January 2008 Reviews



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Book Reviews April 2008 A.G.

 

 



Jones, Patrick.  Chasing Tail Lights.  NY: Walker Books, 2007.   304 pp  ages 14 up ISBN 0-8027-9628-1  P8/Q8

   Christy is part of a family that goes beyond the average dysfunction.  One brother is in prison for gang activities.  Her mother is a somewhat flat character, alcoholic and not present even when she is at home.  Her father died 8 years before the story takes place, and she has no one to defend her against Ryan, her exceptionally abusive big brother.  The story is about how she grows to the point where she has to take control of her life and not just “chase tail lights”.  It goes back and forth between present day and various critical parts of her past (which chapters were printed in italics and a bit hard to read page after page).  The book is pretty fast-paced, and is a page-turner to the very last line, which gives a satisfying conclusion. 

 

 Birney, Betty G.  Surprises According to Humphrey.  NY: GP Putnam, 2008.  $14.99  135 pp.  ages 8-10  ISBN 978-0-399-24730-9   P7/Q7



Humphrey is a golden hamster kept by a third grade (?) class.  He’s smarter than the average hamster, taking notes with a little notebook and learning the class material along with the kids.  His trips home with different students on the weekends provide for a change of scene.  This is one of a series of stories about Humphrey. They are designed for the early chapter book reader.  The theme is surprises, including getting a substitute janitor or a new hamster ball. Most of the story’s message regards how students get along with each other.  

 

Ferguson, Alane.  The Circle of Blood.  NY: Viking, 2008.  $15.99  236 pp.  ages 14 up  ISBN 978-0-670-06056-6  P8/Q8



     This forensic mystery should appeal to the Crime Scene Investigators fans; it’s a forensic mystery involving a teenage assistant to the coroner (who happens to be her father) in a small Colorado town.  The details of the crime scenes and autopsies give a modern relevance to science.  At the same time, the murder story that unfolds is true to the police procedural genre. The story is fast-paced and involving. As a Patricia Cornwell fan, I found the book similar but a much faster read and more potentially appealing to the teen reader.  The ending is a cliffhanger, a la horror movies, and will make the reader want to rush out and find the next book in the Cameryn series.

 

Plummer, Louise.  Finding Daddy.  NY: Delacorte Press (Random House), 2007.  $15.99  165 pp.  ages 14 up  ISBN 978-0-385-73092-1  P7/Q7



     What looks like it might be another problem-of-the-week novel ends up being a horror story.  Mira, age 15, has always wondered about her father.  Her mother and grandmother say only nice things about him, but he is entirely out of their life, and they won’t give any more detail.  Mira determines to find him on her own.  As in all classic horror movies, the reader wants to scream, “Don’t do it you idiot!”  The story moves along, keeping the interest of the reader, and also provides a story-based guideline about contacting people through the internet.

  

Gutman, Dan.  The Homework Machine.  NY: Simon & Schuster, 2006.  $15.95  146 pp.  ages 8-12  ISBN 976-0-689-87678-3  P7/Q7



     This large-print chapter book tells the story from many people’s points of view, some of the entries being only a couple of paragraphs long.  The story follows a brainy student who invents a “homework machine”: They scan in a homework page and it prints out the answers.  Even some good students who hook into it find themselves relying on the machine, freeing them to use their time in other ways.  Eventually there’s the foreshadowed crunch that makes them wish they hadn’t used it.  The story has drama (how will they be found out? will it matter?) and the characters are familiar types, and they do show some personal growth over the course of the book.

 

Goodman, Susan E. & Doolittle, Michael J.  Motorcycles. [Step into Reading Step 3]  NY: Random House, 2007.  $3.99  48 pp.  ages 6-8  ISBN 978-0-375-84116-3   P9/Q9



This early reading book is lavishly illustrated with lively and colorful photographs of people riding different kinds of motorcycles.  It is not so much a book about the technology as a reading book with a high-interest subject.  Every primary classroom and library should get a copy of this one: It will appeal to a portion of the class which is hard to convince to read fluffy bunny books.  Young students seeing it have grabbed it out of my hands.

 

Broyles, Anne. Illus. by Anna Alter. Priscilla and the Hollyhocks.  Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2008.  $15.95  30 pp. ages 6-9  ISBN  978-1-57091-675-6  P7Q7



     This is a touching story of a black slave girl in the early 1800’s in the southeastern US.  All she has to remember of her mother, who was sold down the river, is the hollyhock plants she loved.  Priscilla collects the seeds and plants them whenever she has to move, creating a bit of familiar comfort wherever she is.  The exceptional part of this story is that she ends up with a Cherokee family and is forced on the Trail of Tears with her masters.   It tells a bit of history while focusing on the way that people cope with hardship.  The illustrations are a bit primitive, a’ la Grandma Moses, and the language is such that it will probably have to be read aloud to the young student.

 

Cirrone, Dorian.  Prom Kings and Drama Queens.  NY: Harper Collins, 2008.  $17.89  200 pp.  ages 12-15  ISBN 978-0-06-114373-1  P8/Q7



     There must be a subgenre of teen novels about Prom.  This one at least takes it in a slightly different direction, promoting an alternative to the conformist, expensive prom tradition.  The protagonist, Emily, is a student journalist who is competing in tandem with "nerd" Daniel with others for the expected promotion to co-editor of the school paper.  To get the post, they must come up with an original treatment for the annual Prom story.  Most of the novel is about social climbing vs social enlightenment, with the non-conformist grandmother of heart throb jock Brian next door providing the ideal of thinking for oneself.  The book will probably appeal more to middle school than high school.

 

 



June 2008 Reviews

June 2008 Book Review


K.Y. NHS Student

Sones, Sonya. What my Girlfriend Doesn’t know. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007.   $17   ISBN: 9780689876028 291 p.  Gr. 9-12   This book was told from the point of view of a boy who all of his life had been the one everyone made fun of.  He finally has a girlfriend, and it just happens to be the most popular girl in school.  He gets accepted into a college art class and falls in love with a girl there as well. His HS girlfriend catches him kissing her and she gets very angry.  They make up and in the end are still going out.

I think this book is almost too stereotypical.  I don’t think that it was really thought out and put into reality.  A girl would not just forgive a guy for cheating on her to her face, that is just not real.   I think this book should be revised again, and made so that the ending is not so typical.  Teenagers today want books they can relate to, and have help with their own problems.  I just don’t think that this book gives teens that.  I also did not like the format in which the book was written.  It wasted a lot of paper, and it was very difficult to get involved with the book when every five sentences I was turning the page.   I understand that makes it a quick read, but the way it was written makes it so that the reader gets confused easily, and lost even more easily. 

There are some good things about this book as well.  It had a pretty good plot; it just need to not be so fairytale-ish.  I really liked the humor in this book as well.  It was very subtle, but yet quite good.   I think the author should have included more of that humor to help the story along.

All in all, I do not think teens will buy this book, or like it if they do, due to the way it is written and how typical it is.   I also think the author should have used more of the same type of humor.   P6 Q6

June 2008 Book Reviews


AC, Student Reviewer, NHS

Johnson, Maureen. Devilish. Alloy Entertainment, New York, 2006.   $16.99   ISBN:1595140603  263 p.  Gr. 9-12  

Jane has a best friend named Ally.  Jane is the kind of girl that dances to her own beat; she doesn’t care what other people think of her.  Ally is different. She is the girl that nobody would be caught dead with.  She cares what others think of her. After throwing up on a freshman at an assembly, she meets a new girl (who happens to be the devil) and sells her soul to be popular.  

At first, Ally doesn’t tell Jane anything – they don’t talk at all – but when she starts regretting everything, she asks for Jane’s help.   When Jane tries to fix things, she ends up selling her own soul and that is when things get really complicated. 

The book is not that easy to read, because it is so complicated, but I love books that get me thinking and I have to read parts again and again.   This book is fiction; it talks about devils, witches, and such, but it does have a believable plot that revolves around school,  guys, and backstabbing friends.  P9 Q8

June Book Reviews


BJ, NHS Student Reviewer

Jablonski, Carla. Silent Echos. Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2007.   $13.25  ISBN: 978-1595140821 288 p.  Gr. 9-12   This fantasy follows the stories of two girls, Lucy Philips and Lindsay Miller.  Lucy is from 19th century New York, while Lindsay lives in present times.  The catch is, though, when they are in the same place, they can talk to each other. Lucy’s father is using her to scam weathy people to get money, and when Lucy and Lindsay meet, Lindsay starts helping Lucy ‘tell the future.’  But Linday needs help getting out of an abusive home life.  Lindsay herself has never been abused, but her mother is – on a nightly basis.  While Lindsay helps Lucy, Lucy also helps Lindsay, by using some of her earnings to set up a center called the Phillips Girls Center.  Lindsay checks it out and gets help, and Lucy and Lindsay lose communication, because the whole reason they could talk was so Lindsay could get help.  One shocking and cool bit of information at the end was that Lucy was Lindsay’s “great-to-the-third-power-grandma.”   This novel is beautifully written, very easy to read, and ends very well.     P8 Q10

Friesner, Ester. Nobody’s Princess. Random House, New York, 2008.   $7.99  ISBN: 978-0375875298 336 p.  Gr. 9-12  this is an incredible retelling of Helen’s life before she became Helen of Troy.   She is incredibly in this book, and the character is really well developed.   This book is well written, and what piqued my interest is that this is an expansion of a short story the author wrote in a collection called “Young Warriors”, compiled by Tamora Pierce.   P8 Q10

June Book Reviews C.B. NMS/INMS

Abbott, Tony, The postcard, Little, Brown and Co., New York, 2008, 358 pgs,
$15.99, ISBN:031601172X, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

When Jason’s grandmother dies he must fly to Florida to help his father with the funeral and to prepare the house so that they can sell it. Jason instead discovers a yellowed postcard that sends him on journey of discovery, about a grandmother he really didn’t know. This journey is a mystery into his grandmothers past and the truth about who he is too. This book will appeal to those who love a mystery and a love story.

Casanova, Mary, The klipfish code, Houghton Mifflin, Co., Boston, 2007, 227 pgs., glossary, $16.00, ISBN:0618883932, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

In 1942, Norway is attacked and by the Germans and occupied by them for the next three years. During this time the Norwegians quietly but strongly do everything they can to thwart the Germans. Marit is a 12-year-old girl who rescues a resistance fighter and hides him from the Germans. She and her brother deliver a secret message, through a stormy ocean, to others resistance fighters, who live around the other side of the island. Marit and her brother discover many things about themselves and secrets about their family. In all this story tells of how a fishing community holds itself together through all the rationing and hardships the Germans opposed on them while still maintaining their dignity.

Delaney, Joseph, Attack of the fiend, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2008, 532 pgs., $17.89, ISBN:0060891289, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,

This is the 4th book in “The last apprentice” series where Tom Ward, the apprentice to the local Spook must once again save the day. Together they journey to Pendle Valley, a place where three different witch families live, to rescue Tom’s family that have kidnapped by one of the witch families. Here in this valley Tom learns more about his Mam’s family and his destiny in the world. Those who enjoyed rest of the books in this series will find this one to be enjoyable too.

Dowel, Frances, Shooting the moon, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, New York, 2008, 163 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:1416926909, Gr.6+, P 8, Q8,

Jamie Dexter is 12 years-old the year that her brother, T.J. joins the Army and is sent to Vietnam. These siblings are Army brats and have been raised to love and support the USA. So when T.J starts to send home undeveloped film from Vietnam for Jamie to develop she starts to see the other side of war. She also starts to doubt the things that the Colonel, her father has taught all these years too. This is a deeply moving book that readers will find hard to put down.

Dunkle, Clare, The sky inside, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008, 229 pgs., $$16.99, ISBN:1416924221, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 8,

Martin and his family live in a futuristic civilization where children are genetically designed and grown. In fact his sister is super baby who is eventually taken from the city, which is under a dome, as they are told that this model of child has defects and must be destroyed.  Martin learns the truth and leaves the dome searching for his sister. Here in this new world, which is not under the protective dome, Martin struggles to find his sister and experiences new things, such as sunburn. This book will appeal to those who love a fast pace story and offers twists and turns as each page is turned.

Fleischman, Sid, The entertainer and the dybbuk, Greenwillow Books, 2008, 180 pgs., $17.89, ISBN:006134446X, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,

During World War II 1.5 million Jewish children were killed by the Germans. In this book one of these children spirits, Avron, returns as a dubbuk. Avron, finds an ex-GI, Freddie, who has not returned to America, and is touring Europe where he performs as a ventriloquist, not a very good one either. Freddie had met Avron as a child during the war. Avron becomes part of the act when he becomes the dybbuk who haunts Freddie. This allows Avron to look for the SS officer who murdered him his sister. Those who like historical fiction will be drawn to this book.

Kwasney, Michelle, Itch, Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2008, 236 pgs., $16.95,
ISBN:080508083X, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,

At the end of the 60’s Itch, who is really Delores Colchester, moves with her grandmother to Florida, after the death of her beloved grandfather. Her in a trailer park she must learn to fit into a new school, make new friends and just start over. She soon makes friends with Gwendolyn, who Itch sees has everything she doesn’t. Gwendolyn how ever hides a secret and it is finally with Itch’s help that she is finally able to find the help that she needs.

