One delightfully rambunctious lion, and a mountain of messes help a little boy learn to be a responsible young man...in a delightful book series written by Kevin Fobbs and his grandson. For ages 5-8 yrs.
Coming Spring/Summer 2014. Add a Comment
One delightfully rambunctious lion, and a mountain of messes help a little boy learn to be a responsible young man...in a delightful book series written by Kevin Fobbs and his grandson. For ages 5-8 yrs.
by WIGU Publishing
Age 6 to 10 60 pages
.IN PROCESS OF ADDING ILLUSTRATIONS
“Will was excited to go on his class field trip, until he learned they would be touring the local firehouse. Now, he is dreading the trip. For as long as he can remember, Will has been afraid of fire and, worse than that, firefighters! Though he knows firefighters are heroes who do dangerous work, to him they are giants in heavy coats and masks. Can Will overcome his fears and maybe even learn something surprising about himself?”
“Will was sitting in his classroom at school when his teacher, Miss Elyse, made the announcement.”
Will’s class is going on a field trip to a firehouse. Will is afraid of fire and firefighters. Firefighters are right up there with monsters, even though he knows firefighters are heroes who protect our stuff and us. Still, firefighters are “huge” plus “they run out of the smoke and fire swinging axes.” On the bus, Will still worries about the trip. His friend Tommy is all excited, ready for anything.
A fireman wearing a baseball cap and a t-shirt, not a mask and a giant coat, greet the kids. Will tries to convince himself the fireman is not scary, but this one is the Captain. The Captain tells the kids the firefighters train hard, and that the six firefighters at this firehouse are “First Responders.” Will sees that the firehouse is also the firefighter’s home while on duty. As he begins to relax, Will imagines himself as “Captain Will,” the firefighter with the biggest office. The firefighters also have some cool stuff, like a shiny fire pole and two Dalmatians. Who knew they could have pets?
Out of nowhere, a firefighter slides down the gold fire pole, in full firefighter gear. Captain Kirby said, “Did you know that a lot of kids are frightened of firefighters?” Will understands. The firefighter crawls toward the kids, as if saving them in a fire, making at least one jump back. When the mask finally comes off, Will decides the firefighter is not at all scary-looking. Before the kids climb back in their school bus, Will helps aim the fire hose, receives a Junior Firefighter Badge, and hops up onto the fire engine—in the driver’s seat!
When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . a Firefighter stands up to its predecessors—be in the Army and be a Teacher. If anything, the series is getting better. Will is a believable character. He gradually lets down his guard as he learns more about firefighters. Will’s fear of the GIANT firefighter was shattered as the firefighter, who suddenly slides down the fire pole, and crawls toward the kids, scaring a few, turns out to be . . . a girl! Even the Captain, wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap, looked normal. Will shares many of his thoughts along the way, yet I am guessing one thought he doesn’t share is, “why was I scared to come here today?” It is evident in his posture and his face that he is finally having fun.
Packed with career details, I Want to be . . . a Firefighter brings the firefighter down to kid level, erasing any fear that can be induce when they wear their full gear. From the contents of the typical firehouse, to various emergency response vehicles, Will, and the reader, learns what it takes to be a firefighter and what the job entails. As a take-away, there is s Home Safety Check List and a sample Home Escape Plan in the back of the book.
Learn more about When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . series HERE.
WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE . . . FIREFIGHTER. Text and illuostration copyright © 2014 by WIGU Publishing. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, WIGU Publishing, Laguna each, CA.
Coming Soon from WIGU Publishing
This book will appeal to middle grade readers who like stories about inventions, airplanes, famous people, overcoming difficulties, and life in earlier times.Add a Comment
by Marie Chow
Miki Tharp, illustrator
Age 3 to 7 28 pages
“They were halfway through dinner when Tycho announced, “I don’t want to go to bed tonight!”
Tycho does not want to go to sleep because there are dragons under his bed. Dad lets his son in on a secret. Dragons love milk. He explains that milk soothes a dragon’s fiery throats. If a dragon’ throat is soothed it becomes a happy dragon. Tycho is happy about the dragon but wants to know about the alligator. Dad had an alligator under his bed and it liked old shoes. Because alligator do not floss, their gums always hurt. Chewing on an old shoe helps sooth an alligator’s gums.
