Friday, December 14, 2018

Fact Friday: Flying Deep: climb inside deep-sea submersible ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito

Flying Deep: climb inside deep-sea submersible ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito. Illustrated by Nicole Wong unpgd. Charlesbridge, March, 2018. 9781580898119. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.) 

Fact Friday Features Flying Deep: Climb inside deep-sea submersible ALVIN by Michelle Cusolito. Work inside ALVIN is not for the claustrophobic. The tiny vessel barely fits three scientists and does its work miles under the sea where it is very cold and very dark. Luscious language in a log-book style give readers a "you are there" vibe. The digitally rendered illustrations provide a feast for the eyes.

Even though photographic illustrations are becoming more common in informational literature, there is something to be said for artistic rendering. The art here is lush and atmospheric. The need to turn the book perpendicularly to view and read adds to the feeling of deep diving. 

The backmatter is terrific. There's a very detailed and interesting author's note, an illustrator's note, some additional ALVIN facts, a glossary, an explanation of some of the organisms featured in the book, four books, a film and some websites, including the author's Pinterest Board. 

Flying Deep is a great book to introduce any number of STEM lessons and sure to inspire budding oceanographers! This is the author's picture book debut and I'm looking forward to reading more. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

#tbt: Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen. 88 p. Wendy Lamb Books/ Random House Children's Books, 2007. 9780385748681. (Own)

Readers who want funny, short, impactful books need look no further than Gary Paulsen. Lawn Boy  was published in 2007. A twelve-year-old un-named narrator receives his grandpa's old ride-on lawn mower for his birthday. Not being old enough to work a real job, he hops on the mower and solicits jobs mowing lawns for the summer. Soon, business is booming but not without some wrinkles and bad guys. Each chapter is named for an economic principle that Lawn Boy is dealing with at the time. A sequel, Lawn Boy Returns, was published in 2010. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Terrible Two's Last Laugh by Mac Barnett & Jory John

The Terrible Two's Last Laugh by Mac Barnett & Jory John. Illustrated by Kevin Cordell. Terrible Two series #4. 224 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, December 24, 2018. 9781419725654.

Many thanks to my student who came in looking for this book. I had no idea there was a book four!

Publisher synopsis: It's Miles and Nile's final year at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy, and the Terrible Two have one goal: an epic prank.Something big, something brilliant, something that will leave a lasting legacy at their school. Which should be easy-peasy for these experts, especially not that their principal has gone from archnemeisis to their protégé.

But there smooth sailing gets downright bumpy when they find out that the new superintendent is none other than Bertrand Barkin, their principal's father...and their sworn enemy. Now that the Former Principal Barkin is Acting Superintendent Barkin, he has a first order of business: his long-promised revenge on the Terrible Two.

This rollicking finale to the bestselling series by Mac Barnett and Jory John will seller once and for all who will have the last laugh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: From Twinkle with Love by Sandy Menon

From Twinkle with Love by Sandhya Menon. Unabridged downloadable audiobook, ~8 hours. Read by Soneela Nankani. Simon & Schuster Audio, May, 2018. 9781508255383.

Teen readers, especially those who are into film, looking for a fluffy fun romance featuring an aspiring filmmaker need look no further than this epistolary novel featuring Twinkle Mehra. The sixteen-year-old gets a chance to write and direct her own film for a film festival and she's super-excited, especially when her crush's twin brother, Sahil steps up to be producer. Twinkle has had a crush on Neil forever and thinks this might be a way to get closer. When she starts receiving secret messages from someone named N., she assumes that it is Neil, all the while relying more and more on Sahil, as a friend. 

Twinkle is equal part endearing and enraging as she stumble from one misunderstanding to another. Soneela Nankani voices her doubts and triumphs perfectly. Readers will root for Twinkle. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller. Unabridged downloadable audiobook, 313 minutes. Read by Jennifer Kim. Listening Library, March, 2018. 9780525525707. 

Middle Grade Monday features The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller. This first-person narration is seventh grader Natalie Napoli's "Wonder Notebook," as her hashtag-loving, overly enthusiastic science teacher likes to call it. Natalie used to love science, especially botany and she adored spending time with her vivacious botanist mother in her lab at the university. For weeks now, her mother has virtually disappeared into her bedroom and Natalie wants her back. She doesn't want to join two classmates in an egg-drop competition until she learns the prize for winning is $500. Enough money to bring her mom on a trip to find a rare blue orchid. Maybe this will bring her mother back.

