Monday, July 6, 2020

FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  New York: Dial Books, 2020. ISBN 978-1984815682 hc. $17.99    Gr. 5-8     JUV

Della is just ten, but she’s experienced more than any child should in a lifetime.  She and her teenage sister, Suki, have been living with her mom’s boyfriend, Clifton, ever since her mom was sent to prison for cooking meth.  Their living situation went from bad to worse when a drunk Clifton tried to abuse Della before Suki got home and used her phone to document the situation.  Then they ran!  That’s where this story begins.  Della is back in school, where she’s always in trouble because she has a limited vocabulary of curse words, but those are the ones she likes to use.  Suki is still trying to protect Della from harm and the foster care system, but she’s also trying to hold down a job and go to school.  The sisters don’t trust anyone, especially Francine, their by-the-book foster parent, who will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them.  As Della makes progress navigating the classroom and school routines, Suki is beginning to crumble emotionally and attempts suicide.  Della begins to realize what kind of sacrifices Suki made to keep her safe from Clifton.  Will they be able to trust Francine enough to get the help they both need to recover from unspeakable trauma?  Although the author tackles the issues of sexual abuse and suicide, the story ends in a place of hope and is appropriate for middle school readers.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

PRAIRIE LOTUS by Linda Sue Park.  New York: Clarion Books, 2020.  261p.  ISBN 978-132878150-5 hc. $16.99     Gr. 6-8    JUV FIC

After a three-year wagon ride from California, Hanna and her father arrived in LaForge, a small railroad town in the Dakota Territory, to build a dry goods store.   Hanna’s Chinese/Korean mother was a seamstress before she died, and instilled the same dreams in her daughter.   But before she tries to convince her father that she’s capable of making dresses for the townswomen, Hanna wants to go to school.  The teacher accepts her ethnicity well, but the parents begin to keep their children home, rather than have them exposed to a non-white student.  Luckily, the Harris family has already befriended Hanna and her father, and continue to support them with schooling and building the business.  Hanna also has interactions with Ihanktowan women, who teach her how to harvest and cook prairie turnips.  Racism runs deep in this historical fiction from 1880, that reminds readers of Laura Ingalls’ “Little House on the Prairie” books.  The author leaves a personal note that recognizes discrimination in the original books, but also acknowledges the historical value of the stories.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

A DOUBLE REVIEW!

MAE AMONG THE STARS by Roda Ahmed.  Illus by Stasia Burrington. New York:  Harper, 2018. 38p. ISBBN: 978-006265173-0 hc. $17.99    PreS-Gr. 3    E PIC

This historical fiction relates Mae's dream, as a young child, to become an astronaut.  She wants to see Earth from outer space.  With her parents; encouragement, she learns all she can about space and astronauts.  Mae shares her dream with everyone she meets.  However, her teacher devastates Mae by telling her she would be a good nurse instead of an astronaut.  Only in the end notes does the reader learn that Nae is Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Afican American female astronaut.  A wonderful read about big dreams and pursuing them.

Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

N MERRIAM SMITH'S RACE TO COMPLETE AMELIA EARHART'S QUEST by Aimee Bissonette Illus. by Doris Ettlinger.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2018.  32p.  ISBN: 978-158536381-0 hc. $16.99  Gr. 1-4    J 629.13

Jerrie Mock decided to become a pilot after her first airplane ride at the age of 7.  Joan Merriam Smith was 15 years old when she made the same decision, receiving her pilot's license before she could drive a car.  In later years, both ladies independently made the decision to fly around the world to complete Amelia Earhart's quest.  Neither of them knew about the other's plans.  Just a few weeks before they took off, the news broke.  They both decided to take off at the same time, and the news media turned it into a race.  This is a great story about the trials and tribulations they experienced as the first two women to fly around the world.

Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Monday, June 15, 2020


HAVENFALL by Sara Holland. New York: Bloomsbury YA, 2020. 305p. ISBN 978-154760579-2 hc. $18.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

As Maddie Morrow leaves the bus depot in Denver, Colorado, she heads for Havenfall, a remote resort in the mountains that her family has visited each summer as long as she can remember.  The innkeeper is her uncle Marcus, and Maddie is next-in-line to learn the role of innkeeper, hopefully this summer.   Havenfall is draped in magic, with underground tunnels acting as crossroads between the realms of Byrn, Fiordenkill and Solaria.  Once at war with each other, the worlds come together for a peace summit each summer – except for Solaria.  Their door has been sealed to keep shape-shifting Solarians away from Havenfall.  Maddie arrives to find her uncle injured, thrusting her into the role of interim innkeeper.  Now it’s time to find out who she can trust among a long list of Havenfall guests, including Graylin, her uncle’s partner; the Heiress from Fiordenkill; Willow, chief of staff at Havenfall; and the Silver Prince of Byrn.  Adding to the list of characters, Maddie is intrigued by Taya, a mysterious new employee at the inn, who keeps turning up where she shouldn’t be.  After a long-awaited romantic evening with Brekken, her childhood friend who has become more intimate, Maddie questions why he seems to have disappeared with her set of keys to the inn.  As her contemporary world blends with the realms of fantasy, the story deepens with twists and turns and more questions than answers.  Holland has crafted a complex story that could easily (and hopefully) become a series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 8, 2020


WHERE LILY ISN’T by Julie Paschkis.  Illus. by Margaret Chodos-Irvine.  New York:  Henry Holt & Co., 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-125018425-2 hc. $17.99     PreS – Gr. 2     E PIC

A simple story of loss is told through the eyes of a young girl who misses her dog, Lily.  The relationship between an active dog and loving owner is established early on, before readers experience the loss of Lily.  Lily doesn’t sleep by the bed, bark at the mailman, or go for walks anymore.  The sense of loss is deeply felt on every page.  However, Lily’s memory lives on in the hearts of those who lived with her, as all pet owners know.  The illustrations are stark and colorful, focusing on Lily’s absence by placing text where she would be in the picture.  Page design also includes sentences broken up into individual words superimposed on elements of the illustration for emphasis. This eye-catching book is a must for any child experiencing the loss of a pet. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 1, 2020

BOXITECTS by Kim Smith. New York: Clarion Books, 2020. 32p. ISBN 978-132847720-0 hc. $17.99     PreS-Gr. 2     E PIC

Meg was a builder.  She used cardboard boxes and her imagination to construct things large and small.  Her whole classroom was filled with builders who used other kinds of construction materials, such as egg cartons, tin foil, paper, and pasta.  Meg found a niche in her classroom as a boxitect and strived to be a better builder each day.  Her world began to crack when Simone, who was also a talented boxitect, joined the classroom.  Instead of working together, they argued and competed with each other, which ultimately resulted in failure for both.  After ruining their projects, they had a change of heart and decided to work together, learn from each other, and let their imaginations run free.  The final four pages provide step-by-step directions on making playtime structures from cardboard boxes. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, May 25, 2020

ALMOST TIME by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. New York: Clarion Books, 2020. 32p.  ISBN 978-0544785816 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

Where there are sugar maple trees, there's potential for maple syrup!  Ethan noticed that his family's supply of syrup was gone because his Sunday breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup had been abruptly switched to alternate breakfast foods.  He also knew the routine for making maple syrup.  When spring days are warm and the nights are still cold, sap runs through the trees and it's time to tap them.  Then the sap is boiled down into sweet maple syrup, a process which is brilliantly illustrated in two pages of panels.  But this story is really about waiting for the weather to warm up; waiting for longer days and shorter nights; and waiting for the reward of maple syrup.  During this long period of waiting, Ethan noticed that he had a loose tooth - another process not to be rushed.  Young readers will relate to the experience of waiting for good things to happen.  Ethan found that his patience paid off when he finally lost his tooth and once again enjoyed his favorite breakfast.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI