Monday, May 30, 2016

Book Review: Let's Go to the Hardware Store

LET’S GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE by Anne Rockwell tells the delightful story of siblings who accompany their father on a trip to purchase tools and supplies.
After moving into a bigger house, the family realizes repairs need to be made. Two children and their father visit the local hardware store to gather supplies. Along the way, the siblings learn about different types of hammers, screwdrivers, and other building supplies. When they arrive home without one item from their list, they head back to the store again for another adventure.
Regardless of whether children live near a small town hardware store or a big name brand megastore, librarians will find many children empathize with the story. The colorful illustrations and many visuals depicting hardware products in the store will stimulate lots of classroom conversation. Create a display featuring the book along with some of the tools described in the story. Or, build a makerspace station devoted to construction and repair projects.
To learn more about the author, go to
To learn more about the illustrator, go to
Published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan on March 22, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Website Review: USGS Water Science

The Water Science School from the USGS provides easy-to-understand information exploring all aspects of hydrology.
The website includes pages focusing on the topics of water basics, water properties, water cycles, surface water, ground water, water quality, and water use. In addition, there’s an activity center, picture gallery, questions/answers, and water glossary.
A teacher resources page links to informational resources, activities, and even a class play.
Of particular interest are the resources related to the water cycle. The entry page contains a printable poster featuring key concepts related to the water cycle. Clicking the Interactive Diagram takes users to a clickable visual focusing on definitions and examples. These interactives are available for beginners, intermediate, and advanced learners.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent resource for both students and teachers. The website would be useful for online informational reading activities focusing on the science of water. Many of the materials can be printed for use in classroom activities, displays, and bulletin boards.
To visit the website, go to

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Book Review: Girl in the Blue Coat

GIRL IN THE BLUE COAT by Monica Hesse is a compelling historical fiction mystery set in Amsterdam during WWII.
In 1943, Hanneke works in the black market trading goods. When one of her clients asks Hanneke to find a Jewish teen she’s been hiding, Hanneke isn’t sure whether to help or not. However, she soon becomes immersed in the world of the resistance as she tries to solve the mystery of the missing girl.
Librarians will find this historical mystery to be an excellent addition to the growing number of books exploring black market workers and the resistance during WWII. The fascinating characters and fast-paced mystery will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.
One of the best books of 2016 so far. Don’t miss it.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Little Brown, an imprint of Hachette on April 5, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Website Review: Mo Willems

The MO WILLEMS website celebrates the books of popular children’s author Mo Willems.
The author’s website is divided into sections that explore the author’s book characters, books, and writing activities.
Visit the Go Mo! to explore a website specifically designed for children that contains book information, fun games, an art gallery, videos, and an adult page. Featuring Willems’ beloved characters, the audio-enhanced games are age-appropriate and engaging for young children.
Visit the Pigeon Presents! website to enjoy information and activities focusing on Willems’ popular pigeon characters. Users can play games, read about books, learn about book characters, and explore teaching materials. This website also links to the new Elephant and Piggie Thank-o-Rama website that provides an introductory video, thank-you spinner, drawing video, and worksheets for printing.
Visit Mo’s Blog for up-to-date information about the author’s recent activities and upcoming books.
Visit Mo’s FAQs! for fascinating insights into the author and his works. These FAQs provide a wealth of ideas for teaching with Willems’ books.
Visit Get Mo’ Stuff! for links to cool books, videos, toys, posters, and other materials that would be useful in creating an author display in the library.
Visit The Pigeon “Tweets” to follow the author’s tweets. Youth will enjoy following the many adventures of this fascinating author.
Librarians will find this website to be an outstanding resource for introducing primary grade children to the idea of author websites. The easy-to-use format and abundant videos and activities will help youth connect the author to his works. It’s also a nice way to provide relevant examples of social media including Twitter and blogs to children.
To visit the website, go to

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: My Kind of Crazy

MY KIND OF CRAZY by Robin Reul is a contemporary fiction, young adult novel exploring the friendship among teens.
When Hank accidentally lights Amanda’s lawn on fire, Peyton is the only witness. This event sets up a story of teen friendship and evolving relationships. The combination of dark humor and interesting characters will keep readers interested.
Librarians will find that the author’s balance of humor and authentic, timely issues such as mental illness and abuse will be of interest to many young adults. Teens who enjoy stories about friendship and teen romance will enjoy the ride.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on April 5, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Book Review: The Haters

THE HATERS by Jesse Andrews tells the story of a group of teens who escape jazz camp and go on tour with disastrous results.
In this coming-of-age work of contemporary fiction, Wes and his friends hate jazz band camp along with many other things. The three musicians jump at the chance to play an amazing show despite the trouble it will cause.
Librarians will find that Andrews’ snarky characters and unusual brand of humor will appeal to today’s youth. Young adults will enjoy the many music references and a band road trip theme. The combination of witty lists, chunks of dialog, and other non-traditional literary approaches will engage reluctant readers.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Abrams-Amulet on April 5, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Website Review: Drive It Home

DRIVE IT HOME from the National Safety Council is a website intended to help keep teen drivers safe.
The Teen Driver Risks section provides ideas to encourage safe driving. The Get Involved section focuses on ways to help new drivers reduce their risk. The Digital Driving Coach section provides an online library of safe driving tips. Each one-page handout explores a different topic. The Media section provides access to over a dozen short, informative videos along with fascinating infographics. The Resources section includes research, presentations, quizzes, and other information. The Blog focuses on short informational items related to safe teen driving. Social media resources including Twitter and Facebook connections.
Librarian will find this resource useful in planning safety activities for teens and their families.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: The Inn Between

THE INN BETWEEN by Marina Cohen is a spooky middle school mystery set in an eerie Victorian hotel in the Nevada desert.
When Quinn and her best friend’s family stop for the night at a creepy hotel, strange things begin to happen. An unpredictable elevator, mysterious hotel guests, and disappearances are just the beginning. When Quinn and her best friend try to escape from the hotel, they realize that the hotel is much more than just an overnight destination.
Librarians will find the book popular among middle grade students who enjoy mysteries filled with twists and turns. Although scary enough to keep readers on the edge of their seats, the plot uses suspense rather than horror to keep the adventure interesting.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan on March 22, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Book Review: Scrapkins: Re-Thunk

SCRAPKINS: RE-THUNK by Brian Yanish provides engaging activities and easy to follow directions for creating fun projects from common household materials.
This visually appealing book contains dozens of activities that involve using materials that people often throw away such as empty milk cartons, cereal boxes, and bottle caps. In addition to providing detailed instructions for creating instruments, puppets, and toys, the book also contains lots of other activities to maintain interest and spark creativity.
Librarians will find this nonfiction book to be popular with children who enjoy arts and crafts. Place the book in a maker space containing the raw materials necessary to create some of the projects. Display the results in the library to highlight the arts and crafts section of the library.
Go to the Scrapkins website at for lots more ideas.
Published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan on March 29, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Website Review: I Witness

I WITNESS from the USC Shoah Foundation is a website containing over 1,500 video testimonies, multimedia activities, and digital resources focusing the Holocaust and other genocides.
The Watch section provides users with video clips, activities, terms, graphic organizers, and related topics. Students can select from 50 different topics such as Anti-Jewish Laws, Civil Rights in America, and Labor/Concentration Camps. Or, conduct a name or subject search to find resources.
The Activities section provides tools youth can use to build videos, word clouds, and other projects based on the program’s themes. Each activity includes standards, grade level focus, and time to complete the activity. Users can identify mini-quests, info-quests, and video activities in a variety of subject areas.
The Share section contains project news and announcements. It also provides an area where students can view projects created by other youth. Students can share their projects with others.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent resource for both students and teachers working on history and social studies projects. Consider participating in the Witness Video Challenge that inspires positive change in communities.
To visit the website, go to

Friday, May 20, 2016

Series Review: Explore My World

The EXPLORE MY WORLD series by Becky Baines helps young children learn about the world around them.
Featuring a wide range of topics, each informational book contains facts and reflective questions to get young children thinking.
DOLPHINS provides a look at the world of dolphins including their characters, habitat, life cycle, and what they eat. It defines key concepts, provides a labeled diagram, and introduces the idea of marine mammals.
PLANETS defines the concept of planet and provides a map of planets. Using age-appropriate language and examples, the book helps children better understand Earth and how other planets are alike and different from Earth.
Librarians will find this series to be an excellent way to introduce informational reading to young children. With many books in the series to choose from, ask students to explore a book of interest and share their questions. Use the books as part of a buddy reading program with older children who might share their interest in science topics.
Published by National Geographic Kids on March 8, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Website Review: Every Kid in a Park

The EVERY KID IN A PARK website connects youth, parents, and educators with the parks and other recreational sites around the United States.
Fourth graders and their families can access America’s natural wonders and historic sites for free! This website takes children through the process of getting a free pass.
The How it Works section takes youth through the process of getting a pass, planning a trip, and hitting the road.
The Get your Pass section involves fourth graders in playing a game, parents in learning the rules, and educators in accessing passes for whole classes. Regardless of whether students are able to visit parks, the game is a fun way to help youth explore the many outdoor opportunities available.
The Plan your Trip section connects students to websites where they can explore parks and other sites, learn about where to stay, and find out about outdoor safety. It also links to places children might want to visit in each state.
Librarians will find this website to be an excellent way to jumpstart discussions about the value of exploring the great outdoors. Place this website in a display that includes books focusing on nature and outdoor exploration. Be sure to include the many National Geographic Kids books available on this topic.
To visit the website, go to

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Review: Green City

GREEN CITY by Allan Drummond is an informational picture book exploring how one community survived a tornado and rebuilt their community.
Based on a real event, this inspiring picture book tells the story of the small town of Greensburg Kansas was struck by a tornado. When the community began planning for reconstruction, they decided to build in an environmentally sustainable way including reclaimed lumber, wind-resistant buildings, and green energy sources.
Sidebars throughout the book highlight key elements of green construction and sustainable building practices. The book concludes with an author’s note, tips for going green, and source notes.
Librarians will find this book to be an excellent introduction to the idea of sustainable communities. Use this book as a springboard for inquiry-based learning. Ask youth to explore an aspect of green construction of interest. Provide access to books focusing on specific practices such as alternative energy sources to jumpstart their investigations.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan on March 15, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Website Review: MIT's App Inventor

MIT’s APP INVENTOR is a website for teaching and learning how to build mobile apps for Androids.
The website contains field-tested tutorials that beginners can use to learn programming and app development.
The website is divided into two sections: Learn and Teach.
The Learn section provides access to a “course in a box”, video tutorials, a book, and other learning materials.
The Teach section section contains useful resources to help teachers design courses and modules that use the App Inventor software. It contains lesson plans, teaching ideas, and lots of suggestions and examples.
Librarians will find this to be a useful resource for technology teachers developing instructional materials related to programming. It’s also a great website for students who want to learn on their own apps. Computer clubs and after-school groups may also benefit from the resources at the website.
To visit the website, go to

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox is a historical fantasy mystery set in a spooky old Scottish castle.
Kat has been sent to an eerie boarding school to avoid the Blitz during the Second World War. Although she tries to find a logical explanation for the disappearance of children and other spooky happenings, she begins to realize that evil lurks around every turn.
The author uses a chatelaine, charms, and flashbacks to earlier time periods to add depth to the story.
Written for upper middle grade youth, this creepy story will have readers on the edge of their seats imagining ghosts, spies, and sinister magic. Librarians will find that fans of steampunk fiction and spooky castles will immediately be drawn to this historical fantasy. However, this scary mystery may be too much for younger readers.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers an imprint of Penguin on March 15, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Technology review: SCOTUS Blog and App

The SCOTUS blog and app provide up-to-date information about the U.S. Supreme Court.
Maintained by well-respected professionals and having received many awards, this blog provides up-to-date information about all aspects of the Supreme Court of the United States.
In addition to frequent blog postings, the website also contains fascinating information. The Merits Cases provides access to each October Term. The Petitions section lists the docket number, case page, and issues for petitions they’re tracking. The Statistics page provides data on dispositions by sitting. The Special Features page highlights articles and multimedia of particular interest. The Plain English page features background information, procedures, a glossary of legal terms, biographies of the justices, and blog entries for novices. The Videos page links to interesting presentations, speeches, and panel discussions. The Resources page links to background information of interest including the multimedia library and blogroll. Finally, the Administration page provides information about the website and connects with social media.
The app provides some of the information provided at the website, but formatting problems can make it difficult to access some content. On the other hand, students who just want quick access to key ideas may like the streamlined approach of the website.
Librarians will find this website useful for students studying US government. Easier to access than some of the government sites, the Plain English area is of particular interest to teachers because of the way it provides background information for people interested in learning the procedures and terminology related to the courts. Teachers may also find some of the videos useful for classroom activities.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Book Review: Jazz Day

