Category Archives: November 2018

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars: The Moon-King (Book 2) by Alex Alice. September 4, 2018. First Second, 64 p. ISBN: 9781626724945.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.8.

What if man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969? In The Moon-King, the second volume in this breath-taking fantasy graphic novel series, Alex Alice draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

In anticipation of their maiden voyage, Seraphin and the Knights of Aether had prepared for everything―except treason. The villainous chamberlain wants to overthrow King Ludwig and claim the electro-aetheric technology for Prussia. The only escape for the king and his companions lies in the frosty skies above Bavaria.

The aethership’s first flight is asuccess, but their respite is short-lived. As long as the chamberlain is free to spread his lies, these travelers will find no safe harbor. To save the king’s throne, they must push the ship even farther―out of the sky . . . and into the stars!

Sequel to: The Space Race of 1869

Part of Series: Castle in the Stars (Book #2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage smoking, Violence

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
Alice knows a lot about the moon, and most of it isn’t true. An entire page of this graphic novel, a French import, is devoted to popular historical theories about the moon, and because the story is set in 1870, all of them are wonderfully archaic. “Everyone knows that giant vultures…live on the moon!” one character explains. Another person mentions a scientist who believed the moon was shaped like an egg. These ideas (inspired by Lucian of Samosata and Eratosthenes, among others) are so charming that when the characters actually land on the moon, a few pages later, it’s a bit of a letdown. The landscape is mostly pale, unvarying mountains and caverns, and even though they’re painted beautifully, the story features page after page of hiking. Occasionally, though, the images are just as gorgeous as in the first volume of the series. When the aeronauts come across an orrery (an enormous model of the planets), it’s breathtaking, and the steampunk designs—like a spacesuit with a bird of prey on its breastplate—are always inventive. The prose is less masterful, at least in this translation, with sentences along the lines of, “An ingenious Regnault & Reiset system absorbed harmful gases and replenished the oxygen.” The skin tones of the cast are also mostly pale and unvarying. Readers who enjoyed the first book may remain invested in the fates of the characters. Other people might prefer to look up archaic stories about the moon. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)

About the Author

Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

His website is www.alexalice.com

Around the Web

The Moon-King on Amazon

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The Moon-King on Goodreads

The Moon-King Publisher Page

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Lab 101: Mission Alert by Benjamin Hulme-Cross

Lab 101: Mission Alert by Benjamin Hulme-Cross. August 1, 2018. Darby Creek Publishing, 72 p. ISBN: 9781541525818.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.5; Lexile: 740.

Tom and Zilla are on a field trip to a robotics lab–and on a secret mission to uncover its true purpose. But soon the situation gets out of control. If they want to survive, they’ll have to face off against an army of robots. Can secret agents find out the lab’s sinister purpose and save themselves?

Part of Series: Mission Alert

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

About the Author

Ben Hulme-Cross has written over thirty books for struggling readers, including the Dark Hunter series. Ben is currently the director for Iffley Publishing in the United Kingdom and lives in Oxford.

 

Around the Web

Lab 101 on Amazon

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Lab 101 Publisher Page

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. June 26, 2018. Saga Press, 287 p. ISBN: 9781534413498.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 700.

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Part of Series: Sixth World (Book #1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Violence

 

Video Review

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
It is the near future, and a cataclysmic flood has drowned two thirds of the planet. The bulk of the remaining land is the Dinétah, home of the Navajo (known among themselves as the Diné). When the Big Water rose up, so did the gods and monsters of the old stories, who now roam freely through Dinétah alongside clans, families, and gangs. Maggie Hoskie is a monster hunter, trained and then abandoned by the immortal Neizghání. She hunts alone, tormented by her painful past, believing she is almost a monster herself. When a different type of creature begins appearing, Maggie knows she must find its source before it puts the Diné at risk. She reluctantly teams up with an enigmatic medicine man to face down the witch behind it all. Roanhorse is an exciting new voice in speculative fiction, and her depictions of Navajo legends and culture make for a fascinating read. This cross between Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Mad Max: Fury Road will leave readers wanting to know what Maggie does in the next series installment.

Kirkus Reviews (July 1, 2018)
After the Big Water, Maggie Hoskie’s monster-slaying clan powers have woken up. She’s going to need them on a journey culminating in the kind of battle fantasy readers will relish. In Roanhorse’s hard-hitting debut novel, most of the world has perished, and Dinétah (the Navajo Nation) has risen. A wall has been built to keep the Diné safe from what remains, but little can keep them safe from the monsters that have woken up inside those borders and the witches who work to destroy what life is left. Little except Maggie, whose grandmother was murdered in front of her, who was abandoned by the god Neizghání, who’d saved her. Maggie has been left to hunt monsters alone, hoping for the return of the god she loved like a father and wanted as a lover. In walks the troublingly sexy Kai, whom she reluctantly takes along to hunt monsters and who has medicine big enough to perhaps heal the Earth from the Big Water. As her quest grows, Maggie and Kai battle immortals and mortals alike, and Maggie ends up wondering whom to trust. Propelled by the Coyote god Ma’ii, Maggie confronts her past, her love, and her own power in a war where the stakes are higher than she ever imagined. Roanhorse, the first Indigenous American to win a Nebula and a finalist for a Hugo, has given us a sharp, wonderfully dreamy, action-driven novel. Here’s hoping that the next two in this trilogy will deliver more heart-racing, heart-rending prose.

About the Author

Rebecca Roanhorse is speculative fiction writer and Nebula, Hugo, and Sturgeon Award Finalist. She is also a 2017 Campbell Award Finalist for Best New Science Fiction and Fantasy writer. Her novel Trail of Lightning is the first book in the Sixth World series, followed by Storm of Locusts in 2019. She lives in northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pug.

Her website is rebeccaroanhorse.com/

Around the Web

Trail of Lightning on Amazon

Trail of Lightning on Barnes & Noble

Trail of Lightning on Goodreads

Trail of Lightning Publisher Page

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton. September 18, 2018. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 389 p. ISBN: 9781534402089.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Once, a witch made a pact with a devil. The legend says they loved each other, but can the story be trusted at all? Find out in this lush, atmospheric fantasy novel that entwines love, lies, and sacrifice.

Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.

Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.

Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Grotesque imagery, Strong sexual themes, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (August 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. In the town of Three Graces, death is a knowable thing. The crops do not fail, childbirth happens free of incident, and injuries heal quickly and without infection. And every seven years when the Slaughter Moon rises, a boy runs into Devil’s Forest as a sacrifice. Local folklore says that this is part of a bargain, forged when the Devil fell in love with a witch. But the Slaughter Moon has risen four years early, and the bargain may be weakening. Rhun has always known he would be the anointed saint; he just thought he had more time. Mairwen, a witch, feels the pull of the forest as well, as does Arthur, a boy whose mother raised him as a girl so he would never be a saint. The three go into the forest, and neither they nor it will be the same. Gratton neatly sidesteps a love triangle by putting her trio on equal footing: this is a polyamorous love story as much as it is an eerie, consuming tale of sacrifice and faith. Haunting and unique.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
When the needs of the many require the deaths of a few, three friends defy tradition. Idyllic, isolated Three Graces has enjoyed good health and harvests…in exchange for sending their “best boy” into the Devil’s Forest every 7 years. Few survive to return; all are venerated as saints. Now the sacrifice is coming due too early, and bighearted 17-year-old Rhun Sayer is favored as the saint while 17-year-old Arthur Couch (initially raised by his mother as a girl in an effort to protect him from being chosen) insists on proving his masculinity. But 16-year-old witch’s daughter Mairwin Grace is determined to keep her friends alive. Rather than a tortured love triangle, Gratton (The Queens of Innis Lear, 2018, etc.) treats their evolving, polyamorous relationship sincerely and sensitively. The fantastical elements are described in gorgeous and grotesque detail, their vividness overcoming the generic setting—a vaguely medieval northern European enclave peopled primarily by white citizens (such as blond Arthur and brunette Mairwin), with some who are brown-skinned with curling black hair (Rhun and his mother, a refugee). Told in present tense with the hypnotic cadence of fairy tales and Norse sagas, muddled by amnesia, and illuminated by flashbacks, the elaborately nonlinear narrative obscures a relatively thin plot. Although action-packed, violent, and macabre, this is ultimately a love story. Horrifying, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, a lush fairy tale rooted in a moral quandary. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. Alas, she turned out too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for a someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog. She now spends her days staring at the sky and telling lots of stories about magic.

Her website is tessagratton.com

Around the Web

Strange Grace on Amazon

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Strange Grace on Goodreads

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The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor by Sonia Sotomayor. September 4, 2018. Delacorte Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781524771157.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 1070.

Discover the inspiring life of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, in this middle-grade adaptation of her bestselling adult memoir, My Beloved World
 
Includes an 8-page photo insert and a brief history of the Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor was just a girl when she dared to dream big. Her dream? To become a lawyer and a judge even though she’d never met one of either, and none lived in her neighborhood.

Sonia did not let the hardships of her background—which included growing up in the rough housing projects of New York City’s South Bronx, dealing with juvenile diabetes, coping with parents who argued and fought personal demons, and worrying about money—stand in her way. Always, she believed in herself. Her determination, along with guidance from generous mentors and the unwavering love of her extended Puerto Rican family, propelled her ever forward.

Eventually, all of Sonia’s hard work led to her appointment as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 2009, a role that she has held ever since.

Learn about Justice Sotomayor’s rise and her amazing work as well as about the Supreme Court in this fascinating memoir that shows that no matter the obstacles, dreams can come true

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Drugs, Racism, Alcoholism

 

Author Videos

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 19))
Grades 7-10. After seven-year-old Sonia, recently diagnosed with diabetes, awakens to the sound of her parents arguing over who will give her a daily shot of insulin, she decides to take on that responsibility herself. It was the first of many decisions that would challenge her and move her forward. Judiciously pared down from Sotomayor’s My Beloved World (2013), this autobiography for young people records her memories of growing up with her father (who died when she was nine), her mother, her brother, and her extended Puerto Rican American family in the Bronx. She also discusses her education in Catholic schools, at Princeton, and at Yale, her pro bono advocacy work, and her career as an assistant district attorney and a partner in a private law firm. The story concludes as she begins working as a district court judge. Readers will come away with a strong sense of Sotomayor’s background, her steadfast values, and her ability to stand up for herself and for others. Written in a clear, direct manner and enriched with many personal stories, the book also conveys a sense of her gratitude to family, friends, teachers, and mentors. A lively autobiography of the third woman and the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2018)
The memoir of a woman who rose from the housing projects in New York City’s South Bronx to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. This is the story of a woman who as a 10-year-old fell under the spell of Perry Mason, a fictional TV lawyer. Her life course was set: She would become a lawyer and, dare she dream it, a judge. With a clear vision, hard work, and determination she set out to make her dream come true. In a series of vignettes that help to illustrate her remarkable spirit and motivations, Sotomayor recalls some of the salient moments of her life. Readers are introduced to her close-knit family, friends, colleagues, and mentors that nurtured her along the way. She chronicles her academic and professional achievements and what it took to be successful. She also presents her core beliefs and struggles, never shying from coming across as human. The account of this exceptional trajectory, told with a storyteller’s talent, is filled with a candor and honesty that make her story eminently accessible to young readers. Adapted from her memoir for adults, My Beloved World (2013), in the hope of inspiring children to dream even the dreams they cannot at first imagine, this book should thoroughly achieve that goal. A must read. (glossary, Supreme Court overview) (Memoir. 10-18)

About the Author

Sonia Sotomayor graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1976 and from Yale Law School in 1979. She worked as an assistant district attorney in New York and then at the law firm of Pavia & Harcourt. She served as a judge of the US District Court, Southern District of New York, from 1992 to 1998, and from 1998 to 2009 served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In May 2009, President Barack Obama nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court; she assumed this role on August 8, 2009.

Teacher Resources

Soina Sotomayor Biography Lesson Plan

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The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Amazon

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Barnes & Noble

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor on Goodreads

The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor Publisher Page

Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount

Someone I Used to Know by Patty Blount. August 7, 2018. Sourcebooks Fire, 384 p. ISBN: 9781492632818.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 630.

From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Rape, Sexual assault, Strong language, Underage drinking, Violence

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Online))
Grades 9-12. As a freshman, Ashley was raped by one of her brother’s teammates during a traditional, but unconventional, “scavenger hunt.” “Sex with a virgin” was the top point-getter on Victor’s card, so he targeted Derek’s little sister. Now, two years after a trial in which Derek lobbied the court to give Victor a light sentence because it was just a game—and “justice” acquiesced—​Ashley continues to experience myriad debilitating triggers. Away at college, Derek struggles with his role in the ordeal and as a participant in a toxic culture he hadn’t realized he was part of. Through alternating points of view, Ashley and Derek work separately to heal themselves as their relationship and family crumbles and to influence and educate others. By not concentrating on the act itself, Blount effectively uses Ashley’s reactions, introspection, and victim-impact statement to carry the story’s emotional load. Despite being pedagogic, the book clearly emphasizes that rape culture’s pervasiveness can only be mitigated by reexamining society at large. Realistic and relevant.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2018)
Blount’s (The Way It Hurts, 2017, etc.) latest, a loose sequel to Some Boys (2014), again looks at the aftermath of rape, this time with a focus on secondary survivors. Told with flashbacks through the alternating perspectives of a brother and sister two years after one of his teammates raped her to gain points in a scavenger hunt, this sometimes-didactic all-tell, no-show story has a clear purpose and ultimately hits some genuine emotional notes. High school junior Ashley is a fierce survivor who turns to blogging and activism to fight her anxiety attacks; her older brother, college freshman Derek, joins a men’s anti-rape group and finally gets it. Romance plays a significant role in character growth, and while the stated authorial intent was to show the effect of Ashley’s rape on the whole family, the novel mostly plays out as two parallel narratives which pull together into a family drama only at the end. Characterization and polish take a back seat to message, and some of the dialogue is weak. However, the messaging in Derek’s story is important: Toxic masculinity creates rape culture, and nice boys who do nothing to stop it are part of th

About the Author

Patty Blount grew up quiet and a bit invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice in books. Today, she writes smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. She’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters. Let’s be real; Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.

Her website is www.pattyblount.com

Teacher Resources

Rape Crisis Resources

Around the Web

Someone I Used to Know on Amazon

Someone I Used to Know on Barnes & Noble

Someone I Used to Know on Goodreads

Someone I Used to Know Publisher Page

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood. September 4, 2018. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 336 p. ISBN: 9781481468831.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.8.

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II.

With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada.

Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger.

They’re wrong.

Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive?

Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Suicide by drowning

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 15, 2018)
An escape from war-torn Britain becomes a struggle for survival when a ship is torpedoed off the coast of England. In June 1940, Great Britain formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board to transfer Britain’s children away from the encroaching war to safe harbors around the world. Over 200,000 children between the ages of 5 and 15 applied for just 20,000 spots. Thirteen-year-old Kenneth Sparks is chosen to travel on the City of Benares, a luxury ocean liner, to Canada, where he will live with his aunt in Edmonton. The children are distracted by rich food, new toys, and soft beds, but the accompanying convoy of war ships is a constant reminder that while the blitzkrieg might be behind them, German torpedoes are a very present threat. Three days into their voyage, the Benares is hit, sending crew and passengers into the lifeboats and the water. Ken, along with a handful of others, all white except 32 Asian sailors of varied ethnicity (called Lascars at the time), must survive with little water, food, or shelter if they are to make it out alive. Told in verse, the story of Lifeboat 12 is lyrical, terrifying, and even at times funny. Hood makes effective use of line breaks and punctuation to wrap readers up in Ken’s tale. Copious research, including interviews with the real Ken Sparks, went into the making of this fictional recasting of a true story of survival. Backmatter offers further information, including the racism experienced by the Lascars. A richly detailed account of a little-known event in World War II. (Historical verse fiction. 9-12)

School Library Journal (May 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-It’s 1940, the beginning of the Blitz, and 13-year-old Kenneth Sparks is selected to go to Canada as part of a program to send British children to the safety of the U.K.’s overseas dominions. When his ship is torpedoed, Kenneth, five other boys from the program, and about 40 adults make it aboard Lifeboat 12, one of the only lifeboats remaining after the evening’s gale-force winds. Together, they must survive the North Atlantic in a boat with limited supplies. Evocative verse perfectly captures the horror of their situation, the agonizing disappointment of near-rescues, and the tedium of daily life aboard a cramped lifeboat. For example, immediately following the shipwreck, Kenneth spies the red rocking horse that had been in the children’s playroom floating in the wreckage: “It rears up from the sea,/the red horse of war,/its mouth open,/silently screaming/at all it sees,/rocking up and down/in the waves,/past the bodies of those/I now know/are already/dead.” Adding to the appeal of this work is an exceptionally well-curated and organized array of back matter that includes an author’s note, a nonfiction account of the real-life Lifeboat 12, photos, an essay on the author’s sources and research technique, and documented source notes for a significant amount of the book’s dialogue. VERDICT This stirring novel-in-verse based on a true story is an edge-of-your-seat survival tale, an extensively researched work of historical fiction, and an exemplar of the form.-Eileen Makoff, P.S. 90 Edna Cohen School, NY

About the Author

Susan Hood has written more than 200 picture books. She has received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and her book Spike, The Mixed-Up Monster won the 2013 International Latino Award and was selected for the Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended List. The Tooth Mouse was named a 2013 Best Book of the Year by Bank Street and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center. Prior to becoming an author, Susan was a children’s magazine editor at Scholastic and Instructor Magazine, a book editor at Sesame Workshop, and the Children’s Content Director of Nick Jr. MagazineAda’s Violin is her latest nonfiction picture book and Lifeboat 12 is her first novel in verse.

Her website is www.susanhoodbooks.com

Around the Web

Lifeboat 12 on Amazon

Lifeboat 12 on Barnes & Noble

Lifeboat 12 on Goodreads

Lifeboat 12 Publisher Page

How to Be an American by Silvia Hildago

How to Be an American: A Field Guide to Citizenship by Silvia Hildago. September 25, 2018. Harry N. Abrams, 128 p. ISBN: 9781419730757.  Int Lvl: YA.

The current political climate has left many of us wondering how our government actually operates. Sure, we learned about it in school, but if put to the test, how many of us can correctly explain the branches of government? The history of politics? The differences and connections between local government and federal government? Enter How to Be an American.

While author and illustrator Silvia Hidalgo was studying for her citizenship test, she quickly found that the materials provided by the government were lacking. In order to more easily absorb the information, Hidalgo started her own illustrated reference to civics facts and American history essentials. She’s collected her findings in How to Be an American, a freshly designed and illustrated two-color guide to all things America.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Author Video

About the Author

Born in Costa Rica, Silvia Hidalgo moved to the United States in 1998. Currently an artist as well as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, she has worked for corporations such as SRAM and Motorola. She lives in Chicago.

Teacher Resources

US Citizenship and Immigration Services Website

Around the Web

How to Be an American on Amazon

How to Be an American on Barnes & Noble

How to Be an American on Goodreads

How to Be an American Publisher Page

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald

Game Canger by Tommy Greenwald. September 11, 2018. Harry N. Abrams, 304 p. ISBN: 9781419731433.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.1.

Thirteen-year-old Teddy Youngblood is in a coma fighting for his life after an unspecified football injury at training camp. His family and friends flock to his bedside to support his recovery—and to discuss the events leading up to the tragic accident. Was this an inevitable result of playing a violent sport, or was something more sinister happening on the field that day?

Told in an innovative, multimedia format combining dialogue, texts, newspaper articles, transcripts, an online forum, and Teddy’s inner thoughts, Game Changer explores the joyous thrills and terrifying risks of America’s most popular sport.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 5-8. Freshman football player Teddy Youngblood, 13, is seriously injured during a practice session before the upcoming football season. Teddy’s family, friends, and neighbors are distraught about it—it may be Teddy’s favorite sport, but it just put him into a coma. Soon, rumors begin circulating around town that Teddy’s accident was not an accident; rather, there is something suspicious afoot. Worried, Teddy’s family and friends clamor to find the truth behind the accident. Greenwald’s latest takes a fresh approach, telling the story through multiple characters and an almost free-verse style that combines inner thoughts, texts, social media feeds, newspaper articles, interview transcripts, and dialogue. Example: “Can you squeeze my hand? / Oh man / Oh man that’s perfect / Great job, Ted / Look at that.” The format presents no barrier for readers, who will rapidly adapt. Reminiscent of Mike Lupica’s Lone Stars (2017), Greenwald’s novel entertains while exposing readers to the potential risks and consequences inherent in the sport of football. Overall, a strong entry into Greenwald’s bibliography and an interesting, innovative read.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2018)
A young athlete lies in a coma while his family and community try to determine the cause of his injury. Thirteen-year-old Teddy Youngblood collapsed following an intense football practice. At first, the focus is on his injury and the concerns of his family and friends for his recovery. Counselors are brought in to help them with the trauma. The coach’s daughter, Camille, makes a social media page to encourage positive thoughts, but some of the posters hint that something other than a tough hit at practice caused his injury. The doctors encourage family and friends to talk to Teddy, and readers learn much through these comments. Teddy’s family is at odds. His mother, who lives apart, did not want her son to play football, while his dad supported his sports involvement. Also interspersed are Teddy’s thoughts as he lies in the hospital: “This is what life is / Life is football / Football is life.” This nontraditional narrative, using conversations, interview transcripts, text messages, hospital reports, and other documents, skillfully peels back the elements of the mystery. The issues of football’s violence are presented, but the book’s real strength is the depiction of the culture behind it. There are few descriptions to indicate the ethnic makeup of the characters (Teddy’s eyes are described as blue), implying the white default. The story will resonate with those on both sides of the debate about the role of youth football in society, and the unusual storytelling technique sets it apart from most sport fiction. (Fiction. 10-14)

About the Author

Tommy Greenwald is the author of the Crimebiters! series, about a group of friends and a (possibly) superhero crime-fighting vampire dog, and the Charlie Joe Jackson books, a middle-grade series about the most reluctant reader ever born.

Tommy is also the Co-Founder of Spotco Advertising, a theatrical and entertainment advertising agency in New York City, and the lyricist and co-bookwriter (with Andrew Lippa) of JOHN & JEN, a 1995 musical which was revived off-Broadway in 2015.

His website is tommygreenwald.com/

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Whatshisface by Gordon Korman

Whatshisface by Gordon Korman. May 8, 2018. Scholastic Press, 240 p. ISBN: 9781338200164.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 5.4; Lexile: 770.

Gordon Korman’s newest standalone novel, is a fun, funny ghost story about a nobody kid who becomes a somebody while helping a ghost right a wrong from the past.

When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all: the thing is haunted!

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 4-7. After moving five times in three years, Cooper’s not surprised when the kids at Stratford Middle School call him Whatshisface, but two new acquaintances stun him. First Jolie, a petite, self-assured classmate who loves theater and extreme sports, befriends him. Then he meets Roddy, the ghost of a 13-year-old Elizabethan apprentice, who inhabits his new cell phone and claims to have written the original version of Romeo and Juliet. The plot thickens when both Jolie’s and Cooper’s brutish nemeses take the leading roles in the seventh-grade production of the play. Meanwhile, Cooper and Roddy attempt to retrieve his original manuscript from a billionaire’s secret vault. The novel has a bit of everything: history, crime, suspense, romance, and plenty of humor. While becoming more familiar with sixteenth-century English customs and language, readers will have the fun of hearing Roddy react to twentieth-century American culture and technology. The question “Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays?” arises, but pales in comparison with “What would you do to help a friend?” Korman’s latest is an enjoyable romp from start to finish.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2018)
Gr 4-7-Army brat Cooper Vega is used to starting over in new places and being practically invisible. As he starts seventh grade at yet another school, his parents have given him a state-of-the-art cell phone. Unfortunately, the phone proves to be haunted by the ghost of an Elizabethan printer’s apprentice who claims to be the original author of Romeo and Juliet, which is being performed at his new school. Funny scenarios abound, especially when Cooper starts taking the ghost’s advice on how to impress the girl he likes. This humorous and well-paced read touches on bullying, crushes, and popularity, with a side of the Bard. VERDICT Korman fans will not be disappointed.-Misti Tidman, -Mansfield/Richland County Public Library, OH

About the Author

Korman wrote his first book, “This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall”, when he was 12 years old, for a coach who suddenly found himself teaching 7th grade English. He later took that episode and created a book out of it, as well, in “The Sixth Grade Nickname Game”, wherein Mr. Huge was based on that 7th grade teacher.

Korman moved to New York City, where he studied film and film writing. While in New York, he met his future wife; live in Long Island with their three children.

He has published more than 50 books.

His website is gordonkorman.com.

Around the Web

Whatshisface on Amazon

Whatshisface on Barnes & Noble

Whatshisface on Goodreads

Whatshisface Publisher Page