Scott, Traer. Nocturne: Creatures of the Night. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2014. 978-1-61689-288-3. 126 p. $19.95. Gr. 6+.

This is a beautiful, rare glimpse into the lives of nocturnal animals from Traer Scott, who is also the author/photographer of Shelter Dogs. Working with wildlife rehabilitation centers, educational facilities, and conservation-oriented zoos, Scott used a “Little Black Box” made of foam core to photograph smaller animals and insects. Larger animals required a more creative approach, and the results are uniformly stunning and intimate. Included here are exotic animals such as a snow leopard, red panda, serval, and small-eared galago. There are more familiar faces, too, such as a raccoon, beaver, hedgehog, and domestic cat. Scott captures a remarkable range of both personality and pathos in the eyes of these elusive creatures of the night. Each photo spread is accompanied by a paragraph of text that explains the animal’s characteristics, habitat, and challenges to survival. The author notes that many of the animals seen in Nocturne were injured or orphaned, and they now serve as “wildlife ambassadors,” inspiring people (especially children) to care about nature. She concludes the book with a brief overview of the critical threats nocturnal animals face (habitat loss, poaching, and light pollution), and organizations that work to protect animals and their habitats through conservation. It’s a deceptively simple book that will support STEM curriculum, inspire research on endangered species, and catch the interest of casual browsers in the nonfiction section.

Science          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

After reading this book, I was inspired to “adopt” a fennec fox through the World Wildlife Federation as a Christmas gift for my best friend. Doing a small fundraiser and adopting one of the featured animals would make for a fun, rewarding enrichment activity for a Biology class!

Realistic Fiction…And We Stay and All the Bright Places


Hubbard, Jenny. And We Stay. New York:  Delacorte Press, 2014. 978- 0385740579.  240p. $16.99. Gr. 9-12.

Emily Beam is now attending a private boarding school in Massachusetts after the suicide of her boyfriend and the abortion of their baby. As she learns to accept what has happened to her, she discovers Emily Dickinson lived just blocks away from her school. As she begins to process her feelings, she finds herself bursting with poems, and the author uses these poems to let us into the unsettled psyche of a very perceptive and gifted girl as she copes with her past to move forward into her future. This book was honored with starred reviews from SLJ and Kirkus, and is a Michael L. Printz Honor Award Winner. Have Emily Dickinson’s poetry on hand as this book is sure to spark more interest!

Realistic Fiction     Marian Kohan, Erie School District



Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places. New York:  Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015.  978-0385755887. 400p. $17.99. Gr. 10-12.

Seniors Theodore Finch “the freak” and Violet Markey “the cheerleader” meet up on the school’s bell tower ledge where both consider jumping. Theodore suffers from violent outbursts, and it is apparent from this first person alternating narrative that he does not fit in. Popular Violet is still reeling from the death of her older sister in a car accident which she survived. Together they form an unlikely relationship that is highlighted by a class project, where they are partnered, to discover the interesting sights of their state. Through their exploration, Finch and Violet begin to fall in love and try to help each other out of the depressive state they are both in so they can move towards graduation and their future. This book was honored with starred reviews from SLJ, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly.

Realistic Fiction     Marian Kohan, Erie School District

Fatal Fever and Positive…new nonfiction


Jarrow, Gail. Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary. Honesdale, PA:  Calkins Creek, 2015. 978-1-62091-597-4. 176p. $16.95. Gr. 5-12.

Many people have heard of Typhoid Mary but not the whole story, and now with this book, we have a science lesson, a history lesson and a biography.  The reader has to go back in time when cities were making a correlation between poor sanitation and illness, particularly typhoid, a terrible and sometimes deadly disease. Once cities cleaned up the problem, typhoid was on the decline except for some serious outbreaks. Mary Mallon, a cook, was found to have a connection to the spread of typhoid and authorities wanted her so she could be stopped. After her capture, Mary was found to be a healthy carrier. She had never been sick, but examination of her feces found the bacteria thriving. Ultimately Mary was placed in a forced quarantine to protect others.  Overall, she was definitely linked to 47 illnesses and 3 deaths but her whereabouts were unknown at times. Mary died still believing that she was not responsible for making anyone sick. This book has wonderful pictures and graphics to help tell the story of this angry, sad but ultimately dangerous woman. This book was honored with starred reviews from SLJ, Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. It is also the second book of a planned trilogy of books investigating diseases. The first book was Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat and the third book Bubonic Panic will be published in 2016.

614.5112; Epidemics         Marian Kohan, Erie School District



Rawl, Paige and Ali Benjamin. Positive: Surviving My Bullies, Finding Hope, and Changing: the World. New York HarperCollins, 2014. 978- 0062342515  272p. $18.99. Gr. 6-12.

 Paige Rawl was born with HIV, and one day in middle school she told her best friend her secret; thus begins the bullying and harassment that led to her homeschooling and suicide attempt. It also led her on a journey of self-discovery and purpose. By the age of 18 she became instrumental in creating anti-bullying legislation in her state. She also became the face and voice of those affected by AIDS/HIV. Today at the age of 20, she continues to advocate for those who are bullied for any reason and for those whose lives are touched by HIV. “My HIV, I realized, had done something for me that I wouldn’t have known to do for myself: it had given me a way out. It had taken me out of the smallness of the world I’d started in, and given me a glimpse of something bigger. It had shown me things that were far more meaningful than I might have seen otherwise.” Paige’s story and her strength to stand up for what is right and good in the world is just what the title says: Positive.

362.196;  Memior     Marian Kohan, Erie School District

Brown Girl Dreaming…Memoir through Poetry


Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. New York: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014. 978-0-399-25251-8. 336p. Gr. 5 and up.

Woodson beautifully weaves her memories of growing up in Columbus, OH, Greenville (Nicholtown), SC, and New York City, into poems of her youth, family, friends, and ultimately maturation as an African-American born at the height of the Civil Rights movement.  Her use of poetry to tell her story only adds to the memories of Daddy (her maternal grandfather), Dell, Hope, and Roman, her siblings, her mother, and her maternal grandmother.  Each section of this memoir focuses on a different part of her youth, from the geography of moving multiple times, to the impact of being a Witness, to her desire to write and tell stories.  Although each part of her memoir has a distinct focus, they are all intertwined because of Jackie or Jacqueline, depending on the poem and time in her life, and how each memory, event, family member, friend (and sometimes foes) help to shape her character and ultimately her writing.  This is one of the most beautiful memoirs for young people.  Not only do they get to experience Jacqueline Woodson’s youth (and the major movements in history during her youth), but they get to experience the beauty of storytelling through poetry, which in itself is an art.  This is a must have addition to any memoir collection.

811; Memoir  Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

I got to meet Jacqueline Woodson this past summer at ALA, and she is awesome.  She was very friendly and personable.  Her memoir shares her wonderful character as she grows and matures.  Her story will resonate with students who have single-parents, have moved, have been or are being raised by their grandparents, or who are just trying to figure things out in a confusing world.  Each poem adds to the previous and Woodson’s story, but also is a beautiful stand-alone piece.  The individual poems are great examples of using line and form to tell a story and are great examples for creative writing students developing their craft.    Brown Girl Dreaming is a 2015 Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award winner, and Coretta Scott King author award.

The Port Chicago 50


Sheinkin, Steve.  The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014.  978-1-59643-796-8.  200 p.  $19.99.  Gr. 7 and up.

