May 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ’s May 2018 Popular Picks

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Picture Books

Dewdney, Anna & Reed Duncan. Llama Llama Loves To Read. illus. by J.T. Morrow. 40p. Viking. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670013975. POP
PreS-Gr 1 –The most discerning “Llama Llama” fans will approve of this brand-new story from the combined efforts of Duncan, Dewdney’s longtime partner, and Morrow, a master in illustration style mimicry. The story follows Llama Llama to a setting readers will be familiar with, and builds on his previous experiences with classmates, like Nelly Gnu, and his teacher, Zelda Zebra. Duncan cleverly inserts many fundamentals of phonics and sight words using Dewdney’s signature rhyming style, making this perfect for children who have outgrown Llama’s preschool drama and are learning to read themselves. Early literacy advocates will adore this aspect, and public librarians will likely seize every opportunity to incorporate it into parent education programs. Like the other books, the familiarity of Llama Llama’s situations and life lessons are comforting and encouraging without being patronizing or tedious. The narrative respects the innate creativity in children and is the perfect launching point for inspiring new readers to go out and experience the wonderful world of the written word for themselves. VERDICT Dewdney devotees and book lovers everywhere will approve and hope to see more from this duo and the Anna E. Dewdney Literary Trust.–Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH

Cuyler, Margery. The Little Ice Cream Truck. illus. by Bob Kolar. 32p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. May 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781627798068. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Another book in Cuyler’s “Little Truck” series, this story captures the duties of an ice cream truck as it delivers treats to the families around town. The anthropomorphized truck and its driver named Lou visits a diverse group of children in various locations around the community including the zoo, the park, the athletic fields, family celebrations, and the usual trip around the blocks of the neighborhood. Digital illustrations are bright and perfectly depict different places around a community. Readers will delight in hearing the different types of ice cream the truck carries (Vanilla in a cup, Berry Crunch, lemon ice, Cookie Munch) and will most likely relate it to their own personal ice cream preferences. Ice cream trucks are most synonymous with the melodious sounds that accompany their presence and this ice cream truck is shown going “Ding-a-ling, ding-a-ling,” which will inspire children to talk about the sounds they are used to hearing when their truck comes around. VERDICT Recommended for general purchase to any picture book collection. A jovial seasonal selection that can quickly be read one-on-one while eliciting memories and planning for sunny days to come.–Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY

Dunlap, Cirocco. Crunch, The Shy Dinosaur. illus. by Greg Pizzoli. 40p. Random. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399550560. POP
PreS-K –Crunch is a hot-pink, nonthreatening dinosaur. An unseen narrator gives readers a series of directions on how to interact with him, setting up an entertaining, interactive story experience. Larger lessons about how to relate to others lurk beneath the surface of this lighthearted tale. Since Crunch is shy, the narrator suggests that readers “be the first to say hello,” but not too loudly. When Crunch is scared off, luring him back involves singing the “Happy Birthday” song. Young children get practice in using quiet, loud, and medium voices, introducing themselves, and employing good manners. In the end, readers are prompted to bid Crunch good night and demonstrate how to lie down and get ready to sleep. Crunch’s antics may not make this book the best for bedtime reading, but it is successful in exploring varying methods of communication. Humorous illustrations by Geisel-winner Pizzoli are rendered in an appealing childlike cartoon style, with the look of bright pastels. VERDICT Combine this book with Mo Willems’s Edwina the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, Lisa Wheeler’s “Dino-Sports” series, or Syd Hoff’s classic Danny and the Dinosaur for a dynamic storytime. An excellent interactive choice.–Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond

Dyckman, Ame. Misunderstood Shark. illus. by Scott Magoon. 48p. Orchard. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338112474. POP
K-Gr 2 –Jellyfish Bob, television host of Underwater World with Bob, has Shark as his guest. Shark seems to be easily distracted but is intent on presenting himself in a positive light. In the middle of the interview, when shark goes off to chase a fish (he claims to be showing the fish his new tooth), a baby seal (just taking him back to his mother), and the smell of blood (giving the human on the beach a box of Band-Aids). Jellyfish Bob, like any good host, covers by entertaining the audience with interesting facts about sharks. Kids will like the wild, exclamatory text even if it feels a bit disjointed to adult readers. As she does in her title Wolfie the Bunny and Boy + Bot, Dyckman hits the mark of both hilarious and sweet. Magoon’s illustrations (a pink jellyfish with a cowboy hat and glasses, a yellow squid working the boom mic, and a bright orange squid wearing his sunglasses on his forehead and working the clapper board) make up a fabulous cast that swim around in cool-colored waters, ranging from bright greens to deep indigos. VERDICT Make no mistake, this is a fun addition to any collection, best for reading close-up and one-on-one.–Hillary Perelyubskiy, Los Angeles Public Library

