Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SIX KIDS AND A STUFFED CAT by Gary Paulsen.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, 2016. 144p.  ISBN 9781481452278 hc.$16.99      Gr. 6-8     JUV

What happens when six eighth grade boys take shelter in a school bathroom during an afternoon storm?  These aren't ordinary boys.  They consist of a star athlete, an academic overachiever, a bully, the king of detention, a rocker who plays air guitar like a pro, and the new kid who spent his first day of school sleeping behind the stage in the auditorium.  As they joke around with each other, bring out each other's strengths and weaknesses, they bond together to become a group of friends.  The dialog is witty and fast-paced - which brings readers to the second half of the book which is a repeat of the story written as a play.  Great for reader's theater or an example of script writing.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

LITTLE RED AND THE VERY HUNGRY LION by Alex T. Smith.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2016. 32p.  ISBN: 978-0545915383 hc. $17.99   PreS-Gr. 2    E PIC

This book will remind you of other versions of "Little Red Riding Hood," but has a unique setting and storyline.  The illustrations are bright and so much fun.  If readers take the time to look around the pages, they will spot a goat eating a telephone cord, the store sign advertising "Spot Medicine," tea time for crocodiles, some very happy monkeys, and the hiding lion.  Each page is full of fun things to look at, enhancing the storybook experience for young readers..  Last, but not the least favorite thing about the book, was the way Little Red solved her problem with the lion.  I hope this author takes it upon himself to write more stories based on children's fairy tales.
Mary Koshorek, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

REAL COWBOYS by Kate Hoefler.  Illustrated by Jonathan Bean.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 32p. ISBN 978-0544148925 hc. $16.99    PreS-Gr. 3    E PIC

What does it take to be a real cowboy?  Kate Hoefler's beautiful and realistic book describes the necessary traits and hard work being a good cowboy requires.  They must be good listeners, patient, ask for help, and be good to the earth.  They think of others, especially their animals, as they sing them to sleep and calm them during storms.  Myths of rowdiness are extinguished, for real cowboys sometimes cry for those they lost or as they remember the ones that died.  They are made up of all races and genders.  The use of bold colors and expressive illustrations are gorgeous and excel in telling the real story of real cowboys indeed.
Emily Cummings, Children's Specialist, Dickinson County Library, Iron Mountain, MI

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I'M A GIRL! by Yasmeen Ismail. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 32p. ISBN: 978-1619639751 hc. $16.99    PreS-Gr.1    E PIC

"Be yourself-there's no better!" proudly exclaims this book about being happy with who you are.  The little girl donkey repeatedly asserts that she is a girl as various animals assume she is male based upon her activities and interests.  She is messy, loud, goes fast, is brave, and plays the drums as the animals refer to her as "him," "boy," "sonny," or "young man" requiring her to let them know she is "a girl!"  Towards the end of the book, she meets a little lion declaring that he is "a boy!"  The two become friends and celebrate that there's no one else they'd rather be than themselves.  This book works hard to establish that it is not the activities or ideas that ascribe gender and that gender stereotypes should be broken.  The illustrations are colorful and done in beautiful watercolor brush strokes, which help to enhance the activity and message within the book.
Emily Cummings, Children's Specialist, Dickinson County Library, Iron Mountain, MI

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

MONSTER SCIENCE: Could Monsters Survive (and Thrive!) in the Real World? by Helaine Becker.  Illus. by Phil McAndrew.  Tonawanda, NY:  Kids Can Press, 2016.  96p.  ISBN 978-177138-0546 hc. $18.95    Gr. 4-8    J NF 001.944

Let's talk about the legends behind the world's most famous monsters that have frightened people for hundreds of years.  This book covers the historical origins of classic monsters such as Frankenstein, Bigfoot, vampires, zombies, werewolves, and sea monsters, including "Monster Facts" about each one that ties modern science into the folklore that surrounds these scary creatures.  The Frankenstein chapter delves into electricity and how it affects the body.  Readers learn the "Story of Blood" in the vampire chapter.  Bigfoot, also called Sasquatch and the abominable snowman in different parts of the world inspires discussion on evolution and hoaxes.  The zombie chapter informs readers about diseases and the limits of the human body, while genetics dominates the werewolf chapter.  Finally, facts about sea monsters are closely tied to the depths of the ocean and habitat for unusual fish.  The illustration and book layout are perfect for reading several pages at a time, as there are headings and graphics on each page.  There's a summary and quiz at the end of each chapter to help readers retain these awesome facts about monsters.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

CHICK 'N' PUG: THE LOVE PUG by Jennifer Sattler.  New York:  Bloomsbury, 2015.  36p. ISBN 978-161963-6729 hc. $16.99    PreS-Gr. 1    E PIC

Who doesn't love a pug?  This book has two adorable pugs and one cool chick.  Daisy is precious with her southern charm and her determination to win the attention of Pug.  Pug plays it cool, while Chick tries to further impress Daisy with tales of Pug's heroic deeds.  When Pug wakes up from a nap and finds Chick in trouble, he attempt to save Chick in a way that fails to impress Daisy, who then ends up rescuing him.  After much adventure, the trio is tired out and they all need a nap.  Together, they are a picture of love, friendship, and contentment.  Sattler's illustrations are just too cute and add dimension to the story.  This is my first time reading a Chick 'n' Pug book, but it won't be the last.  Other titles about these cute characters include,  CHICK 'n PUG MEET THE DUDE, PUDDLE PUG, and CHICK'N' PUG CHRISTMAS.
Mary Koshorek, Spies Public Library, Menominee, MI

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

CONSENT by Nancy Ohlin.  New York: Simon Pulse, 2015.  269p. ISBN: 978-1442464902 hc. $17.99       Gr. 9-12      YA FIC

This challenging tale scores points for exposure, diversity, and open-mindedness.  Bea struggles with family and friend relationships, and has fallen in love with her teacher, who reciprocates her feelings.  As an added complication to their relationship, Bea is not yet an adult.  Under-aged consent becomes the major theme and struggle in Bea's tale.  Ohlin introduces these layering struggles with relationships from the voice of an unreliable narrator: an authentic teenager.  Throughout, Bea's artistic connection to her music brings light amid the struggle.  In the end, some aspects are smoothed over, and the story prefers romance over preaching a lesson, which leaves it to readers to decide for themselves about the conflicts and ultimate resolution.  This is a good option if you are looking for a safe experience to expose youth to the ideas and conflicts surrounding consent, relationships, and how to turn experiences, even negative ones, into stepping stones as they move into the adult world.
Chelsea Paige, Young Adult Specialist, Dickinson County Library, Iron Mountain, MI

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

FARAWAY FOX by Jolene Thompson.  Illus. by Justin Thompson. Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. 32p. ISBN: 978-0544707115 hc. $17.99   Gr. K-3   E PIC

A young fox tells his story of confusion and separation from his family in a landscape that has changed greatly from his days as a kit.  He speaks of happy memories when the land was wild, playing with his sister, swimming with his brother, and learning to hunt with his mother.  The images on the page depict a very different environment in comparison to his memories.  We see the human encroachment,and the loneliness of the fox is palpable as he wonders where his family members are.  He finally stumbles upon human beings constructing a highway wildlife underpass, which allows him to find his way to the woods and reunites with his family.  This is an important message that shows how intrusive human beings can be for wildlife, yet offers the  positive picture that there are people working to improve conditions and safety for these animals.  The illustrations are beautiful and heartbreaking as the reader roots for the little fox to find his way home.
Emily Cummings, Children's Specialist, Dickinson County Library, Iron Mountain, MI

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ENORMOUS SMALLNESS: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess. Illus. by Kris Di Giacomo, Enchanted Lion Books, 2015. 32p. ISBN 978-1592701711 hc, $17.95   Gr. 2-5   JUV NF

Feast your eyes on this picture book biography of a most unusual poet who wrote his thoughts on paper without the constraints of capital letters or punctuation.  He used his words sparingly, but formatted the poems with artistic whimsy, which makes them so much fun to read.  Burgess and the illustrator, Kris Di Giacomo, use textured layers and muted tones of color, along with strategic placement of words in the illustrations, to present the childhood, education, and early adulthood of Edward Estlin Cummings.  His love of nature and playfulness with language are evident in the five original poems imbedded into the text.  This, along with the large illustrations, make it all the better to read aloud to an audience of young poets.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN ROBOTS by Louise Simonson & Jimena Sanchez. Minnesota: Stone Arch Books, 2015 40p. ISBN 978-1434296528 pbk. $5.95  Gr. 3-6   JUV Graphic
This amazing update on Snow White is part of the “Far Out Fairy Tales” series of graphic novels based on traditional fairy tales which have, over time, been adapted into movies and retold through various authors and illustrators.  However, making “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” into a graphic novel and replacing the dwarves with robots who mine jewels on a distant planet is a first!  The alliance between Snow White and her protectors is similar to the original story, as is the rivalry between Snow White and the queen, who wants to eliminate anyone who is qualified to take over her powerful position.  The most significant difference between the old and new fairy tale, besides taking place in outer space, is that Snow White’s primary asset of beauty has been replaced by her intelligence and bravery.  She knows electronics and how to navigate a spaceship through the galaxy.   Modern readers (especially girls) will identify with a strong character who relies on brain power in this futuristic adventure!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LOVE & GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch. New York: Simon Pulse, 2016. 389p.  ISBN978-14814-35=2542 hc. $17.99      Gr. 7-10    YA FIC

Lina's still in shock from her mother's death by way of incurable, inoperable cancer,  Her mom's dying wish is that Lina travel to Italy to live with her father for the summer.  A father she never knew existed.  Her mother also sends a journal containing information about the year she spent in Italy sixteen years ago.  Besides reading the journal and trying to unravel the mysteries found on its pages, Lina is being introduced to the many flavors of gelato and meeting new friends from the she'll attend in the fall (if she stays).  Two of those new friends are very handsome and both interested in her.  Will she repeat the mistakes of her mother's past - or learn to make better choices as she finds out more about herself too?
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES: I Almost Died, Again by Alison DeCamp.  New York: Crown Books for Young Readers, 2016. 279p. ISBN 978-038539048-4 hc. $16.99    Gr. 3-6   JUV

The adventures continue as Stanley moves back to St. Ignace after living in a logging camp near Manistique on the north shore of Lake Michigan.  He's still trying to get rich quick to save his hardworking mother from having to marry the horrible, but wealthy, Mr. Crutchley.  He's still afraid of his very mean grandmother and his cousin Geri.  However, Geri has pleurisy and is the inspiration for various "cure-all" concoctions that Stanley hopes will bring Geri back to health and make him rich in the process.  Meanwhile, Stanley is earning money by taking care of seven year-old Cuddy who's a straight man next to Stanley's outrageous ideas and habit of saying what's on his mind without realizing he's talking out loud.  On top of his usual troubles, Stanley meets his father face to face and is drawn to him like a moth to the flame, even though he's a notorious character with a mean streak. This story is fast paced and entertaining.  DeCamp has made it visually interesting by adding vintage postcards, photographs, and ads from newspapers and catalogs, all from the 1890's.  This Michigan author has found a treasure in Stanley, who made his debut in MY NEAR-DEATH ADVENTURES: 99% True (2015).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

BOO! HAIKU by Deanna Caswell. Illus. by Bob Shea.  New York: Abrams Appleseed, 2016. 32p.  ISBN 978-141972118-2 hc.$12.95    PreS - Gr. 2      E PIC

Readers will recognize the familiar pattern of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" as the Halloween related object introduces the next object with "a spooky haiku just for you."   A skeleton, spider, jack-o-lantern, and seven more items appear as you turn the page from each descriptive haiku in extra large lettering.  This book is interactive, making it perfect for reading aloud to one child or a group of children.  Bob Shea's illustrations provide stark contrast between the object and its background, making it easy to recognize each Halloween item at a range of reading distances.  If you like this book, try using poetry to learn about animals with GUESS WHO HAIKU, created by the same writing team.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

INTRODUCING TEDDY: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton. Illus. by Dougal MacPherson.  New York:  Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2016. 32p.  ISBN 978-168119-2109 hc. $16.99     PreSchool - Gr. 2    E PIC

Walton takes a gentle approach to trans-gender issues that may surface in childhood.  One day, Thomas the Teddy Bear became withdrawn and didn't want to play with his friend, Errol.  When questioned about his lack of enthusiasm, Thomas said, "If I tell you, you might not be my friend anymore." Thomas then declares his desire to become Tilly rather than Thomas, which doesn't matter to his friend Errol, nor does it matter to their mutual friend Ava.  This is a wonderful story about friendship and acceptance.  The illustrator, Dougal MacPherson, crafts an androgenous teddy bear with a bow tie to make Thomas look like a boy, and moves the tie into Tilly's hair to transform him into a girl.  Parents and teachers will find this book helpful in dealing with transitions such as these in the family or classroom.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

THE COW WHO CLIMBED A TREE by Gemma Merino.  New York: Albert Whitman & Company, 2016. 32p.  ISBN 9780807512982 hc.$16.99      Gr. K-3      E PIC

Tina was a curious cow who didn't like to do the normal things her sisters did.  She had big ideas which were declared (by the sisters) to be "IMPOSSIBLE! RIDICULOUS! NONSENSE!"  Of course, her sisters didn't believe her stories of climbing trees in the woods or meeting a dragon who lived there. One morning, when Tina was missing from breakfast, her sisters went to the woods to search for her. Imagine their surprise to find Tina and many other friends climbing the trees and parachuting back to the ground.  Readers will be encouraged to step outside the realm of "normal" activities when they see how much fun the cows have.  Besides the message to try new things, readers will be treated to imaginative watercolor art that features dabs of color, making colorful clumps of leaves for each tree.  Artistic readers may want to try this technique themselves.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

PLEASE SAY PLEASE by Kyle T. Webster.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2016. 32p. ISBN 978-0545-844857 hc.$17.99    PreS-Gr.2   E PIC

An old topic with a new twist makes this book fun for young readers and the adults who spend time with them.  Written in rhyme with a predictable pattern of conversation, the author takes readers through the playground, a restaurant, and into a pet store to model the transition from  "I want..." to "May I please..."  The text is enhanced by illustrations consisting of muted backgrounds that contrast with the two main characters who are outlined in pen and look like they walked out of a comic book page from the 1950's.  The illustrations are remarkable!  There's a humorous twist at the end of the story, but the ultimate purpose is to emphasize how important it is to display good manners.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

WHAT IS A CHILD? by Beatrice Alemagna.  New York: Abrams, 2016. 32p.  First published in 2008 in Milan, Italy. ISBN 9781849764124 hc.$19.95   Gr.1-3   E PIC

Alemagna takes a philosophical look at children, their expectations from life, and how they are viewed by adults.  The very large pages with very large rhythmic text allow for easy reading (or reading in front of a group). The opposite page features the very large, almost life-sized head of a child with unbalanced facial features clothed in bold patterns.  Your eye is drawn to he unusual ratio of body parts and everyday objects.  At the same time, those figures exude personality and illustrate the story so well.  The picture book format is aimed at children, but adults will also enjoy the pensive nature of the story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

TEN HUNGRY PIGS by Derek Anderson.  New York: Orchard Books, 2016. 32p.  SIBN 978-045416848-9 hc.$16.99    PreS - Gr. 2    E PIC

Anderson's ten pigs are quite clean after TEN PIGS: An Epic Bath Adventure, and are now looking for a snack.  As Pig One is ready to take a bite of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Pig Two runs up to add pickles, followed by Pigs Three through Ten, who add interesting foods to the sandwich.  Finally, Pig Eleven, who turns out to be a wolf of sorts, chases all the pigs away except one pig.  The story, written in rhyme, is fast moving, funny, and has a plot twist!  The illustrations are huge two-page spreads of very distinctive and comical pigs.  Readers will laugh out loud at the antics and expressions of these "Ten Hungry Pigs."
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ADA'S VIOLIN: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood. Illus. by Sally Wern Comport. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 32p. ISBN 978-1-4814 3095-1 hc. $17.99    Gr. 2-5    JUV NF 784.206

Imagine living in Cateura, Paraguay, a dumping ground for garbage from the capital city, Asuncion, and one of the poorest slums in the South American continent.  Ada Rios lived there, as had her parents and grandparents.  Her life didn't look any different, until an environmental engineer, Favio Chavez, was sent to town to teach safety practices to the gancheros who recycled materials from the huge garbage piles to earn a living.  Chavez noticed kids wandering around the streets when their parents were at work and offered them music lessons.  His initial supply of three guitars and two violins wasn't enough for the crowd that showed up, so he built more instruments from recycled materials.  The music lessons inspired the youth of Cateura to practice hard and they soon became an orchestra, playing well enough to perform at venues around the country.  The Recycled Orchestra became nationally famous and continues to improve the lives of the residents of Cateura, including Ada.  See the author's notes for more information on this uplifting story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

THE SERPENT KING by Jeff Zentner. New York: Random House Children’s Books, 2016.  372p. ISBN 9780-55352402-4 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Dill Early comes from a long line of Pentecostal preachers who believe that their faith in the Lord will keep them safe from the poisonous serpents they handle during church services.  Dill's not so sure.  He tries his best to be a good son, but his repressive parents, who have fallen from grace, expect him to work toward paying off their debts without a thought to his welfare. Luckily, Dill has two good friends in Travis and Lydia.  Travis navigates the unpredictable actions of a drunkard father by retreating into the world of fantasy books.  Lydia has great parents who are genuine role models for the group, allowing her to achieve more in the academic and extra-curricular realm than the boys.  The three friends reveal their last year of high school to readers through conversation, glimpses into their home life, and individual plans for the future.  Zentner's first teen novel is a well-written study of life's unfairness, the differences in the families we grow up in, and the hopefulness of youth; told by each of the friends in their own chapters.  Keep your tissues close at hand for tears of joy and sorrow that may result from the reading of this memorable story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

WINK, POPPY, MIDNIGHT by April Genevieve Tucholke.  Dial Books, 2016 256p.  ISBN 978-0803740488 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Midnight is a bit of a loner, living with his dad while trying to avoid the bullies at school, except for Poppy.  Poppy is the most popular (and feared) girl in school who tries to manipulate the boys by seducing them and the girls by making fun of them.  The only person she can't control is Lief Bell because he sees right through her false charms.  When family circumstances take Midnight and his dad to live on a farm across from the Bell home, he begins to spend more time with Wink, Leif's red-haired, freckled, unconventional sister who believes in heroes, villains, and the power of a good story.  Tucholke tells this story in three separate voices through the differing perspectives of Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. It’s difficult to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s telling their own twisted version of events with each retelling.  The truth doesn’t come out until a heart-stopping and mysterious incident that takes place in a haunted house. Tucholke will keep readers guessing until the very end.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

THE TEENY-TINY WOMAN by Paul Galdone.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1984.  32p.  ISBN 978-1544-641051 hc. $8.99   PreS-Gr.2   E PIC

Readers are in for a treat because Paul Galdone's Folk Tale Classics have been reprinted with hard covers at a paperback price.  This is the eleventh so far, joining titles such as THE THREE BEARS, HENNY PENNY, RUMPELSTILTSKIN, and THE LITTLE RED HEN - all childhood favorites.  My favorite, THE TEENY-TINY WOMAN is fun to read aloud to children in a group or individually, and can be used as a very gentle ghost story in your repertoire of Halloween tales.  The repetition of "teeny-tiny" can be used as a choral response from a group of listeners or as a visual cue when learning to read print.  The large text and abundance of illustrations make this cute, but suspenseful, story a quick read for all ages. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR by E.  K. Johnston.  Penguin Random House Books, 2016.  245p.  ISBN 978-10199458-0 $17.99 hc.    Gr. 9-12    TN FIC

It's the summer before senior year.  Hermoine is the captain of her cheerleading team, and this is her last summer at cheerleading camp.  She wants it to be perfect.  It is.....until the Friday night party when she's drugged and raped.  As her friends grapple with academics, college applications, relationships, and their own emerging sexuality, Hermoine has the additional responsibility of seeing a psychiatrist to try to remember the sexual attack.  Her life is now full of decisions.  What if she's pregnant?  What if she remembers?  Should she prosecute the attacker and relive the whole incident?  There's a lot to think about for high school readers.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

GRUMPY PANTS by Claire Messer.  Chicago, IL:  Albert Whitman & Co., 2016. 32p.  ISBN 978-08075-30757 hc. $16.99    Preschool-K   E PIC

Penguin was in a bad mood and "didn't know why."  He tried to shake off his mood by removing every layer of his clothing, including his grumpy boots and grumpy socks.  He took a bath to wash off his gumpriness and got ready for bed, following all his favorite routines.  These self-soothing activities seemed to work because Penguin is shown on the last page, fast asleep and ready for a new day.  What a great way to show young children how to work through their emotions and make every day better than the one before.  Messer also provided the linoleum print illustrations that feature Penguin on a stark background, keeping him the center of the story.  One little eyebrow, along with body posture, does the trick to convey Penguin's mood perfectly.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK SCIENTIST by Sy Montgomery.  Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2016. 70p.  ISBN 978-0544-352988 hc. $18.99   Gr. 3-6   JNF
The animal scientist series continues with a study of the great white shark, led by Greg Skomal, a shark biologist from Massachusetts.  The study, written like a journal, is supplemented with color photos of sharks in their ocean environment, the science boat, the tagging process, and some of the animals on the food chain.  Easy to read and packed with shark information, this book includes a bibliography and web resources for further research, along with a complete index.  Visit the new Scientists in the Field website at www.sciencemeets adventure.com for more info on spiders, cheetahs, seahorses, whales, snakes, and elephants, to name just a few.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CLARK IN THE DEEP SEA by R.W. Alley.  New York: Clarion Books, 2016.  32p. ISBN 978-0547-906928 hc. $14.99   PreS - Gr. 2   E PIC

Clark and his friends happily play together on the front porch because it's too rainy to go further.  Suddenly a stuffed bear, the star of a pretend circus routine, falls off the porch into the wetness and the world of imagination kicks in, as the porch becomes an ocean liner surrounded by water.  Clark dashes from the porch to complete a deep sea rescue of the bear as the author/illustrator turns common objects from the yard into an ocean environment.  The transformation is accomplished with soft watercolors, accented with pencil and acrylics for well-defined, eye-catching illustrations that stretch from one page to the next.  If you enjoy this imaginary adventure, read more in this delightful series featuring Clark's friends:  GRETCHEN OVER THE BEACH, MITCHELL ON THE MOON, and ANNABELLE AT THE SOUTH POLE.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MAYBE A FOX by Kathi Appelt.  Atheneum Books: New York, 2016.  262p.  ISBN 978-14424-82425 hc. $16.99    Gr. 4-7   JUV

Like two peas in a pod, Sylvie and Jules do everything together, expanding their close circle to their father and their favorite neighbor, Sam.  Sylvie and Jules' dad is overprotective since the loss of his wife when the girls were very young, and one of those rules is to stay away from the river.  One snowy morning, Sylvie breaks the rules and dashes down a path near the river, and disappears without a trace. What begins as contemporary juvenile fiction in Part I, morphs into Appelt's trademark fantasy genre featuring animal personification. The fox family's story begins when one of the three kits begins to gravitate from the fox den toward the human family, seeking out Jules.  There's a lot of loss and heartbreak in Jules' family for her mother and sister.  In Sam's family, his older brother tries to cope with life after combat and the loss of his best friend.  The survivors try to come to resolution with death so they can go on with life...and the young fox plays an important role.  There's a little mystery, a little mysticism, and a few surprises for readers.  By the way, tears are guaranteed to flow while reading this tender story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

X: A NOVEL by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2015. 384p. ISBN 9780763669676 hc. $16.99   Gr. 9-12   TEEN FIC
Categorized as historical fiction, X: A NOVEL is the storyteller’s version of Malcom X’s biography.  The book is written by Malcolm Little’s daughter, who had knowledge of family stories, along with Magoon, award winning author of young adult novels, which may explain why this book was crafted as a work of fiction.  The story, told in first person narrative, covers the years from 1930 to 1948, flashing back to Little’s childhood surrounded by family in Lansing, Michigan during the Great Depression.  His traditional upbringing disintegrates with the loss of Malcolm’s father, the redistribution of the family by social services, and his experiences in foster care.  As a teen, he becomes involved in illegal activities and heads out to the east coast, ending up in Harlem and finally in prison.  With the help of the authors, Malcolm’s story becomes more than just a case study in American history.  It’s a story full of childhood memories and emotions experienced by a young black man in segregated America, leaving clues as to why he transformed into Civil Rights leader, Malcolm X, in his later years.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys. New York:  Penguin Young Readers, 2016.  400p.  ISBN 9780399160301 hc. $18.99  Gr. 7-12  YA FIC

The recipe for great historical fiction begins with an author who just happened to be doing some family research and discovered the sinking of the ocean liner, Wilhelm Gustloff, near the end of World War II (1945), an incident that is not well known by Americans.  Add four substantial characters with different backgrounds and perspectives (and secrets of their own) who each tell their tales, filling in bits of history to make the story complete. Florian, Joana, and Emilia are all refugees who end up traveling together to reach the northern coast of Poland, where they can board a ship to Germany - and safely.  The journey is arduous, especially for Emilia whose pregnancy becomes more apparent with every day, and forces them to modify the social and moral boundaries of their previous lives.  The fourth character is Alfred, a young follower of Hitler and a bully, who thinks he’s finally found his place in the world as a Nazi supporter.  Four stories intertwine to narrate the suspenseful journey through occupied territory to gain a chance for survival on the refugee ship.  In addition to the historical information at the back of the book, learn more about the Wilhelm Gustloff at www.wilhelmgustloff.com.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI