Saturday, March 24, 2018

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland. Wings of Fire: the graphic novel series. Art by Mike Holmes. 218 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., January, 2018. 9780545942157.

Publisher synopsis: Not every dragonet wants a destiny ...

Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He's not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can't imagine not living with the other dragonets; they're his best friends.

So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny -- on their own terms.

The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.

I have not gotten around to reading this series, which is very popular with my students. They are going to fight over who gets to read this first.


Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan. Shadow Magic #1. 321 p. Disney/ Hyperion, April, 2016. 9781484732724.

Publisher synopsis: Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He never should have run away from home, leaving his mother and siblings to fend for themselves. Now he's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.

Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But on the terrible day her father, mother, and brother were killed, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Dream Magic by Joshua Khan. 336 p. A Shadow Magic Novel  (Book #2) Disney/ Hyperion, April, 2017. 9781484737620.

Publisher synopsis: In Book 2 of a three book series, things are dire for the inhabitants of Castle Gloom and the surrounding villages. The undead are leaving their graves in droves, a troll army is on the march from the north, and people are mysteriously disappearing from their homes. The people of Gehenna are blaming their misfortunes on Lilith Shadow, their young queen. They believe she has cursed them by using magic, a practice forbidden to women. With her trusty executioner among the missing and her blackguard soldiers busy battling trolls, it is up to Lily and her friend Thorn to root out the real cause of all the trouble. Their search will uncover ugly truths and eventually lead to a nightmarish confrontation with nothing less than the rulership of the realm at stake. 

I learned of this series from a FB post by the author about the third book and wondered how this got by me.

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker. 313 p. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007. 9780547076317. 

Publisher synopsis: “Look, Mick,” he said, “you’re going to find out from somebody in the gym, so you might as well find out from me. Those supplements you’re taking? They might get you a little bigger, but just a little. If you’re after serious results, there’s other stuff that produces better results much faster, stuff that a lot of guys in the gym use.” “What other stuff?” “You know what I’m talking about—gym candy.”

Runningback Mick Johnson has dreams: dreams of cutting back, finding the hole, breaking into the open, and running free with nothing but green grass ahead. He has dreams of winning and of being the best. But football is a cruel sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. It takes luck, too. One crazy bounce can turn a likely victory into sudden defeat. What elite athlete wouldn’t look for an edge? A way to make him bigger, stronger, faster?

This novel explores the dark corners of the heart of a young football player as he struggles for success under the always glaring—and often unforgiving—stadium lights.

I bought this for a student who's a ravenous reader, especially of sports fiction. I turned him onto Carl Deuker and he's read everything of his in the library. Somehow, my copy of Gym Candy walked. Love this kind of problem.

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner. unpgd. Schwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Childrens Books, December, 2017. 9781524772260.

Publisher synopsis: Celebrate the 2017 and 2018 Women's Marches with this charming and empowering picture book about a pink hat and the budding feminist who finds it.

"This simple and cheerful tale suggests, with not an ounce of preachiness, values of care and comfort and the support women have for each other across generations." —The Washington Post

Here is a clever story that follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and used as a cozy blanket for a new baby, then finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women's equality.

Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women's March, Andrew Joyner has given us a book that celebrates girls and women and equal rights for all!

With themes of empathy, equality, and solidarity, The Pink Hat is a timeless and timely story that will empower readers and promote strength in the diverse and active feminist community.

Can't remember how I learned of this one. How could I resist?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave your link and I will definitely visit and comment. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Fact Friday and review: Bertha Takes a Drive by Jan Adkins

Bertha Takes a Drive: how the Benz automobile changed the world by Jan Adkins. Charlesbridge, October, 2017. 9781580896962. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

I don't know about you, but when I think road trip, I think traveling hundreds, if not many hundreds of miles. Way back in the late 1880s, in the infancy of motorcar development, Bertha's big drive was a whopping sixty miles and that took most of the day.

In 1888 in Mannheim, Germany, Karl Benz invented a motorcar but both the kaiser and the church were against the idea and banned them. Bertha Benz decided to test drive her husband's invention despite the ban. She enlisted the aid of her two teen-age sons and drove to her mother's farm. Roads back then were dirt, winding and bumpy used by farmers to drive farm animals and ride horses. 

The motorcar broke down many times along the way but Bertha, rolled up her sleeves and did the needed repairs every time. Having worked at her husband's side during the development of the motorcar, Bertha was well-equipped to understand the nature of the breakdowns. As the world's first test driver, she also dealt with some unanticipated glitches in her husband's invention. She showed resilience and perseverance as well as some inventor ingenuity of her own when she unclogged the fuel line with a hat pin or fixed the burning brakes by installing shoe leather.

The engaging illustrations are filled with fun little details for eagle-eyed readers and are richly colored. I found it surprising to learn that they were done digitally. Backmatter consists of a timeline of the evolution of the automobile, schematic paintings of the engine and how it works and an author's note that also describes some of her research troubles. 

Bertha Takes a Drive would make for a fun read aloud and discussion. Give it to your car fans and your STEM teachers and display it during Women's History Month.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#tbt: Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade

Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade. 290 p. Wendy Lamb Books, October, 2006. 0385909454. (Own.)

After Canadian sixteen-year-old Edward Bathe's brother is killed in action at the German front during World War I, he lies about his age in order to enlist. Told in the first person as well as letters, Edward's plans to avenge his brother's death are derailed first by an injury while training horses, then by transfer to Palestine to fight the Turks. This is a war story but also a story of grief and loss as Edward struggles to maintain his sanity. Engrossing and fast-paced, this is great for fans of historical fiction and/ or war stories. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm

The Third Mushroom by Jennifer L. Holm. 240 p. Random House Children's Books, September 4, 2018. 9781524719814.

Publisher synopsis: Ellie's grandpa Melvin is a world-renowned scientist . . . in the body of a fourteen-year-old boy. His feet stink, and he eats everything in the refrigerator—and Ellie is so happy to have him around. Grandpa may not exactly fit in at middle school, but he certainly keeps things interesting. When he and Ellie team up for the county science fair, no one realizes just how groundbreaking their experiment will be. The formula for eternal youth may be within their reach! And when Ellie's cat, Jonas Salk, gets sick, the stakes become even higher. But is the key to eternal life really the key to happiness? Sometimes even the most careful experiments yield unexpected—and wonderful—results.

Found this out a few weeks ago when I read Holm's essay for The Nerdy Book Club blog. I just adore her - both Holm siblings actually, and their books are pretty popular at school.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Teen Tuesday: Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. Shadowshaper Cipher series #1. 304 p. Scholastic Inc., 9780545591614. (Own)

Older made his YA debut with this series beginner set in Brooklyn, New York. Summer's coming and Sierra, our take-no-prisoners heroine looks forward to spending it painting a giant mural on the walls of an ugly high-rise in her neighborhood. She lives with her extended family, including a grandfather who is bedridden and non-communicative after a stroke. When he suddenly starts speaking, his words make no sense but he is definitely warning Sienna about the many murals around Brooklyn and the fact that they are fading. Turns out, Sienna descends from the Shadowshapers, artists who are able to channel friendly spirits into art. Evil, is infiltrating Brooklyn and it's up to Sienna and the remaining Shadowshapers to rise against it. Beautiful world-building and gripping suspense will leave readers eager for the next installment. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve. Fever Crumb series #1. 336 p. Scholastic Inc., April, 2010. 9780545207195. (Own.)

Our Middle Grade Monday feature is Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve. Book one of the Fever Crumb trilogy is set in an alternate universe (?) London or possibly a futuristic (?) London but is steampunk at its very best. Fever, an orphan, was adopted by Dr. Crumb, a scientist in the Order of Engineers. She was raised to think rationally, logically and scientifically and she's the only female member of the Order. As London comes under attack, Fever must leave the safety of the Order to work with an eccentric archaeologist. With vivid world-building and fascinating characters, readers who are drawn into Fever's world will not soon forget it. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fact Friday and Review: When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri

When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri. Illustrated by David Litchfield. 48 p. Candlewick Press, March 20, 2018. 9780763681746. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

There wasn't a lot of music in my house while I was growing up. First, there wasn't money for records and, with six kids making the noise of, well, six kids, the last thing my mom wanted was radio adding to the din. Actually, I'm not sure we owned one. My dad commuted into the city by bus and was a news hound so if we were in the car with him driving and the radio was on, it was tuned to news. All this made his coming home one night with a couple of albums by these two young dudes named Simon & Garfunkel notable to my eight-year-old self. Some friends of his had recommended them and he liked the songs well enough to buy some albums, dust off the record player and play and play and play them. So I ended up loving them. They had disbanded by the time I was old enough to go to concerts but I went to their reunion concert in Central Park. The very concert that opens this lovely biography.

When I featured this book on a Waiting on Wednesday morning announcement, my students were, "Simon and who?" And so, this book comes at a perfect time to introduce young music aficionados to these legends. They don't know that they know some of the duo's songs thanks to movies like Forrest Gump, Transformers, Watchmen, and The Muppet Movie, to name a few.

Old Friends is the first poem. In September of 1981, the duo reunited for a concert in New York's Central Park. Neri then travels back in time thirty years to the Queens neighborhood where the boys grew up. This poem is entitled, My Little Town. (I will admit to quietly singing and laughing that I remembered most of the words.)The free verse flows and is easy to follow. Each poem/ illustration is a double-page spread. The accompanying illustrations are just gorgeous. I was so surprised to learn that they were done digitally. They are rich in color and detail and have a folk art feel. The little details like reel-to-reel tape recorders and televisions in a cabinet may need some explaining to iPod toting, flat-screen viewing young readers.

This would make a great addition to any public, school or classroom library. I am so excited to be able to add it to my sixth grade picture book biography unit! Not only does it have terrific back-matter, which I instruct them to pay attention to, the unique free verse is very accessible. My creative students also have plenty of music and video sources to explore and incorporate into their final project, which is a podcast. Put the song titles together for a playlist to cue up on whatever you use for tunes and the stage is set to settle in and enjoy. Don't miss this!