Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Deadly Design

DEADLY DESIGN by Debra Dockter is a fast-paced thriller involving mad scientists, genetic modification, and the sudden death of teens.
Kyle and Connor are genetically engineered identical twins born two years apart. When Connor dies of a heart attack without warning, Kyle soon discovers other patients created by Dr. Mueller aren’t living past their eighteenth birthdays. Can Kyle solve the mystery and save himself before his time runs out?
The genetics and medical aspects seem plausible enough to keep the suspense high and readers guessing. The writing flows smoothing making it a quick-red.
Designed for young adults, this science fiction, mystery-suspense will appeal to teens who enjoy friendship stories with a touch of romance as well as those seeking an action thriller. Librarians will find that the chilling, near-future science will attract those that enjoy plausible, medical thrillers.
To learn more about the author, go to http://debradockter.com/.
Published by Putnam/Penguin on June 2, 2015.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tech Review: MakeBeliefsComix

The MAKEBELIEFSCOMIX website (and app) provides an easy-to-use tool for creating comic strips.
Two, three, or four panel comics can be created. Users begin by naming their comic and providing their name. Next, youth add characters, words, objects, backgrounds, and talk/thought balloons to the panels. Users can change the background color too. Sidebar tools allow creators to scale, bring to font, and flip elements. Comics can be printed or emailed.
In addition to the tool itself, other resources are provided including materials for teachers, special needs, and ESOL/literacy. Writing prompts and tools are also available. Free e-books provide lots of classroom ideas.
Librarians will find endless uses for this easy-to-use comic strip generator.
The comic creator is now available as an App through iTunes.
To create a comic, go to http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/Comix/.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Review: The Mothman's Curse

THE MOTHMAN’S CURSE by Christine Hayes is a spooky thriller for middle grade readers.
Living in America’s most haunted town, Josie is accustomed to strange happenings in her family’s auction house. However, the appearance of a Polaroid camera that captures images of a ghost draws Josie and her brother into a century old mystery. A ghost, a monster, and a cursed pin are just a few of the creepy things these witty siblings encounter as they try to prevent a disaster in their small Ohio town.
This fast-paced suspense will keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next. Hayes’ conversational writing style is easy to read and her characters are well-developed.
What will make the story even more compelling for young readers is the connection to with local legends about a real Mothman. Create a display featuring this book along with others about legendary monsters like Bigfoot and Sasquatch.
To learn more about the author, go to http://christinehayesbooks.com/.
Published by Roaring Brook on June 16, 2015.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Website Review: Funbrain

FUNBRAIN is a classic educational website for children containing games along with online books and comics.
For nearly two decades, librarians, teachers, and their students have enjoyed free educational games and online comics from Funbrain. Designed for youth in preschool through grade 8, the website contains over 100 interactive games focusing on math, reading, and literature topics.
Users can create a username and password to keep track of their gaming experiences. However, this isn’t required to use the website.
The Math Arcade provides a wide range of learning games associated with math concepts such as Space Slingshot, Cut It, Blast Off, and Space Fractions. These games aren’t intended for initial instruction, instead they’re a fun way to practice math skills. Beyond the arcade, youth will enjoy math baseball, tic-fac-toe squares, and connect the dots games.
The Reading Arcade provides access to books and comics for youth. Most are displayed in short episodes or chapters. Galactic Hot Dogs is the latest addition to this online collection. Tess’s Tree is a classic favorite. Books designed for younger children feature characters like Brainy Blueberry, Daisy Nuzzlehead, and Captain Buckleswash. Beyond the arcade, youth will enjoy the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, along with Lost Side of Subarea, and Skullduggery Island. Literacy games include Stay Afloat, The Plural Girls, and Grammar Gorillas.
In addition to learning games, the Playground section includes early learning activities designed for adults and children to experience together. Finally, the All Games area provides a master list of the materials including a list of the most popular games and resources organized by grade level.
Librarians will find this to be a popular website for youth seeking “free time” experiences with both educational and entertainment value. Many youth enjoy an affiliated world building website called Poptropica outside the school setting.
To learn more, go to http://www.funbrain.com.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk

THE OCTOPUS SCIENTISTS: EXPLORING THE MIND OF A MOLLUSK by Sy Montgomery provides a fascinating look at the world of scientists studying octopus.
Part of the Scientists in the Field collection, the author provides stunning photographs to go with the interesting and informative scientific narrative. The story follows a group of scientists at the CRIBE’S field station as they collect information about the elusive octopus.
In addition to the engaging story of scientific investigation, the book also includes pages focusing on the scientists and fact sheets providing in-depth information on topics such as creature camouflage.
Feature this book in a library display focusing on creatures of the coral reef. Be sure teachers are aware of this growing collection of high-quality science books. The entire Scientists in the Field collection is a great way to address STEM standards and encourage careers in the sciences.
To learn more about the Scientists in the Field books, go to http://www.sciencemeetsadventure.com.
To learn more about the author, go to http://symontgomery.com.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 26, 2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

App Review: Monster Heart Medic

MONSTER HEART MEDIC is an fascinating, interactive, educational adventure game focusing on the cardiovascular system and the importance of healthy habits.
Designed for ages 10-13, the fast-paced game will keep youth interested in learning about the cardiovascular system and how it’s affected by healthy living habits.
Game players are engaged in a quest to collect items related to 37 health fact achievements that are used to become an expert monster medic. Categories include medical exams, monster stories, keep it healthy, travel to medi supply, travel to hospital, travel to park, travel to apartment, and health choices.
Play begins at a fitness center where users are introduced to Ragnar who is training for a marathon. Players are in charge of figuring out what’s wrong with Ragnar’s cardiovascular system by clicking objects on the screen, going to places on the interactive map, and making choices based on readings and medical exams.
Users can choose between English and Spanish languages. They can also turn the music and narration on and off.
The bright, colorful graphics, catchy sounds, and interactive game environment will be attractive to youth. The short scenarios, focused information, and stress on achievements will keep youth interested.
Librarians will want to add this to their health and science app collections.
Published by the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: The Book Scavenger

BOOK SCAVENGER by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is a middle grades adventure filled with quests, clues, and ciphers.
When Emily stumbles upon a strange copy of The Gold Bug by Edgar Allan Poe, she teams up with cipher-solving neighbor James to solve a mystery. However when the pair find themselves tailed by two thugs, they realize their quest has become much more than a book scavenger game.
The author did a stellar job weaving codes and ciphers into the storyline. Although adults will quickly figure out the mystery, youth are likely to be on the edge-of-their-seats until the last couple chapters.
Librarians will find a broad audience for this fast-paced suspense. Use this book as the focus of a display containing both fiction and nonfiction books focusing on treasure hunts, games, codes, and geocaching.
What makes this book particularly fun is the transmedia element. The Book Scavenger game is real and youth can participate by hiding and finding books.
To learn more about the game go to the Book Scavenger website at http://bookscavenger.com/.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.jenniferchamblissbertman.com/.
Published by Henry Holt on June 2, 2015.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Website Review: NBC Learn

NBC LEARN is a website focusing on news and information of interest to K-12 students.
Thousands of standards aligned stories have been digitized from the NBC News archives dating back to the 1920s. Both subscription-based and free resources are available.
The subscription-based option is connected with the Pearson Online Learning Exchange (OLE).
The free resources include over a dozen video projects. While some collections focus on event-specific topics such as Pi Day, the Summer Olympics, and the Winter Olympics, others are connected to sports topics of interest such as the Science of Golf, Hockey, and Football. Topics specific to science include water, innovation, chemistry, and climate change.
History topics include a video series on the Civil Rights Era and one on the Titanic.
The Writers Speak to Kids is a video series containing over a dozen interviews with award-winning authors talking about the craft of creative writing. Librarians will be specifically interested in these short, quality videos.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: Because You'll Never Meet Me

BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME by Leah Thomas tells the story of pen pals who bond through their unique challenges and perspectives on life.
Ollie is allergic to electricity and Moritz lacks eyes, but has super-sensitive echolocation skills. They live lonely lives a world apart, but become close friends through their correspondence. Dealing with a disability and the challenge of being different are at the core of this engaging work of young adult fiction.
Through letters in alternating chapters, Thomas tells a humorous, but also serious story of two teens growing up in isolation. Careful readers will enjoy seeing the plot unfold and be satisfied by the multi-faceted conclusion.
Librarians will find this work of fiction appealing to those that enjoy quasi-realistic fiction with an epistolary approach. However, the hint of fantasy makes the story intriguing for those that enjoy mystery and science fiction.
Published by Bloomsbury, Macmillan on June 2, 2015.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

