Elem. – Great Races (Series NF)

Great Races. Momentum, The Child’s World, 2020. $20.95 ea. $167.70 set of 8. 32 p. Grades 3-6.

Ford, Jeanne Marie. Race Around the World. 978-1-503-83219-0.
Havemeyer, Janie. Race to Mount Everest. 978-1-503-83223-7.
Hutchinson, Patricia. Race to Space. 978-1-503-83220-6.
Maurer, Gretchen. Race to the Bottom of the Ocean. 978-1-503-83224-4.
Perdew, Laura. Race to Discover Energy Independence. 978-1-503-83222-0.
—. Race to Renewable Energy. 978-1-503-83226-8.
Rea, Amy C. Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb. 978-1-503-83225-1.
—. Race to the Poles. 978-1-503-83221-3.

Author Amy C. Rea taps into touchstones of world history in these concise overviews. Race to the Atomic Bomb provides the highlights of the creation of the atomic bomb, starting with brief background of founding scientists and ending with a mention of the post World War II proliferation of nuclear weapons. Aimed at a young audience, the thirty-two page book traces the development of the atom bomb from the British James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in 1935 to Albert Einstein’s prodding Franklin Delano Roosevelt to form the Manhattan Project to the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Black and white photographs of major scientists and scenes give context for young readers. The book concludes with probing critical thinking questions. Includes contents, glossary, resources, index.

THOUGHTS: Young readers who need some knowledge of these topics may benefit from this series. Though the facts are true, they just skim the surface. For example, Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atom bomb merits a few lines. Relaying the number of deaths and including Truman’s reflection on the dreadfulness of the atom bomb does not convey the impact of such devastation. This series seems directed at a younger audience who are just learning about these events.

355.8 History          Bernadette Cooke, School District of Philadelphia

YA – Love & Olives

Welch, Jenna Evans. Love & Olives. Simon Pulse, 2020. 978-1-534-44883-4. $18.99. 352 p. Grades 7-12. 

On the outside it appears that Liv has everything figured out, but inside she’s struggling with a few things. For one, her long time high school boyfriend Dax just graduated, and he wants Liv to follow him to Stanford. She hasn’t found the right way to tell him that her heart is set on RISD, and anyway she might not even get in (and still has one more year). When a beat-up postcard for Liv arrives days before Dax’s senior trip – which Liv is supposed to go on – Liv feels her perfect outside begin to crumble. Dax doesn’t know this side of Liv. At her mom’s insistence, Liv is headed to Santorini, Greece to spend some time with her father, whom Liv hasn’t seen since she was 8. Since she hasn’t heard from him in years, Liv has many conflicted emotions about seeing her father again. Why after all this time does he think they can have a relationship. But Liv’s father’s love of Atlantis was a connection the two of them shared during her childhood, and an exciting special project helps them begin to reconnect after all those years. His persistent assistant Theo is a great buffer between the awkward moments, and Theo helps Liv experience Santorini. His good looks are a great distraction too, and as they work together and become friends Liv begins to question some of the choices she’s made in her own life. The clock on her visit is ticking, though, and Liv isn’t sure she can count on her father. Is their relationship beyond repair, and can Liv move on beyond her childhood broken heart?

THOUGHTS: Set among a gorgeous backdrop with detailed descriptions of Santorini, readers will fall in love with Greece. Liv/Olive/Kalamata/Indiana Olive has a lot to learn about herself, and readers will be rooting for her from the beginning. With a strong cast of characters and a little bit of mystery and romance, this book will be a hit among middle and high school students.

Realistic Fiction          Maryalice Bond, South Middleton SD

Elem – My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer

Eszterhas, Suzi. My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer. Owlkids Books, 2020. 978-1-771-47407-8. 31 p. $17.95. Grades 2-5.

Suzi Eszterhas always knew that she wanted to be a wildlife photographer. All of the hours she spent taking pictures of her cats in the backyard, observing squirrels and birds, and taking notes in her field book were great preparation for fulfilling that dream. Now, in a follow-up to her acclaimed 2017 release Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat’s Foster Mom, Eszterhas shares stories from over twenty years as a professional wildlife photographer. Two-page chapters on topics including “Prepping for Shoots,” “Living in the Field,” “Mothers and Babies,” and “Giving Back to Animals” feature plentiful full-color photographs. Meaningful captions add context and special behind-the-scenes information. In the final chapter, “Ask Suzi,” the author answers questions about the best part of her job, how to become a wildlife photographer, and her most memorable wildlife experiences. She also shouts out her organization, Girls Who Click, which helps girls fulfill their dreams of becoming wildlife photographers themselves. Moto and Me chronicled the year that Eszterhas spent fostering an orphaned serval and his growth from helpless kitten to independent cat. My Wild Life casts a wider net, featuring images of many different species and parts of the world.

THOUGHTS: With an eye toward conservation, Eszterhas presents a candid memoir of her wild life and career, acknowledging the challenges as well as the rewards. Young readers will love her story, and they will love her photographs even more!

770, Wildlife Photography          Amy V. Pickett, Ridley SD

Elementary Picture Books – Lionheart; Puppy; Airport Book; Rain Fish

lionheart

Collingridge, Richard. Lionheart. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-83321-9.  unpaged. $17.99. Gr. Pre-K – 2.

