I Text Dead People – Rose Cooper

61F3HHVoMuL          I Text Dead People – Rose Cooper, Delacorte Press, (9780385743914), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  3

Genre:  Horror

What did you like about the book?  Annabel and her mom have just moved into the mansion her great-uncle left them when he passed away. Uncle Maxwell, who built the mansion on the grounds of a cemetery, was considered crazy for talking to people whom no one else could see. Annabel finds a cell phone in the woods nearby and slowly, reluctantly comes to the conclusion that ghosts are using the phone to send text messages to her. Short chapters and clever line drawings keep things moving, but can’t overcome the shortcomings of this horror/humor hybrid.

Anything you didn’t like about it?    It was disappointing that Annabel did not stand up for herself or anyone else. She desperately wanted to join the popular crowd, and even did their homework for them so they would include her. She spent the whole story rejecting the fact that she can speak to ghosts. Even at the end, she doesn’t embrace her ability or try to help the many ghosts who asked for help. Other characters are mainly caricatures such as a boy-crazy weird girl, a whole posse of look-alike mean girls, and a cute friendly jock.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to girls in grades 4 – 6 who have exhausted all other horror options.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries with a heavy demand for quirky, spooky stories.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in Fiction or with Horror in Genre Shelving

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: 7/3/15

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin

61pmdxFk+cL       Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin, Peachtree Publishers, (978-1561457915), 2015.

Format: Picture Book

Rating: 5 (starred review)

What did you like about the book? This is lovely story from which both adults and children can learn. How do flowers in a meadow or trees in a forest grow? We plant and cultivate our home gardens, but what about the wild garden? Through detailed watercolor pictures, readers are shown how seeds are carried by the wind, by animals, even on our clothes as we walk through fields and meadows. The drawings are precise and detailed, the kind readers return to pore over later because so much could be missed on the first reading. Even the end papers are filled with a variety of seeds, pine cones, fruits and flowers. The soft colors make this an ideal bedtime book, or a great book to be read before taking a walk outside. Readers may be able to spot many of the seeds, plants, and wildflowers shown. The animal drawings are particularly detailed and beautiful. We see predators stalking prey, but no carnage, as the rabbit escapes the fox, scattering seeds all the while. Overall, we learn how all the facets of nature work together, and where humans fit into the picture. A bibliography encourages further reading. Absolutely beautiful.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing. This one is a keeper.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read-alikes? This is a child’s book, but anyone who loves the outdoors will appreciate it. Pair it with Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston for a four-season experience, or And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano to celebrate gardens, both cultivated and wild. All three titles have a quietness about them, encouraging readers to slow down and look around them.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Juvenile picture books

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

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

Date of review: July 1, 2015

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

The Second Guard – J.D. Vaughn

51XRbeKht-L    The Second Guard – J.D. Vaughn, Disney Hyperion, (9781423169093), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  4

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?   In Tequende, second born children must serve in the army to ensure their country’s defense against warlike neighboring countries. Talimendra anticipates being trained in combat and hopes she will excel as her mother did before her. Though she misses her river trader family and their Sun Guild friends, she quickly befriends two boys, Zarif of the Moon Guild and Chey of the Earth Guild. Tali’s world view expands through her contact with the other young people and with the wise guidance of an elderly dove keeper who welcomes the three friends into his home for tea and discussion. When Tali discovers a traitorous conspiracy, she is determined to do the right thing, even though it goes against all her instincts to disobey orders. Featuring intricate world building, themes of confronting prejudice, surprising plot twists, and diverse characters, this fantasy stands well above the average.

Anything you didn’t like about it?   Slower scenes in the middle could have been cut without losing anything from the main story and would have increased the sense of urgency and drama.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to tweens who like fantasies with an emphasis on good friendships, tolerance for differences, and strong, capable females but who may not be quite ready for Tamora Pierce.

Who should buy this book?  Middle school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in Fiction or with Fantasy in Genre Shelving

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Near the top if you like fantasy and you serve tweens.

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

Date of review:  7/2/15

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Like a River: A Civil War Novel, by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

51kxKIYHWLL   Like a River: A Civil War Novel, by Kathy Cannon Wiechman, Calkins Creek, (9781629792095), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4

Genre:  Historical fiction

What did you like about the book? This book chronicles the lives of two young Union soldiers, Leander and Paul, during the Civil War. The author does an excellent job of making the two seem very human, and young readers should have no trouble relating to them. Paul harbors a secret which is revealed partway through the book which should surprise readers and definitely adds to the intrigue. Without being preachy, the book sends an excellent message about duty and honor. In addition, it clearly communicates the filth, disease and chaos of the Civil War. There are several plot twists and even a hint of romance, which should keep readers turning the pages, as well as a lengthy author’s note with photos at the end. This is especially helpful if readers want to know more about the Andersonville Prison and the tragic sinking of the steamboat Sultana, which claimed more lives than the sinking of the Titanic.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Despite short chapters and lots of action, the book’s pace was somewhat leisurely. I confess that I got impatient and skipped ahead to see what was going to happen before going back to read the middle chapters.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Read-alikes? Recommend this book to young adults and mature tween readers. If they like it, encourage them to try the 1958 Newbery medal winner Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith. It gives a similar realistic account of the Civil War through the eyes of a teenage soldier.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools, high schools and public libraries. Adult Civil War buffs might also enjoy giving this one a try. Homeschoolers studying the Civil War might appreciate it too.

Where would you shelve it ? I’d lean towards young adult fiction but it could also be shelved in middle grade fiction.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you are a lover of Civil War fiction. Otherwise, not necessarily.

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

Date of review: June 26, 2015

 

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Distance Between Lost and Found – Kathryn Holmes

3476342         The Distance Between Lost and Found – Kathryn Holmes, HarperTeen, (9780062317261), 2015

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5

Genre: Contemporary

What did you like about the book? Hallie (Hallelujah) Calhoun, a high school sophomore, has been victimized by a popular boy she thought she liked. She has gone from a happy girl who loves singing to being closed, morose, insular and untrusting. She has lost her friends and no one knows the true story of what happened with Luke. While on a church-sponsored hiking trip, she becomes lost with two others, unable to find a trail back to the campgrounds. This is a provocative story of survival, friendship, truth and much more.

What didn’t you like about the book? N/A

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend this to fans of Gayle Forman and Sara Zarr.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries and high schools

Where would you shelve it and why? YA fiction

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: 7/1/2015

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

Brain Camp written by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan; Artwork by Faith Erin Hicks. Color by Hilary Sycamore

2647040    Brain Camp written by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan. Artwork by Faith Erin Hicks. Color by Hilary Sycamore. Square Fish, (9781596433663), 2015. 

Format: Paperback

Rating: 5

Genre:  Fantasy/Science Fiction

What did you like about the book? Jenna and Lucas meet up at Brain Camp, a place where parents send their seemingly underachieving, loser kids. While at first they hate each other, a bond is forged when they discover a secret laboratory  in the woods. The story starts with teen angst and self-consciousness and moves into suspense and fabulous creepiness. Expressive graphics.

Anything you didn’t like about it?

To whom would you recommend this book?  Like Anya’s Ghost in that it combines cultural and supernatural elements.

Who should buy this book? Libraries serving middle schoolers

Where would you shelve it ? Children’s or Teen graphic novels

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: June 30, 2015

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

Maybelle in the Soup by Katie Speck. Illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos

81OoV1PhLYL    Maybelle in the Soup by Katie Speck, Illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos. Square Fish (Holt), (978-1250062758), 2015.

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Maybelle is a cockroach who loves food. Not satisfied with the crumbs left over by careless diners, she aches to taste food on the plate, as it was meant to be savored. However, being a cockroach, there are rules: 1. When it’s light, stay out of sight; 2. If you’re spied, better hide; 3. Never meet with human feet. Her friend Henry the flea tries to help Maybelle be sensible, but when Mrs. Peabody serves mock turtle soup, one thing leads to another and Maybelle finds herself in the soup! Short chapters make this a good choice for kids ready to move on from easy readers.

Anything you didn’t like about it?

To whom would you recommend this book?  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

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: June 29, 2015

Posted in Book Review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment