Thursday, February 2, 2023

Troublemaker by John Cho - ESSENTIAL

Troublemaker
by John Cho
, 224 pages. Little, Brown and Company/Poppy. 2022 $17 

Language G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Fight, child with a firearm). 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

12yo Jordan worries that he is his father's biggest disappointment. He has been messing up a lot lately, getting in trouble with his friend Mike, and not doing well in school - in fact, today he got suspended for cheating! But before Appa can find out about the suspension, he heads to their family store - the Rodney King verdict has just been announced, and their store is close to where the riots are - just a little away in Koreatown. Jordan wants to prove himself and is worried about his father being alone at the store with no protection. He knows where Appa's gun is hidden and decides to take it to him. 

I could not put this down, as soon as I realized he was taking that gun I was hooked. I loved the sprinkling of Korean words and phrases, the family/friend dynamics, and the comments about the perceived impression of Asian kids "people think you're good and quiet and expect you to stay out of the way." Fast-paced and gripping, this historical fiction about a couple of boys on an ill-advised mission is perfect for middle school readers. The main characters are Korean. 

Lisa Librarian 

Berry Song by Michaela Goade - ADVISABLE

Berry Song
by Michaela Goade.
PICTURE BOOK Little, Brown and Company/Poppy. 2022. $19. 9780316494175 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

A grandmother teaches her grandaughter how to live on the land. They fish with nets and gather seaweed from the shore, but the magic is in the forest, gathering berries! They sing to the berries (which also keeps the bears away) and the forest sings back. Grandma teaches that we take care of the land, so it will take care of us. 

Author/Illustrator Michaela Goade is a member of the Tlingit Nation and writes from her berrying experiences as a child. The author's note is so important - don't miss reading it - it's full of native tradition and wisdom. I loved the beautiful illustrations, from the cold water to the frosted berries, to marvelous landscapes. I keep going back to look at the pictures and find things I missed the first time. Berry Song will be read and reread The characters are Tlingit 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Talk by Alicia D. Williams and Briana Mukodiri Uchendu - ESSENTIAL

The Talk
by Alicia D. Williams, Illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu
. PICTURE BOOK Atheneum (Simon and Schuster). 2022 $19. 9781534495296 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL  - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Four black kids are best friends, they race each other down the street and listen to Jay's grandpa tell stories of Olympic Heroes like John Carlos, Wilma Rudolph and Jesse Owens. But as the kids grow older, grandpa starts warning them - not to crowd in groups, grandma knows people will start to look at the kids differently, mom takes Jay to the mall and instructs him not to play, talk loudly or put his hand in his pocket. Dad gives advice about what to do if Jay is stopped by the police. Then, one evening before he leaves the house, he gets "The Talk" from everyone. 

The Talk is a beautifully illustrated, important picture book about the necessary "talk" families of color have with their children because we live in a world with racism. A great springboard to lovingly introduce the topic to your own child and an excellent book to build empathy. Definitely buying. The family is Black. 

 Librarian

Dinosaurs: 400 words for budding paleontologists by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, illustrated by Daniel Long - ESSENTIAL

Dinosaurs: 400 words for budding paleontologists
by Stephanie Warren Drimmer, consultant editor Ellen Therese Lamm, illustrated by Daniel Long
, 64 pages. NON-FICTION Merriam-Webster Kids. 2022. $17. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Readers learn about dinosaurs in general, as well as specific stars of the different periods. We learn about their skeletons, cool things that were on their bodies, things they ate, how we can tell if they were a night dweller or hunted during the day. We find out how they protected themselves, whether or not they could fly, which was the biggest or the smallest and so much more! We also learn about what goes on today, finding fossils, working in the lab and what museums do, what a career in paleontology involves, and we meet some modern dinosaurs - or at least their descendants. 

All the best stuff about dinosaurs complete with labeled illustrations, maps, pronunciation guides and amazing illustrations. This stuff is cutting edge - like feathered dinosaurs as well as scaled, growth rings in bone, and melanosome which lets researchers know what color the dinosaur was. Kids will love this. Each two page spread is full of information bits, so they can really open to any page and learn about dinosaurs. There are time lines, a dictionary and source material, and an index to find where your favorite dinosaur is featured or mentioned. Part of Merriam-Webster's Talk Like an Expert series, I'm excited to see what else is out there. 

Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Lolo's Light by Liz Garton Scanlon - ADVISABLE

Lolo's Light
by Liz Garton Scanlon
, 232 pages. Chronicle/Blue Apple. 2022 $17. 

Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY  EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When 12yo Millie’s high school aged sister has a piano recital and can’t tend the neighbor’s 4 month old baby, the Acosta’s ask Millie. Millie is a responsible older sister, and loves baby Lolo. Everyone does, she is so cute and sweet. The Acosta’s put Lolo to bed before they go, and Millie checks on her, and everything is fine when the Acosta’s return, but sometime in the night Lolo stops breathing and by morning she has passed away. Millie is beside herself with grief, and feels responsible. It only gets worse when her science teacher assigns the students to incubate a clutch of eggs. 

I cried, for both the Acosta family as well as for Millie. A well written, heartbreaking story about grief and loss. The culture or race of the main characters was not evident. 

Lisa Librarian

Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good Louie Stowell - HIGH

Loki: A Bad God's Guide to Being Good
Louie Stowell
, 228 pages. Walker Books US Candlewick.. 2022. $15

Content: G.
 
BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The God, Loki, has been sent to earth as a punishment. He must demonstrate that he can show moral improvement to return to Asgard. If not, he will spend eternity in a pit of angry snakes. Thor has accompanied Loki as well and they have been transformed into 11-year-old mortals. The guard god, Heimdall and the giant Hyrrokkin are along to pretend to be Loki and Thor's parents. 

 This is a wildly hilarious look at what Loki and Thor might be like as middle schoolers. I wasn't prepared to like it as much as I did. Loki has to write in a magic journal that keeps track of his virtue score, which steadily decreases. There are fun line drawings throughout that add to the story, and Loki's descriptions of school, cell phones, and gaming are great. The book ends satisfactorily but leaves it open for a sequel which I will be lining up for. The main characters are Norse gods. 

Michelle in the Middle

City of Spies: City of the Dead James Ponti - ESSENTIAL

City of Spies: City of the Dead
James Ponti, 
390 pages. Aladdin (Simon and Schuster). 2023. $19 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The City Spies are back with Kat leading out. Kat is a math whiz who can spot patterns anywhere. Their first mission isn't what they think and it raises more questions than answers. The team heads to Egypt to solve cyberattacks against key London targets and possible connections to ancient Egyptian artifacts. The action picks up when a new player could help them or undermine their whole operation. 

Ponti keeps the action going, but offsets the tension with humor and the interactions of the City Spies team. There is something oddly addictive about this series. Once you pick it up you have to finish. The characters are a delightful mix of different personalities and ethnic backgrounds, and we all wish we had some of their sweet skills. In this book, it was nice to see Kat get to take the lead in a mystery that will make you already want to read the next book in the series. (already mentioned) 

Michelle in the Middle

The Night Ride by J. Anderson Coats - ESSENTIAL

The Night Ride by J. Anderson Coats
, 216 pages. Atheneum (Simon), 2021. $8 (paperback)

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ESSENTIAL; MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: EL - HIGH; MS - AVERAGE

Sonnia is working hard at her family's pony ride business, taking turns with her sister. Sonnia saves all her money for the day she has enough money to buy beautiful Ricochet. She adores and loves the horse and spends every available moment with it. Life is hard for people in the village, often they do not have enough food to eat. By some good luck she is offered a job in the royal stables. She will live in the bunkhouse and get three meals a day and earn money. She works hard and spends every spare minute with Ricochet. The others working in the stables participate in The Night Ride - people in the village bet on the horses and the kids riding the winning horse gets the winning purse. A lot of money. At first Sonnia does not want to participate, She knows it is illegal, and she knows that the horses could get hurt riding through the forest in the dark. She worries somebody other than her will take beautiful Ricochet out for the night ride.

The setting for this story is a society during the Middle Ages. The characters are well written and believable. Sonnia has to make some very mature decisions, knowing that her life is on the line. I highly recommend this book, and I read it in one sitting! The characters are default white.

Ellen-Anita, Librarian 

Monday, January 30, 2023

Creepover: Ready for a Scare? by P.J. Night - ADVISABLE

Ready for a Scare? The Graphic Novel (You're Invited to a Creepover: The Graphic Novel #3) 
by P.J. Night
, 150 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Simon Spotlight (Simon and Schuster). 2022. $21

Content: G  

BUYING ADVISORY EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Kelly Garcia is going to have a slumber party for her birthday. Unfortunately, her parents are delayed by snow so the party is off. Going for a virtual sleepover, Kelly, the queen of all things creepy, tries to scare her friends, but it seems that calling up the ghost of a teen who died tragically in their town might backfire when her friends start to disappear. 

 The Creepover series is just right for reluctant readers or anyone who needs a quick but satisfying read. The art is colorful and haunting and the plot is just the right amount of scary. None of the Creepover books need to be read in order and they have a different cast of characters for each one. I will read any and all of them. The main character is blonde with a wide ethnic variety of friends. 

 Michelle in the Middle

Honestly Elliott by Gillian McDunn - ESSENTIAL

Honestly Elliott by Gillian McDunn
, 255 pages. Bloomsbury, 2022. $17

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Middle schooler Elliott is struggling – with his ADHD, with missing his best friend and with his parents’ divorce. Every other week end he stays with his dad and his new wife, Katie, who is pregnant. Elliott is upset at his mom and dad, especially his dad for leaving them and for getting married again and for having a new baby that will probably replace him. He loves being in his mom's cozy kitchen where he can cook and create foods with fun and exciting flavors. He loves to cook and wants to be the best chef ever. At school his friends do not want him on their team when it comes time to do a special group project. Elliott and Maribel, a super smart, and super organized girl are put on a team together. Elliott wants people to see him how he is. Maribel is also wanting to show people her true self. Can these two student work things out and cooperate on a project?

I loved this book and highly recommend it. The characters are believable and very well written. I felt for Elliott, I was rooting for Elliott and cheering him on. The same with Maribel. What these two come up with is ingenious. Elliott and Maribel both realize that sometimes you have to make mistakes in order to figure out how to do something right. I loved this book and read it in one sitting. The characters are default white.

Ellen-Anita, Librarian 

The Universe In You: A Microscopic Journey by Jason Chin - ADVISABLE

The Universe In You: A Microscopic Journey by Jason Chin
. NON FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Neal Porter Books (Holiday House), 2022. $19. 9780823450701

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A calliope hummingbird is the smallest bird in the United States. But they are not as small as the smallest butterfly. The smallest bee is still smaller, but its antennae is bigger than the smallest hairs on your body. Cells on your body are still smaller. And the parts of a cell are still smaller. Melanin, organelles, Mitochondria, Lysosomes, Cytoskeleton, ribosomes, nanometers and nuclear pores are smaller still. Smaller still are molecules. Smaller still are DNA. Smaller still are atoms. Smaller still are Protons and Neutrons. Still smaller are electrons. Still smaller are quarks. All these particles are what makes up the universe and a unique human like you.

I enjoyed how Chin immediately aroused my curiosity by leading me down a trail of smaller and smaller living animals, cells, parts of cells, and ending with the elementary particles of the universe. His illustrations were interesting and informative helping the reader realize the vast universe within each of us.

PGPowers

Polar Bear by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann - ADVISABLE

Polar Bear by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
. PICTURE BOOK / NON FICTION. Neal Porter Books (Holiday House Publishing), 2022. $19. 9780823449163

Content: PG (polar bear cubs in danger)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

It is April in the Artic, and the frozen world stretches awake. A mother polar bear emerges from her den. She has given birth to two cubs over the winter. It is now time for them to find the ice and start hunting. The cubs can’t walk very much so it takes them six days to get to the ice. Along the way wolves go after the cubs, but mother polar bear is able to scare them away. When they get to the ice, the cubs watch their mother hunt for seals. The little family is stuck on some ice that floats out to sea. They have to swim many miles back to shore. The little cubs almost don’t make it.

Polar Bear creates an endearing story to tell us true facts about the life of a mother polar bear and her two cubs with more in depth fact sheets and diagrams at the end. I enjoyed learning about the challenges that polar bears face and the ways that we can help them. Rohmann's realistic and masterful illustrations bring Fleming's text to life.

 PGPowers 

Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we ag...