Thursday, March 29, 2012

Orcs -Forged for War by Stan Nicolls and Joe Flood– OPTIONAL



Nicolls, Stan and Flood, Joe Orcs -Forged for War 208 pgs. First Second, 2011. $13.49. (Language-PG Violence-PG-13; Sexual Content-PG-13 nudity).
Humans are a new race to the land of Maras-Dantia, and they want to take over. They fight against all of the elder races. There is in-fighting in both groups. This graphic novel follows an elite team of Orcs, under the ultimate leadership of a sorceress named Jennesta. She sends them out on missions that they don’t always agree with. For their latest mission they must guard a group of Goblins, which they don’t like at all.
This book sort of has a complex plot, which is compounded by confusing artwork. The characters all have a similar look –so I was constantly confusing goblins with human with orcs. In the end I was unsure of some of plots twists. I half wondered if I was just not paying careful attention, but came to the conclusion that the plot wasn’t interesting enough for me to care. I think students might be drawn to this battle filled epic, but school libraries won’t enjoy the topless women.
MS, HS– OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Island of the Unknowns by Benedict Carey - ADVISABLE

Carey, Benedict.  Island of the Unknowns, 259 pages.  Amulet Book (ABRAMS), 2011 (originally published as The Unknowns in 2009).  $6.95 (paperback).  Language: PG (8 Swears); Sexual Content: G; Violence: PG.  Folsom Energy is a power plant.  Folsom Adjacent is the trailer park next to Folsom Energy (hence the name Adjacent).  In other words, it doesn't really have a name...it is a "nothing kind of place."  Nothing seems to happen there.  That is until people start mysteriously disappearing.  Lady Di and Tom Jones decide that something is wrong, and they start following clues left behind by Malba Clarke.  She uses math to lead them to answers to what is going on.  And they follow those clues and use more and more math as they go.  This book was okay.  It had its ups and it had its downs.  But I didn't love it.  The characters were quirky, but at times I felt like the author was trying too hard to make them quirky.  I enjoy math; in fact in school I liked math much more than I liked English.  And so I actually enjoyed reading and thinking about the math element.  The book would work well in a math class or in a cross-curricular unit.  It is for that possibility that I bump the book from optional up to advisable.  It deserves a place in schools, even if it is not a must-read.  EL, MS, HS - ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stealing Bases by Keri Mikulski - OPTIONAL


Mikulski, Keri Stealing Bases, 271 pgs. Penguin Group, 2011. Language - PG (21 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - PG; Violence - PG; Kylie's life is falling apart. Her parents split, her BF cheated, and she lost her spot on the softball team! With everything going down hill so fast, how is she supposed to stop it? She tries the only way she knows how: get upset and let her emotions fly. Unfortunately, that doesn't help. 

Although I loved the characters and all the drama, it didn't live up to the first few books. I enjoyed reading about softball and found the games in this book to be more interesting than the other sports that have been featured. I also loved how everything was resolved--the end is definitely worth reading. 

MS, HS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Around the World in 100 Days by Gary Blackwood - ADVISABLE


Blackwood, Gary Around the World in 100 Days, 358 pgs. Dutton Children's Books, 2010. Language - PG (2 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - G; Violence - PG; Harry is tired of everyone criticizing his automobile and so agrees on a £6,000 wager that his car can drive around the world in only 100 days. Along the way, Harry gains enemies and allies, learns about himself and his heritage, and has a lot of car trouble. Yet, somehow, Harry and his companions carry on and persevere. 

A fun spin on Around the World in 80 Days, this book is an entertaining read. It's surprising how things seem to fall into place when you endure. I love how witty all the characters are and love the different ways the reader got to experience the events, e.g. first-hand, newspaper articles, and journal entries. 

MS, HS - ADVISABLE. CCH

Shamra Divided by Barry Hoffman - ADVISABLE


Hoffman, Barry Shamra Divided, 301 pgs. Gauntlet Press, 2010. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - PG; Dara is still traveling and trying to figure out who she is. When she arrives at Stone Mountain, many of her questions are answered by recountings of her history that Briana tells her. These stories of the past leave Dara with a sense of knowing who she is, but more questions have popped up, leaving her curiosity unsatisfied as she continues on her journey after Stone Mountain. 

While the history lessons are fun and great to know, it did not help this book live up to the first. There is still one more to read, so I'm hoping it will answer the questions Dara and the reader are left with. 

HS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: CCH

Curse of the Shamra by Barry Hoffman - ADVISABLE


Hoffman, Barry Curse of the Shamra, 325 pgs. Gauntlet Press, 2009. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - PG; It was supposed to be the best day of Pilla's life and as close as it would ever get to Dara's. The beautiful day was ruined when they were invaded and taken over by the Trocs. Dara escaped into the swamp with some others, but she's the only female among them. She's also the only one with wits enough to lead. Though Dara is strong and courageous, she won't be accepted easily and winning their land back will be even more difficult. 

In war, there has to be casualties, but I resent this fact of book writing. Some Shamra died, but I loved being with Dara as she helped others survive. Dara is an extraordinary, if somewhat impatient, leader that I found myself looking up to her with as much respect as the Shamra she rallied. I am very excited to continue with Dara on her new adventure in the sequel. 

HS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: CCH
Taboo and Dennis, Steve, Fallin Up. Touchstone, 2011. pgs. 352. Language: PG-13, , Violence: PG-13, Sexual Content: PG-13.

Raised in East L.A., Jamie Gomez was no stranger to guns, family gang connections, drugs, and alcohol. After his mother married his stepfather, he never felt like he quite fit in. After becoming a father at a young age, he tried to make it in the world. Supported by his grandmother, he ran from job to job trying to support his family until his divorce from her. After reaching fame, however, with Black-Eyed Peas (a band he helped form in 1995), however, his troubles weren’t over. Battling a drug addiction and alcoholism, he almost lost everything. This is his story and what finally became his “wake-up call.”

A touching biography for fans of Black-Eyed Peas that deals with some matur issues. . The layout and narrative of the book are well-done and easy to follow. The photos are fun to look at as well. Readers who like biographies, music, and musicians will enjoy reading this book. HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Libarian, WHI Public Library.

Artemis the Brave by Joan Holub-ESSENTIAL

Holub, Joan, Artemis the Brave. Aladdin, 2010. pgs. 240. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G

Artemis is know by her friends for being brave and a great huntress. To her brother, Apollo she’s not only a friend but a friend in arms. When a mortal named Orion comes to school and catches her eye, she starts to think that she might be able to have a boyfriend too. Orion, however, is making everyone at the school mad and keeps trying to rewrite Principal Zeus’ play to fit his image of what a lead role should be. Could Artemis have made an error in judging Orion?

A great novel for anyone who likes mythological fiction. The characters are likable and recognizable figures in Greek Mythology. The plot does a good job of holding the reader’s interest. The story is easy to relate to even though they are mythology characters. Readers who like realistic fiction, mythology, fantasy, and school stories will enjoy reading it. EL (4-6), MS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Service Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt - OPTIONAL


Runholt, Susan The Mystery of the Third Lucretia, 278 pgs. Penguin Group, 2008. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - G; Kari and her best friend Lucas knew they were going to have fun in Europe; what they didn't realize was that it would be about solving a mystery. It started out as a game, but the closer they get to proving the case, the more danger they get in. These two girls sneak around, disguise themselves, lie a lot, and get help from all around the world. 

This mystery was cute and interesting with all the paintings and new places they see. I didn't especially like how the story was told with Kari explaining and interjecting in a very distracting manner. The ending was good, though, and very satisfying. 

MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

A Month of Sundays by Ruth White - OPTIONAL


White, Ruth A Month of Sundays, 168 pgs. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2011. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - G; Garnet is moving to Florida. Well, technically, she's staying with family members she's never met while her mom goes to find a house and job in Florida before sending for Garnet. So while Garnet's mom is gone, Garnet has the time of her life with new family and friends. Now Garnet has a big problem: she doesn't want to leave. 

While a short book, White was able to squeeze a lot of great stuff into this book. There are conflicts and triumphs and discoveries and growing horizons. I liked getting to meet Garnet's family and enjoying new experiences with her, but this book didn't pull me in.

 EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Flyaway by Helen Landalf - OPTIONAL


Landalf, Helen Flyaway, 167 pgs. Harcourt, 2011. Language - PG (15 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - PG; Stevie's life is complicated and not knowing where her mom went isn't helping. Stevie is taken in by her Aunt Mindy who eventually sends her mom to rehab. Stevie's life is turning around, but what about all the good times? Can she move on, or will the past continue to haunt her? 

Reading about Stevie was sad, but that made it so much more exciting when good things turned her way. I got very attached to Stevie and was cheering her on every time she did something hard. Although her life has lots of problems I'm thankful I don't have to deal with, I can relate to some of her troubles and was able to take strength and courage from her example. 

MS, HS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley - NO


Pixley, Marcella Without Tess, 280 pgs. D&M Publishers, Inc., 2011. Language - PG (11 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - PG; Violence - PG-13; Lizzie is still trying to move on--five years after her sister, Tess, dies. Lizzie's life isn't the same. Her life will never be the same. Yet, she needs to move on, but how can she let go and live when her can't? 

I went into this book wary, because I knew it was going to be sad. What I was not expecting was how creepy and demented Tess was. Lizzie recalls several experiences from when she and Tess played together and Tess's actions scared and disturbed me. I only kept reading to see what I hoped was an inevitable moving on in the end when Lizzie gets better and happier. Unfortunately, the ending wasn't even that good. MS, HS - NO. Reviewer: CCH

The Black Stallion and the Lost City by Steven Farley - ADVISABLE


Farely, Steven The Black Stallion and the Lost City, 245 pgs.  Random House, 2011, $16.99.  Language - PG (1 swear, 0 "f"), Mature Content - PG; Violence - PG;  The Black Stallion and the Lost City is about a horse named The Black, and Alec Ramsay, The Black's rider, who goes for an afternoon walk and loses their way.  Soon they find themselves almost back in time with flesh-eating mares and ancient rituals of the Greek civilization. 

I enjoyed how this book places you back in time with some Greek myths, while Alec and The Black are shooting a movie called "Alexander the Great."  It was very entertaining, and when you are waiting for something to happen, you are still just as entertained, as you would be during some action.  MS - ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: MD

First Hero by Adam Blade - ADVISABLE


Blade, Adam The Chronicles of Avantia: First Hero, 154 pgs.  Scholastic Press, 2012, $7.99.  Language - G (0 swears, 0 "f"), Mature Content - G; Violence - PG;  The Chronicles of of Avantia, First Hero is an action packed book, with you "on the edge of your seat" all the way through.  This book has legendary creatures who each has a chosen rider, and are destined to save their continent, one way or the other.  

I love how this book reminds me of the movie "Eragon", how he is a chosen rider and is destined to save his home land.  I also enjoyed how this book included a growth of friendship, because friends are some of the few other people in your life that you can trust.  EL - ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewer: MD

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Very Unfairy Tale Life by Anna Staniszewski - ADVISABLE

Staniszewski, Anna My Very Unfairy Tale Life, 208 pgs. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, November 2011. $6.99. (Language - G; Violence - PG; Sexual Content - PG)

Jenny is an adventurer - a human charged with the task of traveling to magical lands and bringing harmony to the creatures there - but after three years she's burned out on her lonely life and ready to go back to being a normal girl. Unfortunately, 'normal' isn't possible, with magical creatures popping up in her everyday life, trying to get her to fulfill one final mission, two best friends who seem to have forgotten her, and parents who mysteriously disappeared years before.

From the first scene, which is both tense and funny, My Very Unfairy Tale Life is an enjoyable romp filled with of humor, adventure, surprises, and a hint of romance - perhaps fulfilled in the sequel? Although a few of the plot twists are wacky to the point of absurdity, Stansiszewski's witty voice, colorful cast of characters, and occasionally chilling imagery make Jenny's adventures fun to follow along with.

EL, MS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pandemonium by Chris Wooding – ADVISALBE

Wooding, Chris and Illustrated by Diaz, Cassandra Pandemonium 178 pgs. GRAPHIX, 2012. $9.99. (Language-G Violence-G; Sexual Content-G).
Seifer has a great life in this small town, and is much loved as a captain of Skullball –where he flies and throws his way to victory. He has always wanted to leave home, but his opportunity comes unexpectedly –when he is kidnapped to replace the missing Prince of the Darkling Realm. He is now pretending to be Prince Talon, and when its time for war, Seifer knows he must do his best.
I think both older elementary students as well as middle school students will enjoy this creative fantasy. The older students will love the plot, while the younger students will enjoy the bits of slapdash. The book really grew on me and by the end I really enjoyed it, and hope a second book comes out soon. The art wasn’t top notch, but still creative and fun.
Elementary, MS– ADVISALBE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Crocodile's Tears by Alex Beard ADVISABLE




Beard, Alex Crocodile's Tears, 48 pgs. Harry N. Abrams Publishers, January 2012. Content - G PICTURE BOOK


One morning in Africa, Crocodile begins to cry. Rhino and Tickbird know Crocodile is dangerous so they don't ask why, instead they seek out Eagle to see if he knows. Eagle can only guess, so he sends Rhino and Tickbird to Elephant and the two go from animal to animal but never get a sure answer. The ending is rather surprising and made me laugh.


