Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marion Strikes a Pose (The Critter Club #8) by Callie Barkley –ADVISABLE

Barkley, Callie Marion Strikes a Pose (The Critter Club #8) 128 pgs. Little Simon, 2014. $16.00 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G.
Marion is a member of the Critter Club, a group of girls who helps take care of animals in a barn by their house. But each girls has their own interests outside of the club, Marion for example, loves fashion. When a competition comes up for clothing styling, Marion makes a new friend. Is this a true friend, or is Marion just being used for her fashion advice. Do the frogs the club is caring for have any advice for her?
Coming into this series at book #8 wasn't the best, looks like its better to start with book 1. But I thought it was high interest, fun, and sweet.There are great illustrations, with a modern style. I can think of a dozen or more students that would adore this book, both for the pet component, and the fashion. It’s a great transition book from early reader to chapter books, and this level can be difficult to find quality books for. I would add this series to my library.

EL (K-3) -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo –OPTIONAL

Castaldo, Nancy Sniffer Dogs 160 pgs. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014. $16.99Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G. NON-FICTION
Who knew how truly amazing a dogs view of the world around them is, thanks to their noses! Readers may have heard of some dogs working with their noses (like blood hounds) or seeing them in action at the airports. But there are so many behind the scenes and out of the bounds of imagination jobs that sniffer dogs are great at. This book features stories about companions for diabetics, bone sniffing dogs, flower sniffers, snail finders, and tons more! Many of the best sniffer dogs are the shelter dogs that are unadoptable due to their high energy and lack of discipline, with training and hard work, they are unstoppable at their jobs.
This was actually a great read, with tons of information. The author does a great job really illuminating how much of the world we humans miss by having such boring noses. She breaks all my pre-conceived notions about the limitations of sniffer dogs. However, this book drove me nuts. It was one giant run on sentence, with no real defined chapter breaks, just page after page of text. There was much repetition of concepts, like training, types of dogs, and types of sniffers, it was as if a different person was writing and didn’t realize the first person had already detailed that same thing. Because of this, the book is not student friendly in the slightest. There is nothing to help guide a reader (especially for elementary); no variety of text, no excerpt blocks, no concepts or definitions clearly marked. The pages are different colors but it’s totally unrelated to so-called chapters and just added to my confusion. The pictures are wonderful, and are actually the dogs that are being written about, which believe it or not can be a problem with kids non-fiction.
EL, MS -OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Pirates of the Silver Coast (Three Thieves Book #5) by Scott Chantler –OPTIONAL

Chantler, Scott Pirates of the Silver Coast (Three Thieves Book #5) 96 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2014. $17.95 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G. GRAPHIC NOVEL
Captain Drake is still after Dessa, Topper, and Fisk. He even reluctantly consults a Tarot Card Reader (who looks suspiciously familiar), but little does he know that the three thieves have taken to the sea. They are on a smugglers ship and when they are taken by pirates Dessa’s map is taken, the one thing that she believes could lead to her kidnapped brother.
Its official, I have given up on this series for elementary school. It’s a great read, but its growing more complex and serious than the fun of the first three books, a bit too much for elementary. At least in my demographic the tarot card reading component could result in some serious parent drama. I think this series is worth a try with middle schooler as it remains fairly wholesome (no romance, no swearing) while evolving into more complexity as the series progresses.
MS -OPTIONAL  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Wing Wing Brothers: Geometry Palooza! by Ethan Long - OPTIONAL

Long, Ethan  The Wing Wing Brothers: Geometry Palooza!  Holiday House, 2014.  $15.95  PICTURE BOOK Content: PG (dismemberment of a chicken).  

Five chicken brothers perform three circus-like acts to show different aspects of geometry.  They shoot each other out of a cannon, they move shapes around and they do fractions.  In the end they cut their brother in a magic box into quarters, but when they go to take a bow he falls apart in quarters.  They glue him back together, but it was still kind of gross.  

I didn’t like this book.  I think it didn’t explain enough about math and there wasn’t a story line, so I'm not sure what the point of the book was.  The illustrations are lacking and the dismembered chicken made it shocking and hard to recommend.   

EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Brothers by David McPhail - OPTIONAL

McPhaill, David  Brothers  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  $12.9  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G.  

This is a sweet look at brotherhood.  Sometimes brothers get along great and sometimes they are cohorts in their adventures.  But sometimes brothers fight and don’t feel like sharing.  This is a cute look at all the different ways that brothers interact.  The story has simple one sentence explanations with light pastel colored illustrations.  The moral of the story is super cute, but I’m not sure the muted illustrations would hold young readers attention.  

EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel Version: Volume 1) by Neil Gaiman –ADVISABLE

Gaiman, Neil The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel Version: Volume 1) 192 pgs. HarperCollins, 2014. $19.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG13. GRAPHIC NOVEL
When a little boys family is killed, he toddles off to the graveyard. There he becomes Nobody Owens, and is raised by ghosts and a vampire. Though he still is in danger from his parents killer, he is quite safe, so long as he stays in the graveyard. Nobody doesn’t always do that, and finds himself in one situation that seems impossible to get out of. He also manages to make friends with a human child, makes an ally of a dangerous witch ghost, and discovers a powerful artifact in an underground tomb.
This was actually a fun read. Keep in mind this is part 1 of 2. The interesting thing is that different illustrators took charge of each different chapter, giving the artwork a slightly different feel for each little adventure. Fans of the book will love this story, though I didn’t find the imagery appropriate for elementary level as there is the detailed murder scene at the beginning.
MS, HS -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold –NOT RECOMMENDED

Harrold, A.F. The Imaginary 240 pgs. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2014. $12.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG.
Amanda has an imaginary friend named Rudger, together they have wonderful adventures. But when a scary man name Mr Bunting comes after Rudger to eat him, trouble starts and Amanda is hurt, possibly killed. That’s when Rudger starts to disappear, but with a little help and new real child to keep him alive in her imagination, Rudger continues to worry about Amanda, and the continuing danger from Mr. Bunting.
I absolutely did not care for this book. It was dark in a completely depressing and dismal way. The artwork is nightmare inducing and I would never give this book to an elementary student, though I think middle school students would find that imaginary friend plot a bit juvenile. My life was better before I read this book.
EL -NO  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.