July 2014 BOB Fiction


Maihack, Mike. Cleopatra in Space, Target Practice. New York: Graphic, 2014. 978-0-545-52843-6. 176 p. $12.99. Gr. 6-8.
Cleo is an impulsive fun loving teen who enjoys slinging shots more than sitting through Algebra lessons. She is also Cleopatra, young princess to the ancient Egyptian society. One day after skipping lessons with her friend, Gozi, they discover a mysterious door that holds treasures. Cleo stumbles upon a strange object and is sent into the future where she discovers that she is a hero in a prophecy meant to defeat an evil overlord. The story follows her as she enrolls in space school and tries to assimilate to her new surroundings. This is book one in a new graphic novel series.

This science fiction adventure will appeal to fans of the graphic novel Zita Spacegirl. The art is similar in the bright colors and humorous actions. There are multiple time jumps that readers may miss if they are not reading closely (which can happen in graphic novels). Cleo is a relatable protagonist and likable in her relationships with others. I would not hesitate to add this to any middle grade graphic novel collection, all art and dialogue are appropriate.
741.5 Graphic Novel/ Science Fiction           Kelsey DeStevens


Foxlee, Karen. Ophelia and the marvelous boy. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 978-0385-75354-8. 228 p. $16.99. Grades 3-5.
Take one ordinary Ophelia, one mysterious, Marvelous Boy, a wicked snow queen and roughly three days to save wizards and mostly… the world, a lovely fantasy is born.  Ophelia has just lost her mother. Her father has been hired to present a collection of rare swords for a museum in a city where strangely enough it snows continually. Her sister Alice is content listening to her music and blocking the world out. Ophelia explores the museum and finds a boy locked away in a remote part of the museum. Through a series of events she finds incredible bravery she did not know she possessed. Most of all she finds the truest of friends and family she could ever want.  Reviews: Good Reads, Booklist and Kirkus
Lourie Stewart                  Dunbar/Connellsville Township  Elementaries


Spinelli, Eileen. Another Day as Emily. New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0-449-80987-7. 242 p. $7.99. Gr. 4-6.
When her little brother finds fame after a life-saving 911 call, Suzy has trouble with her own identity and self-worth. She begins emulating the life of Emily Dickinson, the subject of her school library project. Will Suzy become lost as her own personality fades into increasingly reclusive behaviors or will she rediscover her true tomboy nature? This novel, written in verse, reads like a diary and is an excellent offering for reluctant readers.
Realistic Fiction                                                Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary

July 2014 BOB Picture Books


Stower, Adam. Naughty Kitty! New York: Orchard Books, 2014. 978-0-545-57604-8. 40 p. $16.99. Gr. K-2.
All Lily wants is her own puppy, but her mom decides that dogs are too messy so instead Lily can adopt a kitty. Thus the trouble begins. Kitty manages to wreck the kitchen, living room, kitty door, and the whole household. However the truth may be a little more complicated than a naughty kitty and the readers have the chance to watch the story unfold through whimsical illustrations.

This was a cleverly structured story. While Lily thinks her kitty is causing all the trouble, really you begin to see hints of an on the run tiger. The illustrations hint to to tiger through the colored sides seen over a fence, a newspaper article, and it’s tail. Students will enjoy how the protagonists is unaware to the truth while they have full knowledge.
Picture Book                                                 Kelsey DeStevens


Cox, Lynne. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas. New York: Schwartz& Wade, 2014. 978-0375858888. 48 p. $12.95. Gr. K-3.
This story is based on Elizabeth, a real elephant seal who chose the unlikely city of Christchurch, New Zealand as her home. Despite efforts to relocate Elizabeth, to a safer area in the open ocean with her own kind, she continues to return to the community who grows to love her. Michael, a local boy calls out to her as she swims along the shore and often crawls up onto land to wallow in the sun amid the bustling people and traffic. Illustrated by Caldecott medal winner, Brian Floca, students will love the heart -warming story, as well as discovering and delighting in its real-life roots.
Picture Book                      Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


Jacobs, Paul Dubois. Count 1 2 3 on the Subway. 978-0307979230. New York: Knopf, 2014. $14.99. 32p. Gr. PK – 2.
This colorful and beautifully illustrated counting book uses the backdrop of Manhattan, the subway, and many famous landmarks like Times Square, to teach counting. Every time a number is used on a page it is shown as a white number within a colored circle, just like the stops on the NYC subway. This would be a very fun read aloud for either city-dwellers or kids who’ve recently visited Manhattan. Those kids will probably immediately recognize the numbers within a colored circle scheme; kids who are not familiar with NYC will immediately recognize this graphic treatment when they do visit and relate it to the book I’m sure!
Picture Book                Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School

July 2014 BOB Nonfiction


Bragg, Georgia.  How They Choked: Failures, Flops, and Flaws of the Awfully Famous.  New York, NY: Walker Books for Young Readers, 2014.  978-0-8027-3489-1 (library).  200 pages.  $17.99.  Grades 5-8.
Failures and mistakes can make for engaging reading, beginning with Bragg’s opening warning of  “Nobody’s Perfect; Get Used to It.”  What follows are fourteen tales of the famous (Marco Polo to Amelia Earhart) and infamous (Benedict Arnold to General Custer) which covers both familiar names (Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison) and unfamiliar names (Anne Boleyn, Bruce Ismay) for middle school readers.  The wry writing has a snarky, humorous style which may seen persuasive as much to prove the authors point as to entertain the reader.  Each picked-on person gets the “human side of history” treatment by describing their background and motivations which often lead to their mistakes and disasters, or luck and successes.  There is a moral to each story for connection and growth that furthers the goal of learning from past mistakes.  The clever illustrations by Kevin O’Malley are a perfect match, and the follow up facts pages, plus further reading and surfing, provide a solid start to exploring these fascinating flawed lives.  This title compliments the You Wouldn’t Want to series by Franklin Watts and Bragg’s own How They Croaked for some historical fun.
920; Biography Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District


Rubin, Susan Goldman.  Everybody Paints: The Lives and Art of the Wyeth Family.  San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2014.  978-0-8118-6984-3.  105 pages.  $16.99.  Grades 5+.
Enter a museum exhibit of the Wyeth family with this gorgeous biography covering three generations of artists.  This keepsake book has a lush, warm colored design and layout to compliment the engaging text and many pieces of Wyeth artwork on display.  The story covers the lives of breakout illustrator N.C., dedicated painter Andrew, and exploring portrait artist Jamie, but there is much more to them than just a simple label or single piece of artwork.  We learn about the wrinkles and curves in each artist’s life and the rest of the family’s role in their development.  The motivations and honest insights into their work make this a fascinating text for aspiring artists and art historians alike.  Susan Goldman Rubin has created an accessible and enjoyable masterpiece, which feels like a trip to the Brandywine Art Museum that hosts much of the family’s collection.
Dewey 759 or 920;  Art Biography            Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District

Having spent many afternoons wandering the galleries of Brandywine, this story was an instant attraction for me.  Rubin conveys the Wyeths’ travels and work in a manner that brings it to life for middle aged readers and older.  Each piece of famous art has a story behind it, and I was delighted to learn several new examples.  I will look at Jamie’s Portrait of Pig, Andrew’s famous Christina’s World, and N.C.’s Treasure Island and Robin Hood illustrations with a new appreciation.  This family biography is accessible for newcomers as well as long time devotees to the Wyeth galleries.


Science Slam; Green World, Clean World (series). New York: Bearport Publishing, 2104. 24 p. Gr. 3-6.
Lawrence, Ellen. Dirty Air.  978-1-62724-103-8.
Lawrence, Ellen. Poisoned Rivers & Lakes. 978-1627241052.
Covering the very contemporary hot topic of pollution, these titles explain the processes contaminating and destroying our natural enivoronment as well as the health effects, acid Rain, possible solutions to improve the situation and specific suggestions of what the reader can do. Text includes photos, captions, bolded vocabulary, a Science Lab for hands on explorations, a glossary, index, and additional resources for further investigation.
628.4; Pollution, Environmental Protection  Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


Hall, Brianna. Freedom from Slavery: Causes and Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. North Mankato: Capstone, 2014. 978-1-4765-3930-0. 32 p. Gr. 4-6.
The contents of this book include: Slavery, Emancipation, AND its Effects. Some of the features I liked most about this text were the Fast Facts boxes throughout, the definitions and vocab listed on both the relevant page and in the glossary, the causes were numbered and spelled out, and it included a critical thinking guide and further resources. The appealing layout featured photos, graphs, documents, maps, as well as quotes a nice combination which will hold a student’s attention.
973.71; Slavery, Emancipation         Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


What every child need to know about Cancer. Snyder, R. Bradley and Engelsgjerd, Marc. New York: Need to Know Publishing, Inc. 2014. 978-1-940705-01-9. 22 p. $8.95. Grades 3+
A simple board book can sometimes say just what is needed to say. This book is it. Nothing scary, nothing scientific, just words and photos…..words that explain photos that show. Non-fiction but non-threatening. I wish this book had come a few months earlier. I purchased it from Amazon as a memorial for a former student who just passed away at 15 with leukemia. Her siblings are still in my school  and earlier this spring there were some problems with other students misunderstanding the situation. This would have been a very good book to use in class.
Lourie Stewart                                                         Dunbar Township Elementary 


Wallace, Rich. Babe Conquers the World: The Legendary Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias. 978-1590789810. Honesdale, PA: Calkins Creek, 2014. $16.95. 272p.  Grade 4+.
Husband and wife team Rich and Sandra Neil Wallace have written a fabulous, photo-packed book about one of my childhood heroes, athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Babe was an athletic wonder at a time when several national groups and movements were afoot to ban girls competing in sports at all ages and levels. As the authors state, “Babe wasn’t a feminist and she wasn’t considered feminine. Babe wanted to be the world’s greatest athlete.  Her unstoppable drive changed sports for women.” I enjoyed this breezy book containing fun stories I remember reading about Babe as a girl. Each page contains quote “call outs,” photos, news clippings and other features that make this book a quick and fun read. As the authors chronical Babe’s rise from home town phenom to world class athlete and Olympian, even the chapter titles are clever: “Babe vs. the Boys,” “Babe vs. the Girls,” “Babe vs. the World,” etc. At the end the book contains a timeline, FAQs, and further reading. Highly recommended for your sports, history, and biography fans.
Biography                           Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School