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