Tuesday, December 29, 2015

THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press: New York, 2015.  670p. ISBN 978-0545-448680 hc. $32.99.   Gr. 6-10   JUV FIC

          The first 400 pages of this very thick book tells the genealogy of the Marvel family in pictures.  It's a fantastical story of two brothers at sea who become shipwrecked in 1776.  The survivor makes his way to London and takes up life in the theater; backstage where the rope rigging and backdrops are as familiar as the surroundings of a sailing ship.  Readers will flip through the pages quickly absorbing the story. It's almost like watching a movie, as Selznick zooms in and out of a scene with detailed pencil illustrations.
          Fast forward to 1990 with a new character, Joseph Jervis, and a switch to telling the story with text.  Joseph lives at boarding school because his parents are rich enough to travel the world.  He decides to do some traveling of his own - to London, where his elusive uncle, Albert Nightingale, lives in a museum of sorts.  Uncle Albert is a man of few words and fails to explain why a room in his house is left unused and unchanged.  After much effort and frustration, Joseph unlocks the mystery of the room and his family history.  Selznick's crafted storytelling conveys each character's emotions through words and illustration.  Selznick is famous for his ability to create two separate stories, find the common thread and weave it into a complete, but complex, story. 
          As the story reveals the final scene, it switches back to illustration and fast forwards again to Joseph as a grown man.  To read this story once is not enough.  THE MARVELS is a masterpiece of storytelling. Since this story is loosely based on an actual house in London, readers will find an afterword and a dramatic black and white photograph of the mysterious unchanging room.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

BONE GAP by Laura Ruby. Balzer and Bray: an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Publishing, 2015. 368p. ISBN 978-0062317605 hc. $17.99  Gr. 9-12  YA FIC

          BONE GAP begins as realistic fiction with the very human story of 14 year-old Finn, who daydreams, gets into fights but doesn't fight back, and sees people in a different way.  He notices their shape and movement more than their faces, but in the small community of Bone Gap, he knows who everyone is.  His older brother Sean is big and strong and does everything right, and he takes care of Finn.  It's the two of them against the world.  Their lives change overnight when the most beautiful woman in the world is found in the barn.  Her name is Rosza, she is a great cook, and she makes the brothers happy.  As quickly as she came, she leaves -taken by a man that Finn cannot describe, even though he saw Rosza get into his car and disappear down the road.  There are several mysteries taking place at the same time, eventually unraveled through the separate narratives of Finn and Rosza.

          At some point, the story transforms into surreal fantasy, paralleling the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, who was captured (kidnapped) by Hades and taken to the Underworld, just like Rosza was kidnapped and hidden from sight. Finn is fearless in his quest to find Rosza and becomes the hero of the story.  There are several allusions to the myth beginning about halfway through the story such as the superhuman strength and persona of the kidnapper.  References to the pomegranate seeds that Persephone ate, resulting in six months above the ground and six months below, are found in Rosza's cookie recipe with an especially delicious pomegranate filling, and her inner struggle to stay connected to her grandmother in Poland, while, at the same time, wanting to start a new life in the U.S. with Finn and Sean.  This is a story about perspective - inner beauty versus  physical beauty and the value of acceptance for each individual viewing the world from a slightly different viewpoint. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

PIG KAHUNA: Who's That Pig? by Jennifer Sattler. New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015.  32p.  ISBN 978-161962-6323 hc. $16.99   PreK-Gr. 1   E PIC

If you're looking to find a book that highlights individualism and friendship for those that are shy, this is the book for you.  Fergus and Dink are enjoying an ordinary day at the beach when they meet someone "anything but ordinary."  Tallulah is not afraid to be herself whether it's her special fashion sense, ability to stand on her head, or encouragement of Fergus tackle a new obstacle.  Children and parents alike will enjoy the positive and patient message that allows all to know how lucky we are to have differences.  The illustrations are soft and colorful, drawing the audience into a most wonderful story.
Emily Cummings, Children's Specialist, Dickinson County Library

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

SLEEPY SNOOZY COZY COOZY: A Book of Aminal Beds by Judy Young.  Illus. by Michael Monroe. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2015. 32p. ISBN 978-1-58526-9089 hc. $15.99   Gr. 1-3   E PIC

This is a wonderful and very informative book that can be used for a wide range of ages.  You can simply have fun reading through all the tongue twisting poems that give you some information about each animal, or you can also read the bottom part of each page and learn morefacts about these North
American animals.  The illustrations are beautiful, soft and perfect for a nighttime story book, especially since the end of the story brings you back to a child sleeping in his bed.
Mary Koshorek, Librarian Assistant, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Thursday, December 3, 2015

