Friday, August 31, 2012

The Mad Mask by Barry Lyga-OPTIONAL


Lyga, Barry,  The Mad Mask. Scholastic Press, 2012. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

When Mighty Mike the alien crash-landed on Earth, prankster, Kyle Camden was in the area and ended up absorbing super brain powers and flying abilities. Determined to prove Mighty Mike is a phony and not a good superhero, Kyle becomes a supervillain. Little beknownst to him, however, Mad Mask was also in the area and absorbed super brain powers and one ugly face. Bitter towards the world for shunning him for his disfigurement, Mad Mask shows up on Kyle’s doorstep and enlists his help with finishing his 10-story-tall creation, Ultitron. A device he says is meant to defeat Mighty Mike, but secretly is meant to destroy more than just the alien superhero. Mad Mask wants to have his large-scale revenge and then wants to kill Kyle. Will Kyle find out before it’s too late? Will he be able to stop the masked villain?

A funny, quirky version of superherodom. Alhtough Mighty Mike and Mad Mask are a little one-dimensional, the other characters are well-developed and likable. The twist on the classic anti-hero makes the reader think about what truly makes one evil or one good. The plot twists and turns are entertaining and keep the story moving at a fairly good pace. Readers who have read Archvillain and like superheroes, aliens, pre end-of-the-world scenarios, and adventure will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Wild About you by Judy Sierra –ADVISABLE


Sierra, Judy and Illustrated by Brown, Marc Wild About You! 40 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. $10.79  (Rating: G)
All the animals and creatures at the zoo are having babies. But not the tree kangaroo or the pandas, so they are sad. But when a new egg arrives, none of the animals know what kind of baby is inside. But the kangaroo doesn’t care and is even when it turns out to be a penguin, which wasn’t what she was hoping for, she loves it even more. Every animal at the zoo helps to take care of it. Next its the Pandas turn.
With some great themes about community, adoption, and unconditional love –well you can’t go wrong. Not to mention the great art by Marc Brown. Its slightly lyrical, very colorful, and sweet as can be.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian 

Night Knight by Owen Davey –ADVISABLE


Davey, Owen Night Knight 32 pgs. Templar, 2012. $11.67.  (Rating: G)
This is about a little boy who wishes he was a real Knight, so he takes a pre-bed time adventure as Knight -via his imagination. He rides a horse through the forest of his hallway, climbs mountains of stairs, and even faces crocodiles to brush his teeth.
This is fantastic book and will no doubt win awards. I love how the author captured the over the top imagination his main character. The only fault I found were that the color scheme is so monochromatic that it won’t be useful for story time.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata - OPTIONAL

Kadohata, Cynthia A Million Shades of Gray 216 pg. Atheneum BFYR, 2010. Language - PG. Sexual Content- PG. Violence - PG-13. $16.99. Deep in the jungles of South Vietnam, thirteen year old Y'Tin is the best elephant trainer in his village. He dreams of one day going to elephant training school or even opening his own training school. Those dreams come crashing down when his village is attacked by the North Vietnamese. He is separated from his family and flees with his elephant, Lady, into the jungle. His father always told him that a jungle will change a man, and it isn't until Y'Tin is forced to choose between family, friends, enemies, and elephants that he understands what his father means.
I was intrigued with the premise of this book, but it fell flat for me. It was very dry and very slow. It did give the reader a glimpse into the struggles of the Vietnamese people during this time period, but I think kids would have a hard time enjoying this one. EL/MS- OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland - OPTIONAL

Greenland, Shannon The Summer My Life Began 250 pg. Speak, 2012. Content - PG. $7.99. Elizabeth Margaret (Em) is restricted by her families rigid set of rules and life outline. She figures nothing will change until an unexpected letter arrives from a mysterious aunt she has never met. Em's aunt invites her to spend the summer at her Bed and Breakfast on the outer banks of North Carolina. Deciding to take the plunge, Em dives into a summer full of romance, freedom, and change and finds that by the end, she is ready to make some life choices she never dreamed she'd have the chance to make.
Definitely a beach read. The story line about family and forgiveness is something we've all read, although there was a major twist. The writing style was simple but kept my attention. The character development was decent, and everything worked out a little too perfectly. Nothing to rave about- just a quick, easy read. MS/HS - OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bugs Galore by Peter Stein -ADVISABLE


Stein, Peter Bugs Galore 40 pgs, Candlewick Press, 2012. $11.98.  (Rating: G)
A jam packed rhyme all about bugs. Its lyrical and describes everything from the bugs that fall into your food, that you step on, that smell bad, and that even crawl on poo!
I really like this book. It has fun bright imagery perfect for a story time, along with super silly funny words that will have your students laughing out loud.  
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Ready for Pumpkins by Kate Duke -ADVISABLE


Duke, Kate Ready for Pumpkins 40 pgs, Random House Children's Books, 2012. $11.98.  (Rating: G)
Hercules is a class guinea pig who doesn’t like to be left out. When he sees the children in his class growing seeds, well it’s a sure bet the Hercules is going to too. He sneaks out of his cage during summer break and plants a pumpkin seed and takes care of it. What will happen when Hercules has to go to back to school, but his pumpkins aren’t full grown yet!
Dreaming and accomplishing your goals with initiative and self  motivation, is always a good lesson for people of any age.  The artwork was cute but not stand out for me.  I think that after students read this they may wonder what their class pet is plotting!
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan-ADVISABLE


Monaghan, Annabel, A Girl Named Digit. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. Pgs. 187. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

Digit is 17 and a genius, only she doesn’t want everybody to know it. Digit likes to pretend with her friends she’s just like them-only while watching a show with her friends, she cracks a terrorist plot. The FBI needs her help and stages a kidnapping. Will she be able to help them stop the terrorists and return to her normal life?

The plot is fun and moves fast. This mystery adventure mixed, with a little clean romance, has great characters and does a good job of holding the reader’s interest. Readers who like spies, action, and adventure with well-developed plots will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira Moody, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen -Advisable


Van Dusen, Chris Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit 32 pgs, Candlewick, 2012. $10.77.  (Rating: G)
Randy Riley two favorite things collide in a spectacular way in this story. He loves baseball, but isn’t so great at it. He loves astronomy and is so good at it that he is the first to notice that a fireball is headed right for his town. He creatively combines his two hobbies in his attempt to save the day, and he just might have some brains and luck on his side.
The story is over the top and fun, and combined with the big stunningly bright artwork –it’s a homerun for a silly story time.
EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Dog Loves Drawing by Louse Yates -ESSENTIAL


Yates, Louise Dog Loves Drawing 32 pgs, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. $10.77.  (Rating: G)
Dog finds out that drawing is more than just coloring when he fills the pages of a blank book with his story.  His art takes him on a fantastic little adventure!
This is an inspiring book for learning to love illustration. Students will love seeing how adventures come to life. Perfect for a unit on the power of Picture books.
EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds -ADVISABLE


Reynolds, Peter Sky Color 31 pgs, Candlewick, 2012. $9.45.  (Rating: G)
Marisol is thrilled to get a chance to paint part of a library mural at her school. But how can she paint a sky when they are all out of blue paint. Marisol starts to look at the sky at different times of day, and comes up with a wonderful solution.
This was a great book about thinking outside of the box. This is a perfect book for students, as a message to keep their creativity and unique thinking alive as they make their way through school. (Which we all know can sometimes be a right and wrong answer kind of place). I also love how everything but the paint and sky are illustrated in subdued tones, playing up the brightness of the colors.
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Pirateria by Calef Brown -ADVISABLE


Brown, Calef Pirateria 40 pgs, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012. $13.98.  (Rating: G)
This is a great picture book Pirate story –its all a very special story -the Pirateria. Which is stuffed with everything a person needs to be a pirate. The text includes every pirate word imaginable.
This is a must have for September’s Talk Like a Pirate Day! Its going to be a fun storytime read and there are lots of sill words! The artwork is big, interesting, and colorful. I love that the book features girl pirates as well!
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning - ESSENTIAL

Manning, Maurie J. Laundry Day. 40 pgs. Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. $16.99.

