The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty – Karla Strambini

61YvoTw6tSL The Extraordinary Mr. Qwerty - Karla Strambini, Candlewick Press, 2014

Format: Hardcover picture book

Rating: 3

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? I enjoyed Strambini’s imaginative, witty pencil illustrations.  It was like a blend of steampunk inventions within 1920s/1930s setting. I also liked the simple message that one’s ideas can make a difference and once those ideas are unleashed that one will never be alone.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a nice read-a-loud book to children ages 3 to 8 years.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and elementary school libraries.

Where would you shelve it? In the picture book section as it follows the parameters of what is defined as a picture book.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Kira McGann, J.V. Fletcher Library, Westford, MA

Date of review: December 17, 2014.

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My Yellow Balloon – Tiffany Papageorge and Erwin Madrid

 51YwHh27wSL My Yellow Balloon - Tiffany Papageorge, Illustrated by Erwin Madrid, Minoan Moon Publishing, 2014

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre: realistic fiction

What did you like about the book?   I loved the pictures and the message of loss and grieving.

Anything you didn’t like about it? no

To whom would you recommend this book? Children dealing with a loss of a person or something dear to them

Who should buy this book? Everyone having children and those needing a story dealing with loss of something or someone.

Where would you shelve it ? Picture Books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not immediately

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Joyce Swedberg. Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

Date of review: December 16, 2014

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George in the Dark – Madeline Valentine

51t0u8hoBWL  George in the Dark - Madeline Valentine,  Random House, 2014

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  3

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?   It’s a very simple story of a little boy afraid of the dark at bedtime.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It could have had more of a tale.

To whom would you recommend this book? Very young children afraid of the dark

Who should buy this book? Anyone with children afraid of the dark at bedtime.

Where would you shelve it ?  The children’s section

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not really

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Joyce Swedberg.  Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

Date of review: December 16, 2014

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Another Day as Emily – Eileen Spinelli and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

519wFzxAgWL    Another Day as Emily- by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5 (starred review)

Genre:  Realistic fiction in verse

What did you like about the book? This book was quietly charming. Suzy has a full and fun life, with a loving family, interesting neighbors, a somewhat-annoying little brother, and a loyal best friend. But a series of difficulties and disappointments leads her to decide to emulate Emily Dickinson by retreating to her room and cutting herself off from the activities she enjoys, even her beloved Phillies. Young readers will identify with Suzy and her disappointments, and find her a likable, realistic character. The format works perfectly for this kind of novel and may engage reluctant readers. The drawings scattered throughout the book truly enhance the story, and Suzy’s gradual realization that Emily’s world is not for her draws the book to a satisfying conclusion.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It feels a bit like splitting hairs, but Suzy does not begin to retreat into Emily’s world until at least two-thirds of the way through the novel. It might have been better if the description on the dust jacket did not jump right to this plot element, because readers find themselves waiting for it to happen, and a great deal goes on before we get to this point.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read-alikes?  Elementary school girls who are moving beyond early chapter books might really enjoy this title, as the verse format makes it less daunting than a typical middle-grade novel.  Also recommend  Eileen Spinelli’s other novel in verse, Where I Live. Readers who enjoyed The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo may be drawn to Emily as well, as all of these titles feature loving families without being sticky-sweet.  Finally, Emily might be a good recommendation for anyone who is unfamiliar with novels in verse and wants to give one a try. It could be a gateway to more complex novels such as Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Middle-grade fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Definitely somewhere in the pile, but not necessarily right on top.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renee Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA

Date of review: December 16, 2014

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Pop Goes the Circus – Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

91JOnxdlTQL   Pop Goes the Circus -  Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise, Algonquin Young Readers, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  4

Genre:  Circus

What did you like about the book?  This 4th book in the Three Ring Rascals series is full of fun and adventure.  The reader does not have to have read the other books in order to enjoy this one.  In Sir Sydney’s Circus, Gert is annoyed with her brother, Bert, who is not doing his chores.  Meanwhile, out at sea, Flora is tired of hearing about the new baby on the way.  She decides to mail herself to Sir Sydney’s Circus while Bert is accidentally carried away by a balloon.  The two meet up and have adventures including an escape (or mousecape) from robbers before ending up back where they belong.  The Klise sisters have another hit series.  M. Sarah’s black and white illustrations add to the story by Kate.

What didn’t you like about the book?  Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book?   This will be enjoyed by fans of the Klise sisters’ stories.  For reading level it falls between the 43 Old Cemetery Road series  and the Regarding… series, both by the Klise sisters.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries.

Where would you shelve it and why? Juvenile Fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles; Yes, if you are a fan of Kate and M. Sarah Klise.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  12/15/14

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Beware of the Wild – Natalie C. Parker

  51JQUpYlw4L Beware of the Wild, written by Natalie C. Parker, Published by Harper Teen, 2014.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

Genre: Supernatural Fiction

What did you like about the book? Opens with supernatural creepiness, adds a tinge of love story, a spooky old mansion, missing people, and a bewitched town. The writing was awesome and had me completely enthralled – I stayed up late so I could finish the book in one sitting. Plot was satisfying & well resolved; supernatural weirdness was believable and enjoyable.

What didn’t you like about the book? It’s the author’s first book. I want to read more by her NOW!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Teens who enjoy creepy-but-not-too-scary supernatural books. Similar in tone to Fiendish and Anna Dressed in Blood.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries.

Where would you shelve it and why? Teen Fiction

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yup!

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Robin Fosdick, Morse Institute Library, Natick, MA

Date of review: 12/15/14

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Happy Holidays! from the Avengers – Rich Thomas, Ron Lim and Rachelle Rosenberg

61KT7UlTTJL Happy Holidays! From The Avengers – Rich Thomas, Ron Lim and Rachelle Rosenberg, Marvel Press, 2014

Format: Hardcover with read-aloud CD

Rating: 4

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?   There wasn’t any violence or stressful moments waiting to find out if the Avengers fix the wrongs of the world.

Anything you didn’t like about it? no

To whom would you recommend this book? It would be good to read to children of all ages especially during the holiday season. It is nonreligious, just holiday gift giving.

Who should buy this book? Anyone who likes the Avengers and a simple story about gift giving.

Where would you shelve it ? The children’s section

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? It’s not a must read, but a simple gift giving to each other story

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Joyce Swedberg. Gardner Public Schools, Gardner, MA

Date of review: December 16, 2014

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