Out West and Underwater | Multimedia Reviews, August 2014

Bionic pets, great white sharks, and snow monkeys dart across the screen in three DVD documentaries while Brian Floca’s award-winning Locomotion arrives as an audiobook. Or, plunge under the sea with Jacques Cousteau or hop into the box ring with Joe Louis in two adaptations of acclaimed picture books


See our complete list of August 2014 SLJ Stars.


redstarThe Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques ­Cousteau. 9 min. Dist by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629236179.

K-Gr 2 –Jacques Cousteau’s obsession with the underwater world lead to an extraordinary life. As a young child, Cousteau was often sick, and his doctors suggested that he build his strength by swimming in the sea. After being badly injured in a car accident as a young adult, Cousteau created his own physical therapy by swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. His life changed forever when he was given a pair of goggles and was suddenly able to see underwater for the first time. Jacques was enthralled by the new world that he found below the surface, and he began a lifelong mission of ocean research and conservation. Driven by a need for better equipment, Jacques constantly worked to improve his underwater tools. He invented the first aqua lung, adapted his cameras for underwater use, and even created a research lab on the bottom of the ocean. With the help of his research teams, Cousteau made hundreds of discoveries about the ocean and the creatures and plants that live in it. Based on the picture book written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf, 2009), this short film depicts Cousteau’s life through the colorful and clear illustrations that are simple but compelling. Viewers will get the sense that they are underwater, exploring the mysteries of the sea with the scientist. Qarie Marshall narrates with a calm, well-annunciated voice. He even uses a French accent when quoting Cousteau directly. Young viewers will enjoy learning about this amazing life and will be excited to know more.–Jenny Ventling, Greene County Public Library, OH

redstarMy Bionic Pet. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $19.99. ISBN 9781627890021.

Gr 5 Up–By the fifth grade, most students have seen artificial human limbs, but a dog with prosthetic front legs or a pig whose hindquarters are supported by a small wheeled cart will be new to most viewers. This captivating DVD covers more than just pets, and follows dedicated specialists and caring humans who see themselves not as animal owners, but as their guardians. The film is fascinating on two fronts: first, from a technical standpoint of how the prosthetics are created and fitted, and how the animals adapt to them; and second, from the “innovation” standpoint. How would one fashion a new beak for a swan (after a snapping turtle incident), restoring its ability to eat and preen, or craft a new tail for an alligator, decreasing spinal stress and allowing the reptile to swim? Ethical issues are addressed, such as whether money might better be spent on improving human lives and how one knows if an animal is “happier” with new limbs and the increased mobility. While the science is compelling, there is equal value in using the film to support an innovative “makerspace” mentality, assessing problems, and thinking of creative solutions, and the length is ideal for many class periods. Viewers can’t help but cheer as piglet Chris P. Bacon snuffles about with his wheeled cart, or as dogs like Roofus and Driftwood run with new prosthetic legs. Closed captions and video descriptions can be enabled, making this accessible to a broad audience.–Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX


redstarFLOCA, Brian. Locomotive. 1 CD. 38 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781629238463.

K-Gr 5 –CLANK, CLANK, CLANK! Three strokes to the spike. Ten spikes to the rail. This is how your trip begins with Floca’s 2014 Caldecott Medal winner. Narrator Eric G. Dove spins this visual masterpiece into a rich auditory experience. Dove’s resonant, lyrical voice captivates young listeners and keeps them enthralled from beginning to end. Sectioned into short “chapters,” the book highlights the majesty of the iron horse and those who rode it, the working men who labored long and hard to build it, the Paiute and Shoshone Indians who get caught in its wake, as well as the inner workings of steam power. Locomotive has something for all readers, from young engineers (who’ll love learning the details and vocabulary of piston-driven, push and pull steam locomotion), to poets (who will appreciate such lines as “wheels spinning, rods swinging, motion within motion running down the track”), history buffs, train enthusiasts, and those who simply love a well-told story. As much as historical nonfiction as poetry, this book, told in blank-verse style, is a must-have for any school or library.–Jennifer Mann, Washtenaw Intl High School, Ypsilanti, MI

redstarRosenthal, Amy Krouse. Exclamation Mark. 1 CD. 4 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545661157.

K-Gr 2 –When an exclamation mark desperately tries to fit in with a group of periods, he tries many ways to rid himself of his extension line, but he just can’t seem to shake it. Disillusioned, he decides to run away, but not before he is barraged with a series of questions by a very curious question mark. When he can take no more, the exclamation point screams “STOP!” and ultimately finds his identity. Rosenthal’s tongue-in-cheek text will entertain children while teaching them punctuation. The story is narrated by Priscilla Holbrook, Emily Eiden, and MacLeod Andrews, whose voices perfectly compliment the text, while upbeat background music plays throughout. It includes two read-along versions, one with sound effects for page turns and one without. This is definitely a title to be excited about and worthy of several exclamation marks!!!! Recommended for all library collections.–Amy Joslyn, Fairport Public Library, NY

redstarTONATIUH, Duncan. Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. 1 CD. 22 min. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $14.99. ISBN 9781629238562.

Gr 1-4 –When Sylvia Mendez moved to Westminster, California, in the 1940s, she quickly found out that not everyone was welcome in her new neighborhood. Sylvia and her brother have to attend the “Mexican” school—Hoover School. Hoover is situated next to a cow field, had an electric fence, dirty halls, no playground, and unmotivated teachers, while local white children went to the much better 17th Street Elementary School. Eventually, the Mendez family and others filed a lawsuit, Mendez v. Westminster, that predated Brown v. Board of Education by almost 10 years. It would desegregate schools in California, affecting more than 5,000 Latino children. Carefully taking actual text from trials and interviews with Sylvia Mendez, Tonatiuh edits the original language to fit the pacing of the story for the intended audience. Legal terms and Spanish words are translated and explained so young listeners will be able to comprehend this important story. Adriana Sananes narrates efficiently. Her voice uses various pitches for characters and paces her reading so listeners can keep up with the many names, places, and terms. This CD version includes an author’s note and information about the text included in the story. An extremely important story that should be widely known. Highly recommended for all libraries.–Katie Llera, Bound Brook High School, NJ

redstarLord, Cynthia. Half a Chance. 4 CDs. 4:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $46.75. ISBN 9781490614038. Playaway, digital download.

Gr 4-8 —Lucy’s father is a photographer and often away. She and her mother are left to set up their new home on a lake where she is befriended by Nate and his grandmother who help her become familiar with lake life. Through it all, Lucy uses own photographic talents to frame the world in which she lives, seeking unique perspectives and the contrasts. When Lucy discovers her father will be judging a photography contest, she decides to enter without his knowledge, having much to prove to him and herself. Still, as she peers through her lens she gains an unexpected insight. In this tender, evocative book listeners learn about beginnings, endings, and catching that perfect moment in time. Maria Cabezas performs the first-person narrative in a youthful voice, drawing listeners in and making every word count. This is an exceptional presentation that leaves kids feeling enclosed in one of those perfect moments Lucy seeks.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

redstarHerbach, Geoff . Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $49.97. ISBN 9781480533271.

Gr 7 Up –Gabe has been caught. He took money out of the school vending machine in retaliation for the school band’s funds being reallocated to a new dance team. He is now in custody and is telling his story. How did a fat boy with no leadership skills corral the pep band to take on the cheerleaders? Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders is a funny tale that hits on many hard truths. Herbach takes the everyday issues of clique rivalry and stereotypes and creates a story where the underdog fights back. Listeners will discover depth within the main character that doesn’t seem present at the beginning. Nick Podehl’s narration is fun and spot-on. He creates unique voices for the many varied characters and brings each person’s personality to life. Although this is a great book in print, this audio rendition takes it two levels up. This is a must-buy for any high school or public library audio collection.–Elizabeth L. Kenyon, Merrillville High School, IN


redstarGet Outdoors! Performed by Jeff Kagan and Paige Doughty. CD. 68 min. Rocky Mountain Music. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

PreS-Gr 2 –Veteran children’s performers Kagan and Doughty really hit all the right notes with Get Outdoors! The majority of the album focuses on nature and ecology, with an emphasis on bats, mosquitos, meadowlarks, trees, and plate tectonics. Other songs highlight the need for bicyclists and cars to share the road and the proper technique for crossing the street. Employing a variety of musical genres, each song features beautiful lyrics and music that ranges from upbeat dance and sing-along tunes to songs as gentle as a lullaby. Two particularly clever numbers are “Scoopa-Doop-Poop,” about the importance of picking up after your dog, and “Rosa & Douglas,” regarding the relationship between a pine and a fir tree in the forest. Get Outdoors! is fun and educational, but never didactic. Teachers will like using this album in class while families will enjoy listening to it over and over again. A must-have for every collection.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

redstarIn a Heartbeat. Performed by Laura Doherty. CD. 34 min. Laura Doherty Music. 2014. ISBN unavail. $15.