In this delightful graphic novel, a young boy is trying to make a living shining shoes in a vibrant city in the early 20th century. When his slow day is interrupted by a red scarf falling from the sky, he and his trusty cat go in search of the scarf's owner. Up, up he climbs, along clotheslines and over balconies, talking to the diverse tenants of the nearby buildings. Along the way, he does thoughtful things for each person he meets. His generosity is rewarded with friendship and a few nice surprises.

This sweet book would make a very nice addition to many collections. The illustrations spread across the page in various shapes, lending an active feel to the novel, and the hustle and bustle of the city are captured through many fun details. A great introduction to lessons on cultural tolerance, history, and/or generosity.

EL - ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn.

City Chickens by Christine Heppermann - NO

Hepperman, Christine City Chickens. 64 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. $16.99. What looks like a helpful, feel-good guide to raising chickens in the city is actually the story of a family who converted their home into a chicken rescue center, as well as the biographies of many of the hens and roosters they rescued. Several of the stories are heart-warming, while others are very sad, and the section at the end about how to prepare for adopting chickens could prove helpful. Unfortunately, the book's message - that it's important to be prepared before setting up your own coop - is lost in an exhaustive background of the family, the rescue, and the adopted birds. There is little solid, helpful information, and the disorganization and nonessential info make the text difficult to follow and, frequently, boring. Younger students may find the pictures and story disturbing, as the book touches on such subjects as cockfighting, medical testing, frostbite, and animal attacks on coops. EL, MS - NOT RECOMMENDED. Reviewed by: Caryn.

Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice-ESSENTIAL

 
Surplice, Holly.  Guinea Pig Party, 32 pgs.  Nosy Crow, 2012.  $14.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. Ten adorable guinea pig are celebrating a birthday.  One by one, the guinea pigs disappear in the party fun. But once a birthday wish is made, all friends are back to celebrate once more.  In this perfect counting book, children are challenged with rhyming clues to guess the next number.  This book would be great for celebrating a birthday, or for learning and practicing numbers.  The rhyming is perfect and fun to read.  The illustrations are bright and inviting.  We loved this book!  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Take Two! A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis-OPTIONAL

Lewis, J. Patrick.  Yolen, Jane.  Take Two!  A Celebration of Twins.  Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 72 pgs.  Candlewick, 2012.  $17.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. This book contains a collection of original poems by two famous authors: J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen.  This is a perfect book to read to and share with anyone expecting or enjoying twins.  Titles like, “Be Careful What You Wish For”, and “Eating With Twins”, helps readers to know that this book is filled with heartfelt truth and surprise.  Because there isn’t a lot of classroom application, I have rated it OPTIONAL, but it would be a great purchase for those experiencing twins on a day to day basis.  EL(K-3). EL. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: SL

Just Ducks! by Nicola Davies- ADVISABLE


 Davies, Nicola.  Just Ducks!  Illustrated by Salvator Rubbino.  32 pgs.  Candlwick, 2012. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G. The title says it all, this book is just about ducks- but with a twist.  The author includes facts about ducks and their behavior on every page of this book.  In addition, we share in an experience of a little girl who hears the ducks outside her window in the morning, and joins them down at the river to see and learn how fascinating these creatures can be.  This is a very informative book .  The illustrations are detailed and exquisite.  This book could be used in a unit on ducks.  EL(K-3).  EL.  ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.   

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills-ADVISABLE

Hills, Tad.  Duck and Goose Find A Pumpkin.  BOARD BOOK. 22 pgs. Schwartz & Wade, 2012.  $10.99. Content: G.  Thistle has a big beautiful pumpkin.  His friends, Duck and Goose, want one as well.  But where will they find one?  In this large board book, Duck and Goose explore the sights and sounds of autumn by searching for a pumpkin.  They look high and low, and explore the world around them. This is a beautifully illustrated board book.  The words are simple and the story easy to read.  Pre-K.  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL

Bears in Beds by Shirley Parenteau-OPTIONAL

Parenteau, Shirley.  Bears in Beds.  Illustrated by David Walker. 32 pgs. Candlewick, 2012.   $15.99. PICTURE BOOK Content: G.  Big Brown bear and his four little bear friends are ready for bed.  Some bears go quietly to bed , some twirl into bed, others wrestle and play. When all are safely tucked in, “Whoosh goes a sound in the middle of the night.” All bears are scared and out of bed.  Big Brown bear comes to the rescue and helps the four little bears back to soundless sleep.  This is a good story for little ones afraid of going to bed at night.  I didn’t love the rhyming.  At times it was difficult to read.  The illustrations are adorable.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Paul Galdone - OPTIONAL

Galdone, Paul The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. 40 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. $8.99. A retelling of the classic story based on the Brothers Grimm version. A decent rendition, although the story is overly wordy and formal, and the old-fashioned illustrations make the book seem dated. EL - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn.

Little Red Riding Hood by Paul Galdone - OPTIONAL

Galdone, Paul Little Red Riding Hood. 40 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. $8.99. A retelling of the classic story based on the Brothers Grimm version. A decent rendition, although the story is overly wordy and formal, and the old-fashioned illustrations make the book seem dated. EL - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn.

Revenge of the Loser by H.N. Kowitt- ADVISABLE

Kowitt, H.N. The Loser List #2: Revenge of the Loser, 240 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2012. $5.99. Violence-PG.  Sexual Content-G.  Language- G.  This book is a sequel to “The Loser List”.  Danny is a known nerd.  He and his friend Jasper want to plan a field trip to a very expensive water park.  A new kid comes into town and he wants to plan a field trip that will help less fortunate kids.  Both boys need to raise enough money to fund their trips.  Danny and Jasper plan a talent show.  Unfortunately, some school bullies try to wreck their plan and Danny has to dodge brutal attacks on his talent show.  Will the show go on?  I liked this book.  The comics are really funny.  It is a simple book to read.  This book could really happen in middle school so it was somewhat realistic.  EL.  MS.  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed: ML- age 13. 

Wanted! A Guinea Pig Called Henry by Wendy Orr-ESSENTIAL




Orr, Wendy. Wanted! A Guinea Pig Called Henry.  Illustrated by Patricia Castelao.  128 pgs.  Henry Holt and Co., 2012.  $5.99.  Language- G, Mature Content- G, Violence- G.

This book is about a girl named Sam who wants to buy a pet.  The problem is that she lives in an apartment.  She discusses it with her parents over dinner and they agree to get a guinea pig.  She goes to the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter and looks at all the guinea pigs.  She has her eye on a blond one.  That night she dreams about this blond guinea pig and when she goes to the shelter the next day, she sees a little black guinea pig named Henry.  In her dreams that night, the blond guinea pig turned black haired.  When she got to the animal shelter the next day, she ends up getting Henry.  Her brother gets jealous that she had a pet and he doesn’t.  How will they solve this family problem?  

EL (K-3) ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewed: JL-age 9. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf - ESSENTIAL

Wolf, Allan The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic 480 pg. Candlewick Press, 2011. Content: PG. $21.99. Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, Wolf has managed to weave together history and fiction to create this utterly compelling tale. It is told from the perspective of 24 different voices, including that of the iceberg and ship rat. The voices span class and station and are both young and old, male and female. Each character has a unique voice, and there are several different writing styles used from letters to telegrams to verse; however, Wolf moves seamlessly between each character and transports the reader to that fateful April night, making it all seem real again.
Included at the back are character notes, a Morse Code key, and other miscellaneous information about the Titanic from how many survived to how many pounds of sugar were aboard. Despite the fact that the Titanic's sinking is well known, I learned things I never knew about it and utilized the extensive bibliography also included at the back. This book was well researched and completely enthralling to read. Artfully and wonderfully written- highly recommended. MS/HS - ESSENTIAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Gil Marsh by A.C.E. Bauer - OPTIONAL


Bauer, A.C.E., Gil Marsh, 171 pgs. Random House, 2012. $15.99 HC. Language- PG (4 swears), Mature Content- PG (short scene with underage drinking), Violence- PG (mugging).

Gil Marsh is a modernization of the ancient epic of Gilgamesh. Set in an American high school, it tells the story of Gil and his best friend Enko, and the life-changing journey Gil goes on after Enko unexpectedly passes away. GIl makes many bad decisions but in the end takes away a valuable lesson.

The book is short and easy to read. It does a good job of re-telling an ancient story in a modern way. Gil goes on quite a journey in the 170 page book and that left me wanting a little more detail in some scenes. Gil’s motivations and obsession aren’t explained well, but that wasn’t enough to ruin the book. IT kind of felt like a Gary Paulsen novel with a little less quality. It will work well for low-level readers (but they will need help with the French, or they can skip the words like I did).  

MS, HS – OPTIONAL Reviewer: BLM.

Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford - OPTIONAL


Standiford, Natalie Secret Tree, 245 pgs.  Scholastic Press 2012. $6.99, Language-G (0 swear words)Mature content (PG for bathroom vocabulary).Violence-G.  

Araminta Mortimer known as Minty is ten during an eventful summer. She and her best friend Paz both love roller derby and plan to do their team tricks in the Fourth of July parade.  That is, until things start to change.  Minty is seeing  flashes in the woods  in her neighborhood and  things are disappearing.  She takes  on the mystery and becomes  involved in the mystery itself.  Minty comes upon a tree that reveals  secrets and mysteries that she tries to solve on top of the  first mystery.  Minty’s  friend, Paz, is growing up too fast for Minty and  she is left wondering if she will have any friends left at the end of summer. This fun juvenile mystery is recommended for children ages, 8-11 for content and  vocabulary.  The plot keeps you wanting to read more and  has some intriguing twists and turns.  An thoroughly enjoyable read for children of this age range. 

EL-OPTIONAL. Linda, Elementary Teacher.

The Exceptionals by Erin Cashman - ADVISABLE


Cashman, Erin  The Exceptionals  Holiday House,  2012.  $16.95.  236 pages.  Content:  Language:  PG-13 (21 swears; 2 Gods); Sexual Content: PG; Violence: PG.  

Claire’s family members all have special talents, such as truth-sayers or mediums, but she can only hear animals.  She has pretended like she can’t hear animals ever since she decided that it wasn’t that special.  After her parents decide to move her to the special academy that is run by the family, Claire becomes more interested in tapping into her talent.  Claire also meets a strange and mysterious boy in the forest named Dylan who she falls for, but he doesn’t go to the school.  As the star students start disappearing from the special school, Claire’s parents go in search of the problem, but Claire and Dylan, with the help of Claire’s brother and friends, find that the problem is closer than they realize.  Also, Claire discovers that her talent is been part of a prophecy and she needs to develop it to help her family and the friends that she has made.  

This book has a lot of action, great characters and a fun storyline.  There are parts of the book that have bad transitions and a few times the author builds up a part of the story, to explain it too quickly in a sentence or two.  The cover is awful, and the character on the cover looks to be twelve, even though the characters in the book are sixteen.  Overall, I enjoyed the read.  MS, HS-ADVISABLE.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.