Monday, November 28, 2016


A review by Adam: 

Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series, is back with The Secret Keepers, a new mystery where an ordinary boy goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Living in a tiny, rundown apartment, Reuben Pedley and his widowed mother spend their evenings together dreaming and drawing up blueprints for magical homes filled with firefighter poles and hidden staircases. During the day, while his mother is at work, Reuben spends his solitary afternoons wandering the streets of New Umbra. As he explores the nooks and crannies of the city Reuben tries his best to avoid the searching eyes of the Directions, a group of sinister men who terrorize the citizens of New Umbra under the orders of a secretive and tyrannical figure known only as The Smoke.

One day while climbing up a perilously tall building Reuben comes upon a mysterious pocket watch. To Reuben’s surprise the watch doesn’t tell time, but instead gives Reuben an incredible power and launches him on a whirlwind journey as he attempts to stay one step ahead of The Smoke’s searching grasp and uncover the secret behind the watch’s mysterious origin.

4th to 8th graders will love the twists and turns Reuben’s journey takes, and will delight in uncovering the book’s many mysteries along with Reuben.​​

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Bob Shea's newest picture book, The Happiest Book Ever! gives other books about feelings a run for their money. Instead of focusing on just plain happiness or sadness or anger, with no allowance for anything in between, this very meta book subversively examines the complex ways emotions can be expressed and shows that it's okay not to feel happy all the time. 

Right away, this book introduces us to some of its so-called happiest friends, an inexpressive frog and a dancing cake. The dancing cake is rendered in simply-drawn, brightly-colored caricatures, like the rest of the over-the-top happy cast (cheerful clouds, contented kittens, and a whimsical whale, to name just a few), that is, except for "grumpy" frog, the only photo-realistic image in the entire story and the unwitting monkey wrench in the book's goal of total happiness domination. 

Will the happiest book ever wear down frog with its incessant outward displays of the only socially-acceptable emotion allowed within its pages, and make frog turn his "unhappy" deadpan expression upside down--or else? This thoughtfully engaging yet ultimately entertaining meditation on expressing one's feelings and giving others the space to express theirs makes a fun read-aloud, as well as a compelling book to share one-on-one. 

Recommended for preschoolers to 2nd graders. 

Monday, November 21, 2016


Rory the dinosaur, who made his first appearance in Rory the Dinosaur: Me and My Dad, returns in this story about finding the perfect pet.

After an exuberant morning of playing fetch and hide and seek with his friend’s exciting new pet hermit crab, Rory is determined to seek out a pet of his own. He earnestly scours his island home, but is dismayed to discover that none of the other animal inhabitants are keen to play his pet. Just as he’s resigned to his pet-free fate, Rory proves that, with a bit of creativity, we can find friendships in all places and forms.

Liz Climo’s Rory the Dinosaur Wants a Pet is a quirky picture book that charmingly captures the preschool-aged imagination and spirit. For more endearing, if odd, picture books about unconventional pets and friends, check out Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets and Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sophie’s Squash.

Ages 4+

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Here's Erin Gleeson's forest feast for younger cooks featuring some fabulous photos and vegetarian recipes.  Set with large text, these very easy recipes are for kids who are adventurous eaters.  Recipes such as Kale Tacos or Pesto Pepper Pizza may be easy but kids with difficulty reading or not yet fluent will need adult help since each recipe is in a different font style, size and have directional arrows pointing to things may make it difficult to track.   

All in all, Forest Feast for Kids : Colorful Vegetarian Recipes that are Simple to Make is a very stylish and visually appealing cookbook like its adult counterpart.  Look through this cookbook for some holiday cooking choices along with the children's cooking magazine Chop Chop

For 4th-8th graders. 

Monday, November 14, 2016


All you need for apples are circles and the color red.

As summer ends, the apples in a tree hang just out of reach. What would you need reach the fruit? In this French import by Lucie Félix, cut-out shapes and bold colors ask and answer a series of questions to tell the story of an apple tree through the seasons.

The magic of this deceptively simple picture book is in the author’s ability to transform ordinary shapes and colors into tangible solutions. Six rectangles make a ladder. Two circles become an apple with a single missing bite. Three triangles, two circles, and an oval take flight as a red-breasted robin.

Apples and Robins invites young readers to exercise their problem solving abilities and imagine the potential in shapes. Pair with Christie Matheson’s delightful interactive book Tap the Magic Tree.

Ages 4+

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Laura Marx Fitzgerald, author of Under the Egg, is back with a new art-centric mystery in The Gallery. It's the height of roaring twenties, and twelve-year-old Martha O'Doyle finds herself employed as a servant for the wealthy, pompous newspaper magnate, Mr. Archer J. Sewell. The grand Fifth Avenue mansion is a far cry from the tiny Brooklyn apartment she shares with her family, and our inquisitive heroine wastes no time exploring every opulent corner. But it is the ever-absent eccentric mistress of the house--Mrs. "Wild Rose" Sewell, supposedly bedridden due to her madness--who really piques Martha's curiosity. What drove her so crazy in the first place? What is the story behind her hidden collection of world-renowned paintings? And what can a mere maid like Martha possibly do to bring all the secrets of this mansion to light? 

This compelling middle-grade novel features a spunky and relatable protagonist, backed by a cast of intriguingly quirky characters, fascinating historical details, and an action-packed mystery that will keep young readers in 5th to 8th grades turning the pages all the way to the very end. 

Monday, November 07, 2016


Suspects:  Fowler the Owl, Porcini the Pig, or Hot Dog the Dog? 
Victim:  Miss Rabbit
The Case: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman Illustrated by Deborah Zemke

Our hardworking mice detectives are on the hunt for the thief who stole Miss Rabbit's Carrot Cake.  Doggedly following all the crumbs and interviewing all suspects the two detectives track down the cake thief and it's not who might have suspected. This is a fun beginning reader with lots of puns and word plays.

For 1st - 2nd grade readers.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Dennis is a regular boy in some respects, but has a markedly unconventional way of expressing himself. Why does he speak through movement instead of just talking when he has something to say? It's because Dennis is a mime. It's not easy for the other kids to relate to "Mime Boy," who dresses in a top hat and stripes, wears white face makeup and gloves, and only acts out scenes during show-and-tell and on the playground. Living a silent yet poignantly dramatic life can get a bit lonely sometimes. Will Dennis ever find a friend who understands how he sees the world and speaks his language? 

Be a Friend is sparely written and strikingly illustrated by Salina Yoon, so that, much like Dennis himself, the book is more visual than textual. Yoon articulates Dennis's expressive movements with a red dotted line to make his mime skills really come alive. This fascinatingly offbeat yet compellingly sweet picture book will make an affecting read for preschool through second graders, whether in a group or one-on-one setting. Just be sure to get your jazz hands ready!

Monday, October 31, 2016


A review by Theresa: 

The whole town including Charlie and his friends had gathered together to celebrate the New Year and also to watch what was supposed to be an extra spectacular night viewing of the northern lights. Rodman Philbrick’s THE BIG DARK begins with the town standing out on the baseball field under a sky that is so bright that “shadows could be seen on the snow,” enjoying the intense colors and flashes of the light show. Suddenly there the sky was filled with an enormous burst of light followed by intense darkness. 

All the electric power was knocked out, no cars, no phones, no lights, no TVs or radios—nothing not even batteries or generators. Things get even worse when the area is hit by a major blizzard, an attempted take-over of the town by hate-mongers and arsonists and a medical emergency involving Charlie’s mother.  It’s up to the kids and the town’s lone volunteer policeman to save the day if they can in this very suspenseful disaster-survival story. 

The author includes some follow-up leads for the curious who want to know more about geomagnetic events.

For grades 5-8

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Have you've been looking for the perfect alphabet story to read to a child right before nap or bedtime? Well here it is! Introducing... ABZzz...A Bedtime Alphabet.

As expected, this story starts with the letter A and ends with the letter Z. but in between the pages you'll see more than just the rest of the alphabet.  The book is loaded with questions for the reader and young child to consider.  It's absolutely fun, thought-provoking, and a great way to share some memories before heading off to dreamland.

Isabel Minhos Martins and Yara Kono's delightful story and illustrations make this an ABC favorite, along with Bill Martin Jr. and Lois Ehlert's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  

For PreK- 2nd grade.

Monday, October 24, 2016


There’s nothing worse than having someone spoil the ending to the book you’re reading. I mean, unless you’re the type that’s into that sort of thing. Spoiler alert: this reviewer is.

As it happens, the young hero of Minh Lê’s picture book Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas, most emphatically is not. In fact, there’s nothing he’d like more than to be left in peace to finish reading his books. This proves surprisingly difficult when every animal in the vicinity is clamoring to share very specific thoughts on his reading material.

When a long-awaited, scarlet book arrives in the mail, the exasperated boy is determined to make it to the end on his own. He’ll traverse forests, oceans, and mountains, all the while stalked by bright-eyed, garrulous, book-ruining animals. I won’t ruin the surprise ending, but spoiler alert: it’s a good one.

Ages 6+

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Ah-Choo!  A big brother wants a pet but his little sister is allergic to animals so off they go to find one that won't make her sneeze.  A silly romp through the zoo and the alphabet is what they do until they find an unusual animal from Mrs. Grey's Pet store that has no hair, feathers or fur.  Written by Lana Wayne Koehler Gloria Adams and illustrated by Ken Min.

A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins surprises us all with lion's choices. A fun and unexpected choice for everyone.  

The Sloth Slept On and on and on until he finds himself in an unfamiliar place having slept through everything. Frann Preston-Gannon's story of a "lost" sloth who through many helpful hands makes it back "home", or is it home? 

For ages 4 and up. 


Monday, October 17, 2016


A review by Theresa:

In Elizabeth’ Atkinson’s THE ISLAND OF BEYOND the reader learns immediately how big a disappointment  11-year old Martin is to his father.  So much so that Dad has decided to send Martin off for a month of his summer vacation to visit his, never met before,  great-aunt Lenore who lives on a tiny island in the middle of a remote lake in Maine to do some “boy stuff” and toughen him up.  To say that Martin hates everything about the island and the creepy house would be an understatement. There is no cell reception, no video games and no food he likes. Lacking self- confidence Martin is afraid of everything he encounters, the creaks the house makes, the rustling of the bushes, his great-aunt and most of all the lake. Eventually he meets Solo, a wild child who appears to do as he pleases with no parental supervision. Warned by the aunt’s caregiver to stay away from this boy, Martin admires his new friend’s abilities and is drawn to him even though there are trust issues. Solo does become his guide though and encourages him to try new things which Martin does hesitantly.  

For Martin, this becomes a summer of meeting challenges and self-discovery. Things on the island are not always as they seem, neither is the reason for his being sent to the island. This title is part adventure, a little mystery and a coming of age story all in one. Gary Paulsen’s fans will find much to like here. 

For grades 5-8

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes by Phaidon is presented in the style of the Moosewood Cookbook series, with simple text and illustrated cooking techniques easy enough for the beginning cook to follow.   There are great classic recipes like potato gnocchi, leg of lamb, and stew, just to name a few.  It's a beautiful book with photos of each finished dish so you can see what the dish will or should look like at the end of the cooking process.  It's a slim, large formatted book which will lay flat so that it is easy to read from as you cook, just put plastic over it so the next person can enjoy it stain free.   

For ages 10 and up.