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Book Reviews

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all seasons
Julie Fogliano
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With her touching poetry, Julie Fogliano helps us visualize the changing world of seasons. By using a collection of poems for each season, she brings to life the experiences and moods that the various season evoke. The intriguing title gives the reader a glimpse at the stirring and beautiful imagery used to unwrap our sensations to the brilliance of nature. I was captivated by the vibrantly and expressively laden phrases such as: “shivering and huddled close, the forever rushing daffodils wished they had waited” or “the sky was too busy sulking to rain and the sun was exhausted from trying”. Each of the individual poems brings us a fresh, bite-sized look at both the virtues and misgivings of each season. Poems such as the one written for September 22 richly visualize the feelings we might experience surrounding the transition between seasons: “ I still love you sunshine and swimming and sea and strawberries, you know I do, but I’m ready to move on to something that’s new so now, I am waiting for sweaters.”

Collectively the poems paint a delightful picture of the changes we experience with the passing of one season to the next. The layout of the book, which uses random dates as entries for each poem, provides the reader with a variety of reference points with which to interpret the text. The award-winning illustrator, Julie Morstad, adds an engaging visual portrayal to enhance our experience.


A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Slippery Slope
Lemony Snicket
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In this young adult series Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have endured many tragedies. These include losing their parents, being in the cruel care of Count Olaf and others, and having him chase after them wherever they go in order to steal their fortune. Violet and Klaus are trying to figure out the mysterious organization that their parents were members of, all the while searching for Sunny, who has been kidnapped by Count Olaf. In the tenth book of the series, author Lemony Snicket continues his quirky style. This witty book will keep you reading more and more to find out what happens and if all three siblings will be together again.


Scaredy Squirrel
Melanie Watt
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Scaredy Squirrel doesn’t venture off his tree for obvious reasons (sharks, aliens, germs, spiders and poison ivy). Accidentally taking a leap off the tree after knocking down his emergency kit, Squirrel realizes he is a flying squirrel. The thrill of the flight leads Squirrel to make some changes to his daily routine. Watt’s unique storytelling and humor make this book a joy to read for all ages. You can also explore other titles in the series with Scaredy Squirrel doing different things outside his comfort zone like going to the beach, making a friend, and hosting a birthday party.


Ronald L. Smith
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Set amidst the sultry Southern swamps of Alabama in the 1930s, Hoodoo is an atmospheric tale of magic and mystery. 12 year-old Hoodoo Hatcher doesn’t quite fit into his family of folk magic practitioners. As much as he tries, he can’t seem to cast a spell. But with the arrival of a menacing figure known only as The Stranger, Hoodoo will find himself and his abilities tested against The Stranger’s black magic. Will he finally be able to harness his skills and save the town before it’s too late? Hoodoo is both scary and heartwarming in turns, with loveable characters and a truly realized setting. The South plays an important role both geographically and historically as a place with a troubling history of complicated race relations and witchcraft. Highly recommended for fans of the horror genre.


We don't eat our classmates
Ryan T. Higgins
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Penelope Rex is having a hard time adjusting to school, particularly because she is a T. Rex and all of her classmates are ‘delicious’ human children. Penelope makes a bad first impression by gulping her classmates, only to have to spit them out. See how Penelope learns to get along at school in this adorable book by Ryan T. Higgins. The book is written and illustrated with Higgin’s usual wit and humor. While the book is easy to read, intended for ages three to five, it has enough content to keep all ages entertained. Highly recommended; five out of five stars.


Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery
Sandra Neil Wallace and Bryan Collier
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Learn how Ernie Barnes went from a young boy drawing in the mud to a pro NFL player and finally to being named America’s best sports painter since George Bellows. Growing up in the segregated south of the 1940s, Ernie didn’t have much access to art and it certainly wasn’t seen as a potential career by his family. When a football coach noticed his impressive stature and strength, Ernie began pursuing athletics, but his heart was never fully invested in it. He wanted nothing more to paint and eventually his hard work, dedication, and passion for art would pay off. This is an inspiring story about overcoming social, financial, and professional hurdles in order to pursue one’s dreams. It also reminds us that there is beauty and art in everything, including football.


James Ponti
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If you’re looking for a good mystery book with a variety of surprises, this could be the read for you. Twelve-year-old Florian Bates, with his brilliant and intuitive detective skills, has become a consultant for the FBI. Florian, along with his best friend Margaret, has been asked to take on a suspicious series of pranks taking place at an exclusive school in the Washington, DC area. What makes this particular case especially sensitive is the fact that the President of the United States’s daughter may be implicated in the pranks. This book will awaken the reader’s detective instincts as they are pulled into the many different twists and turns to the plot.

This story offers not only the intrigue of a good mystery, but also a look into the ongoing relationship struggles that middle school students regularly experience.  Learn how Florian, while an exceptional detective, also must contend with his fluctuating status as a middle school student as he goes up against the school bully.


¡La Paloma necesita un baño! (Pigeon needs a bath!)
Mo Willems (Translation by Anna Llisterri)
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This is a hilarious book with simple illustrations and a loveable reappearing character in the books by Mo Willems. Pigeon does not want to take a bath. It doesn’t matter how dirty he gets. Or does it? Will Pigeon ever take a bath?

Éste es un libro cómico con ilustraciones simples, y un personaje encantador que reaparece en los libros de Mo Willems. Paloma no quiere bañarse. No le importa cómo sucia está. ¿O sí? ¿Paloma no va a bañarse nunca más?


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.

heidi gHeidi
Favorite Genres:
Historical Non-Fiction, Fairy TalesHeidi’s bookshelf on Goodreads
jean j_finalJean
Favorite Genres:
Books about animals that lose their hats, MysteriesJean’s bookshelf on Goodreads
juliepJulie P.
Favorite genres:
Fantasy, Science FictionJulie’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Favorite Genres:
Literary Fiction, Regional American HistoryNancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Favorite Genres:
Mysteries, Science FictionChristina’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Juli K.
Favorite Genres:
Historical Non-Fiction and MysteriesJuli’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy and MysteryLaura’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Favorite Genres:

Historical Non-Fiction, Women’s LiteratureJawahir’s bookshelf on Goodreads