Significant Others I: (Professional Reviews)

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Zeltser, David. 2014. Lug: Dawn of the Ice Age. Egmont USA. 192pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60-684513-4. Illustrated by Jan Gerardi.

Main character Lug is a cave-boy lover, not a cave-boy fighter. Lug’s rite of pre-historic passage is to acquire a Big Beast to compete and win the Headstone match—a match that will earn Lug the clan’s Big Man title. When confronted with a big beast jungle llama, Lug marvels at, rather than tames the beast. Long story short, Lug is head butted by the llama, gets exiled for his failure, and finds himself alone in a lonely jungle. Lug reveals in his solitude until his quirky, weird-looking clanmate Stony shows up. Eventually the long lost and presumed dead Crazy Crag joins forces with Lug and Stony. Lug probably would have been happy just painting pictures on all the cave walls in the jungle, but he finds himself making peace with a warring rival, building fires, saving a damsel and a wooly mammoth in distress, preventing an ice age, and fending off a pride of saber-toothed tigers. A bunch of Neanderthal-speaking prehistoric jargon and painting caveman stories of Macrauchenia and Boar Riders while trying to save an ice age—this glacial epoch pre-historical fiction adventure is a great tale. Read a chapter a day out loud to middle-grade students. When finished reading the whole book, the whole class can watch the movie “The Croods.” Lots of caveman learning can happen between the two sources.  Highly recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

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Zeltser, David. 2016. Lug: Blast from the North. Lerner Publishing Group (CarolRhoda Books). 160pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-51-240641-2.

Lug, the artist and cave-dwelling hero from the first book must once again club out his cave-painting desires to save his clan. This time a giant glacier is looking to steamroll the Macrauehenia and Boar Rider villages. Lug joins his buddies Echo, Woolly, and Stoney and set out to save the prehistoric day. Defrosting a white, ice-covered Blast leads to betrayal which throws an ice chunk in their plans. Once thrown in a dungeon, the glacier’s full-speed-ahead and smooth sailing nature is unveiled. Lug must now figure out how to save his own clan, but other clans and their livestock as well. In order to succeed Lug will need to change the climate and overthrow both old and new enemies. Fans of the first Lug book will want to read this second Lug book. Teachers will definitely be able to find themes of perseverance, loyalty, and determination in the book—all good lessons to teach. Recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

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Charman, Katrina. 2017. The Last Firehawk: The Ember Stone. Scholastic, Inc. (Branches). 96pp.  $4.99. ISBN 978-1-33-812213-8. Illustrated by Jeremy Norton.

The evil vulture, Thorn, brings darkness to the beautiful Valor Wood in the land of Perodia. Main characters Tag, a small barn owl, and Skyla, a quirky squirrel, chase each other beyond the safe zone into the havoc of the Howling Caves. Trouble follows. Tag and Skyla now find themselves circled by orange-eyes enemies.  A last ditch effort to save themselves then rocking, rolling, thumping, and bumping—taking a mysterious golden egg with them. Once they have crash landed, the egg hatches, bringing the brilliant light of a baby Firehawk with it. Could this baby hawk and its light be the very thing needed to bring light to the places where the evil Thorn visits? Illustrated, engaging, and magical—young readers will enjoy this book. Teachers will love the included Supplemental Questions and Activities. Recommended. Grades K-3. (ADA)                                               

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Charman, Katrina. 2017. The Last Firehawk: The Crystal Caverns. Scholastic, Inc. (Branches).  96pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-1-33-812251-0. Illustrated by Jeremy Norton.

The Darkness that follows the treacherous vulture, Thorn, still envelops the Land of Perodia, but now it’s spreading to other lands. Barn owl Tag, girl squirrel Skyla, and baby firehawk Blaze set out to the Crystal Caverns to find another piece of the omnipotent Ember Stone. To reach their destination, the trio survive a blizzard, outwit the dreaded Jagged Mountains, and trust a group of unfamiliars who calls themselves seals. Their hardships don’t end there, however. A piece of the ember stone is rumored to be deeply buried in an ice cave. Ignoring unforeseen hazards, the threesome dive into the cave. They locate another piece of the precious ember stone, but dangerous ice enclosures and deadly leopard spies threaten the acquisition of the stone. Perodia’s future is threatened. Plenty of illustrations, easy-to-read text, and an engaging plot will attract young readers. Questions and Activities to help teachers assess student reading comprehension are included. Recommended. Grades K-3. (ADA) 

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Stiefvater, Maggie. 2017. All the Crooked Saints. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 320pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-54-593080-2.

There comes a time when the person you became meets the person you have actually become.  For many generations, the Soria family has worked miracle upon miracle. But a new, current generation of Soria emerges—the millennials, perhaps? The book focuses on the Soria cousins of Bicho Raro, Colorado, several pilgrims, and a couple of interlopers. The cousins: the driver Joaquin has a knack with the airwaves, the intelligent Beatriz is without feelings, and the intensely tenacious Daniel can work miracles. The pilgrims: the cook Antonia; the furry Theldon Bunch; the snake-corded twins, Robbie and Betsie; and the priest, Padre Jimenez. The Interlopers: the large, yet small Tony, and the extremely determined Pete. The plot: when the omnipotent Daniel tries to avoid his destiny, he goes desert bound in order to save those he loves. The rest of the characters bind together to either help one another or support the Soria family. The book, in itself, is a miracle. Mystery, magic, and folklore can all be taught.  Classroom teachers can help students study the profound characterization, the religious can reinforce their own faith, the wrongdoers can seek solace, and the non-believers can find belief.  Highly recommended. Grades 10-12, graduates, undergraduates, and anybody human. (ADA) 

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Gill, David Macinnis. 2017. Uncanny. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 544pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-229016-8.

Irish South Boston resident Willow Jane is celebrating her 16th birthday. Because she is a seemingly-average and seemingly-ordinary person, nobody questions why the city goes into a deep darkness when she blows out the candles of her birthday cake. Upon the darkness though, a weird chain of events are brought about. A centuries-old witch revives, a promise-driven Harken follows through, a corrupt landlord is avenged, and Willow Jane learns to fulfill a family vendetta. All these strange events include time manipulation, untimely deaths, and death, and following instincts, but the strange happenings will neglect insights in readers understanding magic, realism, and the supernatural. Add this book to a horror collection on library shelves, where horror books are in demand. Recommended. Grades 10-12. (ADA) 

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Van Diepen, Allison. 2017. Run the Risk. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243335-0.

Even though she is young, Grace has lived and loved. Unfortunately, the love of her life has abandoned her. Grace is now left with a somewhat absent father and a gang-bound brother named Alex. When Grace’s one time love Mateo emerges, Grace rethinks her broken heart.  Mateo seems to be sincere and wants to expunge his abrupt departure, past life, and absentee father, so Grace reconsiders their relationship. Lacking a positive male role model in his life, Alex seems to be taking a dark path. Grace is worried about her brother. Seeing the good in Mateo, Grace enlists her ex’s help in trying to befriend Alex and steer him out of a hoodlum life.  If good can come out bad, this book shows it. When things collide, the past actually can be re-considered, re-kindled, and re-lived. Dancingly and poetically so! Recommended. Grades 8-12. (ADA)

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Philbrick, Rodman. 2016. The Big Dark. Scholastic (The Blue Sky Press). 192pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-578975-2.

Fifty years ago, protagonist Charlie Cobb would never have flinched at the electrical outage he and his family faces now. Things go okay right away, when the consequences of a solar flare knock out power. It’s when the outage starts to extend beyond a couple of weeks that the community grows impatient and desperate. A resistance forms, the elderly get cold, semblance is threatened, and some lives are growing more short-lived. When Charlie’s mom suffers a diabetic ailment, Charlie needs to act quickly. He leaves his mom and sister, he straps on his skiis, and he risks his life in search of medication for his mom. Steering clear of a nasty band of locals and averting some very hungry coyotes puts him in a position to offer salvation to an elderly couple. When people along Charlie’s path recognize his determination, honesty, and good nature, acceptance and paybacks are soon to follow. The scientific facts may not add up correctly, but no reader is going to care. Young readers are going to enjoy the swishing, swooshing, zigging, and zagging through the action packed plot. Like a reliable snowmobile, this engaging survival adventure story is definitely operating on 4-cylinders. Teachers can use it to start the teaching of a survival unit or use it as a supplement to teaching a survival unit. Otherwise, the book would make for a great recommendation to any outdoor enthusiast. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)  

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Pilkey, Dav. 2017. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties. Scholastic (Graphix). 256pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-54-593521-0.

Absolutely hilarious! The much wiser and more mature co-authors George and Harold sniff out some ideas from the classic literature written by Charles Dickens. The result is another tail-wagging Dog Man adventure story that revolves around the themes of apprehension, redemption, rebirth, and hope. The book starts by explaining Dog Man’s evolution, continues with Petey the Cat’s jailbreak and attempted cloning, and ends with an unexpected, surprise ending. Only in fiction can a dog learn to love a kitten, a living-gas can breathe life into buildings, and a kitten can “flip” its natural instincts and befriend fish rather than eat fish. All the Dog Man books are good, but this one is the best (so far). A great lesson on how to unfix fixed mindsets and accept people and animals for who and what they are. The typical “Ha-ha’s,” “How-to-Draw’s,” and “Flip-O-Rama’s,” are included, but this one comes with a good morale: be nice to cats, dogs, and fish. They are our kin! Highly recommended. Grades 1-4. (ADA)                                

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Pilkey, Dav. 2017. Dog Man and Cat Kid. Scholastic Inc. (Graphix). 256pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-54-593518-0.

What up, Poochies?! The very mature and profoundly deep co-authors George and Harold put yet another Rin Tin Tin-running, Chief-chastising, and cat-canoodling riotous romp. The book begins with two supposed adversaries, Dog Man and Cat Kid, parting ways. Dog Man “stays,” at Gassy Behemoth Studios to watch his life made into a movie, while Cat Kid combats his own “cat”astrophes involving cat sitters and papa kitties, Mecha bots, and warfare weenies. Dog Man and Cat Kid settle their differences when a missing robot controller turns up and Papa Petey is read his feline rights. An epic tale that will have young Dog Man reading upstarts and already fans purring with delight and barking with joy. Flip-O-Rama’s and How-to Draws included. Plus, notes by George and Harold as well as access to the free Pilkey Planet app for kids to start their own digital adventure. Highly recommended. Grades 1-4. (ADA)  

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Columbus, Chris, Vizzini, Ned, & Rylander, Chris. 2016. House of Secrets: Clash of the Worlds. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 528pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-219251-6.

A world circumnavigating romp that House of Secret fans are going to enjoy. The book opens in the San Francisco bay area. The beastly Fat Jagger has somehow entered the real world. The Walker kids – Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia – are a bit miffed by this monstrous outlander. When other strange characters are witnessed traipsing around the US, the Walkers are forced to seek assistance from someone they would prefer to have severed ties with. To make matters worse, if the Walkers want to seal the fiction world from the real world, they must expose themselves to the evil Wind Witch. All three kids decide to separate, in order to more efficiently find the three magical objects to seal the deal. The cast of characters is overwhelming, but the many characters accommodates all the action – giant slayings, zombie chases, bandit escapes, alien encounters, and spirit possessions. Reluctant readers will shy away, but Walker rooters will cheer the characters along. House this book of secrets in the library to make the trilogy complete. Recommended. Grades 7-12. (ADA)

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Teele, Elinor. 2016. The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). 352pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-234510-3.

Some kids would enjoy having the family business handed to them, but not John Coggin. He has been slated to make coffins under the strict rule of his nasty Great Aunt Beauregard. John wants to hightail it right out from under his aunt’s thumb, but he has his little sister Page to consider. John sees an “out” when encountered by a bizarre, scampy wanderlust named Boz.  Boz gets both John and Page jobs with the circus, but there are problems: 1) Aunt Beauregard is always hot on their trail, jeopardizing the circus and the circus crew, and 2) If they don’t want to get axed from the show, both John and Page will soon need to contribute more to the circus.  John has engineered a great idea to stay circus employed, but a bakery stop, a railcar hop, and an archaeology dig threaten their escape out of the Coggin Family Coffins business. A fun orphan-runaway adventure with a pretty chunky plot. Put this book on a snow day required reading list. Readers will need to plow through as much as this novel as they can in one sitting to help keep the action organized. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

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Walliams, David. 2016. Demon Dentist. HarperCollins. 448pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-241704-6. Illustrated by Tony Ross.

An exuberant social worker, a maniacal dentist, a traumatized protagonist, and a friend girl (not a girlfriend) are drilled into the plot of this comedic and creepy novel. Twelve-year-old Alphie hates the dentist so much that he chooses to hang on to his rotten, yellow-stained fangs. When a suspicious Dr. Root visits Alphie’s school and preaches regular dental trips, yet encourages candy gorging, Alphie and his friend girl Gabz are reluctant to bite into Dr. Root’s advice. When the town kids report strange tooth-fairy leavings, Alphie and Gabz try to get to the “root” of the problem. An invalid father and a persistent social worker are no doubt obstacles, but the Tooth Witch herself is the toughest enamel to crack. Alphie, a friend girl, and some acid make for a dynamite solution! Plenty of made up words, and several toilet and underwear blurbs will lighten the creepy and gruesome moods enough to make readers see this as a quick-paced, enjoyable read. Recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA) 

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Kloepfer, John. 2015. Galaxy’s Most Wanted: Into the Dorkness. HarperCollins. 256pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-223104-8. Illustrated by Nick Edwards.

STEM camp members TJ, Warner, Kevin, and Tara find themselves in a couple of scientific quagmires. They have accidently shrunk their friend Klyk, and they have upset the villainous extraterrestrial Mim. Mim’s minions, Zouric and Nuzz, have been zapped to Earth to avenge Mim’s dignity and take control of Earth. It doesn’t take long for Zouric and Nuzz to use nanotech mind control to freeze the recruits at a nearby soccer camp. Mim may be Zouric’s and Nuzz’s puppet master, but the Extraordinary Terrestrials are on the prowl for a member of their own team – a comic book writing clairvoyant. Reptilian soldiers better beware! A zippy read engorged with engaging intergalactic gamuts. Teachers will like this series because it steers away from the comic book layout, and readers will love this series for its entertaining escapades. Highly recommended. Grades 3-7. (ADA) 

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Kelly, Mark. 2015. Astrotwins – Project Blastoff! Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 224pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-48-141546-0.

Set in July of 1975, eleven-year-old twins Mark and Scott attempt to do the impossible: launch into space with their own homemade rocket. Because the project sometimes proves to be complex, Howard, Lisa, Barry, and Jenny are recruited for their scientific resourcefulness. The plot zig-zags from one space travel problem to another, all which are solved positively. Since six kids are unlikely to build their own rocket and launch it into space, this novel would make for a great study in conflict-resolution. Complete with a Reading Group Guide that includes discussion questions on the characters, setting, and plot of the novel, as well as science, technology, and math discussion questions. Teachers and students will benefit from this space travel book. Aligned with the Minnesota State Graduation Standards. Recommended. Grades 4-7. (ADA)

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English, Karen. 2015. The Carver Chronicles (Book 3): Don’t Feed the Geckos! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 144pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-54-457529-5. Illustrated by Laura Freeman.

This is the third book in Karen English’s The Carver Chronicles. Carlo is the Carver Elementary student highlighted this time. Carlo is a normal elementary boy. He does well in school, plays soccer, and owns geckos. Life is good for Carlos. When Carlos overhears his parents talking about his older cousin Bernardo living with them temporarily, he is a little excited. It doesn’t take long, however, for Carlo to change his mind. Sharing his parents, his school, his soccer field, and his geckos grows real lackluster real quick. Carlo’s well developed character gives him the patience and acceptance that Bernardo needs in order to feel welcome. A classroom discussion on the theme of empathy is a possibility. Male readers, in particular, will migrate to this series. Two thumbs up! Highly recommended. Grades 2-4. (ADA)

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Pascal, Janet B. 2015. What was the Great Depression? Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Workshop). 112pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-44-848427-3. Illustrated by DeDe Putra.

Awesome! “What was” books are simply awesome. This book begins by defining the Great Depression. Then it slides into the beginning, middle, and end of the Great Depression. Readers will learn why the “fun” bubble was burst, the banks failed, and how President Hoover left and President Roosevelt rescued the country. Timelines, pictures, and a bibliography tell readers why the Great Depression was one of the worst periods of economic hardship in modern history.  All libraries should have the “What Was” titles on their shelves. Highly, highly recommended. All ages. (ADA) 

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Gigliotti, Jim. 2015. Who was George Washington Carver? Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Workshop). 112pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-44-848312-2. Illustrated by Stephen Marchesi.

George Washington Carver was born into slavery near the end of the American Civil War, freed by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, and unofficially adopted by a white couple named Moses and Susan Carver. George was a sick kid, but he helped the Carvers work their farm as much as he could. He took care of the animals and planted and cared for plants. George always dreamed of going to school, so he left the Carvers to do so. He farm hopped from Missouri to Kansas in search of schools that would allow blacks. Eventually George earned a degree in agriculture and ended up teaching at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, after receiving a personal invitation from Booker T. Washington. George Washington Carver is known for the many uses he devised for peanuts. He also introduced the idea of crop rotation to farmers. An excellent nonfiction read that needs to be shelved in every school library. History teachers will love to recommend this book to their students. Recommended. Grades 3-12. (ADA)   

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Labrecque, Ellen. 2015. Who was Frank Lloyd Wright?  Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Workshop). 112pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-44-848313-9. Illustrated by Gregory Copeland.    

Frank Lloyd Wright started his boyhood playing with building blocks and ended his life known as the greatest architect of all time. Frank built seventy-one new buildings between 1893 and 1901, mostly in the Chicago area. He is also known as the man who built his own home around a tree, and the man who designed a house right on the rocky ledge of a waterfall. Complete with a timeline, illustrations and a bibliography. This “Who was” series is a must in all schools. Highly recommended. All ages. (ADA)


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McDonough, Yona Zeldis. 2015. Who was Sojourner Truth? Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Workshop). 112pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-44-848678-9. Illustrated by Jim Eldridge.

Sojourner Truth had a name when she was born. It was Isabelle. She was a slave in her earlier years; she was worked hard and sometimes abused. She was sold at an action for one hundred dollars, once her owner threw in a flock of sheep to up the ante. Despite being a slave, Belle got married and had five children. Wonderful news arrived in 1817 – all slaves in New York needed to be set free in 10 years. Once freed, she went to work as a servant, and later, as a newspaper assistant. She eventually joined a Zion church and found a lot of peace. She opened a shelter for homeless women and was a leader in fighting for the rights of black women. President Lincoln recognized and honored her personally for her work. She changed her name to Sojourner because it means “traveler,” which is exactly how she lived her life: traveling to find and spread truth. An exciting, illustrated biography that readers, reluctant and avid, are sure to enjoy. Highly recommended. Grades 3 and up. (ADA) 

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Cumyn, Alan. 2016. Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 416pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-143980-0.

Female readers beware – you might actually fall in love with a fictitious book character after this mesmerizing love (or is it lust?) story. Shiels Krane, senior student and student body chair at Vista High School, is entranced. She’s a good student, she has a good boyfriend, and she has her “stuff” together. Things suddenly change when Pyke, the school’s first interspecies transfer student, thrusts his hot pterodactyl self on her. Who cares if he is an avian with all the features: feathers, beak, claws, etc. He’s in a band. He can dance. He gives gnarly, raw animal loving.  Shiels, usually under control, can’t get enough of Pyke. She dumps her boyfriend and dupes her parents. She campaigns for Pyke’s continued enrollment in school. She condones his cheating heart. She bails out his delinquent behaviors. Be careful lady readers – don’t fall for the wrong guy like Shiels did! This dating and relationship love story suffers from some rare form of narrative ADHD, but there’s something hot and steamy about it. Voracious, quirky female readers will be fascinated. Teachers should offer it discreetly to “A” students who have all their work done and could use some entertainment. Recommended. Grades 10-12. (ADA) 

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Pennypacker, Sara. 2016. Waylon! One Awesome Thing. Disney (Disney Hyperion). 224pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-48-470152-2. Illustrated by Marla Frazee.

Fourth grader Waylon Zakowski has his own interests—anything scientific. He’s not so much interested in the “why” of science, but the “What could” in science. “What could humans do if they had gills,” or “what could humans do if they could leap 130 times their height?” is more along Waylon’s line of thinking. Unfortunately, these thoughts separate him from the rest of his fourth grade class. It’s a separation big enough for the cool dude classmate Arlo to put Waylon on a different team. A team of outcasts. Waylon’s problem is true to the real world, and the solutions are positive and logical. Waylon’s dad says people will migrate towards those with passion, and Waylon’s sister ditches her Goth façade to play a game called “One Awesome Thing!” to help Waylon cope. But, it’s really when Waylon casts aside his judgments and teams up with classmate Baxter to do good, when he really learns what matters. This book, in itself, is One Awesome Thing! Give it to struggling readers to help them identify typical school-clique issues and a positive way to deal with those clique problems. Highly recommended. Grades 2-4. (ADA)

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Grey, Jacob. 2016. Ferals. HarperCollins. 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-232103-9.

Three escaped hooligans from the local prison of Blackstone have helped protagonist Caw fulfill his calling. Caw, in addition to being a human orphan raised by crows, is a feral. This allows him the ability to communicate and control crows, by the murder if need be. When the sinister Spinning Man threatens to open the gate between the real world and the Land of the Dead, Caw must act fast. He quickly places his trust in the prison ward’s daughter, Lydia, and another feral named Crumb. Together, Caw and Lydia search for clues to identify and find the Spinning Man, and together Caw and Crumb work their skills against the Spinning Man. Blackstone’s safety, Lydia’s release, and Caw’s past are all at stake! The idea that humans can communicate with certain animals will attract many early teen readers. A fast-paced plot that dabbles in dystopias and demonology will appeal to other teen readers. Encourage students to read this book just for the fun of it. Recommended. Grades 6-12. (ADA)

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Kelly, Erin Entrada. 2017. The Land of Forgotten Girls. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-223864-1.

A pretty good sentimental read set in a rural Louisiana town. After their father abandoned them to go back to the Philippines, sisters Soledad and Ming must really stick together. Life isn’t easy for Sol and Ming. Their stepmother is mean, their living quarters are poor, and the sisters must cope with the death of their younger sister. The ending is slightly predictable, but the sisters getting help from a junkyard caretaker and a non-English speaking neighbor is a bit sudden and unlooked for. A quick study on internal and external conflict, if teachers have the time to discuss these conflicts in class. Recommended. Grades 4-7. (ADA) 

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Wilson, N.D. 2016. Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-232726-0.

Sam Miracle doesn’t know it, but he is on one of the most outrageous and strange adventures of a lifetime, or rather, several “lives-times.” His current, single life at the Desert Destitute Youth Ranch is anti-climactic. The other residents view Sam as a day dreamer and a disabled burden (his arm hardly functions). Looks can be deceiving, however. It’s when Sam is in a trance that he is out trying to track down and stop the villainous El Buitre, otherwise known as the “Vulture.”  Sam can’t survive or accomplish his mission alone though. With the help of Father Tiempo, his sister Millie, a female recruit, and a few selfless Natives, Sam is able to survive the train wrecks and gunfights of the Old West. Hee-Haw! This Western fantasy saloons some great metaphors — it’s the smoking gun of an excellent good versus evil theme, a silver bullet of packed action, and a fuse to great time travel. Male or female readers, it doesn’t matter. Bother genders will enjoy. Recommended. Grades 6-8. (ADA) 

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Green, Laci. 2018. Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body. HarperCollins. 528pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256097-1.

In this her first book, sex educator and YouTube personality, Laci Green, tackles every aspect of sex and sexuality imaginable. In the prologue, Green explains how her conservative religious background influenced her budding sexuality and how she eventually came to reclaim her curiosity about sex and to develop a sex positive orientation. Using language familiar to adolescents and young adults, Green provides labeled diagrams, specific vocabulary, charts and questionnaires, and a broad range of resources most of which provide clickable links. This comprehensive text covers a range of topics from gender specific anatomy to issues of diverse sexuality and gender identity, birth control, masturbation, positive relationships, sex with individuals who have disabilities, and the critical importance of consent and respect. Thoughtfully, Green has provided an exclamation mark in a gray triangle as a content warning before sections that may be sensitive to some readers. Because it is frank and candid, this book approaches topics that many parents and even some sex educators might avoid, making it even more critical as a personal reference for adolescents and young adults. Highly recommended for adolescents as well as adults of any age. (OJB) 

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Acevedo, Elizabeth. 2018. The Poet X. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 357pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-266280-4.

Xiomara Batista lives in Harlem with her Dominican parents and her twin brother. She pours her frustrations into journals and finds a deep connection to poetry and Aman, a boy at school. Xio struggles with catcalling on the street, defending her gay brother from homophobia, questioning her Catholic faith, and living up to her mother’s high expectations. When Xio finds the courage to join her high school’s slam poetry club, a new world of self-expression opens up to her. The story's plot may be predictable to some, but Xiomara’s free verse narration presents a powerful character coming into her own that high school readers will resonate with. (MC)

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Charbonneau, Joelle. 2018. Time Bomb. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 352pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-41670-3.  

Six high school students are caught in a school after a bombing, and more bombs are set to go off. One of them is the bomber, but who? The story's perspective shifts between the six students, including Cas, a bullied clarinet player; Diana, a senator's daughter buckling under pressure to be prefect; Tad and Frankie, two football players who shared a secret kiss; Rashid, a young Muslim tired of being judged; and Z, a homeless boy who lost his mother to cancer. Each one has a motive and the author keeps readers guessing throughout the story. The novel's lack of nuance in regard to violent attacks in school feels outdated in light of recent shootings and splitting the narrative into six perspectives shortchanges the students’ character development. (MC) 

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de la Cruz, Melissa. 2017. Rise of the Isle of the Lost. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-148478128-9.

The third installment of the Descendants series follows the reformed children of Disney's most notorious villains. This includes Mal, Maleficent’s daughter, Evvie, the Evil Queen’s daugther, Carlos, Cruella DeVille’s son, and Jay, Jafar’s son. An unexpected storm washes away King Triton's trident, much to the delight of Mal’s rival, Uma, who wants to use its powers for nefarious purposes. She assembles a crew composed of Harry, Captain Hook’s son, and Gil, Gaston’s son, in order to retrieve it. However, the formerly evil friend group has a plan of their own to get the trident back. Middle grade readers who enjoyed the first two novels and Disney Channel original movies will love this seafaring tale. (MC) 

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Gates, Mariam. 2018. This Moment is Your Life (and so is this one): A Fun and Easy Guide to Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books). 248pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-399-18662-2. Illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg.

Students in middle school and high school often lack the tools necessary to cope with stress and negative thoughts in a healthy way. With the help of vibrant illustrations, the author introduces young people to mindfulness, breathing techniques, and yoga readers can try at school or at home. The book includes several daily mindfulness routines that readers can work through as they gain healthy mindfulness and stress-relieving habits that will improve their minds and bodies. This is an approachable guide for readers ages 11-14, but the techniques will likely benefit people of all ages. (MC) 

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Goss, James. 2016. Class: What She does Next will Astound You. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-266623-9. Created by Patrick Ness.

This is the third companion novel released for the BBC series Class, a teen-centric series in the Doctor Who universe in which humans and aliens in disguise face intergalactic threats. At Coal Hill School, students get swept up in doing increasingly elaborate and dangerous challenges for the website, in the name of battling the mysterious disease Skandis. April, the protagonist, uncovers the truth; Skandis isn't a disease, but an alien race she and other abducted students are forced to battle. The novel maintains the television series’ sense of humor and captures the feel of viral internet fads. The final two-thirds of the book diverts from its initial tone, which makes the novel’s pace feel a bit disjointed. Readers are expected to be familiar with the show's premise before they pick up the novel. (MC) 

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Riordan, Rick. 2018. From the Kane chronicles: Brooklyn House Magician's Manual. Disney Book Group (Disney-Hyperion). 192pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-148478553-9.

Rick Riordan's novels weave adventure with humorous and inventive takes on classic mythology. This companion to the Kane Chronicles series is written by siblings Carter and Sadie Kane. The book’s narrative banter between the pair gives irreverent, hilarious rundowns of Egyptian gods, creatures, spells, and hieroglyphics. Multiple choice quizzes sprinkled throughout so readers can test their knowledge as they read. Fans of the Kane Chronicles interested in Egyptians mythology and culture will enjoy this funny, informative read. (MC)

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Roth, Jonathan. 2018. Beep and Bob: Too much Space! Simon & Schuster (Aladdin).128pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-8853-2. Illustrated by Jonathan Roth.

200 years in the future at Astro Elementary School, Bob struggles to fit in with his brave, intelligent classmates. Fortunately, his silly robot companion, Beep, is there to help him. During a field trip to Pluto, things go horribly wrong as their ship heads toward a black hole, Bob has to find the courage to help – if only his classmate Lani didn't insist on bringing her pet spiders everywhere and Beep would stop eating socks! This silly story is told in short “splogs,” or space blogs, that Bob mails 200 years back in time for readers today. Elementary school children looking for a humorous story will enjoy reading this chapter book with their parents and teachers. (MC) 

Book coverAlbertalli, Becky. 2018. Leah on the Offbeat. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 368pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-264380-3.

It should be easy for Leah Burke to come out to her friends as bisexual. Her friend Simon just came out as gay and he's in a great relationship with Bram, but Leah doesn't find it that simple. It's senior year and tensions within Leah's friend group are rising as college acceptance letters arrive and prom approaches. How is Leah supposed to interpret her friend Abby's flirtatious behavior when Abby has a boyfriend? This sequel to Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda follows Leah as she hides an increasingly un-hideable crush under a prickly facade. Like the previous novel, the writing is humorous and brings these teenage characters to life. The novel also features bisexual characters, a rarity in LGBTQ fiction representation and young adult literature. (MC) 

Book coverAlexander, Kwame. 2018. Rebound. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 416pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-86813-7.

This prequel to the celebrated novel The Crossover tells the story of Charlie Bell as he grapples with the death of his father. It's 1988 and Charlie has retreated into comics, withdrawn from his mother, and drifted from his love of basketball. Once Charlie is sent to stay on a farm with his hardworking grandparents, his life begins to turn around. The novel is written in verse and its poems about basketball have the same kinetic excitement that fans of The Crossover enjoyed. The story is interspersed with comic book panels that work in tandem with the poems to tell a powerful story of perseverance after the unthinkable happens. (MC) 

Book coverBerquist, Emma. 2018. Devils unto Dust. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 496pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-264278-3.

It's a decade after the Civil War and Daisy “Willie” Wilcox is struggling to look after her three siblings since her mother died from an infection called the shakes. When her alcoholic father abandons the family and leaves them at the mercy of violent debt collectors, Willie hires a pair of hunters to lead her through the dangerous, shake-infested desert to find him and retrieve the money. Her brother Micah and friend Sam tag along against Willie's wishes. As they fend off shakes and desert storms, Willie begins to worry that she may be infected. This “zombie western” story features a resourceful, gritty heroine and likeable supporting characters. Although the story may run long, teens looking for historical fiction with an interesting horror twist may want to give this novel a try. (MC) 

Book coverCatanese, P.W. 2018. Donny's Inferno: Down in Flames. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 336pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3803-2.

In the sequel to Donny's Inferno, Donny is adjusting to life in the underworld after the demon Angela reformed the netherworld into Sulfur, a place where people are allowed to repent for their wrongs instead of facing immediate punishment. Angela searches for allies as Donny tries to survive as her assistant. When souls begin to mysteriously disappear before they reach Sulfur, Donny must determine if Angela truly has his best interests in mind. The worldbuilding in the first book is expanded in its sequel with an array of monsters and fun details regarding Sulfur’s structure. Readers are encouraged to read the first book before picking this one up, as more engaging new characters and details are added. (MC) 

Book coverChima, Cinda Williams. 2018. Stormcaster. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 544pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238100-2.

In order to understand the third installment of the Shattered Realms series, one must have read the previous two books in order to grasp character backstories and various aspects of worldbuilding. Multiple storylines weave together in the third book as the evil Empress Celestine's army grows in power, characters reunite, and political intrigue evolves. This intricately plotted novel will excite fans of the series and have them hungry for the final book. Young adults interested in fantasy novels with complex worldbuilding are sure to enjoy these novels. (MC) 

Book coverHerbach, Geoff. 2018. Hooper. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 336pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-245311-2.

As a teenager, Adam Reed is adopted from Poland and finds refuge in the sport of basketball. He and his adoptive mother, Renata, move from Philadelphia to a small college town in Minnesota, where Adam gets attention for his 6’6’’ height. He also develops a crush on Carli, a girl who is equally into basketball. When Adam is recruited onto a prestigious, primarily black AAU basketball team, he is teased for his poor English skills. However, as he begins to bond with his teammates, Adam’s understanding of racism and poverty expands. Teen readers will enjoy Adam's likeable, humorous voice and appreciate the story’s vibrant cast of secondary characters. (MC) 

Book coverMonir, Alexandra. 2018. The Final Six. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 352pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265894-4.

In the future, climate change ravages the earth, causing intense storms and destroying city after city. Several teens are drafted for rigorous training as members of the International Space Training Camp, to assist a colonization effort on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Naomi, an Iranian-American, is devastated to be chosen and ripped away from her family. In contrast, Leo, an Italian orphaned following Rome’s destruction, is full of excitement. The two romantically connect during the competitive elimination training to select the “final six” who will complete the mission. However, they soon realize the ISTC’s motives are more sinister than they originally thought. Although the romance feels shoehorned, fans of dystopia or science fiction may enjoy this start to the series. (MC)

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Turner, Henry. 2018. Hiding. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 277pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-28477-7.

Narrated by a teen boy who remains unnamed for most of the novel, this novel is billed as a psychological thriller. The narrator hides himself in his ex-girlfriend's basement to learn why she ended things, but his larger motive remains a mystery. Readers stay in the narrator's head through the novel, trying to piece together the full story. This novel is fixed around one large twist, which may not feel satisfying to readers who see the twist coming from the first chapter or feel engaged enough with the narrator to experience the full impact. (MC) 

Book coverCavallaro, Brittany. 2018. The Case for Jamie. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 349pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-239897-0.

In the third installment of the Charlotte Holmes series, Charlotte and Jamie Watson haven't spoken in a year. For the first time in the series, readers hear part of the story from Charlotte's perspective, who is on the run after the death of August Moriarty. Meanwhile, Jamie is trying to finish his senior year and forget about Charlotte altogether when a new threat brings them back together once more. Charlotte Holmes continues to be a brilliant, fascinating character who feels more than she lets on. This mystery-thriller maintains a quick pace and carefully crafted revelations. Readers who enjoyed the first two books in the series won't want to miss this one. (MC) 

Book coverHillyer, Lexa. 2018. Winter Glass. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 352pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244090-7.

This sequel to the fairy tale-inspired fantasy Spindle Fire picks up where the first book ended. Half-sisters Aurora and Isabelle may be separated, but are each fighting the faerie queen Malfleur in their own ways. Princess Aurora, woken from her enchanted sleep and mute to everyone except her friend Wren, is planning to assassinate Malfleur. Isabelle reunites with her love William and the pair battles the queen’s vultures with an army. Elements of the tale Cinderella enter the story when Isabelle discovers a glass slipper that helps her piece together her lineage. The prose is poetic, fast-paced, and will compel readers who enjoyed Spindle Fire to pick up the conclusion. (MC) 

Book coverKolby, Janel. 2018. Winterfolk. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-248700-1.

Rain feels invisible to those living outside of Winterfolk, the tent city in the woods near Seattle that she calls her home. When residents of Winterfolk receive a notice regarding the city’s plan to clear out the forest where they live, Rain and her friend venture into Seattle, accidentally separating in the process. Rain often hallucinates and has unusual ways of looking at the world. She navigates the city of Seattle and discovers people aren't always what they seem. Few young adult stories have a homeless protagonist and the novel gives readers a completely new perspective on a group whose stories often go neglected. While the story isn't heavy on plot, high school readers interested in Rain’s perspective may want to pick this story up. (MC) 

Book coverMafi, Tahereh. 2018. Restore Me. HarperCollins (Harper). 435pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-266626-0.

The Shatter Me series continues as it follows protagonist Juliette’s takeover of The Reestablishment. Juliette is overwhelmed by leading an entire country with all eyes on her and her ability to kill with a single touch. Her boyfriend, Warren, reveals that Juliette was adopted and that her birth parents gave her up to the Reestablishment when she was five. Political tensions rise until Juliette's powers have a devastating effect, leading to the accidental slaughter of all 554 Chief Commanders and Regents of North America. The novel ends on a major plot twist and cliffhanger as Juliette awakens in New Zealand with her biological parents. Readers seeking answers to questions the first three novels didn't answer will tear through this story of cliffhangers and expanded worldbuilding. (MC) 


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Noël, Alyson. 2018. Infamous. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 432pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-232458-0.

Beautiful Idols is a fun, implausible series about supermodel-beautiful teens promoting clubs in Los Angeles. The final book in the trilogy finds Layla, Aster, and Tommy in jail after being framed for a murder in a nightclub. The victim, Madison Brooks, is still alive and has plenty of dangerous secrets ready to spill out. Romance, mystery, and scandal continue to play main roles in this series for teens who want to read a fun murder-mystery novel. (MC) 


Book coverRiazi, Karuna. 2018. The Gauntlet. Simon & Schuster (Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-8696-5.

12-year-old Farah discovers a mysterious, mechanical board game called “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” in this fast-paced adventure novel. Farah, her younger brother Ahmad, and her friends Alex and Essie, are pulled into the game and must face a series of challenges to escape. They face beasts like camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats, while attempting to avoid becoming cogs in the game like other players before them. Farah and her brother are Bangladeshi-American, and the game itself has lots of Middle Eastern touches. Readers who enjoy Jumanji and other adventure stories will get sucked into this lively novel. (MC)

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Rufener, Brenda. 2018. Where I Live.

HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 333pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-257109-0.

Linden Rose has everyone at school fooled – even her two best friends. She's homeless, sleeping on campus, bathing in the locker room, and keeping strict rules to make sure nobody suspects a thing. When a popular girl comes to school with a bloody lip, Linden begins a domestic abuse investigation despite the danger it puts her in. Her life is further complicated when Linden realizes she's falling for her friend, Seung. Young adult literature rarely explores teen homelessness, which makes this novel rather unique in terms of its subject matter. Some elements of the novel seem unrealistic, but Linden's matter-of-fact, resolute attitude and her supportive cast of friends work well. Teens looking for stories addressing poverty or domestic abuse should consider reading this novel. (MC) 

Book coverRutledge, A.B. 2018. Miles Away from You. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 272pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-328-85233-5.

Demisexual and pansexual Miles has spiraled into an unrelenting state of depression now that his trans girlfriend, Vivian, has been in a coma for a year and a half following her attempted suicide. His parents buy him tickets to Iceland to get a change of perspective, where Miles continues to cope with his depression and tries to hook up with people. When he meets Oskar, his life begins to change for the better. While this book features a cast of LGBTQ+ characters, the story uses a black transgender woman as a mute prop to explore the feelings of a selfish, white, cisgender boy. Miles' obsession with hookups inaccurately portrays demisexuality, and the implausible narration choice to have Miles send the contents of this novel in a letter to Vivian makes it worse. LGBTQ+ teenagers looking for empowering representation will not find it here. (MC) 

Book coverSchaumberg, Deborah. 2018. The Tombs. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 448pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265644-5.

In 1880s New York City, Avery Kohl's mother is taken to the Tombs asylum, forcing Avery to support her family by working at an ironworks factory. Like her mother, Avery has special abilities; she can heal auras and sense the connections between others. She must keep these abilities hidden to avoid being thrown in an asylum as well, or being taken advantage of by those with ulterior motives. Amidst Avery's dilemma, she finds herself drawn to her best friend Khan, a freed slave, and a Romani boy she kissed two years ago. The historical and magical worldbuilding is immersive, and fans of intricate, foreboding plots will appreciate this novel. Some young readers may not know the term “gypsy” is a racial slur, and while the author explains she uses the word for historical accuracy, its frequent use in the story is unfortunate. Recommended for young adult readers looking for a blend of historical fiction and paranormal horror. (MC) 

Book coverSmetana, Sarah Nicole. 2018. The Midnights. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 416pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-264462-6.

In this contemporary novel of music and grief, Susannah tries to connect with her father, a former rock star, by writing music of her own. When he dies unexpectedly, Susannah and her mother move from LA to Orange County, and Susannah takes the opportunity to try and reinvent herself and finally find a creative path uniquely her own. The main characters are flawed and realistic, and southern California is poetically portrayed. Young adult readers looking for realistic fiction about grief or creativity may want to read book. (MC) 



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Steiger, A.J. 2018. When my Heart Joins the Thousand. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 357pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-265647-6.

This slow-moving, but poignant romance follows Alvie, a 17-year-old on the autism spectrum, is biding her time until she turns 18 and can be emancipated from her group home. She connects more with animals than humans until she meets Stanley, a chronically ill boy whose bones break easily. Despite Alvie’s struggles with depression and Alvie's negative past experiences, the two come together in a believable and sweet way. The mental illnesses and disabilities portrayed in the story are handled realistically and with care, and both characters are developed beyond their symptoms or labels. Recommended for young adult readers interested in romance or representation of people with disabilities or mental health diagnoses. (MC) 

Book coverCrutcher, Chris. 2018. Losers Bracket. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 250pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-222006-6.

Annie is going through her last year of high school while balancing basketball, her biological family, and her foster family. She knows that in order to stay on track, she should minimize how much she engages with her mother and her sister, but she desires more contact with them and purposefully gets herself in the loser's bracket in her basketball game so they'll have more chances to see her play. She becomes further entangled with her family when her sister's son, Frankie, goes missing; Annie almost compromises her future. This is a novel that realistically portrays the messiness of foster care; it shows that finding stable role models and supportive adults sometimes requires looking beyond your biological family. Recommended for teen readers looking for realistic fiction, especially if they're feeling like they can't get their lives together. Annie might just be the protagonist they need to see succeed. (MC) 

Book coverGravel, Elise. 2018. Olga: We're Out of Here! HarperCollins. 186pp. $12.99. 978-0-06-235129-6.

This is the sequel to the first book in the series, Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere. Olga absolutely adores the strange creature she found, Meh, a pink, smelly animal of unknown origins who only eats olives. Olga cooks up a plan to travel to space to figure out where Meh is from, and because she's getting pretty fed up with Earth. As Olga begins researching space travel, she notices that Meh has started acting strange. Is Meh sick, or is something else going on? This funny graphic novel contains all the friends readers got to know in the first book, so new readers should be sure to read the first in the series before picking this one up. Recommended for readers aged 7-10 who enjoy funny stories and lots of illustrations. (MC) 

Book coverGidwitz, Adam, and Jesse Casey. 2018. The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Basque Dragon. Penguin Random House LLC (Dutton Children's Books). 178pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-7352-3173-3. Illustrated by Hatem Aly. 

Friends Elliot and Uchenna recently rescued a Jersey Devil (fittingly named Jersey) after being recruited as potential members of the Unicorn Rescue Society by the eccentric and intimidating Professor Fauna. Now, Professor Fauna enlists them to help him track down a missing dragon in the Basque Country. The two elementary school students, Jersey, and Professor Fauna head to Europe in search of the kidnapped dragon, running into the same enemies as the first book – the greedy Schmoke Brothers! This fast-paced adventure is recommended for readers who have already started the series. The large font, short chapters, and illustrations make it a good fit for readers age 7-10. (MC) 

Book coverGreene, Stephanie. 2018. Princess Posey and the Flower Girl Fiasco. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 88pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17569-5. Illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson.

The twelfth book in the Princess Posey series finds first grader Posey excited about her grandpa's engagement to her neighbor, Mrs. Romero, especially after convincing them to let her be a flower girl in their understated backyard wedding. She is devastated, however, when she learns that Mrs. Romero and her dog, Hero, will be moving into Gramps' house. Posey wrestles with her sadness that her favorite dog and neighbor won't live as close anymore; she talks to her friends and family about it as the wedding day approaches. After briefly taking care of Hero, Posey finally comes to accept that he belongs with Mrs. Romero at Gramps' house. This large-print book is a good choice for readers just starting chapter books. Readers who have read other Princess Posey books will be familiar with the characters and Posey's relationship with Hero the dog. (MC) 

Book coverHegarty, Shane. 2017. Darkmouth #4: Hero Rising. HarperCollins. 385pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-231138-2.

This fourth installment in the middle grade series finds Finn, son of the last Legend Hunter, labeled a traitor and Darkmouth, the magical world that borders his ordinary Irish homeland, has been taken over. Now, an ancient horror is threatening both worlds and it's up to Finn to save the day. Too bad he's not very good at being a hero. This story keeps up a quick pace; the plot twists and humor will satisfy fans who have enjoyed the first books in the series. The Darkmouth series blends humor, mythology, and fantasy together. It is recommended for middle grade readers who enjoy the Artemis Fowl or Percy Jackson series. (MC) 

Book coverHubbard, Crystal. 2018. The Story of Tennis Champion Arthur Ashe. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 96pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-789-4. Illustrated by Kevin Belford.

This book is part of a biographical series which highlights a historical figure rarely featured in children's history lessons. Arthur Ashe grew up learning how to play tennis on segregated courts before going on to win the US Open and the Davis Cup. He became the first African American to win a Grand Slam tournament. The biography highlights his intense work ethic on the tennis court and his work in activism, including fighting apartheid in South Africa and becoming a spokesperson for the HIV/AIDS crisis after he was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s. The book includes informational sidebars to provide more context on tennis, apartheid in South Africa, and HIV and AIDS. It also includes a timeline, glossary, historical photos, and recommended reading. Recommended for 4th-6th grade readers interested in tennis or inspiring biographies. (MC)

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Lombardo, Constance. 2018. Mr. Puffball: Escape from Castaway Island. HarperCollins. 229pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-232071-1.

In the third chronicle of Mr. Puffball the cat, Mr. Puffball decides to pursue fame through reality TV. His capers on Celebrity Birthday Cake Wars and Feline Ninja Warrior gain him the fame he's always wanted, but it doesn't take long before Hollywood has forgotten him. He rallies his friends and his other washed-up celebrity friend to participate in the reality show contest Celebrity Castaway Island. However, the challenges are harder than Mr. Puffball originally thought and his friends aren’t exactly on his side after Mr. Puffball abandoned them when becoming consumed by fame and fortune. Constance Lombardo's writing and illustrations are filled with cat puns and is delightfully funny. Both newcomers and fans of Mr. Puffball will find this story accessible. Recommended for readers age 8-12 looking for a funny book. (MC) 


Cover of "The Children's Blizzard"

Tarshis, Lauren. 2018. I Survived the Children's Blizzard, 1888. Scholastic Inc (Scholastic Press). 108pp. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-545-91977-7.

Each book in Scholastic's “I Survived” series highlights a historical disaster in a fictionalized account from a child who uses bravery to survive. 11-year-old John Hale has recently moved from the big city into the vast prairie in the Dakota Territory, and finds himself in one of the deadliest blizzards in American history. The blizzard is called “The Children's Blizzard” because at least 100 school children died in it. It hit the northern prairie with devastating winds and temperatures as low as 40 below Fahrenheit. This chapter book is aimed for 3rd-5th graders and is written at a 4th grade reading level. Recommended for elementary school readers looking for historical fiction or true stories of survival during a natural disaster. (MC) 

Book coverVaughan, Marcia. 2018. The Story of World War II Hero Irena Sendler. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 64pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-791-7. Illustrated by Ron Mazellan.

This is book is part of a biographical series which highlights a historical hero that doesn't often get the spotlight in history lessons. Irena Sendler was a Catholic, Polish social worker who helped smuggle Jewish children to safety during the Nazi regime. The book tells the incredible story of her life; it tells of her capture by the Gestapo after helping around 4,000 people escape as well as her own escape from their clutches. These illustrated scenes are interspersed with informational sidebars to give readers context about the era in history. In the back, there's a helpful timeline and recommended reading list. Recommended for 4th-6th grade readers looking for an accessible biography or historical account. (MC) 

Book coverWeston, Mark. 2018. The Story of Car Engineer Sochiro Honda. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 64pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-790-0. Illustrated by Katie Yamasaki.

This is book is part of a biographical series which highlights a historical figure rarely featured in children's history lessons. This biography is about the founder of the Honda Motor Company, Soichiro Honda. Weston intersperses the illustrated story of his life with informational sidebars about related topics, such as the histories of cars, assembly lines, and the energy crisis. The biography doesn't gloss over uncomfortable truths like the history of WWII Japanese internment camps or Honda's temper. The book also includes a timeline, glossary, some historical photos, and a recommended reading. The story is recommended for 4th-6th grade readers looking for an accessible biography or who have an interest in cars. (MC)  

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Rinaldi, Tom. 2017. The Red Bandanna (Young Readers Adaptation). Penguin Random House (Viking Books for Young Readers). 176pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-42-528762-0.

An intimate biography of a relatable modern-day hero. Welles moves from boyhood to youth to manhood, just a regular guy who became a hero. Along the way, the reader experiences with him the importance of friendship and family and their roles in his life. Our own changing roles and the changing relationships we have with our own parents as we mature are revealed as Welles ages, along with the struggle to meet our own expectations for ourselves and how we resolve it with the expectations others have of us. A topical story, sensitively and well told, of someone who became a hero by living his values and being true to himself. And from the perspective of those with whom he shared his life, it is a story of the joys, pride and lasting sense of both loss and blessings they experience. Recommended for ages 14 and older. (LH)

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Britz, Allison. 2017. Obsessed: A Memoir of my Life with OCD. Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse). 368pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-148918-8.

Even a pretty, smart, popular, and athletic person with seemingly everything going his or her way can experience mental illness — it does not discriminate. In this gripping memoir for teen and adult readers, Britz reveals the progression of mental illness from initial development to deepening descent — and the eventual rediscovery of self. Relatable and relevant for teen readers. Redemptive for all readers. Identification with Allison early on makes this a can’t-put-it-down book. Recommended for readers 13 and older. (LH) 


Book coverZhang, Kat.  2017. The Emperor’s Riddle. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147864-9.

Eleven-year-old Mia and her older brother Jack demonstrate persistence and resourcefulness, disobedience and loyalty in Mia’s quest to solve an age-old mystery in this historical fiction adventure. Reading vocabulary and sentence structure become more advanced as the plot progresses, drawing the reader in seamlessly as the story intensifies.  Key elements in the story include single-parent family, extended family and cross-cultural understanding. Join them as they solve riddles that lead them closer and closer to the secret treasures and their aunt who has mysteriously disappeared. Recommended for readers ages 8-12. (LH) 

Book coverDowning, Erin. 2017. Moon Shadow. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 256pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147521-1.

Lucia arrives at the cusp of her teen years at a time of multiple transitions and maximum turmoil. Mom has left their home to live in another country with her new (same-sex) partner. As a result, Dad has lost interest in much of life. Lucia is starting in a new school, and she has cultivated new friends, having been dropped over the summer by her “BFF.”  As if becoming a teenager wasn’t source enough for self-doubt and second guessing! A story of leaving the old, embracing the new, and deciding what to bring with you as you make that change — with a little magic thrown in to bind it together. Recommended for ages 8-13. (LH) 

Book coverWilliams-Garcia, Rita. 2017. Clayton Byrd goes Underground. HarperCollins Publishers (Amistad). 176pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-221591-8. Illustrations by Frank Morrison.

A fascinating read! This is a story the reader won’t want to put down! Includes Life’s biggest problems and questions in ways to which all readers can relate. Music. Dance.  Relationships, friends, and family. Life and death. Rebellion and disobedience. Hurt. Love and forgiveness. And adventure. All handled with a masterful touch and in the most natural, honest way. A revelation for the reader. With a compelling and timeless story line coupled with extraordinary pacing and phrasing, it is no wonder that this book was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Awards. Recommended for ages 8-12. (LH)

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Allbright, Lauren. 2017. Exit Strategy. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 164pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-144912-7.

Ross is constantly transferring from school to school, following his mother’s career as a professional bassoon player. That was fine until his best friend stopped touring when his mom got a permanent job with an orchestra. From the start, Ross plans for his last day of school with unforgettable style. Using a science project and executing the scientific method, he completes his plan, and with surprising results. A hilarious read. The reader’s takeaway? Anticipate the unanticipated. Be sure you’ve identified all of your variables. Recommended for readers 9–13. (LH) 

Book coverAnderson, Jodi Lynn. 2017. My Diary from the Edge of the World. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 419pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-44-248387-3.

Step into a world that seems much like ours. Except that this Earth is flat. The people are just like us, but they live in a world that includes dragons flying overhead, sasquatches populating the forests, yetis controlling all the mountain passes, and other creatures both familiar and odd.  Consider that death arrives as a dark cloud dropping from the sky to take the one it has chosen—and that’s the good kind of death. How would that have changed our world? Amid sometimes messy family relationships, friendship, hope, doubt, magic, fear, wonder, resourcefulness, and trust, this journey takes you to the Edge of the World and discovery. (LH) 

Book coverBackman, Fredrik. 2017. Beartown. Simon & Schuster (Atria Books). 415pp. $26.99. ISBN 978-1-50-116076-9.

It breathes like Mother Earth or Father Time, or the ocean. This story is set at the edge of the woods in northern Sweden. The story begins slowly, gathering its breath for the ups and downs, the races and lulls ahead, ending with a sigh of hope. This is a book that will catch at hearts even as you hold your breath. It is a roller coaster of action and emotion. Issues of social status run through the book, as they run through the lives of its characters: from single-parent and two-parent families, children cherished or beaten, richer or poorer, successful or scorned, scorers or defenders, straight or gay, violent or loving. In the space of a single month, there is unlimited hope, unspeakable tragedy, and in time there is healing. From the best-selling author of A Man Called Ove. Recommended for readers 14 and older. (LH) 

Book coverBailey, Em. 2017. The Special Ones. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-491229-8.

At page one, the reader will think he or she is settling into a historical fiction set in Australia. However, already on page two, something is not right. By page three, he or she knows there is something sinister in the background, but the reader is not yet sure what that may be. This is an engrossing tale of rebellion and conformity, family and friendship, courage and fear, mental illness and moral steadfastness, love and forgiveness, altered states and identities, light and dark, and the eternal battle between good and evil — served with a fascinating twist. What does it mean to have the right to one’s self? The reader will not want to put this down, as he or she is drawn into the lives of Esther, Harry, Lucille, Felicity and “him.” For readers 11 and older. (LH) 

Book coverChacón, Daniel. 2017. The Cholo Tree. Arte Público (Piñata Books). 272pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-1-55-885840-4.

Sometimes it only takes one person. One person to listen, to care, to trust. We may not understand until much later how important those people have been to who we have become. Victor is a talented and bright 17-year-old latino who returns to life after having died in an episode of violence in a park near his home. He recalls nothing of the event that left him in the hospital. After his recovery and back in the same milieu, he re-creates his life the way he wants it to be, dealing with family history, hang-ups and challenges, friends and gang support, and gang violence and criminality, peer pressure, love in different forms, and the pressure of self-expectations when it conflicts with some group norms. Recommended for readers ages 12 and older. (LH) 

Book coverFlowers, JJ. 2017. Juan Pablo and the Butterflies. Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse). 224pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-50-720214-2.

By identifying with the characters in this book, the reader intimately explores issues of friendship and love, drugs, violence, immigration, and torn families. He or she will experience global warming and its effects on the Earth and its inhabitants. Courage, wisdom, spirituality, death and estrangement, life and renewal, are lived through the readers. Many have read or heard about the declining monarch population and their migratory trail. Readers may have been told of and even participated in restoring habitat, which agricultural practices and population growth have destroyed. A gem of a read for ages 10-16. (LH) 

Book coverGlaser, Karina Yan. 2017. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-487639-2.

A wonderful story for anyone who has siblings, wants siblings, or is curious about what it is like to have them. Although set in New York City, it could have been set anywhere. Brothers and sisters collude, gaining the unwary help of neighbors and friends while hiding their shenanigans from their parents, all in order to change the mind of a grumpy old man. Their creativity and resourcefulness shines, so the reader will be alternately laughing and holding his or her breath as the plot unfolds. Recommended for ages 8-13. (LH) 

Book coverHicks, Deron. 2017. The Van Gogh Deception. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-475927-5.

A lone boy in an art museum, may not be too unusual, but this one, who seems to have come from nowhere and claims to have amnesia, is out of the ordinary. Taken into police custody, he is placed with a foster mom and her daughter until his parents can be located. What follows is the boy’s search to find out who he is and fix his upside-down world. As the reader works with him to solve his personal mystery, he or she will encounter another mystery entangled with it, adding a dangerous twist. The book includes digital clues to help unravel the story. As the boy called “Art” works to stay alive and learn about his identity, the reader learns not only about mind and memory, but also about the art world and the science of art, both ancient and current. Recommended for ages 8-12. (LH) 


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McGhee, Alison. 2017. Pablo and Birdy. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147026-1. Illustrated by Ana Juan.

Here is a coming-of-age story, which incorporates topics such as community, family, kindness, fear, bravery, immigration, alienation, feelings of love and abandonment, and the complexities of finding oneself. A story as beautiful and vibrant as the birds of Isla, young readers will find it asks more questions than it answers. Recommended for readers ages 8-12 years. (LH)


Book coverMiller, Darcy. 2017. Roll. HarperCollins. 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-246122-3.

What is a guy to do when his family moves him out of his neighborhood and into the country, just as summer vacation begins? This book is about new homes and old, making, shifting, sharing and maybe losing friends. This is a book about growing up in one summer, shown against a backdrop of hobbies and interests, friends coming and going, and reconciling the familiar with the new and unusual. The book includes a section of fascinating facts about pigeons at the end. Recommended for ages 8-12. (LH)


Book coverNoble, Diana. 2017. Evangelina takes Flight. Arte Público (Piñata Books). 152pp. $10.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-848-0.

To understand immigration and, in particular, why latinos have been crossing the Rio Grande to the United States, there is no better book than this one. Come to Mexico in 1911 and live with Evangelina and her family on their successful ranch. Feel the wrenching decisions that must be made, the difficulty of the journey, the desperation and its source, the unfounded biases they face in a new country, and the difficulty of fighting for recognition and acceptance. Know it is likely that this is also the story of your ancestors just a few generations ago and, by extension, your story. It could change your life, and that of someone else. Recommended for ages 8 – 12. (LH)

Book coverPerkins, Mitali. 2017. Tiger Boy. Charlesbridge. 144pp. $6.93. ISBN 978-1-58-089661-0.

This book allows the reader to live, work and play as a resident of a tropical island just off the coast of India. In this story centered around the search for a runaway baby tiger, readers learn about how others live in cultures different from their own. Learn about their dreams and about their values. Along the way, readers can gain an understanding of how global warming is changing their lives, too. Winner of the South Asia National Outreach Consortium’s South Asia Book Award. Recommended for ages 8-12. (LH) 


Book coverSteveson, Nanci Turner. 2017. Georgia Rules. HarperCollins. 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-237457-8.

News of the death of Maggie’s father brings with it the news that her mother is moving them from Atlanta all the way north to rural Vermont, leaving behind schools, memories and friends.  Talk about change! How Maggie finds herself and creates her new life is a story shared by many. Stay at her side and learn from her how inner resources of heart and resolve and outer resources offered through the kindness of friends and strangers can help us all to see the best in ourselves and others. The book exemplifies how going beyond ourselves brings richness to our lives. For ages 8 – 12. (LH)

Book coverWallace, Brandon. 2017. Wilder Boys. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 256pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-48-143263-4.

Taylor and Jake live a fairly normal life in a small town with their mom and her boyfriend. It is normal except their mom is getting sicker and sicker, and they are afraid of her boyfriend. When circumstances change, the brothers start out on a journey to find their father, whom they have not heard from or seen in many years. Heading west, they take chances, trust strangers, and encounter danger and hardships. The boys learn all along the way while also remembering things their dad had taught them when they were very small. Themes such as risk, regret, courage, love, the pull of nature, and the enduring human spirit shape this first book of a two-part series. For ages 8-12. (LH) 

Book coverBrewer, Zac. 2017. Madness. HarperCollins (Harper Teen). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780062457851.

Brooke Danvers wants to die. Self-harm didn’t work, so she jumped off a bridge – only to be rescued by a homeless man. The book begins six weeks after her return home from an inpatient program. Readers follow her through her adoption of odd and quirky behaviors, therapy sessions, return to school and return to social activities. She struggles to to work her way back into regular life while plotting her next attempt at suicide, until one day she discovers that she wants to live. But now there is someone in her life who will not accept this change in her. Readers will learn about themselves while also learning about mental illness and the trials and tribulations of recovery. (LH) 

Book coverHenderson, Leah. 2017. One Shadow on the Wall. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 448pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-6295-2.

In Senegal, eleven-year-old Mor and his younger sisters are alone after their parents die. Before his death, Mor’s father made him promise to keep his sisters safe, but their aunt wants to send him to a religious school and force the girls into servitude. In a world controlled by adults, how does Mor keep his promise to his father? If he needs help, where will he find it?  All readers can relate to this story of courage, compassion, family and community — regardless of culture or continent. (LH) 

Book coverLee, Mackenzi. 2017. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 528pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238280-1.

Bixsexual British lord Henry “Monty” Montague embarks on tour of Europe with his best friend and secret crush Percy. The story’s frivolous, slow-moving start leads to a delightful, rollicking adventure for gentlemen, ladies and would-be roués. With historically accurate references to the Grand Tour, the rivalry between the Bourbons and the Hapsburgs, the Barbary pirates, and cultural insights into the time period, including those of gender identity and family relationships, makes this an excellent read for young adults. (LH) 

Book coverMartin, Emily. 2017. The Year we Fell Apart. Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse). 320pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-3841-4.

The summer before senior year of high school marks the beginning of transition for many of us.  For Harper and Declan, this transition is complicated by family circumstances and life-long friendships. Harper struggles to redeem herself after getting kicked off the swim team and destroying her friendship with Declan. After Harper’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, the two attempt to reconcile. Readers will root for both of them as they learn the importance of truth and courage in all of their relationships. (LH)


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Maschari, Jennifer. 2017. Things that Surprise You. Balzer + Bray. 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-243892-8.

Starting middle school is already difficult, but add in your parent’s divorce, your sister’s eating disorder, and the loss of a close friendship and you might need a therapist. Emily Murphy takes this all in stride and handles these challenges in a unique way, while learning and growing all the entire time. Young readers will relate to Emily’s journey as they grapple with similar challenges in their own lives.  (LH) 


Book coverMelvin, Leland. 2017. Chasing Space: an Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances. HarperCollins (Amistad). 256pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780062665928.

In this memoir, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin takes chronicles his upbringing in Virginia, college days at the University of Virginia, time as a professional football player and experiences with space travel. His story conveys the value of perseverance how a normal kid can overcome seemingly impossible obstacles to reach his or her goal.  His energetic writing and color photographs make the story relatable, and young readers will enjoy the terrific set of experiments he provides at the end of the book for aspiring scientists. (LH) 

Book coverNess, Patrick. 2017. Release. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-240319-3.

Adam Thorn is approaching his senior year of high school, and it feels like his life is falling apart. He handles his conflicts with the help of best friend Angela, as he struggles to find unconditional support from his deeply religious family. His father in particular can not seem to accept that Adam is gay and no less a person because of it; not in family, school, work, church or extra-curricular activities.  How does one find one’s way back to balance?  An utterly engaging story, readers will not want to set this book down once they begin reading. (LH)


Book coverMcCormick, Patricia. 2017. Sergeant Reckless: The True Story of the Little Horse who became a Hero. HarperCollins Publishers (Balzer + Bray). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-229259-9. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.

Set during the Korean War (1950 – 1953), this true story of a little horse who became a marine and the only animal to officially hold military rank, is heartwarming and informative. Marines found an abandoned little horse and adopted him to haul heavy ammunition uphill during the Korean conflict. The horse, named Reckless, loved to eat, and she loved her marines, who in turn adored and respected Reckless. The illustrations reflect the larger than life aspect of the little horse with an endearing personality and true grit. Recommended for readers ages 6-10. (DLN) 

Book coverCirrone, Dorian. 2017. The First Last Day. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 240pp. $7.99 (paper). ISBN 978-1-48-145814-6.

Summer at the Jersey shore has been wonderful for Haleigh and her friend Kevin. But should a ideal last day at the beach repeat itself? Middle school readers may grapple with this question as the last day constantly repeats itself because of a picture Haleigh paints with a set of mysterious paints. The time loop fantasy is credible because of the relationships among friends and family, and the believable characters of Haleigh and Kevin who develop as individuals throughout the story. (DLN) 


Book coverLittman, Sarah Darer. 2017. Fairest of them All. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 224pp. $7.99 (paper). ISBN 978-1-48-145129-1.

Aria Thibault is in middle school and dreams of becoming a fashion designer. However, her parents are overprotective and absolutely refuse to let her work with anything sharp, including needles. Set in New York City, readers, ages 8 – 12 who know the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, will appreciate the names of the characters and understand one of the more dominant conflicts of person v. person, or Aria v. her parents. It is somewhat difficult to believe the setting is New York City rather than “a long time ago in a distant land.” However, given the curse of Sleeping Beauty, readers will understand the primary fear of Aria’s parents: they do not want sharp objects near their daughter. This anxiety generates multiple conflicts because Aria wants to be a fashion designer and for this to happen she needs to work with sharp sewing needles. The conflicts of person v. person, person v. self, and person v. society and themes of friendship, family, ambition, greed, and deceit propel a plot middle school readers with an interest in extended fairy tales and the fashion industry will enjoy. (DLN) 

Book coverAvi. 2017. The player king. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). $16.99. 208pp. ISBN 978-1-48-143768-4.

The year is 1486 and in England Henry VII sits on the throne. However, nefarious acts of Brother Simonds, the Earl of Lincoln, and Viscount Lovell locate a young kitchen boy, Lambert Simnel, and purchase him. Brother Simonds transforms the boy and Lambert becomes an imposter, a pawn to reassert the House of York’s claim to the throne. Told from Lambert’s point of view, readers 8 – 12 and beyond, will discover a snapshot of deceit, greed, and power in 15th century England. Hopefully young adults, teachers, and caregivers will also read beyond the text to discover more about Henry VII and other kings and queens of England. (DLN) 

Book coverLee, Suzy. 2017. Lines. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-45-215665-1.

Although this wordless picture book is recommended for young readers, ages 4 – 6, it can also be used in any art class or children’s literature course because of the primary focus on the influence of line and color in telling a story. Suzy Lee, also author of Wave (2008), and Shadow (2010), is a highly talented author with a talent in creating books that stimulate critical and creative thinking and conversations among all readers. (DLN) 


Book coverGaiman, Neil. 2017. Cinnamon. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperCollins). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-239961-8. Illustrated by Divya Srinivasan. 

Cinnamon is a princess living “a long time ago, in a small hot country,” with eyes looking like pearls, indicating she cannot see -- she is blind. She also does not talk. Her father and mother, the Rajah and Rani, offer great rewards to anyone who can get Cinnamon to talk. All human efforts fail, but a wise talking tiger succeeds. The ending may surprise readers of all ages, but everyone will understand the wisdom of the tiger and Cinnamon.  Multiple themes dominate the story including love, perseverance, hope, fear, pain, kindness, and cynicism (subtle, but recognizable in an aging aunt). Conflicts of person v. self, person v. person, and person v. society are also evident: Cinnamon against herself, Cinnamon against her parents, and Cinnamon/tiger against society. While the tale is serious, readers will also find humor and wit in the text, e.g. “Can no one get that woman (the aunt) to stop talking?” And the tiger responds, “Easier to stop ‘em than start ‘em…… and he dealt with the matter.” Delightful! (DLN)

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Lehrhaupt, Adam. 2017. I Don’t Draw, I Color! Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-146275-4. Illustrated by Felicita Sala.

According to Adam Lehrhaupt, color and line evoke different emotions; red suggests anger, yellow reflects happiness, blue prompts feelings of sadness, jagged black lines are scary, and blues with greens, yellows and a dash of red illustrate life. However, color may also be contextualized, e.g., brides in Japan traditional wear a white wedding dress/kimono, but then change into something red for “good luck” for the reception. While this is not the purpose of this book, readers, art teachers and students of picture storybooks can compare the emotions equated with different colors in the book with illustrations in children’s literature and other works of art. (DLN) 

Book coverBauer, Marion Dane. 2017. Winter Dance. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-431334-7. Illustrated by Richard Jones.

The animals, specifically, the woolly caterpillar, the turtle, bats, the squirrel, geese, the snowshoe hare, and a great black bear, all have different preparations for the imminent winter. But the preparations are not suitable for the red fox because foxes do not hibernate or change color or leave their habitat during the winter. Young readers can learn about different animals’ habitats as they prepare for winter, but they also can celebrate the season and dance with the red foxes. (DLN) 

Book coverJenkins, Steve. 2017. Trickiest! 19 Sneaky Animals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-1-32-884195-7.

The torn and cut colorful paper collages complement the information about 19 animals with interesting characteristics that keep them alive. Augmenting the description of the defenses of the animals are maps identifying their locations in the world. Also, the size of each animal as compared to an adult human or human hand is stated at the bottom of each page. A glossary and bibliography provide a satisfying ending to the informational book, but copy editors should correct grammatical errors, e.g., “an good,” is incorrect (p. 34). (DLN)


Book coverWhite, E. B. 2006. Charlotte’s Web. HarperCollins Publishers. 192pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-06-112495-2. Illustrated by Garth Williams.

HarperCollins Publishers reissued the classics listed above in 2017. They are books every young adult should read and if possible, purchase to read over and over again. All are captivating in different ways with conflicts, characters, themes, and settings readers will remember forever. All school and public libraries should check their shelves and replace the worn titles of each book with newer, fresher, and more appealing copies published by Harper in 2017. (DLN)



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Spiro, Ruth. 2017. Baby Loves Quantum Physics! (Baby loves science). Charlesbridge. 20pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089769-3. Illustrated by Irene Chan.

Caregivers, parents, and youngsters under the age of two will need to answer an important question when reading this delightful introduction to quantum physics: can a cat be awake and asleep at the same time? Does something, such as a cat, change by observing it? As with Baby Loves Thermo-dynamics! the story encourages scientific inquiry and promotes the curiosity amongst all readers. (DLN)


Book coverSpiro, Ruth. 2017. Baby Loves Thermo-Dynamics! (Baby loves science). Charlesbridge. 20pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089768-6. Illustrated by Irene Chan.

Caregivers, teachers, and very young readers under the age of two will learn that all energy, including the energy in Baby, is derived from the sun. Thermodynamics, the science of energy and heat, is explored in understandable terms as energy flows from the sun to an apple to Baby. (DLN)



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Yolen, Jane. 2017. Once There was a Story: Tales from Around the World, Perfect for Sharing. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 160pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-7172-6. Illustrated by Jane Dyer.

This collection includes tales from numerous countries around the world. Jane Yolen also contributed her retellings of Rosechild and The Sow, the Mare, and the Cow. Other specific contributors include retellings by Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, although readers should consider the research of Valerie Paradiz when reading the tales attributed to the Grimm brothers. In Clever Maids: The Secret History of the Grimm Fairy Tales, she states, “the Brothers Grimm selected, compiled and edited stories they gathered from many different collaborators” (p. xi). In fact, The Bremen Town Musicians this anthology credits to the Brothers Grimm is actually a retelling by the von Hauthausen sisters (p.137). While the tales reflect stories from around the globe, readers should use the morals stated after each tale as a springboard for further discussion about their various themes and messages. Stories in this collection are split into three categories; homey tales, the very best beast tales, and tales of magic makers. This collection is an asset to all classrooms, libraries, and bedside reading tables because of the diversity and value of folktales. (DLN)


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Jenkins, Steve. 2017. Deadliest! 20 Dangerous Animals. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 40pp. $5.99 (paper). ISBN 978-1-328-84170-4.

Among the 20 deadly animals are the puffer fish, giant silk moth caterpillar, and the Komodo dragon. Information about each animal is complemented by statistics regarding human deaths caused by each creature, a glossary, and a bibliography. Readers may be surprised as they learn more about these animals, including the deadliest of them all – the mosquito. (DLN) 


Book coverSimler, Isabelle. 2017. Plume. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 42pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5492-6.E

Readers of all ages will enjoy the conclusion when they discover who the collector of the beautiful, colorful feathers of birds mentioned in the book is. Prior to reading, an appropriate question to ask is “who might collect feathers?” Each feather is illustrated next to the bird who claims it. If readers are observant, they may notice clues that point to the feather collector’s identity. (DLN)


Book coverSwenson, Jamie A. 2017. Woof & Quack in Winter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (HMH Books for Young Readers) 32pp. $3.99 (paper). ISBN 978-0-544-95902-6. Illustrated by Ryan Sias 

Readers such as the titles above include simple words, engaging rhymes, and familiar situations like friendship and winter. Youngsters will enjoy Swenson’s delightful characters as they become more proficient readers. (DLN)



Book coverHall, Michael. 2017. Little i. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-238300-6.

The alphabet is alive as Little i searches for the dot on the “i” because without the dot, it looks like the number one. The alphabet, as well as different kinds of punctuation, contribute to Little i’s quest to find its dot. Little i is clever and transforms from a letter to a word at the end of the journey. Readers will recognize this change and appreciate the value of letters as they spell their way through the book. (DLN) 



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Schaefer, Lola M. 2017. Hidden Dangers: Seek and Find 13 of the World’s Deadliest Animals. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-3429-1. Illustrated by Tymn Armstrong.

Readers are challenged to search for the number of deadly animals on each page as they learn more information about each creature. Endnotes present ideas about how readers can be prepared if they should encounter any deadly animal. Anyone confused by the distinction between poison and venom will discover the explanation at the end of this interesting book. (DLN) 


Book coverNaumann-Villemin, Christine. 2017. When a Wolf is Hungry. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 34pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5482-7. Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo.

Edmond Bigsnout craves a meal of urban rabbit, but he lives in the country. However, he is determined and travels to the city to catch dinner. This task is not as easy as expected, because the rabbit has many neighbors with different needs and Edmond is reluctantly kind to them all. Readers will celebrate Edmond’s transformation when he eventually changes from a carnivore to a vegetarian. (DLN)



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Veirs, Laura. 2018. Libba: the Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotton. Chronicle Books. 40pp. $17.99.  ISBN 978-1-4521-4857-1. Illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

Born in North Carolina around 1893, Elizabeth, or Libba, heard music everywhere. Around the age of eleven, she wrote the famous folk song, “Freight Train.”  However fame did not come early for Libba because she needed to work. One day, she met Ruth Crawford Seeger and her life changed forever. This inspiring biography of Elizabeth Cotton recognizes the challenges she faced, including negotiating a right-handed guitar as a left handed person, like playing the guitar upside and backwards, as she eventually became recognized as a talented folk musician. (DLN) 

Book coverRiordan, Rick. 2017.  The Percy Jackson Coloring Book. Disney (Disney-Hyperion). 96pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-148478779-3.  Artwork by Keith Robinson. Cover design by SJI Associates and Joann Hill.

Readers and artists familiar with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will want to add this to their coloring book collections.  Artists have to provide their own colors, but all coloring aficionados understand the value of coloring books and this one will not disappoint fans of the Olympians or Percy Jackson. (DLN)



Book coverReef, Catherine. 2017. Victoria: Portrait of a Queen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 256pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-54-471614-8.

Victoria reigned as Queen of England for 63 years; only the current Queen Elizabeth II exceeds Victoria’s tenure on the throne. Victoria was a formidable woman, and readers 12 and older will be captivated by this informational book. Facts are accurate, but equally as important, readers will become familiar with Victoria’s ambitions, loves, and challenges. For example, she adored Prime Minister Disraeli because he flattered her and Victoria loved the positive attention. On the other hand, she loathed Prime Minister Gladstone because he “lectured” the queen and she hated the lectures. Readers too, might despise constant lecturing. This is a fascinating reflection on the Victorian Era, a period of substantial change, enlightenment, and sorrow. (DLN) 

Book coverHawkins, Rachel. 2016. Journey’s End. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-39-916960-1.

Set in Scotland by the sea, mysteries surround the mystical, magical, and profoundly frightening fog bank off the coast of a village called Journey’s End. Two new-found friends, one US-American and the other Scottish, are resolved to solve the mystery and to keep the Boundary, the name of the mysterious and nefarious fog bank from moving to shore. The story is fantastical, but because fog is frightening, the author is able to suspend disbelief with credible characters and interesting language, including a bit of Scottish slang and jargon. (DLN) 

Book coverNazemian, Abdi. 2017. The Authentics. HarperCollins (Balzer + Bray). 288pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-248646-2.

Iranian-American Daria Esfandyar, age fifteen, is exceptionally proud of her heritage. Her closest friends, Kurt, Joy, and Caroline are equally proud of their heritages and all four resist the temptation to conform to the standards of the “popular” kids in school. But as the plot unfolds, multiple conflicts develop, including a revelation about Daria’s birth parents. Themes of family, identity, tradition, and the value of respecting new customs dominate this humorous, thought-provoking novel for teens of all backgrounds. (DLN)


Book coverOakes, Colleen. 2017. War of the Cards: the Final Book in the Queen of Hearts Trilogy. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 352pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-240979-9.

Even if readers have not read the two books preceding War of the Cards, they will be able to understand the conflicts and themes in the final installment of the Queen of Hearts trilogy. Dinah is fighting for her life, her kingdom, and the future of both. Fans of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland will enjoy the pastiches in War of the Cards and will recognize a cameo appearance of Lewis Carroll if they read carefully. (DLN) 


Book coverFriedman, Robin. 2017. The Importance of Wings. Charlesbridge. 176pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089331-2.

Readers in grades 5-8 struggling with issues of self-confidence, loss, identity, friendship, and immigration may be able to relate to the main character, Roxanne and her new friend Liat. Set in New York City in the 1980s, readers may not identify with the all aspects of the 1980s scattered throughout the books, but they may understand Roxanne’s desire as an Israeli-American to fit in with her all-American classmates. The tragic elements are heartbreaking, such as the fire destroying Liat’s house, but the penultimate theme is hope. (DLN) 

Midnight JewelMead, Richelle. 2017. Midnight Jewel (A Glittering Court Novel). Penguin Random House (Razorbill). 416pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-59-514843-8.

Older teenage readers and adults passionate about romance novels with strong, inquisitive, intelligent, daring, and of course, impeccably beautiful women, will adore Midnight Jewel and the protagonist, Mirabel, or Mira. Unlike the other girls in the Glittering Court, Mira is not interested in a life of luxury, she wants to be free, and this means she must find a way to earn off her marriage contract. When she meets Grant Elliot, sparks eventually fly between them and Mira is faced with a myriad of internal and external conflicts, love, yes, but also rebellion developing around her. (DLN) 


Book coverVegas, Peter. 2017. The Iron Tomb (Pyramid Hunters). Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 320pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-48-144578-8.

Sam Force, age 13, is spending yet another summer vacation with his Uncle Jasper, an Egyptologist, in Cairo. Running from one adventure and problem to another, Sam becomes a daring sleuth as he tries to find his missing uncle. With the help of two friends, Mary and Hadi, Sam races to locate his uncle before it is too late. Although it is unlikely a 13-year-old would be able to solve the mysteries in the book, fans of action-packed adventures will devour this story. (DLN)


Book coverKrishnaswami, Uma. 2017. Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh. Lee & Low Books, Inc. (Tu Books). 288pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-1-60-060261-0.

Maria, age 9, and her younger brother are “half and half,” meaning they have a father from India (Punjabi) and a mother from Mexico. Maria’s best friend, Connie, is also part Punjabi and Mexican, not an unusual combination in Yuba City, California during World War II. This profoundly heart wrenching novel reveals a historical period in the United States with unjust laws, racism, and sexism. For example, immigrants from India could not become citizens or own land. This means Maria’s father could not own their farm and neither could her mother because the law stated “she’d given up her right to own land when she married Papi” (p. 258). But the story is more than land ownership, it is about a teacher forming a girls’ softball team and the challenges facing players and their coach during the war. The story is more than a girls’ softball team, it is also about friendship, family, strength, and hope. (DLN) 

Book coverNam, Jeong-hee. 2017. Lion, King, and Coin. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 36pp. $10.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285475-9. Illustrated by Lucia Sforza.

The development of the world’s first coin is conveyed through the eyes of Laos, a young boy living in Turkey near the Pactolus River. Embedded in the story is the tale of King Midas, his folly and eventual recovery from his “golden touch.” Although this is a picture book, readers of all ages can learn about the invention of the coin, the geography of Sardis (the setting of the story), key terms and concepts, precursors to money, and an approximate timeline of events about currency. (DLN) 

Book coverJo, Eun-jeong. 2017. Grandfather Whisker’s Table. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 36pp. $10.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285474-2. Illustrated by Bimba Landmann.

Readers  of all ages will learn about the first known bank as they follow Enzo and his father through the Palio di Siena festival (Italy). Grandfather Whisker loans and exchanges money for the festival, but he also agrees to hold a toy Enzo buys for his brother. Grandfather Whisker gives Enzo a receipt for the toy, but the challenge is to keep the receipt safe and to not lose it during the festivities. The story is fiction, but based on facts about the first banks and the city of Siena. Endnotes explain the first banks, Siena, key terms, different currencies, and a timeline of events in the history of Western banking. (DLN) 

Book coverCronin, Doreen. 2017. Gimme Shelter: Misadventures and Misinformation (The Chicken Squad). Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 128pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440571-4. Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.

Siblings Sugar, Dirt, Sweetie, and Poppy are building a storm shelter, which becomes an archaeological excavation site when Poppy discovers a bone. Several (mis)adventures later, the hole becomes a swimming pool. While the conflicts are humorous, the strength of the story is the vocabulary. Cronin’s word choice propels and enriches the themes of sibling affection, family, friends, and perseverance. Readers will also enjoy the archaeological aspects of the book and may learn something about excavation and recording artifacts on a grid. (DLN) 

Book coverLisle, Janet Taylor. 2017/2003. The crying rocks. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books). 208pp. $10.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-7976-9. First published in 2003.

Thirteen-year-old Joelle knows she is adopted but has no idea about her background. She is tall with a dark complexion and does not believe her Aunt’s explanation that she came from Chicago on a freight train. Joelle and her friend Carlos visit the Crying Rocks, where ghosts of Narragansett children cry for their lost mothers. The story is a celebration of culture, history, and identity whose readers are sure to appreciate the mystery and humor propelling the plot. (DLN) 

Book coverReyhner, Jon, & Eder, Jeanne. 2017. American Indian Education, 2nd ed.:  A History. University of Oklahoma Press. 408pp. $29.95 (paper). ISBN 978-0-8061-5776-4.

The first edition, published in 2004, presented an historical overview of American Indian education. With additional research, autobiographies, and books about boarding schools for Native American children and young adults, this second edition provides essential new knowledge on the topic. Divided into twelve chapters, the text walks readers through education of Indigenous people in the United States prior to the effects of colonialism. It is an essential resource for all stakeholders in education, but a critical read for everyone involved with Native Americans in any capacity. (DLN) 

Book coverGallo, Tina. 2018. Colors of love (Crayola). Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 26pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-53-441113-5. Illustrated by Tony Neal.

Canary yellow, sky blue, yellow orange, jungle green, brick red, turquoise blue, royal purple, rose starbursts, bright white, midnight blue. All of these are the colors of the sunlight, a kitchen, a school bus, grass, buildings, the sky, fireworks, and stars shining in an evening sky. The world view of a youngster is uplifting and joyful because the child loves each part of the day. Children ages 1-4 will appreciate the positive perspectives of the youngster and the colors of love. (DLN) 

Book coverPaterson, John. 2018. I am the Rain. Dawn Publications. 32pp. $15.60. ISBN 978-1-58-469616-2.

Readers, ages 5-8, will appreciate the lyrical text and complementing illustrations about the water cycle. Endnotes present the water cycle, a note from the author, statements about the science of water, questions caregivers may want to ask children, observations and investigations, and ideas about caring for water. (DLN)




Book coverAngus, Laurie Ellen. 2018. Paddle Perch Climb: Bird Feet are Neat. Dawn Publications. 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58-469614-8.

The feet of birds contribute to their eating skills. All feet – webbing between toes, slender legs and toes, strong feet and legs, toes with claws, small flexible toes, powerful feet with sharp talons – contribute to different eating habits. Endnotes elaborate on each bird in the informational text: mute swans, the great blue heron, a greater roadrunner, red-bellied woodpeckers, northern cardinals, spotted towhees, and a great horned owl. Additional facts about birds, their habitat, feet, and beaks enhance the informational text and illustrations. For readers ages 4-8. (DLN) 

Book coverNaberhaus, Sarvinder. 2017. Lines. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 30pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-48-149074-0. Illustrated by Melinda Beck.

Lines, squares, circles go round, up, down, all around town. The illustrations may be a challenge for youngsters, ages 1-3, to grasp with clarity, but readers 3 and older, will appreciate the complexity of lines creating squares, circles, triangle, and other geometric designs. (DLN)



Book coverBillet, Marion. 2017. Noisy Farm: My First Sound Book. Scholastic (Cartwheel books). 16pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-33-813220-5.

Youngsters, ages 1-4, can learn to identify six types of farm animals and the sounds they make: roosters, cows, ducks, pigs, sheep, and horses. Children may enjoy replicating the sounds as they become familiar with each animal. Since the book is interactive, readers are required to pay attention to the sounds created by pressing the sound buttons for each animal. (DLN) 



Book coverColandro, Lucille. 2017. There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat! Scholastic (Cartwheel Books). 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-33-813580-0. Illustrated by Jared D. Lee.

As with There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly, the verses in There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bat rhyme in a similar format. “There was an old lady who swallowed a bat. I don’t know why she swallowed a bat. Imagine that” (p. 3). The verses and complementing illustrations are humorous, although at times they border on the ghoulish and discourteous, e.g., “There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.  What do you think?  Now she’s so fat” (p. 7). Other books in the series include, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed some Snow, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Shell, There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Bell, etc. For preschool readers and older. (DLN) 

Book coverDisney Book Group. 2017. Disney Classics Board Book & CD Treasury Box. Disney (Disney Press). 18pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-36-800276-9. Illustrated by Disney Storybook Art Team.

Children, ages 1-4, and their caregivers will enjoy three Disney board book with memorable characters such as Scamp from Lady and the Tramp, Bambi and other forest friends from Bambi, and Alice from Alice in Wonderland. The colors in each book are vibrant and will capture and maintain the reader’s attention. (DLN)



Book coverMiller, Sara. 2018. Disney: My ABCs. Disney Press (Disney/Pixar). 16pp. $9.99. ISBN: 978-136801397-0. Illustrated by Jerrod Maruyama. Designed by Scott Petrower.  

Youngsters, ages 3 months and up, may become familiar with the ABCs through Disney characters, and short phrases behind each flap. For example, Aa is represented by Abu who ate all the apples, Dd is Donald Duck falling down after kicked by a donkey, and Mm is Mickey making marks on a map. The style is designed for little hands – a soft cover, large print, and board flaps not easily torn or worn. Colors of all illustrations are typical of Disney products, vibrant, bold and easily recognizable, such as sky blue, natural browns, purple, sun yellow, pink, green, black, red, and lime green. (DLN) 

Book coverMcCourt, Lisa. 2017. It's Time for School, Stinky Face. Scholastic (Cartwheel Books, Board Book). 32pp. $6.99. ISBN: 978-1-338-13582-4.  Illustrated by Cyd Moore.

Stinky Face does not want to go to school and asks his mother a number of sequential "what if" questions, procrastinating the inevitable. The question and answer conversation between Stinky Face and his mother characterizes a student reluctant to go to school and a wise, level-headed mother. A more suitable format may be the original picture storybook rather than this board book edition. (DLN)


Book coverDisney Book Group. 2017. Disney: 365 Bedtime Stories. Disney (Disney Press). 368pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-36-801821-0. Illustrated by Disney Storybook Art Team.

Stories by multiple authors reflecting a variety of characters, themes, settings, and plots from multiple Disney and Pixar movies are aligned with different days of the year, from January 1 to December 31. The first short story is based on 101 Dalmations. Subsequent vignettes include Winnie the Pooh, Toy Story, Aladdin, Mickey and Friends, The Lion King, Atlantis the Lost Empire, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Mulan, Finding Nemo, Robin Hood, A Bug’s Life, Alice in Wonderland, The Great Mouse Detective, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, Monsters, Inc., Cinderella, Dumbo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Princess Frog, Cars, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Lilo and Stitch, Lady and the Tramp, Bambi, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Wreck-it Ralph, The Rescuers, Brother Bear, The Aristocats, Tangled, Treasure Planet, Big Hero 6, Pocahontas, Brave, Oliver & Company, The Princess and the Frog, The Incredibles, The Sword in the Stone, Treasure Planet, The Fox and the Hound, Inside Out, The Emperor’s New Groove,  Hercules, Up, and Mickey’s Christmas Carol. The one page stories are delightful read-alouds, or easily read silently in less than 10 minutes. Perfect bedtime reading for Disney fans of all ages. (DLN) 

Book coverModerow, Hannah. 2017. Lily’s Mountain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-497800-3.

Two experienced hikers disappeared after they summited the Mendenhall Towers in Alaska.  Lily’s father disappeared while climbing Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, but she is convinced he is alive. With her sister and with her mother’s consent, Lily heads to Denali. The action packed adventure story is realistic because climbers, even experienced alpinist, disappear while hiking historic towers and mountains. It is incredible, however, how Lily’s mother allows a twelve-year-old and her older sister to search for their father in such a formidable environment. To Lily’s mother’s credit, she did not know Lily and her sister, Sophie, planned to hike Denali to search for their father. Lily’s father, like Marc-Andre Leclerc and Ryan Johnson, is lost, but the family perseveres. (DLN) 

Book coverVegas, Peter. 2017. Pyramid Hunters: Bones of the Sun God. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin).  416pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-144582-5.

As with the first book in the series, the plot in Bones of the Sun God, is propelled by multiple conflicts: person v. person and person v. society. Sam is convinced his parents are alive. With the help of his friend, Mary, Sam experiences multiple adventures in Belize as the two follow clues they hope will lead them to his mother and father. Nefarious characters contribute to the thrilling adventures, including Jerry, Felix, Ramos, the Scar-Faced Man, and a handful of bullies at his school in the States. Readers, ages 10–15, with a penchant for fast action and thrilling adventures will appreciate the sequel to The Iron Tomb. (DLN) 

Book coverEnglish, Karen. 2017. It all comes down to this. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books).  368pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-483957-1.

It is 1965, which is a troubling time for African Americans living anywhere in the United States. Sophie, a twelve-year-old girl of mixed race living in Los Angeles, experiences a plethora of discriminatory acts. Even though Sophie and her family are upper-middle class, her primarily white neighbors are generally not welcoming. Sophie is told she cannot swim in her neighbor’s pool, although her white friend Jennifer is welcome. Life is extremely complicated, but Sophie and her family persevere and their bonds are strengthened. Readers can ask themselves multiple questions as they vicariously experience one episode after another of racial discrimination and profiling. (DLN) 

Book coverSolomon, Rachel Lynn. 2018. You’ll Miss Me when I’m Gone. Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse). 384pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-1-9773-2.

Huntington’s disease is rare and incurable. It is an autosomal dominant disorder and a person needs only one copy of the defective gene to develop the disorder (p. 20). Adina and Tovah, eighteen-year-old twins, are extremely different people, one a viola prodigy, the other with sights to enroll at Johns Hopkins and eventually attend medical school. However, their mother has Huntington’s and after testing, one of the twins is also diagnosed with the debilitating disorder.  Told in the alternate perspectives of Adina and Tovah, readers follow the conflicts between the sisters, themselves, and society, including Adina’s infatuation with her viola instructor. The plot, themes, characterizations, settings are credible, and the conclusions are heart rending. (DLN) 


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 Henson, Heather. 2017. The Whole Sky. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-44-241405-1.

Horse enthusiasts and other readers, ages 9–14, interested in the origins and effects of mysterious illnesses, will be captivated by the unveiling of the cause of death of unborn foals at Shaughnessy, a thoroughbred broodmare farm in Kentucky. Sky has a skill of communicating with horses; she is a horse whisperer. However, foals are dying and she needs to solve this mystery. She is not without problems of her own: her mother died of cancer and her father may be lost to alcoholism. The conflicts and dynamics among horses and people, especially Sky, are riveting and reveal talents going beyond communicating with animals. (DLN) 

Book coverCarle, Eric. 2017. The Very Eric Carle Treasury. Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 152pp. $35.00. ISBN 978-1-52-473992-8.

Fans of Eric Carle will recognize the four stories included in the treasury, The Very Busy Spider, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, and The Very Lonely Firefly. Children, ages 1–6, may find the collection to be too heavy for their small hands, but caregivers and teachers can easily hold the book and read to their youngsters. Eric Carle shares a note to all readers explaining the ideas behind each story, and each book includes a complementing activity, recipe, and project. For example, a spider web maze activity, a recipe for making edible spiders, and a spider web weaving project with yarn follow the first book in the collection, The Very Busy Spider. Given the titles of the collection, readers should be able to guess why the book has its title, The Very Eric Carle Treasury. (DLN) 

Book coverBeebe, Katy. 2017. Nile crossing. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 34pp. $18.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285425-4. Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport.

Readers of all ages will appreciate the sequence of events of Khepri’s first day of school in the Egyptian New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE). Khepri, the son of an Egyptian fisherman, experiences the apprehensions and anxieties of the first day of school. However, readers will observe the differences, an if not, caregivers/teachers can ask critical questions, e.g., why is Khepri’s cat disappointed when the father and son leave their house without nets? Illustrations convey the time of day, dark blue, black colors of the morning and the trepidation of Khepri to the bright illuminating colors of yellow, bright green, suggesting the promising future of a young Egyptian learning to read. (DLN) 

Book coverTak, Bibi Dumon. 2018. Scout’s heaven. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $15.00. ISBN 978-0-80-285500-8. Illustrated by Annemarie van Haeringen.

Color is the dominant element in conveying the transition from despair, sadness, grief, and bewilderment to a peaceful reconciliation and acceptance of death. Anyone of any age with experience in the passing of a beloved pet will understand the questions Little Brother asks when the family pet dog, Scout, dies. The conclusion may prompt multiple opportunities for readers to discuss dying, death, and what may happen next. (DLN) 

Turner, Megan Whalen. 2017. A Queen’s Thief: Thick as Thieves. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books).384pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256824-3.

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Although Kamet is enslaved, he is literate and serves as a secretary to his master, Nahuseresh. When Laela, a slave and matron of the girls in Nahusereh’s household, tells Kamet their master is dead, he seizes the opportunity to leave the Mede Empire. An Anatolian soldier emerges and offers the opportunity and means to leave Mede for Attolia, a country accessible through multiple dangerous routes. Multiple conflicts propel the plot, and although Kamet does not want his journey to end in Attolia, he lands in this foreign country. Even if young readers have not read the previous books in the series, they will quickly follow the plot and conflicts. Turner adeptly suspends disbelief by creating credible settings and characters, and the adventures of Kamet and his travel companion reflect the good and the evil of the fantastical eras, countries, and people of the world in the Queen’s Thief. (DLN) 

Book coverNye, Naomi Shihab. 2018. Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners. HarperCollins (Greenwillow Books). 208pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-269184-2.

In this book, over ninety poems are presented in three sections: messages, voices in the air, and more worlds. Each section includes tributes to inspiring, hopeful voices and poems from the past and present. The poems, or voices, represent the world. For example, the author includes places and things such as the light of Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks, Alaska, parks, such as Big Bend National Park, songbooks, color cocoons, etc. Biographical notes inform readers/listeners of all ages of the different voices mentioned in the poetry collection, such as Abraham Lincoln, Maya Angelou, Lucille Clifton, and Leo Kottke. An index of first lines and acknowledgement are additional valuable references. (DLN) 

Book coverFoley, Greg. 2018. Kat Writes a Song. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 40pp. $14.99. ISBN  978-1-53-440680-3.

Because readers and musicians see the “Amazing Song to Make Things Better” music and lyrics by KAT before the first sentences of the story, youngsters, ages 4–8, will anticipate the composing of a tune. Kat is sad because of the gray, rainy day, and decides to compose a song to make her feel better. After multiple drafts, her composition, “Amazing Song to Make Things Better,” is finished. When the rain stops, Kat wonders if her amazing song changed the weather. She also wonders if her song changed Dog’s behavior, helped Turtle find his lost sock, and contributed to Bunny’s transformation from sad to happy. Kat also develops doubts about the effect of her song until the quartet of Dog, Turtle, Bunny, and Bird perform her Amazing Song to Make Things Better. Bold lines and muted colors convey the sadness, happiness, and surprises embedded in the plot and Kat’s amazing song. Meow! Meow! Meow – meow – meow!  with  a Tweet! Tweet! Tweet – tweet – tweet. (DLN) 

Book coverRylant, Cynthia. 2018. The Lighthouse Family: The Bear. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 48pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-48-146028-6. Illustrated by Preston McDaniels.

Winter is harsh for the Lighthouse family of Pandora, Seabold, Whistler, Lila, and Tiny. When spring finally arrives, the children, Whistler, Lila, and Tiny, convince Pandora and Seabold to allow them to take a walk, but only for an hour. True to the plots and events of other books in the series, The Storm, The Whale, The Eagle, The Turtle, The Octopus, The Otter, and The Sea Lion, the stroll becomes an adventure. Life is always an adventure for the Lighthouse children. While walking, the children discover the winter den of a hibernating bear who eventually wakes up and befriends the entire Lighthouse family. Youngsters ages 5 – 10 will enjoy the familiar lighthouse setting and the seasons reflected in the sequence of events.  Themes of family, friends, and the value and rewards of curiosity are prevalent throughout the characterizations of Bear, Pandora, Seabold, Whistler, Lila, and Tiny. (DLN) 

Book coverWeatherford, Carole Boston. 2018. How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147206-7. Illustrated by Frank Morrison.

Art rendered in oil on canvas and illustration board, complements each lyrical verse of the story of the hymn, Amazing Grace, by John Newman. When John is a sailor on a ship in stormy weather, the pictures are dark brown, dirty yellow, and black. When John is sitting with his fiancé the illustrations are bright green and yellow, chestnut brown, deep red, and various blue hues. The visual representations of the transformation of rowdy sailor and slaver to a minister of God and abolitionist are breathtaking. Also, the visual record of the transport of the hymn from England to the continental United States is striking and may prompt discussions about slavery, the Civil War, the Trail of Tears, and President Obama’s singing of Amazing Grace at the funeral of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, a pastor “who understood Grace,” but was killed along with eight others in a 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. (DLN) 

Book coverDisney Storybook Art Team. 2017. Bedtime Storybook Library. Disney (Disney Press). 144pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-36-801067-2.

Disney fans will appreciate the six books in this collection: Cinderella: A nighttime stroll (Calliope Glass), Mowgli's great story (Suzanne Francis), Mickey’s slumber party (Kate Ritchey), Finding Nemo: Night games (Liz Rudnick), The big hero 6: Nighttime of fires (Gail Herman), and Frozen: A royal sleepover. The majority of the books are connected to sleep or lack thereof: a mouse in Cinderella’s castle is a chronic sleepwalker until she finds the perfect cheese, Mickey hosts a slumber party, Nemo and his father explore the sea at night, Hiro of the Big Hero 6 cannot sleep until he completes a project; and Anna, Elsa, and friends have an enjoyable sleepover. (DLN) 

Book coverSt. Anthony, Jane. 2018. Isabelle Day Refused to Die of a Broken Heart. University of Minnesota Press. 152pp. $9.95 (paper). ISBN 978-0-81-669922-3.

Readers, ages 10 and up, including adults, will be moved by Isabelle Day’s journey from a grieving eighth grader to a young adult refusing to wallow in misery and sadness. Isabelle and her mother moved from a brick three-story house in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a stucco duplex in Minneapolis, Minnesota after her father died. Landladies and sisters Miss Flora and Miss Dora live in the other half of the duplex and are exceptionally attentive to Isabelle. At times, Isabelle believes they are too attentive. Gradually, with time, Isabelle understands others have also suffered immense losses and they still move forward. Isabelle, slowly moves beyond overwhelming sorrow to life with sad memories, but also with promise. The setting may be in the 1960’s, but the themes of loss, healing, sorrow, friendship, family, and hope are applicable in the 21st century. (DLN) 

Book coverJeter, Derek with Paul Mantell. 2018. Curveball. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Books). 176pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440989-7.

Derek is spending the summer with his grandparents in Greenwood Lake, New Jersey. He is looking forward to a visit from one of his best friends, Dave, and taking him to his first major league baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Derek thought Dave’s visit would coincide with the family outing to a Yankees game, but it does not. Determined to take Dave to a game, Derek works multiple jobs and long hours to earn the money for tickets. Derek also is invited to play with a baseball team playing near the Yankee Stadium. Because of his exceptional performance playing on the team, he is faced with an uncomfortable challenge. Aspiring professional baseball players and youngsters, ages 8 – 12, who love the game, will appreciate Derek’s efforts to see a second Yankees game. All readers should value the themes of family, friendship, hard-work, determination, and making the “right” decision. (DLN) 

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Spiro, Ruth. 2018. Baby Loves Gravity. Charlesbridge. 22pp. $8.99 (Board book). ISBN 978-1-58-089836-2. Illustrated by Irene Chan.

The colorful illustrations are a comical complement to baby’s lessons about gravity. For example,a puppy grabs a fallen noodle from the child’s hands! The noodle falls because of gravity. Comparisons between baby and puppy, the earth, moon, and sun, and the child and elephant slide in the park illustrate the concept of gravity in a way for all readers will understand. (DLN)




Book coverStrack, Emma. 2018. What’s the Difference? 40+ Pairs of the Seemingly Similar. Chronicle Books. 124pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-45-216101-3. Illustrations by Guillaume Plantevin.

The seemingly similar pairs are divided into six sections: animals, food & drink, geography, fashion, human body, and city. Animals paired include viper – garter snake, owl – horned owl, grasshopper – cricket, rabbit – hare, camel – dromedary, deer – reindeer, bee – wasp, crocodile – alligator, penguin – auk, and Asian elephant – African elephant. The formal presenting of the information is consistent throughout all sections, a brief introduction of the pairing, a chart comparing the two pairs, and select information about each item. For the animals, comparisons include class, distribution, diet, size, distinguishing features, color, state (wild and/or domesticated), and lifespan. Illustrations in all sections are realistic and recognizable, e.g., the knit cap and balaclava are two distinct types of hats and the illustrations reflect the differences.  The non-fiction text includes an index, but no references or suggestions for further reading.  Also a pronunciation guide would be useful because the technical terms are not typical vocabulary for the targeted audience, readers ages 8 – 12. (DLN) 

Book coverTahe, Rose Ann & Nancy Bo Flood. 2018. First Laugh--Welcome, Baby! Charlesbridge. 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-58-089794-5. Illustrated by Jonathan Nelson.

The end notes are as interesting and compelling as the story of Baby’s first laugh, a significant event for the Navajo, or Diné. The end notes include information about the late Rose Ann Tahe, including her traditional greeting to others. Also, the authors introduce other ceremonies of families from different cultures, including China, Japan, Australia, and Nigeria. Ceremonies from specific religions are also shared, e.g., Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. Selected sources are also listed, but as stated, readers can use online search engines about welcoming infants/babies into their world. The celebration and in some cases, ceremony of a Navajo baby’s first laugh is a Navajo tradition, regardless of location, a city or Dinétah. The anticipation and careful, loving attention of parents, siblings, grandparents, and the community are shared through colorful illustrations, with baby at the center until the last full-page spread when the child is visible, but obviously a member of the community. On the previous page, Baby laughed, a significant, celebratory event among the Navajo. All readers interested in traditions of different cultures should purchase this delightful record of a baby’s first laugh for their libraries. (DLN) 

Book coverBoynton, Sandra. 2018. Here, George. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 32pp. $7.99. ISBN: 978-1-53-442964-2. Illustrated by George Booth.

The whimsical illustrations dominated by the effective application of black lines, support George’s affection for his family and his love of dancing. George, an old dog, likes to sit and sleep, and is not an active dog, until he hears music and dances until he is exhausted. His family is completely unaware of George’s passion for dancing and only observes an old dog wagging his tail, sitting, and sleeping. Yet, like George who loves his family, the family adores George as evident by the remark by the child “Come here, you sweet puppy dog!” (p. 22 unnumbered). (DLN) 

Book coverSeltzer, Eric. 2018. Arf! Buzz! Cluck!: A Rather Noisy Alphabet. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 24pp. $7.99 (Board book). ISBN 978-1-53-441297-2. Illustrated by David Creighton-Pester.

The noisy animals create a symphony of sounds from A to Z. The symphony of sounds expressed by various animals include arf, buzz, coo, growl, hoot, moo, neigh, peep, quack, squeak, and whinny. In addition to identifying letters and repeating sounds, early readers will enjoy identifying the various animals, such as a dog, bee, rooster, tiger, owl, polar bear, hyenas, pigs, a whale, and an elephant. The ​animals​ are colorful, humorous, and large enough for young eyes to identify. (DLN)


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Cronin, Doreen. 2018. Click, clack, quack to school! Simon & Schuster (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books). 40pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-441449-5. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin.

Even if young readers, ages 3 – 8, are not familiar with the previous Click Clack books, they can easily identify the characters, recognize the plot and suggest at least one theme. Duck (one of the more clever animals on Farmer Brown’s farm), brings a letter addressed to Farmer Brown from Dinkelmeyer Elementary School inviting him and all of the animals to school for the Farm Day Lunch. Farmer Brown and the animals are ecstatic, that is, until Farmer Brown tells all of the animals they must behave and cannot moo, cluck, or oink. The animals, except the meditating Duck, are devastated, as evident by their facial expressions. However, everyone, including the mice, accompanies Farmer Brown to school and it is Farmer Brown who is caught by surprise when the recess bell rings. Children can identify with the disappointment of the animals when Farmer Brown lays down his rules of behavior, and they can also relate to the excitement and activity of the school children during recess. The animals are thrilled and join the movement and sounds of the children with their stomps, clomps, claps, snaps, and hoots of delight. And Duck? Well Duck is just being himself behind the desk of the principal with a book of New Rules to his side. Farmer Brown’s old rules are just too outdated. (DLN) 

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Green, Tim & Derek Jeter. 2018. Baseball Genius: Double Play. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin). 352pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-53-440668-1.

This second book in the series of Baseball Genius will not disappoint readers ages 8 – 12 who are passionate about baseball, both professional and little league teams. The themes of honesty, loyalty, family, friends, and goal setting are dominant, as well as character developments of major league baseball players, James, JY, Yager, Jalen DeLuca, a baseball genius and talented little league player, and other friends. Readers should be able to identify the nefarious characters in the lives of JY and Jalen, such as the General Manager of the Yankees, the coach of the Reckon Rockets, and son, Chris. With multiple conflicts, including the search for Jalen’s mother, the plot moves quickly with resolutions on two fronts. JY remains a significant force with the Yankees, and Jalen contributes to winning a championship game. Hopefully, readers can look for another title in the series because Jalen’s mother appears in the last chapter; therefore, this must be the beginning of the next book. (DLN) 

Book coverCurtis, Christopher Paul. 2018. The Journey of Little Charlie. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-54-515666-0.

In addition to the conversations readers, ages 8 and older, should have about slavery in the United States and elsewhere, students can follow the growth of Charlie as a human being: a life set in miserable and forced circumstances to a young man willing to learn about others through personal contact and observations of the world around him, from South Carolina to Canada. Terrible acts of punishment and the cruel abuse of slaves are revealed as the conflicts move Charlie and his oppressor, Chap’n Buck, north to capture “runaway” slaves in Detroit and Canada. Set before the Civil War, readers will get a minds-eye view of slavery, the inhumanity of enslavement, the cruelty of slave-owners, and the desperation of everyone. (DLN) 

Book coverMcPherson, Robert S. 2017. Both Sides of the Bullpen: Navajo Trade and Posts. University of Oklahoma Press. 376pp. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-80-615745-0.

Approximately 25 black and white photographs and a colorful front jacket created by the Navajo artist, Charles Yanito complement the clearly articulated and informative descriptions of trading and trading posts among the Navajo and Ute, 1880-1940. The map included of the trading posts could be more inclusive, but readers can easily reference online sources for detailed maps.  McPherson, author of numerous informational texts about the Navajo and Ute in the Southwest United States, will not disappoint readers interested in the dynamics among primarily Anglo traders and their Native American customers during this time period. The text is highly recommended for all readers, ages 16 and older interested in the cultural attributes of Navajo, Ute, and Anglo, and specifically trading in the Southwest between 1880-1940. Comprehensive endnotes, bibliography, and books and articles are included after the extensive description of commerce, trading, and cultural attributes of the Navajo, Ute, and their Anglo traders. (DLN) 

Book coverThe Jim Henson Company. 2018. Splash and Bubbles: Shark surprise. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 24pp. $4.99.  ISBN 978-1-32-885280-9.  

Readers familiar with the PBS KIDS series will enjoy the characters Dunk, Splash, Bubbles, Denny, Zee, Maury, and Wave in a format they can read anytime. The paperbacks with stickers include facts about various fish, e.g., “Zebra bullhead sharks have stripes like zebras and big heads like bulls” (10 unnumbered). My Colorful Reef and So Many Sea Creatures are concept books; the first reinforces the colors of pink, yellow, orange, red, purple, and blue. The second reinforces the number, 1–5. The third board book encourages readers to “keep our oceans clean.” (DLN) 

Book coverRylant, Cynthia. 2018. Rosetown. Simon & Schuster (Beach Lane Books). 160pp. $16.99.  ISBN 978-1-54-331277-4.

It is 1972 in Rosetown, Indiana, a small town in rural America, and Flora has just started fourth grade. Themes of friendship, love, family, acceptance, loss, and change dominate the interactions among Flora, her friends, mother, father, various pets, and a favorite place, Wings and Chair Used Books. The lyrical prose will capture the attention of readers, ages 8–12, and because one of Flora’s new best friend is Yury, a boy from the Ukraine, the plot and conflicts will appeal to all readers. Characters, including Flora’s mother and father, are credible and realistic, for example, her parents separate in September then reconcile at the end of the school year.  Readers will also easily follow the sequence of events because each coincides with the school year, from September to the evening before the last day of school. (DLN) 

Book coverGulland, Sandra. 2018. The Game of Hope. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 384pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-42-529101-6.

Because the plot, conflicts, characters, setting, and themes are inspired by an autobiography by Hortense de Beauharnais, young adult readers, 12 and older, can be assured the descriptions of the interactions and events are fairly accurate. It is 1798 and Hortense’s mother, Josephine, is married to Napoleon Bonaparte. Her father is dead, guillotined during the Terror and this event results in a stressful and tense relationship between Napoleon and Hortense. Hopefully, readers will be prompted to research French history and the era of Napoleon in depth as the characters and events are introduced in the story. (DLN) 

Book coverIsadora, Rachel. 2018. My Dog Laughs. Penguin Random House LLC (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-39-917385-1.

Dogs can be adorable pets and companions for children. However, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (RSPCA), dogs should never be alone with children in the same room. The American Kennel Club is also clear about dogs and children and states “Never leave even the most trusted dog alone with a baby or small child!” Except for an examination by a veterinarian, children are alone with their dogs without adult supervision on every page in the book. Caregivers need to supervise all interactions between children and dogs (American Kennel Club). The RSPCA also states children should avoid hugging dogs because most do not like it. Children, also according to the RSPCA should not put their faces up to any dog’s face. Yet, there are multiple dog-child interactions in the story when a child’s face is too close to a dog’s head, e.g. a dog licking a young girl’s face, and children sleeping with their dogs. While young readers and their caregivers need books about relationships among children and dogs, the characterizations need to comply with the recommendations from the RSPCA and/or the American Kennel Club. This is for the safety, health, and well-being of the children and the dogs. (DLN) 

Book coverHill, Susanna Leonard. 2018. When your Monkeys won’t go to Bed. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 26pp. $7.99 (Board book). ISBN 978-1-53-440565-3. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman.

Monkeys are reluctant to go to bed and yet the caregiver, an energetic and wise person, is persistent in trying various strategies to convince the monkeys, a male and a female, to fall asleep. Caregivers may recognize and enjoy the sequence of events: a race to the bathtub, a messy bath, getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, reading stories, yawning, snuggling under covers, and finally, falling asleep in a makeshift tent. Illustrations are outlined with black bold lines, and colors, light blue, yellow, orange, red, pink, white, and dark blue, are recognizable to youngsters, ages 1–3. (DLN) 

Book coverVan Fleet, Matthew. 2018. Chomp goes the Alligator. Simon & Schuster (Paula Wiseman Book). 26pp. $19.99. ISBN 978-1-53-442677-1.

Youngsters, 2 and older, will enjoy the tactile features of the swamp animals in this concept book of numbers 1–10. The alligator is hungry and proceeds to eat all of the animals, but even when completely gorged with 55 animals, Alligator is not satisfied and eats one last fish. However, the last fish prompts a large “Burp” and all of the animals fly out of the alligator.  A large die-cut semi-circle on each page represents the “chomp” and a pull-tab moves the alligator’s mouth. In addition to the numbers and swamp animals, observing readers will also note various bugs on each page. The quantity of bugs equates with the number identified on each full-page spread, contributing to the interactive qualities of the story. (DLN) 

Book coverBoynton, Sandra. 2018. But Not the Armadillo. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 16pp. $5.99 (Board Book). ISBN 978-1-48-148100-7.

The lyrical rhythmic verses propel the sequence of events of an armadillo with his distinctive nose. The nose leads the way to cranberries, flowers, a meadow, a friend, a musical duet, and a saguaro cactus. In addition to recognizing the nose, readers, ages 1–3, will also observe toes, and ears, and Armadillo’s avoidance of a very large, but happy hippo. Young eyes will be able to focus on the large illustrations and the background colors of yellow, green and blue, lavender, pale pink, desert brown, and royal blue. (DLN)


Book coverNew York City Ballet. 2018. The Nutcracker. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon). 38pp. $7.99 (Board Book). ISBN 978-1-5344-2843-0. Illustrated by Valeria Docampo. Based on the New York City Ballet production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.

While youngsters, ages 1–3, may not be able to sit through a read-aloud of all the words on each page, they will thoroughly enjoy the colors, first muted browns greens, yellows, and blues
then vibrant, bold yellow, red, blue, green, and pink. Children will also enjoy the sounds of words, such as decorating, glittering, joyfully, merry, fluttering, Herr Drosselmeier, delighted, nutcracker, nestled, bundled, scurry, rumble, shake, triumphantly, victory, gallantly, glistening, Sugar Plum Fairy, sparkly, Spanish hot chocolate, mysterious Arabian coffee, explosive, Chinese tea, Marzipan shepherdesses, tiptoeing, delicately, gigantic, Mother Ginger, swaggered, shimmering, blossoming, swirls, noble cavalier, gracefully, deliciously marvelous, and sweet celebration. Readers can dramatize a number of words, thus enhancing the vocabularies of the young listeners. (DLN) 

Book coverHolub, Joan. 2018. This Little Scientist: A Discovery Primer. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon).  26pp. $7.99 (Board Book). ISBN 978-1-53-440108-2. Illustrated by Daniel Roode.

Young readers, ages 6 months to 3 years, will observe how the background colors of each page propel the discussions about each scientist, e.g., black and yellow, pink, lavender, gold, green, muted blue, bright red, yellow, orange, and dark blue. The variety of colors complement the diversity of scientists, Isaac Newton, Maria Sibylla Merian, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson, Jane Goodall, Sau Lan Wu, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The end pages also share portraits and information about seventeen other scientists and conclude with the question to readers “YOU!” (DLN) 

Book coverdePaola, Tomie. 2018. Quiet. Simon & Schuster (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-48-147754-3. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola.

As a grandfather walks with his grandson and granddaughter, he comments on the hustle and bustle of nature. The flurry of activity is conveyed through line and color; the plant stems are bent, the bees’ wings are fluttering, the dog rushes after a ball, the frog leaps into the air, the dragonfly soars, and the leaves wave. Bright colors convey the excitement and activity. When all the commotion stops and the trio sit on a bench,the calm of silence settles over the trio. The granddaughter can think when she is quiet, and the grandson can see when he is still. The children’s wisdom will resonate with readers of all ages. (DLN) 

Book coverSpiro, Ruth. 2018. Baby Loves Green Energy. Charlesbridge. 20pp. $8.99.  ISBN 978-1-58089-926-0. Illustrated by Irene Chan.

Baby and the earth have blankets, one is cloth and the other is air. The air gases are nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, oxygen, and water. The greenhouse gases hold the heat of the planet, but people, cars, fossil fuels, trucks, power plants and factories generate too many gases; therefore, the temperature of the earth is rising at alarming rates. Green energy and human behavior can reduce the devastation caused by an overabundance of greenhouse gases. (DLN)


Book coverSpiro, Ruth. 2018. Baby Loves Structural Engineering. Charlesbridge. 20pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-58089-927-7. Illustrated by Irene Chan.

Baby and the structural engineers love to build. Baby builds a house with large lego-like blocks, and the engineers build the Lincoln Memorial and multiple other structures using a variety of shapes. As Baby builds a house, readers follow the construction beginning with the foundation.  Forces, or loads, are identified as either “dead” or “live”; this is interesting information for potential structural engineers. Bold colors and defined shapes such as yellow, turquoise, white, lime green, blue, orange and lavender accentuate the concepts. Shapes include arches, squares, triangles, rectangles, columns, cables, and beams. (DLN) 

Book coverBruchac, Joseph. 2018. Two Roads. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 9787-0-7352-2886-3.

Cal Blackbird, known as Cal Black, and his father lost their farm in 1932. They are now hobos, riding the rails as “knights of the road.” It is too dangerous for Cal to accompany his father, a WWI veteran, to Washington D. C. to join other ex-military of the war to convince President Hoover and Congress to treat the men fairly and give them their bonus money. Cal is surprised when Pop tells him he is half Creek (Native American) and will enroll in a boarding school in Oklahoma while Pop is in Washington D. C. Multiple conflicts propel the sequence of events, Cal’s person v. self conflict as he adjusts to the boarding school for Native Americans. Also, person v. self conflicts are evident while riding the rails and when struggling with his identity at the school. Person v. person conflicts occur during Cal’s interactions with other hobos and students at the school. Person v. society conflicts exist through people v. the Great Depression and veterans v. Hoover and Congress. The elements of this story are credible, but unfortunately the characterizations of Cal, his father, boarding school students and administrators appear unrealistically benign. Life during the Great Depression was harsh for people losing their farms. Life at Native American boarding schools was cruel, severe, and punitive. While riding the rails after bankruptcy is uncomfortable, it is not too dangerous and Cal’s transition to life at the boarding school is without major challenges. The treatment of the demonstrators in Washington DC is brutal and harsh – an honest portrayal of the historical event. Regardless, young adults, ages 10 and older, should read about Cal and his journey to find “his place in the world.” (DLN)


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Larson, Kirby. 2018. Code Word Courage. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 256pp. $16.99.  ISBN  978-0-545-84075-0.

Eleven-year-old Billy is anxious to visit with her brother, Leo, when he comes home for a furlough before he ships out for his WWII assignment. Both Billy and Leo live with their great aunt Doff because their mother died when Billy was young. However, Billy is surprised when Leo brings a fellow Marine from boot camp home with him, Denny, a Diné or Navajo trained as a WWII Code Talker. Billy is disappointed because she wants Leo to herself to discuss their father and losing a best friend. Nevertheless, she is delighted to meet Denny’s dog, an injured stray named Bear. She is thrilled when Denny leaves Bear in Billy’s care while he fights in the Pacific. The perspectives of Billy and Denny dominate various chapters and readers are exposed to multiple conflicts propelling the plot: Billy v. self as she struggles with the disappearance of her father; Billy v. other as she agonizes over the change in her best friend; Billy v. other as she learns to make a new friend; Billy v. nature as she saves her friend, Tito, from a treacherous fall into a ravine; Denny and Leo, and consequently others v. the Japanese during WWII. Themes of loyalty, friendship, love, respect, and identity prevail. Denny learns that he can be both a Navajo and a marine while Billy’s realizes she is living with a loving family with exceptional friends even if her father is elsewhere. (DLN) 

Book coverDean, James. 2018. Pete the Cat: The Petes Go Marching. HarperCollins. 24pp. $9.99.  ISBN  978-0-06-230412-4.

Readers, ages 2-8, familiar with the children’s song, The ants go marching, will recognize Pete’s contemporary variation of the tune. The cumulative tale begins with one Pete marching and concludes with a band of ten Petes, called “Pete the Cat and his Band.” The marching Petes are distinguishable only by their tennis shoes: red, blue, orange, green, yellow, purple, lime green, pink, white, and royal blue. Ten different colored shoes for the identical looking blue Petes. If readers do not know the tune of The ants go marching, they will need to search for it in a library or through a search engine because the musical score is not included. (DLN)

Book coverZoboi, Ibi. 2018. Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix. HarperCollins (Balzer & Bray). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 9780062564047.

Seventeen-year-old Zuri is the second daughter of a proud Dominican-Haitian family who lives in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. A strong and spirited young woman, Zuri loves her cultural traditions, family, and neighborhood. She has no time for the emerging gentrification of the neighborhood and even less time for the wealthy family that moves in across the street with two handsome sons. Even as her older college aged sister falls for the oldest son of the new family, Zuri has nothing but disdain for the dashing, younger son, Darius. Yet as the future unfolds and tragedy forces the family to move, these two strong willed teens find themselves helplessly drawn to one another. Award winning author, Ibi Zoboi, describes her book as “A Pride and Prejudice Remix.” Her own cultural heritage provides a rich foundation for the novel as she describes the foods, traditions, and family values of the Afro-Latino community. Through the voice of Zuri, Zoboi weaves her own vibrant, poignant poetry into the fabric of each chapter. This is a culturally rich, captivating book for adolescents and young adults. (DLN) 

Book coverLunge-Larsen, Lisa. 2017. Seven Ways to Trick a Troll. University of Minnesota Press. 96pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-81-669977-3. Illustrated by Kari Vick.

This story first offers some background information regarding the culture of trolls. It does not geographically place the story in Norway, however the illustrations indicate mountains similar to Norway. It does mention northern Minnesota as a location to spot remains of trolls as they are now extinct. Having lived in prime Norwegian “troll” country for many years, the story line was very familiar. The background information is followed by seven descriptions of troll weaknesses, each with a story to illustrate the weakness. The portrayal of trolls finds them easy to fool due to their tiny brains and having an evil intent to, at the very least, create mischief. Each of the seven stories would be ideal night time stories for children. At the end is two pages of instructions for how to spot remains of trolls out in nature. The illustrations are lovely. They would spark a child’s creativity without being scary or be the stuff of nightmares. The illustrations clearly show how trolls connected physically with nature. The story line is descriptive and clear. It lends itself to a great read aloud book. In addition to humans and trolls, there is a dwarf and a gnome in the story. This book follows the culture I experienced in rural Norway. Trolls were used to explain or call attention to nature. When we hiked in the forest we looked for “skogs trolls” (forest trolls), and when we were crossing a bridge we looked for “bru trolls” (bridge trolls), etc. It gave adults a topic to discuss with children by drawing attention to the beauty and wonder of nature. They even call little girls in Norway “Sharm trolls” or charming trolls! I did not experience trolls as being only negative. Trolls were celebrated much like leprechauns in Ireland. (JLO) 

Book cover2017. Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy Stories. Disney (Disney Lucasfilm Press). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-48-475907-3. Illustrated by Brian Rood. Based on the story and screenplay by George Lucas.

As a person with only limited Star Wars knowledge, I find this book is quite comprehensive. The three stories are prefaced with the Star Wars timeline and a catalog of characters with detailed pictures. I was surprised by the large number of characters. The story is written using the appropriate names of the imaginary cities, characters, and pieces of technology (which sometimes are additional characters), weapons, and mythical creatures. It is delivered in 7–10 sentence bites accompanied with a full or half page picture, which illustrates the scene. It is ideal for a struggling reader who would be able to read this exciting story with some assistance. I have one such reader in mind whose ability to soak in content outweighs his reading ability. He would be more willing to work at this book than one with a less interesting plot line. At the same time, a more advanced reader would enjoy this book as it does not spare the science fiction aspects of technology. There are “droids” and a “trade federation” along with all sorts of space-age transporting vehicles. Light sabers and toxic gases are used by the enemy factions. The illustrations help enlighten us, less space-aged tech-savvy mortals! It is similar to the medieval knights, but with much cooler weapons. I am not sure Merlin could have conjured up some of the creatures in these stories. This good versus evil tale takes the reader into the heavens and then down to the surface of planets where the heroes battle alien creatures to protect allies. I especially enjoyed Yoda – the old wise sage. There are many sub-plots and stories woven into this book. The almost 300 pages of action-filled drama will keep a young reader riveted to finding out what happens next. I have not converted to science fiction, but if I were tempted to do so, this would be the book! (JLO) 

Book coverSnyder, Laurel. 2017. Orphan Island. HarperCollins (Walden Pond Press). 288pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244341-0.

Although the book is recommended for children 8-12 years old, I think the youngest in that range might not be old enough to grasp all of the book’s implications. This is a well-written, deeply thoughtful piece of fantasy. Nine children live happily on an island that provides all they need, but once a year a “Changing” replaces the oldest child with a new young one. There are only a few rules by which the children must abide, and this normally poses no problems. This original and haunting story of growing up draws the reader in when one of the children begins to question those rules. While it is a thoroughly enchanting book, it does not provide answers that some readers will crave, thereby providing wonderful opportunities for thoughtful discussion. (RCT) 

Book coverKline, Christina Baker. 2017. Orphan train girl. HarperCollins. 240pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-244594-0.

This Young Readers’ Edition of Orphan Train offers a very readable version of that bestselling novel to middle schoolers. 90-year-old Vivian and pre-teen Molly become unlikely friends as they rummage through boxes in Vivian’s attic, sharing memories and themselves in ways neither had done before. Juxtaposing the 1929 story of young immigrant Vivian with the current life-story of foster child Molly shows that some experiences transcend time and place, and that good can result from some horrible things. Introducing young readers to the relatively unknown orphan trains of 1854-1929 and including photos of the period add a welcomed historical aspect to the novel. (RCT) 

Book coverGoodman, Carol. 2017. The Metropolitans. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking Books for Young Readers). 368pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-10-199766-6.

This middle school fantasy story will certainly appeal to adolescents who enjoy Arthurian legends, especially those with an interest in historical fiction. Four thirteen-year-olds arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for various reasons, and soon meet and bond as Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. The book utilizes code-breaking, magic, superpowers, and villains at breakneck speed. While the book’s premise in interesting, it feels as if the author has tried to incorporate every possible tactic to appeal to a variety of readers. So much is going on that it is sometimes hard to keep up with all the action. (RCT) 

Book coverSorosiak, Carlie. 2017. If Birds Fly Back. HarperCollins (HarperTeen). 448pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-256396-5.

In an entertaining, easy-to-read manner, If Birds Fly Back explores themes of love, family, abandonment, aging, and much more. Linny and Sebastian are high schoolers whose friendship and shared mission develop into something much deeper. The book is well-written in a style, which is sure to appeal to teenagers. The language is contemporary, fresh, and authentic. Linny and Sebastian are likeable and flawed, and deal with issues that draw the reader in, are believable, and engender empathy. (RCT)


Book coverKelly, Erin Estrada. 2018. You Go First. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-241418-2.

While reading the stories of twelve-year-old Charlotte and eleven-year-old Ben, I was troubled by the stereotypical portrayal of TAG (Talented and Gifted) students as nerdy losers. Their inability to form or sustain friendships is present in so many other young adult books, and this one seemed to dwell forever on their problems. Indeed, the book carried a rather hopeless tone until the last twenty pages. At that point, it felt as if a weight was lifted from my heart. I could now believe things might just turn out all right for the pre-teens, and my appreciation for the book took an upward turn. I now recognized the portrayal of the characters’ sensitivity and anxiety were less stereotypical, and more authentic representations of TAG kids. The book was surprising in a number of ways, one of which was the use of the relationship between Ben and Charlotte. While it was critical to the story, it was much less prominent than I had expected. This book will appeal to middle schoolers who have trouble navigating the woes of friendship and fitting in, which is to say, a great majority of them. (RCT) 

Book coverFrank, Steven B. Class Action. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 272pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-32-879920-3.

This delightful book features Sam, an eleven-year-old who reaches a breaking point regarding homework. Enlisting the help of his older sister, a grouchy retired-lawyer neighbor, and a battery of likable friends, Sam takes the reader from a standing-on-his desk-protest to a class action lawsuit before the Supreme Court in a reader-friendly and surprisingly educational fashion. Like legal stories written for adults, this young adult version cites many real cases and frequently used legal terms. Because this book is written by a middle school teacher, the language is authentic, the portrayal of the kids is believable, and the legal instruction the reader receives is nicely integrated. This is a smart and funny book, which will appeal to anyone who has ever been frustrated by homework! (RCT) 

Book coverCallender, Kheryn. 2018. Hurricane Child. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press). 224pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-33-812930-4.

Twelve-year-old Caroline was born during a hurricane, and carries with her all the bad luck such a fate predicts. She is bullied by her classmates and causes problems for her teachers and father. Her driving motivation is to find her mother, who left one year and three months ago, and little can deter her from this mission. Life changes a bit when Kalinda arrives from Barbados and stirs up emotions Caroline is not quite sure how to deal with. The book delves into issues of abandonment, same-sex love, mysticism, and redemption. Middle school girls will appreciate Caroline’s plight. (RCT) 

Book coverGibaldi, Lauren. 2018. This Tiny Perfect World. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperTeen). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-249007-0.

Penny is confused and vaguely unhappy in her predictable, planned-out life. Going away to theater camp exposes her to people who dream big, and experiences which cause her to question her life. Everyone expects her to end up with Logan, her boyfriend and best friend since childhood. Although she loves him as deeply as a seventeen-year-old can, she questions staying in her small town and the future it will likely provide. The book is innocent and sweet in many ways, and the language sounds authentic to teenage speech. Penny has a wonderful relationship with her father, misses her dead mother a lot, and has the benefit of very strong friendships. This book will resonate with high schoolers who have doubts about their future and are a little scared of change. (RCT)

Book coverPetry, Ann. 2018. Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad. HarperCollins Publishers (Amistad). 272pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-06-269130-9.

Although published in 2018, this book reads more like the 1955 book it is. A foreword by Jason Reynolds is the updated piece, but the four-page introduction, while heartfelt and compelling, does little to change the original story. Harriet Tubman was an amazing woman of almost mythical proportions. She successfully helped hundreds of slaves escape to the North on the Underground Railroad, worked as a scout for the Union forces, tended to the sick, fed the poor, was an amazing storyteller, and defied incredible odds at every turn. Her life is inspirational and this book recounts abundant facts; many chapters conclude with italicized notes of historical events coinciding with Harriet’s account. The book is recommended for ages ten and up, and it includes a timeline, discussion questions, and extension activities. While it provides a good resource for the study of Harriet Tubman, the writing style is fairly choppy, consists of a number of sentence fragments, and does not clearly explain a number of the events or people it introduces. Because its style is not embellished, it is much drier than today’s children are used to, and may prove to be harder to read, despite the fascinating subject. (RCT) 

Book coverHashimi, Nadiasx. 2018. The Sky at Our Feet. HarperCollins. 295pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-242193-7.

Twelve-year old Jason D is an American-born child of an Afghan widow. He and his mother have a wonderful relationship, but normal life is threatened when Jason D learns his mother is in the US illegally and he may lose her. Events are set in motion that help Jason D and his friend, Max, learn much about themselves, each other, and the state of the world. The author, herself, is born of Afghan parents in America. The book is timely in addressing immigration and does a nice job of introducing Afghan culture. While the adventures of Jason D and Max may be a bit far-fetched, the pace of the book is exciting and the reader truly doesn’t know what the outcome will be. Middle school readers will find the characters likable and relatable. (RCT)