The Dreamer written and illustrated by Il Sung Na

31ceVSAbzwL._AC_US218_The Dreamer written and illustrated by Il Sung Na. Chronicle, 9781452156088, 2018.

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? Beautiful soft but expressive brushwork tells the story of a pig who longs to fly. The illustrator skillfully mixes perspectives: a close-up as large Pig ponders possible solutions followed by very small Pig, hands on hips as he studies a huge blackboard covered with scrawled equations. Through a series of trial and errors, soliciting ideas from friends and showing some mighty grit, Pig finally realizes his dream.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It’s very message-y. I can imagine it being used in school to teach problem solving, but I’m not sure it would be an obvious favorite with kids. The art is definitely stronger than the story telling. Some of the vocabulary seems forced (Pig’s “hope blossomed”; “modified” and “momentum” also make appearances.)

To whom would you recommend this book?  The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is more fun and suspenseful and covers similar ground. Also, I just read After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat and thought it was wonderful. Spoiler alert: Humpty also wants to fly and I got a genuine lump in my throat reading about his efforts. Not so with the pig.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries. Could be a replacement for Oh, the Places You’ll Go as a well-meaning graduation gift that will get looked at briefly before being left in one’s childhood bedroom.

Where would you shelve it ? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No, but the art is really nice.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: November 15, 2018

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Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with Tonya Bolden

Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 51w3Oyz2ovL._AC_US218_with Tonya Bolden. Scholastic Focus, 9781338262049, 2019.

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? Dr. Gates relates a story of Reconstruction that will be unfamiliar to many readers, used to the cursory treatment they got in U.S. history classes.  His distinctive voice permeates the book, mixing clear, accessible scholarly prose with more informal asides. Powerful, short and poetic sentences occasionally punctuate the text, never downplaying the horrors of enslavement or racism ( “Once again, black families were torn asunder. Once again, black labor was stolen.”) The book design is fantastic (I’m thinking this was Bolden’s contribution), mixing sidebars filled with timelines, quotes and images, all of very high quality.

Anything you didn’t like about it? My review copy was small, about 5” x 8”; I don’t know if that will be the size of the hardcover edition. I did miss the large size that Tonya Bolden often utilizes, although the reproductions in this book are excellent.

To whom would you recommend this book? Bolden’s Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty (2013) and Cause: Reconstruction America 1863-1877 (2014) cover much of this information but even though the presentation has much in common, Gate’s cadence lends urgency and outrage to the mix.

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

Where would you shelve it ? 973.8

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes. In light of current questioning of the 14th amendment (birthright citizenship) we should all be brushing up on Reconstruction history.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: November 15, 2018

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A First Book of the Sea – Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton

A First Book of the Sea – Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton, Candlewick Press, (9780763698829), 2018.

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Poetry

What did you like about the book? As usual, Davies incorporates a sense of wonder and appreciation for nature into poems that are simple enough for children to understand, but substantive enough to convey complex insights and meditations. Surprisingly extensive for a “first book”, over one hundred pages of short poems are divided into four thematic sections that focus on the seashore, ocean journeys, deep-sea, and wonders. Near the end, a double set of bi-fold pages first reveals hundreds of small plankton with their poem, then opens dramatically large to reveal the giant humpback whale that feeds on the tiny plants and animals. The last poem, “Happiness”, sums up a day by the ocean, “Sand in my shoes. / Salt in my hair. / A pebble in my pocket. / The horizon in my eyes.” Sutton’s gentle pastel watercolor drawings perfectly illustrate the poems.

Anything you didn’t like about it?   No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommended for reading aloud to toddlers through kindergarten and reading on their own for grades 1 – 2.

Who should buy this book? Preschools, elementary libraries, elementary classrooms, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with Poetry in 811.

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

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

Date of review:  11/16/18

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Princess Pistachio Treasury – Marie Louise Gay

 Princess Pistachio Treasury – Marie Louise Gay, pajama press, (9781772780482), 2018 (previously published as individual stories in 2014, 2015 and 2017)

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Humor

 What did you like about the book? I love the illustrations of Marie-Louise Gay and I also love the pistachio stories.  This is a treasury containing three: Princess Pistachio, Princess Pistachio and the Pest and Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent.  Pistachio is convinced that she is a real princess but has been stolen away from her real King and Queen parents and left on the doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Shoelace.  When she mysteriously receives a crown for her birthday, she knows it is true and tries to convince everyone else.  She has a great little spotted dog and a little girl, Penny, who claims to be her sister.  The illustrations created in India ink, watercolor, ink and colored pencils are a total delight.

