Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed

General YA Nonfiction

G/A Reef, Catherine. Jane Austen: A Life Revealed. Clarion, 2011. 208 p. 9780547370217 $18.99

Catherine Reef explores Jane's life as a single woman in England at a time when to be an unmarried woman meant being forever dependent on your relatives. Throughout the biography, Reef summarizes her novels putting them in the context of life at that time and Jane's life in particular. A good introduction to the life and works of Jane Austen.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lincoln’s Flying Spies

Good/Average, Middle School

Lincoln’s Flying Spies: Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps by Gail Jarrow

From 1861-1863, the Union Army had a special Balloon division that spied on Confederate forces during the Civil War. From high in the air, armed with a telegraph, Thaddeus Lowe and his team would tell commanders about camp and troop movements, so much so that the Confederate forces would hide their numbers and even made fake cannons out of tree trunks to fool the Union. Cannons were fired at the balloons, but mostly they were too far out of range to hit, except when the balloons were being raised or lowered. This book is filled with black and white photos, illustrations, and other documentation of this short-lived aeronautical force. Extensive endnotes are included along with a timeline and extensive index. This biographical work is appropriate for school reports for the middle grades, as well as general interest reading about this little known specialized force and the hard work of one man to create it.

-Corinda J. Humphrey, Los Angeles Public Library

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Steps Across the Water

Fantasy, Elementary/Middle School, VG/A

Gopnik, Adam (Author), McCall, Bruce (Illustrator). The Steps Across the Water. Hyperion, 2010. 304p. 978-1423112136. $17.99

This is a charming story about Rose, a young girl who lives in New York City. Rose is adopted and although she feels absolutely loved and accepted by her family, she still can’t help feeling a little bit of an outsider at times. One of the things Rose feels most self-conscious about is her habit of inverting words. For instance, she’ll say “U Nork” instead of saying “New York”. This all comes to have great significance when Rose discovers that there really is a place called U Nork and that it’s at the other end of “The Steps Across the Water” in Central Park. U Nork is similar to, but also fantastically different from, New York City. In U Nork, buildings have thousands of floors, giant pigeons and zeppelins populate the skies and a centralized prison inhabits their version of Central Park known as “Sin-Trail Park”. Unfortunately, U Nork is also in need of saving from an evil villain known as the Ice Queen. Much to Rose’s surprise, the citizens of U Nork seem convinced that Rose is key to defeating the Ice Queen. One can’t help but cheer for Rose, our immensely likeable if unsuspecting hero. There are also some truly funny passages in the book like the “truth” behind NYC taxi drivers. Sophisticated readers might work out the plot twists but even if they do, it’s still a fun read.

-Patsy Pinedo Tuck, Eagle Rock Branch, Los Angeles Public Library