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, May 31, 2012



E/M  Hunter-Gault, Charlayne.  To The Mountaintop.  Roaring Brook, 2012.  198p.  978-1-59643-605-3.  22.99.  A well seasoned journalist recounts the stressful, yet history making civil rights era of the 60s.  Even though she, herself, met with grave challenges as one of the first black students to attend an all-white University of Georgia, she expounds on the involvement and sacrifices of others.  Blacks and whites, northerners and southerners, young and old were involved in efforts to register African Americans for voting.  Lives were sacrificed and injuries were suffered on behalf of entitled rights for all.  This account of history is well supported with an eight-page timeline, a thorough index, a collection of articles, b/w photos and newspaper reprints.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Code Name Verity

Young Adult Historical Fiction

E/A  Wein, Elizabeth.  Code Name Verity.  Hyperion, 2012.  352p.  978-1-4231-5219-4.  16.99.

After two British girls, a pilot and a spy, crash their plane in Nazi occupied France, the spy is captured and imprisoned by the Germans. She is forced to give up her secrets and reveal her mission in writing. Instead, she tells us the story of her friend Maddie, the pilot of the crashed plane, whom she assumes is dead. Beautifully written and well researched, the author keeps you on the edge of your seat. Once the reader gets to the second half of the book, their perspective is completely altered, everything thought to be true isn’t exactly as it seems. The author does such an amazing job of incorporating clues that as a reader you’ll want to start from the beginning again to see what you might have missed. Highly recommended. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


V/A  Pringle, Laurence.  Billions of Years, Amazing Changes.  Boyds Mills, 2011.  102p.  978-1-59078-723-6.  17.95.  Our fascinating world continuously changes -- keeping us human beings observing and studying how these natural changes impact life.  Some situations in life can be explained with the assistance of DNA.  Some aspects of health can be adversely affected by unruly mutations.  Non-domesticated creatures compete for food and adapt to their surroundings in order to survive.  And fossils serve as a recorded history of past lives.  Glossary terms are clearly defined.  Most index entries offer referrals to several pages.  Each page number is accompanied by the silhouette of an elephant.  Handsome and well-labeled photographs plus a crisp, neat text beckon readers to learn in a fun way.  E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Article 5

General YA Fiction

G/A Simmons, Kristen. Article 5. Tor Teen, 2012. 368p. 978-0-7653-2958-5. $17.99

The U.S.A. has come out of a war that took its toll on many American cities. The regime that grows out of the ashes is scary and totalitarian. The Federal Bureau of Reformation (FBR) now polices the State. The Constitution is rescinded in favor of the Articles, a series of ‘Moral Statutes’ instituted to reinstate order after the war. Failure to comply with the Articles can lead to arrest and worse. Citizens in breach of the Articles disappear and are never heard from again. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller just wants to keep her head down and not draw attention to herself or her single mother. Her mother, however, is a free spirit and she worries Ember with her subtle attempts at rebellion. One day the FBR or Moral Militia (MM), as they’ve been unofficially nicknamed, come to Ember’s home to arrest Ember’s mother for an Article 5 violation, having a child out of legal wedlock. As if the shock and emotional distress of the arrest wasn’t enough, Ember recognizes one of the arresting FBR soldiers as Chase Jennings, former neighbor and childhood sweetheart. Ember’s mother is taken away and Ember is sent to a ‘rehabilitation’ center. The brutality of the ‘rehabilitation’ center makes Ember fear for what her mother must be going through and she vows to escape to find her mother.

Simmons has written a young adult novel with a salutary warning of what can happen if government is allowed to chip away at civil liberties. However, it would be wrong to think that this is a heavy weight story requiring intense critical thinking. Instead, it's a diverting mainstream dystopian tale, complete with a romance against all odds and characters that have to deal with the challenges of being teenagers under extreme circumstances.  All in all, Article 5 is a successful first installment in what promises to be an engaging series.

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