Monday, December 28, 2020

PACKS:  Strength in Numbers by Hannah Salyer. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 40p.  ISBN 978-1328577887 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     NF 591.56

Besides being an integration of science and language, this book is a visual sensation.  Beginning with full page spreads of a wolf pack, a buffalo herd, a huddle of penguins, and a pod of dolphins, Salyer proceeds to highlight a single noteworthy fact about the remaining animals, while still informing readers of the collective noun for each group.  The bright multimedia illustrations continue to enrich the reader's visual experience throughout.  All 24 animals are diverse and originate from habitats around the world. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, December 21, 2020

OVERGROUND RAILROAD by Lesa Cline-Ransome.  Illus. by James Ransome.  Stevens Point, WI:  Holiday House, 2020.  48p.  ISBN 978-082343873-0 hc. $18.99     Gr. 2-5    E PIC

Similar to the Underground Railroad that led slaves to freedom in the 1800’s, the Overground Railroad referred to a railway system that became part of the Great Migration, a movement of blacks from the segregated southern states to the integrated northern states.  Between 1910 and 1970, almost 50% the southern black population moved north for economic opportunity.  This is the journey of Ruth Ellen and her parents, who were fortified with a picnic lunch and a copy of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” as they boarded the train and rode it to New York City, where a hopeful future awaited them.  As with most Ransome team collaborations, the story reads well and the mixed media illustrations are stunning.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

ROSIE: Stronger Than Steel by Lindsay Ward.  New York: Two Lions, 2020. 48p. ISBN 978-1542017947 hc. $17.99 Gr. K-3 E PIC

Get ready for a behind-the-scenes look at World War II, especially the women who went to 
work in American factories, along with those in England who were recruited to provide 
food for their countrymen, while being blockaded by the German army.  In a Detroit factory, 
Rosie the tractor was being built to work on English farms, plowing the fields for new crops.  
After four long years of working farm fields with the Land Girls, Rosie's work came to an 
end, as did the war.  The Author's Note at the back of the book is packed with information 
about the women who assisted the war effort from their own hometowns.  The illustrations 
are mostly browns and greens, the colors of plants and soil, as well as military uniforms, but
interspersed with pops of color to depict the determined spirit of the workers.  Ward brings 
a new perspective to World War II with information about "Rosie-the-Riveter" and The Land
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, December 14, 2020

WOMEN IN THE OLD WEST by Marti Dumas. New York: Scholastic Press, 2021.
48p. True Book series. 
 ISBN 978-053113080-3 hc. Gr. 1-2 NF

Scholastic Press has released several series of classroom books for social studies, STEM 
and science, cultures, and more.  The books are full of photos and easy to read.  Dumas 
begins with "A Crossing of Cultures" and covers four chapters of what women experienced 
while living west of the Mississippi, from 1850 to 1910.  The first settlers traveled west by 
wagon train, taking about 5 months to reach their destination.  Women were responsible for 
cooking and childcare no matter where they settled, and lived with few amenities.  
Becoming very independent, many women owned land or businesses.  Wyoming was the 
first state to give women the right to legally vote.  Dumas also includes information about 
black and Native American women.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, December 7, 2020

CLOSE CALLS: How Eleven U.S. Presidents Escaped from the Brink of Death by Michael P. Spradlin.  New York:  Bloomsbury, 2020. 116p. ISBN 978-154760023-6 hc. $18.99   Gr. 4-6   J973.09

History can be so much fun when there are interesting stories to go along with the bare facts.  Stories breathe life into historic figures, like long-dead presidents, and give meaning to surrounding events.  From the very first president of the United States, George Washington, to George H.W. Bush, the 41st president, signs of bravery and leadership were part of their stories.  Most "close calls" were due to military service, but not all.  Ronald Reagan was ambushed by a potential assassin during his presidency.  This short book is broken into eleven chapters, and well documented with Notes and an index. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 30, 2020

 ERIC by Shaun Tan.  New York: Scholastic Press, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-1338622089 hc. $19.99     Gr. 2-5   Juv.

When Eric arrived as a foreign exchange student, his host family thought he had odd habits and a penchant for unusual activities.  He was defnitely detail-oriented.   Eric adjusted to the family.  The family adjusted to Eric and attributed his uniqueness to being "a cultural thing."  Tan's illustrations in charcoal and colored pencil bring a different perspective to the story than the text implies.  He challenges readers to acknowledge and accept the differences of  those around us.  It will make readers smile.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 23, 2020

 ADDY'S CUP OF SUGAR by Jon J. Muth.  New York:  Scholastic Press, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-0439634280 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr. 3     E PIC

Based on a Buddhist story of healing, Muth lets his giant panda, Stillwater, help a young girl begin the grieving process for her recently deceased kitten and constant companion.  Addy wants the kitten brought back to life, so Stillwater agrees to make a healing medicine.  He gives Addy a mission to borrow a cup of sugar from any neighbor who hasn't experienced the death of a person or pet.  As she compassionately listens to the neighbors' stories of loved ones passed, she also feels the support of community, as they have all had a similar experience.  Addy wisely realizes that the medicine was for her in order to cope with her loss.  As is usual in Muth's picture books, the watercolor illustrations are eye-catching, but serene.  Readers may remember Stillwater from his previous books, ZEN SHORTS (2005), ZEN TIES (2008),  ZEN GHOSTS (2010), and ZEN SOCKS (2015).  He and Addy are longtime friends.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 16, 2020

EMMY IN THE KEY OF CODE by Aimee Lucido. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  406p.  ISBN 978-0358040828 hc. $16.99     Gr. 4-7     JUV FIC

Every kid who’s moved to a new town knows how hard it is to adjust to a new house, new school, and new friends.  Sprinkle in some culture shock, as Emmy and her musical parents move all the way from Wisconsin to San Francisco, California.   Emmy loves music, but can’t sing like her mother or play piano like her dad; so she uses this change of scenery to remove herself from her usual music electives.  Instead, she signs up for a computer class.  Her soon-to-be friend, Abigail, also finds herself in computer class, and the two quickly begin to learn coding.   They spend lunch hours with their inspiring computer teacher, Ms. Delaney, who becomes seriously ill and puts their computer projects in jeopardy.  Written in verse to make the text emphasize important parts of this heartwarming story, Lucido also includes information on binary code and programming loops.  Text formatting and book design are exceptional.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 9, 2020

WOKE: A Young Poet's Call to Justice by Mahogany Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood.  Illus. by Theodore Taylor III.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2020.  48p. ISBN: 978-1250311207 hc. $18.99      Gr. 6-12      JNF 323.23

Wake your soul to the poetry of Browne, Acevedo, and Gatwood in 24 poems about activism, acceptance, forgiveness, understanding people who are different from you, and recognizing yourself in the world.  My favorite piece, "Unfurling People," describes immigration as "tucking your roots carefully into yourself and repotting in a different land."  These are timely topics, written with diversity in mind. Taylor's comic book illustrations with heavy black outlines spread across the length of two pages for maximum impact.  The very last of these inspiring poems is titled, "Woke," which readers will be after digesting the contents of such thoughtful words.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, November 2, 2020

ONE LITTLE BAG: An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020. 48p. ISBN 978-133835997-8 hc. $18.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

If the detailed pencil drawings aren't enough to draw readers into this exquisite wordless book, the story is crafted to make you think about conserving natural resources as a lifestyle.   Before the story officially begins, Cole takes readers through the process involved in making a single paper bag.  Watch the brown log move from the forest to the paper mill, where it's chipped into pulp and made into lunch bags.  One of those lunch bags ends up with a boy who uses it to carry his lunch, hold tools, protect his sheet music, transport cookies, and, as time goes on, to share items with his wife.  The lunch bag, once embellished with a heart from his mom, now has additional decoration from family members who also believe in reusing materials.  Cole ends the story with a heartwarming tribute to the life cycle.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

NOTHING IN COMMON by Kate Hoefler. Illus. by Corinna Luyken. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.  ISBN 978-054477478-0 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

Two neighbors had nothing in common, so they never greeted each other.  But they both liked to watch the old man and his dog.  One day the dog was lost and they each noticed how sad the old man was.  They searched high and low for the dog, first separately, then together.   Together, they found the dog and returned him to the old man, who was so happy to see him.  The neighbors were happy too, because they discovered they had a lot in common.  Luyken also wrote and illustrated MY HEART, which is a similar story of character accompanied by gentle images.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, October 19, 2020

MAD ABOUT PLAID by Jill McElmurry. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-035817244-4 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr. 2     E PIC

If you find a small plaid purse in the park, don't pick it up or sing "Piddly-Diddly-Doo!"  Madison did, and soon noticed that her clothing became plaid - even her hat and shoes.  Her mother, a nurse, soon determined that the problem was the very contagious plaid curse, which spread throughout the house and slipped outside to infect the whole town.  Madison, determined to reverse the curse, used the purse and her silly song to finish the job. If the colors and drawing style of this rollicking story remind you of THE LITTLE BLUE TRUCK, it's because McElmurry, who died in 2017, was also the illustrator of that series. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, October 12, 2020

 SWASHBY AND THE SEA by Beth Ferry. Illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020 32p. ISBN 978-0-544707375 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

Captain Swashby finally retired to the beach, after spending a lifetime at sea.  He planned a peaceful retirement there - just him and the ocean.  That plan was interrupted by new neighbors who set up their beach umbrellas and toys on the beach next to his dock.  He wrote unwelcoming messages in the sand to scare them off, but the waves washed away some of the letters and transformed the unkind words into fun phrases.  The neighbors were convinced that Swashby was a great guy.  It took an emergency to make Swashby realize that it might not be so bad to have friends.  Although the book is smaller than a normal picture book, the illustrations have soft and textured backgrounds with distinctive, expressive main characters that let readers know exactly what they're thinking.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, October 5, 2020

THE FARM THAT MAC BUILT by Tammi Sauer. Illus by Jackie Urbanovic. New York: Clarion Books, 2020. ISBN 978-0544113138 hc. $17.99.     PreS - Gr. 1      E PIC

This combination of "Old MacDonald" and "The House that Jack Built" is a blockbuster!  Welcome to Animal Theater, a spectacular line-up of farm animals who are performers at heart.  Soon the performances by pigs, cows, horses, sheep, and chickens are interrupted by circus and zoo animals who definitely do not belong on the farm.  Hilarity reigns at this farm theater production, and doesn't stop until the last page.  The watercolor illustrations are vibrant and stretch to full-page spreads.  There's a lot of detail to see on every fun-filled page. 

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, September 28, 2020

PLAYING POSSUM by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. New York: Clarion Books, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328782700 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

If you know an anxious child or adult, give them this book.  It's about Alfred, a possum afraid of everything.  Since he froze in place when confronted with every new situation , as opossums do, he was too afraid to make friends.  One day Alfred met Sofia, an anxious armadillo who curled up into a ball upon meeting him, as armadillos do.  Once they realized they both had nervous personalities, they relaxed with each other.  They also reached out to the turtle, skunk, and porcupine, who also used protective behaviors to keep others at a distance.  With patience and kindness, Alfred and Sofia made a lot of new friends.  The Author's Note and Glossary of interesting animals at the back of the book give readers insight about why the author chose these animals to write a story about compassion.  Reinhardt also did the vivid watercolor and ink illustrations that add beauty and humor to the story.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, September 21, 2020

 LOUIS by Tom Lichtenheld. Illus. by Julie Rowan-Zoch.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-1328498069 hc. $17.99      PreS-Gr. 2   E PIC

Think back on all the things a teddy bear does with its owner.  It's carried around the house and yard, gets dirty, has to be washed and dried, and needs to be patched up when life gets tough.  Louis has had enough!  There are plans for a getaway, but those plans are ruined every time one of the children appreciates their much-loved teddy bear.  What will Louis decide to do?  The colorful, creative illustrations look hand-drawn, but were done on an iPad.  They're large enough for a reading aloud in front of a group, and add an element of humor to the story.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, September 14, 2020


I DREAM OF A JOURNEY by Akiko Miyakoshi. Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-1525304781 hc. $16.99     Gr. K-3     E PIC

The hotelkeeper welcomes guests from all over the world.  They tell him stories of their adventures and send postcards from international travel destinations.  Each night he dreams of what it would be like to “get on a plane and travel from one new place to another.”  In the morning, he awakes and resumes his job at the hotel.  What would people think if he left in the night and didn’t show up for work?  Could he do it?  There are lots of questions at the end of the story that may serve as jumping-off points for writing a new ending.  Although readers may be able to change the course of the story, they’ll hardly be able to match the soft colors and hazy images that make the illustrations so beautiful.  This book is perfect for a read-aloud and discussion.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI  

Monday, September 7, 2020

 THE GIRL AND THE DINOSAUR by Hollie Hughes.  Illus. by Sarah Massini.  New York:  Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020. 32p.  ISBN 978-154760322-0 hc. $17.99     PreS-Gr. 2     E PIC

Zoom in on a small girl on the beach of a fishing village, digging for dinosaur bones and piecing them together on the sand.  When assembly is complete, she names him “Bony,” and promises to return the next day.  Before bedtime, she submits a wish to the night sky that Bony would come to life.  He does, and arrives at her window to take her to a” magical moonlit island” in the clouds where they meet other children and their magical dinosaurs.  As the adventure ends, and the children return to their beds, their dreams are filled with magic.  The beautiful watercolor illustrations are enhanced by collage prints that create texture, adding to the dreamlike quality of each image.  This book is perfect for lovers of dinosaurs and fantasy.

Lynette Suckow, Superioland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, August 31, 2020

WHY DO WE CRY? by Fran Pintadera. Toronto, Ontario: Kids Can Press, 2020. 32p. ISBN 978-1525304774 hc. $16.99      Gr. K-3     E PIC

Mario asks his mother why we cry, and gets many answers that depend on emotions and situations.  She talks about sadness, anger, feeling alone, and finally, explains tears of happiness.  Mario’s mom also tells him that tears speak a language of their own that is universally understood.  Before reading aloud, parents and teachers may want to jump to the back of the book to explore the science of tears.  Seven simple questions about the anatomy and chemistry of tears are will help field questions that come up during reading.  Gentle words and thoughtful illustrations emphasize the skills of parenting and the special relationship between mother and son. 

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, August 24, 2020

 MY OCEAN IS BLUE by Darren Lebeuf. Illus. by Ashley Barron. Toronto, Ontario: Kids Can Press, 2020. 32p.  ISBN 978-152530143-8 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2     E PIC

Sparse text conveys the numerous characteristics of an ocean, including the water, the beach, and the plants that grow in both environments.  Fish and birds are part of the ocean too.  What can a person do with an ocean?  Readers can find activities on, under, and beside the water that can be visualized through vibrant, cut-paper collage illustrations.  Head for the nearest large body of water and have some water fun after reading this beautiful book!

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, August 17, 2020

WHEN MY BROTHER GETS HOME by Tom Lichtenheld. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, 2020. 32p. ISBN 978-128498052 hc. $17.99     PreS – Gr.2     E PIC

As a young girl and her dog wait patiently for her brother to return home from school, she thinks of all the fun they will have together.  Every sentence begins, “When my brother gets home…” and ends with a multitude of possible activities they could take part in.  Each scenario is bigger than the one preceding it.  In the main character’s imagination, wading in the creek turns to an outing “into the deep, unexplored rainforest.”  Readers will enjoy the juxtaposition of the imaginative text that accompanies each illustration of a much more practical after-school activity.  The eye-catching watercolor and colored pencil illustrations show these expressive characters having loads of fun.  The end papers join the story with a dotted line map of the school bus route that zigzags through town while the girl waits for her brother.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, August 10, 2020

STELLA DIAZ NEVER GIVES UP by Angela Dominguez.  New York:  Roaring Brook Press, 2020.  186p.  ISBN 978-125022911-3 hc. $16.99     Gr. 3-4    JUV

Stella Diaz is a week into summer break, and already bored with the routine.  Her fifteen-year-old brother, Nick, who used to be fun, has a job at a pizza place and is developing other interests that don’t involve the company of a third-grade sister.  She gets a surprise when her mother announces a four-day trip to Oaxaca, Mexico to visit the ocean.  Stella, who was born in Mexico, has never been to the ocean, but has a passion for ocean waters and all the fish therein.  No one can match the excitement of Stella's first visit to the beach, but even Nick joins in the family fun after arriving.  Stella’s next adventure is summer camp at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, near her home.  This is the summer that her friends are all exploring their interests.  Best friend Jenny is at dance camp, while Stanley is at space camp.  She gets a little frustrated that they don’t love marine life as much as she does, but is glad to have their support when she proposes a project to use less plastic, keeping it out of the ocean where it could harm sea animals.  Besides learning about the effect of plastics on our oceans, readers will long for a mother as wise and kind as Stella’s and learn some Spanish vocabulary, which is sprinkled throughout the book.  This award-winning series started out with STELLA DIAZ HAS SOMETHING TO SAY (2018) and continues with STELLA DIAZ DREAMS BIG, to be released in January 2021.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, August 3, 2020

I LOVE YOU SO MOCHI by Sarah Kuhn.  New York:  Scholastic Press, 2019. 308p.  ISBN 978-133830288-2 hc. $17.99     Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Most teens can relate to the feelings of inadequacy that follow Kimi throughout her day.  She does best in her own imagination, where she can socialize and navigate family issues perfectly.  Her greatest skill is making colorful clothing out of unusual materials that make her stand out in a crowd.  However, not everyone appreciates the way she uses her artistic skills.  Kimi’s mom, who would like her to be serious about painting, blows her top when she finds out Kimi has been skipping art class.  As if on cue, a plane ticket to Japan arrives from Kimi's estranged grandparents fora  visit during spring break.  Kimi jumps at the chance to put some space between her mother and herself, while embarking on a cultural adventure to discover her heritage.  Besides meeting her maternal grandparents, Kimi meets her love interest, Akira, at his uncle’s mochi stand.  As they embark on sight-seeing excursions around Kyoto, Akira encourages Kimi to develop her design skills, rather than go to art school because her mom wants her to.  As it turns out, her grandparents agree, giving Kimi the courage to stand up for herself and apply to design school instead.  As Kimi discovers more about her family, she begins to understand herself better and paves a path to her future. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, July 27, 2020

SOLAR STORY by Allan Drummond.  New York: Farrar Straus Giroux Books, 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-037430899-5 hc. $18.99     Gr. 2-5     J 621.31

In a small village in Morocco, found in Northwestern Africa, school children are learning about solar power.  In a region of almost constant sunshine, residents of the small village live as they always have with little or no electricity.  However, changes are coming to the region.  A new solar tower surrounded by thousands of solar panels is being built next to the village to provide sustainable solar energy.  Watercolor illustrations allow readers to join the school children on a field trip to the Noor Solar Power Plant where they learn about solar operations, along with the new jobs filled by local employees and the training opportunities provided to the local community.  Informational Notes, usually found at the back of the book, are conveniently incorporated into side panels of the illustrations.  The overall focus is on sustainability and future promise of modernization to the small village and its children.  The author adds this story to his collection of green projects, including ENERGY ISLAND (2011), GREEN CITY (2016), and PEDAL POWER (2018).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, July 20, 2020

A VOICE NAMED ARETHA by Katheryn Russel-Brown. Illus. by Laura Freeman.  New York:  Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2020, 32p. ISBN 978-168119850-7 hc. $17.99    Gr. 2-5     J 921

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Aretha was born to a pastor and a nurse who encouraged the children to sing in the church choir.  Aretha’s voice made her a standout.  By the time she was ten years old, Aretha was singing solos and soon joined her father’s traveling ministry, called the Gospel Caravan.  She signed a record deal at age eighteen and soon became a smart business woman.  In 1967, Aretha signed on with Atlantic Records and released a string of hit songs, including “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”  She became known as the Queen of Soul and “was the first woman voted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”  Aretha inspired everyone with her songs and remained influential in the music industry until her death in 2018.  Biographical Notes can be found at the end of the book, along with a list of her most famous songs.  The illustrations are bold and bright, somewhat like Aretha Franklin, herself.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, July 13, 2020

STAMPED:  RACISM, ANTIRACISM, AND YOU by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.  New York:  Little, Brown and Co., 2020. 294p  ISBN 978-031645369-1 hc. $18.99     Gr. 7-12     YA 305.8

Acclaimed writer of teen fiction, Jason Reynolds, takes the contents of Ibram X. Kendi’s book, STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF RACIST IDEAS IN AMERICA, and gives it a conversational voice.  Beginning with the roots of racism, including the fabrication of a Biblical black race started by Noah’s disobedient son Ham, the period of 1415 - 1728 was a time of establishing the superiority of whites and suppressing those with dark skin.  By de-humanizing blacks, the wealthy white majority was able to utilize them as an enslaved work force and grow their own fortunes.  It all boiled down to money.  After the abolition of slavery, the suppression of blacks gave extra political power to the white ruling class that has endured to this very day.  The book is broken up into five sections of time that follow new ways of maintaining white supremacy as modernization brings readers into the twenty-first century.  Is the United States doomed to repeat cultural mistakes from the past?  Not if you identify those mistakes by reading this eye-opening book.  There are twenty pages of source notes at the end of the book, along with a complete index – just in case you want to re-check some facts.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, July 6, 2020