Along the way, Natalie learns a lot about herself as well as a desire to connect with her Korean grandmother and culture, something her bi-racial father has always avoided. She also connects with her two lab partners in unexpected ways. There's a lot to like in this debut. The pace is brisk. The tone is introspective. The characters are unique and complex. There's a smart, science-loving girl and a complicated family situation. Jennifer Kim's narration brings Natalie to life but have the book handy, as it is illustrated. 

The Science of Breakable Things is a wonderful addition to the collection.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

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:

Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, March26, 2019. 9781419733734.

Publisher synopsis: Sid, Axl, and Ivan volunteer to make a late-night fast-food run for the high school theater crew, and when they return, they find themselves. Not in a deep, metaphoric sense: They find copies of themselves onstage. As they look closer, they begin to realize that the world around them isn’t quite right. Turns out, when they went to the taco place across town, they actually crossed into an alien dimension that’s eerily similar to their world. The aliens have made sinister copies of cars, buildings, and people—and they all want to get Sid, Axl, and Ivan. Now the group will have to use their wits, their truck, and even their windshield scraper to escape! But they may be too late. They may now be copies themselves . . .

Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants by Andrea Beaty. Illustrated by David Roberts. The Questioneers series #2. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 16, 2019. 9781419734229. 

Publisher synopsis: In this new chapter-book adventure, Ada must rely on her curious mind, her brave spirit, and her best pals Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck to solve a mystery in her own backyard. 

Ada Twist is full of questions. A scientist to her very core, Ada asks why again and again. One question always leads to another until she’s off on a journey of discovery! When Rosie Revere’s Uncle Ned gets a little carried away wearing his famous helium pants, it’s up to Ada and friends to chase him down. As Uncle Ned floats farther and farther away, Ada starts asking lots of questions: How high can a balloon float? Is it possible for Uncle Ned to float into outer space? And what’s the best plan for getting him down?

Purchased: Nothing!

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or whatever that's called. But I will check out your stack!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Fact Friday and Review: Write to Me: letters from Japanese American children to the librarian they left behind by Cynthia Grady

Write to Me: letters from Japanese American children to the librarian they left behind by Cynthia Grady. Illustrated by Amiko Hirao. unpgd. Charlesbridge Publishers, January, 2018. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Fact Friday features Write to Me: letters from Japanese American children to the librarian they left behind by Cynthia Grady. Illustrated by Amiko Hirao. When Miss Clara E. Breed's young patrons turned in their San Diego library cards to her because they and their families were being forced to move, she gave each one a penny postcard with the request to write so she knew where they were. She went to the train station with a heavy heart to see them off. When the children wrote, Miss Breed's heart broke. She sent books and packages. She even visited the internment camp. She wrote articles about the harsh conditions and asked for donations. Information from the backmatter reveals that around thirty children sent over 250 letters to Miss Breed over the course of their imprisonment. 

Using excerpts from the letters that were sent to Miss Breed, author Cynthia Grady weaves an emotional biography of an extraordinary woman. The pastel illustrations soften the harshness, but convey an appropriate bleakness for young readers. Endpages depict black and white photos from the time, with FDR signing the declaration of war against Japan, notices ordering "persons of Japanese ancestry" to leave their homes bringing only what they could carry, and more.

An author's note, notable dates from Breed's life, a selected history of Japanese people in the U.S., source notes, selected bibliography, suggestions for further reading and photo credits conclude this must-read biography. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

#tbt: Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. Illustrated by Dom Lee. unpgd. Lee & Low Books, March, 1993. 9781880000014.

#tbt features Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki. 2018 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of this "groundbreaking" book. Back in 1993, there weren't many books at all, let alone books for children about this shameful part of US history. An unnamed narrator describes how he and his family were forced into a concentration camp and the terrible conditions that existed there. Fortunately for him, the children formed a baseball league and the camaraderie that resulted provided hope and comfort. Visit Lee & Low's web page for the book for lots of curriculum use ideas. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott. Illustrated by Harmony Becker. IDW Publishing, July 16, 2019. 9781603094504.

Publisher synopsis: George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's -- and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten "relocation centers," hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei's firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother's hard choices, his father's faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Takei give the morning keynote speech at the SLJ Leadership Summit in late October. I cannot wait to read this.

Teen Tuesday: Like Vanessa by Tami Charles

Like Vanessa by Tami Charles. 284 p. Charlesbridge Publishing, March, 2018. 9781580897778. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Teen Tuesday features Like Vanessa by Tami Charles. On the heels of Vanessa Williams' historic winning of the 1983 Miss America Pageant, thirteen-year-old Nessy confides her own dreams of entering a pageant in Darlene, her diary. But Nessy is realistic, she's big-boned and dark. Besides, her stern and aloof father would never let her. But when her school decides to host a pageant and the new music teacher encourages her to audition, her beloved grandfather, Pop-Pop signs her permission slip and her creative cousin TJ promises to design her wardrobe. Readers will fall in love with Nessy on page one and root for her through the ups and downs of life in Newark, New Jersey as she discovers her strength and learns a family secret or two. This semi-autobiographical novel is the author's debut.

That's what went on the morning announcements and is, by necessity, brief. I just loved this book and can't wait for my students to meet Nessy. She's so interesting and complicated. She's a good student who sees education as her way out of Newark and her neighborhood, which has drugs and gangs; but she's not sure how. Nessy strives to be invisible both at school and at home with her father, who seems angry all the time. She adores, Pop-Pop but worries about his drinking even though he sobers up each weekend to attend church. And she wishes her cousin TJ could be safe enough to be himself. This first-person narrative is achingly beautiful and filled with yearning.

The eighties, pageant preparation and Newark come to vivid life in this remarkable debut. I am looking forward to reading more from Ms. Charles. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell. Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs. 6 hours. Read by David Tennant. HarperAudio, 2017. 9781478922735. (Review of audio borrowed from public library. Own hard cover.)

For TMS fantasy fans, Middle Grade Monday features The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell. The setting for this engaging fantasy is prehistoric the British Isles ages before the time of King Arthur and the King Arthur legend is old, old, old. There were two feuding factions, the Wizards, who were magic and the Warriors, who were not. The Warriors mean to stomp out all magic once and for all. The Warrior Queen has a stone that can suck the magic out of any wizard, sprite, giant and all magical beings are terrified of being captured and losing their magic. What happens when one of the queen's daughters, an oddball Warrior princess named Wish, crosses paths with Xar, the Wizard king's non-magical son in the deep woods? The Wizards of Once is drolly told by an un-named, perhaps unreliable narrator who promises to return with more of the story. 

I must admit I have been avoiding fantasy for a while. Not sure why. I just checked my GR list for 2018 and I posted a fantasy in mid-October. The only thing I wrote about it was, "The violence in this was stunning." And I think that might be the issue. As I perused my list and picked out the fantasies, the violence was what I thought of first before characters or worldbuilding. Is this a thing? Admittedly, these were all YA fantasies. But still. Not that fairies and sprites are peaceful, mind you. 

The Wizards of Once is decidedly middle grade and it's rather delightful. We've got the obnoxious Xar who is all bluster and blame and the pitiable Wish, who just yearns for her Queen mother's affections. We've got delightful and delicious sidekicks that include a magicked iron spoon. We've got much laughter and surprisingly, a few tears. Finally, we've got illustrations! Something I discovered when I consulted my library copy. And they are wonderful.

Of course, David Tennant's performance is filled with a variety of voices and just the right amount of ham. What I could've done without, however, were the sound effects. Ugh! They often startled and added nothing to the story. In fact, they were downright distracting. This was my car audio and one effect (I think it was wind) made me nearly pull off the road because I thought it was my car breaking down! In retrospect, I'm surprised that the Odyssey committee didn't seem bothered by the effects as they bestowed an honor on the production. 

I think I will skip the audio for the next installment, Twice Magic. I also think I will get my fantasy mojo back by hanging out in middle grade fantasyland for awhile. Though, I must admit, Holly Black's Cruel Prince is beckoning.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

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:

The Raven's Tale by Cat Winters. 382 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 16, 2019. 

Publisher synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Edgar Poe counts down the days until he can escape his foster family—the wealthy Allans of Richmond, Virginia. He hungers for his upcoming life as a student at the prestigious new university, almost as much as he longs to marry his beloved Elmira Royster. However, on the brink of his departure, all his plans go awry when a macabre Muse named Lenore appears to him. Muses are frightful creatures that lead Artists down a path of ruin and disgrace, and no respectable person could possibly understand or accept them. But Lenore steps out of the shadows with one request: “Let them see me!”

Beyond Words: what elephants and whale think and feel by Carl Safina (A Young Reader's Adaptation) 176 p. Roaring Brook Press, April 23, 2019. 9781250144638.

