MS NF – Jackie Robinson; Newsmakers; Beauty Hacks; Captured Science History

Rappaport, Doreen. 42 is Just Not a Number. Candlewick Press, 2017. 978-0-7636-7624-7. $15.99. 119 p. Gr. 4-8.

This reading experience brings to life Jackie Robinson, the Hall-of-Fame athlete who donned the famous baseball jersey number 42. Readers will learn more about Jackie Robinson’s childhood, and his success at UCLA where he became the first student-athlete to letter in four sports. After college, readers may be shocked to learn that Jackie was drafted into the war. The segregation and racism that Jackie experienced as a child, a college student, a serviceman, and a negro league baseball player is detailed in the book. Jackie did not allow the cruelty he received to dash his dreams or those individuals that would follow. It was the moral integrity on top of his athletic skills that drew interest from manager Branch Rickey. The legacy of Robinson is clearly presented. A timeline at the end organizes the important dates and events.  Thoughts: The writing and research are solid. The addition of illustrations or photographs could have added to the reading experience for students.

Biography     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Moritz, Rachel.  Julian Assange: Founder of Wikileaks (Newsmakers series). ABDO, 2018. 9781680789645  $23.00.  48 p.  Gr. 3-6.

This book is divided into five chapters. Supplemental information includes dates, glossary, and index. Captions are in blue font. Primary source information is included. In this book, background information about the history of computer hacking is included in a fact box as readers learn about Assange’s computer interests when growing up. Following the online link, there are common core activities that can be used in the classroom along with web links including additional information.  Additional titles in the second edition of the Newsmaker series include Fidel Castro, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Ivanka Trump.  THOUGHTS: These books are contemporary biographies to add to your collection. The additional features in the book can be helpful for class research or individual curiosity.

Biography      Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Rissman, Rebecca. Beauty Hacks. Capstone, 2018.  978-1-5157-6835-7. 40 p. $93.36 set of 4. Gr. 4-8.

Books in this series include Makeup & Skin Hacks , Fashion Hacks, Hair Hacks and Nail, Hand, and Feet Hacks. A recipe for body scrubs is one of the many hands-on activities included in Makeup and Skin. The directions provide pictures and detailed steps. Directions for ombre dye and tie-dye leggings can be found in Fashion Hacks. Each section has clearly identified headings and engaging magazine-like layout.  THOUGHTS:  The book will appeal to students that enjoy fashion magazines like Teen Vogue or Seventeen. With the wide topics and strong binding, these books will have staying power.

600s, Fashion      Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District


Captured Science History. Compass Point, 2018.  978-0-7565-5660-0.  $103.96 set of four. 64 p. Gr. 5-9.

Double Helix: How an image sparked the discovery of the secret of Life by Danielle Smith-Llera contains four chapters, a timeline, glossary, additional resources and an index. The other books in this set are Hubble Deep Field, Finding the Titanic, and Mars Rover. The layout of the book includes effective use of whitespace. The engaging writing style generates the excitement that the deoxyribonucleic acid discovery generated. Background information and contemporary questions regarding DNA are detailed. Featured individuals include biophysicist Rosalind Franklin and her important photograph “Photo 51”, and one of the first molecular biologists, Oswald Avery, The timeline includes pictures to reinforce the facts. The book concludes with a glossary, additional resources, critical thinking questions, and an index.  THOUGHTS: This is a wonderful series to add to a collection to engage students and enhance science research projects. Other Captured series from Capstone include Captured Sports History and Captured World History. All series have the same exquisite layout.

Science, Technology     Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District

YA Fiction – Spliced; One Memory of Flora Banks; Crown’s Fate; Liberty

McGoran, Jon.  Spliced.  Holiday House, 2017.  978-0-8234-3855-6. 368 p.  $18.95.  Gr. 8 and up.

Jimi lives in Philadelphia, sometime in the future when the “zurbs” no longer have power and and much of North America has flooded.  Her next-door neighbor and best friend, Del, makes her miss the bus to school one day, so they walk to school.  On the way they witness a police officer becoming overly violent while he is apprehending some chimeras.  (Chimeras are humans who have voluntarily spliced their genes with animal genes.)  Jimi and her friend get involved in the melee which leads them on a path filled with danger and adventure.   Woven into the story are parallels to our political climate and current events, such as police brutality, hate groups, environmental warnings, as well as some cautionary tales about technological advances. McGoran stretches the dystopian genre and makes this well-worn genre seem fresh again with this book.  THOUGHTS:  Students who enjoy action-packed dystopian stories will enjoy this, but you could also hand this to someone concerned about the environment or hate groups.

Dystopian, Action/Adventure     Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School


Barr, Emily. The One Memory of Flora Banks. Philomel, 2017. 978-0-399-54701-0. 290 p. $15.99. Gr. 9-12.

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks suffers from anterograde amnesia. While she can remember events from her early childhood, she has been unable to create new memories since she was ten years old. This all changes, however, when she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend. She remembers everything about their kiss. Thinking that perhaps Drake is the key to curing her condition, she sets off to find him in Svalbard, Norway, where he has gone to study abroad. Throughout her journey, Flora makes discoveries about herself, about her past, and about Drake that lead her to question everything she thought was real.  A touching story of bravery, self-discovery and independence, this book will speak to any teen who desires the freedom to make his/her own decisions which is pretty much every teen. THOUGHTS: At the heart of this book is a great amount of repetition: Flora must constantly read her notes to herself about who she is and what she has done in order to figure out why she is doing what she is doing. Her thoughts are often jumbled and bounce back and forth between memories of her childhood and reminders about who she is now.  Obviously, the purpose of this is for the reader to be able to relate to her condition, although this could potentially bore and/or confuse some readers.  In Flora’s conversations with Drake, there are some sexual references which makes this book more appropriate for high school audiences. While there are not many young adult books on the market that deal with this particular type of amnesia, the 2004 movie 50 First Dates, starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, focuses on anterograde amnesia.  Therefore, this movie and Barr’s book could possibly be paired for a unit on amnesia in a psychology course.

Realistic Fiction      Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD


Barr, Melissa. The One Memory of Flora Banks. Philomel Books, 2017.  978-039954710. 304p. $15.99.  Gr. 7 and up.

Flora Banks has been unable to form a new memory since she was ten years old.  Every day when she wakes up, and sometimes in the middle of the day, she doesn’t know who or where she is.  Flora’s coping mechanisms for this are impressive; notes to herself, writing on her arms, a notebook that re-explains her condition to herself.  It is fascinating to imagine what that would feel like, but this book is so much more that that.  The story becomes very complex, and the reader does not know what the truth is.  Which of the characters in the book are reliable?  THOUGHTS: This is a compelling read that fans who have outgrown Wonder and Out of My Mind will enjoy. Fans of e. Lockhart’s We Were Liars will also enjoy this.

Realistic Fiction     Toni Vahlsing, Abington Friends School


Skye, Evelyn. The Crown’s Fate. Balzar + Bray, 2017. 978-0-06-242261-3. $17.99. 417 p. Gr. 8 and up.

In this sequel to The Crown’s Game, Imperial Russia is teetering on the brink of chaos. Pasha must convince his countrymen he is the legitimate heir to the throne. Vika, the Imperial Enchanter after Nikolai sacrificed himself for her, pines for her former companion, resents Pasha for causing his death, and chafes under the authority of Yuliana, Pasha’s sister. But Vika becomes aware that Nikolai is not fully dead but living in a land of shadows. As he becomes stronger and more corporeal, Nikolai also becomes more evil, exposing magic to the unsuspecting populace and challenging Pasha for the throne.  Can Vika save herself, let alone her dearest friends and the empire? THOUGHTS : A thoroughly satisfying sequel filled with magic, well-developed characters and a fascinating alternate history of Imperial Russia.  The ending leaves the possibility of further books.

Fantasy, Romance     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


Portes, Andrea. Liberty. HarperTeen, 2017. 978-0-06-242199-9. $17.99. 388p. Gr. 9 and up.

Paige’s parents have been missing for two years, and no one is telling Paige if they are dead or alive. Journalists, the pair was grabbed on their way to Damascus. Now Paige is in college, attempting to live in a state of suspended animation. But Paige, who speaks five languages and is an expert in several forms of martial arts, captures the attention of a super-secret government agency (after taking out two guys with AK-47s at the Altoona Applebee’s restaurant), and they have a deal for her. If she helps them learn what information a government hacker currently stranded in Russia possesses, they will reopen her parents’ case. Hard for a girl to say no, so off to Russia she goes, where she meets the mysterious Katerina and is befriended (a new experience for Paige) by the son of a Russian mob boss. THOUGHTS: The funniest book I have read in years, Liberty covers many headline issues – ISIS, Putin, Edward Snowden – with a scathing, snarky voice. Paige continuously addresses the reader, frequently advising her to google a particular topic, then come back to the book. Some readers may need to do that, to comprehend every nuance of the plot, but it is worth the time it takes. A totally delightful book, with implied sequels to come.

Mystery     Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor SD


YA Realistic Fiction – Aftercare Instructions; History of All You Left Me; Solo; When Dimple Met Rishi

Pipkin, Bonnie. Aftercare Instructions. Flatiron Books, 2017. 978-1-125-011484-6. 368 p. $17.99. Gr. 10 and up.

Genesis, named for the band, is hurting. Her life has been full of pain and letdowns. Gen tells her story of being abandoned at an abortion clinic in New York City. As promised, she told no one about the pregnancy, not even her best friend, but Peter ditched her, and now she needs help. She’s from New Jersey and has to make her way back home on her own. Dark and disturbing, Aftercare Instructions focuses on Genesis’s post-abortion fallout, as she tries to understand her failed relationship and figure out when she and Peter grew apart. As Gen spirals out of control to forget Peter and the pain of losing him, she needs to figure out who she is on her own.  This unique storyline is interspersed with procedural and post-procedural instructions, flashbacks to her relationship with Peter, while revealing Gen’s current struggle to forgive or forget Peter. As if this wasn’t unique enough, Pipkin incorporates a four act throughout the novel play that gives voice to those in Gen’s life.  THOUGHTS: Aftercare Instructions gives teens an intimate view of one girl’s choices and the repercussions of them. Descriptions of sex, abortion, and teen binge drinking may not be suitable for younger readers.

Realistic Fiction      Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD


Silvera, Adam. History is All You Left Me. Soho Teen. 2017. 978.1616956929 294 pp.  $18.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Griffin and Theo are each other’s first loves and part of a tight knit, three piece “squad” with their friend Wade. Theo, smart, creative and confidant, is a life line for Griffin who suffers from an array of obsessive compulsive tics and anxieties. Griffin feels grounded and safe in the company of Theo and Wade. But in a surprise development, Theo decides to graduate high school early and head off to college in California, leaving the squad behind. Griffin is forlorn and reluctantly breaks up with Theo to give him his freedom in his new life.  Within months, Theo has found a new love at school and Griffin, increasingly isolated and anxious, begins to unravel at home.  Griffin and Theo’s new boyfriend are at odds;  Griffin continues to obsess over Theo, and the relationship between the three friends changes dramatically. When Theo dies in an accident, Griffin, Wade and Theo’s new love, Jackson, look to each other to mend their broken hearts. The story is told in chapters that flash back and forth from the beginnings of the friendship between the squad, the development of Theo and Griffin’s romance, the long winter when Theo left and fell in love with another,  and the aftermath of Theo’s death.   This emotional and heart-wrenching tale examines the paths people take to come to terms with heartbreak, grief, guilt and self-doubt and come out stronger in the end.  THOUGHTS: A strong and positive portrayal of LGBT relationships with well-drawn , complex characters and a nuanced plot that explores sexuality, mental health, friendship, and loss. A rewarding read.  

Realistic Fiction     Nancy Summers, Abington SD


Alexander, Kwame and Mary Rand Hess. Solo. Blink, 2017. 978-0-310-76183-9. 464 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.

Blade is a seventeen year old who has grown up living the life of a rock star legend’s son,  the good and the bad sides. He’s had everything he could ever want, but he grew up in the public eye with paparazzi watching out for every misstep. His life hasn’t been without tragedy either. At nine he lost his mother, and his father lost himself to addictions. Blade and his sister grew up with broken promises of sobriety.   When his father literally crashes one of the biggest moments of his life, Blade has had enough. He’s witnessed enough broken promises to fill a lifetime and cannot forgive his father this time. Blade begins to question everything he has known when a deeply hidden family secret comes to light. A journey from the hills of Hollywood to a village in Ghana may be just what he needs to rediscover who Blade Morrison is and for what he stands.   THOUGHTS: Like Alexander’s sports themed The Crossover and Kicked, Solo is told in verse. With the music inspired characters, this time the story is interspersed with song lyrics, many by main character Blade Morrison. Fans of music, especially rock and roll, will appreciate the references and lyrics. Within the short lines, there is much more than music. Family contentions, addiction and substance abuse, as well as one’s identity are all pieces of the puzzle. This book has so much more to offer all readers, and reluctant readers especially will enjoy its brief verse style.

Realistic Fiction       Maryalice Bond, South Middleton School District


Alexander, Kwame and Mary Rand Hess. Solo. Blink, 2017. 978-03107-61839. $17.99. 464 pp.  Gr. 9 and up.

Blade Morrison hates most of his life. Seventeen and about to graduate from high school, he has grown up the son of ultra-famous rock star, Rochester Morrison.  But fame, wealth, and a Hollywood Hills address can’t make up for the spiral of drug use and unsuccessful rehab stints his father has failed to master since Blade’s mother’s death eight years ago.  The tabloids, the paparazzi, his father’s embarrassing episodes are building up anger in Blade.  The few bright spots are his secret girlfriend, Chapel, his talent and love for songwriting and guitar, his music mentor Robert, and sometimes, even his older sister.  But his anger leads to a secret family revelation, he was adopted which shakes his identity even further.  Impetuously, he heads to Ghana to locate his birth mother, but not until he smashes a priceless guitar that was a gift from his father and inks his arm “Chapel” just before he finds Chapel kissing her former boyfriend.  Needless to say, Blade is swimming in agony and anger as he leaves the States.  This is an extremely well-written novel in terms of word choice, rhythm and interest; it is clever in so many word and musical ways.  The use of American music to illustrate various situations lends insight and easily leads the reader to seek out (or call up a mental soundtrack) specifically mentioned songs, largely blues and rock.  I caught enough clever musical references to be certain I missed many more.  However, character development and the overall storyline are largely unbelieveable.  Blade changes too quickly and completely from self-centered, angry, whiny, privileged son of a rock star who hates said rock star into calm, open-minded, hopeful young man at peace with his music, his father, and his place in the world.  And this change is due to what?  Two weeks in Ghana to locate his birth mother?  Other characters and changes are fairly unbelieveable as well, mainly his father’s decision (yet again) to change, and certainly his new love interest, ultra-wise Joy, in Ghana.  Blade switches from devotion to his American ex-girlfriend who cheats on him, to new-found Joy (pun intended) within days, again, unrealistically, lustfully, or at least unhealthily.  THOUGHTS:  Overall, this is an enjoyable read for the fantastic writing skill, abundant music knowledge, and obvious love of music, but the story lacks verisimilitude.  

Realistic Fiction      Melissa Scott, Shenango Area School District


Alexander, Kwame. Solo. New York: Harper Collins, 2017. 978-0-310-76183-9. 464 p. $17.99. Gr. 8 and up.

Kwame Alexander has struck again! In his signature verse, Alexander’s newest novel, Solo, is reminiscent of The Crossover and Booked, but with decidedly more mature content and characters. Blade is tired of being let down by his father, former rock star, Rutherford Morrison; he’s tired of Rutherford’s grand gestures that inevitably end up with Blade humiliated, or Rutherford back in rehab. Blade finds comfort in two things: his music and his very serious girlfriend, Chapel. When a bombshell revelation from Blade’s sister coincides with a betrayal from Chapel, Blade decides to travel to Ghana to find some answers to his questions about who he is, and where he came from. While Blade lacks some of the charm and likability that Josh (The Crossover) and Nick (Booked) both displayed, he’s still a compelling character. His passion for music is endearing, and his all-encompassing relationship with Chapel is definitely relatable. Give this to fans of Alexander who have outgrown the middle grade section of the library. Thoughts: While I really enjoyed this book, I found Blade’s trip to Ghana slightly unrealistic. Not only did Blade just get on the plane without any pre-planning whatsoever, he had no trouble navigating through a foreign country nor did he encounter any obstacles once he arrived at his destination.  

