I Wonder by K.A.Holt, illustrated by Kenard Pak

 I Wonder by K.A.Holt, illustrated by Kenard Pak, Random House, 9781524714222, 2019

Format:  Hardcover picture book

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

Genre:  Realistic fiction

 What did you like about the book? A beautifully illustrated picture book full of various wonders such as “Do bubbles tickle everything they touch? Do windmills ever get tired? What do clouds taste like?”   The gentle rhythm of the questions encourages readers to ponder their own wonders.  The light and airy illustrations reflect the wonder on each page with diverse characters.  This is a book that is sure to spark conversation and exploration to find the answers to the questions!

Anything you did not like about the book? No

 To whom would you recommend this book?  All readers

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

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, for a gentle, quiet story

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Jennifer Brown, Newbury Elementary School, Newbury, MA

Date of review:  1/16/2020

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

Boxitects – written and illustrated by Kim Smith

  Boxitects – written and illustrated by Kim Smith, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328477200, 2020 

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

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Meg is a boxitect; she lives to make things out of cardboard. Having raised several boxitects myself, many things about this story rang true to me. Meg enjoys planning her creations and we’re shown all her tools (scissors, tape, paint and markers as well as an astonishing array of boxes. Mom sends Meg to Maker School (which looks like an after school program, populated by “blanketeers, spaghetti-tects, tin-foilers and egg-cartoners”) and everything goes well until another boxitect named Simone shows up. Competition ensues and almost ends in disaster, but the two girls manage to work out a compromise and, of course, build even better stuff. Meg and Simone are both girls of color and the whole Maker School looks like a diversity parade, although there are no children with disabilities. The cheerful and slick digital artwork contains lots of detail and texture and the book ends with some directions for beginning boxitects.

Anything you didn’t like about it? A final scene that shows the girls joining forces contains the caption “But they had a different way of making brilliant and creative things — working together” just seemed preachy and unnecessary. The artwork and story make this conclusion perfectly well. Also, in my experience, real boxitects will probably need to use a box cutter with adult assistance, not scissors.

To whom would you recommend this book?  A good book for teachers looking to encourage teamwork and compromise. Like Rosie Revere Engineer or The Most Magnificent Thing, this book could easily find its way into STEM curriculum.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, public libraries 

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

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

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 15, 2020

 

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Packs: Strength in Numbers – written and illustrated by Hannah Salyer

 Packs: Strength in Numbers – written and illustrated by Hannah Salyer,  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328577887, 2020 

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

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  This is Salyer’s first picture book and it’s great to see such a talented new artist. Her subject is animal packs and how various creatures utilize their numbers to execute winning behavioral strategies. We learn that many mongooses make a mob and that they sleep in a protective cluster. Wildebeest use their “numbers as a shield to keep predators at bay.” The illustrations alternate between colorful cut paper, colored pencils and acrylic paint (when focusing on herds) and a single animal in elegant blue gouache with obvious brushstrokes, always rendered in a consistent indigo blue. The recurring theme of strength in numbers ends with the proclamation (over a multi-ethnic, multi-aged group of humans) “All together…we are better!”  The book includes a numbered guide to all the animals in the book and a list for “Further Reading”, along with a message encouraging activism to fight climate change and habitat loss. Handsome endpapers open with a herd of indigo elephants and close with indigo human bike riders.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Some of the pack terms are important (corals are called and act like a colony) but no one really calls a group of flamingos a flamboyance; we just refer to them as a flock. The information presented felt slightly random. The bat section will give students useful info about echolocation, but I did not learn why American crocodiles nestle close together when they bask on river banks.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a nice picture book for younger children still being read to who’d like a few animal facts. If you are a Steve Jenkins’ fan (and who isn’t?) this book seems inspired by his work.

Who should buy this book? Elementary schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? It could go in nonfiction (591.5) or with picture books where it might be easier to discover. 

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No, but I’m eager to see her next book!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 15, 2019

 

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Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

91Wz-lk0PML._AC_UL320_ML3_Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller. Sourcebooks Fire, 2020. 9781492679226

Format: ARC

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? In the land of Demeine there are two kinds of magic: the midnight arts and the noonday arts. Emilie, from a wealthy family of standing, wants to study the the noonday arts and become a physician, so she can change the world. But, her parents forbid it and force her to learn the midnight arts. Annette, a girl from a poor family, feels that the magic of the midnight arts calls to her, but has no way to go to school to refine her innate skills of divining and scrying. Emilie convinces Annette to swap identities, so each can study the magic they love. So, in alternating chapters, each goes about their studies, with scrying to communicate. All this, while a guerrilla group named Laurel tries to overthrow the King, and the country goes to war. It was fun to see how the opposition group ends up meshing the lives of the two characters living separate lives. A well-imagined world, with richly drawn characters with much LGBTQ diversity. It was a new experience for me to read a story with gender fluid characters who use they/them pronouns.

Anything you didn’t like about it? At times my brain hurt from trying to keep Emilie and Annette’s two worlds straight, each of them at school with friends and teachers.

To whom would you recommend this book?  For ages 14+ who like high fantasy with plenty of LGBTQ diversity.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes if you’re a fantasy lover.

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

Date of review: January 16, 2020

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Donut Dreams: Hole in the Middle by Coco Simon

   Donut Dreams: Hole in the Middle by Coco Simon, Published by Simon Spotlight, 9781534460263, 2019

Format: Hardcover, 133 pages

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

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book? The large font and easy vocabulary would make this a hit with younger readers who wish to begin reading chapter books.  For those same reasons this would be a good choice for struggling readers who may be older. The plot is easy to follow with characters well laid out to avoid confusion.  The main character, Lindsay, is simple and the story progresses as one would predict. She deals with the loss of her mother and throughout the book talks about how that makes her feel.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The plot of this book is very simple.  The characters behave exactly as one would expect with little to liven up the story.  That being said, there is very little character development.  

To whom would you recommend this book? Readers in grades 3 and up who enjoy realistic fiction or stories about children who have lost a parent would like this book.  

Who should buy this book? This would be a good purchase for school or public libraries that cannot get enough simple chapter book for struggling readers.  

Where would you shelve it? Realistic Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  I feel that this title would reside near the bottom of a “to read” pile.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Elena Schuck, Nathaniel H. Wixon School Library, Dennis, Massachusetts

Date of review: January 14, 2020

 

Posted in *Book Review, Death, Early Chapter book, Realistic fiction, Reluctant Readers | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Call of the Osprey by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photographs by William Muñoz

 The Call of the Osprey by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photographs by William Muñoz, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780358105473, 2015 

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

Format: Paperback

What did you like about the book?  Another excellent entry in HMH’s series Scientists in the Field series. This one follows a group of scientists and photographers interested in the life cycle of the osprey. Many students will have wondered at the iconic nests precariously perched on telephone poles or power pylons; here’s a close-up look at the what ornithologists are doing to learn more about them. Dramatic photos from the bird-cams document nest-building, egg laying and hatching and flight school. Threats to the birds’ habitat and food supply are also examined and the book does a great job of documenting how scientists use data for their analysis and conclusions. As always, special attention is paid to the individual scientists and their passion for their subjects. Different fonts, headers and sidebars mix to create a dynamic but clear reading experience. An index and glossary are included.

Anything you didn’t like about it? This is a reprint of a 2015 book; I can’t help but wonder what has changed in the field of osprey research in the last 5 years. New tracking devices? New updates on the state of bird conservation? There’s no obvious section called “What’s new since we first published section…” but the links and websites listed in the “To learn more” section still function.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This book can be enjoyed on so many levels. The pictures are interesting enough to prompt close inspection by pre-readers and the information is sophisticated enough for adults who want to learn more. A whole collection of Scientists in the Field books would be useful for classes focusing on biomes and habitats.

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

Where would you shelve it? 598.9

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? For those with questions about ospreys, this is one-stop shopping!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 13, 2019

 

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Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Loveis Wise

 Say Her Name by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Loveis Wise, Jump at the Sun (an imprint of Disney Book Group), 9781368045247, 2020 

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

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Poetry

What did you like about the book?  This small hardcover book fit comfortably in my hand and measured just 5” x 7”. Elliott opens with a short essay about her experience teaching poetry to teenage girls and her desire to create poems celebrating black excellence. Although she doesn’t consider herself first and foremost a poet, there are many strong poems here, especially those that explore the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement. Although they’re often quite concrete, some strive for more abstract imagery, creating a collection that will work for readers at many different levels. I especially liked “Mermaids”, which laments women lost from slave ships, tossed overboard into nameless graves. The colorful digital artwork is just interesting enough, without distracting from the text. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? The poems dealing with serious topics were definitely the strongest. There’s also several poems preaching self-care that I found underwhelming. Although I liked the small size of the book, it almost looks more like an inspirational gift you’d pick up at the Paper Store. Also likely to get lost among bigger poetry books.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book seems just right for high school, especially high-low readers. It’s eye-catching and serious enough to earn attention. Some of the themes and language make it a better fit for older students. 

Who should buy this book? High schools, public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Poetry

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, if you’re looking for new poetry for teens.

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: January 15, 2019

 

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