Thursday, August 31, 2017

Taking Stock - August, 2017

Total posts this month: 32(!)
Total books read this month: 45 (!)
Total books read this year: 284

Audio: 11/64
Debut: 6/19
Picture Book: 8/105

The Good: Read a lot and posted a lot! Deciding to post the daily booktalks I do for my students really boosted my blog posting. Now, why didn't I think of that sooner? 

The Bad: I'm happy for once.

The List:
240. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (8/1)(47)
241. Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley (8/1)(48)
242. Dara Palmer's Major Drama by Emma Shevah (8/2)(49)
243. Time for Kids Presidents of the United States (8/3)(50)
244. Animal Planet: Strange, Unusual, Gross & Cool Animals (8/3)(51)
245. The Big Dark by Rodman Philbrick (8/4)(52)
246. Greenglass House by Kate Milford (8/5)(53)
247. Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey (8/6)(54)
248. Shark Lady: the true story of how Eugenie Clark became the ocean's most fearless scientist by Jess Keating (8/6)*(55)
249. Abraham by Frank Keating (8/6)(56)
250. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (8/7)*(57)
251. The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe (8/7)(58)
252. Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins (8/8)*(59)
253. The Long Way Home by Gigi Priebe (8/8)(60)
254. Sting: a Loot Novel by Jude Watson (8/8)(61)
255. Beastly Bones (Jakaby #2) by William Ritter (8/10)*(62)
256. National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide (8/11)(63)
257. Garbage Night by Jen Lee (8/11)(64)
258. The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi (8/12)(65)
259. Ghostly Echoes (Jakaby #3) by William Ritter (8/13)(66)
260. Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg (8/14)(67)
261. Beauty and the Beak: how science, technology, and a 3D-printed beak rescued a Bald Eagle by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp (8/16)*(68)
262. P.S., I Still Love You by Jenny Han (8/16)(69)
263. How Could We Harness a Hurricane by Vicki Cobb (8/18)(70)
264. Bull by David Elliott (8/19)(71)
265. The Dog Ray by Linda Coggin (8/19)(72)
266. Billy Bloo is Stuck in Goo by Jennifer Hamburg (8/19)(73)
267. Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson (8/20)(74)
268. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (8/20)*(75)
269. The Beatles: All Our Yesterdays by Jason Quinn (8/21)(76)
270. Martin Rising: requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney (8/22)*(77)
271. Birds vs. Blades? Offshore wind power and the race to protect seabirds by Rebecca E. Hirsch (8/22)*(78)
272. Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley (8/22)*(79)
273. This is Really Happening by Erin Chack (8/23)(80)
274. Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan (8/24)*(81)
275. Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko (audio reread)(8/24)*(82)
276. Animal Planet: Animal Bites: Baby Animals (8/25)(83)
277. Animal Planet: Animal Bites: Animals on the Move (8/25)(84)
278. Tank Man: how a photograph defined China's protest movement by Michael Burgan (7/26)(85)
279. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (8/26)(86)
280. Gone by Michael Grant (8/30)*(87)
281. Karl, Get Out of the Garden: Carolus Linnaeus and the naming of everything by Anita Sanchez (8/31)*(88)
282. The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito (8/31)*(89)
283. Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion (8/31)(90)*
284. Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman (8/31)(91)*

The Daily Booktalk: #tbt: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. 240 P. HarperCollins Publishers, May, 1997. 9780060275105.

#tbt feature Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Ella Enchanted was published in 1997 and won a 1998 Newbery Honor. It is a retelling of Cinderella in a world that also contains mythical creatures. Ella has been given the "gift" of obedience by the fairy, Lucinda. This means that Ella must do as she is told even if the command is wrong or harmful. Her mother and their cook, Mandy have protected Ella as best they could, but when Ella's mother dies and Ella is sent to boarding school, someone finds out about the gift and uses it to her advantage. Levine's other books include Fairest, a Snow White retelling and The Two Princesses of Bamarre.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Waiting on Wednesday: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud

The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud. Lockwood & Co. series #5. 448 p. Disney Press, September 12, 2017. 978148778722.

Publisher synopsis: Five months after the events in THE CREEPING SHADOW, we join Lockwood, Lucy, George, Holly and their associate Quill Kipps on a perilous night mission: they have broken into the booby-trapped Fittes Mausoleum, where the body of the legendary psychic heroine Marissa Fittes lies. Or does it?

This is just one of the many questions to be answered in Book 5 of the Lockwood & Co. series. Will Lockwood ever reveal more about his family's past to Lucy? Will their trip to the Other Side leave Lucy and Lockwood forever changed? Will Penelope Fittes succeed in shutting down their agency forever? The young agents must survive attacks from foes both spectral and human before they can take on their greatest enemy in a climactic and chaotic battle. And to prevail they will have to rely on help from some surprising and shadowy allies.

I just realized that I haven't read the fourth book! I'd better get on that soon! I thought The Screaming Staircase was superbly scary and suspenseful and loved the chemistry of the trio.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Teen Tuesday: Gone by Michael Grant

Gone by Michael Grant. 576 p. Gone series #1. HarperCollins Publishers, June, 2008. 9780061448768.

It's the last Tuesday of summer vacation! Just think, Summer readers, I will see your smiling faces in a week from today as we start another fun and successful school year together! The Teen Tuesday feature is a sci-fi/ horror genre-blender called Gone by Michael Grant. It is the first book in the six-book Gone series. It's just another school day in the fictional town of Perdido Beach, California. Sam is zoning out, thinking about surfing when, poof, his teacher is suddenly gone. Blinked out of existence along with every other person above the age of fourteen as well as all forms of communication - no cell phones, television or Internet. Later, the kids find an impenetrable barrier. Their initial glee over the absent adults soon turns to fear as they realize the potential dangers of fire, illness and injury and dwindling food. Then, there are the bullies who take charge. It's a sort of modern day Lord of the Flies but with a supernatural twist.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Daily Booktalk/ Middle Grade Monday: Arc Review: Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley. 390 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 29, 2017. 9780525428442. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Eerie legends and family curses. Twelve-year-old Blue Montgomery gets dumped in Murky Branch, Georgia (population: 340) by his race car-driving father. He doesn't even stay to say hello to Granny Evie; he just jumps back into his truck and takes off. Granny Evie takes Blue's appearance in stride but has to get over to the old age home where her mother, Ma Myrtle is causing a ruckus on the roof. It seems that Ma Myrtle now knows when her death date is and has decided to share the secret to finding Munch, the golden alligator responsible for the two hundred year old curse of the Montgomery and Wilson families. Now Montgomery kin are descending upon Granny Evie's house to curry favor with Ma Myrtle. 

At the same time, Tumble Wilson moves with her family into a ramshackle home across the road. Tumble has just one desire: to become a hero in order to erase something. Her own hero is Maximal Star. She has read his book about being heroic and faithfully followed his advice only to fail repeatedly. She knows nothing about a curse, but thinks she can perhaps help Tumble overcome his. Only she gradually begins to feel she is cursed as well.

I was duly impressed by Ms. Beasley's debut, Circus Mirandus. Color me further impressed by her sophomore effort. Tumble and Blue is totally different but equally magical. Beasley's setting is vivid; her characters are unique, colorful and endearing and the friendship between Tumble and Blue is achingly real. The pace is leisurely, but with enough humor and mystery to keep readers engaged.

There's something I love about the square trim size. It's hefty and comfortable to hold. And what about that cover? Is it not the most gorgeous thing ever? A while back, EW posted a video of the making of the cover. Click here to view the painstaking process that led to one beautiful cover.

I cannot recommend this enough! I rarely reread books, but I would reread this. Hopefully, there are plans for an audiobook I just looked up whether there was an audiobook releasing. BN doesn't list one, but a quick Google search reveals that there is and, wait for it, KIRBY HEYBORNE is the narrator! Perfection! Definitely rereading with my ears. 

Tumble and Blue is perfect for your thoughtful readers who are fans of magical realism or books about friendship. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

I usually post a What's New? on Saturday mornings, but I was at the beach last week and came home Saturday afternoon to two packages in the mail!

