Monthly Archives: December 2018

Olor a Perfume de Viejita (The Smell of Old Lady Perfume) by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez

Olor a Perfume de Viejita (The Smell of Old Lady Perfume) by Claudia Guadalupe Martinez. September 18, 2018. Cinco Puntos Press, 320 p. ISBN: 9781941026960.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 730.

Chela Gonzalez, the book’s narrator, is a nerd and a soccer player who can barely contain her excitement about starting the sixth grade. But nothing is as she imagined-her best friend turns on her to join the popular girls and they all act like Chela doesn’t exist. She buries herself in schoolwork and in the warm comfort of her family. To Chela, her family is like a solar system, with her father the sun and her mother, brothers, and sister like planets rotating all around him. It’s a small world, but it’s the only one she fits in.

But that universe is threatened when her strong father has a stroke.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist (September 1, 2008 (Vol. 105, No. 1))
Grades 4-6. As she starts sixth grade, 11-year-old Chela is straddling two borders, the figurative one between childhood and adolescence and the real one that divides Ciudad Juarez from El Paso. Chela is devastated when her new classmates in Texas laugh at her accented English and jeeringly call her a Juaranota. Then her best friend, Nora, abandons her to join a clique of popular girls. These problems pale, however, after her beloved father suffers a stroke and can no longer work. Her grandmother comes to help (it is her perfume that pervades the household), but fear and worry surround the family. Martinez’s highly episodic first novel is a quiet story that is, perhaps, a bit too predictable, filled with such coming-of-age staples as mean girls, popularity contests, first romances, sibling rivalries, and more. However, readers will also find the book’s loving portrayal of Chela’s family, its nicely realized setting, and its artful exploration of the problems of assimilation, to be both engaging and heartfelt. —Michael Cart

Horn Book Guide (Spring 2009)
Chela Gonzalez is highly anticipating sixth grade. She’s especially excited about being part of the A-class, the only all-English class in her El Paso school. But when her father has a stroke, Chela’s year grows complicated and painful. Short, well-crafted chapters offer perceptive glimpses into life on the border, the dynamics of middle-grade girls, and a family in turmoil.

About the Author

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez grew up in El Paso, Texas. She learned that letters form words from reading the subtitles of old westerns for her father. She went on to graduate from college and moved to Chicago to become one of the city’s youngest non-profit executives.

Her website is

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Olor a Perfume de Viejita  on Amazon

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Olor a Perfume de Viejita  Publisher Page

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. October 2, 2018. Catapult, 240 p. ISBN: 9781936787975.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racism; Violence



Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Chung’s insightful memoir reveals her carefully considered ambivalence about adoption. Born extremely prematurely into a family that had immigrated from Korea, she was adopted by a white couple who lived in a small town in Oregon, where she was one of few nonwhite residents. Often mocked by her classmates, and feeling out of sync with her adoptive family, she clung to a belief that everyone involved was motivated by a desire to give her the best possible life. Once she was married and living on the East Coast, she began to investigate her origins, and she found a more complicated story than the one she had imagined. Her tentative reconciliation with her birth family and the touching bond she formed with her older sister are tempered by her persistent questions about the way her life would have differed had she not been put up for adoption. Chung’s clear, direct approach to her experience, which includes the birth of her daughter as well as her investigation of her family, reveals her sharp intelligence and willingness to examine difficult emotions.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
An essayist and editor’s account of her search for and reconnection with the parents who gave her up for adoption.Chung, the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine, had always been obsessed with the Korean birthparents she had never met. Her adoptive mother and father told her a story that emphasized the birthparents’ loving selflessness and how “[t]hey thought adoption was the best thing for me.” But the “legend” they created was not enough to sate Chung’s curiosity about the past or ease her occasional discomfort at being the Korean child of white parents in a largely Caucasian Oregon community. A year after she graduated from college, Chung discovered a way to work around the legalities of what had been a closed adoption to find out more about her birthparents. However, it was not until she became pregnant a few years later that she decided to make contact. Eager to know why she had been given up for adoption but troubled that she was betraying the trust of her adoptive parents, the author quietly moved forward with her quest. Much of what she learned—e.g., that she had been born premature and had two sisters—she already knew. Other details, like the fact that her parents had told everyone she had died at birth, raised a host of new questions. Just before Chung gave birth, her sister Cindy made contact. She revealed that their mother had been abusive and that their father had been the one who had decided on adoption. Fear of becoming like her birth mother and anger at both parents gradually gave way to the mature realization that her adoption “was not a tragedy” but rather “the easiest way to solve just one of too many problems.” Highly compelling for its depiction of a woman’s struggle to make peace with herself and her identity, the book offers a poignant depiction of the irreducibly complex nature of human motives and family ties. A profound, searching memoir about “finding the courage to question what I’d always been told.”

About the Author

Nicole Chung has written for The New York TimesGQLongreadsBuzzFeedHazlitt, and Shondaland, among other publications. She is Catapult magazine’s editor in chief and the former managing editor of The ToastAll You Can Ever Know is her first book.

Her website is

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All You Can Ever Know on Goodreads

All You Can Ever Know Publisher Page

Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes

Brave Chef Brianna by Sam Sykes. December 12, 2017. KaBOOM!, 112 p. ISBN: 9781684150502.  Int Lvl: 3-6.

To prove herself as a great chef, a young woman sets up a restaurant as the sole human in a city full of monsters.

Brianna Jakobsson has big cooking dreams, and when her ailing restaurateur father poses a challenge to his only daughter and fifteen sons, she seizes the opportunity. She’s going to have the best restaurant around and earn the family empire. Thing is, the only place she can afford to set up shop is in Monster City. Her menu is full of weird delicacies, her kitchen is run by a half-bird harpy, and her dining room is filled with skeleton businessmen. Add on the nefarious Madame Cron, some highly competitive siblings and Brianna’s plate is literally . . . full.

Brave Chef Brianna from writer Sam Sykes (Munchkin) and artist Selina Espiritu explores one woman’s incredible journey to realize her dreams in the unlikeliest of places. Welcome to Monster City!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities


Video Reviews

About the Author

Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his first book, published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Holland, and Canada. He currently resides in the United States and is probably watching you read this right now.

His website is

Around the Web

Brave Chef Brianna on Amazon

Brave Chef Brianna on Barnes and Noble

Brave Chef Brianna on Goodreads

Brave Chef Brianna Publisher Page

Fakers by H.P. Wood

Fakers: An Insider’s Guide to Cons, Hoaxes, and Scams by H.P. Wood. October 2, 2018. Charlesbridge Publishing, 176 p. ISBN: 9781580897433.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1040.

From the Trojan horse to fake news, scams have run rampant throughout history and across the globe. Some con artists do it for fun, others for profit. . . and every once in a while, a faker saves the world.

In this era of daily online hoaxes, it’s easy to be caught off-guard. Fakers arms kids with information, introducing them to the funniest, weirdest, and most influential cons and scams in human history. Profiles of con artists will get readers thinking about motivation and consequence, and practical tips will help protect them from falsehoods. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is–except in the case of this book!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 5-8. In a world where tricksters are always in the news, even as the word fake is bandied about indiscriminately, a book exposing cons and making young readers aware of how to approach schemes is essential. Luckily, Wood’s nonfiction title is also an entertaining read, with chapters divided up in ways that separate and link everything from Ponzi schemes to spoon benders to mass-media hoaxes. Any type of deceptive con one can think of is included. Want to know about shell games? It’s covered. War tricks like the Trojan horse? It’s here. Cartoonlike pictures emphasize the fun in funny business, slyly featuring everything from sleight-of-hand hieroglyphs to chunky, pizza-eating rats. Extensive chapter notes and resources, as well as a long index, lend the work gravitas. As the author points out, even computer-savvy young people are easily deceived, and she wants readers to not be “one of the guys and gals getting gotten.” If they take this book as a guide, they should have a head start in preparedness.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2018)
In this lively look at the history of human trickery, Wood takes readers on a tour of cons, frauds, hoaxes, impersonations, and scams. The swindle is as old as history. The shell game, once called cups and balls, originated in ancient Rome. One example of a newer type of fakery, the “long con,” is the pyramid scheme, and Wood recounts the scams used by two of its most infamous practitioners, Carlo Ponzi and Bernie Madoff. No book about fakery would be complete without a discussion of P.T. Barnum’s many famous humbugs. Wood also reveals the tricks behind such carnival games as the ring toss, ball toss, and guessing games. Scientists have fallen prey to or helped perpetrate such hoaxes as the Rabbit Woman, the Lying Stones, and the Piltdown Man, but a long time passed before skeptical scientists were convinced the platypus was not a hoax. Deceptive practices in medicine have undoubtedly caused many injuries and deaths, but Wood recounts one medical hoax that saved dozens of Italian Jews when doctors in a Rome hospital convinced Nazis the Jews were afflicted with a dangerously infectious disease called Syndrome K and better kept in quarantine. These and more are all covered in lively prose that’s delivered with a healthy sense of irony. Clark’s full-color cartoons match Wood’s tone and are augmented by archival illustrations and photographs. A delightfully revealing look at scammers and their scams. (further reading, source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

H. P. Wood is the granddaughter of a mad inventor and a sideshow magician. Instead of making things disappear, she makes books of all shapes and sizes. She has written or edited works on an array of topics, including the history of the Internet, the future of human rights, and the total awesomeness of playing with sticks.

She lives in Connecticut with a charming and patient husband and a daughter from whom she steals all her best ideas. Her website is

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Fakers on Amazon

Fakers on Barnes and Noble

Fakers on Goodreads

Fakers Publisher Page

The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone

The Perfect Candidate by Peter Stone. October 2, 2018. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781534422179.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

From debut author Peter Stone comes a heart-stopping, pulse-pounding political thriller that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter and House of Cards

When recent high school graduate Cameron Carter lands an internship with Congressman Billy Beck in Washington, DC, he thinks it is his ticket out of small town captivity. What he lacks in connections and Beltway polish he makes up in smarts, and he soon finds a friend and mentor in fellow staffer Ariel Lancaster.

That is, until she winds up dead.

As rumors and accusations about her death fly around Capitol Hill, Cameron’s low profile makes him the perfect candidate for an FBI investigation that he wants no part of. Before he knows it—and with his family’s future at stake—he discovers DC’s darkest secrets as he races to expose a deadly conspiracy.

If it doesn’t get him killed first.

Potentially Sensitive Areas:  Mild sexual themes; Underage drinking



Booklist (October 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 4))
Grades 8-11. High-school graduate Cameron Carter has secured an internship with Congressman Billy Beck. When he moves to Washington, D.C., Cameron is full of idealism and political drive. He has even managed to find a friend and confidante in Ariel Lancaster, a fellow staffer, who is much more welcoming than his roommates (who act partly as superfluous comic relief). But just as Cameron feels he’s hitting his stride, Ariel dies in a car crash, an FBI agent corners him in an elevator, and the seemingly perfect congressman’s kindness and attention takes on a sinister dimension. As Cam gets swept up in an investigation he wants no part of, he teams up with the FBI agent and the daughter of the Mexican ambassador to try to get to the bottom of a dangerous conspiracy. Although the antagonists are somewhat two-dimensional, Stone’s debut novel will nevertheless engage readers looking for a politically charged, high-stakes thriller with a hint of romance. Hand to fans of Ally Carter’s All Fall Down (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
During a summer internship, a teenage boy is thrust into the middle of a murderous political game in Stone’s thriller debut. Cameron Carter is in serious trouble. He was thrilled when a summer internship in his congressman’s office, the opportunity of lifetime, landed in his lap. He makes friends with fellow interns, impresses several staffers, and even sparks a relationship with Lena Cruz, the adventurous daughter of the Mexican ambassador. But when Ariel, a staffer who had taken Cameron under her wing and asked for his help on a secret project, dies suddenly in a car crash, fissures of doubt around her death begin to break apart the shiny facade of the capital and the congressman himself. Character development takes a back seat to an enthralling plot of power, greed, and murder that threatens to swallow its protagonist whole. Cameron is something of an Everyman—a white teen in a very white Washington, D.C., he is YA’s answer to Harrison Ford—but his dogged (even reckless) proclivity for pursuing questions and some complexity with regard to his supposedly deceased mother keep readers from losing him in the high-octane plot. Some artless setup for a sequel may detract from the narrative’s overall punch, but readers can’t help but wonder what will come next. While not pushing the genre into new territory, Stone has crafted a narrative driven by that most potent of fuels: political intrigue. (Political thriller. 14-17)

About the Author

Peter Stone is a lifelong fan of thrillers on the big screen, small screen, and page. Prior to his career in TV and film marketing, he worked in Washington, DC, first as an intern on Capitol Hill and later as a Spanish tutor for a former Speaker of the House. The Perfect Candidate is his debut novel. He lives in Tokyo, Japan, with his wife and two sons.

His website is

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The Perfect Candidate on Amazon

The Perfect Candidate on Barnes and Noble

The Perfect Candidate on Goodreads

The Perfect Candidate Publisher Page

Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens

Mistletoe & Murder by Robin Stevens. September 18, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781481489126.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

Hazel and Daisy trade mistletoe for a murder investigation and set out to save the day (Christmas Day that is!) in this fabulously festive fifth novel of the Wells & Wong Mystery series.

Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are spending the Christmas holidays in snowy Cambridge. Hazel is looking forward to a calm vacation among the beautiful spires, cozy libraries, and inviting tea-rooms.

But there is danger lurking in the dark stairwells of ancient Maudlin College and two days before Christmas, there is a terrible accident. At least, it appears to be an accident—until the Detective Society looks a little closer, and realizes a murder has taken place. Faced with several irritating grown-ups and fierce competition from a rival agency, they must use all their cunning and courage if they’re going to find the killer before Christmas dinner.

Sequel to: Jolly Foul Play

Part of Series: Wells & Wong Mystery (Book #5)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial insensitivity, Underage drinking


Author Interview


Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2018)
Their fifth adventure finds Detective Society members Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong spending the winter holidays at Cambridge University visiting Daisy’s brother, Bertie. A reunion with the Junior Pinkertons leads to a bet—which is the better detective society?—and some flirting. Then a student—insufferable, rich, and a twin—is found murdered, and the two societies agree to collaborate. Stevens’s frost-dusted 1935 Cambridge, England, is an appealing backdrop for this adolescent whodunit, and Wells and Wong’s partnership, with its echoes of Holmes and Watson, is as entertaining as ever.

About the Author

Robin Stevens was born in California and grew up in Oxford, England, across the road from the house where Alice of Alice in Wonderland lived. Robin has been making up stories all her life. She spent her teenage years at boarding school, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She studied crime fiction in college and then worked in children’s publishing.

Robin now lives in London with her pet bearded dragon, Watson.  Her website is

Around the Web

Mistletoe & Murder on Amazon

Mistletoe & Murder on Barnes and Noble

Mistletoe & Murder on Goodreads

Mistletoe & Murder Publisher Page

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen. September 11, 2018. Wendy Lamb Books, 288 p. ISBN: 9781524768355.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.7; Lexile: 620.

Twelve-and-three-quarter-year-old Felix Knutsson has a knack for trivia. His favorite game show is Who What Where When; he even named his gerbil after the host. Felix’s mom, Astrid, is loving but can’t seem to hold on to a job. So when they get evicted from their latest shabby apartment, they have to move into a van. Astrid swears him to secrecy; he can’t tell anyone about their living arrangement, not even Dylan and Winnie, his best friends at his new school. If he does, she warns him, he’ll be taken away from her and put in foster care.

As their circumstances go from bad to worse, Felix gets a chance to audition for a junior edition of Who What Where When, and he’s determined to earn a spot on the show. Winning the cash prize could make everything okay again. But things don’t turn out the way he expects. . . .

Susin Nielsen deftly combines humor, heartbreak, and hope in this moving story about people who slip through the cracks in society, and about the power of friendship and community to make all the difference.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Brief mentions of marijuana and drugs, Theft, Allusions to masturbation, Allusion to an adult sexual relationship



Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 4-7. At almost 13, Felix is used to a little spontaneity in his life. He’s watched his mom, Astrid (he calls her Astrid—her idea), hop from job to job and guy to guy, and since Felix’s grandma died, they’ve moved a lot. When they get evicted and have to live in a van for a while, Felix believes Astrid when she says it’s temporary. Even if Astrid has trouble finding a job, Felix has a backup plan: his favorite game show is hosting a junior edition, and he’s actually freakishly good at trivia. He’s going to audition and win enough money so that he and Astrid will never have problems again. But living in a van—and keeping it a secret from his friends at school—is starting to take its toll on Felix. Canadian Nielsen (Optimists Die First​, 2016) infuses her erstwhile hero’s first-person narrative with humor. Though Felix’s wry observations keep things from getting too dark, this is also a straightforward look at the circumstances that can lead to homelessness. Clear-eyed and heartfelt.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2018)
A summer “adventure” in a Volkswagen pop-top van turns into a long-term living situation for twelve-year-old Felix and his loving but irresponsible mother Astrid. Unable to afford an apartment in Vancouver, the two set up housekeeping in Astrid’s ex-boyfriend’s van, moving from parking lot to street corner to abandoned garage as opportunities present themselves, more or less managing to keep up a façade of respectability. This is assisted by Astrid’s flexible sense of morality (“it’s important to note that she has levels of lies, and rules surrounding each. Sort of like the Church of Scientology and their levels of Operating Thetans, her rationales don’t always make a lot of sense”) but hampered by her bouts of depression, known in the family lexicon as “slumps.” Felix starts at a new school, where he reconnects with his childhood friend Dylan and meets Winnie Wu, who is introduced as a stereotypical overachiever but develops beyond the initial caricature. When Felix learns that his favorite game show is hosting a junior tournament, he decides its cash prize will solve all his problems and, with his friends’ help, sets out to win. Felix is a compelling narrator, engaging both as he keeps a wry sense of humor about his family’s worsening situation and when he realizes he can no longer rely on the adults in his life. Nielsen’s eye for detail (Felix’s Swedish grandmother gave him a tomte to watch over the house; now named Mel, the figure keeps watch from the dashboard) helps bring the story to life.

About the Author

Susin got her start feeding cast and crew on the popular television series, Degrassi Junior High. They hated her food, but they saw a spark in her writing. Nielsen went on to pen sixteen episodes of the hit TV show. Since then, Nielsen has written for over 20 Canadian TV series. Her books have been translated into multiple languages.

She lives in Vancouver with her family and two naughty cats. Her website is

Around the Web

No Fixed Address on Amazon

No Fixed Address on Barnes and Noble

No Fixed Address on Goodreads

No Fixed Address Publisher Page

Endurance by Scott Kelly

Endurance: My Year in Space and How I Got There (Young Readers Edition) by Scott Kelly. October 16, 2018. Crown Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9781524764258.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 8.5; Lexile: 1070.

Newly adapted for young readers from the New York Timesbestseller comes the awe-inspiring memoir from NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who spent a record-breaking year in space. 

How does a boy struggling in school become an American hero and a space pioneer?

Daredevil behavior? Check. Whether it is sailing leaky boats in the Atlantic Ocean or joining an ambulance corps to race to the rescue, living on the edge is required behavior for an astronaut.

Sibling rivalry? Check. An identical twin brother who both cheers you on and eggs you on is the perfect motivator.

Inspiration? Check. Finding the right book can unexpectedly change the course of your life by providing a dream and a road map for achieving it.

Courage? Check. Mastering skills that could mean the difference between life and death as a fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut takes bravery.

Endurance? Check. The grit and can-do spirit that enables you to get up every time you’re knocked down and fuels the power to meet each challenge head-on and then ask, “What’s next?”

Scott Kelly believes, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This checklist put Scott on a rocket that launched him into space, allowed him to break a record during his inspiring year aboard the International Space Station, and showed human beings the qualities needed to go from Earth to Mars–and beyond.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Alcoholism


Book Trailer


Booklist (September 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 2))
Grades 6-9. Kelly, the author of My Journey to the Stars (2017), an autobiographical picture book, now presents a young readers’ edition of Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery (2017). Like the original book, it traces Kelly’s childhood, his initially unpromising academic background, and what motivated him to change. But mainly, it focuses on his years as an astronaut and the accomplishment for which he’s best known, living for almost a year continuously on the International Space Station (ISS). Few people have such an unusual story to tell, and Kelly makes the most of his experiences as an astronaut, offering vividly detailed accounts of daily life in orbit, anecdotes about hair-raising moments during space walks and reentry, and heartening stories of cooperation between Russians and Americans working and living together on the ISS. Black-and-white photos appear throughout the book, and a 16-page insert offers color photos. While the amount of detail may be daunting for some readers, those who are intrigued by space travel will find this a fascinating book.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
Kelly recalls piloting space shuttles and living aboard the International Space Station. Pared down from the 2017 version for adults, stripped of its profanity, and rearranged into a linear narrative, this memoir still manages to be slow off the launch pad, woodenly conventional (if infused with deadpan humor), and anticlimactic at the close. Kelly begins with his very earliest memories and traces his youth from an epiphanic encounter with Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (“I closed the book that night a different person”) to military-style nautical training (“a different person”) and graduation from New York’s Maritime College (“a completely different person”). Experiences as a U.S. Navy test pilot led to astronaut training, two shuttle flights, and two ISS gigs. In an apparent bid for attention from young readers he comes off throughout as positively obsessed with space toilets and the diapers American astronauts wear when bathroom trips are not an option. Of (perhaps) greater interest are his memories of working and living with colleagues from Russia and other countries after the space shuttle program ended. These are enlivened by comments about space food (“The Russians also have something called ‘the Appetizing Appetizer,’ which it is not”) and other details seldom if ever found in other astronaut biographies. He closes with a tally of general-issue life lessons. Finished photos and backmatter not seen. Occasionally amusing, rarely fresh, this expands the author’s picture-book account, My Journey to the Stars (illustrated by André Ceolin, 2017), without adding much significant. (Memoir. 10-16)

About the Author

Scott Kelly is a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and NASA astronaut. Kelly retired from the Navy at the rank of captain after twenty-five years of service. A veteran of four spaceflights, Kelly commanded the space shuttle Endeavour in 2007 and twice commanded the International Space Station. He has spent more than 520 days in space and holds the record for the longest single mission by a U.S. astronaut. He lives in Houston.

Her website is

Around the Web

Endurance on Amazon

Endurance on Barnes and Noble

Endurance on Goodreads

Endurance Publisher Page

Extreme Longevity by Karen Latchana Kenney

Extreme Longevity: Discovering Earth’s Oldest Organisms by Karen Latchana Kenney. August 1, 2018. Twenty First Century Books, 104 p. ISBN: 9781512483727.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1100.

Meet the science experts who study specimens of extreme longevity in both the plant and animal kingdoms, such as the 80,000-year-old root system of Pando (a colony of male quaking aspens), 11,000-year-old deep-sea sponges, and 400-year-old sharks. Learn about technologies used to determine age and longevity, including DNA sampling, growth rings, and radiocarbon dating. See how scientists located these long-lived species were and why and how they resist disease and aging. And delve into how scientists are using what they know about aged plants and animals to research how we can promote longevity in humans.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None



Booklist (October 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 3))
Grades 8-10. Did you know that the longest-living human on record died in 1997 at age 122? This well-researched and informative book includes intriguing facts about the world’s longest-living organisms. Familiar ones, like giant tortoises, sequoias, and bristlecone pines are described, as well as lesser ones, like hydras, stromatolites, creosote bushes, and quahogs. Scientists are eagerly studying these long-lived organisms to see how they can help extend human longevity and prevent diseases—fluids from clamlike ocean quahogs, for example, who can live to be hundreds of years old, may help scientists prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The book describes the methods scientists use to determine various organisms’ life spans. In 2007, biologists were able to calculate a captured bowhead whale’s age (approximately 130 years) by analyzing the age of the antique harpoon fragment found still embedded in it. Fourteen scientists were consulted by the author in the writing of this book, which also includes a comparative time line, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further information, and index. Readers will enjoy learning about these amazing organisms.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2018)
Immortality may still be the stuff of legend for humans, but it’s a real possibility for a jellyfish native to the Mediterranean Sea. Biologists are studying specimens of flora and fauna that live extraordinarily long lives. The longest living human on record is Jean Louise Calment, a Frenchwoman who lived 122 years and 164 days, but that’s nothing compared to the Greenland shark that may live over 500 years. In an accessible, informative text, Kenney (Healing Plants, 2018, etc.) introduces biologists and geneticists who study examples of extreme longevity in the plant and animal kingdoms, such as the possibly 80,000-year-old root system of a colony of male quaking aspens. One potentially immortal specimen is the hydra, a small freshwater animal described as “a simple tube without internal body organs”; the secret to its longevity is that its body is made of stem cells that repair and replace damaged body parts. Kenney discusses the technologies scientists use to determine age and longevity, including DNA sampling, growth rings, and radiocarbon dating, and how scientists are using their discoveries about aged plants and animals to research drugs to promote longevity in humans. High-quality color photographs and clear diagrams help explain the material. Useful for reports or reading for pleasure, this is an engaging and informative volume. An intriguing look at some of world’s oldest organisms and the scientists who study them. (timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

About the Author

My favorite book as a child was an educational book titled I Want to Be a Reporter. It was about the job of a reporter and described the skills needed to tell stories in writing. I asked my mom to read it to me every night. It was fascinating to me! Since discovering that book, I have loved the idea of writing for a living.

As a K-12 educational writer and editor, I get to work on books and teaching materials that inform and inspire students. I have written about everything from the underwater home of a spider to the history of hip-hop music and WWI history. While I love researching and writing about all kinds of subjects, my experience so far has been mostly in science, social studies, biographies, music, and arts and crafts topics.

Her website is

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Extreme Longevity on Amazon

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I, Claudia by Mary McCoy

I, Claudia by Mary McCoy. October 1, 2018. Carolrhoda Books, 424 p. ISBN: 9781512448467.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 940.

Disaffected teen historian Claudia McCarthy never expected to be in charge of Imperial Day Academy, but by accident, design, or scheme, she is pulled into the tumultuous and high-profile world of the Senate and Honor Council. Suddenly, Claudia is wielding power over her fellow students that she never expected to have and isn’t sure she wants.

Claudia vows to use her power to help the school. But there are forces aligned against her: shocking scandals, tyrants waiting in the wings, and political dilemmas with no easy answers. As Claudia struggles to be a force for good in the universe, she wrestles with the question: does power inevitably corrupt?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Drugs, Mild sexual themes, Racism, Sexual assault, Strong language, Underage drinking, Violence, Ableism



Booklist starred (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. The talented and dynamic McCoy (Camp So-and-So, 2017) tackles power, politics, and history in this loose retelling of I, Claudius. Imperial Day Academy, an elite prep school in Los Angeles, has teachers, administrators, and an elected student senate. But the true power at Imperial Day lies in the honor council, an elected group of students that uphold the school’s strict honor code. Claudia is a self-proclaimed outsider. With chronic health problems and an oft-mocked stutter, her proximity to power comes only from her benevolent older sister’s honor council position. But Claudia is also a student of history, and as she recounts the corrupt reigns of a string of honor council presidents for an unnamed jury, the reader will begin to realize that her years of studying political machines have turned Claudia into one herself. McCoy pulls off great feats of craft here, managing to keep the narrative riveting and suspenseful while focusing on minute details of student government. It becomes as difficult to tell whether Claudia is manipulating her classmates as it is to tell whether McCoy is manipulating her readers, both to delightful effect. Smart, witty, and featuring an unforgettable (and possibly unreliable) narrator, as well as a seamless stream of political history, the audience that finds this novel will be unable to put it down.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2018)
The last thing Claudia McCarthy wanted was power—that is, until she had some. After years of being teased for her limp and her speech impediment, Claudia enters her new high school, Imperial Day Academy, with only one goal in mind: to be as invisible as possible. That is, until her mortal enemy, the powerful Honor Council member Livia Drusus, orders her to run for Student Senate, thereby thrusting Claudia into the spotlight. Against all odds, Claudia wins her election and, after uncovering a financial scandal within the current Senate, becomes vice president. As Claudia becomes more and more powerful, she begins to question the motivations of everyone around her—including her own. This retelling of the novel I, Claudius (1934) is a gripping political thriller told through a complex narrator whose facility for coldhearted political calculation is exceeded only by her capacity for self-doubt. Claudia is white, and the story features a diverse set of characters who are neither immune to the impact of nor entirely defined by their race, queerness, or physical ability. This narratorial approach is particularly refreshing when it comes to Claudia: Most notably, unlike the majority of disabled characters in young adult fiction, Claudia falls in (reciprocated) love with a popular, nondisabled student. A disturbing, suspenseful coming-of-age story about power, corruption, and the choices we make both for ourselves and the ones we love. (Thriller. 16-adult)

About the Author

Mary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947 project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Her website is

Around the Web

I, Claudia on Amazon

I, Claudia on Barnes and Noble

I, Claudia on Goodreads

I, Claudia Publisher Page