Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Diper Överlöde (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #17) by Jeff Kinney

Diper Överlöde (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #17) by Jeff Kinney. 224 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams Books, October 25, 2022. 9781419762949.

Waiting on Wednesday features Diper Överlöde by Jeff Kinney. It's hard to believe, but book 17 of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is due to drop on October 25. Personally, I think the series continues to hit all the marks for humor and dead-on observation of familial and middle school life. Here's the publisher synopsis: When he decides to tag along with his brother Rodrick’s band, Löded Diper, Greg doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. But he soon learns that late nights, unpaid gigs, fighting between band members, and money troubles are all part of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

Can Greg help Löded Diper become the legends they think they are? Or will too much time with Rodrick’s band be a diper överlöde?

Monday, May 30, 2022

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Riley's Ghost by John David Anderson

Riley's Ghost by John David Anderson. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~8 hours. Read by Lillie Ricciardi. Walden Pond Press, January, 2022. 9780063219601.

Happy Monday! My Memorial Day weekend had a wild, wet and wooly start, but yesterday was absolutely gorgeous and I got a lot of yard work done, including mowing my lawn after my no-mow May. My neighbors are probably relieved. 

Middle Grade Monday featurs Riley's Ghost by John David Anderson. I am going to be a bit opaque with my description so as not to give too much away here. Riley is a bit of an outcast with a reputation and some serious impulse control issues. She refused to dissect a frog in her science class, so she's doing a VR dissection when the class alpha male plays a cruel prank on her. He gets in trouble, which makes the resident mean girl upset, so she and her posse, which includes Riley's former best friend, lock Riley in the science closet after school. Imagine being locked into a science closet surrounded by plastic bags filled with trays of dissected frogs. Imagine one of those frogs becoming animated. Imaging getting out of that closet only to find that you can't leave the school. Every door is locked. None of the phones work and neither does the fire alarm, which Riley decides to pull. And then the voices start...

Mr. Anderson is a student favorite at TMS. I haven't read all of his books, but have enjoyed what I've read. I didn't love this one. The pace was glacial and Riley was just so unsympathetic.
And, I was bugged by one glaring error in chapter 41 (I think). I was gardening while I listened, but it stopped me dead. Then, on Monday, I pulled my library copy from the shelf to double-check and, sure enough, I heard correctly. A full moon is described in the beginning of the chapter and later on, in the same chapter on the same night, it's suddenly a crescent moon. Sorry, but stuff like that just bugs me.

Saturday, May 28, 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:

Pink Is Not a Color by Lindsay Ward. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, June 1, 2022. 978154026864.

Publisher synopsis: Pink finds happiness right where she always knew it was in this colorful companion to the popular picture book This Book Is Gray.

Pink loves her rosy world, from her pink toy dinosaur to her pet flamingo, Phil. But when she sees the Primaries and Secondaries getting ready for the Rainbow Extravaganza, she begins to wonder why she isn’t in the rainbow…and if that means she’s not really a color. Then she meets the Tints, and she’s even more confused. Luckily, a friend shows her the many ways she spreads joy—reminding Pink that she is truly one of a kind, rainbow or not.

Featuring the world of colors introduced in This Book Is Gray—and a few new color concepts—this is a tale about appreciating who you are and realizing that only you can decide what makes you happy.

Henry Hamlet's Heart by Rhiannon Wilde. 322 p. Charlesbridge Teen, October 18, 2022. 97816233543693.

Publisher synopsis: This smart and charming queer YA rom-com about falling for your best friend will melt your heart.

Henry Hamlet doesn’t know what he wants after school ends. It’s his last semester of high school, and all he’s sure of is his uncanny ability to make situations awkward. Luckily, he can always hide behind his enigmatic best friend, Len. They’ve been friends since forever, but Len is mysterious and Henry is clumsy, and Len is a heartthrob and Henry is a neurotic mess. Somehow it’s always worked.

That is, until Henry falls in love. Hard.

From an exciting debut author comes a passionate story of growing up, letting go, and learning how to love.

The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill. 476 p. Charlesbridge, September 6, 2022. 9781623542591.

Publisher synopsis: An inspiring coming-of-age novel in verse about weathering the uncertainty that comes with family illness.

Cass and her parents haven’t let her dad’s cancer stop them from having a good life—full of love and poems and one annual World Series game. Now that Dad’s cancer is back, Cass overhears the doctor say that she has a 50% chance of inheriting her dad's genetic mutation, Li-Fraumeni syndrome. There’s a genetic test Cass can take that will tell her for sure. There’s still so much she wants to do—play baseball, study at the zoo, travel the world with her best friend, Jayla. Would it be better not to know?

When it turns out Dad’s cancer is worse this time, Cass is determined to keep up their World Series tradition while navigating all the change and uncertainty that lies ahead.

Poignant and powerful, Cass’s story brings the pains and anxiety linked with illness to the surface, and reminds us that sometimes hope is worth holding on to.

Purchased: Nothing!

What's new with you?

Friday, May 27, 2022

Fact Friday: Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire by Michel O. Tunnell

Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire by Michel O. Tunnell. 134 p. Charlesbridge, October, 2020. 9781580897891. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy Friday! Phew! We made it to the Memorial Day Weekend and the last push to the end of the school year. The kids, well, most of them completed state testing this week. I am so ready for the summer break. Fact Friday features Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire by Michael O. Tunnell. There have been quite a few books published for young adult readers revealing a dark history, the forced removal of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This book is unique in that the reader is given a glimpse into the day-to-day existence through a primary source document-a class diary. Mae Yanagi was eight-years-old when she was evacuated with her family from California to Topaz Camp in Utah. Her teacher, wanting to maintain a sense of normalcy in the middle of a desert surrounded by guard towers and barbed wire, kept a daily class diary for several months. She would record her students' observations and they would take turns illustrating it. Other images supporting the narrative include black and white archival photos from the time. Readers can't help but be touched by these reproductions of important primary source documents. 

Back matter includes a glossary, editor's note, and selected bibliography. Desert Diary is a unique addition to any school or classroom library.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

#tbt: The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. illustrated by David Small. 336 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster, January, 2020. 9781416950592. (Own.)

#tbt features The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. The only thing worse than a dog dying in a book is a dog that is mistreated. The setting in this emotionally intense debut novel is, literally, the underneath, as in the underneath of the beat up shack in the bayou that a nasty man named Gar Face inhabits. 

Ranger, his old hound has been chained up there as an alarm of sorts, since he can no longer go out on hunting trips. The reason Ranger can't hunt is because he was accidentally shot by Gar Face. Gar Face is obsessed with tracking the Alligator King. When a pregnant calico cat shows up underneath the shack, Ranger is fearful that Gar Face will use the cat and her eventual kittens as gator bait. He urges them to leave, but when they insist on staying, he's not disappointed because he is lonely. He warns the mama cat and her two kittens that they must never, under any circumstances, leave the safety of the underneath.

But kittens, are by nature, curious and Puck ventures out. There will be tears. The story unfolds slowly through three strands, which also includes the story of ancient bayou denizens. 

The Underneath won a Newbery Honor, was a National Book Award Finalist and was added to many "best" lists, including ALA Notables and NY Public Library's Best list.

Teen Tuesday (a day late): You + Me+ Him by Kris Dennison

You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison. 288 p. Clarion Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, July, 2015. 9780544301122. (Own.)

I've been very sick and very busy since last Thursday and I'm so-o behind and scattered! I posted this to my school's learning management app yesterday and forgot to post to my blog. So, here I am a day late and a dollar short. I didn't have the energy to post a Middle Grade Monday post. I basically slept the weekend away and went to school on Monday because I had no fever, state testing is going on and there are no subs. 

Teen Tuesday features You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison. This 2015 debut is the first-person narration of self-proclaimed fat girl and high school junior, Maggie Bowers. She's comfortable with her weight even if her mother continually nags her over it. She has a fun job at a record store and a bff in Nash, the only out boy at high school. The two are soul mates who always have each other's back. They are gobsmacked by the arrival of a cute new boy named Tom. Tom is handsome, confident and, when he approaches Maggie and Nash, they can't believe it. Then Nash calls "Dibs!" Tom shows a genuine interest in both of them, choosing to sit with them at lunch over other offers from up-the-high-school-food-chain. 

Tom, they learn, has moved a lot. So much so that he effortlessly blends in. He's equally friendly to everyone and Nash can't get a sense of whether he is gay. Maggie falls into an easy friendship with Tom, but when Tom's interest seems to veer toward romance, Maggie panics. She's definitely attracted, but Nash called dibs and he is the most important person in her life. When a former best friend turned popular girl tries to reconnect, Maggie is curious and Nash is adamant about not trusting her.

At turns hilarious and poignant, Maggie's voice is charming as she muddles through the complications in her life. She's self-reflective and likes to keep most people at a distance. This love triange is unique for a couple of reasons: it's mostly unrequited- Nash likes Tom, Tom likes Maggie and Maggie refuses to like Tom out of loyalty to Nash. While there are the usual YA tropes, make no assumptions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus

1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus. Graveyard Girls #1. 256 p. Union Square Kids/ Union Square & Co. September 6, 2022. 97814540944546.

Waiting on Wednesday features 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus. This sounds like the perfect book for middle grade fans of horror.

Publisher synopsis: New York Times bestselling authors Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus deliver a slightly scary, extremely addictive, contemporary middle-grade series. 

Meet Whisper, Frannie, Sophie, Gemma, and Zuzu, five friends from Misery Falls, Oregon. The town is abuzz as the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of Misery Falls’ most infamous killer, Silas Hoke, approaches. When a mysterious text message leads the girls to the cemetery—where Silas Hoke is buried!—life can’t get any creepier. Except, yes, it can thanks to the surprise storyteller who meets them at the cemetery, inspires the first-ever meeting of the Graveyard Girls, and sets the stage for a terrifying tale from Whisper that they’ll never forget.

Saturday, May 21, 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:

Blood, Metal, Bone by Lindsay Cummings. 496 p. HQ Young Adult/ HarperCollins Publishers, June 28, 2022. 9780008292795.

Publisher synopsis: 




Wrongly accused of her brother’s murder, Sonara’s destiny was to die, sentenced to execution by her own mother. Punished and left for dead, the shadows have cursed her with a second life as a Shadowblood, cast out and hunted by society for her demon-like powers.

Now known as the Devil of the Deadlands, Sonara survives as a thief on the edge of society, fighting for survival on a quest to uncover what really happened to her brother and whether he is even dead at all…

Purchased: nothing!

What's in your mailbox this week? 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Fact Friday: Oceanarium by Loveday Trinick. Illustrated by Teagan White

Oceanarium: Welcome to the Museum by Loveday Trinick and illustrated by Teagan White. 112 p/ Big Picture Press/ Candlewick Press, April, 2022. 9781536223811. Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.

Happy Friday! Fact Friday features Oceanarium: Welcome to the Museum by Loveday Trinick and illustrated by Teagan White. This entry in the oversized "Welcome to the Museum" series focuses on the wonder of water, specifically the ocean. The predominant feature of Earth as viewed from space is water. Though there are names for the various oceans, there really is only one ocean and it supports most life on Earth, even inland inhabitants. 

Instead of chapters, the book is divided into galleries after a Preface and the Entrance, where readers are welcomed to a carefully curated, well-organized overview of ocean life from oceanic zones, depicted on a beautiful double-page spread in the Entrance, through plankton, mollusks, fish, mammals, birds and more. 

As with other books in this fascinating series, the recto pages feature intriguing specimen illustrations. The verso pages give an overview and a key to the plate with scientific names, measurements and interesting facts. It's a great book for aspiring oceanographers or environmental stewards to browse and appreciate the oceans we all so depend upon.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

#tbt: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. 352 p. Philomel/ Penguin Young Readers Group, March, 2011. 9780399254123. (Own.)

