Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Taking Stock - July, 2018

Total Books: 33/ 196
Total Posts: 27
Total Reviews: 12

Challenges:
Debut: 3/ 9
Audio: 8/ 45
Picture Books: 9/ 62

The Good: Got to review a bit.

The Bad: Still behind with my goal and summer vacay is more than half over!

The List:
164. Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (7/1)*
165. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (7/1)*
166. Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale (7/2)
167. You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P. by Alex Gino (7/4)
168. Warcross by Marie Lu (7/4)
169. The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee (7/4)*
170. The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (7/4)*
171. Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña (7/4)
173. Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck (7/5)*
174. Binge by Tyler Oakley (7/6)
175. Baker’s Magic by Diane Zahler (⅞)
176. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater (7/9)
177. I’m Ok by Patti Kim (7/11)
178. Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre (7/12)*
179. Speak: the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Emily Carroll (7/13)*
180. Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (7/13)
181. The Stars Beneath My Feet by David Barclay Moore (7/14)
182. Reckless by Cornelia Funke (7/14)
183.The Assassination of Brainwein Spurge by M.T. Anderson (7/15)*
184. Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (7/15)*
185. The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass (7/16)
186. Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol (7/18)*
187. Bounce by Megan Shull (7/22)
188. Mascot by Antony John (7/23)*
189. Grenade by Alan Gratz (7/26)*
190. Front Desk by Amy Tang (6/26)
191. Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome (7/28)*
192. The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage (7/28)*
193. Surprise! By Caroline Hadilaksono (7/29)
194. Hope by Matthew Cordell (7/29)
195. Perfect by Max Amato (7/29)*

196. Grow Up, David! By David Shannon (7/30)

Teen Tuesday: Grenade by Alan Gratz


Grenade by Alan Gratz. 288 p. Scholastic Inc. October 9, 2018. 9781338245691. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher)

The U.S. Marines are invading the island of Okinawa. This story is told from two alternating points of view. Hideki is supposed to be in middle school, only he and his classmates have been drafted into the Blood and Iron Student Corps and given two hand grenades - one to throw at the invading U.S. forces and one to use on themselves rather than be captured. Hideki doesn't think he can do either, so crippled is he by an inherited curse of cowardice in a country that prides itself on its courage. 

Ray is barely eighteen, not much older than Hideki. He and his Marine buddies anticipate a bloody battle when they land on the beach at Okinawa. This is his first battle and, as he worries about whether he will survive, he reflects on his relationship with his volatile father. 

The action is swift, brutal and unpredictable in this compelling, utterly un-put-downable novel. Alan Gratz just gets better with each new book. Refugee absolutely gutted me. I did not think anything could match or top it. Grenade gutted me in a different way. The details of Japanese culture and the invasion of Okinawa are seamlessly woven into the narrative. Readers will become invested in each boy. He is becoming quite good at inducing tears for most of the last third of his stories. I read this on the plane returning from Europe, squished in the middle seat. It is pretty hard to sniffle and sob squished in the middle seat of a trans-Atlantic flight. 

Gratz pulls no punches depicting the carnage of war. He also masterfully pulls the rug out from under the reader effectively leaving this reader stunned and flipping pages back to reread. His Author Note provides fascinating historical context. 

Gratz had quite a number of fans at my school before the sixth grade LA teachers made Refugee a whole-class read. Since that unit, I cannot keep his books on the shelf! Nice problem to have. I cannot wait to share Grenade with them come September. I need to purchase multiple copies. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino


You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino. 247 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. September 25, 2018. 9780545956269. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Jilly is a seventh grader with a bff, involved parents and a baby sister on the way. She's also a huge fantasy fan and belongs to a fan site for her favorite fantasy series. She has some online friends there but is particularly drawn to Derek, aka "profoundinoaktown," who is black and deaf. She's bright and fairly opinionated. Derek challenges her assumptions as does her aunt Alicia, a black woman who is married to her mother's sister. When it appears her baby sister, Emma is deaf, Jilly turns to Derek with questions. Both Derek and Alicia enlighten Jilly about microagressions they each experience. 

