Picture Books – Nanette’s Baguette; Real Cowboys

Willems, Mo. Nanette’s Baguette. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2016. 978-148472286-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-2.

A young frog, Nanette, is given the highly desired responsibility of getting the family’s daily loaf of bread from the bakery. The warm and delicious baguette proves too tempting; our heroine devours it and spends several pages regretting her actions. Mother is not angry. She walks Nanette back to the bakery, where she surprises Nanette by taking a bite out of the bread herself!  THOUGHTS: I was disappointed by this book. The illustrations are mediocre and the rhyming seems unnatural and forced. If the author was anyone but Mo Willems it would have been a cute lyrical story. But given his creativity and the lovability of the characters in his other books, I’m afraid I hold him to a higher standard.

Picture Book        Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School


Hoefler, Kate. Real Cowboys. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-0-544-14892-5. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. K-3.

This book dispels the stereotype of a rough-and-tough range rider. Written for the younger grades, it has large images and a sentence or two per page about what actual cattle ranchers do and how they feel. Cowboys are quiet and caring, lonely and careful. They include people from different races and some “cowboys” are actually women. The illustrations will appeal to those who enjoy abstraction.  THOUGHTS: I think this could be a great companion book to a tall-tale about Pecos Bill or another cowboy. It shows the humanity and vulnerability of this profession. A perfect fit for little ones who want to know everything there is to know about the Wild West.

Picture Book     Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

New Elementary – When Green Becomes Tomatoes; Little Red


Fogliano, Julie. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-59643-852-1. 56pp. $18.99. Gr K-4.

This collection of free verse seasonal poetry begins on March 20 with the vernal equinox and continues through the year, celebrating the small moments each new season brings. From welcoming spring’s first flowers to tasting summer’s sweet berries to pulling out autumn’s first sweater, young readers will relate to many of the everyday seasonal pastimes the children in this story experience. The book’s beautiful gouache and pencil illustrations feature diverse children engaging in timeless activities such as picking flowers in a field, eating sandwiches at the beach, stargazing, jumping in leaf piles, building snowmen, and reading by the fire. The poems are formatted like journal entries, and each poem begins with the date so readers can easily track the passing seasons.  THOUGHTS: This title will be a valuable addition to poetry collections. The conversational tone and relatable illustrations will hook young readers, and teachers will be able to use this as a journal-writing resource.

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



Woollvin, Bethan. Little Red. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers, 2016. 978-1-56145-917-9. 28pp. $16.95. Gr K-3.

Girl power is at the core of debut picture book author and illustrator Bethan Woollvin’s retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. Many details ring true from previous versions of the story: Little Red takes a basket of cakes to her sick grandmother; she meets a wolf along the way, and the wolf runs ahead to grandma’s house, eats her, and poses as grandma instead. In this retelling, however, Little Red is not fooled by the wolf’s poor disguise. When she spots the wolf in grandma’s bed, she makes a plan before going inside. Bringing along an ax that was stuck in a stump outside grandma’s door, Little Red takes care of the wolf herself. She then returns home not in her red cape but wearing a new wolf-skin and sporting a smile for the first time in the story. The text in this book is sparse, but the bold gouache illustrations pack quite a punch thanks to the tight palette of only red, black, white, and gray. THOUGHTS:  Some oversized illustrations bleed across the book’s gutter, further heightening their impact. No blood appears in this story, and Woollvin only hints at the wolf’s fate by showing an extreme close-up of Little Red’s eyes shifted in the wolf’s direction; it is up to readers to fill in the blanks.  

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

I’m looking forward to sharing this title with my third-grade teachers later this spring when they study their fairy tale unit. It will be a great title to compare and contrast against the original version.

