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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 Charles Darwin
Kathleen Krull

This is another great biography in the Giants of Science series. Krull has written about Darwin's life from his privileged childhood to his final days defending his remarkable theories. Fortunate to be able to study nature and not have to work, Darwin enjoyed keeping his meticulous notes on his research. His supportive wife, Emma read everything he wrote and edited his work so it could easily be understood. His five year voyage on The Beagle set the stage for his years of work studying animals and plants. Even his children were part of his research as he noted their development from birth. This well written work will be enjoyed by those 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: J921 Darwin
Reviewer: Alice J.   (6/2/11)


Book Cover The Darlings Are Forever
Melissa Kantor

Hoping their friendships will stay the same, three best friends begin at different high schools in New York City. Drama queen Jane will be enjoying the school for the performing arts. Brainy Natalya has a full scholarship to a fancy private girls' school, and quiet Victoria will be attending the same high school her sister just graduated from. New experiences and interesting boys enter the picture, as well as Victoria's father's campaign for the U.S. Senate. Their lives may change but they will remain the best of friends. Predictable realistic fiction for ages 12 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Kantor
Reviewer: Alice J.   (5/31/11)


Book Cover How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy
Crystal Allen

Thirteen-year-old ace bowler Lamar's big plan for the summer is to hit the lanes every day and meet his bowling idol, Bubba Sanders... and maybe catch the interest of his crush Makeda, if he can stop putting his foot in his mouth. But things get complicated when bad boy Billy lures Lamar into a hustling scheme and then a prank that lands Lamar in hot water with everyone he knows. Lamar is a terrifically interesting character who tells his story with tons of energy. If you're looking for a laugh-out-loud story about real kids, give this one a try. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Allen
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (5/24/11)


Book Cover The Hard Kind of Promise
Gina Willner-Pardo

A promise Sarah made with Marjorie in kindergarten is hard to keep now that they are in seventh grade. Sarah appreciated how different Marjorie was, her interest in old movies, the way she dressed, even the way she ate with chips in her sandwiches. Now it means that she is weird and a loser for hanging out with Marjorie. It is impossible to remain best friends so Sarah decides to make new ones in choir but tries to include Marjorie, too. This realistic view of social life in junior high will be appreciated by those ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Willner-Pardo
Reviewer: Alice J.   (5/18/11)


Book Cover Cheat
Kristin Butcher

Interesting quick read about a high school girl who feels overshadowed by her smart and athletic older brother. Her own special talent comes to light when one of her stories causes a splash in the school newspaper. But this soon leads her to another investigation, and a moral dilemma: Should she write a story that will reveal the widespread cheating at her school? Junior high readers will enjoy this thought-provoking book.

WPL Call Number: Y p BU
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (5/12/11)


Book Cover The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester
Barbara O'Connor

Owen's not too happy about his family's move to his grandfather's house. His best friends are across town, and there's a nosy, know-it-all neighbor girl, Viola. But some bright spots appear--he catches the biggest frog in the pond and names him Tooley. And he finds the mysterious something that fell off a passing train in the middle of the night. Soon Owen's got a big project on his hands. Will he be able to keep it a secret from Viola? And can he keep Tooley happy all summer? To find out Owen's secret, read this fun summer adventure. It will appeal to kids in about third and fourth grade.

WPL Call Number: J O'Connor
Reviewer: Janet P.   (5/5/11)


Book Cover Words in the Dust
Trent Reedy

Zulaikha's name comes from an ancient Afghan poem in which a girl with her name is described as "the brightest star," but Zulaikha doesn't know any of that yet. All she knows is that she was born with a cleft lip and the children call her "donkey face," and her stepmother doesn't seem to like her very well. And she knows that she desperately wants to learn to read like her mother who was murdered. Reedy's story about Zulaikha is especially vivid, and his knowledge of details of a Muslim family's life comes from his tour as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2004. Fans of Deborah Ellis would like this. Highly recommended for girls 6th grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Reedy
Reviewer: Joanna N.   (5/3/11)


Book Cover Tales from Outer Suburbia
Shaun Tan

Intriguing collection from the Australian who recently won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize. It's hard to describe this book, which is a mix of story and poetry set in a quietly surreal landscape beautifully illustrated by the author. This would make a great discussion book for ages 12 or 13 through adult. Highly recommended.

WPL Call Number: Y Tan
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (4/27/11)


Book Cover Close to Famous
Joan Bauer

Foster McFee and her mother drive quickly out of Memphis and end up in a small town in West Virginia. Foster is used to starting at new schools and making friends. She cannot read but she bakes amazing desserts and has dreams of becoming a famous television baker. She memorizes recipes and impresses everyone with her baking skills. Now she has a unique opportunity to earn some money with her baked goods and learn to read before starting at her new school. How the townspeople come together and help Foster makes a great story. For ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bauer
Reviewer: Alice J.   (4/25/11)


Book Cover Far From Home
Ben Hatke

The brave and adventurous Zita finds herself on a strange planet after following her friend Joseph through an interdimensional portal. Upon her arrival Zita witnesses Joseph’s abduction by a bizarre tentacled creature and discovers that the very planet she finds herself on is doomed for destruction. Zita manages to assemble a rescue team consisting of a flute-playing inventor, a horse-sized rat, a robotic battle orb, and others determined to find her friend before it’s too late. This is a must-read comic for 3rd through 5th grade fans of Jeff Smith’s Bone and Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet.

WPL Call Number: J Comic HA
Reviewer: Elisa G.   (4/23/11)


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