Sunday, September 30, 2018

Taking Stock - September

Oh golly! September already!

Total Books: 21/ 270
Total Posts: 28
Total Reviews: 13

Debut: 2/13
Audio: 7/ 64
Picture Books: 8/91

The Good: Still managed to review nine books!

The Bad: I fell a bit behind in my GR goal.

The List:
250. The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage (9/1)*
251. The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen (9/2)
252. Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the spirit of New Orleans (9/3)*
253. How Sweet the Sound: the story of Amazing Grace by Carole Boston Weatherford (9/3)
255. Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (9/4)
256. Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (9/5)
257. Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt (9/8)
258. Good Rosie! By Kate DiCamillo (9/8)
259. Joan Proctor, Dragon Doctor: the woman who loved reptiles by Patricia Valdez (9/9)
260. Nothing Stopped Sophie: the story of unshakable mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe (9/9)
261. Revenge of the Teacher’s Pet by Jennifer Ziegler (9/10)
262. Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (9/13)
263. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar (9/14)
264. Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry (9/17)*
265. From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon (9/23)
266. Who Says Women Can’t be Computer Programmers? By Tanya Lee Stone (9/23)
267. Bone Soup by Alyssa Satin Capucilli (9/23)
268. Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the first woman pilot by Matthew Clark Smith (9/23)
269. Fear by Bob Woodward (9/29)
270. Black Panther: the young prince by Ronald L. Smith (9/30)

Saturday, September 29, 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:

America Border Culture Dreamer: the young immigrant experience from A to Z by Wendy Ewald. 60 p. Little, Brown and Company, October 16, 2018. 9780316484954.

Publisher synopsis: First- and second-generation immigrants to the US from all around the world collaborate with renowned photographer Wendy Ewald to create a stunning, surprising catalog of their experiences from A to Z. 

In a unique collaboration with photographer and educator Wendy Ewald, eighteen immigrant teenagers create an alphabet defining their experiences in pictures and words. Wendy helped the teenagers pose for and design the photographs, interviewing them along the way about their own journeys and perspectives.

America Border Culture Dreamer presents Wendy and the students' poignant and powerful images and definitions along with their personal stories of change, hardship, and hope. Created in a collaboration with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, this book casts a new light on the crucial, under-heard voices of teenage immigrants themselves, making a vital contribution to the timely national conversation about immigration in America.

Purchased: Nothing! Another virtuous week!

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, September 28, 2018

Fact Friday: We will Not be Silent:

We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance Movement that defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman. 104 p. Clarion Books/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2016. 9780544223790. (Own)

This went on the morning announcements: Fact Friday features We Will Not be Silent: the White Rose Student Resistance movement that defied Hitler by Russell Freedman. This is the gripping true story of Hans Scholl and his sister, Sophie. Hans was a medical student and Sophie was a college student in 1943. Both were enthusiastic Hitler youth until they began to doubt Hitler and Nazi doctrine. Then they got to work organizing fellow students to produce anti-propaganda leaflets. Meticulously sourced and beautifully written, this story of resistance and courage is a must-read.

I reviewed it in 2016 here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

#tbt: Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes. 338 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, 2007. 

Five misfit students who don't know each other sit in detention when a jingle on the radio causes each to play or sing along. Their impromptu collaboration inspires them to form a band and this leads to friendship. Disney adapted the book to film in 2011 and a sequel, Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up was released in 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Picture Book Review: Bone Soup: a spooky, tasty tale by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Bone Soup: a spooky, tasty tale by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Illustrated by Tom Knight. unpgd. A Paula Wiseman Book/ Simon & Schuster, July, 2018. 97814811486088. (Review from finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Three hungry witches find that their cupboards are bare, save for one little bone one Halloween morning. Naggy Witch tosses the bone into their cauldron and suggests they go door to door soliciting additions to their "bone soup!" The village is filled with ghoulishly delightful inhabitants like a monster, a ghost and a werewolf, all of whom contribute ew-worthy additions like claws and worms and even toenails. As the hungry crowd grows impatient, the witches find they need a little help from a little monster and all is well when the bone soup is ready.

The rhythmic text occasionally floats and meanders in larger, playful fonts on the page, inviting participation. The palette, with ghoulish green, black, orange and purple predominating, adds to its Halloween appeal. The illustrations have a bit of a retro feel to them and feature the characters that are a nice mix of cartoonishly approachable and scary.

