Eaton III, Maxwell. The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Hot-Air Baboons. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. 978-0-385-75466-8. unpaged. $6.99. Gr. K-4.
Beaver brothers Ace and Bub are back in another wacky adventure. Baboons have invaded Beaver Island with a fancy invention—a giant hair dryer that melts all the snow on Beaver Island, creating a never-ending water supply and swimming pools. Most of the beavers are excited until Ace and Bub get wind that the baboons are acting suspicious. Ace and Bub to the rescue!
Eaton’s signature illustrations combine black, white, and gray illustrations with bright touches of one color. This book uses red, perfect for the heat that comes from baboons’ giant hair dryer. The Beaver Brothers’ stories are never very complicated but are full of slapstick humor and will be popular with graphic novels fans of many ages.
741.5; Graphic Novel Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Pilkey, Dav. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot. New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-63106-8. 108 p. $15.99. Gr. K-3.
Pilkey, Dav. Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes From Mercury. New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-63108-2. 124 p. $15.99. Gr. K-3.
Ricky Ricotta is a happy but small mouse who doesn’t have any friends. His father assures him that someday something big will happen and he will find a pal. This big something comes in the form of a mighty robot created by Dr. Stinky McNasty to destroy the city; instead of following the plan, the peaceful robot becomes best friends with Ricky. Of course, Dr. McNasty attempts revenge but the mighty robot and Ricky end up on top. The adventures continue in several other books including Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mutant Mosquitoes From Mercury in which Ricky and his mighty robot save the city from some nasty mosquitoes from Mercury.
This series was originally published in 2000 but has been redone with art by Dan Santat that includes some graphic novel-style pages and a “flip-o-rama” section (complete with instructions) that readers can flip to animate the action. The illustrations are vibrant and action-packed, and the series is sure to draw in young students and reluctant older readers.
Fiction Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Grove, S.E. The Glass Sentence (Mapmakers Trilogy, Book 1). New York: Viking Books, 2014.
978-0670785025. 512p. $16.00. Gr. 5+.
A century after the Great Disruption of 1799 when the world’s continents and countries were fractured into different time periods ranging from decades to thousands of years apart, Sophia lives with her famous cartographer uncle and his amazing collection of maps. Shortly before they plan to depart on a rescue mission to bring her parents back before the borders close forever, Sophia returns home to find it ransacked and her uncle kidnapped. With the help of her new friend, Theo, a refugee from the West, she must travel to the Baldlands to unravel a secret which could restore the world’s time clock. This fantasy adventure filled with time travel, technology, pirates, mythical creatures and magic will enchant your fans of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Golden Compass, Wrinkle in Time etc…an excellent segue to young adult steampunk for your upper elementary grades.
Steampunk/Fantasy Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School
Harrell, Rob Life of Zarf: The Trouble with Weasels. New York: Dial, 2014. 978-0-8037-4103-4 . $14.99. 282p. Gr. 4 – 7.
Zarf is a troll: yes, the kind that lives under a bridge. You may’ve heard of his grandpa, who made the papers for scaring a few billy goats, who eventually outwitted him. Yes, he was outsmarted by farm animals. Well, everyone knows trolls aren’t too bright. But they are strong, brave, and have a fierce temper! Zarf is a middle schooler, who along with his neurotic best friend Kevin Littlepig (of the “3 Littlepig”s family), and Chester, the totally unfunny son of the King’s court jester, have to navigate middle school life at the absolute bottom of the social strata. Things start to get really interesting when the kindly King Cheznott and a band of royal knights set off in pursuit of the menacing and deadly 7’ Snuffweasels who’ve been meancing the town, and the royal party goes missing. This puts the King’s bratty son Prince Roquefort in charge, and the Prince HATES Zarf. Zarf’s temper gets the best of him, the ugliness between troll and Prince comes to a head, and before you know it the Prince and his ogre body guards, and Zarf and his ragged band of buddies, set off separately in hot pursuit of the Snuffweasels, to hilarious effect.
This super funny book is illustrated on every page, Wimpy-Kid-style, with many of the black and white cartoonish scenes integral to the story and moving along the action and dialog. A host of characters from fairy tales and folk tales appear, twisted fairy-tale style, and Harrell tosses in lots of jokes for grownups that perhaps many kids won’t get, so I’d highly recommend this as a “read together” for ages 9+ and their parents or babysitter. This could also be a fun read-aloud in a small group so illustrations could be shown, or shown on a projector, because they are not to be missed! Highly recommended for fun.
Magical/Humorous Fiction Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Faulkner, Brian. Northwood. North Mankato : Capstone, 2014. 978-1-4342-8667-3. 271 pages. $26.60. Grades 3-6.
Cecelia Undergarment has an unusual name. She also lives in an unusual house made of giant balloons . One day as she attempts to rescue a neglected dog from the neighborhood, Cecelia’s life takes a dramatic turn. Her room, the topmost balloon in the house is knocked free and begins to float over a dark forest. The forest of Northwood is a wild and forbidding place, and those who have ventured there never return. Rumor has it that lions also live there, hunting anyone or anything that enters. Cecelia’s balloon comes to rest at the top of a tree in the middle of Northwood. And so begins her harrowing journey to escape. This book is action packed, yet an easy read (it is part of the Stone Arch series of high interest/low reading level series). Readers will love the twists and turns and high suspense of Cecelia’s journey through the woods.
Fantasy Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Miller, Davis Worth. HG Wells’s The War of the Worlds (Graphic Resolve: Common Core editions series). N. Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2014. 978-1-4965-0018-2. 72p. $26.65. Gr. 4-9.
This beautifully illustrated retelling of the classically chilling HG Wells tale will surely entice your SciFi fans. Written with spare, easy-to-read dialog and narration to appeal to lower level and reluctant readers of any age. The book is prefaced with a page detailing Orson Welles’s 1938 radio broadcast that hoaxed and shocked the nation. Unlike the War of the Worlds movies, the original tale is set in the English countryside and begins with a meteor seen 6 years prior to the Martian attack. End features include glossary, and common core-aligned reading and writing questions. There are now 20 titles in this Graphic Resolve collection and I’d recommend them for librarians looking to beef up their graphic novel collection for early and reluctant readers.
741.5 Graphic Novel Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraf. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (Graphic Resolve: Common Core editions series). N. Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2014. 9781496500090. 72p. $26.65. Gr. 4-9.
This beautifully illustrated book opens with a page explaining the origins of Mary Shelley’s story – she and other authors thought up a ghost-story contents in 1816 and the idea for her masterpiece came to her in a dream! – and explains how the monster’s name never was Frankenstein. Written with spare, easy-to-read dialog and narration to appeal to lower level and reluctant readers of any age. The book is prefaced with a page detailing Orson Welles’s 1938 radio broadcast that hoaxed and shocked the nation. End features include glossary, and common core-aligned reading and writing questions. There are now 20 titles in this Graphic Resolve collection and I’d recommend them for librarians looking to beef up their graphic novel collection for early and reluctant readers.
741.5 Graphic Novel Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Martin, Ann M. Rain Reign. New York: Feiwel and Friends, 2014. 978-0-312-64300-3. 223 p. $16.99. Gr. 3-6.
Rose Howard lives in rural Hatford with her single father who works (sometimes) at a garage down the road and spends a good deal more time at the local pub. Rose is a special child with a diagnosis of high-functioning autism, and while she’s bright and caring her special interests and rules are hard for most people, including her father, to understand. Her Uncle Weldon serves as a caring, compassionate adult who takes an interest in Rose’s unusual hobby of keeping a list of homonyms, but she blossoms with the love of a stray dog that her father finds in the rain and brings home one evening. She names the dog Rain (rain, reign, an excellent homonym), and they become best friends. When Hurricane Susan hits Hatford, Rain goes missing in the storm and Rose and Uncle Weldon do everything imaginable to find her—but when they do, Rose learns that Rain was microchipped as a puppy and really belongs to another family who has been looking for her for over a year. Rose feels compelled to both follow the rules and follow her heart and find Rain’s original family. Break out the tissues!
This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read in some time. The book reminds me slightly of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. Rose is a fascinating narrator but as an adult it was difficult to read about her solitary life. Her father provides for her but clearly does not have the patience to understand how his daughter’s mind works nor does he have the ability to understand what she needs from an adult caregiver. Luckily, her Uncle Weldon is there to fulfill this role. The real highlight of the book is Rose’s relationship with Rain. If you own a dog or are a dog lover you will appreciate this authentic bond between a girl and her best four-legged friend, making it all the more difficult to see Rose part with her dog in hopes of finding Rain a happier home. Rose may not express emotions frequently but she has a very caring heart. Both boys and girls will love this story and it would make an excellent read-aloud for a classroom (noting that there are several mentions to her father’s frequent stops at The Luck of the Irish bar). A must read.
Fiction Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Allen, Elise, and Halle Stanford. illustrated by Paige Pooler. Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters: Autumn’s Secret Gift. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 978-1-61963-256-1. 123 p. $15.99. Gr. 2-4.Sisters Summer, Winter, Spring and Autumn are responsible for changing the season and live away from the Outworlders and their existence is unknown to humans. Of all of the sisters, Mother Nature bestows Autumn with a gift to keep as a secret for Serenity’s birthday. Normally Autumn serves as the judge when Summer, Winter and Spring participate in a Sparkle-Powers Contest, but this time she participates and things go wrong with keeping the surprise safe. The sisters work together to try and save the gift, but will Autumn have the courage to tell Mother Nature the truth? The series is a fine introduction to chapter books for readers and continues with Winter’s Flurry Adventure, Spring’s Sparkle Sleepover, and Summer’s Friendship Games.
Fiction, Friendship, Seasons Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
Brown, Jeffrey. Star Wars Jedi Academy: Return of the Padawan. New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-62125-0. 176 p.$12.99. Gr. 3-7
Enter the second novel in the hit series Jedi Academy. The start of this school year is very different because now Roan is thrilled to continue Jedi Academy and spend time with his friends Gaiana and Pasha. Homeroom teacher will be the famous Master Yoda and a major challenge will be learning to compete in the lightsaber fencing tournament. The novel presents a contemporary feel with posts and comments to his ‘holobook,’ “holochat,’and ‘holomail’account.Fans of the Origami Yoda books by Tom Angleberger series will also enjoy seeing the Jedi Academy series develop. The style of the novel with narrative and comic panels will also appeal to readers of Big Nate or Diary of the Wimpy Kid.
Fiction, Friendship Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School