The Latest In Progress
Catherine Thimmesh focuses on the new developments in paleontology with regard to the outward appearance of dinosaurs. She teams with a group of six acclaimed paleoartists who have worked with museums, movie studios, and magazines to properly depict dinosaurs based on the latest research. This includes the discoveries made in the past two decades of the existence of feathers on many dinosaurs. The author, a Sibert medalist, explains in kid-friendly terminology how scientists have come to current conclusions, and how each future discovery can change their minds. (A repeated, unfortunate red-text-on-green-background color combination on some captions is notable, but does not detract too severely from an otherwise compelling package.) Seven to Ten. -Todd Krueger
Christopher Sloan discusses the many other Tyrannosaurs that lived in the Mesozoic Era among their more well-known cousin Tyrannosaurus rex. This National Geographic production features the publisher’s usual excellent art. Graphs and timelines help explain when each of these Tyrannosaurs lived, and sidebars discuss the theories that paleontologists have regarding their close relationship to the birds of today. Particularly clear is the explanation of the simultaneous era of the dinosaurs and the breakup of supercontinent Pangaea resulting in the continents that now exist. Ten to Fourteen. -Todd Krueger
Puerto Rican parrots, endangered to the point of near-extinction, are slowly making a comeback thanks to a recovery program started back in 1968. This striking picture book opens vertically so readers can look into the treetops where parrots live. Intertwining Puerto Rican history with a piece of environmental good news, the author and illustrator have created something remarkable. Seven to Ten. Kathy Isaacs
Music and sound effects embellish this story about a hot summer night when “normal” life comes to a halt. The lights go out and the whole neighborhood uses it as an excuse to have a block party on the rooftops and sidewalks. The pacing of the reader and the sound effects and instrumentation are at first singular and compartmentalized following the frame by frame layout of the reader’s view into the city. As the lights go out, the layers of sounds and instruments convey the city coming to life in a new and fresh way, creating community. Based on a true experience, Rocco explains how he developed his story and in general how he writes children’s picture books in the final track. Audio. Lena Gonzalez Berrios
A colorful and festive retelling of this folktale is enhanced with the expressive narration, background music and utterances of the bugs in this audiobook production. The alliteration and rich vocabulary of the groovy bug band is “all abuzz.” Meaning is made known when the F chord is not only mentioned but played. Sophisticated vocabulary choices like “rasped”, “hoisting” and “complete abandon” are made clear through the pairing of the illustrations and the background sounds woven through the expressive enunciation of the narrator. The recording is available with or without page turn prompts. Audio. Lena Gonzalez Berrios.
The title of this novel will grab teen readers and Evan’s voice will keep them riveted and turning pages until the very last page. Evan’s boarding school roommate finds out that he was going after his ex-girlfriend and with a beefy friend, decides to teach Evan a lesson by pummeling him as he exits the shower one day. Once Evan is released from the hospital - nose and a few ribs broken, spleen burst and removed, ear and face mangled - his father decides to move the two of them to his family’s lake cabin in Minnesota. The slowness and familiarity of small town life is a big change for Evan and his father who are used to moving around every few months and never forming any attachments. While recovering physically, mentally and emotionally in this new environment he must is forced to deal with his issues and connect with others in ways he never has before. Probably one of the most surprising things about this novel was the lack of on-screen/on-page sex and violence. Rest assured that plenty of both happen and that in combination with the language and drug use, this is a choice for more mature teens. Where Sex & Violence differs from most others novels is that the racy descriptions, the sights, smells and sounds, the gritty physical confrontations, aren’t descriptively written out or lingered over for long. Evan is a male teen who doesn’t connect emotionally, so that would be wildly out of place in this narrative. He’s crass and horny and troubled but unwilling and unable to wallow in his emotions. And the lack of overly wrought melodrama is what makes this book have such an impact. Mesrobian has so carefully constructed Evan’s character and so painstakingly developed the narrative and dialogue to bring this story to life. Evan’s attitudes about sex as a casual venture and lack of ability to connect emotionally are conveyed as simple truth - just the way Evan feels about them. His healing is physical, mental and definitely emotional, but with a timing and sensibility that works with his character. While female teen readers will certainly read and enjoy this novel, the presentation, with its lack of sentimentality and frankness of delivery is what will connect with male readers. Fourteen and Up. Alicia Blowers
Kenichi (Zeni) Zenimura was wild about baseball despite his small stature and his disapproving parents. He was determined to be a ball player and although he never made it to the major leagues, he did carve a career for himself in his favorite sport. Along came WWII and the ill-advised policy of placing Japanese-Americans (who were American citizens, mind you) into Internment camps. The camps were a hardship in every way. Physically they were minimal and bleak, the surroundings in the desert bleaker still, and the crushing blow that their own government imprisoned them was the worst of all. Zeni decides that baseball will make all the difference for those interred with him and with the help of everyone in camp (including the one who runs it) they construct a baseball field, bleachers, fashion uniforms, and get all the gloves, bat, and balls they need. This is particularly compelling because of baseball's status as THE American sport. These "suspected" colluders turn to baseball to make their lives bearable in a terrible situation. Seven to Ten. Joan Kindig