December BOB Nonfiction


Bausum, Ann. Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2014. 978-1-42631-487-2. 72 p. $30. Gr. 4-8.
This books details the true story of stray dog Stubby; he had the good fortune of being in the right place at the right time and his life was truly extraordinary. Stubby lived around the Yale University athletic fields. These fields were used as training grounds for soldiers during World War I, so Stubby met lots of new friends and always had enough food thanks to the army cooks. He was a very friendly dog who became very attached to one soldier, J. Robert Conroy, and they became best friends. Stubby was also very smart. He learned all the military commands, how to march in formation with soldiers, and even how to salute! When it came time for J. Robert Conroy to ship off to France to fight in the war, he smuggled Stubby on to the ship and took him to France. Stubby spent the whole war with his friend. He became the mascot for his division but he also helped alert soldiers when attacks were coming, helped find wounded soldiers, and was a friend to all.

This book is amazing, just like Stubby. Bausum does a wonderful job of incorporating facts and information about World War I and soldier life while telling Stubby’s story. It’s also very visually appealing with lots of photographs and sidebars of information. It would be an excellent resource for a research project but the text is difficult and is best suited for students in grades 5+. Some of my third and fourth grade students have checked it out and they enjoy perusing the photos and extra information on Stubby.
beautifully done.
History 940.4                  Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Life on the Front Lines (Series). North Mankato: Capstone, 2014. $20.49ea. Gr. 3-5.
Cooke, Tom. The Gulf War on the Front Lines. 978-1-4914-0852-0.
Cooke, Tom. The U.S.Civil War on the Front Lines. 978-1-4914-0848-3.
Cooke, Tom. The Vietnam War on the Front Lines. 978-1-4914-0851-3.
Cooke, Tom. World War I on the Front Lines. 978-1-4914-0849-0.
Cooke, Tom. World War II on the Front Lines. 978-1-4914-0850-6.
With eyewitness accounts and on the scenes photos, students will get a glimpse of what life was like on the front lines of the U.S. military’s most important battles. Students who love learning about history and military will enjoy this bold and first-hand account of soldiers on the battlefield. Series is well done and expresses the challenges and tragedy of war without excessive violence.
900; History              Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School


Bryant, Jen.  The Right Word, Roget and his Thesaurus.  Massachusetts, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014.  978-0-8028-5385-1. 42p.  $12.60. Gr. 3-6.
Not only is this an interesting and well thought out biography, it is illustrated in a collage format that ideally depicts Roget’s train of thought and organizational style.  Although it is a book with a combination of many different styles it is informative, entertaining and a great resource for elementary readers who enjoy biographies.  Difficulties may arise for early readers due to different font styles and sizes along with different patterns of words, word bubbles and collages, but readers that love a challenge and enjoy the book immensely. The wealth of information provided in the back of the books, from author’s notes, illustrators notes, principle evens, further reading provide numerous possibilities for extension activities and enrichment.
92 Biography                        Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


Know your numbers (series of 6). Minneapolis, MN: Abdo Publishing, 2015. 24p. Reading/Interest Level preK- Grade 2. Accelerated Reader Tests for all.  Reinforced Library Bound Hardcovers  $15.95eBooks  $25.95.
Animals:  Lib bdg. 9781624032646   eBook 9781629686073
Food: Lib bdg. 9781624032653         eBook 9781629686080
Nature: Lib bdg. 9781624032660       eBook 9781629686097
School: Lib bdg. 9781624032677       eBook 9781629686103
Sports: Lib bdg. 9781624032684       eBook 9781629686110
Toys: Lib bdg.    9781624032691        eBook 9781629686127
Counting is great….Counting your favorite things: even better. This series counts different items in the same category up to twenty. There is a sentence describing the picture. Below is the number in counting form, in its number form, and its written form. At the very bottom of the page, a number line highlights the number in order it falls from one to twenty.

Teaching in a school with several special education classes, this book would be a great aid to teaching those special needs students as the counting is in various forms and the different topics provide multiple ways to reach the students.
Lourie Stewart               Dunbar and Connellsville Township Elementary Schools

where on earth

Kalman, Bobbie. Where on Earth are……? part of the Explore the Continents series. New York: Crabtree Publishing, 2014. Interest Level: Grades 4-7. Accelerated Reader tests available.
These are the four newest titles for Fall 2014, there are seven more in series.
Where on Earth are Deserts?      9780778704997   $19.95
Where on Earth are Rivers?        9780778705024   $19.95
Where on Earth are Forests?      9780778705000   $19.95
Where on Earth are Mountains? 
9780778705017   $19.95
Students will learn about key landforms found on each of the seven continents. Each book includes photographs, maps, and diagrams to help explain how different mountains, rivers, deserts, and forests were created, and how each landform influences climate, people, plants, and animals in a geographic area. Also includes an index and glossary.
Lourie Stewart                                 Dunbar and Connellsville Township Elementary Schools


Lennie, Charles. Abdo Kids Construction Machines Series. North Mankato, MN.: Abdo Publishing, 2015.  24p. Interest Level K-2. Accelerated Reader for all books.
Bulldozers:  Lib bdg. 9781629700151 $19.95
         eBook   9781629701134  $29.95
  Read to Me ebooks  9781629702117 $34.95
Concrete Mixers:  Lib bdg. 9781629700168  $19.95
                                 eBook  9781629701141  $29.95
           Read to Me ebooks  9781629702124 $34.95
Cranes:          Lib bdg. 9781629700175 $19.95
                          eBook 9781629701158  $29.95
     Read to Me ebooks 9781629702131 $34.95
Dump Trucks: Lib bdg. 9781629700182 $19.95
                          eBook  9781629701165  $29.95
      Read to Me ebooks 9781629702148  $34.95
Excavators:    Lib bdg. 9781629700199  $19.95
                           eBook 9781629701172  $29.95
      Read to Me ebooks 9781629702155  $34.95
Loaders:        Lib bdg. 9781629700205 $19.95
                          eBook 9781629701189 $29.95
    Read to Me ebooks 9781629702162  $34.95
Beep! Beep! Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Move Over! Abdo Kids has brought the toughest construction machines to young students in the library. Students can learn why each construction machine is important at the job site, what makes them special, and more. To add to that there is a facts section and glossary. The photography is bold and bright.

I received two in my box of goodies, and the rest are definitely on my list to order.
Lourie Stewart                                          Dunbar and Connellsville Township Elementary Libraries


Loewen, Nancy.  Helen of Troy Tells All: Blame the Boys (The Other Side of the Myth series).  N. Mankato, MN: Picture Window Books, 2015.  978-1-4795-2182-1.  32 pages.  $26.65.  Grades 2-3.
There are plenty of paths to sharing ancient stories of myths and monsters, but this series takes an accessible and humorous twist.  Younger readers will enjoy hearing the story told in the first person, framed as an exclusive interview in the Temple Times.  While the format doesn’t quite hold the periodical style, the illustrations, spacing and wording make it a fitting retelling for the intended audience.  In Blame the Boys, Helen of Troy defends herself by letting the reader know that she didn’t ask for all the attention that goes with her unmatched beauty.  The consequences are explained reasonably and with wit, including the thousand ships and Trojan Horse.  Readers can compare the text to other examples and discuss where the blame really lies.  Other myths explored in the series include Cyclops, Medusa, Medea, and Pandora.  A worthy addition to your lore collection.
390; Mythology             Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District


Mason, Helen.  Is it Natural or Human-Made?  (What’s the Matter series)New York, NY: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2014.  978-0-7787-0535-2.  24 pages.  $??.  Grades K-2.
What is Matter, what defines it, and what are the properties we use to describe matter?  These are the straight-forward questions that this ten book series tackles with logic, illustrations, and examples.  Most useful is the repeated examples for each concept, including review questions, experiments and repetitive language.  The vocabulary may be a challenge for independent reading, but these are science terms brought to a primary level of understanding.  Each book includes a table of content (divided into inquiry style questions), headings, and an index (lacking is a clear glossary).  By looking at the whole set, a child could easily group the contrasting and similar objects based on their properties.  So, What’s the Matter?  Everything around us!
530; Physical Science         Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District

December BOB Picture Books


Marko, Cyndi. Kung Pow Chicken: The Birdy Snatchers. New York: Scholastic, Inc, 2014. 978-0-545-61072-8. $15.99. Gr. 1-3.
In this third book in the Kung Pow Chicken series, we are once again taken on a humorous adventure with Gordon Blue, superhero chicken. As the story begins, all is quiet and safe in the city of Fowladelphia. However, like most superheroes, Gordon has a feeling that something bad is bound to happen. On a seemingly ordinary morning, Gordon and his brother Benny arrive at school to find all of their teachers acting like zombies! With a little bit of research, the two learn that there is a new villain in town – Birdbrain. In an age-old tale of jealousy and revenge, Birdbrain creates a device to make all of the smart chickens act like zombies in hopes of becoming the brainiest chicken in Fowladelphia. Luckily, after finding a place to hide, Gordon and Benny emerge as Kung Pow Chicken and Egg Drop, ready to save the city! The two, along with new sidekick Annie aka Beak Girl, devise and execute a plan to stop Birdbrain in his tracks.

Written as a graphic novel, this will easily attract emerging readers, especially those interested in transitioning into juvenile fiction and chapter books. The Birdy Snatchers, just like all of the other Kung Pow Chicken books, is fun, bright, and silly, and with the addition of zombies to the already popular theme of super heroes, book number 3 is is bound to be a hit!
Picture Book/Graphic Novel         Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary


Haughton, Chris.  Shh! We Have a Plan.  Massachusetts: CandlewickPress, 2014.  978-0-7636-7293-5. 36p.  $15.99. Gr. K-2.
A fantastic display of simple texts and bright, dynamic pictures.  In a simple style the author portrays every youngest child’s problem.  They feel that no one listens to them.  As the characters try to capture the bird, the readers try to anticipate what will happen next.  An excellent read aloud, and a great way to teach inferences.  Not only entertaining to young readers but also enjoyed by older readers.  The text is simple and few words on the pages make it a fantastic way to practice reading skills.
Fiction: Picture Book                             Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


Uegaki, Chieri. Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin. New York: Kids Can Press, 2014. 978-1-894786-33-1. $16.95. Gr. 1-3.
Hana announces to her older brothers that she will be playing the violin in an upcoming talent show, even after only a few lessons. At first, her brothers are amused and tease her for what they believe to be a disastrous idea. Hana does not seem to be bothered by their jokes, but instead puts all of her focus and energy into practicing, as well as remembering the person who inspired her to play the violin in the first place – her grandfather. Hana thinks fondly of Ojichan, who was once Second Violin in a great orchestra in Kyoto. She recalls the summer when she held a violin for the very first time and when Ojichan would play his lovely music morning, afternoon, and night. Hana loved the sounds Ojichan was able to make with his violin, and she used those memories to help her prepare for the talent show. When the day arrived for Hana to get on stage and perform, she imagined Ojichan sitting in the audience. She let the rest of the world disappear and thought of Ojichan waving, smiling, and telling her to do her best.

This is a truly sweet story with great themes and so many different avenues for cross-curricular learning. There is room to discuss music, Japan, and language, as well as trying your best and even remembering loved ones who are no longer with us.
Picture Book             Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary

December BOB Fiction


Maddox, Jake.  Second-Chance Soccer (Jake Maddox JV series). North Mankato: Capstone, 2014.  978-1-4342-9154-7.89 p.  $24.65.  Gr. 4 and up.
Alex has always wanted to be part of the Longhorn Lightning soccer team.  But last year’s tryout didn’t go so well.   He is working up the nerve to try out again, but he knows that they only take the best of the best.  He also has to contend with a mean member of the Lightning team who consistently tells him he is not good enough.  Then a new friend offers to help Alex practice for the try-out.  Will he take him up on the offer?  Can he improve and build both his skills and his confidence before the big day? 

Sports fans will relate to many of the lessons in this book.  Unfortunately, mean players and intense coaches who are driven to win are situations that many young sports players have to deal with.  This was well written and the characters were believable.  These are an appealing longer version of the popular Jake Maddox series.  There are three others in this series with stories about baseball, basketball and football. These seem like great series that I want to have on my shelf to inspire some reluctant readers!
Realistic Fiction                   Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Eddleman, Peggy. Sky Jumpers: The Forbidden Flats (Book 2, Sky Jumpers Series). New York: Random House, 2104. 978-0307981318. 262p. $16.99. Gr. 3-7.
In the aftermath of World War III, the earth is surrounded by the poisonous gas known as the Bomb’s Breath. Only Hope and the other Sky Jumpers have figured out how to pass through it and survive. When a massive earthquake rocks the earth, the Bomb’s Breath begins to descend on White Rock. Hope and her friends need to pass through the crime infested Forbidden Flats in the Rocky Mountain wilderness to get the one thing that might stop it. Fans of book 1 will love book 2 even more! Great series for your young Sci Fi junkies.
Dystopian Science Fiction         Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary


Mullarkey, Lisa.  Trail Ride Troubles ( Storm Cliff Stables Series). Minneapolis: ABDO, 2014. 978-1-62402-052-0. 112p. Grades 2 and up.
Mullarkey, Lisa.  Campfire Capers ( Storm Cliff Stables Series) Minneapolis; ABDO, 2014. 978-1-62402-049-0. 112 p.   Grades 2 and up.
Mullarkey, Lisa.  Horsenapped ( Storm Cliff Stables Series) Minneapolis; ABDO, 2014. 978-1-62402-0510-3 112 p. Grades 2 and up.
Mullarkey, Lisa.  Gold Medal Glitch ( Storm Cliff Stables Series) Minneapolis; ABDO, 2014. 978-1 62402-050-6. 112 p.   Grades 2 and up.
Avery, Bree, Esha and Jaelyn are four friends who are spending their summers at Storm Cliff Stables summer camp.  They are very different girls, but their love of horses brings them together to solve mysteries and save their beloved camp.  Each girl has her own talents and fears, but the “Core Four” encourage each other to do their best, and forgive each other when they mess up.  These are sweet stories of friendships, overcoming fears and difficult family situations all woven together with a love of horses.   These would definitely appeal to my horse lovers from late first and early second grade up.
Realistic Fiction               Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Armstong, K.L. and M.A. Marr. Odin’s Ravens: The Blackwell Pages Book 2. New York: Little Brown, 2014. 978-0-316-20498-9. 342 p. $17.00 Gr. 4-7
NOTE: I reviewed the ARC (advanced readers copy from the publisher; a proof that sometimes contains errors). Fan of Rick Riordan are sure to find adventure with the second novel in the Blackwell Pages series infused with Norse mythology. The novel begins as the descendants of Thor and Loki are trying to rescue their friend Baldwin from Hel. This rescue leads them to face Jotunn, a multi-eyed dog, dead Vikings, and zombies from acid water. In order to prevent doomsday, the friends have to face both betrayal and disappointment to work together in battles.Students should read Loki’s Wolves first as this is not a standalone novel.
Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology Fiction            Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Ryan, Carrie and John Parke Davis. The Map to Everywhere. New York: Little, Brown, 2014. 978-0-316-24077-2. 423 p. $17.00. Gr. 3-6.
If only Marrill could find a cure to help her mother. Marrill is used to a life of adventure with her parents, but she unexpectedly enters a mysterious and magical Pirate ship in Arizona. Fin, an orphan, is used to being alone and forgotten, but when his path weaves with Marrill’s this causes a change. Their quest is to collect the five major pieces to create the Bintheyr Map to Everywhere and this process could last over 300 years. The Pirate Stream is ancient and mystical water which is how they travel as they try to put a halt to the end of the world. Fin finally has a friend, but what happens if the stream returns Marrill to her family? Readers could learn the components that make the map and they could be propelled to learn more about cartography. The novel has received star reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.
Fiction, Action, Adventure, Family             Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Dairman, Tara. All Four Stars. Penguin Young Readers Group. 2014.9780399162527. 288 pgs. $16.99. Ages 8-12.
Gladys Gatsby loves to cook and eat! You could say it’s her passion. Unfortunately, her parents don’t feel the same about food. Their idea of a good meal is a buffet that contains brown Jell-O. Secretly, Gladys has been cooking after school before her parents get home from work, but her parents arrived home early to find her using her father’s blowtorch on one of her recipes, which causes Gladys to branch out and explore new hobbies. Gladys makes new friends, writes an amazing essay, and is offered a job with a major newspaper, which requires her to become extremely creative. This is a great book that encourages kids to be different and explore their personal interests no matter what others may say!
Realistic Fiction            Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial


Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. New York: Amulet Books, 2014. 978-1-4197-1189-3.             217 p. $13.99. Gr. 4-8.
Greg Heffley is back with another dose of “wimpy kid” in The Long Haul. The ninth addition to the series sees the Heffley family embarking on a road trip inspired by mom’s “Family Frolic” magazine. While the magazine article promises a family bonding experience, the Heffley family seems to attract bad luck and their trip is far from the educational, wholesome trip of which mom is dreaming. Greg knows that the trip is going to be a trying experience when his mom whips out a Flat Stanley to accompany them on the trip and pops in the “Learn to Speak Spanish” CD’s as she hands out their Mommy Meal lunches (another “Family Frolic” idea). The gang returns home mostly unscathed after a few run-ins with seagulls, the Beardo family, a small fender bender. Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy Kinney’s latest addition.

I love the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series for the excitement that it inspires in many different readers and also because the books are just hysterical. I didn’t laugh quite as much with this book as I have in the past but there’s no doubt that it’s funny. The series wouldn’t be the same without Kinney’s cartoon drawings which are really half the fun. Buy a few copies—it will fly off the shelves.
Fiction                Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Auxier, Jonathan. The Night Gardener. Amulet Books. 2014.9781419711442. 368 pages. $16.95. Ages 10-14.
Molly is a great story teller, but no story she has ever told compares to the story she is getting to live in real life. She and her brother Kip are orphaned and must leave Ireland in order to find work. Molly agrees to work for a well-known family that is down on their luck and lives in the old family mansion that seems to be taken over by the tree in the front yard. Little do they realize the power of the tree and how it is transforming the family, and now Molly. With the help of everyone in the house, they must find a way to stop the ‘night gardener’ and free the family of the curse the tree has over all of them. You may not want to read this before going to bed! It is a little scary, but a true page turner!
Folktale/Mystery                Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial


Salisbury, Graham. Under the Blood Red Sun – Exclusive Teacher’s Edition. 978-0-553-521624. New York: Ember/Random House, 2014. 246p + un-numbered teacher resource pages in the back. $6.99. Gr 6+.
It’s September 1941 and Tomikazu “Tomi” Nakaji is a 13-year-old growing up on Oahu. Tomi’s mom keeps house for the Wilson family, and the Nakajis live in a tenant bungalow on the Wilson’s large property. Tomi and his best friend Billy are most interested in baseball, doing well in school, and tending the Nakaji’s racer pigeons. Tomi’s parents and Grampa were all born in Japan but Tomi and his little sister Kimi were born in America. Being Japanese-looking in Oahu is no big thing; so many people there are from somewhere else. Then everything changes for Tomi, his friends, and everyone on the island on December 7 when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Tomi’s dad is a fisherman who was out to sea when the bombing happened. Will he come back or is he a casualty of the attack? Now the Wilson’s don’t want Tomi’s mom to work for them any longer, and the Nakaji family is worried the Wilsons will evict them from their property. Public school is called off indefinitely as the island scrambles to make sense of the attack and shore up defenses. Teenager Keet Wilson has long been Tomi’s tormentor but now Keet’s bullying takes on a more insidious and sinister form. Everywhere Tomi goes he’s subject to verbal barbs, “Buddha head,” “Jap,”…but he’s an American! 

In 1994 Under the Blood Red Sun won the Scott O’Dell award for historical fiction, and this is the 20th Anniversary re-release and Teachers Edition. Salisbury, who grew up in Hawaii, tells Tomi’s story in the first person, which beautifully conveys one family’s personal pathos as well as transporting the reader to that time, place, and circumstance. I especially enjoyed Salisbury’s use of “Pidgin,” Hawaii’s “official” slang dialect, to add authenticity. Teacher resources at the end of the book include an extensive list of sources for further investigation, a pre-reading activity regarding internment of Japanese-Americans, questions for group discussion, 3 pages of suggested activities, vocabulary notes, and an interview with the author. Highly recommended for your middle-grade through high school readers who enjoy history, and would also be an excellent class or Lit Group required reading selection. Salisbury wrote a whole suite of companion books: House of the Red Fish (sequel to Under the Blood Red Sun), Eyes of the Emperor, and Hunt for the Bamboo Rat (review below).
Historical Fiction    Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School


Salisbury, Graham. Hunt for the Bamboo Rat. 978-0-375842665. New York: Ember/Random House, 2014. 321p + glossary. $16.99. Gr 6+.
This book is a novelization of the true story of Richard Sakakida’s undercover military service during WWII in the Philippines. Like Under the Blood-Red Sun, tells the story of a teenaged Japanese-American boy living in Hawaii in 1941 whose parents were born in Japan. But in this book the protagonist Zenji Watanabe joins the army and is recruited to spy on the Japanese in the Philippines. Award-winning author Salisbury’s dialog-rich writing style provides quick character development and realism. 

I’d heartily recommend Hunt for the Bamboo Rat for history buffs grade 6 and up. The book would also work well as a history class or Lit Group selection. Salisbury wrote a whole suite of companion books: Under the Blood-Red Sun  \(review above), House of the Red Fish (sequel to Under the Blood-Red Sun), and Eyes of the Emperor.
Historical Fiction    Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School