Tuesday, September 25, 2018

THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS by Tae Keller.  New York:  Random House Books, 2018. 304p.  ISBN 978-1524715663    Gr. 3-6    JUV

Natalie has enough to worry about at home with her botanist mother shutting herself in her room, her father telling her to "give her mother some space," and feeling like she's on her own.  Luckily, she has her best friend Twig around to liven things up and make school bearable.  Her science teacher, Mr. Neely, is the most cheerful man alive and gets on Natalie's nerves sometimes, like his latest suggestion to add Dari (one of the smartest kids in the room) to her and Twig's lab group.  But he also scores points with her by telling the group about an egg drop competition they could enter for prize money.  Natalie could use that money to get her mom interested in plants again and act like a mom again.  In spite of their best efforts, the lab group loses the competition and comes up with a risky scheme to steal a rare orchid seed from a research lab.  Things get really out of control before they get better.  This is one of the few books for children that talks about parents with depression and gives a point of view from the child. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao. New York: Simon Pulse, 2018. 320p.  ISBN 978-1481499101 hc. $16.99     Gr. 8-12    YA FIC

As she begins classes at MIT to become a doctor, Mei Lu realizes that she's not able to fulfill her Taiwanese parents' dream of a prestige medical career.  She's a germaphobe.  Her parents also want her to date someone rich and Taiwanese, get married, and have children.  Mei Lu is a dancer at heart with her own dreams to open a dance studio.  In the midst of this juggling act, Mei Lu meets an attractive, intriguing, Japanese student who seems to like her too.  How can she tell her parents that she needs an alternative plan, when they've already cut her older brother, Xing, out of their lives for becoming engaged to an American?  How can she re-connect with Xing, keep a relationship with her parents, and make a life of her own choosing?  The title, AMERICAN PANDA is a subtle way to tell readers that  American and Taiwanese cultures aren't easy to separate as black and white.  Mei Lu's life has a lot of blurry lines.  As an aside, pandas are native to Taiwan.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

KNOCK KNOCK by Tammi Sauer. Illus. by Guy Francis. New York:  Scholastic Press, 2018. ISBN 978-133811694-6 hc. $16.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

Bear is awakened by a "Knock Knock" on his door.  He replies, "Who's there?" only to find himself the recipient of a clever knock-knock joke.  The first joke is followed by five more until everyone has arrived at bear's house with a party sending him off for winter hibernation.  Bear's annoyance wears off as his friends tuck him into bed and read him a bedtime story.  Three months later, he's awake and ready to remind everyone "It's spring!"  Large illustrations in bright colors, along with very large and limited text, make this story perfect for read-alouds.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

SCIENCE COMICS:  ROCKETS DEFYING GRAVITY by Anne Drozd & Jerzy Drozd.  New York:  First Second Books, 2018.  ISBN 978-162672-8257 pbk.$12.99    Gr. 3-5   JUV GRAPHIC

Enjoy reading while learning the history of science.  Lewis is the first cartoon animal to introduce readers to the ancient scientists who worked with rockets.  He is soon joined by a cartoon menagerie who talk with Sir Isaac Newton about gravity, and quickly move on to other experts on physics and propulsion.  The authors show readers how rockets are used for entertainment (such as fireworks), in warfare, and for space exploration.  Along with the history of the rocket and its inventors, there's a timeline and glossary in the back of the book to tie the information to classroom curriculum.  This book is part of a series by various authors that cover the science of volcanoes, dinosaurs, bats, coral reefs, dogs, robots and drones....and more still to be published.  You won't run out of topics!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI