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The Harlem Charade

Title: The Harlem Charade
Author: Natasha Tarpley
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 3rd- 8th Grade
Pages: 297 pages
Call Number/Link:  J FICTION TARPLEY, N.

Synopsis: Seventh-graders Jin, Alexandra, and Elvin come from very different backgrounds and circumstances, but they all live in Harlem, and when Elvin’s grandfather is attacked they band together to find out who is responsible–and the search leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune, and into conflict with an ambitious politician who wants to turn Harlem into an historic amusement park.

This book is rich in culture.  We have three main characters that come from different backgrounds, that come together by chance.  Jin likes to watch people that come into her grandparents bodega. She catches Alexandra taping Met passes on food items.  Jin now has a mystery to solve to find out why. The three main characters are strong, kind-hearted teenagers.  Throughout the story they learn some history of Harlem artist from the 1960’s and come to appreciate the community.  It is a wonderful way to get children to look around their own communities.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2017 in Juv, Mysteries

 

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Stack the Cats

Title:   Stack the Cats
Author:   Susie Ghahremani
Series:   —
Recommended for:   toddlers and preschoolers as a readaloud and counting book, early elementary school students because it’s a fairly early reader and teaches alternate ways to organize sets
Pages:   32 pages
Call Number/Link:  E GHAHREMANI, S.

Rating:   ****

 

 

Synopsis:

Cats of all shapes and sizes scamper, yawn, and stretch across the pages of this playful counting book. And every now and then, some of them pile into the purrfect cat stack!

Comments:

This is such a cute book!  The cats are adorable and remind me a little of my hero Pusheen.  The bold, colorful illustrations could work well with a group of children.

It makes me happy that the book works on more than one level.  For toddlers, it is a book with cute cats having fun.  For preschoolers, it is also a counting book.  There is also slightly trickier math for the early elementary school students when sets are regrouped (or divided).  This happens when 6 cats are divided into two groups of 3 cats and 9 cats are divided into three groups of 3 cats.

 

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2017 in Concepts, Picture Books

 

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Optimists Die First

Title:   Optimists Die First
Author:   Nielsen-Fernlund, Susin
Series:   —
Recommended for:  teens who like books that deal with death, family problems, betrayal, support groups – and a little romance. And fans of The Fault in Our Stars, The Breakfast Club and other books/movies where unlikely strangers wind up becoming friends.
Pages:   228 p.
Call Number/Link:   Teen Fiction Nielsen, S.

Ratings:   ***

 

 

Synopsis:

Since her sister’s death, Petula de Wilde sees danger in everything. A mandatory art therapy class with a groups of teenage misfits is the worst part of each week. She wants nothing to do with them– especially Jacob and his prosthetic arm. When they work together on a project, he helps her with her fears. But a secret he’s been keeping from her could unravel everything….
Comments:
I think we’ve all heard the saying:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  I know I have.  And that I still sometimes choose a book to read because the cover grabs me.  Most often, it is because the cover features delicious looking baked goods.  But in this case, I liked the contradiction between the cover and book title.  It looks like the front of a homemade knitted sweater… with skeletons and the title Optimists Die First.  So I read the front flap and found out that the protagonist was in an art therapy group.  Be still my heart!  I’m kind of fascinated with the idea of art therapy, although I only know a little about it.
The book didn’t completely grab me, but I still liked it.  The art therapy group kind of reminded me of the support group in The Fault in Our Stars.  This may be a stretch, but the change in how the group members interacted at the beginning and at he end of the book made me think of The Breakfast Club.  Thus, I think the book could be a hit with teens who like problem novels, support groups, The Fault in Our Stars and/or The Breakfast Club.
And I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that there is a romance….
 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Realistic, Teen

 

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My New Mom and Me

Title: My New Mom and Me
Author: Renata Galindo
Series: N/A
Recommended for: K- 2 ( maybe a little younger)
Pages: 32
Call Number/Link:  E Galindo

Synopsis: When the puppy comes to live with his new mom, he is nervous. After all, his mom has stripes and he doesn’t. But his mom says she likes that they look different, and soon the puppy likes it, too. (And who cares what anyone else thinks!)

The puppy’s new mom does all the things other parents do. She plays with him, takes care of him, and sometimes even makes him mad! But that’s okay, because when he’s feeling sad, she knows just what to say.

Review: This is a super sweet story of adoption or fostering. It is geared towards older children more than those adopted straight from birth. Puppy knows from the get go that this is his new home and he is different from his new mom. At first, he tries to be just like her, even paints on stripes, but his new mom wipes it all away and tells him she loves him just the way he is. In the end, they end up embracing their differences–and even though it’s not easy being a new family they’re going to continue to work on it.  This would be a perfect book to give to families that have either just adopted older-ish kids or who are maybe even just fostering.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Picture Books

 

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Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise

Title:   Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise
Author:   Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Series:   Nate the Great
Recommended for:  early readers who are almost ready for chapter books.  Also as a readaloud for children ages 4 and up.
Pages:   41 p.
Call Number/Link:  READER SHARMAT, M.

Rating:   ****

 

 

Synopsis:

As more and more of his flowers display the bite marks of a wandering tortoise, Nate sets out to uncover the mystery of the reptile’s origins.

Comments:

It is difficult to find mysteries for children at an early reader level who either want a mystery or need to read one for school.  Nate the Great is an excellent choice for those children.  While Nate is solving actual mysteries, with the help of his dog Fang, his methods will make sense to kids reading the book.  He solves mysteries by looking around, making observations and thinking about what he has seen.

I appreciate that the book’s text and illustrations are timeless, so that kids can continue enjoying Nate the Great for years to come.

 

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Readers

 

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Con Academy

Title: Con Academy
Author: Joe Schreiber
Series: N/A
Recommended for: Well-Grounded Kids Who Like A Good Caper
Pages: 236
Call Number/Link: TEEN FICTION SCHREIBER

Synopsis: “Con man Will Shea may have met his match in scammer Andrea Dufresne as they make a high-stakes deal that will determine who gets to stay at Connaughton Academy, one of the most elite and privileged preparatory schools in the country, and who must leave.”

My Thoughts:

This was a lot of fun! There were some moral issues (it was so fast-paced I’m still debating some of the ends-justify-the-means-of-theft stuff) but, for a mature and well-grounded young adult, it’s a fun Ferris Bueler-meets-Mission-Impossible-esque adventure, if Ferris Bueler had been the son of a con man. There were also some really good points about personal growth and forgiveness.

For teens who might be concerned with sexual content, there’s a generic reference to “canoodling” and some kissing, and references to public humiliation via inappropriate pictures (in the primary case, clearly wrong,) but that’s it.

Marshall Islands, you’re always in my heart.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2017 in Adventure, Teen, Uncategorized

 

Boys Dancing: From School Gym to Theater Stage

Title:  Boys Dancing:  From School Gym to Theater Stage
Author:  George Ancona
Series:   —
Recommended for:  kids in grades K and up, especially active athletic boys who like to run, jump, spin and leap
Pages:   Unpaged  (approximately 46 pages)
Call Number/Link:   E 793.3 ANC

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

Synopsis:

“Follow four energetic boys as they train for and take the stage in a community dance performance celebrating classic kids’ books”–Provided by publisher.

Comments:

With the exception of break dancers, there’s not a lot of support out there for boys who dance.  This book shows that average, everyday boys who like to run, jump, yell, climb and throw balls to each other at recess can also like to dance.  They warm up for dance class by running through the halls of their dance school and do pull-ups to strengthen their arms.  They are going to perform a dance number based on Treasure Island so learn how to fake fistfights.  Older boys in their school learn how to fight with swords.

As part of a collaboration between the National Dance Institute of New Mexico and several schools in their town, students are taught movement (i.e. leaping, running, spinning, jumping and showing emotions like joy or anger) set to music.  These movement classes teach students to dance – and prepare them for performances in May.  The final May performance has more than twenty dances and all of the 500 students are in the grand finale.

The book shows that dance can be fun, athletic, active and very boy (and girl and firefighter) friendly.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Juv, Non-Fiction

 

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