Significant Others I: (Professional Reviews)

Agresti, Aimee. 2012. Illuminate. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books). 544pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-62614-7.

The lives of teenagers are filled with imagination and hopeful expectations of greatness and adventure. This book exemplifies the life of a bright young woman named Haven Terra whose expectations lead her to a prestigious internship at a Chicago hotel. What she does not realize is that the staff whom she has began to trust are not as they seem. The sanctuary which Terra imagines is not the the safe haven she needs as this point in her life. A very good story for upper teens. (BNS)

Alexander, Heather. 2015. The amazing Stardust friends step into the spotlight. Scholastic Inc. (Branches). $4.99. 96 pp. ISBN 978-0545757522. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer.

First to third grade female readers interested in circus life may enjoy this cute story of girl named Marlo and her mother as they start a new life with the Stardust Circus. Marlo is concerned about her new environment in the circus school and is intimidated by the talent of her new friends. She wants to blend in, but does not believe she is talented enough to join the circus parade. However, she is one determined youngster. This chapter book lists a reading level of grade 2, meaning the text conforms to criteria of a mechanical formula. (DLN)

Anderson, Gary Clayton. 2015. Ethnic cleansing and the Indian: The crime that should haunt America. University of Oklahoma Press. 472pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-5174-8.

Anderson argues that the the most descriptive words should be used to refer to the crimes against Indigenous nations in the Americas between 1492 and 1920, suggesting the terms ‘siege’ and ‘ethnic cleansing.’ Beginning with the European settlers’ beliefs and behaviors of their rights of discovery and domination, Anderson recalls the tragic history of ethnic cleansing of Native Americans, including the attack on the Pequots (1637), the butchery of 300 northern California Indians (1859), the massacre of Cheyennes at Sand Creek (1864), and many other devastating events. Other, less brutal forms of ethnic cleansing are also mentioned, included boarding school policies, and land allotment. (DLN) 

Arlon, Penelope, and Tory Gordon-Harris. 2013. Scholastic discover more: Puppies and kittens. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-49566-0.

Simple sentences are used to explain the facts about puppies and kitties in this Scholastic discover more book. Adorable, full-page photographs and smaller inset pictures give the reader details about different breeds and stages of growth. The glossary helps beginners to better understand new words. For more information about puppies and kitten, reader can visit the free digital companion book to find facts, videos, and fun activities. (KKG) 

Arlon, Penelope. 2013. Scholastic discover more: Emergency vehicles. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-545-49563-9.

Children can discover the emergency vehicles of land, air, and sea in this Scholastic discover more book. Large print and simple sentences make this a picture book for beginning readers. Smaller print details and facts add interest for older readers. Full page photographs and smaller inset pictures give the reader ample information. If the book sparks your interest and you want more information, you can visit the digital companion book for videos and fun activities. (KKG) 

Barden, Stephanie. 2013. Cinderella Smith: The super secret mystery. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 139pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-200443-7. Illustrated by Diane Goode.

Cinderella needs to solve the mystery of the missing library books, so she can write her ocelot report. To make matters worse, she keeps losing her shoes. No wonder her nickname is Cinderella. The delightful main character experiences situations at home and school that pre-teen girls can relate to. The Committee for Children recommends this book in their work to prevent bullying making this an excellent book to include in a classroom. (KKG) 

Bardhan-Quallen, Sudipta. 2014. Snoring beauty. HarperCollins Publisher (Harper). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-087403-2. Illustrated by Jane Manning.

How can a mouse get any sleep the night before his wedding when Sleeping Beauty is snoring? If only he can find a prince to kiss her, wake her, and stop the clamor. This clever tale told through rhyming verse and silly illustrations will have primary readers in giggles. The onomatopoeias and a fractured ending will please elementary teachers looking for innovative storytelling. (KKG) 

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. 2015. Terrible Typhoid Mary: A true story of the deadliest cook in America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 229 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-31367-5.

The expression “Like a regular Typhoid Mary” has become part of the American English vernacular, referring to a person who leaves chaos in her wake. But how did this phrase originate? Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant who cooked for some of New York’s most prominent families, and in almost all of the households she served, family members contracted typhoid fever. When researcher George Soper uncovered the possibility that Mary may have been a carrier, he went after her with a vengeance and ultimately had her imprisoned at the quarantine facility on North Brother Island where she lived almost exclusively until her death at age 69.

Terrible Typhoid Mary reads more like a mystery than a biography. Susan Campbell Bartoletti has carefully researched this work and provides an extensive photo album with excerpts from primary documents. Readers will feel sympathy for Mary has never been ill and whose civil rights are repeatedly violated. Through Soper’s investigation readers learn about the emergence of germ theory, the quarantine facility at North Brother Island, prejudice against Irish immigrants, and the often misguided, fight against a disease that took thousands of lives before antibiotics. (OJB) 

Beaumont, Karen. 2015. Wild about us!. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-15-20629-1. Illustrated by Janet Stevens.

Bold, colorful, textured illustration of a warthog, crocodile, rhinoceros, and elephant, portray the uniqueness of all animals. The story and illustrations provide opportunities for caregivers and educators to celebrate differences among animals; ideal for children ages 3–8. (DLN) 

Berkes, Marianne. 2015. Over on a mountain: Somewhere in the world. Dawn Publications. 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-519-6. Illustrated by Jill Dubin.

Readers, ages 3–8, familiar with Over in the Meadow, will recognize similar patterns of rhyme and rhythm in the verses in Over on a Mountain. In this book animal mothers and their offspring living on different mountains in the world are introduced numerically, from 1–10. Eight continents are represented along with the animals; llamas in South America, pandas in Asia, wombats in Australia, ibex in Europe, gorillas in Africa, snow leopards in Asia, eagles in North America, mountain lions in North America, yaks in Asia, and penguins in Antarctica. The animals are accurately placed in each country, but the number of babies stated for the majority of mothers is inaccurate. For example, emperor penguins living in Antarctica do not give birth to 10 chicks and yaks living in the Altai Mountains in Asia do not give birth to 9 calves. While the author distinguishes fact from fiction in the endnotes, the text can be misleading among the targeted reading audience of 3–8. Endnotes include facts, descriptions of the animals, suggestions for readers and caregivers, and the tune with lyrics for “Over on a Mountain.” (DLN) 

Blackford, Cheryl. 2015. Lizzie and the lost baby. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-570993.

As students ages 9-12 in grades 4–7 investigate the world and significant historical events, fiction based on authentic issues like Lizzie and the Lost Baby will help develop an understanding of people, ideas, and conflict. In the years following WWII, Lizzie struggles with many issues and questions, including “Is it ever right to keep something that doesn’t belong to you?” In this coming-of-age story, that “something” is an infant girl. With themes exploring compassion, intolerance, racism, honesty, deceit, adjustment, adaptation, and forgiveness, Lizzie and the Lost Baby explores relationships and status among refugee populations of the past and present. (DLN) 

Bobet, Leah. 2015. An inheritance of ashes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion). $17.99. 400pp. ISBN 9780544281110.

Good v. Evil is the dominant theme connecting the protagonists and antagonists in this breathtaking science fiction set in the aftermath of a “war down south.” Appropriate for young adults ages 12 and up, the setting is symbolic, antagonistic, historical, and establishes multiple moods readers can identify and discuss. (DLN) 

Booraem, Ellen. 2011. Small persons with wings. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 302pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3471-5.

Small Persons with Wings is a novel about a young girl named Mellie. She is thirteen and is still living down the terrible incident from kindergarten. She once told her whole class that she had a real fairy named Fidius and plans to take him to school the next day. But, when she comes home and tells Fidius that he has to go to school with her, he mysteriously disappears that night, leaving a china doll in his place. Years later, she is still called Fairy Fat, her nickname since the “incident.” When she finally moves away, she starts helping her parents run an inn that is swarming with fairies, or, as affectionately called by their Latin classification, the Parvi Pennati. ​ There were certain parts of the novel that could have used more or less description, but other than those few parts, this book was utterly grand. (BNS) 

Bradley, John Ed. 2014. Call me by my name. Simon & Schuster (Atheneum Books for Young Readers). 272pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-9693-1.

What first appears to be a Remember the Titans-style racial football story evolves into a complex, thoughtful look at racism. Taking place in the late 1960s and early 1970s in Louisiana, the story is told from the perspective of Rodney, a white football player. He befriends the athletic Tatum “Tater” Henry, even as he struggles with his own reservations about Tater’s race. When Tater starts dating his twin sister Angie, Rodney has to examine his own hypocritical thoughts. Although the book centers on sports, particularly football, the story has plenty to offer for all readers. Bradley’s tells the story from the perspective of a conflicted, flawed character who is struggling with conflict between the culture that he has grown up in and the friendship he has developed. Recommended for middle school and high school readers for its portrayal and discussion of racism and prejudice. (MC) 

Bunting, Eve. 2015. Forbidden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion). 224pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-39118-5.

Suspending disbelief is essential in any type of fantasy, and Eve Bunting convincingly accomplishes this goal with a credible setting, believable protagonists, sinister antagonists, and plausible themes. Romance, personal loss, mysterious events, and quests for justice contribute to an engaging, intense novel for readers ages 12 and up in Forbidden. (DLN) 

Buzzeo, Tony. 2014. My Bibi always remembers. Disney Book Group (Hyperion Books). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142318385-3. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka.

This story is based on elephant behavior, specifically, the nature of an elephant family with the grandmother as the matriarch. Bibi, Swahili for grandmother, calls her family to join in the journey to find the water hole she remembers. Little Tembo, Swahili for elephant, joins the trek, but is often distracted. Thankfully, she catches up with the group when she hears her grandmother’s loud rumbling call. The story is credible, but one sentence repeated frequently may confuse readers, “Searching for wet.” (DLN) 

Callery, Sean. 2015. Branches of the military. Scholastic Inc. 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68101-8.

Women and people of color are represented in this Level 2 Readert. Compared with Level 1, the vocabulary is more challenging and the text includes charts, quotes, and infographics. Readers can download free digital activities for additional information on the branches of the military mentioned in the book. Unfortunately, only four of the six are mentioned, the army, navy, air force, and coast guard. Missing are joint services and the guard (and reserves). (DLN) 

Carle, Eric. 2014. Level 3: The very quiet cricket. Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Young Readers). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48138-8 (1990).

Sollinger, Emily. 2014. Level 3: Owls: Birds of the night. Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Young Readers). 48 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48135-7.

Thomas, Shelley Moore. 2014. Level 3: Happy birthday Good Knight. Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Young Readers). 48 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-46374-2 (2006). Illustrated by Jennifer Plecas.

Long, Loren. 2014. Level 1: Otis’s busy day. Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin Young Readers) 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48130-2.

These three Level-3 Transitional Readers published by Penguin reflect the Fontas and Pinnell standards explained in Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading. (1999). Characteristics of these transitional readers include multisyllabic and compound words, additional dialogue, different perspectives, more complex plots, conflicts and characters; and a greater representation of genres. Recent Level 3 titles include: Owls: Birds of the Night (informational), Happy Birthday Good Knight (fiction), and The Very Quiet Cricket (fiction).

A recent example of a Level 1, Emergent Reader, is Otis’s Busy Day, which follows Otis, a tractor with qualities youngsters can appreciate. (DLN) 

Carle, Eric. 2015. Eric Carle’s how things grow. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 14 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48768-7 (1969, 1986).

Youngsters ages 2–5 along with their teachers and caregivers will enjoy the flip-flap book about how different things grow, such as an egg becoming a chick, an acorn growing into an oak tree, a tadpole becoming a frog, a pine cone turning into a pine tree, and of course, a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Readers will connect with Carle’s illustrations and may recall the images in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (DLN) 

Carnavas, Peter. 2013. The children who loved books. EDC Publishing (Kane Miller). 30pp. $11.99. ISBN 978-1-61067-145-3.

Angus and Lucy don’t have a television, a house, or a car. They do have something very special – books! Their story not only stresses the importance of books, but also the importance of a family reading together. The story ends with Angus and Lucy getting books from the library, which makes this a perfect read-aloud for elementary librarians. (KKG) 

Charbonneau, Joelle. 2014. Independent study. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 310 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-95920-7.

Book 2 of the Testing series begins after Cia has completed the rigorous and dangerous Testing. Her memory wiped, she begins her studies at the Commonwealth’s University. This dystopian sequel chronicles Cia’s rise toward becoming the Commonwealth’s leader. The premise of a sparsely-populated dystopian nation that is so eager to kill off its best and brightest is hard to believe. Additionally, the main character is perfect at everything and seems to hold disdain for every other woman in the school, making her difficult to root for. The ending sets the plot in motion for a final book to complete the trilogy. However, fans of the first novel might be disappointed in this slower-paced story. (MC) 

Chase, Kit. 2014. Oliver’s Tree. Penguin Random House LLC (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25700-1

Oliver the elephant loves to play with his best friends Lulu the Owl and Charlie the Rabbit, but being extra-large does not fit well with their favorite game of hide-and-seek. Oliver cannot reach the high tree branches and certainly cannot hide in a tree like his friends. These two caring friends decide to solve Oliver’s problem in an original manner by creating the perfect tree for Oliver. The simple text and positive atmosphere make this a good choice for young children. Perhaps a squirrel would have been a better choice than a rabbit for a tree-climbing animal. This one little flaw does not distract from the beautiful message in Oliver’s Tree of valuing all friendships. (PAS) 

Cornell, Kari. 2014. Terrific veggies on the side. Lerner Publishing Group (Millbrook Press). 33pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6640-9. Photographs by Brie Cohen.

Even reluctant veggie eaters will be enticed with this beginner’s cookbook. Tasty-looking photographs, step by step instructions, and helpful illustrations make cooking vegetables look fun and easy. With 9 different recipes to choose from, young chefs will be cooking up (and eating) their vegetables! Bon appetite. (KKG) 

Cosimano, Elle. 2014. Nearly gone. Penguin Random House LLC (Kathy Dawson Books). 386pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3926-0.

Nearly Boswell makes a habit of searching the newspaper’s personal ads, looking for hints of her father. Soon, however, she discovers a trail of ads that serve as clues to a string of murders at school. Nearly puts a high-stakes scholarship on the line as she tries to find the killer and becomes romantically entangled with a young man she’s not sure she can trust. Readers will race through this book to find out who the killer is and what the mysterious numbers on the murder victims mean. However, the romantic storyline leads Nearly to make a string of bafflingly unwise decisions, and Reece, her love interest, plays into the familiar but problematic trope of the mysterious, dangerous romantic interest. This romantic subplot often derails an otherwise well-plotted murder mystery story for teens. (MC) 

Dahl, Roald, compiled by Kay Woodard. 2013. Roald Dahl’s mischief and mayhem. Penguin Random House LLC (Puffin). 176pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-14-751355-7. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

Excerpts from James and the Giant Peach (1961), Matilda (1988), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964), and other Roald Dahl classics are the basis for this collection of trickery, jokes, quizzes, and mischief. An understanding of the world according to Roald Dahl will help readers of all ages gain the full import of the pranks and tricks included in this collection. (DLN)

Dean, Kimberly and James. 2015. Pete the Cat’s groovy guide to life: Tips from a cool cat for living an awesome life. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 48 pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-235135-7. Illustrations by James Dean.

With the help of famous people and their sage advice, Pete shares his philosophy about a life worth living. Pete translates advice from famous figures such as William Wordsworth, Lewis Carroll, Confucius, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison into phrases young readers ages 4–8 will understand. For example, Pete rephrases John Wooden’s contribution, “Make each day your masterpiece,” to “Look for the good in everyday.” (DLN) 

de los Santos, Marisa and David Teague. 2014. Saving Lucas Biggs. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 279pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227462-5.

When Margaret’s father is sentenced to death for a crime that he didn’t commit, she is sure that the only way to fix things is to use her family’s ability to travel back in time. She travels back to the year 1938 in an effort to change an event that led Judge Biggs to become bitter and cruel in 2014. History resists changes, however, and Margaret soon discovers that changing the past might be impossible. With the help of her modern-day friend Charlie, she learns to take action in the present to save her father. The novel’s plot is fresh and unexpected, and its 13-year-old protagonists Margaret and Charlie feel realistic, even as they witness horrific events. The story grapples with difficult questions like what it means to be a good person and confronts evil and cruelty in a sophisticated way. Marisa de los Santos’ poetic background is evident in the beautiful prose. Recommended for readers 10 and up. (MC) 

de Séve, Randall. 2014. Toy boat. Penguin Random House (Philomel). 30 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-399-16797-3 (2007). Illustrated by Loren Long.

This board book, first published as a picture book in 2007, contains the tale of a little boy and his toy boat. The boat longs for freedom, and one day, the string connecting the boat to the boy breaks and the boat sails off into the sea. The boat sails through multiple adventures, but eventually it finds its way back to the boy. In the end, both are wiser, having learned valuable lessons about life and friendship. (DLN) 

Dewdney, Anna. 2015. Llama, llama red pajamas. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 32 pages, $8.99. ISBN 978-0-451-47457-5 (2005).

First published in 2005, this version of Llama, Llama Red Pajamas is ideal for young readers with small hands. The board book pages are more manageable for youngsters developing their fine motor skills than thin paper pages. The rhyming verse style is lyrical and readers ages 1–3 will recognize the themes of longing, fear, motherly love, and security. (DLN) 

Ducie, Joe. 2015. The rig. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 97805544503113.

Young adults in grades 5-9 may question the plausibility of a maximum security juvenile prison, but it is the reality for Will Drake, the main character sentenced to the Rig, a facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Multiple dynamic conflicts of person v. person, person v. self, person v. society, and society v. society propel this science fiction novel. Character development and multiple themes make this fast-paced story ideal for young adults. (DLN) 

Dudley, David L. Cy in chains. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 328pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-91068-0.

Even generations after slavery ended, blacks were still treated as lower-class citizens. Cy in Chains takes an unflinching look at a black teenager’s life as a chain-gang laborer. Suffering from meager food, poor supplies and back-breaking work, Cy gives up hope of anything ever improving. His hope begins to return, however, when he stops seeing the displays of kindness from his fellow laborers as weaknesses. Dudley bases Cy on a real historical figure, telling a story that few history books cover. The book reads easily, but because of the subject matter, pre-reading by an adult before recommending it to a child is encouraged. The book contains intense violence and mention of rape. (MC) 

Dumont, Jean-Franҫois. 2015. I am a bear. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 34pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5447-6.

Bear is homeless, dejected, and becoming more invisible by the day. Little old ladies, bakers, and butchers walking by his cardboard house, are afraid of him and try to scare him off their premises or ignore him. One day, a young girl stops to talk with Bear and tells him he looks like a teddy bear, except teddy bears do not look sad. Bear is transformed by her kind words, and although he remains homeless, he now has a friend who believes he is a teddy bear. As with Dumont’s previous work, this picture story book contains messages for all ages. (DLN) 

Dunrea, Olivier. 2015. Gemma & Gus: Big sister, little brother. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-86851-6.

Youngsters ages 2 – 4 will appreciate the passion of Gemma and Gus to explore the world together. They alternate leading adventures, something to which children can relate because sometimes readers are the trailblazer and sometimes they follow others. (DLN) 

Dunrea, Olivier. 2015. Gus explores his world. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-547-86761-8.

Gus enjoys solitude, but after sitting on three eggs, he is surprised when green turtles emerge and latch onto him, something he enjoys. Youngsters ages 2–4 will find Gus delightful because he is a character willing to change and include others in his life. (DLN) 

Engelbreit, Mary. (2014). Nursery and fairy tales collection. HarperCollins Publishers (HarperCollins Children’s Books). 192 pp. ISBN 978-0062287076.

Twenty familiar traditional stories are found in this collection appropriate for children ages 3-8, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, The Emperor’s New Clothes and more. While the titles of the tales may be familiar, the retellings are gentle and vary slightly from thw more stark original versions. For example, while the wolf swallows Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, they step out unharmed after the woodcutter gives the Wolf “a big scolding” for his behavior. The main characters in The Three Little Pigs are not all male, the first and third Little Pigs are female. Readers will connect with all of characters in the tales because the majority of illustrations are youthful, rounded, and colorful. (DLN) 

Engle, Margarita. 2014. Silver people: Voices from the Panama Canal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 260 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-544-10941-4.

Told in verse, Silver People tells the largely untold story of the building of the Panama Canal, spanning from 1906 to 1914. Voices such as Mateo, a Cuban who comes to work, tell of the injustices faced while working on the project; certain races are paid in silver and others in gold. Mateo, a Spaniard named Augusto, an American named Henry, and a young woman from Panama named Anita are the main voices in the story, but they are joined by real historical figures like Theodore Roosevelt. The rainforest in this story is personified, allowing its creatures to give their perspective on this change in the landscape. Highly recommended, not only for elementary school readers, but for anyone interested in history and civil rights. (MC) 

Esdaile, Charles. 2014. Women in the Peninsular War. University of Oklahoma Press. 336 pp. $39.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-4478-8.

Esdaile’s research of the various roles women played in the Peninsual War of 1808-14 is stellar, thorough, informative, and engaging. The text depicts women in a wide variety of roles, some of which were heroic, such as the acts of Agustina Zaragos Domenech. Other roles of women include campfollowers, prostitutes, sympathizers, cross-dressers and collaborators. The historically invisible, that is women, come alive in Esdaile’s readable, fascinating text. (DLN) 

Fine, Sarah. 2014. Of metal and wishes. Simon & Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry Books). 336pp. $17.99. ISBN 1-4424-8358-3.

Wen lives in a world of blood and machines; a slaughterhouse that is said to be haunted. Distrust and prejudice are brought into play when a race of people called the Noor come to work at the factory. Wen befriends a Noor named Melik and soon learns that the ghost of the slaughterhouse might not be a ghost at all. Of Metal and Wishes is a dystopian novel that takes plenty of inspiration from Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, but it also features a corrupt work society and the beginnings of a revolution. Teenage fans of gothic horror or unique dystopian worlds will be interested in this first installment of a series. (MC) 

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Tundra food webs in action. Lerner Publishing Group. 40pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-1295-8.

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Desert food webs in action. Lerner Publishing Group. 40pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-1294-1.

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Grassland food webs inaction. Lerner Publishing Group. 40pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4377-1293-4.

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Ocean food webs in action. Lerner Publishing Group. 40pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-1255-2.

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Forest food webs in action. Lerner Publishing Group. 40pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-1254-5.

Fleisher, Paul. 2014. Lake and pond food webs in action. Lerner Publishing Group. 40 pp. $20.95. ISBN 978-1-4377-1256-9.

This book series provides a complete guide to six biomes of the world. Each book features a color-coded food web illustrating the interaction of the producers, consumers, and decomposers. Simple, informative text and close-up action shots will fascinate second to fourth grade biologists. Books, websites, and free educational resources to download are included. (KKG) 

Freedman, Deborah. 2015. By Mouse and Frog. Penguin Random House LLC (Viking). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-78490-5.

Mouse is writing a story, but Frog has different ideas for the plot, characterizations, theme, setting, style, and point-of-view. Eventually, the two friends reconcile their differences and write a story integrating the ideas of both Mouse and Frog. The tale is delightful and endearing, but also an example of the writing process v. product, although readers and aspiring authors ages 3 and older will recognize the book is a product. (DLN) 

Gill, Timothy. 2014. Flip & Fin: We Rule the School!. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 32 pp. $14.99 ISBN 978-0-06-224300-3. Illustrated by Neil Numberman.

Flip and Fin, the sand shark twins, are primed and thinking they are ready for Joke Day at school. Flip spends the day before practicing a bunch of corny jokes with his brother’s help. When the big day arrives, however, he loses his nerve in front of the crowd at the assembly. Again, his twin comes to the rescue, and between the two of them, they have the crowd in an uproar by the end of the story.

The zany illustrations for this story are probably the best part of the book. Readers see typical school scenes, but of course they are all under water. The very human sea creatures are delightful. The text is heavy on jokes, some of which may not be understood by younger children. This story will probably have more appeal to the older picture book set, first grade through early second. Be sure to check out the last page; true facts about sand sharks, as well as the other kinds of fish represented by the story characters, add another dimension to this silly story. (JS) 

Goodyear Jr., Frank H. and Charles R. Preston. 2015. Wyoming grasslands. University of Oklahoma Press. 252 pages, $39.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-4853-3. Photographs by Michael P. Berman and William S. Sutton. Forward by Dan Flores.

Every Bureau of Land Management office in Wyoming should have a copy of this stellar collection of photographs and essays of Wyoming grasslands at the front desk to remind staff and visitors of the ecological diversity in the state. This phenomenal photo and essay documentary is produced by a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Chapter and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and is the remarkable product of the Wyoming Grasslands Photographic Project. (DLN) 

Gourley, Robbin. 2015. Talkin’ guitar: A story of young Doc Watson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-12988-7.

Arthel Lane Watson, known as the musician, Doc Watson (1923–2012), was a phenomenal human being and musician. This biography of a guitarist born in an Appalachian Mountain town is an ideal complement to either history units about the life in Appalachia or any folk music curriculum. (DLN) 

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. 2014. The missing: book 7: Revealed. Simon & Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). 438 pp. ISBN 978-1-4169-8986-8.

The 7th book in Haddix’s Missing series begins with Charles Lindbergh appearing without warning in Jonah and Katherine’s living room. When Lindbergh disappears and takes Katherine with him, all of the adults in town turn into young versions of themselves. It’s up to Jonah and other time travelers to sort out what happens. Adventure and plenty of time travel paradoxes follow. While these time travel rules and paradoxes can be confusing, readers who have been following the series will rip through the pages of this book quickly. The writing also includes enough background information for a new reader to follow along with the plot. This series is a fun adventure chronicle for history fans and science fiction fans in elementary and middle school. (MC) 

Hapka, Catherine. 2014. Plants vs. zombies: Save your brains?. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 32 pp. $3.99 (paper), ISBN 978-0-06-229496-8

Another Level 2 “I Can Read” story suitable for Halloween. The tale is ideal for developing readers who like silly stories. In this exciting story, zombies are attacking and want to eat brains (presumably those of the readers). Only the plants, with the help of Crazy Dave can save readers from losing their brain! (DLN)

Hill, Katie Rain. 2014. Rethinking normal. Simon & Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers). 264 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4818-1823-2.

In this memoir Katie Rain Hill tells the story of her life as a transgender woman. Born a boy named Luke, Katie always knew she was a girl in a boy’s body, but it took years of feeling lost and out of place before she discovered the terminology and the community that helped her define who she was. Katie is candid about her painful childhood, her tense relationship with her dad, and her teenage relationships, after she transitioned to presenting herself as female. Rethinking Normal is an honest account, and Katie’s experiences with bullying, suicide attempts, and finally finding a niche of friends that accepted her will resonate with many teenagers, trans and cisgender. Recommended for teenagers and parents who want a firsthand account of what it means to be transgendered. (MC) 

Himmelman, John. 2015. Noisy birds sing-along. Dawn Publications. 32 pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-514-1.

Dawn Publications connects readers, ages 3-9 with a number of birds, their habits, habitats, and voices. Author John Himmelman, an avid birder, uses onomatopoeia to convey the various sounds of different birds, such as robins singing “cheery up,” yellow warbles singing “sweet, sweet,” the barrel owl saying “who cooks for you?” End notes complement the text with interesting facts about birds and birding. (DLN) 

Hogan, Jamie. 2011. Seven days of Daisy. Down East Books. 32pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-0-89272-919-7.

Daisy tells her story of waiting seven days for her grandma to come for a visit. Young readers can easily relate to how slowly time goes by when you are waiting. Waiting on an island adds a new twist to the story. Daisy describes her adventures with tide pools, kayaks, sea gulls, fireflies, and ferrys as she crosses each day off the calendar. Pastel drawings create a child-like feel to this narrative, making it accessible to young readers. This is a great addition to an ocean unit for students K-2. (KKG) 

Holabird, Katharine. 2014. Angelina’s big city ballet. Penguin Random House LLC (Penguin). 24pp. $14.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01560-3. Illustrated by Helen Craig.

Fans (ages 3 and up) of Angelina will enjoy the latest adventure of this young mouse who loves to dance. In this installment, Angelina is off to the Big Cheese, which adults may recognize as New York City. Angelina and her cousin Jeanie are scheduled to perform at the “Big Cheese Dance Show.” The plot thickens when Jeanie insists tap dancing is better than ballet, Angelina’s preferred mode of dance. But, true to her personality, Angelina does not give up, and, after Jeanie confesses tap and ballet are two equal types of dances, the two mice work together for a grand performance combining the two forms. (DLN) 

Holtby, David V. 2012. Forty-seventh star. University of Oklahoma Press. 384 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-8061-4282-1.

President William Howard Taft signed the proclamation adding New Mexico to the United States in 1912, but the federal legislators ceded the territory of New Mexico to the States in 1848. Holtby carefully and thoroughly examines and explains the painful journey from territory status to Statehood. The quest is intriguing, dominated with collisions of money, power, politics, egos, and racism. (DLN) 

Houran, Lori Haskins. 2013. Dig those dinosaurs. Albert Whitman & Company. 24pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-1579-2. Illustrated by Francisca Marquez.

Novice readers who are interested in dinosaurs will treasure this book. The author uses repeating patterns highlighted in red to guide children through the complete dinosaur dig process. Detailed illustrations show the process paleontologists go through to find, clean, assemble, and exhibit dinosaur bones. Extra information in the back allows adults to share more dinosaur facts. This book will enhance first grade classrooms. Read it with a partner or together as a whole class. (KKG) 

Hovens, Pieter and Bruce Bernstein. 2015. North American Indian art: Masterpieces and museum collections from the Netherlands. University of Oklahoma Press. 320pp. $39.95. ISBN 978-3-9811620-8-0.

After an enlightening description of the history of collectors and collections of Native North Americana in Netherlands museums, editors Hovens and Bernstein present captivating, colorful pictures and narrations of Native American art and artifacts. The pieces referenced are located in various museums in the Netherlands and represent different Indigenous Native American people from a variety of regions and tribes (Cree, Kiowa, Comanche, Lakota, Blackfoot, Ute, Cheyenne, Hidatsa, and more).The descriptive explanations of the collections of artifacts and the illustrations are captivating. This book is highly recommended for museum studies program collections and individuals interested in Native American art. (DLN) 

Iriyama, Satoshi. 2004. Good night, Chirp!. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-35994-9. Originally published in Japan as Piyo-chan no oyasuminasai (Good night, Little Pyo).

Chirp, a young chick, cannot sleep and invites animal friends to join in a nighttime adventure to catch the moon, but only Kitty agrees to join Chirp. Young children ages 2–4 will enjoy following Chirp and Kitty on their evening quest. Flip-flaps contribute to the suspense and the identification of the animals on the front and back cover will help set and conclude the story line. (DLN) 

Iriyama, Satoshi. 2005. Happy spring, Chirp!. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-544-36150-8. Originally published in Japan as Piyo-chan no otsukai (Little Pyo’s adventure).

More than a springtime story for youngsters ages 2–4, Happy Spring, Chirp is also a flip-flap and search-and-find book. The animals found throughout the story are identified in the front and back of the book. Because of the number of different animals in the pictures, caregivers and teachers may use the story to develop children’s’ observation, identification, and language skills. The plot, conflicts, and themes will be recognizable to children as Chirp, with the help of friends, looks for the perfect birthday present for Auntie Duck. (DLN) 

Jackson, Tom. 2014. The magic school bus presents: Our solar system. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68365-4. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken

Jackson, Tom. 2014. The magic school bus presents: Planet Earth. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68012-7. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Jackson, Tom. 2014. The magic school bus presents: Sea creatures. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68366-1. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Green, Dan. 2014. The magic school bus presents: The human body. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68364-7. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Callery, Sean. 2014. The magic school bus presents: Wild weather. Scholastic Inc. 32pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-545-68367-8. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Each of these non-fiction titles by scholastic is based on The Magic School Bus books written by Joanna Cole. The authors consulted specific experts as they wrote the books, and the illustrator uses a variety of fonts, pictures, objects, captions, and colors that complement the information well. While the books are companions to the original Magic School Bus series, they are also ideal to use as stand alone texts with English language learners because of the illustrative nature of each book. (DLN) 

Jiang, Emily. 2013. Summoning the Phoenix: Poems and prose about Chinese musical instruments. Lee & Low Books (Shen’s Books). 32 pp. $18.95. ISBN 978-1885008503. Illustrated by April Chu.

Lee & Low suggests the audience for this collection of poems about Chinese musical instruments is children ages 6–12, primarily because of the youthful characters. However, music teachers at all levels will want to add this book to their collection of picture books used in their classrooms. Each instrument is described with a phonetic guide to its pronunciation and accompanied by a poem. Instruments include the yangqin, dizi, sheng, and xiao, as well as many others. The illustration of a concert on the final page reflects a significant and refreshing contrast to western concert attire, with vibrant red dresses for females and black pants, white shirts, and black bow ties for the males. (DLN) 

Kimmel, Eric A. 2014. Simon and the Bear: A Hanukkah tale. Disney Book Group (Hyperion Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-142314355-0. Illustrated by Matthew Trueman.

True to two of the characteristics of Jewish folktales, this story includes themes of faith and the rewards of unselfishness. It also celebrates and explains (in the author’s endnotes), Hanukkah. Simon leaves for America on a ship that hits an iceberg. He forfeits his seat on a lifeboat, giving it to a man who is a father with a son at home, because he does not want a boy to grow up without a father. Simon jumps from the sinking ship and lands on a piece of ice on the first night of Hanukkah, befriends a polar bear, and survives. Miracles continue to happen, and Simon’s unselfish behavior is rewarded on the last night of Hanukkah when a passing ship spots the candles burning on the menorah his mother packed in his knapsack. Simon is saved, lands in New York, and eventually lives happily with his mother, sisters, and brother. This is a refreshing tale and should be included in curriculum as one of many books children read as they learn about holidays of multiple traditions. (DLN) 

Kops, Deborah. 2015. The great molasses flood: Boston 1919. Charlesbridge. 102pp. $13.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-349-7.

Frequently, when there is a world tragedy such as WWI, other issues and abnormal events go unnoticed. Such is the case of the molasses flood occurring in 1919. This cleverly written narrative contains a unique cast of characters starring in a set of clearly defined chapters depicting the entire odd event. 1919 was a hopeful year; the war ended, troops were home, hope was restored in the “American” way.. A large tanker filled with molasses had just made port in Boston when it exploded and molasses flooded the streets. What cause the flood, what caused the explosion, and who was to blame? This narrative explores all characters, suspects, and economic results. Twenty-one people died tragically as a result of the flood. This book is very well illustrated and recommended to students interested in post WWI history. (BNS) 

Krensky, Stephen. 2014. Pins & Needles. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-46209-7. Illustrated by Kristyna Litten.

Leone, Dee. 2014. Bizz & Buzz make honey buns. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-47927-9. Illustrated by Maritie.

Lowell, Barbara. 2014. George Ferris: What a wheel. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-47925-5. Illustrated by Herry Hoare.

Parents, caregivers, and educators advocating CORE concepts may be interested in the Penguin CORE concept books. These Penguin books support twenty major themes common to any elementary curriculum: animals, appreciating differences, the arts, bodies of water, community workers, family, friendship, health, imagination, nature, numbers, problem solving, seasons, self-esteem, the senses, shapes, sharing, space, transportation, and weather. Bizz & Buzz Make Honey Buns, an early reader, promotes friendship and problem solving. The themes of friendship and appreciating differences dominate Pins & Needles, another early reader. The most engaging of the three, George Ferris: What a Wheel, is an informational book promoting the concepts of imagination and problem solving. (DLN) 

Kügler, Tina and Carson. 2015. In Mary’s garden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-27220-0.

Born in Wisconsin, Mary spent her summers at the family cottage on Lake Michigan and there she created unusual sculptures for the front yard and transformed the interior of the house with unique paintings. As an informational book about artist Mary Nohl (1914–2001), In Mary’s Garden may be used as a pre-reading device before starting a sculpture unit in any grade 3–12 art class. According to the endnotes, Mary’s sculptures remain controversial – an optimal topic for discussion among creative minds. (DLN) 

Jackson, Tom. 2015. The Magic School Bus presents the rainforest: A nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series. Scholastic Inc.. 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545685856. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Jackson, Tom. 2015. The Magic School Bus presents dinosaurs: A nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series. Scholastic Inc. 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545685832. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Jackson, Tom. 2015. The Magic School Bus presents insects: A nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series. Scholastic Inc. 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545685870. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

Jackson, Tom. 2015. The Magic School Bus presents volcanoes and earthquakes: A nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series. Scholastic Inc.. 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545685849. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

O’Brien, Cynthia. 2015. The Magic School Bus presents polar animals: A nonfiction companion to the original Magic School Bus series. Scholastic Inc. 32 pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-0545685863. Illustrated by Carolyn Bracken.

These books, suitable for children in grades 1–3, and perhaps older readers struggling with content concepts, are informative, factual complements to concepts introduced to primary level students. The illustrations are a combination of photographs, sketches, essays, and bubbled comments, primarily by Ms. Frizzle’s students. Students will easily interact with the non-fiction text, teacher Frizzle, her students, and the illustrations. (DLN)

Khan, Rukhsana, 2013. King for a day. Lee & Low Books. 32pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-60060-659-5. Illustrated by Christiane Kromer.

The spring festival in Lahore, Pakistan attracts crowds of kite enthusiasts. Kites of all sizes and shapes wage battles to become king of the festival. Malik skillfully maneuvers his kite from a rooftop perch in his wheelchair. His kite, Falcon, may be small, but it is built for speed. Malik hopes to defeat the bully whose huge kite, Goliath, cost a fortune to make. Three cheers for the illustrator who brings the vibrant kites designs and the festival to life. Ages 8 – 10 will revel in this drama. (KKG) 

Lidchi, Henrietta. 2015. Surviving desires: Making and selling Native jewellery in the American Southwest. University of Oklahoma Press. 272pp. $34.95 paper. ISBN 978-0-8061-4850-2.

Surviving Desires tells of jewelry as art, craft, material culture, commodity, and decoration and the constant transition of the medium with a history of forces trying to control the style, materials, production, distribution, and value, such as, government agencies, entrepreneurs, traders, curators, Native American communities, and collectors. Lidchi examines the arena of British collecting and shares mini-biographies of a number contemporary Southwestern Native artists along with representative photographs of their work. (DLN) 

Lies, Brian. 2014. Bats in the band. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0544105690.

Bats waking from hibernation are hungry, but as they start to search for food, they also crave sound because they have been silent too long. The bats locate a theatre after hours and each bat finds an instrument to play, either real or improvised, like a comb. In rhyming verses, the evening of bat music unfolds – a choir, string quartet, one-bat band, country, folk, blues, rock, and lots of dancing. When the evening is “gong,” the bats head home but hear music in everything, from the “roar of a car “ to “the bark of a pup.” Youngsters, ages 3-8, may be more in tune to the beats of their hearts, the rhythms of their day, and music in everything after they read Bats in the Band. (DLN) 

​Lorbiecki, Marybeth. 2014. The prairie that nature built. Dawn Publications. 32pp. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-58469-492-2. Illustrated by Cathy Morrison.

Children ages 4-10 will appreciate the beauty and complexity of the prairie after reading this cumulative and cyclical story. The rhyme and rhythm of the verses flow and move much like the prairie plants and animals they describe. Illustrations are complex and depict the natural colors of the prairie plants and animals. (DLN) 

Mack, W.C. 2013. Athlete vs. mathlete. Bloomsbury Publishing (Children’s Books). 208pp. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-858-8.

Owen the jock nand Russell the brain are twins. Conflict arises when the new basketball coach wants Russell for the basketball team. Owen struggles to keep his own spot on the team and remain faithful to his brother. Russell would rather compete in the Masters of the Mind Club than practice shooting hoops. This clever novel written from the brothers’ perspectives will attract boys ages ten and older. How will the competition play out? (KKG) 

Maetani, Valynne, E. 2015. Ink and ashes. Lee & Low Books (Tu Books). 368 pages. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-62014-211-0.

Although set in the present, events and conflicts from the past influence the lives and interpersonal relationships among Claire’s friends and family and associates of her deceased father. Males and females ages 12 and up who are interested in complex, intriguing mysteries, will appreciate this engaging novel reflecting Japanese traditions and the challenges of living with the past without repeating it. (DLN) 

Martin, Ricky. 2013. Santiago the dreamer in land among the stars. Penguin Random House LLC (Celebra Children’s Books). 32 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-451-41571-4. Illustrated by Patricia Castelo.

Santiago dreams of performing on stage, but when he auditions for the school play and does not make it into the cast, he begins to doubt his abilities. Santiago’s father encourages him to follow his passion for performance and never give up. Santiago decides to pursue his dream by continuing to practice for the play while doing chores and studying. The morning of the play, the lead actor loses his voice and can’t perform. Santiago steps in without hesitation and performs, to the surprise of everyone. A wonderful story about a boy who follows his heart and a parent who believes in his son’s abilities. Beautifully illustrated. Recommended for grades 2-5. (BNS) 

McGovern, Cammie. 2014. Say what you will. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen). 343pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227110-5.

Relationships, particularly those which occur in late adolescence and early adult years, can be based on a cheerful façade which has no bearing on reality. In Say What You Will, Matthew and Amy remember each other from their early years in school and develop romantic feelings toward each other, which they choose to hide. What the two learn as they try to “help” one another turns into something that neither expected. They discover it is possible to love someone for selfless reasons and still not be satisfied because of a dependence not discovered until later in a relationship. This is not a disaster unless the pursuit of elusive affections becomes an obsession. A very well written thoroughly researched novel. Highly recommended for young adults. (BNS) 

McMann, Lisa. 2014. The unwanteds: island of legends. Simon and Schuster (Aladdin). 478pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-9328-5.

The Unwanteds series has been marketed as “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter,” following a boy named Alex who is labeled “Unwanted” by his community and is taken into the magical world of Artimé. In the 4th installment of the series, Alex is now a young mage, and the book starts off immediately after Book Three’s conclusion. Readers who are new to the series will want to start at the beginning, but fans of the series so far will be on the edge of their seats as Alex ventures to an island to rescue his friend Sky’s mother. Fans of the series may be frustrated by the cliffhanger ending, but with three more books in store, there is promise of plenty more adventure. Recommended for fantasy fans ages 10 and up. (MC) 

McPherson, Robert S. 2014. Viewing the ancestors: Perceptions of the Anaasází, Mokwič, and Hisatsinom. University of Oklahoma Press. 256pp. $34.95. ISBN 978-0906144290.

Robert McPherson, author and scholar of multiple books about Southwest Native lands and people, including Under the Eagle: Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker (with Samuel Holiday), Navajo Tradition, and Mormon Life: The Autobiography and Teaching of Jim Dandy, writes yet another outstanding book about places, people, and the oral traditions of the Anaasází. McPherson recognizes the value of archaeological interpretations and perspectives of Southwestern artifacts, such as the ruins in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, but he suggests their findings are limited and do not tell the whole story about the people and relationships among the people, past and present. He suggests information and knowledge from the oral traditions of the people, along with the archaeological evidence paints a more comprehensive picture of the past. (DLN) 

Meddaugh, Susan. 2013. Martha speaks: Funny bones: Jokes and riddles. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-547-86579-9.

Martha, the talking dog, is telling jokes. Children will recognize this beloved canine character from PBS and from the series of books. Beginning readers will giggle over these silly riddles and challenge friends with the matching game on the final page. (KKG) 

Messner, Kate. 2015. Ranger in time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail. Scholastic Inc. $5.99. 144pp. ISBN 978-0545639149. Illustrated by Kelley McMorris.

The Ranger in Time series combines the genres of time travel, adventure, and history within the context of a leveled reader. In this case, the assigned reading level is grade four, with an appeal to youngsters 7–10. Even though Ranger, a golden retriever, fails his search and rescue course in 2015, he performs heroic search and rescue acts when he travels back to other eral. Ranger is smart, brave, curious and loyal, making him the ideal working pet. (DLN)

Meyer, Eileen R. 2015. Sweet dreams, wild animals! A story of sleep. Mountain Press Publishing Company. 32 pp. $12.00. ISBN 978-0-87842-637-9. Illustrated by Laurie Caple.

Poems with rhyming verses introduce the animals and their sleeping behaviors and habitats. Children and adults will learn the various sleeping habits of fourteen different animals including the, koala, fish, grizzly bear, and giraffe. Informative natural history notes and descriptive, colorful illustrations augment the poems in this nonfiction picture book. Sweet Dreams makes a bedtime story for sleepy youngsters, or a good addition to a classroom or library collection of animal informational texts. (DLN) 

Mitchell, Saundra. 2014. Mistwalker. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 310 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-85315-4.

Saundra Mitchell brings a New England fishing community to life in this story of grief, magic, and second chances. Willa is about to graduate high school, but her lifelong plans of carrying on the family tradition of fishing have been ruined, and her family is still reeling from her brother’s murder on the family lobster boat. Directionless and grieving, Willa begins having encounters with someone she’s only heard about in legend: The Grey Man. Some chapters are told from Willa’s perspective, and others from the Grey Man. The supernatural element in the story fits the foggy atmosphere of the town’s culture, and the legend surrounding the Grey Man feels simultaneously unique and like a well-known urban legend. With strong writing, a dynamic main character, and an interesting story, Mistwalker is recommended for teenage readers looking for a somewhat spooky tale with realistic elements. (MC) 

Moberg, Julia. 2015. Historical Animals: The dogs, cats, horses, snomes, goats, rats,dragons, bears, elephants, rabbits , and some other creatures that changed the world. Charlesbridge (imagine!). 91pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-62354-048-7. Illustrated by Jeff Albrecht Studios.

Historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Alexander Graham Bell have left a legacy and are recognized as progressive, talented, and innovative. Rarely is credit given to the environment and the population which surrounded these famous people. Historical Animals creates a different point of view as true stories about animals give history a different twist. Questions and historical stats will give the reader an opportunity to explore more than just commonly known facts. A section about famous animals will give the reader a different point of view. Horses, monkeys, sheep, and other animals each have their own stat revealed in a way a young reader can understand. The association with people can be deceptive as the title of the book relates to animals. The book is a very fine educational tool for older beginners age 10+. (BNS) 

Napoli, Donna Jo. 2013. A single pearl. Disney Book Group (Hyperion). 32pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-142314557-8. Illustrated by Jim LaMarche.

A single grain of sand may feel worthless in the vast ocean. Given the right circumstances, that grain of sand becomes a glorious pearl worth bags of money. It is loved by a young princess and feels great joy. This eloquent story emphasizes the significance of even a grain of sand. Stunning illustrations draw young readers to the sea. This book is a gemstone. (KKG) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2014. Lulu and the witch baby. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 48 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-230517-6. Illustrated by Bella Sinclair.

This Level 2 “I Can Read” book is a variation of O’Connor’s original Lulu and the Witch Baby published in 1986. Lulu is still jealous of her baby sister and would like her to disappear because she believes people adore the “witch baby” and prefer the toddler to Lulu. The major difference between the 1986 book and the 2014 version is the vocabulary, which conforms to the standards of a level 2 book, and provides a high interest story for developing readers. (DLN) 

O’Connor, Jane. 2014. Fancy Nancy and the wedding of the century. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 32 pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-06-208319-7. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

Fancy Nancy is excited about going to her uncle’s wedding. She fantasizes about attending a very fancy, traditional wedding with herself as the flower girl. To her disappointment, her parents’ car pulls up to a log cabin on a lake and she finds out that her uncle and his fiance have planned an informal, non-traditional wedding with no flower girl. But when Nancy meets Dawn, the fiance, she has a great time helping her collect something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. By the time the wedding is over, Nancy decides that non-traditional weddings are the most glorious of all.

This is a fun picture book about a well-known children’s book character. It is definitely a read-to-me book, unlike the easy readers about Nancy that most primary age children are familiar with. The busy pictures are very upbeat. Words and pictures work together to relay the excitement of both traditional and nontraditional weddings. Even little boys would enjoy this book through ages six or seven. (JS) 

Olson, Gordon L. (2014). The notorious Isaac Earl and his scouts: Union soldiers, prisoners, spies. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 311 pp. $22.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-6801-5.

The exceptional research of Gordon Olson supports the unique and dangerous activities of a group of special scouts led by Lieutenant Isaac Newton in the eastern territory of the Civil War. While detailed, the text is readable and quite exciting, even if one has marginal knowledge about the Civil War. Earl and his scouts kept the Mississippi river open for the Union Army, but also spied, arrested Rebel smugglers and guerrillas, and confiscated thousands of dollars in money and goods. Even though Earl’s life ended tragically, readers will remember his heroic and daring deeds. (DLN) 

Orloff, Erica. 2011. Illuminated. Penguin Random House LLC (Speak). 244pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-14-241376-0.

The plot of Illuminated resembles that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Similar romances have occurred throughout history, and Illuminated uses two people, Callie and August to draw on another parallel, Heloise and Abelard. When Callie discovers an antique book and a hidden diary, the lives of the young people take on a mysterious twist. The attraction between Callie and August is apparent, and they seem to read each other’s dreams. The accurate description of the Catholic church’s involvement with the Nazis during World War II depicts the atrocities rendered toward women and children. A very fast and enjoyable read. Those who like the combination of history at different levels will enjoy this book. (BNS) 

Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia means business. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 149pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209497-1. Illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Amelia Bedelia wants to earn money to buy a new bike. Her multiple attempts fall short until she enters the bike parade. This chapter book series written by Peggy Parish’s nephew does not compare to the original picture books. The idioms are overdone and distract from the story line. Amelia Bedelia’s silly humor just cannot be replicated. (KKG) 

Parish, Herman. 2013. Amelia Bedelia unleashed. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books). 146pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-209500-8. Illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Amelia’s parents are letting her have a dog. Before she chooses her new puppy, she helps Diana with her dog-walking business and participates in the dog show. This simple story is book number 2 in the series by Peggy Parish’s nephew. The little girl in this story bares no resemblance to the Amelia Bedelia children have treasured for decades. (KKG)

Paquette, Ammi-Joan. 2013. Petey and Pru and the hullabaloo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 40pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-03888-2. Illustrated by Joy Ang.

When Pru’s tricky plan disturbs Petey’s afternoon, matters escalate into a hullabaloo of cats, dogs, water and trouble. This adventure is packed with fascinating words children will love to read and learn. The story’s shenanigans end with a friendship moral. The inside cover defines words like brouhaha, kerfuffle, serendipity, and cacophony for curious minds who haven’t decoded the meaning from the vivid illustrations. Readers age 8-10 will relish the challenge. (KKG) 

Pilkey, Dav. 2015. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot vs. the stupid stinkbugs from Saturn: Book 6. Scholastic Inc. 128 pp. $ 5.99. ISBN 978-0545630146. Art by Dan Santat.

Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot vs. the Jurassic jackrabbits from Jupiter: Book 5. Scholastic Inc. 128 pp. $ 5.99. ISBN 978-0545630139. Art by Dan Santat.

Fans of Ricky Ricotta and his mighty robot will welcome books 5 and 6 in the series. The format is familiar, text with colorful graphics and a few mini-comics. While the target audience of the series is children 4–8 years old, older readers interested in science fiction and the ‘flip-o-rama’ style will welcome the two latest books in the series. (DLN) 

Pinkham, Allen V. and Steven R. Evans. 2013. Lewis and Clark among the Nez Perce: Strangers in the land of Nimíipuu. The Dakota Institute Press of the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation. 299 pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-9834059-8-6.

The phenomenal trek of Lewis and Clark from St. Charles Missouri to Astoria on the Pacific Coast is documented and explained in this inclusive, detailed account of their experiences. In addition to presenting the history from different perspectives, the authors insert narratives from the oral tradition of the Nez Perce, including Monster and Coyote, How Cut Nose Received his Name, and The First Nimíipuu. The end notes complement the text, including photographs and brief biographies of the Nez Perce interviewed for the book, a glossary of Nimíipuu words, journals, references, and a comprehensive index. Highly recommended for research libraries and individuals interested in the Nez Perce and/or the Lewis and Clark expedition, 14 May 1804 and 23 September 1806. Interested readers should include people owning or appreciating the Kaya books and doll of The American Girl series. (DLN) 

Piper, Watty. 2015. The Little Engine that could: An abridged edition.Penguin Random House LLC (Philomel Books). 32 pages. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-399-17387-5 (1930). New art by Loren Long.

Thousands, perhaps millions of readers easily associate the refrain, “I think I can – I think I can – I think I can – I think I can” with the little engine, a classic childhood character. Thankfully, the board book edition is one youngsters can easily control, with thick, durable pages. The characters, setting, and themes will resonate with contemporary readers because everyone wants to “reach the top of the mountain” (page 29 unnumbered). (DLN) 

Platt, Cynthia. 2015. Margret and H. A. Rey’s where is Curious George? A look – and – find book: Around the town. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-544-38072-1. Illustrations in the style of H. A. Rey by Greg Paprocki.

Caregivers and teachers of youngsters ages 3–8, may promote various language and cognitive skills, including observation and identification, as they share this book with children. George is relatively easy to find in each scene but young readers will learn more than locating the mischievous monkey as they also focus their attention on the different parts of town, such as a playground, a fire station, a farmer’s market, and finally a bedroom just before bedtime. (DLN) 

Prineas, Sarah. Moonkind. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 261pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-192109-4.

Moonkind is the final book in Prineas’s Winterling trilogy. It follows the consequences of Fer’s decision to ban the Lords and Ladies of the land to stop using glamorie, a deceptive magic. Not everyone obeys, however, and soon Fer is facing a problem called the “stilth,” which sweeps the land causing stagnancy and death everywhere. Fer tries to make the right decisions in a complicated situation, but she discovers that a solution won’t be easy. Her bravery, resourcefulness, and flaws make her a loveable character, and this last book in the trilogy contains the friendship and adventure that readers have come to expect from the series. Recommended for upper-elementary fantasy fans. (MC) 

Raczka, Bob, 2014. Joy in Mudville. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 32 pp. $17.95 ISBN 978-0-76-13-6015-5. Illustrated by Glin Dibley.

Everyone knows what happened in Mudville when Casey struck out, but what about the next day at the ball park? In the bottom of the ninth, a rookie pitcher name Joy took the mound. How could a girl possibly play well enough to restore happiness? This clever rhyming recount will entice readers with every play. What could Joy do next? A surprise ending and eye-catching illustrations will score with young baseball lovers. The original poem is included at the end of the book. (KKG) 

Reger Rob. Emily the Strange: Dark times. 2011. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 226pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-145235-2.

Emily is 13 years old. She would rather live within her own created world than go to school or do homework. She imagines that she will become the Evil Overlord of the Universe, that is if she feels like it. She and her co conspirator Caleb find living in their “psychic” present is much more to their liking. Emily and Strange: Dark Times explores the idea that young adolescents often find a pleasant diversion from everyday lives through imagination and acknowledges that discerning the difference between imagination and real life can sometimes become difficult. A good creative read for parents and young teens. (BNS) 

Richardson, Justin & Parnell, Peter. 2015. And Tango makes three (10th anniversary edition). Simon & Schuster. $17.99. 32pp. ISBN 978-1481449946 (2005). Illustrated by Henry Cole.

Based on a factual event in the Central Park Zoo in New York City, And Tango Makes Three is a substantive picture story book promoting personal and social development among all readers, including the targeted audience of children ages 4–8. Tango is a chinstrap female penguin with two parents, Silo and Roy, a same-sex chinstrap couple. The story of this loving partnership and family is endearing and enduring, one all teachers and caregivers should include in discussions about families. (DLN) 

Ringgold, Faith. 2015. Harlem Renaissance. HarperCollins Publishing (Armistad). 40 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-057911-1.

In this engaging read, readers of all ages, including the targeted grades of 2–4, will be introduced to distinguished and notable personalities of the Harlem Renaissance (1930s). Although the individuals are described in fairly general terms, readers will learn about their contributions to art, music, theatre, dance, sports, and literature. People mentioned in the book include Langston Hughes, Jack Johnson, Marcus Garvey, and W. E. B. DuBois, among others. The colorful illustrations outlined with bold black lines reinforce the characteristics of the variety of notable people of the Harlem Renaissance (1930). (DLN) 

Roat, Sharon Huss. 2015. Between the notes. HarperCollins Publishers. 400pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-229172-1.

In Between the Notes, Ivy Emerson and her family are moving from an affluent neighborhood to an impoverished one. Readers, ages 12 and up, may find Ivy’s initial response to the move childish, selfish, discriminating, prejudicial, and trite, but will rejoice as she develops into a thoughtful, caring, wise young woman. Eventually, Ivy discovers the value of authentic, honest friend and family relationships. One dominant thread in this tale is Ivy’s unique musical ability, specifically, playing the piano, which contributes to Ivy’s personality, talents, and growth. (DLN) 

Rubin, Susan Goldman. 2015. Music was it: Young Leonard Bernstein. Charlesbridge. 178pp $12.95. ISBN 978-1-58989-345-9.

The influence Leonard Bernstein had on the American music scene was unprecedented in our history. What is not well known is that his father did not want him to follow the musical path which became his destiny. This book contains a well documented life story about one of America’s most prolific composers/conductors. Most impressive, however, is the insistence of Bernstein to follow his heart. The book is an easy read and contains a powerful lesson for all to follow their dreams. (BNS) 

Sassy toy company. 2014. Baby’s abc. Penguin Random House LLC (Grosset & Dunlap). 36 pp. ISBN 978-0-448-48207-1.

Multiple colorful objects and words beginning with each letter of the alphabet surround the upper and lower case letters on the pages of Baby’s ABC. A handful of letters (B, C, M, P, S, and T) command full-page spreads with twice as many objects as other letters on single pages. Objects (but not all colors) closely resemble the real item, e.g. a bird on the “B” pages looks like a bird and with some imagination, the ant on the “A” page resembles an ant. (DLN) 

Salerni, Dianne K. 2014. The eighth day. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 309 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-227215-7.

After Jax turns 13, he discovers an 8th day in between Wednesday and Thursday. He soon learns that only certain people have the power to experience this secret day, including his unreliable young guardian, Riley. Jax also meets Evangeline, a mysterious girl who only lives in the 8th day. The extra day, which at first seems like a gift to Jax, is more complicated and dangerous than he estimated. Jax discovers he has a power passed down by his family, but so do others who want to eliminate the other 7 days entirely. Jax must protect Evangeline and work with Riley to stop nefarious magic. The magic in the story is rooted in Arthurian legend, bringing it to the modern day. Told alternately in Jax’s and Evangeline’s voice, the story moves ahead at a fast clip, serving as an entertaining, adventurous tale. (MC)

Schindler, S.D.. 2013. Spike & Ike take a hike. Penguin Random House LLC. (Nancy Paulsen Books). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24495-7.

Schindler uses rhyme and alliteration to tell this simple story of two animal friends going on a hike to find food. Each page adds adjectives to describe the noun from the page before. We see Spike and Ike travel through a “soggy big,” which becomes a “soggy buggy bog,” and eventually a “soggy, froggy buggy bog” as well as many other captivating and amusing locations that they must cross in search of food. Spike and Ike talk in speech balloons as they interact with other animals on their journey. Charming illustrations will entice young children to look through this picture book. (KKG) 

Schmidt, Gary D. 2015. Orbiting Jupiter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books) $17.99. 192pp. ISBN 978-0-544-46222-9.

Author of multiple books for young adults including Okay for now, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, and The Wednesday wars, Gary D. Schmidt presents readers with yet another stellar, credible contemporary realistic novel in Orbiting Jupiter. Although the critical conflicts may upset readers at times, they are credible and the main characters are interesting and approachable despite being desperate at times. This story is highly recommended for young adults ages 12 and older, parents, foster parents, teachers, and social workers. (DLN)

Schneider, Josh. 2015. Everybody sleeps (but not Fred). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-33924-8.

Fred is too busy to sleep. He has an imaginary list of things to complete and simply has no time for sleep. The rhyming verse and vivid, colorful illustrations convey Fred’s lively imagination and the frustration of the other sleepy animals. Eventually, Fred, like all youngsters, falls asleep, but readers are asked to “close (the) book softly or Fred will wake up and start all over again.” Youngsters ages 3 – 8 will hope Fred does start all over again will be inspired to use their imaginations. (DLN) 

Silverstein, Shel. 2014. Don’t bump the glump! And other fantasies. HarperCollins Publishers. 64pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-149338-6.

Shel Silverstein’s first poetry collection originally published in 1964 is now available to a whole new generation of poetry lovers. His illustrations of pointy-peaked pavarius, slithergadee, terrible fezus, and wild cherote jump from the pages in his only full colored picture book. Poems like “There’s a Glitchen In My Kitchen” and “Glub-Toothed Slime” will have children begging for more. Consider adding this one to your Silverstein collection. (KKG) 

Smith Jr., Charles R. 2013. I am the world. Simon and Schuster (Atheneum). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-2302-2.

With bright photographs and simple “I am” statements this book attempts to celebrate different heritages. Poet Charles R. Smith Jr. lists cultures, foods, fabrics, dances, and languages of the world. Smith crams too much information into this 48 page book. This book is not recommended as teachers and parents can find books with similar information that will be more accessible to children. (KKG) 

Stier, Catherine. 2013. What’s Bugging Nurse Penny?: a story about lice. Albert Whitman & Company. 32 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-8803-1. Illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

Lice is an unlikely topic for a light-hearted upbeat children’s book. What’s Bugging Nurse Penny? by Catherine Stier manages to handle this sometimes stigmatized topic. Readers learn by the example of Nurse Penny that having lice can happen to anyone, even the school nurse, and that education is the best medicine to decrease any embarrassment this condition causes. The author tackles the biology, history, transmission, treatment, and myths surrounding lice in this book for elementary aged children. The word choice occasionally seem forced but does introduce new vocabulary in a playful manner. What’s Bugging Nurse Penny? would be an especially useful addition to classroom libraries or medical waiting rooms. (PAS) 

Stoeke, Janet Morgan. 2013. The loopy coop hens: Letting go. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3768-6.

There is a mystery to solve at Loopy Coop Farm. Who is throwing apples from the tree? Even though the other hens are scared, Dot decides to investigate. This story contains two lessons – one about apples and the one about learning to let go. Beginning readers can read this book themselves and will enjoy the comical illustrations of the hens. (KKG) 

Sullivan, Martha. 2015. Pitter and Patter. Dawn Publications. 32 pp. $8.95. ISBN 1-58469-509-7. Illustrated by Cathy Morrison.

The water cycle is clearly explained and illustrated through the personification of two raindrops, Pitter and Patter. The raindrops meet different animals as they move through the cycle. Readers ages 3-10 may recognize the animals, such as, a squirrel, a blue jay, a caterpillar, a crayfish, and a seal. End notes of the water cycle in a watershed provide facts supporting the journey of Pitter and Patter. (DLN) 

Surplice, Holly. 2013. Peek-a-boo bunny. HarperCollins Publisher (Harper). 32pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-224265-5.

Bunny plays hide and seek with his animal friends, but finds the game very challenging. He expends quite a bit of energy as he jumps, runs, hops, balances, and stretches during his fruitless search. After he becomes discouraged, his friends appear and his frown turns back into a smile.
Starting with the colorful end pages, children will enjoy the gorgeous springtime illustrations. The large print will enable beginning readers to look for and identify words they know. Pre-schoolers will have fun spotting the animals hiding in the pictures that Bunny cannot see. The simple rhyme of this story will invite young children to chime in after they have heard it a few times. What a great story for preschoolers to dramatize! (JS) 

Urban, Linda. 2015. Milo Speck: Accidental agent. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $16.99. 304pp. ISBN 978-0-544-41951-3. Illustrated by Mariano Epelbaum.

“Sometimes doing what can be done also means recognizing what can’t – at least, not on your own” (p. 210). Readers ages 9–12 (grades 4–7) annoyed with clothes dryers “eating” their socks may identify with the opening scenario of a young male, Milo, sucked from his home by a clothes dryer to Ogregon, a land of interesting (although malicious) Ogres, enormous turkeys, and desperate children hoping to return home. Surviving Orgregon, Milo hope to locate his missing father, and foil an Ogre plot to make snack food from children around the world. (DLN) 

Van Biesen, Koen. 2015. Roger is reading a book. Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company (Eerdmans Eerdmans Books for Young Readers). 42 pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-8028-5442-1 (2013).

Roger is trying to read a book, but on the other side of the wall Emily is bouncing a basketball. When Roger knocks on the wall, requesting peace and quiet to continue reading, Emily stops bouncing the ball, but begins to sing. This exchange continues until Roger decides to give Emily a gift – a book. All is quiet because Emily and Roger are happily reading their books, until the basset decides it is time for a walk and barks loudly, disturbing Emily and Roger. The conclusion of two new friends walking a dog in a rainstorm is enchanting. While intended for children ages 4–8, grownups will also connect with his desire for a quiet space to read. (DLN) 

Vernick, Audrey. 2011. Water balloon. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books). 312pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-547-59554-2.

Marley is stressed as any teenager can be. Parents separating, a troublesome relationship with her best friend, and perhaps the worst summer job ever are causing Marley to begin to question her relationships. This story follows Marley as she tries to cope with all these changes and begins feeling as though “something has to give.” When a boy appears on the scene, suddenly Marley becomes interested in baseball, and the opportunity for romance arises, but with it comes the opportunity for humiliation and false signals. As all of these changes swirl around Marley, can she adjust? A good read for teenagers facing similar challenges. (BNS) 

Wegman, William. 2014. Penguin young readers, level 2: Farm days. Penguin Random House Group LLC (Penguin Young Readers). 32 pp. $3.99 paper, ISBN 978-0-448-48230-9.

Ritchey, Kate. 2015. Penguin young readers, level 4: Lion, tiger, and bear. Penguin Random House Group LLC. 32 pp. $3.99. ISBN 978-0-448-48336-8. Photographs from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.

Two leveled readers, one level 2, and one level 4, conform to the standards developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell (1999). Artist William Wegman creates a number of photographic compositions about farm life using Weimaraners in various farm clothing and poses in Farm Days. The photographs and the rescue of three abused wild cubs are the most compelling features of the level 4 (fluent reader), Lion, Tiger, and Bear. Three unlikely friends in the wild are inseparable at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia. (DLN)

Whitby, Adele. 2014. Secrets of the manor: Beth’s story, 1914. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 160pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-0632-1.

This period mystery centers on young Beth Vandermeer and her approaching birthday, when she will receive the Elizabeth Necklace, a family heirloom from her great-grandmother. Beth finds a secret journal that makes her great-grandmother’s past more confusing and mysterious, but amidst all of the excitement, the necklace is stolen, and it’s up to Beth to find the culprit. The story functions less as an engaging mystery and more as a sort of Downton Abbey for elementary school readers. Girls in grades 2-4 may enjoy the lavish setting and the thrill of reading about a different time period, but don’t look for anything too historically substantive here. (MC)

Whitby, Adele. 2014. Secrets of the manor: Kate’s story, 1914. Simon & Schuster (Simon Spotlight). 160pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-0635-2.

The second installment of the Secrets of the Manor series focuses on Kate, Beth’s American cousin. Kate is about to receive the Katherine Necklace, and Beth will be there to visit. When Beth shares the mysterious journal she found in England, the cousins begin to unravel the mystery of their twin great-grandmothers, Elizabeth and Katherine. When World War I breaks out, however, the cousins are forced apart. Readers in grades 2-4 who enjoyed the first book in the series will appreciate the deepening plot, both amidst the main characters’ personal lives and the larger historical conflict in the background. (MC) 

Woelfle, Gretchen. 2014. Mumbet’s declaration of independence. Lerner Publishing Group (Carolrhoda Books). 32 pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-6589-1. Illustrated by Alix Delinois.

All men are born free and equal according to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Colonel Ashley’s slave, Mumbet, was determined to have the same rights of freedom. With the help of a young lawyer, Mumbet stood up to her wealthy owner to gain independence from slavery. This true story depicts how the courage of one woman changed the future for five thousand slaves in Massachusetts. Add this title to any elementary study of black history in the United States. (KKG) 

Wolff, Ashley. 2014. Baby Bear sees blue. Simon and Schuster (Little Simon). 42 pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-1503-3.

First published in 2012 as a picture storybook, Simon and Schuster has now issued this tale in the format of a board book, suitable for small hands and curious minds. The relationship between Baby Bear and Mama Bear is endearing as mama gently introduces her cub to objects, colors and an occasional scent or feeling. The sun is yellow, the oak, green; the jays blue; the trout, brown; strawberries are red, and the sky during a thunderstorm is gray. At the end of the storm there is a colorful rainbow, and at the end of the day, Baby Bear falls asleep, seeing only “deep, soft black.” (DLN) 

Wood, Douglas. 2013. When a dad says “I love you”. Simon and Schuster (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-6589-87532-8. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.

There are many ways to say “I love you.” A wide variety of animal dads say it in many unusual ways – making pancakes, singing “You are My Sunshine”, feeling your muscles, pulling a quarter out of your ear and more. Preschool children will giggle at the pictures and want to hear all the ways to say “I love you” over and over. (KKG) 

Yankovic, Al. 2013. My New Teacher and Me!. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper). 40pp. $17.99. 978-0-06-219203-5. Illustrated by Wes Hargis.

Billy, excited for the first day of school, wonders who his new teacher will be. When Mr. Booth walks into the room, Billy begins expounding on all the amazing things that happen in his life. Mr. Booth immediately points out how unlikely it is that these adventures could really happen. But when Mr. Booth finds a photo that gives proof to one of Billy’s tall tales, his attitude changes.

The rather wacky illustrations are imaginative and bursting with detail. The story is told through rhyming couplets – fun to read or listen to. The book could easily be used to spark a discussion about the fact that not only do students learn from their teachers, but teachers also learn from their students. Recommended for children ages 5-7. (JS) 

Yee, Wong Herbert. 2013. Mouse and Mole: secret valentine. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-547-88719-7.

In this cheerful story, Mouse and Mole get together to make valentines for their friends. Mouse and Mole both get butterflies in their stomachs when they’re around each other, but they keep it a secret from each other. This sweet, short book is simply written for easy reading. Even though there are four chapters, the book is less than 50 pages and has plenty of charming watercolor illustrations. The book also includes illustrated step-by-step instructions for a Valentine’s card in the back. Recommended for early readers looking for a Valentine’s Day-themed story. (MC) 

Yohalem, Eve. 2015. Cast off: The strange adventure of Petra De Winter and Bram Broen. Penguin Random House LLC (Dial). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42856-5.

In The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, a twelve year old named Petra disguises herself as a boy on a Dutch merchant ship sailing for the East Indies. In 1663, life is cruel and difficult for Petra and Bram, a young boy of mixed race whose father is the ship’s carpenter. Given Petra’s age, it is difficult to believe she can survive in her disguise, but the relationship between Petra and Bram is credible. The setting of this tale is also is extremely credible, giving the story historical context, setting the mood, even acting as an antagonist; developed with precise, descriptive language, a map, and a diagram of a ship called the Golden Lion. Told in alternate voices of Petra and Bram, Cast Off will appeal to readers ages 10 and up who are fond of historical novels with a sense of adventure. (DLN) 

Yolen, Jane. 2015. How do dinosaurs stay safe?. Scholastic Inc. (The Blue Sky Press). 40 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0439241045. Illustrated by Mark Teague.

Safety among children is critical, yet introducing youngsters to rules is a challenge. Caregivers will appreciate this delightful story, didactic, yes, but interesting and engaging as it presents safety rules for young children ages 2–6. The illustrations convey the tragic effects of climbing to high on a ladder, jumping on beds, racing on a bike without a helmet, standing chairs while terrorizing the cat, running down stairs, and flying off rooftops. Pictures also transmit the positive effects of following rules to keep dinosaurs, aka, children safe without teaching them to fear life. (DLN) 

Zettel, Sarah. 2013. Palace of spies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 368pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-544-07411-8.

Peggy Fitzroy is a lady of many talents. Peggy’s personality is lively and charming, but she remains a disappointment to her uncle. Her appearance is unlike most girls, and her speech is frank and loud. This was tolerated until Peggy refuses to marry the man chosen for her by her uncle. Now, Peggy is cast out, and has to find a means of support. She agrees to impersonate a lady in waiting in the court of King George I. The real lady in waiting died supposedly from natural causes. Peggy does well at court until she suspects that something dreadful happened to the lady she is impersonating. The novel is full of intrigue, deception, expectation, and surprising family connections. A great example of how life can evolve even under the most oppressive circumstances. Peggy’s determination and honesty provide a wonderful role model for all young people. (BNS)

Zullo, Allen. 2015. 10 true tales: FBI heroes. Scholastic Inc. 128 pp. $ 5.99. 160 pages. ISBN 978-0-545-81812-4 (2013).

Fascinating true stories in FBI Heroes will captivate readers in grades 3 – 7. The ten stories in this Zullo collection include: The Case of the Dallas Terrorist, The Case of the Baby Yair Kidnapping, The Case of the Stolen Moon Rocks, and The Case of the Father-Son Spy Team. As stated by the author, readers will understand the mantra of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “fidelity, bravery, and integrity” (p. ix), as they read each case. (DLN)