To face fears or run away is a dilemma that everyone must decide. When Richard feels a monster approaching at night, he and his stuffed toy lion chose to run. Their journey grows into an imaginary adventure of full of fear and wonder, until Richard meets his Lionheart and learns to ROAR! The shimmering lion and shadowy monster are brilliantly shown in paintings by Collingridge, and the boy himself is so relatable and emotional that students should be able to stand by him to the end. A captivating read about bravery, heart, and imagination.  THOUGHTS: This would make an interesting comparison text to Where the Wild Things Are. It could also start a writing prompt or theme around using stuffed animals to deal with problems.

Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, Mt. Nittany Elementary

 

puppy

Graves, Keith. Puppy!. New York, NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-62672-225-5. 24 pages. $16.99. Gr. K-2.

Trog is a cave kid who has cool toys (stick, rock, mud), but really wanted a pet! So, when he found a creature to keep, he called it puppy and took it home to be his. It turns out that having a pet can be difficult, especially when it eats everything and cries all the time. The humor in this cartoon picture book by Keith Graves will tickle young readers and keep them guessing. The final resolution makes sense, as does Trog’s laughable next attempt. Puppy! is a pet story that you won’t soon forget.  THOUGHTS:  Puppy! is a fine example of point of view for young readers, and also gives first time readers a sense of prediction and AHA moments!

Picture Book     Dustin Brackbill, Mt. Nittany Elementary

 

airportbook

Brown, Lisa. The Airport Book. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 978-1-62672-091-6. 32pp. $17.99. Gr K-3.

In simple, straightforward text, Lisa Brown walks young readers through the experience of travelling to an airport and boarding an airplane. A mixed-race family’s journey begins with a taxi ride from their city apartment to a large airport. They wait in lines at the ticket counter, to check their bags, to use the restroom, and to go through security. They maneuver past the bustling airport restaurants and shops until they reach their gate where they wait some more. Eventually, they board the plane, stow their luggage, listen to the safety announcements, buckle their seatbelts, and take off. While the family enjoys the flight from the plane’s main cabin, sharp-eyed readers will want to keep a close eye on the little girl’s sock monkey who takes a parallel journey in a checked suitcase. THOUGHTS:  Readers will enjoy people-watching and following other families through the airport as well, and if they look closely, they’ll spot famous aviators like Amelia Earhart and the Wright Brothers. The India ink and watercolor illustrations are brimming with action and perfectly capture the harried tempo of airport life.

Picture Book     Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

This is a book to be read over and over again, and during each repeated reading, children will notice new details in the illustrations. My kindergarten teachers were excited to add it to their transportation unit since it puts a new spin on what it’s like to take a plane ride. Overall, a winner for most collections.

 

rainfish

Ehlert, Lois. Rain Fish. New York: Beach Lane Books, 2016. 978-1-4814-6152-8. 36pp. $17.99. Gr. K-3.

This short, rhyming tale celebrates the creative spirit as Ehlert uses her imagination to see fish shapes formed from everyday found objects. She imagines that these fish emerge when blue skies turn gray and rain falls all day. Readers must examine each collage carefully to locate all the hidden fish. Fish are formed from everyday items such as cardboard, leaves, ticket stubs, feathers, paper plates, and bottle caps. The last page showcases many of the items Ehlert used to create her collages, and it will give readers ideas for items they might collect to make collages of their own.  THOUGHTS:  This book will be well-received by Ehlert fans, and the collection of objects that she used to create collages is perfect inspiration for a crafty extension activity following a read-aloud. Share this one with your art teacher.  

Picture Book      Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary, Southern York County

Mosquitoland

mosquitoland

Arnold, David.  Mosquitoland.  New York: Viking, 2015.  978-0-45147077-5. 342 p.  $17.99.  Gr. 7-12.

Mary Iris Malone (Mim) is a feisty, outspoken 16 year old who has been forced to leave her home and move to Mississippi with her father and new stepmother.  When she hears that her mother is sick, she steals her stepmother’s secret coffee can of money and buys a Greyhound ticket back to Cleveland.  Mim meets some unforgettable people along the way, including the grandmotherly Arlene, a menacing sexual predator she nicknames “poncho man”, and the devastatingly handsome boy in seat 17C.

Any travel story has its share of twists and turns, and Mim’s tale isn’t any different.  Mim’s bus overturns when a tire blows out, but she and the other surviving passengers soldier on.  “Poncho man” soon attempts to assault Mim in the bathroom of a roadside bus stop, so in Independence, Missouri, she decides to hitchhike the rest of the way to Ohio.  Later, when Mim falls asleep by a highway overpass, she is awakened by Walt, a homeless teenager with Down’s syndrome.  They quickly become traveling companions and mutual protectors.  In a fortunate twist of fate, their paths cross with the boy in seat 17C (whose real name is Beck Van Buren, 3rd year college dropout and photographer).  The three continue northward, not stopping to think about what will happen after Mim reaches Cleveland.  Of course, all journeys do come to an end, and Mim’s ends when her stepmother finds her at the family home in Cleveland.  Mim discovers the truth about her mother’s affliction and is now able to deal with the fact that people and things aren’t always as they seem to be.

Every character in Mosquitoland is memorable, but Mim’s strength, humor, and eccentricity are truly unforgettable.  The book is told from different perspectives; events are described as they happen, but there are also flashbacks to Mim’s time with her family, as well as diary entries addressed to “Isabel”.  Each perspective gives additional insight into the novel’s events.  By the end of the story, Mim has conquered many personal demons and found answers to some important life questions.

Realistic Fiction     Susan Fox, Washington Jr. /Sr. High School