May 26, 2017

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SLJ’s May 2016 Popular Picks

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SLJ’s new Popular Picks features must-have titles that are sure fly of the shelves! This month’s picks includes Tom Angleberger, Monica Brown, Sarah J. Maas, and Susan Cain. These reviews appeared in SLJ’s May 2016 issue.

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Picture Books

Atteberry, Kevan. Puddles!!! illus. by Kevan Atteberry. 32p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780062307842. POP

Toddler-PreS –Monster is busy playing in the woods with his friends, the bunnies. They watch a storm build and the rain start. Then Monster has fun playing in the puddles and mud (much to the dismay of the bunnies), and they are eventually driven to a cave to wait out the inevitable thunder and lightning. The wait seems long, but the reward is a beautiful rainbow. Atteberry aptly tells this story using only 13 words. The characters are adorably expressive and show fear, sadness, and exuberance with equal aplomb. VERDICT Recommended for all libraries; sure to be a hit at preschool storytime.–Melisa Bailey, Harford County Library System, MD

Brown, Monica. Marisol McDonald and the Monster/Marisol McDonald y el monstruo. illus. by Sara Palacios. 40p. glossary. Lee & Low. May 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9780892393268. BL POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Marisol McDonald is back and is as magical, mismatched, and marvelous as ever. Marisol loves Monday mornings, her favorite maestra, milk, mangoes, and lots of other things that begin with the letter m. According to her brother, Marisol is too old to be afraid of monsters, but that doesn’t stop her from imagining the spookiest monster she can dream up. In an effort to take control of her anxiety, the ever-creative Marisol decides to make her own friendly, one-of-a-kind sock puppet monster, Melody, so that the idea of a monster doesn’t seem as scary. But when she begins hearing loud bumps in the night, she convinces herself that her worst fear is becoming a reality: that there’s a hairy, mean, sharp-tooth monster living under her bed! With the help of her loving and supportive family, Marisol faces her fears and finally solves the mystery. As with Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match and Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash, the high-quality bilingual text is slightly mismatched, but the inclusion of two glossaries will ensure comprehension in both Spanish and English, making the tale an ideal choice for one-on-one reading. Whimsical and thoughtfully bicultural mixed-media illustrations lend themselves to the relatable nature of the story. Young readers will be inspired to talk about their fears and face them head-on with confidence and creativity. VERDICT A must-have for all collections.–Natalie Braham, Denver Public Library

Goetz, Steve. Old MacDonald Had a Truck. illus. by Eda Kaban. 44p. Chronicle. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452132600. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –A new twist on a classic story and song, this book is just pure fun. All readers know about Old MacDonald and the things on his farm. But they will love the new toys he has in this tale. All the usual animal friends are present in the illustrations, but he’s also got excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks. The lyrics of the song may have a nonsense-type flow, but that will make singing/telling the story that much more fun. The illustrations are rich and tell as much of the story as the text does. Gender roles are slightly flipped, as Old MacDonald’s partner in the book is a woman who clearly knows her way around the farm and a steamroller, too. This is a book that could be used to teach a multitude of lessons. VERDICT Highly recommended as a first purchase, this entertaining read will bring a new dimension to storytime.–Shannan Hicks, J.S. Clark Elementary School Library, LA

Schwartz, Corey Rosen & Rebecca J. Gomez. Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks. illus. by Dan Santat. 40p. Putnam. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399176265. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –After their mother is abducted by a fox, chickens Hensel and Gretel take rescue into their own hands by learning to become ninjas in this rollicking fractured fairy tale. They train at the 3 Pigs Dojo (recognizable to fans of The Three Ninja Pigs), until one evening they return home to find their coop ransacked and Papa gone. Leaving a trail of crumbs, they search the forest until stumbling upon a house made of delicious corn bread. After Hensel is taken in (literally and figuratively) by the fox, Gretel pops down the chimney and the pair leap, kick, and slice their way to justice. Action and movement abound in a fast-paced tale brimming with silliness and humor. Rhyming text never misses a beat, flowing smoothly and incorporating laughs into every line: “You two Ninja Chicks got us out of that fix, and justice—not dinner—was served.” Santat’s comic-style panels keep momentum going with richly colored mixed-media illustrations and showcase two hilariously expressive kick-butt heroines. No helpless, victimized protagonists here—only empowered poultry, ready to make it their mission to “rescue, protect, and defend.” VERDICT Even those unfamiliar with the previous tales from this team will love this retelling. A great addition for any library.–Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Zuill, Andrea. Wolf Camp. illus. by Andrea Zuill. 32p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553509120. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –This picture book debut introduces readers to a cartoon canine who sets his sights on attending Wolf Camp. From the moment an advertisement falls out of the bag of kibble into his bowl, Homer begs his people to let him go. At camp, he and his fellow campers learn the fine arts of marking, howling, and tracking, all in preparation for their first hunt with counselors Fang and Grrr. In a letter home to his family, readers learn that Homer’s a little homesick, but by story’s end the campers have adjusted to life in the wild like naturals. They return home with honorary certificates and are forever changed, as evidenced by Homer’s nighttime howling. Pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations have a comic feel owing to the frequent use of word and thought bubbles and the arrangement of the action on the page, which often appears in borderless panels. Meet the new dog in town; here’s hoping this won’t be the last we see of Homer. Kids anticipating attending camp themselves soon will relate to the humor and enjoy the way the artwork extends the story. VERDICT Adding this fun and engaging selection to picture book collections and storytimes will ensure some happy campers and a howlingly good time.–Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH

1605-POP-Picks-Chap-MGChapter Books

Angleberger, Tom. Inspector Flytrap. illus. by Cece Bell. 112p. (Inspector Flytrap: Bk 1). Abrams/Amulet. Aug. 2016. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9781419709487. POP

Gr 2-5 –Only Angleberger and Bell could make a Venus flytrap and a goat a viable combination as a mystery-solving duo, as they do in this heavily illustrated new chapter book series. Inspector Flytrap (never “Mister Flytrap,” as he often corrects clients) and his goat assistant, Nina, run Flytrap Detective Agency. Flytrap’s interested only in solving “BIG DEAL” mysteries, while Nina seems motivated purely by her ravenous appetite—indeed, she has a bad habit of occasionally eating evidence. The potted inspector makes his way about town on a skateboard, pushed by his hungry, sarcastic goat colleague. Each short section focuses on a different mystery (a blob on a da Vinci painting, a stinky shoe on top of a cookie bakery, and a missing rose at Snooty a la Tooty Gardens) that ends with hilarious results. VERDICT This quirky series debut will amuse and intrigue young readers; a series sure to “fly” off the shelves.–Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC

Middle Grade

Bildner, Phil. Rookie of the Year. illus. by Tim Probert. 224p. (Rip and Red: Bk. 2). Farrar. Jul. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780374301347. POP

Gr 4-6 –In this sequel, readers return to fifth grade with Red (a red-haired boy on the autism spectrum) and his best friend Rip (an African American boy with dreadlocks) and their friends and classmates. Red and Rip continue to love and play basketball and are on the team coached by their teacher Mr. Acevedo. Those new to the series will get enough details and will be completely engaged in the shot-by-shot descriptions of basketball games. Added to the class is a new student, Takara (Tiki). Tiki is that student who loves to be involved in everything. One of her best quirks is inventing new words. Tiki is also an excellent basketball player. Rip has a run-in with Coach Acevedo when he puts Tiki into the first team out each game and leaves Rip for the second. Rip is hurt and angry, but only time and experience on the basketball court will bring Rip to an understanding. The secondary part of the plot is the plan, by the class, to get rid of the new lunch ladies and bring back the Lunch Bunch and their better meals. It includes mounting a GoPro camera on the back of classmate Avery’s wheelchair. As in the first title, there are no surprises, but that doesn’t prevent this from being a great read. VERDICT This fast, fun read featuring characters who love books as much as basketball will appeal to sports fans and nonathletes alike.–Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City

Cleverly, Sophie. The Lost Twin. 304p. (Scarlet & Ivy: Bk. 1). Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. May 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492633396. POP

