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

 

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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

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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

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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

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Box of Mixed Emotions – Brittany Candau, Illustrated by Jerrod Maruymara

715tm2-ybUL    Box of Mixed Emotions – Brittany Candau, Illustrated by Jerrod Maruymara, Published by Disney Press, (978-1484716717), 2015

Format: Picture Book

Rating: 3

What did I like about these books?   This boxed set has one book for each emotion: joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear. I think the author gave examples of what can be the source of emotions such as being joyful when it is sunny or rainy, and the pictures match the text.

What didn’t you like about these books?   I think the examples were not universal in being the source of an emotion, for example hating to sleep outside being disgusting, or being angry because there is broccoli on a pizza. Perhaps these were meant to only identify emotions, but it seems that the books were talking down to children who may already have examples in their lives. The author never gives ways to manage difficult emotions which may be very important for children to learn too.

To Whom would you recommend these books?   Maybe these books could be the beginning of a discussion in a preschool or kindergarten class with follow-up activities that would benefit children.

Who should buy this book?  Preschools and Day Care centers and homes.

Where would you shelve it?  Early Childhood materials

Should we put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer: Denise Hanley, Gardner, MA

Date of Review: 6/30/15

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Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr, (translated from Norwegian by Guy Puzey), Illustrated by Kate Forrester

61Weab6tiCL     Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr, (translated from Norwegian by Guy Puzey), Illustrated by Kate Forrester, Candlewick, (978-0763672812), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4.5

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Trille and his friend Lena have non-stop adventures in their hamlet of Mathildewick Cove. Trille is the shy one, and Lena is his daring counterpart in the friends’ escapades. The charming setting in a coastal fjord town in Norway provides a distinct sense of place. Family and friends are close by and are a source of comfort.  Auntie Granny provides the waffles. Perfect as an early chapter book or read-aloud.

Anything you didn’t like about it?

To whom would you recommend this book?  Reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking. For kids who like a look at kids in other cultures.

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? yes

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

Date of review:  June 29, 2015.

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Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

 51xpRxPJ1aL    Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard, Disney Hyperion, (9781484708330), 2015.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 5 (starred review)

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? I like this book because the characters are multi-faceted and the story is unique. After years of being homeschooled, sixth-grader Jory is sent to public school and begins to learn about the outside world for the first time. He lives with family on the outskirts of town and the outskirts of society, largely because of his stepfather, Caleb. Caleb is suspicious of the government, his neighbors, and just about everyone else. He sees signs in random events and makes the whole family dig an enormous pit in the canyon behind their house under the cover of night. But he is also kind, and makes Jory and his fragile mother feel safe, at least initially. He is a former soldier, probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness, which contribute to his paranoia. As the book progresses, Jory finds himself increasingly at odds with the constraints Caleb places on the family, and also drawn increasingly into the outside world and all its possibilities. Caleb’s character is extremely interesting because, although he is clearly misguided, he loves his family and is trying to provide for them and protect them.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I had been hesitant to read this because the plot sounded so grim, but the story really shines in spite of its serious themes. I loved it.

To whom would you recommend this book? Read-alikes? I would recommend this book to mature middle-grade readers due to its weighty subject matter. It might be interesting when paired with Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Readers who want to read more about a parent with mental illness might also enjoy the beautiful and heart-breaking Nest by Esther Ehrlich.

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

Where would you shelve it ? Middle grade or young adult fiction

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: June 24, 2015

 

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