Uneversaurus by Professor Potts.

Guaranteed to fly off of your dinosaur shelves, the huge eye on the cover of the book changes to a reflection of a dinosaur when held in a different way. 

This nonfiction book for children offers speculation on what dinosaurs may have looked like.  Were they like today’s reptiles?  Did they use flashy defenses?  Could they change color with their environment?  No one knows.  My favorite line from the book is:  “Trying to guess what color dinosaurs were… is like chasing the end of the rainbow.”  The book is full of lovely imagery like that paired with silly cartoon comments from a pair of dinosaurs.  The entire format is designed with children firmly in mind.

This book will grab the imagination of children.  I would recommend it for art classes so that children can explore the many colors that dinosaurs could be.  Also use it for dinosaur units or just to lure children to ask for even more dinosaur information. 

Notes on a Near-Life Experience

Notes on a Near-Life Experience by Olivia Birdsall.

This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking look at the effect of divorce on a teen girl.  Mia’s father moves out of the house after years of fighting that they tried to hide from the children.  Before the divorce, the family had things that marked them as a great family:  home-made birthday cakes, packed school lunches ready and waiting, and Jeopardy in the evenings.  But when her father leaves, so do those hallmarks of her family.  As Mia’s family life falls apart, her romance with a long-time crush begins to heat up.  But can she make sense of all of these new feelings and experiences before she drowns in them? 

I loved the characterizations here.  The fact that the they were flawed and interesting made the book work.  Mia was complicated as were her siblings, her best friend and her parents.  The book is all about living in a complicated world where nothing is as simple as it once seemed.

Recommend this to preteen girls.  This is a perfect tween novel with romance, best friends and family angst.