Tuesday, February 20, 2018

FAR FROM THE TREE by Robin Benway.  New York:  HarperTeen, 2017.  374p.  ISBN: 978006-233062-8 hc. $17.99     Gr.9-12     YA FIC

Instead of attending the homecoming dance with her boyfriend, sixteen year-old Grace finds herself giving birth to a baby girl who will be up for adoption.  Grace chose the family, but questions how the baby will feel when she realizes her biological mom couldn't keep her.  Grace was adopted, and has those questions every day.  She needs to find the woman who gave her away.  Thus begins the tale of three adopted siblings, Grace, Maya, and Joaquin, who find each other with the help of their very supportive adoptive parents.  Maya's parents had a baby after adopting her, leaving her feeling like an outsider, even though she knows they love her.  Joaquin's parents want to adopt him, but he feels unworthy because of his childhood spent in foster homes.  All three have a missing piece in their lives, and decide to find their bio mom.  What they find is a way to leave their hurt behind and allow themselves to build new relationships with the people they love. Three vibrant characters tell the story through their own perspectives.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Mitali Perkins.  New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.  303p.  ISBN 978-037430490-4 hc. $17.99    Gr. 8-12     Y.A. FIC


The story begins in the 1970's as two sisters who have lived in three different countries learn to become American.  Ethnically Bengali, they are upwardly mobile and defined by their father's job.  Tara, the older sister, is obedient and adheres to cultural tradition, but Sonia questions everything that makes her different from her American peers.  She crosses the line when she falls in love with a boy from Harlem who does not fit the mold that her traditional mother envisions.  Through their stories, the history of Ranee, their mother, unfolds to reveal a love story of her own.  Fast forward to the  third generation in America - the daughters of Tara and Sonia, who know their parents and grandmother very well, are totally modern American teens, and strive to blend the Bengali traditions of the past with their very American families.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

OLDER THAN DIRT by Don Brown & Dr. Mike Perfit.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.  104p.  ISBN 978-054480503-3 hc. $18.99   Gr. 4-6    J Graphic Novel

This self-described "kind-sorta biography of earth" is a conversation between a groundhog and a worm who meet up when groundhog digs a hole near worm's tunnel.  They begin to talk about dirt, the earth, and how the planet was formed 14 trillion years ago.  One thing leads to another, and they're soon discussing the earth's core, volcanos, tectonic formations, weather, and living organisms.  The "biography" follows a geologic timeline from the big bang to present day and ends with graphics of the Geologic Eras, a 24-Hour Earth Clock, and a map of tectonic plates which clarify the scientific information in the book.  Don Brown's unique style of pairing graphic illustration with nonfiction stories, such as GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL and DROWNED CITY, makes history (and now geology) come to life.  Dr. Perfit, a geologist from the University of Florida, served as technical writer on this project. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  49855

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS by Kara Lareau.  Illus. by Matt Myers.  Somerville, MA:  Candlewick Press, 2016.  ISBN 978-076367636-0 hc. $14.99     Gr. 1-3      J Intermediate Reader

Louie and Ralphie Ratso are tough - just like their dad, Big Lou.  Nobody messes with them because they're as tough as their reputation.  However, things aren't working out for the Ratsos.  Every time they try to pull a trick on someone, it unintentionally turns out to be a good deed.  When they steal a hat from the class bully, it turns out he had stolen it from Tiny, the smallest kid in class, making them instant heroes.  When they soap the windows of Mrs. Porcupini's apartment, she has them hose off the soap and thanks them for the cleanest windows in town.  Their dad finds out about their string of good deeds and surprises them with his anything-but-tough reaction.  Myers' artwork earned a 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award for the Ratso series which continues with "The Infamous Ratso Are Not Afraid" (2017).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

BIG MACHINES: The Story of Virginia Lee Burton by Sherri Duskey Rinker.  Illus. by John Rocco.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-054471557-8 hc. $17.99   Gr. 1-3     J 921

Rinker's picture book biography of the award-winning author/illustrator, Virginia Lee Burton, focuses on how Burton used her artistic training to create pictures of big machines for her sons.  For Aris, she created a steam engine train, followed by a steam shovel for Michael, along with the stories "Choo Choo" and "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel."  Over the years, she also wrote and illustrated two more books about big machines, "Katy and the Big Snow" and "Maybelle the Cable Car."  Burton won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for "The Little House," a structure that was built in the country, became shabby as it was swallowed up by urban construction, and was finally fixed up and moved back to the countryside.  These books have been classic children's literature for the past 70 years, thanks to the artist to created memorable books about machines found in the places where she worked and lived.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

CLAYTON BYRD GOES UNDERGROUND by Rita Williams-Garcia. New York:  HarperCollins, 2017.  166p.  ISBN 978-006221591-8 hc. $16.99      Gr. 4-6      JUV FIC


Clayton loves to play the blues harp with his grandfather, Cool Papa.  He's practicing until he can play a solo with the Bluesmen, Cool Papa's group.  Before he reaches that goal, Cool Papa dies and Clayton's mother makes an executive decision to sell all his grandfather's music, guitars, and signature hat at a yard sale....things that should have been given to Clayton.  She had issues growing up with her father, and doesn't understand how important he was to Clayton.  In desperation to pay tribute to his grandfather, Clayton re-traces the train ride to the city they used to take together to play with the Bluesmen.  The adventure leads to trouble when Clayton runs into a street gang that dances on the subway for money.  When the law gets involved, Clayton is forced to talk to his mother and find the words that express his grief over losing Cool Papa.  Sometimes grownups forget how much children are affected by family events.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

THE DAY I RAN AWAY by Holly L. Niner.  Illus. by Isabella Ongaro.  New York: Flashlight Press, 2017.  ISBN 978-1936261-895 hc. $17.95     PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

The diminutive main character, a young girl who stays at home with her mother, was recalling her day with her father before bedtime.  The day began poorly as her favorite shirt was dirty and her favorite cereal was unavailable.  As the day progressed, she tried to solve her problems.  For instance, she used a purple marker to make her white shirt purple, but her mother was not pleased and she ended up in more trouble.  Finally, she decided to gather her things and run away from home.  Her mother helped.  By the end of the day, she had a play tent in the backyard and her favorite meal for supper.  It turned out to be a good day after all.  The parents in this story are great role models for any age reader.

NO MORE NOISY NIGHTS by Holly L. Niner. Illus. by Guy Wolek.  New York: Flashlight Press, 2017.  ISBN 978-1036261-932 hc. $17.95      PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

Jackson worked hard all day long moving into his new mole hole underground.  By the way, the cut-away illustrations by Wolek are the best!   As Jackson tucked into bed for a good night's rest, loud noises from the attic kept him awake.  The ghost in the attic said he had nothing else to do all night, so Jackson left him a puzzle to keep him busy.  The next night, a monster in the basement acted out, so Jackson left him a train set to occupy his time.  The third night, a pixie in the piano plunked random notes to interrupt his sleep, so he left her some sheet music of soothing lullabies.  With his kindness, Jackson made new friends and brought peace to his home.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI