February 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Book Review: Grades 5-8 Fiction

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redstarKipling, Rudyard . Just So Stories: For Little Children. illus. by Ian Wallace. 64p. Groundwood. 2013. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781554982127; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9781554982141.

Gr 3-6– The first of two volumes, this book presents six of Kipling’s timeless tales, freshly interpreted through superb mixed-media paintings. Consistent stylistic elements, such as the use of texture and muted edges, give the book an elegant overall look, and each story is individualized by its own color scheme and exquisitely delineated setting, adding a delightful sense of discovery. The illustrations for “How the Whale Got His Throat” balance cool maritime greens and blues with sherbet sunset skies; desert scenes for “How the Camel Got His Hump” shimmer with blazing reds and yellows and an almost tangible sand-swept veneer; and images for “The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo” depict an Australian outback that is at once austere and dramatically hued. Softly realistic, the various protagonists radiate personality: “The Elephant’s Child” possesses a charmingly stubby nose and wide-eyed innocence; the leopard is sleek and dignified with or without his spots; and the ill-mannered rhinoceros rampages past a Parsee’s striped pavilion, brandishing a stolen cake on his horn (never fear, the man will soon work his revenge, leaving the rhino with a loose skin and “a very bad temper”). Throughout, these lovely paintings embrace the nuances of each tale and add to their sense of wonder.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

redstarLLoyd, Natalie . A Snicker of Magic. 320p. Scholastic. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545552707; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545552721.

Gr 4-7– A delightful and inspiring debut. Mama has a wandering heart, which means that 12-year-old Felicity Pickle and her little sister, Frannie Jo, have wandered along with her in their battered van. But Midnight Gulch feels like home, and not just because it’s where Mama grew up. It’s one of those quirky little towns where there just might be magic. It’s the characters that make this story shine: gruff Aunt Cleo and her tongue-tied swain; Oliver and Ponder, purveyors of unusual ice cream and baked goods, respectively; Jewell Pickett, hair-stylist and auto-mechanic extraordinaire; and her son Jonah, who has the amazing ability to make things better for anybody, despite his own difficulties. And Felicity, who sees words everywhere and uses them in remarkable ways. She’s a girl who loves deeply and openly, and who creates her own kind of magic. Added to these elements are a series of folkloric backstories about feuding brothers, doomed romances, mysterious do-gooders, lost children, and a curse. Mibs Beaumont and her magically gifted clan from Ingrid Law’s Savvy (Dial, 2008) would feel right at home here. As Felicity loves to say, “Yes…yes…yes!”–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library

redstarTurnage, Sheila . The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. 368p. Penguin/Kathy Dawson Bks. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780803736719. LC 2013019376.

Gr 4-6– Gr 4-6–The perspicacious Mo LoBeau is at it again! This companion to Three Times Lucky (Dial, 2012) takes place only three months after the Desperado Detective Agency’s first case in Tupelo Landing. Mo and her partner, Dale, are entering the sixth grade and their very first assignment is to interview a town elder. Mo’s first thought is an interview with Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton, but arch-enemy Anna Celeste Simpson (a.k.a. Attila) has dibs on her. Mo blurts out that she and Dale will interview the ghost that is purportedly haunting the inn that her guardian, Miss Lana, impulsively purchased at an auction with Grandmother Miss Lacy as her partner. The whole town is buzzing about their rash purchase so, in typical Mo fashion, the child tackles the rumors, the ghost, and a few other mysteries head-on. Humor and action abound with Mo’s saucy commentaries comprising the cherry on top. The story is filled with the sixth grader’s colorful, Southern-flavored friends and her equally juicy similes. Underlying all this fun are more serious themes, including an abusive father doing time, a grandfather involved in an illegal distillery, Mo’s absent and unknown mother, and the stunting power of guilt and greed. All of these challenges define Mo’s reality, but her unfailing pluck robs them of their sting.–Kathy Cherniavsky, Ridgefield Library, CT

The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:

Grades 5-8

Bavati, Robyn . Pirouette. 312p. Flux. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738734811. LC 2013010463.

Bow, Erin . Sorrow’s Knot. 352p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545166669; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545578004. LC 2013007855.

Bracken, Beth & Kay Fraser . Wish. illus. by Odessa Sawyer. 266p. (Faerieground Series). Capstone. 2013. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781623700034.

Bradley, F. T . Code Name 711. 246p. (Double Vision Series). HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062104403.

Chan, Crystal . Bird. 304p. S & S/Atheneum. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442450899; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442450905.

Delaney, Joseph . The Ghost Prison. illus. by Scott M. Fischer. 112p. Sourcebooks/Fire. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781402293184.

Dickerson, Melanie . The Captive Maiden. 286p. Zondervan. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780310724414.

Farrey, Brian . The Shadowhand Covenant. Bk. 2. illus. by Brett Helquist. 384p. (The Vengekeep Prophecies). HarperCollins/Harper. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062049315. ebook available.

Flower, Amanda . Andi Unexpected. 224p. (Andi Boggs Series). Zonderkidz. 2013. Tr $11.99. ISBN 9780310737018. LC 2013023361.

Freeman, Martha . Who Stole New Year’s Eve? 184p. (A Chickadee Court Mystery). Holiday House. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823427505. ebook available. LC 2012019674.

Giff, Patricia Reilly . Winter Sky. 160p. Random/WendyLamb. Jan. 2014.Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780375838927; lib. ed. $18.99. ISBN 9780385371926; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385371933. LC 2013022399.

Guertin, Chantel . The Rule of Thirds. 192p. ECW Press. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781770411593.

Hickam, Homer . Crescent. Bk. 2. 320p. (A Helium-3 Novel). Thomas Nelson. 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781595546630.

Hill, C. J. Slayers: Friends and Traitors. 400p. Feiwel & Friends. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250024619; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781466848450.

Luna, Kari . The Theory of Everything. 320p. Philomel. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256264; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101603277. LC 2012018791.

McRobbie, David . To Brave the Seas: A Boy at War. 234p. glossary. maps. photos. reprods. Allen & Unwin. 2013. pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781743313077; ebk. $5.09. ISBN 9781743431108.

Mack, W. C. Double Dribble. Bk. 2. 192p. (Athlete vs. Mathlete Series). Bloomsbury. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619631298; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781599909387; ebk. $4.99. ISBN 9781619631502. LC 2013004314.

Mariconda, Barbara . Lucy at Sea. Bk. 2. 320p. (The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons Series). HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062119933; ebk. $13.99. ISBN 9780062119957. LC 2012051735.

Marino, Andy . Uncrashable Dakota. 320p. Holt. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805096309.

Marmell, Ari . Lost Covenant. 279p. (A Widdershins Adventure). Pyr: Prometheus. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616148119; ebk. $11.99. ISBN 9781616148126.

Mellom, Robin . Student Council Smackdown! Bk. 2. illus. by Stephen Gilpin. 288p. (The Classroom Series). Hyperion/Disney. 2013. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781423150640. LC 2012040446.

Moses, Sheila P . The Sittin’ Up. 240p. Putnam. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.77. ISBN 9780399257230.

Munday, Evan . Dial “M” for Morna. Bk. 2. 296p. (The Dead Kid Detective Agency Series). ECW Press. 2013. pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781770410732; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9781770904170.

Pace, Greg . Project X-Calibur. 256p. Putnam. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399257063.

Pastis, Stephan . Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done. illus. by author. 288p. (Timmy Failure Series). Candlewick. Feb. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763660512. LC 2013944145.

Ponti, James . Blue Moon. Bk. 2. 336p. (Dead City Series). S & S/Aladdin. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442441316; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442441330.

Prineas, Sarah . Moonkind. Bk. 3. 272p. (Magic Thief Trilogy). HarperCollins/Harper. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780061921094; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062285607.

Pulford, Elizabeth . Broken. illus. by Angus Gomes. 240p. Running Pr./Teens. 2013. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9780762450046.

Rex, Adam . Champions of Breakfast. Bk. 3. 368p. (Cold Cereal Saga). HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Feb. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062060082. LC 2013021387.

Reyes, Laurisa White . The Last Enchanter. Bk. 2. 404p. (The Celestine Chronicles). Tanglewood. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781933718934. LC 2013022263.

Robins, Tudor . Objects in Mirror. 220p. Red Deer. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9780889954977.

Russell, Krista . The Other Side of Free. 256p. Peachtree. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781561457106. LC 2012050989.

Ryan, Tom . Tag Along. 208p. Orca. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459802971; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781459802995. LC 2013935376.

Samson, L. L . Wrestling with Tom Sawyer. Bk. 4. 192p. (The Enchanted Attic Series). Zonderkidz. 2013. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780310740575.

Samworth, Kate . Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual: Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031. illus. by Kate Samworth. 32p. Clarion. Mar. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-547-97899-4. LC 2013020247.

Schusterman, Michelle . I Heart Band. Bk. 1. 208p. (I Heart Band Series). Grosset & Dunlap. Jan. 2014. pap. $6.99. ISBN 9780448456836.

Smith, Roland . Chupacabra. Bk. 3. 285p. (Cryptid Hunters Series). Scholastic. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545178174; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545539081.

Snyder, Laurel . Seven Stories Up. 240p. Random. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780375869174; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780375969171; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780375899997.

Turetsky, Bianca . The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile. Bk. 3. 256p. (The Time-Traveling Fashionista Series). Little, Brown/Poppy. 2013. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316224888. LC 2012042009.

Walden, Mark . Earthfall. 265p. S & S. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442494152; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442494176.

Walker, Melissa . Ashes to Ashes. 336p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jan. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062077349. LC 2013005069.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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