Tuesday, December 31, 2019

KILLER STYLE by Serah-Marie McMahon and Alison Matthews David.
Illus. by Gillian 
Wilson.  Berkeley, CA:  Owlkids Books, 2019.  48p. 
ISBN 978-177147-2531 hc.     Gr. 5-9   

Filled with gruesome topics, the subtitle "How Fashion has Injured, Maimed, 
& Murdered Through History," explains the concept of the book and the 
attraction for young readers.  Sixteen historic dangers to health that were 
driven by fashion include Lethal Lead Makeup, Risky Radium, and Fatal 
Footwear Fiascos.  Most fashion risks were due to toxic chemicals in makeup, 
hair dye, and color processing in clothing before scientists took more care in 
testing materials used and worn by humans.  Other fashion trend tragedies, 
such as too long scarves and too tall shoes, could have been avoided by public
refusal to wear them, but we humans are slaves to fashion.  Each two-page
spread is filled with photos and block prints that enhance the reading 
experience and keep the pages turning. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

THE UNDEFEATED by Kwame Alexander . Illus. by Kadir Nelson. New York:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.
 32p.   ISBN 978-1328780966 hc. $17.99   Gr. 1-6    E PIC

Readers won't find text that is more meaningful than the poetic lines of Kwame Alexander 
as he briefly leads readers through years of black history.  His words have impact on readers 
of all ages.  He highlights the accomplishments of notable black people and doesn't forget 
the cruelty experienced by others with dark skin.  Three full-page spreads emphasize racial 
injustice with a single, repeated sentence, "This is for the unspeakable," combined with 
Kadir Nelson's brilliant oil illustrations depicting powerful images that complement the text.  
The words and images resonate with readers of all races.  An index of historical figures and 
events completes the emotional literary journey created by this award winning team of 
storyteller and artist.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo. New York: HarperTeen, 2019. 400p.
ISBN-13: 978-0062662835 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    YA

Acevedo follows up the poetry of THE POET X with a beautifully written novel about a teen mother with a flair for food.  Emoni Santiago, of Puerto Rican heritage, lives in Philadelphia with her grandmother (Buela), attends highschool, cares for her two-year-old daughter, and works part-time to help with expenses.  She cooks for fun and intuitively chooses spices that reflect her emotions into the food.  When a culinary arts curriculum becomes available at school, Emoni enrolls, but is soon disillusioned with the emphasis on following directions and the lack of creative freedom.  After almost dropping out, her best friend and grandmother convince her to stay with the program.  As a result, she takes a class trip to Spain and is immersed in amazing restaurant experiences, while being mentored by renowned chefs.  At the same time, one of Emoni's culinary classmates wants to date her, forcing her to think about her future with a child, college and career, and her family and friends.  Acevedo's writing skillfully conveys the emotions of a teenager trying to make good decisions the will affect the rest of her life.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

MOTH: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas. Illus. by Daniel Egneus.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.  48p.  ISBN 978-1547600205 hc. $18.99     Gr. 2-5    JNF 595.78

The peppered moth, scientifically known as, biston betularia, can be found in light form, with mottled black and white wings that provide camouflage against tree bark, and those in dark form which are essentially black.  The black moths were easy to spot and became easy prey for bats and birds.  Over time, the Industrial Revolution deposited soot and pollution on the trees, making them darker in color.  As the trees changed color, the black moths were able to hide from predators and became the more dominant color of the moths.  After even more time, the factories cleaned up their pollution, the trees shed their dark bark, and the light form of peppered moth again began to increase in number .  Even though the title refers to "A Story of Evolution," the story and it's informational background emphasize that natural selection is the process that leads to evolution, which leads to adaptation of a species to better survive its surroundings.  This books is very easy to understand and wraps up with an adaptation of its own beginning sentence.  MOTH also features an eye-catching, reflective cover and is filled with magnificent illustrations that capture your thoughts, even after you finish reading.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

CROC & TURTLE: SNOW FUN by Mike Wohnoutka.  New York: Bloomsbury, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-168119637-4 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr.1     E PIC

First of all, who can resist the big bubble eyes on Croc and Turtle?  The art, with it's muted gouache backgrounds, draws the reader's eye to the brightly colored action of two good friends who just happen to be a turtle and a crocodile.  As they meet for a fun-filled day, the friends have lists of activities to do.  That sounds good, until they realize that all Turtle's activities are for indoors and Croc's are for outdoors.  Determined to complete both lists, Croc soon declares boredom with indoor activities and Turtle says, "...outside is too cold and too dangerous!"  They try to spend the day by themselves, but become lonesome for each other.  Using all their ingenuity, Croc and Turtle come up with a surprising solution to combine their very different preferences.  Their commitment to work together is a tribute to friendship.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

DARK SKY RISING: Reconstruction and The Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Tonya Bolden.  New York:  Scholastic Focus, 2019.  225p.  ISBN 978-133826204-9 hc. $19.99     Gr. 5-8     JUV NF  973

Gates and Bolden lead readers through ten chapters of Civil War history, beginning with the politics of a country split along state lines by those in support of slavery and those opposed to the ownership of fellow human beings.  Although the abolitionist states in the north officially won the Civil War, anti-slavery laws were not enforced in the south.  The attitudes of white people in the south were also slow to change, enabling the enactment of laws to prevent black voters from casting ballots; thus, shutting them out of government.  The Ku Klux Klan, a group of white racists who killed and terrorized black citizens, was formed as an underground organization, but often performed unlawful acts with consent of law enforcement agencies.  Despite this open aggression, black leaders such as Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. DuBois emerged to voice their concerns about the status of blacks in America.  The extensive research carried out by Gates and Bolden covers the years 1862 to 1915, including historic photographs and drawings throughout.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ILLEGAL by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc. 2018. 122p. ISBN 978-149266214-3 hb. $19.99     Gr. 7-12  YA Graphic

Step into this harrowing tale of twelve-year-old Ebo’s journey from his poverty stricken village in Ghana to find his family.  The story flips back and forth between present day and two years ago when Ebo left his village to catch up to his brother, who was looking for their sister, who was on her way to Europe.  The flashbacks track the brothers north across the arid terrain of the Sahara Desert in Africa amid dangerous confrontations with police, soldiers, and dishonest guides.  The journey taking place in present day is the last leg of the journey across the water, presumably the Mediterranean Sea.   Ebo and his brother, Kwame, start out on a raft, get picked up by a freighter, and use their problem solving skills to stay out of harm’s way.  Ebo is full of optimism and readily shares his gift of song, despite the hardships he’s faced on this arduous trek.  As readers share the injustice, heartbreak, and physical challenges faced by Ebo and Kwame, they cannot help but feel empathy for all who are forced from their homes into unfamiliar surroundings and dangerous situations.  The graphic novel style of storytelling highlights the plight of immigrants with its unforgettable images.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

THE MUSIC OF WHAT HAPPENS by Bill Konigsberg. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2019.  ISBN 978-1338215502 hc. $17.99   Gr. 8-12     YA FIC

Konigsberg explores a new world of social acceptance for a same-sex relationship, while, at the same time, adding a sequence of secrets that could destroy a new romance before it has a chance to materialize.  Max meets Jordan at his deceased father’s food truck.  Jordan’s mom has been extremely depressed and can’t cope with the demands of a job. Worse than that, she’s been gambling and their house is in jeopardy of being repossessed.  Max steps in and works with Jordan to make the food truck profitable.  His secret is more difficult for him to reveal, but has a great message for high school students who are dating.  When someone says, "No," what does it mean?
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN by June Sobel. Illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith.   New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328-618405 hc. $17.99      PreS-Gr.1      E PIC

If you enjoyed reading THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN (2006) and THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN ROLLS ON! (2018), you will want to find a copy of the newest Christmas Eve edition.  The train conductor once again rounds up the excited passengers, who are treated to sightings of Santa's sleigh and reindeer as they pass through a village of gingerbread houses.  After reaching their North Pole destination, the goodnight train returns the sleepy children back to their homes.  The rhyming story is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations in bright colors that make readers want to ride the train themselves.  Sweet dreams!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

THE OPPOSIE OF ALWAYS by Justin Reynolds. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2019. 457p. ISBN 978-006274837-9 hc. $17.99    Gr. 8-12    Y.A. FIC

The first chapter gives readers a glimpse of Jack’s life, which revolves around his lifelong best friends, Jillian and Franny, and his new love interest, Kate.  Unfortunately, Kate has sickle cell anemia and dies shortly after they meet.  Jack’s story evolves into a time loop beginning on the day Jack meets Kate.  He tries to find ways to save her, while lying to friends and family, gambling with information from the future, and meddling in family affairs he shouldn’t - then starting the scenario all over again.  He even refers to the movie "Ground Hog Day," in which actor Bill Murray wakes up every morning and tries to redo his routine, until he learns valuable life lessons.  Essentially, Jack does the same in a new, fresh setting for teens.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

SUPERGIRL: THE SECRET FILES OF KARA DANVERS by Warner Brothers. New York: Amulet Books, 2019. 192p.  ISBN 978-1419731709 hc. $16.99      Gr. 4-7     JUV

This really is the ultimate guide to the TV hit show, Supergirl. It includes Kara's private journal entries, notes, and a list of heroes and villians in National City, along with details of their superpowers.  Readers will also find episode guides for seasons 1 - 3, making it perfect for superfriends of the series!
Crystal Jacklovitz, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist, Dickinson County Library

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

LOVE AND THE ROCKING CHAIR by Leo and Diane Dillon. New York: Blue Sky Press, 2019. 40p.  ISBN 978-1338332650 hc. $18.99      PreSchool - K     E PIC

This simple story centers around a rocking chair in vibrant, colorful paintings, characteristic of most  picture books by the Dillons.  A family awaiting their first child buys a rocking chair for the baby's room.  As the child grows, he uses the rocking chair in a variety of ways, but eventually stores it in the attic.  The chair comes out of storage when the boy becomes a man and expects a baby of his own.  This is a beautiful story of the life cycle, as one generation makes way for the next.
Crystal Jacklovitz, Early Elementary Literacy Specialist, Dickinson County Library

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

ELEPHANT THIEF by Jane Kerr.  New York, Scholastic, 2017. 320p. ISBN: 978-1-338-18843-1 hc. $16.99     Gr. 4-8    JUV FIC

A mute street orphan known only as "Boy", a chance encounter with a famous elephant and their epic journey to Manchester take place in one weeks time. Full of mystery, twists and turns as "Boy" learns to trust and find friendship, he evolves into Danny, a brave elephant trainer. This captivating page turner is loosely based on a true story of Maharajah, an Asian elephant who walked from Edinburgh to Manchester, Scotland in one week in 1870. Adventurous young readers will enjoy this book.
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Library Director, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

DON’T CALL ME CRAZY: 33 Voices Start the Conversation About Mental Health edited by Kelly Jensen. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2018. 225p. ISBN 978-161620781-6 pbk.$16.95   Gr. 8-12   NF 616.89

The editor has compiled an interesting anthology of personal essays from people who experience mental health issues every day of their lives.  The book is divided into five chapters that begin with a definition of “What’s Crazy?” and then works through “Where Crazy Meets Culture,” “The Mind-Body Connection,” and “Beyond Stress and Sadness” before reaching equilibrium with “To Be Okay.”  Adam Silvera and Shawn David Hutchinson, both authors of young adult fiction, suffer from forms of depression and incorporate some of those feelings and experiences into their own writing. Gemma Correll, cartoonist, incorporates a graphic of her “Train of Overthinking,” that loops through a town of emotions, into her story.  The dynamic Resources section includes books, films, and websites for further exploration.  Jensen wants readers to start talking and understanding the myriad ways mental health affects the lives of our family, friends, and ourselves; and then “Keep the conversation going.”
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

ISLANDBORN by Junot Diaz.  Illus. by Leo Espinosa.  New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019. 48p.  ISBN 978-0735229860 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3      E PIC

Lola's class assignment was to "draw a picture of the country you are originally from," which seemed appropriate in her class of first-generation immigrants in a large city.  Lola was from "the Island," but left with her mother as an infant.  She had no memories of her birthplace and nothing to draw.  She decided to talk to her neighbors - all from the same place in the Carribean.  The empanada merchant told Lola about the music, her older brother remembered drinking milk from the coconut, a classmate's mother remembered the colorful clothing and buildings, and her grandmother loved the island's sandy beaches. Lola's family left the island because a hurricane destroyed their home.  Without really saying so, the author infers that many other people left the island because of a repressive political regime.  Although the island is not specifically named, Espinosa leaves visual clues in the illustrations that lead to the island's identity as the Dominican Republic.  Back in class, Lola's teacher hung all the drawings on the wall and described them as windows looking at "one another's first homes."  Lola's drawing was missing from the wall, because she learned so much from the project that she drew a whole book of pictures about her first home.  This strikingly colorful book about social justice received the 2019 Pura Belpre Honor Illustrator Award, and will delight readers from all countries.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

WHAT IS INSIDE THIS BOX? by Drew Daywalt.  Illus. by Olivier Tallec.  New York:  Orchard Books, 2019. 45p. ISBN 978-133814386-7 hc. $9.99     Gr. K-2     E READER

Meet Monkey, who sports a red baseball hat, and Cake, a talking piece of cake with a red cherry on top.  These friends explore the parameters of relationships while they go about the everyday business of being youngsters.  Imaginations run wild when Monkey guards a large cardboard box that holds a magic cat inside.  However, the cat disappears when the box is opened.  As Cake questions the logic of how this magic works, he decides that his imagination could make this trick work with any animal - even a dinosaur.  The conversation is witty, and the concept is interesting - especially for developing brains that still view the world literally.  Adults will also enjoy these books.  Presently, there are two more books in this series, I LOST MY TOOTH! and THIS IS MY FORT!, just as entertaining as the first.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

WHEN SUE FOUND SUE: Sue Hendrickson Discovers Her T. Rex by Toni Buzzeo. Illus. by Diana Sudyka. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019. 32p. ISBN 978-1419731631 hc. $17.99     Gr. 1-3    JNF 560.92

Buzzeo tells a straightforward story of a shy young girl who loved to discover things.  As a child, Sue Hendrickson found lost treasures by being observant and by reading books about the observations of others.  It only makes sense that a curious child from Munster, Indiana would visit the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and delight in the treasures found there in numerous exhibits.  As an adult, Sue became an underwater explorer and hunted for sunken treasure.  Later, she joined an archaeological dig in South Dakota, and was the first to spot the fossilized bones of a tyrannosaurus rex.  After photographing and recording and numbering every bone, as archeologists and paleontologists do, the dinosaur turned out to be one of the most complete T. Rex skeletons ever found.  The skeleton, also named Sue, is displayed at the Field Museum of Natural History to this very day.  Sudyka illustrated the second half of the story with contrasting layers of South Dakota rock in the background, but the spread on pages 27-28, showing what the bones looked like as they were unearthed, is the most striking of all.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

NUGGET & FANG GO TO SCHOOL by Tammi Sauer.  Illus. by Michael Slack.  New York: Clarion Books, 2019  32p.  ISBN 978-132854826-9 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

The unlikely friendship of Fang (a shark) and Nugget (a minnow) continues when Nugget invites his friend to Mini Minnows Elementary School.  When the first day of school arrives, the uncertainty of a new environment overwhelmes Fang, but the calm logic of Nugget gives him confidence.  He has trouble with math, reading, science - and just about every subject, but finishes the day out anyway.  The teacher awards Fang a gold star(fish) for his effort, which puts a big smile on his face.  Most importantly, he has a great day because of his best friend, Nugget.  Find out how this fishy friendship began in NUGGET & FANG: FRIENDS FOREVER--OR SNACK TIME? (2013).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

HELLO LIGHTHOUSE by Sophie Blackall.  New York:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018.   48p.  ISBN 978-0316362382 hc. $18.99     PreS-Gr. 3      E PIC

Readers in the Great Lakes area, as well as those on the east and west coasts, have always had an affinity for lighthouses, even though they are now mechanically operated with electric lights.  Writing in metered verse, Blackall takes readers back in time to the life of a lighthouse keeper, working alone in a remote tower keeping the Fresnel lighthouse lens clean for ships to see its warning light. The keeper is soon joined by his wife who helps take care of him and assists with the duties of the job throughout the seasons.  Eventually a child arrives, as does a letter telling the keeper and his wife that the conversion to automated lighthouses has begun.  The family moves to the mainland, but stays within sight of their beloved lighthouse.  The illustrations visually depict the constant motion of wind and water, contrasting between gentle waves and the crashing power of a storm surge.  Even the circular vignettes of life inside the lighthouse are surrounded by water currents moving the story along.  It's no surprise that Blackall received the 2019 Caldecott Medal for the beautiful illustrations in soft colors and layers of texture.  She also holds a 2016 Caldecott Medal for illustrating FINDING WINNIE written by Lindsay Mattick.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham and Charles Waters.  Illus. by Sean Quals and Selina Alko.  Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 2018.  40p.  ISBN 978-151240442-5 hc. $17.99  Gr. 3-6  JNF 811.6

It all starts when Mrs. Vandenberg assigns "The Poem Project," a classroom activity that pairs Charles with Irene, resulting in an awkward partnership between two students with few shared interests or experiences.  Charles lives in a black community and Irene lives in a white neighborhood (note that these are also the authors' names).  Since they don't have much in common, they decide to write about experiences from their everyday lives.  The separate poems coming from their individual perspectives show how family culture influences the way they see the world and interact with it.  Each two-page spread features a poem from Irene on one side, with Charles' contribution on the other side.  The titles of poems by Charles are printed in black ink, while Irene's are white against a colored background.  When they decide to write about buying new shoes, their experiences under the supervision of very practical parents is similar, as well as their conversations with their supportive families; but their relationships with other students in the classroom are challenging in different ways.  They both want to fit in, no matter what their skin color is or where they live.  As they write about their daily experiences, they begin to understand each other as individuals - and as friends.  Mrs. Vandenberg must be pleased with the results of her assignment.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

STRETCH TO THE SUN: From a Tiny Sprout to the Tallest Tree on Earth by Carrie A. Pearson.  Illus. by Susan Swan.  Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-1580897716 hc. $16.99    Gr. K-3    JNF 634.9

New growth sprouts from the trunk of a fallen giant redwood tree.  With rain, sunlight, and nutrients from the forest soil, it grows to its full height of more than two hundred feet.  Over the centuries, the forest remains a home to numerous animals and birds. It faces danger from storms, fire, and in the twentieth century, from loggers with huge metal machinery.  Thanks to the efforts of conservationists and the National Park Service, the Redwood National Park protects 120,000 acres of redwood forest in northern California.  Swan's illustrations, created with digital collage, add color and motion to each page.  There's plenty of action as bright hues accent the trees and plants, while allowing readers to find the muted wildlife half-hidden around the edges.  Pearson, author of A WARM WINTER'S TAIL (2012) and A COOL SUMMER'S TAIL (2014), identifies her books as "informational fiction" because, although they are well researched and full of facts, they are presented in story form.  See the resource pages in the back for even more information.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

SUBSTITUTE TROUBLE by Karen English. Illus. by Laura Freeman. New York: Clarion Books, 2013. 108p. ISBN: 978-054761565-3 hc. $5.99, Gr. 1-4 JUV
Deja is distressed when her teacher has an accident and a substitute teacher takes over. The first substitute teacher struggles with some students who decided to create chaos in the classroom. Deja and her friend Nikki have to decide whether they are going to join in, just sit back and watch, or find a way to help the substitute teacher. They decide to help and it goes awry.  The second substitute teacher is more authoritarian and the chaos is contained.  The book ends abruptly when Deja's teacher returns to school. This is book 6  in a series of books about Nikki and Deja - two African American friends.
Jolene Hetherington, Teacher, Munising School Public Library, Munising, MI

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A HEART IN A BODY IN THE WORLD by Deb Caletti.  New York: Simon Pulse, 2018.  358p. ISBN 978-1-4814-1520-0 hc. $18.99     Gr. 9-12     YA

Annabelle Agnelli is getting ready to graduate from high school, when an incident at a restaurant sends her running down the road to the next town.  This would seem extreme, except that she's already a long distance runner, and has been trying to run her problems away since last year when she experienced a traumatic event.  Annabelle calls her mom and her thirteen-year-old brother, Malcolm, to tell them that she has decided to run all the way to Washington D.C. because she has to work things out.  Against the objections of her very protective mother, and with the assistance of her Italian grandfather who loves to drive his RV around the country, she embarks on a 2,719 mile journey from Seattle to the nation's capital.  Her friends, Zach and Olivia, along with Malcolm, set up a GoFundMe page and publicize her run.  Readers won't find out the cause associated with the run until the end of the story, but it promotes good will from town residents along the way.  During each leg of the journey, Annabelle re-lives the events leading up to last year's trauma - filling in the back story for readers.  She has to find the courage to fight the current legislative system in order to create a society that allows women to set personal boundaries while, at the same time, show kindness and compassion to others.  Caletti tackles some timely issues that affect teens growing up in the twenty-first century.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

MARTIN RISING: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus by Brian Pinkney. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2018. 128p. ISBN 978-0545702539 hc. $19.99     Gr. 5-8     JNF 811.6
Except for “Sparkling-eyed Child,” an introductory poem about Martin Luther King’s childhood, and “Rejoice the Legacy,” which celebrates the designation of Martin Luther King Day on January 15th, the book zooms in on events taking place between February 1 and April 16, 1968.  Andrea Davis Pinkney begins with the death of city sanitation employees working in unsafe conditions, leading to a month-long strike in Memphis, Tennessee. As the strike drags on  and loses momentum, a friend calls Dr. King to visit Memphis and inspire the peaceful protests  of mostly black workers. His home-away-from-home was the Lorraine Motel, one of the few places where blacks were allowed to rent a room; and where he was ultimately assassinated. Pinkney sets the tone for the period with a running record of the unusually bad weather that spring. Her poems are filled with foreboding and peppered with prophetic King quotes. The text is complemented by the intensity of Brian Pinkney’s watercolor and ink illustrations. Notes and photographs of King’s last months on earth spell out the information alluded to in poems. The book concludes with a time line of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and, more specifically, the ten weeks covered in this book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough.  New York:  Dutton Books, 2018.  291p.  ISBN 978-073523211-2 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    Y.A.FIC 
This bit of historical fiction, which tells the story of 17 year-old Artemisia Gentileschi of Rome, highlights the young artist's seventeenth year. Artemisia lives to paint. She is far more talented with a brush than her father, who signs his name to the finished paintings before selling them, even though he insists that she work to improve her technique. When Artemisia's father sends an established painter, Agostino Tassi, to the studio to tutor her, the atmosphere changes from flirtatious to sexually aggressive. He rapes her and takes no responsibility for the incident. She's only a woman - someone's property. Artemisia has no rights, but insists on a trial anyway, where she submits to social humiliation and physical torture to prove her innocence. This story, written in verse, switches to prose whenever Artemisia remembers her mother's retelling of Biblical stories from the perspective of resilient women, such as Susanna and Judith. Artemisia takes inspiration from these women, who were also trapped in circumstances where men controlled their lives. The idea of perspective is front and center, in the retelling of Bible stories from a woman's point of view, in the creation of paintings with a feminine eye vs. that of a man, and the interjection of our modern-day expectations into a historical setting. Don't miss the Afterword for more information about this amazing Italian artist who was born four centuries too early for her independent thoughts.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

VIVID: Poems & Notes About Color by Julie Paschkis. New York: Henry Holt
and Company, 2018. 32p. ISBN 978-1250122292 hc. $17.99   Gr. K-2   J 811

This book of brief poems celebrates a rainbow of color, plus many of the shades
in between. The absence of color (white) and saturation of color (black) on paper,
plus the opposite effect with light rays, are also featured, completing the palette
of  visual hues. Although some poems are very short, such as “Diving into Long
Lake headfirst I go plummeting through light blue deep down low into indigo,”
they are visually supported by the whimsical illustrations on each two-page
spread.   Paschkis also includes an informational fact or two about each color,
integrating the science of color with the artistic beauty of color. The illustrations
are vivid, as promised in the title, proving to be a feast for the eyes.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Clarion Books has two new titles from author / illustrators who know how they want their stories presented.  There's a bit of magic in both, and the results are a pleasant surprise.

SUN by Alison Oliver.  New York: Clarion Books, 2019  32p.  ISBN 978-1328781628 hc. $17.99    PreS - Gr. 2    E PIC

Sun loved the game of soccer.  He was a very good player, and he loved cheers from the spectators.   His brother was an artist - creative all the time.  When Sun wasn't playing soccer, he felt like something was missing from his life.  He went on a walk, noticing nature's artistic creations, and met a fox.  They ran; they swam; they found recyclables on the beach, and used those materials to make art together.  There's inspiration and contentment in finding a balance of activities in life.  The author is promoting the arts with this story, as it certainly influenced her to become a writer and illustrate her own book.

LOTTIE AND WALTER by Anna Walker.  New York:  Clarion Books, 2019  32p. ISBN 978-1328470386 hc. $17.99  PreS - Gr. 2     E PIC

Lottie has been enrolled in swim lessons at the local pool for quite awhile, but she refuses to enter the water.  Would you jump in if there was a shark at the bottom of the pool waiting to eat you?  Almost at the point of giving up, Lottie gets a visit from Walter, the walrus, who is not afraid of sharks.  He also has loads of great ideas.  The day finally arrives when Lottie finds the courage to jump into the pool, thanks to the new confidence gained from her acquaintance with Walter.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo.  New York: HarperTeen, 2018.  361p.  ISBN 978-006266280-4 hc. $17.99.     Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

THE POET X is written in verse, and speaks to the power of poetry.  Like most of us, fifteen year-old Harlem sophomore, Xiomara or “X” embraces many identities.  She has a twin brother named Xavier, is a first generation immigrant from the Dominican Republic, and has developed into a tall, voluptuous teen who is constantly reminded of her sexuality by the rude comments of her classmates and her extremely religious mother’s overprotective admonitions about staying away from boys.   Xiomara shames herself for being attraced to classmate Aman, who likes the same music she does and keeps his hands to himself.   Her lifelong friendship with Caridad helps Xiomara navigate the boundaries between church, family, and individual expression.  When she can’t pretend to be quiet, pious, or chaste a second longer, she pours her emotions into her journal.  As her life begins to deconstruct around her, Xiomara accepts an invitation to the Spoken Word Poetry Club at school and finds the strength to share her words. 

The writing is full of metaphors and similes that create full images by using as few words as possible.  Acevedo divides the story with three Biblical verses that represent the importance of religion to Xiomara’s family. “In the Beginning Was the Word” reveals Xiomara’s background.  “And the Word Was Made Flesh” gives insight into her relationship with Aman, the acknowledgement of sexual temptation, and her resentment of rules for women imposed by the Catholic church.  “The Voice of One Crying in the Wilderness” recounts Xiomara’s quest to find her voice by writing the poems that express her thoughts.  The audio version of this story, read by the author, is even better than print, as listeners connect to the phrasing, the pacing of conversation, and accurate pronunciation of character names.   Acevedo has been recognized for this awesome novel with the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Printz Award, the Pura Belpre Award, and the Carnegie Medal for Children’s and YA Books.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI         

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

BASEBALL: WHO DOES WHAT? by Ryan Nagelhout. New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2018. 32p. ISBN 978-1538204207 hc. $19.95   Gr. 1-3   J796.357 NA
Nagelhout covers the basics of baseball starting with the rules, the playing field, and the player positions.  The chapter titled, “Who’s on First?” describes the strategy of a first baseman, which can also come in handy if you’re a runner on first base.  Strategies are also explained for the other bases and the outfield positions.  A Table of Contents and Index are in place to help find information quickly.  The page layout is brightly colored and consistent – a great way to learn the game.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

SUPERFAN’S GUIDE TO PRO BASEBALL TEAMS by Drew Lyon. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2018. 72p. ISBN 978-151578851-5 hc. $26.99    Gr. 3-5   J796.357 BR
Lyon highlights 30 baseball teams, from the Detroit Tigers to the Boston Red Sox to the San Francisco Giants.  Each has a two-page spread of photographs, superfacts, win/loss records, World Series Championships, Franchise Leader statistics, and the name of each team’s home baseball park.  Star players over the years are also featured – always in the uniform of the year they played. The book also includes a map of  major league teams in the United States and a page dedicated to the Tools of the Game: bats, baseballs, gloves, and uniforms.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

PAY ATTENTION CARTER JONES by Gary D. Schmidt. New York: Clarion Books, 2019. 217p. ISBN 978-0544790858 hc. $16.99     Gr. 4-6     JUV

Gary D. Schmidt, who wrote WEDNESDAY WARS, a 2008 Newbery Honor winner, and ORBITING JUPITER, which should have won a Newbery Award (in my opinion), scores again with Carter Jones taking center stage in this touching and humorous tale of a family unraveling at the seams.  Carter's adventure begins when he opens the front door to find an English butler, Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick, who was sent to his family by his deceased grandfather.  It's almost like the beginning of Mary Poppins, except this butler is an expert at the game of cricket; besides being "practically perfect" at household tasks.  The family is dealing with the death of Carter's brother, his dad's deployment to Germany, and the everyday stresses of school and home.  The butler manages to bring the neighborhood together with the formation of a cricket team by teaching the game from the ground up.  He also teaches readers about the game as he mends relationships between family and friends.  This story will make you laugh on one page and cry on the next.  Schmidt is known for skillfully writing about the complexity of relationships, especially for middle school and teen audiences.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A SQUIRRELLY SITUATION by Jacqueline Kelly. Illus. by Jennifer L. Meyer. Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2019.  100p,    Gr. 2-3    JUV

The same readers who enjoyed the adventure and humor of THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, Newbery Honor Book in 2010, will also like the Calpurnia Tate Girl Vet series.  This turn-of-the-century heroine always finds herself somewhere between the rules of the house and her overwhelming love for small creatures.  Her brother Travis, also an animal lover, is usually in trouble of his own making.  This time, he finds a baby squirrel that has fallen from the nest and brings it home to nurse it back to health.  Fluffy the squirrel and Thud, the new kitten in the house, think they are brothers, as well as family pets, and keep the family busy with their antics all summer long.  Travis takes center stage at the end of the story with a compassionate gesture toward an ostracized classmate.  The first of this five-book series is titled SKUNKED!, followed by COUNTING SHEEP, WHO GIVES A HOOT?, A PRICKLY PROBLEM, and A SQUIRRELLY SITUATION.  Meyer's charcoal drawings are subtle, but add to the reader's experience by showing what a farmhouse looked like in the early 1900's.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

HARBOR ME by Jacqueline Woodson.  New York: Nancy Paulsen books, 2018. 176p.  ISBN 978-0399252525 hc. $17.99    Gr. 4-8   JUV

Six diverse sixth graders, who have been the targets of school bullies, while also dealing with social issues at home, find themselves in a weekly ARTT (a room to talk) session without the usual dialog from their teacher.  After an uncomfortable first session, Haley comes up with an idea to record the individual stories of the group.  Everyone can share their personal history at their own pace.  Amari is from a caring African-American family who wants to protect him, but knows they must teach him about the dangers of being black in America - regardless of education or social status.  Esteban is under extreme stress because his Dominican father has been detained by ICE and could be sent back to his homeland any day.  Ashton is white, but his family is without economic or educational advantages.  Tiago and his family of Puerto Rican immigrants, is often harrassed and belittled because they converse in Spanish as much as they speak English.  Holly has been Haley's best friend since birth because their mothers were friends.  Since Haley's mom died, Holly's mother has included Haley in family activities and filled a void with stories about her mom.  Holly has willingly shared her many economic privileges with Haley, but can't sit still in class and has a hard time learning academic subjects.  Haley's story has been told in bits and pieces throughout the book, but comes to crisis as the uncle who raised her is ready to move on to a life his own.  He is actually making way for Haley's dad, incarcerated for the past decade, to step up to his role as father.  It's time for Haley to accept this change and grow with her new community of friends.  Woodson tackles several social and political issues, showing how children are also affected by injustice and prejudice.  Readers will perhaps find their own classmates in this timely story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

THE CRAYON MAN: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons by Natascha Biebow. Illus. by Steven Salerno.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-1328866844 hc. $17.99.   Gr. K-3    JUV NF 741.2

What do you do if you love, love, love bright colors, even though you work in a factory that makes black ink, black dye, and black shoe polish?  Edward Binney teamed up with his cousin, C. Harold Smith, and formed a new company that produced white chalk, gray slate pencil, and black crayon.  Binney's next challenge was to brighten his world by improving on brittle European crayons with the addition of paraffin wax and bright colors.  The company experimented with pigments and minerals to make new colors and shades of colors found in nature.  Eventually, the formulas were just right; and crayolas were packaged into boxes of eight.  Binney & Smith Crayolas won a gold medal for inventions at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.  Over the years, the colors have multiplied into boxes of 24, 48, and 120, but the product has maintained it's quality and appeal to children.  Find more factual information about the Crayon Man in the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE by David Litchfield. New York: Clarion Books, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328-595898 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-3    E PIC

Litchfield continues the story of THE BEAR AND THE PIANO with the same artistic flair evident in the rich colors and use of light and shadow in every two-page illustration.  The theme of "follow your dreams" is also found in both stories.  In the first book, Bear found a piano and honed his musical skill with his forest friends until he was ready to perform for audiences all over the world.  In this second book, Bear is still performing - claiming the listeners of Hector and his fiddle.  Hector decides to give up playing publicly and settles into a life at home....until he realizes that his dog, Hugo, has learned to play the violin and is delighting the neighbors with musical performances.  Bear also hears about Hugo's enthusiastic fiddle playing and invites him to join the show.  This reversal of roles between Hector and Hugo puts a strain on their friendship, as happens in almost all friendships over time.  Readers will want to follow the good example put forth by Hector, Hugo, and Bear in this heartwarming ending.  Although this book could be considered a sequel, both of these beautiful books are good reading on their own.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

LAFAYETTE! by Nathan Hale. New York: Amulet Books, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, 2018. 128p. ISBN 978-1419731488 hc. $13.99     Gr. 4-6     JUV GRAPHIC

It's amazing to see how Hale creates a complete graphic story with only the colors of black, white, red and various shades of gray and pink.  Hale writes an irreverent biography of the Marquis de Lafayette who was born to French nobility and became an orphan at the age of 13.  He followed in his father's footsteps and went on to lead a life of adventure in the military.  Unlike his father, who was killed in battle, Lafayette lived to become a military hero in the American Revolution.  Don't miss the tale within a tale, highlighted with a red border around the pages - visible by looking at the edge of the closed book. It's titled, "Benedict Arnold: Super Good Super Bad" and tells the famous story of America' most well-known traitor - in condensed form with half-sized story blocks. Although the Hazardous Tales series allows for artistic license in both writing and illustration, the information is historic. Readers will learn American history with even trying.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MY FOREST IS GREEN by Darren Labeuf.  Illus. by Ashley Barron.  Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-1771389802 hc. $16.99     PreS - Gr. 1     E PIC

Barron's cut paper collage provides a colorful, textured background for a young boy who loves the forest.  He describes the forest from a youngster's perspective, using descriptive words such as, "My forest is rough.  My forest is smooth," to match his experiences with different tree barks.  He incorporates the seasons to talk about "crispy" fall leaves, as opposed to the "soft" green leaves of summer.  The book also includes an inside look at the young nature lover's journal, revealing a watercolor page of invented color names to describe the plants and animals being referred to, such as "carefree red" for a ladybug and "tiptoe gray" for a bird walking by. At the end of the day, the boy brings the forest home with him by wallpapering his room in drawings from his journal.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Thursday, April 25, 2019

ENDLING:  THE LAST by Katharine Applegate.  New York:  HarperCollins Publishers, 2018.  400p.  ISBN 978-0062335524 hc. $17.99    Gr. 3-6    JUV

In this fast-paced fantasy for middle schoolers, Byx, a doglike creature who walks upright, can detect when anyone is lying, and has the ability to glide like a flying squirrel, is immediately on the run as she is pursued by human hunters.  Arrows whiz past her as she glides from the top of a cliff to rescue a wobbyk named Tobble, who becomes her fast friend.  The youngest of the litter of an almost-extinct species of dairnes, Byx returns home with Tobble in tow to find that the human hunters have killed her entire dairne community.  She is now an endling - the last of her kind.  All alone, she joins forces to travel with Khara, a human tracker who disguises herself as a boy for safety.  The two search for allies in a world where different species vie for political dominance; and find themselves in league with a tiger-like felivet and flying raptidons.  Natural enemies form partnerships in order to survive against others with evil intentions.  Applegate’s award-winning writing style claimed the Newbery Medal in 2013 for THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.  With other titles such as HOME OF THE BRAVE and ROSCOE RILEY RULES, readers can be confident that the Endling series will continue to be as dynamic as this first installment.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, April 19, 2019

LOVE by Matt de la Pena.  Illus. by Loren Long.  New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2018.  32p. ISBN 978-152474091-7 hc. $17.99    Gr. Pre-4    E PIC

There is no main character.  This story is everyone's story.  It's about love - a universally felt emotion that is expressed in different ways by different people from different cultures.  Some of us associate love with music, food, or nature; some with family and friends.  The author even takes readers through hard times when love is elusive.  All readers will relate to one or more of the situations.  Add Long's vibrant and textured illustrations for a total reading experience.  On the second-to-last page of the book, people are shown boarding a train for places unknown, accompanied by the love of those left behind.  What reader could feel sad when the bright raindrop-covered umbrellas make our eyes dance and our lips smile?  Readers will "love" this book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Saturday, April 13, 2019

WILD HORSE ANNIE: Friend of the Mustangs by Tracey Fern.  Illus. by Steven Salerno. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2019. 48p.  ISBN 978-0374303068 hc. $17.99   Gr. 1-4    E PIC

Consider this a visual version of WILD HORSE ANNIE AND THE LAST OF THE MUSTANGS: THE LIFE OF VELMA JOHNSTON by David Cruise (2010).  Salerno's illustrations bring the story to life with textured backgrounds and outlined figures that pop off the page.  Horse lovers will appreciate the many mustangs portrayed with accuracy and beauty.  Horse lover, Velma Bronn Johnston, interacted with mustangs as a child, but was interrupted in her eleventh year when she caught polio.  The disease left her with a bent spine and constant aches, but Velma never faltered in her love for horses.  One day she witnessed the cruel capture of mustangs which were then sold to the slaughterhouse for profit, and decided to take action to protect the horses.  She attended town meetings, spoke to the Nevada Senate, and wrote letters to government lawmakers.  She soon earned the nickname "Wild Horse Annie" and engaged the help of school children to join her in writing letters to the lawmakers in Washington D.C.  After Velma's twenty-year campaign, the U.S. Congress passed a federal law to protect wild horses on public lands in 1971. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, April 7, 2019

RED LIGHT, GREEN LION by Candace Ryan.  Illus. by Jennifer Yerkes.  Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2019.  32p.  ISBN 978-152530015-8 hc. $16.99    Gr. K-3    E PIC

This entire story takes place on a city corner while lion waits for the stop light to change from red to green. The experience becomes a word game as lion repeats the phrase, "Red light, green li..." and imagines what could happen with other words instead of "light."  The creative wordplay is perfectly supplemented by Yerkes' line drawings that consistently feature the stoplight and delightfully illustrate the "li..." words.  Once the red fireflies leave the light and the green fireflies replace them, the story comes to a conclusion.  Parents and teachers may want to model some language activities from this playful text.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, April 1, 2019

BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE by Brian Selznick and David Serlin.  Illus. by Brian Selznick.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2018. 190p.  ISBN 978-133818061-9 hc. $16.99    Gr. K-4     JUV

Selznick comes through again with his characteristic textured pencil drawings that won the 2008 Caldecott Award for THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (2007) and additional recognition for WONDERSTRUCK (2011) and THE MARVELS (2015).  BABY MONKEY, PRIVATE EYE has easy, repetitious text in large print for beginning readers, alongside text-rich views of Baby Monkey's office with book titles and art prints that give lots of hints about the crime.  Turn to the back of the book for Serlin's contribution  - the documentation of historical artifacts in the office.  The pint-sized detective predictably looks for clues, writes notes, has a healthy snack, and dresses himself before quickly solving each crime.  Baby Monkey has a little trouble putting on his pants, an activity drawn so skillfully that readers will have to suppress a string of giggles.  When the detective finally gets out of his office, there's always a set of tracks leading to the thief.  Readers can try to guess the thief''s identity based on the size and pattern of the tracks.  This book is filled with fun - and leads to a sweet ending.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

THE DAY WAR CAME by Nicola Davies.  Illus. by Rebecca Cobb.  Somerville, Mass:  Candlewick Press, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-153620173-4 hc. $16.99     Gr. K-3     E PIC

On a typical day, a young girl begins her day at home with family and goes to school where she studies in the company of her friends.  "Just after lunch," the noise of war edges closer and, as war arrives, the bright illustrations quickly transition to gray clouds of confusion.  Separated from all that is familiar, the girl becomes a refugee and joins a crowd of others to find safety.  Davies presents a powerful story about the universal devastation of war and how hard it is to rebuild your life afterwards.  Upon finding a school, a symbol of safety for her, the girl is turned away at the door because the war left a shortage of chairs for students to sit on.  There is no room for her.  However, the other refugee children bring her a chair and welcome her to class.  As the illustrations depict color once again, readers regain a sense of hope for an end to all wars.  The impact of this story, along with Cobb's illustrations will stay with readers for a long time.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I WALK WITH VANESSA: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoet.  New York: Schartz & Wade Books.  32p.  ISBN 978-15247-6955-0 hc. $17.99     Gr. Pre-2     E PIC

Kerascoet, nom de plume for the French artists Sebastien Cosset and Marie Pommepuy, creatively illustrated this wordless book with the most thoughtful message of helping someone who is being bullied.  Vanessa, the only character with a name, enters a new school and separates herself from the others because she doesn't have a circle of friends yet.  One of the students targets the vulnerability of a new student and confronts her with a verbal attack.  The girl in the yellow dress witnesses the bully behavior, which troubles her the rest of the evening.  In the morning, she gets an idea of how to help Vanessa assimilate into the group of classmates.  Read the title to guess how she helps.  The theme of kindness is a learning experience for young children and a reminder for the rest.   This beautifully illustrated book conveys the message perfectly.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

WE DON'T EAT OUR CLASSMATES by Ryan T. Higgins.  Hew York:  Disney-Hyperion, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-136800355-1 hc. $17.99      Gr. Pre-1     E PIC

There's no doubt about how hard it is for young children to behave well when they start school.  There are a lot of new rules to follow.  Teachers can be heard saying, "We don't hit our classmates," or variations of that reminder for the first few weeks of class.  The author finds it much more fun to exaggerate the issue by introducing Penelope Rex, a T-rex dinosaur, who must be reminded not to eat her delicious classmates.  Eating classmates is not tolerated by her teacher, parents or the other students, who quickly learn to avoid Penelope.  Breaking bad habits proves difficult, until the classroom pet goldfish gives Penelope a fright by biting her instead.  Penelope decides to stick to the rules and make friends of her classmates instead of eating them.  The clever text is supported by colorful illustrations that make readers laugh out loud.  Don't miss the page showing Penelope in the cafeteria, tapping her plate and telling a classmate "You can sit here," in a speech bubble outside the regular text.  This book is pure fun.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  49855

Friday, March 8, 2019

HIGH by David Sheff and Nic Sheff.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2019.  263p. ISBN 978 0544644342 hc. $16.99     Gr. 7-12     NF 616.86

This book arrived in the mail today.  A library patron asked me to locate TWEAK: GROWING UP ON METHAMPHETAMINES yesterday.  Nic Sheff is an author/co-author of both books that talk about using drugs in your teen years and beyond.  It was a coincidence, but I was intrigued to know what he was telling teens about drug use.  I read the whole book - the scientific research of drug use written by Nic's father, bestselling author of BEAUTIFUL BOY and CLEAN: OVERCOMING ADDICTION, along side the autobiographical testimony of Nic, who experimented with alcohol, marijuana, pills, and methamphetamine.  He made the progression from experimentation to addiction, from treatment to sobriety, and relapsed to repeat the cycle again and again.  HIGH is separated into four parts:  America's Relationship with Drugs, Four Categories of Drugs, Living with Addiction, and The Struggle of Recovery.  The sections are short enough for intermittent reading, and the page design helps to lighten up the serious nature of the book. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Saturday, March 2, 2019

GHOST BOYS by Jewell Parker Rhodes. New York:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 224p. ISBN: 978-0316262286 hc. $16.99   Gr. 4-8   JUV

12 year-old Jerome has just been shot in the back by a white Chicago police officer who thought the black youth was carrying a real gun, rather than plastic one.  How can he be dead when he's still here with his family?  He soon realizes he's a ghost - and not the only one.  There's a whole army of ghost boys, wrongfully killed because of their skin color - including the ghost of Emmett Till, killed in 1955 for supposedly whistling at a white woman in the segregated state of Mississippi.  Emmett tells his side of the story and asks Jerome to join him in the mission to heal race relations, starting with his own family and that of the police officer who shot him.  His sister, grandmother, and parents can't see or hear him, but Sarah, the police officer's daughter can. Readers also learn Jerome's story, how he and his new friend Carlo were bullied at school, and the events leading up to the fatal shooting.  The book highlights racial profiling and provides updates to the Emmett Till murder, along with questions for group discussion.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, February 24, 2019

12 LUCKY ANIMALS: A Bilingual Baby Book by Vickie Lee.  Illus. Joey Chou.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2018.  ISBN 978-1250-184245 board bk. $7.99     Pre-K    JUV

Celebrate the Chinese New Year bilingually, with a board book in English and Chinese.  Lee introduces readers to the zodiac of astral animals in a twelve year cycle of personality traits.  Beginning with the rat, ox, and tiger, the book names each animal in English, in Chinese, and offers a phonetic version of the Chinese character (for English speakers).  The illustrations picture each animal alongside its name, opposite a full-view of the colorful creatures.  The layout is simple, but effective.  In addition to reading this book to babies and preschoolers, it's fun for older readers to compare themselves to the personality traits describing each zodiac sign.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, February 18, 2019

ACCIDENT! by Andrea Tsurumi. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. 32p. ISBN: 978-0-544-94480-0 hc. $17.99. Gr. K-3     E PIC

This lively book is full of fiasco, disasters, and calamities. It all begins when Lola knocks over a jug of juice on her parents' best chair.  Poor Lola panics and decides to run away to the library.  Along the way, she meets lots of other friends in similar situations.  This fun book emulates how a simple "I'm sorry," for a accident can prevent it from growing into something bigger; and yes, even adults have accidents!  Illustrations are large, fun and silly which adds to the story. Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

MICHELLE OBAMA by Alison Oliver.  Be Bold Baby series. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-32851989-4 bb. $9.99    PreS - K    JUV
OPRAH by  Alison Oliver.  Be Bold Baby series. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  ISBN 978-1-32851990-0 bb. $9.99    PreS - K    JUV

Be Bold Baby series offers a brief biography of well known female role models, in this case, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey.  These 20-page board books feature an inspirational snippet on one page and a personal quote on the next to give readers an idea of why the subject of the book is famous.  Hopefully, a caregiver or teacher will read the book to the intended preschool audience and add historical and cultural information to supplement the sparse text.   The inspiration for readers comes from the good works and positive attitudes of Michelle and Oprah.  Perhaps there will soon be additional titles in this series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

GOT TO GET TO BEAR'S! by Brian Lies. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 32p. ISBN: 978-0-544-94882-2 hc. $17.99. Gr. K-2 E PIC

Bear never asks for anything, but when she sends an urgentnote to Izzy to "please come at once," there is no refusing her! The weather is fine when the little chipmunk heads out with her lantern. But as the snow falls harder, she can go no further, until she meets her friend Scritch the squirrel who takes her above the snow thru the treetops. When the treetops end they have to stop, until Bingle lands nearby to fly them through the air .... and so the story goes until they all arrive at Bear's door. A funny book with beautiful illustrations, this story of friendship and celebration will delight youngsters.
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Thursday, January 31, 2019

HEY KIDDO: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett Krosoczka. New York: Graphix, 2018. 305p. ISBN 978-054590248-9 pbk. $14.99.    Gr. 7-12     921KR    Y.A.

Some kids are saved by music; some by reading or caring for animals. Jarrett was saved by drawing. His attachment to art could explain why his autobiography is also a graphic novel. As the subtitle implies, Jarrett's childhood experience is commonplace today, but still needs to be told. Jarrett was born to a single mom with a drug problem that led to stealing, dealing, and inability to hold down a job. Within a few years, it became apparent that the grandparents needed to take custody of Jarrett, with help from his aunts who were still in high school. Although Jarrett didn't find out all the facts of his parentage until he was also in high school, or that his mom had been in and out of jail for years on drug charges, he felt the  absence of his biological parents. He was very aware of the generational differences between his grandparents and his friends' parents. While his mother popped in and out of his life, his grandparents were always there for him, encouraging his ambitions with art classes and good schools. In spite of the angst that accompanies teenage years, Jarrett finally tracked down his father and tried to accept a new relationship with the man who denied his existence from birth. Jarrett's artwork effectively conveys his emotional journey through the first 18 years of his life with a balanced color palette of sepia and gray panels laid out in readable order. It's a game-changer!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, January 25, 2019

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS by Michael Mahin.  Illus. by Evan Turk. New York: Atheneum Books For Young Readers, 2017.  48p. ISBN: 978-1-4814-4349-4 hc. $17.99.     Gr. K-2     JUV 921

This book of inspiration and determination follows the challenges placed in the path of American blues legend, Muddy Waters, during his climb to fame. Raised by his grandmother Della, McKinley Morganfield, loved blues music from the time he was a small child.  He earned his nickname, Muddy, by playing in the mud of the Mississippi Delta.  He realized that sharecropping wasn't the life for him and left the South to play music in Chicago, where he blended the local jazz sound with the Delta blues to create his signature style of "Chicago Blues."  Evan Turk's bold, colorful collage illustrations supplement the text and bring music to the vibrant pages.   
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Saturday, January 19, 2019

QUIET WYATT: SUPER SHY - OR SUPERHERO? by Tammi Sauer. Illus. by Arthur Howard. New York: Clarion Books, 2018. 32p. ISBN: 978-0-544-11330-5 hc. $17.99 Gr. K-3 E PIC

Wyatt likes quiet! He prefers museums, non-speaking parts in the school play, and is a master at ninja camp. But when he is paired with noisy Noreen on a school field trip, he is pushed to the limit, breaking out of his shell to save the day. Despite all their differences, these opposites attract and become friends in the end. The illustrations enhance the story line and will keep early elementary listeners engaged in this fun story.
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Sunday, January 13, 2019

LIBBA: THE MAGNIFICENT MUSICAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH COTTEN by Laura Viers. Illus. by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-4521-4857-1 hc. $17.99 Gr. 1-3 JUV NF 921

Elizabeth Cotten was one of America's gifted folk musicians, but her story followed an unconventional and sometimes bumpy road. Learning to play guitar at a young age, self taught on a backwards and upside-down guitar, Libba (short for Elizabeth) also learned the banjo and wrote her most famous song, Freight Train, at age 11. She was not truly discovered until later in life when she came to work for the famous musical Seeger family. This story follows the life of an African American woman through the early 1900's and the challenges they faced because of their darker skin color. Though there were few opportunities for a young black female musician in her early years, Elizabeth put down the guitar until her 40's when she was finally able to spend the next forty years writing, touring and sharing her joy of music with the world.
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Monday, January 7, 2019

BRILLIANT DEEP: REBUILDING THE WORLD'S CORAL REEF by Kate Messner. Illus. by Matthew Forsythe. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2018.  ISBN: 978-1-4521-3350-8 hb. $17.99 Gr. 1-3 JUV 921

The story follows Ken Nedimyer's curiosity and love for the ocean. After watching his beloved coral reefs slow death in the Florida Keys, his determination spawned an idea for their rebirth. He now travels the world to help other countries rebuild their dying reefs. One good idea can spark and encourage another and then another... There is information on more books to read on the oceans and coral reefs, how kids can help, and where inquisitive readers can explore online. A vocabulary page is also included to help children understand some of the scientific language used.
Charlotte Dugas, Retired Director, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

THE SECRETS OF NINJA SCHOOL by Deb Pilutti. Henry Holt and Company, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-1-62779-649-1 hc. $17.99    Gr. 1-2   E PIC

Ruby looked forward to attending Master Willow's School for Ninjas to discover her own secret skill, as well as ninja jumps, kicks, patience, and stealth.  She practiced the ways of the ninja and tried to be patient while the other students found their secret skills.  Ruby did not find hers...until one night when everyone confided that they were all homesick. Ruby wanted to help the other students feel better, so she made them all a stuffed dragon to sleep with and told them stories - just her father did for her when she couldn't sleep. She found that her skills were there the whole time. The author shares Ruby's Dragon Softie pattern with readers who also want to develop a new skill.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI