Elem. – Outdoor Adventure Guides (Series NF)

Outdoor Adventure Guides. Capstone Press, 2020. $24.04 ea. $96.16 set of 4. 48 p. Grades 3-6.

Bean, Raymond. Backpacking Hacks: Camping Tips for Outdoor Adventures. 978-1-543-59031-9.
Hoena, B.A. Campfire Cooking: Wild Eats for Outdoor Adventures. 978-1-543-59033-3.
Hoena, B.A. Wilderness Survival: Basic Safety for Outdoor Adventures. 978-1-543-59029-6.
Bean, Raymond. Wildlife Watching: Spotting Animals on Outdoor Adventures. 978-1-543-59035-7.

Part of the Outdoor Adventure Guides series, Backpacking Hacks is a valuable resource for both the novice and experienced hiker. Chapter titles include “Preparation and Planning;” “Food, Water, and Shelter;” and “Critters and Fire.” There are thoughtful tips for staying warm, staying cool, and staying dry. The book also includes information on how to pack food and what to pack, how to make your tent more comfortable, and hygiene when you are away from a bathroom. Readers who are using this guide to plan a trip will appreciate the websites listed in the back and the “Hack Your Pack” section that will make all hikers well prepared.

THOUGHTS: This is a thorough guide for planning a backpacking trip. There is so much great information packed into the scant 48 pages. Appropriate for all school libraries, this book should have broad appeal.

796.54 Camping          Melissa Johnston, North Allegheny SD

YA – The Princess Will Save You

Henning, Sarah. The Princess Will Save You. Tor Teen, 2020. 978-1-250-23742-2. $19.99. 352 p. Grades 9-12.

The Princess Will Save You is loosely based upon The Princess Bride, but puts a twist on the classic tale: What if Buttercup saved Westley? Princess Aramande lives in the kingdom of Ardenia. She’s the only child of King Sendoa, and when he suddenly dies, Aramande is told she cannot rule unless she marries. Although she’s suspicious of his death, and doesn’t believe it to be an accident, princes and suitors of neighboring kingdoms have already arrived hoping to win her hand. The last thing she wants to do at sixteen is marry a stranger and give up control of the kingdom, but it doesn’t seem as if she’ll have much of a choice. When Luca, the stableboy and her true love, is kidnapped to be used as ransom against her, she immediately goes after him. Although she hasn’t spent much time outside of her kingdom, she has been trained as a warrior, and finally has a chance to put her skills to the test. Aramande encounters hardships along the way, and when Prince Renard, the man who intends to marry her, finds out she is missing, he sets after her to reclaim his runaway prize. Meanwhile, Luca, who is being held captive by pirates, has no doubt in his mind that his princess will save him.

THOUGHTS: Like The Princess Bride, The Princess Will Save You is full of action and adventure, and yes, it is a kissing book! The plot has similarities to The Princess Bride, but it’s in no way an exact retelling, just a loose adaptation. This book has a number of strong, female characters, and I loved the surprise plot twists packed into both the ending and epilogue!

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Elem. – Fox & Rabbit: Make Believe

Ferry, Beth. Fox & Rabbit: Make Believe. Amulet Books. 2020. 978-1-4197-4687-1. $12.99. Grades K-2.

The second adventure of Fox and Rabbit! Continuing where they left off, Fox and Rabbit make a new friend, Owl! Together, they use their imagination and make believe an amazing adventure! They explore jungles, save their friend Fred, and even get stuck in a giant muddy swamp! They  enter a gumball bubble blowing contest, and even eat some delicious ice cream! Is there anything these two friends can’t do or overcome?

THOUGHTS: This book does carry over from the first, but it is written in a way where you can start this book independently from the first. The friendships made, the topics and fears they face, and even the silliness of their adventures are so sweet, making this a delightful read!

Graphic Novel         Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

MG – City of Secrets

Ying, Victoria. City of Secrets. Viking, 2020. 978-0-593-11448-3. 252 p. $22.99. Grades 5-8.

In the city of Oskar there is a switchboard that connects more than just phone calls. Ever Barnes, an orphan, hides in the switchboard building and protects a secret that not even he knows. When the owner of the switchboard brings his daughter Hannah to see how it works, she discovers Ever and is instantly intrigued. When a secret society threatens to kill Ever and take the secret for themselves, Hannah, Ever and a switchboard worker must go to great lengths to protect the secret and the city.

THOUGHTS: This graphic novel delivers a beautiful storyline and will captivate readers who love adventure and spy stories! Both of the children in the story play a vital role, and it is a breath of fresh air to see a girl protagonist. This graphic novel does not disappoint!

Graphic Novel          Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

YA – The Queen’s Assassin

De la Cruz, Melissa. The Queen’s Assassin. Penguin Random House, 2020. 978-0-525-51591-3. $18.99. 384p. Grades 9-12.

In the land of Renovia, Shadow of the Honey Glade longs to be an official member of the Guild in which she was raised and become an apprentice to Caledon Holt, the Queen’s Assassin like his father before him. When their paths inadvertently cross and he saves her life, she takes advantage of an opportunity to return the favor. When Cal is sent to Deersia prison to protect his identity as an assassin and await his next assignment from the queen, Shadow helps him escape and convinces him that she was sent to break him out and accompany him on his mission to infiltrate the country of Montrice to discover any plots against Renovia. Shadow is actually disobeying her aunts and mother, members of the Guild, to avoid becoming a lady of the queen’s court, but Cal believes her story, especially since her magic makes her a valuable partner as they travel to Montrice. Posing as brother and sister, Cal and Shadow are quickly swept up into Montrice society, making friends with aristocrats and the king, but as they attend hunts and balls for the sake of their mission, they can’t deny their growing attraction to each other. However, Cal’s life won’t be his own unless he can locate the missing Deian scrolls for the queen, and Shadow’s secrets are preventing her from living the life of an assassin. Will their love be enough without their freedom to choose the lives they want?

THOUGHTS: The Queen’s Assassin is perfect for anyone that enjoys fantasy and romance, and I loved this book for that very reason. The story is told from both Shadow’s and Caledon’s perspectives, and I always enjoy books that have more than one POV. Both main characters are essentially trapped in a life they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves, and that’s one of the reasons they are drawn to each other as they work together throughout the novel. The novel is split into three parts, including a prologue that contains some world building information and an epilogue that sets the scene for book two. This would be a great recommendation for readers who enjoy Throne of Glass and Serpent & Dove.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Elem. – The One and Only Bob

Applegate, Katherine. The One and Only Bob. Harper Collins, 2020. 978-0-062-99131-7. $18.99. 352 p. Grades 3-6.

Taking center stage to tell his story, Bob’s voice is honest, “I’m no saint, okay?” and readers will delight in his humorous antics, “If we could talk to people, they’d get an earful.” When Bob wakes to a familiar bark, something in his memory is jogged. But he shrugs it off and goes about his day, looking forward to a visit with Ivan and Ruby. The weather forecast showed another hurricane is on the way, though, so this day won’t be like all of the others. When Bob is separated from his friends, he reverts back to his puppy survival instincts and experiences an adventure of his own. Fans of Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan will delight in this new installment that updates readers on much beloved characters Bob, Ivan, Ruby, and Julia.

THOUGHTS: A must have for elementary libraries, copies of this title will be in high demand. 

Adventure          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

YA – The Lost Book of the White

Clare, Cassandra, and Wesley Chu. The Lost Book of the White. Simon & Schuster, 2020. 978-1-481-49512-7. $24.99. 365 p. Grades 9-12.

The Dark War has ended, and Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane are trying to live a normal life with their adopted son, Max, in New York City, but when you’re a shadowhunter and warlock, attempting to raise a warlock child, life is never really normal. When old and new enemies show up at their apartment to steal The Book of the White and stab Magnus with a magical weapon, they must go to Shanghai to retrieve the book, find a cure to Magnus’s wound, and attempt to save a dear friend. However, they won’t be traveling alone. Jace Herondale, Clary Fairchild, Isabelle Lightwood, and Simon Lovelace accompany the couple to Shanghai where they meet Tian of the Shanghai institute and reconnect with Jem Carstairs. The group faces many challenges on their quest and eventually end up in the demon realm of Diyu. Alec and Magnus must trust each other, and the rest of their friends, if they plan to make it out alive, and all of the characters must grapple with tough choices and decide how much they’re willing to sacrifice to save the ones they love.

THOUGHTS:  The Lost Book of the White is the second book in The Eldest Curses, and while the first book focused mainly on Alec and Magnus’s relationship with each other, this book focuses on their new responsibilities as parents and the relationships they have with their friends and family. As a couple, Magnus and Alec have faced many hardships, and although this is a fantasy novel, their struggle for acceptance among their peers is a topic that many readers will also relate to. One of my favorite things about Clare is the diversity among her characters, and the way she strives to tell all of their stories with the help of fellow authors, like Chu. Fans of Clare’s The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments will be delighted to read more about these beloved characters and what becomes of their lives after the events of The Dark War.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

YA – Cinderella is Dead

Bayron, Kalynn. Cinderella is Dead. Bloomsbury, 2020. 978-1-547-60387-9. $16.99. 400 p. Grades 9-12.

Once upon a time, a fairy godmother gave Cinderella the opportunity to attend the royal ball, dressed in a beautiful gown with glass slippers, where she met Prince Charming. They fell in love, and she moved into the castle, escaping her evil step sisters and wicked stepmother. 200 years later, the kingdom honors Cinderella’s story by hosting an annual ball. Every girl in the kingdom is required to attend, dressed in their finest attire, where they hope to be noticed and chosen as a wife. If they are not chosen, they become outcasts. If they are chosen, they belong to their new husbands, losing what little independence they had with their families. Sixteen year old Sophia is preparing to attend her first ball, and while her parents do their best to make sure she’s noticed by a man, she’d rather run away and marry her best friend, Erin. On the night of the ball, things go horribly wrong for Sophia. Desperate for an escape, she flees and meets Constance, the last living descendant of Cinderella’s family. With Constance, Sophia feels more like herself than she ever has, and quickly discovers there is more to Cinderella’s story than the fairy tale she’s memorized. Together with Constance, Sophia decides it’s time to fight back, and they set out to destroy the patriarchy once and for all.

THOUGHTS:  Cinderella is Dead puts a new and unique twist on the classic Cinderella story. I’m a big fan of fairy tales and fractured fairy tales, and I really enjoyed reading this book. Parts of the book felt like it went really fast, but the story did wrap up nicely at the end, and I loved the many plot twists and the mystery surrounding Cinderella’s history (herstory, in this case!). This book is full of strong female characters who remind readers that it’s okay to take control of their life: Do not be silent. Raise your voice. Be a light in the dark.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Elem. – Pony Girls (Set 2) Series Fiction

Mullarkey, Lisa. Pony Girls (Set 2). Abdo Publishing, 2020. 978-1-532-13646-7. $20.95 ea. $83.80 set of 4. Grades 2-5.

Charlie. 978-1-532-13646-7.
Gracie. 978-1-532 13647-4.
Paisley. 978-1-532-13648-1.
Zoey. 978-1-532-13649-8.

Charlie loves being a camper at Storm Cliff Stables, but some things just make her belly swishy swashy. She wants to be able to go on a full trail ride and jump the vaults, but she just can’t seem to do it without her belly causing troubles and her heart going thump, thump, thump. Thankfully her friends, Aunt Jane, her mom, and Dr. Bell have helped her with different strategies to keep her nerves away. She will become a full Warrior and be able to achieve her goals, if she keeps visualizing them and doing her very best!

THOUGHTS: The ability in this book to discuss anxiety issues and panic attacks is absolutely phenomenal. The coping strategies listed in here are great strategies that readers can use to help keep nerves at bay and help reduce anxiety. A great choice for a young reader who is interested in horses or animals and may be dealing with their own fears and anxieties.

Realistic Fiction         Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

MG – Beast: Face-to-Face with the Florida Bigfoot

Key, Watt. Beast: Face-to-Face with the Florida Bigfoot. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2020. 215 p. $16.99 978-0-374-31369-2 Grades 5-8. 

Adam survives the car crash that apparently killed his parents–at least, they have disappeared. When questioned by police, he speaks bewilderedly but honestly of what he saw in the wooded road near the Suwanee River: not a person or a bear, but something bigger than a bear, covered in hair, with a human face and huge black eyes. When the local paper runs a story about the accident including a “Sasquatch-like creature,” Adam regrets saying anything. The questions and the disbelief become overwhelming, especially from his Uncle John, who takes him in while the search for his parents continues. Adam can’t forget the creature, and due to disrupted sleep and nightmares, he begins searching online for information. He learns of a local Sasquatch appearance nearly 30 years ago, and sets out to question the man who reported it. He finds the near-hermit “Stanley” who reluctantly, then completely, tells Adam all he knows about the creatures, with a strong warning that the search for answers destroys your life. Adam decides he needs answers, and sets off on his own with some basic supplies.  What follows is a hard-core survival story wherein Adam becomes so attuned to the forest and animals that he lives as one of them, soon close to starving. Then he sees one of the creatures, then more. The scenes with the creatures shift from past tense to present tense, adding to the sense of unreality. Adam has found what he came for, but can he survive, can he find his parents, and can he get proof of the creatures’ existence?

THOUGHTS: With a likeable narrator, reasonable length (215 pages), and an attractive cover (see the creature in the trees?), Key has written a suspenseful survival story that will attract middle school readers curious about Bigfoot. Key includes helpful explanatory information about Sasquatch sightings.

Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD