Youth HITS | Book Reviews

Reviews for the Youth Librarian and School Media Specialist

Egg Hardcover and Library Binding
By Kevin Henkes

Gorgeously simple in its text, illustrations, and plot line, Henkes’ newest title will be especially appealing to preschoolers who enjoy a simple surprise in their stories. Using brown ink and watercolor paint, the palette reminds me of Waiting while the illustrations are reminiscent of Little White Rabbit and When Spring Comes. Four eggs, one pink, one yellow, one blue, one green, introduce the story. Pink, Yellow, and Blue crack with a surprise inside. Green waits. Waits for what? With only fifteen words repeated throughout the text, young listeners will quickly be “reading” this one themselves. And they will love to read it to us. As with pretty much any Henkes picture book, this one is highly recommended for ages 3 to 6. 
--Tracy Gallagher, MLIS, Collection Development

All the World a Poem
by Gilles Tibo

A picture book of poetry for the very young takes the reader from butterfly wings to the sea, from grazing sheep to the stars above, and from the silence of the night to sharing with their best friend. Lyrics, some rhyming some not, bring wonder and beauty of nature to each page accompanied by light-hearted, earthen-toned paper collage illustrations. Tibo leaves the reader with the message, “If all the world is a poem, then anyone can be a poet!” This title fits nicely into any poetry unit for early childhood and primary grades. Recommended for ages 5 to 8.
—Jeanne Martin, M.Ed., Collection Development

Bad Kitty Takes the Test
written and illustrated by Nick Bruel

Kitty has been observed displaying decidedly un-catlike abilities. Namely, falling out of a tree (hey, in her defense, she was being attacked by birds!); and now her cat license has been revoked. She can get it back only by taking a test… tomorrow! Many silly shenanigans ensue on exam day, ones that are enjoyable for adults as well as kids. The company behind the cat licensing test is highly suspect and we begin to worry that Kitty is being S.C.A.M.’ed* I was happy that, for once, the villain isn’t a cat, but one capable of dirty fowl deeds done dirt cheep (groan). Bad Kitty Takes the Test is highly recommended for ages 7 to 9.
*Society of Cat Aptitude Management
--Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

The Bad Guys, Book 1
by Aaron Blabey

In this new series, Mr. Wolf desperately tries to convince Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark to put aside their bad guy ways and start being heroes. His guests just want to eat, and not cupcakes. They reluctantly go along with his plan and set out to free 200 dogs from a maximum security pound. Complete with fart jokes, this is a funny read, especially good for boys. The Bad Guys, a crossover between a chapter book and a graphic novel, is recommended for ages 7 to 10. The second book is due out in February.
--Jenny McCluskey, MSIS, Collection Development

Ghost Hunter's Handbook: Supernatural Explorations for Kids
by Liza Gardner Walsh

It’s that time of year to wonder about things creaking and bumping in the night! Walsh, who has had her own paranormal experience, begins her handbook with a brief history of ghosts and how the people of different eras and cultures perceived them. She lists some of the most haunted sites in America and describes haunted places around the world, mostly in Europe. She encourages readers to meet ghost hunting with an open but objective mind, patience, and a sense of exploration. Lest she be said to have already decided that ghosts really do exist, Walsh offers other possibilities for ghostly phenomena, such as geomagnetism, low frequency sounds, and even the power of suggestion. The final sections give specifics, discuss code of conduct and safety considerations, and offer two case studies. There are 2 journaling pages in the back, but if they were removed, no pages of information would be lost. This is a great little package for kids who can’t get enough of haunted house movies and ghost hunting TV shows. Recommended for ages 9 to 12.
--Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

Train I Ride
by Paul Mosier

Debut novelist Mosier hands us a beautiful narrative of a young girl in crisis, on both a literal and figurative journey.  While the Amtrak train follows perfectly laid tracks from L.A. to Chicago, Rydr’s emotional journey is much more fraught, with anger, sadness and fear of the unknown that awaits her in a city she knows nothing about, and a relative she’s never seen.  Her feeling of abandonment is distinctly palpable, as she’s lost both her addiction-plagued mother, and gruff grandmother within the space of 3 years.  Yet her journey is not without guides, friends, or hope as she alternately charms and exasperates her Amtrak-appointed guardian, the handsome and funny guy behind the snack bar, and poetic gentleman in the lounge who wants to share stories and crossword puzzles with Rydr.  Readers will admire her quick wit and inventiveness, ache for the trials she endures, and want to howl along with her in triumph as she pulls into Chicago, and a new chapter of her life.  A perfect recommendation for all those kids who feel everything a bit too keenly, great for ages 10 to 13.
--Jill M. Barton, MLIS, Collection Development

by Marissa Meyer

Author of the hugely popular Lunar Chronicles, Meyer has done it again-- given us another twist on a familiar tale, this time her source is twisty, turny Alice in Wonderland. If you've ever wondered about the origin of the Queen of Hearts, how she became so cruel, so violent, so...heartless, now is your chance to see how Meyer envisions it. She begins with an idealistic, ambitious young member of the nobility, Lady Catherine, who instead of hankering for a husband, yearns for the chance to open up a bakery with her lady's maid. They even have a name picked out: Sweets & Tarts: The greatest bakery in all of Hearts. The only problems are Catherine's parents will never allow her to be a tradesman, and the small thing of the King of Hearts wishing to marry her. Enter Jest, the King's new court joker, who mesmerizes the entire court, including Cath, who begins to realize her heart isn't devoid of romance. When Jest takes Cath to a clandestine midnight tea party with a rather odd and marvelous Hatter, the reader begins to see the trajectory of the narrative. Even knowing the outcome, or rather the beginning of Carroll's story, you can't help racing to the end to see how everyone's roles play out. Plus, many other origin stories abound and all your favorite characters, save Alice, will make at least a cameo. Essential reading for all Alice fanatics, this YA fantasy will have wide appeal as well. Recommended for ages 12 & up.
--Jill M. Barton, MLIS, Collection Development

by Neal Shusterman

In a world where man has conquered death, something has to keep humanity from placing too heavy a burden on Earth’s resources. The Scythes have this most sacred job, calmly “reaping” man randomly to maintain the balance. Two Scythe apprentices are slowly initiated into a society that neither think they want to be a part of, but they each individually realize why they need to join. But when a small group of Scythes push the boundaries and demand changes to the hallowed rules, who can stop them? Scythe shows us that even when a man’s mind knows everything, greed and power can still rule the heart. A perfect choice for YA or adult readers who love The Giver and 1984.
--Rachel Rich, MLS, Collection Development

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