Because Dragons Love Milk will entertain any young boy who has ever had a dragon, an alligator, or a T-rex under his bed. It is refreshing to read a story about a young boy and his dad. At least two of a boy’s favorite animals are under Tycho’s bed (dragon and T-rex). The way dad breaks down his son’s fears is imaginative and adorable. The three terrifying animals become less threatening when they are fond of milk, stories, and old, stinky shoes.
The illustrations need detail to define one object from another. I see blocks of color, some of which fade or blend into the next. A color picture book needs to have lots of color, and details help. Give the child something to look at. If he cannot yet read, the only way to hold his visual attention is through details. A few toys, pictures on the walls, a window, any of this would have improved the boy’s room. Monsters get restless when there is nothing to play with in a room. The other problem is the lack of a credit page/copyright page. Every book must have certain pages and this is one of them.
Kids will love the story. They will enjoy the odd things each “monster” needs and the reason they need them. Suspending belief is easy thanks to the author’s pen. She writes sentences that flow into one another, making them easy to read, and easy for a young child to understand. This is a nice debut story. I wish it were longer just so I can read more of the author’s imagination. Because Love Milk would be the perfect story to read right before a kindergarten classroom nap. A good choice for boys and dads.
Learn more about Because Dragons Love Milk HERE!
Buy your own copy of Because Dragons Love Milk at Amazon—your local bookstore.
BECAUSE DRAGONS LOVE MILK. Text copyright © 213 by Marie Chow. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Miki Tharp. Reproduced by permission of the author, Mare Chow.
by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard
Chronicle Books 4/01/2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Watch the unstoppable force of a temper tantrum! Tremble at the enormous mess and disrespectful roaring! Despair as no amount of scolding can stem the heedless fury! Someone is heading for a time-out, Mister!”
“Watch what you’re doing, Destructosaurus! Do you have to barrel into every city like a bull in a china shop?”
Destructosaurus walks out of the water. He is knocking things about; building after building falls over. A loud voice yells at him,
“WATCH WHAT YOU’RE DOING, DESTRUCTOSAURUS!”
Destructosaurus stomps through the lake. Fish fly about the city and lake water drenches the people now walking in his path. Oh, no! Flames shoot out of Destructosaurus’s mouth and burns down the harbor. Now Destructosaurus is back stomping the city streets and pushing down buildings.
“WIPE YOUR FEET, DESTRUCTOSAURUS! We just cleaned this street. Now look at the mess you’ve made!”
Destructosaurus tosses buildings out of his way. They fall apart as if made of Lego’s not bricks and mortar. What is Destructosaurus looking for? In anger, Destructosaurus stomps down the city streets swatting at the helicopters, roaring with each swipe.
“DON’T YOU TAKE THAT TONE WITH ME, DESTRUCTOSAURUS!”
Destructosaurus picks up a train station and immediately the voice tells him to put it back down. Wait, what is that in his other hand? Is that what Destructosaurus has been looking for? After a quick hug, Destructosaurus takes his prize back into the sea, temper tantrum over.
Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! tells the tale of a little boy’s temper tantrum and his mother’s response to all that goes with it. He is tossing things about and roaring all the while his mother tosses out typical parental admonitions: Watch what you’re doing; wipe your feet; watch your manners; get control of yourself. Destructosaurus, um, the little boy does not listen. He continues his raging, tossing buildings, no, no, toys, about the city, I mean house.
With toy in hand, Destructosaurus gives mom a big hug. But, instead of Destructosaurus saying he is sorry, mom says,
“You could have used your words. But, still. Sorry I yelled.”
Mom says she is glad he found his toy, that she feels terrible for thinking him terrible. Maybe Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! is meant for parents. Whether Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! was written to enlighten toddlers or mothers, or simply for fun, it is hilarious. The illustrations show an oversized dinosaur destroying New York City. In a comic book style, the images are fun, brightly colored, and hilarious.
