Thursday, March 19, 2020

How It Feels To Be A Boat, written by James Kwan, reviewed by Judy Hauser

Summary: This is an interesting book for young children. The author uses a boat to describe and explain emotions in a way that young children will understand. The parts of a boat including levers, pulleys and corridors are examples of what people feel inside. The smells from the galley and the big-hearted furnace are in the belly of the boat. The illustrations, by the author, are lavish and fill 2-page spreads. When the boat crashes it is put back together in pieces and becomes even stronger. The story will be great for discussion on comparisons between objects like boats and human emotions. Recommended.

Straight Talk for Librarians: A good story for discussions on emotions.

Day So Gray, written by Marie Lamba, reviewed by Judy Hauser

Summary: Two young girls explore a wintry day and see very different things. One girl sees only "boring white snow" on a gray day while her friend points out that there is more than gray skies and white snow. She sees specks and streaks of many colors but has a tough time convincing her friend that it is not boring. The illustrations by Alea Marley are beautiful as they stream across the glossy book pages. It is a nice story about friendship, nature and attitude. Recommended.

Straight Talk for Librarians: A good book for young children. Great for a read aloud.

My Little Sister and Me, written by Maple Lam, reviewed by Judy Hauser

Summary: This is the story of a big brother and little sister on a special day. Their mom has allowed the big brother to take his little sister home from the bus stop all by himself. The author has written a very nice story of how this unfolds. The little sister is all over the place but the big brother is patient and kind throughout. He also shows concern when she chases a big dog or may have needs like needing a potty. The illustrations are great and demonstrate each event in such a cute way that small children will, very much, enjoy the story and adventures of getting home from the bus stop. Small children will like the book and, if they have siblings, will get a kick out of the little sister's shenanigans and how her big brother copes. Recommended.

Straight Talk for Librarians: This would be a fun read aloud book for small children.

Ms. Bixby's Last Day, written by John David Anderson, reviewed by Kalie Mehaffy

Summary: Ms. Bixby is Topher, Brand, and Steve's sixth grade teacher, and according to them, she's one of the 'good ones'. Unfortunately, she won't be able to finish out the school year because she has cancer, and the boys are devastated, but they console themselves with the knowledge that at least there is going to be a going away party before she has to start her vigorous treatment. Her cancer progresses faster than anticipated, however, and she has to leave before her going away part. Topher, Brand, and Steve decide to skip school to throw their beloved Ms. Bixby the best going away party ever, no matter what tries to stop them.

Straight Talk for Librarians: I loved this book. It was funny, thoughtful, and tone appropriate for sixth graders. John David Anderson did an amazing job combining real life, heavy topics with the language of eleven year old boys. I really liked that Anderson never treated his audience like they could not understand heavier topics. I think this book is a must-have for any library, be it classroom, school, or public. I think it would be an amazing read-aloud for sixth grade classrooms. There are multiple perspectives, but they are each labled and seperated by chapter. If there are students who have had personal experiences with losing someone they love to cancer, you might want to check in with them as they read, as the ending is a bit sad, but I think the language that Anderson uses to discuss it is amazing. I am absolutely going to add this novel to my library.

Glitch, written by Sarah Graley, reviewed by Kalie Mehaffy

Summary: Izzy and Eric are two young girls who cannot wait for the school week to end so that they can play the most anticipated new game - Dungeon City. They are planning a huge sleepover weekend while Izzy's parents are out of town where they'll eat an entire pizza and play the game together, and Izzy promises to not play the game until the weekend, so that she can play with Eric. The temptation of a shiny new video game, however, is too much for Izzy to resist, and she boots up the game the night it arrives at her house, but as the game starts, she finds herself sucked into the game! The rest of the story follows Izzy as she plays the game while in the game, while alienating her best friend Eric due to guilt and slowly realizing that things may not be as they seem in the game.

Straight Talk for Librarians: I thought that this was an amazing graphic novel! The art style is bright, colorful, and fun; and the story manages to be humorous while still touching on serious topics. For example (spoilers ahead), Izzy and Eric have a falling out - Izzy feels guilty that she is lying to Eric by playing the game, and lashes out at Eric while refusing to admit that anything is wrong. This, of course, upsets Eric, but by the end, after Izzy comes clean and apologizes, Eric tells her that it was okay, because Izzy made a call that in retrospect was wrong, and that since Izzy admitted she made a mistake they were going to be okay. It was heartwarming, and a mature way to look at arguments with friends. I think it is hugely important for anyone, but especially a middle school student, to see examples like this one. I think that you could use it in the classroom if you were teaching a social skills lesson, but this is absolutely a graphic novel that I will be putting into my library. I think my students will love it as much as I did.

The Good, the Bad, and the Bossy, written by Caroline Cala, reviewed by Anneliese White

Summary: Malia, Dot, and Bree are back again in the second installment of the “Best Babysitters Ever” series, with new challenges. Dot is worried about the upcoming science fair, and her new arch nemesis Pigeon, is a steep competitor in the upcoming school event. Pigeon, a new student from New York, seems to be good at everything, and is not shy about rubbing it in Dot’s face. Bree is excited to get a new (hairless) Sphynx cat whom she names Veronica, but Veronica, who is actually a he, goes ballistic in the house and Bree cannot seem to control him, or his messes. Malia is trying to balance her schedule with a new internship for a demanding and crazy boss, and her mom won’t let her quit, even though she’s not getting paid for the job. All three of the girls are trying to face these new challenges, meanwhile keeping their babysitting business going, and trying to raise enough money to buy tickets to an upcoming music concert that the whole school seems to be going to. When they decide to hire temps to keep up with their babysitting jobs and new demanding life events, will they be able to maintain their own business, and still make money? Readers will be eager to find out!

Straight Talk for Librarians: Albeit predictable, this is simply a great series to have in the collection for young female readers. The first book in the series has high interest, and the second installment is sure to follow. Cala does a great job with the three main characters’ narration, so that the chapters and story as a whole flows, despite jumping around to different story plot points. This is  a great pick for discussions on responsibility, peer pressure, innovation, and managing stress. It is an easy to follow book, and luckily, there is a third book (“Miss Impossible”) that will round out the collection. Unfortunately this series most likely won’t appeal to young male readers, but it is one that is recommended to have added to library shelves for its leading popularity with young female readers.

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women, written by Catherine Thimmesh, reviewed by Anneliese White

Summary: What do kevlar, Scotchgard, LuminAID, windshield wipers, chocolate chip cookies, and paper bag folding machines all have in common? They were all invented by the female gender and featured fantastically in this book. Appropriately read during March’s Women’s History Month, “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women” by Catherine Thimmesh features 17 females who have developed and created inventions used today. Shockingly, many women were not allowed to patent their own inventions in their names until 1809 because they were not allowed to even own property and were considered to be owned by their husbands. Thimmesh does a fantastic job of featuring a variety of women of different diverse backgrounds and ages, and features young inventors in their teens, which will inspire young readers to try their own innovations. Under each person’s story, the description of the process, patents, struggles and retrials, and biographical information are all featured, complete with illustrations. Also featured is a timeline of women inventions, bibliography, index, and glossary, which makes it a great non-fiction selection.

Straight Talk for Librarians: A great pick for upper elementary and lower middle school, “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women,” is a near perfect nonfiction selection. It does a great job of showing the process of innovation including trial and error, and helps readers understand that inventing is not just thinking of a good idea, then becoming a millionaire. Thimmesh also does a great job showing the discrimination many women inventors faced in the past based on their gender. Inspiring for sure, many students will enjoy this title for its interesting information, and a final chapter entitled ‘Your Turn,’ walking readers through the process of protecting their ideas and moving forward with their own designs. The only critique is it would have been nice to have each woman’s life span years featured at the beginning with the year of their actual invention, and some more biographical background on each inventor. Don’t let the pink lettering fool you, this book would be beneficial for both male and female students to read for discussions on history, innovation, and STEM related topics.