Tuesday, July 10, 2018

THERE'S A TIGER IN THE GARDEN by Lizzy Stewart.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. 32p.  ISBN 978-132879183-2 hc. $17.99   PreS - Gr.2   E PIC

What happens when Nora tells her Grandmother that she and her stuffed giraffe, Jeff, are bored with indoor activities?  You guessed right - it's time to play outside in the garden where her grandmother swears she saw a tiger that morning.  Highly doubtful about the existence of a tiger, Nora follows a dragonfly down a path where she meets man-eating plants, a polar bear, and the elusive tiger.  Now that Nora's imagination has taken hold, Grandmother's house holds many more opportunities for adventure.  This book was written in England, where the backyard is traditionally more of a garden than a lawn, but a sense of adventure is universal.  The text alone tells a good tale, but the illustrations add another layer of story which will delight readers young and old.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

PHOTOGRAPHIC: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero.  Illus.by  Zeke Pena.  Los Angeles, CA:  Getty Publications, 2018.  96p.  ISBN 978-194744000-5 hc. $19.95  Gr. 7-12  YA NF

This creative biography is formatted as a graphic novel and will appeal to teens.  The book begins by introducing Graciela's philosophy about photography, which captures the stark reality of life in black and white.  Her interest in photography was encouraged by her father, an amateur photographer who bought her a Brownie camera.  After rejecting the traditional life of Mexican wife and mother in favor of her passion for photography, she became an apprentice to established photographer, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, and explored the Mexican countryside.  She became obsessed with photos of birds and with death, then moved on to document immigrant communities in the United States and pictorial studies of various villages in her native Mexico.  Her work resides in art galleries across the U.S.  Illustrator Zeke Pena incorporates 24 black and white photos from Graciela's collection with his black and white graphics, sometimes placing a line drawing next to the original photo for visual impact.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Saturday, June 30, 2018

THE LANGUAGE OF STARS by Louise Howes.  New York:  Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016.  356p.  ISBN: 978-481462419 hc. $17.99   Gr. 9-12   YA FIC

Sarah finds herself at a "beginning of summer" party, thrown by her boyfriend, Fry, the most popular boy in school.  The party is at the most famous location in town, the cottage of Rufus Baylor, a famous poet.  When the cottage is destroyed, the teens are charged with manually repairing the cottage and attending a class on poetry appreciation - taught by Rufus himself.  Sarah learns a lot about herself, her family, and what is important in her life, during the weeks that she attends class and completes her community service.  Sarah is a very relatable character, revealing a mixture of teen priorities and self-growth.
Melissa Coyne, Reader, Munising Public Library

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

More reviews from previously published books...2015 to be exact.

THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord.  New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015. 373p.  ISBN: 978-1-61963-359-9 hc. $17.99     Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Paige is trying to recover from the loss of her boyfriend, Ryan, and regain a sense of normalcy that she hasn't had for the past year. She decides to make a PLAN for a normal life, just like she plans everything else in her life, from outfits to studying. However, Ryan's cousin, Max, moves back to town and his presence in her life throws all of her plans out the window. Can she get back to a normal life with all of the changes that come along with her friendship with Max?  Can you restart your life after an unforeseen tragedy changes everything?
Melissa Coyne, Reader, Munising Public Library

THERE WILL BE LIES by Nick Lake.  New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015.  454p.  ISBN: 978-1-61963-440-4 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Shelby Cooper is a 17 year-old with a rather normal, if somewhat quirky, life. Her mother has some unusual rules for her. When she is hit by a car outside the library, her whole life changes. Her mother packs them up and takes them on a "vacation", which raises many questions in Shelby's mind. Will Shelby ever get the truth from her mother?  Plot twists and and turns keep readers guessing about what will happen next.
Melissa Coyne, Reader, Munising Public Library

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds.  New York: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2017. 320p.  ISBN 978-1481438254 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12  YA FIC
This impactful story is written in verse to make it truly accessible to avid readers and occasional readers, alike.  The message is that important.  Readers are introduced to fifteen-year-old Will whose older brother has just been shot in the street.  Will doesn’t run with a gang, has never held a gun, but knows the rules….“No crying.  No snitching.  Revenge.”  Almost instinctively, he searches his dead brother’s room for the gun he knows is there and heads for the elevator to do what he feels he must do next.  In his haste to descend from his seventh floor apartment, Will’s elevator slowly stops at each floor to let on a new passenger.  Each new passenger on the elevator is a person from Will’s past.  Each one is a victim of gun violence.  They all have stories that clarify and tie into Will’s life story, letting him see the larger picture of choices, actions and consequences.  The simple technology of the elevator provides the perfect vehicle for this open-ended story of redemption or revenge.  Will must make that choice.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AFTER THE FALL: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat.    New York: Roaring Book Press, 2017. 32p. ISBN 978-162672-6826 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

Just like the nursery rhyme, this story starts out when Humpty Dumpty has a great fall.  This time, however, the king’s men at the hospital were able to put him together again.  His shell soon healed, but emotional scars set in.  The fear of falling - from any elevation - soon changed Humpty’s daily routines, causing him to miss out on his favorite activities, especially bird watching.  With some paper, tape, and glue, Humpty built paper models of birds, and modified them and adjusted them and tried to make them fly until he “got it just right.”  His determination and success with simple technology prompted Humpty to conquer his fear of falling, and he soon climbed back up that same wall he fell from.  Enjoy Santat’s fabulous art, which is half of the storytelling experience.  Readers will “crack up” at the surprise ending!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MARCH FORWARD, GIRL by Melba Pattillo Beals.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2018) 214p. ISBN 978-132888212-7 hc. $16.99   YA 323.092 BE

One of the original “Little Rock Nine” who attended a white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas from in 1957, Beals grew up in segregation.  Whites and blacks had separate schools, neighborhoods, drinking fountains, and churches.  Blacks were out of slavery, but still employed and underpaid by whites, denied the same quality of education as whites, and expected to be subservient to whites.  Beals narrates stories of her childhood and her family’s decision to send her to Central High School’s first year of integrated classes.  The group of nine students was escorted to and from school by soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky until the end of the school year.  At that time, the Ku Klux Klan threatened the lives of the students, so their families sent them out of state to finish school.  This group was finally recognized with Congressional Gold Medals in 1999 for their bravery in the fight for equality. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Just received some book reviews on a couple of 2014 favorites.  Read on!
MORTAL HEART by Robin LaFevers.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin, 2014. 441p. ISBN:
978-0-547-62840-0 hc. 17.99. Gr. 8-12   YA FIC

Annith is a handmaiden of Death. She has served and trained in his convent for her entire life. When she learns that she is being groomed as a Seeress, Annith decides to sneak away and forge her own path to serve Death. During her travels, she meets up with others from her convent,and learns many secrets related to the kingdom and convent that she serves. Will these secrets change her life forever, and will Annith be able to follow her heart, save her kingdom, her convent, and have a chance at love? Mortal Heart is book number 3 in the "His Fair Assassin" series that includes GRAVE MERCY, DARK TRIUMPH, and COURTING DARKNESS.  The fifth book in the series will be published in 2020.
Melissa Coyne, Reader, Munising Public Library

LOVE IS THE DRUG by Alaya Johnson.  New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014. 335p.  ISBN: 978-0-545-41781-5 hc. $17.99.    Gr. 9-12  YA FIC

Emily Bird is a brilliant student at a private boarding school in Washington DC. She is living an ideal life, until she wakes up in a hospital several days after attending a party with her boyfriend. She cannot remember anything that happened to her between the party and waking up. The world has changed, and there is a deadly flu epidemic sweeping the world.  Emily must piece together what happened to her, what her scientist parents are working on, and what she may unwittingly know about this outbreak. With the help of her drug-dealing friend, Coffee, Emily must piece all the clues
together, save her family, and save herself from the government agent who is stalking her.
Melissa Coyne, Reader, Munising Public Library

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

SOMETIMES YOU FLY by Katherine Applegate. Illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt.  Boston:  Clarion Books, 2018.  ISBN 978-0547633909 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

Applegate takes readers on a journey from their first birthday all the way to graduation with three-word teasers.  The phrase, "before the friend..." is accompanied by a picture of one boy sitting alone which turns into a picture of good friends as you turn the page.  A young girl struggling with words in a book "before the know..." turns into an avid reader telling stories to her stuffed animals at bedtime.  The phrasing changes toward the end of the book with words of encouragement that there are failures on the road to success.  Parents will like this book as much as their children do.  Much of the appeal is in the illustrations which echo the work of Stephen Gammell, a Caldecott winner who illustrated SONG AND DANCE MAN by Karen Ackerman (1988) and THE RELATIVES CAME by Cynthis Rylant (1985).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

EYES & SPIES: How You’re Tracked and Why You Should Know by Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Illus. by Belle Wuthrich. Berkeley, CA:  Annick Press, 2017.  135p.  ISBN 978-155451911-8 hc. $22.95    Gr. 5-12    YA 323.448 KY

This book covers electronic privacy concerns because of computers and online programs that access our personal data and transmit it to other electronic sources.  We’re on camera at home, at the store, in the restaurant, and at school.  We willingly give our own information to social media sites and online accounts every day.  The information is condensed into 135 pages, presented with tables and graphs that are easy to understand.  Many chapters include “The Creepy Line” which features true life examples of topics such as hidden surveillance, cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, and gathering data from social media accounts.  There’s a complete bibliography and index at the back of the book to help check facts and read more about cyber topics.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MIDNIGHT AT THE ELECTRIC by Jodi Lynn Anderson.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.  257p.  ISBN: 9780062393548 hc. $17.99   Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

In this science fiction story that takes place in 2065, characters and historic events are connected over the sp
an of 115 years.  Adri Ortiz is one of the smartest, most driven people on the planet and that's how she became a candidate for the Mars program.  Her only flaw seems to be a reluctance to socialize.  That could be attributed to the loss of her parents at an early age and the absence of any family members....until now.  While waiting for her launch date into space, Adri has been sent to an aged cousin, Lily, who lives on a a Kansas farm near the government colonization center where Adri will be training.  While helping Lily clean out closets, Adri finds a bundle of mysterious letters written by Lenore in England at the end of World War I in 1919 and a diary written by Catherine who resided on this very same Kansas farm during the Dust Bowl in 1934.  The common thread between all the female characters is their willingness to follow their dreams, even if it means traveling to new states, new countries, or a new planet.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

DOWN BY THE RIVER by Andrew Weiner. Illus. by April Chu.  New York: Abrams Books, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-14197-22936 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-3     E PIC
The basics of fly-fishing are covered in this fact-filled story about Art's day of fly fishing with his mother and grandfather.  They start the day with a checklist of food and equipment needed for their trip to the trout stream.  Art's mother is quite an expert, and snags a rainbow trout on her first try.  With coaching by his grandfather, Art uses good fishing technique and catches a brown trout of his own.  It's a gentle story of family tradition and nature conservation joined together by the sport of fly fishing.  The end pages are beautifully illustrated with a variety of flies such as "Zonker," "Copper John Jig," "Rattlin' Baitfish" and many more - each designed to catch different kinds of fish.  There's also an illustrated section titled "About Fly fishing" and one about the clothing needed for a safe fishing trip.  This book will inspire readers to find out more about fish and fishing.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

POE STORIES AND POEMS by Gareth Hinds.  Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2017. 110p. ISBN 978-07636-9509 pbk. $14.00  Gr.8-12   YA GRAPHIC

Several of Edgar Allen Poe’s haunting poems and short stories, including “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” "The Raven," and “The Tell-Tale Heart” have been adapted to graphic novel format by Hinds.  Poe’s original text is imbedded into the graphics.  Some readers will enjoy the illustrative interpretations of these famous works, while others may want to keep their own personalized visualizations of Poe’s rich text.  Hinds also modified “The Odyssey,” "King Lear," “Beowulf” and several other literature classics into a graphic novel format. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

THEY SAY BLUE by Jillian Tamaki. New York:  Abrams Books, 2018.  32p.  ISBN: 978-141972851-8 hc. $17.99   PreS - Gr. 1    E PIC

The full-spread illustrations, composed of acrylic paint on watercolor paper to give the effect of translucence, could almost tell the tale by themselves.  However, when you add the poetic text, the book comes alive with story.  With a little imagination, a trip to the beach becomes a discussion of blue sky and sea , a bus ride from school turns into a boat ride on waves of golden grasses, and a good night of sleep leads to waking up each morning with a renewed curiosity about nature and the colors that surround us.  Tamaki is a Caldecott Honor recipient for illustrating THIS ONE SUMMER, a middle school graphic novel which was written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

CHASING KING’S KILLER by James L. Swanson.  New York:  Scholastic Press, (2018) 364p. ISBN 978-054572666-6 hc. $19.99   323.092 SW
Swanson divides the book into four sections of story.  Part One introduces Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his philosophy of non-violent protest, the segregated southern states, and the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.  Things really speed up after 1963 with the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama Church, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X, and opposition to the Vietnam War. Part Two chronicles the life of felon and future assassin, James Earl Ray.  Part Three provides the detailed planning of King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, and Part Four delves into the manhunt for Ray.  The last 100 pages consist of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s lasting legacy of peace, along with information for further study.  This very readable book is peppered with authentic black and white photographs from the time period. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

THE GREAT CHICKEN ESCAPE by Nikki McClure.  Petaluma, CA: Cameron Kids, 2018. 32p. ISBN 978-1-94490322-0 hc. $16.99     PreS-K     E PIC

McClure describes a single adventure from her time living in Alaska with monastic nuns.  She says that "Island life makes small events huge."  Her wordless story begins and ends with chickens in the fenced-in yard.  When the gate is left open, "Chickens run!" and prove themselves to be efficient escape artists.  They find interesting new landscapes and some danger, but seem to know that the setting sun means it's time to head home.  The stark illustrations were made by placing cut black paper over white for a striking visual experience.  It echoes her 2010 book, MAMA, IS IT SUMMER YET?, which incorporates a few shades of color, but stays true to the black and white art -and has now been printed as a board book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

TRUCK FULL OF DUCKS by Ross Burach.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-133812936-6 hc. $17.99      PreS-Gr.2      E PIC

Burach doesn't waste time or paper telling this funny story about a truck driver and his cargo of ducks.  The story begins and finishes on the end pages - maybe because there are so many bold illustrations to take in.  As the truck leaves to deliver ducks, the delivery address is eaten, leading the group on an adventure to see who ordered a truck full of ducks.  Each stop on the way is full of rhymes and fun phrasing.  The book looks young, but second graders will absolutely love the jokes and wordplay, such as when the pirate tells the truck driver he ordered "a truck full of crackers...not quackers!" for his pet parrot.  There's a scary moment when the final delivery is to a hungry fox who lives in the dark forest, but never fear.  There's a happy twist to this delightful children's story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

THE CHINESE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES by Ying Chang Compestine.  Illus. by David Roberts.  New York:   Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-141972542-5 hc. $17.99     Gr. 2-4     E PIC

The best thing about folktales is how authors envision new settings, new twists, and new endings to re-tell the old stories.  In the original version of THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES, traveling tailors make invisible clothing for a vain king, and leave town with the large fees he paid for the clothes.  This time, Compestine turns the tables on the dishonest palace administrators who've been steeling from the king.  The young king's tailors help to use the administrators' vanity against them by replacing the costly silks with burlap sacks and telling them that dishonest men can only see burlap, while everyone else sees the true beauty of the silks.   True to the original story, a little child blurts out the truth of the situation during the annual New Year parade.  The illustrator, Roberts, brings prior experience in fashion to the story, creating beautiful and authentic Chinese clothing.  He even makes the burlap look good!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

BABIES CAN SLEEP ANYWHERE by Lisa Wheeler. Illus. by Carolina Buzio.  New York: Abrams Appleseed, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-141972536-4 hc. $14.95     PreS     E PIC

Comparing a range of animals to a sleeping baby, "babies can sleep anwhere" becomes a predictable line on every fourth page.  It's amazing how many words rhyme with "where" and can be written into descriptive sentences about animals.  The alternate pages have their own rhyme schemes, giving the story an easy-to-read cadence.  Buzio's illustrations are boldly drawn in muted colors, making it easy to identify each featured animal - most of them pictured with babies of their own.  Parents and teachers will enjoy reading and re-reading this book to preschoolers.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  49855

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I AM A CAT by Galia Bernstein.  New York:  Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017.  32p.  ISBN 978-141972643-9 hc. $16.95.    PreS -  Gr.1      E PIC

Engaging illustrations that convey a sense of humor drive this story of classification.  A small cat claims to be one of the group of "big cats," including lion, cheetah, tiger, mountain lion, and panther.  Each, in turn, points out the characteristics that make them who they are.  The little cat asks them what they have in common, making them all "cats."  When they name all their common characteristics, such as long tail, sharp claws, whiskers, and eyes that see in the dark, the small cat shows that he has those same characterisitcs.  This clever way to categorize alike and different items can be applied in the classroom to other animals, plants, words, and math concepts.  It's a great book for preschool and lower elementary readers!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  49855

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

THE GREAT NEW YORK SUBWAY MAP by Emiliano Ponzi.  New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2017.  36p.  ISBN 978-163345-025 hc. $19.95      Gr. 3-5     JUV NF

If you ride the subway system in New York - or anywhere in America, you'll find your way from place to place by using a color coded map that displays all the available train routes.  People use it all the time, but how was it developed?  A graphic designer named Massimo Vignelli, an immigrant from Italy, was approached by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to simplify and improve the subway map.  After researching the problem for some time, Vignelli was inspired by a plate of spaghetti noodles to feature subway routes with colored lines, while reducing the sizes of landmarks and stations.  After some back and forth discussion with the transit administrators, the streamlined and easy-to-read maps were approved for use in 1972.  With some variation by region, the colored line map concept is still used today.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS by Allen Say.  New York: Arthur Levine Books, 2017.  64p.  ISBN 978-0545-927611 hc. $21.99      Gr. 2-4     J 921 or  J 709

In a tribute to American artist, James Castle, the author unfolds the story of a deaf child who could only communicate by screaming in displeasure or by drawing for comfort.  Unable to communicate with words or signs, Jimmy was isolated from his family.  When his sister, Nellie, lost her hearing after a bout with measles, both children were sent to  the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind for a proper education.  Nellie did well, but Jimmy once again failed to learn the alphabet, prompting the headmaster to remove all his art supplies.  He was declared "uneducable" at fifteen and sent home to his attic space, where he continued to draw by using a mixture of soot and spit as ink.  Thanks to a nephew who studied art in college, James Castle's drawings were finally discovered by an art professor in Portland, Oregon and then by the director of the Boise Gallery of Art in Idaho.  He continued to make his distinctive art until his death in 1977.  An amazing amount of research went into the writing and drawing of this biography.  Don't miss the Author's Note at the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI