I Can Write A Book About Culture

I Can Write A Book About Culture by Bobbi Kalman, Crabtree Publishing, 2012. ISBN: 9780778745600. Reviewed by, John R. Clark, MLIS.


In this book, readers will learn what parts constitute a book, cultural words integral to such a book (pioneer, ancestor, historic, custom, diversity, etc.), things to include like games and sports, music and celebrations, specific foods and questions to be answered in order for the book to have decent depth. While aimed at children who have other cultural backgrounds, this simple walk through can be easily adapted so any young reader could do a cultural/family history of their family.
It’s well done, with great illustrations to support each topic and is worthy of inclusion in any school or public library.

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Filed under Grade 4-6

Dirt + Water = Mud

Dirt + Water = Mud by Katherine Hannigan, Greenwillow Books, 2016. ISBN: 9780062345172. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS


Beautifully illustrated and told mostly in word equations like Mud + Splash + Splatter = Very Mucky, this is a story about a girl with a vivid imagination and her very loving puppy. They splash in the mud, hose off, play queen and pirate as well as other games that children with good imaginations might do.. In addition to all the activities, young readers will enjoy the parenthetical translations below most illustrations of what the puppy is saying. This is both a good early reader choice as well as a read-aloud or story time book. Good choice for any library.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade K-3, Picture Book

Wally Does Not Want A Haircut

Wally Does Not Want A Haircut by Amanda Driscoll, Knopf, 2016. ISBN 9780553535792. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS


Wally is a most stubborn sheep, content to be bedraggled, his wool full of greenery and twigs. When Mama suggests a trim, he digs his heels in, refusing to comply. All the other barnyard creatures get trimmed and gussied up in order to encourage Wally. They start an old fashioned hoedown and Wally, who has wedged himself between two huge hay bales is ready to join them, but his unruly wool refuses to play nice, leaving him with no choice but to join the trimmed and spiffed for a good dancing time.
Told in rhyme, with lovely illustrations, this book will be a hit at story time, whether at school, the library or at bedtime.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Picture Book, Preschool

Big Challenges That Animals Face

Big Challenges That Animals Face By Bobbi Kalman, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778727811. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS

Big Challenges

This well illustrated book introduces young readers to a variety of large animals and identifies some of the threats (environmental and human) that threaten their existence. In addition, it shows readers specific creatures like the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey that was so rare it was thought to be extinct until some were discovered in the 1960s. Readers are asked questions like why is it dangerous for gorillas to be near people and what dangers do sea turtles face at night, lets them ponder as they read on and then gives the answer on a later page in the book. Among some of the threats detailed are forest fires, both natural and deliberately set, shrinking habitat, especially in the rainforests, islands where human activity quickly alters the ecosystem, disease and the growing popularity of some animals as pets. Even noise pollution is noted as a problem related to offshore drilling and its effect on whales (not to mention oil spills.
This book pacts a lot of information and thought-provoking questions into a small number of pages, making it a great addition to school and public libraries.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Nonfiction, Uncategorized

Stress Less! a Kid’s Guide to Managing Emotions

Stress Less! a Kid’s Guide to Managing Emotions by Rebecca Sjonger, Crabtree Publications, 2015. ISBN: 9780778718826. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

stress less

This is a good beginner’s book about what stress is, what causes it, what the symptoms are, differences between good and bad stress as well as simple, understandable coping methods like good diet, exercise and basic breathing techniques. It is well illustrated and would be a good addition to school and library collections lacking recent materials for kids in the early to middle grades.

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

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe.  Written by Tricia Springsubb.  Reviewed by Cheryl Coffin.

The book’s main character is a girl named Cody.  Cody’s best friend, Spencer, is moving into her neighborhood.  But when Spencer arrives, two “mean girls” also move into the community about the same time.  This story is about these relationships and how friendships, even among enemies, can develop and grow, if given half a chance.

According to my fifth grade book reviewer, the book’s title seems to have little to do with the plot, and some of the characters’ names might be a bit of a challenge for younger readers.  In spite of these perceived negatives, the book is overall interesting and worth reading, especially for children who may be having a difficult time with peer relationships.

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Filed under Fantasy, Grade K-3


Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Printing edition (December 24, 2013). ISBN: 9780316217491. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Two girls on opposite coasts, from completely different family types are going to share a dorm room at UC-Berkeley in a couple months. Elizabeth lives in New Jersey with her mother who is, at times, desperate to date the right man after having been through a divorce. Her father who came out, leading to the divorce, has little contact and owns an art gallery in San Francisco. She has a boyfriend, but knows the spark has been sputtering for a while.

Lauren lives across the bay from Berkeley in a loving, but chaotic family. She’s the oldest of six kids and often feels more like a surrogate mom than a sibling. She’s just beginning to explore her attraction to Kenyon whose dad owns the sandwich shop where they both work.

Elizabeth starts an ongoing series of emails between them when she gets her room assignment letter. What happens to them as pending roommates is woven into what happens to them individually at their respective homes as the girls move through their last summer before college.

That unfolding, both through the messages and as separate chapters about each girl as new information is shared, makes for a very enjoyable read. If anything, the story highlights how important face to face communication remains in an era where ever-increasing levels of electronic communication is the norm and misunderstanding can happen so easily. I particularly liked how each girl came to grips with romance and dealt with the stressful aspects of family dynamics. This is a good book for teens at or near the going away on their own part of growing up.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12

Meet My Neighbor, the News Camera Operator

Meet My Neighbor, the News Camera Operator by Marc Crabtree, Crabtree Publishing, 2012. ISBN: 9780778745600. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is a simple introduction to news photography for small children. It shows Kevin Faibush and the equipment he uses during an interview with soccer players, how he attaches microphones to them so their responses can be captured, how he edits the clip and then how he films the evening news anchors in the studio. While interesting, I think the book is too short and could have benefitted from additional examples of news filming.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction, Picture Book

I Am Princess X

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, illustrations by Kali Ciesemier, Arthur A. Levine Books (May 26, 2015). ISBN: 9780545620857. Reviewed by, John R. Clark, MLIS.

princess X

First best friends generally stick in our heads, but what happens when they suddenly die…or maybe don’t? That’s May’s situation. She and Libby had great imaginations and combined to create a comic zine called Princess X. A few years later, Libby’s mother went off a bridge while driving and she and Libby were killed. That was the end of Princess X, or was it?

Now, at sixteen, May starts seeing Princess X stickers in odd places. Who created them? Puzzled, then frantic, she starts searching, wondering who might have stolen their Princess. The more she digs, the more she begins to suspect that maybe Libby and Princess X didn’t die in a car crash.

Digging isn’t easy or particularly safe, but as she starts to find some of their stories online and illustrated, she realizes that she can’t not keep searching. That search takes her to strange places where she meets even stranger people and finds herself at risk, but each piece of evidence, each new clue forces her to keep going.

This is a dandy story for teens loving a mystery, who remember a best friend who may have slipped out of the picture, or those who like a neat blend of text and graphic novel at a high level.

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

In the Arms of Stone Angels

In The Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane, Harlequin Teen (March 22, 2011). ISBN: 9780373210299. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

in the arms

Brenna wasn’t one to fit in easily. Perhaps that’s why she connected so well with White Bird because he also struggled with his place in the world. The more she spent time with him, the more she realized that he was not only her closest friend, but that her feelings for him went well beyond friendship.

When he started becoming distant and secretive, she was confused, but nothing prepared her for the moment she found him in a trance-like state under a bridge, holding the bloody body of another girl. Horrified, she reported what she saw, even though part of her knew that something about the episode wasn’t right.

Things got so bad her mother moved them from Oklahoma to the east coast in order for Brenna to recover, but she still saw White Bird in her dreams and still slept in cemeteries as a way to feel connected to spirits, something that helped her nightmares.

When her grandmother dies, Brenna and Mom have to return to Oklahoma. Brenna expects to find that White Bird is in juvenile lockup. Instead, she discovers him in a mental hospital, frozen in a catatonic trance. Guilt ridden and still harassed by other teens, she embarks on a scary journey to find out what really happened two years ago. It’s a journey that involves her befriending a Native American shaman, defying her mother, dealing with escalating threats from other teens and encountering aspects of White Bird’s spirit world that are both frightening and exhilarating.

This is a dandy blend of current myth and mystery with an unusual romance. Teens liking any or all of these elements will really enjoy the book.

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