January 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Grades 5 & Up | August 2008


ALTEBRANDO, Tara. What Happens Here. 242p. MTV. 2008. pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-1-4165-4111-0. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9–11—Living in Vegas, high school juniors Chloe and Lindsay are surrounded by imitations of the world’s greatest places. They’ve always been like sisters and they plan to travel the world when they’re older. Then, while Chloe and her family are on a European vacation, Lindsay is raped and murdered. Suddenly, in addition to mourning the loss of her best friend, Chloe must deal with the guilt of being the survivor. Complicating matters is her interest in Lindsay’s brother, which she knows that Lindsay did not want her to pursue. Chloe finds she is unsure of who she is in a world without her friend. What Happens Here could easily be two different books. The beginning is a light teen romance taking place in Europe between Chloe and fellow traveler Danny. It is in stark contrast to the second half, telling of an anguished teenager coming to grips with loss and her own identity. It’s a credit to Altebrando that she was able to make these two stories connect. Flashbacks to when Lindsay was alive show how affection and competitiveness complicate the girls’ friendship, and go a long way toward explaining Chloe’s feelings after her death. Despite the heavy topic, the novel is a quick-paced, contemporary story that encourages readers to make the most of life while they can.—Stephanie L. Petruso, Anne Arundel County Public Library, Odenton, MD

ATINSKY, Steve. Trophy Kid: Or How I Was Adopted by the Rich and Famous. 192p. Delacorte. Aug. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73049-5; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90181-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–7—As a toddler, Joe went from being a Croatian war orphan to the adopted child of Hollywood A-listers. As a 13-year-old, he’s convinced it was all a publicity stunt. When his parents decide it would be great PR for him to “write” his autobiography, ghostwriter Tom Dolan is hired. Joe, who feels as if he doesn’t belong in this family, is determined to find out more about his birth parents, and Tom agrees to help him. A trip to Dubrovnik is planned, and Joe’s father seizes it as an opportunity to kick off his campaign for senator by bringing the whole family—and a documentary filmmaker—along. Readers will most likely see before Joe does that his parents are guilty of nothing more than self-absorption, a flaw not limited to movie stars. But they will appreciate the widening of Joe’s world as he makes friends with “ordinary people” connected to Tom and begins to see his parents through the eyes of others. Joe’s belief that his birth father could still be alive adds some emotional heft, and the story’s resolution makes for a satisfying ending.—Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI

BANASH, Jennifer. The Elite. 251p. CIP. Berkley Jam. 2008. pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-425-22157-0. LC 2007052060.

Gr 9 Up—When her mother moves to London to do research, Casey finds herself living with her grandmother in a rent-stabilized apartment in a posh building on the Upper East Side of New York City. The Bram is the home to an assortment of the rich and fabulous, including Madison, Phoebe, and Sophie, three of Casey’s new classmates at the exclusive Meadowlark Academy. Casey quickly finds that her clothes and her pocketbook are not in the same league with those of the Bram Girls, but they form a wary friendship that will be tested by her budding interest in Madison’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Drew. Switching points of view among Casey, the Bram Girls, and Drew, Banash tries to cram too much into the pages, and her characters suffer. Solutions to Casey’s boy and money problems magically appear when needed. Sophie’s struggle to accept the news that she is adopted takes place largely off-page, and her cutting habit is mentioned only in passing. Phoebe’s adulterous mother is forgettable. Madison’s sob story of disastrous first sex actually makes her more interesting than most. Furthermore, Banash’s research is lacking. Her school scenes are unrealistic (AP Algebra?), her grannies play bridge like it’s poker, and her name-dropping of clothing labels with every new outfit (from exclusive designers to Target brands) is quickly annoying. Fans of “Gossip Girl” who can’t get enough of rich kids might enjoy this first in a series, but there are better offerings to be had.—Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, New York Public Library

BANNER, Catherine. The Eyes of a King. 435p. Random. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-83875-0; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93875-7. LC number unavailable.

Gr 6–9—Two 15-year-old boys’ lives are connected through parallel worlds—one medieval, one present day—in this debut fantasy. Leo’s routine life in his medieval country of Malonia changes after he finds a powerful blank book that mysteriously writes itself in two stories. One reveals how the present King Lucien usurped the throne from his brother, the rightful ruler. Lucien had his brother assassinated but spared his young son, his nephew Prince Ryan. Aldebaran, Leo’s great uncle, a powerful seer, prophesied that whoever harmed the prince would receive the same fate. Ryan is exiled to a mystical place called England where he lives while waiting to return to his homeland. A magical necklace belonging to Ryan’s family also disappeared when he was exiled. Anna, 15, lives in modern-day England and inherits her grandmother’s necklace. This is the first book in a proposed trilogy. The parallel worlds are well realized, particularly Malonia, but the characters lack depth. The book is confusing at times, and Leo’s story goes on for too long. Several tragic events cause him to become depressed, and his constant crying gets tedious. There is more emphasis on his story than on Ryan’s, but Ryan is more likable and his story more relevant to contemporary teens. Fantasy readers who like multilayered plots will pick up this lengthy book, but they may not stick with it.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

BENWAY, Robin. Audrey, Wait! 313p. CIP. Penguin/Razorbill. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59514-191-0. LC 2007023912.

Gr 9 Up—When 16-year-old Audrey decides to dump her band-singer boyfriend, she has no idea that he will go on to write a chart-topping song about their breakup. Music lovers will appreciate Audrey’s passion for her favorite bands and the song lyrics and music references that fill this novel. Other readers—particularly teen girls—will enjoy her reaction to sudden notoriety, as Audrey fends off paparazzi, unexpectedly finds herself in gossip magazines, and attempts to have a normal life despite it all. Her touching romance with an ice-cream-shop coworker hits some snags because of the situation, but Audrey perseveres. There are some good observations here about our society’s obsession with famous people, but mostly this is a light read about a high school junior in an unusual situation. While Audrey sometimes comes off as overly passive as she tries to ignore the events around her, and the ending is predictable, the story will keep teens reading. Audrey’s parents, her best friend, and her new love interest are all strong characters. An enjoyable first novel that’s sure to be a hit.—Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library

BOGGESS, Eileen. Mia the Melodramatic. 168p. (The Mia Fullerton Series). Bancroft. 2008. Tr $19.95. ISBN 978-1-890862-56-5. LC 2007942758.

Gr 6–9—This sequel to Mia the Meek (Bancroft, 2007), which follows the coming-of-age adventures of Mia Fullerton, an Iowa teen, takes place during the summer between her freshman and sophomore years of high school, when she discovers she is “the same…only different.” Mia is separated from her best friend, who is spending the summer at a MENSA camp, and her boyfriend, who has gone off to his grandparents in Maine. She is forced to get to know the crazy characters at Little Tyke’s Theatre, where she is working. Boggess does a wonderful job of taking a developed protagonist and stretching her in new directions. Mia stands up for herself when her boyfriend cheats, finds a new one, acts and sings onstage, and makes new friends. The novel is full of witty one-liners and hilarious descriptions of characters that keep the reading enjoyable. Mia’s angst is more lighthearted than edgy, making the novel appropriate even for precocious upper-elementary readers.—Terrilyn Fleming, Colby Public Schools, KS

BROOKS, Kevin. Black Rabbit Summer. 496p. CIP. Scholastic/The Chicken House. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-05752-3. LC 2007035322.

Gr 9 Up—For Pete, the summer after high school graduation is quiet and a bit lonely since his friends have drifted apart. When “the old gang” decides to meet one last time, Pete, Raymond, Nicole, Eric, and Pauly get together for a night of reminiscing and hanging out at a carnival. But their differences are now too big to overcome and the friendly gathering falls apart after too much drinking, drugs, and sexual tension. They make their way individually to the carnival, where the night ends badly. A former school friend, now a famous celebrity, goes missing, as does Raymond. Could these incidents be related? Could someone Pete thought of as a friend be a criminal? Pete gets drawn into the investigation, which puts his policeman father in a difficult position, and tries to do right by both the authorities and his friends—which are at odds with one another. All of the action happens in less than a week, yet the pace seems slow at times. This may be because of the ultrarealistic dialogue: “What?” “Are you sure?” “Yeah…I guess….” Still, the descriptions of places and events are evocative, the characters realistic, and the suspense gripping. Brooks has created a police procedural as well as a coming-of-age story. The ending leaves a big piece missing from the puzzle and may frustrate some readers.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT

CABOT, Meg. Airhead. 352p. Scholastic/Point. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-04052-5. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7–9—Cabot delivers yet another fun and frothy piece of escapism in this far-fetched but rousing roller-coaster ride of a novel. The plot centers on a freak accident at the new Stark Megastore. Emma Watts has a huge plasma TV land on her just as Nikki Howard, supermodel and the Face of Stark, enters the store and suffers a brain aneurism. Stark, determined to keep their moneymaking “face” alive, embarks on a risky venture that they have been doing for years, unbeknownst to anyone else. Now Emma’s brain is in Nikki’s body and her life will never be the same. If Emma tells anyone, her family will be slapped with millions in medical bills. Cabot pulls readers in and makes them care about Emma, her family, her best friend, and her secret crush. No one in the cast is completely fleshed out but there is some character development. This book is sure to fly off the shelves and leave readers breathlessly awaiting the promised sequel.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI

CARMAN, Patrick. Rivers of Fire. Bk. 2. 303p. (Atherton Series). Little, Brown. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-16672-0. LC number unavailable.

Gr 6–9—In this sequel to The House of Power (Little, Brown, 2007), manmade planet Atherton continues its calamitous changes. With Vincent and Dr. Kincaid, good-hearted Edgar, 11, warns Tabletop of the approaching hungry Cleaners. The villagers and Highland refugees must unite to survive grotesque creatures and unstable terrain. Samuel and Isabel travel beneath the sinking Highlands searching for Atherton’s secret water source. Interesting new locales inside Atherton and the altering lands above present fresh and familiar dangers and (somewhat predictable) discoveries. Answered are the mysteries of Edgar’s unconventional roots and the fates of Sir William (Samuel’s father) and Dr. Harding (Atherton’s creator). With third-person omniscient narration, Rivers of Fire has thought-provoking commentary on social hierarchy and environmental concerns. The action, looming peril, and unique concept make this book. Characterization shifts like the planet. Bookish, curious Samuel continues to test his mettle and daring Isabel shows vulnerability. Orphan Edgar takes on the role of Atherton’s caretaker, and evil Lord Phineus becomes a self-sacrificing parent. Readers will root for the perceptive, capable children and sympathize with their frustrations as they face well-meaning and sinister adults alike. The pencil illustrations, opening introduction, and character descriptions refresh and enhance the story. It’s important to have read the first book to appreciate and understand this one.—Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ

CARROLL, Michael. The Gathering. Bk. 2. 288p. (Quantum Prophecy Series). CIP. Philomel. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24726-2. LC 2007023692.

Gr 6–9—It has been 10 years since all the adult superhumans have been stripped of their powers, but their children have inherited superpowers too, and it’s their turn to fight the supervillains. Danny is still reeling from the loss of his arm and his superpowers and the reality that for years, a misguided shape-shifting superhuman impersonated his father. Colin is imbued with acute hearing, sight, and the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. His cousin, Renata, has the ability to change form. After their identities are leaked to the press, they are forced to hide out in a secret location where new superhumans are trained. Unbeknownst to them, their old enemy Dioxin, long thought dead, has joined forces with a powerful cult leader bent on destroying them all. He’s using Dioxin’s desire for revenge to help him discredit, kill, and divide them. They suspect there’s a traitor in their midst but it isn’t until their safe house is attacked that they discover who it is. This fast-paced and humorous science- fiction adventure may not be wholly original, but, with its part superhero, part James Bond characters, teens, particularly fans of graphic novels and Anthony Horowitz’s books, won’t mind. They will eagerly await the next entry in the series.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton

CLARE, Cassandra. City of Ashes. Bk. 2. 453p. (The Mortal Instruments Series). CIP. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1429-7. LC 2007014714.

Gr 9 Up—In this sequel to City of Bones (S & S, 2007), the nonstop action continues. The Shadowhunters are battling a world of demons that few people can see. Guided by the laws of the Clave, these hunters balance fighting with the other more mundane aspects of life—love, betrayal, and confusion. Jace, the fiercest teenage Shadowhunter, seems determined to make everyone around him angry, and is looked upon with suspicion because his father, Valentine, is out to rule the world. Meanwhile, love triangles abound, vampires are reborn, and general teenage angst blossoms among a group of friends and siblings. Set in an alternative present-day Manhattan, the story comes complete with Britney Spears references and even, ironically, refers to the scientific CSI. Well written in both style and language, it compares favorably to others in this genre. The human characters are well developed and quite believable. The whole book is like watching a particularly good vampire/werewolf movie, and it leaves readers waiting for the next in the series. Watch this one fly off the shelves.—Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children’s Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

COHEN, Tish. The One and Only Zoë Lama. illus. by author. 216p. CIP. Dutton. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47891-1. LC 2007028482.

Gr 4–7—Zoë Monday Costello has a talent for giving stellar advice to her classmates and teachers. Then she gets the chicken pox, and when she returns to school, sixth-grader Devon Sweeney has moved in on her territory, angling to become “the Devon Lama.” He seems to be every ounce of perfection that Zoë is not, and the seventh grader must use all of her tricks and know-how to bring the usurper down. Naturally, she learns that sometimes, in the name of compassion and understanding, you need to know when to fold ’em and help out a fellow classmate. In this sequel to The Invisible Rules of the Zoë Lama (Dutton, 2007), Cohen demonstrates that she can create a spunky and sassy character. Zoë is a hoot, and her friends and her Internet-savvy “g-ma” provide amusement galore. The photographs, doodlelike illustrations, and chapter titles add even more zing. Along with the laughs, Zoë also has real concerns and fears: Will moving out of her apartment cause the memories of her late father to fade? Should she be thankful for what she has and just let go of her ill feelings for Devon? The story has a message but it’s tempered by the humor. Recommend this stand-alone title to your feisty tween girls and hope that good karma will deliver another Zoë Lama adventure in the future.—Laura Lutz, Queens Borough Public Library, NY

COLLINS, B. R. The Traitor Game. 250p. Bloomsbury. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59990-261-6. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—Michael, 15, was bullied unmercifully in his old school and expects the same treatment in his new one. Unable to voice his fears, he retreats into an imaginary medieval world called Evgard, which he has created down to the last meticulous detail. When he meets fellow student Francis, he can’t believe the boy is equally fascinated by Evgard and wants to participate in the fantasy game. But when Michael thinks that Francis has betrayed him and exposed their secret world to ridicule, he retaliates with catastrophic results. Unaware of the truth of his accusation, Michael accuses Francis of being gay to the worst of the school bullies. Echoes of Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War (Random, 1974) resonate throughout the novel as the Evgard narrative mimics the powerful themes of friendships gone awry, betrayal, and treachery, and characters in both the real and imaginary worlds are faced with impossible moral choices. While the book contains many Briticisms, the pace of the story keeps the pages turning, and the details—especially of the carefully constructed Evgard—are brilliant. The horrors of bullying in a British public school are emphasized by the acts of the sadistic Duke in the Evgard story. The device of parallel narratives that only intertwine symbolically is intriguing. The language is raw and events are painfully graphic in parts. A grim but ultimately satisfying novel for an older audience.—Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD

CONDIE, Ally. Freshman for President. 304p. Shadow Mountain. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-59038-913-3. LC number unavailable.

Gr 6–9—Milo has always been “a sideline kind of guy,” so his decision to run for President of the United States is a big step. Despite long odds and the fact that he cannot take office even if he receives enough votes, the campaign grows in momentum with local news coverage, a burgeoning Web site, and national television coverage. The story of his six-month campaign packs in elements of politics, teen romance, and self-realization with mixed results. The teen remains a regular guy throughout the experience—thoughtful, earnest, and likable—so most readers will empathize with his triumphs and struggles. At the same time, his ordinariness makes his successes harder to swallow. The issues he focuses on, such as changing the voting age, are not especially compelling, and his words and ideas don’t seem unique enough to inspire the impact he makes on the nation. The mobilization of young voters by having a spokesperson their own age is appealing, though, and Milo’s actions to capitalize on that potential seem credible. In the teens-for-president genre, Janet Tashjian’s Vote for Larry (Holt, 2004) is more thought-provoking and exciting, and Dan Gutman’s The Kid Who Ran for President (Scholastic, 2000) is funnier, but Condie’s novel provides a sometimes intriguing look at the political process through the unlikely candidacy of a 15-year-old kid.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR

DASHNER, James. The Journal of Curious Letters. vol. 1. 464p. (The 13th Reality Series). Shadow Mountain. 2008. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-59038-831-0. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–8—Atticus Higginbottom (Tick) is relatively happy, even though he wishes that he were a little braver or could make the bullies disappear. Then he gets a mysterious letter that begins a strange adventure into alternate realities. According to the letter, he and hundreds of other young people around the world have a choice: save the world by solving a puzzle or burn the letter and go on with their lives as usual. The 13-year-old is sure that it’s a hoax, but once he begins getting the other clues from strange visitors, he is determined to figure out the puzzle. This book had great potential. The beginning of the adventure starts with a bang, but by the middle of the story things begin to drag. The immediacy gets lost in the daily struggle to figure out the riddles and the unending descriptions of Tick’s life as he awaits the next one. Suddenly, he receives multiple clues at once and the fight to save the world occurs at bewildering speed. The conclusion is open-ended, indicating a sequel. Stronger choices of books with similar ideas of alternate realities include D. J. MacHale’s “Pendragon” series (S & S) or Michael Lawrence’s “Withern Rise” trilogy (HarperCollins).—Saleena L. Davidson, South Brunswick Public Library, Monmouth Junction, NJ

DE LINT, Charles. Dingo. 224p. CIP. Penguin/Firebird. 2008. Tr $11.99. ISBN 978-0-14-240816-2. LC 2007031716.

Gr 7 Up—De Lint ingeniously incorporates Aboriginal mythology into an intriguing story. Miguel, 17, is minding his dad’s funky comics and record store in a small resort community when a girl dashes in with her dog to escape the town bully. Miguel feels an immediate connection to her, but there is something strange about her dog. Gradually, he discovers that Lainey is a shape-changer, a magical creature from Australia’s Aboriginal past, and the dog—really a dingo—is actually her twin sister. The girls are hiding from their father, who wants to sacrifice Lainey to the powerful Aboriginal spirit Warrigal, the original clan leader, who is trapped in a tree. Suddenly Miguel is catapulted into a rain forest fantasy world complete with a talking cautionary turkey, haunted ancestral bones, and mysterious spirits. Fantasy lovers will enjoy this tale of an initially clueless protagonist thrust into a dangerous situation where he’s expected to become an instant hero. A somewhat unnecessary subplot involves the town bully, who actually has a heart of gold and a tender artistic side, and is drawn into the adventure when he falls for Lainey’s twin. Still, the juxtaposition of contemporary teen life with fantasy is well done. Readers might be interested enough to investigate more about the complicated Aboriginal Dreamtime of Australia and its early clan spirits and creation myths.—Quinby Frank, Green Acres School, Rockville, MD

School Library Journal starred reviewsDOWD, Siobhan. Bog Child. 336p. Random/David Fickling Bks. Sept. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75169-8; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-385-75170-4. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—It is 1981, and 18-year-old Fergus lives on the border between Northern Ireland and the south. His older brother, Joe, a member of the Provisional IRA, is jailed at Long Kesh and joins a hunger strike. The family is traumatized, and Fergus does his best to comfort his mother and to convince Joe that his “sacrifice” for the cause is not worth it. Fergus has been pressured (blackmailed) to smuggle packages for the IRA, but wants nothing more than to leave Ireland and study to become a doctor. His life becomes even more complicated when he and his uncle discover the body of a young girl while pilfering peat. It turns out to be 2000 years old. Thus begins a double narrative that involves a love story and a discussion of destiny and self-sacrifice. Fergus’s story includes his struggle to understand his brother’s actions and his growing love for the daughter of the archaeologist called in to investigate the Iron Age discovery. Interspersed is the story of Mel, the bog child, who makes the ultimate sacrifice to unite her people, and who finds love at the end of her life. The two narratives work beautifully together. The love story between Fergus and Cora is depicted with tenderness, and their adolescent sexuality is sensitively portrayed. Readers will come away with a strong sense of the time periods (especially of the “Troubles”) through dialogue and action. This compelling read is lyrically written and contains authentic dialogue and challenging and involving moral issues. It’s a first, and a must-have purchase.—Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD

DUBLE, Kathleen Benner. Quest. 240p. CIP. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-3386-1. LC 2006102712.

Gr 7 Up—Told in four alternating voices, each one represented by a unique typeface, this is the story of Henry Hudson’s final, fatal attempt to find the Northwest Passage. It relates the man’s obsession with his quest, his crew’s growing dissatisfaction and eventual mutiny, and the rivalry among European countries during the age of exploration. The first voice, that of Hudson’s 17-year-old son, John, a sailor on his father’s ship Discovery, is full of excitement over the long sea voyage. Eight-year-old Richard, left at home in London with his mother, tells poignantly of missing his father and brother. Isabella Digges, secretly in love with John despite her noble father’s disapproval of a mere sailor as a suitor for his daughter, keeps a journal while the Discovery is away. In addition to her thoughts of John, Isabella recounts her own adventure in the Netherlands, where she has been sent to spy on the Dutch East India Trading Company on behalf of England while posing as a nursemaid/companion to the 14-year-old daughter of a prominent Dutch investor. Finally, Seth Syms, fleeing the enraged jealous husband of his lady love by posing as his cousin Nicholas for the voyage, tells his tale in a series of letters to his mother. The author’s skillful juxtaposition of these four narratives creates an absorbing work of historical fiction that manages to incorporate the viewpoints of explorers, investors, sailors, governments, family members, and neighbors of those who played a part in this fascinating era.—Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA

FREDERICKS, Mariah. In the Cards: Fame. 274p. CIP. S & S/Atheneum/A Richard Jackson Bk. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87656-1. LC 2006024186.

Gr 5–8—In this sequel to In the Cards: Love (S & S, 2007), 13-year-old Eve wants to become a star but everything seems to be working against her. The director of the school musical does not like her, and her dad thinks she should concentrate on bringing up her grades. But when the tarot cards reveal that Cabaret could be her first step to stardom, and when she finds out that a famous director may be in the audience, she decides to try out. She gets a part—not the leading role she wanted—but decides to stick with it and in doing so has to deal with the gossip, the meanness, and the jealousy of other cast members. With an unexpected conclusion and a lot of fun and intrigue, this story has it all—friendship, falling “in love,” mischief, mayhem, humor, and a lot of growing up. The characters are fairly well developed and the plot moves along effortlessly. Readers do not have to be familiar with the first book to enjoy this one.—Janet Hilbun, Texas Woman’s University, Denton

FREDERICKS, Mariah. In the Cards: Life. 272p. S & S/Atheneum/A Richard Jackson Bk. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-689-87658-5. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–8—In this third offering in the series, Syd tells her story. She is often in the shadow of her friends Anna and Eve, each of whom starred in a previous book. Their stories revolved around tarot-card readings that seem to have come true. Syd, always reluctant to do a reading, finally does, but her cards foretell death and disaster, which frighteningly parallel her temperamental father’s worsening alcoholism and career problems. Quiet Syd is a gifted pianist; but her father, a former musical prodigy who never reached his potential, warns her against risking disappointment by competing. Her other passion is animals, especially the rescued elderly cat whose medication she leaves in her father’s hands when she goes out of town. The animal becomes so ill that Eve has to have it put to sleep. In this decent but not stellar tale, Syd works on forgiving her dad as he begins his recovery, explores her burgeoning feelings for Eve’s older brother, and considers her own independence as distinct from her friends and her family even while she is still deeply connected and committed to them. Messages are positive while realistic, and the target audience will be glad to see how Syd plays the hand she is dealt. The books are best read in order.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA

School Library Journal starred reviewsFREITAS, Donna. The Possibilities of Sainthood. 280p. CIP. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-374-36087-0. LC 2007033298.

Gr 7 Up—Antonia Lucia Labella, 15, strives to become the first living saint in the history of the Catholic Church. She petitions various saints for any number of reasons, big and small, serious and amusing. Every month for the last eight years, she has written to the Vatican with a new idea for a patron saint for everything from fig trees to kisses and offered herself as a candidate for the position. Her first request after the death of her father was to become the Patron Saint of Daddy’s Heart. Each suggestion has been met with silence, but Antonia hasn’t given up hope. The teen’s life revolves around working at Labella’s Market (the best homemade pasta in Rhode Island), school, boys, and saints. Freitas brings to life the protagonist’s experiences at a Catholic school and in an immigrant family. First loves and family feuds fill the pages. Antonia wants nothing more than to experience her first kiss with her longtime crush and is horrified when his advances indicate a desire for more. She takes her religion seriously, without proselytizing. With a satisfying ending, this novel about the realistic struggles of a chaste teen is a great addition to all collections.—Cara von Wrangel Kinsey, New York Public Library

GERBER, Linda. Death by Bikini. 272p. Sleuth/Speak. 2008. pap. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-14-241117-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7–10—Aphra Behn Connolly lives on a tropical island at the resort her father owns. She misses her friends and mother back home in South Carolina, and has no chance to meet cute guys. Then a mysterious boy named Adam Smith and his parents arrive unannounced and without a reservation. The chemistry between Aphra and Adam is undeniable. However, her dad warns her to stay away from him. Soon after the Smiths arrive, a guest turns up dead on the beach, strangled with her own bikini top. Aphra does a little investigation into the Smiths’ background and is surprised by what she finds. Readers will realize from the onset that the Smiths are on the run from something. This is a quick read, but teens who have any sleuthing skills will be able to figure out what is happening about halfway through the book.—Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA

GOULD, Peter. Write Naked. 256p. CIP. Farrar/Melanie Kroupa Bks. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-374-38483-8. LC 2007016023.

Gr 9 Up—Refreshingly lacking teen angst, Victor is a pensive, authentically innocent 16-year-old who seeks the isolated privacy of his family’s Vermont cabin. He lugs an old Royal typewriter along with him and begins to write—in the buff—testing the idea that “you have to be naked to write.” And it works; his words flow fast and smooth, until he spots a girl watching him, free-spirit Rose Anna. The teens meet at the cabin to write together, clothed and carefully respectful of one another, although Victor knows that Rose Anna also comes alone to “write naked.” He is intrigued by her passion for nature and Wicca. Gould weaves a spell of nearly chaste sensuality, far more provocative than graphic sexuality, particularly in the emotionally charged yet controlled conclusion. Victor and Rose Anna are complex characters, coming to terms with the familial and personal forces shaping them into maturity. Despite minimal plot, the story holds readers’ attention through their powerful character development and simmering romantic tension. Other aspects of the novel are less successful. The Vietnam vet who sells the teen the typewriter is overbearing as he holds forth on the immorality of war. Victor unflinchingly records his own flights of imagination, fleeting attention span, and faltering perceptions. In clumsy contrast, Rose Anna’s story is a juvenile ecological fable of three newts traveling to a “summit meeting” on global warming. The didactic, condescending tone of her tale brings the exquisitely subtle intensity of the book to a screeching halt.—Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

GRANT, Michael. Gone. 558p. CIP. HarperTeen. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-144876-8; PLB $18.89. ISBN 978-0-06-144877-5. LC 2007036734.

Gr 7 Up—“One minute the teacher was talking about the Civil War. And the next minute he was gone.” Just vanished—along with everyone else over the age of 13 in a 20-mile radius around Perdido Beach, CA. The children left behind find themselves battling hunger, fear, and one another in a novel strongly reminiscent of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Things go from bad to worse when some of the children begin exhibiting strange powers, animals show signs of freakish mutations, and people disappear as soon as they turn 14. Though an excellent premise for a novel, Gone suffers from a couple of problems. First, it is just too long. After opening with a bang, the initial 200 or so pages limp along before the action begins to really pick up. Secondly, based on the themes of violence, death, and implied sexual intimidation, this is clearly written for an older teen audience who may not appreciate the fact that no one in the book is older than 13. In spite of its faults, Gone is a gripping and gritty read with enough creepy gruesomeness to satisfy readers who have a taste for the macabre. Give this one to the readers who aren’t quite ready for Stephen King or Dean Koontz.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

School Library Journal starred reviewsHARDINGE, Frances. Well Witched. 390p. CIP. HarperCollins. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-088038-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-088039-2. LC 2007020877.

Gr 4–7—From the author of Fly by Night (HarperCollins, 2006) comes this contemporary fantasy. After Josh, Ryan, and Chelle steal coins out of a decrepit wishing well in a nearby village, they discover that they are now in the debt of the well witch, who expects them to serve her by fulfilling all the wishes made by people who have tossed coins into the well. At first they go along with the idea; having received special, if unnerving, powers from her, it’s an intriguing challenge to make wishes come true. But some wishes are vengeful, misguided, or downright evil, leading Ryan and Chelle to finally stand firm against the angry witch. Josh, however, becomes swept up in his own increasing powers. There is an undercurrent of creepiness that runs through this story, whether it’s the sinister, centuries-long influence of the malignant well witch or the ways that ordinary people can become warped, and many scenes and images are deliciously shiver-inducing. The tone is down-to-earth, quirky, and quietly witty, just like Ryan, whose intriguing perceptions of the people and things around him are a vital part of this book’s appeal. Fans of dark fantasies such as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline (HarperCollins, 2002) will find this tale irresistible.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

HENRY, O. The Ransom of Red Chief. illus. by Etienne Delessert. reprods. ISBN 978-1-58341-585-6. LC 2007008488.
JACKSON, Shirley. The Lottery. illus. by Etienne Delessert. reprods. ISBN 978-1-58341-584-9. LC 2007008487.
POE, Edgar Allan. The Cask of Amontillado. illus. by Gary Kelley. ISBN 978-1-58341-580-1. LC 2007008482.
WILDE, Oscar. The Happy Prince. illus. by Etienne Delessert. reprods. ISBN 978-1-58341-582-5. LC 2007008485. ea vol: 32p. (Creative Short Stories Series). CIP. Creative Education. 2008. PLB $28.50.

Gr 9 Up—These volumes present classic American and British tales that are commonly covered in high school and college literature courses. The stories are all ripe for classroom discussions on irony (The Ransom of Red Chief), social conventions (The Lottery), unreliable narrators (The Cask of Amontillado), and aesthetic philosophy (The Happy Prince). Each slim volume has a well-spaced typeface with notable passages printed in brightly colored font. A short essay of literary criticism citing textual evidence follows each tale, along with a concise author biography with photographs or paintings. The literary essays may be used as examples for student writing assignments. However, the spot artwork is more decorative than illustrative, and the books’ textbooklike appearance will not win any fans among students. Seek more attractive editions if these tales are absent from currently owned anthologies.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

HERNANDEZ, David. Suckerpunch. 217p. CIP. HarperTeen. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-117330-1; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-117331-8. LC 2007024182.

Gr 9 Up— Suckerpunch is as powerful as its title implies. Marcus is quiet and artistic; his younger brother, Enrique, is a charismatic ladies’ man. Both boys have been scarred by their father’s constant physical abuse directed at Enrique and witnessed silently by guilt-ridden Marcus. The man left a year earlier, but the boys are far from healed. Enrique turns to fighting and dating and dumping girl after girl, while Marcus gets stoned. Then they get the news that their father may be returning home, and it sends both siblings, along with Enrique’s girlfriend, Ashley, and Marcus’s friend Oliver on a road trip that will change their lives forever. Using dark, descriptive text and explicit dialogue, Hernandez paints a very realistic portrait of the aftereffects of abuse. Not only does he create memorable and sympathetic characters in Enrique and Marcus, but he also brings life to Oliver, who is dealing with paternal demons of his own, and headstrong but caring Ashley. In the end he does not tie everything up neatly, leaving readers to draw their own conclusions. Older teens looking for gritty urban drama are sure to embrace this gripping, well-written story.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI

HERSHEY, Mary. 10 Lucky Things That Have Happened to Me Since I Nearly Got Hit by Lightning. illus. by Maranda Maberry. 230p. CIP. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73541-4; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90522-0. LC 2007030939.

Gr 4–6—In this sequel to My Big Sister Is So Bossy She Says You Can’t Read This Book (Random, 2005), 10-year-old Effie Maloney is concerned about keeping her athletic friend Aurora in their private Catholic school instead of transferring to a public school that lets her play on a basketball team, and where she feels more comfortable. A second plot surrounds the adult males in Effie’s life. Her father is in prison for embezzling, and a priest who is a college friend of her mom’s is facing a crisis and has temporarily moved in. The family is supposed to keep his profession a secret, but Effie’s sister gets religion. When Effie and her friend Nit plan a slumber party with a pirate theme, chaos reigns, with an uninvited guest, disastrous hair dyes, and a surprise visit from a monsignor. Each chapter opens with drawings of the characters featured in it. Full of too many plots and too little action, this book drags and seems a little petty. Public school children are made to look like ogres. Other characters are stereotyped or unbelievable. Readers would be better served by Marissa Moss’s “Amelia” books (S & S) or Rebecca Rupp’s Sarah Simpson’s Rules for Living (Candlewick, 2008).—Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI

HEUSTON, Kimberley. The Book of Jude. 217p. CIP. Front St. 2008. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-932425-26-0. LC 2007017971.

Gr 8 Up—In 1989, 15-year-old Jude is devastated when she learns that her family will be moving to Prague for a year while her mother completes her art fellowship. Before they leave New York, she begins to act out with spells of anger, despair, and recklessness. Her arrival in Prague only magnifies these feelings as she realizes that Soviet Communist policies not only limit her freedoms, but have also wreaked misery and poverty on the people of Czechoslovakia. Angry and naive, Jude sneaks out of her house to see an anti-Soviet demonstration and is horrified by the violence she witnesses. Her uncontrolled actions begin to worry her family. Her break with reality is apparent when Jude flees to the countryside, wrecks a car, and winds up in a German hospital. Confronting her mental illness, Jude struggles to regain control of her life. The story starts off slowly as the teen leaves New York and the political and social details of Czechoslovakia are presented. While some less-savvy readers may be alienated by the historical context and setting, others will be drawn in as it becomes apparent that Jude is struggling with more than the usual teen angst. Other novels do a better job of illuminating the realities of teen mental illness; what makes this novel unique is the context in which it takes place.—Lynn Rashid, Marriots Ridge High School, Marriotsville, MD

HIRAHARA, Naomi. 1001 Cranes. 240p. Delacorte. Aug. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73556-8; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90541-1. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Angela Kato is not thrilled at the prospect of leaving her home in a San Francisco suburb in order to spend the summer with her disapproving Grandma Michi, her strange Aunt Janet, and her good-natured grandfather in their unattractive, crowded house in smog-filled Los Angeles. Her time will be spent folding origami “1001-cranes displays,” considered good luck for weddings, for her grandparents’ business. Besides missing her friends, Angela knows that her parents are separating again, and that her dad has already rented an apartment. Once in LA, Angela meets several new people who have burdens of their own. A younger girl, Rachel, has just been adopted, and Angela observes that her grandmother acts far more lovingly to this child than she does to Angela. Next door, two sisters-in-law seem to hate each other even while they are involved in planning a celebration for their parents-in-law. Unexpectedly, Angela meets a boy who wants to date her, and she tries to keep him a secret from her watchful family. Her colorful, bold voice captures the excitement of her first love as well as the anxiety of not understanding the many secrets of the adults around her. By experiencing her family’s support, by learning about her Japanese heritage, and by acknowledging the various ways that love is expressed, Angela emerges into a strong, caring person.—Lillian Hecker, Town of Pelham Public Library, NY

HOPKINS, Ellen. Identical. 576p. CIP. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Aug. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-5005-9. LC 2007032463.

Gr 9 Up—Identical teen twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne share a picture-perfect California life that is rank with dark, dangerous secrets under its surface. Their mother, who is running for Congress, leaves them at home with their father, a district court judge who is addicted to liquor and OxyContin. Daddy regularly molests Kaeleigh, using her as a stand-in for his absentee wife, and controls every aspect of her life. Raeanne sees every detail and reacts to her father’s favoritism by acting out sexually and getting high on pot whenever possible. Written in free verse from alternating viewpoints, Identical tells the twins’ story in intimate and often-graphic detail. Hopkins packs in multiple issues including eating disorders, drug abuse, date rape, alcoholism, sexual abuse, and self-mutilation as she examines a family that “puts the dys in dysfunction.” The tension builds slowly and subtly, erupting in a shattering climax of psychological disintegration and breakthrough that reveals the truth about the twins and their father’s own childhood secrets. Gritty and compelling, this is not a comfortable read, but its keen insights make it hard to put down.—Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

HOWE, Peter. Waggit’s Tale. illus. by Omar Rayyan. 288p. glossary. HarperCollins. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-124261-8; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-124262-5. LC number unavailable.

Gr 4–6—An abandoned puppy meets Tazar, leader of a pack of dogs that ekes out a precarious living in Central Park. The animals accept him and name him Waggit, after his constantly wagging tail, and he gradually learns how to hunt and scavenge for food and negotiate the many hazards of the park. Most important of all, he learns to distrust humans, or “Uprights.” Then Waggit is captured by animal-control officers and taken to the pound. When a woman adopts him, he discovers what it’s like to be a companion dog and to be treated kindly by a human, even though it means being completely dependent. This is an engaging story, and the various canine characters are depicted in loving detail. Howe does not romanticize the lives of feral dogs; Waggit, Tazar, and the rest of the pack contend with hunger, illness, and serious injuries. However, the tone of this book is less somber than Ann M. Martin’s A Dog’s Life (Scholastic, 2005), which deals with similar subject matter.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

School Library Journal starred reviewsHURLEY, Tonya. Ghostgirl. 328p. CIP. Little, Brown. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-316-11357-1. LC 2007031541.

Gr 7 Up—Charlotte User, an invisible loser, dies just before enacting a plan to catch the cutest guy in school and achieve popularity. She refuses to accept her fate (death by gummy bear) and returns as a ghost with a mission: to go to the Fall Ball with Damen and get a midnight kiss. Hurley combines afterlife antics, gothic gore, and high school hell to produce an original, hilarious satire. Charlotte ambles through death’s door and remains a pitiable, selfish, and somewhat annoying heroine. Readers root for her, but cringe at her blunders, too. She blows off her new dead-kid school and classmates, unable to give up her living, breathing crush. Hurley’s pitch-perfect dialogue and clever names (Petula, Rotting Rita, Principal Styx) keep readers laughing. Dark, meditative song lyrics and poetry start each chapter while campy, Gothic illustrations frame the pages. Tim Burton and Edgar Allan Poe devotees will die for this fantastic, phantasmal read.—Shelley Huntington, New York Public Library

JAFFE, Michele. Kitty Kitty. 307p. CIP. HarperTeen. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-078111-8; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-078114-9. LC 2008000756.

Gr 9 Up—This sequel to Bad Kitty (HarperCollins, 2006) finds 17-year-old Jasmine in Venice, Italy, where her father has relocated the family in an attempt to distract Jas from the amateur sleuthing she has pursued in the States. When the body of her Italian-class friend is found in a canal and the police rule the death a suicide, Jas tries to convince them that Arabella would never take her own life and that, in fact, she had suspected that someone was stalking her. The police refuse to listen, and Jas decides to solve the mystery on her own. The arrival of her cousin Alyson and Alyson’s friend Veronique (whom Jas dubs the “Evil Hench Twins”) complicates her investigation; however, the surprise appearance of Jas’s best friends from home is an unexpected boon. Narrated in the teen’s breezy, slangy voice, the story is interrupted by interpretive footnotes that become more lengthy and numerous as the caper continues. The mystery at the heart of this novel proves satisfying and features a number of red herrings and unexpected twists that will intrigue fans of the genre. Unfortunately, Jaffe’s sometimes convoluted and note-laden narrative threatens to overwhelm the plot and limits the book’s appeal. Nonetheless, fans of the previous novel and lovers of Meg Cabot, whose literary influence is clearly felt here, will find Kitty Kitty a welcome addition.—Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston

JENKINS, A. M. Night Road. 362p. HarperTeen. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-054604-5; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-054605-2. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—Jenkins has created a taut and compelling reimagining of the vampire legend, with well-developed characters that transcend horror-novel cliché. When Cole is summoned to the Building in upper Manhattan, he’s not sure what to expect, having spent decades away from the place. While other hemovores relax in one of the few safe havens available to their kind, the austere and self-sufficient Cole prefers the freedom of the open road, despite the obvious risks: the difficulty of attaining one’s next meal, the necessity of hiding one’s true identity, and, of course, a little problem with sunlight. The reason for Cole’s presence at the Building soon becomes clear when Gordon, an inadvertently created heme with a bad attitude and a dangerous lack of experience, nearly kills a young woman in an overzealous feed. Heme leader Johnny asks Cole to take Gordon out on the road, where he can be trained in the skills he’ll need in his new lifestyle, away from the too-easy comfort of the Building. Success is paramount: it simply isn’t prudent to have an uncontrolled blood-drinker on the loose, and should the effort fail, Gordon will have to be disposed of. The plot is suspenseful and well paced, with hints of romance as Cole’s worries for Gordon call up dark memories of his own past. A surefire hit for vampire-loving teens.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City

JENNINGS, Richard W. The Pirates of Turtle Rock. 152p. CIP. Houghton. 2008. Tr $16. ISBN 978-0-618-98793-1. LC 2008000763.

Gr 6–9—Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Snow, resident of Kansas-by-the-Sea, FL, is bored. Daily she sits on Turtle Rock, watching the ocean and yearning for danger. Her wishes come true in the person of Captain Cooper Deville, the 18-year-old descendant of Bluebeard and owner of the pirate ship Reprehensible and a verbose parrot, Ruthless. Smitten with Jenny, Coop sets out to captivate her, and the two end up participating in a treasure hunt for the lost pearl totem of the Ugiri-Tom Caribbean tribe. Despite minor setbacks—a pirate mutiny and the misguided help of Jenny’s crackpot great-uncle Daschell—the two teenagers succeed in locating the remains of the totem and Jenny reconstructs it with her mother’s glue gun. Originally published in serial form, the story is episodic, with each chapter ending on a cliff-hanger. Jennings’s writing is dry, ironic, and clever. The ennui of suburban life emerges as a hilarious foil for the actions of moronic pirates, an elderly academic with short-term memory loss, and the sad truth about dating a buccaneer (it never works out). While readers might wish for a tighter conclusion, they will smirk at this yarn, which blends pirate lore with details of modern-day culture and provides tongue-in-cheek commentary about 21st-century life. Give this story to adventure-loving teens for an off-kilter alternative to Pirates of the Caribbean.—Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT

JONELL, Lynne. Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls. illus. by Jonathan Bean. 368p. CIP. Holt. Sept. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8050-8151-0. LC 2007041956.

Gr 3–6—In this sequel to Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Holt, 2007), Emmy discovers the fate and whereabouts of the five missing girls pictured on evil Miss Barmy’s cane. Although the woman is no longer Emmy’s nanny—in fact, she is now a rat—her plots are as wicked as ever. Using the powers of their talented rodent friends to change sizes, the protagonist and her friends seek to thwart Miss Barmy’s attempts to subvert the rodent community while also attempting to rescue the girls, who are the four-inch-high prisoners of Miss Barmy’s nasty parents. Emmy’s uncertainty about her ability to make human friends and about her role within the rodent community cause her to make bad decisions when these two worlds come in contact with one another; luckily, she redeems herself by the end. The plot moves in fits and starts, lacking the fizzy energy of the first book—possibly because the sassy Rat plays a smaller role this time—but fans will find plenty of adventure, fun, and all the rodents they could wish for.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library

JONES, Carrie. Love (And Other Uses for Duct Tape). 284p. Flux. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7387-1257-4. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—In this sequel to Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend (Flux, 2007), Belle is dealing with new issues in her life. As she finishes her final year of high school, she must come to terms with her dashed hopes of a future with Dylan. She must also deal with the many changes that seem to be taking place in the people around her, including her mother, who is seriously involved in a new romance. The main focus, though, is Belle’s relationship with her new boyfriend, Tom, who at first seems reluctant to have sex with her, and a crisis situation with her friend Em and Em’s boyfriend. Throughout the story, Belle copes in her own quirky way by playing folk music on her guitar and making lists, and the book concludes with one final list, “Things I Am Right Now.” This is a thoughtful and often humorous read, and while there are almost too many different issues going on here (teen pregnancy, physical abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, gay bashing, life-threatening allergic reactions), Jones manages to make it all work. Her descriptions of life in a small town where everyone knows your business are spot-on, as are her depictions of high school. An occasional character is over-the-top, but Belle herself is a likable, believable character whose emotional crises will resonate with teens.—Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ

KERR, P. B. One Small Step. 309p. CIP. S & S/Margaret K. McElderry Bks. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-4213-9. LC 2007035660.

Gr 7–9—Thirteen-year-old Scott MacLeod has been an underage pilot since his dad, a Korean War-era ace and flight instructor for Vietnam War jet pilots, secretly let him take the stick of his Cessna at age 12. Now, dad’s letting him take occasional control of a “Tweet,” the two-engine jet trainer he uses to ready “fresh meat” for duty in beefier aircraft. Though Scott, a quick study, handles the airborne aircraft well, he’s never had to do the most difficult thing—land a jet aircraft. That changes suddenly when a fluke occurrence forces him to land a damaged plane himself, possibly ending his father’s career. The incident arouses the interests of NASA officials who, in a top-secret program, have been sending chimps into space as a rehearsal for manned Apollo missions. The agency thinks that the diminutive Scott would be a perfect candidate to accompany two trained chimpanzees on a scaled-down test mission to orbit the moon in preparation for the upcoming Apollo 11 moon landing. In order to save his dad’s career—and to satisfy his own thirst for adventure—Scott convinces his reluctant father to allow him to serve as the first tween-aged astronaut. Accompanied by two endearing primates, he will do everything the adult astronauts are scheduled to do—except actually land on the moon. Unless, that is, he decides to go the distance and take the mission into his own hands. Allusions to things like sneaking cigarettes, beer, and peeks at Playboy magazine are authentic and realistic. This is a gripping and well-researched piece of space-age historical fiction.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI

KLAM, Cheryl. The Pretty One. 356p. Delacorte. 2008. PLB $12.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90388-2; pap. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73373-1. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9–11—Megan, 16, and her older sister, Lucy, attend the Chesapeake School of the Arts in Baltimore. Lucy is the beautiful and talented school darling, majoring in drama. Megan is a techie, one of the unattractive nerds majoring in set design. She has lived in her sister’s shadow, but their relationship has always been loving, with Lucy supportive of her younger sibling. Then, on the night of the school’s fall festival, Megan overhears Lucy making negative comments about her looks and overstuffed dress. Overwhelmed with feelings of betrayal, anger, and grief, she runs out of the building, stopping only when she is hit by an oncoming car. Months later, the bandages come off and she is well enough to return to school—as one of the beautiful people. Reconstructive surgery has given her a face more stunning than Lucy’s and has wrought more changes in her life than she thought possible. Her secret wishes are coming true, but at what price? The constant attention and focus on her beauty is confusing to her, and she’s no longer sure of who she is or what she wants. The protagonist has a strong voice and is a good role model for teens who think that life is easier if you’re the pretty one.—Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL

LANDMAN, Tanya. I Am Apache. 320p. Candlewick. Aug. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3664-7. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7 Up—At the end of the 19th century, 14-year-old Siki is a member of Arizona’s (fictional) Black Mountain Apache, and an orphan who lost both parents in battles with Mexicans. When she witnesses the brutal slaying of her four-year-old brother, Tazhi, by Mexican raiders, she vows to avenge his death and earns an unusual place, through her skills and relentless training, as a warrior among the men of her tribe. In an overwrought, floridly poetic first-person narrative (e.g., “the wind flowed in [Tazhi’s] veins, and the sun itself seemed to shine through his eyes when he smiled”), Landman takes readers on a complex adventure full of jealousy, romance, visions, dark family secrets, bloody battles, daring rescues, and painful dealings with Mexicans and double-crossing “White Eyes.” Historical accuracy is questionable, despite research evident not only in an extensive bibliography, but also in Siki’s copious explanations of tribal ways and customs. Landman states in a historical note that every tribe and place name is fictional, and that she’s “made no attempt to produce an accurate historical novel.” Despite some efforts to create complex, “real” human characters and interactions, readers will certainly take away a notion of the Apache as wronged but brutal, doomed, vengeful warriors, and 19th-century Mexicans as heartless villains. Exciting, but problematic, to say the least.—Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA

LANGTON, Jane. The Dragon Tree. 166p. HarperCollins. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-06-082341-2; PLB $16.89. ISBN 978-0-06-082342-9. LC 2007021772.

Gr 4–6—Mortimer Moon, Concord’s new tree warden, and his wife Margery move next door to the Halls, and Mr. Moon starts chopping down the trees on his property and around town. That same day, a sapling sprouts between their properties. The tree grows at an exponential rate, and Mr. Moon sets his sights on leveling it to the ground. But Eddy and Georgie Hall take up the cause to protect it from their maniacal neighbor and his chainsaw, rallying their friends and standing guard day and night. Mr. Moon’s second cousin three times removed, Emerald, the couple’s “maid-of-all-work,” is trapped in a miserable life and can only witness the events behind closed curtains. Then the Hall kids notice something unusual about the leaves, something that changes everything. Readers of the series will enjoy the trials of Eddy and Georgie Hall in this eighth book in the family’s adventures. Mortimer Moon serves as a truly despicable but tortured villain. The story line is sometimes whimsical, sometimes laced with danger. The fast pace will hold the attention of young readers, and many children will appreciate the many literary references sprinkled throughout.—Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL

LAWRENCE, Iain. The Séance. 272p. Delacorte. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73375-5; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90392-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–7—Lawrence explores Houdini’s attempts to expose the spiritual fakery of mediums and séances in this novel set in June 1926. Thirteen-year-old Scooter King’s mother is a medium; his hero is Houdini. When the great escape artist appears at the Orpheum, it is Scooter who finds a dead man in Houdini’s Burmese Torture Tank. Certain that the killer meant to get rid of his idol, Scooter is determined to identify the culprit. Then, two more killings occur. The book is full of period references—to Stanley Steamers, flagpole sitting, the Charleston, etc., as well as slang, such as “the bee’s knees,” “the cat’s pajamas,” “the eel’s hips,” all of which at times bog down the story line. Houdini’s eccentric personality is evident, and Scooter is a well-developed character. Secondary figures, however, are one-dimensional. Kids will enjoy learning how some of the illusions and tricks used by mediums work. Most touching is Scooter’s coming-of-age awareness that mediums, even his mother, are likely fake. Tom Lalicki’s similarly well-researched Danger in the Dark: A Houdini & Nate Mystery (Farrar, 2006) integrates history into mystery in a more lighthearted, entertaining way. An afterword explains how Lawrence became interested in Houdini and which parts of the story are true.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

LIEURANCE, Suzanne. The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. 160p. (Historical Fiction Adventures Series). photos. reprods. further reading. Web sites. CIP. Enslow. 2008. PLB $27.93. ISBN 978-0-7660-2928-6. LC 2007005281.

Gr 4–6—Eleven-year-old Galena and her older sister, Anya, are Russian-Jewish immigrants living with their parents in a one-room tenement apartment in New York City. Six days a week the girls walk to work at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company. Each morning Galena asks to see the pictures of family members inside the gold locket Anya wears around her neck before she and her sister part to work on different floors. Low wages and poor working conditions cause Anya to consider joining a union, whereas Galena remains conflicted and loyal to her “Old World” mother, who forbids such activities. Galena resents the growing friendship and influence Dmitri, a young man working at a unionized factory, has with her sister. When fire breaks out at the Triangle and Anya dies, the pair must search for her body (identifiable by the locket). Galena comes to understand the fear behind her mother’s resistance to change and chooses to attend a mass funeral and union meeting with Dmitri. Woven together in perfect compatibility, the historical background and fictional plot give readers a clear insight into Jewish immigrants and ritual (sitting shivah after a death in the family), and unfair labor practices, and there is excellent foreshadowing of the fire. Back matter includes a discussion of the disaster and archival photos.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH

MCLAUGHLIN, Lauren. Cycler. 256p. CIP. Random. Aug. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-85191-9; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-95191-6. LC 2007042304.

Gr 9 Up—“I am all girl.” That’s the mantra that Jill desperately chants to herself whenever she feels the inevitable approaching—her body transforming into Jack. Four days a month, prior to menstruation, Jill’s body mysteriously morphs into a male body, complete with sex organs. Despite countless hospital visits and hours of research, there is no explanation for this frightening phenomenon. In order to deal with the situation, the teen has developed a “Plan B,” consisting of visualization techniques and chanting. Despite missing school and the necessity of giving noncommittal answers about her absences to her friend Ramie, Jill has ordinary teenage worries. Prom date issues are her prime concern, including garnering the attention of an elusive male student. Jill’s situation grows treacherous when Jack rebels against the restraints placed upon him. The family has managed to keep him under control, but now he desires life outside the four walls of Jill’s bedroom. His resentful attitude toward Jill causes significant upheaval and damage to her social life and causes a startling development in her friendship with Ramie. Themes of bisexuality, porn addiction, and gender identity make this best suited for mature readers. The writing is witty without being overly precious or self-conscious. The nonjudgmental attitude of some of the teen characters may not be entirely realistic, and the ending is abrupt and inconclusive. Still, Jill’s real-life secondary concerns will ring true for many readers.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

MCMAHON, Jennifer. My Tiki Girl. 246p. CIP. Dutton. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47943-7. LC 2007028276.

Gr 9 Up—Maggie’s sense of self was shattered, along with her leg, in a car crash that killed her mother two years ago. Now 15, she is reborn in the alternate identity of “LaSamba,” an eager follower in the wild, creative fantasy world of her intoxicating new classmate Dahlia (“Tiki”) and her mentally ill mother. In this emotionally powerful and realistic story set in the 1990s in a small town in Connecticut, Maggie loses herself completely in her new identity, and slowly but surely comes to find a true, new self that includes the indisputable—but scary—fact that she is a lesbian and in love with Tiki. Readers are swept along with Maggie’s swirling feelings, making it easy to understand how easily this fragile, sensitive girl could lose herself. Secondary characters also have complex emotions and motivations. Had this novel been published 15 years ago, it would’ve been a groundbreaking addition to LGBT literature; as it is, it still stands strong as a period testament to the anti-“lesbo” feelings of that era, as well as simply a well-written tale of self-discovery. Sex scenes focus on emotion and are not overly explicit.—Rhona Campbell, Washington, DC Public Library

MCNAMEE, Eoin. City of Time. Bk. 2. illus. by Jon Goodell. 336p. (The Navigator Trilogy). Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-375-83912-2; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-375-93912-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7 Up—In this sequel to The Navigator (Random, 2007), earthquakes, tidal waves, and general environmental turmoil are on the rise, and Owen is called into action again. The moon’s orbit has altered, and the very fabric of time is running out. Owen teams up with his friends from the first book and embarks on a quest to Hadima, the City of Time, to seek out a tempod and try to reestablish stability of time. Faced with deceptions, double-crossings, and the icy power of the Harsh, Owen and his friends are challenged physically and mentally at every step of their adventure. Pacing and story details are excellent with just the right amount of suspense and withheld information to keep readers wanting more. Characters are unique and suitably delineated with an appropriate balance of protagonist and antagonist attention. City of Time reads like a stand-alone novel; all pertinent details are explained. However, it would help more astute readers to be familiar with the first book. Naturally, situations are set up for the final book in the trilogy. City of Time will certainly enjoy as much reader attention as the first book.—Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY

MALLOY, Brian. Twelve Long Months. 320p. Scholastic. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-87761-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 8 Up—Molly is soon to be high school valedictorian in her small town of Le Sueur, MN. She is a genius at science, hopelessly unpopular, and desperately in love with her angsty and mysterious lab partner, Mark Dahl. At first, it appears that he only pays attention to her when he needs to copy her chemistry test answers, but when she announces that she’ll be attending Columbia in the fall, Mark starts to take an active interest in her, knowing that he will be living in nearby New Jersey. Life in New York City is a completely different world for Molly. She has two loyal and loving dorm mates who make it their mission to help her come out of her shell. So when Mark asks the new-and-improved Molly if he can crash in her room one night, she thinks that they will finally have their romantic moment. Then she learns that Mark is gay. Although she is crushed at first, the teens are able to build a strong friendship. This breezy novel chronicles the 12 months from graduation to the end of Molly’s first year in college. Lovable characters and fun scenarios keep the story moving, and more serious issues regarding the difficulties of coming out elevate this novel from being pure chick lit. Readers are left with the message that the love of a true friend can be just as meaningful as the love of a boyfriend.—Michelle Roberts, Merrick Library, NY

MARRIOTT, Zoë. The Swan Kingdom. 253p. CIP. Candlewick. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3481-0. LC 2007038291.

Gr 6–10—A story loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Wild Swans.” Alexandra, 15, is the daughter of a powerful king and a wise queen. Like her mother, she has the gift of the ancient ways, but her talents aren’t fully developed. The queen takes her into the ancient woods to celebrate her coming-of-age, and while there is attacked by an unnatural beast. Alexandra, in spite of her magic and healing skills, cannot save her mother. The king, plunged into despair, spends every day hunting for this beast. One day he returns with a beautiful woman who seems to charm everyone in the kingdom, except his children. Even though they believe that Zella is the shape-shifting beast that killed their mother, their father marries her. When they try to break her enchantment, Alexandra is banished to live with her aunt, and her brothers are turned into swans. It is with her aunt that the teen begins to understand her power, grow in maturity, believe in herself, and find love. She also realizes that if she is to save her family and her kingdom, she must take matters into her own hands and fight. Well written with vivid details, this rich tale has a little something for everyone—love, adventure, intrigue, betrayal, friendship, and murder. Fans of Robin McKinley and Donna Jo Napoli will love it.—Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park Memorial High School, NY

MIKAELSEN, Ben. Ghost of Spirit Bear. 154p. CIP. HarperCollins. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-009007-4; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-009008-1. LC 2007036732.

Gr 6–10—Mikaelsen’s sequel to Touching Spirit Bear (HarperCollins, 2001), the much-lauded novel exploring the psychology and community dynamics of bullying, is likely to draw a split decision among potential audiences. While teachers and counselors may find it to be an inspiring, timely, and instructive piece of bibliotherapy, street-smart students might find it improbable, pat, and didactic. The story picks up with newly reformed bully Cole Matthews and the boy he once beat mercilessly, Peter Driscal, returning to the demoralizing realities of their beleaguered urban high school after having spent extended therapeutic time exploring their inner lives on a remote Alaskan Island. While Cole had realized genuine peace and personal insight in exile, he can sense his old rage beginning to resurface when Peter, whom he now considers his best friend, becomes the target of gang attacks. Ultimately, in the wake of the suicide of a bullied classmate, Cole decides that the only real hope for changing the self-destructive attitudes and behaviors in his high school is to appeal to his principal to let him lead an attempt to heal its overall spirit using some of the same techniques his Tlingit mentor, Garvey, had employed with him. She does agree, of course, as obstacles tend to topple just a bit too easily in this overly whitewashed sequel.—Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI

NICHOLSON, William. Noman. Bk. 3. 362p. (The Noble Warriors Series). CIP. Harcourt. 2008. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-206005-3. LC 2007011209.

Gr 8 Up—In this conclusion to the trilogy, Seeker, a Noble Warrior, is using his extraordinary powers to track down and kill the last two remaining savanters, evil creatures that drain the lir (life) out of their victims in order to prolong their own. Seeker has tracked them from the ends of the Earth, and to kill them is his final mission. What starts as a hunt turns into a philosophical debate. Each of the three Noble Warriors is presented with both an external battle of swords and flesh and an internal battle of faith and understanding. The setting for this story is a pastoral world much like our own 150 years ago. There are deserts and mountains, green valleys and deep seas that Seeker spends most of the book running through, which keeps the tempo of the story up. The other main characters seem to sit and contemplate their existence, occasionally moving for a fight or a short trip. Their focus is on the nature of the world, their place in it, and whether their god—the All and Only—exists at all. Unfortunately, the theme is sometimes too obviously superimposed on the plot. Relationship patterns and scenes among the characters are recycled over and over again. Wildman and Caressa, for example, have the same argument numerous times, and it’s hardly worthy of two military leaders such as themselves. Still, the book is worth purchasing for fans of the series.—Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children’s Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

NOËL, Alyson. Cruel Summer. 240p. St. Martin’s/Griffin. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-312-35511-1. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Colby Cavendish’s plans are tossed overboard when her parents decide she should spend the summer with her aunt on a remote Greek island. They are jeopardizing her hard-won spot as ultracool Amanda’s “new best friend,” and now that she’s hooked up with hottie Levi Bonham, how is she supposed to hang on to him? Crazy Aunt Tally, who talks to her plants and sells handmade jewelry, doesn’t have a cell phone, TV, or Internet access. Colby’s feelings and experiences are relayed through clever, but sometimes typographically confusing, emails, journal entries, letters, postcards, and a “Cruel Summer” blog. (The island has an Internet café.) The story is one of understandable teen frustration and resentment: adults don’t make sense to her, and she’s insecure about her new social status. She’s far away from the usual connections, electronic and otherwise, that she and many comfortably middle-class, modern American teens rely on. An islander, Yannis, complicates her feelings for Levi, and Colby finds herself becoming involved, against her will, in the rhythms and lifestyle of this charming, remote place. The protagonist’s venting and observations are alternately whiny, wistful, strident, and hilarious. Despite typical teen self-obsession, Colby is likable and ultimately well intentioned. As she deals with her feelings, she blunders her way rather charmingly into a new maturity.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green

PFEFFER, Susan Beth. The Dead and the Gone. 321p. CIP. Harcourt. 2008. Tr $17. ISBN 978-0-15-206311-5. LC 2007029606.

Gr 7 Up—An asteroid knocks the moon closer to Earth, and every conceivable natural disaster occurs. Seventeen-year-old Alex Morales’s parents are missing and presumed drowned by tsunamis. Left alone, he struggles to care for his sisters Bri, 14, and Julie, 12. Things look up as Central Park is turned into farmland and food begins to grow. Then worldwide volcanic eruptions coat the sky with ash and the land freezes permanently. People starve, freeze, or die of the flu. Only the poor are left in New York—a doomed island—while the rich light out for safe towns inland and south. The wooden, expository dialogue and obvious setup of the first pages quickly give way to the well-wrought action of the snowballing tragedy. The mood of the narrative is appropriately frenetic, somber, and hopeful by turns. Pfeffer’s writing grows legs as the terrifying plot picks up speed, and conversations among the siblings are realistically fluid and sharp-edged. The Moraleses are devout Catholics, and though the church represents the moral center of the novel, Pfeffer doesn’t proselytize. The characters evolve as the city decomposes, and the author succeeds in showing their heroism without making them caricatures of virtue. She accurately and knowingly depicts New York City from bodegas to boardrooms, and even the far-fetched science upon which the novel hinges seems well researched. This fast-paced, thoughtful story is a good pick for melodrama fiends and reluctant readers alike.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

PULLMAN, Philip. Once Upon a Time in the North. illus. by John Lawrence. 96p. Knopf/David Fickling Bks. 2008. Tr $12.99. ISBN 978-0-375-84510-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7 Up—In this prequel to the “His Dark Materials” trilogy (Knopf), Texas aeronaut Lee Scoresby meets armored bear Iorek Byrnison for the first time. In this short, fantastic adventure, young Scoresby finds himself on the Arctic island of Novy Odense, a community set in an alternate past world. The rich mining company Lars Manganese is trying to control the town, Ivan Dimitrovich Poliakov is a corrupt mayoral candidate, and Captain van Breda is prevented from unloading his cargo unjustly. Scoresby takes on the captain’s cause, resulting in an Old West-style shootout. Many readers will likely enjoy this book because of its quick pace and action-filled plot, but some Pullman fans may be disappointed when comparing this short text to the trilogy. Characters are less developed, and events sometimes happen a bit too quickly. The ending is neat and tidy, though it does leave the door open for future adventures. The inclusion of documents and black-and-white engraved illustrations add a nice touch, and the board game Peril of the Pole is tucked into the back inside cover as a bonus.—Jennifer D. Montgomery, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green

School Library Journal starred reviewsSCHUMACHER, Julie. Black Box. 176p. Delacorte. Sept. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73542-1; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90523-7. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7 Up—Stable and stoic Elena is a high school freshman when her beloved older sister, Dora, is hospitalized for depression. Elena takes it upon herself to look after her sibling when she comes home, while Dora and, ultimately, the entire family fall to pieces. In the end, Elena, with the help of her friend Jimmy Zenk, comes to realize that she alone can’t make her better and that Dora has to help herself. With few words, characters are expertly fleshed out. For example, telling details reveal Elena’s personality: “Matching socks was generally acknowledged to be my specialty.” Schumacher eloquently describes the devastating effect that depression can have on a family. The writing is spare, direct, and honest. Written in the first person, this is a readable, ultimately uplifting book about a difficult subject.—Ragan O’Malley, Saint Ann’s School, Brooklyn, NY

SCOTT, Elizabeth. Stealing Heaven. 307p. HarperTeen. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-112280-4; PLB $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-112281-1. LC number unavailable.

Gr 10 Up—Danielle, 18, has been a thief all her life. Moving from town to town, she and her mom stay around only long enough to canvas the rich and steal their silver. When she was 15, they moved on at Danielle’s request, after she had sex for “the first and only time” with her mother’s 20-year-old boyfriend. It’s a lifestyle the teen is used to, but she’s beginning to long for something more. She wants roots, friends, and a place to call home. When they hit the small resort town of Heaven, Danielle knows the routine. Her mom will chat up the men for information and she, now using the name Sydney, is supposed to do the same with her peers. Only something goes wrong, and “Sydney” begins to make friends with the mark, flirt with a local cop, and generally do everything her mom’s always told her to avoid. And when it’s time for the heist, Danielle is no longer sure she can follow her mom’s demands. This story is deceptively touching. Danielle and her mother are both fully developed, as are the secondary characters of Allison (the friend) and Greg (the young cop). The overriding theme of living up to a parent’s expectations instead of following your own path is universal, but the twist of a family of thieves gives the story originality.—Heather E. Miller, Homewood Public Library, AL

SCOTT, Michael. The Magician. 464p. (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series). CIP. Delacorte. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-385-73358-8; PLB $19.99. ISBN 978-0-385-90373-8. LC 2007051598.

Gr 6–9—Flamel and company return in this fast-paced follow-up to The Alchemyst (Delacorte, 2007). The immortal human Nicholas Flamel; Scathach, the veggie vampire warrior; and the mortal twins of legend, Josh and Sophie, are still on the run from the malicious Dr. John Dee. Flamel retains two of the pages of the legendary Book of Abraham, and Dee will do anything to get them. After hopping a ley line to Paris, our heroes barely escape the machinations of Dee’s partner in crime, Niccolò Machiavelli. While finding shelter with fellow immortals (Joan of Arc turns out to be a particularly helpful ally), Josh attempts to deal with the fact that his twin sister is now incredibly powerful. Having had her powers “awakened,” Sophie’s new abilities make him surprisingly jealous—a fact that Dee may find useful. Scott tapers down the sheer breadth of gods, goddesses, legends, and myths already introduced in his first novel, which is a bit of a relief. Even though the plot moves forward at breakneck speed, the author is careful not to lose sight of his characters’ struggles or inner demons. Fans of the previous novel will certainly find much to love, root for, and fear in this successful second installment.—Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library

SENSEL, Joni. The Humming of Numbers. 256p. Holt. 2008. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-0-8050-8327-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7–9—Aiden and Lana are an unlikely pair. He’s a novice monk, practicing to be a scribe; she’s an illegitimate peasant with a penchant for mischief. Their worlds collide due to a Viking invasion that brings violent destruction to their families and homes. Hiding from the raiders, they discover that they have more in common than they could have expected. Aiden is able to sense the energy given off by living things, which he feels as the humming of numbers, while Lana can communicate with trees and use their wood to work powerful magic. Together they weave a plot to help their townspeople cast out the invaders, falling in love in the meantime. Aiden decides to leave the monastery to marry Lana, finally accepting that their magic is not the work of the devil. This is a strong story that will get skeptical students excited about historical fiction. Teachers will appreciate the accuracy of the book, which makes clear the scarcity and value of illuminated manuscripts in the 10th century, as well as the grim realities that women faced (Lana herself has been the victim of sexual violence). Although their decision to marry seems a little premature, and Aiden’s position as the monastery’s first lay scribe is a convenient ending, the book is a great read. Filled with nature lore and compelling action, it will appeal to many readers.—Nora G. Murphy, Los Angeles Academy Middle School

SIMMONS, Michael. Alien Feast. Bk. 1. illus. by George O’Connor. 240p. (Chronicles of the First Invasion Series). Roaring Brook/A Neal Porter Bk. 2008. Tr $9.95. ISBN 978-1-59643-281-9. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5–8—The year is 2017. Aliens have just eaten both of 12-year-old William’s stepparents, and he is left to fend for himself in the midst of an invasion. Fortunately, he is able to find his secret crush, Sophie, whose parents have only been abducted. With the help of his Uncle Maynard, they come up with a rescue plan. The youngsters are nicely developed, and, refreshingly, they act as you’d expect kids to behave in such a stressful situation, not like miniature adults. O’Connor’s artwork adds to the humor. While the illustration of severed feet on the cover may put some readers off, it does a great job of setting the tone of the book as a send-up of old-time alien-invasion films. Simmons has a light touch, and readers will laugh through his explanation of how William came to be living with two stepparents and the aversion aliens have to eating human feet. The self-awareness of the narrator makes the opening chapters evocative of Lemony Snicket’s work. Given that the novel begins in such a humorous vein, the poignant ending may come as a bit of a surprise. Alien Feast will leave readers waiting eagerly for the next installment. This title will be popular with fans of Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday (Hyperion, 2007) and those who have outgrown Dan Greenburg’s “Secrets of Dripping Fang” books (Harcourt).—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

SMITH, Charles R., Jr. Winning Words: Sports Stories and Photographs. photos by author. 74p. Candlewick. 2008. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-1445-4. LC 2007936030.

Gr 4 Up—This outstanding collection consists of six readable and engaging stories. In “Don’t Say It,” Brian attempts to break out of a batting slump. “Stuffed Eagles” is a humorous account of a football team’s last-gasp effort to keep from being scoreless for an entire season. A soccer player notes her team’s lack of teamwork in “I’m Open.” A gymnast overcomes her fear on the balance beam in “Crack-Crack-Crunch.” In “A Mountain of Wood,” Candace focuses her energy on breaking a wood board with her fist as she completes the test to earn her brown belt in karate. A teen gains the confidence he needs to perform well in a pick-up basketball game in “Makes Me Wanna Holla.” Each story illustrates a particular quality and is paired with an apt quote, such as this one from Bruce Lee following “A Mountain of Wood”: “In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.” Throughout, Smith does a fine job of evoking the action and character of the games, in words and in close-up photos. Here, he captures the staccato pace of infield play: “Crack! React. Here it comes. Lunge left. Leap. Stop. Off the dirt. Onto your feet. Throw to first. Got him!” An excellent choice for reading aloud, this book should win over a wide audience, including reluctant readers.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

ST. JOHN, Lauren. Dolphin Song. 246p. CIP. Dial. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3214-8. LC 2007029248.

Gr 4–7—Continuing the story begun in The White Giraffe (Dial, 2007), St. John throws 11-year-old Martine into another dangerous situation in which she must depend on her relationship with animals to survive. The child, recently orphaned and sent to live with her grandmother on a game reserve in South Africa, has had trouble adapting to her new school. She reluctantly embarks on a class trip to study nature at sea, and, before long, she and six of her classmates are tossed overboard during a storm. Rescued by dolphins, they survive shark-infested waters and are stranded on a deserted island. Five of the kids tormented Martine and her lone friend, Ben, in the first book, and they are no kinder here. But Ben, while mostly silent, has a lot of survival skills, and Martine has her powers of prophecy and healing, and the two of them prove to be self-sufficient and even content with their situation. As Ben teaches Martine how to find food, water, and shelter, he also guides her toward compassion as their desperate classmates begin to accept them. Not every plot point holds water, but this is an action-packed story with a strong environmental message and an admirable heroine. It brings the cultures of native and colonial South Africa together in the form of a young girl who is discovering that she is part of both. Talk this one up to your adventure buffs and animal lovers.—Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL

STAUB, Wendy Corsi. Believing. 243p. (Lily Dale Series). CIP. Walker. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-9656-1. LC 2007032182.

Gr 8–10—An exciting, stand-alone sequel to Lily Dale: Awakening (Walker, 2007). Calla Delaney, 17, has moved from Tampa, FL, to Lily Dale, a small town in western New York, to live with her grandmother, a registered medium. Calla finds that she, too, has the gift of seeing and hearing spirits. Indeed, a spirit visited her at her mother’s funeral a few months earlier and alerted her to the fact that the death was not accidental. Calla must find out more about her mother’s past, which includes a spurned boyfriend from Lily Dale High School. Now, a serial killer is attacking blond teenage girls. Through her visions, Calla knows the location of the body of the first one murdered. She also sees where the latest victim has been dumped, while still alive. Little does she realize that her name is next on the list. Even while these terrible incidents are happening, Calla must adjust to her surroundings, make friends, and begin a new school as a senior. She confides in Jacy, and he reaches out to help her handle her fears and suspicions. Her former boyfriend seems interested in renewing their relationship. And then there is the hot guy Blue, who makes Calla’s head spin. This installment leaves unanswered questions that beg for resolution in yet another “Lily Dale” novel.—Lillian Hecker, Town of Pelham Public Library, NY

STEVENSON, Robin. Impossible Things. 176p. CIP. Orca. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-55143-736-1. LC 2007942243.

Gr 5–7—Cassidy Silver thinks that surviving seventh grade may require special powers. Her best friend has abandoned her for the popular girls, whose mean-spirited teasing is relentless. Her teacher Mr. McMaran is not only boring, but he’s also disgruntled. And her little brother, who is also teased at school, needs Cassidy to look out for him. But the 12-year-old doesn’t have special powers, and she feels that she can’t bother her mom with problems. Her dad is on an extended engineering job in the Middle East, and her mother is keeping so busy volunteering and painting that she doesn’t seem to have time for anything else. Then a new girl, Victoria, appears on the scene, and she claims to be telekinetic. Does she really have a special power? Can Cassidy learn telekinesis too? The answers may surprise readers. The compassionate protagonist approaches her troubles with patience and good humor, and she is a good friend to Victoria, who is facing her own family difficulties (including an older half brother who steals). The theme here is how to deal with bullying-by peers, teachers, and family members. Realistic fiction with a twist, Impossible Things should appeal to thoughtful readers, who may gain insight into standing up to their own bullies—no supernatural powers required.—Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI

SUPPLEE, Suzanne. Artichoke’s Heart. 276p. CIP. Dutton. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47902-4. LC 2007028486.

Gr 8–10—Rosemary Goode doesn’t have a carefree life; being an overweight binge eater makes her self-conscious around other teens, and her Aunt Mary’s constant criticizing doesn’t help matters. Rosemary works at her mother’s salon, where she sees the beautiful and popular girls getting primped for dances. Her single mother tries to help her, buying a treadmill (on which Rosemary hangs clothes) and arranging for therapy sessions. Rosemary’s friendship with a fitness-obsessed, friendly new girl improves her outlook on exercise, and a budding relationship with Kyle, a popular athlete at school, confuses and exhilarates her. Her mother’s cancer diagnosis shocks and unnerves her, but the teen and her mom deal with the situation with realism and honesty. Rosemary is a funny, sharp, and appealing narrator; Supplee has good insight into high school life, especially cliques, and teenage body issues. Cancer and obesity are handled with humor, care, and sensitivity. Southern euphemisms and speech are sprinkled throughout the novel, which takes place in a small town in Tennessee, but not to excess. This has the breezy fun of recent YA chick lit, but with an uncommon heroine dealing with serious issues.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

TAYLOR, Brooke. Undone. 320p. Walker. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8027-9763-6. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—Serena Moore, high school sophomore and self-described closet gaming geek, is saved from social obscurity only by her friendship with Kori Kitzler, a rebel and the class slut. Two years into their friendship, Serena models herself increasingly after Kori to the point that they’re hard to tell apart, at least physically. When tragedy strikes, Serena deals with the loss of her friend by putting aside her own identity and fate in favor of fulfilling Kori’s unrequited wishes. Numerous plotlines intertwine to create an underlying mystery that unfolds in tandem with Serena’s self-actualization. Replete with the requisite, if not always realistic, witty banter that characterizes many an angst-ridden, teen-narrated tale, this absorbing novel will fit well in most contemporary fiction collections. Readers will empathize with Serena’s struggle to figure out who she is and which friendships are truly valuable—even if some of the outlying plot elements are somewhat shallowly explored.—Jill Heritage Maza, Greenwich High School, CT

TAYLOR, G. P. Mariah Mundi: The Midas Box. 304p. CIP. Putnam. 2008. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24347-9. LC 2007043140.

Gr 7 Up—At 15, Mariah Mundi leaves the Chiswick Colonial School, where he has been since his parents’ failure to return from the Sudan, to begin a job as a magician’s apprentice at the Prince Regent, a colossal hotel built into a cliff side in the north of England. While the hotel’s guests experience luxury aboveground, the slimy, below-sea-level basements abound in magic, murders, and devilish doings. Mariah is befriended by a servant girl, Sacha, and together they try to find Felix, the last in a line of boys sent from the Colonial School who has mysteriously vanished. In an Egyptian sarcophagus deep in the basement, the two find a clue that leads Mariah to fear for his life. The hotel’s owner is an evil, narcoleptic man intent on amassing riches and finding the magic box that will turn anything put in it into gold. A kracken, a sea witch, a magic porcelain doll, a crocogon (a dragon/crocodile mix), a crab the size of a grand piano, wax figures, cadavers, and skeletons add to this open-ended story of good versus evil. With a Dickensian feel and an Edward Gorey-like cover illustration, this dark and dense fantasy quest is inviting and highly imaginative. Yet, the plot is overly complicated and difficult to follow, the shifting characters hard to keep straight. Rich descriptions tend to overwhelm the story. This is a book that will appeal to those young people who like to be challenged and who enjoy re-reading in order to uncover new levels of meaning.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

TOWNSEND, Wendy. Lizard Love. 200p. CIP. Front St. 2008. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-932425-34-5. LC 2007017975.

Gr 6–9—Grace’s story opens with a brief idyllic episode in her seventh summer spent with her grandparents in the rural Midwest. She wholly immerses herself in the natural beauty and wonder of her surroundings, beginning a lifelong love of frogs, lizards, and snakes. The narrative soon shifts forward to Grace’s eighth-grade year in New York City, where her mother’s graduate work and teaching have taken them. Grace’s hatred of urban life and difficulty in adjusting to a school where she feels freakish intensify the pain of adolescence. She stumbles upon a pet shop called Fang and Claw, and soon she’s helping Pops and his son, Walter, with the care of the marvelous creatures, including Spot, a gorgeous iguana that Grace adores on sight and takes home. A long-awaited summer return to Mooresville disappoints her: the countryside is being ruined by suburban sprawl, her grandparents are slowing down, and her body is betraying her with embarrassing developments. Upon returning to New York, she feels as alien in her own skin as the displaced tropical lizards and snakes she favors. Grace ultimately begins to shape her environment so she can thrive and to value those special people like Walter who appreciate her. Nicely characterized, showing keen awareness of the young teen experience, and written to reveal the reptilian world in colorful detail, the story is an obvious fit for animal lovers, particularly those who delight in the cold-blooded variety. All readers will come to understand Grace’s fancy for these creatures even if they don’t share her lizard love. A worthwhile choice for young folks shedding the skin of childhood.—Suzanne Gordon, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA

VAN ETTEN, David. Likely Story. 230p. CIP. Knopf/Borzoi. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-375-84676-2; PLB $18.99. ISBN 978-0-375-94676-9. LC 2007022724.

Gr 7 Up—Mallory’s mother is a big-name soap-opera star. When Mallory comes up with an idea for a daytime soap aimed at teens that would deal with real-life situations, this pedigree helps her get a shot at creating and writing it. In the process, she learns to stand up for herself and to do what is right—even if it means facing tough consequences. A collaboration among three authors—soap-opera writer Chris Van Etten, David Ozanich, and David Levithan, who is known for sensitive portrayals of teens—Likely Story occasionally has an uneven tone, as tender moments are blended with a realistic look at the soap-opera business. Still, Mallory comes across as a likable, regular teen despite growing up on television sets and having a mother as selfish and manipulative as any daytime-drama villain. Her snappy narrative is filled with a believable mix of self-doubt, scathing humor, and real emotion. The book never indulges in the glamour of the television lifestyle, but focuses on the story and characters. The novel ends abruptly with a cliff-hanger climax, leaving an opening for the next book in the series.—Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK

VOLPONI, Paul. Hurricane Song: A Novel of New Orleans. 136p. CIP. Viking. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06160-0. LC 2007038215.

Gr 8 Up—Feeling crowded out of his mom’s Chicago apartment following her remarriage, 16-year-old Miles goes to live with his dad in New Orleans. He’s only been there for two months when Katrina hits. Attempting to flee the city on Sunday with Uncle Roy, who, like his dad, is a jazz musician, they take refuge in the Superdome after their car breaks down. With this “ripped-from-the-headlines” premise, Volponi effectively portrays how too many people in one space with too little food, supplies, and basic services quickly deteriorates from mere displacement to human suffering on a massive scale. Threats, extortion, violence, and fear escalate, fueled by the massive storm, culminating in the people’s infamous chant, “We need help.” They are finally herded outside on Tuesday, after the storm has passed, only to stand for hours in the sun without water while awaiting buses to Houston. Miles and his dad jump a fence to escape, making their way to see what remains of their apartment. Fighting together to confront looters intent on stealing a jazz club’s piano cements their previously conflicted relationship. An epilogue briefly relates their journey to a new beginning in Seattle and eventual return to New Orleans, months later, to rebuild. A sprinkling of common vulgarities realistically punctuates the fast-paced story of unprecedented unease in the Big Easy.—Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA

WALTERS, Gregory. Fouling Out. 168p. CIP. Orca. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-55143-714-9. LC 2007942401.

Gr 5–7—Craig Trilosky has been friends with Tom since second grade. Now he’s beginning to reconsider their relationship; the older they get, the more trouble Tom gets them both into. Tom’s father is abusive, and his own behavior is unpredictable. Things come to a head when he attempts to shoot a squirrel and Craig tries to stop him, leading to what the media labels a hate crime when the stray bullet shatters the window of a Chinese family’s house. Consumed by guilt, Craig is shocked when Tom beats him up but then takes responsibility for the incident. However, the threat of foster care causes Tom to run away. Craig confesses everything to his mother, and when Tom, suffering from hypothermia, comes to them for help, Craig’s mother takes charge, eventually helping to get him from Vancouver to an uncle in Saskatchewan. There is little build-up to Craig’s abrupt confession, and it seems unrealistic that his mother doesn’t contact the authorities. Craig’s narrative voice doesn’t always ring true; not too many 13-year-old boys use words like “buffoon,” “guffaw,” and “sleuthing.” However, kids who are dealing with the desire to redefine themselves apart from a difficult friendship may relate to Craig’s situation.—Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI

WARNER, Sally. It’s Only Temporary. illus. by author. 182p. CIP. Viking. 2008. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-670-06111-2. LC 2007038220.

Gr 4–7—After her brother is injured in a devastating car accident, 12-year-old Skye’s life is turned upside down. She is sent from Albuquerque, NM, to live with her grandmother in Sierra Madre, CA, while Scott rehabilitates at home. Skye intends to remain as invisible as possible as she starts middle school in a new city, reminding herself that the move is only temporary and that she will be back with her family and friends in a few months. Chronicling her experiences and emotions in her sketchbook/journal, Skye relies on her art as an outlet for her frustration and feelings of helplessness. Her life improves as she makes friends with other art students and as her emails with her brother become more than just part of his physical therapy, reconnecting the siblings in a relationship they hadn’t had since well before the accident. Problems arise at school in the form of a few football players who tease and bully the art students. Skye’s idea to get back at the jocks and the boys’ subsequent revenge make up the climax of the novel. The third-person narrative is accompanied by drawings, thoughts, and lists from Skye’s sketchbook. Her emotions and reactions are believable and the closeness she gradually develops with her brother is gratifying. A solid selection that incorporates themes of creative expression, friendship, and self-discovery.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

WATERS, Daniel. Generation Dead. 392p. Hyperion. 2008. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4231-0921-1. LC number unavailable.

Gr 9 Up—Phoebe and her fellow Oakvale High students aren’t quite sure why dead teenagers started coming back to life and attending their school. The eerie phenomenon is attributed to a combination of “teenage hormones and fast food preservatives,” happening only in the United States. Though Oakvale has a reputation for being most supportive of these “living impaired” teens, most of the students aren’t happy about the thought of having to eat, study, and socialize in an environment permeated with the deceased. Unlike most of her fellow students, Goth-girl Phoebe finds herself harboring a crush on Tommy, one of the dead teens. A love triangle soon develops when her friend Adam, who is supportive of Tommy and the zombies, realizes that he is also in love with her. A threat by another student to destroy the dead teens ultimately forces Adam to choose between old alliances and protecting the living dead teens he has come to admire. In this debut novel, Waters shows an impressive understanding of the factors affecting teens as they navigate the high school environment. Using humor to lighten a world that is mixed with both violence and horror, he is able to capture readers’ attention and sympathy for a group of very complex characters.—Caryl Soriano, New York Public Library

WEDEKIND, Annie. A Horse of Her Own. 275p. CIP. Feiwel & Friends. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-312-36927-9. LC 2007032769.

Gr 5–8—Jane Ryan, 14, is a capable rider whose family is not affluent enough for her to have her own horse. She rides a school horse for years, but then he is sold. Jane also tries to deal with the fact that the wealthy girls with whom she rides have never completely accepted her, except for Robin. When she gets the opportunity to ride Lancelot, a talented but difficult animal, she gains his trust and eventually wins the first Sunny Acres event. Tenacious and thoughtful, Jane is an appealing protagonist who gradually recognizes that being accepted no longer matters to her. The plot, though unremarkable, has enough twists, including a hint of romance, to sustain readers’ interest. The descriptions of the challenges involved in preparing for competing are believable, although the time needed to achieve success seems a bit short. This novel merits consideration where horse stories are popular.—Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

WITTLINGER, Ellen. Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. 245p. CIP. S & S 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-1623-9. LC 2007018330.

Gr 9 Up—Marisol Guzman, 18, puts off enrolling at Stamford for a year so she can write a novel. She gets a job at a local coffee shop and signs up for a writing course through the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Olivia, the instructor, is strikingly beautiful, a number of years older, and appears to have the knowledge and skills to teach the class. Looks can be deceiving, however, and Marisol learns this truth the hard way when she becomes involved in her first real sexual relationship. Her former buddy, Gio, whose romantic feelings for Marisol were thwarted because she is a lesbian, coincidentally registers for the same class and their friendship is restored. Marisol’s friend and apartment mate, Birdie; his new love, Damon; and Gio realize early on that Olivia is pushy, inconsiderate, and manipulative, but Marisol doesn’t listen. Wittlinger’s companion to Hard Love (S & S, 1999) effectively continues the story from Marisol’s point of view. Characters are well drawn and believable, and the interpersonal relationships realistic. Along with her friends, readers can see early on that Marisol’s relationship with “the teacher” is courting disaster. Witnessing Olivia’s jealousy and mistreatment and wishing Marisol would finally open her eyes creates effective page-turning tension. Although everything falls apart and it is too late to fix things, there is a note of hope at the end that cries out for yet another installment of this compelling story.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Fort Collins Regional Library District, CO

WOMACK, Philip. The Other Book. 272p. CIP. Bloomsbury. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-59990-201-2. LC 2007023977.

Gr 6–9—Edward, 12, finds The Other Book, old and dusty, in the school library, and suddenly his life is far more interesting than he would like. Connected with Merlin, this magical tome gives whomever possesses it tremendous powers, which have been horribly misused in the past. While trying to protect the book and figure out what’s going on, Edward experiences terrifying visions, ghostly knights, betrayal upon betrayal, kidnapping, and a sinister new teacher who will do anything, including commit murder, to get her hands on it. Part Arthurian quest, part gothic boarding school fantasy, the story includes a fair amount of violence and a not-completely-coherent plot. Characters appear out of the woodwork to rescue or impede Edward, who seems to make the wrong decisions over and over. Darren Shan fans might find this one appealing, but most readers can skip it.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library


ASHBY, Ruth. Rosa Parks: Courageous Citizen. ISBN 978-1-4027-4465-3. LC 2007019343.
FLEMING, Alice. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Dream of Hope. ISBN 978-1-4027-4439-6. LC 2007019271.
JONES, Victoria Garrett. Marian Anderson: A Voice Uplifted. ISBN 978-1-4027-4239-2. LC 2007019268. ea vol: 128p. (Sterling Biographies Series). photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Sterling. 2008. pap. $5.95.

Gr 6–8—The authors present their subjects from early childhood and follow them chronologically as their life achievements unfold. Each chapter begins with an appropriate quote that sets the stage for the content within. Informational sidebars help flesh out the story by providing a picture of the larger historical context such as a description of the northern migration of blacks after the Civil War or musicians’ lives during the Great Depression. Well-chosen archival photographs, such as a photo depicting a building with “whites only” and “colored” entrances, add important visual details. Surprisingly detailed facts enrich the accounts by providing a human element to these larger-than-life figures. All three books deliver information in clear, concise texts. They highlight the inspiring lives of important African Americans who, through their courage and conviction, fought against injustice and made significant contributions to society. An unfortunate omission is a lack of documentation for quotes and other material.—Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY

BAUGHAN, Brian. Business Leaders: Russell Simmons. 112p. ISBN 978-1-59935-075-2. LC 2007037797.
CORRIGAN, Jim. Business Leaders: Steve Jobs. 128p. ISBN 978-1-59935-076-9. LC 2007039052. ea vol: photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Morgan Reynolds. 2008. PLB $27.95.

Gr 7 Up—With covers that feature photos of their subjects set against a background of dollar bills, these books are strong resources for reports and may catch the eye of entrepreneurial-minded students. Baughan describes Simmons’s childhood in Queens, NY, his college days as a rap promoter, his teen years when he was involved with drugs, his early efforts as a music producer, business collaborations, and media empire (Def Jam Records, film production, Phat Farm clothing, etc.). Related events and personalities (e.g., the murders of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur) round out the depiction of the “Mogul of Rap’s” influence and the general cultural climate. The narrative ends with his creation of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and 2006 appointment as a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador. The second title takes a similar approach, addressing Jobs’s California childhood, early collaborations with Steve Wozniak (especially their 1976 founding of Apple Computer), 1985 resignation from Apple and return a decade later, and 1986 purchase of Pixar. Personal details include his tyrannical management style, his search for his biological parents, and his remarkable recovery from pancreatic cancer. The text concludes with the successful debut of the iPhone in 2007. Both volumes contain full-color photos that add visual appeal, sidebars about related topics, and helpful time lines. These are not tabloid-style pop biographies, but serious and balanced overviews of the sometimes-troubled lives of empire builders.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA

BILY, Cynthia A. Endangered Species. 128p. (Introducing Issues with Opposing Viewpoints Series). charts. maps. photos. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Gale/Greenhaven. 2008. PLB $33.70. ISBN 978-0-7377-3849-0. LC 2007031324.

Gr 5–10—This book exposes readers to diametrically opposed views, guides critical thinking, and dissects arguments to assist in the formation of personal views. The articles were written by various experts and proponents and go far in showing both points of view. They touch on general issues such as the importance of protecting wildlife and the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act, and more specific issue-related articles on the world’s fish population, extinction of polar bears, tiger farms, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, loss of the world’s rainforests, and the military’s use of sonar. The articles are well chosen and interesting, and the color photographs, graphs, and maps add substantially to the visual appeal and content. The book concludes with facts about endangered species, organizations to contact, and an excellent further-reading section. An illuminating presentation that will improve critical-thinking skills.—Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

BJORNLUND, Lydia. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. chron. ISBN 978-1-4205-0010-3. LC 2007024048.
CURRIE, Stephen. The African American Religious Experience. ISBN 978-1-4205-0006-6. LC 2007022998.
NARDO, Don. The Atlantic Slave Trade. chron. ISBN 978-1-4205-0007-3. LC 2007022999. ea vol: 104p. (Lucent Library of Black History Series). photos. reprods. further reading. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Gale/Lucent. 2008. PLB $32.45.

Gr 7 Up— Rosa Parks does a good job of taking readers inside the Civil Rights Movement and highlighting the role that the black citizens of Montgomery played in creating a successful boycott. However, the student sit-ins described in the last part of the book took place in Greensboro, North Carolina, not South Carolina as the book states. Religious Experience covers the period from African Americans’ arrival in this country as slaves to the present. While the emphasis is on Christianity, the book also includes Islam and its offshoots, particularly the Nation of Islam, but does not cover more marginalized cult movements, such as those led by Father Divine and Daddy Grace. Slave Trade provides a detailed description of that centuries-long event. Its value lies in the discussion of the experience from the perspectives of the traders and of the slaves. Nardo examines its impact on West Africa, its implication for the economic and social health of the entire African continent, the role that black Africans played in the sale of their countrymen, and the continuing shadow slavery still casts over this country’s race relations. The texts include extensive bibliographies, period illustrations, and primary-source documents.—Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ

BRENNAN, Stephen & Finn Brennan, eds. The Adventurous Boy’s Handbook. 224p. illus. maps. reprods. appendix. Web sites. CIP. Skyhorse. 2008. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-60239-222-9. LC 2008004308.

Gr 4 Up—Here’s another book for boys (and for nostalgic males of all ages), following in the wake of Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden’s The Dangerous Book for Boys (Collins, 2007). The Brennans have collected passages and segments of “boys’ guides” from the early 20th century on topics that include camping in the wilderness, building a fire without matches, firing a rifle or using a longbow, fishing, and how to treat a snakebite or a bee sting. Unfortunately, this handbook is a bit too much of a mishmash to work well. Quotes from various sources aren’t clearly identified or given publication dates or other bibliographic information, only a few of the authors quoted are identified by name, the tone of the prose changes from one paragraph to the next, and the quality of the black-and-white illustrations ranges from mediocre to poor. Stick with The Dangerous Book or any of the Boy Scout manuals for a better integrated “boy-friendly” experience.—Walter Minkel, Austin Public Library, TX

CARLSON, Lori Marie, ed. Voices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity. photos by Manuel Rivera-Ortiz. illus. by Flavio Morais. 96p. CIP. S & S/Atheneum. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-0635-3. LC 2006034161.

Gr 6–10—As in Moccasin Thunder (HarperCollins, 2005) and Red Hot Salsa (Holt, 2005), Carlson has drawn from both established and new writers, focusing on finding Latino voices that speak to contemporary readers. Collected here are poems and short stories whose subjects range from finding God in the clouds to a lust for eating chicken, from someone’s fingers on the hole in your jeans in a crowded café to someone asking, once again, “So, where are you from?” This collection sparkles more than its predecessors because of its dynamic design, featuring black-and-white photographs and line illustrations incorporated with the text in a collagelike magazine layout. Few pieces are longer than a spread or two, and the entire package encourages endless browsing, flipping, and double-dipping. Too bad this is a hardcover-only release, and too bad someone thought it needed the odd synopses that float like loud subtitles, prosaically describing and overburdening the pieces. Why does the title “Last Week I Wanted to Die” need a caption that reads: “A girl, plagued by thoughts of not fitting in, contemplates the meaning of death”? Why diminish “Poultrymorphosis” with the explanation “A boy describes eating his favorite food,” thereby soddening the appetite? But forgive this book its overzealousness—it still sings, and nudges its readers to do the same.—Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA

DAVENPORT, John. A Brief Political and Geographic History of Africa: Where Are Belgian Congo, Rhodesia, and Kush? ISBN 978-1-58415-624-6. LC 2007013175.
DAVENPORT, John. A Brief Political and Geographic History of the Middle East: Where Are Persia, Babylon, and the Ottoman Empire? ISBN 978-1-58415-622-2. LC 2007000795. ea vol: 111p. (Places in Time: A Kid’s Historic Guide to the Changing Names and Places of the World Series). maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Mitchell Lane. 2008. PLB $25.95.

Gr 5–9—These two volumes attempt to cover several thousand years of history of continent-size landmasses in just over 100 pages. Each is flawed in ways that are to be expected for such a project—many broad generalizations appear, entire periods are glossed over, and areas and peoples not part of empires or other political units generally don’t appear. There are minor factual errors in each volume including a caption in Middle East that claims that the rulers of Constantinople at the time of the Fourth Crusade were Arab Muslims. There are times when locations are described without maps, despite the geographic concentration of this series. At other times, maps are less than helpful, such as the map series in Africa showing the evolution of Cameroon that inexplicably ends in 1972. Page-long “For Your Information” segments sometimes expand on chapter topics but at other times are simply distractions. The same is true for illustrations. Librarians would do well to choose other titles that are more specific in temporal and geographic focus than these volumes.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI

DICONSIGLIO, John. Robespierre: Master of the Guillotine. ISBN 978-0-531-18554-4; ISBN 978-0-531-20503-7. LC 2007037473.
OLSON, Tod. Leopold II: Butcher of the Congo. photos. ISBN 978-0-531-18552-0; ISBN 978-0-531-20501-3. LC 2007034951. ea vol: 128p. (A Wicked History Series). maps. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Watts. 2008. PLB $30; pap. $5.95.

Gr 6–8—The word “tyrant” is spray-painted on the cover of Robespierre, one of the features of the book designed to appeal to reluctant readers. However, DiConsiglio’s history of the French Revolution is somewhat simplified and sensationalized, and is set forth without any explanation of its consequences or its effect on later French history. The riots in Paris are attributed to food shortages and the Third Estate’s frustration with the class system, but there is no wholly satisfying explanation of the enormity of the peasants’ reaction and the rampage of the sansculottes. The author provides some critical analysis in a final chapter that questions the aptness of the label “wicked,” but the point is mooted by the titillating presentation in the rest of the book. Leopold II, King of the Belgians from 1865 to 1909, is usually mentioned as a supporting character in studies of Stanley and Livingstone’s African explorations. This study of the monarch begins with the premise that he was “greedy,” a word that is splashed across the cover in graffiti-style lettering. This serves to engage readers with the question of how historical figures are viewed, particularly those who are typically depicted as villains, and to give a face to an otherwise impersonal history. In both works, central sections contain black-and-white period illustrations, and there are photographs in Leopold. Additional purchases for hi/lo nonfiction collections.—Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM

DILLON, Douglas. A Brief Political and Geographic History of Asia: Where Are Saigon, Kampuchea, and Burma? ISBN 978-158415-623-9. LC 2007000805.
RICE, Earle, Jr. A Brief Political and Geographic History of Latin America: Where Are Gran Colombia, La Plata, and Dutch Guiana? ISBN 978-1-58415-626-0. LC 2007000781. ea vol: 111p. (Places in Time: A Kid’s Historic Guide to the Changing Names and Places of the World Series). maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Mitchell Lane. 2008. PLB $25.95.

Gr 5–9—Both titles have lots of color, large type, many photos (not always relevant), plenty of maps (not always detailed enough), and clear writing. Chapters are followed by a one-page sidebar that features a biography or important event. Chapter source notes and further reading lists (including Internet sources) add value. The glossary is easily overlooked, and the index is only so-so. Asia (which does not cover western Asia) is written more simply and spotlights narrower geographical and temporal units: Vietnam during the ’65– ’75 war, Cambodia under the Khmers, Burma under the generals, Qin China, the Great Khans, the Mughals, and the Japanese Empire. A final time line connects some of these dots, while omitting, for instance, the dates of, or reference to, the Korean Conflict. Despite their name changes, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia receive only brief mentions, with Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Thailand, and Philippines getting none. The chapter on Tibet is firmly anti-China. Latin America begins with European contact, not with indigenous origins, and tries to cover basic South American history (with some big omissions, e.g., Panama Canal history). Many small but annoying errors mar the text, with some larger ones: “Portugal shipped thousands of Africans to Brazil” should read “millions,” for instance. Although this series focuses on place names, “Latin” in the continent name is not explained. These two volumes are attractive and may interest readers in history and geography despite the scattered examples of careless editing.—Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George’s School, Newport, RI

EAKLOR, Vicki L. Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century. 274p. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. CIP. Greenwood. 2008. Tr $65. ISBN 978-0-313-33749-9. LC 2007048218.

Gr 10 Up—Arranged chronologically except for a laborious beginning chapter explaining what gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history is, this scholarly and sometimes dense overview meticulously places the record of GLBT America in the context of U.S. history as a whole. For example, in a chapter on the 1960s, the author discusses Vietnam; the Great Society; and the civil rights, feminist, and peace movements before discussing the gay community during that era. Each chapter includes a sidebar with a pertinent debate topic, such as “How Important Was the Stonewall Riot?” In addition, the book has a time line of key events from 1890 to 2005 and an extensive bibliography, which add to the usefulness of this source for reports or for serious older teens who simply want to learn more about GLBT history in the U.S. Queer America will complement well Alsenas’s Gay America (Abrams, 2008), which is for younger students.—Betty S. Evans, Missouri State University, Springfield

EARTH MATTERS. 256p. charts. illus. maps. photos. index. Web sites. DK. 2008. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-7566-3435-3. LC number unavailable.

Gr 5 Up—This environmentally friendly book is sure to appeal to students who will be drawn to the look and feel of the package in addition to the spectacular color photographs. The text is divided into sections corresponding to the Earth’s regions: polar, temperate forests, deserts, grasslands, tropical forests, mountains, freshwater, and oceans. Maps locate the areas, and a scale guide based on average adult and child heights helps readers judge the size of the animals inhabiting the region under review. Page layouts vary, and there is a plethora of information presented in catchy, attention-grabbing ways. Web site references are offered on many pages, as are ideas for making a difference and helping to save the planet. The introduction offers the “big bang” theory as the explanation for Earth’s creation. The author tells of his plan to sail a boat made entirely out of recycled plastic bottles from the United States to Australia to bring attention to the mass (the size of Texas) of plastic pieces floating in the Pacific. Facts like this are sure to bring lots of “wows” from readers. A first-rate addition to all collections.—Patricia Ann Owens, Wabash Valley College, Mt. Carmel, IL

ENCARNACION, Elizabeth. The Girls’ Guide to Campfire Activities. w/DVD. illus. by Lisa Perrett. 200p. Applesauce. 2008. pap. $12.95. ISBN 978-1-60433-003-8. LC number unavailable.

Gr 4–6—Encarnacion takes readers on a virtual camping trip. The text starts with a step-by-step guide for building a campfire safely, followed by recipes, games, songs, and stories to share around it. The book concludes with a plan for hosting your own indoor campfire. Graphic-style cartoon illustrations are nicely done and capture the thrill of sitting around the fire listening to the woods and wildlife. The songs are silly fun, and the stories will have the campers squealing with frightened delight. An appealing volume that will give readers ideas for good old-fashioned fun.—Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta

School Library Journal starred reviewsFRADIN, Judy & Dennis Fradin. Earthquakes. 48p. (Witness to Disaster Series). diags. maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. National Geographic. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-4263-0211-4; PLB $26.90. ISBN 978-1-4263-0212-1. LC 2007044164.

Gr 4–6—Similar to the Fradins’ Hurricanes (National Geographic, 2007), this readable and attractive title gives an excellent historical perspective on its topic. Following an introduction that covers the 1964 Alaskan quake, the authors describe the causes of earthquakes, including passages on seismology and plate tectonics, along with the five most deadly aspects of the disasters—building collapse, fire, landslides, avalanches, and tsunamis. A section on notable historic quakes includes those in 1755 Lisbon; 1811 New Madrid, MO; 1906 San Francisco; 1923 Japan; 1970 Peru; and 1976 China. Subsequent information includes scientists’ efforts at prediction and measures to minimize damage and casualties. Throughout, the text features quotes from quake survivors, dramatic color photos, and diagrams to help illustrate topics covered. The combination of good writing and excellent graphics paired with the archival and personal perspectives on earthquakes makes this book a valuable addition.—Jeffrey A. French, formerly at Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, Willowick, OH

FRIEDMAN, Laurie. Angel Girl. illus. by Ofra Amit. unpaged. CIP. Carolrhoda. Sept. 2008. PLB $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8225-8739-2. LC 2007034779.

Gr 5–8—This picture book describes how young Herman Rosenblatt survived internment in a German concentration camp thanks in part to a girl who came to the barbed-wire fence each day and threw him an apple. Years later, after emigrating to the U.S., he and his “angel girl” were reunited by a blind date. They have been married for 50 years. This heartwarming story is told in a spare, poetic, first-person text that brings the poignancy of the young man’s situation to the surface. The stylized color illustrations are stark but not graphic. Light is well used to draw viewers to the characters’ faces, which is where the main action of this emotional tale takes place. While the pictures show no violence, the text, including the author’s note, does not shy away from mention of starvation, fear, and death. Little historical context is provided, which makes this book more appropriate for readers already familiar with the Holocaust. The romanticism and the fact that this is a true story (including a back-matter photo of the real Herman and Roma) should make this an easy sell to older children in spite of its picture-book format. As a story of resistance and survival, it fits in well with the trend in Holocaust juvenile literature of conveying messages of empowerment.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children’s Library at Congregation B’nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

GALLAGHER, Michael. South Africa. 32p. (Countries in the News Series). maps. photos. reprods. chron. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Smart Apple Media. 2007. PLB $27.10. ISBN 978-1-59920-020-0. LC 2006027526.

Gr 4–6—This accessible work covers the history, geography and government of South Africa, along with a look at a few of its ethnic groups and the country’s social structure and problems. The emphasis is on present-day issues. The author has done an admirable job of providing a series of verbal snapshots that generally do justice to the complexities of the country’s history and society in few words. Both the positive aspects of the new South Africa and its challenges are dealt with. The information is more accurate than in many similar titles. However, there are times when the explanation is simplistic or even misleading: for example, the blame for the widespread lack of basic education is placed partially on antiapartheid protests rather than on the decades of “Bantu education,” specifically designed to educate black South Africans only for manual labor. Unemployment is not mentioned as a problem. “What Do You Think?” boxes on every few spreads pose thought-provoking questions such as “…should South Africa be described as rich or poor?” The clear, well-captioned color photographs are superior to those usually found in books of this type. They focus on people, and readers are drawn into the human reality of the situation, particularly in shots such as that of a black domestic worker with her white employers. Useful for country reports.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City

GINN, Janel D., ed. Bilingual Education. 111p. (At Issue Series). bibliog. index. Web sites. Gale/Greenhaven. 2007. PLB $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7377-3912-1; pap. $21.20. ISBN 978-0-7377-3913-8. LC 2007938125.

Gr 9 Up—This volume presents 12 signed essays from passionate proponents of and opponents to bilingual education. Advocates, such as the linguist and professor at the University of Southern California, Stephen Krashen, feel that bilingual education gives ESL students the opportunity to develop literacy in their first language while learning English. Challengers, such as the author and editor Peter Duignan, favor English immersion as the most effective way to learn language and quickly assimilate into U.S. culture. This volume is well suited for debate topics and provides a list of organizations to contact for more information about the controversy.—Teresa Moffett, Fulton High School, Knoxville, TN

GRANT, Reg. World War II: The Events and Their Impact on Real People. w/DVD. 192p. maps. photos. reprods. chron. glossary. index. DK. 2008. Tr $24.99. ISBN 978-0-7566-3830-6. LC number unavailable.

Gr 7 Up—Grant draws upon the resources of Britain’s Imperial War Museum to introduce readers to the period. He covers the traditional topics such as the prelude to the conflict, the war in the European and Pacific theaters, the fall of Germany and Japan, and the resulting Cold War. He also includes information about how people were affected by these events. Each chapter spread discusses a specific topic in an introductory paragraph and about six to eight well-captioned photos of people, weapons, battle scenes, or maps. “Voices” sections quote people who experienced important parts of the war and include a few full-page photographs. The accompanying DVD features moving footage that supplements the material in the book. Grant is objective about the conflict, pointing out German and Japanese atrocities, but also mentioning the mistakes and sometimes misguided actions of the Allied nations. This book’s format and coverage are similar to that found in World War II: The People’s Story (Reader’s Digest, 2003), and it does not offer in-depth information or analysis that would help researchers. However, its attractive format will draw browsers and help teens gain a better understanding of the scope of the war and its enormous costs.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO

GREEN, Dan. Physics: Why Matter Matters! illus. by Simon Basher. 128p. glossary. index. CIP. Kingfisher. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-6214-0. LC 2007031805.

Gr 4–8—This follow-up to Adrian Dingle’s The Periodic Table (Kingfisher, 2007) introduces the elements of physics as anthropomorphic, cartoon-style characters. “You could say that these forceful fellows are the ones that really matter.” They are grouped by associations: “Old School” (mass, weight, density, etc.), “Hot Stuff” (energy, entropy, etc.), “Wave Gang” (sound, frequency, etc.), “Light Crew” (radio wave, microwave, etc.), “Atom Family” (proton, electron, etc.), “Nuclear Heavies” (radioactivity, alpha particle, etc.), and “Electric Cuties” (static electricity, electric current, etc.). Each of the groupings begins with an introduction and each concept is given its own spread that shows the cartoon figure and describes its “personality.” The information is presented in a chatty and conversational tone. For example, Blackbody Radiation is described as “a ninjalike shadow who swallows and slays the Light Crew.” Along with the narrative, which is written in the first person from the concept’s point of view, other key facts are presented. This book would be handy as a supplement to a physics curriculum.—Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

GREEN, Jen. Ancient Celts: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of the Celts’ Past. 64p. (National Geographic Investigates Series). maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. National Geographic. 2008. Tr $17.95. ISBN 978-1-4263-0225-1; PLB $27.90. ISBN 978-1-4263-0226-8. LC number unavailable.

Gr 3–7—With excellent-quality photographs and a well-written text, this is a thorough presentation of the most up-to-date knowledge about this ancient European culture, from its origins in 800 B.C. through A.D. 500, and cites the echoes of Celtic traditions that live on today. Aerial photos, time lines, informative sidebars, and National Geographic’s famous maps augment text that asks and answers interesting questions (“Why did the Celts make human sacrifices?” “What happened when the Romans came?”). Rigorous in its distinction between theory, supposition, and proven fact, the book has photos of artifacts, sites, and physical remains—including close-ups of Celtic “bog people” showing details such as manicured fingernails and hairdos. Scale is scrupulously noted for all objects and structures in both English and metric units. Numerous explanations of techniques and processes—both of the Celts and those employed by archaeologists to study them—inject an element of how-to, a canny addition that will hook readers fascinated by how things work and how we figure things out. Previous books on the subject for this age group have concentrated on the British Isles, or have focused on Celtic myths or daily life. Ancient Celts is a balanced, scientific account that doesn’t stint on the mummified remains. Sure to appeal to a broad range of learners.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD

HARRIS, Elizabeth Snoke & Rain Newcomb. The Mad Scientist’s Notebook. illus. by Ian Nagy. 80p. glossary. index. CIP. Sterling/Lark. 2008. PLB $14.95. ISBN 978-1-60059-009-2. LC 2007038893.

Gr 4–6—In its effort to put a playful touch on science, this book has lost its way. The mishmash of more than 35 experiments is presented in a cookbook format: list of ingredients, procedures, explanation. Most of the supplies will be found in a well-stocked home and most of the experiments don’t require adult supervision. When knives and open flames are required, a red stop sign is at the top of the page—most of the time. There are no step-by-step diagrams or illustrations, and the cartoon art is strictly decorative. Most of the experiments are standard fare, and in some cases the scientific explanations are confusing without diagrams. Real-world applications or descriptions of how the results could be taken to the next level are rarely included. Adding further frustration to using this book, which is meant to look like a scientist’s notebook, is the font—the light sans serif type makes for a difficult read. Save your budding scientists the frustration and stick with Vicki Cobb’s tried-and-true volumes.—Carol S. Surges, McKinley Elementary School, Wauwatosa, WI

HAUGEN, David M., ed. Islamic Fundamentalism. 129p. (At Issue Series). bibliog. index. Web sites. CIP. Gale/Greenhaven. 2007. PLB $29.95. ISBN 978-0-7377-3689-2; pap. $21.20. ISBN 978-0-7377-3690-8. LC 2007029302.

Gr 9 Up—After a brief introduction that discusses the various terms used to describe Islamic fundamentalists (such as “Islamists”), 12 articles from different points of view are presented. All of the essays were originally published in 2003 or later. The first briefly defines “Islamism” and “jihad,” which provides context for the subsequent articles. A variety of topics is covered, including Islam and democracy, Islam and the United States, Islam and Christianity, and Muslims and Islamism. The two articles on the position of women in Islam feel misplaced in a book so weighted toward the more political aspects of the religion. Otherwise, the presentation is quite well balanced. Each article includes some fact and some opinion, leaving readers to make up their own minds about the perspectives expressed. This title will most likely be used by those working on reports, but may also appeal to students trying to shape their worldview.—Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

HINTON, KaaVonia. Jacqueline Woodson. 48p. (Classic Storytellers Series). photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Mitchell Lane. 2008. PLB $29.95. ISBN 978-1-58415-533-1. LC 2007000669.

Gr 5–7—This biography details the life of a popular African-American author. It covers her childhood, the challenges she faced growing up during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, what inspired her to begin to write, and her many literary successes. The book is filled with photos of the writer at various stages of her life and the covers of some of her books. Young people should find inspiration in Woodson’s story, especially those who are fans of her work and would like to know more about her.—Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library

JOHNSON, Arne & Karen Macklin. Indie Girl. illus. by Michael Wertz. 136p. Zest. 2008. pap. $16.95. ISBN 978-0-9790173-3-9. LC 2007935189.

Gr 7 Up—A feisty guide for teens to bring their creative impulses to fruition. Fresh and fun in their approach, Johnson and Macklin walk readers through the basics of publishing a zine, mounting an art exhibit, forming a dance troupe, organizing a parade, filming a TV show, staging a play, and hosting a poetry slam. Each chapter is sprinkled with suggestions from successful professionals and other “insiders.” The chapter on mounting an art exhibit offers good, practical advice. The competition (and drive needed) in these fields is fierce. The accessible text also works hard to give readers a fuller understanding of why and how women can work together in the arts—that when there is collaboration, the possibilities are endless. There’s nothing new in terms of the advice, but this is a good guide nonetheless. A great choice for readers as they think about their futures.—Elaine Baran Black, Georgia Public Library Service, Atlanta

KALLEN, Stuart A. Alien Abductions. 104p. charts. maps. bibliog. ISBN 978-1-60152-023-4. LC 2007016584.
PARKS, Peggy J. Witches. 96p. glossary. ISBN 978-1-60152-031-9. LC 2007019093.
STEWART, Gail B. UFOs. 96p. ISBN 978-1-60152-030-2. LC 2007013351. ea vol: (The Mysterious & Unknown Series). illus. photos. reprods. further reading. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. ReferencePoint. 2007. PLB $24.95.

Gr 6–9—The lack of scientific evidence of alien abductions means that any nonfiction book on the topic will rely heavily on unverified stories. Therefore, though Alien Abduction tells some good tales, it struggles to fill a 100-page book with substantial information. Witches traces the history of so-called witchcraft from the Middle Ages through the Salem witch trials, detailing the torture methods used on the accused. The final two chapters deal with the Wiccan religion and modern-day practices. Although Parks states that the two movements are not the same, readers may be confused since some Wiccans call themselves witches, and members of both groups claim to cast spells and use magic. The book’s tone is matter-of-fact, even when discussing how these people cast spells, tell the future, and communicate with spirits. Only the final two paragraphs mention the absence of scientific proof that witchcraft is real. UFOs, the strongest of these titles, combines numerous stories of sightings with historical and scientific details about investigations, providing a balanced view of a controversial topic. In addition to well-known happenings such as the Roswell incident and the crop circles of the 1970s, Stewart includes some intriguing new cases from the last decade as well as information on what our government and the scientific community are doing (or not doing) to investigate UFO activity. Colorful illustrations and appealing design will encourage readers to pick up these accessible books.—Marcia Kochel, Olson Middle School, Bloomington, MN

KANT, Jared Douglas, with Martin Franklin & Linda Wasmer Andrews. The Thought That Counts: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. 169p. (The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands’ Adolsecent Mental Health Initiative Series). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Oxford Univ. 2008. Tr $30. ISBN 978-0-19-531688-9; pap. $9.95. ISBN 978-0-19-531689-6. LC 2007035115.

Gr 8 Up—Part memoir, part educational self-help tool, this book lives up to the double entendre embodied in the title. Kant tells of his life as an uptight junior high student who found that his obsessions were beyond the realm of the ordinary and placed him in the approximately one percent of the population with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Blessed with loving, affluent parents, he was sent to the best doctors, therapists, and even a boarding school where he received the support and therapy he needed. Each chapter chronicles a new stage in his life from acknowledging to accepting his disorder. He recounts his struggles as well as his triumphs, making it clear that there is no easy fix for OCD, but also emphasizing that it does not have to control one’s life. Written in conjunction with a medical professional, the second half of each chapter gives practical information on definitions, treatments, and tips for living comfortably with this disorder. Although still in his early 20s, Kant has learned to identify his own strengths and weaknesses and adjust his approach to life to make the most of his individual gifts. This book would be helpful for those who are diagnosed with OCD at a young age. The personal voice is strong; Kant tells his story with humor and in a self-deprecating style.—Wendy Smith-D’Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD

KELLER, Bill. Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela. 128p. illus. photos. reprods. chron. index. notes. CIP. Kingfisher. 2008. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-7534-5992-8. LC 2007003559.

Gr 8 Up—Keller draws on his years of experience as the Johannesburg bureau chief for the New York Times in this compact profile of South Africa’s leading political figure. Beginning with the 1994 visit of Mandela and his surviving fellow former prisoners to Robben Island, he looks back to the history of white colonization and the National Party’s introduction of formal apartheid in the mid-20th century. The treatment of Mandela’s rise from a student headed for a career in tribal government to leader and revolutionary in the antiapartheid resistance movement, then political prisoner and eventual president of his country, is absorbing and fair-minded. Keller doesn’t gloss over the less-savory aspects of Mandela’s character (“He sometimes misled his allies and manipulated his followers. He was willing to let innocent people die in the cause of liberation”), but paints a portrait of a man of courage and leadership who, when faced with difficult choices, did whatever was necessary to achieve his goal. The period spent in prison (“Robben Island University”) is covered briefly, and the author’s compelling first-person account of postapartheid unrest emphasizes the messy reality of the major social upheavals that make up history. Articles from the Times and other sources provide historical viewpoints on apartheid and Mandela’s story. Well-chosen black-and-white and full-color photographs enhance the text. A good first purchase for biography and current-events collections.—Rebecca Donnelly, Loma Colorado Public Library, Rio Rancho, NM

LANE, Kimberly. Come Look with Me: Asian Art. 32p. (World of Art Series). photos. reprods. CIP. Charlesbridge. 2008. RTE $15.95. ISBN 978-1-890674-19-9. LC 2007037926.

Gr 3–7—The book is intended to introduce children to fine art in various Asian countries in an accessible manner, and it succeeds. Following the format of previous titles, Lane presents a dozen full-color reproductions, done in various mediums and representing different time periods, along with background information and discussion starters. The author points out that while viewing art in person is best, this book can be a wonderful tool for one-on-one or small-group usage. The information is interesting and similar to what one might learn on a museum tour. Such questions as, “Where does your eye go first when you look at the painting?” can be addressed to a broad audience. Similar to Joyce Raimondo’s “Art Explorers” series (Watson-Guptill), Come Look with Me has enough differences for both sets to have a place on library shelves.—Lisa Glasscock, Columbine Public Library, Littleton, CO

LEVY, Gavin. Acting Games for Individual Performers: A Comprehensive Workbook of 110 Acting Exercises. 235p. bibliog. CIP. Meriwether. 2007. pap. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-56608-146-7. LC 2007016289.

Gr 9 Up—Some of the exercises in this diverse collection rely on specific events (going to the dentist, having a broken heart), some are to be practiced daily for an extended period of time (keeping a journal), and some can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Many ask students to watch clips from movies. Each exercise has questions for actors to ask themselves and different variations of completing it, and states the purpose behind it. The book is divided into 21 acting elements (improv, physical, emotional recall, vocal, characterization, imagination, etc.) with three to six exercises in each one. Unlike older acting-games books on the market, this one utilizes a multimedia approach and is not geared toward group rehearsal.—Terrilyn Fleming, Colby Public Schools, KS

MALASPINA, Ann. The Ethnic and Group Identity Movements: Earning Recognition. 176p. ISBN 978-0-7910-9571-3. LC 2007021721.
MOUNTJOY, Shane. The Women’s Rights Movement: Moving Toward Equality. 156p. ISBN 978-0-7910-9505-8. LC 2007021696. ea vol: (Reform Movements in American History Series). photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Chelsea House. 2008. PLB $30.

Gr 6–10—Malaspina explains how leaders within the Asian, disability, Chicano, senior, gay, American Indian, and Muslim communities drew on the models of the successful civil and women’s rights movements to build group identity and improve the political and social treatment of their members. Women’s Rights opens with background about the Roman and English legal systems that were precedents for the legal status of American women. Mountjoy then discusses the roots of the American women’s rights movement in the temperance and abolitionist movements, describing how the leadership of such women as Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt eventually resulted in the success of the 19th Amendment. He closes with a detailed overview of the failed Equal Rights Amendment. The authors are objective and include the arguments of those who opposed the goals of increased awareness and rights for minority groups and women. Both titles are well documented. Illustrations include black-and-white and color photos and period art. Although students will find the first volume a good starting point for research, Women’s Rights adds little to the numerous titles on the topics, such as Martha E. Kendall’s Failure Is Impossible: The History of American Women’s Rights (Lerner, 2005) and Carol Rust Nash’s The Fight for Women’s Right to Vote in American History (Enslow, 1998), making it an additional purchase for most collections.—Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO

MALONEY, Alison. The Family Book: Amazing Things to Do Together. illus. by David Woodroffe. 192p. Scholastic. Aug. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-545-05757-8. LC number unavailable.

Gr 4–7—Think of this as a one-stop guide for all types of activities, from practical jokes to magic, and what to do in an emergency. This broad compilation includes enough ideas and directions to keep kids and families occupied and interacting. Pranks like how to short sheet a bed, games, puzzles, advice, and mathematical wonders are all included. Unlikely ideas like how to convince your neighbors that you are royalty or perhaps vampires may not be advisable or even successful, but the idea of play-acting comes across. Green ideas like making toys from junk or creating compost are worthwhile, and safety tips such as how to build a shelter in the forest are more practical than others, such as how to wash a dog in space. Despite the juxtaposition of likely and unlikely activities, there is enough here to keep readers interested. Simple black line drawings clarify the directions and suggest possible reactions. The characterizations result in a 1950s look and feel. Whether this is for kids or adults or both begs the question. There is something for everyone easily discovered via the zippy titles or humorous images that accompany the one- to three-page explanations. Text is simple and descriptive although the arithmetic might take a bit of effort.—Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library

MENDELL, David. Obama: A Promise of Change. adapt. by Sarah L. Thomson. 182p. photos. reprods. notes. HarperCollins/Amistad. 2008. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-169701-2; pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-06-169700-5. LC number unavailable.

Gr 6–8—This adaptation of Mendell’s adult book Obama: From Promise to Power (HarperCollins, 2007) summarizes the life of Obama through March 2008, describing his upbringing, changing family, education, and political work. The text is accurate and well researched, with endnotes providing citations for each chapter. Captioned black-and-white photographs appear in a centerfold. Though the lack of an index makes this title more appropriate for reading from cover to cover than for research projects, the table of contents does allow youngsters to locate specific times in Obama’s life by topic. Brief chapters and accessible vocabulary are appropriate for the intended audience, although adult assistance might be needed for total comprehension of the discussions of how politicians operate in party politics, run campaigns, and hire image-builders. These ideas may be unfamiliar to younger kids, and may need some explanation.—Sara Rofofsky Marcus, Yeshiva Har Torah, Little Neck, NY

MORTENSEN, Lori. The Sphinx. ISBN 978-0-7377-3633-5. LC 2007032098.
NARDO, Don. Martians. ISBN 978-0-7377-3639-7. LC 2007030616.
SCHULTE, Mary. Sirens. ISBN 978-0-7377-3451-5. LC 2007032097. ea vol: 48p. (Monsters Series). photos. reprods. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Gale/KidHaven. 2007. PLB $26.20.

Gr 4–7—In these titles, the authors present the history, cultural links, and vocabulary associated with a good scare. In Martians, Nardo walks readers through everything from early astronomical observations of the Red Planet to Martians in the movies and on television. His writing is clear, informative, and often humorous. These are qualities sorely lacking in Sirens and The Sphinx. With long, odd tangents and poor, unfocused writing, they leave readers unsatisfied. Even the photographs, which are well chosen and kitschy in Martians, miss the mark here.—Tracy H. Chrenka, Forest Hills Public Schools, Grand Rapids, MI

MYSPACE COMMUNITY, with Jeca Taudte. MySpace/OurPlanet: Change Is Possible. illus. by Dan Santat. 166p. glossary. Web sites. HarperCollins/Bowen Press. 2008. pap. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-156204-4. LC number unavailable.

Gr 8 Up—Geared toward teens, this collection of MySpace postings focuses on what readers can do in their daily activities, social lives, and communities to help the environment. Each chapter breaks down the setting into its individual components. For example, the chapter “Your Home, Your Planet” gives environmental hints for making one’s room, bathroom, kitchen, and yard more eco-friendly. The modern layout, with green foliage on each page and purple and green font, as well as the slang, will be engaging for young adults. Highlighted boxes, located in most chapters, give facts about topics such as recycling, carbon dioxide, alternative fuels, alternative spring break, and television. The recycling box starts with, “Lose virginity: recycle” and contains facts about virgin materials saved by recycling newspapers, aluminum cans, glass containers, and plastic soda bottles. Myths and facts about the environment are explored. This book gives excellent suggestions for helping to help the environment, and is sure to encourage teen activism.—Teresa Moffett, Fulton High School, Knoxville, TN

PAGE, Jason. Cycling, Shooting, and Show Jumping. ISBN 978-0-7787-4013-1; ISBN 978-0-7787-4030-8. LC 2008005102.
PAGE, Jason. Decathlon, High Jump, and Other Field Events. ISBN 978-0-7787-4014-8; ISBN 978-0-7787-4031-5. LC 2008004907.
PAGE, Jason. Martial Arts, Boxing, and Other Combat Sports. ISBN 978-0-7787-4016-2; ISBN 978-0-7787-4033-9. LC 2008004910.
PAGE, Jason. Rowing, Sailing, and Other Sports on Water. ISBN 978-0-7787-4017-9; ISBN 978-0-7787-4034-6. LC 2008005006.
PAGE, Jason. Sprints, Hurdles, and Other Track Events. ISBN 978-0-7787-4018-6; ISBN 978-0-7787-4035-3. LC 2008044954.
PAGE, Jason. Swimming, Diving, and Other Water Sports. ISBN 978-0-7787-4019-3; ISBN 978-0-7787-4036-0. LC 2008004956. ea vol: 32p. (The Olympic Sports Series). illus. photos. index. CIP. Crabtree. 2008. PLB $26.60; pap. $8.95.

Gr 4–6—These books aim to provide brief introductions to sports featured in the Summer Olympics. Each one includes a collection of factoids and photos; however, the cluttered design and poorly organized texts give little more than a muddled impression of each sport. Photos placed across the centerfold of each spread are problematic: in several instances, heads and faces are not visible, and participants are not clearly identified. A number of better Olympic overviews are available, such as Sue Macy’s Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Olympic Games (National Geographic, 2008), and for older readers, David Wallechinsky’s The Complete Book of the Olympics (Aurum, 2008) is the definitive guide.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

PARKER, Steve. Human Body. 30p. (Discoverology Series). diags. illus. photos. index. Barron’s. 2008. Tr $18.99. ISBN 978-0-7641-6083-7. LC 2006940782.

Gr 5–9—This eye-catching interactive journey into the human body features spinning wheels, flaps, foldouts, diagrams, electron-microscope photos, X-ray images, and more. The fact-filled text printed in white on solid black backgrounds incorporates an introductory paragraph on each topic, a multitude of captions for the many illustrations, and “Facts” boxes to present snippets to absorb while pulling those tabs and spinning those wheels. Topics covered include the expected and requested: respiration, digestion, muscles, hormones, reproduction, etc. The latter simply sports a wheel showing stages in fetal development, a prenatal ultrasound scan, a pair of diagrams of male and female reproductive organs, and an electron microscope photo of an egg surrounded by sperm. (The section on hormones is equally discreet.) The information covered is in keeping with what kids request for reports, and in sound bites brief enough to keep attention spans in focus (if it weren’t for the distraction of those pop-ups and pull tabs). The paper engineering is attractive but fragile, some of the tabs will be torn off in a trice, and the binding is ultra-delicate—but oh, the fun of lifting off the layers of the brain!—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

PRICE, Joan A. Contemporary Thought. 160p. (Understanding Philosophy Series). charts. diags. photos. reprods. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Chelsea House. 2008. PLB $35. ISBN 978-1-7910-8792-3. LC 2007028465.

Gr 10 Up—This book provides a detailed but accessible discussion of various schools of thought from philosophers and philosophical movements from the 18th century on. Starting with Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianism, Price includes chapters on “The Individual,” “Pragmatism,” “Process Philosophy,” “Analytic Philosophy,” “Phenomenology,” and “Existentialism.” Thinkers such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, and de Beauvoir receive a fair amount of biographical attention, but not enough for the book to stand as a sole source of information about them. Instead, the volume’s strength is Price’s ability to elucidate what can be fairly heady reading material. Black-and-white photos or illustrations of the figures break up the text, and a lengthy bibliography and solid index are appended. Readers in need of an introduction to a particular philosophy or those who want an easily understood approach to a philosopher will find it here.—Carol Fazioli, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Gwynedd Valley, PA

School Library Journal starred reviewsREICH, Susanna. Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin. 176p. maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Clarion. 2008. Tr $21. ISBN 978-0-618-71470-4. LC 2007038847.

Gr 5–8—Using primary sources, including Catlin’s own diaries and letters, Reich helps readers understand the importance of the artist’s work and to see him as a man in his own time. The personal documents expose both selfless and selfish sides of his character. At times, he was sensitive to the Native peoples and their cultures, but he also used them for his own gain. Readers also see the artist as a neglectful family man and less-than-successful businessman; however, above all, Catlin is seen as an adventurer. Many of his paintings illustrate the text and add to a sense of excitement. A few of the larger reproductions are in color, giving a clearer view of the artist’s palette and style. Other period works are also included. All are well captioned with additional identification and information that ties in to the text. Quotations are carefully documented in chapter footnotes. The author’s note explains her choice of terminology and spelling as well as her efforts to avoid cultural bias in writing this book. This is an excellent choice for libraries looking for good biographies, either for reports or pleasure reading.—Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

RIORDAN, James. The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor. illus. by Shelley Fowles. 64p. maps. glossary. Frances Lincoln. 2008. Tr $18.95. ISBN 978-1-84507-531-6. LC number unavailable.

Gr 4–6—The legendary journeys of the restless sailor, whose adventures are found in Western translations of The Arabian Nights, contain stories of mythical beasts, harrowing adventures, and marvelous riches. Riordan’s retellings are imaginative and accessible without being oversimplified. Fowles’s pen-and-ink and acrylic illustrations are colorful and merry. Two of the stories refer to foreigners (including cannibals) as “dark-skinned men,” which detract from the otherwise fluid narratives. An afterword about the stories and a glossary are welcome additions. The endpapers are full-color stylized maps, and libraries would do well to find alternatives to covering them up.—Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA

RODRÍGUEZ, Ann María. Secret of the Sleepless Whales… and More! 48p. (Animal Secrets Revealed! Series). photos. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Enslow. 2008. PLB $23.93. ISBN 978-0-7660-2957-6. LC 2007039479.

Gr 4–6—Despite its tabloid style, this book actually does a thorough job of explaining the behaviors of some marine mammals and the scientific methods used to investigate them. Each chapter opens with initial questions that aroused the curiosity of scientists. The team that worked on the specific issue is identified, and the methodology they used to answer their scientific inquiry is described in detail. Much of the information is provided in a jaunty style; readers learn how dolphins are able to dive very deep; how harbor seals track prey underwater via their ultrasensitive whiskers; how dolphin mothers in Shark Bay, Australia, use marine sponges to protect their snouts as they probe the ocean floor for food; and how the Weddell seal of Antarctica uses a blast of bubbles to dislodge bork fish from underwater sea ice. The full-color photos are interesting but not always of great quality. Although a grammar check might have eliminated some of the questionable usages and errors, the content is solid with seamless explanations of terms, and it’s fun to read.—Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA

SAPET, Kerrily. Rhythm and Folklore: The Story of Zora Neale Hurston. 160p. maps. photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Morgan Reynolds. 2008. PLB $27.95. ISBN 978-1-59935-067-7. LC 2008000844.

Gr 7 Up—Sapet has added to the growing number of biographies on this literary figure aimed at young adults. She places particular emphasis on Hurston’s turbulent personal life and on her struggle to live independently despite constant financial troubles. Everything was against her: her race, her gender, her temperament, her worldview. But she was a force of nature, a true “genius of the South.” Her life was a great adventure, and readers will be caught up in its many twists and turns. The author also helps define Hurston as a pioneering folklorist and ethnographer, roles that are less evident in other biographies. Good-quality black-and-white and full-color photos appear throughout. This clearly written and well-documented book should be useful for reports and will enhance teen biography sections. Those who want to read more about Hurston and her literary contributions should turn to Robert E. Hemenway’s groundbreaking adult biography (Univ. of Illinois, 1980).—Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ

SHERROW, Victoria. Food Safety. 168p. (Point/Counterpoint Series). illus. reprods. appendix. chron. further reading. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Chelsea House. 2008. PLB $32.95. ISBN 978-0-7910-9289-7. LC 2007026652.

Gr 7–10—This well-organized volume discusses many of the questions teens may have about food production, including the use of chemicals, hormones, genetic engineering, and more. The relevant laws are explained, and the pro and con arguments are presented factually, through text that is fairly easy to read. Although this is not a topic that will engage a multitude of readers for pleasure reading, it is timely, and the book will be of interest to students who may have been following recent news stories. It’s also an excellent resource for reports, as it includes extensive notes and resource lists and a time line of important U.S. laws about food safety.—Robin Henry, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX

SIVERTSEN, Linda & Tosh Sivertsen. Generation Green: The Ultimate Teen Guide to Living an Eco-Friendly Life. 248p. further reading. Web sites. S & S/Pulse. Aug. 2008. pap. $10.99. ISBN 978-1-4169-6122-2. LC 2008922275.

Gr 9 Up—A thorough yet accessible manual on green living. Sivertsen and her teenage son draw on scientific findings, personal experience, and interviews with celebrities and teens to provide readers with environmentally responsible lifestyle alternatives, from organic cosmetics to natural kitchen cleaners to green career opportunities. The “Five Rs”—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink, Refuse—provide a framework for embracing an alternative to rampant consumerism. The book’s incisive voice, using teen idioms, is accessible to those who have little or no background in environmental issues, yet the standards within will likewise engage readers already committed to being green. Though there is no index and the many pop-culture references may hinder the work’s longevity, this volume will appeal to the target audience. Chapters are broken into frequent, user-friendly subheadings, and special interviews—many with energetic, activist teens—are clearly designated; decorative illustrations complement the text. Listings of green Web sites, charities, and organizations are included. In addition to being a handy, information-rich companion to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (Viking, 2007) and Laurie David and Cambria Gordon’s The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (Scholastic, 2007), Generation Green is also unique, for its central focus is not to explain the science behind current environmental challenges, but rather to reveal how young people can work to solve those problems in their everyday lives.—Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA

VAN TUYL, Christine, ed. Zoos and Animal Welfare. 111p. (Issues That Concern You Series). charts. photos. reprods. appendix. bibliog. index. Web sites. CIP. Gale/Greenhaven. 2007. PLB $33.70. ISBN 978-0-7377-3818-6. LC 2007036344.

Gr 5 Up—The debate over zoos is presented in 12 distinctive articles—six for and six against—with the purpose of helping readers make up their minds on the subject. The essays look at whether animals suffer in captivity, whether elephants are better off in zoos or in sanctuaries, whether surplus animals are a problem, and whether or not zoos play a positive role in education. There are no winners or losers here, because strong arguments are supplied on both sides, yet the introduction, which briefly summarizes zoo history and current practices, leans to the side in favor of zoos by virtue of the amount of space it devotes to the argument and the verbiage selected. Detractors are said to make “claims,” while supporters make “arguments,” a subtle, yet effective way to sway students. These articles themselves are well presented with a brief descriptive blurb and follow back to back, pro and con. The views of Captive Animals’ Protection Society, In Defense of Animals, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are represented, along with those of some independent experts. Attractive photography, cartoons, charts, and graphs support the text, although there is some wasted dead-white space. A “What You Should Do About Zoos and Animal Welfare” section is appended. Students will get a good start on their research projects using this title, and, if their mission is to take action, the final section is a solid guide.—Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

WINGARD-NELSON, Rebecca. Decimals and Fractions. ISBN 978-0-7660-2877-7. LC 2007018325.
WINGARD-NELSON, Rebecca. Figuring Out Geometry. ISBN 978-0-7660-2880-7. LC 2007029383. ea vol: 64p. (Math Busters Series). illus. further reading. index. Web sites. CIP. Enslow. 2008. PLB $27.93.

Gr 5–8—Each title begins with an introduction about the importance of mathematics in daily life. The layouts are clear and colorful, and the explanations are easy to understand. Each topic is presented on a spread with simple step-by-step instructions, for example, for comparing unlike fractions. Boxed and circled areas provide definitions of key terms and further explanations. Colorful cartoon illustrations enliven the texts, and simple line drawings help to clarify mathematical concepts. Many of the subjects include sample questions, with answers on the same page. The first title introduces the different kinds of fractions (mixed and equivalent) and decimals and how to work with them. Powers of 10 and percents are also discussed. The second title explains points, lines, planes, rays and line segments, angles, various shapes, and more. For each book, worksheets are available to download free from the publisher’s Web site.—Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA

WOODS, Michael & Mary B. Woods. Environmental Disasters. charts. maps. ISBN 978-0-8225-6774-5. LC 2006036730.
WOODS, Michael & Mary B. Woods. Space Disasters. illus. ISBN 978-0-8225-6775-2. LC 2007030529. ea vol: 64p. (Disasters Up Close Series). photos. reprods. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. Web sites. CIP. Lerner. 2008. PLB $27.93.

Gr 4–6—These books share a similar format: concepts in science and engineering are complemented with historical case studies. Captioned, full-page color photographs reveal the enormity of such incidents as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the space shuttle Challenger explosion. Though the content is comparable to that of other volumes, including those in the “Earth Watch” (Sea-to-Sea) and “Natural Disasters” series (Smart Apple Media), these works excel in providing source notes, bibliographies, and even a list of relevant places to visit. The historical scenarios are presented in chronological order, and time lines summarize each volume for convenient reference. Both include relatively recent events, such as the 2003 Columbia tragedy. They also encompass a global perspective, from the 1930s American dust bowl to a 2005 chemical plant explosion in Jilin, China; likewise a sense of tragedy is equally palpable for lost Western astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. In certain places sentences seem vague or choppy, and Space details more hard data than Environmental. However, the overall effect of the titles conveys the seriousness of the issues presented, and the struggles will attract readers. Great updates.—Jeff Meyer, Slater Public Library, IA