Author Archives: Laura Yanchick

Spinning Starlight

SpinningStarlight-678x1024Title: Spinning Starlight
Author: R.C. Lewis
Recommended for: Middle and High School
Pages: 327 
Call Number/Link:  TEEN FICTION LEWIS, R 



Synopsis:  Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen must save her brothers in this outer-space retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans.

Review:  I picked this up because I loved the cover, but I wasn’t quite sure I would like something about an “heiress and paparazzi darling.”  Thankfully, I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings, especially if there is something special about them.  This is a futuristic (and other-planetary) sci-fi that addresses the issues of genius, the supernatural, the meaning of life, the value of the written word, and specialization vs. generalization.  Mostly, however, it is a story about a girl who loves her brothers so deeply that she is willing to risk everything to save them.  The connections to The Wild Swan were well done, but did not interfere with the world building.  There is romance,  but I let my 8 year old read the book.  I don’t know if she will like it, but there is nothing objectionable in it.  Recommended for fans of Cinder.


Sword and Verse

22065067Title: Sword and Verse
Author: Kathy MacMillan
Series: First in a trilogy
Recommended for: Jr High and High School (and that Jr High girl who wanted sex scenes)
Pages: 376

Synopsis:  When Raisa, a slave since being kidnapped as a child, is chosen to become a tutor and learn a secret language, she is torn between her feelings for Prince Mati and her desire to help free her people.



Good points:
Not very many battle scenes
A focus on the importance of information and language
No love triangle
A moral quandary that would be a struggle to figure out
Mythology subplot
Nice world-building

Bad points:
Not very much action
Too much focus on romance (and quite a bit of non-graphic sex) to the detriment of the story

Overall, I recommend it to the fantasy reader who doesn’t read fantasy for the battle scenes.

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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


Hands off, Harry!

Tihands offtle: Hands Off, Harry!
Author:  Rosemary Wells
Series: Kindergators
Recommended for: Preschool to maybe 1st grade
Pages: 32
Call Number/Link:  E WELLS


Harry has trouble keeping his hands off his classmates until Tina thinks of the perfect piece of gym equipment to teach him about personal space.

The incomparable Rosemary Wells has created a series of books to help with issues that might come up in a classroom setting–preschool or kindergarten.  This book is one of the few books I have seen that discusses strategies for kids who touch other people and their things.  It is a funny story, but it teaches a lesson and gives action steps.  It is also much more nuanced than a title like “Hands are Not for Hitting.”  I get questions about issues like this a lot, and this book is very helpful.The only other book in the series currently appears to be Miracle Melts Down about temper tantrums in the classroom.

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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Funny, Manner/Behaviors, Picture Books


The iPhone that Saved George Washington

iphone GWTitle:  The iPhone that Saved George Washington
Author: David Potter
Series: The Left Behinds
Recommended for: 4th-7th grade
Pages: 344
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION POTTER, D.



Synopsis:  Three students, Mel, Bev, and Brandon, left behind at their prestigious school during Christmas break, find themselves in 1776 New Jersey with General George Washington dead at their feet, and twelve-year-old Mel must find a way, using his iPhone, to set things right.

Review:  This is like the Magic Tree House for older kids.  The iPhone has an app that sends them back in time, and hilarity ensues.  Kids will learn about history, the adventure is madcap and the narrator is witty.  My biggest quibble is that I got bored of them using the iPhone to befuddle people from history.  I didn’t want to hear them explain the iPhone any more times, and the sequence where they tried to recharge the battery with Benjamin Franklin was kind of ludicrous.  For me, the action picked up once they actually took part in changing history back to where it should be and used ingenuity instead of cheap iPhone tricks.  At the end of the story, they discover that this is all a dastardly plot to create mayhem, and more adventures will be forthcoming.  A trilogy is planned.

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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Adventure, Funny, Historical, Juv


Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown

freedomTitle: Freedom Song:  The Story of Henry “Box” Brown
Author: Sally M Walker
Recommended for: 4-8 years old
Pages: 32
Call Number/Link:  E WALKE 

Synopsis:  Henry Brown copes with slavery by singing, but after his wife and children are sold away he is left with only his freedom song, which gives him strength when friends put him in a box and mail him to a free state.

As we have had a lot of people from children’s lit classes coming in and asking for historical fiction picture books, I really wanted to give them the highly acclaimed Henry’s Freedom Box.  Unfortunately, this assignment was too little, too late, and we weeded the book because it hadn’t gone out in years.  I was delighted to find out that we had another book on the same topic that had avoided that fate!

This fictionalized true story is sensational.  There is a transcribed letter at the end which is a historical document outlining Henry Brown’s escape.  There is artistry in the storytelling, using songs as a device to drive the story.  It is too long for a preschool audience or for a storytime, but for a one on one readaloud or for use in a classroom, this book is a gripping way to tell a real story.

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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Sound of Kwanzaa

Title: The Soukwanzaand of Kwanzaa
Author: Dimitrea Tokunbo
Recommended for: Preschool to 1st grade
Pages: 32
Call Number/Link:  E 394.2612 TOK 

Synopsis:  This chant-like text explains the meaning of each candle lit for Kwanzaa. Each word is explained with the meaning as well as an example of what a person might do to celebrate that day.

Our primary audience for Kwanzaa books are preschool teachers who are talking about the holiday to people who do not celebrate.  While they need to convey information, they also need something that is a good read aloud. The repeating refrain should help drive the presentation of this book.  Unfortunately, the pronunciations of the presumably Swahili theme words is only included in the glossary, rather than within the text itself.  Teachers will need to practice ahead of time to be able to master this book, but of the choices, this book is appropriate for preschoolers.


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Daisy Gets Lost

51Xud0O2heL__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Daisy Gets Lost
Author: Chris Raschka
Series: Sequel to A Ball for Daisy
Recommended for: A cuddle session, Parent and Child together
Pages: 32
Call Number/Link:  E RASCH 

A young dog experiences the fear of being lost and the joys of being found when she becomes separated from her owner.

When Julia cried at Daisy’s dejection at her popped ball in A Ball for Daisy (a Caldecott Winner), I knew that we had to read the follow-up.  Read isn’t quite the right word, since the book is nearly wordless.  All the communication is done through broad strokes that demonstrate Daisy’s emotions as she chases a squirrel and loses her owner.  We were able to guess how Daisy felt, and talk about what Daisy should do when she got lost.  Julia wasn’t as emotionally invested in this story, maybe because she knew that Daisy couldn’t possibly stay lost, but she knew the ball might be popped forever.  I suggest this for fans of the art of Mo Willems, since so much emotion is conveyed with some minimal art.  Beautiful!  And since it isn’t a Caldecott winner, it won’t get as much play as A Ball for Daisy.

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Posted by on September 25, 2015 in Picture Books, Uncategorized, Wordless