It's a dreary, rainy Thursday here in northern NJ and my dogs are not happy. And, hot weather is on its way. Ugh.  #tbt features Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. The night that fifteen-year-old Lina's father failed to return home, Soviet forces invaded her home and forced the family to a truck. They were then loaded onto crowded cattle cars and transported thousands of miles from Lithuainia to Siberia, where they were imprisoned in harsh labor camps.

Most people are aware of the genocide that happened in Nazi Germany, but might not be aware of the genocide that occurred when Stalin annexed the Baltic countries of Lithuainia, Estonia, and Latvia. Millions were deported or otherwise disappeared during World War II and remained in these camps until the mid-1950s.

This is not an easy book to read. Lina's story is based on extensive interviews and research the author conducted while visiting family in Lithuainia. Most were still afraid to speak of the time more than fifty years after being freed. Between Shades of Gray was Ms. Sepetys' debut novel. It was published in March of 2011 and was named a New York Times Notable book, was a Carnegie Medal Finalist as well as a Morris Award Finalist and won the Golden Kite Award. It has been translated into more than thirty languages and was adapted for film and renamed Ashes in the Snow. Last fall, a graphic novel adaptation was published.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Booked by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile

Booked by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile. 320 p. Clarion Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, July 12, 2022. 9780358161820.

Happy Wednesday! Waiting on Wednesday features the graphic novel adaptation of Booked by Kwame Alexander. The graphic novel adaptation of Mr. Alexander's Newbery Award-winning The Crossover is popular at my school, so I am sure that his fans will be all over this one when it releases on July 12. Add this to your summer reading pile!

Here's the publisher's synopsis: Twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.

This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match.

"A novel about a soccer-obsessed tween boy written entirely in verse? In a word, yes. Kwame Alexander has the magic to pull off this unlikely feat, both as a poet and as a storyteller. " —The Chicago Tribune

Can’t nobody stop you

Can’t nobody cop you…

Monday, May 16, 2022

Teen Tuesday and Audiook Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~7 hours, 10 minutes. Read by Edoardo Ballerini. Listening Library/ Penguin Random House, February, 2022. 9780593502280. (Review of downloadable e-audio borrowed from public library.)

Teen Tuesday features I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. The year is 1989. Romania is governed by a cruel dictator, Nicholae Ceausescu and Romanians are starving while he lives in luxury. His secret service, the Securitate, are everywhere, encouraging neighbor to turn in neighbor for the most minor of infractions. Seventeen-year-old would-be poet, Christian Fortescu lives in a tiny apartment with his parents, older sister and ailing but spunky grandfather, Bunu. Christian is rounded up by the Securitate and the agent blackmails him into becoming an informant. They've learned he has an American dollar, given to him by the son of a diplomat. This is a punishable offense, but if he agrees to spy on the diplomat, he will not be prosecuted. The agent even promises medicine for Bunu.

Who was the informant? It could be anyone, including his best friend, Luca. Or, could it be his crush, Liliana? Terse intelligence reports are interspersed between the short, tense chapters in first-person, which increases the already high suspense. 

Ms. Sepetys paints a vivid, bleak and scary picture of life under a repressive dictator who managed to keep his citizens in the dark about life outside Romania while communism fell. She narrated the plentiful back matter. Edoardo Ballerini deftly conveys Christian's growing paranoia and fear. Additionally, his fluent pronunciation of names was quite helpful. 

Fans of the author or complex, well-researched historical fiction will love this. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Besties: Work It Out by Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Casino

Besties: Work It Out by Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Casino. Illustrated by Kristina Luu. 219 p. A Click series companion. Clarion/ HarperCollins Publishers, October, 2021. 9780358561914. (Review of finished copy borrowed from the public library.)

This spin-off of Ms. Miller's wildly popular Click series features bffs, Chanda and Beth. They want to earn some extra cash, Beth, so she can buy her mom a nice birthday gift and Chanda wants a cat. Their lemonade stand is a total bust and they are bummed. When Beth's older sister has to turn down a petsitting gig because she's too busy with sports and school, she offers the job to Beth and Chanda. They can't believe their luck. Not only is Ms. Langford's dog adorable, but she lives in a fancy house and owns closets full of fancy clothes, which the girls take turns trying on, taking photos and posting them to social media. Hm, not the wisest decision. This leads to their school mates (there are cameos of characters from the Click series) wanting to come over, which leads to an antique lamp getting broken, which leads to the girls needing more jobs to earn quick cash to pay for the lamp, which leads to... lots of friendship drama. 

This was fun, if a bit over-the-top. Ms. Langford's blasé attitude about the girls' transgressions strained credulity. There really were no consequences for a huge invasion of privacy. The portrayal of Chanda's parents and family dynamics skewed a bit toward stereotyping. Tween readers won't notice.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Fact Friday: Inside In: X-Rays of Nature's Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten

Inside In: X-Rays of Nature's Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten. Photography by Arie van 't Riet. Translated by Laura Watkinson. 128 p. Greystone Kids/ Greystone Books, October, 2021. 9781771646796. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Fact Friday features Inside In: X-Rays of Nature's Hidden World by Jan Paul Schutten and photographed by Arie van 't Riet. Mr. van 't Riet is a medical physicist and teacher of the subject in Amsterdam. He was able to obtain an x-ray machine and began x-raying dead animals and insects. He chose dead animals for two main reasons, the most important being that prolonged exposure to x-rays is dangerous. The second reason being that, in order to obtain a clear x-ray, the subject must remain very still. 

The author explains the science behind x-rays, then divides the book into animal classes starting with arthropods and mollusks and ending with mammals. Each x-ray photograph, most filling a single page, is accompanied by a page of text with information about the animal. X-rays are typically black and white, but any plant life that was arranged with the animal are tinged with color, making for a visually arresting image. 

The text, while conversational veers toward wordy. The images are the stars here. This book would not necessarily be useful in research, but would be wonderful for browsing and instilling wonder at the natural world. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

#tbt: One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. 240 p. Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Young Readers, May, 2012. 9780399256158. (Own.)

#tbt celebrates the tenth anniversary of the publication of One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This TMS favorite was the author's debut. Twelve-year-old Carley Connors was placed in foster care with the Murphy family after her step-father beat up her and her mother. Her mother is still hospitalized and unable to adequately care for Carley. Carley is furious at everyone and does not want to be in foster care. She's not alone, Mr. Murphy and the oldest Murphy boy don't want Carley there either. But Mrs. Murphy does and very soon, the two younger boys warm to Carley and she begins to realize that a family can be a safe place filled with love. Readers will be captivated by Carley's first-person narration. She's snarky and hilarious, but really hurting inside. 

This book is a favorite for a very good reason. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston


Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston.432 p. Balzer + Bray/ HarperCollins Publishers, August 30, 2022. 9780062975196.

Waiting on Wednesday features the sequel to Amari and the Night Brothers. I am so looking forward to reading this! It's due out August 30, so readers have time to check out the first installment before sliding right into the second. 

Publisher synopsis: After finding her brother and saving the entire supernatural world, Amari Peters is convinced her first full summer as a Junior Agent will be a breeze.

But between the fearsome new Head Minister’s strict anti-magician agenda, fierce Junior Agent rivalries, and her brother Quinton’s curse steadily worsening, Amari’s plate is full. So when the secretive League of Magicians offers her a chance to stand up for magiciankind as its new leader, she declines. She’s got enough to worry about!

But her refusal allows someone else to step forward, a magician with dangerous plans for the League. This challenge sparks the start of the Great Game, a competition to decide who will become the Night Brothers’ successor and determine the future of magiciankind.

The Great Game is both mysterious and deadly, but among the winner’s magical rewards is Quinton’s last hope—so how can Amari refuse?

