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Reviews by Sue K.

Titles are listed alphabetically by the author's last name. You can click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

Book Cover Numbed!
David Lubar

Sixth graders Logan and Benedict take a trip to the math museum with their class and are zapped by a mathematical robot named Cypher which numbs their ability to do math! Whereas before they took their mathematical ability for granted, they learn, to their horror, that now they can’t do any math even in ordinary situations such as knowing how much change they should get during a donut purchase at the mall, or how to tell when their mom returns by looking at a clock, and they can’t even count in the most basic way. They feel shame when given math tests they can’t do in class. Only by relearning math in the controlled part of the math museum they return to allows them to regain their mathematical abilities. There are various math problems given in the book, along with tips and tricks that the boys use to solve the math problems.

WPL Call Number: J Lubar
Review Date: 4/15/14


Book Cover The Smell of Old Lady Perfume
Claudia Martinez

Chela Gonzalez is a Hispanic American who loves her family, especially her beloved father, and is excited about sixth grade. But her life changes suddenly when her father has a stroke, her grandma comes to stay with the family, and she has difficulties making friends in junior high. She is a strong girl who learns how to cope with setbacks in life in this finely written novel. For grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: J Martinez
Review Date: 1/19/09


Book Cover Daniel and His Walking Stick
Wendy McCormick

Jesse wishes she could remember her grandfathers. On a family vacation to the country, Jesse meets an old man named Daniel, who was friends with her grandfather. Daniel tells her stories about her grandfather and teaches her about the beauty of nature. Jesse discovers that Daniel can be her grandfather too. This story demonstrates positive ways of coping with loss for children. The illustrations are beautiful. For ages 3 and up.

WPL Call Number: JE McCormick
Review Date: 12/23/05


Book Cover Into the West: From Reconstruction to the Final Days of the American Frontier
James McPherson

James McPherson is a Pulitzer prize winning American historian and author of many distinguished books on the Civil War. He successfully demonstrates in this fine book, that he can write succinct chapters for middle grade readers on important events and people in western U.S. history from the time period of the Civil War through 1890. What distinguishes this book are the superb period photos that poignantly depict slaves, pioneers, presidents, outlaws, cowboys, soldiers, and famous Native American chiefs such as Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, and Geronimo. Frontier life is explored with vividness and sensitivity, depicting the struggles of African Americans, pioneers, and especially the Native Americans, who faced the destruction of their traditonal way of life during this time period.

WPL Call Number: Y978McP
Review Date: 1/8/07


Book Cover Emily Dickinson: A Biography
Milton Meltzer

Emily Dickinson, our 19th century American poet, is one of the greatest English language writers. This biography by the prolific Milton Meltzer, is a fascinating look into not only this mysterious very shy poet, but also into the interesting historical period she lived in, 1830-1886. Emily knew prominent writers and thinkers, living in the college town of Amherst, and was a great letter writer. She knew major anti-slavery activists. Yet, her poetry touched mainly on personal matters and nature. This compelling narrative has wonderful historical photos, illustrations, and facsimiles. For grades 5 and up.

WPL Call Number: Y 921 Dickinson
Review Date: 10/25/06


Book Cover Rich
Grimes Nikki

This is the second installment in a series of books about Dyamonde Daniel, a poetry-writing third grader. Dyamonde has a best friend named Free who dreams of buying video games with a cash prize he hopes to win from entering a poetry contest. Another poetry contestent is the quiet girl, Damaris, who lives in a homeless shelter and befriends Dyamonde and Free. Damaris teaches them that there is more than one way to be "rich" and it doesn't even involve money. With nice pencil drawings, this is good beginning chapter book for grades 2-3.

WPL Call Number: J Grimes
Review Date: 2/10/10


Book Cover Lucky Leaf
Kevin O'Malley

This picture book has a contemporary theme. A young boy happily playing video games is ordered by his parent to go outside instead. Unhappily he obeys, discovering in the process the fun of being with other kids and catching leaves. He learns that the leaf game is similar to the fun of computer games. Great pictures add to the reader's enjoyment. For Kg-grade 3.

WPL Call Number: JE O'Malley
Review Date: 2/14/05


Book Cover Martin's Big Words : The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Doreen Rappaport

This is a remarkable biography of an outstanding American hero, winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This book also happens to be on the new Monarch Award list (Illinois, K-3 Children's Choice Award). The author skillfully weaves a narrative about King with King's own inspiring quotes and writings throughout the text together with outstanding watercolor and cut paper collage art. King's powerful words, passion and pacifism are presented in an accessible manner for younger readers. As a famous civil rights leader, he inspires people all over the world today. Ages 5-9.

WPL Call Number: J921 KING
Review Date: 7/28/04


Book Cover The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela
Uri Shulevitz

Shulevitz, an award winning author and illustrator, creates a unique, oversized picture book for older readers about a famous medieval Jewish traveler, Benjamin of Tudela, who set out in 1159 on a 14-year journey to see places named in the Bible. The historical nature of this story is fascinating, considering that at that time Constantinople and Baghdad were the largest cities of that region. Brave Benjamin traveled all over Europe and the Middle East under dangerous conditions. Shulevitz's splendid drawings and creative narrative evoke the history in delightful ways. For grades 4-8.

WPL Call Number: J Shulevitz
Review Date: 9/9/05


Book Cover Runny Babbit
Shel Silverstein

Fans of Shel Silverstein will adore this unusual and amusing poetry collection which utilizes his characteristic expressive ink drawings and silly scenarios. Silverstein transposes words' first consonants creating very funny poems, often based on familiar nursery rhymes, stories, and situations. Children and adults will be inspired by the infectious wordplay of these clever poems to write their own poems. For grades 2-5.

WPL Call Number: J811 SI
Review Date: 9/7/05


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