Thursday, April 30, 2015

Book Review: The Way Home Looks Now

THE WAY HOME LOOKS NOW by Wendy Wan-Long Shang follows Peter Lee as he struggles with the accidental death of his brother, his mother’s overwhelming grief, and his traditional Chinese father’s role as Little League baseball coach. Set in 1972, this outstanding work of realistic fiction masterfully addresses key societal issues of the times including Vietnam War protests, political connections with Taiwan, and the Women’s Movement from a child’s perspective.
Realistic fiction for middle-grades tends to be polarized between humorous school stories and deadly serious issues tomes. Shang masterfully balances the popular topic of baseball with a compassionate examination of family grief and social issues of the 1970s. Few books effectively address the impact of the women’s movement on everyday life in America. Shang is successful in weaving this theme throughout the work without being preachy.
With a Lexile measure of 650L but an interest level through middle school, the author provides a easy-to-read book that can be enjoyed over many grade levels. Librarians can look forward to a broad audience for this book. Baseball lovers will be attracted to the action sequences, while history fans will enjoy the references to life in the 1970s. Teachers will enjoy using this book as part of a shared class experience.
Shang was awarded the Asian Pacific American Literature award for The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. Look for THE WAY HOME LOOKS NOW to be on the short list for this year’s award.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.wendyshang.com/.
Published by Scholastic on April 28, 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: The Jumbies

THE JUMBIES by Tracey Baptiste is a beautifully written retelling of a classic Haitian folktale.
Corinne grows up hearing tales of jumbos who live in the forest near her home. While some of her islander friends think these creatures are imaginary, others believe they are real and lurk in the woods waiting to steal children. When a mysterious woman arrives in the village, Corinne wonders if she is more dangerous than she appears.
The lyrical narrative and elements of mystery will attract middle-grade readers. Boys and girls alike will be drawn to the smart, strong heroine and her friends.
The author’s note provides insights into the history of this Caribbean jumbie tale.
With library shelves overflowing with retellings of Grimm and other European tales, librarians will welcome this inventive Haitian folktale. The short novel will appeal to middle-grades students who enjoy both folktales and monster stories. Pair it with other global folktales for an engaging literature circle. Or, include it in a display of monster myths from Sasquatch to Bigfoot.
To learn more about the author, go to https://traceybaptiste.wordpress.com/.
Published by Algonquin Young Readers on April 28, 2015.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Website Review Europeana 1914-1918

EUROPEANA 1914-1918 is a huge website sharing both the official histories as well as the untold stories of World War I.
Co-funded by the European Union, the website brings together three major European projects focusing on different materials including documents from the public, national collections, and film archives.
Users can browse materials by type, subject, or front. Within each section, participants can explore sources from Europe as well as New Zealand, United States, Australia, and Canada. In addition, related items are presented that might be of interest. The interface is easy-to-use and presents high-quality digital representations that can be embedded, shared, or downloaded. Copyright information is provided for those who would like to share the resource. Users are encouraged to re-use the materials in projects.
The TYPES section provides access to letters, diaries, photographs, films, documents, and postcards. Of particular interest are the thousands of videos included in the collection.
The SUBJECTS section explores remembrance, propaganda, prisoners of war, trench life, aerial warfare, navel warfare, and women. Youth will be particularly interested in the wide range of propaganda posters, cartoons, and other materials.
The FRONT section features the Italian front, home front, Eastern front, and Western front. Break your high school history class into four groups. Each team can dive into the resources related to one of the four fronts.
The ADD YOUR STORY section is collecting Great War era stories from website visitors.
Brimming with easy-to-access primary source documents, this website provides excellent resources to address Common Core standards related to primary source documents. With commemorations being planned around the world during the next few years, this digital collection is likely to grow.
Many other excellent websites are emerging that focus on the World War I era from 1914 through 1918. Be sure to check out the International Encyclopedia of the First World War at http://www.1914-1918-online.net/.
The World War One area of the British Library contains over 500 historical sources and more than 50 original articles and lessons for teachers to use in their classrooms. To learn more about this source, go to http://bl.uk/world-war-one.
To visit the EUROPEANA 1914-1918 website, go to http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Book Review: Challenger Deep

