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Ancient Mysteries and Outer Space | Multimedia Reviews, September 2014

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September 2014 SLJ Stars.

redstarExclamation Mark. 6 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2014. $59.95. ISBN 9780545661140.

Gr 1-3 –Poor, sad, Exclamation Point. He doesn’t understand his role in the Land of Punctuation. His efforts to fit in don’t work, leaving him only one option: running away. Suddenly he is confronted by Question Mark, who interrogates him with—what else?—a million questions. “What’s your favorite food, what grade are you in, what’s your favorite movie, what, what, what…?!!” Exclamation Point reaches his breaking point and explodes by using himself in the proper manner. He gets it! He understands his responsibility. Emphasis, surprise, excitement and so on. His life has a point! Clever use of primary penmanship paper as the background, simple yet extremely expressive and endearing facial features within the punctuation dots jazz up what can be a very dry topic. Speaking of jazz, music by David Mansfield complements the story’s moods perfectly from its low points to its exuberant ones. Question Mark, voiced by Emily Eiden, almost steals the show as she interrogates timid Exclamation Point (­MacLeod Andrews)—think Charlie Brown and Lucy. Narrator Priscilla Holbrook keeps the story moving with dramatic pauses and wry inflections for some grammatical puns. Reproducible lesson plans with extension activities related to the Common Core State Standards are included inside the cover. Punctuation has never been this fun. A recommended title which can easily be adapted to use through the sixth grade.–Nancy Baumann, Literacy Consultant, Columbia, MO

redstarLocomotive. 24 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629236209.

Gr 2-4 –Brian Floca’s Caldecott Medal-winning book (S. & S., 2013) has been ably translated into video form in a way that respects the text and the propulsive yet informational tone. It covers the building of the transcontinental railroad, the experience of travel circa 1869, and the impact of steam power and train transportation on the settling of the American west. The presentation enhances Floca’s picture-book format with effective use of sound—the hiss of steam, the squeal of wheels on the rails, the steady beat of the train as it makes its way down the track. The use of fiddle music is judicious, and never becomes overbearing or distracting. The oversize text used in the book to indicate sounds appears with the sounds, making the translation from one form to another entirely faithful. The video is enriched by bonus features that provide further information on steam power, a concept with which students may not be entirely familiar, and background information on Locomotive. Tying to Common Core State Standards in language and social studies, this engaging presentation could be used to enhance and extend instruction in the middle elementary grades. Dreamscape Media delivers a visual work worthy of its inspiration. For most elementary school collections.–Ann Welton, Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA


redstarWiles, Deborah. Revolution. (The Sixties Trilogy: Bk. 2). 10 CDs. 12:10 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $50. ISBN 9780553395266. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –At home, 12-year-old Sunny’s prickly relationships with her blended family trigger yearning for her absent mother. In town, the community faces SNCCs, COFOs and COREs, invaders from the North who’ve come to register black voters despite violent local opposition. Stacey Aswad perfectly conveys Sunny’s sassy young voice while Francois Battiste becomes Raymond, the African American boy who personifies the struggle for civil rights. A full cast brings to life the excerpts from speeches, song lyrics, KKK leaflets, and gospel music that establish the setting as Greenwood, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964. The audio production adds value to this documentary novel (defined by Michael Hinken as “a genre that intentionally blurs the line between fact and fiction”) because hearing the words and music of the time connects listeners emotionally. The heartfelt reading of Langston Hughes’s poem, “I, Too, Sing America,” for example, is a powerful experience. An afterword discusses the effects of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ensured African Americans the right to vote. Wiles’s Revolution, second in “The Sixties Trilogy” (after Countdown), belongs in every library.–Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

redstarMcCardle, Meredith. The Eighth Guardian. 10 CDs. 11:24 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $52.97. ISBN 9781480566682.

Gr 7 Up –Action, conspiracy, love, and war are just a few of the fascinating elements in McCardle’s debut. Amanda Obermann’s mother is bipolar, her dad’s death is a mystery, and she’s a junior at Peel Academy, most of whose graduates go on to work for the FBI or CIA. Amanda, along with her classmates, is a genius. She’s already looking forward to working for the CIA with her long-term boyfriend, Abe, when they graduate next year, until her name is called at the graduate ceremony…as a junior! Instantly Amanda’s world comes crashing down. She is taken against her will to a top-secret government agency and is forced to take tests to be part of Annum Guard. Failure in Annum Guard results in life in prison. She’s stuck. She has to say goodbye to everything: her name (she’s now Iris), her family, Abe. The more she learns about Annum Guard, the further she wants to run. Narrator Amy McFadden flawlessly articulates the action throughout the story, giving life to all the characters. Listeners will eagerly be awaiting a sequel. Slight cursing will make this title appropriate for slightly older tweens, while some ethical themes make it ideal for discussion groups. Give this title to fans of time travel and historical fiction. A first-rate listen.–Amanda Schiavulli, Finger Lakes Library System, NY

redstarSHERR, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $44.99. ISBN 9781494503406. 2 MP3-CDs.

Gr 9 Up –Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, impressive had earned a newly minted doctorate in physics from Stanford when she applied for the space program, beating out a thousand applicants for the job. Her focus was on her work and that dedication led to all of her successes. Published originally for the adult market, this audiobook will light a spark in girls who do not yet know that the sky is literally their limit. Ride spent much of her post-NASA years encouraging young women to study math and science. Written by Ride’s close friend, news commentator Lynn Sherr, this is an objective look at the astronaut’s complex life with all of her strengths and her shortcomings. Ride kept her lesbian relationship with partner Tam O’Shaughnessy hidden from the public. Even close friends, including Sherr, were surprised by its revelation in her obituary. While listeners will never know Ride’s reasons for keeping her sexual orientation private, this biography will inspire young women who have grand ideas by knowing that this woman let nothing stand in her way. Pam Ward’s narration is straightforward, objective, and suits the book beautifully.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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



SLJ1409w-Multi-dvd_HWGreatDirHollywood’s Greatest Directors.

––––. The Silent Era. UPC 739815005329.

––––. The Coming of Sound. UPC 739815005336.

––––. The Golden Age of Hollywood. UPC 739815005343.

––––. The New Hollywood. UPC 739815005350.

––––. The Modern Era. UPC 739815005367.

Ea.: 29 min. w/educator’s guide. filmography. time line. notes. Dist. by Ambrose Video. 2013. $199.99. Series UPC 739815005312.

Gr 7 Up –This set celebrates film as the “primary medium for exploring who we are as Americans” and as today’s most popular form of art. Actor Erick Avari guides viewers through 100 years of its history, told through the brief bios of more than two dozen diverse acclaimed directors. The most insightful program, “The Silent Era,” throws the spotlight on well-known pioneers—D.W. Griffith, credited with creating the grammar of film, and Charlie Chaplin, proclaimed as the first auteur—and the obscure, e.g., Lois Weber. Without a doubt, this chapter will be the least familiar for teens. “The Coming of Sound” points out the accomplishments of the lesser-known Dorothy Arzner (“Hollywood’s greatest female director”) and African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux (though he worked independently outside of the Hollywood studios). The series inclusively introduces viewers to need-to-know auteurs, like Howard Hawks, Orson Welles, and John Ford (“America’s Homer”), and onward to Mike Nichols, Mel Brooks (with the noisy bean scene from Blazing Saddles), and Martin Scorsese. Strangely, the reverently formal narration occasionally digresses to mention the final resting place of, say, Vincent Minnelli. Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, and Kathryn Bigelow make appearances, though a few heavyweights inevitably didn’t make the cut—Billy Wilder, for example. The clips offer a bite-size sample; excerpts last less than a minute per classic film. A suitable addition for budding film buffs and to extensive feature film collections, which would complement this series.–Kent Turner , School Library Journal

SLJ1409w-Multi-dvd_GreatDirThe Great Directors: The Making of 21st Century Hollywood.

––––. The Summer Blockbuster. UPC 739815005381.

––––. The Independent Auteur. UPC 739815005398.

––––. Immigrant Filmmakers. UPC 739815005404.

––––. Documentary and Experimental Film. UPC 739815005411.

––––. Animation. UPC 739815005428.

Ea.: 29 min. w/educator’s guide. filmography. time line. notes. Dist. by Ambrose Video. 2013. $199.99. Series UPC 739815005374.

Gr 9 Up –This informative and wide-ranging survey will have immediate appeal for its inclusion of many movies known, and loved, by teens. Both this and the “Hollywood’s Greatest Directors” series cover a lot of ground. “The Summer Blockbuster” segment glowingly praises Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, aided with clips from Jaws and the first “Star Wars” trilogy, here referred to as the first franchise, though James Bond may beg to differ. (It’s also debatable that Apocalypse Now is “the best war film ever made.”) Au courant, the series includes splashes of current moneymakers: the “Transformer” movies, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, and Iron Man. The focus moves away from the mainstream to independent cinema, “a new form of literature,” in the second episode, which serves as a valuable introduction to John Cassavetes, 2001, and Annie Hall, mixed in with Quentin Tarantino. “Immigrant Directors” introduces the “Master of Innuendo” Ernst Lubitsch and even ventures to the Blacklist era in the bio of Elia Kazan. Though the wrong date is given for Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal Vertigo—it’s 1958, not 1954 (and the director, son of a grocer, wasn’t born into “English society”)—teens who haven’t seen his thrillers will be drawn to them, especially Psycho (yes, the shower scene is included). The segment on documentaries goes back to the days of Robert J. Flaherty, and Mara Deren and Stan Brakhage represent experimental filmmaking. The concluding chapter arguably credits CGI for propelling “a second golden age of animation” that it says exceeds old-school Disney. Overall, there’s plenty of material for launching popular culture reports and as a visual who’s-who for fine arts collections.–Kent Turner , School Library Journal

Preschool to grade 4

Big Bad Bubble. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629236865.

The Boxcar Children. 81 min. Phase 4 Films. 2014. $24.99. UPC 625828632983. Rated G.

Celery Night Fever. (VeggieTales.) 45 min. Dist. by Big Idea. DVD $14.99. UPC 820413138899.

Dinosaur Big City/Dinosaurs A to Z Double Feature. (Dinosaur Train). 210 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781608830312.

Lawn to Lawn. 8 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. $38.99. ISBN 9781629236261.

Rodney Raccoon Goes Green! 23 min. w/CD and video game. Dist. by WayOut Kids. Rodneyraccoon.com. 2014. $29.97. UPC 642187449380.

School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten . 36 min. English subtitles. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2013. $225. ISBN 1937772985.

Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. 17 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9871629236896.

Tiny Trouble. (Wild Kratts). 50 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781608830145.

Grades 5 Up

A Boy’s Puberty Video. 48 min. Dist. by Coulter Video. 2014. DVD $19.99. Blu-ray $25. UPC 887936831577.

Drones in My Backyard. 13 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $150. ISBN 194154505X .

The Gathering Swarms. (Nature.) 53 min. Dist. by PBS. DVD $19.99 and Blu-ray $24.99. ISBN 9781627890175.

Growing Up Green. 27 min. Dist. by the Video Project. 2013. School: $79. Public: $39. ISBN unavail.

Inside Animal Minds. (NOVA). 180 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $29.99. ISBN 9781627890076

The Lost Gardens of Babylon. (Secrets of the Dead). 56 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627890144.

Portraying the Earth. (Advanced Placement Human Geography: Making Sense of Planet Earth.) 27min. w/80-page guide. Dist. by Ambrose Video. $249.99. UPC 739815005299.

Shark Collection. 138 min. Dist. by Inception Media Group. 2014. $19.98. UPC 815300012468.


early elementary

Bunting, Eve. Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490615639. digital download.

Cronin, Doreen. Dooby Dooby Moo. 1 CD with tr book. 8 min. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781481414562.

Kline, Suzy. Horrible Harry and the Missing Diamond. 1 CD. 45 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490613017. digital download.

London, Jonathan. Froggy Gets a Doggy. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490613093. digital download.

middle grade

Bacon, Lee. The Dominion Key. (Joshua Dread: Bk. 3). 5 CDs. 6:19 hrs. Listening Library. $45. ISBN 9780804121460. digital download.

de la Peña, Matt. A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis. 1 CD. 8 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781629238487.

McMann, Lisa. Island of Fire. (The Unwanteds: Bk. 3). 7 CDs. 8:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490609089. Playaway, digital download.

Nix, Garth & Sean Williams. Blood Ties. (Spirit Animals: Bk. 3). 5 CDs. 5:30 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $29.99. ISBN 9780545648769.

Palacio, R.J. The Julian Chapter. (Wonder: Bk. 2). 3 CDs. 2:36 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $29.97. ISBN 9781491524077.

PATTERSON, James & Chris Tebbetts. Save Rafe. (Middle School: Bk. 5). 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. $18. ISBN 9781478953500. digital download.

Paulsen, Gary. Family Ties. (Liar Liar: Bk. 5). 3 CDs. 3 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $39.97. ISBN 9781480566057.

Preus, Margi. West of the Moon. 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $46.75. ISBN 9781490615578. Playaway, digital download.

Russell, Rachel Renée. Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star. (Dork Diaries: Bk. 7). 3 CDs. 3 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781442370203.

Starmer, Aaron. The Riverman. 8 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9781490616292. Playaway, digital download.

Woods, Brenda. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $46.75. ISBN 9781490614557. Playaway, digital download.

young adult

ABEDI, C. J. Fae. 10 CDs. 12:05 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781491504079.

Chance, Megan. The Shadows. 1 MP3-CD. 10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781480598249.

Cremer, Andrea. The Inventor’s Secret. 6 CDs. 7:35 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $59.99. ISBN 9781629234564.

ELKELES, Simone. Return to Paradise. 6 CDs. 6:52 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781629235547. 1 MP3-CD.

Green, Sally. Half Bad. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490614274. Playaway, digital download.

Hall, Shyima & Lisa Wysocki. Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $34.99. ISBN 9781494503505. 1 MP3-CD.

Han, Jenny & Siobhan Vivian. Fire with Fire. (Burn for Burn: Bk. 2). 9 CDs. 11 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $97.75. ISBN 9781470363352. Playaway, digital download.

Jury, Walter & Sarah Fine. Scan. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781629237169. 1 MP3-CD.

Krys, Michelle. Hexed. 7 CDs. 8:35 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $50. ISBN 9780804167161. digital download.

McGowan, Maureen. Glory. (The Dust Chronicles: Bk. 3). 1 MP3-CD. 8:23 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781480598225.

VEGA, Danielle. The Merciless. 6 CDs. 6:20 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $54.97. ISBN 9781491518434.

Wendig, Chuck. Blightborn. (The Heartland Trilogy: Bk. 2). 1 MP3-CD. 12:46 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781491525463.

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