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Monday, June 27, 2022

Picture Book Pick: Take a Breath

 Take a Breath 

by Sujean Rim

Illustrations by the author

A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book

Atheneum Books for Young Readers


40 pages

ISBN: 9781543392530

Bob is a baby bird who yearns to fly like all the other birds. He tries and tries, but always ends up...not flying. Bob tries to stay busy to keep his mind off flying, but he wants so badly to be normal. 

A passing crow stops to ask Bob what's wrong. Bob tells Crow his troubles. Crow listens and agrees that learning to fly is tough. He had trouble himself. Crow encourages Bob to calm down and learn to breath. Bob thinks Crow is making fun of him because he's been breathing his entire life! But Crow shows Bob how to center himself, calm down and relax. They practice cleansing yoga breaths together. Bob feels so much better! He knows he can fly and he feels great about himself. 

The last line of the story is powerful: "Sometimes you just have to be grounded before you can fly." Anyone learning a new passion will love Take a Breath. 

The back cover illustration is a joke in itself. Well-done! 

Highly, highly recommended ages 3-8. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

MG Pick: Field Guide To the Supernatural Universe


Field Guide To the Supernatural Universe

by Alyson Noel

Margaret K. McElderry Books

An Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division 


339 pages'

ISBN: 9781534498235

Max has been seeing ghosts for years, and he's blamed for all kinds of ghostly quirky pranks. Because others can't see Max's ghosts, poor Max takes the blame. When his father (who doesn't believe in ghosts) sends him to live with his grandfather for the summer, Max meets his eccentric grandfather, Ramhart Woodbead, world's greatest monster hunter and collector of extraordinary knowledge. The town of Glimmerville itself is enchanted: ghosts appear everywhere and none of them hide, werewolves, magic pies; it's a veritable Charlie and the Chocolate Factory full of supernatural. At first Max is scared and wary, but Wodehouse Manor begins to grow on him. 

When Ramhart's soul is stolen, Max must go on a hero's journey to find his grandfather's Guide To the Supernatural Universe to put his grandfather right. Glimmerville depends on Max to exist. Max has a habit of listing his top five terrifying things at the beginning of most chapters. It will keep middle grade readers turning the pages with anticipation of more magical discoveries like mutant glowworms, time slips, werewolves, zombies and supernatural storms. 

Time is ticking away and Max better hurry before Ramhart is doomed forever. Max must save the day in order to stay in the first place he feels at home. 

Alyson Noel's imagination truly knows no bounds. This is an enchanting tale is full of whimsy that rollicks and celebrates. I loved Field Guide To the Supernatural Universe and MG readers of all ages will love it, too! Bound to be awarded this year as one of the best books for middle grade, and you heard it here first! 

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who enjoys fantasy and fantastical beings. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

YA Pick: Go Hunt Me


Go Hunt Me

by Kelly Devos




310 pages

ISBN: 9780593204856

It's senior year for Alex Rush and her friend group: business-like Hazel, beautiful Kenna, Reagan who is secretly in love with Alex, Alex's boyfriend Jax, sweet Maddie and computer wizard Carter. They've made horror films together for years, Alex REALLY needs this project to help her get into USC film school. When she's not accepted, she has a near breakdown in a restaurant bathroom. Lucky for her, a chance meeting with a famous actress becomes her opportunity. 

The friend group decides to set up a GoFundMe account. Using the money the group leaves for Romania with the idea of filming in Vlad Dracul's (Bram Stroker's Dracula) actual castle. The famous actress pulls all the permits and handles their travel arrangements, but leaving the kids to fend for themselves in a strange country inside an even stranger castle with an infamous past and taken care of by a creepy cousin of the actress.

Locked doors must remain locked he instructs them which only sets off their group paranoia. Soon, they realize this is the chance they need for all of them to get into their chosen schools and decide to go forward with filming their last film together. The castle proves to be as spooky as they thought when Alex catches a glimpse of a masked man and then their GoFundMe money goes missing. It goes from bad to worse when Maddie goes missing. 

Someone is after them, and there seems to be no escaping the castle or each other. One by one (And Then There Were None) the teens meet death. What is the truth? It all depends on who tells the story. 

Edge of your seat tingles and excellent pacing keep the reader wondering who will be next? And who or what is after them? 

Inspired by the story of Dracula with the right amount of One of Us Is Lying, Go Hunt Me is a winning read that will keep YA readers turning the pages as they hunger (pun intended) for more. Kelly Devos is at the top of her game, so watch out YA fans. I'm sure she has more creepy monsters for us! 

Highly, highly recommended grades 8 and up. Gore, violence but nothing teens haven't seen on CW or witnessed on the news or network television. 


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Sports Pick: Just Like Jesse Owens


Just Like Jesse Owens

by Ambassador Andrew Young

as told to Paula Young Shelton

Illustrated by Gordon C. James


Available on shelf: August 2, 2022

20 pages

ISBN: 9780545554657

Set in the segregated South, a young boy tells about playing with both black and white kids because nobody what color you were on the playground. Color didn't matter to the kids. What mattered was how fast you were, how well you could throw a ball, how athletic you were. 

When Andrew asks his father who Hitler is, his father explains Hitler is the chancellor of Germany and that he believes White Christians are better than colored folks or the Jewish men his father trades with. He explains racism is a sickness and the only way to deal with it is to be the best person you can be. 

Father and Andrew to to a movie theater where they must sit in the "Coloreds only section," but Andrew doesn't care once the movie starts. He sees a newsreel of the 1936 Olympics and American athlete Jesse Owens. Jesse Owens inspired young Andrew to be the best he can possibly be "just like Jesse Owens."

 The author's and illustrator's notes as well as the paragraph at the end on Jesse Owens help children understand the time period (1936) and Andrew Young's rise in politics as he became an ambassador and "worked with the leadership of the city to bring the 1996 Olympic Games to Atlanta." 

What a lovely tribute to Andrew Young and his family. Soft pastel illustrations by Gordon C. James make Just Like Jesse Owens a piece of artwork with words. Likely to be heavily nominated for many awards this year, Just like Jesse Owens is sure to be in the running for the Caldecott and the Coretta Scott King awards. 

Highly, highly recommended grades 1-4 and for every American history classroom. 

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Turtle Rescue Pick: Hawaii Sea Turtle Rescue


Hawaii Sea Turtle Rescue

Fabien Cousteau Expeditions  

by James O. Fraioli

Illustrated by Joe St Pierre

Margaret K. McElderry Books

Simon & Schuster's Children;s Publishing Division


112 pages

ISBN: 9781534420977

Hawaii Sea Turtle Rescue is a fictional work based on actual expedition.

Sea turtles are endangered. Sharks kill many of them and mankind hunted them to near extinction for the turtle's shell, but the biggest threat to sea turtles is the existence of ghost nets,ngled in one, they cannot surface for air. The grandson of Jacques Cousteau, Fabian Cousteau continues his grandfather's legacy to study, record and save marine life. 

Junior Expeditioners Bianca and Baylor join a sea turtle rescue team to locate a giant ghost net and make sure no other sea turtles or other animals are caught in it. Colorful illustrations bring this story to life in an easy graphic novel and reluctant readers will be caught up in the story. The graphic novel format helps struggling readers and will keep them turning pages. 

An enjoyable story with facts about the ocean, coral reefs, man's danger to the oceans, and ways we can all help save our ecosystem. The oceans are "...our planet's life-support system," which is a fact every human needs to know and respect. Endangering the oceans is endangering ourselves. 

Highly recommended for non-fiction readers, graphic novel fans and especially future marine biologists and everyone who chooses to save our planet. Grades 4-8.  

Friday, June 3, 2022

YA Feel Good Pick: Margot Mertz Takes It Down


Margot Mertz Takes It Down
by Carrie McCrossing & Ian McWethy
Penguin Books for Young Readers
Penguin Random House
384 pages
ISBN: 9870593205259

Margot Mertz Takes It Down tackles online sexploitation and bullying, revenge porn, sharing images of underage girls without their permission and seriously bad and felonious online behavior. Margot Mertz is sly, sarcastic to the point of greatness, caustic to those who use others, and the girl every girl admires and every boy might be afraid to date (lol). 

