Max has made a soap box derby car that looks like a snail, but is apprehensive about competing with it, sincCopy provided by Young Adult Books Central
Max has made a soap box derby car that looks like a snail, but is apprehensive about competing with it, since it has no brakes! Of course, he suddenly gets whisked to Bug Island, where he has an even scarier problem to solve-- Mexican worm lizards are attacking his friends, the Battle Bugs. Bugs are being hauled underground and never seen again! The team, headed by the titan beetle Barton, set off to rescue the firefly Glower from the snakes. When he returns from Bug Island, Max realizes that racing his soap box car can't be any more frightening than what he has just experienced!
This is a great series for beginning readers who like a lot of action packed into their stories. There are a lot of different bugs and other creatures working together, and I liked that there was information about them scattered throughout the story, as well as some information at the end of the book. "Bioluminesence" is not exactly a vocabulary word for your average first grade student, but when it is worked into the story to explain why glower glows in the dark, it is certainly a concept that children will understand!
The draw of these, of course, is the wandering about in caves with bugs that are Max's size and talk to him. There is a lot of fighting, and occasionally the bugs gets hurt, but Max always comes out unscathed. There is a comforting rhythm to these that make the series appealing-- Max travels to the island, encounters a problem, has difficulty solving it, eventually does, and returns home.
This would make a great animated series for Saturday Morning Cartoons!
In picturesque Bloomville, a small white dog named Lucy lives in a cardboard box in an alleyway. She has a dCopy provided by Young Adult Books Central
In picturesque Bloomville, a small white dog named Lucy lives in a cardboard box in an alleyway. She has a daily routine that involves going across town to get a piece of sausage that drops down from a window on a string. The little girl who provides the breakfast is Eleanor, whose father works in a grocery store but dreams of being a juggler but who freezes in front of crowds. Lucy's day continues with activities and daydreaming of her life before she because homeless. Eleanor's father tries repeatedly to juggle in front of people, but it isn't until Lucy distracts him on stage that he is able to be successful. In the end, Lucy finds a home with the attentive Eleanor.
This is an unusually formatted book. It is essentially a picture book, in that each page has an illustration and two or three sentences of text. It is also 144 pages long. This makes it reminiscent of some older books, like Godden's The Story of Holly and Ivy (illustrated by Adrienne Adams, not the one illustrated by Barbara Cooney) or Heide's The Shrinking of Treehorn. The black and white line illustrations are even somewhat similar, although because of those books I was expecting small pops of red in the scenes, and those never appeared! The length makes it possible to give us several days of Lucy's life, which have a pleasant and predictable rhythm, which makes the change in that rhythm all the more surprising.
This is a book about longing. Lucy longs for a home, Eleanor longs for a dog, and her father longs for a career as a juggler. They all want something different, which makes this achingly bittersweet. I don't know if this will be readily apparent to the average six year old reader, but parents and teachers will certainly pick up on the theme of shattered dreams. This theme might well make this book one that resonates on a deep level with children. I foresee a lot of web searches in 30 years for "that long picture book with the little white dog and the father who juggled snow globes"!...more
Ben's father is a policeman, and when a dog on the force, Hero, is retired, he comes to live with Ben's family.E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Ben's father is a policeman, and when a dog on the force, Hero, is retired, he comes to live with Ben's family. Soon after, the two are out and they find a puppy who is very skittish and beaten. Ben brings the puppy home, and his parents reluctantly acquiesce to his residence in the house until his owners can be found. Ben finds it hard to keep up with the demands of pet ownership, school, and baseball, and lets down his best friend, Noah. The two are suspicious of new kid, Jack, and wonder if he has ties to the dog fighting ring from which they believe the puppy, Scout, has come. Eventually, Scout and Hero go missing, and Ben happens upon the dog fighting ring. The men involved are dangerous, but both Scout and Hero are loyal to Ben and good fighters, so they are soon brought to justice. Strengths: Great cover and length, which are both hugely important to middle grade readers! The story is suspenseful, and Ben's struggles and balancing his responsibilities are real. His family is all alive and supportive, and he has a good friend. Weaknesses: There's nothing terribly fresh here, but since my Jim Kjelgaard books are wearing out badly, this is a good addition to my collection of dog stories. What I really think: This is not great literature, but it is a fast-paced, interesting read that boys who love dogs will adore. ...more
Dev, whose mother is the police commissioner in Ne.w York City, has never known her father, a journalist killedE ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Dev, whose mother is the police commissioner in Ne.w York City, has never known her father, a journalist killed before she was born. She is lucky to have a supportive if quirky grandmother, and her mother has surrounded her with friends. These include an older sister figure, Natasha, who was coerced into coming to the US from Moldava and was saved from men who were brought to justice by Dev's mother; father figure Sam, a fellow policeman; brother figure Booker Dibler, who is African American; and exchange student Liza, who is from South America. When Dev and Liza are in the public library, they see a man steal a page from a valuable map book. Despite their evidence, which includes a fuzzy picture on a phone, Dev's mother is reluctant to devote police resources to their quest, so the girls investigate on their own. This is fairly easy, since they can run around the city by themselves, and Dev's grandmother puts her considerable influence behind them. No one even believes that the map was stolen, but the trio of preteens manages to pull together clues from the Internet and guest lists of lectures, and run the perpetrator to ground, solving map thefts all up and down the East coast. They are honored by the mayor with a key to the city. Strengths: There's an attempt to be multicultural, the scene where the bad guy catches Dev and Liza was decent, and this could be a good choice for readers who enjoy Blue Balliet or other clue oriented mysteries about art thefts. Weaknesses: This read like a book from the 1960s-- the dialogue was very stilted and somehow overly sentimental. Dev is precocious and precious-- she rhapsodizes about her literary friends Pippi Longstocking, the Artful Dodge and Hercule Poirot. Dev and her friends are all fairly privileged, and the multicultural aspect seems forced. What I really think: I don't know that I will purchase this one, mainly because my students who want mysteries want kidnapping or murder stories, not ones about stolen maps. Fairstein is apparently the author of some adult titles-- sometimes people can make the leap (think Rick Riordan!), and sometimes it is less than successful. ...more
Arky and Iris are dealing with the disappearance of their scientist mother in different ways-- Arky is running, and hangingCopy provided by the author
Arky and Iris are dealing with the disappearance of their scientist mother in different ways-- Arky is running, and hanging out with his football playing friends, and Iris spends more and more time playing the antique English horn that her mother left behind with a cryptic note. When Arky's friend Matt is accidentally sent back in time by the power of the musical instrument, the twins have a renewed hope that their mother might return. Matt, of course, is completely shocked to find himself at the Carlisle Indian School in 1907! He meets an ancestor of the twins who explains a little about the time travel to him, and it seems like Matt might be stuck in time until until he mends some of his ways. In the meantime, he meets Jim Thorpe and joins the Carlisle football team. Football in 1907 was very different from what it is today-- and so are the girls, like Tawny Owl, who is not only training to be a nurse but who has an unusual interest in football. While Arky and Iris are trying to figure out how the time travel works, can Matt manage to break away from 1907 in time to return to the present to win the championship football game for his own team?
Strengths: I am excited to give this to my students who only want to read books about football, because it might get them interested in time travel stories or history. There are enough details about football, both past and present, that I didn't understand a lot of it. That is always my rule of thumb for a good sports book! The Carlisle school and institutions like it have appeared in children's literature before, but I've never heard about the football team, so this is a great topic. This is slightly more appropriate for high school (there is a party with some drinking, and a bit coarser language at parts), but nothing that would keep it from being a good choice for middle school students. I am looking forward to the two sequels.
Weaknesses: While the word choices and general description of life at Carlisle might draw some fire from Native American concerns, I think that they are in line with the attitudes and mores of the time and place. Imposing modern sensibilities on historical characters is disingenuous, although I suppose Matt could have complained more about the treatment of Native Americans, although that really wasn't his main concern, nor was it in his character.
What I really think: It's too bad that this is self published, because it will be harder for schools and libraries to get a copy. It's my decided opinion that all historical novels should include football, and this is a fantastic choice for high school and upper middle grade readers who are interested in the sport. If you're leery about self published books, rest assured that Meehl's writing is quite facile and fun to read.
Pair Blowback '07 with this upcoming nonfiction title:
Sheinkin, Steve. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team January 17th 2017 by Roaring Brook Press...more
When his cousin Trap tries to convince Geronimo to go in search of a giant oyster, there's only one thing motivating him-- he could impress Clarissa wWhen his cousin Trap tries to convince Geronimo to go in search of a giant oyster, there's only one thing motivating him-- he could impress Clarissa with his prowess as well as the reward of a bag of pearls. That's enough to compel the Cavemice to venture forth on a grumpy autosaurus to Clearwater Village, fighting off charging mammoths, jumping ants, and stinky sabertooth tigers. Fossilized feta, it's a good thing that Geronimo has some fabumouse motivation. When the group finally arrives in the village to pull the giant oyster out, they are met by Tiger Khan, who generously offers to not pull out any of their whiskers if they give him the pearl. Geronimo decides that the pearl would be safer if left in situ, but luckily, he and the other mice manage to invent glass so that they can enclose the pearl and everyone can still see it. The residents of the village are so pleased that they still give Trap and Geronimo the bag of pearls, and Geronimo impresses Clarissa so much that she gives him a peck on the nose at dinner.
Geronimo is one of those series that is an acquired taste, sort of like Volcanico cheese (sour milk and hot lava peppers). There's not a whole lot of character development, but I find myself looking forward to new cheese flavored interjections, additional threatening animals, and new adventures for the mice to have. The fact that Geronimo is a reporter in most of his historic incarnations is interesting as well.
