Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Sure to Become a Classic Pick: Wolf Hollow

Wolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
Dutton Children's Books
291 pages
ISBN" 9781101994825

Wolf Hollow is sure to become a classic of children's literature. It is the triumphant story of a rural childhood during World War II set in the hills and hollows of Pennsylvania's mountains. Annabelle lives on a farm where life is defined by the rising and setting of the sun and the passing of seasons. There are always chores to do before and after school: stock to be tended, stalls to be cleaned, food to be prepared, clothes to be washed. The list is never-ending, but Annabelle never complains. It is expected of children to help in the home and on the farm.

Life seems idyllic besides the work, but when Betty Glengarry moves in with her grandparents, she threatens Annabelle's quiet life. Betty has been shipped off to her grandparents in the country because she is "incorrigable." Annabelle thinks that Betty is just plain mean and evil.  Betty tells Annabelle to bring her something, or she will hurt Annabelle and her two younger brothers. Annabelle brings a penny, all that she has, and Betty laughs and hits her with a stick.

Annabelle decides she is not going to back down to Betty's threats after that. She does not want to tell her parents either. She decides that she will have to stand up to Betty. A silent witness who makes his home in the woods sees all. Toby, a silent loner who arrived after World War I, roams the hills around Annabelle's farm. She is not afraid of him. Toby is gentle and quiet. He just wants to be left alone. He leads a simple life, hunting what meat he can find, and Annabelle's mother makes sure to send a plate of food with Annabelle up the road where she will leave it for Toby to find. The next day the washed plate is always left right where Annabelle set it, and Annabelle knows that Toby got a decent meal.

As the taunting and bullying from Betty comes to a head, suddenly Betty finds another ally. Farm boy Andy comes to school and soon Betty is too smitten by his attentions to bother Annabelle until the day that someone hurts Annabelle's friend Ruth. A rock thrown from the trees on the hill  changes Ruth's life forever and affects the entire community.

Betty blames Toby by saying that he was probably aiming at Mr. Ansel's wagon or Mr. Ansel. Annabelle knows Toby would never hurt anyone, and she wants to prove his innocence.

The life lessons contained in Wolf Hollow are reason enough for everyone to read this book. WWII changed the landscape of America forever. Many boys did not come home, and those who did never talked about the horrors of war they faced. They became silent witnesses, like Toby. Maybe some became scapegoats for others' crimes and misdeeds.

It is brilliant that a child like Annabelle could see the shining light in Toby when the adults could not. Maybe they did not look for it or did not look deeply or long enough. Adults can  be too quick to judge. They can form opinions of a quiet loner. They may think he is crazy, or stupid, or a lazy bum or a threat. But a child sees his honestly, his care, and his grace.

Bring tissues. Wolf Hollow will both break your heart and refresh your spirit!

This is the BEST childhood classic I have read in a very long time. It reminds me of Charlotte's Web and A Secret Garden. Every child and every adult should read this book. Do NOT miss this one.
School book clubs and reading clubs must read this book!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I purchased this book for my library. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

World Read Aloud Day

                                           World Read Aloud Day February 16, 2017

                                                             Skype in the Classroom 
                                                                Tips for Skype here
Be sure and sign up to Skype with an author with your kids! It's free! It's EPIC! 
Don't be left out....get out there and READ ALOUD! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Teen Tech Week Coming Soon: March 5-11, 2017

Sign up for Teen Tech Week March 5-11 
Create your Profile (you will receive an email with the link)
Download logos to use on your webpages, blogs, posters 
Teen Tech Week encourages students to use all the technology that the Library Media Center has to offer! Try something new!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Out of This World Pick: Mission To Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt

Mission To Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt
(Scientists in the Field book)
by Mary Kay Carson
Photos by Tom Uhlman
Illustrations by Jennifer Goldstick
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
73 pages
ISBN: 9780544416710

Editorial Reviews 

What a book! What a mission! It will make readers proud to be an American!

The first voyage to Pluto is the farthest that a mission has traveled at 3 billion miles, 4.8 billion kilometers) and it took 9 1/2 years! The mission is NASA's New Horizons Mission and is led by Alan Stern who dreamed of the mission for over 30 years.

