Friday, December 30, 2016

Unposted #audiobook reviews of 2016

As the year draws to a close, I realized that I've never posted several audio books that I've reviewed for AudioFile Magazine.

Here they are in no particular order (all titles are linked to my full reviews on AudioFile Magazine)

The Last Execution

by Jesper Wung-Sung 
A short YA title based on a true story.
"Surreal would be the best description of this book if only it were not based on truth. In 1853, Denmark exercised the death penalty for a final time, cleaving the head from 15-year-old Niels Nelson."  

by Joan Aiken
"This collection of eight short stories contains gentle tales of fantasy and magic--not the magic of wizards and wands, but of wishing mats and enormous cats and gifts brought by the winds."

by Ridley Pearson 
"This audiobook is a prequel to the Lock and Key series, a contemporary revision of the Sherlock Holmes canon. "
by Carrie Jones
 The first in a YA series.
"Kate Reinders narrates this campy story about Mana, a high school cheerleader who finds herself battling aliens in a quest to find her missing mom." 
by Nanci Turner Steveson
 "Narrator Tara Sands realistically interprets a well-off teen's wry observations of her dysfunctional family and their friends.
by Martha Jocelyn 
YA series
"Part of the high-interest series Secrets, this audiobook includes support for reluctant readers through narrator Kelly Pruner's clear diction, easy pacing, and decidedly conversational tone."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I'm blogging for ALSC today!

I'm blogging for the Association for Library Service to Children today with winners, news, and an invitation - all from ALA/ALSC's Great Websites for Kids Committee.

Please hop over to the ALSC Blog to see what's new!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Nazi Hunters - an audiobook review

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi
by Neal Bascomb
Read by Jason Culp
Scholastic Audiobooks, 2016

I reviewed this book for AudioFile Magazine, and it's the recipient of an Earphones Award.The Nazi Hunters chronicles the 16-year ordeal to capture the notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. Narrator Jason Culp conveys a palpable sense of the fear and tension endured in dangerous and fraught circumstances.

My complete review of The Nazi Hunters for AudioFile Magazine is here.

Want to see the 2016 Best Audiobooks list as selected by AudioFile Magazine?  You can receive free access to the complete guide and enter their contest for 6 months of free audiobooks.  The guide is a great resource if you're in collection development with some budget money left over! Click here for details.  The contest ends tomorrow!

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Monster Calls - read the book first!

A Monster Calls (with Liam Neeson as the monster) is due out in theaters this month.  The movie is based on a book which was begun by Siobhan Dowd and finished by Patrick Ness. I wrote a booktalk for A Monster Calls in 2011.  You can read it here.

It's too soon to tell if the movie will be as good as the book, but give yourself a chance to find out.  Read the book first.  Below is the original book trailer, followed by the new movie trailer.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Moo - a review

I recently reviewed the audio book version of Moo by Sharon Creech.

I'm not permitted to repost my review here, but you can easily hop over to AudioFile Magazine and read it there. []

Sharon Creech's customary poetic frugality with words is evident in Moo, a story of two siblings, a family's move to Maine, and an obstinate cow named Zora. The audio version is read by Brittany Presley. You can't go wrong with Sharon Creech, and the brevity of her offerings makes her a perennial reluctant-reader favorite.

Other Sharon Creech books or short stories featured on Shelf-employed:
Can you tell that I'm a big Sharon Creech fan? 😊

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing that you have many things for which to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

Enjoy these late 19th and early 20th century images from the Library of Congress.

Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving Dinner / Thomas Nast, 1869

Thanksgiving turkey, circa 1910

 Want to see more images of early Thanksgiving photos, documents, and articles?  Start with the Library of Congress' digitized collection. []  The Library of Congress has a vast collection of online resources on a wide variety of subjects.  Visit your national library online at h or in person next time you're in Washington, D.C.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Gunpowder Girls - a review

Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies by Tanya Anderson
Quindaro Press, 2016

Gunpowder Girls is an historical account of three tragic events that took place during the Civil War—deadly explosions at arsenals in Lawrenceville, PA, Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC.   The majority of those killed in the explosions were poor young, hoop-skirted girls.  Many were Irish or German immigrants or young women and girls in dire financial circumstances due to the war.

Tanya Anderson combines first-person accounts, photographs, maps, explanatory asides, and realia, e.g., payroll records, Minié balls, and percussion caps, to bring little-known stories of the Civil War to life.  Anderson takes great care to explain not only what happened, but how it happened, to whom it happened, and the aftermath of the events.

In one instance, an accidental contributor to a deadly explosion provided an account of the incident prior to her death from injuries sustained. Her own account is used to set the scene,

     At about 10:45 A.M., one of the supervisors, Mr. McCarthy, made his usual rounds, checking on the girls and reminding them about working quickly but safely.  He had a reputation for being almost overly concerned about safety.  As he stepped beside Mary Ryan, he pointedly told her to be careful.  Her work was particularly dangerous, and Mary had been warned before when she tried to bang loose some primers that were stuck on a varnish board.  Satisfied that he had reminded her, Mr. McCarthy left the room.
     Mary continued working, picking the primers from the boards and stacking them into piles in front of her.
Mary's eventual failure to heed Mr. McCarthy's warning, however, isn't the whole story.  There was overcrowding, pressure to meet quotas, a desperate need to make money, paltry pay based on "piecework," and other factors.  Gunpowder Girls brings the complex stories of these young girls to light and life in a way that will resonate with young people.

Several two-page explanatory insets add context to the story, explaining among other things, the workings of rifles and the process of making cartridges.

Gunpowder Girls is another solid addition to Quindaro's new lineup of true stories written for today's YA readers.  They must be doing something right.  My daughter took my copy home with her to read on the plane.

Extremely well sourced and researched, Gunpowder Girls contains
  • Introduction
  • Table of Contents
  • Epilogue
  • Author's Note
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Recommended Reading
  • Index
  • About the Author
 Enjoy this official Gunpowder Girls trailer, targeted at its YA audience:

In August, I reviewed Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg, also by Tanya Anderson, from Quindaro Press.

My copy of Gunpowder Girls was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Extreme Wildfire - an interview with Mark Thiessen

Today I am pleased to offer a brief interview with Mark Thiessen
photographer and author of  Extreme Wildfire, published by National Geographic Kids, 2016.

Extreme Wildfire is a holistic view of wildfires—including scientific, historical, personal, tactical, and ecological aspects—and of course, there are the fantastic photos.

Photo by Mark Thiessen  © National Geographic

LT: Considering the danger and importance of fighting wildfires, I'm shocked that the training period for wildland firefighters is only five days!  Did you really feel prepared after only five days of training?
MT: You might call the five days of training “survival training”. It's basically everything you need to know so you won’t get yourself killed. Don’t try to outrun a fire going up hill, or always know where your escape route is and your safety zone. It’s 4 days of classroom instruction followed by practicing to deploy your fire shelter, and finally a practice fire. But certainly not enough to know how to fight a wildfire. That is learned on the job. Only a few rookies are added to a crew every year and they train with them leading up to fire season. It’s a great honor and they only accept the best of the best. The first task is fire training to get your “red card”.
The first time a rookie experiences the drudgery of digging line is when they work their first practice fire. To contain a wildfire you need to remove the vegetation along the fires perimeter down to mineral soil, a path about 2 ft wide. This is hard, back breaking work and even harder until you learn the technique. I will never forget a young, gung-ho rookie as we dug fire line on our practice fire. He was thoroughly exhausted after only 30 minutes of digging line. On the ride back to town he sat silent, he had that “50 ft. stare in a 10 ft. room” look about him. I knew what he was thinking, “What have it got myself into? How can I dig line all day, all summer long, when I can’t even do it for 30 minutes?”
LT: There are few people I know who would not want to be a National Geographic photographer.  On the other hand, knowing many firefighters, I can also understand that you've been "bit by the fire bug."  You've been very fortunate to combine two of your great interests.  If all things were equal financially, and you had to choose between photographer and firefighter, which would you choose?
MT: For many reasons, I would still like to do what I’m doing now, which is a photographer telling the story of fire. First you have the fire which moves like its alive and at times it's very beautiful. Next you have the firefighters who love the outdoors, love adventure and I want to show what it's like from the inside. Finally you have the issues of people moving into natural areas where fire has been the dominant player since the last ice age. It's not an matter of if wildfire is going to hit an area but when.  Not to mention firefighting is very hard work.
LT: You wrote of having flame retardant dropped on you from a plane. What special measures do you take to protect your equipment?
MT: It’s extremely dry and dusty out west during fire season. I’m afraid there isn’t much I can do to protect my equipment other than wipe it down at the end of the day and try to blow the dust off of it. The biggest problem is getting dust on my camera sensor when I change lenses. I can avoid this problem by having a camera body attached to each lens so I never have to change lenses. But no matter how hard I try, I still end up with dust inside my lenses.
LT: The goal of any writer, artist, or photographer is to evoke emotion.  What feeling do strive to create in your photos? Without a firefighter in the frame, how do you capture emotion?
MT: Fire is as beautiful as it is terrifying. And when you can anticipate the situation and get there when it’s going to happen, you just can’t take enough pictures of it. You end up in these other-wordly places. You’re in the middle of a forest with trees burning all around you – and it’s just magical. All of my favorite pictures all have this other-worldly feel to them. I hope to get into those situations where the light is doing things that it doesn’t normally do. I’m always drawn to photographing things where the light source is in the picture. So fire at night is a great opportunity for that.
LT: This final question was posed by my husband,  a veteran of as crusty a bunch of North Jersey firefighters as you're likely to meet! 😉When you are working as a photographer with a firefighting crew, do they accept you "into the fold?"  Do you share in the camaraderie?
 MT: Because I have been doing this for so long, I’ve developed a good reputation among firefighters. Yet I’m always working with crews for the first time. They can be a little “standoff-ish” at first. But after my first day with them, I call it “getting to know me day”, they see how I carry my self around fire and I earn their respect. After a week we are good friends, exchanging emails and becoming friends on Facebook. I also follow through on my promise to send them photos of themselves fighting fire.
LT: My thanks to Mark Thiessen, his publicist, and publisher!

From the National Geographic Store website:

Mark Thiessen has been a photographer with National Geographic since 1990. He is widely published in all areas of the National Geographic Society, including National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Adventure, and National Geographic Traveler. National Geographic books that feature Thiessen's work include Return to Midway, which documents the discovery of the U.S.S Yorktown, and Baseball as America, a look at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

My copy of Extreme Wildfire was provided by the author's publicist 

Thursday, October 6, 2016


For the second time in four years, I find myself in the path of an epic hurricane.  As I was during Superstorm Sandy, I am thankful for a safe place to shelter with my family and dog while I anxiously await our fate. I hope Hurricane Matthew will treat me better than Superstorm Sandy, but I have my doubts.  In the meantime, I'll be on Twitter @shelfemployed.

Photo credit: NASA

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Who Wins? - a review

From time to time, Workman Publishing is kind enough to let me check out their new offerings. Today I take a look at Who Wins?

Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!
By Clay Swartz, Illustrated by Tom Booth
Workman Publishing Company, 2016

Who Wins? is similar to the Brain Quest games also published by Workman, but Who Wins?, while less portable (it's a larger size and doesn't have a plastic storage box), has two advantages over Brain Quest.

  1. From a kid's perspective, Who Wins? is more than just a collection of facts to memorize or use to challenge each other.  It's a "throw down" between historical characters using any of 50 challenges including vampire hunting, babysitting, escaping Alcatraz, and  running a Fortune 500 company - just the type of thing that's likely to appeal to gamer kids. Consider this: would Sojourner Truth's bravery serve her better than Thomas Edison's intelligence when searching out the nocturnal undead?  In short, Who Wins? is cooler than its predecessor, Brain Quest.
  2.  From an adult perspective, Who Wins? is a great tool for using critical thinking skills.  Kids must read the short bio of each historical figure; factor in their numerical ratings for Wealth, Fitness, Wisdom, Bravery, Artistry, Leadership, and Intelligence; and argue their positions using facts. Each reader is free to draw her own fact-based conclusion.