CHALLENGER DEEP by Neal Shusterman plunges readers into the powerful and authentic world of mental illness through the perspective of a teen teetering on the brink of insanity.
Unlike works for young adults that view mental disorders from the outside in, Shusterman immerses readers into this disturbing universe from the very first page. Sensitively told through short chapters that flow between Caden’s imaginary world and his perceived reality, readers experience a young man’s ongoing struggle with sanity. This gripping prose will hold the attention of young adults from beginning to end as they grow to understand the stark reality of Caden’s condition.
The book is illustrated with amazing artwork by Shusterman’s son Brendan. The “author’s note” at the end of the novel explains the author’s close ties to this very personal story.
While some readers will empathize with Caden’s plight because of their own experiences with mental illness, others will gain new insights and compassion for those dealing with schizophrenia and similar disorders.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent selection for students interested in the psychology of mental illness. Young adults will appreciate the authentic characters and the author’s eye for detail.
This extraordinary work of realistic fiction has had lots of positive buzz. It’s likely to be on the “best of 2015” lists, so be ready for ongoing interest in the title.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.storyman.com/.
Published by Harper Teen on April 21, 2015.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Website Review: Morse Code Day

MORSE CODE DAY is April 27th in commemoration of the birth of inventor Samuel Morse in 1791.
For a simple Morse Code Translator, go tohttp://morsecode.scphillips.com/jtranslator.html.
Learn a little about the history of Morse Code at the White River Valley Museum. Also, try their translator athttp://www.wrvmuseum.org/morsecodehistory.htm.
Boys’ Life provides a Morse Code Machine that contains both the visual and auditory elements of morse code. Go tohttp://boyslife.org/games/online-games/…/morse-code-machine/. It also has built-in practice.
Connect Morse Code to science. Involve students in building their own Hila Code Key device. Hold a contest in your library to see who can decipher a message first! Go to http://hila.webcentre.ca/projects/morse_code/.
Do you want to get serious? Download the 99 cent app called Morse-It by Francis Bonnin. This app allows users to translate, interpret, type, and convert Morse code. It also provides lessons to learn Morse code. Go tohttps://itunes.apple.com/us/app/morse-it/id284942940.
For a great April Fool’s Joke featuring Morse Code, go to Gmail Tap athttps://www.gmail.com/mail/help/promos/tap/.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: Jack: The True Story of Jack & the Beanstalk

JACK by Liesel Shurtliff is an imaginative retelling of the classic story Jack and the Beanstalk.
Like Rump, the first book in “the true story” collection, this fast-paced adventure brings the beloved tale alive for a modern audience. Set in the same fairy tale world as Rump, JACK tells the story of a farm boy whose father disappears into the world of giants. Jack must figure out a way to save his father as well as his kingdom.
This middle-grade fantasy is brimming with memorable dialogue and interesting characters. Shurtliff’s engaging writing style fills the pages with interesting vocabulary without overwhelming reluctant readers. Although the book lacks illustrations, youth will be drawn to the colorful book cover.
Both Rump and JACK will be popular in school library collections. Boys and girls alike will enjoy the extended versions of the classic tales. These books would work well in a literature circle environment featuring fairy tale retellings.
Librarians will have endless fun with Shurliff’s fairy tales. Pair them with the classic versions of these tales found in picture books. Involve youth in writing their own adapted versions of fairy tales. Be sure to include the many other fractured fairy tale books in the library for additional fun. Look for Shurliff’s Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood in Spring 2016.
To learn more about the author, go to http://lieslshurtliff.com/.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf and Random House Kids on April 14, 2015.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

App Review: Think Like Churchill

THINK LIKE CHURCHILL is an outstanding biographical app produced by Touchpress. This high-quality app tells the engaging true story of Winston Churchill, a statesman from Britain who had a major impact on world history.
The app begins with an introduction by Boris Johnson explaining that the app is intended to focus on Churchill’s most difficult dilemmas. The biographical experience is divided into chapters beginning with THE BRIDGE in 1893. As users move through the short, true stories, they learn about the increasingly difficult decisions Churchill faced in his life and career.
At the end of each chapter, readers are asked to “stand in Churchill’s shoes” and make a decision. Users then learn how their choice was like or unlike the decision Churchill actually made. Participants are invited to identify the reasons for their decision, learn about traits involved with this type of decision, and examine how they compare to Churchill. It’s also possible to “challenge a friend” using social media to see how they would react in the same situation. This sharing aspects has many possibilities for teachers who could ask students to email them about their thoughts and actions. Each chapter concludes with an archive showing primary source materials related to the incident. This emphasis on historical documents connects well with the Common Core standards.
Displayed using an interactive, graphic-novel style approach, this beautifully illustrated app incorporates audio narration, sound and music effects, along with animation elements that contribute to the appeal of the experience. Hot spots woven throughout the app display informational pop-ups associated with the narrative. Orange boxes indicate Churchill’s own words.
Each fast-paced, thought-provoking chapter brings Churchill’s experiences to life. From a daring prison escape to making difficult war decisions, each new, dramatic situation draws readers deeper into the life of this fascinating statesman. The app is regularly updated and the producers plan to continue adding episodes to the experience.
THINK LIKE CHURCHILL is a stunning example of the potential of apps as engaging environments for learning. It’s an important addition to middle school and high school library app collections. Ask students to use this app as a model for writing their own story about another important figure and the decisions he or she made.
Touchpress is known for their high-quality, content-rich apps. Check their website for other apps for you library at http://www.touchpress.com/.
To learn more about this app, go to http://thinklikechurchill.com/.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Book Review: The Rat with the Human Face

THE RAT WITH THE HUMAN FACE by Tom Angleberger is the second silly adventure in The QuikPick Papers series.
In a followup to the infamous Poop Fountain incident, the Qwikpick Adventure Society trio investigate an abandoned research facility looking for a rumored rat with a human face. The story is told as a semi-official report detailing their exploits along with the consequences.
The book’s scrapbook appearance with taped in photos, drawings, typewritten pages, handwritten notes, and other visually interesting elements will be popular with young readers.
Fans of Tom Angleberger who enjoy tales of harmless troublemaking will be eager to jump into his latest, fast-paced adventure. However, young readers looking for literary depth won’t get past the title and first few pages. With the popularity of the first title in this series as well as the Origami Yoda books, librarians are sure to find readers for this book. The combination of light realism and humor are perfect for reluctant readers.
To learn more about the author and his books, go to http://origamiyoda.com/.
Published by Amulet Books on April 21, 2015. ARC courtesy of NetGalley.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

App Review: The Mouse and the Meadow

THE MOUSE AND THE MEADOW by Chad Wallace is an interactive storybook app following the experiences of a mouse as he explores a meadow.
The “Read to Me” option reads aloud each page while displaying basic animation. The animated, interactive elements reinforce the story, so they aren’t distracting. Readers can follow along with the audio narration. Each word is highlighted as it’s read aloud.
The “Read to Myself” option is the same as the read aloud option, just without the audio support. Unfortunately, the font size is small and sometimes difficult to read against the colorful background.
From scary confrontations with a snake and great horned owl to quiet moments with fireflies, the storyline features believable situations and encounters among the creatures. The author skillfully weaves in nature facts making this an excellent science experience as well as an engaging story. The realistic flora and fauna contribute to the impact of the story. The colors and details of each creature are exceptional.
After reading the story, users are immersed in an informational reading experience focusing on facts and trivia about the habitat and creatures encountered in the book. They also learn about how animals communicate and help each other. Readers will also enjoy learning about the author. These special informational aspects are always available through a small icon on each page.
The book would be a wonderful addition to a collection of storybook reading apps for children.
This book is also available as a paper and electronic book. A Pop-Up App can be downloaded to go with the paper book.
To learn more about this app, go to http://www.dawnpub.com/apps/mouse-and-the-meadow-app/.
Published by Dawn Publications. Review copy courtesy of Dawn Publications.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: Lost in NYC: Subway Adventure

