YA NF – Killers of the Flower Moon; The Photo Ark

Grann, David. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Doubleday, 2017. 978-0-385-53424-6. 338 pp. $28.95. Gr. 10 and up.

In the 1920s, members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma were among the world’s wealthiest people thanks to the “subterranean reservoir of black gold” beneath their rocky reservation land. Small checks for oil leases and royalties grew to many millions of dollars payable to people on the Osage Roll. These coveted mineral rights could not be bought or sold, only passed on through inheritance. Not trusting the Osage with such vast wealth, the government appointed guardians to steward the money safely into bank accounts and investments. Many unscrupulous guardians swindled the Osage out of their rightful payments. Compounding the troubles of the Osage, more than twenty people suffered untimely deaths through seemingly unconnected causes: gunshots, poison, and even a bombing. Under the guidance of J. Edgar Hoover, a newly restructured FBI was tasked with solving these bizarre, brutal crimes. At the heart of this powerful page-turner is the woman who lost most of her family and nearly her own life, the agent who represents the changing face of law enforcement, and the reporter who discovered an even deeper, darker layer within the Osage Reign of Terror. THOUGHTS: Killers of the Flower Moon is terrific narrative nonfiction that will appeal to readers who are interested in true crime, American history, and the “truth is stranger than fiction” facets of this maddening case.

An interesting book trailer may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__SSyQz7wPY. For further insights, listen to David Grann’s April 17, 2017, interview on NPR’s Fresh Air at http://www.npr.org/2017/04/17/524348264/largely-forgotten-osage-murders-reveal-a-conspiracy-against-wealthy-native-ameri or view the CBS Sunday Morning feature at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enjZe3Bq8tA.

976.6 (History)        Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District


Sartore, Joel. The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals. National Geographic, 2017. 978-1-4262-1777-7. 399 pp. $35.00. Gr. 7 and up.

At the current rate, half of all species on Earth could go extinct by 2100. Photographer Joel Sartore’s goal is to record images of all of the world’s approximately 12,000 species under human care before they are gone forever. The Photo Ark collects hundreds of his most striking images in one uniquely browsable volume. The book is organized into five sections: Mirrors, Partners, Opposites, Curiosities, and Stories of Hope. Each arresting two-page spread features pairs or groups of animals with a visual, environmental, or thematic connection (e.g., the owl and the pussycat). Deep black and clean white backgrounds make the animals the visual focus of each photograph. Accompanying abbreviations indicate each species’ risk of extinction. “Heroes” sidebars feature researchers and conservationists working tirelessly to protect vulnerable animals. Aspiring photographers will especially love the “Behind the Scenes” sections. THOUGHTS: This is a breathtakingly beautiful book that’s equal parts virtuosic artistry and call to action; every image is an invitation to learn (and do) more. It’s an essential purchase for every library, and an outstanding choice for readers of Wild at Heart by Terri Farley and Moonbird by Phillip Hoose.

For more insight into Joel Sartore’s mission and process, visit www.natgeophotoark.org. For even more detail, listen to his February 27, 2017, interview on NPR’s Fresh Air at http://www.npr.org/2017/02/27/517481473/photographer-builds-a-photo-ark-for-6-500-animal-species-and-counting.

779 (Photography)      Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

Series NF for Elementary & MS – Investigating Natural Disasters

Elkins, Elizabeth.  Investigating Natural Disasters. Capstone, 2017. $20.99ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32p. Gr. 3-7.

Investigating Earthquakes. 978-1-51574-038-4.

Investigating Floods. 978-1-51574-040-7.

Investigating Hurricanes. 978-1-51574-039-1.

Investigating Tornadoes. 978-1-51574-037-7.

The Investigating Natural Disasters series aims to inform readers about four of the most common natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. The forces that form each type of disaster and explained and scientific terminology is defined within callout boxes present throughout the chapters. The role and scientists, meteorologists and other forecasters in predicting events is also highlighted. Well-known examples of each type of disaster are included within the text. Disaster safety tips, for before, during, and after each each event are presented and discussed. THOUGHTS: This engaging series offers interested readers a good introduction to the science behind the natural disasters most likely to strike in the United States. A solid choice for student researchers and casual readers alike.

Geology; Meteorology      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg School District

A Few More 2016 Titles…The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart; The Fairy Tale Matchmaker; Lost in Ghostville

DeStefano, Lauren. The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart. Bloomsbury, 2016.  978-1-61963-643-9. $16.99. 208pp. Gr. 4-7.

Marybeth is well respected at the orphanage. She befriends Lionel, a boy misunderstood by others. After winding up at a barn unexpectedly for a night, she tells Lionel that she followed the blue spirit and since then things have been very wierd. Mrs. Mannerd is very worried about Marybeth’s recent behavior. Doctors worry that Marybeth is hurting other students, and this upsets Mrs. Mannerd as she would have loved to have a child like Marybeth before these episodes.  The special doctor visit leads Marybeth to be admitted into a hospital where it will be month before visitors are permitted. How can Lionel save his dear friend?  THOUGHTS: This is a powerful novel filled with heart.  The message that bravery is inside resonates throughout the adventures.  Late in the book readers learn that Lionel’s father killed his mother and that is why he wants to be a fierce animal. The spirit shows that Liza was killed and father suggested mother not know  and the guilt rid the older brother.

Fantasy    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District



Baker, E.D. The Fairy Tale Matchmaker: The Truest Heart. Bloomsbury, 2016. 978-1-61963-849-5. $16.99. 272pp. Gr. 4-7

Cory needs to participate in the Ogre party that includes a kick boulder game, food-eating contest, flatulence contest, and a three-legged race. This is a diversion for the harassment and sabotage that Cory has received since leaving the Tooth Fairy Guild. While Cory is a cupid, this is kept a secret. Her skills make it hard for her to believe that her mother, Delphinium, who disowned her, should pair with FLEA Officer Deads. Cory seeks advice from her grandfather, also a cupid. Will Cory be able to calm the guilds, help her estranged mother, and embrace her Cupid skills?  THOUGHTS:  E.D. Baker writes whimsical novels and has also influenced Walt Disney’s The Frog Princess. The series should be read in order to build on the continuity of the series.

Fantasy    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Bladek, John. Lost in Ghostville. Stone Arch, 2016. 978-1-4965-3360-9. 205pp. $25.32. Gr. 4-8.

Sixth grader Trey embraces adventure and finding ghosts. He basks in the new excitement that celebrity Rex Rangler adds to their low key town.  Trey even brings his ecto-meter to the girl’s bathroom at school, but this leads to trouble. As a result, Trey’s mother drives him and Vicki to Dino-Barn, but it does not feel right. The old theater owner, Mr. Greensock, is there. Vicki remembers that he died last year.  Through his adventure he is shocked to become friends with Vicki, and she wonders if she can find the ghost of her father who died at war. Trey has his ecto-meter and hopes to find his grandma and free Vicki. He has a showdown with Rex to confront his “ghostnapping.”  This book also includes a glossary.  THOUGHTS:  With well developed characters and adventure, this book is more than a ghost story to cause fear.

Fantasy/Paranormal    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

We’re Back…Time for some 2017! Elementary/MS Series Fiction – You Choose; Sleuths of Somerville; Dark Waters

You Choose: Haunted Places. Capstone, 2017. 112pp. $23.99 ea. Gr. 3-7.

Chandler, Matt. Alcatraz. 978-1-5157-2580-0.

Doeden, Matt. The Queen Mary. 978-1-5157-2578-7.

Alcatraz contains 42 choices and 15 endings while The Queen Mary contains 33 choices and 14 endings. The other books in this set are Tower of London and The Winchester Mystery House. A reading of Alcatraz may find readers wanting to learn more about The Warden’s House, “Machine Gun” Kelly, Al Capone, Robert Stroud, “The Birdman,” escape attempts, and tourism of the island.  Topics including the roles in history that boats played, the reported hauntings, and various locations on a ship can be obtained in readings of The Queen Mary.  Throughout the books, primary source photographs and diagrams are included. The epilogue details the locations and significances in history. Following the epilogue readers have a  detailed timeline, a glossary questions to explore, suggestions to read more and Facthound information to continue researching the topic.  THOUGHTS: At our library we already have numerous books from the You Choose series. Students enjoy these books and often ask if there is a reading test to go along the book. Since there are multiple choices and/or possible ending possibilities, I ask the students how the test questions would be answered. They understand the unique reading experience in these books is highly engaging, but not best measured with a test.

Action/Adventure      Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Jakubowski,Michele. The Sleuths of Somerville. Stone Arch, 2017. 978-1-4965-3207-7. 144pp. $18.99 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Mick’s Buried Treasure. 978-1-4965-3178-0.

Secrets in Somerville. 978-1-4965-3175-9.

These books are fast paced. In Secrets in Somerville, the main character children yearn for excitement one might experience in a large city.  Jace and Evie walk into the diner as new residents to Somerville and that is unexpected. Even more unusual is that they will be living in the old Potter house. Excitement builds when a resident’s dog, Rex, is missing. The novel Mick’s Buried Treasure begins in a hot September. The town has a resurgence of community pride after connection to Lincoln is unearthed. When the friends overhear the kindness of Mick and his buried treasure, they are off on a quest to solve the mystery first placing clues together.  Jace is going to learn more about his family and the strength of friends.  THOUGHTS:  Mystery fans will gravitate towards this fast paced series. The books contain a glossary in addition to questions for discussion and writing, which can also be used as a teaching tool.

Mystery     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Gilbert, Julie. Dark Waters: Into the Storm A Mermaid’s Journey. Stone Arch, 2017. 978-1-4965-4171-0. $25.99. 155pp. Gr. 5-8.

India Finch didn’t know about her “mer” heritage until spending the summer with her grandfather. Growing up biracial has been difficult for India, but this new information is still difficult for her to process. With the threat of a hurricane, India wants to warn the mer. The Pizza Plus worker is actually the sea witch who has a past with India’s father. While warning the mer of the plan of the sea witch, India saves Evan, her crush, underwater with CPR. There is an epic battle.What happened with her father all of those years ago?  This book also contains full colored artwork, a glossary, and discussion and writing questions. There are currently three other books in the series: Fire and Ice: A Mermaid’s Journey, Neptune’s Trident: A Mermaid’s Journey, and The Sighting: A Mermaid’s Journey.  THOUGHTS:  Currently there are three other books in the series: Fire and Ice: A Mermaid’s Journey, Neptune’s Trident: A Mermaid’s Journey, and The Sighting: A Mermaid’s Journey. Dark Waters is ideal for students that enjoy Donnelly’s Deep Blue series and  Tera Lynn Childs Forgive My Fins.

Fantasy, Action/Adventure     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District