Professional Reviews (December Supplement)

Reviews are sorted alphabetically by author’s last name.

Baby animals series. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 14 pp. each $5.99. Pets ISBN 978-0-7534-6565-3

The realistic photographs and simple, yet informative text with the occasional concrete word, such as “hungry snake” in the form of a snake, are enchanting. These board books will help children and caregivers understand the variety of baby animals from numerous domestic and wild environments (DLN).

The book of… where?: 50 questions and all the answers. Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher), 2011. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 64pp. $7.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6598-1. Illustrated by Ray Bryant.

Where, what, who, which, and why are the beginnings of young minds’ inquiries into curious facts. This book answers 50 questions such as “where is the longest cave system?”, “where are the highest mountains?”, and “where is there land but no countries?”. Illustrations are eye-catching and resemble characters in the Dr. Seuss series. A charming addition to any library for elementary school children. (BNS)

The book of…which? (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 64pp. $7.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6599-8. Illustrated by Ray Bryant.

The book of” Which?” is one of a series of exploring questions. Questions about the world, i.e. planets, dinosaurs, plants, etc. are answered in language to which children can easily relate. Illustrations resemble Dr. Seuss characters, adding to the charm of this series. This can easily provide another good elementary teaching supplement. (BNS)

Knick-knack paddywhack! (2011). Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Dutton). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 16 pp. $20.99. ISBN 978-0-525-46908-7. Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Adapted from the counting song, Knick-knack paddywhack, this moving parts book may be more appealing to older readers, like adults, rather than young children. The book continues with the nonsense and the counting pattern of the song with pull tabs and other moving parts create a playful, interactive book. The most delightful aspect of the story is the orchestration on the last two-page spread. (DLN)

Stars and planets. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $10.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6498-4. Illustrated by Peter Bull Art Studio.

One of the most fascinating “worlds” we can observe from a distance is “space” and all that which is associated with space travel. This colorful book offers subjective material about planets, stars, and space travel. The book clearly presents useful facts, and would serve as a wonderful reference for young readers ages ten and up. (BNS)

Allen, Judy. Dinosaurs. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 18pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6496-0. Illustrated by Tudor Humphries.

A young child’s imagination brims with curiosity and wonder. This interactive book offers children a way of participating in the lives of a variety of dinosaurs. Answers to questions about these creatures are creatively presented with outstanding presentations of archeological terms couched in a way that even the youngest reader can comprehend. Beautifully illustrated by Tudor Humphries, this is a must read for young readers aged four and above. (BNS)

Allen, Judy. Whales and dolphins. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 18pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6497-7. Illustrated by Mike Bostock.

Children can easily find facts about these mammals in this book that creatively explores the habits of both whales and dolphins, demonstrating similarities and differences between the two species. Chapter subjects include their habits, how they breathe, what they eat, and how they communicate. Illustrations by Mike Bostock enhance each fact creating an informative resource for younger grades. (BNS)

Armstrong, Kelley. The gathering. (2011). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 357pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-179702-6.

Maya has lived on a small island off the coast of Alaska all her life. She was adopted as a baby and all she has to identify her is a paw print on her hip. Six months after her friend Serena dies mysteriously, Maya is still grieving when a woman claiming to be a reporter arrives and changes everything. The situations is complicated with the arrival of bad boy, Rafael, who is getting a little too friendly. With the help of her best friend Daniel, Maya tries to find the truth about her heritage and why everything seems to be pointing towards the unthinkable. The first half of the book is very promising. The writing and plot draw the reader in immediately. But after the first hundred pages, the story loses its grip. The characters lack development and the plot pace is very slow. By the end of the book the plot suddenly comes rushing with a series of events and then ends abruptly. Navajo myths are introduced through this story and the explanations throughout the book are very thorough. Reading the myths creates an interest in learning more about the Navajo and other Indian tribes. Because the ending was sudden and did not create closure, there might be a sequel to this book that could answer a lot of questions left unanswered. (SJ)

Auseon, Andrew. Freak magnet. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 293pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-113926-0.

Told in alternating voices, this novel is more than a typical teenage love story. Both Charlie (Freak) and Gloria (Magnet) are struggling alone in their own world of hurt and insecurities. A series of encounters, planned or otherwise, bring them together as they struggle to sort through the heartbreak of a death of a brother killed in Iraq and the continued decline of a mother’s health fighting Huntington’s disease. Throughout the novel, the author offers underlying advice while the characters deal with the grief and frustration of these difficult situations. This book gives hope to readers struggling with things like death, loneliness, and peer pressure. Recommended for grades 10-12. (TN)

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Anything but typical. (2009). Simon and Schuster. [email protected], (800-223-2336). 195pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-9500-5.

Jake Blake’s life is anything but typical compared to the rest of his family and classmates. Jake is autistic. Written in the first person, twelve year old Jake shares his view of the world, his insecurities, and his feelings. He focuses on his relationships with his friends, parents and brother and his constant struggle for acceptance by all. A touching look into the life of a talented young writer held captive by a disability and his determined effort to accept who he really is. Short chapters make this a quick read and will appeal to older readers as well as younger ones. This book provides an eye opening view for those unfamiliar with anyone living with autism. Recommended for grades 6-10. (TN)

Benoit, Charles. You. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 223pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-194707-9.

Kyle is a fifteen-year-old sophomore who has anger management problems among other difficulties surrounding his daily life in school. Told in the second person, this is a story of a troubled young man and the choices he makes about classes, his girlfriend, and his future. The fact that there are no adult characters positively portrayed is very unsettling. The one-sided conversations may be challenging for some readers. Because of the language, sexual references, lack of positive role models and dark content, this book is recommended with reservations for older teens, grades 10-12. (TN)

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales. The F factor. (2010). Arte Publico Press (Pinata Books). [email protected], (713-743-2998). 244pp. $12.95. ISBN 978-1-55885-598-4.

Javier and Pat are academic opposites thrown together in a Media Broadcasting class, a new “elective” at the private all boys school they attend. The two classmates deal with the usual problems and worries typical of sophomores: peer pressure, grades, balancing classes with extra curricular activities, bullying, friendships, and girls. Interwoven into the plot is the portrayal of two families, one wholesome and loving and one broken and hurting. The development of the relationship between the two boys through the guidance of positive role models provides a rewarding experience for readers struggling to succeed in school, those trying to live up to high expectations and those dealing with difficult family relationships. Drawing from her Latino background and private school teaching experience, Bertrand has crafted a well-paced contemporary story with a taste of Hispanic culture and heritage. Recommended for grades 9-12. (TN)

Brown, Ruth. Gracie the lighthouse cat. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group (Andersen Press, USA). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 25pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-7454-1.

On September 7th 1838, a brave rescue mission took place at a lighthouse on the Farne Islands, England. Grace Darling and her father rescued nine people who were stranded on the rocks. Grace, the cat, also bravely rescues one of her missing kittens. This is a wonderful and beautifully illustrated dual story, one in text, the other in pictures. It also provides a good parallel to Biblical parables. A beautiful book for all ages. (BNS)

Cabot, Meg. Abandon. (2011). Scholastic Inc. (Point)., (212-343-6100). 304pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-28410-3.

Pierce cannot help being on edge. Moving to an island off the coast of Florida is a new start for both her and her mother in hopes of leaving behind their broken, disastrous life. But Pierce can’t help herself when it comes to John, a moody boy from beyond the grave who seems to follow her wherever she goes. Despite her uneasiness towards John, Pierce feels afraid that someone is watching her and John might be the only one able to protect her.
Meg Cabot recreates the myth of Hades and Persephone into modern day through Pierce Oliviera and John. The story is well balanced in terms of pace and plot. Pierce is a relatable character that readers will connect to. There are some open spots and the abrupt ending that leave the reader wondering if there will be a sequel. Good humor and unpredictability make this a good read for teens. (SJ)

Caletti, Deb. The six rules of maybe. (2010). Simon and Schuster.
[email protected], (800-23-2336). 321pp. $19.99 ISBN 978-1-469-8545-7.

Scarlett Ellis spends much of her time helping her interesting and eccentric neighbors and befriending her otherwise friendless classmates. In addition, Scarlett and her mother welcome home her pregnant sister Juliet and her new husband. This proves to be a catalyst for each of the Ellis women on their journey to self awareness. In this fictional story, Scarlett learns that growing up is knowing when to let go, recognizing and accepting the emotional uncertainties of family and friends, and being willing to take an emotional risk. This is a novel filled with many quotable lines and life lessons. The conversational writing style may appeal to many high school readers. (TS)

Carle, Eric. The artist who painted a horse. (2011). Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25713-1.

Once again Eric Carle demonstrates his understanding of young children by painting animals with colors that reflect individuality and, perhaps, emotion. The artist presents a blue horse, red crocodile, yellow cow, pink rabbit, green lion, orange elephant, purple fox, black polar bear, and a polka-dotted donkey. While the colors promote creativity, the eyes may prompt a discussion about emotions/feelings of the animals. Hopefully, Penguin will publish The artist who painted a horse as a board book for very young readers! (DLN)

Castle, Kate. My first ballet book: From barres and ballet shoes to pliés and performance. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6509-7 (2006).

First issued in hardcover in 2006, this paperback moves the reader through the steps leading up to a ballet performance. The pictures of the dancers, costumes, and rehearsals are photographs of children from the West London School of Dance. The descriptions of ballet exercises, positions, and skills are precise and clearly illustrated. A glossary with pronunciation guide contributes to reader fluency and appreciation of ballet. Dancers, ages 4 – 9, and teachers of ballet will enjoy the photos and practical suggestions. (DLN)

Cavallo, Anna. Tanzania. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 48pp. $21.95. ISBN978-0-7613-6411-5.

Tanzania, a country in Africa, is often portrayed in film and television programming. This book is a picturesque mini-tour of the country’s topography and people. Safaris are briefly explored as well as the beaches and highest mountains. A useful book for geographical studies for ages ten and up. (BNS)

Childs, Tera Lynn. Forgive my fins. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 293pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-191465-2.

This imaginative, romantic fantasy has all the elements of any teen romance novel in the unworldly setting of the deep sea. With elements of the “Little Mermaid” and amusing “fishy phraseologies” and “sea slang,” the story revolves around a mermaid princess living on land while she is searching for a life mate before her eighteenth birthday. Even though this story has a lighthearted ending, the epilogue hints of a sequel and darker chapters ahead for the members of the undersea world. This book will appeal to teen girls looking for a story with a new twist on boy-girl relationships. Recommended for grades 9-12. (TN)

Cleary, Brian P. Cool! Whoa! An and oh! What is an interjection? (2011). Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 32pp. $16.95 ISBN978-1-58013-594-8. Illustrated by Brian Gable.

Language is a powerful communication tool. Cleary’s book cleverly identifies interjections used daily through rhymes fitting each expression. The illustrations are humorous, adding a positive flow to the book. This book is ideal for all who struggle with grammar. (BNS)

Cleary, Brian P. Six sheep sip thick shakes and other tricky tongue twisters. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 31pp. $16.95. ISBN978-0-58013-585-6. Illustrated by Steve Mack.

Tongue twisters are a fun way to improve speech articulation. Cleary’s book portrays this “game” effectively. In addition to alliterative skills, tips are provides on how to create your own tongue twisters. This book could potentially be used as an effective tool for speech therapists, best directed at students aged eight and up. (BNS)

Dollin, Laura, reteller. Piglet’s rainy day. (2011). Penguin Group USA, Inc. (Grosset & Dunlap). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 12 pp. $5.99. ISBN 978-0448455594 Illustrated by Stuart Trotter.

Best friends forever does not always seem to last, especially in the challenging world of middle school. Likes and dislikes change. Whether it is friends, clothes, family or schoolwork, everything has a different focus as you get older. This is a thoughtful, sensitive look at developing middle-school relationships and the changes Marylin and Kate experience as they try to remain true to their promise to remain friends forever. The author touches on many areas concerning the daily lives of middle schoolers —peer pressure, first loves, fashion, popularity, new friends, and divorced parents. As the main characters sort through the first weeks of seventh grade, young readers will be inspired by the way Marylin and Kate handle the challenges they face. A feel good ending with hope for more Kate and Marylin adventures to come. Recommended for grades 4-7. (TN)

Dutton, J.T. Stranded. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers.
[email protected], (212-207-7000). $16.99. 256pp. ISB 978-0-06-37082-3

Just like that Kelly Louise and her mom are moving to Heaven, Iowa to stay with her grandmother and an orphaned cousin. What could cause them to leave their home and re-locate so quickly? In Heaven, the body of a newborn has been found in a field. What else is hiding there? And who will find it? (TS)

Gammell, Stephen. Mudkin. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group (Carol Rhoda). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 30pp. $16.95. ISBN978-0-7613-5790-2.

Mathematical terms can be confusing to young people. This Basher Science book takes a fresh and clever approach to math. Each chapter is filled with math facts; each described in a way that even the most reluctant student will find enjoyable while also learning to excel in the subject. Recommended for ages 11 and above. (BNS)

Falwell, Cathryn. Gobble, gobble. (2011). Dawn Publications. [email protected], (800-545-7475). 32 pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-149-5

Except for the last sentence, “Turkeys know that I’m their friend,” this rhyming picture book for children ages 4 – 8, provides accurate insight into the habits and habitats of wild turkeys. Two sentences in the end notes are accurate and correctly contradict the notion that wild turkeys can be friends with humans “Remember, wild turkeys are not pets. They can fiercely defend their nests. We need to respect them and watch from a distance.” (DLN)

Flinn, Alex. Cloaked. (2011). HarperCollins (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 341pp. $16.99. ISBN 987-0-06-087422-3.

From the author of Beastly, comes story of an unlikely and downright normal hero, Johnny. His mission: to find the frog prince and marry the attractive and wealthy princess. With the help of his friend Meg, Johnny finds that everything is not what it seems and finding a frog is harder than it sounds. This is a fun tale filled with many familiar trials from other fairytales. Though the novel is based on The Princess and the Frog, tribulations from other tales and folklore are combined to challenge Johnny and Meg in their search for the frog prince. Readers will see growth in Johnny who initially believes happiness is obtained through money, providing a good resource for tales and moral guidance away from materialism. (SJ)

Godbersen, Anna. Bright young things. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 400pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-196266-0

The story is woven around the setting of the Roaring Twenties—the era of the coupe, the Charleston, prohibition and more. Two young women leave their mid-western town for the big city and encounter a world they have never known. They will face betrayal, love and danger as they seek their future –and reconcile their past. (TS)

Hand, Cynthia. Unearthly. (2011). HarperCollins (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 435pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-199616-0.

Clara Gardner is smart, fast, and strong which is common for those who carry angel blood in their veins. As an angel blood, she has a “purpose” or job to accomplish while on earth. Visions of a forest fire and a mysterious boy lead her to the “middle of nowhere”, Wyoming with her mother and brother. After a few months, Clara realizes that her purpose, her pivotal moment, is not clearly cut and everything she believed is brought into question. Unearthly puts a little bit of a twist of angels in humans’ life. The idea that there are people with purpose on earth, and how they make the decision of whether or not to complete their task is interesting and new. The story, however, feels similar to books of the Twilight series. Some of the parts are reversed, but the general plot line is the same, especially concerning the love trysts. The characters were also somewhat lacking in depth, making it hard to relate to Clara. The base of each character is laid out, but they character growth is limited. Despite these small criticisms, this book would be well-liked by teens. (SJ)

Henkes, Kevin. Little white rabbit. (2011). HarperCollins (Greenwillow Press). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 32pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-06-200642-4

Little white rabbit is a curious bunny. He wonders what it might be like to be green, tall, immobile, and fluttering. But when he sees a cat, he is too afraid to think about anything except running home to the bunny who he knows loves him. Once home, he continues to wonder about the world around him. Green is the dominant color in all of the illustrations; the bunny is outlined with a bold line, as are all of the animals and plants in the book, suggesting little white rabbit is indeed a vibrant, living, wonderful bunny (DLN).

Ingold, Jeanette. Paper daughter. (2010). Houghton Mifflin (Harcourt). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 204pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-15-205507-3.

Maggie Cheno is a high school student interning at the San Francisco newspaper where her father worked. While searching for the mysterious circumstances leading to his death, she finds secrets about her family and heritage. Ingold weaves a story of the workings of a modern day newsroom, a local government scandal, hardships of Chinese immigrants in the 1930s, a look at early 20th century Chinatown, and a young girl grieving for her dead father into a wonderful tale of discovery and personal identity. The author includes insights into the workings of a newspaper newsroom and Chinese immigration with website listings at the end of the book for further information on both. The cover of the book, although beautiful, may be a bit deceiving in that it seems to portray a much younger girl than the story actually involves. Recommended for older teens, grades 10-12. (TN)

Isaacs, Sally Senzell. Colonists and independence. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 32pp. $9.99. ISBN978-0-7534-5613-4.

Senzell provides a historical action series suitable for young readers. Each of her books depicts events that determined the course of our county’s path. “Colonists and Independence” takes us through the arrival of the first settlers through the American Revolution. It also chronicles significant events that defined America’s birth, such as the crafting of the Constitution, the presidency of George Washington, and the formation of the Bill of Rights. This is an effective supplement to beginning American history courses. This book is also well illustrated, recommended for ages ten and up. (BNS)

Jacobs, Pat. People around the world. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (616-307-5151). 16pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7534-6567-7.

Fifty chunky flaps reveal people from various geographical locations around the world. Important geographical and sociological questions are addressed as to where people live, what they do, and what types of people live in unique settings. This book is a colorful interactive tool for beginning classes in social studies for readers aged five and up (BNS).

Jenkins, Steven, and Robin Page. (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 24pp. $12.99
Time for a bath ISBN 978-0-547-25037-3

Both of these small square books (8.1 x 8.1) are full of interesting facts about the bathing and sleeping habits of animals. Adults and children alike will enjoy the fascinating bathing habits and exaggerated illustrations of unusual creatures such as the Bengal tiger, rhinoceros, emu, vulture, ants, pangolin, Japanese macaques, elephant, jerboa, jackrabbit, gecko, hummingbird, spoonbill, tomato grouper, and white tail deer. As children read Time to sleep, they will discover unique sleeping behaviors of the giraffe, hairy armadillo, red fox, bee-eaters, basilisk, flamingo, parrotfish, warthog, green sea turtle, white stork, European hedgehog, wood frog, long-horned bees, koala, walrus, bottlenose dolphin, and gorillas. End-notes contribute additional information about each animal mentioned in the books (DLN).

Jordan, Sheryl. Time of the eagle. (2007). HarperCollins Publishing.
[email protected], (212-207-7000). $17.99. 480pp.
ISBN 978-0060595548

Avala intends to be a healer. But, when the sacred words are spoken, she is asked to do much more. It is the time of the Eagle. Jaganath holds his people captive in the city of Navoran with cruelty and fear. His magic is powerful and dark. Can a child unite enemy tribes and lead them in a battle for their lives, their lands, and their freedom? Those who wait at Ravinath can aid and shield, but cannot be everywhere at once. Nothing is certain and success may depend on the loyalty of the humblest friend. The plot takes many twists and turns in the battle of good over evil. (TS)

Kacvinsky, Katie. Awaken. (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Houghton Mifflin). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 309pp. $16.99. ISBN 987-0-547-37148-1.

In 2060, humans are dependent on technology to run their lives. No one leaves their homes or meets face to face. All plants are artificial and food comes in bars full of vitamins. There is no violence or use of drugs since Digital School has become a part of everyone’s lives, keeping the children in and giving them a free education. That is why Maddy is baffled when she meets Justin who prefers to meet in person. Justin shows her how humans lived before technology making Maddy question who she is and how she become brainwashed.
A real eye-opener, Kacvinsky shows us a future of impersonality and peace. By combining a diary and first person format, the reader can see how Maddy realizes that imperfection is what makes life interesting. Bringing today’s culture into the possible future runs a chilling possibility of what could happen without human interaction. Kacvinsky gives us a world where technology has literally become our livelihood and how no balance can create destruction in nature and human societies. (SJ)

Keaton, Kelly. Darkness becomes her. (2011). Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 273pp. $16.99.
ISBN 978-1-4424-0924-8.

Ari thought she finally found her mother, only to be told that she had died. Left with nothing but a box of her mother’s belongings, Ari heads to New 2 which has a reputation for being the gathering place of paranormals. Having teal eyes and silver hair, Ari should fit right in and yet everyone she meets is scared of her. There are “people” after her, but she doesn’t know why. With the help of the House of Misfits, Ari follows her mother’s trail to find her past so she can fight her way to the future.
Kelly Keaton gives us a new heroine to look up to. Ari is the perfect mix of teenage girl and hardcore bounty hunter. There are many twists throughout this book making it unpredictable and difficult to put down. The descriptions made the story easy to picture and the characters are lively and interesting. Despite the use of everyday paranormal creatures, Keaton gives each of them an original twist and place to coexist together. There is strong language and some scenes depicted that would be more appropriate for older teen readers. (SJ)

Kerby, Johanna. Little pink pup. (2010). Penguin Group (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 28pp. $16.99. 978-0-399-25435-2.

“Little pink pup” is an endearing picture book about a new dachshund mother who adopts a piglet who was the runt of his litter. Tink raises Pink with her own puppies. With his foster siblings, Pink grows big and strong. This story of acceptance can have many uses within a classroom of young elementary students. It can be used as a foundation to discuss diversity, human adoptions, and many more. (MLNB)

Knudsen, Shannon. Alice Ray and the Salem Witch Trials. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 48pp. $20.95. ISBN978-0-7613-5879-4. Illustrated by Ruth Palmer.

Our nation’s history is loaded with moments of feverish passion which caused the suffering of many innocent people. The story of Sarah Good, hanged for witchcraft in 1692, is one such example. The story is narrated through the lens of fictional character Alice Ray. Alice recounts the events that led to Sarah’s conviction. The internal struggles of Alice as she attempts to state her conviction about the innocence of Sarah also gives readers a glimpse of life in early colonial America. In the back of the book, there is also a script and instructions for a staged version of the story. Recommended for ages ten and up. (BNS)

Kops. Deborah. Were potato chips really invented by an angry chef? And other questions about food. 2011. Lerner Publishing Group. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 40pp. $19.95. ISBN978-0-7613-6099-5. Illustrated by Colin W. Thompson.

Dietary do’s and don’ts dominate the media. Advertisements are abundant in advice about what foods can and cannot do. With our consciousness tweaked with weight loss and gain, this book investigates seventeen food related myths. Fact or fiction answers will surprise many people. The illustrations are colorful and thematically appropriate. Most appropriate for ages 12 and above. (BNS)

Lamar, Sharon. Mountain wildflowers for young explorers. (2011). Mountain Press Publishing Co. [email protected], (800-234-5308). 64pp. $14. ISBN 978-0-87842-578-5.

This book identifies many of the species of wildflowers found in the mountainous regions of the United States. Lamar cleverly applies one flower to each letter of the alphabet. The appearance and life cycle of each species is beautifully represented along with a description the original use by Native Americans. The illustrations are colorful and will entice young botanists to begin the hunt for the beauty found in our outdoors. Appropriate for all ages. (BNS)

Laroche, Giles. If you lived here: Houses of the world. (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, trade¬[email protected], (800-597-6127). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-223892-0.

According to the official web site of the author/illustrator, Giles uses “paper relief” to create his collages. This technique begins with drawing, then cutting, painting, and gluing. Giles’ style creates three-dimensional pieces of art. The three dimensional “paper relief” houses in this informational book, If you lived here, include the dogtrot, chalet, connected barn, palafitos, Venetian palace, chateau, Fujan tulou, half-timbered townhouses, whitewashed village houses, Ndebele decorated houses, yurts, a floating house, and a tree house. Information about each house is included with each picture, such as the house type, materials, location, date, and interesting facts. While readers with access to the internet can find the pronunciation of unknown words, a pronunciation guide would be helpful. Regardless, students can experiment with Laroche’s paper relief technique and create models of houses in their community as part of an art and/or social studies unit. (DLN)

LeVann, Kate. The things I know about love. (2010). Egmont USA. [email protected], (212-685-0102). 160pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-60684-078-8

British teenager Livia is going to spend the summer with her brother, a student at Princeton, in New Jersey. She beings a blog to chronicle her summer of discovery, after having spent the majority of her youth in leukemia treatment. Livia soon meets Adam who joins her in her journey. This story will be enjoyed by high school students. (TS, ARS)

Levine, Arthur A. Monday is one day. (2011). Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press)., (212-343-6100). 25pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-439-78924-0. Illustrated by Julian Hector.

