Holm, Jennifer, Matthew Holm, and Jarrett J. Krosoczka, eds. Comics Squad: Recess! New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0-385-37004-2. 133 p. $14.00. Gr. 3-6.
This collection of short comics is edited by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm, of “Babymouse” and “Squish” fame, and “Lunch Lady” creator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Each of the eight comics has its own story and style, but the book as a whole has a distinct Holm/Krozoczka feel as it features black and white illustrations with pops of one color—in this case, orange. The characters occasionally pop up in each other’s stories, and the whole book is well done.
If your students are fans of graphic novels, make sure to buy this book. Authors include Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Dav Pilkey, Dan Santat, Rain Telgemier and Dave Roman, Ursula Vernon, Eric Wight, and Gene Luen Yang. It’s an all-star lineup for sure! This one will fly off the shelf, so you may want to consider an extra copy.
Graphic novel; 741.5 Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools
Barshaw, Ruth McNally. The Ellie McDoodle Diaries: Ellie for President ( Book 6 in the Ellie McDoodle Series). New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 978-1-61963-061-1. 170 pages. $12.99. Grades 2-5.Ellie McDougal would rather draw than speak. Her work on a fun “magazine” that she and her friends create brings her talents to the attention of the principal. The principal organizes a school newspaper and Ellie is made Editor in Chief. Their paper is a huge success until school elections are announced and the paper must interview each candidate. Friends are encouraging Ellie to run for class president since they all feel she is fair and listens well. But Ellie isn’t sure that she really wants the job. She isn’t really crazy about the idea of getting up in front of her peers! And then there is the fact that the boy that she really likes is running for president too! A sweet, funny look at life in upper elementary school. Ellie has a crazy family who loves and supports her in her art and cheers her on to do whatever she decides to do. This book will resonate with the shy artistic child who wants to stay in the background, but longs to express their feelings. It also shows how the support of good friends and family can give us the courage to try new things, even though they might seem scary at first. The doodles are reminiscent of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, but with a bit more substance and depth.
Realistic Fiction Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Funke, Cornelia. Emma and the Blue Genie. New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0-385-37540-5. $9.99. 90 Pages. Grades 2-4.
In this magical tale, Cornelia Funke, author of the famous Inkheart series, spins a story of a little girl named Emma. Emma just needs some peace and quiet away from her teasing brothers. So one night she sneaks out to sit by the ocean and stare at the stars. When a mysterious bottle washes up at her feet, Emma is whisked into an adventure like she never imagined ! Emma and her dog, Tristan, must help the blue genie retrieve is nose ring from the evil yellow genie so that they can free the city and Emma can finally get her three wishes. But to succeed, Emma will need all of her wits and courage. This is a wonderful imaginative “magic carpet ride” of a read!
Fantasy Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (series) North Mankato: ABDO, 2015. 24 p. $16.95 each.
Lynch, Brian. Leonardo. 978-1-61479-339-7.
—. Michelangelo. 978-1-61479-340-3. Gr. 4-8.
In Leonardo and Michelangelo, the readers have an opportunity to see the individual traits of the respective turtles. While Leonardo goes alone to try and rescue their father, Splinter, he relives precious memories of his family before the mutations. Leonardo fights valiantly among the numerous foot clan, but he is in need of his brothers. Michelangelo looks for a memorable New Years celebration. He does have this as he uses skills that each of his brothers possess, but he does not want to steal the diamond for the evil doers. The books Donatello and Raphael are also part of the series. Many artists work to bring the series to life including Andy Kuhn, Bill Crabtree, Shawn Lee, Ross Campbell and Jay Fotos.
741.5 Graphic Novels, Comic Strips Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School
Proimos III, James. Apocalypse Bow Wow. 978-1-61963-442-8. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 219p. $13.99. Gr 3-6.
This hilarious first in a new series is sure to thrill your fans of Baby Mouse, Fashion Kitty, and Wimpy Kid books. Apollo and Brownie are doggie housemates who realize they are getting very, very hungry, the water bowl is empty, and still their people are not home. It’s an apocalypse! With the help of a deer crashing through the window, a tick who spent a lot of time between the pages of the ancient text The Art of War, a police dog and others, Apollo and Brownie face innumerable odds to get food and fight their way through the catastrophe. Most pages contain a single panel making this a quick, fun and breezy read. Lots of laughts.
Graphic Novel/Fiction/Humor Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Klimo, Kate. Dog Diaries: Sweetie (Dog Diaries series). 978-0385-39240-2. New York: Random House, 2015. Gr 1-4.
Klimo is back with another tale told from the doggie’s mouth, this from one of George Washington’s beloved fox hounds, Sweetie. Reminiscent of Black Beauty, each Dog Diaries adventure is told through the voice of the dog. Readers learn a slice of history not just through the historical fiction in the front of the book, but also through the wonderfully informative, illustrated Appendix at the back of each. In this installment we learn that Washington was not only the father of our country but considered by the AKC to be the father of the American Fox Hound breed as well. We learn about the history of the breed, its status today, and suitability as a pet. A beautiful black and white reproduction of William Russell Birch’s painting of fox hunting on Mt. Vernon ends the book. I love the Dog and Horse Diary series and have turned on a number of my early grade readers to both series. Highly recommended.
Historical Fiction Kathie Jackson, Plymouth Meeting Friends School
Mullarkey, Lisa and John. Shakespeare Saves the Globe: The Art of Time Travel Series. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Publishing, 2015. 978-1-62402-090-2. 128 pages. $18.95. Grades 3-6.
Time travel for young readers is nothing new, and this series (The Art of Time Travel) follows in the vein of Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio. For example, in this tale, two kids named Mason and Aubrey are hanging out at a theater when they are suddenly whisked away to 1598 London and must find a way to save the Globe and the work of William Shakespeare. They learn about the culture, the dangers of that time, and the joy of the theater. When the day is saved, off they go to the present with lessons in hand. What may help this series stand out are the layers of issues and themes that they experience while on their adventure. There are discussions of gender equality, public sanitation and safety, and class differences that are all appropriately discussed. Also, the other titles in the series cover Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley, Ella Fitzgerald, and Claude Monet – all of which are more advanced topics than M.T.H. and could be an excellent bridge for middle readers into other worlds and literature.
Fiction; Historical Dustin Brackbill State College Area School District
Stratford, Jordan. The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency (Book 1, The Case of the Missing Moonstone). New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2015. 978-0385754408. 240p. $14. Gr. 3-7.
In a fictional tale of an alternate past, Mary (Godwin) Shelly (author of Frankenstein) and Ada (Byron) Lovelace (first computer programmer) collide during their tween years. Despite the creative license used in finagling this hypothetical friendship, the characters perfectly balance one another. One is extremely observant, noticing details overlooked by others and the other is a math genius. Together they create a Hardy Boys meet Sherlock Holmes style detective agency.
Excellent for promoting strong female characters as well as real life role models, this book is a fun mix of history, mystery and science for fans of series such as Mysterious benedict Society, Spiderwick Chronicles and Series of Unfortunate Events!
Science/Historical Fiction Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary
Potter, David. The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington. New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-385-39056-9. 344p. $14. Gr.3-7.
Debut author David Potter weaves a hysterical, historical, mystery adventure of a trio of friends (Mel, Bev and Brandon) who remain at boarding school for the holidays where they attend a Christmas Day Revolutionary reenactment with one of their teachers. Things get strange when they find themselves facing what appears to be the dead body of real George Washington just BEFORE he is supposed to make his famous crossing of the Delaware! Mel, the history buff of the group discovers that a rogue phone app known as iTime, is responsible for the calamity and the group teams up with a couple colonial lads to try to correct the damage before it devastates history!
Science/Historical Fiction Robin Bartley, Davis Elementary
Jacobson, Jennifer Richard. Paper Things. 2015. 9780763663230. 384p. $16.99. Gr. 4-6.
Greg is truly trying to take care of himself and his sister Ari. Both of their parents are deceased and Greg doesn’t want to break a promise to his mother of not keeping he and his sister together, even if that means being homeless. Arianna is the star of this realistic fiction novel that truly hits home. Homelessness is more of a reality that we truly know. At the age of 11, Ari is forced to be brave beyond her years. She is forced to bounce from house to house as her brother tries to get a job and find suitable housing for them to live. During their time of homelessness, not only do they bounce from house to house of Greg’s friends, but they also spend time in a shelter, storage unit, and a car. During all of this, Ari begins to see her grades slip, her BFF pull away, and her dreams of attending Carter, the same school her father, mother, brother, and guardian attended. Through a little faith and paper airplanes, Ari discovers that your living situation doesn’t define you and that dreams can come true and that true friends may not be who we expect them to be. This would be a great read-aloud for grades 5-7!
Realistic Fiction/Homeless Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial
Lord, Cynthia. A Handful of Stars. 978545700276. New York: Scholastic, 2015. 192p. $16.99. Gr. 3-6.
This delightful story of 2 young girls, Tiger’Lily’ and Salma, tells how friendship, courage, imagination, and love can be found in places that you wouldn’t necessary expect it. Lily lives with her grandparents in Maine and is diligently trying to raise money to pay for eye surgery her dog Lucky needs. Lily makes a new friend, Salma, who happens to be one of the migrant workers that comes to Maine to harvest the blueberries. Lily and Salma quickly discover that they both have a love for art and animals and are willing to try anything to raise the money for Lucky’s surgery. This story will touch your heart in so many ways!
Realistic Fiction Krista Goodzinski/Mars Centennial