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    Curriculum Connections

    By Sandip Wilson and Carolyn Angus
     | Sep 04, 2017

    Trade books published for readers of all ages offer engaging and insightful—and sometimes surprising—perspectives on topics that have cross-curricular connections.  The imaginative books in this week’s column incite interest and raise questions about important subjects—from space science to species extinction and recycling—making them good choices for reading for pleasure and for knowledge.

    Ages 4–8

    Can an Aardvark Bark? Melissa Stewart. Ill. Steve Jenkins. 2017. Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster.

    Can an Aardvark Bark?In Stewart and Jenkins’ playful exploration of the vocalizations of animals, patterned questions and responses—“Can an aardvark bark?” No, but it can grunt.”—are paired with textured torn and cut paper collage portraits of the animals. Each Q&A double-page spread is followed by a double-spread presenting four other animals that make the same sound. The final page is an invitation for children to identify the seven featured animals (aardvark, seal, wild boar, porcupine, dingo, giraffe, and kangaroo) and to mimic their sounds: grunt, growl, squeal, laugh, bellow, bark, and whine. Back matter includes selected sources and books for further reading.

    —CA

    Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing. Leda Schubert. Ill. Raúl Colón. 2017. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. 

    Pete SeegerThis picture book biography celebrates the life and work of Pete Seeger (19192014), who, through his music and activism “got America singing.” Schubert deftly weaves the titles of a host of original and traditional songs (printed in blue) that Seeger sang with audiences into the spare, expressive text of this tribute to an American hero who “cared about justice, peace, equality, and people everywhere.” Colón’s watercolor and colored pencil illustrations show the joy of the experiences Seeger shared with friends and gatherings of people of all ages. Back matter includes an author’s note, a timeline of significant events in Seeger’s life, sources of direct quotes, a selected bibliography, a list of books for children, and recommended recordings.

    —CA

    This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from Around the World. Matt Lamothe. 2017. Chronicle.  

    This is How We Do It Boys from Italy, Uganda, Iran, Russia, and Peru, and girls from India and Japan share their daily routines, including what they wear to school, how they get to school, the food they eat, their household chores, and their favorite games. Lamothe’s digitally-rendered drawings (based on photographs provided by the children’s families) in individual panels on double-page spreads show, at times, what they have in common and, at other times, how they are different. Back matter includes photographs of the families, a glossary, and an author’s note. A world map on the endpapers shows where the children live.

    —SW

    Ages 9–11

    Bertha Takes a Drive: How the Benz Automobile Changed the World. Jan Adkins. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    Bertha Takes a DriveIt is 1888 and Bertha Benz’s husband, Karl, has invited the first Benz Motorwagen to visit her mother. she and her two sons had to sneak out of their house before dawn. Driving the motorwagen, which was considered a danger on the streets, was illegal in Germany. Driving over rutted and dusty roads caused problems with the car, but unflustered and undaunted, Bertha resourcefully invented solutions, such as using her hat pin to open the fuel line and a rubber garter to wrap around frayed electric wiring. She invented brake pads by having a cobbler put leather strips on the wood brakes so they would hold against the tires. Adkins' illustrations depict the challenging 100-kilometer cross-country road trip. An “Automobile Evolution” timeline, a labeled diagram of the Benz Motorwagen III, and Adkins’ author’s note explaining his research process help readers understand the period, the car, and the driver.

    —SW

    Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond. Martin Jenkins. Ill. Stephen Biesty. 2017. Candlewick.

    Exploring SpaceVoyager 1, the most distant man-made object in outer space, the evolution of the telescope, and possible future habitats on Mars are among the topics of space science depicted in intricate pencil and colored pencil drawings in this survey book on space exploration. This beautifully designed large-format book provides detailed information about exploratory projects such as the Mars Landing and Rover, satellites to support human communities living in outer space, and modes of travel outside of Earth’s gravity. The back matter includes a “Discovering Space” timeline, a glossary, and selected resources.

    —SW

    Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl. John Demos. 2017. Amulet/Abrams.

    Puritan GirlIn the preface to this historical novel, based on his The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America (1994), Demos provides context for the story of Eunice Williams, an 8-year-old Puritan girl who was kidnapped by Mohawks in a raid on her town of Deerfield, in the Massachusetts colony, in the winter of 1704. Having survived the 200-mile trek north into Canada during the bitter winter, Eunice is adopted into a Mohawk family living in a village near the St. Lawrence River. She is given a Mohawk name, A’ongote. Over the years, she accepts Mohawk beliefs and customs, and she chooses to stay with them throughout her life. Demos’ presentation of the story from the perspective of this captive Puritan girl who became a Mohawk makes this an accessible narrative history for young readers. Back matter includes an author’s note, source notes, and a selected bibliography.

    —CA

    This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash. Sarah Wassner Flynn. 2017. National Geographic Kids.

    This Book StinksSleeping bags from recycled water bottles, stylish dresses from discarded CDs and newspapers, waste bins on wheels with sensors to track and catch thrown trash—these are just a few examples of the possible future of trash that this survey book describes. A chapter on “Trashing the Earth” covers topics such as the location of the biggest dumps and landfills around the world, the islands of garbage that float on every ocean of the Earth, and waste in outer space. Alarming photographs and statistics (e.g., “5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating in the world’s seas”) show the magnitude of the global problem of dealing with the trash humans generate from the smallest food scraps to cars and refrigerators. The format of This Book Stinks grabs the reader’s attention. Each chapter includes features such as special reports, infographics, quizzes, jokes, factoids, and full-color, captioned photographs. The book concludes with a wealth of actions readers can take to manage and reuse their trash to help “un-stink” our planet.    

    —SW  

    Ages 12–14

    The Great American Foot Race: Ballyhoo for the Bunion Derby! Andrew Speno. 2017. Calkins Creek/Highlights.

    Great American Foot RaceAt the height of the Roaring Twenties, and in a period of growing interest in recreational sports, C. C. Pyle promoted a transcontinental foot race. The race coincided with the Good Roads Movement advocating the construction of national highways. Pyle planned the 1928 foot race from Los Angeles to Chicago along what would become U.S. Route 66, and then onto New York City with scheduled stops to rest, eat, and sleep. Raising funds along the way and securing provisions and accommodations for the runners were bigger problems than he anticipated. Speno weaves biographical remarks about some of the participants into the chronicle of the dramatic and often harrowing events of the 84-day race. Archival illustrations, photographs, maps, and charts of race results add interest.

    —SW

    The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea. Bryan Barnard. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    The New OceanThis book tells the stories of six sea dwellers: jellyfish, orcas, sea turtles, tuna, corals, and blue-green algae. A description of the life cycle, habitats, and eating patterns of each of six ocean dwellers is followed by a consideration of the sequence of events that has led to the dominance of some species, like the jellyfish and blue-green algae, and the decline of others. Each species is depicted in an oil painting, with a second illustration that shows how changes in the food chain and water temperature affect survival rates. “An Ocean of Plastic” map on the front endpaper shows the circulation of “garbage patches” by ocean currents, and a map on the back endpaper depicts how the absorption of heat and atmospheric carbon dioxide by the oceans is making the water hotter and more acidic and bleaching coral reefs around the world.

    —SW

    Ages 15+

    Soldier Boy. Kelly Hutton. 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux.

    Soldier BoyIn an author’s note at the beginning of the book, Hutton provides information on her interviews with Ricky Richard Anywar, a former “soldier boy,” and research about the Ugandan civil war and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to prepare readers for this biographical novel of a child soldier. In 1989, at age 14, Ricky was abducted by Joseph Kony’s rebel army during a raid in his village. Hutton gives a vivid account of the brutal training and horrors of the combat missions that Ricky endured and survived (which most child soldiers did not) over four years, while he remained determined to escape and return home. Interwoven into the narrative are chapters set in 2006 in which fictional 11-year-old Samuel, who is recuperating from battlefield wounds, distrusts his caregivers and the stranger who promises to help him get home. An afterword by Anywar provides information about the challenges and reality of life faced by former child soldiers and the work of Friends of Orphans, a charity helping them to recover from their past, with hope for a brighter future in Uganda.

    —CA

    Sandip LeeAnne Wilson serves as professor in the School of Education and the English Department of Husson University, Bangor, Maine. Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Fantastical Worlds and Imaginative Possibilities

    Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Aug 29, 2017

    From tales of mythical beasts, to historical fantasies, epic quests, and intergalactic thrillers, the recently published, playful, and inventive books in this week’s column take readers to fantastical worlds and invite the delight of imaginative possibilities.

    Ages 4–8

    The Giant of Jum. Elli Woollard. Ill. Benji Davies. 2017. Henry Holt.

    The Giant of JumThe grumpy Giant of Jum, with his rumbling tummy, thinks Jack, with a side of dish of beans, would be the perfect snack. Setting out in search of Jack, he meets a group of children. “‘Fum!’ he said, and ‘Fo!’ he said, and ‘Fi!’ he said, and ‘Fee! / Children, I feel, make a fabulous meal. / I will gobble you up with my tea!’” His original plans for a “little Jack snack” are forgotten as the children (including Jack) declare him to be a nice giant. After he does three good deeds for them, and they reward him with a giant-sized CAKE! Clever wordplay and brightly colored illustrations make this story in rhyme a good choice for reading aloud.

    —CA

    Time Now to Dream. Timothy Knapman. Ill. Helen Oxenbury. 2017. Candlewick.

    Time Now to DreamAlice and her little brother Jack are playing ball when they decide to explore the weird sounds they hear coming from the forest. Alice wants to explore, but Jack is timid. “What if it’s the Wicked Wolf?” As they venture deep, and then deeper, into the forest, they hear more haunting fragments of a song, and Jack adds more details to his worries about the Wicked Wolf (“big bad claws” and “snap-trap jaws”) while Alice reassures him that, “Everything is going to be all right.” In an unexpected turn of events, it is Alice who wants to flee as Jack discovers the source of the sounds: a mother wolf singing a lullaby to her three cubs. Knapman’s sparse, patterned fairy tale-like text and Oxenbury’s dreamy, softly colored pencil-and-watercolor illustrations make this fantasy adventure a good read-aloud choice.

    —NB

    A True Home (Heartwood Hotel #1). Kallie George. Ill. Stephanie Graegin. 2017. Disney Hyperion.

    Heartwood HotelWhen her home is washed away by heavy rainfall, Mona, an orphaned mouse, finds shelter at the Heartwood Hotel, a grand establishment for woodland animals in Fernwood Forest. Given a bed for the night by Mr. Heartwood, the badger proprietor, in exchange for helping clean up after the evening’s Acorn Festival party, Mona does such a good job that she is asked to stay on to help Tilly, the maid, for the busy fall season. Mona becomes a favorite with both guests and staff, but as preparation for the First Snow Festival signals the start of the winter season, she realizes her time at the Heartwood will soon end. However, Mona, who is brave and clever as well as helpful and kind, saves the hotel from a pack of hungry wolves—and the hotel becomes her “true home.” Mona’s adventures at the Heartwood Hotel continue in The Greatest Gift, the simultaneously published second book in this cozy animal fantasy chapter book series.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Emperor’s Ostrich. Julie Berry. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    The Emperor's OstrichJoin the adventures of milkmaid Begonia and her wandering cow, Alfalfa; Key, a farm boy and self-proclaimed Finder of Lost Things and rescuer of damsels in distress; and a rude and bedraggled stranger wearing silk pajamas (whom they call Lumi when he fails to identify himself) and his companion, an eight-foot tall ostrich. Ancestral spirits mastermind their activities as they wend their way toward Lotus City, following a magic map. Begonia, Key, and the ostrich must escape after being kidnapped by Mr. Poka, Proprietor of Poka’s Carnival of Curiosities, who wants to add the “postrich” to his menagerie. Taken to be the kidnapper of the Emperor, Lumi is captured by soldiers. All end up in the palace dungeon under orders of three nobles scheming to take over the kingdom. Silly details such as the love-struck relationship of Alfalfa and the ostrich make this a madcap, magical romp that does have a happy ending.

    —CA

    The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart. Stephanie Burgis. 2017. Bloomsbury.

    The Dragon With a Chocolate HeartAventurine, a young dragon, rebels against her protective family and sneaks out of their lair only to be cursed by a food mage, who transforms her into a feisty, chocolate-seeking 12-year-old human girl. Not understanding who she is as a human, but with the instincts of a dragon and lured by the scent of chocolate, she worms her way into an apprenticeship at The Chocolate Heart in the city of Drachenburg, where her experience affirms her passion for all things chocolate. When the efforts of her only human friend, Silke, to save The Chocolate Heart are sabotaged by political shenanigans and the town rallies against Aventurine’s dragon family, which has come to rescue her, she knows that she must dig deep into her “inner dragon” for a solution. It turns out that chocolate may, indeed, hold the key for a peace agreement between Drachenburg and the dragons, and that there may be a way for Aventurine to have it all: the life of a dragon, a human child, and a chocolatier!

    —NB

    The Princess and the Page. Christina Farley. 2017. Scholastic.

    The Princess and the PageTwelve-year-old Keira, forbidden by her mother to write anything creative, discovers her grandma’s magical Word Weaver pen after a robbery at her home. Angry at her mother and not knowing what the pen is (but drawn to it like a bee to honey), Keira writes a fairy tale for a writing contest. Her entry wins the prize, a trip to France for herself, her mother, and her best friend, Bella, where they will spend one week in a castle and Keira will be treated like a princess. As a series of odd and dangerous events unfolds, she sleuths the castle to find answers. Realizing that she is a Word Weaver whose fairy tale has come to life and that the princess in her story, as well as her mother, friend, and others, are in peril, Keira knows the only way she can save them is by writing a new ending and, possibly, sacrificing her own life.

    —NB

    Ages 12–14

    Shadow Run (Kaitan Chronicles #1). AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    Shadow RunIn this intergalactic thriller, Prince Nevarian Dracorte, heir to the throne of Luvos, goes undercover on the starship Kaitan Heritage to convince 17-year-old Captain Qole Uvgamut to return with him so scientists can study her special ability to control the powerful Shadow fuel upon which the universe depends. When Qole and her crew discover Nev’s covert mission, they want to pitch him off the ship, but discover they are the target of an even greater threat. Returning in the starship to his home planet, Nev presents Qole to his father (the king) but is unprepared for the court machinations, political greed, and personal betrayal that seek to destroy not only Qole, with whom he shares a growing affection, but also him. Written in alternate chapters from their points of view, this sci-fi adventure leaves Nev and Qole needing to make life-and-death decisions to survive—and readers ready for the sequel, Shadow Call (2017).

    —NB

    The White Road of the Moon. Rachel Neumeier. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    The White Run of the MoonIn this stand-alone epic fantasy, 15-year-old orphan Meridy, an outcast because of her witchy black eyes and dark skin, runs away from her hateful Aunt Tarana, who plans to sell her as a laundry apprentice. She begins to understand her supernatural powers when she encounters a ghost boy, ghost wolfhound, and a mysterious injured stranger. Escaping from brigands, she joins a company of merchants traveling together for safety and makes friends with Jaift, a merchant’s daughter who also has magical gifts. With the help of Jaift—and a few ghostly and human friends she gathers along the way—Meridy discovers her witch’s power to change the future through righting the wrongs of the past as she steps into the realms of dreams. Embracing her gifts and heritage, she fights evil, helps defeat the Witch King, opens the White Road into the God’s realms, and witnesses the restoration of the rightful High King to the resurrected-from-the-sea city of Moran Diorr. Transformed from a helpless orphan into a respected sorceress, Meridy is now empowered to choose her future.

    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion #1). Rosalyn Eves. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    Blood Rose RebellionIn mid-19th-century London, 16-year-old Anna Arden, whose family is part of the Luminate (the magical elite who rule society), has been labeled Barren—unable to perform spells—depleting her of rights and privileges of her class. After she inexplicably breaks  her sister Catherine’s debutante spell (and possibly Catherine’s chances for a successful marriage match), Anna is exiled by her parents to live with her Grandmama in Hungary, where the country is on the cusp of war. There she meets gypsy Romani Gabor and, at her father’s request, connects with the mysterious Lady Berri. As Anna struggles with her uncontrollable chimera, two souls in one body, she must choose which side of the rebellion she is on before either the Austrian Circle (the ruling body of the Luminate) or revolutionaries successfully commandeer her power for breaking, or keeping, the Binding (Luminate rule). Back matter includes an author’s note (describing historical truths and fiction) and a glossary of Hungarian words. The sequel, Lost Crow Conspiracy, in this historical fantasy trilogy is coming soon.

    —NB

    A Face Like Glass. Frances Hardinge. 2017. Amulet/Abrams.

    A Face Like GlassIn the underground city of Caverna, babies are born with blank faces and must be taught to facially express emotions. Only the affluent can buy a full range of Faces from Facesmiths, the creators of nuanced expressions such as Face No. 312, a grave face designed to make the wearer look formidable, reliable, and respectable all at the same time. Twelve-year-old Neverfall, who has been locked away for seven years by Cheesemaster Grandible and believes she must wear a velvet mask to hide her ugly, frightening face, begins to wonder who she is and what life is like outside the cheese tunnels. When Neverfall finds a hidden passage out of the tunnels, she learns that she has “a face like glass,” a face that show all her thoughts and feelings, a face that does not let her lie. Neverfall’s face puts her in danger as she becomes a pawn of the Court and corrupt ruling families of Caverna. The plot of Hardinge’s beautifully crafted, insightful fantasy is as complicated and twisted as the tunnels of Caverna.

    —CA

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    Back to School

    Jennifer W. Shettel
     | Aug 21, 2017

    Shorter days and longer nights, school supplies on store shelves, fall sports practices, and shopping for new fall outfits all signal back to school time for students and teachers across the country. To usher in the start of a new school year, check out these school-themed books.

    Ages 4–8

    Goodnight Lab: A Scientific Parody. Chris Ferrie. 2017. Sourcebooks.

    Goodnight LabKick off the start of the school year’s STEM activities with this picture book that highlights scientific vocabulary in a fun and whimsical manner. In the latest parody of Margaret Wise Brown’s bedtime classic Goodnight Moon, young children will delight in chiming in to say goodnight to all the features of the “great green lab,” while adults who read the book aloud will be chuckling over lines such as “And a pen and coffee / And some rubbish / And a grumpy old professor shouting ‘publish.’” The dominant red, green, yellow, and blue of the digitally-created illustrations mirror the color palette of the original story but feature a young girl’s laboratory instead of a baby bunny’s bedroom.

    How to Get Your Teacher Ready. Jean Reagan. Ill. Lee Wildish. 2017. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

    How to Get Your Teacher ReadyRegan and Wildish return with another book in their how-to series just in time for the start of the school year. This story takes a humorous approach to preparing for the first day of school by inviting kids to think about what they can do to make sure their teacher is ready, like showing her where to find the bathroom and explaining how the lunch line works! From there, the advice branches out to other important days throughout the year such as picture day, field trip day, and the last day of school. Brightly colored cartoon-like illustrations add to the light-hearted nature of this back-to-school story.

    A Letter to My Teacher. Deborah Hopkinson. Ill. Nancy Carpenter. 2017. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

    A Letter to My TeacherIn a letter, an unnamed narrator thanks her second-grade teacher for the wisdom, patience, and kindness that she demonstrated. The narrative and pen-and-ink, digitally colored line drawings beautifully capture the relationship of the spunky, troublesome girl and her wise and caring teacher. At the end of the story, readers learn that the letter is from a new teacher. Reading A Letter to My Teacher will evoke memories of favorite teachers and may help students start the year with grateful hearts in appreciation for those who guide their learning.

    A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices. Sally Derby. Ill. Mika Song. 2017. Charlesbridge.

    A New School YearIn this verse-style picture book, six students—ranging from kindergarten through fifth-grade—share their perspectives on a new school year. The four sections of the book (The Night Before, In the Morning, At School, and After School) students express what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing on the first day of school in free verse poems. Expressive, soft, ink-and-watercolor illustrations accompany the 24 poetic narratives.

    Ages 9–11

     All’s Faire in Middle School. Victoria Jamieson. 2017. Dial/Penguin.

    All's Faire in Middle SchoolAfter being homeschooled through elementary school by her parents who work at a local renaissance faire, 11-year-old Imogene (Impy) has decided to try out public school. It isn’t long before Impy realizes that middle school may be more than she can handle and that her new friends might not be very nice people. This colorful graphic novel is rich with themes of belonging, friendship, family, making tough choices, and finding your own way.

    Lights, Camera, Middle School! (Babymouse: Tales from the Locker #1). Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. 2017. Random House.

    Babymouse2Why blend in when you were born to stand out? Babymouse is bound and determined to embrace this mindset as she heads off to middle school, which to her seems more like a movie than anything else. “It was a monster movie.” Determined to find her place in her school’s social structure, Babymouse joins the film club, and hilarity ensues as the club is charged with writing, casting, and producing a movie to show to the entire school. Fans of Babymouse will enjoy her latest adventure in this continuation of the beloved series in a new format that combines the traditional graphic novel structure with prose text.

    The Loser’s Club. Andrew Clements. 2017. Random House.

    The Losers ClubSixth grader Alec is a voracious reader. His tendency to read during his classes has landed him in hot water, and he has to make a promise to pay more attention. To fulfill his need to read, he comes up with a plan to start a reading club at his after-school care program. Alec names it “The Loser’s Club” in hopes that it will deter additional members. He doesn’t really want to talk to people; he just wants to read! As it turns out, there are other kids who also want to read, and Alec finds himself figuring out how to make time for friends and books. Readers will be interested in pursuing the lengthy appended list of books read by Alec and his friends.

    Ages 12–14

    Braced. Alyson Gerber. 2017. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic.

    BracedSeventh-grade is really looking up for Rachel. She’s earned a starting place on the girls’ soccer team, she loves hanging out with her two best friends, and there’s even the possibility that a boy likes her. But then a diagnosis of scoliosis rocks Rachel’s world. The doctor tells her that she must wear a back brace 23 hours a day, and she can’t imagine how she is ever going to learn to live in this brace and still do the things she loves to do. And to make matters worse, her mom (who also had to wear a brace as a child) doesn’t seem to care how Rachel feels. This thought-provoking book will remind readers what matters.

    Ages 15+

    Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White. John Feinstein. 2017. Farrar Straus Giroux.

    Backfield BoysNinth graders and lifelong friends Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are excited about playing football at an elite private school, where they were both lucky enough to earn scholarships after attending the school’s summer football camp. Tom, who is black, has always played quarterback, while Jason, who is white, is a wide receiver. However, the coaches at their new school ask them to switch positions—Jason is made quarterback and Tom a receiver—and when they try to find out why, they are told not to question the coaches’ decisions. It isn’t long before the boys begin to suspect that the reason has more to do with racial discrimination than talent, and they embark on a top-secret mission, along with two other friends and two intrepid newspaper reporters, to figure out if their suspicions are true.

    Get It Together, Delilah! Erin Gough. 2017. Chronicle.

    Get It TogetherDelilah Green’s last year of high school is not off to a great start. Her mom has left home for a new man and her dad, who is experiencing a personal crisis over the situation, has embarked on a trip to have some alone time. This leaves Delilah at home to manage Flywheel, the family-owned coffee shop, while dealing with school work, helping her friend Charlie through a crisis of his own, avoiding the gaggle of mean girls who seem determined to torment her, and figuring out how to show her latest crush Rosa how she feels about her. Delilah is trying to get it—and keep it—together, but juggling all those balls is harder than Delilah thought it would be. Set in Sydney, Australia, this is a story about family, friendship, identity, and growing up.

    Jennifer W. Shettel is an associate professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate course in literacy for pre-service and practicing teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at Millersville, she spent 16 years as an elementary classroom teacher and reading specialist in the public schools.

    These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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    More Series and Sequels

    By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
     | Aug 14, 2017

    Once readers have been introduced to characters in a picture book or novel, they can enjoy following them to new adventures in the series. This week we review recently published, greatly anticipated sequels, first books in new series in a variety of genres, and the latest books in episodic series. There are also several final books in series, which may lead readers to seek out the earlier books for rereading.

    Ages 4–8

    Barkus. (Barkus #1). Patricia MacLachlan. Ill. Marc Boutavant. 2017. Chronicle.

    BarkusIn five short episodic chapters, a big brown dog named Barkus (a gift from Uncle Everton, who claims Barkus is “the smartest dog in the world”) proves that he is the perfect companion for Nicky. Barkus sneaks out of the house and follows her to school and becomes the class dog, celebrates a noisy birthday party with three dog friends, adopts a stray kitten, and enjoys listening to Nicky tell a bedtime story as he snuggles up with the kitten, Baby, during a backyard campout. Young readers will eagerly await the next book in this colorful, warmly humorous early chapter book series featuring this canine charmer.

    —CA

    Be Quiet! Ryan T. Higgins (Mother Bruce). 2017. Disney Hyperion.

    Be Quiet!Rupert the mouse gets to create and star in a “visually stimulating” wordless book, but his disruptive mouse friends, Nibbs and Thistle, with their imaginative antics and constant chatter (which appears in speech bubbles) are driving him crazy. “I said BE QUIET. This book is wordless!” This not-so-wordless picture book with cartoon-like illustrations—created with textured clayboard, graphite, ink, and Photoshop—includes a wealth of wordplay, jokes, and clever usage of literary elements such as onomatopoeia. Young children will also enjoy Mother Bruce (2015) and Hotel Bruce (2016) while waiting for the fourth book in the series, Bruce’s Big Move (expected to release on September 26, 2017).

    —NB

    Ellie in Concert. Mike Wu. 2017. Disney Hyperion.

    Ellie in ConcertIn this sequel to Ellie (2015), Ellie the elephant lulls Lucy the giraffe to sleep amidst the sounds of the zoo at night, including the hippo’s SNORTs, the monkey’s OOOHs, and the rhino’s GRUMPs, by organizing an orchestra of all the noisy animals, who perform Betty Bluebird’s lullaby. Soft illustrations, created with watercolor, gouache, pencil, and digital media, complement the gentle story of friends working together to solve a problem. Check out the author's website (theartofmikewu.com) to listen to “Betty’s Theme” and “Ellie in Concert Suite,” composed by Andrew Jimenez.

    —NB

    The Good for Nothing Button (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!). Charise Mericle Harper. 2017. Hyperion/Disney.

    The Good for Nothing ButtonWhen Blue Bird and Red Bird press the red button that Yellow Bird insists is “a good for nothing button,” they report their reactions. For example, Blue Bird says, “The button is SO easy to press. It surprised me!” and Red Bird points out, “A surprise is NOT nothing.” When Yellow Bird repeatedly presses the button to show that it cannot make him calm, mad, happy, surprised, scared, icky, or anything else, Red Bird and Blue Bird announce that they know what the button does. “The button makes you funny!” And so begins a button-pressing game in which they all are funny together. Reading this cartoon-style story, which is introduced by Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie, will be loads of fun for beginning readers.

    —CA

    Ages 9–11

    The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1). Adrienne Kress. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    The ExplorersFollowing the intriguing introductory statement “This story begins . . . with a pig wearing a teeny hat,” 12-year-old Sebastian, a methodical genius with a photographic memory, and 11-year-old Evie, a lonely orphan, converge on the members-only Explorers Society for different reasons, but soon combine resources to search for Evie’s missing grandfather, who is a member of the mysterious Fillipendulous Society. Unfolding from the viewpoints of both children, this comedic adventure is filled with non-stop twists and turns. The clever mystery, with its detailed black-and-white penned illustrations, occasional footnotes, and humorous asides from the author, leaves entertained readers ready for the sequel.

    —NB

    Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls (Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #1). Beth McMullen. 2017. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

    Mrs. Smith's Spy SchoolTwelve-year-old Abigail Hunter’s amateur sleuthing leads to the discovery that the boarding school her mother has enrolled her in is also a recruiting ground for the Center, a hush-hush spy organization. She is astounded to learn that her mother is one of its top agents and has disappeared while in pursuit of a dangerous criminal, the Ghost, “who is wanted all over the world by everybody.” After a crash course in Spy Training 101, Abigail becomes “bait” in the Center’s plan to locate her mother. When the plan goes awry, Abigail remains determined to find her mother. Nonstop action, accompanied by lots of humor, makes this book a page-turner. Fans of spy stories will be looking forward to Abigail’s next mission.

    —CA

    The Sands of Shark Island (School Ship Tobermory #2). Alexander McCall Smith. 2017. Delacorte/Random House.

    The Sands of Shark IslandThe 12-year-old McTavish twins, Fee and Ben, return to the Scotland-based boarding school/schooner Tobermory excited for the new term, where they will learn not only seafaring basics such as knot-tying, nautical chart reading, and navigation skills but also “land subjects,” including math, science, and history. This term the Tobermory’s destination is the Caribbean Sea so there will also be opportunities for other activities such as scuba diving and kitesurfing. When they dock at Green Bay Island, the Tobermory takes on a new student, Mike, an islander who has had to interrupt his education to support his family. Following clues from a chart in an old sea chest leads to high adventure and a dangerous encounter with a present-day pirate on Shark Island and the solution of the mystery of the disappearance of Mike’s father and other islanders.

    —CA

    Ages 12–14

    The Great Wave of Tamarind (The Book of Tamarind #3). Nadia Aguiar. 2017. Feiwel and Friends.

    The Great Wave of TamarindIt has been seven years since Penny Nelson visited Tamarind with her older siblings, Simon and Maya. Now at the age of 12, she must return to the magical island on her own. Beloved Granny Pearl has identified signs of a potentially devastating event that will occur in Tamarind in the immediate future that only Penny can prevent. Penny bravely journeys out into the ocean and mysteriously crosses the Blue Line that will allow her to reach Tamarind. With the help of two young islanders, she competes in three dangerous challenges to select the next Bloom Catcher, who is to retrieve the magical Bloom from a coming Great Wave that will save Tamarind from destruction by a devilish mandrill. Aguiar’s spectacular world-building in this beautifully crafted quest/survival story set on the lost island of Tamarind brings the trilogy to a satisfying conclusion.

    —CA

    Life, Loss, and Lemonade (Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair #8). Laurie Friedman. 2017. Darby Creek/Lerner.

    Life, Loss, and LemonadeSometimes life is unfair. The pottery store in which Alice planned to celebrate her 15th birthday burns down, her grandmother is readmitted to the hospital for a collapsed lung following her cancer treatment, and her best friend, Sophie, is moving. In addition, Alice’s almost-boyfriend, Leo, announces he is leaving for Costa Rica and won’t be around this summer. She also carries the burden of secrets—why Brynn dropped her as a friend; that Sophie invited her boyfriend, Billy, to visit her in New York but didn’t mention it to Alice; and that Billy isn’t sure about going to visit Sophie—all while dealing with the impending loss of her grandmother. April must dig deep to find strength and solutions in this final installment of the series. Life, Loss, and Lemonade is a satisfying stand-alone novel, which may lead readers to earlier books in the series.

    —NB

    Ages 15+

    Blacksouls (Blackhearts #2). Nicole Castroman. 2017. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

    BlacksoulsAs this reimagined historical sequel to Blackhearts (2016) opens, after biracial Anne sails across the Atlantic Ocean on the Providence to Nassau, a Caribbean island rife with political intrigue, treachery, and piracy, to reunite with her love, Edward “Teach” Drummond (the future pirate known as Blackbeard). Once in Nassau, Anne is whipped and jailed when she warns the governor (who doesn’t believe her) that his wife is poisoning him. On his voyage to Nassau as first mate on the Deliverance, a Drummond merchant ship, Teach confronts the incompetent and cruel captain to save the crew from fiery deaths at the hands of enemy Spanish ships. Upon landing, he is threatened with the accusation of mutiny, a crime punishable by death. Blackmailed by Nassau’s Governor Webb into carrying out a dangerous mission in exchange for his own life and those of his crew— and with rescued, injured Anne smuggled aboard from a prison cell into his new ship’s quarters—Teach must decide who to trust in this swashbuckling revenge tale of adventure, betrayal, and deceit.

    —NB

    Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2). Cassandra Clare. 2017. Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster.

    Lord of ShadowsIn this sequel to Lady Midnight (2016), Los Angeles Institute Shadowhunters regroup after warlock Malcomb Fade’s death opens the portal for demons to reenter their realm. Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorne continue to fight their love curse, while Mark Blackthorne (home after his captivity in the faerie Hunt) struggles to find his place among his Shadowhunter half-siblings. The Seelie faerie Queen coerces Emma, Julian, Mark, and Cristina (a visiting Shadowhunter) to leave the L.A. Institute to find the Black Volume of the Dead, a spellbook she can use against the Unseelie King, the Lord of the Shadows (not knowing that he will stop at nothing to get his hands on it) in exchange for ending the divisive Cold Peace Treaty between Shadowhunters and Seelie Court faeries. Will the quest of the young Shadowhunters be successful and peace be restored, or will it be too late to undo the horrifying events that have been set in motion?

    —NB

    Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English from Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

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    Human–Animal Connections

    Lesley Colabucci and Leigh Kaliss
     | Aug 07, 2017

    From classics like Charlotte’s Web to contemporary favorites like Because of Winn-Dixie, some of the best pieces of literature for children and young adults entwine the lives of humans and animals. The recently published books in this week’s column feature animals as compelling characters and companions to humans.

    Ages 4–8

    Princess Cora and the Crocodile. Laura Amy Schlitz. Ill. Brian Floca. 2017. Candlewick.

    Princess Cora When a princess struggles to find her voice and exert her independence, the most unexpected of characters comes to her rescue. In this slapstick, topsy-turvy fairy tale, an overworked (and over-bathed) princess wants a pet to break up the daily monotony of life as the queen-in-training. When her mother, father, and nanny all say no to a dog, she pens a letter to her godmother. A crocodile unexpectedly arrives and hijinks ensue as he takes her place for the day. Cora discovers what she’s been missing as well as the strength to stand up for what she wants. Young readers will laugh at the crocodile’s actions (which, in true crocodile fashion, involve some biting) and the happily-ever-after ending for both the princess and the cream puff-loving crocodile—and, perhaps, also learn something about the value of speaking their mind.

    —LK

    Shawn Loves Sharks. Curtis Manley. Ill. Tracy Subisak. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    Shawn Loves SharksShawn has a shark lamp, a shark alarm clock, a shark snow globe, and even a shark hoodie. When his teacher announces that each student will be drawing the name of a predator to research for a class project, Shawn is desperate to pick the great white shark. Unfortunately, his classmate Stacy picks the great white shark and Shawn gets the leopard seal. Shawn is devastated and tries to convince Stacy to switch with him. The two go back and forth arguing about their predators, and Shawn soon discovers that he might love seals too. The story is told through traditional narrative as well as speech bubbles and text embedded in the illustrations. Readers will enjoy the dynamics between Shawn and Stacy and the playful illustrations, including the various costumes Shawn’s cat wears throughout the book.

    —LC

    If Sharks Disappeared. Lily Williams. 2017. Roaring Brook.

    If Sharks DisappearedIn this informational book, a young girl helps tell the story of what would happen to the ocean’s ecosystem if sharks disappeared. The book functions well as both picture book and a nonfiction book, due to its interactive tone and cartoon-style illustrations. A vertical gatefold with the narrator fishing at the top dramatically captures the depth of the ocean as blue water turns darker. The end matter includes a glossary, a note on the endangered status of sharks, a “How You Can Help Save Sharks” list, an author’s note which encourages readers to do more research, a bibliography, and Internet resources.  

    —LC

    Ages 9–11

    CatStronauts: Mission Moon (CatStronauts #1). Drew Brockington. 2017. Little, Brown.

    CatStronautsThe world is facing an energy crisis like no one, not even the World’s Best Scientist, has ever seen. The problem approaches level cat-astrophe when the feline President acknowledges the situation. No power means more time for catnaps, but things get hairy when cats all over the world have to stop reading because of the darkness! With just sixty days of full power left, the CatStronauts are summoned to build a power plant on the moon. And that just scratches the surface. Major Meowser, Chief Science Officer Pom Pom, Technical Specialist Blanket, and Pilot Waffles face challenges galore as they try to save the world. Brockington’s lively and punny text and cartoon illustrations explore topics like teamwork, self-confidence, and leadership as well as environmental issues.

    —LK

    Otherwise Known as Possum. Maria D. Laso. 2017. Scholastic.

    Otherwise Known as PossumSet in the south in the 1930s, this book tells the story of Possum and her dog, Trav. Possum’s mother has passed away and her father decides to send her to school, despite her mother’s wish that “In a school you learn everything between four walls. I want you to learn the world.” Possum loves to read but resists school, worries that her father is dating the teacher, and finds herself in a battle with the teacher’s pet, whom her best friend Tully may have a crush on. Otherwise Known as Possum is beautifully written, with language that reflects the time and place as well as Possum’s creative thinking. Possum’s love of nature, rebellious attitude, and affection for her family and community make her a likeable character. Although her mom called her LizBetty, Possum fits her much better as she defies gender stereotypes, relies on camaraderie with Trav, and connects with her mom under the peach tree.

    —LC

    A Boy Called Bat. Elana K. Arnold. Ill. Charles Santoso. 2017. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.

    A Boy Called BatBixby Alexander Tam’s nickname, Bat, suits him just fine. Bat—a third grader on the autism spectrum—loves animals of all sorts, so when his veterinarian mom brings home a skunk kit, he cares for it and wants to keep it as a pet. There are a lot of reasons why a baby skunk is not a great pet, but in Bat’s case there are additional complications, including the fact that he spends weekends with his father. Bat’s sister Janie is not as excited about the skunk, whom she has named Thor. Bat is determined to be Thor’s caretaker for as long as he can, but he must learn about more than just skunks to prove to his mom that he’s up for the challenge. His desire to take care of Thor helps him to make connections with other people and engage in interactions he would usually avoid. Bat’s interior dialogue and the portrayal of his supportive family make for a realistic story, and the short chapters and black-and-white illustrations add to the overall appeal of this book.

    —LC

    Ages 12–14

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World. Shannon Hale & Dean Hale. Ill. Vitale Mangiatordi. 2017. Marvel.

    The Unbeatable Squirrel GirlFourteen-year-old Doreen Green is adjusting to her new school and community after moving from California to New Jersey. She’s anxious to find a new best friend but is struggling to fit in—maybe because of her secret squirrel tail and other squirrel-like traits. Then Doreen makes two new friends: classmate Ana Sofia and Tippy-Toe, her first squirrel friend in her new community. The book alternates with chapters written from Doreen’s and Tippy-Toe’s voices and includes fun footnotes as well as electronic forms of communication. Any superhero story requires an evil villain; in this story readers meet the Micro-Manager, who is out to trap Doreen and destroy the neighborhood. Can Doreen defeat the Micro-Manager? Will her parents stop her from discovering her full superpowers? Is she finally old enough to face the world as Squirrel Girl?

    —LC

    Storm Horse. Nick Garlick. 2017. Chicken House/Scholastic.

    Storm HorseStorm Horse follows the exploits of Flip, an orphaned adolescent boy who’s uprooted to live with his aunt and uncle on their farm on a remote island off the coast of Amsterdam. Flip is lonely until he rescues Storm, a feisty horse who nearly drowns after a boating accident. Finding companionship with his equine friend (also an outsider), Flip navigates the unfamiliar island and family and meets a fellow lost soul in Ghost Girl—a silent, constant presence who is working through her own grief. Garlick’s descriptions of setting and action make this coming-of-age-story a good choice for middle-grade readers.

    —LK

    Ages 15+

    Frogkisser! Garth Nix. 2017. Scholastic.

    Frogkisser!Humorous, clever, wild, and inventive, Garth Nix’s fantasy centers on Princess Anya and her quest to transform a frog prince back to his human form. On the run from her evil stepfather, who wants her dead so that he has a clear line to the throne, Anya encounters various friends, enemies, and perils. With her faithful companion, Ardent (a talking dog), Anya attracts a squad of misfits as she seeks the magic ingredients that will enable her to rescue the prince. Along the way, she learns about her privileged life and the many troubles outside the castle walls. A fun, magical journey that remains lighthearted even as Anya faces grave dangers, including marauding robbers and duplicitous witches, this novel is a welcomed addition to fun-filled and thought-provoking fantasy from a talented author.

    —LK

    Dreaming the Bear. Mimi Thebo. 2017. Wendy Lamb/Random House.

    Dreaming the BearDarcy and her family have moved from England to Yellowstone National Park for her father’s research. Darcy is not adjusting well to the climate and new environment (no Wi-Fi and no nearby shopping). After a bad case of pneumonia, she remains sickly and can’t attend school. Her physical and mental health may be worse than anyone suspects. When Darcy finds and cares for a wounded mother bear. Unfortunately, this relationship results in the bear becoming food-dependent and thus a danger to everyone. Darcy’s brother, Jem, and his best friend, Tony, are the first to recognize the mistake Darcy has made. They must figure out how and when to tell the authorities and if they can trust Darcy’s parents with the truth. As Darcy learns more about bears and about how both humans and bears survive in harsh winter conditions, readers may become as attached to the bear as they are to Darcy.

    —LC

    Lesley Colabucci is an associate professor of early, middle, and exceptional education at Millersville University, Millersville, PA. She teaches classes in children’s literature at the graduate and undergraduate level. Leigh Kaliss is the volunteer and outreach Coordinator at Lancaster Public Library in Lancaster, PA.

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