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1. An Interview with Monster & Boy — Not To Be Missed!

Today I am honored to have two wonderful guests from the Monster & Me series, including the recently released Monster Needs Your Vote (reviewed here). You might remember them from another interview (read it here). There is no better way to get at the story than from the view point of the characters.

monster-banner-1

Monster and Boy cut to the chase as they answer a few of my hard-hitting questions. Of course, you’d expect nothing less from an interview with a political candidate. Monster is vying for President! Yep, he doesn’t play around folks (well, not much), and aims for the top! Monster’s long-time friend goes along on the campaign trail, giving guidance and help as only Boy can. (NOTE:  Kids, any Boy—or Girl—and any Monster can aspire to this relationship, as enviable as it is.)

HOLD ON, HERE WE GO!

Welcome Monster and Boy. Your new book Monster Needs Your Vote is in bookstores now. The author, Paul Czajak, chose an interesting topic for your 5th book:  politics. What did you think, Monster, when you found out you would be running for president?

m1.

“First off thanks for having me, any opportunity to get the message out I am up for!”

“MONSTER 2016!! Turn your voice into a roar!”

b5“Monster we’re no longer campaigning, remember? You already saved the library.”

m4“Oh yeah, I forgot. Sometimes I forget stuff. Anyway I want to point out when I was running I was my OWN Monster and not an imaginary Monster created by Mr. Paul Czajak. I decided to run for President when I found out I wasn’t old enough to vote. Which is not fair!”

I BELIEVE IN MONSTER 2016!!
Capture

True, at first, you simply wanted to vote. Have you ever voted before that day? I know I’m not supposed to ask, but my curiosity is overpowering my good sense. Which candidate did you vote for?

m1“I never voted before. In fact I didn’t even know what it was until that day. Once I heard about it I thought, “How cool is that?! Being able to voice your opinion on how decisions are made! What an awesome responsibility!” Then Boy told me I wasn’t old enough to vote yet, UNFAIR! So I figured I would run for President and help change that rule.”

Boy has always helped you, like when he helped you choose a Halloween costume, find a Christmas tree, and when he helped you go to sleep. How did Boy help you on the campaign trail?

m1“Well, he’s very good at making posters, and he’s great at coming up with campaign slogans. He created “A chocolate cake on every plate, a pie in every pot!” I thought that was very clever.”

b2.

“Thanks, Monster!”

m4“Even though I really liked that slogan, Dessert For Dinner was probably not the best platform, or issue, to run on. Boy helped me figure out that I should stand behind something that isn’t about what I need but what everybody needs, like a library staying open. But honestly who wouldn’t want chocolate cake for dinner?”

b11s

“I like vanilla.”

m3.

“You’re so difficult.”

Boy, I’m curious again. You have a giant amount of confidence when guiding Monster, but he is, like, 100 times bigger than you. Aren’t you afraid Monster might, well, become a monster?

b5

“I don’t get it? Monster is a monster, that’s why his name is Monster. He can’t become a monster since he’s already a monster. Any idea what she’s talking about?”

m4

“Sorry I wasn’t listening, I’m still thinking about chocolate cake.”

In Monster Needs Your Vote, both of you use some odd words and combinations of words, like soapbox (a box of soap?), oratory, platform, grassroots movement (moving grassroots?), “give a voice” (you can do that?) and “all for naught” (who is naught?). What do these words mean and why are these important when running for president?

m3

“This sounds an awful lot like a “gotcha question.” Where’s my agent?”


b5   
“Monster, you don’t have an agent. Plus, I think she just wants to know how you got such a big vocabulary.”

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150.

“Oh! Mr. Czajak teaches me lots of big words. No reason not to use them when the opportunity presents itself,

“New Hampshire, then to Iowa he caused a rousing raucous,
“Speaking to the voters at the primary and caucus.”

b11s

“Monster, no one likes a show off.”

m1

“Tell that to Trump.”

People running for president usually have a running mate, why isn’t Boy your running mate instead of your campaign manager? (Did the author veto that idea?)

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150

“He was going to be my running mate!”

“Monster needs a running mate, “So who’s it going to be?”
“Monster said, “My only choice is you for my V.P.”

“But I never got to that point since it turns out you have to be 35 to run for President. Which, again, is unfair! I know, I’ll run for President and change that rule too!”

I don’t recall from your first adventure, Monster Needs a Costume, if we found out where you came from. President Obama had to show his birth certificate to prove he was born in the U.S.  Running for President is tough to do. Did anyone ask to see your birth certificate?

m5“It all happened during a debate with one of the other candidates, I think I still have the transcript.”

“A Monster can’t be President, he has no expertise!
“Who is Monster? Where’s he from? I think he may have fleas.”

“Fleas are not the issue, this is just something that misleads
“This country needs a Leader that will focus on the needs.”

“After the debate the officials asked for my birth certificate which showed I wasn’t 35, dumb rule.”

b5.
“Also, I would like to go on record that Monster does not have fleas. That man was just being mean.”

What I really like about Monster Needs Your Vote is all the other monsters Wendy Grieb brought out. There are some interesting-looking monsters. Monster, there is one that sure looks like he/she could be a relative. Do you know any of these monsters?

m7.

“A lot of them came to my Birthday Party this past April! It was such a surprise when I came home from Pirate Land and found all my friends in the house.”

 

I’m so sorry. I missed your birthday party. I bet it was a frightful affair!  Anyway, I think Monster would be absolutely terrific at any sport or getting fit (kids need that—adults, too). Boy, what is next for Monster?

a1

.

.

“We will focus on Monsters message of “Reading Turns Your Voice into a Roar!” for the rest of the election. Then I think Monster might go to school next fall… His sports career will have to wait a bit. Though he will definitely get involved in something.”

.

m1“Yup, like basketball, or swimming, or tennis, or yoga, or maybe surfing or cheerleading…”

.

Ah, Monster, you are such a dreamer . . . I mean you have great dreams . . . um, what I really mean to say is, “Yes! You go Monster!”  So, is there anything either of you would like to say directly to the readers?

BottomSpot_DONE_REVISED-copy-copy-150x150.

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“Read! Read! Read! And support your local library!”

b2.

“What he said, it’s why he’s the best candidate.”

.

That is a fantastic message! Monster and Boy, thank you for stopping by . . . Oh, wait! I forgot to ask one BIG QUESTION. In Monster Needs Your Vote (you have my vote)—DID YOU WIN?

Capture2

m3.

“Well I guess someone didn’t read the book. It’s only 350 words, it’s not like it would take that much time.”

b5.

“Monster, I think she’s just pretending to have not read the book to build up suspense. You know, a bit of suspended disbelief on the part of the interviewer.”

a2“Suspended what?”

“Suspended Disbelief, when something doesn’t make sense, but you let it go for the sake of the story. You know, kind of like if someone wrote a story about a monster who’s too young to vote but then decides to run for President.”

m4.

“You lost me.”

Monster and Boy, thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Reviews once more. It is always a delight and a surprise!

Boy and Monster, what a pair. You got to love them and I believe you will while reading the Monster & Me series. This is one series that has never disappointed me. The stories and illustrations are full of humor, bold images, and a gentle message no one, not even a Monster, tries to blast at you.

You can start the Monster & Me series with their the latest, Monster Needs Your Vote (reviewed here), as each book can stand on its own (and no, Monster, I do not mean that they actually stand on their own, but that you can read any story without having to read the story before it).

Soon it will be Halloween, a good time to read Monster Needs a Costume (reviewed here). And then Christmas will be upon us and Monster Needs a Christmas Tree (reviewed soon) is the perfect holiday story.

If holidays are not your thing (really, could that be true of anyone?) how about a birthday party story with Monster Needs a Party (reviewed soon), or a story to help you nod off with Monster in Monster Needs His Sleep (reviewed here)?

It sounds like Monster will be heading off to school—for the first time—next Fall and maybe joining a sports team—or the cheerleaders. I cannot wait for those stories. Until then, I hope you have enjoyed this latest interview with Monster and Boy.

And don’t forget to “Read! Read! Read!” Support your public library, and VOTE FOR MONSTER!

#5 needs your vote

.

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

 

Full Disclosure: Monster & Me by Paul Czajak & Wendy Grieb, and published by Mighty Media Kids. Monster and Boy’s interview answers by Paul Czajak. Images copyright © by Wendy Grieb.  The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monster & Me Series

Monster Needs a Costume

Monster Needs a Costume

Monster Needs His Sleep

Monster Needs His Sleep

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree

Monster Needs a Christmas Tree

Monster Needs a Party

Monster Needs a Party

Monster Needs Your Vote

Monster Needs Your Vote

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Purchase at  Amazon  IndieBound Books  Mighty Media Kids

11.

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.

A HUGE THANKS to Paul Czajak!


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Guest Post, Interviews, Picture Book, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Boy, Mighty Media Kids, Mighty Media Press, monster, Monster & Me series, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs a Costume, Monster Needs a Party, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs Your Vote, Paul Czajak, Wendy Grieb

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2. Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, by M. M. Allen | Dedicated Review

Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk, written by M.M. Allen, is a fantastical novel filled with some mystery and a touch of magic. It deals primarily with loss and healing.

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3. #724 – Fowl Play by Travis Nichols

fowl play
Fowl Play
Written & Illustrated By Travis Nichols
Chronicle Books        8/04/2015
978-1-4521-3182-5
40 pages         Age 7—12

Just what kind of monkey business has befallen Mr. Hound’s shop? Who has broken his window? And most importantly: why?

“Luckily, our team of plucky detectives has been chomping at the bit to take on their first case. When Mr. Hound hires them to investigate, they hoof it to his shop. And once they get sleuthing, wild horses couldn’t drag them away from the scent of a clue. But is it all just a dog and pony show to distract them from the truth

“Idioms are everywhere in the Gumshoe Zoo detective agency’s hilarious first case as they attempt to get to the bottom of Mr. Hound’s mystery.” [inside jacket]

Review
The Gumshoe Zoo Detective Agency has finally received their first case: someone has broken Mr. Hound’s shop window. But why? Each member of the detective agency is on the case, each having something to say:

“Hmm . . . Yes. There’s something fishy going on around here.”

This is said by Quentin, a goat. All of the Gumshoe Zoo detectives are animals. But Quentin’s fishy statement was overheard by Reggie, who happens to be a fish. Quentin quickly saves face.

“”Oh! No offense, Reggie.”
“None taken. But you are right. There is some definite monkey business at hand, my friend.”

Reggie agrees with Quentin, but makes his assessment within earshot of Steve, a monkey. And so it goes through the line-up of detectives, each one making a clichéd remark that indicts a fellow detective, yet none take offense at the off-handed remarks. The detectives are too glued to the case to become offended at these idioms. Then a clue is found that opens up the case and makes an unexpected turn. The detectives are not confused. They immediately figure out what happened at Mr. Hound’s shop. They quickly deduce who threw a can of tomatoes through the shop window. The answer is not a pretty picture.

fowl2

Fowl Play is the first of a series that will have children quickly understanding parts of speech, such as the idioms used in Mr. Hound’s case of the broken window. The story is hilarious, not just because of the witty idioms, but also because the comic book illustrations are terrific. Fowl Play is one unusual book but it does its job. Teachers will have loads of fun integrating this series into their lesson plans. Kids will love the humor and the illustrations of the detectives.

