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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 A Tale Dark and Grimm
Adam Gidwitz

If you think you know your fairy tales, think again! In this darkly humorous mash-up, twins Hansel and Gretel encounter not only the usual house of sweets (and its cannibalistic inhabitant) but weave their way through other, less familiar Brothers Grimm stories as well. The narrator -- who breaks into the story at various times to issue warnings to sensitive readers -- spares not a gleefully gory detail; beheadings abound. My favorite episode was the one in which Hansel dresses up as the Devil's grandmother. While not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach), this quick-paced fantasy will appeal to many readers in grades 4 and up.

WPL Call Number: J Gidwitz
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (12/27/10)


Book Cover The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie
Tanya Lee Stone

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Barbie doll, her inventor, and the company that makes all the Barbie products is in this book. The history of the company is included with interviews from Barbie fans and haters. Many photographs show Barbie and all of her styles through the years. I found it fascinating and I think other Barbie doll owners and collectors will enjoy reading this as well.

WPL Call Number: Y688.7 ST
Reviewer: Alice J.   (12/26/10)


Book Cover Seeds of Change
Jen Johnson

Inspiring picture book biography of Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan woman who worked courageously to plant trees in her native land. In doing so, she battled big corporate interests and was imprisoned for a time. She was the first African woman and environmentalist to win a Nobel Peace Prize. The scratchboard/oil illustrations are vivid and beautiful.

WPL Call Number: J921 Maathai
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (12/21/10)


Book Cover Reckless
Lesley Choyce

A teen named Josh who loves riding his dirt bike in the woods accidentally runs into the local hermit who hates kids and their noisy bikes. Their initial hostility slowly develops into mutual understanding, but before long Josh finds himself in a dangerous, life-or-death situation. A short, quick read for 7th and 8th graders.

WPL Call Number: Y Choyce
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (12/14/10)


Book Cover Mamba Point
Kurtis Scaletta

Linus has just moved to the African country of Liberia with his diplomat dad and the rest of his family. Linus, who has a history of being a "scaredy-cat", keeps seeing black mambas, an unusual but deadly kind of snake, everywhere he goes. Is the black mamba Linus's kaseng, or spirit animal? Suddenly, Linus finds himself taking all kinds of risks -- down to keeping a black mamba in his laundry hamper! This realistic story has lots of interesting details about being an American living in a foreign country. Suggested for grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Scaletta
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (12/5/10)


Book Cover The Daughters
Joanna Philbin

Do you enjoy reading about the lives of the rich and privileged but hate reading about the cattiness that often goes with them? Do you lust after Prada shoes but find that reading The Clique gives you a massive headache? Then The Daughters is for you! Best friends Lizzie, Carina, and Hudson all have rich and famous parents. These girls have it all--expensive clothes, fabulous homes, great vacations, and an exclusive school. But unlike the Clique and their ilk, these girls are refreshingly nice to each other. That's not to say they don't have their problems. Bookish Lizzie has always felt like the ugly duckling to her supermodel mother. After a photographer discovers her quirky looks, Lizzie finds her face, labeled the New Pretty, splashed all over fashion magazines. Lizzie loves the confidence she feels in front of the camera. But can she handle the pressures of being the latest fashion It Girl? With the support of her good friends, she'll make it through. For chick-lit lovers in grades 6-9. Written by the daughter of Regis Philbin, who knows a thing or two about having a famous parent.

WPL Call Number: Y Philbin
Reviewer: Janet P.   (11/29/10)


Book Cover Once Upon a Marigold
Jean Ferris

A troll finds a young boy in the forest and raises him as his own son. When the boy grows up, he falls for Princess Marigold who lives in the castle on the other side of the river. Before long they're exchanging romantic notes via p-mail (notes delivered via carrier pigeon, that is). This combination of light fantasy and comedy also has a few good villains thrown in the mix. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Ferris
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (11/21/10)


Book Cover The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School
Candace Fleming

Funny sequel to an earlier book about rambunctious students, their eccentric teacher, and the bizarre situations they encounter at their school. Each chapter relates to the moral of a different Aesop's fable. Episodic in nature, this would make a fun classroom or family read-aloud, especially for kids and adults who enjoy broad humor. For grades 3 and older.

WPL Call Number: J Fleming
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (11/21/10)


Book Cover Annexed
Sharon Dogar

Based on The Diary of Anne Frank, this is Peter Van Pels's story. He describes how the eight came to the annex, how they managed and what their days were like. Living together in close quarters gave Peter and the others very little privacy. Peter is at first annoyed and then amazed at Anne's cheerfulness and her constant writing. He admires her outlook and later values her ideas. This continues with a fictionalized version of what Peter must have endured in the concentration camps. It is a realistic portrayal of the Nazi horrors written for mature readers.

WPL Call Number: Y Dogar
Reviewer: Alice J.   (11/15/10)


Book Cover The Ugly Truth
Jeff Kinney

Everyone's favorite middle schooler is back, and he's wimpier than ever. Greg Heffley is on the outs with his best friend, Rowley. His mom has gone back to school, leaving Greg and his male family members in charge of household chores. To make matters worse, Greg is growing up--no one thinks he's a cute little kid anymore, and people keep expecting him to be more responsible. And everyone wants to give him a "facts of life" talk. Can Greg face the ugly truth? This one's not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of the other books in the series, but it's sure to get a few chuckles from practically everyone.

WPL Call Number: J Kinney
Reviewer: Janet P.   (11/12/10)


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