Monday, September 22, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Discover More: Human Body by Steve Setford


Discover More: Human Body by Steve Setford. 112 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2014. 9780545667760. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

The challenge of overview books on any subject is what to include. Too little detail might not pique interest or be useful and too much detail might overwhelm. This volume is so crammed with photos and facts, it does overwhelm. In the best possible way. It's so dang gorgeous that one does not mind revisiting it again and again. 

The subject of the human body is endlessly fascinating and so complex that students need to revisit the topic a number of times in their journey from kindergarten to senior year of high school. Hopefully, they delve a bit deeper each time. Indeed, entire tomes are written about each organ let alone body system. 

The system approach is usually the way units and overview books are organized. This one takes a slightly different approach. Chapters are entitled, "Your amazing body," "On the move," "Skin you're in," "Body Engines," "Fuel for the body," and "In Control." The familiar body systems are laid out on pages 18 and 19 with arrows pointing to the pages containing information at each illustration. 

Oh, the illustrations! Each one is a feast for the eyes. There are historical drawings, photographs, artists' renderings, MRI and other computerized images and charts. Lots of "Wow!" factor here. Especially compelling is the close-up photo of the iris and pupil…or the nerve bundle…or the cells dividing. Can't choose. Of course, a few elicit, "Ew!" If the standard, 3mm head louse enlarged to fill a page doesn't make you start scratching, the ultra-enlarged photo of eyelash mites might send you over the edge. I would've appreciated knowing how many times photos such as these were enlarged but I don't think it will occur to most kids. 

The accompanying downloadable ebook, Be a Brainiac, is filled with fun brain teasers. A three-page glossary, index and photo credits conclude this volume. Make room on the 612 shelf for this one. It won't sit.   

Saturday, September 20, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves


StS is a weekly meme at Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:




One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington. 343 p. Bloomsbury, July, 2014. 9780802737021. 

Publisher synopsis: Sabine isn’t like anyone else. For as long as she can remember, she’s had two lives. Every twenty-four hours she ‘Shifts’, living each day twice. In one life, Sabine has everything: popular friends, expensive clothes, perfect grades, and the guy everyone wants. In the other, Sabine’s family struggles with finances, and she and her friends are considered rebels. But then she meets Ethan. He’s gorgeous, challenging, and he makes her feel like no one ever has before.

All Sabine really wants is the chance to live one life. When it seems like this might finally be possible, Sabine begins a series of dangerous experiments to achieve her goal. But is she willing to risk everything—including the one person who might actually believe her?


Purchased: (God help me.)


Mix It Up by Hervé Tullet. Unpgd. Chronicle Books, September, 2014. 9781452137353.

Publisher synopsis: Accept HervĂ© Tullet's irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist's simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader's imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

I absolutely adored Press Here and even bought it in Spanish for my middle school library collection. I have a feeling the art teacher is going to love this one. She does a unit on color. 


Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. Unabridge audiobook on 7 compact discs, 9 hours, 22 minutes. Performed by Gerard Doyle. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, August, 2014. 9781491502198.

Publisher synopsis: In a heart-pounding, atmospheric ghost story, a teenage boy must find the resources within himself to save his haunted twin brother.
After their nan accidentally burns their home down, twin brothers Pat and Dom must move with their parents and baby sister to the seaside cottage they’ve summered in, now made desolate by the winter wind. It’s there that the ghost appears — a strange boy who cries black tears and fears a bad man, a soldier, who is chasing him. Soon Dom has become not-Dom, and Pat can sense that his brother is going to die — while their overwhelmed parents can’t even see what’s happening. Isolated and terrified, Pat needs to keep his brother’s cover while figuring out how to save him, drawing clues from his own dreams and Nan’s long-ago memories, confronting a mystery that lies between this world and the next — within the Grey. With white-knuckle pacing and a deft portrayal of family relationships, Celine Kiernan offers a taut psychological thriller that is sure to haunt readers long after the last page is turned.
I recently read this one with my eyes. When I learned that there was an audio, decided to buy it to reread with my ears.
What's new with you? Happy Reading!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Memes: One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington

Book Beginnings is hosted bRose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

One Past Midnight by Jessica Shirvington. 343 p. Bloomsbury, July, 2014. 9780802737021. 

Publisher synopsis: Sabine isn’t like anyone else. For as long as she can remember, she’s had two lives. Every twenty-four hours she ‘Shifts’, living each day twice. In one life, Sabine has everything: popular friends, expensive clothes, perfect grades, and the guy everyone wants. In the other, Sabine’s family struggles with finances, and she and her friends are considered rebels. But then she meets Ethan. He’s gorgeous, challenging, and he makes her feel like no one ever has before.
All Sabine really wants is the chance to live one life. When it seems like this might finally be possible, Sabine begins a series of dangerous experiments to achieve her goal. But is she willing to risk everything—including the one person who might actually believe her?
First Line(s): I am a liar.
         Not compulsive.
         Simply required.
         I am two people.

Page 56: He shrugged and half-smiled, enjoying my discomfort. "I've got nothing better to do."
     Oh, the flattery.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan


Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. 290 p. Candlewick Press, August, 2014. 9780763670610. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

This atmospheric ghost story is set in Ireland in the 1970s and is narrated by fifteen-year-old Patrick Finnerty. He and his twin brother, Dominick and baby sister Dee live with their parents and their Nan, who has some sort of dementia. After Nan burns their house to the ground, the family moves to a rental on the sea shore. It is cold and blustery and the house is musty. Patrick is awakened the first night by a voice he thinks might be Dom's. It's not Dom, it's a "goblin boy" with eyes as black as coal. The two basically terrify each other but Patrick is convinced that goblin boy has it in for Dom. And he does.

The writing is not Americanized but easily figured out. It is also just lovely conveying not only a strong sense of setting but fleshed out characters. Patrick is terrified for Dom but also wants to protect his over-stressed parents. It doesn't help that both his baby sister and his Nan sense that Dom isn't Dom. The suspense ratchets up unbearably as the plot takes a few twists and turns. The pieces all fall into place in a satisfactory conclusion. 

This is a 2014 favorite.

Two Heist Novels from Scholastic

It's tough to pull off a great heist, be it in real life, in the movies or in a book. Careful plotting and unbearable suspense are required in all three, which is why I usually read heist books in one sitting and can't watch heist movies in theaters because I get jittery and have to move around. This past summer, Scholastic released two from authors whose work I have enjoyed.


Loot by Jude Watson. 266 p. Scholastic Press, June, 2014. 9780545468022. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Even though the book opens with the main character's father plunging to his death and real menace threatens him, his sister and two cohorts at every turn, the tone is almost flippant or jaunty. I was tempted to tag the book humorous. I guess that's due to March and his gang's bravado. They truly responded poorly to adult authority. The dialogue was often laugh-out-loud funny but the suspense and the mystery kept a certain level of tension that slowly ratcheted up. That, and the non-stop action keeps the reader riveted and turning the pages as fast as possible. There's a curse, nefarious adults, nightmares involving falling from a cliff, and a cliff. Irresistible.

March's dad's dying words were, "Find jewels." Leading March to believe that he needed to find, you know, jewels. After all, Alfie was a jewel thief of international stature. March rarely attended school what with all the need to leave a variety of countries quickly. He's shocked to learn that it isn't jewels he needs to find, but Jewels, the twin sister he never knew he had. And she's none to pleased to learn about him. Nor does she mince words about her feelings for their dad. It seems that when they were small, Alfie, his wife and another partner in crime stole some cursed moonstones. Alfie's wife drowned, the partner was nabbed and imprisoned and Alfie got away, only something terrible would happen to the twins before their thirteenth birthday.



The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson. 240 p. Scholastic Inc. May, 2014. 9780545525527. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

Jackson Greene is the king of the con at his school. Only, this year, he's gone straight after executing a legendary con the previous spring. His principal knows he's the culprit but has no proof and it's just killing him. To say he's gunning for Jackson is an understatement.

Jackson may have to come out of retirement though. He gets wind that his arch-nemisis, Keith Sinclair, Mr. Sinclair and Principal Kelsey are conspiring to rig the student council election. Since his former, almost girlfriend, Gaby is running and has some great ideas, Jackson can't just stand by and do nothing. 

It's all a bit over-the-top but it's pure fun with memorable characters, whip-fast dialogue and plenty of hilarity. Sure to please most middle grade readers but definitely seek out those dreaded reluctant readers and offer this one.

I book talked both these titles on Friday and have a waiting list as long as my arm so I'll be purchasing more copies.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Memes - Ghoulish Song by William Alexander

Book Beginnings is hosted bRose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.


Ghoulish Song by William Alexander. 166 p. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, April, 2014. 9781442427303.

Publisher synopsis: A brave girl flees a ghoul while trying to save her town in this lively, fast-paced companion to National Book Award winner Goblin Secrets.
Kaile lives in Zombay, an astonishing city where goblins walk the streets and witches work their charms and curses. Kaile wants to be a musician and is delighted when a goblin gives her a flute carved out of bone. But the flute’s single, mournful song has a dangerous consequence: It separates Kaile and her shadow. Anyone without a shadow is considered dead, and despite Kaile’s protests that she’s alive and breathing, her family forces her to leave so she can’t haunt their home.
Kaile and her shadow soon learn that the troublesome flute is tied to a terrifying ghoul made from the bones of those who drowned in the Zombay River. With the ghoul chasing her and the river threatening to flood, Kaile has an important role to play in keeping Zombay safe. Will Kaile and her shadow be able to learn the right tune in time?
Set in the delightful and dangerous world of Goblin SecretsGhoulish Song is a gripping adventure laced with humor and mystery from National Book Award–winning author William Alexander.
I was cataloging books yesterday. I can usually catalog a book pretty quickly if I have to but I had time, so I took some to read the first lines of each book that I cataloged. Ghoulish Song came in my Junior Library Guild subscription.This one definitely grabbed me. I didn't love Goblin Secrets. I liked it well enough but it didn't grab me as it apparently grabbed the National Book Award judges.

First Line: The last day of Kaile's life did not start well.
Page 56: She looked for her father in the market crowd. She didn't know what she would do if she saw him, or how she would feel. But she didn't have to find out, because she didn't notice anyone she knew-or at least no one she knew by name. A few familiar-looking faces passed through the crowd, but nobody here had attended her funeral.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Smek for President by Adam Rex

WoW is a weekly meme at Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we are eagerly anticipating.



Smek for President by Adam Rex. 272 p. Disney-Hyperion, February 10, 2015. 9781484709511.

Publisher synopsis: In this much anticipated sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip and J.Lo are back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure. And this time (and last time, and maybe next time), they want to make things right with the Boov.
After Tip and J.Lo banished the Gorg from Earth in a scheme involving the cloning of many, many cats, the pair is notorious-but not for their heroics. Instead, human Dan Landry has taken credit for conquering the Gorg, and the Boov blame J.Lo for ruining their colonization of the planet. Determined to clear his name, J.Lo and Tip pack into Slushious, a Chevy that J.Lo has engineered into a fairly operational spaceship, and head to New Boovworld, the aliens' new home on one of Saturn's moons.
But their welcome isn't quite as warm as Tip and J.Lo would have liked. J.Lo is dubbed Public Enemy Number One, and Captain Smek knows that capturing the alien is the only way he'll stand a chance in the Boovs' first-ever presidential election.
With the help of a friendly flying billboard named Bill, a journey through various garbage chutes, a bit of time travel, and a slew of hilarious Boovish accents, Tip and J.Lo must fight to set the record straight-and return home in once piece.
Oh man, I adored The True Meaning of Smekday! I read it with my ears. Bahni Turpin did a spectacular job bringing this hysterical story to life. Don't take my word for it, the audiobook won the 2011 Odyssey Award. I see that the audiobook is releasing at the same time, but no narrator is listed. Hm-m, I wonder who's narrating? Must suss this out.

What are you waiting on?