I’M MY OWN DOG – David Ezra Stein

61ca273cwnl    I’M MY OWN DOG – David Ezra Stein, Candlewick Press, 9780763661397, 2014

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? Many authors focus on the dominant master-dog interaction, but this book turns it around, exploring the dog-master relationship.  The dog is in charge, teaching the owner how to use a leash, sit, etc. Similar in theory to the bumper sticker “My dog rescued me”, the mutual friendship is sweet and very satisfying from both the dog and the master’s  perspectives. The artwork is charming, very expressive with warm colors. This was a welcome relief from typical dog series, i.e. Clifford, etc.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Preschool, day care center and elementary librarians. Animal lovers, parents and grandparents that enjoy a humorous child book!

Who should buy this book? Pre-school, day care centers, elementary school libraries, parents and animal loving families

Where would you shelve it ? Children’s 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: Diane Neylon, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 

Date of review: 1/18/2017

 

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Who’s Ready to Play? and lots of other questions – Anton Poitier, Illustrated by Tracy Cottingham

41ftgksgasl Who’s Ready to Play? and lots of other questions – Anton Poitier, Illustrated by Tracy Cottingham, Kane Miller, A Division of EDC Publishing;  9781610674621, 2015

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: picture book

What did you like about the book? The 24 colorful animals, consistently replicated on each page, with slight variations and posed questions, makes for a very interactive experience. I read it with a 4-year-old who was captivated to find the questionable animal to answer the question. It has the quality of a “Search Waldo type book” but involves more interaction, language, reasoning and classifications.  It can be read multiple times to amuse and entertain.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I thought it was repetitive and boring, but my pre-reader loved it!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Pre-school children, who are able to focus on details, practice pre-reading skills, classifications and vocabulary enrichment.

Who should buy this book? Pre-school and elementary school librarians, parents and grandparents looking for a fun animal book to share with young children.

Where would you shelve it ?  Children’s picture books

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:Diane Neylon, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

Date of review: 1/18/2017

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Teddy & Co. – Cynthia Voigt, illustrations by Paola Zakimi

51snemxrll   Teddy & Co. – Cynthia Voigt, illustrations by Paola Zakimi, Alfred A. Knopf, (9780553511604), 2016

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book?  A group of toys live together on an island and have little adventures.  Teddy, a bear without legs, is pushed about in a red wagon and is the group’s philosopher, always wondering things.  The other toys are an elephant named Umpah, who loves to bake muffins, a snake named Sid, who is always hungry, a wooden penguin named Peng, who prefers to be alone, and two little pigs, Zia, who is bright fuchsia and motherly and Prinny, a little blue pig with white and gold flowers who is full of enthusiasm.  These six friends have picnics, go swimming, explore the island and play games.  Their little community is changed with the arrival of Mr. B, a floppy bunny who likes to move in and out of homes and a large doll named Clara, who fancies herself a queen.  Will these two newcomers fit in or upset the balance of friendship?  The full-page pencil illustrations perfectly complement the quiet tale and bring the characters to life.  This is a gentle tale of friendship with a nostalgic feel.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Hand this to parents looking for a gentle bedtime read aloud.  Children who enjoy A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh series and Emily Jenkins Toys series will enjoy this new group of stiffed animals and their adventures.

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

Where would you shelve it?   Fiction

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: 1/17/17             

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Oddly Normal – written and illustrated by Otis Frampton

51lyiiclqyl            Oddly Normal – (Book 3) written and illustrated by Otis Frampton, Image Comics, 2016. ISBN 9781632156921

Format: Paperback

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

Genre:  Fantasy

What did you like about the book? Oddly, who is the daughter of a witch and a human, is still in Fig Nation after wishing in a moment of pique for her parents to disappear (in Book 1). After one of her classmate tormentors challenges her to a race through Snake-Bite Canyon, Oddly’s pals help her fashion a racing broom. Teacher Gooseberry’s motives become clearer. I love this plucky girl trying to figure out who she is and what her powers are. She is absolutely not limited by her gender; for her it’s her half-witch status that is the problem.  Her pals are a variety of colors, creatures and genders. This installment relies a lot on the previous books to set the stage for the reader, so I don’t think it can stand alone.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Readers will need to read the previous books to get the gist of why Oddly is in Fig Nation and what happened to her parents.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Fans of Deutch’s Hereville and Cammuso’s The Misadventures of Salem Hyde will enjoy this.

Who should buy this book? Middle school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novels

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: January 15, 2017

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Saving Red – Sonya Sones

91nd2docvll Saving Red – Sonya Sones, HarperTeen, (9780062370280), 2016.

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:  Novel in verse, Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book?  While taking a census of homeless people in her hometown (Santa Monica) to fulfill a community service requirement for school, Molly notices a red-haired homeless girl only a few years older than her and feels compelled to connect with her. In fact, Molly sets the unlikely goal of reuniting the girl, Red, with her family before Christmas – in ten days. Meanwhile, Molly’s family is falling apart, unable to deal with the disappearance of Molly’s brother with PTSD over a year ago. It’s not all gloom and doom as Molly’s faithful service dog, Pixel, lightens many scenes, and Molly experiences first love when she meets a wonderful boy, Cristo. Sonya Sones has a way of grabbing readers with her first sentence and keeping them engaged until the end, and this captivating story of mutual redemption is no exception.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  It was nerve-wracking to think that Molly spent so much time with a mentally unstable young woman while her parents were entirely unaware.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Recommend to girls in grades 7 – 10 looking for a realistic novel in verse, especially to reluctant readers and to Sones’ many fans. This could also be a good choice for a book club as the issues it raises around mental illness provide plenty of material to discuss.

Who should buy this book? High school libraries and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve in Fiction.

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:  1/16/17

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Amina’s Voice – Hena Khan

81xcmg1q7ql Amina’s Voice – Hena Khan, Salaam Reads: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 9781481492065, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

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

Genre:  Realistic Middle-Grade Fiction

What did you like about the book? Amina is just headed into middle school.  She’s never been comfortable in the spotlight and at first turns down a chance to perform a solo in an upcoming chorus despite her good voice and love of singing… but really enjoys just hanging out with her best friend Soojin.  But now Soojin wants to hang out with Emily too (a girl who tormented them in previous years for their different backgrounds; Amina is Pakistani American and Soojin is Korean and soon to be American).  When vandals target her community’s mosque Amina is devastated.  She must juggle her worry over her changing relationship with her best friend, her fear about fitting in, her concern over the shock in her community, and just growing up in general.  This is a real and touching nearly memoir-feeling short novel about a girl who is just trying to do her best in Middle School, navigating the usual school dramas along with the additional concerns of Muslim sentiment in the United States.  While there are a few dark moments this is overall a really positive book about community and friendship and family. There is a good bit of diversity too as the likeable main character, Amina, is Pakistani American and her best friend Soojin is Korean. The way the author weaves in Arabic phrases and explains (without any sense of Teacher Mode) brief bits of Muslim religion are very well done and interesting as well. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? The book wraps up quickly at the end and could have benefited from another chapter or two to prevent it feeling rushed.

To whom would you recommend this book?  (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Anyone who is interested in Malala’s story will find Amina’s story to be simpler in prose but very enjoyable. Also recommend to anyone looking for a good “just going into Middle School” story.

Who should buy this book? Middle Schools, Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it? Middle Grade Fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA

Date of review: 1/16/17

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Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough

 a142ppp1lul Behind Her Eyes – Sarah Pinborough, Flatiron Books, (9781250144898), 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

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

Genre: Mystery

What did you like about the book? Oh Boy, what a story! Louise is divorced with a six-year-old son, Adam, and working three days per week as the secretary at a psychiatry office. She meets David at a bar, they share a kiss – and she discovers he is her new boss! Adele, David’s wife, connives to meet and befriend Louise who begins a sexual relationship with David. So Louise is friends with Adele while sleeping with her husband. It keeps getting more and more complicated with Louise who keeps trying to do the “right” thing. Is David crazy and/or a murderer – or is Adele crazy and/or a murderer? Yes, the ending unbelievable – horrible but satisfying in a macabre way.

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

To whom would you recommend this book? Give this to anyone who likes mysteries, romantic mysteries and stories with an incredible twist at the end.

Who should buy this book? Public and high school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Adult mysteries

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: 1/16/2017

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