As our society evolves, so does our definition of family. Since both parents often need to work to support the family, the absence felt by the children can be acute and upsetting. “Monday is one day” approaches such a scenario with love and care. Each day of the week is identified with special opportunities to spend time together. This book provides a warm and understanding approach to change within the family structure. The illustrations are charming and fit the story well. (BNS)

Lord, Cynthia. Touch blue. (2010). Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press)., (212-343-6100). 186p. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-03531-6.

Eleven-year-old Tess and her family take in a foster child in order to increase the local school’s enrollment when the state of Maine threatens to shut down their island school, which would force Tess and her family to move from the island that they love. Based on the author’s experience as an island school teacher and an actual community’s endeavor to remain open despite dwindling enrollment, this book is a wonderful tale of new friendships, difficult home situations, and the life of a foster child. For those interested in regional culture, it includes a brief introduction to the Maine lobster fishing industry. Characters are well developed and the reader will hope throughout that Tess’s luck will hold true until the end. Recommended for grades 4-8. (TN)

Lossani, Chiara. Vincent Van Gogh and the colors of the wind. (2011). Eerdman’s Publishing Company (Eerdman’s Books for young Readers). [email protected], (800-253-7521). 34pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-8028-5390-5. Illustrated by Octavia Monaco.

Inspired by the artist’s letters to his brother, Theo, Chiana Lossani brings van Gogh to life. Through the relationship van Gogh had with his brother four years his junior, we learn of the artist’s innermost thoughts, desires, and torments. This is a wonderful teaching tool for not only exploring the idea of nature as inspiration, but also the forces drawing two brothers together. Another option exists in exploring in-depth what happens when new artistic skills are applied to an existing art form. And, ultimately the psychological results of rejection are also explored. Ironically, van Gogh’s experiment with colors did not “sell” until after his death. Recommended for ages ten and up. (BNS)

Lowell, Pamela. Spotting for Nellie. (2010). Marshall Cavendish.
[email protected], (914-332-8888). 296pp. $16.99.
ISBN 978-0-7614-5583-7

“The last mistake you make is the one you’ll sleep with tonight.” Claire and Nellie are sisters and gymnasts. Adam, Nick, and Sid are the friends closest to them. In this novel, the influence of best friends–and even friends that may not be the best–sets off a chain of events leading to a decision that changes lives. This forces the main characters to learn what is important to them and to find the courage to seek it. Students will connect to the relationships illustrated in this book: the relationships between siblings, between athlete and coach, father and daughter relationships, and between friends and classmates. A cast of characters who are both believable and unique give the book richness. Each character must find his/her own way through the events that shape the story. The author provides good insight into adolescent thoughts and behaviors. The writing of the some of the content from the view of “the brain” provides both an interesting and chilling perspective on TBI. (TS)

Lowry, Lois. Dear America: Like the willow tree: The diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce. (2011). Scholastic Inc., (212-343-6100). 216pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-545-14469-8.

American life in 1918 was compromised not only by the war in Europe, but also by the devastation caused by the “Spanish Influenza”. This disease eventually killed more American citizens than those who perished in the war. The “Diary” depicts a family’s experiences through the fictional character, Lydia. The narrative reads like a diary carefully constructed to demonstrate a family’s life before, during and after the flu. Lydia’s life is changed dramtically as she and her brother, Daniel, become orphans after their parents and siblings are killed by the influenza. Challenges and family issues become unbearable for the children. Their care is transferred to a neighboring “Shaker” community. The Shaker way of live is totally foreign to both children. Lydia chronicles the difficult adjustment to the new community. The adjustment comes with difficulty since both Lydia and her brother are independent thinkers. This fictional diary provides good insight into the Shaker community. Photos at the end of the book give the reader a realistic glimpse. Teaching options include loss, separation, anxiety, and acceptance. Recommended for ages twelve at up (BNS).

McKinley, Robin. Pegasus. (2010). Penguin Group USA, Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 404pp. $18.99. ISNB 978-0-399-24677-7.

In Pegasus, Robin McKinley tells the story of a thousand year old alliance between two groups – humans and pegasi. To keep the alliance strong, children of the pegasi and human royal families are bonded and become “excellent friends”. However, Pegasi and humans are unable to talk to each other without the help of magicians. That is until the characters of Sylviianel and Ebon are introduced. Through the bond created between Sylviianel and Ebon, the two peoples have the opportunity to learn more about each other than they ever thought possible. However, this change in the status quo is seen as a theat. Some people, particularly within the guild of magicians, believe there is a reason humans and pegasi should not be able to speak to each other. Robin McKinley weaves a beautiful, compelling story that will both outrage and touch the heart of readers. This story of unbreakable friendship quickly becomes impossible to put down. McKinley crafted this story beautifully, and those who read it will eagerly await a sequel if there is one to come. (MLNB)

Montalbano, Andrea. Breakaway. (2010). Penguin Group USA, Inc. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 200pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25215-0.

Seventh grader Lily James, or LJ, loves soccer. Her passion is so extreme that she has become controlling on the field, alienating her teammates, which results in her suspension for the last two crucial games of the season. This book offers lessons in learning from mistakes, playing as a team member, controlling tempers and mending broken relationships. The author’s description of the game makes readers feel as if they are a part of the plays. The final minutes of the final game have readers rooting just as hard as the fans at the game. Interested soccer players will appreciate the use of the sport’s jargon. This book promotes lessons on sportsmanship and being a team player. Recommended for grades 5-8. (TN)

McVoy., Terra Elan. After the Kiss. (2010). Simon and Schuster (Simon Pulse). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 416pp. $9.99.
ISBN 978-1-4424-0211-9.

Becca has been in love with Alec, her ideal man. But things change when Camille comes to town. A kiss from Alec takes Camille by surprise and changing everything. Becca is forced to grow up and become responsible—faster than some. Camille has already had to be the “new girl” – more than once. See how these lives evolve separately, but still intertwined. (TS, ARS)

Park, Linda Sue. The third gift. (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-20195-5. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

This fictional tale of myrrh, one of the three gifts from wise men to the infant, Jesus, in the Christian Christmas story, conveys the process and purpose of the sap from the small trees of the commiphora genus. According to the end notes, “Persian, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian cultures all treasured myrrh” (p. 30 unnumbered). Except for the colorful garments of the three wise men, spice barrels, and the merchant, hues of the clothing, faces, plants and terrain are quite dull. (DLN)

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo people. Charlesbridge. [email protected], (800-322-3214). $16.95. 272pp. ISBN 978-1580893282.

Two boys, of opposing ethnic beliefs, on the verge of manhood must wrestle with their prejudices, their beliefs and their honor as they meet as enemies in war torn Burma. Through their suffering and brushes with death the two boys learn what it means to be truly courageous (TS, ARS)

Schreiber, Ellen. Once in a full moon. (2011). HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 292pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-198650-5.

Celeste has the perfect life. She’s popular, has two best friends, and the perfect boyfriend. She couldn’t ask for anything more in high school. And yet she feels like something is missing. When Brandon, a mysterious boy from the wrong side of town, saves her life from a pack of wolves, Celeste finds what she’s missing: love. But Brandon is more than what he seems and Celeste only has the warnings from a psychic to guide her. This novel had a generic plot progression and concept, neither of which carried out well. The characters are cliché and flat. There was no connection with any of these characters, which is vital for the reader. If the author gave some depth, this story may reach an adequate level. (SJ)

Railsback, Lisa. Betti on the high wire. 2011. Penguin Group (USA), Inc (Dial). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 288pp $16.99 ISBN 978-0-8037-3388-6.

Betti – along with orphans of a war torn country – lives in an abandoned circus camp site. That is, until the Americans come to take her “home” to America. Living in a new country creates problems for Betti, who contemplates running away. It takes Betti time, but she eventually learns to trust her new family. Her story shows how transferring from one world to a different world is heartbreaking, heartwarming and sometimes hilarious. (TS, ARS)

Rey, H.A. Curious baby Curious George: My first book of color. (2011). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [email protected], (800-597-6127). 14 pp. $8.99. ISBN978-0-547-47280-5. Illustrated by Greg Paprocki.

Curious George explores black and white shapes along with the colors yellow, orange, red, blue, green, and purple in this accordion-like board book. Objects in black and white are also illustrated on one of the color pages, e.g., a black and white sun is on the orange page and colored orange. Not all of the objects on the pages of color are familiar to youngsters, such as a diving suit, but the majority of items on each page are common to the world of infants and toddlers, for example, the sun, oranges, flowers, a slide, a pail, a truck, leaves, and balloons (DLN).

Smith, L.J. The vampire diaries: The return: Shadow souls. (2010). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 599pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-172081-9.

In this book, the story of Elena Gilbert, Stephan Salvatore, and Damon Salvatore continues. The author picks up the story with Elena on the road with Damon and her childhood friend Matt. They are in search of Elena’s boyfriend Stephan, who has been captured and imprisoned by demonic spirits in the Dark Dimension. Fans of the Vampire Diaries series will not be able to put this exciting novel down. However, readers just beginning the Vampire Diaries series should first read the previous books in the series, as this book cannot stand alone apart from the series. (MLNB)

Sperring, Mark. The sunflower sword. (2011). Lerner Publishing Group. (Andersen Press USA). [email protected], (800-328-4929). 23pp. $16.95. ISBN978-0-7613-7486-2. Illustrated by Miriam Latimer.

This setting of this book is filled with fire, fighting, knights, and dragons. In this land there lives a little knight who desires to fight dragons with a sword. But his mother gives him a sunflower instead. A cute play on the adage the “pen is mightier than the sword”, in this case, the sunflower. The illustrations aid in portraying the story’s message, which is that people and “dragons” can change to find a new sense of community. Recommended for ages five and up. (BNS)

Springer, Nancy. The case of the gypsy good-bye: An Enola Holmes mystery. (2010). Penguin Group (USA), Inc. (Philomel). [email protected], (212-366-2000). 166pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25236-5.

Enola Holmes is the younger sister of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Like her brother, Enola has a passion for solving mysteries. Enola is searching for the missing Lady Blanchefleur del Campo. Sherlock, who has received a mysterious package addressed to Enola, is searching for Enola. Both are searching for their mother, who voluntarily disappeared a year ago. The Case of the Gypsy Good-bye is the sixth book in a series following the adventures of Enola. Knowledge of the previous five books is not necessary to read this installment. Enola is a smart, sassy heroine young girls can look to as a role model. She is a girl trying to be an independent woman within a time period and society which encourages the opposite. The book is well written, engaging, and well worth a read. (MLNB)

Steele, Philip. Navigators: Ancient Greece. (2011). Macmillan Publishing (Kingfisher). [email protected], (646-307-5151). 48pp. $12.99. ISBN978-0-7534-6579-0.

“Ancient Greece” represents some of the essential facts of Greek culture. Sharp commentary and poignant insights of the time period include extraordinary minds, battles on land and sea, and breathtaking cities. This diversity of cultural experience is brilliantly illustrated. The abundance of historical relevance creates a path to our own rich cultural tapestry. A wonderful read for all ages! (BNS)

Vaughn, Carrie. Steel. (2011). HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). [email protected], (212-207-7000). 294pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-0154791-1.

Jill finds a broken shard of a sword on the shore of Nassau. One minute she’s on vacation with her family; the next, she finds herself being pulled out of the ocean, captured by pirates. She’s given to choice to become a pirate or prisoner. In order to get home, Jill signs on as pirate and learns that the key to getting home is the sword shard that is now in the hands of Captain Cooper. Steel gives great historical background, showing a different side of pirates than those in movies. It depicts not only the general characteristic of a pirate, but the amount of work they had to accomplish to maintain their lifestyle. The characters in the book all had great depth. Jill’s character progresses from her lost bout and learns that that there is more to life. Topics, like slavery, were introduced and put the story into perspective which made it easy to put oneself in Jill’s shoes. The plot was well planned and paced well. A fun and adventurous read! (SJ)

Willner-Pardo, Gina. The hard kind of promise. (2010). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). [email protected], (800-597-6127). 200pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-547-24395-5.

As kindergarteners, Sarah and Marjorie vowed to be best friends forever. But as they grow older and develop different likes and dislikes, they grow apart, finding that the promises made become harder to keep. This book deals with all the angst and worries about middle school friendships and peer pressure as the differing interests of the two twelve year old girls become a stronger part of them. Readers will relate to the idea that “It’s different in middle school, you have to care what people say, or no one will like you.” A good read for those struggling to find acceptance in middle school. Readers can easily identify with the characters. Recommended for grades 6-8. (TN)

Wilson, Diane Lee. Raven speak. (2010). Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). [email protected], (800-223-2336). 252pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-8653-9.

Asa Coppermane is the proud daughter of a Viking chief. Set towards the end of the longest, harshest winter she can remember, this is a story of survival. Sickness has decimated the clan, the able-bodied men have sailed off in search of food, and Asa discovers that the clan’s wise man does not have the clan’s best interests in mind. With her horse, Rune, Asa meets a strange hermit who seems to want to help but may also have her own agenda. Raven Speak is a story of the relationship between a girl and her horse, growth, sacrifice, and ultimately, hope. As a disclaimer, there are portions of this book that can be disturbing to some readers. The author describes hard choices and stressful events that occur in life. (MLNB)

Young, Janet Ruth. The opposite of music. (2007). Simon and Schuster
[email protected], (800-223-2336). $8.99. 352pp.
ISBN 978-1416958239

Billy’s dad was the perfect dad. He even taught Billy how to play Jazz music. But things began to happen. The changes were small at first, but now he barely speaks. Billy has to face his father’s disease, make sacrifices for his care and help his mom choose from frightening treatment options. (TS)

Zenz, Aaron. The hiccupotamus. (2011). Marshall Cavendish. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 28 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5883-8 (2005).

This silly board book of rhyming words, including nonsense words, will tickle the funny-bones of young readers. Although the book is not a color concept book, the vibrant hues of purple, yellow, blue, pink, orange, green, red, brown, gray, and white are eye-catching. Caregivers can point to each animal and ask listeners to identify the colors of the animals and the countryside. (DLN)