All posts by NJBiblio

About NJBiblio

I am a high school district library media specialist/wannabe tech guru who is always looking for new and innovative materials, resources, and ways to help the teachers integrate 21st century materials in their classrooms. I myself am a little bit geek, a little bit nerd, but always proud of it!

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland

Legends of the Lost Causes by Brad McLelland. February 20, 2018. Henry Holt & Co. BYR, 336 p. ISBN: 9781250124326.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.8; Lexile: 760.

The first book in a new middle-grade fantasy action-adventure series set in the Old West.

A band of orphan avengers. A cursed stone. A horde of zombie outlaws. This is Keech Blackwood’s new life after Bad Whiskey Nelson descends upon the Home for Lost Causes and burns it to the ground.

With his home destroyed and his family lost, Keech will have to use the lessons he learned from Pa Abner to hunt down the powerful Char Stone. Luckily, he has the help of a ragtag team of orphans. Together, they’ll travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover that they share mysterious bonds as they try to track down the legendary stone. Now, it’s a race against the clock, because if Bad Whiskey finds the stone first. . . . all is lost.

Part of Series: Legends of Lost Causes (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Smoking, Some gruesome imagery, Death of a parent

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 4-7. “I may be a greenhorn,” Keech Blackwood tells a “lawdog” sheriff, “but I’m far from a child.” And it’s true that, at 13, Keech has seen far more than most—he’s just recently watched his orphanage home burned with all his foster siblings inside and his caretakers killed by a man called Bad Whiskey Nelson. Now Keech is after vengeance, but when he meets a fellow group of orphans out for the same, the quest changes. The group sets out to track down a powerful object called the Char Stone, but Bad Whiskey is after it, too, and he’s got an army of outlaws he’s raised from the dead. Keech and his new crew battle zombie cowboys and the treacherous Wild West as they search for the stone, and discover things in their pasts that tie them to the quest. Cowriters McLelland and Sylvester incorporate aspects of Osage culture and legend into this action-packed series starter. Part western, part zombie flick, this pits scrappy, resourceful kids against some menacing villains—always a recipe for success.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-McLelland and Sylvester’s debut novel and series opener is a classic Western full of cowboys, adventure, and a sprinkling of the supernatural. In 1850s Missouri, orphans Keech and Sam’s peaceful life at the Home for Lost Causes is interrupted when a stranger named Bad Whiskey comes looking for the orphanage’s patriarch, Pa Abner. As it turns out, Pa-whose real name is Isaiah Raines-used to be part of a group known as the Enforcers. When Pa doesn’t reveal the location of the mysterious Char Stone, Bad Whiskey shoots Pa dead and burns the orphanage to the ground. Only Keech escapes and, on the road, joins a band of other orphans to follow Pa’s secret telegram to find the Char Stone before Bad Whiskey and his army of undead thralls do. The characters are all larger-than-life, including a few that stand out against the White majority: Keech is part Osage and Cutter is Latinx. The Old West lingo-laden dialogue is pitch-perfect-not to mention contagious. It’s rare to see a Western in middle grade fiction-especially one that, like this one, eliminates some of the genre’s more harmful stereotypes of Native populations. -Alec Chunn, Eugene Public Library, OR

About the Author

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.

His website is www.bradmcbooks.com.

Around the Web

Legends of the Lost Causes on Amazon

Legends of the Lost Causes on Goodreads

Legends of the Lost Causes Publisher Page

Advertisements

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda

Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda. February 20, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 378 p. ISBN: 9781250085894.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound, here is a frightening, fast-paced YA adventure from the author of the acclaimed horror novel, Shutter.

Tuck has been in stasis on the USS John Muir, a ship that houses Earth’s most valued artifacts—its natural resources. Parks and mountains are preserved in space.

Laura belongs to a shipraiding family, who are funded by a group used to getting what they want. And they want what’s on the Muir.

Tuck and Laura didn’t bargain on working together, or battling mutant aliens who use sound to kill. But their plan is the only hope for their crews, their families, and themselves.

In space, nobody can hear you scream . . . but on the John Muir, the screams are the last thing you’ll hear.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Physical abuse

 

Reviews

School Library Journal
Before humans made Earth completely unlivable, the Exodus project was launched, sending out manned spacecrafts to begin the process of planetary colonization. Among them, the USS John Muir carried the soil and plant life needed for terraforming. That was 400 years ago. The ships were lost; now, finding them is the last hope for human survival. In this intense sci-fi thriller, Alameda paints a bleak picture of the future and poses the question: Is the human species worthy of being saved? Two teen protagonists provide the first-person play-by-play in alternating chapters. Tuck, a white self-deprecating loner, belatedly awakens from stasis aboard the John Muir to discover most of the crew are missing and the ship is overrun with deadly monsters. Shocked by the passage of time and keenly aware of how unlikely it is they’ll be found, Tuck shows little concern for death in keeping the ship operational. Laura, a talented hacker and budding archaeologist of Latinx heritage, searches with her family for the original Exodus ships in hopes of finding and salvaging valuable cargo. When Laura’s ship’s computer is hijacked by terrorists, Tuck and Laura are the only two people capable of saving their crews and, possibly, the entire human species. The nail-biting plot will keep teens engaged, even though the terrifying monsters are poorly explained. The budding romance between the two complex protagonists takes a backseat to the high-octane action. —Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

About the Author

A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, Shutter, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a “standout in the genre” by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, Pitch Dark (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality. Her website is www.courtneyalameda.com.

Around the Web

Pitch Dark on Amazon

Pitch Dark on Goodreads

Pitch Dark Publisher Page

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus. March 6, 2018. Fiewel & Friends, 315 p. ISBN: 9781250165343.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 880.

It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito—mute her whole life, orphaned as a child—is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day.

Then, one fateful night, she sees something she was never meant to see, the Center’s most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. The creature is terrifying but also magnificent, capable of language and of understanding emotions…and Elisa can’t keep away. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Soon, affection turns into love, and the creature becomes Elisa’s sole reason to live.

But outside forces are pressing in. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it. Elisa has no choice but to risk everything to save her beloved. With the help of Zelda and Giles, Elisa hatches a plan to break out the creature. But Strickland is on to them. And the Russians are, indeed, coming.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Discrimination, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Alcohol, Smoking, Misogyny, Racism, Anti-gay attitudes and epithets

 

 

About the Authors

Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican director mostly known for his acclaimed films Pan’s LabyrinthThe Devils BackboneCrimson Peak and the Hellboy film franchise. His films draw heavily on sources as diverse as weird fiction, fantasy, horror, and war. In 2009, Del Toro released his debut novel, The Strain, co-authored with Chuck Hogan, as the first part of The Strain Trilogy, an apocalyptic horror series featuring vampires. The series continued with The Fall in 2010 and concluded with The Night Eternal in 2011.

Daniel Kraus has landed on Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Books of 2015 (The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch), won two Odyssey Awards (for both Rotters and Scowler), and has been a Library Guild selection, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, Parent’s Choice Gold Award winner, Bram Stoker finalist, and more.

He co-authored Trollhunters with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and his work has been translated into over 15 languages. His feature films include Musician (2007 New York Times Critics’ Pick) and Sheriff (2006 season premiere of PBS’s Independent Lens).

His website is danielkraus.com

Around the Web

The Shape of Water on Amazon

The Shape of Water on Goodreads

The Shape of Water Publisher Page

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter. March 27, 2018. Scholastic Press, 297 p. ISBN: 9781338134148.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Violence, Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Maddie Manchester has spent the last six years isolated in the Alaskan wilderness. Apart from her father, who brought her to Alaska after a near-fatal incident as a secret service agent, Maddie interacts with no one, forcing her to become physically tough and mentally acute. Her old life—including her best friend and presidential son, Logan—has become a distant memory. That is, until Logan shows up at her door after one too many acts of rebellion for his parents’ tastes. He’s taller and hotter—and then, suddenly, missing. Maddie is immediately thrust into a desperate hunt to save Logan from his kidnappers, armed with only her wits and know-how (and more than one strategically hidden knife). It is no surprise that the author of the Heist Society and Gallagher Girls series has delivered another fun thriller with equal parts action and angst. Maddie falls right in line with Carter’s other protagonists as a canny and capable heroine. While the premise of the book is just as high concept as Carter’s previous offerings, the delivery is grittier and more visceral, while still indulging in some teen romance to lighten the complex tale of revenge and loss. Gripping and smart, this book will appeal to readers looking for a thrill ride with some darker twists.

Kirkus Reviews (February 1, 2018)
Estranged best friends must come together to survive man-made threats in the harsh Alaskan wilderness.Maddie and Logan, both white, were best friends at age 10. Maddie’s father’s job was to keep the president safe, and as the president’s son, that meant Logan too. But when Russians attempt an attack on Logan and the first lady, everything changes. Maddie’s father decides they must move somewhere with no phones, no internet, no access. Soon Maddie and Logan are thousands of miles apart, she in rural Alaska and he in the White House. For six years there’s no contact; Maddie spends two years writing to him with no response. She becomes skilled in the ways of the wilderness, her anger at Logan building. His perspective highlights a privileged, reckless life, leading the president to administer a unique punishment: staying with Maddie and her father in Alaska. But Logan brings dangerous baggage with him, and with her father away for the night, it’s up to Maddie to keep them both safe. Maddie’s grit, humor, and cleverness make her an engaging action hero. Logan’s less dynamic, hyperfocused on ensuring Maddie’s safety when she’s not the one who needs saving. Fans of survivalist fiction will be impressed by the well-researched, immersive Alaskan landscape and all its beauty and brutality. A tightly plotted thriller helmed by a firecracker that never loses her spark. (Thriller. 14-17)

About the Author

Ally Carter writes books about teen spies, thieves, and diplomats.

She is the New York Times bestselling author of three YA series about the world’s best teenage art thieves (Heist Society), the world’s coolest spy school (Gallagher Girls, including I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You), and the granddaughter of a diplomat who has to find her mother’s killer on Embassy Row.

Her novels have sold well over two-million copies and have been published in more than twenty countries. She lives in Oklahoma, where her life is either very ordinary or the best deep-cover legend ever. She’d tell you more, but…well…you know…

Her website is AllyCarter.com

Around the Web

Not If I Save You First on Amazon

Not If I Save You First on Goodreads

Not If I Save You First Publisher Page

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang. February 13, 20187. First Second, 288 p. ISBN: 9781250159854.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 360.

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Transphobia

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Grades 7-12. Frances, a seamstress living in Paris at the turn of the century, causes quite a stir when she designs a daring, avant-garde ballgown for a count’s daughter, who blithely asks to be dressed “like the devil’s wench.” Though the countess is displeased, her daughter is enchanted, and so is the crown prince, Sebastian, who immediately hires Frances with an unusual request: he wants her to make him a wardrobe of bold, glamorous gowns. Secrecy, of course, is paramount, but Frances loves having the freedom to design the dresses of her dreams, which are making quite a name for the prince’s au courant alter ego, Lady Crystallia. Wang’s buoyant, richly colored artwork beautifully envisions Frances’ designs against an already captivating background. It’s not that the de rigueur fashions are ugly or boring—rather, everything is beautiful—but Frances’ ensembles stand out stunningly. As Lady Crystallia gains notoriety, and Frances gets closer to meeting her idol, a designer of ballet costumes, elements of Frances’ designs trickle subtly into the wider fashion world. But fame brings attention, and Seb’s worries about being exposed surpass his loyalty to his friend. Though the conclusion is perhaps too rosy given the suggested time period, that’s an easy quibble to forgive, thanks to the gorgeously dense artwork, lively sense of movement, effervescent fashions, sweet romance, and heartwarming denouement.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2017)
Once upon a time, there was a prince who felt fabulous only in exquisite gowns. Prince Sebastian’s parents, like fleets of fairy-tale progenitors before, are myopically focused on getting their kid hitched. Rendezvous with potential brides rattle Sebastian, and not just because he’s only 16 and averse to icky matrimony. It’s because he dresses in couture gowns and is petrified of facing what a reveal would mean to his parents and potential wife. Weary of donning his mother’s duds, he hires Frances, a seamstress with an avant-garde flair. Their friendship quickly evolves as she harnesses her talent and he becomes empowered to make public appearances as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. When Lady Crystallia becomes a fashion plate du jour—and secrecy verges on revelation—Sebastian and Frances are at a crossroads: can they remain true to themselves, each other, and the world? Wang’s linework has as much movement and play as Crystallia’s frocks, and her palette seamlessly wanders from petit-four brights to the moody darks of an ombre swatch. This is preindustrial Paris, so the cast is white, with the only otherness being class differentiation. Sebastian’s story shouldn’t be taken as a testament to how easy it is for one to reveal one’s true self to one’s parents, particularly if one is LGBTQIAP: Sebastian meets acceptance far too easily, particularly for such a public figure in such a conservative age. Sebastian’s summation of Frances’ aesthetic underscores the ultimate blueprint: fantasy and drama. A biblio bias-cut whose shimmer is welcome despite its optimistic shortsightedness. (Historical graphic fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Jen Wang is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Los Angeles. She is the co-author of the New York Times Bestselling graphic novel IN Real Life (First Second) with Cory Doctorow, Koko Be Good (First Second), and The Prince and the Dressmaker (First Second/February 2018). Her work has also appearred in Los Angeles Magazine, Hazlitt, Slate, McSweeney’s, and Portland Mercury. She is the co-founder and organizer of the annual festival Comic Arts Los Angeles. Her website is www.jenwang.net

Around the Web

The Prince and the Dressmaker on Amazon

The Prince and the Dressmaker on Goodreads

The Prince and the Dressmaker Publisher Page

The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G.. February 27, 2018. First Second, 240 p. ISBN: 9781250159823.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 350.

The quest to save Dreamside continues! After a surprise attack at sea, Cucumber finds himself in the Ripple Kingdom, home to white sand, blue waves . . . oh yeah, and the giant, terrible squid monster holding Almond and Sir Carrot captive. Can our so-called “legendary hero” rescue his companions from the nefarious Splashmaster?

Nah, probably not.

Good thing Princess Nautilus is here! With her wit, charm, and positive attitude, there’s no way they can lose. But saving the day won’t be as simple as it seems once a 500,000-year-old secret comes to light . . .

Adapted from Gigi D.G.’s popular webcomic series of the same name, Cucumber Quest: The Ripple Kingdom is the second book of a clever, adorable, and hilarious four-volume heroic adventure that is sure to make you hungry for sweets and action.

Sequel to: The Doughnut Kingdom

Part of Series: Cucumber Quest (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Body humor

 

Reviews

School Library Journal (January 1, 2018)
Gr 2-5-D.G. presents a second print installment based on her hit webcomic Cucumber Quest. This leg of the quest centers on the watery Ripple Kingdom (one of the seven realms of Dreamside), where bunny siblings Cucumber and Almond have been separated. Almond is a fighter but finds herself at the mercy of Splashmaster, a giant squid with an abysmally low intelligence score. Reluctant hero Cucumber has washed ashore and rescues Princess Nautilus from a mob of crabs. Cucumber and Almond eventually reunite to defeat the Splashmaster, who is one of the henchmen of the Nightmare Knight, the “big bad” summoned once every 5,000 years to help a greedy mortal bent on world domination. With the help of a hilarious supporting cast, Cucumber and Almond must save the land of Dreamside once and for all. D.G.’s comic has transitioned from web to page beautifully, with the exception of a few scene transitions that aren’t quite clear. Readers looking for high action and ridiculous comedy will devour this tale. While this title can stand alone, those who are familiar with the first installment will get more out of it. Soft lines and saturated color convey light and emotion perfectly, creating a style sure to draw elementary and middle grade readers alike. VERDICT Jump in! The water in Ripple Kingdom is just fine, even if it is chock-full of sassy crabs and one giant vacuous squid. A recommended purchase for all graphic novel collections.-Taylor Worley, Springfield Public Library, OR

About the Author

Gigi D.G. is a comic artist from Southern California who does concept work for animation and video games. She started creating Cucumber Quest in 2011, and it is her first published work. Her website is cucumber.gigididi.com

Around the Web

The Ripple Kingdom on Amazon

The Ripple Kingdom on Goodreads

The Ripple Kingdom Publisher Page

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst. April 3, 2018. Clarion Books, 336 p. ISBN: 9781328729453.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8; Lexile: 660.

Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family. 

Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them?

Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Mayka’s father, the stonemason, carved her and the creatures she lives with, but now that he is dead, their intricate carvings are fading, and with them, the power that keeps them alive. To save them, Mayka must go to the world below her mountain and look for a new stonemason to recarve the stories etched into their bodies. But the human world is a dangerous one, and Mayka must learn new skills to keep from falling into a dangerous trap. In this celebration of stories, art, and the love of family—both birth and chosen—readers will meet a host of characters who are very human, regardless of their actual physical makeup. Using the familiar rhythms of traditional tales and bolstered by Mayka’s love of telling stories, this is a strong addition to middle-grade fantasy adventures, one which begs to be read aloud. With a deft balance between the thrilling journey and the artfully built world of magic, this is as beautiful and adventurous as the graceful stone birds accompanying Mayka on her journey.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
A living stone girl leaves the isolated mountain where she lives to seek a stonemason who can keep her family alive.Father, a stonemason, was human. He carved their family: animals, two birds, and Mayka, a 12-year-old girl made from gray mountain granite. Stone beings don’t cry, taste, sleep, or tire—but because Father carved marks on each one giving them life and their own unique stories, they move, talk, think, and feel. Since Father died, wind, water, and time have been wearing down the family’s markings; recently, Turtle’s markings so eroded that he stopped living. So Mayka gathers her courage and hikes down from their idyllic mountain into the city, accompanied by the flying stone birds. Her quest for a stonemason to recarve their markings leads to many revelations, each serious yet presented gently. As Mayka learns that Father was famous, that most stone beings serve flesh-and-blood “keepers,” and that a city stonemason has invented a carving that enslaves, she begins to understand that she and her fellow carved creatures can interpret and stretch their own stories—even when those stories are literally carved in stone. Mayka’s kindness and steady loyalty, her friends’ animated and varied personalities, and some downright brilliant problem-solving will carve themselves into readers’ memories. Thoughtful, colorful, strengthening, and understatedly tender. (Fantasy. 9-12)

About the Author

Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of fifteen fantasy books for kids, teens, and adults, including The Stone Girl’s Story, Drink Slay Love, and The Queens of Renthia series. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA’s Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk.

Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. Her website is www.sarahbethdurst.com

Around the Web

The Stone Girl’s Story on Amazon

The Stone Girl’s Story on Goodreads

The Stone Girl’s Story Publisher Page

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom. March 27, 2018. Fiewel and Friends, 320 p. ISBN: 9781250132796.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 840.

She’s not the girl everyone expects her to be.

Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. She is expected to help with her younger sisters. To pitch in with the cooking and cleaning. And to marry her neighbor, the farmer Daniel Long. Harriet’s mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet doesn’t want someone else to choose her path―in love or in life.

When Harriet’s brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him―disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited strangers, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet sees more of the world, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she’s loved all along.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Discussion of rape and physical abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (April 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 9-12. In early nineteenth-century New England, oldest daughter Harriet chafes against the expectations placed on her, particularly when it comes to the handsome, eligible, land-owning neighbor, Daniel, whom her mother wants her to marry. Despite a slow-burning affection between Daniel and Harriet, the headstrong girl decides to join her brother Gideon when he leaves home to settle a parcel in the Genesee Valley. Determined not to let her gender get in the way, Harriet disguises herself as a boy and ultimately finds more challenges in the frontier than just hard labor. Ostrom infuses her lyrically written novel with plenty of period details about homesteading in western New York and cultivates a dynamic sense of atmosphere: the dense trees, mucky roads, and back-breaking labor under the sweltering summer sun are all vividly rendered. Harriet’s fiercely independent spirit is accepted by just about everyone, which doesn’t seem true to the time period, but despite the overly rosy depiction of the time, the warm romance and witty banter between the well-wrought characters should please plenty of teen readers nonetheless.

Publishers Weekly Annex (March 12, 2018)
Harriet Submit Winter has no intention of living up to her name and marrying her boring neighbor Daniel Long to meet expectations of gender norms set up in pioneer times. Instead, she disguises herself as Freddy, a boy, and leaves the family farm in New Hampshire with her brother Gideon to forge a new life in the wilderness of western New York. Ostrom effectively contextualizes the discussion of societal limitations imposed upon women within the story’s well-drawn historical setting. For Harriet, her male alter ego provides her with a protective armor and a sense of limitless potential, while it also starkly highlights gender inequity. A complicated courtship in the wilderness plays out like Pride and Prejudice with a western backdrop, but the ending bucks tradition to set up a refreshingly level-headed ever-after that is steeped in reality and feels true to the journey. Ages 13-up

About the Author

Melissa Ostrom teaches English literature at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The Beloved Wild is her YA debut.

She lives in Batavia, New York, with her family. Her website is www.melissaostrom.com

Around the Web

The Beloved Wild on Amazon

The Beloved Wild on Goodreads

The Beloved Wild Publisher Page

Champion: The Comeback Take of the American Chestnut Tree by Sally M. Walker

Champion: the Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree by Sally M. Walker. March 6, 2018. Henry Holt & Co., 144 p. ISBN: 9781250125231.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.1; Lexile: 1070.

American chestnut trees were once found far and wide in North America’s eastern forests. They towered up to one hundred feet tall, providing food and shelter for people and animals alike. For many, life without the chestnut seemed unimaginable—until disaster struck in the early 1900s.

What began as a wound in the bark of a few trees soon turned to an unstoppable killing force. An unknown blight was wiping out the American chestnut, and scientists felt powerless to prevent it.

But the story doesn’t end there. Today, the American chestnut is making a comeback. Narrative nonfiction master Sally M. Walker tells a tale of loss, restoration, and the triumph of human ingenuity in this beautifully photographed middle-grade book.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Related Videos

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 5-8. When Hermann Merkel was hired in 1898 to be New York Zoological Park’s chief forester, the 1,500 American chestnut trees were his favorites. In 1904, Merkel noticed a blight that was quickly destroying these beloved trees, and by 1911, only 2 remained. Merkel’s observations were the start of a scientific mystery with ramifications that still continue. Walker documents some of the many scientists, from the beginning of the blight to today, who have worked to save this American icon. Why all the interest in a tree? The author first explains the importance of the American chestnut on the eastern forests’ environment. The bulk of the investigative text, however, concentrates on the source of the blight and three different approaches to saving the American chestnut. In the process, Walker shows how the comeback of this tree can serve as a model to restore other species. The niche subject may be a hard sell to recreational readers, but with additional photos of scientists in action, this STEM volume is a boon to life-science and engineering units.

Kirkus Reviews (February 15, 2018)
Once a ubiquitous presence in North America’s eastern forests, the American chestnut tree was nearly brought to extinction by a deadly blight, but it was brought back from oblivion through the ingenuity of determined scientists. In 1904, forester Hermann Merkel discovered ugly wounds on some of the American chestnut trees in the New York Zoological Park. No other trees in the park were affected. By 1911, only two of 1,500 trees in the park remained. A scientist with the New York Botanical Garden identified the disease as a blight fungus. All attempts to find a remedy failed. A U.S. Department of Agriculture scientist discovered that the blight originated in Asia, brought to the United States through the cross-breeding of the American and Asian chestnuts. By 1940, nearly 4 billion trees succumbed to the devastating blight. Using clear, accessible language, Walker explains how research scientists have developed three promising approaches to restoring the American chestnut: backcross breeding, using weak strains of virus-infected fungus to attack lethal strains, and engineering transgenic American chestnut trees. These approaches are cause for cautious optimism for restoration of the trees, which Walker describes as a “gargantuan task,” requiring “time and patience.” Walker’s passion for her subject and her ability to convincingly explain how the American chestnut is an icon worth saving makes this stand out. A compelling, inspiring true story of a species rescued from extinction through decades of determined innovation. (photos, appendices, source notes, glossary, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Sally M. Walker is the author of the Sibert Medal winner Secrets of a Civil War Submarine as well as many other nonfiction books, including Boundaries: How the Mason-Dixon Line Settled a Family Feud and Divided a Nation. Sally M. Walker lives in Illinois.

Her website is sallymwalker.com

Teacher Resources

American Chestnut Foundation Educational Resources

American Chestnut Lesson Plans

Around the Web

Champion on Amazon

Champion on  Goodreads

Champion Publisher Page

Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr

Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara by Kris Waldherr. January 30, 2018. Scholastic Nonfiction, 128 p. ISBN: 9781338047981.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.5; Lexile: 1030.

Forget everything you thought you knew about princesses…

Welcome to Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr (author of Doomed Queens), where you’ll discover what really happens after “Happily Ever After.” From the war-torn Dark Ages of Medieval Europe to America’s Gilded Age, and all the way up to Kate Middleton, Bad Princess explores more than 30 true princess stories, going beyond the glitz and glamour to find out what life was really like for young royals throughout history.
A mix of royal biography, pop culture, art, style, and pure fun, Bad Princess is a whip-smart, tongue-in-cheek spin on the traditional princess narrative, proving that it takes more than a pretty crown to be a great leader.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Irreverent humor

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 4-7. Packed with history and context, Waldherr uses an animated, well-rounded approach in this engaging look at princesses in life and lore. After an introduction exploring why princesses remain a source of fascination and influence, subsequent chapters present stories of princesses to examine what being a princess means, including their various characteristics and roles through time, stereotypes and controversies, and ever afters, happy and otherwise. Readers are introduced to sixth-century “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Báthory; opportunistic “Dollar Princesses,” who sought status by marrying royalty; and others who were political pawns, subservient heir-bearers, or depicted as damsels in distress. Along with these, Waldherr also profiles a diverse array of compellingly strong, self-determined princesses who challenged the status quo and endeavored to enact positive change and empower others, like modern-day Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland. The conversational tone, droll commentary, and up-to-date pop-culture references (Disney, natch) make for vibrant, engaging reading, and the lively layout, incorporating sidebars, factoids, and tongue-in-cheek illustrations, further enhance the pages. This absorbing, thought-provoking, and intriguing exploration of a perennially popular topic will both entertain and inform.

Kirkus Reviews (October 1, 2017)
The author of Doomed Queens (2008) examines “princess backlash” and asks: what makes a princess?Vignettes about royals (primarily European) collected under wry chapter headings such as “Princess Wars,” “Those Revolting Royals,” and “When the Tiara Doesn’t Fit” will leave youngsters reeling. Love is not certain, nor are riches. Waldherr’s storytelling voice strikes a fine balance between snarky and sympathetic. Many princesses were political pawns, such as Lucrezia Borgia. Elizabeth Báthory of Slovakia, an accused serial killer, was “bad to the bone.” Some, most notably Princess Diana, got bad deals. Even European fairy-tale princesses such as Snow White and the Little Mermaid endured hardships, even horrors. Readers will marvel that anyone’s able to sell the myth of the happily-ever-after princess. Quotes, factoids, illustrations, and photographs complete the compendium and bring youngsters up to the current day, showing them that princesses willing to take the rei[g]ns can, in fact, achieve success. Modern-day examples of royalty include Princess Sikhanyiso Dlamini of Swaziland and Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai, reflecting a more diverse mix of women who embody a new stricture all readers can embrace: “A princess can change the world.” Power to the princesses, right on! (further reading) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Kris Waldherr is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books for adults and children include Bad PrincessDoomed Queens, and The Book of Goddesses. The New Yorker praised Doomed Queens as “utterly satisfying” and “deliciously perverse.” The Book of Goddesses was a One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club’s Top Ten Most Popular Book. Her picture book Persephone and the Pomegranate was noted by the New York Times Book Review for its “quality of myth and magic.” Waldherr is also the creator of the Goddess Tarot, which has a quarter of a million copies in print.

Her website is www.kriswaldherr.com

Around the Web

Bad Princess on Amazon

Bad Princess on Goodreads

Bad Princess Publisher Page