Monday, May 9, 2022

Teen Tuesday and Audio Review: The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. Unabridged downloadable e-audiobook, ~8.5 hours. Read by Frankie Cross. Recorded Books, November, 2021. 9781705044308. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from the public library.)

Teen Tuesday features The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. It is the first-person narration of twelve-year-old Petra Peńa, who is evacuating Earth with her little brother and scientist parents. A solar flairs have knocked Haley's Comet off course and it's hurtling straight to Earth. Three space ships will transport a select few to colonize Planet Sagan, but they will have to sleep for 380 years. During that time, Petra and her brother will continue their education via programming. Petra is expected to become a botanist, but her passion lies in storytelling. Her abuela was a storyteller and she wishes to become a cuentista as well. 

However, a dissident group, know as The Collective, boards the ship and re-programs all on board, wiping away all memories of Earth. Petra learns that her brain has resisted re-programming but hides this when she sees what happens to another girl when she remembers her mother-back for reprogramming. And if that doesn't work?

All Petra knows is that her parents and brother are nowhere to be found. 

While fast-paced and suspenseful, the language is lovely. The incorporation of her beloved Mexican folk tales was seamless. Listening to this added to my enjoyment thanks to the fluent pronunciation of Spanish words. 

This sci/fi/ dystopian won the 2022 Newbery Medal as well as the Pure Bel Pré Author Award. 

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Hope Wins: a Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers edited by Rose Brock

Hope Wins: a Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers edited by Rose Brock. 196 p. Philomel Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, May 10, 2022. 9780593463932. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.) 

Happy Monday TMS Readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend even though the weather was a drag. Middle Grade Monday features Hope Wins: a Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers, edited by Rose Brock. If ever there was a "right book at the right time," (Thank you Professor Nana.) this collection of stories around the theme of hope is it. Twenty-two children's authors were asked by editor, Rose Brock to write a personal story and the results are inspiring in different ways. Some of the stories are rooted in sadness, such as Stuart Gibbs' exploration of grief, which may surprise young readers because his books are very humorous.  Other authors stick with the genre they are mostly notable for, such as R.L. Stine thinking that he wants to see a ghost, until he does, or Matt de la Peńa's story about an opportunity to play high school basket ball at a "better" school. James Bird and Rex Ogle explore their difficult childhood.

Tom Angleberger, of Origami Yoda fame, writes about his autism being viewed a "major malfunction" during his youth and Christina Soontornvat writes about learning to handle rude patrons with grace from her immigrant parents who ran a restaurant. Some, such as Soman Chainani, J. Cervantes and Gordon Korman, write about their path to author-hood. And then there's Adam Gidwitz, who just wants to be cool.

A short story collection is like a tapas restaurant. You have lots of great choices that are served up on a series of bite-sized dishes; enough to satisfy, but not enough to get stuffed. Sure, there may be some stories that you might wish were longer, but then you always have the option of seeking out other works by that author.

Happy Book Birthday tomorrow to Hope Wins! It would be a terrific addition to any school or classroom library. Many of the stories beg to be read aloud and discussed. And who doesn't need a little hope and resilience nowadays?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Fact Friday: The Stardust That Made Us: a Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements and the Universe by Colin Stuart

The Stardust That Made Us: a Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements and the Universe by Colin Stuart. Illustrated by  Ximo Abadia. 80 p. Big Picture Press/ Candlewick Press, March 2022. 9781536223835. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Fact Friday features a book I wish I had in school, The Stardust That Made Us: a Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements and the Universe by Colin Stuart. Maybe I would understand it. It's oversized and vibrantly illustrated, but more importantly, the text is easy to follow and fascinating. The author is a British astronomer who speaks and writes on the topic. 

How can we be made of stardust? What a mind-blowing idea! The author uses the analogy of a cookbook full of recipes, and the fact that lots of different dishes can be made from similar ingredients. The ingredients in nature are the elements. Readers learn vocabulary, chemistry, the Big Bang theory, how to navigate the Periodic Table, important physicists, how the elements were named and how we interact with them in real life.

There is no index or other back matter. The Table of Contents should help researchers locate information, but this volume lends itself more to browsing and contemplating. That's not a bad thing. The Stardust That Made Us is a worthy addition to any library or science class. 

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

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Origami Yoda #1. 192 p. Amulet/ Abrams Books, April, 2010. (Own)

Happy Thursday! My, but this week really flew! #tbt features The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. With yesterday being May the fourth, this book popped into my head. Next year, May the fourth will actually fall on a #tbt, but I can't wait that long to talk about this fun book, which is part of a humorous series.

The book is a series of case files concerning sixth grade oddball, Dwight. Our narrator, Tommy wants to get to the bottom of the Origami Yoda question. You see, Dwight owns Yoda and, while Dwight himself is a bit socially inept, Yoda imparts uncanny wisdom through him. Each chapter/ case file in this illustrated novel contains a different classmate's testimony about whether Origami Yoda is real. The humor ranges from slapstick to wry and satirical. And there are instructions at the back of the book for readers to create their own Origami Yoda.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda was Mr. Angleberger's debut and published in 2010. It won an E.B. White Read Aloud Award, was named an ALA Notable Book and won quite a few State Awards. Darth Paper Strikes Back published in 2011 and five books followed.

Happy reading (and folding)!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry

Two Truths and a Lie by April Henry. 288 p. Christy Ottaviano Books, May 24, 2022. 9780316323338. 

Waiting on Wednesday features an upcoming book by a TMS favorite, April Henry. Tons of TMS seventh and eighth graders adore her mystery/ thrillers. This one looks like one I will need to read in one sitting! Two Truths and a Lie releases on May 24.

Publisher synopsis: A group of teens are trapped in an old motel with a murderer in this chilling YA mystery by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.

Nell has always wanted to be an actor, but doubts her ability. As a member of her school’s theater program, she prefers working backstage. On the way to a contest, an unexpected blizzard strands her acting troupe in a creepy motel. Soon they meet a group of strangers from another high school—including the mysterious and handsome Knox, who insists they play the game Two Truths and a Lie. When it’s Nell’s turn, she draws a slip of paper inked in unfamiliar handwriting:
I like to watch people die.
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed.

Suddenly a night of harmless fun turns into a matter of life and death. As guests go missing, it becomes clear that a murderer is hiding in their midst ready to strike again. In a room full of liars and performers, the truth is never quite what it seems. Nell is going to have to act like her life depends on it—because it does.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Realm of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi.

Realm of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi. The Rema Chronicles #1. 266 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., April, 2022. 9781338115130. (Review of finished purchased copy.)

Happy rainy Monday! There was even a bit of thunder early this morning! Thankfully, I was able to get the hounds out between showers and only had to dry their undersides. They hate getting wet, but really do enjoy getting toweled off! I hope your weekend weather was as gorgeous as mine. I got a lot of yard work done.

Middle Grade Monday features Realm of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi. This is book one of a new graphic novel series called The Rema Chronicles. Fifteen-year-old Tabby Simon is still determined to discover what caused her scientist father's death some years earlier. Day after day, she ventures into the woods to Yggdrasil, the tree that he was studying when he died. The site is now off limits, but Tabby doesn't care. She's hoping to see the ghost that appeared to her father before he died. Instead she spots a beautiful, blue-haired boy disappearing into the tree. A hand reaches out from the portal as she approaches and Tabby finds herself face-to-face with the ghost woman, and she's terrifying. The portal leads to another world called Rema. The boy, Philip takes responsibility and promises that he will help Tabby find her way back, but that she must keep his secret.

The art in this fantasy graphic novel is utterly gorgeous. The worlds are richly colored and manga-styled characters are fully realized. The action is fast-paced, leading to a surprising twist and a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers panting for the next installment.

I found this graphic novel at the PTO/ Scholastic Book Fair and it's one of the books donated to the library by the PTO. I am the lucky recipient of many book fair books thanks to the PTO. Fans of graphic novel fantasy are going to love this.