Thursday, December 31, 2015

Book Review: My First Book of Football

MY FIRST BOOK OF FOOTBALL by Beth Bugler and Mark Bechtel is a fun way to introduce buddying sports fans to the world of NFL football.
Published by Time Inc. Books and Sports Illustrated Kids, this colorful picture book will attract even the most reluctant reader. Following the four quarters of a game, the book features photographs of NFL players, coaches, and officials. Readers follow a young cartoon football player who follows the action and learns about the game.
From explaining basic vocabulary such as scrimmage to identifying the parts of the playing field, this well-designed book introduces and reinforces key concepts to young readers.
From the large font and speech bubbles to the bright colored background and action photos of players, children will be drawn into the informational narrative. A bit of humor enhances the appeal.
Librarians will find a large audience for this first book in the new A Rookie Book series. Although no female characters are represented, young sports fans aren’t likely to complain. However, librarians creating a sports display might want to seek out a companion book with a female character.
Published by Time Inc. Books and Sports Illustrated Kids in Fall 2015. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Technology Review: Plum Landing

The PLUM LANDING website and apps are a companion to the popular PBS Kids program focusing on environmental science.
Designed for ages six through nine, the website contains a wide range of motivating science activities.
The Games section includes over a dozen games that encourage children to play, explore, create, and share what they learn about our amazing planet. Children learn concepts related to soil, seeds, invasive species, ecosystems, and other fascinating topics.
The Videos section plays short, animated videos focusing on ecosystems such as the desert, jungle, and mountain regions.
The Ship section highlights the television program’s featured characters.
The Pictures section features images submitted by users of the Nature Sketchpad website and Plum’s Photo Hunt app.
The Parents section contains fun family adventure ideas and tips for getting families outdoors.
The Educators area provides curriculum resources including activities and media resources organized thematically and aligned to science standards.
Two apps allow children to extend the experience. The Plum’s Creaturizer app provides tools to build crazy creatures and Plum’s Photo Hunt encourages children to photograph wonders in their own backyard.
Build the Plum character into a primary grades library center focusing on environment science topics. Incorporate a tablet or laptop along with science books and objects related to nature themes.
To visit the website, go to

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Book Review: Go Green!

GO GREEN! by Paul A. Reynolds is the second book in the Sydney & Simon series exploring topics related to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics).
Mouse twins Sydney and Simon are creative problem-solvers with a mission. While on a field trip, the pair learn that trash ends up in the ocean hurting animals like green sea turtles. They create a plan to convince the whole town to start recycling, reusing, and reducing.
Written for the early and intermediate grades, the beginning chapter book includes many bright colored illustrations to engage readers with the interesting characters and storyline. In addition to the main storyline, the book includes a glossary and author’s note focusing on topics related to STEAM.
Librarians will enjoy the STEAM theme that includes lots of art and music in addition to science information. The beginning chapter book approach makes this a great book for language arts activities connected with STEAM. Consider a makerspace station called the “steam studio” focusing on making instruments from recycled materials. Include other books related to the recycle, reuse, and reduce theme.
Visit FableVision studios to learn more about the author/illustrator team at
Published by Charlesbridge Publishing on October 13, 2015. ARC courtesy of publisher.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Book Review: Omaha Beach on D-Day

OMAHA BEACH ON D-DAY by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël, Robert, Capa, and others is an immersive visual history of a photojournalist’s experiences in World War II.
Taking a unique visual approach, readers experience World War II through the eyes of a reporter using drawings and then photographs to tell the story. The first half of this amazing book is presented as a graphic biography using a graphic-novel style approach to share the story surrounding the D-Day experience from the perspective of a reporter. The second half of the book presents the ten captioned photographs taken by Robert Capa on D-Day. The book concludes with an exploration of the career of Robert Capa who is known as one of the “fathers of photojournalism”.
While some students enjoy studying history, others hate it. This visually-rich history is an engaging way to personalize the war for readers. While some youth will be drawn to the military or photojournalism aspects, others will be attracted to the compelling story of one man’s experiences.
Librarians will find that this graphic biography appeals to tween and teen audiences who enjoy military themes, history, and photojournalism. It would be particularly useful for reluctant readers and students looking for non-traditional ways to explore world history.
This is the first book in a new series focusing on key moments in World War II history. This collection will be popular in both middle and high school libraries.
For those interested in the photography of Robert Capa, go to
Published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan on October 20, 2015. ARC provided by publisher.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Book Review: A Thousand Nights

A THOUSAND NIGHTS by E.K. Johnston is a fascinating adaptation of the famous Arabian Nights story.
Set in the ancient Middle East, a desert girl is forced to marry a king who has been possessed by a mythic demon. Although the king has killed hundreds of wives before her, he is intrigued by his latest conquest and decides to let her live one day at a time. Slowly, the desert girl is transformed through the power of mind, magic, and a will to survive.
Blending elements of fantasy with traditional storytelling, Johnston skillfully weaves a story of power, belief, and family love. Readers will be captivated by the setting and entranced by the beautifully written prose.
Librarians will find a broad audience for this unusual young adult novel. Those who enjoy both fantasy and historical novels will enjoy the intersection of traditional storytelling, ancient mythology, and fantasy.
To learn more about this award-winning author, go to
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 6, 2015. ARC from the publisher.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Website Review: Challenge: Robots

CHALLENGE: ROBOTS from National Geographic is an educational game involving youth in solving real-world problems.
Designed for grades three through ten, the online activities explore key concepts related to engineering. Students act as engineers to solve a series of problems at RoboWorks. Students begin with an orientation that reviews the six steps of the engineering process. After completing the Orientation, students work their way through a series of online activities including Build a Robot, Robotic Bees, Ocean Cleanup, and Tunnel Explorer.
Librarians will find this resource to be a motivating way to promote the engineering aspect of STEAM. An educator guide provides lots of extension activities for both the library and classroom settings.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Book Review: Dream On, Amber

DREAM ON, AMBER by Emma Shevah is an authentic, humorous story for middle grade readers.
Entering middle school is tough enough for most children, but Amber is a half-Japanese and half-Italian with an absent father making life even more difficult. When her younger sister begins writing letters to their father asking for him to attend her birthday party, Amber decides to answer the letters. Subplots related to art, puppy love, and earning money bring the story to life.
Filled with cute doodles and other illustrations, librarians will find this poignant novel to be popular with young readers. The combination of humor and typical middle school problems will appeal to many readers. Themes related to an absent father and multicultural identity with resonate with many readers.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on October 6, 2015.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Website Review: KidLit TV

KIDLIT TV is a website exploring the world of children’s literature.
Designed for parents and educators, the online resource contains audio, video, and links to resources related to reading and children’s books.
The Storymakers series uses a talk show format to feature authors and illustrators.
The Field Trip section explores topics in children’s literature such as pop up books.
The Inside Scoop area features upcoming titles and kid lit news.
The Read Out Loud section contains videos of author’s reading their books aloud.
In addition, the website contains a community area featuring members of the children’s literature community from teachers and librarians to authors.
In addition to the website, the videos are available at YouTube. The YouTube Channel also links to book trailers and children’s videos from publishers and other sources.
KidLit TV is a fun way to keep up with what’s happening in children’s literature. Librarians will find the resource useful for locating new books and project ideas.
To visit the website, go to
To visit the YouTube channel, go to

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Review: Listen to the Moon

LISTEN TO THE MOON by Michael Morpurgo is a poignant story of prejudice, loss, and rediscovery set during World War I.
While fishing off the Scilly Isles near Great Britain, Alfie and his father discover an abandoned girl on a deserted island. While some community members embrace this young waif, others shun her as a German invader. The story of how this young girl came to be marooned on the island is slowly revealed through Alfie and the recollections of various community players.
Morpurgo’s beautifully written story incorporates diary excerpts and interviews from different perspectives that keep the plot moving.
Librarians will find that the mixture of a fascinating mystery with an awe-inspiring setting will draw middle grade readers into this compelling historical story. Both boys and girls alike will enjoy the writing style, historical context, and amazing setting.
Learn more about this award-winning author at
Published by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan on October 27, 2015.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

App Review: Health IQ

HEALTH IQ from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is an engaging health trivia game.
A scientist emcee introduces a series of quizzes that contain ten questions each. The mini-games incorporate trivia questions and word scrambles. Users choose from three levels of difficulty or a random selection of questions. After answering each timed question, the scientist emcee provides readers with information about the topic and a link to additional information. Topics range from teen driver safety to the importance of sun screen. Photographs are woven into the quizzes to add interest.
Achievement badges are recorded for players who create a free account. Settings allow users to turn off the music, sound effects, and vibrations.
Librarians will find this game to be a fun way to generate interest in health topics. Consider playing the app on a tablet in a display featuring books about health and fitness. The app would also be a fun way to provide background information for youth choosing a research topic. Use the website connections for informational reading activities.
Available as both an Apple and Android App.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: Most Dangerous

MOST DANGEROUS: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR by Steve Sheinkin is a powerful, nonfiction narrative exploring issues of war, espionage, and government trust.
Written for young adults, Sheinkin skillfully tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, an analyst who exposes decades of government deceit. Tracing Ellsberg’s life from his boyhood through to the end of the Vietnam War, the author weaves together an unbiased look at the man who exposed what became known as the Pentagon Papers.
Librarians will find a large audience for this book among the growing YA fans of narrative nonfiction. In addition, the combination of war and government secrets will be attractive to readers who enjoy military and spy stories.
Youth will be drawn to connections with recent whistleblowers like Edward Snowden described in the book’s epilogue.
For many librarians who remember this time period or have read books like “All the President’s Men”, this provocative biography will help put the time period in context and revisit the key issues and events in an easy to digest chronology.
Look for this title on the “best of 2015” lists.
Learn more about the author at
Published by Roaring Brook Press an imprint of Macmillan on September 22, 2015. ARC from publisher.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Book Review: Lenny & Lucy

LENNY & LUCY by Philip C. Stead is an absorbing picture book sharing the melancholy of moving and the joy of budding friendships.
Peter isn’t happy about moving to an old house across a wooden bridge from the dark woods. He builds two pillow people to stand guard at the bridge and keep him company. When a new neighbor invites him to play, Harold begins to feel more comfortable in this strange, new setting.
Stead’s imaginative illustrations draw readers into the setting and bring Harold’s world to life. A slash of color highlights the characters and key elements of the story.
Designed for the primary grades, librarians will find this story of moving and friendship to be a popular addition to the library’s picture book collection.
To learn more about the author/illustrator, go to
Published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan on October 6, 2015. ARC from publisher.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tech Review: ASAP Science

The ASAP SCIENCE YouTube channel brings STEAM alive for young adults.
From their Science Wars Acapella Parody to lessons on music science, both students and teachers alike will grow to love this group of science geeks. Their goal is to make science fun and accessible through the use of music and fascinating science facts.
Although best known for their YouTube channel, the group has also published a book titled ASAP SCIENCE. Addressing timely questions about binge-watching TV, power naps, and brain freeze, their examples are aimed directly at the young adult audience.
Librarians will find their videos to be great resources to encourage STEAM projects that emphasize music.
Keep in mind that the group often weave in “adult” and “potty” humor into their works to attract the interest of young adults. However, high school students will find this approach hilarious. Before using a particular video with a class, be sure to watch it first.
Go to their YouTube channel at
To get their book, go to

Friday, December 18, 2015

Book Review: Dreamstrider

DREAMSTRIDER by Lindsay Smith is a fascinating young adult fantasy featuring spies, romance, and the intersection of dreams and nightmares.
Livia lives in the tunnels under Barstadt. When she shows potential as a dreamstrider, she’s offered the chance to leave her old life behind. Livia is taught to inhabit a sleeper’s body and access their consciousness for the purposes of espionage. Soon she becomes involved in a struggle that involves politics and religion in both the waking and dream worlds.
Smith uses vivid descriptions and engaging dialogue to keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
Librarians will find Dreamstrider to have crossover appeal between readers seeking thought-provoking fantasy world building and those who enjoy espionage and thrillers.
Published by Roaring Brook on October 6, 2015. ARC from publisher.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Review: First & Then

FIRST & THEN by Emma Mills combines teen romance, football, and blended families for an engaging, contemporary novel.
Devin leads a typical teen life. She has a crush on her best friend and is uncertain about life after high school. However when Devon’s cousin Foster joins the family, he shakes things up. Although he’s social inept, Foster’s talent as a kicker has drawn interest from the star football player. Devin soon learns that there are many ways to experience love.
Whether examining the fine line between friendship and romance or exploring the anguish of parental abandonment, Mills skillfully reflects the issues facing today’s teens.
Librarians will find a large audience for this book among lovers of realistic fiction. While some readers will be drawn to the Jane Austen references, others will be attracted to sports connections.
Although this is Emma Mills’ debut novel, she’s well-known for her vlog Elmify.
Check out the vlog at
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on October 13, 2015. ARC courtesy of Edelweiss.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Website Review: MinutePhysics YouTube Channel

The MINUTEPHYSICS YouTube Channel website provides fascinating, focused science videos.
Each fast-paced, one-minute video introduces a topic and provides lots of examples. The illustrator uses simple marker drawings mixed with interesting photographs to bring each concept to life.
By weaving in facts with humor, even the most reluctant student will enjoy the experience. Because the videos move very quickly, most students will need to view the clips multiple times to catch all the details.
Librarians will want to mine the YouTube channel and match the videos with the science curriculum. Use the search tool to find specific topics of interest.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review: Illuminae

ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman is a fast-paced science fiction novel using transcripts, instant messages, and other interesting means to tell an amazing outer space story.
Katy and Ezra are survivors of an attack on their remote mining colony. With the enemy in hot pursuit, a virus wreaking havoc, and an unstable artificial intelligence system in charge of the nuclear weapons, the two teens must use all their skills and resources to escape alive.
The first heart-pounding book in the new Illuminae Files series sets the stage for what’s likely to be a popular new young adult science fiction series. The author’s skillful use of fictional documents to convey the action will be attractive to many readers.
With so much of the fantasy market consumed with dystopian works, librarians will find a huge audience for this science fiction novel. This YA adventure also fits right into the resurgence of interest in science fiction works like Star Wars and Star Trek works.
To learn more about the author, go to
To learn more about the series, go to
Published by Random House for Young Readers on October 20, 2015. ARC from the publisher.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

App Review: Travel the Silk Road

TRAVEL THE SILK ROAD is an interactive learning app that immerses users in world history.
Developed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, this learning game asks users to follow the historic Silk Road exchanging goods as they travel from city to city. Each of the five cities along the way provides clues on what to trade. Players follow a map to each city and view images from the city before choosing whether to trade items such as mirrors, bamboo, or silk. If students make poor trading choices, they must go back and try again.
Librarians will find this app to provide an interesting kickoff activity or culminating experience related to the study of the Silk Road. Break students into small groups and involve them in exploring the products of each city along the silk road prior to playing the game.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Book Review: Crenshaw

CRENSHAW by Katherine Applegate tells the heart-breaking story of a boy on the brink of homelessness and his relationship with an imaginary cat.
Jackson and his family have been homeless before, so when Jackson hears his parents arguing about money he fears the worst. When Jackson lived in his family’s minivan after he was in first grade, a giant imaginary cat named Crenshaw first appeared. Crenshaw’s back to help Jackson through this latest crisis even though Jackson thinks he’s too old for an imaginary friend.
Written for the middle grades, Applegate’s authentic look at the working poor and the stress of living “on the edge” is presented in an age-appropriate manner. Readers will empathize with the characters and enjoy the comic relief of the imaginary cat who just wants to help.
Librarians will find Applegate’s fans flocking to read her latest book. Readers will not be disappointed. The painfully honest story will help young readers better understand the realities of homelessness.
Published by September 22, 2015 by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Website Review: The Professor Garfield Toon Book Reader

THE PROFESSOR GARFIELD TOON BOOK READER website contains eleven amazing graphic books for beginning readers along with matching toon creator tools.
Readers begin by choosing on a book of their choice. Clicking on the right or left side of the screen moves the reader through the pages. Arrow buttons are also available. An option is provided that reads the story aloud to the child.
The Cartoon Maker section for each book provides easy-to-use tools for creating cartoon blocks that incorporate objects and props from the story. The youth projects can be saved and printed.
A teacher section includes lots of ideas for using comics in the classroom. The books also contain optional music and are available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese.
Librarians will find this free website an excellent way to introduce primary-aged children to the graphic book format.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Review: Night of the Living Worms

NIGHT OF THE LIVING WORMS by Dave Coverly is the first book in the new Speed Bump & Slingshot Misadventures series.
With potty humor and endless puns, this wacky new series will keep chapter book readers howling. Speed Bump never gets up early enough to get the worm. However one day, Speed Bump along with his sidekick Slingshot decide to get up before dawn. The pair soon discover that the worms have something awful planned for Speed Bump’s brother Early Bird. Our heroes save the day, but their reward doesn’t turn out to be the treat Speed Bump expected.
The book’s combination of sketches, speech bubbles, and attractively displayed text will drawn in young readers.
While some of the jokes may be missed by younger children, librarians will find that the wacky illustrations and silly story will appeal to the target audience. Add this to the library’s collection of humorous chapter books for the primary grades.
Learn more about the author at
Published by Christy Ottaviano Books from Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan on October 20, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Tech Review: Weed to Wonder

The WEED TO WONDER app and website explores how a common Mexican weed was transformed into a modern food and fuel known as corn.
Developed by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the fascinating story is told through a series of tutorials that include text along with over 150 photographs, maps, diagrams, and videos. The materials are divided into six sections including an introduction, domestication, hybrid vigor, genome sequencing, jumping genes, and biofortification.
Designed for middle and high school levels, librarians will find this app/website to be a good addition to their growing “interactive e-book” collection.
To explore the website, go to

Website Review: Hungry Hiker

HUNGRY HIKER: BUILD-A-MEAL is a short, interactive web-based game from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Users begin by learning about the elements of a balanced meal. Then, players are asked to create a healthy meal. Feedback is provided for users who need aren’t able to build a plate to the required specifications. Students have unlimited opportunities to build a health plate.
Librarians will find this to be a quick and easy web-based interactive to use with students. Place it on a laptop in a healthy eating display along with books and plastic food items where youth can practice building healthy meals.
To try the website, go to

Website Review: Hour of Code

HOUR OF CODE week is an annual event in December encouraging young people to explore computer science. However, the resources are available year round.
Organized by, the website has helped millions of people learn the fundamentals of computer science.
For those wishing to spend an hour as part of the annual celebration or any time of year, go directly to the hour of code section. Themes include Minecraft, Star Wars, Frozen, Classic Maze, Flappy Code, Infinity Play Lab, Play Lab and Artist.
The Computer Science Fundamentals section is divided into four courses with options for ages 4 through 18. An accelerated course is also available for ages 10 through 18.
Galleries show stories, games, and art created by users. Registered users can choose to Make an App or Draw Something. Then, save it for later exploration and saving.
The website is an effective way to promote computer science at home or at school. The short activities would work great in a classroom or library setting. Set up a library station that includes the website along with fiction books such as Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and nonfiction works exploring tools such as SCRATCH.
To Learn an Hour of Code, go to
To go to the Code Studio, go to

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Book Review: Human Body Theater

HUMAN BODY THEATER by Maris Wicks provides an amazing visual introduction to human anatomy.
Designed for middle school youth, this work of graphic nonfiction is organized into eleven acts using a theater theme. Hosted by a skeleton, the author takes readers through the body systems layer by layer. The author effectively balances visually-rich diagrams with accurate, scientific narratives to provide a level of depth appropriate for the audience.
Tweens and teens working on science reports will find the Table of Contents useful in identifying chapters on each of the body systems. Youth will also use the glossary and bibliography as reference sources.
Librarians will find a broad readership for this engaging work of nonfiction. This book would be an excellent addition to a growing collection of graphic nonfiction options for middle school youth. Consider developing a display to feature works of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graphic nonfiction.
To learn more about the author/illustration, follow his blog at
Published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan on October 6, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, December 07, 2015

App Review: Ripped Apart

RIPPED APART from The National Museum of American History is an engaging Civil War mystery app.
Based on real people and events from history, this app-based simulation game immerses youth in a fascinating photography history collection. Participants take on the role of a Smithsonian intern solving cases. Using historical photographs, users must decipher documents to solve authentic problems. The game examines various perspectives as players learn about the causes and key players in the Civil War. In addition, users can experiment with 19th century photography using their mobile device’s camera.
The project website contains interesting information about the real-world stories that serve as the basis for the engaging simulation.
Designed for young adults, librarians will find this app to be a fun way to explore primary source materials and learn about American history. Collaborate with the history teacher to connect library and history standards related to primary source documents and information inquiry in history.
Teachers may need to provide some guidance in the use of the simulation because no in-app directions are provided.
To learn more about the project and download the app, go to

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Book Review: Finder Coal Mine Dog

FINDER: COAL MINE DOG by Alison Hart is the latest in the DOG CHRONICLES historical fiction series.
Set in 1909, young Thomas is forced to go to work in the coal mines to help support his family. Thomas takes his dog named Finder into the mines to help pull carts in the mine. When a mining accident traps Thomas and others in the mine, Finder leads them to safety.
Told from Finder’s perspective, the simple narrative is reminiscent of children’s books from the past. The pencil sketches add interest to the story.
Designed for the middle grades, librarians will find lots of curriculum connections including child labor, mining hazards, and black lung disease. The book includes diagrams of the coal mine as well as details about the history associated with the story’s themes.
Children who enjoy dog stories may also like the other books in this series including Darling: Mercy Dog of World War I and Murphy: Gold Rush Dog. Ranger in Time by Kate Messner is another recent historical fiction series featuring dogs for middle grade readers.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Peachtree Publishers on October 1, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Tech Review: National Aquarium

THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM app and website provide fascinating information about thousands of animals.
Sponsored by a nonprofit focusing on the world’s aquatic treasures, the website features a high-quality encyclopedia, webcams, and educational information.
The searchable Animals encyclopedia includes high quality photographs and information about thousands of creatures along with a link to the exhibit where this animal is found.
Their blog contains informative stories about science, conservation, and animals.
The teacher section includes printable booklets and fact sheets.
While the app doesn’t provide the detailed encyclopedia found at the website, it does provide a guide for visits and fun facts about the animals.
To visit the National Aquarium website, go to
Go to the Animals section of the National Aquarium website at

Friday, December 04, 2015

Book Review: The Marvels

THE MARVELS by Brian Selznick is an amazing journey that crosses hundreds of years.
This middle school novel is told as two stories: one through drawings and the other through prose. From a 1766 shipwreck through multiple generations working in a London theatre, the first half of the book takes a visually stunning look at a family of actors through 1900. The written section of the book begins nearly a century later with a runaway named Joseph who goes to live with his uncle in a mysterious house. Exploration of this strange home reveals clues to Joseph’s past and family. The book concludes with a visual exploration of the house and an author’s note discussing the fact and fiction behind this fascinating children’s novel.
Selznick does an amazing job immersing readers in the world of 18th-century London and the literature of the time. Careful readers will notice the many connection between the visual story and Joseph’s world. Youth will enjoy the authentic emotions expressed by the array of characters.
Librarians will find that fans of Brian Selznick’s unique approach to storytelling will be captivated by this latest work. However, the book may be overwhelming for some children. Consider starting them with Selznick’s earlier works to prepare them for the many visual and text clues that make his books so complex and captivating.
To learn more about the book, go to
To learn more about the book and the author, go to
Published by Scholastic on September 15, 2015. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Website Review: Learn. Genetics

LEARN. GENETICS from the Genetic Science Learning Center provides high-quality, interactive information about genetics as well as the foundational science related to genetics topics.
Sponsored by the University of Utah, the website is divided into the areas of genetics, cell biology, ecology, human health, neuroscience, and science tools. Each section provides fascinating tutorials and interactives related to core concepts.
The Genetics section begins with a tour of basic genetics. Then, examines specific aspects of the field such as characteristics of inheritance and epigenetics. In addition, it explores practical applications such as pigeon breeding.
Each resource includes interesting information and visuals. Most incorporate interactive elements to keep students interested.
Librarians will find many connections to the science curriculum. Consider working with the science teacher to select specific sections that might be used to introduce or reinforce a science lesson.
To visit the website, go to

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Technology Review: Quandry

QUANDARY is both a web and app-based learning game for middle grade students that promotes critical thinking and decision-making skills.
Exploring concepts related to ethical decision-making, users are immersed in a futuristic colony on the planet Braxos. Colonists must make decisions about the future of the colony based on facts, opinions, and alternative solutions. The game contains three episodes addressing different types of dilemmas. In Lost Sheep, colonists must weigh the value and threat of a native predator. In Water Wars, the community must deal with issues of water pollution and cooperation. In Fashion Faction, colonists must consider the pros and cons of conformity.
The scenarios are presented using an attractive, graphic-novel style approach. Participants can explore the perspectives of a dozen different characters by reading their cards contains text and animation. Users sort these cards into three categories: fact, solutions, or other opinion. To proceed students must correctly sort the cards. Users work their way through a series of problems and solutions to come to a conclusion that addresses the dilemma.
Librarians will find that the game can be associated with reading, listening, and speaking standards. Skills related to critical thinking, perspective-taking, and decision-making can be directly connected with the Standards for 21st Century Learners.
The website contains teacher support materials to facilitate discussions related to the game.
To try the web-based version, go to
To download the app version, go to…/MZStore.woa/…/viewSoftware….