December BOB Reviews

 (hope you’re all enjoying a relaxing winter break!)


Lynette, Rachel. Capybaras (Jungle Babies of the Rainforest) series. New York: Bearport, 2013. 978-1-61772-753-5. 24 p. $15.99. Gr. K-3.
Capybaras  is an enticing book with its sharp clear photographs and effectively organized information about capybaras.  It has a perfect format for introducing students to beginning research. Each full color page has a photo and most have text boxes to identify the photos as well. This non-fiction resource has attractive headings, a table of contents, index, a map, and glossary for leading young students into successful research. Readers learn about the largest rodent in the world’s family life, physical appearance, habitat, young, enemies, and communication. Written in a comprehensive, yet easy to read text, with a “Read More” and “Learn more Online” page in the back, this title is highly recommended for all elementary libraries.
599.35 Capybara                         Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford Elementary School

Meinking, Mary. Dingoes (Wild Canine Pups) series. New York: Bearport, 2014. 978-1-61772-930-0.  24 p. $ 15.99.  Gr. K-3.
Dingoes, from the Wild Canine Pups series, focus on the importance of family, from the very first page with an attractive double page spread of fluffy white dingo pups snuggling with their mother. This introductory non-fiction title is perfectly set up for teaching beginning research, with its table of contents, index, and glossary accompanied with pictures to clarify the text. Bold headings identify and organize the material effectively. Readers learn about their habitat, family life, hunting a complex skill often involving a pack of dingoes attacking larger animals such as kangaroos.  Although the text uses simple vocabulary, the information is comprehensive and appealing for readers with its bright clear photos on every page and fact boxes sprinkled throughout to enhance comprehension. This title has a “Read more” and “Learn more online” page in the back, it is highly recommended for all elementary libraries.
599.77 Dingoes Infancy       Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford Elementary School

Oxlade, Chris. Explorer Travel Guides: Mountains. Chicago: Raintree, 2014.  978-1-4109-5430-5. 48 p. $21.75. Gr. 3-6.
Using a travel guide format, this attractive non-fiction title about mountains, with its colorful pictures and fact boxes sprinkled throughout, will inspire readers to explore mountains and view them through inquisitive eyes.  How mountains are formed, and the ways mountain people and animals live and adapt in high altitudes are clearly explained. Following the travel guide pattern, the reader learns how to pack depending on the location and season. Tips about planning for life threatening problems that can occur on an expedition such as; altitude sickness, avalanches, and falling into hidden crevices are covered too. The two interviews, with a volcanologist and a mountain explorer, make it come alive with real world connections. The organized, easy to follow format, and comprehensive exciting topics, including a map, fact file charts of highest mountains, longest mountain ranges, underwater mountains, and historic first ascents by famous mountaineers, will provide enough detailed information for satisfying research. A great choice for elementary libraries.
910.914; Mountains       Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford Elementary School

Phillips, Dee. Flying Lemur (Science Slam: Treed-Animal Life in the Trees) series. New York: Bearport, 2014. 978-1-61772-911-0. 24 p.  Gr. K-3.
Flying Lemur introduces young readers to these peculiar exotic rain forest animals that spend their entire life in trees, through spectacular photos and interesting facts. Focusing on a scientific inquiry approach, each new concept is preceded by a question about flying lemurs in a red fact box such as; “Flying lemurs have huge eyes. How do you think having large eyes helps the animal?” The question is fully answered on the next page, in a vine decorated green fact circle. Using bold headings to introduce topics about, habitat, physical appearance, predators, mothers and babies, and growing up, readers learn how unique this endangered animal truly is. They will be amazed to find out how flying lemurs travel, spreading their arms and legs and using the skin flaps between them they can glide as far as 320 feet from tree to tree. All of the ingredients of a comprehensive informational text are included, table of contents, glossary of science words accompanied by images, and an index. A science lab poster activity about saving the rain forest is also included as well as “Read More” and “Learn more Online” resource lists on the last page. The clear, colorful photos of flying lemurs and engaging questions will attract young researchers. This title provides an engaging format for beginning scientific inquiry and animal research.
599.33 Flying Lemurs                Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford Elementary School

Raum, Elizabeth, Expanding a Nation: Causes and Effects of the Louisiana Purchase (Cause and Effect series).   North Mankato: Capstone Press, 2014.  978-1-4765-0236-6.  32 p.  $19.99 ea.  Gr. 3-4.
Why did the purchase of the Louisiana Territory have such a profound effect on the history of the United States? By  organizing this colorful informational book chronologically, with clearly defined causes and effects of The Louisiana Purchase on the history of the U.S., young readers will be able to easily understand why Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory and Napoleon Bonaparte decided to sell France’s land to the US. To captivate visual learners, the book’s dynamic format has lots of fact boxes defining words, explaining pictures, or comparing a fact such as, the actual cost of  the purchase of the Louisiana Territory then and now. Illustrations, charts, and maps, are generously placed on every page adding interest without appearing too busy, making this title appropriate for a variety of learning styles. This title work well, as an introductory background resource for units on explorers, Native Americans, and regions of the United States. Glossary, more books, internet sites, critical thinking questions, and an index are all included.
973.46 ; Louisiana Purchase; United States History      Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford  Elementary School


Maddox, Jake. Jake Maddox Sports Stories (series). North Mankato: Stone Arch, 2013. 72 p. $17.99 ea. Gr. 3-6.
                Maddox, Jake. Rebound Time. 978-1-4342-4013-2.
                Maddox, Jake. Beach Bully.  978-1-4342-5973-8.
Facing challenging obstacles, such as moving to a new neighborhood or dealing with a divorce, integrated with positive experiences through bonding with friends while playing sports together, makes a dynamic format for the Jake Maddox Sports Stories series. In Rebound Time, twin sisters Allie and Sarit, who love to play basketball, find their lives drastically altered when their parents get divorced and their Dad moves across the country.  Allie uses her love of basketball to help her cope with the absence of her Dad, while Sarit gives up and begins to make poor choices. Readers will want to find out if the resilience taught through years of basketball training will give Sarit the inner strength required to enjoy her favorite sport once again? In Beach Bully, Isaac, who loves to snowboard, is faced with a big challenge when his parents move to the sunny beach where snowboarding isn’t an option. Surfing might be the perfect alternative Isaac ponders, while watching boys his age surf big waves. When he gives surfing a try, he is surrounded by jeering comments from the surfers, especially the best surfer, a nasty bully. Realizing he is outnumbered, Isaac gives up surfing and eventually makes a friend, who shares his passion for comic books. However, Isaac still wants to learn to surf, can he find the confidence to try again? Both of these Jake Maddox Sports Stories provide high interest plots with problems and activities which middle grade readers will relate to. These titles are just right for reluctant readers with a consuming interest in sports.
Realistic Fiction              Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford  Elementary School

The Never Girls (series). New York: Random House, 2013. 118, 120 p.  $5.99 ea.  (paperback) Gr. 3-6.
             Thorpe, Kiki. A Dandelion Wish (The Never Girls Book 3). 978-0-7364-2796-8.
             Thorpe, Kiki. From the Mist (The Never Girls Book 4). 978-0-7364-2797-5.
A magical place full of fairies and singing mermaids is the setting for the adventures of four girls; Kate, Lainey, Mia, and her little sister Gabby. Through their strong belief in magic and fairies, the friends accidently discover the magical island of Never Land. Each of The Disney Never Girls books focuses on one of the four friends, whose curiosity always brews trouble for them, and the fairies in Never Land. In the third book, A Dandelion Wish, Mia is assigned a day of babysitting her little sister alone, while her mother does errands.  Finding this chore boring, she escapes to Pixie Hollow, home of the fairies she’s previously visited in Never Land. When she returns home by climbing through a broken slat with a fairy Rosetta, her little sister Gabby bursts into her room and wreaks havoc. Angrily Mia banishes Gabby from her room.  Later she discovers Gabby is missing, and knows she went to Pixie Hollow alone. Finding the broken slat entrance to Never Land repaired, Mia is horrified as she realizes she is unable to return to Never Land and find her. How will Gabby ever return from Never Land?  In the fourth book, From the Mist, Kate and her trio make a quick trip to Never Land before their parents wake up. They find Pixie Hollow covered in fog and the fairies busy preparing for a storm. When the friends view a meadow, they discover it is full of horses.  A silvery mare attracts Kate’s attention, and she bravely mounts the huge horse. Ignoring her friends’ warnings, Kate rides off on the silver mare. Silvermist, a water-talent fairy senses danger, and researches the problem at the Home Tree Library. She discovers her sense of foreboding was correct. This title is full of suspense as the fairies and friends try to save Kate from the lure of the “mist horse.” These easy to read titles full of magic and adventure with black and white soft water color illustrations, will appeal to young fans of fairy books.
Fairies Fiction                   Martha Lambertsen, Wallingford  Elementary School

Early, Chris. Caterpillars, Find, Identify, Raise Your Own. Buffalo: Firefly, 2013. 978-1-77085-182-5. 32p. $17.56. Gr. 2-4
An incredibly detailed text regarding caterpillars. The photographs are bright, clear and colorful, with labels and caption that are interesting and informative. The book covers, parts, types, life cycle, how to handle and raise them. It also covers laws and dangerous caterpillars. The facts and information provided is concise and straightforward, providing just the right amount of information for this age group. This excellent resource provides excellent material to support a science unit.
595.7: Insects, Caterpillars, Butterflies     Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary

Pavanello, Roberto. The Ghost and Dr. Mold. Minnesota: Stone Arch Books, 2013. 978-1-4342-3834-4. 120p. $15.83. Gr 2-4
An excellent beginning chapter book and fantastic for reluctant or struggling readers. This book is part of the Echo and the Bat Pack series and is full of adventure and suspense. The Bat Pack includes Becca, Michael and Tyler all set to help solve mysteries that occur in their town, can three kids and a bat pull it off? Definitely. For all that love scary stories this is a fun adventure. An old friend is in trouble, they have to help out, but they are not the only ones on the case, a ghost is following them the entire time. The white space and illustrations help to break up the text in a creative and entertaining way. At the end of the book are discussion questions, glossary and writing prompts to build comprehension and vocabulary in a guided reading session.
Fantasy (paranormal)                                Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


O’Brien, Annemarie. Lara’s Gift. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.  978-0307931740. 193 p. Glossary and Bibliography. $16.99, Reading Level: 5.1 Interest Level: grades 5-8.
Russia 1914 with Czar Nicholas in power and old world traditions and values still stubbornly in place, Lara has been helping her father in Count Voronstov’s Borzoi kennel. She is determined that this will be her life’s work until her baby brother is born and her dreams are dashed – or so she thinks – by values and unwritten rules that only males can head the kennel as the steward.  Lara has a special gift of understanding her beloved Borzoi, especially when danger emanates in the form of a pack of wolves. Can she use this ability to protect the kennel that she so greatly loves?

Any dog lover regardless of age should read this one. The Russian history is woven into the plot so that the reader is learning without knowing it. Having the privilege of meeting the Borzoi breed once (the numbers are small in the US), Annemarie O’Brien reminded me of the beauty of the breed and also showed me the hunter instinct for which the breed is known.

Like the Kirkus star review, I too would recommend it for fiction reading. Annemarie O’Brien has an author website, with all sorts of information about dog reads:
Historical Fiction
Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools


Ollhoff, Jim. Christopher Columbus (Great Explorers series). North Mankato: ABDO Publishing, 2014.   978-1-61783-964-1. 32 p. $18.95. Gr. 5-8.
Ollhoff, Jim. Neil Armstrong (Great Explorers series). North Mankato: ABDO Publishing, 2014.  978-1-61783-963-4. 32 p.  $18.95. Gr. 5-8.
These biographies offer a brief overview of the life and career of each titled explorer. Christopher Columbus is profiled as an expert, if arrogant, sailor and explorer who had tremendous vision. His youth is covered well considering many facts about his early life are vague. Most of this title is dedicated to his voyages sponsored by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and his poor management of the Caribbean settlements that were established during his travels.

Neil Armstrong’s life and career are covered admirably but much of this title is spent reviewing the Apollo space program; students researching Neil Armstrong will receive a basic education on the space race in addition to learning about Armstrong’s many achievements as a Navy pilot and NASA astronaut. Each title includes a timeline, glossary, and index.
Biography                                      Lindsey Long, Nye Elementary School

Murphy, Julie. Whale Sharks (Exploring Our Oceans series). Ann Arbor: Cherry Lake, 2014. 978-1624314117. 32p. $28.50. Gr. 3 – 6.
Thomas, Elizabeth. Great White Sharks (Exploring Our Oceans series). Ann Arbor: Cherry Lake, 2014. 978-1624314117. 32p. $28.50. Gr. 3 – 6.
Kennington, Tammy. Bull Sharks (Exploring Our Oceans series). Ann Arbor: Cherry Lake, 2014. 978-1624314056. 32p. $28.50. Gr. 3 – 6.
Beautiful layout/design and illustration, this engaging nonfiction series will appeal to your shark fans and junior researchers alike. Broken down into chapters that detail general information about the specific shark and its food and habits, a chapter focusing on anatomy with a Body Diagram, a section describing its hunting methods, a chapter on its growth from pup to adult, and a section discussing threats to the species. Includes “Think About It” discussion questions, book and web links to learn more, a glossary and index. One of my students caught a glimpse of these books and I have to process them quickly to get them into his hands! Highly recommended.
597.3    Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School