Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dog Parade by Barbara Joosse - OPTIONAL

Joosse, Barbara. Dog Parade, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. $16.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  It is time for a dog parade, and so the dogs need to get ready to "put [their] best paw forward."  Owners put, what they consider, cute costumes on the dogs to help them get ready.  Then the dogs go on parade "to show off [their] diggity best."  I didn't like this book.  But I am not a dog lover.  So I kind of feel like y opinion doesn't matter because the author was obviously only writing for dog lovers.  The people whose dogs are front and center in their holiday card each year.  I thought this book was pointless and I would never recommend it, even to a dog lover.  There are other books, like Chowder, that are actually good books and dog lovers could enjoy.  I guess there is a chance there is an audience for this book; so I will at least give it an optional recommendation.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Mistress of the Storm by ML Welsh -OPTIONAL

Welsh, M.L Mistress of the Storm, 320 pgs. David Fickling Books, 2011. $13.25. (Rating: G in all categories)
This story is about a 12yo girl named Verity whose life is changed by appearance of an evil grandmother. She now must learn more about her family’s dark history, in seafaring and smuggling, in order to save her family. Luckily she has a few allies –the mysterious librarian, her elderly friend Alice, and two misfit from school –Henry and Martha.
I am finding it hard to pinpoint exactly why this book was such a dreaded chore to read. It could be the dated time period without the charm to back it up, the boring characters, the stereotypical evil grandmother plotline, the overload of mysterious anticipation which fails to deliver, or simply the flow of the story. But the bottom line is that despite the magic and pirating, I found this book to be readable yet somehow tedious. I think students will find this a disappointing read.
EL – OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

The Family Storybook Treasury - ADVISABLE

The Family Storybook Treasury Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. $18.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  With eight different stories, and a poem between each one, this book certainly has a wide variety of writings.  Plus, there is an accompanying audio cd of all 8 stories and the poems.  The stories come from famous characters like Martha Speaks and Curious George.  They are Curious George and the Firefighters, Lyle Walks the Dog, Martha Speaks, The Great Doughnut Parade, Sheep in a Jeep, Tacky the Penguin, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  These stories are old classics, and they are all absolutely wonderful.  If you don't have these books, then you should probably get this volume because it truly is a collection of delightful stories.  But from a library standpoint, I think people would usually check out the specific stories rather than this big collection; so I would say that this is not essential.  However, it would make a great gift for someone who might not be familiar with all of the different stories.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

The Giant Book of Giants by Saviour Pirotta - OPTIONAL

Pirotta, Saviour.  The Giant Book of Giants, illustrated by Mark Robertson.  Sterling Children's Books, 2011. $19.95.  PICTURE BOOK.  This books retells six different giant stories, including "Jack and the Beanstalk" and "Sinbad's Third Voyage."  The stories come from all over the world, but not a one is original.  Also included with this book is a foldout poster of a giant.  The poster includes many flaps to lift and things to pull out.  The giant poster is larger than most toddlers who will look at this book.  This book is so-so, but the poster is phenomenal.  My children loved pulling out all the different parts and lifting the flaps.  For example, his time piece is a clock tower that he has uprooted.  The stories are nothing special, and that makes it so that this book is definitely not worth the $20 list price.  My family read the stories once; I doubt we'll read them again.  Though the poster is worth returning to...but still not worth the price.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Monday, January 30, 2012

Reading Fun with Curious George Early Reader Boxed Set - ADVISABLE

Reading Fun with Curious George Early Reader Boxed Set Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. $9.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  As we know, Curious George was created by Margret and H.A. Rey.  But these books only give credit to the pair for having created the character in the books, not actually written them.  What is even more interesting is that the titles are adaptations from the Curious George show on PBS.  The titles included in this boxed set are all Early Reader Level 1, and they are entitled The Dog Show, The Kite, Roller Coaster, The Boat Show, Plays Mini Golf, and Pinata Party.  Also included in this boxed set are stickers, a poster, and a reading certificate.  The truth is that I am happy to have this boxed set.  Since my son is still an emergent reader, he needs all the books he can get his hands on.  Getting six books for $10 is a good price, even if they are not the highest quality books in the world.  The Poster and the certificate are junk in my opinion, but the stickers are fun (kids love stickers).  If you know someone who is a level 1 early reader, then this would be a good gift for him/her.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose - OPTIONAL

Breitrose, Prudence.  Mousenet, illustrated by Stephanie Yue, 389 pages.  Hyperion Books, 2011.  $16.99.  Language: G; Sexual Content: G; Violence: G.  Megan Miller is ten and is just back from a remote island in the Atlantic Ocean where she helped her mother research sheep.  She doesn't fit in, but she has been able to enjoy herself with her uncle who likes to invent small things.  This time, the two of them have created the thumbtop--a miniature computer that requires a magnifying glass and a pin to work.  When Megan's mother heads off to Australia and can't bring her daughter with her, Megan must go live with her dad in Oregon.  But she at least gets to take the thumbtop with her.  This sounds all kinds of alarms in the mouse nation because they have been getting more and more excited to get their paws on the thumbtop because they want to be able to surf the web freely (without having to fear a cat or a broom to whack them).  They hatch a plan to approach Megan, and get a thumbtop into every mousehole.    This book was okay.  At times, I really found myself caring what happened to Megan and the mice.  But other times I was annoyed by the writing and the lack of conflict and rising action.  Plus, I felt like I was reading a sermon about how important it is to save the planet.  I'm all for saving the planet, but when I read a book about little mice wanting to get computers so that they aren't eaten, then I don't want to read about how humans are destroying the earth.  I think Ms. Breitrose should have stuck to the story more, and then written an article for National Geographic about what we can do to save the planet.  Someone else might like the book more than I did, but I can think of better ways to spend your money and time than buy and read this book.  EL(K-3), EL - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

A Treasury of Curious George/Coleccion de Oro Jorge el Curioso by Margret and H.A. Rey - OPTIONAL

Rey, Margret and H.A.  A Treasury of Curious George/Coleccion de Oro Jorge el Curioso, illustrated in the style of H.A. Rey by Vipah Interactive and Martha Weston, translated by Carlos E. Calvo.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. $11.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  This books tells eight different stories of Curious George.  It has the English words in black font on each page and then the Spanish translation is directly underneath it,written in blue.  I used to speak Spanish fluently, and I have lost a lot.  But I still know enough to know that the translation is good.  I have seen books like this benefit students who are learning either of the two languages.  But there are so many things out there to spend money on, I wouldn't say that this is a must-have or even a should-have.  What is good about this book is that there are eight stories and lots of pages of English and Spanish.  It is probably worth the money, but only if there is a need for someone to learn the two languages.  Pre-K, EL (K-3), EL - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wodney Wat's Wobot by Helen Lester - OPTIONAL

Lester, Helen.  Wodney Wat's Wobot, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. $16.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  Rodney has a speech impediment.  His Rs sound like Ws.  But then he receives this really great birthday present: a robot that repeats what it hears.  But the good news is that it can pronounce its Rs correctly.  So Rodney takes this robot with him to school and whispers his answers to the robot, who then says the answer correctly.  His problems seem to be solved...until Camilla, the bully shows up (she had moved away, but is now apparently back).  Can his robot save him and his friends from Camilla?  Or will she take over?  So many questions.  And I didn't care about the answer to them while I was reading this book to my kids.  I didn't like Camilla; she truly was a bully.  But in all honesty, I didn't care if she beat up Wodney (I mean Rodney) because he was annoying too.  This book wasn't terrible, but it lacked that something special to set it apart from other picture books.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber-ESSENTIAL




Schreiber, Joe.  Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick,190 pages, Houghton Mifflin, 2011, $16.99.
Language-PG (2 swears), Mature Content-PG-13, Violence-PG-13  

