The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

71vrkbisyol  The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Atheneum, 2017.  9781481400701

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book?  When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963, nine-year old Audrey Faye Hendricks was listening. King urged the parishioners at her church to disobey the unjust laws of segregation. He told folks to get arrested for standing up for their rights, and to fill the jails with so many people that the laws would have to change. But people were worried about their jobs, their homes, their safety. Instead, Audrey and hundreds of children protested and marched. Audrey was the youngest. This picture book describes The Children’s March, where more than 3,000 children were arrested that May in Birmingham. It describes Audrey’s courage during her seven days in jail, and her joy when segregation laws were repealed.  The text includes what a child would remember – the favorite foods, missing school for the march, how it was to sleep in a cold jail cell – juxtaposed with the cruel reality of segregation. Using warm, bright colors and collage, the illustrator captures the feel of a 1960’s childhood and perfectly complements the text. This excellent treatment of the March delivers the grim facts of segregation while supplying the gratifying outcome of activism to right wrongs, and in a way children can understand.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Pair this with Coles’s The Story of Ruby Bridges to talk about children during the Civil Rights Movement.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Non fiction 323 or biography

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: February 24, 2017

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Five Days of Famous – Alyson Noël

51mkspbmqql  Five Days of Famous – Alyson Noël, Delacorte Press, (9780553537963), 2016.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2

Genre:  Realistic, Fantasy, Holiday, Christmas

What did you like about the book? Middle schooler Nick Dashaway feels he is destined for better things than his current loser status. For Nick’s upcoming birthday on Christmas Day, one of his two best friends, Plum, gives him an early present, a cupcake that will grant his heart’s desire. Though skeptical, Nick wishes for “a better, much cooler life” whereupon he is delivered by a crazy Christmas decorated bus to an alternate universe in which he is a rich, famous pop star. All his friends and family are still in his life, but they now fit Nick’s definition of “better” versions of themselves. Nick has five days to decide whether to keep this version of reality or return to his original life. It takes Nick awhile, but he discovers how much he misses his true family and friends.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  This derivative of It’s a Wonderful Life” fell flat for several reasons, the biggest being that Nick is not likeable the way George Bailey is. In addition, the other characters were hard to keep straight because none of them had much real personality.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of Alyson Noël’s previous books might enjoy this one as well.

Read-alikes: For a more realistic middle grade Christmas book, aim readers towards the fourth book in Naylor’s Shiloh Quartet, A Shiloh Christmas.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries with a healthy budget looking for more middle grade books with a Christmas setting.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in Fiction or in Fantasy if you have 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:  2/24/17

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Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A. Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker

61artbrcsxl    Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay A. Haring, illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Dial, 2017. 9780525428190

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? This biography is clearly a labor of love, and is written by Keith Haring’s younger sister. She describes how drawing was always a part of Keith’s life, from early childhood at home drawing with his father, through elementary school doodling on homework and as a teenager, listening to music and drawing with materials he purchased after selling his bicycle. It is interesting to learn that Keith considered his art to be for the people, finding ways to interact with children and the public whenever he could. Neubecker’s vibrant art, created with a Mac and a pencil, uses images of Keith’s artwork, and perfectly channels the 1980’s. Keith’s iconic black and white doodles grace the endpapers. Back matter includes an author’s note, additional biographical information, and reproductions of Keith’s artwork.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a fine biography to enjoy for inspiration or for schoolwork.

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

Where would you shelve it ? Biography

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: February 23, 2017

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Detective Gordon: A Case in Any Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee

51wlxn-f9l  Detective Gordon: A Case in Any Case by Ulf Nilsson, illustrated by Gitte Spee. Translated by Julia Marshall. Gecko Press, 2017. 9781776571086

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:   Mystery

What did you like about the book? Buffy, a shy mouse, is acting Chief of Police, while her mentor, Gordon, is the semi-retired toad who previously held that office. Several mysteries present themselves in this gentle short chapter book. I like that these two friends are girl and man, young and old, and different animals, although they share the love of cake and solving mysteries. Gentle humor will make kids smile: when Buffy first hears noises at night, she thinks she should call the police. Then she remembers: she was the police! The two also share a secret language when they need to talk without being understood, the A language: (“A little awkward but it worked pretty well.) For instance: “A hapa thay havant baan aatan ap.” Awkward, in that they usually can’t even understand each other when speaking it! The drawings are done with misty greens and other colors evoking the fields and forests of the animals’ home, and with their affectionate portrayal of the animals, really make this story a winner.

Anything you didn’t like about it? There were a few instances of awkward translation, but I don’t think it would bother a child.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is for readers newly confident with longer chapter books such as Owl Diaries, Princess in Black or Claude. Anyone who liked Frog and Toad as a younger reader will enjoy this.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? 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: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: February 22, 2017

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See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

51urxb6ekdl See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2017,  978-0-399-18637-0

Format:  hardcover

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

Genre: realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Eleven-year-old Alex is a richly-drawn, sympathetic main character.  He cares for himself and his mother, who suffers from mental illness, and is determined to travel from his home in Colorado to a rocket festival in New Mexico.  The book is told through a series of recordings Alex is making on an iPod which he hopes to launch into space.  Throughout his trip, Alex relies on the kindness of strangers, many of whom become friends.  The adults are interesting characters too, flawed yet almost universally kind-hearted, wanting to do the right thing but not always sure what the right thing is.  This book delves deeply into the concept of family, and how the bonds that hold people together can be strong in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances.  At times, readers will laugh, and at others they will want to cry. This is an outstanding novel.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about this book.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend this book to mature middle-grade readers as well as to younger young adults. Adults will appreciate it too. Read Alikes? Also recommend Nest by Esther Ehrlich and Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries will want to purchase this book.

Where would you shelve it ?  Middle grade fiction or young adult fiction, depending on the collection.

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

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

Date of review: February 23, 2017

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The Land of Nod – by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter

51tqluubcl   The Land of Nod – by Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Hunter, Flying Eye Books, 9781911171041, 2017

Format: hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? The Land of Nod is taken from Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry collection, A Child’s Garden of Verses from 1885. This remake is a wonderful way for children to experience the beauty of the poem. The illustrator, Robert Hunter, has drawn the illustrations in an ethereal manner with pinks and blues that feel other-worldly. The pictures show a little boy who is recovering from a broken leg in bed and how he is able to escape to the fantasy Land of Nod by night. Not only is this a wonderful bedtime story, but it is also a great book to give to a child who is bedridden. The back page has the words “get well soon” written on a note.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I liked everything about the book.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? Children ages 3-6 will understand the fantasy and the ideas of dreams. Great present for a bedridden child.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries with children’s rooms.

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: Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Date of review: Feb. 21, 2017

 

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Peter and Lotta’s Adventure – by Elsa Beskow

51mgdny5tel Peter and Lotta’s Adventure – by Elsa Beskow, Floris Books U.K., 9781782503033, 2016

Format: hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? This book was first published in Sweden in 1929. The illustrations and story are reminiscent of the olden days. Children will immediately this story is from times past and also takes place in a country other than the U.S. Because of the otherworldliness of the story, it reads like a fairy tale. Two children have to give away a kitten and because they remembered their uncle saying that if you do something good for someone who is mean, they might turn good, they decide to give the kitten to an old washer woman. The story gets complicated as they try to get home from the washer woman’s house. A happy ending brings them home.

Anything you didn’t like about it? As in the Flika, Dika and Rika books, there is a moral of the story. Unfortunately the adventures they had trying to get back to their house were scary and I’m not sure a sensitive kid would be ok with the images, they go swimming in a pond and an old lady takes their clothes, so when a woodcutter finds them, they have to walk back to his house naked to get some clothes. They find a chimney sweep in the forest who directs them home, and of course they go the wrong way. The two little blond children come across this man alone in the forest who is covered in soot, and the imagery can be construed as racist.

To Whom Would You Recommend this book? This book reminds me of the Flika, Dika and Rika books from Sweden, from the illustrations to the story. This is a longish book with a complicated story so very young children will have a hard time sitting for the story. Ages 4-7 would enjoy it.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries with children’s rooms.

Where would you shelve it ? picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  It’s a classic, but not sure I like it.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Sandra Pacheco, ESL teacher, Washington, D.C.

Date of review: Feb. 21, 2017

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