Gr 4-7 –Ivy’s twin sister, Scarlet, died at Rookwood boarding school, and now Ivy has been offered her sister’s place. When the headmistress arrives to take her to the school, however, Ivy learns that she wants Ivy to literally take Scarlet’s place: Ivy will assume Scarlet’s identity, answering to her sister’s name and adopting her sister’s mannerisms. Ivy is not told why she is expected to do so—only that she has no choice. In the dorm room that used to belong to Scarlet, Ivy finds part of her sister’s diary. Scarlet has left a trail of clues around the school for Ivy to find. These scraps of information reveal some shady dealings that Scarlet discovered during her last days at Rookwood. Ivy must use the information she uncovers to answer the growing number of questions she has about her sister’s death. With an undeniably engaging—albeit a tad bit far-fetched—premise, this book is sure to appeal to readers who enjoy a puzzle mystery with plenty of twists and turns. The secrets exposed through Scarlet’s clues result in a fast-paced and gripping read. Ivy’s character develops over the course of the story as she struggles to move beyond her sister’s shadow. VERDICT This book should find a place in most middle grade collections; a debut author to watch.–Misti Tidman, Licking County Library, Newark, OH

Hale, Bruce. The Curse of the Were-Hyena. illus. by Bruce Hale. 224p. (Monstertown: Bk. 1). Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781484713259. POP

Gr 3-6 –In this first title of a new series by the author of the “Chet Gecko” mysteries, Carlos and Benny are worried by the strange behavior of their favorite teacher, Mr. Chu. What does it mean when your teacher’s hair starts growing rapidly and he begins laughing hysterically and randomly bullying students? With a little research and some help from the local comic book store owner, the boys find out that their teacher is becoming a shape-shifter and, even worse, if they don’t do something soon, his transformation into a were-hyena will become permanent. Hale sprinkles the story with occasional illustrations that reinforce the high jinks, humor, and occasional suspense. The ethnically diverse characters add to the accessibility of this fun middle grade mystery. VERDICT This title will appeal to reluctant readers as well as students looking for something light and not too scary.–Jessica Marie, Salem Public Library, OR

redstarShevah, Emma. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama. illus. by Helen Crawford-White. 288p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492631385. POP

Gr 3-6 –British fifth grader Dara Palmer is a natural-born actress, destined for Hollywood stardom. At least, that’s what she and her best friend, Lacey, think, until neither of them lands the lead role in their school’s musical production of The Sound of Music. Dara, who is adopted from Cambodia, believes that she may have been passed over for the role because she doesn’t look like the original Maria. After seeing that the cast includes other nonwhite students in important roles and talking to the director, Dara realizes that it is her acting skills (or lack thereof) that landed her a spot on the stage crew. Amid all of this drama, a friend of Dara’s, another Cambodian adoptee, invites her on a trip to her birth country. Grappling with her sense of self, both as an adopted child and a failing actress, Dara must decide which of these grievances she wishes to face—taking the expensive trip to Cambodia or signing up for acting lessons at home. The challenges Dara faces paint a well-rounded and realistic picture of the life of a foreign-born adoptee. The typography enlarges important phrases and bolds Dara’s signature onomatopoeias like huuuggghhtt and kzzzcchhh. There are also plentiful doodles found on every page. Once readers adapt to the on-page asides and visuals, Dara’s larger-than-life personality and true-to-life middle grade issues command center stage until the curtain falls. VERDICT A funny and fresh addition to older-elementary collections. Hand to fans of Shevah’s first book, Dream On, Amber.–Brittany Staszak, Eisenhower Public Library District, IL

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LaCour, Nina & David Levithan. You Know Me Well. 256p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Jun. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250098641. POP

Gr 9 Up –Accomplished YA authors LaCour and Levithan join forces for this coming-of-age story set during Pride Week in San Francisco. Told in the alternating perspectives of Mark and Kate, the book explores the heartbreak of unrequited love and the necessity of taking chances and doing the right thing for oneself. Mark, a junior, loves his best friend, Ryan, who doesn’t reciprocate his feelings. Kate, a senior whose art got her into UCLA, is unsure about college—but she is sure she loves her best friend’s cousin Violet from afar. Mark and Kate, previously not friends, happen upon each other at a bar (Mark thought going to the city with Ryan would be romantic; Kate fled the house party where she was supposed to meet Violet for the first time) and leave together after Mark watches Ryan dance with a stranger. They end up at an incredibly hip party, and while the details aren’t initially revealed, this event sets each of them on a course for realizing some of their dreams and confronting things previously left unsaid. Pages flow quickly throughout, and despite the condensed time frame, a fair amount of character growth occurs. Both authors excel at writing smart, funny, and realistic dialogue. These are characters to whom readers will relate and want to get to know. VERDICT Recommended for teens who have enjoyed the authors’ previous works and those looking for a hopeful read about friendship, first love, and the choices one faces while on the cusp of adulthood.–Amanda Mastrull, Library Journal

Maas, Sarah J. A Court of Mist and Fury. 626p. (A Court of Thorns and Roses: Bk. 2). ebook available. Bloomsbury. May 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781619634466. POP

Gr 10 Up –Maas continues to uphold her reputation for building alluring and breathtaking worlds and creating characters who feel so real they could walk off the pages of the book. In this volume, which picks up where A Court of Thorns and Roses left off, Feyre is engaged to Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court, whose kingdom she went to great lengths to save under the mountain. The Spring Court is grateful for the sacrifices she made, but Tamlin is all too happy to lock Feyre up in his castle and protect her from the many dangers of his world. Struggling with her own depression, Feyre sets her needs aside to make Tamlin happy, but when his overbearing tendencies go too far, Feyre nearly breaks. She is rescued by Rhysand, the feared High Lord of the Night Court, with whom she struck a deal and to whom she has been bonded ever since in ways she can’t explain. He shows her a new life and, with the assistance of his Fae friends, helps Feyre learn to control her newfound powers and tap into the strength she forgot she had, which may just be the key to saving Prythian from the evil King of Hybern. The sensuous romance that develops between Feyre and Rhysand will take readers on a whirlwind so fun and addicting they won’t be able to put it down until the very end. Peppered with titillating scenes, the love story evolves in ways that may frustrate some readers, but remains true to real life. VERDICT A must-have where the author’s previous works are popular.–Candyce Pruitt-Goddard, Sno-Isle Libraries, Marysville, WA

NOËL, Alyson. Unrivaled. 432p. (Beautiful Idols: Bk. 1). ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062324528. POP

Gr 10 Up –What do you get when you mix highly attractive teenagers, dreams of fame, secrets, lies, and a nightclub promotions contest? You get a page-turner reminiscent of reality TV: an addictive combination of Survivor and The Apprentice, set in L.A. This series opener intersects the stories of three teens, each in hot pursuit of fame in a chosen industry and willing to test the limits of morality to get it. Aster (an aspiring actress), Layla (an aspiring journalist), and Tommy (an aspiring musician) are determined to win the nightclub promotions contest orchestrated by Ira Redmon, a calculating businessman whose bottom line is amassing profits. The nightclub that generates the most wealth wins, and in L.A., celebrity appearances are a sure path to profits. When one of Hollywood’s hottest couples, RyMad (Ryan and Madison) begin visiting Ira’s nightclubs, Layla, Aster, and Tommy are thrust into a cutthroat competition that hinges on getting Madison Brooks to visit their nightclub. When Madison suddenly goes missing, Layla, Aster, and Tommy become suspects in the case. This is a suspenseful, scandalous, and consumable novel that is sure to gain instant fandom and leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment. VERDICT A must-have selection for older teens.–Tamela Chambers, Chicago Public Schools, IL

Saedi, Sara. Never Ever. 304p. ebook available. Viking. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451475763. POP

Gr 9 Up –This debut novel takes readers on an edgy thrill ride to an island where no one over age 17 resides or survives. Teenage resentment of parental control is challenged and turned upside down when impulsive choices threaten to yield permanent consequences. The Dalton siblings, Wylie, Joshua, and Micah, are privileged, bored Manhattan teenagers. They each have their own hang-ups regarding their parents’ pending divorce and other family turmoil, but for one night they come together at a rooftop party that changes everything. Wylie meets Phinn, a real-life Peter Pan who promises her and her brothers a life of freedom and eternal youth if they just agree to come away with him. What starts as a carefree life of parties and fun becomes a face-to-face confrontation with manipulation, betrayal, and a sickening secret from the past. Teens will willingly ride along on this unlikely fantasy if only to vicariously experience a world without parents. The pastimes the Daltons dabble in (sex, drinking, and recreational drug use) are not without consequence but are handled without heavy-handed moralizing. Saedi has written scripts for television, which contributes to this book’s effortless movement from scene to scene. Her teen characters are believably contemporary despite being based upon a 100-year-old classic tale. VERDICT A cleverly repackaged Peter Pan for teens, with characters and subplots that beg for a sequel. Purchase where YA retellings are popular.–Jane Miller, Nashville Public Library

Schwab, Victoria. This Savage Song. 464p. (Monsters of Verity: Bk. 1). ebook available. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062380852. POP

Gr 9 Up –In a dystopian future, evil deeds begin spawning three kinds of monsters who wreak havoc in human cities; Corsai are created by nonlethal violent acts, Malchai by murders, and Sunai from mass murders. This novel takes place in one such city, which is divided into two parts. Kate Harker’s father rules one side by using the monsters as an army and selling protection to residents who can afford it. On the other side, the Flynn family strive to eliminate the Corsai and Malchai by utilizing the deadly talents of the three very rare Sunai who have become part of their family. When Kate returns to the city after being expelled from a slew of boarding schools, August, the newest Sunai, is sent undercover to her elite private school to keep an eye on her. However, the two become unlikely allies when August is framed for an attack that would threaten their fragile peace. This first installment in a planned two-book saga can be described as a postapocalyptic urban fantasy with a Romeo and Juliet theme. The plot unfolds very quickly, with more twists and turns than an average thriller. The budding romance between the main characters is predictable, but Kate and August both undergo an impressive amount of character development, and fans will like them despite their flaws. VERDICT Combined with the nonstop action and the author’s immersive writing style, this first purchase is sure to be a hit with older teens and fans of urban fantasy.–Sunnie Scarpa, Wallingford Public Library, CT

Toten, Teresa. Beware That Girl. 336p. ebook available. photos. Delacorte. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553507904; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780553507911. POP

Gr 10 Up –Street smart and already world-weary, 17-year-old Kate is an admitted liar. She lies with the goal of one day attending Yale University, her dream school. As a new scholarship student at the prestigious Waverly School in New York, she relies heavily on her smarts, good looks, and experience to get by. Kate searches for a target, someone to befriend who has influence and money. She spots Olivia, a beautiful and rich girl who missed a year of school because of a mystery illness. Kate moves into Olivia’s absent father’s penthouse, with only a housekeeper as parental guidance. The friendship blossoms, until a mysterious man, Mark Redkin, enters their lives. The handsome Mark charms Olivia, but Kate senses that there is something terribly wrong. She discovers that he is a dangerous psychopath with a past as dark and carefully concealed as Kate’s and Olivia’s. Alternating chapters between the two teens keep the story fresh and make readers feel privy to secrets. Kate’s tragic history is revealed with flashbacks. The plot develops at a steady pace until the game being played among all three characters finally blows up with tragedy and murder. In this book for older teens, the author skillfully reveals gritty and tantalizing details in meager bites, keeping readers captivated. VERDICT Complete with a disturbing yet satisfying conclusion, this is a must-have for teen fans of psychological thrillers such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.–Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services

redstarWhite, Kiersten. And I Darken. 496p. ebook available. Delacorte. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553522310; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780553522327. POP

