Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Maggie Malone Makes a Splash by Jenna McCarthy & Carolyn Evans -- ADVISABLE

McCarthy, Jenna and Carolyn Evans Maggie Malone Makes a Splash (Maggie Malone #3). 192 pgs. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015. $6.99. Content: PG.

Twelve-year-old Maggie Malone convinces her friend Elizabeth that they should try out for the swim team, but when Elizabeth turns out to be unexpectedly talented, the team's former star is determined to take Elizabeth down. And she's planning to use Maggie to do it. Worst of all, when Maggie warns her friend, Elizabeth thinks Maggie is lying out of jealousy. There goes every friend Maggie had finally made at her new school. To escape her problems for a while, Maggie decides to spend the day as Marina Tide, photogenic daughter of a world-renowned oceanographer. Unfortunately, Marina's picture-perfect world is even more dangerous than Maggie's own. How can Maggie save Marina's reputation -- and possibly life -- then turn around and save Elizabeth from impending social disaster? Especially when Maggie can't even get a handle on her own life?

The third book in the series is almost as fun as the first two, with its insights into a world many middle-grade readers would love to visit if only they had magical boots of their own. Maggie is an especially fun character to travel with, as she's smart and resourceful and genuinely kind, while not being so perfect that she's unsympathetic. While both the middle school and Marina Tide plots were wrapped up a bit too quickly and easily to be completely satisfying, this was still an enjoyable read that would likely do well on many library shelves.

EL (4-6), MS -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands - ESSENTIAL

Sands, Kevin The Blackthorn Key, 384 pages.  Aladdin (Scholastic), 2015.  $18.  Language: G (1 swear, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (one scene about peeing in a barrell); Violence: PG-13 (murders, fires, evidence of torture).  

Christopher Rowe is happy with his life as an apprentice to a well-respected apothecary in London during the 1660’s.  Then people start dying and his master acts out in a way contrary to everything Christopher has ever experienced - and when Chris returns to the shop, his master is dead and Christopher has nowhere to go.  Enemies are everywhere - even in seemingly friendly faces.  Too many people have already died and Christopher is the only one who has all of the keys to solve the mystery - if he can figure them out before the enemy catches him.  

Sands starts the book with a great comedic hook and then plunges into danger.  I was enthralled from start to finish.  However, contrary to the blurbs on the book, there is no magic involved in this book.  I was not disappointed when I read it, just confused.  The book is an exciting enough and dangerous enough to immerse a reader without also having magic.

EL - OPTIONAL, MS - ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Battle of the Bulge by Rick Atkinson - OPTIONAL

Atkinson, Rick Battle of the Bulge, 229 pages.  Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2015.  $20.  

After his look at D-Day, Atkinson tackles explaining the complexities of the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in 1944.  The narrative is complex, with many names and countries and troops involved in a dizzy array of small towns.  I had to finally mark all of the maps in the book so that I could remember where the action was taking place and see who was moving where.  The personalities of the players don’t really shine through.  It would have been better if he had focused on just a few people and tell the story around them.  I would only recommend this for your die hard war aficionados.  

MS, HS - OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Ten Monsters in the Bed by Katie Cotton - ADVISABLE

Cotton, Katie Ten Monsters in the Bed, illustrated by Aaron Blecha.  PICTURE BOOK.  Little Bee, 2014.  $13.  
Meet ten little slurpy, burpy, sneezy, itchy monsters as they try to go to sleep tonight.  More than just ten monkeys jumping on the bed!  Each monster has its own poem and also makes a sound.  If you think you can stand icky monsters and the sounds they make, this is really cute.  You’ll probably have to store it up high though, so that you aren’t constantly hearing the sounds!

Pre-K - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen - ADVISABLE

Cohen, Marina The Inn Between, 208 pages.  Roaring Brook, 2016.  $17.  Content: G.

Best friends Quinn and Kara are on their last trip together, because Kara is about to move.  The family decides to stop for the night at a remote hotel in the Nevada Desert, but Quinn thinks something is very wrong.  THen Kara’s family disappears and both girls are freaked out.  What is this strange place and how can they escape?  Who is the strange man lurking in the background?

While the book mostly reads as a creepy mystery novel, instead it may leave you crying.  Just a warning.  Not telling you anything else. Okay - I’d better tell you that is does discuss death and dying, which not all students are ready for.

EL - OPTIONAL, MS - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Paris: A Book of Shapes and New York: A Book of Colors by Evanston - ADVISABLE

Evanson, Ashley Paris: A Book of Shapes and New York: A Book of Colors.  BOARD BOOKS.  Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin), 2015.  $7.

Evanson does such a great job of choosing iconic sites in each city and blending them with the theme of each book.  I feel like I have learned a little bit about each place and also get a chance to practice my basics.

Pre-K - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher