November 17, 2017

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SLJ’s June 2016 Popular Picks

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SLJ’s new Popular Picks feature must-have titles that are sure fly of the shelves! This month’s picks include Jonathan Maberry, Kate DiCamillo, Stephen Savage, and Raina Telegemeier. These reviews appeared in SLJ’s June 2016 issue.

SLJ1606-POPCVs-PB-ChapPicture Books

Arena, Jen. Lady Liberty’s Holiday. illus. by Matt Hunt. 40p. Knopf. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553520675. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –The Statue of Liberty is bored. She tells her pigeon friend, “Moe, every day feels the same. I see the same skyscrapers, the same city.” Moe encourages her to take a holiday. She begins with the Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, and Niagara Falls and continues west from there. The illustrations present famous landmarks and landscapes from across the country. Confused tourists look on as she peeks over the top of Mount Rushmore. Sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, “for once in her life, Lady Liberty [feels] small.” She makes it to California and stops to doze at the Golden Gate Bridge. Meanwhile, New York City is concerned. The missing statue puts a damper on the Fourth of July preparations. Moe sets out to find his friend and bring her home. The statue is enjoying a leisurely stroll through a Southern swamp when Moe finds her. “Nobody feels like celebrating without you,” he says. The statue replies, “But the Fourth of July isn’t about me. It’s about America! I’ve seen this country. The purple mountains, the shining seas, the bridges and buildings. Everyone should know how amazing it is and celebrate it!” She runs north and reaches New York City in time for the fireworks. “And Liberty [is] blue no longer.” She tells Moe, “It was good to get away. But it’s great to be home.” The final pages explain how the statue came to America and include a page of short facts and further resources. VERDICT The book is not subtle, but it provides a bright, colorful opening for teachers and parents wanting to expose children to the variety of America’s landscape through engaging mixed-media illustrations and a simple story. A fun and fabulous read for a Fourth of July storytime.–Amelia Jenkins, Juneau Public Library, AK

Chung, Arree. Ninja!: Attack of the Clan. illus. by Arree Chung. 32p. Holt. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805099164. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Ninja Maxwell is back, but he’s not having such a great day. His mother and sister are worthy ninja opponents, but both are too busy to play. His distracted father says he’ll play hide-and-seek, but to Maxwell’s disappointment, he forgets to do the seeking part. A sad Maxwell works on his meditation and inner peace skills, but even that does not work out as planned. When he heads to dinner, things don’t seem quite right. The dog is eating his soup, and no one is in sight until—surprise attack! His ninja clan attacks, to Maxwell’s delight. He defeats his father despite the use of a Bear Hug. His mother is taken down by the Kiss of Death (actual lipstick kisses), which leaves only his elusive little sister. Just as Maxwell is about to take her down, she uses a time-honored tactic known to children everywhere. The vanquished Maxwell exclaims, “I’ve been licked.” Chung employs the same successful combination of comic book panels in a picture book setting as he did in Ninja! VERDICT Despite a rather abrupt ending, this action-packed title is sure to be popular among ninja aficionados and where the previous one did well.–Catherine Callegari, Formerly at Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH

Gordon, David. Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery. illus. by David Gordon. 48p. ebook available. S. & S. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781416924418. POP PreS-Gr 1 –Bullies are no match for the crafty creativity of extremely cute animals. Faced with repeated destruction of their playground sand castles, Karen and company stand up to mean Skyler and his friends with their “snowboards, pogo sticks, and a bad attitude!” The sweet critters prevail, bringing in a bulldozer, a heavy-lift helicopter, and just a few steel beams. Amazingly in a single day, the “grandest sand castle plus amusement park” arises on the spot for all who love to ride and race, with roller coasters, water slides, Ferris wheels, bumper cars and boats, carousels, bungee jumping, and a climbing wall. The newly contrite former bullies are eventually welcomed into the updated play area, perfect for those who love to stomp and smash. Pages of brightly painted images on pastel backgrounds emphasize free-form cartoon animals in their idyllic neighborhood. VERDICT A recommended storytime purchase for all libraries, this child’s playground fantasy features a message of inclusiveness and empowerment, showing that even extremely cute creatures can stand up for themselves.–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

Norman, Kim. Still a Gorilla! illus. by Chad Geran. 32p. Orchard/Scholastic. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545757911. POP PreS-Gr 1 –Willy, a young gorilla, longs to be something else. A lion? A billy goat? A walrus? Each time Willy tries to emulate one of his fellow zoo animals, he is disappointed to find out he is still a gorilla. This bright and vibrant story is a fun read, and children will delight in inferring what animal comes next. The graphic-style digital artwork is cheerful and engaging. This silly read-aloud explores print awareness as well as rhyme. Illustrations and font are large, which adds to the creativity of the story and allows the book to work well when shared with a group. Text is minimalistic and done in various colors. Children will love the repetition, chiming in on the refrain, “No. Still a gorilla!” VERDICT A surefire selection for a lively animal-themed storytime. A must-have.–Megan McGinnis, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY

Savage, Stephen. The Mixed-Up Truck. illus. by Stephen Savage. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626721531. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –First days can be challenging. Playing on words, this picture book shows that this is true even for cement mixers—sometimes they mix things up while mixing things up. When this cement mixer starts at the construction site, all the other smiling trucks are busy: lifting, dumping, digging. “How can I help?” asks the cement mixer. “Mix up some powdery white cement,” the trucks tell him. The page turn finds the cement mixer beaming proudly outside a giant flour mill. The other trucks lose their smiles when they later discover a cake instead of cement. The next white powder that the cement mixer tries comes from the sugar factory and becomes frosting. The book is smartly designed, and the refrain gives nothing away (“The cement mixer mixed up the white powder, added a little water, and presto!”), while the visuals, through signage, show the cement mixer’s mistakes, with the results revealed after the page turn. Background colors depict the passing of the day, and as the sun sets, the cement mixer finally ends up at the factory with the “cement” sign. The next page shows all the happy trucks admiring a new building. The cement mixer has one final stop before ending the day—the soap factory. A giant citywide bubble bath leaves all the trucks clean and ready for a good night’s sleep in the garage. Geometric art in bright, flat colors pops from the pages, as do the engaging personalities of the trucks. Through it all, the cement mixer remains determined, and upon the book’s close, it seems likely that tomorrow will be a smoother day. VERDICT This tale’s tight plot and winsome characters serve the dual purpose of exploring the world of vehicles and emphasizing the rewards of perseverance. A surefire storytime selection.–Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Young, Amy. A Unicorn Named Sparkle. illus. by Amy Young. 32p. Farrar. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374301859. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –When a girl named Lucy sees an ad in the paper selling unicorns for 25 cents, she sends off for one right away. Lucy has high expectations for her new unicorn, whom she plans to name Sparkle as she rides on his majestic back and impresses all of her friends. However, when Sparkle arrives, he is spotted, short, and mischievous and has fleas. At first Lucy wants to return him to the man she bought him from, but she soon warms up to him when she realizes that, despite his flaws, Sparkle is actually very sweet. Children will laugh at Sparkle’s naughty antics but also root for him to win Lucy over, feel heartbroken when she initially chooses to return Sparkle, and cheer when the two are reunited at the end. This is a humorous and charming story about managing unrealistic expectations, choosing a pet, and acting responsibly. Young skillfully draws the endearingly scruffy Sparkle so that even though he more closely resembles an odd-looking “goat” than a unicorn, he is still undeniably adorable. The last page, in which a smiling Lucy declares, “Welcome Home!” and embraces a visibly happy Sparkle, is the perfect endnote. VERDICT This funny, heartfelt story about a girl and her not-so-perfect unicorn will be a hit for storytime or one-on-one sharing.–Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY

Chapter Books

DiCamillo, Kate. Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? illus. by Chris Van Dusen. 112p. (Tales from Deckawoo Drive: Bk. 3). Candlewick. Aug. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763673116. POP

Gr 1-4 –Baby Lincoln has grown tired of living under the constant direction of her older sister Eugenia and has finally said enough is enough. Planning a “necessary journey,” she packs her suitcase, complete with a library book, and heads to the train station. Fans of DiCamillo’s “Mercy Watson” series will recognize Baby Lincoln and her home on Deckawoo Drive, while new readers will easily jump into this tale of sibling frustration. Students unfamiliar with Baby will be in hysterics to see that, despite her name, she’s an older lady, complete with gray hair and wrinkles. Those who have bossy older (or younger) siblings will immediately connect with Baby as she sets off to experience life without the direction of her older sister. Baby makes new friends (like George, a young boy scared of wolf attacks) and discoveries (learning she enjoys comics and jelly beans) and ultimately finds herself missing her sister and wanting to return home. VERDICT Lending itself well to classroom read-alouds and discussions, and independent and bedtime reading, this title is most certainly a recommended purchase for those serving a young elementary age range.–Shana Morales, Windsor Public Library, CT

Manushkin, Fran. Pedro, First-Grade Hero. illus. by Tammie Lyon. 96p. (Pedro). Picture Window. Sept. 2016. pap. $4.95. ISBN 9781515801122. POP

Gr 1-3 –This delightful collection of stories follows Pedro, a first grader, as he collects bugs, plays soccer, hunts for missing items, and even runs for president. Children will have fun accompanying him on all his adventures with his classmates. The text is just right for those ready for a longer chapter book but not quite prepared to give up the visual delights of beginning readers and picture books. Before each chapter, a page of simple sketches gives readers visual clues as to what to expect from the upcoming stories. The illustrations, on almost every page, add a wonderful pop of color with a nice hint of mixed media. The book concludes with four pages of jokes just right for children to share with friends. VERDICT Fans of Katie Woo are sure to love this collection of short stories about her friend and classmate Pedro.–Andrea Pavlik, Huntington Public Library, NY

SLJ1606-POPCVs-Mid-YAMiddle Grade

Eulberg, Elizabeth. The Great Shelby Holmes. 240p. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681190518. POP

Gr 3-6 –Shelby Holmes is a plucky sixth-grade detective known for solving problems in her Harlem neighborhood. John Watson is a self-proclaimed army brat dealing with his parents’ divorce and a move to what he hopes will be his forever home. When Watson moves into Shelby’s building, Shelby discovers that friendship might be the greatest mystery of all. This middle grade retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes/Watson relationship will delight readers as they attempt to solve the mystery of a missing dog. Told from Watson’s perspective, this title introduces readers to Shelby’s curt behavior in a manner that allows them to empathize with the girl as she learns how to be a friend. Ample time is also given to Watson’s journey from detective’s assistant to a full-fledged partner. Secondary plots about Watson coping with his parents’ divorce and the difficulties of making new friends when he frequently moves will appeal to a large group of readers. The overall message of accepting others is made without seeming overly preachy. Readers will look forward to the conclusion of the mystery and will anxiously anticipate additional books in the series. VERDICT Eulberg’s middle grade debut is a first purchase for mystery lovers.–Ashley Leffel, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Jubilee. 160p. Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385744867; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780385744874. POP
Gr 4-7 –Jubilee lives on an island with her aunt Cora. Jubilee hasn’t spoken a word to any person since her mother dropped her off to live there when she was little. Instead, she communicates with gestures, taps, and drawings. A school psychologist diagnosed the girl with selective mutism. Jubilee has just started fifth grade when she meets Mason, a “sloppy kid who talks too much.” They are paired together for a class project, and Mason does not mind that she doesn’t talk. He encourages her to draw cartoons to use for their project. Amid the school project, the core of the story revolves around Jubilee longing to meet her mother and learn why she left. Jubilee thinks that in solving the mystery, she will get her speech back. When a birthday card for Aunt Cora arrives from her mother, Jubilee discovers that her mom has moved back to the mainland nearby. Giff pens an emotionally sweet, heartfelt novel of not only friendship but also longing and hope as Jubilee carves her own path. Her bond with Mason and his acceptance of her give her strength and bolster her determination to do what it takes to make her dreams come true. They share a gentle, tender bond that will have readers rooting for both of them. VERDICT A poignant tale of family, friendship, and inner courage. A wonderful addition to middle grade collections.–Erin Holt, Williamson County Public Library, Franklin, TN