During World War II, Port Chicago was a segregated naval base where black sailors loaded bombs and ammunition onto ships.  Having received no training on the proper handling of explosives, the sailors knew they were doing dangerous, albeit necessary, work.  Then, one fateful day in July of 1944, a massive explosion killed 320 servicemen and injured many more.  Shortly thereafter, in August of 1944, the remaining black servicemen were ordered to return to work loading bombs and ammunition at a new location.  Fifty of these men refused to return to this dangerous work unless working conditions were improved.  These fifty were charged with mutiny, threatened with death by firing squad, and brought to trial in a court-martial.  Fighting not only for their innocence, but also against the racial inequality that was prevalent in the U.S. military during WWII, these brave men helped to change policies and attitudes pertaining to African American servicemen.  Incorporating photographs, primary source reproductions, direct quotes from the sailors themselves, and the involvement of well-known civil rights activists like Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, this book tells the story of 50 unsung heroes of the civil rights movement.

940.54; World War II                                                              Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

The author seems to have really done his research for this book.  He interviewed several of the sailors who were at Port Chicago when the explosion occurred, and his incorporation of their quotes makes the story come alive.  It reads almost like a fiction novel.  The book is an excellent addition to both World War II and civil rights collections.  I could see it being used in a social studies classroom to spark discussion on either of these topics.  Perhaps students could even set up a mock court-martial as they explore the rights of black sailors during WWII from both the white and black man’s perspective.

My True Love Gave to Me…a Holiday short-story collection


Perkins, Stephanie, ed.  My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories. New York: St.      Martin’s Press, 2014. 978-1-250-05930-7. $18.99.  336 p.  Gr. 9+.

This anthology features short stories that revolve around Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and all other folklore, events, and popular figures associated with the winter season.  The stories are written by popular young adult authors, such as Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han, David Levithan, Matt De La Pena, Holly Black, Kelly Link, Laini Taylor, Gayle Foreman, Kiersten White, Ally Carter, and Stephanie Perkins, who is also the editor.  There is a romance theme to most of the stories, but the depth and emotion that each author packs into the limited number of pages is impressive. There are stories of friends who almost become something more each New Year’s Eve, a girl who falls in love with the boy who runs the Christmas tree lot, and a Jewish boy who realizes just how important traditions are as he dresses up like Santa for his boyfriend’s little sister.

Holiday Short Stories   Melissa Daugherty, Sharon City Schools

With one or two exceptions, I loved all of the stories in this collection.  It is the perfect book to curl up with a cup of coffee in front of the fire and get excited about Christmas or winter in general.  Each story is unique and enjoyable in its own right.  I especially liked Rainbow Rowell’s Midnights, It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins, and The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link.

On the Fence


West, Kasie.  On the Fence. New York, NY: HarperTeen, 2014.  978-0-062-23567-1.  $9.99. 304p.  Gr. 9 and up. 

Charlie, short for Charlotte, would choose athletic shorts and Nikes over dresses and make up any day of the week.  Her mother passed away when she was young, which left her father alone to raise Charlie and her three older brothers. She has always been “one of the guys” and automatically gets thrown into the crazy antics of her brothers and their friends, including her almost brother and next door neighbor, Braden.  Charlie gets thrown for a loop when her father makes her pick up a part-time job when she gets her umpteenth speeding ticket.  The only job she can find is in an upscale clothing boutique, and she is completely out of her element when her new boss forces her to wear makeup and girly clothes.  Fearing their taunts, Charlie hides her work persona from her family and friends.  An unexpected midnight run in and deep conversation with Braden leaves Charlie questioning whether her feelings toward him are more than brotherly, but when she shows her feelings he misunderstands her, and she is humiliated.  She throws herself into a relationship with a boy who she met through her new work friends when she was acting like the girly version of Charlie, not her true self. Her life becomes even more confusing when her work and home life collide, and she is forced to explain herself, even to Braden, whose feelings towards her may be more than brotherly as well.

Realistic Fiction    Melissa Daugherty, Sharon City Schools

I wouldn’t say this was one of the best books I read all year, but it was an enjoyable story.  I read it in two sittings and was fully entertained by the characters.  The dynamics of Charlie’s family is my favorite thing about this one.  The relationship she has with her brothers are completely unrealistic to actual siblings, but the interactions are sweet and good natured.  On the Fence is popular with my Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han fans.

The Glass Casket


Templeman, McCormick. The Glass Casket. New York: Delacorte, 2014. 978-0-385-74345-7. 336p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Nag’s End is just a quiet village on the edge of the kingdom until the day five of the king’s soldiers thunder through town bound on an unknown mission.  When the soldiers are discovered brutally killed, many frightened villagers want to write off the incident as a wolf attack, but others, like Tom and his brother Jude are not so sure.  Tom’s best friend Rowan is meanwhile preoccupied with her own mystery.  Fiona Eira, a cousin Rowan never knew she had, has recently arrived in the village.  But instead of welcoming family with open arms, Rowan’s father has forbidden her to speak to her cousin.  Rowan is further conflicted by the interest Tom begins to express towards Fiona.  These situations collide when Fiona is brutally killed like the soldiers.  Could the traditional villagers’ tales of witches, ghosts, goblins and sprites be true?  As Rowan, Tom and Jude investigate the evil seemingly stalking their village, they will be forced to confront their beliefs, their friendships and their familial bonds.  A tale that effectively mixes elements of fantasy, fairy tales, romance, mystery and horror.

Fantasy (Fairy Tale)                                      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS


While this book may have taken a chapter or two to get going, once the action started, it did not let up, and I was fully engaged in the story.  There were many twists and turns in the plot that keep the reader guessing as to who is behind the evil that kills the soldiers and then starts killing villagers.  The story is told through the viewpoints of several of the main characters, though mostly from Rowan’s perspective.  While I categorized this book as a fantasy/fairy tale, as the review above mentions, it also incorporates elements of romance, mystery and horror.  Therefore, it has the potential to appeal to a wide audience of students, not just fantasy lovers.

Series Nonfiction…Essential Lives, Digging up the Past, Sports History, Economics


Essential Lives Set 8 (series). Minneapolis: ABDO Publishing Company, 2014. 112 p. $23.95 Gr. 7+.

Asselin, Kristine Carlson. Martin Luther King Jr.: Civil Rights Leader. 978-1-61783-891-0.      

Boshier, Rosa. Ronald Reagan: 40th US President. 978-1-61783-895-8.                                          

Grayson, Robert. Estée Lauder: Businesswoman and Cosmetics Pioneer. 978-1-61783-892-7.        

Krieg, Katherine. Sam Walton: Founder of the Walmart Empire. 978-1-61783-898-9.                   

Lanser, Amanda. Pope Francis: Spiritual Leader and Voice of the Poor. 978-1-61783-704-3.        

Llanas, Sheila. Jonas Salk: Medical Innovator and Polio Vaccine Developer. 978-1-61783-896-5.

Robinson, Tom. Malcolm X: Rights Activist and Nation of Islam Leader. 978-1-61783-893-4.          

Rowell, Rebecca. Malala Yousafzai: Education Activist. 978-1-61783-897-2.

The title I have is Sam Walton: Founder of the Walmart Empire. This volume was very well written and informative. There is plenty of background information as well as facts about his family and his hopes for the future. His battle with cancer is even addressed. Mr. Walton has changed the way mass retail works in the United States. His contribution to society is acknowledged in this volume, with side notes with quotes from Mr. Walton, family members and other well known people. This will make a good addition to a healthy biography collection. Volume includes timeline, glossary, essential facts, glossary, additional resources, source notes and an index.

Our school has a pretty large collection of biographies. This section is used quite heavily by students doing projects on an individual. If a student was interested in the history of Wal-Mart, I would also steer them to this book.

921, Biography    Kathy Gilbride, North Pocono Middle and High Schools




Digging Up the Past (Series). Minneapolis: ABDO, 2015. 112 p. $23.95. Gr. 6-9.    

Amstutz, Lisa J. Titanic. 978-1-62403-238-7.                                                                                       

Bailey, Diane. Emperor Qin’s Terra-Cotta Army.978-1-62403-232-5.                                                  

Capek, Michael. Stonehenge. 978-1-62403-237-0.                                                                                

Eboch, Chris. Chaco Canyon. 978-1-62403-231-8.                                                                              

Gimpel, Daine Marczely. Pompeii. 978-1-62403-236-3.                                                                      

Lanser, Amanda. Ötzi the Iceman. 978-1-62403-235-6.                                                                  

Meinking, Mary. Machu Picchu. 978-1-62403-234-9.                                                                               

Moore, Shannon Baker. King Tut’s Tomb. 978-1-62403-233-2.

Emperor Qin’s Terra-Cotta Army and Machu Picchu are the books I viewed from this series. Both volumes have clearly labeled Tables of Contents to make finding what you are looking for easier. The books take you through the known history, the discovery of the subject of the book, and then gives some insight as to what sort of legacy is left behind. There are many full color photographs and it is written on a very accessible reading level. I believe students as young as grade three could use them, but they are perfect for middle school. The books contain a timeline, digging up the facts, glossary, additional resources, source notes, and an index.

These books get a lot of use in my school because our sixth graders take a course on ancient civilizations. They were out when students had projects due for the course. Some students will just naturally be drawn to these books for further detail about the subject matter.

931, 985, Ancient Civilizations      Kathy Gilbride, North Pocono Middle and High Schools



Greatest Events in Sports History (Series). Minneapolis: ABDO, 2015. 48 p. $22.95. Gr. 3-6.

Daniel, P. K. Magic vs. Bird in the NCAA Final. 978-1-62403-596-8.                                           

Donnelly, Patrick. Joe Namath’s Super Bowl Guarantee. 978-1-62403-595-1.                                 

Smolka, Bo. Jackie Robinson Breaks the Color Barrier. 978-1-62403-594-4.                                     

Trusdell, Brian. The Miracle on Ice. 978-1-62403-597-5.                                                                

Trusdell, Brian. US Women Win the World Cup.978-1-62403-599-9.                                                             

Williams, Doug. Tiger Woods Makes Masters History. 978-1-62403-598-2.

Readers can experience some of the greatest moments in sports history with this series. US Women Win the World Cup and The Miracle on Ice were the copies that were reviewed. Each book takes you through the background of the team or person, and then presents the events in the manner in which they unfolded. This is a little simplistic for middle school, but many of my lower readers love sports books and having a good selection for them is key. The reviewed copies both included a timeline, glossary, sources for more information and an index.

This series is great to broaden a very focused sports collection. It has topics apart from the mainstream, but high in interest and appeal. Some teachers allow students one sports book for a non-fiction book report, so the series could also be used that way.

796, Sports    Kathy Gilbride, North Pocono Middle and High Schools



The Economics of Entertainment (series). New York: Crabtree, 2014. 48 p. $22.95. Gr. 5-8.

Flatt, Lizann. Economics of the Super Bowl. 978-0-7787-7972-8.                                                     

Hulick, Kathryn. The Economics of a Video Game. 978-0-7787-7970-4.                                      

Johnson, Robin. The Economics of Making a Movie.978-0-7787-7971-1.                                                 

Perl, Sheri. The Economics of a Rock Concert. 978-0-7787-7969-8.

There is a great deal of subject matter contained in these short volumes. It introduces the topics of marketing and capitalism in all four volumes. The books explain the breakdown of the ticket prices, and who makes money on each type of event. Presented in a very appealing format, this series offers side notes, full color photos, and questions that make the reader think about the bigger picture. Each volume contains a glossary, index and a “find out more” section which gives books and websites for further reading. Some of the economics will be beyond the middle graders, but financial literacy should start at a much younger age than it currently does. The most important thing the series does is help students recognize what the difference is between needs and wants. That is a good place to start with financial literacy.

I put this series out on display and the kids just flocked to it. Then when the copies came back, other students were asking for it. Obviously, it is addressing a need in my collection and the entertainment factor helps. We currently don’t have anything in place in our curriculum for which the title could be used, so this series is purely entertainment reading.

791.6608 Entertainment       Kathy Gilbride, North Pocono Middle and High Schools

New Realistic Fiction…Zane, Isla, and Emma


Philbrick, Rodman. Zane and the Hurricane. New York: Scholastic, 2014. 978-0-545-34238-4. 181p. $16.99. Gr. 6-8.

Twelve year old Zane Dupree has traveled from New Hampshire to New Orleans (with his beloved dog Bandy in tow) to meet his great-grandmother Grammy for the first time.  Shortly after his arrival, Hurricane Katrina approaches the city.  Under a mandatory evacuation order, Grammy, Zane, and Bandy leave the city with Grammy’s pastor, when Bandy leaps from the van when it is stuck in traffic.  In a spur of the moment decision, Zane also jumps out of the vehicle in order to rescue his dog.  Zane chases Bandy the entire way back to Grammy’s house in the Lower Ninth Ward.  Boy and dog are in the house when the hurricane strikes.  When the levees break and the neighborhood is flooded, they join up with a pair of fellow flood victims—Mr. Tru, a jazz musician, and his ward, Malvina.  Together, the three (and Bandy) canoe and walk to the Superdome, encountering poisonous snakes, destroyed homes, and dead bodies along the way.  They soon realize that the Superdome will not be a place to get help and they move on, attempting to cross a bridge to Algiers where Tru has family.  Featuring rich characterizations and a realistic depiction of the chaos and tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, this book deserves a place on the library shelf.

Realistic     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS



Perkins, Stephanie. Isla and the Happily Ever After. New York: Dutton, 2014. 978-0-525-42563-2. 339p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Isla is entering her senior year at the School of America in Paris.  She’s had a crush on her classmate Josh since her freshman year at the school but has never really been able to work up the nerve to have a real conversation with him.  A chance meeting in their hometown of New York City over summer break leads to a connection between the two teens that blossoms into friendship, then romance, upon their return to school.  Things are going well until Josh gets expelled from school and sent back to America.  This naturally puts a great deal of strain on their relationship, and Isla soon begins to feel doubts.  Will their relationship be able to survive?

Realistic   Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS


Isla and the Happily Ever After concludes the trilogy Perkins began with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  While it is not necessary to have read the prior two books in order to appreciate Isla and the Happily Ever After, readers of the prior books will enjoy the presence of some familiar (and favorite) characters.  A cut above the average romance, Perkins’ books feature well-developed rich characterizations and depth in the romantic storyline.  (Sure, most readers know going in that Isla is likely to reconcile with Josh at the conclusion of the story, but it’s how Perkins gets to that point in the story that makes this a recommended read).



DeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. New York:  Viking Juvenile, 2014.  978-0670785223. 416p. $17.99. Gr. 9-12.

Emma is at a fireworks display with her father when her world is turned upside down.  A piece of fireworks hits her directly in her eyes blinding her instantly. What follows is the step by step process of Emma’s recovery and eventual return to her high school. Emma’s very large family and her one close friend all adjust to Emma’s new normal. While Emma is beginning her recovery, a childhood friend drowns in a nearby lake, in what may be a suicide, shocking all of the local teens who grew up with her.  What would make her do such a thing?  While at times Emma herself has wished that she were dead, she understands that what Claire did affects them all and starts a group to talk about it to help everyone sort out their feelings including her own.

This book is an amazing look at what it would be like to be suddenly blinded. The author goes through all the necessary and practical steps that help Emma become more independent. Told in first person, it is easy to get into Emma’s mind as she now has to relearn how to live and function in her now dark world.

Realistic Fiction      Marian Kohan, Erie School District