LOST IN NYC: A SUBWAY ADVENTURE written by Nagja Spiegelman and illustrated by Sergio García Sánchez combines an exciting urban adventure with a fascinating informational reading experience for young learners.
A TOON Graphics book, the story features a school field trip that goes awry for a member of the class when he gets lost in the subway on his way to the Empire State Building in New York City.
This beautifully illustrated book features subway maps, collages with historical photos, subway symbols, and visually stunning graphic story elements.
Spiegelman’s carefully researched children’s book contains both a realistic fiction element along with carefully researched information about the history and geography of New York City and it’s unique subway system.
Available in both English and Spanish versions, this is a must-have book for elementary libraries. Both urban dwellers and those longing to visit the city will find the authentic story and background information appealing.
This outstanding graphic work is excellent for both visual and verbal literacy activities. It’s likely to be on lots of “best of 2015” lists this year.
Download an outstanding teacher’s guide to go with the book at http://goo.gl/AKedTQ.
Published by Toon Books on April 7, 2015. ARC courtesy of Edelweiss.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Web Review: Earth Day Special Event

Celebrate EARTH DAY on Wednesday April 22. Go to the Earth Day Network at http://www.earthday.org/2015 to get started planning your event.
The “Take Action” page provides a list of ways that you can get involved by signing a climate petition, supporting environmental education, reducing energy consumption, and creating art to raise awareness. Involve students in taking the Carbon Footprint Quiz. The “Actions” page provides lists of many more ways to act.
The “Newsroom” page features news, press releases, and blogs focusing on particular environmental issues. Be sure to explore their education postings on the blog for ideas.
The “Programs” section provides year-round ideas for promoting a healthy environment. It includes a Climate Education Week toolkit for planning activities. Go directly to these materials at http://www.climateeducationweek.org/.
The “Videos” channel through YouTube provides informational and educational videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/earthdaynetwork.
Go to the Compassion Games website to explore ways to serve Earth Week through games. Go to http://compassiongames.org/lovethisplace/.
In addition to Earth Day activities, remember to celebrate Arbor Day on April 24. To learn more about this celebration of trees, go to http://www.arborday.org/celebrate/.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Book Review: Seaborne: The Lost Prince

SEABORNE: THE LOST PRINCE by Matt Myklusch is the first book in a new adventure series featuring a teen boy pirate.
More of a spy than a pirate, young Dean Seaborne is forced to work for the evil pirate king One-Eyed Jack. As an orphan, Seaborne becomes caught between two worlds as he tries to decide whether to continue his pirating ways or side with a beautiful girl from a mythical island.
The fast-paced, swashbuckling action will appeal to the tween audience. The addition of a sea dragon will expand the audience to include those who enjoy fantasy elements. The bright book cover and exciting first chapter (our hero almost gets eaten by sharks) will be a draw for reluctant readers.
Myklusch knows how to write for the tween crowd. He effectively balances description with dialogue for an engaging story. The vocabulary is rich while still being age-appropriate. The action is non-stop and the characters are also on target for youth readers. This fun adventure at sea is a great starting point for readers who enjoy the imaginative world of pirates.
Pirate adventures are a popular sub-genre with endless library promotion possibilities. Plan now for next fall’s “Take Like a Pirate Day” on September 19th. Check out the website at http://www.talklikeapirate.com. They even have a pirate-to-English translator!
To learn more about the author, go to http://mattmyklusch.com/.
Published by Egmont USA on April 14, 2015. Reviewed through NetGalley.

Friday, April 17, 2015

App Review: Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

FREEDOM SUMMER AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 app from Indiana University is an interactive learning experience focusing on the Civil Rights movement.
Users begin by watching a narrated slide show describing the circumstances surrounding Freedom Summer.
The “Timeline Interactive” presents 20 historical events to users. After each event, participants must predict the reaction to the event. Then, drag the event to the Congress or Civil Rights timeline before proceeding. Users can explore additional information including a glossary for background information before making a decision. Guidance is provided for incorrect answers. When users complete the experience, a concluding, narrated slide show discusses the legacy of Freedom Summer.
The “Biography” section features information about 20 key individuals that supported and opposed Civil Rights legislation. In addition to text, images are provided.
The “Gallery” section provides dozens of primary source images for users to explore.
While the app doesn’t provide directions, the menus and cues are enough to help navigate through the learning experience.
Librarians will want to add this app to their social studies collections. Consider creating a display focusing on Freedom Summer that contains the many fiction and nonfiction books related to this event. Add a tablet with this app that youth can explore.
For additional background information, explore the PBS American Experience: Freedom Summer program materials at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/freedomsummer/.
To download this free app, go to

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book Review: Before Tomorrowland

BEFORE TOMORROWLAND is a prequel to the upcoming Disney film, Tomorrowland.
Written by Jeff Jensen, Jonathan Case, Brad Bird, and Damon Lindelof, this fast-paced science fiction novel introduces readers to a secret society led by scientific geniuses. Set in 1939, the group is about to reveal an amazing new world. However an evil scientist and a confused robot-human hybrid have other plans. Caught in the middle are a mother and son in New York for a science fiction convention.
Although younger readers may be confused by the wide spectrum of characters and historical references, science fiction fans will easily become immersed in the fantasy. The retro-superhero comic illustrations add to the appeal. The book also includes the 20 page comic featured in the story adding an additional dimension to the experience.
With the popularity of Disney films, this book is likely to be popular. Consider a summer library program based on the Tomorrowland theme. There are lots of social media resources ready to use. Youth who enjoy this aspect of books and movies will love these connections. To get started, go to the Tomorrowland Times website at http://www.tomorrowlandtimes.com/.
For more information about the movie, go to http://movies.disney.com/tomorrowland.
Published by Disney Press and available April 7, 2015.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Website Review: The Molecularium Project

THE MOLECULARIUM PROJECT is an educational outreach effort of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Nanotechnology Center. The website is intended to promote an interest and understanding of the molecular nature of the world in users of all ages.
Created as an online theme park, the website teaches learners about atoms and molecules through games, activities and short animations.
The NANOSPACE interactive website begins with a graphic interface with a science museum theme called the HALL OF ATOMS & MOLECULES. Background music and sounds make users feel like they’re exploring a busy museum. However, the audio feature can easily be turned off. An introductory YouTube video explains the basics of nanotechnology.
The THEATRE provides an overview of the full-length film Molecules to the Max! Then, provides users with the opportunity to watch seven short science videos.
The H20 PARK section provides a short video and activities including H20 Ferris Wheel, Who Wants to Be A Quindecillionaire and H20 Parlor.
The SIZES OF THE UNIVERSE area features Dimension Zone, Cosmic Calculations, MegaPenny Project, and Microlab to learn about size scales.
The DNA LAND includes a short DNA video, the Polypeptide Puzzler, Unravel the Chromosome, and Helix of Fortune activities.
The MATERIALS BLVD includes a short video on the topic of matter along with the What’s the Matter?, Carbon is Incredible, Periodic Memory and Polymer Chain Game.
The NANOSPACE Arcade provides access to five additional science activities including On Storm, Atomatic, Electronz, Mission to Bond, and Build ‘Em.
An EDUCATORS section provides downloadable (PDF) teacher resources for grades K-4 and 5-8. It also includes a guide with direct links to all the resources at the website for quick reference. This is very useful because students can easily miss sections when visiting the theme park interface.
This website provides a great way for librarians and science teachers to collaborate on STEM activities. Consider building a nanotechnology display in the library that includes the a laptop or tablet with the website along with books and hands-on science materials.
Visit THE MOLECULARIUM PROJECT website athttp://nanospace.molecularium.com/.
For lots of hands-on experiment ideas, go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Molecules-to-the-MAX/263266006094

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: Watch the Sky

WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard explores the unsettling story of Jory, whose stepfather is preparing for the end of the world.
Throughout the book, Hubbard keeps readers wondering about the origin of Jory’s odd new sister and the mental state of both his parents. Will the story stick with the gritty realistic fiction tone or switch to an near-apocalyptic alien theme? The suspense holds to the very end of the book.
Readers will share Jory’s frustration with the family’s secrets and distrust of outsiders. Librarians will have a hard time categorizing this unusual novel. It’s likely to be most popular among youth who enjoy school and friendship stories with family conflicts related to mental illness. Those seeking an adventure story with a survivalist theme will be disappointed.
Published by Disney/Hyperion on April 7, 2015.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Website Review: International Dark Sky Week & International Year of Light

It’s INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY WEEK (April 13-19). The weeklong event calls attention to the negative impact of light pollution on night sky viewing. Go to the IDS Week 2015 Activity page at http://goo.gl/IehK2q.
The International Dark-Sky Association website at http://www.darksky.org/ contains information on outdoor lighting, night sky conservation, and an education section featuring lots of handouts and activity ideas.
The year 2015 is the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF LIGHT AND LIGHT-BASED TECHNOLOGIES. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sponsored website at http://www.light2015.org explores the importance of light as well as darkness around the world.
The website contains fascinating information organized into the following sections: why light matters, learn about light, hands-on involvement, cosmic light, light for development, and science stories.
Consider a school-wide STEM project centered in the school library. Focus on the need for both light and darkness for the health and happiness of people and wildlife around the world.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book Review: The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)

THE TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (WITH EACH OTHER) by Geoff Rodkey is the first in a humorous middle grades series focusing on 12-year-old twins Claudia and Reese.
This silly, fast-paced story documents an epic sibling battle that begins when Reese calls Claudia “Princess Farts-A-Lot” in the middle of the school cafeteria. The war quickly escalates as Claudia retaliates with a dead fish in Reese’s backpack. Before long the battle moves to cyberspace and the world of MetaWorld.
Told as an oral history project, the Rodkey uses transcribed oral interviews, text messages, and chat logs to tell the story. Labelled drawings, maps, screen captures, and photographs are woven throughout the narrative providing additional evidence in the ongoing conflict.
Tween readers will enjoy the sibling banter and references to MetaWorld aka Minecraft and other popular online environments. Because Rodkey invents the social media service names like ClickChat, the books should remain more timeless than some others.
Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid and other satirical realistic fiction novels will enjoy this new addition to the rapidly growing tween humor collection. Keep your eye out for the second book in the series The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York coming in Fall 2015.
To learn more about the series and the characters, go to http://www.thetappertwins.com/. There’s even an Instagram photo blog featuring photos by the twins.
Published by Little, Brown: Hachette Book Group on April 7, 2015.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Tech Review: Smokey Bear Website & App

The SMOKEY BEAR website and app provide information about how you can prevent wildfires.
Sponsored by the National Association of State Foresters, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Ad Council, the website is divided into four major sections.
The WILDFIRES! area provides information about wildfire prevention, wildfire science, and fighting wildfires. These short, fact-rich pages would be effective for informational reading experiences for children. Video clips and images add to the experience. Keep track of current wildfires with the real-time wildfire map. The website also encourages users to take the “Get Your Smokey On” pledge.
The SMOKEY’S JOURNEY section provides a timeline of Smokey’s history teaching people about reducing human-caused wildfires. Users can explore posters, memorabilia, radio and television segments from the 1940s through the 2010s.
In the SMOKEY KIDS area, youth can explore Smokey’s cabin to discover facts, activities, games, and other information.
The last section features TEACHING RESOURCES for grades K-2 and 6-8. Materials include downloadable, standards aligned lessons, mini-books, and activities. Additional links are provided for more ideas and resources.
To extend the experience, explore the social media elements at Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Instagram.
A Smokey Bear App is available for the mobile web, Android, and iOS. The app includes a campfire safety guide and social media links.
For more information, go to the website at http://smokeybear.com/.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book Review: We All Looked Up

WE ALL LOOKED UP by Tommy Wallach tells the story of four high school seniors dealing with the threat of a meteor that could destroy the planet.
Told through chapters with alternating viewpoints, the story focuses on the friendships and relationships among characters rather than the meteor threat itself. Readers who enjoy lots of dialogue and teen angst will be drawn to this work of realistic school fiction with a 66.6% chance of apocalypse. However those expecting a science fiction thriller and a focus on the potential disaster will be disappointed.
This book is best suited for readers who enjoy a meandering social commentary. Young philosophers will enjoy the way each character evolves as they cope with the life-changing news that the world as they know it is over. While the book isn’t for everyone, librarians will find a niche market for it among students who seek out thought-provoking prose.
To learn more about the author or to find out about the book’s companion music album with original songs, go to http://www.tommywallach.com/books.

Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on March 21, 2015.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

App Review: Amazing World Ocean

AMAZING WORLD OCEAN is an extraordinary 3D science encyclopedia app.
This impressive experience begins with users scrolling down deep into the ocean to discover its inhabitants.
Divided into six layers including schools, coral reef, dolphins, whales, sharks, and the deep ocean, the app features information about over 50 ocean species.
Users click on the species of interest and scroll through informational pages displayed as long, multi-screen infographics. Each entry begins with an image and visual scale reference. Next, a couple paragraphs of background information is presented. While the text size is small and can’t be enlarged, high-quality, optional audio narration is provided to support reading. In some cases, creature sounds are also available.
A figure containing the length, weight, and depth of the creature is shown along with a habitat map. A series of interesting facts provide depth to the content of the page. Again, the text size is small and it’s all uppercase, but readable. Amazing 3D views make users feel like they’re swimming with the sea creatures. Finally, a gallery of photos bring the creature to life.
The outstanding illustrations and rich background music throughout add to the appeal. The setting options provides the choice to turn off the music.
With no in-app purchases or advertisements, this app would be an excellent addition to a school library collection. This reference app would appeal to all grades.
Look for AMAZING WORLD OCEAN on the “best of 2015” app lists.
Watch the amazing making of matte paint for the iPad app. Go to https://youtu.be/fTLzK3mvUVo.
Developed by FourPlus Studio and distributed by Dimitar Itskov February 19, 2015.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Book Review: High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs

HIGH TIDE FOR HORSESHOE CRABS by Lisa Kahn Schnell is an informational picture book exploring the migration of horseshoe crabs to the shores of Delaware Bay.
Lisa Kahn Schnell begins each two-page spread with a short, active sentence that highlights the key idea. Next, she tells the story of coastal ecology and migration using age-appropriate details. This combination is effective for a read-aloud experience.
Designed for ages 3-7, this well-written science narrative is effective in sharing accurate scientific information as well as the passion of scientists and naturalists. The book concludes with detailed science information, a map, and additional information sources including website suggestions.
Alan Marks’ illustration beautiful illustrations combine ink lines with watercolor. The front and back endpapers contain a nicely labeled diagram of a horseshoe crab. Marks tells the story of the horseshoe crabs using the spectrum of nature colors. From shorebirds to scientists, Marks realistically portrays the story’s characters and coastal setting.
Librarians will welcome this informational picture book title into their science collections. With the themes of coastal ecology, animal migration, life cycles, and scientists-in-the-field, the book provides numerous opportunities for science standards connections.
For lots of photos of horseshoe crabs, do a Google Images search atimages.google.com.
To learn more about the author, go to http://lisakschnell.com/.
To learn more about the illustrator, go to http://www.marksonpaper.co.uk/.
Published by Charlesbridge April 14, 2015.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Website Review: Find Your Park

FINDYOURPARK is a website focusing public awareness on the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.
Developed by the National Park Service and National Park Foundation along with many corporate sponsors, the website helps users find, share, and support parks.
The “Find a Park Experience” area helps users learn about parks of interest and features experiences that are possible at particular parks. Users begin by taking a quiz to determine their interests. They’re asked whether they want to experience history, learn new things, go exploring, or make a difference. The next questions are based on their answer to the first question. For those not able to travel to parks, virtual experiences are provided. Users can also watch videos and read about featured parks. A map is provided for further exploration of particular areas. Use this website as part of a writing activity to get youth thinking about places they’d like to explore.
The “Share Your Story” section encourages users to share their thoughts about parks through a song, photo, painting, poem, dance, video or any other approach. The Centennial Project is a contest to find and celebrate the top 100 stories. Consider a National Park theme for your library during the 2015-2016 school year. Get teachers and students started thinking about possible projects for next year.
The “Support Your Park” area features ways that people of all ages can get involved with the National Parks by joining community activities or volunteering. The “Every Kid in a Park” initiative will provide the opportunity for every 4th grader in the United States to experience public lands for free during the 2015-2016 school year.
To learn more, go to http://www.findyourpark.com/.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Book Review: Kangaroo to the Rescue!

KANGAROO TO THE RESCUE! by Moira Rose Donahue is the latest in the AMAZING ANIMAL HEROES CHAPTERS series from National Geographic Kids.
The book features three true stories featuring animals. First, Lulu the Kangaroo saves her human friend after an accident. Next, when Maggie the dog goes blind, her dog companion Pilot becomes her guide dog. Finally, three pigs named Dasiey, Lulu and Buttercup come to the rescue.
Each story includes three, short, fast-paced chapters. Appealing photographs of the real animals from the stories add to the drama. “Did You Know” fact boxes and full-page, spotlights on key topics help readers understand the context of the story. In addition, pronunciation is provided for difficult vocabulary.
Informational reading experiences are an important element of the Common Core. The CHAPTERS series is an effective way to address nonfiction reading needs.
The animal stories will appeal to both boys and girls. Beyond animal rescues, librarians will find many other “More True Stories” topics in the CHAPTERS series to keep children interested in reading.
For more National Geographic resources for kids, go to http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Book Review: P. Zonka Lays An Egg

P. ZONKA LAYS AN EGG by Julie Paschkis tells the charming story of a daydreaming chicken who lays a spectacular egg.
The other hens in the chicken yard can’t figure out why their friend spends her time observing the natural world rather than laying eggs, so they’re shocked when one day she lays a beautifully designed, multicolored egg.
Designed for ages 3 through 7, Paschkis’ colorful folk art style inspired by Ukrainian eggs designs will appeal to young readers. The simple, easy-to-understand picture book story focusing on the value of creativity and the beauty of nature will be appreciated by readers of all ages.
The book is a great addition to the library’s collection of Spring and Easter-themed books. Librarians will find the publisher “event kit” useful for promoting the book. Go to http://peachtree-online.com/pdfs/PZonkaEventKit.pdf.
To learn more about the Ukrainian egg designs, go to http://www.pysanky.info.
To enjoy the White House Easter Egg Roll, go to https://www.whitehouse.gov/EasterEggRoll/
To learn more about the author/illustrator, go to http://www.juliepaschkis.com/.
Published by Peachtree Publishers on March 1, 2015.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Book Review: Reality Check in Detroit

REALITY CHECK IN DETROIT by Roy MacGregor is the latest in the Screech Owl hockey mystery-adventure series for middle grades.
The Screech Owls are a local hockey team in a small Canadian community. In their latest adventure, the team has been invited to star in a reality TV show in Detroit. After the initial excitement wears off, they realize that stardom may not be worth the sacrifices to their team and their friendships. Where do the lies end and the authentic reality begin?
For the past 20 years, MacGregor has written engaging adventures for young hockey fans. The mystery stories are told through the eyes of the team captain, Travis Lindsay. The 26 books are available individually or in collected volumes of 4 books. Readers seeking sports fiction focusing on team building and friendships will enjoy this series.
Librarians will find that the fast-paced, easy-to-follow stories are great for reluctant readers. The storylines have a nice balance of live hockey sequences with team drama and light-hearted banter. Librarians don’t need to worry about having all the books in hand. Although the team members carry over from book to book, each book stands on its own. The plots revolve around real places and events or universal themes.
To learn more about the series, go to http://www.screechowls.com/.
Published by Tundra, February 2015.