FIGHTING WORDS by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  New York: Dial Books, 2020. ISBN 978-1984815682 hc. $17.99    Gr. 5-8     JUV

Della is just ten, but she’s experienced more than any child should in a lifetime.  She and her teenage sister, Suki, have been living with her mom’s boyfriend, Clifton, ever since her mom was sent to prison for cooking meth.  Their living situation went from bad to worse when a drunk Clifton tried to abuse Della before Suki got home and used her phone to document the situation.  Then they ran!  That’s where this story begins.  Della is back in school, where she’s always in trouble because she has a limited vocabulary of curse words, but those are the ones she likes to use.  Suki is still trying to protect Della from harm and the foster care system, but she’s also trying to hold down a job and go to school.  The sisters don’t trust anyone, especially Francine, their by-the-book foster parent, who will turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to them.  As Della makes progress navigating the classroom and school routines, Suki is beginning to crumble emotionally and attempts suicide.  Della begins to realize what kind of sacrifices Suki made to keep her safe from Clifton.  Will they be able to trust Francine enough to get the help they both need to recover from unspeakable trauma?  Although the author tackles the issues of sexual abuse and suicide, the story ends in a place of hope and is appropriate for middle school readers.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

PRAIRIE LOTUS by Linda Sue Park.  New York: Clarion Books, 2020.  261p.  ISBN 978-132878150-5 hc. $16.99     Gr. 6-8    JUV FIC

After a three-year wagon ride from California, Hanna and her father arrived in LaForge, a small railroad town in the Dakota Territory, to build a dry goods store.   Hanna’s Chinese/Korean mother was a seamstress before she died, and instilled the same dreams in her daughter.   But before she tries to convince her father that she’s capable of making dresses for the townswomen, Hanna wants to go to school.  The teacher accepts her ethnicity well, but the parents begin to keep their children home, rather than have them exposed to a non-white student.  Luckily, the Harris family has already befriended Hanna and her father, and continue to support them with schooling and building the business.  Hanna also has interactions with Ihanktowan women, who teach her how to harvest and cook prairie turnips.  Racism runs deep in this historical fiction from 1880, that reminds readers of Laura Ingalls’ “Little House on the Prairie” books.  The author leaves a personal note that recognizes discrimination in the original books, but also acknowledges the historical value of the stories.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


MAE AMONG THE STARS by Roda Ahmed.  Illus by Stasia Burrington. New York:  Harper, 2018. 38p. ISBBN: 978-006265173-0 hc. $17.99    PreS-Gr. 3    E PIC

This historical fiction relates Mae's dream, as a young child, to become an astronaut.  She wants to see Earth from outer space.  With her parents; encouragement, she learns all she can about space and astronauts.  Mae shares her dream with everyone she meets.  However, her teacher devastates Mae by telling her she would be a good nurse instead of an astronaut.  Only in the end notes does the reader learn that Nae is Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Afican American female astronaut.  A wonderful read about big dreams and pursuing them.

Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

N MERRIAM SMITH'S RACE TO COMPLETE AMELIA EARHART'S QUEST by Aimee Bissonette Illus. by Doris Ettlinger.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2018.  32p.  ISBN: 978-158536381-0 hc. $16.99  Gr. 1-4    J 629.13

Jerrie Mock decided to become a pilot after her first airplane ride at the age of 7.  Joan Merriam Smith was 15 years old when she made the same decision, receiving her pilot's license before she could drive a car.  In later years, both ladies independently made the decision to fly around the world to complete Amelia Earhart's quest.  Neither of them knew about the other's plans.  Just a few weeks before they took off, the news broke.  They both decided to take off at the same time, and the news media turned it into a race.  This is a great story about the trials and tribulations they experienced as the first two women to fly around the world.

Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Monday, June 15, 2020

HAVENFALL by Sara Holland. New York: Bloomsbury YA, 2020. 305p. ISBN 978-154760579-2 hc. $18.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

As Maddie Morrow leaves the bus depot in Denver, Colorado, she heads for Havenfall, a remote resort in the mountains that her family has visited each summer as long as she can remember.  The innkeeper is her uncle Marcus, and Maddie is next-in-line to learn the role of innkeeper, hopefully this summer.   Havenfall is draped in magic, with underground tunnels acting as crossroads between the realms of Byrn, Fiordenkill and Solaria.  Once at war with each other, the worlds come together for a peace summit each summer – except for Solaria.  Their door has been sealed to keep shape-shifting Solarians away from Havenfall.  Maddie arrives to find her uncle injured, thrusting her into the role of interim innkeeper.  Now it’s time to find out who she can trust among a long list of Havenfall guests, including Graylin, her uncle’s partner; the Heiress from Fiordenkill; Willow, chief of staff at Havenfall; and the Silver Prince of Byrn.  Adding to the list of characters, Maddie is intrigued by Taya, a mysterious new employee at the inn, who keeps turning up where she shouldn’t be.  After a long-awaited romantic evening with Brekken, her childhood friend who has become more intimate, Maddie questions why he seems to have disappeared with her set of keys to the inn.  As her contemporary world blends with the realms of fantasy, the story deepens with twists and turns and more questions than answers.  Holland has crafted a complex story that could easily (and hopefully) become a series.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 8, 2020

WHERE LILY ISN’T by Julie Paschkis.  Illus. by Margaret Chodos-Irvine.  New York:  Henry Holt & Co., 2020.  32p.  ISBN 978-125018425-2 hc. $17.99     PreS – Gr. 2     E PIC

A simple story of loss is told through the eyes of a young girl who misses her dog, Lily.  The relationship between an active dog and loving owner is established early on, before readers experience the loss of Lily.  Lily doesn’t sleep by the bed, bark at the mailman, or go for walks anymore.  The sense of loss is deeply felt on every page.  However, Lily’s memory lives on in the hearts of those who lived with her, as all pet owners know.  The illustrations are stark and colorful, focusing on Lily’s absence by placing text where she would be in the picture.  Page design also includes sentences broken up into individual words superimposed on elements of the illustration for emphasis. This eye-catching book is a must for any child experiencing the loss of a pet. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, June 1, 2020

BOXITECTS by Kim Smith. New York: Clarion Books, 2020. 32p. ISBN 978-132847720-0 hc. $17.99     PreS-Gr. 2     E PIC

Meg was a builder.  She used cardboard boxes and her imagination to construct things large and small.  Her whole classroom was filled with builders who used other kinds of construction materials, such as egg cartons, tin foil, paper, and pasta.  Meg found a niche in her classroom as a boxitect and strived to be a better builder each day.  Her world began to crack when Simone, who was also a talented boxitect, joined the classroom.  Instead of working together, they argued and competed with each other, which ultimately resulted in failure for both.  After ruining their projects, they had a change of heart and decided to work together, learn from each other, and let their imaginations run free.  The final four pages provide step-by-step directions on making playtime structures from cardboard boxes. 
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, May 25, 2020

