Tommy: The Gun that Changed America


Blumenthal, Karen.  Tommy: The Gun that Changed America.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 978-1-62672-084-8. 232 p.  $19.99.  Gr. 7 and up.

During WWI, John Thompson began developing the Thompson submachine gun in order to assist American soldiers engaged in trench warfare.  Because the war ended before development was complete, however, Thompson and his associates had to find a new market for what became known as the Tommy gun.  They instead promoted the gun as a protective weapon for police, military men, bankers, and other big business owners.  Although sales flyers insisted that the Tommy gun was “on the side of law and order,” the fact that there was little regulation of gun sales meant that Tommy guns soon fell into the hands of gangsters and criminals.  Set during the turbulent 1920s and 1930s, this book is chock-full of photographs and exciting stories about several notorious historical figures, including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and J. Edgar Hoover.  An excellent addition to any social studies curriculum, the book includes a thorough bibliography of sources for further research and takes a careful look at the way the Tommy gun impacted society and triggered a debate about gun control that continues today.

600s; Firearms     Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

This book is very well-written and reads more like a thriller, especially during the chapters that focused on famous American gangsters, than nonfiction.  I could see the book appealing to boys looking for a “cops and robbers” story.  It will also appeal to history buffs and gun enthusiasts.  Written in easily accessible language and containing many primary source photographs, this book is well-suited for lower-level and reluctant readers as well.  It is definitely a must-have addition to U.S. history collections!

All the Bright Places


Niven, Jennifer. All The Bright Places. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 978-0-385-75589-4. $17.99. 388p. Gr. 9-12.
Finch is in search of the perfect day.  Precariously perched on the overhang at the top of the bell tower, pondering life, he meets Violet.  Popular and beautiful, Violet is simply going through the motions, counting down the days until high school is over.  The sudden death of her sister only months earlier has left her guilt-ridden and empty — until she meets Finch.  Fates intervenes once again, and the two young scholars begin working on a school project, investigating the natural phenomena of Indiana.  They begin the “wanderings” of their great home state at first by bicycle and eventually via Finch’s minivan as he helps Violet overcome her phobia of cars due to her sister’s crash.  In the midst of discovering hidden wonders and secret niches, they discover first love, friendship and honesty.  All too soon, the dark time implodes on Finch.  His sudden disappearance crushes Violet, and since his parents’ apathy won’t involve the authorities, she attempts to move on.  She’s fairly successful until an ominous phone call from his sister and a coded email from Finch impel Violet to become involved in his rescue.  Racking her brain to make sense of the message, she begins a frantic and earnest search for Finch.

Told in alternating voices, Finch and Violet are reminiscent of Eleanor and Park.  The honest portrayal of teenage angst and manic behavior will stay with the reader long after the final word has been read.  Look for the movie starring Elle Fanning.

Realistic Fiction      Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Not often does a book come along that makes a reader feel as though the characters are people they have met. Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet at the most unlikely place – at the top of the bell tower where they are both thinking about jumping.  Finch is credited with saving Violet and continues to enter her life in the most unexpected ways. After years of knowing Finch as the outcast because of his borderline behavior, Finch has a hard time socially.  In social studies class, he volunteers to be Violet’s partner in a project detailing the lost unique places of Indiana. Finch is not the only one who has dysfunction in the family.  Violet’s parents are loving and involved, but dealing with the sudden death of their other daughter, Eleanor, from a car accident. Through the project, Violet and Finch find each other and support one another until Violet begins to identify the demons Finch is battling and the help she needs to ultimately help him.

Get your tissues ready.  This novel encompasses the definition of mental illness and the people it affects. Niven creates characters who exemplify the suicide victims and survivors. An inside look at the effects absent and present parents can have on teens struggling with mental illness. An excellent resource list of places to seek out help as a teenager and a parent.  When finished, this book is one filled with raw emotion. Told from alternate points of view, you see how Finch and Violet could experience the same feelings while being totally different. Definitely one readers will read over and over.

Realistic Fiction, Romance            Brooke Gerlach, Manheim Central MS

New from Ally Carter – All Fall Down, Embassy Row Book 1


Carter, Ally. All Fall Down (Embassy Row Bk. 1). New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-65474-6. $17.99. 310p. Gr. 7 and up.

Grace Blakely is sure of three things: she’s not crazy; her mother was murdered, and one day she will find the killer and make him pay.  These are the only absolutes Grace has as her world changes once again three years after her mother’s death.  With her father deployed and her brother at West Point, Grace must live with her grandfather, the United States Ambassador to Adria.  Having spent summers in Adria for most of her life, Grace is familiar with Embassy Row and the rules of life in the embassy, but that has never before stopped Grace.  With her return to Adria, Grace is constantly reminded of her mother, who grew up in the embassy, and is haunted by memories of her mother, her murder, and the subsequent fire that Grace witnessed three years ago.  During a “mission” in the abandoned Iranian embassy, Grace overhears two people secretly meeting, one of which she recognizes as the “Scarred Man” who murdered her mother.  After multiple run-ins with “the Scarred Man”, one of which he refers to her by name, Grace’s determination to avenge her mother’s murder heightens, as do her memories of her mother, her death, and the fire.  When she tries to share this information with her grandfather and Ms. Chancellor, his assistant, they inform Grace that the man she has been running into is Dominic Novak, the Prime Minister’s Head of Security, a man who could never have murdered her mother because it was an accident, and this is not the first man Grace has accused of murdering her mother since the accident.  With new found friends, Noah and Rosie, and old friend Megan, Grace sets out to avenge her mother’s death.  As Grace is continually haunted by that night and told that she is only imagining a murder, she learns more about the secret lives led in Adria on and off of Embassy Row and learns the truth behind her mother’s death and life.  Ally Carter once again weaves mystery, thrills, reality, and fabulous characterization into the first book in a new series about life on Embassy Row and the realities behind the façade.

Mystery    Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

I loved Ally Carter’s series Heist Society, so I was very excited to read All Fall Down, Book 1 of her new Embassy Row series.  Grace is a fabulous female protagonist who struggles with memories of the death of her mother after witnessing it and the fire that destroyed her only stability.  Upon her return to Adria, she is haunted by memories of her mother.  As Grace tries to cope with these memories and her need for vengeance, she is continually told by her grandfather, Ms. Chancellor, his assistant, and Alexi, his brother’s best friend who lives at the Russian Embassy, that her mother’s death was an accident, not murder.  Yet, Grace cannot accept this; she knows someone killed her mother, and she will stop at nothing to find him and make him pay.  Through Grace’s actions, reactions, and memories, the reader is often left questioning whether or not Grace truly witnessed anything or is she just trying to cope with her mother’s death by creating a story from her memories.  She does not appear to be a reliable narrator, but as the novel progresses the reader realizes that perhaps Grace has a point and is the reliable narrator.  Maybe it’s everyone else who is unreliable and hiding the truth from Grace?  The supporting characters are intriguing and established just enough for future storylines either about them or their embassy.

One final note – I wanted Grace to be more spiteful and fight more against her grandfather and Ms. Chancellor.  I felt that she gave in a bit too much, but after finishing the novel (which I did not want to end), Grace made perfect sense.

July 2015 BOB Picture Books


Potter, Alicia. Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats. New York, NY: Alfred A Knopf, 2015. 9780385753340. unpaged. $16.99. Gr 1-4.
Cats come in all kinds and colors and personalities. When a cat is too shy or afraid to handle life, it goes to visit Miss Hazeltine and learn the basics of bravery. From facing the broom to dealing with the dark and scary noises, Miss Hazeltine is a patient and perfect teacher, even for those who just observe lessons like a scaredy cat named Crumb. But when Miss Hazeltine goes out for an errand and gets hurt, will Crumb or anyone be brave enough to come to her rescue? The illustrations from Birgitta Sif compliment the playful text and make this book a desired home for any cat lover.
Picture Book; cats            Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District

family tree

Petricic, Dusan. My Family Tree and Me. New York: Kids Can Press, 2015.  978-1-77138-049-2. $16.95. Gr. K-2.
This book is unique in so many ways, one of which is how it is actually read. If you choose to start the story from the front cover, you will trace a young boy’s family on his father’s side, starting with his great-great-grandparents. Similarly, if you start the story from the back cover, you will be introduced to the boy’s family on his mother’s side. In the middle, no matter how you decide to read the book, you will eventually come to a double-page spread of the young boy’s entire family including aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, partners, pets, and even the neighbor boy. It is so interesting to see the diversity in the two families and how they’ve melded together to eventually become one large, seemingly very happy and loving group.

I love this book for its ability to offer a strong message in such a simple and intriguing way. We all have different backgrounds and cultures, and that’s what makes each of us so unique. Reading this story and seeing the visual representation of an example of one’s family lineage will undoubtedly spark conversation. Young readers will make so many connections to their own lives and families. On the double-page spread titled “my family”, I also love how no one is left out, not even pets and neighbors. Sometimes we consider people family even if it’s just because we care for them an awful lot. This is a book is a wonderful conversation piece with simple text and quirky, fun illustrations.
Picture Book             Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary


Thompson, Laurie Ann and Sean Qualls. Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2015.  978-0-449-81744-5. $17.99. Gr. K-2.
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in West Ghana with one strong, functioning leg, and the other, severely deformed. While the story does not delve too deeply into the initial challenges of raising a child with a disability in Africa, readers learn that Emmanuel’s father left the family early on, and his mother was left to raise her children alone. It is also clear that Emmanuel’s life would never be easy and he would be faced with many trials along the way. His mother proved to be a driving force in his early years, reminding him that with a little extra effort, he could do and have anything. As the years progress, Emmanuel continued to work hard despite the discrimination he faced. He decided to make a stand by going on a 400-mile bicycle ride around Ghana, stopping to talk to government officials, leaders, reporters, farm workers, and others with challenges similar to his along the way. This journey sent a strong message about determination, and also “proved that one leg is enough to do great things-and one person is enough to change the world.”

This uplifting story could be incorporated into many different units such as cultural, African, or biographical studies. It would also work well in an activism unit or when discussing the idea that we we are all different. Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is quoted as saying, “In this world, we are not perfect. We can only do our best.”, and that is such an important message for young children to hear and learn.
362.4 Picture Book Biography     Lisa Naylor, Concord Elementary


Dicmas, Courtney. Home Tweet Home. New York: Doubleday, 2015. 978-0-385-38535-0. $16.99. Gr. K-3.
The family of cave swallows is large and the nest seems small. This prompts them to look for a new place to live. Exploring for a new location proves dangerous. The artwork looks inviting and friendly on the initial nest sightings that you can ask students where they think the nest will be before turning the page. Bright illustrations are a strength of the picture book. In class, you could ask the students which bird reminds them most of themselves and explain their answer.
Fiction, Picture Book, Family, Housing  Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Jeffers, Oliver. The Hueys in None the Number: a counting adventure (The Hueys series book 3).  New York: Penguin, 2015. 978-0-399-17466-2.  $6.99. np. Gr. PK-K.
Only Oliver Jeffers, author of the award-winning The Day the Crayons Quit, could transform a board book that teaches counting into a droll chuckle for grown-ups. So many books of this genre are cutesey and don’t hold up after multiple readings, as the little ones are so fond of doing…but this book does. Jeffers little egg-shaped Huey starts out explaining to his egg-shaped friend that none is a number, and 1 more than none is 1. Each page up to 10 contains funny illustrations of egg-shaped and other characters appearing in little dramatic illustrations of what the quantity of that number looks like, example: “Then FOUR. That’s how many tantrums Kevin throws every day,” and we see egg-shaped Kevin in all his enraged “I need it NOW” glory. On the back cover, his friend finally gets the drift and is holding up the zero to signify none. I’d recommend this for every Pre-K, Kindergarten class and library serving those ages.
Picture Book/Board Book/Counting and Numbers   Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School


