Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng. 320 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, February 28, 2017. 9780399186370.

Publisher synopsis: A space-obsessed boy and his dog, Carl Sagan, take a journey toward family, love, hope, and awe in this funny and moving novel for fans of Counting by 7s and Walk Two Moons.
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

Even without the suggestion about fans of Counting by 7s, I wanted this book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

The TTT theme over at Broke and Bookish is underrated books of 2016. 

I recently read, was astounded by, reviewed and am stymied why Seven and a half tons of steel by Janet Nolan didn't get more attention!

I also agree with YA Book Nerd that Barbara Dee's Truth or Dare should've received more love. It's a book that every girl needs to read.

I also wish that Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan got more attention. I didn't get to review it on the blog but this sweet book features short chapters, winning main characters with interesting points-of-view and a great audiobook to boot. 

I also wish that Monika Schröder got more attention. Her books are quietly lovely and Be Light Like a Bird was so poignant. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Non-fiction Monday: Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel by Janet Nolan. Illustrated by  Thomas Gonzalez. unpgd. Peachtree Publishers Ltd. August, 2016. 9781561459124. (Review from copy borrowed from library.)

Wow. This was a gut-punch. I do not recall where I saw a recommendation for this book. By the time I ordered, then picked up the ILL, I had nearly forgotten the premise. So when I opened the book and viewed the first few pages, I wasn't sure what I was in for.

The story starts on the front end-page. A school-age boy sporting a backpack and baseball mitt looks up into the cloudless sky at a low-flying plane. The page-turn features a double-page spread of early morning traffic in mid-town. Taxis stand bumper to bumper. A pedestrian attempts to maneuver through the gridlocked cabs that block the intersection and crosswalk. In the side view mirror of one vehicle, an extremely low-flying plane can be seen skirting over the rooftops. The next page-turn reveals the title page on the recto and a bottom-up view of that plane hitting the tower. 

Yeah. Gut-punch. When it comes to 9/11, it doesn't take much to evoke a visceral reaction, but this art! These incredible watercolor paintings stun, from the familiar-rush hour gridlock, to the solemnity of a scene of a makeshift memorial to the intensity of dismantling Ground Zero to the sheer immensity of a weather map of Hurricane Katrina to the symbolic beauty of Liberty Island. Each double-page spread invites lingering and meditation.

I was aware that the steel recovered from Ground Zero was used in a variety of ways. The town in which I teach used a bit of it in the town's memorial. It is a powerful memorial planned so that on September 11, the rising sun shines through a hole in the granite and lands on that piece of steel at precisely the time the first plane hit the first tower.

It is fitting that a seven and a half ton beam became the bow of a ship and that the ship was named the New York. The construction of this memorial was impacted by another disaster that should not be forgotten, a natural disaster - Hurricane Katrina. 

The somber, measured writing recounts the attack gently and simply making this suitable to share with younger students (grade 3), but should reside in middle and high schools as well. Language arts and social studies teachers will find it an apt story to share with classes each anniversary. The paintings could be utilized in a VTS lesson and thus encourage student's to be reflective while pondering each image.

I am not sure how I missed this and wonder why it isn't being talked about more. It is absolutely a first-purchase.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review: 

Unfolding: a novel by Jonathan Friesen. 274 p. Blink, January 31, 2017. 9780310748335.

Publisher synopsis: Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.
And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.
When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.

Time for Kids Presidents of the United States. 80 p. Liberty Press/ Time, January 10, 2017. 9781683300007.

Publisher synopsis: TIME For Kids presents a complete overview of our nation's chief executives from George Washington to the newly elected 45th president!
Did you know that James Monroe was the first president to appear without a wig in public? Or that George W. Bush appointed the first African-American secretary of state? Presidents of the United States invites the reader inside the White House to discover fascinating facts about the U.S. commanders-in-chief-their origins, accomplishments, and place in history-as told through famous quotes, important historical dates, and a timeline of events. Special sections cover the election process, the branches of government, and the role of presidents in the expansion of our nation from before the 13 colonies through westward expansion. With more than 200 photographs, illustrations, portrait reproductions, and maps.


Fire Birds: valuing natural wildfires and burned forests by Sneed B. Collard III. 48 p. Bucking Horse Press, January, 2015. 9780984446070.

From the jacket flap: Every year in the united States, wildfires on average burn an area larger than the state of Massachusetts. Most people consider the burned areas to be total wastelands, but are they really? Fire Birds tells the remarkable story of how dozens of species of birds us the burn areas. Even more startling, at least 15 bird species prefer burned forests to all other habitats.

I found this on last year's NSTA Outstanding Books list while searching for something else. How could I have missed this gem, birder that I am?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Review: Warren the 13th and the All-seeing Eye by Tania del Rio

Warren the 13th and the All-seeing Eye by Tania del Rio. Illustrated by Will Staehle. 220 p. Quirk Books, November, 2015. 9781594748035. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)(Had also previously purchased a copy for my library)

Happy Friday the Thirteenth everyone! What better way to celebrate than to meet Warren the 13th.

Warren comes from a long line of Warrens, all of whom have taken care of the family legacy, the Warren Hotel. Unfortunately the hotel has fallen on hard times since his father's death years earlier thanks to his lazy uncle. It is up to Warren to be the bellhop, the groundskeeper and errand boy. He tries his best but he's only twelve. To make matters worse, his uncle has recently married. Aunt Annaconda despises Warren and finds every excuse to punish him. She is also methodically trashing each room in the hotel. Warren learns that she's searching for the All-Seeing Eye, something Warren always believed was a myth in the family folklore.

As treasure seekers descend on the hotel, Warren desperately tries to save it from wreckage at their greedy hands and tries to figure out other strange doings, such as the mysterious resident of the boiler room and a pale girl creeping about the place. 

This slightly over-sized volume is quite eye-catching with its red and black and gold cover art.The story moves apace with plenty of humor, twists and turns, accompanied by black and red spot art and full- and double-page illustrations.

The mystery is resolved satisfactorily at the end but Warren is headed for new adventures, as promised by an * after the words, "the end." 

This series is sure to be a hit with your students/ patrons who are fans of Lemony Snicket. Give this quirky book to readers wishing a side of humor and a dash of the macabre with their reading.

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods is due to publish on March 21, 2017. This volume sports a green and black cover.

While Warren's toadish features are mentioned several times in book one, I wonder if they will be explained in book 2.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cover Coincidence

Cover Coincidence is the occasional post that arises when I ask myself, "Where have I seen this before?"

The cover for Long May She Reign popped up on my GR feed today. 


Waiting on Wednesday: The Terrible Two Go Wild by Mac Barnett and Jory John

The Terrible Two Go Wild by Mac Barnett and Jory John. Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Amulet Books/ Abrams, January, 2017. 9781419721854.

In book three, everyone's favorite pranksters are at it again! Miles and Niles are sent away for the summer to Camp  Good Times, where they fail to feel the positive vibrations. Then kids from a rival camp, led by bully Josh Barkin, raid Good Times, class president and de facto camp leader Holly Root looks to Miles and Niles for help. Will our heroes break free from the feckless feel-goodery of Camp Good Times? 

I need multiple copies of books in this series. They are rarely on the shelf.