App Review: The UnStealer

THE UNSTEALER by Joshua and Donna Wilson is cute picture e-book app for children.
In this adorable app for ages 6-8, the UnStealer takes “un”s. For instance, he turns unhappy situations into happy ones and changes an unfriendly, untrained dog into a friendly, trained dog. The app is only 18 pages long, but it’s effective in conveying a series of short stories.
Interactive elements are triggered by touching, dragging, and tilting the screen. Users touch the first word of the paragraph for audio narration. Touching colored words activates animation. Users return to the menu by touching the bottom of the screen.
The artwork is colorful and the font style is perfect for young readers.
The story is a great way to introduce the idea of descriptive words and discuss how removing just a couple letters turns a negative situation into a positive one.
Librarians and language arts teachers will enjoy the positive message and learning connections. Add this to your picture book apps for language arts.
Published by The Happy Dandelion. Learn more at http://www.thehappydandelion.com/.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Book Review: Circus Mirandus

CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley is a middle grade fantasy filled with mysterious magic and family secrets.
Micah grew up hearing his grandfather’s stories about a magical circus. Now on his death bed, Grandpa Ephraim is hoping to communicate with the Lightbender who promised him a miracle when he attended this circus long ago. Micah and his friend Jenny set out on a quest to find the circus and help Ephraim get his wish, but it won’t be easy with Great-Aunt Gertrudis’ interference.
Beasley does an exceptional job balancing a boy’s magical hopes with the reality of death. This story of faith and yearning is written in a way that middle grade readers will understand.
Librarians will want to market this book to middle grade readers who enjoy magical characters that bridge reality and fantasy. Reminiscent of A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, pair it with other books that have roots in reality with a twist of magic. Or, add it to a display of books about the circus that also includes nonfiction works about circus life.
For the book website, go to http://www.circusmirandus.com/.
To learn more about the author, go to http://cassiebeasley.com/.
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group on June 2, 2015.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Website Review: PhET Interactive Simulations

The PhET INTERACTIVE SIMULATIONS website from the University of Colorado contains engaging, educational simulations for math and science.
The goal of the project is to help students engage in STEM through inquiry-based experiences with real-world connections. The website contains simulations in physics, biology, chemistry, earth science, and math. Users can search by grade level or device.
The simulations are fun, intuitive, and easy-to-use. Simulations actively involve users in learning by clicking and dragging objects, using a slider to change parameters, choosing among options using radio buttons, and making measurements with various simulated tools such as rulers, stop-watches, voltmeters, and thermometers. As students work their way through the simulations, they receive immediate feedback based on their choices.
The teacher resources section provides tips for using the simulations and links to instructional materials such as labs, homework assignments, lectures, activities, concept questions, and other learning resources that connect with the simulations.
Resources are also provided to help teachers and students run the simulations. The simulations can be used on the website or downloaded and played on a computer. Keep in mind that that Flash versions won’t run on the iPad, but the HTML5 versions will run fine.
Finally, the website contains a page focusing on the research that’s been conducted into the design and use of interactive simulations in teaching and learning.
Librarians will find a wide range of STEM topics addressed in the simulations. Work with teachers to connect these simulations with science standards and other classroom activities. Also use the simulations to promote the idea of inquiry-based learning.
To explore the website, go to http://phet.colorado.edu/.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Book Review: Proof of Forever

PROOF OF FOREVER by Lexa Hillyer is a coming-of-age fantasy exploring what happens when four high school friends attend a summer camp reunion.
The flash of a photo booth camera transports four teens back to their last few days of summer camp a couple years earlier. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe have grown apart, but must work together to figure out how to get “back to the future” while making the most of their second chance summer.
A great summer read, this book does an excellent job bridging the classic “group of girls” story with an interesting fantasy twist. This combination provides the opportunity for more in-depth character development than is generally found in either genre.
Librarians will find a couple different audiences for this book. First, fans of “chick lit” and contemporary romance will be drawn to the focus on friendship and relationships. Second, those who enjoy time-travel stories will appreciate the fantasy situation.
With lots of “friendship foursome” books available, consider a summer reading display featuring this book along with others like The Sisterhood of the Traveling books.
To learn more about this new author, go to http://www.lexahillyer.com/.
Published by HarperTeen on May 2, 2015.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

App Review: DragonBox

The DRAGONBOX 5+ and DRAGONBOX 12+ apps are a unique and engaging way to teach algebra.
The learner-centered approach focuses on discovering algebraic operations without the stress of direct instruction.
Users begin by choosing an avatar. A levels page is displayed showing 20 levels that can be unlocked for the first “chapter”. Children start with the first level and are provided with some basic visual instructions. Students won’t even realize they’re learning the basics of algebra.
The mixture of quirky characters and highly-interactive game activities make this app extremely appealing to students. Because it looks and plays like their favorite games, they’ll immediately be drawn into the format.
What makes their approach distinct is that the game isn’t separate from the instruction. It’s truly an example of gamification. In other words, game-design and mechanics are used to engage learners in solving problems and learning concepts.
The first DragonBox Algebra is designed for ages 5 and up and the second is for middle and high school students. A parent/teacher guide can be downloaded along with a walkthrough and rules to help learners succeed. Worksheets are also available.
DragonBox would be a great addition to the school library and math classroom collection. It would be particularly useful for reluctant learners and students having difficulty understanding the basics of algebra. The high-fun, low-stress environment is perfect for students who proclaim that they hate math.
To learn more about the app, go to http://www.dragonboxapp.com/.
Published by WeWantToKnow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Website Review: America's Byways

AMERICA’S BYWAYS is a website that describes 150 distinct and diverse scenic roadways across the United States. Each “Byway” or “All-American Road” was selected by the National Scenic Byways Program for its archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and/or scenic qualities.
The website provides access to the the byways through a clickable map. An annotated, alphabetical list of the roads is also available with a short description, and a link to a page providing detailed information. Each byway page includes an overview including the length of the road, time to drive it, fees, and local information. A map and directions are also included along with a set of photos.
Librarians will find this website to be a fun starting point for geography and social studies projects. Involve youth in selecting a region of the United States and exploring the byways in the area. Connect the project to math by asking students to use local gas prices to figure out the cost of driving the length of the road. Use a website like TripAdvisor to local hotels, restaurants, and activities along the route.
To visit the website, go to http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/byways.
Published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Scarlett Undercover

SCARLETT UNDERCOVER by Jennifer Latham is a riveting detective novel for today’s teens. Move over Nancy Drew, Scarlett is on the case.
Having graduated from high school early, Scarlett has established herself as an urban, private detective. Her matter of fact approach is reminiscent of Joe Friday of Dragnet fame. Even the cadence of Latham’s writing fits with the methodical approach of Scarlett’s investigation.
What begins as an investigation of a questionable suicide, turn into a heart-pounding quest involving ancient artifacts, perceived magical powers, and possibly the truth about the death of Scarlett’s father.
Designed for ages 12 and up, this mystery provides an alternative to traditional detective novel for young adults. This sharp, black Muslim heroine provides a fresh perspective for the mystery genre and introduces readers to a diverse cast of fascinating characters. This book is an important purchase for those seeing to expand their inclusion of diverse works in their library collection.
To learn more about the author, go to her website at http://www.jenniferlatham.com/.
Published by Little, Brown and Company on May 19, 2015.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Book Review: The Orphan Army

THE ORPHAN ARMY by Jonathan Maberry is the first book in the new Nightsiders fantasy series.
When Earth is invaded by aliens, young Milo becomes part of a group of scavengers helping soldiers in a remote area of the Louisiana bayou. During a scouting expedition, Milo stumbles upon magical creatures who are also battling the alien invaders. Together, they form a ragtag army, save their friends, and take back an ancient, magical artifact stolen by the evil Huntsman.
This fast-paced, science fiction adventure is well-written with engaging plot elements that keep the heart-pounding tension going from start to finish. Middle grade readers will enjoy the banter among the well-developed fantasy creatures reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy. The author skillful interweaves dream segments and diary entries to add appeal.
With both giant bug aliens and magical creatures, this new series will appeal to a wide range of fantasy and science fiction fans. Youth will be begging librarians for the next book in this hot new series.
To learn about the author, go to http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/.
Published by Simon & Schuster, May 19, 2015.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tech Review: World Landmarks Explorer

WORLD LANDMARKS EXPLORER is an engaging geography and social studies app from Peapod Labs.
The easy-to-use interface provided access to 112 landmarks in 53 countries around the world.
Users are presented with a scrolling page of locations organized alphabetically. Three square icons are presented for each landmark. Each landmark includes the name and location of the landmark as well as the country flag. Users also have the option to zoom-in to see an interactive satellite image of the location, share the landmark with others, or go back to the list of options. Existing YouTube videos by producers such as BBC provide details about each landmark. Existing photos such as those from Flickr as also displayed. To go to the next image/video, users simply swish.
Although this app is a fun way to explore the world’s landmarks, there are some problems with the software. First, since existing resources such as YouTube videos are used, some are missing. Users simply receive a “This video does not exist” error message. Second, there’s no consistency in video content. The app really needs some basic information about each landmark to provide an introduction to each site.
While the app is lacking in terms of content, it would be a great way for youth to explore many of the world’s most amazing places and choose one for a more in-depth investigation. Ask students to select one of the landmarks and brainstorm questions they have based on the images and videos in the app. Then, encourage them to conduct an inquiry using your school library’s many resources including books, databases, and other quality, informational materials.
You don’t need this app on all your devices. Instead, download it on a few devises and ask students to work in small groups or use it in a display or stations.
Published by Peapod Labs.

Tech Review: National Pollinator Week

NATIONAL POLLINATOR WEEK is June 15-21, 2015. Pollinator Partnership is an informational website the promotes the health of pollinators that are critical to food and ecosystems. There’s also an app available called BeeSmart: Pollinator Gardener that guides users through the process of selecting plants for pollination.
Sponsored by dozens of government agencies, industries and corporations, non-profit organizations, and foundations, the website includes guides, helpful resources, and ways to get involved with protecting pollinators.
The “About Us” section explores information about the project’s mission, people, partners, and projects. The What Is Pollination? page answers FAQs about pollinators and pollination. Check out the Projects page for links to many ongoing activities related to pollination. The SHARE (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment) page provides step-by-step instructions for how to plant for pollination. Users can even share their project online.
The “Planting Guides” section provides free information and guides for selecting plants based on your ecoregion by zip code.
The “Useful Resources” section links to dozens of websites focusing on topics such as bees, education, farming/ranching, gardens, hunting/fishing, monarchs, medicinal plants, and more.
The “Get Involved” section explores many ways that individuals can have a positive impact by making a difference in the lives of bees, birds, butterflies, and bats. The page includes PDFs on pollinators that can be downloaded and printed, activities for kids, and other resources.
The 2015 “They Don’t Eat Their Pollinators” infographic focuses on carnivorous plants of North America and their pollinators. This poster would be excellent as part of a display featuring books and other materials about the importance of pollination.
To visit the website, go to http://www.pollinator.org.
For resources associated with Pollinator Week, go to http://www.pollinator.org/pollinator_week_2015.htm.
Download the 2015 poster at http://www.pollinator.org/poster2015_ab.
To download the BeeSmart app, go tohttp://www.pollinator.org/beesmartapp.htm

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book Review: Kissing in America

KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb takes an honest look at family, friends, and the world of romance for young adults.
Eva has read 118 romance novels, but real life is much more complicated. After her boyfriend moves to California, she decides to make a cross-country trip to surprise him. This coming-of-age, road-trip adventure explores a wide range of issues from family grief to self-discovery… and a bit of romance.
Readers will easily overlook the silly premise and enjoy Eva’s quest. Rabb has an excellent handle on contemporary issues and teen humor making the happiness and heartbreak feel authentic.
This book is difficult to pigeonhole. Librarians need to keep in mind that despite the title, it’s not solely a romance. Much of the book deals with Eva’s ability to deal with the death of her father and frustrations with her mother. The novel also contains lots of literary connections that could be distracting for youth without a background in literature. However for young adults who enjoy realistic fiction, this book has it all.
To learn more about the author, go to http://margorabb.com/.
Published by HarperCollins, May 26, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Website Review: Science News for Students

SCIENCE NEWS FOR STUDENTS is an engaging, informational website produced by the Society for Science & the Public.
The student science news is divided into five themes: atoms & forces, earth & sky, humans & health, life, and tech & math. Within each theme, subtopics are available. A search tool allows users to search by date, topic, source, readability and sort by date.
The short articles include high quality graphics including photographs and sometimes diagrams. “Power words” provide definitions of key words associated with the story and a readability score helps teachers assign articles. Each article ends citations and links to future readings. A variety of social media options are available for article sharing including Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Google+ along with email and printing.
An educator section provides resources for educators including articles organized by subject, article tools, STEM career resources, and resources for teaching science.
A blogs and resources section includes a “doing science” blog, “Eureka! Lab” blog, science project resources, and competitions.
Along with the student science section, the website also contains information about the society, student science programs, and an adult version of the science news that would also be of interest to older students.
In addition to the free website, a subscription-based service is available for both paper and iPad.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Book Review: Lost in the Sun

LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff is a powerful work of realistic fiction focusing on a boy’s struggle to move on after a traumatic experience.
Trent is tormented by a death for which he feels responsible. His emotional agony causes him to rebel and angrily lash out at his family and friends. Although his parents, teachers, and a special friend try to help, it takes time for Trent to slowly learn to love others again and ultimately himself.
Graff’s complex characters are at the core of this authentic story. Trent’s anguish is skillfully played out in everyday situations that spiral out of control. From his caring teacher to his steadfast friend, Graff does an outstanding job inventing compassion characters who support Trent in his darkest moments.
Librarians will find this heart wrenching book to be popular with youth who enjoy character-driven stories. Although written for the middle grades, young adults will be drawn to the themes and complex emotions. It’s rare to find an emotionally charged book written from a boy’s perspective, so use this novel to engage young men in realistic fiction.
Learn more about the author at http://www.lisagraff.com/.
Published by Philomel Books, Penguin Young Readers in May 26, 2015.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Tech Review: Rex the Roach

REX THE ROACH is an adorable, interactive, picture book ebook app for children.
Designed for ages 6-8, this engaging ebook tells the story of Rex the robot cockroach. Rex isn’t a naughty roach, he’s just a poor listener which leads to trouble. When he gets lost, he encounters lots of interesting creatures on his way home.
Each page contains an interactive element that’s easily found by clicking on the robot finger. This interactive feature displays additional text, starts animated sequences, and moves from page to page. Clicking on parts of the screen related to the story may also trigger animation. In some cases, readers may need to re-read the screen to determine how to proceed making this book great for promoting reading comprehension. Readers can always swipe the screen to continue.
A menu of options called the “choose-a-matic” is accessed through a green bar at the bottom of the screen. Uses can go to particular pages or adjust the sound. They can also choose between the “I Will Read” and “Read to Me” options.
The charming illustrations will appeal to young children. The audio narrative is clear and soothing, The paragraphs of information are large and clear enough to read easily. However, the font may be distracting for early readers. American readers to be aware that British spelling is used such as “realised” rather than realized”.
Librarians will want to add this ebook app to their growing collection of interactive picture books.
Published by Software Results.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Book Review: Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats

MISS HAZELTINE’S HOME FOR SHY AND FEARFUL CATS by Alicia Potter is the charming story of a scaredy-cat who learns to be brave.
When Crumb comes to live with Miss Hazeltine, he’s timid and shy. He listens carefully to lessons about bravery, but it’s not until Miss Hazeltine is in trouble that summons his inner courage.
Readers will enjoy Birgitta Sif’s whimsical illustrations and teachers will welcome Alicia Potter’s easy-to-read narrative that’s perfect for the read-aloud situations.
Librarians will appreciate Miss Hazeltine’s approach to teaching. She models important cat skills, but lets her pupils proceed at their own pace. The themes of bravery, courage, and overcoming shyness will resonate with many children.
To learn more about the author, go to http://www.aliciapotterbooks.com/.
To learn more about the illustrator, go to http://www.birgittasif.com/.
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on May 12, 2015.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Book Review: We Are All Made of Molecules

WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by Susin Nielsen is an authentic work of realistic fiction examining an emerging, 21st century blended family.
Thirteen-year-old Stewart and fourteen-year-old Ashley are thrown together when their parents decide to move in together. Their story is told through alternating chapters that feature nerdy Stewart and bitchy Ashley describing their frustrations dealing with this new arrangement and their encounters with family and friends. Along the way, the story incorporates timely characters including a gay father, a complex bully, and multifaceted friends.
Nielsen’s well-written story combines humor with realistic situations to create a convincing, positive tale for today’s teens. She’s successful at making her story uplifting without becoming preachy.
Librarians will find a broad audience for this funny, yet moving young adult novel. Nielsen’s work is a welcome relief to the many heavy YA realistic fiction books published this year. Add it to your list of lighter summer reads.
Learn more about the author at http://susinnielsen.com/.
Published by Wendy Lamb Books and Random House Teens on May 12, 2015.

Website Review: Occupational Outlook Handbook

The OCCUPATIONAL OUTLOOK HANDBOOK (OOH) from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is an online reference resource containing career information about hundreds of occupations.
The entry page contains a list of occupations organized into groups such as healthcare and legal. Users can also select occupations by median pay, entry-level education, on-the-job training, number of new jobs projected, and growth rather projection. In addition, options are provided to browse the A-Z index and explore occupations by highest paying, fastest growing, and most new jobs. Finally, users can explore FAQs, the glossary, a teacher’s guide, and career outlook.
The “Occupation Finder” provides a master list of 580 entries with tools to narrow the search by education, training, projected new jobs, projected growth, and median pay. A key word search is also available.
Each career profile contains a summary, what they do, work environment, how to become one, pay, job outlook, similar occupations, and more information.
This easy-to-use website is a great resource for informational reading activities. It’s also a excellent way to jumpstart a career exploration project. A Teachers Guide provides ideas for how the website might be used. It also links to other websites with career information.
Most libraries have a print copy of the OOH in their reference section, however the website provides an effective resource for a whole-class experience.
To learn more, go to the website at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

App Review: Plants

PLANTS by TinyBop is the second interactive playscapes app in The Explorer’s Library.
Designed to “spark discovery and a deeper understanding of the world”, this science app focuses on the world of plants. Geared to ages 4 and up, very few instructions are provided. Instead, users are encouraged to click and drag their way around the interactive app environment.
Users begin by creating an avatar. The app is organized into interactive dioramas that explore grasslands, forest, and desert settings that youth can explore. A crank icon reveals a menu allowing the user to turn labels on and off, change languages, control volume, and adjust other settings. Users also use the menu changes diorama and explore in-depth features.
As users explore each scene, they encounter more in-depth diagrams of plants that highlight particular features. Moving or clicking elements trigger features such as daylight or rain showers. A slide is available so users can even see a cross section underground. It’s also possible to zoom in and back out of the diorama.
A PDF version of the Plants Handbook is available to download and print. It contains lots of ideas for helping children work their way through the app.
This amazing app is highly recommended for elementary libraries and science classrooms and can be used across grade levels.
To learn about the other apps in this series, go to http://tinybop.com/apps.
Published by Tinybop.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Book Review: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER by Kelly Jones is a charming and fun fantasy about a twelve-year-old girl who moves to a farm and stumbles upon chickens with superpowers.
With the help of family and friends Sophie becomes a poultry farmer, but faces the challenge of dealing with a chicken thief who’ll do anything to steal her special chickens.
The story unfolds in letters written by Sophie to her deceased great-uncle and grandmother. Sophie also communicates with the owner of a poultry supply company who helps her learn about raising chickens.
The author does an outstanding job seamlessly weaving in topics related to diversity without making it the focus of the story. From Sophie’s brown skin to a passing reference to Jane’s girlfriend, readers are exposed to authentic situations, relationships, and reactions. There’s even a great recipe for migas.
Katie Kath’s whimsical illustrations add to the appeal of the story and also visualize the diversity represented in the book.
Librarians will be happy to see Sophie riding her bike to the library and interacting with a caring librarian. Many readers will particularly enjoy the informational pages describing the breeds and care of chickens.
Children who enjoy farm settings, humorous stories, and animal books will be delighted to find a novel that combines all three into an engaging, fast-paced fantasy.
To learn more about the author, go to http://curiosityjones.net/.
Published by Alfred A. Knopf (Random House) on May 12, 2015.