Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Katie the Catsitter

By Colleen A.F. Venable
Illustrated by Stephanie Yue
New York: Random House Childrens Books, 2021. Graphic novel.

Katie is dreading her boring summer stuck in the city while her best friends are at sleepaway camp, something that her single mom can't afford. Though her friend's mom offers to pay for her, Katie decides she'd rather earn the money herself by picking up odd jobs around her apartment building. Though her attempts at watering plants and carrying groceries are catastrophic, she finally finds the perfect job cat-sitting for her eccentric neighbor's 217 cats. Cats with a range of talents like ordering pizza on the internet, rearranging furniture, and performing mixed martial arts. Katie is positive something is amiss, especially once she realizes that her mysterious neighbor Ms. Lang is always "working late" on nights when New York's most notorious supervillain, The Mousetress, strikes.

This graphic novel series opener is perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Victoria Jamieson. In a city filled with supervillains and superheroes (who have Yelp ratings), Katie's problems still come across as relatable tween-girl problems. In other words, this book has a perfect balance of drama and superhero action plus a ton of humor and lots and lots of cat antics. For graphic novel readers, this book is too fun to skip!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team


All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team
Written by: Christina Soontornvat
Candlewick Press, 2020. Informational.

On June 23, 2018 twelve young boys and their soccer coach headed up to a local cave after soccer practice for an afternoon of fun. Seventeen days later they exited the cave after being trapped inside because of rising flood waters. Miraculously all 13 made it out but it took weeks of planning and preparation with experts from around the world to make this incredible cave rescue possible. Author Christina Soontornvat was visiting family in Thailand when the event occurred and she became obsessed with the story of this extraordinary rescue. This book explains not only the details of the rescue, it also includes firsthand interviews with rescue workers, maps, photos, and details about the country and the religious beliefs of the people.

I couldn't put the book down. This was a great human interest story and all the details that went into the book were fascinating and very informative. I had no idea the level of danger that was involved in rescuing the boys and the amount of people who came to help was staggering. Maps and diagrams of the cave helped me understand the gravity of the situation better and the research was impeccable. This book is perfect for all ages and would be one you could read aloud or share with a group.  

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Hungry Place


Hungry PlaceThe Hungry Place 
By Jessie Haas 
Boyds Mills Press, 2020. 215 p. 

Princess is a pony that lives a charmed life. She sleeps in a safe barn with her mother, and she has an owner that adores her. Rae is a girl that loves ponies—not horses, ponies—and is afraid that she will never get to ride one due to the fact that owning and riding ponies is expensive and her single dad doesn’t have very much money. When Princess’ owner has a stroke and the trainer and his wife steal from the pony farm and leave all the ponies to starve Princess is not sure she can fight the other tougher ponies for the few bits of grass left in the field. When Princess and Rae finally meet they both must learn to trust each other—and with their own past emotional scars that is a little tricky for both of them. Yet, being together can be the healing that they both need. This book goes beyond most of the other juvenile fiction “horse” books that are out there. There is depth in what happened to both Princess and Rae and readers will cheer as the two stories come together.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

DISPLAY: Fall in Love with a Good Book

By Alison Cherry

Twelve-year-old Ella juggles her desire to become a dog show champion and her secret mission to find a girlfriend for her single father, only to learn neither dog nor dad readily bends to her will.

By Phoebe Stone

Twelve-year-old Petunia is used to living in the shadow of her fourteen-year-old sister, Ava, their mother's favorite, but now that the whole family has moved to Paris for a year, Pet finds herself stepping into the light, making new friends, uncovering secrets, and, inspired by the classic French dolls she has found, revealing an unexpected talent for designing dresses -- and her beautiful sister does not take it well.

By Cindy Callaghan

When Ginger Carlson's aunt finds herself in financial trouble, Ginger's entire family and her best friend head to Hollywood to help find the missing money. 

By E.D. Baker

Annie, younger sister of the princess who would be known as Sleeping Beauty, is immune to magic and stays awake when the rest of the castle falls into an enchanted sleep, then sets out to find a way to break the spell.

By Angela Darling

Looking  forward to reuniting with her summer crush during an annual family beach vacation, Lauren's carefully planned strategies to win his heart are challenged by the appearance of a friend from school, who captures the boy's attentions.

By Lisa Greenwald

When a snowstorm keeps thirteen-year-old best friends Olivia, Kate, and Georgia inside their Brooklyn, New York, apartment building on Valentine's Day, they connect with their neighbors by distributing homemade fortune cookies and uncover one another's secrets along the way.

By Ann M. Martin

It used to be that Mary Anne's dad was really strict, but not anymore. Mary Anne's been growing up ... but that's not the only big news for the Baby-sitters Club. There's a new boy in school named Logan Bruno, and he likes Mary Anne! He has a dreamy Southern accent, he's awfully cute -- and he wants to join the Baby-sitters Club. The Baby-sitters aren't sure Logan will make a good club member and Mary Anne thinks she's too shy for Logan.

By Stephanie Faris

During the annual Valentine's sale of chocolate roses, each grade competes to sell the most, and the popular people receive the most, making others feel left out. Since Mia's in charge of the seventh-grade sale this year, she's decided to do something to make sure both these issues swing in her favor.

By Joanne Levy

Seventh grader Kat struggles with awkwardness while trying to help her popular best friend and cousin, Olivia, get together with her own crush, Tyler.

By Tom Ellen

Mayhem and romance ensue when tweens Mouse and Jack meet on the slopes during a school ski trip.

By Debbi Michiko Florence

Keiko, Audrey, and Jenna have always been best friends, and Keiko desperately wants it to stay that way, but now they are starting seventh grade, and everything seems to be changing; Audrey is obsessed with the idea of them all securing boyfriends, but when she and Jenna focus on the same boy their friendship starts to break apart - and then Keiko finds herself attracted to Audrey's brother, Conner (who has generally been cast as the enemy), and suddenly she finds herself having to choose between the two.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

DIY Story Time: The Letter "O"

Get ready for oodles of fun with the letter "O"!

By Chad Otis
Little, Brown and Company, 2020.  Picture Book.

The only question Oliver's family ever asks is Who? Who? Who? But he wants to know more: Who lives in those faraway woods? Where does the river go? Why can't I leave our tree? When his curiosity gets the better of him, Oliver -- and his best buddy, Bug -- travel far from the safety of home to get answers about the wonderful world they live in. But after a day of exploration, how will the friends find their way back?

In this delightful story of discovery, an inquisitive owl inspires those around him to let their curiosity take flight!  --Publisher

By Barney Saltzberg
Holiday House, 2020.  Picture Book.

Barney Saltzberg's hilarious and delightfully direct text and simple illustrations introduce children to the concept and splendor of inclusiveness, through recognizing who or what's different on each spread and celebrating the unity as it is. For example, the reader sees three cows and an elephant accompanied by the text "One of these is not like the other," turn the page... and all four animals take part in an exuberant conga line and say "that's just fine with us"! In a series of similar examples children are encouraged to notice both the similarities and differences between characters and celebrate both.

This picture book is a pointed and timely tribute to the power of inclusivity and as well as a riotous read-aloud.  --Publisher

By Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007.  Picture Book.

Destined to become a contemporary classic, this book has spare text and sweet illustrations but contains only five words: apple, pear, orange, bear--and there. Emily Gravett creates clever variations on this theme by rearranging the words--on one spread, a brown bear juggles an orange, apple, and pear; on another spread, there is an orange-colored apple and a pear-shaped bear. Simple and compelling, children will enjoy reading this book over and over again as they learn many different concepts.  --Publisher

Friday, January 22, 2021

The Ickabog


By: J. K. Rowling
New York, NY: Scholastic Inc., 2020. Fiction

In the land of Cornucopia, everything is perfect. The most delectable foods are available, incredible people live in the cities, and there is a kind and beloved King to rule it all. The only thing in the kingdom to even worry about the dreadful Ickabog that terrorizes the land just outside of the marsh, causing destruction in its wake. Fortunately, it is just a story to tell children to encourage their cooperation. Or is it? A series of unfortunate events leads two greedy "friends" of the king taking advantage of him for their own benefit. They spread fear of the Ickabog to support their gluttonous way of life until they are stuck in a web of lies. Although the kingdom is hesitant to believe the fairy tale at first, they soon break down in fear and ask themselves, "Could the stories be true? Does the Ickabog really exist?"

This story is a fun read for older children. It is a type of fairy tale with a moral to be learned about kindness and honesty by the end. Although there is violence and death, it is not graphic and supports the message without endorsing the behavior. The chapters are short and entertaining and read as if someone is narrating the story, making it a great read aloud and, overall, thoroughly enjoyable story. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


By Kelly Dipucchio
Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa
New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books, 2021. Picture book.

Oona is a new kind of little mermaid. Since she was a baby, she has been an intrepid treasure hunter, exploring the depths of the ocean with her sea otter pup Otto and finding discarded items from the shore. But the biggest treasure of all, is an extra sparkly crown wedged in a deep corner of the ocean - the one treasure she just can't seem to get. When she fails to get the crown. she is ready to give up on treasure hunting altogether. But with encouragement from her friends and a good amount of grit, she realizes that she can keep trying even when things get difficult.

The illustrations in this picture book are the real star, depictions of Oona with her dark skin, bouncy afro, luminous seaweed accents, and stripey tail are adorable and charming on every single page. The ocean is radiant with a color palette of greens, blues, and magentas that accent Oona, her darling otter friend Otto and their treasures nicely. To match her bright and bubbly depiction, Oona is an effervescent protagonist who readers will easily find themselves rooting for. This book is a must for all mermaid fans.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Who Hears with These Ears?


Written by Cari Meister
Pebble, a Capstone imprint, 2021. Informational.

This is an engaging new series where the reader looks at a photo and then tries to guess who the picture is of before turning the page to find the answer.  It's a fun challenging game where you also learn facts about different critters while being entertained with bright colorful photos of animals and their unique ears.

I really enjoyed reading this book and learning a few new facts about some animals I wasn't as familiar with. There are also other books in this series that you can check out. Learn which animals see with these eyes, or sniffs with this nose. This is a wonderful way to learn about animals while also building vocabulary for readers who are just learning to read on their own. Pick up one of these captivating books, you might be surprised by some of the answers as you discover who does hears with these ears.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor


Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor 
By Ally Carter 
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020. 322 p. 

April isn’t like the other orphans in foster care. She knows her mother will come back for her someday. However, in the meantime she must figure out how to survive—including surviving the fact that she didn’t mean to start a fire that burned a whole lot of valuable Winterborne art and memorabilia in a museum. But since the fire she is whisked away to live in Winterborne where she soon discovers that the missing Gabriel Winterborne (the presumed dead billionaire) is living in the basement and hoping for vengeance against the person who ruined his life. April doesn’t want to be the only one who knows the secret—but she isn’t sure who she should trust. After all she has had to survive many homes by only trusting herself. But now there are four other orphans who live in the Winterborne mansion and Gabriel needs her help. Give this book to readers who like adventure and mystery with a clever and spunky heroine and her equally charming friends.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

DIY Story Time: The Letter "N"

DIY Story Time is back!  Here are a few fun books for this week as we learn about the letter N:

Written by Gideon Sterer
Illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019.  Picture Book.

Bird is just about to put the finishing touches on her new home when she suddenly finds that her nest is already full--of someone else. So she reluctantly builds another nest. But Fox finds this new nest quite comfy, and Brush Hog loves the view from Bird's next attempt. Soon the Acacia tree is bursting with happily nested animals of all shapes and stripes--everyone except bird!  

Written and Illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Roaring Brook Press, 2017.  Picture Book.

Follow a little girl as she takes you on a tour through all of her favorite things, from the holes she digs to the hugs she gives.  --Publisher

Written and Illustrated by Arree Chung
Henry Holt and Company, 2014.  Picture Book.

A ninja must be strong, courageous, and silent! He creeps through the house on a secret mission. There may be obstacles! But have no fear―a true ninja can overcome all challenges.  --Publisher