This book has very original and unique artwork. It's a very beautifully written story. It's message is conservation and animal preservation, which is obvious but stops at the edge of overbearing.


EL - ADVISABLE, Rebekah, youth services librarian

Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long ADVISABLE



Long, Ethan Up! Tall! and High! 40 pgs. Putnam Juvenile, February 2012. Content - G PICTURE BOOK

This contains three really short stories. The format reminds me of Mo Willem's Piggie and Elephant books, with birds of bright colors speaking simple, short sentences in speech bubbles. The first story is about who is the tallest, second is which bird can fly the highest, and the third is which bird is up and which is down. It's a cute, very simple concept book for younger readers. I like the bold, simple illustrations.

EL, Pre-K --ADVISABLE, Rebekah, youth services librarian

Jammy Dance by Rebecca Janni OPTIONAL




Janni, Rebecca Jammy Dance, Illustrated by Tracy Dockray, 40 pgs. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, February 2012. Content - G. PICTURE BOOK


Told in rhythmic rhymes, almost as if the reader is meant to dance to the beat, this story follows two young children, a boy and a girl, from bath to bedtime. Some of the rhymes are a stretch and some of the lines didn't make sense in the context of the stanza, but overall it works. Though with all the jumping and dancing of the protagonists, I'm amazed they were able to fall asleep. The illustrations are sweet and uncluttered, dark outlines filled with pastel colors. It's a cute bedtime book. If you have a need for bedtime books in your school library, then I'd recommend. Otherwise, a pass.


EL - OPTIONAL, Rebekah, youth services librarian

Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda ADVISABLE





Rueda, Claudia Huff and Puff, 32 pgs. Harry A. Abrams Publishing, March 2012. Content - G.



The cover asks the question, "Can you blow down the houses of the three little pigs?" Inside is a simplified version of The Three Little Pigs, with the reader as the wolf. Down comes the straw house, down comes the stick house, but no matter how hard the "wolf" tries, the brick house stays up. But the "wolf" does manage to blow out the candles on a cake. For which all four characters are happy as they share dessert.


There are very few words, only one sentence on each spread. The illustrations are simple and uncluttered; very cute. I love the expressions on the piggies faces. I'm a fan. This would be a great read-a-loud book for younger audiences.

EL, Pre-K - ADVISABLE. Rebekah, youth services librarian

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard OPTIONAL



Hubbard, Kirsten Wanderlove, 352 pags. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, March 2012. Language - R (68 swears, 7 "f"); Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - G.


Eighteen-year-old Bria is struggling after a horrible break-up with her long time boyfriend and in an effort to escape her unhappiness, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America with Global Vagabonds. It isn't what she expects, and when the chance comes to travel with two backpackers instead, she swallows her reservations and does so. Over the next few weeks she rediscovers herself and her art (there are drawings by the author in the book), and finds a little romance, too.



I really loved this book. Bria has a very strong voice and her growth as a character is satisfying. The writing was great and I loved the drawings interspersed throughout the novel. Bria's adventures in Central America was very interesting and had a satisfying ending. My only reservation for this book is the content.



HS--OPTIONAL. Rebekah, youth services librarian

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Eye of the Sun by Dianne Hofmeyr –OPTIONAL

Hofmeyr, Dianne Eye of the Sun 336 pgs. Aladdin 2011. $6.99. (Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G, Language: G).
This book is the sequel to Eye of the Moon, which I reviewed here. There are quite a few plotlines that come together. First we find Isikara and Tuthmosis sneaking back to Thebes to contact Tuthmosis’s younger brother, the current ruler-Amenhotep. They want to let him know the real story of their departure and to help him stop his advisor/High Priest Wosret.
Additionally –we follow the story of Ta Mui, who originally helped the pair escape, she is now the Maidservant to one of Amenhotep’s lesser wives, Kiya. When Ta Mui falls in love with a handsome boy named Samut –she finds herself in a heap of trouble. Ta Miu and Isikara end up in jail together –they have to find a way to escape and help Tuthmosis before Wosret ruins everything.
I can’t stress enough that this sequel cannot function as a stand alone. It was so complex with plot and characters that much of the richness of setting and the cultural appeal fell to the wayside. I didn’t enjoy this book half as much as the first one and I felt like the ending was far from realistic, which contrast with the gritty lives depicted in the plot. If you have the first book this is a probably a must-have none the less.
Elementary – OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

