Saturday, August 19, 2017

Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom

By Suzi Eszterhas
Owlkids Books, 2017.  Informational.

Suzi Eszterhas is a wildlife photographer that has spent an extensive amount of time on the African savanna with some pretty amazing animals.  When a huge grassfire separates a two-week-old serval kitten from his mother, park rangers ask Eszterhas to foster the kitten and teach him how to survive on his own.  She names him Moto (Swahili for "fire") and spends the next year preparing the kitten to return to the wild.  Eszterhas documents the experience with beautiful photographs and accessible, yet engaging, text.  There may be lots of oohing and aahing over the cuddly-looking kitten, but rest assured that this book is filled with substantial animal rescue information.  Perfect for the animal lover at your house!  A Junior Library Guild selection.

Look for other great titles in Eszterhas' Wildlife Rescue series, including Orangutan Orphanage, Sea Otter Rescue, and Koala Hospital.

The Secret Keepers

The Secret Keepers
By Trenton Lee Stewart
Little, Brown, and Company, 2016. Fiction, 501 pages.

Reuben is a 12-year-old boy who finds a mysterious object that resembles a clock, but doesn't work exactly like a clock. There is no minute-hand and it won't stay wound. He works with it and finds out this "clock" possesses special powers for the person holding it. He wants to know more about it and on the box it came in, there is an address. He finds the lighthouse the address leads to. The people for several generations have kept secrets. These secrets lead to the discovery of a second mysterious powerful clock that is currently in the hands of a evil man known as "The Smoke". Reuben and his new friends find themselves needing to retrieve the clock to save society from The Smoke's evil reign.

The story was intense and kept me turning pages to discover what would happen next! Stewart, also the author of The Mysterious Benedict Society again uses children as the heroes to save society. I love his characters, I get to know them so well I am genuinely concerned for their welfare and share in the excitement of their adventures.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately, the milk
by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Skottie Young
Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2013.

Over that past year I've become something of a super fan of Neil Gaiman's juvenile fiction. Not only is his writing high quality, his audio narrations are great too. At 101 pages, Fortunately, the milk is fun and fast-paced for young readers. I listened to this one, so I missed reading along with fun illustrations, but the 60 minute audiobook convinced me that this is a perfect read-aloud. Parents will have a good time giving voice to the harried father who must give an excuse to his children as to why it took him so long to get back from the store with the milk. Everything from time-traveling dinosaurs to aliens makes this story hysterical and intriguing.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monster & Son

Monster & Son
By David Larochelle
Illustrated by Joey Chou
Chronicle Books, 2016. Picture Book.

If you have ever wanted an answer to the age-old question - "do monsters love their children too?" - look no further than this picture book. The colorful illustrations show a fun-filled day enjoyed by various monsters and their children (Frankenstein, King Kong, Bigfoot, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, etc.) doing the sorts of activities that monsters enjoy (destruction, mayhem, alien abductions, etc.) The sweet text of this book reads like a bedtime story as the parent monster recounts all the fun activities of the day, but when the activities of the monsters are anything but sweet, the book ends up being silly, funny, and fun.

Joey Chou's illustrations are on-point - at once adorable and mischevious - and set the tone for this fun book about love between a parent and their child.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Great Treehouse War

The Great Treehouse War
by Lisa Graff
Philomel Books, 2017, Fiction. 272 p.
Winnie's parents get a divorce and then compete for Winnie's attention and approval.  Each parent tries to outdo the other by celebrating obscure holidays.  Winnie is so busy celebrating national "eraser" day or "hug your cat" day that she can't do her homework and is at risk of failing fifth grade.  Her parents allow her to spend one night a week in a treehouse that stands between their two properties. Winnie finally decides to hide out in the treehouse until her parents agree to come together and listen to her demands for a more sensible lifestyle.  Soon she is joined by her friends who have their own issues with parents.

This is a funny story about a spunky and clever girl with difficult family problems. The story is silly--the writing style is similar to Sachar's Wayside School series--but it has a serious side as well. Although most kids can't run away and live in a treehouse until their parents see reason, they can learn from Winnie's example of watching and thinking carefully about the people around her to find solutions to her problems.(272 p.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Forever, or a Long, Long Time

Forever, or a Long, Long Time
By Caela Carter
HarperCollins, 2017. Juvenile fiction. 320p.

Flora and Julian have lived in so many foster homes that they can’t remember where they came from. They don’t believe they were born like other children and come up with theories about what might have created them. Even now that they have been adopted by a loving couple, they struggle to put their trauma behind them and really trust in forever. So they set out with their new mother on a journey to discover their past.

This is an honest, heart-wrenching, compassionate book about the foster care system, trauma, hope, and family. The author’s excellent understanding of psychological and emotional processes and setbacks really add depth and truth to this story. Readers will yearn for Flora to let self-knowledge, love, and trust to sink into her heart and will rejoice at each small triumph.

Monday, August 14, 2017


By Antoinette Portis
A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, 2017. Picture Book

A young girl tells about her favorite things—which all happen to be things that are part of the “now” moment. “This is my favorite hole (this one) because it’s the one I am digging.” The things are simple—from a favorite “gulp” of a drink of juice to a favorite “worm” that she is holding. All of the favorites happen to be associated with that exact moment. The illustrations are full of bold, black outlines and bright colors interspersed with a bit of texture. The simplicity of the text paired with the generous amounts of white-space almost invite readers to think of what their “favorites” in the “now” time would be. Simply beautiful. Another well-done picture book by Antoinette Portis! Seriously. You should all go put a copy on hold at the library. This will be your favorite book to read right “now” to any and all little ones.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Chicken Doesn't Skate

The Chicken Doesn't Skate
By Gordon Korman
Scholastic Press, 1996. Fiction. 197 p.
Milo decides to do his sixth grade science fair project on “The Complete Life Cycle of a Link in the Food Chain” which involves following a baby chick from birth to frying pan. But when Milo brings his specimen, a baby chick, to class, everyone falls in love with it and makes Henrietta the class pet. Through zany situations (which Korman is really good at writing) Henrietta becomes involved in so many students' lives and even becomes the mascot for the school’s hockey team. 
It’s probably because I am missing hockey (Is it October yet?) but when I saw that Korman, one of my favorite Children’s/Teen author had a written a hockey story I couldn’t resist posting about it even though the story was written in the '90s. Even with the passage of time, the humor still plays out well and will have the reader laughing and gasping “oh no!” with the antics of the class as they try to save Henrietta. Told from the viewpoints of multiple class members this book, makes for a great listen with multiple narrators, so check out the audio version, which we have available through RBdigital.

The New Kid at School

The New Kid at School
By Kate McMullan
Grosset & Dunlap, 1997. Intermediate. 91 p.
After hearing many a dragon tales from a passing minstrel who foretold him that one day he will be mighty hero, Wiglaf decides to join Dragon Slayer’s Academy with his trusty pig- Latin-speaking pig Daisy. But the academy is nothing like he expected and he is not quite sure he can kill a dragon.
This is a great read aloud for the family; parents will enjoy the inside jokes throughout this spoof of brave knights and fierce dragons. The comical situations will have the beginner reader wanting the next in the series.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fruits in Suits

By Jared Chapman
Abrams Appleseed, 2017.  Picture Book.

If you and your littles loved Vegetables in Underpants, then brace yourselves:  Fruits in Suits has arrived!  The produce is back (in fruit form this time) in all their smiley-faced glory, ready to evoke giggles galore.  Mr. Grapefruit didn't seem to get the memo because, while he's dressed in a lovely business suit, the order of the day is a little fun in the sun...which requires a totally different kind of suit.  A swimsuit!  Chapman has paired his simple text with bright and clever digital illustrations, creating a delightful read aloud experience.  A fun (and fruity) end of summer read!