June 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ’s March 2018 Popular Picks

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Picture Books

Child, Lauren. A Dog With Nice Ears. illus. by Lauren Child. 32p. (Charlie and Lola). Candlewick. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536200362. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –In Child’s latest “Charlie and Lola” adventure, Lola is determined to get a dog even though her parents have said no. Lola will not be dissuaded. Together with Charlie and their friend Marv, she determines that her ideal pup will have nice ears (for holding glasses on), a puffy tail, a wiggly nose (but absolutely no fleas), and perhaps be good at hopping. Readers may not be surprised by the pet that she ends up with, but they’ll be certain it is the perfect kind of “dog” for Lola. The mixed media illustrations feature Child’s signature style of rich bright patterns and line-drawn characters and incorporate whimsical and imaginary elements throughout. The sibling conversation is authentic and entertaining with such excellent exchanges as Lola’s first demand that their dog must have a very waggy tail that is “FIVE rulers long.” When Charlie insists that five rulers is absolutely too long a tail for any dog to have, Lola happily amends her wish to a puffy tail, perfect for an extremely furryish dog. ­VERDICT A pleasing selection for storytime or one-on-one enjoyment. Recommended for most collections.–Laken Hottle, Providence Community Library

Detlefsen, Lisl. If You Had a Jetpack. illus. by Linzie Hunter. 40p. Knopf. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399553295. POP
PreS-Gr 2 – In this charming circular story, a homemade jetpack is the catalyst for a boisterous fantasy adventure that blasts a young engineer from home, to school, on a visit to his Nana, and finally to outer space before he starts to miss his family and returns to Earth. The cast of characters is stylized clothes-wearing animals, appealingly reminiscent of the inhabitants of Richard Scarry’s Busytown. The writing is cheerful and straightforward, and the illustrations often fill in humorous details to the plot, giving young readers and their adults great fodder for conversation about the clever interplay between words and images. Storytime crowds will warm to the book’s fast-paced action, and independent readers will delight in the zany illustrations. In addition to fostering a sense of curiosity and invention, this book encourages a spirit of kindness, as many of the protagonist’s imaginary adventures involve him helping others. VERDICT An energetic, crowd-pleasing read-aloud that can be revisited again and again.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

Harrison, Hannah E. Friends Stick Together. illus. by Hannah E. Harrison. 40p. Dial. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399186653. POP
K-Gr 2
–Rupert, a quiet rhino, gets more than he bargains for when a loud and obnoxious tickbird named Levi shows up at school and hops onto his nose. At first, Rupert, who enjoys reading dictionaries, listening to classical overtures, and eating cucumber sandwiches, is annoyed by Levi’s presence. The raucous bird enjoys corny jokes, armpit farts, and popping wheelies. The two spend a lot of time together until Rupert devises a plan to make Levi leave but somehow the persistent little tickbird manages to stick to him like glue, at least for a while. When Levi is finally out of Rupert’s hair, the rhino finds himself alone and feeling terrible. In the end, the two agree to become friends, creating an unusual pairing full of laughs and unexpected surprises. Like most of Harrison’s books, this story is visually appealing and uses metaphors to deliver a cleverly crafted message about the value of friendship and interdependence. Robust vocabulary enriches the story line and creates opportunities for teachable moments. Underpinning the story is a series of kid-friendly antics that will undoubtedly tickle a few funny bones. VERDICT Teeming with emotionally stirring messages about the benefit of symbiotic relationships, this book will not only serve as a great read-aloud but will also help reshape the future of character education.–Andrea Jamison, Lincoln Elementary School, Calumet City, IL

Heras, Theo. Where’s Bunny? illus. by Renné Benoit. 24p. Pajama Pr. Mar. 2018. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9781772780437. POP

Toddler-PreS –Designed for the youngest listeners and readers, this sweet story features an older sister who helps her adorable younger brother wind down from his day and enjoy the rituals of bedtime. Together, they take a bath (in a tub filled with plenty of bubbles and their favorite water toys), wash their hair, brush their teeth, and read a story. Simple phrases (“Warm water tickles toes”) are interspersed with declaratory exclamations (“Soapy suds, not in eyes!). By using a warm color palette without strong contrasts, the watercolor-and-digital art suggests coziness, happiness, and familial love. The fluffy bathrobes and pajamas look positively snuggly. At several points throughout the story, the little brother seeks and tightly hugs a happy-looking stuffed rabbit. This is the third book created by Heras and Benoit about the same brown-skinned brother/sister duo. VERDICT A soothing bedtime story perfect for one-on-one sharing with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers alike.–Sally James, South Hillsborough Elementary School, CA

Lloyd-Jones, Sally. Goldfish on Vacation. illus. by Leo Espinosa. 40p. Random/Schwartz & Wade. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385386111. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –This satisfying tale, based on true events, is about three children, three goldfish, and their summer adventures. An unused fountain in New York City, which had been neglected for many years, is suddenly cleared of garbage and spruced up. One June day, the children see a posted sign: “Coming in Two Weeks! Calling All Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home.” The fountain is now ready to offer goldfish, donated temporarily by neighborhood children, a chance to enjoy a vacation, to mingle with their own kind, and swim outside the confines of a fish bowl. The three youngsters—H., Little O, and Baby Em—with assistance from a volunteer overseeing the project, deposit their fish—Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss—in the fountain as do other “goldfish parents.” What had been an area eyesore becomes a place for neighbors to gather and children to play while visiting their pets. The illustrations, done in pencil and Adobe Photoshop, have a clean, uncluttered appeal with plenty of white space as background. VERDICT This cheerful and charming tale is a great selection for one-on-one sharing and for vacation-themed storytime.–Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek Public Library WI

McKissack, Patricia C. Who Will Bell the Cat? illus. by Christopher Cyr. 40p. Holiday House. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780823437009. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –A group of mice save a freezing feline, warming the orange cat on a bed of straw and sharing their food. When Marmalade regains her strength, however, she immediately does what cats are known for: terrorizing mice. Smart Mouse gets an idea when she finds an old sleigh bell; the bell will make an alarm! Together the mice create a collar for Marmalade to alert them when she nears. But who could possible put the bell on the cat? Certainly not the mice; not even the local (and vicious) rats. But when four giants ( a human family) arrive at the farm, the smallest one takes an interest in Marmalade and gently places the collar around the cat’s neck. This way, the girl will always know her cat friend’s whereabouts. Dramatic use of dark and light presents a threatening Marmalade and the large-eyed colony of mild-mannered mice from various perspectives. Soft lines of the digitally created illustrations do little to mitigate the harsh appearance of the devilish cat which softens considerably when seen from a distance with the young girl. McKissack’s retelling of this fable from India ends with a different but satisfying twist. VERDICT A worthy addition to home and school libraries by a master storyteller, perfect for storytime or one-on-one sharing.–Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

Oliver, Alison. Moon. illus. by Alison Oliver. 40p. Clarion. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328781604. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Moon is a young girl with a highly relatable problem. She attends school, does her homework, cleans her room, goes to soccer practice, takes trumpet lessons, and works with her math tutor. There is always so much that Moon has to do. She wonders what it would be like to live free, unburdened from her “Stuff to Do” list. Late one night, Moon encounters a friendly wolf outside in the garden. Wolf gives her a ride to a clearing in the Great Forest, where the wolf’s pack welcomes her. The pack teaches Moon their “wolfy ways”—to pounce, to play, to howl, and to be truly still. Naturally, Moon must eventually return to her ordinary daily routine, but she is changed by her experience. Moon takes her wild, wolfy ways to school with her, appearing to have taught classmates to howl and pounce with a smile on her face. Simple and charming, this story reminds readers that time spent on unstructured play, on meditation, or out in nature is never wasted. Rather, these events refresh us all so that we can tackle our daily “Stuff to Do” lists. The bold, collage-style illustrations will mesmerize children. Especially striking is the contrast between the night-darkened forest and lavender-skinned Moon, attired in a white dress, frolicking joyfully with white-gray wolves. VERDICT An upbeat and howling-good read-aloud, perfect for one-on-one and storytime sharing. Recommended for purchase.–Sara White, Seminole County Public Library, Casselberry, FL

Parr, Todd. The Brother Book. ISBN 9780316265171.

––––. The Sister Book. ISBN 9780316265201.

ea vol: illus. by Todd Parr. 32p. (Brother Sister Bks). Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. Tr. $12.99. POP

PreS-K –These two like-minded titles add to the author’s previous books about families with simple sentences and minimalistic illustrations. The books contrast sisters or brothers with wildly colorful (and sometimes improbable) faces, bodies, or hair that present an assortment of siblings—each a “special part of your family.” Simplicity of illustrations reveals not only diversity of appearance and personality, but the variety of personalities and preferences within all families and among sisters or brothers, even those who do not live at home. Boldly lined, painted images of each book’s pages feature identifiable mirrorlike pages of the other book that repeat similar text and ideas, all presented in the author’s iconic child-friendly fonts. For example, “Some sisters (brothers) like to hang out with you. Some sisters (brothers) like to spend time alone.” Both titles encourage social and emotional discussions about self and place in the family, allowing the very young to visualize members of their own family. VERDICT These beginning books for listening and learning are recommended general purchase.–Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

Wenzel, Brendan. Hello Hello. illus. by Brendan Wenzel. 48p. Chronicle. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452150147. POP

PreS-K –Beginning with some modest black-and-white critters and the titular greeting, Wenzel introduces a dazzling variety of animals grouped in unexpected ways by pattern (“Hello Stripes Hello Spots”), anatomical features (“Hello Tongue, Ears, Hands, and Nose”), sounds (Hello Roars, Peeps, Chirps, and Chants”) and many other criteria, each description a part of a rhyming poem spread out across the book. Set against ample white backgrounds, Wenzel’s mixed media illustrations pop with astounding textures and colors, somewhat reminiscent of Steve Jenkins’s work, but considerably more caricature in style with googly eyes and exaggerated shapes. The dizzying parade culminates in a spread of all of the animals together, “A world to see A world to know Where to begin? Hello Hello.” A note from the author explains that these animals are some of the author’s favorites but are tragically endangered; Wenzel urges readers to discover more about them to better the conservation efforts. An illustrated list of animals is helpfully included, listing the names of all pictured animals and their threatened status. VERDICT Deceptively simple but gorgeously realized, with a powerful statement about celebrating and protecting the Earth’s fauna in all its diverse (yet interconnected) splendor.–Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY

Wheeler, Lisa. People Don’t Bite People. illus. by Molly Idle. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481490825. POP

PreS-K –This instructional book about biting goes above and beyond a basic lesson with its cheeky rhymes and bright, over-the-top illustrations. Wheeler writes in precise rhythmic rhyming verse, informing readers what things are good and bad to bite, in a style reminiscent of Jane Yolen’s “Dinosaurs” series. The refrain features the titular “People don’t bite people” and always ends with “biting is for food.” The suggestions appeal to common sense, reminding children that they are not wild animals, and giving the characters the opportunity to right their behavior, by politely chewing a piece of pizza rather than gnawing on their mother, for example. Caldecott honoree Idle’s wide-eyed, retro children jump off the page with ultra bright pastels done in Prismacolor pencils and expressions as sweet as the foods that adorn the cover page. Adults and children alike will appreciate the humor in both the text and illustrations, an element which is often missing in didactic works, from the up-close views of teeth and tongues on the endpapers, to the twist ending featuring gingerbread people (the one exception to the title’s rule). VERDICT This book is sure to elicit giggles from group read-alouds or one-on-one sharing. Add to any collection in need of a wildly entertaining title that addresses a common childhood issue.–Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Chapter Books

Johnson, Terry Lynn. Lost! 112p. HMH. Jul. 2018. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780544971189. POP
Gr 3-5
–Carter meets Anna while their families are on vacation in Costa Rica. Carter does not take chances; having anxiety means he plans ahead and is ready for any contingency. Anna seems more adventurous, at least at first. The two decide to do some exploring when Anna becomes frightened of the loud howler monkeys and runs into the jungle. Before they know it, the pair is lost. They must use their knowledge and what’s left of Carter’s survival kit to stay alive and find their way back. Johnson uses her personal experiences as a conservation officer in Canada to add credibility to the story and craft a realistic setting. Back matter includes detailed information on making a survival kit. VERDICT A quick and exciting read. Kids who love the “I Survived” series will enjoy this nail-biting tale.–Kris Hickey, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH
Middle Grade

redstarBrown, Peter. The Wild Robot Escapes. illus. by Peter Brown. 288p. Little, Brown. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316382045. POP

Gr 3-6 –The lovable robot, Roz (The Wild Robot), was last seen being ripped away from her goose son, Brightbill, and hauled unwillingly back to the factory for the Makers to repair and reassign her. She is reactivated on Hilltop Farm, where Mr. Shareef expects her to tend to farm duties, including caring for the many cows and making repairs around the farm. She is programmed to obey orders, including those from Mr. Shareef’s children, Jaya and Jad. Roz is homesick for her prior life on the remote island with her goose son, and all of her other animal friends, but she feels trapped, and fears Mr. Shareef will find out her secret—that she is “defective” and able to think, plan, and speak the languages of the animals. Roz is torn: while she enjoys helping on the farm and spending time with the children, she desires a reunion with her son even more. With the children’s help and blessing, and the cows’ assistance, Roz develops an escape plan. Readers need not have read the first installment to enjoy this sequel, though fans will root for Roz and Brightbill’s reunion. Brown’s illustrative talent is featured in black-and-white drawings throughout. ­VERDICT Science fiction meets fantasy in this delightful sequel that gives readers a unique look into what technology could someday have in store. A must-buy for any middle grade collection.–Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA

redstarChokshi, Roshani. Aru Shah and the End of Time. 368p. Disney-Hyperion. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781368012355. POP
Gr 3-6
–Seventh grader Aru should never have lit the ancient lamp. When she put the lighter to the wick, the world froze and she released the awful Sleeper. Aru is suddenly launched into the world of the gods and surrounded by mythical characters come to life. Aru discovers she is a Pandava, born with the soul of one of the five brothers featured in the Mahabharata. She also has a soul sister, Mini, to assist her in this quest—highly unusual for a Pandava. Aru and Mini must enter the Kingdom of Death to find out the secret that will destroy the Sleeper. Rick Riordan writes the introduction to this book that has a similar tone and pacing to his popular “Percy Jackson” series, but Chokshi brings her own sensibility and style. Using Hindu mythology as the foundation, Chokshi has created an exciting adventure around a coming-of-age tale. A glossary provides readers with a basic introduction to the various traditional stories that Chokshi drew from. Just as “Percy Jackson” led tweens to a deeper exploration and appreciation of classic Greek mythology, Chokshi’s tale will likely inspire a similar demand for traditional Indian mythology. VERDICT An enthralling start to a series that Riordan fans and anyone in the mood for a high-octane adventure will love.–Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA

Korman, Gordon. Whatshisface. 240p. Scholastic. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338200164. POP

Gr 4-7 –Army brat Cooper Vega is used to starting over in new places and being practically invisible. As he starts seventh grade at yet another school, his parents have given him a state-of-the-art cell phone. Unfortunately, the phone proves to be haunted by the ghost of an Elizabethan printer’s apprentice who claims to be the original author of Romeo and Juliet, which is being performed at his new school. Funny scenarios abound, especially when Cooper starts taking the ghost’s advice on how to impress the girl he likes. This humorous and well-paced read touches on bullying, crushes, and popularity, with a side of the Bard. VERDICT Korman fans will not be disappointed.–Misti Tidman, ­Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH

Stine, R.L., ed. Scream and Scream Again!: A Horror-Mystery Anthology. 416p. Harper Collins/Harper. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062495693. POP
Gr 4-6 –This horror-mystery anthology features 20 never-before-published short stories from members of the Mystery Writers of America, including Chris Grabenstein, Heather Graham, and Bruce Hale. Each story has a caveat: it must begin and end with a scream. Most of the stories within are standard children’s horror fare, offering more shrieks of mirth than horror—a shapeshifter attacks children as a shark, a supposedly haunted house scares the pants off of a father and son when it turns out it’s infested with a zombie, a town is overrun by squirrels—but there are a few stories nestled in that truly terrify. A harmless attempt to create the best haunted Halloween house on the block results in summoning a demon. A girl receives a series of mysterious texts from an unknown number with the area code 666. With the balance between playful horror and truly spine-tingling spookiness, Stine—who also contributes a story about a pair of siblings that deal with bullies in an unconventional manner—pulls together a comprehensive introduction to the horror genre for kids, much as he has done for years with “Goosebumps.” VERDICT Perfect for budding horror enthusiasts.–Tyler ­Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library

YA

redstarAcevedo, Elizabeth. The Poet X. 368p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062662804. POP

Gr 7 Up –Magnificently crafted, Acevedo’s bildungsroman in verse is a stunning account of a teen girl’s path to poetry. Sophomore Xiomara Batista is simultaneously invisible and hyper visible at home, school, and in her largely Dominican community in Harlem—her body is “unhide-able” she tells readers early on, yet she bristles at how others project their desires, insecurities, failures, patriarchal attitudes toward her. Though she is quick to battle and defend herself and her twin brother Xavier, Xiomara’s inner life sensitively grapples with these projections and the expectations of her strict, religious mother. Acevedo’s depiction of a faith in crisis is exceedingly relatable and teens, especially those going through the sacrament of Confirmation, will deeply appreciate Xiomara’s thoughtful questioning of the Church and how it treats women. Forbidden kisses with a crush and an impromptu performance at an open mic prove to be euphoric, affirming moments for Xiomara: “it’s beautiful and real and what I wanted.” Acevedo’s poetry is skillfully and gorgeously crafted, each verse can be savored on its own, but together they create a portrait of a young poet sure to resonate with readers long after the book’s end. ­VERDICT Truly a “lantern glowing in the dark” for aspiring poets everywhere. All YA collections will want to share and treasure this profoundly moving work.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Carter, Ally. Not If I Save You First. 304p. Scholastic. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338134148. POP

Gr 7-10 –Logan is the only child of the First Family. Maddie is his best friend and daughter of the man at the head of the president’s security. Right before a dinner for some dignitaries from Russia, the teens meet up in a secret hallway and find two men hurriedly walking through speaking Russian. The men end up pushing a food cart covered in a table cloth that’s hiding the First Lady, who has been kidnapped. Logan activates his secret security button, and the hallway is immediately filled with people, shouting and gunfire. The remainder of the book is the result of this event, six years later. Writing from a remote cabin in Alaska, Maddie hopes to hear back from Logan. Meanwhile, Logan is still in Washington, D.C., trying to get out from the shadow of his family name. That is hard to do when your dad is currently still in office. Things with Russia haven’t improved, so Logan’s shenanigans could put him in a dangerous situation. He’s transported to Alaska so that Maddie’s dad can keep an eye on him. City boy Logan doesn’t know how to respond to survivalist Maddie and they quickly discover that even remote Alaska is not far enough to run away from the Russian threat. The chemistry and relationship buildup between these two friends is real and believable. Maddie’s skills in the wilderness are unmatched. Through trying to survive and escape, Maddie and Logan are able to reconnect and heal some old wounds while outsmarting all the other adults. The quick pace and witty dialogue will keep teens engaged. VERDICT Recommended where survival and mystery stories are popular and where Carter has a following.–Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

Chupeco, Rin. The Heart Forger. 528p. Sourcebooks/Fire. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492635857. POP

Gr 7 Up –The sequel to The Bone Witch takes up where the first book left off as Tea, a bone witch with the power to resurrect the dead, continues her rampage against the ones who exiled her and took the life of her one true love. As an impending, all-out war is brewing among The Eight Kingdoms, more of Tea’s past is revealed to readers, while her actions in the present race toward impending doom. Chupeco’s follow-up shares many of the same aspects of the first book that continue to make for a dark, engaging fantasy series. Alternating chapters continue to reveal the events of Tea’s past that led to her revenge-filled present. This installment takes on a darker tone than the first volume. However, it is still accessible for middle school readers because of its short chapters and fast-paced plot. VERDICT A must-purchase for libraries where the previous entry and other epic fantasies are popular.–Molly Dettmann, Moore Public Library, OK

Forman, Gayle. I Have Lost My Way. 272p. Viking. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780425290774. POP
Gr 9 Up
–Freya, Nathaniel, and Harun meet by accident—literally, when Harun sees Freya fall off a pedestrian bridge in Central Park onto Nathaniel—and the three of them end up spending a day together that changes all of their lives. Harun is starstruck; Freya is his ex-boyfriend’s favorite singer, and he can’t help but think that James will want to get back together if he sees Harun with Freya, even though Harun is reluctant to come out to his traditional Muslim family. Nathaniel has just arrived in town, mentioning vague plans of meeting his father uptown when pressed, and Freya is avoiding a meeting with the executive who she’s sure is about to fire her for having lost her ability to sing. A trip to urgent care leads to lunch and further adventures around the city, and the trio’s nascent friendship gives each character the strength to confront the truth about their families and themselves. Taking place over the course of a single day, Forman’s latest features sympathetic, believable characters and adeptly addresses a remarkable array of subjects: sibling rivalry, sexual identity, mental illness, the weight of familial expectations, and suicidal ideation among them. VERDICT An absolute gem for readers of realistic fiction for teens. A recommended purchase for all YA collections.–Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

redstarMenon, Sandhya. From Twinkle with Love. 336p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. May 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481495400. POP

Gr 7 Up –Aspiring filmmaker Twinkle Mehra wants to dismantle the patriarchy and show the world that a woman of color has stories worth telling. A typical teenager, she also has less lofty goals: shedding her “uncool” status, dating charismatic Neil Roy, and rekindling her strained relationship with her newly popular best friend Maddie. Complicating matters, Neil’s twin brother, Sahil, is secretly in love with Twinkle. When Sahil offers to work with Twinkle on a movie for the Midsummer Arts festival, she accepts. Though she develops feelings for awkward, endearing Sahil, she holds out hope for a romance with Neil—especially when she receives emails from a mystery admirer. Made up of journal entries from Twinkle (addressed to her favorite female filmmakers) and supplemented with text messages, emails, and Sahil’s blog posts, this bubbly, humorous novel effortlessly explores complex subjects, such as working-class Twinkle’s anger toward her more privileged classmates. Though this is Twinkle’s tale, the supporting cast is well defined, particularly Sahil, who grapples with his resentment of golden boy Neil. As in When Dimple Met Rishi, Menon gives her heroine room to stumble as she comes into her own; teens will be rooting for Twinkle the whole way. VERDICT A sweet, smart gem for most readers, especially fans of Menon, Jenny Han, and Miranda Kenneally.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Murphy, Julie. Puddin’. 448p. HarperCollins/ Balzer + Bray. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062418388. POP

Gr 9 Up –On the heels of her success in the Miss Clover City pageant, Millie Michalchuk is determined to pursue her dream of broadcast journalism and not let her weight define her life. Callie Reyes is the pretty and popular queen bee who is better at having useful frenemies than actual friends. When Callie’s revenge prank spirals out of control, it destroys the image that she’s cultivated for herself and leaves her working side by side with Millie. As the girls get to know each other beyond superficial impressions, their very different strengths push both girls toward what will make them truly happy. Full of humor and heart, fans of Dumplin’ will not be disappointed by this book that builds nicely on the themes of self-confidence and self-acceptance without falling into lecture. This is a highly character-driven book and the authentically complex characters are up to the task. Not only is Murphy capable of taking both the popular and unpopular girl beyond tropes, but Millie is a starkly different character than Dumplin’s Willowdean. Though very different, they believably find common ground fighting the superficial boxes teenagers often find themselves in and examining the defenses they’ve built to survive them. VERDICT This companion to the very popular Dumplin’ introduces more memorable characters for whom readers can’t help but cheer. A first purchase.–Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, OH

Reichs, Brendan. Genesis. 512p. Putnam. Mar. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399544965. POP

Gr 8 Up –In the sequel to Nemesis, this entry has alternating chapters from the perspectives of the two main characters: Min, a strong female protagonist, and Noah, the anxious and complicated love interest. In this second installment, readers see Noah coming into his own as the teenagers trapped in Project Nemesis battle one another to stay alive. They are being held in a simulation of their town, Fire Lake, where one must kill the other in order to survive. The characters understand they are playing a dangerous game, but to what end? There are several intense moments and a significant number of deaths. As the plot unfolds, readers will learn about the Guardian, his real role in the project, and who he is in relation to the main characters. The events that move the plot forward are a little repetitive, and the story drags at times but Reichs’s writing style and portrayal of the two main characters keep the story exciting. Everything picks back up toward the conclusion and there are several unexpected twists and revelations for the characters. Min and Noah experience extraordinary character development, and readers of the first book in the trilogy will no doubt be intrigued. VERDICT An exciting sequel that will delight young science fiction readers with its video game–esque story line.–Nancy Jo Lambert, Reedy High School, Frisco, TX

 

Graphic novels

Clanton, Ben. Peanut Butter and Jelly. illus. by Ben Clanton. 64p. (Narwhal and Jelly: Bk. 3). Tundra. Mar. 2018. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780735262454. POP
Gr 1-4 –With the help of his anxious jellyfish pal, goofy Narwhal expands his gastronomic horizons in this latest entry in the series. When Jelly discovers that Narwhal’s diet consists solely of waffles, he encourages his friend to try a peanut butter cookie. Impressed, Narwhal eats so much peanut butter that he turns yellowish brown, much to Jelly’s consternation. All the successful elements of the previous titles are on display: adorably childlike illustrations, absurdist humor, puns galore, and an emphasis on friendship. Clanton divides the book up into several digestible segments, including two pages of brief sea creature facts and a tale penned by Narwhal and Jelly starring their long-running superhero characters Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick. Relying on a simple text, the author/illustrator presents yet another tale brimming with whimsy and joy. VERDICT For all juvenile graphic novel collections, especially where the series is popular.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Meyer, Marissa. Wires and Nerve: Vol. 2; Gone Rogue. illus. by Stephen Gilpin. 336p. (Lunar Chronicles). Feiwel & Friends. Jan. 2018. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250078285. POP

Gr 8 Up –In the second and final volume of “Wires and Nerve,” the graphic novel continuation of the best-selling “Lunar Chronicles” series, Kinney and android Iko must find Alpha Lysander Steele and the rogue wolf soldiers before it is too late. Despite the duo’s constant bickering, Kinney begins to see just how unique and “human” Iko is, and Iko learns more about her past. Meanwhile, Wolf tries to find the right moment to propose to Scarlet but surprises everyone by joining Steele as his Beta. Cinder reveals her plan to dismantle the Lunar monarchy in favor of elected leadership. However, after so many years living under tyranny, it will take a while for the people of Luna to trust one another and cooperate—and for people on Earth to view Luna in a new light. Steele’s quest for revenge threatens not only Queen Cinder and her friends but also the fragile peace between Luna and Earth. Fans of the first graphic novel will not be disappointed with the engaging, romantic, and thrilling conclusion. Gilpin’s art continues to shine, bringing life to Meyer’s beloved characters. The blue and white color tones fit the narrative well. VERDICT A first purchase for libraries with a “Lunar Chronicles” following.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ

Pilkey, Dav. Dog Man and Cat Kid. illus. by Dav Pilkey. 256p. (Dog Man: Bk. 4). Scholastic/Graphix. Dec. 2017. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780545935180. POP
Gr 1-4 –George and Harold, the (fictional) elementary schoolers who created Captain Underpants, present their fourth “Dog Man” comic book, this time with a Hollywood twist. Dog Man, a cop with a canine’s head, is assigned to the security detail of the new superhero movie The Dog-Man, based on his own daring deeds. Unfortunately, he is quickly banned because of his canine tendencies: napping, eating the props, and chewing costumes. Meanwhile, bad guy Petey, fresh out of Cat Jail, along with the kitten clone he created in A Tale of Two Kitties, L’il Petey, is intent on bringing the movie down. Elements of George and Harold’s reading assignment, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, find their way into the plot and into visual gags. The drama centers on the question of destiny and free will, a surprisingly moving theme for a work that features as many fart jokes as this one does. Petey insists that his clone must follow in his footsteps: “I’m evil, so you have to be evil, too! You don’t have any choice in the matter!” L’il Petey agrees to wear a supervillain costume but chooses his own path, helping to save the day as Cat Kid. While the format and humor make this a natural choice for new or reluctant readers, even those who feel they may have outgrown the series will come back for the groan-worthy puns, thrills, and “laffs.” VERDICT Enthusiastically recommended for all collections.–Jennifer Costa, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Winick, Judd. Waking the Monsters. illus. by Judd Winick. 208p. (Hilo: Bk. 4). Random. Jan. 2018. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781524714932. POP
Gr 2-5
–The adventures of Hilo and his friends DJ and Gina continue in this latest, satisfying installment of the series. Humanoid robot Hilo is joined by his sister, Izzy, who has a talent for creating functioning automatons. When giant, menacing robots start rising from the ground, Hilo and his friends must stop them. Izzy’s ridiculous inventions, such as a skunk that makes popcorn, will have readers laughing. Like earlier volumes, this story is a perfect blend of excitement, mystery, and empowerment, with a strong but never preachy message of self-acceptance. Though Izzy is described as weird, she is embraced for her quirks; Gina works up the courage to stand up to her mother. Colorful and action-packed illustrations paired with easy-to-follow dialogue make this an excellent choice for readers just beginning to explore graphic novels. A surprise ending will leave fans anxiously anticipating the next book. VERDICT A fantastic addition to elementary graphic novel collections. Purchase where the series is popular.–Ashley Leffel, Griffin Middle School, Frisco, TX

Yang, Gene Luen. New Super-Man: Vol. 2: Coming to America. illus. by Billy Tan & others. 144p. (Rebirth). DC. Oct. 2017. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401273903. POP
Gr 7 Up –The Chinese government wants superheroes of its own, so it creates or recruits versions of famed U.S. crime fighters. Kong Kenan was hardly superhero material before the Ministry of Self-Reliance used technology to turn him into the new Super-Man of China. But just because he’s a superhero doesn’t mean he knows how to act like one. In this second volume in the series, Kong learns about some of his new talents, although he must decide if he wants to access them the easy way (with the help of a suspiciously helpful Lex Luthor) or the hard way. Readers also get a closer look at Kong’s cohorts, such as Wonder Woman and the Flash, and there’s a gripping story featuring the Chinese Bat-Man. This book centers on flawed characters who are imitating the original heroes, both failing and succeeding to follow in those famous footsteps. But even when they falter, they learn from the experience, growing as people and as heroes. Yang’s storytelling skill is well matched by the artwork, which is filled with plenty of bright colors and kinetic energy. VERDICT This inspired interpretation of an iconic character will appeal to new and old fans alike.–Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library

Nonfiction

Eszterhas, Suzi. Baby Animals Moving. photos by Suzi Eszterhas. 24p. Owlkids. Mar. 2018. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781771472999. POP
PreS-Gr 1
–Eszterhas’s nature photography shines yet again. The author introduces young readers to the lively world of cubs, kits, pups, and calves. Young animals are shown moving, eating, and snuggling with their families as they learn the skills needed to survive in the wild. The awe-inspiring photographs will ensure the rapt attention of little ones and new readers alike. The text offers a multitude of writing styles (as opposed to just reference-based factual sentences) and will engage kids on a deeper level. This book is a real step-up from most animal baby books, and one that adults and children will read together over and over again. VERDICT A great selection for nonfiction animal collections.–­Christina Pesiri, Michael F. Stokes Elementary School Library, Island Trees-Levittown NY

Raisman, Aly. Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything. 358p. photos. websites. Little, Brown. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316472708. POP

Gr 7 Up –In this lively and straightforward biography, gymnastics champion Raisman chronicles the path of dedication and determination she traversed during childhood and young adulthood to fulfill a dream of starring in the Olympics—not just once but twice. Detailed descriptions of training and competitions capture readers’ attention through well-paced narratives balanced by pertinent, smartly added dialogue and a selection of full-color photos. The disturbing experiences of sexual abuse by sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, recently sentenced for child pornography and for molesting a large number of adolescent female gymnasts, including Raisman, are shared. Her honest account is effectively woven in without being graphic, and she makes a strong point about courageously speaking up when necessary (a hotline phone number and web address are given). Although her route was taxing, uplifting, exhilarating, frustrating, disappointing, and downright painful at various times, Raisman stayed the course and in the process succeeded and learned a great deal about herself as an individual and as a team player. The book concludes with a sensible “fierce guide to life” list. VERDICT Raisman’s inspiring and enlightening story belongs in every teen biography collection and will be especially appealing to readers with an affinity for gymnastics.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

Shetterly, Margot Lee with Winifred Conkling. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race. illus. by Laura Freeman. 40p. chron. diags. glossary. HarperCollins/Harper. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062742469. POP
K-Gr 2
–Shetterly introduces young readers to the inspirational and groundbreaking stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, and their once-hidden contributions to science, aeronautics, and space exploration. Shetterly expertly puts these women’s achievements in their historical context: segregation, blatant sexism and racism in the workplace, the civil rights movement, and the space race. Despite the challenges these women faced, they persisted, worked hard, and put a man on the moon. In this picture book take, the text, at times, reads a bit clinical and it’s occasionally difficult to distinguish one woman’s characteristics from another’s while reading. This is remedied with the handy time line of short profiles in the back matter. Freeman’s full-color illustrations are stunning and chock-full of details, incorporating diagrams, mathematical formulas, and space motifs throughout (including the women’s clothing and jewelry), enhancing the whole book. VERDICT An essential purchase for elementary school and public libraries.–Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate ­Institute, Brooklyn

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2018 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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