Elem. – Leyla; Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game; Why; Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster For a Pet; Camp; Boy-Crazy Stacey; Find Momo Across Europe; A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Bernstein, Galia. Leyla. Abrams, 2019. 978-1-419-73543-1. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3. 

Leyla is a little baboon with a big family. Her troop includes not only her mother and father but also nine aunts and twenty-three cousins! Since she has such a large family, there is always someone around. Someone to hug her, kiss her, and groom her. And, there’s always someone talking – even when it’s her naptime. One day, Leyla can’t take it anymore, and she runs away from all the noise and all the commotion. She runs until she finds total peace and quiet. In the quiet place, she befriends a lizard who shows her how to simply “be.” The meditation does Leyla good, but it also makes her realize that she misses her boisterous family. Promising to visit the lizard again when she needs some peace and quiet, Leyla returns to her family. They welcome her with open arms and lots of kisses. When life gets noisy again, Leyla remembers her afternoon with the lizard and their strategy for finding inner peace. 

THOUGHTS: This title would be a good fit for elementary morning meetings since it focuses on what to do when one is feeling overwhelmed. It also validates the idea of taking a break from life’s chaos and doing nothing for a while. Leyla’s cool-down strategies can easily be replicated in the classroom, and her dilemma of how to deal with her feelings of life sometimes being too much will be relatable for many children. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Grabeinstein, Chris. Mr. Lemoncello’s All-Star Breakout Game. Random House: 2019. 978-0-525-64644-0. 261 p. $16.99. Grades 3-6.

Kyle and his friends at Alexandriaville Middle School are excited for the newest challenge from game mogul Luigi Lemoncello. The All-Star Breakout Game is limited to two teams from the middle school, and once again Kyle is pitted against arch-enemy Charles Chiltington, along with a team of stars from the Kidzapalooza TV network, in a contest to play their way out of Mr. Lemoncello’s fabulous library. The game features the library’s new Fictionasium, an interactive Virtual Reality world that allows the teams to create their own story as they collect clues to unlock five locks and be the first to escape the library. While much about this fourth entry in the entertaining Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series is familiar territory, Grabenstein also focuses on character development. As Kyle’s friend Sierra says, quoting Atticus Finch, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Kyle learns why Charles is driven to succeed at all costs, as well as gaining some insight into the lives of kid TV personalities. As always, Kyle’s loyalty to his friends and his innate fairness, contribute to the conclusion of the game. Grabenstein includes a game for readers as well: can you find the over 70 book titles mentioned throughout the novel? A complete list is at the end of the story and may lead readers to many other books.

THOUGHTS:  A high-energy ode to libraries and books. Purchase where other titles are popular. While this book works as a stand-alone, readers of the complete series will enjoy reconnecting with the characters.  

Adventure          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. Why? Neal Porter Books, 2019. 978-0-823-44173-0. Unpaged. $18.00. Grades PreK-2. 

Laura Vaccaro Seeger is well known to many of us, but this book’s illustrations stray from her typical fare as she uses lovely watercolors to show a curious rabbit with a never-ending stream of “Why?” questions. Friend bear patiently provides answers to rabbit’s questions focused on growing plants, beautiful summer weather, falling leaves, migrating birds, and other signs that seasons are changing in the forest. As snow starts falling and a sleepy bear reaches the end of his answers (and perhaps his patience!), rabbit begs bear not to go. “Why?” questions the bear, and roles reverse as rabbit explains that he will miss his friend. This story will surely resonate with parents of toddlers and curious kids with their own never-ending streams of why questions.

THOUGHTS: A simple friendship story with lots of discussion/prediction possibilities in a preschool or young elementary classroom. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Goodner, David. Ginny Goblin Cannot Have a Monster For a Pet. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 978-0-544-76416-3. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2. 

Ginny Goblin wants a pet. The problem? She loves goats. The narrator explains to readers that goats are smelly and perhaps we readers can help Ginny Goblin find a different pet. The new problem? Ginny employs her powers of cunning and creativity to take each search to the extreme, turning a beachside hunt for a hermit crab into a deep sea dive to find a giant kraken and birdwatching during a forest stroll into a haunted forest basilisk hunt. After several failed attempts to bring a monster home, Ginny Goblin suggests a smaller, cuter option. A goat, of course! Children will delight in Ginny’s silly antics during pet hunting and will certainly giggle at Ginny’s final bit of trickery.

THOUGHTS: Read this to some kindergarteners in need of a good giggle. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Miller, Kayla. Camp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 978-1-725-42526-2. 213 p. $24.99. Grades 3-5. 

Fans of Kayla Miller’s Click and readers new to the series will love Olive’s new adventure in Camp. Olive and pal Willow head to Camp Acorn Lake for two weeks in the bunny bunk, and Olive brings her typical enthusiasm for new friends and diverse activities, from jewelry making to softball to video. Willow is more of an “indoor-kid,” camp speak for kids who aren’t so into sports and nature activities. Olive dives into camp life and makes lots of new friends while Willow is homesick and clings tighter and tighter to Olive as the days pass. Olive is torn between being a good friend to Willow and wanting to branch out and enjoy her own time and interests that might not include Willow. After an eruption at the Halfway Day dance, Olive and Willow spend a few days apart. Without Olive to cling to, Willow finds her own niche (the drums–who knew!) and actually enjoys her last few days at camp, and Olive gets to try out some new activities like skateboarding. Ultimately, however, they patch things up after an honest heart-to-heart. Miller excels at realistic friendship stories and upper elementary/early middle school students will surely find something relatable at Camp Acorn Lake. Bonus–extra pages in the back of the book show a map of Camp Acorn Lake and how-to’s for some of Olive and Willow’s favorite camp activities.

THOUGHTS: An excellent new graphic novel series, hand Camp to fans of the first book or readers who like Gale Galligan’s Baby-Sitters Club series for a surefire hit.  

Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Galligan, Gale. Boy-Crazy Stacey (The Baby-Sitters Club). Graphix, 2019. 978-1-544-43492-6. 159 p. $25.00. Grades 3-6. 

Stacey and Mary Anne can’t wait to visit Sea City. They’re baby-sitting the Pike kids for two weeks while the family vacations in New Jersey, and that will mean fun on the beach, the boardwalk, and crazy days with lots of kids running around. It’s a baby-sitter’s dream! Unfortunately for Mary Anne, Stacey spies a cute lifeguard early in their trip and spends most of her time hanging around the stand talking to cute, older lifeguard Scott, leaving Mary Anne to do double baby-sitting duty. Two weeks fly by in a blur of Burger Garden dinners, boardwalk nights, sibling woes, and tension between the baby-sitters, but after Stacey spots Scott with another girl she snaps back to reality and realizes she’s been slacking. The baby-sitters patch things up and enjoy their last few days in Sea City with the kids and a few special new friends. Like the other books in the graphic novel series, Boy-Crazy Stacey holds true to Ann M. Martin’s original BSC book that many of us remember and love from years past, down to Stacey’s heart-topped i’s. Small updates make the book current–when Mary Anne gets terribly sunburned, the Pike kids bring items to help soothe her discomfort and Claire brings peanut butter (“It’s yummy”) rather than butter, an old-fashioned remedy for regular burns, which wouldn’t make much sense to kids in 2019. A solid addition to the series!

THOUGHTS: BSC fans will gobble up Galligan’s latest offering. 

Graphic Novel          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Knapp, Andrew. Find Momo Across Europe. Quirk Books, 2019. 978-1-683-69106-8. 134 p. $14.95. Grades 3+.

Andrew Knapp and his excellent-at-hiding border collie, Momo, are back! This time, their adventures take them on an extended road trip across Europe. Knapp documents their travels with hide-and-seek photographs of Momo in and amongst some of Europe’s most beautiful scenery and iconic tourist attractions. Every chapter in their “Road Map” (each featuring two or three countries) opens with some background and dog-friendly highlights from their time in that region. Their stops include Portugal, Italy, Albania, Croatia, Wales, and more. Readers will delight in spotting Momo as he peeks out from behind bushes, boulders, and bicycles!

THOUGHTS: The Find Momo books are a delight for all ages. They are a great choice for struggling readers and avid readers alike. They work especially well as a breather in between more text-heavy selections, or as a book club option for groups with varying reading levels. There are even more interactive hide-and-seek photographs at letsfindmomo.com.

793 Picture Puzzles, Dogs          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Rogers, Fred.  A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers. Quick Books, 2019. 141 p.  978-1-683-69113-6. $19.99.  Grades PreK-1.

This work is a collection of 75 songs that were performed on the TV show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as seen on PBS.  Although the title names them poems, they are actually songs written by either Fred Rogers or Josie Carey, a host of children’s shows and another Pittsburgh native. Per the index, the songs cover such topics as self-esteem, curiosity, fears and worries, feelings, making mistakes, and being special. Mister Rogers strove to reassure young children that each one of us is special in our own way. Each poem is accompanied by colorful illustrations by Luke Flowers. Sometimes the rhymes seem forced, but that is probably because they are better sung. The book itself might have been even more impressive if a CD recording of Rogers’ singing these songs himself was part of the package.  With the coming of the Mister Rogers’ movie starring Tom Hanks, this text will be of more interest.

THOUGHTS: This collections of songs/poems will be useful to preschool and kindergarten teachers who can use them in their lessons and activities.

811.6 21st Century Poetry          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

YA – Michigan vs. The Boys; Fear of Missing Out; Soul of Stars

Allen, Carrie S. Michigan vs. The Boys. KCP Loft, 2019. 978-1-525-30276-3. 304 p. $17.99. Grades 9-12.

Michigan Manning is about to have the senior year she’s always dreamed of, having been selected as Assistant Captain for her hockey team with her best friend taking the big C. But nothing gold can stay, and shortly after receiving their patches the team is defunded. Without the team, Michigan won’t be able to get a scholarship to college and is rightfully devastated. That is until someone has an idea; why not play for the boys’ team? Knowing how much work she’ll have to do, Michigan tries out for the team, landing a ranking in the top five players. The problem? The boys aren’t happy with it. As she strives to maintain her spot and hopefully play well enough to earn a scholarship, Michigan faces challenges and abuse she never expected and events take a turn she never could have imagined.

THOUGHTS: This was one of the most powerful, motivating sports stories I’ve ever read. This is a story for anyone who has ever had to be strong, who has ever tried to blaze a trail, or who has ever had to speak out. Michigan’s story will inspire readers to take charge and take what’s theirs.

Realistic Fiction, Sports         Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

McGovern, Kate. Fear of Missing Out. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2019. 978-0-374-30547-5.  312 p. $17.99. Grades 7-12.

Astrid was the girl who survived brain cancer, until it came back. Astrid’s mom is frantically researching treatment options, and lobbying to get her into a new drug trial, but Astrid faces facts. Astrid believes in science, and she knows the odds for her survival are not good. But no one else, her mom; her younger brother; her best friend, Chloe; and her boyfriend, Mohit, is willing to give her up so easily. When Astrid attends a medical symposium, however, she is intrigued by a presentation on cryopreservation. In order to scientifically research the concept of freezing her body, she convinces Chloe and Mohit to go on a cross-country road trip to the cryopreservation facility. Chloe starts a fundraising Vlog and Astrid chronicles the trip and their detours to kitschy tourist attractions. As the trip progresses Astrid, reading her body, knows her time is limited. McGovern presents a raw look at cancer, and the emotional toll it takes on the patient, as well as those who love her. There are times when Chloe and Mohit lash out at Astrid, not understanding why she seems ready to let go. Mohit states, “I don’t feel sorry for you… I feel sorry for me. And Chloe. We’re the ones left behind.” Eventually, Astrid takes control of what is left of her life and decides how she wants to die. This is not a heroic look at cancer, but 300 pages of honest emotion from all involved.

THOUGHTS: Hand this book out with a pack of tissues. It is a beautiful, soul wrenching read. Even though you know how it’s going to end, it still hurts.

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Poston, Ashley. Soul of Stars. Balzar and Bray, 2019. 978-0-062-84733-1. 424 p. $17.99. Grades 7-12.

The sequel to Heart of Iron continues the sprawling space saga without missing a beat. Six months after escaping the HIVE-instigated battle for the Ironblood crown, Anna and her cobbled together family on the spaceship Dossier are trying to find the mythical Great Dark, the evil that is overtaking the universe. She is bereft by the betrayal of Di, her Metal best friend, but still believes his original core is intact. A search for the rumored individual who brought a Metal back from the HIVE goes dangerously wrong, and Anna and the crew find themselves on a chase across galaxies to find an object, the heart, that will allow The Dark to assume complete control. However, Anna learns that destroying the heart will also destroy all the HIVE’d Metals, and she faces an unbearable choice. The pace rarely slows down, but not at the cost of character development. Each of our favorite characters, human and Metal, from Heart of Iron plays an integral part in the story as secrets are uncovered and identities revealed, for a satisfying conclusion to the story.

THOUGHTS: Purchase the book for fans of Heart of Iron, but also use it as an opportunity to reintroduce the series to fans of Star Wars

Science Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

MG – Guts; Sunny Rolls the Dice; Beast Rider; Tree of Dreams; Not If I Can Help It; A Place to Belong; Allies; Level 13; Lizzie Flying Solo

Telgemeier, Raina. Guts. Graphix, 2019. 978-0-545-85250-0. 211 p. $12.99. Grades 5-8.

Panic attacks. Fear of vomiting. Negative thoughts. Self doubt. After her family gets sick from bad artichokes, Raina’s fear of getting sick again sends her into a spiral of panic and anxiety. She can hardly focus in school, is afraid to speak in front of the class, and is getting made fun of by a girl in her class. After a visit to the doctor (where she was “as healthy as a horse”) and continued belly aches, Raina begins to see a therapist. At each visit Raina is able to explore the causes of her anxiety and learn strategies to cope.  Raina begins to explore drawing and new friendships all while figuring out what triggers her panic attacks – whether it is puberty, public speaking, or beans. A surprise ending will leave readers excited for Raina’s future. Based on the author’s real life struggle with anxiety, this is a must read for middle level students.

THOUGHTS: As a companion book to Smile, Guts does not disappoint. True to the nature of the series, this book will make readers cry, laugh, and cheer as Raina navigates her way through life with anxiety. This story helps shed light on the mental health struggles kids face and ways to manage. 

Realistic Fiction            Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Holm, Jennifer & Matthew Holm. Sunny Rolls the Dice. Graphix, imprint of Scholastic, 2019. 978-1-338-23314-8. 217 p. $12.99. Grades 5-8.

Sunny’s “groovy meter” is out of whack and no matter what she tries, she just can’t seem to keep up with the “coolness” of her friends. Sunny is discovering that middle school is trickier than she thought. Her friends are into makeup, boys, and the newest trends, and Sunny just can’t seem to figure out how to be “cool” like them. Sunny begins playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends in her basement, and suddenly she sees herself as a mighty fighter. As Sunny becomes closer to her Dungeon and Dragon male counterparts, her best friend Deb drifts farther into the popular zone. Sunny discovers that staying true to herself is more important than trying to be someone you’re not! 

THOUGHTS: Sunny is at it again! This graphic novel does not disappoint relaying just how difficult middle school life can be. With relatable characters, readers will enjoy watching Sunny travel down the path of exploration as to what is groovy or not. The third book in the Sunny series brings back a classic game to help reveal how finding your inner dragon slayer can help you discover who you really are.

Realistic Fiction            Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Johnston, Tony, and Maria Elena Fontanot De Rhoads. Beast Rider. Amulet, 2018. 978-1-419-73363-5. 159 p. $17.99. Grades 6 and up. 

This timely book explores the controversial topic of immigrants and immigration from the inside. Manuel, a twelve-year-old boy, lives with his extended family on a small subsistence farm in Oaxaca, Mexico. The train heading north to the border, nicknamed “the Beast” by locals, runs past their fields, and Manuel is familiar with people jumping onto the top of the train to travel north and into the United States. His older brother, Toño, successfully made the trip four years ago, but many do not survive. Toño lives in Los Angeles now, and Manuel misses him deeply. Despite his firsthand experience with the dangers of the Beast, Manuel resolves to join his brother in LA. He saves up money, makes the jump, and begins his own long journey. Johnston does not flinch at portraying the dangers involved in trying to reach the border. Manuel’s experience includes being preyed on by thieves, chased by police, and caught by gangs, while also having the kindness of strangers bestowed upon him along the way. After several years, Manuel eventually reaches LA and reunites with his brother. The book includes a helpful Spanish-English glossary, as well as an author’s note which discusses the realities on which this book is based. Beast Rider is a brutal (although not graphic) look at the hazardous journey undertaken by individuals desperately clinging to the hope of a better life.

THOUGHTS:  An important book which explores immigration from the point of view of the immigrant; it should be added to most collections.

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Resau, Laura. Tree of Dreams. Scholastic, 2019. 978-0-545-80088-4. 336 p. $17.99. Grades 3-7.

Coco lives up to her name. She loves chocolate with a passion. Not in the Halloween candy kind of way, but as a professional epicure. Coco’s mother owns a chocolate shop in Colorado, and Coco absorbs every aspect of producing chocolate, from sourcing cacao beans sustainably grown in the Amazon, through to creating delicious chocolate creations. But when her mom informs Coco that the shop is losing money and she needs to close it, Coco stubbornly looks for a way to prevent the loss of everything she loves. At the same time, she starts dreaming of a large Ceiba tree which speaks to her. Conveniently, a local dessert competition offers the prize of a trip to the Amazon rainforest. Coco and her former best friend, Leo, enter the contest and, conveniently, are declared co-winners. Coco is determined to locate the treasure the Ceiba tree tells her awaits within her roots. But when the party arrives, they face the reality of the rapid destruction of the Amazon, and the life and death struggle to stop the damage. Coco and Leo bond with Isa, a Huaorani girl, and the friends realize all of them have been dreaming of the Ceibo tree. The three friends urgently work to find the magical tree before it is lost for good. The plot framework is compelling, so readers may not realize the wealth of information Resau has woven into the story. The ecological message is very timely, and, while it drives the plot, does not come across as didactic.

THOUGHTS:  An enjoyable mystery which brings the reality of the deforestation of the Amazon to middle grade readers. Mystery fans and chocolate lovers alike will enjoy the story and walk away more knowledgeable about environmental issues. 

Magical Realism          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Mackler, Carolyn. Not If I Can Help It. Scholastic, 2019. 978-0-545-70950-7. 240 p. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

Willa has quirks. She knows this about herself. She can’t wear socks with a seam in the toe. She hates chewing baby carrots, and don’t even bring up slimy eggs! Willa has Sensory Processing Disorder, and it makes life challenging for her and those who love her. Willa’s therapist helps her problem solve and cope. Classmates, and even her best friend, Ruby, are unaware of her diagnosis, and generally accept her eccentricities. However, Willa’s carefully constructed world implodes when she learns that her dad is planning on marrying Ruby’s mom. Everyone else thinks Willa should be ecstatic that Ruby will become her sister, but all Willa can see is that Ruby will be exposed to the inner workings of Willa’s world: her therapy sessions, her melt downs, and her intense likes and dislikes. Everything she keeps private. Willa feels she can’t take the risk and closes down, even as she knows she’s being unkind to Ruby. Will their friendship survive being sisters?

THOUGHTS:  A delightful middle-grade story that is not overpowered by the exploration of Sensory Processing Disorder. Readers will root for Willa to find her way to acceptance, and, possibly, happiness. 

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Change can be difficult, especially if you have Sensory Processing Disorder like Willa. Things have to be just so or she gets anxious. Clothing must be soft, socks have to fit just right, and no collar tags on her shirts. Besides clothing certain foods are just gross or irritating. She is getting along fairly well even if her parents are divorced. She goes to her mother’s on the weekend. It is the end of fifth grade, and things are about to get more difficult. Everyone is on pins and needles
hoping to get into the middle school of their choice. Willa and her best friend Ruby really hope to be together. One evening her Dad and Ruby’s mom announce that they have been dating and are getting married. This is not okay with Willa. It disturbs her that her best friend’s mom will be her stepmother and her friend, her stepsister. There are too many adjustments for Willa to cope with. She loves Ruby, but…. Will this spoil everything including their friendship? Slowly obstacles are overcome, but there are hurts along the way. Choices must be made.

THOUGHTS: Mackler deftly hands SPD and the anxiety it creates, especially in the preteen years. She creates a caring and informative environment as show when a “mean” girl comes around and is sympathetic. The parenting in this book is outstanding. Both girls have strong support from all sides.

Realistic Fiction          Jeannie Bellavance, Retired

Kadohata, Cynthia. A Place to Belong. Athenaeum, 2019. 978-1-481-444664-8. 399 p. $17.99. Grades 4-7.

Kadohata takes readers down a quiet side street of history for her newest book. In the aftermath of WWII, Hanoko and her family are on their way to Japan. Although they are all American citizens, they spent four years in internment camps during WWII. Afterwards, they accepted the US government’s offer to expatriate them to Japan, renouncing their citizenship. Hanoko and her brother Akito are nervous to meet their grandparents for the first time and have no idea what the future will hold. Traveling through Hiroshima, Hanoko is exposed to the painful aftermath of the atomic bomb. Life in post war Japan requires many adjustments for the children, but after their years in internment camps (separated from their father) Hanoko enjoys being with her family, even though food is scarce and her grandparents work long hours on their tenant farm. Kadohata shows the loving relationship between Hanoko and her grandparents. Hanoko is always courteous and respectful, trying her hardest to be kind to them and make them happy. When Hanoko’s father hears of a lawyer, Wayne Collins, who is suing the United States on behalf of the Japanese individuals who renounced their citizenship under duress, the family has to decide where their future lies. Based on actual events, Kadohata’s book brings to light a little known codicil to WWII. In the afterward, Kadohata explains that Collins was unable to file a class action suit on behalf of all expatriated citizens and spent decades filing individual suits on behalf of thousands of Japanese Americans. 

THOUGHTS:  An enlightening story that expounds upon a shameful chapter in American history. The dignified demeanor of Hanoko’s family contrasts with the circumstances in which they find themselves. A first purchase for classrooms and libraries.

Historical Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Gratz, Alan. Allies. Scholastic, 2019. 978-1-338-60449-8. 322 p. $9.99. Grades 4-8.

Alan Gratz hits another home run with his latest book, Allies. Set on June 6, 1944, D-Day, Gratz covers the Allied invasion of France from multiple perspectives. Young American soldiers who should be in school, not slogging through the water off the coast of Normandy, try to beat the odds and make it to shore alive. An Algerian woman and her daughter assist the French resistance, despite the fact that the French occupy their own country. A black medic overwhelmed by the volume of casualties, patches together men who wouldn’t sit down to eat with him. A Canadian paratrooper floats to earth with the earliest wave of troops. Throughout the long, long day, a plethora of individuals perform numerous small tasks and brave acts, finding hope in what they see and do, despite the brutality of the war. While writing for a middle grade audience, Gratz does not sugarcoat the reality of the Omaha Beach landing, the mistakes that were made in logistics, leading to the horrific number of casualties. A comprehensive Author’s Note at the end of the book helpfully delineates what is factual and where Gratz used creative license.

THOUGHTS: Purchase multiple copies of the book. Alan Gratz fans have been chomping at the bit waiting for publication day.

Historical Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Korman, Gordon. Level 13. Scholastic, 2019. 978-1-338-28620-5. 241 p. $16.99. Grades 4-6.

Cameron Boxer is at it again! President of the P.A.G., gamer, and part of the Awesome Threesome, he decides that it’s time to step up his gaming career. Determined to reach 5,000 subscribers (and make some serious cash) Cam discovers that school and the P.A.G. are getting in the way. Cam decides to step back from his role of president in order to focus on his “failing grades” a.k.a. his live streaming channel. With the help of a beaver named Elvis, and an elusive Level 13 in Guardians, Cam is rocketed into the spotlight as the impressive streamer GameFox229. Suddenly students are sharing their homework and projects with Cam (to help him from failing) and wearing GameFox229 T-shirts (as a library fundraiser). Cam finally has everything he wanted – a successful streaming channel and amazing grades. But when a mysterious stalker appears, Cam wonders if it’s all worth it. As the heat is turned up to discover who GameFox229 and his sidekick beaver are, Cam discovers that being a slacker can backfire! 

THOUGHTS: Students will connect with gamer Cam and the antics of the group of boys in the novel. The story provides multiple perspectives that weave together a story that will keep you guessing what’s next, or leave you craving gummy worms! The second in the Slacker series does not disappoint with it’s laugh out loud moments and lovable rodent.

Realistic Fiction         Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Steveson, Nancy Turner. Lizzie Flying Solo. Harper, 2019. 978-0-062-67318-3. 320 p. $16.99. Grades 3-6. 

Lizzie’s life has been turned upside down. Her father is in jail, awaiting trial on charges of embezzlement, and when her mother can no longer make mortgage payments, the two move to a homeless shelter. Lizzie is shaken by the loss of her former life, and terrified at starting a new school, worried that people will know she lives at the shelter. One day Lizzie follows a path in the woods and comes upon a riding stable. Horse crazy Lizzie can’t stay away, hiding in the brush and watching the girls who come for lessons, girls who attend her school. When new friend Bryce takes Lizzie to the stables to see his horse, Lizzie receives an unexpected offer of a work-to-ride scholarship. In return for helping out at the stables, Lizzie is able to take riding lessons and she finds a place where she belongs and is accepted. She bonds with a recalcitrant new horse she names Fire and sets her sights on purchasing him. She also makes friends with an older student assistant, a friendship that brings unexpected rewards. While at first glance a homeless girl taking riding lessons and participating in horse shows may seem unlikely, Stevenson places Lizzie and her mom in a situation where it is entirely plausible. Throughout the book Lizzie expresses confusion about her father and whether or not he is guilty of the crimes. Her emotions are quietly raw and very real. She is as skittish as Fire and as terrified of trusting people. But her love of horses helps her learn to trust again.

THOUGHTS:  A thoughtful look at homelessness and how it affects children. The story is not dark and wraps up with a sparkly future ahead of Lizzie and her mom, but it can demystify homelessness a bit. While there is no indication that this will become a series, readers will be rooting for Lizzie all the way, and are sure to hope for more of her story.  

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Baby Animals; My First Animal Library; Everyday Engineering; Mind-Blowing Science Facts; Canine Athletes; Xtreme Insects

Murray, Julie. Baby Animals-Set 2. Abdo, 2019. $18.95 ea. $113.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2.

Baby Gorillas. 978-1-5321-8163-4.
Giraffe Calves. 978-1-5321-8164-1.
Hippo Calves. 978-1-5321-8165-8.
Panda Cubs. 978-1-5321-8166-5.
Piglets. 978-1-5321-8167-2.
Tiger Cubs. 978-1-5321-8168-9.

Abdo expands their Baby Animals series for primary readers with the release of this set of six titles. Each volume examines the first weeks of a baby animal’s life via high quality full-page photos and simple text (Example sentences from Panda Cubs include “It grows fur. The fur is black and white.”). Each title features a visual glossary as well as a timeline with photos of the animal at various ages. Supplemental material, including videos, games, and crafts are available via the AbdoKids website.

THOUGHTS: An excellent option for early readers, these titles are sure to popular with animal lovers who will love the large, oversized photos of cute baby animals. The online supplemental material is a cut above what many publishers offer–not just videos and trustworthy weblinks, but also printables such as word searches, mazes, and craft activities that primary teachers could use in lessons or as enrichment activities.

599 Animals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD
636.4 Farm Animals

Meister, Cari. My First Animal Library. Jump! Library, 2019. $17.95ea. 24p. Grades K-3.

Armadillos. 978-1-62496-748-1.
. 978-1-62496-750-4.
Black Bears. 978-1-62496-756-6.
Caribou. 978-1-62496-752-8.
Coyote. 978-1-62496-754-2.
Moose. 978-1-62496-758-0.
Prairie Dogs. 978-1-62496-762-7.
River Otters. 978-1-62496-760-3.

This primary level non-fiction series aims to introduce early readers to some popular wild animals. High-quality photographs are paired with simple large text in order to inform readers of the basics about the animal habitat, characteristics, and more. Sample text from the Bison volume includes “Bison live in herds. They roam. They graze.” Labeled photos identify the parts of the animal and a picture glossary is also included. 

THOUGHTS: If you are a librarian in a school serving primary students, this series merits your consideration. Visually appealing with basic facts, they are sure to appeal to early readers. 

599 Mammals          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Bowman, Chris. Everyday Engineering. Bellwether, 2019. $17.95 ea. $107.70 set of 6. Grades K-3. 

Bridges. 978-1-62617-821-2.
Dams. 978-1-62617-822-9.
Highways. 978-1-62617-823-6.
Roller Coasters. 978-1-62617-824-3.
Skyscrapers. 978-1-62617-825-0.
Stadiums. 978-1-62617-826-7.

Early readers will learn more about the engineering basics behind some of the world’s most common structures in the Everyday Engineering series. A brief history of the structure is presented, along with a description of what the structure looks like today in simple text. Labeled photos identify parts of the structure, and basic graphics help to illustrate some of the scientific forces at work. Photos appear on every page, and a glossary is also present. 

THOUGHTS: If you are in a primary library are looking for some simple STEM-related non-fiction titles to add to your collection, this series merits consideration. Recommended.

600s, 700s Engineering          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Mind-Blowing Science Facts. Capstone, 2019. $21.49 ea. $171.92 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 2-5.

Abramovitz, Melissa.  A Toad That Explodes and Other Cool Animal Facts. 978-1-5435-5772-5.
Duling, Kaitlyn. It’s Raining Fish and Other Cool Weather Facts. 978-1-5435-5770-1.
—. A Plant That Eats Spiders and Other Cool Green-and-Growing Facts. 978-1-5435-5771-8.
Hutmacher, Kimberly M. Lakes in the Ocean and Other Cool Underwater Facts. 978-1-5435-5767-1.
—. The Universe Began with a Bang and Other Cool Space Facts. 978-1-5435-5769-5.
—. The World Was Once Covered by Mushrooms and Other Cool Earth Facts. 978-1-5435-5768-8.
—. Your Nose Never Stops Growing and Other Cool Human Body Facts. 978-1-5435-5766-4.
Reed, Ellis M. Dinosaurs are Everywhere and Other Cool Jurassic Facts. 978-1-5435-5765-7.

Did you know that sea cucumbers can shoot body parts at predators? Or that horned lizards can shoot blood from their eyes? These are just two of the facts readers will learn in the Mind-Blowing Science Facts series. Each volume aims to engage readers by focusing on high-interest science topics and presenting amazing and unique facts related to each topic. Unique facts are incorporated within the main body of the text, and spotlight boxes provide even more mind-blowing facts. Numerous high-quality photos are present throughout each volume. 

THOUGHTS: More for the casual reader (as opposed to the student researcher), this series is sure to be popular with students who enjoy fact book style volumes. The titles of each volume are attention-grabbing (who could resist picking up a book called A Toad That Explodes and Other Cool Animal Facts, after all?) and help to make these books a great option for displays or booktalks. 

500s, 600s, Science         Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Canine Athletes. Abdo, 2019. $18.95 ea. $113.70 set of 6. 32 p. Grades 3-6. 

Klepeis, Alicia Z. Disc Dogs. 978-1-5321-1737-4.
—. Sled Racing Dogs. 978-1-5321-1741-1.
Furtsinger, Nancy. Herding Dogs. 978-1-5321-1738-1.
Holmes, Parker. K9 and Military Dogs. 978-1-5321-1739-8.
Miller, Marie-Therese. Racing and  Lure Coursing Dogs. 978-1-5321-1740-4.
Pearson, Marie. Agility Dogs.  978-1-5321-1736-7.

Athletes just don’t have two legs, some have four! In Canine Athletes, readers will learn about some of the dog sports growing in popularity today. Dog sports require dogs and humans to work together to train, condition, and compete. Each volume describes the history and rules of the sport as well as the training and skills necessary to compete. Breeds best suited to each sport are also identified. The text is supplemented by numerous photos of the dogs in action. 

THOUGHTS: While there are plenty of books about dogs, there are fewer resources available on dog sports, which continue to grow in popularity (with competitions even occasionally appearing on sports networks like ESPN). This series helps to fill this gap and is sure to be popular with dog lovers as well as those researching dogs or unique sports. 

355, 636.7, 798.8 Dogs, Sports          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

Hamilton, S.L. Xtreme Insects-Set 2. Abdo, 2019. $18.95 ea. $113.70 set of 6. 32 p. Grades 3-8.

Butterflies. 978-1-5321-1814-2.
Crickets. 978-1-5321-1816-6.
Dragonflies. 978-1-5321-1817-3.
Grasshoppers. 978-1-5321-1818-0.
Mosquitos. 978-1-5321-1819-7.
Moths. 978-1-5321-1820-3.

Did you know a group of crickets is called an orchestra? Or that crickets are considered lucky in many parts of the world? Readers will learn these facts and more in the Xtreme Insects series. Each volume of this series examines one of the world’s most common insects. Overall characteristics of the insect are presented in each title, with spotlight boxes highlighting various interesting and/or creepy facts. Some specific species of each insect are also presented and discussed. The text is supplemented by numerous high-quality photos, including many close-up view that allow readers to fully appreciate these amazing creatures. 

THOUGHTS: Appropriate for both the casual reader and the researcher, these books are sure to find a home in many library collections. Students with an appreciation for the world of bugs will find much to capture their attention. Recommended.

595 Insects          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg SD

YA – Somewhere Only We Know; The Everlasting Rose; The Field Guide to the North American Teenager; Cold Day in the Sun; Wilder Girls; They Called Us Enemy; Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak; Love from A to Z

Goo, Maurene. Somewhere Only We Know. Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2019. 978-0-374-31057-8. 336 p. $17.99. Grades 9-12.

Lucky, a K-pop superstar at the top of her game, has lost her spark. Somewhere in between all the performances, rehearsals, and incredibly strict rules, Lucky herself got lost. Jack is unsure of his future. He longs to be a photographer, but parental expectations push him toward banking. To fuel his passion during a boring summer internship, Jack takes on a secret side-gig working for a sleazy gossip magazine. In an attempt to break free of her K-pop cage, Lucky dons a disguise and runs to take an illicit day off. When Jack runs into her on the street, he realizes her day off is the scoop of his lifetime. Set in Hong Kong, readers will enjoy falling in love with a new city alongside Lucky. After all, the life of a star makes everything more glamorous.

THOUGHTS: Although this story has been played out time and time again, the focus on K-pop and Hong Kong adds a cultural lens that makes it worth the read. 

Realistic Fiction          Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

Clayton, Dhonielle. The Everlasting Rose. Freeform, 2019. 978-1-484-72848-2. 342 p. $17.99. Grades 7-12. 

The Everlasting Rose is the second book in Clayton’s The Belles series. Camellia Beauregard has escaped the palace with her sisters Edel and Amber and is now hiding in the Spice Isles while the royal guards search the land for the fugitive Belles. Declared a murderer by the vile soon-to-be Queen Sophia, the disgraced favorite Camellia must risk everything she has to save not only her sisters but also the citizens of Orléans before Sophia can be crowned queen. After discovering the new queen’s horrific plans for the future of beauty and the Belles, Camellia knows the only way to stop her is to find Princess Charlotte, but first she must navigate a deep web of treason and espionage in order to do so.

THOUGHTS: In this delightful sequel to The Belles, Dhonielle Clayton once again manages to ensnare readers in the world of Orléans. The vivid imagery and unique concept make this series a must for middle and high school libraries. 

Fantasy          Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

In a world where beauty is a currency and society strives to achieve the next new look, the Belles, young girls gifted with the magic to change one’s features, are its idols, especially the Belle named the favorite of the royal family. However, being close to the current royal family has become very dangerous. The Everlasting Rose picks up where The Belles left off, with Camillia and her Belle sisters on the run from the diabolical Queen Sophie. The girls, along with Camillia’s former bodyguard, Remy, need to avoid capture and locate Princess Charlotte, the rightful queen. Camillia finds aid in a most unexpected place: from a group known as the Iron Ladies, individuals who refuse any beauty treatments and are content with their natural, gray appearance. Clayton creates a fascinating new world populated with individuals absorbed in little other than their appearance. The magic, or aracana, used by the Belles in their treatments is delightfully well thought out and logical, in its world. But aside from a suspenseful plot, the book offers the opportunity to reflect on the place of beauty in today’s society.

THOUGHTS: A well-crafted sequel that will absorb readers and make them think as well.

Science Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Philippe, Ben. The Field Guide to the North American Teenager. Balzer + Bray, 2019. 978-0-062-82411-0. $18.99. Grades 9-12.

Norris, a black French Canadian student, learned everything he needs to know about Americans from television sitcoms. When his mom takes a job in Austin, Texas, Norris bides his time in America by cataloging his peers. The unrelenting heat is brutal for Norris, but his notebook full of clichéd observations helps him pass the time. He is heading back to Canada as soon as he can. As Norris finds ways to make Texas a temporary home, he also finds a few friends. Some of the Texas boys even want Norris to teach them how to play ice hockey – a task that seems impossible at first but turns out to be fun. Maybe Texas and Americans aren’t so bad. Norris’s snark catches up to him, though, and it’s either run away and leave behind all of the friends he’s made, or face his choices and try to be a better person.

THOUGHTS: Though Norris’s descriptions of many peers are clichés, teen readers will see them for what they are: judgmental opinions. Norris has a lot to learn about being a friend, and the lighthearted banter of these teens belongs in every high school library.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Biren, Sara. Cold Day in the Sun. Amulet Books, 2019. 978-1-419-73367-3. 311 p. $17.99. Grades 9-12.

Minnesota teen Holland Delviss would rather write articles for her school paper or post about music and hockey on her anonymous blog than be the focus of the story. But as the only girl on the boys’ varsity hockey team, she’s gotten used to dealing with friendly attention along with some hecklers. She focuses on training and avoids the drama of dating a teammate, especially her arrogant captain Wes “Hot Sauce” Millard. After an announcement that Halcyon Lake will be one of Minnesota’s HockeyFest cities, in the running to have a game televised statewide, Holland is pushed even further into the (very opinionated) public eye. And Wes turns out to be a dreamboat: an only seemingly arrogant jerk who actually respects and values Holland as a teammate, a friend, and a potential girlfriend. The author’s breezy writing style allows room for Holland to deal with some serious stuff without veering into “issues novel” territory (although some conversations with Holland’s journalism teacher do feel a little contrived). In particular, one opponent rattles her with a truly deplorable comment, but her motivation to excel at the game she loves is unshakeable.

THOUGHTS: Sara Biren’s knack for depicting Holland and Wes’s intense connection with a “PG” rating makes this hockey romance a total joy to read! With just the right amount of sweetness and spice, Cold Day in the Sun is a perfect choice for anyone who enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series or Ngozi Ukazu’s delightful Check, Please! 

Realistic Fiction          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Power, Rory. Wilder Girls. Delacorte Press, 2019. 978-0-525-64558-0. 357 p. $18.99 Grades 9-12+.

Raxter School for Girls, located on a small Maine island, has been under quarantine since “the Tox” struck almost two years ago. Food, medicine, and routines are strictly regulated, and the girls cooperate with the quarantine guidelines because the Navy has promised to deliver a cure. Gun Shift girls patrol the roof day and night, while Boat Shift ventures beyond the school’s fence to meet a supply boat once a week. Meanwhile, surviving students suffer from flare-ups that result in boils, bruises, gills, and other terrifying symptoms. “Things bursting out of us, bits missing and pieces sloughing off, and then we harden and smooth over.” Hetty’s right eye was damaged in a flare-up, her eyelid fusing shut; she senses something growing underneath. The newest member of Boat Shift, Hetty becomes separated from the group on one of their outings. In the woods, she discovers a cooler with a blood sample labeled RAX009. Whose blood is it, and who is expecting it? Then Hetty’s best friend Byatt vanishes after suffering a flare-up. So this unique mystery unspools, with some genuinely unsettling scenes that will satisfy most horror fans. 

THOUGHTS: The dynamic between Hetty and her two best friends, Byatt and Reese, is at the raw beating core of this debut novel. Queer themes, plague novel elements, and female adolescence converge in a strange but beguiling narrative with a just-open-enough ending. And that cover, though!

Horror          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Takei, George. They Called Us Enemy. Top Shelf Productions, 2019. 978-1-603-09450-4. 204 p. $19.99. Grades 8+.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the military to exclude “persons” (e.g. Japanese and Japanese Americans) from designated areas, namely the entire west coast. George Takei, his parents, and his two younger siblings were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who the U.S. government relocated and “interned” during World War II. This outstanding graphic memoir interweaves an adult Takei’s memories with the child’s impressions/perspective he experienced during four years spent in two internment camps. Harmony Becker’s black and white illustrations vividly evoke the emotions and anger of U.S. citizens uprooted from their homes and forced to leave behind cherished possessions, valuable property, businesses, and community. They Called Us Enemy also depicts the lighthearted fun that children can find in any situation, as young George explores his new surroundings. George’s future as a successful actor and social justice advocate are chronicled here, too. On every page, the steadfast love of his parents, most notably his father’s unshakeable belief in a people’s democracy, shines through. 

THOUGHTS: To borrow from the “About the Creators” note (and Star Trek), George Takei’s life story goes where few stories have gone before. His first person account reveals the lessons to be learned from a dark chapter in American history, so that we can do better than to repeat it over again. George’s 2014 TED talk, “Why I Love a Country that Once Betrayed Me,” is a worthy introduction to this history and his personal ideals.

Graphic Memoir          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, no one could have understood how much this decision would change the lives of so many individuals except those whose lives were uprooted. This Order called for the relocation of thousands of individuals of Japanese ancestry, even those who were born in the United States. Among the thousands was George Takei, a young boy, and his family. For the duration of World War II, George’s family lived in armed guarded interment camps. Takei reflects on his childhood memories and his family’s experiences through a child’s innocent eye, recognizing that while his parents suffered, he did not understand their struggles until he was much older. Interwoven throughout his memoir are George’s experiences as an adult which remind him of his childhood. One moving example is when George is invited to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, but his father refuses to attend.

THOUGHTS:Takei’s account of his childhood reminds readers of the innocence and resilience of children and the commitment of adults, specifically George’s parents, to keep their lives as normal as possible despite dire circumstances. Aside from one minor language trick a teen boy plays on George, this piece of history belongs in all middle and high school collections. Pair with other popular historical fiction titles like Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and future history Internment by Samira Ahmed.

Graphic Memoir          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Alsaid, Adi. Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak. Inkyard Press, 2019. 978-1-335-01255-5. $18.99. Grades 9-12.

It’s the summer after high school, and Lu has great plans that do not include heartbreak. After her longtime boyfriend dumps her, Lu finds herself uninspired which isn’t a good thing when her NYU college scholarship depends on the love column she writes for Misonmer, an online magazine. Before Leo came into her life, Lu would eavesdrop to get inspired for her writing. Now without Leo, she once again resorts to eavesdropping which leads her to meet Cal and Iris, a couple who is in a similar position of a post-high school relationship dilemma. When Lu learns of their plan to stay together until the end of the summer, though, she becomes obsessed and wonders where she and Leo went wrong. Determined to find the answer and overcome her writer’s block, Lu becomes friends with Cal and Iris. When writing a feature column on Cal and Iris isn’t helping her writer’s block, Lu becomes entwined in distractions and puts everything else – friends, family, and writing on hold.

THOUGHTS: Alsaid highlights how easily one can be swept in love, putting many other aspects of life on hold. Teen readers will feel for Lu but may become frustrated with her inability to move on. For a seemingly intelligent girl, putting her college scholarship (and job) on the line seems very un-Lu-like. Recommended for high schools where Alsaid is popular or romance is in demand.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Ali, S.K. Love from A to Z. Salaam Reads, 2019. 978-1-534-44272-6. $18.99. Grades 9-12.

Being constantly told how “bad” Muslims are (when she’s the only Muslim in class) fuels Zayneb’s anger. Wrongfully suspended for confronting her racist teacher, Zayneb is sent on an early spring break to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar. On the plane ride and subsequent layover she meets Adam. Returning home from college with a secret multiple sclerosis diagnosis, Adam knows he finally needs to tell his family, but with the anniversary of his mother’s death, it never seems like a good time. Zayneb and Adam each have kept journals of marvels and oddities – things they encounter in life. Despite their differences, they help each other process challenging emotions and situations they encounter. Zayneb and Adam are from different parts of the world and have very different personalities, though, and they may not always understand exactly what the other is experiencing.

THOUGHTS: Teen readers will love Zayneb and need to “meet” her! Love from A to Z is a beautiful love story featuring Muslim characters front and center and is a must have for high school collections.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

MG – The Year We Fell From Space; A Boy Is Not a Bird; Just Jaime; Tangled History (Series);

King, Amy Sarig. The Year We Fell From Space. Arthur A Levine Books, 2019. 978-1-338-23636-1. 272 p. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

Liberty is a girl with a unique talent going through an incredibly hard family situation. Her love for stars and star maps, in which she creates her own constellations and meaning from the night sky, is shaken when her parents announce that they are divorcing. Liberty and her little sister, Jilly, are left with many questions and not many ways to cope at first. Their reactions, however, are both heartbreaking and relatable, insightful and hilarious throughout the experience. Liberty works to adapt to middle school, bullies, old friends, and her father’s seeming disappearance. As changes continue, readers see into her confused heart and mind and wit with brutal honesty and emotion. The talking space rock that Liberty discovers certainly adds to her confusion! Amy Sarig King (known as A.S. King to older readers) also faces the stigma of mental illness, depression, and therapy with the same honesty and deftness, including endnotes to raise awareness and seek help. The Year We Fell From Space is like a shooting star that shines brightly, creating a moment that won’t soon be forgotten.

THOUGHTS: The themes of divorce and depression are very raw and relatable in the story, but may be a lot for some younger readers. No two cases are the same, but she goes through such an emotional roller coaster that many readers will at least partially relate. Topics like dating after marriage and dealing with mental health matters are not black and white, and King weaves through all the shades of gray with empathy. This is a powerful story highly recommended for middle grade collections.

Realistic Fiction          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Liberty Johnson loves space, and she is determined that people are going to look at space a different way. She looks at the constellations and sees shapes and people, and that makes her feel special. What doesn’t make her feel special is that her father moved out and hasn’t really talked to her or her sister since. What also doesn’t make her feel special is her sister is refusing to go outside, for any reason. And her mom, who in Liberty’s mind should be miserable that her father left, is really happy. Add a talking meteor that fell from the sky, and things just aren’t going the way Liberty wants them to go.

THOUGHTS: This book dealt extremely well with mental illness. Nothing is sugar coated, and the father figure doesn’t magically get better by the end of the book. The relationships between the characters feels well thought out and is complicated, as most real life relationships are. The magical element is true to Amy Sarig King’s work, and adds some levity to the plot.

Realistic Fiction          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Academy

Ravel, Edeet. A Boy Is Not A Bird. Groundwood Books, 2019. 978-1-773-06174-0. 232 p. $16.95. Grades 4-8.

Ukraine during 1940 is an ideal place for Natt, full of food, fun, and family. Even though the Nazi Germans are starting trouble, Natt is assured that they will be clear of any conflicts. Of course, all of that slowly begins to unravel when the Soviets move in and begin Stalinist tactics of taking over the village. Natt’s world starts slowly getting crushed, but his parents seek to find the most optimistic view for every hardship. Are they only putting on an act for Natt? Can his father get out of prison before getting shipped to Siberia? On which side will Natt end up, and what makes a hero during a time of war? One thing is for sure – A Boy Is Not a Bird, and he can not fly away from this dangerous time. Ravel has created an insightful historical fiction novel with a first person account that was based on true stories from her own fifth grade teacher. The layers of this book and the questions that remain will only create anticipation for the sequel.

THOUGHTS: This less familiar part of WWII history gets full attention as Natt sees the coming war through a child’s vantage. Especially around the halfway mark when the reader will find a disturbing turn to Natt’s mindset. It would make for a great example text for Notice & Note Signposts, if they are familiar. Recommended.

Historical Fiction          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD

Libenson, Terri. Just Jaime. Balzer & Bray/Harperteen, 2019. 978-0-062-85108-6. 224 p. $22.99. Gr. 5-8.

Having a best friend makes middle school a lot less awful. But when Jaime’s best friend, Maya, starts acting weird around her, Jaime fears the worse. Maya has found a new circle of friends to hang with at the end of 7th grade, cutting Jaime out via a text message. Jaime struggles to understand what she did wrong and how Maya could have changed so much. After an emotional breakdown in French class, Jaime decides to move on and find a new group of friends, including her best guy pal, Anthony. Meanwhile, Maya struggles with the gossip and mean girl attitude her new friend Celia seems to have. Maya begins to wonder if she made a big mistake. The end of the year field day puts the “old best friends” against the new – will Maya and Jaime find their way back to each other? A must read for fans of Invisible Emmie and for all middle schoolers!

THOUGHTS: Libenson does it again! In the third of the Emmie & Friends series, Libenson will grab the hearts of all middle schoolers and parents. The use of narrative text and cartoons to tell the story of Jaime and Maya’s dissolution of a friendship is relatable, heartwarming, and all too true. A must read!

Realistic Fiction         Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Hoena, Blake. The Boston Marathon Bombing: Running for Their Lives. Capstone Press, 2019. 978-1-543-54196-0. 112 p. $24.49. $587.76 set of 24. Gr. 4–9.

Braun, Eric. Fatal Faults: The Story of the Challenger Explosion. 978-1-491-47077-0.
Burgan, Michael. Total Devastation: The Story of Hurricane Katrina. 978-1-491-48452-4.
—. The Salem Witch Trials: Mass Hysteria and Many Lives Lost. 978-1-543-54197-7.
—. Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Atomic Bombings that Shook the World. 978-1-543-57256-8.
—. The Battle of the Bulge: Nazi Germany’s Final Attack on the Western Front. 978-1-543-57259-9.
—. Breaking Barriers: The Story of Jackie Robinson. 978-1-515-77932-2.
—. Turning Point: The Story of the D-Day Landings. 978-1-515-73607-3.
Doeden, Matt. Impact: The Story of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. 978-1-491-47079-4.
Freeburg, Jessica. Fight for Survival: The Story of the Holocaust. 978-1-491-48454-8.
—. Collapse and Chaos: The Story of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti. 978-1-515-73606-6.
Gunderson, Jessica. The Wound Is Mortal: The Story of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. 978-1-491-47076-3.
Otfinoski, Steven. The Battle of Iwo Jima: Turning the Tide of War in the Pacific. 978-1-543-57258-2.
—. The Battle of Alamo: Texans Under Siege. 978-1-543-54198-4.
—. Captain Sully’s River Landing: The Hudson Hero of Flight 1549. 978-1-543-54195-3.
—. Day of Infamy: The Story of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. 978-1-491-47078-7.
—. From Fugitive to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad. 978-1-515-73604-2.
—. The Great Chicago Fire: All Is Not Lost. 978-1-515-77931-5.
—. Japanese American Internment: Prisoners in Their Own Land. 978-1-543-57257-5.
. The Selma Marches for Civil Rights: We Shall Overcome. 978-1-515-77941-4.
—. Smooth Sea and a Fighting Chance: The Story of the Sinking of Titanic. 978-1-491-48453-1.
—. Tragedy in Dallas: The Story of the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. 978-1-491-48451-7.
Rissman, Rebecca. Houston, We’ve Had a Problem: The Story of the Apollo 13 Disaster. 978-1-515-77940-7.
—. Swept Away: The Story of the 2011 Japanese Tsunami. 978-1-515-73605-9.

The Boston Marathon Bombing: Running for Their Lives is the story of the terrorist bombing of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. This book begins the night before the race with the Tsarnaev brothers when they were making their pressure cooker bombs. The story is told from different people’s points-of-view in chronological order, which contributes to the suspense. The book continues through the manhunt and capture of Dzhokhar. The book ends on a hopeful note with an epilogue that mentions heroes and the people they helped rescue, and that the 118th Boston Marathon went on as scheduled. The book addresses “Boston Strong.” How through adversity the city came together. This book includes a foreword about the history of the marathon, a table of contents, a timeline, a glossary, critical thinking questions, further reading, and a selected bibliography.

THOUGHTS: I thought I had read or heard all the details surrounding the Boston Marathon bombing, but I was surprised to have learned quite a bit from this book. It was an engaging book that I read cover to cover in one sitting. Because of how much I liked this book, I recently purchased about 10 of these titles for my school’s library. I’m confident my students will be captivated by them and can use them for research in addition to reading for pleasure. This book deserves a place in elementary and secondary libraries.

363.325 Terrorism          Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

Elem. – Gloria Takes A Stand; Bruce’s Big Storm; Be a Maker; The Golden Acorn; Lottie and Walter; The Pigeon HAS to Go to School; The Amazing Idea of You; Can You See Me; Temple Grandin and Livestock Handling; What are Clouds Made of; Celebrate Memorial Day; Just Right

Rinker, Jessica. Gloria Takes a Stand. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2019. 978-1-681-19676-3. 48 p. $17.99. Grades 1-4.

This book explains to young readers how Gloria Steinem became a well-known feminist and human rights activist. The use of action words throughout, (listened, marched, observed, wrote) both in the text and in pull-outs, is an effective way to highlight to the reader that change needs action. Gloria is described from a young age as being someone who questioned society’s definition of what being a woman meant. She thought “decisions are best made by the people affected by them.” Rinker does a great job of using Steinem’s own words to help describe her thoughts. The book includes author and illustrator notes, a timeline of important events in U.S. Women’s History, and a bibliography. The artwork is colorful and interesting, and the open layout with action words that described Steinem in bigger, bolder copy was well done.

THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this book, and I think it is an ideal way to get young readers interested in biographies. It might also inspire a young child to be like Gloria and work for equal rights for everyone.

Biography          Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD

Higgins, Ryan T. Bruce’s Big Storm. Disney Hyperion, 2019. 978-1-368-02622-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-3.

Endearingly grumpy Bruce the bear prefers to keep a low profile in his neighborhood of Soggy Hollow, but it’s hard to do that when his four geese children and three mice housemates are so darn friendly. When a nasty storm is set to hit the Hollow, Bruce’s house becomes the central spot for friendly neighbors to wait out the storm (much to Bruce’s chagrin). Things grow hairy when a little bunny is stuck outside during the big storm and Nibbs the mouse decides to take Bruce’s favorite umbrella, march outside to the rescue, and is whisked away with the bunny. Cue Bruce, everyone’s favorite neighborhood curmudgeon, who decides he must save his umbrella (and possibly the animals)…but this wind is mighty strong! The neighborhood animals must ban together to save the day in more ways than one. Ryan T. Higgins created a winning character in Bruce, forever shown with furrowed brown and sullen manner, whose inner soft side shows up at precisely the right moments. Make sure to check out the fantastic front and back endpapers for a few funny differences!

THOUGHTS: Combine it with Bruce’s other stories or read it on it’s own; either way, readers will love crotchety Bruce and his growing community of affable animal friends. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Howes, Katey. Be a Maker. Carolrhoda Books, 2019. 978-1-512-49802-9. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2.

Maker culture inspires lots of great picture books about children creating, imagining, testing, and experimenting, but Katey Howes’ story Be a Maker pushes beyond these ideas. Our little girl wakes up in a bedroom (wonderfully decorated with posters of female astronaut Mae Jemison and Rosie the Riveter, books on Hedy Lamarr and Helen Keller, and a chalk drawing of Albert Einstein on her easel), and the story questions, “Ask yourself this question in the morning when you wake: in a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?” We see our little girl make towers, become a one-girl band, build a spaceship, make a new friend, create some food art, start a lemonade stand, and help some neighbors building a new playground. As our girl and her new friend stand on playground equipment at day’s end and look around at their diverse neighbors sharing a meal and playing at the new playground in the park, the story questions, “Ask yourself this question as the sun begins to fade: in a day of making choices, are you proud of what you made?” This simple, rhyming story prompts readers to ask themselves a basic but oh-so-important question about the way we’re shaping our life through our decisions. Did we make decisions to be kind? To help others? To share our talents? To create something new and exciting? I plan to buy this book for my 4-year-old daughter and read it with her many times over.

THOUGHTS: This simple, thought-provoking story goes beyond making with our minds and hands and extends to making decisions with our hearts. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Hudson, Katy. The Golden Acorn. Capstone Editions, 2019. 978-1-684-46036-6. Unpaged. $17.95. Grades PreK-2. 

The Golden Acorn Hunt is just days away, and eight-year champ Squirrel plans to add another trophy to her impressive collection. The problem? This year’s race must be run with a team! Squirrel has a posse of friends ready to join her team, but she has little faith in their abilities, even after a crash course in Squirrel’s Treetop Boot Camp. The start of the race finds Squirrel speedily zooming ahead of her friends, only to double back with an annoyed attitude to help a friend in need. It’s not until Squirrel finds the Golden Acorn on her own and realizes that it’s much too large for one squirrel does she understand why this year’s race is a team event. In the end, Squirrel’s team doesn’t win, but they do finish the race together and Squirrel realizes that her friends are the true prize. Hudson’s story will be perfect for a preschool storytime about friendship, kindness, working together, or a lesson in being a gracious loser in games. Illustrations are chock-full of clever details and funny touches.

THOUGHTS: A simple, heart-warming friendship story paired with beautiful autumn illustrations worthy of pouring over with a little reader. Find a cozy spot outside and enjoy under fall foliage! 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Walker, Anna. Lottie & Walter. Clarion Books, 2019. 978-1-328-47038-6. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades PreK-2. 

Lottie’s swim lessons are a disaster. She’s so sure that a Lottie-eating shark is lurking in the pool that she’s too scared to even dip a toe in the water. One day, Walter arrives at the pool while Lottie sits by the water. Walter heads home with Lottie and she soon learns that he’s a delightful singer, enjoys dinners of fish fingers (her favorite!), and plays hide-and-seek with the best of them. Oh, and Walter is a walrus. Swim lessons end with a pool party, and though mom, little brother, and Walter don party hats and watch from the bench, Lottie still can’t pluck up the courage to jump in…until she hears a familiar song from the deep end. Swimming with Walter gives Lottie the courage she needs to overcome her fear. The story ends with a full-page spread of Lottie’s swim class, laughing and playing, with a happy-looking Walter smack in the middle of the group. Walker uses soft, hazy watercolor illustrations that pair nicely with a story set near water. 

THOUGHTS: A gentle springboard for discussing fears and supportive friends. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Willems, Mo. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! Hyperion Books for Children, 2019. 978-1-368-04645-9. Unpaged. $16.00. Grades PreK-2. 

Parents, students, teachers, librarians everywhere, take note…the pigeon HAS to go to school. The well-known and highly-loved pigeon paces through the pages, dramatically agonizing over every question in his mind (“What if the teacher doesn’t like pigeons?” “What’s up with those heavy backpacks?” “What will the other birds THINK of me?”). Parents of school-aged children certainly will recognize some common concerns between elementary-aged children and the pigeon, including a tiny admission from the pigeon (“I’m…scared.”). Theatrics continue when the pigeon realizes that school might actually be a great place, and the cherry on top? He gets to take a BUS to school! Fans of the pigeon books will love his newest story, complete with Willems’ signature illustrations, but anyone starting a new year school will appreciate the pigeon’s comedic expression of fears and excitement. Check out the front and back endpapers for an added surprise.

THOUGHTS: A start-of-school winner that will be enjoyed all year long. 

Picture book          Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

Wild, Charlotte Sullivan. The Amazing Idea of You. Bloomsbury, 2019. Unpaged. 978-1-681-19183-6. $17.99. Grades K-3.

This uplifting metaphorical story is about the hidden potential in each of us. Wild begins the story with an apple and explains that the seed hiding inside will blossom and grow into a tree. She gives other examples of living objects that grow and change, such as a caterpillar to a butterfly and egg to a baby bird. Then readers see an illustration of an expectant mother, accompanied by the author’s words that “someone waited…for the promise of you curled inside…” Wild then asks, “What ideas are hidden inside of you?” The story ends with a child planting an apple seed and after time passes, a beautiful orchard develops in that place. The message here is that it takes time and work for your full potential to be realized. Lundquist’s softly colored illustrations were created with gouache, pencil, and watercolor. She uses a lot of white space for most of the art, and the muted colors lend a contemplative feel to the story.

THOUGHTS: This is a great book for character units and will help build self-esteem. Wild’s book could also be used in career units to allow children to see how goals can be achieved over time and with work. It works well as a read aloud and is a worthwhile addition to any elementary collection.

Picture Book          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD

Lantz-Simmons, Mikhala, and Mohammad Rasoulipour. Can You See Me? Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2019. 978-1-524-85372-3. $17.99. Grades K-3.

A cleverly written book designed to create animals in an abstract way. The authors utilize basic shapes and designs, with a small riddle for children to figure out what animal is hidden in the picture. While some are easily identified, other creatures are slightly more difficult to identify. Try your best to solve the riddle, both with and without text, to see if you know what is hidden in the picture!

THOUGHTS: A clever book with riddles that children could solve to help identify different animals. Provides a first look at discovering realistic items in an abstract way.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD


Loh-Hagan, Virginia. Temple Grandin and Livestock Handling. Cherry Lake Publishing, 2019. 978-1-534-13234-4. $18.95. Grades 2-5.

This information text provides readers with a brief synopsis of the life of Temple Grandin and the work that she provides with livestock, as well as living with autism. After a brief introduction to who she is, readers learn that Temple Grandin grew up differently that most children. After learning that she was not dumb, Temple Grandin discovered working with animals and connecting with them. Temple Grandin helped discover and evolve humane ways to work with animals, providing a calming atmosphere for animals as they are raised for specific jobs.

THOUGHTS: A great introductory book for learning about Temple Grandin, the work she did, and living and working with autism. This could be a book used as an introduction to several different topics.

636 Agriculture & Animal Husbandry          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD


Vilardi, Debbie. What Are Clouds Made Of? Abdo Pop! 2019. 978-1-532-16214-5. $18.95. Grades K-3.

This young informational text takes readers through what clouds are actually made of. Each page, accompanied by Cody Koala, provides insight to readers on the water cycle, worded in a way for young readers. Additional QR Code images and scattered throughout the text to provide more information through technology, adding to the readers interest in what clouds are actually made of. This book is part of ABDO’s Cody Koala Science Questions series which includes 8 titles.

THOUGHTS: This simple text is detailed, but provided in a way for it to be simple for young readers to understand and follow. The images provided and nicely captured pictures of real clouds in different formats, providing an enriching experience for young readers.

551 Meteorology          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD


Ferguson, Melissa. Celebrate Memorial Day. Pebble, 2019. 978-1-977-10266-9. $19.49. Grades K-3.

An easy to read and understand book about Memorial Day, this book provides early readers with information on a holiday that they may not really understand. Additional fact pieces are provided to give students either extra information on a topic or to go into more depth on an item was discussed. This book includes photographs and illustrations of important events, providing connections to history and personal life.

THOUGHTS: A great first read for Memorial Day, this book is helpful as it can provide readers with information on something that they may not completely understand. It is done so in an age appropriate way for young readers.

394.262 Holidays          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD



Manley, Curtis. Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet. Roaring Brook Press, 2019. 978-1-250-15533-7. Unpaged. Grades 2-5. $18.99.

According to NASA.gov, an exoplanet is defined as “any planet beyond our solar system.” In this book, Manley explores the history and methodology of the discovery of exoplanets. The author explains that the idea of the existence of other planets is not new, but was espoused by philosophers and astronomers over the centuries. Since the discovery of an exoplanets in 2011, the focus now is whether these planets are inhabited like Earth. In order to be like Earth, a planet must reside in a “habitable zone” in its solar system, where conditions like temperature must be just right so that all the water does not freeze or evaporate. There is an interesting discussion of other important factors, like magnetic fields, planet size and atmosphere. The author then reviews the tools and methods that astronomers use to find exoplanets. Manley explains all technical terms and theories in language that is easy to understand. Jessica Lanan’s drawings play an important role with helping the young reader grasp the concepts, aided by the use of captions and labels. The illustrations not only show the planets and tools, but Lanan cleverly uses the illustrations to visually tell an overlying story of an African American girl who visits the planetarium with her family and shows her interacting with the concepts being discussed. For instance, on the page discussing planets that are “too hot” for life, the girl is seen reacting to the heat. At the end, there is a picture of her looking out of the window to the sky and then she receives a telescope from her parents. The back matter contains further information on detecting exoplanets and suggested resources. The endpapers have a timeline called “Discovering Our Place in the Universe.”

THOUGHTS: This is a must have for all elementary collections. Librarians will want to update their astronomy collections to include this valuable work on a relatively recent discovery. This narrative text makes for a great read aloud to complement units on the solar system. Children will enjoy reading this book on their own and perhaps like the girl in this book will find themselves dreaming of the possibilities beyond our solar system.

520 Astronomy          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD
523.24 Solar System
576.839 Biology, Life