Pluto and the Kuiper Belt has been shrouded in mystery since its discovery. Because it is so distant, scientists were unable to see it with telescopes until newer technology of the 2000's. New Horizons (the spacecraft) found that Pluto is covered with ice, carbon monoxide frost and snow with methane. Science believes there may be an underground ocean as well. It may take years to sort all the information gathered by New Horizons, but that is what excites NASA.

There are many firsts for this mission including the fact that New Horizons is the first mission to include an instrument built by a student. The spacecraft is able to get to Pluto and beyond because most of its electronics are in "hibernation" mode for years.

The book contains illustrations explaining the equipment and helpful diagrams enhance the text. Although cutting edge technology allowed the spacecraft to "hibernate," downloading photos from 3 billion miles away took two entire years from space! Imagine trying to view a photo on your phone that took two years to download!

Many early Pluto theories have been debunked by New Horizons Mission. Pluto is much larger than what scientists thought. Not just an ice planet, Pluto is changing planet geologically and may have ice volcanoes.

The mission is not over. New Horizons is currently on its journey to the Kuiper Belt. NASA estimates that New Horizons will arrive sometime in 2019 and then travel beyond into deep space until it runs out of plutonium.

Space enthusiasts will devour this fascinating book! Readers will be CAPTIVATED  by Carson's narration as she  presents scientific data in a accessible manner  and makes this a story worth reading. Photos from New Horizons are life-changing!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Non-Fiction Pick: Animals By the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics

Animals By the Numbers: A Book of Animal Infographics
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
48 pages
ISBN: 9780544630925

*“Compelling visual presentation makes the information accessible and exciting. Highly recommended for all science collections.”
--School Library Journal, STARRED review

*”A special treat for all who love animal statisitcs.”

--Kirkus, STARRED review

Animals By the Numbers is a visual treat for the eyes. Visual learners and ELL/ESL students will love Jenkins's eye-catching infographics, charts, pictures and captions that convey  information about animals. Cut  and torn paper collages make up most of the infographics, and the design shines off the pages! 
Who doesn't want to know what animals live in the coldest places on earth (emporer Penguins or the little known tardigrade, known as the water bear, who can live at temperatures varying from -328° to 304° F) or what animals are the leading cause of death of humans (mosquitoes have the record)?
The colorful illustrations are a feast and the facts are surprising in many cases and educational in every case. 
This is a MUST HAVE for any science or animal buff and should be included in all library collections. I am gifting this book to a dear young reader I know.  
Bravo, Steve Jenkins, for making science super cool! 
Highly recommended grade 4-up. Any animal lover of  any age will love this book. 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

World Building Pick: The Reader

The Reader
(Book One of Sea of Ink and Gold)
by Traci Chee
437 pages
ISBN: 9780399176777

If you read one book this entire year, make it this one! The Reader is that special. Master storyteller Traci Chee takes readers on a journey through time where anything can happen and what seems impossible is suddenly possible. To call this book an adventure book or a fantasy  or a pirate book or a dystopian book does it discredit. The Reader is...well, everything!

Sefia is on the run with her Aunt Nin. They hunt and trap, selling pelts at the market and sometimes stealing to stay alive. Sefia witnessed her father's brutal murder and vows to find the people responsible. When Nin is kidnapped and tortured, Sefia is on fire. No longer will she keep quiet. She will find those responsible and make them pay no matter what the cost is to Sefia herself.

Reading and books are unheard of in Sefia's world. It is a wonder then that she carries a square object in her pack, an object her father prized and hid from the world. When Sefia realizes that it is in fact a book, she knows to keep it hidden. Sefia studies the book's strange symbols and tries to unlock its secrets on her own. When she crosses paths with a strange boy in trouble, she helps him to safety and he seems bound to her forever.

The two meet legendary pirates when they accidentally stowaway on the pirate ship. Other forces are at work--dark forces that want the book. And there are librarians who will risk everything to save the book (my favorite!)

From the first page prologue, "Hello, If you're reading this, then maybe you know you ought to read everything. And maybe you know you ought to read deeply. Because there's witchery in these words and spellwork in the spine..." the reader will be swept away by the magic that is author Traci Chee.

Give this book to every reader! There is something in here for everyone. The premise of looking deeply...REALLY looking...reading deeply...searching for clues is genius! The Reader is that book that others will be compared to. It is that book that will win countless awards and rightly so.

One can only hope that book two will live up to book one's success.

So highly recommended I'm shouting it: READ THIS BOOK! READ IT NOW!
Grades 6-up. Violence, some bloody battles, no profanity, no sexual content.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks

I made this list from several sources I have read. Tweaked it for my library. I created a Piktochart  here

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks!
  1. You can experience things you would never do
  2. You can read in any weather
  3. You can experience the past
  4. You can dream about the future
  5. It’s the cheapest way to travel anywhere
  6. It doesn’t require batteries
  7. You may become  smarter than a 5th Grader
  8. Reading increases brain power—it’s heavy lifting for the brain
  9. You can learn how things work
  10. Reading is a great escape
  11. Reading stimulates creativity
  12. The mind…a terrible thing to waste
  13. You never know what you might find out from a book
  14. You will never outgrow reading
  15. Reading helps you become a better writer
  16. You will find new heroes in reading and some old friends!
  17. Reading is inspiring
  18. Reading satisfies curiosity
  19. Reading expands your mind
  20. The book is ALWAYS way better than the movie!
                         Reading----the ultimate superpower!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Action Pick: Boy X

Boy X
by Dan Smith
Chicken House
288 pages
ISBN: 9781338065640

Available February 28, 2017

Kdnapped, drugged, and transported to a remote location, Ash wakes up in a bed surrounded by stark white walls. He remembers bits and pieces of being kidnapped along with his mother, and he begins searching this hospital (prison?) for her. The place is deserted and Ash cannot find any clues about where he is until he sees the view from the front doors. It looks like he is stuck in the middle of a jungle somewhere. Ash exits the doors, goes into the forest and sees a girl about his age. She tells him he is on Isla Negra, Black Island, and that her father works inside the BioSphere (the building he woke up in). Ash and Isobel go inside to search for her father and Ash's mother.

 Gunshots ring out, a helicopter crashes, the building is sealed, and their  parents are locked inside of a lab.  There they were exposed to Kronos, a poison that will kill them in 24 hours unless they get the antidote. Ash feels strange and disoriented. He has a heightened sense of smell and hearing. Ash is changing, and he's not the only one.

Ash is determined to save his mother's life but he'll need the help of Isobel to cross the island, find the thieves, steal the poison back along with the antidote, and stay alive long enough to deliver it to BioSphere and save his mother and Isobel's father.

What is BioSphere and why is Ash's mother involved? What happened to Ash when he was unconscious? And who wants to change him?

Fast pacing and non-stop action make this a must read for reluctant readers. Each chapter shows a clock showing hours and minutes left that the kids have to get the poison and cure. Readers will feel on edge as Ash races to save the world and his mother.

Highly recommended for action and adventure junkies. Anyone who loves a medical mystery/government cover up story will love Boy X.

Grades 4-8.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Non-Fiction Pick: Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
176 pages
ISBN: 978054431959

Fascinating and extensively researched, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White pays homage to one of America's most beloved children's writers.  Young readers will be amused and captivated by White's childhood notebooks and sketches. Showing artistic and literary promise from a young age, White's journals and papers narrate his life.

Bookish and shy, White was no good at sports although he did enjoy summers in Maine, canoeing and swimming. When WWI broke out, White did not weigh enough to serve in the military. He always loved Maine and returned there after college. After living and working in New York, he sought the solace of Maine and bought a farm that would end up being the model for Charlotte's Web.
It was unheard of in those days for a serious writer to jump from adult fiction to writing children's books, but White wrote Stuart Little which came under fire from critics and librarians. The adults did not know what children did. Young readers loved the fact that a mouse was born to a human family. Children could imagine!

Charlotte's Web is probably the most loved children's book of all time. Writer Eudora Welty praised it saying, "...as a piece of work it is just about perfect." Kate diCamilio says of White's style, "The thing about White that comforts and fascinates me (and challenges me) is how he manages to make his words matter more. It is as if he is able to make one word do the work of ten."

The book is marketed for middle readers it is enjoyable for anyone who loves words, writing, books, reading and magic. E.B. White made generations believe in magic decades before there was a young boy named Harry Potter, and we are all better for it. He believed, "Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick and generally congenial readers on earth....." Because of this, he never wrote down to them. He inspired them and was inspired by them.

HIGHLY, highly recommended for every reader from eight to eighty and beyond. This is one of the best biographies I have read.

FTC Required Disclaimer; I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Middle Grades Pick: Brightwood

by Tania Unsworth
Algonquin Young Readers
260 pages
ISBN: 9781616203306

Compelling and mesmerizing, Brightwood is a dazzling middle grades read sure to captivate!

Eleven year old Daisy is still waiting for her mother to return to Brightwood. It has been five, or was it, six hours ago that she left? Daisy knows her mother would never go away and not return. Daisy hunkers down in their moldering mansion and awakens to find her mother still missing. It is just the two of them, and Daisy has never left the grounds of Brightwood, not once. Her mother has made it painfully clear that there is nothing out there in the world beyond the gates for Daisy. What can she do now?

There is enough to eat--more than enough. Daisy's mother buys in bulk--everything in bulk. In fact, it is hard to maneuver in the mansion. Even the once grand ballroom is stuffed with boxes and old furniture. Daisy has to clear paths to walk. Keeping her company is her pet rat Tar (aptly named Tar because it is rat backwards) who not only talks but  has a wicked sense of humor. After the first day, Daisy meets a specter of a black and white girl named Frank. Frank has been around the world on expeditions with Daisy's own kooky grandfather. As Daisy begins to panic, Frank is the voice of reason who calms Daisy and talks her through problems.

A stranger shows up and acts like he is right  at home. Daisy is afraid of the newcomer and talks it over with Frank who warns her that the stranger seems to be taking over Brightwood. Daisy looks for clues not only to where her mother could have gone, but also who this newcomer could be and what could he want. When she realizes that the stranger is her mother's cousin--the estranged black sheep of  the family--Daisy goes into defense mode. his words are chilling:  "Nobody  knows you exist."  What are the odds a sheltered eleven year old, a pet rat and a made-up friend defeating a maniacal killer?

Brightwood is everything a story should be! The setting is a creepy, near abandoned mansion located far from help. There is a  missing mother, a scared eleven year old girl who has to rely on herself to save her own life and that of her mother, a family secret, generations of mental illness, strange ancestors, strange family portraits, and rooms full of boxes that hold the clues that will save Daisy and Brightwood.

Cover art is beautiful and evokes a sense of gloominess: the mansion in the background, trees and grass overgrown, the massive iron gate holding Daisy inside the grounds, a girl at the window looking out hoping to see her mother. 

Highly, highly recommended for all middle grades and anyone who gets lost in a great story. I LOVED Daisy! If you know readers 8-up, give them Brightwood. They will love it.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Top Titles 2016: YA and Middle Grades

Pamela's Picks 2016 (Prezi)

It has been a great year for YA and middle grades, too! With so many books to choose from, I've developed my list of favorites this year. Click the link for a Prezi 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

YA Pick: Spontaneous

by Aaron Starmer
Dutton Books
355 pages
ISBN: 9780525429746

Laugh out loud hilarious, Spontaneous will leave readers snorting with laughter.  Then they realize that they are laughing at a teenager  who just blew up. While that is not cause for laughter in a normal world, Starmer frames teens blowing up in such a comic way they it is instantly (spontaneously) hilarious. This kind of black comedy is rare in YA and done only by a few writers like Andrew Smith and Libba Bray.

When teens begin blowing up, Mara Carlyle  is present each time a classmate meets a  terrible demise. She has the record, in fact, of most teen blow-ups witnessed.  As time wears on, Mara treats it like combing her hair in the morning--just a part of life. Mara is glib, witty and chatty as the narrator and takes the reader on an entertaining journey through her senior year. While insensitive and blatant, Mara uses it as a coping mechanism against the blood and gore around her. Instead of breakups and make-ups, it's blow ups and clean ups. When it becomes obvious that kids from the senior class are blowing up and it's not some random thing that cannot be explained, the government gets involved and surrounds the city. The kids are now prisoners and then lab rats. What is causing the senior class of Covington High to blow up?  Is it something they ingested? Something they took in an illegal drug? Did they pick up a parasite? Is it a medical condition?

The agent covering the case is FBI agent Carla Rosetti who Mara secretly admires, even striving to be her best buddy. The agent lets her know that the government may indeed be involved. She gives Mara and her  bff Tess burner phones to contact her if they find out anything about the case.

Spontaneous is enjoyable and entertaining although some may find the ending disappointing as the cause of the blowups is never addressed. Readers will have to write their own ending to this novel.

Recommended for laughs! High school grades 9-up. Profanity, lots of sex, bad behavior, alcohol, drugs, partying like it's 1999--hey, they are all blowing up, you know.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mystery Pick: Running Girl

Running Girl
(Garvie Smith Mysteries, Book 1)
by Simon Mason
David Fickling Books
432 pages
ISBN: 9781338036428

Garvie Smith is a genius. He is smarter than any student at Marsh Academy but also is failing all his classes. His teachers and school bore him. It is not until his ex-girlfriend Chloe  is murdered that Garvie is interested in leaving his room.

The police are investigating, but Garvie knows they need help. Working alone, Garvie will leave no stone unturned in Chloe's murder. Inspector Singh is no slouch at police work. He is methodical and precise. He advises Garvie to leave the investigating up to the police, but Garvie does not listen.

Everywhere Garvie goes, Singh is right behind him. This is infuriating to the policeman. He orders Garvie off the case, but the teen is not hearing it at all. The dynamic between the adult detective and teen genius is competitive in nature  but each admires the other.

Garvie begins to investigate some nefarious characters and finds himself in dangerous surroundings. With his keen eye and his Sherlock Holmes' deductive reasoning he is able to know who the true killer is before the police can move in.

American readers will find Running Girl charming with its British place names and some slang words. America seems to have a love affair with all things British: One Direction, Adele, Lord, and way before them: the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the British Invasion.

Recommended for high school readers grade 9-up. This is a solid detective/police thriller and mystery story with a memorable character: Garvie Smith.

Profanity, drug use, sex, mature themes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Hour of Code December 5-11: New games, new codes, new apps

New games, new codes and new apps! December 5-11  is fast approaching. Take a look here for all that is NEW!  

Teachers, sign up your students for an EVENT! 
Join millions of students worldwide in learning code.
Go beyond the event and teach all year. The site is full of content for coding.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (book 11)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down (Book 11)
by Jeff Kinney
217 pages
ISBN: 9781419723445

Readers young and old  know what makes Greg Heffley endearing and likable, but how do they convey their feelings  to adults who may have never heard of Wimpy Kid books? (Okay, I cannot imagine anyone who has not heard of  Wimpy Kid, but I guess some exist)  They may tell you that he is like every kid who ever came before him. He is funny, sarcastic, sloppy, lazy, intelligent but unchallenged, misunderstood and adorable. In a word, he is like them, the every child, and that is what makes Wimpy Kids books worldwide bestsellers and Jeff Kinney one of the most influential people on the planet!

Book 11 does not disappoint. It is a glimpse into the mind of Greg Heffley, and it is hilarious.  Greg swears he is on some secret reality show where he is the star of the show. In order to keep his audience entertained, he whispers funny asides to the hidden cameras. Later, thinking that aliens from space are so advanced they send houseflies in  as their drones to gather information on human life before deciding to invade. Why they seem to be attracted to dog poop, Greg cannot answer. 

Greg continues to entertain with stories about school and Rowley, his best friend. Greg goes so far as to join the school band, not that he wants to play an instrument or for the pleasure, but just so he can get invited to the hottest middle school party of the year. Talk about over achievement!  Of course on the night of the band recital, Greg somehow manages to get himself locked up in the band room with no way out. Not only that, he splits his pants so that even if he is rescued, there is no way he can appear on stage. 

Jeff Kenney's sense of humor comes through in copy and in hilarious illustrations. There is no stopping Wimpy Kid. Kenney is now on his second world tour visiting all the countries where kids love Greg Heffley. Double Down is currently #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 

Highly, highly recommended for all ages! 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not not receive monetary compensation for this review.