SLJ's June 2018 Popular Picks

A playful bug book from Eric Carle; two friends liven up a rainy day indoors with a hearty dose of make-believe; a dinosaur loves wordplay and helps build young readers' vocabulary; and adorably unconventional animals with Jess Keating in this month's Popular Picks!

Picture Books

Carle, Eric. What’s Your Favorite Bug? illus. by various. 40p. (Eric Carle and Friends’ What’s Your Favorite: Bk. 3). Holt/Godwin Bks. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250151759. POP PreS-Gr 2 –In this companion to What’s Your Favorite Animal? and What’s Your Favorite Color?, 14 children’s book illustrators join Carle in revealing their favorite insects. Using different media and artistic styles, along with poems, anecdotes, or brief information about the merits of their creature, each contributor presents his or her choice on a spread. The insects are striking, and most appear stretched across the pages. Carle, who humorously depicts himself with a caterpillar head complete with antennae and huge eyes above his bushy white beard, begins. He loves caterpillars because The Very Hungry Caterpillar has made fans the world over. Six adorable bees dance and sway atop huge flowers as Molly Idle describes the “boogie-woogie wiggle” and “buzzing ballet” they use to lead their companions to the best blossoms. A worker bee, Eric Fan’s favorite, stands upright carrying a briefcase and sporting a bowler. Three incredibly patterned peacock spiders crawl across Brendan Wenzel’s pages. Back matter provides brief biographies accompanied by childhood photos for all the illustrators: Denise Fleming, Teagan White, Beth Krommes, Scott Magoon, Ekua Holmes, Tim Hopgood, Kenard Pak, Britta Teckentrup, Eugene Yelchin, and Joey Chou. VERDICT Eye-catching larger-than-life illustrations and interesting information that might spark further investigation into the insect world make this an excellent choice for all libraries.–Marianne Saccardi, Children’s Literature Consultant, Cambridge, MA

Collingridge, Richard. Tiny Little Rocket. illus. by Richard Collingridge. 32p. Scholastic. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338189490. POP

PreS-K –This title starts off with a teeny-tiny warning: “This book will make you want to BLAST OFF into outer space!” The tiny print is right-on in that the realistic yet whimsical illustrations will sweep up readers and make them want to visit the beautiful universe Collingridge has created. The story begins with the tiny little rocket blasting off on a rhyming adventure to Mars, the Sun, and narrowly avoiding a collision with a meteor before flying back to Earth. There the tiny little rocket unfurls a banner to say “Happy Birthday World!” celebrating the earth’s birthday with a special three-page gatefold that shows the earth surrounded by sparkling fireworks. Taking advantage of the foldout, the reverse side shows our solar system with all nine planets and an explanation of how we celebrate the earth’s birthday on New Year’s Day. While the illustrations are mesmerizing, the minimal text is much more simple and is merely used as a way to get from one illustration to the next rather than telling a compelling story. In addition, the rhyming scheme doesn’t always read smoothly. The illustrations alone should be enough to compel young readers to pick up this book. ­­VERDICT Best for reading aloud, this is an exciting intergalactic adventure to add to picture book collections.–Jayna Ramsey, Douglas County Libraries in Parker, CO

Davis, Kathy Ellen. Ta-Da! illus. by Kaylani Juanita. 40p. Chronicle. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452145136. POP K-Gr 2 –Trapped inside on a rainy day, two children compete to control the narrative of their vividly imagined play scenarios. A girl and her animal friends are happily ensconced in their castle, (a blanket/box fort with stuffed animals) when “DUN DUN DUH! A dragon came! He scared the animals! He wrecked the castle!” A dog wearing dragon wings and a boy burst into the room. The quick-thinking girl grabs her magic wand and “Ta-Da!” transforms the dragon into a friend. The girl continues to thwart every dramatic scenario the boy presents until, fed up, he leaves. Eventually, even peace gets boring and the girl finds the boy dejectedly trying to put on a magic show alone. She shares her magic wand and they discover that imagining together is much more rewarding. The text is fun to read; each character is represented by a separate font and color, so it’s evident when the girl starts presenting the problems and the boy becomes the problem solver; at the end, they share the magic wand as equal partners in their play. Loads of imaginative detail in the illustrations and appealing button-eyed characters make this a good choice for classroom use and one-on-one reading. ­VERDICT A lighthearted look at imaginative play and friendship, perfect for storytime or readers’ theater productions.–Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN Heos, Bridget. Stegothesaurus. illus. by T.L. McBeth. 40p. Holt. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250134882. POP PreS-Gr 1 –This humorous addition to the dinosaur canon has a couple of unexpected twists. There are three dino brothers: two stegosauruses and one stegothesaurus, who uses three synonyms for each of his brothers’ words. One day, out jumps an allosaurus, but when stegothesaurus uses his triumvirate of synonyms, instead of eating him, she responds with her own synonyms, as she is an “allothesaurus.” They have a lovely day together until he asks how she learned so many words, and it turns out she ate another stegothesaurus. At this, our hero runs back to his brothers for “The Finale The Conclusion The Closing The End.” The character of the stegothesaurus is a clever way to include vocabulary, and the concise text moves at a sprightly pace. However, the plot is thin and has the feel of an extended joke. The graphite pencil–and-photoshop illustrations have a simple, graphic, cartoony look, reminiscent of the works of Mo Willems and Greg Pizzoli, complete with a limited palette of peachy oranges and minty greens. The dinos all have large oval eyes with black oval pupils, as well as peach ovals for cheeks, giving them an appealing, if slightly odd, look. The backgrounds are also spare, and everything has heavy black outlines. While the humor will likely appeal to preschoolers and kindergartners, and the idea is clever, on the whole the final product is slight. ­VERDICT A fun read-aloud and a solid addition where demand for vocabulary building, dinosaur books, or humor is high.–Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT HoráCek, Petr. The Greedy Goat. illus. by Petr Horácek. 32p. Candlewick. May 2018. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763694975. POP PreS-Gr 2 –Tired of her usual diet of herbs and grass, Goat spends Saturday wandering the farmyard in pursuit of some new fare. She eats the dog’s food for breakfast (washed down with the cat’s milk), gobbles the pig’s scraps for lunch (along with a plant and a shoe snatched from the farmhouse), and downs the farmer’s underpants for dinner (filched off the clothes line). Not surprisingly, Goat feels unwell that evening, and turns a variety of colorful (and fun-to-identify) shades, before settling on pea green. When the farm family notices the missing objects, there is some consternation, but their primary concern is for Goat. After spending Sunday convalescing (dramatically laid out over a spread), she makes a gradual, day-by-day recovery. By Saturday, she’s pretty much herself again, but the story’s open ending will leave young listeners wondering if Goat has learned her lesson. Done in bright hues and inviting textures, the folksy mixed-media illustrations work in harmony with the rhythmic, well-paced telling. Goat’s body language and facial expressions underscore each moment—smug pleasure while greedily chomping everything in sight, the tongue-lolling agony of a tummy ache, the self-satisfied pose (with farmer’s boot in mouth) at book’s end. ­VERDICT This delightful cautionary tale has crowd-pleasing artwork, giggle-inducing humor, and plenty of opportunity for participation, either in storytime or small group sharing.–Joy Fleishhacker, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs

Kang, Anna. Eraser. illus. by Christopher Weyant. 38p. Amazon/Two Lions. Sept. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781503902589. POP

PreS-Gr 2 –Eraser is tired of cleaning up after bossy and arrogant Pencil; she knows she is destined for more. She shares her desire to be creative with her encouraging friends Ruler and Sharpener. When the school supplies begin working on a big science project, Eraser may get her chance to shine. Educators will identify and appreciate Eraser’s growth mind-set and all readers will find comfort in the opportunity to embrace second chances. The story is reminiscent of the Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit, but with different perspectives and complexities. Pastel illustrations and the use of curvy two-dimensional shapes bring everyday school supplies to life. VERDICT A delightful picture book that emboldens readers to embrace mistakes and elevates the eraser to hero status. A fun addition for storytimes and classroom read-alouds.–Jewelee Painter, Springfield Elementary School, Rilleyville, VA

Sauer, Tammi. Knock Knock. illus. by Guy Francis. 40p. Scholastic. Jul. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781338116946. POP PreS-Gr 1 –As bear settles into bed for his long winter hibernation, a “KNOCK KNOCK” at the door causes him to rise and frustratingly ask, “Who’s there?” One anthropomorphic woodland creature after another offers up a name and silly exchanges in the form of knock-knock jokes which are represented in alternating speech bubbles. Justin the fox responds, “Justin the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by!” while a group of critters that reply, “Olive” to Bear’s concerned, “Who’s there?” joyfully shout, “Olive us!” When a wolf, or “Ima,” appears at the window, he responds, “Ima gonna huff and puff and blow the house down if you don’t open this door.” The lively, full-color cartoon illustrations are kid-friendly and fun, and the expressive characters paired with the back-and-forth jokes will make for an amusing read-aloud. The urgency of Bear’s friends to enter his cozy winter den is understood in one of the final full-page spreads where a banner reads, “Happy Hibernation,” and a party with full decoration, followed by bedtime stories, is set for Bear. VERDICT Saturated colors, animated characters, and silly jokes will ensure repeated readers. Fans of Karma Wilson’s “Bear” books will enjoy the added jokes in this picture book. An appealing read-aloud choice on hibernation and friendship.–Brianne Colombo, Fairfield Free Public Library, NJ Wilson, Karma. A Dog Named Doug. illus. by Matt Myers. 40p. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442449312. POP PreS-Gr 1 –Doug, the pup with a big goofy doggy grin, loves to dig. He digs for miles and miles in all directions. He makes big holes. He finds all sorts of treasures. He digs his way into the White House and far off lands. Frustrated, Doug’s family scolds him and puts him in the doghouse, where he digs into the house and crawls into bed with his family. Acrylic-and–oil paint illustrations in bright colors with cartoonlike characters complement the variety of ways that Doug explores his obsession. Scenes of underground tunnels studded with whimsical details abound. Illustrations depicting Doug’s head popping up aboveground in new lands offers the opportunity for conversational prompts. Just the right amount of text, sometimes standard typeset and sometimes a creative part of the illustrations make Doug’s adventures immersive. Additionally, the prose contains both tongue-twisty alliterations and cleverly written rhymes. ­VERDICT As a picture book simply about a dog who digs, there is much for readers to see, hear, and take delight in, including an ending with an imaginative twist. All of these elements make this book a standout among goofy dog picture books.–Mindy ­Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services Chapter Books

Cadenhead, MacKenzie & Sean Ryan. Marvel Super Hero Adventures: Sand Trap! illus. by Derek Laufman. 80p. (Super Hero Adventures Chapter Books: Bk. 2). Marvel. Apr. 2018. pap. $4.99. ISBN 9781368005807. POP

Gr 1-3 –Sandman has stolen money from the bank and is hiding out in the sandy playground area of Central Park. The police are having no luck finding him, so it’s up to Spider-Man and Squirrel Girl to battle the villain and keep the children safe. Told in a dozen colorful chapters, this installment features Spider-Man and Squirrel Girl as children themselves, who outwit the despicable adult, Sandman. Strangely, the officers disappear during the heroes’ encounter with the crook but show up again at the end to capture him. The corny puns and wordplay will keep readers chuckling. Readers will be drawn to this highly illustrated tale with familiar characters. VERDICT This action-packed early chapter book about superheroes is sure to be popular.–Gaye Hinchliff, King County Library System, WA

Middle Grade

Heider, Mary Winn. The Mortification of Fovea Munson. 336p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484780541. POP Gr 5-8 –Poor Fovea Munson. Life is hard in seventh grade when your parents own a cadaver lab and your classmates know that your parents work revolves around dead bodies. And it doesn’t help that Fovea is stuck working in the lab this summer because her camp plans fell through. When three thawed heads start talking to Fovea, though, her summer gets a whole lot more interesting. As it turns out, these heads need a hand—and Fovea may be the only one who can help them. Heider’s tale is darkly comic and wholly original. Despite the gruesome premise, this is more comedy than horror. VERDICT Highly recommended for kids who like fantasy, science fiction, and light horror. Destined to be a popular summer reading selection.–Mitchell Berman, Zion-Benton Public Library, IL Shepherd, Kat. Babysitting Nightmares: The Shadow Hand. illus. by Rayanne Vieira. 208p. (Babysitting Nightmares: Bk. 1). Imprint. Jun. 2018. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781250156969. POP Gr 3-6 –Kat Shepherd draws from 1990s kid lit canon in this creepy tale of babysitting gone wrong. Middle-schooler Rebecca Chang and her friends Clio, Maggie, and Tanya love babysitting for their neighbor’s infant son, Kyle. He’s happy and easygoing—that is, until a power outage during a storm alters the child’s personality and creates strange occurrences in his home. After consulting Clio’s Aunt Kawanna, the girls are convinced that Kyle has been replaced by a changeling and they are the only ones who can return the child to his family. The story ends happily, but with the door open for another spine-tingling adventure. Clothing descriptions and scares take precedence over character development, but readers won’t mind; the chills and cliff-hangers are the real attraction here. Vieira’s stylized black-and-white illustrations add to the creep factor without being too graphic or frightening for younger readers, and take care to highlight the cultural diversity found in the friend group. VERDICT Fans of “Goosebumps” and the updated “Baby-Sitters’ Club” graphic novels will find lots to like in this delightfully monstrous mash-up.–Katherine Barr, Cameron Village Regional Library, Raleigh, NC


Albertalli, Becky. Leah on the Offbeat. 368p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062643803. POP

Gr 8 Up –A contemporary high school story of breakups, apologies, and being true to oneself. Leah, high school senior and best friend of Simon Spiers (of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), is looking forward to heading off to college in the fall, but she’ll have to survive her senior year first. When her friend group begins to splinter, Leah isn’t sure where her allegiance lies, especially when she realizes she likes one of her friends as more than just a friend. This relationships-focused novel takes place during the final semester of senior year, leading up to prom night. With a breezy, conversational tone sprinkled with plenty of humor in the midst of the drama, the narrative moves quickly. A diverse cast of well-rounded and flawed characters navigate the difficulties of staying friends after failed romances and high school. Leah’s quirky sense of humor and perfectionist tendencies will endear her to readers who will relate to her strained relationship with her mother and her mother’s new boyfriend. Give to fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love, and Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy. VERDICT A first purchase for public and school libraries.–Jenni Frencham, formerly at Columbus Public Library, WI

Donne, Alexa. Brightly Burning. 400p. HMH. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328948939. POP

Gr 8 UpJane Eyre blasts into outer space. In the far-distant future, volcanic eruptions have caused a new ice age on Earth, forcing the population to flee into space, orbiting the planet on a fleet of starships. Stella Ainsley lives aboard the Stalwart, a struggling food supply ship, where she teaches Earth history and helps in the engineering department; but as her 18th birthday draws closer, so, too, does her permanent job assignment. Stella is desperate to leave the ship before she’s permanently assigned to the engineering department. So, when she’s offered a teaching job on the private ship, the Rochester, she jumps at the chance, but she soon finds that the ship holds many secrets, not the least of which is its handsome and enigmatic captain. Though it initially stumbles to find its footing, Donne’s retelling hews very closely to the source material with a few refreshing updates. The new setting serves the story well, highlighting Stella’s isolation and heightening the eerie sense of claustrophobia when things on the Rochester start to go awry. Another welcome change is the diverse crew of both ships, as well as changes to the character of John, who is no longer the cousin of the protagonist. There are enough similarities that will appeal to fans of the original, but there are also plenty of twists that make it a compelling page-turner. VERDICT This debut will be a hit in libraries where science fiction and romance are popular. Hand this to fans of the original work as well as anyone who enjoys Marissa Meyer’s Cinder.–Mimi Powell, Library Systems and Services, Kissimmee, FL

Maas, Sarah J. Catwoman: Soulstealer. 384p. (DC Icons). Random. Aug. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399549694. POP Gr 9 Up –Selina Kyle is back in Gotham two years after giving up everything to see her sister safely out of the city’s slums. She is no longer the desperate, starving gang member. Now she is Holly Vanderhees: rich, beautiful, and cold. Holly has no sister, no family, no ties. She pretends to enjoy public fundraising galas in the evenings as Holly, while executing high-stakes clandestine heists after hours as Catwoman. She is an undefeated fighter and meticulous schemer. Best-selling Maas expertly brings DC’s classic super-villain to a modern-day Gotham City. The action-packed writing and intricate world-building will both satisfy die-hard Batman fans as well as entice new readers. Maas’s Catwoman has the perfect amount of talent, cunning, and drive to make her a delicious protagonist surrounded by strong, well-known characters like Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Batwing. VERDICT Containing light romance, feminism, and a diverse cast, this is a delightful and welcome addition to the franchise and an solid addition to any library.–Ariel ­Birdoff, New York Public Library

redstarPeñaflor, Lygia Day. All of This Is True. 432p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062673657. POP

Gr 10 Up –In her latest, which cleverly combines multiple perspectives, Peñaflor provides a psychological study in how the shallow and the profound coexist within the human psyche to foster self-deception. The story unfolds in a series of face-to-face interviews, personal journal entries, and excerpts from a newly released novel. High school juniors Soleil, Miri, and Penny provide their personal accounts of events leading up to the savage beating of their friend Jonah, who remains in the hospital in a coma. They also explain how their formerly favorite author’s just-published book tells a remarkably similar story, but with a very different ending. Newly arrived in Long Island, the attractive and mysterious Jonah begins attending the same exclusive private school as the girls. YA author, Fatima Ro, is also new to the area, where she plans to crank out her second book before a fast-approaching deadline. After meeting the four students at a book signing, Fatima takes them under her wing, intimately involving herself in their personal lives, and she enlists the besotted Soleil to discover the reason for Jonah’s secrecy about his past. Taking to the Internet, Soleil uncovers a hazing incident at another school that involved sexual abuse. Even with its addictive, soap opera-esque intrigue, Peñaflor’s characters remain distinct and believable. Deliciously sordid yet thought-provoking, this will be eaten up by teens. VERDICT A must-have for YA collections.–Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary ­Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

redstarPollock, Tom. This Story Is a Lie. 336p. Soho Teen. Aug. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616959111. POP Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Peter Blankman is a math prodigy. Math permeates everything in his life, including helping him deal with his almost-daily panic attacks. Peter survives largely with the support of his brilliant scientist mother; his twin sister, Bel; and his best friend Ingrid. When Peter watches an assassination attempt on his mother and her subsequent kidnapping, and then Bel disappears, a colossal panic attack strikes him down. He is swept up into a shady government conspiracy that revolves around his mom and Bel (and, bizarrely, Ingrid). None of them are anywhere near the people Peter thinks them to be. Whirlwind adventures across the country change Peter’s perceptions of his family, his past, and who he actually is. Gripping, dazzling, and pulse-pounding, Pollock’s YA debut is a thrill from the first page to the last. Peter is supremely amiable; a kid who just wants to be liked and understood and “normal” is painfully hiding behind all of the advanced math and nervousness and panic episodes. Credit should go to Pollock for making all of the hyper-advanced math reader-friendly as well. The final twist is well disguised and truly revelatory. An abrupt, ambiguous conclusion will frustrate some, intrigue others, and have many teens fiercely debating what really happened ­VERDICT A fast-paced STEM thriller, and a worthy choice for YA shelves.–Tyler Hixson, Brooklyn Public Library

Sharma, Nisha. My So-Called Bollywood Life. 304p. Crown. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780553523256. POP

Gr 7 Up –Destiny has played a major role in Winnie’s family her entire life. The pandit who predicted Winnie’s parents’ marriage and her birth also predicted Winnie would meet her soul mate before she turned 18. Raj fits all the requirements offered by the pandit, except Winnie isn’t sure about her feelings. When he starts dating someone new before their senior year, Winnie decides to ignore the prophecy and focus on her goals. But nothing is going the way she wants. The new film club advisor won’t let Winnie oversee the club’s regular activities and their big film festival. Raj has decided he wants her back, but only when Dev, another classmate, shows his interest in her. While Winnie is the main character and her story is the focus, readers get to know the most important people in her life. This romance features a love triangle and a very confident and outspoken protagonist. There are many references to Bollywood and Hollywood films, and the back matter includes an annotated list of all the Bollywood films mentioned along with others the author recommends. VERDICT Purchase where romance flies off the shelves.–Natalie Struecker, Cedar Rapids Public Library, IA

Stone, Tamara Ireland. Little Do We Know. 416p. Disney-Hyperion. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484768211. POP Gr 9 Up –Stone’s latest novel explores how trauma of any kind can change us forever. Hannah and Emory were best friends until a few months ago. The grass between their two houses was their safe haven, but has been abandoned since the morning of a horrible argument. Hannah is questioning her faith in God as Emory is dealing with a hidden secret and the anticipation of having to part from her boyfriend, Luke, at the end of the summer. The teens’ lives collide when Hannah finds Luke in an unresponsive state and Emory is forced to see her. Stone paints a true picture of trauma and its effects on our minds and bodies. The themes of faith, fate, and friendship radiate throughout. Though a few sexual scenes are present, they are short and not overly detailed. Readers who liked Emery Lord’s When We Collided or Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star will take to this serious topic and narrative style. VERDICT A realistic fiction novel for those who enjoy a dramatic romance; a must-have for most YA shelves. –Elizabeth Pelayo, St. Charles East High School, IL Welch, Jenna Evans. Love & Luck. 320p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. May 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534401006. POP Gr 9 Up –A heartwarming contemporary companion novel to Welch’s Love & Gelato. Sixteen-year-old Addie Bennett takes a summer road trip through Ireland with her brother Ian and gains insight on how to heal the pieces of her shattered heart. Readers will cheer that Addie’s best friend, Lina from the previous book, makes an appearance, but this is Addie’s story. Their friendship is tested when a planned trip to visit Lina in Italy is sidetracked, thanks to her brother Ian and a dimpled-faced driver named Rowan. They take an unexpected road trip to the biggest music festival in the country. Through the winding roads and lush greenery of Dublin, Addie reminisces about her romance with Cubby, Ian’s football teammate, and although Ian disapproves of the relationship, he is the only one who knows what Addie is going through. While offering the advice of a travel guide, each chapter is like a reassuring hug in the icy climate. The teens travel through Ireland in a cramped car with a leaking roof, and the trio meets a selection of colorful characters that unknowingly help Addie get through a lost love and increase her respect for her brother—they learn about one another more than they could imagine. Fans of Love & Gelato will enjoy this as Welch takes on love, laughs, friendship, and the Electric Picnic Festival in a trip through the scenic green hills of Ireland. VERDICT Purchase for all teen romance shelves.–Annisha Jeffries, Cleveland Public Library

Graphic Novels

Cliff, Tony. Delilah Dirk and the Pillars of Hercules. illus. by Tony Cliff. 256p. First Second. Aug. 2018. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781626728042. POP Gr 6 Up –In the third installment of this action-packed series, Delilah’s continued adventures with Selim lead her to meet Laurens Van Hassel, a journalist who is convinced there is a hidden city full of treasure awaiting him if only he can find it. He enlists Delilah and Selim to assist him, thus launching a series of Indiana Jones–esque exploits with narrow escapes from death and capture. Selim narrates, and though he rarely voices his opinions to Delilah, he lets readers know about his objections to her schemes. Chaos mounts as people around the world read Van Hassel’s articles and learn of the group’s daring deeds. The use of color perfectly matches the tone of each scene; warm colors are used in action sequences, while the more peaceful scenes in between are illustrated in blues and grays. Compelling writing combined with colorful illustrations makes this a book that is sure to delight. VERDICT Give to fans of Nimona or the “Lumberjanes” series. A first purchase for most libraries.–Jenni Frencham, formerly at Columbus Public Library, WI Siegel, Mark with Alexis Siegel. The Cobalt Prince. illus. by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun. 256p. (5 Worlds: Bk. 2). Random. May 2018. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9781101935897. POP Gr 3-6 –In this tale set on the five worlds of another solar system, Oona is determined to light the second of five beacons in order to save the planets from annihilation, but in order to do so she must face her sister, Jessa, who abandoned her to follow the Cobalt Prince. Her friend An Tzu is still fighting a disease that is slowly causing him to disappear. Everyone Oona meets tells her something different, and she must discover the truth among all the lies as she attempts to save her planet before it is lost forever. Those who have read the previous installment will enjoy this second volume far more than those who haven’t. However, newcomers will still understand the story line. The artwork is full of action, and readers will need to pay close attention to small background details that will later become important. Each location is depicted with a unique palette that also matches the mood of the narrative at that moment. Richly rendered settings await lovers of sci-fi world-building, and there is plenty of adventure as truths are uncovered. ­VERDICT Purchase where the series is popular, and give to fans of Judd Winick’s “Hi-Lo” or Kazu Kibuishi’s “Amulet” series.–Jenni Frencham, formerly at ­Columbus Public Library, WI


Einhorn, Kama. Sweet Senior Pups. photos by Virgil Ocampo. 144p. (True Tales of Rescue). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. HMH. Nov. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781328767035. POP

Gr 2-5 –Narrated by Mino, a 15-year-old blind Pomeranian that lives at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland, this title is a love poem to senior dogs and the animal sanctuaries that care for them. Mino shares his history as a lost and then rescued dog, explains how senior dogs are “sugarfaces” (their white muzzles look like they are dipped in sugar), and life at the shelter. Mino’s roommates—Buffy, a 12-year-old miniature pinscher and Jack, a 14-year-old poodle—act as co-storytellers and each are given their own chapter. Mino carefully explains how to care for, feed, and love older dogs; the tone is a bit sentimental but there are enough realistic details included to pique more inquisitive readers. The text covers forever homes and even death in a entry called “Rainbow Bridge.” Volunteers at the sanctuary as well as adoptive families are featured with lots of personal stories and photos. While much of this title might seem a little precious, the book incorporates a lot of salient information regarding animal health care, including food and toy suggestions as well as how to support local shelters. VERDICT Dog lovers (maybe even cat ­lovers) will enjoy this entry in the series.–Susan ­Lissim, Dwight School, New York City

Einhorn, Kama. Welcome, Wombat. photos by Phil Melzer, Donna Stepan, & Jacky Ling. 160p. (True Tales of Rescue). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. HMH. Nov. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781328767028. POP Gr 2-5 –This nonfiction work is framed as a book of advice for a young arrival at Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary from one of the older residents. Chance, the voice of experience, explains why the sanctuary is necessary and how the wombats are slowly prepared to return to the wild and live on their own. Along the way, he shares plentiful information about wombats, their stages of development, and human impact on their habitats. Chance’s audience is an infant wombat, and the wording is simple and direct, making it perfect for elementary-age readers. The book is also packed with color photos of various wombats from the sanctuary and sidebars on topics like “Burrow Basics” and “Wombat Combat.” Back matter includes a letter from the author, ideas for how to help wombats, and even a quick guide on “How To Speak Aussie.” After all, readers may need to know that “chucking a tanty” means throwing a tantrum. The combination of captivating photos and the humorous narration make the material very approachable and entertaining, even as it informs. VERDICT Perfect for middle grade fans of narrative or creative nonfiction, those researching marsupials, and readers interested in animal sanctuaries and rescue efforts.–Suzanne Costner, Fairview ­Elementary School, Maryville, TN

redstarHesselberth, Joyce. Mapping Sam. illus. by Joyce Hesselberth. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Oct. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062741226. POP

PreS-Gr 3 –Once Sam the cat makes sure her family is asleep, she sets out to explore the neighborhood. Hesselberth uses this conceit to build a playful yet informative narrative based around cartography. First readers explore an neighborhood map of the feline’s initial travels before embarking on a journey that will take them to the edge of the universe and back. Hesselberth’s maps range widely, from diagrams of Sam’s anatomy, a plant, and a water molecule to charts of planets and stars to architectural drawings. Some common cartography terms like compass rose and legend are defined. The spare text emphasizes ways readers can find patterns and relationships in their surroundings and the artwork—done in watercolor, acrylic paint, gouache, and digital collage—presents this information visually. Hesselberth’s Sam is perfectly catlike as her expressions shift among bemusement, curiosity, and sass. Additional context about each type of map is provided at the end of the book. These thumbnails will prove useful for ­older readers or adults working with beginners. Librarians will also want to seek out Julie Dillemuth’s Mapping My Day and Loreen Leedy’s Mapping Penny’s World to extend conversations on this subject. VERDICT­ An eye-catching introduction to maps, charts, and diagrams for the youngest of cartographers.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University Library, Mankato

Keating, Jess. Cute as an Axolotl: Discovering the World’s Most Adorable Animals. illus. by David DeGrand. 48p. glossary. photos. Knopf. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524764470. POP Gr 3-5 –Whether a creature looks like an unusual tadpole with feathery headgear (the axolotl) or an adorable miniature penguin (the 12-inch fairy penguin), readers will enjoy learning about these animals from around the world. This title has a lot of visual appeal for curious students—large photographs and cartoon graphics fill the pages. Readers might be learning about some animals like the furry little quokka from Western Australia for the first time. The author includes a page near the end called “The Science of Cute,” which provides more information on how this all plays out in nature. (“Believe it or not, cuteness could be a survival strategy.”) While the topic might seem lighthearted, there is enough scientific information woven into the text. Facts given about each animal include the species’ name, size, diet, habitat, and predators and other threats. There is also a glossary at the back with terms like diurnal. VERDICT A home run for public and school libraries. The subject matter, the format, and visual components make this a title that is likely to see a lot of circulation.–Robin Sofge, Prince William Public Library System, VA

Sutton, Patricia. Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster. 176p. bibliog. diag. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. Chicago Review. Jul. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781613739433. POP

Gr 5-8 –When the SS Eastland capsized in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, 844 people lost their lives. This is a higher number than those killed in the sinking of the Titanic and is still the largest loss of life on the Great Lakes. Sutton takes readers through a detailed time line that follows several of the people who were onboard that day. The book has a large cast of characters; fortunately, there is a list at the beginning to assist readers. Not all of those profiled survived, but the text handles the deaths with a matter-of-fact grace. The information is presented in a factual manner, diffusing some of the feelings of horror that might be associated with the tragedy. Filled with photographs, documents, and diagrams, this title is a very thorough account of the disaster, and all of the dialogue is from reliable sources. VERDICT Libraries that serve students fascinated with the Titanic or Ruta Sepetys’s Salt to the Sea will want to add this book to their collections.–V. Lynn Christiansen, Wiley International Studies Magnet Elementary School, Raleigh, NC

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