Up Your Game: On and Off the Ice

Up Your Game: On and Off the Ice. Written by Rachel Stuckey. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

This informational text is the final book in a 4-part series based on the subject of hockey.  It is perfect for young sports enthusiasts who are reading at a guided reading level of Q.

This book give a brief history of the sport and details how the game is played, the needed skating skills, tips on how to control the puck and different types of shots hockey players employ.   Readers will learn the various playing positions and the basic rules of the game.

This series has eye-catching informational inserts, “cool” facts, numerous photographs, a helpful glossary, an index and a list of various websites for those wanting to learn more about hockey.

~A timely addition to any elementary school media center.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Nonfiction

Ruff Ruffman’s 44 Favorite Science Activities

Cover ArtRuff Ruffman’s 44 Favorite Science Activities by WGBH PBS Kids and Candlewick Entertainment.  Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.  Although I am not a fan of the style in which this book is written, I do think that it offers fun and engaging science experiments, ideal for budding scientists.  The experiments are simple, with very few materials needed (most of which would be cheap to purchase and/or could easily be found around the home).  Each of the 44 experiments follow the same basic methodology. There is a brief introduction,
“What You’ll Need”, “What To Do” (follows the scientific method), “Chew on This” and “Dig Deeper” sections. The book encourages the young experimenter to document his/her work in a variety of ways.  A good science resource for only $12.99.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Princess of Thorns

Book CoverPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.  This is a very modern fairy tale with a touch of  Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Aurora has been “blessed” with beauty, courage, intelligence and a romantic heart, but sadly, her mother also bestowed on Aurora the gift that if any man were to kiss her, he would loose his ability to deny her anything. Faced with this knowledge, Aurora reconciles herself to a lifetime of platonic love.

When her twin bother (Ror) is secretly kidnapped, Aurora, the rightful heir to the thrown, must take on her brother’s persona so that she can save him and others, before the ogre prophecy predicting the end of human-life comes to pass.  Her only support is the arrogant Prince Niklaas, who has a secret of his own. If he doesn’t find a princess to marry before his 18th birthday, he will be transformed into a bird.  He makes a deal with “Ror” that he will help him”, provided “Ror” introduces Niklaas to his sister.

This book is recommended for older teens, due situations of an adult nature.

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Grade 10-12, Historical Fiction

The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High

The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High by Laurie Boyle Crompton, Sourcebooks Fire, 2014. ISBN: 9781402273469. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

real prom queens

Imagine your most embarrassing moment in high school, then imagine the entire student body picking up on it and not letting go. That’s the situation Shannon finds herself in at the end of her junior year. She was playing dodgeball in phys ed when she slipped on the new floor and a finger cot slipped from her pocket. Unfortunately, it was Rick, the one guy she sorta likes who noticed it and before he realized what he was doing, pointed it out. Evil Grace, the nastiest of the popular girls, pounces on it and starts joking that it’s an elf condom. Well you can guess where that went. Even though She has a very good reason for having it, Shannon is so intimidated, she can’t defend herself.

When She’s called to the guidance office out of her trigonometry class, she’s puzzled. When she sees antisocial, multi-pierced gothgirl Kelly and extra shy and very heavy Amy sitting there as well, she’s even more bemused. They’re led to a back room by two glitzy women who inform them that their peers have voted them least likely to be prom queen, but if their parents sign a contract, the three girls will secretly get makeovers, poise, dancing and modeling lessons, tons of new clothing and makeup, a car and a shot at winning a million dollars if they’re successful in getting elected prom queen, all as part of a new reality TV show.

What happens after the three sign on, how the producers manipulate things, what Shannon discovers about friendship, loyalty and who really counts, all make this a fast, funny and pretty intelligent read. There are no unique plot themes or twists here, but the author takes a number of standard ones and weaves them in excellent fashion. This is a dandy book for teens who like high school drama or who have been the butt of teasing or shunned by fellow students. The end scene when the queen is crowned is hilarious. This is a great book for both school and public libraries.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12, Grade 7-9

The Start of Me and You

The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord, Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN: 9781619633599. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS

start of me and you

What happens to your life when rationality won’t work after a terrible event? That’s the situation Paige Hancock’s been in for the past year. Her first boyfriend drowned on a boy scout camping trip six weeks after they started dating. Intellectually, she knows that she should be over her grief, but it’s the way that grief settled over her that makes recovery so insidious. You see, she’s as much saddened by her episodic realizations that he’ll never experience certain life events that keeps knocking her off kilter and prevents her from rejoining the human race. In addition, because she attends a small school, her label as the girl whose boyfriend died is almost impossible to shake. Finally she comes up with a five goal plan. Date a boy, hopefully Ryan Chase, her old crush, Attend parties (doable if her friends are there with her), Join a club, travel and hardest of all, swim again.

She gets off to a decent start, but when Ryan’s nerdy cousin Max returns to their school after going to a private one for a while, Paige begins to realize he’s changed. His nerd quotient has dropped, while his hotness one has increased. When he recruits her for the school’s quiz bowl, she’s initially terrified, but that changes..and so do her well-laid plans.

This book does everything extremely well, from Paige’s uneven, but real relationship with her sister, to the wonderful and strong friendships with her besties, not to mention her growing relationship with Max. Teens who have experienced grief will find this a comforting, insightful and hopeful read. Teens who like intelligent romances will also like this one a lot. It’s a no-brainer addition to any library, public or school.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12, Grade 7-9

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West, Harper Teen 2015. ISBN: 9780062336385. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

fill in bf

When your popularity is threatened every time you turn around and you can’t really talk to your parents, what do you do? This is the situation facing Gia Montgomery. When new girl Jules, moved to town, she started systematically hijacking Gia’s two best friends and now she doesn’t know how to act around them. Then her boyfriend, who she met at the college where her brother goes, breaks up with her in the parking lot on prom night. She’s more worried that Jules will trash her because she’s hinted all along that Gia has been lying about said boyfriend than heartbroken, so now it’s panic time.

When she notices a guy sitting in a truck, reading a book, her desperation becomes stronger than her embarrassment and she asks him to be her fake prom date. He agrees and after the semi-disastrous night is over, something magical, but extremely unsettling hits Gia.

By the time the dust settles, Gia has been through a giant emotional rollercoaster ride, had to look in the mirror and not particularly like what she sees, as well as discovering some new truths about the nature of friendship and her family’s problems in communicating with reach other. Best of all, she’s discovered that fake boyfriends can be pretty awesome once you get past the your part of the fake.

I’m a big Kasie West fan and read this within hours of receiving it. It’s a good book for teens of both sexes who struggle with popularity, self-esteem and honesty issues. Definitely a good book for any library caring about providing good books to their YA readers.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12, Grade 7-9

How to Write Science Fiction

How to Write an Adventure Story. Written by Natalie Hyde. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

Book 7 in a 9 book series on how to write specific genres for children at a guided reading level of P. This volume has to do with writing an adventure story, but each of the books follow the same basic format. The author introduces the topic and defines what that specific genre is about. There are a couple of model stories to follow, and then the writing steps are chunked into numerous steps for young writers to follow.

This book includes a short glossary, a brief index and a few online and print resources.

How to Write Realistic Fiction. Written by Lizann Flatt. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin

Book 8 in a 9 book series on how to write specific genres for children at a guided reading level of P. This volume has to do with writing realistic fiction, but each of the books follow the same basic format. The author introduces the topic and defines what that specific genre is about. There are a couple of model stories to follow, and then the writing steps are chunked into numerous steps for young writers to follow.

This book includes a short glossary, a brief index and a few online and print resources.

How to Write Science Fiction by Megan Kopp. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin

Book 9 in a 9 book series on how to write specific genres for children at a guided reading level of P. This volume has to do with writing a science fiction, but each of the books follow the same basic format. The author introduces the topic and defines what that specific genre is about.  There are a couple of model stories to follow, and then the writing steps are chunked into small steps for young writers to follow.

The book includes a short glossary, a brief index and a few online and print resources.

How to Write an Adventure Story. Written by Natalie Hyde. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

Book 7 in a 9 book series on how to write specific genres for children at a guided reading level of P. This volume has to do with writing an adventure story, but each of the books follow the same basic format. The author introduces the topic and defines what that specific genre is about. There are a couple of model stories to follow, and then the writing steps are chunked into numerous steps for young writers to follow.

This book includes a short glossary, a brief index and a few online and print resources.

~ A useful set for any elementary or middle school media center.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3, Nonfiction, Science fiction

The Secrets We Keep

The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2015. ISBN: 9780374300463. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS

secrets we keep

What do you do when you accidentally choose the wrong path, but realize in a short while that you’ve made a mistake? Ella and Maddy are identical twins, so close in looks and mannerisms that even their parents can’t tell them apart sometimes. In reality, they’re about as different as possible, but even so, underneath their differences and frequent friction, they love each other and have an incredible bond. Maddy has a boyfriend, Alex, Ella has a best friend, Josh, who happens to be a guy.

When Ella is studying late one night, she gets a call from Maddy, asking her to come pick her up at a party. Ella’s more than a little annoyed at having to rescue her black sheep sister once again, but does go. She finds Maddy an emotional mess, not even together enough to keep her shoes.

On the way home, they argue and Ella turns the wheel sharply in frustration, forgetting that it’s hailing. Unable to steer, she watches as they hit a curb and then a big tree. The next thing she knows, she’s in the hospital, Maddy’s dead and everyone thinks it’s her that died.

Her guilt makes her stay in the role of Maddy in an illogical attempt to make amends to her sister. The longer this goes on, the worse she feels, especially when she realizes how strong her feelings for Josh really are.

Reading as she navigates her way deeper into this emotional morass and what ultimately happens is a wrenching experience. The author does a stellar job of making you feel every single emotion that Ella feels as she desperately tries to figure out what to do.

This reminded me a lot of Jody Casella’s book Thin Space which also dealt with guilt, grief and twins in a superlative way. Teens who like a very emotional read, who have dealt with grief or sibling guilt as well as those who have parents who favor, or appear to favor one child over another, will like or relate very well to this book. It would be a very good addition to both school and public library collections.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12

Center Ice: The Stanley Cup

This informational text is the second book  in a 4-part series based on the subject of hockey.  It is perfect for young sports enthusiasts who are reading at a guided reading level of Q.

In this informational text, young sports fans will learn all about the Stanley Cup,  the Clarkson Cup, the origination of the NFL and how it works.

This series has eye-catching informational inserts, “cool” facts, numerous photographs, a helpful glossary, an index and a list of various websites for those wanting to learn more about hockey.

~A timely addition to any elementary school media center.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3, Nonfiction

The True Costs of Toys

The True Cost of Toys is book four in a four part series entitled How to Shop to Change the World. This particular volume focuses on toy production and the economics of supply and demand.  Readers will learn about quality control, fair trade, the life of a child sweatshop worker, toys and toxins.  Readers will discover how their choices affects others and how they can shop to change the world.

This is a enlightening series that is worth having.  The topics addressed are engaging and will give young readers a glimpse of the world that is often hidden behind corporate greed, a culture of excess and glaring advertisements.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade 7-9, Nonfiction