Who Killed Darius Drake? by Rodman Philbrick

 Who Killed Darius Drake? by Rodman Philbrick, Blue Sky Press, 9780545789783, 2017.

Format: Paperback, ARC

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

Genre:  Mystery

What did you like about the book?  The book title, “Who Killed Darius Drake?”  sets the stage for a classic mystery featuring two unlikely friends.  Darius Drake and Arthur “Bash Man” find themselves on a quest to uncover a mystery sparked by a troubling note Darius receives at the orphanage where he lives.  Arthur is known as the school bully and tough guy, Darius is the school genius and socially awkward, but as they continue to dig deeper to determine who is threatening Darius, they forge a friendship. Once the two begin to uncover pieces of the mystery, including the location of a priceless diamond necklace, there is no turning back.   Philbrick creates relatable characters and a classic mystery that keep the reader hooked until they reach the “who-did-it” ending.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It became a little bit of a challenge to keep the supporting characters straight as the story progressed,  but this is also part of developing a compelling mystery.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Mystery readers

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Jennifer Brown, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, MA

Date of review: 8.21.17

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Myths and Legends – by Sandra Lawrence, illustrated by Emma Trithart

 Myths and Legends – by Sandra Lawrence, illustrated by Emma Trithart, 360 Degrees, (9781944530112), 2017.

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? This smorgasbord of tales allows readers to sample tidbits of mythological stories and legends presented in five thematic chapters: gods and heroes, creation myths, myths that explain natural phenomena, journeys, and love stories. Greek myths predominate along with many European legends. However, examples from Asia (Monkey King, Shiva, Sinbad), Africa (Anansi), and South America (Quetzalcoatl) also appear. Favorable aspects include the dainty size (6” tall), conversational tone, and plentiful pleasant illustrations.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Because it’s so short, the meat of the stories is omitted. This causes unfortunate choices such as providing just a list of Hercules’ labors which is nowhere near as interesting as reading how he actually accomplished each one. Also, four pages were printed on colored paper so dark as to make the type nearly illegible.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to readers in grades 3 – 5 to whet their appetite about the tales introduced here.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in 398.2

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:  8/19/17

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The Mermaid – Jan Brett

   The Mermaid – Jan Brett, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, (9780399170720), 2017

Format: Hardcover Picture book

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

What did you like about the book? Jan Brett has created a wonderfully imaginative retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Here we have Kiniro, a Mermaid, and the three members of the Octopus family. As the octopus family sets out for a morning swim before breakfast, Kiniro shows up at their home, curious about the seashell cottage in which they live. She eats from the big shell, “Too crunchy”. She eats from the middle-sized shell, “Too slimy”. The littlest shell contained a breakfast that was “Just right!” She finds the chairs that are too bumpy, too slippery and just right but her wriggling causes the chair to break apart. The beds are “too messy”, “too squishy” and just right. Her friend the puffer fish saves Kiniro from the tentacles of the octopi. Jan Brett’s signature illustrations beautifully illustrate the imaginative retelling.

Anything you did not like about this book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? Teachers doing a unit on comparison of fairy tale retellings could use this story; it would also make a nice addition to storytimes.

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

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: 8/18/2017

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Creepy Pair of Underwear – words by Aaron Reynolds, pictures by Peter Brown

 Creepy Pair of Underwear – words by Aaron Reynolds, pictures by Peter Brown, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, (9781442402980), 2017

Format: Hardcover Picture book

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

What did you like about the book? A little bunny is shopping for new underwear with his mother. Plain white ones are fine until Jasper Rabbit sees the display of cool “Creepy Underwear, so creepy!, so comfy!” He found them “glorious. Mom would only buy him one pair which he put on right away when he got home. In bed at night, Jasper discovers that the Creepy Underwear gives off a “ghoulish, greenish glow”. The glow really bothered him, gave him the creeps – so he put the undies in the bottom of the laundry hamper and put on white ones. In the morning he found he was WEARING the ghoulish ones once more! The trashcan this time but they came back. He mailed them to China but they came back with a set of chopsticks… Finally he cuts them into tons of tiny, tiny pieces. But oh no! His last hope is biking way, way far away to the top of a hill, digging a super deep hole and dropping the green undies in. Did they stay there this time? A super funny book blessed with atmospheric green, black and subdued tones of pencil on paper illustrations by Peter Brown!

Anything you did not like about this book? No, a totally fun book that kids will love.

To whom would you recommend this book? Pair this one with Creepy Carrots by the same author/illustrator team.

Who should buy this book? All public and lower elementary grade schools and day-cares.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

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: 8/18/2017

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The Giant of Jum by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji Davies

        The Giant of Jum by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Benji Davies, Henry Holt and Company, 9781627795159, 2017.

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book: This is a delightful spin on a classic giant story featuring the Giant of Jum. He is a bit of a hungry and grouchy giant and is on the lookout for a young boy named Jack to curb his hunger.  The young children who meet the giant along his journey and ask for his help show him that there is more on the inside than a grouchy giant and kindness pays off.   The rhythm and rhyme of the story includes a chorus of “Fi Fi Fo Fum” that invites readers to join in. A unique and fun tale that is sure to be a hit!

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Great pairing with Jack and the Beanstalk and friendship stories

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Jennifer Brown, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, MA

Date of review: 8.16.17

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Doris the Bookasaurus by Diana Murray, illustrated by Yuyi Chen

 Doris the Bookasaurus by Diana Murray, illustrated by Yuyi Chen, Imprint, 9781250116765, 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  A story told in rhyme, Doris is a dinosaur who loves books and wishes her younger siblings felt the same.  She eagerly shares her latest adventures between the pages of her books, but time and again her brothers want nothing to do with it.  Things change when she opens a book about pirates and the idea of books coming to life through imagination take root for her brothers.  An enjoyable story embracing the magic of reading accompanied by lively and colorful illustrations.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Young readers who are fans of dinosaur stories.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you are looking for a “book” themed story for programming

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Jennifer Brown, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, MA

Date of review: 8.16.17

 

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 Who Are Venus and Serena Williams?  by James Buckley Jr., Illustrated by Andrew Thomson

 Who Are Venus and Serena Williams? – James Buckley, Jr., illustrated by Andrew Thomson, Penguin Workshop, 9780515158038, 2017.

Format: Paperback

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

Genre:  Biography

What did you like about the book?  In the “Who is” series style, this biography gives the reader a glimpse into the lives of Venus and Serena Williams from their early childhood up to their numerous tennis championships today.   Their story is unique as they are both sisters and competitors and their journey as professional athletes has been filled with success as well as challenges. Told in short chapters with illustrations spread throughout the book, the length and format make the book very accessible.   Readers will gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the determination in overcoming adversity that Venus and Serena have experienced throughout their careers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Tennis fans and readers who enjoy the “Who was” biography series

Who should buy this book?  Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Biography

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you enjoy biographies and want to learn more about the Williams sisters.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Jennifer Brown, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, MA

Date of review: 8.16.17

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