Saturday, January 30, 2021

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: 

Into the Wind by William Loizeaux. 186 p. One Elm Books/ Red Chair Press, March 2, 2021. 9781947159426.

Publisher synopsis: It’s shaping up to be a rotten summer for Rusty, a young sailing fan who lives on an island off the New England coast. He’s just flunked fifth-grade math and has to go to summer school. His older sister is bossier than ever. Worst of all, his mom is far away on the mainland —undergoing treatment for her sudden, confusing, and exhausting “sadness”—while his dad struggles to keep the household together. Rusty’s only refuge is in caring for and teaching himself to sail a small, beloved sailboat.

While working on his boat at the village dock one evening, Rusty meets Hazel, a feisty local artist from an old sailing family. Hazel asks—no, demands—that Rusty take her sailing. He refuses. She argues. And an unlikely friendship begins.

Little story: I learned of this book rather serendipitously when I received an email out of the blue from my husband's old friend & groomsman. I actually missed it, so inundated with spam this account is, until my husband asked what Ted wanted. Huh?

Ted knew from Mark that I blog about children's books and his friend, Bill had a new one coming. Would I be interested in reading it? My general answer to that question is a reserved yes. A trip to the author's website revealed that I had read and enjoyed his earlier book, Wings, way before I began blogging, so the interest level spiked. Moral: keep an open mind with each query. 

I thought this would be my lone review book for today's stacking post, but a package arrived on my doorstep last evening. Surprisingly, it was addressed to me, the hub being AZ king. It contained seven arcs from the spring list at Levine Querido! What a debut year this new publishing house has had! Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nareri won the Printz Award and Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth won a Printz Honor. Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera won a Pura Belpré Honor.

These books are all on my tbr list. Last Midwinter (when we were able to travel and pick up arc) I grabbed Mike Jung's The Boys in the Back Row at the booth. I did eye Everything Sad is Untrue, but didn't want to be greedy. 

What Ollie Saw by Joukje Akveld. Illustrated by Sieb Posthuma. Translated by Bill Nagelkerke.56 p.  Levine Querido, April 6, 2021. 9781646140398.

Publisher synopsis: Ollie doesn’t see things the same way everybody else does (and he certainly doesn’t see things the same way his older sister does). Instead of cars in traffic, Ollie sees a circus parade. Instead of cows grazing in a field, Ollie sees deadly bison with sharp horns and hooves. And at school, instead of letters on the board, Ollie sees birds with pointy beaks, and fish with flapping tails in the big blue sea.

Ollie knows he doesn't need glasses, because he likes the world better the way he sees it. But will his parents and bossy sister see things his way?

Popcorn Bob by Maranke Rinck. Illustrated by Martijn Van Der Linden. Translated by Nancy Forest-Flier. 152 p. Levine Querido, April 20, 2021. 9781646140404.

Publisher synopsis: Ellis loves popcorn. Who doesn’t?

But one day her school goes on a healthy eating campaign and her dads decide to follow suit, banning all snack foods from their house, INCLUDING POPCORN. Unfair. Ellis has got to get around that edict, so one night she pops a bag of popcorn out back in the garage...and she’s met with more than just her favorite salty snack. One kernel refuses to pop, and soon it’s sprouted a face, arms, and legs! He introduces himself as Popcorn Bob, and he is NOT in a good mood. (Ever, really.) He’s absolutely ravenous, and no amount of food keeps him from being hangry. Bob causes no end of chaos for Ellis, and she decides to rid herself of him once and for all, except...she actually starts to like him.

A chapter book for all ages, Popcorn Bob is a laugh-out-loud story about the power of friendship, and a perfect bowl of popcorn.

Middletown by Sarah Moon. 288 p. Levine Querido, April 6, 2021. 9781646140428.

Publisher synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Eli likes baggy clothes, baseball caps, and one girl in particular. Her seventeen-year-old sister Anna is more traditionally feminine; she loves boys and staying out late. They are sisters, and they are also the only family each can count on. Their dad has long been out of the picture, and their mom lives at the mercy of her next drink. When their mom lands herself in enforced rehab, Anna and Eli are left to fend for themselves. With no legal guardian to keep them out of foster care, they take matters into their own hands: Anna masquerades as Aunt Lisa, and together she and Eli hoard whatever money they can find. But their plans begin to unravel as quickly as they were made, and they are always way too close to getting caught.

Eli and Anna have each gotten used to telling lies as a means of survival, but as they navigate a world without their mother, they must learn how to accept help, and let other people in.


Dawn Raid by Vaeluaga Smith. 222 p. Levine Querido, March 2, 2021. 9781646140411.

Publisher synopsis: "Imagine this: You're having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all 18 of you are squeezed into one house. All of sudden it's 4 o'clock in the morning and there's banging and yelling and screaming. The police are in the house pulling people out of bed ..."

Sofia is like most 12-year-old girls in New Zealand. How is she going to earn enough money for those boots? WHY does she have to give that speech at school? Who is she going to be friends with this year?

It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, starts talking about protests, “overstayers”, and injustices against Pacific Islanders by the government. Inspired by the Black Panthers in America, a group has formed called the Polynesian Panthers, who encourage immigrant and Indigenous families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights. Soon the whole family becomes involved in the movement.

Told through Sofia’s diary entries, with illustrations throughout, Dawn Raid is the story of one ordinary girl living in extraordinary times, learning how to stand up and fight.

The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty. 488 p. Levine Querido, March 16, 2021.9781646140763.

Publisher synopsis: Esther is a middle child, in her own mind a pale reflection of siblings who are bright, shining stars. Her mother doesn't show the slightest bit of interest, no matter what Esther does. Still, she's content to go back to school, do her best, hang out with her friends, and let others take care of things. 

But her best friends aren't AT school when she gets there. Why didn't they tell her they wouldn't be coming back? Why were they silent all summer? But stuff like that happens. And it's bad luck that her new teacher makes Esther the butt of all kinds of jokes. Mrs. Pollock is rumored to be an ogre — and maybe she IS one. Could be.

Then things go from unfortunate to outright dangerous. The mountains surrounding the school — usually sparkling with glaciers and lakes, alive with Faeries, and sheltering a quaint town with really great bakeries — are now crowded with Shadow Mages, casting a noticeable pall, and clearly — to Esther — signifying something very dark and threatening. As the people she might have depended on to help are either strangely absent or in hiding, it's left to ordinary, middle-child Esther ("just Esther") to act. But she'll have to burst out of the box of mediocrity she's been but in, and do something absolutely extraordinary.

The Immortal Boy (El Inmortal) by Francisco Montana Ibáñez. Translated by David Bowles. 400 p. Levine Querido, March 9, 2021. 9781646140442

Publisher synopsis: Two intertwining stories of Bogotá.

One, a family of five children, left to live on their own.

The other, a girl in an orphanage who will do anything to befriend the mysterious Immortal Boy.

How they weave together will never leave you.

Presented in English and Spanish.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) by Anton Treuer. 272 p. Levine Querido, April 6, 2021. 9781646140459.

Publisher synopsis: From the acclaimed Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer comes an essential book of questions and answers for Native and non-Native young readers alike.

Ranging from “Why is there such a fuss about nonnative people wearing Indian costumes for Halloween?” to “Why is it called a ‘traditional Indian fry bread taco’?“ to “What’s it like for natives who don’t look native?” to “Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?”, and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask (Young Readers Edition) does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging.

Updated and expanded to include:

* Dozens of New Questions and New Sections—including a social activism section that explores the Dakota Access Pipeline, racism, identity, politics, and more!
* Over 50 new Photos
* Adapted text for broad appeal

Purchased: Nothing!

Thanks for stopping by. Leave a link in the comments to your stack. Happy reading!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Fact Friday: The Big One: the Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch

Happy Friday! The Wolf Moon was setting and its light was absolutely gorgeous when I had the dogs out earlier, but it's very cold! It's windy as well. Br-r. Real-feel was 3 degrees! Needless to say, it was a short walk for the hounds. I was layered and cold. Boo kept starting at the big winds.
Fact Friday features The Big One: the Cascadia Earthquakes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch. Earthquakes through the milennia were and remain a feared event. Unpredictable in timing and force, a quake can be a momentary tremor or can fell skyscapers. Until the 1960s, they were poorly understood by scientists. Thanks to this entry in the my favorite series, "The Scientist in the Field," readers can learn about the work of geologists who not only climb mountains, but also find ponds from which to extract core samples. The information gathered is helping scientists predict when and where earthquakes might happen.

The text is accessible and the plentiful full-color photos capture the work of teams of scientists that include undergraduate students. Back matter points budding scientists and researchers to sources and further reading. As usual, this series lives up to its reputation. Another first-purchase. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

#tbt: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Image: Abrams

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. 180 p. Origami Yoda #1. Amulet Books/ Abrams, March, 2010. 9780810984257. (Own)

#tbt features The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. It's hard to believe that this inventive, funny series starter is about to turn ten in about a month! Though Tommy is the narrator, this illustrated story is told from multiple points of view. Tommy's classmate and friend, Dwight, has always been out there. Sometimes he won't change his tee shirt and he's often socially inept. He does have a talent for origami and he folded an origami Yoda who has begun dispensing sage advice. Tommy wants to know how Dwight, or is it Yoda(?) can give such great advice. Each of their classmates weigh in with how Dwight/ Yoda helped them. 

The book ends with step-by-step instructions for folding your own origami Yoda. Ten-years-ago, I had a student who was a fan of the book and folded an army of origami Yodas. 

If you enjoy this book, there are five more books in the series to laugh your way through. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Odd Bods: the world's unusual animals by Julie Murphy

Happy Wednesday! We had a dusting of snow here in northern NJ. Not enough to shovel, but just enough to add a spring to my step. 

Odd Bods: the world's unusual animals by Julie Murphy. 32 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, March 2, 2021. 9781541585027.

Waiting on Wednesday features Odd Bods: the world's unusual animals by Julie Murphy. This informational book seems just right for readers who are fact hounds. The publisher's note: "the animal kingdom is filled of critters with unique features. Learn about the incredible adaptations that help these creatures—and their odd bods—survive and thrive all around the globe!" My ten-year-old self would've loved this and books like these! Heck, my mumble-year-old self loves them! And Lerner Publishing is my go-to source for quality nonfiction. Their books are beautifully designed, high-interest and appealing. 

Odd Bods releases on March 2.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~ 5 hours, 33 minutes. Read by the author and Melania Luisa Marte. Quill Tree Books, May, 2020. 9780063011816. (Review of e-audio downloaded from the public library.) 

Teen Tuesday may ring a bell to followers of The Daily Booktalk. I featured it last spring when I reviewed the arc. I recently learned that the author was one of the two narrators of the audiobook and decided to reread the book with my ears since I am such a fan of her narrations, not just of her poetry, but also of prose books, such as Pride by Ibi Zoboi.

This verse novel is a dual narrative. Yahaira lives in New York City with her papi and mami. Until the previous year, she was a chess champion. She stopped playing abruptly when she discovered Papi's secret. She's stubborn and fierce.

Camino lives in the Dominican Republic with her tia. Her mother died ten years ago and her father only visits from June to September. He pays for her private school, but she'd really like for him to bring her to the United States so that she can pursue her dreams of attending Columbia University as a pre-med. These are dashed forever when she learns that he has been killed in a plane crash while en route to the DR. 

Two girls, one father, one secret exposed. 

This intense read comes to brilliant life in the hands of the narrators who play their respective roles to a T. I already knew what was going to happen and still was completely enthralled. Read Clap When You Land with your eyes or with your ears. Just read it. 

The Odyssey Committee agrees. Clap When You Land garnered an Odyssey Honor yesterday morning. 

Middle Grade Monday: Shuri: a Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone

Shuri: a Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone. 272 p. Scholastic Inc., May, 2020. 9781338585476. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Monday! Well, today is the day! It's the Monday of the ALA Midwinter Conference and traditionally the day that the Youth Media Awards are announced! Stay tuned to see if any of your favorite books of 2020 won anything.

Middle Grade Monday features Shuri: a Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone. This series beginner focuses on Princess Shuri, the scientific genius of Wakanda's royal family. The Heart Shaped Herb that is native and vital to Wakanda is dying. Curiously, neither T'Challa nor her mother seem terribly concerned, so Shuri takes it upon herself to discover why. Against orders, she travels outside of Wakanda's protected borders to do so.

I'm barely literate of the Black Panther canon, so I cannot comment on its faithfulness. I enjoyed the adventure and Shuri's intelligence and passion. The pace is fast. There's suspense and humor. 

If you are fan of The Black Panther, you will enjoy this series starter. Book two, The Vanished, is set to release on February 2.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

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:

A Curse of Ash & Embers by Jo Spurrier. 344 p. Harper Voyager/ HarperCollins Publishers, January, 2021. 9781460756331.

Publisher synopsis:A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.

Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.

But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it's Elodie's job to clean up the mess.

When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she'd find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.

Gyssha's final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie's help, whether she likes it or not.

And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it's still better than going back home.

Purchased: nothing! 

Leave a link to your stack in the comment section. I'd love to visit.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Fact Friday: How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco

How We Got to the Moon: the people, technology, and daring feats of science behind humanity's greatest adventure written and illustrated by John Rocco. 264 p. Crown Books for Young Readers, October, 2020. 9780525647416. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Friday! Fact Friday features How We Got to the Moon: the people, technology, and daring feats of science behind humanity's greatest adventure written and illustrated by John Rocco. Now, if you are a Percy Jackson fan, you know Mr. Rocco's work, as he has illustrated all the covers for that series and its spin-offs.

This hefty, oversized, gorgeous volume begins in October of 1957, when people all over the world learned that Russia had launched a satellite called Sputnik. Panic ensued. Were we being spied upon? Could a satellite drop an atomic bomb? The U.S. scrambled to catch up. 

The subtitle really says it all. That's how wide-ranging the text is. Each spread brims with text that explains the history, science, engineering and gives biographical background on some of the many thousands of individuals who worked tirelessly to put a man on the moon. Illustrations vie with the text on each page and just beg to be pored over. There are technical drawings, cutaways, and portraits. This is a book that ought to be read more than once. There's just too much to take in. The back matter is superb. It gives the reader a glimpse into all the research Mr. Rocco did for both the writing and the art, source notes, sources, and suggestions for further reading.

Fact hounds and space geeks will adore this book, but so will the average curious reader. How We Got to the Moon was long-listed for the National Book Award and is a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. Who knows what other awards it might garner next Monday? A Sibert? A Newbery? This book needs to be in every library's collection.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

#tbt: Miss Peregine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Image: Quirk Publishing

Happy Thursday! I decided to make it a peculiar week and feature Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for #tbt. 

Jacob Portman adored his grandpa, Abraham and, as a child, loved to listen to stories of Abe's adventures. But as Jacob grew older, they seemed so far-fetched and, well, crazy, which is how Jacob's parents view Abe. Then, Abe is brutally murdered and, with his dying breath, tells Jacob to "find the old bird" in a time loop at a cemetery. Jacob is traumatized by his grandfather's death, so his parents send him to a psychiatrist, who recommends a trip to his grandfather's birthplace in Wales. It is there that Jacob discovers the time loop and the "old bird," Miss Peregrine.

The book was inspired by old black and white photographs of unusual looking children. This parallel universe fantasy has a fast pace, intriguing characters, a vivid setting, touches of horror and gruesome monsters.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was Mr. Riggs' debut novel and the first of a planned YA trilogy that has since expanded into a six-book series. It was published in June of 2011 and spent over a year on the best seller lists. It was adapted for graphic novel format in 2013 and adapted for film in 2016.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Teen Tuesday: The Conference of Birds by Ransom Riggs

Teen Tuesday features The Conference of Birds, the fifth novel of the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs. This book opens with Jacob on the run with Noor Pradesh, a new Peculiar but one who is sought after by the Peculiars' enemies because she is the subject of a prophecy. The tension is high from the very first page as Jacob goes against Miss Peregrine's directive and sneaks out to rescue Noor. Noor has recently become Peculiar and she's baffled, terrified and missing her foster mother, V, whom H told Jacob with his dying breath to find. Mysteries pile up and with very few clues to follow, Jacob and the Peculiars very survival is at stake. Of course, the ending is a cliffhanger! Stay tuned to Waiting on Wednesday to find out.

The books really should be read in order to fully appreciate the world and characters that Mr. Riggs created. They are just the ticket for readers who love eerie and horror. I read this one with my ears and Kirby Heyborne was back to narrate. He is one of my favorite narrators and does such a terrific job performing these books.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Desolations of Devil's Acres by Ransom Riggs

Happy Inauguration Day. Here's to hoping a nation heals.

Waiting on Wednesday features The Desolations at Devil's Acres by Ransom Riggs. This is the sixth and final book of the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series and the publisher promises it will be epic!

The last thing Jacob saw before he lost consciousness in the maddening cliffhanger that concluded The Conference of Birds, was a face he never thought he'd see again. Now that Caul is back and amassing an army, Jacob and Noor must reunite with Miss Peregrine and the Peculiars and decipher the meeting place of the seven prophesied ones before it's too late.

The Desolations at Devil's Acres releases on February 23!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros

Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~3 hours, 35 minutes. Read by Anthony Ray Perez. Quill Tree Books, April, 2020. 9780062971852.

Middle Grade Monday features Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros. Efrén, our twelve-year-old narrator lives with his undocumented parents in a tiny apartment with his five-year-old twin siblings, Mia and Max. His parents work hard to support the family and are loving and involved. Erfén enjoys school and does well. All this changes when ICE raids his Amá's workplace and she is deported. Now Efrén's Apá has to take on more work and Efrén is tasked with increased responsibility while the family explores ways of bringing Amá home, for the U.S. is really home.

This timely and touching book is the author's debut and it has been getting a fair amount of award buzz. I wouldn't be surprised if it wins something next Monday. Mr. Cisneros paints a vivid picture of a working-class, poor immigrant family rich in culture and love who are hopeful and striving for a better life. Readers will empathize with Efrén as he attempts to balance school with caring for his twin siblings, one of whom has some attention and behavior issues and relate to his grief and fear for the well-being of his family. There are moments of heart-melting mushy joy that somewhat leaven the moments of tension and sheer terror.

Narrator Anthony Ray Perez paces his performance well and beautifully conveys Efrén's love and worry for his family. This is a book that belongs on all library shelves. Timely, relevant, important. 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

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: Penguin Random House

Treasure of the World by Tara Sullivan. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, February 23, 2021. 9780525516965.

Publisher synopsis: A young girl must find a way to help her family survive in a desolate and impoverished Bolivian silver mining community in this eye-opening tale of resilience.

Twelve-year-old Ana wants nothing more than to escape the future set for her and her classmates in her small mining village. Boys her age are beginning to leave school to become silver miners and girls her age are destined to one day be the wives of miners. But when her often ill eleven-year-old brother is forced by their demanding father to start work in the mines, Ana gives up her dreams of school to volunteer in his place. The world of silver mining though is dark and dangerous and the men who work there don’t want a girl in their way. Ana must find the courage to not only survive but save her family after the worst happens and a mining accident kills her father and leaves her brother missing.

Purchased: nothing!

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a link to your Stacking post and I will stop by your post. Happy reading!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Fact Friday: Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: her life and ideas, with 21 activities and experiments by Rowena Rae

Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: her life and ideas, with 21 activities and experiments by Rowena Rae. 144 p. Chicago Review Press, February, 2020. (Review of e-book borrowed from public library.)

Happy Friday! We made it through another week! My students have a long weekend to look forward to. We teachers have a PD day on Monday.

Fact Friday features Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: her life and ideas with 21 activities and experiments by Rowena Rae. Rachel Carson was born in 1907 and was intensely curious about nature from her early years. Not only did she attend college when few women did, but she also studied science, specifically biology, which even fewer women did. She wrote eloquently about science and nature as well. Her intense observation and study of the natural world led her to the conclusion that pesticide use was adversely affecting animal life and the environment. She began to speak out against the use of pesticides in the 1950s and the 1962 publication of her book, Silent Spring, awakened the general public to these dangers to our environment.

This dual-use biography has activities and experiments that budding environmentalists can try. Although these activities were interesting - things like making bird seed cookies and building a worm farm, I found them intrusive to the flow of the narrative and would've preferred them to be grouped in a separate section, especially as they didn't directly connect to the text. There are plenty of photos to maintain interest and the back matter includes a timeline and glossary.

This biography serves as a fine introduction to the life and work of Rachel Carson.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

#tbt: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. 112 p. HarperCollins Publishers, July, 2001. 

#tbt features Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. This slim, emotionally resonant verse novel was published in July 2001. It is Jack's poetry journal. He's in Miss Stretchberry's fifth grade class and not at all happy to have to be keeping a journal or writing poetry!

I don't want to
because boys 
don't write poetry.

Girls do.

Over the course of the year, Miss Stretchberry shares a variety of poems with her students and Jack writes in his joural - grudgingly at first. Gradually, he finds his voice.

I adore this book and its companion, Hate That Cat. Love That Dog was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal, won the Christopher Award, multiple state book awards and was named an ALA Notable book.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: Paper Heart by Cat Patrick

Paper Heart by Cat Patrick. 288 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 11, 2021. 9781984815347.

Waiting on Wednesday features Paper Heart by Cat Patrick. This is a companion novel to Ms. Patrick's Tornado Brain.

Publisher synopsis: Tess has always understood her role in her family. She is supposed to be the "okay" one. The one no one has to worry about. But all Tess does is worry, constantly picking at her fingers every time a new worry arises. Still grieving her best friend's death, she is consumed by the fear that everything was her fault and her sadness that Colette is never coming back. Worse still, it seems like everyone else has found a way to move on, even her twin sister Frankie. When her mom decides a change of location might do her good, Tess finds herself on an airplane bound for her aunt's house in small town Wyoming and a summer vacation attending art camp.

Tess thinks she might never be able to move on from losing Colette but her quirky but determined cousin Kennedy and new friend Izzy are determined to help. When Tess becomes convinced that Colette's ghost might be haunting her, Kennedy and Izzy find new ways for Tess to make peace with the past and finally let go of the grief that has been haunting her heart.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~13 hours, 48 minutes. Read by Avi Roque. Macmillan Audio, September, 2020. 9781250619129. (Review of downloadable e-audiobook borrowed from the public library.)

Teen Tuesday features Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. Sixteen-year-old Yadriel is a transgender boy who lives in a cemetery with his extended family of brujas and brujos. He is determined to become a brujo, even though his father does not acknowledge him as his son. He held a secret initiation ceremony with his best friend, Maritza. After his cousin is brutally murdered, the brujos set out to find his ghost in order to set him free. Yadriel hopes to find his cousin in order to prove himself to his father. Instead, he accidentally summons Julian, a bad-boy classmate who was also murdered around the same time. Julian has unfinished business and no idea who killed him. He teams up with Yadriel and Maritza to find out. 

This deeply nuanced and sparkling debut was such a surprise to me - suspenseful and laugh-out-loud funny as well as tear-inducing! I loved this book and highly recommend it to mature teen readers. The East LA Latinx community is vividly drawn. The magic is oh-so-believable. The characters are unique and memorable. I really did not want this story to end. I was happy to learn that the author might be working on a sequel of sorts. 

I must admit that I had to get used to the narrator's staccato delivery. I thought that I inadvertently upped the speed of audiobook. I soon got used to it. There's an absolutely adorable interview/ love fest between the narrator and the author at the end of the audiobook. 

The Cemetery Boys is a first-purchase for any collection serving teen readers. 

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. Unabridged e-audiobook. ~ 6 hours. Read by Greta Jung. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House, January, 2020. 9780593155455. (Review of downloadable e-audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Happy Monday! I enjoyed the wintery sunshine this weekend and took lots of walks with Boo! I hope your weekend was fantastic.

Middle Grade Monday features When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller. Lily's widowed mother has decided to move the family of three from California to Sunbeam, Washington to care for Lily's grandmother, whose health is declining. Lily loves Halmoni, especially her stories, but she wants to stay in California for seventh grade, not start all over in Washington. Lily has a superpower though. She can become invisible - the QAG - quiet Asian girl. She's so unlike Sam, who is outgoing and can make friends anywhere.

When Lily sees a tiger at the side of the road near Halmoni's house and the tiger seems to be watching Lily, she knows Halmoni will understand the meaning. Instead, Halmoni tells Lily that the tiger is after her because she stole something from her long ago and now the tiger is back to reclaim what was stolen. Lily and her new friend, Ricky set out to trap a tiger.

Fans of magical realism will adore this exquisitely written story-within-a-story. If you loved Where the Mountain Meets the Moon or The Girl Who Swallowed the Moon, you will love When You Trap a Tiger. Warning: I was a weeping mess near the end, so make sure there are tissues handy. There has been a bit of Newbery buzz around this one and deservedly so.

The narrator's performance was well-paced and she had distinct voices for the different characters as well as for the tiger folk tale that interspersed the narrative. My only question has to do with her pronunciation of Halmoni. It sounded like Harmony and when I looked up the pronunciation online, each source pronounced it the l. 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

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 got a package from Scholastic this week containing a YA, a MG and a nonfiction arc!

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan. 250 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., April 6, 2021. 9781338580877.

Publisher synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family's dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara's house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara's entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she's ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Crocodile Rescue! by Melissa Christina Márquez. Wild Survival #1. 240 p. Scholastic Inc., February 2, 2021. 9781338635058.

Publisher synopsis: Twelve-year-old Adrianna Villalobos and her older brother Feye travel the globe with their parents, the hosts of a suspenseful nature show called "Wild Survival!" The show features daring animal rescues and the work the family does at their animal sanctuary. They've recently gotten an offer to take the show from YouTube to a TV network, and Adrianna is thrilled. So far, she's always been behind the scenes, but now she gets to join the rest of her family onscreen. She can't wait to bring her passion for animals to a wide audience.

Their first stop is the lush mangrove forests of Cuba, where they're going to help rescue an injured crocodile. But things get off to a rocky start when Feye is injured in an accident partially caused by Adrianna. The status of the show is in jeopardy, and Adrianna's parents want her back behind the scenes, or maybe even back at home.

Adrianna is determined to prove herself, and save the show-whatever it takes. Even if that means confronting the legendary Mega Croc of Cuba that's rumored to inhabit the murky waters around their base camp.

Based on the author's real-life wildlife encounters, this middle-grade series will include real animal facts, light illustration of the creatures mentioned in each book, and an Author's Note from Melissa.

The Beekeepers: how humans changed the world of bumble bees by Dana L. Church. 320 p. Scholastic Focus/ Scholastic Inc., March 1, 2021. 9781338565546.

Publisher synopsis: Bumble bees are as familiar to most of us as the flowers these fuzzy insects feed upon. But did you know that the bees in your garden could be escapees from a local greenhouse, or descended from stowaways on a Viking ship?

Bumble bees are a vital part of our lives and Earth’s ecosystems, so much so that we’ve commercialized their breeding and shipped them across states, countries, and ecosystems for our benefit. However, all of that human interference has consequences. Bumble bees are pushing out native species and altering ecosystems worldwide. Pesticide use has led to the spread of disease in local colonies. And some species may be disappearing entirely.

The Beekeepers is an expertly researched overview of bumble bees — from hive hierarchies to how their brains work — and the passionate humans and scientists who are fighting for their survival. With a thoughtful and accessible voice, researcher Dana Church introduces readers to the fascinating world of bumble bees, how and why some are thriving while others are floundering, and how both experts and regular citizens are working to ensure their future. Equal parts endearing, frustrating, and hopeful, this scientific narrative is essential for readers looking to understand and make an impact on our changing world.

Purchased: Nothing. Yet. I did receive some AZ gift cards from some students though.

Thanks for stopping by! Leave a link to your Stacking post and I will stop by! Happy reading!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Fact Friday: The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears by Sandra Markle

The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears by Sandra Markle. 40 p. Sandra Markle's Science Discovery Series. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, September, 2020. 9781541581258. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Friday! We made it! It's a beautiful morning with a crescent moon rising in a clear, star-filled sky. Enjoy the day.

Fact Friday features The Great Bear Rescue: Saving the Gobi Bears by Sandra Markle. I have never associated bear habitats with deserts. Have you? Acclaimed science writer, Sandra Markle, introduces us to the endangered species, Gobi bears, in this beautifully designed book filled with lots of full-color photos of the bears as well as of the conservation scientists attempting to save them. It is estimated that there are only forty bears left in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. While climate change is impacting their chances for survival, illegal gold mining in the region is also having an impact. "Ninja miners" sneak into the desert and dig deep holes in their search for gold. Bears and other wildlife can tumble into those holes and the water that collects there is poisonous. 

Ms. Markle's eloquent text endears and educates. There are interviews with the scientists, helpful maps and useful back matter. The volume concludes with a reminder to readers to also not forget the polar bear. This book is part of a series called Sandra Markle's Science Discoveries. Any new book by Ms. Markle is an automatic purchase for me and should be for anyone who curates a school, public or classroom library collection. Happy reading!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

#tbt: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. 256 p. Square Fish/ Macmillan, 1999.

#tbt features When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. This is the story of Toby Wilson's summer in 1971. It's a sad one for sure. His mother left the family for good and his best friend's brother comes home from Vietnam in a coffin. And then, a trailer festooned with Christmas lights rolls into town towed by a blue Thunderbird. After it is parked in the Dairy Maid parking lot, a sign goes up proclaiming that the "fattest boy in the world" lives in the trailer. For $2, the fine residents of Antler, Texas can take a peek. Toby joins the line with his best friend, Cal.

This quirky novel was Ms. Holt's second and won the National Book Award in 1999. It was adapted for film in 2003. If you are a thoughtful reader who likes quiet novels, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town will steal your heart. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Waiting on Wednesday: The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt

The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt. 320 p. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/ Macmillan Publisher, January 12, 2021. 9781250234100.

Happy Wednesday! While I am glad to be back with my students, it has been hared settling back into my school routine. I will admit that I am not yet used to sitting on Zoom for hour-long stretches. I have everyone get up and stretch halfway through our class and pretty much encourage them to move as necessary throughout the class. Virtual learning is so hard! My dog, Boo, has been pouting. He got used to lots of outdoor time and long walks over the the break. He follows me everywhere. On Monday morning, he followed me upstairs and then stopped dead in the doorway of the room I virtual teach from. I had to coax him in and, after receiving a treat, he plopped on the floor with his back to me.

Waiting on Wednesday features The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas by Kimberly Willis Holt. This is a companion novel of sorts to Ms. Holt's National Book Award-winning, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Here's the publisher synopsis: Decades after the Vietnam War and Toby’s life-changing summer with Zachary Beaver, Toby’s daughter Rylee is at a crossroads—her best friend Twig has started pushing her away just as Joe, a new kid from New York, settles into their small town of Antler. Rylee befriends Joe and learns that Joe’s father was a first responder on 9/11. The two unlikely friends soon embark on a project to find Zachary Beaver and hopefully reconnect him with Rylee's father almost thirty years later.

This beautiful middle grade novel is a tribute to friendships—old and new—and explores the challenges of rebuilding what may seem lost or destroyed.

I can't wait to read this and we don't need to wait long! The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas releases next Tuesday and I am using one of the AZ gift cards I received for the holiday to buy it! After I read it, it will go in a box of books I'm donating to our library's collection. I donate a fair number of books to the collection each year, but this year, I received $0 to buy new books. Hopefully, my budget will be restored next year.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord.  Unabridged digital audiobook. ~ 10 hours. Read by Dan Bittner and Emily Shaffer. Macmillan Young Listeners, 2020. 9781250262752. (Review of downloadable e-audiobook borrowed from public library)

Teen Tuesday feature Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. Fans of romance will just eat up this updated twist on You've Got Mail. 
Seventeen-year-old Pepper was unwillingly transplanted to New York City from Nashville four years earlier when her mom's burger joint, Big League Burger hit the big time. Even though the franchise has someone to manage their social media, it's Pepper that they and her mom turn to. She's a genius at managing - the great grades, the swim team, almost anything but navigating the streets of New York and friendship.

Jack lives in the shadow of his identical twin brother, Ethan. Jack can't understand Ethan's gravitational pull. He's also resentful of having to constantly cover for his twin working the family business - a small East Village deli called Girl Cheesing. When Big League Burger announces a new menu item on Twitter that looks like it has been stolen from Girl Cheesing, Jack fires off a tweet. And then, it's war.

The two classmates don't realize at first that they are behind the tweets that launched the war. They also don't realize that they've gotten close corresponding on an app that Jack developed called Weazel, where classmates get to connect anonymously before the app reveals their identities.

While there's a lot a angsty fun, this is not a totally breezey romance. Debut author, Ms. Lord does a deep-dive into the myriad of issues the use and mis-use of social media have spawned. The novel is also peopled with interesting characters and an energetic New York vibe. It's a story that keeps the reader guessing to its inevitable romantic end. Warning though: don't read while hungry. I've been on a grilled cheese kick since reading this.

Tweet Cute was such so refreshing and delightful. I'm eager to read more from Ms. Lord. 

The audiobook performances were well-paced. Both narrators sounded appropriately young and engaging. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Middle Grade Monday: Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. 240 p. First: Second/ Macmillan Publishers, February, 2020. 9781250171113. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy Monday! Break is over and the hybrid students & teachers are back in school. I am back on Zoom with hybrid student on their virtual day. I enjoyed/ needed this break. I read a lot, cooked a lot, ate a lot, cleaned out some closets and enjoyed long walks with my dog. 

Middle Grade Monday features Snapdragon by Kat Leyh. If you love magical realism, feisty, curious characters and graphic novels, then Snapdragon is the book for you!

Snapdragon Bloom, Snap for short, lives with her single mom in a trailer park. Her mom recently kicked out her abusive boyfriend, but he left his dog, Good Boy. When Good Boy goes missing, Snap finds him near the home of the town's witch, Jacks. He's missing a leg and Snap believes the witch had something to do with it. Turns out, Good Boy was hit by a car. Jacks rescued him and nursed him back to health. Snap agrees to help Jacks with her admittedly creepy but non-magical work of collecting road kill to reconstruct skeletons to sell online. In exchange Jacks will help snap care for a litter of orphaned opossums. As the two grow close, Snap realize that Jacks and she may have a connection and Jacks does, indeed, have magic.

This graphic novel was such a delight! The art is gorgeous and the characters are so quirky and memorable. A bit of humor, a bit of creepiness, and a bit menace all add up to a unique, refreshing read. Snapdragon is definitely a first-purchase!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Picture Book Review: The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins & her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull

The Only Woman in the Photo: Frances Perkins & her New Deal for America by Kathleen Krull. Illustrated by Alexandra Bye. unpgd. Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster, February, 2020. 9781481491518. (Review of finished copy courtesy of an author giveaway.)

Regular readers of this blog probably know about my sixth grade picture book biography unit (on hiatus this year since I am teaching fifth and sixth grade LA virtually) and know that I'm always on the lookout for more picture book biographies to add to my cart. Some time ago, author Kathleen Krull hosted a giveaway of this book. I admire Ms. Krull's work and have a few of her excellent picture book biographies in my cart, so I entered. I usually forget about these entries because I rarely win.

I won! I was so surprised when this picture book arrived in my mail!

Frances Perkins was a shy child who took her grandmother's advice to heart. "When someone opens a door to you, go forward." She realized that she needed to speak up for those who had no voice. And speak up she did. After working as a social worker and workplace safety investigator, she was appointed to the first female Secretary of Labor by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her advocacy for the poor led to many of FDR's New Deal programs. 

The text is informative and accessible and the illustrations are cartoonish and appealing from the embossed cover through to the end-pages. Back matter includes an afterword with more information about Frances Perkins and sources. This will be a fantastic addition to the cart.

Friday, January 1, 2021

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Happy New Year! 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:

Kingston and the Magician's Lost and Found by  Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi. 280 p. G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Random House, February 16, 2021. 9780525526866.

Publisher synopsis: Magic has all but disappeared in Brooklyn, but one tenacious young magician is determined to bring it back in this exciting middle grade mystery.
Kingston has just moved from the suburbs back to Echo City, Brooklyn–the last place his father was seen alive. Kingston’s father was King Preston, one of the world’s greatest magicians. Until one trick went wrong and he disappeared. Now that Kingston is back in Echo City, he’s determined to find his father.

Somehow, though, when his father disappeared, he took all of Echo City’s magic with him. Now Echo City–a ghost of its past–is living up to its name. With no magic left, the magicians have packed up and left town and those who’ve stayed behind don’t look too kindly on any who reminds them of what they once had.

When Kingston finds a magic box his father left behind as a clue, Kingston knows there’s more to his father’s disappearance than meets the eye. He’ll have to keep it a secret–that is, until he can restore magic to Echo City. With his cousin Veronica and childhood friend Too Tall Eddie, Kingston works to solve the clues, but one wrong move and his father might not be the only one who goes missing.

Purchased: My school's PTO had a virtual Scholastic Book Fair in mid-December. The chair of the fair suggested that I create a "wallet" for TMS library that parents could choose to donate to, so that I could buy some books for the library! Some parents, a colleague and I donated and I was able to purchase these fantastic books. 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the deep end by Jeff Kinney. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series #15. 218 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, October, 2020. 9781419748684.

Publisher synopsis: Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip, ​ready for the adventure of a lifetime. 

But things take an unexpected turn, and they find themselves stranded at an RV park that’s not exactly a summertime paradise. When the skies open up and the water starts to rise, the Heffleys wonder if they can save their vacation—or if they’re already in too deep.

The Baby-Sitters Club: Logan likes Mary Anne! by Ann M. Martin. Illustrated by Gale Galligan. The Babysitters Club Graphix #8. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., September, 2020. 9781338304541.

Publisher synopsis:It's the first day of a new school year, and while Mary Anne doesn't know what to expect from the eighth grade, she's looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. One thing she definitely doesn't expect is to meet Logan Bruno, who just moved to Stoneybrook!

Logan has a dreamy southern accent, he's awfully cute... and he might be interested in joining the BSC. But the baby-sitters aren't sure if Logan would make a good club member, so they send him on a job with Mary Anne as a test. Logan and Mary Anne hit it off, but Mary Anne isn't sure of where their friendship could go. Life in the Baby-sitters Club has never been this complicated — or this fun!

Wings of Fire: the graphic novel: The Dark Secret by Tui Sutherland. Illustrated by Mike Holmes. Wings of Fire Graphic Novel series #4. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., December, 2020. 9781338344219.

Publisher synopsis: In the shadows, trouble is brewing. . .

The mysterious NightWings keep everything hidden, from their home and their queen to their allegiance in the war. Now they've kidnapped their own dragonet of destiny, and Starflight is finally meeting the rest of his tribe — whether he wants to or not.

The NightWings have also kidnapped several innocent RainWings, now trapped in the dark, barren, miserable place that is the NightWing kingdom. Starflight wants to help the RainWings, but he's busy saving his own scales and trying to find a way back to his friends. The fate of two kingdoms rests in his talons, and with no one to save him, Starflight will have to find a way to be brave . . . before it's too late.

The Witches: the graphic novel by Roald Dahl. Adapted and illustrated by Pénélope Bagieu. 298 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc. September, 2020. 9781338677430.

Publisher synopsis: Most people don’t know that witches wear ordinary clothes and have ordinary jobs. They live in ordinary towns all across the world—and there’s nothing they despise more than children. When an eight-year-old boy and his grandmother come face-to-face with the Grand High Witch herself, they may be the only people who can stop the witches’ latest plot to stamp out every last child in the country.

This full-color graphic-novel edition of Roald Dahl’s The Witches is the first-ever Dahl story to appear in this format. Graphic-novel readers and Roald Dahl fans alike will relish this dynamic new take on a uniquely funny tale.

Joey: a baby koala and his mother by Nic Bishop. unpgd. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc.,  September, 2020. 9780545206402.

Publisher synopsis: High above the ground, in the shade of a eucalyptus tree, Joey the baby koala wakes up hungry! Crawling over his sleeping mom, Joey goes exploring...only to find that his mother's arms is where he's supposed to be after all.

Featuring simple text and stunning photographs of a rare interaction between a koala and her little one, award-winning author-photographer Nic Bishop brings nature to life for the youngest children. Perfect for laptime reading, this visual treat in the style of Bishop's acclaimed Red-Eyed Tree Frog includes fun facts about koalas and their habitat.

The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling. 304 p. Scholastic Inc., November, 2020. 9781338732870.

Publisher synopsis: Once upon a time there was a tiny kingdom called Cornucopia, as rich in happiness as it was in gold, and famous for its food. From the delicate cream cheeses of Kurdsburg to the Hopes–of–Heaven pastries of Chouxville, each was so delicious that people wept with joy as they ate them.

But even in this happy kingdom, a monster lurks. Legend tells of a fearsome creature living far to the north in the Marshlands… the Ickabog. Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it's just a myth…

And when that myth takes on a life of its own, casting a shadow over the kingdom, two children — best friends Bert and Daisy — embark on a great adventure to untangle the truth and find out where the real monster lies, bringing hope and happiness to Cornucopia once more.

Featuring full color illustrations by children from across the United States and Canada, this original fairy tale from one of the world’s most celebrated storytellers will captivate readers of all ages.

Shadowshaper Legacy by Daniel José Older. The Shadowshaper Cypher #3. 432 p. January, 2020. 9780545953009.

Publisher synopsis: A war is brewing among the different Houses, some of Sierra's shadowshapers are still in jail, and the House of Shadow and Light has been getting threatening messages from whisper wraiths, and even though one spy was exposed Sierra is not quite sure who she can trust but the deal with Death made by one of her ancestors has given her power, and she will need to control it and confront her family's past if she has any hope of saving the future.

New York Times bestselling author Daniel José Older spins a masterful conclusion to his evocative and captivating series.

Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly. 320 p. Scholastic Inc. October, 2020. 9781338268492.

Publisher synopsis: Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen's huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife… and took Sophie's heart.
It shouldn't have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she'd heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong…

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can't extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength.

The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road by Man Brallier. Illustrated by Douglas Holgate. Last Kids on Earth series #6. 320 p. Viking Books/ Penguin Random House, September, 2020. 9781984835345.

Publisher synopsis: Jack Sullivan, Quint Baker, June Del Toro, and Dirk Savage are about to have their biggest adventure yet. That's right—it's ROAD TRIP TIME!

Now wielding the Midnight Blade, Jack Sullivan and the gang are furiously searching for the villainous Thrull and his skeleton army. The clock is ticking: the enemy has begun constructing the Tower—a portal with the power to bring Rezzoch the Ancient, Destructor of Worlds, to our dimension. Equipped with a crucial clue discovered by June on her Wild Flight, the group does the once-unthinkable: they leave Wakefield behind and embark on an EPIC ROAD TRIP! That means music blasting, kitschy roadside attractions, snacks snacks snacks, dangerous detours, and a slew of zombies and monsters at every turn. But this is no ordinary post-apocalyptic joyride. Because soon, they are pursued by a new threat: the return of a monster they thought long dead, who has taken on a terrifying new form. Jack, June, Quint, and Dirk will be lucky to make it far enough to find the answers they seek. But when the future of the world depends on it, these heroes don't pump the brakes—they go full throttle.

The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen. The Ascendance Trilogy #4. 384 p. Scholastic Inc., October, 2020. 9781338551082.

Publisher synopsis: In a peaceful Carthya, Jaron leads as the Ascendant King with Imogen beside him — but the peace he fought so long for is not destined to last.

On a routine sea voyage, Jaron's ship is brutally attacked, and he is taken hostage. The mysterious captors and their leader, Jane Strick, accuse Jaron of unthinkable acts. They are also in possession of some shocking items — including the crown and sword that belonged to Jaron's older brother, Darius. The items unearth a past Jaron thought he had put behind him.

Though it seems impossible, Jaron must consider: Could Darius be alive? And what does Strick want from Jaron? Against his will, Jaron will be pulled back into a fight for the throne — and a battle to save his kingdom.

Connect the Dots by Keith Calabrese. 240 p. Scholastic Inc., May, 2020. 9781338354034.

Publisher synopsis: Is there anything more random than middle school? Sixth graders Oliver and Frankie don't think so. Their first few weeks have been full of weirdness — lunchtime thievery, free beef jerky, and Matilda, the mysterious new girl who knows everything about them, but has a lot to learn about making friends.

But what if none of it is random at all? What if a reclusive genius is keeping an eye on them and making sure the tiny pieces of his puzzle fall into place, one by one, until strange, seemingly unconnected incidents snowball totally out of control? Imagine the odds! First a cardamom shortage takes down the school bully. Then a giant dog leads to some extracurricular spying. Soon Oliver is being followed and Matilda is hacking the FBI. And by the time they discover a gang of angry clowns and the world's largest game of Mousetrap, an insanely brilliant plan has been set in motion that will change their lives forever.

Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan. Nat Enough series #1. 240 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2020. 9781338538199

Publisher synopsis: 
Natalie has never felt that she's enough — athletic enough, stylish enough, or talented enough. And on the first day of middle school, Natalie discovers that things are worse than she thought — now she's not even cool enough for her best friend, Lily! As Natalie tries to get her best friend back, she learns more about her true self and natural talents. If Natalie can focus on who she is rather than who she isn't, then she just might realize she's more than enough, just the way she is.

Heartstopper: volume 1 by Alice Oseman. Heartstopper series #1. 288 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., May, 2020. 9781338617436.

Publisher synopsis: Shy and softhearted Charlie Spring sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson in class one morning. A warm and intimate friendship follows, and that soon develops into something more for Charlie, who doesn't think he has a chance.

But Nick is struggling with feelings of his own, and as the two grow closer and take on the ups and downs of high school, they come to understand the surprising and delightful ways in which love works.

I actually reviewed this as an arc and wanted to purchase a finished copy for my collection.

If you leave a comment, leave the link to your stack. I will pop by and to check out your stack!