March 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Multimedia Reviews | June 2013

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.

My Garden (Weston Woods)
©2010 by Kevin Henkes

School Library Journal starred reviews My Garden. DVD. 10 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 0-545-57129-4. $59.95; CD: $12.95; CD with hardcover book: $29.95.

PreS-Gr 2–Based on the charming book by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, 2010), this is a delightful introduction to gardens. The young girl in the story helps with the family garden, which involves a lot of work for what she sometimes considers to be questionable results. (She does NOT like carrots.) Yet, as she works her imagination takes flight, and the garden she dreams of grows seashells, flowers that change colors, things that glow in the dark, and crops that would render you speechless with their size. The story circles back to reality, with a touch of whimsy thrown in, as no one truly wants to abandon their dreams—and—well, what if…? Henkes’s vivid and child-friendly illustrations are charmingly animated for this presentation as Cassandra Morris reads the story in a young voice that captures its mood perfectly. A read-along option is provided. This exceptional program will tie in naturally with plant and garden units, and serve as a seed for growing interesting creative writing assignments.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

School Library Journal starred reviews Deep Down: A Story from the Heart of Coal Country.  DVD. 57 min. New Day Films. 2010, 2013 release. ISBN 978-1-57448-281-2.  $99. 

Gr 9 Up–The controversial topic of mountaintop removal mining is viewed through the lives Beverly May and Terry Ratliff, residents of Floyd County, Kentucky. May, a fourth generation resident of the area wants to protect the land which is her home and her heritage. Her neighbor, Ratliff, is more pragmatic and considers leasing his land to a mining company. He believes that the land is resilient and can recover from whatever actions are taken to remove the coal. With appropriate background music and stunning scenes of the Kentucky landscape contrasted with the stark topography of mountaintop removal sites, this story plays out over the course of two years as citizens useg public hearings and their knowledge of existing laws to stop the mine planned for their hollow. Mining is the economy of the community and the residents know its impact upon their wellbeing, health, and safety. The grassroots movement led by May was successful and stopped the mine. Ratliff, who had delayed his decision to lease his land to the coal company, ended up with no money. There are five bonus segments that explore power production. This documentary can be utilized across the curriculum to study grassroots democracy, environmental issues, the culture of mountain areas, business, and philosophical ethics of “a society dependent upon blowing up a mountain…” to maintain a lifestyle dependent upon electricity.–Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community College, Mt. Carmel

School Library Journal starred reviews Silicon Valley (American Experience Series). DVD. 90 min. Prod. by WGBH Educational Foundation. Dist. byPBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-836-3. $24.99.

Gr 9 Up–The post-World War II era was a dynamic one in all aspects of American life, but perhaps none more so than in the fledgling technology that was impacting both our personal and economic realms. Just as our country’s creativity helped develop innovations to win the war, it continued to thrive, especially in electronics, space exploration, and computerization after the war. After the shock of Russia’s launch of the first Earth satellite, national energy became focused on pushing our domestic research even more. Farmland in the Santa Clara Valley outside San Francisco became ground zero for a number of emerging and expanding companies. This well-crafted program details the manner in which this growth occurred by focusing on Robert Noyce, a young physicist who surrounded himself with dynamic businessmen and creative scientists to light the fire of the electronic explosion that established America as the world’s leader in innovation. Particularly interesting is the manner in which these businesses adopted their unique sense of corporate culture in which creativity rather than traditional business convention was paramount. The producers utilize an incredible variety of vintage photographs and live-action footage, interviews with those who played roles in the movement, as well as commentary by historians to help viewers place the quick-paced revolution into perspective. Chapter/scene selection and English-language subtitles are optional. This stellar program will be quite useful in a number of classroom settings as well as for individual research or casual viewing, especially by those with a curiosity about how today’s technology revolution actually began.–Dwain Thomas, formerly of Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL

School Library Journal starred reviews The Marvelous Land of Oz. By Frank L. Baum. 4 CDs. 5:04 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2013. ISBN 978-1-6240-6378-7. $39.99.

Gr 3 Up–The second book in Baum’s Oz series and the sequel to The Wizard of Oz features many of the elements of the original story and introduces several new characters, including Tip, a young rascal, his guardian Mombi, a witch, and several sidekicks, including Jack Pumpkinhead, They journey to the Emerald City to escape Mombi’s wrath and learn that the Scarecrow, the city ruler, has been displaced by General JinJin and her all-girl army, armed with knitting needles. In an effort to restore the Scarecrow to his throne, they travel to the Winkie kingdom ruled by the Tin Woodmen and search out the good witch Glinda. Other helpers include a flying beast named Gump, a highly educated Wogglebug, and some field mice. Narrator Tara Sands deftly moves from one quirky character to another, creating a unique accent and vocal range for each one and giving them emotional depth. For example, Tip’s mischievous nature is apparent as he plots to scare Mombie and General JinJin has an authoritative voice as she leads her troops forward. A successful continuation of a much loved story with spot-on narration that will attract new fans.–Edie Ching, University of Maryland, College Park

School Library Journal starred reviews Never Forgotten. By Patricia McKissack. cassette or CD. 30 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-3475-8, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-3476-5. $15.75; hardcover book: ISBN 978-0-3758-4384-6: $18.99.

Gr 4-7–In a tribute to those who were stolen from homes in Africa to become slaves in the New World, McKissack weaves a tale (Schwartz & Wade, 2011) about a loving father and the young son who is taken from him. Dinga, a seventh-generation Mende blacksmith, is a talented and respected man. After his wife dies in childbirth, Dinga defies tradition, raising his son Musafa with the help of the Mother Elements—Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. Musafa grows strong and wise. He becomes Dinga’s apprentice, creating pretty, but useless objects. One day, while gathering wood, Musafa is captured. Dinga searches in vain for his son, then appeals to the Elements for help. They take turns following Musafa, reporting to Dinga of his son’s passage, his courage, and finally, of his new life as a blacksmith in South Carolina. Dinga rejoices that Musafa is alive and that his talent for creating lovely objects could earn his freedom. Lizan Mitchell performs the passages of McKissack’s 2012 Coretta Scott King Honor book melodiously and with fervor. The author’s note was not recorded. Leo and Diane Dillon’s acrylic and watercolor illustrations resemble woodcuts, superimposing bold figures on fainter ones, creating impressions of lingering spirits, evil, and sadness. Combining history, folk tales, and legend into a moving remembrance of families torn apart, this haunting story with its rich illustrations is strengthened by this wonderful audio interpretation.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, New York

School Library Journal starred reviews The One and Only Ivan. By Katherine Applegate. 3 cassettes or 3 CDs. 3:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013.cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-5124-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-5123-6. $30.75.

Gr 3-7–Ivan the silverback gorilla has lived a solitary life as the star of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for 27 years, watching TV and painting still-life representations of objects in his domain. Separated from his family at a very young age, Ivan lived with Mack and his wife as one of the family until he became too large for their home. Now his companions are an elderly elephant named Stella and a stray dog, Bob. Although he forms an attachment to Julia, the daughter of the mall’s custodian, Ivan views most humans with distaste, merely tolerating the crowds that come to stare at him daily. Life changes dramatically for Ivan, though, when a baby elephant, Ruby, is bought to replace Stella, who is dying of an old injury and neglect. Prodded by his urge to care for and protect Ruby, Ivan begins remembering what it was like to be a wild gorilla, and how he was violently taken from his family. He begins to see his “domain” as the cage that it is, and he vows to give Ruby a better life than he and Stella had. It is Ivan’s art that sets him free, and his courage and resourcefulness that help him fulfill his promise. Adam Grupper gives Ivan a calm, pragmatic voice that aptly conveys his concise, descriptive sentences, while giving similarly unique voices to other characters. Applegate’s Newbery winner (HarperCollins, 2012) is based on a true story. Ivan’s heart-wrenching tale reminds us that every animal has the right to a safe place called home.–MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY

School Library Journal starred reviews When Life Gives You OJ. By Erica S. Perl. 4 CDs. 4:47 hr. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 978-0-385-39326-3. $30.

Gr 4-6–Zelly Fried has problems. Her best friend is off at camp and hasn’t written. Her Jewish family has recently moved to Vermont after the death of her grandmother, Bubbles. Her grandfather, Ace, is now living with them. And she wants a dog, but her parents won’t let her have one. That’s a lot for a 10-year-old (almost 11) to put up with. Then Ace comes up with an idea—a “practice dog.” If Zelly can prove that she’s responsible with the surrogate, surely she can convince her parents she’s ready for the real thing. This explains why Zelly is dragging a plastic orange juice jug around town on a leash all summer. Is there humiliation involved? Of course. Will it be worth it? Who knows? Perl’s fabulous story (Knopf, 2011) receives first-class treatment in this audio version. Abigail Revasch is amazing as she creates different voices and styles for each character. Ace’s broad Jewish accent and his interfering, storytelling ways come across especially well here, as does the young but determined voice of Zelly. This delightful story will have listeners giggling, while rooting for Zelly’s ultimate pet success.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

School Library Journal starred reviews Home of Song. Performed by Paul Spring. CD. 34 min. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.99.

PreS-Gr 3–Hailing from central Minnesota, Paul Spring’s second album is his first for families. Filled with folksy, down-home, easy listening pop, Spring brilliantly uses storytelling in each tune to take listeners on a journey beyond the surface music. “Home of Song” compares music to members of the family (“melody was my Mother, rhythm my Father…brothers and sisters filled in the notes between them, making a harmony to hold through time”). A a ride on the family van (“Sloppy Jalopy”) is compared to “goin’ up and down like the Dow Jones and NASDAQ.” “Red Sky at Morning” serves as a weather warning to shipmates. “Peter Pan” is a lament to Wendy, wishing “to be Peter Pan, always a boy and never a man.” “Mermaid” details a meeting with a mermaid who took the teller below the sea for a looooong time. Other highlights include the literary “Mind Over Matter,” “Sherlock Holmes,” and “Don Quixote.” Tunes are filled with bluegrass elements and instrumentation is largely acoustic. Spring receives musical help from Grammy Award-winning The Okee Dokee Brothers, Justin Lansing (banjo) and Joe Mailander (harmony vocals). Sure to hit the right chord for everyone.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

School Library Journal starred reviews Orangutan Van. Performed by Mr. Steve. CD. 51 min. 2013. ISBN unavail. $13.98.

PreS-Gr 3–Award-winning kids’ musician Steve Roslonek (professionally known as “SteveSongs” and as “Mr. Steve” to viewers of PBS Kids) continues his winning ways with the release of his eighth album for children. The 14 songs balance catchy melodies, smart lyrics, and humor just right for the intended audience. Recorded retro-style (with multiple instruments at the same time), there is a clean, unified sound—nothing is isolated. Opening with “Recess Rocks” (a technopop-rap-fusion movement song), Roslonek celebrates the inner “Superhero You” (an adult-sounding contemporary easy listening/rap that features a flute countermelody), plays an alphabet game in “A Is for Silly” (sidekick Silly Vanilli the puppet is “awesome”), and presents a mathematical puzzle in the title tune. “Brush, Brush, Brush” is a get ready for school game song. “All in This Together (MLK)” is an upbeat number that features lyrics inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fans of Jeff Brown’s Flat Stanley books/The Flat Stanley Project will be thrilled to sing about further travels of their hero. “Soaring with Reading,” “Grumpy Boy,” and “Soaring without a Rhyme” (a duet with Anand Nayak) also bear mention. Quirky fun for the family.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

The following titles are reviewed in the June print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.



Charlie: A Toy Story. DVD. 99 min. Prod. by Engine 15 Media Group and 4 Angel Prods. Dist. by Entertainment One. 2013. ISBN 1-4172-3983-2. $14.98


The Boy Game. DVD. 16 min. with tchr’s. guide. New Day Films. 2012. ISBN unavail. public library: $79, schools: $125.


Create a Great Plate: MyPlate Dietary Guidelines. DVD. 22 min. with tchr’s. guide online. Learning ZoneXpress. 2012. ISBN unavail.  $79.95.

Managing Puberty, Social Challenges, and (Almost) Everything: A Video Guide for Girls. DVD. 80 min. Coulter Video. 2013. ISBN unavail. $29.

Meet the New You! For Girls. DVD. 18:10 min. with tchr’s. guide. MarshMedia. 2013. ISBN 978-1-55942-635-0. $79.95.

Language Arts

And Then It’s Spring. DVD. 8 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 0-545-57133-2. $59.95; CD: $12.95; CD with hardcover book: $29.95.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Through the Art Style of Keith Haring (Classical Art Series). DVD. 10 min. Film Ideas. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60572-611-3. $89.


Shayna Maidels: Orthodox Jewish Teenage Girls. DVD. 24 min. Prod. by Hippie Chick Flix. Dist. by AV Café. 2011. 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $45.


Asexual and Sexual Reproduction. DVD. 16 min. with tchr’s. guide. Prod. by VEA. Dist. by Films Media. 2012. ISBN unavail. $129.

California Forever: The Story of California State Parks.

 DVD. 1:45 hrs. Backcountry Pictures. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $49; 30 min. classroom version of episode 1: $39. 

Decoding Neanderthals (NOVA Series). DVD. 60 min. Prod. by WGBH Educational Foundation. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-841-7. $24.99.

Elemental. DVD 56 min. Cinema Guild. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN 0-7815-1436-3. $99.95.

Jane’s Journey. DVD. 1:51 hrs. Prod. by Bavaria Film Int’l. Dist. by First Run Features. 2011, 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $27.95.

The Little Scientist: Here I Am! Camouflage. DVD. 10 min. Film Ideas. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60572-707-3. $89.

The Ultimate Wish: Ending the Nuclear Age. DVD. 39:37 min. Prod. by Richter Prods. Dist. by New Day Films. 2012. ISBN unavail. K–12 schools: $59; public libraries: $49.

Social Studies

Anthem: The Story Behind the Star-Spangled Banner. DVD, 61 min. Prod. by Make Your MarkMedia. Dist. by Colonial Music Institute. 2012. ISBN unavail. $20.

Henry Ford (American Experience Series). DVD. 2 hrs. Prod. by WGBH Educational Foundation. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-835-6. $24.99.

The Young Ancestors. DVD. 60 min. Cinema Guild. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN 0-7815-1435-5. $99.95.


Many of these titles are available for download and/or in Playaway format. Check distributors’ websites,, and audio download retailers for availability and price.

Language Arts

Also Known As. By Robin Benway. 6 CDs. 7:04 hrs. Brillance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7720-2. $69.97.

Blessed. By Tonya Hurley. 9 cassettes or 9 CDs. 10 hrs. Recorded Books . 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4354-5, CD ISBN978-4703-4353-8. $102.75.

City of a Thousand Dolls. By Miriam Forster. 7 CDs. 8:54 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36139-2. $60.

Crash: Visions, Book 1. By Lisa McMann. 5 cassettes or 5 CDs. 5:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4342-2, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4341-5. $51.75.

Dualed. By Elsie Chapman. 8 CDs. 9:59 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36110-1. $44.

Eleanor and Park. By Rainbow Rowell. 7 CDs. 8:57 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36828-5. $50.

Fitz: A Father, a Son, and a Gun. By Mick Cochrane. 4 cassettes or 4 CDs. 4:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013.cassette: ISBN 978-1-4407-7601-4, CD: ISBN978-1-4703-4363-7. $46.75.

Game Changers #2: Play Makers. By Mike Lupica. 4 CDs. 4:38 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2013. ISBN 978-0-545-58086-1. $44.99.

Gates of Paradise: A Blue Bloods Novel. By Melissa de la Cruz. 7 cassettes or 7 CDs. 8:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-4703-4248-7, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4247-0. $77.75.

The Gift. By Andrea J. Buchanan. 8 CDs. 9:12 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-8089-9. $49.97.

Grandpa Green. By Lane Smith. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-3847-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-3846-6. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 978-1-5964-3607-7: $16.99.

Hattie Ever After. By Kirby Larson. 5 CDs. 5:46 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-449-01526-1. $30.

Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! By Atinuke. cassette or CD. 1 hr. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4618-3441-0, CD: ISBN 978-1-4618-3442-7. $15.75.

Level 2: Memory Chronicles. By Lenore Appelhans. 7 CDs. 8:20 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. byListening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-307-94269-2. $45.

Never Say Die. By Will Hobbs. 4 cassettes or 4 CDs. 2 hrs. Recorded Books2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-2250-2, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-2249-6. $46.75.

Reached: Matched Trilogy, Book 3. By Ally Condie. 11 CDs. 13:15 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2012. ISBN 978-1-61176-102-3. $29.95.

Rebel Heart: Dust Lands, Book 2. By Moira Young. 10 cassettes or 10 CDs.11:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2011.cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4358-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4357-6: $108.75.

Sanctum: Guards of the Shadowlands, Book 1. By Sarah Fine. 9 CDs. 10:48 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4692-1033-9. $49.97.

The Savage Fortress. By Sarwat Chadda. 7 CDs. 8:08 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36380-8. $50.

Sever: The Chemical Garden, Book 3. By Lauren DeStefano. 9 cassettes or 9 CDs. 10:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN: 978-1-4561-2052-8, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4362-0. $77.75.

Strands of Bronze and Gold. By Jane Nickerson. 10 CDs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 978-0-385-36125-5. $55.

Tallulah’s Solo. By Marilyn Singer. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4182-4, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4181-7. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-5473-3004-4: $16.99.

Touch of Frost: Mythos Academy, Book 1. By Jennifer Estep. 8 CDs. 9:52 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-8387-6. $69.97.

The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop. By Kate Saunders. 6 CDs. 6:52 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. byListening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36824-7. $45.

Witch World. By Christopher Pike. 11 cassettes or 11 CDs. 13:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4350-7, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4349-1. $108.75.

Yours Truly, Lucy B. Parker: For Better or for Worse. By Robin Palmer. 5 CDs. 5:14 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013.ISBN 978-1-4558-5880-4. $49.97.


Zero the Hero. By Joan Holub. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4287-6, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4286-9. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 78-0-8050-9384-1: $16.99.


Another Bunch of Electric Bananas. Performed by Mr. Billy. CD. approx. 32 min. Prod. by Bounce House Records/Mr. Billy. Dist. by AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.

Dance to the Weather. Performed by Natural Cloud Cover Bands. CD. 34:50 min. Natural Cloud Cover. 2012.ISBN unavail. $15.

Don’t Play with Your Food. Performed by Dave Rudolf. CD. 47:46 min. AV Café. 2012. ISBN unavail. $11.

KidQuake! Performed by The Not-Its! CD. approx.. 27 min. with lyrics. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.

Ms. Janis’ Music 4 Me!, Vol. 2: Tumbling Fun. Performed by Janis McDonald. CD. approx. 14:30 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.98.

Today I Was a Cat. Performed by Mary Kaye. CD. 32 min. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.

Where Do You Want to Go Today? Performed by Francie and Pat Kelley. CD. approx. 33 min. Prod. by Artsong Music. Dist. by 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.99.

Social Studies

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850. By Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 3 CDs. 3:35 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2012. ISBN 978-1-4558-5797-5. $49.97.

Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights, and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Hours. By Ann Bausum. 2 cassettes or 2 CDs. 2 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4185-5, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4184-8. $25.75

Music of the War of 1812. 2 CDs. range:  46:32-57:51 min. Colonial Music Institute.  ISBN unavail. $15. 

Paiute Princess: The Story of Sarah Winnemucca. By Deborah Kogan Ray. cassette or CD. 1 hr. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-4225-8, DVD: ISBN 978-1-4703-4224-1. $15.75; hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-3743-9837-2: $17.99.