of the moon indicate the craters on the moon, which show texture. This book may be classified as an informational book. In terms of accuracy and authenticity, Scott has published several other nonfiction works, many of them also about scientific concepts; she aims to make them accessible to young readers. She also establishes her credibility by including books and websites children can read if they want more information; they can check the facts. The information presented in the book also reflects our current understanding of the moon. Scott also incorporates significant facts dating back to the time of Aristotle. In information boxes, she delineates when there are multiple theories, such as of those about the moon’s formation. However, there may be bias against people who do not believe the Earth or other planets are billions of years old; this number is consistently referenced throughout the text, which seems to establish it as a fact. In terms of content and perspective, the purpose of the book is to help children understand how research about the moon has evolved and how the moon is still important today; Scott wants children to know there is still the possibility of humans walking on the moon again. This book remains within the comprehension range of the reader because Scott incorporates definitions for many words in the text. Children can also refer to the glossary or the index for further guidance. It also stays within the interest range of middle school children because of the conversational tone. The subject is also adequately covered because of the broad range of facts presented. Scott makes sure to incorporate different viewpoints; she still notes them even if they have proved to be incorrect. With the combination of facts and stories about the missions, she is trying to foster a spirit of inquiry and imagination. In terms of style, the language is precise and descriptive through the use of different style elements, particularly simile. In terms of organization, the book is divided into different chapters: “Introduction,” “Mapping the Moon,” “Earth’s Sister,” “Earth’s Attic,” “The Moon Rocks,” and “Racing to the Moon.” This will help focus children’s attention on what will be discussed in the chapter. The reference aids, such as the table of contents, index, and glossary, are easy for children to utilize as they read. Throughout the book, Scott adds information boxes to supplement the content in the main text. However, some of these boxes are not placed on the same page as it is mentioned in the text. At several points, children will be in the middle of a sentence when they encounter a full page of additional information. They will have to flip back and forth and try to decide when it is the best time to read this extra information. This may be distracting for some children. These information boxes could be more strategically placed. In terms of the illustrations, they help children develop an understanding of what the moon looks like. All of the photographs are also labeled, which can be helpful for clarification purposes. In one of the illustrations, Scott notes how the image is not to scale. Throughout the book, the photographs and illustrations enhance the content. This information book encourages children to consider the importance of thinking critically when presented with different evidence. A portion of the text focuses on the historical views about the moon. It is also centered on nature and discoveries, which are typical topics for informational books. A book of facts about the moon, children will find themselves in a position to learn what research has revealed about the moon and to dream of the possibility of a future on the moon. (SMM)
Senzai, Naheed Hasnat. 2015. Ticket to India. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-2258.
Readers, ages 8 – 12, interested in adventure stories set within the historical backdrop of the Great Partition of India and Pakistan will be captivated by the quest of twelve year-old Maya and her older sister, Zara, to find a family chest. The experiences of Maya are not realistic, but her adventures traveling from Karachi, Pakistan to New Delhi, India, and then from New Delhi to Aminpur, India, are exciting, terrifying, captivating, and eventually, rewarding. Themes of perseverance, family commitment, love, hope, and friendship dominate Maya’s adventures. Given the cultural contrasts portrayed in the book, the story can complement units on India and Pakistan. Also, the story can provide a springboard for discussions about poverty and human trafficking. (DLN)
Shaw, Natalie. 2016. Olivia™: I can do anything. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5218-2. Based on the TV series Olivia™ as seen on Nickelodeon™.
After Perry graduates from dog-training school Olivia™ is prompted to imagine what she would like to do when she graduates. Thankfully, Olivia™ has a vivid and extensive imagination. Her message is addressed primarily to students, especially young girls, and teaches them that they can be anything they would like to be. While readers may understand imagination is only part of the equation of success, the story encourages youngsters to consider the limitless possibilities. (DLN)
Smith, Dave. 2016. Disney facts revealed: Answers to fans’ curious questions. Disney Book Group (Disney Editions). 320pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-148474202-0.
Dave Smith, Chief Archivist Emeritus of the Walt Disney Archives first published answers to almost 1000 questions about the world, including characters, of Disney in 2012. As a columnist in Disney Channel Magazine and Disney Magazine for over 30 years, Dave is an expert on the magical kingdom of Disney. This collection of another 1000 questions, from 2010 – 2014, go beyond typical trivia questions and reveal interesting, intriguing Disney facts. For example, Smith’s answer to the question about the gender of Bambi reads “Bambi is a male; he has a girlfriend, Faline. People do get confused, because Bambi is a name given to girls these days.” (p.15). Questions fall into several categories: animated features, animated shorts, Disneyland, live-action films, merchandise and collectibles, miscellaneous, music, publications, television, Walt Disney, Walt Disney Imagineering, and Walt Disney World. The question about Bambi is located in the section of animated features. (DLN)
Sommers, Jackie Lea. 2015. Truest. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books). 375pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234825-8.
West finds herself drawn to the cute, strange new boy in town, Silas. Despite having a boyfriend, she finds herself increasingly drawn to Silas. At the same time, Silas is wrestling with his own issues as his sister Laurel struggles with a mental illness called solipsism syndrome, meaning the world feels like it’s not real outside of Laurel’s own head. What follows is a story of family, love, tragedy, and uncertainty. Fans of romance and realistic fiction will enjoy Truest. (MC)
Steig, Jeanne. 2016. Divine comedies: A gift from Zeus and the Old Testament made easy. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 200pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3957-2. Illustrated by William Steig.
In Divine comedies: A gift from Zeus and the Old Testament made easy, children are invited to explore the relationships between mortals, gods, and God. Throughout these poems, children will be able see these myths and Old Testament stories through a more modern perspective as Steig writes in a conversational tone. Children, ages 12 and up, will be able to identify recurring themes in these stories. For instance, children are confronted with the difficult topic and conflict of rape; in this person vs. person conflict, many of the gods, including Zeus, transform themselves into animals and then rape mortal women who later give birth to a child. Furthermore, there are person vs. person conflicts when the gods get jealous and seek revenge. In “Theseus,” there is a person vs. person conflict as Theseus kills the villains using the same weapons they have killed others with. There is another person vs. person when Medea gets jealous of the young girl her husband wants to marry and then makes her burst into flames. Theseus avoids a large person vs. person conflict when Ariadne tells him how to defeat the Minotaur; this action saves many other people’s lives. Children will also find person vs. self conflict when different characters experience unrequited love; they begin to waste away until eventually they die. There is a person vs. nature conflict when Leander dies after trying to cross the river to meet his lover Hero. Told from the third person point of view, children will be able to see many different characters change, although this view is limited because the stories are short. For instance, Venus’s love for Adonis makes her step away from her “usual self-indulgent, comfort-loving ways” (64); she lets her loose and runs through the woods. The gods change physical shape as they come to earth in the form of different animals, such as bulls or swans. In general, the unrequited lovers change as they wither away and are consumed by feelings of loneliness. Throughout the poems, the setting serves as both the mood and the antagonist. The setting serves as an antagonist when all of the villains gather along the coastal road to Athens, making it difficult for people to travel. Furthermore, the setting can be an antagonist when the god come down and rape the mortals; in the country, there is no one to help save them. The setting sets a lighthearted mood when King Aegeus celebrates his son’s arrival with sacrifices, bonfires, and feasts. The setting sets a mood of lightheartedness and freedom whenever mortals are able to venture through the woods, such as when Europa collects flowers with her friends. However, many of these established moods shift to despair when the gods intervene, often leading to the death of a mortal. In terms of theme, children will understand how the gods bring problems to the world; revenge can lead to a continuous cycle of murder and grief. At the same time, people act irrationally when they are trying to get what they want; this is true for both humans and gods. This also ties to the idea how selfishness can prevent the establishment of relationships. In terms of style, children will find several instances of rhyme throughout the poems, such as “me” and “see” or “heed” and need.” (37) Depending on the poem, these are either lines in couplets or in every other line. Another emphasis is alliteration, such as Jacob’s “craving for his cousin” (157). These instances of alliteration highlight the action and make it easier for the reader to remember the words. This book also includes several short sentences, such as “Medea knew” (112). This emphasizes the importance of these words. In terms of cognitive development, children will be able to compare the behavior of the gods. Once they understand the pattern of the narrative, they will be able to hypothesize how the mortals and the gods will act. They can also summarize the common themes among the stories. In terms of social development, children will note how Aegeus welcomes his son Theseus, even though the boy was solely raised by his mother. They must able be able to critically evaluate the message of this story; they need to regulate their behavior and remember how these women are not being treated correctly or with respect. They can also see how many of these relationships are negative. The illustration throughout the book can help reinforce comprehension of the content. The curved, but otherwise horizontal lines on the leaves of one tree suggest unpredictability. The woman, Pandora, is under this tree, and she later opens the mysterious box from Zeus; this unpredictable box reveals evil into the world. In another instance, the vertical lines of the tree indicate stability and safety. Daphne, trying to escape Apollo, becomes a tree, preventing him from hurting her or forcing her to marry him. There are also diagonal lines, such as in the illustration when Zeus, as a swan, lands on Leda; they form a diagonal line as they fall to the ground. This suggests uncontrolled motion as well as a potential threat to Leda. The diagonal lines created by the shower of brimstone in Sodom and Gomorrah suggest unpredictability, as the people were not expecting God to react in this way. In terms of shape, the organic shapes of people, the animals, and the plants draw attention to life despite the emphasis on murder and revenge throughout the book. These organic shapes draw more attention than the geometric ones. In “A Gift from Zeus,” the green color emphasizes how most of the action in this book takes place in nature, away from an established city. The red color of the monsters in the evil box from Zeus suggests anger and danger. In other cases, red is used to indicate blood, which establishes a mood of grief. In the myth about Midas, the presence of gold objects reinforces his foolishness in wanting everything he touches to turn to gold. In “The Old Testament Made Easy,” the use of black and white serves as a way to draw children’s attention back to the text and visualize what the colors might be. Steig uses light in only a few instances to reveal the power of the sun, such as when Icarus flies too close to the sun and the wax from his wings gets melted; he plunges into the sea. Extra lines on people’s clothing, the plants, and the ground contribute texture. Steig also utilizes shadows and shading to make the illustrations more realistic. This book can be classified as poetry. More specifically, it is a short collection of narrative poem because it gives small snapshots of the lives of different people. These poems incorporate different elements of poetry, including thyme, repetition, imagery, and alliteration. It could be considered a nature poem because of the parallels it draws to the seasons. It also incorporates the topics of characters, situations, and settings. A story including both myths and the Old Testament, children will find themselves considering how their lives are affected by those around them and by those they may not see. (SMM)
Stiefvater, Maggie, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff. 2015. The anatomy of curiosity. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Lab). 286pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-1-4677-2398-5.
Three talented young adult authors present three unique novellas, but offer readers a backstage pass. Each author provides an introduction explaining the craft of their story, and each novella includes sidebar comments from the author with writing tips and background information. The three novellas focus on three different aspects of writing: character, world-building, and ideas. The result of this unique format is a story collection that is entertaining and informative, with advice that seasoned and beginning writers alike can take to heart. Recommended for young adult writers or writers who want to write for young adults. (MC)
Sullivan, Mary. 2016. Treat. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40pp. $14.99 ISBN 978-0544472709
An excited, robust, and determined pup has a one-track-mind and throughout each panel, readers, ages 3-7, follow the dog's pursuit for a treat. The pup is definitely persistent and readers will laugh at the antics it tries to convince its people a treat is warranted. Illustrations convey the frustrations, anxieties, challenges, and finally, the satisfaction of the pup in its quest for a treat. One question readers might want to ask and then answer, should this overweight dog eat treats? (DLN)
Sutcliffe, Jane. 2016. Will’s words: How William Shakespeare changed the way you talk. Charlesbridge. 40pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-638-2. Illustrated by John Shelley.
In Will’s words: How William Shakespeare changed the way you talk, children are invited to explore the 17th century Globe Theatre and learn more information about the phrases we have borrowed from Shakespeare. Throughout this nonfiction picture book, Sutcliffe uses Shakespeare’s phrases as she helps children understand this time period. Although the book does not focus on details of Shakespeare’s personal life, children, ages 7-10, will be able to identify potential conflicts faced by the people in London. During this time period, people enjoyed going to plays. There may be several person vs. person conflicts taking place in the Globe Theatre. For instance, as many as 18,000 people attended the plays per week, and there was not enough room in the theatre. Conflict could develop as the poor people, who had to stand near the stage, would elbow each other. There was also a person vs. person conflict as the audience would talk during the performances; they would even talk back to the actors, making it harder to deliver a performance. This could go a step further. If an actor forgot his lines, the audience would shout and throw food at him. Another implied conflict is person vs. society. During this time period, women were not allowed to act; the women roles were played by men. This reveals the discrimination of women during Shakespeare’s era. Another important aspect to consider is people often went to the Globe Theatre to witness person vs. person and person vs. self conflicts. Both tragedies and history plays depict internal and external conflicts. For instance, the history play Henry V centers around the person vs. person conflict experienced during war. While she doesn’t elaborate on person vs. self conflict in these plays or Shakespeare’s life, the author alludes to it in her postscript when she states, “[Shakespeare] used his words to tell stories about feelings.” Told from the third person point of view, children can see how Shakespeare impacted others around him. Initially, people were excited to see Shakespeare’s plays because of his ability to craft words. He made them feel varying emotions as they watched his plays. Comedies were hilarious, and people enjoyed watching their country’s past in history plays. However, tragedies were shocking and disturbing. Eventually, people from different occupations and classes started to use Shakespeare’s words at home in their daily lives. This continued to develop until Shakespeare’s words became a commonplace. This book primarily focuses on theatre, Shakespeare’s plays, and his words, so children cannot have a sense of how Shakespeare developed throughout his life. Sutcliffe does provide a postscript and a timeline with basic facts about Shakespeare’s life, but this does not help children fully understand his character. It is also difficult to determine how the actors developed through their experiences on the stage. Throughout this book, the setting serves as mood, antagonist, and historical background. The setting suggests a mood of confusion and chaos when Sutcliffe describes London as a “bustling, jostling, clanging, singing, stinking, head-chopping, pickpocketing wonder of a city.” This description also reveals how the setting could serve as an antagonist; the number of people in London encouraged the spread of the plague. The setting of the Globe Theatre establishes a mood of excitement and playfulness as “playgoers talked, crunched apples, cracked nuts, guzzled beer, and belched to their heart’s content.” However, there may also be a more anxious mood as the actors could disappoint the audience and get food thrown at them. The bare stage without props or scenery creates a mood of confidence in the power of words to transport the audience to a certain time and place. Outside of the theatre, the setting allows a platform for Shakespeare’s words to be used in everyday life. The setting serves as historical background because it takes place in London during the early 1600s. This book details the experiences of the actors and the audience at the theatre while also incorporating the impact of Shakespeare’s words. As they read, children will also identify several themes. They will discover how the past can still have an influence today. Shakespeare’s words have become a commonplace in the English language, and many children and adults may not realize who these phrases came from. Another subtle theme is literature and the spoken word can unite people of different classes as they are exposed to the same plot and emotions; still, this does not necessarily mean everyone will appreciate the play. Children will also be able to notice different elements of style used consistently throughout the book. Sutcliffe begins and ends the book with a note to the reader; this helps the reader further understand the context. She emphasizes the phrases she has borrowed from Shakespeare; these are in bold. The recto then includes further explanation, including “Will’s Words,” “What It Means,” and “Where It Comes From.” This gives children the opportunity to learn the definition of the phrase and which play Shakespeare wrote this in. In these information boxes, Sutcliffe utilizes a conversational tone. For instance, when she gives the definition for the phrase “too much of a good thing,” she adds, “If you’ve ever eaten a whole bag of gummy worms at once, you already know what this means.” The style helps draw children in and makes it more enjoyable for them to read. This conversational tone is sustained throughout, such as when Sutcliffe includes “um” and a confidential “you-know-what.” There is alliteration, such as “butchers and bankers to lords and ladies” and “by bridge or by boat.” This style element forces the reader to slow down and pay attention to the details of this sentence. Some of Shakespeare’s phrases also incorporate alliteration, including “with bated breath,” “a sorry sight,” “love letter,” and “dead as a doornail.” If children are not already aware of these phrases, the alliteration may help them remember these words. Alliteration can also be used to emphasize the main point of the book, as in “Will gave his stirring speeches full of fiery words.” Another style element is simile. Sutcliffe describes how the Globe Theatre “looked something like a small, round football stadium with a thatched awning.” This will make it easier for children to visualize the setting. Another simile is “make your hair stick out like the quills on a porcupine.” This helps exaggerate the emotions of the audience members. There is repetition of words, such as “neighbor elbowing neighbor” and “a boy was playing a woman playing a boy.” Children may be confused by this repetition, especially in the latter phrase, but it will help them realize they may need to reread part of the paragraph before they can understand the phrase. Repetition is also used to emphasize a point, such as “Dead. Really dead.” In the postscript, Sutcliffe repeats “We know” as she discusses facts about Shakespeare. However, this also serves to emphasize how there is not a full understanding of Shakespeare’s life. Throughout the book, Sutcliffe incorporates short sentences and rhetorical questions to draw the reader’s attention. Some examples include “Actors. Not actresses.” and “How many times a day does someone tell you to hurry up? Blame Will. He helped make the word popular.” Despite all of the historical information, the style will help maintain children’s attention. In order to promote cognitive development, children can compare plays in the 1600s and now, especially in terms of actors, costumes, staging, and types of plays. After learning new vocabulary words, they can identify these phrases and summarize the definitions for each. This will help them practice and commit these phrases to memory. They can observe the illustrations in the book, especially the one showing how actors could enter the stage through a trapdoor or the illustration of the room with the costumes. The timeline at the end of the book will help children organize and understand the sequence of time and events. In order to promote social development, children can consider how the actors must’ve felt when the audience would talk during their performances and throw food at them; this may help children realize how it would be better to be more respectful to others. They may also be able to identify with the idea of people of different backgrounds having similar interests; society was able to come together around this form of entertainment. However, they should also be able to identify how it was unfair women couldn’t be actors during this time period. The illustrations throughout the book can help reinforce children’s comprehension. The bold, vertical lines of the houses suggest safety and stability, even in the midst of the crowded streets of London. These bold, vertical lines are also present as pillars on the stage. This indicates the stability of this structure. The bold, curved arc of the doorway to the printing press building reinforces the unpredictability of when Shakespeare would publish new plays, and the faces of the people suggest there is excitement associated with this unpredictability. At the same time, the printing press machine has bold vertical and horizontal lines, suggesting its reliability. There are also diagonal lines, such as the ladder and the ceiling beam in the dressing room of the theatre. Both of these may allude to the unpredictability and busy activity surrounding both the preparation and the performance of each play. There are also curved lines of the railings inside the Globe because it is a circular structure; these curved lines convey the unpredictability of the audience and their response to the play. Several of the illustrations include crowds of people. In this case, the organic shapes of the people draw children’s attention away from the crowd and toward more well-defined objects in the picture, such as the actors on the stage. There are also geometric shapes. For instance, the roofs on the houses form triangles, and the windows form rectangles. This suggests safety in the setting of the home. The actors also seem confident and stable in their actions because their legs form a triangle with the ground. The Globe Theatre is circular and suggests a place of safety and unity. In terms of color, this book utilizes different shades of brown on the streets, houses, and the theatre. These muted hues suggest a calm uniformity throughout the city. This is contrasted by the blue sky and water. This color suggests a connection to nature and adds more life to the otherwise dull city. This emphasis on life is even clearer when looking at the green grass on the outskirts of the city near the Globe Theatre. The red and blue hues of people’s clothing also indicate how they help brighten and give life to the city. The Globe Theatre also uses a red flag to indicate it is open for a performance; the red color emphasizes the energy and emotions the actors, or even the audience, may display. Shelley uses light in the form of lantern, which is being used in the tunnel under the stage; actors are able to come up through the trapdoor on the stage. Other than this lantern, Shelley does not specifically use light to show the time of day; it all takes place during the day. Extra lines on the buildings, trees, and the hair of the people contribute texture. The added shading on the people’s clothes also makes it seem more realistic. While it does include some biographical information, this book may be classified as an informational book; it focuses more on “Will’s words,” theatres, and plays rather than the personal life of William Shakespeare. In terms of accuracy and authenticity, Sutcliffe, who has enjoyed learning about Shakespeare since she was a child, establishes her credibility by including a Bibliography page. This could be useful for children who want to do more research on Shakespeare. The information presented throughout the book also reflects our current understanding of Shakespeare and his work. However, in the timeline, it reveals Shakespeare collaborated with other writers on some of his plays. This information would’ve been beneficial to include in the body of the text. Sutcliffe also distinguishes between fact and theory when she mentions how we are uncertain about many aspects of Shakespeare’s life; researchers and scholars do not have all the facts. In terms of content and perspective, Sutcliffe begins with a letter to the reader where she outlines her purpose—to show how Shakespeare’s words still have an impact today. The conversational tone and style will make it easier for children to comprehend and stay engaged. Sutcliffe calls Shakespeare the “most brilliant playwright in London.” However, it would’ve helped eliminate bias if she had mentioned some other playwrights at this time, such as Ben Jonson. In terms of organization, the text was organized around the proceedings of a play; it started with people coming to the theatre and ended with them returning to their homes. Children will be more engaged because the book is written more like a storybook rather than a textbook. The illustrations in this book help children understand what the Globe Theatre looked like during this time period. It would’ve been helpful if there were actual photographs included of the theatre and the actors. This is an information book focusing on the topic of history and culture, and children will be able to gain a better understanding of this time period. This book also has some biographical elements because it focuses on one author, Shakespeare, who is a worthy subject. Many children will encounter his work in middle school or high school, and this book can lay an early foundation for learning about Shakespeare. A book of the importance of Shakespeare’s words, children will find themselves immersed in the society of the 17th century as they learn about plays, theatres, and the lasting impact of Shakespeare’s words. (SMM)
Sweet, Melissa. 2016. Some writer! The Story of E.B. White. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-544-31959-2.
Writer Eudora Welty wrote of Charlotte’s Web, “…as a piece of work it is just about perfect.” Along with Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan are the three most read and cherished works of E.B. White. In this White biography, author Melissa Sweet follows “En,” later called, “Andy,” through his life. Born the youngest of six children, E.B. had an idyllic childhood. Their home in New York was filled with music, laughter, and limericks. In the summer the family went to Belgrade Lakes, Maine where they boated, fished, swam, studied the wildlife, and spent time with the animals at a farmhouse near their cottage. Always fascinated with the printed word, E.B. began to write at the age of seven and by his own accord, “…I was a busy writer long before I went into long pants.” Sweet chronicles White’s childhood, college years at Cornell, cross country road trip in his Model T, marriage to Katharine, time at the New Yorker, and the evolution of his most famous children’s stories.
This beautiful book is a work of art. There are photos from throughout White’s life, excerpts from his original manuscripts and letters, sketches, interviews from those who knew him well, and colorful collages. The collages include symbols of things White loved like a bottle cap from Moxie soda, pictures of his beloved dogs, diagrams for homemade boats, and a model of a birch bark canoe. The collages are typed on a manual typewriter because White never stopped typing his work on an old Corona. At the end of the biography, Sweet provides us with Author’s Notes, an Afterword by White’s granddaughter, Martha White, a timeline of his life, a selected bibliography, and special Thank You page. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White is a special book, meticulously and artfully prepared, and should be experienced by everyone touched by the works of E.B. White. (OJB)
Vande Velde, Vivian. 2016. Squirrel in the House. Holiday House, Inc. 72 pp. $15.95. ISBN 978-0-8324-3633-0-51595.
Squirrel is highly educated; after all, he is a schoolyard squirrel. He feel sorry for Cuddles the dog, because he has to be on a leash and he can’t climb trees and sometimes he has to be inside. But on the day his nest is disturbed by a snowstorm, Squirrel decides that inside may be a pretty good place. What follow is mayhem-Squirrel climbs down the chimney, scales the curtains, spills the flower vases, tastes the food (cupcakes are best!) and pushes Cuddles the dog into a barking frenzy. The youngest child is blamed for Squirrel’s entry and adventure and, after he is reprimanded, runs outside without shoes. Squirrel goes outside to bring the boy back, but the boy falls in the snow and is injured. Now Squirrel must re-enter the home and get these humans to notice. In the ensuing chaos, Cuddles gets out, finds the boy, gets the father to come out and rescue his son, and becomes the family hero. As he returns to his comfortable nest, Squirrel muses about how Dog got to be the hero when in reality it was he, but as sleep and dreams of cupcakes overcome him, he lets go.
This fast-paced book with lively illustrations would be an engaging read along for early to middle elementary age students. (OJB)
Vicente, Alidis. 2016. The case of the three kings: the flaca files/El caso de los reyes magos: los expedientes de flaca. Piñata Books (Arte Público Press). 115pp. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-822-0.
Detective Flaca receives the worst Christmas gift she can imagine – a plane ticket to visit her relatives in Puerto Rico. Having to spend a week with no air conditioning or Wi-Fi sounds like the worst way to end Christmas break. Detective Flaca doesn’t understand why her family has to travel to celebrate Three Kings Day. Who are these three kings, and why is it such a celebrated holiday in Latin American culture? Detective Flaca is on a mission to find out more about Three Kings Day, even though it may cause her to step out of her comfort zone. This book does a great job highlighting the difficulties of identifying with multiple cultures and learning to appreciate different traditions. In addition, this book is in English and Spanish, making it a great read for language learners. (COM)
Virján, Emma J. 2016. What this story needs is a hush and a shush A pig in a wig book. Harper (HarperCollins Publishers). 40pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0062415288.
Pig in a wig wants to sleep in her ped with her pink teddy bear, but her animal friends from the barn, duck, goose, dog, bird, frog, horse, cow, cat, snake, hen, sheep, and chick are interested in joining her and raise their voices. The unexpected ending will delight readers, ages 3-7, as they relate to the need to find a quite place to sleep. The variations of the color, red, dominate the illustrations; the pig is pink, her wig is red, the barn (home and her friends) is deep red, the snout of the cow is pink, the teddy bear is pink, the bed and bed stand are a deep shade of pink, the bed linens are pink, the pig wears pink slippers. Other pig in the wig books include: What this story needs is a munch and crunch, and What this story needs is a bang and a clang. (DLN)
Vogel, Vin. 2015. The thing about yetis. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-4170-6.
While Yetis love winter, they also dream of summer, especially on the “coldest, wettest, windiest” winter days when they are housebound. Youngsters, ages 3 – 6, can follow the yetis through winter and dream with them of summer. Yetis are round, cute, and inviting, enjoying many of the same things as young children such as hot chocolate, books, stuffed animals, sledding, building snow castles, ice skating, using their imaginations, as well as making snowballs and snowmen. The story can provide aid to children who may become restless as the end of winter nears as well as foster excitement for the upcoming change of season. (DLN)
Walter, Jon. 2016. My name is not Friday. Scholastic Inc. (David Fickling Books). 384pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-545-85522-8.
In My name is not Friday, upper middle and high school children are invited to follow the story of a young black boy navigating the difficulties of the Civil War. Twelve-year-old Samuel, a free black, grows up in an orphanage with his younger brother, Joshua. Samuel is well-behaved and knows how the read and write; Joshua always gets in trouble and doesn’t want to do his work. Samuel’s life takes a turn when he takes the blame for something he believes Joshua did. Samuel is taken by a man named Gloucester and then sold into slavery. Older children, ages 12-15, will recognize multiple conflicts throughout the novel. The boys at the orphanage, particularly Joshua, face a person vs. person conflict when Father Mosely canes them for disobeying or stealing. When anyone is punished, Father Mosely reminds them they are sinners, and they need to repent. Therefore, Samuel faces a person vs. self conflict in several situations throughout the novel as he tries to ward off temptations and the influence of the Devil. Father Mosely’s strict preaching also makes it hard for the boys, especially Samuel, to fully understand whether or not they are guilty; they feel guilty even if they did nothing wrong. Samuel faces more conflict once he is forced to leave the orphanage. He experiences a person vs. person when Gloucester, the man who is going to sell him, ties a sack around Samuel’s head and kicks him in the stomach; Samuel cannot get away from this man, especially because he threatens to go back and get Joshua if Samuel runs away or tells anyone he can read and write. It becomes clear he hasn’t come from another plantation; he doesn’t know how to do any of the work. At the auction, Gerald Allen, a twelve-year-old white boy, bids on Samuel and buys him. Initially, there are person vs. person conflicts as several slaves display physical force in response to Samuel’s naivety about how slavery works. For instance, both Hubbard and Lizzie slap Samuel, and Sicely, Lizzie’s daughter, criticizes his lack of knowledge about household tasks. All of the slaves are limited in their options of escape because of a person vs. society conflict. Men in the community do a patrol of the area and use dogs to track down any slaves who may be trying to escape. A person vs. self conflict arises when Samuel lies to Gerald about his brother and makes him believe he can’t read or write. Samuel lies about his education so Gerald will bring him books and he can use them to teach the other slaves to read and write. He feels conflicted because he knows Gerald is only trying to be his friend. Slavery also reveals a person vs. society conflict as white slave owners and preachers justify their actions by claiming slavery is a way to keep black people safe. These slave owners often engage in a person vs. person conflict when they assert their power by whipping their slaves, as is apparent when Mrs. Allen whips Hubbard 150 times. The slaves also encounter a person vs. society when they are prevented from learning how to read or write; this lack of opportunity for slaves perpetuates the division between the two groups. Even though the Allen plantation may have better conditions than other places, there are still person vs. person conflicts when Mrs. Allen interacts with the slaves. For instance, she takes away the passes to leave the plantation, she takes away some of their free time, she whips Hubbard for being caught with a fake pass, she demands Lizzie’s chickens for Christmas dinner, and she shackles Hubbard’s feet together. These slaves are not free, and Mrs. Allen and Gerald can treat them however they would like. Despite their prior friendliness, Samuel and Gerald get into a person vs. person conflict as they fist fight after both make rude comments about the other’s dad. As the Yankees come onto the plantation and Samuel runs away, he encounters a person vs. person conflict on the battlefield, and he comes face-to-face with dead soldiers before he is almost killed by a Whistling Dick. Throughout the novel, Samuel deals with a person vs. self conflict as he tries to understand the presence of God in his life and how his actions have consequences. Later in the novel, self-doubts emerge when he cannot find work; his face became disfigured after the doctor had to take out his eyeball and sew the skin shut. Older children should trace the noticeable development of the main characters. Told from the first person point of view, children can understand how Samuel copes with the situation and how he deals with others. In the beginning of the novel, he sacrifices himself so Joshua will not get sent away from the orphanage. He becomes more hopeless once he realizes he will be sold into slavery. In fact, Gloucester takes away part of Samuel’s identity when he gives him a new name—Friday. He feels like an empty person. At this moment, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, including Gerald who is trying to be his friend. Samuel also expresses some temper as the read can view his violent thoughts, such as when he wants to want hurt Hubbard for slapping him. Even during these tough times, Samuel still relies on God, which is evident when he prays; however, these prayers seem self-centered as he primarily lists off all the good things he’s done every day. Over time, these prayers shift to focus on others. This also parallels with how his relationships develop with others. Initially, Hubbard and Lizzie disapprove of Samuel, but over time, they become parental figures. Samuel also gains more confidence in himself when he believes God sent him to the Allen plantation to act as Moses; he can teach the other slaves to read and write. Still, during other hard times, he fails to feel God’s presence and wonders why he is even alive or resorts to crying. He once again regains energy and spirit when trying to find and save Joshua from Gloucester. Sicely, Lizzie’s daughter, shows development when she starts being nice to Samuel. She wants to learn how to write and read her name. Samuel also baptizes her in the river, which further solidifies their relationship. Gerald Allen also displays change. Initially, he only wants to play with Samuel. He then starts teaching Samuel to read and write, even though Samuel already knows how to do both of these. Over time, they become more distant but still hold respect for each other. Gerald tries to take on the role of master of the plantation after his father dies. Another character, Mrs. Allen, shows two sides of herself. On the one hand, she tries to treat her slaves fairly and provide them good food and work conditions. On the other hand, she has a temper, which leads her to whip Hubbard, the foreman, 150 times for using a fake pass. After this, Hubbard loses his pride and becomes friendlier with the other slaves. Many characters display a change based on the circumstances. Throughout the novel, the setting serves as mood, antagonist, and historical background. The mood is dismal and hopeless when Samuel has a sack over his head and is being dragged by mule. This mood is reaffirmed when he arrives at the Allen plantation and the other slaves do not treat him with kindness. However, the mood becomes more hopeful and joyful when Samuel starts joining in on their secret night worship services and he begins to teach the other slaves to read and write. The mood becomes more threatening when Samuel is trying to run away. Towards the end of the novel, the constant rain also contributes to a sense of gloom. At several points in the story, the setting serves as the antagonist. Samuel cannot run away from the Allen plantation because he would likely be caught by the patrol. This happens to Hubbard, who was trying to visit his sick wife and his daughter. The setting also serves as the antagonist as Samuel tries to find people to help them stay free. The setting serves as historical background because it takes place on a plantation in Mississippi during the Civil War. The novel details the experiences of slaves and slave owners during this specific time period. As they read, older children will also identify several themes. They will discover how it is important embrace both the similarities and differences in people of different races. Regardless of skin color, Samuel was able to thrive and learn how to read and write. He was more intelligent than white people may have expected. Another theme in this novel is people search for freedom. These slaves constantly think about freedom, although only a few act on it by running away. Samuel thinks he can help the other slaves get freedom by proving to Mrs. Allen they can all read and write. Religion is also an impact aspect of this novel; Samuel’s varied emotions toward God reveal how individuals could turn away or cling to their faith in any given situation. At the same time, the group of slaves uses song and movement to let out their sorrow and hope for change. In this time of struggle, Mrs. Allen also notes a valuable lesson. People are stronger than they think, and they must make the best of what they have. Samuel has to go through many obstacles before he is able to reunite with his brother Joshua. Older children will be able to notice different elements of style. The novel is divided into three sections—“Part 1: Heaven,” “Part 2: Hell,” and “Part 3: This Wretched Earth.” These align with specific parts of Samuel’s life. For instance, Part 3 incorporates events after he runs away from the Allen plantation. Throughout the book, Walter also uses a dash between some paragraphs to indicate a brief passage of time. When living on the plantation, Samuel also has flashbacks of times when Joshua got into trouble. A difference is dialect is apparent when Samuel and other slaves use words such as “‘em” and “ain’t” (4). Walter utilizes common similes throughout the novel. For instance, Samuel often compares himself to a rabbit. He also compares other objects to a snake, such as the whip or the letter “s.” In addition to these similes about animals, children will be able to find similes incorporating weather. Both Mrs. Allen and Lizzie’s faces are compared to thunder. Samuel also uses short sentences to confirm what he has been thinking about; he often internally says “Yes.” Repetition is another common device used. For instance, Samuel states, “Everything is still. Everything is quiet” (156). This encourages the reader to slow down and focus on these sentences and their significance. Because of the religious themes, there are also allusions to people in the Bible, such as Moses and Daniel. In order to promote cognitive development, children can predict how Mrs. Allen will react when she finds out her slaves can read. They can also predict whether Samuel will be able to find Joshua after two years of being apart. Because of their similar ages, children can compare Samuel’s relationships with Sicely and Gerald and how they change. They can also summarize the main events in each part of the story, especially in regard to how Samuel’s emotions fluctuate based on the situation. They will be able to evaluate the accuracy of the novel by doing outside research. In terms of social development, older children will be able to observe how slavery affected the lives of many families. Many families were split up. Children should also recognize how slaves were treated as less than human; they should discuss the moral issues related to slavery. They may also be able to identify with the different family structures portrayed in this story. For instance, Samuel and Joshua don’t have parents, and Sicely only has her mother and siblings. Children should be able to see the problem with slavery and draw a connection to current discussions of race and equity. This novel falls into the genre of historical fiction. Walter starts to build a credible plot when Samuel must leave his environment and is forced to go to the Allen plantation, where they grow and pick cotton. Walter also highlights the problems of this time period, such as slavery, lack of food, and hypocritical, Christian slave owners. Children will need to evaluate the historical accuracy of Mrs. Allen’s power over her slaves as well as Gerald’s friendly relationship with the slaves. In terms of the setting, Walter establishes the important distinction between the slave owner’s house and the cabins used by the slaves. The description of the cabins will help children understand the few belongings slaves owned. They will also be able to start to understand how slaves were able to secretly hide at different checkpoints; Hubbard’s wife and daughter were able to hide in a space between the outer and inner wall of his cabin. Throughout the story, the characterization is realistic, particularly in the case of Samuel. Children are able to better understand Samuel because of thoughts and emotions ranging from hope to despair. Walter also incorporates relevant worthwhile themes, including that of search for freedom and friendship. Throughout the story, children will be able to notice consistent element of style. The repetition throughout suggests Samuel’s need to confirm his own feelings and to make note of his surroundings. Furthermore, the similes related to animals and weather will encourage children to brainstorm how humans embody some characteristics of these different topics. The allusions to the Bible reinforce the theme of religion. Some of the slave owners refer to the black man as “nigger,” which was vocabulary used during this time. The point of view allows children to understand the Civil War from the perspective of a boy who was illegally sold into slavery. A story of both struggle and hope, older children will find themselves invested in the lives of Samuel and the other slaves as they seek to gain strength and freedom through education during a time of tumult. (SMM)
Webb, Holly. 2014. The mysteries of Maisie Hitchins: The case of the feathered mask: Book 4. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-544-61993-7. Illustrated by Marion Lindsay.
Thirteen year old Maisie Hitchins lives in Victorian England (1837-1901) with her grandmother who owns and runs a boarding house in London. The house, and it’s many levels, is artfully illustrated in ink on page 6. Roomers occupy the first three floors, and Maisie’s grandmother and the maid, Sally, sleep in the attic while Maisie’s room is in the basement alone. Professor Tobin occupies the first floor and is packing artifacts acquired from his research and travels to give to a museum. Maisie helps her grandmother with the cleaning and dusting, on the first floor. The conflicts propel the story to a pleasant resolution and Maisie solves yet another mystery-- the mystery of the stolen feathered mask from the Amazon. Maisie is a lovable, hard -working, smart, friendly, inquisitive, and cunning thirteen year old, wise beyond her years. Her personality, established in the first book in the series, The case of the stolen sixpence, is consistent in subsequent titles, The case of the vanishing emerald, and The case of the phantom cat. According to the publisher, The case of the secret tunnel is coming out Fall 2016. (DLN)
Whelon, Chuck. 2016. Where’s the princess?: And other fairy tale searches. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 32pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-4633-4.
In Where’s the princess?: And other fairy tale searches, students are invited to explore illustrations depicting scenes from twelve different fairy tales. These scenes include “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Princess and the Pea,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” “The Adventures of Aladdin,” “The Frog Prince,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Pinocchio.” This search-and-find book can serve as a counting book when children count aloud to find different objects, such as seven loaves of bread in “Snow White” or ten candy canes in “Hansel and Gretel.” Most of the fairy tales incorporate counting up to at least five and the repetition of numbers will help children practice their counting skills. This book may also be categorized as a wordless book because the only words are the names of what they need to search for. Similar to other wordless books, the illustrations are detailed, and the lack of text allows children to activate their prior knowledge and interpret the scene before them. As they read, children will be encouraged to retell these fairy tales in their own words. However, those who are unfamiliar with the fairy tales may feel overwhelmed by the visual stimulus of each page and may experience frustration because the illustrations are narrowly focused on only one moment from each fairy tale. These children may fail to understand the plot. At this point, younger children, ages 4-8, may need guidance to move beyond simply searching and finding and into inferring the plot. In “Snow White,” children can activate prior knowledge and observe the expression on the wicked witch’s face; they can infer a person vs. person conflict. In “Hansel and Gretel,” children may relate to the temptation of the candy on the gingerbread house and recognize the greedy expression of the witch; this can lead children to identify another person vs. person conflict. Even without the development of the plot, children can use the illustrations in each scene to make an educated guess about the potential conflict. Furthermore, while this search-and-find book limits the development of these characters, children will have the opportunity to practice their oral language by interpreting what action may precede and follow the moment depicted in the illustration. In “Sleeping Beauty,” children can brainstorm reasons why the prince is the only person awake in the picture, and they can predict how he might try to get everyone to wake up. In “The Little Mermaid,” children can have more agency in what they talk about because this scene has not identified an antagonist. In general, children cannot explicitly trace the development of these characters because of the limited information available in this find-and-search book, but they can capitalize on the opportunity to imagine and describe what the character development could look like. For each fairy tale, the setting sets the mood. These settings vary from nature, as in “Little Red Riding Hood,” to cities and palaces, as in “Sleeping Beauty,” and to the home or workplace, as in “Pinocchio.” In each case, the scene elicits a mood of confusion and may make children feel overwhelmed. They may have this response as a result of the number of details included in the text. For instance, in “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” children may try to identify the different people and objects as fast as they can, thereby disregarding the distinguishing characteristics of the people in the crowd. This text encourages children to pay attention to specific details, which may prompt them to ignore other details and lose sight of the bigger picture; they might revert back to simply finding-and-searching instead of contemplating the key elements of the fairy tale. On the other hand, observant readers will notice small details, such as how Geppetto’s crowded shop in “Pinocchio” incorporates characters from all the previous fairy tales. They will also recognize recurring themes of good vs. evil and magic. This is particularly evident when children are encouraged to look for a green fairy in every picture. This establishes a connection among the fairy tales and reinforces the theme of magic. In order to promote cognitive development, children will observe and identify the different characters or objects on the outer edges of each scene. They can also compare the different physical characteristics of the princesses, the variety of environments they occupy, and the people they interact with. For instance, “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Hansel and Gretel,” all include either a wicked witch or fairy; this will alter and increase the tension in these scenes. For those unfamiliar with the fairy tale, they can hypothesize what the main character will do next, looking for clues in the text. For those familiar with the fairy tale, they can use each scene as a starting point for summarizing certain parts, or retelling in their own words. In terms of social development, this think-and-search book may incite children to expand their imaginations. As the central focus of the book, the illustrations influence children’s overall perception of the fairy tales. All of the illustrations incorporate vertical lines, such as the trees in “Little Red Riding Hood” or the pillars of the buildings found in “Cinderella.” This suggests stability and security. However, at the same time, this sense of security is countered by the curved lines of the path near Little Red Riding Hood and the banister in “Cinderella.” In each case, this elicits a sense of fluidity and upcoming changes. The curved path alludes to Little Red Riding Hood’s journey and upcoming encounter with the wolf; on the other hand, the curved banister reminds children of the unpredictability of life, which parallels Cinderella surprising exit from the ball and her later role as a princess. In other scenes, there are diagonal lines, suggesting danger and destruction. This is an appropriate message for the slightly diagonal line of the chimney in “Hansel and Gretel” and the giant’s club in “Jack and the Beanstalk” as he falls to the ground; in these scenes, the characters face the antagonists of the fairy tales. Throughout, the softer, delicate lines parallel the mood of feeling overwhelmed as children’s eyes are not drawn to particular objects; they must diligently search and find the objects within the scene. The organic shapes throughout the book focus children’s attention on the different connotations between the free-form shapes and the geometric shapes. In “The Little Mermaid,” the free-form shapes of the jelly fish, squid, and the willow tree convey receptivity and the possibly of imagination at a time when children may struggle to describe what important action is taking place. When associated with nature, these shapes allow children to think beyond what they may know about the fairy tale. Furthermore, the free-form shapes of the people highlight confusion and a sense of unpredictability. Geometric shapes are also prominently featured throughout the scenes depicting life in the home or the city. For instance, the rectangular picture frames in “The Princess and the Pea” reinforce stability, even as the crowd conveys confusion; this geometric shape ensures an impending resolution. In “Pinocchio,” the rectangular shape of the shelves and the window provide visual stability for children; they provide a focal point in an otherwise cluttered, chaotic environment. This uniformity is also established in other scenes; the large rectangular frames contain the detail-packed illustrations and leave space on the outer edges for individual illustrations of what the child should find within the rectangular frame. Geometric shapes can also reveal a hidden truth. In “Snow White,” horizontal and vertical lines meet to create a doorway suggesting stability, but this message is challenged by the inclusion of the wicked witch looking through the door; this image suggests a disruption of the stability. Similarly, the triangle created by the different parts of the roof in “Hansel and Gretel” elicits security; however, the witch is the focal point within the triangle, revealing this stability hides the witch’s true intent of luring them in and trying to eat them. Despite all of the action drawing children’s eyes, each scene has a prominent color scheme. In “Little Red Riding Hood,” the combination of green and brown convey a subdued mood and emphasizes a connection to nature, although children can infer the Big Bad Wolf will disrupt this mood. The red color of Little Red Riding Hood’s cloak gives children an impression of her friendliness and high energy; red is also present in the scene with “Snow White” as a way to highlight her positive interactions with the seven dwarves. In “Pinocchio,” red is incorporated in many of Geppetto’s toys. This indicates the work put into making these, as well as the anticipated energy of the children who will use them. In the castle scenes, the color gold stands out and reflects the wealth present in this society. It conveys a dignified, elegant mood. Overall, the scenes are packed with details, leaving little room for blank spaces or showing the source of light from the sun. In “The Princess and the Pea,” the lit candles reinforce the idea of the princess struggling to sleep during the night. Furthermore, a man is starting to snuff the candles out, an indication of the approach of morning. Throughout, texture is created by adding small lines to an object, such as the trees, the shingles on the houses, the folds of women’s dresses. The extra lines are more noticeable on the larger objects and the objects children are encouraged to identify in each picture. The fairy tales exemplified in this think-and-search book also exhibit characteristics of folk tales. Even without a text or plot, children can perceive the conflict of good versus evil, such as in “Snow White” when a witch plots against the tender-hearted, cheerful Snow White. Folk tales also have symbolic and flat characters instead of being well-developed; this applies to this book because it covers twelve different fairy tales and cannot devote the time for creating a more in-depth analysis of the character. The illustrations also reveal adherence to motif commonly found in folk tales. Supernatural adversaries and helpers play a significant role in “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “The Adventures of Aladdin,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk;” these are often in the form of witches. It also suggests the motif of extraordinary animals, primarily in “The Frog Prince” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” (SMM)
Willems, Mo. 2015. The story of Diva and Flea. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 80 pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-148472284-8. Illustrated by Tony Diterlizzi.
In The story of Diva and Flea, children are invited to explore Paris, France with two unlikely friends—Diva and Flea. Flea is a black cat who explores the city, and Diva is a small, white dog who monitors the courtyard near her owner’s apartment. Flea first meets Diva when he walks by the courtyard and she yelps and runs away after seeing him. Children, ages 6-8, will recognize the initial character vs. character conflict as Flea laughs at Diva for running away when she gets scared. However, this conflict is quickly resolved after Diva confronts Flea for his behavior and Flea offers a dead mouse as a peace offering. Both animals face other conflicts as well. Diva experiences a character vs. self conflict as she expresses her fear of leaving the courtyard and being trampled by people’s feet; this fear limits her contact with the outside world. While it is implied Diva believes this is a character vs. society conflict, Flea helps her realize people aren’t trying to step on her, and she can venture out into the world with him. On the other hand, Diva provides a solution for Flea’s character vs. society conflict. As a homeless cat, Flea often visits different stores to get scraps of food but people always try to hit him with a broom. Diva invites Flea into her apartment to see how her owner Eva only uses a broom for sweeping. Told from the omniscient third person point of view, children can simultaneously explore the development of Diva and Flea. They can observe Diva’s change from a timid dog to a brave dog willing to step outside her comfort zone and experience the rest of the world. Flea also exhibits a noticeable shift as he adjusts to living in a real home for the first time. This book evokes setting as both mood and antagonist. For Diva, the streets beyond the courtyard are a dangerous place where she could get trampled. While Flea has a different view on the outside world, the setting of the home initially serves as an antagonist because he associates it with people who try to hit him with their brooms. However, the setting conveys a more positive mood after Diva and Flea overcome their fears. Throughout this story, children will be able to relate to themes, such as friendship and the fear of the unknown, as Diva and Flea step out of their comfort zones and gradually adapt to new situations. Younger children may initially be confused by the inclusion of French words, such as “gardienne” and “flâneur;” they may also struggle with pronunciation. However, the author clarifies and repeats the definitions of these words throughout the story. Children may also pause when they see the words “Breck-Fest” and “Cough-Fee;” younger children may not recognize these as incorrect spellings because they expect a story to be error free. At the same time, this word play is meant to be humorous, which is one characteristic of picture storybooks. Despite this word choice, the story has a straightforward style. In order to promote cognitive development, children can compare the behavior of Diva and Flea, particularly their fears and how they overcome them. Because there are two characters of equal importance, children can summarize each animal’s change. In terms of social development, children can observe how Diva expresses her feelings to Flea when she doesn’t like how he laughs at her; she stands up against a potential bully. They can also learn from Flea’s decision to apologize to Diva and become friends with her. Children will be encouraged to self-regulate; some fears may not be rational and can be overcome with the help of a friend. The illustrations also influence children’s perception of the book. The vertical and horizontal lines of the building Diva lives in, 11 avenue Le Play, parallels the security she feels while within the courtyard. This contrasts the bold, curved lines found in the areas where Flea explores, such as the subway; these lines suggest unpredictability and adventure. Furthermore, while the door frames of the buildings suggest stability, the diagonal line created by the broom indicates danger for Flea. The bold lines of the courtyard gate emphasize the difference between Diva’s world and the outside world. Throughout the story, many lines intersect to form geometric shapes. For instance, the rectangular bricks of the courtyard suggest the stability and protection Diva feels within these boundaries. However, the triangle created by the Eiffel Tower also establishes a sense of stability as Diva struggles to adjust to the outside world. The use of color reflects the personality of each animal. Diva, the dog, wears a red bow, which contrasts her white fur. Red is associated with high energy, and children will observe how Diva often runs away and yelps, an expression of her liveliness. On the other hand, Flea is a black cat with green eyes; these colors convey a more subdued mood and a connection to nature, which parallels his leisurely exploration of Paris. The contrast between white and black also reveals the differences in personality between the two animals. Because most of the setting has a gray color, children’s eyes will pick out the dog and the cat, as well as the green bushes, which convey tranquility. Furthermore, the lack of yellow light keeps children more focused on the interactions between Diva and Flea. The addition of lines on Diva’s fur and the buildings contributes texture, as does the darker shade of watercolor on the street and the trees; this adds visual depth to the story. In this picture storybook, the illustrations guide children’s visualizations of the characters, but they don’t overshadow the story line; instead, they complement each other. This story takes children into an imaginative world as they view Paris through the eyes of a dog and a cat. The plot is also clearly developed with a focus primarily on Diva and Flea. Each of these characters also experience fears relatable to children; they just want to feel protected and welcomed into a home. Furthermore, these animals are given the ability to talk and exhibit human emotions. A story of overcoming fears and meeting new friends, children will find themselves invested in the adventures and discoveries of these two different animals. (SMM)
Willems, Mo. 2015. ¡Un tipo grande se llevó mi pelota!. Disney Book Group (Hyperion Books for Children). 64pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4847-2285-5. (2013).
Una día, cerdito encontró una pelota grande, pero alguien grande llevó su pelota. Geraldo va a ayudar porque el está grande. Pero Geraldo Y cerdito tenían miedo de la persona con la pelota. Aunque, la persona con la pelota está triste porque muchas personas tiene miedo de alguien ten grande. Este libro es en español, y es un libro para mostrar las niñas como ser inclusivo. (COM)
One day, Piggie finds a big ball, but somebody bigger took it. Geraldo is going to help because he is big, too! But Geraldo AND Piggie are both very scared of the person who took the ball. However, the person with the ball is sad because so many people are scared of somebody so big! This book is all in Spanish, and does a great job showing kids how to be inclusive. (COM)
Wolk, Lauren. 2016. Wolf Hollow. Penguin Random House LLC (Dutton Children’s Books). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-101-99482-5.
Set in 1943 in rural Pennsylvania, the main character, Annabelle, experiences life-changing events, challenging her to stand up to a bully and defend a WWI veteran who is the victim of harassment by Betty, a new, vicious, "incorrigible" (p.5), girl in town. The first line in the Prologue will capture readers’ attention, “The year I (Annabelle) turned twelve, I learned how to lie.” (p. 1). The book certainly can be read silently, but given the themes of bullying, harassment, victimization, war, isolation, difference, the story is ideal as a read-aloud. Children and adults can read this to each other and discuss the consequences of the actions of the characters central to this poignant coming-of-age story. (DLN)
Wylie, Paul. 2016. Blood on the Marias: The Baker Massacre. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman). 336pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5157-1.
In Blood on the Marias: The Baker massacre, readers are invited to learn the background information about a relatively unknown massacre. They will discover the history of the relationship between white people and the Piegan Native Americans in Montana Territory. Even though this is an informational book, readers, ages 7-18+, will be able to identify recurring conflicts. There is a person vs. nature conflict as the Piegans, members of the Blackfeet Confederacy, must hunt and kill buffalo in order to survive. There is a person vs. person conflict when some of the Native Americans steal guns from the white men with Lewis. As a result of this, Joseph Fields chased after the Piegan, took back his gun, and stabbed him in the heart. Lewis had to stop Joseph and Reuben Fields from killing more Piegans. However, there is another person vs. person conflict when Lewis instructs his men to shoot at the Piegans who are driving their horses away; they killed a total of two Native American villagers in July 1806. This expedition party then stole the Piegan horses, bows and arrows, and meat as they made their escape. There are also person vs. person conflicts among the tribes as the Piegans use lances, stones, arrows, and guns against the Snake Indians. There is a person vs. person conflict as the Hudson’s Bay Company tries to trade with the Indians who are more interested in trading with the Frenchmen. Later, there is more person vs. person conflict as fur traders from St. Louis are robbed by the Teton Sioux as they go up the Missouri River. The Spanish also sent John Evans who was able to drive the English traders from the territory and establish himself (20). There is a person vs. person conflict when the Blackfeet Indians stalk and kill the beaver trappers who are on an expedition with Manuel Lisa. George Drouillard, who was part of this group at an earlier time, was killed in a different area; according to Thomas James, “his head was cut off, his entrails torn out, and his body hacked to pieces” (22). There are person vs. person conflicts as different trading companies try to establish themselves. This conflict was resolved when the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company joined under the Hudson’s Bay Company name. There is a person vs. society conflict as Johnson v. McIntosh only gives the Piegan a right of occupancy of land and not full national sovereignty. Another person vs. society conflict is when the government enacts the Indian Removal Act in 1830. In 1831, the Piegans burned down Fort Piegan, which was established by the American Fur Company. The white men responded to this by building a bigger Fort McKenzie and hosting a party with “200 gallons of specially concocted whiskey” for the Piegans(33). For the fur traders, there is a person vs. society when the government outlaws alcohol; they could no longer use it in their interactions with the Indians. There is a form of person vs. nature conflict as smallpox and diphtheria spread among the Blackfeet and kill about two-thirds of the populations. Francis Chardon, a violent man, killed Blackfeet who arrived at Fort McKenzie. Intertribal conflicts were also common, which seemed to make it impossible to build a railroad. There are also person vs. person conflicts within the trading companies, such as when Malcolm Clarke tries to kill Alexander Harvey. Similarly, Thomas Francis Meagher and Lyman E. Munson disrespected each other, especially in political views (73); they were both going to the treaty council. There is a person vs. person when the fur traders sign a treaty, but the Piegans or Blackfeet Confederacy are not present; they would not likely respect the boundaries established during this meeting. A potential person vs. person conflict is avoided when the priests decide to establish their mission in a place other than important buffalo ground. A person vs. person conflict occurs when the Blackfeet Confederacy steals the white men’s horses; this leads to a cycle of revenge and murder between the two groups. Almost immediately after a treaty is signed in 1865, the tribes begin to fight among themselves again. There is a person vs. society conflict as Meagher confronts the government’s use of gifts to bribe the Piegan to sign a treaty they won’t uphold. There is further person vs. person conflict when Piegans presumably kill some soldiers at Camp Cooke. Person vs. person conflict continues along the Bozeman Trail as Piegans kill travelers or soldiers with tomahawks and scalping knives. John Bozeman was presumably killed by Piegans. The person vs. person conflict between Sherman and Meagher continues as Sherman refuses to send cavalry to help Meagher. There is a person vs. person conflict when the War Department wants to fight against the Indians, and the Interior Department wants to place them safely on reservations. There is a person vs. person conflict when Governor Smith moves the army into the position to fight, even though he knows the government wants to remain peaceful. There are still conflicts between Piegan and white people despite the presence of troops. In an attempt to reduce these conflicts, General Sherman had the Piegan sign a treaty and then closed the forts. There is a person vs. person conflict as W.J. Cullen struggles to make a treaty with the Blackfeet Confederacy in the Montana Territory; they don’t trust him. There is another person vs. person conflict when Mountain Chief, a Blackfeet Native, is struck and shot at for unjustifiable reasons. In general, the white people still attack the Piegans despite the reservation boundaries. There is a person vs. person conflict as Philip Sheridan plans to attack the Piegans during the winter when they are helpless; this is intended as a way to punish them for murdering white people. There is a person vs. person conflict when Sully finds it hard to communicate with the Piegans because they are too drunk; still, they do agree to some of Sully’s requests, such as bringing back the stock. In another person vs. person conflict, Baker threatens to shoot Kipp if he doesn’t continue leading them on the trail; this is even after Kipp tells Baker they are going to the wrong camp. Still, along the way, the soldiers capture any Indians they see and ignore the guide’s knowledge of the new location of Mountain Chief’s camp. All of these conflicts build up to the Baker Massacre when the soldiers shot the Native Americans, starting with their chief, Heavy Runner. All of the white men had been convinced they must exterminate everyone in the camp. They had the camp surrounded, and no one was able to escape. The Piegans, who were sick with smallpox and were afraid, did not fight back; all of the men were away hunting buffalo. This gave the soldiers confidence to continue shooting them or kill them with an axe. As another person vs. person conflict, the soldiers burn everything they don’t want; they do the same when they finally find Mountain Chief’s deserted camp. They do spare some sick, wounded women and children at Heavy Runner’s village. This massacre should’ve been prohibited because de Trobriand had told Baker to ignore the Piegan; they were friendly people. There is a person vs. nature conflict when Spear Woman and her family, who survived the attack on Heavy Runner’s village, are starving as they follow the soldiers and hope to find scraps of food. The total number of people killed was 173. De Trobriand tried to justify this win by placing the blame on the victims. There is a person vs. society conflict when the government begins investigating and hearing multiple sides of what happened at the massacre, especially in regard to the women and children at the camp. Sherman and Sheridan try to put the blame back on the Interior Department. Baker was not severely punished for his role in leading this massacre. This book includes recurring person vs. person conflicts. Told from the third person point of view, children will be able to see how different people change over time, especially in response to the looming presence of war. Meriwether Lewis becomes more motivated in the journey when he thinks the Indians will follow and prevent them from making it to Missouri. He also experiences anxiety as he considers the possibility of an upcoming fight to the death with the Piegans. The Piegans also developed after white men introduced them to horses and weapons. The horses helped them move faster across the plains to follow the buffalo herds. They also became “formidable warriors” once they had horses and guns (17). However, their views toward the traders shifted when the American fur traders invaded. Eventually, the Indian chiefs told Kenneth McKenzie they would only protect and treat the traders well but not the trappers. Kenneth McKenzie, a Canadian who worked for the American Fur Company, moved up in the ranks of the American Fur Trade Company. However, this career went downhill after he was suspended for having an illegal still. He shifted from the “King of the Missouri” to a farmer. As a whole, the people in government changed their minds about Piegans; they became less sympathetic when they pressured tribal leaders to sign removal treaties. Another change in the Indians is when they were converted to Catholicism (42). Green Clay Smith shows development as he showed his contradictory nature; he was frequently intoxicated and gambled away government funds but later was a Baptist minister and presidential candidate. After all of his work as acting governor in Montana and acting Indian superintendent, Meagher was physically ill, financially troubled, and wanted to move on to a better life. He also only wanted to cavalry to do patrols instead of battling the Indians. Ely Parker, an Piegan man, served on Ulysses S. Grant’s staff, but he eventually gained a larger role as Grant asked him for advice; Parker promoted a message of peace without military action. George Wright, the Blackfeet agent, accused Governor Smith of gambling and then later tried to retreat this claim by saying he had been misinformed. He also had his own problems to deal with because he used annuity goods to pay off his debt. Peace Commissioner Cullen’s role changes when must also act as law enforcement against those who harmed Mountain Chief. In a broader scope, the residents of this territory changed as they became more fearful for their lives after the multiple murders occurring frequently. Major Eugene Mortimer Baker went through a significant change. Initially, he was peaceful toward the Indians he met and even asked for help for the Indians. After the Civil War, he continued to rise in the ranks and become less compassionate; he led an attack on a village of Indians in 1867. Throughout this book, the setting serves as mood, antagonist, and historical background. The Piegans live near the foot of the Rocky Mountains (15). The Piegans sought shelter in the river valleys of the Marias River during the winter months. The setting sets a threatening mood when William Henry Ashley sends men into the Piegan country to trap, which is directly in competition with the Blackfeet. The setting serves as a mood of hopelessness when the mud and dead tree trunks along the Marias River made it difficult for traders to go into Piegan hunting lands. The setting sets a mood of fear and distrust when the traders were barricaded during trading; “trade exchanges were made through narrow wooden grates in the walls of the log fort” (33). The setting sets a mood of apprehension the original steam vessels could not travel in the Missouri’s shallow channels or fight against the strong current; many ships were grounded before more powerful steam engines were added. There is a foreboding mood when John Jacobs scouted the Bozeman Trail which went through the traditional hunting grounds of the Shoshone, Arapaho, and Lakota tribes; this posed danger for anyone who wanted to travel. The setting establishes a mood of fear as civilians fear for their lives; they believed the government was going to protect them. The setting serves as antagonist when there is a shortage of wood and the white men cannot maintain Fort Benton. The new location wasn’t any better because it could only be accessed during high water. The setting also serves as an antagonist when Meagher’s party is stranded in the snow without food. It is also an antagonist when Shirley C. Ashby and Anderson almost freeze to death; this weather also hindered Baker’s cavalry. The setting, including a river, becomes an antagonist as Baker’s cavalry had to travel during the night; one man broke his leg along the way. The setting serves as historical background because children are able to learn about the concerns and conflicts of the 19th century. As they read, children can identify several themes in this informational book. They will discover how revenge creates a perpetual cycle of grief and murder; the Indians and white men kept killing each other. Another subtle, yet important theme is to make decisions when you are in the proper mindset; Wylie points out the problems of inebriated Indians and generals. Although this book has a lot of information, children will be engaged by different elements of style throughout the book. There is evidence of how the English language has changed, such as when Lewis writes “soar” instead of “sore.” The Piegans refer to the horses as “elk dogs” (16). Wylie also includes a definition of bourgeois in parentheses, “the name given to the head trader” (26); this is useful information for children who are working on building their vocabulary. In another instance, he states, “Mitchell (as superintendent of Indian Affairs for the area) and Fitzpatrick (as Indian agent for some of the western Indian tribes) were there officially as commissioners” (52). This is important information for the reader to know. Wylie has unique descriptions of some minor characters in this informational book, such as when he calls Jemmy Jock Bird “a practitioner of deception” (35). There are also short sentences among the longer, complex ones. For instance, Wylie states, “But they did not leave” (47). Another short sentence is “That did not happen” (82); this makes the reader understand how this idea of creating a separate agency for the Gros Ventres and the Crows was quickly rejected. This is highlights how Clarke and his accomplices defied the demands of the grand jury. With the statement “Meagher is dead” (97), Wylie emphasizes the unexpectedness of his death. One of the most important lines of the book is also short: “Tell Baker to strike them hard” (169). At the beginning of each chapter, Wylie includes a quote from a prominent person’s diary; this sets the stage for the rest of the chapter. Because there are a lot of people involved in this situation, Wylie provides brief reminders to the reader, such as “Mitchell, who had built Fort McKenzie in 1832 and staged the Fort Laramie Treaty in 1851, had his own view of the friendliness of the Piegans toward whites” (57). There is unique word choice when Wylie talks about Malcolm Clarke’s “spotty past” (73); children will be able to use the context to understand this word. There is a simile when William Tecumseh Sherman threatens Meagher, stating “I will shoot you like a dog” (77); this conveys an implicit message of not recognizing Meagher’s humanity. Wylie incorporates moments of foreshadowing, such as “An officer who would perpetuate acts of violence would come to Montana in a little over a year: Major Eugene M. Baker” (88) and “In the end it would be Mountain Chief’s village that was the target of members of the 2nd Cavalry as they prepared to attack a band that they believed to be his on the morning of January 23, 1870” (123). Children will already know what happens because this massacre was briefly introduced at the beginning of the book. There are also moments when the tone is more conversational, such as when Wylie states, “A few years after the signing of the 1868 treaty (whenever, wherever, and possibly even with whomever it was done) Henry Kennerly, a fur trader of Fort Benton, had an interesting observation” (117). The alliteration of the phrase in the parentheses emphasizes the uncertainty related to this exchange. There is repetition when General Sherman states, “I regard the clamor in Montana as identically the same as occurred two years ago, the same Indians the same men and the same stories” (150). The repetition of “same” emphasizes how Sherman is discouraging the idea of forming a militia. In order to promote cognitive development, children can read the caption of the fur trade map on page 10 and hypothesize what happened in Lewis’s subsequent encounters with the Piegans. They can also hypothesize what could happen to Joseph Kipp after Wylie states, “Twenty-one years later his life would be inextricably bound to the destiny of the Piegan Indians” (40). They can also hypothesize what will happen when Wylies states, “But George Wright would not have to deal with Meagher much longer that year” (83); the previous statement also talked about Meagher’s “untimely death.” Children will be able to criticize and evaluate the actions of the government when they did not hold a trial to find the Indians guilty of murdering Clarke; they were just indicted. Children can compare standards of marriage then and now as they read about several white men having multiple Indian wives, such as Joe Cobell. They can compare the behavior of different generals. They will also be able to observe how things don’t always go according to plan; there may be obstacles. This was true for Baker’s calvary when they were unable to attack the Indians on the specified day. They will observe the tense relationships among the white men and the Indians when Joe Kipp realizes the Blood Indians deceived him about the location of Mountain Chief’s camp. After reading the book, children should be able to summarize the key events leading up to and after this massacre. In order to promote social development, children must critically examine the relationship between the white people and Indians. For instance, it is problematic when Culbertson states, “‘By God we can make treaties without Indians’” (117). In another instance, Wylie states, “As he entered adult life, Jerry Potts did not choose good companions.” (160) This will encourage children to consider their own friends, especially at a time when they are discovering their identity. Children will also observe a lack of communication and agreement, such as when Sully recommended punishing the leaders of the tribe whereas the army was planning the annihilation of the tribe. Children will be able to regulate their behavior as they consider how the some of the Piegans helped Spear Woman and her family. They will regulate their behavior when they see how the white men were celebrating their success; this brutal massacre is not something to be proud of. They can also analyze the discrepancies within in newspaper, such as the number of Indians killed. This photographs and maps throughout the book can help children visualize the different people in the book. The thin, horizontal lines on the buildings suggest stability and safety for the soldiers. The thin, diagonal lines of the mountains suggest both the Indians and the white men are not as safe as they initially believed. The jagged line on the map indicates the unpredictability of traveling across this territory. The organic shapes of the men draw the reader’s attention to these key figures rather than the landscape or the action. Most of these photographs do not include geometric shapes. In one illustration, a tipi forms a triangle, which suggests stability; however, this is a false stability as soldiers can easily barge in and kill them. In terms of color, these are in black and white; this reflects both the type of photographs available at this time as well as conveys a serious mood. These black-and-white photographs do not incorporate light. In the illustrations, extra lines and shading on the ground and the houses indicate texture in the landscape. This book may be classified as an informational book. In terms of accuracy and authenticity, Wylie is a retired attorney and an independent researcher and writer. He has written a book on Thomas Francis Meagher, and he also lives in Bozeman, Montana. For this book, he read books written by James Welch, a Blackfeet tribal member, and read Professor Stan Gibson’s work in the Glenbow Archives. Wylie includes a brief description of the people he introduces; this will help children gain further understanding of the topic. Wylie also confirms his statements by often providing information from newspapers at this time, including the Virginia City Tri-Weekly Post and the Montana Post. At the same time, he notes when these stories were wrong. Wylie addresses the inaccuracies of Green Clay Smith’s report; “It was definitely not true that Meagher had called in all of them in Smith’s absence. In fact, Smith himself had called in many, perhaps even a majority, of the troops in the field” (106). Wylie also notes further background information. He states, “But [Grant’s] plan involved a huge contradiction when he said that for the ‘superintendents and Indian agents not on the reservations, officers of the army’ had been selected” (125). This is probably not something Grant mentioned in his speech; he focused more on the Quakers being responsible for the reservations in the East. Wylie clarifies rumors, such as when he points of the permit for traveling through the Blackfoot country was written by General Sully and not Ely Parker (158). Wylie also notes a potential inaccuracy when he states, “A man named Peter Gaynor (or maybe the newspapers just used that name, because his identity is uncertain) said...” (176); this parenthetical note helps children understand how they shouldn’t believe everything they read. Wylie questions the newspaper reports by discussing the varying reports in who was and wasn’t murdered; they also inaccurately reported the number of people who died. In terms of content and perspective, Wylie wants to inform children about an unknown part of history. Wylie included direct quotations from Meriwether Lewis’s journal; this shows the reader a viewpoint other than the author’s. At the same time, Wylie intervenes when he states, “In reality Lewis would have preferred not to see the Indians at all and certainly had not ‘come in search of them’” (11). Wylie is able to point out a moment when Lewis lied to the Indians. Wylie also incorporates the viewpoint of Darrell Robes Kipp, director of the Piegan Institute Browning. Kipp notes how one of the Indians who was killed by Lewis or the Fields brothers was only thirteen years old, and he wasn’t being a criminal when he was trying to steal the horses; he was displaying courage, honor, and coming-of-age. This shows how Indians have different viewpoints on criminal acts. This may be even more complicated because the boys had gambled with the white men and were only taking what they had won. Wylie includes information from the letters of Thomas Forsyth; he adds insight on the history of fur trading. Wylie also notes how some of the white men were confused about the subtribes of Indians and their specific cultural practices; this confusion is something the reader will likely identity with. David Dawson Mitchell also provides a different point of view when he notes how the Blackfoot Indians are considered savages but they were only protecting their territory; other civilized people would probably act in the same way. Wylie also includes the perspective of George Wright, who felt it was his duty to protect the Indians. There is another important perspective when Wylie includes a more accurate account of Clarke’s personality from his sister, Charlotte Ouisconsin Clark Van Cleve. Children receive further insight when they consider Martha Plassmann’s opinion of the men surviving the cold because they were so intoxicated. Some children may struggle to follow all of the information presented, but the moments of conversational tone will help them stay focused. In terms of organization, this book is split up into twelve chapters, starting well before the Baker Massacre when Lewis and Clark met the Piegans. It also includes clear, easy to use reference aids, including a table of contents, index, bibliography, and notes. In terms of illustrations, they help children see who Wylie is talking about. There are also captions with brief descriptions of the person and what he or she did. This book encourages students to consider events in our recent history as well as the impact of nature on humans; an even larger focus is how people interact with each other. A book of the events leading up to, during, and after the Baker Massacre, children will find themselves in a position to critically analyze the actions of both the Indians and white men and to prevent an atrocity like this from occurring again. (SMM)
Yoo, Paula. 2016. Lily’s new home. Lee & Low Books. 32pp. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-258-5. Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez.
As part of the Dive into reading! series, readers moving into chapter books will appreciate the experiences of Lily as she adjusts to a new home in a city versus a house in a rural area. Lily meets many new friends from very different backgrounds and finds a special connection with a boy reading a book on the apartment steps. Lily loves reading and is happy when she finds a familiar building – the public library. Engaging questions at the end of the book will challenge readers, ages 4 – 8, to connect to the story in multiple ways. (DLN)
Yoo, Paula. 2016. Want to play. Lee & Low Books. 32pp. $5.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-259-2. Illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez.
As another story in the Dive into reading! series, readers ages 4 – 8 adding chapter books to their collections, will appreciate the predictable plot and simple dialogues with high frequency familiar words. Lily and her friend Pablo, have many interesting diverse friends and readers will connect with the personalities of the delightful characters with bubbly personalities. The story will not only introduce young readers to the wide world of possibilities they live in, but also the incredible abilities of their own imagination. (DLN)
Young, Jessica. 2015. Haggis and Tank unleashed: All paws on deck. Scholastic Inc (Branches). 80pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-81886 -5. Illustrated by James Burks.
As a Branches imprint of Scholastic, the book appeals to early readers with appealing text features, colorful illustrations on every page, large fonts, fast-paced plots, and delightful characters. Readers, grades K – 2, will enjoy the pirate adventures of Haggis and Tank in this first book of a series appealing to youngsters looking for intensive action with a foe transforming to a friend who saves the pirates, Haggis and Tank. Children learn to never judge someone too quickly. (DLN)
Zink, Michelle. 2016. A walk in the sun. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 328pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243446-3.
This novel is billed as “Bridges of Madison County for teens” - a YA contemporary romance with a rural setting. Rose, still grieving her mother's recent death, meets Bodhi, a hired hand for Rose's family's ranch. After a standoffish start, the two teens form a friendship, which slowly turns into romance. The story is slow-moving, but the characters are developed and the romance feels convincing. Teen readers looking for a gentle romance story with characters who are dealing with grief should give this one a try. (MC)