Dragon Pearl –  Yoon Ha Lee

    Dragon Pearl –  Yoon Ha Lee,  Rick Riordan Presents, (9781368013352), 2019

Format:  Advanced readers copy, 320 pages

Genre:  Science Fiction

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

What did you like about the book?  Rick Riordan’s publishing imprint brings the story of a Korean girl named Min as she travels into outer space to search for her missing older brother.  13-year old Min is not an ordinary girl as she and her family are actually gumiho, mythological shape-shifting fox creatures. Min and her family have been hiding among humans and keeping their abilities to shapeshift, influence minds and trick people a deep secret.  When Min’s older brother Jun is accused of leaving the Space Force to steal the powerful Dragon Pearl, she is determined to find him and prove his innocence. Min takes on the shape of Jang, a cadet killed in battle to infiltrate the Space Force. She is assisted by two other supernatural members of the cadets, a female dragon named Hanuel and Sujin, a non-binary goblin.  The characters are well-developed and teens will enjoy the way the author’s inclusion of race, culture and gender. This is a thrilling, fast-paced out of this world adventure that is also a fun introduction to Korean mythology. Readers who enjoy science fiction and learning about the mythology of other cultures will find much to like in this standalone novel.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?   Readers who love Rick Riordan’s series based on mythology with love this twist that combines Korean mythology with science fiction adventure.  This is a fun novel to hand to readers not looking for another series, but a fully contained one volume adventure.

Who should buy this book?  Public libraries and elementary and middle 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: 11/12/18          

 

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The Impossible Crime – Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery

     The Impossible Crime (Mac B., Kid Spy #2) – Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery, Scholastic/Orchard Books, 9781338143683, 2018

Format: Paperback, 160 pages

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

What did you like about the book? What I really liked about this book is that it is something I think kids will enjoy reading.  There are plenty of funny pictures, jokes, puns, and silly antics to keep a young reader entertained.  In this story, we follow Mac, a young spy hired by the Queen of England to protect the royal jewels. The queen has received a mysterious letter stating that a robbery attempt will be made on her jewels and she enlists the services of Mac.  Mac’s adventures include a trip to England and Scotland, spending the night in jail, a bite from a cobra, meeting a man who makes ice sculptures, and spending time with several of the Queen’s Corgis. In the end, Mac is able to solve the mystery and save the Queen’s precious jewels.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I can see young readers really enjoying this book.  The story reads just as a young energetic boy would talk — fast, rambling, and a little distracted, but I think that is what makes it appealing.  It is very readable for early elementary children. This would also make a great read aloud for children not quite ready to read a book like this on their own.  A caregiver could really add some fun drama to some of the dialogue in the story.

Who should buy it? Elementary and public school libraries, anyone that works with children over the age of five.

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction

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

Reviewer:  Kristin Guay, Centerville Library, Centerville, MA

Date of Review:  December 10, 2018

 

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Astrid the Unstoppable – Maria Parr

     Astrid the Unstoppable – Maria Parr, Candlewick Press,  9781536200171, 2018

Format: Hardcover, 306 pages

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

What did you like about the book? I was completely absorbed in this story about a young girl and her crazy adventures in a small Norwegian village.  Her life is filled with unusual characters, mean neighbors, threatening dogs, a kind older gentlemen, speeding sleds, new friends, abundance of rivers and woods for exploring and violin music.  All this is blended together to create and completely charming story.

Young Astrid is the only child in the small village of Glimmerdal.  She keeps herself busy by enjoying the mountains, spending time with her elderly best friend Gunnvald and annoying the owner of the new Wellness Retreat in the town.  Astrid has bright red hair which lets everyone in the town know exactly what she is up to on her adventures– she can be spotted for miles against the white snow. Whether it is trying new sleds (without brakes) down the mountain, getting in a fight with a visiting young boy, attempting a kidnapping of a dangerous dog, or simply spending time with Gunnvald — her personality is as colorful as her hair and just as attention-getting.  Astrid is very content with her life but everything takes a turn when a strange visitor arrives, threatening her friendship with Gunnvald and even her town. Astrid decides to take matters into her own hands and that is when the real adventure begins.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a long book (306) pages but there are many small chapters that make the reading manageable for young chapter readers.  This is both a wonderful book for elementary kids but also as a read aloud for younger children that might not be ready for a book this size. They will be entertained by the story.  Each chapter seems to end with a little cliffhanger that makes you want to keep reading.

Who should buy it? Elementary and public school libraries, anyone that works with children over the age of five.

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction

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

Reviewer:  Kristin Guay, Centerville Library, Centerville, MA

Date of Review:  December 10, 2018

 

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Princess Pistachio Treasury – Marie-Louis Gay

    Princess Pistachio Treasury – Marie-Louis Gay, Pajama Press,  9781772780482, 2018

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

What did you like about the book? If you are a fan of the whimsical “Stella” picture books, you will also love these beginner chapter books by Marie-Louise Gay.  In this series of stories, we follow Pistachio Shoelace on several adventures typical of a young child — pretending to be a princess, exploring cemeteries, finding her missing sister, and having her dog perform in the role of Sleeping Beauty. These stories are filled with all the trials and tribulations associated with childhood such as having to watch a younger sibling, being teased by friends, having bad dreams, and trying desperately to become a princess of an exotic country.

There are several stories in this treasury with brief chapters so this makes the reading appeal to younger beginning readers.  The stories are filled with characters such as teachers named Mrs. Trumpethead and Mr. Grumblebrain or an old neighbor named Mrs. Oldtooth (affectionately known by the kids as Oldtooth the Witch).  Her adventures are so silly that I can see how these stories would appeal to young readers. The bright illustrations complement the stories — especially the varied expressions we see from Pistachio.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing.

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a great book for early readers because the text is simple and the chapters are short — providing good stopping points throughout different parts of the book.  This would also be a great chapter book to read aloud to a beginner reader that may have outgrown picture books but is not quite ready to read chapter books.

Who should buy it? Elementary and public school libraries, anyone that works with children over the age of five.

Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction

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

Reviewer:  Kristin Guay, Centerville Library, Centerville, MA

Date of Review:  December 10, 2018

 

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Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez

  Sweet Black Waves – Kristina Perez, Imprint, (9781250132857), 2018

Format:  Hardcover

Genre:  Fantasy

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

What did you like about the book?  This is the first novel in a trilogy that retells the classic story of Tristan and Isolde.  Branwen is orphaned as a child and brought up in court with her cousin, although she is a mere lady in waiting to Princess Esuelt.  Branwen is blessed by the Otherworld with a magical ability to heal which she uses to heal a young man from the enemy land of Kernyvue across the sea.  Despite feeling that she is betraying her parents, who died at the hands of the Kernyvue, she cannot help saving this young man. Despite her loyalty to her family and to her country, she falls in love with this enemy poet before he disappears. When he returns to the kingdom as Prince Tristan of Kernyv and seeks the hand of Esuelt to unite their warring countries, Branwen faces heartbreak and betrayal.   She is also facing new manifestations of her healing power that cause destruction and death. This is a story full of strong female characters, romance, magic, adventure and danger. Readers will eagerly await the next volume in the trilogy.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?   Hand this to readers who enjoy fantasy series such as Graceling by Kristin Cashore or His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers.  Historical fiction readers, especially those interested in Celtic Britain, will also find lots to like.  Those readers who enjoy twists on classic literature will also take to this novel.

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

Where would you shelve it? YA 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:  11/15/18          

 

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The Wizard’s Dog Fetches the Grail – Eric Kahn Gale, illustrated by Dave Phillips

  The Wizard’s Dog Fetches the Grail – Eric Kahn Gale, illustrated by Dave Phillips, Crown Books for Young Readers, (9780553537406), 2018

Format:  Hardcover

Genre:  Fantasy

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

What did you like about the book?  In this sequel, Merlin’s talking dog and wizard-in-training, Nosewise, must once again save the kingdom.  Lord Oberon’s evil worms are devouring all the magic in the kingdom and cause the death of the Lady of the Lake.  In order to save her, Nosewise, along with Arthur, Morgana and Merlin must journey to find the Holy Grail. This is a fun take on the Arthurian legend for young readers with lots of magic, adventure and a very funny and loveable canine hero.  The plentiful full-page pen and ink illustrations add to the magic of this legendary tale. Readers will be eagerly awaiting the return of Nosewise for further adventures in Camelot!

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? This is a book to share with readers who love the tales of King Arthur and Merlin.  For readers who like magic, adventure and dogs!

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

Where would you shelve it? Juv. 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: 12/10/18          

 

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One Snowy Day –  Diane Murray, illustrated by Diana Toledano

 One Snowy Day –  Diane Murray, illustrated by Diana Toledano, S0urcebooks Jabberwocky, (9781492645863), 2018

Format:  Advance reader copy

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

Genre:  Picture Book

What did you like about the book? A snow day means lots of fun for a little puppy and some children.  The book counts up from one to ten and back again as the day progresses from waking up to bedtime.  The numbers, all spelled out without numerals, appear in primary colors among the rhyming black text.  Mixed media illustrations depict a fun winter world as it is enjoyed by the little brown puppy and rosy-cheeked children of various ethnicities.  Along the way there are snow boots, sledding, snow angels and hot cocoa. This is a nice addition to winter themed concept books.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It would have been a nice addition to include the numerals as well as the spelled out numbers.  

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a fun addition to a snow themed story time.  This would be a good choice to use for a wintertime counting lesson.  

Who should buy this book?  Public Libraries and preschool 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:  11/26/18          

 

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