Perry has a lot of stress in his life. He has a complicated relationship with his father, but he needs  a college letter of recommendation from a partner in his father's firm. His mother wants him to take their foreign exchange student, Gobija Zaksauskas, to the prom, but his band has their first paying gig in New York City on the same night.  He wants to say no to everyone, but he can't. When Gobi comes down the stairs dressed for prom wearing a 'baggy shapeless mountain of linen', a headscarf and a bag made from animal hide, Perry's father hands him the keys to his red Jaguar to ease his pain. Perry thinks that the evening is going to be a disaster-only he has no idea how bad it could get before dawn. What happens next involves a crazy night in Manhattan,  hit men, mobsters, explosions, and a jump from the forty-seventh floor. Through it all, Perry learns a lot more than he ever wanted to know about himself, his family, Gobi, concealed weapons and the underworld. Essentially kidnapped at gunpoint by his prom date, Perry is a very unwilling participant in what turns out to be the most important night of his life. This book is hilarious in an over-the-top, high octane sort of way. From the first explosion to the last, you'll be handcuffed to every page. HS-ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Gretchen 

Hourglass by Myra McEntire-ADVISABLE



McEntire, Myra. Hourglass, 390 pages, Egmont, 2011, $17.99.
Language-G, Mature Content-PG, Violence-G  

Emerson thinks that she is crazy. She can see people from the past- apparitions of Southern belles and 1920's jazz musicians who once inhabited the buildings of her Southern hometown. Haunted to the point of insanity, she has tried everything to make the images go away, and as a last resort her brother has employed the handsome Michael Weaver  from the organization, Hourglass, to help her. With his experience and knowledge, he may be able to help her see her life as a continuous pattern-the past, the present and the future. Only she begins to wonder if Michael is the answer or the problem? Is Hourglass a benign institute for the study of time or something more sinister? If she is getting better, why is she still being haunted? This was a very engaging, highly-readable, original addition to the YA paranormal genre. The cliffhanger ending may have been a little too steep for my liking, but I can't wait for the sequel.   MS/HS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Gretchen

Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby-OPTIONAL

Ashby, Amanda. Fairy Bad Da9, 336 pages, Speak, 2011, $7.99.
Language-G , Mature Content-G, Violence-PG  

Burtonwood Academy student, Emma Jones wants nothing more than to be chosen to be a Dragon Slayer like her mother before her.  However, when Curtis Green is chosen to be a Dragon Slayer and she is assigned to study to be the very first Fairy Slayer, Emma knows that it must be some kind of cosmic joke or at least a simple mistake that Principal Kessler could easily rectify. Resigned to embarrassment and at a loss of how to take down a fairy, Emma turns to her two friends and her own devices. When a giant evil fairy only she can see wreaks havoc on campus, Emma finds that maybe she needs more help than she is willing to admit, and maybe, just maybe, the cute Curtis Green might be very interested in lending a hand. The creature mythology behind this story is kind of confusing. I found the characters and setting pretty flat. The story did not really keep my interest which made it hard to hang in there until the final battle.  MS/HS-OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Gretchen 

The Jane Austen Diaries: Pride and Popularity by Jenni James-OPTIONAL



James, Jenni. The Jane Austen Diaries: Pride and Popularity, 238 pages, Inkberry Press, 2011, $11.99. Language-G, Mature Content-G, Violence-G

Chloe has been avoiding Taylor Anderson since the summer before their sophomore year. He was too popular, too handsome and far too sure of himself for her. When they end up in the same art class senior year, she can't avoid him any longer. Why won't he and his friends leave her and her friends alone? But when his best friend falls for hers, things get messy, and her pride and his popularity get in the way. There was really nothing new here, and much of the Pride and Prejudice parallels seemed forced. Ultimately, it is an easy read with a few bright spots for the young Austen enthusiast. MS/HS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Gretchen

The Sons of Liberty Book 2: Death and Taxes by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos-OPTIONAL


Lagos, Alexander  and Joseph Lagos. The Sons of Liberty Book 2: Death and Taxes,176 pages, Random House, 2011, $14.99. Language-G, Mature Content-G, Violence-PG

Having escaped slavery years before, brothers Graham and Brody are now apprentices in Benjamin Franklin's print shop in Philadelphia at the outbreak of civil unrest. As the Colonists begin to fight back against the British, the streets erupt in violence. The brothers use their super powers, obtained in Book 1,  to find Graham's girlfriend and fight injustice and demons on both sides of the conflict. The Sons of Liberty is American history on steroids. The plot is a mash-up of historical fiction, super hero action, social commentary and pure craziness, and it was pretty hard to follow until I went back and read Book 1.  The pictures are visually stunning and will captivate any willing reader. Ultimately however, I felt the superhero angle was like cheese sauce over broccoli; it was a gimmick to get you to read historical fiction, and this book is much more fictional than historical. MS/HS-OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Gretchen 

Can I See Your ID? True Stories of False Identities by Chris Barton-ADVISABLE


Barton, Chris. Can I See Your ID?: True Stories of False Identities,121 pages, Dial Books, 2011, $16.99. Language-G, Mature Content-G, Violence-G

Can I See Your ID?
is a collection of stories about people who did very interesting and sometimes illegal things while posing to be someone else. Princess Caraboo, a fake. The author of The Education of Little Tree, not a Native American, and the engineer of that subway you are riding on might just be a sixteen year old with a fascination for trains. Notorious fakers and liars masquerade as what they are not in Barton's tales of crime, desperation and adventure. His research is thorough and cited at the back of the book. The episodes told in second person draw the reader in and let them experience the perpetrators' thinking behind each masquerade. My favorite part is the "What happened next" addendum at the end of every story. Engaging and easy to read, Can I see Your ID? would be an excellent way to interest young readers in nonfiction or biographies.  MS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Gretchen 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Catch and Release by Blythe Woolston - NO


Woolston, Blythe Catch and Release, 216 p. Carolrhoda Lab (Lerner), 2012.  Language: R (80 swears, plus 34 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (drinking, drugs, body parts).  Polly and Odd have survived a flesh-eating bacteria, but have no idea how to continue on with their lives as deformed survivors – Odd has lost his foot, Polly and eye – and both of them lost so much more than that.  On a whim, Odd drags Polly out on a one day fishing trip that ends up being a road trip instead.  The pair don’t even know how to connect with each other – Odd used to be a football star and Polly was just happy having a boyfriend and her perfect life all mapped out – so the road trip may or may not help either of them find a way to move on.  

I understand that Polly and Odd were dealt a really crappy hand – but I felt personally assaulted on every page.  And the end just left me hanging.  Maybe Woolston achieved everything she was attempting to do, but I can live my life without ever reading this again.  NOT RECOMMENDED. Cindy, Library Teacher

Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - ESSENTIAL


Garcia, Kami and Margaret Stohl Beautiful Chaos, 513 p. Little, Brown, 2011.  Language: PG-13 (24 swears, 0 ‘f’); Lena Caster has done the impossible – she has claimed herself for both the light and the dark.  The price, however, is being paid by the entire world, as a curse seems to have descended upon Gatlin, turning winter into one continuous dry autumn.  In order for the balance to be destroyed and for Abraham Ravenwood to be defeated, “The One That is Two” must be sacrificed on the eighteenth moon.  But with so many characters who have dual natures, no one is sure who the prophecy refers to.  Lena and Ethan and all of the friends, relatives and enemies have a lot of work to do before that moon.  

At first I was kind of put off by how slowly everything was developing within the book, but then I got to thinking about it like a train wreck or a car accident – you know it is about to happen, you can see it happening – you know it is going to be really bad when it does happen.  You know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t make yourself stop watching as everything seems to proceed in slow motion.  Though I wasn’t happy with the ending (no spoilers here), I was glad that I continued reading – now I have to twiddle my thumbs and worry until book #4 appears.  

THERE HAD BETTER BE A BOOK NUMBER FOUR – do you hear me Kami and Margaret????  MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King - NO


King, A.S. Everybody Sees the Ants, pgs. 288. Harper Collins, 2011. $17.99 Language PG (4 swears, 0 "f" words in first 30 pages) Mature Content- PG-13/R
Lucky Lindermann isn’t very lucky. His grandmother told him he needs to find his grandfather who is a VietNam POW.  His dreams become a chance to visit with GrandDad.  A bully, Nader, has been after him since he was seven years old, but adults are too intimidated or uninvolved to stop him.  His parents are too busy or self-absorbed to realize he needs help until after another attack, Lucky’s mom finally decides to take Lucky to Arizona to stay with her brother.  

Personally, I couldn’t get past the first 30 pages.  I was interested in it because it was an award winner and hopefully a war book I could pass to boys, but the constant reference to his and other characters’ genitals was uncomfortable for me.  Nader has been a bully for years and although adults finally recognized his true character, they were too weak for me to believe. When Nader sexually abused a student in the locker room and it was described in more graphic detail than I needed, I decided to shut the book.  HS – NO. Teacher Reviewer: Christine

Into the Trap by Craig Moodie - OPTIONAL


Moodie, Craig Into the Trap, 197 p. Roaring  Brook, 2011.  $17.  Language: PG (3 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG (mild violence).  Eddie, 12,  knows that someone is stealing lobsters from the traps around Fog Island – including from his own family – and when he happens upon the lobsters and the thieves, he decides he must do something about it.  With the help of Briggs, 13, an escapee from a local posh summer camp, they set off with a vague plan to capture the thieves, but everything starts falling apart and the boys find themselves accused of the crime.  Now they can’t stop until they can clear their names.  

Mild danger and intrigue would make this a good regional pick, for coastal areas involved in boating or the lobster trade.  EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just Add Magic by Cindy Callaghan - ADVISABLE


Callaghan, Cindy Just Add Magic, 218 p. Simon, 2010.  Content: G.  Kelly, 12, and her friends Hannah and Darbie, are very excited when they discover what looks to be a magic cookbook.  While the ingredients are a little strange, the weird little shop downtown seems to have everything they need.  What they mix-up instead, is a whole lot of trouble.  Every plan backfires and the girls are not too happy with each other.  

Like everything in the MIX imprint, you get a whole lot of fun, with a clean book to enjoy.  And they are at a paperback price.  You can’t go wrong!  EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey - OPTIONAL


Yancey, Rick The Curse of the Wendigo, 424 p. Simon, 2010.  Language: PG-13 (0 ‘f’); Violence: R.  After traveling to Canada in search of the evil Wendigo, a vampire-ish creature from Native American mythology, Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop rescue John Chanler and return him to New York City, where the monstrumologists are preparing for their annual meeting.  When Chanler disappears, a series of gruesome murders occurs.  Dr. Warthrop will have to work fast in hunting down the killer, before panic sets in.  

I could do without the graphic scenes of violence – but that will be its main attraction for fans of horror.  HS – OPTIONAL. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Author Signing: Brodi Ashton

I've already reviewed Everneath by Brodi Ashton.  Tonight I went to her book launch at The King's English bookshop in Salt Lake City.  I should have known better - Brodi being a local gal - it was packed!!!  The initial reception was down the street at the art gallery - standing room only.  I saw Sara Zarr, but otherwise it was too full to look for anyone else.  Brodi had a powerpoint presentation to support a great story.  I think she would be golden for school visits - middle school or high school. When it moved in to the store for the signing, the line snaked through the whole shop and out the door.  I snagged a sweet early spot in line - and Brodi also gave out "Dead Elvis" guitar pick necklaces (you have to read the book - I am not telling you what that means).  SWEET!

I can't wait until you all get a chance to read it.  Go - NOW!!

--Cindy

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Fishy Business by Maxwell Eaton III-ESSENTIAL

Eaton III, Maxwell. The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Fishy Business, 96 pgs.  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012.  $6.99.  Back cover: “When Fish Stix Corporation sets up shop, most of the islanders are thrilled.  After all, Fish Stix are the most popular, bestselling sticks around and they’re good for the environment.  But Ace and Bub quickly see through this ego-friendly fa├žade and uncover a sinister plot.  It’s up to the Beaver Brother to set things right.”  I loved, loved, loved this book!  It was very funny.  The illustrations are so good.  I laughed the whole time I was reading it!  EL (K-3).  EL.  ESSENTIAL.  Student Reviewed: JL-age 9.   

Mouse and Mole: A Perfect Halloween by Wong Herbert Yee-ADVISABLE

Yee, Wong Herbert.  Geisel, Theodor Seuss.  Mouse and Mole:  A Perfect Halloween, 48 pgs.  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011.  $14.99. Inside cover: “Mouse likes Halloween.  In fact, with only a few days to go before the big day, Mouse has a lot to do.  There are decorations to hang and pumpkins to carve-especially for the big pumpkin-carving contest!  Mole does not like Halloween nearly as much.  It is scary.  It is creepy.  Thankfully a pumpkin-carving contest is not too scary.  But the contest is just the beginning of Mouse and Mole’s Halloween adventures.  Even the trip home could be a spooky one.  Mole is just not having a happy Halloween. What’s Mouse to do when her best friend has turned into a big Scaredy-Mole? All it takes is a little creativity (and Mouse has a lot of that) and a bedtime story to have the perfect Halloween.”   I thought this was a great book. The story is fun and exciting.   I like how the characters changed at the end of the story. The illustrations are bright and colorful. It would be a great Halloween story.  EL (K-3). ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed:  JL- age 9.

Step Into Reading: Francis Scott Key's Star-Spangled Banner by Monica Kulling

Kulling, Monica.  Walz, Richard.  Step Into Reading: Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner, 48 pgs.  Random House for Young Readers, 2012.  $3.99.  This is a great condensed version of the true story our national anthem.  The story details the life of Francis Scott Key and how the War of 1812 influenced his writing America’s most beloved song.  The end of the book details the whereabouts of that infamous flag and it’s current home at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. EL (K-3). ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading by Tommy Greenwald-ESSENTIAL

Greenwald, Tommy.  Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to NOT Reading, 224 pgs.  Roaring Brook Press, 2011.  $14.99.  Inside cover: “Charlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born.  And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover.  But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be.  And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his personal record intact.  This is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.    I liked that this book had 25 non reading tips.  I also liked the cartoon-like illustrations.  I thought it was funny how he tried to avoid reading.  EL.  ESSENTIAL.  Student Reviewed:  JL- age 9.

Luz Sees the Light by Claudia Davila- ESSENTIAL

Davila, Claudia. Luz Sees the Light, 96 pgs.  Kids can Press, 2011. $16.95  This book is about a girl named Luz and her friend, Anika.  These friends have a lot of blackouts in their town.  Luz and her friends go and try to make a park where they can spend time during the blackouts.  In that park they are going to grow vegetables and have a playground.  Luz then realized how hard this project can be and her friends are no help.  Will Luz ever get her park?  I liked this book because it was a comic book.  The illustrations were great.  The story was very interesting and fun.  EL.  ESSENTIAL.  Student Reviewed: JL- age 9. 

Building a Dream by Beth Dunlop - ADVISABLE


Dunlop, Beth Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture, 206 p. Disney/Hyperion, 2011.  $60.  Disney never does anything without a purpose and a plan.  This eye candy delves into the processes and purposes behind pretty much every non-ride building on any Disney property – and a few of the in-park buildings too.  From the Team Disney building in Burbank to the post office of Celebration, Florida, you will read about things that you never would believe people thought out.  Architectures, designers, Disney-philes alike will be fascinated by the wealth of information that Dunlop imparts.  The price makes it a little out of reach for lots of schools, but if you can fit it in, I think you will find an audience.  Otherwise, I am definitely gifting a copy to someone I know.  Gift – ADVISABLE.  MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Monday, January 23, 2012

Martha Speaks: A Winter's Tail by Susan Meddaugh- OPTIONAL

Meddaugh, Susan.  Martha Speaks:  A Winter’s Tail, 24 pgs.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books, 2011.  $12.99.  Back cover:  “Puppy Skits loves to chase things-balls, Frisbees, chew toys, even hockey pucks.  But when Skits chases a hockey puck onto thin ice, the children can’t figure out how to save him.  Can Martha?”  This book would be loved by younger children who watch PBS Kids.  It is a cute story, but I don’t see a lot of application to the classroom.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL. 

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evin Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton III-ESSENTIAL

Eaton III, Maxwell.  The Flying Beaver Brothers and The Evil Penguin Plan, 96 pgs.  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012.  $6.99.  Inside cover: “Brothers Ace and Bub have the perfect life on Beaver Island.  But when a group of evil penguins schemes to convert the island into a polar-themed resort, their entire way of life is threatened.  Suddenly Ace and Bub are the only things standing between their beloved island and an icy ego-disaster.  Do they have what it takes to save the day?”  I loved this book!  It was really funny and I read it really fast.  Anyone who likes comics will love this book.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Student Reviewed: JL- age 9.

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet-ADVISABLE

Sweet, Melissa.  Balloons Over Broadway, 40 pgs.  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover: “Every Thanksgiving morning for more than eighty years, mammoth-size balloons have risen to the skies to wobble and sway, sally and shimmy, up and down the canyons of New York City.  Just how did this beloved tradition come to Broadway?  Who first invented these wonderful “upside-down marionettes”?”  I liked reading this book.  I liked that it was a true story.  I liked the colorful pictures and learning about the parade. I like history books. This book could be used when talking about traditions and maybe Thanksgiving. Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  EL.  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed:  JL- age 9.

Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris- ADVISABLE

Ferris, Aimee. Will Work for Prom Dress, 272 pgs. Egmont, 2011. $8.99. Language G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’), Sexual Content G, Violence G. Quigley Johnson and Ann are best friends, and both are determined to earn enough money for great prom dresses and use their “Betterment Plan” to be perfect for the big day. When Anne’s mom offers the girls work as models in her fashion design class, the girls agree. Quigley is humiliated when all of the students want to work with Anne-except for Zander. He can’t sketch out his outfits, but everything he makes for Quigley seems perfect. As the two become better friends, all Quigley has to do is get him to ask her to prom! I liked this book. It was a cute, wholesome, feel-good high school romance. Good read! Middle School, High School- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: AL

Undercurrent by Tricia Rayburn-ADVISABLE

Rayburn, Tricia. Undercurrent, 352 pgs. Egmont, 2011. $17.99. Language G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’), Sexual Content PG-13, Violence PG-13. Ever since Vanessa found out that her sister was murdered by sirens, and became one herself, things haven’t been normal. Everything that she thought her family was is a lie, and she can’t tell them what she knows. Vanessa finds herself torn between her boyfriend Simon, and Parker, her school’s resident charmer. While she knows Simon loves her, she wonders if it’s just her powers as a siren drawing him to her. On the other hand, Parker doesn’t seem drawn to her at all. But she has to put those aside as the Winter Harbor sirens are back for revenge. I liked this book. While most authors are writing about vampire and werewolves right now, this book about sirens was really refreshing. High School- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: AL

Mr. Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell by Cynthia Rylant- ADVISABLE

Rylant, Cynthia.  Howard, Arthur.  Mr. Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell, 44 pgs.  Harcourt Children’s Books, 2011.  $14.99. Inside cover: “Dong! Dong! Dong! The school bell is ringing.  The crispy fall wind is blowing.  Mr. Putter wishes he could go back to school- even for just one day.  Then he has an idea: How about a visit during show-and-tell with Mrs. Teaberry, Tabby and Zeke? The teacher agrees, but there’s one problem.  She and the students expect pet tricks.  Will Tabby and Zeke be able to deliver?”  I liked the illustrations in this book.  The story was very funny.  This was as fun and easy book to read.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3). ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed: JL- age 9.

The Shape-Shifter’s Curse by Amanda Marrone - ADVISABLE

Marrone, Amanda The Shape-Shifter’s Curse (Magic Repair Shop #2), 232 p. Simon and Schuster, 2010.  $6.  Content: G.  Maggie loves her job as a repair person in a magic shop.  But now it is time for her magic levels to be tested, so she and her friends are off to Scotland.  Unfortunately, Darcy Davenport, Maggie’s rival, is also going for testing, which means that there is bound to be trouble along with the magic.  

Nice elementary level fiction for those who want to be ready for Harry Potter, but aren’t quite up to the challenge.  EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

Following Magic by Kathleen Duey - ADVISABLE


Duey, Kathleen Following Magic (The Faeries’ Promise #2), 100 p. Aladdin (Simon, 2011.  $16.  Content: G.  Alida’s faerie colony has been banished to parts unknown by the evil Lord Dunraven.  With the help of her human friend, Gavin, Alida hopes to find her family and keep them safe.  