Historical purists will no doubt take umbrage at lines like "you will be served on a platter ... with Paleozoic onions and Jurassic potatoes as a side dish". Readers in the target demographic will instead focus on the brightly colored text, vibrant pictures of jumping saber tooth tigers, and Geronimo's unabashed yet reluctant enthusiasm for adventuring with his friends. ...more
Rabbit Boy and Moose are hanging out in a meadow when space aliens land. While they don't hurt the two friends, they mCopy received from the publisher
Rabbit Boy and Moose are hanging out in a meadow when space aliens land. While they don't hurt the two friends, they manage to imbue Moose with laser vision before taking off. It's a good thing we have comics, because the aliens only speak in their own tongue. In the second chapter, a factory emits toxic waste into a river, turning an unsuspecting bear into the terror spewing Aquabear, whom Laser Moose must subdue. The final threat is MechaSquirrel who is under the thrall of a cyborg porcupine and tries unsuccessfully to destroy Moose and Rabbit Boy. A few scientific facts enliven the end of the book.
687325Strengths: This was not quite as goofy as The Glorkian Warrrior Eats Adventure Pie, but a bit goofier than Stinky Cecil. I can see a 6-8 year old giggling tremendously over this one, and even middle school students who love comics will enjoy this. It's not the sort of thing that I understand, but the appeal to the target demographic is clear. I can also see lots of Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy role playing in the back yard! Interested to see the sequel.
Weaknesses: I was rather disturbed when Moose accidentally severs a deer's leg, and the deer lops back off into the forest with his leg in his mouth.
What I really think: I now have an overwhelming urge to reread Bernard Wiseman's Morris and Boris books. ...more
Ah. Finding out that original publication date of this was 1994 made so much sense. This read like a much older book-- nonfiction styles have changedAh. Finding out that original publication date of this was 1994 made so much sense. This read like a much older book-- nonfiction styles have changed a lot. This was okay, but the interior black and white illustrations as well as the long narrative style don't make this overly appealing.
In a larger size, with some photographs, sidebars and some color, this would not be bad. Even though I had read about all of the various mistakes, students have not.
Also, Post It notes weren't invented until 1980, which means I didn't even use them in college. Sigh....more
This had more of an adult tone than one that usually appeals to 8th graders, especially the short epilogue. It also felt a lot like the teen fiction fThis had more of an adult tone than one that usually appeals to 8th graders, especially the short epilogue. It also felt a lot like the teen fiction from the 1980s, and the cover goes along with that....more
This picture book starts with very basic information about 9/11 and the plane that was crashed into the towers, and follows the progress of a steel beThis picture book starts with very basic information about 9/11 and the plane that was crashed into the towers, and follows the progress of a steel beam from one of them. This beam was then sent to a foundry and made into the bow of a navy ship. When the ship was partially built, Hurricane Katrina displaced many of the workers and slowed the progress. When it was finally finished, the USS New York sailed back to that city and was then commissioned as a warship.
History is not always pleasant, and there is no way to talk to children about 9/11 without mentioning the fact that thousands of people died. This is a gentle and hopeful way of introducing not only that event but also Hurricane Katrina, and a good way to show that there are ways of making the best of a situation and remembering bad things that have happened.
The art is soft and has soothing colors. The two most upsetting scenes are those of a plane just about to hit one of the towers, and another of smoke billowing from them. The rest show the boat being made or sailing, or people working on it. The illustrations alternate between larger scenes of things like the New York skyline and close ups of people working on the boat or the boat itself.
There is additional information about the U.S.S. New York at the end of the book, but this is more of an overview about one small outcome of 9/11 rather than an informational book about the event itself. It would be a good way to introduce the topic to young children, especially those who are interested in ships. ...more
Copy from Cuyahoga County Public Library Nominated for the Cybils by SMorris
Alice and her father have moved to Kitimat while her mother is staying inCopy from Cuyahoga County Public Library Nominated for the Cybils by SMorris
Alice and her father have moved to Kitimat while her mother is staying in Vancouver to help her grandparents. While Alice deals with Asperger's Syndrome, her father has decided not to tell her new school about her diagnosis, so she gets frequent detentions for skipping gym class, hitting people, and not following the unspoken rules of the school. Also in detention is Megan, who is a tough, Goth dressing girl. When Alice melts down over the wrong bus coming to pick her up, Megan comes to her aid and gets her home. The two form an uneasy friendship, and Megan protects Alice from people at school who don't understand the way she acts. Megan has problems at home, and Alice's father is reluctant for the two to hang out. When Megan decides to run away to Vancouver, Alice follows her despite the difficulties she has with new situations, saving her new friend from making a very bad decision. Strengths: This does a good job of channeling Alice's voice, and is a good addition to books with characters on the autism spectrum. Her voice is distinct, but not overdone, and very typical of many of the students I have seen in our autism unit over the years. The addition of Megan's abusive situation will draw in readers who like this flavor of sad, but I definitely appreciated that this was generally upbeat, and Alice was really trying to understand the world around her and make her way in it. Weaknesses: The formatting is not great- this is available only in paperback or prebind, although Orca has given this one more generous margins than many of their titles. Oddly, my students definitely prefer larger, dust jacketed hardcovers. What I really think: Will definitely purchase. The ending was a bit too deus ex machina for me, and the friendship didn't make a whole lot of sense, but I enjoyed Alice's voice, and the plot drew me in. I think it will find a steady readership in my library. ...more