Behind Closed Doors – Miriam Halahmy

      Behind Closed Doors – Miriam Halahmy, Holiday House, (9780823436415), 2017

Format: hardcover fiction

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

Genre:  realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Josie and Tasha both have secrets; Josie’s mother is a hoarder and Tasha’s mother’s boyfriend Chaz keeps trying to sexually assault her. Neither girl likes being at home and both are under a lot of stress. Things quickly come to a head when Josie’s mother is arrested for nonpayment of taxes and Tasha runs away from home to escape Chaz. The two find that they have trauma in common and quickly become close. I loved the relationship between Josie and Tasha, as well as the way each eventually stands up for herself with their respective mothers.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The beginning was difficult because the reader needs to get used to two different voices, as well as British mannerisms and ways of speaking. Once the two girls bonded over their difficulties, however, I couldn’t put it down.

To whom would you recommend this book? Teens who like reading about family drama and social issues like hoarding, abuse, and poverty.

Who should buy this book? most high schools

Where would you shelve it ? Realistic fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not the top, but in the middle. It’s a good one to recommend to specific kids.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: June 21, 2017

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

If Apples Had Teeth:  A Book for Children by Milton and Shirley Glaser

     If Apples Had Teeth:  A Book for Children by Milton and Shirley Glaser, Enchanted Lion Books, 9781592702268, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review5

Genre: Picture Book

What did you like about the book?  This is a reprint of a title originally published by Knopf in 1960.  The words and illustrations are delightfully wide-eyed, deranged, and possibly subversive.  Apples bite back.  The soup talks back!  Alligators masquerade as luggage.  (Watch out!)  Each page posits ‘what if,’ and offers a delightfully absurd response.  Some pages rhyme.  Some don’t.  But there’s a zippy rhythm to the text that makes for good reading aloud.  Five to eight year olds who like to laugh will love this one.  Young wordsmiths and artists will be eager to create their own ‘what ifs’ and draw them.  It’s a book that makes the reader feel energized and want to participate.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  Nothing!  It’s joyous and goofy and the color palette of yellow-orange, turquoise, pink, orange, and green is fully in the spirit of the time of its original publishing date.

To whom would you recommend this book?   Who should buy this book? Public Libraries and Elementary School Libraries

Where would you shelve it? 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:  Robin Shtulman, Athol Public Library, Athol, MA

Date of review:  20 June 2017

 

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

The Go-Between – Veronica Chambers

      The Go-Between – Veronica Chambers, Delacorte Press, (9781101930953), 2017

Format: hardcover fiction

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Genre:  realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Cammi’s mom is a famous telenovela star in Mexico, but the family is ready for a change so her mom looks for opportunities elsewhere. Then she gets a part on a TV show in LA — as a Mexican maid turned entrepreneur. When they move to LA, Cammi attends a prestigious private school where she lets her classmates assume she is on a scholarship. Soon Cammi finds herself caught up in a lie about her identity that only gets more complicated as time goes on. Decent look at stereotypes, identity and racism.

Anything you didn’t like about it? I had a little trouble getting into the book. I also was distracted by various tangents that were left hanging or undeveloped plot points (Cammi’s mom’s anxiety, Cammi’s college boyfriend). Finally, I found it annoying and agitating how long Cammi let her friends believe that she was poor.

To whom would you recommend this book? Teens who like dramatic reads about friendships and identity.

Who should buy this book? most middle schools and high schools

Where would you shelve it ? Realistic fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: June 20, 2017

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

And Then There Were Four – Nancy Werlin

        And Then There Were Four – Nancy Werlin, Dial Books, (9780803740723), 2017

Format: hardcover fiction

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

Genre:  thriller/mystery

What did you like about the book? Five teens are brought together ostensibly to form a new leadership club at their school. After barely surviving one accident and then losing one of the five to another accident, the teens discover they are all being targeted for murder…by their parents. The book is narrated by two of the five, Caleb, whose father is a psychologist who brought all the parents together and Saralinda who is disabled and diabetic. Soon the teens are on the run for their lives and must depend on each other despite having just met. I loved the pace and the plot of this book. Once things got going it was hard to put down because I was interested to find out why the parents wanted to kill their children and wanted to see if the kids would survive the ordeal.

Anything you didn’t like about it? One of the narrators, Saralinda, has a tendency to run-on sentences. I think Werlin was trying to distinguish clearly between the two voices, but it was distracting and I kept wanting to put in periods and commas.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend it to kids who enjoy mystery/thriller books like those by April Henry

Who should buy this book? middle schools with a high demand for mysteries and thrillers

Where would you shelve it ? Mystery

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No; it’s not my favorite book this year.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: June 20, 2017

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment

Brave New Girl – Rachel Vincent

Brave New Girl – Rachel Vincent, Delacorte Press, (9780399552458), 2017

Format: hardcover fiction

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

Genre:  science fiction

What did you like about the book? Dahlia, 16, lives in a world where there are 4999 others who share her face. She has been created in a lab to be a gardener for her city. She is not supposed to be able to feel love or have individual emotions. But when she meets Trigger, 17, in a broken elevator and discovers a spark there, she sets into motion a series of events that lay bare the scary truths of her city, their leaders and her genetic code. I couldn’t put it down! The idea is fresh and the action is non-stop. I loved the relationship between Trigger, 17, and Dahlia, 16, and I can’t wait to read the sequel. The end is very exciting and leaves you on the edge of your seat.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Nothing! It was really good.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend it to kids who like The Selection, The Testing, Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction.

Who should buy this book? all middle schools and high schools

Where would you shelve it ? Science Fiction

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

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Gardner, Dartmouth Middle School, Dartmouth, MA

Date of review: June 15, 2017

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

Feather – Cao Wenxuan, illustrated by Roger Mello

        Feather – Cao Wenxuan, illustrated by Roger Mello and translated from the Chinese by Chloe Garcia-Roberts, elsewhere editions, (9780914671855), 2017

Format: Paperback Picture book

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

What did you like about the book? A single feather has been blown away from its source by the wind. When there was no wind, the feather had to wait in a “tuft of wild grass or a pile of fallen leaves, all alone.” The feather began to wonder what kind of bird it had come from. She meets bird after bird but no one claims her as their own. She travels in the air and she travels a great distance until she find a mother hen who is missing a single feather. The illustrations are beautiful and striking in their simplicity. This is a sweet story, reading like a folk tale, a story of finding where you belong and not giving up until you do.

Anything you did not like about this book? No.

To whom would you recommend this book? This story could be read to first or second graders as an exploration of family and where one belongs.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near.

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

Date of review: 6/18/2017

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

The Amazing Crafty Cat by Charise Mericle Harper

 The Amazing Crafty Cat by Charise Mericle Harper, First Second, 2017. 9781626724860

Format: Hardcover

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

Genre:   Fiction

What did you like about the book? Birdie’s super power is crafts! In the throes of crafting she becomes Crafty Cat. On her way to school on her birthday, Birdie drops the cupcakes decorated with pandas she had hoped to share with her class. Luckily, Crafty Cat saves the day with panda crafts for everyone, including something different for her nemesis, Anya. Friends, bullies and school are themes which will resonate with kids. And of course, crafts are celebrated as satisfying creative outlet anyone can enjoy. Simple, spare digital illustrations in black and white with shades of green and brown give the story a distinctive and kid-friendly look. Includes instructions for several panda crafts.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Hand this to fans of Harper’s Just Grace series, and to crafty graphic novel readers in grades 1-4.

Who should buy this book? Elementary 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: June 18, 2017.

Posted in Book Review | Tagged | Leave a comment