For review:

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue by Patricia Newman. Photographs by Annie Crawley. 64 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, October 28, 2017. 9781512415711

From the jacket flap: Meredith Bastian's experiences studying wild orangutans help educate both zoo visitors and the zoo workers who care for captive orangutans. Jeff Baughman breeds black-footed ferrets and reintroduces them into the wild. And Rachel Santymire examines poop from black rhinoceroses at the zoo and in their natural habitat to benefit all black rhinos. Zoo scientists are helping us learn more about these remarkable, at-risk species before it's too late. 

I am so excited for this title! Not just because I think this author does a fantastic job of exciting kids about science (see here and here), but because it is a perfect addition to my collection for a seventh grade research project!

Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat by Sue Lowell Gallion. Illustrated by Joyce Wan. unpgd. Beach Lane Books, July, 2017. 9781481449779.

Publisher synopsis: Pug and Pig are back for a heartwarming Halloween adventure in this adorable picture book that’s perfect for pet lovers of all ages.

Halloween night has come to Pug and Pig’s house, and the darling duo is sporting matching costumes. The costumes are cozy. They glow in the dark. And they have masks! There’s only one problem—Pug hates wearing his. So he decides to rip it up and stay home. But Halloween just isn’t any fun for Pig without Pug! Can Pug find a way to be a good friend and get back into the Halloween spirit?

I adored Pug Meets Pig and am so thrilled that they are back. Isn't that cover the cutest thing ever?

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Memes: Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

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

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley. 390 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 29, 2017. 9780525428442. 

Publisher synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus comes the magic-infused story of a golden gator, two cursed kids, and how they take their destinies into their own hands.

When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.

But in 1817, when TWO fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.

Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.

But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?

Full of friendship, family, and the everyday magic and adventure that readers of Savvy and A Snicker of Magic love, Cassie Beasley’s newest middle grade book is another crowd-pleasing heart-warmer—perfect for reading by yourself, or sharing with someone you love.

First line: From time to time, I bother to notice them. Tourists.

Page 56: They kept pointing out that Tumble's room had a view of the woods, and the she could decorate it herself.
     "Posters of maximal Star everywhere if you want! he mother had offered.
     Considering her mother's feelings about Maximal Star, it was proof that she knew just how thoroughly she had ruined Tumble's life.

The Daily Booktalk: Fact Friday: How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb

How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb. 48 p. Seagrass Press, August 1, 2017. 9781633222465. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I'm always on the lookout for books about extreme weather partly because one of my science teachers has a big unit on it but also because it's fascinating. This book will fascinate, but it will also stimulate young scientists to question and, perhaps, generate possible solutions. In order to solve a problem one must understand it. Cobb unpacks the science behind hurricanes deftly explaining concepts of air and pressure and its interaction with water in a Q&A format. There are tons of great photos and diagrams to illustrate. Then she reviews the various ways scientists have sought to "harness a hurricane." As I was reading this section, I was reminded of a commercial from the early seventies for margarine. I can't remember which brand but the upshot was, "You can't fool Mother Nature!" She was fooled by the margarine, but she got her revenge. And then, I turn the page and find that the concluding chapter is entitled, "Should we mess with Mother Nature?" Cobb speaks to the difficulty meteorologists continue to have in forecasting a hurricane's path and intensity. When do we deploy expensive resources? And, as much damage as hurricanes cause, there are positive effects. Also, we must seriously consider the unintended consequences of our meddling. 

The glossary spans nearly three pages. The selected bibliography contains older titles written by respected informational authors. There's also a list of links to websites and videos made by the author.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: #tbt: Mick Harte was Here by Barbara Park

Mick Harte was Here by Barbara Park. 128 p. Random House, January, 1995. 9780679882039.

It's #tbt Summer Readers! The penultimate Thursday of summer vacay! I'm vacationing this week on LBI and that means lots of books, biking and yoga. I happened to be walking one of my dogs as I cast my thoughts about trying to come up with a suitable #tbt title. My house is on a long stretch of road that is not as busy as Long Beach Blvd and has a shoulder that lends itself to safe walking/ running/ biking. So there's lots of traffic that includes waves of bikers, from serious bikers all suited up with official biking shorts and riding complicated contraptions to helmeted families biking dutifully in a single file. Then there are the teenagers, most of whom ride without a helmet. And, bingo! I had my #tbt title.

Mick Harte was Here by Barbara Park was published by Random House in 1995. Mick's older sister, Phoebe narrates the story. She tells the reader right off the bat that her brother is dead and that she and her family are doing their best to cope with that grief. She loved her lively, prankster brother and reminisces about how much fun he was. But she's also a bit angry because her brother chose to ride his bike without a helmet and now he's dead. The story is short, subtle and a quietly powerful reminder to put a helmet on when riding (and skiing and skateboarding).

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: The Adventures of Henry Whiskers 1 & 2 by Gigi Priebe

The Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe. Illustrated by Daniel Duncan. 160 p. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, January, 2017. 9781481465748. (Finished paperback.)

The Long Way Home by Gigi Priebe. Illustrate by Daniel Duncan. The Adventures of Henry Whiskers #2. 160 p. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, August, 2017. 9781481465779. (Arc and finished ppb courtesy of Blue Slip Media)

Henry Whiskers lives in the storage bins of Queen Mary's Dollhouse with his family. Twenty-five generations of Whiskers have lived there. Henry's most favorite room in the house is the library, making him instantly endearing to this librarian. According to Whisker history, it was Prince George himself who installed the first Henry Whiskers in the dollhouse. Henry's mother has one hard and fast rule. That is not to be seen by any of the caretakers of the dollhouse. "If they find one of us, they will look for all of us." But other dangers lurk besides humans. There are rats and an evil cat. When Henry's little sister Isabelle goes missing. He must summon all his courage and set out with his cousin and best friend, Jeremy to find her. 

There's plenty of action, humor and suspense in these short chapters to keep newly fluent readers turning pages. Black and white cartoonish art depicts the mice in old-fashioned clothes and the automobiles are vintage. 

In Henry Whiskers' second adventure, he finds a mysterious map with an X on it. He wants to go exploring with Jeremy but they end up being caught in the kitchens of Windsor Castle and instead of being exterminated, they are dumped in a park some distance from the castle. Now, they need to find their way back. They encounter strange mice, one of whom knew Henry's father. Henry learns his father had an adventure outside the castle as well. He must deal with a storm at sea (a fountain) and a hungry bird of prey before making his way back with his best pal. 

Priebe keeps the action brisk and Duncan's spot art provides the visuals. This edition provides a photograph of the real dollhouse at the end of the book. This series is sure to intrigue newly fluent chapter book readers or would make for a fun elementary read aloud. 

The Daily Booktalk: Waiting on Wednesday: Astronaut, Aquanaut: how space science and sea science interact by Jennifer Swanson

Astronaut, Aquanaut: how space science and sea science interact by Jennifer Swanson. National Geographic, January 9, 2017.

Publisher synopsis: Journey from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the farthest humans have ventured into space and learn what it takes to explore the extremes. You might just be surprised by how similar the domains of ASTRONAUTS and AQUANAUTS really are.

Space and the ocean. If you don't think they go together, think again! Both deep-sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.

With a strong tie into STEM topics—such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas—readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.

Jennifer Swanson's books are always interesting, timely and accessible.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Teen Tuesday: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. 304 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August, 2011. 9781442403154.

You may be aware of Mary Shelley's gothic horror novel, Frankenstein, published in 1820. Canadian author Kenneth Oppel wondered what Victor Frankenstein was like as a teen. He wondered what happened in his youth that shaped his desire to create life out of "non-living matter" as an adult. Victor lives in a castle on the shore of Lake Geneva with his twin brother Kondrad and Elizabeth, their beautiful cousin. The three stumble upon a secret room in the castle and when Victor's father discovers this, he makes them promise never to go to it again. But Konrad falls ill and Victor is convinced that the secret to making him well lies in that room. This story is atmospheric and compelling. Readers with familiarity of Shelley's masterpiece will be tickled by the allusions and foreshadowing but knowledge of the story is not required. This Dark Endeavor is book one of a duology that concludes with Such Wicked Intent.

Kenneth Oppel visited our school in the fall of 2011 to talk about the writing of the novel. Note the original cover on the screen. We've got many of his novels in the library. Come on in and check them out. Here's a link to his website and here's a link to the book trailer that S&S created. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Daily Booktalk/ Review/ Guest Post for Middle Grade Monday! Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari

I am changing things up a bit on today's Middle Grade Monday to post a kind of three-in-one blog post. My Daily Booktalks are sort of mini-reviews of books I've either recently read or some older favorites. Here, I am sharing a longer review of Things That Surprise You, a fun middle grade book I received from Blue Slip Media. It releases tomorrow so, happy book birthday!

When I received an email from Barbara from Blue Slip asking if I'd be interested in hosting a guest post by the author, Jennifer Maschari, I thought it would be fun. Jennifer is also hosting a giveaway. Look for the link after the essay!

Jennifer's Guest Post: 
Finding a Friend in Middle Grade Books

We first met in Sunday School in kindergarten. We rode on the same bus. Even better, we lived just five minutes away from each other, though a busy road in between us meant we couldn’t ride our bikes to each other’s houses. 

We formed a sticker club (I still have my prized sticker book) in third grade. When we got a little older, we spent summer Saturdays riding the coasters and eating LaRosa’s pizza at Kings Island. We were partners in our middle school science lab and together, dissected an owl pellet. 

Teresa was my very best grade school friend. 

Teresa, my best grade school friend, and me, on our 8th grade trip to Washington, DC.

Whether it’s one true friend or several, having someone you can count on through the ups and downs, the big and small changes of middle school is special and important. I write a lot about friendship: great friendships, evolving friendships, new friendships. In my most recent middle grade novel, Things That Surprise You, the main character, Emily Murphy, and her best friend Hazel start to grow apart. This is so confusing for Emily. Can’t they go on as they always have – ordering their favorite pizza from the Slice and dressing up as the characters from a book series they both love? 

Emily’s language arts teacher, Ms. Arnold, has a fantastic classroom library. I bet she’d recommend some grade middle grade books featuring the joys and challenges of friendship to Emily. Here are three of my favorite: 

1. Nest by Esther Ehrlich – Set in Cape Cod in the 1970s, Chirp and Joey are neighbors who form an unlikely friendship, founded in their own family hardships and their love of the natural world. 

Because Emily’s going through her own hardships at home with her parents’ divorce and the challenges of her sister’s eating disorder, Emily would benefit from seeing how true friends, who really understand you, can help you get through tough times. 

2. The BFF Bucket List by Dee Romito – Ella and Skyler are looking forward to going to high school together but find their friendship is growing apart. Ella comes up with a bucket list full of fun items they can do together - like committing random acts of kindness or hosting a dinner party - that will hopefully bring them closer. 

This is a perfect book to show Emily that old friendships change and evolve and new friendships can form and grow. It will give Emily some much needed hope!

3. The Someday Suitcase by Corey Ann Haydu – Clover and Danny are the very best of friends. In fact, science-loving Clover believes they are symbiotic, meaning that they need each other to survive. When Danny gets sick, Clover needs to figure out how to balance being both a good friend to Danny and a good friend to herself. In The Someday Suitcase, Clover opens herself up to new friendships with fellow classmates. 

This would be good for Emily to see as a model as she forges her own new friendships. 

The waters of middle school can be tough to navigate, but some great real life friends (and a few fictional ones!) can bring joy, understanding, and comfort to the journey. 


Thank you Jennifer! I've read Nest, but will have to check out the other two titles. Here's a link to Jennifer's colorful website, a handy curriculum guide and a giveaway entry! Students, please check with your parents first before entering!


