Review: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

sanity

Summary: 

I usually add the publisher’s description here, but in my opinion it doesn’t do this book justice, so we’re doing things my way today! This graphic novel is the story of best friends Sanity and Tallulah, who live on the space station Wilnick. Sanity loves to do science experiments and creates an adorable – and huge – three-headed kitten named Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds. But when Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds gets loose on the station, Sanity and Tallulah have to track her down before security makes them give her up. Meanwhile, unexplained power outages all across the station have everyone in a panic, and if they don’t figure out what’s causing it soon, the whole station could blow up! Will Sanity and Tallulah be able to save Princess Sparkle and the day? 

Review: 

I just finished reading this book myself not too long ago and have been trying to convince everyone I know to read it since then. Sanity and Tallulah is a super fun scifi adventure with a diverse cast of characters. Between the hunt for Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, and the mysterious power failures on the station there is plenty of action. The art is fun and eye-catching without falling into the boring, monochromatic silvery palate a lot of futuristic media does, and the writing is similarly breezy and enjoyable. The science itself is mostly of the made-up, “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” variety, but I really liked that it shows women and girls with an interest in STEM. Sanity herself is a budding scientist smart enough to create Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds solo and Tallulah’s mom is the engineer in charge on Wilnick. 

With the sequel coming out this fall, now is a great time to read Sanity and Tallulah! Recommended for ages 8 – 12.

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica

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Review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

sla and gabi.jpg

Summary:

From the publisher: How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Review:

You ever read a book so good that once you finish it, you hug it and thank it for its existence like some kind of nerdy version of KonMari? That is exactly what I did after finishing Carlos Hernandez’s middle grade debut, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. Sal is one of the most delightful and charming protagonists I’ve read in a long time, and even though the scifi part of the plot wasn’t as significant as I had expected, it never dragged because I loved Hernandez’s style so much. Filled with heart and humor, this is a story about love and grief and friendship without ever getting preachy. The publisher suggested ages are 8 to 12, but I think kids on the older end of that range and even into young adult readers would better appreciate it. Highly, highly recommended.

 

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica

5 on Friday: Spring Picture Books

5OF April

It’s finally starting to feel like spring! Winter seemed to drag on forever this year, so I am especially glad to see plants start poking their heads out and feel some warmer weather. In honor of that, I chose my 5 favorite picture books about spring for this month’s 5 on Friday.

 

andthen it's spring

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano

Fogliano won the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for New Writer and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book Honor Book awards for this sweet story about a boy and his dog planting a garden. They both wait…and wait…and wait some more for the garden to grow.

 

when spring comes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes

Henkes is a bestselling author for a reason, but what really makes this book a standout to me are Laura Dronzek’s beautiful illustrations. No one knows how to capture the wonder of a season the way she does.

 

fletcher

Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson

Fletcher the fox mistakes the falling blossoms as snow and rushes to warn his friends that they have returned from their migrations or woken from hibernation too soon. I really enjoy the Fletcher books and I think kids will too.

 

wake up

Wake Up, it’s Spring! by Lisa Campbell Ernst

One day, the sun whispers to the earth, “Wake up, it’s spring!” And the earth tells the worm, who tells the seed, and so on until everyone is awake and cheering for springtime. The simple, playful text makes this great for read-alouds.

 

abracadabra

Abracadabra, it’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien

As you might be able to guess from the title, this charming picture book focuses on the magic of winter transforming into spring. Some of the magic words are a bit of a stretch – I’ve never heard anyone say “Alizebu!” before – but the fold-out pages showing the change to a new season are lovely.

And that’s all for this month! Be sure to check back in May, same bat time, same bat channel for the next 5 on Friday.

Miss Jessica

 

Top 10 of 2018: #1

 

 

Christina

A Big Mooncake for Little Star

by Grace Lin

A simple, beautiful story about Little Star trying to resist eating the Big Mooncake that Mama has hung in the sky to cool.  Little Star wakes in the night and takes a tiny bite.  She does this each night until you see the full moon waning to the new moon.  Text and pictures tell this story lovingly.  A great book to share with your little ones.

Sarah

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates

by Ryan T. Higgins

It’s the first day of school and Penelope Rex is ready with a new backpack.  When she discovers her classmates are children this causes a few problems because “children are delicious.”  After eating her classmates (and spitting them out thanks to the teacher), Penelope does learn how to be a friend.

This book has a good bit of slobber in the pages, which just add to its appeal!

Jessica

I Hate Everyone

by Naomi Danis

I actually didn’t read this book until I was in the process of writing this list and loved it so much it immediately bumped my previous #1 title.  Danis perfectly describes the contradictions of children: “Don’t look at me.  No!  Look at me!” Several pages made me laugh aloud and the illustrations alone are so great once I finished I flipped back to the beginning and started again to pay better attention to them.

Tess

The Serpent’s Secret

by Sayantani Dasgupta

I loved this audiobook!  Just an average 12-year-old girl from New Jersey who happens to be a demon slayer –  no big deal!  Dasgupta creates such a fun, relatable hero in Kiranmala, and I loved the Indian folklore mixed with fantasy elements.  The audiobook is read by the author and she is a fantastic narrator!

Great read for fans of Rick Riordan or fantasy… or anyone!

Marta

Willa of the Wood 

by Robert Beatty

This book is just so beautifully written.  It brought me right back to the feeling I’d get as a kid when I’d fall in love with a book in that deep, profound, genuinely sad when it is over way.  I listened to this audiobook and was sucked right into the world that Beatty created.  The world of the Faeran is magical but dangerous.  Willa, a night-spirit, is trying to find her way in her clan but the clan is changing.  Through a tragic chain of events, Willa comes to realize her clan is no longer her family and that she doesn’t truly have a place there.  On her own in the world she befriends a man named Nathaniel.  Though Willa and Nathaniel have a tenuous relationship at first, they form a bond that goes well beyond what Willa expects.  Nathaniel becomes family to her and she becomes family to him.  When she discovers a secret about Nathaniel’s children, she realizes that she can help him and his children but very much at her own peril.  Read my full review of this amazing book here.  For fans of fantasy, this book is a must-read, but it also is a good read for animal lovers and adventure readers.

 

Top 10 of 2018: #2

Christina

Thank You, Omu!

by Oge Mora

Omu is cooking a thick red stew on the top floor of her apartment building.  As it cooks, the smell brings people from the street to her door.  She shares her stew with each person until it is all gone.  This book reads like a folktale complete with a wonderful ending.  The visually attractive collage pictures help to tell the story of sharing and community.

Sarah

No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

by Kathleen Krull

This short biography tells of Ruth’s determination to become the person she wanted to be and to help others achieve fairness in their lives. She grew up in a time that women were told to hide their intellect and were expected to marry, have children and take care of the home. At the time there were few opportunities for women to have careers. She wanted more for herself and others. The book gives a time line of her life, career, challenges and accomplishments.

Jessica

She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein 

by Lynn Fulton

A lightly fictionalized version of Mary Shelley’s creation of Frankenstein.  The spooky and atmospheric art is perfect for the story of the invention of science fiction!

Tess

A Parade of Elephants

by Kevin Henkes

“Hooray! The elephants are here.  Get ready!”

This one is destined to be a bedtime storytime favorite!  Lots of concepts like counting, shapes, opposites, and directions all in a short, simple, beautiful book.

Marta

Smiley: A Journey of Love

by Joanne George

This book was one that warmed my heart and was a feel good book that stuck with me all year.  It tells the true story of Smiley, a golden retriever who was born with no eyes.  Smiley was born in a puppy mill and rescued by the book’s author who knew exactly what help Smiley needed to live his best life as a one-of-a-kind therapy dog.  Real pictures of Smiley and his family are throughout the book.  Every elementary-aged kiddo I recommended this to fell in love with Smiley and his story.

 

Top 10 of 2018: #4

 

 

Christina

The Day You Begin 

by Jacqueline Woodson

Beautifully written and illustrated, this picture book gives courage to every child who feels alone, that there is no one quite like them.  The book acknowledges that it is not easy being different but to take courage, reach out and share your story.  You will being to find others who are a little like you in different ways.  It is a powerful and reassuring book about diversity and becoming accepted.

 

Sarah

Elmore

by Holly Hobbie

Elmore is a lonely porcupine looking for friends and he is having no luck because he is prickly. In this very short book Elmore find friends by giving of himself and helping others.

 

Jessica

Winter is Here

by Kevin Henkes

Another winner from the dream team Kevin Henkes and Laura Dronzek.  Henkes’ text discusses life during the wintertime – the mittens and zippers and scarves and zippers and coats and OH NO PLEASE NOT MORE ZIPPERS – and Dronzek’s illustrations bring color and beauty to an often drab season.  If you’re like me and have always hated winter, this book might just change your mind.

Tess

Magnificent Birds 

by Narisa Togo

This book is gorgeous and educational.  The author has studied both ecology and printmaking, and she has combined her knowledge and talent here beautifully.  Great book for kids who love facts and those who enjoy perusing bird and animal books for the pictures.

Marta

Chomp Goes the Alligator

by Matthew Van Fleet

This laugh-out-loud board book was one of my favorite storytime reads this year for our birth to two year group.  I actually read this gem the first time on a day when school was out and I had older siblings in the room and it had all of us laughing. Entertaining that many age groups with a single story is not easy so that made it an instant winner for me.  I was easily able to make this story interactive by adding actions to the Alligator’s chomping as he eats many of his friends in the swamp (but don’t worry, everyone is safe and sound in the end).  The early literacy side of me loves this book because there are so many things that make it educational in that sneaky the-kids-won’t-even-know way.  Opportunities to identify animals, colors, rhyming and predicting, practice counting and even motor skills since this book does have a flap that allows your alligator to chomp just to name a few.  For people leery of board books that have moving parts, this book is super sturdy and will provide you and your favorite kiddos many happy reads and stand the test of time.

Top 10 of 2018: #5

 

 

Christina

The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson

Candice and her mom have moved back to Lambert, South Carolina to live in her dead grandmother’s house for a month while their house is being remodeled.  Life is unsettled with her parent’s divorce and the temporary move doesn’t help things.  While Candice is looking in her grandmother’s attic, she comes across a letter on which her grandmother has written: Find the path.  Solve the puzzle.  Inside the folded letter addressed to her grandmother that describes an injustice done decades ago to an African American woman and mentions a fortune that belongs to the person who solves the puzzles.  Can Candice and her new friend Brandon solve what her grandmother couldn’t?

 

The mystery gets you hooked into the story, however, the book has another story to tell that includes racial prejudice, segregation, and violence from the 1950’s.  A good book to share with your tween so you can discuss scenes they might find disturbing.  Grades 5 and up.

Sarah

Be Kind

by Pat Zietlow Miller

A lovely story of a young child wanting to make a friend feel better. While trying to find the way to make the friend feel better the child realizes many ways to show kindness and how those acts of kindness flow into their world.

Jessica

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say 

by Angela Dominguez

Stella is such a sweetheart, I could read a million more stories about her.  Shy, earnest Stella has speech problems from mixing up Spanish and English and faces a school year without her best friends at her side.  When she finds out a new student is joining her class, she imagines a girl like herself who loves to draw and maybe even speaks Spanish that she could befriend.  But horror of horrors, the new student is… a BOY!  Even worse, he settles in immediately with the cool kids and Stella’s hopes crumble.  But with her supportive family, best friend, and kind 3rd grade teacher to back her up, Stella learns to stand up for herself and finds her voice, making a few new friends along the way.

Tess

Aquicorn Cove

by Katie O’Neill

In this graphic novel, Lana moves back to her hometown to clean up after a storm, rediscovers her love of the ocean, and finds a mysterious sea creature called and Aquicorn.  The illustrations in this book made me so happy – the characters and the magical sea creatures are adorable!  The compelling family dynamics and overall message of the importance of conversation here was nice too.  Great read!

Marta

Islandborn

by Junot Diaz

Lola left the Dominican Republic when she was a baby and has no memory of her life there.  Her teacher, knowing many of her students come from far away places, gives the assignment to draw a picture of their first home.  Lola is sad since she doesn’t have her own memories however throughout the story she talks to friends, family, and neighbors about the home she left behind, what made it so magical, and why her current community is equally as special.  Darling, bright illustrations bring Lola and her island to life.  Wonderful read for elementary age.