Monday, October 17, 2016

Football: The Math of the Game by Shane Frederick

It's back to school and back to football! Why not get the best of both worlds as the season kicks off? Football: The Math of the Game shows students the basic rules of the game while demonstrating that this great American pastime is all about the math. How big is the football field? How many degrees does the running back turn on a slant route? Aside from learning about mathematical concepts and how they connect to the game of football, the book also mentions statistics of standout players and explains, through the use of mathematics, how such statistics contribute to their teams’ successes and failures. Football: The Math of the Game is a great way to get students thinking beyond the classroom and how a subject area such as math can be applied to more than just number problems. The book is accessible to students reading at a 5th grade level and above. It contains a small glossary with both math and football vocabulary.--Claudio Leon

Frederick, Shane. Football: The Math of the Game. Mankato: Capstone Press, 2012. Print.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This Newberry Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winning memoir is the story of author Jacqueline Woodson’s own childhood, growing up in South Carolina and Brooklyn in the 1960s and 70s.  Told in free verse, close attention is paid to both the minute details and character-shaping events that make up a childhood.  The Civil Rights Movement lays the backdrop for Woodson’s tale of how family, religion, and school shaped her idea of home and sense of personal identity.  Highly recommended for middle grade fans of free verse and realistic fiction.  --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Friday, September 30, 2016

100 Suns by Michael Light

How many times did the United States test atomic bombs?  Where did they test them?  What did the explosions look like?  As Passages’ Living Environment curriculum gets underway and students consider the atom, librarians may supplement instruction with this stunning and disturbing pictorial documenting the testing of nuclear bombs first on the mainland and subsequently on unlucky islands.  Author Michael Light keeps the text to a bare minimum for much of the book, allowing the reader’s curiosity to be piqued and then extended as the images of explosions pile up.  The backmatter reveals Light’s well-researched captions as well as a powerfully succinct timeline of the progression of the development of atomic bombs and key events of World War II.  Notes on stockpiling highlight the escalation of the arms race between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.  Struggling readers will appreciate the chance to access the text via the reading of images, and more sophisticated readers may enjoy the initial mystery of the buried captions and will find much to chew on once the backmatter is uncovered. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Light, Michael.  100 Suns.  New York: Knopf, 2003.  Print.

Click here for an interview with Michael Light on 100 Suns which was published in afterimage's July/August 2005 issue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects, and Cults -- Exposed! By Julie Tibbot

What are they hiding?  So begins this tantalizing non-fiction title, preparing the reader to delve into the secret (and sometimes not-so-secret) histories of twenty-two groups following alphabetic order and concluding with the Thugees, which, I was fascinated to learn, is with whom the word “thug” originates.  Each chapter follows a template which provides the date or period in which the group originated, their current status, and summarizes in one sentence the group’s exclusivity, secrecy, threat, and quirkiness.  
After this half-page profile in a text box, Tibbott goes on to introduce the reader to the history and background of the group, followed by a section on how to get in and what reportedly goes on within the group.  Interspersed throughout the text are photographs, symbol illustrations, and relevant features on topics.  Examples include Zora Neale Hurston’s account of meeting Felicia Felix-Mentor (an allegedly zombified woman) following the chapter on the Bizango (founded in Haiti in the 18th century), and a list of big name Masons ( including contemporary public figures Jesse Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal along with historical personages like Oscar Wilde and George Washington).  Perfect for older adolescent readers requesting information on the Illuminati (see page 89), the biggest problem with this book is that unsurprisingly, the author chose not to cite her sources. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Tibbott, Julie.  Members Only: Secret Societies, Sects and Cults--Exposed!  San Francisco: Zest Books, 2014.  Print.

Monday, September 19, 2016

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

Thirteen-year-old Ben is convinced nothing in life is forever.  It’s hard to blame him after having spent so much time in foster care and with a revolving door of good and bad people coming in and out of his life.  A fateful encounter with a little dog named Flip brings new friends into his world, and the courageous Rainbow Girl battling cancer, her librarian mom, and magician dad offer him a glimpse of forever.  But can he hold on to it?  A simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking story of friendship, family, and lasting moments.  This middle grade novel set in Brooklyn will appeal to fans of realistic fiction, especially if sci-fi also holds a special place in their hearts.  Another fantastic offering from frequent Passages Academy Libraries Visiting Author Paul Griffin.   --Anne Lotito-Schuh

Griffin, Paul. When Friendship Followed Me Home. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016. Print.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Be Back Soon

Thanks for reading! 

We'll be on hiatus for the next couple of months and we'll be back with more reviews in September.  We wish you a summer full of great reads.

The What's Good? Crew

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer’s Edition by Guinness World Records Limited

Ever wanted to know how much money you could earn by winning a Call of Duty Tournament? $125,000. How about the best-selling independently made game? Minecraft, which has sold over 60 million copies and made a total of $318.5 million dollars. Not bad for a game that originally only cost $820 to make. But it’s not all numbers, the Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer’s Edition contains a deluge of interesting information about video games, all of which is presented in the form of infographics and organized alphabetically by game title. Pages are sprinkled with tips and tricks, sidebars about particular records, and most of all filled with pictures from the games mentioned. This volume also explains to readers how to go about breaking a record and making it into the book. Record breakers and video game players alike should enjoy looking through all the information this book has to offer.--Claudio Leon

Guinness World Records Limited, and Bastian Heinlein. Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer's Edition. Hamburg: Hoffmann Und Campe, 2015. Print.

The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake

If there is ever a time when one feels as though they are on an island unto themselves and simultaneously on center stage with Broadway lights highlighting all of their perceived flaws, it would be the middle school years. A time when you feel so lonely, but are surrounded by so many people, people whose eyes and words singe deeply. Sharon Flake does an impeccable job portraying this scenario from the perspective of a thirteen-year-old girl, Maleeka Madison-the-third [sic], a bright student whose past and low self-esteem lingers in her everyday choices. It is a new, tough teacher, Miss Saunders, who is always in Maleeka's business and whose own imperfections act as a lens for her in learning to love the skin she's in. With this lesson, Maleeka takes control and is finally able to break free from the hold of the most popular girl in the grade, Char. With vocabulary that is accessible to a wide range of readers, I highly recommend this title to middle and high school girls.--Allison Trevaskis

Flake,  Sharon G. The Skin I’m In. New York: Jump at the Sun Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, 1998.  Print.

Click here for the Anti-Defamation League’s discussion guide and resource links pertaining to The Skin I’m In.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Laughing at my Nightmare by Shane Burca

Unable to use his limbs, Shane Burcaw has spent the better part of his lifetime making friends, jokes, and sly observations from his wheelchair.  Burcaw decided to put his refreshing humor to good use in this memoir chronicling his challenges and triumphs from the first twenty years of his life.  Readers will empathize and laugh with Shane as he gets through school and navigates the social waters of college with lots of cursing and jokes along the way.  Highly recommended to anyone wishing to walk (or roll) a mile in someone else’s shoes.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Burcaw, Shane.  Laughing at My Nightmare.  New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014.  Print.

Friday, June 10, 2016

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Imagine a future in which everything is the same as it is now, except a new breakthrough in brain science has made it possible for specially trained surgeons to erase memories.  The procedure is in high demand, and teens can’t opt in without a parent’s signature and a bunch of money.  What would you do if you were Aaron--sixteen years old and unable to shake the memory of finding your father dead from suicide?  Set in NYCHA projects in the Bronx, this novel’s protagonist has a strong and unique voice and comes across as sensitive and seemingly self-aware.  A supporting cast of familiar, less-developed characters as Aaron’s family and friends comes together to tackle heavy themes of identity, memory, family, love, and loss with several surprising twists and some unusual chronology.  Highly recommended for more sophisticated readers ready to move beyond titles like How it Went Down and I Hunt Killers, and a must-read for fans of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.--Jessica Fenster-Sparber

Silvera, Adam.  More Happy Than Not.  New York: Soho Press, 2015. Print.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I, Witness by Norah McClintock, Illustrated by Mike Deas

When Boone and Robbie witness the murder of a man the decision to keep their mouths shut is simple. But when Robbie is then murdered, Boone is sent into a spiral of fear. If this weren’t already challenging enough for Boone to handle, the family of his murdered friend believes he knows who the murderer is and want Boone to come forward. Boone must decide to either put his life at risk or continue suffering in silence. Similar to Yummy and Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm, I, Witness is a black and white graphic novel. It uses a gritty art style to convey the challenges of growing up surrounded by violence and having to make tough choices in order to stay alive. I Witness does a great job at sucking the reader in within the first chapter. The story is well paced and keeps readers guessing up until the last page. Students looking for a graphic novel a bit longer than Yummy will be sure to pick this one up.--Claudio A. Leon
McClintock, Norah & Deas, Mike. I, Witness. Washington: Orca Book Publishers, 2012. Print.