Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Dork Diaries 15: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure by Rachel Renée Russell

Happy Wednesday TMS Readers! Move over Greg Hefley. You're not the only disgruntled diary keeper lacking self-awareness in town. Waiting on Wednesday features Dork Diaries 15: Tales from a Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure by Rachel Renée Russell. Here's the publisher synopsis from the series' web site:

Will Nikki FINALLY make it to Paris?! Or will she and her BFFs plan a Paris-themed fundraiser to help her crush, Brandon, raise money for the Fuzzy Friends Animal Shelter?! The DRAMA continues in Dork Diaries Book 15: Tales From A Not-So-Posh Paris Adventure!!

Unfortunately, I cannot find a publication date! Hopefully, it's soon. There are a lot of fans of the series at my school. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Teen Tuesday: Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka. 320 p. Candlewick Press, October, 2020. 9781536207767.

Happy Tuesday! It's the last Tuesday of summer break! What will you be reading today? Sometimes arcs get buried and it takes me a really long time to uncover them. I'm so sorry it took so long to find this. Argh!

Teen Tuesday features Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka. This first-person narrative features Chloe, a Bay area high school senior and over-achiever until she collapses during cross-country practice. She needs a new heart, so her life, senior year and college plans are put on hold when she is placed on the transplant list. She basically has to hope to stay alive until someone with a match to her dies.

Once she receives her heart, she finds herself plagued by bloody nightmares every night and "memories" of people and places. Her friends have graduated and are getting ready to move away to college while she's stuck in summer school catching up. She has been accepted to college, but needs to finish her senior year. She also begins to do un-Chloe-like things like driving too fast, lying to her parents to hang with a new friend and sneaking out to take surfing lessons with Kai, a half-Japanese surfer. She's definitely falling for him.

This angsty, realistic romance takes a bit of a sci-fi detour as Chloe researches parallel universes and cellular memory in an effort to understand her nightmares. Chloe also muses on the race to compete for the "best" colleges that high school readers will find relatable. Chloe's reliability as a narrator may be called into question and readers may need to stop to reread in their race to the climax in this satisfying read.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill

The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill. 476 p. Charlesbridge, September 6. 2022. 9781623342597. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

It's the penultimate Monday of my students' summer break! I'm back with my colleagues for two days of PD on Thursday. Tick tock, tick tock. Counting down to the end of summer. 

Middle Grade Monday features The Hope of Elephants by Amanda Rawson Hill. This first-person verse novel is narrated by Cass, whose father has been battling cancer all of her life. She was only one when he received his first cancer diagnosis. Then, each odd year of her life, he was diagnosed with a different kind of cancer and now, on the last day of her eleventh year, she finds out the cancer is back. But, Cass senses that her parents, who have been very open with her, are now keeping something from her.

They are. The reason why her dad has such bad luck with cancer is that he has a genetic mutation, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, where half the sufferers develop cancer before the age of forty. Cass has a 50/ 50 chance of having the mutation and of developing breast cancer before she's thirty. Now, not only is she dealing with her dad's recurrence, she has to decide whether to have her blood tested for the mutation. Does she want to know? What is the value in knowing? So she makes lists of pros and cons. While she deals with this, she's also dealing with wanting to continue playing baseball (doing so puts her dad at risk for infection), trying to find comfort in her faith, and her homeschooling assignments, which involves visiting an elephant at a nearby zoo, with whom Cass bonds.

My how I loved this book! Not only is the cover absolutely perfect and perfectly gorgeous, but I found the voice immediately compelling. Readers will get to know Cass through powerful free-verse poems that feature strong emotions and intense imagery. Don't miss reading the informative Author Note at the end. 

Tell your readers who love verse novels and sad novels to make sure to add The Hope of Elephants to their tbr (to be read) list. The book releases on September 6. Happy book birthday! Happy reading!

Friday, August 26, 2022

Fact Friday: Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman

Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman and illustrated by Jamie Green. Unpgd. Sleeping Bear Press, March, 2022. 9781534111509. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Fact Friday features another #nevertoooldforpicturebooks entry. What are your thoughts on mushrooms? Mine? Never ate them as a kid, but was weirdly fascinated by them. As an adult, I adore the earthy goodness of lots of varieties. My own kids? Not so much. 

Mushroom Rain by Laura K. Zimmerman and illustrated by Jamie Green is a terrific introduction to these fascinating fungi. I love a good impressionistic lesson. One that piques curiosity and avoids info-dumps. Ms. Zimmerman's simple yet lyrical text conveys the variety, diversity and hardiness of mushrooms and Ms. Green's earth-toned illustrations just dazzle with their depth and detail. Backmatter is designed to look like a scrapbook or scientific notebook and contains more information about mushrooms as well as instructions for making mushroom art and suggestions for further reading.

Recommended for all libraries. Happy reading!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

#tbt: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Illustrated by Patricia Castelao. 320 p. HarperCollins Publishers, January, 2012. 9780061992259. (Own.)

Today is the penultimate Thursday of summer break for my students, but the final Thursday for me and the rest of my colleagues. We return next Thursday! 

#tbt features The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Ivan, a Silverback Gorilla, has lived at the Big Top Mall for 9855 days, by his counting. He is a content gorilla. He spends his days watching television, eating bananas and painting. His friend, Stella, a former circus elephant lives in the next enclosure. And then there's Mack, the stray dog who is content being a stray. Ivan doesn't remember his life before poachers captured him and killed his mother. Stella has a long memory and longs to live in a zoo. When a baby elephant, named Ruby comes to live at the mall, Stella is determined to get them out.

The One and Only Ivan is a work of fiction based on a true story. There really was an Ivan who lived in a mall and painted. It was published in January of 2012 and won the 2013 Newbery Medal. In 2014, the book was optioned for film and the live-action adaptation released to Disney + in 2020 instead of to theaters due to the pandemic. Also in 2020, Ms. Applegate published a companion/ sequel called The One and Only Bob. On August 21, Ms. Applegate posted a photo of Ivan on her Twitter page to mark the tenth anniversary of his death.

I've read the book both with my ears and with my eyes several times and cried each time. Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Tardy Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Flip the Script by Lyla Lee


Flip the Script by Lyla Lee. Unabridged audiobook, ~8 hours. Read by Greta Jung. Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins, May, 2022. 9780063250260. (Review of e-audio borrowed from public library.)

Sorry about this late posting. I sat down to write this post so many times yesterday and got sidetracked by anxiety and other responsibilities. 

Teen Tuesday features Flip the Script by Lyla Lee. Sixteen-year-old Hana moved from the U.S. to Seoul so that she could pursue a career in acting, specifically K-drama. She landed a starring role opposite a swoony K-pop star turned actor, Bryan Yoon. Though the two have a lot of on-screen chemistry, the ratings weren't sufficiently high enough for the producers, who concoct a fake-dating scenario to boost them. Oh, and they also re-wrote the script to introduce a love triangle and hired a frenemy of Hana's to play the role.

This was mindless fun. I learned a fair amount about K-drama. I think I would've enjoyed it more had I read with my eyes. I found the narration stilted, particularly the male voices. There were these weird pauses before each male spoke, almost as if the narrator were trying to call the voice up. This is strange to me because the same narrator did the author's debut, I'll Be the One, and I enjoyed her performance then.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander. 432 p. Little Brown Young Readers, September 27, 2022. 9780316441865.

Happy penultimate Wednesday of summer break! Waiting on Wednesday features The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander. Mr. Alexander's verse novels are popular at my school. His debut MG, The Crossover won the Newbery Award and is basically checked out all school year. Here's the publisher synopsis for The Door of No Return, which is due out on September 27.

Publisher synopsis:
Dreams are today’s answers for tomorrow’s questions.

11-year-old Kofi Offin dreams of water. Its mysterious, immersive quality. The rich, earthy scent of the current. The clearness, its urgent whisper that beckons with promises and secrets…

Kofi has heard the call on the banks of Upper Kwanta, in the village where he lives. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. Some say he moves like a minnow, not just an ordinary boy so he’s hoping to finally prove himself in front of Ama and his friends in a swimming contest against his older, stronger cousin.

But before this can take place, a festival comes to the villages of Upper and Lower Kwanta and Kofi’s brother is chosen to represent Upper Kwanta in the wrestling contest. Encircled by cheering spectators and sounding drums, the two wrestlers from different villages kneel, ready to fight.

You are only fine, until you are not.

The match is over before it has barely begun, when the unthinkable–a sudden death–occurs…

The river does not care how grown you are.

As his world turns upside down, Kofi soon ends up in a fight for his life. What happens next will send him on a harrowing journey across land and sea, and away from everything he loves.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Fenris and Mott by Greg Van Eekhout

Fenris and Mott by Greg Van Eekhout. 202 p. Harper/ HarperCollins Publishers, August 2, 2022. 9780062970633. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Middle Grade Monday features Fenris and Mott by Greg Van Eekhout. All twelve-year-old Mott (short for Martha) wants to do is successfully film an episode of the "Mott and Amanda Root Beer Show . That's proving difficult thanks to her BFF Amanda being on vacation in Germany and, oh, she and her mom have relocated to Culver City, California. The only quiet place she can find is an alley, but it's just not the same without Amanda. 

When Mott hears scuttling and scratching in a nearby dumpster, she assumes it's a rat, but it's a fluffly, white ball of fur. She makes a promise to help the pup and brings him to a nearby animal shelter where she learns that he isn't a dog. He's a wolf-pup, so she couldn't keep him even if her landlord allowed dogs. No worries, the animal shelter will contact a wolf sanctuary and hold the pup until they arrive. However, he is not having that and bolts once he sees the leash he's about to be tethered to! He crashes through a plate glass window and disappears.

Mott finds him a few blocks later. Unfortunately, the pup is wriggling in the hands of a giant who claims he's Gorm the Viscious and Fenris, the pup, is prophesied to eat the moon, slay Odin and end the world. Say what?

A promise is a promise and Mott promised to keep Fenris safe. How can she do that and also save the world from ending? 

If you love a fast-paced adventure with lots of humor, this is the book for you. Though plot-driven and quite cinematic, the characters hum with life. Mott is achingly endearing and Thrudie, the Valkyrie is the perfect sidekick. Then, of course, there's Fenris, the puff ball of destruction doing what puppies do best. I swallowed this in one big giddy gulp. Happy reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Fact Friday on a Sunday: Serengeti: Plains of Grass by Leslie Bulion

Serengeti: Plains of Grass by Leslie Bulion. Illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. 48 p. Peachtree Books, March, 2022. 9781682631911. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Ugh! I was getting ready to write my Middle Grade Monday post early for once and saw that I didn't copy over my Fact Friday post. So sorry!

In #nevertoooldfor picturebook news, Fact Friday features Serengeti: Plains of Grass by Leslie Bulion and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander. Ecosystems are fascinating subjects. Poet Leslie Bulion is an ace at conveying science-y subjects through the imagery of poetry. Here, Ms. Bulion utilizes the Swahili poetic form utendi to do so. Animals large and small play a role in balancing an ecosystem. 

The poems sit in the upper left hand corner of the verso pages and bits of prose expand on the concept mostly on the recto pages. Softly hued single- and double-page illustrations depict much of the wildlife. Back matter includes the origin of the word, "serenget" from the Masai language, a two-page glossary, information about Serengeti stewardship, books and websites for further reading and a map of the region. This book is perfect for poetry lovers and budding ecologists. Happy reading!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

#tbt: The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. 432 p. Originally published by Hyperion/ Disney, 2007.

Happy Thursday! I will be back at school in exactly two weeks for two days of PD before the students return on the day after Labor Day. Boy, this summer flew by!

#tbt features The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. It's a bit difficult to summarize this loopy sci-fi adventure and make sense. The story is an assignment that twelve-year-old Gratuity, "Tip" Tucci has to submit for a time capsule. Planet Earth has been invaded by the Boovs, led by Captain Smek. Christmas has been renamed Someday. Tip's mother has been abducted and the rest of humanity is being relocated to Florida. Tip eludes the Boov and decides to drive a car to Florida with her cat, Pig to rescue her mother. She meets a renegade Boov named J.Lo along the way and together they must figure out a way to save the newly occupied planet from yet another alien invasion. 

This illustrated, plot-driven book is filled with word-play and is often laugh-out-loud funny. It was published in 2007 and named a School Library Journal Best Book. It was optioned for film in 2008 and finally released in 2015 under the name, Home. However, many changes were made to the story, including renaming J.Lo due to legal reasons. The audiobook is brilliantly performed by Bahni Turpin, but be sure to also look at the print copy for the visual humor as well. Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat. Illustrated by Joanna Cacao. 272 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc. September 6, 2022. 9781338741261.

Waiting on Wednesday features The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat. Honestly, is there any genre or format that Ms. Soontornvat can't write? She has written picture books, chapter books and novels. In fact, she won a Newbery Honor for A Wish in the Dark, which was featured here last December. Her latest work of fiction, The Last Mapmaker, is getting some award buzz. Her riveting account of the rescue of the Thai boys' soccer team, All Thirteen, won multiple awards. On September 6, her graphic novel, The Tryout, will publish. Here's the publisher's synopsis: 

Stand tall.

Be loud.

If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything.

It’s 1988 and Christina’s family has just moved to the small town of Weatherford, Texas to open the first Chinese food restaurant in the county. Christina’s mom is Texan and her dad is Thai, and it’s not easy being one of the only Asian American kids in town.

But with Nicole, an Iranian-American girl, by her side, Christina can almost handle the blatant racism her classmates direct at her and the micro-aggressions from adults, even teachers. Having a best friend protects her from a lot, but still, she knows she is far from being truly accepted.

So when cheerleading tryouts are announced, Christina and Nicole immerse themselves in the world of cheerleading to prepare. The cheerleaders at school are popular and uniformly well-liked. Could this be Christina’s ticket to fitting in, even being popular?

This multi-layered, personal story explores identity, racism, friendship, self-esteem, and staking a claim to the place you belong amidst heated competition and the Sturm and Drang of middle school. A rich contribution to the Graphix slate, as well as a breakout book for an outstanding talent, and also introduces the phenomenal artist, Joanna Cacao, in her debut!

We don't have to wait too long for this one! I can't wait and just know this one will be popular with TMS's many graphic novel fans. Happy reading!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis

Image: Macmillan

Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis. 320 p. Roaring Brook Press/ Macmillan, June, 2022. 9781250767424. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Monday! We are just about halfway through August, and you know what that means! I saw a meme somewhere that stated for teachers, August is Sunday. Haha, so true. My mind is already back in school. I still plan on filling each day I have left though. 
What kind of fun do you have planned?

Middle Grade Monday features Smaller Sister by Maggie Edkins Willis. Olivia is only 20 months older than her little sister, Lucy. The two are very close even though they are opposites. All this changes when Livy starts middle school. Suddenly, she's moody and secretive and losing a lot of weight. Eventually, Lucy's parents realize that Livy has an eating disorder. Lucy gets lost in the shuffle, counted on to be reliable and to make good choices. 

This semi-autobiographical graphic novel is the author's debut. The art style is appealing. The sisters' relationship is authentic. An author's note at the end includes resources for further reading. Fans of Raina Telgemeier will enjoy this heartfelt story. I'm happy to add it to my school library collection.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Fact Friday: Honeybee Rescue: a Backyard Drama by Loree Griffin Burns.


Image: Charlesbridge

Honeybee Rescue: a Barnyard Drama by Loree Griffin Burns. Photograps by EllenHarasimowicz. 40 p. Charlesbridge, May, 2022. 9781623542399. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Friday! Did you see the Sturgeon Moon last night? Wowzers! It was just gorgeous. The Persied showers are also visible, but there's too much light pollution to really see them around here. And today is just a wonderful break from the heat.

Fact Friday features Honeybee Rescue: a Backyard Drama by Loree Griffin Burns. Backyard drama indeed! Mr. Connery keeps honeybees on his property as pollinators. He is surprised to hear a loud buzzing coming from his barn/ garage, which is in disrepair. He found a colony of honeybees had set up a nice big nest in a corner. When honeybees outgrow their hives, they swarm and set up a new one. Mr. Connery missed the signs, otherwise, he would've added a new layer to his hive boxes. The concern here was not the fact that there was a hive in his mostly empty garage, but for its viability through the winter. The building was leaky and would offer little protection to the hive in the cold months. What to do? Even though Mr. Connery was a beekeeper, he wasn't skilled at removing hives. That was a job for Mr. Nelson, who actually invented a bee vacuum and knows how to move hives without damaging it or harming the bees. You never want to spray a honeybee hive with pesticides to kill them because they are valuable pollinators.

I learned so much about honeybees from Ms. Griffin Burns in this fantastic book which features plenty of full-color photographs showing every step. Back matter includes an interview with Mr. Nelson, a glossary, and author's note, sources and suggestions for further reading. This is the perfect book for young readers who are interested in honeybees, the environment or just a plain great informational read! I can't wait to add it to my school library collection. 

Happy reading!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

#tbt: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach. Felton Reinstein Trilogy #1. 311 p. Sourcebooks Fire/ Sourcebooks, June, 2011. (Own)

Happy Thursday! Did you enjoy the break in the heat that we had here in northern NJ yesterday? I was able to take Boo for a nice long walk, which was nice because I hadn't been getting my steps in because of the heat.  

#tbt features Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach. This book introduces Felton Reinstein, a sixteen-year-old with one friend and no interest in sports until puberty suddenly hits and he has grown incredibly tall and become "stupid fast." Now the football coach is inviting him to train with the team and the track coach wants him to run. Oh, and a beautiful girl moved in next store for the summer. Before you think things are looking up for Felton, I need to mention that his family has some pretty heavy baggage.

Felton's voice in this first-person narrative is at once utterly endearing and infuriating. He's so guileless, so naive, that I wanted to protect him and yell, "Wake up!" at once. If you're a mature teen reader who enjoys sad books with a side of hilarious, you will enjoy the entire Felton Reinstein Trilogy.

Stupid Fast was published in 2011. It was named to the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults list and won a Cybils Award for YA Fiction as well as some state awards. Nothing Special was published in 2012, and I'm with Stupid was published in 2013.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega

Image: Macmillan

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, with art by Rose Bousamra. 224 p. First Second/ Macmillan, October 18, 2022. 9781250259639.

Happy Wednesday! Well, it wasn't as beastly hot when I took the hounds out for their early morning walk! Phew! It has been hot. Waiting on Wednesday features Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, with art by Rose Bousamra. I learned about this graphic novel when author Varian Johnson posted about how much he liked it to his social media feeds. Frizzy releases October 18, and it's in my book order for our library. I can't wait.

Publisher synopsis: A middle grade graphic novel about Marlene, a young girl who stops straightening her hair and embraces her natural curls.

Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and "growing up." That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have "presentable", "good hair".

But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn't understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby—she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: Rivals by Katharine McGee

Rivals by Katharine McGee. American Royals #3. Unabridged e-audiobook, ~12 hours, 37 minutes. Read by Brittany Presley. Listening Library/ Books on Tape, May, 2022. 9780593584408. (Review of e-audiobook downloaded from the public library.)

Happy 'I'm melting' Tuesday! The heat continues in NJ, and while not as bad as other places in the U.S., it isn't conducive to the yard work I have on my to-do list! We had a little excitement in the neighborhood yesterday. My neighbor finally broke ground on her addition, and thanks to the previous owner's un-permitted and shoddy work and faulty marking by the gas company, the backhoe hit the gas line. Talk about starting a project with a bang! Here's hoping the rest of the work goes smoothly.

Teen Tuesday features Rivals by Katharine McGee. This is book three of the American Royals series, so as usual, I will be a bit vague in my summary. Even though the main characters in this series are older teens, the alternate history aspect and storytelling from multiple points of view are just plain fun. 

Beatrice is settling into her new role and about to host a week-long event called The League of Kings. Samantha seems to be settling down nicely with Marshall and Jefferson is starting college. There's plenty of court intrigue, high fashion and backstabbing to keep listening, and a "wait, what?" ending that will leave fans of the series panting for the next installment.

Ms. Pressley continues to keep the delivery breezy and fun. She employs a variety of voices and accents. While you can jump into this series at book three, why miss all the soap-opera-ish fun? Here's a link to my review of American RoyaltyHappy reading.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Growing Pangs by Kathryn Ormsbee and illustrated by Molly Brooks

Growing Pangs by Kathryn Ormsbee and illustrated by Molly Brooks. 249 p. Random House Books for Young Readers, May, 2022. 9780593301289. (Review of finished copy borrowed from public library.)

Happy Monday TMS Readers! Middle Grade Monday features Growing Pangs by Kathryn Ormsbee and illustrated by Molly Brooks. This semi-autobiographical graphic novel centers of Katie's summer between fifth and sixth grades. She's worried about a lot - her freckles, whether people think she's weird, the fact that she homeschools, impending surgery and braces. She does have a BFF and she and Kacie are headed to sleep-away camp!

Unfortunately, once at camp, Kacie branches out and is happy to meet new friends, leaving Katie feeling isolated, jealous and feeling like bees are swarming and buzzing inside her. She develops some tics in order to alleviate the buzzing feelings, but worries that someone might notice her new habits. Things don't get much better once she returns home and her parents find a therapist to help her navigate her anxiety and OCD.

Katie is a sympathetic character that readers will root for. Unfortunately, anxiety in young people is on the rise and sometimes it can be hard to reach out for help. The art is vibrant and the panels are varied. Back matter includes notes from both the author and illustrator describing their personal struggles with anxiety as tweens and teens. Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Kayla Miller will enjoy Growing Pangs. Happy reading!

Friday, August 5, 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:

Fenris & Mott by Greg Van Eekhout. 200 p. Harper/ HarperCollins Publishers, August 2, 2022. 9780062970633. 

Publisher synopsis: A girl and her puppy face down the end of the world—which the puppy’s partly responsible for—in this middle grade story from acclaimed author Greg van Eekhout, perfect for fans of Gordon Korman and J.C. Cervantes.

When Mott finds a puppy abandoned in a recycling bin, she’s ready to do everything she can to protect him. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that this is the legendary wolf Fenris, who’s prophesied to bring about the end of the world by eating the moon.

Now Mott has found herself in charge of making sure the hungry pup—who’s busy munching on lampposts, cars, and water towers—doesn’t see all of California as an appetizer, while also hiding him from the Norse gods who are hot on his trail, determined to see the prophecy come true.

Mott vows to protect Fenris, rescue him from his destiny, and prevent the world from ending. But will she be able to keep her promise? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Purchased: Nothing!

What's new on your pile?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

#tbt: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. 450 p. Disney/ Hyperion (now Hachette Book Group), May, 2012.

Happy Thursday! How hot are you? Ugh, I'm a soupy mess. We were promised a real-feel of over 100 today. The real-feel 99 right now (4:40) Perfect day to stay in an air-conditioned spot and read. #tbt features Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I will tell you right off the bat that this is possibly my favorite book of my entire career as a school librarian. If it's not my fave, it's in the top three.

The story starts out as the confession of a British wireless operator who was captured and tortured by the Nazis after she bailed out of a crashing plane. She's ashamed, but the torture was horrific and she knows she faces certain death, so day after day, she writes. She's an unreliable narrator, but a compelling one. Readers quickly become invested in her story, but it's a difficult one to read. She is, after all, a prisoner of war. Then the POV switches about halfway through. 

I am staying deliberately vague with this description in order for potential readers to discover the suspense, secrets and plot twists that promise gasps and tears, many, many tears for themselves. Weighing in at more than 450 pages, meticiulously researched and gorgeously written, this is definitely a book for readers with some stamina. Those TMS students who have read it absolutely loved it.

Code Name Verity was named a Printz Honor and received starred reviews from all the journals. It appeared on many year-end Best Books lists as well as the Amelia Bloomer list. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bluest Sky by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

The Bluest Sky by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. 320 p. Random House Children's Books, September 6, 2022. 9780593372791.

Waiting on Wednesday features The Bluest Sky by Christina Diaz Gonzalez. Publisher synopsis: A boy and his family must decide whether to remain in Cuba under a repressive government or risk everything for the chance of a new beginning in this gripping story from the award-winning author of The Red Umbrella.

There are two versions of Héctor: the public and the private. It’s the only way to survive in communist Cuba—especially when your father was exiled to the U.S. and labeled an enemy of the people. Héctor must always be seen as a fierce supporter of the regime, even if that means loudly rejecting the father he still loves.

But in the summer of 1980, those two versions are hard to keep separate. No longer able to suppress a public uprising, the Cuban government says it will open the port of Mariel to all who wish to leave the country—if they can find a boat. But choosing to leave comes with a price. Those who want to flee are denounced as traitors by family and friends. There are violent acts of repudiation, and no one knows if they will truly be allowed to leave the country or not.

So when Héctor’s mother announces that she wants the family to risk everything to go to the United States, he is torn. He misses his father, but Cuba is the only home he has ever known. All his dreams and plans require him to stay. Can he leave everything behind for an unknown future?

In a summer of heat and upheaval, danger and deadly consequences, Héctor’s two worlds are on a collision course. Will the impact destroy him and everything he loves?

Christina Diaz Gonzalez's great-grandmother, great-uncle, and extended family came to the U.S. through the Mariel boatlift. She vividly remembers meeting them all for the first time in the summer of 1980 and is proud to share this part of her family's history.

I just now realized that this storyline is very similar to my "Middle Grade Monday" post. Total coincidence and there's room on the library shelves for similar stories. 

Happy reading!

Teen Tuesday: Slip by Marika McCoola

Slip by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Aatmaja Pandya. 208 p. Algonquin/ Workman, June, 2022. 9781643752495 (Review of finished, purchased copy.)

Teen Tuesday features Slip by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Aatmaja Pandya. High school student and pottery artist Jade is about to leave for a month-long summer art intensive when she learns that her best friend has been hospitalized after an attempted suicide. She feels she should stay home to support her friend, but her parents point out that Phoebe can't have visitors, so she should go. Once at camp, Jade's struggles to be present with her art are compounded by the talent and confidence of fellow campers and demanding instructors. The one bright spot is Mary, who creates inter-active art, but their budding romance is threatened by Jade's unwillingness to be honest and open.

The art is mostly blue tones with flashes of pink and red symbolizing Jade's strong emotions. Occasionally, the panels are difficult to follow and Jade and Mary appear younger than high school age. Graphic novel fans who enjoy a leisurely, introspective story that explores themes of friendship, identity, and guilt will enjoy Slip.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Middle Grade Monday: Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas

Image: Macmillan

Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. Unabridged audiobook, ~6 hours. Read by Anthony Rey Perez. Dreamscape Media, September, 2021. (Review of e-audiobook borrowed from public library.)

Happy Monday! Happy August 1! Wow! Where did July go? Middle Grade Monday features Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas. Twelve-year-old Cumba narrates this relatable and emotionally resonant story. He lives with his extended family in the mountains of Cuba. He loves his family, the mountains and his country, but the year is 1961. Fidel Castro ousted the dictator Batista, but, as his grandfather said, the country traded one dictator for a new one. Priests have been expelled from the country, soldiers roam the streets encouraging neighbor to spy on neighbor and Cumba is almost of age to join the Young Rebels, where he will be forced to travel to Russia for training. His parents decide to obtain forged documents and send Cumba to Miami to stay with a relative. Cumba doesn't want to leave his family, is terrified of being discovered and knows very little English. Once settled in Miami, Cumba learns to navigate the streets of the city, makes friends, and starts school, all the while missing his family terribly.

Anthony Rey Perez's softly understated performance matched the tone of this quietly touching story perfectly. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will enjoy Cumba's story, which is based in part on the author's father's experience as a young boy.