YA Graphic Novel/Poetry – Speak: The Graphic Novel, Gone Rogue, For Every One

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak: The Graphic Novel. Illustrated by Emily Carroll. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018. 978-0-374-30028-9. 374 p. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Melinda enters high school having called the cops at an end of summer party. On the first day, she has “the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude, and…[no one] to sit with” (4). Through the course of the graphic novel, readers experience Melinda’s first year of high school following a sexual assault which goes unreported. As Melinda withdraws further into herself, readers can see and feel the impact of her assault and the loneliness she experiences by keeping it a secret.

THOUGHTS: Years of readers will rejoice with this graphic novel version of Anderson’s modern classic Speak. If possible Carroll’s illustrations heighten Melinda’s lonely and bleak narrative. While art is a major comfort to Melinda in the novel, artwork is at the center of this adaptation. No scenes are graphically depicted; however, Melinda’s situation is unchanged.

Graphic Novel     Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD


Meyer, Marissa. Wires and Nerve Vol. 2: Gone Rogue. Feiwel & Friends, 2018. 978-1-250-07828-5. 324 p. $21.99. Gr. 10 and up.

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t yet read The Lunar Chronicles, stop now and go read!

Once again told from Cinder’s right hand android, Wires and Nerve Volume 2 is narrated by Iko as she tracks down Alpha Lysander Steele, leader of a rogue group of Levana’s wolf-soldiers. Steele seeks revenge on Cinder for withholding the mutation anecdote from the remaining wolf-soldiers.

With preparations for a world peace celebration and Queen Selene’s visit to Earth on the horizon, Iko has a lot of work to do. Before she can kick back and relax, Iko has to make sure all of her friends are safe. Iko has had enough of Kinney’s constant jabs about her “android-ness,” causing her to explore her own origins. Regardless, Iko is ready to celebrate, and she knows how to have a good time!

THOUGHTS: Featuring all of your favorite characters, readers who love Meyers’ Lunar Chornicles world will be sad to see it over but satisfied with the open-ending of Volume 2.

Graphic Novel     Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD


Reynolds, Jason. For Every One. Antheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017. 978-1-481-48624-8. 112 p. $14.99. Gr. 6 and up.

Much in the manner of Jimmy V’s 1993 ESPY speech and Randy Pausch’s 2007 Last Lecture (minus the terminal diagnosis), Reynolds tells every one never to give up on his or her dreams, no matter how big or small. Written before his dreams were realized, Reynolds’ story is that much more motivating. He is the living example of never giving up on one’s dreams, though he didn’t achieve them when he thought he would.

This inspiring poem is the perfect graduation or just because gift – for every one.

THOUGHTS: Teachers using Reynolds’ books in their classrooms can pair this poem to give students some background on his life, or it would make a beautiful addition to teaching poetry. Kids will connect with his words. No matter what part of life readers are in, they will find hope and encouragement. The title could not be more fitting, as this book truly is for every one.

811 Poetry          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Upper Elem/MS FIC – Who Killed Darius Drake; Dream Jumper; Witch Boy

Philbrick, Rodman. Who Killed Darius Drake. Scholastic, 2017. 978-0-545-78978-3. $17.99.  192 p. Gr 4-8.

The book features two unlikely friends, Arthur and Darius, teaming together to solve a mystery. There are clear supporting characters from adventurous Deidre,  intimating “Scar man,” cheerful Mr. Robertson, and assured community leader Jasper Jones. The local history focus and mysteries research in the book is strong. Many students could be inspired to learn about their community.  In the afterward Philbrick reflects that his writing has come full circle. THOUGHTS: Rodman Philbrick is a popular author among my middle school students, so I was eager to read this book. The strong elements of mystery will lure students into the book.

Mystery     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Grunberg, Greg, and Lucas Turnbloom. Dream Jumper Book Two: Curse of The Harvester. Scholastic, 2017. 978-0-545-82608-2. $12.99. 220pp. Gr 4-7.

Vibrant colors in the artwork add to the storytelling in the second book of the Dream Jumper series. Ben and Jake work together to make money assisting others to conquer their bad dreams. Odd things happen in the process of helping and they wonder if items travel from Dream World to real world. There is also a new visitor in Dream World and dangers to escape escalate. Readers will be waiting for the next book as a result of this exciting graphic novel. THOUGHTS: This book is the second in a series. Students should read book 1 first to fully enjoy this graphic novel.

Graphic Novel, Adventure      Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Ostertag, Molly. The Witch Boy.  Scholastic, 2017. 978-1-338-08952-3. $24.99. 224 p. Gr 3-7.

Roles are very clear in this society. Boys become shapeshifts and girls become witches.  Ofen Aster hides to observe the lessons girls receive, and he gets in trouble for doing so. While practicing witchery, Astor is overseen by Charlotte, known as Charlie, and they become fast friends. Astor is unable to get his animal spirit to arrive while other boys go missing. Aster is visited by a dark creature that offers how to teach him to shapeshift. Should he take the offer from the creature, should he try to heal Charlie’s broken leg with magic, should Aster pursue his passion or the path society wishes him to follow? Thoughts: The graphic novel delivers action and an inspiring tale. Add this title to your collection.

Graphic Novel, Fantasy     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

Upper Elem/MS FIC – Dawn & the Impossible Three; Dirt; Insignificant Events…

Galligan, Gale. Dawn and the Impossible Three. Scholastic, 2017. 978-1-338-06730-9. $24.99. 160p. Gr. 3-7.

This is a full-color graphic novel that is sure to delight readers. The best friends have many obstacles throughout the book. From friendship disagreements, parents remarrying, parents dating, and babysitting parents with divorce visitation difficulties, there’s a lot of conflicts to overcome. Friendship prevails.  THOUGHTS: While the fifth book in the graphic novel series, the books do not read to be read in order. Gale Galligan is picking up with the artwork just where Raina Telgemeier left off.

Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Orenstein, Denise Gosliner. Dirt. Scholastic, 2017. 978-0-545-92587-7. $16.99. 224p. Gr. 3-7.

Yonder is now in fifth grade and does not talk at school or confront the bullies. She hasn’t talked since the traumatic loss of her mother. Her father hasn’t healed from this loss and seldom leaves his room. After getting in trouble at school, Yonder tries to avoid school by playing hookey. Eventually, the truancy officer gets Yonder to go back to school. Yonder looks forward to taking care of the neighbor’s pony even if it does overeat, so long as the pony does not become horsemeat to others. After skipping school and finding the unhabitable state of the house, Yonder is removed to foster parents. When coping with the stress, Yonder’s father has a stroke. How will everything work out for Yonder and her family?  THOUGHTS: Readers that like horses or Black Beauty might also enjoy this novel. Classmates of Yonder in the novel are extremely unkind and their actions can be a point of discussion with students.

Realistic Fiction    Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

 

Bowling, Dusti. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. 978-1-45492345-9. 262 p. $14.95. Gr. 6 and up.

Wonder meets Stargirl in Dusti Bowling’s charming new novel, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. Meet Aven, a thirteen-year-old girl, forced to move from her home in Kansas to Arizona, where her parents are managing a slightly decrepit wild-west theme park called Stagecoach Pass. Also, Aven has no arms. While she likes to entertain people with wild stories about how she lost her arms, Aven was in fact, just born without them. While her friends back in Kansas were completely used to Aven, her new classmates in Arizona are not. Although Aven has moments of self-consciousness and embarrassment when she has to do things with her feet, for the most part, she is a supremely upbeat, hilarious kid, and, as she says over and over again, doesn’t mind when people are curious; what she does mind is when people don’t treat her like an actual human being, or treat her like an invalid. While avoiding the school cafeteria (Aven feels unprepared for everyone to watch her eat with her feet), she meets Connor and Zion, two boys who also avoid the cafeteria;  Connor, because he has Tourette’s, which manifests as barking and ticking; Zion, because he’s overweight, and doesn’t want to be stared at. In short order, the three become fast friends, and all of them get caught up in the mystery of the Cavanaughs, the owners of Stagecoach Pass who haven’t been seen in years, and end up discovering a big secret about Aven’s past. THOUGHTS:  Aven’s zeal to make Connor feel “normal” can get a little overbearing at times, and Zion takes a pretty large backseat to Aven and Connor’s friendship, but otherwise, this is a delightful, heartwarming story with a positive message. Hand this to readers who are looking for Out of my Mind and Wonder read-alikes.

Realistic Fiction      Lauren Friedman-Way, The Baldwin School

Elementary NF – Money Math; Project Passion; Dropping In On; Abandoned Places; Dragonflies

Adler, David A. and Edward Miller, Ill. Money Math: Addition and Subtraction. Holiday House, 2017. 978-0-8234-2698-9. 32 p. $17.95. Gr. 1-3

A great book to fill in that 513 Dewey section in your library that might be languishing. Cartoon kids want to buy things but need to understand how money works first. In jump the Presidents who are on the different coins and bills and talk about how to add, then subtract money. Decimal points and coins are discussed, and the math in the book gets progressively harder the further you go.  THOUGHTS: I thought it was interested that they had half dollar coins in the book, but they didn’t discuss the $1 Sacagawea coin.  Overall it’s a good addition (pun intended) to the library, but not a must read.

Math; Money       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Bolte, Mari. Project Passion (series). Capstone, 2018. 32 p. $20.99 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Bit by Bit:  Projects for Your Odds and Ends.  978-1-5157-7375-7.

Bought in Bulk:  Projects for Surplus Supplies.  978-1-5157-7376-4.

Create and Keep:  Projects to Hang On To.  978-1-5157-7373-3.

Share the Love:  Projects You’ll Love to Give.  978-1-5157-7374-0.  

Bit by Bit:  Projects for Your Odds and Ends and Bought in Bulk: Projects for Surplus Supplies are similar titles that include simple craft projects that can be made using common household objects and leftover craft supplies.  The books include photographic illustrations for nearly every project, including variations on each project, and clear, easy-to-follow directions.  Most of the projects can be completed entirely by children, although a few do require adult supervision or assistance.  THOUGHTS:  These books are useful additions to a makerspace which often include many of the supplies needed. Recommended for upper elementary and middle schools needing to update their craft book collections.

Handicraft 745.5                Maggie Bokelman, Cumberland Valley SD

 

Dropping In On… Rourke Educational Media, 2017. 32 p. $23.00 each, $268.00 for set of 12. Gr. 3-6.

Barger, Jeff. Dropping In On…Atlanta. 978-1-68191-404-6.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…Boston. 978-1-68191-408-4.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…Chicago. 978-1-68191-406-0.

Greenspan, Judy. Dropping In On…Dallas. 978-1-68191-407-7.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…Denver. 978-1-68342-173-3.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…New Orleans. 978-1-68342-174-0.

Staton, Hilarie. Dropping In On…New York City. 978-1-68191-403-9.

Waxler, Melanie. Dropping In On…Orlando. 978-1-68191-402-2.

Nelson, Deb Tuttle. Dropping In On…Philadelphia. 78-1-68191-409-1.

Canasi, Brittany. Dropping In On…San Francisco. 978-1-68342-172-6.

Greenspan, Judy. Dropping In On…St. Louis. 978-1-68342-175-7.

Barger, Jeff. Dropping In On…Washington D.C. 978-1-68191-405-3.

Calling all travelers! The Dropping In On… series is ready to prepare students for their next big family vacation or city trip. Each title provides a basic historical overview of the title city, including facts on how that city was developed or discovered and information about major historical events impacting the city. For example, Dropping In On…St. Louis reviews the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark’s explorations, while Dropping In On…New Orleans details New Orleans history both before and after the Civil War and the changes in laws and life felt by African Americans like schoolgirl Ruby Bridges. Series titles also focus on each city’s landscape, parks, monuments, major sports teams, cultural history and attractions, and spots that every tourist must visit. Each book is packed full of beautifully colored photographs, often displayed in overlapping style like a traveler’s scrapbook of photographs. Illustrated children hop into some photographs to point out interesting tidbits, similar to tour guides. Each book features a table of contents, city facts section, glossary, index, and before and after reading activities for educators. THOUGHTS: Not an essential purchase but an interesting, fact-filled introduction to several major US cities.

900s     Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

 

Abandoned Places (series). Bellwether Media, 2018. $19.95 ea. Set of 6 $119.70.  24p. Gr. 2 – 5.

Leaf, Christina. Machu Picchu: The Lost Civilization. 9781626176966.

Owings, Lisa. Craco: The Medieval Ghost Town. 9781626176959.

Owings, Lisa. Battleship Island: The Deserted Island. 9781626176935.

Owings, Lisa. Pripyat: The Chernobyl Ghost Town. 9781626176973.

Schuetz, Kari. Bodie: The Gold-Mining Ghost Town. 9781626176942.

Schuetz, Kari. Roanoke: The Lost Colony. 9781626176980.

This informative series checks all the boxes of a good non-fiction book: Table of Contents, Glossary, To Learn More, and Index. Some of the best features in this series are the maps showing where the site is located, and the timelines that are in each book. The full-color modern pictures with interspersed historical ones provide a good viewpoint for young learners. THOUGHTS: The reinforced library binding makes this series worth its cost. I liked all the features, and it’s a series that won’t be quickly outdated, so will have a long shelf life.

Nonfiction; Historical Places       Emily Woodward, The Baldwin School

 

Perish, Patrick. Dragonflies. Bellwether Media, 2018. 9781626176621. $19.50. 24 p. Gr. K-3.

In this attractive early reader, Perish presents basic information about the dragonfly. Despite its length, the book is set up like a traditional nonfiction book with a table of contents, pictorial glossary, index, and bibliography.  The author gives the insect’s physical description, habitat, diet and life cycle in a succinct manner, as is typical of books in the Blastoff Readers series.  The stunning photographs complement the text and the reader sees full-page images of the insect on each two-page spread. One can see why this particular series is called Insects Up Close after examining the pictures, like the one which shows the size of the dragonfly’s eyes.  There are also some inset images, which are used to further explain such terms like nymph and molting.  Other interesting photographs include a dragonfly swimming underwater and one eating a mosquito.  Children will enjoy poring over the photos. This series includes a web resource called Factsurfer.  Readers are told to enter the term into the search box and get a list of websites.  One link from the San Diego Zoo did not have the referenced article and one site contained ads.  There are other books in the “Insects Up Close” series, which follow the same format.  Also examined were Cicadas, Grasshoppers, and Ladybugs.  THOUGHTS: This series is a great addition to any library collection serving children, despite the problem with the web resources. These texts would be useful in science units on insects and children will enjoy reading them for personal interest.  They are a good choice for emerging readers.

595.7  Science; Bugs            Denise Medwick, West Allegheny SD

MS Fiction – Metropolitans; Erth Dragons; Warden’s Daughter; Payback

Goodman, Carol. The Metropolitans. Viking. 2017. 978-1-101-99766-6. $16.99. 355 p. Gr. 4-8.

Madge wanders into the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning after she is kicked out of her apartment by her aunt. Joe, a Mohawk boy, follows her into the museum after she shares her sandwich with him. In the museum, Madge and Joe meet Walt, a Jewish refugee from France, and Kiko, a Japanese-American girl whose father works at the museum. After the teens witness the theft of a rare Arthurian manuscript, they discover they have had the same foreboding dream, and the manuscript theft is just a catalyst for far larger evil. At first glance, The Metropolitans looks like a classic tween mystery. But the plot covers a lot of territory: Arthurian legend, treatment of Native American children (Joe is forced from his home into a brutal Indian school), and prejudice against Japanese Americans at the start of WWII. Laced with code breaking and channeling characters from Arthurian Legend, this story never slows down, as the four children rush to avoid the bombing of Manhattan.  THOUGHTS:  Of course this book brings to mind The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  This time, however, the venerable museum is at the center of a Nazi plot to bomb Manhattan. The four youths gain a firsthand understanding of war and prejudice as they desperately try to decipher what is happening around them.

Historical Fantasy     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

 

D’Lacey, Chris. The Erth Dragons: The Wearle. Scholastic, 2017. 978-0-545-90018-8. $16.99. 284 p. Gr. 4-8.

Hurray! Chris D’Lacey has a new series about dragons. Dragons inhabiting the planet Kimera sent an exploratory group to Earth but lost contact with them. A second group has been sent to determine the fate of the first dragons. This group has established a tenuous cohabitation with the humans in the area they have settled, but after a human who violates the boundary between human and dragon land is killed by the dragons, the humans goad the dragons into war. Ren, a young human boy is fascinated by the dragons and discovers a way to infiltrate dragon territory without being detected by the dragons. Caught in dragon territory when the war begins, Ren befriends Gabriel, a young dragon in disgrace with the colony. Ren discovers he understands the dragon, and the pair set out to discover the source of erratic dragon behavior which is fueling the dragon/homm (human) conflict. THOUGHTS: Fans of the Wings of Fire series will love this complex dragon world.  

Fantasy     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

 

Spinelli, Jerry. The Warden’s Daughter. Alfred A Knopf, 2017. 978-0-375-83199-7. $22.99. 341 p. Gr. 4-8.

Cammie is the warden’s daughter. Her father is the benevolent warden at a women’s prison outside Philadelphia, and she lives with him in an apartment overlooking the exercise yard. Cammie’s mother was killed when she was a baby and living with her father has always been enough. Until the summer of 1959, when Cammie is turning thirteen, and the impact of not having a mother hits home. Cammie decides to make Eloda Pupko, the prison trustee inmate who watches over Cammie and takes care of the apartment, her surrogate mother. The harder Cammie pushes and acts out, desperate to hear words a mother would say, the more Eloda seems determined to keep her distance, until Cammie explodes, and Eloda finally forces the girl to face her mother’s death. Set against a background of rock and roll, American Bandstand, and the finely limned inmates, this story quietly sneaks up on you until the tears are rolling down your cheek. THOUGHTS:  Another masterful book from Spinelli. It may require a thoughtful reader to appreciate the nuances of character, but it is a beautiful story.  Historical Fiction       Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

 

Korman, Gordon. Payback (Masterminds series). Balzer & Bray, 2017.  978-0-06-230005-8. 311 p. $17.99. Gr. 3-6.

In the third and final book of the Masterminds trilogy, Eli, Tori, Amber, and Malik are still on the run from the evil Dr. Hammerstrom and their former “parents” of Project Osiris. This project, a science experiment with dubious moral value, intended to answer the nature vs. nurture debate once and for all by cloning child versions of criminal masterminds of all kinds–thieves, terrorists, killers, computer hackers, and more–and raising them in a seemingly perfect community free of influence from the outside world to see if the child clones would turn into productive, honest adults or if they would follow in the footsteps of the people who provided their DNA. It sounds very dark, but Korman does a good job of writing the series at child-appropriate level. The four kids who escaped Project Osiris want to free the rest of the kids who don’t know the truth about their origins, so they travel around the country looking for help and answers from different adults while doing what they need to in order to survive, including living in a GIrl Scout cookie warehouse and stealing a few cars along the way. The series ends with Eli, Tori, Amber, and Malik at a tropical beach resort in a showdown with Dr. Hammerstrom and a satisfying ending. THOUGHTS: A great action adventure series for upper elementary students who can handle and understand the nature vs. nurture concept.

Action/Adventure             Lindsey Long, Lower Dauphin SD

YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi – Torch Against the Night; The Thousandth Floor

torch

Tahir, Sabaa. A Torch Against the Night. New York: Razorbill, 2016. 978-1-10199-887-8. $19.95. Gr. 8-12.

Sabaa Tahir’s second installment of the Ember in the Ashes series picks up right where the first book left off. Laia and Elias are fugitives on the run from the cold-hearted Commandment, the evil new Emperor Marcus, and the new Blood Shrike, Helene. Laia is still determined to break her brother out of the impenetrable Kauf prison, while Elias is determined to keep them hidden from his former best friend, Helene, who is now on the hunt to kill him. The book’s biggest strength is the development of Helene, a once cold, smitten female warrior who is given a narrative that develops her into a fierce, multi-layered character. Readers need not fear the sophomore slump; this sequel, like the original, is big on intense action and shocking plot-twists. THOUGHTS: An excellent follow-up to An Ember in the Ashes, this series is a must for any fantasy fan. Tahir recently signed on for 2 more books, so expect more from this excellent author.

Fantasy         Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School

 

floor

McGee, Katharine. The Thousandth Floor. New York: Harper, 2016. 978-0-06-241859-3. 440 pp. $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

In the Prologue of Katharine McGee’s The Thousandth Floor, an unidentified young woman falls nearly three miles from the penthouse of “the Tower” to her death on the pavement below. McGee then rewinds the narrative two months before to the summer of 2118 to introduce the cast of characters who inhabit the Tower’s different levels, and whose storylines will all converge at that fateful penthouse party. Avery, genetically engineered for flawless beauty, lives on the top floor with her parents and adopted brother Atlas (her taboo crush). Avery’s best friend Leda is keeping both a recent rehab stay and a tryst with Atlas secret from everyone. Fellow “highlier” Eris about to have her wealth and status ripped away when a family secret comes to light. Meanwhile, “downTower” Rylin starts working for playboy Cord and hacker Watt is hired by Leda to spy on Atlas. Everyone has something to hide and something to gain as McGee weaves these plot threads into quite the scandalously tangled web. THOUGHTS: Friendships and romances develop and dissolve as the characters angle for true love and a better position in the hierarchy of the Tower. The ending reveals the premise for a 2017 sequel to this addictive debut!

For a fun extension activity, check out Epic Reads’ DIY-A video for a jewelry organizer inspired by The Thousandth Floor:

DIY: Jewelry Organizer Inspired by The Thousandth Floor

Science Fiction; Romance       Amy V. Pickett, Ridley High School Library

Upper Elem. & MS Series NF – Recycled Science; History Hunters; Warrior Science

recycledscience

Recycled Science (series). North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2017. 32 p. $84. Gr. 3-8.

Enz, Tammy. Awesome Craft Stick Science. 978-1-5157-0861-2.

Enz, Tammy. Cool Plastic Bottle and Milk Jug Science. 978-1-5157-0862-9.

Enz, Tammy. Incredible Snack Package Science. 978-1-5157-0863-6.

Wheeler-Toppen, Jodi. Amazing Cardboard Tube Science. 978-1-5157-0860-5.

Each book in this series focuses on an everyday object like a cardboard tube or a popsicle stick.  There are several step-by-step experiments and projects that can be completed using the objects.  Not only do these projects serve to recycle the materials, but they also teach scientific principles that will stick with the reader after the project is finished.  For example, readers will turn cardboard tubes into marshmallow shooters and learn about potential energy and kinetic energy in the process.  They will create harmonicas out of popsicle sticks in order to understand the concepts of sound waves, frequency, and pitch.  Complete with a glossary, index, color photographs, additional print and web resources, and critical thinking questions using the Common Core, this hands-on series is sure to entertain students as they learn about scientific principles.  THOUGHTS:  This is an excellent resource for elementary and middle school science teachers to incorporate into the classroom or Earth Day.  Full of great ideas for recycling everyday objects and hands-on projects designed to make learning fun, these books are a wonderful addition to any elementary or middle school library.

745.5; Crafts & Hobbies; Recycling              Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School

 

historyhunters

History Hunters. North Mankato: Capstone, 2017. $20.99 ea. $125.94 set of 6. 32p. Gr. 3-8.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Egypt. 978-1-5157-2531-2.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Greece. 978-1-5157-2535-0.

Dickmann, Nancy. Ancient Rome. 978-1-5157-2550-3.
Spilsbury, Louise. Ancient China. 978-1-5157-2525-1.

Spilsbury, Louise. The Mayans. 978-1-5157-2551-0.

Spilsbury, Louise. The Vikings. 978-1-5157-2552-7.

The History Hunters series uses archaeological discoveries to help illuminate and explain the history of several well known ancient civilizations. Numerous photos of archeological finds are used to supplement the text. Each volume covers topics such as religion, family life, work, housing, food, wars/conflict, and other basic information about the culture being presented. Sidebars entitled “Deadly Secrets” offer a photos, descriptions, and clues about specific finds in order to get the reader to correctly guess their purpose. A glossary is included in each volume.  THOUGHTS: Though each book in this set is a slim 32 pages, a great deal of knowledge is incorporated into the text. Readers will walk away with a basic understanding of the each civilization. Numerous photos of archaeological discoveries as well as historical images will add to the reader’s overall understanding. A great choice for history fans.

900s; Ancient Civilizations     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

 

warriorscience

Warrior Science. North Mankato: Capstone, 2017. $20.99 ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32p. Gr. 3-8.

Lassieur, Allison. Gladiator Science: Armor, Weapons, and Arena Combat. 978-1-4914-8129-5.

Lassieur, Allison. Medieval Knight Science: Armor, Weapons, and Siege Warfare. 978-1-4914-8130-1.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Ninja Science: Camouflage, Weapons, and Stealthy Attacks. 978-1-4914-8115-8.

Lusted, Marcia Amidon. Samurai Science: Armor, Weapons, and Battlefield Strategy. 978-1-4914-8124-0.

Each volume of the Warriors Science series examines one of the most prominent and popular groups of fighters from world history. Types of weapons, protective gear and tactical strategies are discussed within the context of science. In order to emerge victorious, these historic warriors had to rely on scientific principles and knowledge to maximize the effectiveness of their weaponry and strategy. For example, medieval knights protected themselves with armor designed to disperse and absorb energy from the blows of enemy weapons. Knights also built weapons such as trebuchets, which relied on counterweights and the science of gravity. Each volume features numerous diagrams, photos and historical images designed to illustrate the science behind the history. In addition, phrases/words are defined throughout the text in order to increase clarity for the reader. THOUGHTS: These engaging reads are sure to be popular with upper elementary and middle school fans of military/weapons books. The science content is seamlessly and logically woven into the presentation of historical events and the soldiers/fighters under discussion.

Military Science, History    Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

Series NF Elem./MS – Ecosystems; No Kidding; Science Behind; Paranormal Handbook

whatdoyoufind

Kopp, Megan. Ecosystems Close-Up (series). New York: Crabtree, 2016. 24 p. $14.95 ea. Gr.K-3.

What Do You Find in a Backyard? 978-0-7787-2255-7.

What Do You Find in a Coral Reef? 978-0-7787-2257-1.

What Do You Find in a Pond? 978-0-7787-2259-5.

What Do You Find in a Rainforest Tree? 978-0-7787-2261-8.

What Do You Find in a Tide Pool? 978-0-7787-2265-5.

What Do You Find in a Saguaro Cactus? 978-0-7787-2263-2.

Learning about biomes, habitats and ecosystems feels more valuable to young learners when they can get up close and see the details. This series by Megan Kopp helps to explain and show the connections between life and land in various parts of the world. Each text has a similar pattern of contents, with many nonfiction features such as captions, models, thought bubbles, glossary and even extra activities. The photographs are still the best part since they show what words can only explain and make the reader appreciate the hidden treasures of nature.  THOUGHTS: Great series to support primary units of science need to be relatable and consistent, and Kopp provides just that through her work. I would definitely lend these to teacher seeking nonfiction text features.

Science (Habitats)        Dustin Brackbill, Mt. Nittany Elementary

 

jokes

No Kidding (series). St. Catherines, Ontario: Crabtree, 2016.  32 pp. $20.75ea. Gr. 3-6.

Christopher, Clara. Animal: Jokes, Riddles, and Games. 978-0-7787-2387-5.

Eagan, Rachel. Monster and Creepy-Crawly: Jokes, Riddles, and Games.  978-0-7787-2389-9

Rodger, Anne-Marie. Sports: Jokes, Riddles, and Games. 978-0-7787-2390-5.

Rodger, Marguerite.  Around the World in Jokes, Riddles, and Games. 978-0-7787-2388-2.

Colorful photographs and illustrations are found throughout the series. Each book has “funny bone” sections. The layout offers a table of contents, eight concise chapters, a glossary and index. Additional books are recommended and hall of fame biographies or spotlights are included for the respective topics. Some of the favorite jokes include “why the golfer wears two pants” and  “what did the ocean say to another ocean”. The books offer activities such as making a comic strip baseball card and telling a joke. THOUGHTS: The series provides a link to add humor tied into language arts. Figurative language examples are included. This is a fun series that can draw many readers into many topics with laughter.

808.88; Language Arts    Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

sciencebehind

The Science Behind Natural Phenomena. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2017. $20.99 ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32 pp. Gr. 3-6.

Garbe, Suzanne. The Science Behind Wonders of the Sun: Sun Dogs, Lunar Eclipses, and Green Flash. 978-15157-07783.

Garbe, Suzanne. The Science Behind Wonders of the Water: Exploding Lakes, Ice Circles, and Brinicles. 978-15157-07769.

Leavitt, Amie Jane. The Science Behind Wonders of Earth: Cave Crystals, Balancing Rocks, and Snow Donuts. 978-1515707738.

Morey, Allan. The Science Behind Wonders of the Sky: Auroras, Moonbows, and St. Elmo’s Fire. 978-15157-07776.

Designed to answer upper elementary readers’ questions and pique their interest in natural phenomena, this series provides answers to rainbows, clouds, caves, the aurora borealis, comets, and sinkholes including how, where, when and why these phenomena occur. The Science Behind Wonders of Earth covers snow donuts, the sliding stones of Racetrack Playa (CA), caves, giant crystals, basalt columns and sinkholes.  The Science Behind Wonders of the Sky covers auroras, moonbows, comets, meteoroids, cloud formations, St. Elmo’s Fire, and thunder and lightning.  Each phenomena is accompanied by color photographs or illustrations that draw in readers.  The information for each varies from a scant one page (St. Elmo’s Fire) to six pages (cloud formations).  End matter includes glossary, index, further reading, three critical questions, and FactHound.com link for updated online resources.  THOUGHTS: This is geared for upper elementary but can easily find a place in middle-high school as well.  The topics are interesting enough to warrant further resources and research.    

550; Natural Phenomena         Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

 

paranormal

Paranormal Handbooks. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2017. $20.99 ea. $83.96 set of 4. 32 pp. Gr. 3-6.

McCollum, Sean. Handbook to UFOs, Crop Circles, and Alien Encounters. 978-15157-13098.

McCollum, Sean. Handbook to Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Haunted Houses. 978-15157-13081.

Omoth, Tyler. Handbook to Bigfoot, Nessie, and Other Unexplained Creatures. 978-15157-13111.

Omoth, Tyler. Handbook to Stonehenge, the Bermuda Triangle, and Other Mysterious Locations. 978-15157-13104.

This new series of four books from Capstone covers paranormal phenomena, drawing in readers with eerie covers and copious use of color and illustrations or photos.  Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Haunted Houses covers each of these three topics, giving definitions and well-known examples of each.  While the illustrations or stories may be creepy, McCollum carefully ends each section with clear comments that science has never proven any of the phenomena.  Bigfoot, Nessie, and Other Unexplained Creatures leaves more questions about the existence of these creatures.  For example, after speculation on mermaids, author Omoth concludes, “it’s worth keeping an eye on the water in case an authentic mermaid is lurking nearby” (16).  Omoth reports on Bigfoot, Nessie, mermaids, chupacabra, the Jersey Devil, Mothman, Spring-Heeled Jack, and the Loveland Frogmen.  These titles close with a quiz, glossary, index, further reading, and FactHound.com links. THOUGHTS: Readers of Bigfoot, Nessie, and Other Unexplained Creatures may be frustrated by the mixed messages from the author: basically that there is no proof, but the legend/stories continue, so look out!  This tactic can make the reader feel like the author is joking.  Ghosts provides an “answer” based on investigations: no evidence of ghosts, poltergeists or hauntings has ever been found.  This is an additional selection only for collections whose titles on paranormal topics have aged.

001.942 Paranormal Phenomena         Melissa Scott, Shenango High School

Series NF for Upper Elem. and MS from Capstone – Presidential Elections; Special OPS; Sports Stats

politicnumbers

Presidential Politics series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016. 48 p. $21.54 ea. Gr. 3-8.

Gunderson, Jessica. The Election of 1860: A Nation Divides on the Eve of War. 978-1-4914-8240-7.   

Krasner, Barbara. A Timeline of Presidential Elections. 978-1-4914-8239-1.

Scarbrough, Mary Hertz. Presidential Politics By the Numbers. 978-1-4914-8238-4.  

Students may be caught off guard that George Washington’s second inauguration speech was 135 words long and by other statistics detailed in Presidential Politics by the Numbers. Faster than it seems, another election is just around the corner. While Lincoln is regarded by many students and historians as a standout president, the book The Election of 1860: A Nation Divided on the Eve of War details the struggles Lincoln faced and the turmoil of the nation during that time period. A Timeline of Presidential Elections divides the history into ten chapters with clear date boxes. The series is ideal to display around elections and also to supplement topics related to presidents in the classrooms. The books contain chapters with elements that draw in readers including infographics, primary images, maps, critical thinking questions and sidebars. A detailed glossary, further reading suggestions and an index are also included. THOUGHTS: There is also a fiction book to tie into presidential elections called Tommy McKnight and the Great Election (Capstone, 2016). The fiction book is inspiring. The main character, Tommy, struggles with the effects of Polio. When he sees that the presidential candidate Franklin Delano Roosevelt does not let the disease stop him from political goals, Tommy is empowered to reach his goals. There is a great importance is having fiction and nonfiction pairings for students and this series provides this option. Presidential Politics is set highly recommended for upper elementary and middle school library collections.

900s; American History; Presidential Elections   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

specialops

Simons, Lisa M. Bolt. Special OPS Mission Timelines series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016.  32 p. $19.54 ea. Gr. 3-9.

U.S. Navy Seal Missions: A Timeline. 978-1-4914-8703-7.   

U.S. Marine Raider Missions: A Timeline. 978-1-4914-8704-4.

U.S. Army Green Beret Missions. 978-1-4914-8702-0.  

U.S. Army Ranger Missions. 978-1-4914-8701-3.  

U.S. Navy Seal Missions and U.S. Marine Raider Missions, along with the other books in this series, are picture rich in their overview of elite military groups and their history. Terms are in bold with the definition on the same page in a caption box.  Events such as the Battle of Baltimore, Operation Detachment, Afghanistan Ambush, Operation Just Cause, and Operation Neptune Spear are presented. The time frame includes an overview of the event and a full page image. The ending material of the book includes a glossary, additional books to read, and information to access at Fact Hound for reviewed websites. The last page has ideas to incorporate Common Core with critical thinking and concludes with an index. THOUGHTS: The books have a balanced blend of images, history, and organized presentation of content. These books will help to provide students with current information along with the history. The books present subjects that matter to students in an engaging fashion.

359.9; Military History   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

 

sportsstats

Sport Stats and Stories series. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2016.  48 p. $23.54 ea. Gr. 4-6.

Braun, Eric. Baseball Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8215-5.   

Braun, Eric. Basketball Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8216-2.

Frederick, Shane. Football Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know.  978-1-4914-8214-8.  

Frederick, Shane.  Hockey Stats and the Stories Behind Them: What Every Fan Needs to Know. 978-1-4914-8701-3.  

Dramatic images from Sports Illustrated capture the excitement found in the respective sports from the past and current times. Numerous examples of mathematical breakdown of facts are detailed. One example is the 15 steps to determine the quarterback passing rating. The basketball stats includes mathematical directions for records including points per game and field goal attempts. Learn more of the phrases of sports like “Hack-a -Shaq.”  The content is presented in chapter format. Rankings of the top 5 athletes are devised for specific categories or positions. Terms are defined in a stat glossary. The books suggest additional books to read and directions to access Fact Hound for reviewed websites. THOUGHTS: The books provide an engaging read with facts extending the knowledge of history and breakthrough athletes. Also share these books with your physical education and math teachers for all of the cross-curricular topics.

796; Sports   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

YA Series Continuation – See How They Run, Embassy Row Bk. 2

SeeHowTheyRun

Carter, Ally. See How They Run. New York: Scholastic Press, 2015. 978-0-545-65484-5. $17.99. 323p. Gr. 7 and up.

It’s time for the lady librarian assassins, at least that’s what Grace Blakely thinks after learning of a secret society of Adrian women formed at the inception of Adria and still in existence today.  Women who shoot powerful men (i.e. Ms. Chancellor) to protect secrets; secrets of the past, secrets of the present, and secrets that have been lost to history.  Grace’s mom, Caroline, had been a member of the society prior to her death, a death Grace can’t live down since she caused it.  Now, it’s Grace’s turn to carry on the tradition of Adrian women to protect their land, their country, their men, and their secrets.  In the follow up to All Fall Down, book 1 of Carter’s Embassy Row series, Grace Blakely finds herself two weeks after learning the truth of her mother’s death.  As she deals with the mental exhaustion of her realization, her brother, Jamie, and his friend, John Spencer (Spence), from West Point, arrive.  Grace knows this is not a friendly visit, but welcomes her brother home.  That is until Spence kisses Grace, Alexei witnesses it, fights Spence, and the next morning Spence’s body washes up on the shore of Valencia.  Now it’s up to Grace and her motley crew of friends: Lila and Noah, the Israeli and Brazilian ambassadors twins, Rosie, the German ambassadors daughter, and Megan, daughter of a US embassy worker, to clear Alexei’s name and find Spence’s actual killer.  But, as with everything from her past, Grace quickly learns that things aren’t quite so easy, and perhaps, Spence was never the intended target. THOUGHTS:  Carter’s follow-up lacks in some basic developmental areas, but overall will keep readers interested and wanting more, especially at the end (which is somewhat predictable, but still entertaining).

Realistic Fiction; Mystery       Erin Parkinson, Lincoln JSHS, Ellwood City

I loved Ally Carter’s Heist Society novels because, although they all connected, they could also all stand-alone.  A reader needn’t read them in order to understand what is happening and keep up with the story (although it doesn’t hurt).  With Embassy Row, I feel like Carter lost something, some of her Heist Society magic.  First, the books have to be read in order, and readers will probably need to re-read each text before the next one because of the cliff-hanger endings (or at least the final chapters).  I understand that “cliff-hangers” are important to series, but they aren’t a requirement, and I think Carter could have done amazing things with this new series, much like she did with Heist Society, if she would have tied things up a bit better.  Ending a novel doesn’t take anything away from it.  Second, Carter’s timeline is too condensed to be believable.  Two weeks ago Grace finds out she was the cause of her mother’s death (no spoilers here – read All Fall Down to find out how).  Now, she’s in the midst of a secret society, her brother is back, his friend from West Point washes up dead on the shores of Valancia, and her best friend and his is wanted for killing a US citizen.  Too much too fast Ally Carter.  If it was six months later or a year, sure, I’d believe it, but not two weeks later.  Thus the “realistic” part of realistic fiction goes away.  Third, Grace herself as the narrator is irritating.  She is selfish and whiny; get over it.  Yes, your mother is dead; that’s awful, but quit making everything about you and what happened to cause her death.  This is part of the reason why the setting of the novel bothers me so much.  Give Grace time to heal before the next novel and next death.  Finally, fill in the holes and don’t make the ending so predictable.  There are way too many holes with the history of Adria and the society.  Take some of the random pages of description and use them to explain what’s going on.  Also, Dominic…just explain something with him and why he’s following Grace.  It’s creepy without an explanation.  Overall, See How They Run is exciting at the end, but not nearly as fullfilling as All Fall Down was through the entire novel.  I liked the idea of the secret society, but apparently I need Dan Brown to write that portion for me to be intrigued.  Hopefully, book three will not disappoint (and tie everything together).
One final note, why is it recently second books in series aren’t nearly as good as books one and three?