Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Arc review: The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane

The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane. 208 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 7, 2016. 9780316257817. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

To say that Maggie is a worrier is an understatement. Not only is she worried about starting middle school, there's Gordy, her tough-guy neighbor and classmate, who's been bragging that he's getting a gun for his twelfth birthday. She's also worrying about the fate of the baby bunnies next door, some may be heading to the cooking pot. And, ever since learning about the murder of the checkout lady at the local convenience store, which she and her sisters visited moments before the botched robbery, Maggie has been obsessing about the possibility of being murdered by the criminal since he is still at large.

This unique debut is told from Maggie's point-of-view and can be a rather challenging read even though it's short. The stream-of-consciousness style used to portray her obsessions and repetitions can be rather disorienting. Be patient and stick it out. 

Maggie can't simply travel from point A to point B without any number of rituals (counting, repeating, checking). This glimpse into the bind that those who suffer from OCD labor under should help tween readers empathize. At the same time, there's a lot that's familiar to the average tween. She's eleven and given to flights of fancy and abrupt shifts in concentration. Anyone who spends any time with tweens being social with one another is used to this. Her relationships are changing within and outside of her family. She's recognizing that her assumptions can be wrong.

It'll be a pleasure to add this short, satisfying novel to my school's collection. There aren't a lot of books for tweens dealing with OCD. It's an important addition because seems that severe anxiety and OCD in children is on the rise. Students may recognize either themselves or someone they might know and benefit from the respectful portrayal in The Best Worst Thing

The 2016 Schneider Family Book Award went to a YA book, The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, in which the main character is working through his struggle with OCD. It was heartbreakingly wonderful. Different year, different committee, different age category - but I hope someone considers The Best Worst Thing.

Waiting on Wednesday: Wish by Barbara O'Connor

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.

Wish by Barbara O'Connor. 240 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, November 1, 2016. 9780374302733.

Publisher synopsis: Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.

From award-winning author Barbara O'Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

I absolutely adore Barbara O'Connor's writing. She tackles unusual issues in her books and does so in a beautiful economy of writing. Her books are touching and accessible.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

FNG Review: Thunder Boy Junior by Sherman Alexie

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 10, 2016. 9780316013727. (Review from FNG provided by the publisher.)

Prepare to fall in love at first sight of the cover of Thunder Boy Jr. The dynamic illustration features an adorable boy clad in yellow overalls triumphantly astride his huge father's shoulders. Lightning streaks from grey clouds in the background. But the cover belies the Junior's sentiments.

Who hasn't hated their name? I know I went through a phase several times in my youth where I wished my father (my father named the girls (5) and my mother named the lone boy) had chosen a more common name for me, like Nancy or Sharon or a really uncommon and exotic name like Heather.

One of my own sons renamed himself at age four. He didn't like his name and preferred his cousin's name. We all thought it was a passing phase. It stuck. I gave him permission to change it legally but he opted instead to abandon it when he entered the workforce upon college graduation. Names are important. Names can be fraught. 

Poor Thunder Boy. His mom wanted to name him Sam. "Sam is a good name. Sam is a normal name." Luckily for Thunder Boy he has a little sister, Lillian, who gleefully rubs it in. Even his mother has a normal name!

Because his father is huge and imposing, folks call him Big Thunder, leaving Junior with the nickname, Little Thunder, which sounds like, "a burp or a fart." Little Thunder breaks the fourth wall to let the reader in on a little secret. "I HAT MY NAME!"

He wants his own name so he tries on a variety of monikers, such as, Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth or Touch the Clouds or Full of Wonder. Anything by Little Thunder. Little Thunder loves his dad but wants his own identity. Leave it to Big Thunder to find the perfect name. What a joyous solution!

And what a magnificent marriage of text to illustration. Yuyi Morales' painting burst from the page with energy and humor and wonder. The palette is vibrant. Little Thunder is a force to be reckoned with, as is his sister, Lillian. The love between father and son is exquisitely palpable. 

I'm purchasing this for my home collection as well as my school. Don't miss it! 

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.

Big week this week! I learned that I won a prize in editor, Christian Trimmer's Anniversary Giveaway and a gigantic box of books arrived a few days later! I am bowled over by the generosity of the gift. I already had a few of the titles, but most are new to me. I am so excited to read these.

I had another photo of all the books stacked on my floor and have been trying to email them to a variety of emails from my phone. This happens from time to time and I don't know why. If anyone has an explanation about why, drop me a line in the comments. 

For review: 

Animal Planet Animal Atlas by Animal Planet. 96 p. Liberty Street/ Time Inc., May 24, 2016. 9781618931658.

Publisher synopsis: Animal Planet's definitive atlas of animal life takes readers on a continent-by-continent and habitat-by-habitat passport to adventure!

What is a habitat? How is the North Pole's animal life different from the South Pole's? How and why do animals adapt to their environment? Is a food web different from a food chain? Animal Planet Animal Atlas answers all of these questions and many more. Through detailed maps, fun infographics, simple charts, and Find It! Fact boxes readers can track their favorite animals across the globe, learning about how animal habitats are affected by climate, food and water availability, migration, and human environmental impact.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham. 369 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, January, 2017. 9780316384933.

From the back cover: 
Some bodies won't stay buried. 
Some stories need to be told.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family's property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discovers about the past...and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey toward self-discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what's right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham's lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations-both yesterday and today.

That's what's new with me, what's new with you?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Taking Stock - April, 2016

Total posts this month: 15
Total books read this month: 26
Total books read this year: 101

Audio: 5/27
Debut: 3/6

The Good: <crickets>

The Bad: Was on track for a book-a-day then stumbled. 

The Books: * = favorite
88. Random Body Parts by Leslie Bulion (4/1)
89. Stick Cat by Tom Watson (4/2)
90. Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker (4/3)*
91. The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (4/9)*
92. Half Bad by Sally Green (4/10)
93. Nelle and Tru by G. Neri (4/10)
94. Sports Illustrated Kids: My First Book of Baseball: mostly everything explained about the game by the Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids (4/11)
95. Baseball Then to WOW! by the Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids (4/11)
96. Radiant Child: the story of young artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe (4/14)*
97. My Washington, DC by Kathy Jakobsen (4/14)
98. Bug Zoo by Andy Harkness (4/14)
99. The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life by Tara Altebrando (4/15)
100. The Rise of the Elgin (Michael Vey #2) by Richard Paul Evans (4/16)
101. Way to Glow! by Lisa Regan (4/17)
102. Leaps and Bounce by Susan Hood (4/17)
103. Let Me Finish by Minh Le (4/17)
104. Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson (4/17)
105. Rules of the House by Mac Barnett (4/17)
106. Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins (4/18)
107. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (4/19)
108. Yoga for Kids by Lorena V. Pajalunga (4/22)
109. The Book Itch by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (4/23)*
110. Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres (4/24)(SLJ review)
111. The Best Worst Thing by Kathleen Lane (4/24)
112. How to Swallow a Pig by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (4/26)*
113. Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu (4/26)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.

Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes. 120 p. Highlights Press, October 4, 2016. 978162979740.

Publisher synopsis: Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also obese, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. This emotionally resonant novel in verse by award-winning author Nikki Grimes celebrates choosing to be true to yourself.

I have enjoyed Nikki Grimes' novels and can't wait for this one. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Misadventures of Max Crumbly #1 Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.

Locker Hero by Rachel Renée Russell. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly #1. 320 p. Aladdin, June 7, 2016. 9781481460019.

Publisher synopsis: Max is about to face the scariest place he’s ever been—South Ridge Middle School! He has been home-schooled by his grandmother until now, and he’s begged his parents to finally let him start attending public middle school. He’s starting to question that choice, though, with the Thomas Silver Problem. As in, Thomas Silver keeps stuffing Max in his locker.
If only Max could be like the hero in all the comics he likes to read—or the ones he draws—and magically escape the locker and defeat Tommy. Unfortunately, Max’s uncanny, almost superhuman ability to smell pizza from a block away won’t exactly save any lives or foil bad guys. But that doesn’t mean Max won’t do his best to be the hero his school needs!

The author's Dork Diaries are quite popular at my school. While that doesn't always guarantee crossover popularity, I will still add it to our collection.