Sunday, August 30, 2015

App Review: Monster Guard: Prepare for Emergencies

MONSTER GUARD: PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES by the American Red Cross is an engaging middle grade app preparing youth for natural disasters and other types of emergencies.
Sponsored by Disney and reviewed by major government agencies, the app is both engaging and authoritative. This visually attractive educational simulation stresses the Learn-Practice-Share approach including the importance of learning how to stay safe in an emergency, practicing safety strategies, and sharing with friends and family.
Users work their a series of 14 fun training activities. Students can role-play as five different monster recruits, earn badges, and beat high scores as they learn about emergencies. Audio support and subtitles address the diverse needs of learners. The simulated training environments focus on the types of emergencies found in particular areas of the United States such as hurricanes in coastal areas and wildfires in dry regions.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent app for building both science and social studies curriculum connections. Extend the experience by creating a display of books associated with natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods.
To learn more, go to

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book Review: Icebreaker

ICEBREAKER by Lian Tanner is an intriguing middle-grade science fiction thriller that takes place aboard a huge ship traveling the icy southern polar regions.
After 300 years at sea and an epic Civil War, the crew of the Oyster is divided into three tribes. As an outcast, twelve-year-old Petrel lives a lonely life with only a couple talking rats as companions. The ship was originally launched to save the final remnants of knowledge and technology from the evil Anti-Machinists. However, memory of the original mission has been lost for generations until a lone boy is spotted by Petrel on an iceberg. What follows is a fast-paced story of survival and renewal.
Tanner’s skills at world building and character development will bring the story alive for middle grade readers. Her balance of interesting dialog with vivid descriptions will help readers visualize this unusual shipboard setting.
Librarians will find that this exciting adventure will appeal to youth who enjoy dystopian settings with elements of steampunk. ICEBREAKER is the first book in The Hidden Trilogy.
To learn more about this Australian children’s author, go to
Published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan on August 18, 2015.

Friday, August 28, 2015

App Review: EarthViewer

EARTHVIEWER is a fascinating, interactive app from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute that allows users to explore the science of Earth’s history.
Through timelines and visualizations, students can see the continents grow and shift as they scroll through billions of years of Earth’s history. Users can zoom into their favorite landmark and follow how it changes through time. Layers allow users to view data on atmospheric composition, temperature, biodiversity, day length, and solar luminosity.
Part of the HHMI’s BioInteractive initiative, the app opens with the option to take a short tutorial or jump right into the program. Users pinch out or in to switch between timeline views. The three main timeline views include phanerozoic (540 million years), deep history (4.6 billion years), and modern (100 years). Suggested areas to explore contain place markers such as cities, fossils, impact events, mass extinctions, biological events, and geological events. In-depth options include text and illustrations about topics such as the greenhouse effect and plate tectonics. The teacher resources area includes quick guides, references, and other information.
Librarians will find endless applications for this resource. Students can start with a modern city and track it back through time. Or, follow a famous fossil as it moves through time. Collaborate with the science teacher to build connections with the library’s science collection including books on prehistoric creatures, fossils, plate tectonics, and other curriculum-related topics.
The accompanying website also includes data files, classroom activities, worksheets, video clips, and a downloadable version.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Review: Court of Fives

COURT OF FIVES by Kate Elliott is an action-packed fantasy adventure filled with mysticism, forbidden romance, and a compelling examination of race and class identity.
As the child of mixed race parents, Jessamy been brought up in the Patron class but still has ties to the Commoners. Stuck between two worlds, she secretly trains for the Fives competitions as a way to escape the suffocating expectations of society. However, her world is turned upside down after the death of an aristocrat who sponsored her family. The games may be her only hope to save herself and her family.
Her first young adult novel, Elliott pitched the idea as “Little Women meets Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games” and she succeeded on all three counts. The Greco-Roman Egypt fantasy setting combined with characters that cross classes and an engaging adventure plot will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Librarians will find that both male and female readers will enjoy the smart, strong protagonist. This compelling YA fantasy joins a growing of titles that address social issues within the context of a convincing fantasy world.
The detailed world-building and complex characters along with the gripping plot will have readers waiting in line for the next book in this new trilogy.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Little, Brown an imprint of Hachette on August 18, 2015.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Website Review: Climate Kids

CLIMATE KIDS from NASA’s Eyes on the Earth program features information and activities related to climate change.
The “Guided Tour of the Big Questions” provides an excellent overview to key concepts related to climate change. Then, users can explore eight areas of climate change including weather & climate, air, ocean, fresh water, carbon’s travels, energy, plants & animals, and technology.
The navigation bar connects users with areas where they can play games, make stuff, get information about the world, keep up to date, watch videos, and dream of a green career.
A Planet Health Report widget provides information on air, temperature, sea ice, and sea level.
The Climate Time Machine page looks at changes in the climate over the ages.
The website is colorful and engaging. Students will find it easy to read and use.
Librarians will find this to be a valuable tool for introducing students to important, accurate information about climate change. Pair this website with books about climate change. Work with the science teachers to weave in the website’s content into science activities.
The website’s teacher resources are outstanding too.
To visit the website, go to
For those seeking more in-depth information, go to

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Book Review: The Little Shop of Monsters

THE LITTLE SHOP OF MONSTERS by R. L. Stine and Marc Brown is a picture book with just the right balance of giggles, gross outs, and evil grins to please most monster book fans.
Written for ages 4-8, this silly-scary book actively engages readers. Potential monster buyers are asked to guess the name of a creature or what it eats. The author use rhymes and visual clues to keep readers thinking.
These two popular children’s authors make a great team. R.L. Stine’s creepy creatures are beautifully illustrated by Marc Brown. The gross visuals and goofy jokes are just right for the primary grade audience. The quick scare at the end will keep readers coming back for more.
Librarians will have fun with the variety of creatures displayed at the Little Shop of Monsters. Involve the art teacher in creating your own library-front window display of student-produced monsters. Then, get students to write stories to go with the creatures. This is also a great opportunity to bring out your creature puppets and other monster books. Pair this picture book with the beginning chapter books from the Magical Animal Adoption Agency by Kallie George.
To learn more about R.L. Stine, go to
To learn more about Marc Brown, go to
Published by Little, Brown Kids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group on August 25, 2015.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Website Review: Will Hobbs

WILL HOBBS is an award-winning author of picture books and young adult novels with a rich website for young fans. Hobbs writes outdoor adventures about places in the wild. With more than twenty books published, reader fans will enjoy learning more at his author website.
The website includes a biography in the Meet Will Hobbs section. There are lots of photos embedded throughout the site. Use the website to learn about his growing up, his family, and his writing. In the Will’s Books section of the website, users can click on a book cover and read an interview about each title. The author tells where he got his ideas and shows photos of his own adventures. There is a story summary plus information about awards and audiobooks for each title.
Don’t miss the Favorite Questions section and learn more about Will’s life, family and his writing. Most of the content is aimed to his young adult readers, but there is also a section for teachers and librarians. Here he suggests some curriculum resource materials and provides contact information about having him come to speak.
Will Hobbs is a favorite of many teen readers. Librarians can use this site to promote his books and extend student’s experience with his work.