Things That Surprise You by Jennifer Maschari. 278 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers, August 22, 2017. 978006243928. (Review from arc courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Summer is ending and middle school looms. Emily Murphy can/ cannot wait. She's definitely anxious about it. What she can't wait for is the release of the next Unicorn Chronicles book. She and best bud, Hazel are mega-fans. They love to dress up in costume and get in line on release day. But when Hazel shows up at Emily's house, she not only doesn't have a costume but she's sporting blond streaks in her light brown hair and Very Berry lip gloss on her lips. What's more, Hazel gets impatient when Emily talks to a boy in a terrific costume at the bookstore. Turns out, the boy is known as Soap Boy and Hazel informs Emily that she shouldn't be seen associating with the likes of him. Then, when they head to the pizza joint, Hazel suddenly doesn't want to share their usual pizza and opts instead for a veggie pizza and water. When Hazel's field hockey friends stop by the pizza place, she invites them without asking Emily. Emily feels and is made to feel out of place and is left unsure about her friendship with Hazel.

Emily's dealing with stuff at home. She and her mother are still processing her mom's divorce. Her father and stepmother moved to a new house where Emily does not feel at home despite her stepmother's invitations to make her room her own. Additionally, her beloved older sister Mina has been in an in-patient treatment facility for an eating disorder. Emily has no idea how to feel about that because while she loves Mina, the drama of her disease takes center stage and Emily is expected to deal with her own problems. She's furious and then feels guilty for her fury. 

Childhood friendships come and go, wax and wane but the effects of this seem intensified in middle school. These years are filled with such flux, emotionally and physically. Some kids hit puberty early, bewildering shifts in social hierarchies leave some behind. Emily clearly doesn't get the new code and finds herself constantly saying and doing the wrong things much to Hazel's chagrin and to the mean delight of Hazel's new friends.

Maschari depicts middle school and tween interactions realistically with dialogue that sounds authentic. Emily's first-person narrative is honest and endearing. The adults in Emily's life are imperfect but loving. Her relationship with Mina has changed and Mina's relationship with food will be an ongoing concern. After a few mis-steps, Emily finds friendship with Hector and his sister. Readers will root for and relate to Emily. An author's note at the end informs readers about her choice to depict eating disorders from Emily's perspective. She cautions about how serious they are and recommends four web sites for further information about them.

Growing up is hard. A middle school library can't have too many books about friendship and change on its shelves. Things That Surprise You is a fine addition. Hand this to fans of Frances O'Roark Dowell's The Kind of Friends We Used to Be or Lauren Myracle's Winnie Years series. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

For review:

Streetcar to Justice: how Elizabeth Jennings won the right to ride in New York by Amy Hill Hearth. 138 p. Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, January 2, 2018. 9780062673602.

Publisher synopsis from back jacket of arc: One hundred years before Ros Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Elizabeth Jennings's refusal to leave a segregated streetcar in the Five Points neighborhood of manhattan set into motion a major court case in New York City. On her way to church one morning in July 1854, Elizabeth Jennings was refused a seat on a streetcar. When she took her seat anyway, she was bodily removed by the conductor and a nearby police officer and returned home bruised and injured. With the support of her family, the African American abolitionist community of New York, and Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Jennings took her case to court. Represented by a young lawyer named Chester A. Arthur (a future president of the United States) she was victorious, marking a major victory in the fight to desegregate New York City's public transportation.

I had the privilege of attending a preview at Quarto Publishing in Manhattan on Thursday. Director of Library Marketing, Michelle Bayuk and her colleague Daniel Tushaj presented a selection of upcoming titles from ten Quarto Children's imprints. There's lots to look forward to in the coming months and there will be a blog post on that soon.

These were in our bag:

50 Cities of the U.S.A. by Gabrielle Balkin. Illustrated by Sol Linero. Wide Eyed Editions, September 7, 2017. 9781847808707.

How Could We Harness a Hurricane? by Vicki Cobb. 48 p. Seagrass Press, August, 2017. 9781633222465.

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer. 20 p. words & pictures, March, 2017. 9781682971369.

Deep in the Woods: a folk tale by Christopher Corr. 32 p. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, April, 2017.

The Great Race: story of the Chinese zodiac by Christopher Corr. 32 p. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, January, 2018. 9781786030658.

