Thursday, September 10, 2020

YA Pick: The Inheritance Games (Review Coming Soon!)


The Inheritance Games

by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Little Brown Books for Young Readers


384 pages

ISBN: 9781368052405

Cover art is CAPTIVATING and FANTASTIC. This is one cover readers won't be able to leave on the shelf! 

Life is a game when you're incredibly wealthy. Not so much fun if you're incredibly poor....

Review coming soon! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Halloween Pick: Happy Halloween From the Very Busy Spider

Happy Halloween From the Very Busy Spider
by Eric Carle
The World of Eric Carle/Penguin Random House LLC
10 pages
ISBN: 9780593097106

An excellent lift-the-flap book from Eric Carle. The one will delight littles because they can interact with the story. Even though they will learn what is behind each flap, they will have a great time reading and re-reading this little picture book.

Busy spider is searching for her friends: fox, owl, bat and caterpillar. She wants to find them before a night of scary, spooky fun on Halloween. Let young readers guess what can be behind each flap, or pretend you don't know and give them outrageous guesses of your own. Sure to be a favorite especially for Halloween.


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Shark Lover Pick: Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures


Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures
by Mike Lowery
Illustrations by the author 
Orchard Books 
Scholastic Inc.
128 pages
ISBN: 9781338359732

Available October 6, 2020

Mike Lowery brings the FUN! Fully illustrated with cool facts future marine biologists will love, this book is easy to read, perfect for the reluctant readers, and those who love graphic novels will gravitate towards this informative trove of information. 

Kids will learn facts like: 1 drop of sea water has over 1,000,000 viruses! and the tiger shark is one of the most dangerous sharks in the water! Did you know some sharks can live up to 400 years? or that Octopus (octopi) have 3 hearts? 

There's a bonus section teaching kids  how to draw sharks and other sea creatures, jokes about the ocean and a list of reference books. 

MUST HAVE, MUST READ for animal lovers, future marine biologists, non-fiction readers and anyone who loves Shark Week! 

Grades 2 and up. Great for middle school and beyond. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Non-Fiction Pick: Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed

Eleanor Makes Her Mark: How Eleanor Roosevelt Reached Out, Spoke Up, and Changed the World
by Barbara Kerley
Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Scholastic Press
48 pages
ISBN: 9780545821629

October 6, 2020

A thorough look at the life and learning of Eleanor Roosevelt and how she refused to be delegated to the background of the White House. Eleanor was constantly learning, traveling and asking questions in order to understand the plight of working people across the country. 

An easy read and reluctant readers will love the picture book approach to biography. 

Recommended grade 2 and up. Middle school ELL students and reluctant readers will find this one a prize. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Fun Halloween Pick: The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo!
by Elaine Bickell
Illustrated by Raymond McGrath
Penguin Random House
32 pages
ISBN: 9780593202159
August 18, 2020

The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! is a Halloween TREAT! 

Little Boo looks sad on the cover for good reason: she's lost her ability to Boo! and without her scary voice, what is a little ghost to do? She runs to Mama Ghost to tell her, but Mama says maybe your nights out scaring are over. Boo won't accept that, so she goes in search of her lost voice. 

She meets Owl, Pigeon, Rooster and Cow who all offer her their own voices of Whoo Whoo, Coo, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo and Moo, but Boo is forlorn until she looks up and sees YOU, the reader! Young kids will love to join in and shout BOO! to help Little Boo!

Fun rhyming text will delight children and funny, whimsical illustrations capture all of Little Boo's emotions as she looks for her lost power. This is one beautiful picture book! The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! is destined to be the year's best Halloween read-aloud! Great fun! and BOO! 

Highly, highly recommended for ages 2 and up. Kids will beg, "Read it again! Again! Again!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

YA Pick: Dreamwalkers

"Mystical, magical and ethereal...a compelling tale of desert magic, dangerous government secrets, the all-in chemistry of first love and the power to control the world of dreams." --from the cover, Young Adult Books--What We're Reading Now 

by Leslie Rush
Filles Vertes Publishing
355 pages
ISBN: 9781946802606

Available October 6, 2020
Pre-order now 

Mystical, magical, powerful and ethereal, Dreamwalkers is a compelling tale of desert magic, dangerous government secrets, the all-in chemistry of first love and the power to control the world of dreams set in an enchanted land where rugged, often unforgivable, terrain hides danger and government secrets are safe.