It's a pleasing variation of the Stone Soup tale and a nice addition to any collection. Bonus points for doing double-duty as a Halloween story. The ESL teacher has a "Stone Soup" unit and is delighted to add Bone Soup to it. An author's note and a recipe for the bone soup (with edible substitutions) are found on the final page. Visit the author's webpage to download a story time kit.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. 288 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins, January 8, 2018. 9780062563880.

Publisher synopsis: A hilarious new middle grade novel from beloved and bestselling author Gordan Korman about what happens when the worst class of kids in school is paired with the worst teacher—perfect for fans of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day.

The Unteachables are a notorious class of misfits, delinquents, and academic train wrecks. Like Aldo, with anger management issues; Parker, who can’t read; Kiana, who doesn’t even belong in the class—or any class; and Elaine (rhymes with pain). The Unteachables have been removed from the student body and isolated in room 117.

Their teacher is Mr. Zachary Kermit, the most burned-out teacher in all of Greenwich. He was once a rising star, but his career was shattered by a cheating scandal that still haunts him. After years of phoning it in, he is finally one year away from early retirement. But the superintendent has his own plans to torpedo that idea—and it involves assigning Mr. Kermit to the Unteachables.

The Unteachables never thought they’d find a teacher who had a worse attitude than they did. And Mr. Kermit never thought he would actually care about teaching again. Over the course of a school year, though, room 117 will experience mayhem, destruction—and maybe even a shot at redemption.

A new book by Korman is something to celebrate.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry. Unabridged downloaded audiobook. Read by Michael Crouch. 9 hours, 4 minutes. HarperAudio, August, 2018. (Review from downloadable audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Michael's father has broken his promise and he is furious. His rather emotionally distant father has a penchant for moving the family whenever there is a possibility of a raise or a promotion. He had promised there wouldn't be a move until Michael finished high school. Now, Michael, a devout atheist  finds himself, not only moving, but attending a Catholic high school. He's not into the school uniform, his stern principal, his teachers, most of whom are nuns or his classmates, many of whom come off as pious and judgmental He fears he is destined to sit alone at lunch until he hears Lucy engage Sister in a discourse about saints, feminism, and religious patriarchy. Intrigued and hoping to have found someone to sit with, Michael rather creepily follows Lucy until she turns and confronts him. Reluctantly, she invites him to sit together at lunch where she introduces him to her bestie, Avi, who is Jewish. Eventually, he is inducted into Heretics Anonymous, a secret society. The other two members are Max, a Korean American who is a bit obsessed with capes and may be autistic and Eden, a Wiccan. Has Michael found his people?

Boy, do I love a smart novel dealing with religion and belief! This debut is impressive from its catchy title, irresistible cover somewhat evocative of "grilled cheesus" from the second season of Glee, to the voice of its narrator, Michael. Michael's bitterness is palpable and understandable. While he's a bit self-absorbed, he's also inquisitive and intelligent. Every character is interesting, including the zealously devout, his father and his teachers. They are not one-dimensional cardboard figures. 

Fave narrator, Michael Crouch turns in another great performance. I've listened to enough audiobooks narrated by him to amend my early impression that he is a chameleon. That said, he sounds appropriately youthful, imbues his character, Michael with humor and paces his narrations well. 

Heretics Anonymous is so appealing. Hand to your thoughtful teens who enjoy laughing and want a smart romance. I am eager to read more from Katie Henry and hope the Morris Committee is reading.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Review: Revenge of the Teacher's Pets by Jennifer Ziegler

Revenge of the Teacher's Pets by Jennifer Ziegler. Brewster Triplets #4. 256 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2018. 9781338081236. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

The Brewster sisters are all set to start seventh grade with a splash until their schedules come and they discover that they have different schedules. The only class they have together is their elective and they are upset to find that they are in cheer instead of color guard. Seems that one of them were swayed by the snacks instead of devotion to color guard! They beg their principal to change their schedule but he suggests that it might be good for them to have differing schedules.

As with all the Brewster triplet books, the POV shifts between the painfully shy Darby, hyperactive Delaney and bossy Dawn as they negotiate middle school without being attached at the hip. Dawn's plans always seem to backfire and Darby and Delaney discover some new friends away from Dawn's constant direction.