NF Picture Books – The Hole Story; Brave Like Me; How This Book was Made


Miller, Pat. The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-544-31961-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory lived a full life as a ship’s captain, mining engineer, and family man, but that’s not the “hole” story of his life…he’s also credited as inventor of the doughnut! This might seem like an unlikely combination, but it was Gregory’s young years working as a cook’s assistant on the ship Ivanhoe that gave him the chance opportunity to invent a new breakfast pastry. Gregory fried up a batch of the ship’s normal breakfast. “They were sweet and crisp—at least around the edges. Their raw centers, heavy with grease, made them drop like cannonballs in the stomach. Sailors called them sinkers” (Miller). Struck by inspiration, Gregory grabbed the lid from a pepper can and put a hole in the center of each pastry. When they emerged from the hot lard, doughnuts were born! Although Gregory went on to become a respected ship’s captain, even earning a medal for bravery from Queen Isabella II for saving the lives of seven Spanish sailors, he’s most known for his delicious invention. While readers learn the true story, “…sailors like their stories bold” (Miller). The book details several of the legends around Gregory’s creation. It also includes an author’s note, timeline, and selected bibliography. Illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch takes the doughnut concept to a new level, including colorful doughnut patterned endpapers, cover art with Captain Gregory peeking through a doughnut life preserver, and back cover art showing an octopus holding a doughnut with each tentacle. The illustrations are beautifully colored, evoke an old-fashioned marine setting, and are full of funny details that readers will enjoy spotting. In addition, each two-page spread actually features one illustration which has been made into a mock doughnut. THOUGHTS: An interesting, visually-appealing addition for most collections.

641.8; Doughnut History     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools



Kerley, Barbara. Brave Like Me. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2016. 978-1-4263-2360-7. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

When a parent is serving in the military and away from home, the family left behind has to face the challenges and emotions that remains. In Brave Like Me, the reader can see a wide variety of families on both sides of that relationship. The text is short but honest and straightforward. There will be times that they struggle, and moments that they feel joy. The best part should be the reassurance that they are not alone. The full color photographs that live up to National Geographic standards help reinforce the variety and viewpoints. With support pages at the end for dealing with separation, caregiver notes, and descriptions of those who serve, all children can read and appreciate the sacrifice that takes place all over the world every day.  THOUGHTS: There have been plenty of fiction books about losing parents and military service, and there are plenty of military books in my collection about the vehicles and branches, but this book fills a super important niche of how it really feels to have a serviceman or woman away from their family. It does not, however, cover how to handle the death of a soldier as a family, or the impact of the returning soldier with PTSD. Those would also be brave new books to add to a collection.

Nonfiction Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area


Barnett, Mac, and Adam Rex. How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion, 2016. 978-142315220-0. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr. K-4.

I have tried many times to explain the process of how a book is made and which roles it takes to get published. This book makes those conversations irrelevant and unnecessary. Mac and Adam are a quirky, hilarious team (see their work in Guess Again or Chloe and the Lion) who bring truthiness and humor to the writing process. Hear Mac explain his editing process, then wait for that pesky illustrator, and finally get through the printing and publishing; all so he can show us How This Book Was Made! The journey is more than just point A to point B, as tigers, pirates, astronauts, fish and more help to affect the story, and ultimately the most important character to the book may be… YOU (the reader!)! Enjoy and discuss and try explaining what’s truth from fiction in this unusual adventure.  THOUGHTS: This would also make a great book to study book design and the relationship between text and pictures. The tiger skin on the inside cover and the red map marks are two interesting examples. There is much to look at for multiple readings, though some are more relevant to adults than kids. I like this genre of books about books, and Mac & Adam meet the meta at just the right moment.

Nonfiction Picture Book    Dustin Brackbill, State College Area

Picture Books – Lost Gift; Hensel & Gretel; Wonderfall


George, Kallie. The Lost Gift. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016. 978-0-553-52481-p. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr PreK-2.

It’s Christmas Eve and four forest friends are happy to catch a glimpse of Santa and his sleigh. A gust of wind drops a package nearby and Deer, Bird, Rabbit, and Squirrel realize that it’s meant for the New Baby at a nearby farm. The friends decide to deliver the package for Santa and spend a long, cold, hungry night delivering the gift. While they have second thoughts (especially grumpy Squirrel), they realize that it was worth the effort when they see New Baby’s delight at her new rattle. The animals trudge home and find a gift from Santa waiting in the snow—a delicious treat to fill their empty bellies. When Squirrel wonders “But how did he know?” Rabbit replies “Santa always knows.” Stephanie Graegin’s simple and colorful illustrations create a real feeling of the season. THOUGHTS: This sweet, simple holiday story will be enjoyed by little kids and big kids alike.

Picture Book     Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools



Schwartz, Corey Rosen, and Rebecca J. Gomez. Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-0399176265. 40pp. $17.99.  Gr. K – 3.

A companion book to The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood, this book is just as action packed and fun! Their mother is missing, so these smart sisters decide to get some proactive ninja training at the 3 Pigs Dojo, where the motto is “Get Empowered, Not Devoured.” When their father goes missing, they follow, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs behind. Bad idea, but they persevere. When suddenly a tempting cornbread house is found, will Hensel and Gretel be able to escape temptation? Fortunately one of these fowls keeps their head and is able to sneak in, distracting the fox to rescue Ma. The other, after a momentary lapse of judgement picks the lock and joins the fray!  THOUGHTS: The fast pace and perfect rhymes in this book match the success of the other two books by these fabulous collaborators. Girls and boys alike will get a kick out of these powerful poultry.

Picture Book      Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School



Hall, Michael. Wonderfall. New York: Greenwillow, 2016. 978-0-06-238298-6. Uppaged. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

“In this book you will discover 1 colorful tree, 2 scurrying squirrels, and 15 blended words created to celebrate the wonder of fall!” This is the description in the inside jacket, and it sets the stage for the contents that follows. With short, simple, and touching poems that are accessible to younger readers, Hall has created a very attractive autumn book. The colorful collage illustrations will call Ehlert and Carle to mind, and closer exploration shows several continuing mini-stories with the squirrels. The titles of each poem replace the suffix -ful/full with the seasonal -fall, and it makes the words more meaningful… I mean, meaningfall! Enjoy this seasonal sensation – you’ll be thankfall that you did.  THOUGHTS: This would be a fun lesson on playing with words, studying suffixes, or creating short poems. The end of the book also connects back to animals who appear in the book and describes how they survive the coming winter. Plus, there’s a page about those pesky squirrels and their protective oak tree.

Picture Book      Dustin Brackbill, State College Area

YA Realistic Fiction – Cresswell Plot; W/o Annette; Sun is Also a Star; Phantom Limbs


Wass, Eliza. The Cresswell Plot. Los Angeles: Disney Hyperion, 2016. 9781484730430. 262pp. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

The six Cresswell siblings live with their parents in a run down house in the woods and make their living trash picking junk to fix up and sell at local flea markets. Homeschooled by their fanatically religious parents, the siblings live an isolated and cloistered life. Their father tells them they are the only “pure” humans left on earth, expected to marry each other to preserve their bloodline.  After an accident causes the  authorities to check on the welfare of the children, they begin attending public school. Their unusual lifestyle keeps them separate from their peers, and they are viewed as freaks. When 17 year-old Castellla (Castley) begins her junior year, she meets a boy in her drama class who reaches out to her. Being with George opens her up to friendship and romance and to the possibility of a normal life.  She and her siblings start questioning what they have always believed to be the absolute truth and to test the rules and demands their father has placed on them. But, their father holds the family in the grip of fear and religious fervor, and Castley worries they may never be able to break free.   THOUGHTS: A disturbing and creepy thriller for older teens who appreciate edgier reading .

Realistic Fiction    Nancy Summers, Abington SHS



Mason, Jane B. Without Annette. New York: Scholastic Press, 2016. 978-0545819954. 336 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

This is the first young adult book I have read with a lesbian couple as the main protagonists, and Jane B. Mason did a fine job of describing the lives of these young girls and the unique challenges they face as lovers in the world of teenagers. Josie, the narrator, and her best friend and girlfriend, Annette, receive scholarships to attend an exclusive boarding school. Josie sees it as a way to help Annette escape from her alcoholic and abusive mother. From the beginning, Annette seems to fit right in while Josie flounders in her classes and in the social scene. She literally stumbles into a friendship with classmate Penn, and joins him and his crew in exploring the tunnels that snake underground all over campus. Josie and Annette try to keep their relationship a secret, yet Josie watches helplessly as Annette is drawn into a world of drinking and binging, egged on by her roommate. The characters are authentic and the story is unique but can be slow at times and Josie is not the most reliable narrator. I would have liked to hear the perspectives of others in the school and especially Annette, but it is a powerful story of realizing who you are or want to be,  and how this can affect your life and relationships. THOUGHTS: This title is a necessary addition to any high school collection for LGTBQ youth.

Realistic Fiction      Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

This is an interesting title, and one that will appeal to students struggling with defining themselves in the world of adolescents. I do look forward to future titles from this author, as she does bring a unique perspective to the YA world.



Yoon, Nicola. The Sun is Also a Star. New York: Delacourte Press, 2016. 978-0553496680. 384 p. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Nicola Yoon impressed me with her first novel, Everything, Everything, and has truly knocked it out of the park with her most recent publication for young adults, The Sun is Also a Star. The story tells a day in the life of two characters, but Yoon incorporates other perspectives and stories throughout the novel, and this enables the story to rise above the general YA novels that highlight the give and take between two young people falling in love. The story begins with Natasha, whose family is to be deported to Jamaica after being caught as undocumented immigrants. Natasha, a lover of science, facts, and figures, is determined to do all she can to stay in the home she has known since arriving in the States 8 years ago. The second protagonist is Daniel, who yearns to be a poet, but whose Korean-immigrant parents insist that he become a doctor. He is on his way to interview with a Yale alumni when he sees Natasha walking down the street. The two end up spending the day together and trying to navigate their different worlds and Natasha’s impending deportation. Again, the perspectives and asides that Yoon includes, ranging from a chapter about a lonely security card to a short history of black hair, force the reader to acknowledge the silent stories and history going on all around as we live our own separate lives. THOUGHTS: This should be in all high school libraries, and would be an excellent choice for summer reading or book club discussions.

Realistic Fiction      Lindsey Myers, Shady Side Academy Senior School

I absolutely LOVED this book, and will be recommending it to every student I can in the coming weeks and months. The variety of perspectives, the beautiful writing, and the well-drawn characters make it a novel to savor and read again and again. The plot touches upon many current issues in our society, and encourages the development and understanding of empathy in teens, and, really, anyone who reads it. I am going to suggest it as a summer reading title for next year, and cannot wait to discuss it with a group of adolescents.



Garner, Paula. Phantom Limbs. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2016. 978-0-7636-8205-7. 352 pp. $16.99. Gr. 9 and up.

“There was life before you, and then life with you. There wasn’t supposed to be life after you.” This haunting sentiment is at the emotional core of Paula Garner’s outstanding debut, Phantom Limbs. Sixteen-year old Otis Mueller has had to say his share of tough goodbyes. His beloved younger brother, Mason, passed away several years ago at the young age of three, and Otis has shielded himself from the painful details ever since. His first love, the girl-next-door Meg (in whose room Mason was napping at the time of his death), moved away and out of Otis’ life soon after. Otis found an outlet for his grief and loneliness in competitive swimming. He also found a coach and big sister figure in Dara, an amputee whose phantom limb pains and thwarted swimming career haunt her daily. But just as Dara is ramping up Otis’ training regimen for a run at the Olympic trials, Meg contacts him to say she’s coming home for a three-week visit. Oh, and her new boyfriend will be joining her for a long weekend with Otis and his parents at the Mueller family lake house. The trip is a-w-k-w-a-r-d, and also a catalyst for Otis to acknowledge his true loyalties and for Meg to reveal her secret pain. THOUGHTS: Phantom Limbs hits all the right coming-of-age notes with humor, heart, indelible moments, and a realistically imperfect protagonist.

Realistic Fiction      Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School Library


YA Paranormal – Useless Bay; Holding Smoke; Best Friend’s Exorcism


Beaufrand, M. J. Useless Bay. New York: Amulet Books, 2016. 978-1-4197-2138-0. 229pp. $17.95. Grades 7 and up.

The Gray quintuplets are a remarkable force on the isolated and windswept island they call home.  Pixie Gray and her four brothers are “born of the island itself”; strong and tall, independent and mischievous, and fiercely united .  The Grays and Pixie’s bloodhound, Patience, are the ones the residents of the island turn to in times of trouble; they serve as the official search team for any accidents or missing persons. When Grant Shepard, the 10-year-old son of a millionaire vacation home owner, disappears on a stormy night the Grays are called in for the search, but they are also under suspicion since they may have been the last people to see him.  The story is told through alternating perspectives of Pixie and Grant’s older brother, Henry. The  novel pieces together the events leading to Grant’s disappearance and provides insight into the family dramas in the Gray and Shepard clans.  The Gray search party finds the body of Grant’s mother, and strange and unsettling coincidences begin to pile up.  The realization that a killer is on the loose, and Grant is still missing sets everyone on edge, and the Grays and Henry struggle to find answers before it’s too late.  Paranormal elements mix with gothic intrigue; Whidbey Island is almost a character itself.  Pixie has an unusual connection with her home; she hears voices and has visions from her dreams and the sea which offer warning and clues as the evening’s events unfold   Confusing and complicated at times, but ultimately a satisfying read. THOUGHTS: An atmospheric, brooding mystery with a paranormal twist and a hint of romance.

Paranormal Mystery          Nancy Summers, Abington SHS



Cosimano, Elle.  Holding Smoke. Los Angeles: Disney-Hyperion, 2016. 978-1484725979. 336pp. $17.99. Gr 7 and up.

Weeks after nearly being killed by his own father, John “Smoke” Conlan is convicted of murdering his teacher and a student at his high school.  Now he lives on the toughest block in “The Y”, the Denver Detention Center with the most hardened juvenile offenders. But Smoke stands apart; he has a secret, the ability to leave his body and travel outside the walls.  The knowledge he gets on the street is valuable to his cellmates though no one knows how he gets his information. While tracking down info for a friend he happens upon a former classmate, a girl named Pink who has the ability to see his spirit as he walks outside. With her help, he has the chance to clear his name, but someone is trying to stop anyone from finding out the truth. Pink, Smoke, and the warden’s daughter are now in danger as they each try to find out more about the  circumstances of the double murder. John himself is a compelling and believable character, a damaged individual with a past that may be impossible to escape.  Good character development for each of the boys in juvie, both friends and foes of Smoke, with believable interactions and relationships between the kids on the block. THOUGHTS: A solid mystery with paranormal elements in a gritty and realistic setting that would appeal to fans of Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy. An interesting author’s note at the end reveals the similarities between Cosimano’s experiences as the daugher of a warden and the details in her novel.

Paranormal Mystery       Nancy Summers, Abington SHS



Hendrix, Grady. My Best Friend’s Exorcism. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2016. 978-1-59474-862-2. 330 pp. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Grady Hendrix’s 2014 novel, Horrorstör, was packaged to resemble an IKEA catalog. His latest, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, simulates a 1989 Albemarle Academy yearbook, complete with heartfelt inscriptions inside the covers. It’s the story of sophomores and lifelong besties Abby and Gretchen, who take LSD on a whim after a day of boating with pals. Gretchen disappears into the woods, and when she reappears the next morning, something is a little off. She has strange symptoms and outbursts and feels invisible hands touching her incessantly, and that is just the beginning. Though Abby is determined to help her friend, she’s met with resistance at every turn. Help finally arrives during a school assembly when Christian, a member of the Lemon Brothers Faith and Fitness Show, perceives the demon within Gretchen and challenges it to emerge, and an exorcism is born! THOUGHTS: With 1980s song titles setting the tone for each chapter, and a tip of the hat to Stephen King’s Thinner, this is Grady Hendrix at his humorously horrific (and sometimes just horrifying) best!

Horror (Adult Crossover)       Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School Library

YouTube has a playlist of all 27 chapter titles!  Playlist: My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Upper Elem/MS NF – Way Things Work Now; Some Writer


Macauly, David. The Way Things Work Now: From Levers to Lasers, Windmills to Wi-Fi, A Visual Guide to the World of Machines. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.  978-0-544-82438-6. 400 p. $35.00. Gr. 3-8.

Technology has changed considerably since the first edition of Macauley’s best- selling classic The Way Things Work was published in 1988. This newest update is rife with the classic and beautiful illustrations and cutaways that are his hallmark. The wooly mammoth is back again and many of the entries are the same or only slightly revised from the previous editions.  Macauley’s clear and concise prose provides explanations of the most notable inventions and technologies and the scientific principles that link many of mankind’s greatest achievements. The clever puns and jokes are still there and the illustrations are noticeably more vibrant.  THOUGHTS: This edition includes dozens of new entries on the many developments of our digital age including the World Wide Web, smartphones and hybrid cars, which make this update a welcome and necessary addition to every elementary and middle school library; heck high schoolers will appreciate it as well.  

600; Technology     Nancy Summers, Abington SHS



Sweet, Melissa. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-0544319592. $18.99. 161pp. Gr. 3-6.

Perennial favorite children’s author E. B. White’s life and career are reviewed in this charming bio by Caldecott Honor winning author, Melissa Sweet.  Beautifully designed pages with gorgeous illustrations, photographs and collages reveal his charmed life, his treasured childhood memories, his happy marriage, his lifelong love of nature and animals and his gift for writing. Sweet blends White’s own words from his classic tales and his personal correspondences into her well researched and inspiring tribute. Young and old fans alike will enjoy reading about his retreat in Maine, which served as an inspiration for his best loved work, Charlotte’s Web. The book includes an afterword by the author’s granddaughter, a timeline, an bibliography and an index. THOUGHTS: A delightful biography of a beloved American wordsmith and a recommended title for elementary libraries. Terrific!