Sixteen year old Vivan Night Hawk is working in her mother’s crystal and tarot shop in the tourist-friendly square of tiny Zia, New Mexico. After a worn leather jacket arrives in the shop, Vivi claims it as her own because it reminds her of her father. One lone feather in the pocket holds a special magic. Vivi begins dreaming more detailed and vivid lucid dreams. Vivi learns her power to dream is handed down from her Apache father. She practices controlling her dreams, stepping in and out of them, and seeing her (dead?) father who warns her that her genius little brother Brian is in danger. Dad tells her bad people are coming for Brian because they believe he is the dreamwalker, not VIvi. Vivi meets cute guy Lucas who also shares the power of lucid dreaming. He tells Vivi both of their fathers are MIA or presumed dead. Lucas convinces Vivi that their fathers are alive, and using their powers of lucid dreaming, they have to find out what happened to them. The closer the two get to answers, the more danger they are in. It is not only bad people trying to control them. A decades old secret government project surfaces, and the kids are in a fight for their lives.

Dreamwalkers is set in a color drenched, panoramic tourist town in the mountains of New Mexico, and brought to life with lush details: the scent of sage, mesquite, pinon, and cottonwoods.The author captures the beauty of mountain sunsets and the threatening power of a desert thunderstorm. Dreamwalkers captivates readers with enchanting imagery and the slippery magic of New Mexico as the author uses broad brushstrokes of prose and descriptive hues evocative of master painter (and New Mexico favorite) Georgia O’Keefe. 

Highly, highly recommended for fans of romance, YA fans, and any reader who loves an evil and corrupt government cover-up and a great story. For middle school and older. No sexual content. A few sweet kisses.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

YA Pick: Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy

Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy
Kelly Jensen, editor
Algonquin Young Readers 
256 pages 
ISBN: 9781616209674

Available August 18, 2020 

Sometimes painful, sometimes funny, Body Talk is about acceptance and love. 

An anthology of personal stories of struggle and strength, love and acceptance, power and and self-assurance, this collection will touch the lives of all readers whether they are going through their own struggles or if someone they love needs a helping hand and a healing heart. 

Each story is different and about different forms of body acceptance. Weight is only one topic considered. Others include birthmarks, scoliosis, body hair, "junk," menstruation, asexuality, self-love, self-acceptance, is it okay to use the word "fat?," being too skinny, and even the practice of marketing products to those who identify as female and charging them a "pink tax." 

Sometimes painful, sometimes funny, Body Talk is a must-have for any non-fiction collection in the high school and college library. Celebrity voices Aly Raisman and Tyra Banks, YA writers Kara Thomas and  Julie Murphy and Alex Gino, agent Eric Smith and podcasters, editors, activists and social media persons speak their truths in truly refreshing, remarkable ways. 

Highly recommended grade 8 and up (depending on your community). Middle school libraries in progressive, forward-minded communities may be fine with this purchase. Real health and real sex talk. 


Saturday, July 18, 2020

YA Pick: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling
by Wai Chim
Scholastic Press
336 pages
ISBN: 9781338656121

Available November 10, 2020

Sixteen-year old Anna Chiu has all the responsibilities of and adult She's only in high school and should be worried about grades, clothes, learning to drive, figuring out her next move: college or career? and of course, first love. But Anna is in charge of her entire household. Due to her mother's mental illness, Anna must care for her younger siblings, take care of her mother, work in her family's restaurant and continue to be a competitive student in every class. Her father's expectations are exceedingly high, and it's easy to feel anxious and overwhelmed. 

Mental illness and the stigma attached to it is rarely addressed in the Chinese American community (author Wai Chim is first generation Chinese American), but this YA novel illustrates the need for more understanding and empathy within the affected family and the larger community. The sweet romance between Anna and Rory is a plus and keeps this heavy subject from being overly preachy or didactic. 

And there's little in the world more powerful than a good dumpling! 

Recommended for any romance fan. 

A solid choice for YA romance collections grades 9 and up. 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Picture Book Pick: Non-Fiction: Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid

Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid
by Victoria Tetntler-Krylov
Illustrations by the author 
Orchard Books
48 pages
ISBN: 9781338282832

Available December 1, 2020 

Beautifully illustrated and lovingly designed, worthy of approval from Zaha herself, this biography/picture book celebrates the life and designs of architect Zaha Hadid. 

Zaha loved math and solving problems and had a mind for design. She saw beauty and art in nature and in building and couldn't pass a construction site without stopping to sketch it. 

Leaving her home in Baghdad, she studied architecture in London and made quite a splash with her unconventional building designs. She entered contests and her designs won. As she became more famous, she received phone calls from other countries to design buildings that imitated flight or moving water. Soon, Zaha designed an art gallery in the United States, and from there, she was jet-setting around the world designing projects for housing and public use. She won the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious award for architecture, and she was the youngest person ever to win. 

The picture book is a MUST HAVE for any biography section and celebrates achievements by a woman in history in a field mostly populated by male counterparts. Hadid stood alone as a titan of design for her unique perspectives in building. 

Highly, highly recommended grade 3 and up. Younger kids will enjoy hearing the story. With author's note, timeline and bibliography. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

YA Romance: As much As I Ever Could

As Much As I Ever Could
by Brandy Woods Snow
Filles Vertes Publishing 
300 pages
ISBN: 9781946802583

A satisfying summer romance set in picturesque Edisto--a small beach town--what could be better than that? 

CJ doesn't drive. After a horrific car accident that kills her mom and sister, CJ suffers survivor's guilt. Her father becomes a shell of a man--sad. silent, unreachable. He drops CJ off at a small grocery store in Edisto, South Carolina, where she'll be staying with her Memaw for the summer. 

While waiting for her ride,  CJ meets locals Jen and Bo and hot guy Jett. Although instantly attracted to Jett, CJ is less inclined when she finds out he's a hot shot driver destined for NASCAR. 

Jett has his own problems, but with CJ's friendship, he begins to open up and deal with problems. Both characters help each other which is a fresh look at YA romance. CJ is no princess waiting to be saved. She is much stronger than she is vulnerable. Even in moments she seems weak, there is an underlying strength. Teen readers and romance readers need more stories where women are portrayed as strong even if they appear broken, 

Edisto is a compelling setting in that it sets up for the perfect beach read. Throw this novel into your beach bag and hit the beach. It has all the summer vibes necessary for a smoldering romance that is hard to resist. 

Perfect for anyone who loves a small town romance or readers who love tales of the South and fast cars! 

Recommended grade 9 and up and for all romance fans. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Best Picture Book of 2020: The Worrysaurus

The Worrysaurus
by Rachel Bright
Illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Orchard Books
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338634082

Winsome rhyming lines which sound like music by Rachel Bright and cute, captivating illustrations by Chris Chatterton make this picture book perfect! If you can only buy one book as a gift for a child, this is the one! 

Poor little Worrysaurus! He has planned such a fantastic day: he's packed his snacks and art supplies and begins his adventure, but it isn't too long and he gets anxious and begins to worry. He questions whether has has enough snacks or enough water.

He meets a little lizard who claims there might be a storm coming, and Worrysaurus starts to think of all the bad things that could happen. He feels a worry butterfly in his belly but remembers his mother's wisdom: 

"If it's not a happy ending, then it hasn't ended yet." 

What a beautiful sentiment! With that memory, Worrysaurus holds all his special items and toys and his worry begins to fade away. He shares his lunch with the lizard and realizes he has the power to calm the butterfly feeling in his own belly. 

In an anxious world, children will need to learn coping skills. The Worrysaurus teaches them about being anxious and worried, but learning to calm down. Because Worrysaurus seems like a cartoon or stuffed animal, kids won't take the story as a sermon. Young readers will empathize with Worrysaurus and want him to be okay. What a postitive picture book! 

Highly, highly recommended! FIVE STARS! This one will win awards and be the runaway picture book of the year! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Series Pick: Tyrannosaurus Wrecks (Book 6)

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks
by Stuart Gibbs 
A Funjungle novel (Book 6)
Simon & Schuster 
321 pages
ISBN: 9781534443754

An exciting mystery for middle grade/young adult readers who crave solving a case(s) that is/are tangled and full of suspicion. Stuart Gibbs is the master of entertaining stories and a cast of characters that are engaging and smart. 

When Sage invites Teddy to his family's ranch, no one suspects trouble. Somehow someone stole a 500lb. dinosaur skull worth millions in the middle of a rainstorm without leaving any clues! Sage's family was hoping/counting on the dig to help them save their cattle ranch. Teddy reluctantly agrees to help solve the mystery.

Meanwhile his old frenemies, the Barksdale twins contact Teddy. Their cat was swallowed by an anaconda and they want to know how to get their cat back.  Teddy's famous girlfriend Summer wants to help solve the T-rex case, but also wants to stay out of the public eye. 

Readers learn about smuggling and illegal trafficking of exotic pets, but this does not hurt the story. In fact, the two cases will keep readers guessing and Teddy is in more danger than ever before.

This is books 6 in the Funjungle series, but readers do not have to read the books in order, but really, why wouldn't they want to read them all? 

Highly recommended grade 5 and up and anyone who loves mysteries. An author note about animal trafficking and reptile and exotic pet smuggling is included as well as a note that dogs and cats need homes and love also. A caution to do research before purchasing any animal is included and I thank the author for this. So many times, parents buy/get pets for their children without doing proper research and then give them up or worse, set them free in the wild where the animal may not be able to care for itself. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Classic Retelling: Chicken Litttle: The Real and Totally True Tale

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale
by Sam Wedelich
Illustrations by the author
40 pages
ISBN: 9781338359015

Witty, whimsical, FUNNY, and clever! Sam Wedelich delivers a cute cautionary tale in his humorous imagining of the classic tale about a farmyard gossip! 

This little Chicken Little isn't much afraid of anything. She knows science, and can figure things out doing some fact-checking and information gathering. When a BONK on her head sends her scurrying for answers, Chicken Little is quick to gather facts. 

Scientific and fun sounding words will leave little ones giggling: preposterous, gravity, horde, meteors, utter, clucky, chaos!

Fun word play on the word pandamonium becomes hen-damonium. The barnyard chickens aren't much help as they band together clucking and worrying, but Chicken Little finds the answers and calms the crowd. 

Truly a fun read-aloud! Make sure you bring your character voices for performing this quirky read. Kids will create their own dialog and likely memorize the funny lines of this little beauty! 

STEM for beginning readers and scientists. Any young (or old) reader will chuckle at this beloved rendering of Chicken Little. She's not a worried little chick any more, she a boss chicken! 

Highly, highly recommended ages 4-8 and older for some of the ideas like "free-range" chickens and grin and nod to Snopes (Snipes). 

Friday, June 26, 2020

Scary Picture Book Pick: Shadow in the Woods and Other Scary Stories

Shadow in the Woods and Other Scary Stories, Book #2 Mr. Shivers series.
by Max Brallier
Illustrated by Letizia Rubenchi
Acorn Books
64 pages
ISBN: 9781338615432

A collection of five spooky short stories, Shadow in the Woods may become your little's favorite storybook. Marketed for ages 5-7, it's for those readers who aren't quit ready for Goosebumps series. Easy to read and beautifully illustrated, yet just creepy enough to leave readers with a few goosebumps and giggles of their own, this little book is a treasure! 

Max Brallier continues to entertain young readers with fun and spooky content! "Fingernails" is truly creepy, YIKES! 

If you have kids who love a little scare, Mr. Shivers books are for them. 

Recommended for beginning readers ages 5-7 and older! Fun stuff! 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Romance Pick: What I Like About You

What I Like About You
by Marisa Kanter
Simon & Schuster
409 pages
ISBN: 9781534445772

A cute read about falling in love in the digital world. A twist on the old tale of Cyrano except instead of her best friend writing her love interest, Halle is a screen presence named Kels, a dynamic food blogger with big personality. 

When Halle moves to her Gramps' small town, she finds herself face-to-face with Nash, the cool graphic artist she's falling in love with online. Faced with the dilemma of what to tell Nash and when, Halle needs to figure it out because Nash is in love with her, but not her. He's in love with online her: Kels.

For readers who enjoy romance and cute meet-ups. 

Recommended grade 7 and up.