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Book Reviews

Scythe
Neal Shusterman
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

How would you react if you were selected for an important job that you didn’t want? In a world where humans have conquered death and are essentially immortal, teens Citra and Rowan are selected to be Scythes. Their task is to “glean”, or permanently end the lives of people, to help control the size of the human population. This 2020 Caudill award nominee is written in a tone that is at times both hopeful and bleak, telling the tale of two courageous teens who do what they must to battle against a system—and its actions—as they change from necessary to troublesome and corrupted.

Fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series and Scott Westerfeld’s novels will enjoy this first installment in the Arc of a Scythe trilogy.

-Erin
Posted 1/16/2020

Piecing Me Together
Renée Watson
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Jade makes the exceptionally long trip each day away from her poor neighborhood to take advantage of opportunities a private school can give her. Although Jade is grateful for all the support she receives in the private school, she often feels misunderstood and marginalized in the rarefied environment. At these times she finds herself longing for her like-minded neighborhood friends and for the safety and familiarity of her family. Along

the way Jade has to make decisions about how to weigh the importance of the help she is given against the uncomfortable feelings of being singled out as someone who lacks autonomy and self-determination. With the help of her family, high school mentor, old and new friends, as well as her exceptional art talent Jade begins to discover her identity in a world often fraught with contradiction and inconsistency.

-Juli K.
Posted 1/2/2020

Ruby's Birds
Mya Thompson
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4 Stars

Ruby is a spirited young girl who lives in New York City. Ruby’s fun-loving personality and animated disposition unquestionably mirrors the activity, noise, and energy of that great city. When Ruby is invited on a nature walk in Central Park, however, she learns about an entirely different slice of the city. By curbing her energy, actively listening, and paying careful attention, Ruby discovers a remarkable thing about Central Park- it is home to an amazing number of distinct and unique birds. This delightful book will help readers take a fresh look at what city life can offer. For the beginning birder, an additional section of the book offers descriptive facts about birds as well as some tips about how to take a successful nature walk.

-Juli K.
Posted 1/2/2020

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair
Amy Makechnie
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5 Stars

What happens when a parent requires more care and attention than their child? A traumatic brain injury has left Guinevere’s mother unable to remember anything after age 13. After years of failed treatments, the family has moved back to her hometown, hoping the familiar surroundings will jog her memory. While her father is busy caretaking, Guinevere finds herself embroiled in a local mystery involving a missing neighbor and her new nemesis, the cruel Gaysie Cutter. Makechnie’s ambitious debut features vivid descriptions and quirky, fully-realized characters. It is an original, emotionally-draining family drama punctuated by moments of humor. Recommended for mature readers, as it explores many complicated issues such as parental illness and abandonment, jealousy, and avoidance of reality through escapism.

-Christina
Posted 5/18/2019

Let's Have a Dog Party!
Mikela Prevost
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5 Stars

Kate has put together an exciting birthday party for her dog and best friend, Frank. There are thoughtful presents, colorful decorations, and a house full of loud guests! The only problem is that Frank just wants some peace and quiet. Check out this sweet story from Mikela Prevost to see how Frank handles the unwanted attention. This book is fantastic at introducing the concepts of shyness, social anxiety, and empathy, and would be especially great for parents and kids dealing with these issues. After all, everyone likes to party a little differently!

-Christina
Posted 5/18/2019

How to Walk an Ant
Cindy Derby
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

You’ve probably walked a dog before, but have you ever walked an ant? It can be a bit complicated, so you’d better consult the guide of expert ant walker, Amariya. She will tell you in just nine easy steps how to find an ant, gain its trust, and take it for a pleasant neighborhood stroll! Just be sure to browse the appendices for helpful information on ant anatomy and funerals (hey, accidents happen). This fun book features absurd humor that both parents and children will enjoy.

-Christina
Posted 5/18/2019

The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 pillars of Hip-Hop
Carole Boston Weatherford
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5 Stars

Trace the evolution of one of today’s most popular musical styles all the way back to its roots in African folktales, spirituals, and poetry. Discover the impact of musical icons from DJ Kool Herc in the 1970s to contemporary artists like Dr. Dre and Nas. The short, poetic text is powerful and well-researched. The illustrations flow together beautifully and are astounding in their detail and inclusion of signature hip hop imagery and culture. This is a work of art that can be appreciated on many levels, by fans as well as casual readers.

-Christina
Posted 5/18/2019

Cuentos para niños que se atreven a ser diferentes/ Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different
Ben Brooks
Find in Catalog

4.5 Stars

Esta colección inspiradora contiene las biografías breves de 100 hombres y niños famosos que han cambiado (o están en el proceso de cambiar) al mundo. Junto con las ilustraciones del estilo de cómic, las secciones son escritas de una manera emocionante y conmovedora que demanda la atención del lector. Quizás lo más impresionante es la diversidad de la gente escogida— artistas, atletas, científicos, y más de Siddhartha Gautama a Trevor Noah.

 

This inspiring collection contains the brief biographies of 100 famous men and boys who have changed (or are in the process of changing) the world. Along with the comic book-style illustrations, the sections are written in an exciting and moving way that commands the reader’s attention. Perhaps the most impressing aspect is the diversity of its chosen subjects— artists, athletes, scientists, and more from Siddhartha Gautama to Trevor Noah.

-Christina
Posted 4/10/2019

Pandora
Victoria Turnbull
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5 Stars

Pandora is a sweet and gentle fox who lives alone in a junkyard, fixing the broken treasures she finds. When she discovers a bird with a broken wing, she takes it home and nurses it back to health. But one day, the bird flies away and doesn’t return, leaving Pandora heartbroken. Will she ever be able to fix her broken heart? This touching story is full of beautiful illustrations that perfectly convey Pandora’s emotions. The text is simple and moving and invites us all to be kind as we connect with the people and beings around us. Fans of Marianne Dubuc’s The Lion and the Bird will enjoy the familiar story and detailed artwork.

-Christina
Posted 4/10/2019

Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom: The Lost Egg
Neville Astley
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Ben Elf and Princess Holly are best friends. One spring day they find an abandoned egg. Not knowing what to do they gather their forest friends to come up with a plan. Together they decide it must be a bird inside the unhatched egg. Find out how the group works together to hatch the egg and come up with a plan to find the baby bird’s mother. Along the way you will witness some very interesting solutions.

With a noteworthy setting and imaginative characters, this early reader provides an engaging format for the story. A helpful description of the characters at the beginning of the book additionally helps the reader to follow the story.

-Juli K.
Posted 4/10/2019

Surprise!
Caroline Hadilaksono
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Who wouldn’t love a surprise party thrown by a bear, a raccoon, and a squirrel? They have exotic delicacies like potato chips and orange soda! They even make hats out of pinecones! Find out what happens when a camping family stumbles upon such a scene in this hilarious book by the talented Caroline Hadilaksono.

-Christina
Posted 4/10/2019

Friends and Foes: Poems About Us All
Douglas Florian
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

The ups and downs of friendship are described in poetic verse in this appealing collection of 25 poems. In an engaging and humorous manner, the author describes a range of friendship struggles including deception, diversity, sharing, and jealousy. Other, more nuanced topics that are discussed with a sensitive flair include themes like imaginary friends, technology and friendships, and lost friendships. The collection of poems offers a comforting and fun-loving perspective to some of the most perplexing of friendship engagements. For instance, in the poem Give and Take, the reader is exposed to the inequalities found in relationships as is exposed in the following lines: “I gave you red rubies, blue sapphires, and gold. But you only sneezed and gave me your cold.” The crayon-etched illustrations perfectly punctuate the import behind the poems. Row boats separated by choppy waters and characters with woeful facial expressions are a good example of how an illustration can skillfully enrich the following poetry lines: “We used to be friends. We drifted away. Will we get back together some day”?

With the many different literary choices with which to examine the complicated world of friendships, this book offers a distinctive and unique alternative.

-Juli K.
Posted 4/10/2019

Readers Advisory Staff

Looking for something new for your child to read? Are you a teacher looking for something to read to your children? The Villa Park Public Library has a fantastic Readers Advisory staff that is happy to recommend all sorts of genres and titles. Whether you’re looking for new authors similar to old favorites, or you’re ready for something completely new, our staff is here to help. They organize fun programs like Toddler story and song time to help make reading a more social experience. These folks know their stuff!

Looking for a Recommendation?

If you’re looking for a recommendation you can contact one of the readers advisory staff.

Amity
Favorite genres:
Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Literature, and Books about weird animal friendships.
Amity’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Cristi
Favorite genres:
Comics and Young Adult Literature.
Cristi’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
heidi gHeidi
Favorite Genres:
Historical Non-Fiction and Fairy Tales.
Heidi’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
jean j_finalJean
Favorite Genres:
Books about animals that lose their hats and Mysteries.
Jean’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Juli K.
Favorite Genres:
Historical Nonfiction and Books about aquatic animals.
Juli’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Nancy
Favorite Genres:
Literary Fiction and Regional American History.
Nancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads.