October 2013 Best of the Best (BOB) Reviews are IN!

Better late than never as they say….our BOB Committee member’s reviews that were written in October are now posted below, in no particular order, for your browsing pleasure. Check back monthly; the newest reviews will be added at the top. And check the sidebar to the right for any breaking news. Looking forward to adding more reviews to this blog. Enjoy!

Yomtov, Nel. How to Write a Comic Book.  Ann Arbor: Cherry Lake Publishing, 2013. 978-1624311871. 24p. $17.95. Gr 2-4
For every student that loves to write, this book is part of a series of Language Arts Explorer. It is concise, straightforward and provides excellent examples. Each page is broken apart in manageable sections and important words are in bold. The activities provided assist a young writer in completing the process. The web links provided for each activity are easy to access, however, are for teachers or adults not children. There are numerous books in this series that provide a straightforward approach to assist children with their writing content and techniques.
741.5: Cartoons, comics                   Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary

Pringle, Laurence. Scorpions! Strange and Wonderful. (Strange and Wonderful series) Illustrated by Meryl Henderson. Honesdale,:Boyd Mills Press, 2013. 978-1-59078-473-0. 32p. $14.46 Gr. 5-7.
Laurence Pringle, well known for a series on naturalists, has written another book on scorpions.  Unlike his previous book Scorpion Man, ,this one deals with the history of scorpions, their behavior and  habitat.  The illustrations by Meryl Henderson are colorful and artistically appealing. This would a good introduction to the subject for the younger reader.  For a more in depth look, try Sandra Markles’ Scorpions from the Arachnid World series. Large photographs and a more scientific approach work well for middle and even high school reports.
595.4  Zoology                Martha Trzepacz      Strath Haven Middle School

All About Myths (series). Chicago: Heinemann Raintree, 2013.  48 p.  $24.00  ea.  Gr. 5-8.
Chambers, Catherine.  African Myths and Legends.  978-1-4109-4971-4.
Chambers, Catherine.  American Indian Stories and Legends.  978-1-4109-5469-5.
How was the world created and why do we act in the way that we do? These universal questions are introduced and answered  in both the African Myths and Legends and American Indian Stories and Legends, from the All About Myths series.  Using colorful  photos of sculptures, statues, architecture, crafts, and paintings within a dynamic visual format organized in short comprehensive information packed chapters, each  section is sprinkled with fact boxes and pictures to break up passages in small font.  Inspired by ancient legends and   myths, the  tales are RETOLD in an abbreviated clear one page format accompanied by an attractive graphic style illustration. American Indian Stories and Legends emphasizes the American Indians’ belief  in the Great Spirit and reverence towards all living things.  African Myths and Legends describes its powerful spiritual beings through their arts and crafts, dance, music and storytelling. Each title covers five  topics of their culture; world creation myths, heroes and villains, and trickster tales. These tales are especially effective in African Myths and Legends, showing the evolution of their stories as they traveled from Africa to America through slave trade.  Finishing with a chapter on Death and Afterlife, and finally the Myths and   Legends Alive chapter describing how these rich cultures are celebrated today.  The back matter includes a Character and Creatures section, glossary,  index , and a “find out more” double page listing books, websites, and places to visit. These two All About Myths titles are valuable resources for both independent reading, or research projects bringing the history of the cultures alive through their rich arts, myths and legends so rarely covered in such detail for 5th-8th grade.     4 star rating
398.2089 Indian  Mythology-North America             Martha Lambertsen,
398.2096 Mythology, African                                      Wallingford Elementary School   

Jakubowski, Michelle. Third Grade Mix-Up (Book 1, Sidney & Sydney Series). New York: Capstone, 2013. 978-1404881044. 128p. $5.00. Gr 2-4.

