The Winter Fox – Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Rebecca Harry

  The Winter Fox – Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Rebecca Harry, Nosy Crow, (9780763696313), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  This enchanting winter story’s cover will catch the reader’s eye with it’s silver metallic accents.  As in the classic Aesop fable The Ant and the Grasshopper, Fox is busy having lots of summer fun and doesn’t listen to warnings of his friends that he needs to prepare for winter.  Rabbit tries to show him how to build a cozy home, Owl offers to help him make a warm bed and Squirrel invites him to store away food for the winter.  Winter arrives and Fox is cold and hungry.  Fox makes a wish on a star and a silver wrapped package magically falls from the sky.  Readers will see the silhouette of Santa and his sleigh in the night sky.  Fox shares the gifts with his friends and they all enjoy a fun day in the snow.  As evening falls, Fox’s friends help him make a cozy home with a warm bed and a stack of leftovers.  The illustrations of acrylic with generous highlights of silver metallic foil capture the forest setting and the magic of winter.  The color palette perfectly conveys the change of season from summer to fall to winter.  This is a  sweet twist on the Aesop fable with a hint of Christmas spirit added along with the pretty silver accents.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a nice addition to stories about the seasons.  It could also be added to holiday story collections.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  10/21/17             

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Apex – Mercedes Lackey

       Apex (Hunter #3) – Mercedes Lackey, Hyperion, (9781484707869), 2017.

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Fantasy / Science fiction

What did you like about the book?

In this third and final book in the Hunter series, veteran writer Lackey continues her successful blend of fantasy (elves, magical dogs) and science fiction (psions, alternate universes). Though Joyeaux Charmand and the other Elite suspect a conspiracy exists to explain the increasingly coordinated attacks by the Othersiders, their efforts to uncover it are stymied until it’s almost too late. Joy may still think of herself as an unsophisticated ‘turnip’, but it is frequently her strategies and ideas that give the Hunters an edge in the battles. When all seems lost, a deus ex machina intervention allows the story arc to end on a positive note, though astute readers will be pleased to notice several developments that leave the door open to further adventures. A satisfying ending to an enjoyable trilogy featuring an admirable heroine.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  It’s a must-have for middle and high school collections where the previous two volumes are popular.

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

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with fantasy or science fiction.  

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Only if you have been reading the series.

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

Date of review:  10/21/17

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Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

     Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani, First Second, 2017. 9781626720879

Format: Paperback

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Pri lives with her Mom in California, but India is the elephant in the room that her mother never speaks of. Pri desperately wants information about her dad and her mom’s life in India before she moved to the U.S. and had Pri. When Pri finds a beautiful hand embroidered pashmina shawl, she finds herself magically transported to the lush happy India of her dreams whenever she wraps herself in it. There are talking animals, delicious sweets and the beneficent goddess Shakti, but also a lurking shadowy figure. Finally, Pri travels to India and finds the answer to her questions. I love the juxtaposition of the everyday nature of high school and working class life, with the beautiful fantasy of her magical adventures. Normal life is portrayed in black and white; her adventures are in gorgeous deep colors. Although Pri is 16-ish, her story of self discovery will resonate with older elementary school kids as well as teen readers.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would offer this to older elementary school kids who liked Telgemeier’s graphic novels.

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

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic fiction, children’s or teen

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: October 201, 2017

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Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

 Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Random House, 2017. 9780375974298

Format: Hardcover

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

What did you like about the book? A kid-friendly biography about how Seuss came to write The Cat in the Hat. Sierra explains how easy-to-read books in the 1950’s were really boring, and that kids were not interested in picking them up. She shows the challenge of the limited vocabulary that could be used in an easy reader, and describes Seuss’s writing style and challenges. Seuss was already an established writer, and yet he still found it difficult to write an exciting book with such a limited range of words. I like that parts of the book use Seuss-like rhyming, which should be familiar to most kids. Familiar characters from his easy readers inhabit the illustrations, which are whimsical and entertaining. Hawkes portrays Seuss with freshness and affection, and Sierra manages to make what may seem like a footnote in publishing history, relevant to our times. Back matter includes Dr. Seuss’s writing tips, author and illustrator notes and a list of all books written by Dr. Seuss.

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a great book to share with 1st and 2nd graders as they start to write their own stories.

Who should buy this book? Elementary 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: October 20, 2017

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The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo

    The Night Before Christmas – Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo, Little Simon, (9781534400856), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  Moore’s classic poem comes to life through lush digital paintings and a contemporary setting.  The illustrations are filled with the glow of Christmas tree lights and moonlight.  Santa appears wearing his traditional suit and red high top sneakers for a fun change. The full double page spreads are full of color and detail that capture the magic of the holidays.  This would is a nice additional purchase for libraries that have a large demand for holiday stories.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is one to hand to someone looking for a new version of the classic tale with a modern setting.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Holiday Picture Books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review:  10/20/17             

 

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Merry Christmas From the Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

    Merry Christmas From the Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle, Grosset and Dunlap, (9781524784249), 2017

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  Characters from many of Eric Carle’s books join in this celebration of Christmas. Eric Carle fans will notice that The Very Hungry Caterpillar is joined by characters from Papa, Please get the Moon for Me, The Secret Birthday Message, Walter the Baker and Dream Snow.  Simple text tells of the joys of the season: “Christmas is a time…of sparkle and shine. We give gifts of love and receive them with joy.”  Carle’s trademark illustrations perfectly complement the sentiments of the story. This is a small-sized picture book that will fit well in small hands.  This is a sweet and simple holiday story for children.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book? A nice holiday title for Eric Carle fans.  

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Holiday Picture Books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Catherine Coyne, Mansfield Public Library, Mansfield, MA

Date of review: 10/20/17             

 

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Mr. 60% – Clete Barrett Smith

   Mr. 60% – Clete Barrett Smith, Crown Books for Young Readers, (9780553534672), 2017

Hardcover:

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

Genre:  Young Adult Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book? Mr. 60% tells the story of Matt, a high school senior.  His guidance counselor sees him going nowhere, the school’s administration can’t wait to get rid of him, and the kids at school only pal up to him as a means of scoring their next high.  Matt puts in just enough effort at school to pass every class, but not excel.  What no one knows about Matt is that he is putting in 100% to keep himself and his Uncle Jack alive and housed.  

Smith has created compelling characters in Matt and Amanda.  Their sadnesses and struggles are believable, as are the strategies they employ to try to fix things.  This is an excellent read on its own, but the story also reminds the reader to look beyond appearances and think about what might make someone behave as they do.  What circumstances are they dealing with that you cannot see?  What could make someone do things they shouldn’t?  And, is it possible for us to compassionately help one another?

Despite some bullying and drug references, this is a fairly tame story and would be suitable for young teens.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Smith’s depiction of the world of drug dealing and smuggling is too tame.  Young readers may get the wrong impression regarding how dangerous it is to transport illegal drugs.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Highly recommended for high school and public libraries, teachers looking for a classroom novel, readers age 12 and up.

Who should buy this book? High Schools, Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it ? YA

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Date of review: 19 October 2017

 

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