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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

FLYING FROGS AND WALKING FISH by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2016.  32p. ISBN 978-0544-630901 hc. $17.99     Gr. 1-4     E PIC

How do animals move from place to place?  By walking, jumping, diving, climbing, slithering, gliding, pulsing, and more, animal species move on land, in the water, and through the air.  Jenkins and Page make it easy to learn scientific facts about locomotion with short bits of text next to every cut-paper collage.  Find additional information about each critter in the back of the book, listed in the order they appear in the book, accompanied by a miniature illustration for cross reference.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  49855