The Pirate's Blood and Other Case Files (Saxby Smart, Private Detective #3) by Simon Cheshire –ADVISABLE

Cheshire, Simon and Illustrated by Alley, R.W. The Pirate's Blood and Other Case Files (Saxby Smart, Private Detective#3) 272 pgs. Roaring Brook Press 2011. $12.47. (Violence: G, Sexual: G, Language: PG –uses the word ‘Swear’ to step in for expletives).
Saxby is a young detective who takes much inspiration from Sherlock Holmes. He is frequently approached to solve mysteries. This book features three mysteries. In the Pirates Blood Saxby tries to figure out if a pirate display of artifacts at the local museum is haunted. Luckily he has some handy friends to help out –Muddy and Izzy. Relying on his keen perception and intellect, Saxby unravels complex situations.
Overall a wholesome and intelligent detective book for elementary students that features the stereotypical cadence of any holmes story. One problem is that the characters are age ambiguous. Younger students (drawn in by the illustrations) will find the text a bit too challenging, while older students will be off put by the illustrations showing quite young characters. I am not sure if the age thing was an intentional vagueness but it detracts from the book. Second, although this book could easily function as a stand alone, the frequent and unnecessary plugs for the other books get a bit annoying.
Elementary – ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Kirshnaswami –OPTIONAL

Kirshnaswami, Uma and Illustrated by Halpin, Abigail The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, 272 pgs. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011. $13.06. (Rating: G in all categories).
Dini and her best friend Maggie love Bollywood movies, and are particularly awestruck by the actress named Dolly. When Dini has to move to a small town in India, she is sad to leave her best friend, but determined to track down Dolly. Dini has read that Dolly is going through some heartbreak, and Dini is determined to help. Thanks to a kind postal worker, and a huge series of coincidences, she might just get that chance….
Despite that fact that she is a typical 11 year old, Dini’s obsession with Dolly is difficult to read about. (Its too late to save the story for me when Dini realizes she needs to tone it down, because that happens close to the end). I think a majority of students will have a hard time relating to the Bollywood style film references, unless that is popular at your school. While I wasn’t too crazy about the story itself, the illustrations were adorable and perfect for this book!
Elementary – OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie -MLS graduate & Author.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shooting Stars by Allison Rushby - OPTIONAL

Rushby, Allison Shooting Stars, 272 pgs. Bloomsbury/Walker & Co., February 2012. (Language - PG; Sexual Content - PG; Violence - PG). Teenaged paparazzo Jo will do whatever it takes to get the perfect shot, but papping has grown old, and Jo wants out of the game. So when a sleazy editor offers her a huge sum - enough to quit for good and finally enroll in the portrait photography classes she's always wanted - she takes it. In return, she must go undercover at an exclusive retreat in order to dig up dirt on teen star Ned Hartnett. What's even worse than betraying the confidentiality of the only celebrity who's ever been nice to her? Falling in love with him.


Shooting Stars sounded like a juicy read with plenty of insider scoops about the lives of the paparazzi and celebrities. However, the first half was very slow, as the action kept stopping so Jo could agonize yet again about whether or not she should do this assignment. It was also very difficult to sympathize with her, because she makes some rather questionable decisions, although she grows more likable as the story progresses. Rushby did throw in several fun twists, and the developing love story was a sweet touch. In addition, the book dealt with several heavier issues in very deft ways. MS, HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hades Lord of the Dead by George O'Connor -ESSENTIAL

O’Connor, George Hades Lord of the Dead (Volume 4 Olympians series), 80 pgs. First Second, 2012. $9.99. (Language G; Violence G ; Sexual Content G).
A classic Greek Myth illustrated in modern day graphic novel form. This volume is the story of Persephone and Hades. The story is told from a couple of perspectives. The first is from the Goddess Demeter, a loving mother to her daughter with Zeus, Kore. When Kore goes missing, Demeter will stop at nothing to find and rescue her. The second perspective is that of Kore, a teenage girl, interesting in boys and stepping out from the shadow of her mother. After she is kidnapped she finds her own identity, as Persephone.
This was an excellent re-telling of a greek myth, and the author is breathing new life into interesting, but often dry, classic myths. I cannot imagine a better way to connect students to the Greek Myths. The story was engaging and the artwork was creative and top notch. If Greek myths are part of your curriculum, this series is a must have.
Elementary, MS, HS –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Also Known As Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher - OPTIONAL


Fletcher, Ralph Also Known As Rowan Pohi, 199 pgs. Clarion Books, 2011. Language - PG (21 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - PG; While hanging out with his buddies one day, Bobby fills out an application for the resident prep school as "Rowan Pohi." They all thought it would end there, but a letter soon arrives congratulating "Rowan" on being accepted. On a whim, Bobby becomes Rowan, goes to Whitestone, and actually starts to like it. "But with any fairy tale there's got to be trouble too." Will Bobby/Rowan have to go back to life before? 

Fitting in can be hard when you're being yourself, let alone someone else, but I love that even being someone he wasn't Bobby was able to learn things about himself. Bobby worked hard to get what he wanted and when he knew the gig was up he told the truth. That's what I like about Bobby. I also like this book because it's possible and gets you thinking. If you're looking for a fast, captivating read, this is for you.

 MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH


Death Watch by Ari Berk - OPTIONAL


Berk, Ari Death Watch, 523, Simon & Schuster, 2011. Violence: PG13, Sexual content: G, language G, (no swears).  In this lyrical novel almost reminiscent of an old ghost story, Ari Berk weaves a sad, sweet tale of a boy's quest to find his father and himself when he and his mother move back to his creepy uncle's house in their small hometown of Lichport. If Lichport is really known for anything, it's the community's morbid fixation with death. The biggest business in town aside from the tiny store is the mortuary, and ghosts seem to be wandering every corner. 

This book was hard, if not impossible to summarize, as it wove together so many important plot pieces and character stories. It was a very long read though, and you'd really have to have a very high comprehension level to understand most of it there's no doubt in my mind that it was especially beautiful. I absolutely adored every paragraph I read, especially when Bea was introduced. Every moment kept me guessing and even though I usually know right off how a book is going to end, this one really surprised me. I absolutely cannot wait to devour the next in the trilogy. 

MS, HS - OPTIONAL, Student reviewer BT

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wildwood by Colin Meloy-ADVISABLE

Meloy, Colin, Wildwood. HarperCollins, 2011. pgs.560. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

When Prue’s little brother, Mac, gets stolen by crows, she follows them in an attempt to get them back and finds herself at the border of the Impassable Wilderness. After returning home to get supplies, she and Curtis, a boy from school who runs into her along the way and decides to go with her, find themselves in a parallel world filled with talking animals, an exiled Dowager Governess, and a world torn apart by war. Shortly after arriving, Curtis is captured by Coyotes and Prue is forced to find help and fend for herself. When she meets the current Governor-Regent, he reluctantly agrees to help her find her brother. His attaché’s actions, however, don’t seem to match that of someone trying to help her. Told through alternating points of view of Curtis and Prue, the lines of right and wrong appear blurred and trust seems impossible. Will Prue and Curtis be able to save Mac and make it back home?

A fun-filled adventure for fantasy fans. The characters are well-developed. The plot is a little confusing, but fast-paced, complex, and engrossing. Readers who like animals, war, action, and parallel worlds will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian,WHI Public Library.

Wildwing by Emily Whitman-ADVISABLE

Whitman, Emily, Wildwing. Greenwillow Books, 2010. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

Trapped by her limited options as a young girl in 1913 and made fun of constantly by the girls at school, 15-year-old Addy longs to be anything but a servant. One day, forced by her mother to quit school, Addy becomes a maid for Mr. Greenwood, the local eccentric who mysteriously lost his son. Venturing behind a forbidden, locked door in the man’s study, Addy finds herself transported back in time to 13th century England. There she is mistaken for Lady Matilda, a gentlewoman who was arranged to marry the lord of a nearby castle. When Addy discovers that the real Lady Matilda died in a tragic ship accident just before she got there, she realized that she might have a chance at a new life. She can’t help but start to have feelings, however, for the falconer’s son shortly after arriving, however. To make matters worse, the caretaker of the castle sees right through Addy and threatens to kill her crush if she doesn’t marry the lord. Will Addy choose to return home or will she stay in 13th century England? If she stays, will she marry the lord or run off with the falconer’s son?

A great historical fantasy for fans of time travel. The characters are well-developed and likable. The plot is relatively unique and does a good job of holding the reader’s interest. Readers who like science fiction, adventure, and history will enjoy reading WILDWING. EL(4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

The Look Book by Erika Stadler-OPTIONAL

Product DetailsStadler, Erika, The Look Book. Zest Books, 2011. NON-FICTION.

Throughout history, famous people have dressed and done their makeup in such stylish, unforgettable ways that people. This book has a brief biography about their lives, how they dressed, and how to reproduce their look.

A good book for girls who want some basic makeup and style tips. Some of the actresses the readers won’t recognize, but will enjoy looking at their looks. Readers who like style, hair, makeup, and other such books will probably enjoy reading and applying the information provided in this book. MS, HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Song of the Sword by Edward Willett-ESSENTIAL

Willett, Edward, Song of the Sword. Lobster Press, 2010. pgs.336. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

After spending several years in foster care, Ariane is finally trying to start a new, happier life with her aunt. On her first day of school, she manages to make friends with Wally Knight, a shy boy who turns out to be into mythology as well. Unfortunately, he also happens to be the brother of the school bully who has taken it upon herself to make Ariane’s life miserable. To make matters worse, Ariane has been having nightmarish premonitions that seem to be coming true. When one of her frightening apparitions brings her and Wally to a lake, the two discover that they have been chosen to find the various parts of the mythical sword, Excalibur. Merlin, as it turns out, is evil and has come back to Earth as Rex Major in order to forge the sword back together. If the two don’t defeat him, he will destroy everything as they know it. Can Ariane and Wally defeat Rex Major and keep at bay Wally’s sister?

A funny, quick read for fans of King Arthur, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, mythology, and fantasy. The characters are well-developed. The plot is intense, well-developed, and paced well. Readers will have an easy time relating to Wally and Ariane and will enjoy following them on their adventure. MS, HS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library

Good Behavior by Nathan L. Henry-ADVISABLE

Henry, Nathan L., Good Behaviour. Bloomsbury USA, 2010. pgs 272. Language: R, Violence: PG-13, Sexual Content: R

Nathan Henry was the boy from everyone’s nightmares. Growing up in the poor area of Indiana as a child, his father exposed him to every violent or horror movie you can imagine. This and the friends he hung out with, inspired him to not only be a Satan worshipper, but a boy obsesses with sex, violence, guns, drugs, and alcohol. When his friend, Phillip, and he decided to commit armed robbery and run from the police, Nathan found himself facing trial as an adult. As he awaited trial in the County Jail, he found himself changing. Some for the worse, some for the better. This is his story.

GOOD BEHAVIOR is a hard-hitting story that really opens the reader’s eyes to the at-risk individual mentality and background. Although the swearing and sexual content is a little overwhelming at times, it fits well into the story and helps readers to see what was going through Nathan’s head as an adolescent. The narrative is well-written and easy-to-follow. The transitions between the past and the book’s present flow smoothly and do a good job of keeping the reader’s interest and painting the whole picture for the reader. High school-age individuals or older who are at-risk or like reading books about true-crime, urban fiction, or books by Walter Dean Myers will enjoy reading this book. HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library

The Winter Pony by Iain Lawrence - ESSENTIAL


Lawrence, Iain The Winter Pony: Who Will Survive the Race to the South Pole?, 234 pgs. Pelacorte Press, 2011. $16.99 Hardback. Language: PG ( 5 swears, 0 "f"); Mature Content - PG; Violence: PG; "The Winter Pony, Who Will Survive the Race to the South Pole?" is mainly the horses, James Piggs, perspective of the journey to the South Pole, that includes a journal of Captain Robert Falcon Scott at the end of each chapter.  It shows all their hardships and much of the danger and sacrigice the team made together.  

This book was an eye - opener to me, to see what the animals see and to learn some world history and seeing how lucky we all are with our different adventures, big or small.  Also, it was amazing to build on my belief that, "to do great things, you need to sacrifice" though, maybe not always as big of a sacrifice.  

MS, HS - ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: MD

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - NO


Blake, Kendare  Anna Dressed in Blood  316 pages. Tom Doherty Associates, 2011.  $17.99.   Language: R (90 swears; 13 God; 14 “F”); Sexual Content: PG; Violence: R.  Cas is a sixteen year old ghost hunter who follows ghost stories to catch murderous ghosts.  When he goes to Thunder Bay to track Anna a ghost with a high death count, he quickly finds that there are supernatural elements at play that he has yet to understand.  Cas has to have help from his two new friends, Carmel and Thomas, to stop the murdering in Thunder Bay.  

The mystery involves his family’s past and dark powers.  I thought this book was extremely violent and dark.  Ghost stories take on a whole new meaning of creepy.  
HS-NO  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Warp Speed by Lisa Yee-OPTIONAL

Yee, Lisa, Warp Speed. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011. Language: G Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

As a Star Trek fan and all-around geek, Marley Sandelski is pretty much invisible to everyone, but the bullies. Constantly outrunning the bullies’ attacks and homework swiping, he’s become a fast runner. With a girl named Emily he wants to impress and a girl named Max he wants to prove to that he’s not a loser, his life could his life get any more complicated? His wish just might come true when Coach Martin offers him a position on the track team. Being on the track team would definitely give him popularity points, but he’s not sure he has the killer instinct he needs to compete. Will Marley choose to join the team? Will he get the girl? Will he gain some popularity he desperately desires? Will he ever get rid of the bullies?

A humorous realistic fiction story for geeks and Star Trek fans. The characters are fairly well-developed. The plot is entertaining and does a fairly good job of holding the reader’s interest. Readers who like humor, realistic fiction, and school stories will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Bone: Tall Tales by Tom Sniegoski-ADVISABLE

Sniegoski, Tom, Bone: Tall Tales. Scholastic Press, 2010. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

Before the Bone cousins were lost in the uncharted forest, there was Johnson Bone. Discoverer of the Rolling Bone River and founder of Bonneville, there is little known about this person, but there are many tall tales filled with rats, dragons, and a snarky monkey as a companion. Are these tales true? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

A graphic novel adventure filled with action and adventure The characters are a little one-sided, but the plot is entertaining and consistent. The illustrations are detailed and complement the text well. Readers who like graphic novels, humor, adventure, and the Bone series will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price - OPTIONAL


Price, Charlie  The Interrogation of Gabriel James  170 pages Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010. $16.99.  Content: Language PG-13 (28 swears; 5 God); Violence: PG-13; Sexual Content: PG-13.  Gabe is a junior in high school and feels as though he is always just getting by especially since his father has left them.  Gabe had a girlfriend, but once her dad found out that they had gone on an overnight camp trip, he could no longer date her.  In an attempt to move on, Gabe becomes interested in a girl at school named Raelene, but when he tries to find out more about her he becomes aware of her unusual home life.  Gabe is also keeping an eye on the town bum who seems to be leery of some criminal activity in the town that involves missing pets.  In the format of an interrogation from two cops, Gabe tells what he knows of two murders and Raelene’s family’s secret.  

I thought the interrogation format was a great way to uncover the mystery.  The story is not easy to relate to, it has a more true crime feel to it.  

HS - OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Judy Moody Twice as Moody by Megan McDonald - ADVISABLE


McDonald, Megan  Judy Moody Twice as Moody  Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds  286 pages. Candlewick Press,  2011. $7.99.  This book is actually the first two books of the Judy Moody series combined in one book.  In the first book, Judy Moody is a third grader who wants a new pet, so her parents take her to get a venus fly trap.  She also sits next to a boy at school named Frank and after she ignores his attempts to become friends, she ends up at his birthday party and finds out that he is a really nice person.  The second part of the book is about Judy’s attempts to become famous.  Judy is jealous of the spelling bee winner in her class, so she makes a couple of attempts at her own kind of famous.  But when one of her attempts puts her friend at the hospital with a broken finger she finds a way to help the hospital that makes her anonymously famous.  

I thought the character learned good lessons each time, my only complaint is that she isn’t always nice to her little brother.  

EL (3-6)-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter-ESSENTIAL

Carter, Ally, Out of Sight, Out of Time. Disney Hyperion Books, 2012. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

Imagine waking up in a Catholic convent in another country and having no idea how you got there or even what day it is. All you remember is the night you escaped from your school to go find a clue your missing father left for you to uncover. This is what happened to Cammie Morgan. She left her school for spies, Gallagher School for Girls, back in June. It is now October and she has no idea what she was doing during that time. When she arrives back at school, she starts having abilities she never had before and some are even dangerous. She blanks out for periods of time she can’t remember, little things will set her off and cause her to attack people who aren’t her friends, and she keeps humming an unknown tune that she never remembers hearing. Now, the school’s (and the world’s) greatest enemy, the Circle of Cavan have decided they like her better dead. What really happened to Cammie this summer? Is Cammie safe to stay at school or did she somehow become a deadly weapon? Did she ever find her father’s clue that could bring down the Circle?

A great adventure and mystery in one. Although Cammie’s personality seemed off in this book compared to the other books in the series, this still fits the plot well. All of the characters are well-developed. The plot is intense, well-written, complex, and hard to put down. Readers who like mystery, adventure, spies, and have read the other Gallagher Girls books will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.