If you have a mess online, if a spouse or former lover has posted something awful about you, if someone snapped a photo of you doing something "bad" at a party, Margot can take care of it. With her knowledge of hacking and help from her BFF hacker extraordinaire tech buddy Sammi, Margot hits villains where it hurts the most--their online presence. 

When a case is brought to her by a girl at her school, Margot's horrified that Roosevelt Bitches website is operating and has posted nudes of several girls at her school. Margot will be sure and make whoever (asshole) has posted and maintains this website pay. First things first, she makes a list of possible suspects (assholes) who either have the tech skills to pull a website off and/or an axe to grind against these girls. 

She decides she needs insider information and goes to great lengths to get Avery to "like" her. Avery is handsome and popular and knows literally everyone at Roosevelt and gets along with everyone. Plus, Avery is in almost every group or club on campus. 

The voice of Margot is hilarious and her footnotes are even funnier that the content noted. An awesome, funny read for anyone with a sense of humor. 
I read one review from a high school librarian who said she'd not put it on the shelf of her library because it's about revenge porn among high school minors and laced with f-bombs. My comeback to said librarian is: REALLY? Are you living in the past? It's all about online behavior and YES, minors send porn to each other. It's illegal, but it's happening. You can't stand by with your blindfold. I'd rather have teens read about it and a strong girl who takes action against a group of felons who tried very hard to ruin the girls' lives. 

grades 8 and up. If the f-bombs offend you, this isn't a book for you.

Highly, highly recommended and most likely to receive big awards this year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Non-Fiction Pick: When the World Runs Dry


When the World Runs Dry: Earth's Water in Crisis

by Nancy F. Castaldo

Algonquin Young Readers 


208 pages

ISBN: 9781616209711

"A wake-up call to readers about the facility of something many of us take for granted." 

---Horn Book Magazine 

The Earth truly is in crisis mode, but there is something we can do about it if we act now. Pollutants including coal, fracking, industrial waste, and algae blooms are contaminating America's water supply, The U. S. is not the only country in trouble. Worldwide, water supply and demand is in crisis. 

The rise of sea level and climate change is further destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Droughts cause crops to fail and starvation crisis. Hurricanes bring in salt water to fresh water lakes and destroy ecosystems. There are small things we can all do to help save our water. 

In your own household, you can take shorter showers and run the dishwasher and washer only when they are  full. Collect rain water in a barrel to water outdoor plants. Try to reuse and recycle clothing. It takes water to create new clothing. 

Many case studies are cited and a useful glossary and resources page make this a stand-out book on the water supply and crisis. The index in the back also directs readers to useful pages for their own study or report. 

Highly recommended ages 10 and up and anyone who's studying ecosystems and water. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Graphic Pick: The Sleepover


The Sleepover

by Michael Regina 

Illustrations by the author


Penguin Random House LLC


224 pages

ISBN: 9780593117361

Perfect for middle grade readers who enjoyed "Stranger Things" and a good scare. 

Three friends arrive for a sleepover at the Russo's. They are hoping to cheer up their bestie Matthew whose beloved nanny has died. He's missing Ruby and grieving, so his friends decide a friendship intervention is needed. Meanwhile ,Mrs. Russo is seeking a new nanny. Enter Miss Swan.

Miss Swan has something "off" about her. Matthew senses it, but his friends don't believe it. The boys believe in the old story about the Witch of the Woods who lures unsuspecting children into the woods and they're never seen again. Indeed, Miss Swan might be the monster they fear. 

The boys with the help of Judy (Matthew's younger sis) must face the monster and escape.

Illustrations are spot-on for spooky scenes and the monster is truly scary. 

Highly recommended grades 5 and up. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Graphic Kid Pick: Bug Scouts: Out in the Wild


Bug Scouts: Out in the Wild

by Mike Lowery

Illustrations by the author

Graphix (Scholastic)


64 pages

ISBN: 9781338726336

also available in paperback (likely to be one Scholastic Book Fairs)

Four bug friends have a super top secret headquarters and form the Bug Scouts, taking an oath that, "all bugs are awesome" and pledging to be brave and seek adventures. The bugs are Doug ( a bug), Abby the worm,  Josh a grumpy spider who's there for the snacks and Luna the firefly. They even have patches for 238 different things. Abby wants all the patches.

