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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 Small as an Elephant
Jennifer Jacobson

Jack heads off on a camping trip in Maine with his mother, but, on his first morning there, he wakes up in the tent to find himself alone. He's afraid to call the police to report her missing, since her past erratic behavior means that he may be taken away from her. This story of a brave and caring boy's struggle to safely find his way home makes for a novel that is both exciting and thoughtful. For grades 6 and older.

WPL Call Number: Y Jacobson
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (7/5/11)

 

Book Cover Guys Read: Funny Business

Funny guy Jon Scieszka has collected another group of stories aimed at guys, this one with a humorous bent. Stories by Jeff Kinney and Eoin Colfer will satisfy fans waiting for the next Wimpy Kid or Artemis Fowl book. Readers may discover new authors, too. After reading "A Fistful of Feathers," about a kid whose family's pet turkey gets just a little too much attention, I can't wait to read books by David Yoo. I squirmed at the gross "Bloody Souvenir" by Jack Gantos and laughed out loud at the grandfather in "What? You Think YOU Got it Rough?" by Christopher Paul Curtis. This collection is a hoot and will be appreciated by readers from about 4-7th grade, male or female.

WPL Call Number: J Guys
Reviewer: Janet P.   (6/28/11)

 

Book Cover Inside Out and Back Again
Lai Thanhha

When the Vietnam War reaches Saigon in 1975, ten-year-old Hà and her family flee on a ship and are rescued by American soldiers. After spending time in tent cities in Guam and Florida, a sponsor helps the family relocate to Alabama. The community does not welcome the immigrants with open arms, and Hà discovers a lot about herself as she learns English from a tutor, deals with attacks from bullies, struggles with her father being missing in action, and adjusts to her new life in America. This novel is told in verse, and each poem is an entry from Hà’s diary. Recommended for grades 4-8.

WPL Call Number: J Lai
Reviewer: Elisa G.   (6/27/11)

 

Book Cover Page by Paige
Laura Lee Gulledge

When high school student Paige Turner (so named because her parents are writers) moves from Virginia to New York City, she slowly finds a new circle of friends while also developing confidence in her artistic talents. This graphic novel, narrated in a first person voice, has great pictures and a compelling and believable main character. Recommended for junior and senior high readers.

WPL Call Number: Y Comic GU
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (6/27/11)

 

Book Cover Grounded
Kate Klise

Daralynne tells what her life was like B.C., before the plane crash that killed her father, brother and sister. Because she was grounded by her parents for going fishing without permission, Daralynne wasn't on the plane with them but feels she should have been. She also describes life in her small Ozark town A.D., after the deaths. Neither Daralynne nor her mother have dealt with their grief and this first year progresses with many changes. It takes an outsider to prove what this family still can do. A sincere family story for ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Klise
Reviewer: Alice J.   (6/22/11)

 

Book Cover Tall Story
Candy Gourlay

Bernardo has been waiting years to leave his village in the Philippines to join the rest of his family in London. When his papers finally come through, it's hard for Bernardo to leave. He's a giant, eight feet tall, and everyone in his village thinks he's the second coming of a mythical character who's preventing earthquakes from destroying their town. Once he's in London, he has a hard time fitting in--physically and socially. Slowly, he bonds with his half-sister, Andi, over their love of basketball. But what about Bernardo's village? Will it be safe from earthquakes without him? Narrated by Andi and Bernardo in alternating chapters, this is an unusual story about superstition and family bonds. Kids in about fifth through eighth grade will enjoy this book.

WPL Call Number: Y Gourlay
Reviewer: Janet P.   (6/16/11)

 

Book Cover Akata Witch
Nnedi Okorafor

Being albino has always made Sunny an oddball, especially in Nigeria where she lives. But it turns out there's something even more extraordinary about Sunny: she's one of the Leopard People and therefore has magical abilities. In this fantastical adventure, Sunny and her new friends are called upon to stop Black Hat Otokoto, a serial killer who only goes after children... and seems to have very dark magic of his own. Reminiscent of Harry Potter (there's even a magical marketplace that brings Diagon Alley to mind), Sunny's story brims with humor and West African folklore. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Okorafor
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (6/15/11)

 

Book Cover Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii
Graham Salisbury

When a tropical storm strikes his island, Calvin gets more adventure than he bargained for in this exciting, fast moving, easy to read novel with a sophisticated young hero. There are several more books about Calvin, too. Highly recommended especially for boys 3rd grade and up.

WPL Call Number: J Salisbury
Reviewer: Joanna N.   (6/13/11)

 

Book Cover Riding the Black Cockatoo
John Danalis

Growing up, John never wondered where the Aboriginal skull on his white family's mantelpiece came from -- the skull his family called "Mary." He didn't think about the racism that had taken Mary and countless other Aboriginal remains from their resting places. Years later, John begins to learn the truth. In this moving true story, John goes through the complex process of sending Mary home, confronting his own racial prejudice in the process. Highly recommended nonfiction for grades 7 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y p DA
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (6/10/11)

 

Book Cover Happily Ever Emma
Sally Warner

In this 6th book about Emma, her contented life is disrupted when her divorced mother goes out on a date. Her problems deepen when she accidentally-on-purpose forgets to deliver an important phone message. This well-written and quietly funny book will be enjoyed by fans of Ramona and Junie B. Recommended for 2d and 3d graders.

WPL Call Number: J Warner
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (6/9/11)

 

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