Reviews

Punks and Posada: THE FIRST RULE OF PUNK by Celia C. Pérez

Pérez, Celia C. The First Rule of Punk. Read by Trini Alvarado. Viking/Recorded Books, 2017. 310 pages/5 hours and 20 minutes. Hardcover $14.59, ISBN978-0-425-29040-8

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!!!

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Part of a series? No

Plot Summary:

Maria Luisa O’Neill-Morales — Malú — lives and breathes punk music. Growing up in her father’s record store Spins and Needles has helped her be able to craft her punk identity. This means that moving to Chicago with her mother (“Super Mexican”) for her mother’s new professorship will also mean finding a way to preserve her punk self while not getting into daily battles with her mom (who just wants Malú to act like una señorita). Moving away from everything she knows is hard, and none of the zines she’s made arguing her case to her mom change the fact that she’ll be living in Chicago for the next two years. Upon arrival, Malú learns that not only is her punk cred unimportant to her classmates, she also finds that they expect her to act like una señorita, too, referring to her as a “coconut” for her love of punk music and culture. Can Malú stay true to herself and find a place in her new school?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book is fantastic. The music references are cool, the descriptions of Malú’s zines are awesome, and the development of each character is wonderful. I would absolutely hand this off to students looking for coming-of-age stories, stories about moving away, and stories about finding yourself.

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews starred06/15/17

Publishers Weekly Annex starred08/07/17

School Library Journal starred06/01/17

 

Readalikes?

Frazzled by Booki Vivat

 

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Reviews

Return to the Sweet Life: The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase by Wendy Mass

Mass, Wendy. The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase. Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 533 pages. Hardcover $16.29, ISBN 978-0-316-08919-7; PLB $13.06, ISBN 978-1-53791-619-4; TR $7.69, ISBN 978-0-316-08918-0

TL;DR: Do I recommend this book? Yes!

Genre: Mystery

Part of a series? Yes — this is the sequel to The Candymakers

Plot Summary:

Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy can’t believe that after these few months, Harmonicandy is finally about to go into production. Each child also is grappling with issues in their personal lives — does Daisy have a brother? How can she balance being a spy with having normal friends? How can Miles find out more about his family without upsetting his father? How can Philip feel closer to his mother’s memory while continuing to build his own future? And how is Logan to deal with the sympathy from everyone who knows that he did not win the contest when Philip’s win was the only way to save the factory? Things go from tricky to bananas when — once the first Harmonicandies are made and shared at the Kick-Off — Logan realizes that they do not use the same chocolate from the original Harmonicandy batch in the contest, rendering their win moot. If they can’t reproduce those exact Harmonicandies, they are disqualified! How to find the winning chocolate, and what will everyone do if they can?

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This book is a wild ride. It feels more disjointed than the first Candymakers book, but our beloved narrators are just as unputdownable as ever. The team embarks on a road trip to find the mysterious chocolate (and Daisy’s family … and Miles’s family … and Philip’s family …), and characters from other Mass novels find their way into cameos here. It’s a fun read with good questions about stewardship and what’s right.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This still delivers as a solid mystery, and I’d also hand this to Mass fans for the cameos she provides.

Grade Level: 3-7

Awards and Starred Reviews:

n/a

Reviews

HOROBOD, or would that be HOROWOD? Rowan Hood by Nancy Springer

Springer, Nancy. Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest. Read by Emily Gray. Playaway All-in-One Audiobook/Findaway World, 2010. 4 hours. Playaway $54.75, ISBN 978-1-44071-207-4

TL;DR: Do I recommend this audiobook? Yes

Genre: Fantasy

Part of a series? Yes — the Rowan Hood series

Plot Summary:

Rosemary’s mother is gone; burned to death by people who think she’s an evil witch simply because she is the descendant of the Elfin people, Celandine sends her daughter a spell of protection as the house is lit ablaze. Motherless and homeless, thirteen-year-old Ro disguises herself as a boy (“Rowan”) and leaves for Sherwood Forest to find her father, Robin Hood. Along the way, she offends Guy of Gisborne when she refuses to hand over her outlaw arrows (simple bolts of sharpened wood). She also meets Lionel, a giant minstrel; Tykell, a wolf-dog; and Ettarde, an escaped princess. Will finding Robin Hood solve Ro’s problems? 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

For this book, I listened to the version narrated by Emily Gray. Gray’s voice was lilting and engaging, and her accent was perfect for listening to a Robin Hood story. The only problems I had as a listener were understanding some of the magical words Springer uses; for instance, I thought that Ro’s mother was one of the “Alpha” and had “Alphin” magic. It was not until I turned to Google (having no hard copy of the book at hand) to check the spelling and find it to be “Elfin!” This is a very minor issue, however, and Gray gracefully performs every voice and sound. Her voice for Lionel captures his spirit perfectly, and it’s never confusing when Ettarde and Ro speak to one another. The chapters are broken up well, and the Playaway was easy to use.

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

I would hand this audiobook to any student who wanted a new way to experience fantasy. Listening to this story is a lot like sitting at a campfire (perhaps in an outlaw camp?) and hearing ballads of old heroes. This is a great pick for students who prefer to listen to books over traditional reading, but this is also a fun choice for any reader. The pacing is excellent, so while it might not be perfect for listening on a run, this is also a good book for students to listen to while cleaning or doing chores. (Idea from myself).

Grade Level: 5-8

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 4/15/01

Reviews

Music and more: After Tupac and D Foster

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D Foster. Puffin Books, 2008. 153 pages. Hardcover $13.64, ISBN 978-0-399-24654-8; Tr. $5.19, ISBN 978-0-14-241399-9; PLB $13.01, ISBN 978-0-329-77678-7

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

This middle grade novel explores friendship, family, and what it means to be “lucky” in the mid 1990s. Our unnamed narrator and her friends Neeka and D navigate life on the block (or, as only D is allowed to do, “roaming”) as well as topics such as having a (gay) brother in prison, dealing with when your favorite rapper (or any person on the street) says homophobic things, and what it means to really know someone.

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

This novel is a great read for many reasons. Not only does Woodson incorporate elements such as LGBTQIA characters, incarcerated family members, missing parents, and foster care, but she does so in a way that does not unnaturally highlight any of those plot elements. They are realistic elements of our narrator’s life, not “after school special” type inclusions.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This book would be a great choice for any music fans. Readers could think about a musician who really speaks to their own feelings, and they can share some of that musician’s work with the class, describing why that musician’s work is so important to them. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 5-8

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Library Media Connection starred 10/1/08

Newbery Honor 2009

Publishers Weekly starred 12/17/07

School Library Journal starred 4/1/08

Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) starred 2/1/08

 

Reviews referenced:

Berman, M. (n. d.). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/after-tupac-and-d-foster

Bird, E. (2008, Feb. 19). Review of the day: After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2008/02/19/review-of-the-day-after-tupac-d-foster/

Kirkus Reviews. (2007, Dec. 1). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jacqueline-woodson/after-tupac-and-d-foster/

Publishers Weekly. (2007, Dec. 10). After Tupac and D Foster (Review of the book After Tupac and D Foster). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-24654-8

 

Tags: Rap, Tupac Shakur, historical fiction, 1990s, lgbtqia, incarcerated people, HIV/AIDS, friendship

Reviews

Catch-up Post: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

I read this book earlier this summer. As I wrote on my main blog,

I loved this book! Its style was very reminiscent of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, a major favorite of mine. While this book was a lot bigger than I expected a MG book to be, I never felt like it dragged (even if my hands got tired holding it up!). Otto, Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy had me captivated. I had to know more about this harmonica with the letter “M,” and the cliffhangers made me keep going. I remember finishing the Mike section late one night and thinking, “Just one more chapter!” — but I knew that if I did try to do “just one more chapter,” I’d be up all night until I finished the book! So I had to put it aside.🙂

I definitely would recommend this book to young readers.

Swoon! I loved Echo so much. Framing anything in a fairy tale is a surefire way to get me hooked, and this book was no exception. Ivy, Mike, Friedrich, and Otto all captured my interest, and I would be happy to recommend this to any young reader.

Warnings:

  • Death
  • Racism
  • Prejudice

Major Plot Points/Themes/Etc.:

  • Racism
  • Prejudice
  • Historical Fiction
  • Music
  • Harmonicas
  • Fairy tales
  • Perseverance