This series is narrated in alternating chapters by two third graders, a boy and a girl, whose names are nearly identical. Sidney just moved to Oak Grove. On the first day of school, things get kind of awkward when Sydney accidentally sits in his seat and even more weird when her mother invites him and his mom for dinner. The two classmates, one a fashionista, the other a world traveler, find out they actually have a lot in common, including a game called Galaxy Quest. In the second book in the series, their adventures continue as the two, now fast friends, tackle dodge ball, the spelling bee, and the school play!
Realistic                                   Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School

Brezenoff, Steve.  Bites (Ravens Pass series).  North Mankato, MN: Capstone Stone Arch Books, 2013.  978-1-43424617-2. $23.99. Gr. 3 -6.
From this prolific author of easy-to-read contemporary series we have the latest installment in the Ravens Pass series. Each of the 8 stories in the series so far is a stand-alone tale, so the series need not be read in any particular order.  Each Ravens Pass book features a different resident of the spooky town of Ravens Pass, where unexpected things happen. In Bites, Twelve-year-old Collin Bertram and his family have just moved to Ravens Pass, and he is disturbed when his new acquaintance Tucker tells him about the vampire attacks. They set out to solve the mystery of who has been biting numerous classmates and townspeople and the story has a wonderful plot twist conclusion. These books will appeal to your early elementary readers but have enough spookiness and high interest to be suitable for your 4th through 6th grade reluctant readers.
Fantasy, Vampires                      Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Bracken, Beth and Kay Fraser. At the Edge of the Woods (Faerieground series, #5). North Mankato, MN: Capstone Stone Arch Books, 2013.  978-1-4342-4489-5. $22.65. Gr. 5-9.
Another installment in the dark faerie-tale perfect for your tween and teen readers looking for a quick and easy but gripping read; this book is #5 out of 8 so far in the series. Lucy and Soli are best friends who live on the edge of deep and eerie woods. In the first book they set out to explore and Lucy gets lost. Soli comes to find out she has been adopted; that her birth mother is a sinister Faerie Queen who needs to find Soli again to regain her powers. In this book, Soli is searching to woods for her abducted best friend Lucy, with the help of Faerie Prince Kheelan. Simply but beautifully written, with lots of suspense, this volume ends in a cliffhanger leaving readers hungry for more. Flipping through this book you may think it is too young for your middle school readers, however my advanced tween readers love this series as a fun and spooky break from their otherwise heavy reading. In addition, it is gorgeously illustrated and designed, and bound in a pleasing, small size.
Fantasy, Fairies, Suspense          Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Eliopoulos, Chris. Mr. Puzzle, A Perfect Fit (Mr. Puzzle series, #1). North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2013.  978-1-4342-60246. $16.99. Gr. 3-7.
One day Walter, a master puzzle solver, is working on an antique puzzle when it begins to glow and come to life. The magic locked inside this ancient puzzle turns Walter into Mr. Puzzle, an unlikely superhero who’s a puzzle piece able to bend, stretch, shrink and grow in many ways to save the day. In a series of episodes, our hero tackles an evil wrecking ball, a maniacal middle school teacher, a gruesome, greasy monster in a Laundromat, and a thief in the Tallmart. Includes a “How to Draw Mr. Puzzle” feature at the end as well as an interview with the author, a glossary and a “Brain Benders” quiz that is great for testing comprehension. While Capstone suggests this book for grades 2 – 5, I found it contained vocabulary sufficiently challenging to interest my middle graders, especially those who like other funny graphic novels like the Lunch Lady series. A very fun little book!
Graphic Novel, Humor          Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Klimo, Kate. Dog Diaries, Barry (Dog Diaries series). New York: Random House, 2013.  978-0-449-81280-8. $6.99. Gr. 3-7.
If you have die-hard devotees of the Magic Puppy and Magic Kitten Series, the Dog Diaries and Horse Diaries are the next reading level up and sure to please. I also love that these are each stand-alone books that need not be read in order. Based on a true story, this book is written in first person by Barry, a St. Bernard rescue who saved the lives of at least 40 people buried in the snow.  Includes an Appendix, “More About the St. Bernard,” photos, and history about the real life Barry, links for further reading, and tips about owning a St. Bernard. These are beautiful little books, highly recommended.
Historical Fiction, Dogs         Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Bright, J.E. Cyborg Superman (Super DC Heroes, The Man of Steel series). North Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-4342-40897. $25.32. Gr. 3-7.
While these beautiful little books are technically not graphic novels, I shelve them there because they’re perfect for that audience, and the illustrations are straight out of a top-notch superhero graphic novel. The reading level is perfect for your better readers as young as 2nd grade, but the subject matter and vocabulary will still appeal to your superhero fans in upper middle grades regardless of reading level. Each Super DC Heroes book is a stand-alone adventure, so the books may be read in any order. Includes Discussion Questions and Writing Prompts at the end, a perfect teacher’s companion for that reluctant reader!
Fantasy, Superheroes         Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Weissburg, Paul. Batman Undercover (Super DC Heroes, The Dark Knight series). North Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-4342-40941. $25.32. Gr. 3-7.
In this episode, Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego Batman and his fearless sidekick Robin tackle more than one villain: Penguin, and mobster Matches Malone. Can they save Gotham from the Cosmic Annihilator, a doomsday weapon which could destroy Earth? My 2nd through 6th graders love these books, which I shelve with superhero graphic novels. They are technically not graphic novels, however the subject matter, design, and illustrations are suitable for the same audience. Beautiful, glossy comic art is topped off with Discussion Questions and Writing Prompts at the end, a perfect teacher’s companion for your reluctant readers!
Fantasy, Superheroes         Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Bass, Guy. Stitch Head. North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2013.  978-1-62370-0072. $10.95. Gr. 3-8.
Small little Stitch Head, “no bigger than a medium-sized monkey,” is the first Frankenstein-type creation of Mad Professor Erasmus of the spooky misfit town of Grubbers Nubbin. The problem is that Prof. Erasmus has many creations, and he loses interest in his prior creatures as soon as he moves onto the next project. This time, Professor has created a truly monstrous monster, who begins an evil rampage in the town, and little Stich Head sets off to stop the carnage before everyone and everything is destroyed. Each chapter begins with a small poem, ditty, or Mad Musing. So much about the writing and design of this witty and spooky little book puts me in mind of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events series; this book is perfect for those fans.
Fantasy, Monsters, Humor Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Peschke, Marci. Kylie Jean Summer Camp Queen (Kylie Jean series). North Mankato, MN: Picture Window, 2013.  978-1-4048-75838. $21.32. Gr. 1-3.
Kylie Jean Carter is from Texas and her number-one dream is to be a beauty queen. Her fun girly romps are perfect for your series-loving fans of Judy Moody and Clementine. Each book in the series is a stand-alone that need not be read in any particular order. In this book, Kylie Jean is at Mariposa Ranch summer camp which she loves, but there is a problem: there’s a Camp Queen contest she would love to win, but there’s another girl who looks just like Kylie Jean and is a trouble-maker. At the end of each book Kylie Jean learns a humbling lesson. Includes glossary, discussion questions, writing prompts, a recipe, and a link to the Capstone website for more series-related games and activities.
Realistic Fiction, Humor          Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Poe, Edgar Allan; retold by Harper, Benjamin. The Tell-Tale Heart (Edgar Allan Poe Graphic Novel series). Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-4342-30232. $26.65. Gr. 5+.
Ingenious and creative graphic rendering of one of Poe’s most chilling works, told verbatim. The illustrations are primarily in black and white, and in each tale in the series the illustrator uses a different accent color to emphasize the meaning of that story. Includes a glossary, brief bio of Poe, and “Visual Questions,” to spur thinking and reading comprehension. Beautiful book, highly recommended for any reader grade 5 through adult.
Graphic Novel, Classic Horror Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Biskup, Agnieszka. The Amazing Story of Space Travel (MaxAxiom STEM Adventures series.) Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2013.  978-1-476501246. $29.99. Gr. 3-9.
Kudos to Capstone for producing these graphic nonfiction books that will be sure to entice your emerging early grade readers and middle schoolers alike. Max Axiom, super scientist, is the series guide, exploring the details of modern STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Design) wonders including Cell Phone Technology, the Combustion Engine, Recycling, TV Technology, and more. In this book, readers learn about the last 50 years in space travel history as well as the technology involved in sending rockets into outer space. Includes a glossary, lists of books and internet links to explore the subject further, an index and “Critical Thinking Using the Common Core” questions. Highly recommended.
Graphic Nonfiction, Space Travel 
                                                     Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

McCloud, Scott. Balance of Power (Superman Adventures series). Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-434247100. $21.27. Gr. 2-5.
The latest in 8 beautifully illustrated Superman glossy comics, sure to please your younger superhero and graphic novel fans! In this episode, Superman and Lois Lane are confronted by female villain Live Wire who can absorb and release high voltage electricity. Can Lois and Superman act in time to save Metropolis? Teachers will love that these books feature glossary, character map, and “Visual Questions” that test comprehension.
Graphic Novel, Superheroes      Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Sonneborn, Scott. Attack of the Zom-Bees! (Tiger Moth series). Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-434232830. $22.65. Gr. 3-5.
This is book 7 in the Tiger Moth series, and our hero the Insect Ninja must escape the power of Beatrice, the Queen Bee of Antannae Elementary who has everyone under her evil power. But first Kung Pow, Tiger Moth’s apprentice, must get Tiger out from under Beatrice’s spell.  This fun and action-packed easy reader contains a glossary and visual questions which stimulate comprehension. Perfect for your emerging and reluctant readers who love comics and action.
Graphic Novel, Superheroes      Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Downer, Denise. Soul Mates (Tombstone Twins series). Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-434232830. $22.65. Gr. 3-5.
Set in Underworld Elementary, where all the kids have died in whacky ways, in this first book in the series we meet Deadbert, the “butt” of all the jokes because he died flushing himself down the toilet. But the new girl at school Skully turns out to be Deadbert’s “death twin” because she died in the exact same way. A beautiful friendship is born and they go on to solve a mystery and save the day. Contains a glossary and Visual Questions that enhance reading comprehension.
Graphic Novel, Superheroes      Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Kibuishi, Kazu. Explorer: The Lost Islands. New York: Abrams, 2013. 978-1-4197-0881-7. $19.95. Gr. 4+.
Kibuishi follows up his dazzling first book, Explorer: The Mystery Box with this new collection of 7 individual tales by 9 different graphic artists. In this collection: Rabbit Island by Jake Parker, The Mask Dance by Chrystin Garland, Carapace by Jason Caffoe, Desert Island Playlist by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, Loah by Michael Gagne, Radio Adrift by Katie Shanahan and Steven Shanahan, and The Fishermen by Kazu Kibuishi. The reading material is easy enough for 4th grade and up, but the subjects and treatments will engage all ages. Each short graphic tale follows the lost island theme, and it is a delight to see the different approach and style taken by each of these master storyteller/illustrators.
Graphic Novel, Fantasy         Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

Wacholtz, Anthony. Picture a Touchdown (Drawing with Sports Illustrated series). Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2013.  978-1-476531045. $33.32. Gr. 5-9.
Fourth in a series, this book gives step-by-step instructions on how to draw football players in the heat of the action. Beginning with stick figures and outlines, young artists are guided how to draw an expert-looking play, superimposed on Sports Illustrated photographs of real football action. Begins with a supply list, and organized by types of plays. Includes web links and lists of books for more information. Other volumes in this Drawing with Sports Illustrated series are Picture a Home Run, Picture a Slam Dunk, and Picture a Slap Shot. Sure to appeal to your middle grade sports fans and budding artists alike.
Nonfiction How-To, Art, Sports   Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

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