Young, Cybele. The Queen’s Shadow: A Story About How Animals See. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2015. 9781894786607. $16.95. Gr. 3-6.
A fascinating and amazingly creative approach to teaching us the different ways creatures see and perceive the world, adapted to their habitat and needs. Cybele Young tells and illustrates the story in a fairytale fashion. The story opens with the Queen throwing a lavish ball for a variety of guests when lightning strikes, the room goes dark, and when the lights come back on the Queen discovers she’s lost her shadow. In pursuit of the culprit, we see in both illustrations and learn in sidebars how each suspected “guest” (animal) sees, and therefore could not have been the shadow thief, example: “Although it is likely that sharks cannot see color, they have a superior ability to perceive contrast.” This book would be a super fun class read aloud to enhance animal studies and research or younger audiences may enjoy as a one-on-one or small group read aloud. Exceptionally well done, highly recommended.
Picture Book/Animals   Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School


Brett, Jan. The Turnip. New York:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015. 978-0399170706. 32p. $17.99. Gr. PreK-2.
As winter sets in, Badger Girl finds a gigantic turnip in the garden. She quickly thinks of all the delicious dishes she could create. Even with the help of her family and many other animal friends, they cannot get the turnip to budge! Until a rooster with impeccable timing and some surprising help gives the final tug. Brett’s twist to this old Russian folk tale will delight your students. The beautifully illustrated and signature borders provide an imaginative sub-plot to this classic tale. I would compare and contrast it with an older version, The Enormous Turnip by Kathy Parkinson. This story will be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and is a great addition to your folktale collection.
Picture Book – Fantasy (folktale). Caroline Romano, Wallenpaupack North Primary School



Lane, Nathan & Elliott, Devlin. Naughty Mabel. New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2015. 978-1481430227. 48 p. $17.99. PreK-2.
What do you do with a dog so adored that she gets away with everything? Mabel knows that she’s loved unconditionally by her parents, no matter how much trouble she causes. This leads to a series of hilarious events, each messier than the last. None of this bothers Mabel, a French bulldog with a lifestyle more indulgent than Eloise from the Plaza. Mabel knows exactly how naughty she is shredding newspapers, swallowing precious jewels, and wrecking havoc at the miniature golf course. Dan Krall’s illustrations are truly engaging, and let the reader see Mabel’s sweetest and stinkiest moments. This is a great book for parents to share with their children.
Picture Book – Fantasy (humor).   Caroline Romano, Wallenpaupack North Primary School

July 2015 BOB Nonfiction

Fly Guy Presents Insects

Arnold, Tedd. Fly Guy Presents Insects. New York: Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 978-0-545-75714-0. 32pp. $3.99 pbk. Grades K–2.
In this nonfiction book, Buzz and his pet, Fly Guy, look for and learn about different kinds of insects. They discover that there are more than one million kinds of insects in the world, and they learn general information about insects’ size, life cycle, bodies, diets, and habitats. The writing style and facts presented in this title are perfect for the youngest elementary readers. Pronunciation is included for new vocabulary words, and Tedd Arnold’s trademark squiggly illustrations are supplemented by close-up labeled photographs of many kinds of insects. This title will be a perfect addition to elementary collections, and Fly Guy fiction fans will gravitate towards it.Nonfiction: 595.7 Insects           Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School

Fly Guy fiction and nonfiction titles are highly-circulated in my school, and I look forward to adding this one to my insect collection. First graders study insects each spring, and I know this will be a popular title with both first grade teachers and students. In my opinion, one of the strengths of this title is the mix of colorful cartoon illustrations, up-close photographs, narrative story, and journal entries. The format makes readers feel like they are on a nature walk with Buzz and Fly Guy because they are learning right alongside the characters.


Arnold, Tedd. Fly Guy Presents: Insects. New York: Scholastic, Inc, 2015. 978-0-545-75714-0. Unpaged. $3.99. Gr K-2.

A book with fictional characters that pairs great pictures with clear information, in this Fly Guy, Buzz and Fly Guy venture to Tangly Woods Nature Trail to find out more about insects. THOUGHTS: This book is great for a beginning reader because it is a visual journey of discovery that will keep them asking for more.

Nonfiction Picture Book   Caroline Romano Wallenpaupack Area School District



Rockliff, Mara. Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2015. 9780763663513. 48p. Gr. 3-5. $17.99.
This is a great book that explains the scientific method in a manner that students of all ages will understand. With the use of fantastic illustrations and vocabulary that is ‘basic’, students will be able to learn about the scientific method. It is funny and will appeal to boys and girls alike. It can be used as a classroom read aloud or individually as a resource for more specific research.
973.3 Revolution/Confederation         Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial


Walker, Sally M. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. New York: Henry Holt, 2015. 9780805097153. 40 pgs. Gr. PK-3. $17.99.
This adorable picture book is a wonderful read-aloud for elementary aged children. It is the true story of how Winnie-the-Pooh came to be. She was originally named by a soldier during WWI. But it wasn’t until A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, fell in love with Winnie at the London Zoo that she became famous. Many bedtime stories about Winnie turned into the much loved stories that we read today. There are not only beautiful illustrations, but photographs of Winnie’s original ‘owner’ and of A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin.
599.78 American Black Bear                  Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial


Krull, Kathleen.  Women Who Broke the Rules (4 volume set with 2 titles forthcoming).  New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 48 p. $16.99.  Gr. 1-4.
–. Sonia Sotomayor. 978-0-8027-3797-7
–. Dolly Madison.  978-0-8027-3793-9
–. Sacajawea.  978-0-8027-3799-1
–. Judy Blume.  978-0-8027-3795-3
This new series from children’s biographer Kathleen Krull celebrates the series title: women who broke the rules in some way, shaping our history in the process.  The diversity of women covered, from author Judy Blume to first lady Dolley Madison and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor encourages readers to learn about a variety of subjects. Humorous subtitles (“I’ll Be the Judge of That” and “Lewis and Clark Would Be Lost Without Me”) alert readers that this is no ordinary dry biography.  The tone is conversational, including actual quotes from the women themselves.  It is told in story-like fashion, much like the Who Was series for slightly older readers.  Interesting and unusual details about each woman’s life add interest.  The author includes honest but straightforward accounts of challenging events, including divorce, illness, etc.  Colorful illustrations note details from each chapter.  Different illustrators have done each book, capturing the woman’s style and time period well.  A table of contents, index and list of further readings/sources (with books and websites listed separately, some noted for younger readers) give students clear access to information.  The publisher’s website includes a discussion/activity guide.

Students who are not yet ready for the Who Was series will love these books.  They may not be best for research, although the text features will help locate information, unless a student is searching for “interesting information.”  I found the narrative nonfiction tone and unusual facts quite interesting, and enjoyed reading through each one!  I suspect students (and I) will eagerly await the next two titles, Mary Todd Lincoln and Coretta Scott King.
Biography      Lisa Weiss, Wrightstown Elementary


Wheeler, Jill C.  Alvin Schwartz.  Minneapolis, Minnesota:  Checkerboard/Abdo Publishing,  2015.  978-1-62403-670-5.  24 pages.  $17.05.  Gr. 3-5.
In this short children’s biography, the life of author Alvin Schwartz is presented.  Schwartz was best known for his many folktales including Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, In a Dark, Dark Room, and There Is a Carrot in My Ear. This informational text  includes a glossary, webliography, and glossary.
921 – Biography      Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School

This biography of author, Alvin Schwartz is part of the Abdo/Checkerboard Library’s Children’s Authors series.  My students are always eager to read about favorite authors.  Alvin Schwartz’s books continue to be a favorite, and I am sure this biography will be well received.  With this book’s short chapters, vibrant photography, and easy to read text, students will enjoy reading this book.  Any library in need of easy level biographies on children’s authors, should consider this book and series.


Colich, Abby.  Wilma Mankiller.  North Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press, 2015.  978-1-4914-0540-6.  24 pages.  $15.99.  Gr.  K-1.
This children’s biography presents the life of Wilma Mankiller, who was the first female chief of the Cherokee nation. Included in this biography is information on Wilma’s early life, teenage years, and later life.  A glossary, bibliography, webliography, index, and critical thinking section are included in this text.
921 – Biography         Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School

This book is part of the Great Women in History series by Capstone/Pebble.  This set will appeal to both early elementary students and reluctant readers,  A timeline is pictured throughout the book.  This makes Wilma’s accomplishments throughout her life clear to younger students,  The full page photos and easy to read text are sure to interest students, and would be a welcome addition to any elementary or children’s library.


Xtreme Insects (series) N. Mankato, MN: A&D Extreme, 2015. 32p. $27.00ea. Gr.3 and up.
Hamilton, S.L. Mantis 9781624036903.
Hamilton, S.L. Bees & Wasps 9781624036873.
Hamilton, S.L. Roaches 9781624036859.
Hamilton, S.L. Flies 9781624036897.
Hamilton, S.L. Ants 9781624036866.
Hamilton, S.L. Beetles 9781624036880.
This series is chock full of full color magnified photos, facts, and trivia that will entice and fascinate young readers. Bigger than life photos will stimulate curiosity by opening up this previously overlooked world teaming with activity. The text contains a glossary and an index as well for quick and easy reference and answers to all the questions it will raise in the readers’ inquiring minds. They are sure to attract science “bugs” as well as novices.
595; Insects               Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School


July 2015 BOB Fiction


Mann, Jennifer Ann. Sunny Sweet Can SO Get Lost (Sunny Sweet series: Book 3). New York:       Bloomsbury, 2015.  978-1-61963-505-0. 202 p. $15.99.  Grades 2 -6.
Masha and her genius little sister Sunny are on the way to spend their vacation with their dad at a dude ranch out west.  Masha is dreaming of horses and trail rides and doesn’t realize until the plane takes off that something is horribly wrong.  Sunny , who booked all of the flights for the family, has booked them on a flight to Maine !  She re-routed them to MATH Camp!  Masha is frantic and angry that Sunny has once again spoiled her plans.  But Sunny has been pretending to be mom and dad , rearranging their vacation to one that she would prefer ( she hates horses).  When Masha tries to make things right, the camp director contacts her parents and both are unable to come get them until camp is over.  Masha must now attend science and math classes and stay at the vegan, gluten free camp for three weeks. As she begins to settle in and make friends, Masha realizes that she may just like it here.  But then Sunny begins to act strange and Masha can’t figure out why.

This is the third book in the Sunny Sweet series.  As in the other two books, Masha continues to get angry with her precocious little sister, and yet remain protective of her.  Her character shows the real conflicts of living with someone so bright, and two sisters who are there for each other through the difficult moments of their parent’s divorce.  This is a great series for the younger realistic fiction lover.  This may be another series for fans of Judy Moody or Junie B. Jones.  Well written with believable characters and emotions.
Realistic Fiction           Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Yep, Laurence and Ryder, Joanne.  A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans. New York:    Crown Books. , 2015. 978-0-385-39228-0, 152 p. $15.99. Grades 2-6.
Miss Drake, the magically talented yet grumpy dragon is grieving since the death of her pet human, Fluffy.  But what she doesn’t know is that Fluffy has given the mansion and Miss Drake’s secret lair to her niece.  Fluffy (aka Aunt Amelia) has also asked ten year old Winifred to look in on Miss Drake since she was concerned that she would need company after Amelia’s death.  A knock at the secret lair’s door brings the two together and while Miss Drake is not happy about this young and( in her opinion) ill-mannered young girl, she reluctantly gives her a chance to become her pet (humans do NOT have dragon’s as pets, it is the human that is the pet in Miss Drake’s mind!).  And so begins the friendship and adventures of these two, told from the perspective of Miss Drake the dragon.  As each character gets to know the other, magical things begin to happen and they must work together to set them right.

This is a dragon book with a new perspective.  Miss Drake is proud and yet still grieving her “pets” loss.  Winnie is stubborn and persistent and still grieving the loss of her father.  Together they find comfort in their friendship and work together to solve problems that demand courage and skill. A fun new twist  for dragon lovers of all ages!
Fantasy                Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Gemeinhart, Dan. The Honest Truth. New York, NY: Scholastic Press, 2015. 978-0-545-66573-5. 229 p. $16.99. Gr. 4-8.
The Honest Truth explores decision making and anger and family and friendship at a raw level that will make this book an empathetic hit. Mark is a boy who has fought off cancer, but feels he is losing the battle. In response, he takes action and runs away from his Washington home on a quest to hike Mt. Rainier with his faithful dog Beau. Along the way are several fairly insurmountable obstacles, plus the efforts of his loving family and best friend Jessie to find him before it is too late. The chapters alternate between Mark’s trip and Jessie’s dilemma, with lots of perfect haikus mixed in (because they are his favorite thing to write). This is an amazing debut novel which is full of discussion points, gut wrenching twists and turns, and the honest truth of life.
Fiction; Adventure          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District


Northrop, Michael. Book of the Dead. New York: Scholastic, 2015. ISBN 978-0-545-72338-1. 197pp. $11.09. Gr 3–6
Twelve-year-old Alex Sennefer has always been sickly, and just when it looks like he’s taken a turn for the worse, his mother, an ancient Egyptian scholar, uses the Egyptian Book of the Dead to save his life. But there are ramifications to unleashing the age-old Book’s powerful magic. In Alex’s hometown of New York City, and in museums all over the world, the undead start awakening. When Alex’s mother mysteriously disappears, it’s up to Alex and his best friend, Ren, to find her and to fight the ancient Egyptian black magic. This action-packed book is the first installment in a planned five-book Tombquest series. Each chapter is filled with excitement and suspense, and this title will appeal to middle-grade readers who crave fast-paced action. Reluctant readers, too, will be captivated by the scorpions, curses, and mummies at every turn.
Adventure / Fantasy.       Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School

This title flew off the shelves at my school’s spring Scholastic Book Fair. The subject matter – Ancient Egypt – is very appealing to students in the targeted age range, and this book should be popular with students who enjoy serial fiction like 39 Clues or Percy Jackson. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers anxious for the next installments in this series. An accompanying Tombquest game is also available on the Scholastic website.


Allen, Elise and Halle Stanford. illustrated by Paige Pooler. Spring’s Sparkle Sleepover (Enchanted Sisters series). New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.  978-1-61963-296-7.  123 p. Gr. K-3.
It is finally time for Spring to be old enough to be invited for the sleepover held during the last night of Winter. Secretly, Spring is nervous to leave her comfortable room and sleep elsewhere. She tells a fib that her room in a mess and that she needs to clean in before leaving. It is in her conversation with Mother than she reveals her fear. To help calm Spring, Mother gives her a necklace that has the power to serve as a nightlight.  The sleepover is fun filled with snacks and dancing until later when it is time for scary stories outside. Spring convinces the others to play a game and they select a game of truths or tickles. The truth comes out that Spring was afraid to spend the night. Spring goes home only to soon learn that Mother’s scepter has been stolen by Bluster. Can the sisters work together to retrieve the scepter and advance the season to Spring? The novel reinforces the importance of honesty and bravery for young readers.
Fiction,  Friendship    Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Cooper, Rose.  I Text Dead People.  New York:  Delacorte Press, 2015. 978-0-385-74391-4. 233p. $12.99. Gr. 3-7.
Anna’s the new girl at school, and desperate to make friends.  Even if they are…well…dead.  When Anna’s’ mom inherits a run-down, extra creepy mansion from a deceased, eccentric uncle, she struggles with fitting in at a small, exclusive private school where the cliques are just as exclusive.  Right after moving in Anna finds a cell phone in the woods, and starts receiving text messages from Lucy, the misfit at school, who was found dead in the local cemetery.  It is this reviewer’s opinion that the ghostly texts could have started earlier, and been more frequent.  Yet, Cooper provides readers a lighthearted ghost story with a whodunit twist.   Elementary readers looking for a not-so-scary ghost story will enjoy this mildly spooky mystery.  Middle School readers will enjoy the glimpse into high school relationships, and the popular verses unpopular teenage dilemmas that comes with them.Fiction: Spooky/Mystery      Jane Farrell—Dallastown Area Intermediate School


Sharmat, Marjorie Weinman and Mitchell Sharmat.  Nate the Great , Where Are You? New York:  First Yearling, 2015.  978-0-449-81078.  28 p.  Ages 6-9.
Nate the Great is back in a new mystery that will satisfy new and old fans alike.  All of the regulars are in this one, from his sidekick dog Sludge to friends Rosamund, Claude, Annie and her dog Fang and brother Harry.  In this story, Nate and Sludge are trying to take a break from solving their friends’ mysteries so they decide to hide.  A trip to a detective costume store does not help, nor does their time in the woods once their friends discover them.  Unlike the other books, this one quickly solves multiple cases.  They are all tied together in a very subtle theme: do not try to be something you are not, just be yourself.  This story also includes many basic elements of a mystery, including a map, clues and a few “wrong turns” or “red herrings.”  Once again, Nate narrates the story in first person, adding to the old-fashioned detective show feel.  Repetitive language peppered with descriptive adjectives and verbs will appeal to older and younger readers.

Nate the Great is an excellent series to introduce elements of mystery to younger readers.  This title will be a fun addition to the series.  It has additional enrichment activities in the back that relate to parts of the story.  Random House Kids has online printables and other activities to use in conjuction with the books as well.
Fiction, Mystery   Lisa Weiss, Wrightstown Elementary


Sanderson, Ruth. A Castle Full of Cats. New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-449-81307-2. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K-3.
The Queen is a classic cat lover and keeps the castle stocked with cats upon cats. They eat fish out of bowls on the dining table and are spoiled by the Queen. The King, however, is no cat lover. The castle cats take it upon themselves to make the King love them—by bringing “charming little gifts to brighten up his days” (dead mice), “making works of art” (by scratching up the walls), and studying his books (and making a huge mess). The King is not impressed. Instead, he decides that the best plan is to get himself a dog! The cats wonder “Is this the end of all our games? The end of all our fun?” But no, readers see that “The games have just begun!”

Sanderson’s clever illustrations give readers many clues that the King is a dog lover. He has paintings of dogs and dog figurines dotted around the castle. He brings home a giant, beastly looking dog who turns out to be wonderful friend to all the castle cats. This story will be great for dog and cat lovers alike and with short, rhyming text the story isn’t too complicated for early readers.
Easy Fiction                                         Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Clement, Nathan. Big Tractor. Honesdale: Boyd Mills Press, 2015. 978-1-62091-790-9. 32 p. $16.95. Gr K-3. 

Tractors are used for all kinds of work, and this big tractor has many jobs to do. The farmer says, “Wake up, Ol’ Partner! It’s springtime!” And so begins the tractor’s many jobs from turning up the dirt and seeding the rows in springtime to mower clover in summertime to harvesting in autumn. The story follows the tractor through each season and readers get a look at each of the tractor’s important tasks.

Clement is a graphic artist by trade and his illustrations have a computerized but pleasing look. They are full of colors and details that showcase each season such as the sun shade umbrella perched on the tractor to block the summer’s harsh rays. The text is basic and will be enjoyed by boys and girls who love big vehicles, farm life, or just want a pleasant story.
Easy Fiction                                         Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Coville, Katherine. The Cottage in the Woods. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 9780385755733. 400p. $12.00. Gr 5-8.
Grimm meets Brontë in this intriguing tale of Ursula, a young bear governess who has been charged with the care of Teddy Vaughn. Our heroine quickly discovers that there is something mysterious afoot in the Vaughn mansion when she hears noises and unexplained occurrences at night and is sure that someone is following her through the woods. The girl with the golden locks, who lives with the Vaughn family, becomes the center of contention in a court case as a group of humans attempt to limit the freedom of the animals in the Enchanted Forest. Finally, there is Mr. Bentley who confuses her by both infuriating and intriguing her at the same time. This coming of age fairy tale contains numerous twists and turns and references to familiar plots and characters not all of which will end happily ever after.
Fantasy                                 Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary School