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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 Snook Alone
Marilyn Nelson

Beautifully illustrated story of a rat terrier named Snook who lives with a monk on a small island. They have a peaceful and interesting daily routine until a bad storm hits and suddenly the monk isn't there any more...The writing is as lovely as the paintings in this book that children (ages 6 or 7 and up)and adults will enjoy.

WPL Call Number: J Nelson
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (4/1/11)


Book Cover One Square Inch
Claudia Mills

When 11 year-old Cooper, along with his widowed mother and younger sister, visits his grandfather in New Jersey for a few weeks, it becomes obvious that his mother's habit of sleeping too much is part of a deeper problem. When they return home to Colorado, she gets help for her depression, but soon her moods go too far in the other direction. Life in a household affected by bipolar disorder is sensitively described in this ultimately hopeful novel for 4th-6th graders. The social stigma of mental illness and the family dynamics that stem from keeping secrets seem especially real and touching.

WPL Call Number: J Mills
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (3/30/11)


Book Cover The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman
Ben H. Winters

Nobody knows anything about mousy Ms. Finkleman until Bethesda Fielding uncovers her music teacher's secret past--Ms. Finkleman was Little Miss Mystery, the wild singer in an early '90s punk-rock band. Once she's outed, Ms. Finkleman is pressured into organizing a rock show for the annual Choral Corral. But planning the show really falls to Bethesda and spaced-out rocker Tenny Boyer. Bethesda starts to wonder if Ms. Finkleman isn't hiding even more secrets. This is a totally rockin' school story that will appeal to readers in about third through sixth grade.

WPL Call Number: J Winters
Reviewer: Janet P.   (3/25/11)


Book Cover Faith, Hope, and Ivy June
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Ivy June, from rural Kentucky, participates in a student exchange program to spend two weeks in Lexington with wealthy Catherine Combs's family after which Catherine is to spend two weeks in the mountains with Ivy June. Both girls learn how similar yet different their lives are. While Ivy June notices she doesn't have the right shoes to wear in the city, Catherine can't figure out how she'll wash her hair daily without the convenience of indoor plumbing. Both girls learn the importance of family while losing their preconceived ideas about others. For ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Naylor
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/23/11)


Book Cover Greetings from Nowhere
Barbara O'Connor

Set at the Sleepy Time Motel in the Smoky Mountains, this interesting story brings together several young characters. Kirby is being delivered to a reform school by his harried mother when their car breaks down and the motel is the closest place around; Willow's father wants to buy the motel from the elderly owner; and Loretta is looking for her birth mother after she receives a mysterious package in the mail. Recommended for kids in 5th or 6th grade and older, this is a 2012 Rebecca Caudill Award nominee.

WPL Call Number: J O'Connor
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (3/22/11)


Book Cover Half Brother
Kenneth Oppel

Ben's behavioral scientist father moves the family across the country (Canada) to start a new university sponsored research project. Teaching a baby chimpanzee to use sign language is a novel idea in 1973 and Ben is not sure he likes the idea. His mother brings the chimp home and explains that they are raising him as a member of the family. Only child Ben believes that this is his "brother" and not only names him but becomes Zan's favorite caretaker. Fearing the end of the project and what will happen to Zan, Ben argues with his father about what will be best for Zan's future. A different kind of family story for ages 12 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Oppel
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/22/11)


Book Cover Saving Zasha
Randi Barrow

It's just after World War II in the Soviet countryside, where no one has seen a dog in years. Mikhail is very surprised when he meets a wounded stranger--with a beautiful German shepherd. The stranger dies, leaving Mikhail and his family with the dog, Zasha. Mikhail grows to love Zasha, but he has to keep her hidden, as anti-German sentiment is still strong. Little by little, Mikhail finds that his neighbors miss their dogs. But will he be able to reveal his secret pet? And will dogs ever return to Russia? Dog lovers and history buffs in about 4th-6th grade will enjoy this book.

WPL Call Number: Y Barrow
Reviewer: Janet P.   (3/21/11)


Book Cover Every Soul a Star
Wendy Mass

Ally's parents have spent ten years preparing this campground for the solar eclipse. Thousands of people will come to see and celebrate the actual event. Bree's scientist parents drag her along even though Bree would rather focus on her future modeling career. Jack is there because his teacher offered him a chance to help with a tour instead of attending summmer school for a failed science class. These unlikely friends discover a lot about their problems and their place in the world. For ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Mass
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/14/11)


Book Cover The Shadows
Jacqueline West

Exciting tale of a girl who moves into a big spooky house with her pre-occupied parents. She soon learns that there is something strange about the paintings in the house; with help from a pair of old spectacles, she is able to enter the landscapes of the paintings, but something dangerous is lurking within. The first in a projected series, this is recommended for boys and girls in grades 3 or 4 and up.

WPL Call Number: J West
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (3/12/11)


Book Cover I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures
Carlyn Beccia

Can frog soup really cure a cold? Can spider webs cure a wound? In this book, you'll learn about all sorts of crazy-sounding folk cures for common ailments, from around the world and throughout history. Some of them actually work! Others...not so much. This entertaining and informative book is organized like a quiz so you can guess the effectiveness of each cure before learning the truth. Recommended for grades 3 and up.

WPL Call Number: J615.8 BE
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (3/9/11)


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