Stone, Jeff, Eagle, Random House, New York, 2008, 223 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0375830839, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

This is the fifth book that Jeff Stone has written in the five ancestors series. Here we are the final book, I thought, with the martial arts of the five coming together to discover the why the Cangzhen temple had been sacked and all the monks murdered. Ying, who has trained as the dragon, was the one who had taken his revenge, on the grand-master, and burnt the temple. In this book he learns many hidden secrets about his family and what secret the grand-master was hiding. Mouse, is the newest character in this series and will be featured in the author’s next book.

Short Stories

Hearne, Betsy, Hauntings and other tales of danger, love and sometimes loss, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2007, 211 pgs., $16.89, ISBN:0061239119,


Gr., P. Q,

This book offers 15 different stories which start in ancient Ireland and finish with tales of the present world. This collection will appeal to those who love scary tales of old and the new.

Non-Fiction

Alexander, Sally, She touched the world  : Laura Bridgeman, deaf-blind pioneer, Clarion Books, New York, 2008, 100 pgs., index, 18.00, ISBN:0618852999, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,

Before Helen Keller, there was another famous deaf-blind girl known as Laura Bridgeman, who thrilled and astonished the world. Most people of her time believed that a young deaf-blind person could not learn. Laura did and was soon giving demonstrations to people who came to her school to visit and learn more about her. This book offers a unique look at another brave young woman.

America at war: poems, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2008, 84 pgs., index by author, title, and first line, $21.99, ISBN:1416918329
Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,

Lee Hopkins has selected and collected poems that deal with war in America from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq today. She has collected such author’s e. e. Cummings, Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes. Stephen Alcorn paintings are bright and colorful and add to the emotions that the poems bring forth.

Fleming, Candace, The Lincolns : a scrapbook look at Abraham and Mary, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, 2008, 176 pgs., $24.99, ISBN:9780375836183, Gr. 7+, P 7,
Q 8,

Using a collection of letters, photos, cartoons and engravings a scrapbook has been developed by Fleming to show the lives of President Lincoln from his early life to his death. The life of his wife Mary is also explored in this text. One thing I would have included with this book would have been an index for quick perusal by the reader. The quality of the letters is the other draw back, as the size of the text and the blurriness of some of the letters is difficult to read. This book is better suited for middle and high school age students who enjoy being able to just browse.

Katz, Alan,and Koren, Edward,  Oops!, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2008, 168 pgs., $17.89, ISBN:141690204X, Gr. 3+, P 9, Q 9,

The students at my middle school loved these poems, the ones I read aloud to them. They were clambering for me to read more aloud. Soon we were all laughing as each poem is so silly and tickled all of our funny bones. This book should be included in all elementary and middle school library collections.

Seidensticker, John, Predators, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 64 pgs., glossary, index, $16.99, ISBN:141693863X, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,

The Insiders series is one which I have been collecting for my middle school library. This one however is better suited for an elementary school library.  In this text the 3-D illustrations jump of the pages as the reader turns each page. The information in the book is up to date and would be a great starting point for further in-depth research.

June, 2008
Oregon Coast Preview
Book Center for Young Readers
S.E. Grandparent Volunteer

Fiction


Bloor, Edward. Taken.  Alfred A Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s books.  Ny.  2006. 247p. ISBN 9780836367  $16.99.  Ages 12-16.  This is a story of the future where children of affluence are kidnapped for the ransom the parents provide.  There are rules by which kidnappers are supposed to adhere but for 13 year old Charity, the rules don’t seem to be in effect.  There is a twist at the end.  My 12 year old granddaughter loved the suspense of this book and wants to read more by this author.  Q8 P8

Pitchford, Dean.  The Big One-oh.  GP Putnam & Sons, a division of the Penguin Group NY.  181p.  ISBN 9780399245473.  $15.99.  Ages 9-11.  This is a funny story of a young man hitting the double digits and wanting to make this the best party ever and prove that he is not a geek.  He finds out who his friends are and who he is too. Q7 P7.

Tracy, Kristin. lost it. Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division NY. 276p. ISBN 9781416934752. $6.99. Ages 14-17. This is a very funny; laugh out loud account of a high school junior and her dysfunctional family and her just as dysfunctional best friend. It is a story of Tess meeting her first real boyfriend and losing her virginity and written in such a way that it makes it enjoyable to read instead of condemning her actions. I think it should be put in all high schools in Lincoln County because it is believable and uproariously funny.

Q9 P9


 

June 2008  Reviews


L.F. NHS

Non-Fiction Selections

Early readers
McCarthy, Megan. City Hawk: the Story of Pale Male. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2007.   $15.99   ISBN: 978-1416933595 40 p.  Gr. PK-2   This fresh, exciting, and informative story would be a great choice for a child’s or classroom’s first nonfiction book.  Illustrations are vivid and easy to relate to, and the text – complex enough for competent early readers, but perfect for a read-aloud – is engaging. City Hawk tells the true story of  a pair of hawks who unexpectedly and uncharacteristically nest and rear their young outside the window of a Central Park apartment.  One thing I really like about this is that the author does not anthropomorphize the birds and their plight, but lets the reader follow their story as if they were bird-watching along with the NYC regulars.  A portion of the sales of this book go towards the Audubon Society’s NYC chapter and helps “support protection of wild birds and habitat in the five boroughs.”  P6 Q9

 

Cronin, Doreen. Diary of a Fly. Illustrated by Harry Bliss.  HarperCollins, New York, 2007.    $17.89  ISBN: 978-0060001568  40 p.  Gr. K-2    Following the trend set by her earlier “Diary of a Worm” and “Diary of  a Spider,”  Cronin has crafted yet another highly entertaining, informative critter autobiography.  Though she anthropomorphizes the fly, it’s helps make ordinarily boring factoids (like the fact that “flies beat their wings 200 times per second”) come alive to the young reader, who can easily identify with what’s going on during the fly’s first day of school.  As a former health inspector, I was pleased to see the author pointed out that flies regurgitate their food into the next food they eat (one of the reasons you want to cover food at a picnic.) The illustrations are very funny and help make this book a good first nonfiction to share with classes.  Teachers might also consider using this as a fun example to get the kids started thinking about writing journals.  P7 Q9



 

Middle School


Brend, Dawn, Kirsty Neale, Cheryl Owen, and Melanie Williams (authors).  Jazzy Jewelry  and Creative Costumes (2 books) Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2007.   $7.95 each   ISBN: 9780753459690 & 9780753459683 48  p.  Gr. 3-8   These “EcoCrafts” paperbacks are fun, easy-to-follow, and filled with ideas not commonly seen in juvenile craft books.  One thing I really liked about Jazzy Jewelry was that it taught different skills (braiding, basic sewing, decopage, etc.) as well as utilizing recycled materials.  Creative Costumes has some good ideas that could easily be adapted for making a plethora of characters.  Refreshingly, both books actually have crafts that WORK, not the usual stuff that falls apart and/or is impossible for a kid to finish without adult intervention.  However, due to the covers and “girly” craft materials chosen, both books are going to be more appealing to girls than boys, which is too bad. P7 Q7

Fiction Selection

Couvillion, James. Chicken Dance. Bloomsbury, New York, 2007.   $16.95   ISBN: 1599900432 336 p.  Gr. 6-9 Couvillion's first book is like Colonel Sanders visiting the Twilight Zone: nothing is what it seems to be, except for chickens. For starters, the Chicken Dance song we all know wasn't about chickens (the Swiss original was about ducks), the 11-year-old protagonist in this story is not Don as he believes (his real name is Stanley), and his mother is really his grandmother. There are so many metaphors and contradictions in this book, it reminds me of Catcher in the Rye, but Don is a kinder, gentler Holden Caufield. Couvillon's characters are rich and ironic, and his setting (Horse Island, LA) gives the reader a peek into a unique small-town setting. As the book opens, Don is unpopular and frequently bullied and his family's small poultry flock becomes his friends and his focus. Don studies the American Poultry Association standards obsessively and manages to take first place in a poultry-judging contest, which catapults Don and his family into local stardom. His bipolar mother and alienated father react to this in some very funny ways, including hosting a dinner party and using TV dinners as entrees. Mystery and intrigue is added, as Don discovers multiple family secrets. The drama is told through the eyes of Don, who emerges as a lovable and wise character. While chickens hardly seem the focus of this story, there are several subtle poultry allegories that tie it all together: the courage of a hen, the fact that chickens can fly, and that fate, like chickenpoop, is often random. Appealing to both tween girls and boys, this book would be a marvelous classroom read, as it would prompt a lot of interesting discussions. P5 Q7.

 

June 2008 Book Reviews


TCM, NHS Student Reviewer

Miller, Karen. The Innocent Mage (Kingmaker/Kingbreaker). Orbit, New York, 2007.   $7.99   ISBN: 978-0316067805 672 p.  Gr.  8-adult  A fisherman of less than noble roots aims to bring wealth and prosperity to his family in a place called Restharven. However, his loyalties are challenged when he finds he must chose between the prince or his family.   It’s a good and strong story line and the characters are very believable.  However, the ending of this book clearly calls for a sequel (and I will definitely be reading it!) P7 Q9

 

Overstreet, Jeffrey. Auralia’s Colors. WaterBrook Press, New York, 2007.   $13.99 ISBN: 978-1400072521  352p.  Gr. 9-adult    This book immediately grabbed my attention.  The story line is very rich and the characters are fabulous.  This book is amazing, easy to follow and readable. P6 Q9


June 2008


L.R. for the Siletz Library

Teen Books


Bray, Libba. The Sweet Far Thing. Delacorte Press, 2007. 819 pgs. Ages 12 and up. ISBN 9780385730303 $17.99 P4 Q6

The third book in “the Gemma Doyle trilogy”….what was I thinking?  I had to read all three books to understand what was going on in the third. The main character is an English teen in a boarding school for young ladies in 1893. She is a member of a circle of friends who somehow enter a world of extraordinary power called “the realms.” Her mother died a mysterious death 25 years earlier in the same school and passed on magical powers to her daughter. The friends have fun with the magic for awhile, but are eventually plunged into a war among various factions of mythical creatures over the power.

The cover of the book advertises a similarity to the Harry Potter series and there is a similarity. However, this book is much more limited as to its audience. It will be mostly teen girls who don’t mind stories that take place in the past. There is plenty of adventure, but very little humor which makes it different from Harry Potter. In fact, although the reader can sympathize with the Victorian girls and their lack of freedom in choosing their life path, they come across as whiny and self-centered when compared to others in the same time period. But maybe it helps today’s teen to see what freedoms and opportunities they have. There will definitely be some readership for this series of books---perhaps more in a school setting than the public library.

 

Juvenile Books



 

Erickson, John R. Hank the Cowdog: the Case of the Blazing Sky. Viking, 2008. 129 pgs. Ages 8 and up. ISBN 4780670062607 $15.99 P7 Q8

This is the 51st book in the Hank the Cowdog  series, and Hank hasn’t gotten much smarter, but he is as loveable as ever. He is egotistical, self-deluding, a liar, a cat-baiter and a would-be chicken thief, but when he saves the family home from being burned in a prairie fire, you just gotta love him. These books appeal to a wide range of ages, as well as boys and girls, animal lovers or not. There are fun things about the books that even an adult will enjoy, such as Hank’s propensity for malapropisms and his ability to change the facts of a story to make himself the hero, EVERY TIME. Reminds me to some people I know…

 

Nash, Scott. Tuff Fluff: The Case of Duckie’s Missing Brain. Candlewick Press, 2004. (2008 in this format) 49 pgs. Ages 8-10. ISBN 9780763634834 $16.99 P8 Q8



Tuff Fluff is a PI in Los Attic, where two rival factions of toys reside: the stuffed gang and the beanbag gang. They steer clear of each other ordinarily, but Tuff Stuff brings them together to solve the case of the missing duckie’s brain. It is pretty cute, because in the end, Tuff Stuff preps the duck for surgery, inserts a bit of fluff from another stuffed animal and a bean from a beanie baby. Thus, the loquacious duck becomes part of both worlds and entertains them all in harmony. This is a nice quality book, with heavy binding and slick, heavy pages. The illustrations are wonderful and eye-catching. It turns out that the author is primarily an illustrator and he does a great job in both roles. The book is a bit spendy, but will probably be popular and worth the extra buck.

 

Wood, Maryrose. My Life the Musical. Delacorte Press, 2008. 223 pgs. Ages 14 & up. ISBN 978-0-385-73278-9 $$15.99 P4 Q8



Emily and Phil meet each other at the fictional Broadway musical “Aurora,” and embark on an obsession with the play. They borrow money from Emily’s grandma and attend the play every Saturday and some weeknights, riding the train into New York City from their suburb. That is only the beginning of the plot and it is quite a story. For musical theater fans (which you would almost have to be, to pick up a book with this title), each chapter is headed with the name of a song from a musical. You are then informed of the name of the musical, year it was first performed, who wrote the music, and who wrote the book. For the aforementioned musical theater fan, there is also a mini-lesson on how to become a producer and a pretty accurate description of what it is like to sit in a New York theater and revel in a favorite musical.

This is a very entertaining story and should be popular with “drama geeks.” Buy it for ‘em!

 

Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers May/June 2008  Reviews by N.W.


Nonfiction

Alexander, Sally Hobart and Robert Alexander.  She Touched the World:  Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer. Clarion, 2008.  $18.00.  978-0-618-85299-4.  100p.  Ages 8-12:  A half century before Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller to communicate with sign language, Laura Bridgman faced the same problems after a bout of scarlet fever caused her to lose her sight and hearing.  With the same curiosity and intelligence that Keller displayed, Bridgman learned to read, write, and teach, proving that people like her can be educated.  Drawings and photographs show the people in Bridgman’s and Keller’s lives as well as the tools they used and the Perkins School for the Blind that they attended.  The author Sally Hobart Alexander brings a special warmth and understanding to this biography from her personal loss of sight and then hearing, beginning at age 26.  This is an important book for young readers because most of them know of no other blind-deaf person than Keller.  P6Q8

 

Berne, Jennifer.  Manfish:  A Story of Jacques Cousteau.  Il. Eric Puybaret.  Chronicle, 2008.  $16.99.  978-8118-6063-5.  unp.  Ages 6-8:  In this bio about a famous French oceanographer, the author shows how he had focused since childhood on the desire to film the watery depths.  Simple poetic text and vibrant largely green-hued paintings bring this remarkable person into the lives of the book’s readers.  P7Q8



Bush, Laura and Jenna Bush.  Read All About It!  Il. Denise Brunkus.  HarperCollins, 2008.   $17.99.  978-0-06-156-75-0.  unp. Ages 5-8:   When celebrities decide to write a children’s book, the result can lack the quality and interest important in these books.  Such is the case in this collaboration by the president’s wife and daughter in a book about a bright boy who doesn’t like reading but changes his mind after story hour introduces him to such characters as Benjamin Franklin and a “pudgy pig.”  With static and syrupy text and predictable plot, the illustrator (who also did the Junie B. Jones series) uses stereotypes for the adults, including the librarian, and shows little racial diversity in the class with only one person of color.  The intent is also didactic, as shown by the authors’ quote at the end:  “We hope Read All about It! Will be a window into the power and magic of books.”  Not recommended.  P5Q4

 

Calabresi, Linda.  Human Body.  [IN Series]  Simon & Schuster, 2007.  $16.99.  978-1-4169-3661-3.  64p.  Ages 8-12:  This Australian import full of colorful drawings with brief text introduces readers to the body from cells and the skeleton outward as well as the different systems and the different senses.  The glossary and index add to the usefulness of the book.  Good for both small and large libraries.   P6Q8



 

Clinton, Catherine.  Phillis’s Big Test.  Il. Sean Qualls.  Houghton, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-73739-0.  unp.  Ages 6-8:  The first published African-American poet, Wheatley could not publish her book in Boston in 1773 until she proved in front of 18 important men agreed that she was the author.  Acrylic illustrations show the teenager as she prepares for the test and faces her examiners.  Wheatley is an important part of American history, but in Qualls’ illustrations she looks like an innocent kewpie doll rather than the intelligent girl she must have been.  P6Q6

 

Kerley, Barbara.  What To Do about Alice?  How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!   Il. Edwin Fotheringham.  Scholastic, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-439-92231-9.  unp.  Ages 4-8:   One of the most memorable children of a president is Alice, who lived in the White House during her teens at the beginning of the 20th century.  This biography illustrates her antics as she overcame the physical disability that forced her to wear braces and opposed the proper female role of the females.  Humorous illustrations follow the text as Alice “ate up the world” in her need to have adventures and her zest for fun.  P8Q8



 

L Is for Lollygag:  Quirky Words for Clever Tongues.  Chronicle, 2008.  $12.99.  978-0-8118-6021-5.  125p.  Ages 9-13:  This kit and caboodle of humdinger words will encourage umpteen scalawags to indubitably irk flibbertigibbets who might consider this gibberish.  And so forth.  Word collectors and other readers will delight in these unusual words and the surrounding cartoons in shades of black and white enhanced by diverse red hues.   This could be a fun “word of the day” source.  P7Q8

 

Marcus, Leonard S.  A Caldecott Celebration:  Seven Artists and Their Paths to the Caldecott Medal.  Walker, 2008.  $19.95.  978-0-8027-9703-2.  55p.  Ages 8-12:  On the seventieth anniversary of this prestigious award for illustrated children’s books, the 1998 book with drawings from and information about six award winners has been re-released with an additional chapter.  A section on Mordicai Gerstein now joins those about Robert McCloskey, Marcia Brown, Maurice Sendak, William Steig, Chris Val Allsburg, and David Wiesner to show the variety of these winners with anecdotes about their artistic development and the importance of the Medal to each of them.  The list of winners from 1938 through 2007 is useful to adults, and the commentaries about artistic styles will benefit budding artists.  P6Q8



 

Schulman, Janet.  Pale Male:  Citizen Hawk of New York City.  Il. Meilo So.  Knopf, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-375-84558-1.  unp.  Ages 6-9:  The story of the red-tailed hawk who made Fifth Avenue his residence and Central Park his hunting ground has been well-chronicled for the past 17 years, but no other book so brilliantly and vividly describes the bird’s adventures as he found a home only to lose it because the apartment building residents removed his nest—an action that resulted in an international outcry on behalf of the birds.  The quirky double-page spreads with stunning watercolor-and-pencil illustrations show life in the city:  tall buildings, the excitement of the people, a few people’s distaste for the “mess,” crowds with protest signs, and the baby chicks learning about city life.  Schulman brings to her writing the love for her subjects and her appreciation for the urban wildlife.  P8Q10

 

The Ultimate Teen Book Guide.  Ed. Daniel Hahn & Leonie Flynn; associate ed. Susan Reuben.  Walker, 2008.  $26.95.  978-0-8027-9730-8.  432p.  Ages 13+:  Almost 300 teens, librarians, and authors have written these 700+ reviews that run the gamut from true to cult classics, from award winners to current bestsellers—both fiction and nonfiction published for young adults and adults.  Reviews also include suggestions for future reading.  Add to this the special features by authors and top ten lists, and the book will promote browsing for a long time.   This volume is based on an edition produced for the United Kingdom, using a team from the publisher to consult on reading habits in the U.S.  P7Q8

Whitehead, Sarah.  How to Speak Dog!  Scholastic, 2008.  $6.99.  978-0-545-02078-7.  96p.  Ages 8-12:  Why does a dog yawn?  How can you talk to a dog so it does what you want?  These and tons more questions are answered in this beginning book on Everyone with a dog should read this book, chock full of information about dog language, treatment, health, rules, and safety.   Filled with color photographs of dogs and young people, this teaches people to speak “canine” as a second language.  P8Q9 