ALMOST TIME by Gary D. Schmidt & Elizabeth Stickney. Illus. by G. Brian Karas. New York: Clarion Books, 2020. 32p.  ISBN 978-0544785816 hc. $17.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

Where there are sugar maple trees, there's potential for maple syrup!  Ethan noticed that his family's supply of syrup was gone because his Sunday breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup had been abruptly switched to alternate breakfast foods.  He also knew the routine for making maple syrup.  When spring days are warm and the nights are still cold, sap runs through the trees and it's time to tap them.  Then the sap is boiled down into sweet maple syrup, a process which is brilliantly illustrated in two pages of panels.  But this story is really about waiting for the weather to warm up; waiting for longer days and shorter nights; and waiting for the reward of maple syrup.  During this long period of waiting, Ethan noticed that he had a loose tooth - another process not to be rushed.  Young readers will relate to the experience of waiting for good things to happen.  Ethan found that his patience paid off when he finally lost his tooth and once again enjoyed his favorite breakfast.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, May 18, 2020

THE GRACE YEAR by Kim Liggett. New York: St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2019. 404p. ISBN 978-1250145444 hc, $16.99     Gr. 9-12     YA FIC

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden to discuss what happens to those sixteen year old girls who live in an isolated encampment deep in the forest for exactly one year.  Other than survival, their focus is to dispel the magic essence attributed to the sexual allure of teenage girls before returning to an archaic and repressed society that treats women as property.  Tierney makes the journey with her classmates, some of whom disappear along the way, stolen by poachers who sell their essence and body parts as aphrodisiacs on the black market.  At the encampment, Tierney tries to use her common sense to make the stay a cooperative and comfortable experience for the whole group, but Kiersten, the dominant female, begins her reign of terror over the girls.  Eventually Tierney is exiled and ends up living with and falling in love with Ryker, one of the poachers who is a contradiction of values; both kind and predatory at the same time.  Alliances are made and broken along the way, as themes of female relationships and survival psychology are examined.  Just when readers think they know where the story is leading, the page unfolds in new and unexpected directions.  The unpredictable ending will give readers a lot to think about.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

PLANTING STORIES: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre' by Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illus. by Paola Escobar. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-00627486803 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3        J 921

The story opens in New York City in 1921 with the arrival of Pura Belpre' who came to visit her sister.  The native of Puerto Rico was enchanted by the bustling city, and decided to stay awhile.  She worked in a garment factory until the public library advertised for a bilingual assistant.  It was a perfect fit for Pura, who spoke Spanish, French, and English. Her favorite part of the library was the children's room, where she could be found retelling the folktales handed down from her grandmother. She soon made puppets to repeat those stories visually and bilingually. Through her community work, she met her musician husband and traveled with him for almost forty years, writing down the stories her grandmother told. The books, written in Spanish, were her gift to the immigrant children of New York.  Pura's first book was "Martina & Perez," a love story about a cockroach and mouse.  The illustrator incorporates images of the literary pair throughout the book, which extends to the end papers.  Pura died in 1982, but each year the American Library Association recognizes Latinx authors and illustrators in her name with the Pura Belpre' Award. Her advocacy for diverse children's books lives on today.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

MY HEART by Corinna Luyken. New York:  Dial Books for Young Reader, 2019.  32p. ISBN
978-0735227934 hc. $17.99    PreS-Gr.2     E PIC

Using the contrast of color in gray, white, and yellow tones, Luyken visually depicts the same feelings voiced by her words.  She enlists drawings of windows to graphically show, "My heart can be closed or opened up wide."  Hearts can be found on every page - drawn as leaves, flowers, constellations and the wings or birds.  The illustrations truly enhance the sparse text.  This is a contemplative book that everyone can relate to.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, May 1, 2020

LOOK AGAIN: SECRETS OF ANIMAL CAMOUFLAGE by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., 2019. 34p.  ISBN 978-132885094-2 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3    JNF 591.47

Jenkins and Page take readers under the sea, into a tree, and down to the forest floor to learn how animals hide in plain sight.  By using their shape and skin color, animals blend in with their surroundings in order to hunt their prey or hide from their predators.  The authors even isolate polar animals from their environment, along with hard-to-spot rock dwellers.  Readers may challenge themselves to see camouflaged animals in their natural environment before turning the page to see those same creatures revealed, along with information about how they hide.  The book concludes with vignettes on each animal featured in print.  As always, Jenkins and Page create interesting text and unparalleled collage illustrations by looking at nature from varied perspectives.  They have written eighteen books together, including THE FROG BOOK (2019), CREATURE FEATURES (2014), MOVE! (2006), and WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? (2003).
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Saturday, April 25, 2020

WHITE BIRD by R. J. Palacio.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2019.  220p.  ISBN 978-0525645535 hc. $24.99    Gr. 5-10    JUV

In graphic novel format, Palacio frames a heart-wrenching Holocaust story, passed down from a World War II survivor to her grandson, told via video chat for a Humanities project at school.  Sara Blum lived a fairy tale existence in 1930's France with parents who were college educated and gainfully employed.  However, her town began to change in 1940, as Nazi guards began to appear in the village and Jewish families routinely disappeared.  On a regular school day, guards rounded up the Jewish students at the school, but Sara saved herself by hiding in a deserted tower.  Through the kindness of a classmate and his family, Sara was safely hidden in a barn for four long years.  That classmate was Julien, who had  crippled legs from polio, making him a Nazi target because of his imperfection.  Shortly before the war ended, the Nazis guards caught up with Julien and shot him.  Sara, who had been separated from her parents, became part of Julien's family, remaining close to them even after she found her father who had also been in hiding for years.  In honor of her brave friend Julien, Sara passed on his name to her son and grandson.  Revealing that she hadn't told her story to anyone else, she asked her grandson to keep her story and use it to fight injustice in the world.  Following the suspenseful main story, readers will find ten additional pages of historical information about World War II and the role of the French Resistance.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, April 19, 2020

OTHER WORDS FOR HOME by Jasmine Warga.  New York: Balzer + Bray, 2019.  342p.  ISBN 978-0062747808 hc. $16.99     Gr. 5-8     JUV

Jude, a young Syrian teen who loves American movies, wants to be a movie star someday, along with her best friend, Fatima.  Her older brother, Issa, is a university student who actively participates in student protests against the government, making the family a target for political retaliation.  After a raid on their home, Jude and her mother are sent to Cincinnati, Ohio to live with her uncle and his American wife.  Now Jude will have to use the English she learned while watching movies, in order to improve her language skills and survive in a new country.  Although Jude extends the hand of friendship to her very American cousin, Sarah is clearly not interested is having relatives that eat and dress ethnically.  The cousins’ relationship is strained to breaking point when Jude and Sarah try out for the same part in the school play.  A good deal of cultural information about Islamic religion, Syrian food, and women covering their hair when they reach puberty is included in the text.  It’s also a story about being a part of two countries at the same time, making new routines while, at the same time, retaining the old.  By writing in verse, Warga emphasizes human ideals and minimizes descriptive geography, sending the message that people everywhere want to be understood and valued.

Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, April 13, 2020

THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE by Ruta Sepetys.  New York: Penguin Young Readers, 2019.  512p.  ISBN 978-0593115251 hc. $18.99    Gr. 9-12  YA FIC

A master of historic fiction, Sepetys, writes for young adults who have enough life experience to tackle the philosophical, political, and ethical issues found in her well-researched books. Readers are taken back to Madrid, Spain in 1957, when General Francisco Franco ruled the country through an oppressive dictatorship.  Daniel Matheson, an oil-rich Texan with aspirations to become a photojournalist, visits Madrid with his parents to share a cultural experience of Spain, the birthplace of his mother.  He soon meets Ana, a housekeeper in the luxurious Hotel Castellana Hilton, where she hopes to work her way up the career ladder – at least as far as women can go in a fascist regime.  Even though a relationship between Ana and Daniel would mean termination from her job, Daniel persists and meets her in her neighborhood, where he also meets her brother, Rafael, a butcher who dreams of being a bullfighter.  After listening to Rafael’s history, including his early years in a boy’s home after the Spanish revolution, Daniel has many questions about why the guards prevent him from taking photos of certain places and events in the city.  Rafael’s story intertwines with that of his cousin, Puri, who cares for babies at an adoption facility.  There a mystery about the babies dropped off anonymously, and later adopted out to families “in favor” of government policies.  In contrast to the pull of passion between Ana and Daniel, readers will be shocked by the level of corruption found in Spain during Franco's control of the government.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

TO NIGHT OWL FROM DOGFISH by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer.  New York:  Dial Books, 2019.  310p.  ISBN 978-052555323-6 hc. $17.99    Gr. 5-8    JUV

Sloan and Wolitzer formulate a humorous middle-grade story about the families we're born into and the friendships we create on our own.  Written as an epistolary novel, this tale is told entirely through e-mail messages  between two 12 year-old girls.  Book-loving Avery from New York City and sports-loving Bett from California, secretly known to each other as Night Owl and Dogfish, couldn't be more different.  After routinely looking through her dad's e-mails, Bett discovers that her father met someone at a conference and has been dating online.  She also learns that the two fathers plan to visit China together, while sending both daughters to a summer camp in Michigan.  Bett's subject line to Avery is "You don't know me," which ends up with 62 replies back and forth while the girls learn about each other and think about the possibility of becoming sisters.  Bett's gregarious grandmother enters the story, along with Avery's surrogate mother, to provide family histories while introducing discussion on sexual orientation, race, becoming a teen, and reinventing families.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

MAPPING SAM by Joyce Hesselberth. New York: Greenwillow Books, 2018. 32p.  ISBN 978-006274122-6 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3    E PIC

Sam the cat’s nightly trips around the neighborhood show “what is where and how to get from here to there.”  The author engages Sam’s help to highlight different maps and ways of mapping.  Sam shows readers several ways to explore the outdoors in order to get a new perspective on the world and understand it better.  In addition to a geographic map tracing Sam’s movements around the neighborhood, readers are introduced to a transportation map, two biological diagrams, a cutaway view of the pond, a diagram of a water molecule, a world map, a constellation chart that maps the stars, a map of the solar system, and a blueprint of a building.  The clear, colorful illustrations convey a whole new way of thinking about the power of maps and their importance for recording new discoveries.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, March 29, 2020

THE PRINCESS AND THE PIT STOP by Tom Angelberger.  Illus. by Dan Santat.  New York: Abrams Books, 2018.  32p.  ISBN 978-14197-28488 hc. $16.99    Gr. K-2    E PIC

The Princess is in a car race against notable fairy tale characters.  When her Fairy Govmother tells her she's in last place in the car race, all the Princess does is step on the gas.  This story is told in a quasi-graphic novel style with colorful illustrations that show the action of the race.  A great book to show the results of not giving up.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

MATCHY MATCHY by Erin McGill.  Petaluma, CA: Cameron Kids. 32p  ISBN 978-194490372-5 hc. $16.95     PreS - Gr. 2     E PIC

     Maria lives in a house where everything matches.  Her mom makes sure Maria's outfits match, along with all her hair accessories, socks, and shoes.  Even the house is decorated to match..  Since her Mom has a list of rules for coordinating patterns and colors, Maria makes her own rules and happily makes new combinations of patterns to wear.  Her mom concedes and lets Maria style herself.  The author/illustrator uses stark white backgrounds with eye-popping images that make readers smile, especially the  collage illustrations.
     My daughter developed her own style by the age of 8, beginning with un-matched socks and expanded her sense of fashion from there.  The world has never been the same.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

MY PAPI HAS A MOTORCYCLE by Isabel Quintero.  Illus by Zeke Pena.  New York:  Kokila, 2019. 32p.  ISBN: 978-052555341-0 hc. $17.99   Gr. PreS - 3    E PIC

Daisy Ramona waits for her hardworking dad to come home for their nightly motorcycle ride around their town.  The two tour the town greeting the people they know.  Although changes are occurring in their immigrant town, Daisy knows that the love of their neighbors is everlasting as she heads for home with her dad.  This is great story to read when talking about family traditions, as it is a homage to the author and her father's relationship when she was a child.  The illustrations are done in muted colors to signify the past.
Jolene Hetherington, Library Advisory Board, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

FIX THAT CLOCK by Kurt Cyrus.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  32p. ISBN978-132890408-9 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr. 2     E PIC

If you want a book that ties into early elementary curriculum, incorporate FIX THAT CLOCK into your math and poetry units.  The story, about fixing an old, dilapidated clock tower, begins with a short poem that will remind readers of "Hickory Dickory Dock."  Poems with similar meter continue throughout the story as the building project progresses.  The remaining text is composed of double line rhymes.  The mathematical elements in the story consist of using an analog clock face to tell time, and finding geometry in the shapes of the building.  Teachers can throw in some physics for good measure, with the science of gear wheels and inclined planes.  As always, Cyrus tells most of the story with vibrant illustrations that show the happy carpenters working their way to the top of the clock tower.  This book is pure fun.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, March 13, 2020

IT'S NOT HANSEL AND GRETEL by Josh Funk.  Illus. by Edwardian Taylor.  New York: Two Lions, 2019.  32p.  ISBN: 978-1503902947 hc. $17.99.     Gr. K-3    E PIC

Funk starts with the typical "Hansel and Gretel" story, but then fractures this fairy tale when Hansel and Gretel take over the book with their hilarious banter with the narrator.  The author brings the story into the 21st century when Gretel complains that Hansel is always first and he's the one in the cage, while she has to clean for the witch.  Gretel's complaints change the tenor of the story.  Children and adults with both find humor in changes made to the original writing.  The bold illustrations and conversation bubbles add to the frantic pace of the story.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

I WILL BE FIERCE! by Bea Birdsong.  Illus. by Nidhi Chanani. New ork: Roaring Brook Press, 2019.  32p.  ISBN: 978-125029508-8 hc. $17.99   PreS - Gr. 2    E PIC

