Elem. – Sports Zone Series NF

Sports Zone. Capstone Press. 2020. $20.99 ea. $167.92 set of 8. Grades 3-6.

Chandler, Matt. Boys’ Lacrosse: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57425-8.
—. Football: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57357-2.
—. Gymnastics: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57358-9.
—. Tae Kwan Do: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57431-9.
Williams, Heather. Basketball: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57356-5.
—. Girls’ Lacrosse: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57427-2.
—. Hockey: A Guide for Players and Fans 978-1-543-57359-6.
—. Soccer: A Guide for Players and Fans. 978-1-543-57429-6.

Girls’ Lacrosse: A Guide for Players and Fans is an immersive resource filled with a wide variety of lacrosse information, specifically for girls who would want to play this sport. This book contains the history, rules, gear required, strategies, and even additional information on this subject. While there is crossover between boys and girls in this sport in terms of rules and regulations, this book specifically discusses rules and information meant for females who would play this sport. This book is a great resource for those who are interested in learning more about lacrosse!

THOUGHTS: I appreciate the great detail, photographs, captions, and glossary items found within this book. It is very visual and appealing, all the while providing information. This book was well written in discussing how the rules vary between male and female lacrosse, informing the reader that there are many similarities, but there are some differences. A great read for anyone, male or female, who may be interested in this sport.

796.36 WIL          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

YA – We Are the Wildcats

Vivian, Siobhan. We Are the Wildcats. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2020. 978-1-534-43990-0. 352 p. Grades 8 and up. 

The Wildcats are strong, they’re fierce, they’re close, they’re five-time state field hockey champions. Except last year, last year they came in second. Mistakes creeped in and rocked the girls to their very core. Who are they if they aren’t winners? Every year girls must re-try out for the team, even if they’ve made it before. Tryouts are grueling, and Coach is intense, picking only the best of the best. Those who make it are skilled enough to call themselves Wildcats. Traditionally, the night after tryouts, those who make the team participate in a secret midnight ceremony hosted by the captain to receive their varsity jerseys. But this year won’t quite go as planned; this year Coach decides he knows best and the girls end up chasing something they never thought they would. Happening over a 24-hour period, the Wildcats learn what it means to be a team, one that has to stick up for themselves no matter what.

THOUGHTS: We Are the Wildcats is an empowering story about trust, camaraderie, and sportsmanship (or should I say sportswomanship). There are too few truly empowering sports novels for young women, and just like Michigan vs. The Boys this book has forever won a place on my shelf.

Realistic Fiction          Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD

MG – World’s Greatest Soccer Players (Series Nonfiction)

World’s Greatest Soccer Players. SportsZone, an imprint of Abdo Publishing, 2020. $20.95. $167.60 for 8. 32 p. Grades 3-8. 

Decker, Michael. Chicharito. 978-1-5321-9061-2.
—. Luka Modric. 978-1-5321-9064-3.
—. Paul Pogba. 978-1-5321-9066-7.
Kortemeier, Todd. Harry Kane. 978-1-5321-9062-9.
—. Christian Pulisic. 978-1-5321-9067-4.
Nicks, Erin. Cristiano Ronaldo. 978-1-5321-9068-1.
—. Lionel Messi. 978-1-5321-9063-6.
—. Neymar. 978-1-5321-9065-0.

This reviewer read Harry Kane in the World’s Greatest Soccer Players series. This series highlights some of the greatest current players in the world’s most popular game. Each book in the series tells the story of a player from their childhood through their professional career. Books include many colorful photos, side bars with even more player information, a glossary, and an index. Reinforced Library Bound covers.

THOUGHTS: This series is a great addition for a library looking to update their sports biography section with current athletes. (Title Reviewed: Harry Kane)

796.33 Football (Soccer)                 Krista Fitzpatrick- Waldron Mercy Academy

Elem. – Bike & Trike

Verdick, Elizabeth, and Brian Biggs. Bike & Trike. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 978-1-534-41517-1. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Switching to a “big kid bike” is a rite of passage for children, but what about the emotions that the vehicles go through?? Bike is new and shiny and ready to roll, while still having lots to learn. Trike is trusty and experienced, though a bit beat up and too small. When the two first meet in anthropomorphic fashion, they go through some initial reactions. Then a race challenge brings out further emotions, and eventually a Bike & Trike find mutual respect and come to a satisfying conclusion. Verdick and Biggs have hit on an emotional ride that will have reader’s ready to hop on and enjoy!

THOUGHTS: As a social emotional discussion book, there is plenty to unpack here. However, it is just as useful as an entertaining read for bike lovers. Perhaps my favorite extension would be a writing lesson to imagine what stories the rest of the things in any child’s garage (or basement or closet…) might tell if they could share and grow like Bike & Trike.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill    State College Area SD

MG – Golden Arm

Deuker, Carl. Golden Arm. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. $17.99. 978-0-358-01242-9 . Grades 5-8.

Sixteen-year-old Laz Weathers may be slow, but he sees his future baseball prospects pretty clearly. His solid pitching gets no real training and won’t get noticed in his small, poor district. His own weak academics, his stutter, and his ‘tics’ in response to anxiety don’t do him any favors, either. It’s Laz’s younger half-brother, Alberto, who people respond to, and who will speak up when Laz can’t or won’t. But this summer, Alberto’s father has returned and moved in with their mom in their trailer park, causing initial resentment and adjustment by both boys. Laz convinces Alberto to stick with the scrappy baseball team led by Coach L—, who coaxes and cajoles thirteen youths to join the team, then badgers coaches of established teams to compete. Thanks to Laz’s pitching, they often win, which gets him noticed. Laz learns that his family must move (the trailer park will be razed for a high-rise) and that his district will eliminate baseball for his senior year. This allows Laz to join another team, if they’ll have him. A coach who noticed his “golden arm” will give Laz a chance, but can he leave when Alberto is being drawn into drug dealing? Just when Laz has the perfect chance to shine in a championship game, Laz learns his brother is in serious danger from his drug-abusing friends, and it doesn’t matter if Alberto has used, sold, or not–he’s the immediate target. Laz’s choices show his character and alter everything for his future.

THOUGHTS: Deuker shines with baseball scenes and infuses each interaction with tension and a sense of doom. This is hard to put down and will pull in baseball fans and non-fans (the sports writing is that superb). Readers will root for Laz, even as they see everything stacked against him. When the novel ends, I found myself wondering about a sequel showing Laz’s choices in a tough environment over the next 5-10 years, and how his integrity will be tested. This powerful, timeless novel melds baseball with the pressures of class status, mixes dreams with hard reality, and the result is a first-choice novel not to be missed.

Sports Fiction          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Elem. – Talkin’ Sports (Series Nonfiction)

Talkin’ Sports. The Child’s World, 2020. $20.00 ea. $160 set of 8. 24 p. Grades 3-6. 

Buckley, James. Talkin’ Baseball. 978-150383-571-9.
—. Talkin’ Basketball. 978-150383-574-0.
—. Talkin’ Lacrosse. 978-150383-576-4.
—. Talkin’ Motor Sports. 978-150383-577-1.
—. Talkin’ Soccer. 978-150383-573-3.
Gigliotti, Jim. Talkin’ Football. 978-150383-572-6.
—. Talkin’ Golf & Tennis. 978-150383-578-8.
—. Talkin’ Hockey. 978-150383-575-7.

“Play sports? Watch sports? Talk sports!” That’s the tagline for this series highlighting special sports terms, insider phrases, comical or descriptive terms, and player nicknames. Fans of these sports will want to check up on their lingo–historical and modern-day–and add some understanding to their use of it as they go. They may even think of plenty more to add to the mix. For example, “The slugger ripped a frozen rope into the gap and pulled up with a two-bagger.” Baseball translation: “A powerful hitter smashed a line drive (further defined) between two outfielders (further defined) & ran to second base.” These books will cause laughter, and comments such as, “that’s right” or “I didn’t know that was why…” as fans feel a bit more at home watching, playing, and talking sports. For the uninitiated, these books can solidify the lingo.

THOUGHTS: A fun series suitable for upper elementary and middle school. ( Titles reviewed: Talkin’ Baseball and Talkin’ Football.)

796 Sports          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

MG – Chirp

Messner, Kate. Chirp. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020. 978-1-547-60281-0. 227 p. $16.99. Grades 5-8.

Mia and her family leave Boston to move back to Vermont in order to help Mia’s Gram sell her failing cricket farm. Strange things have been happening at Gram’s cricket farm, and Mia suspects sabotage by the man interested in buying the farm. Mia joins two summer camps, Launch Camp & Warrior Camp, at her mother’s request to keep her busy during the summer. At Launch Camp, Mia meets Clover who is instantly invested in helping Mia figure out what is going on at the cricket farm and in building a business plan to help the farm. Along with Anna, the girls create a robot to harvest crickets, a social media campaign (with the #ChirpChallenge), and a plan to pitch to several local businesses to hopefully gain investors. Clover decides to join Mia at Warrior Camp where Mia’s past gymnastic experience impacts her ability to perform. Each week Mia builds her confidence and strength up in order to confront an uncomfortable situation from her past. The girls form a strong friendship and work together to solve the mystery of who is trying to kill Gram’s cricket farm.

THOUGHTS: Messner does it again! This beautifully written, coming of age story is timely and offers readers a glimpse into the struggle kids face with speaking up. The story approaches the #metoo topic with grace and is appropriate to middle grade readers. Filled with plot twists, red herrings, and other elements of mystery, this book is a quick read and sure to delight fans of Messner’s work!

Mystery          Jillian Gasper, Northwestern Lehigh SD

Mia’s family moves from Boston to Vermont to be near her grandmother, and Mia is glad for the change. Since she broke her arm at gymnastics, and despite her skill and enjoyment of the sport, she is relieved to give it up. She hasn’t told anyone about Coach Phil’s uncomfortable attention. If it wasn’t all right, wouldn’t an adult have stepped in? And besides, everyone likes Phil. Mia did, too, until hugs became too tight, his texts became personal, and finally, he gave her a friendly back rub she didn’t want. Mia felt “icky” around Phil, but nothing was wrong, was it? Now in Vermont, she finds an old photograph of herself and wonders if she can ever again be the brave girl who smiled as she jumped from the rocks into Lake Champlain with friends. In the meantime, she helps with her grandma’s cricket farm, caring for the crickets, working on advertising, and more. However, as more problems occur, her grandma is worried about sabotage and keeping the business afloat. Mia knows her mom wonders about her grandma’s memory and wishes her grandma would slow down.  But as Mia learns more, she and her friends begin to look into the problems. Could an outsider be trying to put her grandma out of business? Mia has spent time lately learning to be quiet, unnoticed, and unquestioned. But finding out the truth, and sticking up for another girl, helps her to find her voice. Mia learns that it’s not about finding her way back to the brave girl she once was, but finding her way forward, and she gets to decide for herself who she will be.

THOUGHTS: Messner expertly molds the serious issue of grooming and abuse into a coming of age mystery appropriate for upper elementary and middle school readers. Mia is a likeable personality, and readers will cheer for her as she stands up for herself and others and uses her voice once more.

Realistic Fiction          Melissa Scott, Shenango Area SD

Mia’s family is moving back to Vermont after living in Boston for a few years. Mia, a seventh grader, is happy about this move, as she gets to spend more time with her entomologist grandmother who owns a cricket farm. Mia is recovering from a gymnastics accident, but we learn that there was more damage than a broken arm from Tumblers Gymnastics in Boston.  With her parents making her choose two camps to participate in over the summer, Mia chooses Launch, an entrepreneurship camp that helps Mia save her Gram’s farm, and Warrior Camp, a parkour camp that helps Mia come to grips with her inner athlete. In her camps she makes lasting friendships that help her solve the mystery of who is sabotaging her Gram’s cricket farm and gives her the strength to face the secret she has been hiding from her parents.

THOUGHTS: This book is a must purchase for any middle grade library. Addressing all of the controversy surrounding gymnastics recently in a very appropriate way for middle schoolers (Mia’s male coach massages her shoulders and sends “friendly” texts and is generally just a bit too friendly in a creepy way), this novel focuses on female relationships and empowerment.

Realistic Fiction          Krista Fitzpatrick, Waldron Mercy Academy

MG – Dragon Hoops; When Stars Are Scattered; Gold Rush Girl; Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor

Yang, Gene Luen. Dragon Hoops. First Second, 2020. 978-1-626-72079-4. 446 p. $19.99. Grades 7+.

Gene Luen Yang has always hated sports, but he loves stories, especially writing and drawing graphic novels. He’s in need of a new idea for his next book when he overhears students at Bishop O’Dowd (the Oakland, CA, high school where he teaches) talking about the biggest story on campus: the basketball team! Yang ventures across campus and gets to know Coach Lou, who graduated from Bishop O’Dowd in 1989 and played ball with the Dragons. He’s been to the state championship game once as a player and five times as a coach but has never brought home the trophy. There are two reasons this year might finally be the Dragons’ year: Ivan Rabb and Paris Austin. As Yang gets to know their stories, he realizes that they are every bit as thrilling as the comics he loves. But unlike a superhero story, in basketball there is no guarantee that the heroes will always win. Yang skillfully weaves high-energy, game-changing moments from the history of basketball with Coach Lou’s equally high-stakes 2015 season. This very successfully paces the drama and also helps readers better understand the action on the court during game scenes. Throughout Dragon Hoops, themes of breaking barriers, challenging one’s own limits, and literally changing the game (even at the risk of making a big mistake) are depicted with the motif of feet stepping and the word “STEP,” cueing the reader that a pivotal moment is at hand.

THOUGHTS: Gene Luen Yang was the 2016-2017 Library of Congress’ National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature (a position currently held by Jason Reynolds). His skill as both an artist and a storyteller is fabulously showcased in Dragon Hoops. Throughout the book, Yang debates whether or not to include Mike Phelps, retired O’Dowd teacher and Dragons coach, in the story. At the risk of a spoiler, Phelps resigned following a molestation charge that was never prosecuted. The charge is not described in detail but Yang includes it in the narrative.

Graphic Novel          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD


Jamieson, Victoria, and Omar Mohamed. When Stars are Scattered. Dial, 2020. 978-0-525-55391-5. 257 p. + notes. $20.99. Grades 3-8.

Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have been living in a Kenyan refugee camp since fleeing Somalia at the age of 4. Omar’s life consists of taking care of Hassan, with the assistance of Fatuma, an elderly woman who has been appointed the boys’ guardian. UN supplied food rations are meager and entertainment is what can be manufactured, such as playing soccer with a ball created from plastic bags. Omar has not gone to school, feeling responsible for Hassan. But a camp community leader encourages Omar to begin attending school, and a new world  opens to Omar. But it can be a painful world, of crushed dreams and disappointments. Brilliant student Maryam who dreams of going to university in Canada, is forced to quit school and get married. The system of choosing people for possible relocation to the United States seems random, and when Omar and Hassan are finally chosen for an emigration interview, nothing comes of it. But Omar continues to study and dream. When Omar is 18 the brothers are finally selected for resettlement. This stunning autobiography portrays, in beautiful color palettes, the reality of life in a refugee camp. Living conditions are horrific, but there are also close bonds of people who care for and support each other. Omar’s horrific backstory is revealed during his first resettlement interview, explaining how he and Hassan came to be in the  camp alone at such a young age. Author notes at the end of the story update the reader on the brothers’ story after reaching the United States, including the delightful surprise that Omar is currently living in Lancaster, PA.

THOUGHTS: This important story is a must purchase for most libraries. It carries the gravitas of Jarrett Krosocka’s Hey Kiddo, but appropriate for a younger audience.

Autobiography          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

As Omar so succinctly states in the word bubble on the back cover: “Refugee Camps are supposed to be a temporary place to stay until it’s safe to go back home. I guess no one expected the war to last so long, though, because Hassan and I have been here for 7 years.” With gorgeous colors and interesting characters, Jamieson and Mohamed take us through childhood in a refugee camp in Kenya. The monotony of daily essential routines for survival are mixed with increasing odds against finding their mother or going back home to Somalia. What remains is the effort to take care of one another, the opportunity to get schooling and seek a future, and the slightest chance to immigrate to another country for a new beginning. All of these seem unlikely for Omar, who faces tragic memories, current realities, and future possibilities with truth and sincerity that will bring young readers into his world and into their hearts. When the Stars Are Scattered is a remarkable light in the night sky which guides hope home.

THOUGHTS: Both Pennsylvania residents do an excellent job bringing the refugee experience to children. The sibling relationship with Hassan, who is nonverbal except for one word, is truly touching and real. The afterword and authors’ notes bring the story up to date, and help realize the many other refugee stories that need to be heard. Highly recommended.

Graphic Novel          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD


Avi. Gold Rush Girl. Candlewick, 2020. 978-1-536-20679-1. 306 p. $17.99. Grades 3-7.

Victoria Blaisdell finds life as a thirteen-year-old young lady in Providence, Rhode Island quite boring. She desires action, independence, and adventure. This is not how young ladies act in 1848. Her sole escape is sneaking off to the library and checking out stacks of books to read in private. She adores her younger brother, Jacob, but realizes her parents are under the control of her domineering aunt. All this changes when her father loses his job in an economic panic. While her parents dither, Tory obtains a job. Then the news comes of a gold strike in California. Tory’s father sees this as the answer to his woes and determines he and Jacob will sail for California. Tory is just as determined to go along, eventually stowing away on the ship. Life in San Francisco is not at all what the Blaisdells expected to find. Eventually Tory and Jacob are left behind in their tent home in the muddy, crude city, while their father heads to the gold fields. Resourceful Tory finds construction work and other odd jobs to support herself and Jacob, but Jacob becomes bored and dissatisfied. Is Tory too enthralled with her freedom and new friends to notice Jacob’s unhappiness? When Jacob goes missing, she knows she must find him before her father returns and their mother arrives. Tory, a memorable female character, strong, intelligent, and independent, guides the reader through gold rush in San Francisco. The sprawling, brawling town is no place for a lady, but Tory makes it her own. Avi brings the era to life, from the muddy, miserable tent cities to the brutish practice of crimping – kidnapping men to work on ships whose crews have deserted to search for gold. While some readers may find the exposition in the first half of the book a bit slow, once Tory is on the hunt for Jacob the suspense keeps you reading until the very end.

THOUGHTS:  Another meticulous book from a master. Tory is a memorable young lady, and the images of gold rush San Francisco will remain long after the book is complete.

Historical Fiction           Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD
(1849 California Gold Rush)


Carter, Ally. Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 978-0-358-39370-2. 322 p. $16.99. Grades 3-7.

Carter brings the delightfully snappy writing, humor, and plot of her Gallagher Girls series to the middle grade set. April is used to moving from home to home, as she is temporarily without a parent (DON’T call her an orphan. Her mom is coming back for her. Someday. Soon.). She has experienced foster care, good and bad, as well as group homes. While on a field trip to the opening of the Winterborne Gallery, April is shocked to see the Winterborne family crest is identical to that on the one item she has from her mother, a key she wears on a chain around her neck. Everyone knows the tragic story of the wealthy Winterbornes. The perfect family was killed when their boat exploded, all except young Gabriel Winterborne. He, however, disappeared from sight on his 21st birthday, leaving the family fortune in limbo. Now the ancestral manor houses a select group of orphans, and after a small incident involving setting the museum on fire, April is invited to move to the home, joining Sadie, Violet, Tim, and Colin. April isn’t there long before she realizes someone is sneaking around the house at night. Utilizing spy skills that will surely earn her a scholarship to the Gallagher Academy, April, with the very able assistance of her new friends, begins to unravel the long buried secrets of the Winterborne family. And, along the way she discovers there are different kinds of family and home.

THOUGHTS: Young mystery fans will love this first book in a new series. Plucky characters, boo-worthy, villains and a fast moving plot will be sure to captivate readers.

Mystery          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD

Elem. – River; Truman; What Kind of Car Does a T. Rex Drive; The Panda Problem; Hats are Not for Cats; Mini Rabbit is Not Lost; Girls with Guts; Superbuns; A Computer Called Katherine; Bilal Cooks Daal

Cooper, Elisha. River. Orchard Books, 2019. 978-1-338-31226-3. Unpaged. $18.99. Grades 2-5.

“Humans are bound to water….We are connected by water, more connected than we know.” Elisha Cooper ends her author’s notes with these words, connected to a picture of a family discussing the trip. At the start of the story readers see the same scene, and in between is one woman’s solo canoe journey down the Hudson River. It becomes a 300 mile testament to this statement by Elisha Cooper. When the woman leaves her home and family one morning and turns to wave back to them, readers are none the wiser to what lay ahead, but I suspect that she knows! Ahead are various wild animals, river obstacles, weather challenges, and people and places both expected and unbelievable. Taking on the Hudson and ever moving onward, Cooper gives us short, poetic observations accompanying gorgeous detailed water colors. Readers will empathize and connect with the woman’s journey as she sees beauty and faces solitude. The pacing of the story is ideal, lulling readers along the current and then rapidly increasing around the next turn. By the end of the journey and the reunion of her family at the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the connection between humans, the environment, and the river flows through us all.

THOUGHTS: This river experience may not be something that many kids can experience, but I think they will appreciate it and pause often to consider her journey. They can follow the map, make predictions, and ask questions as they read – maybe by journaling and sketching themselves! Cooper’s other works would make for an extended author study and insight into researching and writing.

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD


Reidy, Jean, and Lucy Ruth Cummins. Truman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. 978-1-534-41664-2. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

The life of a sweet pet tortoise named Truman is pretty chill most days. The city down below rumbles on while Truman and Sarah stayed quietly above together. Then one day, Sarah preps a backpack, leaves extra snacks for Truman, and gets on the southbound bus. Truman waits as patiently as can be, until it is time for action so that he can reunite with Sarah. His journey seems impossible, and the perfect, colorful illustrations by Lucy Ruth Cummins give perspective to his challenges. Young readers will be surprised at what happens next and what secret lives their pets may have when they are off at school!!

THOUGHTS: As the owner of both a land turtle and water turtle who have escaped and gone on adventures, this tender story hits some sentimental notes! Pair this with other pet stories, such as Memoirs of a Goldfish, to let young readers see point of view and perspective before trying to write their own narrative pet tales!

Picture Book          Dustin Brackbill, State College Area SD


Lee, Mark. What Kind of Car Does a T. Rex Drive? G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019. 978-1-524-74123-5. Unpaged. $17.99. Grades K-2.

Uncle Otto owns a car lot and is surprised when a number of dinosaurs come shopping for a car. One by one, each dinosaur looks for a car that will suit him or her. Stegosaurus finds an off-the road vehicle so that he can find some plants in the forest. Pterodactyl buys a convertible, so he can feel the breeze as he drives to the ocean to find some fish to eat. Triceratops purchases a delivery van, so she can get in through the back doors. Uncle Otto and the children are concerned when T. Rex appears and is not pleased with the options. Finally, the children find the answer- a monster truck! Brian Riggs’s humorous illustrations are done in brush and ink and colored digitally. The whimsically drawn dinosaurs appear on a large scale and take up most of the space on each two page spread.

THOUGHTS: This text makes for a great read aloud. Hand this one to those children who can’t get enough of dinosaurs. A good choice for elementary collections.

Easy          Denise Medwick, Retired, West Allegheny SD


Underwood, Deborah. The Panda Problem. Dial Books for Young Readers. 2019. 978-0-735-22850-4. $17.99. Grades K-2.

A simple story read by a simple narrator about a panda who has a problem. Except… he doesn’t have a problem. In fact, he is perfectly fine! But… if the panda is perfectly fine, how can the narrator read a story? Stories have to have problems, after all, that is what makes a story a story! So the panda decides to help by creating a problem… after a problem… after a problem! Panda soon realized that he does not have imaginary problems, but now he has real problems and needs the narrator to read the story and get him out of the problem! Read to discover what trouble the panda is getting himself into.

THOUGHTS: A cute read with dialect between the narrator and the main character of the story. A great piece to read aloud with two readers, each acting out the part of the character or narrator.

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD


Rayner, Jacqueline K. Hats are Not for Cats. Clarion Books. 2019. 978-1-328-96719-0. $17.99. Grades K-2

Did you know that hats are not for cats? Not any kind of hat. Funny, serious, large, or small, cats are not supposed to wear hats. That is what dog tells cat at least. Do you think that will stop cat (and cat’s friends) from listening? It makes you wonder what dog thinks when he sees that these cats are all wearing hats. Maybe cats can wear hats, but dogs cannot. Do you think cats should be able to wear hats? Read through this story to discover your answer!

THOUGHTS: A simple read with beautiful illustrations of cat and dog having a conversation about the issue of cats wearing hats. A read that many beginning readers would be able to pick up and read independently.

Picture Book           Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

 


Bond, John. Mini Rabbit is Not Lost. Neal Porter Books. 2019. 978-0-823-44358-1. $18.99. Grades K-2

Mini Rabbit LOVES cake! While baking a cake with Mother Rabbit, they discover that there are no berries left for the cake! Mini Rabbit decides to go out to find berries but does not realize that there are berries just below his house! Mini Rabbit travels on a marvelous journey to find berries, but ends up getting lost, even if he won’t admit it. What will it take to get Mini Rabbit back home? Perhaps the smell of something delicious…

THOUGHTS: A hysterical read of a Mini Rabbit going out on a journey. This story is fantastic when read with different voices, especially for a young, hyper Mini Rabbit. A must read for students!

Picture Book          Rachel Burkhouse, Otto-Eldred SD

 

 


Gonzales, Debbie. Girls with Guts! The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records. Charlesbridge, 2019. 978-1-580-89747-1. 32 p. $16.99. Grades 3-6. 

Today, girls are free to compete in any sport they wish to pursue. Historically, this was not the case; however, and this book chronicles the history of female participation in organized athletics from ancient times to today. In Ancient Greece, females were punished for merely watching the Olympic Games. And, during the first modern Olympics in 1896, women were not allowed to compete in any events. It took athletes like basketball player Senda Berenson Abbot, swimmer Gertrude Ederle, tennis star Althea Gibson, swimmer Donna de Varona, and others to break down barriers and help level the athletic field for women. In addition to highlighting groundbreaking female athletes, this title also spotlights the women who were instrumental in campaigning for and drafting Title IX, which mandates equal treatment for competitive girls. A timeline at the back of the book chronicles milestones in the history of women’s athletics. 

THOUGHTS: This title fills a void in many library collections by exploring the history of competitive athletics for women. It also provides introductory biographical information about ground-breaking female athletes and congresswomen who fought for Title IX legislation. Vibrant acrylic paintings depict women engaged in all kinds of athletic endeavors, and both white and non-white women are included. An Author’s Note on the book’s final page explores what it truly means to “play like a girl” and discusses the state of women’s professional athletics today.

796.082 Athletic & Outdoor Sports & Games          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD


Kredensor, Diane. Superbuns! Kindness is Her Superpower. Aladdin, 2019. 978-1-481-49068-9. 40 p. $17.99. Grades K-2. 

As Superbuns and her older sister, Blossom, make their way through the city to granny’s house, Superbuns stops several times to perform random acts of kindness. She waters plants, compliments friends, feeds pets, and blows up balloons. Blossom, who is a bit of a know-it-all, repeatedly reminds Superbuns that kind is kind, but it is not a superpower. It’s only when the sisters have a surprise run-in with a fox that Blossom realizes the true power of being kind and the effect it has both on the recipient and the bestower. 

THOUGHTS: This sweet story about the power of kindness is geared toward the youngest readers, and it will be a great fit for kindergarten and first grade classrooms. It will also work for morning meetings and could be used in conjunction with guidance lessons about what kindness looks like. The vibrantly colored cartoon illustrations will draw in young readers, and comic fans will relate to Superbuns’s fascination with superheroes. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD


Slade, Suzanne. A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon. Little, Brown and Company, 2019. 978-0-316-43517-8. 32 p. $18.99. Grades K-3. 

Numbers and counting were always important parts of Katherine’s life, even when she was a young girl. At school, math came easily to her, and she skipped first and fifth grade, eventually entering college when she was fifteen. At West Virginia State, Katherine excelled in all the math classes she took, but her favorite was advanced geometry where she studied curving parabolas. Katherine believed women could have any job they wanted, and she set her sights on a mathematics job at a Virginia research center. There, she worked as a “computer,” performing advanced calculations to support airplane engineers. Katherine stood out from the other women at the facility because of her knack for asking intelligent questions, and soon, she was invited to join a team working to send the first American astronaut into space. When Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, his Apollo 11 ship followed a flight path designed and approved by Katherine. 

THOUGHTS: This age-appropriate book will be a perfect fit for elementary STEM units, particularly ones focusing on female pioneers in the fields of math and science. Beautiful ink and watercolor illustrations have complex mathematical equations in the backgrounds, symbolizing how numbers were always on Katherine’s mind. Backmatter features primary source materials, including Katherine’s notes and calculations for the Apollo landing as well as a timeline of Katherine’s life. 

510 Mathematics          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD


Saeed, Aisha. Bilal Cooks Daal. Salaam Reads, 2019. 978-1-534-41810-3. 32 p. $17.99. Grades K-3.

When six-year-old Bilal’s father, Abu, calls him in from playing to help with dinner preparations, Bilal’s friends question what kind of meal must be prepared so early in the day. Bilal explains that his father is cooking daal. He describes the nutty, creamy Pakistani dish to them and invites his friends over to assist with preparations. Together, the children measure and combine the ingredients, and Abu heats everything in a large pot. While it simmers, the children return to their play. As they run, swim, hike, and skip pebbles, they wonder if the food is ready yet, but Bilal reminds his friends that the daal takes time to cook. When Abu finally calls everyone in for supper, Bilal is worried that his friends won’t like the daal. He watches his friends’ reactions carefully, but they all agree: the daal is delicious! An Author’s Note at the end of the book describes different kinds of daal and the way it is traditionally eaten as well as a recipe for cooking the daal referenced in the story. 

THOUGHTS: This story is a celebration of food, friendship, and culture, and the process of cooking the daal reminds readers that good things take time. Readers from multicultural families will relate to Bilal’s anxiety about his friends trying a traditional dish from his family’s homeland, and the story may prompt discussions about other favorite cultural foods. Lively digital illustrations depict a diverse group of children who are eager to learn about their friend’s heritage. 

Picture Book          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

YA – Michigan vs. The Boys; Fear of Missing Out; Soul of Stars

Allen, Carrie S. Michigan vs. The Boys. KCP Loft, 2019. 978-1-525-30276-3. 304 p. $17.99. Grades 9-12.

Michigan Manning is about to have the senior year she’s always dreamed of, having been selected as Assistant Captain for her hockey team with her best friend taking the big C. But nothing gold can stay, and shortly after receiving their patches the team is defunded. Without the team, Michigan won’t be able to get a scholarship to college and is rightfully devastated. That is until someone has an idea; why not play for the boys’ team? Knowing how much work she’ll have to do, Michigan tries out for the team, landing a ranking in the top five players. The problem? The boys aren’t happy with it. As she strives to maintain her spot and hopefully play well enough to earn a scholarship, Michigan faces challenges and abuse she never expected and events take a turn she never could have imagined.

THOUGHTS: This was one of the most powerful, motivating sports stories I’ve ever read. This is a story for anyone who has ever had to be strong, who has ever tried to blaze a trail, or who has ever had to speak out. Michigan’s story will inspire readers to take charge and take what’s theirs.

Realistic Fiction, Sports         Samantha Helwig, Dover Area SD


McGovern, Kate. Fear of Missing Out. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2019. 978-0-374-30547-5.  312 p. $17.99. Grades 7-12.

Astrid was the girl who survived brain cancer, until it came back. Astrid’s mom is frantically researching treatment options, and lobbying to get her into a new drug trial, but Astrid faces facts. Astrid believes in science, and she knows the odds for her survival are not good. But no one else, her mom; her younger brother; her best friend, Chloe; and her boyfriend, Mohit, is willing to give her up so easily. When Astrid attends a medical symposium, however, she is intrigued by a presentation on cryopreservation. In order to scientifically research the concept of freezing her body, she convinces Chloe and Mohit to go on a cross-country road trip to the cryopreservation facility. Chloe starts a fundraising Vlog and Astrid chronicles the trip and their detours to kitschy tourist attractions. As the trip progresses Astrid, reading her body, knows her time is limited. McGovern presents a raw look at cancer, and the emotional toll it takes on the patient, as well as those who love her. There are times when Chloe and Mohit lash out at Astrid, not understanding why she seems ready to let go. Mohit states, “I don’t feel sorry for you… I feel sorry for me. And Chloe. We’re the ones left behind.” Eventually, Astrid takes control of what is left of her life and decides how she wants to die. This is not a heroic look at cancer, but 300 pages of honest emotion from all involved.

THOUGHTS: Hand this book out with a pack of tissues. It is a beautiful, soul wrenching read. Even though you know how it’s going to end, it still hurts.

Realistic Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


Poston, Ashley. Soul of Stars. Balzar and Bray, 2019. 978-0-062-84733-1. 424 p. $17.99. Grades 7-12.

The sequel to Heart of Iron continues the sprawling space saga without missing a beat. Six months after escaping the HIVE-instigated battle for the Ironblood crown, Anna and her cobbled together family on the spaceship Dossier are trying to find the mythical Great Dark, the evil that is overtaking the universe. She is bereft by the betrayal of Di, her Metal best friend, but still believes his original core is intact. A search for the rumored individual who brought a Metal back from the HIVE goes dangerously wrong, and Anna and the crew find themselves on a chase across galaxies to find an object, the heart, that will allow The Dark to assume complete control. However, Anna learns that destroying the heart will also destroy all the HIVE’d Metals, and she faces an unbearable choice. The pace rarely slows down, but not at the cost of character development. Each of our favorite characters, human and Metal, from Heart of Iron plays an integral part in the story as secrets are uncovered and identities revealed, for a satisfying conclusion to the story.

THOUGHTS: Purchase the book for fans of Heart of Iron, but also use it as an opportunity to reintroduce the series to fans of Star Wars

Science Fiction          Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD