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Recent Staff Reviews

Not sure what to read next? Check out what the staff at WPL have been reading. You might get some ideas! Click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

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Book Cover Threatened
Eliot Schrefer

Threatened is Eliot Schrefer's second book about endangered apes; this one centers on Chimpanzees in Gabon. (The first Endangered, about bonobos in Congo, was named a finalist for the national book award.) Threatened is the story of street orphan from Gabon who ends up living alone with a troop of chimpanzees. Extraordinarily compelling and fascinating, it is also at the same time quite assessable. His previous books, The School for Dangerous Girls and Glamorous Disasters among others, are written or kids who want to read for fun. So this story, so poetic and stirring, is written as popular and funny fiction, but about a topic about which Schrefer cares deeply.

WPL Call Number: Y Schrefer
Reviewer: Martha M.   (7/23/14)

 

Book Cover The Meaning of Maggie
Megan Jean Sovern

Funny coming of age story about a precocious straight A student learning over the course of a year to deal with her father's devastating illness and all the changes that makes in her family -- and herself. Real and poignant and pungent with 1980's tinged truth. Might be a Newbery contender because Maggie's voice is very good.

WPL Call Number: J Sovern
Reviewer: Martha M.   (7/23/14)

 

Book Cover Emily's Blue Period
Cathleen Daly

Wonderful, thoughtful, touching book about ART and how it helps us to process, reintegrate and cope -- and a great addition to the short list of great divorce books for kids. I loved how Emily ultimately solves the problem of having to do a picture of her home, now that her parents live separately.

WPL Call Number: JE Daly
Reviewer: Martha M.   (7/23/14)

 

Book Cover Absolutely Almost
Lisa Graff

Beautifully written with (somehow) both restraint and pathos, this book about a child struggling with poor performance at school can be achingly painful to read. The scenes of children bullying are realistic, but the really painful parts highlight the disconnect between Albie and his parents. And yet. Albie also learns over the course of a book what a true friend is and how to become one. He is deeply appreciated throughout the book by those who can leave the need for achievement out of their equation of love. We all could learn something from Albie's story.

WPL Call Number: J Graff
Reviewer: Martha M.   (7/23/14)

 

Book Cover Revenge of the Flower Girls
Jennifer Ziegler

Darby, Delaney, and Dawn ought to be thrilled to be flower girls in their sister Lily's wedding. But she's marrying the wrong guy! Instead of marrying her funny, kind high school sweetheart, Alex, she's engaged to boring, sneezy, workaholic Burton. It's not wrong to ruin your sister's wedding if it's in the name of true love, right? This funny family story is a great vacation read. Suggested for grades 3 to 6.

WPL Call Number: J Ziegler
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (6/9/14)

 

Book Cover Benjamin Franklin
Kathleen Krull

With all the information we have about Benjamin Franklin as a statesman and inventor, we now know that he was quite a scientist. Krull has included him in her Giants of Science series. Franklin spent as much time as he could as a scientist, experimenting with and developing new ideas while working and helping to establish our country. The most remarkable fact is that he was self-taught and many of his ideas influenced others and have been proven correct. This is a fascinating look at a side of Franklin's life that many of us did not know.

WPL Call Number: Y921 Franklin
Reviewer: Alice J.   (4/30/14)

 

Book Cover Numbed!
David Lubar

Sixth graders Logan and Benedict take a trip to the math museum with their class and are zapped by a mathematical robot named Cypher which numbs their ability to do math! Whereas before they took their mathematical ability for granted, they learn, to their horror, that now they can’t do any math even in ordinary situations such as knowing how much change they should get during a donut purchase at the mall, or how to tell when their mom returns by looking at a clock, and they can’t even count in the most basic way. They feel shame when given math tests they can’t do in class. Only by relearning math in the controlled part of the math museum they return to allows them to regain their mathematical abilities. There are various math problems given in the book, along with tips and tricks that the boys use to solve the math problems.

WPL Call Number: J Lubar
Reviewer: Sue K.   (4/15/14)

 

Book Cover P.S. Be Eleven
Rita Williams-Garcia

In this sequel to "One Crazy Summer", Delphine, age 11 and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, return to their Brooklyn home after visiting their poet mom, Celine, in Oakland, CA. This story is set in 1968, with references to the Jackson Five singing group and the Vietnam War. The girls must readjust to their grandmother's very old fashioned, strict ways, their father's new wife, and their young uncle's return from Vietnam and descent into drug addiction. Delphine tells a lively story that readers in grades 4-7 will enjoy.

WPL Call Number: J Williams-Garcia
Reviewer: Sue K.   (2/20/14)

 

Book Cover The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond
Brenda Woods

Violet, the daughter of a white woman and black man, is the only black kid at her school. She loves her mom and white half-sister, but she hates the funny looks her family gets from strangers. Her father died before she was born, and his family isn’t in the picture. Naturally she wants to know about her father’s family and figure out how she fits in. When she discovers her grandmother is not only an artist but is having a show in nearby Seattle, she begs her mother to go. After a rocky start, her mom and grandmother reconcile, and Violet’s grandmother—whom she calls Bibi, Swahili for grandmother—invites her to L.A. to spend two weeks and meet the rest of the family. The experience leaves Violet with questions (in Moon Lake she was “too black,” but now she’s “too white”), but she’s happy to discover she doesn’t have to choose sides. This amiable story of one biracial girl beginning to explore her cultural identity is recommended for grades 4–6.

WPL Call Number: J Woods
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (2/20/14)

 

Book Cover Garden of My Imaan
F. Zia

Fifth grade Aliya is uniquely Indian-American and Muslim at her public school. She has many concerns that she shares with her large, loving, supportive family and her diary, in which she writes to Allah. Her worries include the following: what will her classmates think about her as she fasts for Ramadan; how can she share her feelings about being a Muslim with her non-Muslim friends; how does she navigate a friendship with a new Muslim girl, Marwa, who is devoutly religious and wears a hijab; how does she cope with prejudice against Muslims related to 9/11; how can she be a more devout Muslim, and what can she do to make cute Josh like her a little? Not only is this story is fun to read, it is an important contribution to our culturally diverse world. Moreover, the story demonstrates that Muslims differ in their observance just like other faiths do. A glossary of Urdu and Arabic expressions complete the novel.

WPL Call Number: J Zia
Reviewer: Sue K.   (1/21/14)

 

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