Monthly Archives: November 2016


23587115Title: Spontaneous
Author: Aaron Starmer
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 8th grade and up
Pages: 368
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Starmer

Synopsis: Mara Carlyle’s senior year at Covington High in suburban New Jersey is going on as normally as could be expected, until the day—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to spontaneously combust without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason—Terrorism! Drugs! Homosexuality! Government conspiracy!—while the seniors continue to pop like balloons.

Review: I wanted to like this book. It was an interesting (?) concept, but ultimately fell flat. If you’re into dark humor, you’ll definitely find some moments funny/laugh out loud worthy. The book itself isn’t bad, but the frustrating part of me was you get to the end of the book and there’s no explanation as to why the seniors are spontaneously combusting. There are tons of theories, most which are found false, but no actual reason. So, I was left with way more questions than answers. Why only the seniors? Will it stop when they graduate? Will the incoming seniors face the same fate? UGH. I will also say that this was a book club selection and most of the teens felt the same way. They were basically disappointed in the book/wanted more.

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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Funny, Teen


Nobody Likes a Goblin

Title: Nobody Likes a Goblin
Author: Ben Hatke
Series: N/A
Recommended for: Ages 4-8
Pages: 36
Call Number/Link:  E Hakte, B (We don’t currently own it, but hopefully Janet will order it!)

Synopsis: Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton—leaving Goblin all alone!

It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.

Review: This is a super cute book that I think kids will enjoy. I love that it was kind of a reverse-adventure. Usually the adventures are the heroes and the goblins/trolls are the bad guys, but this time it’s the opposite. Both the goblin and the troll were just minding their own business when the adventures come in and stole their items. And really all the goblin really cared about was his friend the skeleton! And while most of the world doesn’t like goblins, he find others along the way to help him in his quest to save Skeleton.

The illustrations are nice as well. If you’ve read Ben’s other works (Zita the Spacegirl) it’s on par with those.

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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Funny, Picture Books, Uncategorized


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Because of an Acorn


Title:   Because of an Acorn
Author:   Lola Schaefer & Adam Schaefer
Illustrator:   Frann Preston-Gannon
Recommended for:    kindergarten-third graders, older preschoolers who aren’t too sensitive (and/or observant) 
Pages:   unpaged
Call Number/Link:   E 577.3 SCH

Rating:  ***




Because of an acorn, a tree grows, a bird nests, a seed becomes a flower. Enchanting illustrations show the vital connections between the layers of an ecosystem in this magical book. Wander down the forest path to learn how every tree, flower, plant, and animal connect to one another in spiraling circles of life.


This book uses minimal text and detailed illustrations to teach children basic information about a woodland ecosystem.  If used in a classroom, the teacher would need to provide additional explanation for children to actually understand the concept.

The online catalog lists the book as being for ages 5-10 and grades K-3.  It seemed like a book for younger children the first time I read it, but I am less certain of that after looking at the illustrations more closely.  This should not be a shock considering that the book is about the food cycle.  Observant children might notice the bird with an insect in its mouth, a snake approaching a chipmunk, and a hawk capturing a snake.  The text never mentions why some animals are grabbing smaller animals and the animals are not shown eating their prey, so I am unsure whether it could be used for Preschool Storytimes or Toddler Times with a tree or nature theme.

This book is easy nonfiction but reads like a picture book.




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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Non-Fiction, Picture Books


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Heroes for my Daughter


Title:   Heroes for my Daughter
Author:   Brad Meltzer
Series:   —
Recommended for:   parents and teachers to share with children, independent reading fourth grade to adulthood
Pages:   115 p.
Call Number/Link:  J 920,02 MEL

Rating:  ****



Meltzer presents short overviews of extraordinary heroes and role models for girls. The result is a diverse set of individuals from across time and from all walks of life.  One thing they all have in common is that they were ordinary people who became extraordinary.

Metzer was inspired by the birth of his daughter to create this collection, but this book is appropriate for children, parents, teachers, and anyone looking for inspiration. The sixty featured figures represent the spectacular potential we all have within us to change the world. The format allows for reading straight through or at one’s own pace, and includes photos, quotes, brief biographies, and vignettes that highlight the single moment that made each person great. The diverse heroes included in the book are women, men, historical, contemporary, athletes, actors, inventors, politicians, and so many more.

People profiled include Marie Curie, Audrey Hepburn, Helen Keller, Christopher Reeve, Carol Burnett, Sacajawea, Theodore Roosevelt, Julia Child, Stevie Wonder, Susan B. Anthony, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Tina Turner, Wangari Maathai, Agatha Christie, Leonardo da Vinci, Sojourner Truth, Branch Rickey, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahatma Gandhi, Mary Shelley, Billie Jean King, Temple Grandin, Rosa Parks, Jane Goodall, The Dalai Lama, Abraham Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall, Dorothea Lange, Sally Ride, Benjamin Franklin, Wilma Rudolph.


This is a very nice book and would be a good choice for a teacher or parent who wants to read a profile or two a day to children.  It could also work as a readaloud to teens or adults.  And, of course, it is a good choice for independent reading for readers, ages 9 and up, who enjoy biographies and inspirational stories.

The profiles are brief enough that it is not a first choice for kids doing biography reports, although it could provide supplementary information.  It would be an excellent choice for a family history project.

The author wrote a companion book titled Heroes for my Son.





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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Juv, Non-Fiction


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The Great Pet Escape


Title:   The Great Pet Escape
Author:   Victoria Jamieson
Series:   Pets on the Loose
Recommended for:   early chapter book readers, children ages 4 and up as a readaloud, reluctant readers
Pages:   63 p.
Call Number/Link:   GN J JAMIESON, V.

Rating:   ^^^^






GW, a class pet at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School wants OUT . . . and he, the deceptively cute hamster in the second-grade classroom, is just the guy to lead a mass escape. But when he finally escapes and goes to find his former partners in crime, Barry and Biter, he finds that they actually LIKE being class pets. Impossible!

Just as GW gets Barry and Biter to agree to leave with him, a mouse named Harriet and her many mouse minions get in their way. What follows is class pet chaos guaranteed to make readers giggle.


This book is very funny.  We’ll need extra copies once the kids discover it.
Imagine this: a hamster who has invented a sunflower seed catapult, a rodent catapult transportation device and recently completed work on the Hairy Houdini Escape-O-Matic.
Why?  He has been trapped in a terrible prison (known as a second grade classroom) for 3 months, 2 weeks and 1 day.  He wants FREEDOM and plans to escape with his best friends Barry and Biter.  Things don’t go exactly as planned….
This is the first book in a series.  Book two, The Great Art Caper, is being published in June 2017.
Amazon lists the age range as 6-10 years and grade level as grades 1-5.
Here is a comment from a SLJ review by Kiera Parrott:
VERDICT  Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey’s works, Cyndi Marko’s “Kung Pow Chicken” series and Geoffrey Hayes’s “Benny and Penny” books.
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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Adventure, Funny, Graphic Novels


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Is That Wise, Pig?


Title:   Is That Wise, Pig?
Author:   Jan Thomas
Series:   —  
Recommended for:  preschoolers, grades K-2, toddlers
Pages:   32
Call Number/Link:  E Thomas, J.

Rating:   ****






Cow and Pig are helping Mouse make a delicious soup, but Pig keeps trying to add ingredients that don’t make sense! Mouse is making a yummy pot of soup and Cow and Pig are helping add ingredients. Mouse adds four tomatoes, Cow adds five potatoes, and Pig adds…six galoshes?! Is that wise, Pig? Young readers will be so busy giggling at Pig’s antics, they won’t even realize they are counting, too. A twist ending and irresistible characters will make this a favorite read-aloud.


I loved this one.  It made me laugh!  It would work well for Preschool Storytime or Toddler Time.  It could also work well as a readaloud for kids in kindergarten and first grade.  (And for first and second graders to read on their own.)

I was having so much fun that I didn’t remember later that it was a counting book.






**mostly written in October 2016


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Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Funny, Picture Books


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Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The History of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA


Title: Blood, Bullets, and Bones: the Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA
Author: Bridget Heos
Recommended for: 12th Grade and Up
Pages: 264
Call Number/Link:  J 363.25 HEO

Synopsis: “Blood, Bullets, and Bones provides young readers with a fresh and fascinating look at the ever-evolving science of forensics. Since the introduction of DNA testing, forensic science has been in the forefront of the public’s imagination, thanks especially to popular television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But forensic analysis has been practiced for thousands of years. Ancient Chinese detectives studied dead bodies for signs of foul play, and in Victorian England, officials used crime scene photography and criminal profiling to investigate the Jack the Ripper murders. In the intervening decades, forensic science has evolved to use the most cutting-edge, innovative techniques and technologies. In this book, acclaimed author Bridget Heos uses real-life cases to tell the history of modern forensic science, from the first test for arsenic poisoning to fingerprinting, firearm and blood spatter analysis, DNA evidence, and all the important milestones in between. By turns captivating and shocking, Blood, Bullets, and Bones demonstrates the essential role forensic science has played in our criminal justice system[.]”– Provided by publisher.

My Thoughts: Blood, Bullets, and Bones is a curious book. In terms of reading level, it would be accessible for middle schoolers, or even advanced elementary students. In terms of content, however, this book lands squarely in the advanced high school or post-secondary category. Blood, Bullets, and Bones details the history of forensic science, illustrating many of the important scientific advances with actual cases.
These crimes, including those of Jack the Ripper and other serial killers, are described in somewhat graphic detail and some include descriptions of rape cases; arson; adultery, and other inappropriate relationships, one of which involves a 34-year-old man’s inappropriate relationship with a (later murdered) teenaged girl. Some of the other murder cases involve young teenagers, either as rape and/or murder victims, perpetrators, or both.
Much of the scientific and historic information in this book may be useful for academic study. Moreover, footnotes are plentiful, and there is an extensive bibliography. That being said, I would have a difficult time recommending this to anyone but an advanced high school or even college student pursuing a career in forensic criminology, as the disturbing content will almost certainly be too much for younger readers.

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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized


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