What an imaginative way of showing kids what they look like when they have a temper tantrum. I think kids will enjoy seeing themselves as dinosaurs, and what parent has not called their child a “little monster?” Both toddlers and mothers can laugh at the inevitable behavior all kids and parents go through. In the end, there is a hug and both dinosaur and mother calm down. Back to his happy self, Destructosaurus/toddler runs off to play. But wait, mom wants him to come back and clean up the mess he made. The ending has come full circle.
Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! will entertain those who read it. Parents might start calling their child call “Destructosaurus” when the child has a temper tantrum; a word that could help the child rein in his or her behavior. Parents might lighten-up on themselves about the sometimes-anger they feel toward their child. And, most importantly, everyone will enjoy a brightly illustrated dinosaur story. Take note: at one point Destructosaurus sucks his thumb and it is absolutely adorable.
Learn more about Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! HERE.
HERE COMES DESTRUCTO-SAURUS! Text copyright C) 2014 by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Tankard. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
ALSO BY AARON REYNOLDS
Read a review of Carnivores HERE!
Today is a rather long post. Eleven-year-old Nate Rockledge, his older sister Abby, and his once best friend Lisa Crane are here for a short interview followed by a review of the new–and the final–Nate Rocks book: Nate Rocks the City. Let’s get started.
Today Kid Lit Reviews welcomes Nathan Rockledge (aka Nate Rocks), his older sister, Abby, and his know-it-all classmate, Lisa Crane. They are all characters in the Nate Rocks series, the newest being Nate Rocks the City. Since this is the last book, I thought it would be fun if you each talked about your favorite moment from the series. Who wants to go first?
Lisa Crane : Oh!! Me! Me!
Yes of course, Lisa, go ahead.
Lisa : Well … In Nate Rocks the Boat, there was this scene where Nathan was leaving for summer camp and his parents were giving him a going away party…
Nathan: Oh no! Really? Do we have to bring that up here?
Lisa: Hey! She said I could talk about my favorite moment from any of the books, right?
Nathan, please, Lisa, cont–
Lisa: So anyway, we were playing horseshoes – Nathan and me – and of course Nathan was missing them all, while I was getting them all. So I kindly offered to show Nathan how it’s done, only he got a little too close to me, and BAM the next thing you know, he’s on the ground crying like a big old baby. He says it’s because I hit him, but I think it’s because I beat him at horseshoes.
Nathan: You gave me a black eye!!
Abby: It was awesome.
Nathan: Can we move on?
Sure, Nathan. How abou–
Abby: Ooh – I have one!
You characters sure are, um, ready. Abby?
Abby: So in Nate Rocks the World, Nathan was trying to get back at me for – well that really doesn’t matter – anyway, he put food coloring in my shampoo bottle, but Dad wound up using it instead of me, and he wound up with PURPLE hair! HAHAHAHA! It was so funny, and Nathan got in so much trouble.
Nathan: You got in trouble, too.
Abby: Not as much as you though – it was classic.
Nathan: So far, this interview isn’t quite as much fun as I thought it was going to be.
I’m sorry, Nathan. You’re the star, so what is your favorite moment?
Nathan: Hmmm, that’s such a hard question because I had so many great moments in every book! I really did love going to New York City in this last book though. I got to save the city from aliens, I jousted with knights in the museum, and the last scene – well let’s just say if you’ve read Nate Rocks the World, I had a chance to go full circle. I don’t really want to give anymore away than that. Overall though, the entire series was a blast. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did – even the parts with Abby and Lisa.
Abby: “Not funny, Nate.”
Nathan: Thanks for reading and thanks for having us on your blog today!
by Karen Pokras Toz
Grand Daisy Press 2/14/2014
Age 7 to 12 142 pages
Hey New York! Are you ready for Nate Rocks? Fifth grader Nathan Rockledge has been counting down the days—and meals—until his class trip to New York City. Now that the big event is finally here, he can barely stand the excitement. After all, isn’t this what being a fifth grader is all about? Oh sure, his Mom is one of the chaperones, his annoying sister Abby is tagging along, and that know-it-all classmate, Lisa, will be there as well. However, none of that matters. Not when he’ll be with his best friends, Tommy and Sam.
