New MS series – Moving Target


Gonzalez, Christina Diaz. Moving Target. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-77318-8. 248p. $17.99. Gr. 6-8.

Living in Rome began to feel ordinary and even boring for 8th grader Cassie. This feeling changes after her Papi, an art historian, hugs her and says they must leave for safety, and shortly after, her father is shot. As Papi is in pain, Cassie learns of a secret organization that is after her, and she is advised to trust no one and go to see Brother Gregorio. Cassie wishes also to seek the help of her best friend, Simone. There is a Spear of Destiny that has been around for thousands of years that creates a power struggle. They are given a ring of protection to wear. There they meet Asher, nephew to Gregorio. Cassie has a difficult time convincing Simone to get rid of her cellphone as others could be tracing their moves with the device. Next they face a riddle regarding the dying town and escape the half-ear man. The end of the book contains many turns in the plot. THOUGHTS: Readers that begin the journey with Moving Target will be ready to join the lead characters in the forthcoming book of the series, Return Fire (Scholastic, 2016).

Fantasy; Action/Adventure      Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

HS Biography – Sally Ride


O’Shaughnessy, Tam.  Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015.  978-1-59643-994-8. 153p. $19.99. Gr. 7 and up.

Sally Ride was famous for being America’s first woman in space, but she accomplished so much more during her lifetime than simply being an astronaut.  She was an outstanding tennis player and loving daughter, sister, and wife.  From a young age, she enjoyed watching Dodger baseball and collecting stamps.  She spent her entire fourth grade year traveling through Europe.  After leaving NASA, she worked as a professor and published articles and books.  She even founded her own company, Sally Ride Science, with the goal of sparking interest in science through festivals and publications.  This book, written by Sally’s partner, gives readers a great deal of insight into the private life of one of America’s most famous astronauts.  The text is broken up by family snapshots, newspaper articles, magazine covers, yearbook photographs, report cards, and other personal documents, making it read more like a personal history or scrapbook.  THOUGHTS:  Because the text is easy to understand and is broken up by a wealth of images, this would be an excellent choice for reluctant readers.  Reluctant readers will be especially delighted to learn everything Ride accomplished despite being dubbed an “underachiever” by her classmates.  Pair this title with books like Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts or Ron Miller’s Curiosity’s Mission on Mars for a unit on NASA, or pair it with books like Sy Montgomery’s Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World or Emily Arnold McCully’s Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business–and Won! for a unit on influential women in American history.

Biography      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

MS Graphic Novel Series – new Nnewts


TenNapel, Doug. Nnewts: The Rise of Herk. New York: Graphix, 2016. 978-0-545-67652-6. $19.99. 201p. Gr. 4-6.

Herk’s second adventure begins with a coded message written in the archives warning of a second twin.  Sayer Nock interprets the scroll and warns the General that the Snakelord has returned and will stop at nothing short of breaking the heart of Orion.  Meanwhile, Herk is enjoying a family dinner with Pikk and his mom when they are attacked by a Lizzark, his lost friend Urch.  Urch is captured and locked up, but the Lizzarks’ magician can still contact him.  He sends Urch directions to escape and look for the Spell of Spells.  Herk discovers that his sister has learned the magician is their long-lost brother Zerk.  Sissy pleads with Herk not to abandon Zerk again, but Herk’s set on using his magic to raise the Megasloth and save Amphibopolis since the Lizzarks have gained access to Black Mudd which will enable them to defeat the Nnewts once and for all.  War is in the air, yet beauty may be the only answer to conquer such strong Black Mudd.  THOUGHTS: With derisive humor and engaging colorful illustrations, students will enjoy Herk’s grand adventure and heroic deeds.

Realistic Fantasy; Graphic Novel            Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

Upper Elementary and MS Titles – Terrible Two; Ben Franklin is a …; Last 5th Grade; Class Dismissed


Barnett, Mac and Jory John. The Terrible Two. New York: Amulet Books, 2015. 978-1-4197-1491-7. 217p. $13.95. Gr. 3-6.

Holy cow! Miles is NOT excited about moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town whose motto is “Come look at our cows.” Miles is a natural prankster and plans to wake up the town with his antics, but he quickly realizes that there’s another prankster at work in this town, and he’s out of Miles’ league. When the prankster reveals himself to be Niles, class goody-goody, Miles is shocked and refuses Niles’ offer to join forces as the unstoppable Terrible Two. Eventually Miles comes around to the idea and the boys pull off the greatest prank in Yawnee Valley history! THOUGHTS: A laugh-out-loud page-turner for kids and grown-ups alike. Give this one to students who love funny books with lots of illustrations, like Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Humorous Realistic Fiction       Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools



Mansbach, Adam. Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My — ! New York: Disney Hyperion, 2015. 978-1-4847-1304-4. $12.99. 199p. Gr. 5-7.

Franklin Isaac Saturday, or Ike, completes a seventh grade history extra-credit assignment by writing a letter to a famous historical person.  He chooses his namesake, Benjamin Franklin.  While trying to be honest and still complete the assignment, Ike manages to insult one of America’s Founding Fathers in the first line.  While trying to impress his most arduous crush, Claire Wanzandae, he smoothly slides the letter into a mailbox on their walk home.  After all, he did swipe an authentic stamp from his stepfather, Dirk the Jerk’s, stamp collection.  To his shocking surprise, Benjamin Franklin writes back.  At first Ike is sure it’s some ruse his friends are playing on him, but when he confides in Claire, they contemplate time-travel and parallel universes for the first time.  When your dad lives over 3,000 miles away and rarely calls and your step-dad is a major ignoramus, you write to Benjamin Franklin for advice about girls and other important topics.  It seems working with other Founding Fathers somewhat aligns with middle school angst.  But, when Franklin helps Ben by providing juicy tidbits about the future, he could irrevocably change world history forever.  THOUGHTS: While the historical details are debatable, the humorous dialogue and witty repertoire are sure to please middle school readers.

Fantasy         Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Shovan, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. New York: Wendy Lamb Books, 2016. 978-0-553-52138-2. $18.99. 246p. Gr. 4-6.

The rumors are true; beloved Emerson Elementary will be closing at the end of the year.  The building will be razed and replaced with a shopping center.  Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, the entire class is writing down their 5th grade experiences in poetic form.  Divided into four quarters, the poems reflect the heart and distinct qualities of each student.  Using rhymes, haikus, free verse and other forms of poetry, the students share their first crushes, friendships, betrayals, and all the anxiety connected to fifth grade.  But, a stronger lesson is unfolding.  While on a field trip, the students see a picture of their teacher protesting during the women’s rights movement in Washington, D.C.  Suddenly the history lessons about the First Amendment have a new meaning, and a diverse group of powerful adolescents unite their voices and address the school board in an attempt to save their school from demolition and make their last plea heard.  THOUGHTS: With so many different personalities, struggles, and small victories presented, Laura Shovan’s debut novel is an exceptional read-aloud and evokes an interest in poetry while teaching students that some things are worth holding onto.

Realistic Fiction     Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Woodrow, Allan. Class Dismissed. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. 978-0-545-80071-6. $16.99. 263p. Gr. 4-6.

What do you say when your teacher quits during a science experiment disaster?  Yow. Yow. Yow.  At least that’s what Squiggle Cat, Kyle’s favorite cartoon character, would say.  The rest of the classes’ reaction?  It’s party time!  Kyle, Seth, and Brian decide it’s time for an all-out eraser war.  Samantha figures she can spend her time more wisely correcting her peers’ fashion faux pas.  Eric simply wants to continue blending into his chair, but Maggie and the other brainiacs decide they have to have some homework in order to pull off the best-kept secret of fifth grade.  Maggie soon learns that teaching is not as easy as Mrs. Bryce made it look.  Maybe the stress and workload were the reasons she was occasionally irritable and cantankerous.  On top of all the papers to grade and lessons to prepare, Principal Klein reminds the class that they are responsible for writing and performing an original play for the annual parent night.  Everything is almost under control when the two leads suffer food-poisoning from tuna, fudge, cottage cheese cupcakes and the classroom pet hamster, Soda, disappears.  The students thought school would be perfect after Mrs. Bryce quit, but there’s one catastrophe after another.  Things aren’t working out quite like they thought.  THOUGHTS: What begins as a light-hearted story about school days and shenanigans soon turns into a life-long lesson for the students of Class 507.

Realistic Fiction       Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

Impressive Picture Book


Mattick, Lindsay. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. 978-0-316-32490-8. Unpaged. $18.00. Gr. K-3.

While Winnie-the-Pooh may be the world’s most famous bear, few people know that the beloved character is based on a real bear. Winnie’s tale begins with author Lindsay Mattick’s great-grandfather Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian travelling through Canada on his way to serve in World War I. When Harry sees a trapper and bear cub at a train station he knows that he shouldn’t get involved, but his “heart made up his mind,” and he buys the cub. Winnie’s extraordinary adventures with Harry begin as she (yes, she!) travels to a military camp in Canada, then on to England where she serves as the mascot for the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade. When Harry is called to duty on the front lines in France, he knows he must leave Winnie behind in a safe place, and she begins a new life at the London Zoo. She makes friends with zoo visitor Christopher Robin Milne and his author father, who writes stories about Christopher Robin and bear, Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures. THOUGHTS: Children are amazed to learn about the real Winnie and how her life inspired the classic character so many of us hold dear to our hearts.

This year’s Randolph Caldecott Award winner will not disappoint. Sophie Blackall’s artwork is beautiful, vivid, and captures the spirit of Winnie’s relationships well, but it’s Mattick’s story that’s the real stand-out. She tells the story as a mother telling a family-based bedtime story to her son Cole. At the end of the story readers are able to see real photographs of Winnie’s life in the “album” that mother and son view during the story. I shared this story with many age groups at the elementary level and they all loved it. It’s a winner.

Picture Book           Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools

Elementary series NF – Cool Refashioned; Global Community; Explorers


Kuskowski, Alex.  Cool Refashioned.  Mankato, MN: ABDO, 2016. 32p. $19.95 ea. Gr. 3-6.    

Scarves & Ties Fun & Easy Projects. 978-1-62403-703-0.

Sweaters Fun & Easy Fashion Projects. 978-1-62403-704-7.

This series introduces upper elementary through middle school age readers to the world of making.  It includes step by step directions to refashion items with brightly colored photographs, a glossary, index, table of contents and list of recommended tools and materials to make making easy.  THOUGHTS:  With so many libraries adding Makerspaces, this is a welcome addition.  Students are always in need of a book to help them with crafting.  This series is highly recommended for elementary and middle school libraries.

646; Crafts     Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School



Learning About Our Global Community (series). New York: Crabtree, 2016. 24p. $17.95 ea. Gr K-3.

Barghoorn, Linda. Foods in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2009-6.

McNiven, Lauren & Crystal Sikkens. Birthdays in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2011-9.

McNiven, Lauren. Schools in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2013-3.

Morganelli, Adrianna. Clothing in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2010-2.

Morganelli, Adrianna. Transportation in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2014-0.

O’Brien, Cynthia. Homes in Different Places. 978-0-7787-2012-6.

This is a great basic introduction to communities around the world. Each book begins with a statement that we all share this earth but have similarities and differences in the connection to our daily life. From there, the topics are covered in a manner that is understandable to young readers with logical headings and progression. The text features for nonfiction are all present for instructional purposes. Perhaps the best part is the balance of general statements with specific examples mixed in, giving the needed range of lifestyles while still making it relatable.  THOUGHTS: This is a good series to use as a research tool for 2nd grade level readers. Also great discussions for communities with a large ELL population or those who may need the exposure to other worlds.

Cultures of the World; Series NF      Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District




Travel with the Great Explorers (series). New York: Crabtree, 2016. 32p. $14.99 ea. Gr 3-6.

Dalrymple, Lisa. Explore with Francisco Pizarro. 978-0-7787-1700-3.

Dalrymple, Lisa. Explore with James Cook. 978-0-7787-1701-0.

O’Brien, Cynthia. Explore with James Franklin. 978-0-7787-1703-4.

O’Brien, Cynthia. Explore with John Cabot. 978-0-7787-1702-7.

As the tagline on the back of the books claim, “Pack your bags- we’re going on an incredible trip!” Readers get to see a quick, engaging synapsis of each explorer from the 14 choices available. The outline of each book is the same, with identical chapter headings and format. The text is short and full of graphics, photos, and activities, reminding readers of the DK books mixed with the You Wouldn’t Want to Be series. The downfall of this format is the storyline of the explorer gets jumbled, but a timeline, glossary, and extra resource list at the back get interested researchers to keep on traveling. THOUGHTS: These go well as a set and could be a quick lesson review on text features for older elementary classes. Also a good example for readers of how to make research interesting and engaging for the reader.

History; Exploration    Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District

Elementary NF – Aaron & Alexander; Gingerbread


Brown, Don. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2015. 978-1-59643-998-6. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-5.

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton’s lives paralleled each other’s in many ways; they were both orphaned at a young age; they were both very smart and studied at prestigious American universities; they both served bravely in the colonists’ battle against Great Britain; they were even alike in size, having the word “little” as part of their nicknames. Author Don Brown says, “Aaron and Alexander could have been friends. They were alike in many ways. But the ways in which they were different made them the worst of enemies.” The two men ended up on opposite sides of the political line after the American Revolution and influential, but hot-tempered, Hamilton often insulted Burr’s politics and character in vicious ways. The day arrived when Burr could take no more, and he challenged Hamilton to a duel in which Burr fatally shot Hamilton. Brown shares an unbiased view of the notorious duel that left Hamilton dead and Burr an outcast. The book contains an Author’s Note and bibliography. THOUGHTS: Brown’s signature style of concise wording and expressive watercolors succeeds in sharing a parallel of two important American figures and their tragic end.

973.4; Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools




Rockliff, Mara. Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 978-0-544-13001-2. 32pp. $17.99. Gr 2–5.

Christopher Ludwick was a Philadelphia-based baker known all over the city for his big heart and his delicious gingerbread. Hungry children followed their noses to his shop, admiring the spicy cookies decorated with sweet, white icing. But in the summer of 1776, something other than the smell of gingerbread was in the air. Cries of “Revolution!” echoed up and down the streets. Ludwick, who was born in Germany, was a staunch Patriot. At age 55, he hung up his apron and volunteered his services to General Washington. After learning that Washington’s troops were threatening to leave due to lack of food, Ludwick rolled up his sleeves and fired up his oven. Throughout the Revolutionary War, Ludwick continued baking, and not just for the Continental Army. He volunteered for a secret, midnight mission to a British army camp where he successfully convinced hired Hessian soldiers to abandon the British troops and enlist with General Washington after promising them full bellies. At the war’s end, after the British surrendered, Ludwick baked 6,000 pounds of bread to feed America’s hungry former enemies before returning to Philadelphia and his bakery.  THOUGHTS:  This picture book biography of a little-known Revolutionary War hero is a wonderful addition to elementary collections. An author’s note at the end of the book outlines additional details about Ludwick’s life, and the endpapers include a recipe for baking gingerbread. While the story itself is unique, the illustrations steal the show. Illustrator Vincent Kirsch’s spirited watercolor pictures depict all characters as gingerbread people, and he sticks to a palate of mostly brown with white details. This title provides an accessible introduction to the American Revolution for the youngest readers while also showcasing a forgotten hero’s kind spirit and large heart.

Picture Book Biography   Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

Animal and Science Books for Elementary Students


Arlon, Penelope. Animal Faces. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-79121-2. 32p. $7.99. Gr. K-3.

This book explores the faces of many different wild animals.  Some of the areas explored in this text include senses, mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and amphibians, and fish.  An index, table of contents, and reference to a digital companion book are included. Young readers will really enjoy the bright illustrations and topics covered.  Animal books are always a hit, especially with the youngest students.  The text is presented in small blurbs rather than large paragraphs which makes reading this book especially easy for K-3 level.  THOUGHTS: Hand this book to a K-3 student who loves animals and strike gold!

590 Animals     Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School



Arlon, Penelope. Really? Ocean. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-80650-3. 64p. $8.99. Gr. 2-5.

A  wonderful celebration of the many animals that live in the ocean, the pages of this book include brightly colored photographs and informational text about the coral reef, sharks, jellyfish, whales, and more.  An index, table of contents, and glossary are included.  Ocean creatures are not only a topic covered in many curriculums, but also a highly popular topic with K-5 students.  This book is sure to keep readers happy.  Since each page contains many blurbs and captions, this book is appropriate for reluctant readers.  THOUGHTS: This book is a wonderful addition to any elementary or children’s library in need of books about animals that live in the ocean.

591 Ocean    Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Lawrence, Ellen. How Do Water and Wind Change Rock: A Look at Sedimentary Rock.  Bearport Publishing, 2015. 978-1-62724-299-8. 24p.  $18.00. Gr. K-5.

This book gives readers a step-by-step explanation of how sedimentary rock forms.  Each page is filled with brightly colored photographs and small informational paragraphs.  The text includes many pages with short captions and blurbs to keep the reader interested in the topic.  Also included in this book is a sedimentary rocks chart, “Important Science Words” section, an index, bibliography, and “Learn More Online” section.  This is a topic that many students study in science and is also of interest to many young patrons.  Students will enjoy the brightly colored photographs and find this text easy to read.  THOUGHTS: This book is highly recommended for any school or children’s library in need of geology books for younger readers.

552.5 Geology   Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School



Hansen, Grace. Geology Rocks!  Mankato, MN: ABDO, 2016. 24p. $19.95 ea. Gr. K-3.

Ores. 978-1-62970-908-6.

Soils.  978-1-62970-910-9.

This series for young readers contains information about geology topics and is perfect for the youngest readers and budding scientists.  Each text Includes brightly colored photographs and small blurbs of text on each page.  Difficult words are boldfaced and can be found in the glossary to help students with their specific meanings.  An index, table of contents, and code to access with related games and videos is included.  THOUGHTS:  The topics covered in this series are important to include in any children’s or elementary library.  Both teachers and students will request this series.  

553 Geology   Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School

Series Nonfiction for Jr. High and HS


The Importance of Scientific Theory. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $38.60 ea. $231.60 set of 6. 80p. Gr. 7 and up.

Allen, John. The Importance of Atomic Theory. 978-1-60152-786-8.

Allen, John. The Importance of Cell Theory. 978-1-60152-888-9.

Allman, Toney. The Importance of Germ Theory. 978-1-60152-890-2.

Allman, Toney. The Importance of the Laws of Motion. 978-1-60152-892-6.

Currie, Stephen. The Importance of Evolution Theory. 978-1-60152-896-4.

Parks, Peggy J. The Importance of Plate Tectonic Theory. 978-1-60152-894-0.

The Importance of Scientific Theory series from Reference Point Press looks at specific scientific discoveries and the development of scientific thought throughout history and in modern day.  In The Importance of Atomic Theory, John Allen looks at what the atomic theory is, how it was developed, the impact of nuclear energy, modern medicine and medical technology, and the impact of atomic theory in chemistry and consumer electronics.  Each book in the series includes a foreward, a timeline of important dates in the history of the topic, source notes, a section about the pioneers and important scientists in the field, a section for further research, and an index.  Titles also include photographs and diagrams along with “pop out boxes” with information about particular incidents, tragedies, events, and people within the specific scientific theory area of study and red “words in context” boxes that explain terms.  THOUGHTS:  This is an excellent addition to high school science collections.  This series will allow further exploration of topics that may only be briefly covered in the curriculum (Can you say…science research!).

Scientific Theory       Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City


Whiting, Jim. Soccer Champions. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 2016. $12.00 ea. 48p. Gr. 7 and up.

AC Milan. 978-1-60818-590-0.

Bayern Munich. 978-1-60818-587-0.

FC Barcelona. 978-1-60818-586-3.

Liverpool FC. 978-1-60818-588-7.

Manchester United. 978-1-60818-589-4.

Real Madrid. 978-4-60818-591-7.

Soccer Champions, a new series from Creative Education, takes a look at the history, players, and current state of some of the most famous football clubs in the world.  Each text includes colorful and black and white photos of matches, players, and the club as a whole and is broken into chapters that explain how the club developed into one of the most famous football clubs in the world.  Each text also includes “Memorable Matches”, a timeline explaining some of the best match ups in club history; “Famous Footballers”, highlighting the clubs’ best and most well-known players; “Titles”, those held by the club; a selected bibliography; websites for more information, and an index.  THOUGHTS:  This is a must-have series for junior high and high schools with a love of soccer.  Students will enjoy reading up on the football clubs and teams, especially with the Summer Olympics coming soon.

Soccer       Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City


Agents of Government. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 2016. $26.95 ea. $161.70 set of 6. 48p. Gr. 7 and up.

Bodden, Valerie. Federal Reserve System. 978-1-60818-546-7.

Bodden, Valerie. National Transportation Safety Board. 978-1-60818-548-1.

Wimmer, Teresa. Environmental Protection Agency. 978-1-60818-544-3.

Wimmer, Teresa. Federal Bureau of Investigation. 978-1-60818-545-0.

Wimmer, Teresa. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 978-1-60818-547-4.

Wimmer, Teresa. Peace Corps. 978-1-60818-549-8.

Agents of Government, a new series from Creative Education, looks at six different departments within the United States government.  Each text is divided into chapters with focuses on aspects of the particular agency.  For example, in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, chapter titles include: “Introduction”, a brief overview of the FBI; “Law and Disorder”, a chapter focused on the creation of the FBI and the development of the agency; “Gangs and Controversies”, focuses on the mafia, counterintelligence, white collar crime, espionage, and counterterrorism; “Stabilizing Structure”, a chapter about the structure of the FBI and current state of the department, and finally, “Securing the Unknown”, a chapter about the changes in the FBI after the attacks on September 11, 2001, and how the focus of the agency has changed.  Within each chapter of each book, sections “Agency Insiders” and “Around the World” are included.  In the FBI text, these sections include topics such as Emma Goldman, the Rosenbergs, Public Enemy No. 1, and the KGB.  In addition to the interesting chapters and sections, each text also includes a glossary and index along with color and black and white photos that support the topics presented and the agency as a whole.  THOUGHTS: This is a must-have nonfiction series for all junior high and high schools.  Even if the topics do not correspond directly with curricular areas (most should with government and/or history courses), the information about the agencies is very interesting and could be used during career research or for personal entertainment/exploration.

Social Sciences (300s); Government       Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

New MS Fiction – The Watchmen of Port Fayt; Pieces of Why


Mason, Conrad. The Watchmen of Port Fayt. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 978-0-545-83308-0. $17.99. 389 p. Gr. 5-8.

Port Fayte is a relatively quiet town where humans, trolls, and imps reside together.  They live in relative harmony, minus the occasional tavern brawl.  One of the town’s more endearing citizens is Grubb, half human and half goblin, who works for his abusive uncle at the Legless Mermaid.  He dreams of one day escaping the gruelling work and numerous head-cuffings to pursue his own dreams, possibly on the open sea.  When a chance meeting with a smuggler offers Grubb a remarkable opportunity, he takes off after Captain Clagg.  Meanwhile the Demon’s Watch, a clandestine group of fighters, has sworn to protect the port town and are interested in questioning the legendary Clagg about his most recent load of cargo.  On the other side of the world, the League of Light has Port Fayte in its sights.  Determined to preserve a pure race of humans, they have vowed to purge the planet of every last troll, ogre, elf, fairy and goblin.  Grubb’s adventure sends him into the bowels of the shark pit, brings him face-to-face with an iniquitous witch, and lands him in the middle of the Demon’s Watch.  Together he and Tabitha, one of the Watch’s youngest members with a most tragic history, must join forces with smugglers, blackcoats and watchmen to find the enchanted wooden spoon before it falls into the wrong hands.  If the Maw is awakened, Fayters will be destroyed and their beloved town eviscerated.  THOUGHTS: The first title in the Tales of Fayt trilogy promises to captivate readers and lure them into a story of friendship and exciting exploits while anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Fantasy     Christine Massey, JWP Middle School



Going, K.L. Pieces of Why. New York: Kathy Dawson Books, 2015. 978-0-8037-3474-6. $16.99. 209 p. Gr. 5-8.

Singing with her best friend Keisha in the Rainbow Choir is the highlight of Tia’s day.  Since her dad’s imprisonment years ago, Tia’s mom works hard to support her daughter and misses her daughter’s performances. Keisha’s family helps out by inviting her to dinner or walking her home from choir practice.   During a rehearsal, Tia is singing her solo, “like a magician pulling scarves from my sleeve,” until her melody is shattered by the sound of gunshots.  At once believed to be simply more gang violence, this tragedy rocks the community when they learn a stray bullet has taken the life of an innocent infant.  Suddenly the neighbors are buzzing with rumors of a similar catastrophe, and Tia learns more details surrounding the fatal shooting her father was involved in, something her mother has devoted her life to keeping hidden from her daughter.  Tia hopes she can leave the shadows and miraculously come to rest in the light, but trouble has a way of creeping into your life when it’s least expected.  She will have to confront her father and his harrowing past for a chance at following her dream of becoming a famous singer.  THOUGHTS:  An honest portrayal of tragedy and forgiveness that allows a young girl to let go of her guilt and learn to love her father.

Realistic Fiction   Christine Massey, JWP Middle School