Holm, Jennifer L. Full of Beans. 208p. Random. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780553510362; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780553510379. POP

Gr 4-6 –Beans Curry and his family are down on their luck. Their whole town of Key West is; it’s the Great Depression, and jobs and opportunities are scarce. Beans learned at an early age that adults lie to children, and he goes on to apply that logic to the New Deal stranger who shows up in town one day, claiming the government sent him to make their dumpy town a tourist destination. Sure that the man is a lunatic, Beans ignores him as he tries to find ways to make money for his family, and sometimes even for himself. Beans evolves as a character when he realizes the role he played in a tragedy. In an effort to make up for it, he spearheads his gang into helping the New Dealers make tourism successful in Key West. Those who have read Holm’s Turtle in Paradise may remember Beans as Turtle’s cousin. However, familiarity with the companion book isn’t necessary to enjoy this new novel, which is told in a series of vignettes that build on one another, some humorous and others poignant. The book’s younger characters have an “Our Gang” feel to them, with adult characters playing decidedly backseat roles. Holm peppers the characters’ vocabularies with phrases and slang from the time, which may take some getting used to. The most surprising thing about the work is that it is based on real history. Holm weaves a charming combination of old family stories into the history of the New Deal’s Key West experiment, including further information about the history of the project at the end of the book. VERDICT Young readers will enjoy this heartwarming, humorous introduction to a challenging time in American history.–Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR

Maberry, Jonathan. Vault of Shadows. 464p. (The Nightsiders: Bk. 2). S.& S. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481415781. POP
Gr 5 Up –In Maberry’s second installment of the series, readers tag along for the few days following Milo’s epic escape from under the Huntsman’s nose. The story is beautifully crafted, with the perfect balance of paralyzingly intense action and intimate looks into Milo’s fears and dreams. The rapid transitions from excerpts from the “Dream Diary” to present-day action will keep tween and teen readers glued to the story. The Nightsiders who team up with Milo are a lovable group. Evangelyne the werewolf is back, along with the Stone Guardian, who really steals the scene from time to time, and all of the other interesting “monsters” from the first story. The evil Huntsman, who is even more over-the-top since the last encounter with the hero, will continue to elicit genuine fear from readers, as he embodies almost every scary character trait imaginable. There is a strong emphasis placed on books and the power of reading, which will speak to both educators and many middle school students needing that extra push. VERDICT A solid series installment; a must-own where there are fans of the first “Nightsiders” adventure.–Chad Lane, Tulip Grove Elementary School, MD

Ponti, James. Framed! 304p. (A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery: Bk. 1). S. & S./Aladdin. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481436304. POP

Gr 4-7 –Mystery buffs and fans of Anthony Horowitz’s “Alex Rider” series are in for a treat. Protagonist Florian uses a special technique he calls T.O.A.S.T. (Theory of All Small Things) to solve mysteries. The technique enables Florian to draw conclusions based on noticing tiny details. Florian has just moved with his family to Washington, DC. He has never had many friends before. When he meets Margaret, the girl who lives next door, she is intrigued and fascinated by T.O.A.S.T. and begs Florian to teach it to her. When they go to the National Gallery of Art so Florian can teach her his method, they discover details that may be linked to the theft of three paintings. Florian’s use of T.O.A.S.T. to find the missing art impresses the FBI so much that he is asked to become a covert consultant. When a dangerous crime syndicate kidnaps Florian, he will have to use every trick he knows to escape and save the day. Florian is funny and smart and grows throughout the novel. VERDICT With elements of Alex Rider, James Bond, and Sherlock Holmes stories, this is likely to be popular with mystery and action/adventure fans.–Patrick Tierney, Dr. Martin Luther King Elementary School, Providence, RI

Venditti, Robert. Rise of the Robot Army. illus. by Dusty Higgins. 304p. (Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape: Bk. 2). S. & S. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481405577. POP

Gr 5-7 –This follow-up to Attack of the Alien Horde relies on alternating sections of text and comics to continue the adventures of a middle schooler who can transform into a superhero. Miles has spent the summer using a magical cape to secretly change into the powerful Gilded and save his fellow citizens of Atlanta from crime and natural disasters. But when he starts eighth grade, he finds he’s still an average kid. Embarrassed by the school bully and hurt by his mother’s move to Florida, Miles uses the cape to cheer himself up. This attracts the attention of a megalomaniacal U.S. Army general intent on destroying Gilded with the titular Robot Army. It’s an exciting premise with appealing characters, but the first 20 pages of the book contain little action as they detail the evil general’s motivations and the protagonist’s backstory. The pace picks up once the comic inserts start, and Miles, along with old friend Henry and new ally Lenore, battles the general, with a satisfying conclusion. The illustrator has chosen to draw Miles as a light-skinned boy and his alter ego Gilded as a bald, dark-skinned man, a detail that’s not addressed anywhere else in the novel. VERDICT The slow start will make this title most appealing to fans of the first book.–Beth Wright Redford, Richmond Elementary School Library, VT

YA

Harrison, Margot. The Killer in Me. 368p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484727997. POP

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Vermont native Nina has intimate knowledge of a serial killer living in New Mexico. She knows his methods of selecting and disposing of victims, the steps he takes to make sure he will never be caught, and the name he chose for himself: the Thief. Nina finally has an opportunity to do something with her knowledge, so she turns to her former best friend Warren, but unwilling to tell him how she knows of the Thief, Nina lies. Although Warren is skeptical of her story and concerned for her mental well-being, his longtime crush on Nina compels him to help, and the teens set out to track the killer. But when she finally meets the Thief, he seems anything but the homicidal sociopath the protagonist has described. Could she have been wrong? What if there is no Thief? Is there a way to truly find out? Flowing and expressive prose paints a clear picture of Nina and Warren as they follow the Thief, wavering between certainty and doubt, both with regard to the killer and each other. The teens are smart, self-aware, believable characters, and a budding romance between the two adds another layer to the work without detracting from the story line. Nina’s secret and multiple plot twists will keep readers guessing until the end. VERDICT A must-read debut for fans of fast-paced, eerie psychological thrillers who won’t mind reading late into the night.–Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University, SC

Keller Ford, J. In The Shadow of the Dragon King. 402p. ebook available. Month9Books. May 2016. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780996890427. POP

Gr 9 Up –The first installment of this trilogy introduces two boys from different worlds who must join forces to save those they love. Eric, a squire training to become a powerful knight, comes from a land filled with magic, dragons, and war. He yearns for a quest that will prove to all that he is no longer a child but a man ready to take his place with the other knights. David, a teen from the modern world, is trying to get through school and not ruin his friendship with Charlotte, whom he secretly loves. When David and Charlotte are transported to another world, their lives are devoted to saving the world from the Dragon King. Considering they just learned that dragons are real, this seems like quite a daunting task. They must learn whom to trust and how to achieve their goal in a foreign land. To succeed in this quest, the two boys must put aside their egos and learn to fight as one. Keller Ford’s debut novel will have YA fantasy readers thrilled to enter this new realm of dynamic characters and creatures. VERDICT Teens who love J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Paolini will especially enjoy this series.–Jessica Strefling, U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit Library

eder, Meg. The Museum of Heartbreak. 288p. ebook available. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481432108. POP

Gr 9 Up –When it comes to finding her true love, Penelope Marx knows it will happen just like in a book. And when Pen meets Keats, a suave, literary cool guy, her book-loving heart is sure she’s found the real thing. This is huge, since she has only two friends, Audrey and Eph. While they are her whole world, they exist beyond her. Audrey’s other best friend is rude to Pen, and Eph is always dating a different beautiful girl. Pen and Audrey have an argument, and Pen throws herself into a relationship with Keats. But her conscience knows that he is not perfect, or even perfect for her. Making new friends at the literary magazine helps the protagonist expand her narrow circle. This is a sweet look at first love and the lessons we learn from it. New York City provides the perfect backdrop for the narrative: making out in the stacks at the Strand, having a fight on the subway platform. While heavy foreshadowing (heartbreak is in the title) will all but tell what will eventually happen, the journey is the point. The large cast of characters are varied, and each figure is easily discernible from the others. VERDICT Not required reading, but absolutely an enjoyable ride for fans of NYC and first love.–Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ

Paige, Danielle. Stealing Snow. 304p. ebook available. Bloomsbury. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781681190761. POP

Gr 9 Up –Snow and Bale are long-term in-patients in the most secure wing of rural New York’s Whittaker Psychiatric Institute. Snow Yardley has had a full-time minder since she pushed a girl into a mirror 11 years ago. Bale is locked up for setting fires. The two 17-year-olds had been best friends, until their forbidden kiss pushed Bale into a violent state and then into near catatonia. When Bale’s body is stolen away through an asylum mirror, Snow is distraught. Not long after, encouraged by dreams, she willingly follows a stranger through another mirror, to rescue Bale. In the land of Algid, she meets Kai and Gerde (nods to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”), along with handsome Jagger and a band of Robber girls. In Algid, Snow’s icy anger manifests itself in deadly icicles, ice arrows, and targeted snowstorms. Jagger refers to Snow as “Princess” and enlists her help in stealing back shards of a broken mirror that will save Algid from the tyrannical rule of King Lazar—Snow’s father. If she completes this task, she will be reunited with Bale. Fairy-tale elements abound—witches, magical animals, fantastic powers, and separated twins raised apart. The action comes to an icy peak when Jagger, Snow, and the Robber girls dress up and crash the Duchess’s Ball. VERDICT Suggest to readers looking for a modern story with dark, fairy-tale underpinnings.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX

Thorne, Jenn Marie. The Inside of Out. 400p. ebook available. Dial. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740587. POP

Gr 7 Up –High school juniors Daisy and Hannah are best friends. When Hannah comes out as gay, the last thing Daisy expects is for Hannah to start dating Natalie, Daisy’s long-standing archenemy. While Daisy is still processing this unforeseen twist of events, she finds out that their school has a strict policy banning same-sex dates at dances. Daisy decides to end this antiquated rule by challenging the school board. What she thought was a symbolic gesture on behalf of her friend’s rights becomes a convoluted crusade in which Daisy takes on the school board, her friends and fellow students, and eventually the whole country. Thorne expertly drops plot twists like bread crumbs for her readers to follow. Set in Charleston, SC, this story begins with a classic conflict between friends. The simple narrative becomes thick with thorns when Daisy acts before thinking, bringing a complexity to her situation. Although it takes on some heavy subjects, the work remains light through its humorous and somewhat self-obsessed teenage characters. Ultimately, teens will enjoy reading about Daisy’s good intentions gone wrong as well as the bumpy love stories that accompany all good teenage drama. VERDICT Recommend to fans of John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Kris Dinnison’s You and Me and Him.–Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS

Yancey, Rick. The Last Star. 352p. (The Fifth Wave: Bk. 3). ebook available. Putnam. May 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399162435. POP

Gr 9 Up –The Others arrived with one goal in mind—complete annihilation of the human race. The first wave cut the power, the second brought natural disasters, the third heralded the plague, the fourth saw the Others walk among us, but the fifth will be the worst. Without trust, it is every human for themselves. Forced by Vosch to undergo the 12th system, Ringer is enhanced with alien technology that makes her a deadly killer. Vosch has given her one mission—bring him Evan Walker. With Evan captured, Ringer offers Cassie what she wants most—a chance to infiltrate Vosch’s headquarters to save Evan as long as Vosch is Ringer’s to kill. Added to this pressure is the fact that they have just four days before the mothership will begin dropping bombs on all of the world’s major cities. This is the most mature of the volumes of Yancey’s “Fifth Wave” trilogy, as strong language frequently appears and violence reaches its peak. Astute fans will appreciate the author’s attempt to make everything come full circle back to Cassie’s initial fear that she is the last human. While satisfying, the ending will leave readers either loving or hating it, so prepare to hear passionate debates from teens. VERDICT While some questions remain unanswered, there are too many fans of the series even to consider passing over the final installment for purchase. Lindsey Tomsu, La Vista Public Library, NE

SLJ1606-POPCVs-GN-NFGraphic Novels

redstarLarson, Hope. Compass South. illus. by Rebecca Mock. 224p. (Four Points: Bk. 1). Farrar. Jun. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300432. POP

Gr 4-8 –In this fast-paced, high-energy tale, 12-year-old twins Alex and Cleo Dodge find adventure—and trouble—as they search for their father and, at times, each other. The siblings join the Black Hook Gang, but Alex is soon arrested for stealing. The twins leave town, yet there’s still more excitement to come. Has the key to finding a lost pirate treasure been in their possession all along? Set in 1860, the story includes stops in Manhattan, New Orleans, and even a pirate ship on the high seas. Larson, best known for her graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, weaves a wonderful, vivid story, assisted beautifully by Mock’s illustrations, which take the twins from murky back alleys to bright and vibrant ocean scenes. VERDICT A charming choice for elementary and middle school library graphic novel collections.–John Trischitti, Midland County Public Libraries, TX

redstarTelgemeier, Raina. Ghosts. illus. by Raina Telgemeier. 256p. Scholastic. Sept. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780545540612; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540629; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540674. POP

Gr 4-8 –Catrina and her family have just moved to Northern California. Bahía de la Luna is different from Cat’s hometown—for one thing, everyone is obsessed with ghosts—but the sea air makes it easier for Cat’s younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), to breathe. Carlos, a new friend and neighbor, introduces the girls to a different perspective on the spiritual world. Ghosts, he says, aren’t frightening; they’re the spirits of loved ones. Cat has her doubts—especially after a ghostly encounter puts Maya in the hospital—but as Day of the Dead celebrations draw closer, she starts to reconsider. Readers will relate to these realistically flawed characters. Maya is frank about her illness and optimistic despite her awareness that her prognosis is poor, while Cat struggles, feeling intensely protective of her sister, anxious about her illness, and resentful about the limitations that Maya’s condition places upon the whole family. Themes such as the sibling bond, death, and culture are expertly woven throughout. As Cat comes to terms with the existence of ghosts, she also navigates her background (her father is white, while her mother is Mexican). Telgemeier employs the cheerful cartoon artwork that fans of Smile, Drama, and Sisters know and love, but her palette is more muted in places, fitting the book’s somewhat serious and somber themes. VERDICT A can’t-miss addition to middle grade graphic novel shelves; hand to fans of the author and newcomers alike.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Nonfiction

Hopkinson, Deborah. Dive!: World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific; The Incredible Story of U.S. Submarines in WWII. 384p. bibliog. chart. chron. diag. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Scholastic. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545425582. POP

Gr 6-8 –In this broad and insightful look at a less commonly examined aspect of the Pacific War, the narrative comes alive through looks at individual sailors and commanders and their particular contributions to larger events. An account of the USS Wahoo’s stealth entry into Wewak Harbor on New Guinea, using a map found in a high school geography textbook, and its successful sinking of a Japanese destroyer is as gripping as any thriller. Hopkinson makes a point of noting the presence of women (nurses evacuated from Corregidor) and African Americans, who were limited in their formal duties but pushed by the realities of war into key roles in submarines. Readers are always aware of the intensity of submarine warfare and the massive human toll. One chapter closes with a poignant unsent letter from a wife to her husband lost in battle. Sidebars complement the narrative with, for example, a colorful description of an officer’s effort to have an ice-cream maker installed in his sub, a description of how subs dive, and recommendations for visits to websites and naval museums. Specialized terminology is occasionally distracting, but Hopkinson does an ample job defining terms in context. The book concludes with an expansive “After Section,” which includes source citations for individual quotations, a lengthy bibliography, an annotated list of online resources, and lists of facts and figures. Many contemporaneous photographs depict the actual sailors and vessels discussed in the text. VERDICT A riveting narrative nonfiction selection for middle school collections.–Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

redstarMontgomery, Sy. The Great White Shark Scientist. photos by Keith Ellenbogen. 80p. (Scientists in the Field Series). bibliog. index. websites. HMH. Jun. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544352988. POP

Gr 5-8 –Prepare to be enveloped in saltwater air and dizzying blue water in this latest entry from veteran author Montgomery. A tense opening line delivered by 52-year-old great white shark biologist Greg Skomal is sure to hook readers: “It’s pretty treacherous right here.” But as they will soon discover, for Skomal and team, the even greater danger is not seeing a great white at all. Montgomery deftly balances information and intrigue without delving into the sensational; the emphasis is always on providing unique insight into the fieldwork of scientists and the absolute patience and perseverance it takes to locate, identify, gather, and analyze scientific data under challenging circumstances. Her travels with Skomal and her journey into a shark cage with biologist Erick Higuera are evidence of a genuine interest in understanding great whites and reversing negative attitudes about them. Readers will come to learn that the perceived danger surrounding sharks does not always match reality (the prime example offered being the astounding number of Americans injured by toilets in comparison to shark-related deaths in a year) and that these creatures are in desperate need of quality protection and conservation efforts. Ellenbogen’s crystal clear photographs range from intimate shots of crew members and aquatic life to large aerial overviews of the inlets and waters they are sailing on—students will be sure to stop and linger over these gorgeous images. VERDICT Exceptionally written and highly recommended for those looking to give a timely summer boost to STEM collections.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

ROTHMAN, Lily. Everything You Need To Ace American History in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide. illus. by Tim Hall. 512p. (Big Fat Notebooks). maps. Workman. Aug. 2016. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9780761160830. POP

Gr 5-8 –Billing itself as a comprehensive study guide, this book has the appearance and content of a good set of student notes. Pages are ruled like notebook paper, and the font looks like hand printing. Chronological “units,” divided into shorter chapters, closely follow the content arrangement of many American history texts, from the earliest human inhabitants of North America to the Iraq War and Obama’s election. Rothman summarizes the main concepts and details of the themes, events, and important people and dates of U.S. history, devoting about a paragraph to each topic. The limited interpretation and analysis are consistent with mainstream historical thought and scholarship. Organization is student-friendly, with headings in green type, key history information in blue, and yellow-highlighted general vocabulary terms that are defined in adjacent boxes. Sidebars provide limited supplemental information, and there are numerous maps but no index. The few illustrations look like student doodles and usually have a humorous take on history. “Check Your Knowledge” questions end each chapter and are answered on following pages. More textbook content–oriented than various editions of Kenneth C. Davis’s “Don’t Know Much” series overviews of American history, this book is exactly what it claims to be—a study guide. More volumes, covering science, world history, and other subjects, are publishing simultaneously—all titles meet Common Core State Standards. VERDICT Best suited for students looking to sharpen history skills and bolster their confidence.–Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO

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Comments

  1. Lots of great looking books on this list. The Great Shelby Holmes caught my interest right away; I’ve seen numerous adaptions of Sherlock Holmes, but not many that are aimed at the MG set. Definitely on my TBR list!