While seeing the sights, his teacher wants his class to take notes, but Nathan has other ideas. With paper and pencil in hand, Nathan prefers to doodle, transforming himself into Nate Rocks, boy hero. Amid ninja pigeons to fend off, aliens to attack, and the baseball game of the century to save, will Nate Rocks be able to save the day one more time?
“The piercing sound of the house alarm rips through the neighborhood as our car pulls into the driveway. ‘Nate! Come quick!’ Mrs. Jensen screams over the sound of the siren.”
Nate’s fifth grade class heads to New York City for their class trip. The chaperones include Nate’s mom and her best friend, Mrs. Crane, mother of the most annoying girl in the entire world—Lisa. Thanks to a Philadelphia Philly baseball player, the kids are getting two extra days and tickets the Phillies versus Yankees baseball game at the end of their trip. Nate counts his days by meals, starting with eleven meals. Nate savors every New York meal, even in the hotel cafeteria.
The group goes to Central Park, The City Zoo, the Statue of Liberty, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art before the final trip to Yankee Stadium. The last two days of the trip, Nate’s dad and older sister join the group. Mrs. Cogin, Nate’s teacher, gives each middle grader a journal to write notes about their trip as reference for an essay they will write later. Not much for words, Nate tends to draw his notes. Several times during the trip, Nate envisions himself as Nate Rocks, a hero to those around him. As Nate begins drawing the area around him changes. People are gone or settings change. Always, someone grabs him and an exchange like this occurs,
“Nate! Thank goodness we found you!”
“Me? Why me?”
“Why because you’re Nate Rocks, of course!”
Nate does whatever needs done, such as stop robotic birds from destroying New York City. The urgent task that only Nate Rocks can accomplished is competed and then this same adoring thanks occurs,
“You did it, Nate! You saved me/us!”
Finally, someone sharply brings Nate back to reality, reminding him that he is holding up the group or just annoying his mother. The last day of Nate’s trip to New York City culminates with a baseball game, the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Yankees. Nate Rockledge goes out in Nate Rocks fashion one last time.
Nate Rocks the City ends the Nate Rocks series. At age ten, Nate rocked the world and the boat and at age eleven, he rocked the school and now the city. In each one Nate envisions himself a hero, his current surroundings melting into a different scene and situations only an imaginative eleven-year-old boy can outwit. Nate’s biggest problem is fifth grader Lisa Crane. Lisa and Nate have spent a lot of time together as they grew up, thanks to their mothers being best friends. Nate sees Lisa as annoying and he is correct.
Ms. Toz writes like a pro. Punctuation errors, capitalization, spelling, and typos are all missing from Nate Rocks the City. One look at the credit page explains why the text is clean. Ms. Toz hired an editor from a company called There for You. Nate’s last story flows well from one scene to the next. His creativeness shines and makes his drawings come alive in his mind, on his pad, and for the reader. Ms. Toz thoroughly researched New York City and its sites before writing Nate Rocks the City. From the exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the shops in Times Square, she has the details.
It is odd that both dad and Abby, Nick’s fifteen-year-old sister, would join the group midway through the fifth grade trip, like it were actually a family vacation. I suppose it was a way of getting all the usual characters into the story and for that, it is hard to place blame. Dad working as another chaperone at least fit nicely into the story, when he wasn’t getting the boys lost in the city, but Abby really made no sense.
All through the story—and in every Nate Rocks series—Nate envisions himself the hero of one situation or another. It is easy to know when Nick goes off on one of his tangents! You will find an exclamation point at the end of nearly every sentence! Nick sees these adventures as something exciting! At Yankee Stadium, Nate finally becomes that hero, exclamations not needed. I like the idea of Nate behind what happened, but the scene did not stand up. I would love to explain why, but it is the ending and I have no right to ruin it for anyone.
Nate Rocks the City is an enjoyable story with terrific imagination, too perfect annoying mom behavior, and a giant sense of fun kids will enjoy. The story is a fast read. Not wanting to leave the story helps this along. Kids will love Nate Rocks the City, whether as a fan of the series or a first time reader. Nate knows how to put on a show. Like the others, Nate Rocks the City can stand on its own, but read in order is more fun as Nate gets better with each book. The series is perfect for boys. Even young reluctant readers will find the Nate Rocks series worth keeping. I am sorry to see Nick leave us, but he does so in fine Nate fashion. Nate does indeed Rock the City!
Check out the Nate Rocks Series HERE.
You can also find Karen Pokras Toz here:
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/bnNRTCity
NATE ROCKS THE CITY. Test copyright © 2014 by Karen Pokras Toz.
ALSO BY KAREN POKRAS TO
– on sale! 99¢ through March 21, 2014
Ned is a book-smart turtle with a very introspective way of thinking. As Rosco cartwheels onto the scene singing a song, Ned’s long awaited moment of serenity is shattered and so begins the story’s true tale of accepting differences and finding a balance between learning and living.Add a Comment
All the excitement surrounding The LEGO Movie sparked a renewed interest in the venerable building toys at my house. The following books that include all kinds of tips, ideas and techniques to re-purpose existing LEGO pieces for all sorts of fantastic creations.Add a Comment
by Bill Harley & Adam Gustavson, illustrator
Peachtree Publishers 3/01/2014
Age 7 to 10 167 pages
“Charlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He’s even got the laugh down pat: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as the Nice Gnome! Determined to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.
“To make matters worse, his dad has assigned chores to all the kids in the family and Charlie’s job is walking Ginger – the diggiest, sniffiest, and poopiest dog in the universe. Can Charlie deal with these challenges without causing havoc all around him?”
“Are you ready, thespians?” Mrs. Burke asked. “Are your desks cleared?”
Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome is the second book in this early reader series. The first was Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, who happened to be Mrs. Burke. This time around Mrs. Burke’s Empire—her term—will be acting out a play for parents and others . . . at night! Since Mrs. Burke read The Sorcerer’s Castle t the class, Charlie has been set on playing Kragon, the evil sorcerer. Kragon has the best line in the whole play.
“You horrible people! My plans are ruined! My dreams are ruined! I am ruined!”
Mrs. Burke handed out the scripts. At the top was your role. Charlie couldn’t believe his eyes. Mrs. Burke gave him the role of The Nice Gnome. Charlie would rather be on the stage crew and move sets around than be The Nice Gnome. The problem, as Charlie saw it, The Nice Gnome was ridiculously nice and Charlie does not want to be a nice guy. He did not want anyone laughing at him. He had to get out of this role.
Charlie has a dilemma. Playing The Nice Gnome in Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class play would be horrible. He tries to ask for a new part. Charlie even tries rewriting his role. Just as in book one, Charlie must somehow make it through Mrs. Burke. Last time he was afraid she would remember the shoe that almost hit her. Now, he must face her about a terrible part. Mrs. Burke is the perfect character to deal with Charlie’s angst. She is stern, maybe a little too stern, but tempers this with kindness that the kids rarely see. Mrs. Burke is a good teacher and a good role model. She also reminds me of most every elementary teacher I ever had. Except for maybe her exploding fingers that get everyone’s immediate attention.
Charlie also has some aggravation at home. Charlie thinks it is unfair that his job means walking Ginger first thing after school, while older brother Matt can read a video game magazine. Little sister Mabel—AKA Squid—wants to walk Ginger but is too young and unable to control the dog. Matt refuses to help or switch jobs with Charlie, but he does make a point of reminding him to walk the dog. The three siblings are realistic in their attitudes toward one another. They pick on and at each other, but run to the rescue if someone else picks on them.
The actual play is the best part of the story, as it should be. At times silly and then hilarious, Charlie comes to an understanding about The Nice Gnome and Mrs. Burke. Charlie’s part has him on stage as Samantha Grunsky’s helper. Samantha is bossy and a know-it-all, and she sits in the chair behind Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Tommy, has the other fourth grade teacher.
I enjoyed Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome. The story is a fast read, due mainly to my refusing to stop turning pages. Getting to the play was worth the wait. Kids will enjoy Charlie and will be able to identify with him. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome has several scenes kids will find hilarious such as Charlie dealing with a neighbor woman whose lawn Ginger prefers to use for “his business.” The illustrations wonderfully capture Charlie’s fourth grade frustrations. Included are the first six pages to the next book in the series: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull.
.Learn more about Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome HERE.
CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE REALLY NICE GNOME. Text copyright © 2014 by Bill Harley. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Adam Gustavson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.
COMING FALL 2014
Peachtree Publisher’s Book Blog Tour
Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome
The World of Peachtree Publishers
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Kid Lit Reviews YOU ARE HERE!
This trilogy of books by the inimitable Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell, master world builders, are among the first reviews I posted when I began this blog in August of 2008. Besides the fact that I adore these books and think of them often, I am thrilled to call them to your attention (again) because these books recently served as a bridge between the chapter books and graphic novels my 8 yearDisplay Comments Add a Comment
First reviewed on 1/27/09. Bill Peet's picture books were a huge part of my childhood and that of my kids, thanks to my mother who made sure that we owned the complete works of Peet's long career. His picture books have detailed stories that you don't find on the shelves anymore - they are almost too long to read at story time and almost qualify as short stories in some cases. Peet's NewberyDisplay Comments Add a Comment
First reviewed in 2009, Mac Barnett's fantastic quartet of Brixton Brothers books is an uncommon contemporary mystery that boys and girls will love. Steve Brixton, a fan of a Hardy Boys-type mystery series, The Bailey Brothers, finds himself embroiled in one case after another, turning to his literary heroes for help, often finding himself in deeper trouble... I'm sorry. I am apologizingDisplay Comments Add a Comment
First reviewed in 2010, Well Witched remains the BEST ghost story for kids I have read. Harding is a brilliant, diverse writer and this book will give readers chills and make them think! Well Witched is a remarkable and completely different follow- up to one of my all time favorites, Fly By Night, which Frances Hardinge published as her first novel for children in 2006. Whereas her firstAdd a Comment
First reviewed in 2009, Toby Alone presents the reader with a world within a world, in miniature and facing enormous problems. Enchanting, exciting and magical, Toby is a wonderfully brave, thoughtful character you won't forget. Reading Toby Alone by French playwright Timothée de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, winner of the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation,Display Comments Add a Comment
When I look for a great counting book, I am looking for a book that pulls young readers back to read it again and again. It has to have clear, dynamic illustrations and text that invites the adult to interact with the child while they read together. Mark Lee's debut picture book Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street is a fantastic new counting book, perfect for little kids wowed by huge, towering trucks.
A little boy watches as an ice-cream truck rumbles down the street. When the ice-cream truck breaks down, it blocks middle of the street. This leads to a chain-reaction traffic jam, with truck after truck getting stuck in the street. Lee's rhyming text is wonderful to read aloud, adding interest for parents and children. He uses the page turns perfectly, building suspense along the way.
Twenty Big Trucks
in the Middle of the Street
by Mark Lee
illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
your local library
*best new book*
"A mail truck stops, so now there are two.We start realizing the pattern just as the little guy on his bike starts counting the trucks. Kurt Cyrus, veteran picture book author and illustrator, captures our attention with bold digital illustrations.
Their drivers don't know what to do.
Watch out! Two trucks are in the way.
They stop a third truck carrying hay."
The Children’s Book Review is delighted to welcome Susannah Terrell French to our tree house today. She is an environmental lawyer and the award-winning author of Operation Redwood, a high adventure novel about four determined children who take on big business to save a redwood forest.Add a Comment
Catherine Gilbert Murdock, author of six acclaimed novels, is an avid reader of books that aren’t for grownups. Her latest middle grade novel, Heaven Is Paved with Oreos, is written as 14-year-old Sarah's journal. Murdock shares her brilliant "how-to" musings on fictional journal writing ... or, as she likes to put it, the real stories of fake people.Add a Comment
by Davide Cali & Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books 2014
Age 8 to 12 40 pages
“WHEN TO USE THIS BOOK: Whenever you haven’t finished your homework.
“CAUTION: Each excuse may only be used once.”
“So, why didn’t you do your homework?”
“I didn’t do my homework because . . . An airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard.”
A middle grade student has not finished his homework and must give his teacher an excuse. Why did he not have his homework? As you already know, an airplane full of monkeys landed in his yard. If that wasn’t enough, a rebellious robot destroyed his house. He barely got out with his books intact. Oh, the actual homework, you ask? Well, that is hard to complete when you have a bedroom full of recently escaped convicts hiding there. And then, anything he did get done was eaten by his dog, and it was eaten by another dog, so he spent the rest of the day at the vet’s office.
The teacher, being like most teachers, didn’t believe a syllable that this young student said. So he kept on trying. Who would not believe that some huge birds made a nest out of his house’s roof, and then the birds must have flown off with the roof, because now it is gone? “Okay, maybe that was much,” the middle grader would say, “but my brother was kidnapped by a circus and I was forced to watch him perform.” The teacher never did believe a word this poor, homeless, now only child had to say in his own defense.
In I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . The young boy has some of the most inventive excuses I have ever heard. The true test is with teachers. How many of this young man’s excuses have been heard before, versus the number that are fresh and new? Only the latter excuses will matter to the average middle grade reader. Most excuses are only good once. There is some kind of underground network, where teachers file excuses for all other teachers to check their student’s excuse against, similar to how Grammarly helps teachers check for plagiarism. If your excuse is on this registry there is no chance it will work, even when it is true.
The illustrations detail the excuses with wonderful detail that will hold the attention of your mind’s eye. The author and illustrator worked together to make sure you could easily remember these excuses. If instructions would have been included they would have said, “Read it aloud and study the picture. The more senses you can involve the better you will remember. The illustrations depict the excuse as closely as possible with more than enough intimate features and qualities to ease the process. Sometimes silly illustrations are used to help you remember that excuse.”
If your brother were kidnapped by the circus, would you remember this better if you saw him leaning out of a huge cannon, and the ringmaster at the other end with a large match ready to shoot him into outer space? You bet it would. That picture will stay in your head—and the teacher’s—long after the she has forgotten about your missing homework.
Obviously, I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . is a humorous book depicting outrageous excuses one would never actual encounter. The book is cute, makes fun of the silly excuses kids can think up and teachers must hear. This is a not a real story, as one expects a story. Nor is this a handbook of excuses, because they are too outlandish to be believable, though sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .is tongue-in-cheek fun middle graders will laugh at, as will younger kids—even those who cannot read. There might even be a few teachers laughing along. The book is a novelty-type book exaggerating the ritual of excuses for laughs and smiles. I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . easily accomplishes this goal.
If you like jokes, if you like comics, if you like silliness, or if you need more unbelievable excuses this year, I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . is for you. The book reminds me of the thin library jokes books or silly poetry books I’d carry home by the arm loads. This light reading never needed to be dog eared—or cat whiskered—before closing the book unfinished. These books, and I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . are thin enough to find your place or start over and get to the last page read in minutes. The entire book will take no more than fifteen minutes to read cover-to-cover. Every time I read those books a smile jumped onto my face. I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . did the same, with a few BIG laughs.
A smile can change one’s entire attitude for the better. I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . will have kids giggling, parent’s grinning, and teachers groaning, but all will smile that magic transformative smile, the kind that instantly makes you feel good, as smiles are meant to do. If you want that smile of innocent complicity, this is the book to read. Keep it in your locker or desk drawer for quick reference or a needed smile. Most importantly, remember to check off each excuse as you use them. Beware of the teacher underground, .I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . is not guaranteed to get you out of doing your homework.
I DIDN’T DO MY HOMEWORK BECAUSE . . . . Text copyright © 2014 by Davide Cali. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Benjamin Chaud. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
ALSO BY BENJAMIN CHAUD.
by Plumeri & Bloz
translated by Nanette McGuinness
Age 7 to 9 56 pages
“Think you know everything there is to know about dinosaurs? Think again! In this brand new series, kid dinos show us what their lives were like in short, funny, teeth-gnashing bursts of prehistoric mayhem. DINOSAURS is your guided tour through the rough-and-tumble world of the mightiest beasts to ever walk the earth!”
