Saturday, March 28, 2015

Book Review: The Imaginary

THE IMAGINARY by A.F. Harrold is an entertaining middle-grades fantasy about imaginary friends.
In most novels, the imaginary friend plays the side-kick, but this isn’t the case in THE IMAGINARY. While his human playmate is in the hospital, Rudger takes center stage as an imaginary companion struggling to stay strong and avoid the evil Mr. Bunting.
Harrold’s rich language and quirky writing style will be attractive for many tween readers. Emily Gravett’s amazing, full-color artwork contribute to the appeal of this beautifully presented book.
Harrold’s work has been aptly compared to Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl. Librarians will find the mix of eerie suspense with lighthearted humor a popular combination with tween readers.
For information about this amazing author and poet, go to
For a website designed specifically for kids, go to The website contains videos and an image gallery related to the book.
Published by Bloomsbury Kids by March 2015.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Review: The Dead I Know

THE DEAD I KNOW by Scot Gardner tells the gripping, coming-of-age story of a young man haunted by death and dreams he can’t explain.
In this compelling psychological drama, Aaron gets a job working at a funeral home during the day. However at night, he’s haunted by recurring nightmares unrelated to his job. In between, he must deal with a family member’s dementia and life in poverty.
Originally published in Australia, teens are likely to find the unfamiliar funeral home setting intriguing and the array of characters fascinating. Gardner does a masterful job balancing the need for dignity and respect for the dead with just the right amount of dark humor.
This quick-read is likely to be popular with young adults who enjoy realistic fiction with a mix of morbid themes and dark humor.
For a teacher’s guide and information about the author, go to
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers available March 3, 2015.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

App Review: Storm & Skye

STORM & SKYE AND THE SECRET OF THE CAR WASH from Digimoo Studios is the first episode in a beautifully illustrated, animated, and audio narrated storybook app.
In this exciting and engaging fantasy adventure, Storm’s imagination goes wild during a drive through the car wash. Later, he joins forces with his young friend Skye to explore the magical world of knights and dragons inside this mysterious car wash.
Designed for children ages five and over, the animated storybook app provides an engaging visual and auditory experience. However because no text is provided, it’s not designed as a text-based reading experience.
The charming narration is accompanied by pleasant music making it perfect for the young children. Each chapter is around 5 minutes for a total of about 45 minutes of entertainment. Users can read straight through the storybook app or jump to one of the nine chapters. In addition to the animated story, a few interactive animations are built into the story allowing young readers to play with story elements. A “help button” reviews the options for users.
Librarians seeking an amazing visual and auditory experience for preschool and primary grade students will want to add this app to their app collection. The short, focused chapters would work well for listening comprehension activities.
Readers will be begging for the next episode in this high-quality animated storybook series.
To learn more, go to the Digimoo Studios website at

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Review: Blackbird Fly

BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly tells the authentic story of a filipina child facing the real-world drama and dilemmas of the middle grades.
From racial slurs to disloyal friends, Apple finds herself seeking solace in the world of music where she discovers new friendships and a renewed sense of identity.
The realistic banter between classmates and genuine emotional responses to typical tween experiences will make this a popular book for youth who enjoy realistic fiction featuring home and school settings.
This quiet work of realistic fiction explores critical issues related to popularity, bullying, and racism without the need for over-the-top plot twists and unnecessary subplots.
The titles of each chapter include subtitles featuring songs from the Beatles. These songs closely tie to the contents of each chapter adding to the musical aspect of the story. Be sure to check out the Apple Yengko’s playlist at
For libraries involved with the WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS initiative at, this book would be an outstanding addition to your campaign collection.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Greenville Books/HarperCollins on March 24, 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Website Review: The National Map

THE NATIONAL MAP at is a versatile mapping website sponsored by the United States Geological Survey.
Although Google Maps works for lots of mapping projects, The National Map provides more in-depth opportunities to explore geography topics with maps.
The Viewer and Download Platform allows users to visualize topographic data. Themes such as elevation, orthoimagery, land cover, hydrography, geographic names, boundaries, transportation, and structures are available. Maps also feature both current and historical topography. Mashups that include The National Map are created by many organizations such as those involved with emergency services or health care. A new 3D Elevation Program is currently being developed.
To go directly to the viewer, go to Users can select layers associated with their arms of interest.
The US Topo Maps section makes “Quad Maps” available to users. These recently produced maps can be viewed, downloaded as PDF files and printed for free. Or, they can be purchased in the map store.
The Historical Topo Map section features historical maps that provide a snapshot of the nation’s physical and cultural past. The maps are useful in multi-disciplinary projects that connect the past to the present. These maps can be viewed online or downloaded.
The Fact Sheets, Videos, and Information Products section features useful background information.
Get your school involved with a partnership project with the USGS. The website features lots of opportunities to become involved as part of important national geography projects.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Book Review: Sleepless Knight

Children love humor, comics, and drawing books. SLEEPLESS KNIGHT (2015) by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost has it all. Even the pun in the book’s title will make elementary children giggle.
Many young readers will be familiar with the characters from Adventures in Cartooning. In this hilarious episode, the Knight along with Edward the horse embark on a camping adventure. Everything goes as planned untilit’s bedtime and a beloved teddy bear goes missing.
From the well-drawn panels to the easy-to-read speech bubbles, the book models outstanding sequential art writing. Many children want to make their own cartoons. Unfortunately some youth, particularly boys, have trouble with fine-motor control and quickly become frustrated. Sturm, Arnold, and Frederick-Frost make drawing fun and easy. Whether following the step-by-step visual instructions for drawing a knight or a bear, all children will be successful creating their own stories that extend the fun of Sleepless Knight.
Graphic novels for young readers fly off the shelves. Sleepless Knight is an outstanding example of a quality comic for youth.
NetGalley ARC used for review

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Book Review: Ms. Rapscott's Girls

MS. RAPSCOTT’S GIRLS by Elise Primavera is a quirky middle grades boarding school fantasy.
A group of reluctant 8-year-old girls arrive at the Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents to find one child missing. While in search for their missing classmate, they learn important lessons about bravery, self-reliance, and friendship. Although the premise is absurd, some readers will empathize with the characters who have absent parents. Although the clever, sophisticated humor will be lost on some younger children, older readers will find the humor appealing.
Primavera’s interesting characters, easy-to-read writing style, and balance of descriptive versus dialogue segments were just right for lower, middle grade readers.
The book begins and ends with beautiful illustrations showing the isolated, but fascinating lighthouse setting. Numerous black-and-white drawings are then woven throughout the story.
Intended to be the first in a new series, librarians will find this to be a pleasing addition to the collection. With mostly female characters, it’s likely to appeal to young girls rather than boys.
Learn more about the author at
Published by Dial on March 10, 2015.