Gr 10 Up –The first in a trilogy from best-selling author White, this historical adventure set in the mid-15th century tells the story of Lada and Radu, the children of Vlad Dracul, prince of Wallachia (modern-day Romania). Shouldered with the inescapable curse of being female and the unrelenting burden of her beautiful, sensitive, and physically inept brother, Radu, Lada is perpetually spoiling for a fight. When her father tries to secure his throne by giving the children as hostages to the Ottoman Empire, Lada and Radu must find a way to survive and thrive in a world where no one cares if they live or die. They befriend the young Ottoman heir Mehmet, and the three form a bond of friendship that saves their lives and ultimately shapes their adult destinies. Full of sword fights, assassination plots, and palace intrigues, this novel is ambitious in scope and concept and reveals a fascinating, important, and somewhat obscure slice of history. Compared to White’s painstaking development of her characters and the fantastic world they inhabit early in the novel, the ending sequence that sets up the next book in the series seems rather abrupt and haphazard. However, as a whole, the novel is breathtakingly good. The brutality and carnality of this time and place in history are faithfully rendered here, making the volume more appropriate for older teen readers. VERDICT Highly recommended for all high school collections.–Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX

1605-POP-Picks-GN-NF-AUGraphic Novels

Brown, Jeffrey. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal. illus. by Jeffrey Brown. 224p. chron. Random. Aug. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780385388351; lib ed. $15.99. ISBN 9780385388375. POP

Gr 2-5 –Popular author Brown brings his fun cartoon style, often seen in his “Star Wars” adventures, to this prehistoric tale. Lucy and Andy are two Neanderthal siblings who take us through a fairly normal week (mammoth hunting, crafting tools, making clothes). At the end of each chapter, modern scientists on an archaeological dig at their cave provide factual commentary. The last chapter and author’s note include a time line and more information about the world of the Neanderthals. With his extensive research and these notes, Brown has created a graphic novel that is as much nonfiction as fiction, containing historical context and a lovely fictional story with siblings, crushes, and other adventures. The resulting blend is sure to draw reluctant readers and send some students scurrying for more in-depth material. Kids will learn a great deal about the Neanderthals while laughing their way through the story. Brown demonstrates a depth of knowledge of the subject, with a few winking anachronisms. VERDICT An amusing and enjoyable graphic novel that teaches about daily Neanderthal life, this title will be right at home in most elementary school and public library collections.–Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Enoki, Nobuaki. School Judgement Vol. 1. illus. by Takeshi Obata. 192p. Viz Media. Feb. 2016. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781421585666. POP

Gr 7 Up –To fight crime in schools, the government creates the School Judgment System, which allows students to work as attorneys to defend and prosecute cases in classroom arbitration sessions. The concept is cute, funny, and fairly ridiculous. Kid lawyers transfer in and out of schools to work on cases such as the “Suzuki Murder and Dismemberment Case,” in which a boy named Tento is accused of killing a fish that his class had been raising. These adorable children use ronpa (arguments) to fight their cases with all the legal gravitas of Clarence Darrow in Inherit the Wind, posing dramatically with fingers pointed in the air when they feel victorious or when they want to make an objection. The judges are preschoolers who look much older than their years. Prosecutor Pine Hanzuki and defense attorney Abaku Inugami go head-to-head in several cases that unfold very intensely, with lots of twists and turns. Most of Obata’s artwork is in the traditional manga style, but some panels are illustrated in much greater detail for effect. VERDICT An excellent title that will appeal to fans of legal dramas, mysteries, and smart kids in smart stories.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Hale, Nathan. Alamo All-Stars. illus. by Nathan Hale. 128p. (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales). bibliog. maps. Abrams/Amulet. Mar. 2016. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781419719028. POP

Gr 3-7 –Hale returns to history in sequential art format, this time tackling the Alamo. Vicente Guerrero, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Stephen F. Austin lead the titular “all-star” cast in this tale of how an untamed land became Texas. In the early 1800s, Native Americans, the Mexican government, and settlers from other areas of the United States were fighting over the territory that would become the Lone Star state. Hale’s vivid illustrations—rendered in black, white, and shades of gray, with tinges of yellow—and witty text tell the story, from Texas’s near wilderness beginnings to the Battle of the Alamo and Gen. Sam Houston’s ultimate victory over Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. Complete with maps, this title is far more effective in telling the complete history than a straightforward state history book. VERDICT With its balance of gifted storytelling and hard facts, this work will appeal to reluctant readers and fans of history alike. A must-have that will add value to any children’s graphic nonfiction collection.–John Trischitti, Midland County Public Libraries, TX

Nonfiction

redstarCain, Susan with Gregory Mone & Erica Moroz. Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. illus. by Grant Snider. 288p. notes. Dial. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740600. POP

Gr 6 Up –Cain is well known for her adult book and TED Talk on the contributions that introverts have made to society in a world that seems powered by extroverts. In this edition, she addresses the challenges that young introverts face. Unfortunately for introverts, who make up one-third to half the population, those who often seem to thrive most in school or public situations are the extroverts. Cain believes that introverts, like her, can learn to use their “superpowers” (namely: listening, deep thinking, and focusing on the self) to flourish. The book is divided into chapters based on school, socializing, hobbies, and home, with firsthand accounts of introverted teens and examples of famous figures (e.g., Beyoncé, Albert Einstein) who have found success outside of their initial comfort zones. Included are strategies and tips on how introverts can overcome situations that prove difficult for them (preparing notes to enter class discussions, establishing a time limit for social outings, setting up a personal sanctuary). Humorous drawings throughout the text add a whimsical and light touch perfect for the intended audience. This highly accessible volume gives a voice to a group of people who are often made to feel unappreciated. There is no index, but the work does include notes, an afterword for teachers, and a guide for parents. VERDICT Many will find value in this title that emphasizes that being an introvert is not a blemish on one’s personality but a benefit. An excellent addition.–Elizabeth Kahn, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, Avondale, LA

Gray, Karlin. Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still. illus. by Christine Davenier. 40p. bibliog. chron. notes. websites. HMH. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544319608. POP

K-Gr 3 –This picture book biography of Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci draws information from accounts written by Comaneci and her coach Bela Karolyi, as well as other sources, to present a somewhat idealized story of a lively little girl who became a champion. Climbing trees, roller skating, biking—Nadia is in constant movement until her mother lands upon the idea of signing her up for gymnastics lessons. Her ability at age six catches the attention of Karolyi, who, with his wife Marta, runs a gymnastics school. The text describes the dedication and years of practice that were required of Nadia, including even difficult moments, such as her 13th-place ranking at her first Romanian Junior National Championships competition. But the cheerful illustrations, rendered in ecoline and colored ink, with colored pencil accents, maintain a buoyant tone throughout. The pictures include a lot of energy, showing Nadia as upbeat and determined. If Comaneci suffered along her road to the Olympics, those details are left out. Several pages are devoted to her record-breaking performances at the 1976 Olympics. A brief afterword fills in later parts of her life, such as winning more medals at the 1980 Olympics and defecting from Romania in 1989. VERDICT Based on the popularity of gymnastics in the United States and this year’s upcoming summer Olympics, this book will find a ready audience.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, VA

Audio

Mull, Brandon. Death Weavers. (Sky Raiders: Bk. 4). 11 CDs. 13:33 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2016. $39.99. ISBN 9781442393776. digital download. POP

Gr 5-8 –Since coming to the Outskirts, Cole Randolph and his friends have defeated monsters, challenged knights, fought psycho robots, lost powers, and helped Mira and some of her sisters get their powers back. While traveling through Necronum in search of Mira’s sisters Destiny and Honor, Cole and his friends have been trying to stay one step ahead of Nazeem, an evil shapecrafter. Disaster soon strikes, however, and Cole’s friends are forcibly taken to the Echolands (land of the dead), the lands controlled by Nazeem. If Cole ever wants to get home, he must find a way to stop Nazeem. Keith Nobbs’s dynamic, engaging narration style draws listeners into Cole’s world. He easily transitions between action and dialogue scenes while maintaining a good pace. Mull’s plot and characters are well developed and will make listeners want to find out what happens next. VERDICT Series fans will have a hard time putting this audiobook down.–Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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