Incredibly cute without being sappy – a good choice for little girls who like fairies.  EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime by Myra Wolfe - ADVISABLE

Wolfe, Myra and Maria Monescillo Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime. Harcourt Children's Books, 2011.

Charlotte Jane believes in squeezing the juice out of every day, spending all her waking hours performing feats of daring. Bedtime, however, is not fun at all. One night she manages to stay up until dawn. "Victory," she sleepily proclaims. But is it? Instead of having the energy and creativity to play all day, she finds herself completely sapped and unable to enjoy the daylight. When her feather bed entices her and she finally gives in, she discovers that dreaming can be just as much fun as being awake, and sleeping gives her energy to play.

I loved the blend of pirate accents and everyday life, and it was refreshing to see a girl cast in a book with a pirate theme. The beautiful illustrations are as energy-filled and entertaining as Charlotte Jane herself. Would make a great bedtime story for children who think sleep interferes with their real lives.

EL - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Layout & Background by Disney - ADVISABLE


Layout & Background (Walt Disney Animation Studios: The Archive Series), 279 p. Disney/Hyperion, 2011.  $50.  A book of few words – but LOTS of gorgeous full color photos – following the history of Disney animation from Winter Storage in 1949 and 2011’s Winnie the Pooh.  But this unique book looks specifically at the power of the backgrounds – the layout for the action. 

I started at the back – with the movies that were most familiar to me  - and moved my way to the front – to the movies that came out well before I was born.  What really amazed me was how much of the older pictures I recognized any way – just from the backdrop.  While this pricey book is probably not a good buy for a school – unless you have an animation class or a high level art class, a public library would be a great place for this and it would be good for any gifting opportunity for a Disney-fanatic. PUBLIC, GIFT – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans - ESSENTIAL


Evans, Richard Paul Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, 336 p. Simon & Schuster, 2011.  $18.  Violence: PG (implied torture, lots of it).  Michael Vey has always been unusual, but except for his best friend Ostin  and his mother, no one else knows about Michael’s powers until he makes a mistake.  Enter Taylor, cheerleader, popular – and with a hidden talent of her own.  As the little group delves into Taylor and Michael past, they find answers and questions and put a very dangerous enemy on their trail.  Because, you see, the pair are not alone with their powers.  Someone very dangerous has been collecting the others and using them for nefarious purposes. 

I was all prepared to dislike this book – I had been avoiding it for months, as I am not a fan of Mr. Evans original works.  Now, however, he has burst full-formed onto the teen scene and I can’t ignore the fact that I read this through in almost one sitting.  Yes, I really did like it.  MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine - ESSENTIAL


Levine, Kristin Lions of Little Rock, 297 p. Putnam’s (Penguin), 2012.  $17.  Violence: PG (bombing, racial tension), Language: G (one swear),  Mature Content: G.  Last year Little Rock Central High School was integrated.  This year the high school is closed – no students are allowed, only teachers are coming to the building, compelled by the federal government.  Marlee, 12, is at the middle school, but her older sister, Judy, is sent away to an aunt’s so that she can still get an education.  Marlee is a very quiet person, but when she meets Liz, a new girl, she starts to find her courage.  But Liz is a colored girl, trying to pass as white, and when her secret is discovered, she disappears overnight.  Marlee is going to have to find her voice – just like the more accepting people of Little Rock, the quiet ones, will have to stop letting the noisy, the violent, the rabble rousers, speak for the entire town.  
Even though the main character is young, I think any 7th grade or 8th grade teacher needs to look at this as a good choice for a new class novel.  Likewise, if you have students who read historical fiction, this is a must have selection.  EL, MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Leonard Marcus - OPTIONAL


Juster, Norton The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, 263 p. Knopf (Random), 2011. 
With notes by Leonard S. Marcus.  $30.  If anyone in your school teaches Phantom Tollbooth, then this is definitely a book that you need to get.  Marcus has added loads of interesting tidbits and facts and sidenotes to entertain and inform.  

Adults who grew up loving it will love this.  For the casual student reader, however, stick with the standard paperback edition.  GIFT – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher