Psalm Book: Prayers and Poems for Kids / edited by Naomi J. Krueger; illustrated by Peter Grosshauser. (Spark Story Bible) 4.3.2017

Spark House Family ISBN 9781506417684

PRI K-Grade 5 Rating: 4

Psalm Book: Prayers and Poems for Kids is an illustrated collection of 50 prayers, worded and compiled for young readers.

Nine authors contributed to this 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection, edited by Naomi J. Krueger and organized into four chapters: Prayers of Morning and Evening, Prayers of Praise, Prayers of Comfort, and Prayers of Creation. Each short prayer is titled, referenced to a psalm, and accompanied by an illustration. The prayers reflect a range of thoughts, emotions, and situations.

Imbedded sparkles on the book’s cover suggest that something really special is inside! Cartoon-style illustrations by Peter Grosshauser add brightness and activity to the pages; a friendly green snake playfully appears throughout. The readability and length of the prayers are right on target for children.

A Message for Kids” explains what the psalms are, where to find them in the Bible, and why they are such an expressive part of prayer. “A Message for Grown-ups” encourages parents to help their children engage with the material. Blank pages at the end of the book are included for readers to write their own notes or prayers.

With an intended grade school audience, Psalm Book: Prayers and Poems for Kids offers simple, succinct prayers that children can share and understand. The book’s well-organized format and small size make it the perfect travel companion or bedside devotional.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

The Prince Warriors series / by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler. 3.31.2017

The Prince Warriors / by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler. (The Prince Warriors, 1)

B&H Kids ISBN 9781433690198

The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion / by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler. (The Prince Warriors, 2)

B&H Kids ISBN 9781433690204

The Prince Warriors and the Sword of Rhema / by Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler. (The Prince Warriors, 3)

B&H Kids ISBN 9781433690211

INT Grades 3-6 Rating: 4

Priscilla Shirer and Gina Detwiler co-authored this fiction series for children ages 8-12 years old. Xavier and Evan are brothers and used to fighting each other. Now they discover the real battle is in the spiritual realm, and they have been called to fight it using the armor of God.

In The Prince Warriors, Xavier and Evan find themselves in a hidden realm (Ahoratos) where some friends join them, and they learn under the tutelage of Ruwach what it means to be Prince Warriors. He directs them in their first danger-filled adventure and warns them not to take anything from Ahoratos back to their world. Will they defeat the enemy in their first battle with him? What happens when one of them forgets Ruwach’s warning?

In The Prince Warriors and the Unseen Invasion, they face new weapons from the enemy, ones they never even imagined. They are given more armor to help them face the deadly Olethron. Have they learned their lessons well? What about the consequence of those seemingly harmless decisions that went against Ruwach’s instructions? Will that cost them the battle?

In The Prince Warriors and the Sword of Rhema, the Prince Warriors finally receive their long-awaited swords, promised to them when they first began their training in Ahoratos. Now they must face the enemy for the final battle to stop him. Will their swords give them victory? Will they recognize the traitor in their midst?

Gina Detwiler and Priscilla Shirer, author of several best-selling adult non-fiction books, do an excellent job of capturing the voice of the children in this new series. They tackle the non-fiction topic of spiritual warfare through the use of fantasy fiction to reach their target audience. More character development than plot development, the series is an easy read for young readers, filled with adventure, choices, consequences of wrong choices, danger, and wisdom gained from experience. Both boys and girls alike will enjoy this series. Loosely based on Ephesians 6:10-18, the series highlights the armor of God and its application in spiritual warfare.

Recommended for school and public libraries. The authors have also created an app for smartphones and a 365-day devotional (Unseen: The Prince Warriors 365 Devotional)

for their young readers, based on the series.

Carol R. Gehringer, CLJ

Robo Tales series / by Jill Williamson and Luke Williamson. 3.29.2017

Tinker / by Jill Williamson and Luke Williamson. (Robo Tales, 1)

Novel Kids Press ISBN 9780996294508

INT Grades 4-5 Rating: 3

Mardok and the Seven Exiles / by Jill Williamson and Luke Williamson. (Robo Tales, 2)

Novel Kids Press ISBN 9780996294522

INT Grades 4-5 Rating: 4

Award-winning author Jill Williamson and her son Luke Williamson co-author this series aimed at young readers, featuring a robotic dog.

In Tinker, 13-year-old Tinker lives with his uncle and two cousins, Grezzer and Ratch, on the planet Kitz. Although his uncle owns the repair shop, Tinker does most of the work. When the Invention Institute holds a Recycle Race, Tinker builds an airbike to compete against his cousins. They sabotage his entry, and a robot dog named Robo helps him fix his entry in time. Who will win the Race and the coveted apprenticeship at the Invention Institute?

In Mardok and the Seven Exiles, Robo flies to the moon Relo on his way to President Cassian. Cadet Riv Mardok is asked by General Gruss to hunt down the Ice Beast. He eagerly accepts the quest but finds himself trapped in a deep pit in the forest. When he calls for help, it is Robo to the rescue. Together with the other exiles, they pursue the Ice Beast, discovering who is behind the strange things happening at the Space Force Military Academy. Can they stop him before Robo flies off to the President?

Ms. Williamson and her son pen convincing stories about Robo and his adventures. It is hard to believe that a robot dog is the main character in these tales, but somehow it works. Williamson used illustrations from a number of young artists, ages 10-15.

Although self-published, these books will appeal to its intended audience. The futuristic spin on a Cinderella story (Tinker) and Snow White (Mardok and the Seven Exiles) will delight readers. In light of the Makerspace movement in libraries, this reviewer recommends Tinker for book clubs.

Recommended for public and school libraries. The third book in the series, The Tiny Cyborg, will be available in 2018.

Carol R. Gehringer,

A Kids’ Guide to America’s Bill of Rights / by Kathleen Drull; illustrations by Anna Divito. 3.27.2017

HarperCollins Publishers ISBN 9780062352316

MS Grades 5-8 Rating: 4

A Kid’s Guide to America’s Bill of Rights explains, in an understandable way within the first 20 pages, how the Bill of Rights came to be, who wrote it, and why it was needed. This is followed by 10 chapters each covering one of the first 10 Amendments. find an explanation of what the amendments are, why they’re necessary, and what court cases have occurred that have drawn on that particular amendment. The final two chapters briefly cover the 17 other amendments and discuss where the Bill of Rights went wrong.

Kathleen Krull’s work has an index and suggestions for further reading. The illustrations by Anna Divito, used throughout the book, are frequently humorous and enable students to focus on the discussion packed with anecdotes, sidebars, and case studies. The discussion leans toward an approach in seeing the need for the government to solve problems rather than more responsibility being in the hands of the individual, though most students will not recognize the liberal versus conservative approach.

Those having The Bill of Rights: The First Ten Amendments of the Constitution by David L. Hudson, Jr. (Enslow Publishers) have a fairly comparable work. Drull’s work probably enhances more the possibility of discussion.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

Explore Colonial America series / by Sarah Gilman. 3.22.2017

The First Thanksgiving / by Sarah Gilman. (Explore Colonial America)

Enslow Publishing ISBN 9780766078697

The Founding of America / by Sarah Gilman. (Explore Colonial America)

Enslow Publishing ISBN 9780766078703

MS Grades 5-8 Rating: 5

Both of these titles, part of the series Explore Colonial America, offer full-color photos, maps, and illustrations to give students an appreciation and picture of colonial life. Each title contains a glossary, timeline, index, and section listing books and websites for further reading.

In The First Thanksgiving, the story explores who the Pilgrims were as well as the Indians living in the colony. Students will learn about the hardships experienced by the Pilgrims and their relationship with the local Wampanoag Indians.

In The Founding of America, students get a close-up view of the active grassroots campaigns among the 13 American colonies to break free from England. In the course of 11 chapters, the discussion centers on the Second Continental Congress, the Continental army, a Declaration of Independence, and the new Constitution. The narrative highlighting the new nation formed enables youth to grasp the uniqueness and importance of this venture and dream, the sacrifices of many, and the bonds achieved.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ


The Hedge School / by Gloria Whelan. 3.16.2017

Bethlehem Books ISBN 9781932350524

MS Grades 7 and up Rating: 4

Padraic, 15 years old in 1735, is one of three students who are in their last year at a secret Irish school. Gloria Whelan’s The Hedge School takes place during a time in history when Roman Catholics were forbidden by law to attend or teach school or to worship in a Catholic church. But the people revered education, so they created their own schools that met under hedgerows, moving often to avoid discovery. Schoolmasters and priests alike were always in danger; people were jailed or hung at the landowners’ discretion for breaking any law, and there was no legal recourse.

Despite the desperate times, Padraic, Rose and Liam are irrepressible– full of stories of heroes of the Irish resistance to English rule and determined to enact their own rebellions. When the son of a landowner shows them a hidden way to his family’s stables, as a ploy to force Rose to give him her colt, Padraic and the resistance fighters use that knowledge to visit mischief on the hated landowner. Unfortunately, Padraic, reveling in his success, makes a hasty decision that puts everyone in danger from the law.

The hedge school is itself a strong symbol of resistance, but the central idea of the story is the weft of resistance woven through the warp of English power to determine the daily lives of the Irish peasantry. Whalen’s deft portrayal of teenage bluster and recklessness, and especially of Padraic and Rose, give life to the story. She shows Padraic’s close relationships with his family and teacher and his growth through those relationships. It is their coming to his aid without censure that helps him to realize his mistakes, learn from them, and make better decisions for his and Ireland’s future. Whelan’s mastery of complex stories is evident in her plot and inclusion of historical details that set up Padraic’s hatred of the English convincingly. However, her descriptions of the evil landowner, the selfless resistant fighter, the villainous churl, and others rely on stereotypical attitudes, dialogue, and behaviors, which dilute the emotional impact of the story.

Diane Carver Sekeres, CLJ

World War II: History’s Deadliest Conflict series / by Natalie Hyde and Kelly Cochrane. 3.15.2017

Significant People of World War II / by Natalie Hyde. (World War II: History’s Deadliest Conflict)
Crabtree Publishing ISBN 9780778721154

Significant Battles of World War II / by Kelly Cochrane. (World War II: History’s Deadliest Conflict)

Crabtree Publishing ISBN 9780778721147

MS Grades 5-8 Rating: 5

For grades 5 to 8, the series World War II: History’s Deadliest Conflict looks at this worldwide conflict involving alliances between political leaders and military forces from many different countries. Each title, written at guided reading level U, offers a section with Further Reading and Websites, Glossary, and Index. Photographs accompany the text, and timelines and maps make it easier to follow the narrative.

Natalie Hyde’s Significant People of World War II looks at key figures involved during this war. Brief biographies give details of the lives and actions of political leaders Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman, Stalin, Hirohito and Tojo; military leaders Rommel, Goring, Conitz, Dowding, Pound, MacArthur, and Patton; as well as flying aces, code breakers, and activists.

Kelly Cochrane’s Significant Battles of World War II follows the significant battles over the course of the war. European countries, their colonies and allies, such as the United States and Canada, supplied forces for battles. The focus continues on the five parts of the world where the fighting took place: western and eastern Europe, North Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, and Asia. With advances in technology since WWI, more destructive fighting occurred on land and on sea. The compelling book explores how victory was won or lost in famous conflicts such as the Battle of the Atlantic, Germany’s Blitzkrieg, the Battle of Britain, Dieppe, Paris, Stalingrad, Berlin, Midway, Pearl Harbor, and the dropping of the atomic bombs.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ





The Great Shelby Holmes / by Elizabeth Eulberg. 3.14.2017

Bloomsbury     ISBN 9781681190518

MS     Grades 3-7     Rating: 4

Army brat John Watson thinks writing fiction was more exciting than his life–until he moves to Harlem and meets Shelby Holmes. After Shelby’s science experiment interrupts John’s moving day, his curiosity and desire for friendship get the better of him. After tagging along with Shelby on an errand, John realizes that his scientist neighbor is actually a junior sleuth–and no amateur at that. It seems like all of New York City knows her name!

Because of Shelby’s reputation, it’s no surprise that when Daisy (the award-winning dog) goes missing, Detective Holmes is on the case. Shelby is no people-person, and Daisy’s family’s emotions are running high before the next competition. She needs outside help to solve the case. But Shelby doesn’t have friends; she has contacts. Can Shelby find the pooch on her own before the big show? Or will she need to trust John in order to break the case?

Children of all ages will love Elizabeth Eulberg’s version of Sherlock Holmes. With a new twist on the classic story, Eulberg comedically sends these two characters to middle school. Just like Sherlock, Shelby is socially awkward and likes to work alone. John, like Dr. Watson, follows the detective out of curiosity. Their adventure leads them to the truth of friendship.

Thanks to John’s personal and journal-like tone in narrating the story, kids will get to experience the case and the peculiar Shelby Holmes up close. Kids can follow John’s thoughts and guess who was the pup-snatcher. The only problem is that Shelby is way more perceptive than John, so readers won’t get all the clues. But it’s still fun for them to guess who the culprit is based on the clues available.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

America’s Tea Parties: Not One but Four! :  Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia / by Marisa Moss. 3.9.2017

Abrams Books     ISBN 9781419718748

INT     Grades 4-7     Rating: 4

Marisa Moss’s America’s Tea Parties: Not One but Four is a book that will certainly provide new and illuminating information to the reader. The text not only covers how the issue of taxation led to the American Revolution, but it also discusses three lesser known demonstrations involving tea in addition to the famous Boston Tea Party. The reader will encounter names with which they are probably familiar but also a few names that they may have never heard of before. For example, while John and Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and King George III all make appearances, the reader will also learn about Christopher Gadsden and other lesser known historical figures.

The book discusses the tactics used by the colonists to fight what they perceived as an oppressive tax on tea. Without representation in Parliament, the colonists believed a tax–no matter how small–to be an act of tyranny, thus establishing a belief in the right to demonstrate.

A timeline at the end of the book helps keep events in their chronological order. The illustrations and sidebars add to the artistry of the book as well as provide more information. The sidebars, while certainly informative, sometimes take up a whole page or more and somewhat interrupt the flow of the main text.

This book would likely be a very excellent title for a parent and child to share together, and is recommended.  

Michael E. Wilhelm, CLJ

12 Incredible Facts about the Cuban Missile Crisis / by Sue Bradford Edwards. (Turning Points in US History) 3.7.2017

12-Story Library ISBN 9781632351272

INT Grades 3-6 Rating: 4

Part of the Turning Points in US History Series, 12 Incredible Facts about the Cuban Missile Crisis looks at central figures involved in this critical moment in history and includes a timeline that enables students to grasp its significance. Included also are sidebars and questions that highlight what the Cuban Missile Crisis was and to what extent it affected the world. Third to fifth graders will find the discussion understandable.

As with all 12-Story Library books, the publisher’s website features updates on this subject, along with videos, interactive maps, graphics, and live content to research the Crisis. The title references 12 facts but, literally, this is misleading as it is really 12 chapters offering a multitude of facts. Most of the illustrations in this title are black and white and sidebars are shaded in green and orange. Content and discussion is of high quality.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