The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

81dgzFNH3fL._AC_UY218_The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska. Sourcebooks Fire, 2020. 9781728209982

Format: ARC (June 2020 release)

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? In this dystopian fairy tale, a young person must be sacrificed to keep the dark tide of water from inundating the island nation of Caldella. Lina is in love with Thomas, who escaped this fate the year before, and she worries that her brother Finley my be the Queen’s chosen sacrifice this year on the full moon. Her brother is a handsome, talented musician, and the Queen will choose someone like him to fall in love with and sacrifice. The Queen, on the other hand, has no appetite for this tradition, since her sister died the year before when Thomas escaped. The perspectives of Lina and Eva, the Queen, unfold in alternating chapters, showing that each young woman has deep emotions and grief about this annual event. Magic, romance and suspense combine in a dramatic conclusion, including the unexpected feelings that develop between Lina and Eva. Interestingly, Lina falls in love with Eva, while still feeling drawn to Thomas. I haven’t seen many bisexual characters in fantasy. Her ambivalent attraction is portrayed with sensitivity and will be a welcome part of the story for many YA readers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 14 and up. There is wishing and kissing but no sex, so younger readers who don’t mind romance with their fantasy could also enjoy this.

Who should buy this book? High school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Young adult fiction

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: July 12, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, Alicia Jasinska, ARC, Dystopian, Fantasy | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Knight Who Might – Lou Treleaven, illustrations by Kyle Beckett

 The Knight Who Might – Lou Treleaven, illustrations by Kyle Beckett, Maverick Publishing, 9781848866447, 2020 

Format: PDF Review Copy (Hardcover available October 6, 2020)

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

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? When I was reading this story I kept thinking it would be such a great book to read for a library storytime–both because it has a positive message and it has some funny repetitive phrases that young children will enjoy repeating. In this story, a knight is trying his best to become the best knight ever. First, he tries to ride a horse but then falls off. Next he tries to put on his helmet and use his sword, but neither of those attempts are successful. Each time he fails, he says the same thing “One day, I might be a knight” and each time he says this someone (or something, in this case talking horse, helmet, and sword) says “You might not”.  This knight is not one to be discouraged, so he decides to enter a sword fighting tournament to prove his worthiness. He does not have the support of his horse, sword or helmet–they are magical and they can talk and perform various actions. Once the knight is at the tournament, his fighting items realize they made a mistake and run off to help him and to encourage him. Unfortunately, he does not win the tournament, but he does win a prize for bravery (no one else would fight “The Lord With The Scary Looking Sword”).  This makes the knight feel very good, however, it does not seem to improve his knight skills and he continues fumbling-with humorous results.

I think what I really enjoyed about this book is the positive message for young children about trying something and working through something, even if it is a challenge. Children will love seeing his silly mistakes and joining in the reading with some of the repetitive phrases. The artwork provided by Kyle Beckett is colorful and humorous with expressive faces on the horse and inanimate objects. There are a lot of comedic moments captured in the illustrations such as the knight falling into mud puddles, getting startled by a scarecrow, riding a horse backwards, and the objects (sword and helmet) hiding from the knight.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of four and seven years old. It is a great message wrapped in a humorous package and is a perfect book for children who love a silly story.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and seven years old.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, seems like a great book for storytime

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: July 12, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review, Knights | Tagged | Leave a comment

Peppa Pig Story Treasury – Candlewick Entertainment

 Peppa Pig Story Treasury – Candlewick Entertainment, 9781536213386, 2020 

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Fiction

What did you like about the book? This collection of previously published stories, based on the TV series created by Neville Astley and Mark Baker, features Peppa Pig and her family and friends as they survive a flood, go on vacation, show off their talents at school, visit the Library, go to a museum and have fun on a treasure hunt. 

Peppa and her little brother George get on well with one another and share in their adventures. They are a wonderful example of siblings getting along and having fun with their family. 

Aimed at young children pre K to first grade, these six stories will be a hit with all fans of Peppa and would make for great read alouds.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  All fans of Peppa Pig’s television program will love this book.

Who should buy this book? Day care centers, elementary school libraries and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books or series section if they have other Peppa Pig books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you want to become acquainted with Peppa, definitely.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Maria Touet, Malden Public Schools, Malden, MA

Date of review: July 11, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Why?: A Sciencey, Rhymey Guide to Rainbows – Billy Dunne, illustrations by Rhys Jefferys

 Why?: A Sciencey, Rhymey Guide to Rainbows – Billy Dunne, illustrations by Rhys Jefferys, Maverick Publishing, 9781848866485, 2020 

Format: PDF Review Copy (Hardcover available October 6, 2020)

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

 What did you like about the book? This is a cute story that I think any parent will be able to relate to when your child asks “Why” several times in a day. In this story, a dad and his young daughter are enjoying a walk after a rainstorm has passed. They look up in the sky and see a beautiful rainbow. The dad casually explains that a rainbow is created when sunshine immediately follows rain. The young girl wants a little more explanation, so she asks “Why?” The dad replies “The colors of a beam of light are jumbled up together, but split apart when passing through a spot of rainy weather.” The dad feels very happy with his response, but then his daughter asks “Why?” again. With each response, the father seems to get more and more anxious with his ability to explain rainbows to his curious daughter.  This goes on and on until the dad recites a scientific formula for the reason behind a rainbow. At this point, the father is so anxious that he is in a sweating ball sitting on the ground. His daughter comes up, gives him a hug, and tells him that all she really needed was a simple answer. 

As to be expected, the illustrations are bright and colorful–we are dealing with rainbows. This book is a great way to explain a scientific concept without being too challenging for young children. The way the father describes a rainbow starts very simple, but then gets more detailed. This allows children to process the information a little at a time. The book is also made up of rhymes so that gives a little beat to the story.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children ages four through seven years old, especially if they are a child who enjoys science concepts.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and seven years old.

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction picture books or picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: July 10, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Rhyming, Science | Tagged | Leave a comment

In the Woods by David Elliott,  illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

 In the Woods by David Elliott,  illustrated by Rob Dunlavey, Candlewick, 9780763697839, 2020 

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

Format: Oversized hardcover

Genre: Poetry

What did you like about the book?  Publishers and poets sure like picture books with animal rhymes, so here’s another candidate for your 800 shelves. This one is well suited to New England readers as it catalogs animals found in our forests, including opossums, bears, deer, fishers and millipedes. Each double-page spread features a short poem (some free verse, some limericks, even couplets) and a handsome watercolor illustration of the creature engaged in whatever behavior is described in the text. The art is sophisticated and attractive, managing to be slightly abstract without sacrificing recognizable physical traits. Some of the poems are droll, for example, the entirety of “The Moose” is “Ungainly, mainly.” And we’re warned to beware the porcupine’s “surface nonchalance; when rushed she gives a barbed response.” Others are more focused on the animal’s beauty: the scarlet tanager’s “flash of red in the spring green of the trees, as if the forest air is branded, burned.” I especially liked the oversized pages, which help to magnify the detail of the animal under discussion and its habitat. A “Notes About the Animals” section at the end gives a few facts about the highlighted behavior and provides some additional clarification on vocabulary (skunks have poor eyesight, a female fox is a vixen, etc.).

Anything you didn’t like about it? The word choice in some of the poems seems a bit sophisticated for the age level of the book, although the poems all have a nice rhythm and stand on their own, even without the pictures. We’re told that the “prevailing sentiment” is to avoid the wasp, even though the woods would seem unoccupied “without your “buzzing tenement.” The fox on her hunt is described as a “fierce prophecy” of things to come…if you’re the prey. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  This could be used as a nifty way for a teacher to combine poetry and nature study, and would work well as a read aloud for students in grades 3-5. Students could work on decoding the vocabulary, analyzing verbal imagery, looking for alliteration, etc. Families browsing the library shelves for poetry might also enjoy finding poems about animals that are commonly seen or heard on hikes or camping trips.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 800s (poetry) or possibly in picture books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you’re looking for new critter-themed poetry collections.

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: July 10, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, Animals, Poetry, Rob Dunlavey | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

     The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz, G.P. Putnam’s Sons (an imprint of Penguin Random House), 9780525515913, 2020 

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

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy/romance/adventure

What did you like about the book?  It’s a duology! I wish there were more single or two volume fantasy novels. So many stretch on and on that it’s hard to find one for readers with flagging stamina. In this de la Cruz outing, a couple meets cute and embarks on an adventure in a magical kingdom, with all of the sparring and misunderstandings that are a hallmark of the genre. Shadow lives with her aunts in the bucolic countryside of Renovia but longs to practice magic and work for the secretive Guild, rather than join her distant mother as a lady at court. When she hears that the Queen’s (handsome) Assassin Cal has been imprisoned, she undertakes a rescue that sends both of them undercover in the rival kingdom of Montrice. I would say this book ticks the boxes that many teen readers are looking for: long kisses, lots of cuddling, endless descriptions of beautiful clothes, cool fight scenes and a puzzle to solve.  I did like the storytelling technique that switched from Shadow’s first person narration to Cal’s third person sections. I think the main characters are both white, but for diversity, the aunts are a same sex couple, as are the ambassador of Renovia and his husband. Cool cover art, although there are no actual black roses in the novel, or blood-filled chalices.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I found the book pretty tepid. There’s not a lot of attention given to character development, so it’s not clear that Cal and Shadow have much in common, besides physical attraction. Cal’s birthright mission is to find some magic scroll that will help the more virtuous Renovians cement their power, but there’s almost no magic in the book, other than Shadow having a few visions and an evil spellcaster/shapeshifter who doesn’t show up until the last chapter.  I guessed early on the truth about Shadow’s origins, but then De la Cruz inserted a huge deus ex machina at the end that didn’t make sense to me, even with backtracking and re-reading. It’s possible that the second installation would include a bit more heft.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of de la Cruz, Sarah J. Maas or Victoria Aveyard might be drawn to this new series.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries where the author’s works are popular.

Where would you shelve it? YA, probably in romance or fantasy if you genre-fy.

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

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: July 10, 2020

 

Posted in *Book Review, Adventure, Fantasy, Meissa de la Cruz, Romance | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nature All Around: Plants – written by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Carolyn Gavin

  Nature All Around: Plants – written by Pamela Hickman, illustrated by Carolyn Gavin. Kids Can Press, 9781771388191, 2020

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? What better title to give or read to a child to help them understand the lives of plants. This visually vibrant book will help children understand the life cycles of plants from their birth as seeds through to their end of life in winter, it is particularly of interest for this region of the country since the author and illustrator are based in eastern Canada and we share similar plants and zones.

From its lovely table of contents to its descriptions of plants by season and other categories like strange or endangered plants, this book touches on plants that may grow between sidewalk cracks or on the open prairie, plants that live in water or the desert. The amazing illustrations bring life to the animals and plants featured on each page. The glossary and index at the back of the book, along with ways children can help protect plants and become plant watchers, are extensive, yet easy for kids to understand.

An excellent choice for any child interested in nature, this is the third book in the Nature All Around series.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No!

To whom would you recommend this book? If you have read the other books in the series, Birds, Trees, or Bugs there is no doubt this will also become a favorite.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and Middle school libraries, public libraries, day care centers and anyone interested in nature and plants.

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Maria Touet, Malden Public Schools, Malden, MA

Date of review: July 11, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Botany, Nature, Plants | Tagged | Leave a comment

The MOOsic Makers – Heather Pindar, illustrations by Barbara Bakos

   The MOOsic Makers – Heather Pindar, illustrations by Barbara Bakos, Maverick Publishing, 9781848866492, 2020 

Format: PDF Review Copy (Hardcover available September, 2020)

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

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? This is a cute and entertaining story about a group of farmyard animals that help raise money to repair their barn. The story begins with two silly cows, Celery and Nutmeg, who love to make music in their barn. Most of the animals love to hear the music, but some are a little jealous that they do not have an opportunity to learn to play instruments. One night, a huge storm sweeps over the farm and completely destroys the barn. Celery and Nutmeg have a wonderful idea–they will perform some concerts to raise money. Some of the other animals want to join in, but Celery and Nutmeg just want the show to be about them. They go on to have great success, but get swindled out of their money by a corrupt manager. They return to the farm completely dejected; things change, however, when they realize that the other animals can perform as well. All the farm animals join together for a wonderful “Moo Baa Hehaw Festival ” and enough money is raised to repair the roof. Now they are all singing and performing together.

I really like how this book has a positive message in the end by including the other animals in the performance. I am sure many children experience times where one child or a small group of children monopolize an event, and this is a great way to show that things work out better if everyone has an opportunity to participate and contribute. The artwork provided by Barbara Bakos is very colorful, whimsical, and humorous. Children will enjoy the various expressions on the animals’ faces.

Anything you did not like about the book. Nothing

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of three and six years old. This is an especially good book for children that need to see the importance of letting others share in an experience or be able to contribute.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, daycare centers, anyone who works with children between the ages of three and six years old.

Where would you shelve it? Picture book

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, cute story, positive message, and adorable illustrations–it is the complete package.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: July 10, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, *Starred Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

My Green Day: 10 Green Things I Can Do Today by Melanie Walsh

 My Green Day: 10 Green Things I Can Do Today by Melanie Walsh, Candlewick Press, 9781536211313, 2020.

Format: Paperback

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

 Genre: Picture book

 What did you like about the book? How can children participate in making the world a better place? This book is a step in that direction. Easy to understand text for kindergarten and first graders with some added information that an adult reader could read aloud and use as talking points for class/group discussions. It covers a whole day being green, from waking up in the morning to going to bed at night. 

Kids can learn about free range chickens, saving energy by hanging laundry out to dry, composting and more. The vivid illustrations help to explain the ideas put forward and add a joyfulness to a serious subject—sustainable living.

My Green Day would be a great read aloud to show young children that even they can help with protecting our environment.

Anything you did not like about the book. No

 To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone interested in helping teach children to care for the planet…teachers, librarians, camp directors…

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries, day care centers.

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction, picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, it’s a quick read.

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Maria Touet, Malden Public Schools, Malden, MA

Date of review: July 10, 2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Picture Book, Environment, Melanie Walsh, Recycling | Tagged | Leave a comment

Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights – Lawrence Goldstone

Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights – Lawrence Goldstone, Scholastic Focus, 9781338323481, 2020

Format: Paperback

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

What did you like about the book?: As you read through the book it is clear and evident how the content addressed is in this book although it highlights the beginning of voter suppression in the US, it is content that is needed now. The book takes us through the creation of laws and policies that impacted African Americans from accessing their right to vote. It breaks it down in language that is easily digestible. The first chapter begins with the Constitutional Convention in 1787 in Philadelphia. I appreciated the fact that the author included stories that even as an African American studies minor in college I never heard about in reference to this history. For example, when John Adams during a convention session stated that only landowners should have the right to vote. The pictures that are included in the book are historical archival photos such as a picture of the Wilmington vigilantes that burned down Alex Manly’s newspaper or a Republican newspaper ad predicting that there will be devastation for African Americans “if the army is pulled out of the South” during the war. Although this book highlights past moments in history it is a glaring highlight of why, during these days in 2020, African Americans are fighting the battle of a lifetime. The fight to be equal for African Americans is not new and this book takes us every step of the way in showing us the long history of the suppression of a group of people. This text should be used in conjunction with textbooks in all U.S. History courses for high school aged students. It also includes more intimate details of different events that happened across the country. Typically textbooks just record the facts and may have some additional information – this text, however, combines the two. 

Anything you didn’t like about it?: This is not particularly for this book but I would love to read a follow up book about the correlation to voting suppression today. I believe this is a text that could be used very effectively in a high school Civics class or even a U.S. History class. 

To whom would you recommend this book?: Students  ages 15 – 18  

Who should buy this book?: High schools and public libraries

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Rose Metayer, Boston Latin School, Boston MA 

Date of review: 7/10/2020

Posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, African Americans, History, Voting | Tagged | Leave a comment