Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. Unabridged downloadable e-audiobook. ~7 hours. Read by Arielle DeLisle. Balzer + Bray/ HarperAudio, April, 2017. 9780062417886.

Angsty seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso has had twenty-seven crushes and exactly zero kisses. It didn't bother her that much until her gorgeous, fraternal twin sister, Cassie finds an equally gorgeous girlfriend named Mina. Now, Molly is worried that they will grow apart. It also doesn't help that Molly's crush number twenty-eight happens to be on Reid, her unapologetically dorky co-worker. Her sister dismisses Reid and instead insists that Molly try for Mina's best friend, Will. Drama much? 

The Upside of Unrequited is Albertalli's sophomore effort. It stands alone, but is set in the same neighborhood as her debut, Simon vs. the Homo sapiens agenda. I did a double-take when Simon makes a brief appearance. There's a lot to like here. The characters are fun. Molly's a tad angsty leading to an awful lot of repetitive obsessing that my teen self would've eaten up but my old self is so over. 

Newish-to-me narrator, DeLisle sounded appropriately youthful and paced her performance nicely. Mature teens will find the book highly relatable.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce

Image: Penguin Random House

Max and the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce. 282 p. Crown Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children's Books, January, 2019. 9781101931080. (Review of purchased copy.)

Max is apprenticed to an uncle who is an untalented bard. Max would rather be apprenticed to a knight but this is the Middle Ages (presumably) and children are destined to follow in the family line of work. When Uncle Budrick is captured by an evil king, Max gathers a posse of helpers interested in doing good and plans a rescue.

This humorous adventure moves apace and has a few cool surprises in store for readers. Fans of the author/ cartoonist won't be disappointed. 

Just last week, as I surveyed my collection of nearly destroyed Big Nate books, I wondered if Peirce had anything new. Low and behold, I missed this January release. More and more of my students are asking for graphic novel hybrids, so it's great to have something new to add to the shelf. If it's the beginning of a series, even better. Max and the Midknights should have wide appeal. Definitely worth adding to any school, public and classroom library.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

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 Echo Park Castaways by M.G. Hennessey. 200 p. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, July 2, 2019. 9780062427717.

Publisher synopsis: Nevaeh, Vic, and Mara are veterans of the Los Angeles foster care system. For over a year they’ve been staying with Mrs. K in Echo Park. Vic spends most of his time living in a dream world, Mara barely speaks, and Nevaeh is forced to act as a back-up parent. Though their situation isn’t ideal, it’s still their best home yet.

Then Child Protective Services places Quentin in the house, and everything is turned upside down. Nevaeh really can’t handle watching over anyone else, especially a boy on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, Quentin is having trouble adjusting and attempts to run away.

So when Vic realizes Quentin just wants to see his mom again, he plans an “epic quest” to reunite them. It could result in the foster siblings getting sent to different group homes. But isn’t family always worth the risk?

Purchased: Nothing!

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Fact Friday: Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera

Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera. 138 p. Candlewick Press, March, 2018. 978153620406. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Fact Friday features Jabberwalking by Juan Felipe Herrera. Using Louis Carroll as his muse, Herrera, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, exuberantly invites the reader/ budding poet to dive right in and write. Write anything! Just get it out onto the page first. Don't worry about spelling or even if your word is actually a word. His enthusiasm is infectious but his model ramblings are sometimes difficult to decipher. I can envision students either loving or hating this approach depending on their personal comfort with rules. Still, Herrera rocks the boat and it's an inviting approach. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Picture Book Review: A Place to Start a Family: poems about creatures that build by David L. Harrison

A Place to Start a Family: poems about creatures that build by David L. Harrison. Illustrated by Giles LaRoche. unpgd. Charlesbridge, January, 2018. 9781580897488.

I have been a terrible librarian. Not only has this lovely book been unreviewed since I read it back in January, but I have totally neglected to post any poetry books in honor of Poetry Month! Time to remedy the situation.

A Place to Start a Family promises rich cross-curricular use. I'm talking language arts, science and art. Twelve animals (plus one bonus) are highlighted and grouped by where on Earth they construct their abodes - builders underground, on land, in water and in air. The brief, rhyming poems capture the essence of the homes each animal builds and backmatter provides additional facts as well as suggestions for further reading.

The collage illustrations are so detailed and textured, my fingers itched to touch them. They invite pausing to pore over them, so take your time reading and sharing. 

#tbt: Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn

Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn. 224 p. HarperCollins Publishers, May, 2001. 9780060291990. (Own)

#tbt features Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn. This novel for teens was published in 2001. It is a dual narrative told by Nick, an affluent sophomore who is also a handsome athlete and Caitlin, the beautiful classmate who is in love with Nick - until he hits her. She files charges and Nick is assigned to write a journal, attend anger management classes and stay away from Caitlin. This honest portrayal of relationship abuse is not an easy read, but it's an important one.

The original cover is depicted above. I saw a pic of the new cover on the author's FB page a few weeks ago but haven't been able to find it on the publisher page or in bookstore websites.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Crossover (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander

The Crossover (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander. 224 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 24, 2019. 9781328575494.

Publisher synopsis: The Crossover is now a graphic novel!

"With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . . The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. ’Cuz tonight I’m delivering," raps twelve-year-old Josh Bell. Thanks to their dad, he and his twin brother, Jordan, are kings on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood—he's got mad beats, too, which help him find his rhythm when it’s all on the line.

See the Bell family in a whole new light through Dawud Anyabwile's dynamic illustrations as the brothers' winning season unfolds, and the world as they know it begins to change.

Basically, anything by Kwame Alexander is an auto-purchase for me. Quality + kid appeal = sound investment.

Picture Book Review: We are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

We are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant. You are not small series. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, May 1, 2019. 9781542044288. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publicist.)

Oh! The dress-up trunk! Such wonders and potential adventures it holds. Our two best pals are back and about to play dress-up when an interloper asks, "Can I play with you?" Such an innocuous question, so fraught with emotion. 

Triangles are so sturdy aren't they? Friendship triangles? Not so much. Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant present yet another gem. Fans of the Geisel Award winning, You are (Not) Small, That's (Not) Mine and I am (Not) Scared will not be disappointed. Big Bear (Brown Bear?) and Little Bear (Purple Bear?) are back and about to dig into the dress-up trunk when Blue Rabbit (Medium Rabbit?) changes the dynamic. How many friendship boats have been rocked with the very question, "Can I play with you?"  

I have much love for this wife/ husband dynamic duo. They tap into universal childhood dilemmas with a fine ear and eye. Young readers will inevitably see themselves in each scenario and learn to build empathy in the best possible way. Minimalist text, generous white space and telling expressions depict a childhood rite-of-passage in a gently humorous, non-judgmental way allowing young readers to draw their own conclusions.

The entire series belongs in every kind of library. I envision a boxed set that would be perfect baby gifts. Visit the author's website and/ or the illustrator's website for extra information about all their books!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Fatal Throne: the wives of Henry VIII tell all by M.T. Anderson, et al

Fatal Throne: the wives of Henry VIII tell all by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, Deborah Hopkinson. Unabridged audiobook on 10 compact discs, 12 hours, 25 minutes. Read by Justine Eyre, Katharine McEwan, Jayne Entwistle, Heather Wilds, Fiona Hardingham, Elizabeth Knowelden, Elliot Hill. Random House/ Listening Library, 2018. 9780525525738. (Review of audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features Fatal Throne: the wives of Henry VIII tell all by M.T. Anderson, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Lisa Ann Sandell, Jennifer Donnelly, Linda Sue Park, Deborah Hopkinson. Seven outstanding authors for teen readers collaborated on this intriguing novel about the six doomed wives of Henry VIII. The six wives of Henry VIII have unique stories and voices. Each are depicted with "interludes" from Henry's egocentric POV. 

While the audiobook is absolutely riveting, I did end up borrowing the book from my library in order to double-check dates and to keep track of all the historical figures. There's a handy cast of characters that includes descriptions and dates at the back. A timeline would've have been helpful.  Each queen has a unique voice and story. I am not sure a single author could've accomplished this. Nor a single narrator. Each narrator brought a unique voice and accents. 

Fatal Throne is highly recommended for thoughtful fans of historical fiction.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Review: Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal by Jeff Kinney

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal by Jeff Kinney. 218 p. Amulet/ Abrams, April, 2019. 97819740275. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Middle Grade Monday features Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal by Jeff Kinney. Greg Hefley's long-suffering best friend gets his own book but not the spotlight because of course, Greg is mad and jealous. He tries to convince Rowley to make his journal a biography of Greg. Rowley tries. He naively relates stories of memorable times he had at the hands of with his best pal. Fans of the series already know how long-suffering Rowley is. They won't be disappointed with this spin-off.

I've always had mixed emotions about this series. I knew from book one, this would be a hit with my students and am thrilled that they love the books literally to pieces. I love that students who identify as non-readers are faithful fans. I think that Kinney really nails middle school drama. I also think Greg is a bit of a, um, jerk. (That wasn't my initial word of choice.) That said, there are jerks in middle school, so kudos to Kinney for depicting them. Greg also seemed to mature a tad as the series went on. In this book, he's back in jerk-mode. Instead of thinking it humorous, I found it somehow sort of sad and was sadder still at Rowley's naiveté. But, I'm an old fart and the kids won't notice. They are reading! A win.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Picture Book Review: Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-up by Susan Middleton Elya

Maya Papaya and Her Amigos Play Dress-up by Susan Middleton Elya. Illustrated by Maria Mola. unpgd. Charlesbridge, October, 2018. 9781580898034. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Maya Papaya is not only adorable, she possesses a great sense of fashion and a vivid imagination. She also owns an awful lot of "stufties" and loves to dress them as well as her dog and cat up in a variety of outfits.

Stories in rhyme can be hit or miss. This one hits it out of the park seamlessly weaving Spanish words into jaunty rhymes that read aloud easily. Digitally created pastel illustrations depict Maya and her amigos in a variety of activities through the four seasons.

The Spanish words are italicized and can be easily decoded from text and illustrations. A glossary at the back provides a pronunciation guide as well as the proper use of "the," el, la, los and las. 

Maya Papaya and Amigos Play Dress-up belongs in any pre-school to lower elementary classroom or library. Besides its obvious value in helping young students acquire Spanish, it celebrates imaginary play, getting out in nature, weather and the seasons. Such a sweet, versatile book!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Picture Book Review: Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo

Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo. unpgd. Candlewick Studio/ Candlewick Press, September, 2018. 9781536201697. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I haven't had a fact hound roam my library stacks in a while. Don't get me wrong, I've got plenty of business with my fiction readers. I love my needers of readers advisory and also my browsers. But I haven't had an informational grazer yet this year. Magnificent Birds is the perfect book for a browser/ grazer. 

It's slightly oversized and a bit retro-looking. Each bird is truly magnificent in some way. Each gets a double-page spread so there's plenty of room to soak up the arresting linocut art and absorb the facts about each - which include scientific name and native habitat. My only quibble is the lack of backmatter for readers interested in sources and further reading. The author's bio says that she is a lifelong bird lover, as a BS in ecology and takes groups birding when not creating art. 

Magnificent Birds should be displayed prominently. Help it find its readers. 

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: nothing!

Purchased: Jeff Kinney visited a local indie last week to promote his new book. I purchased two, one for my school library and one to donate to Never Counted Out. I had hoped to possibly get personalization, but was fine without. What I didn't expect was ball point pen. I guess I'm used to signatures with Sharpies. It does make a difference. 

Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal by Jeff Kinney. 218 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 9, 2019. 9781419740275. 

Publisher synopsis: Get ready for a whole new look into Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid! Introducing the newest Wimpy Kid author—Rowley Jefferson! Rowley’s best friend Greg Heffley has been chronicling his middle-school years in thirteen Diary of a Wimpy Kid journals . . . and counting. But it’s finally time for readers to hear directly from Rowley in a journal of his own. In Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid, Rowley writes about his experiences and agrees to play the role of biographer for Greg along the way. (After all, one day Greg will be rich and famous, and everyone will want to know his life’s story.) But Rowley is a poor choice for the job, and his “biography” of Greg is a hilarious mess. Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal offers readers a new way to look at the Wimpy world—one fans won’t want to miss!

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Friday Memes: Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

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

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker. 314 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 21, 2019. 9780451479402. 

Publisher synopsis: The critically acclaimed author of Felix Yz crafts a bold, heartfelt story about a trans girl solving a cyber mystery and coming into her own.

Zenobia July is starting a new life. She used to live in Arizona with her father; now she's in Maine with her aunts. She used to spend most of her time behind a computer screen, improving her impressive coding and hacking skills; now she's coming out of her shell and discovering a community of friends at Monarch Middle School. People used to tell her she was a boy; now she's able to live openly as the girl she always knew she was.

When someone anonymously posts hateful memes on her school's website, Zenobia knows she's the one with the abilities to solve the mystery, all while wrestling with the challenges of a new school, a new family, and coming to grips with presenting her true gender for the first time. Timely and touching, Zenobia July is, at its heart, a story about finding home.

First Line: She had that new kid look. Anyone paying attention could have seen it. In the flinchiness of her shoulders. In the way her eyes skittered from fact to face as the other students streamed past.

Page 56: 
     "I hate all my clothes! You don't know anything about shopping!"
     "That's true. You're right about that."
    Zen scowled. Aunt Phil never said what Zen thought she was going to say. It flummoxed her utterly. She flailed her hands and said, "Oh, leave me alone. I'm going to my room."
     "Door's open. " Zen turned away. "But, one other thing." Zen turned back unwillingly. "We're in for a treat. Were going to have company for dinner."

I really enjoyed the author's debut, Felix Yz. I started this last night and almost stayed up all night to swallow it whole. 

Fact Friday: Rosa's Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie by Maryann Macdonald

Rosa's Animals: The Story of Rosa Bonheur and Her Painting Menagerie by Maryann McDonald. 64 p. Abrams, June, 2018.9781419728501. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Now, before I even begin to tell you about this biography, I ask you, how can you resist that cover? It is not a photograph but a painting so realistic, the lion looks ready to leap from the cover. Fantastic. The painter? Rosa Bonheur, who was born into an artistic household and who had the good fortune of having an open-minded father who not only encouraged her art but her education. She developed a love of animals and painting them early and it continued all of her life. Her studio was a veritable barn and is depicted in one of the many crisp photos of her artwork. 

The slightly oversized book is beautifully designed, with plenty of white space and well-captioned photos. The storytelling is brisk and engaging, though my one quibble has to do with the depiction of the artist's friendship with Buffalo Bill Cody. While fine historical context was provided earlier, there was little no mention of how exploitative Cody was of Native Americans. Plentiful backmatter is provided for budding artists to find out more. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

#tbt: Happy Belated Birthday to Beverly Cleary!

I do try to plan these daily booktalks a week or so in advance. Were I a better librarian, I would've remembered that April 12 is Beverly Cleary's birthday and last week's #tbt would've featured her. I'm not, so here's a belated happy 102 birthday to a children's literature legend! 

Cleary was a children's librarian before becoming a writer for children. Her first book, Henry Huggins was published in 1950. She won two Newbery Honors, in 1978 for Ramona and Her Father and in 1982 for Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1984 for Dear Mr. Henshaw. Her strength as a writer was her ability to depict the lives of children with gentle humor and utter respect. While I did enjoy the Ramona books, my favorites were the Henry Huggins books, especially Ribsy, which was published in 1964. This is the cover of the book I grew up reading:

Want to learn more about Beverly Cleary? Visit her website

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Anthem by Deborah Wiles

Anthem by Deborah Wiles. Sixties Trilogy #3. 544 p. Scholastic, September 3, 2019. 9780545106092.

Publisher synopsis: It's 1969.

Molly is a girl who's not sure she can feel anything anymore, because life sometimes hurts way too much. Her brother Barry ran away after having a fight with their father over the war in Vietnam. Now Barry's been drafted into that war - and Molly's mother tells her she has to travel across the country in an old school bus to find Barry and bring him home.

Norman is Molly's slightly older cousin, who drives the old school bus. He's a drummer who wants to find his own music out in the world - because then he might not be the "normal Norman" that he fears he's become. He's not sure about this trip across the country . . . but his own mother makes it clear he doesn't have a choice.

Molly and Norman get on the bus - and end up seeing a lot more of America that they'd ever imagined. From protests and parades to roaring races and rock n' roll, the cousins make their way to Barry in San Francisco, not really knowing what they'll find when they get there.

As she did in her other epic novels Countdown and Revolution, two-time National Book Award finalist Deborah Wiles takes the pulse of an era . . . and finds the multitude of heartbeats that lie beneath it.

I loved the first two books and absolutely adore the cover of this one!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Teen Tuesday and Audio Review: Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt

Angel Thieves by Kathi Appelt. Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs. 5 hours and 2 minutes. Read by Laurel Kathleen. Simon & Schuster Audio, March, 2019. 9781508276975. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

A new book by Kathi Appelt is basically an automatic purchase for me. Her books are always lyrical, complex and atmospheric. I also assumed she was solidly middle grade but learned my lesson here - make no assumptions. Read the reviews even if you love the author or read the book before cataloging. And, thank goodness I did that here. 

Angel Thieves is decidedly YA. The F-bomb is dropped (quite appropriately) in the first minutes of the story. Sixteen-year-old Cade Curtis and his dad are robbing a cemetery in the early hours of the morning. The angel is unwieldy and he receives a slash near his eye by a pricker bush. I'd say the same, but not at school and I try to keep books with mature themes and profanity in the YA section. 

Cade is the same age his father was when he was born. He was rejected by his mother who instructed his father to place the baby in a church or fire department. The boy did neither, choosing instead to raise the baby he named Cade, by himself. The two lucked into a job with an elderly woman who ran an antiques business and happened to have a garage apartment for them. She just had a few items they needed to procure from time to time to keep the business running - angels.

Though set in modern day Houston, it is not an Appelt story without shifts in time and non-human narrators. In Angel Thieves, the story travels back to the time when Texas was a republic and tells of Achsah, a slave who was to be freed upon her master's death, but whose daughters were bequeathed to another slaveowner. She refuses to leave without her daughters. She needs to find an angel in the dark before the hounds track her.

The Bayou is also a narrator. She has observed changes over the millennia dispassionately. She has a long memory. Especially of times when animals such as ocelots were plentiful. Now they are rare and Zorra, one of the last was recently poached and caged. She's dying though because her poacher has disappeared. Then there's Soliel Broussard, sixteen-year-old preacher's kid and classmate of Cade's. She sports a tattoo of a honey bear on her wrist and is intrigued by Cade.  

Any one of the threads that bind this story were compelling on their own. Surprisingly, they don't come together quite satisfactorily. The shifts in POV were frequent, sometimes jarring and often left unfinished business, such as Cade's mother's sudden appearance in his life at age six. Or, why Soliel so intensely bonded with the Bird family. I wanted to like the book more. 

The narration was competent. Perhaps the production might have been better served with multiple narrators. Laurel Kathleen's narration rarely changed accents or inflection, making the already difficult job of keeping events and characters in place, more so. Were I reading with my eyes, I could at least back up a few pages when I lost my strand. 

Hand Angel Thieves to patient teens who enjoy multiple POV stories or who were fans of the author's middle grade fiction when they were in middle school. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta. Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. Read by the author. ~10 hours. Scholastic Audio, February, 2019. 9781338330885. (Review of e-audio borrowed from public library.)

My favorite kick-ass New Jersey girl is back in another over-the-top adventure. Life in Parsippany, New Jersey is rather boring compared to Kiranmala's adventures in the Kingdom Beyond. She's a bit dismayed that her new friends don't seem interested in staying in touch. She does, however, have nightly visits by the Demon Queen who has warnings for Kiran but always gets cut off before she can reveal it. Soon, she finds herself sucked into playing an inter-dimensional reality game.

Buckle up folks. The non-stop action and humor will make your head spin in the best possible ways. 

I really enjoyed the outrageous fun of the first book and think I might have enjoyed the second installment more had I read with my eyes. While I appreciated the author's youthful sounding voice and proper pronunciation of all the characters's names, the foods and cultural references, her performance was annoyingly overdone with odd pauses and inflections that screamed, "Listen up, this is important!" The audio was over-acted. I'm sticking with reading with my eyes in future installments. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Picture Book Review: The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. unpgd. Versify/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2, 2019. 9781328780966. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Two of my absolute children's literature favorite talents got together and produced a masterpiece. This! This, folks needs to be read and shared. The words alone, originally performed for ESPN, are incredibly powerful. Combined with Kadir Nelson's portraits of African Americans famous and unknown, along with a stunning and moving use of white space, the poem's emotional impact increases exponentially.

I was privileged to hear it performed by the poet at Words last week, and to hear the artist state that while he has taken to only illustrating his own work, he made an exception for this poem. 

I teared up several times during Alexander's reading. I do so every time I reread it. I shared it with one of my classes and they all leaned in to listen. We took some time to identify some of the people in the portraits. Detailed backmatter will help with some less familiar faces and an author's note rounds out what should be a first-purchase for all libraries. 

The Undefeated is already on the NYT bestseller list. It's getting starred reviews all over the place. It doesn't need my stinky little blog review. But, man, how I loved this book. I purchased it with the intention of donating it to my school's library, but am keeping it for my own library. 

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:

We are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant. You are not small series. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, May 1, 2019. 9781542044288. 

Publisher synopsis: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.

I love these books and am tickled that there's a new one!

Purchased: Nothing!

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Fact Friday: Dogs at War: military canine heroes by Connie Goldsmith

Dogs at War: military canine heroes by Connie Goldsmith. 104 p. Twenty-first Century Books/ Lerner Publishing Group, January, 2017. 9781512410129. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Fact Friday features Dogs at War: military canine heroes by Connie Goldsmith. Astute listeners to the daily booktalk may remember a Fact Friday when the book featured was about Stubby, the war dog. Unfortunately, not all dogs working with the military achieve the honor that Stubby did. This book is an eye-opener. MWDs, or military working dogs were not always treated with the respect they deserved by the military brass. Though their handlers formed strong bonds. Goldsmith opens with a chapter featuring two dogs in two wars who received different treatment once their tour of duty was over. I challenge you to read this book without crying. We should all thank a soldier for their service and not forget that some of these soldiers are canines. 

Eminently readable, filled with photos and packed with useful backmatter, hand this gem to students who love dogs, budding military history buffs and anyone with a heart.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Picture Book Review: ¡Vamos! Let's Go to Market! by Raul the Third

¡Vamos! Let's  Go to Market! by Raul the Third. unpgd. Versify/ Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2, 2019. 9781328557261. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

When my sons were small, they absolutely adored Richard Scarry books. They were a bit tough to read aloud though. Thank goodness the boys preferred to lie on the floor and pore over the illustrations. They could be quietly occupied for some time. We had this oversized version of one of them that was also a board book, so it stood up to much manhandling (boyhandling) and many page-turns. This wonderfully nostalgic graphic novel picture book evoked these fond memories when I read it. 

Cheerful Little Lobo rises with energy and a smile, ready to get moving. He and his faithful doggie pal, Bernabé eat a hearty breakfast, grab their wood-slatted wagon and head out for their busy day at the market. I mean it when I say that there is something new to discover on every reading. I just read it for my third time and just noticed that Little Lobo and Bernabé have an unnamed roommate!

Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text and in the illustrations. The vibrant market comes to life with a sort of sherberty palette. The animal denizens are a diverse bunch and visual humor is infused throughout. This is one I could imagine my boys loving to pieces. This is one I'm gifting. I'm also recommending it to the Spanish teachers in the district. 

¡Vamos! Let's  Go to Market! belongs everywhere - pre-school to middle school (and I could make an argument for high school), Spanish classroom, art classroom, any classroom. Make sure to check it out.

#tbt: Flush by Carl Hiassen

Hoot by Carl Hiassen. 292 p. Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House Children's Books, September, 2002. 9780375821813. (Own)

Hoot was popular adult author, Carl Hiassen's children's debut. It published in 2002 and won a Newbery Honor in January of 2003. It is the story of Montana transplant, Roy Eberhardt, who isn't making a smooth transition to his small Florida town. He has incurred the wrath of the school bully but befriends a boy known as "Mullet Fingers" who regularly runs away from home. Mullet Fingers is sabotaging a construction site because a rare species of owl nests at the site. Hiassen's books are filled with humor and usually have an environmental theme. Hoot was adapted for film, which released in 2005.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi. 256 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, August 27, 2019. 9780399187353.

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it’s decided she’ll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.

Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace’s first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer's end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.

Ms. Zoboi makes her middle grade debut with this book and I can't wait to read this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Picture Book Review: Power Up: your incredible, spectacular, supercharged body by Seth Fishman

Power Up: your incredible, spectacular, supercharged body by Seth Fishman. Illustrated by Isabel Greenberg. unpgd. Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, March, 2019. 9780062455796. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publicist.)

The human body is a wondrous, amazing, complex machine. Seth Fishman explains it all for the younger set with superb storytelling. Of course he appeals to the ego by telling the reader that they are a brilliant shiny star. Most elementary (and even middle school) students have a hard time believing the world does not revolve around them. So by contemplating their little finger and imagining that there's enough energy to power a city? More please. And he delivers mind-boggling comparisons about the energy the human body makes and consumes in order to function and grow. Truly awe-inspiring. Sometimes, even older folks need a bit of reminding about how fascinating human anatomy and physiology is. 

As he did in A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, complex ideas are made accessible with simple, playful language. The appealing, colorful digital art by the same artist, adds to the fun and imaginings.

An Author's Note explains Einstein's E=MC² quite nicely but there is no other backmatter. Personally, I would've liked to have seen some sources and suggestions for further reading. Librarian's quibble.

These books are terrific additions to any library hoping to inspire budding scientists or just anyone who is curious about how the human body works. 

Teen Tuesday: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt

Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt. Once Upon a Crime Family series #1. Bloomsbury, May, 2016. 9781619638709.

Teen Tuesday features Hold Me Like a Breath by. This book is recommended by sixth grader, Emily! She asked if students are allowed to recommend books on the daily broadcast and I was thrilled to say yes!

She writes: It is terrifying, scary, and a great cliff-hanger. The book is about a girl named Penelope and she has a disease called Idiopathic thrombocytopenia which is a disease that causes easy bruising. A slight touch can cause severe bleeding and badly bruising. Penelope is part of a great crime industry. The people in the industry try to save people by transplanting organs. ILLEGALLY. Then, distaster sets in. This book will take you on a scary adventure with Penelope Landlow.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 276 p. Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 7, 2019. 9780399175152. (Review of arc courtesy of bookseller hosting author visit.)

Middle Grade Monday features Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Fans of the author's first two books, One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree will not be disappointed. Shouting at the Rain is set on Cape Cod. Delsie, lives on the Cape year-round with her grandmother. She wants to learn more about her mother, but Gran always changes the subject. Her best Cape friends are busy with a summer production of Annie and she's looking forward to the arrival of her best summer friend, Brandy. But Brandy has changed and the arrival of a new girl, Tressa makes Delsie feel like a third wheel. Then, there's the appearance of a mysterious boy who dresses all in black. Some say he's bad news but Delsie is intrigued.

Hunt excels at creating heartfelt characters. Delsie is compelling. Her ache over being parentless, especially missing her mother, is heartbreaking. She loves her grandmother and her neighbors are like an extended family, but she can't help wondering, missing and feeling it's her fault. The story nicely depicts the lives of year-round residents of beach resort towns - folks who love the place, brave it through hard winters and tolerate the summer invaders upon whom their livelihoods depend.

Hand to fans of the author's and readers who like gentle problem novels.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Belated Post: Kwame Alexander/ Versify/ Words Books

I don't know what it is about an event at Words in Maplewood. It always involves traffic. Last year, it involved rain and terrible traffic. Oh! And, the parking! It's terrible! But it's always worth it. I had made a mental note to trek there for the Versify Tour well before a FB Memory popped up in my timeline. A year ago, on April 3, 2019, I tolerated a truly horrendous experience on the Garden State Parkway to hear Kwame Alexander talk about and read from Rebound. 

Thursday evening, I dashed from my yoga nidra class to the GSP only to sit in stop-and-go traffic from exit 165!!! Yeah, it took over an hour to get to Words, and it wasn't raining. Once I got there, it too another fifteen minutes to find a parking space. Yikes! This town needs a few lots. Thankfully, the event started late. I did get a seat though. Here are the pix:

Introductions by the rather stressed-out and standoff-ish co-owner of the store. I know these things are stressful, but...
she could be a bit more welcoming and happy about turnout and such.

Kip Wilson went first and, performed a poem from her debut, White Rose, without reading from her book! Impressive. We Will Not be Silent is one of my favorite non-fiction books ever. White Rose looks like a perfect fiction/ non-fiction pairing. 

Lamar Giles read from his delightful MG debut, The Last Last Day of Summer. I had actually read and reviewed this fun novel here

Raul the Third read from ¡Vamos! Let's Go to Market. This looks like such a fun book.

Kadir Nelson speaks about the fact that he now just about only illustrates what he writes, but made an exception for The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander. 

Finally, our emcee and all-around ice-breaker, Kwame Alexander, sporting a shirt that I covet (and googled and found not only tees but mugs), read from The Undefeated. My heart nearly stopped and my eyes definitely brimmed with tears with his reading. 

I got my books signed and headed out. I wonder if HMH used the same bus from the Rebound tour and repainted it:

ETA: I reread my post, found a typo, fixed it and then realized that I never talked about Versify. The authors on tour are on the initial list of Alexander's imprint - Versify. I love the name and he chose a great bunch to launch his imprint. Good luck Versify!