Friday, March 30, 2018

Fact. Friday and Review: The Boos-BoosThat Changed the World: the true story about an accidental invention by

The Boo-Boos That Changed the World: the true story about an accidental invention (really) by Barry Wittenstein. Illustrated by Chris Hsu. unpgd. Charlesbridge, February, 2018. 9781580897457. (Review from finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Everybody loves a bandaid. There's something about it that evokes a feeling of comfort (at least for me). Maybe because the sight of one brings memories of running to mommy with a boo-boo and having her fuss and gently clean and dry it while cooing soothingly. I must admit, I love to smell bandaids. I also must admit that I have never wondered about the origin of the bandaid. This book is the answer to anyone who has. 

Early in the twentieth century, a newlywed couple began their lives together in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Not all was wedded bliss, however because the wife, Josephine was a klutz. She was constantly cutting herself and using kitchen rags to clean her many wounds. Her husband, Earle, being the son of a physician, and a cotton buyer for the Johnson & Johnson company, worried about infection in his accident-prone bride. So he wondered, and wondered and wondered about a solution until he had a "Eureka!" moment and set about putting his idea to use.

Wittenstein tells his story in a jaunty humorous tone, constantly "fooling" the reader with false exclamations of, "the end!" This should cause endless giggling at story-time. When the end finally, "really" comes, an author's note, and two timelines follow - one of Earle Dickson's life and the other of other inventions from the 1920s and 1930s. The author also provides the urls for six websites that interested readers can might find interesting. 

The design is pleasing, with bandaid tan the predominant color. The cartoonish art is expressive, especially the interactions between Earle and Josephine. Period details include jalopies, a milk man and the fashion of the time. This is the illustrator's debut and a fine one it is. 

The Boo-Boos That Changes the World is a picture book for any age. Add it to a unit on inventors or just read it aloud for the fun of it. Fun, fun, fun!

ETA: Almost forgot to post this link to resources from the author's website.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

#tbt: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. 392 p. Skulduggery Pleasant #1. HarperCollins Publishers, April, 2007. 9780061231155. (Own)

I was looking for an inspiration for today's post on Tuesday and panicking a bit. I usually have these posts planned at least a week ahead of time. For some reason, I had trouble coming up with an older title with a kick-ass heroine, what with this being Women's History Month and the loose theme for the Daily Book Talks. Then, I opened up my Junior Library Guild box with my April books and found this:

My problem was solved. A happy dance was had because I adore these books! The audiobooks are utterly fantastic but not widely available here in the U.S. (or weren't at the time after book 2), so I sent to the U.K. for them. I thought I had read the entire series but realize that there are ten! Whoops!

The booktalk: I will steal from the ad copy because that says it all: "She's twelve. He's dead. But together they're going to save the world." Inside, a New York Times blurb is quoted, "A debut that brings a much needed twist. The author just may have invented a new genre: the screwball fantasy." And, that is a perfect descriptor. 

Stephanie's uncle has died. He was a horror writer and not well-liked except by his niece, who inherited his house, much to the dismay of her parents. She notices a man in a trench coat at the burial. Turns out he knew and admired her uncle too. Turns out, her uncle had a secret. Most of his horror novels were not based on fiction. Stephanie has a job to do.

Hilariously funny while being quite scary and suspenseful, Skulduggery Pleasant was Landy's debut in 2007.

The series is getting a reboot here in the U.S. with cool new covers. It's too bad that the new editions are paperbacks, or I'd add the whole lot to my library's collection. We have a well-worn copy of the first book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: You Don't Know Everything Jilly P. by Alex Gino

You Don't Know Everything Jilly P. by Alex Gino. 240 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. September 25, 2018. 9780545956245. 

Publisher synopsis: Jilly thinks she's figured out how life works. But when her sister Emma is born Deaf, she realizes how much she still has to learn. 

A big fantasy reader, Jilly connects with another fan, Derek, who is a Deaf Black ASL user. She goes to Derek for advice but doesn't always know the best way to ask for it and makes some mistakes along the way. Jilly has to step back to learn to be an ally, a sister, and a friend, understanding that life works in different ways for different people, and that being open to change can make you change in the best possible ways.

The Nerdy Book Club hosted Gino's cover reveal awhile back. (I had a burst of blog scheduling and efficiancy!) You can read the essay here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Arc of a Scythe #1. 435 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, November, 2016. 9781442472426. (Own)

Teen Tuesday features Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Scythe is book one of a planned trilogy called The Arc of the Scythe that takes place in a future when disease has been eradicated and citizens can opt to undergo a procedure called resetting, to become younger looking. Individuals can theoretically live for centuries. Is that a good thing? To prevent the planet from rampant overpopulation, individuals called scythes are tasked with controlling the population by randomly gleaning people. But there's discord in the scythed with the "new guard" demanding changes that may endanger the general population. The very best sci-fi dystopian has a plausibility that is rooted in our dystopian present. Shusterman is a master of provocative dystopian science fiction. He creates fascinating characters and unbearable suspense with whip-smart writing.  This is a page-turner. While there is a resolution of sorts, the story is far from over and readers will pant for the next installment, Thunderhead. Some student fans have already read Thunderhead and are dying for book three. 

I read this one with my ears and highly recommend it that way as well.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mulally Hunt

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 288 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, May, 2012. 9780399256158. (Own)

Twelve-year-old Carly has a lot to be angry about. Her mother was brutally beaten by her step-father and hospitalized and Carly has been placed in foster care.  Carly can't remember everything that happened that night but somehow feels that she is to blame. She wants nothing to do with Mr. or Mrs Murphy or any of their many sons. But Mrs. Murphy is a really great mom and her rambunctious, loud sons really love her and each other. Readers will root for her as she slowly lets her defenses down and even makes a friend at school. One for the Murphys was Ms. Hunt's debut in 2012 (review here). She followed it up with Fish in a Tree in 2015. Both books are popular with my students, especially those who like sad books. 

Saturday, March 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:

The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland. Wings of Fire: the graphic novel series. Art by Mike Holmes. 218 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., January, 2018. 9780545942157.

Publisher synopsis: Not every dragonet wants a destiny ...

Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He's not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can't imagine not living with the other dragonets; they're his best friends.

So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny -- on their own terms.

The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.

I have not gotten around to reading this series, which is very popular with my students. They are going to fight over who gets to read this first.


Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan. Shadow Magic #1. 321 p. Disney/ Hyperion, April, 2016. 9781484732724.

Publisher synopsis: Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He never should have run away from home, leaving his mother and siblings to fend for themselves. Now he's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But on the terrible day her father, mother, and brother were killed, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan. 336 p. A Shadow Magic Novel  (Book #2) Disney/ Hyperion, April, 2017. 9781484737620.

Publisher synopsis: In Book 2 of a three book series, things are dire for the inhabitants of Castle Gloom and the surrounding villages. The undead are leaving their graves in droves, a troll army is on the march from the north, and people are mysteriously disappearing from their homes. The people of Gehenna are blaming their misfortunes on Lilith Shadow, their young queen. They believe she has cursed them by using magic, a practice forbidden to women. With her trusty executioner among the missing and her blackguard soldiers busy battling trolls, it is up to Lily and her friend Thorn to root out the real cause of all the trouble. Their search will uncover ugly truths and eventually lead to a nightmarish confrontation with nothing less than the rulership of the realm at stake. 

I learned of this series from a FB post by the author about the third book and wondered how this got by me.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker. 313 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007. 9780547076317. 

Publisher synopsis: “Look, Mick,” he said, “you’re going to find out from somebody in the gym, so you might as well find out from me. Those supplements you’re taking? They might get you a little bigger, but just a little. If you’re after serious results, there’s other stuff that produces better results much faster, stuff that a lot of guys in the gym use.” “What other stuff?” “You know what I’m talking about—gym candy.”

Runningback Mick Johnson has dreams: dreams of cutting back, finding the hole, breaking into the open, and running free with nothing but green grass ahead. He has dreams of winning and of being the best. But football is a cruel sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. It takes luck, too. One crazy bounce can turn a likely victory into sudden defeat. What elite athlete wouldn’t look for an edge? A way to make him bigger, stronger, faster?

This novel explores the dark corners of the heart of a young football player as he struggles for success under the always glaring—and often unforgiving—stadium lights.

I bought this for a student who's a ravenous reader, especially of sports fiction. I turned him onto Carl Deuker and he's read everything of his in the library. Somehow, my copy of Gym Candy walked. Love this kind of problem.

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner. unpgd. Schwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Childrens Books, December, 2017. 9781524772260.

Publisher synopsis: Celebrate the 2017 and 2018 Women's Marches with this charming and empowering picture book about a pink hat and the budding feminist who finds it.

"This simple and cheerful tale suggests, with not an ounce of preachiness, values of care and comfort and the support women have for each other across generations." —The Washington Post

Here is a clever story that follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and used as a cozy blanket for a new baby, then finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women's equality.

Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women's March, Andrew Joyner has given us a book that celebrates girls and women and equal rights for all!

With themes of empathy, equality, and solidarity, The Pink Hat is a timeless and timely story that will empower readers and promote strength in the diverse and active feminist community.

Can't remember how I learned of this one. How could I resist?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave your link and I will definitely visit and comment. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fact Friday and review: Bertha Takes a Drive by Jan Adkins

Bertha Takes a Drive: how the Benz automobile changed the world by Jan Adkins. Charlesbridge, October, 2017. 9781580896962. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I don't know about you, but when I think road trip, I think traveling hundreds, if not many hundreds of miles. Way back in the late 1880s, in the infancy of motorcar development, Bertha's big drive was a whopping sixty miles and that took most of the day.

In 1888 in Mannheim, Germany, Karl Benz invented a motorcar but both the kaiser and the church were against the idea and banned them. Bertha Benz decided to test drive her husband's invention despite the ban. She enlisted the aid of her two teen-age sons and drove to her mother's farm. Roads back then were dirt, winding and bumpy used by farmers to drive farm animals and ride horses. 

The motorcar broke down many times along the way but Bertha, rolled up her sleeves and did the needed repairs every time. Having worked at her husband's side during the development of the motorcar, Bertha was well-equipped to understand the nature of the breakdowns. As the world's first test driver, she also dealt with some unanticipated glitches in her husband's invention. She showed resilience and perseverance as well as some inventor ingenuity of her own when she unclogged the fuel line with a hat pin or fixed the burning brakes by installing shoe leather.

The engaging illustrations are filled with fun little details for eagle-eyed readers and are richly colored. I found it surprising to learn that they were done digitally. Backmatter consists of a timeline of the evolution of the automobile, schematic paintings of the engine and how it works and an author's note that also describes some of her research troubles. 

Bertha Takes a Drive would make for a fun read aloud and discussion. Give it to your car fans and your STEM teachers and display it during Women's History Month.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#tbt: Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade

Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade. 290 p. Wendy Lamb Books, October, 2006. 0385909454. (Own.)

After Canadian sixteen-year-old Edward Bathe's brother is killed in action at the German front during World War I, he lies about his age in order to enlist. Told in the first person as well as letters, Edward's plans to avenge his brother's death are derailed first by an injury while training horses, then by transfer to Palestine to fight the Turks. This is a war story but also a story of grief and loss as Edward struggles to maintain his sanity. Engrossing and fast-paced, this is great for fans of historical fiction and/ or war stories. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm. 240 p. Random House Children's Books, September 4, 2018. 9781524719814.

Publisher synopsis: Ellie's grandpa Melvin is a world-renowned scientist . . . in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy. His feet stink, and he eats everything in the refrigerator—and Ellie is so happy to have him around. Grandpa may not exactly fit in at middle school, but he certainly keeps things interesting. When he and Ellie team up for the county science fair, no one realizes just how groundbreaking their experiment will be. The formula for eternal youth may be within their reach! And when Ellie's cat, Jonas Salk, gets sick, the stakes become even higher. But is the key to eternal life really the key to happiness? Sometimes even the most careful experiments yield unexpected—and wonderful—results.

Found this out a few weeks ago when I read Holm's essay for The Nerdy Book Club blog. I just adore her - both Holm siblings actually, and their books are pretty popular at school.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. Shadowshaper Cipher series #1. 304 p. Scholastic Inc., 9780545591614. (Own)

Older made his YA debut with this series beginner set in Brooklyn, New York. Summer's coming and Sierra, our take-no-prisoners heroine looks forward to spending it painting a giant mural on the walls of an ugly high-rise in her neighborhood. She lives with her extended family, including a grandfather who is bedridden and non-communicative after a stroke. When he suddenly starts speaking, his words make no sense but he is definitely warning Sienna about the many murals around Brooklyn and the fact that they are fading. Turns out, Sienna descends from the Shadowshapers, artists who are able to channel friendly spirits into art. Evil, is infiltrating Brooklyn and it's up to Sienna and the remaining Shadowshapers to rise against it. Beautiful world-building and gripping suspense will leave readers eager for the next installment. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve. Fever Crumb series #1. 336 p. Scholastic Inc., April, 2010. 9780545207195. (Own.)

Our Middle Grade Monday feature is Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve. Book one of the Fever Crumb trilogy is set in an alternate universe (?) London or possibly a futuristic (?) London but is steampunk at its very best. Fever, an orphan, was adopted by Dr. Crumb, a scientist in the Order of Engineers. She was raised to think rationally, logically and scientifically and she's the only female member of the Order. As London comes under attack, Fever must leave the safety of the Order to work with an eccentric archaeologist. With vivid world-building and fascinating characters, readers who are drawn into Fever's world will not soon forget it. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fact Friday and Review: When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri

When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri. Illustrated by David Litchfield. 48 p. Candlewick Press, March 20, 2018. 9780763681746. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

There wasn't a lot of music in my house while I was growing up. First, there wasn't money for records and, with six kids making the noise of, well, six kids, the last thing my mom wanted was radio adding to the din. Actually, I'm not sure we owned one. My dad commuted into the city by bus and was a news hound so if we were in the car with him driving and the radio was on, it was tuned to news. All this made his coming home one night with a couple of albums by these two young dudes named Simon & Garfunkel notable to my eight-year-old self. Some friends of his had recommended them and he liked the songs well enough to buy some albums, dust off the record player and play and play and play them. So I ended up loving them. They had disbanded by the time I was old enough to go to concerts but I went to their reunion concert in Central Park. The very concert that opens this lovely biography.

When I featured this book on a Waiting on Wednesday morning announcement, my students were, "Simon and who?" And so, this book comes at a perfect time to introduce young music aficionados to these legends. They don't know that they know some of the duo's songs thanks to movies like Forrest Gump, Transformers, Watchmen, and The Muppet Movie, to name a few.

Old Friends is the first poem. In September of 1981, the duo reunited for a concert in New York's Central Park. Neri then travels back in time thirty years to the Queens neighborhood where the boys grew up. This poem is entitled, My Little Town. (I will admit to quietly singing and laughing that I remembered most of the words.)The free verse flows and is easy to follow. Each poem/ illustration is a double-page spread. The accompanying illustrations are just gorgeous. I was so surprised to learn that they were done digitally. They are rich in color and detail and have a folk art feel. The little details like reel-to-reel tape recorders and televisions in a cabinet may need some explaining to iPod toting, flat-screen viewing young readers.

This would make a great addition to any public, school or classroom library. I am so excited to be able to add it to my sixth grade picture book biography unit! Not only does it have terrific back-matter, which I instruct them to pay attention to, the unique free verse is very accessible. My creative students also have plenty of music and video sources to explore and incorporate into their final project, which is a podcast. Put the song titles together for a playlist to cue up on whatever you use for tunes and the stage is set to settle in and enjoy. Don't miss this!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

#tbt: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 208 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October, 1999. 9780374371524. (Own.)

Our Teen Tuesday feature is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Speak should probably be required reading for all eighth grade students as they leave middle school. It was Anderson's YA debut. It was a National Book Award Finalist and won a Printz Honor. It is a diary of sorts, narrated by Melinda Sordino. The book is divided into marking periods. Melinda starts her freshman year as an outcast because of what happened at a senior party during the summer. Yes, she did call the police but not to bust the party. She just can't bring herself to explain what happened. Instead, she has stopped speaking. The narrative is a bit fractured as Melinda struggles to confront her trauma, but gripping from page one. The story was recently turned into a graphic novel.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Review: Sparks! by Ian Boothby

Sparks! by Ian Boothby & Nina Matsumoto with color by David Dedrick. 190 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., February, 2018. 9781338029468. (Review from finished paperback courtesy of publisher.)

August is the brains and Charlie is the bravery behind "Sparks," the superdog who swoops in to rescue just about anyone and never stays behind for thanks or glory. That's because August and Charlie need to remain anonymous. Their survival depends upon it. That's why they are disguised as a dog. They aren't the only beings donning disguises. Remember that looks can be deceiving when you meet Princess.

If the lively cover doesn't grab you, the first line will, "I am a litter box and this is my story." It isn't a spoiler to say that August and Charlie have escaped from a lab with Litter Box, a robotic, well, litter box. August reprograms Litter Box and creates a safe house for the three. He can't bear to be outside and all Charlie wants to do, other than rescue people, is be outdoors. August refuses. Readers find out why thanks to Litter Box.

Buckle your seatbelt because this delightful adventure hits the ground running. The art is exuberant and energetic, and there are gags galore as the panels propel the reader headlong on a humorous and satisfying ride. My graphic novel fans are going to love this. I can't wait to share it and will need at least one more copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: Soof by Sarah Weeks

Soof by Sarah Weeks. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., October 8, 2018. 9780545846653.

Sarah Weeks posted the cover of her Soof arc on social media (FB & Twitter a few weeks ago). So excited for this as she's one of my favorite authors. Regular readers of this blog might recall that she visited my school this past fall. I read So B. It well before I started blogging but reviewed Pie for SLJ and reviewed Honey here.

Publisher synopsis: All her life, Aurora has heard stories about Heidi and all the good luck she brought Aurora's family. Aurora, though, doesn't feel very lucky. The kids at school think she's weird. And she's starting to think her mom thinks she's weird too. Especially compared to Heidi.

On the eve of a visit from Heidi, more bad luck hits Aurora's family. There's a fire in their attic, destroying a good part of their house. And, even worse, Aurora's beloved dog goes missing. Aurora and her family have always believed in soof--Heidi's mom's word for love. But sometimes even when soof is right there in front of you, you still need to find it-- and that's exactly what Aurora is going to do.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Curse of the Harvester by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom

Curse of the Harvester by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom. Art by Lucas Turnbloom. Color byGuy Major. Dream Jumper Book 2. 220 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc. October, 2017. 9780545826082. (Review of a finished paperback courtesy of publisher.)

It is best to have read the first book in this series because Curse of the Harvester begins with a creepy-weird sequence with several characters from the first book, Nightmare Escape. That book had a resolution of sorts, but with some unfinished business. I mentioned in my review of Nightmare Escape that the bad guys were truly terrifying. They continue to be here. 

Ben and Jake have gone into the dream jumping business and seem to be doing well. Ben becomes more sure of his ability with each jump and Jake monitors things from the waking world - until he falls asleep. Jake slips into the dream world and brings something back with him. I was tripping along fine until the boys woke up - at a pool party. Who sleeps at a pool party? For some reason, that bothered me. 

Perhaps I should've reread Nightmare Escape because I didn't always follow the pivots in the story. Fans won't notice though. Still, I'm eager for the next volume as this one's ending is ominous.

The art continues to impress with vivid, energetic colors and a nice mix of panel sizes. The villains spring to hideous life here, and this is not a book to give to any reader with a clown phobia. Give this to your readers who want horror. While not relentlessly scary, it is unnerving.

Teen Tuesday: Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. 116 p. Wording/ Boyd's Mills Press, October, 2008. 9781590785072. (Own)

This fictionalized biography in verse covers Billie Holiday's life from her birth, through her troubled childhood to age 25, when she cemented her stature as a premier interpreter and singer of jazz. Holiday's life was not easy. Weatherford does not sugarcoat it, but stops the novel at a high point in the singer's life. The accompanying illustrations are beautiful, sepia toned and compelling. Readers will want to pause to savor the portraits as well as the words. Cooper's subtractive art is a marvel.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Matylda Bright and Tender by Holly McGhee

Matylda, Bright and Tender by Holly McGhee. 210 p. Candlewick Press, March, 2017. 9780763689513. (Review from purchased finished copy.)

This impressive debut is perfect for fans of sad books like The Bridge to Terabithia. Sussie, short for Susquehanna, is our narrator and the Matylda of the title is the name of the leopard gecko pet she shares with her best-friend-since-kindergarten, Guy. Matyda resides in a tank in Sussie's room, but it's Guy she's most fond of. Matylda trusts him enough to crawl up his arm and hang out on his shoulder. Sussie admits to being a little jealous of that; but also of not feeling the fondness for their pet that Guy has. When the unthinkable happens, Sussie is devastated. She refuses to wear anything but the outfit she was wearing on that day and hopes that by taking the very best care of Matyda, she will keep her friend close to her. She's not only processing her grief but her guilt as well. As she does so, an new Sussie emerges, the stealing girl. Her parents are at a complete loss about how to comfort her. 

This is not only a book to give to your readers who like to cry but it's one to recommend as a read aloud as well.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

FNG Review: Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder

Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder. unpgd. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August, 2018. 9780735230491.

What would you do if you saw a loose string? Tug it, of course, especially when it is such an inviting red color. What would you do if it got stuck? Yank it until it gives, of course. What you do if you encountered a grumpy, big, old bear at the end of that beautiful yarn? He's grumpy because Lucy has unraveled his beautiful red knit pants. Will our irrepressible heroine make amends? Find out when this delightful book hits the shelves in August. 

Using just three colors, Roeder has created a disarming story about how our actions have consequences and how we should find a way to fix our mistakes. Rosy-cheeked, gap-toothed and spirited, Lucy just can't resist the bright, red string, delighting in the ever-growing snarl of yarn until she hears a real snarl and discovers that she is unraveling the sweater of a huge, very unhappy bear! Hank is not happy.

Brilliant cartoonists can convey such a range of emotion with a few simple lines. In one double-page spread Lucy's rosy cheeks turn into a pink face of embarassment while Hank's red face is clearly angry. The following spots show the shifts Lucy and Hank's emotion as remorse turns to resolve. When her attempts to cheer him up do not work, she decides one hilarious fix after another.

This is one begs to be read aloud again and again. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Fact Friday and Review: Marley Dias gets it done: and so can you! by Marley Dias

Marley Dias gets it done: and so can you! by Marley Dias. 200 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., January, 2018. 9781338136890. (Review of finished pbb courtesy of publisher.)

When Marley Dias was eleven, she lamented to her mother about the fact that all her class novel assignments were about white boys and their dogs or about dogs. She wondered where the girl main characters were, especially girls of color. Her mother challenged her to find them and helped her launch #1000blackgirlbooks. The hashtag went viral and gained the attention of other media, such as Ellen, who donated to the cause. Marley has raised money and collected over a thousand books featuring black girls. Her platform is the importance of seeing oneself reflected in the literature we read.

She recounts her story here, but says the purpose of the book is not all about her. She offers advice to teens who may have an interest in activism. They can find advice on starting their own grassroots movement here in easy to follow steps including staying on message, safety and relying on trusted adults. 

Her voice is an infectious combination of poised and sassy. She's a straight-A student who loves her fashion. The slim volume is loaded with pictures of Marley sporting a variety of outfits, hairstyles and specs as well as photo ops with celebrities at a variety of speaking engagements. Brilliant colors border most pages and some pages feature a colored background with white font. While this will be appealing to young eyes, these old ones had trouble reading white font on bright yellow. Backmatter includes a list of 500 of her 1000 titles curiously listed by author's first name. 

This is a timely, engaging, important addition to any library serving children and young adults. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#tbt: Good Enough by Paula Yoo

Good Enough by Paula Yoo. 336p. HarperTeen/ HarperCollins Publishers, February, 2008. 9780060790899. (Own.)

Patty's parents expect only one thing from her - to be a PKD, or Perfect Korean Daughter. In order to become a PKD, Patty must ace the SAT, get into either Harvard, Yale or Princeton, preferably all three, and she shouldn't talk to boys. Scoring less than a 2300 on the SAT and not earning first chair in the All-State Orchestra is simply not good enough for Patty's parents. Patty's feeling the stress but pretty much on board until she realizes that she won't win first chair and "Cute Trumpet Boy" moves to town and joins the orchestra. Hanging out with him is kind of fun even if he just wants friendship. And, maybe Patty would rather go to Juilliard instead of Harvard, Yale or Princeton. Patty's humor helps her cope and makes her an endearing narrator as readers root for her to follow her heart.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor

Learned about this from the author's blog (and also her FB page) a month ago.

Wonderland by Barbara O'Connor. 224 p. Farrar Straus & Giroux BYR, August 28, 2018. 9780374310608.

Publisher synopsis: MAVIS JEETER is fearless and bold, but she has never lived in one place long enough to have a real best friend. Her flighty mother has uprooted them again to another new home and taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Mavis wants this home to be permanent—which means finding herself a best friend.
ROSE TULLY is a worrier who feels like she doesn’t quite fit in with the other girls in her neighborhood. Her closest friend is Mr. Duffy, but he hasn’t been himself since his dog died. Rose may have to break a few of her mother’s many rules to help Mr. Duffy—and find someone who really understands her.
HENRY has run away from home, but he craves kindness and comfort—and doesn’t know where to look for them.
When Mavis and Rose hatch a scheme to find Mr. Duffy a new dog, their lives and Henry’s intersect—and they all come to find friendship in places they never expected.

I love Barbara O'Connor's books and can't wait to crack open a new one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Arc Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Orïsha Legacy Series #1. 600 p. Henry Holt and Company, March 6, 2018. 9781250170972. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Happy book birthday Tomi Adeyemi and Children of Blood and Bone!

This arc landed in my mailbox back in December but another very busy month would pass by before I could crack it. I fell in love with the cover immediately and the premise definitely intrigued. When I finally started it, I made it my "bedside stand book," meaning it was the book I read the last thing each night, one that I sip instead of devour. I needed to keep it on the bedside stand to savor the incredible world-building and lovely language but I definitely wanted to dive in and devour. And, I definitely want to reread this one with my ears to hear the proper pronunciation of the names and places.* 

I was unaware of the hype surrounding this debut. I'm glad I was since I usually have a knee-jerk reaction to hype. Believe it. Folks, this debut is impressive. The characters are brilliant and memorable. This world is immersive. I simply cannot wait to return to it.

Zélie Adebola remembers the night the magic disappeared from Orïsha, a fictional kingdom in Nigeria. That night all the adult maji were rounded up by the king's forces and massacred. Her own mother was beaten and hung from a tree, leaving behind a bereft husband, Zélie and her brother, Tzain. Marked with the white hair of a diviner, but having no magic, Zélie trains with Mama Agba to learn the art of combat. She's brash and headstrong and prone to getting in trouble with the guards whose usurious ways keep Zélie's family and village on the brink of survival.

She rashly decides to shelter a runaway noble and is stunned to discover that this trembling rich girl is none other that the king's daughter. Amani has fled the palace with a magic scroll and now she is hunted by her own father's army led by her brother, the prince and heir to the kingdom or Orïsha. Could this scroll be the key to awakening the magic? Zélie and her brother agree to protect Amani and the three set out to find an ancient temple to learn more about awakening the magic. They are doggedly pursues by Inan, who is hiding a terrible secret of his own.

It is no surprise that the book has already been optioned for a movie. This superb debut is sweeping and cinematic, featuring brilliantly flawed and complicated characters, brutal violence, betrayal and nail-biting suspense. This is a first-purchase for all teen collections. Give it to your patrons with stamina and maturity who love high fantasy and brilliant writing.

*I was thrilled to learn that the audiobook will release at the same time as the book and was narrated by the incredible Bahni Turpin. Can. Not. Wait. To. Reread. This. With. My. Ears!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin. 300 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons, April, 2016. 9780399173301. (Own)

I reviewed this as an arc here; but this is what went on the morning announcements today:

This one is a TMS favorite. If you like sad books, especially sad books with a side of funny, you should consider reading Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin. Thyme Owens' little brother has cancer and her whole family's life has been turned upside down. She wants what's best for him; but can't help but be a little miffed  about the family's move clear across the country so that Val can be part of a drug trial. She misses her grandmother and bff and doesn't want to make friends in New York City because she'll be back home soon.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Arc Review: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko. ATale from Alcatraz #4. 240 p. Random House Children's Books, May 8, 2018. 9781101938133. (Review from arc courtesy of author.)

Moose Flanagan is pumped. There are just a few days before the end of his eighth grade year, then it'll be summer and lazy days filled with baseball. He and his mainland pal might have an in with the high school baseball team. 

As usual though, there are complications. The warden asks to meet with him and requests that he "keep an eye" on his daughter, Piper, who is back from boarding school. Fans of this remarkable series know what trouble Piper can be. Of course, Moose agrees because he's Moose - ever polite and always counted on to do the right thing. 

Later, he learns that his acceptance on the baseball team hinges on proving he knows Al Capone. Though most of the team is willing for him to join, their ringleader seems bent on extortion - promising a place on the team for ever increasing costs, impossible to achieve souvenirs, like a photo with Capone. 

Natalie's seventeenth birthday is coming up and his mother seems super depressed about it. Moose doesn't understand why his mom insists on dressing Nat like a ten-year-old but he also can't wrap his head around the makeover Mrs. Trixie gives Natalie. Nat's been doing really well at school learning to do things like make eye contact and read emotions; but she still has that stubborn streak and meltdowns are always a threat.

Setting, plot and characters are a few elements that need to be well-honed for a story to be great. Author Choldenko nails all three in each of her tales from Alcatraz. The prison island springs to vivid life in her hands, even without the helpful photos and historical notes at the end of each book. 

Now let's talk characters. Since December of 2008, when I started keeping track, I have read roughly 3120 books. I've worked in school libraries since 1998, so a conservative total for the last twenty years would be a little over 6000 books. Of those, there are few books I would ever take the time to reread. Tales from Alcatraz are four of them.

There are even fewer characters who reside in my heart. Moose Flanagan was one of the first to take up residence and each Tale from Alcatraz cements his place more. Moose is the James Stewart of children's literature. His earnest first-person narrative brims with heart and humor. He wants to see the best in everyone and wants to do the right thing by those he loves. His father is his hero and his love for his sister is fierce and complicated. Through Moose's voice, all the characters on Alcatraz are fully developed, flawed and complicated. 

One might think that plot would suffer for all this character development. Not so. All the books in the series are tightly plotted but this one was a white-knuckle read for easily the last half of the book thanks to a prison strike, threatened riot and Nat's propensity to go missing. 

And there were tears, many tears.

The planned trilogy turned into a quartet and Al Capone Throws Me a Curve would make for a fine conclusion for the Flanagan family. But I can't help but hope that Moose isn't done with Gennifer yet.

