Road Trip Gone Wrong: A Book Review of EXIT 13: The Whispering Pines

EXIT 13: The Whispering Pines
James Preller
Illustrated by Kevin Keele
Scholastic
February 7, 2023
Ages 8 to 12

Stopping at the EXIT 13 Motel was the worst decision the McGinns could have made. Lost in the fog, the McGinns decide to stop when the shadowy motel appears out of nowhere when they needed it most. Dealing with suspicious hotel staff, the mysterious wolf that appears and disappears just as quickly, and the haunting voice that keeps talking to Ash, the youngest McGinn, was not what they were looking for on a road trip. Ash and his sister, Willow, must solve the mystery of the motel for their family, or else they may never have the chance to check out.

Told in the third-person to gain the perspective of all characters involved, the book mainly focuses on Ash and Willow as they search for answers. Written primarily in prose, black and white comic panels are used to expose new secrets the children find out about EXIT 13 and provide an in-depth view of the emotions on the characters’ faces. Although Willow and Ash don’t get along at the beginning of the book, as they face each secret and obstacle of the motel and its creepy forest, their concern for one another and familial bond grows stronger. Humor, lighthearted moments, and a new friend balance out the sense of doom that the children and readers feel is coming. Left on a giant cliffhanger, young readers who enjoy thrilling mysteries will want to continue to explore the secrets of EXIT 13 with Ash and Willow as they try to leave.

Butler Bookshelf

National Book Award Finalist Brandon Hobson, brings together the anxiety, friendships, and wonders of a Cherokee boy’s life with Cherokee history and lore in his middle-grade adventure, The Storyteller. Follow Ziggy and his friends as they try to navigate the disappearances of Native women, including Ziggy’s own mother. 

Check it out along with the other middle-grade novels we are featuring below!

Best Wishes: The Sister Switch 
Written by Sarah Mlynowski and Debbie Rigaud
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 4th!

Big Tree
Written and Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 4th!

Parachute Kids
Written and Illustrated by Betty Tang
Published by Graphix
Available April 4th!

Squished
Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Illustrated by Michelle Mee Nutter
Published by Graphix
Available Now!

The Storyteller
Written by Brandon Hobson
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 18th!

Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends
Written by Francine Pascal and Illustrated by Nicole and Claudia Andefinger
Published by RH Graphics
Available Now!

Dreamers: A review of Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between

Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between
Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrated by Ashley Benham-Yazdani
Holiday House
November 15, 2022
Age 6-9

Set in the majestic winter wilderness of Concord, Massachusetts, two men with different dreams set them in motion at Walden Pond. Henry David Thoreau, “oddball, tax dodger, nature lover, dreamer,” builds a cabin and lives off the land to experience nature and write of its beauty (pg. 6). Frederic Tudor, “bankrupt, disgrace, good for nothing, dreamer,” comes to Walden as an entrepreneur to harvest the winter ice and make his fortune (pg. 7).

Lisa Cline-Ransome crafts a snapshot of their intersecting time on the pond and how it influenced their unique legacies. Mimicking the seasonal organization of Thoreau’s Walden, she follows them through a year that sees their arrival at the pond and follows their experiences, writing and harvesting and transporting ice to the other side of the world. Her study in contrasts follows the naturalist as he observes the seemingly unnatural process of sending ice to one of the hottest places on the planet. Pencil and watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the tranquility of the rural setting and the simplicity of Thoreau’s existence juxtaposed against the industrious activities of Tudor and his team. A mostly cool color palette in the Walden scenes sits in contrast to the warm, dusty scenes in Calcutta, before circling back to a last frosty winter scene on the pond. Spare text and minimal punctuation sketch a rough timeline that is enhanced by both the detailed illustrations and very specific Author’s Note full of biographical information on the men from before and after their 1846 encounter.

A poetic look at a lovely setting that inspired the legacies of two extraordinary 19th century dreamers.

Butler Bookshelf

In Legends of Lotus Island: The Guardian Test, Young Plum is shocked to discover that she’s been accepted to the Guardian Academy on Lotus Island, an elite school where kids learn how to fight and transform into Guardians, magical creatures who are sworn to protect the natural world and the defensless. The Guardian masters teach Plum and her friends how to communicate with animals and how to use meditation to strengthen their minds and bodies.

Check it out and the other titles we are featuring below!

Blue Baboon Finds Her Tune
Written by Helen Docherty and Illustrated by Thomas Docherty
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Available Now!

Legends of Lotus Island: The Guardian Test
Written by Christina Soontornvat and Illustrated by Kevin Hong
Published by Scholastic Press
Available February 7th!

Mega-Predators of the Past
Written by Melissa Stewart and Illustrated by Howard Gray
Published by Peachtree
Available Now!

Story of a Butterfly, The: Learn About the Life Cycles and Habitat of the Painted Lady
Written by Margaret Rose Reed and Illustrated by Manu Montoya
Published by Sourcebooks eXplore
Available Now!

A Sweet New Year for Ren
Written by Michelle Sterling and Illustrated by Dung Ho
Published by Simon & Schuster
Available Now!

2022 Butler Book Sale

Join the Butler Children’s Literature Center for our annual book sale!

WHEN: December 8-10 from 10 a.m.—5 p.m.

WHERE: The Butler Center (Crown 214) will be staffed and ready to talk about our favorite things and we want YOU to join us!

WHY: If you’re looking to build your personal book collection, stock up for your school or public library, buy some holiday presents for your loved ones, or just want to check out the best books for kids and teens from 2022, you won’t want to miss this opportunity. All proceeds from the sale support Butler Center events and operations.

Hardcovers $5 each, paperbacks $2. 

Cash, checks, and credit cards are welcome.

Questions? Contact us at butler@dom.edu

Hope to see you there!

Butler Bookshelf

In Yetis are the Worst! by Alex Willan, the follow-up to Unicorns Are the Worst! and Dragons Are the Worst!, Gilbert the Goblin’s next adventure takes him to the frozen tundra, where he’s determined to find the legendary yeti. Gilbert the Goblin is the first to admit that he was mistaken—unicorns actually throw the best tea parties, and dragons make delicious ice cream soup. This time, though, he can absolutely confirm that YETIS ARE THE WORST!

Check it out along with the other titles featured below!

Black Boy, Black Boy: Celebrate Remarkable Moments in Black History with this Uplifting Story
Written by Ali Kamanda & Jorge Redmond and Illustrated by Ken Daley
Published by Sourcebooks eXplore
Available Now!

How Do Meerkats Order Pizza? Wild Facts About Animals and the Scientists Who Study Them
Written and Illustrated by Brooke Barker
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Other Side of the Tracks
Written by Charity Alyse
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

Sugar Pie Lullaby: The Soul of Motown in a Song of Love
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford and Illustrated by Sawyer Cloud
Published by Sourcebooks eXplore
Available February 7th!

Yetis are the Worst!
Written and Illustrated by Alex Willan
Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Available Today!

British Spy Kids: A Review of Swift and Hawk: Cyberspies

Swift and Hawk: Cyberspies
By Logan Macx
Walker Books
November 22th, 2022
Ages 8 to 12

Caleb lives in London with his CIA agent Mom, Harper, he goes to a school for genius kids and has all the technology he could ever want or use for his own projects. Then a group of shady mercenaries shows up at his home, telling Harper that they have information about the mysterious Xavier Torrent, the former research partner to Caleb’s dead father. The catch, Caleb and Harper must go with them. Unconvinced, Caleb escapes the kidnapping attempt catching up with his professor as well as his best friend Zen in a secret bunker beneath the British History Museum. Caleb and Zen are inducted into Möbius, a secret extracurricular school program. Given the code names Swift and Hawk, the duo must chase down the mercenaries that have kidnapped both their families and investigate why the villains are so obsessed with Caleb. The actions scenes are clear and have tension, the quieter moments filled with discovery of new information. The main duo is almost superhuman. Caleb is a programmer and hacker extraordinaire and Zen is a mechanical wiz and martial arts master. As young teens, the pair are able to outwit and outfight trained members of a criminal conspiracy. While this occasionally stretches credulity, the narrative plays it straight and keeps doubling down on how competent the duo is. This allows the author to avoid the grittier elements of spy stories and focuses on the cool gadgets and the fun and simple adventure. Caleb and Zen’s adventure is escapist, they always seem to have the right tool for the job at the right time.

A Europe-spanning adventure spy novel of best friends that sneak onto freighters full of mercenaries, escape runaway trains, and fight everything from wolves to drones to save their family, and maybe the world.

Butler Bookshelf

You Are Loved: A Book About Families is the heartwarming companion book to 2021’s You Are Enough and highlights the important message that families aren’t just the people you live with. The warm illustrations tell the stories of various blended families teaching you how to be strong and show you how loved you are. 

Check it out along with the other heartwarming and motivational titles featured below!

Good Different
Written by Meg Kuyatt
Published by Scholastic Press
Available May 16th!

When Things Aren’t Going Right, Go Left
Written by Marc Colagiovanni and Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Published by Orchard Books
Available March 7th!

I Kick and I Fly 
Written by Ruchira Gupta
Published by Scholastic Press
Available April 18th!

Sunshine 
Written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Published by Graphix
Available April 18th!

When a Friend Needs a Friend
Written and Illustrated by Roozeboos
Published by Scholastic Press
Available February 7th!

You Are Loved: A Book About Families 
Written by Margaret O’Hair and Illustrated by Sofia Cardoso
Published by Scholastic
Available March 7th!

Let’s Celebrate Children’s Book Week!

Celebrating the powerful impact books have on young readers, the second celebration of Children’s Book Week is here! Every Child a Reader is an award-winning, non-profit organization that has provided the longest-running and largest outreach programs in the nation to its diverse readers, and is the main supporter of Children’s Books Week. The second celebration of Children’s Book Week with the slogan, How Do You Book?, will last from November 7th through 13th. To foster the love of reading and unite kids and adults to celebrate this annual celebration, Every Young Reader has provided a variety of free tools and resources to finish off the week.

Some interesting resources to check out:

  • How Do You Book? Challenge
    • Provides an activity layout for asking kids what, how, and where they enjoy reading.
    • Encourages young readers to explore new book genres and preferences by thinking of ‘book’ as a verb in this challenge.
  • Children’s Book Week Educator Kit
    • This can be used individually or in collaboration with the How Do You Book? Challenge.
    • Useful for all ages, the prompts and checklist in this kit provide questions encouraging readers to learn from others and think critically about how they book, or don’t.
  • Media Tools
    • Supporting teachers and other librarians, this resource helps reach young readers through media, social media, and digital communications.
    • Gain more inspiration from readers and authors by following #HowDoYouBook .
  • 2022 Children’s Book Week Poster, Bookmarks, and Activities
    • Display this poster and bookmarks in your library or classroom today to help support the celebration.

For all these tools and more, visit https://everychildareader.net/cbw/.

(Cited from Every Child a Reader Website)

Butler Bookshelf

P.J. Lynch illustrates the classic poem by Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Check it out and the other titles we are featuring below!

Am I a Frog?
Written and Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell
Published by Holiday House
Available Now!

Henry Hamlet’s Heart
Written by Rhiannon Wilde
Published by Charlesbridge Teen
Available Now!

Middle School Bites: Night of the Vam-Wolf-Zom 
Written by Steven Banks and Illustrated by Mark Fearing
Published by Holiday House
Available Now!

Nina Soni, Snow Spy
Written by Kashmira Sheth and Illustrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky
Published by Peachtree
Available Now!

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Written by Robert Frost and Illustrated by P.J.Lynch
Published by Candlewick Press
Available Today!

Stuck! (Help, Please)
Written by Karol Ruth Silverstein and Illustrated by Greg Paprocki
Published by Charlesbridge
Available Now!