Friday, May 31, 2019

Taking Stock - May

Total Books 23/ 139
Total Posts: 36
Total Reviews: 19

Debut: 0/1
Audio: 7/39
Picture Books: 6/54

The Good: 36 posts!

The Bad: Fell behind in my book-a-day

The List:
May (22)
117. Fearless and Fantastic: female super heroes save the world by Sam Maggs, Emma Grange and Ruth Amos (5/1)
118. Let Your Voice be Heard: the life and times of Pete Seeger by Anita Silvey (5/2)
119. Unpresidented by Martha Brockenbrough (5/3)*
120. Onward: A photo biography of African-American Polar Explorer Matthew Henson by Dolores Johnson (5/7)
121. All for One by Melissa de la Cruz (5/7)
122. Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya (5/10)*
123. Beautifully Said: Quotes by Remarkable Women and Girls Designed to Make You Think (5/12)
124. A Crack in the Sea by H.M. Bouwman (5/12)*
125. The Giver: Graphic Novel by Lois Lowry (5/12)*
126. The Good Son: a story from the first World War told in miniature by Pierre-Jacques Over (5/13)*
127. The Boy with the Butterfly Mind by Victoria Williamson (5/16)(SLJ)
128. Seashells: more than just a home by Melissa Stewart (5/16)
129. Sonny's Bridge: jazz legend Sonny Rollins finds his groove by Barry Wittenstein (5/16)
130. Daring Dozen: the twelve who walked on the moon by Suzanne Slade (5/16)
131. Seashell Summer by Michelle Hosts (5/17)
132. Lovely War by Julie Berry (5/18)*
133. Girls with Guts by Debbie Gonzales (5/21)
134. Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan (5/21)
135. The First by Katherine Applegate (Endling #2) (5/25)*
136. Rocket to the Moon by Don Brown (5/26)
137. Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor (5/26)*
138. Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French (5/27)*
139. Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman by Karen Karbiener (5/31)

SLJ Day of Dialog - 2019

I attended my third DoD on Wednesday. My first two were downtown at NYU, which was an easy commute - bus to the Port Authority, then a trot downstairs to catch the A train to the W4th station, followed by a short walk. The venue itself was not without its challenges though - only one elevator and the need to move between many floors. This year's venue at Fifth Ave and 103rd added a wrinkle to my commute. I was ready to take a bus as early as 6:30 having awakened at 4:15 but chose not to. That was a mistake as the line for the Metro Card machines was long, long, long. Then, I had to walk, walk, walk to take the Shuttle to Grand Central Station. Once there, I had a longish hike to the #6 train platform. Got to 103rd street, got turned around and walked in the wrong direction. Phew!

Arrived too late for a bite to eat but in time to listen to the announcements of the Horn Book/ Boston Globe Awards. Nice bunch of books these

The opening keynote speech was given by the venerable Jerry Pinkney.

He spoke eloquently about the highs and lows of illustrating A Place to Land, written by Barry Wittenstein.

Next up was a Middle Grade Author Panel featuring Rob Buyea, Nicole Melleby, Celia Pérez, Tim Tingle and Ibi Zoboi. They all have books coming out and discussed things like whether they develop plot or characters first and why middle grade. 

In between sessions, groups of publishers got on the stage to deliver rapid fire book talks of five or so upcoming titles. I always try to be selective grabbing arcs but when the publishers book talk, they all sound so good! Of course, there's also time to browse the tables, where other titles are displayed. This graphic novel adaptation of I Dissent by Debbie Levy was happy-making! I use the picture book as a mentor text in my sixth grade picture book biography unit. 

SLJ editor Mahnaz Dar moderated the graphic novel panel where Jerry Craft, Faith Erin Hicks, Kyo Maclear, Emma Steinkellner and Jen Wang spoke about their recent and upcoming graphic novels. 

At some point, I began noticing the beautiful details of this auditorium. 

After a second publisher pitch, we settled in for a pre-lunch keynote delivered by Sharon Robinson, who spoke about her upcoming memoir, Child of a Dream.

Lunch was picked up across the street at the Museum of the City of New York, where we had passes to view the exhibits as well. Unfortunately, lunch was brief and there was no time. I texted one of my sons, who is a rabid fan of baseball and its history and who also lives in the city. We will meet there one day soon. Lunch was delicious, by the way.

A third round of Publisher Pitches kicked off the afternoon, followed by a YA Panel in which Sharon Attia, Alison Gervais, Thanhha Lai, Kim Liggett and Tochi Anyebuchi discussed their upcoming books. Thanhha Lai is so funny!

The Editor's Panel was a fascinating mix of powerhouses who discussed their "vision" sometimes irreverently.

I thought Kwame Alexander was tall! Christopher Myers is huge!

The DoD ended with an author signing. I got a sampler of A Place to Land signed by Jerry Pinkney and Barry Wittenstein. I whispered to Mr. Wittenstein that I recently reviewed Sonny's Bridge on the blog. 

I got a copy of New Kid signed by Jerry Craft. This is being sent to e. E. Charlton-Trujillo's non-profit, Never Counted Out. I told Jerry that his book has already been hidden by a student in the library. I couldn't find it one day and marked it lost. Several weeks later, I was cleaning up a corner and straightening books and I found it hidden. At least it wasn't outright stolen! I also got the arc of Just Because by Mac Barnett signed for my husbands nephews and niece. 

My day was not yet over. I needed to hoof it to the subway and downtown to the Princeton Club for a publisher dinner. I thought my rolling backpack was waterproof:-/ I had a waterproof rain jacket on but the hood kept blowing off. And there were mammoth puddles that were unavoidable so my sneaks got very squishy wet. I arrived late looking like a drowned rat. My packed books were slightly damp to wet. Sigh.

Dinner was tasty and so was the chardonnay. I met some new librarian friends so dinner conversation was interesting. Then we all quieted down to listen to five authors talk about their upcoming titles. I can't wait to read each one! Deborah Heiligman spoke passionately about her research for Torpedoed! and ran out of time. Tim Tingle told a story as he often does and scared the bejeezus out of us. His upcoming book is called Doc and the Detective. Morgan Parker got personal about her debut, Who Put This Song On? David Yoon's debut had some personal roots as well. I can't wait to read Frankly in Love. And finally, Julie Murphy kept us laughing and thinking as she spoke of her middle grade debut, Sweet Pea.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time I left so it was a dry trot to the Port Authority, where I was third in line for the bus which arrived within ten minutes. I got a seat near the front, plugged in to listen to Internment on my phone and settle back, exhausted but happy, for the trip home. 

Fact Friday: Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman

Image: Quarto Books

Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman. Edited by Karen Karbiener, PhD. Illustrated by Kate Evans. 48 p. Moon Dance/ Quarto, 2017. 9781633221505.

In honor of American Poet Walt Whitman's 200th birthday, Fact Friday features Poetry for Kids Walt Whitman edited by Karen Karbiener, PhD and illustrated by Kate Evans. Whitman was a bit of a rebel in the poetry world back in the day and Dr. Karbiener, a professor and expert on Whitman, excerpts thirty-five poems along with commentary and definitions of unfamiliar words. This accessible introduction is also illustrated with moody watercolor paintings and spot art. Happy birthday Walt Whitman!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

#tbt: The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Image: Abrams
The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley. Sisters Grimm #1. 192 p. Abrams, October, 2005. 9780810959255.

#tbt features The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley. Book one of what would become eight books in the Sisters Grimm series was published in 2005 and features sisters Daphne and Sabrina Grimm. When their parents disappear the sisters are sent to live with a grandmother they thought was dead in Ferryport. Once there, they find that they are expected to become detectives and carry on the legacy that stretches back to the original brothers Grimm. This series is a TMS favorite. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: Allies by Alan Gratz

Allies by Alan Gratz. 336 p. Scholastic Inc., October 15, 2019. 9781338245721.

Publisher synopsis: June 6, 1944: The Nazis are terrorizing Europe on their evil quest to conquer the world. The only way to stop them? The biggest, most top-secret operation ever, with the Allied nations coming together -- by land, sea, and air -- to storm German-occupied France.
Welcome to D-Day.

Dee Carpenter, a young U.S. soldier, is on a boat racing toward the French coast. Dee -- along with his brothers-in-arms -- is terrified. He feels the weight of World War II on his shoulders.

But Dee is not alone. Behind enemy lines in France, a girl named Samira works as a spy, trying to sabotage the German army -- and find her mother. At the same time, a paratrooper named James leaps from a plane to take part in a daring midnight raid. During the beach invasion, Henry, a medic, goes out into the bullets and bombs, searching for soldiers to save.

In a breathtaking race against time, each of them must fight to complete their high-stakes missions. But with betrayals and deadly risks at every turn, can the Allies do what it takes to win?

When a student tells me they don't like historical fiction, I tell them they NEED to read Alan Gratz. Gratz is a TMS favorite. I just can't keep his books on the shelf. Good problem to have. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Teen Tuesday: Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. 320 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 

Teen Tuesday features Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. This 2013 debut is narrated by sixteen-year-old James who lives in a terribly dysfunctional family and suffers terribly from depression. His favorite poet is Walt Whitman and he loves to yawp loudly, especially because it annoys his parents. At turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this unreliable narrator provides a realistic glimpse into what it's like to struggle with depression.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

Image: Hachette Audio

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. ~6 hours. Read by Cassandra Morris, Zach Villa, Cameron Bowen & Adam McArthur. Hachette Audio, April, 2019. 9781549148828. (Review of audiobook downloaded from public library.)

When Caitlyn has to move with her mother to Vermont, she's not at all happy. She spent all of her sixth grade year learning the "rules" and clawing her way up the social ladder. Now, she learns that her new school is so small that it's housed in a haunted mansion where students take turns taking care of the goats. What are the rules here? Who is this Paulie Fink of legend and where has he gone? Caitlyn's classmates decide that someone needs to take on Paulie's mantle and Caitlyn, as an objective outsider is the perfect judge for their contest. Humorous and engaging, this story is told from multiple points of view. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Picture Book Review: Seashells: more than a home by Melissa Stewart

Image: Charlesbridge

Seashells: more than a home by Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. unpgd. Charlesbridge, April, 2019. 9781580898102. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Anyone who has visited the seashore has to notice what the tides wash up. These include sea weed, bits of wood, the occasional piece of sea glass, perhaps some litter and shells, both whole and in pieces. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Just what are these creatures? 

Melissa Stewart explains it all in this succinct, accessible text that combines narrative and expository nonfiction. The sentences that float across the tops of each spread describe the functions of seashells using similes. The expository part presents in a different font, color and size near the bottom. A few sentences provide more facts. Illustrations add to understanding. Each mollusk gets a double-page spread showing the animal in its environment in muted color. A sketch pad depicts a scientific drawing that highlights a concept.

Back matter lists the five largest groups of mollusks, bivalves, cephalopods, chitons, gastropods and scaphopods with more information about each group. Both the author and illustrator have notes that explain their love for seashells. There are three suggestions for further reading followed by a list of selected source by both author and illustrator. The decorated end-pages also adds to reader's knowledge by highlighting each mollusk's range and habitat. 

Seashells: more than just a home is a wonderful addition for any school or classroom library. It fits very nicely into the ocean biome part of science units. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Arc Review: My Papi has a motorcycle by Isabel Quintero

Image: Penguin Young Readers

My Papi has a motorcycle by Isabel Quintero. Illustrated by Zeke Peña. unpgd. Kokila/ Penguin Young Readers, May, 2019. 9780525553410. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

The pair who brought us the beautiful Photographic: the life of Graciela Iturbide slides down the age grouping from YA to the very youngest of readers to celebrate a sweet bonding activity between father and daughter. In this story based on the author's own memories, Daisy knows all about the workings of a motorcycle engine thanks to her Papi. She awaits the sound of his truck pulling into the driveway of their modest home and greets him with a huge hug. The two strap on their helmets and hop on Papi's electric blue motorcycle to cruise the neighborhood. 

Family and community are important to Daisy. She notes landmarks with pride and mourns the loss of stores and the citrus groves that brought many of her neighbors to the area for work. 

