1.4 Media Reviews

LM511 - Suzanne Cooper


Infinity and Me - Kate Hosford

Hosford, K. (2012). Infinity and me. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.

K-3 Elementary (Fiction)

Uma, a black-haired, bright eyed little girl looks up at the night sky and suddenly feels small standing beneath the star filled vastness. She begins to ponder what “never-endingness” actually means. In her quest for discovery, Uma soon finds that the number of ways to think about this big idea may just be - well, infinite. An abstract idea brilliantly presented in a concrete way that introduces young children to the mathematical term, infinity.

A Black Hole is NOT a Hole - Carolyn DeCristofano

DeCristofano, C.C. (2012). A black hole is not a hole. Watertown: Charlesbridge Publishing.

Grades 2-8 Elementary/Middle (Non-Fiction/Science)

A black hole is not a hole, but it is not exactly not a hole either. Got that? This engaging book explains exactly what a black hole is and what creates them. Stimulating the curiosity of young readers, the content addresses scientific concepts needed to understand what a black hole is. Readers will learn how astronomers find black holes and will take a journey that will thoroughly explain the “what” and “why” of astronomical abstractions.

Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

Hartman, R. (2012). Seraphina. New York: Random House Inc.

9-12 High School (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

This is one of the most unique dragon books you'll ever read. Seraphina's father fell in love with a beautiful singer and musician, and married her without truly knowing everything about her background. Now, their daughter Seraphina is the assistant to the royal music master, and is struggling to keep a secret of her own. She becomes caught up in the tensions that surround the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty between the dragons and the humans after a long and bitter war. However, not all humans want to preserve the treaty, nor do all the dragons. This is bad news for the humans since the dragons can take human form and go unrecognized as spies and assassins. Seraphina, her musician uncle, Orma, Princess Glissanda (the heir and Seraphina's music student), and Prince Lucian (in charge of security for the capital) stumble across multiple plots to destroy the treaty in the wake of a prince's murder. Can they stop a new war?

Seraphina | Book Trailer


Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers - Dav Pilkey

Pilkey, D. (2012). Captain underpants and the terrifying return of tippy tinkletrousers. New York: Scholastic Inc.

Grades 2 and up (Fiction)

In this ninth epic novel, readers are taken back in time to the carefree days of kindergarten, before George and Harold invented Captain Underpants. This humorous story is packed with action and exciting twists where the boys meet a new bully, a sixth-grader named Kipper Krupp, the nephew of their clueless school principal. Without the aid of Captain Underpants, the two clever kindergartners are on their own - using their brains to beat the bully. George and Harold are known for being creative and mischievous. This has helped them in previous adventures, but will it help them now?

Captain Underpants

Better Nate Than Ever - Tim Ferdele

Federle, T. (2013). Better nate than ever. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Grades 4-8 Elementary/Middle (Fiction)

Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is your stereotypical small-town social outcast. He's chubby, terrible at sports, and prone to belting out Broadway songs in public bathrooms. All of which leaves him vulnerable to be being bullied and uncomfortable trying to be who he is. When he and his best friend Libby learn about an open casting call for the Broadway musical adaptation of E.T., they devise a plan. Nate will take the bus to New York, audition, and be back home before anyone ever knows he's gone. Naturally, things don't go exactly according to plan.

Tim Federle on his debut novel Better Nate Than Ever

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

Collins, S. (2010). Mockingjay. New York: Scholastic Press.

9-12 High School (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

In the dark and violent conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy, heroine Katniss Everdeen has just escaped from the Quarter Quell. Rebels from District 13 convince her to be the figurehead, the Mockingjay, for the rebel side. In return, she is able to get immunity for her friends, including Peeta, who are all still under control of the Capitol. In addition, she is granted permission to be the one who gets to assassinate President Snow. In fighting for the rebels’ side, Katniss finds herself facing an even more terrible version of the Hunger Games than those hosted by the Capitol. Will Katniss be able to save her friends and make it out alive?

Mockingjay Book Trailer - The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins



Annotation for a Media Specialist

9-12 High School (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

Hartman, R. (2012). Seraphina. New York: Random House Inc.

Seraphina is set in the kingdom of Goredd and follows the sixteen-year-old Seraphina Dombegh, a court musician. She's intrigued by the murder mystery when the Crown Prince of Goredd, Rufus, is found decapitated in such a way that suggests that he was murdered by dragons. Additionally, the murder occurs the night before the 40th anniversary of the signing of a treaty that ended the war between humans and dragons. Dragons can take human form but find human emotions baffling, which only lends to the continuing distrust and hatred between them and humans.

Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of an evil plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina does everything she can to protect her own secret. If the secret behind her musical gift is discovered, her life could very well be endangered.

Hartman creates a rich story layered with intriguing characters and descriptive settings. The world-building is so detailed and well-integrated, readers will wonder if it truly exists. An engaging and innovative fantasy that uses the conflicts of dragons and humans as a metaphor for the real prejudices we all must face. This unique novel will surely appeal to all readers who enjoy fantasies.

Seraphina is a 2012 fantasy prose novel by Rachel Hartman and is her debut novel. The book was published on July 10, 2012 by Random House Publishing and was ranked number 8 in the New York Times Best Seller List in its first week of publication. Seraphina was awarded the 2013 William C. Morris Award for the best young adult work by a debut author.

Additional Praise for Seraphina: an Indie Bestseller, an Amazon Top 20 Teen Book of the Year, a Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book, A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Library Journal Best Young Adult Literature for Adults Selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, an ABA Top 10 Kids’ Indie Next List Selection, an ABC New Voices Pick, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Books, and an ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Book.

Annotation for a Student

9-12 High School (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

Hartman, R. (2012). Seraphina. New York: Random House Inc.

Seraphina is the first book in a series of fantasy novels. It is about a young girl named Seraphina and the secret that she must keep. In a world where the dragons are tolerated but feared, Seraphina discovers it is not a very safe place for her to live. There is danger, excitement, and of course, forbidden love.

The story follows a captivating young woman who is not really comfortable in her own skin. She has so many secrets that keep her isolated from those around her. Still, she doesn't just hide in seclusion. She continues to engage in the world and do all she can to find a place for herself. At times it is heartbreaking to read about her struggles, but it will make you admire her that much more. In her self-discovery, she learns to rise above her insecurities and accepts who she is in order to save the world. She discovers that what makes her different is what makes her powerful.

Seraphina is an exquisitely written fantasy debut. It is filled with multidimensional characters, surprises, and a complex murder mystery. Intertwining mathematics and music in a world so descriptive, you will think it actually exists. If you are looking for a fantasy that will make you think while presenting a new perspective on dragon myths, you will love Seraphina.


Infinity and Me

Reviewed by Suzanne Cooper - LM511/JSU

Hosford, K. (2012). Infinity and me. Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books.

K-3 Elementary (Fiction)

In this book, Uma starts to think about how big infinity is after she gets a brand new pair of red shoes and looks up at the sky to notice the stars. She begins to wonder how big infinity actually is and soon begins to feel very small. She tries to relate the everyday events in her life to infinity. For example, she wonders what it would be like to have recess forever, or to lick an ice cream cone forever. She wonders how long forever really is. At school the next day, she asks classmates for their explanations of infinity, and then later, her grandmother and several teachers. The more she talks to others and thinks about the idea of never-endingness, the more her head begins to hurt while trying to understand something that goes on forever and ever.

The illustrations for this book about the concept of infinity are exquisite. The book asks children to think of math and space in different ways, and the pictures spiral forward with loops and numbers and imaginative spins. This book is a great introduction to the concept of infinity for young children.

Honors & Awards:

A 2013 Junior Library Guild Selection

An ALA 2013 Notable Children's Book for Young Readers

A 2013-14 Red Clover Award Nominee

A 2012 Cybil Award Nominee

A top ten pick of 2012 by A Mighty Girl Blog

A New York Times 2012 Best Illustrated Book Winner

A 2013 Cook Prize Finalist honoring a STEM picture book

A 2013 SCBWI Crystal Kite Member Choice Award finalist

A 2013-14 Chickadee Award Nominee

A 2013 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

A Capitol Choices 2013 Noteworthy Book for Children Nominee

Reviewed by Heidi Estrin - School Library Journal

Estrin, H. (2012). Infinity and Me. School Library Journal, 58(10), 98.

K-Gr 5-This unusual, philosophical picture book makes this seemingly difficult concept approachable and interesting. Young Uma ponders the concept of infinity with the help of friends and family. She finds that the idea can be mind-boggling, but seems less scary when considered in loving company. The story effortlessly combines the enormity of the universe with the frankly personal, as represented by Uma's pride in her new red shoes. Characters define infinity with charming and age-appropriate examples, from a family tree that goes on forever to a never-ending ice-cream cone. A fascinating endnote lets youngsters hear the voices of real children explaining infinity and challenges readers to define it for themselves. Swiatkowska's whimsical, surreal, old-fashioned paintings are well suited to the subject matter. Her art also graces Ilene Cooper's The Golden Rule (Abrams, 2007), another thoughtful picture book, which would combine well with this one. This quiet jewel is sure to spark contemplation and conversation among readers.-Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FLα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Reviewed by Katrina Hedeen - Horn Book Magazine

Hedeen, K. (2013). Infinity and me. Horn Book Magazine, 89(1), 68.

To many young children, infinity is just a word that may be used to max out a quantity and end an argument. But at some point, kids will try to wrap their minds around the actual concept, and this ambitious picture book will help. Looking up at the endless stars, Uma feels “very, very small” and begins to think about infinity. She asks around—friends, Grandma, teachers—and receives a formidable potpourri of interpretations and explanations. Uma is overwhelmed by the mental exercise, and her musings and worries are perfectly childlike (“Maybe I could lick an ice-cream cone forever, but what if my tongue started to hurt?”). Grandma brings Uma back to reality with a compliment on her new red shoes that she’s been waiting for all day, and Uma lands on her own practical understanding of infinity (“my love for her was as big as infinity”). Even for adults, this is an enormously complex idea—scientifically, mathematically, philosophically—but Hosford smoothly distills it to a manageable serving that will both engage and challenge kids. Swiatkowska’s art, too, is remarkable at this elucidation, illustrating the text literally but with appropriately disorienting and surreal details that combine to whimsical, visually stunning effect. An author’s note provides some background on the concept’s history as well as quotes from real children on what infinity means to them. –Katrina Hedeen

Kirkus Reviews

Infinity and me. (2012). [Review of the book Infinity and me]. Kirkus Reviews, 80(18), 165.

Uma’s struggle with the meaning of infinity offers readers a playful, gorgeous introduction to the mathematical concept.

When little Uma gazes at the vast night sky and wonders how many stars are there, she asks, “How could I even think about something as big as infinity?” When friends, her grandmother, the school cook and the music teacher offer creative ways of describing infinity, Uma ends up feeling rather overwhelmed. She then realizes that her pondering has made her forget about the new red shoes she’d been so excited about right before her stargazing musings began. Worse yet—no one had noticed her fancy new footwear that day! But after school, Grandma tells her “Uma, I meant to tell you this morning—those are the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen!” and in a joyous spread, Uma glories, “…my love for her was as big as infinity.” Then Uma and her grandmother go outside to look at the sky, and “[s]nuggled up to Grandma, the sky didn’t seem so huge and cold anymore. Now it was more like a sparkly blanket, covering us both.” While Hosford’s text deftly evokes the child’s voice, Swiatkowska’s expressive, lush illustrations steal the show, providing infinite opportunities for readers to examine each and every spread.

A stellar artistic vision of the infinite power of intergenerational love. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date:Oct. 1st, 2012


Page count:32pp Kirkus


Review Posted Online:Aug. 29th, 2012

Reviews Issue:Sept. 15th, 2012

Reviewed by Daniel Kraus - Booklist

Kraus, D. (2012). Infinity and Me. Booklist, 109(4), 53.

Considering that adults have trouble grappling with the concept of infinity, you have to admire Hosford for trying to wrap young brains around it. There is only the scantest sense of character, place, and story here, but we do meet a young girl named Uma, who stares up at the stars. “I started to feel very, very small.” She asks a number of people how they imagine infinity, and each has his or her own creative take. Her friend Sam envisions infinity as a figure 8 racetrack. Grandma sees it as an ever-enlarging family tree. This compels Uma to tackle a few old philosophical saws, including the one about cutting something in half and then cutting that half in half, ad infinitum. Swiatkowska was the right choice of illustrator for the spiraling subject matter. Her big-eyed Victorian-looking characters embark upon various flights of fancy: driving along an infinity sign, becoming a Vitruvian Man, and standing beneath an ice-cream cone that would take forever to lick. Oddball for sure, but good fun to puzzle over. Grades K-3. --Daniel Kraus

evaluation of review

After reading the reviews of Infinity and Me, I noticed that I had several similarities in my review as far as summarizing the story itself. We all made reference to Uma’s red shoes, the starry sky that made her feel small and her determined quest to find what infinity meant. I overlooked the touching realization when Uma felt infinite love for her grandmother. I also noticed that the vocabulary used in the other reviews was more colorful and descriptive. My review was very basic in describing the illustrations and did not go into as much depth as the other reviews did. In fact, the reviewers devoted much of the review commending the talented illustrator, Swiatkowska, and even pointed out other books she has illustrated. The other reviews also identified specific characters and quotes, whereas my review was again very basic and general. I included a list of honors and awards that the book received. However, it is understood that these honors and awards may not have been published at the time the other reviews were published.