Anything you did not like about the book.  Not a thing.

 To whom would you recommend this book? Give this to fans of Marie-Louise Gay and Pistachio. Could also be a fun read aloud to kindergarteners.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?Perhaps not, but very fun.

Reviewer:  Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  11/16/2018

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Blended by Sharon M. Draper

  Blended by Sharon M. Draper, Atheneum, 9781442495005, 2018

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? It’s a promising set-up. Isabella is blended (biracial) and from a blended family, although the latter part is not working out so well. Tensions are high as she spends one week with her white mom, a Waffle House waitress, and the next with her black father, a prominent banker. The common thread in both families is nurturing and supporting Isabella’s love for the piano (get it? Ebony and ivory.) I loved the part where she tells her mom that she identifies as black and mom supports her. The heartbreak over divorce and the tension between custodial parents seemed genuine and will strike a chord with tween readers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I loved Out of My Mind and had high hopes for this book. I think readers will enjoy it, but I thought there was way too much plot. A racist bullying incident at school midway through the book pulls attention away from Isabella and after that, more plot points begin to pile up: [spoiler alert] twin weddings, a perfect new stepbrother applying to Harvard, a The-Hate-You-Give moment…

To whom would you recommend this book? Tween readers not ready for T-H-U-G. Fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan, Ali Benjamin, Veera Hiranandani and Cynthia Lord.

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle school and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it ? Tween novels. It’s not YA.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No. If you’ve loved Draper’s other works, you’ll get around to it, but it’s not as memorable as her earlier books..

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: November 15, 2018

 

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Lu by Jason Reynolds

  Lu by Jason Reynolds, Atheneum, 9781481450249, 2018

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Realistic or sports fiction

What did you like about the book? This is the last in Reynold’s quartet Track series and focuses on Lu, who was born to be co-captain of the defenders team, oh, and also born albino. There’s just enough track training, lingo and drama to make the book interesting to sports fans, but Reynolds leaves time to focus on the real-life hurdles Lu faces: a dad who loves him but has spent time in jail for dealing drugs and the news that he’s no longer going to be an only child. I liked the focus on family and Lu’s closeness to both parents. I also enjoyed the easy camaraderie of the team and their respect for their demanding coach. I haven’t read any of the other Track books but have now added them to my shortlist! Even though there are serious moments in the book, Reynolds manages to capture a lot of the humor and goofiness of the Defenders’ friendships.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I think it would have been better to read the other books first, at least Ghost (the first one). I was initially confused by some of the characters’ back stories.

To whom would you recommend this book?  If you have kids that just won’t get off  the Jake Maddox books, these could be the ticket to tempting them to try something new. Also recommended for Lupica fans.

Who should buy this book? Middle and public school libraries. Good for high-low readers or young readers above grade level.

Where would you shelve it ? YA fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you enjoyed the others, you’ll want to read this one.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: November 15, 2018

 

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The Darkest Legacy – by Alexandra Bracken

 The Darkest Legacy – by Alexandra Bracken, Disney Hyperion, 2018. 9781368023245.

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Dystopia/Sci-Fi

What did you like about the book? Five years after the closing and destruction of the “rehabilitation camps” that held Psi children in captivity, Suzume is working as the Psi face of the government, reassuring the public that policies are moving forward and the country is safe. Suzume, or Zu, was the youngest member in her group of friends that fought against a corrupt government, and now at seventeen years old, she feels like she can finally do her part to change the world that hurt her generation so badly. When an attack occurs and blame is placed on Zu, she is forced to go on the run with two Psi kids that she doesn’t know, and knows that she shouldn’t trust. As more evidence of government corruption and horrible acts against Psi children come to light, Zu must find the strength in herself to rise up and fight against the hate she encounters to save both her friends and others like her in order to build the future she believes in.

So, I loved the Darkest Minds series, and I have to say that this latest chapter is a stunning addition to the story. Zu was always an intriguing character, and it is wonderful to have her story told. While we get to see beloved characters from the previous books, this exciting thriller focuses on how the events from the Darkest Minds series have affected Zu and how she must learn to embrace her Psi powers and the personal strength she can use to fight alongside her friends. This story has a bit more adult language than the previous books, just as a head’s up. But if you loved the Darkest Minds series, you will love The Darkest Legacy.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nope

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend this book to anyone who has previously read the Darkest Mind series. You could read it as a standalone, but it would make infinitely more sense if you read it after the others.

Who should buy this book? High Schools and Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it ? YA Fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Emily Tricco, Goodnow Library, Sudbury, MA

Date of review: 11/15/18

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