 

Picture Books



 

Bedard, Michael.  Emily.  Il. Barbara Cooney.  Doubleday, 1992.  $16.99.  978-0-385-30697-3.  unp.  Ages 6-8:  In lyrical prose, a young girl tells of her experience of stealing upstairs and meeting Emily Dickinson one day when the girl’s mother was invited to play the piano in the yellow house surrounded by a tall hedge.   Rich, warm tones in Cooney’s oil paintings highlight the poignancy of the girl’s conversation with her father about poetry and the girl’s exchange of gifts with Dickinson, lily bulbs for a poem.    Bedard and Cooney have created a highly accessible book about a 19th-century American for young readers.  P7Q9

 

Cronin, Doreen.  Duck for President.  Il. Betsy Lewin.  Atheneum, 2004.  $16.99.  978-1-4169-5800-0.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  Just in time for elections is another zany story about Farmer Brown’s animals when Duck runs for president of the farm—and wins!  Bold cartoon-like figures will delight both young and older readers alike, especially those annoyed by the current state of politics in this description of the campaign process as Duck moves up the political food chain to the presidency.  The repetition of “he gave speeches that only other ducks would understand” may give a feeling of the satire implicit in these adventures.   P8Q9



 

Faulkner, Matt.  A Taste of Colored Water.  Simon & Schuster, 2008.  $16.99.  978-1-4169-1629-1.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  When they learn about a sign over a water bubbler that reads “COLORED,” cousins Jelly and LuLu persuade Uncle Jack to take them to the city.  The experience of segregation, Freedom Marchers, water from fire hoses hurting protesters, and the hostility of a policeman and his dog is translated through the two children’s eyes with great clarity and poignancy.   The perspective of Faulkner’s illustrations in watercolor and pen and ink enhances the pain and confusion of the 1960s, and his endnote telling about his personal experiences during this time as he grew up and learned about black and white.  P7Q9

 

Geisert, Arthur.  Hogwash.  Houghton, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-77332-9.  unp.  Ages 4-8:  This pigs are back!  This wordless book, with all the intricate detail that Geisert is known for, shows the elaborate machinery necessary to clean all the muddy little piggies with a swaying tub, spouts of soap and water, and a clothesline just for them.  P8Q8



 

Harris, Robie H.  Maybe a Bear Ate It!  Il. Michael Emberley.  Orchard, 2008.  $15.99.  078-0-439-929961-5.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  Searching and temper tantrums in child-like drawings keep a young child creature busy as he cannot find his beloved book and accuses a number of animals of taking it—a rhino, an elephant, a bat, a shark, and, of course, the bear.  A nice non-gendered protagonist although the CIP explains that it’s a boy.  Highly imaginative and fun—a great goodnight read as well as a beginning book in kindergarten.  P10Q9

Lee, Suzy.  Wave.  Chronicle, 2008.  $15.99.  978-0-8118-5924-0.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  Accompanied by several gulls, a young girl plays on the beach, first tentatively and then defiantly, before a wave knocks her down and she discovers the treasure that it leaves.  This wordless book is done in blue acrylics with charcoal girl and gulls.  Charming and realistic.  P8Q8

 

Lyon, George Ella.  My Friend, the Starfinder.  Il. Stephen Gammell.  Atheneum, 2008.  $16.99.  978-1-4169-2738-9.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  Lush watercolors and mystical drawings accompany the wondrous tales from an old man who once found a falling star and stood at the end of a rainbow.  The simple lyrical story about a man who can feel colors is based on the Lyon’s childhood experiences with his neighbor.  P7Q10



 

Mayer, Bill.  All Aboard:  A Traveling Alphabet.  Concept by Chris L. Demarest.  McElderrry, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-689-85249-7.  unp.  Ages 4-6:  In the art style of 1920s travel posters, these pages hide letters in a such objects as a bridge and paddle.  The bold playful graphics, each a full page, are repeated in the end with the letters highlighted in white.   This book not only helps young readers find letters but also expands their view of the world.  P8Q9

 

Nara, Yoshitomo.  The Lonesome Puppy.  Chronicle, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-8118-5640-9.  unp.  Ages 3-7:  A puppy so huge that no one sees him as  dog until a girl climbs to the top of his head and sings to him.  Learning that “there is always someone, somewhere, waiting to meet you,” the puppy was no longer lonely.  Rough drawings on a board background extend the simplicity of this book and its message.  P7Q8



 

O’Connor, Jane.  Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words:  From Accessories to Zany.  Il. Robin Preiss Glasser.  HarperCollins, 2008.  $12.99.  978-0-06-1542923-6.  unp.  Ages 5-7:  The ultra feminine stereotype of pink and pretty is back with this alphabet book extolling the virtue of such concepts as glamorous, hostess, monogram, and tiara, with the term “understated” thrown in to show Nancy’s disgust for her mother’s plain clothes.  It’s a return to the 50s if you’re interested.  P8Q5

 

Ray, Jane.  The Apple-Pip Princess.  Candlewick, 2007.  $16.99.  978-0-7636-3747-7.  unp.  Ages 6-10:  When the king sets a task to his three motherless princesses to determine who will become the next ruler, the older two, one proud and the other vain, create tall towers.  The little, shy daughter believes that she cannot compete with her two older sisters but decides to plant fruit trees to make her country beautiful again, returning the soul to the country side that was lost when her mother died.   Exquisite fairy-tale illustrations from an award-winning author/illustrator bring the comparisons of the two older sisters to the youngest one into greater awareness to show the beauty of the youngest sister who changes her world.  P8Q9



 

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse.  Little Hoot.  Il. Jen Corace.  Chronicle, 2008.  $12.99.  978-0-8118-6023-9.  unp.  Ages 4-7:  A reverse dilemma comes to Little Hoot who wants to go to bed early, but his parents tell him that he has to stay up late and play.  The charming text and simple ink/watercolor illustrations provide a nice look at family life, funny puns such as not giving a hoot, and a humorous look at the life of an owl who has to stay up all night.  (I especially liked the pondering lessons!)  Although the pictures are small, it’s a great read aloud.   P9Q9

 

T Is for Tugboat:  Navigating the Seas from A to Z.  Chronicle, 2008.  $15.99.  978-0-8118-6094-9.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  A mix of vintage illustrations and contemporary photos makes this nautical alphabet book both entertaining and informational.  For example, “K” alone has drawings for 33 knots.  Some pages have multiple words for a letter such as Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, and “quarters.”  The simple layout allows for easy reading and the illustrations for dreaming of adventure.   P8Q8

 

Ward, Helen.  Varmints.  Il. Marc Craste.  Candlewick, 2007.  $12.99.  978-0-7636-3796-5.  unp.  Ages 8+:  Once the world was a place of peace and quiet where creatures had time to stop and think.  This splendidly illustrated slim volume with spare images told from the heart can make the heart soar.  Although the darkness of the second chapter, in stark contrast to the beauty and light of the first chapter, presents a depressing view, the final three-line chapter leads to a soaring hope.  The author “like[s] to think in pictures,” making her prose a aural feast.  P7Q10



 

Weaver, Tess.  Cat Jumped In!  Il. Emily Arnold McCully.  Clarion, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-61488-2.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  What happens when a cat jumps into a window?  The black and white cat in these illustrations gives a vivid and funny perspective with the narrative providing the possible thoughts of the bemused feline who explores the nooks and crannies of the kitchen before proceeding to snoop in a hall closet, bedroom, and finally an art studio.  The scene with his finding a strange cat in the mirror rings true, and the frantic movements to rid himself of paint on his paws will bring giggles from all.  A great read aloud.  P9Q9


Graphic Novel

 

Morse, Scott.  Magic Pickle.  Scholastic/Grahix, 2008.  $9.99.  978-0-439-87995-8.  unp.  Ages 8-11:  The briniest superhero, the result of a secret government experiment, tackles a ferocious enemy, The Brotherhood of Evil Produce, a battle that takes him into the school lunchroom in the middle of a food fight.  Ellen and Lu Lu are just two of the kids who help Jo Jo Wigman, Magic Pickle, against the Romaine Gladiator, Peashooter, Phantom Carrot, Squish Squash, Chili-Chili Bang Bang, and other vegetables gone wild.  Bonuses are the short story at the end of the book featuring Loconut and the directions showing how to draw produce.   A fun to read book for graphic novel lovers!  P8Q8   (Readers who prefer chapter books to graphic novels might want to check out Morse’s Magic Pickle and the Planet of the Grapes and Magic Pickle vs. the Egg Poacher.)



 

Fiction


 

Abrahams, Peter.  Into the Dark:  An Echo Falls Mystery.  Laura Geringer/ HarperCollins, 2008.  $17.89.  978-0-06-073709-2.  300p.  Ages 12-15:  When 13-year-old super sleuth Ingrid Levin-Hill tries to clear her grandfather’s name after the accusation that he murdered an environmental activist on his farm, she uncovers secrets that go back to World War II.  With few mysteries for this age group, the series is a valuable addition to libraries.  P7Q7

 

Almond, David.  My Dad’s a Birdman.  Il. Polly Dunbar.  Candlewick, 2008.  $15.99.  978-0-7636-3667-8.  119p.  Ages 9-12:  Missing her mam, Lizzie cares for her father who is determined to participate in the Great Human Bird Competition.  Almond has put together a collection of crazy characters as everyone gets involved in the competition.  Cartoon-like illustrations, beginning in black and white and becoming more vibrant in the unfolding of the plot to emphasize the changing mood, dot the book and add to the poignant humor.  P7Q9



 

Arnold, Tedd.  Fly High, Fly Guy!  Scholastic Cartwheel, 2008.  $5.99.  978-0-545-00722-1.  30p.  Ages 4-7:  In the fifth of this chapter book series, Buzz and his pet fly gets lost when he and his parents go on vacation with Fly Guy coming to the rescue.   A short, delightful book for beginning readers.  P9Q8

 

Dean, Claire.  Girlwood.  Houghton, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-88390-5.  246p.  Ages 12-15:  Dysfunctional families, natural healing, environmental concerns, and magical happenings blend in this thoughtful, well-plotted novel filled with developing characters.  When 12-year-old Polly’s older sister, Bree, leaves home, her divorced parents are distraught, feelings which worsen when they discover that she might have been pregnant.  Bree’s issues of drug abuse and anorexia and Polly’s grandmother’s healing with plants make life hard for Polly at school when her best friend temporarily sides with the daughter of the developer who wants to clear-cut Polly’s beloved forest.  Complex themes and solutions make this book a rich read.  P7Q9



 

Fischer, Debbie Reed.  Braless in Wonderland.  Dutton, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-525-47954-3.  249p.  Ages 14+:  High school senior Allee considers herself a feminist, far above being a model, until she is selected for It Girl status instead of her younger sister who adores pretty clothes, cosmetics, and posing for people.  In this view of the world of professional modeling, the author has created a view of what happens when a teenage girl changes her view of independent feminist to one who justifies her decision to stay in Wonderland rather than attend college.  P8Q7

 

Horvath, Polly.  My One Hundred Adventures.  Schwartz & Wade, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-375-84582-6.  272p.  Ages 10-13:  On the edge of adolescence, 12-year-old Jane wants more than her life in a cozy beach cottage with her younger siblings and single mother.  During the summer she learns about the world, riding in a hijacked hot-air balloon while helping her pastor deliver bibles, getting to know possible fathers, babysitting for a large family, and understanding that her mother is actually an important poet.  As always, Horvath has written a rich book with funny, quick-moving plot, and characters you want to meet.   P8Q9



 

Karr, Kathleen.  Fortune’s Fool.  Knopf, 2008.  $15.99.  978-0-375-84816-2.  201p.  Ages 11-14:  Life in 16th-century Germany can be impossibly hard, especially when the person is at the whim of a cruel lord.  Thus Conrad the Good, 15-year-old orphaned court jester, leaves to find a wiser and worthier master after one too many beatings.  He sets out with  a stolen horse, which would have died without his ministrations, but as he travels, he collects the serving maid, who he loves; a ten-year-old boy who had survived a hanging; and a mentally-challenged jester in another court.  Karr brings to the reader a fascinating view of the period while introducing a collection of fascinating characters.  P6Q8

 

Klimo, Kate.  The Dragon in the Sock Drawer.  Random House, 2008.  Il. John Shroades.  $14.99.  978-0-375-95587-7.  176p.  Ages 8-12:   Parenthood is very hard, especially when the “infant” is a dragon that grows geometrically from four inches at birth, must be fed incessantly, and must be hidden because St. George the Dragon-Slayer is searching for him.  These are just a few of the problems that cousins Jesse and Daisy face during their summer vacation after the dragon hatches out of something that looks like a geode.  Quick-reading,



 

Lowry, Lois.   The Willoughbys.  Houghton, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-97974-5.  174p.  Ages 8-12:  This tongue-in-cheek view of classic themes in kid lit shows the four Willoughby siblings (12-year-old Timothy, ten-year-old twins Barnaby A and Barnaby B, and six-year-old Jane) decide to become orphans at the same time that their neglectful parents take off around the world, leaving the children with a nanny.  From Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, and James with his giant peach to Hansel and Gretel, the parody is filled with villains, benefactors, abandoned infants, long-lost heirs, and late-life romance—all resulting in a happy, hilarious ending.  This book is for Lemony Snicket fans and other readers with a sense of humor.  P8Q8

 

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert.  Princess Ben.  Houghton, 2008.  $16.00.  978-0-618-95971-6.  344p.  Ages 12-15:  In a not-your-typical-fairy-tale, Princess Benevolence (Ben for short) loses her parents and must subject to the cruelty of her aunt, Queen Sophia.  During her struggles, Ben finds herself learning magic (with a great deal of drudgery), escaping the castle on a broom and skewered with an arrow, working (in more drudgery) in the kitchen in the castle of a rival king, subjected to courting suitors to save her kingdom, and finally fighting a dread dragon.  Although the language at the beginning is a bit florid, the perspective of suffering sometimes overdone, and the plot ending a bit too pat and quick, the author of Dairy Queen about a football-playing heroine, has created another memorable female protagonist who doesn’t want to fit into the traditional women’s role.  P7Q7



 

Sensel, Joni.  The Humming of Numbers.  Holt, 2008.  $16.95.  978-0-8050-8327-9.  243p.  Ages 12+:  When Aiden, a novice about to take monastic vows in a tenth-century Celtic abbey, meets beautiful Lana, his life is turned upside down.  Not only does she understand his ability to hear the buzzing energy given off by living things but she also makes him question his vocation, especially after they work together to save their village from invading Vikings.  Rich in history and religious practice, the book also provides great adventures and personal growth as both young people learn to trust themselves.  An excellent coming-of-age novel with a fascinating setting.  P7Q9

 

June Reviews by D.A. for the Siletz Public Library



 

Juvenile Books

Lalicki, Tom.  Danger in the Dark:  A Houdini and Nate Mystery.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. 186 pgs.  Ages 9-12.  ISBN  139780374316808 $14.95 P7 Q9

In the summer of 1911, young Nathaniel G. Makeworthy Fuller is working as a clerk at a men’s hat shop in Manhattan when he first encounters Harry Houdini.  When Houdini selects a hat but leaves the store without paying, the boy is sent to his home to collect for it.  A friendship begins between Nate and the Houdini’s, which proves valuable when mysterious things begin to happen in Nate’s own home. Nate lives with his widowed mother, wealthy great-aunt, and quiet housekeeper.  But late at night, Nate has been hearing people coming and going and strange voices drift upstairs.  Nate soon finds himself involved in a dangerous scheme to swindle his great-aunt out of her fortune

Young adventure and mystery lovers will enjoy this book, particularly if they have an interest in historical literature.  Laclicki peppers the book with well-researched historical references as well as reliable information on Houdini.  The book’s smallish pencil sketches at each chapter head fit well with the time period of the story and add interest. 

Bildner, Phil.  Game 1 Barnstormers.  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007.  133 pgs.  Ages 7-10.  ISBN 13978416918639 $9.99 P7 Q4


In 1899, three young children and their widowed mother (disguised as a man) play on a barnstorming baseball team called the ‘Travelin Nine’. At that time, barnstormers toured an area playing exhibition games as a way of earning money.  The children’s Uncle Owen has given them a baseball with a hole in it that belonged to their father.  The ball seems to have mystical powers, and the siblings view sightings on the field that no one else can see.  Because of these weird sightings, the team loses the game.  The mystery goes unsolved as the team catches the steamboat to their next game in Louisville.

Bildner’s knowledge of baseball shows in the writing of this circa 1900 book.  All of the baseball terms used during that time period are defined in the margins of the book—which was both helpful and interesting.  Illustrator Loren Long does beautiful black and white drawings, sometimes occupying two full pages!  The storyline itself lagged, and I found myself wishing it were done.  To my surprise, it is a Chapter Book, and doesn’t end here. 

 

Book Reviews R.C. NPL Librarian



 

To the Big Top by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by David Gordon
Return to simpler times as Sam and Benny experience the big-top circus’s visit to Willow Grove.  Set in the early 1900’s, Gordon’s illustrations convey the excitement, noise and smells of an event today’s readers may never experience except in books like this.  Esbaum’s characters act like excited youngsters of any era as they become involved in setting up the circus and earning money for rare treats.

 

Mother Goose and Friends by Ruth Sanderson


Sanderson’s exquisite illustrations are reason enough to pick up yet another Mother Goose book.  Her addition of relatively unknown rhymes such as The Elf-Man and The Purple Cow bring something new to the classics included in this volume.  For this reviewer, however, it is the artwork that sent me out for my own edition.

 

A Puppy for Annie by Kim Lewis


Lewis adds to her lexicon of warm puppy tales with this tale of a little girl’s first puppy love.  Accessible text makes this one good for early readers and the soft, muted colors evoke the beauty of gentle, rolling hills and farm country.  But it is the image of puppy Bess waiting for Annie’s return from the first day of school that will bring readers back to this one.

 

Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells


Here’s a timely choice for early elementary teachers and readers looking for help explaining the election process to youngsters.  Barkadelphia School is holding elections and Tiffany is running for president because she is beautiful and popular.  Charles is running because he’s a star athlete and a born leader.  Otto wants to run but only because he thinks he would be a good president.  Filled with Wells’ delightful animal characters, this would be effective when paired with Dipuccio’s Grace for President and St. George’s So You Want to be President? for an introduction to our election process.

 

Eddie’s Little Sister Makes a Splash by Ed Koch and Pat Koch Thaler, illustrated by James Warhola


It is so hard to be a little sister, vacationing at a lake with no one her age to play with.  What’s Patty to do but tag after her big brother who is not happy with the idea and tries, unsuccessfully, to find playmates for Patty.  When Eddie escapes to the lake with his friend, Patty follows and predictably falls in.  The watercolor illustrations place the story in the 1950’s but are somewhat flat and not especially engaging.  An additional purchase where sibling tales are popular.

 

Chuck’s Band by Peggy Perry Anderson


Anderson hits all the right notes in this rhyming tale of a barnyard hoedown.  Written at a level that early readers can enjoy, the rhymes and vibrant illustrations make this a good storytime choice for farm tales, music tales, or a celebration of Old MacDonald.


Pitching in for Eubie by Jerdine Nolen, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
Caldecott honor award winner E.B. Lewis brings alive Eubie’s family as they all pitch in to raise money for her college fees, except youngest child Lily.  Her mother takes in extra sewing, her father gets a part-time job, her brother has a newspaper route but Lily is too young for any of those things.  She tries an ice tea stand and a pet sitting service but makes no money.  However, opportunity comes knocking to those ready to grab it and Lily finds a way to help her sister in this warm family story of pulling together to make a dream happen.

 

 


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