The Book of What If…?: Questions and Activities for Curious Minds – Matt Murrie and Andrew R. McHugh

51bRgmQSZqL  The Book of What If…?: Questions and Activities for Curious Minds – Matt Murrie and Andrew R. McHugh, Simon & Schuster, (9781582705293), 2016.

 Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  4

What did you like about the book? In chapters of six pages or less, the authors pose nearly eighty thought-provoking questions, such as, “What if you could teleport?” and “What if dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct?” Though a notice on the back of the book says, “Warning! This book contains no answers,” the authors actually do use logic and quote experts to indicate how things would be different if the situation in the question existed. Text boxes provide short answers to the same questions by school children as well. There are four major sections: history, people, stuff, and nature. The colors aquamarine and gold are used throughout for the text, text boxes, and illustrations which appear to be computer-generated graphics. There are extensive footnotes and resources for readers curious to continue their exploration. The aim is to inspire “active curiosity” –  viewing the world around us with fresh eyes and thinking about what could be rather than just accepting what is. An admirable effort.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Though the cover uses colorful photos to draw in readers, the graphics inside are sparse and simple. More, better graphics would have been nice.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Upper elementary and middle school science teachers could use the questions to inspire students to think about the world around them and ELA teachers could use the questions as writing prompts. Recommend also to upper elementary and middle school students who like to question the assumptions of those around them.

Who should buy this book? Appropriate for purchase in elementary libraries, middle school libraries, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in 031.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Not necessary.

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

Date of review:  7/25/16

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Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven: How USA’s Gymnastics Team Won Olympic Gold … by Kaitlin Moore, illustrated by Michele Amatrula

51G7dV6i+yL   Kerri Strug and the Magnificent Seven: How USA’s Gymnastics Team Won Olympic Gold … (Totally True Adventures!) by Kaitlin Moore, illustrated by Michele Amatrula. Random, 2016. ISBN 9780553521740

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3

What did you like about the book? Kerri Strug was a gymnast who helped the United States women’s gymnastics team win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, the first time in history that the U.S. won gold in women’s gymnastics. The book describes Strug’s love of gymnastics from the age of 4, and how she struggled with her ambition to succeed while missing her family during her training. Strug trained with world-famous trainer Bela Karolyi in Houston, while her family stayed in Tucson. The book also describes the Olympic team’s dynamics and strategies. Includes Guide to Gymnastics Events, glossary and photographs.  This is non fiction in an early chapter book format.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The black and white illustrations are underwhelming. Contains only 4 photographs.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is for gymnastics aficionados, age 8-12.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Biography

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: July 24, 2016

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My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

51ThGv-7p+L    My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, HarperCollins, (9780062391742), 2016.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  5+

Genre:  Alternate History, Fantasy, Humor, Romance

What did you like about the book? Just before young King Edward died, he appointed his cousin, Lady Jane Grey as his successor. Jane ruled England for a total of nine days until Edward’s half-sister, Mary, staged a coup. Using these facts as a starting point, the authors (there are 3!) have set the action just prior to Edward’s death in an alternate England in which many people are able to transform into animals. (Jane discovers after her wedding that her new husband turns into a horse every morning.) Narration shifts between Edward, Jane, and Jane’s husband, Gifford, with plentiful humorous interjections from the authors. This highly entertaining blend of history, fantasy, humor, and romance will likely inspire readers to find out Jane’s true story which is, unfortunately, a lot less fun than the book’s version.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  In the initial chapters, it appears that Edward (who is narrating at that point) is fated to die a slow, painful death. Some readers may not want to stick around to suffer through that with him.

 To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to middle school and high school girls who would enjoy a witty, engaging story featuring strong female characters.

Who should buy this book? Appropriate for middle schools libraries, high school libraries, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with fantasy? Romance? Humor? Historical fiction? It could go almost anywhere, but it probably won’t spend much time on the shelves anyway.

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

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

Date of review:  7/24/16

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Lucy – Randy Cecil

51wz+GroqvL   Lucy – Randy Cecil, Candlewick, (9780763668082). 2016

Format:  Hardcover Picture book

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

What did you like about the book? Lucy is a little white dog who lives in a crate in an alleyway after having gotten lost while on a picnic with her former caregiver. Her former life was wonderful, full of good food and her favorite toy, a stuffed cat. Now she eats scraps and waits for a little girl to lower down food to her from an upper window in an apartment building. There is an aura to this story, uniqueness, an old-fashioned Parisian feeling with the illustrations all being in shades of black, grey and white.

Anything you didn’t like about it? A perfect book!

To whom would you recommend this book? This one would be best as a one-on-one with a child that likes a bit more substance and mystery in their picture books.

Who should buy this book? All public and elementary school libraries.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books, I think, though it is smaller in size than the usual and quite long. It is not quite a Juvenile 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: 7/23/2016

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This is not a picture book! – Sergio Ruzzier

81o7yVLn3qL  This is not a picture book! – Sergio Ruzzier, Chronicle Books, (9781452129075), 2016

Format:  Hardcover Picture books

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

What did you like about the book? A little creature that could be a young duck or even a chick has discovered a book with no pictures. Angry, she kicks it away but then feels bad, picks the book up and says, “I’m sorry, book.” Friend bug comes by and asks what it is. “It’s a book with no pictures.” “Wacky. Can you read it?” “I’m not sure. “The creature discovers that it does indeed, know some of the words and discovers the travels one can take with such a book, some are funny and some are sad, some are wild and some are peaceful – and they all “carry you away, they bring you home where they stay with you forever.”

Anything you didn’t like about it? Not a thing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend this one to kids learning to read but resisting it a bit.

Who should buy this book? All public 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.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

Date of review: 7/23/2016

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Gorillas Up Close – Christena Nippert-Eng, photographs by John Dominski and Miguel Martinez

51HcrbnM2bL  Gorillas Up Close – Christena Nippert-Eng, photographs by John Dominski and Miguel Martinez, Macmillan, (9781627790918), 2016.

Format: Hardcover

 Rating: 1-5:  5

What did you like about the book?  This excellent non-fiction offering conveys an astounding amount of information, mainly about gorillas in zoos but also in the wild. It is well structured to hold interest in over forty short chapters of ten pages or less and brimming with photos each more appealing than the last. Readers will become familiar with gorillas’ personalities, their habits, and their family relationships. Anecdotes about specific gorillas personalize them and show how each gorilla in a modern zoo is part of a carefully orchestrated effort to make sure gorillas in captivity are kept healthy and happy. The author, a sociologist and college professor, states that the book was created as part of one of her college classes where students observe, record data, and communicate what they see with the goal of suggesting improved design concepts to the zoos. The book was created using a total team of six contributing students plus Nippert-Eng which helps to explain how it obtained its breadth of photos, information, and insight.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? Recommend to middle school students interested in gorillas for reports or for browsing.

Who should buy this book?  This would be an excellent addition to the non-fiction animal section in middle school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with other books about gorillas in 599.884.

 Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you are interested in the topic.
 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
 Date of review:  7/24/16
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MARTians by Blythe Woolston

41k7KOXu13L  MARTians by Blythe Woolston. Candlewick, 2015.  9780763677565

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 4.5

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Zoe Zindelman is the last girl, and she has just graduated to the prospects of employment at one of two mega-stores that supply all consumer products. In this dystopian future, there are few jobs, government is crap and the land has turned to dust. Zoe teams up with other parentless and homeless teens and they try to be the family they don’t have. With black humor and unexpected twists, the author presents us with an unbearable future in which young people have to wrest a living from the ruins of their parents’ world.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Teens who liked M.T. Anderson’s Feed  or Anna Smaill’s The Chimes (adult fiction, but a crossover) would like this.

Who should buy this book? Public and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Teen fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? If you like dystopian fiction, it’s chilling and funny.

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

Date of review: July 23, 2016

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