The Impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic, the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

51rC91HevIL   The Impossibly True Story of Tricky Vic, the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli. Viking, (978-0670016525), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre:  Non-fiction

What did you like about the book? It’s hard to believe that such an audacious con man ever lived, and that he actually tried to sell the Eiffel Tower! Greg Pizzoli brings Tricky Vic to life for kids, starting with his childhood in the Czech Republic. He was a smart student who became fluent in several languages and studied at the University of Paris, but he got sidetracked by gambling. The book has side bars on interesting topics such as prohibition and counterfeiting. It includes a glossary and source list. Mixed media illustrations. Tricky Vic’s face is a fingerprint in every depiction.

Anything you didn’t like about it?

To whom would you recommend this book?  The kids who exclusively read biographies would love this.

Who should buy this book? Public and school libraries.

Where would you shelve it ? Biographies

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

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

Date of review: April 24, 2015

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My Pen by Christopher Myers

61v-VrFDnSL My Pen by Christopher Myers, Disney Hyperion, (978-1423103714),
2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  5+ (Starred review)

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?   Myers’ superb new book celebrates (and demonstrates!) the power of imagination. The simplicity of the format, black and white line drawings, underscores what a creative artist can do with even such a basic medium. (It doesn’t hurt that the artist is also crazy talented.) I’ve read this book about a dozen times already, and each time, I see something new to engage me. While the book could be read aloud, the pictures are so detailed that it would be better enjoyed by a single reader or maybe two reading it together.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?   I would recommend this book anyone who wants to read a phenomenally well-written and illustrated picture book, but also, especially, to artsy kids and art teachers anywhere from elementary all the way through high school. I also recently recommended it to a middle school special education teacher who used it with her students to pick out themes in picture books.

Who should buy this book?  Public and school libraries, classrooms, and home settings.

Where would you shelve it? Shelve in the picture book section.

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

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

Date of review:                4/24/15

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The Ghost and Max Monroe: Case #2: The Missing Zucchini by L. M. Falcone. Illustrations by Kim Smith

51RTjJoM8TLThe Ghost and Max Monroe: Case #2: The Missing Zucchini by L. M. Falcone. Illustrations by Kim Smith. Kids Can Press, (978-1771381543), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 2

Genre:  Mystery

What did you like about the book? Max is a kid detective and he is much smarter than his grandfather Harry or his ghost great-uncle Larry when it comes to solving mysteries. Max and Larry are called upon to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Zelda and Zeeta Zamboni’s missing 200-lb zucchini. There are three suspects and they all have motives and alibis. The silly names and goofy repartee are appealing to reluctant readers, and it’s always great to find another early chapter book mystery.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The characters are flat and the story arc is predictable.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Young mystery fans, especially boys, who have advanced beyond Cam Jansen.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Children’s fiction

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

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

Date of review: April 24, 2015

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Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Baseball by Howard Bryant

81i+82+E0KL  Legends: The Best Players, Games, and Teams in Baseball by Howard Bryant, Philomel Books, (978-0399169038), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  4

Genre:  Nonfiction Sports

What did you like about the book?    Even those who are not fans will find much to enjoy in this entertaining collection of stories and anecdotes about some of the most outstanding players, games, and teams in the history of baseball. Top players such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax are lauded, each in his own chapter. Bryant doesn’t shy away from the less exemplary moments in baseball either. There is a well-explained chapter describing the controversies over Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s batting records. For those of us in Boston area libraries, local winning teams populate two whole chapters: one on the 1914 Boston Braves and the other on 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  More illustrations, interspersed with the text instead of grouped at the end, would have been preferable.

To whom would you recommend this book?    Recommend to readers of Mike Lupica’s baseball fiction who want to branch out into non-fiction or to baseball fans who are too young for Dan Shaughnessy’s books.

Who should buy this book?  Middle school libraries and public library children’s non-fiction sections.

Where would you shelve it? Shelve in 796.357 with non-fiction baseball books.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you’re a baseball fan or want to become one.

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

Date of review:  4/23/15

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Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France – written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

61K250js3oL Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France – written by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno, Candlewick Press, (978-0763663513), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  5 (Starred review)

Genre:  Nonfiction Picture Book

What did you like about the book?   This picture book is a wonder! Within its slim pages, the scientific method is introduced to young people using a real life example from history. While in France to find aid for the Americans during the American Revolution, Ben Franklin is asked to help the king with a problem. A physician, Franz Mesmer, seems to be curing illnesses with the use of a new invisible force. The king needs to know whether Mesmer is a fraud or has he really found a new healing force? Franklin uses the scientific method to solve the mystery. I am in awe of how well the author and illustrator convey so much information, some of which is fairly complex (placebo effect, blind tests), in a manner that young people can understand and with humor so they will want to understand it.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  (Read-alikes if you can think of them)  Recommend especially to anyone who wants to plant the seeds of scientific inquiry in children.

Read-alikes: Books by Molly Bang like Living Sunlight are similar in that they beautifully explain complex scientific ideas but do it with less humor than Mesmerized.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and classrooms as well as children’s sections in public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Shelve in non-fiction in the 500’s.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not necessary, but it is quick and entertaining.

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

Date of review:  4/22/15

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Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves – edited by Ann Angel

51DzzAWWKDL  Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves – edited by Ann Angel, (978-0763673079), Candlewick Press, 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre:  Short Story Compilations

What did you like about the book? Most of the stories in this compilation touching on the good and bad of keeping secrets are clever, touching, or nicely dark and thoughtful.  The writing is great in some, good in others. The stories are a decent mix of genres and there’s some really nice diversity of race, gender identity and sexualities across the collection.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There were two stories which didn’t strike a chord for me so clearly it’s a mixed lot which means some stories may not work for each reader.  Still; they are SHORT stories so it’s easy to skip any that don’t snag your interest.

To whom would you recommend this book?   Readers of Ellen Hopkins might be drawn to some of the darker stories as well as the short nature of them.  There are a fantasy tale or two but the majority will appeal to realistic fiction readers more.

Who should buy this book? High schools, public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Short Stories or YA fiction compilations

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson, MA

Date of review: 4/17/15
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Look Where We Live!: A First Book of Community Building by Scot Ritchie

61kQUaPoTPL  Look Where We Live: A First Book of Community Building by Scot Ritchie, Kids Can Press, (978-1771381024), 2015

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

Rating: 4

What did you like about the book? This book talks about a wide variety of ways kids can help support their communities, and really takes time to help them understand what a community is, and how all people of all ages can contribute. Five young friends take us for a tour around their town on the day of a street fair to benefit the library. One family has a yard sale and plans to donate the proceeds, and the gas station owner is holding a car wash to benefit the library. We see children and adults picking up trash, painting a mural, working in the community garden, visiting the library, and, in a particularly nice scene, enjoying lemonade at the local retirement home. This book makes it seem very possible for everyone to participate in positive activities that contribute to the good of their town, city, or group. The book also includes a suggested craft activity and a glossary of words at the end. Some of the pages are almost like an “I Spy” game, where readers can look for the five friends among the detailed illustrations.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This would be an excellent choice for a classroom read-aloud to support a community helper theme. It is probably best for kindergarten through second grade. It might it nice to pair it with All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

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

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

Date of review: April 15, 2015

 

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