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

Super-Incredible Animals series / by Nancy Furstinger, Carol Hand and Tammy Gagne. 2.20.2017

12 Super-Gigantic Animals You Need to Know / by Nancy Furstinger. (Super-Incredible Animals)
12 Story Library ISBN 978162351388
12 Super-Poisonous Animals You Need to Know / by Carol Hand. (Super-Incredible Animals)
12 Story Library ISBN 9781632351401
12 Super-Fast Animals You Need to Know / by Tammy Gagne. (Super-Incredible Animals)
12 Story Library ISBN 9781632351371
INT Grades 3-6 Rating: 5

Each of the titles in the Super-Incredible Animals series presents 12 amazing animals in special categories. Kids can learn about 12 gigantic, poisonous, or fast animals with each title featuring information about the animals’ life cycles, habitats, and traits. Full-color spreads offer fun facts and information that will tend to hold the interest of children in grades 3 to 6. An appealing feature of these spreads is that boxes, photos, illustrations, and varying headings are in color with font in varying colors.

Every 12 Story Library book is enhanced by its website, 12storylibrary.com, featuring regular updates by the editorial educators. Videos, interactive maps, graphics, and live content feeds help youth go beyond the book to research a topic of interest. The glossy photos, inserts, and highlights on the page seek to present lively text to catch and maintain a reader’s interest.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

Next Generation Energy series / by Nancy Dickmann and Megan Kopp. 2.15.2017

Energy from Water: Hydroelectric, Tidal, and Wave Power / by Nancy Dickmann. (Next Generation Energy)
Crabtree Publishing ISBN 9780778723806

MS Grades 5-8 Rating: 5

Energy from Wind: Wind Farming / by Megan Kopp. (Next Generation Energy)

Crabtree Publishing ISBN 9780778719830

MS Grades 5-8 Rating: 4

Both of these interesting and well-presented volumes from the juvenile environmental education series, Next Generation Energy, are written at guided reading level S. Both titles in the series present action choices and preferred green options for middle grade students age 10 and up.

For centuries, falling water has been used in parts of the world to create energy to run grinding stones at mills and irrigation systems for crops. Nancy Dickmann’s Energy from Water shows how the use of this clean form of energy, called hydroelectricity, is being expanded to help us build a more sustainable future. Readers focus on how other forms of water-based energy, such as energy from ocean waves and tides, are being harnessed and used to help create electricity to power our homes, offices and factories.

Megan Kopp’s Energy from Wind discusses wind power as a clean, sustainable, and renewable form of energy. The chapter “Power Up” invites its readers to think it through, ask and answer questions, and design wind turbines, testing location distances from the wind source and using different blade sizes to see which one works best. A handy Glossary and Learning More section lists books and website resources for inquiring readers.

Both titles are filled with informational graphs, maps, and charts, as well as color-shaded sidebar features such as Fast Forward (where, Energy From Water notes, hydroelectric power is dependent on a consistent supply of running water) and Rewind (promotes comparative, critical thinking about the early hydroelectric plants compared to the most recent). The student is asked to make convincing arguments for their created answer to questions about difficult choices, with regard to environmental impact. There are positive messages regarding what students and young people can do to promote earth protection, such as living and eating green, and redirecting choices towards sustainable changes.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ




Making Mistakes on Purpose: Sequel to Ms. Rapscott’s Girls / by Elise Primavera. 2.13.2017

Dial Books     ISBN 9780803738249

INT     Grades 3–6     Rating: 4

Author/illustrator Elise Primavera pens a sequel about girls at an unusual boarding school. The girls’ parents love them but are too busy to teach them life lessons, so the headmistress teaches them using silly lessons and adventures.

In Making Mistakes on Purpose, Bea, Mildred, Fay, Annabelle, and Dahlia return for their second term at Great Rapscott School for Girls of Busy Parents. Since Dahlia was lost last year and ended up at the Mr. Everbest Academy for Boys, she is careful to follow directions this time. However, Fay goes to the wrong address because she doesn’t follow directions. Ms. Rapscott, their headmistress, teaches the girls How to Get to the Top after they land at the Bottom of the Barrel. The girls learn how to Make a Bad Day Good, as well as How to Celebrate a Birthday. Making mistakes and learning from them becomes their biggest adventure.

Elise Primavera provides delightful black-and-white illustrations throughout the text. They add to the whimsy of the story. Readers will enjoy Ms. Rapscott as she teaches the girls who never learned to peel a hard-boiled egg, or take matters into their own hands. The story inspires thinking and learning to fail in order to succeed. More plot development than character development, Making Mistakes on Purpose is a delightful book to read. The ending leaves one wondering what will happen in the next semester.