It was such fun watching these girls grow up. This series is fun, frequently laugh-out-loud funny and oh so true in so many sisterly ways.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

FNG Review: Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. Unpgd. Little, Brown and Company, October 2, 2018. 978031643218. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher via SLJ Basecamp.)

There is a note to the reader on the front end-pages that explains the pronunciation of "Omu," (AH-moo) and the fact that it is the Igbo term for queen. Take a closer look at the collage of a neighborhood and you see that the story actually begins there. A ribbon wafts out of a window at the top floor of a building. The title page shows a white-haired lady toting shopping bags in front of a building where a black pot sits in a top floor window. 

Omu is making red stew. When she tastes it, she proclaims it the best she ever had. With the aroma of her stew drifting out the window, she goes to read a book while the stew simmers and thickens.

Someone knocks on the door. She opens it to find a little neighbor boy drawn by the delicious smell. She shares it with him. Once he is on his way, she returns to her book only to hear another knock at her door. It is a police officer. The stew is large, so she shares. And shares. And shares as one neighbor after another knocks.

At dinnertime, Omu finds her stew pot empty. But then there is another knock at her door.

This exuberant debut is sure to be a favorite read aloud. It's sort of a reverse Stone Soup. The crisp collages help propel the story of a generous soul. There's a lot to like here from the multicultural cast of neighbors to the small details in the collage work to the heartwarming story. Thank you, Omu! is not to be missed!

Saturday, September 22, 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:

Bone Soup: a spooky, tasty tale by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Illustrated by Tom Knight. unpgd. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, July, 2018. 9781481486088.

Publisher synopsis: Three little witches and a bunch of spooky characters come together to prepare a delicious batch of Bone Soup in this Halloween tale based on the beloved fable, Stone Soup. This just-scary-enough picture book comes with a recipe for Bone Soup—perfect for Halloween eating.

Trick-or-treat? Trick-or-treat!
We’ve something usually good to eat!

One Halloween morning three witches are looking for a tasty treat and they find only a small bone in their cupboard. So they decide to go from door to door in their village to find just the right ingredients for their Bone Soup. No one in the village is convinced that soup can be made from a bone, until the littlest monster reveals just what the special ingredient should be.

Purchased: Nothing! But I do have a few books in the shopping cart on Amazon b/c I have gift certificates to spend.

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, September 21, 2018

Fact Friday and review: The Great Penguin Rescue: saving the African penguins by Sandra Markle

The Great Penguin Rescue: saving the African penguins by Sandra Markle. 48 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, September, 2017. 9781512413151. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Did you know that there are penguin colonies off the coast of the African countries of Namibia and South Africa? Back in the 1800s, they numbered in the millions, but human interference such as harvesting eggs, overfishing, and disturbing nesting sites have driven their numbers down to less than 50,000. Fact Friday features The Great Penguin Rescue by Sandra Markle. 

Science writer Markle explains the plight of the African penguin in a beautifully designed book filled with plenty of gorgeous full-color photographs. She tugs at the reader's heartstrings with the story of a hungry chick awaiting her parents' return. Adult penguins return from the ocean to feed their young, but our little chick waits in vain. Another day and night go by before the chick wanders off. Sob!

Markle's strength as a science writer is her ability to make an emotional connection with the reader and then explain complicated science concepts in a straightforward, accessible manner. She also highlights the work of scientists and conservation volunteers. Lerner's strength is in designing beautiful backgrounds, colors and font that keep the reader engaged. There is at least one full-color photo on every page. All are well-captioned and support the text. There are also maps and charts to enhance understanding. 

Backmatter includes an author's note, a "Did You Know?" page, a timeline, source notes, a glossary, a list of three books and four websites for readers who want to learn more about African penguins. This book belongs in every school, public and science classroom library. 

A visit to Ms. Markle's website revealed the news that she has a new book releasing this January! Thanks for the heads up! 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

#tbt: Redwall by Brian Jacques

Redwall by Brian Jacques. Illustrated by Troy Howell. 351 p. Philomel Books, June, 1987. 9780399214240. (Own)

#tbt features Redwall by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes). Jacques wrote Redwall for the special friends he had been reading to at a school for the blind. He didn't like the books and wrote his own. Redwall is the first book in the Redwall series and was published in 1986. He wrote twenty two more until his death in 2011, with the last book being published posthumously.