“You want to learn about dinosaur records? Ask Indino Jones! That’s me, hee hee!”
The Dinosaurs series begins where it must: In the Beginning. We first meet the local paleontologist, Indino Jones. Indino likes to introduce in categories. The first is Records such as the fastest dinosaur—Gallimimus, at 40 mph—the most massive dinosaur—Giganotosaurus, at 17, 636 pounds cast over 46 feet—and smartest dinosaur—Troodon, it is as smart as a cat.
From records, the logical place to head is the first dinosaur, beginning in the Triassic, a mere 230 million years ago, is the Eoraptor, a rather little fellow that walked on two legs, making it a fast hunter. Does anyone not know about the Tyrannosaurus rex? T-rex starts out life as one of the smaller creatures, possible bullied by the large reptiles, but in time, T-rex grows from its tiny feathered body to a humongous, 11,000 pound, North American carnivore with an anger management problem.
What exactly is a dinosaur, other than an extinct creature that once roamed the Earth millions of years ago? “Dinosaur” means Fearfully Great Lizard. Sir Richard Owen invented the term using Greek though many are based on Latin terms, based on postulated descriptions and features of the creature. The first Creature Feature!
Dinos ruled Earth from 230 to 65 million years ago, but not all dinosaurs lived during the same period of time. They ate most anything that moved and had muscle –carnivores—or gathered plants—herbivores. One other existed, that being the Piscivore, which feasted on fish. There were dinosaurs that walked on two feet and those that crawled on all four. Some carnivores had egg cravings, pilfering from an unattended nests. Caution was needed to ensure the carnivore didn’t snatch from a pile of eggs ready to hatch, from say a Velociraptor momma. Those babes will be carnivores and hungry. Indino Jones has much more in store for the reader. In addition to several more dinosaurs, he will explain the value of dinosaur tracks, all about coprolites, marine reptiles, and those creatures that preceded birds. To finish his tour of Dinosaurs #1: In the Beginning, Indino Jones talks about why dinosaurs disappeared from the world.
Dinosaurs #1: In the Beginning will enthrall kids interested in dinosaurs and reptiles. These early creatures are presented in a light-hearted manner by the paleontologist Indino Jones, a man who loves handling coprolites, yet refuses to pick up after his dog. While Indino acts as the narrator, the dinosaurs speak to one another and have a great time. One dinosaur, the Albertosaurus, discovered in Alberta, Canada looks at the reader and says, “Have a nice day from Alberta,” while menacingly standing over a map of the area.
Kids will witness typical dinosaur behavior, such as a momma guarding her young ones before and after birth. Fighting is common. Many dinosaurs, such as the pointy dragon-headed Dracorex, liked head-butting each other, while the spike-backed Kentrosaurus tries to avoid than I had been aware of existing. Kids will love the varieties and Indino Jones’s commentary.
The illustrations are grand. Most have a slightly cartoonish bent to them, making the dinosaurs a tad less ferocious than they most likely were millions of years ago. Carnivores like the Allosaurus. It has no trouble killing and then eating another dinosaur, calling his meal, an “American Steak-Osaurus,” while the dead Orintholestes ay on the ground ribs showing, insides flowing out. To counter this the dino-dinner has its tongue out, head on the ground with stars above its now deceased head.
Learn more about the Dinosaur Series HERE!
Get to know the illustrator, Bloz
DINOSAURS: IN THE BEGINNING. Text 6yrrr`copyright © 2010 by Arnaud Plumeri. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Bloz. Translation copyright © 2014 by Nanette McGuinness. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Papercutz, New York, NY.
.ALSO IN THE DINOSAUR SERIES (THUS FAR)
Dinosaurs #2: Bite of the Albertosaurus 5/06/2014
Dinosaurs #3: Jurassic Smarts 8/05/2014
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