This is a young readers adaptation of the author's best seller for adults. The back cover asks, "What do animals feel? Joy? Love? Pain?

A Tear in the Ocean by H.M.Bouwman. (A Companion to A Crack in the Sea.) Illustrations by Yuko Shimizu. 298 p. G. P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, January 22, 2019. 9780399545221.

Publisher synopsis: Putnam, the future king of Raftworld, wants more than anything to prove himself. When the water in the Second World starts to become salty and his father won't do anything about it, Putnam sees his chance. He steals a boat and sneaks off toward the source of the salty water. He doesn't know he has a stowaway onboard, an island girl named Artie. 

Artie isn't trying to save the world, she's just trying to save herself. On the run from an abusive stepfather, Artie just wants a place to call home. Putnam isn't the partner she would have chosen, but as the two face uncertainty and danger in their shared adventure, an extraordinary friendship forms. 

Meanwhile, more than a hundred years in the past, Rayel is also on the run from Raftworld, escaping an arranged marriage she discovers is really a plot to kill her father. She'd planned to be gone just long enough to foil the plot, but once at sea and sailing ever southward, Rayel discovers she has an astonishing magical power that leads her to a new home and a sadness so deep it infects the world. 

Told in alternating perspectives with Putnam and Artie traveling further and further into the uncharted southern sea--and Rayel, the key to the saltwater mystery, sailing the same sea in her own time--Putnam and Artie must put aside their differences and figure out why the sea is salty before it's too late.

Purchased: nothing!

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or whatever that's called. But I will check out your stack!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Taking Stock - November

I can't believe we are staring down the end of 2018! 

Total Books: 38/ 342

Total Posts: 33
Total Reviews: 15

Debut: 6/ 20
Audio: 12/87
Picture Books: 9/111

The Good: Reading A. Lot. of middle grade fiction for my CYBILS round one judging! 

The Bad: Still have a lot to read for my round one judging! It's all pretty darn good! Also, I blew Picture Book Month! 

The List:
304. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (11/1)*
305. This is the Day! By Amy Parker (11/1)
306. Bunny’s Staycation (Mama’s Business Trip) by Lori Richmond (11/2)
308. Rabbit Moon by Jean Kim (11/3)
309. Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (11/3)*
310. Sleep, My Bunny by Rosemary Wells (11/4)
311. A Truck Full of Ducks by Ross Burach (11/4)
312. The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier (11/5)
313. Write to Me: letters from Japanese American Children to the librarian they left behind by Cynthia Grady (11/5)
315. Squirm by Carl Hiaasen (11/8)*
316. Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (11/8)
317. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson (11/8)
318. If This Were a Story by Beth Turley (11/9)
319. Strongheart by Candace Fleming & Eric Rohmann (11/9)
320. Woodpeckers: drilling holes and bagging bugs by Sneed B. Collard III (11/9)*
321. Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein (11/9)*
322. Storm by Sam Usher (11/9)
323. Captain Superlative by J.S. Puller (11/9)
324. SHOUT by Laurie Halse Anderson (11/11)*
325. The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea (11/11)
326. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (11/14)
327. The Key to Every Thing by Pat Schmatz (11/14)
328. Daphne Definitely Does Not Do Drama by Tami Charles (11/17)
329. Eliza Bing is (Not) a Star by Carmella Van Vleet (11/17)
330. Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold (11/18)*
331. One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock (11/18)
332. Just Like Jackie by Lindsay Stoddard (11/18)
333. The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell (11/20)*
334. The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (11/22)*
335. The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm (11/23)
336. Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl (11/24)
337. P. S. I Still Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy (11/25)
338. Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman (11/25)*
339. Made by Hand: a crafts sampler by Carole Lexa Schaefer (11/27)
340. Zora and Me: the cursed ground by T. R. Simon (11/30)*

342. Wimpy Kid 13: Meltdown by Jeff Kinney (11/30)

Fact Friday and Review: Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and friends learn to search the snow by Elizabeth Rusch

Avalanche Dog Heroes: Piper and friends learn to search the snow by Elizabeth Rusch. 50 p. Little Big Foot/ Sasquatch Books, October, 2018. 9781632171733. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Let me start right out by saying that this is a terrific book! I'm a dog lover and a skier and admit I was inclined to like it. It was not a problem being objective however. This is a beautifully designed, informative book!

Let's start with the photos. They are crisp, clear, full-color and plentiful from front cover to back. There's at least one on every page showing the dogs (mostly Piper) in training on the mountain. The scenery is gorgeous! There are plenty of text boxes and diagrams to further explain/ illustrate finer points, such as a dog's sense of smell or the anatomy of an avalanche. The narrative is peppy, conversational and informative. Readers learn all about Piper, her canine buddies, her handlers and her day of training. 

Backmatter includes directions for making your own tug toy as well as instructions for training your dog to tug. Resources include books and websites to learn more. An additional page provides an educator's guide for group discussion and activities. 

Avalanche Dog Heroes is a fine addition to any collection. Display it prominently and it won't sit. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

#tbt: The Little Prince by Antoine Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince 75th Anniversary Edition by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, October, 2018. 9781328479754.

#tbt features The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This novella was originally published in France in 1943. It is narrated by someone called the Pilot who crash landed in a desert and meets a strange assortment of beings. It is supposedly the most widely translated (300 languages) and best selling book of all time. It has been adapted for film, as well as a graphic novel and pop-up book. Tragically, the author, who was also an aviator was shot down over the African front in 1944. He was forty-four-years-old.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Give and Take by Elly Swartz

Give and Take by Elly Swartz. 176 p. Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR, October 15, 2019. 9780374308216.

Publisher synopsis: When eleven-year-old Maggie's parents become foster parents for a new baby, her tendency to hoard spirals out of control.

I absolutely adored this author's debut and sophomore titles. Finding Perfect and Smart Cookie and am so-o excited for this!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. Unabridged audiobook on nine compact discs. ~11 hours. Performed by the authors, Jenni Barber, Noah Galvin, Michael Crouch, Kivilighan de Montebello and Candace Thaxton. Simon & Schuster Audio, 2018. 9781508263081. (Review of audio cd borrowed from public library. Own hc.)

Teen Tuesday features Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. This gripping novel is told in present tense from multiple perspectives and takes place in a scarily possible near future in southern California. Water shortages have caused farms to fail and lawns and pools to go dry; but one day, without warning, it stops flowing. At first, residents take it in stride and pile into their cars for a trip to Costco. But when seemingly plentiful cartons of bottled water can't be obtained, ordinary people, when desperate do despicable things. And, that is only the beginning. Not only will reading this make you terribly thirsty, you may want to start hoarding bottles of water the way that the book, Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer made the reader want to stock up on canned goods. As the copy asks, what would you do for the last drop of water?

This was a seat-of-your-pants read! One which, if you are reading with your eyes, you might read in one tense sitting. If you are reading with your ears, as I was, it made a marathon raking session fly by. The audio performances were fantastic. The five points-of-view weave seamlessly with each other and occasional "snapshots," narrated by the authors. Boy, does Michael Crouch have that creepy guy vibe nailed.

Dry is a must-read! Recommend it to everyone possible. Definitely hand it to teens to love apocalyptic stories like Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It series. It's timely and oh so possible.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. ~3 hours. Read by Georgette Perna. Listening Library, September, 2018. 9780525636168. (Review of audiobook borrowed from public library. Own hc.)

This sequel/ companion to The Fourteenth Goldfish was a pleasant read. It was great to revisit Ellie and her irascible grandfather, Melvin. I just love a smart mc, especially a girl who unabashedly loves science. I also love how fascinating science history is woven into the narrative and spelled out at the end of the story! 

Melvin moves back in just in time to team up with Ellie for the science fair. While he's still a bit outrageous and still stinks, Melvin might be mellowing. Ellie also may developing feelings for her best friend, Raj and the feelings may be mutual? She and Brianna might work things out as well. 

Ellie's engaging voice sounds conversational in this gentle story of friendship, family and science. The dialogue was often humorous in that unique middle school way. Chapters are short and the book flies by. That the audiobook narrator sounded appropriately young added to the pleasure of listening.

Fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish will love this sequel.  

Saturday, November 24, 2018

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:

Curse of the Evil Librarian by Michell Knudsen. 314 p. Candlewick Press, August, 2019. 9780763694272.

Not much is out there yet. I read the first and have the second on my mountain of books to be read. 

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill.192 p. Boyds Mills Press/ Highlights, September, 2018. 9781629799407.

Publisher synopsis: Magic doesn't work the way you think it will, but it's what Kate needs as she confronts friendship trouble, her parents' divorce, and Grammy's dementia in this lyrical middle-grade coming-of-age novel for fans of Half a Chance and The Same Stuff as Stars.

Kate has trouble believing in magic, especially since the people she loves keep leaving her. But when Grammy tells her the three rules of everyday magic--believe, give, and trust--Kate can't resist believing, at least a little. Following Grammy's advice, she tries to bring her father, her best friend, and even Grammy herself back to her. Nothing turns out as Kate expects, yet the magic of giving--of trusting that if you love and give, good things will happen, even if you don't see them happen--will change Kate and her family forever. 

Made by Hand: a crafts sampler by Carole Lexa Schaefer. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. 48 p. Candlewick Press, October, 2018. 9780763674335.

Publisher synopsis: A beautiful, one-of-a-kind volume invites readers to marvel at the time, effort, and care that went into creating handmade toys, tools, and treasures of the past.

Whirr, buzz, hum. Before busy machines in factories turned out most of what we need and use, people crafted these items by hand. From a globe to a pie crimper, a butter churn to a rocking horse, this unique collection highlights fourteen one-of-a-kind objects — each one drafted, stitched, painted, or engraved by hand. Author Carole Lexa Schaefer draws inspiration from real historical artifacts to create thirteen short works of fiction, imagining the hands that might have made and used each item. Several artifacts can be traced to their origin, while others remain complete mysteries, making for a fascinating patchwork of fact, guesswork, and imagination. Illustrator Becca Stadtlander breathes color and charm into this handmade history, bringing to life the different objects, people, and times. The result is a singular glimpse of everyday objects and treasures alike — back when such things were made by hand.


The Orphan Band of Springdale by Anne Nesbet. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3 CD. 9 hours, 40 minutes. Read by Kate Rudd. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio. 2018. 9781543687477.

Publisher synopsis: It's 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta's life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that's long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta's mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother's fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like "Wish" that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

The Cursed Ground by T.R. Simon. Zora and Me series. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3-CD. 6 hours, 6 minutes. Read by  Channie Waites. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio. 9781978644694.

Publisher synopsis: When Zora Neale Hurston and her best friend, Carrie Brown, discover that the town mute can speak after all, they think they’ve uncovered a big secret. But Mr. Polk’s silence is just one piece of a larger puzzle that stretches back half a century to the tragic story of an enslaved girl named Lucia. As Zora’s curiosity leads a reluctant Carrie deeper into the mystery, the story unfolds through alternating narratives. Lucia’s struggle for freedom resonates through the years, threatening the future of America’s first incorporated black township — the hometown of author Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960). In a riveting coming-of-age tale, award-winning author T. R. Simon champions the strength of a people to stand up for justice.

If you leave a comment, I will definitely stop by and try to comment back - unless commenters have to sign onto Discus or whatever that's called. But I will check out your stack!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving! #tbt: Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade by Trinka Hakes Noble

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade: a Thanksgiving story by Trinka Hakes Noble. Illustrated by David C. Gardner. Tales of Young Americans series. unpgd. Sleeping Bear Press, September, 2017. 9781585369607. (Own.)

I was going to skip #tbt today. Take a break for the Thanksgiving holiday. But then this book popped into my head and even though it's only a year old (#tbt usually features books older than 10 years), I decided to review it. 

The year is 1918 and a flu epidemic is sweeping the country, especially the tightly packed immigrant communities in New York's Lower East Side. Rettie is doing her best to care for her stricken mother and four younger siblings. She's only nine and her father is off fighting in the war. She scrambles to do odd jobs to earn money and hopes to participate in the ragamuffin parade so she can collect coins. She hopes the epidemic will not cancel the parade because she wants to feed her family on Thanksgiving. 

Poignantly told and sumptuously illustrated, this tale tugs at the heartstrings. This picture book for older readers is a wonderful Thanksgiving read aloud to encourage gratitude and reflection. An author's note at the end provides historical context. Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade is a wonderful addition to any school, public or classroom library!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mulally Hunt

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Penguin Random House, May 9, 2019.

Publisher synopsis: Delsie loves tracking the weather–lately, though, it seems the squalls are in her own life. She’s always lived with her kindhearted Grammy, but now she’s looking at their life with new eyes and wishing she could have a “regular family.” Delsie observes other changes in the air, too–the most painful being a friend who’s outgrown her. Luckily, she has neighbors with strong shoulders to support her, and Ronan, a new friend who is caring and courageous but also troubled by the losses he’s endured. As Ronan and Delsie traipse around Cape Cod on their adventures, they both learn what it means to be angry versus sad, broken versus whole, and abandoned versus loved. And that, together, they can weather any storm.

I adored One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree and cannot wait for this!