This picture book, though not a graphic novel, has speech bubbles, the occasional panel and artistic elements and details that give it a graphic novel feel. Daisy seems to be a graphic novel fan. Don't miss the shout out to Low Riders in Space. Is it my imagination or did Peña also borrow an image of Raul the Third's for Daisy's brother's tee shirt? 

The palette, while colorful is a tad muted but maintains energy through the use of swooshes and zig-zag lines and onomatopoeia. The dialogue incorporates both Spanish and English. The mood is celebratory yet contemplative. 

My Papi has a motorcycle belongs in every school and public library and would make a terrific read aloud. 

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:

Image: Simon & Schuster

Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt. Illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan. unpgd. Caitlyn Dhlouey Books/ Atheneum Books for Young Readers, June 11, 2019. 

Publisher synopsis: Fish and birds and lizards and socks…is there anything Max won’t attack? Watch your ankles and find out in this clever, rhyming picture book about a very naughty kitty cat.

Max is a cat. He attacks. From socks to strings to many a fish, attacking, for Max, is most de-lish. But how many of these things can he actually catch? Well, let’s just say it’s no even match.

Image: Holiday House

Nixie Ness Cooking Star by Claudia Mills. Illustrated by Grace Zong. After-School Superstars series, #1. 120 p. Margaret Ferguson Books/ Holiday House, June 4, 2019. 9780823440931.

Publisher synopsis: Best friends Nixie and Grace spend every afternoon together . . . until Nixie's mom gets a new job and Nixie must attend the after-school program, without Grace.

Third graders Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny have been best friends since they were two-years-old. They have always spent every afternoon after school at Nixie's house until Nixie's mom announces that she has a job, which means she won't be there to watch the girls after school, which means Nixie will have to go to the after-school program and Grace will be spending her afternoons at their classmate, Elyse's, house.

Nixie begrudgingly starts the after-school program, joining the cooking camp. And it turns out that the other children at cooking camp are nice, and the recipes they make are delicious. But Nixie can't really enjoy being an after-school superstar until she finds a way to overcome her jealousy about Grace and Elyse's budding friendship.

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 Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Fact Friday and Picture Book Review: Daring Dozen: the twelve who walked on the moon by Suzanne Slade

Image: Charlesbridge

Daring Dozen: the twelve who walked on the moon by Suzanne Slade. Illustrated by Alan Marks. unpgd. Charlesbridge, March, 2019. 9781580897730. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Did you know that July 20, 2019 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong's* moonwalk? Yes, he took that one small step for man, but did you know that eleven other astronauts walked on the moon after him? Fact Friday features Daring Dozen: the twelve who walked on the moon by Suzanne Slade. The author sparely but eloquently summarizes each of the Apollo missions from Apollo 11 to Apollo 17 accompanied by creamy, dreamy double-page watercolor paintings depicting a variety of astronaut activity and moonscapes. 

Plentiful back matter includes an Afterword written by Alan Bean, the fourth man to walk on the moon; a note from the author; a timeline; more information about the vehicles; more information about the missions; more information about the art; and formal color group photos of each team along with, you guessed it, more information. Four books for further reading, source notes and a selected bibliography that includes websites round out the back matter. Additionally, the book is hefty and beautifully designed. The decorated end-pages feature two footprints on the moon's surface. Just lovely.

Daring Dozen is a superb addition to any library!

*ETA: Thanks to Susie for pointing out an unfortunate typo. Ugh! So sorry!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Picture Book Review: Sonny's Bridge by Barry Wittenstein

Image: Charlesbridge

Sonny's Bridge: jazz legend Sonny Rollins finds his groove by Barry Wittenstein. Illustrated by Keith Mallett. unpgd. Charlesbridge, May 21, 2019. 9781580898812. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Even the most tone-deaf of readers will find themselves bopping to the rhythm of this snazzy picture book biography told in free verse of jazz legend, Sonny Rollins. Rollins was born in 1930 in Harlem, where jazz legends Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald often performed. He was drawn to jazz early and when his mother finally bought him a saxophone, he would practice like crazy. World War II raged and he would sneak into the Apollo Theater to learn from the greats. At nineteen, he began playing his own gigs around town and very quickly made a name for himself. He just as quickly walked away.

This accessible biography is a terrific introduction to jazz and one of its innovators. Everything about it is energetic and beautiful from the poetry that begs to be read aloud to its gorgeous digital illustrations. The design is genius as well. I just loved the first title page that looks like a vinyl LP in its sleeve complete with the circular crease that outlines the disc inside. Turn the page and the next title page shows that disc on a turntable. These delights will probably need to be explained to young people whose music is delivered digitally. One can get lost in each illustration noticing and appreciating little details like the whoosh of notes, the upward view of the Williamsburg Bridge or the gorgeous sun setting over lower Manhattan while a despondent Sonny contemplates his life. Oh! And check out the jacket flaps!

Exemplary back matter includes an author's note; Liner Notes about The Bridge Album; a timeline; quote sources, two websites, videos and books to learn more as well as a Selected Bibliography. I am constantly reminding my students to check out the backmatter for research and source ideas. A well-done back matter section is a treasure trove of information!

The copyright page, located on the final page, sports the same design as the front. Had I had a say, I would've suggested that it mirror the front with "Side 2." (Teeny quibble.)

I would be eager to learn if there are plans for an audio book. I recall reading Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop by Chris Raschka way back in 1992. I am a fan of Raschka's work and I liked this enough. It wasn't until the early 2000s and I was a librarian and discovered the audiobook. Once I shared it, I realized how badly I had read the book originally. The audiobook was immersive and experiential. Hearing the music and listening to the performance transformed the book for me.

In the absence of an audiobook, librarians and teachers who share the book with young readers would do well to find Rollins' music from The Bridge.  I can't wait to add this to my sixth grade picture book biography unit. 

Sonny's Bridge: jazz legend Sonny Rollins finds his groove is truly a treasure.

ETA: More book design beauty. I forgot to mention the slipcover dilemma. Sometimes it pains me to tape a cover down on a library book:

#tbt: Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee

Image: Scholastic Inc.
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee. 250 p. Arthur A. Levine Books/ Scholastic Inc., 2003. 0439425190. (Own.)

#tbt features Lisa Yee's 2003 debut novel, Millicent Min, Girl Genius. Poor Millicent. She may have skipped five grades and graduated high school with honors, but she is socially inept and has a few family problems brewing. She's stuck tutoring Stanford Wong, popular basketball jock and her mom has forced her to join volleyball. The only good thing about volleyball is Emily Ebers, her only friend besides her grandmother. Emily was forced into volleyball as well. This brisk and breezy story is often laugh-out-loud funny. Fans will definitely want to read the companion novels, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time and So Totally Emily Ebers. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Image: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

The Toll by Neal Shusterman. Arc of the Scythe trilogy #3. 544 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, November 5, 2019. 9781481497060.

Publisher synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman comes the thrilling conclusion to the Printz Honor–winning series Arc of a Scythe.

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

This trilogy is enormously popular among my eighth graders, who needed to know about this before they graduate so they can look for it in the fall when they are freshmen. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Unabridged downloadable audiobook, ~10 hours. Read by Robbie Daymond. Listening Library, 2017. 9781524734565. (Review of downloadable audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. This first-person narrative features Sal, who finds himself in detention on the very first day of senior year when he decides to use his fists instead of his words to confront a bully. This fast and furious anger puzzles Sal who admits that his life has been pretty great. Though his mother died when he was three, her best friend, Vicente adopted him and Sal, while white, grew up surrounded by a loving Mexican American extended family. He ponders his birth father and begins to wonder if he inherited this new tendency toward violence from him. 

He's also lucky with friends, especially his best friend, Samantha. The two are thick as thieves and Vicente acts as a surrogate father to her because her relationship with her mostly absent mother is fraught. He also makes a new friend in Fito, a gay classmate who is working hard to both earn money and college acceptance. 

The writing is lovely in this character driven story. It's leisurely pace will require a patient teen reader but the reward is in the warmth of Sal's adoptive family and his friendships. The performance by Robbie Raymond is measured and introspective.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: We're Not from Here by Geoff Rodkey

Image: Random House
We're Not from Here by Geoff Rodkey. 250 p. Crown Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children's Books, March, 2019. 9781524773052. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

One doesn't usually utter the words post-apocalypse and humorous in the same sentence. If anyone can make the end of the world funny, it's Geoff Rodkey. He has a knack for infusing even the most slapstick humor with a dry irony that serves as a one-two punch. We laugh and then, we think. I haven't laughed this hard at sci/fi since Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide series. 

Humans have managed to destroy planet Earth and are in search of a new home. They tried Mars but found it inhospitable. Planet Choom has agreed to take in what is left of humankind but in the twenty years it took for the group to arrive, the government changed its mind - the government changed leadership. Humans are not civilized and cannot be peaceful, they argue. The problem is, there's no going back - not enough fuel and nowhere to go. So, they agree to allow one family entry to assimilate and prove that humans can be peaceful. 

The Mufune family is chosen. Lan, our narrator, describes the efforts of their (Lan's gender is never revealed) mother, who is on the governing committee of the ship, to negotiate with the Zhuris. They are insect-like creatures who rule Choom and dislike emotion. Nothing can be funny and music is outlawed as well. Lan and their friend, Naya, host a popular internet channel where they upload content meant to amuse their shipmates. Lan's sister, Ila, was a popular vocal artist on Earth. These two talents do not endear the family to the Zhuris in charge, but individual Zhuris are intrigued. Unfortunately, the government uses media to present humans in the worst possible light (fake news) and manipulates the masses into a mob mentality that "proves" the danger.

This timely story will entertain but also nudge the reader, or a thoughtful one at any rate, into a bit of reflection about the human condition. Heady stuff for the average middle school student but we want to teach them to think critically, do we not? 

Saturday, May 18, 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:

Image: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

The Root of Magic by Kathleen Benner Duble. 224 p. Delacorte Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children's Books, June 11, 2019. 9780525578505.

Publisher synopsis: A deeply felt sibling story set in a town where people have a mysterious magical power and one girl is determined to discover what it is, for readers of Lauren Myracle and Ingrid Law. 

Willow knows the unknown is scary. Especially when your little brother has been sick for a long time and nobody has been able to figure out why. All Willow wants is for her brother to get better and for her her life to go back to normal.

But after a bad stroke of luck, Willow and her family find themselves stranded in an unusual town in the middle of nowhere and their life begins to change in the most unexpected way. Willow soon discovers that the town isn’t just unusual—it’s magical—and the truth is more exciting that she ever imagined.

Will Willow find that this could be the secret to saving her family—or discover that the root of magic could lead them to something greater?

Image: G.P. Putnam's Sons

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden. 246 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers, August 27, 2019. 9780525515050. 

Publisher synopsis: Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.

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 Wordpress or FB or anything that makes commenting difficult and gives my data to miners. But, I will definitely check your stack!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Picture Book Review: Sea Glass Summer by Michelle Houts

Image: Candlewick
Sea Glass Summer by Michelle Houts. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. unpgd. Candlewick Press, May 14, 2019. 9780763684433. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

"Some years ago, a young boy named Thomas spent his summer at his grandmother's island cottage." She gives him his grandfather's magnifying glass and Thomas spends countless hours beach-combing and examining things through the glass. When he finds a piece of glass ground smooth by the sea, his grandmother tells him that every piece tells a story. That night, he has a vivid dream about the origins of that piece of glass. He accidentally breaks the magnifying glass when he falls on the ferry that will return him to the mainland at summer's end, so he tosses the shards into the sea. Many years later, as evidenced by the pink crocs, a little girl named Annie finds a smooth piece of sea glass near her family's seaside cottage and runs excitedly to her "Papaw Tom" to share her discovery. He tells her that each piece of sea glass tells a story and that night...

Such a beautiful story of connection - to beloved grandparents, to nature, to history and the power of story and the imagination. The writing is quite lovely; but the gorgeous watercolor illustrations are the stars here. Each one is arresting. A few are so photorealistic, I did a double-take. The dream sequences are just as detailed but in all gray hues, which makes them all the more remarkable.

Sea Glass Summer would be a wonderful lap book for sharing and also a great read aloud to kick off summer in story time at the library or in elementary classrooms. Inspire some young beach combers. 

Fact Friday: It's Trevor Noah: born a crime: stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Image: Delacorte Press

It's Trevor Noah: born a crime: stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (Adapted for Young Readers). 295 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, April, 2019. 9780525582168. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Fact Friday features It's Trevor Noah: born a crime: stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah. The Daily Show comedian was born in South Africa under apartheid where races were strictly segregated and consequences for crossing racial lines were brutal. Yet, Noah's black mother met and fell in love with a white man and they had Trevor, who grew up wondering where he fit in. In this memoir, he candidly discusses the ups and downs of his unique childhood and the events that would shape the entertainer he became. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

#tbt: Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham

Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham. 216 p. Puffin Books/ Penguin Young Reader's Group, 9780142411667. (Own)

#tbt features Demonkeeper by Royce Buckingham. Nat is an apprentice demonkeeper who is left in charge of the house while his mentor is away. When Nat leaves for a break in the monotony of caring for the demons imprisoned there, a clueless burgler breaks in and accidentally lets loose the most dangerous demon. Additionally, the thin man is heading Nat's way. This page turner is as humorous as it is suspenseful. Demonkeeper was Buckingham's debut novel and published in 2007. It is the first of a trilogy.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Cover Coincidence: Mason Jars

A "Cover Coincidence" post is the occasional post prompted by the question, "Where have I seen this before?"

I happen to love Mason jars for their versatility and sturdy practicality and so, I had much cover love for:

Image: Nancy Paulsen Books
Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

This morning, I was reviewing my book order for next year and spied this:
Image: Scholastic
The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson. 

Arc Review: Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker

Zenobia July by Lisa Bunker. 316 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 21, 2019. 9780451479402. (Review of arc courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Book Birthday next week (5/21) to Zenobia July, Lisa Bunker's highly anticipated sophomore novel. Prepare to have your heart touched.

The death of Zenobia's father, while sad, was actually liberating for her. The years between the death of her mother and then her father were stressful and repressive. She was homeschooled, isolated and felt like a constant failure to her dad. After his death, she was sent clear across the country to Maine to live with her Aunt Lucy and her wife, Phil. They give Zen the choice to live her life honestly. So she has a new name and a new life. It is thrilling and terrifying.

As she makes friends, and an enemy or two, a cybercrime is committed at school involving hate speech aimed at a Muslim student. Zenobia has some serious hacking skills and is itching to help her teacher solve this crime. She also jumps to a few wrong conclusions. 

She is a relatable character in that her anxiety over starting a new school and fitting in and finding friends is fairly common. So too, her push-me/ pull-you feelings about her aunts and her new living situation. They are all getting used to each other. Issues around gender identity are woven nicely into the story without becoming instructive or overwhelming. 

Zen has landed in a good place and is surrounded by supportive adults even though they themselves are new to parenting. The story is peopled with a diverse cast of interesting characters from the delightful Uncle Sprinkles, a drag queen friend of the aunts who takes Zen shopping and helps her with make-up tips to Arli, a fearless gender-fluid person eager to make Zen welcome.

All-in-all, Zenobia July is a perfect middle grade novel. I have quite a few students intensely interested in books with transgender characters and am deliriously happy to have a new title to add to the collection.

Waiting on Wednesday: Level 13 by Gordon Korman

Image: Scholastic

Level 13 by Gordon Korman. A Slacker Novel #2. 292 p. Scholastic Inc., June 25, 2019. 9781338286205.

Publisher synopsis: Cameron Boxer, king of the slackers, has found something worth his time. By playing video games online in front of an audience he can find both fame AND fortune — especially with Elvis (a beaver who seems to love video games as much as Cam) at his side. The only problem? Things keep getting in Cam's way. Like school. And the club he accidentally started. And the misguided people in his life who don't think beavers should be playing video games. It's going to take some trickery, some close calls, and a fierce devotion to slacking in order for Cam to get to his goal — conquering the game's infamous Level 13. But if any slacker can do it, Cam can.

Korman is a crowdpleaser at my school. The shelf containing his books is usually sparse.