Wednesday, April 27, 2022

#tbt: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney - Going Strong for Fifteen Years!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. 224 p. Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1. April, 2007. 9781419741852. (Own.)

#tbt celebrates the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. This hilarious illustrated novel hit the ground running. Greg Heffley is at once relatable and obnoxious as a sixth grader who just can't get a break. He's mistreated by his older brother, embarrassed by his parents and constantly upstaged by his baby brother. He does have one friend in Rowley, but when Rowley's popularity seems to rise, Greg is not happy.

The book grew out of a series of webcomics at Originally, three books were planned, but sixteen have since been published. The series is beloved by all kinds of readers, but especially by readers who love to laugh. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel. 400 p. Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House Children's Books, September 6, 2022. 9780593487938.

Publisher synopsis: One teen’s summer job scaring tourists with ghost stories takes a terrifying turn when he accidentally summons the spirit of a dead girl—and she has demands. . . .

The award-winning author of Airborn delivers a roller-coaster ride of a story about the wakeful and wicked dead.

Rebecca Strand was just sixteen when she and her father fell to their deaths from the top of the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1839. Just how they fell—or were they pushed?—remains a mystery. And their ghosts haunt the lighthouse to this day. . . .

Gabe tells this story every day when he gives the ghost tour on Toronto Island. He tries to make it scary enough to satisfy the tourists, but he doesn’t actually believe in ghosts—until he finds himself face to face with Rebecca Strand.

The true story of her death is far more terrifying than any ghost tale Gabe has told. Rebecca reveals that her father was a member of the Order, a secret society devoted to protecting the world from “the wakeful and wicked dead”—malevolent spirits like Viker, the ghost responsible for their deaths. But the Order has disappeared, and Viker’s ghost is growing ever stronger.

Now Gabe and his friends must find a way to stop Viker before they all become lost souls. . .

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~11 hours. Read by Michael Crouch, Megan Tusing, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Candace Thaxton. Simon & Schuster Audio, November, 2021. 9781797133416. (Review of e-audio borrowed from the public library.)

Teen Tuesday features a thriller/ allegory by the father-son writing team that brought us Dry. In their latest collaboration, entitled Roxy inspired by the opioid crisis, they personify the drugs, Oxycontin and Adderall, two medications that can be therapeutic, but also are also addictive. The multiple perspectives shift between Roxy and Addison in the first-person and siblings Isaac and Ivy in the third. The reader knows that one of the siblings will die from page one. Then, the story flashes back to several months earlier. Isaac injures himself in a scuffle with her drug-dealing boyfriend while retrieving his hard-partying sister, Ivy from a party. He's an honor student and athlete with hopes to earn a soccer scholarship to college. He has to play through his injury, so his nana gives him one of her pain pills. It works, and Isaac is able to play. Meanwhile, Ivy decides to buckle down and catch up with her schoolwork, so she agrees to take Adderall for her ADHD. The results are remarkable. She's able to focus and stay on task.

Roxy and Addison have other plans for the pair though. They make a friendly wager to see who will be the first to bring their plus-ones to the "party," where they will be tempted by stronger substances. Suspense builds as Isaac becomes dependent on Roxy and Ivy seems to turn her life around.

This character-driven novel is fast-paced and raw. The narrative style of each reader is pitch perfect. Mature teen readers, especially fans of Dry, will marvel at the world the Misters Shusterman have created-one in which good people make bad choices.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Middle Grade Monday and Audio Review: Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

Hardcover Image: Macmillan

Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker (HC illustrated by Junyi Wu.) Unabridged audiobook, ~7 hours. Read by the author. Recorded Books, August, 2020. (Review of e-audio downloaded from the public library. Own HC)

Happy Monday! My spring break is over! It was relaxing and filled with books, long dog walks, yard clean-up and family visits.

Middle Grade Monday features Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker and illustrated by Junyi Wu. This collection of connected scary stories is not for the faint of heart. Seven fox kits disobey their mother and trek into the woods to visit an old vixen.They want to hear her scary stories, and she delivers. First, she tells the story of Mia, who survives an attack by her teacher, Miss Vix, who has rabies and infects Mia's other siblings and forcing Mia and her mother to flee. Next, she tells the story of Uly, the lone male kit born in a litter of seven, but born with a deformed front paw. His sisters not only tease him mercilessly over it, but also steal his food in order to starve him. As each story draws to a close, there is one less fox kit remaining to listen until a single kit remains. 

These are scary!. Not ghost scary, but real world, bad stuff can happen scary! The author's narration was understated and well-paced. Listening deprived me of the illustrations though. 

Scary Stories for Young Foxes was the author's middle grade debut and published in 2019. It earned a 2020 Newbery Honor, made the ALA Notables List and was a Booklist Editor's Choice. Last year, Scary Stories for Young Foxes: the City was published.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

What's New?

"Stacking the Shelves" was a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It seems the blog is gone though, so I will just continue to post a "What's New? post whenever I receive new books. 

For Review:

Hope Wins: A Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers edited by Rose Brock. Philomel/ Penguin Young Readers, May 10, 2022. 9780593463932. 

Publisher synopsis: In a collection of personal stories and essays, award-winning and bestselling artists from Matt de la Peña and Veera Hiranandani to Max Brallier and R.L. Stine write about how hope always wins, even in the darkest of times.
Where does hope live?

In your family?

In your community?

In your school?

In your heart?

From a family restaurant to a hot-dog shaped car, from an empty road on a moonlight night to a classroom holiday celebration, this anthology of personal stories from award-winning and bestselling authors, shows that hope can live everywhere, even—or especially—during the darkest of times.

No matter what happens: Hope wins.

Contributors include: Tom Angleberger, James Bird, Max Brallier, Julie Buxbaum, Pablo Cartaya, J.C. Cervantes, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Stuart Gibbs, Adam Gidwitz, Karina Yan Glaser, Veera Hiranandani, Hena Khan, Gordon Korman, Janae Marks, Sarah Mlynowski, Rex Ogle, James Ponti, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Ronald L.Smith, Christina Soontornvat, and R.L. Stine.

The Snowy Owl Scientist by Mark Wilson. 96 p. Scientists in the Field series. Clarion Books/ HarperCollins, April 19, 2022. 9780358329596.

Publisher synopsis: Are the snowy owls in trouble? Venture into the Alaskan arctic and the summer realm of these predator birds to find out. Discover the diverse species necessary to owl survival, how climate change is affecting the landscape of their nesting site of past millennia, and what it takes to do field research in this action-packed addition to the award-winning Scientists in the Field series.

It's July on Alaska's North Slope, and scientist Denver Holt is in Utqiagvik surveying nests. Denver has been coming here since 1992, and the snowy owls he studies have been coming here much longer: thousands of years.

With its mix of coastal, low-elevation tundra and a rich presence of lemmings, the North Slope is the only area in Alaska where snowy owls regularly nest. How do snowy owls decide where they will nest? How do they manage to arrive at locations where food will be abundant? What drives the success of these delicate tundra ecosystems? These are the mysteries Denver is trying to solve to help ensure a bright future for these elegant hunters.

Is that cover not the most beautiful thing to behold? I love it.

Purchased: nothing!

What's in your mailbox this week?

Friday, April 22, 2022

Fact Friday: And We Rise: the Civil Rights Movement in Poems by Erica Martin

And We Rise: the Civil Rights Movement in Poems by Erica Martin. 154 p. Viking/ Penguin Young Readers, February, 2022. 9780593352526. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy Friday! So my break is winding down and I didn't read as much as I wanted, but got a lot of decluttering work done around my house. I also had the windows and carpets cleaned and the tile floor was waxed by a guy I have been using for more than 30 years. I also had some tree work done. My husband is probably rolling over in his ashes because he was adamantly opposed to any tree removal. In fact, he bought a special tow cable and used his Jeep to yank a fallen fir back upright, then attached the cable to a nearby maple tree to keep it standing. Needless to say, it didn't thrive. I feel like I'm living in a new house. 

Fact Friday features And We Rise: the Civil Rights Movement in Poems by Erica Martin. In her debut collection of poetry, Ms. Martin combines her love of writing and U.S. History to walk young readers through the Civil Rights Movement from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which ruled "separate but equal" unconstitutional. Not much changed in the Jim Crow south despite the ruling. And then, the marching started.

The poems use a variety of forms and effective use of white space and are accompanied by black and white historical photos from the era. A timeline follows an author's note and each poem is sourced. There are suggestions for further reading and bonus content.

There are many powerful moments in this spare collection. It's unusual, yet effective.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

#tbt: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Uglies series #1. 425 p. Simon Pulse/ Simon & Schuster, 2005. (Own.)

Happy Thursday TMS! Spring break is winding down for me and the weather finally got nice yesterday. I had hoped to get into the yard this break; instead, I've been continuing my decluttering of 36+ years in a house.

#tbt features Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Uglies was published in 2005 and is book one of what was originally called the Uglies Trilogy, but eventually expanded to become a quartet. and then Later, it was spun off into another series, the Imposters, set in the same world and, most recently, a new series featuring the main character, Tally Youngblood was published.

Three hundred years in the future, the population is segregated by age with the youngest members growing up with the Littles before transferring to the Uglies to spend their tween years till the age of 16, when they transfer to the Pretties island, undergo extensive cosmetic surgery and live a life of continual partying. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Main character, Tally Youngblood cannot wait to become a pretty. She misses her best friend, Peris, who turned sixteen before her, so she swims across the river with the hope of seeing him. Instead, she meets Shay, who has no desire to turn Pretty and may or may not be working with a group of likeminded runaways who have formed a settlement called, the Smoke.

This dystopian is on the long side, but the action and themes of identity, beauty and humanity keep the reader engrossed and panting for the second book, Pretties, as Uglies does end in a memorable cliffhanger.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Dinged by Tommy Greenwald

Dinged (A Game Changer Companion Novel) by Tommy Greenwald. 288 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams Publishers, September 6, 2022. 9781419755156.

Publisher synopsis: A star football player watches his father deteriorate from injuries he suffered playing the very same sport

Caleb Springer is the up-and-coming star freshman quarterback on the high school football team, which isn't a surprise considering his dad, Sammy Springer, was an NFL superstar and is now the town celebrity. College scouts are already snooping around Caleb, and his future seems set.

But just as Caleb’s glory days begin, his dad starts to change. He’s forgetting things and getting angry at random times. Caleb is forced to confront a bleak possibility: The sport that gives him so much status and self-worth might be the cause of his dad’s strange behavior. Will Caleb keep playing the sport of his dreams, even if he knows how dangerous it can be?

I really enjoy Tommy Greenwald's books. While most definitely veer toward breezy and funny, Game Changer was intense and emotional. Looking forward to this and I love the cover.

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~7 hours. Read by Mitra Jouhari. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House Audio, May, 2021. 9780593411483. (Review of e-audio downloaded from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi. This breezy first-person narrative features fourteen-year-old Parvin (pronounced Par-VEEN, not Par-vin) Mohammedi, who is starting high school thinking she will rock it and is crushed when her new boyfriend dumps her at orientation because she's "too much." What does that even mean? Luckily, she has two bffs to turn to for comfort and she video chats with her college-aged aunt in Tehran, Iran regularly and her parents are supportive even if they do work long hours and don't cook much. When she spies her ex holding hands with another girl, she blurts out that she has a date for homecoming. Now all she needs to do is tone herself down and emulate all the white girls in her favorite rom-coms-be quiet and demure, not hairy and no snort-laughing. oh, yeah, and snag a date for homecoming so she can save face.

Her friends Fabian and Ruth and her aunt all tell her not to change herself-that she should be liked for who she is, but Parvin is wrestling with being bi-racial. She looks nothing like her blond, blue-eyed mother and doesn't feel Iranian enough, especially in Farsi school, where she struggles to learn the language.

Parvin is perfectly entertaining as she blunders her way through a variety of cringeworthy, yet relatable situations. Layered inside the humor are her deft observations of Islamophobia, micro-aggressions and outright racism as well as the shifting sands of high school hierarchy.

Perfectly Parvin is the author's debut and a series starter, so if you like rom-coms and irrepressible characters, you're in for a treat here. I read this one with my ears and appreciated the fluency of the narrator when pronouncing Farsi. Happy reading!

Monday, April 18, 2022

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Pony by R.J. Palacio

Pony by R.J. Palacio. Unabridged e-audio book, ~7 hours. Read by Ian M. Hawkins, with Author Note read by the author. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, September, 2021. 9780593505410. (Review of e-audio borrowed from public library.)

Middle Grade Monday features Pony by R.J. Palacio. Ms. Palacio steps outside the world of Wonder in this genre-blender of historical fiction, mystery and ghost story. It is 1860 and Silas lives in the woods in Ohio with his inventor father. Silas narrates and admits that he's not your twelve-year-old. He's at once naive and wise beyond his years. His mother died when he was born. He was struck by lightning and survived and his best friend is a ghost named Mittenwool. When his father is kidnapped by three men on horseback, he tells Silas to stay put and that he would return within the week. 

The following day, one of the rider's white-faced pony returns to Silas and though he has never ridden a horse, he decides to ride the pony in search of his dad. The journey involves trekking through mysterious woods where many ghosts, some not as friendly as Mittenwool reside, but he soon meets up with a cranky, old U.S. Marshall who is tracking some counterfeiters and reluctantly brings Silas on since there might be a connection between them and Silas' dad's kidnappers. 

Some degree of suspension of belief is required here, but Pony is a satisfying read all-in-all with some surprisingly emotional moments. The narration was leisurely paced and introspective. It did take me a little while to become fully invested in the story. I am eager to hear what young readers think. The extensive author's note, read by Ms. Palacio was quite interesting. Since I read with my ears, I missed the old-timey photos that headed each chapter in the print edition.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Fact Friday: Cardboard Box Engineering: Cool, Inventive Projects for Tinkerers, Makers & Future Scientists by Jonathan Adolph

Image: Storey Publishing

Cardboard Box Engineering: Cool, Inventive Projects for Tinkerers, Makers & Future Scientists by Jonathan Adolph. 176 p. Storey Publishing, October, 2020. 9781635863604. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy Friday! Happy Pesach. Happy Easter and Ramadan Mubarak. I am so ready for this break. My two youngest sons are visiting for this weekend. #4's fiancé came as well, so I will be cooking and baking. It will be nice to have company while enduring another first. 

Fact Friday features Cardboard Box Engineering: Cool, Inventive Projects for Tinkerers, Makers & Future Scientists by Jonathan Adolph. Would-be cardboard box engineers will learn the ins and outs of working with cardboard in the first of seven chapters in this attractively design, such as what tools you need to have handy, what cardboard is and why it makes for excellent building. Six additional chapters contain instructions for building three to six themed projects. The chapter entitled "Mechanical Marvels" explores robotics and amniotronics. Other chapters explore audio and optical engineering, aeronautics and nautical engineering, mechanical engineering, ways of harnessing energy and game design. 

Templates for the projects are provided in the back along with an index and metric conversion chart. The text is concise and directions are easy to follow and step-by-step accompanied by crisp photo illustrations and schematics. Text boxes contain vocabulary, the science behind the activity and side-stories, such as the fact that the cardboard box was actually inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame! This book has Ms. Kenny's (our incredible STEM teacher) seal of approval and students will most likely find it in the STEM lab from now on.

Highly recommended addition to the STEM collection! I am now going to search out the author's earlier book, Mason Jar Science.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

#tbt: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. 342 p. The Ascendance series, #1. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2012. (Own)

Happy Thursday! I'm hanging there! April break is nearly here! Boy do I need this break. I am looking forward to being productive in the garden and in decluttering the house some more. It'll be another hard "first" holiday to get through, but two sons will be visiting 

#tbt features The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. This first-person narrative hits the ground running and will leave you guessing and gasping. Fifteen-year-old Sage is a scheming orphan at Mrs. Turbeldy's Orphanage for Disadvantaged Boys in the imaginary kingdom of Carthya. He's constantly plotting ways to subvert the rules and is intrigued when the king's regent, Conner Bevin arrives. Conner assumes he will now have to serve Bevin, but is surprised to find that Bevin has chosen three other boys as well. They learn that they will be groomed and educated enough over the next two weeks for one of them to be presented at court as the missing prince. No one in the kingdom knows that the king and queen have died. Their son, Prince Jaron ran away a few years earlier and is presumed dead-only no body was ever found. Bevin plans on ruling the kingdom through his puppet prince and plans on killing the boys who aren't chosen.

The False Prince is book one of what was The Ascendance Trilogy, but with the recent addition of a fourth book, is now a quartet. If you love a book with action, intrigue, sword-fighting and a sassy narrator, you will love this series. The book was named to quite a few State Book Awards as well as YALSA's Best Books List.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein. 208 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., August 2, 2022. 9781338194548.

Waiting on Wednesday features Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzalez and Gabriela Epstein. 

Publisher synopsis: Five students, each completely different — the brain, the rich kid, the tough kid, the jock, and the loner — are forced together to complete their school community service hours. Though school administrators gloss over these Latinx kids as all the same, the kids don't think they have anything in common with each other. None of them wants to be there, and each has their own issue they're dealing with in their life outside of school. But when they encounter someone who truly needs their help, will they be able to come together to work as a team — and help their community — after all?

By award-winning author Christina Diaz Gonzalez ("Moving Target") and illustrated by Gaby Epstein (The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel adaptations), this is a fantastic story told in English and Spanish from two incredible Latinx talents.

Teen Tuesday & Audiobook Review: Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon.

Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~7.5 hours. Read by Shahjehan Khan. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House, February, 2022. 9780593411308.

Teen Tuesday features a pensive debut, Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions by Navdeep Singh Dhillon. The only thing Sunny Gill's brother, Goldy, left him when he died a year ago was a notebook filled with ramblings. Goldy was an alcoholic who died from alcohol poisoning and while Sunny is still grieving, he's also furious at his brother for not choosing to stay sober-for making bad decisions. With prom looming on the night of Goldi's barsi, Sunny decides to make a series of rash decisions starting with ditching his turban, cutting his hair and shaving his beard and ending with attending prom alone instead of the Snollygoster Soiree with his bestie Ngozi.

He doesn't even recognize himself and is beginning to think going to prom was a huge mistake when Mindii breezes in, steals Goldy's notebook and dares him to really make good "rash" decisions. Sunny hops onto the back of Mindii's motorcycle and off into the Fresno night to make a series of rash decisions.

While fast-paced and often humorous, Sunny is introspective and wrestling with grief, insecurity due to his stutter and with his Sikh faith. Mindii is empathetic and a good listener, and as the night goes on, the two form a sweet bond as she coaxes Sunny to live a little.

I appreciated the narrator's gentle, thoughtful approach to Sunny as well as learning the proper pronunciation of Sikh and Punjabi words. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier

Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier. 144 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2019. 9781338353846. (Review of purchased copy.)

Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The weather here was quite unusual! It was supposed to rain on Saturday and be nice on Sunday. Both days were windy and raw, but the sun was definitely out more on Saturday even though it did rain at times. Neither day was particularly inviting to be in the garden, but I managed to fill six cans with yard debris. I laugh whenever I think of the time I wished for a bigger piece of property!

Middle Grade Monday features Share Your Smile: Raina's Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier. I'm not sure how I missed this book's publication in 2019, but Im glad I spotted it at our recent PTO/ Scholastic Book Fair! 

Ms. Telgemeier's books are TMS favorites and in this one, the graphic novelist shares her creative process to encourage young writers to tell their own story. There are writing prompts, family photos, step-by-step illustrations from thumbnail sketches to inking-everything a budding graphic novelist might need to know. There are also blank pages meant for the reader to sketch out ideas, but please don't write or draw in the library book, TMS Readers! Grab a separate sheet of paper to try out all of Ms. Telegemeier's ideas.

Friday, April 8, 2022

What's New?

"Stacking the Shelves" was a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It seems the blog is gone though, so I will just continue to post a "What's New? post whenever I receive new books. 

For Review:

Oceanarium by Loveday Trinick. Illustrated by Teagan White. Visit the Museum series. Candlewick Press, April 5, 2022. 9781536223811.

Publisher synopsis: This stunning new offering from the Welcome to the Museum series guides readers around the world's oceans, from sandy shorelines to the darkest depths. Learn about the ocean’s most fascinating animals, including giant whale sharks, tiny tropical fish, and majestic manatees, among many others. With expert text by marine biologist Loveday Trinick and stunning illustrations by Teagan White, travel the world from frozen Arctic seas to shimmering coral reefs, and learn why it is so important that we protect our oceans.

This stunning new offering from the Welcome to the Museum series guides readers around the world's oceans, from sandy shorelines to the darkest depths.

I have really enjoyed this series and am looking forward to reading this!


What's in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Fact Friday: Unforgotten: the Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas by Anita Silvey

Unforgotten: the Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas by Anita Silvey. 96 p. National Geographic Kids, June, 2021. 9781426371851. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy Friday! Phew! This was a long one what with horrible sleeps and weird weather. I hope the weekend weather allows for lots of walks and gardening for me. 

Fact Friday features Unforgotten: the Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save the Mountain Gorillas by Anita Silvey. This biography of the third and final member of the "Trimates," three female recruits of Louis Leakey, a famous paleoanthropologist who mentored them in their respective research fields - Jane Goodall studied chimpanzees, Biruté Mary Galdikas studied orangutans in Borneo and Dian Fossey studied gorillas. 

Dian Fossey was not a trained scientist. She was a physical therapist who worked in Louisville, Kentucky who had a lifelong dream to visit Africa. So she did. She spent all of her savings and borrowed money to trek to Africa for seven weeks. There, she fell in love with the Mountain Gorillas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). She also met Louis Leakey, who was impressed by her passion and intelligence. He raised money for her to return to DRC to set up camp and study the elusive primates. She spent the next 18 years doing so, first in DRC and then in neighboring Rwanda. She was fiercely protective of the gorillas and often clashed with poachers who set traps for the creatures.

Informative and well-organized, succinct text pair with amazing photographs and maps! The back matter is just terrific starting with field notes, mini-bios of eight of Fossey's gorillas, a timeline, a key to plants, books, articles, websites and film suggestions for further research, source notes, an endnote and an author's note add interest.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

#tbt: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. 240 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, March, 2004, 9780399238611. (Own)

#tbt wishes a belated happy 18th anniversary to Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. Moose Flanagan became a character of my heart once I read this compelling and gently humorous historical fiction. 

When Moose's dad finds a job as an electrician/ prison guard on Alcatraz Island during the Great Depression, he has to agree to live in housing that is provided for the employees of the prison. This means that Moose and the other children who reside on the island have to catch a boat each morning to attend school in San Fransisco. Moose is younger brother to Natalie, but more like her protector/ care taker. She is what we now know is autistic, and requires admission to a special school. When admission is denied, the family is faced with a dilemma as Natalie is incapable of following the rules of Alcatraz and breaking them comes with severe, sometimes dangerous consequences. 

Al Capone Does My Shirts was Ms. Choldenko's second novel and is the first in the "Tales from Alcatraz" series. It won a 2005 Newbery Honor and was an ALA Notable Book. It won a California Young Reader medal and a Garden State (NJ) Book Award. 

If you like impeccably researched and interesting historical fiction, you will love Al Capone Does My Shirts! Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Attack of the Black Rectangles by A.S. King

Attack of the Black Rectangles by A.S. King. 272 p. Scholastic Inc., September 6, 2022. 9781338680522.

Waiting on Wednesday features an upcoming book that is unfortunately timely considering the recent rash of book banning that is taking place across the country. Attack of the Black Rectangles by A.S. King will release on September 6. 

Publisher synopsis: Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write.

When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen's The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he's outraged.

Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.

But who?

Even though his unreliable dad tells him to not get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal's office to protest the censorship... but her response doesn't take them seriously.

So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself.

Mac's about to see the power of letting them out.

In Attack of the Black Rectangles, acclaimed author Amy Sarig King shows all the ways truth can be hard... but still worth fighting for.

Teen Tuesday: Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

Me (Moth) by Amber McBride. 248 p. Fewer & Friends/ Macmillan Publishers, August, 2021. 9781250780362. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy late Tuesday! Did anyone notice I didn't post this morning? The reason is that I am a bit behind in my YA reading. Well, that's not totally true. I've been reading YA, but I haven't been able to recommend the titles, because they've been for more mature teens. So I've fallen behind in my middle school YA. I began this book yesterday hoping that it would be appropriate for a middle school recommendation and finished it just now. 

Teen Tuesday features Me (Moth) by Amber McBride. This novel in verse is Professor McBride's YA debut and it sure did land with a splash. It was a National Book Award Finalist and a Morris Award Finalist and the author was given a Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe Award for New Talent.

Two years ago, Moth lost her family in a terrible car accident that left her with a horrible facial scar. She lives with her aunt, who is descending into alcoholism and feels invisible in her suburban school. She was a dancer, bound for Juilliard and now, she refuses to dance because she blames herself for the accident and misses her hoodoo-practicing grandfather.

Sani is new to Moth's school, just days before the end of the year. He sees her. They connect, but he has baggage as well-a missing dad, a remarried mom, and an abusive step-father who doesn't tolerate Sani's depression.

This is a sad, sad book with absolutely gorgeous imagery, foreshadowing and a plot twist I didn't see coming. Luminous.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Meant to Be by Jo Knowles

Meant to Be by Jo Knowles. 218 p. Candlewick Press, March, 2022. 9781536210323. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.

Happy Monday! I hope you had a terrific weekend. I had hoped to get more yard work done, but the weather did not cooperate. Sunday was so cold and moist and raw. I didn't come close to closing my rings. I didn't get much indoor work done either, but I did take a nice nap in the late morning, thanks to rising at 4AM after a terrible night's sleep.

Middle Grade Monday wishes a belated book birthday to Meant to Be by Jo Knowles. This is a companion novel to Where the Heart Is, which was published in 2019. Ivy and her family have moved to an apartment called Applewood Heights and everyone hates it but her. Sure she has to share a tiny bedroom with her older sister, Rachel, but she has friends she can visit easily at last. And they love the show, Make It to Bake It as much as she does! Each week the three gather at Lucas' apartment to watch the show with his dad, who uses a walker and has mobility issues. Then, they figure out how to make the dish with less expensive ingredients, since most of the residents of the building don't have a lot of extra cash. The trio usually find a work-around and they share their creation with whatever resident contributed ingredients. She also loves to visit Donnalyn, the building's super, who lets Ivy really help with real tools. Ivy is happy, except she'd really like to know more about Alice's missing mother and she wants to build Lucas' father a wheelchair, but he's not interested. Her insistence on helping her friends leads to alienation instead, and Ivy has some difficult lessons to learn about being a good friend.

This is a sweet, gentle coming-of-age story centered around family and friendship. Fans of Where the Heart Is will be thrilled that Ivy got her own book, but it Meant to Be stands alone nicely. It's the perfect tween novel featuring an imperfect yet endearing main character readers will root for. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Fact Friday: Kids Fight Climate Change: Act Now to Be a #2minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey and illustrated by Tim Wesson.

Kids Fight Climate Change: Act Now to Be a #2minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey and illustrated by Tim Wesson. 128 p. #2minutesuperhero series. Candlewick Press, March, 2022. 9781536223484. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Happy Friday! Happy April! It sure doesn't feel like spring. March did not go out "like a lamb," as the old adage suggests. Our weather has been a bit crazy, and this is a nice segue into our featured title. Fact Friday features Kids Fight Climate Change: Act Now to Be a #2minutesuperhero by Martin Dorey and illustrated by Tim Wesson. This book is part of the #2minutesuperhero series, which is aimed at encouraging young people to become environmentally aware.

The history and science of climate change are explained in the introduction. The author has created seventeen missions that can be accomplished in under two minutes by a young person, mostly without the help of an adult. Some are more easily accomplished than others and range in points from five to twenty. Each are designed to make the reader more environmentally aware and to encourage changing habits such as, do you really need a ride to school each day? Can you walk or perhaps car-pool? Did you know that even your choice of clothing can have an impact on the environment?

The author is an avid surfer and founder of the #2minutebeachclean movement. What's two minutes out of your day? Think about it. If each of us took two or more minutes out of each day to do something for the environment, that could add up quickly to something positive for all of us.