April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Multimedia Review | September 2013

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Nelson Mandela, Kadir Nelson’s evocative biography for elementary grade students

Nelson Mandela (Weston Woods) ©2012 by Kadir Nelson

redstarConstitution USA with Peter Sagal. 2 DVDs. 4 hrs. Prod. by TPT National Prods. and Insignia Films. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-901-8. $29.99.

Gr 9 Up–Sagal, the find-humor-in-our-everyday-lives NPR host, broadly examines our Constitution in both historical and contemporary contexts in a manner that will transfix viewers. Metaphorically traversing the country on a red, white, and blue Harley-Davidson, his goal is to recount the perspective of the document’s development as well as to examine it in terms of today’s critical issues. “A More Perfect Union,” the first segment, describes the intriguing manner in which our federal system of government was determined and issues facing us today as a result of federal, state, and local control questions. “It’s a Free Country” studies the Bill of Rights, and the controversies surrounding those individual freedoms in today’s society are detailed. The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War to guarantee equal protection for individuals and groups, and its subsequent landmark impact is the focus of “Created Equal.” Finally, Sagal leads a discussion about the vitality of this remarkable document from the perspective of the 21st-century social and political milieu in “Built to Last.” The nicely paced presentation uses a variety of presentation techniques, such as graphics and humor, to connect with today’s students. There’s also an effective balance of commentary from constitutional scholars as well as ordinary citizens impacted by this document. Several bonus sections add to its usefulness, particularly commentary by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Each chapter includes the scene selection option. English language subtitles and a Spanish language audio are optional. Both classroom teachers and media professionals will find this a popular addition to every school’s collection.–Dwain Thomas, formerly Lake Park High School, Roselle, IL

redstarNelson Mandela. DVD. 10 min. Weston Woods. 2013. ISBN 978-0-545-60947-0. $59.95; CD, ISBN 978-0-545-60948-7: $12.95; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 978-0-545-60949-4: $29.95.

Gr 1–4–Kadir Nelson’s evocative biography (HarperCollins, 2013) of Nelson Mandela receives stellar treatment in this exceptional DVD presentation. The author provides just enough information to introduce apartheid and Mandela’s role in changing the political landscape of South Africa, while involving, but not overwhelming, children. Viewers feel the loss of Mandela’s father and his sorrow as he leaves home to attend school. His rise as a political activist, the 27 years he spent in prison, and his eventual election to the leadership of his nation are all told clearly in crisp and expressive text. Throughout, Mandela is presented as a figure both heroic and human. This, too, is emphasized in Kadir Nelson’s exceptional paintings that glow with an inner warmth. The iconographic presentation allows the audience to truly appreciate both the careful details and the subtle power of the illustrations as actor Forest Whitaker’s rich voice reads the story with background music and crowd sound effects that draw viewers in. The DVD includes an interview with the author in which he talks about his artwork and relates his boyhood experience of attending a speech given by Mandela. This excellent presentation about an extraordinary world leader merits a place in all libraries serving children.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

redstarHero on a Bicycle. By Shirley Hughes. 3 CDs. 3:35 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7493-5. $54.97.

Gr 5–8–The first novel (Candlewick, 2013) by octogenarian Shirley Hughes, the award-winning picture book author and illustrator, is set in Italy in 1944. The story follows 13-year-old Paolo, his 16-year-old sister Costanza, and their mother. The family lives in the outskirts of Nazi-occupied Florence. Their father, an anti-Fascist, fled when the Nazi’s took control, leaving the family in a politically precarious position. Paolo’s nighttime forays into the city on his bicycle have brought his family into contact with the Partisans, the Italian resistance, who ask them “in a convincing manner, made more convincing because of the gun” to help them. Told in third-person narration, the story builds in tension, skillfully shifting between the perspectives of each main character as well as the many well-developed secondary characters who add depth and understanding to an age-old question this story seeks to answer: What motivates people’s actions in times of war? Simon Vance’s incomparable vocal style is a perfect fit for this intense and suspenseful work of historical fiction. With his strong and consistently paced narration, as well as subtle and skillful character voices, Vance’s performance is both nuanced and captivating. A website (www.heroonabicycle.co.uk) offers additional material to supplement lesson plans or deepen book discussions. For those interested in offering students more in-depth information about the time period, other supplemental sources would be required. Highly recommended for students who enjoyed John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (David Fickling Bks., 2007) and historical or WWII fiction.–Chani Craig. Converse Middle School. Palmer, MA 

redstarOblivion: The Gatekeepers, Book 5. By Anthony Horowitz. 17 cassettes or 17 CDs. 20:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-5787-0, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-5783-2. $108.75.

Gr 9 Up–The final book (2013) in Horowitz’s seriHes finds the fate of the world in the hands of five teenagers: Matt, Pedro, Scott, Jamie, and Scarlet. They are the Gatekeepers. At the end of Necropolis (2009, both Scholastic), after entering a special door, the teens are flung to different parts of the world. They emerge into a dangerous and horrific world 10 years in the future that is beset by evil, torture, murder, death, plagues, famine, and other catastrophes, and on the verge of destruction orchestrated by the evil Old Ones headed by Chaos. To defeat the Old Ones, the five Gatekeepers must be together for the final battle. Much of the story revolves around each Gatekeeper’s struggle to overcome obstacles and challenges to make their way to Oblivion, a frozen, desolate area of Antarctica where Chaos and the Old Ones are waiting. Horowitz’s story is fast-moving, intense, and unflinchingly graphic. Listeners new to the series will be able to follow this volume because past details are included. However, to fully grasp this tale’s scope and complexity, listeners should be familiar with the first four titles. Simon Prebbles’s reading masterfully conveys the terror of this dangerous dystopian world. His consistent portrayal of multiple characters and accents is excellent. This intense, suspense-filled conclusion will keep listeners riveted right up to the end.–Mary Olounye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

redstarOut of This Place. By Emma Cameron. 3 CDs. 3:19 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7497-3. $54.97.

Gr 9 Up–Three friends who want to leave high school and move on describe their anguish in Cameron’s novel written in verse (Candlewick, 2013). Luke, who tries to stay out of trouble at school, spends his time playing cricket, works at the local supermarket, and hangs out at the beach. While trying to figure out where he fits in, he applies for a scholarship and traineeship to get out of school. Bongo spends his time getting wasted to block the memories of his younger brother, Dylan, who was placed in a foster home due to their alcoholic and abusive stepdad and drug addict mother. He’s tired of being around addicts and misses his sibling, so he runs away from home. Casey has a very controlling father, and she’s not allowed to participate in any school activities or have a job. She wants to get away and have some freedom, so she leaves home without saying goodbye. Desperate to leave their lives behind, they all choose to get “out of this place.” They learn lessons along the way and go in directions they never imagined. The story is told from alternating points of view by narrators Candice Moll, Leonardo Nam, and David Atlas. Their expert Australian accents capture the emotions of the three Aussie teens desperately wanting to live life on their own terms.–Janet Weber, Tigard Public Library, OR

redstarShadow and Bone: Grisha Trilogy, Book 1. By Leigh Bardugo. 8 CDs. 8:55 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4805-2826-0. $49.97.

Gr 7 Up–Orphaned from the Border Wars, Alina was raised by strangers with her only friend, Mal. Drafted into the army of war-torn Rafka, the pair joins their regiment on a dangerous mission into the Fold, a place where darkness reigns and nobody survives the attacks of its native, nightmarish creatures. When the two friends are attacked, Alina inadvertently summons her dormant magical powers to save her regiment. She is ripped from everything she knows and sent to be trained as a Grisha in the court of the Darkling, the most powerful magic wielder. Cut off from contact with Mal, Alina has a hard time learning to use her power. When she discovers the Darkling’s plan to enslave her in order to destroy all who oppose him, she must figure out a way to stop him and find her way back to Mal. Will she learn to wield her power and save Rafka before it’s too late? Narrator Amanda Dolan masterfully brings Alina’s world of magic and monsters to life. Bardugo’s well-developed characters in this debut novel (Holt, 2012) are enhanced by the narrator’s unique voices and intonations. The transitions between action and suspense are incredible, and listeners will be totally engrossed. The twists throughout this unique plot are expertly handled by both author and narrator and keep listeners guessing. For fans of dark fantasy, adventure, suspense, and magic.–Kira Moody, Whitmore Public Library, Salt Lake City, UT

redstarTwelve Kinds of Ice. By Ellen Bryan Obed. cassette or CD. 26 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-6387-1, CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-6386-4. $25.75.

Gr 2-5–How many kinds of ice are there during the winter? It starts with that faint crinkly sheen that breaks at a touch. Gradually, however, ice spreads over fields and ponds. It grows thicker as the cold seeps deep. Finally, it’s time for the family to set the boundaries, stomp the snow, spray the water, and create the ice rink that will be their entertainment center for hockey and skating until the same progression that began the ice reverses, and the world warms again. While the ice goes from a thin sheet to a frozen stream, the house becomes a warming area, a locker room, and a sports center. All activities revolve around the ice. Obed’s book (Houghton Harcourt, 2012) contains 20 very short chapters that skim beautifully over each type of ice and the activities that follow. The author evokes all the senses with carefully chosen spare text. Jessica Almasy reads the story in a youthful voice, drawing listeners in until they, too, are skimming smoothly across this annual magic of the winter season. An evocative, joyful celebration of winter.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

redstarRecess. Performed by Justin Roberts. CD. 44:25 min. Prod. by Carpet Square Records. Dist. by Justinroberts.org. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

PreS–Gr 3–Classic rock, power pop, ska, and country musical styles are evident in these 12 original songs by Roberts. The Not Ready for Naptime Players join him in giving outstanding instrumental performances on guitar, bass, piano, strings, keyboards, trumpet, drums, and percussion. They also weave beautiful and intricate vocal harmonies, with some tracks sounding like the early Beatles or the Beach Boys. Winner of multiple Parents’ Choice Gold and NAPPA Gold awards, Roberts has created wonderful, catchy tunes. The students are anxious for “Recess” time. Listeners get the dog’s point of view in “Every Little Step.” In a faraway kingdom, everyone wears drab beige, sandalwood, and sage colors until “The Princess Wore Pink” and changed everything. One child anticipates with eagerness his weekly visit to “Otis” the elevator. And in “Check Me Out, I’m at the Checkout,” a kid pushes his own cart and makes messes throughout the grocery store. Among the other terrific numbers are “I’ll Be an Alien” (the extra-terrestrial kind), “Hopscotch,” “My Secret Robot,” “Looking for Trains,” “We Got Two” (twins), “School’s Out (Tall Buildings),” and “Red Bird” (a lovely lullaby with beautiful, poetic lyrics). This album stands head and shoulders above other recent pop albums for children.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

The following titles are reviewed in the September 2013 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Art Instruction

Learn and Draw with Mike Artell: Outer Space. DVD. 1:12 hrs. Video Specialties. 2013. ISBN unavail. $24.95.


Ally Cat the Ballet Cat. DVD. 60 min. Prod. by Arzura/Ytinifni Pictures. Dist. by Arzura. 2013. ISBN unavail. $16.75.

Early Childhood

Barney: Imagine with Barney. DVD. 76 min. Prod. by HIT Entertainment. Dist. by Lionsgate. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.98.

David, the Gnome Collection. 4 DVDs. approx. 10:25 hrs. Prod. by BRB Internacional. Dist. by Oasis DVDs. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.99.

Dogtanian and the Three Muskethounds. 4 DVDs. approx.. 10:25 hrs. Prod. by BRB Internacional. Dist. by Oasis DVDs. 2013. ISBN unavail. $19.99.

Sukey’s Circle! Vol. 3: Mini Shows. DVD. 33 min. Sukeymolloy.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.99.


Book SmARTS & Crafts: Crafts & Activities for Kids. DVD. approx. 3 hrs. Page Turner Adventures. 2013. ISBN unavail. $175.


Meteor Strike (NOVA Series). DVD. 60 min. Prod. by Pioneer Films & TV Prods. and WGBH Educational Foundation. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-904-9. $24.99.

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives. DVD. 17:22 min. Spoken Arts. 2013. ISBN 0-8045-8140-1. $50; CD with hardcover book, ISBN 0-8045-4239-2: $29.95.

Social Studies

Brooklyn Castle. DVD. 1:42 hrs. with curriculum and resource guides. Prod. by Rescued Media. Dist. by First Run Features. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN unavail. $60.

Secrets of the Dead: Death on the Railroad. DVD. 60 min. Prod. by Tile Films Ltd. Dist. by PBS Dist. 2013. ISBN 978-1-60883-910-0. $24.99.


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

Language Arts

Aces Wild. By Erica S. Perl. 5 CDs. 5:21 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-384-39330-0. $30.

Accidental Love. By Gary Soto. 3 CDs. 3:30 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62450-506-0. $49.95.

Aliens in Disguise: The Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast. By Clete Barrett Smith. 5 CDs. 3:58 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-1915-8. $54.97.

The Beautiful and the Cursed: The Dispossessed, Book 1. By Page Morgan. 10 CDs. 12:33 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36392-1. $55.

Below. By Meg McKinlay. 4 CDs. 4:10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7487-4. $54.97.

Black Helicopters. By Blythe Woolston. 3 CDs. 3:25 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7488-1. $54.97.

Born to Fly. By Michael Ferrari. 4 CDs. 5 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62460-220-7. $49.95.

A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials. By Ann Rinaldi. 6 CDs. 7:06 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62460-153-8. $69.95.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation. By Tommy Greenwald. 4 CDs. 3:56 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4805-0492-9. $54.97.

Crescent: A Helium-3 Novel, Book 2. By Homer Hickam. 7 CDs.  8:41 hrs. Oasis Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61375534-1.  $27.99.

The Cydonian Pyramid: The Klaatu Diskos, Book 2. By Pete Hautman. 8 CDs. 8:50 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7489-8. $49.97.

The Darkest Minds. By Alexandra Bracken. 12 CDs. 14:06 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-9156-7. $59.97.

Deep and Dark and Dangerous. By Mary Downing Hahn. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62460-218-4. $49.95.

Discovering Wes Moore. By Wes Moore. 4 CDs. 4:01 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2193-4. $30.

The Edge of Nowhere. By Elizabeth George. 10 CDs. 11:36 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4805-0530-8. $59.97.

Fairy Tales: Poems and Music for Children. Performed by Clive Owen, Kenneth Branagh, and others. CD. 50:27 min. Prod. by Orchid Classics. Dist. by Naxos. 2013. ISBN unavail. $17.99.

Far Far Away. By Tom McNeal. 9 CDs. 10:55 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2012. ISBN 978-0-8041-8041-2154-5. $65.

Garden Princess. By Kristin Kladstrup. 5 CDs. 5:04 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7492-8. $54.97.

Ghost Time. By Courtney Eldridge. 11 CDs. 13:24 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-8300-5. $49.97.

Girl, Stolen. By April Henry. 5 CDs. 5:08 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7837-7. $69.97

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die. By April Henry. 5 CDs. 5:28 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-7784-4. $59.97.

The Glass Cafe: Or the Stripper and the State, How My Mother Started a War with the System that Made us Kind of Rich and a Little Bit Famous. By Gary Paulsen.CD. 1:02 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4588-1082-6. $39.97.

Imposter: A Variants Novel. By Susanne Winnacker. 7 CDs. 8:04 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2384-6. $50.

The Lives We Lost: Fallen World, Book 2. By Megan Crewe. 7 cassettes or 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4498-5385-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4498-5386-0. $51.75.

Loki’s Wolves: The Blackwell Pages, Book 1. By K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr. 7 CDs. 7:30 hrs. Hachette Audio for AudioGO. 213. ISBN 978-1-4789-2585-X. $64.99.

A Matter of Days. By Amber Kizer. 7 CDs. 8:14 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36820-9. $50.

Monument 14: Sky on Fire. By Emmy Laybourne. 5 CDs. 5:26 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-5562-0. $54.97.

Paper Valentine. By Brenda Yovanoff. 7 CDs. 9 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-8041-2197-2. $60.

Sentries. By Gary Paulsen. 3 CDs. 3:17 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4692-4125-8. $39.97.

Shadow Chaser: Son of Angels, Book 3. By Jerel Law. 5 CDs. 5:47 hrs. Oasis Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61375-531-0. $22.99.

Silent Harmony: Fairmont Riding Academy—A Vivienne Taylor Horse Lover’s Mystery, Book 1. By Michele Scott. 5 CDs. 6:10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4805-1977-0. $49.97.

Storm: Swipe, Book 3. By Evan Angler. 7 CDs. 8:35 hrs. hrs. Oasis Audio. 2013. ISBN: 978-1-61375-630-3. $27.99.

Theodore Boone: The Activist. By John Grisham. 5 CDs. 5:56 hrs. Penguin Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-61176-158-0. $19.95.

The Time Hackers. By Gary Paulsen. 2 CDs. 2:08 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4558-1072-7. $39.97.

Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic. By Emily Jenkins.2 cassettes or 2 CDs. 2:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette, ISBN 978-1-4640-2134-3, CD: ISBN 978-1-4640-2133-6. $25.75.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great. By Bob Shea. cassette or CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2013. cassette: ISBN 978-1-4703-7193-7. CD: ISBN 978-1-4703-7192-0. $15.75; hardcover book: ISBN 978-1-4231-5952-9: $15.99.

Vote. By Gary Paulsen. 3 CDs. 2:42 hrs. Brilliance Audio. ISBN 978-1-4692-7842-1. $39.97.

Wreck-It Ralph Read-Along Storybook and CD. By Disney Book Group. CD. 10:21 min. with paperback book. Disney. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4231-6061-8. $6.99.

You Know What You Have to Do. By Bonnie Shimko. 5CDs. 5:12 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4805-1978-7. $49.97.


American Playground. CD. 25:28 min. Putumayo Kids. 2013. ISBN unavail. $14.98.

Braver to Be Kind. Performed by Terry A La Berry. CD. 30:06 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $11.98.

A Creepy Crawly Song Book. By Ny Hiawyn Oram. CD. 60 min. with hardcover book. Prod. by Threefold Records. Dist. by AV Café. 2012, 2013 release. ISBN 978-0-95715-970-9. $12.97.

Love, Cake & Monsters. Performed by Princess Katie & Racer Steve. CD. 42:45 min. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

Once Upon a Tune. Performed by Liz Buchanan. CD. 45 min. Prod. by Antelope Dance. Dist. by CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.99.

Roller Coaster Ride with Miss Dylan. Performed by Dylan Glanzer. CD. 28 min. CDBaby.com. ISBN unavail. $15.

Social Studies

Kennedy’s Last Days. By Bill O’Reilly. 4 CDs: 4:30 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 978-1-4272-3516-9. $19.99.

Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War. By Thomas B. Allen and Roger MacBride Allen. 4 CDs. 4 hrs. AudioGO. 2013. ISBN 978-1-62460-216-0. $29.95.

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron. By Mary Losure. 2 CDs. 2:05 hrs. Brilliance Audio. ISBN 978-1-4692-7501-7. $59.97.

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.