SEARCH AND SPOT ANIMALS by Laura Ljungkvist.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2015.  32p. ISBN 978-0-544-54005-7 hc. $16.99   Gr. PreK-1   E PIC

Not quite the same as Martin Hanford's WHERE'S WALDO books, this collection of visual puzzles is based on the line art of Laura Ljungkvist.  Multi-layered illustrations combine silhouette, outline, and texture to create busy pages that challenge the reader's sense of pattern while searching for designated animals.  Young readers and parents will enjoy working through this book together while feasting their eyes on the vivid colors.  A second book is in the works for late in 2016 titled SEARCH AND SPOT GO featuring cars and trucks and modes of transportation. This is a new series to keep an eye on!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 30, 2015

ASK ME by Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee.  Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Hourcourt, 2015.  32p. ISBN 978-0547723944 hc. $16.99   PreK-Gr. 2   E PIC

Told in soft Fall and sunset colors, ASK ME is a beautiful story told in dialogue solely between father and daughter.  She shares her thoughts and feelings with her father in an effortless way, and the reader can feel his unconditional love through his patient responses.  The nostalgic feel for the simple message of taking the time to listen to his child will not be lost on the audience of those reading this book.  It will truly motivate readers and listeners alike to want to share a walk like the one described in this children's book.
Emily Cummings, Children's Specialist, Dickinson County Library

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Brown.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. 96p. ISBN: 
978-0544157774 hc. $18.99.  Gr. 6-12   JUV NF

Don Brown is known for his graphic novels that use illustration to bring
emotion to his stories of disaster, while pointing out the cause of each event.
They are informational and dramatic, taking readers right into the geographic 
location of each story. This book was surprising in its illustrative detail of 
New Orleans before the storm, and the devastation that Hurricane Katrina 
left behind.  Brown makes readers feel like they were there with hurricane 
survivors who were suffering and crying for help.  Readers share the outrage 
about how long it took for help to arrive, and the buses that should have been 
there to transport people, and the empty trains that left the city.  So many more 
could have been saved if government officials had made preparations for 
everyone to leave the city, whether they had money or not.  This book is 
recommended for young adults as some the illustrations of looting and dead 
bodies are not suitable for younger children.  If you want to read more books by
Mary Koshorek, Librarian Assistant, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

ORBITING JUPITER by Gary D. Schmidt.  New York:  Clarion Books , 2015. 192p.
ISBN 978 0544462229 hc. $17.99.  Gr. 7-12   JUV FIC

          Joseph Brooks is tough and unpredictable - the stereotypical bad boy - who is only fourteen years old.  He's been raised by an abusive father, and a year ago, he fathered a child of his own with another 13-year old.  All of this unconventional activity lands him in foster care with Jack Hurd and his parents.  Jack is a little younger than Joseph and narrates the story for readers.  Good parenting by the Hurds, along with several teachers who recognize Joseph's intellect, gradually loosen up Joseph and allow him to reveal his whole story which includes a yearning to see his daughter named Jupiter.  Jack can count the number of times Joseph has smiled during his stay and, as he relaxes into his nurturing surroundings, they begin to add up faster.  The future is looking good for Joseph until his father shows up and tries to use him and Jupiter for financial gain.
          Readers won't predict the plotline twists toward the end of the book because Schmidt is a masterful storyteller.  While most of his stories pack an emotional punch, this one was quite suspenseful and made my heart stop a couple of times.  After digesting the impact of ORBITING JUPITER, readers may want to pick up some of Schmidt's earlier award-winning books, such as LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMASTER BOY (2004), THE WEDNESDAY WARS (2007),  and it's sequel OKAY FOR NOW (2011).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WINTER BEES & OTHER POEMS OF THE COLD by Joyce Sidman. Illus. by Rick Allen. HoughtonMifflin Harcourt:  2014. 32p. ISBN 978-0547-906508 hc. $17.99   Gr. 3-6    E PIC

WINTER BEES & OTHER POEMS OF THE COLD by Joyce Sidman is a collection of winter poems featuring the plant and animal wildlife found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  Some of the animals featured are:  chickadee, wolf, raven, moose, beaver, honey bee, and garter snake.  Each memorable nature poem is accompanied by an informational paragraph about the featured animal on the facing page.  Sidman teamed up with illustrator, Rick Allen, for Winter Bees.  The illustrations are composed of linoleum block printing that was digitally scanned and layered to join old and new art methods into eye-catching and anatomically correct nature spreads.  Sidman has written several books of poetry with a nature theme, earning Newbery Honors for DARK EMPORER AND OTHER POEMS OF THE NIGHT (2011), Caldecott Honors for RED SINGS FROM THE TREETOPS with illustrator Pamela Zagarenski  (2010), and Caldecott Honors for SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN with illustrator Beckie Prange (2006).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

IMAGINE A WORLD by Rob Gonsalves.  New York:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015. 48p. ISBN: 978-1-4814-4973-1
17  hc. $17.99.
   Gr. Pre-3      Easy Picture Book

Wow this book is simply amazing! I loved absolutely everything about it and did not want it to come to an end. Rob Gonsalves is awesome. From the very first page when I read the words I imagined what the picture would be, then looked and my breath was taken away. A picture of leaves transforms into butterflies! This is a must have - must read book. I can not say enough or convey how truly touching and awe inspiring this masterpiece is. The recommended grade level is Pre-3, but personally I think this is a book for all ages young and old! Go back and read it again more slowly to absorb the wonderful feelings words and illustration.. Do your self a favor and pick this book up and enjoy. Mary Koshorek, Librarian Assistant, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

TRICK ARRR TREAT by Leslie Kimmelman.  Illustrator: Jorge; Monlongo.
 Chicago, Illinois:
 Albert Whitman & Company,
ISBN: 978-0-8075-8061-5
17 hc. $16.99.
   Gr. PreS - 2   : Easy Picture Book

First of all the illustrations on the cover of this book grabbed my attention immediately. The colors are just beautiful and there are fun things to see on every new page. This is a Halloween trick arrr treating story with a diverse group friends, boys and girls. The kids are all dressed as pirates and talk the talk of pirates as well. As the kids go door to door trick arrr treating they are lunging, stomping and clomping while saying "Give me loot" and "Treasure." As you turn the pages the colors change with the sun setting and get a bit darker and darker as the sun goes down. When they get home they have to walk up the gangplank for a surprise party. They bring in their loot and yell "Count yer booty, then let's eat!" I enjoyed this story and will recommend it to many little ones that come into the library.
 Mary Koshorek, Librarian Assistant, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland.  New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014. 40p. ISBN 978-0399166150 hc. $17.99   Gr. K-3  E PIC

This is Misty’s own story told through her role as mentor to a young ballet dancer.  The text is very short and in verse. Readers in grades 2 and 3 will want to focus on the words, as capitalization and punctuation have not been added.  However the message is clear that “the space between you and me” is the gap between a youngster with a dream to dance and a grown up who has achieved that dream.  Misty Copeland bridged the gap by working extra hard to become the best of ballet dancers. She is known for her portrayal of “The Firebird” in the ballet of the same name, changing expectations of success for dark skinned ballerinas around the world.  The distinctively bold illustrations of Christopher Myers emphasize elongated limbs and positions of ballet dancers in all their beauty.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

HALF A CHANCE by Cynthia Lord. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014. 224p. ISBN 978-0545035330 hc. $16.99  Gr. 4-7   JUV FIC

Lord's most recent coming-of-age novel is filled with the thoughts, questions and emotional reactions familiar to pre-teens.  Lucy, the daughter of a famous photographer, loves photography and aspires to be as good as her father. She’s been taught her to find “the story in the shot” when looking for a good photo.  When he agrees to judge a photo contest, Lucy enters under an assumed name because she wants to be judged on her talent, not her last name.  While seeking the perfect photo, Lucy also gets to know her neighbor, Nate, and his grandmother who is slowly slipping into dementia.  The camera reveals what Nate and his family don’t want to see, but will it cost Lucy his friendship in order to win the contest?
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander. HoughtonMifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2014. 240p. ISBN 978-0544107717 hc. $16.95  Gr. 5-7   JUV FIC

Alexander's well-written story has already been recognized with a John Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award, both for 2015.  This is Josh's story - twin brother of Jordan, and son of professional parents who have every expectation that their boys will succeed in academics and sports, only to be followed by entrance into college.  It doesn't take many words to tell the story because the text is written in verse, limited to a column down the left side of each page. However these words are well chosen and packed with emotion, conveying the questions and concerns Josh has about life, basketball, and his father's mysterious reluctance to take on a coaching job when it's evident that he loves the game.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

THE MAGICIAN'S TOWER by Shawn Thomas Odyssey. The Wizard of 
Dark Street series.  New York: Egmont, 2013. 293p. ISBN: 
978-1-60684-425-0 hc. $15.99. Gr. 3-6  JUV

This book continues the magical fantasy of Oona Crate as she 
enters the Magician's Tower contest, a series of dangerous 
magical tasks. During the competition, a rare and magical punch 
bowl goes missing. Oona attempts to solve the mystery and locate 
the punch bowl. The same clues could help her find the reason 
for her mother and sister's deaths so many years ago.  This
series was very engaging and enjoyable.
Melissa Coyne, Library Patron, Munising School Public Library

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

ATHLETE VS. MATHLETE by W.C. Mack.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.
198p. ISBN: 978-1-59990-915-8 hc. $16.99.  Gr. 5-7  JUV

Owen and Russell Evans are twins with totally different 
personalities and interests. Owen loves basketball and Russell 
loves math. When Russell is found to be a pro at basketball, 
everything in their life gets turned upside down. Owen and 
Russell need to work together to keep their lives from going 
completely off course.  The contrasting points of view between
Owen who values academics and Russell who is great at sports
keeps the story interesting and enjoyable.
Melissa Coyne, Library Patron, Munising School Public Library

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

FROM APPLE TREES TO CIDER PLEASE! by Felicia Chernesky. Illus. by Julia Patton. Albert Whitman & Company: Chicago, IL, 2015.  32p. ISBN978-080756513-1 hc. $16.99.   Gr. Prek-2  E PIC

The title accurately describes the action in this story about a young girl and her mom visiting a cider mill with an adjoining pick-your-own apple orchard.  They pick a load of apples and then participate in the cider making process of cleaning, crushing, and juicing. The text is short and rhyming - only two lines on each two-page spread, but the illustrations are full of information about different types of apples and the machinery involved in making apple cider.  Patton paints two entire pages from end to end creating a single scene of the farmer and families enjoying the day.  Look for comical details -pink cows in the background -  in these fantastic illustrations.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Thursday, September 10, 2015

THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT by Jason Reynolds.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers: New York. 2015. 255p. ISBN 978-14424-59502 $17.99   Gr. 9-12   Y.A. FIC

Matt begins his senior year in school reeling from the recent death of his mother.  He can't seem to forget the images of his mother's funeral, but needs to get back to the reality of school and work.  He ends up working for the funeral home and, drawn to the grieving families, begins to sit in on the funerals held there.  It's like therapy, so he puts on his black suit each day to blend in with the mourners.  While Matt is trying to get himself together, his father starts to hit the bottle as he grieves his wife's death and ends up in the hospital.  Matt is without parental guidance at this point, but relies on his best friend, Chris, and his new friend and romantic interest, Lovey, who just lost her grandmother and primary caregiver.  The two lost souls connect on several levels, including a secret they share without knowing it.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BECAUSE YOUR GRANDPARENTS LOVE YOU by Andrew Clements. Illustrated by R.W. Alley.  New York: Clarion Books, 2015. 32p. ISBN 9780544148543 hc. $16.99   Gr. K-3   E PIC

Written from the perspective of two young children, this story tells about summer adventures at the grandparents house through a series of situations.  The first example is, "When you run into the pasture and step right into a big cowpie, your grandmother could say....But she doesn't. She get the hose and sprays off your shoes."  The illustrator joins in the fun with colorful, expression-filled pictures that show the potential for trouble, but always end on a positive note. The grandparents take every mishap in stride and turn each one into a teachable moment.  This book could be used in parenting classes, as well as a charming read-aloud for young readers who enjoy spending time with their grandparents.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THREE BEARS IN A BOAT by David Soman. New York: Dial Books, 2014. 40p. ISBN 978-0803739932 hc. $17.99   Gr. PreK-1   E PIC

Nothing like the well-known three bears, Theo, Dash, and Charlie are cubs who have broken their mother’s blue seashell and promptly set out on a quest to replace it.  They meet interesting boaters along the way, and resist tempting side trips in order to stay focused on their mission; but they’re unsuccessful in the hunt for the blue seashell. With their moods deflated and large storm clouds moving in, they begin to squabble.  Realizing they must work together in the face of danger, they complete their journey and return safely home where Mama Bear waits for an explanation of their absence.  The three bears, in a true test of their character, confess to their misbehavior and the reason they left home without permission.  If the story isn’t heartwarming enough, the watercolor illustrations are a treat for your eyes.  Kindergarten and first grade readers will get a chuckle from the illustration where the bears swim underwater investigating every possible, yet unlikely, place for a seashell.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI