Elem. – Be a Pet Expert (Series NF)

Barder, Gemma. Be a Pet Expert (series of 6). Crabtree, 2021. 32 p. $20.75 each. $124.50 Set of 6. Grades 3-6.

Be a Cat Expert. 978-0-778-78015-1.
Be A Dog Expert. 978-0-778-78016-8.
Be a Hamster & Guinea Pig Expert. 978-0-778-78017-5.
Be a Horse & Pony Expert. 978-0-778-78018-2.
Be a Rabbit Expert. 978-0-778-78019-9.
Be a Reptile Expert. 978-0-778-78020-5.

These books provide helpful information, facts, and pet care tips for a variety of animals. Many photos, text boxes, and checklists help readers to learn more about the animals and consider them as pets. A flowchart guides readers through yes/no questions to determine what type best suits their personalities. Placing hamsters and guinea pigs in the same book will help readers to differentiate the two. Each book surprises readers with some interesting facts even on ‘well-known’ pets. For instance, no two dogs have the same noseprint; cats cannot taste sweet foods; horses and ponies have the largest eyes of any mammals on land; and rabbits can sleep with their eyes open.

THOUGHTS: These helpful books shed a positive yet truthful light on pets, which will appeal to pet-owners and animal lovers alike.

630s Domesticated Animals, Pets        Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Favourite Pets (Series NF)

Crumpton, Nick. Favourite Pets. Thames & Hudson. $16.95. Grades 2-8.

Why Can’t Horses Burp? 2021. 978-0-500-65230-5.
Why Do Cats Meow?
2020. 978-0-500-65238-1.
Why Do Dogs Sniff Bottoms? 2020. 978-0-500-65202-2.

 

Have you ever wondered why horses can’t burp? Or maybe you are curious about the different types of horses, the color of a horse’s hair, mane, or tail, or even where a horse came from. This book will answer all of those curious questions you may have about one of your favorite pets and animals: a horse! Filled with information by horse expert Dr. Nick Crumpton, many of those captivating and curious questions you have can be answered in this illustrated, yet humorous, book!

THOUGHTS: Horses are the favorite animal of many readers, and this book is an excellent choice for elementary and middle school readers. As a librarian, I learned a lot about horses that I did not know! Readers will enjoy this book and be drawn in with the curious questions about horses!

636.1 Horses          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

MG – Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling

Dahlgren, Helena. Soul Riders: Jorvik Calling. Andrews McMeel, 2020. 978-1-524-85532-1. 189 p. $8.99. Grades 4-6.

Lisa hopes the move to the remote island of Jorvik will be what she and her father need to reestablish their relationship. The 15-year-old’s mother was killed three years ago in a horseback riding accident, and her father accepted this new job so the pair could spend more time together. But when her father is immediately called into work, Lisa finds herself on her own to explore the island. She is drawn to nearby Jorvik stables, even though she lost her love of horses after her mother’s death and hasn’t been on a horse since. Lisa is quickly accepted into a circle of three girls her age at the stable, and their gentle friendship, along with a deep connection to a native island horse, Starshine, encourages her to ride again. However, evil lurks on the peaceful island. A mysterious, sinister man and a pair of teen girls seem determined to injure or steal the horses of the four friends. Eventually, the girls uncover a local myth of the Soul Riders, four ancient riders associated with certain symbols and powers. Could there be any connection between what is happening to the girls and these ancient beings? This mystical story, associated with an online immersive adventure game, is perfect for horse-crazy tweens. The theme of overcoming adversity through friendship is prevalent throughout the book, woven into an adventure tinged with mythology and danger. Mysterious individuals and uncovered magical abilities add interest to the story, but the real star is the love between girl and horse. Although there is a limited amount of character diversity, as Jorvik is somewhere in the North Sea, apparently near the Scandinavian countries, one of the girls is Pakistani. The second book in the trilogy, The Legend Awakens, was published in September 2020, and the final book is due out in April 2021.

THOUGHTS: This series could have wider appeal among fantasy readers not ready for lengthy, multi-volume series, but it will mostly resonate with horse lovers. The Star Stable online game does require fees to play after a trial period.

Fantasy          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – Horses, Set 2 (Series NF)

Hansen, Grace. Horses (set 2). Abdo, 2020. $20.95 ea. $125.70 set of 6. 24 p. Grades PreK-2. 

Arabian Horses. 978-1-532-18563-2.
Highland Ponies. 978-1-532-18564-9.
Mustang Ponies. 978-1-532-18565-6.
Palomino Horses. 978-1-532-18566-3.
Pinto Horses. 978-1-532-18567-0.
Shetland Ponies. 978-1-532-18568-7.

Horse books of all types are always a popular choice for students. Abdo, realizing this fact, has expanded their existing Horses nonfiction series for young readers with the publication of six additional titles. Each book explores the unique characteristics of a specific horse breed. Readers will learn about the history of the breed as well as the horse’s physical characteristics and abilities. Highland Ponies, for example, informs the reader about the strong and sturdy horse breed native to Scotland. Easy to handle and train, these horses are versatile, working on farms, but also to be used as family ponies and trained for riding and showing. The text is supported by the inclusion numerous high quality photos, a “More Facts” page, and glossary.

THOUGHTS: This series is an excellent choice for primary school libraries looking to update the horse area of their collections. The books are oversized, allowing for larger photos that are sure to capture the interest of readers. The supplemental Abdo Online materials that relate to series are a nice added bonus – I particularly like the craft project, which involved using a paper bag to create a horse puppet.

636.1  Horses          Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg 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

YA Nonfiction – Human Rights; Thinking Critically series; Wild at Heart

humanrights

Russett, Bruce.  Human Rights and Protecting Individuals (The United Nations Leadership and Challenges in a Global World series).  Philadelphia: Mason Crest, 2016.  978-1-4222-3437-2. $22.99. 89p. Grades 7+.

This Mason Crest series, The United Nations Leadership and Challenges in a Global World Series, is fantastic for teaching research skills, ways to synthesize information, and citation skills.  This particular book, Human Rights and Protecting Individuals, in the series looks at the UN’s role in Human Rights and their System, explaining the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international laws and the United Nations in action on human rights issues.  Each table of contents page in the series has “Key Icons To Look For” which provides readers with icons to help with vocabulary, further readings for research, text-dependent questions as well as glossary terms.  There is an abundance of photographs and text boxes so students are not overwhelmed by the book and the content.  THOUGHTS: Human Rights and Protecting Individuals – The United Nations Leadership and Challenges in a Global World series found the perfect way to take a complex and often difficult to understand topic and made it accessible to middle school students as well as struggling high school students.  

341.48       Laura Ward, Fox Chapel Area High School

cyberbullying

Thinking Critically series. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $29.00. 80p. Gr. 9 and up.

Currie, Stephen.  Cyberbullying. 978-1-60152-820-9.

Cyberbullying is becoming more and more of an issue at younger ages.  The Thinking Critically series takes a look at this sensitive topic and addresses whether it is more harmful than traditional bullying.  It also takes on the topics of a school’s involvement when the bullying takes place off campus.  This is an easily accessible book complete with source notes, cyberbullying facts, related organizations, websites and ideas for further research on this serious topic.  

massshootings

Nakaya, Andrea.  Mass Shootings.  978-1-60152-822-3.  

Mass Shootings are a hot-button issue in the world right now.  The Thinking Critically series takes a closer look at how serious of an issue this is as well as how strict the government should be in hopes of reducing mass shootings in America.  This book also explores violent video games as a cause of mass shootings.  As with all of the titles in the Thinking Critically series, this is an easily accessible book complete with source notes, cyberbullying facts, related organizations, websites and ideas for further research on this serious topic.

biofuels

Dudley, William.  Biofuels. 978-1-60152-816-2.

Biofuels is yet another hotly contested topic from the US Government support of ethanol production to how essential are biofuels to national security.  As with any environmental topic, this series takes a close look at both sides of how biofuels affect greenhouse gas emissions and if biofuels really threaten global food production. As with all of the titles in the Thinking Critically series, this is an easily accessible book complete with source notes, biofuel facts, related organizations, websites and ideas for further research on this serious topic.   

 

Thoughts: All three new titles in the Thinking Critically series from Reference Point Press are great resources for refining research skills.  The text boxes, graphs and illustrations will help students synthesize relevant information for use in their research projects.

302.34; 364.152; 662.88             Laura Ward, Fox Chapel Area High School

 

 

wildatheart

Farley, Terry, and Melissa Farlow. Wild at Heart: Mustangs and the Young People Fighting to Save Them. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 978-0-544-39294-6. 196 pp. $19.99. Grades 6 and up.

Almost any casual library browser will be drawn to Wild at Heart‘s beautiful cover and the many striking images included inside the book. These photographs alone will entice readers to enter the intriguing world of wild mustangs, and the fascinating story will hold their interest throughout thanks to the way Terry Farley has expertly structured this piece of nonfiction to both entertain and educate. She opens with the story of Velma Johnson, a.k.a. “Wild Horse Annie,” and her heroic early advocacy for wild horses. She then covers how wild horses live, including their family structure and battles for dominance, before moving into the grim situation these iconic animals currently face. Readers will be shocked to learn that when mustang bands outgrow their population limits (as set by the Bureau of Land Management), they are subjected to “gathers” and sold by the pound to slaughterhouses. Though these horrifying scenes are depicted in an age-appropriate manner, the closing chapter on young people fighting to save wild horses is (thankfully) uplifting as well as enlightening. Excerpts of this carefully documented work will be applicable to units on biodiversity, conservation, political advocacy, and youth activism. THOUGHTS:Wild at Heart is a worthy addition to all libraries, middle school on up, and will be a special favorite among animal lovers of all ages.

599.6; Wild Horses          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School

 

Realistic Attitude – More 2013 Picks in YA Fiction

attitude
Stevenson, Robin. Attitude. Victoria: Orca Book Publishers, 2013. 978-1-4598-0382-4. 137p. Gr. 7 and up.
Australian native, Cassie Jordan, is heading to Vancouver, Canada, to dance in a summer initiative at the Pacific Coast Ballet Academy.  But the cutthroat competition turns personal when Melissa and her group of sidekicks decide to vote girls out of the program.  Cassie votes the first time, thinking it’s just a silly game.  When disaster strikes, she learns Melissa can be ruthless.  With the increasing pressure to compete and keep her friends, Cassie hears her dad’s voice, “Just do what you know is right, Cassie, and everything else will fall into place.”  Dancing might take audacity, passion, and diligence, but so does standing up for what you believe in.  Cassie can only hope her desire to stay true to herself doesn’t end up costing her a chance to become a world-renowned dancer.

Being so far away from home and living with a family, Cassie shows an admirable amount of determination and courage.  She only speaks to her parents occasionally, yet their words of  wisdom and advice still resonate within her heart.  She and other girls are bullied in subtle ways, including cyberbullying, and her quiet resolve to stand up for herself and others is quite remarkable and sends a positive message to young girls.  

Part of a series, Attitude is a great hi-lo choice for reluctant readers.

Realistic Fiction                            Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

lifeguard

Blumenthal, Deborah. The Lifeguard. Chicago: Albert Whitman & Company, 2012. 978-0-8075-4535-5. 277p.
Gr. 9 and up.
Instead of spending the summer at camp with her best friend Marissa, Sirena is sent to Rhode Island to live with her aunt while her parents finalize their divorce.  Thousands of miles away from home, Sirena continues to struggle with her parents’ separation, the idea of returning to two houses, and the image of her dad leaving a tawdry hotel with another woman.  Then she meets Pilot, the lifeguard who patrols the local beach.  He’s gorgeous and mysterious, and Sirena is attracted to him on a primeval level she doesn’t fully understand.  Tormented by his taciturn demeanor and the ghosts in her aunt’s house, she finds herself confiding in a local artist at the beach.  Then, in a moment of irrational conviction, she sheds all inhibition, steps into the ocean and is pulled under by a riptide.  Only Pilot will be able to save her if he finds her in time.

An alluring coming-of-age story about first love and the power of friendship and sacrifice.  With summer just around the corner, take this straight-forward novel to the beach.  Enjoy a little romance with a supernatural twist.

Supernatural Fiction                        Christine Massey, JWP Middle School

samphiresong

Hucklesby, Jill. Samphire Song. Chicago: Albert whitman & Company, 2013. 978-0-8075-7224-5. 287p. Gr. 6 and up.
It has been two years since Jodie’s dad died, but the hurt still burdens her heart.  She tries to keep busy with school and working at the stables but feels lonelier with each passing day.  Then an unexpected surprise from her mother allows Jodie to realize her dream of owning a horse.  She stumbles on Samphire at a horse auction, and their immediate bond is undeniably powerful.  He is a spirited stallion, and some would even claim hostile and damaged, but Jodie only sees a kindred spirit.  When her brother’s kidney disease takes a life-threatening turn and her mother loses her job, Jodie must make the ultimate sacrifice for her beloved brother.  Through tears, she promises Samphire they will be reunited one day, but providence may have other plans for her cherished horse.
Girls in the middle school seem to truly enjoy animal stories, especially about horses.  The plot is fairly predictable, but the love between Jodie and her horse is undeniable.  She relentlessly searches for him after raising enough money to buy him back and discovers the sordid world of animal abuse and trafficking.  The story will appeal to animal lovers and tug at their hearts.

Realistic Fiction                            Christine Massey, JWP Middle School