Saturday, February 17, 2018

Crown : An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes - ADVISABLE

Barnes, Derrick Crown : An Ode to the Fresh Cut, illustrated by Gordon C. James. PICTURE BOOK. Bolden (Agate) $18. 9781572842243

Oh, the things that could happen to you because you’ve been to the barber and got a fresh haircut!  You’ll ace your test, turn the heads of the girls across the hall, you’ll feel like a million bucks.

A tribute to a young boy of color’s experience, he looks in the mirror and sees the best him, where he’s part of the community - no longer boy, but someone who is defined by their crown (haircut) - looking your best builds confidence, self esteem and pride.  This feel good book celebrates more than just a haircut, it's about culture, and community too.  This picture book is also a fun read for upper elementary kids - especially those who can relate to the subject.

EL (K-3) ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder - ADVISABLE

Snyder, Laurel Charlie & Mouse, illustrated by Emily Hughes. PICTURE BOOK. Chronicle Books, 2017. $15 9781452131535

Charlie and Mouse are brothers.  It’s the day of the neighborhood party, so they gather their friends along the way to the park. Later, they decide to earn money selling rocks, no one wants more rocks, but other means of earning money present themselves. Finally we see them stall going to bed.

This is a terrific beginning reader.  4 chapters, the darling illustrations remind me of Maurice Sendak and the simple text is perfect for the young independent reader.

EL (K-3) ADVISABLE.  Lisa Librarian

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green - ADVISABLE

Green, Shari Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess, 234 pages. Pajama Press, 2017. $10 Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

It’s the end of sixth grade and 12-year-old Macy’s world is falling apart.  She is in a fight with her best friend Olivia, who is the only one to really speak sign with deaf Macy, and with a genealogy project due at the end of the year, Macy is forced to work alone.  Her mother is about to get married, and this means there is a horrible For Sale sign on their house, she really doesn’t want to break up her team of just she and her mom.  How can she stop the wedding?  Macy’s mother has volunteered her to help 85 year-old Iris Gillan - the next door neighbor - sort all of her books because Iris is moving into a retirement home.  The book sorting becomes therapeutic - Iris is very interesting and keeps a notebook where she can write for Macy the stories about why she is keeping some of the books; Iris also makes an effort to learn to finger spell.

This book in verse is the middle school Schneider Award winner, and is a sweet read.  Full of lessons learned from people Iris has met as well as books she has read, this is full of titles named dropped (I love books that do that)! A quick read for either the upper elementary or middle school student.  I love the diversity - yes, Macy is deaf, but the disability doesn’t drive the story.  A great story of empathy.

EL - ESSENTIAL  MS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Zip! Zoom! On a Broom! by Teri Sloat - OPTIONAL


Sloat, Teri Zip! Zoom! On a Broom Illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet PICTURE BOOK Little Brown and Company, 2017. $17. Content: G. 

This is a witch counting book.  A witch joins other witches until there are ten on a broom.  They have trouble with that many witches on a broomstick and they fall off one by one until there is one witch left on the broom.  She glides across the moon.  

This is fun to read aloud because of the poem and the predictable counting.  The illustrations aren’t great and some pages the illustrations are too dark.  There are better Halloween books out there.  

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Be the One by Byron Pitts - OPTIONAL


Pitts, Byron  Be the One, 119 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2017. $18. Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R.  

ABC News Correspondent Byron Pitts tells the story of six teens who have overcome hardships in their lives.  He tells about the hardships of each of the teens which includes: rape, being bullied, caring for mentally ill parents, living in war torn countries, and the death of loved ones.  As each youth tries to persevere, Pitts asks each teen “Where do you go when the world hurts too much?”  They find hope and peace through art, their families or in other small ways.  

The book has an introduction that explains why Pitts wrote this book, then six different chapters on each of the teens.  At the end there is an author’s note where he expresses his desire for youth to keep trying.  There is also a list of helplines that youth can use. The teens stories felt rushed.  I didn’t feel like I was able to get to know the individuals, so their hardships seemed to be what stood our more than the hope that they found.  It’s a very sad read, but teens need to learn what other kids are going through so they can be empathetic and not bully others.  That said, the violence includes a child who watches his uncle being tortured and it’s very graphic and gruesome.  The rapes also happen to very little kids and although it’s not detailed it’s upsetting.  

HS – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Tiptoeing Tiger by Philippa Leathers - OPTIONAL


Leathers, Philippa The Tiptoeing Tiger PICTURE BOOK Candlewick Press, 2018. $14. Content: G.  

Little Tiger is told by his older brother that he can’t scare any of the animals in the jungle.  Little Tiger tries to prove his brother wrong, but all the animals aren’t scared of him because he is little or because they could hear him coming.  Eventually, Little Tiger tries to scare a frog in the pond.  As he leans over the water to roar, he scares himself with his own reflection.  He is happy to report back to his brother that he can scare someone-himself.  

Little Tiger is adorable and the simple illustrations are well done.  I loved his attitude about scaring himself that he saw it as a success.  This is a cute book for younger readers.  

PRE-K, EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

When a Wolf is Hungry by Christine Naumann-Villemi - OPTIONAL

Naumann-Villemi, Christine When a Wolf is Hungry, illustrated by Kris De Giacomo. PICTURE BOOK. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers $16. 9780802854827

Edmond Bigsnout is a hungry wolf, but he’s also very picky about his choice for dinner.  He wants rabbit, but a special one.  So he rides his bike into the city, finds the exact rabbit he wants (Max Omatose), and, knife in hand he starts up the elevator to Max’s apartment.  But before he can, well, get his dinner, he realizes he left the knife in the elevator! By the time he gets back, his knife is gone (the Turkey borrowed it to cut her cake) so he returns to the woods for something else.  Everytime he comes back, someone borrows his, um, tool.  Will he ever get this little bunny for his dinner?

This book is a little dark.  It’s a Batchelder honor - originally published in France. I’m not sure how well it would be received by its intended audience.   It’s a story about being a good neighbor.  Good neighbors don’t eat each other.

 EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Whydah by Martin W. Sandler - ADVISABLE

Sandler, Martin W. The Whydah : A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked & Found, 176 pages. NON-FICTION. Candlewick Press, 2017. $20. Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (discussion of amputations and wounds).

In the early 1700s, a pirate named Black Sam Bellamy “traded up” to a slave ship called the Whydah.  It was a huge pirate ship, with room for lots of men and lots of booty.  It was a fast ship, heavily armed  and easy to maneuver, so it made pirating (attacking other ships and stealing their stuff) profitable. They plundered as many as 4 ships in a day.   Besides telling the story of Bellamy and The Whydah, the reader is educated on the history of pirates, the rules of piracy (called The Articles of Agreement), and jobs on a pirate ship - did you know they had musicians who played aggressive sounding music during battles, to frighten the opponents and urge on the pirates?  The Whydah sank and was lost under the ocean off Cape Cod for over 200 years, until it was discovered again in 1984.  The final chapters tell of the discovery/recovery process, and the technology used to find the wreck.  

I loved all the information about pirates!  This was so fun to read, and kids who are Pirates of the Caribbean fans will eat this up.  The format had some major issues for me.  I felt the historical sections, slipped in when it was happening in the story, broke up the text too much.  I found them very informative, but the placement was weird.  Also, the period maps were difficult to read - maybe it’s my old eyes but there was so much tiny text in them they weren’t all that helpful except in a general sense.  Full of drawings, pictures and maps, this well documented resource includes a long bibliography and an index.

MS, HS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Adora finds a Friend (Star Darlings Series #10) by Sahan Muldoon Zappa and Ahmet Zappa -OPTIONAL

Zappa, Sahan Muldoon and Ahmet Neil Adora finds a Friend (Star Darlings Series #10), 146 pages.  CHAPTER BOOK.  Disney, 2016.  $7. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

In this tenth book of the series, the Star Darlings are busy trying to decide if Lady Stella has betrayed them and all of Wishworld. Some of the Star Darlings have gone into some secret caves to investigate them, whiles others are tasked with helping them once they need rescue. Then Adora gets to go on her first mission to the human world –she finds her wisher, a lonely camp counselor in training named Hannah. Will she be able to grant Hannah the right wish and harvest the energy to help Wishworld?

I really do like this series, but the demographic still sits really strange to me. All the first and second grade girls want to read these, but they are more like a third or fourth grade reading level –an age that doesn’t show any interest. I still check them out to the younger readers, but they don’t quite get the whole reading a series in order thing that is necessary to understand this series –nor do I think they actually read them. But this 10th book if you have fans at your school and it won’t disappoint.

EL –OPTIONAL.  Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author

Not So Different: What your Really want to ask about having a disability by Shane Burcaw -ADVISABLE

Burcaw, Shane Not So Different: What your Really want to ask about having a disability, 25 pages.  PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION.  Roaring Book Press (Holtzbrinck), 2017.  $18. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

This picture book is a semi autobiography of the author, though its main focus is a Q & A on his disability. Shane was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy and is in a wheelchair. In this book he answers questions about if he can climb stairs, how his chair works, what he eats, if people ever make fun of him, and much more. Large expressive photographs accompany each page.

This is a wonderful book! A teacher could share this book their students to help them understand others with disabilities. Student readers will find this book interesting, informative and love Shane’s sense of humor. Because of its size and bright photographs this book could be shared with a large group. Great for all elementary ages.

EL(K-3), EL – ADVISABLE.  Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author

Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with her Song by Kathryn Erskine -OPTIONAL

Erskine, Kathryn Neil Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with her Song, 25 pages.  NON-FICTION.  Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2017.  $19. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

This is the life story of Miriam Makeba –a talented singer from South Africa who uses her words, her singing, and her passion to fight against Apartheid in her country. At one point, she is not even allowed to come back home and travels the world to sing her songs of protests. Blurry painted illustrations accompany.

This book would make a great addition to library sections on civil rights, South African history, and biographies of powerful influential talented woman. I think it works better as a teacher read-a-loud than for a student picking this up on their own to read. The illustration are bright but blurry and dated, making it hard to share with a group –I would have rather seen Miriam brought to life with vivid and clear imagery. Also students will be upset not to see an actual photograph of her in the back of the book. Because of the illustrations I am rating this as optional.

EL –OPTIONAL.  Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author

Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training by Joris Chamblain -ADVISABLE

Chamblain, Joris Neil Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training, 150 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL.  First Second, 2017.  $18. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

This is  the story of Cici –an aspiring writer and mystery solver. The first part of the book is the mystery of a man that Cici and her friends see in the woods from their treehouse. He is covered in paint. One day Cici decides to follow him and discovers a magical and tragic secret. In second part of the book Cici discovers an elderly woman who checks out the same book from the library week after week. She is so determined to solve the mystery (as the one before) that she ends up telling fibs, using her friends, and ostracizing the people who love her. Will Cici be able to find a balance in her life? Filled with colorful graphic novel illustrations.

This is a fantastic book to add to your graphic novel collection. It has the most stunning illustrations I have seen to date –just incredible, readers will feel like they are actually there in this charming story. The plot has a ton of depth and a lot of heart –with lots of intrigue and life lessons. I would add this to my collection in a heartbeat.

EL – ADVISABLE.  Stephanie, Elementary School Librarian & Author