Tuesday, December 10, 2019

MOTH: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas. Illus. by Daniel Egneus.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.  48p.  ISBN 978-1547600205 hc. $18.99     Gr. 2-5    JNF 595.78

The peppered moth, scientifically known as, biston betularia, can be found in light form, with mottled black and white wings that provide camouflage against tree bark, and those in dark form which are essentially black.  The black moths were easy to spot and became easy prey for bats and birds.  Over time, the Industrial Revolution deposited soot and pollution on the trees, making them darker in color.  As the trees changed color, the black moths were able to hide from predators and became the more dominant color of the moths.  After even more time, the factories cleaned up their pollution, the trees shed their dark bark, and the light form of peppered moth again began to increase in number .  Even though the title refers to "A Story of Evolution," the story and it's informational background emphasize that natural selection is the process that leads to evolution, which leads to adaptation of a species to better survive its surroundings.  This books is very easy to understand and wraps up with an adaptation of its own beginning sentence.  MOTH also features an eye-catching, reflective cover and is filled with magnificent illustrations that capture your thoughts, even after you finish reading.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

CROC & TURTLE: SNOW FUN by Mike Wohnoutka.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-168119637-4 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr.1     E PIC

First of all, who can resist the big bubble eyes on Croc and Turtle?  The art, with it's muted gouache backgrounds, draws the reader's eye to the brightly colored action of two good friends who just happen to be a turtle and a crocodile.  As they meet for a fun-filled day, the friends have lists of activities to do.  That sounds good, until they realize that all Turtle's activities are for indoors and Croc's are for outdoors.  Determined to complete both lists, Croc soon declares boredom with indoor activities and Turtle says, "...outside is too cold and too dangerous!"  They try to spend the day by themselves, but become lonesome for each other.  Using all their ingenuity, Croc and Turtle come up with a surprising solution to combine their very different preferences.  Their commitment to work together is a tribute to friendship.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

DARK SKY RISING: Reconstruction and The Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Tonya Bolden.  New York:  Scholastic Focus, 2019.  225p.  ISBN 978-133826204-9 hc. $19.99     Gr. 5-8     JUV NF  973

Gates and Bolden lead readers through ten chapters of Civil War history, beginning with the politics of a country split along state lines by those in support of slavery and those opposed to the ownership of fellow human beings.  Although the abolitionist states in the north officially won the Civil War, anti-slavery laws were not enforced in the south.  The attitudes of white people in the south were also slow to change, enabling the enactment of laws to prevent black voters from casting ballots; thus, shutting them out of government.  The Ku Klux Klan, a group of white racists who killed and terrorized black citizens, was formed as an underground organization, but often performed unlawful acts with consent of law enforcement agencies.  Despite this open aggression, black leaders such as Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois emerged to voice their concerns about the status of blacks in America.  The extensive research carried out by Gates and Bolden covers the years 1862 to 1915, including historic photographs and drawings throughout.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ILLEGAL by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc. 2018. 122p. ISBN 978-149266214-3 hb. $19.99     Gr. 7-12  YA Graphic

Step into this harrowing tale of twelve-year-old Ebo’s journey from his poverty stricken village in Ghana to find his family.  The story flips back and forth between present day and two years ago when Ebo left his village to catch up to his brother, who was looking for their sister, who was on her way to Europe.  The flashbacks track the brothers north across the arid terrain of the Sahara Desert in Africa amid dangerous confrontations with police, soldiers, and dishonest guides.  The journey taking place in present day is the last leg of the journey across the water, presumably the Mediterranean Sea.   Ebo and his brother, Kwame, start out on a raft, get picked up by a freighter, and use their problem solving skills to stay out of harm’s way.  Ebo is full of optimism and readily shares his gift of song, despite the hardships he’s faced on this arduous trek.  As readers share the injustice, heartbreak, and physical challenges faced by Ebo and Kwame, they cannot help but feel empathy for all who are forced from their homes into unfamiliar surroundings and dangerous situations.  The graphic novel style of storytelling highlights the plight of immigrants with its unforgettable images.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS by Bill Konigsberg. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019.  ISBN 978-1338215502 hc. $17.99   Gr. 8-12     YA FIC

Konigsberg explores a new world of social acceptance for a same-sex relationship, while, at the same time, adding a sequence of secrets that could destroy a new romance before it has a chance to materialize.  Max meets Jordan at his deceased father’s food truck.  Jordan’s mom has been extremely depressed and can’t cope with the demands of a job. Worse than that, she’s been gambling and their house is in jeopardy of being repossessed.  Max steps in and works with Jordan to make the food truck profitable.  His secret is more difficult for him to reveal, but has a great message for high school students who are dating.  When someone says, "No," what does it mean?
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN by June Sobel. Illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith.   New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328-618405 hc. $17.99      PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

If you enjoyed reading THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN (2006) and THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN ROLLS ON! (2018), you will want to find a copy of the newest Christmas Eve edition.  The train conductor once again rounds up the excited passengers, who are treated to sightings of Santa's sleigh and reindeer as they pass through a village of gingerbread houses.  After reaching their North Pole destination, the goodnight train returns the sleepy children back to their homes.  The rhyming story is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations in bright colors that make readers want to ride the train themselves.  Sweet dreams!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

THE OPPOSIE OF ALWAYS by Justin Reynolds. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2019. 457p. ISBN 978-006274837-9 hc. $17.99    Gr. 8-12    Y.A. FIC

The first chapter gives readers a glimpse of Jack’s life, which revolves around his lifelong best friends, Jillian and Franny, and his new love interest, Kate.  Unfortunately, Kate has sickle cell anemia and dies shortly after they meet.  Jack’s story evolves into a time loop beginning on the day Jack meets Kate.  He tries to find ways to save her, while lying to friends and family, gambling with information from the future, and meddling in family affairs he shouldn’t - then starting the scenario all over again.  He even refers to the movie "Ground Hog Day," in which actor Bill Murray wakes up every morning and tries to redo his routine, until he learns valuable life lessons.  Essentially, Jack does the same in a new, fresh setting for teens.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI