February 24, 2018

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From the Page to the Screen | Multimedia Reviews, March 2015

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See our complete list of
March 2015 SLJ Stars.

redstarInvasion of the Killer Whales. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627892049.
Gr 5 Up –The rapid melting of the Arctic polar ice is resulting in unusual ecological changes in that remote area. The Arctic is experiencing the most rapid warming of any region in the world. The depletion of ice leads to the loss of hunting grounds for the largest of Arctic predators, the polar bear. But this change is also allowing the most successful of marine predators, the orca, also known as the killer whale, to make inroads into areas previously unsuitable for them. This magnificently filmed and highly relevant documentary reveals the consequent changes in wildlife populations of the Arctic as the killer whale becomes the top hunter in areas previously dominated by polar bears and the bears’ numbers are significantly decreasing as their food sources are diminished. In startling footage, starving polar bears attempt to climb cliffs to hunt birds, wade in water to try to catch salmon, and even resort to eating seaweed. In contrast, the killer whales have developed strategies to feed on the once populous narwhal and even the much larger bowhead whales of the region. Research scientists and film crews document the long and purposeful journeys of the killer whales to their new hunting grounds. Interviews with involved scientists and some Inuit of the area provide first-hand information on the environmental effects of global warming on the region. The attempts by the polar bears to change their hunting habits in order to survive offer a rare look at the possible evolution of a species. VERDICT Highly valuable for students studying climate change, environment or the Arctic region.–Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly with Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY

redstarMentor. DVD and online streaming. 75 min. Dist. by Garden Thieves Pictures. 2014. $24.95. ISBN unavail.
Gr 8 Up –From the outside, the small town of Mentor, OH, seems idyllic and all-American. However, five local students have committed suicide due to bullying in recent years, and this powerful documentary focuses on two of the victims and their families. Through on-camera interviews with two sets of grieving parents, viewers learn that the victims, Eric and Sladjana, suffered constant bullying, threats, and harassment, in person and online. In Sladjana’s case, the cruelty did not stop even in death, with bullies showing up to mock her as she lay in the casket and later continuing their vicious campaign online. According to the film, the Mentor school district did not take action, and after Sladjana’s suicide, a school counselor admitted to shredding notes that documented the many occasions when the student begged for help. No one from the school district agreed to appear on camera. (Though their grief is palpable and heartbreaking, there is a slight over-reliance on interviews with the parents, while comments from attorneys and an anti-bullying expert are cut somewhat short.) VERDICT Librarians everywhere should make this film available to their students and even more importantly, to their administrators.–Bernie Morrissey, The Harker School, San Jose, CA

redstarA Sloth Named Velcro. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627892032.
Gr 5 Up –Spanish journalist Ana Salceda takes viewers to Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia to learn about the plight of the world’s sloths. Salceda learned much about the mammals when she ended up rescuing an orphaned baby sloth, which she named Velcro. The home movies and photos of her with Velcro, as well as the story of its eventual release back into the wild, are quite touching. Salceda’s experience with Velcro compelled her to learn about saving these animals. The excellent quality video, coupled with informative narration, provides viewers with a glimpse into a world that is enlightening, inspiring, and at times quite moving. Myths about these fascinating creatures are dispelled (they sleep far less than previously thought). Efforts by various people to save them from being hit by cars are depicted, and the perils that sloths face from habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade are discussed. Facilities and individuals involved in rescue efforts are shown along with the services they provide. VERDICT Useful for biology, environmental science, and social studies classes, this program has cross-curricular appeal and supports the common core standards. The animals are endearing and will no doubt move viewers to learn more about them.–Cynthia Ortiz, Hackensack High School, NJ


redstarMCGHEE, Alison. Making a Friend. 1 CD. 5 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781633794955.
K-Gr 3 –Snow is wonderful, creating a snowman is better, and making a snowman friend is the best. But what happens when the weather warms and spring returns? What happens to our snowfriend? Where does he go—could it be into the falling water or rain on the ocean or frost on the window? Narrated by Susie Berneis, this lyrical gem evokes the rhythmic turning of the seasons. Accompanied by piano music and the sounds of spring, this poetic story about a friendship between boy and snowman is a metaphor for loss. The refrain, “What you love will always be with you” weaves itself throughout the tale and captures the beauty within nature. Berneis’s gentle voice, which adds texture and dimension, will captivate young listeners. VERDICT This exceptional story is well suited for both schools and public libraries.–Jennifer Mann, Ann Arbor, MI

redstarMyers, Christopher. H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination. 1 CD w tr book. 11 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $31.95. ISBN 9781430117469.
Gr 1-5 –Basketball and imagination soar in a game of one-upmanship; H.O.R.S.E., or Ghost, as it is also known, is described as “an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better contest.” Myers and narrator Dion Graham team up to read this original, funny, and entertaining book. Their playful banter incorporates drama and humor as they try to best each other by describing one amazing, outrageous basketball feat after another. Listeners will be thoroughly engaged and waiting intently for the next crazy shot. Sound effects include a basketball swooshing into a net and a jet passing overhead. The game of H.O.R.S.E. is further explained at the end of the book as Myers shares his childhood memories of playing the game with his friends and families. He stresses the reliance on verbal skills, imagination, and the equal playing field nature of the game in which no one has any particular advantage over anyone else. VERDICT This outstanding selection will appeal to basketball fans, boys, girls, parents, and teachers.–Mary Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

redstarWOODSON, Jacqueline. This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration. 1 CD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545790512.
Gr K-2 –Something as simple as a discarded rope has tied a family story together through several generations. In the middle of the 20th century, an African American family moves from South Carolina to Brooklyn, NY, making the great migration north as many other families bravely did at the time. This tale follows a family through several generations, always coming back to the rope and its impact on the family as it’s used to jump rope and tie suitcases to their car for the drive north. Channie Waites narrates with soothing and rhythmic tones. The story ends on a heartwarming, positive note with a family reunion which lends itself to further classroom discussion about the importance of family. VERDICT Woodson’s story of family is a wonderful addition to any collection and will prove helpful for discussing civil rights with students.–Jessica ­Gilcreast, Bedford High School, NH

redstarKinney, Jeff. The Long Haul. (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bk. 9). 2 CDs. 1:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $25.75. ISBN 9781490635255. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 5-8 –When Greg’s mom, who’s obsessed with family time, insists on a road trip, things are bound to get interesting. With a pacifier-stealing pig, hungry seagulls, a broken-down car, and the Heffleys’ luck, this family vacation turns into a disaster that ends with a day at a water park. As a result, they’re stranded without any money, a long way from home. Will the Heffley family make it home? Narrator Ramon de Ocampo animates Kinney’s book. His intonations easily bring the author’s unique, realistic characters to life. His fast-paced, entertaining narrative style is ideal for Greg’s story and will have the whole family laughing out loud. Don’t miss this selection. VERDICT Great for reluctant readers, this latest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” audiobook is a must-have for every library collection.–Jessica Moody, Olympus Jr. High, Holladay, UT

redstarMartin, Ann M. Rain Reign. 4 CDs. 4 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $54.97. ISBN 9781491530504.
Gr 4-6 –Because she has Asperger’s syndrome, Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms, rules, and order. She has a hard time containing her emotions and a teacher’s aid must sit with her during class. Dealing with her condition is difficult for Rose’s father, who is raising her alone, but thanks to her dog, Rain, a caring uncle, and a new friend, Rose may just find the strength to be her very best self. Laura Hamilton takes on the challenging role of Rose without missing a beat. She puts just the right pauses in her speech as she struggles to make herself understood and takes on a slightly robotic tone each time Rose comes across a homonym and must carefully repeat each of the words. Her matter-of-fact yet youthful tone is perfect, and her use of pitch emphasizes each time Rose becomes upset or frustrated. Hamilton also is able to expertly use a lower range for Rose’s emotionally distant father and her uncle. VERDICT This is an ideal family listen about the power of family and the bond between a girl and her dog.–Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI

redstarBlack, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. 8 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2015. $25. ISBN 9781478955894. digital download.
Gr 8 Up –A small town, sibling pairs, a beautiful horned boy who has been entombed in a clear casket for as long as anyone in the town can remember, and a dark forest inhabited by Fae folk of all shapes, sizes, and temperments—these are just a few of the elements Black blends together to create this riveting and engrossing story that pits four teens against an evil ruler. Hazel made a bargain at age 11 with one of the Fae, trading seven years of her life so her brother Ben could perfect his musical skills at a school in Philadelphia, but things went terribly wrong, and now she feels completely alone, and Ben no longer plays. When the horned boy is freed and tells Hazel and Ben why he was entombed, they must risk more than they ever imagined to help him. Narrator Lauren Fortgang is perfect for this book. VERDICT This terrific fantasy is highly recommended for teens who like magical creatures, a bit of mystery, unusual romances, and plenty of action.–John R. Clark, Hartland Public Library, ME
The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue:


Preschool to Grade 4

Anna & Solomon. 13 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633792111.

Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson. 11 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633793613.

Boom Snot Twitty. 3:45 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633792203.

Going Places. 7 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633793521.

Hansel and Gretel. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633791145.

Jack and the Beanstalk. 10 min. Dist. By Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633791275.

Jack and the Beanstalk. 100 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627891691.

Making a Friend. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633792234.

Nothing. 5 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633793491.

Peg + Cat: Pirates Ahoy! And Other REALLY Big Problems! 85 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $12.99. ISBN 9781627891424.

Puss in Boots. 6 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633792449.

Terrific. 7 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633793552.

The Very Fairy Princess. 9 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2014. $59.95. ISBN 9780545695053.

Washday. 9 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781633793583.

Grades 5 Up

Be Safe: Teaching Edition. 60 min. w/companion curriculum CD-ROM. Dist. by the AV Café. 2013. $74.95. ISBN 9780976822226.

Cooperative New Games: Leadership. 60 min. Dist. by AV Café. 2014. $29.99. UPC 702811631526.

Drill Baby Drill. 87 min. Dist. by MVD Visual. 2015. $199.95. UPC 760137655992.

Eat: The Story of Food. 270 min. Dist. by National Geographic. 2014. $34.95. ISBN 9781426346354.

Edith Wharton: The Sense of Harmony. 57 min. Dist. by Indiepix Films. 1998, released in 2014. DVD $14.95. Download $9.95. Streaming $3.99. UPC 845637002399.

Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story. 115 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN unavail.

Oil & Water. 78 and 55 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $295. Rent $95. ISBN 1941545165.

On the Way to School. 75 min. Dist. by the Cinema Guild. 2012. $99.95. ISBN 0781515092.

Put Your Heart on the Page. 67 min. Dist by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. UPC 5060051333415.

To Catch a Comet. 55 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781627891998.

Unorthodox. 89 min. Dist. by Filmakers Library. 2014. DVD $295. Streaming (3 year) $295. Streaming (perpetual) $885. ISBN unavail.


early elementary

Agee, Jon. Nothing. 1 CD. 6 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781633793037.

Andrews, Julie & Emma Walton Hamilton. The Very Fairy Princess. 1 CD. 8 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545695046.

Cronin, Doreen. The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure. (The Chicken Squad, Bk. 2). 1 CD. 30 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781490615677. digital download.

Greene, Stephanie. Princess Posey and the First Grade Boys. (Princess Posey, Bk. 8). 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. ISBN 9781470378011. digital download.

KAPLAN, Michael B. Betty Bunny Didn’t Do It. 1 CD with tr book. 12 min. Live Oak Media. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9781430117698.

STONE, Tanya Lee. Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell. 1 CD. 9 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545790413.

Warner, Sally. EllRay Jakes the Dragon Slayer! (EllRay Jakes, Bk. 4). 3 CDs. 2:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $30.75. ISBN 9781490612850. digital download.

middle grade

PASTIS, Stephan. We Meet Again. (Timmy Failure, Bk. 3). 2 CDs. 2:15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $25.75. ISBN 9781490620879. Playaway, digital download.

STRATFORD, Jordan. The Case of the Missing Moonstone. 3 CDs. 3:30 hrs. HighBridge. 2015. $24.95. ISBN 9781622314249. digital download.

WEBB, Holly. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence. 2 CDs. 2:13 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781633792470. 1 MP3-CD.

young adult

BETTS, A.J. Zac and Mia. 6 CDs. 7:20 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781633792531. 1 MP3-CD.

Bracken, Alexandra. In the Afterlight. (The Darkest Minds, Bk 3). 14 CDs. 17:09 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $69.97. ISBN 9781469291666.

Grant, Michael. BZRK Apocalypse. (BZRK, Bk. 3). 10 CDs. 11:36 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781455883325.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Revealed. (The Missing, Bk. 7). 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9781490632360. Playaway, digital download.

HOPKINS, Ellen. Rumble. 7 CDs. 9 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $29.99. ISBN 9781442385108. digital download.

Knudsen, Michelle. Evil Librarian. 8 CDs. 10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $54.97. ISBN 9781491534786.

Lewis, R.C. Stitching Snow. 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9781490632780. Playaway, digital download.

McBride, Lish. Firebug. 8 CDs. 9:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9781490637938. Playaway, digital download.

McKay, Kirsty. Unfed. (Undead, Bk. 2). 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490633848. Playaway, digital download.

Petosa, Jess. Exceptional. 6 CDs. 7 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $37.99. ISBN 9781494507633. 1 MP3-CD.

Walker, Rysa. Time’s Edge. (The Chronos Files, Bk. 2). 12 CDs. 13:38 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $52.97. ISBN 9781491548431.

Yancey, Rick. The Infinite Sea. (The 5th Wave, Bk. 2). 7 CDs. 8:15 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.95. ISBN 9781629234595.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.