This book, Alex Gino's sophomore effort, has a lesson or two to teach and it feels like it, especially at the beginning. That said, they are very important lessons - about white privilege, microaggressions, racism, ableism and assumptions. Jilly P. owns her mistakes and bravely confronts the racism that exists in her extended family. She also eventually chides her not-racist parents for not talking about racism. There's warmth and humor to soften the tougher parts of the book. This is a brave, important book that would help adults start conversations with the young people they care about. Thoughtful adults and young people will identify their own privilege and hopefully work to change minds and raise consciousnesses.

Though You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! and George are stand-alone novels, their covers share certain design similarities. I love both covers. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Never Too Old for Picture Books and Never Too Old to Learn

Judy Freeman often says that she learns the most interesting things from children's books. I happen to agree and am prone to add this: one is never too old for picture books. Last week, I returned from my first ever Viking River Cruise. My husband and I landed in Amsterdam, spent the day exploring, had a guided tour and walked some more. We got back too late for the daily port talk and formal dinner, but experienced some Dutch pancakes. 

Each night, the tour director gathered us in the lounge and went over the activities for the following day, peppering his talk with interesting stories and trivia. The night before we were due to dock in Mannheim, Germany, he told us the story of Bertha Benz's historic ride from Mannheim to her parents house some sixty miles away in the country. Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Bertha Takes a Drive: how the Benz automobile changed the world by Jan Adkins, I kept whispering in my husband ear and finishing Gavin's sentences. However, he said that Karl Benz had trouble getting investors for his new motorcar. Hm, I wonder if condemnation by the pope had anything to do with that? 

Saturday, July 28, 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:



It's Show and Tell, Dexter! by Lindsay Ward. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, July, 2018. 9781503901377. 

Publisher synopsis: Dexter T. Rexter is going to school. But will anyone like him?

Tomorrow is the biggest event ever in Dexter’s life: his best friend, Jack, is taking him to school for Show and Tell Day! Dexter has been getting ready for weeks. But now he’s a little nervous. What if the other kids don’t like him? So Dexter decides to come up with a plan. He’ll wear a costume. Dinosaurs in bunny ears look good, right? He’ll recite state capitals starting with…uh…ah…er. Then he realizes something. He can’t dance. He can’t recite things. He doesn’t have ANY skills. What’s a dino to do?

This comical, interactive tale of belonging, friendship, anticipation, and first-day-at-school jitters lets readers experience the excitement and nervousness along with Dexter—and even offer him a little advice along the way.



Eavesdropping on Elephants: how listening helps conservation by Patricia Newman. 56 p. Millbrook Press/ Learner Publishing Group, August 1, 2018. 9781541515710.

Publisher synopsis: Can understanding how forest elephants communicate help scientists find ways to protect this vulnerable species? Researcher Katy Pane and others involved with Cornell University's Elephant Listening Project believe it can. Patricia Newman takes readers behind the scenes to see how scientists are making new discoveries about elephant communication and using what they learn to help these majestic animals.


Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig. Illustrated by Chris Mould. 296 p. Canongate, October 6, 2018. 9781786890689.

Publisher synopsis: Let the battle for Christmas begin . . .

Amelia lives in the magical town of Elfhelm, newly adopted by Father Christmas and Mary Christmas. When the very jealous Easter Bunny launches an attack to ruin Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her family and the elves to fight off the forces of evil.

But can they keep Christmas alive?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Fact Friday: Positive by Paige Rawl


Positive by Paige Rawl. 288 p. HarperCollins Publishers, August, 2014. 9780062342515. (Own)

Fact Friday features Positive: a memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin. Paige Rawl never thought twice about the amount of medication she had to take each day. It was just a fact of her life. She had a happy childhood with her single mom. She had a best friend. She cheered and played soccer. When she was in sixth grade, her mom explained that the reason why she needed medication was that she was HIV positive and had been since she was three. Her father was a drug addict who infected her mother and eventually Paige, who contracted the virus through childbirth. Her life changed dramatically when she shared her positive status with her best friend. The bullying started within hours and by eighth grade, she opted to be homeschooled because of the hate. She writes honestly about contemplating suicide. Instead, she channeled her energy into educating people about bullying and HIV/ AIDS. Today, she is a motivational speaker and founder of a non-profit organization called Paige Power. Positive is a popular choice at TMS by eighth graders when they need to read a memoir. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#tbt: Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern



Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern. 208 p. Feiwel and Friends, October, 2007. 9780312367954. (Own)

This epistolary novel consists of the thoughts of sixteen-year-old Anna Bloom, who has been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital. She is having panic attacks that prevent her from going to school and, well, generally functioning. While there, she falls into a routine of dysfunctional but oddly funny group therapy sessions. She also develops friendships and a experiences a crush before being released to her parents care. Will she be alright out in the real world?

This short novel is a quick and compelling read. Anna is snarky, bright and often quite funny. Get Well Soon was the author's debut. She wrote a sequel, Have a Nice Day, in 2012.






Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson


The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson. 278 p. Scholastic Inc., September 25, 2018. 9781338209969.

Publisher synopsis: All 12-year-old Marinka wants is a friend. A real friend. Not like her house with chicken legs. Sure, the house can play games like tag and hide-and-seek, but Marinka longs for a human companion. Someone she can talk to and share secrets with.

But that's tough when your grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian who guides the dead into the afterlife. It's even harder when you live in a house that wanders all over the world . . . carrying you with it. Even worse, Marinka is being trained to be a Yaga. That means no school, no parties -- and no playmates that stick around for more than a day.

So when Marinka stumbles across the chance to make a real friend, she breaks all the rules . . . with devastating consequences. Her beloved grandmother mysteriously disappears, and it's up to Marinka to find her -- even if it means making a dangerous journey to the afterlife.

With a mix of whimsy, humor, and adventure, this debut novel will wrap itself around your heart and never let go.

I enjoy fairy tales retellings and variants. Plus, that cover!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Hit Count by Chris Lynch


Hit Count by Chris Lynch. 368 p. Algonquin Young Readers, May, 2015. 9781616202507. (Own)

The reader meets Arlo Brodie as an eager, articulate freshman who is eager to please his football-fanatic father and measure up to his brother, who is a senior and on the varsity team. His mother is less than pleased and none of the Brodie men pay attention to her "file" about football, hit counts and traumatic brain injury. 

Arlo's star is rising and his brother's is falling. As this happens readers begin to notice changes in Arlo. The reader likes Arlo and roots for him but at some point realizes that the articulate, kind student-athlete is disappearing and there's nothing we can do about it. We just hope some adult in Arlo's life notices. It's complicated though. Self-interest abounds. 

Lynch effectively conveys the thrill of playing football with the clear and always present danger of permanent injury in an engaging, nuanced story. 


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo


Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo. 240 p. Candlewick Press, October 2, 2018. 9780763694630. (Review from arc courtesy of the publisher.)

Louisiana Elefante is not a happy little girl. Life with Granny has not been easy; but she is grateful that she has her considering her trapeze artist parents are not in the picture. She finally made a couple of best friends in Raymie and Beverly (from Raymie Nightingale) and now Granny has dragged her out of bed in the middle of the night muttering about a reckoning. They are leaving Florida forever, never to return and Louisiana is devastated. Soon it is evident that Granny is suffering or ill and Louisiana has to drive the car to find a dentist. They are broke; so paying for services is going to be a bit difficult. Louisiana and her Granny are resourceful though. Louisiana is determined to find her way home. Only it may not be what she expects. 

Louisiana's voice captivates from page one. There is hilarity but there is also plenty of heartbreak - more than enough for one little girl to carry so resiliently. Resilience seems to be a theme in middle grade literature this year. 

Kate DiCamillo is a fearless writer. Each of her books is different. I will be honest. Raymie Nightingale was not a favorite of mine. I enjoyed it but wondered what kind of reader among my students would tackle this quiet story set in the 1970s. Still, I was eager to read this companion. It is not necessary to have read Raymie Nightingale. Louisiana's Way Home utterly floored me. The writing is spare and lovely. Little moments are so beautifully nuanced you might stop to savor or go back and reread. I marked this as a rare reread. I will most likely reread it with my ears. I cannot wait.

Louisiana's Way Home is a must-purchase title for any library. Your DiCamillo fans will thank you as will your gentle readers who love sad books. Will it be DiCamillo's Newbery hat trick? Not sure. The competition seems fierce this year. Each MG book I read seems better than the last. It's not one you want to miss.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Fact Friday: Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol. 256 p. First Second, April, 2018. 9781626724457. (Own)

Fact Friday features Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol. This is Brosgol's second graphic novel and, unlike her debut, Anya's Ghost, this one is a memoir about nine, almost ten-year-old Vera's time spent at a summer camp for Russian children. Vera lives with her single mother, brother and baby sister. She doesn't quite fit in with her savvier, wealthy classmates as scenes from two birthday sleepover parties show. When a prickly girl from Vera's Russian church tells her about her Russian culture summer camp, Vera begs her mother to go. Her cash-strapped mom signs Vera and her very reluctant younger brother up for two weeks. Vera is ecstatic. Her brother? Not so much. 

