Demon Derby – Carrie Harris

 51sRC2cOoWL     Demon Derby by Carrie Harris, Delacorte Press, 2014

Format: Fiction Book

Rating:  4

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  As a recovering cancer patient, Casey misses the strong, daredevil girl she used to be — a freerunner and martial artist. Now physically weaker, she is all too aware of her own mortality. When she hears about tryouts to become a roller derby girl, Casey jumps at the chance to recapture her fearlessness. She meets the gorgeous roller derby team manager, Michael, who turns out to be a Sentinel come to earth to train people how to destroy demons. Casey becomes his first demon-hunter and happily, his first girlfriend. Although it’s an unlikely mix of realistic cancer recovery sequences, flippant teen conversations, roller derby, and vicious demon attacks, the story works. The author’s handling of Casey’s recovery seemed particularly adept. In a Q and A section at the end, it is revealed that the author’s husband is a cancer survivor himself, and he served as inspiration, in part, for Casey’s character.

What didn’t you like about the book?  Considering that they had so recently almost lost her to cancer, Casey’s parents seemed unusually blasé about the various injuries she sustained during the course of the story.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to young adults who enjoy a snarky heroine, lots of action, and an innocent (kissing only) paranormal romance.                                                                                                                           Readalikes: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Croak by Gina Damico, Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil series by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Who should buy this book?  Middle schools, public libraries.

Where would you shelve it and why?  Shelve it in the YA fiction section or in the paranormal section if you are using genre shelving.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?   Not necessary.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review: 7/16/14

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Pirates of the Silver Coast – Scott Chantler, Kids Can Press, 2014.

 91gGb1ZM5WL   Pirates of the Silver Coast by Scott Chantler, Kids Can Press, 2014

Format: Graphic Novel

Rating:  5

Genre: Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  This fifth book in the Three Thieves series fulfills the high expectations set by the previous books. Young Dessa, still searching for her kidnapped brother, hires a smuggler’s boat to get her and her friends to the mysterious island of Asgaroth. Meanwhile, the Queen’s Captain who is pursuing Dessa and her companions for trying to rob his kingdom’s treasury, gets his fortune read, leading to ambiguous hints of the future. This engaging fantasy/adventure series features attractive and colorful graphics which add immensely to the story. In my library, every young person who read even a single book has gone on to read the entire series. We are all eagerly awaiting the future volumes.

What didn’t you like about the book?  It was over too soon!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend especially to girls age ten to thirteen looking for an adventure featuring a feisty heroine, though boys will like it, too.                                                                                                                                     Readalikes: The previous books in the series.

Who should buy this book?  Elementary and middle schools, public libraries.

Where would you shelve it and why?  Shelve it where you shelve your graphic novels.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, it’s quick and enjoyable, but read the rest of the series first.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review: 9/28/2014

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Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life – P.J. Hoover

512Pm0OZjCL  Tut: the Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover, Tom Doherty Associates, 2014

Format: Hardcover Novel

Rating:  4

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure

What did you like about the book?  So, it turns out that King Tut didn’t die back in ancient Egypt. Rather, the god Osiris kept Tut from dying and gave him immortal life. Tut has been stuck as a fourteen-year-old ever since. There are compensations, though. Readers will wish they had their own army of shabti, little men made of granite whose only wish is to fulfill every one of Tut’s desires. Unfortunately, the god Set gave Tut’s advisor, Horemheb, eternal life also. For over 2000 years, Tut has wanted revenge on Horemheb for murdering his family. Now his chance may have come if he can only track down a certain hidden knife that has special powers. Expect lots of adventure, some treasure hunting, and even some humor.

What didn’t you like about the book?  Like any fourteen-year-old, Tut has an unfortunate habit of doing the opposite of what he is told. It seems likely that he would have learned more during his thousands of years alive. It was also tedious that Tut was so stuck on revenge.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend this to boys who enjoy Anthony Horowitz and Rick Riordan books.                                                    Readalikes: Anthony Horowitz’ Alex Rider series, Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles and Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

Who should buy this book?  Elementary and middle schools, public libraries.

Where would you shelve it and why?  Shelve it in the general fiction section.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not necessary.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review: 10/19/2014

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The Complete Adventures of the Mole Sisters – Roslyn Schwartz

51eQTpXravL      The Complete Adventures of the Mole Sisters – Roslyn Schwartz, Annick Press, 2004.

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5

What did you like about the book? I liked the simplicity of these short stories, brief glimpses into the life of the Mole Sisters. The Mole Sisters know how to enjoy life in the simplest ways from rainy days to bees to pieces of soft moss. The illustrations are soft, almost-blurred bits of fluff.

What didn’t you like about the book? N/A

To whom would you recommend this book?  There are ten separate stories about the Mole Sisters. Enjoy them individually or in the one volume containing all of them.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and child-care centers

Where would you shelve it and why? The books are individually very small but they are picture books.

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? They are very sweet and simple.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Gardner High School

Date of review: 10/19/2014

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

    51jllpXTNmL    Sam & Dave Dig a Hole – Mac Barnett and    Jon Klassen, Candlewick, 2014.

 Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

What did you like about the book? Sam and Dave are digging a hole. They are going to dig the hole until they find something spectacular. They vary their digging by going sideways and separately, unaware of the treasure they are just missing – that the reader can, of course, see. Klassen’s illustrations, all in earth colors, are perfect in their simplicity.

What didn’t you like about this book? N/A

To whom would you recommend this book?  You might pair this with Klassen’s “This is not my Hat”.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and day-cares

Where would you shelve it and why? Picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Gardner High School

Date of review: 10/17/2014

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Bunny the Brave War Horse: Based on a True Story – Elizabeth MacLeod and Marie LaFrance

       51nFaTr15nLBunny the Brave War Horse: Based on a True Story by Elizabeth MacLeod, Illustrated by Marie LaFrance, Kids Can Press, 2014

Format: Picture Book

Rating: 4

Genre:  Historical

What did you like about the book?

This book broaches the difficult subject of World War I through the story of a brave horse with whom children can readily identify.  It clearly shows the contribution horses made to the Allied cause, from carrying messengers and pulling ambulances to providing companionship for the soldiers who cared for them. There is no denying that the horrors of war are presented here, including hunger, mustard gas and death. But, overall, the book strikes a good balance between telling the truth and telling a good story in a way that should not unduly frighten older children, especially if they read it with some adult guidance. The love and trust between Bunny and his two riders, brothers Tom and Bud, add warmth to the tale, even though Bud does not survive the war. Historical notes at the end enhance the story as well. The drawings are realistic and somber-hued, with red poppies and an occasional other splash of bright color.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The cover illustration and the picture book format may give the impression that this is a book for younger readers. This could cause a twofold problem. Younger readers might be drawn to it thinking it is a gentle story about a horse, which it definitely is not, and older readers might disregard it as being too young for them.

To whom would you recommend this book?  (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Elementary school students, especially those studying World War I.

Read alikes: Knit Your Bit: A World War One Story by Deborah Hopkinson. It also has a similarity to some of Tomie DePaola’s 26 Fairmount Avenue series titles such as I’m Still Scared and Why? although those deal with World War II.

Who should buy this book? Where would you shelve it ? This book would be good for public library collections but I think it would be especially good for elementary school libraries. Although it is likely to be shelved in the picture book section in most libraries, we are considering placing it in 813.54.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not on the very top but definitely somewhere in the pile. It is a quick, worthwhile read about a little-known aspect of World War I. Children studying this time in history might need to be directed to this book because they may not be drawn to it on their own.

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

Date of review: October 15, 2014

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Mine – Sue Heap

   51psxRhbvHL      Mine – Sue Heap, Candlewick Press, 2014

Format: Picture

Rating: 3

What did you like about the book? This is a simple book that traces the process of being possessive of everything to eventually being able to share everything. The message is clear and the illustrations are straight-forward. Older sister, Amy, has her blankie, toys, bunny, bear, but when her younger brother and younger twins want them to play with, she eventually shares and has more fun with them than she had initially had alone with the toys.

What didn’t you like about the book? I liked everything and know that very young children will like the story and illustrations. It’s just a book that I can’t see reading over and over.

To whom would you recommend this book. Pre-school children.

Who should buy this book? The children’s room in any library

Where would you shelve it and why? Picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sandra Pacheco, Gardner Public Schools

Date of review: Oct. 16, 2014

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