Beck by Mal Peet, with Meg Rosoff

   Beck by Mal Peet, with Meg Rosoff. Candlewick, 2017. 9780763678425

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Historical fiction

What did you like about the book?  Beck is an orphan at the Sisters of Mercy in Liverpool. He is summarily dispatched from that abusive and hard place with a passel of other boys to Canada, where he is taken to the Christian Brotherhood.  There, Beck is raped and beaten by one of the brothers, who calls him “Chocolat,” for the color of his skin, before being sent off once again, this time for hard labor on a poor family’s farm. A child who never experienced home, family or love, Beck searches for meaning and understanding of a world of which he is only marginally a part. His journey continues through Canada and the U.S. during the 1920’s, coming of age with brutal lessons from each experience he has on the road. He ends up on a farm owned by a Blackfoot woman, and it is there that he finally finds peace. The brutality of life is rendered in spare, lyrical prose with dark humor. Peet animates people, animal, even furniture, with beauty and clarity, such as the parlor at the country farm, where he was treated like a slave, which “contained some bits of furniture that looked like they hated people.” This is Peet’s last novel, incomplete when he died, and was finished by Meg Rosoff.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for teens and adults, grades 9 and up, who like historical fiction, especially of the Great Depression.

Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Teen collections

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: May 29, 2017

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The Trouble in Me – Jack Gantos

The Trouble in Me – Jack Gantos, Farrar Straus Giroux, (9781250090638), c2015, 2017.

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Autobiographical fiction /Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? This book is labeled “autobiographical fiction” – hmmmnnn…. Just what does that mean? Does it mean that the insanely dangerous and death-defying exploits that Jack manages to successfully partake in are not really real? They can’t be real. Jack is fourteen and has just moved yet again. Seven schools in six years or is it six schools in seven years? Jack is smart and lost and rebellious. He needs friends and decides that 18-year-old Gary, the questionable delinquent from next door, is perfect. The story is fast-moving, funny sometimes and completely riveting.

Anything you did not like about this book? I cannot help wondering just how much of the story is true…

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to those who read any of Jack Gantos “Jack” books or A Hole in My Life – and also to teens that might like/need to see how one can transform a troubled eccentric childhood into one of success. Gary Paulsen’s autobiography, “Eastern Sun, Winter Moon” would accompany this one very well.

Who should buy this book? Public and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA fiction or biography

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 5/29/2017

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The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller and Boya Sun

The Sand Warrior (5 Worlds, #1) by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller and Boya Sun, Random House, 2017. 9781101935866

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Fantasy/graphic novel
What did you like about the book? Young Oona Lee is a student at the prestigious Sand Dancer Academy on Mon Domani, the center of culture and history of all the five worlds. As everyone reminds her, she is not nearly as successful as her big sister, who is now missing. When another planet, Toki, tries to conquer Mon Domani and destroy the precious life there, Oona knows she has to act fast to find her sister and save her world. She teams up with An Tzu, a slum-dweller, and Jax Amboy, a superstar athlete, and the three set out across the 5 worlds to save them all. High fantasy with complex magic and societies. Gorgeous illustrations in a truly beguiling color palette, with diverse characters and non-stop action and adventure. Although Oona and her friends are fighting Toki’s plans for world domination, peace and environmental preservation are the aims of the young people. Readers will find the characters and their quests relatable and exciting.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It took study of the endpapers and flap copy to understand the 5 worlds.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Offer this to kids age 9-12 who liked Hatke’s Zita the Space Girl and Winick’s Hilo.

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

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: May 28, 2017

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Ollie and the Otter: A Scottish Osprey Story – Emily Dodd & Kirsteen Harris-Jones

       Ollie and the Otter: A Scottish Osprey Story – Emily Dodd & Kirsteen Harris-Jones, Picture Kelpies, (9781782503699), 2017

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

What did you like about the book? Ollie the Osprey has just learned to catch fish. Now he wants to present one to a female osprey, Isla but he cannot learn to drop it to her at the right time for her to catch it. He gets much assistance from his good friend, Rory the Otter. The illustrations by Kirsteen Harris-Jones are realistically and very attractively done.

Anything you did not like about this book? Not a thing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to kids who like stories about real animals in the wild.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 5/24/2017

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Goldie Blox and the Three Dares – written by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Alan Baston and Grace Mills Goldie Blox and Rules the School! – written by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Lissy Marlin

  Goldie Blox and the Three Dares – written by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Alan Baston and Grace Mills, Random House Children’s Books, 9780399556364, 2017
         Goldie Blox and Rules the School! – written by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Lissy Marlin, Random House Children’s Books, 9780399556340, 2017

 

 

 

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre: Chapter Book

What did you like about the book? The first two books  in the Goldie Blox series (simultaneously released) have a great combination of characters, story, and vocabulary for independent readers and emergent engineers.  The cast is wonderfully diverse in every aspect, giving readers many different personalities and backgrounds to relate to.  The friends in these adventures are supportive and creative, helping Goldie accomplish her missions while keeping her grounded (even when a mission calls for a picnic on the moon!).

While Goldie has a slight rebellious streak, she is first and foremost a tinkerer and a thinker with inspiring words and stories to match.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The new Goldie Blox books are written and formatted like a chapter book, but are quite a step above what is normally located in this collection. The length may be intimidating for some readers, but is still a fantastic read.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for kids ready to graduate from Ivy and Bean or Princess in Black to something more complex.  These stories are humorous and a great read for those who already love to build or tinker (or a way to inspire a first grader to start building or tinkering).  The reading level is akin to the Mysteries of Maisie Hitchens series.

Who should buy this book? Childrens’ library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? Chapter Book or Juvenile Fiction collection (dependant on system in place within library)

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Why not?  Preview a few pages to get an idea of the humor and story (it really jumps out!) and then set it in the back of your mind for RA.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of review: May 28, 2017

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Big Shark, Little Shark- written by Anna Membrino, illustrated by Tim Bedgen

      Big Shark, Little Shark– written by Anna Membrino, illustrated by Tim Bedgen, Random House, 9780399557286, 2017

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Easy/Early Reader

What did you like about the book? Big Shark and Little Shark have a lot of opposite qualities, but they are both hungry.  The repetition makes this a great addition for early readers looking for a small adventure.  Not only do the illustrations complement the text, but the colors and lines set the scene of an underwater world perfectly, even adding small details such as watery light reflecting from the backs of each shark!  The background presents a variety of flora and fauna, each exhibiting a worried expression for the next potential meal, adding another level of story and interpretation for little readers.

Big shark and Little shark find a creative solution that leaves them working together; teamwork!

Anything you didn’t like about it? None!  If you have a young reader fascinated with sharks, they will enjoy the story here.  From experience, it’s common for some children to develop anxiety about a story about predators versus prey, so be sure you find the right reader for this type of story.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for children who know their alphabet and basic phonics and are ready to read.  While this is more complex than other Step Into Reading Level 1 books (i.e. Margaret Wise Brown’s I Like Stars), this book still build on early reader concepts.  A great match for young ones interested in sharks (and we know there are plenty of those!).

Who should buy this book? Childrens’ library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? Easy/Early Reader collection

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Nope.  Just keep it in mind for Reader’s Advisory.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of review: May 28, 2017

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Go, Go, Trucks! – by Jennifer Liberts, Illustrated by Mike Yamada

       Go, Go, Trucks! – by Jennifer Liberts, Illustrated by Mike Yamada, Random House, (9780399549519), 2017.

Format: Paperback

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Easy Reader

What did you like about the book? This Step Into Reading offering is a good choice for readers who are just starting out. It is a “Step One” which means that it is geared to preschoolers and Kindergarteners to help establish a foundation for reading. Each page has super short rhyming phrases of six words or less. This particular story should please children who love trucks. Each page features two kids, a girl and boy, who encounter all kinds of trucks starting with, “Red truck. Green truck. Great big wheels truck.” The children and trucks are appealing, and the story offers an enjoyable introduction to learning to read.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to beginning readers.

Who should buy this book? Preschool and elementary school classrooms and libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with Easy Readers.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No.

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

Date of review:  5/27/17

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