June 2014 BOB Nonfiction


Aloian, Molly. Ellis Island. Crabtree Chrome (Series). New York: Crabtree, 2104. 978-0-7787-1168-1.  47 p. $25.87. Gr. 3-6.
This well organized and visually pleasing series contains Table of Contents, time period photos, text boxes, and applicable quotes. Vocabulary and definitions are located on the relevant page as well as in the glossary. An index, additional resources (paper and electronic) are included at the end. Other titles (28 total) in series include: Navy Seals, King Tut, Alcatraz, Extinction, Gettysburg, Plague, Pompeii, Titanic and more.
304.87; Immigration, Ellis Island     Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


Polacco, Patricia. Clara and Davie: The True Story of Young Clara Barton, Founder of the Red Cross. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014. 978-545-35477-6. 32 p. $17.99. Gr. 2+.
Patricia Polacco often writes stories based on her childhood and the happy memories or struggles that she faced as a child. In this book, Polacco writes about the childhood of her distant relative Clara Barton. Clara was mostly raised by her older siblings and was particularly close to her older brother, Davie. He recognized Clara’s amazing talents in healing and helped home school her as she was extremely shy and often teased for her lisp. After a terrible accident, Clara nursed Davie back to health over a period of several years, and the two remained close to the end of their lives. Endnotes provide more information on Clara’s life and accomplishments as “The Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War and how she founded the Red Cross. Polacco has created another beautiful book about the ups and downs of childhood, complete with her signature illustrations. Clara was deeply gifted at healing from an early age when she nursed a runt puppy to health. Not only was she called upon by neighbors to help birth and heal animals, she was also a talented gardener who knew the names of all the local flowers and plants and raised a garden that was the envy of the town. Seeing Clara as a child makes it easy to envision her rising to greatness and making such a profound impact upon the medical community during her time. While the book provides brief biographical information, don’t expect it to be used as a research tool. It could, however, be an excellent starting point for students who are looking for an interesting biography research topic.
Biography/Picture Book                          Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Reading Across the Curriculum…in the Stone Age!

lines spheres squares
Bailey, Gerry and Felicia Law. Mike Phillips, Ill. Stone Age Geometry (6 book series). New York: Crabtree, 2014. $19.87 ea.
Stone Age Geometry: Circles. 978-0-7787-0507-9.
Stone Age Geometry: Cubes. 978-0-7787-0508-6.
Stone Age Geometry: Lines. 978-0-7787-0509-3.
Stone Age Geometry: Spheres. 978-0-7787-0510-9.
Stone Age Geometry: Squares. 978-0-7787-0511-6.
Stone Age Geometry: Triangles. 978-0-7787-0512-3.

Stone Age Geometry explores fascinating mathematical shapes through real world examples explained by characters Leo, the stone age genius, and his pet cat, Pallas. Readers (and Pallas) learn about geometric concepts as Leo and Pallas design brilliant and unique inventions throughout their mathematical journeys. The series includes circles, cubes, lines, spheres, squares, and triangles. In each book Leo’s inventions reveal key vocabulary terms and important concepts of the geometry curriculum. Each book also includes glossary and various pictures, drawings, graphs, and charts to illustrate the shape and the concept of how it is used in everyday life.  This series is a valuable instructional resource to introduce new and unfamiliar concepts to students in a fun and educational way. Leo provides 15 informational lessons explaining concepts, real world examples, and pictures depicting each invention.  Although recommended for grades 5-8, this series is a fabulous resource for high school geometry classes and promotes reading across the curriculum.

Geometry (516)    Heather McQuiston, Teacher, Lincoln HS, Ellwood
                                 Erin Parkinson, Librarian, Lincoln HS, Ellwood City

The One – The Selection Trilogy Book 3…The End


Cass, Kiera. The One.  New York: Harper Teen, USA, 2014.  978-0-06-205999-4. 336p. $17.99.  Gr. 9 and Up.

In The Selection series, Prince Maxon, the crown prince of Illea, is of marriageable age and must go through the process of choosing a wife.  The first and second books in the series (The Selection and The Elite) talk about the Selection process and the unrest that exists in Illea.  The series is set in a dystopian, futuristic United States ruled by a monarchy and organized in a rigid caste system.  The One is the final book in the series.  In a process similar to the one in reality TV’s “The Bachelor”, thirty-one young women have already been eliminated from consideration by the prince.  The heroine of the series, America Singer, is from one of the lower castes, but she seems to have won the hearts and minds of many people- including the Prince. She and the three other remaining women are close to each other by the end of the Selection, but all know only one can be Prince Maxon’s wife.

The candidates all have secrets, including America.  America has loved Aspen, now a palace guard, for many years.  He loves her too, and America’s affections seem to switch back and forth between Aspen and the Prince at the slightest provocation.  Fortunately, this book isn’t as frivolous as others in the series.  There is (a little) less attention given to royal parties and ball gowns.  More attention is paid to the injustices of the caste system, the qualities of merciful leadership, and rebellion in Illea.  Both Northern and Southern rebels are unhappy with what is happening to their Country.   However, where the Northern rebels prefer change within the current government, the Southern rebels are violent.  The acts of violence escalate over the course of the Selection Series, and there is a culminating violent scene that will change the characters’ lives and the lives of the Illean citizens.  This is one series that would actually benefit from another volume; I found myself wondering what would happen to the Prince, his bride, and their Country in future years.  The One is a quick and exciting read that many teenage girls will enjoy.

Dystopian              Susan Fox, Washington Jr./Sr. High School

A Little More YA 2013 to add to Your Summer Reading!


Smith, Sherri L.  Orleans.  New York: SPEAK, 2013.  978-0-339-25294-5. 336p. $17.99.  Gr. 7 and Up.

Orleans is set in New Orleans in the year 2056.  Following a series of devastating hurricanes,  each progressively worse than Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf Coast states have been sealed off from the rest of the United States ( Outer States).  A new disease called Delta Fever has killed thousands of people and left almost all survivors as carriers of the disease.  A new society has emerged with tribes formed by blood type.  People with O positive (OP) and O negative (ONeg) blood are hunted by the other tribes for transfusions that will help them stay alive.  Fen de la Guerre is a fifteen year old girl who is a member of a large and stable tribe of OPs.  Fen’s world isn’t safe for long; her tribe is attacked and its leader dies in childbirth.  Fen takes the infant (“Baby Girl”) and leaves the remains of her tribe to find a way to get the pure- blooded baby to the Outer States.

Along the way, Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States.  Daniel has lost a brother to Delta Fever and is desperate to find a cure.  His research seems only to have resulted in a vaccine so strong it kills those it is administered to.  Daniel has gone to the Delta States to find out what he is doing wrong.  When Daniel and Fen meet, Fen’s mission ultimately becomes his own; they must get Baby Girl to the Outer States before she is murdered for her still-pure blood.

Orleans is one of the most unique novels I’ve read in a long time.  Students will either love it or hate it.  Fen speaks in a local dialect called “Tribe”, which is very distracting at first.  After you become engaged in the book, Fen’s speech is an important part of the story.  This book is NOT a romance; readers looking for a love story between Fen and Daniel will be disappointed.  The ending is also unclear.  Daniel is able to smuggle Baby Girl over the wall to the Outer States, but it’s difficult to tell what happens to Fen.  Personally, I really enjoyed the novel, since it was so different from anything I’ve read lately. It paints a vivid (and possible) picture of New Orleans’ fate, given the increasing severity of hurricanes in our world.  Finally, Fen is a truly remarkable and memorable character; it’s worth getting to know her.

Science Fiction           Susan Fox, Washington Jr./Sr. High School



Bowman, Erin. Taken. New York, HarperTeen, 2013. 9780062117262. 360 p. $17.99. Gr. 9-12.

Gray Weathersby lives in Claysoot with his brother Blaine, but not for long. Blaine is about to turn eighteen and every male is taken from Claysoot on their eighteenth birthday. The citizens call the taking of the men “heists.” Men who try to climb the wall to escape the heist are sent back and burned beyond recognition. What lies on the other side of the wall, though, no one seems to know. Maude, the town elder, has the most information, but what she shares and what she knows differ; she knows a great deal more than anyone suspects. After Blaine’s heist, Gray discovers with the help of Emma, the daughter of the Clinician, that he is actually Blaine’s twin, and that the Heists don’t happen automatically.  It is a power larger than the townspeople that gains information about the birth dates and uses that information to perform the heists. After Blaine and Gray were born, their mother hid Gray for an entire year to prove that the heist was preventable, but sadly she did not live to see her plan work. Now Gray needs answers, and the only way to get them is by jumping the wall. It is certain death, but he jumps anyway, and Emma comes with him. The truth is more important than their lives. They are rescued by some of “The Order” officers and taken to Taem, where Frank is the leader. Along the way they see signs for Harvey Maldoon being a traitor, and they want him back alive. He also gets to see his brother Blaine, alive and well and training for The Order. Things aren’t adding up for Gray; he witnesses a member of The Order murder a man for taking water when it was not his day.  He escapes by hiding with a team that goes on a mission to seek out the Resistance. They are ambushed, and Blaine is hurt badly. Gray bandages him up as well as he can and drags him on a tent through the woods. He is in search of Mt. Martyr, the compound of the Resistance forces. When they get to Mt. Martyr, they are dragged in for questioning by Bree, a girl about his age. They have to pass tests in order not to be killed. The twins’ father is one of the leaders of the Resistance. Frank has big plans for the Rebels, he has an airborne virus that he developed and has tested on prisoners-they get sick within two days and die in a few weeks-the only vaccine is in Taem. The Resistance needs the vaccine to survive, so an expedition is planned. There are more questions left remaining, hinting at a sequel.

This book is really just for pleasure, but I could not wait to pick it back up again. Give this to any student who loved The Maze Runner series, or the Matched trilogy. There are some mature situations, so I do not recommend it for anyone under grade 9.

Dystopian/Adventure             Kathryn Gilbride, North Pocono HS/MS

It’s time for summer…and summer reading!

Happy summer!  It seems like this past school year flew by, and its hard to believe it’s already summer and PSLA was over a month ago.  Thanks to all PSLA librarians who attended our two sessions: Best of the Best in Children’s Literature and YA Top 40.  We’ve received your session feedback and are looking forward to next year’s sessions and adjusting them to fit your needs and the conference theme (which will be unveiled at Leadership in July).  Thanks to all who attended.

Now that summer is in full swing our “May Vacation” is over, so new YA and Children’s reviews will be posted weekly.  Please check out all of the wonderful fiction and nonfiction for students published in 2014 (and a few 2013 follow-ups).

Happy reading!

June 2014 BOB Fiction


Bacon, Lee. Joshua Dread: Dominion Key (Book 3, Joshua Dread series). New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0-385-74382-2. 256 p. $19.99. Gr. 4-7.
This is the third book in the series about Joshua Dread, a boy born with super powers, the son of the supervillain Dread Duo.  Josh is away at Alabaster Camp for the “gyfted” when it is attacked by nFinity. Josh and his friends must beat Phineas Vex to the mysterious key which promises its possessor world domination. Readers who enjoyed Lightening Thief, Harry Potter and similar fantasy adventures will love the Joshua Dread series.  This fun read is full of humor and pithy one-liners while addressing themes of Good vs Evil and family loyalty, as well as vigilance.
Fantasy                                Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


The Julian chapter: A wonder story. Palacio, R.J. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. eBook ISBN: 978-0-553-49908-7. [85 p.], $8.99, Reading/ Interest Level: Grades 3-7.

From the first meeting between Julian and Auggie in Wonder, it was quite clear it was not a going to be a friendship by any stretch of the word. The question remained how far would Julian go to be mean to Auggie. It became very easy to dislike Julian for his mean tricks and lack of remorse towards Auggie.  In The Julian Chapter, things become clear as the story is retold from the Julian bully standpoint. Julian tells the story but still doesn’t think what he does is wrong and with his parents by his side defending his every move, one gets the feeling that Julian will never change. It is only through the summer, Paris, and his Grandmere, Julian finds the remorse he so desperately needs. Only available in ebook form at this time, the only reviews available were on Goodreads and it was rated 4.5 of 5 stars.
Realistic Fiction                    Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township Elementary School 


Acampora, Paul.  I Kill the Mockingbird.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014.  978-1-59643-742-5. 166p.  $16.99. Gr. 4-6.
A book that inspires, a book that makes you think not only about books but about life.  A great alternative read to be paired with To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.   Their goal was to make people excited about reading the book, they figured if they made the book disappear people would want it.  It started out small and thanks to the World Wide Web it grew huge.  It is amazing what a little inspiration can create.  The author has created strong characters, which are smart, funny and still just kids.  Their personalities and strengths and weaknesses will be remembered long after the book is over and the discussions end.  It is a great book that is a fight over books and is sure to inspire many discussions.
Realistic Fiction                                                             Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


Osborne, Mary Pope. Soccer on Sunday (Magic Tree House series #52). 978-0307980533. New York: Random House, 2014. $12.99. 115p. Gr. K-3.
Just in time for the World Cup! Osborne does it again with another engaging mystery involving the world’s favorite sport, soccer. Parents reading this aloud to emerging readers will enjoy the story too as it’s set in 1970 Mexico City for the World Cup contest featuring one of history’s best players, Pele. For those new to this series: no need to start at the beginning. Osborne does a great job bringing kids up to speed quickly about the Magic Tree House backstory. Just start reading anywhere and enjoy the ride!
Magic, Mystery              Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School


Nonfiction companion:

Osborne, Mary Pope and Natalie Pope Boyce. Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Soccer. 978-0385386296. New York: Random House, 2014. $5.99. 125p. Gr. K-3.
Mary Pope Osborne has teamed up with her sister Natalie to deliver a wonderful collection of paperback nonfiction companions to dozens of the Magic Tree House series titles, with more to come. This wonderful little book shows readers rules of the game with illustrations, photos and diagrams; gives history including discussing some of the game’s greatest players; and a motherlode of resources for additional research at the end of the book. This is a fun way to draw your nonfiction-only early readers into fiction stories, or another great use would be to discuss all the research that goes into writing fiction!
796.334 Soccer              Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

June 2014 BOB Picture Books


Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2014. 978-1-55453-704-4. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. K-2.
A little girl and her dog, “her best friend in the whole wide world,” do everything together—including making the most magnificent thing. They gather supplies, make a spot to work, and create…something. It’s definitely not magnificent. The little girl tosses it aside and begins again, trying a different approach. After several attempts, she still hasn’t created a magnificent product and is extremely frustrated. Her dog “suggests” a walk, and as they walk through the neighborhood she calms down and goes past the line of tossed aside products. She realized that bits and pieces of all of them are “quite right,” and after one final attempt, she and her dog are cruising down the sidewalk in her most magnificent thing. Bravo, Ashley Spires—this book is magnificent. The story is basic but important. The little girl follows the process of creation, from making a plan to several revisions. She doesn’t give up even when frustrated. This book would make a wonderful read-aloud with a follow-up discussion on perseverance. The illustrations are also fantastic. Set on clean white backgrounds with black line drawings of settings, the little girl and her dog (and his hilarious facial expressions) really stand out.
Picture Book                                      Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Hills, Tad. Duck & Goose Go to the Beach. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014.  978-0-385-37235-0. 32 p. $17.99. Gr. PreS-2.
Duck and Goose are back! This tale finds Duck longing to go “away,” so Goose grudgingly follows Duck as they walk through the meadow, climb to the top of the highest hill, and get a glimpse of the beach. Duck, of course, takes off for the beach and Goose is forced to follow, but the two friends have a wonderful day at the beach making new friends, exploring, and enjoying the delights of the seashore. As much fun as they’ve had, they realize that there’s no place like home and the two friends head back to the meadow.  Duck and Goose are delightful friends and my students always enjoy a new story about the pair. Hills shows so much expression in both Duck and Goose and the illustrations are full of humor, like when they are almost pinched by a crab and are wiped out by a wave. This would be a great story to read at the end of the school year during a unit on the beach or ocean, or a unit on friendship and compromise (Duck and Goose stories are fantastic for this purpose).
Picture Book               Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Campbell, K. G. The Mermaid and the Shoe. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2014.   978-1-55453-771-6. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. 1-4.
Minnow the mermaid lives underwater with her father, King Triton, and her 49 amazing sisters. They all have special talents but the only thing that Minnow has is lots of questions. One day, she finds a lovely red shoe and becomes determined to discover its purpose. She sets out on an adventure and learns a bit about the world above her; she also learns something about herself. Her true talent is her curiosity and willingness to explore, and she goes home to share her gifts with her family. This story is a bit reminiscent of the classic tale The Little Mermaid, minus the romantic storyline. The story is lovely and could spark conversations about children’s unique talents. Kids will love Minnow and the illustrations alone make the book worth a second look. Campbell’s artwork is beautiful and the colors of the book shift as Minnow moves from the dark depths of the sea to the bright world above water. It’s a must buy!
Picture Book             Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Robinson, Sharon, illustrated by Ford, AG. Under the Same Sun. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014. 978-0545-16672-0. 40 p. $17.99. Gr. K-2.

Under the Same Sun is based on the author’s experience of visiting her brother’s family in Tanzania. The lavish colored illustrations tell the story of a family that lives apart, but together under the same sun. Slavery is mentioned in how the ancestors were taken from their country and forced into working the cotton fields in America. The darkness of that act is shown with a cautious optimism as the family moves forward with love and hope for the future. Throughout the story Swahili, the official language of Tanzania is connected to the dialogue. The end of the book has pictures of the trip that Under the Same Sun was based upon as well as a translation of the Swahili words written in the story.
Picture Book, Realistic Fiction                   Kelsey DeStevens


Saxby, Claire; illustrated by Allen, Cassandra. There Was an Old Sailor. Toronto: Kids  Can Press, 2014. 978-1-77138-022-5. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. K-2.
With the same vein as There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There Was and Old Sailor, features an unassuming character who decides to swallow strange things. Some of the aquatic objects featured are krill, shark, seal, and squid. The book does have a fact about each of the animals that the sailor swallows and this could help to introduce an ocean animal research project. This has the same charm as the book it was inspired by and will have the best affect as a real aloud.
Picture Book             Kelsey DeStevens


Kemp, Anna; illustrated by Ogilvie, Sara. The Worst Princess. New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0385-37125-4. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K-3.
The Worst Princess takes the tropes of a fairy tale and throws them sideways. You are introduced to a princess who has spent her time waiting patiently for a prince to rescue her, only to find out the prince is simply another vehicle of capture. Unhappy with her new tower (prison) the princess takes action and allies with a dragon to escape so that she may have her own adventures and be free. It’s a humorous read aloud and would be great to stimulate students into creative thinking. You could provide them with a prompt about making their own spin of the fairy tale and offer different tools to express their story, writing, videos, art, etc.
Picture Book, Fantasy                      Kelsey DeStevens


Kuhlmann, Torben.  Lindbergh, The Tale of a Flying Mouse.  New York: NorthSouth Publishing, 2014. 978-0-7358-4167-3 96p.  $119.95. Gr. K+.
This phenomenal book is a work of art.  Not only does it inspire the reader to dream it creates a world through intricate and beautiful illustrations.  What if Charles Lindbergh was actually inspired by a flying mouse? What if the mouse dared to dream of a new life and made it happen?  The text provides a story of overcoming the odds, dreaming and inventing while being inspired.  The illustrations not only support the text by add another dimension to the story, providing more detail and inspiring creative thinking and problem solving.  The connections that can be made through this book can cross many curricular areas and also inspire creative writing.  I highly recommend this book for every grade level.
Picture Book                     Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


Bar-el, Dan.  A Fish Named Glub. Tonawanda, New York: Kids Can Press, 2014. 978-155453-812-6. 32p. $16.95. Pre K-3
Ok…. another character who is asking the meaning of life. This time it is Glub, the fish. Glub lives in a greasy spoon type diner with his new owner, Foster. Foster’s family complains about a fish in the diner until special things start to happen. At the end of most meaning of life stories there is a happy ending and this is no exception.  Reviews: School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly.
Picture Book    Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools


Rosenstock, Barb. The Noisy Paint Box. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.  978-0307-97848-6. 40 p. $17.99. PreK and up.
Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy raised with all of the best Russia had to offer. His family made sure he knew music and art and they expected him to be all things proper. Well proper is not always the best way to do things. Vasya opened his first paint box to find paints that spoke to him. They sounded as the orchestra did when the musicians were warming up to start the concert. As he continued to grow up the paints spoke to him from the paint box.  Finally, he could take it no more and began painting. He grew to become one of the first abstract artist the 20th century and the world knew.   Kudos to Barb Rosenstock for blending fiction with fact: joining the life of Vasya Kandinsky with his paintings. After the story has ended, she has a short bio of Kandinsky in her author’s notes along with sources for further information gathering.   Reviews: Kirkus, Booklist and others. Barb Rosenstock website:  arbrosenstock.com/html/books.htmlAccelerated Reader Quiz available. In addition to a picture book story, I would highly recommend this to middle school art teachers as a source for abstract art.
Juvenile Fiction: Biography and Art.           Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools


Say, Allen. The Favorite Daughter. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013. 978-0-545-17662-0. 30 p. $17.99, Reading Level: 2.3 Interest Level: ages 5-8.
Yuriko is not happy about a lot of things at school and at home. She doesn’t like art anymore because the new art teacher is different from the last teacher. The art teacher misprounces her name and the class begin calling her “Eureka”, they do projects in class rather than draw, and generally she wants to change everything about herself.  With her father’s patience and guidance, Yuriko learns that different is not bad and that much can be learned by others who think foreign customs are different.  A wonderful book about Father-daughter relationship, family heritage, and bullying in school. As in all of Allen Say’s books, his art is wonderful and a very important part of his story telling ability. Reviews: Kirkus, New York Times. Includes an Accelerated Reader Quiz.
Juvenile Fiction                 Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools