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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 Bamboo People
Mitali Perkins

Fascinating story of modern Burma (Myanmar) from the perspective of 2 boys, one Burmese and one Karenni, caught in a war between the Burmese government and ethnic minorities. It is an adventure story, a war novel and a simply engrossing page turner. Bamboo People is on the 2014 Master List for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Book Award.

WPL Call Number: Y Perkins
Reviewer: Martha M.   (4/29/13)


Book Cover 33 Minutes
Todd Hasak-Lowy

Skinny Sam Lewis tries to prepare for the fight his former best friend warns him about. The seventh graders are to meet on the playground after lunch. Sam tries to figure out why Morgan wants to do this when they used to be so close. Their friendship changed with middle school and the arrival of new friend Chris. While Morgan has become a star football player, Sam has his reputation as math geek, a math genius that nobody cares about. While Sam counts down the minutes before his impending doom, he also tells about their past. Typical middle school story will be popular with it's funny hero and simple drawings. For ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Hasak-Lowy
Reviewer: Alice J.   (4/23/13)


Book Cover Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom + the Challenges of Bad Hair
C. C. Payne

Lula Bell Bonner is not popular. In fact her former best friend Kali Keele has made her the target of some mean bullying. Lula tries to develop tactics to avoid Kali's taunts but they always seem to backfire. She doesn't think the advice of her friend Alan, the science nerd, will help her become part of the in-crowd. Lula is lucky that she has her beloved grandmother Bernice to help her cope. Lula Bell is a talented musician. She hopes that the annual talent show will help her "shine her light." Unfortunately Kali's teasing at the audition keeps Lula from trying out. Then a death in her family shakes Lula's world even more. How Lula Bell learns to deal with her problems is real and hopeful. Sometimes this book is sad, but readers is grades 4 through 6 will relate to Lula Bell's situation.

WPL Call Number: J Payne
Reviewer: Kathleen O.   (4/16/13)


Book Cover Hold Fast
Blue Balliett

Eleven year old Early Pearl has to hold her family together when her father disappears from their Woodlawn apartment. The police are not helpful when the family's apartment is ransacked and the Pearls are taken to a homeless shelter. Hoping that their father, Dash, will find them, Early, her mother and younger brother are convinced that he is alive and looking for them. This is an eye-opener to the world of poverty and crime on the south side of Chicago. For ages 9 and up.

WPL Call Number: J Balliett
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/22/13)


Book Cover The Dogs of Winter
Bobbie Pyron

In the early 1990s, five-year-old Ivan is abandoned on the streets of Moscow. Frightened and bullied by the other street children, he finds better company and protection with a pack of stray dogs. Together, they brave two harsh winters in Moscow and slightly easier summers outside the city, scrounging food and begging for money. The dogs are Ivan's family, and a caring one, too, but how long can they stay together? Would Ivan be better off in an orphanage? Ivan's story, based on a real boy's experiences, is heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and heartbreaking. Kids with a social conscience and dog lovers alike will be moved. For kids in grades 4-7.

WPL Call Number: Y Pyron
Reviewer: Janet P.   (3/13/13)


Book Cover The Fairy Ring, or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World
Mary Losure

Elsie was an artist; her little cousin Frances saw fairies. And what started out as a game, taking a trick photograph of a paper fairy in the woods behind their home, soon turned into a worldwide hoax that fooled even great minds like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. This is the true story of how a little fib grew into a whopper and how it changed Elsie and Frances's lives forever. It's also an interesting glimpse into special effects way before computers and Photoshop came along. For readers in grades 4 and up.

WPL Call Number: J398.4 LO
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (3/10/13)


Book Cover Choke
Diana Lopez

Middle schooler Windy desperately wants to join the popular crowd but feels her dorky best friend, Elena, is keeping her out. When cool new student Nina befriends her, Windy thinks it is her chance to change. Nina asks Windy and others to become "breath sisters" by playing the Choking game. At first Windy does not realize the danger involved but soon feels that she does not want to be involved. How Windy reacts to this dangerous behavior gives us an opportunity to think about ourselves and others. For ages 10 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Lopez
Reviewer: Alice J.   (3/8/13)


Book Cover On the Day I Died
Candace Fleming

Out late driving one fall night, Mike winds up in a cemetery for teenagers. He comes face-to-face with a group of ghosts who all want to tell him how they died. Some of the teens, who lived in time periods from the 1850s to today, died sad deaths. For instance, Gina died in a school fire. Others got what they deserved--Scott's desire to get into a good college overcame his common sense when he trespassed in an abandoned insane asylum. And still others died in weird ways, like David, who was attacked by mail-order Insta-Pets. Most of the death stories are influenced by real historical events, and the Chicago setting makes the book just that much creepier. For readers with a dark sense of humor, grades 6-8.

WPL Call Number: Y Fleming
Reviewer: Janet P.   (3/7/13)


Book Cover Three Times Lucky
Sheila Turnage

This is a mystery for anybody who enjoys trying to solve a crime and guess the outcome. Eleven year old Mo LoBeau was found floating in the river as a baby after a hurricane. Friendly people in this small North Carolina town took her in and raised her as their own. While appreciating the family life she has, Mo has always wondered about her real mother and frequently sends messages in bottles hoping that some day an answer will appear. The murder of an unlikeable resident worries everyone as a detective is sent to investigate. The result is an unexpected answer to all the questions from the townspeople. An unpredictable story for ages 9 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Turnage
Reviewer: Alice J.   (2/27/13)


Book Cover Trash
Andy Mulligan

Raphael and Gardo are dirt poor, scavenging what little of value they can from the garbage dump they and their families call home. Then they find a purse full of pesos -- their lucky day! But when the cops come looking for it, the boys realize far more is at stake than a few thousand pesos. It's up to Raphael and Gardo, joined by their friend Rat, to solve a mystery involving missing persons, corruption, and even murder. As well as being exciting read, this page-turner will make readers think about the difficulties of life in Third World countries, which is so different from our experience in Wilmette.

WPL Call Number: Y Mulligan
Reviewer: Lisa B.   (2/27/13)


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