Transportation in Different Places

Transportation in Different Places by Adrianna Morganelli, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN:9780778720140. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This engaging book mixes colorful photos and purple fact balloons with easily understood facts about different methods of transport around the world Young readers will enjoy looking and learning how people move themselves and goods in places as varied as Greenland and Australia. There are suggested activities, a learning more and a glossary at the back of the book. This is a good one to use when introducing young learners to how people move themselves and cargoes around the globe.

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

Leaving our mMark: reducing our carbon footprint

Leaving Our Mark: reducing our carbon footprint by Nancy Dickmann, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778723813. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is a thoughtful, well written and fact-filled look at how every person’s use of energy impacts the amount of greenhouse gasses and global warming. Short, but information rich chapters will engage and stimulate readers about such topics as what a carbon footprint is, where gases come from, looking at the global impact, who emits the most, what are carbon offsets and even such things as how much methane one cow produces per day (answer-a lot!) This is a book well worth adding to school and public libraries where environmental awareness is important.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Nonfiction

Serial Hottie

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram, Bluefields (June 5, 2012). ISBN: 9780985627713. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS

serial hottie

Every teen has to step across an invisible line between ignoring the way they interact and affect the opposite sex.. For hockey-obsessed Eleanor Westley, it comes when her best buddies the J’s have abandoned her by attending a summer camp that’s off limits to girls, leaving her at the mercy of potential boredom and her sister for the summer. Then Seth and his aunt move in across the street.

Ellie is fascinated by his extended workouts every morning, but is flustered by how she’s feeling. Boys have always been people she’s competed against, so why is this one making her feel so fluttery and…’girly’?

The more Seth pursues her, the more skittish she becomes. Then girls who have a strong resemblance to her start getting murdered, each one stabbed more times than the last one. At the same time, her older sister is trying to turn her into a hottie, first by dragging her off to a party while wearing a bikini, then by trying to get her to wear fancier clothing and make-up. The problem is, while Ellie still likes mixing it up in a street hockey game, her feelings for Seth, not to mention her growing awareness of how she CAN look if she chooses, have her even more conflicted. At the same time, her sister is convinced that Seth is very likely the serial killer.

When everything comes to a head, it’s scary and fast-paced, leading to a very satisfying conclusion. Teens liking a dandy blend of tough girl, romance and mystery will find this to be a perfect read.

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

Thin White Line

Thin White Line by J.A. Templeton, Julia Templeton (July 14, 2013). ISBN: 9781939863027. Reviewed by John R. Clarl, MLIS.


Kenzie lived in a bubble until her parents’ marriage blew up. Her reality included a safe boyfriend, big house in a gated Southern California community with guards. She attended a good school and had few worries. Then the divorce hit, letting things get ugly and life became very different. She found herself a thousand miles north, living in a small apartment while starting at a public school.

Her only salvation was her cousin Brooke. But Brooke has changed a lot since they last saw each other. She’s edgy now, smokes, drinks and has multiple ear piercings as well as singing in a local band. At first, Kenzie’s a bit put off by the changes, but she quickly re-bonds with her cousin and after meeting Ryder and Declan, two very hot members of the band, her need to belong, coupled with her feelings of loss, propel her down a path unimaginable just months before. Where it takes her and what happens to the new people in her life is a very good cautionary tale for at-risk teens. It doesn’t preach, instead letting the consequences of Kenzie’s choices, coupled with ones made by Brooke, her boyfriend and Ryder, give readers a chance to think about the results of risky behavior. Strong language and a sex scene at the end may put off some teens and/or librarians, but the overall story, coupled with its message, should outweigh such concerns.

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Filed under Grade 10-12

The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs.  Written by Nosy Crow.  Illustrated by Ed Bryan. Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

In this classic book, the three little pigs each build a house of their own, based upon their work ethic.  One builds his house out of straw, which is flimsy but convenient.  One builds his house out of sticks, slightly stronger but still quick and easy, and the last pig labors for a period of time to create a secure house out of bricks.  The Big Bad Wolf then comes by and blows by each of their houses down, except for the brick one, which is able to withstand the pressure.

In an effort to get into the brick house, the wolf climbs up the chimney.  But these pigs are just a little too smart for him.  They place a pot of boiling water over the fire, which the wolf promptly falls into.  The wolf leaps out, running out of the house, never to be seen again!

This edition has homey illustrations with lots of bright colors.  The book is perfect for younger children because it is easy to read and understand.  Although the story stays pretty true to the original tale, the illustrations are humorous, breathing new life into this familiar story.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade K-3, Preschool

Ghost In The House

cover artGhost In The House.  Written by Ammi-Joan Paquette.  Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

This picture book starts with a ghost wandering the halls of a house, then a mummy shows up, next a monster, then a skeleton, a witch, and finally…a small boy! And it is he that scares all the these supernatural creatures away!

This story is funny and cleverly written, with simply drawn picture that are not too scary.  The book is a counting tale and so it makes a great October story to read with pre-schoolers and young readers.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade K-3, Picture Book, Poetry, Preschool

Til Death

Til Death: A Fractured Souls Novel by Kate Evangelista, Entangled: Teen (March 4, 2014). ISBN: 9781622662326. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Selena Fallon lost her parents when she was almost too young to remember them. Raised by her grandparents in a small town in Nebraska, She feels normal except for her scarily vivid dreams that just happen to come true a little too often for comfort. She’s best friends with Penny and Kyle. Penny is bubbly, Kyle, funny and out to his besties.

Enter Dillan Sloan, nephew of the most popular teacher at the local high school. He’s been sent there in disgrace after being unable to fulfill a mission in Budapest in his role as a member of the Illumenari, a group of families with supernatural powers whose mission is to protect ordinary humans from other, less self-controlled supernaturals. He’s smarting from his demotion, and the added indignity of being forced to attend high school.

When Selena meets Dillan, sparks fly, very real ones and, while she’s completely confused, he quickly realizes that she’s a lot more than ordinary. Their hostility falters as they quickly discover the powerful attraction between them that underlies everything. Add in that nobody in the surrounding cast of characters is what they seem, there are some really nasty creatures determined to do Selena in, the story has a few really decent twists and you have a story teens liking paranormal with liberal splashes of evil and romance will gobble up. The only downside is that the sequel won’t be out until next year (2017).

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12, Supernatural

A Blind Guide To Stinkville

A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel, Sky Pony Press; Reprint edition (August 9, 2016). ISBN: 9781510703827. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


At twelve, getting uprooted and moving almost all the way across the country would be traumatic. For Alice, the experience is far worse. In Seattle, everyone knew her around the neighborhood and at school, she was liked and others knew how to accept her difference. Alice has albinism and is almost completely blind.

When her dad takes a job managing the tottering paper mill that gives Sinkville, SC its nickname of Stinkville, she’s left feeling lost. Her best friend, Eliza seems to have moved on quickly back in Seattle, her father is spending more and more time at work, her older brother is angry about the move and resents having to be around Alice, but worst of all is her mother’s reaction to the change. She’s fallen into a depression and barely gets out of bed.

At first, Alice has a sense of panic, but after discovering the local library, she begins to suck it up and realize that if she’s going to learn how to survive in her new environment, she’ll need to do it on her own. After making friends with Kerica, daughter of the childrens librarian and being snubbed by Sandi, another girl who frequents the library, but for reasons she’d prefer to keep secret, Alice sets on a new path with her dog Tooter, so named because of his habit of flatulence. That road brings her confidence, more new friends and insight into her own family, but most importantly, it helps her discover that sense of community she so sorely missed after leaving Seattle. How these come about make for a really feel-good experience. It’s a great book for any library to add and adults will enjoy it as much as tweens.

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

A Pocket Full of Murder

A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 8, 2015). ISBN: 9781481437714. Reviewed by, John R. Clark, MLIS.


If you’re poor, your mom is dead and there’s barely enough food to feed a mouse, let alone you and your three sisters, that is when your father, a stone mason, can find work, life would seem tough. When your father is arrested and accused of using magic to kill a member of government, it’s far tougher, especially when the only other income is what your older sister earns in a sweatshop.

This twelve year old Isaveth must deal with. Not only is the deck stacked against her because her father had been heard to say negative things about the deceased, but her family are Moshite, a faith/race looked down upon by almost everyone. Things are so bad that she and her sisters are terrorized by the bully living down the street and her best friend has been forbidden to have any contact with her now that Dad is imprisoned.

The only things going for Isaveth are her skill at making and baking spells she can sell on the street corners and her unexpected friendship with Quiz, a cocky boy who has an eye patch and an intriguing way of finding out information that is likely to help her save her father.

As she and Quiz embark upon their quest to find the real killer, things not only speed up, but get murkier. Is Quiz really a street urchin, or is he something more complicated? Who is behind the framing of her father and can she find evidence to unmask that mysterious figure.

Tweens, teens and fantasy-loving adults will devour this book. There are vivid characters, an intriguing world and a neat friendship that survives lies and treachery. All in all it’s a dandy book to have in any library.

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Filed under Fantasy, Fiction, Grade 4-6, Grade 7-9

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, Point (July 26, 2016). ISBN: 9780545850971. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Lily found paying attention in chemistry class difficult, so she spaced out and started writing some of her favorite song lyrics on her desk. To her surprise, someone in a later chem class added to them as well as leaving her a message. It’s not long before they’re exchanging letters, stuck under the desk and then Lily realizes she’s starting to have feelings for the mystery guy.

Add to the mix her slight social awkwardness, the stress of coming up with the best song for a contest, the unexpected disaster that hits her guitar, mean girls, her best friend nudging her to risk it when the mystery guy is revealed and you have another dandy teen romance from an author who has never disappointed me. I’ve read and loved all her books and this is as good as it gets. It’s a great one for both school and public libraries to add where teens like good chemistry with a dash of mystery and plenty of romantic intrigue.

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