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