Author Archives: Sheila

Who We Are! All about being the same and being different

Jacket[1] (2)

Title: Who We Are! All about being the same and being different
Author: Robie H. Harris
Series: Let’s Talk About You and Me
Recommended for: K- 2nd grade
Pages: 40
Call Number/Link:  E 158.2 HAR

Synopsis: Join Nellie, Gus, baby Jake, and their parents at Funland as they go on rides, watch performers, and play games along with many other children and grown-ups. As they enjoy their excursion, they notice that people are the same as one another in lots of ways, and different in lots of ways too. Accessible, humorous, family-filled illustrations; conversations between Gus and Nellie; and straightforward text come together to help children realize why it’s important to treat others the way they want to be treated and the way you want to be treated whether a person is a lot like you or different from you, a good friend or someone you have just met or seen for the first time. (from the catalog)

Review:  I had mixed feelings about this book.  I loved the illustrations throughout the entire book. They showed all types of families who are from all different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, as well as some people with physical challenges. The text discusses how people are basically the same even though they are different in many ways.  It describes many ways people are different.  Unfortunately the text on each page goes on and on and on.  It would make a great read aloud for kids if it had only 1/3 of the words!  You could use the illustrations to start conversations about differences.  Currently it is too long and very boring.  But the pictures are fantastic!


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The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The story of inventor George Ferris



Title: The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: the story of inventor George Ferris
Author: Betsy Harvey Kraft
Recommended for: Ages 5 to 9
Pages: 42
Call Number/Link:  E B FERRIS, G

Synopsis: The World’s Fair in Chicago, 1893, was to be a spectacular event: architects, musicians, artists, and inventors worked on special exhibits to display the glories of their countries. But the Fair’s planners wanted something really special, something on the scale of the Eiffel Tower, which had been constructed for France’s fair three years earlier. At last, engineer George Ferris had an idea–a crazy, unrealistic, gigantic idea. He would construct a twenty-six-story tall observation wheel. The planners didn’t think it could be done. They called it a ‘monstrosity.’ It wouldn’t be safe. But George fought for his design. Finally, in December 1892, with only four months to go until the fair, George was given permission to build his wheel. He had to fight the tight schedule, bad weather, and general disapproval. Against all odds, the Ferris Wheel turned out to be the talk of the Fair, and proof that dreaming big dreams could pay off. Today, George’s Ferris Wheel is an icon of adventure and amusement throughout the world.

“The writing is crisp, clear, and descriptive, moving the story along at a quick pace. . .The book’s strength are the dramatic, mixed-media illustrations, which capture the enormity of Ferris’s wheel and its spectacular appearance when lit up at night, that steal the show. . .A strong addition to book collections dealing with inventors and inventions and useful for discussing how written texts and illustrations work together.” ―School Library Journal, starred review

I included the review from School Library Journal because I thought it said it all. I found it interesting and informative without getting bogged down in too many details. I learned many things from this book. This could spark the creative juices of any child who is an aspiring engineer.

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Posted by on February 26, 2016 in Non-Fiction, Picture Books


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Stay Where You Are & Then Leave



Title: Stay Where You Are & Then Leave

Author: John Boyne
Series: N/A

Recommended for: Grades 3 thru 8
Pages: 245
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION BOYNE, J.

Synopsis: The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight; but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission. While shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie realizes his father is in a hospital close by; a hospital treating soldiers with shell shock. Alfie isn’t sure what shell shock is, but he is determined to rescue his father.


Alfie’s journey from an innocent 5 year-old to a 9 year-old child of the war is very interesting.  In some ways he has become wise beyond his years, and in other ways he is very much a young child.  His desire to help support his mother is very mature, as is the way he decides to do it. His determination to find his father and bring him home is admirable but unrealistic. This book might be a challenge for some kids because it mentions things that would be unknown here due to the different country in which the story occurs and the time period.  It discusses conscientious objectors and internment and touches on the horrors of war.  I did find it interesting, and I would recommend it as realistic fiction. But I think, from an adult perspective, the ending was too easy and not realistic.  Sometimes you cannot wrap up all the loose ends in a nice little package. It just doesn’t ring true.

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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Juv, Realistic


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Not if I see you first


Title: Not if I see you first
Author: Eric Lindstrom
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 8th thru 12th grade
Pages: 310

Synopsis: Blind sixteen-year-old Parker Grant navigates friendships and romantic relationships, including a run-in with a boy who previously broke her heart, while coping with her father’s recent death.