A young girl starts a new day with the positive attitude of "I will be fience!"  Her affirmations show her to be brave, adventurous, face fears, learn knowledge, solve problems, stand up for her beliefs and find new ways of doing things.  The illustrations allow the reader to interpret the back story for each affirmation.  A wonderful book to encourage students to find their own way and stand up for what they believe in.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Friday, March 6, 2020

YUMMY YOGA: Playful Poses and Tasty Treats by Joy Bauer. Photos by Bonnie Stephens.  New York: Abrams Books, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-141973824-1 hc. $14.99     Gr. K-4   JUV NF

This is a combination nutrition/activity book that includes recipes and yoga poses easily executed by young children.  Parents will definitely be needed to make the recipes that accompany each pose, although the kids can help!  Each two-page spread features a child in yoga pose with a vegetable doing yoga on the opposite page.  When readers lift the flap, a delicious, nutritious dish is revealed, along with its recipe.  Readers are treated to eight poses and recipes that are easily achievable by all audiences.  Have fun with this very visual book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI 

Monday, March 2, 2020

A BABY LIKE YOU by Catherine Thimmesh. New York:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-132855312-6 bb. $14.99    Ages 0-3   E PIC

Using photos of baby animals (including humans) from many sources around the world, Thimmesh works magic with the short text that tells about the universally caring relationship between each mother and baby.  At the same time, it compares how animals eat, take baths, play, sleep, and move around in contrast to babies doing the same things.  Animal facts are included at the bottom of every page, allowing readers to grow with the book and continue to learn from it.  This book sends the cuteness meter off the charts!
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, February 28, 2020

HER FEARLESS RUN: KATHRINE SWITZER'S HISTORIC BOSTON MARATHON by Kim Chaffee.  Illus. by Ellen Rooney.  Salen, MA:  Page Street Publishing, 2019. 40p.  ISBN: 978-162414654-1 hc. $17.99      Gr. 3-5     J 921

In 1959, girls weren't supposed to sweat or compete in sports because they were viewed as fragile.  But that didn't stop Kathrine Switzer.  She ran as a child.  In college, she practiced with the men's teams because there weren't any women's teams.  There she learned about the Boston Marathon.  At this point in history, only men had officially run the 26 mile course.  Again, that didn't stop Kathrine.  She signed up as the only woman with an official number.  Kathrine's determination to compete in a marathon proved that girls are just as capable as boys.  This wonderful book sows that if you persevere, you can accomplish great things.  The author's note shares background info on the historic 1967 race.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Monday, February 24, 2020

THEY CALLED US ENEMY by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott. Illus. by Harmony Becker.  San Diego: IDW Publishing, 2019. 203p.  ISBN 978-160309450-4 pbk. $19.99   Gr. 6-12     YA GRAPHIC  940.53

This autobiographical piece by Takei, famous for his role of Sulu on the "Star Trek" television series and movies, tells of the time his family spent in World War II internment camps for Japanese-Americans when he was just a small child.  Although the graphic novel format contains many fewer words than a written memoir, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. The artwork conveys the emotion of a heartbreaking time for Japanese-American citizens whose wealth was claimed by the government, as they were being sent to segregated camps throughout the country.  The Santa Anita Raceway in California, one of the more well-known camps, is where the Takei family began their incarceration.  Not only does the story tell of the family's humiliation by being stripped of decent housing and their rights to live in their own homes, it reviews the political legislation (Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066) that was responsible for the displacement of families in 1940. Takei describes highs and lows within the camps during his years living there.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan formally apologized for the previous actions of the federal government.  The story continues on to document Takei's successful career and his activism in the area of gay rights.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Friday, February 21, 2020

A DAY SO GRAY by Marie Lamba.  Illus. by Alea Marley.  New York: Clarion Books, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-132869599-4 hc. $17.99     PreS - Gr. 2    E PIC

The contrast between the pessimistic view of any situation is offset with the optimistic outlook on the same things  "This day is so gray," deserves a second look by the optimist who sees browns, blues, silvers, and yellows in the gray landscape.  The black cat has black fur, in addition to green eyes and pink pads on its paws.  Flames in the warm fireplace are not only orange, but change colors to yellow to red, making everyone warm and cozy.  This story encourages readers to look beyond the first thing they see, especially if their first impression is negative.  The world is a colorful and complex place.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Monday, February 17, 2020

THE PROUDEST BLUE: A STORY OF HIJAB AND FAMILY by Ibthihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali. Illus. by Hatem Aly.  New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2019.  ISBN: 978-031651900-7 HC $17.00  PreS - Gr. 3   E PIC

THE PROUDEST BLUE begins with mother and daughters, Faizah and Asiya, purchasing a first-day hijab for Asiya.  It is blue like the ocean waving to the sky.  The next day, Asiya wears it to school.  Faizah is proud of her sister.  When she hears comments from school bullies, it puts a damper on her day.  Then she remembers her mother's words about the importance of tradition, and walks away from the negative comments.  The vivid illustrations complement the story of family, tradition, and love.  The author, Muhammad, is a fencer and the first Muslim American woman in hijab to compete in the Olympic Games for the United States.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Thursday, February 13, 2020

THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT MARGARET WISE BROWN by Mac Barnett.  Illus. by Sarah Jacoby.  New York:  Balzer + Bray, 2019.  42p.  ISBN 978-0062393449 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3    J 921

Barnett covers a lot of topics in this short (42 pages) biography of well-known children's author, Margaret Wise Brown.  He talks about children's books, authors in general, the quirky habits of Brown as a child, and her sometimes outlandish behavior as an adult.  Readers also learn about Anne Carroll Moore, a powerful librarian from the New York Public Library who created a children's room there, filled only with children's books.  However, if she didn't like a book, she censored it and wouldn't make it available to readers.  That is what she did to Brown's books.  Despite her conflict with the powerful librarian, Brown's books, such as GOODNIGHT MOON,  RUNAWAY BUNNY, and THE HAPPY DAY, were read and loved by children all over the country.  Brown died at the age of 42, during a trip to France.  The story ends as it begins, with a statement of purpose.  "The important thing about Margaret Wise Brown is that she wrote books."
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, February 9, 2020

SULWE by Lupita Nyong'o. Illus. by Vashti Harrison.  New York: Sinon & Schuster Books, 2019.  42p.  ISBN 978-1534425361 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-2      E PIC

Sulwe was very aware of her dark skin because the children at school called her names that made her feel ugly, while her lighter skinned sister was not singled out.  She tried to make her skin lighter by eating pale foods and by using cosmetics to lighten her look, but nothing worked.  She took the problem to her mother, who treated Sulwe to a story about mythical sisters - one who was light and one who was dark.  The two sisters learned to balance their relationship by appreciating the beauty and talents of each other.  Sulwe saw that she needed to accept herself inside and out.  Harrison's illustrations are vibrant with soft edges to convey the emotions of a young girl who has a lot to learn about the world.  The author's note gives readers a hint that Sulwe's story is partly biographical.  This book has the potential to help any child who is singled out because of appearance, no matter how light or dark their skin, the texture of their hair, or their physical structure.  Self acceptance is a life-long journey for most everyone.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Thursday, February 6, 2020

NIXIE NESS: Cooking Star by Claudia Mills.  Illus. by Grace Zong.  After-School Superstars series.  New York:  Holiday House, 2019.  118p.  ISBN 978-0823440931 hc. $15.99   Gr. 2-4   E Reader

Best Friends since they were toddlers, third-graders Nixie Ness and Grace Kenny have spent their after-school hours at Nixie's house.  When Nixie's mom goes back to work, Nixie finds herself attending the after-school program.  Grace, however, finds after-school care at the house of another classmate, Elyse, and begns a friendship with her.  Although Nixie enjoys the cooking activities at the after-school program, and makes new friends here, she is definitely jealous of the friendship growing between Grace and Elyse.  When Nixie says something to hurt Grace's feelings, her classmates help her through the apology and reconciliation process.  This series has black and white illustrations and chapter markers that break up the text for struggling readers.  Other books in this series are VERA VANCE: Comic Book Star (2020) and LUCY LOPEZ: Coding Star (2020), which feature some of the other activities and characters in Nixie's after-school program.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Sunday, February 2, 2020

THE MAGNIFICENT MIGRATION: On Safari with Africa's Great Herds by Sy Montgomery. Photos by Roger and Logan Wood.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  176p. ISBN: 978-0544761131 hc. $24.99     Gr. 4-6    J 591.56

The MAGNIFICENT MIGRATION is an education, emotional and touching book about some of the largest migrations in the world, most of which take place in the Serengeti.  Montgomery travels with wildebeest expert, Dr. Richard Estes, and the photographers, to show how the migration of the wildebeest touches the lives and travel patterns of the other animals around them.  Throughout this book are beautiful photos of the animals encountered by the research team on safari.  It is highly recommended.
Riley R., Volunteer, Ontonagon Township Library, Ontonagon, MI

Thursday, January 30, 2020

I AM A FARMER: GROWING AN ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT IN CAMEROON by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul. Illus by Elizabeth Zunon.  Minneapolis, MN: Milbrook Press, 2019.  32p.  ISBN: 978-1512449143 hc. $19.99    Gr. 2-5    J 338.109

As a young boy, Farmer Tantoh Nforbo loved the dirt.  He first began  to learn the basics of gardening on his grandmother's farm, with her help.  As he grew up. he learned more about farming and how to produce crops without poisoning the soil or water wells.  He also produced ways for communities to have clean drinking water through a variety of ways.  His environmental work had two basic pieces: his knowledge of agriculture and working with people.  It showed the power of people working together and what they can accomplish.  The end pages have actual photos from the authors' time with Farmer Tantoh and his family.  The book also includes and Authors' Note, Limbum Glossary and Pronunciation Guide, as well as a map of Cameroon to round out this environmental story.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Sunday, January 26, 2020

PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING by  Randy Ribay. New York: Kokila, 2019.
352p. ISBN 
978-0525554912 hc. $17.99   Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Jay Reguero, Filipino-American high school senior from Michigan, is ready to
graduate high school, attend college, and begin his adult life. That's the plan -
until he gets news of his cousin Jun's death back in the the Phillipines.  The two
cousins used to be close and continued to write letters to each other.  Then Jay
wrote back less and less often; a fact that makes him feel guilty about his
cousin's death. It's hard to dig information from his Filipino father who considers the
family's honor above all else, but Jay refuses to believe that Jun was involved in
using and selling drugs leading to his execution by the government under President
Duterte's aggressive war on drugs which led to multiple deaths of people in the drug
trade.  Somehow, Jay convinces his parents to let him travel to the Phillipine
Islands to visit his extended family, although he secretly wants to uncover the
cause of Jun's death.  Jay remembers little of the country from his childhood visits, 
but does re-connect with family while he investigates the truth of his cousin's 
untimely death.  Readers will feel the cultural pull of living in the U.S., while 
having parents genetically connected to two different countries.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Thursday, January 23, 2020

GAME CHANGERS: THE STORY OF VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS by Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James Ransome.  New Yrk: Simon & Schuster Books, 2018. 42p.  ISBN 978-148147684-3 hc. $17.99    Gr. 1-3    J 921

Venus and Serena Williams have taken the tennis world by storm.  However, their story began on the broken courts of Compton, California as youngsters.  This picture book relates the hard work and adversity the two sisters went through to win championships and reach the pinnacle of tennism while keeping their special bond as sisters and best friends as strong as ever.  The illustrations are beautiful and complement the story of the lives of the Williams sisters.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Sunday, January 19, 2020

J. MERRIAM SMITH'S RACE TO COMPLETE AMELIA EARHART'S QUEST by Aimee Bissonette.  Illus. by Doris Ettlinger.  Ann Arbor, MI:  Sleeping Bear Press, 2018. 32p. ISBN: 978-158363810 hc. $16.99    Gr. 1-4    J 629.13

Jerrie Mock decided to become a pilot after her first airplane ride at the age of 7.  Joan Merriam Smith was 15 years old when she made the same decision receiving her pilot's license before she could drive a car.  In later years, both ladies independently made the decision to fly around the world to complete Amelia Earhart's quest.  Neither of them knew about the other's plans.  Just a few weeks before they took off, the news broke.  They both had decided to take off at the same time and the news media turned it into a race.  This is a great story about the trials and tribulations they experienced as the first two women to fly around the world.
Jolene Hetherington, Advisory Board Member, Munising School Public Library

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

START HERE by Trish Doller. New York: Simon Pulse, 2019.  346p.
ISBN 978-1481479912 hc. $18.99     Gr. 9-12     YA FIC

After their mutual best friend, Finley, succumbed to cancer, Willa and Taylor decide to honor her memory by sailing to Key West the summer after graduation, just as the three of them had planned to do together.  Finley left them a list of clues as to the route they should sail for maximum adventure.  The trouble is that Willa and Taylor are definitely not best friends, although Finley was a best friend to both of them.  Each time their rocky relationship is beginning to gel, Willa and Taylor argue or say something offensive and end up angry all over again.  However, the close proximity of living on a sailboat together and adhering to the same plan for the journey is forcing them to talk out their differences and find similarities instead.  As they heal from the loss of Finley, Willa and Taylor form a new kind of friendship together. Doller, author of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL and IN A PERFECT WORLD adds another heartwarming story about modern teens and the problems they encounter to her list of good books.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

BUGS IN DANGER : Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles by Mark Kurlansky.  Illus. by Jia Liu. New York:  Bloomsbury, 2019. 164p. ISBN 978-154760085 hc. $19.99   Gr. 4-6   595.7 JUV

Introducing "The Insect World" in Part One, Kurlansky covers why insects are important to our ecosystem, and agriculture, and the reasons for changes in the insect population, such as insecticides, predators, and climate change.  Parts Two, Three, and Four are devoted to in-depth studies of bees, beetles, and butterflies.  The last part reveals theories about why Insect species fade in and out and sometimes disappear.  There's a short chapter named, "What Can I Do?" to motivate students to positive action.  Readers will find a complete bibliography and index at the back of the book.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI