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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 Hamster and Cheese
Colleen A. F. Venable

Because of his bad eyesight, Mr. Venezi has labeled the cages in his pet shop wrong--hamsters are called koalas, the snake is called a llama, and the chinchilla is called a moose. Also, Mr. Venezi doesn't see who keeps taking his sandwich. Sasspants the Guinea Pig does some fancy detective work to catch the sandwich thief. Readers in about second and third grade will like this funny graphic novel that requires keen observation skills.

WPL Call Number: J Comic VE
Reviewer: Janet P.   (8/16/10)


Book Cover Ship Breaker
Paolo Bacigalupi

In this post-apocalyptic novel of sunken cities and spent fossil fuels, Nailer is a ship breaker, scavenging old ships for metal and other precious resources. It's hard and dangerous work, with no light at the end of the tunnel. Then, after a massive hurricane, Nailer encounters the most unusual -- and valuable -- scavenge of his life: Nita, a girl who claims to be the daughter of a powerful corporate executive. The pay-off could be a whole new life for Nailer, but only if he and Nita can escape the greedy, bloodthirsty scavengers chasing them -- the worst of whom is Nailer's own father! An interesting science fiction adventure suggested for grades 7 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bacigalupi
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (8/14/10)


Book Cover The Cardturner: A Novel About a King, a Queen, and a Joker
Louis Sachar

Great Uncle Lester Trapp is rich, cranky, and going blind. He is a brilliant bridge player, but he can't see the cards anymore. Alton Richard's parents volunteer his services as a cardturner for his "favorite uncle." Alton doesn't know anything about bridge and Uncle Lester has no patience, but they both persevere. Gradually Alton takes a real interest in the game and begins to play with beguiling Toni Castaneda. Piercing the fog of a number of family secrets, the pair undertake a final homage to Uncle Lester and his game. Louis Sachar, the author of Holes, is at the top of his form in Cardturner. Readers from 7th grade through high school should enjoy this book -- even if they don't like cards.

WPL Call Number: Y Sachar
Reviewer: Kathleen O.   (8/13/10)


Book Cover The Carbon Diaries 2017
Saci Lloyd

It's two years after Laura Brown's first appearance, in The Carbon Diaries 2015. Laura's now at university in London, and things have gotten worse--the UK is still rationing energy use, there's flooding in London, and the government is cracking down hard on protesters. Laura and her band, the Dirty Angels, tour Europe, but rioting in France stops them. Witnessing a water war and a refugee crisis, Laura and her friends must decide just how far they'll go to fight for justice. If you liked the first book in the series or Life as We Knew It, and you're in seventh grade or older, you'll dig this book about the not-too-distant future gone crazy.

WPL Call Number: Y Lloyd
Reviewer: Janet P.   (8/11/10)


Book Cover Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in Winter
Amy Hansen

Interesting informational account of how creatures both familiar (like ants and ladybugs) and exotic spend their coldest months. Kids will enjoy reading about how the Arctic Woolly Bear Caterpillar becomes a kind of bugsicle in the winter! Illustrated with lots of colorful and attractive acrylic paintings. Fun for primary grades and up.

WPL Call Number: J595.7 HA
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (8/8/10)


Book Cover Mockingbird
Kathryn Erskine

10 year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's syndrome, suffers a traumatic experience when her brother is killed in a school shooting. She and her father struggle with the aftermath of this tragedy in this heart-rending novel. This is written as a first person narrative, from Caitlin's point of view, so readers experience her feelings and perceptions in a very direct way. For 5th and 6th graders.

WPL Call Number: J Erskine
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (8/4/10)


Book Cover The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular
Jimmy Gownley

This funny and sharp graphic novel brings back Amelia and her fellow students at Joe McCarthy Elementary School, whose motto is "weeding out the wrong elements since 1952." Amelia and her somewhat hapless friend Rhonda try out for cheerleading and, in general, experience the mob mentality that rules the hallways, classrooms, and cafeteria. This book is not at all earnest but has some great messages about courage and loyalty. Absorbing and clever for grades 4-6.

WPL Call Number: J Comic GO
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (8/4/10)


Book Cover Only One Year
Andrea Cheng

A Chinese-American family send their youngest child, a 2 year-old boy, to spend a year in China with his grandparents. His two older sisters are busy with school, and his parents are busy working, so this works well overall but not without some emotionally wrenching moments - especially at the end of the year, when he comes home and barely remembers his parents and sisters. This well-written family story also includes tales of the older girls' various friendships. Recommended for second and third graders.

WPL Call Number: J Cheng
Reviewer: Lyn P.   (8/3/10)


Book Cover The Red Pyramid
Rick Riordan

Anyone who was sad about the end of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series can take heart. Carter and Sadie Kane are here to fill the hole in your life. The siblings take turns narrating, at break-neck speed, their adventures after their father blows up the Rosetta Stone and disappears. Carter and Sadie discover their family has important connections to ancient Egyptian pharaohs and gods, and it's up to them to stop the evil god Set from plunging the world into chaos. Adventure lovers, budding Egyptologists, and Rick Riordan fans will love this book.

WPL Call Number: Y Riordan
Reviewer: Janet P.   (7/30/10)


Book Cover A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
Emily Horner

High schooler Cass has just lost her best friend, Julia. Their friends plan to perform the musical Julia wrote before she died -- Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad -- but Cass, not a theatre person herself, feels like she's on the fringes. When Heather, her middle school nemesis, is cast in the starring role, Cass can't take it anymore and sets out on a cross-country bike trip. This sensitive, sometimes painful, and often funny novel tracks Cass's journey toward self-discovery as she deals with grief over Julia and her evolving relationship with Heather. Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Horner
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (7/30/10)


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