Biography      Nancy Summers, Abington SHS

MS/YA Series NF – EL Info Age; Deadliest Spiders; Drug Dangers


Essential Library of the Information Age. Minneapolis: ABDO, 2017. $24.95ea. $149.70 set of 6. 112p. Gr. 8-12.

Eboch, M.M. Big Data and Privacy Rights. 978-1-68078-282-0.

Higgins, Melissa and Michael Regan. Net Neutrality. 978-1-68078-286-8.

Laine, Carolee. Book Banning and Other Forms of Censorship. 978-1-68078-283-7 .

Laine, Carolee. Content Ownership and Copyright. 978-1-68078-284-4.

Perdew, Laura. Information Literacy in the Digital Age. 978-1-68078-285-1.

Perdew, Laura. Online Identity. 978-1-68078-287-5.

The Essential Library of the Information Age examines the sometimes contentious and controversial issues that are present in today’s digital world. As the internet and digital world has evolved and changed, so too have the ways individuals deal with issues such as privacy, identity, censorship, copyright, access to information, and content ownership. Each volume of this series investigates one of these controversial topics in-depth. Each book includes an overview of the topic under discussion, presented in terms understood by laypeople. Also included is historical background information on the topic. Controversies surrounding each topic are fully discussed, with equal weight given to both sides of the issue. Numerous real-life examples are presented within the text and also included in sidebars. Other sidebars serve to define and further explain  information concepts.  THOUGHTS: This series does an admirable job of presenting what can be difficult to understand topics (net neutrality, for example) in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. Illustrative examples of issues are relevant to to the topics being discussed and further enhance understanding. Recommend for purchase in schools where research/projects warrant.   

Technology      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS



Deadliest Predators. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $29.95 ea. $179.70 set. 80 pp. Gr. 5 and up.

Abramovitz, Melissa. Deadliest Sharks. 978-68282- 0544.

Altman, Toney. Deadliest Mammals. 978-168282- 00506.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Reptiles. 978-168282- 0520.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Snakes. 978-68282- 0568.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Spiders. 978-68282- 0582.

Nardo, Don. Deadliest Dinosaurs. 978-168282- 0483.

These titles aim to give details on the “deadliest” animals of their type. In Deadly Dinosaurs, this task is done by offering six chapters, each devoted to a different predator: T. Rex (which likely lumbered like an elephant), Carcharodontosaurus (whose first discovered bones were destroyed by a WWII bomb hitting Munich), Spinosaurus (whose bony spinal “sail” could have been used to intimidate predators), Troodon (which appears to have been the smartest of all dinosaurs), Sonorithosaurus (which had feathers and wings—for gliding not flying), and Predator X (the seas’ top predator). Predator X was huge and “had teeth that would have made a T. rex whimper” (60). Not for arachnophobes, Deadliest Spiders provides a detailed view of the world’s spiders to avoid. Photos and illustrations are kept to one per two-page spread, leaving ample room for more detail and color. Six spiders are covered in ten pages each: the Black Widow Spider (and its well-known red marking), the Brazilian Wandering Spider (which wins the title of world’s most venomous spider), the Chilean Recluse (whose venom works to liquefy its victims’ internal organs), Sydney Full-Web Spider (whose nocturnal and underground habits fortunately limit its encounters with humans), the Eastern Mouse Spider (native to Australia), and the Indian Ornamental Tarantula (due to their beautiful markings and calm nature, these are popular as pets). Each spider’s physical characteristics, homeland and hunting patterns are discussed, followed by descriptions of the effects of its venom and a caution to steer clear or proceed cautiously with any spider. Nardo closes with useful source notes, glossary, further research list, and index.  THOUGHTS: A descriptive series that will attract readers for its topics and its content.

500s Animals; Dinosaurs        Melissa Scott, Shenango High School


Drug Dangers. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $29.95 ea. $239.60 set. 80 pp. Gr. 5 and up.

Allen, John. The Dangers of Heroin. 978-168282- 0186.

MacKay, Jenny. The Dangers of Hallucinogens. 978-168282- 0162 .

Marcovitz, Hal. The Dangers of Methamphetamine. 978-168282- 0223.

Mooney, Carla. The Dangers of Marijuana. 978-168282- 0209.

Mooney, Carla. The Dangers of Synthetic Drugs. 978-168282- 0261.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of Alcohol. 978-168282- 00124.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of E-Cigarettes. 978-168282- 0148.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of Painkillers. 978-168282- 0247.

Both The Dangers of Hallucinogens and The Dangers of Painkillers are structured with five chapters which cover the scope of the problem, the drug’s effects, how addictive the drug is, treatment options, and prevention of drug abuse. The format is inviting, with photographs, graphs, or sidebars added to enhance the material. The limits of the law are considered, as are challenges to the law, and difficulties that medical professionals regularly see. It is noted that teenage athletes are at risk for painkiller abuse due to injuries for which doctors prescribe painkillers. The “street names of hallucinogens” is a helpful sidebar.  THOUGHTS: Overall, this a solid series that updates readers with current situations.

362.29 Drugs and Alcohol      Melissa Scott, Shenango High

MS/YA NF – Sachiko; Courageous Women; Dinosaurs


Stelson, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. New York: Carolrhoda Books, 2016. 978-146788-9035. $19.99. 144pp. Gr. 5-8.
Sachiko Yasui holds memories of her close, loving family.  She also holds memories of a desperate war that turned horrific.  She lived with her family: mother, father, older brothers Aki and Ichiro, younger sister Misa, and youngest (doted upon) brother Toshi.  The war had taken its toll on Japan and food for everyone was scarce.  Urging her children to not waste a bit of food or drink, her mother would say, “Every sip is precious.”  When Sachiko’s father was drafted into the Japanese army, the family chose to return with him to Nagasaki.  It was a fateful decision, for soon thereafter the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima then Nagasaki.  Sachiko survived to watch her siblings die, each in a different manner, each due to the effects of the bomb.  She endured thyroid cancer treatments and fought back for her physical ability to speak, learning that “every word is precious.”  This is her story, told in affecting detail, of the bombing and the aftermath.  Despite the horror, this story is un-put-downable and ultimately overflowing with a message of peace and understanding.  Over a lifetime of questioning and forming her own perspective on the bombings (informed by the teachings of Gandhi, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr), Sachiko finally has spoken to many about these events, always urging an end to hatred and war.  “Every word is precious.” Well-documented and complete with end notes, glossary, and an author’s note.  THOUGHTS: This is a book to promote peace.  It would pair well with John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
940.54 World War II      Melissa Scott, Shenango High School



Reed, MK. Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers. New York: First Second, 2016. 978-1-62672-144-9. $19.99. Gr 6-12.

Science Comics second graphic novel is an excellent addition to the colorful, descriptive Coral Reefs comic published earlier this year. This volume explores the complex history of dinosaurs in beautiful color illustrations and an easy to read narrative that will appeal most to middle grade readers. The story begins with the history of paleontology, dating back to the discovery of many dinosaur bones during the Industrial Revolution. The scientific rivalries are dramatic enough to keep readers entertained, while the emergence of natural sciences as a discipline will ruminate with those studying the field. Readers will find various bits of trivia spread throughout the book, such as: how dinosaurs are named, where fossils are found, and much more. THOUGHTS: Use this graphic novel and the rest of the Science Comic series to add a fun addition to your nonfiction section; students will enjoy the opportunity to read a comic about science!

567.9; Dinosaurs      Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

We have an 8th grade science class come in the library weekly for a sustained silent science reading block, so I have made it my mission to update our science nonfiction and add titles that middle schoolers want to read. I normally book talk a few titles at the beginning of this block, and I always make sure to highlight a variety of books that will appeal to different readers. We had a few nonfiction graphic novels that always seemed to get scooped up quickly, so I am excited that there will be more titles in the Science Comics series. We plan to add them all to our collection as they are published, and I imagine they will continue to circulate while we partner with the 8th grade science class in the future.



Cordell, M.R. Courageous Women of the Civil War. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2016. 978-1-61373-200-7. $19.99. 230p. Gr. 7-12.

The often overlooked contributions that women made to the Civil War effort are the focus of this engaging title. Cordell profiles 16 Union and Confederate women who defied the expectations of the times and left their homes to become actively involved in the war. Some picked up arms, disguised themselves as men and joined up as soldiers. Other women served as spies, as nurses or as vivandieres (women attached to military units as sutlers and canteen bearers). The text is enhanced by sidebars that explain various aspects of the war. Also of note are the numerous historical photos, including photos showing many of the female soldiers in their male soldier disguises. THOUGHTS: This engaging title will appeal to all students, not just Civil War aficionados. The women profile led fascinating and action-packed lives and readers will find themselves drawn into their stories. The role of women in the war is not always discussed in history texts; this book helps to fill this void. Recommended for purchase in secondary schools.

973.7; Civil War       Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

YA Realistic Fiction – What Light; Keep Me In Mind; The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker


Asher, Jay. What Light. New York: Razorbill, 2016.  978-159514-5512. $18.99. 251 pp. Gr.  7-12.
Sierra loves her life but is between two worlds.  For most of the year she lives in Oregon on her family’s tree farm, but each year in the pre-Christmas season, her family moves to California to work on their tree lot.  Sierra loves the work and loves that her family embraces everything Christmas; no jadedness or blasé attitudes here.  However, each year it’s hard to leave behind friends, and this year her parents have come clean with the fact that individual sales are down, and they may close the California lot after this season.  And so, Sierra knows that starting a relationship with a boy in California would be foolish; she’ll be gone and maybe never return.  Enter Caleb.  After several visits to her family’s tree lot, Caleb clearly is interested.  Sierra is drawn to him, and his choice to buy trees to surprise families in need, but her friend warns her of a violent act in his past.  She tries to keep her distance, but also tries to find out how a “violent” boy description squares with the kind Caleb she’s getting to know.  Soon, they’re both head over heels in love, and run into problems from the past and present.  THOUGHTS: This winter romance delivers light PG-related content.  Asher pricked our guilty consciences with Thirteen Reasons Why.  In What Light, he shines only a pale, predictable light on forgiveness and judging others. Drink with a peppermint mocha.  Suitable for grades 7-12.
Romance         Melissa Scott, Shenango High School



Reed, Jaime. Keep Me In Mind.  New York: Point, 2016. 978-0-545-88381-8. 329 p. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.
When Ellia Dawson has an accident and suffers a head injury, her memory of the past two years is erased.  While she can remember her family and her best friend, she does not remember her boyfriend, Liam McPherson.  Liam, on the other hand, is still crazy about Ellia and would do anything in his power to bring her memory back.  He turns to writing to document their love story, and the author presents bits and pieces of his narrative throughout the story.  Chapters alternate between Liam’s perspective and Ellia’s perspective as the two work to overcome the obstacles associated with memory loss and rebuild their relationship.  A well-written story of teenage love and self-discovery. THOUGHTS: This title is remarkable in that it profiles an interracial relationship; Liam is white, and Ellia is black.  Although there is some tension between their families, the fact that they come from different backgrounds does not even phase Liam or Ellia.  Recommend this book to fans of romantic movies about memory loss, such as The Notebook or 50 First Dates.

Realistic Fiction         Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School​



Spears, Kat. The Boy Who Killed Grant Parker: A Novel . New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016. 978-1250088864. 320pp. $18.99. Gr. 8 and up.

After a series of pranks and misbehaviors, high school senior Luke is sent away by his mother to live with his father, a Baptist minister in a conservative town in Tennessee.  Luke immediately gets the attention of just about everyone in town, and the principal and the police chief are particularly suspicious of him. As the school year begins he struggles to find his spot on the social ladder and initially ends up with the outcasts. But before long, the school golden boy, Grant Parker, targets him for some old fashioned bullying.  A freak accident occurs and almost immediately Luke goes from bullied loser to boy of the hour with everyone now looking up to him to take Grant’s place on the high school social scene. Told in the first person with a male POV, the book delves into the social hierarchies in high school. Luke is at first an interesting and complex character, but after the pivotal incident his character loses his edgy voice as he blithely goes along with the crowd in his new found popularity.  Luke begins to take on more of Grant’s mean streak and he starts to lose himself and his true friends as he tries to fit in with the popular crowd. THOUGHTS: This novel is a fine realistic fiction quick pick for reluctant readers, but in the end leaves some questions and issues unresolved. I was hoping for a stronger and more insightful resolution to Luke’s change in status and attitude. Some of the situations in the novel are a bit implausible and many of the secondary characters could be fleshed out beyond stereotypes.  A quick read that brushes on some important issues such as bullying and conformity.

Realistic Fiction       Nancy Summers, Abington SHS