Posted in Young Adult Nonfiction

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, by Neal Bascomb

17168240The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi
Neal Bascomb
2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN –  9780545430999
Genre – Narrative Nonfiction
Age – High School
4.2 Stars

After the end of World War II, a man named Adolf Eichmann disappeared. This man was the head of operations for the Nazi’s Final Solution. He was the man responsible for gathering up Jewish people, sending them to work camps and concentration camps, and ordering them to be tortured and killed. Many years after he vanished, a team of six spies kidnapped him and returned him to Israel to stand trial and be held accountable for his crimes against humanity.

This book was gripping, despite the fact that it is history that has already been set in stone. I for one did not know any of the details about how Eichmann came to stand trial. Throughout the story I was full of suspense and excitement. I felt as if a piece of me was there as very important history was being made. The fact that much of this story was told through quotes and first hand accounts, made it much more touching. To see these events unfold through the eyes of those who had suffered so immensely at Eichmann’s hands was heart wrenching. It made everything feel more, just more. The photographs also added something extra, the expressions on the faces of the men on their mission, not to mention the setting of the safe house, the courtroom, Eichmann’s homes really made me feel like I was experiencing this book, not just reading it. This book is one of the reasons why narrative nonfiction for teens are one of my favorite genres.

Posted in Picture Books

Little Elliot Big City, by Mike Curato

20518989Little Elliot Big City
Mike Curato
2014 Henry Holt and Company
ISBN – 978-0-8050-9825-9
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4 Stars

Little Elliot is an adorable polka dotted elephant who loves the big city most of the time. However, sometimes he just feels so small. Sometimes people don’t even notice him. Elliot also loves cupcakes, but one day when he tries to buy one from the bakery, no one sees him. Then Elliot meets an unlikely friend and they find a way to help each other! Elliot is so cute, and so happy, and kind. He is the embodiment of who I want as a friend (mostly because I really want a polka dotted elephant as a friend.) But really he is small, sweet, and loves sweets, and I think we could get along. I love this story of a friendship that makes everyone involved happier.

Posted in Children's Lit, Young Adult Lit

I Kill the Mockingbird, by Paul Acampora

18465605I Kill the Mockingbird
Paul Acampora
2014 by Roaring Brook Press
ISBN – 9781596437425
Genre – Realistic Fiction
Age – Middle School
3 Stars

Best friends Lucy, Elena, and Michael begin the summer with a lofty reading list for their next year. Included on this list is To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. Lucy becomes upset when she realizes that lots of people don’t want to read it, even though it is her favorite book. So the three thirteen year olds take matters into their own hands. They begin a plot to make the book high demand again! Somehow their plot succeeds beyond their wildest imaginations. People are enacting it across the country, celebrities are spreading the word through social media, and now that it is bigger than them, will they ever be able to stop it?

This book was a slight bit of a let down for me. I think it had received too much hype. While I enjoyed the characters, I thought that the plot was lacking. It was made out to be this super exciting narrative including “literary terrorism,” and call me a nerd all you want but that sounded cool to me. It just seemed to fall a bit flat. I also want to mention that just about all of the adults in the book were more interesting and more likable than any of the kids. My ideas upon this book may have a lot to do with the fact that I really don’t like coming of age tales. Even though To Kill a Mockingbird is far from my favorite classic, this book just wasn’t up to par.

Posted in Picture Books

The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water, by Gemma Merino

18637033The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water
Gemma Merino
2013 North South Books
ISBN – 9780735841635
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4.7 Stars

One little crocodile of all the bunch didn’t like to go in the water, he like climbing trees. But when all the other crocs played, he felt really lonely so he tried one last thing. He saved up all of his money so that he could buy an inner tube. However, that kept him from really having fun in the water. Will this lonely croc ever learn to love the water?

In my opinion, you should just read the book and find out. If you do, you will be rewarded at the end! In addition to the great story, the pictures are fantastic. They clearly illustrate not only events but feelings as well. I like that the pages are in different formats, some pages are full illustrations, some are cut vertically, and some horizontally. I think this keeps the aesthetics spontaneous. This book is great for a read aloud, because it is short, funny, and lends itself to asking kids what they think is going to happen, in turn building narrative skills! Yay for this book!

Posted in Children's Lit

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee

17910570Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Karen Foxlee
2014 by Alfred A. Knopf
ISBN – 9780385753548
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Elementary, Middle School
4 Stars

Ophelia and her family are mourning the death of her mother, when her father takes a job at a museum in a town where it is always snowing. Ophelia is a scientist, and she doesn’t believe in anything unless it can be proved. One day, while exploring the museum, she comes across a boy who is locked in a room. He tells her that he has been locked there for centuries, and he must find the sword to defeat the snow queen and save the world! At first she doesn’t believe him, but the more she explores the museum, the more she realizes that something really fishy is going on. Will Ophelia be able to help the boy and save the world in time?

I really enjoyed this book. It gave me that warm feeling that you get when you start believing in magic again, despite the fact that you know it can’t exist. I for one, think it is very important for kids and adults to believe in a certain degree of magic always and forever. Ophelia is a great star of the book. She is a strong, smart, and brave female leader. Despite the fact that she is sensitive to the heartbreak in her life, she is able to persevere. She not only helps the boy to save the world from the snow queen, but she also tries to save her family from completely breaking down. She is the kind of girl I wish I could be! I like the way there is a fairy tale set within a present day story. I like the way the setting of the town lends itself to this kind of story. I understand that it is an adaptation of another fairy tale, but that doesn’t really detract from the story for me.

