Monday, December 29, 2014

HUG MACHINE by Scott Campbell. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 32p. ISBN 978-1-44245935-9 hc. $16.99.    PreK- Gr.1   E PIC

This small boy (drawn with very long arms) acts on his conviction that hugs make everything better and everyone needs a hug.  The muted watercolor illustrations are big and chunky like a child drew them, but add character to this happy story.  The hug machine is so determined to hug everyone and everything that he figures out a way to hug a prickly porcupine and even a huge whale.  When the hug machine finally runs out of steam he rejuvinates by receiving a hug from his mom.
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI

Monday, December 22, 2014

MARY WALKER WEARS THE PANTS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE DOCTOR, REFORMER, AND CIVIL WAR HERO by Cheryl Harness. Illus by Carlo Molinari. Chicago, IL; Albert Whitman & Co., 2013.  978-0-8075-4990; hb., $16.99. Gr.3-6  JNF 610.82

A strong female role model for young girls researching history, Mary Edwards Walker was one of the first female doctors in the United States during the Civil War.  She believed in women’s rights and chose to wear trousers instead of dresses, as she was expected to.  She also participated in the Civil War, earning the Medal of Honor. The back of the book includes a biography of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and how she influenced the role of women in the 1800’s.
Char Dugas, Munising School Public Library Volunteer

Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE BABY TREE by Sophie Blackall.  New York:  Nancy Paulsen Books, 2014. 32p. ISBN 978-0399-25718-6  $17.99 hc.   Gr. K-3     E PIC

The cover of this book has a literal visualization of a tree sprouting babies which makes you want to see what this story is about.  The young protagonist gets the news from his parents that a new baby is on the way, which starts the ever popular question that all children wnt to know, "Where do babies come from?"  He gets very clever, but evasive, answers from his babysitter, his teacher, Grandpa, and the mailman, before returning to his parents for the real story.  It turns out that all the answers held an element of the truth and had to be connected together.  The text is just right for any curious kid and the illustrations, also by Blackall, are soft and chalky and imaginative. What a great way to welcome a sibling into the home.
Lynette Suckow, Director, Superiorland Preview Center

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A CHICK ‘N’ PUG CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Sattler.  New York: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2014. 32p.  ISBN: 978-159990-6027 hc. $16.99  Gr. K-2   E PIC

Sattler does not disappoint with this holiday addition to the CHICK ‘n’ PUG series.  Pug begins the story by explaining the concept of Santa with the words, “He brings presents and spreads joy to everyone at Christmas.”  Chick is ready to sign on to this idea in the role of Santa’s elf.  The pair makes their way through the neighborhood spreading cheer (more or less) to their friends, Mr. Snuggles and the Dude, before having fun of their own.  The text is truly enhanced by the bright illustrations that focus on facial expressions of the characters.  Readers will want to start the Christmas season early each year to read this story again and again.
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

CLUBHOUSE MYSTERIES series by Sharon Draper. Illustrated by Jesse Watson.  New York: Aladdin Books.  94p. Gr. 3-6

This series started with THE BURIED BONES MYSTERY in 2011, a mystery that began when the main characters left school for the summer only to find that someone had cut down the basketball hoops around town.  How would you spend your summer?  They started a club with the mission of solving mysteries and haven't stopped since. The series continues with LOST IN THE TUNNEL OF TIME, SHADOWS OF CAESAR's CREEK, THE SPACE CAMP ADVENTURE, THE BACKYARD ANIMAL SHOW.

Draper's newest title in 2014, STARS AND SPARKS ON STAGE, features Ziggy and his friends, the Black Dinosaurs, as they enter a talent show at school.  They notice a new girl in class who doesn't seem to have a home.  You can guess that the hidden messages in this story deal with homelessness and the value of the arts in school curriculum, as well as a well-crafted mystery.
Laurie LaHaie, Ontonagon Township Library, Ontonagon, MI

Friday, December 5, 2014

WORLD'S END: A Second book of Dormia by Peter Kujawinski and Jake Halpern.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 501p. 978-0-547-48037-4; hb., $18. YA

Wow! I have been waiting for a series like this since I read the last
Harry Potter book. This is the second book in the Dormia series. Epic in
proportion, the story centers around Alphonso's quest to find his father
who disappeared several years ago while swimming in Minnesota. Alphonso,
like his father, is a Great Sleeper from Dormia, a land not easily reached
located deep in the Ural Mountains. Great Sleepers are able to fall asleep
and do amazing feats which would never happen while the person is
awake.The adventure tests the strength and abilities of Alphonso and his
entourage of friends, and his Uncle Hill.  Seemingly happenstance events,
reveal clues that guide the troop along their perilous route to Jasber,
where Alphonso feels that he will find his father, hopefully alive. Many
die along the way meeting fates too terrible to speak of here. Although
Alphonso is only fifteen, his journey is not child's play. Ultimately he
will try to save the city of Jasber from Kiril, a 600 year old expat who
was banished as a child. Kiril has never forgotten the pain of his
childhood experience and he has had 600 years to think about it. The
characters are fully developed. Philosophical questions keep popping up.
Dormian residents fear anyone and anything different. This fear, seen as a
normal safety concern, may have caused the citizens to be less safe in the
end. The plot is fast and full of surprises. The ending is a classic cliff
hanger that leaves the reader groaning and wanting more. The first book in
the Dormia series is named "Dormia" and the third is "Shadow Tree."
Susie Rohrbough, Accordionist and Librarian at large

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

UNDERGROUND by Denise Fleming. New York: Simon Schuster, 2012. 34p.
ISBN: 978-1-4424-5882-6  Gr. PreK-1  E PIC
Fleming created a graphic story about what happens underground. 
Young readers will learn animals which burrow underground including  
ants, chipmunks, moles frogs, worms etc.  Illustrations made by pulp 
painting, a paper-making technique, show how vegetables have both 
leaves you can see above ground while the vegetable grows below ground. 
Illustrations have muted colors for the most part. Final pages include 
creature identification helping children learn many different animals.  
It would be fun to take this story outside to work on identification.
Joanne Weber, Volunteer, Munising School Public Library

Friday, November 28, 2014

GAIJIN: AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR by Matt Faulkner. New York: Disney-Hyperion Books, 2014. Hb. $19.99 ISBN 978-1-4231-3735-1 NF Graphic Novel  741.5973 Juv.
Inspired by a distant relative who was sent to a Japanese internment camp in California during World War II, Faulkner uses his own illustrations and text to tell the story of Gaijin.  Just thirteen years old and half Japanese, Gaijin finds himself summoned to relocate at an internment camp at the local race track.  His Caucasian mother goes with him and tries to make the best out of living in a horse stall.  While living in San Francisco, Gaijin was often the target of discrimination against Japanese (or half Japanese) citizens.  After all, the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor and were enemies of the United States.  At the internment camp, he was discriminated against because he was half white.  The graphic novel format helps to convey Gaijin’s emotions  and challenges during World War II, when he didn’t fit in anywhere. The knowledge of internment camps, right here on American soil, has just recently become the historical back story in newly published juvenile literature.   If you’re curious about Japanese-American policies during World War II, Faulkner has provided more information for young readers at
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI

Friday, November 14, 2014

Here's an old favorite - ready for new readers.

Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George. Illustrated by Wendell Minor. New York: Hyperion Books for children, 1999.  28p.  ISBN 0-7868-0456-4 hc. $15.99  Gr. K-2  E PIC

This story can almost be considered an Arctic version of "Blueberries for Sal."  It takes place on the shores of the Arctic Ocean when Bessie Nivyek decides to explore a huge chunk of ice that looks like a ship.  Bessie meets a baby polar bear cub and the two have a time of carefree play together, while being anxiously watched by both Bessie's brother and the mother polar bear.  The arrival of an enormous male polar bear changes the circumstances, but all ends well.  The illustrations are wintery, yet brilliantly colorful.  As an imaginative story, this is amusing and entertaining but, as a story view into another culture, it is misleading.  It would be an excellent public library book, but a judgment call for a school library.
Kay T. Elzinga, Superiorland Library Cooperative Board Member

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BEDTIME MONSTERS by Josh Schneider. New York: Clarion Books, 2013. 32p. ISBN 978-0-544-002708 hb. $16.99    Gr. PreK - 3   E PIC

I knew I was going to enjoy BEDTIME MONSTERS from the first page where Arnold is pictured destroying New York. The illustrations of the animals running out of the cookie box leads children to imagination and creativity. When each monster shows up scared and climing into bed with Arnold, you can't wait for the next one to appear. Of course, the ending is also very unique with the monsters being scared off by "Arnolds."  Arnold falls asleep in a monster-free bed at last.  Besides being a good bedtime story or read-aloud, it would make a cute play for the classroom.
Mary Kashorek, Library Assistant, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Friday, November 7, 2014

THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson.  New York: Viking, published by Penguin Group, 2014.  391p. ISBN: 9780670012091 hc.$18.99.  Y.A.FIC

Hayley's used to life on the road so when her veteran father decides they're going to put down roots in his old hometown, she is less than excited. Going to school every day and being expected to take the SATs turn out to be the least of her worries as her father's PTSD rules both their lives. Friends, and the possibility of a boyfriend, allow Hayley to cultivate connections outside of her small family unit until the return of a familiar face brings back memories long buried. Ultimately, Hayley realizes she must confront her father as they both struggle to understand what they need from each other.

What I loved the most about "The Impossible Knife of Memory" is the relationship between Hayley and her father. It is in no way entirely positive, or even healthy, but there is a strong connection between them that is real and palpable. Hayley herself is snarky, sure of herself, and bristly, though her people skills improve as time passes. I enjoyed her relationship with Finn; their mix of reality and fantasy in conversation is adorable. Mostly, I'm a sucker for a dramatic, emotional ending and this book delivers in spades.
Jesse Shirtz, Library Director, Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

BLUFFTON by Matt Phelan. 2013.   Gr. 6-8    JUV

Phelan’s graphic novel takes readers back in history to The Actors’ Colony at Bluffton, in Muskegon, Michigan in 1908.  The famous actor, Buster Keaton, was one of the children who spent summers there after working the vaudeville circuit with his family for the rest of the year. BLUFFTON is told through the eyes of Henry, a local boy who envies Buster’s life as a performer.In contrast, Phelan portrays Buster Keaton as a talented performer who would rather spend his time playing baseball than anything else. There are plenty of discussion points for students, as the author includes controversial topics such as allegations of child abuse connected to the physical nature of the Keatons’ stage act. The superb illustrations leave some room for interpretation and will inspire readers to research the names of other actors in the story.  By the way, this book was included in the Michigan Notable Books for 2014.
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI

Friday, October 31, 2014

THE SWEETEST WITCH AROUND by Alison McGee. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. New York: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2014. 32p. ISBN: 978-1442478336  $15.99.
E PIC Gr. PreS-3

Although The Sweetest Witch Around takes its inspiration from Halloween, this is one holiday book you won't have to pack away with your decorations!  The storyline supports several touching themes including bravery, sisterly love, sugar addiction, and Halloween.  The narrator is a brave witch who is not afraid of humans like all the other witches.  It is her goal to teach her younger "witchling" sister to be brave, too.  In her first lesson, the witchling learns about Halloween and
candy-yuck.  Trouble begins when the younger sister tastes candy and determines it isn't yuck, but YUM!  The witchling steals her sister's broom, flies into town, and discovers it is Halloween night.  What will happen when the witchling lines up behind the costumed children for trick or treat? 
Your child will love the story and the wonderful costumes, but parents will love the book, too.  Artistic details, such as parents walking with their children on Halloween, children in great costumes, and attention to landscaping decorations, will give you and your child something to talk about after you've memorized the story.  Like end credits of your favorite movies, don't forget to check out the inside covers for an extra -ghoulish treat!
Christine Rathje, Librarian Assistant, Tahquamenon Area Library

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Curley, Marianne.  HIDDEN.   New York:  Bloomsbury Children’s Books., 2013.  325p.  978-1-59990-840-3;  hc.,  $17.99.    Gr.6 & up   YAF

For as long as she can remember, Ebony has had the uncomfortable feeling that her overprotective parents are strangers. Now sixteen, she often looks in the mirror and feels that she is a stranger to herself. Bewildering changes have begun to occur on her body and her hair changes color with her emotions. Frightened by the weird growths with feathers poking out which have suddenly appeared on her shoulders, she looks to her parents for answers to the questions swirling in her head and finally, the answers to her true identity.  Instead of giving her assurance and answers, they become frightened and warn her not to ask questions.
 When there is fire and explosion at the family farmhouse, Ebony’s parents are presumed dead and she is offered a home with her close friend Amber’s family, who welcome her with kindness and caring. Unfortunately  Ebony soon discovers that there is no safe haven for her. Luca, the dark prince wants Ebony’s soul, confusing her with his lies and trickery. Her friend Jordan feels a strong attraction to Ebony, and handsome magnetic Nathaneal comes to protect her and fight the dark forces as she falls in love with him.

Readers will be on alert for a sequel of this satisfying, if somewhat intricate story. Curley has created characters and a story that teens will enjoy.
Barbara Ward, Retired Children’s Librarian, Dickinson County Library

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Some of your favorite detective series are now three dimensional – books in print for reading, books on CD for listening, and DVD for a total storytelling experience, often featuring well-known movie stars. 

INSPECTOR LYNLEY mysteries by Elizabeth George are set in contemporary England - the New Scotland Yard.  Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley, also the 8th Earl of Asherton, teams up with Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers to form an unlikely, but effective partnership of detectives who solve some very complex crimes. Although the stories revolve around the crime-fighting duo of the aristocratic Lynley and working-class Havers, there’s a large cast of characters who are connected to each other in the most interesting ways.  Elizabeth George thoroughly explores their relationships and motivations in each book.  The newest in the series is titled, JUST ONE EVIL ACT. The DVD series, originally part of Masterpiece Mysteries from PBS, narrows down the storyline to the two main characters and the crimes themselves in order to fit the story into a 90 minute time frame. 
Lynette Suckow, Peter White Public Library, Marquette, MI