And a grown-up title: Cooking with Nonna by Rosella Rago. 248 p. Race Point Publishing, March, 2017. 9781631062940

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Fact Friday: Beauty and the Beak by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp

Beauty and the Beak: how science, technology, and a 3D-printed beak rescued a Bald Eagle by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp. unpgd. Persnickety Press/ Cornell Lab Publishing Group, August 27, 2017. 9781943978281. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Fact Friday Summer Readers! Today, I'm featuring Beauty and the Beak: how science, technology, and a 3D-printed beak rescued a Bald Eagle by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp. This beautiful volume is really two books in one. First, a gorgeous photoessay about the birth of a female eaglet. The authors depict the life of an eaglet from the struggle to crack her egg through fledging and first migration. Really, so much can endanger the life of an eagle, including other eagles that might swoop in to capture hard-earned prey. With their sharp vision, strong talons, and vicious beaks, eagles are apex predators. Humans and their actions are the threat to eagles from habitat destruction to power lines to automobile accidents to poaching. It was a gunshot that tore most of this eagle's beak off. The eagle was starving when a police office discovered her and brought her to a wildlife center. It had no room for her but co-author and raptor biologist Jane Veltkamp did. She brought Beauty to her raptor center in Idaho and set about trying to figure out how to make a prosthetic beak for Beauty.

The second half of this book provides an update on Beauty, Bald Eagle symbolism, a note from Veltkamp,an additional five pages of information about eagles, information about it's status as no longer endangered, caution that eagles are still at risk, advice about how the reader can help, and resources, some of which include QR codes. 

This really is a must-read! High-interest topic, engagingly told, accompanied by stunning full-color photos and a beautifully designed book from covers through endpages.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: #tbt: Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. 496 p. Random House Children's Books, September, 2009. 9780385733977.

Since I've been all about Libba Bray these past two days, I picked her Printz Award winner for #tbt. Going Bovine was published in 2009. It is the story of Cameron Smith, sixteen-year-old slacker son of two Texas college professors and brother to a sister who is "perfect." Turns out Cameron has contracted Mad Cow Disease and will probably die. When a winged being named Dulcie appears in his hospital room and tells him that she can help him, he figures, "Why not?" and goes along for the road trip joining a video-gaming dwarf and a garden gnome who may be a Norse god. This madcap mother of all road trips loosely parallels Don Quixote with a nod to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy mixed in. Weighing in at close to 500 pages, it's long and rambling but so hilarious you don't notice. Teens looking for a satisfyingly challenge need look no further.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Waiting on Wednesday: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray. The Diviners #3. 560 p. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, October 3, 2017. 9780316126069.

Publisher synopsis: 
New York City.
Lights are bright.
Jazz is king.
Parties are wild.
And the dead are coming...

After battling a supernatural sleeping sickness that early claimed two of their own, the Diviners have had enough of lies. They're more determined than ever to uncover the mystery behind their extraordinary powers, even as they face off against an all-new terror. Out on Ward's Island, far from the city's bustle, sits a mental hospital haunted by the lost souls of people long forgotten--ghosts who have unusual and dangerous ties to the man in the stovepipe hat, also known as the King of Crows.

With terrible accounts of murder and possession flooding in from all over, and New York City on the verge of panic, the Diviners must band together and brave the sinister ghosts invading the asylum, a fight that will bring them fact-to-face with the King of Crows. But as the explosive secrets of the past come to light, loyalties and friendships will be tested, love will hang in the balance, and the Diviners will question all that they've ever known. All the while, malevolent forces gather from every corner in a battle for the very soul of a nation--a fight that could claim the Diviners themselves.

Heart-pounding action and terrifying moments will leave you breathless in the third book of the four-book Diviners series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray.

I am a huge fan of Bray. Really, read everything she writes including her blog. The Diviners series is a bit of a weighty commitment for most of my students but I've had a few advanced, sophisticated readers devour them. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Teen Tuesay: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray. 496 p. The Diviners #1. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September, 2012. 9780316224260.

Our Teen Tuesday features The Diviners by Libba Bray. It is the Roaring Twenties and Evie is the life of the parties in her boring Ohio town. She has this neat party trick where she can divine the secrets of someone by hold a personal object of theirs. When she drunkenly reveals a scandalous secret of a prominent bachelor, her parents ship her off to New York City to live with an uncle. Evie is initially thrilled because, well, New York! When she arrives, she discovers that her Uncle Will owns and curates a dusty museum devoted to the occult that is in danger of closing. NYC police detectives are trying to solve a series of grisly murders and enlist Will to help. Evie's talents are eventually required and she gets caught up in this paranormal investigation that is truly terrifying. This 496 page book is not for the faint of heart - the murders are grisly. But Bray's atmospheric novel introduces a colorful, memorable cast of characters and spectacularly evokes Jazz Age New York. Recommended for mature readers grade 8 and up.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Middle Grade Monday: Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

Cleopatra in Space: Target Practice by Mike Maihack. 176 p. Cleopatra in Space series #1. Scholastic, Inc. February, 2014. 9780545528436.

Happy Monday Summer Readers! Counting down the Mondays till school starts again! I recently read the second installment of the Cleopatra in Space series, Secret of the Time Tablets, by Mike Maihack and thought I'd highlight the first here. There are four books out so far of a planned five.

When tween-age Cleopatra finds herself transported into the distant future, she learns that there's a prophecy that she will be the savior of galaxy. Say what? When Cleopatra decides to ditch her tutor to explore some ruins with her best friend, she never expects to be transported to the future! Once there, she soon realizes that she cannot escape algebra even though she loves target practice with lasers - they are much cooler than her slingshot.

The art is zingy and there's plenty of action and humor in this space fantasy. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Daily Booktalk: Fact Friday: National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.: the most amazing sights, scenes & cool activities from coast to coast! 176 p. National Geographic Society, March, 2012. 9781426323140. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

It's Fact Friday folks! Today's feature is National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A: the most amazing sights, scens & cool activities from coast to coast. I can't remember what prompted me to search the BCCLS catalog for National Parks earlier this summer, but I sure am glad I found this gem of a guidebook. As with any Nat Geo publication, it is beautifully designed, contains spectacular full-color photographs and is very kid-friendly. It was published to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Services. President Theodore Roosevelt, aka The Conservation President wanted to preserve the beauty of wild places in the United States to ensure that generations of Americans could enjoy them. Roosevelt established 5 National Parks and 18 National Monuments before leaving office. Starting with Acadia National Park in Maine, readers will traverse the country, including Alaska and Hawai'i. Most of the parks get a four-page treatment, featuring maps, ranger tips, places for the best views, information about activities from relaxing to extreme and tidbits about the animals that make their homes in these protected place. But the National Parks Service is much more that wilderness preserves. Information about other National Parks Service preservation projects are scattered throughout the book, such as the USS Constitution in Boston, Ellis Island in New York, and the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The plentiful backmatter includes a list of National Park Properties by state or territory, a glossary, six websites for further information and an index. This guide is a wonderful way to learn about our national treasures, inspire road trips and, hopefully advocate for preservation.

I am purchasing this title for my own library as well as my school's library. While I have visited quite a few National Parks Service properties, the wilderness parks are places I'd like to explore some day.  

Friday Memes: We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

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

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson. 370 p. Dial Books/ Penguin Random House, August, 2017. 9781735227828.

Publisher synopsis: The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown. 

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared. 

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.

First line(s): Chapter 1 - That Day - Beth

We'd been studying on his couch, our Advance Chemistry textbooks sitting on the coffee table, suffering through questions about alkali metals and noble gases, when Donal made a joke about gas being ignoble. And I laughed, like I always did at his dumb jokes. And then our knees touch and our shoulders bump and suddenly we start kissing each other. Like, a real kiss, deep and forceful, sending gentle sparks up my back. I'm wondering how in the world this happened when my cell phone starts ringing.

Page 56: From Chapter 2 - The White Truck - Josh

She opens the door then, looks at me while I sit at my desk with my books. "Do you want to talk about it?she says. "I know it's a lot to take in."

"I've still got a lot of homework." I turn back to my book, but I know she's staring at me, like she's trying to see if I'm okay or if I'm going to break down and cry or something.