What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends

  What’s Your Favorite Color? by Eric Carle and Friends (Lauren Castillo, Bryan Collier, Mike Curato, Etienne Delessert, Anna Dewdney, Rafel López, William Low, Marc Martin, Jill McElmurry, Yuyi Morales, Frann Preston-Gannon, Uri Shulevitz, Philip C. Stead, Melissa Sweet). Godwin (Henry Holt & Co.) Books, 2017.  9780805096149

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Concept/picture book

What did you like about the book? Using explanations of whimsy and personal history, fifteen picture book artists each illustrate a page opening and describe their affinity to a particular color, or in the case of Shulevitz, all colors. Each page is an opportunity to explore the color and to enjoy a personal tidbit of the artist. I can see this lovely collaboration as a story time title, part of a unit on colors or art, or a shared lap story. Back matter offers an alphabetical list of the artists and a short biography. Although the book seems to be a fundraising project for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, it is a worthy purchase.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This title is perfect for preschool and kindergarten units on art and color, or as a read aloud at story time.

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

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, all of your favorite picture book artists are here in one volume!

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

Date of review: June 24, 2017

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Renato and the Lion by Barbara DiLorenzo

 Renato and the Lion by Barbara DiLorenzo. Penguin/Viking, 2017. 9780451476418

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Historical fiction/picture book

What did you like about the book? This picture book is a happy marriage of historical fiction and fantasy, taking the hiding of priceless works of art during World War II in Italy and the love of a little boy of his favorite sculpture and weaving them into a story of the timelessness and importance of art. Truly gorgeous watercolor illustrations, works of art on their own, transport the reader to the 1940’s, a time of war and displacement, and then to the present day, as Renato revisits his Italian homeland and the stone lion of his boyhood fantasy. This story can be appreciated on a number of different levels: historical, artistic and personal, and belongs in most collections.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This reminds me of Michelle Barker’s A Year of Borrowed Men, another atmospheric picture book set during World War II.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

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: June 24, 2017

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Ramona Blue – Julie Murphy

  Ramona Blue – Julie Murphy, Balzer + Bray, (9780062418357), 2017

Format: hardcover fiction

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

Genre:  realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Ramona lives on the Gulf shore of Mississippi and is living in the after effects of Hurricane Katrina; her family lives in a small trailer and they are barely scraping to get by. Ramona is one of just a few out and open gay people in her small town in Mississippi so she should be excited to escape her town, but she isn’t excited about the future. She may be a high school senior, but college isn’t something she’s considered. With an overworked father; a pregnant, needy sister; a disinterested and emotionally unavailable mother; and a girlfriend who is still in the closet, Ramona has plenty of problems. Then her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town and suddenly she starts to hope for more than what she has…but it’s complicated. Can Ramona leave her small town and her sister behind? If she falls in love with a boy, is she still gay? I loved absolutely everything about this book, the complex, fully created characters and their deep connections to each other.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing at all. It was perfect from start to finish.

To whom would you recommend this book? Teens who like to read emotional realistic fiction.

Who should buy this book? all high schools

Where would you shelve it ? Realistic fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: June 24, 2017

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Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith

  Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith, Roaring Brook Press, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09053-9

Format:  paperback

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

Genre: fantasy

What did you like about the book? This is a unique book. Augie’s family runs a struggling theme park in New Mexico, and Augie is facing a difficult summer. He’s flunked a class at school, he and his best friend have to cope with some vicious bullies, and he fears that a strange encounter will turn him into a werewolf.  The fairly light-hearted story turns more serious when a tragedy occurs and Augie believes he is to blame. Augie is a believable protagonist, and his pain is palpable. I felt this part of the story was the strongest. Then the story seems to shift again and it becomes something of a ghost story. One could say there’s something for everyone here, although some readers may find it disjointed. Frequent illustrations, cartoons, journal entries and lots of action encourage readers to keep turning the pages. For some, this will be an entertaining read, others may be left feeling dissatisfied.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Although I liked parts of this book very much, I found it hard to keep up with the shifting tone.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read alikes? It’s hard to know who would enjoy this book most, and also hard to think of a read-alike.  Readers who enjoy journal-style books with lots of illustrations might like this more sophisticated offering, but they should be prepared for the seriousness of some of its themes. Readers who are fascinated by the paranormal might also like it. Fans of Lane Smith’s much-loved illustrations should be intrigued by this, his first novel.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries may want to consider purchasing it.

Where would you shelve it ?  Middle-grade fiction

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

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

Date of review: June 23, 2017

 

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One Lonely Fish, written by Andy Mansfield and illustrated by Thomas Flintham


One Lonely Fish, written by Andy Mansfield and illustrated by Thomas Flintham, Templar Publishing, 9781681192017, 2016  

Format: board book

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

Genre: counting book

What did you like about the book? This book starts out with one lonely fish who is gradually joined by a second fish, then a third, eventually ending with ten fish- but takes a turn and ends with one fish again.  This is a very silly counting book from one to ten.  The illustrations are very cute and bright and engaging with funny shaped pages that will keep kids entertained!

Anything you didn’t like about it?  There is nothing I didn’t like. 

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a great book for kids learning to count and for those who like a good chuckle.

Who should buy this book? Children’s libraries

Where would you shelve it? juvenile board books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Laureen Cutrona, Townsend Public Library, Townsend, MA

Date of Review: June 21, 2017

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Piglettes – written and translated by Clémentine Beauvais

          Piglettes – written and translated by Clémentine Beauvais, Pushkin Children’s Books, 9781782691204, 2017

Format: Paperback

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

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book?  A summer story of cycles and sausages!  After facing bullying at school, Mireille, Astrid, and Hakima band together and do the only logical thing: cycle across France while selling sausages and camping under the stars.  Their adventure will not only take them to Paris, but on an eye-opening path of self-love and acceptance.

This beautiful and funny book explores the troubles and triumphs of being a teen through the eyes of a witty, philosophical, and slightly awkward teen.  Beauvais goes above and beyond to appeal to readers while addressing many relevant issues in society including cyber-bullying, racism, and self-image.  Mireille’s voice and character are wonderfully authentic with unflappable confidence and inelegant missteps mixed together for a potent storyteller on a journey of self-discovery.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There are so many references to France and French culture that you can practically taste the baguettes and Brie.  This is not so much a complaint as an observation; teens will learn a lot but may find a quick Google search will help them understand certain phrases or landmarks.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for readers who enjoyed the outlook and humor of Willowdean in Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, the mix of awkward moments and setting in Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, or the charming story of a rebel in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart.

Who should buy this book? High school/YA library collections (public and school)

Where would you shelve it ? YA

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Love laughing and cringing?  This book is for you! While it’s not hard-hitting on many issues, it touches on them in a way that acknowledges the problems in society without bogging down what is essentially a lighthearted summer read.

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

Date of review: June 22, 2017

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Dark Breaks the Dawn – Sara B. Larson

   Dark Breaks the Dawn – Sara B. Larson, Scholastic Press, 9781338068696, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? This takes the Swan Lake suite by Tchaikovsky and turns it into a Fantasy realm of magic and warfare. 18-year-old princess Evelayn of Eadrolan, the Light Kingdom, is about to come into the Light powers she has been waiting for all her life.  Her mother is at the war front in the battles against the Dark Kingdom of Dorjhalon.  The character of Evelayn grows from child to struggling adult quickly and her mental battles as she deals with grief and being thrust into huge responsibilities and attempt to control her powers feels real and is a powerful hook.  We also have a love story blooming as the princess finds herself falling for the newly arrived Lord Tarvin. The writing is solid so if you can ride through the few oddly-paced sections this magic-light romance could be a fun romp for you.

Anything you didn’t like about it? If you don’t know the song’s story you may be a bit shocked by some of the ending’s twist but if you ARE familiar with the suite’s meaning then you’ll probably be a bit bored. So maybe don’t read the wikipedia article about the song first!  Even without pre-knowledge going into the book there are spots where the pacing is a bit sluggish as the story tries to flip between “I’m a YA romance!” and “I’m a serious book on warring kingdoms and fantasy magic struggles!”  The first book of a duology, this reads in many places like an over-long prequel chapter to the main focus of the story so  you may spend much of the book wondering when the real story will begin. The plot thread of Lord Tanvir and the quick-fire romance that blooms between the two often pushes the more interesting plot to the side, taking up space that would have been better spent developing other characters (particularly those in the Dark Kingdom.  Even up to the end it was incredibly difficult to tell the difference between King Bain’s two sons: Lorcan and Lothan)

To whom would you recommend this book?  This sort-of Fairy Tale retelling could appeal to readers of Throne of Glass for the larger magical world-building or to fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses for the romance-focus.

Who should buy this book? Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA 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: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA

Date of review: 6/21/17

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