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Award-Winning Works Arrive | Multimedia Reviews, December 2014

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Gaming Reviews


redstarMr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall & the NAACP. 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627890861.
Gr 7 Up –Considered one of the greatest lawyers of the 20th century, Thurgood Marshall changed the landscape of the American legal system through his tireless efforts fighting segregation and eradicating Jim Crow laws. He also paved the way for such civil rights activists as Martin Luther King, Jr. Mick Caouette’s powerful documentary focuses on Marshall’s early career as a promising attorney under the tutelage of the NAACP’s Charles Hamilton Houston, the mastermind behind using the “separate but equal” doctrine to address and change inequalities in public education, culminating in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. The film employs archival footage and audio clips of the gravelly voiced Marshall interspersed with video commentary from legal experts and scholars, depicting Marshall as a heroic figure who, despite continually putting himself in harm’s way, was determined to make the country better for all citizens. As one of Houston’s “social engineers,” lawyers whose aim was to build a strong society, he gained notoriety as a defender of civil rights through his precedent-setting court cases. Caouette downplays this larger-than-life persona in favor of showcasing Marshall’s groundbreaking achievements, and by doing so, he thoughtfully describes a man whose passion for social justice continues to resonate today. The DVD’s bonus features are limited—a 12-minute reflection piece by Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and John Paul Stevens (retired) and the film’s trailer—but the strength of the documentary is enough for libraries to add this to their collections.–Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH

redstarYears of Living Dangerously: The Complete Series. 540 min. Dist. by FilmRise. 2014. $55.99. UPC 887936951893.
Gr 9 Up –This excellent Emmy Award–winning series, which originally aired on Showtime, takes viewers on an in-depth tour of climate change’s effects on planet Earth. Familiar Hollywood and television stars, along with journalists and scientific experts, travel the globe to present, explain, and seek possible solutions to climate change. Political, religious, economic, social, environmental, agricultural, and educational aspects are discussed. Various locations are featured as the impact of climate change is explored, from drought- and fire-stricken areas of the United States (and those ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy) to Bangladesh, Syria, Indonesia, Belgium, Greenland, Yemen, and Chile. Displacement of people by rising sea levels, struggles over fresh water, years-long drought conditions, insect invasions, deforestation, floods, and political unrest and instability are detailed. Additionally, surprising links between various events happening all over the world and climate change are made apparent. There is a tremendous amount of information presented and wonderful human connections made between the big scientific phenomena discussed and the very real people being adversely impacted by the many aspects of climate change. The famous faces will catch viewers’ attention, but the exceptional presentation will draw them in, keep them watching, and get them thinking. Sociology, history, science, math, and health classes could use this series as part of their studies. Students will have many questions answered, and many more questions for discussion will be sparked.–Cynthia Ortiz, Hackensack High School, NJ


redstarGaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Harper Audio. 2014. $27.99. ISBN 9780062364463. digital download.
Gr 5 Up –Gaiman’s beloved novel gets the full-cast treatment in this new audio edition. Due to ghastly circumstances, the ghosts of a graveyard take in a young toddler whom they name Nobody, or Bod for short. The enigmatic Silas becomes Bod’s guardian and makes it his duty to protect the boy from those who intend harm. Bod grows up in the graveyard, and although he is still alive, the Freedom of the Graveyard allows him to see in darkness, fade from view, and slide through walls. As he matures, Bod encounters ghouls, a werewolf, and a witch, but none as terrifying as the man who killed his family and now wishes him dead—Jack. For the first time, listeners can hear the music of the Danse Macabre, the slithering echo of the Sleer, and the transformation of Bod from inquisitive child to self-assured young man. The full cast, including Gaiman, skillfully depicts each character’s unique traits and idiosyncrasies. Listeners will also hear some background on the book, read by the author himself, and music by Béla Fleck. A must-have for fans of the original novel and anyone who enjoys engaging fantasy.–Amanda Spino, Ocean County Library, NJ

redstarHagen, George. Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle. 7 CDs. 8:51 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $45. ISBN 9780553396911. digital download.
Gr 3-6 –As Gabriel Finley nears his 12th birthday, he learns that his long-missing father could communicate with ravens. Gabriel realizes that he is destined to join with the ravens to find a dangerous necklace, called a torc, that may be able to save his father—or destroy the world. Gabriel delivers a young raven named Paladin from the evil valravens and together they set off to find the torc and rescue Gabriel’s father. He soon discovers that he must travel to an underground world called Aviopolis and face the terrible Corax, a half-man, half-raven who is also Gabriel’s uncle. Along his journey, Gabriel teams up with new friends and potential traitors. Narrator Michael Goldstrom does an excellent job capturing the eerie, fantastical quality of the tale while providing recognizable voices for each of the main characters. The differences between voices are subtle but convincing. Goldstrom’s voice only serves to enhance the pacing and tone of an already excellent story. Fantasy lovers will find themselves captivated by this presentation.–Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Public Library, UT

redstarHolm, Jennifer L. The Fourteenth Goldfish. 3 CDs. 3:04 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $30. ISBN 9780804193825. digital download.
Gr 3-7 –Ellie’s amicably divorced parents found their passion in the “thee-a-tah.” Her previous best friend found hers in sports. Ellie doubts she’ll ever find anything she’s passionate about, but then her mother brings home Melvin, Ellie’s cranky scientist grandfather. He’s found the fountain of youth in the compound of a newly discovered species of jellyfish, the T. melvinus. His proof? Melvin now resides in the body of a sullen 13-year-old boy. He insists a Nobel Prize is imminent and enlists Ellie’s help in recovering the T. melvinus from the research lab. In the course of their (mis)adventures, Ellie discovers a passion for science, meets a new friend, and finds life is full of opportunities to make the impossible possible. Holm provides a humorous view into the ever-evolving cycle of relationships and the importance of the wonder of science. Narrator Georgette Perna is exceptional, especially as cankerous, trying-to-maintain-his-dignity Melvin. The well-constructed mix of historical nonfiction and age transformation is a little bit Blue Balliett’s The Calder Game and a little bit Mary Rogers’s Freaky Friday. A top pick.–Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH

redstarWoodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. 4 CDs. 3:56 hrs. Listening Library. $28. ISBN 9780553397260. digital download.
Gr 4-7 –Free verse is an effective writing style for describing dreams. Woodson’s text is particularly compelling when detailing the small moments of life, such as the “Saturday night smells of biscuits and burning hair” or bemoaning the “hair ribbons that anchor (her) to childhood.” And while poetry is sometimes difficult to follow on audio, this author is a masterful narrator. The sounds of the words and the rhythm expressed by her thoughtful intonation, careful pacing, and deliberate emphasis make clear the poetic form: “a country caught” (sharp c’s and t, pause) “between black and white.” Themes include the iconic search for identity in changing times: for example, Woodson’s Southern cousins say she speaks too quickly, while in New York, “coming back home isn’t really coming back home at all.” Yet throughout her interestingly complicated childhood, young Jackie tells stories until she grows to understand that “stories are like air to me and I know now that words are…my brilliance.” A personal memoir and a child’s eye view of the nascent civil rights movement, this work confirms Woodson’s brilliance as a writer for children and for adults, too.–Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL

redstarMYERS, Walter Dean. Somewhere in the Darkness. 5 CDs. 5:15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $51.75. ISBN 9781470393922. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 7 Up –Jimmy is 14 years old. His biological mother is dead and his father has been incarcerated for the past nine years. As the story opens, Jimmy is living with Mama Jean in a rundown New York neighborhood. One day he returns home to find a stranger claiming to be his father. Crab, as Jimmy’s father is called, has been released from prison, and a condition of his release is that he has to get a job. He claims that one is waiting for him in Chicago, and he wants to take his son with him. Mama Jean reluctantly agrees, and an equally reluctant Jimmy begins his journey with Crab. It becomes evident to Jimmy that Crab’s story about the job is a lie. Meanwhile, Crab is determined to prove to Jimmy that he did not kill the person he was convicted of murdering. This is a bittersweet story of a father trying to make up for lost time with the son he barely knows. The story does not have a feel-good, happy resolution, but it ends on a hopeful note for Jimmy’s future. The degree to which J.D. Jackson is able to capture the essence of the story is wonderful. His narration is even toned yet full of expression and feeling. This is a remarkable yet sad story made even better by a stellar audio performance.–Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH


preschool to grade 4

Bailey at the Museum. 7 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629239569.

Daisy: A Hen into the Wild. 93 min. Dist. by Olive Films. 2014. $19.95. UPC 887090800303.

Biodiversity. DVD ISBN 9781592348909; Digital 9781592348978.

––––. Changing Climate. ISBN 9781592348947; Digital ISBN 9781592349012.

––––. Earth and You. ISBN 9781592348930; Digital ISBN 9781592349005.

–––– .Impacts on Earth. ISBN 9781592348916; Digital ISBN 9781592348985.

––––. Keeping Earth Healthy. ISBN 9781 592348954; Digital ISBN 9781592349029.

––––. Natural Resources. ISBN 9781 592348923; Digital ISBN 9781592348992.

ea 12 min. Dist. by Visual Learning Systems. (Green Planet.) 2014. $69.95. Series DVD ISBN 9781592348893; Digital 9781592348961. $369.

Describing Problems. ISBN 9781592349067; Digital 9781592349135.

––––. Designing Solutions. ISBN 9781 592349074; Digital ISBN 9781592349142.

––––. Investigations and Data. ISBN 97815923489128; Digital ISBN 9781592349050.

––––. Starting with Questions. ISBN 9781 592349043; Digital ISBN 9781592349111.

––––. Using Tools in Science. ISBN 9781 592349081; Digital ISBN 9781592349159.

––––. Working with Data. ISBN 9781 592349098; Digital ISBN 9781592349166.

ea 10 min. Dist. by Visual Learning Systems. (Science Practices.) 2014. $69.95. Series DVD ISBN 9781592349036; Digital 9781592349104. $369.

The Museum. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629239620.

One Is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale. 8 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633791473.

The Paper Bag Princess. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629239651.

Thanksgiving Is…. 7 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633791404.

The Safety Show. (Ruby’s Studio). 47 min. Dist. by the Mother Company. Themotherco.com. 2013. $14.99. ISBN 9780988282780.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star/Star Light, Star Bright. 6 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629712.

Grades 5 Up

Active Parenting 4th Edition: Video 4: Building Courage & Self-Esteem. 29 min. Dist. by AV Café. 2014. $79.95. ISBN 9781597233101.

Black Ice. 52 min. Dist. by Filmakers Library. 2014. $295. ISBN unavail.

Little Immigrants. 42 min. Dist. by Third World Newsreel. 2008. $79.95. ISBN unavail.

Mobilize. 84 min. Dist. by Disinformation. 2014. $19.98. UPC 826262011697.

Operation Maneater. 180 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627890465.

The Overdose Epidemic: What Can Be Done to Stop It? 20 min. w/22-page PDF guide. Dist. by Human Relations Media. 2015. $149.95. Streaming rental $24.95. ISBN 9781627060479.

Pothead. 18 min. w/19 page PDF guide. Dist. by Human Relations Media. 2015. $149.95. Streaming rental $24.95. ISBN 9781627060493.

Secrets of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. ISBN 9781627890274.

––––. Secrets of Westminster. ISBN 9781608830541.

ea: 55 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99.

The Trouble with Bread. 27 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2013. $195. Rent $60. ISBN 1941545130.

Vaccines: Calling the Shots. (NOVA). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627891271.


early elementary

Bliss, Harry. Bailey. 1 CD. 7 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781633792364.

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. 1 CD. 17:51 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9781430117407.

GUTMAN, Dan. Miss Holly Is Too Jolly. (My Weird School: Bk. 14). 1 CD. 45 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781470341534. digital download.

Markel, Michelle. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. 1 CD. 9 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781629238340.


middle grade

Barrows, Annie. Magic in the Mix. 5 CDs. 6:16 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781633790469. 1 MP3-CD.

BOSCH, Pseudonymous. Bad Magic. 6 CDs. 6:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. ISBN 9781478955542. $25. digital download.

Cody, Matthew. Villainous. (Supers of Noble’s Green: Bk. 3). 6 CDs. 7:19 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $40. ISBN 9780804193788. digital download.

FEINSTEIN, John. The Walk On. (Triple Threat.) 7 CDs. 8:11 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. ISBN 9781633791541. 1 MP3-CD.

GIBBS, Stuart. Space Case. 6 CDs. 6:28 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $29.99. ISBN 9781442376397. digital download.

Jeter, Derek & Paul Mantell. The Contract. 4 CDs. 4 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $19.99. ISBN 9781442375437. digital download.

Mackey, Heather. Dreamwood. 8 CDs. 9:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 97814906273034. Playaway, digital download.

Riordan, Rick. Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods. 10 CDs. 12:24 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $50. ISBN 9780804168465. digital download.

Scieszka, Jon. Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor. 3 CDs. 2:46 hrs. Listening Library. $30. ISBN 9780553396997. digital download.

Voigt, Cynthia. Angus and Sadie. 4 CDs. 4:25 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $30. ISBN 9780553396355. digital download.

Young adult

Adornetto, Alexandra. Ghost House. 8 CDs. 9 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $54.97. ISBN 9781491530399.

Appelhans, Lenore. Chasing Before. (The Memory Chronicles: Bk. 2). 9 CDs. 10:22 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $60. ISBN 9780307942739. digital download.

BURGESS, Melvin. The Hit. 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $66.75. ISBN 9781490625263. Playaway, digital download.

CHARBONNEAU, Joelle. Graduation Day. (The Testing Trilogy: Bk. 3). 8 CDs. 9:15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9871470326296. Playaway, digital download.

de la Cruz, Melissa. Vampires of Manhattan. 8 CDs. 8 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. $30. ISBN 9781478929918. digital download.

DeWoskin, Rachel. Blind. 9 CDs. 10:41 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $55. ISBN 9781101890974. digital download.

GRIFFIN, Adele. The Unfinished Life of ­Addison Stone. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Blackstone Audio. 2014. $76. ISBN 9781483013893. 1 MP3-CD.

Millet, Lydia. Pills and Starships. 7 CDs. 7:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490619347. Playaway, digital download.

Perkins, Stephanie. Isla and the Happily Ever After. (Anna and the French Kiss: Bk. 3). 7 CDs. 8:37 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. ISBN 9780307968609. digital download.

Strauss, Victoria. Color Song. (Passion Blue: Bk. 2). 1 MP3-CD. 8:53 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 978149156469.

Westerfeld, Scott. Afterworlds. 12 CDs. 14 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781442372467. digital download.

Yovanoff, Brenna. Fiendish. 9 CDs. 10 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $83.99. ISBN 9781494504755. 1 MP3-CD.

GAMING: The latest franchise installments and a new FPS

SLJ1412-MultiGAM-SupperSmahersbrosSuper Smash Bros 3DS. Nintendo. 2014. $39.99. UPC unavailable. Nintendo 3DS/2DS console required (not included).
Gr 2 Up –It’s been six years since Brawl, and for the first time ever Nintendo’s star franchise is portable and includes everything veteran smashers expect and then some. Compete in solo matches, local matches, and online against players from around the world with a wealth of familiar characters and some surprising newcomers, such as Mega Man and the Wii Fit Trainer. Secret unlockable characters also populate the game, which has hundreds of achievements to complete. Though it’s traditionally played on a television, the portable nature of this new Smash Bros allows for more diverse gameplay. However, it still only offers up to four players in one battle, each of whom needs their own cartridge and 3DS or 2DS. This is disappointing, since other multiplayer games for the DS systems, such as Mario Kart, included character ghost modes where you would only need one cartridge and up to eight players could play on their own devices, making Super Smash Bros 4 less appealing for library programming. However, theStreetSmash” mini game may hold great appeal for libraries using the consoles for outreach. With the volume of fans of the franchise, libraries can hone in on this group of players through “StreetSmash” to promote their library. Programming may be difficult as libraries would need multiple copies, or participants would be required to bring their own. However, with this particular title, attendance would not be difficult to achieve. The Wii U version is due out during the 2014 holiday season and could be more widely used for programming. A must for all circulating gaming collections.

SLJ1412-MultiGAM-Animal-crossingAnimal Crossing New Leaf. Nintendo. 2013. $39.99. UPC unavail.
Gr 2 Up –Get ready to move into your new town in the latest installment of the “Animal Crossing” series. All the favorite activities from earlier games are here: fishing, digging up fossils, catching bugs, interior design, and, of course, interacting with your very active neighbors. The game’s key feature of 365 days of different gameplay is still strong, but the time feature has been given a facelift to allow players to travel forward or backwards in time in case they missed an event or finished all the activities on a given day. What really sets New Leaf apart from other “Animal Crossing” games is the ability to leave your town and visit the towns of other players easily, either with or without a Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, the use of the StreetPass feature will allow gamers to exchange a simple message, visit the homes of other users, and purchase rare items. While there is no objectionable content here, users need to have proficient reading comprehension abilities, since much of the gameplay involves conversing with the animals. Animal Crossing’s unique life skills component, which includes such tasks as letter writing, could be beneficial to ESL classes or to develop skills in a fun way. A must for all circulating gaming collections.

SLJ1412-MultiGAM-DestinyDestiny. Bungie/Activision. 2014. $59.99. UPC unavail. Available cross platform: PS3, PS4, XBOXONE, XBOX360.
Gr 7 Up –For two years Activision has been promising the ultimate futuristic role playing game (RPG) within an advanced first-person shooter (FPS) format while still being somewhat family friendly. Destiny has delivered on this promise. While most of the gameplay is reminiscent to Activision’s popular “Halo” franchise, Destiny has its own twists. The player begins by creating a character in one of three classes—Titan, Hunter, or Warlock—and selecting among five different game modes: Crucible, Explore, Story, Strike, or Tower. While some gamers enjoy a well-defined plot, the story mode is more of an outline. The majority of the action is determined by the choices made by the user. However, more story content has been promised as Destiny is a 10-year project. Players who enjoy Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games will dive right in and not give up. FPS fanatics will enjoy the fast-paced combat and multiplayer aspect, and parents will be relieved that the gameplay is not all guns and violence. It received a T rating from ESRB, very unusual for such a popular FPS game. The PlayStation 3 and 4 versions are great for circulating collections, while 360 and X1 require the online component to even get started. Areas that lack reliable internet connectivity should spend their funds elsewhere. However, given the popularity of this game, libraries whose collections are more for the “try before you buy it” patron base would benefit from the many circulations Destiny would receive. Keep your eye on this one.
Amanda Schiavulli, Finger Lakes Library System, NY


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