YA – Cinder & Glass

De La Cruz, Melissa. Cinder & Glass. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2022. 978-0-593-32665-7. $19.99. 336. Grades 7-12.

Cenderillon is a young girl who loves her father very much. After the death of her mother, they only had each other until her father remarried. After the marriage, Cinderillion moves with her new family to Versailles, on the grounds of the palace, since her father is one of the King’s favorite advisors. Her stepmother and stepsisters are not particularly fond of her, but after her father dies unexpectedly, they become especially cruel and begin to call her Cinder. She becomes a servant in her own home and becomes isolated from one of her only friends, a boy in the palace named Auguste. When Cinder miraculously makes it to the ball in honor of Prince Louis, she catches his attention and finds herself in a competition to win the Prince’s hand. Cinder must make some tough decisions that will determine the path of her future: Does she marry the Prince to escape her cruel family, or will she find love elsewhere?

THOUGHTS: Cinder & Glass is “Ever After” meets The Selection in this new twist on the Cinderella fairy tale. I would suggest recommending this one to students looking for something similar to Kiera Cass’s Selection series although this is a stand alone novel.

Historical Fiction           Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Elem. – This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth

Rubin, Sean. This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth. Henry Holt and Company, 2021. 978-1-250-78850-4 p. 48. $18.99. Grades K-4. 

This is a story about a tree, a survivor tree, to be accurate. But, it is also a story about the resilience of our nation, a tribute to first responders, and the restorative power of humanity. This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth by Sean Rubin is profoundly moving and packs an emotional punch. A Callery pear tree was planted in the 1970’s in New York City between the newly constructed Twin Towers known as the World Trade Center. Over the years, the tree provided shade for tourists, employees of the World Trade Center, and a home for birds. It bloomed beautifully every Spring and stood tall between the two towers for many years. On September 11, 2001, something horrific occurred in New York City. Our Nation was mourning, and the tree’s home was destroyed and buried under rubble. The days that followed were difficult to maneuver, yet a shocking discovery was made after the tragedy–The pear tree had survived and quickly became known as the “Survivor Tree.” The tree was moved to the Bronx to recover, so the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation could nurse it back to health. Finally, almost ten years after the tragedy, the tree returned to its home and was planted in the 9/11 memorial. This Very Tree is told in simple words and illustrated with beautiful pictures that reveal more and more as the reader turns the pages. It shares a story of hope and healing that occurred after an immense tragedy that we experienced as a country. This book is a powerful introduction to this poignant event in our nation’s history. 

THOUGHTS: It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since New York City saw the World Trade Center fall to the ground. Since then, we have seen the literary world write to make sense of that horrific day and the days after that. This particular story, This Very Tree, resonated with me in such a profoundly moving way, and it shares a true story that may not be known to most Americans. Even the dedication will bring tears to the reader’s eyes as well as the hauntingly beautiful words written by author E.B. White in 1949 entitled: Here is New York that is at the beginning of the picture book. As much as this book is indeed emotional and heavy, it can still shine a light on hope and resilience. There is an informational section in the author’s note that explains the events of 9/11 in a sensitive and age-appropriate way. 

Picture Book          Marie Mengel, Reading SD

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

YA – Chain of Iron

Clare, Cassandra. Chain of Iron. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. 978-1-481-43190-3. $24.99. 688 p. Grades 9-12.

Chain of Iron, book two in The Last Hours series, continues the story of James Herondale and Cordelia Carstairs who find themselves engaged to one another to avoid ruining Cordelia’s reputation. However, James is still in love with the elusive Grace Blackthorn, much to Cordelia’s dismay. Meanwhile, James and his friends, The Merry Thieves, are trying to discover who is responsible for murdering Shadowhunters during the night while Lucie Herondale plans to raise Jesse Blackthorn from the dead, and Cordelia wonders why she can no longer hold her beloved sword, Cortana, without getting burned. Together these friends uncover dark secrets while they attempt to protect their fellow Shadowhunters from harm.

THOUGHTS: Cassandra Clare is a unique, fantasy author. She has never “left” the world of Shadowhunters that she first created with The Mortal Instruments, but instead continues the story both before and after the events of the original series. In my opinion, each series gets better and better and should be included in every young adult library collection. If you can get a student hooked on one series, they’ll want to read them all!

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

YA – These Violent Delights

Gong, Chloe. These Violent Delights. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2020. 978-1-534-45769-0. $19.99. 464 p. Grades 9-12.

“These violent delights have violent ends.” It’s 1926, and the city of Shanghai is ruled by two gangs: The White Flowers and The Scarlet Gang. Juliette Cai has just returned to the city after spending four years in America, and she’s ready to forget her past and take on the role of heir to the Scarlets. When she is approached by Roma Montagov, the White Flower heir, he insists they work together to stop a madness plaguing their city and taking the lives of members of both gangs. She reluctantly agrees, although she was betrayed by Roma in the past. Together, as they prepare to hunt down a monster, they can’t ignore the passion that still exists between them, but if their alliance is discovered by either gang, the madness will be the least of their worries, and the blood feud between the two could turn deadly.

THOUGHTS: This novel brings some exciting new aspects to William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet: 1920s flappers, the setting of Shanghai, monsters, and madness! The Scarlet Gang members are Chinese, The White Flowers are Russian, but the French and English are powerful presences in Shanghai as well, and this brings some diversity to the characters. You’ll be rooting for Roma and Juliette as they discover the secret behind the madness, and against all odds, find their way back to each other. This is perfect for readers who like action and historical fiction, as well as a bit of romance, and the ending will have them impatiently waiting for book two!

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Juliette Cai seems to have it all as the eighteen-year-old heir to Shanghai’s revered Scarlet Gang. Juliette’s only problem seems to be her love/hate relationship with Roma Montagov, the heir of the rival gang the White Flowers. The Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers’ criminal networks operate above the law and are continually fighting, often killing each other on the spot when they accidentally cross into the other’s territory. However, a mysterious plague descends upon Shanghai, causing people from both sides to become mad and claw out their own throats. People begin whispering of a monster with glittering eyes, often seen in the water and controlling lice-like insects that burrow into people’s brains. In this retelling of Romeo and Juliet, both Juliette and Roma must put their feelings aside and work together to find the origin of this madness and stop it before Shanghai is destroyed.

THOUGHTS: With her beautiful descriptive language, author Chole Gong puts a riveting twist on a classic story in her debut novel, which promises to delight fans of the fantasy genre. Fans of fantasy sequels and trilogies will also appreciate that this story will continue in a yet-to-be-published sequel.

Fantasy          Danielle Corrao, Manheim Central SD

YA – The Court of Miracles

Grant, Kester. The Court of Miracles. Random House Children’s Books, 2020. 978-1-524-77285-7. $18.99. 399 p. Grades 9-12.

In an alternate 1829 Paris, one in which the French Revolution has failed, Nina Thenardier thrives as the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild, one of the nine criminal guilds of The Miracle Court. Her allegiance lies with her guild lord, Tomasis Vano, whom she refers to as her father, a custom among the children of the Miracle Court. Once, Nina lived with her older sister, but she was sold to the Guild of Flesh, and when Nina could not save her, she vowed to someday have her revenge. Years later, when Lord Kaplan of the Flesh Guild, the Tiger, decides he must have Cosette, a young girl who has become like a younger sister to Nina, she must do everything in her power to stop him, not only to save Cosette, but to avenge her sister and any other girl unlucky enough to be sold into his guild. Nina and Ettie look for protection from the Guild of Assassins, the Guild of Beggars, wind up in the palace of Louis XVII, and are caught up within a group of revolutionaries, still intent on overthrowing the monarchy. Loosely based upon Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Nina must find a way to save Ettie and avenge her sister without starting a war within the guilds and unintentionally throwing the city back into turmoil.

THOUGHTS:  I thought this was such a unique story, especially since the author chose to draw inspiration from two classic novels while creating an alternate, historical world within Paris, France. Readers may want to pick up The Jungle Book or Les Mis after reading The Court of Miracles, and I also found myself doing some research on the French Revolution throughout my reading. The plot is complex and full of many characters, settings, and time jumps, and I’d recommend this to any reader who enjoys action, adventure, and historical fiction.

Fantasy          Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

YA – Kingdom of the Wicked

Maniscalco, Kerri. Kingdom of the Wicked. Little, Brown and Company, 2020. 978-0-316-42846-0. $18.99. 448 p. Grades 9-12.

Emilia and Vittoria, twin sisters, are also witches known as streghe. They come from a family of witches who must hide from both humans and The Malvagi, or The Wicked: Princes of Hell who would stop at nothing to capture their souls for themselves. Emilia and Vittoria have grown up hearing stories about the seven Princes of Hell from their grandmother, Nonna, and for protection, each girl wears a cornicello, a horned shaped amulet. According to Nonna, they must never take them off and never put them together because The Malvagi are always watching, and always waiting. When Emilia finds Vittoria murdered, her Nonna’s stories don’t seem so unbelievable anymore, and she finds herself summoning a demon to discover what happened to her sister. When she inadvertently summons Wrath, one of the seven Princes of Hell, she reluctantly accepts his offer to help her find the murderer of her sister and other witches, but from Nonna’s stories, she knows she cannot really trust him or the other princes she meets in her city. However, Wrath is unlike his brothers, and against her better judgement, she starts to rely on their alliance and cannot deny the attraction growing between them. In order to avenge her sister and protect her family, Emilia may just have to make a deal with the devil.

THOUGHTS: Kingdom of the Wicked is a refreshing, new fantasy series that takes place in the 19th century on the Italian island of Sicily. Emilia’s family owns a restaurant called Sea and Vine, and trust me, you’ll be craving some homemade Italian food after finishing this one. Although the time period wasn’t obvious to me when starting the novel, it became more apparent as I continued to read, but to be honest, I had to do a Google search to completely understand the setting of this book. Along with witchcraft, this book introduces the Seven Princes of Hell, referred to as The Wicked, which are basically the embodiments of the seven deadly sins, and they certainly add to the uniqueness and eeriness of this new, historical fantasy.

Fantasy           Emily Hoffman, Conestoga Valley SD

Picture Books – How Kate Warne…; For the Right to Learn; Two Friends…

Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth. How Kate Warne Saved President Lincoln. Chicago: Albert Whitman and Company, 2016. 978-0-8075-4117-3. 32pp. $16.99. Gr. 2-4.

This historical picture book highlights the career of Kate Warne, America’s first female detective. In 1856, Warne arrived in detective Allan Pinkerton’s office looking for a job. Although Pinkerton had never before considered hiring a woman, Warne convinced him that a female would be able to obtain information in ways men couldn’t. She spent her career attending society parties disguised as a wealthy socialite or sometimes as a fortune teller. Warne earned the trust of both men and women and then used the information she gained to help crack some of the nation’s biggest cases. Her most important assignment involved exposing a plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln on the way to his inauguration. Disguised as a wealthy southern woman, Warne infiltrated a group called the Golden Circle and verified the details of the plot against Lincoln. Her information was used to develop a plan that allowed a disguised Lincoln to secretly switch trains under the cover of darkness and arrive in Washington DC unharmed.  THOUGHTS: This title provides a fascinating look at how one woman shattered gender stereotypes and bravely left her mark on a formerly male-dominated profession. The story is told with enough suspense and intrigue to hold readers’ attention, and it will be a welcome addition to women’s history month celebrations and to Civil War units.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

 

 

Langston-George, Rebecca. For the Right to Learn. North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2016.     978-1-4914-6071-9. 40 pp. $16.99. Gr. 3-6.

In a small village in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai attended school.  Her father was a teacher and felt that all children, even girls, should have the right to learn.  This was not the case everywhere in Pakistan.  In many places in that country, only boys were educated.  As the Taliban rose in power, they also condemned girls being educated.  The Taliban threatened the school leaders, including Malala’s father, to stop allowing girls to come to school. Later, those who opposed the Taliban were bombed as warnings to others.  Malala secretly began to blog about her experiences with a reporter from the BBC.  Finally, a Taliban fighter boarded the school bus and shot Malala for her outspoken stance on education for all girls in Pakistan.  She recovered and gave a speech before the United Nations that propelled her to international fame.  She later won a Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous fight for the right to learn.  This vividly illustrated book is powerful and compelling.  The message that Malala shared is clear and precise.  The incident of the shooting is simply illustrated with a book and three small drops of blood on top of it.  While upsetting, students will be inspired by her persistence and perhaps encouraged to appreciate the gift of education that all children in America may take for granted.  THOUGHTS:  This book is a wonderful addition to a unit on children in the Middle East, human rights, or even an inspiration to students to find something that they are passionate about and act to make a change.

Picture Book Biography     Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy

 

 

Robbins, Dean. Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. New York: Orchard Books, 2016. 978-0-545-39996-8. 32pp. $17.99. Gr. K-4.

On a snowy afternoon, Susan B. Anthony is setting her table for tea. Two cups, two saucers, two slices of cake. She welcomes her friend Frederick Douglass, and the two sip tea by the fireplace, talking about their ideas for equal rights. This book centers on the real-life friendship these two activists shared and highlights similarities in their campaigns for women’s rights and African American rights. Robbins uses parallel text, repeating the lines, “The right to live free. The right to vote. Some people had rights, while others had none. Why shouldn’t he have them too?” as he describes each crusader’s fight. A brief author’s note provides additional background information about both Anthony and Douglass, and a bibliography offers suggestions for further reading. Mixed media illustrations feature paint, collage, and colored pencil. Swirling cursive script highlighting ideas Anthony and Douglass championed is woven into many spreads, adding to the book’s vintage feel. Overall, this is an age-appropriate introduction to two civil rights contemporaries who respected each other’s ideas and admired each other’s resolve to fight for a better future.  THOUGHTS:  This is a valuable addition to social studies units about equal rights or women’s suffrage. It could also be used to supplement a Civil War unit on emancipation or in celebration of Black History Month.

Picture Book    Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

YA Graphic Novels – Delilah Dirk; Nameless City

delilahdirk

Cliff, Tony.  Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling. New York: First Second, 2016. 978-162672-1555. $17.99. 265 pp. Gr. 5-12.

In this sequel to Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (2013), Cliff continues the rapid-pace action, character insights and talented artwork.  Delilah and her partner Selim continue their exploits in exotic locales, but Selim’s cautionary words can’t stop Delilah from striking back at a British soldier who has wounded her pride.  The soldier, in turn, lets Delilah take the blame for his own unsavory activities.  Thus Delilah and Selim return to Britain to clear Delilah’s name.  And, though she grew up there as Alexandra Nichols, she is as uncomfortable in society as Selim and finds it difficult to keep her alter ego hidden from her mother.  There is much to enjoy in characters and artwork, and Cliff leaves the ending open for further adventures.  THOUGHTS: This is a lively story with excellent art connections, interesting to any fan of art or graphic novels.  Cliff acknowledges his at times inaccurate portrayals of early 19th century London, making this more a story for adventure-seekers than history buffs.  Even readers who pick this up casually will likely enter into Delilah and Selim’s story.  

741.5 Graphic Novels        Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

 

namelesscity

Hicks, Faith Erin. The Nameless City. New York: First Second, 2016. 978-1-62672-157-9.  232p. $18.74. Gr. 5-10.

Erzi wants the boys to defend the city and be ready for war. Kaidu’s father asks about his mom and is shocked to learn that grandfather died six years ago, and mother is the tribe leader. His estranged father gives him a gift of a knife. Rat doesn’t initially like Kai and certainly doesn’t want him to run faster than she can. On the third day in the city Kaidu asks her to teach him to run, and he will bring food in exchange. It takes 27 hard days of training to get close to him. Kai loves all of the books the monks have, but Rat doesn’t know how to read. She shares that she is not lucky and her parents are dead. Eventually she asks for boots, but wearing boots belonging to another class could lead to major disputes. Rat overhears an assassination plan and risks it all to share this with Kai. Will the assassination be thwarted? THOUGHTS: Be sure to add this fast paced and heartfelt graphic novel to your collection and share with your students.  Students will be impressed with the first book to start the series.

Graphic Novel, Adventure          Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

New Picture Books – Dr. Seuss; Lillian; a Tea Party; Small Elephant

drseuss

Seuss, Dr. The BIG Orange Book of Beginner Books. New York: Random House, 2015. 978-0-553-52425-3. 240p. $15.99. Gr Pre-K-2.

This book includes six individual titles by Dr. Seuss: Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!; The Shape of Me and Other Stuff; In a People House; Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him!; Ten Apples Up On Top! Because a Little Bug went Ka-CHOO!.  The large print and illustrations help emergent reader guess the words they may not know yet while developing reading skills through rhyme and classic, beloved Dr. Seuss characters.  THOUGHTS: Buy if you do not have enough individual copies.

Picture Book Collection      Caroline Romano Wallenpaupack Area School District

 

 

lillian

Winter, Jonah and Shane W. Evans. Lillian’s Right to Vote. New York: 2015.978-0-385-39028-6. Unpaged. $17.99. Gr 1 -4.

As hundred year old Lillian journeys to the top of a very steep hill to vote, she is reminded of what it took in order for all African Americans to get the vote: from slave ties to freedom; from an impossible test to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The colorful art and well crafted sentences create a read aloud that will spark a discussion on the hard won right to vote. THOUGHTS: This is an excellent text for extending a study of Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, or Election Day.  It is highly recommended.

Historical Picture Book      Caroline Romano, Wallenpaupack Area

 

 

teaparty

Miyakoshi, Akiko. The Tea Party in the Woods. New York: Kids Can Press, 2015.  978-177138-107-9. Unpaged. $16.95. Gr. K-5.

One wintery, snowy day, a young girl named Kikko realizes her father has forgotten the pie he was supposed to take to Grandma’s house.  When she tries to catch him in the woods, she accidentally follows a bear instead.  She finds herself by a house she does not know but is too curious to leave.  As she looks through the window, a lamb wearing a coat and carrying a purse asks her, “Are you here for the tea party?”  Keikko joins the many animals for a splendid and magical tea party.  Akiko Miyakoshi has beautifully illustrated this tale.  The illustrations are mostly black and white with an occasional stroke of yellow and red.  The story ends with the animals disappearing back into the woods, and one must question whether the story is really happening or a figment of Kikko’s imagination.  Thoughts:  I would recommend this book for any children’s or elementary library.  This story promotes much discussion with students and is a great read aloud.

Picture Book                             Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School

 

 

smallelephant

Feeney, Tatyana. Small Elephant’s Bathtime. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.  978-0-553-49721-2. Unpaged. $16.99. Gr. PK-2.

Small Elephant likes water, but not being in it.  His mother tries to make bath time fun with toys and games, but Small Elephant does not want to get in the bath!  Small Elephant’s father thinks of a way to get Small Elephant in the bath, but will it work?  THOUGHTS:  This is a very cute book with enjoyable illustrations.  Young students will be able to relate to Small Elephant.  It’s a great addition to storytime!

Picture Book         Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School