Recommended for school and public libraries. Fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society (Trenton Stewart), Mary Poppins (P. L. Travers), and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (Betsy MacDonald) will enjoy this book.

Carol R. Gehringer, worthy2read.wordpress.com

Vango series / by Timothee de Fombelle. 2.8.2017

Vango: Between Sky and Earth / by Timothee de Fombelle.

Candlewick Press ISBN 9780763687816

A Prince Without a Kingdom / Timothee de Fombelle.

Candlewick Press ISBN 9780763691035

HS Grades 7 and up Rating: 4

Translated from the French, this duology revolves around Vango Romano, a young man with mysterious origins, who was washed up on the shore of a remote island off the coast of Sicily, Italy, at the age of three. Political intrigue, corruption, murder, revenge, mystery, adventure, suspense, heroism, loyalty, and a dash of romance are skillfully blended together into this fast-paced series.

Vango: Between Sky and Earth is set against the backdrop of the Nazi rise to power. The story begins in 1934. Nineteen-year-old Vango is minutes away from being ordained as a priest when the service is interrupted by the arrival of the police, who are in pursuit of Vango. Vango scales the walls of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to escape while also dodging bullets from an unknown assailant. After Vango discovers he is wanted for murder, he embarks on a cross-continental journey to prove his innocence and to find out the truth about his heritage. A timeline of events pertinent to Vango’s life and a map of where he spent his childhood is included in the book.

A Prince Without a Kingdom is set against the backdrop of World War II and leads off with a cast of characters, a brief recap of the first book, and a flashback from Vango’s life as a teenager. Then the novel moves forward to 1936. Vango is still searching for answers to his heritage, which has led him to hunting for a man he believes is not only partly responsible for a deadly attack on his parents but who also knows the secret of his identity. Vango’s pursuit leads him to cross paths with an old trusted friend from his past, who is on a dangerous mission of his own. Vango ends up embroiled in more than one dangerous adventure with assailants hot on his trail who would like nothing better than to put an end to Vango’s endeavors.

Timothee de Fombelle has included a multitude of fictional characters intermixed with real historical figures and events. The Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg airships are key elements in the storylines with black and white pictures of the airships included in the books. Flashbacks are interwoven into the two books providing readers with the backstory of Vango’s childhood.

Dianne Woodman, CLJ

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest / A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue / by J.A. Myhre. 1.18.2017

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest / by J.A. Myhre.
New Leaf Press     ISBN 9781942572084
INT     Grades 3-7     Rating: 4

A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue / by J.A. Myhre.
New Leaf Press     ISBN 9781942572695
INT     Grades 3-7     Rating: 3

A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest tells the story of Mu, an orphaned school boy who is the laughingstock of his village because his uncle makes him do “girl’s work.” On his way to do a morning chore, he meets a talking chameleon. This creature tells Mu that his quest soon will begin and he will be free. When Mu is sold by his guardians, he must rely on his animal guide to lead him away from the dangers of the forest, animals, rebels, and himself. When the chameleon whispers truth in Mu’s ear, he must relinquish his plan to find the life he’s always dreamed about.

Kiisa grew up hearing the fantastic tale of her brother’s return to their family. In A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue, Kiisa has her own animal-guided adventure. When she is sent to boarding school at a young age, her father hides a talking bird in her suitcase. The bird flies out of her suitcase and makes Kiisa the joke of the school. Kiisa tries to blend into the crowd, but when rebels come to the compound and kidnap a classmate, Kiisa believes she must charge into danger to save the girl who bullied her. Can she set aside her animosity, survive the jungle, and make it home to her family?

J. A. Myhre’s chapter books hold wonderful folklore-like adventures. Detailed plot sketches and descriptions of the landscapes allow elementary readers’ imaginations to run wild through the African forests and plains. With natural and supernatural danger leaving cliff hangers at the end of every chapter, children will be flipping pages until the end.

Delve into African (Luwendigo) dialect, culture, and legends with these tales. Throughout these stories, readers also will see reflections of biblical stories, such as the prodigal son, Joseph’s coat of many colors, and Jesus’ sacrifice. Dark presences of violence, death, and sin weave into these stories, but the animal guides help characters and readers learn biblical and moral lessons in spite of the evil forces.

Rebecca Schriner, CLJ

Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment / by B. J. Best. 1.16.2017

Cavendish Square ISBN 9781502605306

MS Grades 4-7 Rating: 5

This discussion book, for grades 4 to 7, uses primary source documents to highlight the issues integral to the place of slavery in the United States. Though Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Thirteenth Amendment looks at the process of officially ending slavery with the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, students get a feel for who Lincoln was as a leader and his role in ending slavery. Chapter Four, highlighting Lincoln’s legacy, gives positive momentum to consider how the nation needed to heal and rebuild after the Civil War and how this was accomplished through the Reconstruction.

A Chronology, Glossary, Further Information and Bibliography, and an Index provide outlines to help the reader grasp the significance of the fight for emancipation and the reaction of various parties relating to the meaning and progress of the abolition of slavery.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ




The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New / by Marty Machowski, illustrated by Andy McGuire. 1.3.2017

New Growth Press ISBN 9781942572282

INT Grades 1-6 Rating: 5

Though geared toward and intended to be used by and with children grades 1 to 6, The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New is a beginner’s theology book that will likely be treasured and used by parents, family members, and friends. Parts may also appeal to teens. The 8.5”x8.5,” inch-thick picture book uses story and art to make scriptural truth understandable and digestible to children. A glossary highlights important Bible words, and each of the 71 topics is listed as a question with a brief scriptural reference to offer a quick setting.

The many beautiful drawings cover basic points of the Christian faith. With 71 topics covered, there is much to savor in multiple settings and to come back to again and again. One plus in the discussion is that the Christian faith comes across as one gift, not as something subject to division among the different Protestant denominations. When pages such as those concentrating on baptism mention that different denominations have different views on when baptism should occur, it notes that all agree that salvation is through Jesus. Each of the topics appears on two to four pages of text and illustrations. Another plus is that, incorporated within the illustration pages are multiple Scripture references as evidence and clarification for each point. The range of discussion covers the theology of God, of People, of Sin, of the Promise and the Law, of Christ, of the Holy Spirit, of Adoption into God’s Family, of Change, of the Church, of the End Times and of God’s Word.

There is also a companion music CD to The Ology by SovereignGraceKids that offers worship music for the family. A helpful resource for older children would be Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce A. Ware.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel / by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. 1.2.2017

Peachtree ISBN 9781561459124

PRI Grades 1-5 Rating: 4

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel refers to a special navy ship, the USS New York. Following the events of September 11, 2001, the governor of New York gave the Navy a steel beam, weighing seven and a half tons, that was once inside one of the World Trade Towers. The beam was driven to a foundry in Louisiana where chippers, grinders, painters, and polishers worked on the beam. The construction metal workers toiled throughout Hurricane Katrina to turn it into the bow of the ship with the motto “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.” Thus, the USS New York’s story reveals how something remarkable can emerge from devastating events like September 11 and the Hurricane. Facts and figures are presented after the main narrative.

Thomas Gonzalez’s full-page illustrations are powerful, with every page arrayed in bold palette colors. The tones convey moods and action–as for example, reds and yellows and orange move across the metalworking furnace, and black and gray clouds billow from the towers and streams of morning light radiate the hull of the ship.

The images of destruction are shown respectfully but with flair. Author Janet Nolan’s narrative offers only a few sentences about September 11 and Hurricane Katrina so children may need more detail on both of these events to truly grasp the significance of the story.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

Heroes of History series / by Janet & Geoff Benge. 12.30.2016

William Bradford: Plymouth’s Rock / by Janet & Geoff Benge. (Heroes of History)

YWAM Publishing ISBN 9781624860928

John Flynn: Into the Never Never / by Janet & Geoff Benge. (Heroes of History)

YWAM Publishing ISBN 9781576588987

MS Grades 5-9 Rating: 5

Readers in grades 5 to 9 have a great opportunity in these titles, by husband and wife writing team Janet & Geoff Benge, to gain a close up-front introduction to William Bradford and John Flynn as real people who responded to the situation they found themselves in and what God was calling them to do. These touching chronicles are written as narratives so that youth will be able to understand the atmosphere and consequences of the situations and decisions that both William Bradford and John Flynn found themselves in and in which they grew by accepting the challenge of perseverance and leadership.

In William Bradford: Plymouth’s Rock, one explores 17th century America, what the New World colonization involved, and who the Pilgrims at Plymouth were, gaining an overview of Puritan history, all of which contributed to the cornerstone of a great nation. Through William Bradford’s steady leadership, the people of Plymouth Colony endured with their descendants, forming the boundaries of a great country.

In John Flynn: Into the Never Never, the reader gets a glimpse into the early decades of the 20th century and the settings of Australia and Oceania, and learns what the Gilded Age entailed and the role of missionaries and evangelists. While studying to be a minister, John Flynn wanted to use his training to help people in practical ways. In this search he discovered that his mission was to serve inside his own country–the vast outback or Never Never, where life-and-death decisions were a constant experience.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