Redwall is an abbey where animals live in peace. Young Matthias dreams of adventure. That comes in the form of Cluny the Scourge, a huge rat with a poisonous tail. He dreams of making Redwall Abbey his own. All the characters are animals and they all have their own curious dialect, making the reading a bit difficult. Hang in there. The books are satisfying reading, especially if you enjoy animal fantasy.

My family owns the tenth anniversary edition. I love the cover of this one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Deceiver's Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Deceiver's Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen. The Traitor's Game series #2. 384 p. Scholastic Inc., February 26, 2019. 9781338045413. 

Publisher synopsis: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller The Traitor's Game, Kestra Dallisor has finally gained possession of the Olden Blade. With the dagger in her control, she attempts to destroy the tyrannical Lord Endrick. But when Kestra fails, the king strips her of her memory, and leaves her weak and uncertain, bound to obey him. Heartbroken, Simon is desperate to return Kestra to the rebel she was, but refuses to use magic to heal her. With untrusting Coracks and Halderians threatening to capture and kill her, and war looming on the horizon, Kestra and Simon will have to learn to trust each other again if they have any hope of surviving. But can a heart once broken ever be healed?

I posted a review of The Traitor's Heart yesterday. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Traitor's Game series #1. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. 11 hours. Read by Jesse Vilinski and Michael Curran-Dorsano. Scholastic Audio, February, 2018. (Review from downloadable audio borrowed from public library.) 

Teen Tuesday features a new series by Jennifer Nielsen. Fans of The False Prince will enjoy The Traitor's Game. Sixteen-year-old Kestra has been summoned home to Highwyn by her father. She has been away for three years and wonders what her stern father wants. Her party is attacked by a band of Coracks, who hold Kestra's maid and beloved guard and mentor hostage. The ransom? They want her to find and recover the Olden Blade, a weapon with magical properties fabled to be the only weapon that can kill the immortal and evil Lord Endrick. 

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Kestra and Simon, one of her captors, who is a former servant with a grudge. This court intrigue fantasy is pretty violent and betrayal and plot twists abound leaving readers to anticipate the next installment. While no new ground is broken here, the quick pace and suspense will have appeal for readers who like their fantasy fast and furious. 

The world-building was a bit vague. The narrators were both new to me. Jesse Vilinsky's clipped, no-nonsense, almost monotone delivery had initial appeal, but soon wore thin. Curran-Dorsano's delivery had more emotion. I am definitely on board for the sequel; but will probably opt to read with my eyes. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshini Chokshi

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshini Chokshi. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. Read by Soneela Nankani. 10 hours, 23 minutes. Listening Library, March, 2018. (Review of book borrowed from local e-library.)

Middle Grade Monday features Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. This is the beginning of the Pandava series and is the author's middle grade debut. Twelve-year-old Aru lives with her archaeologist mom in an apartment in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art. All of her classmates are wealthy and go on expensive vacation so Aru has taken to lying about her life to fit in. When three classmates come to her apartment to catch her in a lie, they dare her to touch the Lamp of Bharata, a lamp that her mother warned her to NEVER touch. Uh-oh!

With her friends and mother frozen in time and the Sleeper released, it is up to Aru to find the reincarnations of the Pandava princes and travel through the kindgom of death to save civilization. Fans of Rick Riordan, Sarwat Chadda and Sayantani DasGupta will enjoy this fast-paced adventure. I read this one with my ears and enjoyed new-to-me narrator, Soneela Nankani's performance. She had a nice range of voices for the characters and paced the reading well. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fact Friday: Between the Lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace

Between the Lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. unpgd. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, January, 2018. 9781481443876. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Happy Friday TMS Readers! Our second week is in the books. I'm seeing some of you in the library asking for books. I've heard about the amazing book tastings in your LA classes. Keep it up!

Fact Friday features Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace and illustrated by the incomparable Bryan Collier. Ernie Barnes grew up poor in the segregated south in the 1940s and 50s. As a boy, he drew on anything he could get his hands on, including mud. He thrived in his art classes and wanted to be an artist. He visited an art museum on a field trip and asked the docent if there was any art made by people of color and was told, "Your people don't express themselves that way." When he hit high school, his size impressed the football coach, who asked Ernie to join the team. Ernie had no interest in sports but the coach was undeterred and visited Ernie's mother. Ernie was on the team. And he was good. Good enough to earn a college scholarship to study art. He was good in college football too. Good enough to be drafted by a professional football team - the Colts. He played but he also drew and painted. The title, Between the Lines has several meanings, don't you think? 

Bryan Collier's collage art is just gorgeous. With watercolor and deep, rich colors, Collier develops a strong visual sense of who Barnes was. He also incorporated Barnes' art style. Backmatter includes notes from both the author and the illustrator as well as photos of Ernie Barnes and his art. 

This well-told picture book biography is a must for most collections. I am so happy to be adding it to my sixth grade picture book biography unit.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blog Tour and Arc Review: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage. 360 p. A Mo & Dale Mystery #4. Kathy Dawson Books/ Penguin Young Readers, September 11, 2018. 9780803739628. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

If ever there was a series I never wanted to end, it is this one. Mo and Dale reside in my heart next to Moose Flanagan, Heidi It and only one or two other characters. A visit to Tupelo Landing makes all right in this crazy world. Indeed, the town is very nearly a character! It is a place kind of frozen in time. A place where everyone knows everyone. If one were to sneeze at one end of town, another would say, "Bless you!" on the other end. A place where kids ride their bikes and leave them unlocked in driveways and against fences. 

The Law of Finders Keepers can stand alone. But if you have not read the three earlier books in the Mo & Dale Mystery series, you are missing out. 

Sixth graders Mo LoBeau and her partners, Dale and Harm are the Desperado Detectives. Mo continues to search for her "Upstream Mother" and writes letters to her faithfully. The Desperado's newest case arrives when snow and a treasure hunter named Gabriel Archer blow into town. It seems that Tupelo Landing and the dastardly pirate, Blackbeard have history. It may just be that Blackbeard buried his lost treasure in Tupelo Landing. Everyone's going treasure hunt crazy and it's bringing out the worst in some residents. Crimes are being committed. Mo is also dealing with some new clues in her search for "Upstream Mother" on top of it all.

Turnage's storytelling is masterful as she juggles her large, eccentric and colorful cast of characters. I feel like I could amble into Miss Lana's cafe, grab a seat at the counter and recognize everyone who walks in the door! The rich dialogue is at turns amusing and dramatic as clues and suspense mount. I just adore the friendship between Mo and Dale and Harm. Dale just cracks me up and I admire how Mo and Harm gently help him. I am curious about the adults they will grow up to be. 

So readers, sadly, it is over. We bid goodbye to Tupelo Landing with a tear or two and many laughs. The Law of Finders Keepers is a perfect conclusion to an absolutely must-read series. 

#tbt: Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña

Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña. 288 p. Random House Children's Books, September, 2005. 9780385902588. (Own)

#tbt features Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña. This was de la Peña's debut and was published in 2005. Ball Don't Lie is a gritty, intense story that takes place over twenty-four hours. Sticky is a seventeen-year-old basketball phenom; but he has had a tough life since being removed from his prostitute mother's home ten years earlier. He has moved from foster home to foster home, none being much better than the situation he was removed from. His real home, the only place he feels safe and comfortable is at the Lincoln Park basketball court where he can ball and trash talk the other players. Basketball is his thing and perhaps his ticket out. Can he manage his OCD and the demons from his past to earn himself a basketball scholarship? If you are a teen who loves basketball, you should not miss this book. Don't love basketball? Give it a try if you like intense, emotional reads.

Matt de la Peña went on to write three more YA novels set in urban settings, Mexican White Boy, We were Here, and I will Save You. He then wrote a book in the Infinity Ring series, a survival trilogy and a number of picture books, one of which, The Last Stop on Market Street, won the Newbery Medal!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Pigeon Has to go to School by Mo Willems

Pigeon Has to go to School by Mo Willems. unpagd. Disney/ Hyperion Books for Children, July 16, 2019. 

Publisher synopsis: Why does the Pigeon have to go to school? He already knows everything! And what if he doesn't like it? What if the teacher doesn't like him? What if he learns TOO MUCH!?!

Ask not for whom the school bell rings; it rings for the Pigeon!

Oh my! A new Pigeon book! Yippee! Cannot wait! #nevertoooldforpicturebooks!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Teen Tuesday: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Teen Tuesday features To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. This is the first book of a trilogy of the same name. It was published in 2014 and Netflix recently released a movie. It is the story of Lara Jean Covey, her sisters and her non-existent love life, which becomes very interesting when five letters she had written to previous crushes get delivered. It's often laugh out loud funny. Of course, the cover was changed when the movie came out. I've shown both below. if you're in the mood for a fun romance, check out To All the Boys I've Loved Before. This has been an eighth grade favorite since it pubbed.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt

Speechless by Adam P. Schmitt. 304 p. Candlewick Press, November 6, 2018. 9781536200928. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Monday TMS Readers! Middle Grade Monday features one of the oddest, but most unique and intense debuts I have ever read. In Speechless, our narrator, Jimmy is attending his first wake and funeral. He's uncomfortable because he's wearing last year's suit with a waistband so tight he fears the button will not hold and he can't find his only belt. He's uncomfortable because funeral rituals are strange and sometimes scary. He is uncomfortable and terrified because his mother has just told him that he has to deliver the eulogy. 

You see, the wake and funeral are for his cousin, Patrick.  Jimmy petrified of public speaking; but that's not the only reason why he does not want to speak at Patrick's funeral. He couldn't stand Patrick. They were constantly thrown together because their moms are twins and very close. Jimmy and Patrick were not. Something was wrong with Patrick and none of the adults around him could do much to control him. Time spent with Patrick meant Jimmy's day would be ruined - by getting hurt, by having something stolen or ruined or by one of Jimmy's famous meltdowns. How can he speak honestly at Patrick's funeral? 

The story takes place in about twenty-four hours at the funeral home and at the church; but much of the story consists of flashbacks as Jimmy considers his highly dysfunctional extended family. Jimmy wants to do the right thing but wonders what that is. Does he get up there and lie about what a great kid Patrick was or tell the truth? 

Speechless is not for everyone. It's layered and sophisticated and while there are humorous moments to lighten the mood, there is tragedy in this story and it's not just because a young person has died. I am a bit stumped as to what sort of reader I would recommend it to; not because it isn't superb but because of all the emotions it evoked in me. I am having a hard time envisioning how a young reader would engage with it. As I got to know Jimmy, my rage at his parents grew and grew. First, that they would even just bring their son to his first wake and funeral without preparing him for what would happen and then the expectation that he would, in less than twenty-four hours come up with a eulogy - without the least amount of parental support or guidance! Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they did nothing to protect Jimmy from Patrick.

Schmitt's portrayal of this dysfunctional, co-dependent family is masterful. Jimmy is a sympathetic character that readers will want to protect. I hope Speechless finds its readers and am looking forward to reading more from Adam P. Schmitt. Impressive debut. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Picture Book Review: Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo

Good Rosie! by Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September 4, 2018. 9780763689797. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

First things first, I am a sucker for a dog story. Especially if the dog doesn't die. But, it's not a deal breaker if it does. Second, I think Kate DiCamillo is a brave author who is unafraid to take risks and experiment. 

Rosie is a good dog. She lives with George and has a nice life. But, truth be told, she is a bit lonely. Maybe George is too. When George takes a bit of initiative and takes Rosie to a dog park, she really doesn't know what to do! Even though she is lonely and would really want a friend, she is not sure what to do! This is all so strange!

When Maurice lumbers over, Rosie is not pleased. When Fifi yips over and tries to play, she ends up in Maurice's mouth and he shakes Fifi like his bunny. Not a good start. Maurice and George intervene. Phew!

My, my. This. Is.The. Best. Book! If you are a teacher looking for books about friendship, look no further. This is the book for you. There is not one wasted word and every illustration enhances those words. Making friends is an art form that not all master. Kate DiCamillo helps crystalize what it takes in a loving way

While it's a picture book, it's also an introduction to the graphic novel format. Bliss' watercolor illustrations perfectly portray Rosie's life - with George and with her newfound friends realistically and adorably. 

Make some time to share Rosie with your favorite child, your favorite class, or your favorite storytime group. Good Rosie is meant to be shared. Loved this so much!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Fact Friday: Bat Citizens: defending the ninjas of the night by Rob Laidlaw

Bat Citizens: defending the ninjas of the night by Rob Laidlaw. 48 p. Pajama Press Inc., May, 2018. 9781772780390. 

Fact Friday features Bat Citizens: defending the ninjas of the night by Rob Laidlaw. This expository non-fiction is jam-packed with photos and information about bats. This is the book for you if you're needing to do some research. The author discusses bat anatomy, bat habitats, bat diet and factors that endanger the bat population. This is also the book for you if you love bats and want to help in conservation efforts. The author highlights the work of many citizen scientists, all of whom are children and teens. He also lists fourteen ways all of us can help this important creature survive and thrive. 

Practical and positive, this book is bound to please, though some may find the layout cluttered. Some quibbles: a few of the photos are not the highest quality. In one, captioned as a butterfly bat, it is so cropped as to be useless as an identification tool. There are no source notes, bibliography or suggestions for further reading but there is a list of organizations and their websites.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

#tbt: No, David! by David Shannon

No, David! by David Shannon. unpgd. Blue Sky Press/ Scholastic Inc., September, 1998. 978590930024. (Own.)

Welcome back TMS Readers! This is going to be the best school year yet! In the spirit of #nevertoooldforpicturebooks, #tbt features No, David! by David Shannon. It has been 20 years since the irrepressible David appeared and tickled the funny bones of kids and adults alike. When David Shannon was five-years-old, he wrote a book about a little boy who broke all the rules. In 1997, grown-up David Shannon came across his book and wrote and illustrated a book about that little boy. No, David! was published in September of 1998 and went on to win a Caldecott Honor, a New York Times Best Illustrated Book award, was named a Notable book by the ALA and was a School Library Journal Best Book. It sure was a favorite at my house. There were nine more David books published over the years, with the tenth, Grow Up, David!, written from the POV of David's older brother. Grow Up, David! released in late August. I will review it either later today or tomorrow in its own post.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo

Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo. 352 p. Candlewick Press, March 5, 2019. 9780763693459.

Publisher synopsis: More trouble at school and at home — and the discovery of a missive from her late soldier sister — send Angie and a long-ago friend on an RV road trip across Ohio.

Sophomore year has just begun, and Angie is miserable. Her girlfriend, KC, has moved away; her good friend, Jake, is keeping his distance; and the resident bully has ramped up an increasingly vicious and targeted campaign to humiliate her. An over-the-top statue dedication planned for her sister, who died in Iraq, is almost too much to bear, and it doesn't help that her mother has placed a symbolic empty urn on their mantel. At the ceremony, a soldier hands Angie a final letter from her sister, including a list of places she wanted the two of them to visit when she got home from the war. With her mother threatening to send Angie to a “treatment center” and the situation at school becoming violent, Angie enlists the help of her estranged childhood friend, Jamboree. Along with a few other outsiders, they pack into an RV and head across the state on the road trip Angie's sister did not live to take. It might be just what Angie needs to find a way to let her sister go, and find herself in the process.

I absolutely adored Fat Angie, which was published in 2013, and cannot wait to visit with Angie again. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audio Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. Arc of a Scythe #2. Unabridged audiobook on one MP3 CD, hours, minutes. Read by Greg Tremblay. Brilliance Audio, April, 2018. 9781978614307. (Review from purchased audiobook.)

Happy Tuesday and first day of school for me, TMS Readers! Enjoy your lovely day off while we teachers prepare to welcome you back on Thursday! Teen Tuesday features Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. Thunderhead is book two in the Arc of a Scythe series and you definitely should read book one, Scythe, first. 

The series is set in the future when death and disease have been eradicated. Not only can one live several hundred years, but should one desire, he or she may "reset" their body to a younger age. Governments and most countries as we know it no longer exist. Crime is nearly non-existent. Life is good, if a bit boring. Everything is watched over and controlled by the Thunderhead. But the planet cannot support an unlimited population so Scythes are tasked with culling the population. Unlike the Thunderhead, Scythes are all too human, and being above the law, a faction has split off and seems to take pleasure in the killing. 

The series centers around two teens, Citra and Rowan as they are chosen to become scythe apprentices but eventually end up as political pawns. Neal Shusterman is a master worldbuilder and storyteller. He keeps the reader off-balance and guessing. The ending of Thunderhead will leave the reader panting for the next installment, The Toll, which as yet, has neither a cover nor an expected due date!

I read both books in this series with my ears and thoroughly enjoyed Greg Tremblay's narration. While his pacing occasionally lags, he manages to maintain distinct voices for the large cast of characters. I especially like that his female voices are not breathy caricatures that many male narrators tend toward.

If you are a science fiction fan, you should definitely check this series out as well as Neal Shusterman's Unwind Dystology!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Review: The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass

The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass. 240 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April, 2018. 9781419728822. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Labor Day Monday, TMS Readers. Well, Tomorrow is back to school for me. I had a wonderful summer filled with gardening, yoga, walks with my dogs, a bit of travel and lots of reading. I can't wait to see you all on Thursday! 

Middle Grade Monday features The Girl with More Than One Heart by Laura Geringer Bass. Life with a special needs brother sure is complicated for eighth grader Briana. It doesn't leave her mother with a lot of time or energy for Briana; but that is fine with her because she has her dad. He's her favorite parent and, she has a sneaking suspicion that she's his favorite. When he dies suddenly, it is Briana who discovers him slumped over his exercise bike. She also discovers the presence of a second heart right near her stomach. One that talks to her in her father's voice acting as her conscience and saying cryptic things such as, "Find her." As her mother slips into a grief-induced depression, care of her brother falls increasingly to Briana, leaving her no time to do anything for herself. Luckily, she has her grandpa Ben and his stories. 

This tender story of healing is perfect for readers who love sad books. The story flashes from past to present and back and the writing is lovely. Eighth grade drama is spot on, as is the heartbreak of grief on a young family. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

For review: I came home a day early from vacation and found these in my mailbox!

The Brambly Head Complete Collection by Jill Barklem. 248 p. HarperCollins Publisher, October 23, 2018. 978008282820.

Publisher synopsis: Celebrate the world of Brambly Hedge with this exquisite slipcased volume containing all eight well-loved, classic picture books plus a special introduction from the author.

The mice of Brambly Hedge made their first appearance in 1980 when the four seasonal stories were published. Ever since, readers have loved exploring the miniature world of the hedgerow and meeting the families that live there.

In this collection the mice have many adventures, but they always have time for fun and relaxation too. Whatever the season, and whether they are by the sea, in the High Hills, or simply at home by the fire, there is always someone ready to lend a helping hand.

Contains 8 complete stories: Spring Story, Summer Story, Autumn Story, Winter Story, Poppy’s Babies, Sea Story, The High Hills, The Secret Staircase.

The Person You Mean to Be by Dolly Chugh. 320 p. HarperCollins Publisher, September 4, 2018. 9780062692146.

Publisher synopsis: Many of us believe in equality, diversity, and inclusion. But how do we stand up for those values in our turbulent world? The Person You Mean to Be is the  smart, "semi-bold" person’s guide to fighting for what you believe in.

Dolly reveals the surprising causes of inequality, grounded in the "psychology of good people". Using her research findings in unconscious bias as well as work across psychology, sociology, economics, political science, and other disciplines, she offers practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality. Being the person we mean to be starts with a look at ourselves.

She argues that the only way to be on the right side of history is to be a good-ish— rather than good—person. Good-ish people are always growing. Second, she helps you find your "ordinary privilege"—the part of your everyday identity you take for granted, such as race for a white person, sexual orientation for a straight person, gender for a man, or education for a college graduate. This part of your identity may bring blind spots, but it is your best tool for influencing change. Third, Dolly introduces the psychological reasons that make it hard for us to see the bias in and around us. She leads you from willful ignorance to willful awareness. Finally, she guides you on how, when, and whom, to engage (and not engage) in your workplaces, homes, and communities. Her science-based approach is a method any of us can put to use in all parts of our life.

Whether you are a long-time activist or new to the fight, you can start from where you are. Through the compelling stories Dolly shares and the surprising science she reports, Dolly guides each of us closer to being the person we mean to be.

Purchased: I usually try to pop into local indies when I am away. The Bookworm is a sweet little shop in Surf City. I popped in with #3 son because he was looking for a book to read. I was tickled to see a dad and his two kids troop in, bike helmets in hand to pick up their reserved copies of Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas and the latest Bad Guys, which I have already read. I decided I couldn't wait for my school book order to read Dog Man.

Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey. Captain Underpants Dog Man series #5. 256 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc. August 28, 2018. 9780545935173. 

Publisher synopsis: When a new bunch of baddies bust up the town, Dog Man is called into action -- and this time he isn't alone. With a cute kitten and a remarkable robot by his side, our heroes must save the day by joining forces with an unlikely ally: Petey, the World's Most Evil Cat. But can the villainous Petey avoid vengeance and venture into virtue?

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.