The Bug Scouts go on a hike to "forage." A frog lurks nearby and everyone knows frogs eat BUGS! They come face to face with a sly frog who really wants to eat them so they RUN back to headquarters where they realize they did earn a badge for plants after all. 

So cute! Readers will love Bug Scouts. Mike Lowery is my favorite author/illustrator in kidlit. You must read his Everything Awesome series which is non-fiction but incredible FUN! 

Highly, highly recommended and likely to win graphic book of the year. You heard it here first. 

Grades 2-5 but this adult reviewer LOVED it! 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Picture Book Pick: The Library Fish


The Library Fish

by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

Illustrations by Gladys Jose

A Paula Wiseman Book

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


32 pages

ISBN: 9781534477056

When librarian Mr. Hughes finds a fish in a bowl on the steps of the library with a note "I love stories," he decides to put the fish in the library. Library Fish loves it on Mr. Hughs desk where it can see all the children and what stories they are reading. Library Fish especially loves story time as she listens in with the children. She hears stories of interesting characters and wild places like outer space. She likes to travel in the bookmobile with Mr. Hughes as he passes out books to children. Mr. Hughes knows the exact book to give to each of his readers. 

One day there's a snowstorm, so the library is closed. Library Fish is sad that no one is coming in, but she knows how to find the perfect story. She launches herself out of her bowl and goes to the story time area. She begins reading. Outside,  the bookmobile honks its horn, and Library Fish realizes she can read to the little truck through the library window. Library Fish has a night full of adventures and climbs back into her bowl. 

The next morning Mr. Hughes comes in and swears Library Fish looks especially tired. She might have even yawned. When Mr. Hughes sees all the picture books on the floor and books propped up in the window and the Bookmobile truck pulled up to the window, he's confused and scratches his head. 

But readers know, Library Fish knows, and the Bookmobile knows who was reading the stories and sharing them in the window. 

Heartfelt and sweet, The Library Fish celebrates reading, libraries, books and smart, helpful librarians. It's nice to see a MALE librarian, and even more fantastic, he's a librarian who listens to the kid readers and matches them all with a book he knows they'll like. Library science is a science of the heart (I might need to trademark this sentence). TM. Library science is a science of the heart and it feeds the soul (TM Ha, even better) and it's nice to see an author celebrate the heart  and soul of a good librarian.

Highly recommended for any story time at every library and classroom. A must read ages 3-9. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Children's Poetry Pick: Zoobilations!


by Douglas Florian

Illustrations by the author

Beach Lane Books 

Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division


48 pages

ISBN: 9781534465909

Zoobilations! is filled with animal poems and art. Fun animals include the naked mole rat, the hammerhead shark, the flying fox, the antelope and many others. My favorite poem is "The Antelope" which goes...

"I wanted to write a poem on an antelope.

But I cantaloupe." 

Young readers will giggle at Florian's sense of fun and the animals depicted in his art. 

A simple book but a must have for every child's collection. 

Highly recommended ages 2-8. 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

A Kids' Book With a Sense of Humor: I Don't Want To Read This Book


I Don't Want to Read This Book

by Max Greenfield
Illustrations by Mike Lowery 
G.P. Putnam's Sons
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
40 pages
ISBN: 9780593326060

Highly entertaining and enjoyable! 

Charming and silly, humorist Max Greenfield takes on reading and especially reluctant readers in I Don't Want To Read This Book. The unnamed narrator really doesn't want to read this book, or any books for that matter because BOOKS had WORDS and WORDS become SENTENCES and sentences turn into PARAGRAPHS! 

And sometimes words are okay like "cake" and "YouTube." Other times words don't make sense like "doubt." No one pronounces the B, so why is it there? and long words are too hard to understand. Our silly narrator makes perfect sense, of course, and kid readers will be amused and some struggling readers will empathize and agree. 

Before you know it, it's THE END and the reluctant reader has read a book. Even more exciting is the fact that reader ENJOYED READING a book! 

Bold design and color by illustrator Mike Lowery keep readers turning the pages. 

Highly, highly recommended for any young reader especially those who claim they don't like to read. 

Ages 4-8. 

Non-Fiction Graphic Pick: I Am I.M. Pei


I Am I.M. Pei

by Brad Meltzer

Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

(with a pop-up page inside)

Ordinary People Change the World Series

Dial Books for Young Readers 

Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC


Available June 7, 2022

I Am I.M. Pei is a not-to-be-missed non-fiction outstanding book about world famous architect I.M. Pei from his birth in China, his building designs around the world and his masterpiece, the Louvre in Paris, France. 

Pei was born in China in the Year of the Fire Snake. His name translates to "To Inscribe Brightly," but I.M. always went by his initials. While his father wanted him to go into banking, his mother taught him to sit quietly and meditate--to listen to the silence. Pei loved going to the Lion Grove Garden where paths went in every direction and new discoveries were always found. Pei loved buildings and modern things. He decided to become an architect at age ten! 

Pei attended MIT and studied with excellent professors. In his first job, designing a science lab in Colorado, he won Laboratory of the Year. He designed the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and the East Gallery of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. His most famous design is an update of Louvre in Paris, France. I.A. Pei built a pyramid where now everyone can see the entrance easily. The Louvre is the largest museum in the world and the most famous and visited landmark in Paris. 

Pei believes everyone should keep looking at things from all angles, or perspectives. Keeping your eyes and ears open and keep learning and trying new things. He believes we are all, "...the architects of your own lives." 

What a great addition to non-fiction picture books. This little darling of a read will likely earn awards and massive kudos. The story of Pei resonates with all creatives and everyone who loves a great life story. 

The pop-up page of the Louvre is fantastic! This alone sets I Am I.M. Pei above all this year's releases thus far. Illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos are imaginative and the graphic nature of the book is easy for even reluctant readers. 

Highly, highly recommended and a must-have for every child's book shelf. A great gift for any young reader. Ages  5-9.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Dinosaur Picture Book Pick: Eggasaurus



by Jennifer Wagh
Illustrated by Hallie Bateman
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
40 pages
ISBN: 9781534450066

When Maximus gets a special delivery in the mail from Eggasaurus Inc.,  he's thrilled. Their letter thanks him for his purchase and contains the words, "No Refunds." Max's father is not thrilled. He makes Max write to Eggasaurus asking for a refund. 

Eggasaurus writes back reminding there is no refund and sends Max two more eggs. The next flurry of letters back and forth send Dad over the edge. Eggasaurus sends a huge assortment of eggs and tells Max to play rock music to get them hatching. Soon Max receives certificates to pass out amongst his friends for free eggs. Max's eggs begin to hatch. Soon baby dinosaurs are everywhere and Max and Dad open a dinosaur day care. Max's friends all have dino pets, too! 

This funny and whimsical story accompanied by colorful art will wow young readers and kids who love dinosaurs will love this book! This is the most creative dinosaur picture book I've seen in YEARS! A true winner and likely to win awards. 

Highly, highly recommended ages 2 and up. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Early Reader Graphic Novel Pick: Shell Quest

 Tiny Tales: Shell Quest

I Can Read! Comic

by Steph Waldo 

Illustrated by the author

Harpers Galley

An Imprint of HarpersCollins Publishers


32 pages

ISBN: 97800063067820

One lonely little critter wants to belong. He sees some snails and decides to join them, asking if he can be friends. The snails say no, you don't have a shell. Where is yours? They tell him to go find a shell. Only then he can belong. First he tries using the top of an acorn, but it falls off. Next he finds a metal thimble (?) and wears it, but again it falls off. Finally he finds a real piece of shell and the snails invite him into their circle. 

When his shell breaks, they make him leave. Lonely and afraid, he sets out and one brave snail comes with him. In a rainstorm, they are swept away down a pipe and  meet creatures like him. He asks them what they are, and they explain, like him, they have no shells because they are slugs. The slugs invite both the lonely slug and his friend, the snail, to stay with them and everyone is happy. 

The author has included a page of comparisons snail vs. slug which gives young readers factual information. A fun read for ages 3 and up. The graphic nature of this book will appeal to reluctant readers, and everyone loves a comic! 

Highly recommended.