The Lost City of Atlantis

The Lost City of Atlantis by Natalie Hyde, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778722984. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This book provides an in-depth and even handed account of mankind’s fascination with and search for Atlantis. Young readers will be intrigued by the number of theories that have been put forth over the last two thousand years. The author uses mythology, history and scientific discoveries/theories to help each person to come to their own conclusion. Since the question of whether or not Atlantis really existed remains unanswered, readers will find sufficient information in the book to continue their own information quests and/or follow up on the theorized location they find most promising.

With very good photos and illustrations as well as a cast of philosophers and explorers spanning two millennia, there’s plenty in this work to catch and stimulate young minds.


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Filed under Grade 4-6, Nonfiction

Animals That Live in Social Groups

Animals That Live in Social Groups by Bobbi Kalman, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778727873. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Like many of the books Bobbi Kalman writes, this is information rich and easy to understand. She introduces younger readers to the concept of social groups by listing some of the names given to specific collections of animals—A mob of meerkats, a cotery of prairie dogs, etc. She differentiates between nuclear families and larger groups, then shows five groups of birds, insects and animals, challenging readers to match each with the name assigned to the group.

Specific groups of social animals and birds are covered in subsequent sections, beginning with elephants, then wolves, dolphins, penguins, lions, various species of apes, lemurs. meerkats and prairie dogs. Each group’s size, cohesion, fidelity and communication is covered, accompanied by well laid out photos. At the end is a two page section that encourages readers to reflect on how the information about animal groups relates to human social structure.

This is a good introductory work that will fit well in both school and public libraries where it can serve as a gateway to more complex and in depth material.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Cultural Traditions in Iran

Cultural Traditions in Iran by Lynn Peppas, Crabtree Publishing, 2015. ISBN: 9780778780618. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This book is part of a series introducing youngsters to celebrations, festivals and holidays in other countries. Given the political turmoil that has beset Iran, particularly events in the two years since the book was published, it is hard to measure whether cultural celebrations have been impacted and, if so, to what extent. Having said that, the author has provided a colorful and information rich look at celebrations in a country that youngsters in America (and other countries) may know little or nothing about. Festivals like Sizdah Bedar is an example. Falling 13 days after New Year, it is also called Nature Day. Families are encouraged to spend the day outside as well as use it to get rid of bad luck. Religious holidays like Ramadan and Ashura are covered in detail, with differences between how Shia and Sunni Muslims celebrate them noted. One that may strike American youngsters as unusual is Oil Nationalization Day. Overall it’s a well done and interesting look at festivals and celebrations in a country that remains a mystery to many in our country.

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Filed under Grade K-3, Nonfiction

Eat, Sleep, Poop

Eat, Sleep, Poop by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Jane Massey, Alfred Knopf, 2016. ISBN: 9780385755030. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


Short, lovingly illustrated and absolutely dead on for parents and siblings of new babies. Having enjoyed watching my granddaughter from birth to age three, I know she’ll laugh as I read this to her. It’s a great book for libraries who care about offering fun books to help toddlers accept a new sibling as well as for family read togethers.

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Filed under Picture Book, Preschool

The Runaway Egg

The Runaway Egg written and illustrated by Katy Hudson, Random House, 2017. ISBN: 9780553523195. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


A fine example of getting a message across while entertaining early readers. Little chick is asked by Mother Hen to watch his unhatched baby brother while Mom goes on an errand. Chick agrees, grumpily, as he can’t imagine what the deal is about watching an egg. He dozes off and wakes not long after to see legs sticking out of the egg. What follows is a madcap chase through the barnyard areas where other animals live as Chick desperately tries to catch up with the egg that has legs.

Older siblings will enjoy the colorful chase while (hopefully) absorbing the message that they’re important and can help in the care of younger brothers and sisters.

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Filed under Fiction, Preschool

Genetic Engineering and Developments in Biotechnology

Genetic Engineering and Developments in Biotechnology by Anne Rooney, Crabtree Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9780778775386. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.


This is another good entry in the Crabtree Engineering series. It starts with the same introduction-the eight steps engineers use in the development process, then lists some of the areas where genetic engineering is most promising, including agriculture, medicine, environmental management, research and conservation (notably of endangered species). The book does acknowledge the fact that there are aspects of genetic engineering which are fairly controversial. It describes how genes work, mentions the Human Genome Project, while noting that mapping has been completed, but the functions of the more than 20,000 genes is far from being identified..

How genetic engineering works, who the notable pioneers have been/are, what cloning is and how introducing changed material into cells works are next. Ethical issues surrounding GMOs, how difficult future choices may be as well as some modifications like disease resistant bees, plus the potential to bring back extinct creatures like the Woolly Mammoth round out this text. While it doesn’t go into great depth about any of these areas, it still provides younger students with an eye-opening introduction to an aspect of engineering that will only grow in importance as time goes on.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Nonfiction

Denton Little’s Still Not Dead

Denton Little’s Still Not Dead, by Lance Rubin. 8 compact discs-9 hours. Penguin Random House Audio, 2017. ISBN: 9780553556056. $28.09. Gr. 8 Up- Reviewed by John R. Clark.

How would you feel if you lived in a world where almost everyone knew their deathdate and all of a sudden, you lived past yours? Then you meet your real mom who supposedly died giving birth to you, but is determined to eliminate deathdates. For teenage Denton Little, this is his new reality. Before he can process this, he’s being pursued by DIA (Death Investigation Agency ) agents intent upon eliminating him, his mother is trying to hide him and he’s determined to find a way to save his best friend Pablo from his just days away deathdate, while maybe hooking up with Pablo’s older sister.

What follows are car chases, people who aren’t exactly who/what he thought they were, girls who are into him, a few definitely not into him and some pretty intricate maneuvers to evade the DIA. Add in Denton discovering family secrets aplenty, a really odd way for other kids to avoid their deathdates and the oddest graduation night you’ve ever read about and you have a fun read.

The author does a great job as narrator, making Denton sound like the hormone infused kid he is. Verdict: While it helps to have read the first book, there’s plenty in this one to amaze and entertain listeners. Be aware that the language is pretty salty at times, but for libraries where this isn’t a big issue, this is a definite addition.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t Kiss the Messenger

Don’t Kiss the Messenger by Katie Ray, Entangled Publishing, 2017. ISBN: 9781544236797. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

dont kiss

What happens when a traumatic accident creates an emotional prison you believe will hold you forever? That’s CeCe Edmonds’ reality. She and her mom were hit by a drunk driver when she was little and the resulting scar that runs from her forehead to the corner of her mouth is what she believes everyone sees first. Maybe, but someone completely unexpected is able to see the amazing person behind it, although neither realizes it at first. Football quarterback Emmett Brady has his own locked away pain, in his case, the death the previous year of his dad.

When they meet, as literature critique partners, neither can imagine where that meeting will lead them. CeCe’s a star volleyball player and when her new transfer teammate Bryn DeNeuville, catches Emmett’s eye, Bryn panics. She’s never had to talk intelligently to a guy she likes. After coercing CeCe into texting and emailing Emmett while pretending to be her, things become an awkward mess. The more CeCe and Emmett go back and forth, the more they realize how they spark each others passions, but only one knows who the players are.

Emmett loves music as much as football and is struggling to create an original song for his performance class. Guess where the inspiration comes from? Watching the whole convoluted situation unravel, in part thanks to some wise and quirky secondary characters, makes for a very enjoyable read. This sits on the edge between YA and NA romantic fiction and is equally appropriate for either collection in a library.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12

Stealing Kevin’s Heart

Stealing Kevin’s Heart by M. Scott Carter, Roadrunner Press, (November 13, 2012). ISBN: 9781937054069. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

Stealing kevins Heart

Alex and Kevin were the unlikeliest of best friends, one nerdy, artistic and Jewish, the other burly and a jock. They bonded when Kevin’s family moved into the house next to where Alex lived, sharing chicken pox, teen insecurity and jokes as they grew older. A year ago, they got motorcycles. One fateful day, Kevin talked Alex into skipping and going biking. Alex watched as a drunk driver hit Kevin’s bike and he died.

The guilt and grief of losing his best friend overwhelmed Alex, so much so that he cut himself off from the world, gave up on school and scared his family. Scared them so much, they forced him to go from his home in Stillwater to a wilderness camp for troubled teens in southwestern Oklahoma.

The last thing Alex expects to meet is someone like Rachel. She’s sweet and insightful, doesn’t seem depressed and won’t let him blow her off. The more he’s around her, the harder it is for him to stay angry and sad. When her evil ex-boyfriend, Danny, attacks her, Alex discovers them and fights Danny off. It’s a turning point in his painful journey back to life.

Readers will figure out early on what the unspoken connection between Kevin, Alex and Rachel is, but that hardly matters. Watching the two teens connect and figure out what they mean to each other is the important part. Teens who have suffered a devastating loss, like a really nice romance or who like stories with strong emotional components are going to like this one a lot.

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Filed under Fiction, Grade 10-12, Grade 7-9

Dahlov Ipcar, Artist

Dahlov Ipcar, Artist by Pat Davidson Reef, Thomaston, ME : Custom Museum Publishing, 2016. ISBN: 9781633810877. Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS.

Beautifully done update that blends art and the story of how Dahlov and her family settled in Maine. Younger readers, teachers and parents will all enjoy the art, bits of personal history and how the artist’s career was worked around the demands of a relatively primitive life on a coastal Maine farm. Pat Davidson Reef has done the people of Maine (and the world) a great service in detailing the story of an amazing Maine artist. This is a book well worth having in both school and public libraries and is very timely given the artist’s passing so recently.

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Filed under Grade 4-6, Grade 7-9, Nonfiction