PreS-Gr 1 —Parents’ Choice Gold and Silver Award–winning Doherty delivers what should be another hit with her third recording for kids. Filled with 13 upbeat, catchy tunes, the smart lyrics cover topics of interest to youngsters and parents alike. Her voice is clear and charming, and instrumentation is just right, neither spare nor over-produced. Doherty’s folksy acoustic instrumentation and crisp clear vocals are complemented with harmonizing by Cat Tager on eight of the songs. Highlights include covers of Harold Arlen’s standard “Paper Moon” and Bill Haley’s classic “See Ya Later, Alligator” and original tunes by Doherty: “I’m a Little Fish” (a ditty about sea creatures and their means of locomotion), “Heartbeat” (a percussive tune about feeling your heartbeat, punctuated by a bass guitar), “Drum Kit” (a crisp introduction to the sound of striking each piece of a set of drums), and “Woolly Woolly Bear” (a novelty number about a caterpillar who will become a moth). Useful in the preschool curriculum and sure to be enjoyed on family road trips.–Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, OH [BookVerdictBox]


preschool to Grade 4

Lots & Lots of Roaring Rockets. 90 min. Dist. by Marshall Publishing & Promotions, Inc. 2014. $19.95. ISBN 97819361343045.

A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis. 8 min. Dist. by Dreamscape Media. 2014. $38.99. ISBN 9781629236230.

Snow Monkeys. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. DVD $19.99. Blu-ray $24.99. ISBN 9781627890243.

Wordgirl: Monkey Business. 50 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $9.99. ISBN 9781627890335.

Grades 5 up

Calling Tokyo: Japanese American Radio Broadcasters During World War II. 26 min. Dist. by Leonard Zane Productions. Intraverse1.com. 2013. $19.95. UPC 633131584110.

The Ethics of Fracking. 38 min. Dist. by Green Planet Films. 2014. $39.95. UPC 609224857751.

Family Portrait in Black and White. 85 min. and 52 min. English subtitles. Dist. by Third World Newsreel. 2011, released in 2014. $80. ISBN unavail.

San Antonio Missions: & the Alamo, Presidio La Bahia (Goliad) & El Camino Real, Texas. (Discoveries…America National Parks). 50 min. Dist. by Bennett-Watt Entertainment. 2014. $24.95. ISBN 9781604901764.

Sand Wars. 52 min. Dist. by Green Planet Films. 2013. $69. UPC 609224857782.

Speak to Win: American English. 110 min. English and Spanish subtitles. Dist. by Speak to Win. SpeakToWinAE.com. 2013. $20.95. UPC 884501870818.

Stop Bullying with Mike Hall. 22 min. Dist. by Paraclete Press. 2014. $59.95. ISBN 9781612615707.

Super Skyscrapers. 2 DVDs. 240 mins. Dist. by PBS. DVD $27.99. Blu-ray $37.99. ISBN 9781608830275.

Too Sane for This World. 63 min. Dist. by Cinema Libre Studio. 2014. $19.95. UPC 881394119123.

The Unauthorized Story: The Beatles—Parting Ways. 60 min. Dist. by Janson Media. 2014. $19.95. ISBN 9781568394831.

Why Sharks Attack: Secrets of the Great White. (NOVA). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $24.99. ISBN 9781608830817.

The Wisdom to Survive. 56 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $250.00. ISBN 1560290382.


early elementary

Bridwell, Norman. Clifford! The Big Red Dog and Other Clifford Stories. Playaway Light. 24 min. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $44.99. ISBN 9781602526761.

Greene, Stephanie. Princess Posey and the Tiny Treasure. (Princess Posey: Bk. 5). 1 CD. 30 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781470378011. digital download.

Lester, Helen. The Loch Mess Monster. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490619507. digital download.

McDonald, Megan. The Big Bad Blackout. (Judy Moody & Stink: Bk. 3). 2 CDs. 1 hr. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $49.97. ISBN 9781480583665.

MOORE, Eva. Lucky Ducklings. Tr book with 1 CD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9780545661195.

Van Hecke, Susan. Under the Freedom Tree. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490621227. digital download.

Warner, Sally. EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star! (EllRay Jakes: Bk. 2). 2 CDs. 2:06 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $25.75. ISBN 9781470380519. digital download.

WOODSON, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. 1 CD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $29.95. ISBN 9780545670807.

YACCARINO, Dan. Lawn to Lawn. 1 CD. 7 min. Dreamscape Media. $12.99. ISBN 9781629238524.

middle grade

ANGLEBERGER, Tom. Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (Origami Yoda: Bk. 5). 3 CDs. 3:25 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $30.75. ISBN 9781490615592. Playaway, digital download.

French, Jackie. Hitler’s Daughter. 3 CDs. 3:05 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781486205042.

GEORGE, Jessica Day. Tuesdays at the Castle. 6 CDs. 6:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $66.75. ISBN 9781490603056. Playaway, digital download.

GRIMES, Nikki. Words with Wings. 1 CD. 41 min. Recorded Books. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490609676. Playaway, digital download.

Ibbotson, Eva. The Abominables. 5 CDs. 5:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $18. ISBN 9781490620954. Playaway, digital download.

Marino, Andy. The Door. 7 CDs. 7:47 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $34.99. ISBN 9780545675727.

Martin, Ann M. Best Kept Secret. (Family Tree: Bk 3). 5 CDs. 5:25 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $30. ISBN 9780804122382. digital download.

McKinley, Robin. Dragonhaven. 11 CDs. 13 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781470350949. Playaway, digital download.

Nix, Garth & Sean Williams. The Missing. (Troubletwisters: Bk. 4). 8 CDs. 9:02 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014 $64.97. ISBN 9781455821389.

REESE, Jenn. Horizon. (Above World: Bk. 3). 8 CDs. 8:51 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781480595484.

Standiford, Natalie. Countdown. (The 39 Clues: Unstoppable: Bk. 3). 4 CDs. 4:49 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $49.99. ISBN 9780545648806.

Starmer, Aaron. The Riverman. 8 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $87.75. ISBN 9781490616292. Playaway, digital download.

TORDAY, Piers. The Last Wild. 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490614298. Playaway, digital download.

young adult

Burke, Marcus. Team Seven. 8 CDs. 8:48 hours. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781629236414.

Chapman, Elsie. Divided. (Dualed: Bk. 2). 8 CDs. 10:45 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $50. ISBN 9780804121507. digital download.

Clare, Cassandra. City of Heavenly Fire. (The Mortal Instruments: Bk. 6). 17 CDs. 21 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2014. $49.99. ISBN 9781442349773. 2 MP3-CDs, digital download.

CULBERTSON, Kim. Catch a Falling Star. 9 CDs. 9:56 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9780545722964.

De la Cruz, Melissa. The Ring and the Crown. 9 CDs. 10:15 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $97.75. ISBN 9781490616957. Playaway, digital download.

Donnelly, Jennifer. Deep Blue. 6 CDs. 7:23 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $40. ISBN 9780804168571. digital download.

Garcia, Kami & Margaret Stohl. Dangerous Creatures. 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2014. $30. ISBN 9781478982074. digital download.

Lockhart, E. We Were Liars. 5 CDs. 6:21 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $35. ISBN 9780804168410. digital download.

Maberry, Jonathan. Fire & Ash. (Rot and Ruin: Bk. 4). 10 CDs. 11:45 hours. Recorded Books. 2014. $108.75. ISBN 9781470398019. Playaway, digital download.

Massey, David. Torn. 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781470339814. Playaway, digital download.

Morgan, Page. The Lovely and the Lost. (The Dispossessed: Bk. 2). 10 CDs. 12:28 hrs. Books on Tape. 2014. $55. ISBN 9780385363969. digital download.


Big Backyard: Montessori Songs for Children. Performed by Mark Galasso. CD. 12 mins. CDBaby.com. 2013. ISBN unavail. $12.

Buy One Get One Flea. Performed by Dog on Fleas. CD. 32 min. Dog on Fleas. 2014. ISBN unavail. $12.99.

Count Me In! Performed by The Little Rockers Band. CD. 31 min. Little Rockers Music. 2014. ISBN unavail. $11.99.

D Is for Django. Performed by Django Jones. CD. 53 min. Deputy Jones Records. 2014. ISBN unavail. $15.

The Deep Woods. Performed by Red Yarn. CD. 36 min. Red Yarn Productions. 2013. ISBN unavail. $15.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Performed by Thomas Hellman & ­Emilie Clepper. Tr book with CD. 39 min. The Secret Mountain. 2014. ISBN 9782924217238. $16.95.

Perfectly Purple. Performed by Mr. Eric & Mr. Michael. CD. 40 min. The Learning Groove. 2012. ISBN unavail. $15.

Sing as We Go! Performed by Charlie Hope. CD. 42 min. Dean Jones. 2013. $14.95.

What Are Dreams Made Of? Performed by Aoede. CD. 57 min. Aoede Muse Music. 2014. ISBN unavail. $15.

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