OHora, Zachariah. Niblet & Ralph. illus. by Zachariah Ohora. 40p. Dial. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735227910. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Niblet and Ralph are cat friends that live in the same building, unbeknownst to their owners, Dilla and Gemma. They also happen to look remarkably alike, so when the felines decide to visit one another on the same day, they effectively trade places, again without the children’s knowledge. They each decide to wait for the other’s return, which is where they are discovered by the unsuspecting boy and girl, both quick to realize that something is amiss. Not Niblet suddenly spurns Gemma’s hugs and hates his favorite song, and Fake Ralph ignores his favorite toy and treat. While the adults laugh at the youngsters’ suspicions, Gemma and Dilla turn detective to solve the mystery of the fraudulent cats. All’s well that ends well when the pets are restored to their respective homes and new friendships bloom. The bold acrylic illustrations adeptly capture city apartment life and feature whimsical details such as the cats chatting on old school land lines or their owners’ preposterous imaginings to explain their disappearances. VERDICT Readers will delight in this entertaining story and its happy resolution. A great read-aloud for a broad audience.–Barbara Auerbach, formerly at New York City Public Schools

Watkins, Rowboat. Big Bunny. 40p. Chronicle. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452163901. POP
K-Gr 2 –This bedtime story comes to life comically through dialogue between what readers might assume to be an unseen parent and child. Using two distinct font styles and imaginative illustrations, the exchange begins with an adult voice, “Once upon a time, there was a Big Bunny,” while a curious, scary-story-seeking child interjects questions onto the story line. Instead of stifling the child’s inquisitiveness, the adult attempts to make the story exciting by describing the bunny eating hundreds of carrots, adding trucks (and truckloads of carrots), bridges, and more—but as the narrative begins to bore the child, the adult proclaims, “Fine…you tell it.” In the child’s version, Big Bunny quickly begins eating up the story’s trucks, the bridge, and buildings, but then, in a near final page turn, readers realizes that the parent and child telling this story are actually heads of lettuce. Watkins’s muted illustrations, in watercolor and pencil, are both helpful and playful; they inventively express the creative mayhem of a little lettuce’s imagination. VERDICT This clever story within a story will perplex and intrigue young ­readers. With “ginormous” read-aloud appeal, this title is highly recommended for picture book collections.–Brianne Colombo, Fairfield Free Public Library, NJ

Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Learn To Read? illus. by Mark Teague. 40p. (How Do Dinosaurs…?). Blue Sky Pr. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338233018. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Yolen and Teague are back with another installment in their dinosaur series, this time tackling learning to read. All of the expected elements are here, including short, rhyming, query-style text; a series of inappropriate behaviors, including frustration when attempts to read fail; the adults reinforcing appropriate things that the dinosaurs do: treating the books right, trying hard, and wanting to read “one more.” This title goes further still, and provides reading tips for parents and some exercises for children in the back. Yolen’s concise, humorous text scans well, and the story moves along at a rapid clip. She knows her audience and includes accurate behaviors while incorporating things sure to tickle little funny bones. Teague’s dinosaurs are huge, appealing, and expressive, yet accurate in appearance. The full-color, full-bleed spreads pop and are viewed equally well close-up or from a distance. They include lots of movement and small clever touches, and, as always, the adults are all human, and smaller than the dino-children. VERDICT This is an incredibly popular series, and this title is a worthwhile addition. Librarians, teachers, and parents alike will find this book useful and in high demand.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT

Chapter Books

Falatko, Julie. Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School. illus. by Colin Jack. 192p. Scholastic. May 2018. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781338189513. POP
Gr 2-4 –The title pretty much says it all. Two dogs, Waldo and Sassy, do in fact stand on top of each other, put on a trench coat, and impersonate a new student so that they can save their owner Stewart from the horrible place known as school. They can’t understand why he escapes from them every morning and goes to a place where he does “nothing” all day. At Bea Arthur Memorial Elementary School and Learning Commons, everyone but Stewart thinks that “Salty from Liver, Ohio” is a new transfer student. Readers will likely suspend disbelief for scene after scene of silliness as the dogs come to enjoy school and save Stewart’s science presentation. The book’s slapstick humor and gags play largely on the dog’s superior sense of smell, love of meat products, and obsession with squirrels. The design and typography will be appealing to reluctant readers—food words are in bold, and when the dogs speak, their words are italicized. VERDICT A goofy offering for readers who like over-the-top fare.–Tim Wadham, Children’s Literature Consultant, Puyallup, WA

Middle Grade

Khan, Hena. On Point. 144p. (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream: Bk. 2). S. & S./Salaam Reads. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534412026; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781534412019. POP

Gr 3-6 –Fourth grader Zayd Saleem learns about himself both on and off the basketball court in this second book in the series. Zayd’s parents weren’t thrilled that he snuck away from violin lessons to play basketball, and now that he’s made the team, he’s finding out that it’s not all sweat and glory. His best friend Adam, grumpy about leading a losing team, joins the football team, and Zayd can’t help but see this as a betrayal. Meanwhile, Zayd’s cool uncle Jamal Mamoo is engaged, and every family member has different expectations for his Pakistani American wedding. In this tight novel that is fast-paced but never rushed, Khan deftly ties together larger themes of teamwork, friendship, and standing up for oneself in the face of family or community expectations, without distracting from the textured realities of the boy’s daily life. In short chapters with accessible vocabulary, this story will appeal to grade-school readers looking for a rousing sports yarn, a touching family story, or an exploration of friendship and conflict. Some may prefer to read the first installment, Power Forward, first, but enough context is given so that this works as a standalone. VERDICT An excellent sports series for younger middle grade or reluctant readers.–Kyle Lukoff, Corlears School, New York City

Khan, Hena. Power Forward. 144p. (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream: Bk. 1). S. & S./Salaam Reads. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534411982; pap. $6.99. ISBN 9781534411999. POP
Gr 3-6 –Fourth grader Zayd Saleem is facing challenges, both on and off the basketball court. He is torn between obeying his parents by taking violin lessons and getting ready for tryouts to be a part of the Gold Team with his best friend Adam. Zayd makes an important decision: if he skips morning violin rehearsals, he can get in twice the practice for the tryouts. After two weeks, he is discovered and in big trouble. He must somehow convince his parents that playing basketball is suitable for a Muslim boy. Bits of jovial humor from characters like Jamal, Zayd’s uncle, and Naano, his grandmother, add to the lightheartedness of this straightforward tale. VERDICT A fine purchase, especially where young readers are transitioning from chapter books to longer middle grade sports fiction.–Martha Rico, El Paso ISD, TX

Landy, Derek. Skulduggery Pleasant. 361p. HarperCollins. May 2018. pap. ISBN 9780008248789. POP
Gr 5-8 –Long-time favorite fantasy series “Skulduggery Pleasant” is officially jumping the pond to land on U.S. shelves. After the death of her uncle Gordon, 12-year-old Stephanie’s quiet life is thrown into chaos as an epic mystery unfolds involving her uncle’s secret abilities, a mythical secret, and an ancient threat. Stephanie is involved further by Skulduggery Pleasant, an ace detective skilled in elemental magic who is investigating Gordon’s death. He also happens to be an undead skeleton with a flair for the dramatic. The unlikely duo’s investigations will uncover a plot to reawaken the old gods and destroy the world as they know it, with a path already steeped in blood. With breakneck pacing, this witty adventure is populated by a campy cast of characters including a woman who fights trolls in the middle of the night and an unsightly tailor for the magically gifted. Though at times tending towards grisly descriptions of violence, this page-turner is nevertheless a sure recommendation for fans of fast-paced fantasy and mystery alike. New editions of the book’s sequels will follow this year. VERDICT If not already on shelves, this is a first-purchase for collections with interest in smart, and dark, speculative fiction.–Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

YA

Barton, Bree. Heart of Thorns. 464p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062447685. POP

Gr 9 Up –In Mia’s world, only women have magic, and all women are feared because inside any one of them could live a Gwyrach: a half-woman, half-god monster that can kill with a single touch. Since her mother’s death, Mia has been training as a Hunter to find the Gwyrach that killed her mother and exact revenge; but to save her sister from a loveless marriage, Mia agrees to marry the cold Prince Quin at her father’s behest. On the eve of her wedding, she plans to escape the palace, but her plans go awry when she discovers, to her horror, that she has magic. Now, Mia must evade the very Hunters that she worked so hard to join and learn the truth about herself. If she wants to survive, she has to master the magic she so despises, and that means learning to trust her heart. Barton weaves a girl-powered tale of love, family, and self-acceptance, and readers who appreciate fast paced, high-stakes fantasy such as Traci Chee’s The Reader or Elly Blake’s Frostblood, will be ensnared by Mia’s adventures. Those looking for rich world-building will also find much to love. As the story twists and turns, traditional fantasy tropes, such as the political marriage, are upended. Teens will be clamoring for a sequel, if only to spend a little more time with the characters in this world. VERDICT A must-buy for any ­library where fantasy is popular.–Mimi Powell, Library Systems and Services, Kissimmee, FL

Chen, Justina. Lovely, Dark, and Deep. 352p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jul. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338134063. POP
Gr 8 Up –When Viola faints from a reaction to the sun, she is saved by Thor, aka Josh, the boy who tried to sell his comic at her bake sale booth. After she is diagnosed with solar urticaria with polymorphous light eruption, a rare condition with no cure, her crisis manager parents’ reaction is to manage the situation, but Viola doesn’t want her life to change. She dreams of attending NYU in Abu Dhabi and becoming a foreign correspondent to bring increased attention to the causes she campions through her successful bake sales. Viola tries to continue living as normal a life as possible by starting a relationship with Josh and working on her college applications, but her reactions become increasingly severe—not just from the sun but from all light emitting sources, including her phone and computer. After a particularly bad episode that lands her in the hospital, Josh leaves, blaming himself, and Viola withdraws into the basement where she can be safe, shutting herself away from everything and everyone. Teens will want to read this for the romance and rare medical condition, but they will stay for the sympathetic protagonist who must come to terms with her changed reality. For readers interested in learning more about photosensitivity, Anna Lyndsey’s Girl in the Dark: A Memoir provides a look from the inside into the realities of a similar condition. VERDICT Sure to be popular and recommended for all collections.–Kefira Phillipe, Nichols Middle School, Evanston, IL

Cooner, Donna. Screenshot. 304p. Scholastic/Point. May 2018. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780545903998. POP
Gr 7 Up –Skye is part of a trio of best friends, including the bold and ambitious Asha and the artsy and beautiful Emma. Always the peacekeeper, Skye intervenes in an argument between Asha and Emma by agreeing to dance around, scantily clad, at Asha’s slumber party. Skye is horrified when she realizes that Asha has posted a video of her antics on a social media platform. For the 15 excruciating minutes before the video can be deleted, Skye envisions all the ways this post can ruin her chances for a prestigious internship with Senator Watson. The video appears to go unnoticed until Skye receives anonymous texts threatening to go public with a screenshot if she doesn’t meet the blackmailer’s demands. Skye complies with the demands while becoming suspicious of everyone around her, including her boyfriend, closest friends, and coworkers. The plot moves along at a compulsively readable pace. Though heavy-handed, the lessons about phone use, and how Internet exposure and privacy affects one’s sense of self-worth, are significant and important. Of equal value are the complex relationships in Skye’s life. Readers will recognize her doubts about dating a popular boy or remaining friends with people despite how personalities and interests may change. VERDICT More than just a quick read, this suspenseful contemporary title will be popular with teens.–Lynn Rashid, Marriotts Ridge High School, Marriottsville, MD

redstarCórdova, Zoraida. Bruja Born. 352p. (Brooklyn Brujas: Bk. 2). Sourcebooks/Fire. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781492650652. POP
Gr 9 Up –In the wake of her younger sister Alex coming into her powers as an Encantrix, everything Lula thought she knew about herself and magic seems less certain. Lula Mortiz has always been the healer, the beautiful one. That was before Alex’s spell to dismiss her Encantrix powers went awry in Labyrinth Lost, sending Lula and all of her family to the underworld of Los Lagos. When Lula is involved in a fatal bus crash, she’s determined to bring back her boyfriend. Maks has been the one stable thing in her life, but every bruja knows it’s impossible to beat Death. This sequel picks up shortly after the events of the previous installment, but from Lula’s first-person perspective. Córdova blows the world of the “Brooklyn Brujas” series wide open as readers learn more about the Mortiz family and the Deos and also meet the Knights of Lavant and the leaders of the Thorne Hill Alliance who manage all magical beings within the city. Zombies and hunts for answers bring Lula and her circle across Brooklyn in this plot-driven novel. Lula’s introspective narration shifts neatly to high action as the zombie outbreak heats up and Lula works to restore the balance between life and death. A cliff-hanger of an epilogue and question surrounding youngest sister Rose and sometimes-ally Nova will leave fans eager for the next volume. VERDICT A fast-paced story sure to appeal to fans of the original and urban fantasy.–Emma Carbone, Brooklyn Public Library

redstarGoo, Maurene. The Way You Make Me Feel. 336p. Farrar. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374304089. POP
Gr 9 Up –“You simply couldn’t out-jerk a jerk like me.” Clara Shin, the protagonist in Goo’s latest, delivers this line with pride. Life is a joke for prank-loving, prickly Clara, who is Korean Brazilian American. She has a blast with her friends, wistfully follows her social media influencer mother’s exploits on Instagram, and keeps “realness” at arms’ length. When one of her pranks lands her in real trouble, her hip dad tightens the reins, assigning her to a summer working in his sweltering food truck alongside her overachiever archenemy, Rose Carver. As the girls find a way to work together and eventually form a friendship, and Clara meets Hamlet, a cute boy whose earnestness pains her and makes her heart flutter, she warms up to the idea of actually caring about things. Clara’s struggle with what her shift in attitude means for the identity, defenses, and friendships she has constructed for herself is sensitively drawn; even as readers cringe at some of her behavior, they’ll be rooting for her. Hamlet’s sweet inexperience veers into unintentional controlling behavior from time to time, but his openness gives Clara plenty of space to figure out what she wants. VERDICT Sweet, sexy, hilarious, and featuring a spectacular father-daughter relationship, this book will fly off the shelves.–Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI

redstarKarim, Sheba. Mariam Sharma Hits the Road. 320p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062445735. POP
Gr 9 Up –The past year has brought its share of woes for Mariam Sharma and her best friends, Ghaz and Umar. The remedy? A summer road trip. After their freshman year of college, Mariam, reeling from a recent breakup and in search of answers about her absent father, and Ghaz, who leaves behind a family apoplectic about her foray into modeling, join recent high school grad Umar on his cross-country trip to New Orleans for the Islamic Association of North America convention. High jinks involving pot brownies, mechanical bulls, and karaoke ensue. Ghaz and Umar ooze drama, keeping up witheringly sarcastic, at times raunchy commentary, while introspective Mariam takes it all in. However, like its characters, this breezy, irreverent romp has a deeply thoughtful side. Though devoted to his religion, Umar contends with the knowledge that there are Muslims who see him as a sinner because he is gay, while Ghaz expresses frustration with Islam and anger at her repressive family. Karim offers a nuanced perspective on the road trip novel, centering the experiences of three South Asian American teens who also encounter racism and Islamophobia on their journey of self-discovery. VERDICT This joyously exuberant tale will speak to readers who enjoy a blend of barbed humor and poignant reflection. An excellent choice for all YA shelves.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Strasser, Todd. Price of Duty. 192p. S. & S. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481497091. POP

