Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ARMSTRONG & CHARLIE by Steven B. Frank.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.  298p. ISBN: 9780544826083 hc. $16.99     Gr. 5-9     J FIC

The boys meet when Armstrong's parents enroll him in Opportunity Busing to Charlie's school for a voluntary integration program.  Suspicions and conflicts during their sixth grade year eventually shift to understanding and friendship, not only with the boys, but with their families and friends.  Though set during turbulent times in the 1970's, the novel is very accessible to preteen readers.  The wording is such that it could very well be set in the present day.
Janet Edwards, Library Aide, Bothwell Middle School Library, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

PANDORA by Victoria Turnbull. Illus. by author. New York: Clarion Books, 2017. 32p. ISBN 978-0544-947337 hc. $16.99     Gr. K-3     E PIC
Pandora, a personified fox, lived alone in a house furnished with restored items she found in the trash heaps that surrounded her house. One day a bird landed on the trash pile with a broken wing.  Pandora wasn't sure how to repair a living item, but she slowly nursed the bird back to health. After constructing a beautiful nest from twigs and flowers, the bird flew off into the sky, leaving Pandora alone once again.  Surrendering to overwhelming sadness, Pandora didn't notice the various plants growing from seeds in the bird nest, creating ground cover for the endless trash heaps around her house.  The new growth attracted living creatures - new friends in a new world for Pandora. Turnbull's watercolor illustrations are detailed and beautiful, enhancing the storytelling experience.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

MAE AND JUNE AND THE WONDER WHEEL by Charise Mericle Harper. Illus. by Ashley Spires.  New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2017. 120p.  ISBN 978-0-544-630635 hc. $15.99    Grades 1-3    J FIC

The first installment in this new chapter book series introduces readers to June and her family, which includes Sammy, a talking dog that only June can hear, older sister Isabella, and her supportive parents.  June's criteria for good friends is that they be "Fun! Friendly! Full of Adventure!"  Not everyone fits into that job description, until Mae and her family move in across the street.  Mae and June try to cultivate a friendship, amid challenges at school and with family, but end up ready to be best friends for a long time to come.  The large print, short chapters, and Spires' cartoon-like illustrations throughout the book make pleasant reading for early elementary students. Harper also wrote the JUST GRACE series for a similar audience of young readers.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MEMOIRS OF A PARROT by Devin Scillian. Illus. by Tim Bowers.  Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2016.  32p.  ISBN 978-1-58536962-1 hc. $16.99     Gr. K-3     E PIC
Day One - Brock reveals the inner thoughts of a parrot living in Wilbur's Pet Shop.  This opinionated parrot prefers the company of the other animals in the shop to the strange people who try to coax a few words from him.  Six days later, he's been sold to Todd, a ukulele playing young man who names him "Echo" and attempts to teach him to talk.  Readers catch on that the parrot already knows how to talk and has an abundance of sarcastic wit.  On the positive side, Todd is generous with crackers for his parrot who promptly drops them into the toaster for a crispy treat.  Todd and "Echo" don't hit it off at first, until a cracker starts to burn inside the toaster, creating clouds of smoke. Quick action on the parts of Todd and his beloved pet save the day and ignite the flame of mutual respect.   Tim Bowers' large colorful illustrations add another dimension to the story, especially the distinct facial expressions of animals and humans alike.  This is the fourth in a series of books by Scillian and Bowers - "Memoirs of a Goldfish" (2010), "Memoirs of a Hamster" (2013), and "Memoirs of an Elf" (2014).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON by Linda Williams Jackson. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 308p. ISBN 978 0544 785106 hc.$16.99   Gr. 5-8    JUV FIC

Rose Lee Carter works around the house and in the fields of her grandparents who are sharecroppers on a Mississippi cotton plantation.  She knows her place in the world is at the bottom rung of every ladder that life has to offer.  Her mother deserted her for a new husband and his children.  Her grandmother, Ma Pearl, favors her light-skinned cousin over her and expects Rose to work hard enough for both of them.  She has an escape at school, where she's an exceptional student, until Ma Pearl threatens to put an end to that also.  On the bright side, Rose has a friend in the preacher's son, Hallelujah, who keeps her apprised of civil rights violations by white families in the state and the activists who are trying to let colored men vote without being killed for their efforts.  There's a lot of history woven into this story of family and community relationships in the deep south of 1955, including the infamous trial and acquittal of the men who killed Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman.  Rose uncovers some family secrets toward the end of the story and finds the courage to shape her own future.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WHERE ARE YOU GOING, BABY LINCOLN by Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, 2016. 112p. ISBN 9780763673116 hb. $14.99    Gr. 2-3   JUV FIC

When Lucille Lincoln, a.k.a. Baby, begins to feel confined by her life, she takes a "necessary journey" to seek something different.  Her life is run by her older sister, Eugenia, who makes lists of goals for each day, doesn't smile, and never reads the comics page of the newspaper because silliness is a waste of time.  Don't be fooled by Baby's name.  The book's cover gives a hint that Baby is really quite mature.  Baby's adventure begins on the train as she meets several people along the way.  She soon finds out that there's a wider range of acceptable behavior than that allowed by her sister, and gains confidence in her own talents, all through the power of conversation.  When Baby reaches the end of her train ride, she feels apprehensive and alone, until she spots none other than Eugenia on the platform waiting to take her back home.  Baby's life improved after her "necessary journey" because she added her own preferences to those of her sister's, making allowances for both personalities.  The message of this gentle story is that it's never too late to make positive changes in your life.  This is the third book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 49855

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ROBINS! How They Grow Up by Eileen Christelow. New York: Clarion Books, 2017. 48p.  ISBN 9780544442894 hc. $16.99    Gr. 1-3    E PIC

Find out everything about Michigan's state bird, the robin, in just 48 fact-filled pages.  Christelow tells readers the habits and instincts of this beloved bird whose appearance signals the first sign of spring.  Who knew that their annoying habit of building nests under the porch roof was intentional to shelter their early spring babies before the trees have leaves? The realistic illustrations are set in blocks to simulate action on the page, making the story quite exciting when danger is near.  Two of the original robins from the story add their conversational comments in speech bubbles at the bottom of the page.  In addition to the factual information within the story, there's a glossary in the back and a list of more information about robins.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI