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Staff Book Reviews

2017

March 2017

Home Sweet HotelHome Sweet Motel
by Chris Grabenstein; illustrated by Brooke Allen

Home Sweet Motel is the first book in the new series, Welcome to Wonderland. Eleven year old  P.T. Wilkie, his mother, and grandfather run the Wonderland Motel in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida but they are struggling to keep it open. They may have to sell it if they can’t find the money to pay a loan that is coming due in a month’s time. P.T. and his friend Gloria work together to develop some money making plans to save the motel. One scheme involves finding some stolen diamonds that were hidden somewhere in the motel years ago and collect the reward money before the crooks, fresh out of prison, come back for the same money.  Readers of James Patterson’s I Funny series should give this new series a try. Funny, laugh out-loud, short chapters, wacky characters, a little mystery, and lots of illustrations make this a fast-paced and quick read. The book also includes some funny add-ons at the end of the book, such as how to say, “Help! The Toilet is is Clogged!” in more than 20 languages. Recommended for grades 4-6.

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POSTED: March 27, 2017

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Doll Bones by Holly Black 

Doll BonesReaders looking for a spooky adventure story will not be able to put Black’s Doll Bones down! Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in Children's Literature and a 2014 Newbery Medal Honor Book , this story follows three friends as they attempt to return a haunted doll, made from the ashes of a young girl who died years ago, to her grave. Despite the creepy premise there are not very many ghostly appearances by the deceased girl and only a few mildly scary scenes. Doll Bones is a fun, well-written, coming of age journey- perfect for fans of Goosebumps and recommended for readers ages 9-12.

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POSTED: March 21, 2017

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Snow White by Matt Phelan
Snow White

Phelan has published a beautifully crafted, unique retelling of the classic Snow White story that is sure to please fans of both the graphic novel format and fairy tales. Snow White is set in 1920s New York City and interestingly reads like a blend of historical fiction and realistic fantasy. Samantha White, nicknamed Snow, lost her mother at a young age. When her wealthy father remarries Snow finds herself the stepdaughter of an ambitious actress known as “The Queen of Follies”. Snow’s father has a ticker tape in the family’s apartment, which is constantly spitting out stock market updates, and takes the place of the Queen’s magical mirror in this reimagining. Slowly driven mad with jealousy from reading the messages on the tape, the stepmother hires a man to kill Snow. She luckily is saved by a gang of seven orphaned boys, a clever twist on the seven dwarves.  The stepmother eventually tricks Snow with a poison apple, but is saved by the dashing Detective Prince. Phelan’s nearly colorless watercolor evokes a dreamy tone and successfully continue the narrative when dialogue is absent.  Snow White is a stand-out graphic novel recommended for tween readers ages 9-12.

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POSTED: March 13, 2017

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All The Dirt: A History of Getting Clean
by Katherine Ashenburg

All The DirtAshenburg has written a very interesting, readable non-fiction title that outlines the history of human hygiene. That might sound boring at first, but this book is a really fun read! All the Dirt covers the history of bathing, waste management, washing of clothes, changing definitions of “clean”, and more. Young readers and adults alike will be surprised at some of the facts in this book, such as how people living in France during the eighteenth century might not have bathed more than once a year!  From the ancient Romans, medieval Europeans, and current practices in Zimbabwe and India- this book covers a wide variety of cultures and traditions. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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POSTED: March 6, 2017

February 2017

We Found a HatWe Found a Hat
by Jon Klassen

Klassen returns to finish his award-winning hat picture book trilogy with this gem involving two turtles and a coveted ten gallon hat. Readers who are familiar with
I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat will not be surprised to discover the story revolves around both turtles wanting the hat, but unlike his previous hat books, these animals are friends. Divided into three parts, the story begins with the turtles discovering the hat but agreeing to leave it behind because there is only one hand. Part two continues with the turtles watching the sunset together, though one of them is distracted by the nearby hat. Finally, in part three, the two friends go to sleep and the tale concludes with a beautiful dream sequence in which both turtles are wearing the great hat and floating in a dark, starry space.  A sweet and funny story about friendship, and of course, stylish hats. Recommended for ages 4-8.

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POSTED: February 27, 2017

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Tek, the Modern Cave Boy
Tek, The Modern Cave Boyby Patrick McDonnell

Tek is a cave boy who loves his technology: his tablet, video games, phone, and TV. He stays in his cave all day long glued to his electronic devices and has missed much of the outside world including dinosaurs and the entire Ice Age. However, when a volcanic eruption destroys his gadgets, Tek is forced outside into the prehistoric world. Will he be able to survive without his tech?  Is there life and fun beyond technology? This clever book actually looks like a tablet from its cover to most of its inside pages. As the story progresses, readers will notice how the “battery life” gets lower on each page as the “Wi-Fi signal” weakens to nothing. As Tek explores his new world without the use of technology, the tablet-like page format begins to morph into more of a traditional book format. Fans of Lane Smith’s It’s a Book will enjoy this one too. For grades 1-3.

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POSTED: February 20, 2017

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Gertie’s Leap to Greatness
Gertie's Leat of Greatnessby Kate Beasley; illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Gertie wants to be the best fifth grade student in the universe! She has lived with her father and her Great-Aunt Rae for most of her life after her mother left them and moved into another house on a different street. When Gertie learns that her mother is finally moving away from their town, she wants to show her mother how special and great she is. If she does, maybe her mother may not want to move away. Gertie develops a plan to become the best student in fifth grade. However, the new girl in school, Mary Sue, wants to be the best student too. There is only room for one great student in fifth grade so what will Gertie do? Despite the hardships and hurts of daily life, Gertie faces each day with a brave and hopeful face. Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale will enjoy this heartwarming story with a likeable, spunky main character. For grades 4-6.

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POSTED: February 13, 2017

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The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild RobotThis short and original story focuses on Roz, who is a robot. Roz finds herself alone in a secluded island wilderness after her shipping crate is lost at sea. She has many existential questions to deal with in this new place. Who is she and why is she here? The various animals she encounters are incredibly weary of her and at times violent in their attempts to scare her away. AS she struggles to survive, she finds herself responsible for a tiny orphaned gosling (orphaned due to Roz herself).  The animals begin to give her a chance and she tries to build a life for herself amongst the wild animals. This is an interesting survival story that also addressed many emotional questions regarding our purpose, where we fit in, and who are families are. The book is also sprinkled with various illustrations that add to the reading experience and will appeal to readers in grades 3-5 especially.

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POSTED: February 7, 2017

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Don’t Touch This Book! Don't Touch My Bookby Bill Cotter

Larry, the purple, blobby monster from Don’t Push the Button is back for another fun, interactive adventure. This time with books!  Larry does not want anyone to touch his book. But when he allows you, the reader, to touch a page with one finger….the magic begins for everyone!  Fans of The Book with No Pictures and The Monster at the End of this Book will want to add this delightful book to their read aloud collection to share with preschool and kindergarten children. Love the book? Meet Bill Cotter, the author and illustrator, in person here at Rocky River Public Library on Monday, February 20, at 11:00 AM!

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POSTED: February 1, 2017

 

January 2017

Bad Guys by Aaron BlabeyThe Bad Guys
by Aaron Blabey

The Bad Guys is the first in a new series featuring the Bad Guys - Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha. They want to start being known as the Good Guys and do some nice things for a change but their reputations (and rap sheets) stand in the way. By forming the Good Guys Club together, they plan to change that Bad Guy image. First, they start small by helping to get a cat down from a tree but soon they develop a grand plan to free 200 dogs from the Maximum Security City Dog Pound! Naturally, events don’t always go the way they are planned. Will they be able to do it?  Written in a graphic novel-chapter book hybrid format, similar to the Captain Underpants series, this easy and fun book is a treat to read. Look forward to more books in the series in the future. For grades 1-3.

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POSTED: January 23, 2017

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Emma and Julia Love Ballet
by Barbara McClintock

Emma and Julia Love BalletThis lovely picture book follows the everyday life of two ballet dancers, Julia a professional ballerina, and Emma a young ballet student. Readers see them from the moment they wake up, as they attend dance lessons, eat, read, and eventually meet at the end of the story when Emma gets her performance program autographed by the prima ballerina, Julia. McClintock’s wonderfully realistic illustrations capture the grace and athleticism of ballet, while working perfectly with the straightforward text.  Both characters devotion to ballet is made evident and ballet lovers of all ages will enjoy this story, though it is especially sure to please young readers dreaming of dancing on stage themselves one day. Recommended for ages 4-8.

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POSTED: January 12, 2017

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School Freezes OverSchool Freezes Over
by Jack Chabert; illustrated by Sam Ricks

Eerie Elementary is alive! Only 3 students, Sam, Lucy and Antonio, know that the school was brought back to life by the mad scientist, Orson Eerie.  In book 5 of the series, a terrible snow storm hits the school forcing the students to be trapped inside for the night. Oh no! Eerie Elementary begins to freeze from the inside out! Can Sam, Lucy and Antonio save the other students before everyone freezes? This fast-paced story with illustrations on every page will appeal to fans of Dav Pilky’s Ricky Ricotta series. Other books in this series are:  The School is Alive, The Locker Ate Lucy, Recess is a Jungle and The Science Fair is Freaky. For grades 2-4.

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POSTED: January 12, 2017

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All The DirtAll the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean
by Katherine Ashenburg

Ashenburg has written a very interesting, readable non-fiction title that outlines the history of human hygiene. That might sound boring at first, but this book is a really fun read! All the Dirt covers the history of bathing, waste management, washing of clothes, changing definitions of “clean”, and more. Young readers and adults alike will be surprised at some of the facts in this book, such as how people living in France during the eighteenth century might not have bathed more than once a year!  From the ancient Romans, medieval Europeans, and current practices in Zimbabwe and India- this book covers a wide variety of cultures and traditions.

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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POSTED: January 6, 2017

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2016

December 2016

The Best Bear in the WorldThe Best Bear in All the World: in which We join
Winnie-the-Pooh for a Year of Adventures in the
Hundred Acre Wood
 

by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, and Kate Saunders based upon the Pooh stories by A. A. Milne with decoration by Mark Burgess in the style of E.H. Shepard

October 14, 2016 marked the 90th anniversary of
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne! To celebrate the occasion, the Trustees of the Pooh Properties commissioned four authors to create a book filled with new stories about Pooh and his friends in the same magical style as A. A. Milne, the original author. This new collection follows Pooh throughout the year and also introduces a new character to the Hundred Acre Woods. This delightful collection will surely charm readers of all ages and gain more followers that truly believe that Winnie the Pooh is the Best Bear in the World! With color illustrations by Mark Burgess similar in style to the art of Ernest H. Shepard, the illustrator of the original Pooh books, this sequel should not be missed. Read more about Winnie and the Hundred Acre Woods at http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/10/winnie-the-pooh-facts.html. You can also read the award-winning book Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall for more facts about the bear that inspired Milne!

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POSTED: December 19, 2016

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GHOSTSHIPGhost Ship
by Erin Soderberg

Wally, a golden retriever puppy, and his human friend, Henry, are now official puppy pirates and part of the crew of the ship, the Salty Bone. Together with Captain Red Beard, a Chihuahua named Steak Eyes and 2 pugs they set sail on the seven seas in search of fun and adventures! When the 2 pugs continue teasing Wally about being a brave pirate, he decides to show everyone on the ship how fearless he is by spending a night on an abandoned ship in a nearby cove. As the night progresses, Wally begins to think the ship is haunted!  Will he be brave enough to stay the night?  Although this is the first Super Special title, there are other books in the puppy pirate series sure to please young readers. This super edition includes some fun activities for readers like instructions on how to draw a puppy pirate, cool puzzles, and how to play the “Puppy Pirates vs. Kitten Pirates" game! This entertaining, early chapter book is a must read for second and third graders who love animals, especially dogs.

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POSTED: December 12 , 2016

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Miss Piggle Wiggle and the Whatever CureMissy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure
by Ann M. Martin

This new book by Martin continues in the same style and manner as the original, fun Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. Since Missy spent lots of time with her great aunt as a child, she has learned many magic potions and spells. When Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle goes away to find her missing pirate husband, she asks Missy to take care of her Upside-Down House, her farm, and her animals. When the townspeople in Little Spring Valley find out that she is very much like her great-aunt, they soon come to her for help and cures for their children’s various misbehaviors. Will Missy be able to help?  This fun family read will win new fans and also appeal to the fans of the original series.

For grades 2-4.

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POSTED: December 5, 2016

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The Lines on Nana’s Face
The Lines in Nana's Faceby Simona Ciraolo

Ciraolo has created a sweet picture book about grandparents, family, and sharing memories. This beautifully illustrated story follows a curious young child who asks her Nana about the many lines on her face. Her grandmother explains the lines are where she keeps her memories and the child proceeds to test Nana by asking about various wrinkles and lines. Nana replies with a specific memory for each line which is then depicted in a two-page illustration spread. Ciraolo’s soft watercolor illustrations lend to the quiet and contemplative tone of this picture book. This title is ideal for a story time on the lap of a special grandparent or adult. Recommended for ages 4-8.

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POSTED: December 1 , 2016

 

November 2016

Maybe a FoxMaybe a Fox
by Kathi Appelt 

Maybe a Fox is an emotionally charged realistic fiction novel, sprinkled with some of the supernatural, which explores themes of sisterhood, our connections to the natural world, and grief. Appelt’s story follows 11 year old Jules, who already having lost her mother at a young age, must deal with the unexpected death of her best friend and older sister Sylvie. We also meet a young fox with a special connection to the spirit world whose own purpose in life is somehow tied to Jules. A wonderful story infused with magical realism, perceptive readers will find this tale poignant and affecting. You may be left pondering about this story long after you finish reading.  Recommended for ages 9-13.

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POSTED: November 7, 2016

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Hungry BirdHungry Bird
by Jeremy Tankard

Preschool favorite Tankard returns with another hilarious picture book exhibiting our friend Bird and his woodland friends. In Hungry Bird, Bird is on a hike with his pals when he gets a hankering for a snack. He has forgotten to bring food so he begins to ask each of his friends for a bite of their snack. Predictably, Bird does not want any of Beaver’s sticks or Fox’s berries, and soon finds himself hungry, angry, and barely able to continue hiking! Bird eventually tries a taste of his friends’ food, and happily discovers trying new foods isn’t so bad. A great story for picky eaters of the human variety and a fun read aloud perfect for sharing. Recommended for ages 2-6.

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POSTED: November 7, 2016

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They Saw a CatThey All Saw a Cat
by Brendan Wenzel

How do YOU see a cat? As the cat walks through the pages of this book, all of the creatures he encounters “see” him with their own, unique perception and not necessarily in the same manner as how you may see a cat. For example, the child sees him as a friendly pet, but the fleas see him as forest of fur. The simple, repetitive text makes this a great read aloud and the illustrations are amazing. Each page is completely different from the last!  This remarkable book will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Check out http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/they-all-saw-a-cat.html for a Teacher’s Guide, Activity Kit and Book Trailer. This is Wenzel’s first book as an author and illustrator. It is already getting lots of buzz as a possible contender for the 2017 Caldecott Award!

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POSTED: November 7, 2016

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Cody Harmon, King of Pets
Cody Harmon King of Petsby Claudia Mills ; pictures by Rob Shepperson

Part of the Franklin School friends series, this title is a great book for readers in grades 2-4 who love stories of friendship, school, and animals! With 9 pets, third-grader Cody thinks he will win the school’s pet show fundraiser. Cody really struggles with his reading, math, and spelling at school but he loves animals. He believes the school fundraiser will be his chance to star and shine at school but he needs the $10.00 entrance for all of his animals. How will he get all of his animals in the show? And will he win? Fans of the Clementine series and Ivy and Bean series will enjoy reading this book.

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POSTED: November 1 , 2016

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October 2016

The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home: Part 3
Chi's Sweet Homeby Konami Kanata.

Konami’s adorable and mischievous kitten, Chi, is back for more cute moments and silly antics in this new volume which collects books #4-6 of Chi’s Sweet Home. This adorable, family friendly manga has been translated from Japanese for English audiences to enjoy- and there is much to enjoy!  The story follows the journey of little Chi, a tiny kitten who was separated from her mother at the park one afternoon and taken in by a human family. Readers who love animal stories, especially cats, will love this latest addition to The Complete Chi omnibus. Full of sweet family moments, hilarious cat facial expressions, and small adventures, this latest volume is a hit. Highly recommended for readers in grades 2-5.

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POSTED: October 17, 2016

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PaxPax by Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 

At first glance, Pax may appear to be merely a story about a boy and his fox. Indeed this book begins as such a story, but readers will be treated to a more profound narrative with Pennypacker’s latest work. 12- year old Peter is forced by his father to abandon his tame pet fox, Pax, in the wilderness due to an impending war. Peter must go to live with his grandfather so that his father can help with the war effort. Pax is the tale of these two friends and their quest to find each other again despite many obstacles. Pax  is also about the many ways that war can damage families, the toll war can take on our environments and wildlife, knowing ourselves, dealing with loss, and ultimately learning what love means. Caldecott medal winner Klassen adds his talented touch to the story by providing the many lovely illustrations. Filled with heart-wrenching and beautiful moments, this is a book that will appeal to middle-grade readers who enjoy stories like Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan or the works of E.B. White.

Highly recommended for 9-12 year old readers. Sensitive readers should be prepared for some graphic depictions of injuries and intense scenes.

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POSTED: October 17, 2016

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Wally Does not want a HaircutWally Does Not Want a Haircut
by Amanda Driscoll.

This is a rollicking barnyard picture book full of rhyming and fun! The other barnyard animals are getting  their hair and fur cut and styled, but Wally refuses to get his fur cut. The other animals dance and sing but they cannot persuade Wally to get sheared! He still resists after his Mama and fellow barnyard friends show off their own fun new ’dos. But when Wally’s unruly hair holds him back from the barn hoedown, he might have to reconsider.

Recommended for 3-7 year olds.

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POSTED: October 10, 2016

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Star Wars Jedi Academy: A New Class
Jedi Academyby Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Krosoczka, known for his wildly successful and hilarious Lunch Lady graphic novel series, picks up the  Star Wars Jedi Academy series with this new title. A New Class is the fourth book in the series, following Jeffrey Brown’s great first three books (Jedi Academy, Return of the Padawan, and The Phantom Bully). Readers meet a new set of students in this story, hence the “new class” title, so if you haven’t read Brown’s books this is the perfect place to jump in. Readers will be introduced to a young padawan, Victor Starspeeder, who is incredibly excited to be starting school at the Jedi Academy!  He was transferred from his old school midway through the school year because he was exhibiting strong signs of the force (and because he was causing trouble!).  Victor has to deal with many of the same issues any kid must encounter at a new school- making new friends, not embarrassing his older sister, avoiding detention, figuring out which students may be Sith. There is plenty to enjoy here, but children who are familiar with the Star Wars universe will love the many jokes within the pages of the school newspaper “The Padawan Observer”.

Recommended for readers ages 8-12 (and parents who love Star Wars).

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POSTED: October 3, 2016

September 2016

Ida AlwaysIda, Always
by Caron Levis. Illustrated by Charles Santoso.

Levis has written a beautiful picture book that explores loss, grief, and how those we love are with us, always. Ida, Always follows zoo polar bears, Gus and Ida, who are the very best of friends. They spend all day together at the zoo, listening to the sounds around them and watching the people who visit. Soon Ida becomes ill and Gus can’t play with her like he used to. Gus tries to spend as much time with Ida as he can as he prepares to say goodbye to his friend. Ida and Gus teach readers that although we may suffer great loss, true love and friendship remain with us long after our loved ones are gone. Levin’s message is at once sad and uplifting, and Santoso’s soft, bright illustrations help to make this an amazing title. Inspired by real polar bears Gus and Ida at the Central Park Zoo, in New York City, this story will be a moving read and an important book to share with young children who may be coping with loss themselves.

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POSTED: September 26, 2016

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Thank You BookThe Thank You Book: An Elephant and
Piggie Book
by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie are best friends. This is the last book in the Elephant and Piggie series and they want to thank their readers and their friends in this book! Readers will learn it is important to always say “Thank you” while watching Piggie thank all of his friends from past Elephant and Piggie stories.  But Gerald is afraid that Piggie will forget to thank someone important. Will he? Check out the author’s website for more fun Gerald and Piggie activities.

Watch Mo Willems talks about The Thank You Book at http://bit.ly/2aB138Y.

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POSTED: September 21, 2016

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Im A GirlI’m a Girl! 
Written and Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail.

I’m a Girl! is a colorful and cheerful picture book that celebrates individuality, breaking gender stereotypes, and assures children it’s okay to be different!  Inspired by Ismail’s own childhood experiences witnessing her older sister often being mistaken for a boy, this story features a rambunctious young female aardvark who loves to be noisy, run, splash, and win! She proclaims, “I’m sweet and sour, not a little flower!”. Throughout the book she is addressed as a boy by other characters for a variety of reasons, to which she repeatedly responds, “I’m a girl!”. Near the end of the story we meet a male lion who is wearing a grass skirt and also breaking stereotypes of how little boys should be. This sweet story concludes with our non-conformist boy and girl high fiving each other and exclaiming “We’re us!”. Full of bright colors, action, and an awesome message of embracing individuality, readers of all ages will enjoy this fun book.

Recommended especially for preschoolers who may think outside the box themselves!

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POSTED: September 7, 2016

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CrenshawCrenshaw
by Katherine Applegate. 

This compelling novel from the Newbery-winning author of The One and Only Ivan explores some heavy topics, such as hunger, family homelessness, and unemployment, through a lens of magical realism. Applegate's story carries readers into the life of 10-year old Jackson whose musician parents are barely scraping by financially and facing a possible eviction. Jackson’s father suffers from multiple sclerosis and lost his job shortly after his diagnosis which left the family living out of their minivan for months. It was during this difficult time that Crenshaw, a very large talking cat with fingers, appeared to young Jackson as his imaginary friend. He now reappears as they are once again facing homelessness and Jackson struggles to deal with this reappearance and what it means for him. Applegate addresses the very realistic struggles that many families endure in our country with a gentle but effective tone.  Thanks to the addition of Crenshaw’s sass, magic and humor sprinkled throughout the novel, this story is saved from being perhaps too depressing for children. Recommended for middle-grade readers, this title is sure to invite important conversation.

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POSTED: September 7, 2016

August 2016

George by Alex GinoGeorge by Alex Gino

George may look like a ten year old boy but deep inside, he knows he should be a girl. The author tackles this timely and important topic with dignity and grace, creating a story the reader will remember long after the last page is read. When he learns that their class is doing the play, Charlotte’s Web, George really wants to play Charlotte but he is told that he can’t because he’s a boy. With the help of his best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan so that he can be Charlotte while also letting his family know who his true self is… a girl. This is a fast, poignant read but more importantly a hopeful book. George gives the reader a glimpse into the life of a young transgender person who is looking for acceptance from his friends and family. This realistic book is more suitable for older readers due to the subject manner but it would also be an ideal book to be read and shared together as a family as an introduction to this controversial topic.

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POSTED: August 29, 2016

 
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HiloHilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth
by Judd Winick; with color by Guy Major

This graphic novel introduces us to Hilo, a robot that crashes to earth and is rescued by D.J. Hilo doesn’t know where he came from or what he’s doing on Earth, so D.J. needs to help him understand how to live on Earth. Hilo really can’t go to school in only his underwear! The longer he stays on Earth, the more Hilo remembers. Soon he realizes he may need the help of D.J. and his friend Gina to save the world from creatures from another planet!  Fans of the Jedi Academy series will enjoy this fun, graphic novel suitable for grades 3-6. This story has it all- humor, adventure, super heroes, science fiction and a great friendship. DJ and Hilo are friends who would stop at nothing to protect each other. Look for the sequel, Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World !

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POSTED: August 22, 2016

 

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Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous BearFinding Winnie
by Lindsay Mattick; illustrated by Sophie Blackall

In the beginning of this nonfiction picture book, which won the 2016 Caldecott Award for best illustrations, a mother tells her young son a remarkable bedtime story about a veterinarian’s friendship with a baby bear. This real event happened in 1914.  Harry Colebourn, the mother’s real-life great grandfather and a veterinarian while serving in World War I, rescued a baby bear and named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Winnie became a mascot for his regiment during the war. After the war, Winnie ended up in the London Zoo where a father and his son named Christopher Robin saw him. Sound like a famous bear you might have read about before? A.A. Milne used this bear as his inspiration for the now classic friendship story of Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. This endearing story, full of wonderful illustrations, will be enjoyed by readers young and old. The end of the book contains a photo album of the real life Winnie, Harry, and Christopher Robin.

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POSTED: August 22, 2016

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Funny BonesFunny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh

This is an easy-to-read biography of the Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada who lived from 1852 to1913. He is best known for his drawings of the Calaveras, amusing skeletons performing everyday activities.  These skeletons have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival. The book includes an author’s note, bibliography, glossary, and index. It also includes fascinating descriptions of the different techniques that artists use in their works for lithography, engraving and etching. This biography book is perfect for readers in grades 3-5 and gives readers insight to an important Mexican festival, the Day of the Dead. The illustrations are wonderful. This book has won the Pura Belpre Honor for its illustrations and the Sibert Nonfiction award for 2016.

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POSTED: August 4, 2016

 

July 2016

The Princess and the PonyThe Princess and the Pony
by Kate Beaton

Princess Pinecone lives in a kingdom of Viking-like warriors who are rough and tough. She wants to be rough and tough too, so she asks for a pony on her birthday to help her become a warrior. The pony she gets isn’t quite what she expects. It is short and round and definitely not very warrior-ish. Readers will laugh out loud as this pony charms her way into the lives of the warriors and especially Princess Pinecone. The Princess and her pony together are unbeatable! This picture book will make a great read aloud and is perfect for grades kindergarten through second.

Posted: July 25, 2016

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I'm Trying to Love SpidersI’m Trying to Love Spiders: (It Isn’t Easy)
by Bethany Barton

Are you afraid of spiders? After reading this easy reading nonfiction book about spiders, you will definitely look at arachnids (spiders) in a new way. Do you know that you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider? There are lots of other fascinating tidbits like this throughout the book to help you alleviate your fears. The endpapers contain interesting information about a variety of spider species. Yes, keep telling yourself that spiders are good. You may never want to step on spider again, right? Written in a picture book format, this book has lots of information that will be helpful for those reports given to second and third graders. There is not an index or real photographs, but the non-scary drawings make this book a pleasure to read.

Posted: July 18, 2016

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The Adventures of Miss Petitfour
Petitfourby Anne Michaels; Illustrated by Emma Block

Miss Petitfour is an eccentric baker, adventurer, cat lover, reader, stamp collector and best of all, a storyteller. Her adventures with her sixteen cats will enchant readers young and old. Would you believe she flies with her cats and a magical tablecloth?  The bright and colorful illustrations are delightful and also add to the charm of the story. You don’t have to be a cat lover to enjoy this book as you follow Miss Petitfour and her cats on their different adventures. This is a perfect book for second to fourth graders who love Mary Poppins or Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

Posted: July 11, 2016

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Jacky Ha-HaJacky Ha-Ha!
by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein;
illustrated by Kerascoët

It’s the1990s and 12 year- old Jacky Hart is not enjoying middle school since she is always in trouble. Since she has a stutter, she has worked hard to be the class clown.  She has a joke for everything. After all, it is always better to have everybody laugh "with" you rather than "at" you. It is also easier to crack a joke than worrying all of the time about her mother who is serving in the Gulf War and her father who is working hard but never home, leaving Jacky and her sisters alone most of the time. While serving a detention after school one day, her teacher suggests Jacky should try out for the school play. Really? Can she do this with a stutter? Should she try? This realistic fiction story explores the ups and downs of Jacky’s life as she tries to handle her problems at school along with missing her mother and feeling very alone. Readers will find this an easy book to read with its laugh out loud short chapters. Fans of the Big Nate, Wimpy Kid and the Dork Diaries should give this book a try!

Posted: July 7, 2016

 

June 2016

Strictly No Elephants
Strictly No Elephantsby Lisa Mantchev; Illustrated by Taeen Yoo

Young readers will enjoy this sweet picture book about friendship, differences and inclusion. When a young boy and his tiny pet elephant are not welcome to the neighborhood pet club meeting, he ventures off and finds other children with odd pets who have been left out. They form their own pet club that welcomes everyone in the end! The various atypical pets the other children bring along are adorable and include a skunk and an armadillo. One child is even carting around a tiny narwhal in his wagon! Illustrator Taeeun Yoo  was nominated for the 2016 Children’s Choice Book Illustrator Award.

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Posted: June 21, 2016

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TreeTree: A Peek-Through Picture Book
by Britta Teckentrup.

This colorful, peek-through picture book shows readers an adorable owl experiencing the many stages of each season throughout the year, all the while perched in a tree hollow. The tree hollow is actually a hole cut in the cover and pages of the book, so owl’s surroundings change as you read the book. Other creatures come and go in more page cut-outs in this fun and gorgeous picture book.  A great pick for fans of owls in addition to those learning about the seasons. Recommended for ages 4 and up

Posted: June 10, 2016

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Horrible BearHorrible Bear!
By Ame Dyckman. Illustrated by Zachariah OHara.

A girl’s lost kite unfortunately ends up in the cave of a sleeping bear,  which he then accidentally breaks, causing the girl to angrily storm off shouting, “Horrible bear!”.  Poor bear is upset by this accusation and decides he will indeed become a horrible bear just to show her. While bear prepares by practicing making a ruckus, the girl is off having a fit over her broken kite. When she accidentally tears the ear off her stuffed animal she realizes accidents happen and maybe she was not very nice to the bear. After apologizing to bear the two become friends. This fun picture book, filled with beautifully painted illustrations, is sure to provide laughs while also teaching a subtle lesson to those of us who may have short tempers. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Posted: June 6, 2016

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Unicorns Vs. Goblins

Unicorns vs Goblinsby Dana Simpson

The third volume in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel series delivers plenty of laughs for kids and parents alike. Readers will follow Phoebe and her narcissistic unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, on various adventures. The pair visit summer music camp, spend time with old friends, and meet Florence Unfortunate Nostrils (Marigold’s estranged unicorn sister). A great, goofy read for children ages 8 and up.

Posted: June 2, 2016

 

May 2016

The War that Saved My LifeThe War That Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This is a beautiful, interesting and touching piece of historical fiction for middle grade readers. The story takes place in England at the beginning of WWII and follows young, spirited and impoverished Ada, who was born with a clubfoot and endures horrible mistreatment from her mother. Due to the threat of German bombing, Ada and her younger brother, Jamie, are sent away from London to live in the country. They are placed in the care of a lonely and apprehensive woman named Susan. She is not particularly happy about being forced to care for these two, but soon these three outcasts form a special family together. The book is not overly sentimental, but will inevitably tug a few heartstrings. You won't be able to stop yourself from smiling as you finish the last few pages. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Posted: May 23, 2016

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My New Mom and Me My New Mom & Me
by Renata Galindo

This very sweet, touching, and sparsely worded picture book tells the story of a newly adopted puppy and his new cat mom. Mom and puppy are learning how to be a family together, and the story realistically exhibits both happy times and rough patches. The book will appeal to a variety of readers, but especially new parents with adopted children who may be dealing with adjusting to their home life. The lack of gender or ethnicity attributed to the child and mother will make this accessible for children of all backgrounds. 

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Posted: May 17, 2016

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The Only ChildThe Only Child by Guojing

This graphic novel is a quiet and magical read for all ages. The soft, beautiful, charcoal illustrations carry this wordless story of a young child who is left alone while her mother is at work and sets out on her own to reach her Grandmother’s home. She subsequently finds herself lost and this is when the magic begins. Eventually, she is returned safely to her parents thanks to a new, special friend. Inspired by the author’s childhood in China, this story captures real emotional depth that will enchant young readers and adults alike.

Posted: May 9, 2016

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April 2016

Bear in Love
Bear In Loveby Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Wil Hillenbrand

Bear lives in a little cave in the woods. One day, he finds a crunchy orange treat waiting outside his cave. He enjoys it so much that he sings a happy song. This begins an endearing exchange of gifts. Will bear ever meet his secret friend? Impressionistic illustrations and changes in background color set the tone for this sweet story. For ages 4-6

Posted: April 26, 2016

 

The Great Monkey RescueThe Great Monkey Rescue: Saving the Golden Lion Tamarins by Sandra Markle

Golden lion tamarins are small monkeys, only the size of squirrels. They live in the Brazilian rain forest, and by the 1960s there were only about 200 of them left in the wild. Learn more about these orange-furred creatures and the efforts made to keep them from going extinct. Photographs on every page complete the picture. For ages 9 and up

Posted: April 18, 2016

 

Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life
Pete the Catby Kimberly and James Dean

The famous cool cat is back, this time with snippets of wisdom. Pete’s guide gathers famous quotes on all kinds of topics. Each is accompanied by a thought bubble with Pete’s groovy translation. For example, Eleanor Roosevelt’s “You must do the things you think you cannot do,” becomes “Nothing is impossible!” While the best part of the book is new artwork of Pete the Cat, older readers and adults may well enjoy the whimsical takes on useful advice. For ages 3 and up.

Posted: April 4, 2016


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MARCH 2016

Biscuit Goes Camping
by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Flashlights, check. Blankets, check. It’s time for everyone’s favorite silly puppy to have a backyard campout. But when a storm chases them inside, how will they salvage their camping trip? Clues in the pictures and unobtrusive repetition will aid beginning readers. The simple but complete storyline and familiar characters will appeal to young readers. For grades K-1.

Posted: March 14, 2016

 

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The Underground AbductorThe Underground Abductor
by Nathan Hale

This is a tale of the dark side of American history, but it also is the inspiring story of someone who did her best to relieve suffering. It is the story of Harriet Tubman. As befitting a book in the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, there’s plenty of danger and suspense. The graphic novel shows and well as tells the horrors of slavery, the difficulty of escape, and the daring required to return as an abductor, leading others to freedom.  Not for the faint of heart, grades 4-6.

Posted: March 7, 2016

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Lost in NYC
Lost In NYCby Jadja Spiegelman illustrated by Sergio García Sánchez

Its Pablo’s first day at a new school in a new city - New York City. Lucky for him, his class is taking a field trip to the Empire State Building. Unfortunately he ends up on the wrong subway train. Will he be able to meet up with his class? This graphic novel is as much about the art as the plot. Drawings capture the spirit of the bustling subway and incorporate well known landmarks. If you long for a trip to the big city, this graphic novel is for you. For grades
3-5.

Posted: March 1, 2016

 

 

FEBRUARY 2016

The Nonsense Show
The Nonsense Showby Eric Carle

Check out the newest offering from the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! Nonsense abounds in this funny picture book, with a rabbit pulling a boy out of a hat, a mouse catching a cat, and much more. The pictures alone are enough to make kids giggle, and the rhyming text adds to the jokes. Carle uses his classic style of collage with some added crayon elements that give the book a youthful tone. Readers will want to come up with their own nonsense scenarios. Great for sharing with the whole family!

Posted: February 22, 2016

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We Dig Worms
We Dig Wormsby Kevin McCloskey

Did you know that over 1 million earthworms can live in a small park? Beginning readers are sure to discover something new in this short graphic novel in which two kids and a bluebird interview a worm. Drawings on grocery bags illustrate each point.
For children learning to read.

Posted: February 15, 2016

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TROMBONE SHORTY
Trombrone Shortyby Troy Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier

In the New Orleans neighborhood of Tremé, music wafts through the air day and night. So it’s natural for Troy to form a brass band with his friends even though they don’t have real instruments yet. Then Troy finds a beat up, abandoned trombone. His comparatively small size earns him the nickname Trombone Shorty and his playing leads to him becoming a world renowned jazz musician. The book’s interesting collage and watercolor illustrations won the illustrator a 2016 Caldecott Honor. An inspiring picture book biography that a variety of ages will enjoy.

Posted: February 8, 2016

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CLICK!
ClickBy Jeffrey Ebbeler

Are you afraid of the sounds you hear at night around the house? You won’t be after reading this debut picture book written and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler! After everyone is asleep in the house, a bird lamp on the bedside stand of the young boy comes to life when he is bothered by all the sounds he hears. Using his long legs to get off the stand, the bird lamp begins to investigate. As he rambles around the house using his light to shine on the all of the noise-making objects, he fixes them so that the noise stops. He stops to fix a leaky faucet, moves a creaking rocking chair, sweeps some dust off the floor and closes a window to quiet the house. However, by the time he gets back to his bed stand, the morning sounds begin to wake the sleeping family and the house is no longer quiet. This imaginative, whimsical picture book is told entirely with illustrations and onomatopoeia sounds. It should ease the fears of any child who may be afraid of some of the same nighttime sounds. This will be a wonderful bedtime story to share with others.

Posted: February 4, 2016

 

JANUARY 2016

Lucy Longwhiskers Gets Lost
by Daisy Meadows

Lucy Longwhiskers Gets LostWhile trying to catch an injured Goldie the Cat in the woods near the animal hospital where they volunteer, two best friends, Jess and Lily, discover a magic portal that takes them into the Friendship Forest where all the animals talk and magic is everywhere around. The girls quickly make friends with a cute baby, bunny named Lucy Longwhiskers but they soon discover that all is not perfect in the Forest. The wicked witch Grizelda is trying to take control of the forest and animals. The girls work together to save Lucy and the forest from the evil witch’s powers after Grizelda kidnaps Lucy. This is the first book in a new series, Magic Animal Friends. More books in the series will be Molly Twinkletail Runs Away, Ellie Featherbill All Alone, and Bella Tabbypaw in Trouble. Short chapters with delightful black and white illustrations make this a perfect book for those readers in grades 2-3.

Posted: January 25, 2016

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THea Stilton and the Lost LettersThea Stilton and the Lost Letters
by Thea Stilton; illustrations by Barbara Pellizzari and Chiara Balleello (pencils), Valeria Cairoli (base color), and Daniele Verzini (color); translated by Emily Clement

Thea Stilton, the sister of Geronimo Stilton, and the Thea Sisters are back for a new adventure mystery. While at a figure skating competition in Russia, Thea and the Thea Sisters try to help a new friend who has been falsely accused of theft at the championship. Now, she won’t be able to compete for a gold medal unless Thea and her friends can find the real thief. In their investigation, they discover some ancient love letters that could be the key to this skating mystery. For readers in grades 2-5 who love funny, clever books with a surprise ending. Check out the Geronimo Stilton World website for some fun games and activities featuring Geronimo and his sister, Thea, at: http://geronimostilton.com/portal/US/en/home/?fw=1

Posted: January 19, 2016

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The Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdoms
Land of Stories: Beyond the Kingdomsby Chris Colfer; illustrated by Brandon Dorman

In the 4th book in the Land of Stories series, the Masked Man is trying to destroy the fairy tale world by recruiting all of the greatest villains in literature to fight for him by using a magical potion that allows him to travel between books.  The Fairy Council does not believe he will be a threat to their world so it is up to Alex and Conner Bailey to find a way to stop him. The story, although a little scarier and darker than the first three books in the series, is action- packed with lots of twists and turns and a major cliffhanger at the end. Readers will be begging for the next installment. “How long do we have to wait until the next book?” This is a great book for readers in grades 5-8 who love fairy tales and the classic childhood stories of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Posted: January 11, 2016

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Bagels the Brave!
Bagels the Braveby Joan Betty Stuchner; illustrations by Dave Whamond

Bagels, a Sheltie, Whippet and Jack Russell mixed breed dog that was expelled from obedience school in the first book of the series, Bagels Come Home, is back for a new adventure!  The Bernstein family along with Bagels is off for a fun, relaxing camping trip at Sasquatch Lake. However, the vacation doesn’t really turn out as expected when things start to go missing from the cabin and Josh Bernstein keeps seeing a mysterious hairy person in the woods. Could the real Sasquatch be alive and living at the lake? Written in a first-person narrative by Josh, readers of beginner chapter books in grades 2-3 will laugh out loud by the crazy antics of Bagels.

Posted: January 4, 2016

 

2015

November 2015

The Pirate Pig The Pirate Pig
by Cornelia Caroline Funke; translated by Oliver Latsch; illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

When sailor Stout Sam and his deckhand Pip find apig in a barrel washed ashore on the beach, they decide to keep her as a pet. Naming her Julie, the pair soon realizes that she is a pirate pig who has been trained to sniff out sunken treasures in the sea. The two sailors use her to find enough treasure to meet their needs on Butterfly Island where they live. Word soon gets to Barracuda Bill and his pirates. They want to kidnap Julie and use her for their own evil purposes. How can Sam and Pip keep Julie safe? The charming, colorful, watercolor illustrations add to the story. This easy, early chapter book will be perfect for readers in grades 1-3 who love fun and adventure on the high-seas. Fans of Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo should also give it a try.

Posted: November 9, 2015

 

October 2015

What Pet Should I Get?
by Dr. Seuss

What Pet Should I GEt?This picture book is a new treasure for kids of all ages to enjoy. The brother and sister from One Fish, Two Fish are back. This time, they visit a pet store to choose a pet, but they have a deadline. How can they choose from all the pets throughout the store? There are cats, dogs, monkeys, turtles, fish, birds, rabbits and even a yent! How will they ever choose by 12 noon? In typical Seuss style, there are lots of silly rhymes and zany, colorful caricatures throughout the book. The end pages include information about Dr. Seuss’s pets, his creative process and how this illustrated manuscript was found and published. A wonderful addition to your Seuss collection to read again and again!

Posted: October 20, 2015


It's Raining Cats and FrogsIt’s Raining Cats and Frogs! ¡Llueve Gatos y Ranas! By Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Ethan Long

It’s raining, it’s pouring. What should the kids wear to go outside and play? Picture clues help new readers decipher the words. Illustrations of cats and frogs falling down with the rain add a silly aspect to this English-Spanish bilingual early reader. The back cover features a list of the 36 words used in the text. For grades K-1 and Spanish or English learners.

Posted: October 12, 2015

 


Extraordinary Warren: a Super Chicken
Extraordinary Warrenby Sarah Dillard

Warren, a young chicken, is bored with the daily routine. There must be more to life than pecking and peeping! In his search for something new, he meets Millard the Rat, who believes that Warren could become “Chicken Supreme,” and Egg, an unhatched side-kick. Humor and the mix of simple text with comic style panels make Extraordinary Warren a fun choice for readers in grades 1-2 who are just graduating to chapter books and graphic novels. Fans Kung Pow Chicken by Cyndi Marko
will enjoy this book, too. Read more about Warren’s adventures in the second book of the series, Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day.

Posted: October 5, 2015

 

September 2015

Spy GuySpy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent
by Jessica Young, illustrated by Charles Santoso

Spy Guy may love being a spy, but he’s not a very good one. People keep spotting him, even after he gets sneaking tips from the Chief. Children will appreciate the young spy’s foibles. The text features clever, sporadic rhyme, and the pictures hint at the ending. An entertaining read aloud for the preschool and kindergarten set.

 

Posted: September 21, 2015

 

 

GeniusGenius: a Photobiography of Albert Einstein
by Marfé Ferguson Delano

Albert Einstein is well known as a genius, but do you know why? His sense of curiosity and willingness to think like a child even as an adult led him to make some of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century.  Einstein’s life, beliefs, and fame are covered in detail. The text explains scientific theories in an accessible, age appropriate way. Photographs and quotes throughout the book provide a window into the mind of this eccentric character. For curious students in grades 4-6.

Posted: September 14, 2015

 

Book Scavenger
Book Scavengerby Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Twelve year-old Emily is excited that her family’s move to San Francisco brings her closer to the headquarters of her favorite game, BookScavenger. The geocaching-style game combines reading, puzzle solving and treasure hunting. Then Garrison Griswold, the game’s creator, is mugged on his way to the gala celebration to announce his new scavenger game, and the game is postponed. By accident, Emily and her new friend and neighbor, James, find a mysterious book in the same area where Griswold was attacked. She knows it must be connected to his attack and to his missing rare edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Gold-Bug. James and Emily are off, following clues to find the book and catch the attacker. Black and white illustrations, ciphers to decode and maps all add to the puzzle for Emily, James and the reader. Laughable puns and the tons of references to other children’s books make this adventurous mystery a delight to read! Fans of Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Blue Balliett should not miss this title. For grades 4-7. Find out how you could become a book scavenger like Emily by checking out the author’s website at http://bookscavenger.com.

Posted: September 11, 2015

 

Where Triplets go, Trouble FollowsWhere Triplets Go, Trouble Follows
by Michelle Poploff; illustrated by Victoria Jamieson

Lily, Daisy, and Violet Divine may be triplets, but they are not identical. They have completely different interests. The one thing that they do have in common is that they all love their new dog, Trouble, who lives up to his name by always getting into trouble. Each chapter is a single adventure in the life of one of the triplets so readers will get to know each of them individually. The black and white illustrations compliment the varying stories throughout the book. This fun, enjoyable beginner chapter book for readers in grades 2-3 will become a favorite for those who like to read about families, friends and fun. Let’s hope there are more books about the Divine triplets!

Posted: September 2, 2015

 

August 2015

FairylandThe Boy Who Lost Fairyland
by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrated by Ana Juan


Hawthorn, a young troll, is stolen away from Fairyland and forced to live in the strange human world of Chicago as a changeling (a human). He struggles to fit in with his foster human family while trying to keep his troll personae under control. At 12, he manages to get back to Fairyland only to find it very different from the magical world he remembers. In which world does he truly belong? This is the fourth book in the Fairyland fantasy series. Although this book can be read for itself, readers should read the earlier books first to understand the other main characters’ backgrounds. The writing is imaginative and descriptive as the magical world of Fairyland and the human world exist together. Fans of Percy Jackson may want to give this series a try. For grades 5-8.

Posted: August 24, 2015

 

Fix this MessFix This Mess
written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold

Jake can’t wait to try out his brand new robotic bug, Robug! He starts by telling the bot to “Fix this mess!” Robug gets to work right away, but the results aren’t quite what Jake expected. Comical illustrations by the creator of Fly Guy will keep emergent readers engaged with this story. Simple sentences and vocabulary make Fix This Mess appropriate for grades K-1.

Posted: August 24, 2015

 

 

If you plant a seedIf You Plant a Seed
written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson

If you plant a tomato seed, do you know what will happen? At first glance this seems like a book about gardening, but then it goes deeper. What if you plant a seed of selfishness? Or a seed of kindness? Oil painting illustrations do much of the talking, showing a rabbit and mouse gardening team. The short text doesn’t waste a word, giving the lesson with a light touch. Toddlers will be able to listen through it. Older children will understand the message and appreciate the pictures.

Posted: August 10, 2015

 

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled all of France
by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.
Mesmerized
In 1776, American inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklintravels to Paris to request help fighting theRevolutionary War. While there, the King himself asks Franklin to investigate the claims of Dr. Franz Mesmer who has persuaded the people in Paris that he has magical powers to cure illnesses. Franklin, the scientist, is not convinced by Mesmer’s dramatic demonstrations of power. Through the use of the scientific method, he proves to the people of France that Mesmer is a fraud and a phony. In a picture book format, this nonfiction biography illustrates an important event in Franklin’s life. Throughout the story, sidebars give additional information on the scientific method and other fascinating tidbits about Franklin. This is a great book for anyone interested in science, history, or the scientific method. For grades K-6.

Posted: August 3, 2015

 

July 2015

Violet Mackerel's pocket protestViolet Mackerel’s Pocket Protest
by Anna Branford, illustrated by Elanna Allen

Australian seven-year-old Violet is named after the flower, but she likes fuchsias better and her real passion is for seeing the small things. Violet may not like early mornings but she does enjoy a challenge and an adventure. She loves to come up with great plots and creative ideas even though they get her in trouble with her family at times. In this sixth book of the series, Violet and her friend Rose organize a protest to save the big oak tree in the local park from being cut down to make room for a parking lot. Can she do it? Fans of Junie B. Jones should not miss this series. To learn more about Violet and her friends, check out her website: http://www.violetmackerel.com.au/ For grades 1-3.

Posted: July 23, 2015

 

Where is the  Grand CanyonWhere is the Grand Canyon?
by Jim O’Connor

Did you know that over 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year? Although the title asks, “where is?” this book isn’t about locating the Grand Canyon on a map. Itpresents fun facts and describes the canyon from the times of prehistoric Native Americans, through its exploration by Europeans, to its establishment as a national park and beyond. By the end of the book, you’ll want to see the canyon for yourself. “Where Is…?” is a new companion series to the popular “Who Was….?” books.

Posted: July13, 2015

 

Tales from a Not-so-Happily Ever After

Dork Diariesby Rachel Renée Russell with Nikki Russell and Erin Russell (Dork diaries #8)

How can a bad day get worse? For Nikki Maxwell, middle school drama queen, it happens when her archenemy Mackenzie hits her with a dodgeball during gym and knocks her out. She awakens in Fairy Tale Land, where everyone she meets seems to be right out of a fairy tale. How did she get there? Is this a crazy dream? Following her rule, “always remember to let your inner DORK shine through,” she tries to get back home. It sure would be nice to have some help from her missing BFFs. Will she really have to rely on her baby sister Brianna to be her fairy godmother? Oh no!  This fun and easy series is for tweens in grades 4-8. Check out the Dork Diaries website at http://dorkdiaries.com/ for more fun Dorky stuff.

Posted: July 6, 2015

 

June 2015

Petal & PoppyPetal and Poppy
by Lisa Clough, illustrated by Ed Briant

Petal is a worrywart. Poppy is adventurous. They are best friends. When Petal’s noisy tuba practice sends Poppy scuba diving, Petal worries about what could happen to her friend under the sea. Are her concerns well founded? This early reader is written in graphic novel format with bright, inviting illustrations. New readers will enjoy the simple but complete storyline in this friendship tale. For grades K-1.

Posted: June 22, 2015

 

 

Hissy FitzHissy Fitz link
by Patrick Jennings,
illustrated by Michael Allen Austin

Hissy Fitz needs a nap but this British shorthair cat is having trouble finding a quiet place to sleep in the noisy and bothersome Fitz household. Why can’t he be left alone? Readers will laugh out loud at some of Hissy’s misadventures in his quest to find a place to catnap. Move over Grumpy Cat! Hissy is the new cat in town with an attitude! For grades 2-4.

Posted: June 22, 2015

 

 

Ares:Bringer of WarAres: Bringer of War link
By George O’Connor

As the Trojan War rages, Ares, god of war, is in the thick of it bringing destruction to everything and everyone he encounters. Heated and irrational, his impulsivity puts him in conflict with other gods, including his father Zeus and his half-sister Athena. As the war drags on and the death toll mounts, will Ares ever have his fill? Ares: Bringer of War is the seventh book in the Olympians series, but it can be read by itself. Fans of Percy Jackson or superhero comics will enjoy this graphic novel.

Posted: June 18, 2015

 

May 2015

SmickSmick!
By Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Juana Medina

Smick is a dog. A good, eager dog. A white dog drawn simply on a white background. Smick meets a chick and friendship blossoms. The text is concise and immediate, as if Smick’s owner is narrating. The simple line drawings and abundance of white space are complimented by colorful, detail rich photo collage. Children ages 2-4 will enjoy this simple, cozy story.

Posted: May 6, 2015

 

April 2015

Neighborhood SharkNeighborhood Sharks
by Katherine Roy

Every fall Great White Sharks come to San Francisco. The “great” in their name is no understatement. In fact, these sharks measure 21 feet long by 8 feet wide. Great White Sharks are powerful predators and the coast of San Francisco is a banquet of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions). Curious about how they hunt for prey? Roy details six key characteristics that make the sharks excellent hunters. A combination of action drawings and internal diagrams adds artistry and clarity where needed, plus a little humor. Grades 2-4
.

Posted: April 16, 2015

 

 

Hidden by Loic DauvillierHidden
by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo

When Elsa wakes up in the middle of the night, she finds her grandmother, Dounia, pouring over old photographs. Dounia begins to tell her granddaughter about her childhood in Paris, beginning with the day she had to wear a Star of David to school. A story of hidden survival unfolds. The full color art shows complicated emotions and includes poignant moments. This graphic novel is told from the perspective of a young girl trying to make sense of what’s going on around her. It works both as a first introduction to the Holocaust and as an additional perspective for older kids. Grades 1-5.

Posted: April 1, 2015


March 2015

Fly Guy's Amazing TricksFly Guy’s Amazing Tricks
by Tedd Arnold

Fly Guy is Buzz’s pet fly. This fly knows how to do some amazing tricks like the Backstroke and the Dizzy Doozy. He can do them for entertainment, but can Fly Guy use his talents for good? New readers who have a sense of humor and don’t get grossed out too easily will enjoy Fly Guy’s latest adventures. For grades K-1.


Posted
: March 17, 2015

 

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie
by Chris Van AllsburgThe misadventures of Sweetie Pie

Sweetie Pie is the last hamster chosen from the pet store. Unfortunately, he hasn’t found his forever home. The unlucky rodent is shuttled from one bad experience to the next, only narrowly escaping tragedy. Van Allsburg’s brightly colored hamster’s eye view drawings add comfort and lighten the tone. Misadventures is sure to give readers a new perspective on small pet ownership.  The book’s longer text and slightly disquieting events make this picture book appropriate for older kids. For grades pre-K-2.

Posted: March 9, 2015

 

Meet the RebelsMeet the Rebels
by Sadie Smith

The rebels of the planet Lothal struggle against the evil Empire. The first in a series of tie-ins with the Star Wars Rebels tv show, Meet the Rebels introduces both the heroes and villains. Images straight from the show feature prominently on every page. A back-of-the-book quiz checks how well you know the characters. Specialized vocabulary and ample text make this book appropriate for fans of the tv show or those in grades 1-2 who are able to read comfortably

Posted: March 6, 2015

FEBRUARY 2015

Mix It Up! Mix it up!
by Hervé Tullet

Fans of interactive picture books will appreciate this new work by the author of Press Here. In the book, the common color mixing lesson is enhanced by pictures that look so real you expect to feel wet paint rather than smooth pages. The author asks you to touch each page to mix the colors, giving readers ownership of the book. The informal text is accessible to two-year-olds, but kindergarteners will enjoy predicting the resulting colors, making Mix It Up! a great family read. By the end of the book, young artists will be eager to dip their fingers into paint and do some color mixing of their own!

Posted: February 23, 2015

 

Where I Belong
by Mary Downing

Where I BelongHahn Brendan has a hard life. He’s been living in foster care since his mother left him. He is failing school, and a mean group of older boys bullies him. Brendan finally builds himself a safe refuge, a tree house in the nearby woods where he can withdraw into his own fantasy world with his books and drawings. There he meets Ed, an elderly homeless man, who Brendan believes is the Green Man, the mythical spirit who protects the forests. Will the Green Man be able to protect Brendan and make his life better? Written in the first person narrative, the reader gets into Brendan’s mind as he learns to deal with his losses and low self-esteem. As he learns to trust again, he makes new friends first with Ed and then with a girl he meets in summer school. Due to the intensity of the bullying against Brendan, this moving and touching book is definitely for the older readers in grades 6-8. Fans of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia will also enjoy Where I Belong.

Posted: February 16, 2015

 

Chase the Chupacabra
by Jan Fields; illustrated by Scott BrundageMonster Hunter

Gale Brown’s stepbrother, Ben, is a monster hunter! For his internet show, Discover Cryptids, Ben, with the help of Gabe and his friends, Tyler and Sean, tries to track down these mysterious monsters. In Chase the Chupacabra, the team travels to Texas to determine if the chupacabra actually exists or if it is a coyote with some kind of skin disease. For those who like to read about the unexplained, this fast-paced and exciting series is a must! In other books, the team investigates Bigfoot and Tahoe Tessie. You may be surprised to find out what they uncover! For Grades 2-4.

Posted: February 9, 2015

 

Top Secret Science Projects You Aren’t Supposed to Know About
by Jennifer Swanson

Top Secret ScienceHave you heard of Project Vegetarian? How about Project MKULTRA? Probably not, since the governments involved originally denied their existence. Top Secret focuses on covert scientific research from World War II and after. Some projects, like poisonous umbrellas, sound like something from a spy movie, while others are sickeningly real. The moral issues that these projects raise are not addressed. Current secret projects are hinted at in a sensationalist tone. The book certainly makes science interesting and future spies will come away with new topics to research, but it’s not for the faint of heart.  Grades 5-6.

Posted: February 2, 2015

 

JANUARY 2015

How to Lose a Lemur
How to lose a Lemurby Frann Preston-Gannon

According to the young narrator, “Everyone knows that once a lemur takes a liking to you, there is not much that can be done about it.” So when the boy notices the friendly animal shadowing him, his face shows his concern. He flees to ever more distant locations, only to realize that he’s lost. Who might be able to escort him home? The lemurs, of course! Textured collage illustrations in saturated colors keep the tone light rather than threatening. Kids aged 2-5 and their parents will enjoy this picture book.

Posted: January 26, 2015

 

Guys Read: True Stories
Guys Readedited and with an introduction by Jon Scieszka

This fifth installment to the Guys Read Library of Great Reading should not only be read by guys but will definitely appeal to girls too. The collection contains ten essays, biographies, travelogues, poetry and cartoons by such authors as Candace Fleming, Douglas Florian, and Jim Murphy. Caldecott winner, Brian Floca illustrates. Covering topics from shipwrecks to the world’s largest elephant to the painful history of dentistry, there is something for everyone’s tastes and interests. Plus all of these stories are TRUE! This enjoyable anthology is too good to be missed! For Grades 4-8.

Posted: January 20, 2015

 

The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizzaglorikin
by James Kochalka

The Glorkian Warrior and his Super Backpack are ready for a night snoozing on the couch…until the emergency space phone begins to ring. Once Glorkian finally figures out how to answer the call, their hilarious destiny awaits: they must navigate a carnival-colored landscape to deliver a pizza. Fans of slapstick humor who have graduated from The Dumb Bunnies will enjoy this graphic novel comedy of errors.

Posted: January 13, 2015

 

 

Tiny Goes Back to School
Tiny Goes Back to Schoolby Cari Meister illustrated by Rich Davis

The narrator’s claim that his dog Tiny is obedient turns out to be as much of a misrepresentation as the enormous dog’s name. It’s time for Tiny to go back to school. Colorful illustrations play off the text to add humor. Short, simple sentences and repeated words make this book easily decodable for those just beginning to read. The complete, entertaining story will engage reader’s comprehension skills as well. If you enjoy Tiny Goes Back to School, check out the rest of the Tiny series!

Posted: January 5, 2015

 

2014

DECEMBER 2014

Judy Moody, Mood MartianJudy Moody, Mood Martian
by Megan McDonald; illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

In this twelfth book of the series Judy Moody tries to stay in a good mood for an entire week. She even has to be nice to her stinky little brother! Can she do it? To keep herself under control, she takes up finger knitting. Being the “new not-so-moody” Judy is hard work, and her finger knitting project soon takes over the entire house. Her brother Stink and her friends think the “real” Judy has been replaced by an alien from Mars! Oh no!  Will she have enough yarn to get her through the week? Fans and new readers alike will enjoy Judy’s latest zany misadventures.
For Grades 2-4.

Posted: December 29, 2014

 

Take Away the A
by Michael Escoffier illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Take Away the ATake Away the A stands out from the typical alphabet book by featuring letters’ absence rather than their presence. It begins, “Without the A the BEAST is the BEST” and continues to present other silly word pairs in which the only difference is one letter taken away. The clever text is complemented by equally creative illustrations that deserve more than one look. This is not your average alphabet book and will be most enjoyed by readers old enough to come up with combinations of their own.

Posted: December 22, 2014

 

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Detention!
Give me liberty or give me detentionby Kenny Abdo illustrated by Bob Doucet

Henry Gallagher needs help. His science project at the Edwin West Elementary School Science Fair blew up! It had to be sabotage, but why? Luckily John Gummyshoes, fourth grade detective, takes the case. Will Jon’s excellent sleuthing be enough to solve this science experiment gone wrong mystery? Who knew there would be so much cheating, stealing, blackmail, and school intrigue at Edwin West? Fan of Encyclopedia Brown who love solving mysteries should not miss out on this book and the entire Haven’t Got a Clue series. For Grades 3-4.

Posted: December 10, 2014

 

On a Beam of Light On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
by Jennifer Berne illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

While few of us understand Einstein’s physics equations, his growth from wordless one-year-old to constant question-asker creates an appealing read. Little details are placed side by side with big ideas, making the eccentric genius relatable. Einstein’s lifelong quest to think deeply about intriguing questions should inspire imitation. This picture book biography is ideal for early elementary students.

Posted: December 2, 2014

NOVEMBER 2014

Swim fishSwim, Fish! Explore the Coral Reef
by Susan Neuman

Take a tour of a coral reef and meet many of the busy inhabitants in this simply worded beginning reader. National Geographic is known for its quality photographs, which occupy most of each page and will fascinate readers more than the brief sentences. Check out the rest of the National Geographic Pre-Readers series for more animal tales.

Posted: November 21, 2014



How to Demolish  DinosaursHow to Demolish Dinosaurs
by Catherine Lebanc and Roland Garrigue

Many picture books characterize dinosaurs as cute and cuddly, not unlike bunny rabbits. How to Demolish Dinosaurs is a welcome reality check, revealing dinosaurs for the sharp-clawed, pointy-toothed predators they truly are. However, don’t be undone by their size and ferocity. Knowledge is power! With a few strategies from this how-to guide, you can protect yourself from velociraptors and pteranodons. Share this resource.

Posted: November 21, 2014

 

The Map Trap
The Map Trap
by Andrew Clements illustrated by Dan Andreasen

Sixth grader Alton Barnes loves all things about maps especially making maps. He even has a secret portfolio of maps that he created by watching and studying his principal, teachers, and classmates. When these maps are stolen, Alton is afraid that he will get into big trouble at school since some of these maps contain personal information and could easily offend many at his school if they are made public. When he starts getting orders from the map thief that he must follow, he realizes that his actions and maps could easily destroy his entire six grade year and make his life miserable forever. How far can Alton go in order to get his maps back? Fans of Frindle will definitely enjoy this latest school story by Clements. For Grades 4-8.

Posted: November 14, 2014

 

Cleopatra in space, book oneCleopatra in Space: Book One Target Practice
by Mike Maihack

Fifteen-year-old Cleopatra, who goes by Cleo, is thrust from first century BCE into the distant future. There, talking cats reveal a prophecy that she alone can save the Nile Galaxy from Xias Octavian. Unfortunately, before they let Cleo face Octavian and his army, she must prove her worth in military training school. Fans of ray gun wielding heroines and action packed adventures will enjoy this fast-paced graphic novel. Be on the lookout for Book Two: The Thief and the Sword, to be released next spring.

Posted: November 7, 2014

 

OCTOBER 2014

Monkey and elephant go gaddingMonkey and Elephant Go Gadding
by Carole Lexa Schaefer illustrated by Galia Bernstein

What is gadding? It’s “walking along, looking around, finding something fun, stopping awhile, and then moving on.” After reading about Monkey and Elephant’s gadding adventure, you’ll want to go gadding too! Brightly-colored digital artwork entertains throughout. Finishing the book’s three short chapters will provide a sense of accomplishment to kids who have just learned to read.

Posted: October 27, 2014

 

The White House is BurningThe White House Is Burning
by Jane Sutcliffe

Imagine foreign troops marching through Washington, DC. The president has fled and the White House and Capitol Building are reduced to charred frames. It sounds like science fiction, but it actually happened on August 24, 1814 and The White House is Burning tells the true story. The compelling tale begins in the predawn hours of the fateful day and continues through the consequences of the day after.  Eyewitness accounts from civilians and soldiers on both sides add to the narrative’s authenticity and immediacy. For grades 5 and up.

Posted: October 16, 2014

 

DDeer Dancereer Dancer
by Mary Lyn Ray illustrated by Lauren Stringer

Girl and deer become ballet partners in a green meadow surrounded by woods. Deer Dancer’s plot, with its simple but complete story arc, has a magical quality. The succinct, poetic text is pleasing to the ears. Painted illustrations set the deer’s graceful movements into a verdant outdoor backdrop.  This picture book will especially appeal to young dancers and nature lovers.

Posted: October 6, 2014

 

SEPTEMBER 2014

Ben Frankin: Building Wealth and Superpowered Rockets!Building Wealth (and Superpowered Rockets!)
by Raymond Bean illustrated by Matthew Vimislik

After twelve-year-old Benji became a zillionaire from inventing the first-ever, best -selling excuse making app, he decided that he would use his super-duper problem solving skills to help the world. However, when the President of the United States asks for his help to stop a meteorite that is heading straight for Earth, Benji must use all of his talents to save the Earth from total destruction! This is the second book in the series, Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire, which is great for readers who love fast-paced, off beat, fun adventure stories. For Grades 2-4.

Posted: September 23, 2014

 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello Libraryby Chris Grabenstein

Mr. Lemoncello, a rich, eccentric game designer, has funded the building of a new, twenty-first century technological wonder of a library in his hometown. As part of its grand opening celebration, he invites a dozen twelve-year-olds to the new building to participate in an overnight scavenger hunt. Once there, the preteens soon discover that they must figure a way to work together to work out the clues in order to win the grand prize. Full of laughable puns, loads of literary references to children’s’ books, and tons of mind-boggling word puzzles, fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will surely love this adventurous mystery in this delightful library. For grades 4-7. Visit the author’s website to find the final clue to Mr. Lemoncello’s scavenger hunt and to read more about the author: http://www.chrisgrabenstein.com .

Posted: September 11, 2014

COMIC SQUADComics Squad: Recess!
By by Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dan Santat,Raina Telgemeier

School’s back in session, making it the perfect time to read a collection of recess-related short comics. Fans of Lunch Lady, Captain Underpants, and Babymouse will see their favorite characters in action and find new authors to check out. Diverse drawing styles are tied together by two-tone orange and black coloring. Take a break from studying for this fun, silly read.

Posted: September 5, 2014

 

AUGUST 2014

The Colossus RisesThe Colossus Rises 
by Peter Lerangis

In this first book in the Seven Wonders series, Jack, Marco, Aly, and Cass share a common goal to find the seven magical Loculi from Atlantis that were hidden long ago in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. These magical spheres hold the cure to the genetic disease they all have that gives them special powers but will kill them in six months. Fast paced with loads of action, fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Harry Potter will enjoy this new series. For grades 5-8.

Posted: August 28, 2014

 

Order of the OwlsThe Order of the Owls
by Elisa Puricelli Guerra; illustrated by Gabo Leon Bernstein; translated by Chris Turner

In this first book in the series, readers are introduced to 9 year-old Minerva Mint. As a baby, Minerva was left in a luggage bag with a deed to an old mansion on the train station of a small English village. Each year, the local newspaper runs an article about Minerva’s abandonment which results in people claiming to be her long, lost parents in hopes of getting the ownership to the old mansion. Unfortunately, each year, Minerva determines that they are not related to her. Minerva has lots of energy and a positive attitude that impacts everyone she meets. She has two friends, Thomasina and Ravi, who together form the Order of the Owls. They intend to find out about Minerva’s past and who her real parents truly are. Readers who love friendship stories that contain a little magic and some adventure will also enjoy this new series. For grades 2-4.

Posted: August 18, 2014

 

Batman Versus the YetiBatman Versus the Yeti 
by J. Torres

With non-stop action from the first panel, Batman Versus the Yeti features the caped crusader fighting the Abominable Snowman in the snowcapped mountains of Tibet. When Super Functionaries from the People’s Republic of China arrive, things get interesting. Colorful art, fast pacing, and short length work together to draw in young independent readers. Can’t get enough Batman? Check out the rest of the Batman the Brave and the Bold series. For grades 2-3

Posted: August 12, 2014

 

Peggy: a brave chickenPeggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure
by Anna Walker

Peggy the chicken lives in a quiet suburb. She does the same activities day after day until a gust of wind deposits her in a new place with tall buildings and many people. Peggy’s big adventure has begun. The short text tells a complete story, making it a delightful read aloud for younger children longing for their own adventures. Observant eyes will pick out whimsical photo collage elements from the gentle ink drawings.

Posted: August 4, 2014

JULY 2014

Secrets of the Book 
by Erin Fry

Secrets of the BookWhoever has ownership of the magical Pandora’s Book, can bring pictures of the famous people in it temporarily back to life. Spencer Lemon doesn’t know everything about the book but he does know enough that he needs to protect it. The original owner, Ed, has disappeared. Now, a sinister man and other strangers want the book. Could these people use the book for evil doings? With the help of Socrates and other famous historical people brought back to life, Spencer and his friend Gregor must learn the secrets of the book in order to save the world. Readers who like fast-paced, action-packed, adventure stories will have a hard time putting down this book once started. For grades 4-6.

Posted: July 21, 2014

 

Time Voyage 
Time Voyageby Steve Brezenoff; illustrated by Scott Murphy

In the first book in the series, Return to Titanic, Maya and Tucker are transported back in time as they help unpack a crate of artifacts from the Titanic for their local history museum onboard the Titanic in 1912. They soon become friends with Liam and his family and want to save them. Can these two really change history? Historical files are included at the end. Even though Liam is a fictional character, some characters throughout the series are based on real people who are mentioned at the end too. Readers of the Magic Treehouse series who love time travel adventure stories should enjoy this series. For grades 2-4.

Posted: July 14, 2014

 

Baseball IsBaseball Is… 
by Louise Borden illustrated by Raúl Colón

This ode to America’s favorite pastime will appeal to players and fans alike. The poetic text meanders from backyard pick-up games to the major leagues, from the playing of the national anthem to the bottom of the ninth. Detailed colored pencil drawings tie baseball’s past to its present. The sparse text includes words like “souvenirs” and “reliever,” so it’s best for confident readers or reading aloud.

Posted: July 7, 2014

 

A Trip to the Bottom of the World With Mouse 
by Frank Viva

A Trip to the Bottom of the WorldA boy and a mouse journey to the South Pole. Despite mouse’s refrain of “Can we go home now?” they share many adventures. Viva’s computer-generated art has a vintage collage feel. Simple words, picture clues, and repetition make this Toon Book an entertaining choice for those just starting to learn to read.

Posted: July 2, 2014

JUNE 2014

Alternate Reality GameAlternate Reality Game Designer Jane McGonigal
by Anastasia Suen

Some people manage to find a job doing what they love. Jane McGonigal turned what she loved into an entirely new career field. Born the same year that the Atari was released, McGonigal grew up in the first generation able to play video games at home. Read this biography to find out how playing as a kid led to a career in gaming. Quotes from McGonigal and photos on each spread complete this biography.

Posted: June 25, 2014

 

spelling TroubleSpelling Trouble 
by Frank Camusso

After accidentally turning Mrs. Fossil, the crossing guard, into a dinosaur, Salem receives a Magical Animal Companion to teach her the finer points of magic. The young witch learns that spelling and spell casting are not the same, but the similarities between the two have some hilarious results.  This fast paced comic will draw in even reluctant readers.  Spelling Trouble is the first book in The Misadventures of Salem Hyde graphic novel series.

Posted: June 16, 2014

 

Ling and TingLing & Ting Share A Birthday
by Grace Lin

Ling and Ting are identical twins, but they’re not exactly the same. Over the course of six short chapters, the sisters share all the birthday trappings, from cake baking to presents. Ling and Ting may be different from each other, but their unity as sisters prevails. Colorful pictures and a relatable theme will encourage newly independent readers.

Posted: June 9, 2014

 

The Most Magnificent Thing
The Magnificent Thingby Ashley Spires

With the assistance of her dog, a girl gathers a wagon full of supplies and sets to work building the Most Magnificent Thing. Readers will keep turning pages, wondering what this thing could be. Creation may not be easy, but it does prove to be worth the effort. The line illustrations reserve color for the most important elements, making them pop from the page.

Posted: June 2, 2014


May 2014

The Truth About MeThe Truth of Me: about a boy, his grandmother, and a very
good dog
  by Patricia MacLachlan

Robbie’s violinist parents are playing across Europe this summer, so he lives with his grandmother-best friend, Maddy.  Maddy’s stories - like the time she ate cornbread with a bear - make Robbie’s parents nervous. Could they really be true? As summer unfolds, Robbie learns about the truths that people share and those that they keep hidden, all while trying to find the truth of himself. This beginning chapter book is for readers who enjoy a slow pace, interesting characters, and moments of strong emotion.

Posted: May 15, 2014

 

Patrick eats his peasPatrick Eats His Peas and Other Stories link
by Geoffrey Hayes

This Toon Book contains four short stories featuring Patrick, an endearing rascal of a bear. Everyday adventures range from “helping” with chores to prolonging bedtime. Patrick keeps his parents on their toes in ways kids can identify with. Emergent readers gain visual literacy by moving between word bubbles and Hayes’ colored pencil illustrations. Panels are distinct and easy to follow. Tips on reading comics with kids are found on the back page.

Posted: May 5, 2014

 

Jedi AcademyJedi Academy link
 by Jeffrey Brown

Roan, a kid from Tatooine, can’t wait to attend Pilot Academy Middle School to become a pilot like his dad and brother. When his application is denied, he’s devastated. Then he gets a letter inviting him to Jedi Academy. He’s not that excited, but at least it’s better than heading to plant school. The book follows Roan’s first year at the academy as he adjusts to his new school, makes friends, stands his ground against bullies, and tries to figure out how to use the force. A compilation of comics, journal entries, and notes, this graphic novel will appeal to fans of both Star Wars and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Posted: April, 2014

Steam TrainSteam Train, Dream Train link
by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

Animal crews load a train with the stuff of childhood for its journey to tomorrow. Blue backgrounds and muted pastel illustrations set a sleepy tone for the rhyming text, which begs to be read aloud at a slow, stately pace. Dreamlike images of polar bears wheeling enormous sundaes into the reefer car and turtles steering race cars onto the autorack trundle readers to the final “goodnight.”

Posted: April 2014

 

The Animal BookThe Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest - and Most Surprising - Animals on Earth by Steve Jenkins link

Are you fascinated by the variety of animals in the world? After reading The Animal Book, you will be. Did you know that a blue whale is bigger than the biggest dinosaur in the fossil record? Or that a bombardier beetle defends itself from predators by spraying them with boiling hot liquid from its butt? Fun facts are presented in organized chapters such as Family and Animal Senses. Hundreds of intricate collages illustrate the book. An appendix detailing Jenkins process for creating a book from the idea to printed copies is sure to inspire reader to put their own ideas on paper.

Posted: March 20, 2014

 

Paperboy by Vince Vawter link

PaperboyMany people take talking for granted. They waste words or use lazy pronunciations. Not our narrator. Because of his stutter, he can’t even get his own name through his lips. That’s why he tells his story by typing it out on an old typewriter. It’s the summer of 1959, and he’s taken over his friend’s paper route for a month. As the best baseball pitcher in town, he’s sure that he can throw the papers where they belong, but knocking on doors to collect money will be a challenge. He can’t even say “paperboy.” What follows is a unique look into the mind of someone who rarely gets to communicate his thoughts. Paperboy is a character-driven tale of finding one’s voice and relating to other people. For our narrator that journey includes some intense action scenes along the way.

Posted: March 4, 2014

 

Little Red Writing linkLittle Red Writing
by Joan Holub illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Once upon a time, a pencil named Little Red decided to write a story about bravery. It includes the familiar basket (of nouns), (story) path, and forest (of adjectives). Action, description, and excellent pacing unite to create a book that’s as much storycraft treatise as fractured fairytale. Readers will enjoy pouring over the word-filled illustrations for witty puns. The vocabulary and theme make Little Red Writing suitable for an early elementary audience who will be inspired to write stories of their own.

Posted: February 12, 2014

 

Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take link
Bramble and Maggieby Jessie Haas illustrated by Alison Friend

When Bramble the horse goes to a new house, she must settle in to the give and take of friendship with her new person, Maggie. They enjoy exploring the neighborhood together. Then the people leave for the day, and Bramble is bored at home. The neighbor, Mr. Dingle, may be able to solve that problem. While Bramble never talks, the watercolor illustrations reveal her emotions. The book’s four chapters can be read as separate stories making it an accessible first chapter book for animal lovers who are gaining confidence in their reading abilities.

Posted: February 4, 2014

 

Ghost DollGhost Doll and Jasper link
by Fiona McDonald

A long-forgotten doll lays in an abandoned house until the stardust of a falling star brings her to life as the Ghost Doll. While she and cat friend Jasper search for a new place to live, Dr. Borsch plots to use the stardust in an evil experiment. Will Ghost Doll be able to escape his wicked clutches? This book will appeal to older elementary or middle school students looking for a shorter, slightly disquieting read.

Posted: January 6, 2014

 

BlastoffBlastoff to the Secret Side of the Moon! link
By Scott Nickel illustrated by Jess Bradley

Aaron is playing with his toy astronaut when he suddenly sees a spaceship in the neighbor’s backyard. The ship is empty…until Aaron climbs on board and takes off. Outer space awaits! Colorful art and minimal text make this an appropriate first graphic novel for kids who are already reading.

Posted: January 6, 2014

 

2013

Posted: December 17, 2013

The Adventures of Sir GawainTHE ADVENTURES OF SIR GAWAIN THE TRUE
by Gerald Morris illustrated by Aaron Renier

In the days of King Arthur, no knight was more undefeated than Sir Gawain the Undefeated.  Follow his comedic adventures with dragons, feasts, and hand-to-hand combat in this tale of courage and courtesy. Line drawings periodically illustrate the text. Kids who are able to read comfortably will enjoy this humorous chapter book.

 

 

Posted: December 6, 2013

JEFF KINNEY
Jeff Kinneyby Christine Webster

Greg Hefley stars in nine books, two movies, and even has his own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Jeff Kinney is the author behind the wimp. Learn about Kinney’s early influences, day job, and quirky writing process. Color pictures abound. Tips on biography writing appear in sidebars on many pages. Test your Kinney knowledge in a back of the book quiz.

 

Posted: November 4, 2013

WELCOME TO THE TREEHOUSE
by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani

Welcome to the TreehouseWhat is life like for superheroes in elementary school? The Tiny Titans series explores this subject through a set of short scenes showing everything from getting ready for school to accidents at Pet Club. Welcome to the Treehouse kicks off the series and introduces characters like Blue Beetle, Supergirl, and Raven. The number of characters can get confusing, so refer to the “Meet the Tiny Titans” page in the back. Clear format and cute art make this a good first comic for elementary students who are able to read on their own. Older readers will prefer more developed storylines.

 

Posted: October 14, 2013

HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS
by Eve Bunting illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier

Fans of Dr. Seuss’ rhymes will delight in the text of this book. A little green bird has lost his socks. He asks his friends the ox and fox. Readers who have lost something will identify with the bird’s alternating hope and dismay. The gentle watercolor and ink pictures give clues to the missing socks’ location. Perfect for reading aloud, preschoolers and new readers will enjoy this endearing picture book.

 

Posted: October 1, 2013

HYDE AND SHRIEK
Hyde and Shriekby David Lubar

Miss Clevis is a normal science teacher at Washington Irving Elementary…until she accidently puts chemicals for a science experiment into her banana-honey-yogurt breakfast drink. The results are slightly scary: she swings back and forth between faultless Jackie and diabolical Ms. Hyde. Will the changes be permanent? Conversational, first person narration adds comedy to the book, which is aimed at kids who are able to read chapter books comfortably.

 

Posted: September 16, 2013
ARE THERE OTHER EARTHS

ARE THERE OTHER EARTHS?
by Michael Portman

Beginning with accessible descriptions of the universe, Milky Way, and our solar system,Are There Other Earths?  Provides an in-depth answer to the title question.  Portman explains the Goldilocks Zone and the methods astronomers use to search for potentially habitable planets. Most of the text is on a white background and each spread has a full page image, making the book an effective resource for curious elementary students.

 

Posted: September 3, 2013

Button DownBUTTON DOWN
by Anne Ylvisaker

Ned Button dreams of playing college football for the Iowa City Hawkeyes just like hometown hero Lester Ward. His dream seems far off since he doesn’t even have a real football and Burton, a bulky bully, refuses to let Ned play in afterschool pick-up games. Granddaddy Ike may be able to offer solution, though. Set in 1929, Button Down places less emphasis on minute descriptions of games and instead focuses on themes today’s players will relate to: courage and determination against the odds. Short chapters increase the book’s pace. Compelling descriptions of Ned’s daydreams of glory are a highlight.

 

 

Posted: August 7, 2013

Golden TwineTHE GOLDEN TWINE
Written and illustrated by Jo Rioux

All Suri has ever wanted is to be a monster tamer. In Galatea, evil monsters slip through the Monster’s Cradle into the human world. An orphan in a traveling carnival, Suri only sees monsters in books until an unusual man shows up with a huge monster for sale. If you’re looking for an action-packed graphic novel with some great chase scenes and a tenacious heroine, this book is for you. The Golden Twine is the first in the Cat’s Cradle series, so the ending leaves you anticipating the next book.

 

Posted: July 24, 2013

Road  TripROAD TRIP by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen

Ben isn’t thrilled about taking a road trip with Dad even if it does mean rescuing a border collie. Then Dad springs the big news: he just quit his job to flip houses. Dad’s motto is, “It’ll all work out,” but Ben isn’t so sure. The road trip becomes much more than either of them imagined. While this book has an adventurous plot, the characters are interesting and well-developed. The family pet, Atticus, is particularly endearing, making it clear that both authors are dog-lovers. Middleschoolers who like realistic fiction and animals will enjoy this novel.

 

Posted: July 17, 2013

The Price of FreedomTHE PRICE OF FREEDOM: HOW ONE TOWN STOOD UP TO SLAVERY

by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin
illustrated by Eric Velasquez

You may have heard that Ohio was part of the Underground Railroad, but this informational picture book brings the facts to life. John Price escapes slavery in Kentucky and makes his way to Oberlin, Ohio. Two years later, bounty hunters kidnap him for reward money. Oberlin residents hear of his plight and rush to demand his release. The narrative maintains an urgent tone and uses the incident to explain the Fugitive Slave Law to elementary students. At its core, the book is about ordinary people forced to choose whether to obey the laws of the United States or follow a “higher law” of right and wrong.

 

Posted : July 3, 2013

Pete the Cat

Pete the Cat: Play Ball!
By James Dean

Pete the Cat has a bat and a mitt. He’s ready to play baseball! Pete does his best and cheers on his team. This cat keeps his cool even when things don’t turn out the way he wants. Created by the illustrator of the Pete the Cat picture books, this early reader lacks the catchy rhymes of the other titles. New readers will still enjoy it, though, especially if they are already attached to the easygoing feline.

 

 

Posted: June 24, 2013

More
Moreby I. C. Springman | Illustrated by Brian Lies

A sad magpie starts with nothing, but soon a friendly mouse gives it a marble for its nest. Now the magpie has something, but it keeps collecting until it has way too much with disastrous results. With the help of the mouse, the magpie figures out how much is enough. This sparsely worded picture book tells its story through realistic paintings. Readers may interpret the tale on a variety of levels: as an allegory for our society, as a warning against personal greed, as a tribute to friendship, or simply as the adventure of a bird known for collecting shiny objects.

 

Posted: June 10, 2013

Summer In the CItySummer in the City
by Marie-Louise Gay and David Homel

Charlie has never been to Disneyland. The summer vacations his parents choose usually involve hurricanes or armed revolutions. This summer however, he’s stuck with a “staycation” at home in Montreal, Canada. That doesn’t mean that his summer will be boring, though. Charlie tells the story in first person, and he’s a humorous narrator. Each chapter contains one escapade, an ideal format for readers new to chapter books or for sharing out loud.

 

Posted: May 17, 2013 

One Year in Coal Harbor
One Year In Coal Harbor
by Polly Horvath

Even in the tiny Pacific Northwest town of Coal Harbor, a lot can happen in one year. Between writing her own cookbook and nudging along her uncle’s romance, Primrose Squarp tries not to mind that she’s never had a best friend. She hopes that will change when she meets Ked, a foster kid who’s new in town. They seem to get along well, but his complicated past casts a shadow on their budding friendship. While the themes are serious, there are moments of comedy. A companion to Everything on a Waffle, this novel also works as a standalone book. Each chapter ends with a recipe or two.

                                                                       

Posted: May 3, 2013

The Man in the CloudsThe Man in the Clouds
by Koos Meinderts and Annette Fienieg

In this modern fable, an old man spends his days gazing at a landscape painting. He allows others to see its beauty until one day a stranger makes him see the painting as an asset to be protected rather than art to be shared. The mood of the watercolors reflects the changes in the man’s temperament. While the painting itself is left to the imagination, the characters and scenery are lovely. The unstated lesson is food for thought.

 

Posted: April 17, 2013

Adventures in Cartooning

Adventures in Cartooning
by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost

A brave knight and his not-so-brave horse are on their way to slay a dragon with the help the Magic Cartooning Elf. Throughout the story, the elf eagerly shares comic concepts such as panels and thought bubbles with the uninterested knight. Even better, the reader sees these techniques put to use in the words and pictures of the comic book. The artwork is simply drawn but colorful, matching the make-it-yourself theme. There’s no better form for teaching how to turn your doodles into comics than a comic itself.

 

Posted: April 5, 2013

Castle: How it worksCastle: How It Works
by David Macaulay

Once upon a time, castles weren’t just the stuff of fairy tales.
They existed to defend the people who lived and worked within their walls. Macaulay takes readers through the gatehouse and into a world that emphasizes guards rather than princes. His detailed pictures support and enhance the text. An informative choice for curious newly proficient readers.

 

 

 

Posted: March 11, 2013Creepy Carrot


Creepy Carrots!
By Aaron Reynolds illustrated by Peter Brown

Jasper Rabbit loves to eat the carrots from Crackenhopper Field…until they start following him home. Can he escape the creepy carrots? The creative artwork, which is black and white except for the orange of the carrots, recently won a Newberry Honor. This picture book is an excellent choice for children who enjoy a touch of the bizarre.

 

Posted: March 4, 2013

How to Write a Mystery
How to Write a Mysteryby Cecelia Minden and Kate Roth

“It was a dark night. There was a loud scream.” If you’re bursting with ideas about what might have happened, you could be a mystery writer. This accessible guide outlines steps for writing a mystery from creating a main character to sharing your story with family and friends. Activity prompts, such as creating clues, keep you on track as you develop your tale. The book provides a clear overview for budding creative writers.

Posted: February 13, 2013

 

The Drained Brains Caper
The Drained Brains Caperby Trina Robbins illustrated by Tyler Page

Megan Yamamura, a haiku writing thirteen-year-old, is outraged about having to attend summer school at Stepford Preparatory Academy. Oddly, she seems to be the only one. All the other students are model citizens with an abnormal love of summer school and suspicious Band-Aids on their foreheads. What is going on? A mystery in graphic novel format, The Drained Brains Caper kicks off the Chicagoland Detective Agency series. Black and white art of reflects inspiration from anime.

 

Posted: February 1 , 2013

In a Glass Grimmly
The Glassy Grimmyby Adam Gidwitz

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes might seem like stuff for preschoolers, but this tale seeks out their true, darker meaning. When we innocently recite, “Jack fell down and broke his crown” from Jack and Jill, we’re really talking about a kid who split his head open. There was blood gushing everywhere. If that doesn’t sound appealing, this book probably isn’t for you. Curious whether Jack survived? Plunge into these tales, which sound familiar until each gruesome twist. A sequel to A Tale Dark Grimm, In a Glass Grimmly doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessor - only because the first book was so good. The mix of humor and action make for a compelling read.

 

Posted: January 10, 2013

Earwig and the WitchEarwig and the Witch
by Diana Wynne Jones

Dog lovers who are learning to read will enjoy this gentle story. Carl, the helpful dog, takes care of a sick puppy. Simple dialogue is exchanged. Paintings emphasize Carl’s patient helpfulness and the puppy’s changing feelings. Children who enjoy Carl can read other beginning books in this series.

 

 

 

Carl and the Sick PuppyPosted: January 3, 2013

Carl and the Sick Puppy
by Alexandra Day

Dog lovers who are learning to read will enjoy this gentle story. Carl, the helpful dog, takes care of a sick puppy. Simple dialogue is exchanged. Paintings emphasize Carl’s patient helpfulness and the puppy’s changing feelings. Children who enjoy Carl can read other beginning books in this series.

 

2012


Posted:
December 17, 2012

Seymore Symon's Extreme Earth RecordsSeymour Simon’s Extreme Earth Records
by Seymour Simon

The locations featured in this book are not good places to go on vacation. The hottest place on earth, the Lut Desert, gets hot enough to kill most bacteria, and the deepest place, the Challenger Deep, is seven miles below the surface of the ocean. Each short chapter contains the perfect combination of fascinating facts, in-depth explanations, and striking pictures. Simon puts the points in context for readers with creative descriptions.

 

Posted: December 10, 2012

These Hands by Margaret H. MasonThese Hands
by Margaret H. Mason illustrated by Floyd Cooper

An African American grandfather asks his grandson Joseph to “look at these hands” as he teaches Joseph to tie his shoes and hit a baseball. Then he tells Joseph about a time when his hands were not allowed to touch bread dough at the factory and about the many hands that joined together so that now anyone can mix the bread dough. Muted artwork brings the past and present alive. The use of a concrete example of discrimination will help make the civil rights movement real for preschool and early elementary aged children.

 

Posted: November 13, 2012
Pinch and Dash Make Soup - Book Cover

Pinch and Dash Make Soup
by Michael J. Daley

Pinch is hungry, but he is also lazy. Luckily, his friend Dash is an excellent and willing chef. Together they make a soup that smells delicious until a conflict over spices threatens to spoil their friendship. Newly independent readers will enjoy the substantial story and may encounter unfamiliar words like mince and dice. The pictures, especially the expressions on the two friends’ faces reinforce the words of the story.




Posted:
November 1, 2012

Me and You - Book CoverMe and You
by Anthony Browne

Browne rewrites Goldilocks and the Three Bears into a contemporary urban setting. In wordless panels, we see a hoodie-wearing Goldilocks get lost in a rundown neighborhood and stumble upon an inviting house with the door left ajar. The absence of color on her side of the page is telling. The bears’ side of the story is told simultaneously from baby bear’s color-filled perspective. An enjoyable read that could also spark deeper discussion.

 

Posted: October 10, 2012

INTO THE VOLCANO

by Don Wood

Into The Volcano by Don WoodSumo worries too much about shark attacks and tidal waves to enjoy being pulled out of school for a surprise trip to the island of Kocalaha. Although he’s afraid of pretty much everything, Sumo finds some of his fears to be well-founded when he and his brother are forced into a covert expedition by their mysterious aunt and burly cousin. Will Sumo overcome his fears in order to survive in the harsh environment of a volcano? In a departure from his popular picture book work, Don Wood writes a gripping, fast-paced graphic novel. Although action-packed, the story also explores Sumo’s developing strength and resiliency. The mood of the artwork varies with the events of the plot.


Posted: October 2, 2012

THE ELEPHANT FROM BAGHDADTHE ELEPHANT FROM BAGHDAD
by Mary Tavener Holmes and John Harris

Charlemagne is not a frequent picture book character. Rather than focus on the emperor’s military might, Holmes spins the tale of an unlikely friendship. The story begins when Charlemagne sends men to meet the fabled caliph of Baghdad. The men return with Eastern knowledge and a multitude of gifts including the albino elephant Abu. Fascinated, Charlemagne invites Abu and his keeper to live in the palace. Illustrator Jon Cannell enhances his comic style drawings with photographs of artifacts, for a well-rounded interpretation of the narrative.

 

 

Posted: September 17, 2012

Fabirc Printing
ALL ABOUT FABRIC PRINTING
by Todd Oldham

Although fabric printing is a centuries-old art form, this guide brings the practice solidly up to date. Using everything from shoelaces to potato mashers, you can express your creativity on t-shirts, hoodies, bags, and more. This book gets straight to the point with full page pictures to get ideas flowing.

 

Posted: September 1, 2012

THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL
The Whole Story of Half a Girl
by Veera Hiranandani

Sonia comes home from a normal day her private school: cooking biryani rice for a lesson on India with her ten-student class and their teacher, Jack. Over dinner, however, her father announces that he’s been fired. In the fall, she boards a bus for the first time to face the culture shock of public middle school. Sonia must confront issues of identity, friendship, and family.  Although she has many struggles, Sonia is not a whiney narrator. She makes choices, deals with the consequences, and comes across as a realistic sixth-grader.

 

Posted: August 1, 2012

CAT BURGLUR BLACK
Cat Burglur Blackby Richard Sala

After her parents’ death, K. Westree was raised in an orphanage where Mother Claude forced the orphans to become thieves. Fortune seems to turn for K. when a long-lost aunt offers her a place at Bellsong Academy for Girls. Not everything is as it seems, though, as K. learns when her new teachers reveal their true identities as “The Obtainers.” The depictions of the characters in the artwork give clues about who the villains are. Read this graphic novel for a fun scare.

 

Posted: July 10, 2012
Dixie and the Class Treat

DIXIE AND THE CLASS TREAT
by Grace Gilman, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

When it’s Emma’s turn to bake a treat for her class, her dog Dixie wants a piece of the kitchen action. Will Dixie cause trouble or come to the rescue? Beginning readers will enjoy the simple sentences, but the text is long enough to tell a full story. Watercolor illustrations highlight Dixie’s many facial expressions. If you enjoy Dixie and the Class Treat, don’t miss the other entries in this cheerful series for pet lovers.

Posted: June 1, 2012

JASPER JOHN DOOLEY STAR OF THE WEEK
Star of the Weekby Caroline Adderson, illustrated by Ben Clanton

Jasper John Dooley has been waiting to be Star of the Week for a very, very, very long time.  On the eve of his special week, the arrival of his best friend’s baby sister threatens to outshine Jasper’s time in the spotlight. Suddenly his three-person family is not impressive enough. Things keep going wrong until Jasper doesn’t feel like a star at all. How can Jasper become a true star? Jasper’s creativity shines through, making this book a great fit for older elementary fans of character-driven, realistic fiction.

 

Posted: May 2, 2012

FREAKY-STRANGE BUILDINGS
Freaky Strange Buildingsby Michael Sandler

Ever wondered whether a building could be constructed out of salt? Then this book is for you. “These building aren’t just strange—they’re freaky-strange!” Each piece of architecture receives a two-page feature with color photos and fun trivia. For example, the titanium on the outside of one building is thinner than the skin on a person’s eyelid. Don’t miss Ohio’s claim to fame, the basket-shaped Longaberger headquarters in Newark!


Posted:
April 2, 2012

BEAR WITH ME by Max Kornell

Bear With MeOwen’s young life is perfect until his parents come home with asurprise: they’ve adopted a huge BEAR! Owen is less than thrilled about this new addition to the family. Kornell captures a small child’s reaction to change perfectly: “I told my mom and dad that they should have asked me if I wanted a bear. If they had asked, they would have known that I don’t want a bear.” Although Gary the bear initially wreaks havoc, he and the boy come to be friends. Details in the illustrations, like Gary’s facial expressions and family portraits on the walls add depth to the story. This book will help children work through feelings surrounding any life changing event.



Posted: March 6 , 2012

Breaking Stalin's NoseBREAKING STALIN'S NOSE
by Eugene Yelchin

Sasha Zaichik lives happily (though crowded in an apartment with 48 people and one toilet) under the watchful eye of Stalin, the political leader and “father” of all good communists in the Soviet Union. When State Security officers suddenly arrest Sasha’s father for Anti-Communist activities, he knows it must be a mistake. His father is a loyal communist who actually works to catch those plotting against the motherland. Even worse, Sasha might be considered a traitor as well. With events that wouldn’t seem out of place in dystopian science fiction, this chilling historical novel will grab readers’ attention.

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Posted: January 17, 2012

BanjoBANJO DESTINY by Cary Fagan

Jeremy lives in a modern day castle, but his life is an “expensive nightmare.”  His parents are quick to remind him that he has all the opportunities they never had... like ballroom dancing lessons and a world-renowned classical piano teacher.  Then Jeremy has a chance meeting with old man playing an instrument that he recognizes as a banjo.  He is captivated bys its sound.  The problem: his parents refuse to let their refined son purchase a folk instrument.  Will Jeremy ever be able to follow his destiny?  Although the message to pursue your dreams is clear, book’s humor is definitely the highlight.

 

2011

Posted: December 28, 2011

THOR AND LOKI: IN THE LAND OF THE GIANTS

by Jeff Limke illustrated by Ron Randall

Thor Based on a Norse myth, this graphic novel features brawny Thorand crafty Loki, the most popular Norse gods.  The twoquarrel over the superiority of strength vs. cunning.  Thor insists that strength alone is always sufficient.  The two gods journey into the land of the giants where Thor recklessly extends a challenge that might finally settle the question.  Traditional comic book style art tells the story.  Faces are drawn especially vividly, underscoring characters’ emotions.  If this tale piques your interest, check out the further reading section for more information.  Thor and Loki: In the Land of the Giants is part of the Graphic Myths and Legends series.

 

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Posted: December 2, 2011

Staff Book ReviewWHY DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY BED? OR, A HISTORY OF MESSY ROOMS

By Wade Bradford, Illustrations by Johanna van der Sterre

A little boy asks the question: “Why do I have to make my bed?”  He receives a thorough answer from his mother, who tells of his grandmother, then her grandfather, then his great grandmother.  Apparently children have been questioning the necessity of bed making as far back as cave times.  Coincidentally, the answer hasn’t changed either.  The books’ predictability will help listeners guess what might happen next, a first step in predicting more complicated stories.  Drawings of each child and setting, especially details like period toys, convey the sense of time travel.  The book ends with an author’s note about chores through the ages.

 

Posted: November 10, 2011

Joe and sparky, SuperstarsJOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS!
by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

After seeing a casting call for What a Pair talent show, Joe, an energetic giraffe, is eager to try out with his friend Sparky, a cautious turtle.  First, however, they must discover Sparky’s hidden talent.  Is the shy, hesitant turtle capable of becoming a star?   At its heart a tale of friendship with comical moments sprinkled throughout, Joe and Sparky, Superstars will amuse young readers who are starting to make the transition to chapter books.

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Posted: October 11, 2011

No Passenger Beyond this PointNO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT
by Gennifer Choldenko

Finn is the worrier, India is the teenage pretty girl, and Mouse isthe kindergarten genius with an imaginary friend.  The Thompkin siblings are not happy about moving to Colorado to live with Uncle Red.  When the taxi that meets them at the airport is covered in feathers, the three step into a surreal landscape.  Will they ever go home?  Do they even have a home to go to?  Point of view switches throughout the book, allowing readers inside the heads of three very different characters.  Treat the book like an amusement park ride, and don’t expect all the details to make sense.  This take on fantasy is more similar to The Wizard of Oz than Harry Potter.


Posted: September 21, 2011

CYCLISTSCYCLIST BIKELIST: THE BOOK FOR EVERY RIDER
by Laura Robinson, Illustrated by Ramón K. Pérez

This handy handbook about cycling includes all things bicycle, fromhistory to parts to clothing.  The last chapter features short biographies of professional bikers.  This book would be useful to new cyclists, those about to buy a new bike, and anyone who would like to take their riding up a notch.  Note that this book was originally published in Canada and some information about traffic laws does not apply here.  Cartoon style pictures throughout demonstrate points in the text.


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Posted: August 21, 2011

leprechaonTHE STORY OF THE LEPRECHAUN
by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert

This is the story of a leprechaun shoemaker who saves his golden payments in an old pot.  A man named Tim sees the pot and can’t resist trying to trick the leprechaun out of his gold.  Who do you think is craftier, leprechaun or human? Colorful illustrations take readers into the whimsical world of Irish myth.  An author’s note at the beginning explains what leprechauns are for children who have not encountered them before.

 

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Posted: August 2, 2011

Tropical ForestsTROPICAL RAINFORESTS
by Seymour Simon

Simon takes readers into the absorbing environment of the world’s rainforests.  He begins by over viewing rainforests as a whole.  Then he spotlights various rainforest inhabitants from bamboo plants that grow over a foot per day to bats with a six-foot wingspan.  Majestic photographs on each spread bring the plants and animals to life. The book concludes with a section on the importance of rainforests around the world.  This is a good place to begin learning about the topic.  Includes glossary and index.



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Posted: July 20, 2011

King TutTHE CURSE OF KING TUT'S TOMB
by Michael Burgan illustrated by Barbara Schulz

The scene is Egypt, about three thousand years ago.  Priests chant a protective spell over the body of a mummy.  Flash forward to 1922 and see Howard Carter open the sealed doorway to KingTut’s Tomb.  Did doing so trigger a curse for disturbing the mummy’s rest?  This graphic novel gives the sordid details about the people whose deaths were attributed to the curse.  It also presents the viewpoint of those who believed the curse was mere myth.  Art and text unite to show that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

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Posted: May 13, 2011

Frankie PickleFRANKIE PICKLE AND THE PINE RUN 3000
written and illustrated by Eric Wight

Frankie Pickle the Possum Scout has a problem.  Carried away by his imagination, he tangles himself in rope for a Houdini-style escape when he’s only supposed to be creating a sailor’s loop.  Even worse, he fails to earn his badge and move up to the next scout level with his friends.  The only solution is to build a model car and win the Pine Run 3000 race. Will he pull off a first place finish, or will his race car dreams crash and burn?  Part graphic novel, part traditional book, Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 is a good way to start reading chapter books.

 

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Posted: June 1, 2011

HAVE YOU SEEN MY DINOSAUR?
by Jon Surgal, illustrated by Joe Mathieu

Have you seen my dinosaur?A young boy searches for his missing dinosaur friend.  He asks for help finding the dino, but each grown up that he approaches seems to think that dinosaurs are extinct.  Readers see the dinosaur on each page, out of the narrator’s sight, and will be happy when the two are reunited in the end.  The rhyming dialogue switches from narrator to adult without quotation marks, but readers will know the speaker by what he or she says.  The rhyme and rhythm of the text, which is similar to the style of Dr. Seuss, may help beginning readers decipher new vocabulary words like “barge” and “ocelot.”



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Posted: April 11, 2011

Amelia BedeliaAMELIA BEDELIA'S FIRST APPLE PIE
by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril

Amelia Bedelia, the literal-minded character from the early reader series, makes her picture book debut in this tale about her childhood.  Her inability to understand figures of speech cause some confusion, but she saves the day through her budding talent for baking.




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Posted: March 25, 2011

THE JUNKYARD WONDERS
The Junkyard Wondersby Patricia Polacco

When Trisha switches schools, she hopes to leave the label of “different” behind her.  However, she ends up in the Junkyard, a class of misfits who aren’t wanted elsewhere in the school.  With the help of Mrs. Peterson, their inspiring teacher, the kids learn to create possibilities from things that other people call junk.  Full page drawings add to the lengthy text, making this book appropriate for grades 2-4.

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Posted: March 15, 2011

TRUCKERY RHYMES Truckery
by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long,
and David Gordon

Scieszka adapts classic nursery rhymes into truck related poems such as “Peter Peter Payload Eater” and “The Wheels on the Truck.”  Fans of Scieszka’s Trucktown series will be familiar with many of the diesel-powered characters.  Cartoon style pictures add to the humorous rhymes.


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Posted: January 11, 2011

PADDYWACK
by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Daniel Howarth
Paddywhack

This is a classic story of a girl and her pony with the appealing twist that it’s told from the pony’s perspective, and this pony has a sense of humor.  Paddywack begins by telling readers about how Jane “fell off me for no good reason” when he first got her.  Jane also seems to underestimate the importance of treats until she realizes that they are the only way to get Paddywack to cooperate.  The tale culminates with a horse show where the problem of forgotten treats resurfaces.  Will Paddywack dump Jane off in rebellion or will his better side come through?  Readers may encounter some new horse-related words like canter and stirrup.  Children reading on their own will enjoy this engaging story.

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2010


DANIEL AT THE SIEGE OF BOSTON
by Laurie Calkhoven
Daniel at the Siege of Boston

It is 1775.  In the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, the English army’sRedcoats flow into Boston like waves in a sea.  As he serves and observes British officers at his parents’ tavern, twelve-year-old Daniel wants to help the Patriot cause.  Does he have the courage to stand up for freedom?  This is a historical fiction book (a made-up story set in the past).  A section at the end of the book contains historical information including a timeline of the events of the siege and recommendations for nonfiction (factual) books about the American Revolution.  Look for the second book in the Boys of Wartime series, Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, next year.

Posted: December 21, 2010

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ALL OF ME! A BOOK OF THANKS
written and illustrated by Molly Bang

All About MeA child takes the time to be thankful for feet and hands, senses and heartbeat.  Thankfulness expands to include the outside neighborhood and eventually the whole universe.  Young children will enjoy familiar concepts presented in poetic sentences.  The pictures are a combination of collage, painting, and red crayon drawing, creating an engaging contrast of complex and simple images.  Older children can use the suggestions on the last page to maketheir own books from paper bags.  A fitting read for the Thanksgiving season and all year round.

Posted: November 18, 2010

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THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: WEIRD JUNIOR EDITION
by David Borgenicht and Justin Heimberg, illustrated by Chuck Gonzales

Worst case ScenarioDo you need to know how to evict a ghost from your bedroom? (Start by asking).  Are you unsure what to pack for your next time-traveling adventure? (Think gold and a hidden camera).  Yes?  Then this is the book for you.  Even if you don’t think you’ll experience supernatural events anytime soon, this is an entertaining, fast-paced read.  The handbook allows you to flip through and start at any point, so if UFOs don’t interest you, you can turn straight to the Medusa section.   Step by step guides, interviews, and fast fact boxes add to the user-friendly format.  Read it for fun and learn a few real facts along the way.

Posted: October 18, 2010


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DRACULA MADNESS
by Mary Labatt, illustrated by Jo Rioux

Dracula MadnessThe first book in the graphic novel series A Sam & Friends Mystery, Dracula Madness begins with Samantha, a dog detective, moving into a small town and befriending Jennie, who can hear her thoughts.  What Sam really wants is a mystery and she just might have one when Jennie takes her to the town’s spookiest house.  Vivid black and white drawings complement and sometimes take the place of the dialogue.

Posted: October 8, 2010

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RUFUS THE SCRUB DOES NOT WEAR A TUTU
by Jamie McEwan, Illustrated by John Margeson

Rufus the ScrubRufus has always been a scrub, a benchwarmer on the football team.  This season is his chance to prove himself, but he seems to be too clumsy to avoid opposing players and make the right tackle.  At his mother’s suggestion, he starts ballet lessons to improve his control.  Can doing pirouettes with a bunch of eight-year-old girls really help him on the football field?  Play-by-play details with small doses of football terminology make for an exciting story.

Posted: September 21, 2010

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ANGEL CAT SUGAR, SWEET SCHOOL DAYANGEL CAT
by Ellie O’Ryan, illustrated by Sachiho Hino

Sugar and her friends are excited for the first day of school.  They feel nervous too, though.  When Parsley loses his new notebook, they search the whole building to find it.  Striking pictures portray each room of the school.  This book will remind developing readers of their first day.


Posted: September 7, 2010

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THE SEASIDE ADVENTURES OF JACK AND BENNY: THE LEGEND OF OLD SALTY
Written and Illustrated by Matthew Loux

Salt Water TaffyIn this graphic novel, Jack Putnam and his brother Benny are in for a long summer in Chowder Bay, Maine.  The house where they stay doesn’t even have a TV.  It looks like a boring summer until an old sailor named Argus tells the boys about a giant sea monster named Old Salty.  Could the monster be real? Why would it stay in Chowder Bay?    Jack and Benny set out on an adventure to find and fight the monster. If you enjoy The Legend of Old Salty, the Salt WaterTaffy series continues with A Climb Up Mt. Barnabas.

Posted:
August 25, 2010

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THE TAIL OF EMILY WINDSNAP
by Liz Kessler

The Tail of Emily Windsnap Emily has never gone swimming even though she lives on a houseboat.  That changes one fateful day when she takes a swim lesson and learns that she’s a natural swimmer.  So natural, in fact, that her legs join together and form a tail while she’s in the water.  She must unravel the mystery of her true identity and parentage.  This book is followed by the sequel
Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep.

Posted:
August 10, 2010

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HENRY & THE BUCCANEER BUNNIES
by Carolyn Crimi illustrated by John Manders
Henry & Buccaneer Bunnies
The skull and crossbones has grown floppy ears and buckteeth.  With its crew of buccaneer bunnies, the Salty Carrot is the scariest ship on the seven seas. However, Henry, the captain’s son, spends all his time reading instead of becoming a pirate.  None of the other bunnies value his knowledge until a red sunrise changes their view.  The illustrations of pirate bunnies add to the comedy of the tale.

Posted: August 1, 2010

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DOLPHINS
by Seymour SimonDolphins by Seymour Simon

Did you know that dolphins swallow their food whole? Or that some dolphins like to play with divers?  Dolphins is full of fun facts and colorful photographs about these fascinating animals. The book features different types of dolphins including bottlenose dolphins, Dall’s porpoise, the Amazon River Dolphin, and Orcas.  Readers can even learn to help dolphins by following the suggestions in the final section.  This book is part of a nonfiction series by the Smithsonian Institution.

Posted: July 20, 2010

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DAISY DAWSON AND THE SECRET POND Daisy Dawson
by Steve Voake illustrated by Jessica Meserve

Daisy Dawson needs to do a school project on animal habitats.  Luckily she has a special advantage—she can talk to animals!  She sets off on an adventure with her friends Boom the dog and Cyril the squirrel.  It’s a picture perfect day until the storm clouds roll in.  The sequel to Daisy Dawson Is on Her Way continues to develop the character of Daisy, and we meet new friends Hazel and Conker, squirrel youngsters.  Black and white drawings propel the story along.

Posted: June 25, 2010

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hOUNDSLEY AND CATINAHOUNDSLEY AND CATINA PLINK AND PLUNK
by James Howe illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Houndsley wonders why his friend Catina won’t stop talking every time they canoe. Catina wonders why Houndsley never wants to ride bikes. Each helps the other to face fears. Then, they enjoy new activities as friends. The story takes place over three chapters and is illustrated with watercolor paintings of the dog, cat, and their bird friend Bert.

Posted: June 18, 2010

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SKELETON CREEK by Patrick CarmanSKELETON CREEK

From the cover: “Read the Book …

Watch the Videos … Uncover the Mystery” Ryan and Sarah are trying to solve a mystery in their hometown of Skeleton Creek. While investigating, Ryan has an “accident” and breaks his leg. As he is recuperating, Ryan keeps a journal about the creepy events that happen in his town.  Sarah continues to search for answers and keeps in contact with Ryan by sending him videos that he can watch online.

For the reader who likes scary stories, this is an excellent choice. The combination of Ryan’s journal and Sarah’s videos make this book an entertaining read.

Posted: May 5, 2010

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THE REDHEADED PRINCESS: A NOVEL
by Ann Rinaldi
Red-headed Princess

This is a historical fiction book about Elizabeth I as a young girl. She lives much of her young life away from the palace  at her country estate. She rarely sees her father, King Henry VIII. We  learn of her relationship with her half-siblings, Edward and Mary. Her life is in constant peril. She is taught to trust no one. As we know, Elizabeth perseveres and becomes queen of England. An entertaining, fast paced book.

Posted: March 1, 2010

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