Tug of War. Author: Jon Burningham. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin. In this “trickster” tale, rabbit sets out to teach elephant and hippo an important life lesson, that intelligence can be even more powerful than physical strength.
Although this story is wonderfully told, most of the pictures are illustrated in very dark colors, making them hard to see from any distance. So, I would not recommend reading this picture book as a read-aloud in a group setting.
Once Upon a Toad. Written by: Heather Vogel Frederick. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin. This chapter book offers a clever interpretation of the old fairy tale “Toads and Diamonds”. Readers who are familiar with the original tale will be amused by this unanticipated twist while those who have never read the old fairy tale may feel compelled to seek it out.
Upper elementary and middle school readers will appreciate the humor and (except for the toads and diamonds) the realistic relationships that exist between the combative step-sisters.
Ike’s Incredible Ink by Brianne Farley. Reviewed by Lori Littlefield.
Ike loves stories and want to write one of his very own. Like many writers, he stumbles over writer’s block and allows distractions to fill the void until the day he realizes that something is missing. He needs his very own ink, just like all the other amazing books he has read and so loves. Ike journeys in search of the secret ingredients he needs to make his very own ink. After gathering and a few mixing mishaps, Ike’s ink is ready. So, too, is his incredible story. Shaped like an ink blob, Ike is the perfect person to write an incredible story.
Children will love Ike and relate to his struggles with the art of writing. His commitment, persistence, and problem solving allow children to see that struggling with creativity can be very adventurous.
Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier. Reviewed by Lori Littlefield.
After three years in hiding and on the run, Neryn finally finds the rebel group at Shadowfell. While settling in, she need only to first regain her weight and strength. Not fully trusting upon her arrival, she does not initially participate in training and strategic planning. Once ready, Neryn would need to rely on her gift and renewed strength to seek out the elusive Guardians. While her love, Flint is called before the king’s court Neryn must continue her quest to find the leaders of the Good Folk. Neryn is desperate to be trusted so that she can continue her training as a Caller – using her gift in a once-in-a-generation attempt to overthrow King Keldec.
Daredevil: The daring life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy. Reviewed by Lori Littlefield.
From the time of early childhood, Betty is like no other little girl. She prefers playing with her metal plane over dolls and imagines herself flying a real plane someday. Disguising her wishes, she requests all the information she can get her hands on about airplanes by using her dad’s name. By the age of 12, she flies solo and earns her pilot’s license at age 16. Since the military, in the 1930′s, does not allow women pilots, Betty finds her own path by flying stunt planes and doing tricks. Once finished with flying, Betty moves on to race cars setting a women’s record, then boat jumping, and finally sets her sights on space travel.
With all of Betty’s amazing accomplishments, readers will be enthralled and may just find the inspiration to follow their own dreams, just like Betty.
Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look. Illustrated by Meilo So. Reviewed by Lori Littlefield.
Brush of the Gods shares the story of Wu Daozi and how his lessons in calligraphy were anything like what the monk expected of him. While others had specific shapes to create letters and words, his artistic and creative symbols were nothing like what he was supposed to be painting. His hook shape catches a fish and his simple swish becomes the tail of a magnificent horse. Soon Daozi begins painting in teahouses and on the walls within the city, as well as those surrounding it. He fills them with beautiful scenes filled with animals. He shares donations of food and coins with the monastery to help the poor. Daozi is happy as he paints, all day every day. Then one day, the beautiful butterfly he just finished painting flies away. Soon, all of his painting disappear and Daozi is sad. Years later, Daozi is asked by the emperor to paint an entire wall of the palace. It takes many, many years. When Daozi finishes his mural, there is an unveiling celebration. Daozi’s masterpiece: Paradise.
Based upon the life of China’s greatest painter Wu Daozi, this picture books show children how he finds his own path to bring honor to his family – that being different was his greatest gift for his people.
Hurry Up Houdini: Magic Tree House #50 story by Mary Pope Osborne. Reviewed by Lori Littlefield.
On a new Merlin Mission, Jack and Annie are sent out to find Harry Houdini, a world famous illusionist. Traveling back to an early 1900′s Coney Island and its amusement park, Jack and Annie hope to have some fun as they seek out Merlin’s second secret, one held by Houdini himself. As Jack hesitates, Annie purchases tickets to a log flume ride and the pair find themselves befriending a nice couple. By the time they arrive to purchase tickets to see the Great Houdini, they are too late. The show has been sold out and the opening act has run off with all of the money ticket sales. Using magic mist, Annie talks the shows managers to hire both her and Jack as stage magicians looking for their big break. What better way to meet Houdini than share the stage with him.
The Program by Suzanne Young. Review by Lori Littlefield.
In this gripping YA tale, The Program is a sad story about a place where suicide is an epidemic. Sloane, the 17-year old main character is a teen who has lost everyone she loves. Some to suicide and others to The Program, an organization made to “help” those considering killing themselves. Teens must hide their feelings to avoid detection. Otherwise, they might be sent to The Program, whose logic is to keep them safe by eliminating their depression by erasing their memories.
Hedgehog’s Magic Tricks by Ruth Paul.
Cute illustrations are what carry this book. Hedgehog is practicing his magic tricks with his friends as assistants. However, his tricks do not go as planned. Hedgehog friends notice that this makes him unhappy, and so they share a surprise with him to cheer him up. This book is a good example for young children to realize that sometimes things do not work out as they have planned, and that is ok too.
All That’s Missing by Sarah Sullivan
Reviewed by Donna Wallace, Auburn Public Library
Arlo has lived with his grandfather (his mother’s father) since he was 2 and his parents died in an accident. He and Poppo have gotten along just fine until Arlo notices that Poppo is having trouble remembering things. Arlo does his best to take care of him, while trying to hide these memory issues from others. Shortly afterwards, Poppo collapses, is rushed to the hospital, and Arlo is faced with the real possibility of being placed in foster care. Arlo makes the difficult decision to leave all that is familiar in order to find the grandmother he doesn’t remember (his father’s mother), who lives nearly 300 miles away. This is where the real story begins, as Arlo learns about both families and the feud between them. “All That’s Missing” is a very quick and interesting read with likeable characters. There is even another mystery (aside from the family mystery) built into the story line.