Friday, January 30, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Law, Ingrid Savvy, 342 pgs; Dial Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

The Beaumont’s have a secret. . . . Savvy . . . . No one knows why, but when a Beaumont turns 13, they are gifted with a magical ability they call savvy. Twelve year-old Mibbs has watched as one by one her older siblings leave school after their thirteenth birthday to learn how to get their savvy under control. Two days before her special day her Poppa is in a terrible car accident and the family is told he might not make it. On the morning of her birthday Mibbs realizes that her savvy just may be able to save her father. In a story reminiscent of Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Law weaves together a story of love, family bonds, determination, and friendship that is sure to become a classic.

Elementary/Middle School ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Dowell, Frances O’Roark Shooting the Moon, 176 pgs Atheneum Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Life is complicated . . . especially when your country is at war and your family is Army. The Vietnam War was a time of confusion and conflict for the United States and families all over the country. This novel brings readers into the heart of one career-army family and shows the effects of the war on their relationships. Jaime Dexter adores her older brother T.J. always has . . . always will. When he enlists and is sent to Vietnam, her dad nick-named, The Colonel isn’t happy with his son’s decision. Jaime always thought that her dad would thrill at another family member joining the armed forces. She eagerly awaits a letter from T.J. and when it comes it is just a roll of film. Jaime decides to learn how to develop the film herself. The pictures are not what she expects and she begins to learn that war is not all the glory it is made out to be.
Elementary School/Middle School ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

Connor, Leslie Waiting for Normal, 304 pgs Katherine Tegen Books Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Addie is waiting for the moment when her life will be normal. Addie appears to be an average young girl. She has friends at school and seems happy, but her life is far from ‘normal.’ Addie’s mom, Mommers, isn’t the best at taking care of anyone but herself. The novel opens as Addie and Mommers are being dropped off at their trailer under a freeway overpass. There are times when Addie doesn’t see her mom for days at a time, but Addie makes do and knows that she must not tell or Mommer’s will get in trouble.

This is a moving novel about a girl who is making the most of the life she was dealt and finding friends and happiness where ever possible while she is “waiting for normal.”

MS - ESSENTIAL. Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Piper Reed Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

Holt, Kimberly Willis, Piper Reed: Navy Brat, 160 pgs Henry Holt and Co.; Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

Army brat/Navy brat this is what you are called when your mom or dad is in the armed forces. Most of these families have to move from base to base, depending on where their parent is assigned. Piper has “moved more times than she can count on one hand” and she is only nine-years-old. This time her family is moving to Pepsi-Cola(Pensacola) Florida. Moving can be exciting, but it also means saying good-bye to friends, schools, and neighbors. For Piper it means saying good-bye to the Gypsy Club. The Gypsy club was a special club for Piper and her closest friends. Will there be anyone to start up a new Gypsy club with in Pensacola? Piper is a spunky girl who has lots of adventures as she learns to make new friends and adjust to new places. For kids who love Junie B. Jones.

EL. Essential Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets by Kate & Jon Gosselin

Gosselin, Jon & Kate with Carson, Beth Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving With Twins and Sextuplets, 224 pgs Zondervan; Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

Jon and Kate Gosselin, the star family of the hit show on the cable network TLC Jon & Kate-plus 8, have written a very entertaining and thoughtful book on their experience having twins and then multiples (6!) In their book, not only do the Gosselin’s share the inside story behind their amazing family, but they share personal and sometimes spiritual insights on living through the process. Multiple births have fascinated humankind since the beginning of time and now due to fertility treatments they are much more common. Teens will enjoy reading about this family, especially if they like the show.

MS, HS - ADVISABLE. Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Benjamin Dove


Erlings, Fridrik Benjamin Dove, 206 p. North-South Books Inc., 2007. Language- PG, Sexual Content- PG, Violence- PG-13. Benjamin Dove is a normal twelve year old boy who longs for adventure. When a new kid, Roland, moves into town, Ben and his two best friends, Jeff and Manny, become impressed with Roland's fascination with knights. They join together and form the Order of the Red Dragon, a group of young knights who protect the neighborhood, do good deeds, and defend the helpless. The violent older boys of the neighborhood decide to form their own order and call themselves the Order of the Black Feather. They start to terrorize the younger boys and war breaks out. When the Order of the Black Feather decide they want to increase the violence, a tragedy occurs that will change the lives of the Red Dragon Knights forever. This book is very uniquely written. Benjamin Dove is very powerful and will make you stop and think. I didn't like how descriptive some of the violence was so I marked it down on the recommendation level, but read it for yourself. MS, HS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Brenna Evans, college student.

Elissa's Odyssey


Verrillo, Erica Elissa's Odyssey, 335 p. Random House, 2008. Language- G, Sexual Content- G, Violence- G. After escaping the evil Khan (which is in the first book, Elissa's Quest), Elissa is lost! In order to be reunited with her friend Maya and her donkey Gertrude she travels by boat to the city of Gravesport. While on her journey she realizes that there are more challenges she must face besides the prophecy of the Phoenix. Her journey is full of twists and turns with new friends and adventures at every turn of the page. Really good book! I loved that it had no swear words, no violence, and no sexual content and was still a great story. I'm excited for the next book in the series to come out. MS, HS- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Brenna Evans. college student.

Cybele's Secret


Marillier, Juliet Cybele's Secret, 424 p. Alfred A Knopf, 2008. Language- PG; Sexual Content- G; Violence- PG; Six years after her adventure in the Other Kingdom, Paula travels to Istanbul with her merchant father to buy the ancient pagan artifact Cybele's Gift. Something shocking happens at the unveiling of the artifact, and it's up to Paula and her friends to solve the mystery surrounding Cybele's Gift, before they are killed by others who want the pagan relic for themselves. This book was a good read. I liked all of the characters and the story was fun and surprising. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would love reading it again. MS, HS- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Brenna

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Looking at Wild Cats by Deborah Hodge


Hodge, Deborah Looking at Wild Cats, Illustrated by Nancy Gray Ogle. Kids Can Press, 2008. - Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – An informational easy reader that is a very basic introduction to wild cats for children learning to read. Brief information on cougars, lynx, bobcats, lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs are included. Part of the Kids Can Read series, this title is Level 1 (Kids Can start to Read). Included are illustrations of cat tracks, a look and find page and wild cat riddles. The text is very simple with large type and plenty of white space. The illustrations are serviceable.
EL - OPTIONAL. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

Who Lives Here? Wetland Animals by Deborah Hodge

Hodge, Deborah Who Lives Here? Wetland Animals, Illustrated by Pat Stephens. Kids Can Press, 2008. PICTURE BOOK - Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – An informational picture book that will be a fine introduction to wetland animals for early elementary students. Each double-page spread includes general text about one of the animals, with a large picture, then adds additional information and smaller pictures featuring some attribute of the animal or its behavior. Realistic detailed illustrations combine with between five and ten facts about each of the nine different animals to create a clear and accessible presentation. All of the information was reviewed for accuracy by the Zoology Department at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
EL - OPTIONAL. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

I Know an Old Teacher by Anne Bowen

Bowen, Anne I Know an Old Teacher, Illustrated by Stephen Gammell. CarolRhoda Books, 2008. PICTURE BOOK - Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – A new take on the well-known cumulative rhyme in which it is a teacher who swallows the classroom pets. Miss Bindley swallows a flea, a spider, a fish, and even a snake but will she “Swallow a child? “ The old teacher smiled. . . “I would never do that!” Gammel’s signature watercolor, colored pencil, pastel, and crayon illustrations are colorful and humorous with wildly disgusting touches that children will enjoy. It might be fun to read this aloud to your class then they are misbehaving. . .
EL - ADVISABLE. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

Praying in Secret by Freddi Williams Evans

Evans, Freddi Williams Hush Harbor: Praying in Secret, Illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks. CarolRhoda Books, 2008. PICTURE BOOK - Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – Enslaved Africans in 19th century U.S. were not allowed to gather together for fear that they might plan uprisings. So they stole away to hidden spots (hush harbors) under the stars to sing and pray together in their own way, risking their lives in pursuit of religious freedom. This is the story of young Simmy, whose job it was to watch for danger while the others prayed and sang. It’s an important story and an author’s note includes historical information on these meetings and the establishment of African American churches. This is not a book that children would choose on their own. Banks is a celebrated illustrator of multicultural themes but I found the African figures to look distorted and unappealing. The religious theme may be most appropriate for home and church libraries.
EL - OPTIONAL. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

The Nutcracker retold by Stephanie Spinner


Spinner, Stephanie The Nutcracker, Illustrated by Peter Malone. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. PICTURE BOOK with a Fully Orchestrated CD- Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – Another picture book version of the traditional holiday ballet is enhanced by the addition of a 78-minute CD of Tchaikovsky’s music performed by the Utah Symphony Orchestra. The text is a straightforward retelling of the ballet’s plot. In this version the young girl is named Marie and her Christmas Eve adventure ends as she and the prince fly away from the Land of Sweets in a sled drawn by reindeer. The watercolor illustrations of the 19th century setting present the tale as a story rather than as a ballet. The illustrations are hazy and dreamlike and somewhat frightening. Some of the faces are very stern and the seven headed mouse king is truly nightmarish.
EL - OPTIONAL. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch by Anne Isaacs

Isaacs, Anne The Ghosts of Luckless Gulch, Illustrated by Dan Santat. Atheneum, 2008. PICTURE BOOK - Language G, Sexual Content G, Violence G – Anne Isaacs, author of Swamp Angel, has created another fanciful tall tale about another great heroine, Estrella Rivera, who runs so fast that she burns the air around her, leaving behind a glowing trail of flame. In this tale set during the California gold rush, Estrella must rescue her three pets from the ghosts of Luckless Gulch. Her dog, Comet, is a Rubberado puppy who can bounce so high he fairly flies and eats rocks. Her two other pets are a Sidehill Wowser who looks like a short furry horse whose downhill legs are twice as long as its uphill legs, and a Kickle Snifter who is small as a lamb but strong as an elephant. Estrella scares the ghosts underground where the tunnels they dig cause the California mountains to rise up and the Whitewood trees to rise so close to the sun that they get sunburned and are now the Redwoods. In fact you can still feel earthquakes in California wherever those ghosts are digging. The charming illustrations include hilarious details that children will love to discover. Perfect for units on tall tales, this story would also be a great way to introduce the history of the California gold rush.
EL - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On Rough Seas by Nancy L. Hull


Hull, Nancy L. On Rough Seas. 262 p. Clarion, 2008. Fourteen-year-old Alec Curtis is involved in the accidental drowning of his cousin, Georgie. Alec's father, bitter from his war experiences, is harsh and disapproving of Alec. His father wants him to help with the family inn, but Alec's dream is to go to sea. He juggles his work at the inn with his job as a galley boy on the fishing boat Britannia. As World War II threatens England's shores, Alec finds himself surrounded by mysteries: what is the government doing in a castle closed off to civilians, what is the real mission of the soldiers staying at his family's inn, and what is hidden in his German friend Eva's past? Alec finds the answers to these questions and assists in the rescue of 300,000 British soldiers who are stranded on the beach in Dunkirk. The book is a bit lengthy but the story will definitely appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction. Grades 6 - 8. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Debby Herget, Elementary Library-Teacher.

The Duck Who Played Kazoo by Amy E. Sklansky


Sklansky, Amy E. The Duck Who Played the Kazoo. Clarion, 2008. PICTURE BOOK. Alone following a hurricane, a little duck goes south to find new friends. Making music with his kazoo, he entertains the ducks he meets and they soon become friends. He returns to his lake with his new-found friends in tow. This simple tale is delightfully illustrated. The pictures seem to move on the page as the duck and his friends enjoy his music. Children will begin finishing the phrase that is repeated throughout the book: "La ditty, da ditty, zu, zu." A fun read aloud. Grades K - 2. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Debby Herget, Elementary Library-Teacher.

City Lullaby by Marilyn Singer


Singer, Marilyn City Lullaby. Clarion, 2007. PICTURE BOOK. This rhyming book presents typical city sounds counting down from 10. Sirens howl, air brakes hiss, cell phones ring, dogs bark and manhole covers rattle, but nothing disturbs baby who is sleeping soundly to the tune of this city lullaby. Children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and the repetitive patterns in this book. Opposite each page featuring illustrations of the source of a city noise, is an illustration of baby's face with eyes shut. Children will be surprised when in the end, it's the chirp of a tiny bird that wakes baby up. Grades 1 - 4. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Debby Herget, Elementary Library-Teacher.

Cat Jumped In! by Tess Weaver


Weaver, Tess Cat Jumped In! Clarion, 2007. PICTURE BOOK. Jumping into the house through an open window, Cat begins a series of jumps that get him into trouble. Into the garbage can, into the closet, into the bedroom and into the art studio Cat goes, leaving each spot in complete disarray. Someone continually orders cat "Out!" The paint splotches cat leaves in his final leap win him a jump into someone's arms. This story relies on its illustrations for meaning. The pictures are well done and truly reveal the nature of a typical, curious cat. Children will enjoy this book, especially those who have a cat at home. Grades 1 - 3. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Debby Herget, Elementary Library-Teacher.

Big and Bad by Etienne Delessert


Delessert, Etienne Big and Bad. Houghton Mifflin, 2008. PICTURE BOOK. A wolf named Big and Bad has been gobbling up animals right and left so those who remain decide to combine their efforts to rid themselves of this troublesome varmint. With the help of the three little pigs, they send the wolf blazing through the night sky. This unusual take on the "The Three Little Pigs," is beautifully illustrated and could easily be used as a springboard for a discussion on the power of working together to defeat a common foe. Grades 4 - 6. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Debby Herget, Elementary Library-Teacher.