Posted in Children's Lit

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky

17262309The Golden Day
Ursula Dubosarsky
2013 by Candlewick Press
ISBN – 9780763663995
Genre – Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Age – Middle School
2.4 Stars

A class of girls take a field trip to the gardens near their school. There they meet the poet that their teacher is enamored with, and venture into the seaside caves to hear him tell a story. Things get a little scary when the girls emerge from the caves but their teacher and the poet never do. When they go back to school without their teacher, the investigation begins. Will they ever find out what happened to the teacher?

This book just wasn’t very interesting. It is supposed to be a mystery, however, it didn’t feel very mysterious. The way in which it was written didn’t actually make me care about what happened to the teacher and the poet. To be quite honest, I didn’t much care about any of the characters either. It feels much more like a coming of age tale that is missing the back story to draw you into the characters. Everyone just seems off. It is set in Australia during the Vietnam War, and maybe just maybe, this is an time and a place that is so far disconnected from myself, that I can’t possibly understand. That being said, if I don’t understand it, will younger children understand? Maybe. Part of me feels like I am trying to take too much away, and that I should just let the book stand on its own, as it is. While that may be the case, it doesn’t mean that I have to truly enjoy it as it is.

Posted in Picture Books

Found, by Salina Yoon

Salina Yoon
2014Walker Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780802735591
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Toddler, Preschool
4.2 Stars

Bear finds a stuffed bunny in the forest one day. He desperately wanted to help him find his home, so he posts flyers and looks all over the place. When he actually finds bunny’s home, will he be happy or sad? This book is so sweet and adorable. It also has some humor in it for those that pay close attention to all of the “Lost” flyers. The illustrations are simple but quite expressive at the same time. They are bright and funny, and sure to make all audiences smile. The best part, however, comes with the surprise at the end!

Posted in Uncategorized

Savvy, by Ingrid Law

Ingrid Law
2008 Dial Books
Genre – Fantasy
Age – Middle School
4 Stars

The Beaumont’s get their special powers, also known as their Savvy, on their thirteenth birthday. One of her older brothers, Rocket, can manipulate electricity, while another brother can manipulate the weather. Her birthday is fast approaching, and she is anxious to learn what her special power will be. Then, two days before her birthday her father gets in a terrible accident and is in a coma almost one hundred miles away. When Mibs learns her savvy, she is certain that it will save her father. The only problem is that she has no way of getting to him, that is until a man selling pink bibles out of a pink bus comes to her rescue. Will Mibs make it all the way to see her father, and even if she does, will her Savvy help save him?

I thought this book was cute and sweet. It was completely inoffensive, and it really seemed to delve into the human experience a bit. I really enjoyed just about every character. I especially enjoyed the fact that we got to know them from Mibs’ perspective as well as their own. I loved hearing how other people think about themselves, when they think no one else can hear them. It just felt honest, like it was a no holds barred kind of story. This is one of those books that could have taken the main plot out of and I probably still would have enjoyed the everyday lives of the different characters.

Posted in Children's Lit

Wolf Brother, by Michelle Paver

295305Wolf Brother
Michelle Paver
2006 by Katherine Tegen Books
ISBN – 9780060728274
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – Middle School
3.7 Stars

Torak and his father roam the earth six thousand years ago. They have been separate from any clans and make their way on their own. Then a very evil spirit visits the two in the body of a bear and kills Torak’s father. In his death journey, Torak’s father makes the young boy swear an oath that he will defeat the evil spirit or die trying. It doesn’t take long for Torak to find the spirit animal that his father spoke of. Together the two must survive on their own and make it to the mountain in order to conquer the evil that is ruling the land.

Generally this is not the kind of book that I would pick up, however, my book club kids voted on it for their next book. Even as I started it, I knew this wouldn’t be for me, but I quickly changed my mind. This book has a lot of action, sadness, fear, and friendship all wrapped into one. Torak’s spirit animal and friend pulled on my heart strings for the entirety of the book. Their friendship grew beautifully. When I didn’t think the book was going to be my style, this is what kept me reading. I thought that I would have a hard time relating to the story, but that wasn’t the case. Although it is about a boy living thousands of years ago, he still faces some of the basic fears and struggles that children and adults face today. For not being too excited about this first book in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, I really do want to continue reading the series.

Posted in Picture Books

The Odd One Out: A Spotting Book, by Britta Teckentrup

18142392The Odd One Out: A Spotting Book
Britta Teckentrup
2014 Big Picture Press
ISBN – 9780763671273
Genre – Picture Book
Age – Preschool
4 Stars

Each page has a cute rhyming poem and pictures of different animals. In every set of animals, one is not like the other. Each poem asks the reader to find the odd one out! I love the simple, yet wonderfully colorful illustrations in this book. I like that some pages put forth a relatively easy challenge, however, some were even tough for me! It encourages children to really see what is going on in the page, and to really pay attention to the finer details in each picture! I also like that each poem describes unique characteristics to each animal. It really seems to be educational on so many levels.