Hilarity ensues as Vera tries to fit in with two fourteen-year-old bunkmates and camp life which includes using outhouses and speaking entirely in Russian. 

The art is predominantly greens and browns. Changes in panel size and crisp, authentic dialog keep the reader engaged and alternately cringing and rooting for Vera. 

Be Prepared is perfect for graphic novel fans, especially fans of gn memoirs. There have been so many good ones lately and this one holds its own.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

#tbt: House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer


House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. 400 p. Atheneum/ Richard Jackson Books, September, 2002.(Own)

#TBT features House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. This sci/fi/ dystopian was published in 2002 and won the National Book Award as well as a Printz Honor and a Newbery Honor. It takes place in the future in Opium, which is a strip of land between Mexico and the U.S., where it is legal to grow Opium. Mateo is the main character. He is a clone of the drug lord, El Patron. He is meant to supply tissue and organs for the aging patriarch as his own fail. Pretty grim stuff. Ms. Farmer published a sequel in 2013 called The Lord of Opium.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Muse of Nightmares by Lainie Taylor


Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Strange the Dreamer series #2. 528 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 2, 2018. 9780316341714.

Publisher synopsis: Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.
She believed she knew every horror, and was beyond surprise.
She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the muse of nightmares, has not yet discovered what she's capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel's near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Oh! How I adored Strange the Dreamer! I missed my opportunity to snag an arc of this at ALAAC18.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Speak: a graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson


Speak: a graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Emily Carroll. 384 p. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, February, 2018. 978037400289. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features Speak: a graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Emily Carroll. The novel, Speak, was published nearly twenty years ago, in 1999. It won a Printz Honor. I recall saying to a colleague, "This should be required reading for every rising eighth grader, boys and girls, before heading to high school." Since then, I have reread it several times and find it just as (sadly) relevant and powerful.

Melinda has lost her voice after an awful attack at a big high school summer bash. She starts her freshman year as an outcast because she called the police, not to bust up the party, but to report the attack. She could not speak of it - not to the police, her parents or her best friends. 

Laurie Halse Anderson reworked her novel to accommodate the graphic novel format and updated it to reflect the technology that wasn't available back then. Emily Carroll's haunting black and white illustrations depict Melinda's isolation and loneliness. 

When Speak: a graphic novel published, I was out of budget money.Speak: a graphic novel  will join her sister, Speak at TMS in the fall. Both are must-reads for teens.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck


Boy Bites Bug by Rebecca Petruck. 266 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, May, 2018. 9781419721410. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I have often pondered (*) the vagaries of popularity and what makes something cool or uncool. Rebecca Petruck explores that as well as racism, white privilege and wrestling in this engaging story. She adroitly serves up insight along with shiver-inducing delight. The alliterative, embossed cover will definitely garner attention if displayed prominently in your library. Every kind of reader will be intrigued with Boy Bites Bug. 

When seventh grader Will Nolan chooses to pop a stink bug into his mouth to defuse a tense situation between one of his best friends and a new student in school, he's convinced that he will be the school pariah when he returns the following day, especially given the fact that he puked in front of his whole class. Instead, he finds himself dubbed, "Bug Boy," and his feat is now school legend. But he's still wrestling with the racial slur that flew so effortlessly from his friend, Darryl's  mouth and he'd rather be concentrating on making the wrestling team. When the new boy, Eloy Herrera expresses an interest in trying out, Will agrees to help Eloy make the team. The budding friendship is soon tested when Will inadvertently insults Eloy, who calls Will out on his covert racism. Will wants to keep his friendship with Darryl as well; but that may not be possible.

The mixture of middle school boy banter and pranks, the wrestling and fascinating facts about entomophagy (bug eating) will tempt readers to swallow this one whole. The recipes at the back of the book may or may not get readers to swallow an insect; but are definitely food for thought. I do admit that I haven't been able to bring myself to try the little bag of ant popcorn the author gave everyone at the Abrams luncheon that celebrated four middle grade titles. Yes, this does embarrass me. I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater. I am humbled. 

The Insectarium was already on my New Orleans itinerary when the author recommended visiting it. It is a wonder to behold. 

Thanks to Jenny and everyone at Abrams for bringing us Rebecca Petruck and Boy Bites Bug! This one won't sit on your shelf for long!

(*) Ever since seventh grade, to be exact. That might be fodder for another post.

Saturday, July 14, 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 Assassination of Brangwian Spurge by M/T. Anderson. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 530 p. Candlewick Press, September 25, 2018.97807636982214.

Publisher synopsis: Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.

Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.

Purchased: I was setting up this week's "Waiting on Wednesday" and realized that I never read book three! So I remedied that asap.


The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage. Mo & Dale Mystery #3. Unabridged audiobook on 7 compact discs. 8.5 hours. Read by Lauren Fortgang. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House, October, 2015. 9781101892398.

Publisher synopsis: The trial of the century has come to Tupelo Landing, NC. Mo and Dale, aka Desperado Detectives, head to court as star witnesses against Dale's daddy--confessed kidnapper Macon Johnson. Dale's nerves are jangled, but Mo, who doesn't mind getting even with Mr. Macon for hurting her loved ones, looks forward to a slam dunk conviction--if everything goes as expected.

Of course nothing goes as expected. Macon Johnson sees to that. In no time flat, Macon's on the run, Tupelo Landing's in lockdown, and Dale's brother's life hangs in the balance. With Harm Crenshaw, newly appointed intern, Desperado Detectives are on the case. But it means they have to take on a tough client--one they'd never want in a million years.

For everyone who's already fallen for Mo and Dale, and for anyone who's new to Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even is a heartwarming story that perfectly blends mystery and action with more serious themes about family and fathers, all without ever losing its sense of humor.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Picture Book Review: Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre


Thank You, Earth: a love letter to our planet by April Pulley Sayre. unpgd. Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, February, 2018. 9780062697349. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

Ah, thank you notes! A lost art! I am a pretty faithful thank you note writer who tries not to notice when thank you notes don't arrive after I've done some gift giving. After all, the pleasure should be in the giving, no? However, I will admit to feeling a certain amount of pleasure when I do receive a thank you note. 

Gratitude is a practice. I practice yoga daily and most of my teachers devote part of our practice to identifying at least one thing to be grateful for. I like this ritual. It's stabilizing. Stopping to feel gratitude is humbling and helps with perspective. 

Thank You, Earth is a beautiful meditation. It is an exercise in perspective and humility, an invitation to appreciate our planet. The gorgeous shots of nature pair beautifully with the spare and lovely sentiment in the text. A note from the author invites readers to find ways of not only thanking our planet but actively working to save it by investigating, sharing, participating, helping and acting. There is also a list of resources budding conservationists can consult. The extensive list of picture credits identify animals and landforms for interested readers. 

Thank You, Earth is a vibrant example of #nevertoooldforpicturebooks and belongs in all kinds of libraries for readers young and not-so-young. Thank You, Earth needs to be shared widely. 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fact Friday: Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale


Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series #7. Amulet Books/ Abrams, November, 2017. 0891419725562. (Review from finished copy courtesy of the publisher.)

Please bear with me while I take the long way around to the review in this post. If you don't have the patience to read about debates that librarians have, with themselves and other librarians, jump down to the * below. (Scroll down. Sorry, I don't know how to create an anchor link!)

Cataloging books for the collection can be confounding sometimes. Take The Magic School Bus series. My mentor had them cataloged as non-fiction and so, the books were all over the non-fiction section. If a young patron was a fan of the series, we looked it up in the catalog and jotted down all the Dewey numbers to find them. When I took over the library after my mentor's retirement, I re-cataloged them all to FIC, so they would be all together on one shelf and easily found. Even though the books were crammed with facts, the magic school bus aspect  technically negated its eligibility for the non-fiction/ informational section. Really, it was the ease of having all the books together that drove my decision. 

But my cataloging conundrums continued over the years. I had a couple of skateboard fanatics, so I bought a bunch of skateboarding books, including Tony Hawk's autobiography. My gut was to catalog the Hawk book in the biography section, but then I paused, thinking that my skate boarders know where the skateboarding books are kept and might miss the addition of this autobiography if I put it in the biography section instead of with the other skateboarding books. But then, when students come in looking for a biography for the biography unit, it's easier to peruse the biographies in the biography section than to look by sport for the biographies there. Hm.

A similar dilemma arose with the multi-author, multi-platform 39 Clues and similar series. At first, I cataloged them by author, until the series got popular, then I re-cataloged them under the series name for easier discovery. 

A few years back, I bought a graphic novel series about the battles of World War II. I chose to put them in the 940s along with the other informational titles about the battles of that war. They get read by my readers interested in World War II, but don't get discovered by my graphic novel readers. I figured my fact hounds might discover the wonder of graphic novels if I placed those books in the subject area. 

When the first Hazardous Tale released, I cataloged it as 741.5 Hale, where the bulk of my GNs go. As each sequel released, they all sit side-by-side in numerical order. Imagine trying to find them were they cataloged by Dewey subject? 

I haven't read them all, but while they are factually correct, the story is narrated by Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War figure who gleaned future historical events by virtue of his placement in an American History book! A weird sort of time travel, eh?

Here's another little cataloging wrinkle. We tend to call the Dewey numbers, "non-fiction." The non-fiction section has become equated with "real" or informational literature. The fiction goes in the fiction section, right? Well, technically, wrong. When Dewey organized his system, fiction had a Dewey number in the 800s. In most libraries now, the 800s house poetry and plays and the fiction goes in, well, the fiction section. Technically, all fiction could be assigned a Dewey number. You might occasionally see a literary novel given an 800 number in CIP information on the copyright page. (Though seeing any CIP info is becoming rarer and rarer nowadays.)

Confused yet? How about fairy tales? Well, they have a Dewey number too. 398.2 (plus a complicated extended number that matches the country's Dewey number, oy!) And why are fairy tales given a 300 number? Because they are associated with a culture and that's where the books on social sciences, which includes culture, go. 

I digress. Back to 741.5. That is the Dewey assignation for the graphic novel format. When graphic novels became increasingly popular some years back, some libraries got creative with their cataloging. Some are cataloged as fiction and filed with the rest of the novels. The graphic novels that come each month in my JLG subscription are cataloged as fiction. I re-catalog them each month. Some libraries created separate shelves for their GN collections. Mine mostly  reside on the 741.5 shelf. My GN fans quickly learn the number and they head right to the section.

Okay. Why this not-so-little bird walk? As I contemplated what book would be featured on this week's Fact Friday, I realized that I hadn't read a new work of informational literature in a while. As I cast back in memory, I had trouble coming up with one that I hadn't already featured. Then my eyes fell on my stack of books for review and I spied Raid of No Return. Could I review it for Fact Friday? A quick check of the county library cooperative I belong to yielded this result: there are 33 copies in the system, only 17 of which are available for check-out. Three are cataloged as JNF(Juvenile Non-Fiction); one as 741.5; one as JF (Juvenile Fiction) 940.54 (!) and the rest are cataloged as JF Graphic Novel. 

So, the majority of libraries consider the series a work of fiction. Considering the amount of research Hale puts into each of these, I'm going to go with featuring it today on Fact Friday. Thanks for your patience.

*Or not. My review:

The Raid of No Return is the seventh Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales entry and highlights a secret mission known as the "Doolittle Mission" or the "Tokyo Raid." Nathan Hale, the author/ artist opens this volume with a short recap of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hale's visual of the utter destruction of the Naval Fleet was sobering. 

Using a his signature limited-color palette, this time, blues and grays, apropos for a story centered mostly at sea, Hale recounts the story of this historic air raid in vivid detail from idea to its aftermath. 

When legendary stunt pilot, James, Jimmy, Doolittle called for volunteers for a top-secret mission, he received more than the eighty he needed. Most of these volunteers were Army B-52 pilots. Imagine their surprise when they arrived at training to find a Navy officer as their teacher and taught to get their modified aircraft airborne in a very short distance. Turns out their secret mission was a bombing raid over Japan. But getting out alive once the bombs were dropped was the tricky part. They had to try to make it over the border to China and hope that they didn't land or crash in Japanese-occupied areas of China. 

Eighty men went on this mission, which was not the greatest military success, but struck a psychological blow to Japan and its citizens and boosted American morale. I will leave it to you to read the story to discover how many men made it back. I will say though, there may be tears near the end.

This series should be in every school and public as well as classroom library. They really make learning history fun. Give this to your military history buffs as well as your general graphic novel fans. I hope the series continues. It is just terrific. 

Many thanks to Jenny and the team at Amulet/ Abrams for the opportunity to read and review Raid of No Return. Thanks also to the author for the informative chat and cool autograph.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

#tbt: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Happy #tbt, TMS Readers! I imagine that you all have had the experience of reading a book that was so well written, the characters seemed to spring to life. Perhaps you've been read to by someone who was so talented a narrator, the same thing happened. Now, imagine a narrator whose narration is so magical that the characters from the book he is reading to his wife one evening really find their way out of the book into our world. And they like it here, better. One of many problems with this is the fact that, for everything that is narrated out of a book, someone or something from our world has to enter the storybook world. Has anyone guessed which book is being featured today?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was published in the U.S. in 2003 and was followed by two sequels, Inkspell in 2005 and Inkdeath in 2007. Inkheart was adapted for film in 2008 in the U.K. and released in the U.S. in 2009.
In Inkheart, Twelve-year-old Meggie has lived with her father, Mo, a bookbinder. She is unaware that they are essentially on the run and hiding from a man named, Capricorn until a man named, Dustfinger comes to their home to warn Mo. Inkheart clocks in at 534 pages; but the pages do fly by, so immersive is the world that Funke created. 
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Inkheart trilogy #1. 534 p. The Chicken House/ Scholastic Inc., October, 2003. 0439531640. (Own.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage


The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage. 358 p. Mo & Dale series #4. Kathy Dawson Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September 11, 2018. 9780803739628.

Publisher synopsis: The heart-warming conclusion to the beloved Mo & Dale Mysteries by Newbery Honor author Sheila Turnage featuring the most shocking case yet!

Pirate fever sweeps through the town after an opportunistic treasure hunter shows up looking to lay claim to Blackbeard's lost gold buried somewhere in Tupelo Landing. When the (probably) world-famous Desperado Detectives--Mo and Dale and Harm--are hired by Mayor Little's mother to find the pirate loot for her, and the high-stakes race for riches is on!  

But that's not the only treasure hunt in town. Mo LoBeau unearths shocking new clues that may lead to her long-lost Upstream Mother--in the riskiest, scariest, and possibly richest case of her life.  
Will Mo find her Upstream Mother? Can the Desperados sidestep Blackbeard's curse and outsmart a professional treasure hunter? Will Dale faint under the pressure of Valentine's Day?   

Could the stakes be any higher? Yes. With twin treasures hanging in the balance, Mo, Dale, and Harm realize one of them may have to leave Tupelo Landing. For good.

I just adore this series (My review of Three Times Lucky and The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing) and will be sorry to see it end. I just realized that I never got around to reading The Odds of Getting Even! Oops! I must remedy that asap! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Arc Review: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka


Hey, Kiddo: how I lost my mother, found my father and dealt with family addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 312 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., October 9, 2018. 97805445902472. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Teen Tuesdady features Hey, Kiddo: how I lost my mother, found my father and dealt with family addiction by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Krosczka is an award-winning graphic novelist and illustrator. His books include the Lunch Lady series, books four, five and six of the Jedi Academy series and the Platypus Police Squad. In his graphic novel memoir, Hey Kiddo, we learn that his mother was a talented artist. Unfortunately, she was also a drug addict. She got clean when she was pregnant with Jarrett, but struggled with addiction before and after he was born causing Jarrett's grandparents to sue for custody of their grandson. Jarrett's grandparents were loving but had some problems of their own. The were rough around the edges but loved Jarrett fiercely. He grew up in the working class city of Worcester, Massachusetts during the 1980s and his art saved him. It gave him an outlet and also brought him attention. 

Krosoczka's grey and sepia toned illustrations and watery-bordered panels evoke the haze of memory and some sadness. The narrative is enhanced by the insertion of photographs of the author's mother's letters and art. Backmatter includes a lengthy author's note.

This memoir is a tough read. It is a raw, unflinching look at the effect addiction has on family. For those readers dealing with addiction within their family, this book is a mirror. For those lucky enough not to have an addicted family member, this window book will help readers temper their judgement. Addiction is complicated and addicts are as well. This brave graphic novel memoir belongs in every public, middle and high school classroom and school library.