The only thing lacking in Who Wins? is the source material for the facts presented. The book's tri-section, spiral-bound format does not offer an easy place to display this information, but it would be nice to see it available online.

So, who wins?  Anyone who plays Who Wins? !

Sunday, September 25, 2016

#BannedBooksWeek begins today!

 Catcher in the Rye . . . Harry Potter . . . Captain Underpants . . . Every year, there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from schools and libraries. Celebrate YOUR freedom to read and right to choose your book during Banned Books Week, September 25 to October 1. For more information, visit

Friday, September 23, 2016

Eat your greens reds yellows and purples - a review

Eat your greens reds yellows and purples

DK Children's Cookbook
DK Publishing, 2016

I'll admit that I checked this book out for me.  Eat your greens reds yellows and purples (why there are no commas, I'm not sure)  The photographs are beautiful and the recipes are great!  Each color (orange - ever the slighted one, was left out of the title but included in the book) receives an introductory page and photo, a double-spread collage of all its edible goodness (see the "red" photo below), and at least four recipes.

I made the Zucchini Frittata, and not only was it delicious, it popped right out of the pan like nobody's business!  I thought for sure that it would stick.   I didn't have time to try any others, but I will likely check this book out again.  If you have a budding chef in the family, or are trying to introduce kids to healthier eating, this is the book for you!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nursery Rhymes - the horror genre of the preschool set

Today you can find me blogging at the ALSC Blog with a post titled, 

I've opened up a discussion about using some of the more gruesome nursery rhymes in storytime.  If you'd like to weigh in on the topic, or have your own particularly horrific favorite, please click over to the ALSC Blog.

In the meantime, here's my own childhood favorite,

Ladybug, ladybug, 
fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
Your children will burn.
I married a firefighter. ;)

Images in the Public Domain and available from Project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 National Book Awards - Longlist for Young People's Lit

Be sure to check out the 2016 National Book Awards.  Yesterday, the longlist was released for 
the category of Young People's Literature. 

The longlists for Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction will be released today, tomorrow, and Thursday.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Picture Book Roundup - August 2016

I haven't done a picture book roundup in a while. Here are a few favorites that passed my desk in August.  They're presented in the Riffle slideshow below.

Some of my reviews would not fit in their entirety in the slideshow.  You can find the full reviews on my LibraryThing or Riffle accounts.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg - a review

Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg

By Tanya Anderson
Quindaro Press, 2016

I wondered why I was getting an "Early Reviewer" copy of a book that was originally published in 2013.  Quindaro Press has reissued the book as a paperback with "French flaps" - sturdy,gatefold flyleafs. They keep the original dust jacket information available, they can be used for bookmarking, and they make the book sturdier.

Tillie Pierce is a short and compelling account of a week in a life of a teen girl who lived in Gettysburg during the Battle of Gettysburg.  Author Tanya Anderson uses many of Tillie Pierce's own words*, but mixes them with a more modern-style narrative, and includes photographs, maps, and background information.  Words that are archaic or might be unfamiliar, e.g., caissons, consumption, accoutrement, are defined parenthetically.  (I prefer footnoting, but parenthetical makes for easier reading).

As you might expect from writer Tanya Anderson, the research is commendable.  The book includes: Bibliography, Black-and-White Photographs,  Further Reading, Glossary, Index, Photo Captions, Source Notes, Table of Contents, Timeline.  There are even step-by-step instructions to use Google Earth to follow the exact path that Tillie took from her home to a neighboring farmhouse which became a de facto military hospital.

If you haven't read Tillie Pierce yet, take advantage of this new edition to read or purchase it.  You won't be disappointed. You can check out its many starred reviews and awards here: Reviews and Awards for Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg  If you're a history teacher, I can't think of a more exciting way to interest teens in history than to let them experience it through the eyes of another teen.

Finally, a note on the publisher, Quindaro: After more than ten years in the publishing business, Quindaro has a new mission.  They have committed to focusing on the YA market, publishing nonfiction designed "to engage the next generation of readers in history." I look forward to seeing their future offerings, and am hoping to review a copy of the upcoming Gunpowder Girls, also by Tanya Anderson.

*Tillie wrote her own book titled, At Gettysburg or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle: A True Narrative.

My copy of Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg was provided by LibraryThing Early Reviewers program

Friday, August 19, 2016

Everland - an audiobook review

by Wendy Spinale
Read by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Scholastic Audio, 2016

Everland is a *steampunk homage to Peter Pan, and the first in a series.  The setting is London, renamed Everland after its defeat by the Germans and the ravages of a deadly virus that targets adults.

I reviewed Everland for AudioFile Magazine.  Read my review here: []

Listen to a sample clip of Everland here: []
Everland is told from the dual perspectives of Gwen and Hook, and has two capable narrators.  This is ostensibly a YA title so it has a hint of romance, but I think it's also appropriate for younger readers.  It was a tad too sentimental in places and there were a few modernisms I would have left out (the word "snark" and a fist-bump come to mind), but it's a faithful re-working of the Peter Pan story and has great potential as a series. 

If you're not familiar with the steampunk genre, here's a primer that I've posted before:
*steam·punk [steem-puhngk]
1.a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy featuring advanced machines and other technology based on steam power of the 19th century and taking place in a recognizable historical period or a fantasy world.
2.a subculture inspired by this literary and film subgenre: the fashions and gadgets of steampunk.
Also, steam punk, steam-punk.
1985–90;  modeled on cyberpunk
  * steampunk. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: March 26, 2013).

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Best Man - a review

The Best Man
by Richard Peck
Dial Books, 2016

Richard Peck is a phenomenal writer, and his intent here was write a novel,

" ... addressed to grade-school and middle-school readers. A novel to spark discussion and to open a door to world suddenly living in a whole different era."

He has succeeded in introducing the topic of same-sex marriage in a kind and thoughtful way to his intended audience. Written in the first-person perspective of a rising sixth grader, The Best Man follows young Archer Magill from the end of fifth grade through the beginning of sixth -- through two weddings, bullying, friendship, death, the beginnings of puberty, and wonderful times with his quirky and lovable family. Along the way, he will be the best man in two unforgettable weddings, each of a very different sort. The Best Man is funny and also features Archer's best friend, Lynn,

She was never going to do a lot of peer-grouping with girls. It wasn't her.
"What's that you're drinking?" I inquired.
" A wheat grass smoothie." She wiped off a mustache.
"What's it taste like?"
"Like an open field," she said, "with cow pies."
Then out of nowhere she said, "I'll probably marry Raymond Petrovich. It crossed my mind when he was canceling our absences on e-mail this morning. He's a take-charge guy."
"I thought you weren't ever going to get married," I said, "end of story."
"I was in elementary school when I said that. I've moved on. ..."

This is a story of male role models. You'll love them all. No one tells a story quite like Richard Peck.

This review is of an uncorrected Advance Reader Copy of the book.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Stanley's Shapes and Stanley's Colors - a review

In 2015, I reviewed the new picture book, Stanley the Farmer by William Bee, declaring it (among other things) "a perfect choice for very young listeners."  So when I had an opportunity to review upcoming Peachtree Publishers titles, I was happy to take a look at Stanley's entries into the board book series.  I was not disappointed.

Stanley's Shapes by William Bee
Peachtree Publishers, 2016

William Bee's illustrations are crisp, bright and simple. In Shapes, he ensures that the featured shape on each double-spread page is easy for children to discern, outlined heavily in black.   There are 8 shapes in all, and each one is something that should be easily recognizable for a child.  A tent is a triangle, a window is a square, bike wheels are circles, a kite is a diamond, etc. Text is minimal for each shape,
Wheeeeeeee! Circles make the best wheels!
Preceding the simple, black text is a white outline of the featured shape.  The final spread is an illustration that contains all of the shapes,
What a lot of shapes! How many can you see?
Stanley's Shapes is exactly what a concept board book should be.

Stanley's Colors by William Bee
Peachtree Publishers, 2016

Like Stanley's Shapes, Stanley's Colors is a perfectly simple, child-sized, concept board book.  There are eight featured colors on double-spread pages.  The background is white, except for a colored banner on the bottom.  The colored banner contains the simple black text,
Choo Choo!  Here is Stanley driving his purple train.
and matches the color in the illustration.  Almost everything in the image is purple with the exception of Stanley, and a few small accents.  Black outlining ensures clarity.

If you're looking for a color concept book for very young kids, this is a great choice.

Look for these books in September, 2016.

A note on board books:
I don't usually review board books because I am often disappointed in them.  In my opinion, board books should be exactly like these books, however, in recent years, it seems as if too many of them are just retreads of popular picture books.  They're often too big, too text heavy, too complicated.  If you're shopping for board books for your collection, or your own child, keep it simple!

Review copies were provided by the publisher at my request.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth - a review

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth
Written by Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raúl the Third

They're back!

The impala - Lupe Impala, master mechanic
The mosquito - Elirio Malaria, the finest detail artist around
The octopus - El Chavo Flapjack Octopus, washcloth-wielding polisher of the Lowriders in Space Garage

If you think lowriders are impractical, think again.  When the three amigos from the Lowriders in Space Garage go in search of their missing cat, their rocket-powered lowrider is just what they need.  In this second book in the series, the three friends journey to the center of the earth and face off against a trickster coyote, an Aztec God, and other legendary Mexican and Aztec foes.   As in the first book, they do it with humor, brains, and style—lowrider style—bajito and suavecito (low and slow).

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth is so visually cool, that it looks more like an older brother's indie comic book than a middle grade graphic novel. Raúl the Third uses red, black, and blue ink on sepia pages, and creates expressive faces, wild action, and hidden humor. The illustrations have a distinctly Mexican flair and invite the reader into the culture.  His art is a perfect complement to Cathy Camper's hilarious wordplay. It's difficult to imagine that kids can learn Spanish, geology, ancient Aztec culture,  Mexican culture, and the virtue of teamwork by reading a book that screams divertido (fun) but they can!  Camper's dialogue is sharp and witty, and even features bilingual puns, as in this exchange between Lupe and the trickster coyote.

"Have you seen our cat?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Señor who?"
"Señor cat?  I don't think so."
¡Ja, ja, ja!

This book may be even better than the first!

My copy of the book was provided by the publisher at my request when my LibraryThing copy went missing in the mail.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I'm on the Horn Book Podcast!

If you haven't heard it yet, Horn Book has a new podcast.  I made a small contribution to this podcast from June 20, 2016 (Hbook Podcast 1.17).  You can hear me at the very end with my brief review of Have You Seen Elephant? Creating a 30-second audio review is not as easy as it sounds
I'm so glad they allowed me to participate.

You can hear the Hbook Podcast on Stitcher, Soundcloud, or iTunes

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Clatter of Jars - an audiobook review

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff
Read by Ellen Archer
2016, Listening Library

Quirky magical realism.
Read my full review at AudioFile Magazine.

A Clatter of Jars is Lisa Graff's follow up to 2013's, A Tangle of KnotsI reviewed A Tangle of Knots in 2013, and declared, "If you read no other middle grade fiction book this year, you will have made a good choice." The magic doesn't wear off in A Clatter of Jars, a deftly woven, magical realism story set in the same world as the preceding book, where many people possess Talents - from the mundane (ability to understand frogs) to the powerful (telekinesis).  I particularly enjoyed this story because it features a boy who we may assume has some sort of spectrum disorder, and it has a subtle Lord of the Rings reference.

I often tell kids at the library that it's OK to start with a second book in a series if the first book is unavailable. (I don't like to see them go home empty-handed!)  Most authors do a fine job of catching the reader up on prior events.  However, because of the rich details of the world Lisa Graff has created, A Clatter of Jars is best read after A Tangle of Knots.

An audio excerpt from A Clatter of Jars and my review for AudioFile Magazine may be found here. []

Beneath the Waves - a review

As we read disturbing news accounts of dying manatees , environmental disasters caused by toxic waste, and ocean pollution on the scale of ...