Saturday, May 21, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Upper Elementary Edition

by Ursula Vernon
Dial Books, 2011


Danny Dragonbreath and Wendell travel to Mexico to visit Danny's bat specialist cousin, but when a giant bat monster kidnaps Danny, Wendell gets his chance to play hero and save his friend before the bat monster makes Danny a permanent addition to her bat family.

Why You'll Love It:
  • An appealing and accessible format that brims with kid appeal. Ursula Vernon has a real knack for fun and funny situations and dialogue, and she is skilled at integrating her prose and bold, graphic-novel-style illustrations.
  • Danny and Wendell are a great pair. Their contrasting personalities—Danny is always up for adventure, Wendell is a worrier—play off each other and make for humorous interactions. (When they’re going upriver in a rubber boat and find out there are piranhas in the water, Danny’s reaction is, “That is so cool!” while Wendell’s response is, “I’m going to die . . .”).
  • An effective combination of real and fantastical bat-related elements. Danny and Wendell find a hurt bat, and Vernon identifies some species and sprinkles facts throughout the book (she also includes an end note about these endangered creatures).The giant false-vampire-bat monster is a memorable character.
  • Readers who are familiar with the Dragonbreath books will be thrilled to see a new title. Those who are new to the series will have no problem following the plot.

by Marissa Moss
Abrams Books, 2011


Describes the life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who disguised herself as a man, took the name Frank Thompson, joined a Michigan army regiment to fight in the Civil War, served as a nurse on the battlefield, and became a spy.

Why You'll Love It:
  • A fascinating story, engagingly presented. Readers will be inspired by Sarah Emma Edmonds’s grit and determination as she sees action on the battlefield, tends wounded soldiers, and spies for the Union Army.
  • Marissa Moss writes eloquently about the harsh realities of war: “One bloody battle followed another. Sometimes the North won, sometimes the South, but always the soldiers lost, thousands of them dying or maimed.”
  • John Hendrix’s distinctive illustrations—done predominantly in a palette of blues, oranges, and beiges—are striking and atmospheric. Characters practically leap off the page at times, and bold hand-drawn lettering—using a poster motif that evokes the Civil War era—splashes across spreads.
  • Excellent bookmaking, with a striking cover and an appealing design from start to finish. The backmatter includes author’s and artist’s notes that provide further context and lead to a deeper appreciation of the book.

by Jennifer Holm
Random House, 2011


While working on a school science fair project, Babymouse discovers Squish, a new species of amoeba that talks and eats cupcakes.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Babymouse is a smart, funny character, to whom readers will easily relate. This installment will delight both fans of the series and newcomers.
  • The way daydreams and reality constantly interrupt each other is both amusing and realistic, and keeps the narrative enjoyable and interesting.
  • Vibrant illustrations, mostly in black and white, with pink to suggest the imagined passages, have fluid lines and an improvised feel.
  • The science-based jokes are fun, as is Babymouse’s ingenious solution to her science project dilemma. Her project also introduces a new character—who is the star of the new series Squish.

book cover of Max Quick by Mark JeffreyMax Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant
by Mark Jeffrey
Harper Collins, 2011


Young Max, a troubled boy with a mysterious past, joins two other youths unaffected when the rest of the world was frozen in time on a journey across America--and time itself--seeking the source of the "Time-stop."

Why You'll Love It:

  • Immediately hooks readers with a captivating premise: time has stopped for everyone but a few kids, who now have free reign over the world.
  • Mark Jeffrey has created a vivid and inventive world. Rich descriptions leap off the page, for example: “[e]clipse-bitten red sunlight sprayed the jagged rocks along the roadside with the colors of sawdust and rust.”
  • Max’s and Casey’s outsider status—Max, because he’s an orphan, and Casey, because she’s impoverished—makes them sympathetic underdogs. Readers will admire the teens’ compassion, loyalty, and bravery in the face of (literally) alien circumstances.

book cover of Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler
by Lisa Wheeler
Carolrhoda Books, 2011


The meat-eating dinosaurs play against the plant-eating dinosaurs in a fast-paced basketball game.

Why You'll Love It:

  •  The commentary is fast paced and exciting, the illustrations highlight basketball tradition and culture (cutting down the net, an audience showing team spirit), and the end is inspiring.
  • Gott's vividly colored illustrations are filled with energy-almost like sitting courtside. 
  • Wheeler's staccato rhyming verse mimics both the play-by-play announcement and the action of a basketball game, making readers feel a part of the excitement. "Allo answers off the dribble. / Diplo takes it up the middle- / -T. rex charges from behind. / Steals the ball. It's Meaty time!"

1 comment:

Wanda said...

My 10-y.o. daughter loves the Baby Mouse Books! She read quite a few as quick entertaining breaks in-between reading the Harry Potter series this year.

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