Friday, July 31, 2015

Website Review: Writer's Workshop: Writer Resources

WRITERS WORKSHOP: WRITER RESOURCES website from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign contains comprehensive guides to grammar, citation styles, ESL resources, and writing tips.
The Center for Writing Studies has developed high quality resources for young adults that explain and illustrate important writing rules, guidelines, and tips. Although aimed at the college level, the materials are also practical for middle and high school students.
The Grammar Handbook provides a comprehensive and easy-to-understand resource to review Parts of Speech, Phrases, Clauses, Sentences and Sentence Elements, and Common Usage Problems. Each concept is carefully explained and illustrated with examples.
The Citation Styles section introduces and illustrates the American Psychological Association (APA) style and the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. It also addresses common questions about Chicago Style, citing social media, and other FAQs.
The ESL Resources provides links to useful websites focusing on English as a Second Language (ESL).
The Writing Tips area offers advice for students with specific needs related to the writing process. In addition to general ideas, tips are provided for specific genre and for taking essay exams.
From basic grammar questions to citation problems, librarians often assist students working on writing projects. This website provides an excellent quick reference to help address common questions.
To learn more, go to the website at

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book Review: Where's Walrus? and Penguin?

WHERE’S WALRUS? AND PENGUIN? by Stephen Savage is a follow-up to the popular Where’s Walrus (2011) picture book.
This charming, wordless story takes zoo escapees Walrus and Penguin on an adventure through the city. All goes well until a baseball game and a trip to the hospital. Despite the accident, children will cheer the happy ending.
Using simple shapes, basic colors, and interesting patterns, Savage is able to effectively hide Walrus and Penguin in plain sight. The pair use fascinating disguises to avoid detection by the zookeeper. Children will enjoy finding the animals on each two-spread.
Librarians will find a huge audience for this adorable series. It’s the perfect chance to bring out the flannel board and retell the story with other animals.
To learn about the author/illustrator, go to
Published by Scholastic on August 25, 2015.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

App Review: DIY Nano

The DIY NANO app is a fun way to learn about the scale of atoms and molecules.
Developed by The Lawrence Hall of Science, the app involves youth in investigating nano science and how it’s changing our society.
The Activities section contains activities related to Size and Properties, Tools and Techniques, Nano and Nature, and Nano and Our Lives. Each activity begins with a question followed by a summary, materials, instructions, and explanation. High quality images accompany each activity. Related videos are also provided.
The Video area provides access to 1-10 minutes videos focusing on specific topics related to nano science.
The WhatIsNano link provides access to the website. This website may be used without access to the app. It contains information about the annual NanoDays events each spring, nano exhibitions, and information for educators about nanotechnology. Many of the resources from the app are available online website as well as many additional resources.
Nano science is currently very popular in schools. Consider hosting a “nano” event in your library. Create your own exhibition that includes hands-on activities, book resources, and displays.
To access the website, go to

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: What You Left Behind

WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jessica Verdi is an authentic and moving story about a teenager coming to terms with fatherhood.
The day Meg dies of cancer, he leaves boyfriend Ryden with a newborn daughter. Without time to grieve, Ryden is thrust into the world of infant care. In search of answers, he seeks out Meg’s journals and a father he’s never met. Will Ryden’s quest for answers help him let go of the past?
Verdi’s present-tense narrative seamlessly weaves in flashbacks and journal entries to help readers empathize with Ryden’s feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The fast-paced plot and well-defined characters combined with the author’s spot-on description of the harsh reality of teen fatherhood make for an outstanding work of realistic fiction for today’s young adult readers.
Librarians will find this YA novel to be an excellent addition to their small, but growing “teen fatherhood” collection. Both males and female teens will be hooked by the realistic portrayal of teen parenthood.
To learn more about Jessica Verdi, go to
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015. ARC from Edelweiss.

Monday, July 27, 2015

App Review: Plum's Photo Hunt

PLUM’S PHOTO HUNT is an engaging nature photo app for children from PBS Kids.
Part of the Plumb Landing environmental science PBS program, the app sends youth on missions outdoors to photograph interesting things in nature including weather, plants, and insects.
Aimed at children 6 through 9, app users are presented with three options: photo missions, photobombs, and field journal.
The Photo Missions area begins with instructions that are both text and read aloud. Youth choose from over a dozen missions such as looking for patterns and shadows in nature or seeking out animal habitats or unusual weather. The app activates the device camera allowing youth to take a photo of the requested nature element. Users can choose to save the photos.
The Photobombs section allows users to take photos with one of dozens of characters in the foreground. For instance, for a garden scene a child might select a character holding a watering can or if the student is photographing an insect a character holding a magnifying glass might be used. Youth can share their photos for possible use at the Plum Landing website.
The Field Journal allows children to save photos and text together to create an electronic field journal. Youth use photos they’ve taken within the program and add text. Additional pages can easily be added.
A parent button provides information for adults.
This easy-to-use app would be great for classroom science activities. However, keep in mind that separate user accounts aren’t generated so all the images are stored together on a single device.
To learn more about the PBS program, go to Plum Landing at
To see the Plum Landing Picture Sharing areas, go to
To download the app, go to

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Book Review: The Accident Season

THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moïra Fowley-Doyle is an eerie paranormal suspense for young adults that feels like realistic fiction.
October is accident season, literally. Each Fall, Cara and her family are mysteriously struck by horrible injuries from bruises to broken bones. They don’t talk about how it started, it’s just a fact of life. When Cara begins to wonder about a mysterious friend’s connection to their family, the story really gets rolling.
Told through the eyes of 17-year-old Cara, the author skillfully weaves together a story thick with family secrets and tragedy, but with a hint of hope. Throughout the book, readers will search for clues to unravel the mystery and determine where reality ends and the supernatural begins. Themes involving injury, abuse, drinking, sex, relationships, friends, and family are all interconnected in this unusual YA novel.
Librarians will find a huge crowd for this paranormal thriller. The perfect book for an October reading club, young adults will be drawn to both the well-developed characters and the multi-layered story that will keep them guessing. Magic realism is hot with teens, so be prepared for this book to be a hit.
To learn more about this amazing new Irish author, follow her on Twitter at or check out her Tumbler page at
Published by Kathy Dawson Books, an imprint of Penguin on August 18, 2015.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Website Review: Kids Health

KIDS HEALTH is an outstanding, informational website for kids, teens, parents, and educators.
This award-winning website is sponsored by the non-profit health organization The Nemours Foundation and contains limited ads. It’s available in both English and Spanish versions.
The Parent section contains information and advice for parents on topics including general health, growth, infections, diseases, pregnancy, nutrition, behavior, school, first aid, and other topics.
The Kids section is aimed at children including topics related to How the Body Works, Puberty & Growing Up, Staying Healthy, Recipes & Cooking, Staying Safe, Health Problem, Illnesses & Injuries, Health Problems of Grown Ups, People, Places & Things That Help, and Feelings. There are also areas containing Q&A, movies, quizzes, games, and a medical dictionary for kids. Most of the pages include attractive visuals and interactive elements to engage users. The reading level and focus are appropriate for elementary and middle grades.
The Teens area stresses topics of interest to young adults including Body, Mind, Sexual Health, Food & Fitness, Disease & Conditions, Infections, School & Jobs, Drugs & Alcohol, Staying Safe, and Recipes. In addition, the Q&A page focuses on FAQs. The “hot topics” pages feature issues of particular interest such as Lyme Disease, Depression, and Volunteering.
The Educator section provides health-related lesson plans across grade and subject areas including discussion questions, activities, handouts, and quizzes.
Librarians will appreciate the many informational reading pages that can easily be tied to the Common Core standards. Some of the pages contain a LISTEN button that reads the page aloud. This is particularly useful for reluctant readers and those with reading challenges.
To keep up-to-date on website updates, be sure to subscribe to the free, weekly newsletter.
Both mobile and desktop versions of the website are available. The mobile version works well with handheld-devices and tablets.
To learn more, go to
To access the teacher section, go to

Friday, July 24, 2015

Book Review: The Maloneys' Magical Weatherbox

THE MALONEYS’ MAGICAL WEATHERBOX by Nigel Quinlan is an unusual middle-grades fantasy adventure featuring wild weather, evildoers, and meteorological magic.
Ireland is stuck in Summer when the Weatherman’s special weatherbox is disconnected by a power hungry neighbor who wants control of the seasons. The Maloney family including children Neil, Liz, and Owen must fight and sacrifice in their battle with their evil competition and the angry elementals.
While the rural Irish setting is familiar, everything else about this unconventional tale is slightly out of kilter. From the mysterious tourist to the magical cat creature, Quinlan keeps readers guessing as they explore a weird world closely connected to our own. While some children will find this type of fantasy disorienting, others will enjoy suspending disbelief and immerse themselves in this fictional universe.
Librarians will find an audience for this strange story among children who enjoy magical situations, odd characters, and unusual weather phenomena. Those middle-grade youth with strong roots in reality and science may simply find the premise silly and nonsensical.
To learn more about Nigel Quinlan, go to
Published by Roaring Brook Press on July 28, 2015. ARC from Edelweiss.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Website Review: Author Jan Brett

JAN BRETT’s author website has been providing quality activities related to her books for nearly 20 years.
The Books section contains a complete booklist with high quality cover art. It also links to activities associated with each book.
The Activities area contains dozens of fun projects including bulletin board materials, bookmarks, certificates, alphabet resources, recipes, flashcards, and links to interactive games.
The Games pages including both computer games that can be played online and board games that can be created on paper.
The Coloring Pages provide thematic links to coloring pages that can be printed online or downloaded as PDF files.
The Murals section provides ideas and images that can be used to create murals for the library or classroom.
The videos page contains videos of Jan Brett drawing as well as her appearances and visits.
Users can use the email and printable cards pages to create communications. Or, listen to Jan Brett’s Hedge-a-Gram to hear directly from the author.
Keep up-to-date on what’s happening with Jan Brett on her blog. Participate in contests to win books and author visits. The Media and About pages provide information about the author.
This website contains endless ideas for library and classroom author and picture book activities.
Go to the website at

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book Review: The Book of Dares for Lost Friends

THE BOOK OF DARES FOR LOST FRIENDS by Jane Kelley is the heartwarming story of what it means to be a friend.
When Lanora starts middle school, she decides to drop her longtime best friend Val and seek new friendships. However when Lanora’s reinvention turns out badly, Val comes to the rescue with the help of a cat, a strange boy, and some new friends.
Although set in Manhattan near Central Park, Kelley’s story transcends time and place. Her deep understanding of friendship and families make the situations and dialogue feel authentic. Readers will enjoy Kelley’s well-developed characters and interesting plot twists. Subplots involving issues such as homelessness, shoplifting, and divorce are all on target for the middle-grade audience.
Librarians will find this quiet, hopeful story to be popular among middle-grade youth who enjoy realistic fiction with a hint of magic. Perfect for the coming-of-age crowd transitioning from elementary to middle school, the universal themes will appeal to many children.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan on July 14, 2015. ARC from Edelweiss.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Website Review: Science Bob

SCIENCE BOB is an newly revised website providing excellent science information, videos, and activities.
The Experiments section contains nearly 40 science experiments with simple instructions. Each page contains a list of materials, directions, and a description of the science behind the experiment. Additional images and videos are provided depending on the experiment. Users can also download and print a PDF version.
The Science Q&A area contains answers to over a dozen common science questions and the opportunity to send in a question. Links are also provided to help with answering science questions. These FAQs would be great on the science bulletin board in the library.
The Science Fair Ideas page discusses the difference between a demonstration and an experiment. It then provides science fair project ideas, a discussion of the scientific method, science fair resources, and some useful advice.
The Research Help area contains links to science websites in the areas of space/planets, earth science/weather, animals/nature, physical science, human body, and other links.
The Video section accesses Bob’s YouTube channel with dozens of fascinating videos.
The Experiment blog keeps users up-to-date on the latest website additions including videos, experiments, and other information.
Use the Science Bob website as the kickoff for a library science club or science fair promotion. Science Bob (Bob Pflugfelder) is also the author of the Nick and Tesla science mystery book series. Connect these books to a science display.
To extend the experience, users can follow Science Book on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
For lots of science resources, go to the Science Bob Store.
To learn more, go to

Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review: Trollhunters

TROLLHUNTERS by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus is a quirky, young adult fantasy thriller with enough macabre humor to keep teens entertained.
Jim’s uncle disappeared 45 years ago leaving his brother to become an overprotective parent. When teenager Jim is suddenly thrust into an underworld of trolls and other creatures, he must join a group of reluctant heroes to save his town.
Best known for his work on films such as Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro brings his unique blend of fantasy and humor to the young adult audience. Teaming with science fiction author/director Daniel Kraus, they’ve created an action-adventure that will be particularly popular with male teens who enjoy quirky science fiction thrillers. The book’s beautiful illustrations bring the underworld to life for readers.
Librarians will find this book to be popular among teens who enjoy titles with connections to horror and the underworld. For middle school youth who devoured series like Gregor the Overland or Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Troll Hunters can serve as a bridge to young adult literature. While not outstanding, this dark fantasy is likely to attract enough followers to become a series.
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 7, 2015. ARC from NetGalley.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Website Review: Canadian Geographic Kids

CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC KIDS is a website designed to help users explore the geography, history, and wildlife of Canada.
Part of Canadian Geographic, the kid’s section focuses on resources of interest to youth.
The Animal Facts area provides information about dozens of animals that can be accessed by species or the province where they are found. A web page is provided for each animal and the entire collection can be downloaded as a PDF file.
The Games section includes activities related to the environment, maps, animals, and nature. Screensavers and wallpaper can also be downloaded.
The Fun Facts page contains statistics, information, flags, and maps associated with Canada.
The Maps section provides access to the Canadian Atlas Online, award-winning maps, interactive world maps, historical maps, and other fascinating geography resources.
For older children, make use of the entire Canadian Geographic website including the magazine, atlas, mapping tools, travel information, photo section, and blog.
To extend the experience use their links to other geography websites. Also, connect to their social media presence such as Twitter.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent starting point for discovering information about Canada. It’s also useful for a wide range of projects related to animals, science, nature, geography, and history.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book Review: Serafina and the Black Cloak

SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty is a spooky fantasy sure to capture the imagination of middle grade readers.
Set in 1899, Serafina and her adoptive father live in the basement of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. When children staying at the estate begin to disappear, Serafina attempts to solve the mystery of their disappearance and ultimately discovers a connection to her own unusual origin.
From the first few pages, readers will be curious about Serafina’s past and speculate about her peculiar appearance and talents. Beatty’s masterful balance of suspenseful situations involving the man with the black cloak and sweet encounters between Serafina and Braeden make this fantasy appealing to a wide range of readers.
Librarians will find an audience for this book with children who enjoy fast-paced suspense, historical mystery, and spooky fantasy. However lovers of historical fiction, magical creature characters, and friendship stories will also find the book appealing.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 14, 2015.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Website Review: Build with Chrome

The BUILD WITH CHROME website provides users skills and tools for building exciting digital LEGO projects.
The LEGO Master Builder Academy section takes users through a series of challenges to help develop LEGO construction skills. Users are provided with tools and directions for creating basic projects. Completion of projects leads to new levels.
The WORLD OF BUILD area provides a map showing LEGO projects that have been created around the world. Users can pick a spot and add their own work.
The LEGO Build section displays a plate and bricks. Users can build their own projects. Users can share their work with others by copying the URLs provided.
Librarians can use this website as part of a display featuring LEGO books, bricks, and other materials related to the LEGO theme.
To visit the website, go to

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Book Review: The Six

THE SIX by Mark Alpert is a heart-pounding near-future thriller exploring artificial intelligence, digital preservation, and what it means to be human.
Adam’s body is withering away from the effects of muscular dystrophy. Along with five other terminally ill teens, Adam undergoes an operation that allows his brain to be merged with a computer to produce the first human-machine hybrids. Since the army controls the technology, The Six pioneers are obligated to work with the military on a top secret mission to destroy a rouge artificial intelligence known as Sigma who is about the exterminate human life on earth. The conclusion sets up the premise for a new series that’s likely to be popular with YA science fiction fans.
Alpert’s fast-paced plot, engaging writing style, and attention to scientific detail will be a draw for many young science and science fiction fans. Librarians will find this adventure-suspense equally popular among both male and female teens. Use this book to inspire youth to go back and read the works of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and others. Also tie this work of science fiction with nonfiction books related to artificial intelligence, robotics, genetics, and physics. The many thought-provoking issues addressed in the text make it a good choice for book club discussions.
Librarians need to be prepared for questions about when the next book in this series will be available. It’s sure to be a YA hit.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on July 7, 2015.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

App Review: Art Games 2.0

ART GAMES 2.0 from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a collection of six, engaging, interactive video games based on different artworks.
Each of the challenging art games is inspired by a different artist including Jason Middlebrook, Robert Delaunay, Clyfford Still, Jorge Pardo, Piet Mondrain, Vassily Kandinsky, Do-Ho Suh, and Vincent van Gogh. Each portal contains an ABOUT section that provides information about the artist that inspired the game including examples of their work and how they fit into art history. The HOW TO section provides game instructions, and the PLAY button begins the game. Users can use the SETTINGS option to control the sound effects, music, or other features depending on the game.
Designed for ages 4-12, each game contains a spark of learning along with the fun. For instance, the Equilibrian game inspired by Piet Mondrain requires users to think about mathematics and balance. Brushtones inspired by Vassily Kandinsky combines art, music, and patterns. All six games are very different allowing for differences in abilities and interests.
Users begin by choosing a username and password, so each participant can customize their home planet and share their progress through social media. A user’s world evolves as he or she moves through the levels of each game.
Librarians will find this app a welcome addition to their STEAM app collection that connects science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with art.
The new app version can be downloaded for free, but the online version is still available for those who prefer to use a web browser.
To download the app or play online, go to

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book Review: Duncan, the Story Dragon

DUNCAN THE STORY DRAGON by Amanda Driscoll is an adorable picture book exploring the love of books and an unusual friendship.
Written for ages 4-6, Duncan the dragon has a passion for books and a great imagination. Unfortunately, he gets so excited when he reads that he catches the books on fire! Duncan decides he needs to find a buddy who can read to him so he can finally reach “the end” of a book. Children will enjoy his quest and his unusual friend.
Driscoll uses colorful, attractive images to draw attention and spark the imagination of young readers. The short sentences and large, easy-to-read type will encourage pre-readers to follow along with the words.
Librarians will enjoy building story time events around this amazing picture book. In addition to the books and reading theme, the topics of imagination, animals, and friendship provide many additional connections.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Knopf, an imprint of Random House on June 9, 2015.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tech Review: Digital Bodleian

The DIGITAL BODLEIAN collections make print items, archives, manuscripts, maps, images, and other materials from the Boolean Libraries at the University of Oxford available online.
According to their website, the digital library’s mission is to “make portions of the Bodleian’s extraordinary library collections open to a wide variety of users from around the world for learning, teaching, and research.”
The website provides four ways to make use of the digital library. First, users can search the digital archives using a powerful search engine. Second, a user-friendly interface is provided for browsing the collections. Third, users can create their own custom collections adding tags and notes. Finally, resources can be shared using social media.
The collections can be filtered by early printed books, ephemera, history and politics, maps, oriental, prints and portraits, science and natural history, western manuscripts, or through the many other collection areas available.
Of particular interest to librarians is the Treasures of the Bodleian section focusing on well-known and often used documents. This area provides access to materials of interest to teachers and students such as a letter from an Egyptian boy to his father, Marco Polo’s Travels, and The Gutenberg Bible.
To explore the treasures section, go to
To learn more, go to the website at

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Book Review: The Night We Said Yes

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES by Lauren Gibaldi is a young adult romance that alternatives between “this summer” and “last summer”.
When Ella’s ex-boyfriend moves back to town, she must decide whether her broken heart can be mended so they can start anew. Told through short, alternating chapters, readers learn how Ella and Matt got together and discover whether their friendship can be rekindled.
From teen bands and Karaoke songs to summer parties and truth-or-dare, this coming-of-age romance is perfect for light, effortless reading. Teens who enjoy “chick lit” will flock to this summer romance. Those that prefer complex characters and deep meanings should seek out other works of contemporary, realistic fiction.
To learn about this new author, go to
Published by HarperTeen, June 2015.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Website Review: Mocomi

Mocomi is an educational website providing short, informational interactives and reading experiences.
The term “mocomi” stands for MOtion COMIcs. Originally designed for children in India, the website’s goal is to help educate young people around the world through animation and storytelling. Designed for children 12 and under, the website contains over 1500 modules across content areas. The colorful graphics and animation will appeal to elementary grade learners.
The website is divided into “fun” and “learn” sections.
The “fun” section provides interactives in the areas of arts & crafts, drawing, printables, games, stories, poems & rhymes and kid’s wallpaper.
The “learn” section includes resources related to science, math, geography, history, english, civics, culture, environment, the arts, and general knowledge. Keep in mind that these interactives weren’t designed for US schools, so not interactives apply to American education. The interactives vary in their quality and format. While some are mostly linear, informational reading experiences, others contain interactive aspects. Many take the form of infographics.
Although the website contains lots of advertising, it shouldn’t be too distracting for students.
The MocomiKids YouTube channel contains dozens of high-quality educational videos. Go to
Librarians will enjoy working their way through the interactives matching them to the curriculum.
To go to the website, go to

Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: Tommy: The Gun that Changed America

TOMMY: THE GUN THAT CHANGED AMERICA by Karen Blumenthal explores the life of John Thompson and his deadly Tommy gun.
Although originally designed for military use, the Thompson submachine gun because the choice of bank robbers, bootleggers, and gangsters during the first half of the 20th century.
In this carefully researched work of nonfiction for youth, Blumenthal discusses the history of the weapon and the well-known outlaws and law enforcement officers who used it. The author does an excellent job connecting early gun control laws to today’s debate about the role of guns in society.
The book features primary source documents including historical photographs, maps, and diagrams. It also includes an extensive bibliography and notes.
Librarians will find this work to be popular with youth who enjoy books about the military, law enforcement, and crime. The fast-paced, fascinating narrative will appeal to reluctant readers. Look for it on the short list for the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal and other awards for nonfiction writing for youth for 2015.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Roaring Brook, an imprint of Macmillan USA.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Website Review: COSI Online Activities

The COSI (Center for Science and Industry) ONLINE ACTIVITIES contains fun and educational online activities connected with a variety of science topics.
Plan It Green activity involves youth in building a city and making decisions about renewable energy sources. Users can connect with friends online for a collaborative experience.
Bet the Farm is an investment game. Simple Machines is an interactive tutorial that introduces basic concepts and provides examples. In the Zoom, Drag, Push, Stop, and Go interactives, users learn about science while exploring outer space, skydiving, water skiing, driving, and other fun environments.
The project also links to the popular EdHeads activities including over a dozen other activities.
This website is a great way for librarians to start a conversation with science teachers about the value of adding learning interactives into their lessons.
To explore the website, go to

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Book Review: Shadowshaper

SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older is an engaging urban fantasy following a Latina teen who discovers a world of magic, spirituality, and ancient secrets in her Brooklyn neighborhood.
Walking corpses, spooky spirits, and a crying mural introduce Sierra to a world of magic and shadowshapers. Friends and family members are reluctant to talk about this supernatural world, so Sierra must use her head, heart, and passion for art to survive and unlock the mysteries surrounding this strange spirit world.
Older’s conversational approach immerses readers in the urban setting and invites readers to visualize the artwork, the city, and the supernatural aspects of the story.
Librarians will find a broad, young adult audience for this book. While the story isn’t categorized as a romance, readers will be drawn to the relationship between Sierra and her friend Robbie. Those who enjoy contemporary realistic fiction are likely to enjoy the book even with its fantasy elements. Young anthropologists will like the aspects of the story that connect community, ancestry, and family. Finally, the magical and supernatural aspects are sure to be popular with fans of fantasy.
For librarians seeking books with diversity, this would be an excellent choice.
To learn about the author, go to
Published by Levine, an imprint of Scholastic on June 30, 2015.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Tech Review: All About Birds

The ALL ABOUT BIRDS website (and app) from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides high-quality information about 599 species of birds.
The Bird Guide section contains a database of birds that can be browsed by name and shape or taxonomy. A table also shows the most popular birds. For each bird, lots of information is provided including identification, life history, sound, images, and video.
The Bird Cams section provides access to fascinating bird cams for barn owls, barred owls, hawks, herons, ospreys, albatross and Cornell feeders.
The Birding Basics section contains frequently asked questions, ideas for becoming a bird watcher, suggestions for attracting birds, help for taking photographs, a list of birding festivals, favorite places, and more.
The Living Bird section contains articles from Living Bird Magazine in the areas of science, conservation, art, people, travel, history, and photography.
The Get Involved section provides information about citizen science and choosing projects. Many Citizen Science projects are available such as the Yard Map, BirdSleuth, CamClickr, Urban Birds, and Great Backyard Bird Count.
To access specific information, use the search tool to explore the website and/or bird guide.
To keep up-to-date on new information, check out the social media elements including the blog, Facebook page, Pinterest site, Google+, and Twitter.
A YouTube channel provides access to dozens of videos. Go to
The Merlin Bird ID App provides free, instant identification help for 400 North American birds. To download the app, go to…/merlin-bird-id-by-c…/id773457673….
To visit the website, go to

Monday, July 06, 2015

Book Review: The Last Leaves Falling

THE LAST LEAVES FALLING by Sarah Benwell tells the story of an lonely teenager dealing with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Set in Japan, Sora becomes increasingly isolated as his ALS progresses. He seeks solace in friendships he forms online with people who see him as more than his disease. These friends are supportive as he contemplates his end of life choices.
Benwell does an excellent job moving between online conversations and short narrative segments. Her portrayal of a teenager with ALS is authentic, painful, and heart wrenching, yet this beautifully written book isn’t depressing.
Librarians will find readers among those who enjoy realistic stories about Internet friendships, acceptance, and disabilities. Keep in mind that the topic of assisted suicide is central to the story.
To learn more about ALS, go to
Published by Simon & Schuster, June 2015.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Website Review: Americans with Disabilities Act 25th Anniversary

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, 2015.
To learn about the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), go to the government website at
The ADA Anniversary Tool Kit website at lots of resources to support this important anniversary. The ADA25 Pledge page focuses on ways to celebrate and recommit to the ADA. The ADA Anniversary Publications page provides definitions, history, statistics, and the official proclamation. The ADA Resources page provides information about history, technology, laws, and the impact of ADA on business, employment, and government. The ADA Videos page provides informational and educational videos about ADA and disabilities.
Also, check out the ADA Legacy Project at This website is intended to preserve, celebrate, and educate people about the disability rights movement.
Librarians may wish to set up a display featuring both fiction and nonfiction works related to people with disabilities. Use the ADA Anniversary media kit for lots of ideas.
To download the media kit, go to
To learn more about how the American Library Association is celebrating this anniversary, go to…/ascla-celebrates-25th-anniversary-amer….

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Book Review: The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me

THE SECRETS OF BLUEBERRIES, BROTHERS, MOOSE & ME by Sara Nickerson tells the heart-warming story of twelve-year-old Missy who takes a job picking blueberries over the summer.
In this coming-of-age story, Missy learns that the world isn’t black and white, good or evil, or even right versus wrong. Instead, connections like divorce and remarriage, friendships, sibling relationships, and a family farm feud contain multiple perspectives that evolve over time.
Nickerson’s conversational writing style is perfect for middle grade youth negotiating a constantly changing world. Many youth will relate to Missy’s wide range of emotions regarding work and family.
Librarians will find a large audience for this realistic, coming-of-age novel that bridges the middle grades and young adult genres. While any of today’s novels contain over-the-top drama, this quiet story is a good choice for readers seeking relatable characters and authentic situations with a twist of secrets and the feeling of magic.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin on July 21, 2015.

Friday, July 03, 2015

App Review: The Castle of Nightmares

THE CASTLE OF NIGHTMARES by Denis Jugo is a creepy interactive ebook about a boy’s experience with scary dreams.
Ten-year-old John becomes immersed in a dream where he tries to save a group of children from the queen of nightmares. Aimed at the lower middle grades, the story is spooky without being scary.
Readers work their way through the linear reading experience by clicking the forward or backward arrows. Interactive elements are found on each page from animating creepy spiders to exploring a castle map. Spooky music and sound effects are woven throughout the story.
The visuals are attractive and the animations contribute to the creepy atmosphere. While the font is generally easy-to-read, there are places where the text color could use more contrast. Some paragraphs are centered rather than left aligned making them a little more difficult to read.
While the writing won’t win any literary awards, it’s fine for budding fans of Alfred Hitchcock or other creepy classics. This ebook is perfect for reading under the bedcovers during a thunderstorm.
Librarians will find this ebook fantasy to be a hit with those who enjoy interactive stories.
To purchase/download the book, go to
Published by Pixy Interactive.