New Middle-Grades Trilogy: The Brightstone Saga

14 Aug

The Brightworking: Book I of the Brightstone Saga

The Brightworking: Book I of the Brightstone Saga by Paul B. Thompson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Brightstone Saga is a forthcoming fantasy trilogy from Enslow Publishers. The Brightworking was a relatively light story that was easily digestible and takes place in a world of ancient magic, which I can see appealing to middle-grade students. This could certainly pass as a read-alike for the youngest Harry Potter fans, but lacks the depth those fans may be used to. The story does not waste much time with background and setting details and gets right into the action of the story, but the trade-off here is that the characters seemed undeveloped and it was difficult to tie the story to any larger, meaningful themes, so it fell a bit flat for me. At the same time, there are political sub-plots in this story that are glazed over and may be confusing to the intended (ages 10 and up) audience, and as an adult reader it was unclear to me if those factions were important to the story. For it’s pacing and appealing subject matter, I am reluctant to score The Brightworking with only 2 stars, but I am also hesitant to bump it up to 3 without some more developed literary elements that seemed to be lacking.

On a promising note, there was a preview of the second book in the trilogy, The Fortune Teller, and that seemed as though it may have more intrigue and will go deeper into the characters than the first effort. I’m interested to see how the second installment may or may not fill out the larger story of The Brightstone Saga.

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Short Review: Esperanza Rising

12 Aug

Esperanza RisingEsperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Esperanza Rising is a gorgeous book about families struggling together to overcome tremendous obstacles in order to stay together and work toward new dreams. Set in Mexico and California leading up to and during the Dust Bowl Era, this vibrant and engrossing coming-of-age story will teach young and adult readers alike valuable lessons about that historical time period in the United States but also about relevant themes to this day: grief, resilience, understanding and appreciating other cultures, and the value of dreaming, hoping, and never giving up.

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Short Review: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers

17 Apr

Charlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good RecyclersCharlie and Lola: We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers by Lauren Child, Bridget Hurst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was glad to find this after struggling to find a good read-aloud for Kindergartners leading up to Earth Day. Charlie and Lola are adorable and lovable characters, and in this story kids are introduced to recycling and celebrate as Lola and her classmates achieve an important goal. The illustration style combines drawings and collage in a way that allows opportunities to look for interesting details with young readers.

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Short Review: Our Choice: Young Readers Edition

16 Apr

Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate CrisisOur Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Young Readers edition of Al Gore’s Our Choice is not new, but important to highlight. This book takes the very complex issues of climate change and the solutions Gore calls us to enact and makes them engaging and understandable to middle grade-and-older readers. I found this book informative and interesting as an adult, and it is a great resource for inquiry projects around climate change and conservation in school libraries.

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Short Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

6 Apr

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After years of being advised to read this book and never quite finding the time, I finally did it.  I’m so glad I finally did. Junior is what many people would call “an old soul”, but probably not people on “the rez” because they’ve all had to grow up too fast. Just when you think your heart will break for Junior and his family, you are relieved with a belly-shaking laugh. Junior’s sensitivity, empathy and clearly genetic, nuanced sense of humor will make you admire him repeatedly. Junior struggles and thrives as he tries to live two lives – one on the rez and one in a white high school he chose to go to because he knew he deserved a better education than the reservation school could give him. Both supported and humiliated by his family and friends, Junior finds his way and can reconcile the duality of his life through a series of trials and triumphs. Alexie has done an amazing job of writing a young hero that is superb yet believable, and Forney’s illustrations bring Junior’s best qualities to life.

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The results are in!

2 Apr

Thanks for voting in the New Librarian Pinterest contest!  Brooklyn Biblio took top honors!  If you didn’t get a chance last week, check out the Elite 8.  I’m so proud to be in the new generation of librarians with a vision for what librarians can and should be.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the Women’s History crowdsourcing project! I’ve been a busy little bee applying to jobs because holy wow, I’m finishing my MLS in a month!  Stay tuned…

Vote for Brooklyn Biblio’s Pinterest Board!

26 Mar
Brooklyn Biblio is a finalist in Syracuse University iSchool’s Future of Librarianship Pinterest Contest.  Voting is open until this Friday, March 30th, so please visit this page, pass it on, and vote for me (Brooklyn Biblio!).  If I know you from SU, Friends of the Greenpoint Library, ULU or the NYPL First 500, you may see a special cameo on my board.  While you’re there, check out all the boards and be surprised by what my iSchool colleagues envision for Libraries. (You don’t even need a Pinterest account to vote!)