Parker Grant lost her sight at the age of seven in an accident that killed her mother.  As a coping mechanism, she created what she refers to as “The Rules,” and she expects everyone in her life to adhere to them. “Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.” “Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.”  Through these rules, and many others, I was drawn into what it is like to be a blind teenager (as much as I could be).  With the recent death of her father, she is trying to continue on with life in a no-nonsense fashion.  She has a quick wit and a gift for sarcasm.  Things get complicated when she meets a boy who doesn’t treat her like a blind girl, and her former best friend/boyfriend begins attending her high school (she hasn’t spoken to him in two years). Luckily she has some true friends who help her navigate the ups and downs of life.

I loved this book!  It drew me in right away, which surprised me because I wasn’t convinced I would like the book when I read the book jacket.  The struggles of high school as a teenage girl rang very true (I was a teenage girl back in the day!).  The insights into being blind were very interesting to me, and made me think about so many things I take for granted as a sighted person. The friendships were genuine and the emotions very raw at times.  I highly recommend this book for someone looking for realistic fiction.  It is a safe book to recommend if the patron is looking for a book without sex.  The most physical interaction in a make-out session in the back seat of a car.

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Posted by on December 17, 2015 in Realistic, Romance, Teen


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Captain Awesome to the rescue



Title: Captain Awesome to the rescue
Author: Stan Kirby
Series: Captain Awesome
Recommended for: K – 2nd grade
Pages: 105
Call Number/Link:  J KIR

Synopsis: When second-grader Eugene and his family move to a new neighborhood and he starts at a new school, he has a chance to bring out his superhero alter ego, Captain Awesome, to find the kidnapped class hamster.

I picked up this book thinking it would be great for boys who were just beginning chapter books, and we know that it is a little more challenging to find a book with a young boys as the center of the story as opposed to young girls.  It has cartoons, larger print, and a main character who thought he was a superhero.  The reviews on NoveList were positive.  I was excited!  What a disappointment.  I found the story confusing, bouncing back and forth between Eugene’s thoughts/actions as an eight-year-old kid and those as a superhero. It could be that I am just too old to understand it. It did have some good points.  Eugene does make a friend, and he does solve the mystery of the missing hamster, but I thought appearing in front of his class a s a superhero was very farfetched. Maybe the reviewers of this book for NoveList are more educated than I am in good fiction choices for children.  I feel there are better books to choose than this particular title.


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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Adventure, Funny, Juv, Uncategorized


Dory and the real true friend



Title: Dory and the real true friend
Author: Abby Hanlon
Series: Dory books
Recommended for: K thru 3
Pages: 152
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION HANLON, A.

Synopsis: Dory, a highly imaginative youngest child, makes a new friend at school but her brother and sister are sure Rosabelle is imaginary, just like all of Dory‘s other friends. 

As written by Carolyn Phelan for Booklist, “Known as Rascal in her family, Dory is high-spirited, creative, and frequently in trouble. Plenty of kids have imaginary friends, but supercreative Dory has two—and an imaginary enemy as well. A new school year is starting, though, and she longs for a real friend. Does that mean leaving the others behind? From the first day of class, Dory tries to befriend Rosabelle. Before the story ends, she discovers that the girl’s enormous talent for imaginative play adds a new dimension to her own fantasy world. Dory’s lively first-person narrative is illustrated with similarly expressive line drawings, which take up about as much space as the text in this appealing early chapter book . A former teacher, Hanlon perceptively portrays the dynamics of Dory’s life at home, in the classroom, and on the playground. The story has its tender moments, but kids will find plenty to laugh about as well. A fine sequel to the popular series opener, Dory Fantasmagory (2014).”

Normally I write my own review, but this review in Booklist was so spot on, I could not have done any better.  I loved this book and the character of Dory.  I loved that her older siblings did not believe she had a real friend since she was so attached to her imaginary buddies. I loved that her mother let her wear whatever she wanted to school, including the day she wore 9 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of leggings, 4 shirts, and 3 pairs of socks.  And I loved that she felt she had to stuff her lunchbox with salami because Mom never gives her enough. Everything about this book is endearing.  I am definitely going to read the first Dory book because I truly enjoy Dory. It is a quick 45minutes to an hour read, depending on if you get interrupted.

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Posted by on November 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


Sew Zoey: Ready to wear


Title: Ready to Wear
Author: Chloe Taylor
Series: Sew Zoey
Recommended for: Ages 9-12
Pages: 164
Call Number/Link:  J TAY

Synopsis:  Over the summer, fashion-loving Zoey Webber gets the best news ever: Her middle school is getting rid of uniforms! There’s just one problem. Zoey has sketchbooks full of fashion designs, but nothing to wear! So with a little help from her best friends Kate and Priti, she learns to make her own clothes. She even begins to post her fashion design sketches online in a blog. That’s how the Sew Zoey blog begins, and soon it becomes much more. Zoey’s quirky style makes her a bit of a misfit at middle school, but her Sew Zoey blog quickly gains a dedicated following. Real fashion designers start to read it! Yet even as her blog takes off, Zoey still has to deal with homework, crushes, and P.E. class. And when the principal asks her to design a dress for the school’s fashion-show fund-raiser, Zoey can’t wait to start sewing! But what will happen when her two worlds collide?

I chose this book because it is the first in a series we have been adding to the J Fic collection. I found it entertaining for the age group it is written for.  The characters are in middle school, but there is no reason that a strong 2nd grader reader couldn’t read it (at least the first book).  The topics are innocent enough.  I like that Zoey is her own person with her own style and she is not afraid to stand out while being herself.  There is mention of the fact that Zoey’s mom died a long time ago, and I would guess that the topic may be covered in more detail in future books. I would not mind reading more volumes to see where Zoey and her friends go!

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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


Titanic : Voices from the disaster


Title: Titanic: Voices from the disaster
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Recommended for: Grades 2-12

Call Number/Link:  J 910.9163

Synopsis: On April 15, 1912, the magnificent ocean liner the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank beneath the icy North Atlantic seas. Hopkinson weaves together archival photographs and the voices of real Titanic survivors and witnesses to the disaster to bring the horrors of that terrible night to life. There’s nine-year-old Frankie Goldsmith; Violet Jessop, a young stewardess; Archibald Gracie, a well-to-do gentleman; Charlotte Collyer, a young mother on her way to start a new life; and others.

Already having a good base of knowledge about the Titanic disaster (“I am the king of the world!” – Okay, maybe Jack and Rose weren’t on the ship), I was curious to see if this book could keep me interested. Survivors stories are interspersed with facts to tell the unimaginable story of the unsinkable ship.  I found the pictures of both people and important items very interesting.  They helped link the stories to the people involved. I learned things I had not previously known, and it did keep my interest until the end.  It does have a glossary to help with some of the ship vocabulary, as well as other lists of pertinent facts.  I would recommend this book to any young person interested in reading about the disaster.  It is on the 2016 list of Caudill Awards books.

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Posted by on August 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


The Girl Who Heard Colors



Title: The Girl Who Heard Colors
Author: Marie Harris
Recommended for: Pre K thru 2nd grade
Pages:  30
Call Number/Link:  E Harris, M.
Synopsis:  Because she has a special extra sense called synesthesia, Jillian sees colors whenever she hears sounds.

I loved this book!  It presents an unusual situation of a little girl in easy to understand language and beautiful illustrations.  I have heard of synesthesia before but now have a very clear understanding of it through a picture book.  I would recommend to anyone looking for a colorful and interesting book for children.


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Posted by on July 17, 2015 in Picture Books, Uncategorized


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Disney After Dark


Title: Disney After Dark
Author: Ridley Pearson
Series: Kingdom Keepers
Recommended for: Ages 9-12 per Novelist
Pages: 325
Call Number/Link:  J PEA

Synopsis:  “In this fantastical thriller, five young teens tapped as models for theme park “guides” find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Using a cutting-edge technology called DHI–which stands for both Disney Host Interactive and Daylight Hologram Imaging–Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, and four other kids are transformed into hologram projections that guide guests through the park. The new technology turns out, however, to have unexpected effects that are both thrilling and scary. Soon Finn finds himself transported in his DHI form into the Magic Kingdom at night. Is it real? Is he dreaming? Finn’s confusion only increases when he encounters Wayne, an elderly Imagineer who tells him that the park is in grave danger. Led by the scheming witch, Maleficent, a mysterious group of characters called the Overtakers is plotting to destroy Disney‘s beloved realm, and maybe more. This gripping high-tech tale will thrill every kid who has ever dreamed of sneaking into Walt Disney World after hours and wondered what happens at night, when the park is closed”–Publishers description

Being a lover of Disney World, I had been wanting to read this series for a while.  I was a bit confused at first – possibly because I kept starting and stopping with days in between.  Once I was able to read every day and had continuity to the reading, I was able to follow the plot better.  I did enjoy the story although I think it could have been done better.  I believe my familiarity with Disney World itself helped me to understand the goings on in the book.  I do intend to continue on with the series.  I would recommend it to children who like Disney World.  It is not the best book ever written but it is worth a read.