The Gumshoe Zoo detectives are: Josie (a rat), Morgan (a chicken), Sharon (a duck), and Mike (a bull), in addition to the detectives referenced above. Of course, the victim, Mr. Hound, is a dog. The case does not end as one would expect. In the middle of an interview for W-IDM Channel 4, an urgent situation develops downtown . The Mayor, a cat, wants the Gumshoe Zoo detectives on the case. This case will not be as easy as Fowl Play and Mr. Hound’s idiom filled broken window. According to the final page, this case will be a “beast of oxymoronic proportions.” This is one case I am anxious to read and one new series I think will be an educational blast.

fowl1

After the Fowl Play mystery is solved, the definition of “idioms” and the meaning of each idiom used in the story is given in a mish-mash style perfect for this comically fowl story. This section is worth reading for the humor and the explanations. Kids will love the references and may just find themselves using an idiom or two in their speech.

Fowl Play is No Sweat for this Author!

FOWL PLAY. Text & illustrations copyright © 2015 by Travis Nichols. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mighty Media Kids, an imprint of Mighty Media Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Buy Fowl Play at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunes BooksIndieBound BooksChronicle Books.

Learn more about Fowl Play HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Travis Nichols, at his website:  http://iamtravisnichols.com/
Find more children’s books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

ALSO BY TRAVIS NICHOLS
Monstrous Fun: A Doodle and Activity Book
Uglydoll: My Hero?
The Totally Awesome Book of Useless Information
. . . any many more

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Fowl Play by Travis Nichols, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Filed under: Books for Boys, Children's Books, Comics, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: animals, Chronicle Books, Chronicle Kids, crime, Fowl Play, Gumshoe Zoo Detective Agency, idioms, mysteries, Travis Nichols

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4. #722 – (NatGeoKids) Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth by Steve Tomecek & Fred Harper

cover
Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth: All About Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, & Even DIRT!

Written by Steve Tomecek
Illustrated by Fred Harper
National Geographic Society      6/09/2015
978-1-4263-1903-7
128 pages      Age 8—12

“Geologist Steve Tomecek, aka The Dirtmeister, and his sidekick Digger unearth all kinds of amazing information in this comprehensive book about geology. Clear explanations of geologic processes will teach future geoscientists the fascinating topics while fun facts and simple experiments reinforce the concepts. So grab your shovel and get ready to play IN THE DIRT.” [back cover]

Review
Divided into ten relatively short, but in-depth, color-coded chapters, (such as “The Dynamics of Soil,” “How it (Earth) All Began,” and “Digging Old Dead Things”), Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth will teach kids a lot about geology and how it helps answer many questions. While very educational—teachers will love it—the kid-friendly book is equally entertaining. Kids are at the center of Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth. In fact, each chapter begins with a question put forth by a middle-grade-aged kid:

“Is that you down there, Dirtmeister?
I thought I recognized your dirtmobile.
My name is Richie and I have a quick
question . . . How did the Grand Canyon
get to be, you know, so grand?”
(Richie, in chapter 6, “What Goes Up Must Come Down”)

Other kids ask questions about such things as volcanoes, earthquakes, the shape of the continents, if can rocks make other rocks, and if dinosaurs are really extinct. The questions are interesting and the answers fascinating and fun. The Dirtmeister adds “cool” facts he calls “Dirtmeister’s Nuggets,” short biographies of important people, and simple experiments that let kids see geology at work. The illustrations are cartoonish and the images of Dirtmeister and his sidekick Digger are quite expressive. The art, especially the first spread of each chapter and its graphic novel layout, help draw in the reader and make the book feel personal, as if Dirtmeister is talking directly to the you. The remaining of the book is filled with photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and text that answers each question and then digs a bit deeper.

introI thoroughly enjoyed reading Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth from cover-to-cover. Being a National Geographic Kids publication I should have realized, even before turning to page 1, that I was in for a humorous, engaging, and educational read with incredible illustrations by Fred Harper. Geology, heck science of any kind, was never this easy to understand or could grab me from start to finish. I was amazed at geology’s reach. Topics included not just how to find Earth’s age, but how she came into existence.

The variety of subjects, tied into the Earth’s soil and its importance to humans, makes Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth ideal as an adjunct middle grade science text. I think elementary teachers could also find ways to utilize this book in their science classrooms. The entire book is kid-friendly and larger words are defined (in context). Home-schoolers should not miss a page of Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Earth. The author has correlated each chapter with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)* and STEM** Science Standards, both for grades 3 to 8. These follow the final chapter. There is also an extensive Index.

From volcanoes spewing hot lava and earthquakes splitting open Mother Earth, plus experiments such as designing rocks, building sediments, and simulating the Big Chill, Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth is probably the dirtiest middle grade book ever written—parents and teachers will approve. Oh, yeah, so will kids!

*NGSS was developed by the National Research Council and are based on the Framework for K—12 Science Education.  Website:  http://nextgenscience.org/

**STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. Teachers can find relevant information on STEM at the National Education Association (NEA), PBS, and at Teach.com.

DIRTMEISTER’S NITTY GRITTY PLANET EARTH:  ALL ABOUT ROCKS, MINERALS, FOSSILS, EARTHQUAKES, VOLCANOES, & EVEN DIRT! Text copyright (C) 2015 by Steve Tomecek. Illustrations copyright (C) 2015 by Fred Harper. Photographs copyrights vary and are listed in the book. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC.

You can buy Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksNational Geography.

Learn more about Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth HERE.
Information for Teachers and Librarians HERE and HERE.
National Geographic + Common Core is HERE.
More for Kids from National Geographic Kids HERE

Meet the author, Steve Tomecek, at his website:  http://www.dirtmeister.com/
Meet the illustrator, Fred Harper, at his website:  http://www.fredharper.com/
Find more books at the National Geographic Kids website:  http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/

ALSO BY STEVE TOMECEK
Dirt (Jump Into Science®)
Moon (Jump Into Science®)
Sun (Jump Into Science®)
Rocks and Minerals (Jump Into Science®)
Stars (Jump Into Science®)
Rocks and Minerals (National Geographic Kids Everything)

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth: All About Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Even DIRT! by Steve Tomecek & Fred Harper, and received from National Geographic Society, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Big Bang, Digger, dirt, Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty Planet Earth, earth, Fred Harper, geology, National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Society, Steve Tomecek, The Big Chill, The Dirtmeister

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5. #720-1 – My Barnyard! And My Dinosaurs! By Betty Schwartz & Lynn Seresin

barnyard cover

My Barnyard!: A Read and Play Book!
Written by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin
Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello
Cartwheel Books       6/30/2015
978-0-545-69077-5
10 pages      Age 3—5
dino cover

My Dinosaurs!: A Read and Play Book
Written by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin
Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello
Cartwheel Books       12/30/2014
978-0-545-69076-8
10 pages          Age 3—5

“A new novelty book featuring six large puzzle pieces that won’t get lost. Learn all about barnyard animals (and dinosaurs), as you match each animal piece to its appropriate spread.” [authors]

Review
My Barnyard will be loved by young children who are interested in animals—and what child is not? The rhyming text tells the story of each animal’s day, starting with the chickens and the sheep.

CHICKENS ‘cluck’ as they go,
With their little chicks in tow.
SHEEP are fluffy and eat grass.
They say ‘baaaa!’ as their lambs pass.”

IMG_5458

The name of each barnyard animal is capitalized and color-coded to match its cut-out and attached ribbon. I love the color-coded ribbons. What a nice addition to My Barnyard and a thoughtful hint for young children as they match each animal into its corresponding space. At the end of the story, the six animals meet up in the final spread. Little fingers will appreciate the colorful cardboard cutouts and the size of the book, which are a perfect fit for little hands. My Barnyard has thick, glossy pages that will stand up to sticky fingers—cleaning off quickly—and rough handling, as young children learn to turn pages.

IMG_5459

Kids will squeal with delight at the sound of each animal’s call, be it the “baa” of the sheep or the “oink-oink” of the pig. The rhyming text is a joy to read and won’t get on a parent’s “last nerve” when read for the tenth time that morning. Having young children “speak” for the animals will increase the joy of this board book for the youngest of beginning readers. My Barnyard is a perfect complement to My Dinosaurs, the first in this board book in this series by the talented team of Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin.

IMG_4953

In My Dinosaurs, six different dinosaurs, again with color-coded names and matching ribbons, fit their corresponding cutout spaces nicely. Four of the dinosaurs make-up the cover, just as three of the barnyard animals help make that cover come alive. My Dinosaurs has all the benefits of My Barnyard, as I hope each new book in this series will have. Young boys will especially love My Dinosaurs, but don’t count out the girls. The dinosaurs are realistically brought to life by artist John Bendall-Brunello, who also illustrated My Barnyard.

IMG_4955

Young children and their parents will love this new Read and Play board book series from Cartwheel Books (an imprint of Scholastic). The books are realistically drawn and offer young children the opportunity to learn about animals as they listen to the stories and then place each animal in its correct environment. The rhyming text is expertly written in each book. Young children will want to go through these books on their own, “reading” the words—from memory or imagination—and having a blast with each turn of the page.

MY BARNYARD! A READ AND PLAY BOOK! and MY DINOSAUR! A READ AND PLAY BOOK! Text copyright © 2015 by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by John Bendall-Brunello. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Cartwheel Books (a Scholastic, Inc. imprint), New York, NY.

Purchase My Barnyard! at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksCartwheel Books.
Purchase My Dinosaurs! at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksCartwheel Books.

Learn more about My Barnyard! HERE.
Learn more about My Dinosaurs! HERE.

Meet the author, Betty Schwartz, at jacketflap:  http://www.jacketflap.com/betty-schwartz/16354
Meet the author, Lynn Seresin, at her twitter page:  https://twitter.com/lynnsere
Meet the illustrator, John Bendall-Brunello, at his website:  http://www.johnbendall-brunello.com/
Find more board books at the Cartwheel Books website:  http://www.scholastic.com/

Cartwheel Books is an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.

ALSO BY BETTY SCHWARTZ & LYNN SERESIN
Hop, Hop Bunny  (A Follow-Along Book)    (reviewed HERE)
Run, Run Piglet (A Follow-Along Book) 
Ten Playful Tigers  (A Back-and-Forth Counting Book)  (reviewed HERE)
Busy Little Dinosaurs  (A Back-and-Forth Alphabet Book)  (reviewed HERE)
You’re it, Little Red Fish  (A Back-and-Forth Colors Book)

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

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Full Disclosure: My Barnyard! A Read and Play Book! And My Dinosaur! A Read and Play Book!, by Betty Schwartz and Lynn Seresin & John Bendall-Brunello, and received from Cartwheel Books, (an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 5stars, Board Books, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: barnyard animals, Betty Schwartz, Cartwheel Books, dinosaurs, John Bendall-Brunello, Lynn Seresin, matching board book, My Barnyard! A Read and Play Book!, My Dinosaur! A Read and Play Book!, Scholastic Inc.

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6. #701 – The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey

rodkey_tappertwins_pob The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other)

written by Claudia Tapper with Geoff Rodkey
Little, Brown and Company     4/07/2015
978-0-316-29779-0
236 pages     Age 8—12

“This brand-new series by a popular screenwriter is a pitch-perfect, contemporary comedy featuring twelve-year-old fraternal twins, Claudia and Reese, who couldn’t be more different…except in their determination to come out on top in a vicious prank war! But when the competition escalates into an all-out battle that’s fought from the cafeteria of their New York City private school all the way to the fictional universe of an online video game, the twins have to decide if their efforts to destroy each other are worth the price.

“Told as a colorful “oral history” by the twins and their friends, and including photos, screenshots, chat logs, online gaming digital art, and text messages between their clueless parents, The Tapper Twins is a hilariously authentic showcase of what it’s like to be in middle school in our digitally-saturated world.” [publisher]

Review
Claudia and Reese, age 12, twins, are at war, with each other. Who started the war depends on whom you ask, Claudia or Reese. They cannot agree on anything. Claudia decides, after the war is over, to document what happened. She writes using all at her disposal, including photos, interviews, online screenshots, and her mostly-absent parents’ phone text messages. I love her description of her and Reese,

“We are, unfortunately, twins. I am twelve years old. Reese is six.”

Reese interjects whenever he can. Like any war, it starts when one side (Reese), accuses the other side (Claudia), of doing something wrong (farting in the sixth-grade cafeteria), which harms others (a few sixth-grade princess sensibilities, many noses, and Jens—Claudia’s secret crush). Embarrassed and angry at such a terrible accusation—she claims innocence—Claudia is out for revenge. The War has begun. 

TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (spread 1)

Claudia tries several ways of embarrassing her brother, but Reese does not embarrass easily. Claudia begins by placing a large, dead, stinky fish in Reese’s backpack, but even after several days, and others complaining of the awful smell, Reese doesn’t notice. When he learns of the fish, he fires back. Then Claudia returns his fire, and back-and-forth, until someone is tragically hurt. The fighting is both online and off for some digital-age humor. Claudia also allows others to comment in her “Officially True History of the War between the Trapper Twins (Claudia and Reese).” These interjections into Claudia’s history of war help the story gel into a humorous middle school tale. Readers meet Claudia’s secret Norwegian crush (Jens), the twins’ Upper East Side private school friends, the snobby Princesses, and the twin’s parents.

TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (spread 3)

Rodkey, who wrote the excellent Chronicles of Egg series (reviewed here: bk1, bk2, bk3), knows his readers well and understands how siblings fight. I loved the first book of this new series, which delves into cyberbullying as part of the twins’ fighting. Even though Claudia writes the history, she comes off as the antagonist, rather than the victim she sees herself to be, making it easy to favor Reese. Still, the sibling fighting feels natural, not forced. That the twins are more alike than they believe and never really lose their sibling-love is also true to form. If you have siblings, you just might recognize yourself in either Claudia or Reese.

The Trapper Twins will have readers laughing, happily rolling their eyes, and smiling throughout its witty story. Those who like the Dork series, or the Aldo Zelnick Alphabet Novels (example here), will love The Trapper Twins even more. The Trapper Twins series continues this September with book 2: The Trapper Twins Tear Up New York. The prologue and first chapter are at the back of this book to give you a taste of the next. I cannot wait to continue this series. I love Rodkey’s writing and his wit.

THE TRAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (WITH EACH OTHER). Text copyright © 2015 by Geoff Rodkey. Illustrations and photographs (except where noted) copyright © 2015 by Geoff Rodkey. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY.

Purchase The Trapper Twins Go to War at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHachette Book Group.

The Trapper Twins made the New York Times Bestseller List at #14!
Learn more about The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other) HERE.
Read an Excerpt HERE.

Meet the author, Geoff Rodkey, at his website:  http://geoffrodkey.com/
Meet the illustrator, The Trapper Twins book website:  http://www.tappertwins.com/
Find more middle grade books at the Little, Brown and Company website:  http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/kids/

Little, Brown and Company is part of the Hachette Book Group

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 413

trapper twins go to war 2015 bk 1 little brown company

 


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Brown and Company, Chronicle of Egg, family relationships, Geoff Rodkey, Hachette Book Grou, humor, Little, New York City, private schools, sibling fighting, The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other), The Trapper Twins Tear Up New York, twins

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7. #708 – National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 by Nat. Geo Society & Nat. Geo Kids Magazine

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National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016
National Geographic Society & National Geographic Kids Magazine
National Geographic Society        5/12/2015
978-1-4263-1921-1
352 pages         Age 8—12
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“This New York Times bestseller is packed with incredible photos, tons of fun facts, crafts, activities, and fascinating articles about animals, science, nature, technology, and more. New features include a special section on animal friends; an updated “Fun and Games” chapter filled with all-new games, jokes, and comics; a new “Dino Myths Busted” feature; all new weird-but-true facts, crafts, and activities; a new special “15 Facts” feature in every chapter; updated reference material, and much more! And, this is the only kids’ almanac with mobile media features that allow kids to access National Geographic videos, photo galleries, and games.” [publisher]

Review
National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016—Wow, where do I start? Color blasts out from every page. The photography is as spectacular as National Geographic photography has always been—brilliant, intimately detailed, knock-you-off-your-feet fantabulous. Divided into ten sections, the Kids Almanac 2016 begins with a section on interesting things happening in 2016, and then it explores the usual topics of history, culture, science, geography, nature, and animals. The almanac also includes a section on green technology and its effect on Earth, and a section about exploration and survival. Most likely, a favorite for kids will be the section on games. Actually, the Kids Almanac 2016 contains a game throughout the entire 350 pages. In each chapter is a clue. Find all ten clues and you can open up digital extras.

dino mythsIn reading the Kids Almanac 2016, I think National Geographic has covered all the subjects kids will find interesting and all those they need to know about. Adults can get a lot out of this almanac as well. There is a tremendous amount of information in this relatively small book. I loved the animal topics, of which there are many. Kids interested in dinosaurs will find a prehistoric timeline, nine “Bet you didn’t know” facts, and myths. Each section ends with a quiz on that section’s subject. When you cannot get to a place, or want to know what is happening in different places around the world, the Kids Almanac 2016 is a tremendous aid. Kids can also dig a little deeper in subjects they love and learn about subjects they never thought about or thought were dull. There is not one tedious word or picture in the Kids Almanac 2016. Here are a few subjects I found to be amazing:

“Secrets of the Blue Holes”
Animal photography and how to get the shot.
“The Wonders of Nature: the Oceans”

Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“16 Cool Facts about Coral Reefs”
The jokes and comics in Fun and Games
Orangutan to the Rescue (Survival Story)”

What would a National Geographic book be without its gorgeous maps? The Kids Almanac 2016 has plenty of maps and flags. I think the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is a must read, if not a must have, for kids, especially middle graders who will learn a lot without realizing they are learning. The Kids Almanac 2016 is fun, exciting, and interesting. The pages are colorful, the photographs and images extremely detailed, and the subject matter is diverse.

volcanosThough kids are just now beginning to enjoy their summer school breaks, the Kids Almanac 2016 will keep them reading through the summer, which will help kids during their next school year, make them more informed about their world. Parents concerned about the books their kids read will have not one worry about this almanac. Every word, every subject, and every article is kid-friendly. The National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 is an interesting read that will keep kids hooked long past summer vacation.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KIDS ALMANAC 2016. Text and images copyright © 2015 by National Geographic Society. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, National Geographic Society in partnership with National Geographic Kids Magazine, Washington DC.

Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

Kids! Join the National Geographic Kids Book Club HERE!
Teachers and Librarians can find additional information at: http://www.ngchildrensbooks.org
National Geographic Educational site is HERE.

Learn more about National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 HERE.
Check out the National Geographic Society website: http://www.nationalgeographic.com
Find other National Geographic books at: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/books
Learn more about the National Geographic Kids Magazine at the website: http://www.kids.nationalgeographic.com

Kids Almanac 2015 
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 496

nat geo kids almanac 2016


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: and animals, culture, fun, games, geography, going green, history, liss instructive information, maps, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016, National Geographic Kids Magazine, National Geographic Society, nature, science

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8. My Writing and Reading Life: Simon Nicholson

Simon Nicholson writes for Nick Jr. including such shows as Tickety Tock, Bob the Builder, and Zack and Quack, as well as for BBC children’s programming.

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9. #709 – Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie-Dupont-and-the-Science-Fair-Sabotage-by-Julie-Anne-Grasso
Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage
Written by Julie Anne Grasso
Illustrated by Alexander Avellino
Published by J. A. Grasso       5/11/2015
978-0-9873725-9-8
230 pages    Age 8—12

“Frankie Dupont is less than impressed when he has to attend the Sustainable Science Fair with Kat and Amy. Upon his arrival, he learns that Amy’s brothers have had their robotics chip stolen Keen to recover the chip, Frankie questions the kids in the competition, but everyone seems to have a motive. When baffling clues start rolling in via “Snap-Goss” instant messages, Frankie realizes it will take all of his detective muscles to solve this case.” [back cover]

Review
Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage is the third book in the Frankie Dupont series. This time around, mom and dad are going away for the weekend, leaving Frankie in charge of the detective agency. When he is called to the Sustainable Science Fair, he finds Angus and Archie in angst over their robotic chip, stolen sometime after arriving at the fair. Frankie swoops into action. He finds the twins entry into the fair, or rather just the twins, causes equal angst among the other student entries. Angus and Archie have pranked each of the contestants and none of them are friendly toward the boys. Each contestant has a reason to sabotage the twin’s entry, though none will admit they stole the chip. Frankie becomes more confused the longer he tries to figure out the culprit. If each kid had a reason to take the robotic chip, how does he decide which is the guilty party?

Illustration2SFS correction 4 May 2015

The mystery is not terribly complicated, still Grasso, whose writing improves with each new story, does a great job keeping the reader with Frankie. Kids will not figure out the culprit much sooner than Frankie will. After three outings, the characters remain fresh. Frankie has lost the arrogance he had during the Lemon Festival Fiasco, yet he is still clueless regarding Amy’s admiration. Frankie’s best friend and cousin Kat, who has been his sidekick through the first two stories, is less involved in the mystery of the stolen chip. Frankie’s main motivation comes from Inspector Cluesome, whom Frankie is determined to outwit.

Kids will enjoy the Science Fair Sabotage. The science fair projects are interesting. One has a house built out of stevia-made sugar cubes and another using scrap aluminum to build a working guitar. The ideas of conservation and recycling are clear in the science fair entries, though I would have liked to have read more about why this fair came about, which could have lead to an indepth conversation about these important issues.

Illustration3SFS

The Science Fair Sabotage will entertain readers. The short chapters, divided by student entry, will keep reluctant readers interested. The end works out fine, with Frankie finding the culprit, the science fair going on as planned, and a winner announced. The culprit is not who readers will expect, so keep you eyes peeled to the clues. The Science Fair Sabotage is a fine addition to the Frankie Dupont series.

Next up for Frankie, Kat, and Amy (seems they might have become a team), is a luxury cruise in Frankie Dupont and the High Seas Adventure, scheduled to release in September 2015.

Awards for the Frankie Dupont Series
2014 Wishing Shelf Independent Book SILVER for Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor. (book #1)

FRANKIE DUPONT AND THE SUSTAINEABLE SCIENCE FAIR. Text copyright © 2015 by Julie Anne Grasso. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Alexander Avellino. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso, Australia.

Buy The Sustainable Science Fair at AmazonBook DepositoryAuthor’s Store.

Learn more about The Sustainable Science Fair HERE.
Free Activity Booklet is HERE.
Meat the author, Julie Anne Grasso at her website:  http://whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au/
Meet the illustrator, Alexander Avellino, at his website:  http://www.alexanderavellino.com/

Also by Julie Anne Grasso
Frankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor (review)
Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco (review)
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #1: Escape from the Forbidden Planet
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #2: Return to Cardamom (review)
Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #3: Stellarcadia
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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Review section word count = 433
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Full Disclosure: Frankie Dupont and the Sustainable Science Fair by Julie Anne Grasso & Alexander Avellino, and received from the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonies in Advertising.


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Alexander Avellino, conservation, ecology, Frankie Dupont, Frankie Dupont and the Science Fair Sabotage, Julie Anne Grasso, mystery, recycling sustainability, science fairs

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10. #710 – The Korean War: an Interactive Modern History Adventure

cover

The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure

Series: You Choose Books
Written by Michael Burgan
Consultant: Raymond L. Puffer, PhD
Capstone Press      8/01/2014
978-1-4914-0357-0
112 pages      Age 8—12

“It’s 1950 and the Communist country of North Korea has invaded its neighboring country of South Korea. The United Nations has stepped in to help South Korea by providing weapons and soldiers. Nearly all of these soldiers come from the United States. Will you:

1. Serve as a pilot in Korea with the U.S. Marine Corps?
2. Lie about your age to enlist as a 16-year-old member of the U.S. military reserves?
3. Join in the fight for your country as a young South Korean man?

Everything in this book happened to real people. And YOU CHOOSE what you do next. The choices you make could lead you to survival or to death.” [back cover]

Review
It is June 25th, 1950. Communist leader Kim I1 Sung controlled northern Korea. He wanted the entire country under his rule. Sung crosses the 38th parallel—dividing north from south—to lead a surprise attack on South Korea with China and the Soviet Union’s help. The United Nations agreed to support the south, sending troops from the United States and 15 other nations—but mostly soldiers came from the U.S. You join the fighting, but how? Are you a Marine pilot, a U.S. reservist, or a South Korean civilian? Choose wisely, as your fate depends upon it.

38th parralel korea

Did you choose the pilot?
Your first major decision is an extremely important decision: do you fly the F4U Corsair fighter plane you know how to pilot, or do you learn how to fly the more dangerous military helicopter? If you choose helicopters, your commander, Colonel Morris (not made up), gives you a choice between a copter requiring sand bags to keep it balanced, or one that can experience engine problems and cannot fly as far as the other copter. How brave are you?

Did you choose to trick the U.S. and join up at age 16?
The first year of reservist training is fairly easy and you are looking forward to the next year when the Korean War begins. You are now a full-time Marines, but without the full Marine training. A sergeant gives you a choice: do you get more training or do you think you are ready to fight? Think about this, as the decision could mean you never return home . . . alive.

Did you choose to be a South Korean civilian, ready to fight for your homeland?
You decide to volunteer, a rather rare event as most South Korean soldiers are merely grabbed off the street. You train with the Americans and then partner up when sent to the line. At one point you are captured by the Chinese, lectured on communism and its value for the entire Korean peninsula, and then told you will fight with the Chinese, not against them. Do you join or do you refuse?

Korean War2A good way to get a feel for the fighting and the awful choices—none great—soldiers were forced to make is by reading The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure. This book is not a textbook-type read in that major facts are given for rote memory. Kids will find this more interesting than mere facts making The Korean War: An Interactive . . . a good adjunct text for teachers. While helping readers understand ground forces and air support decisions and the possible outcomes, the book also includes emotional responses to the fighting and choices of war. Kids will get the usual firing of bazookas, machine guns, and rifles; and the throwing of grenades, the dropping of bombs, and worst of all, napalm, yet the most important are the soldiers feelings and how those feelings affected their choices in these real stories.

Kids will learn the difference between an armistice versus a peace treaty, including North Korea’s instance that the war is not over, though fighting stopped 62 years ago. Up against unbelievable odds, South Korea has kept control of their country. The Korean War may not be the first war kids think of, but it should be in their brain’s history department. I really like these interactive books. I hated history, but these books make history come alive which heightens my interest. I had thought a peace treaty had been made. I also had not realized how influential the Chinese were to the North Korean campaign.

Korean War3

If an old gal of . . . well it’s impolite to ask . . . can enjoy these You Choose Books, kids certainly will enjoy them. And if I can learn a thing or two, so will kids. While not a fun subject, The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure held my interest, got me thinking, and has me wanting to know more about the Korean War. The same will happen to kids who read this inventive, yet real life, account of the Korean War.

The author included a time-line of the war, a “Read More” section, a glossary, bibliography, and an index.

THE KOREAN WAR: AN INTERACTIVE MODERN HISTORY ADVENTURE. Text copyright © 2015 by Michael Burgan. Reproduced by permission of Capstone Press, an imprint of Capstone, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase The Korean War: An Interactive . . . at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about The Korean War: An Interactive . . . HERE.
Meet the author, Michael Burgan, at his Capstone bio:  http://www.capstonepub.com/consumer/authors/burgan-michael/
Find more You Choose Books at the Capstone Press website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

You Choose Books
World War II Pilots  (reviewed HERE)
The Vietnam War
War in Afghanistan
The Berlin Wall
Hurricane Katrina
The Making of a Social Network

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 699


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, You Choose Series Tagged: armisitance, Capstone Press, interactive reading, Michael Burgan, military, Raymond L. Puffer PhD, The Korean War: an Interactive Modern History Adventure, US Marines, War, war planes and helicopters, You Choose Books

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11. My Writing and Reading Life: Dan Scott

Dan Scott was born in Surrey, England. Growing up, he became interested in ancient Rome and his love of historical fiction provided plenty of inspiration for the adventure stories he began to write as a child. Eventually, his characters and stories developed into the action-packed Gladiator School series.

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12. #713 – Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

cover sam dave dig hole
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole
Written by Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press      10/14/2015
978-0-7636-6229-5
32 pages      Age 4—8

“Sam and Dave are digging a hole, and they will not stop until they find something spectacular.” [inside jacket]

Review
The premise of Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is simple:  the two boys are on a mission to find something spectacular and are determined to dig until they find something. They could find a dinosaur bone or maybe dig all the way to China. Along with Sam and Dave is their dog (no name). When the boys fail to find something after digging a hole “so deep their heads were underground,” Sam and Dave change course and dig sideways, then they split up and dig up on a diagonal, then back down again until, tired from digging, the two boys fall asleep. All the while Sam and Dave find nothing, until . . .

9780763662295.int.1

I enjoyed Sam & Dave Dig a Hole immensely. This is a delightful book young children, especially young boys, will enjoy. The humor is subtle—just under the surface (pun intended). While Sam and Dave dig, with their dog keeping a watchful eye, their cat sits atop the hole looking in at the boys’ progress. You will need to look closely at all the detail, in every item, in each relatively sparse spread, but if you do, the payoff is a huge laugh. The illustrations are engagingly simple, rendered digitally and in colored pencil by Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen. Sam & Dave Dig a Hole is about persistence, the willingness to change course, and finding the spectacular where you are and where you go. Sam and Dave exert a tremendous amount of energy trying to find something spectacular. They finally find it, and learn that the journey can be just as spectacular as the “thing” they are yearning to find.

Has something been out of your reach and you wonder if you should keep trying? If so, read Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, because sometimes what seems out of reach is closer than you think. Perfect for story time readings and afternoon fun.

SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE. Text copyright © 2014 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jon Klassen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

Purchase Sam & Dave Dig a Hole at AmazonBook DepositoryCandlewick Press.

Learn more about Sam & Dave Dig a Hole HERE.
A Story-Hour Kit can be found HERE.
“Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen Make a Book” transcript found HERE.

Meet the author, Mac Barnett, at his website:  http://www.macbarnett.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jon Klassen, at his website:  http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/
Find more picture books at the Candlewick Press website:  http://www.candlewick.com/

AWARDS
Caldecott Medal Honor Book
E. B. White Read Aloud Award
Irma S and James H Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature
Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award
New York Times Best Seller
New York Times Notable Book
Washington Post Best Children’s Book of 2014
PBS Best Picture Book of 2014
Guardian Best Book of 2014
Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2014
Kirkus Best Book of 2014
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014
Globe & Mail 100 Best Books of 2014 Selection
Huffington Post Best Picture Book of 2014
BuzzFeed Best Picture Book of 2014
Association for Library Service to Children Notables Selection
Toronto Public Library First & Best Book of 2014
Reading Today Best Picture Book of 2014
Junior Library Guild Selection

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen, and received from Candlewick Press, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Caldecott Medal Honor Book 2014, Candlewick Press, diligence, Jon Klassen, joy-in-the-journey, Mac Barnett, persistance, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

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13. Children’s Picture Book Author Inspired by Humans Landing on the Moon

In Space Boy and his Dog, Niko and his crew (Tag, his dog, and Radar, his trusty robot copilot) search for a lost cat on the moon.

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14. Terminal, by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs | Book Review

The Morris Island gang is back in Terminal, the fifth and final full installment of Kathy and Brendan Reichs’ NY Times Bestselling Virals series.

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15. #719 – Monster & Me #5: Monster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak & Wendy Grieb

Yesterday was “National Friendship Day.” To all my cyber-friends and fantastic readers, I am thrilled to know you! I also have a new friend in my life. Her name is Molly, she’s eight-years-old, and her four paws follow me everywhere. (The kitties are adjusting fine to a dog that pays them no mind—except for the occasional nose-to-nose greeting.)

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Welcome to the “Monster Needs Your Vote” Campaign Tour!

Plus, I have wonderful character-friends in Boy and Monster who—with Paul Czajak and Wendy Grieb—have a new picture book in their award-winning Monster & Me series. This new, relevant picture book is entitled Monster Needs Your Vote. So forget about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and . . . 

VOTE FOR MONSTER!

#5 needs your vote
Monster & Me #5: Monster Needs Your Vote

Written by Paul Czajak
Illustrated by Wendy Grieb
Mighty Media Kids         8/25/2015
978-1-938063-63-3
32 pages         Age 2—6 +

“Today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders. Election season is finally here, and Monster can’t wait to run for president. But getting voters to care about his campaign is harder than it looks—until he finds a monstrous cause worth fighting for. Show your kids that whether you’re blue, red, or 9 feet tall and furry, real change can come from the most unexpected places (even if you’re not technically qualified to run for office).” [publisher website]

Review
The Monster & Me series has been one of my favorites since Monster needs a [Halloween] Costume. Always fresh, humorous, and on point, Monster & Boy give children young and old enjoyable stories for anytime of the day, not simply at bedtime. But, if you enjoy giggles, smiles, and sweet Monster dreams, each of the Monster & Me books are perfect for a bedtime reading—night, after night, after night . . .(how many editions are there?)

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Monster Needs Your Vote, the 5th Monster & Me picture book, is a timely story given the beginning of the presidential nominations and soon the 2016 election. Monster runs into a few Presidential candidates while at the fair. He decides he must vote in this election. Boy nicely tells Monster he is not old enough to vote—he’s not yet eighteen! Undeterred, Monster decides if he cannot vote he will participate in the election by running for President of the United States. Boy, Monster’s constant companion, tells Monster he needs a “platform.” (One of many larger-election terms that will have children learning new words.) Monster’s platform is one kids will love and understand but, voting adults just do not comprehend the importance of Monster’s platform—or his next.

Monster’s second platform, a black and white illustration, with period clothes, will remind most adults of the 1930s and a famous election quote. Only when Monster sees a closed sign does he find the issue/platform with the potential to propel Monster to Mr. President Monster. The other Presidential contenders begin to look discouraged, until . . . dear Monster receives horrible news from two dull-looking men—government types. In the end, Monster wins . . . just not the Presidency.

It is clear to me that Monster makes the perfect candidate, given his persistence, comic antics, and Boy’s unwavering support. Like most candidates, Monster runs into a few problems along the way. With each problem, Monster rallies back stronger and more determined. He learns to take a stand for things he believes in, despite all those set-backs. With Boy’s campaign advice and encouragement, Monster finds the courage he needs to persist. Monster is infectious on the campaign trail and is adorable in his organic presidential blue suit.

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Wendy Grieb’s illustrations have remained consistent between books, helping to endear the Monster & Me brand. Her palette is bright when needed, like the stunningly red full-page background that makes Monster and Boy POP! I enjoyed all the wonderful details on each spread. Boy is not the only kid to have a Monster pal. One young girl rides upon an ostrich-like bird with Big Bird-ish legs; an oval, purple body with green feathers; a giraffe-like neck; and a prehistoric-like pelican head. I love this highly imaginative monster, along with all the other new, maybe-old-enough-to-vote monsters that stand among the adults. Sadly, a few monsters are kidless, so I hope there is a matching service for kids and monsters somewhere on the Internet.

Paul Czajak’s newest Monster & Me picture book is perfect for the upcoming elections. Though written for preschool children older kids will enjoy Monster’s political career while learning the basics of U. S. Elections. This means Czajak often used an election-related higher vocabulary: cast, platform, issues, oratory, grassroots, and mission to name a few. Grab a dictionary kids—one you must flip through to find a word—it’s time to expand your vocabulary. Which brings me to what is probably the first negative thing I have ever said about this humorous and often educational Monster & Me series. Given the number of election and campaign words Czajak so deftly included in his story, a glossary would have been a welcome addition.

new no 3

Monster Needs Your Vote is written in rhyme with the sing-song quality I love. Parents won’t mind multiple reads thanks to Czajak’s strong voice, and the words and verses which leave your lips like a perfect melody. Grieb’s art captivates readers’ and their young listeners. Her humor is infectious. Czajak and Grieb are the perfect collaborators for Monster & Me. I hope the pair continue telling Boy and Monster’s story. Is there another Monster political caper coming soon?

“And  Monster’s roar in politics had only just begun.”

Monster Needs Your Vote meets Common Core and many state curriculum standards. Teachers, parents, and librarians can download a free Monster & Me Series Educator’s Guide and Event Kit. Monster Needs Your Vote is appropriately dedicated to “all the librarians in the world.”

REMEMBER: VOTE FOR MONSTER—IT’S YOUR KIDLIT DUTY! 

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MONSTER NEEDS YOUR VOTE (Monster & Me #5). Text copyright © 2015 by Paul Czajak. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Wendy Grieb. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mighty Media Kids, Minneapolis, MN.

Purchase Monster Needs Your Vote at AmazonBook DepositoryIndieBound BooksMighty Media Kids.

Learn more about Monster Needs Your Vote HERE.
Schedule a Skype in the Classroom Campaign Stop with Paul Czajak HERE.
Find Monster’s Campaign Kit HERE.  (contains the reviewer’s apology, um, a glossary of election terms)
Download Coloring Pages HERE.

Check out what Monster dreams about HERE.  (short animated story)

Visit Boy & Monster’s Twitter Page:  https://twitter.com/MonsterandBoy

Meet the author, Paul Czajak, at his website:  http://paulczajak.com/
Meet the illustrator, Wendy Grieb, at her twitter page: https://twitter.com/boodlewink 
Find more Monster & Me books at the Mighty Media Kids website:  http://blog.mightymediapress.com/

Mighty Media Kids is an imprint of Mighty Media Press.

AWARDS for the Monster & Me series
A Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient—2011
A Mom’s Choice Awards® Gold Recipient—2013
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Monster & Me series
#1: Monster Needs a Costume (review HERE)
#2: Monster Needs His Sleep (review HERE)
#3: Monster Needs a Christmas Tree (reviewed soon)
#4: Monster Needs a Party (Unfortunately, I missed this edition—”AW!”)
#5: Monster Needs Your Vote (Well, go to the top and read again!)

#1 - needs a costume

#2 needs his sleep

#3 - needs a christmas tree#4 - needs a party

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Also by Paul Czajak
Seaver the Weaver (illustrated by the Brothers Hilts)

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Full Disclosure: Monster Needs Your Vote (Monster & Me #5), by Paul Czajak & Wendy Grieb, and received from Mighty Media Kids, (an imprint of Mighty Media Press), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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The Preceding Review was an Unpaid Announcement from KLR. — Boy, Campaign Manager


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: campaigning, civics, humor, Mighty Media Kids, monster, Monster & Me, Monster Needs Your Vote, Paul Czajak, politics, United States Presidential elections, voting, Wendy Grieb

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16. #688 – The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham & Pétur Antonsson

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The Luck Uglies

Written by Paul Durham
Illustrated by Pétur Antonsson
HarperCollins Children’s Books      4/29/2014
978-0-06-227150-1
390 pages                    Age 8—13
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“Rye O’Chanter has seen a lot of strange things happen in Village Drowning: children are chased through the streets. Families are fined for breaking laws that don’t even exist. Girls aren’t allowed to read anymore, and certain books—books that hold secrets about Drowning’s past—have been outlawed altogether.

“Now a terrifying encounter has eleven-year-old Rye convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. Before the monsters disappeared, there was only one way to defeat them—the Luck Uglies. But the Luck Uglies have long since been exiled, and there’s nobody left who can protect the village.

“As Rye dives into Downing’s treacherous maze of streets, rules, and lies, she begins to question everything she’s been told about the village’s legend of outlaws and beasts . . . and what she’ll discover is that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.” [book jacket]

Review
The protagonist—in a story filled with creative, well-developed, essential characters—is eleven-year-old Rye O’Chanter. Rye and younger sister, Lottie, live with their mother, Abby, and Nightshade Fur Bottom O’Chanter (nickname: Shady), the family pet, on Mud Puddle Lane. Muddle Puddle Lane runs close to the salty Bog, which lies near Beyond the Shale (a forest few would dare enter). Rye’s best friend, Quinn Quartermast, and his widowed, blacksmith father, also live on Mud Puddle Lane.

PT2 7 MAP BASED ON AUTHORS CONCEPT WALL

At the opposite edge of town, again beyond the protective village walls, is the River Drowning and, on its coast, The Shambles, an area so lawless, corrupt, and dangerous that even the Earl, his soldiers, and his constable (Boil “the enforcer”), are afraid of its inhabitants and frequently inebriated guests. Rye’s other best friend, Folly Flood, lives here, in The Dead Fish Inn, with her parents and nine older brothers (the toughest men/boys in Village Drowning—toughest of the tough being the conjoined twins).

Now here’s an oxymoron to make this story exciting and relatable. These three kids are good kids.

They listen to their parents—except when they sneak out, use Abby O’Chanter’s (no longer) secret room, or travel by rooftop.

Each obeys the Laws of Longchance—except when running from soldiers, Quinn teaches Rye how to read, or, together, they read a precious (and stolen), banned book.

And, the kids stay put, when told not to stray—so many examples.

Rye O'Chanter

Rye O’Chanter

Last week I mentioned that there was one more middle grade novel that was a WOW! The Luck Uglies is that wow novel. The story cannot be put down. It’s as if the pages turn on their own, keeping you captive, though a willing captive. Rye, Folly, and Quinn are a terrific threesome. They are smart. They are heroes. They are flawed. Rye’s father, Harmless, plays a major role in the magical-action-adventure story, (he is High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies), but not without Rye close by. Rye has her friends, no matter the danger. The Luck Uglies is one of those rare books whose story and characters stick with you long after the back cover closes.

I love the names of people and places. Each—possibly only in my mind—is somehow appropriate. The Village Drowning is always drowning in the Laws of Longchance, fearful of a Bog Noblin or Luck Ugly return, or literally in the River Drowning.  Earl Longchance has a long chance in deed of ever coming out of this story smelling like a rose.

The O’Chanter family live by a code called House Rules.
003_Shady -- make sure they are credited to Pétur Antonson.

House Rule #2:
“He may run and he may hide, but Shady must never go outside.”

This refers to Shady, the family pet. It was imperative that Shady not go outside unless with someone. Why? You will love the answer.

This refers to Shady, the family pet. It was imperative that Shady not go outside unless with someone. Why?   You will love the answer. Another animal, a monkey named Shortstraw, is in the habit of reaching for what it wants. Shortstraw wants Mona Monster,  Lottie’s pink hobgoblin doll. Lottie and Mona are inseparable, so when Shortstick makes a move for Mona, Lottie is right there ready to save her.  Swearing occurs on occasion, especially from the smallest mouth in the house. Little Lottie breaks up the intense action with her comedic action words—nothing for parents to fret.
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The biggest problem in Village Drowning is Earl Morningwig Longchance. When his father was still alive and ruling, monsters called Bog Noblins were terrifying the village and the village soldiers could not defeat them. The father made a pact—in blood—with the only group capable of defeating the Bog Noblins. This group, a secret society many called criminals, villains, and outlaws (mainly because they were) defeated the Bog Noblins, but not before the father died, passing his authority on to his son, Morningwig. Not a single Bog Noblin has been seen or has terrorized Village Drowning since, yet Earl Morningwig Longchance promptly ignored the blood pact, branded the group outlaws, and banished them from Village Drowning. That group is the infamous Luck Uglies, now disbanded throughout the shale and beyond.

The narcissistic Earl also decreed the Laws of Longchance—keeping villagers poor and the Earl rich. He is an oppressive ruler (women and girls may not learn to read or write, among other things), and the father of one spoilt daughter and one blind, banished, son. Truth be told, Earl Longchance is nothing more than a bully who remains in the safety of Constable Boil’s shadow.

The gigantic, hairy monster Bog Noblins were said to eat inattentive villagers, especially the delicious children, and then make necklaces strung with the feet of their feast. The villagers, believe Bog Noblins are now extinct—are they?—and nothing more than a joke to the secure villagers.

“What has bad breath, one eye, and likes to eat children?
“A Bog Noblin with a stick in its eye.” 

Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Pétur Antonsson.

Can you guess what happens next? Yep, a malnourished baby Bog Noblin (Leatherleaf), returns to the village. Rye encounters it first, but escapes unharmed. She also finally meets her father, Harmless, the High . . . the once High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies. Earl Longchance puts the entire village in extreme danger when he captures Leatherneck, to pretentiously show-off his ability to protect the people. When Leatherleaf’s family—three, larger than Leatherleaf, Bog Noblins, with attitudes—demand their kin be returned, Longchance refuses. What happens next is much too exciting to explain. My fingers could not type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

The Luck Uglies is about family and community working together. The line between right and wrong blurs, which might concern parents, but this mirrors real life. No one is all good or all bad. I loved all the intense action, the unexpected surprises, the exciting twists I didn’t see coming, and the end that never completely arrives.

Durham is an awesome writer who knows how to spin an intriguing tale with intelligent humor and characters so believable the reader will immediately relate to them. The world he has built is at once believable and fantastical. Is there anything to complain about The Luck Uglies? I have not found anything. Maybe in Book #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers, but I am not expecting anything to ruin this delicious, not-to-be missed trilogy.

I did mention that The Luck Uglies is a series? Thank your lucky stars. The Luck Uglies series is the one, and only series* that kids who enjoy action and adventure, monsters and mayhem, plus a little bit of magic, should devour this year and every year, until the trilogy unfortunately ends.

THE LUCK UGLIES. Text copyright © 2014 by Paul Durham. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Pétur Antonsson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase The Luck Uglies at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHarperCollins C. B.

Learn more about The Luck Uglies HERE.
Meet the author, Paul Durham, at his website:  http://pauldurhambooks.tumblr.com/

Cybils Interview with author Paul Durham click HERE.

Meet the illustrator, Pétur Antonsson, at his website:  http://paacart.tumblr.com/
Author Paul Durham Interviews Pétur Antonsson click PART#1   PART#2    PART#3

Find more middle grade novels at te HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

*The Guardian Herd Series by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

AWARDS
Booklist’s Top 10 First Novels for Youth for 2014

BOOK #2

The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers

The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers

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Review word count = 950 (Oops! Honest, I did cut . . . and cut . . .)

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. 

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Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: action-adventure-fantasy, debut, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publisher, humorous, magical, Paul Durham, Pétur Antonsson, The Luck Uglies, The Village Drowning, trilogy hard to beat. Forked-Tongued Charmers

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17. #690 – Fork-Tongue Charmers (Luck Uglies #2) by Paul Durham

CBW-email-childrens_2015

 

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Fork-Tongue Charmers

Series: The Luck Uglies (#2)
Written by Paul Durhamtop book of 2015 general
Illustrated by Pétur Antonsson
HarperCollins Children’s Books             3/17/2015
978-0-06-227153-2
416 pages                     Age 9—14
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“It’s not easy being the daughter of the High Chieftain of the Luck Uglies. Now an insidious new lawman in Drowning has declared Rye an outlaw from her own village, and she’s been exiled to the strange and remote Isle of Pest. But the island quickly feels much less remote when the battle to control the future of the Luck Uglies moves to its shores. To defeat the Luck Uglies’ bitterest rivals, Rye must defy a deranged earl, survive a test meant to judge the grit of the fiercest of men—and uncover some long-buried family secrets. And when Rye leads the charge to defend t island, she and her friends will meet an eerily familiar enemy . . . “ [book jacket]

Review
In The Luck Uglies, Rye O’Chanter came to realize her family had been lying to her all her life. Nothing has changed. Rye learns there are many more family secrets. Rye also learned in The Luck Uglies that those she lives with, and around, are not who they appear to be. This, too, continues as new people enter Rye’s life. And the classic theme of good versus evil continues with a slight variation. This time, it’s good versus evil and evil versus evil, making the lines blurrier than ever.

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The Luck Uglies

 

At the start of Fork-Tongue Charmers, Rye and her friends are anxiously awaiting Silvermas, and anticipating shoes overflowing with candy. On the eve of Silvermas, three strange, masked men knock on the O’Chanter door with a message: Harmless wants Rye to join him posthaste. Soon, the magical Silvermas Mud Sleigh arrives for Rye, but something is amiss. Meanwhile, Earl Longchance hires a new constable, Valant, who has a violent, vindictive reputation and fears no one. He immediately implements new rules and laws. Villagers who seemingly violate Valant’s strict and often unfair laws receive public humiliation and severe punishment at the Shaming Pole. Abby and Lottie move out of their home (and into the notorious Dead Fish Inn), after Valant burns down the Willow’s Wares. Once the Mud Sleigh is ravaged on Silvermas—with Rye aboard—Valant posts a new decree.

“PROCLAMATION
OF EARL MORNINGWIG LONGCHANCE!
Generous Rewards Offered for the Capture of
Abigail O’Chanter and her Two Offspring!
Wanted for Crimes Against the Shale!”

valant harper 3

Constable Valant

Once more, the relatively peaceful lives of Abby, Rye, and Lottie O’Chanter are disrupted as they, Folly, and Quinn are thrust into situations few could survive. Sent to the Isle of Pest—Abby’s childhood home—via the Slumgullion, a rickety pirating vessel navigated by an over-the-top Captain Dent, calm returns but questions continue. Refusing to cease when so close to victory, Earl Longchance follows the Slumgullion to Pest, and wages a surprise war against a group of peaceful people.

Where is Harmless? How far will Valant and Earl Longchance push the people of Drowning? What new secrets will Rye uncover? Will she ever get off the small Isle of Grit? OH, I’ve forgotten one important thing, who are the Fork-Tongue Charmers? These men are easy to identify, if they will open their mouths. They have willingly split their tongues like a snake. Slinister, the group’s aptly named leader, seeks revenge against Harmless, having no qualms about using a child in his scheme. One last piece of vital information; these Fork-Tongue Charmers are Luck Uglies.

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

Durham’s second novel will lull you on a nice countryside filled with sheep and eccentric personalities. He gets you all snug and cozy then, just as you are enjoying the oddness, BAM, the worlds of Drowning and Pest collide, tossing you like the sea back into an adventurous fantasy only Durham could handle with such precision. The Fork-Tongue Charmers are not so charming, but Dunham’s story will keep you glued, wondering whom these men really are and what Slinister really wants. He (Slinister), abandons Rye, alone, on the Isle of Grit, in the open sea, doomed. The final chapter gripped me tight as I waited for the impossible to occur. But can all end well that starts badly?

Dunham’s writing has improved. Pushing the envelope in children’s literature while taking kids—and adults—into an unforgiving medieval world, where princes dress like commoners and heroes are villains, each book of The Luck Uglies series amazingly can stand on its own. Fork-Tongue Charmers belts readers into the first car of a roller-coaster ride with intriguing, often eccentric, characters with unlikely stories belted in behind them. The lure of impressive and imaginative writing made me a loyal fan who believes in Dunham’s brilliant creativity. If his writing continues to improve, as I suspect it will, book 3 (as yet un-named), will shoot readers into the stratosphere of kidlit, glad to remain there as long as Dunham will have us.

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

FORK-TONGUE CHARMERS (LUCK UGLIES, BOOK #2). Text copyright © 2015 by Paul Durham. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Pétur Antonsson. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase Fork-Tongue Charmers at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHarperCollins C. B.

Learn more about Fork-Tongue Charmers HERE.
Meet the author, Paul Durham, at his website:  http://www.pauldurhambooks.com/
Meet the illustrator, Pétur Antonsson, at his website:  http://paacart.tumblr.com/
Find more middle grade novels at the HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Review word count = 661

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews.

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Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: action-adventure, eccentric characters, fantasy, Fork-Tongue Charmers, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Luck Uglies #2, magic, Paul Dunham, Pétur Antonsson, spell-binding

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18. Screaming at the Ump, by Audrey Vernick | Book Review

Screaming at the Ump will appeal to both boys and girls who are interested in sports (especially baseball), and journalism, coping with the transition to middle school, or dealing with family conflicts.

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19. #691 – FRED by Kaila Eunhye Seo and TWO–2–GIVEAWAYS!

CBW-email-childrens_2015

 

Welcome to TGIF

Thank Goodness It’s FRED!
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FRED

Written by Kaila Eunhye Seotop book of 2015 general
Illustrated by Kaila Eunhye Seo
Peter Pauper Press          5/01/20`15
978-1-4413-1731-5
40 pages                Age 4—8
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“Fred’s world is filled with fantastical friends that make
his days so much fun he hardly notices that no one else can see them. But one day Fred goes off to school, and things start to change. As Fred grows up, his childhood friends slowly fade away and seem to disappear, taking some of life’s sparkle with them. But a chance meeting with a special young girl reminds Fred—and readers young and old alike—that magic and wonder never really disappear . . . they live forever in our hearts.” [book jacket]

Review
Fred’s imaginary friends have the people in his small town thinking he is different—a polite way of saying the boy is odd. Fred has the ability to see and hear things other people cannot. Fred also believes in things the other townsfolk either cannot, or simply will not, believe. Despite the townsfolk’s’ inability to see, hear, or care about Fred’s creatures, the creatures cared about the townsfolk.

“Sometimes they acted like the wind and moved branches out of the way for people.
And sometimes they acted like shade and kept people cool on hot summer days”

What is Fred seeing and hearing that make the others consider the young boy an oddity? Fred sees creatures . . . imaginary creatures . . . imaginary friends. He never cares about making other friends—he already has the best friends a young boy could hope to have.

PPP - Fredstreet

When the day arrives for Fred to begin school, he makes new friends . . . real, alive friends. His imaginary friends wait, no longer part of Fred’s day. One day becomes two, then three, and each school year blends into the next. One-by-one the creatures Fred adored disappear, losing their color, and fading into the background.  By the time he reaches adulthood, all the imaginary creatures are lost from Fred’s memory.

The real world takes too much of Fred’s attention and time. Fred’s days run together as he does the same things day after day. This monotony leaves Fred feeling empty, friendless, and all alone, even in the park where he played so joyfully with . . . with . . . he doesn’t remember with whom he played with, or even what his playmates look liked. Where did his childhood friends go?

looking in on school

FRED will have you wondering when your imaginary friends left you. When these old friends leave, they take with them a very precious commodity: your imagination. Can you imagine doing anything other than your daily routine? Not just a dream vacation, but something that will cheer you up, daily make you implausibly happy, and has the synapses on the right-side of your brain sizzling with ideas, as they jump from neuron to neuron. Neither can Fred, poor guy. Then he gets lucky. A small child comes to the park while Fred sits reading—always a delightful detail in a children’s book. The young girl, with a pocket full of lollipops, asks Fred if he and his friends would like a lollipop. His friends anxiously watch Fred, who says,

“Excuse me?”

Someone can see his friends. They are all still with him. A synapse POPS! Another SIZZLES! Fred’s heart no longer feels weighed down, and instead, he feels free. Fred’s imaginary friends—and his imagination—return. Adult Fred finally realizes he . . . wait, I cannot tell you what Fred realized. Fred would like to tell you himself. This is his story. FRED surprised me, in a very wonderful way. Imagination, and the magical journeys it can create, is not the sole domain of childhood, but we tell ourselves there is no time for such “silliness,” yet without retaining our child-like selves, we lose much of our creativity.

PPP- Fredpark

I love Ms. Seo’s direct lines in the pen and ink illustrations. Each spread overflows with artistic detail and the color remains only with the story and its characters. I think Ms. Seo’s attention to detail and using color to focus readers’ eyes on the story shows she cares about making a terrific sensory experience for children. The monsters are hilarious and kid-friendly. Not one creature will cause nightmares, as none is even a wee-bit scary. They walk among the unsuspecting—and unbelieving—in town without any commotion. I do wonder how the non-believers (who possess little to no imagination), would think if they saw what Fred could see. The story and all the eye-catching illustrations are a definite sign that this debut author/illustrator has not lost her childhood imagination, inspiration, or her imaginary friends.

FRED. Text copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Kaila Eunhye Seo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peter Pauper Press, White Plains, NY.

Purchase FRED at AmazonBook DepositoryPeter Pauper Press.

Learn more about FRED HERE.

TEACHERS:  Common Core Teaching Guide for FRED.

Meet the author/illustrator, Kaila Eunhye Seo, at her website:  http://www.eunhyeseo.com/
Find more picture books at the Peter Pauper Press website:  http://www.peterpauper.com/

**NOTE: Through the month of May, 20% off at Peter Pauper Press. Use Code: MAY 20

Review Section: word count = 663

Huntington Press Best Picture Books 2015

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

FRED  FTC   correct box

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MEGA FRED FRIDAY GIVEAWAY from May 1st – May 29th
Set of all TEN of our Critically Acclaimed Picture Books

For a Chance to WIN Click the Rafflecopter Link Below

PPP- FredCover

Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo

An EARLY COPY of

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby,

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby

elephantastic

Elephantastic by Michael Engler

THE ZOO IS CLOSED TODAY!

The Zoo Is Closed Today! by Evelyn Beilenson

SIMPSON'S SHEEP WON'T GO TO SLEEP!

Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep! by Bruce Arant

HANK FINDS AN EGG

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

HANK HAS A DREAM

Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley

CELIA

Celia by Cristelle Vallat

Not the Quitting Kind

Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth

DIGBY DIFFERS

Digby Differs by Miriam Koch!

For a Chance to WIN Click the Rafflecopter Link Below

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Kid Lit Reviews is giving away ONE copy of FRED 

To ENTER Just Leave a COMMENT Below


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: adult picture books, creativity, FRED, FRED by Kaila Eunhye Seo, friendship, imaginary friends, imagination, Kaila Eunhye Seo, loneliness, losing child-like qualities, Peter Pauper Press

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20. #692 – Building the Golden Gate Bridge: an Interactive Engineering Adventure by Blake Hoena

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Building the Golden Gate Bridge: An Interactive Engineering Adventure

Series: You Choose Books:  Engineering Marvels
Written by Blake Hoena
Capstone Young Readers 2015
978-1-4914-0403-4
112 pages            Age 8—12
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‘People living in San Francisco during the 1920s and 1930s are fascinated by the project to build the Golden Gate Bridge—the world’s longest suspension bridge yet. Will you [1] Be a designer of the bridge, working to solve the many challenges created by such an enormous project [or 2]Work as a crew member, accepting the dangers of laboring hundreds of feet in the air above the cold, swirling currents pf the San Francisco Bay? Everything in this book happened to real people. And YOU CHOOSE what to do next. The choices you make either lead you and the project to success—or to failure.” [back cover]

Review
I really like these interactive books that let you decide what happens in the story. Every possibility is true and happened to someone during the planning and building of the Golden Gate Bridge. You can be engineer, John Strauss, who designs the bridge and must decide which of three design choices available in 1919 will work best: a cantilever bridge, a suspension bridge, or a cantilever-suspension  hybrid bridge made up of parts of the former two types (pictures and description of each included); or a construction laborer (a catcher or a skywalker).

Building the Golden Gate Bridge

I began with the engineer route . . . and failed. I fared better as a laborer, first as a catcher. I catch hot rivets (heated to 1900 degrees Fahrenheit), flung to me from above, which I catch in a funnel shaped cup and hand, using tongs, to the next guy, who uses it to connect two beams. Missing even one red-hot rivet can be catastrophic. Someone could get hurt, especially someone—or thing—in the water below. Objects also tend to fall from men working higher up, mainly due to wind gusts knocking tin cups out of hands and safety helmets off heads. Looking up to see what is falling your way can get you badly hurt, if not killed. I looked up, ending my short career. Safety measures, the few used, are an interesting part of the story.

Building the Golden Gate Bridge2

Finally, I tried my hand at the last job option: a skywalker spinning cables. Standing 756 feet up at the top of the bridge, men—sorry, no women—skywalkers wait for three wheels, carrying coils of wire, to race down a guide rope. Once the wheels pass, they grab the strands of wire, gather, tighten, and keep them from twisting around one another. The supporting cables on the Golden Gate Bridge are made of hundreds of thousands of wires. The job is dangerous thanks to the heavy fog that occurs so often in the Bay area. A cowbell hung from each wheel so the wheels could be heard when the fog was thick.

Building the Golden Gate Bridge3

What is cool about the You Choose Books is the amount of history readers will learn, often without realizing they are learning. Based on true stories from the building the Golden Gate Bridge, what you will face on each path actually happened to someone. While trying to make decisions to build the bridge, stay employed, and alive, history becomes part of your story. You need to understand some part of the Golden Gate Bridge’s beginning—its history—to make your choices.

I never could get excited about something that happened years before I was born—or even yesterday’s news. I knew nothing about building the Golden Gate Bridge it was just always there. Now, I know part of the history and so will kids who read these interesting stories. For this reason, the You Choose Books series are perfect as adjunct texts for teachers. And perfect for boys, who will love the action and the ability to wipe themselves off and try another path. Girls will, too, but if there is a book made for the minds of boys, the You Choose Books are those books.

© bernard-gagnon-own-work-gfdl

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The Building of the Golden Gate Bridge has 2 story paths (engineer or laborer), 33 choices, and 9 possible story endings, as do all of the You Choose Books. There is also a Timeline beginning in 1872 when Charles Crooker proposed building a bridge over Golden Gate (and 61 before actual construction on the bridge began). After reading and rereading each path and its nine different endings, it is all but impossible not to know something about the history of The Building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

BUILDING THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE: AN INTERACTIVE ENGINEERING ADVENTURE (YOU CHOOSE BOOKS: ENGINEERING MARVELS). Text copyright © 2015 by Blake Hoena. Images copyright from various sources, as noted. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Children’s Books, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Building the Golden Gate Bridge at AmazonBook DepositoryCapstonePub.

Learn more about Building the Golden Gate Bridge HERE.
Meet the author, Blake Hoena, at his website:  http://bahoena.com/
Find more picture books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/
.    .     .    .Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone

YOU CHOOSE BOOKS: ENGINEERING MARVELS

Building the Empire State Building: An Interactive Engineering Adventure by Allison Lassieur

Building the Empire State Building by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Section: word count = 614

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

building the golden gate bridge you choose book series 2015


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, You Choose Series Tagged: Blake Hoena, bridges, Building the Golden Gate Bridge: an Interactive Engineering Adventure, Capstone Young Readers, design and construction, Golden Gate Bridge, history, San Francisco Bay Area, You Choose Books, You Choose Books: Engineering Marvels

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21. # 694 – Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco by Julie Anne Grasso

Ebook cover Lemon Festival Fiasco final 14 March 2015 Hi Res.
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Frankie Dupont And The Lemon Festival Fiasco

Series:  The Frankie Dupont Mysteries
Written by Julie Anne Grasso
Illustrated by Alexander Avellino
Published by Julie Anne Grasso           3/302015
978-0-9873725-8-1
158 pages                 Age 8—12
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“Hot off cracking his first official case Frankie Dupont is on the scene when his new teacher takes ill. The pint-sized detective suspects a classic case of sour grapes, but the evidence leads him to the one placed he wouldn’t mind avoiding for the rest of his natural life. Enderby Manor has a few more secrets up her sleeve, and as Frankie begins to unravel them, he discovers a plot stinkier than a sardine sandwich. In Book 2 of the Frankie Dupont Mysteries, Frankie will make some new friends, upset some old ones, and of course, there will be lemon meringue pie.” [back cover]

Review (491)
It is the start of a new school year for Frankie and his friend Kat. Middle school is a now a combination of two grades in one classroom. Worse, the Appleby triplets—Angus, Archie, and Amy—are in his class and they annoy Frankie like an itch you can’t reach. Day one is short for the head teacher. His assistant, Miss Chestnut, made him a lemon meringue pie and, after one bite, he abruptly leaves for medical help. Frankie swiftly learns one of the pie ingredients is an organic weed killer. This one clue will take Frankie from confronting Miss Chestnut—bad idea—to accusing Merideth De Carlo, the daughter of Evelyn—of Evelyn’s Everlasting Cupcakes—and finally to Enderby Manor and Madame Mercure, a strange woman bent on taking over the hotel.

sick teacher

I enjoy the Frankie Dupont series because of the strange, yet plausible cases and the interesting clues. I love the fully fleshed crazy characters and their well-written stories with unexpected twists. The Lemon Festival Fiasco did not disappoint, though Frankie could be annoying. Unlike the first story, The Mystery of Enderby Manor, where Frankie was eager to show he could solve the case better and faster than Inspector Cluesome, one year later Frankie is arrogant, pushy, and most often wrong. It seems being the only ten-and-three-quarters-year-old to pass the private investigator’s test has gone to his head.

I do like the new character, nine-year-old Amy Appleby, one of the “annoying triplets.” She stays close to Frankie, which irritates the clues right out of him. Frankie does not like that she is smart, possibly smarter than him. It is clear early on that Amy is not trying to outsmart Frankie; she just wants to be close, like any nine-year-old girl with a crush on an older boy. Frankie never picks up on this. Hopefully, that crush will play out in the next edition.

you did it wrong again

The illustrations were done by a new illustrator and are quite good. Personally, I think Frankie looks too old for a 10 ¾ year-old boy and not as cute this time around. I imagine it is difficult to match the work of another illustrator. The Lemon Festival Fiasco can stand on its own, still I recommend reading book 1 first. There is information about the Enderby Manor characters that will help readers understand why Frankie dislikes the manor. Those characters are still a group of, mostly, likable oddballs.

The Mystery of Enderby Manor is an extremely well written mystery with strange, unexpected twists, and thus a difficult case to outshine. The Lemon Festival Fiasco, while a good mystery—that will entertain readers—readers will decipher this lemony mystery much sooner than Frankie. Reluctant readers will like the fast read and may stick with the story because they can solve this case faster than Frankie. Ms. Grasso is a gifted writer who improves with each new story. Her Caramel Cardamom series is a success, as will The Frankie Dupont Mysteries.

ay nd frankie laying in the grass with kat looking on
NEXT UP:  Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage
FRANKIE DUPONT AND THE LEMON FESTIVAL FIASCO. Text copyright © 2015 by Julie Anne Grasso. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Alexander Avellino. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Julie Anne Grasso.

Purchase Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco at AmazonBook DepositoryJulie Anne Grasso Books.

Learn more about Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco HERE.
Educational Activity Booklet HERE
Meet the author, Julie Anne Grasso, at her website: http://www.julieannegrassobooks.com
Meet the illustrator, Alexander Avellino, at his website: http://www.alexanderavellino.com

Also by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Return To Cardamom

Return To Cardamom

Stellarcadia

Stellarcadia

 

 

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Review Section: word count = 491

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

frnkie dupont 2 lemon festival fiasco


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Alexander Avellino, Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco, humor, Julie Anne Grasso, lemons, middle school kids, mysteries, relationships, sleuths, The Frankie Dupont Mysteries

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22. #695 – Waggers by Stacy Nyikos & Tamara Anegόn

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Waggers

Written by Stacy Nyikos
Illustrated by Tamara Anegόn
Publisher: Sky Pony Press      12/02/2014
978-1-62914-629-4
32 pages                  Age 4—8
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“WAGGERS TRIED TO BE GOOD.
HE TRIED REALLY HARD.
BUT HIS TAIL GOT IN THE WAY!

“Waggers is so happy to be adopted by his new family and all he wants is to be good—he really does! But it isn’t Waggers fault that his tail goes crazy when he gets exited. How much harm can a tail do, anyway? Well, his new family is about to find out. In the kitchen, Moni’s cookies smell so good that Waggers’s tail makes the dough hit the ceiling. And when Waggers helps Michael defeat a monster in the living room, there may be a sofa casualty. After his tail accidentally scratches the paint off the car in the garage, Mom and Dad aren’t so sure their home is the right fit for such an excitable pup. Could this be the last straw, or can Waggers and his family find a way to stay together?” [book jacket]

Review
If you like dogs, or stories about dogs, you’ll like Waggers. Waggers is available for adoption—free—from a litter of five puppies. It always makes me a little suspicious when purebreds are given away free. Waggers is a Razortail Whippet. This may sound like a legitimate breed, yet there is no such breed, but the name fits Waggers perfectly. It would be so much fun if there were. Mom and Dad wonder how much trouble a little pup like Waggers can cause. Their son tries to pick up Waggers and the pup gets so excited his tail twirls the other four puppies into the air.

adoptUnlike his littermates, Waggers has an exceptional tail. An exceptionally long tail. How long is an exceptional tail? Waggers’ four littermates have tails approximately six-times shorter than their bodies. Waggers’ tail is also approximately six-times . . . longer. So when Waggers wags his tail it acts like a whip, mowing down everything in its extensive path. If Waggers were a superhero, his special powers would be inside his tail. It could upturn furniture, fling cookie dough into the air, and take paint right off a car. Oh, wait, Waggers DID do all those things.

Waggers, is a cute dog with a big head, long body, and constantly protruding tongue. He loves to show affection, which makes Waggers happy, and when he is happy Waggers gets excited, and when he gets excited Waggers’ tail starts twirling, and THAT is what gets Waggers into so much trouble. Picture a cat-hating dog determined to get a hissing, clawing, and course-changing feline out of the house. Waggers doesn’t need a cat to cause such a mess, just his tail.

monsster aleretwhoops monsterThe illustrations are by first-time children’s book illustrator and graduate student Tamar Anegόn. I find her art to be a feast for the eyes. She brings Waggers to life with the use of bright colors, expressive eyes, extensively patterned clothing, and lots and lots of details.

Mom and dad have had enough of Waggers’s tail-caused wreckage and decide he needs a new home. On Waggers’s last night the kids camp outside with their soon-to-be-gone dog. Waggers is overcome with an insatiable, interminable, and inaccessible itch. His tail begins to twirl and . . . there goes Mom’s bushes and Dad’s lawn. Waggers tries to be good. He really does try. Still, despite all his destruction, Waggers’s tail, in the end, might just be his salvation.

Waggers is a fun, humorous book young children will love at home or during a story hour at school or the library. Put a bunch of youngsters in one room, read Waggers, and then plug your ears. The laughter will be deafening.

campout

WAGGERS.Text copyright © 2014 by Stacy Nyikos. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Tamara Anegόn. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sky Pony Press , New York, NY.

Purchase Waggers at AmazonBook DepositorySky Pony Press.

Learn more about Waggers HERE.
Meet the author, Stacy Nyikos, at her website:  http://www.stacyanyikos.com/
Meet the illustrator, Tamara Anegόn, at her website:  http://lacajitadetamara.blogspot.com/
Find more picture books at the Sky Pony Press website:  http://www.skyponypress.com/book/

Sky Pony Press is an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Desi -  the Muse

Desi – the Muse

Desi as Waggers

Desi as Waggers

 

 

A Pretty Good Likeness?

 

 

Review Section: word count = 378

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

waggers


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: 978-1-62914-629-4, adoption, dog rescues, dogs, family, humor, relationships, Sky Pony Press, Stacy Nyikos, Tamara Anegόn, Waggers

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23. #697 – Kid Presidents: True tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler & Doogie Horner

KidPresidents_final_300dpiKid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents

Written by David Stabler*
Illustrated by Doogie Horner
Quirk Books    10/28/2014
978-1-59474-731-1
216 pages    Age 8—12
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EVERY PRESIDENT STARTED OUT AS A KID

“Forget the legends. Ignore the tall tales. The kids who grew up to be president weren’t superheroes. They had regular-kid problems just like you. John F. Kennedy hand hated his big brother. Lyndon Johnson pulled pranks in class. Barack Obama was bothered by bullies. And Bill Clinton was crazy clumsy (he once broke his leg jumping rope). Kid Presidents tells all of their stories and ore with full-color cartoon illustrations on every page. History has never been this much fun!” [book jacket]

Review
Kid Presidents tells the story of sixteen presidents including George Washington—who never chopped down a cherry tree—and Barack Obama—who received a gibbon ape as a gift. Every president had a childhood filled with the same things as kids today. They had friends, though one had none. Some had trouble in school or trouble at home, and at least one was an extremely angry young boy. Some were well-liked, good students, and helpful at home. Despite decades between them, “boys will be boys.”

Abe and his sister were forced to sleep on a floor covered with corncobs and straw.

“Abe and his sister were forced to sleep on a floor covered with corncobs and straw.”

Ulysses Grant, at age eight, made a bad barter for a horse. He told the seller the most he could pay ($25), and, of course, $25 became the seller’s asking price. Word spread fast and kids started calling Ulysses “Useless.” Ulysses did not barter as his father instructed him, but being called Useless was cruel, as kids often are. Teachers could be cruel, as Herbert Hoover found out on his report card comment section:

“A fat little boy, always reading.”

John F Kennedy’s teacher was not thrilled with him,

“Jack studies at the last minute,
keeps appointments late,
has little sense of material values,
and can seldom locate his possessions.”

Kennedy sure doesn’t sound like presidential material, but sure enough, he became president number 35. Kid Presidents will make you laugh more often than not, and when not laughing, you will be grinning. Our past presidents, and our current, had normal childhoods. They schemed and dreamed just like kids today. Some were poor, some rich, but most where in-between. These presidents, as boys, did dumb things, held odd jobs, and had weird nicknames. Here are a few:

Accident-prone:  Jimmy Carter shot his sister and Dwight Eisenhower stabbed his brother in the eye.

Clumsy:  Harry Truman broke his collarbone—while combing his hair and Rutherford B. Hayes fell into hot coals—while putting on his pants.

Pranks (or bad boys?):  Andrew Jackson moved outhouses, so the owner couldn’t find it, and John F. Kennedy stole people’s milk and then sold it back to them.

Nicknames:  Barack Obama was “the Little Duck,” Gerald Ford was “Junie,” and John F. Kennedy was “Rat Face.”

(There is more to each of the above, but those stories are for you to read.)

Barack Obama

Kid Presidents has a childhood tale for sixteen presidents, but there are snippets about many more, if not all. Kid Presidents makes for an entertaining, and often hilarious, read. Kids will love reading about the crazy stunts, fights, pranks, and physical problems these boys overcame and then went on to become an American president. If those boys could accomplish this, so can any boy—or girl—who reads this book. Even if becoming president is not their goal, reading Kid Presidents should help kids understand that childhood, good or bad, silly or sad, boring or brilliant, will have less affect on their future as adults than they may believe. “Permanent Records” don’t have the permanency as adults may tell you. If they did, Lyndon Johnson might not have served five years as president. Johnson was class clown, the cut-up who got into so much trouble, his father’s first words upon returning home often were,

“Well, what has Lyndon done today?”

The illustrations in Kid Presidents enhance each of the stories. The images of young boys-soon-to-be-presidents are also funny, often cartoonish, and always entertaining. A second edition of Kid Presidents, with stories covering those presidents missed in this edition, would be a nice follow-up. 

YOU as President!

YOU as President!

*real name is Robert Schnakenberg

KID PREIDENTS: TRUE TALES OF CHILDHOOS CROM AMERICA’S PRESIDENTS.Text copyright © 2014 by David Stabler. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Doogie Horner. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Quirk Books, Philadelphia, PA.

Purchase Kid Presidents at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesQuirk Books.

Learn more about Kid Presidents HERE.
Book’s website:  http://kidpresidents.com/
Meet the author, David Stabler, at his facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/davidkstabler
Meet the illustrator, Doogie Horner, at his twitter page:  https://twitter.com/DoogieHorner
Find more middle grade books at the Quirk Books website:  http://www.quirkbooks.com/

Read an excerpt  HERE.
Educator’s Guide  HERE.     
Quizzo Event Kit  HERE.
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 625

kid presidents


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: 978-1-59474-731-1, american presidents, childhood tales, David Stabler, Doogie Horner, Kid Presidents: True tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents, Quirk Books, Robert Schnakenberg

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24. How Do Award Judges Feel About the Books They Were Unable to Honor?

Best YA and Middle-Grade novels selected by Pete Hautman. His latest book is Eden West, the story of a boy growing up in an isolated doomsday cult in Montana.

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25. #698 – Jack and the Wild Life by Lisa Doan & Ivica Stevanovic

cover_Jack_and_the_Wildlife-330

#02 Jack and the Wild Life

Series: The Berenson Schemes
Written by Lisa Doan
Illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic
Darby Creek         9/01/2014
     144 pages    Age 9—12

“After a wild plan by his parents left Jack stranded in the Caribbean, the Berenson family decided to lay out some rules. Jack’s mom and dad agreed they wouldn’t take so many risks. Jack agreed he’d try to live life without worrying quite so much. Then Jack’s parents thought up another get-rich-quick scheme. Now the family’s driving around Kenya. An animal attack is about to send Jack up a tree—alone, with limited supplies. As Jack attempts to outsmart a ferocious honey badger and keep away from an angry elephant, he’ll have plenty of time to wonder if the Berenson Family Decision-Making Rules did enough to keep him out of trouble.” [book jacket]

Review
The Berenson family adults are constantly trying to find an easy way to make a fortune, conjuring up one odd scheme after another. Jack is the one that pays the price for these awful plans, while his parents wander through life unaware of most everything around them, including their missing son. This makes for many comical situations and gives the series its heart. This time, the Berensons fly to Africa, Jack in tow, because, as Dad tells Jack,

“Your mum and I have invented a brand-new kind of tourism . . . a surefire moneymaking opportunity.”

going to kenyaThey plan to build a tourist camp where people can live like a real Maasai tribe. Using mud, sticks, grass, and more mud, Jack’s parents plan to build the Maasai mud-huts tourists will gladly rent to experience tribal life (and a fence to keep out the lions). The best part of their plans, the two adults believe, is they need no money to build their attraction—Mother Nature supplies the materials. Jack is not thrilled. He finally had a “normal” life, a home, parents who held down real 9-to-5 jobs, and a new friend—Diana. Once summer began to fade into fall, Jack’s parents could no longer do that “grind.” But this time things will be different: Jack’s parents will plan ahead, not take any risks, and not lose Jack. Changing their ways proves more difficult than the parents thought, as things do not go as planned, risks are taken, and, well, Jack . . . he ends up in a tree.

Poor Jack, now he is in Africa, stuck up a tree, while his parents—yet to realize Jack flew out of the rented Jeep—are trying to find the guide for their new camp. Jack must protect himself from animals on the ground and the ones that can get past the fence he built around the tree. He sleeps in the tree, eats in the tree, and fears for his life—and the life of Mack, Diana’s stuffed monkey—in the tree. The last time his parents had a get-rich-quick scheme, Jack feared for his life on a deserted island. (#1 – Jack the Castaway reviewed here).

jack pageThe Berenson Schemes is a wonderful series, especially for kids that wish they could take control. With roles reversed, Jack acts more the parent, setting rules and following through. Meanwhile, Jack’s parents act more like spoiled, unruly children, who care about themselves first and Jack second. They do love their son, but cannot get it together as adults. In book #2, Jack and the Wild Life, the family has new decision-making rules in the hopes that Jack’s parents will be parents that are more responsible. As Jack makes a tree-bed out of duct tape and reads his Kenya guide, he thinks maybe the rules are not working as he had hoped they would.

I love the black and white illustrations. Stevanovic does a great a job of enhancing the story, giving readers a view into Jack’s situation and his emotions. I wish I had more images to show readers. The full-page illustrations are fantastic and have been in both books. By the end of the story, Jack’s parents may see the errors of their ways and promise Jack they will try harder to change . . . until the next edition, when they tire of being adults, devise a new scheme, and hook Jack into their plans. The Berenson Schemes #2: Jack and the Wild Life is great fun and I look forward to each new scheme and Jack’s consequences for merely being his parents’ child. Kids will love the mayhem Doan creates and the magic in Stevanovic’s illustrations. Book #3: Jack at the Helm, released this past March, 2015.

JACK AND THE WILD LIFE (THE BERENSON SCHEMES #2). Text copyright © 2014 by Lisa Doan. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Darby Creek, Minneapolis, MN.

Purchase Jack and the Wild Life at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesDarby Creek.

Learn more about Jack and the Wild Life HERE.
CCSS Guide for Teachers HERE.
Meet the author, Lisa Doan, at her website:  http://www.lisadoan.org/
Meet the illustrator, Ivica Stevanovic, at his website:  http://ivicastevanovicart.blogspot.com/
Find more middle grade books at the Darby Creek website:  http://bit.ly/DarbyCreek

Darby Creek is a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

The Berenson Schemes

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

JACK AT THE HELM 3

#3 – Jack at the Helm

 

 

 

#01 – Jack and the Castaway 2015 IPPY Gold Medalist for Juvenile fiction

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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 518

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Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Africa, Darby Creek, family, get-rich-schemes, Inc., Ivica Stevanovic, Jack and the Wild Life, Jack at the Helm, Jack the Castaway, Kenya, Lerner Publishing Group, Lisa Doan

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