Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Shadow Scale

SHADOW SCALE by Rachel Hartman is the sequel to the popular dragon vs humans fantasy SERAPHINA.
In the first book, Seraphina discovers her true identity as half-dragon, half-human. In this gripping followup, Seraphina goes on a quest to gather together other half-breeds with the hope of bringing peace to a world at war. However, she comes to realize that dark forces are against her and many would like to see both dragons and humans destroyed.
The refined characters, intricate world-building, and multi-layered backstory make this a much more sophisticated fantasy novel than many other young adult works. Although some readers will enjoy the details, others may find that the detail slows down the story.
Hartman’s amazing descriptions of Seraphina’s mental garden are a unique and compelling alternative to telepathic communication found in many other books featuring dragons.
Readers who enjoy dragon fantasy will be impressed by both the first book as well as the sequel. However, librarians should keep in mind that this is a young adult novel rather than a middle grades fantasy. The elaborate world-building and multitude of characters may not appeal to readers looking for a fast-paced fantasy and the complexity may be overwhelming for younger children.
Fans who have been waiting to return to the kingdom of Goredd will enjoy revisiting their favorite characters and meeting new half-dragons. The two books were intended to be a duet with a clear ending, so don’t expect to revisit this kingdom again unless the author explores a different facet of the world.
To learn more about the author, go to http://rachelhartmanbooks.com/.
Published by Random House on March 15, 2015.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Website Review: Poets.org

April is National Poetry Month. The POETS.ORG website sponsored by the Academy of American Poets is a wonderful website to feature during this month-long celebration.
The “Dear Poet” multimedia education project for grades five through twelve is a letter writing contest specifically for National Poetry Month. Students watch video-recorded poetry readings, then respond in the form of a letter. To learn more, go to http://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/dear-poet.
The “Browse Poems & Poets” section of the website provides access to thousand of biographies of poets and poems, essays, and books related to poetry. Users can browse by poem, poet, text, book, or audio. For youth working on projects, students can search for poems by occasion, schools & movements, or forms. Featured poems and poets can get students started. The audio section is particularly useful to young poets learning about the cadence of poetry. Readers can listen to poems like The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost read aloud. Links allow users to share their favorite poems through social media or print them out.
The “Poem-a-Day” feature providers readers with an unpublished poem throughout the week and classic poems on weekends. Consider highlighting new poetry on a bulletin board during the month of April.
The “Materials for Teachers” section provides dozens of standards-aligned lesson plans for primary and secondary levels. In addition, the area includes thoughts on teaching poetry and additional resources.
The “Stanza: Updates” area is a blog highlighting new resources and events.
To explore POETS.ORG, go to http://www.poets.org.
To extend the National Poetry Month experience, try some of the resources provided at Reading Rockets at http://www.readingrockets.org/calendar/poetry.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review: Breaking Sky

BREAKING SKY by Cori McCarthy is a fast-paced, science fiction adventure focusing on an elite military program and a hotshot teen pilot testing an experimental jet.
It’s 2048 and America is on the verge of war. Chase is among a select group of daredevil pilots at the United Star Academy flying the “Streaker”, a top-secret prototype jet designed for teen pilots. The strong female protagonist and eclectic cast of characters will appeal to both male and female readers.
McCarthy’s skillful mix of heart-pounding fight sequence descriptions with authentic military comrade dialogue fit perfectly with the book’s themes. The cinematic writing style and non-stop action will appeal to the video game generation.
Librarians and young adult readers alike will immediately see connections to books like Ender’s Game and movies like Top Gun. The futuristic military theme will be popular with fans of dystopian science fiction. The hint of romance and family drama will add to the appeal.
This young adult novel has been optioned by Sony Pictures as a movie, so this title will be popular for awhile. It’s likely that Breaking Sky will kickstart renewed interest in the military, science fiction thriller sub-genre.
Learn more about the author at http://www.corimccarthy.com/.
Published by Sourcebook Fire on March 10, 2015.

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 http://afharrold.tumblr.com/.
For a website designed specifically for kids, go to http://www.afharroldkids.com/. 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 http://scotgardner.com.
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 http://www.digimoostudios.com/.

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 http://www.erinentradakelly.com/the-apple-yengko-playlist/.
For libraries involved with the WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS initiative athttp://weneeddiversebooks.org/, this book would be an outstanding addition to your campaign collection.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.erinentradakelly.com/.
Published by Greenville Books/HarperCollins on March 24, 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Website Review: The National Map

THE NATIONAL MAP at http://nationalmap.gov/ 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 http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/. 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 http://www.eliseprimavera.com/.
Published by Dial on March 10, 2015.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Read Between the Lines

READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo Knowles explores the ordinary live of people in a small town from ten different perspectives.
While the characters from the various chapters interconnect, each chapter stands alone and contributes to the “read between the lines” theme. While this quiet work of young adult contemporary fiction, lacks the memorable personalities and powerful social commentary of many popular YA novels, the slice-of-life approach will appeal to those seeking a straight-forward drama.
Reluctant readers who enjoy realistic fiction may be drawn to the short vignettes told by various voices. However, the lack of “over-the-top” drama may lose some readers.
For librarians seeking middle-of-the road realistic fiction for teens, this is a good choice. However, don’t look for it on the bestseller lists.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.joknowles.com.
Published by Candlewick Press March, 2015.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Razorhurst

RAZORHURST by Justine Larbalestier is an absorbing chase novel from beginning to end.
Set in the gangster-filled slums of 1932 Sydney during a time of extreme poverty and violence, a young orphan stumbles upon a murder involving organized crime. This bloody discovery sets off a non-stop thrill-ride filled with fascinating characters. From the ghosts she’s been able to see since birth to the wide array of criminals put in her path, Kelpie doesn’t know who to trust and who to follow.
What makes this young adult historical suspense particularly intriguing is the way it weaves in ghosts as a fantasy element. Many young adults find the idea of ghosts alluring. While most novels use ghosts as a one-dimensional plot element, Larbalestier has built a complex ghost world complete with rules that guide their existence.
Readers will find the glossary at the end of the book useful in explaining some of the lesser-known vocabulary. Although some readers may find the use of archaic terms distracting, most lovers of history and fantasy will find that the rich vocabulary brings the world alive for readers.
From history and fantasy fans to those that enjoy a heart-pounding suspense-thriller, librarians will easily identify readers for this well-written young adult novel.
This book was influenced by the real-life gangs of the twenties and thirties in Sydney. To learn more about what sparked the author’s interest, go to http://justinelarbalestier.com/books/razorhurst/influences/.
To learn more about the author and the book, go to http://justinelarbalestier.com/.
Published by Soho Teen, March 2015.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Book Review: Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions

DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS by Sheila Grau joins the plethora of magical school series that began with Harry Potter. However in this case, the stories focus on a school for training minions. The combination of mystery, mischief, and monsters is perfect for lower, middle grade readers.
In this kickoff episode, Runt Higgins is hoping to enter the Junior Henchman training program, but he gets caught up in school-wide mystery involving viral videos, explosions, and pranksters. Readers are sure to enjoy lovable, gullible Runt and his monster friends.
The comical characters and silly array of monsters will keep readers coming back for more. The action moves quickly as the main characters are introduced and readers learn about this bizarre school for hopeful, Evil Overlord sidekicks.
This humorous series will be a welcome addition to your library’s growing collection of fantasy school books.
Published March 17, 2015 by Amulet/Abrams.
Reviewed through ARC NetGalley.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Website Review: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

The SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL ZOOLOGICAL PARK website is a fun way to learn about animals and science.
Start your website exploration with the “Zoo News”. These press releases contain text, images, and sometimes video associated with a news item such as the birth of an animal or a new scientific discovery. They’re great for informational reading or for current events activities.
The “Meet Our Animals” section of the website is likely to be the most popular area with children. The Animal Index provides images and in some cases information about hundreds of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish in the collection. If you can’t visit the zoo in person, you can still enjoy the animals live on the zoo cams. In addition, users can explore groups of animals and exhibits. Many of these pages contains information and activities. The “National Zoo E-Cards” page provides access to animal images and the opportunity to write a message and send it through email.
The “Science” section of the website explores the conservation activities of the zoo. These research initiatives, laboratories, and centers are a great way for youth to learn about the scientists who work behind-the-scenes at the zoo and in the field. These projects would be a effective way to jump-start student science projects.
The “Conservation Central” online habitat education program is a fun way for youth to learn about the animals of temperate forest habitats. This section includes curriculum materials along with online interactives.
The “Smithsonian Biodiversity Science in the Classroom” materials provide videos and lessons plans for upper elementary students.
The website is available at http://nationalzoo.si.edu. To extend the experience, be sure to check out their social media presence including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Instagram sites to keep up on the latest news and information about the zoo and its animals.
In addition to the website, an app is available from both the App Store and Google Play at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/SmithsonianNationalZooApp/. While the app includes features such as an interactive map and schedules for zoo visitors, it also provides lots of useful information such as an animal index and live animal cams for those not able to visit in person.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: The Luck Uglies 2: The Fork-Tongue Charmers

The FORK-TONGUE CHARMERS by Paul Durham is the second book in THE LUCK UGLIES fantasy series. In this episode, a new constable in Drowning forces Rye to escape on a pirate ship to the Isle of Pest. Lies and deceit once again make it difficult to know who to trust.
The poem at the beginning of the book will once again draw readers into the world of Slade. While not as suspenseful as the first book, Durham continues to build an interesting world for his many colorful characters. Some young readers may have difficulty following the plot’s many twists and turns, however the exciting conclusion will keep them interested.
The glossary at the end of the book titled “A Seafarer’s Guide to Mumbley-Speak and Other High Isle Chatter” provides useful descriptions of new additions to The Luck Uglies world including Belonger, Intuitives, and Uninviteds.
Filled with engaging heroes and villains, this series will be a hit with middle grade readers. The attractive series book covers make them a great choice for a book display focusing on this popular new fantasy series.
To read a review of the first book in THE LUCK UGLIES series, go to https://www.facebook.com/teacherlibrn/posts/729833807104196
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.pauldurhambooks.com/.
Published by HarperCollins, the book is available is on March 17, 2015. Reviewed using an Edelweiss ARC.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

App Review: The Human Body

THE HUMAN BODY from Tinybop is an engaging and entertaining educational app that introduces the body systems to children including both senses and organs.
Through a highly-visual, interactive interface, students are encouraged to explore information about the nervous, skeletal, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, muscular, urogenital, and immune systems. Although no verbal or written instructions are provided, users will quickly figure out that tapping, dragging, and swiping icons will provide information and start animations. For instance, tapping the mosquito sends it flying across the screen causing a bite that sends a signal to the brain. Dragging flowers to the nose shows how the olfactory bulb in the brain is stimulated.
Students will enjoy exploring the many animated layered and closeups.
Many students have difficulty correctly labelling diagrams of the human body. This app provides a fun way to practice anatomy vocabulary. Students drag the labels related to a particular body system onto the model and are provided with audio reinforcement.
This app is chuck-full of extras that are easily missed, so students should be encouraged to tap and swipe all over the screen. For instance, swiping the heart side to side reveals a cross-section showing inside the heart. Clicking the parts of the brain reveals visuals associated with their functions. Dragging a leg demonstrates how the achilles tendon works.
The app allows an adult to establish a separate account for each user. A detailed settings area allows users to choose from dozens of languages, select an avatar, and control sound and visual elements.
Excellent for both library and classroom tablets, this app is likely to be popular with elementary science teachers, parents, and science savvy kids.
It’s easy to miss the outstanding, detailed handbook. An introduction is provided to each body system along with explanations of the icons and interactive elements available in that section of the app. Discussion questions are provided to jumpstart a conversation about the body system. To download the handbook, go to http://tinybop.com/handbooks.
To extend the experience, join Tinybop’s social media content.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review: Spectacular Spots

SPECTACULAR SPOTS by Susan Stockade is a beautifully illustrated informational picture book for young naturalists.
This follow-up to Stockdale’s Stripes of All Types uses the same rhyming technique making it an excellent nonfiction book for a science read-aloud experience. Begin by reading the book straight through to enjoy to verse and narrative. Then, go back and discuss the creatures and why their spots are important. Children will also enjoy discussing other books that Stockdale could add to her series featuring animal characteristics.
The simple, colorful illustrations will capture the attention of very young children and thematic focus on spots will appeal to primary-aged youth. Stockade’s interesting use of verbs provides an excellent starting point for a writing activity featuring verb tenses.
The book’s afterword provides thumbnails of each animal along with a discussion of the importance of their spots. A matching game at the end of the book will keep readers thinking about what they’ve read.
Librarians and classroom teachers will find endless opportunities for learning experiences and displays. For instance, ask student to compare the book illustrations with photographs of the same creatures.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.susanstockdale.com/.
Published by Peachtree on March 1, 2015.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Website Review: Distraction

DISTRACTION at http://www.distraction.gov/ focuses on reducing accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the website provides resources for learning about distracted driving.
The “Get the Facts” section of the website highlights facts and statistics, research, state laws, and FAQs about this important topic. These pages would be excellent for nonfiction reading experiences focusing on reading comprehension and information inquiry. For instance, ask students to compare the laws in different states regarding texting and driving. Involve youth in creating infographics based on the information they find. Use these as part of a school-wide awareness campaign.
The “Get Involved” section provides resources for taking a pledge to not text and drive. It also contains lots of resources for educators and community members wishing to host a campaign. Finally, a teen section focuses on topics of specific interest to young adults including social media links.
The “Faces” section features testimonials of individuals whose lives have been impacted by distracted driving. The compelling stories are very persuasive.
Finally, the “DOT Action” section provides information about regulations, awareness, and enforcement. Like the “Get the Facts” section, this area would be an excellent informational reading source for student projects.
Be sure to check out the “Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks” campaign from the Ad Council. It contains public service announcement videos, facts, and tips. Go to http://www.stoptextsstopwrecks.org.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Book Review: The Alex Crow

THE ALEX CROW by Andrew Smith is a bizarre young adult novel that skillfully weaves together multiple storylines into a strangely powerful statement about society, extinction, and life.
What do a brutal war, a summer boys’ camp, a nineteenth century arctic expedition, and a schizophrenic bomber have in common? It sounds like a bad joke, but it’s actually the outlandish collection of situations that make Andrew Smith such as popular YA author. Like Grasshopper Jungle, the witty situations in THE ALEX CROW feel real but are actually set in an alternative version of our world where a depressed ex-extinct bionic crow seems possible.
Designed for science fiction readers 14 and up, Smith’s conversational writing style along with his unique balance of serious and goofy situations make this fact-paced book fly by. The reoccurring themes of extinction, life, and the “stories we carry” provide a new level of depth for Smith.
Fans of Andrew Smith will be pleased with his latest weird work and new readers will want to go back and read his earlier YA novels. While his books are perfect for reluctant readers, librarians should keep in mind that Smith’s works aren’t for everyone. They’re filled with masturbation jokes, disturbing teen violence, and gruesome, dystopian subplots.
Look for THE ALEX CROW on the best-seller lists for 2015.
To learn more about the author and his works, go to http://www.authorandrewsmith.com/.
Published by Dutton Book on March 10, 2015.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tech Review: Mathcubes

The MATHCUBES apps from SchoolCubes are a fun and motivating way for children to practice their basic math skills.
Both the ADDITION & SUBTRACTION FOR KIDS and TIMES TABLES FOR KIDS use similar formats. In each case, an adult sets up the app based on the problem presentation approach for the particular region of the world. Both visual and auditory cues introduce and provide feedback for each problem. Multiple languages are available.
Mathcubes uses a well-researched correction system designed to help children succeed. The app constantly checks student answers and adapts to meet the child’s needs. Assistance is provided for those needing help and more challenging exercises are presented for those ready for more complicated problems.
A built-in rewards system motivates students to reach new levels. The positive reinforcement woven through the system provides learning support that keeps children coming back for more.
The simple touch-screen design, appealing visual support, large animated numbers, and useful audio support all contribute to the success of these quality apps. In addition, a smoothing music component contributes to the environment rather than being distracting for users.
The MATHCUBES apps would be an excellent addition to primary grades library iPads. They would also be a great choice for those who supervise special needs students.
To learn more about the apps, go to http://www.schoolcubes.com.
To access the apps, go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/apps4needs/id864191082.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Book Review: Mosquitoland

MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold follows the gripping journey of a teen runaway on a thousand mile quest to visit her mother.
From mental illness and substance abuse to divorce and evolving relationships, this well-written, young adult novel offers the full range of emotions alternating between moments of hilarious self-discovery and overwhelming melancholy. Through interesting narrative, snarky monologues and heartfelt letters, Mim reveals layers of her personality and an engaging backstory that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
Arnold’s quirky characters and witty narrative will appeal to teens seeking a contemporary novel with depth. Mim’s doubts about her own stability and confusion about her relationship with adults will strike a cord with many teen readers.
Librarians are always looking for works of realistic fiction that contain the depth of emotion that many teen readers seek. Mim’s journey and specifically her struggle to understand her own sanity will be a draw for the ya audience.
Road stories represent a popular sub-genre for teens. Add this to your library’s collection of books that reflect both physical and spiritual journeys.
Published by Viking March 3, 2015.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Website Review: National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month. Go to the EAT RIGHT website from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for lots of ideas for making informed food choices.
The website contains promotional resources such as a toolkit, handouts, and tips using in promoting National Nutrition Month. These are useful in library and school-wide displays focusing on nutrition.
The Good Nutrition Reading List contains a section on books as well as suggested websites.
The Interactive Games, Quiz, and Videos section includes sudoku, word searches, a “Rate the Plate” game, and Fad Diet Timeline. These games are a fun way to attract attention to healthy habits.
The website also links to the ChooseMyPlate website from the US government at http://www.choosemyplate.gov/. This resource contains many more tools and resources.
Go to the National Nutrition Month website at http://www.nationalnutritionmonth.org.
Go to the Eat Right website at http://www.eatright.org/.
For ideas about healthy eating for kids, go to http://www.eatright.org/resources/for-kids.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Book Review: Willy Maykit in Space

WILLY MAYKIT IN SPACE by Greg Trine is a super silly science fiction story guaranteed to entertain young readers.
From classic knock-knock jokes to flying bird poop, the laughs are perfectly aimed at lower, middle-grade readers. The story becomes more outrageous with each action-packed chapter as an android, an alien, and a village of monsters are added to young Willy Maykit’s outer space field trip. In a parallel story, readers learn about Willy’s father who has been captured by foothunters (not headhunters) in the Amazon jungles.
Librarian’s will easily convince reluctant readers to jump into this silly adventure with short, fast paced chapters and appealing visuals.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.gregtrine.com/.
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Website Review: Students Abroad

Whether heading out on Spring Break or prepping for a foreign exchange program, teens need to learn to be wise travelers. The STUDENTS ABROAD website from the U.S. Department of State provides essential information for smart travelers.
This comprehensive tool helps youth and their parents plan for both short and long trips abroad. The site is divided into useful sections.
The Travel Docs area of the website reviews important documents necessary for travel outside the United States.
The Health section explores information about specific countries as well as general tips about a healthy trip.
The Emergencies section features guidelines for a wide range of problems from health and crime concerns to evacuations and natural disaster preparation.
THE STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) is a free service that connects travelers with the U.S. Embassy near their travel location. There’s also an Embassies section of the website where users can easily locate embassies around the world.
The Smart Travel section provides ideas to make travel a snap. From reviewing local laws to packing bags, it’s full of useful tips.
Because so many students travel on Spring Break, an entire section is dedicated to planning for this type of travel.
The “To Go” section provides access to travel guides and useful, printable travel tools.
Finally, the website highlights travel warnings and alerts related to short and long-term events that may impact travel abroad.
The Student Abroad website provides a wealth of materials that can be use by librarians on bulletin boards and other types of library displays. Create a display featuring travel books along with key documents from the website.
You’ll find the STUDENTS ABROAD website at http://travel.state.gov/content/studentsabroad/en.html.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Book Review: Catch You Later, Traitor

Avi has written dozens of outstanding works of historical fiction, CATCH YOU LATER, TRAITOR focuses on the McCarthy Era in 1951 and is one of his best.
With accusations flying and the FBI on his tail, twelve year old Pete Collison must become a detective like Sam Spade and get to the bottom of a real-life mystery. The issues of family loyalty, bullying, friendship, and individual rights will be sure to activate classroom discussions.
CATCH YOU LATER, TRAITOR would be a great way to introduce students to historical fiction. Avi’s writing style draws youth into the child’s world of family and school, while introducing important historical themes. English teachers will enjoy how Pete writes detailed observations like his favorite detective. Get youth involved with “writing like a detective”.
Students will easily connect the powerful messages of individual freedom to contemporary issues and discussions. To learn more about the history of U.S. Government Surveillance, go to http://www.trackedinamerica.org/.
To learn more about Avi, go to http://www.avi-writer.com/. Read his blog athttp://www.avi-writer.com/blog/.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Book Review: Mark of the Thief

MARK OF THE THIEF by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the first book is an exciting new middle-grades fantasy series.
Set near the end of the Roman Empire, a young slave named Nic becomes involved in a dangerous conflict that reaches the highest levels of Roman government. Along the way, Nic acquires a griffin’s powerful mark, Caesar’s bulla, and the ability to perform magic. His journey leads to the heart of Rome where he discovers friends, enemies and family secrets.
This well-written, fast-paced story weaves together a fascinating array of characters that will engage readers from beginning to end.
Youth who enjoy Greek mythology and the Percy Jackson books are sure to enjoy this work of historical fiction fantasy. Librarians and teachers will find this book a great jumping off spot for a discussion of the fact and fiction of the Roman Empire. Both girls and boys are likely to enjoy the characters and plot.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.jennielsen.com/.
Published by Scholastic.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Tech Review: Irish American Heritage Month

March is Irish American Heritage Month. Over 10% of Americans report Irish ancestry.
Check out the Presidential Proclamation at White House website at http://goo.gl/GGnWup.
Wikipedia’s article on Irish Americans at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_American includes a history, heritage, and cultural information. It also explores famous people of Irish descent.
During the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s, many people came to the United States from Ireland to escape the agricultural disaster. The Irish Potato Famine Interactive is a a great way for children to learn about this event. Go to http://www.irishpotatofamine.org/flash.html.
Explore the Lonely Planet: Ireland guide at http://www.lonelyplanet.com/ireland to learn about the country.
Irish America magazine is a periodical and website focusing on Irish interests in North America. Although not designed specifically for youth, it’s a great source of information. Their lists related to Irish-American accomplishments are of particular interest and would be good for bulletin board ideas for the library. Go to http://irishamerica.com/.
For lots of great infographics, do a Google Images search for Irish American at https://images.google.com/.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Book Review: Echo

ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a beautifully written circular novel tracing the lives of people who come in contact with a unique harmonica.
Crossing two continents, the inter-connected stories weave the theme of music into compelling stories focusing on discrimination, injustice, and hope.
Written for ages 9 through 14, the novel will appeal to a broad cross-section of readers including those who enjoy historical fiction, fairy tales, and a hint of fantasy. Teachers will enjoy the connections to historical events including the Holocaust in Germany and the Japanese Internment in the United States during World War II.
Although it’s a sizable book, the engaging short stories, well-developed characters, and engaging writing style will keep readers spellbound from beginning to end. Librarians are likely to find this book on the “best of 2015” lists.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.pammunozryan.com/.
For a discussion guide, go to http://goo.gl/C8Q6lf.
Published by Scholastic, February 2015.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black is a young adult fantasy featuring a changeling, a menacing monster, and a mysterious horned boy. Set in a small town near a haunted forest, teen siblings explore their magical powers, uncover long-kept secrets, and strive to survive in a battle between mortals and faerie creatures.
The idea of a faerie fantasy set in the modern world is intriguing. Unfortunately, Black’s world building lacks the depth necessary to fully realize its potential. Although the cast of characters is distinct and at times even compelling, the plot is unnecessarily disjointed. Even with these flaws, readers are likely to enjoy this dark fairy fantasy.
From Doll Bones and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown to the new Magisterium series, Holly Black is popular with both middle grade and young adult readers. As such, this new title is likely to have a large following. Keep in mind that The Darkest Part of the Forest is a young adult urban fantasy that may attract a different audience than some of her recent works.
To learn more about the author, go to http://blackholly.com/.
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Publisher e-ARC used for review.