Realistic Fiction Lauren Friedman-Way, The Baldwin School


Menon, Sandyha. When Dimple Met Rishi. Simon Pulse, 2017. 978-1481478687. 384 pp. $26.00. Gr. 9-12.

Dimple Shah lives and breathes web development, so she’s thrilled when her parents agree to let her attend Insomnia Con in San Francisco during the summer before she enrolls at Stanford University. Rishi Patel is also at Insomnia Con, partly to participate in the intense six-week app coding contest, and partly to meet Dimple, whom his parents have selected as his potential marriage partner. Unbeknownst to Dimple, her parents are also in on this scheme to pair her with an “I.I.H.” (Ideal Indian Husband). Rishi introduces himself by saying, “Hello, future wife!” and a mortified Dimple flings her iced coffee at him and scurries away. To her chagrin, Rishi has requested her as a partner for Insomnia Con, and when they start working together Dimple realizes that Rishi is artistic, funny, and sincere. Rishi, meanwhile, likes Dimple’s smile and all-in approach to pursuing her goals. Their perspectives alternate as they explore San Francisco and develop their app initiatives amidst hipsters, hippies, and not-so-friendly competitors. Menon’s wonderful debut novel is spared from predictability by witty banter, a cool setting, and flipping stereotypical relationship roles upside down (Rishi is the one hoping for an arranged marriage, and Dimple is focused on her work). THOUGHTS: This delightfully of-the-moment rom-com, complete with coding and caffeine, belongs in every teen collection!

Realistic Fiction, Romance     Amy V. Pickett, Ridley School District

Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel could not be more different.  Dimple is an independent young woman, passionate about coding, who feels confined by her parents’ expectations – specifically her mother’s, who seems bent on making Dimple into the perfect wife.  Rishi is a rule follower to his core; he wants nothing more to please his parents, even if that means setting aside his own dreams.  Rishi is thrilled with the idea of an arranged marriage with Dimple, something that he’s known about, and daydreamed about, for a long time.  Dimple, on the other hand, has no idea that there is any arrangement with Rishi, and anyway, marriage is the last thing on her mind.  So when the two of them meet for the first time at Insomnia Con, a summer coding program, it goes hilariously awry, beginning with Dimple pouring her iced coffee all over Rishi when she thinks he’s a stalker.  Sandhya Menon has written a delightful, smart, funny romantic comedy, starring two protagonists who think they know exactly what they want out of their lives, but after some unexpected revelations, realize maybe there’s more out there for both of them.  While the ending is a little too neat and tidy, it’s gratifying to see Dimple and Rishi become the people they were meant to be. THOUGHTS:  I loved this book. Dimple and Rishi are extremely relatable, and I enjoyed the reversal of gender expectations; Dimple is focused solely on college and a career, whereas Rishi is excited by the prospect of having a wife and family.  The way Menon depicts microaggressions, and the different ways that Rishi and Dimple deal with them – Dimple clams up, and Rishi confronts it head-on – is both realistic and poignant.  While the supporting characters are a little stereotypical, it doesn’t detract from the story at all.  Highly recommended for all high school libraries!

Realistic Fiction; Romance    Lauren Friedman-Way, The Baldwin School

Upper Elem/MS NF – Way Things Work Now; Some Writer


Macauly, David. The Way Things Work Now: From Levers to Lasers, Windmills to Wi-Fi, A Visual Guide to the World of Machines. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.  978-0-544-82438-6. 400 p. $35.00. Gr. 3-8.

Technology has changed considerably since the first edition of Macauley’s best- selling classic The Way Things Work was published in 1988. This newest update is rife with the classic and beautiful illustrations and cutaways that are his hallmark. The wooly mammoth is back again and many of the entries are the same or only slightly revised from the previous editions.  Macauley’s clear and concise prose provides explanations of the most notable inventions and technologies and the scientific principles that link many of mankind’s greatest achievements. The clever puns and jokes are still there and the illustrations are noticeably more vibrant.  THOUGHTS: This edition includes dozens of new entries on the many developments of our digital age including the World Wide Web, smartphones and hybrid cars, which make this update a welcome and necessary addition to every elementary and middle school library; heck high schoolers will appreciate it as well.  

600; Technology     Nancy Summers, Abington SHS



Sweet, Melissa. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 978-0544319592. $18.99. 161pp. Gr. 3-6.

Perennial favorite children’s author E. B. White’s life and career are reviewed in this charming bio by Caldecott Honor winning author, Melissa Sweet.  Beautifully designed pages with gorgeous illustrations, photographs and collages reveal his charmed life, his treasured childhood memories, his happy marriage, his lifelong love of nature and animals and his gift for writing. Sweet blends White’s own words from his classic tales and his personal correspondences into her well researched and inspiring tribute. Young and old fans alike will enjoy reading about his retreat in Maine, which served as an inspiration for his best loved work, Charlotte’s Web. The book includes an afterword by the author’s granddaughter, a timeline, an bibliography and an index. THOUGHTS: A delightful biography of a beloved American wordsmith and a recommended title for elementary libraries. Terrific!

Biography      Nancy Summers, Abington SHS

MS/YA Series NF – EL Info Age; Deadliest Spiders; Drug Dangers


Essential Library of the Information Age. Minneapolis: ABDO, 2017. $24.95ea. $149.70 set of 6. 112p. Gr. 8-12.

Eboch, M.M. Big Data and Privacy Rights. 978-1-68078-282-0.

Higgins, Melissa and Michael Regan. Net Neutrality. 978-1-68078-286-8.

Laine, Carolee. Book Banning and Other Forms of Censorship. 978-1-68078-283-7 .

Laine, Carolee. Content Ownership and Copyright. 978-1-68078-284-4.

Perdew, Laura. Information Literacy in the Digital Age. 978-1-68078-285-1.

Perdew, Laura. Online Identity. 978-1-68078-287-5.

The Essential Library of the Information Age examines the sometimes contentious and controversial issues that are present in today’s digital world. As the internet and digital world has evolved and changed, so too have the ways individuals deal with issues such as privacy, identity, censorship, copyright, access to information, and content ownership. Each volume of this series investigates one of these controversial topics in-depth. Each book includes an overview of the topic under discussion, presented in terms understood by laypeople. Also included is historical background information on the topic. Controversies surrounding each topic are fully discussed, with equal weight given to both sides of the issue. Numerous real-life examples are presented within the text and also included in sidebars. Other sidebars serve to define and further explain  information concepts.  THOUGHTS: This series does an admirable job of presenting what can be difficult to understand topics (net neutrality, for example) in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. Illustrative examples of issues are relevant to to the topics being discussed and further enhance understanding. Recommend for purchase in schools where research/projects warrant.   

Technology      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS



Deadliest Predators. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $29.95 ea. $179.70 set. 80 pp. Gr. 5 and up.

Abramovitz, Melissa. Deadliest Sharks. 978-68282- 0544.

Altman, Toney. Deadliest Mammals. 978-168282- 00506.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Reptiles. 978-168282- 0520.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Snakes. 978-68282- 0568.

Hirschmann, Kris. Deadliest Spiders. 978-68282- 0582.

Nardo, Don. Deadliest Dinosaurs. 978-168282- 0483.

These titles aim to give details on the “deadliest” animals of their type. In Deadly Dinosaurs, this task is done by offering six chapters, each devoted to a different predator: T. Rex (which likely lumbered like an elephant), Carcharodontosaurus (whose first discovered bones were destroyed by a WWII bomb hitting Munich), Spinosaurus (whose bony spinal “sail” could have been used to intimidate predators), Troodon (which appears to have been the smartest of all dinosaurs), Sonorithosaurus (which had feathers and wings—for gliding not flying), and Predator X (the seas’ top predator). Predator X was huge and “had teeth that would have made a T. rex whimper” (60). Not for arachnophobes, Deadliest Spiders provides a detailed view of the world’s spiders to avoid. Photos and illustrations are kept to one per two-page spread, leaving ample room for more detail and color. Six spiders are covered in ten pages each: the Black Widow Spider (and its well-known red marking), the Brazilian Wandering Spider (which wins the title of world’s most venomous spider), the Chilean Recluse (whose venom works to liquefy its victims’ internal organs), Sydney Full-Web Spider (whose nocturnal and underground habits fortunately limit its encounters with humans), the Eastern Mouse Spider (native to Australia), and the Indian Ornamental Tarantula (due to their beautiful markings and calm nature, these are popular as pets). Each spider’s physical characteristics, homeland and hunting patterns are discussed, followed by descriptions of the effects of its venom and a caution to steer clear or proceed cautiously with any spider. Nardo closes with useful source notes, glossary, further research list, and index.  THOUGHTS: A descriptive series that will attract readers for its topics and its content.

500s Animals; Dinosaurs        Melissa Scott, Shenango High School


Drug Dangers. San Diego: Reference Point Press, 2016. $29.95 ea. $239.60 set. 80 pp. Gr. 5 and up.

Allen, John. The Dangers of Heroin. 978-168282- 0186.

MacKay, Jenny. The Dangers of Hallucinogens. 978-168282- 0162 .

Marcovitz, Hal. The Dangers of Methamphetamine. 978-168282- 0223.

Mooney, Carla. The Dangers of Marijuana. 978-168282- 0209.

Mooney, Carla. The Dangers of Synthetic Drugs. 978-168282- 0261.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of Alcohol. 978-168282- 00124.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of E-Cigarettes. 978-168282- 0148.

Parks, Peggy J. The Dangers of Painkillers. 978-168282- 0247.

Both The Dangers of Hallucinogens and The Dangers of Painkillers are structured with five chapters which cover the scope of the problem, the drug’s effects, how addictive the drug is, treatment options, and prevention of drug abuse. The format is inviting, with photographs, graphs, or sidebars added to enhance the material. The limits of the law are considered, as are challenges to the law, and difficulties that medical professionals regularly see. It is noted that teenage athletes are at risk for painkiller abuse due to injuries for which doctors prescribe painkillers. The “street names of hallucinogens” is a helpful sidebar.  THOUGHTS: Overall, this a solid series that updates readers with current situations.

362.29 Drugs and Alcohol      Melissa Scott, Shenango High

MS series NF – Figurative Language; Engineering; Energy


Johnson, Robin. Figuratively Speaking series. St. Catherines, Ontario: Crabtree, 2016.  32 p. $20.75 ea. $83.00 set. Gr. 5-8

Understanding Personification. 978-0-7787-1777-5.

Understanding Metaphors. 978-0-7787-1776-8.

Understanding Similes. 978-0-7787-1775-1.

Understanding Sayings. 978-0-7787-1778-2.

This series is visually appealing, combining recent images and colorful fact boxes. Each volume begins with a foundation of the topic and is then crafted into four sections entitled, Figure it Out!, Talking About It!, Write About It!, and Now It’s Your Turn!. The books also support a five step writing process with clear examples. In the book Understanding Sayings, one topic is the saying from Aesop’s Fables “The Crow and the Pitcher.” The sayings include “eat crow”, “little by little does the trick”, and “necessity is the mother of invention”. This allows for discussion with students to define prior to reading and then after reading the fable. In the book Understanding Metaphors, there is a section called Understanding Metaphors in Poetry. An excerpt from “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes is included. This exposes students to different vocabulary words. Thoughts: I chose to use Understanding Sayings and Understanding Metaphors  to supplement lessons for sixth grade. Because the books are highly visual with colorful photographs, the book was shared to the class using the document camera. While this series provides examples for teachers to use with instruction, students may not necessarily select this book for independent reading prior to being introduced to the series.

428; Figurative Language, Idioms      Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School



Engineering in Action series. St. Catherines, Ontario: Crabtree, 2016.  32 p. $20.75 ea. Gr. 5-8.

Rooney, Anne. Agricultural Engineering and Feeding the Future. 978-0-7787-7504-1.

Sjonger, Rebecca. Geotechnical Engineering and Earth’s Materials and Processes. 978-0-7787-7506-5.

Sjonger, Rebecca. Biomedical Engineering and Human Body Systems. 978-0-7787-7505-8.

Snedden, Robert. Materials Engineering and Exploring Properties. 978-0-7787-7514-0.

The page layout is reminiscent of a scrapbook including colorful or historical pictures, and notes that appear clipped or pinned to the page. Agricultural Engineering includes topics such as photosynthesis and feature biographies including Jethro Tull. Human body system charts and ways to improve design are found in the Biomedical Engineering. Materials Engineering explains the Periodical Table and prototypes. Geotechnical Engineering includes a lively diagram of the rock cycle and architectural marvels such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Channel Tunnel.  Each book contains a challenge to test out the career field followed by additional books and online information, a glossary and index. The titles listed above are the most current publications in the large series. THOUGHTS: This series allows students to explore areas of science that interest them while providing several activities for students to see if the career might be just right for them.  Make guidance counselors aware of the series to enhance their lessons or so they can share with students aspiring to enter STEM fields.

600s; STEM   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School



Next Generation Energy series. St. Catherines, Ontario: Crabtree, 2016.  32 p. $20.75. each. $249.00 set. Gr. 5-8.

Bow, James. Energy From Earth’s Core: Geothermal Energy. 978-0-7787-1979-3.

Bow, James. Energy From the Sun: Solar Power. 978-0-7787-1982-3.

Bow, James. Earth’s Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Overload. 978-0-7787-1978-6.

Dickmann, Nancy. Fracking: Fracturing Rock to Reach Oil and Gas Underground. 978-0-7787-1984-7.

Dickmann, Nancy. Energy From Nuclear Fission: Splitting the Atom. 978-0-7787-1981-6.

Dickmann, Nancy. Burning Out: Energy from Fossil Fuels. 978-0-7787-2372-1.

Dickmann, Nancy. Leaving our Mark: Reducing our Carbon Footprint.  978-0-7787-2381-3.

Dickmann, Nancy. Energy From Water: Hydroelectric, Tidal, and Wave Power.  978-0-7787-2380-6.

Kopp, Megan. Putting Earth First: Eating and Living Green.  978-0-7787-2382-0.

Kopp, Megan. Living in a Sustainable Way: Green Communities. 978-0-7787-2000-3.

Kopp, Megan. Energy From Wind: Wind Farming.  978-0-7787-1983-0.  

Stuckey, Rachel. Energy From Living Things: Biomass Energy.  978-0-7787-1980-9.

A wide range of topics including the  history of climate change, solar design, the role of geysers, renewable biomass, wind power issues, ecological footprint, composting, carbon offsets, nuclear fuel, use of fossil fuels, tidal power, and the basics of fracking is covered in this middle level series. Fact boxes have rewind and fast forward features and you choose features that push the reader to analyze beyond their situation. Activities allow students to put the content into  experiments. The books are presented in an organized layout with terms in bold font, topics in larger fonts, and captions to add to illustrations. Each book contains a glossary and a listing of books and websites to consult for the topics. THOUGHTS: Inspire additional reading for students and to correlate with standards in STEM research projects with this series. The experiments could be used in a class demonstration or as an interactive book talk with a class.

Science, Technology, Engineering   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

Series Nonfiction – Finance, Energy, Mythology, US History


Financial Security and Life Success for Teens (series). New York: Rosen, 2015. 80 p. $25.70 ea. Gr. 7-12.

Bickerstaff, Linda. Smart Strategies for Saving and Building Wealth. 978-1-4777-7626-1.

Harmon, Daniel E. Smart Strategies for Buying a Car. 978-1-4777-7622-3.

Landau, Jennifer. Smart Strategies for Sharing, Subletting or Renting an Apartment. 978-1-4777-7630-8.

Peterson, Judy Monroe. Smart Strategies for Investing Wisely and Successfully.978-1-4777-7618-6

Prentzas, G.S. Smart Strategies for Paying for College. 978-1-4777-7614-8.

Swanson, Jennifer. Smart Strategies for Turning an Idea into a Product or Service. 978-1-4777-7634-6.

Dealing with financial-related issues can be intimidating to many of today’s teens.  The purpose of Rosen’s Financial Security and Life Success for Teens series is to help students plan and strategize in order to properly manage their personal finances.  Each volume of the series addresses a financial-related topic (buying a car, investing, paying for college, etc.) that teens are likely to encounter in high school or shortly thereafter.  Each title offers step-by-step advice on how to plan and budget for the scenario under discussion.  Common myths about each topic are addressed and disproven.  Each volume also includes lists of questions to ask when preparing to make an investment (ie. what to ask the car salesman, what to ask a potential landlord, etc.).  Financial-related terms and concepts are defined and explained throughout the text.  THOUGHTS:  The title reviewed in this series, Smart Strategies for Buying a Car, did a credible job of making a financial-related topic accessible to secondary readers.  Each step of the car purchasing process is broken down and clearly explained.  Especially useful is the list of questions to ask the salesman prior to making a purchase.  Students facing decisions in any of the financial  issues under discussion will gain insight from this series.  

300s, 600s; Economics, Management    Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS


The Economics of Energy (series). New York: Cavendish Square, 2015. 80 p. $24.95 ea. Gr. 7-12.

Bjorklund, Ruth. The Pros and Cons of Hydropower. 978-1-6271-2930-5.

Bjorklund, Ruth. The Pros and Cons of Natural Gas and Fracking. 978-1-6271-2921-3.

Hicks, Terry Allan. The Pros and Cons of Biofuel. 978-1-6271-2933-6.

Hicks, Terry Allan. The Pros and Cons of Oil. 978-1-6271-2927-5.

Stefoff, Rebecca. The Pros and Cons of Coal. 978-1-6271-2918-3.

Sullivan, Laura. The Pros and Cons of Solar Power. 978-1-6271-2924-4.

Pro and con perspectives on various types of energy are the focus of this Cavendish Square series.  Each energy topic is introduced via a chapter discussing the history of the energy resource as well as descriptions of how the energy is harvested/created.  Further chapters explore the benefits and disadvantages for each type of energy and the future of the each energy in today’s world.  Fact boxes highlight topics of special interest or provide definition of key terms.  Critical thinking boxes ask questions of the reader in order to stimulate a deeper understanding of the topic (and might also serve as inspiration for research paper topics).  THOUGHTS:  These accessible volumes provide up to date information on current energy topics and trends.  Particularly of note to PA librarians may be the volume reviewed, The Pros and Cons of Natural Gas and Fracking, as fracking has become a large (and often controversial) part of the energy industry within the state.  Recommended for purchase in schools where energy-related research occurs.

333; Energy      Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

african myth

Mythology and Culture Worldwide (series). Farmington Hills, NJ: Lucent, 2015. 104 p. $39.40 ea. Gr. 7-12.

Kallen, Stuart A. African Mythology. 978-1-4205-1145-1.

MacKay, Jennifer. Hindu Mythology. 978-1-4205-1260-1.

Nardo, Don. Aztec Mythology. 978-1-4205-1166-6.

Nardo, Don. Celtic Mythology. 978-1-4205-1107-9.

Lucent Books has added four new titles to their existing Mythology and Culture Worldwide series in 2015.  Each title focuses on a popular (and frequently researched) single cultural/national mythology.  The origins of the mythology within the culture are presented and explored.  Key myths and mythological characters and gods/goddesses are explained and defined.  Connections are made between the mythology under discussion and culture that created the mythology.  Readers will learn how the mythology was influenced by the culture’s history, religion, social organization and geographical/natural resources.  Numerous full-color photos supplement the text, as well as charts that list key mythological characters, including descriptions and pronunciations.  THOUGHTS: This series does an excellent job of placing mythology within the overall context of the culture.  Readers will not only learn quite a bit about myths, but they will be well-informed on the history of the culture.  The text of the volume reviewed (African Mythology) was greatly enhanced by the inclusion of numerous high-quality images, both historical black and white and color photos, of cultural artifacts and scenes.  

290s; Mythology   Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS


In United States History (series). Berkley Heights: Enslow, 2015. 96 p. $20.95 ea. Gr. 6-12.

Fremon, David K. The Great Depression. 978-0-7660-6087-6.

Fremon, David K. The Salem Witchcraft Trials. 978-0-7660-6340-2.

Zeinert, Karen. McCarthyism and the Communist Scare. 978-0-7660-6345-7.

Enslow added to their existing In United States History series with the publication of these three titles.  The series spotlights key events in US History and are primarily intended for research projects and reports.  Each title explores the background and causes of each event (Great Depression, Salem Witch Trials, McCarthyism), then examines each topic in-depth, identifying and explaining key events as well as profiling figures associated with the event.  Each title also includes a limited number of black and white illustrations (photos, diagrams, etc.).  THOUGHTS:  This series is a solid addition to the shelves for student researchers.  The text is written at accessible level appropriate for middle and high school researchers.  Large margins and line spacing make the text easy to read.  While these titles are likely most appropriate for research purposes, students with an interest in the topic/event may find them enjoyable leisure reading material.     

300s; Economics, Law, Politics     Elizabeth Henry, Lampeter-Strasburg HS/MS

MS series Fiction continuation – Urban Outlaws


Black, Peter Jay. Urban Outlaws: Blackout. Bloomsbury: New York, 2015. 978-1-61963-592-0. 291 p. $16.99 Gr. 4-8.

In the second book of the Urban Outlaws series, a major computer virus has spread. Obi believes that his uncle changed the will of his parents after his parents died in a plane crash and asks his friends for help locating the document. In their quest to capture the crushingly powerful computer virus, the group meets Hector, a young adult who knows a ton about computers and believes that he can trap the virus.  But, the group wonders if they should trust Hector, which leads to conflict.  THOUGHTS: With characters lacking a traditional family, they come together to help solve a major computer virus showing that hard work pays off. This is the second book in the series, and I would advise that students read the books in order.

Action/Adventure      Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

Middle School Nonfiction – Scientists in Action (series); Child Soldier (NF GN)


Scientists in Action! (series). Broomall, PA: Mason Crest, 2016. 48 p. $20.95. each. Gr. 5-8.

Cassriel, Betsy R. Robot Builders! 978-1-4222-3426-6.

Kelley, K.C. Astronauts! 978-1-4222-3418-1.

Bailey, Diane. Biomedical engineers! 978-1-42223-420-4.

Glenn, John. Civil engineers! 978-1-42223-421-1.

Kelley, K.C. Marine biologists! 978-1-42223-425-9.

Rich, Mari. Big-animal vets! 978-1-42223-419-8; Cyper spy hunters! 978-1-42223-424-2,

Sutinis, Beth. Crime scene techs! 978-1-42223-423-5.

Thompson, Clifford. Archaeologists! 978-1-42223-417-4; Climatologists. 978-1-42223-422-8.

Icons draw attention to vocabulary, research projects and text-dependent questions in this new series from Mason Crest. Text is supported with catchy headings and colorful images. Just as Star Wars inspired scientist Dr. Dennis Hong to learn about robots, this series exposes readers to careers that they may have yet to consider. Readers will learn that robots are able to help soldiers in battle, safely explore the ocean and also assist doctors with surgery. If students have a passion for space, they can learn what they can do so they are prepared to apply to become an astronaut or a scientist in the field while learning first hand experiences of space related scientists. A listing of books and websites to read and learn additional facts and a series glossary of key terms and an index conclude each book. Thoughts: The series presents the many opportunities found in science while inspiring the possibilities that students invision for their future.

Careers and Occupations; Science  Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School



Humphreys, Jessica Dee and Michel Chikwanine. Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War. Illustrated by Claudia Davila. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2015. 978-1-77138-126-0.  48 p. $17.95 Gr. 5-8.

This SLJ star reviewed graphic novel is a harrowing nonfiction memoir that provides an overview of the Democratic Republic of Congo leading up to the story beginning in 1993. Children craft their own soccer balls of paper and plastic bags. During a soccer game, rebel militia arrive. Michel is hopeful that his father, a civil rights lawyer, won’t let the rebels succeed, but there is nothing that can be stopped at the time.  The kids are taken and later cut with a knife while the rebels place “brown brown” (gunpowder and cocaine mixture) in the wound. After being blindfolded, five year old Michel is ordered to kill his best friend. The book is powerful and the resources provide ways that children can make differences in the world.   THOUGHTS: Consider cataloging this book with the graphic novels. Students that enjoy graphic novels might not find the book in the 300’s and they might gain a great deal by reading this graphic novel. This book provides a story of growing up that may be unknown to students.

NF Graphic Novel; Children and War   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School

YA Nonfiction – Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom and Science, Technology, and Society (series)


Lowery, Lynda Blackmon.  Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March.  New York: Dial Books, 2015.  978-0-8037-4123-2. 127p. $19.99.  Gr. 7-12.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was the youngest marcher on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights.  In this book, she recounts this experience as well as other key events during the civil rights movement to which she was a witness, including speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., nonviolent sit-ins, and Bloody Sunday.  The text is broken up by both colorful  illustrations and black and white photographs from the time period.  The book also includes brief biographies of lesser known civil rights activists who lost their lives in the days before and after Bloody Sunday, as well as lyrics to a couple of freedom songs.  The author’s voice really comes out in the narrative, making the reader feel as though he or she is right there in the middle of the action.  THOUGHTS:A solid addition to any middle or high school history collection, this would be an outstanding choice for reluctant readers.  Not only is it a quick read, but it is very engaging and easy to follow.  Fans of Melba Patillo Beals’ Warriors Don’t Cry would also enjoy this title.

323.1196; Civil Rights Movement        Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School


Science, Technology, and Society (series). San Diego, CA: ReferencePoint Press, 2016. 80 p. $160. Gr. 7-12.

Allen, John. How Gene Therapy is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-898-8.

Green, Robert. How Renewable Energy is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-904-6.

Henderson, Harry. How Mobile Devices are Changing Society.  978-1-60152-902-2.

Mooney, Carla. How the Internet is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-900-8.

Nardo, Don. How Robotics is Changing Society. 978-1-60152-906-0.

This series gives an overview of five modern technological tools/scientific methods and discusses how each has impacted our society.  Each title focuses on one technological or scientific advancement and provides information about its history, use in society today, potential downfalls of its use, and its future.  Timelines, source notes, and additional resources are provided in each book.  The text is broken up by color photographs, magazine and newspaper excerpts, charts, graphs, and highlighted vocabulary words and definitions.  THOUGHTS:  These easily accessible titles provide up-to-date information and statistics on 21st century science and technology topics and are therefore useful for students conducting research on these innovations.  However, they will probably not be appealing to students looking for a leisurely read on these topics.

300s; 600s; Science and Technology              Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area High School