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Gabe and Goon by Iza Trapani. Picture book, 32 pages. No Lexile measure.
Gabe is a boy who loves monsters but hasn’t met one yet. Goon is a monster whose biggest fear is those scary little beings called children, whom he finds odd and kooky. The two of them finally meet when Gabe finds Goon in his closet. Goon can’t do anything to scare Gabe away. Gabe is eventually scared of something that makes him hide in the closet. Could the two of them be more alike than they realized? Can a monster-loving kid and a kid-fearing monster ever become friends? You will have to read the book to find out.
Gabe and Goon can be found in the picture books section of our children’s area. I found myself really enjoying this book and laughing at the things Goon does to try and scare Gabe. I highly recommend this book for elementary readers in grades K–4. Parents will also enjoy reading this book with their children.
Online Privacy by Peggy J. Parks. Nonfiction book, 80 pages. No Lexile measure.
As much as most people value their privacy, the amount of information they share freely on social media is amazing. While this sharing may help create communities, security experts say it also destroys privacy. This book describes how to stay safe online, including how to guard private information on social media, the consequences of “oversharing,” how user data is collected and used (often without people knowing it), and efforts to protect online privacy through laws.
This book can be found in the Young Adult (YA) section of our library. However, I highly recommend this book for any students who have social media accounts and/or play video games online. It is very important to protect yourself and educate yourself on how to stay safe online.
Super Happy Party Bears by Marcie Colleen. Chapter book, 144 pages. 720 Lexile measure.
To the Super Happy Party Bears, every thing is a good thing. Their entire attitude can be summed up in one word: YAY! They love a good party. Not so for the rest of the animals living in the Grumpy Woods. They find the Super Happy Party Bears very annoying. Things get complicated when a family of beavers moves into the forest and cuts off the river by building a lodge. The animals who live in the Grumpy Woods want the beavers to leave while the Super Happy Party Bears throw a party to welcome them. Can the Super Happy Party Bears and the grumpy woodland creatures join forces to deal with the unwanted beavers who are ruining their river?
This is the first book in a fun chapter book series. The books are filled with full color illustrations and animals. I found myself really enjoying this book, laughing at the things the bears are doing, and quoting some of the things they say. I highly recommend this book for elementary readers in grades K – 4. There is a second book, Knock Knock on Wood, that is available as well and there are more books to come!
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card. Chapter book, 672 pages. 920 Lexile measure.
Pathfinder is about a boy named Rigg who can see the paths left behind by every living creature, an ability that allows him to see into the past. After suffering a serious accident, Rigg’s father tells him he needs to find his mother and sister, who are alive and living in the capital city. As he journeys to the capital, Rigg and his friends start to realize that the world they thought they knew is not what it seems as they uncover secrets about both Rigg’s life and the history of the world.
This is the first book in the Pathfinder series. This book is science fiction but some have also labeled it as fantasy. Anyone who has read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card will also enjoy this book. I highly recommend this book for students in 7th grade and up. There are two other books in this series, Ruins and Visitors, that are available as well.
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies. Picture book, 32 pages. No Lexile given.
“I want pants,” says a little panda to his father. “You are a panda,” answers the father. “Pandas do NOT wear pants.” And so begins a hilarious battle of wills when a young panda tries to convince his father why pants make perfect sense. The young panda gives his father lots of reasons why pants would make sense, but has trouble convincing his father. But with a scary snow leopard lurking in the background, will the longed-for pants end up having an even greater role to play?
This book has great illustrations that make it easy to follow what is happening in the story. I found myself really hoping the young panda would convince his father to let him wear pants. I highly recommend this book for elementary school readers.
The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech. Chapter book, 160 pages. 680 Lexile Level.
What would you do if you woke up one morning and found a strange young boy sleeping on your porch? That is the scenario John and Marta face. A boy, about 6 or 7, is left on Marta and John’s porch with a note telling them that the boy’s name is Jacob, and “we” will be back for him. The boy doesn’t speak, making it difficult for them to get any answers from him about his age, where he came from, etc. Marta and John think the parents might be back in a day or two. After that time, they start thinking maybe they should tell someone, but they don’t. Not sure what to do, they decide to take Jacob in, clean him up, feed him and keep in around for a few days, just until his folks show up to take him back. Eventually, the boy becomes part of their lives. That happy time unfortunately must end when, as the note implied, someone comes back for him.
This is an extremely quick read, partly because it is short, and partly because it is amazing. So wonderfully written, I was quickly pulled into their lives within very few words. I have to say, I cried at the end, something I never do. Happy tears? Sad tears? You have to read to find out. I highly recommend this book for readers from middle school through high school.
Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain. 270 pp. No Lexile given.
Have you ever been classed as shy, do you seem to be overlooked by people who only notice the loud ones in a group, or do you find most people’s conversations to be a lot of noise to you? If any of this rings true for you, it is possible that you are an introvert, someone who processes the world internally rather than externally. Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking was the start of a quiet revolution. Now she has written a book for teens and pre-teens to help them learn to deal with a world that has difficulty recognizing the talents and strengths of introverts.
This is a great book for teaching teens how to communicate with both introverts and extroverts; I highly recommend this book for all ages, middle school and above.
Moo by Sharon Creech. 278 pp. No Lexile given.
Sharon Creech has written a heartwarming story about dealing with life’s changes and the growth that can occur along the way. Reena and her family move from the big city hustle and bustle to rural Maine. While the parents try to unpack and find new jobs, Reena and her brother Luke end up working part-time on their neighbor’s small farm taking care of the animals which include a young heifer named Zora. Zora is just as hard to understand as their elderly neighbor, but the children keep working at it and learn that sometimes the best relationships occur when you try your hardest to accept people (and cows) as they are.
Sharon Creech’s book is a quick read; the writing style in this book is more akin to free verse at times. This allows even the most reluctant readers to get easily drawn into the story without getting bogged down by excessive details.
This is a good story for all readers, whether reluctant or enthusiastic.
Middle school level and above.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. 320 pp. No Lexile given.
There are no spoilers in this review!
For all those die-hard Harry Potter fans, here is your fix for all things magical. Based on an idea by J.K. Rowling and expanded into a play script for a London production this summer, this work follows Harry and his family taking up where the last book left them -- in the station awaiting the Hogwarts train. Many of your favorite characters return in this play; there are also several new characters and some that were only touched upon in the previous Potter stories. Since this is a play script and not a book, here are some tips on how to read it. Scripts for plays or movies read like a series of short chapters; you will find less in-depth description of what the characters are thinking and more of what is happening on the stage around the actors.
There is plenty of adventure, magic and drama to satisfy the most avid Potter fans, keeping them interested until the conclusion of the play. I recommend this book for all ages of Harry Potter fans.
Black Widow: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmondson. Unpaged. No Lexile given.
If you follow Marvel comics, you must know about the Black Widow. Once a Russian operative, she now works for S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to make restitution for her past sins. In this issue of the graphic novel, as Black Widow continues her work for S.H.I.E.L.D the body count rises. There is plenty of action to satisfy ardent fans with lots of back story to fill in the Black Widow’s nebulous past.
This book is great for all the Marvel comic aficionados.
How to Like Yourself: A Teen’s Guide to Quieting Your Inner Critic and Building Lasting Self-Esteem by Cheryl M. Bradshaw. 195 pp. No Lexile given.
Summer is a great time to work on all those things you don’t have time for during the school year. With the help of this book you can start to change how you perceive yourself and even learn to like who you see in the mirror.
Self-esteem can take a beating from others’ harsh words and actions, but sometimes the worst abuse can originate from within. How does one go about quelling that little voice that seems to dwell on negative thoughts and doesn’t allow for any good things in your life? Cheryl Bradshaw is a professional counselor with plenty of experience assisting teens in learning to appreciate themselves and accepting who they are. This book will give the reader many techniques and tips to make life a whole lot easier.
For middle grade readers on up.
Eleven and Holding by Mary Penney. 246 pp. No Lexile given.
Change can be difficult, especially when it seems to turn your whole life upside down. Macy’s father is away on special army assignment, her beloved grandmother is dead and her best friend, Twee, will be going to a different school than she will in the fall. Determined not to celebrate her upcoming birthday until her father returns home, Macy decides to pretend to help an elderly lady search for her lost dog while actually looking for her father. Before the end of the story, Macy will discover that not all change is bad and that sometimes it can actually enrich your life in unimagined ways.
This story captures all the emotions pre-teens experience while making the transition from childhood to their teen years. Readers will enjoy Macy and her quest to find answers to some of life’s harder questions.
I highly recommend this book to kids but also to their parents to remind them of what it was like to face so many changes at a young age.
For everyone; it doesn’t matter what age you are.
Smooth Sea and a Fighting Chance: The Story of the Sinking of the Titanic by Steven Otfinoski. 112 pp. 880 Lexile.
The Titanic disaster occurred over 104 years ago, but the story continues to haunt people to this day. This book follows several of the passengers and crew members who were aboard the liner on that fateful cruise. Some of the stories relate acts of heroism and self-sacrifice while other stories show the darker side of humanity.
Like many people, I am fascinated by the tragedy of the Titanic. I liked this book because it delves into the stories and puts a human face on each of the people that were written about. The author takes the time to follow up on the physical and emotional ramifications of the disaster on the lives of the survivors and rescuers. It will be a long time before I ever forget what I have read in this book.
For history buffs of all ages.
A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages: How to Understand Yourself and Improve All Your Relationships by Gary Chapman. 126 pp. No Lexile given.
Do you seem always to be bouncing from one relationship to the next, or do you feel lost when trying to read other people’s emotional signals? How would you like stronger friendships, fewer problems with your parents, closer relationships with your siblings, and less drama in your life? If that sounds good then this is the book for you.
Dr. Chapman breaks down the five different ways people express and receive love in their lives; once you are aware of these five ways, relationships will seem less confusing or frustrating. He maintains that it is only through learning these love languages that we can have fulfilling relationships with family and friends both now and in the future.
Even though the title states the book is for teens, this book presents useful skills that everyone needs no matter what their age. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever looked for a simpler way to communicate their emotional needs. For high school readers on up.
Slacker by Gordon Korman. 230pp. 710 L.
After the kitchen catches fire while slacker Cameron Boxer is playing video games, Cam is forced by his parents to join a school sponsored organization or face losing his gaming privileges. With the help of two friends, Cam invents a fictitious school service group in the hopes of appeasing his folks. Unfortunately, the new group starts to rapidly accumulate members, forcing Cam to spend time away from his beloved video games. The group begins to take on a life of its own when unlikely friendships and animosities develop between students while Cam tries to shut things down before his gaming skills dry up.
Korman has written a fast and funny story that will delight any reader who enjoys wacky plots with believable characters. Cam’s friends and classmates will ring true to anyone who has been to school. The story progresses rapidly, carrying the reader along at a pace that makes the book hard to put down.
I recommend this book to all readers in middle school who enjoy humorous stories that sound like they could be real.
The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott. 371 pp. No Lexile given.
Cloudy and Kyle are just barely coping with the loss of Ashlyn, Cloudy’s best friend since childhood and Kyle’s girlfriend. Instead of relying on each other for support, they barely speak to each other because of something that happened the previous year. When they discover their friend’s organs were donated to save lives, the two decide to go on a road trip to try to deal with their loss and maybe find the emotional release and closure they need.
The authors have created a story that follows the journey we take when dealing with grief and unspeakable loss. The feelings the main characters experience will resonate with everyone who has ever had to deal with life’s emotional swings. I truly cared about these characters and hoped for a positive resolution to their story.
A great read for high school readers on up.
Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe. 40pp. 750 L.
Some of the most commonplace expressions you hear had their origins in the plays of William Shakespeare. Household words that you and your friends say every day prove that Shakespeare had the ability to create words that stand the test of time and are not useless. You would have to be a cold-blooded or ill-tempered person not to be in amazement at how one person could so affect our language. For even more excitement, hurry on over to the Young Adult non-fiction section to read the Shakespeare Insult Generator by Barry Kraft; once there, you may laugh yourself into stitches or learn some new words to impress your friends.
This book is fun and interesting reading for those who love words and wordsmiths; read it to your heart’s content. For middle school readers on up. (P.S.: Can you figure out how many of Shakespeare’s words and phrases I used in this book review?)
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. 369 pp. 630 L.
Dillard lives in a small town down South with his father, a Pentecostal minister and snake handler, and his long suffering mother. At school, he is tormented by bullies, and only finds relief in his music. Dill’s future looks to be the same as his past, dripping with poison from the hatred and anger of those around him. But with the support of two other outcasts, Dill begins to see a chance to change the direction of his life and hope for something better.
This is Zentner’s first novel; he has written a powerful story about being true to one’s self and to the dreams that we all have. Whether you believe your place is where you grew up or you can’t wait to shake the dust of your hometown off your feet, this story has something to say to everyone.
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Created September 30, 2003
Updated January 31, 2017