Gr 8 Up –Returning to his hometown for convalescence before heading off to a military hospital for more therapy, Jake Liddell is welcomed as a hero. But he doesn’t feel like one. Despite his missing fingers and several bullet and shrapnel wounds, his physical injuries are relatively minor compared to those of some buddies who are missing limbs or dead. A candidate for the Silver Star, Jake is praised wherever he goes. But the real damage he’s endured can’t be seen. Jake knows his sweetheart, Aurora, must realize he’s “not the same person” due to post-traumatic stress disorder. Compounding matters, Jake has to navigate the tension between his widowed father, a military officer who has never seen combat, and his maternal grandfather, a retired Army general and decorated Vietnam War veteran. Should he continue to seek therapy and return to finish his deployment, or take a stand against deceptive recruiters and what he’s come to see as an insane war, potentially bringing shame on his family? Strasser packs a lot of narrative into a short novel, but never wanders far from a tightly wound and compelling story. Much of the dialogue between soldiers in combat scenes is dense with military terminology, but the author fluidly defines acronyms and slang in context. While the reading level and dynamic plot are suited to reluctant readers, descriptions of extreme violence, drug use, suicide, some rough language, and a significant moral quandary makes the novel more appropriate for an older middle school and high school audience. VERDICT Highly ­recommended.–Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

Thomas, Kara. The Cheerleaders. 384p. Delacorte. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524718329. POP
Gr 9 Up –In Monica’s family, they don’t talk about her older sister Jennifer’s death. It’s been years since five of Sunnybrook High School’s most popular cheerleaders died in seemingly unconnected events, but Monica’s family never really processed their grief. On the fifth anniversary of her sister’s suicide, Monica discovers a pile of anonymous letters hidden in her stepfather’s desk. These notes urge the police officer to reexamine the evidence, hinting that the deaths were all connected. Knowing her stepdad is ignoring the letters, Monica decides to delve into the subject herself, but soon her curiosity becomes an obsession, driving a wedge between herself and everyone she cares about. Monica and Jennifer’s stories are told through alternating chapters, creating suspenseful cliff-hangers, but also a variation in pace and genre. Monica’s sections speed along like a frenetic thriller as she teases out her sister’s and the town’s secrets, while Jennifer’s chapters take on the quiet unease of a drama as she responds to first the betrayal and then the death of her friends. Following its characters’ temperaments and decisions, the atmosphere is at times eerie, exciting, and even frightening. Though the realistic depictions of abuse and sexual violence might be too much for sensitive readers, the ending offers hope of healing through a dark, but empowering conclusion. ­VERDICT This deliciously deceptive thriller and provocative drama is a must-have for high school libraries.–Leighanne Law, Scriber Lake High School, WA

White, Kiersten. Bright We Burn. 416p. (And I Darken: Bk. 3). Delacorte. Jul. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780553522396. POP
Gr 9 Up –Lada Dracul is ruling as the prince of Wallachia. Lada’s brother Radu has returned to Edirne, but the sultan Mehmed summons him back to Constantinople when Lada balks at Ottoman control. When Lada attacks the sultan’s troops and kills his emissaries, Radu and his brother-in-law Kumal are sent to Wallachia to kidnap Lada and force her under Mehmed’s authority. A full-scale invasion of Wallachia by the Ottoman army ensues. As Mehmed, Radu, and their soldiers advance through the wilderness, they discover crops burned, water sources poisoned, and peasants working as human weapons. Lada resolves to kill the sultan, but she is betrayed and the plot fails. The Ottoman forces retreat, but Mehmed leaves Radu to support the new prince of Wallachia. Lada flees to her mountain fortress. Radu, Mehmed, and Lada rush toward a final test of loyalties that will change the course of their lives and the face of Eastern Europe. White has crafted a conclusion to this epic story that is exciting, complex, and faithful to the feelings that drive human beings in love and conflict. The details in this historical epic are copious, but White keeps a steady, exciting pace. Though this is the final work in a trilogy, the characters continue to develop and deepen. The ending is satisfying, plausible, and not without hope. VERDICT Highly recommended for all high school collections.–Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX

Graphic novels

Tamaki, Mariko. Supergirl: Being Super. illus. by Joëlle Jones & Kelly Fitzpatrick. 208p. DC Comics. Jun. 2018. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401268947. POP
Gr 8 Up –Kara Danvers can’t remember anything before she crash-landed on Earth eight years ago. As the teenager struggles to piece together her past, she begins to inexplicably and intermittently lose her powers, leaving her with more questions than answers. When an equally unexplainable earthquake hits Midvale, Kara’s life forever changes as she loses someone close to her and starts to uncover dark secrets lurking in town. This four-chapter title works best for readers with little prior knowledge of or investment in the Superman mythos. Existing fans will find that Kara’s origin bears a striking resemblance to Superman’s, calling into question the time line of each character’s arrival on Earth and Superman’s awareness of Kara. This character-driven tale deemphasizes existing canon and explores Kara’s identity without delving into her more famous cousin’s baggage. In this regard, it excels; most of the story’s focus is on characterization, even if Tamaki pulls this off by containing most of the action to a frantically paced final chapter. The characters are expressive and authentically flawed. Though some of the secondary characters are from underrepresented communities, the cast is mostly thin, white, and heterosexual. The creative and varied use of panel sizes, shapes, and layouts, as well as dynamic camera angles and character positioning, keeps the story moving even when focusing on internal dialogue. The work brings an elegance to the cool, muted graphics through the artistic use of silhouettes. VERDICT This beautifully depicted origin story is a recommended addition to libraries hoping to pull more teens into the fandom.–Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL
Nonfiction

Kurtz, Jane. What Do They Do with All That Poo? illus. by Allison Black. 40p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481479868. POP
K-Gr 2 –This nonfiction read-aloud for the younger set will have kids in giggles. Each page features rhyming text that describes a different animal’s waste product, with more information at the bottom of the page. Kurtz also details exactly what zoos do with all that waste: take it to the dump, use it for research, or sell it as compost. The rhyming aspect makes this an excellent choice for preschool students. Insightful details about animal poop strike a smart balance between amusement and fact-based trivia (e.g., wombat poop is cube-shaped). Black’s high-contrast, bouncy artwork accurately depicts the narrative and will enhance readers’ understanding. The playful geometric digital illustrations pop with color and have a lot of kid appeal. Human characters appear only briefly. While not an in-depth study, kids will be having so much fun they won’t notice they’re learning. VERDICT A humorous addition to most nonfiction collections.–Richelle Rose, Kenton County Public Library, KY

Ward, Jennifer. Mama Dug a Little Den. illus. by Steve Jenkins. 32p. S. & S./Beach Lane. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481480376. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –In this this follow-up to Mama Built a Little Nest, simple, lyrical text explores all the ways mothers keep their young safe. Each beautiful spread features a four-line ditty that begins with “Mama dug a little den” and is followed with a paragraph of fascinating information on the topic creature. (“Mama dug a little den/Within a bubbling stream./A rugged lodge of sticks and twigs/Where we could grow and dream.”) Beavers, platypuses, Gila monsters, and prairie dogs are a few of the critters on display. This versatile book will spark young readers’ inquisitiveness and will surely encourage them to be more observant when out in nature. It lends itself well as a read-aloud for very young audiences or as a one-on-one with curious kids who want to know more about each animal. Jenkins’s gorgeous collage illustrations are stunning and detailed, and will draw viewers. VERDICT A charming addition to elementary collections where early science books about animals are needed and either Ward’s or Jenkins’s books are popular.–Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn

DVD

Charlie and the Curious Otters. (Nature). 55 min. PBS. 2017. $24.99. ISBN 9781531703493. POP
Gr 4 Up –Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife cameraman and an avid otter fanatic. His affinity and passion for his subjects is evident as he studies otters in the wild and in captivity. Their numbers are in decline globally due to habitat destruction, human greed for their food, and hunting for sport and fur. The film takes viewers to Florida to study North American river otters. Normally shy and fearful of humans, the ones in Florida are bolder and curious as James swims with them and films them. In Peru, viewers encounter giant river otters and witness a spectacular encounter between an otter family and a caiman. Sea otters in California and Alaska are featured as well. The most endearing part of the program is when James follows a family of three orphans as they are rescued, nurtured, rehabilitated, educated, and released back into the wild in Wisconsin. Anatomy is discussed and how the animals have adapted to survive in various environments is highlighted. James also theorizes that otters can smell underwater and conducts an experiment to prove it. This is a fine demonstration for science students who must develop questions, set up experiments, and gather evidence to prove hypotheses in keeping with Next Generation Science Standards. VERDICT This entertaining and informative film will be enjoyed by science classes and animal lovers and will win new otter fans.–Cynthia Ortiz, Hackensack High School, NJ

redstarThe Cheetah Children. (Nature). 53 min. PBS. 2018. $24.99. ISBN 9781531703622. POP
Gr 4 Up –Having gained the trust and acceptance of a mother cheetah, conservationist and cameraman Kim Wolhuter takes viewers on an 18-month journey into the life of the cheetah and her five cubs. As viewers watch the cubs grow—from hiding while the mother hunts, to learning to scan, stalk, chase, kill and eat prey—they witness the cubs’ trepidation as they gain new skills and are exposed to other African wildlife including elephants, zebras, and giraffes. Only two of the cubs survive at the end of Wolhuter’s study. Two are killed by predators, not shown, and one dies of an illness—there is some blood but no gore; younger viewers should not be unduly upset. Wolhuter intervenes when one of the cubs is seriously injured by a predator and explains that such intervention is permitted in cases of injuries caused by humans or when the animal is an endangered species; cheetahs are the most threatened big cat in Africa. The filming is beautifully filmed, and the details about these animals’ lives are fascinating. A year after the study concludes, and while Wolhuter is working on another project, he encounters a cheetah and realizes it is one of the cubs. After a bit of time watching Wolhuter, the cub eventually comes to him and licks his face. Unfortunately, this encounter is not on film, but Wolhuter’s description of it is very moving and provides a moving finale. ­VERDICT This film would be of interest to animal lovers, biology classes, environmental studies, and videography classes.–Cynthia Ortiz, Hackensack High School, NJ

Dinosaur Stories. 24 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338200454. POP
K-Gr 3 –Three dinosaur stories will please viewers who can’t get enough of these enormous beasts. Circus background music sets the scene for a beloved classic, Syd Hoff’s Danny and the Dinosaur. Who hasn’t imagined how wonderful it would be to have a talking dinosaur as a pet for a day? Meanwhile, orchestral music scores in Peter McCarty’s iconic T Is for Tyrannosaurus, as the tympani booms and the deep bassoon represents the giant T. rex to a “T.” Narrator David de Vries roars that he is “NOT a vegetarian!” while meekly and humorously stating he’s got to be what he is…terrible! Hands down, the best in this trio is Bob Barner’s nonfiction selection Dinosaur Bones. It translates best to the screen, with galloping dinosaurs that chase each other comically; viewers get a feel for the size and movement of these creatures based on clues they left buried behind. Plus, the x-ray illustrations reveal how these bones might have moved 65 million years ago. This is an imaginative, entertaining, and memorable presentation of factual content. Original pop music composed and sung by Raul Melo enhances the presentation as kids learn, “Today, only bones are left to show what has happened long ago,” and though dinosaurs are gone for good, “Maybe they once lived in your neighborhood.” Curious kids will wonder and use this humorous collection as a springboard to discover more about dinosaurs. VERDICT The inclusion of nonfiction as well as classic fiction titles in this repackaged collection was inspired. Perfect for dinosaur-themed programs.–Lonna Pierce, MacArthur and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School Libraries, Binghamton, NY

redstarMister Rogers’ Neighborhood: It’s a Beautiful Day Collection. 14:30 hrs. PBS. 2018. $19.99. ISBN 9781531703806. POP
PreS-Gr 2 –With this 50th anniversary four-disc DVD set featuring 30 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, viewers young and old will be able to visit Mister Rogers, his friends, and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe over and over again. He welcomes all children with his calm, gentle tone, all while encouraging them to take a closer look at the world around them and to appreciate the beauty of every day. Beloved characters such as Lady Aberlin and Mr. McFeely appear regularly, and guests such as author and illustrator Eric Carle and Broadway star Tommy Tune make special appearances. Mister Rogers and his friends talk about food, music, games, art, and much more, while simultaneously discussing the importance of being kind, valuing friendship, and understanding differences. Children will travel to different places within and outside the neighborhood, which will help many overcome any fears they may have of trying new things. Featuring a safe setting in which all children will feel welcome, the soothing pace of the series will instill important lessons viewers can carry with them as they grow up in an ever-changing world. VERDICT Essential for all libraries in all neighborhoods.–Selenia Paz, Harris County Public Library, Houston

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

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