JAZZ DAY: THE MAKING OF A FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPH by Roxane Orgill tells the true story of a graphic designer who wanted to share his passion for jazz music through a photograph.
This beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book shares the story of how Art Kane invited jazz musicians to a photo session in Harlem. Told through engaging watercolor painting and lyrical verse, this page-turning story immerses readers in 1950s Harlem. From singers to musicians, many of the poems feature famous and everyday people who attended this special event. The Author’s Note, Biographies, and other end notes add to the authenticity of the work.
Librarians will find this unique book fits into a number of different situations. English teachers will be drawn to the verse, while history educators will enjoy the fascinating historical references. Librarians may wish to connect this book with primary source materials involving youth in comparing the photographs taken at the event with the picture book illustrations and story. Get children involved in learning more about the people in the photo. Also, think about ways to incorporate this book into an entire interdisciplinary music unit on jazz through history.
Look for this book on the “best of 2016” lists.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Candlewick Press on March 8, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Book Review: The Wooden Prince - Out of Abaton

THE WOODEN PRINCE by John Bemis is the first book in the new OUT OF ABATON series exploring the adventures of Pinocchio.
Pinocchio is an automa in this intriguing re-imagination of the beloved character. Pinocchio’s new master, Geppetto is trying to figure out how and why this unique automa is mysteriously transforming into a human body. After being kidnapped, Pinocchio must begin a journey across the Empire to find Geppetto again. Along the way he stumbles upon Princess Lazuli who is on a mission of her own. Together they must face half-beast outlaws and the emperor’s winged airmen to survive.
Librarians will find an audience among youth who enjoy fantasy adventures. Middle grade readers will enjoy the intersection of the traditional characters along with the new fantasy characters and steampunk world-building elements.
Many readers will be looking forward to the second book in the series titled LORD OF MONSTERS coming out in 2017.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Disney-Hyperion on March 15, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

App Review: Pet First Aid

PET FIRST AID from the American Red Cross is an engaging medical reference app focusing on pet care.
This easy-to-use app provides veterinary advice for everyday emergencies common with dogs and cats.
Users can easily toggle between dog and cat information. Sections include the topics, learn, prepare, emergency, quizzes, and pets. Both emergency tools such as calling a vet, hospital locator, and early warning signs, along with emergency first aid are available. The short focused chunks of information are easy to understand.
Librarians will enjoy using this tool as an example of an app-based quick reference. Involve youth in comparing the use of reference books to apps. Discuss the pros and cons of app-based reference tools. Use it for informational reading activities. Put it in a display featuring books about pet care.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Review: Burn Baby Burn

BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina connects the everyday life of a Cuban-American teen with well-known historical events of the seventies.
In the summer of 1977, Nora is a typical teen living in New York City. However, her life is forever changed through a series of events that besiege her city including arson, a blackout, and a serial killer known as Son of Sam on the loose. Like the city, Nora’s brother is about to explode and Nora must survive dangers around every turn.
From domestic violence to societal unrest, Medina brings the late 1977s to life for teen readers. While librarians often find a small audience for historical fiction, the authentic situations and strong, coming-of-age story will appeal to many teen readers. From movie references to disco tunes, both librarians and young adults will enjoy the many references to 70s culture.
Be sure to add this title to your diversity list and your growing collection of history stories set in the 1970s.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Candlewick Press on March 8, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Book Review: Follow Me! Animal Parents and Babies

FOLLOW ME! ANIMAL PARENTS AND BABIES by Shira Evans is part of the National Geographic Kids Super Reader series.
This series includes books for pre-readers through fluent readers. This Level 1: Co-reader book is intended for parents, adults, or older children to read with younger children. An icon indicates what “you read” and what “I read”. Chapters focus on finding food, movement, habitat, and using tools. At the end of each chapter, readers are given a task to think about or a problem to solve.
Librarians know that animal babies books are always popular. What makes this book particularly useful is the collaborative reading option. Consider using this book and other Level 1 co-reader books as part of a school-wide buddy reading program where older children read with younger children.
Published by National Geographic on March 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Technology Review: Fuel Economy

FUEL ECONOMY is a U.S. government website and app focusing on fuel economy information.
Whether comparing the fuel efficiency of cars or learning about hybrids, this website full of useful information. Users can find and compare cars, learn how to save money and fuel, find out about the importance of fuel economy, calculate fuel economy, explore hybrids and electric vehicles, learn about EPA ratings, and more.
The Find-a-car app helps users compare fuel-efficient vehicles by providing fuel cost estimates, safety ratings, and other information.
Librarians will find many curriculum connections for this website and app. From a science perspective, the resources provides information about alternative fuel sources and how cars consume fuel. For math connections, explore the fuel savings calculator, vehicle cost calculator, and data sets. Think about interdisciplinary projects that connect STEM activities with informational reading and financial planning. Teens love cars, so this website and app is an excellent way to motivate young adult and connect them with real-world problems and solutions.
To visit the website, go to
To download the app, go to

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Book Review: Stranded on Planet Strip Mall

STRANDED ON PLANET STRIP MALL by Tom Angleberger is the first chapter book in the new Rocket and Groot trilogy for middle grade readers.
Rocket Raccoon and his giant plant sidekick Groot have crash landed on a planet that’s a giant strip mall. Filled with slapstick comedy, this unlikely duo face raccoon-eating toilets, bizarre robots, and other strange shopping related hazards. This wacky adventure features non-stop action for fans of silliness and the galaxy’s most dangerous super intelligent tape dispenser.
Librarians will find fans of Angleberger’s Origami Yoda books flocking for this new science fiction trilogy. The book will appeal to reluctant readers who enjoy the varied fonts and small chunks of text interwoven with simple artwork. With the popularity of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics and movies, this title with be popular with younger readers who want to feel connected to this media franchise.
Published by Disney-Marvel on March 8, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Website Review: The Roaring Twenties

THE ROARING TWENTIES is an interactive exploration of the historical soundscape of New York City through primary source documents.
This engaging multimedia project immerses users in the sounds of New York City in the 1920s through three themes: sound, space, and time.
The Introduction discusses the the time period and the primary source materials used as the basis for the website. These include the text of noise complaints, news reel footage, maps, and other historical materials.
The Sound section features sources of city noise including traffic, transportation, building operation, homes, streets, harbor/river, collection deliveries, and miscellaneous. Each category includes specific text and video examples of noises and complaints.
The Space section provides a clickable map of New York City. Users can explore primary source documents and watch video footage related to city noise.
The Time section contains a clickable timeline that can be used to explore noise complaints, videos, news, and other information.
The Info section provides access to background information about the three themes along with links to additional resources.
Librarians will find this website to be an fascinating way for youth to immerse themselves in this time period while learning about the usefulness of primary sources in research. Partner with both English and History teachers to immerse young adults in this time period.
To visit the website, go to

Friday, May 06, 2016

Book Series Review: Mission Rescue

The MISSION RESCUE series from National Geographic is intended to inspire young people to learn about endangered animals and how they can be saved.
MISSION SHARK RESCUE begins by exploring the threats facing sharks. Then, each chapter explores some aspect of sharks including their role as predators, their habitat, life cycle, physical characteristics, and connection with humans. Stories, facts, photos, and rescue activities and challenges are woven through the book to keep readers engaged.
MISSION PANDA RESCUE examines the reasons why pandas are endangered. The six chapters explore the panda’s habitat, characteristics, families, and relationship with people. The many photographs and other visuals bring these animals to life. Interesting stories, interviews, facts, and activities help generate reader interest in saving these adorable creatures.
The series also includes titles focusing on lions, wolves, polar bears, elephants, tigers, and sea turtles.
Librarians will find that this series appeals to animals lovers as well as children who enjoy nature, the environment, and social change. Students who enjoy biographies will like the many one-page interviews woven through the books. The focus on photographs, infographics, and small blocks of text will be of interest to nonfiction fans.
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on March 8, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Website Review: Federal Student Aid

FEDERAL STUDENT AID from the U.S. Department of Education features sources to help students seeking grants, loans, and work-study funds for college or career school.
The website is divided into five sections.
The Prepare for College section takes teens through the process of defining goals, thinking about college costs, and planning for college.
The Types of Aid section explores funding ideas from the U.S. federal government, states, colleges, and nonprofit or provide organizations.
The Who Gets Aid section discusses issues related to eligibility for federal student aid programs.
The FAFSA: Applying for Aid section takes teens step-by-step through the process of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The How to Repay Your Loans section helps teens understand the process of choosing a repayment plan and avoiding problems.
The website is available in both English and Spanish. A search tool is provided for those wishing to search the website. A glossary in the About section defines key terminology. Use the social media links for up-to-date information including short, financial aid-related videos.
Librarians will find this to be an excellent resource for students preparing for college. Work with the school counselor to set up a display that features useful books, pamphlets, and other information along with key websites.
To visit the website, go to

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Technology Review: Ninja Kitchen

NINJA KITCHEN is a fast-paced, food safety learning game.
Published by New Mexico State’s Learning Games Lab, the interactive helps middle school youth learn about safe food handling skills. Users learn food safety practices and how to prevent food borne illness. As students play the game, they must make decisions about prepping high-risk foods, safe cooking temperatures, and cleaning their workspace.
Ninja master Sensei takes students through a series of levels as they serve customers. Early in the game users learn about the importance of washing their hands and avoiding food contamination. As they work their way through the levels, players learn increasingly complex skills and concepts related to safe food preparation. The music and sounds effects can be turned on and off by users. Players receive money that can be used to purchase items at the store. They also receive rewards that are featured in the Trophy Room.
Librarians will find that this addictive restaurant game is an excellent way to teach the principles of food safety. Work with teachers to create a display that includes food safety books and other activities.
To access the online game, go to

Book Review: You Were Here

YOU WERE HERE by Cori McCarthy tells the riveting tale of a group of teens on a graduation night quest.
On the fifth anniversary of her brother’s death, Jaycee revisits the playground where he died and decides to recreate his daredevil stunt. Caught in the act by her friends, the group sets out on an adventure to recreate Jake’s stunts. Told in alternating chapters through the eyes of Jaycee and her friends, readers are immersed in the lives of young adults coming-of-age.
What makes this title particularly compelling is the unusual ways characters expresses their story. For instance, some characters use visuals rather than narrative. While Bishop shares graffiti, Mik speaks through works of sequential art. These nontraditional approaches add engaging layers to the story.
Librarians will find that McCarthy’s writing style will appeal to young adult readers. The fast-paced plot will keep teens engaged from beginning to end. With a hint of romance, this contemporary story will appeal to most youth who enjoy realistic fiction. The strong character development and intriguing story make it one of the best picks of the season season.
To learn more about the author, go to
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on March 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Book Review: Ideas Are All Around

IDEAS ARE ALL AROUND by Philip C. Stead tells the uplifting story of finding inspiration in everyday activities.
This charming picture book tells the story of an author who seeks writing ideas while walking his dog and talking with a neighbor. The simple story highlights the value of getting outdoors and interacting with others. While younger children will enjoy the whimsical story, older readers will appreciate the everyday places that can spark creativity.
Librarians will find something for everyone in this imaginative picture book. Connect with the physical education teacher to encourage students to use outdoor adventures as the source for writing inspiration. Work with the art teacher to arouse creativity through combining outdoor digital photography with other forms of art. Use this powerful book to jumpstart classroom writing activities.
To learn more about the author/illustrator, go to
Published by Roaring Brooke Press, an imprint of Macmillan on March 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Book Review: When Green Becomes Tomatoes

WHEN GREEN BECOMES TOMATOES: POEMS FOR ALL SEASONS by Julie Fogliano uses forty-eight short poems to tell the story of a year.
The combination of Fogliano’s delicate, rhythmic voice with Morstad’s cheerful illustrations create a pleasing atmosphere for children to explore poetry. Most children will relate to the author’s exploration of everyday activities during each season.
Libraries will find this attractive picture book to be an enticing addition to the growing number of poetry books focusing on the seasons. Use it as a way to jumpstart student writing projects that explore the connection between nature and the human experience. The book features specific dates during the year. Ask students to write their own poems to fill in the gaps.
Published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan on March 1, 2016. ARC courtesy of the publisher.