Wednesday, February 24, 2016


by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea. Penguin BYR, 2015. Recommended for ages 3-7. 

If you stepped inside my library during a recent reading of this book, you would have heard a ferocious sounding monster (a.k.a the librarian) roaring out:


Then you would have heard my kindergartners scream back:

Squealing in delight and quivering with anticipation, my kinders beg me to turn the page.
“You’ve been officially WARNED!” hollers the monster. Then he lunges out and …
and misses. Then he warns us:
“You do NOT want to turn another page, buster.”
… as the story continues, we quickly learn that this monster has something to hide and will use everything at his disposal, including bribery and deceit, to prevent us from finding what’s inside the book ...
This deceptively simple and wonderfully interactive story had my students laughing, shouting, and jumping up in excitement. The oversize words encouraged students to read aloud and interact with the story. Soon they realize that under no circumstances can this monster be trusted – he’ll do anything, even risk a stomach ache, to prevent us from discovering his secret.
Read the full review at Good Reads with Ronna. Thanks to Ronna Mandel for letting me review the book and keep it for my students.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Welcome to the first book in Rick Riordan's New Series


The Sword of Summer (Book One of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard) by Rick Riordan. Disney-Hyperion. Recommended for ages 9+.
Imagine this: it’s your 16th birthday. You wake up on a cold Boston street, your friends tell you this evil dude is looking for you … and not because he wants to bring you a birthday present. Your untrustworthy uncle reveals that you are the son of the Norse god, Frey, god of fertility of the land, peace and prosperity. Yeah, right. As the son of Frey you have the power to summon an ancient, long lost sword. Apparently, whoever wields it can do some pretty cool stuff with it. Some pretty scary stuff, too. And just think, all this time it’s been sitting at the bottom of the Charles River. Nasty.
Oh, and that evil dude looking for you? He’s the god Surt, Lord of Muspelheim, the realm of fire. He wants that sword, too. And not just to polish it up. See, he’s got this plan (or maybe it’s something like his destiny) to use the sword to free the wolf Fenir and set doomsday into motion. Wolves … dude, you hate wolves!
Someone has to stop him.
Could this be your destiny?
Ready to romp through the nine worlds of Asgard to prevent the end of the world? Well, before you take off, there’s just one. small. thing.
First, you gotta die.

Check out the full review at Good Reads with Ronna. Thanks as always to Ronna Mandel for letting me review the book and keep a copy for the library.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Everyone has a reason to fear the boy with the gun"

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. Sourcebooks, 2016. Recommended for ages 14-18.

10:00 a.m.

The principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester ...

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won’t open.

Someone starts shooting."    
(Sourcebooks FIre).

In a powerful story that drives home the horror and tragedy of recent mass shootings, an angry and disturbed student returns to his small high school, with a plan for revenge ... and a gun.  During the principal’s welcoming speech, with nearly the entire school in attendance, he locks the auditorium doors and beginnings shooting. Horrified students struggle to hide or escape. Meanwhile, outside the auditorium, several students excused (or skipped) from the meeting, hear the shots, contact authorities, and heroically begin a daring rescue attempt. 

Although the entire event takes place in less than an hour, four narrators, whose lives are deeply and tragically intertwined to the shooter, flashback to events that trace his escalating anger and give readers insight into the events that led to the shooting. Whispered cell phone calls and heartbreaking tweets from inside the auditorium add to the story’s drama and suspense. Rescue attempts by tow of the the school's less ideal students begin to pay off and gradually, some inside the auditorium realize that there is something they can do to change their situation.

Nijkamp has written a suspenseful novel peopled with diverse characters realistically grappling with the many issues that teens face in contemporary schools.

Visit Nijkamp's website for more information about her and find a discussion guide for this book and vIsit Sourcebooks  to read an excerpt.

A Winter 2015-2016 Kids Indie Next List pick.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for letting me read an advance reader copy through NetGalley.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ginnungagap? What's that?

Treasury of Norse Mythology; Stories of Intrigue, Trickery, Love and Revenge by Donna Jo Napoli. Illustrations by Christina Balit. National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015. Recommended for grades 4-7.

Dig all things Viking?  Do words like Gullinkambi and Yggdrasil make your head spin and your tongue tie up in knots?

Never fear, the team that brought you the Treasury of Greek Mythology and the Treasury of Egyptian Mythology is here to guide you through the complex world of the ancient Norse with their third volume in National Geographic’s exquisite mythology series. This handsome collection will be popular with fans of Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, the Dreamworks movie of Cressida Crowell’s  How to Train Your Dragon book series, and’s Thor: The Dark World.

Check out my review at Good Reads with Ronna. Thanks to Ronna Mandel for permission to provide an excerpt of the review on my blog and keep the book for my library.