ETA: I read Al Capone Shines Does My Shirts before I started blogging. Click here for my review of Al Capone Shines My Shoes and here for Al Capone Does My Homework. Click here for Chasing Secrets. The first book of Gennifer's that I read was Notes from a Liar and her Dog. I also read her mind-bender No Passengers Beyond This Point. While not all reviewed, all highly recommended.

Saturday, March 3, 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: Thanks to Penguin for these.

Lucy and the String by Vanessa Roeder. unpgd. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August, 2018. 9780735230491.

Publisher synopsis: A sweet and silly tale of unexpected friendship between a girl and the bear she finds at the end of a string.

When Lucy spots a string, she can't help but give it a yank, and before she knows it, she meets Hank! But this bear isn't quite sure what to make of Lucy, especially because the string is attached to his pants, and they're unraveling fast! 

Now Lucy must dream up the perfect solution to Hank's missing pants, and hopefully win this dubious bear's heart along the way. 

Vanessa Roeder's picture book debut is a heart-filled tale of curiosity, innovation, and finding friendship in unexpected places.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman. 258 p. Viking Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March 27, 2018. 9780425290774.

Publisher synopsis: Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be.
Told over the course of a single day from three different perspectives, Gayle Forman's newest novel about the power of friendship and being true to who you are is filled with the elegant prose that her fans have come to know and love.

She Loves You: yeah, yeah, yeah by Ann Hood. 262 p. Penguin Workshop/ Penguin Random House, June 26, 2018. 9780525625407.

Publisher synopsis: The year is 1966. The Vietnam War rages overseas, the Beatles have catapulted into stardom, and twelve-year-old Rhode Island native Trudy Mixer is not thrilled with life. Her best friend, Michelle, has decided to become a cheerleader, everyone at school is now calling her Gertrude (her hated real name), and the gem of her middle school career, the Beatles fan club, has dwindled down to only three other members—the least popular kids at school. And at home, her workaholic father has become even more distant.

Determined to regain her social status and prove herself to her father, Trudy looks toward the biggest thing happening worldwide: the Beatles. She is set on seeing their final world tour in Boston at the end of the summer—and meeting her beloved Paul McCartney. So on a hot August day, unknown to their families, Trudy and crew set off on their journey, each of them with soaring hopes for what lies ahead.

Bonus: I didn't get to grab the galley of this, but asked for it and was so surprised that it arrived in my mailbox on Friday. Thanks Matt!

Marcus Vega Doesn't Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya. 251 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, August 21, 2018. 9781101997260.

Publisher synopsis: Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you're only in the eighth grade, you're both a threat and a target.
After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus's mom decides it's time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don't remember or have never met. But Marcus can't focus knowing that his father—who walked out of their lives ten years ago—is somewhere on the island.

So begins Marcus's incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn't know if he'll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.

I absolutely adored Pablo Cartaya's debut, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora - so much so that I read it twice - once with my eyes and again with my ears. 


Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Unabridged audiobook on 2 MP3-CDs. 13 hours, 17 minutes. Read by Simone Missick. Scholastic on Brilliance Audio, September, 2015. 9781501250231.

Publisher synopsis: Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington, DC's elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart: A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus—something about her parents' top secret scientific work—something she shouldn't know.

The only one Bird can trust is Coffee, a quiet, outsider genius who deals drugs to their classmates and is a firm believer in conspiracy theories. And he believes in Bird. But as Bird and Coffee dig deeper into what really happened that night, Bird finds that she might know more than she remembers. And what she knows could unleash the biggest government scandal in US history.

Hooper by Geoff Herbach. 323 p. Katherine Tegan Books/ HarperCollins, February, 2018. 9800062453112.

Publisher synopsis: From Geoff Herbach, the critically acclaimed author of the Stupid Fast series, comes a compelling new YA novel about basketball, prejudice, privilege, and family, perfect for fans of Jordan Sonnenblick, Andrew Smith, and Matt de la Peña.

For Adam Reed, basketball is a passport. Adam’s basketball skills have taken him from an orphanage in Poland to a loving adoptive mother in Minnesota. When he’s tapped to play on a select AAU team along with some of the best players in the state, it just confirms that basketball is his ticket to the good life: to new friendships, to the girl of his dreams, to a better future.

But life is more complicated off the court. When an incident with the police threatens to break apart the bonds Adam’s finally formed after a lifetime of struggle, he must make an impossible choice between his new family and the sport that’s given him everything.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave your link and I will definitely visit and comment.