Julia’s Book Reviews

The Great White Shark Scientist by Sy Montgomery. (2016). This nonfiction, Scientist in the Field, text follows a shark biologist along the Cape Cod coastline as he and his team travel on the Aleutian Dream, tagging and tracking sharks. With stunning photos from Keith Ellenbogen, from both the boat and a small airplane following it, this book gives an informative mix of facts, data, and photos. From the ocean to the lab, these biologists have a love for sharks, and they’re eager to share it with you.

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson. (2015). Ari’s mom died when she was 7. She and her brother, Gage, have been living with Janna, their “Guardian”, ever since. Her mom had two dying wishes though, first, that Ari and Gage would stick together, and second, that Ari would get into Carter, the gifted school that all of Ari’s family has gone to. One day, Gage, now 19, decides that he can’t take another day living with Janna, and so, following the promise they made to their mom, they both pack up and head out into the streets. Finding an apartment and job is harder than Gage expects, so they “couch surf” for a while, but Ari has trouble keeping up with her school work and doesn’t know if she’ll be able to get into Carter. This book is wonderfully written and gives an inside look at homelessness for children. It shows how one day you can have a normal life, and the next be scouring the ground for any lost pennies. This is a great book by Jennifer Richard Jacobsen about the adventure of Arianna Hazard and the people around her.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. (2016). The slaves worked all day from Monday to Saturday. Planting and pruning, cleaning and baking, the slaves worked hard. But on the seventh day of the week, they stopped. On Sunday, they gathered in Congo Square where they sang and danced, rejoiced and communed. They felt free for that day when they could be together in Congo square before working for another six days. Based on the true story of Congo Square in Louisiana in the mid 1800s, this picture book adds rhythm to the text and colorful and artistic illustrations. Readers will rejoice just as the characters do in Congo Square.

One Hundred Bones by Yuval Zommer. (2016). Scruff is a stray dog who loves to dig. He digs in yards, in pots, and under fountains. But the other dogs don’t like him and the humans don’t like the digging. But he keeps doing it, until he digs up something really special and has to ask the other dogs for help. This picture book with adorable illustrations is about doing what you love and it paying off. It is a great book with adorable little dogs to lead the way.

Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder. (2016). Among a Thousand Fireflies tells the story, with stunning photographs and poetic language, of two fireflies who, using their light, find each other among thousands of fireflies. It is beautifully written with close up and very cool photos of the fireflies. This book teaches a little about the ways fireflies communicate with the light and should definitely be on every reading list.

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. (2015). During the Tsarist rule, it was fashionable to have wolves as pets; that is until they chewed up a closet full of dresses or bit a guest’s hand. Unwanted wolves were sent to the wolf wilders, people who retrain the wolves to return to the wild. The reintroduction program was successful until the released wolves began to eat livestock. In response, General Rakov, a senior official in the Tsar’s army, takes Feo’s, a young wolf wilder, mother to St Petersburg. Feo, left alone, begins a heartwarming and treacherous journey. This book is beautifully written, capturing every snow-frosted hill perfectly. It shows a majestic form of trust Feo builds as she meets strangers, victims of Rakov’s force, who join her on her journey. A book with blizzards, wolves, and laughing children, it calls you to join Feo.

The Mixed-Up Truck by Steven Savage. (2016). Every truck does its job. The scooper scoops and the digger digs. But on the cement mixer’s first day he’s told to pick up some “powdery white cement”, but he doesn’t know what that is. Follow the cement mixer on his journey to find the cement, and maybe encounter a few cakes and bubble baths along the way. With simple, but descriptive drawings, this book is a funny read as you learn the mishaps of the mixed-up truck. Maybe he’ll find the cement one day!

Moo by Sharon Creech. (2016). 12-year old Reena and her family move to Maine, expecting an ordinary Maine life with plenty of lobster. But things are far from ordinary when her parents volunteer Reena and her younger brother to help Mrs. Falala, their eccentric old neighbor. Mrs. Falala is the owner of many animals including a moody cow, Zora. At first the cow hates Reena. And Reena hates the cow, and Maine. Slowly a bond grows between Zora and Reena. Reena starts to realize that Mrs. Falala isn’t quite so eccentric and quite so mean. This book is written in verse and each line conveys moody cows, angry old ladies and beautiful Maine perfectly. Will their new Maine life be ordinary as expected, or just a bit better than that?

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. (2016). When a container ship, carrying thousands of robots, sinks in the middle of the ocean, everything is lost. Except for one crate that washes up on a remote island. When the robot pops out of the box she doesn’t know that she’s not supposed to be in the wild. All she knows is she’s supposed to survive. At first all the animals are afraid of the new “monster”, but slowly she starts to gain their trust and it seems the island is the only place she’s meant to be. This book by Peter Brown is an interesting story about belonging and friendship. It includes cute little illustrations of the robot on her journey to be helpful. This very smart robot in a place she really shouldn’t be is something you’ll want to see. (Coming in March 2018, The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown.)