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Judy

Series Spotlight: Adventures of Sophie Mouse by Poppy Green

friend2Sophie Mouse, her family and friends live in Pine Needles Grove. Her mom owns a bakery, her dad is an architect, Mrs. Owl is her teacher – families gather for parties, children play together, everyone knows each other. In each book, along with her friends Hattie Frog and Owen Snake, Sophie has an adventure and a problem to solve. She gets lost in the forest, has to figure out what to do about a ruined dessert, and tries to find her lost scarf. With good thinking and the help of others, Sophie always figures out what to do.

The series should interest children who are ready for more complex, longer stories that relate to their lives. Fans of the Adventures of Sophie Mouse series are going to know exactly what books in the series they have read, what book they want to read, and probably will read many books in the series until they move on…to another series.

Do talk with readers about Sophie’s adventures. Sometimes things happen in Pine Needles Grove that probably a child living in the real world should not do – such as going into the home of a stranger to get help.

A New Friend is the first book in the series by Poppy Green. Each series title has 117 pages, 10 chapters, and black/white illustrations on most pages. Lexile varies between 430 and 600.
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Katie

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (2018)

bellesCamellia is a Belle. Belles are the most important people in the kingdom, other than the royal family, because they control beauty. In the world of Orléans, everyone is born a "gris": gray skin, red eyes, straw colored hair. Only the Belles can grant a person a new look, using their magic to change appearance, manner, and control age.

Camellia wants to become the Favorite Belle—to work in the palace and work for the royal family. But is that life really what it seems? When dark mysteries arise, like crying girls in the middle of the night and former Belles being veiled, Camellia must decide to find her own truth in beauty.

I've listened to The Belles on audio twice. Rosie Jones, the narrator, does a wonderful job with voices and accents. She makes the city of Orléans come to life, and her take on Princess Sophia's voice still sends shivers up my spine.

I love Dhonielle Clayton's descriptions of the world of Orléans – the post balloons and petit cakes and teletropes – the world building is fantastic.

The last few pages of this book will keep readers on the edge of their seat. And when they read the last line, they'll be clamoring for the sequel The Everlasting Rose, out March 5, 2019. [Beware! There are spoilers on the linked page for The Belles.]

In the meantime, you can join me as I start my third re-listen.
Emily

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (1999)

daughterforestWeaving Celtic mythology and classic fantasy together, Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest is an enchanting book that you won’t want to put down. The story follows Sorcha, a young Irish girl living with her warlord father and six older brothers who love their sister fiercely. Their lands house fair folk and ancient magic that help keep them safe from the Britons trying to invade.

Though safe from humans, her father soon remarries a sorceress that curses her and her brothers, turning the six boys into swans and forcing her into silence until she can break the spell. Over the next few years, Sorcha must try to fulfil the curses requirements while not uttering a single sound, writing anything down, or conveying any part of her story. After being taken in by a Red, a British lord, she must try to save her brothers and her one true love.

This story reads like a classic fairy tale bolstered with captivating details and great character development. While Daughter of the Forest stands on its own, you can check out the rest of the series to revisit the magical world.

 
 
 
 
Emily

Your Name (2017) PG

Your NameIn this beautifully animated movie, city boy Taki and country girl Mitsuha embark on a life-changing journey after waking up one day in each other’s bodies. Both teenagers learn what is important to them as they attempt to deal with swapping back and forth in this vaguely familiar yet completely original coming of age story.

I would recommend Your Name to anyone who appreciates animation, as it is expertly done, blending traditional animation with beautiful hand-painted scenery. It will draw in those who are looking for a bit more in their teen romance stories.
IPPL Staff

The Shape of Water (2017) R

shapeofwaterGuillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor’s masterpiece is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching. The cinematography is matched only by Alexandre Desplat’s score that captures and enhances the emotions in each scene. Elisa (Sally Hawkins), who has been mute since she was a baby, works as a janitor at a top-secret government research facility; there, she encounters something that changes the course of her life. At its core, The Shape of Water is a story that questions just what is it that makes us human.

The Shape of Water won four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Original Score, and Production Design) and was nominated in nine other categories.
IPPL Staff

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (2017)

scribeofsienaIn the present day, neurosurgeon Beatrice travels to Siena after her brother, a medieval historian, dies. Somehow, Beatrice travels in time to medieval Siena during the plague (around 1350). As you read The Scribe of Siena, you’ll feel that you were there too—the writing and descriptions are so vivid. Check out Melodie Winawer’s captivating debut novel today. For fans of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.
Katie

Coco (2017) PG

coco_posterCoco is Disney/Pixar's newest movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray and it is spectacular!

The animation is crisp and immediately grounds the story in modern-day Mexico before whisking viewers away to the Land of the Dead. The colors and details in the Land of the Dead were vibrant and truly captured the celebratory spirit of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos.

And this wouldn't be a true Pixar movie without its heart -- family and love and dreams. And bonus -- soaring music! Seriously, check out the CD (or Hoopla). If you're looking for a family movie, add Coco to your list.

[Fair warning to those who get teary during movies, this was definitely a two-tissue movie for me!]

 
IPPL Staff

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate (2017)

wishtreeRed, a wishtree, has been around her community for a long time. She's seen people come together and now she is seeing her community torn apart by a single word carved into her trunk: LEAVE. Red—and her residents, which include owls, skunks, possums, raccoons, and a crow—work to bring their community back together.

Wishtree was recommended to me by one of the K&T librarians, Monica, and it did NOT disappoint!

Katherine Applegate's writing style is accessible and natural. Her words flow and easily tell the story. I was utterly captivated by the history of the wishtree and all that Red has seen in her life. And I love the idea of bringing a community together, so needless to say, I was rooting for everyone!

I listened to this book on audio and it would make a great car trip read for families. I think that fans of Erin Hunter's Warriors series or of Applegate's Newbery winner The One and Only Ivan would absolutely enjoy this title as well.

 
IPPL Staff

Firstlife by Gena Showalter (2016)

firstlifeImagine if our lives right now weren’t our only lives, that if after we die, there’s another life. But there’s one caveat, we have to choose a side: Myriad or Troika. One, a world of eternal darkness but luxury beyond your deepest desires. The other, a world of eternal light and joy. If you die before choosing, you’re stuck in the Land of Many Ways: a place where you're rumored to be terrorized for all eternity before eventually experiencing your second and final death. Troika and Myriad are rivals trapped in a bitter, never-ending war, looking to recruit the most souls.

Both afterlives are in a race to recruit Tenley Lockwood, but how does she know which is the right choice? This is the afterlife, after all. Once you decide, there’s no going back. Check out Firstlife by Gena Showalter.
Heather

The Magicians. Season 1 (2015-2016) TV-14

magicianss1Imagine an extremely dark, adult world where Harry Potter meets Narnia, and you'll pretty much have The Magicians. Based on Lev Grossman's book series of the same name, follow a handful of young adults at a magical graduate school of sorts hidden in upstate New York. Their story is not for the faint of heart! In between classes, homework, and bizarre magical field trips, Quentin and his friends learn the fantasy world of a childhood book series is real, along with a bloodthirsty beast who has it in for not only them, but also the rest of humanity.

Watch Season 1 of The Magicians on DVD or borrow a Roku to stream it via Netflix.
IPPL Staff

Signs (2002) PG-13

220px-the_signs_movieGraham—formerly Reverend Hess—is a grieving husband, who has lost not only his wife but his faith too. He hasn’t by any means fallen apart, though, or stopped caring about the people around him. Graham is a good dad to his two young kids, and the people in his small town can’t help still calling him “Father.” When crop circles appear on his farm and then around the world, Graham reasons that there must be a logical explanation, and he struggles to hold on to this—even as his kids and his younger brother, who lives with them, jump on the alien-theory bandwagon.

Signs is one of those quiet films that rings true to life, often feeling more like a family drama than a supernatural thriller. And yet true to form, writer and director M. Night Shyamalan injects just enough oddity and suspense into the film to make you feel that things are not quite right—and that there’s something creepy lurking just around the corner.
Ben

A Ghost Story (2017) R

ghoststoryA recently deceased husband (Casey Affleck) returns as a ghost in a white sheet to haunt his suburban home and be close to his widowed wife (Rooney Mara). When she decides to move, the ghost loses all track of time and spirals into history where he is able to see all previous and future owners of his home.

Despite its title, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie that invokes fear or horror. A very slow, quiet, and artistic movie, it takes its time to deliver its message and make the audience feel the sense of loss and longing of the characters. This movie is as beautiful as it is solemn, with well thought out camera shots and very haunting imagery. A Ghost Story may be the very first cosmic ghost story—not only does it explore themes of love and loss, it tackles the very idea of existence and time itself.
Jez

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (2017)

Need more Wonder Woman and don’t want to wait two years for the next movie? Worry not, because Leigh Bardugo’s new novel Warbringer is everything you need.

Diana knows not to meddle in the affairs of mortals, but against her better judgment and the advice of the Oracle, she saves the life of a young shipwrecked girl, Alia. Alia is a “warbringer,” a woman descended from Helen of Troy, whose blood will bring about a world war if she reaches adulthood. Determined to change fate, Diana takes it upon herself to deliver Alia to Greece where she can be cleansed of the warbringer line—but Alia doesn’t believe in such stories and just wants to return home. The two must learn to trust each other if they are to survive the lies, assassination attempts, divine intervention, and expensive galas as they race against time to save the world.

Full of lovable, flawed, and beautifully diverse characters, this action-packed and humorous coming-of-age novel makes a great read and an even better listen with the audiobook, read by Mozhan Marno, which will leave fans desperate for more.
IPPL Staff

Spotlight: Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs

Do you love vampires, werewolves, and faeries? Then Patricia Briggs’ New York Times best-selling Mercy Thompson series is for you! It revolves around character Mercy Thompson, a mechanic who can shapeshift into a coyote at will. All she wants to do is fix Volkswagons in peace, but unfortunately, trouble has other plans. Start with Moon Called to dive into her exploits today!
IPPL Staff

Spotlight: Rick Riordan

swordofsummerWhile author Rick Riordan’s focus is currently aimed at children/teenagers, that doesn’t mean they’re off limits for adults. If you’re a fan of action/adventure and different types of mythology, you’re in for a treat! The characters are well developed and have great senses of humor despite the trying circumstances.

If you love Greek or Roman mythology, start with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (first book: The Lightning Thief). For Egyptian, give the Kane Chronicles a shot (first book: The Red Pyramid). Have a fix for Norse? Riordan has recently started on that with Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer!