Elem./MG – Northwind

Paulsen, Gary. Northwind. Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2022. 246 p. 978-0-374-31420-0. Grades 4-6. $17.99.

In his final book, Paulsen, the master craftsman of adventure fiction, has created another engaging survival story. Set along an unnamed northern coastline, this novel is reminiscent of Hatchet, but set hundreds of years earlier. Leif is a twelve year old orphan boy pressed into service as a mate on a seal hunting ship. Before the ship heads further north to find more seals, Leif and five others are left behind at a fish camp to catch and smoke salmon for the return voyage. Instead of their own ship, a vessel full of men dying from cholera appears and contaminates the camp, leaving Leif as the sole survivor of the deadly illness. Remembering the words of his deceased mentor, Old Carl, the boy heads north in a canoe and his first task is to find a burial site for Little Carl, another child from the ship. After nearly being ambushed by a bear, Leif quickly learns that he needs to develop skills in order to survive. After honing his abilities catching fish, making fires, and cooking, he begins to carve a storyboard that tells the story of his many adventures, which draws him closer to the mother he never knew. Leif observes a pod of orcas hunting for salmon, which leads to a frenzied battle between the ravens and eagles for leftovers. He is amazed by the beauty of the glaciers and the whale feeding dance in the bay. The boy nearly drowns in a whirlpool, but later is able to overcome strong waves by observing some dolphins. Soon Leif realizes that he is no longer the orphan boy that he was. His world, once confined to the bowels of a ship, has enlarged and he feels joy about exploring it more before returning to the world of man. In the author’s note, Paulsen explains that the novel’s coastline is based on his own experiences sailing up the California coast as well as in the fjords of Norway.

THOUGHTS: The detailed descriptions of the setting and Leif’s actions put readers into an immersive experience of the sights and sounds of a whales’ feeding frenzy, a menacing whirlpool, calving glaciers, friendly dolphins, and more. This page turner will appeal to fans of Gary Paulsen and to any reader who enjoys a book with a lot of action. This is an essential purchase for all elementary and middle school libraries.

Adventure Fiction          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member

MG – Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy)

Kay, Edward. Germy Science: The Sick Truth about Getting Sick (and Staying Healthy). Kids Can Press, 2021. 978-1-525-30412-5. 48 p. $18.99. Grades 4-8.

This entertaining, comprehensive guide to germs presents readers with a wealth of well-researched information. Topics include the history of germs, the different types of germs, important discoveries about germs, how the immune system works, how to stay healthy, and more. There is information about plagues and pandemics, including a brief section on the COVID-19 pandemic. There is even information about the use of germ warfare and the future of germs. Sections of text are split up by goofy, cartoon-like illustrations and informational sidebars. A glossary, index, and additional resources are included in the end matter. A truly engaging and enlightening book, this would be an excellent addition to middle school science collections.

THOUGHTS: I found this book very timely and incredibly fascinating. For instance, did you know that some therapists cure their patients of mysophobia (irrational fear of germs) by taking them on the subway and making them lick the handrails? Gross! I think middle school students would find this work absolutely captivating.

579.3 Bacteria          Julie Ritter, PSLA Member

YA -Ravage the Dark

Sim, Tara. Ravage the Dark. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2021. 978-0-759-55533-4. $18.99. 416 p. Grades 9-12.

Amaya has had a hard life, and seven years of it was spent imprisoned on a ship. After paying her debt and earning her freedom, Amaya posed as a countess to bring down the men who take children away from their families as debt payment, but when she was betrayed by the man she thought was a friend, she swore she would have her vengeance. While posing as a countess, Amaya met Cayo Mercado, and although they have their differences, the two must work together to discover the origin of a mysterious plague ailing Cayo’s sister and it’s connection to the counterfeit coins circulating Moray and the surrounding nations. Together they uncover secrets, fight corruption, and discover that amid the chaos, they may also have feelings for each other. 

THOUGHTS:  The first book in the duology, Scavenge the Stars, was loosely based upon the plot of The Count of Monte Cristo, and this sequel has just as many twists and turns that will keep readers intrigued until the very end! I’d recommend this book to readers who enjoy action, adventure, and plot twists.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Elem. – Outbreak (Series NF)

Outbreak! Abdo Zoom, 2021. $20.00 ea. $120.00 set of 6. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

Aids Crisis. 978-1-098-22325-0.
Black Death. 978-1-098-22326-7.
Covid-19 Pandemic.
978-1-098-22327-4.
Ebola Outbreak. 978-1-098-22328-1.
Spanish Flu. 978-1-098-22329-8.
Typhoid Epidemic. 978-1-098-22330-4.

Covid – 19 Pandemic is a nonfiction book about the Covid 19 pandemic and features information about the beginning of the virus as well as some of the more recent information. There is nothing found within this nonfiction book about the vaccines; however, it does mention that the scientists are continuing to work on something for Covid-19. There is a glossary found in the back of the book, as well as an index. There is a QR code found in the back of the book that can be scanned to find more information about Covid-19. There are links from this QR code that go to the CDC Covid-19 website, the World Covid Case meter, and the WHO COVID timeline.

THOUGHTS: Overall, this is a great introduction to Covid-19, and is a great book to start learning about Covid-19. As the information changed, the book might become outdated quickly however, it is a good book to start with.

614.49 Diseases          Mary Hyson, Lehigh Valley Regional Charter Academy