(Had to re-publish this in order to restore the blog!)
The multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have perfect pacing in Sam and Dave Dig A Hole. Ages 4-8Add a Comment
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein, is about a madcap competition where kids search bookrooms based on the Dewey Decimal system, examine mysterious library cards, solve rebuses, compare assigned readings, and encounter holograms of authors who offer timely tips.Add a Comment
Simon Nicholson, author of YOUNG HOUDINI: THE MAGICIAN'S FIRE, discusses how he came up with the idea for his thrilling new series.Add a Comment
Ellen Prager, PhD, ocean scientist and author, brings ocean science to the young fiction audience with her Tristan Hunt and the Sea guardian series.Add a Comment
Happy Poetry Friday, Everyone! Today I'll be sharing a fun, "spooky" poem by David L. Harrison. But first I'll tell you about my latest publication, an article in the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market (Writer’s Digest Books), edited by Chuck Sambuchino. Then, at the end of this post, you'll find instructions for how to enter to win your very own copy of the 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market!
"If you write or illustrate for young readers with the hope of getting published, the '2015 Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market' is the trusted resource you need. Now in its 27th edition, 'CWIM' is the definitive publishing guide for anyone who seeks to write or illustrate for kids and young adults. Inside you'll find more than 500 listings for children's book markets (publishers, agents, magazines, and more)--including a point of contact, how to properly submit your work, and what categories each market accepts."
". . . the good news is that research also shows that boys will read—if they are given reading that interests them."
I have never liked horror movies. Never. Ever. But I know that scary, frightening stories have a real appeal for many people. So how do I recommend them for my students? It's a challenge -- especially gauging that right balance between spine-tingling-fright and oh-no-way-too-frightening-for-10-year-olds.
Here are four short-story collections I am recommending to students. Please be warned: if they are too scary, stop reading. That's what I've done in many cases.
Cabinet of Curiosities
36 Tales Brief and Sinister
by Stefan Bachmann, Claire Legrand, Katherine Catmull and Emma Trevayne
Podcast + Website
Your local library
Guys Read: ThrillerJon Scieszka's collection has great kid appeal, with contributions from 10 different superb authors. I loved Matt de la Peña's story "Believing in Brooklyn" about a wish-making-machine, with its creepy coincidences and touching ending. What would you wish for if you could have anything you wanted? If you like this, check out all the Guys Reads collections.
edited by Jon Scieszka
Walden Pond / Harper Collins, 2011
Your local library
On the Day I DiedFleming begins this collection with a version of "The Vanishing Hitchhiker." In her version, the young teen who picks up the hitchhiker is told to take her shoes to the graveyard where she's buried--and he discovers a crowd of ghosts, all wanting to tell him how they died. Fleming sets her story in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, and each story takes place during a different time period. She deftly weaves in many pieces of historical details, but these never overwhelm the stories.
Stories from the grave
by Candace Fleming
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012
Your local library
Haunted Houses:The spider story in this collection, "Webs," scared me so much that I couldn't finish reading this collection. As soon as I say that, kids start clamoring for this collection. Here's what I wrote when I originally read this collection:
Are You Scared Yet?
by Robert San Souci
Henry Holt, 2010
Your local library
In one story, a boy’s family is vacationing in a house that is taken over by spiders. Now, these aren’t your typical garden spiders. They are spiders who want revenge for the damages done to their forest and homes. Danny starts to get worried when he finds the rabbit cage filled with spider webs, and then realizes that the bundles in the corner are the dead rabbits encased in spider webs. The story proceeds to even creepier, as Danny discovers more ways the spiders have wrecked damage on previous owners of the house. Needless to say, every time I walk into a spider’s web now, I jump even higher.
In Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, author Chris Grabenstein cleverly captures reader’s imaginations by combining the suspense of a thrilling game with the majestic nostalgia of great libraries, librarians, books and authors of past and present.Add a Comment
John Rocco discusses his newest picture book, Blizzard, the companion to your Caldecott Honor-winning Blackout.Add a Comment
The Boys of Blur, by N.D. Wilson, will appeal to readers 8 to 12 who like football, scary tales, and stories about complex family situations.Add a Comment
Niño Wrestles the World. Pair this with a set of Lucha Libre wrestling figures, and you'll create lots of playtime fun.
Niño Wrestles the World
by Yuyi Morales
Roaring Brook / Macmillan, 2013
2014 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration
Your local library
|CMLL Lucha Libre Plush Doll 7 inches|
By Michael Foreman
Andersen Press U. S. A. 3/01/2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Little Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep, so he tries everything he can think of to distract his father, and in the end it’s an exhausted dad who falls asleep!”
“Dad finished the bedtime story and gently closed the book.”
Dad Bear tucks his son into bed, reads him a story, and tells his son he loves him. Little Bear has no intentions of going to sleep and so he starts up a back-and-forth he and his dad have done many times: “I love you, I love you more.” It starts out simply and Dad just wants his son to go to sleep.
“I love you three,” said Little Bear, laughing.
“I love you four. Now go to sleep.” said Dad.
“I love you five,” said little Bear.
“I love you even more than that. Now it’s time to sleep,” said Dad.
No, Dad, it is not quite time for bed. Little Bear continues, bringing in his toys, which he loves his dad more than. Dad replies with a simple I love you more, but it will not suffice his son. The boy loves his father more than leaves and birds, all the snowflakes of winter, flowers of summer, colors of the rainbow, and the stars in the sky. To each of his son’s “I love you more than,” Dad replies, “I love you more,” or some variation of this reply. Finally, Dad says,
“You’re only saying that because you don’t want me to go down stairs.”
“No, Dad. It’s because I love you.”
“I love you, too,” said Dad.
“I love you three . . . “
I Love You, Too is a sweet story between a father and son. Picture books need a few more stories involving Dad, who does not get the representation Mom gets in picture books. Poor Dad is usually off to work and, if he is in the book, it is breakfast time and Dad is leaving for work. “Bye kids,” said Dad.
Little Bear uses his imagination to tell his dad all the ways in which he loves him more than. When Little Bear tells dad he loves him more than all his toys, which are in a corner overflowing out of a toy box, the toys look dejected. The stuffed tiger looks downcast, the donkey appears to have shed a tear, and the others—cat, elephant, panda bear, and bunny,—all look unhappy. Little Bear takes dad up into a tree, into the snow, (where there is a snowbear), into a field of flowers, into the ocean, and onto a sandy beach (where dad is buried under the sand sans his head). In every adventure, Dad smiles and replies that he loves his son and it is time for sleep. Stubborn, but happy, Little Bear ignores his father’s admonitions.
The illustrations, all beautifully done in rich watercolors, welcome the two bears, alone for Little Bear’s love-you-more-than-these adventures. Little Bear’s imagination has these two anthropomorphic brown bears perfectly outfitted in each place Little Bear takes them. As Little Bear finds new ways to love his father more than, the two transport into Little Bear’s imagination to that place, be it a field of flowers, a rainy day with puddles to play in, or a starry sky to float through, Dad is as happy as Little Bear, wherever Little Bear’s imagination has taken them. I love how Foreman puts the circle of love in motion once more when Dad said, “I love you, too” and Little Bear takes off with his I love you three, but we never find out what those three things he loves dad more than. Dad has fallen asleep on Little Bear’s bed. Little Bear has gotten his wish. Dad is not going back downstairs. Little Bear picks up the picture book Dad had read him: I Love You, Too!
I Love You, Too makes a wonderful bedtime story, though you may find yourself trapped in the “I love you more” merry-go-round, not this is a bad place to be stuck. The story and the illustrations will evoke laughter, smiles, and many “I love you’s” which one can never hear enough. Children will love this story and will soon be using their own imaginations when deciding how much they love a parent more than. I Love You, Too will send many children off to dream land happy and content. If Da Bear is any indication, parents will quickly dose off to their own happy dreamland, maybe even before the last “I love you more than . . . “is said.
I LOVE YOU, TOO! Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Michael Foreman. Reproduced by permission of the US distributer, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
. First published in Great Britain in 2013 by Andersen Press, Ltd.
Learn more about I Love You, Too! HERE.
Meet the author / illustrator, Michael Foreman, at his wiki page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Foreman_%28author_/_illustrator%29
Andersen Press U. S. A. is an imprint of Andersen Press Ltd.
Also by Michael Foreman, released in 2014
copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR
by Fred Bowen
Peachtree Publishers 8/01/2014
Age 7 to 12 144 pages
“READY . . . SET . . . HUT ONE!
“Jesse Wagner has run pass patterns with his older brother Jay since he was a little kid. Now Jay’s heading to college and Jesse’s a wide receiver for the high school freshman team, the Panthers. The season starts off badly, and things get even worse when the Panthers quarterback is injured. Jay suggests that Jesse try out as QB. Jesse knows the playbook backwards and forwards, but he feels that he’s too small for the role. He just doesn’t look the part. Can he play against type and help the Panthers become a winning team?”
“Ready . . . set . . . hut one!” Jesse Wagner and his older brother Jay were running pass patterns at Hobbs Park, just as they had a thousand times before.”
Jesse Wagner is finally in high school and the wide receiver for the freshman football team. Quinn (right tackle), and Langston (reserve wide receiver), two of Jesse’s best friends, also play on the Panther freshman football team. Jesse has been running pass patterns with his older brother, Jay and now knows all of the plays the Panthers use without referencing the playbook. Jay, last year’s All-Conference quarterback, is now off to Dartmouth College to play quarterback there.
Henry, the freshman quarterback for the freshman Panthers, poor kid, is confused about every play, cannot seem to remember any of them, and his throws are too short or too long, too high or too wide. Henry looks like an all-star quarterback and will scare the other team . . . until the first play. Jesse nearly suffers a concussion trying to go after a bad pass from Henry. The one who does get hurt is Henry. A Panther lineman stumbles into Henry causing a season ending injury.
Meanwhile, Jay is a good quarterback, but so are many other boys. He does not get the job. His coach wants him to play safety. Home for the weekend to decide if he will quit the team or play safety, Jay talks to Jesse while throwing around a football. Jay agrees to accept safety if Jesse agrees to try out for quarterback, now t hat Henry is gone the position is open. Deal made, Jay returns to Dartmouth and Jesse asks to try out. The assistant coach thinks the shorter than the average quarterback could work. The coach is not buying it. A few practice plays and Jesse has won the position and the nickname “Tark” after Fran Tarkington, a short quarterback that ruled the game in the NFL. Only problem is, with quarterback shored up, another game-busting problem becomes visible: the kicking game sucks. The Panthers sorely need a kicker that can kick beyond midfield.
Savannah, who happens to play the other football game (soccer), as the goalie, can kick the ball with a huge depth and a long hang-time impressing Jesse and his friends, and giving them an outrageous idea. Jesse suggests they ask Savannah to kick for their football team. Savannah is intrigued, but will the coaches? Will the freshman football coaches sign off on a girl football player? Will the girls soccer coach sign off on his best player leaving the team to play football? Can Savannah even make a difference to the plagued freshman Panther football team?
Double Reverse highlights high school football, three stars of the game, and situations that place all three in odd positions. For Jay, a big man on a high school campus, he easily becomes a little man on a college campus, and Jay is having trouble accepting this. He thinks ending his football career is a better idea than taking his talent in another direction. He seriously considers quitting the team—and his Dartmouth education—rather than change his positions and play safety.
Jesse is a great wide receiver, or he would be great if the quarterback could ever get the ball to him. Then injury takes Henry—the quarterback—out during the first game. The Panthers do not have a viable quarterback and Jay thinks Jesse can do it. Jesse believes he is too short to play quarterback—he just does not look the part as Henry did, but Henry couldn’t throw the ball or remember plays so what kind of help was his quarterback looks? The brothers make a pact to try the other positions. Turns out, both are great in their new spots and both are happy.
I enjoyed reading Double Reverse. It has a lot of football action and even gives away some of the panther’s playbook. Double Reverse is also about reinventing yourself when the need or opportunity arises. It is about diversifying yourself, rather than being one set thing all your life. I get how Jay feels, but I do not understand how he could risk his education. Jesse and Savannah both soon learn perception and reality do not always match when they are good at positions neither saw themselves at—Jesse as quarterback and Savannah as goalie (soccer) and then kicker (football).
Girls will love the character of Savannah who does not want to be the goalie, yet turns out to be a killer goalie. When the boys need her, she reinvents herself as a football player and helps her friends finally win a game. Savanna reflects the change in football with more and more girls playing at the high school level and commend the author for inventing this character and making her so fresh and vibrant. There is a lot of ego in girl’s sports, and girls will enjoy that Savannah’s kicking game is the reason the football team wins a game.
Mainly, Double Reverse shows the importance of growth as children age and experience new things. Sometimes it is good to be the best. Other times it is good to be a team player and sacrifice your glory for the team’s glory. I am not interested in football, yet enjoyed Double Reverse very much, and understand the game better after reading this book. I actually loved all the action during the games. After the story are the true stories of two legends, Fran Tarkington and Cal Ripken, both thought to be wrong to play their respective positions in the pros and the inspiration for Double Reverse.
No one is expecting a winning season, but the Panthers find ways to overcome the odds against them, some by breaking stereotypes and putting the team before themselves—Henry does this upon his return. Boys and girls that like football, be it the American European, will love reading Double Reverse. The story is much more than a football story, making it appealing to both boys and girls, and it’s a story the reluctant reader can savor thanks to shorter sentences and an uncomplicated vocabulary. Double Reverse is an all-around winning story.
DOUBLE REVERSE. Text copyright © 2014 by Fred Bowen. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by XXXXXXXXX. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlantic, GA.
Learn more about Double Reverse HERE.
Also Writte by Fred Bowen
copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR
This deeply felt, emotional book is a beautiful glimpse into painful family dynamics, and how a sixteen-year-old boy can come to terms with the complexities of love and loss. An excellent read for teens and adults alike.Add a Comment
by Pierre Culliford aka Peyo
Age 7 + 54 pages
“Madame Adolphine is a kind, gentle old lady, and a good friend of the super-strong Benny Breakiron. So why is she robbing a bank, banging a man on the head with a mallet, and being thrown in the trunk of a car, with no memory of what happened? It’s up to Benny to get to the bottom of it . . . and stop it if he can.”
“Vivejoie-Grande, a cute, little city with provincial charm, that’s where Benny Breakiron lives.”
Benny has super-strength that works abominably well as long as he does not catch a cold. Colds knock Benny’s super-strength right out of him. Odd, but true. He can leap over buildings in one bound, out run any racecar, and is molding a rather interesting logical mind that he uses to solve many of the situations he faces.
Today, Benny plays a game of cowboys and Indians with Madame Adolphine, an older woman who looks to be in her eighty’s. When she runs out of steam, Benny carries her home and calls the doctor, who is not amused. Madame does not have a pulse and the good doctor figures out the trouble. Finally, Benny finds her identification and a phone number of a friend, who is glad to have the wondering woman back.
Later, Madame Adolphine frees herself with Benny’s help. He thinks her friend is abusing her and helps her get away from his home. This time, Madame Adolphine robs a gun store, a bank, and several people before hijacking a taxi and skedattling out of town. She is on to bigger heists. Her friend is frantic, as is Benny. The police arrest the real Madame Adolphine, placing her directly in jail due to the preponderance of evidence and witnesses, no passing go, no going home. Benny breaks her out of jail, then goes on the hunt for the robber, planning to bring her back and clear the real Madame Adolphine.
The Benny Breakiron comics are funny and kids, probably more boys than girls, will like the stories. I am amazed at Benny’s naivety and trust level considering this is not his first outing with criminals. When he asks the robot to return and she agrees, he believes her, returning on a train alone, convinced she will follow as soon as she “cleans up” her business. She has a major heist to pull with her criminal gang. Until Benny hears of the latest burglary, he is calmly riding home. Quickly he hops off the train, scaring a man who he had terrified so much while breaking the real Madame Adolphine out of jail he is close to a nervous breakdown. I was surprised that the law-abiding Benny would break anyone out f jail. I guess when he is sure of the person’s innocence it is okay. Not a great message but then comics are not about messages they are about fun.
Benny consistently dupes adults, especially the gang of strong criminals who think they can toss Benny out of the club, but are grossly mistaken when Benny beats them all to a pulp—in bloodless, humorous ways that is as safe as the roadrunner is for a seven-year-old. Even after Benny catches a cold causing the shutdown of his super-strength, the men are afraid. When they figure out Benny lost his powers they go after him but, thanks to the barkeep charged with keeping Benny locked up and who nurses Benny’s cold, Benny has recovered enough to restore his powers and shock the gangsters once more when he pulverizes them all.
In the end, police drop all charges against the real Madame Adolphine and the robot returns to its maker for disassembly. There is a twist, leaving the robot to her own devises once more and the real Madame Adolphine returning for disassembly. Does this mean the story will continue? I do not know and don’t see a new edition with Madame Adolphine in the story-line. I guess we must wait and see.
Kids who like lighter-fare comics, without a lot of violence and anger, will love Benny Breakiron. Benny is an everyday kid who happens to have strength unknown to man. He is a nice kid, a little naive, and maybe too trustworthy, but he always tries to do what is right, even if it means he must use his powers. Benny Breakiron is a good old-fashioned comic by the comic genius of his time—Peyo.
BENNY BREAKIRON, #2: MADAME ADOLPHINE. Text and illustrations copright © 2013 by Peyo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Papercutz, New York, NY.
Learn more about Benny Breakiron #2: Madame Adolphine HERE.
Also by Peyo
Review of Smurflings #15 HERE
Review of Smurf Anthology #1 HERE
Review of Benny Breakiron #1 HERE
copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
The inspiration, passion, and illustrations make The Bambino and Me a wonderful, well rounded, addition to any reader’s roster.Add a Comment
Written by Karla Oceanak
Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer
Bailiwick Press 6/10/2014
Age 7+ 160 pages
“Finding a dinosaur bone is like hitting the jackpot, right? Dino fossils are worth millions! Plus you get to b famous! You’re minding your own kid business when bam!—out of the mud pop fortune and glory. Ka-ching! That’s how I thought it would go, anyway, after my best friend, Jack, and I found a fossil in our neighborhood ditch. But as usual, grown-up rules made things way too complicated.”
“I wish we could play outside. This morning, I said that. I mean, I actually heard my own voice speak those exact words. Me. Aldo Zelnick.”
Aldo and his best friend, Jack, actually did go outside to play. It was cold and muddy causing the boys to slip and slid right into a neighborhood ditch. This is when Jack finds a big rock that, when cleaned, is much better than a rock. It is a fossil—a dinosaur fossil, right from their own backyard.
Aldo believes the fossil is worth millions of dollars and holds this hope out to the very end. Jack is thinking only of fame. A famous paleontologist, a famous middle grade paleontologist, would be cool, he thought. Jack holds out this hope to the very end. This is the only contention between Aldo and Jack: fame or fortune, but why not both!
The boys head to the natural history museum to find out what kind of fossil they found and, for Aldo, how much it is worth. Aldo thinks the museum will pay him on the spot—they do not. But, it is a dinosaur bone and the ditch might just have more bones. Now the boys must get the neighborhood to consent to digging up the ditch, and then find the rest of the dinosaur. Once done, Aldo and Jack will go on tour with their fame and fortunes. If only they can keep everyone out of the ditch until excavation day.
When we last read about Aldo he was skiing in Ignoramus. Since then, Aldo and Jack have changed only incrementally, as they normally would. I like that the authors are not maturing the characters quickly. Of course, with twenty-six books, they have lots of room to let the characters blossom slowly. Still, Aldo may be in college by the time “Z” hits the shelves. Aldo is still using his diary to write about his life and then—oh, I meant his journal, so sorry. Sometimes a good character just sticks with you and Aldo is one of those characters. He also wants you to know he is an artist and draws some terrific scenes that help readers visualize his stories.
In “J,” for Jackpot, Aldo and his best friend Jack finally go outside to play. They do not pick the best day, as it is cold and the ground is muddy and slippery. Aldo and Jack slip and slide into a neighborhood ditch. In the ditch Jack loosens a great looking rock. The rock turns out to be a dinosaur bone and more could be in that ditch. Aldo thinks this is great fortune, as in money. Jack thinks this is fortunate, as in fame. He would love a dinosaur named after him. Aldo would probably like a bank, or at least the largest vault, named after him. They have hit the JACKPOT!
As in books A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, J (for Jackpot) is crazy and funny with loads of mishaps, misunderstandings, and a girl interfering—or trying to—with Aldo and his journals. Jackpot is not a graphic novel. It contains enough text to keep the story on track and moving, but not so much as to crowd out the wonderful illustrations meant to be from Aldo. I love the detailed illustrations that greatly enhance the story. Aldo and Jack both sport Indiana Jones hats (fedoras). Kids will love the black and white “doodles” Aldo draws on nearly every page.
I enjoyed Jackpot, reading it in one sitting. Middle grade kids—especially reluctant readers—will love this series. The characters are believable, multi-dimensional, likable and in many ways familiar to everyday life. Reluctant readers will appreciate the story staying on track and the short chapters. Kids can stop reading at any point, and when ready, easily reemerge back into the story. This is most terrific for reluctant readers who are at a distinct disadvantage with continuing a book midway through.
As far as the actual writing is concerned, the story stays on point even when Aldo goes off on a tangent. Aldo’s tangential thoughts are about money. In several illustrations, Aldo has made long lists of numbers needing added to project his coming wealth. The characters, especially Aldo and Jack, are easy to care about as the story progresses. If you have been reading the alphabet series known as Aldo Zelnick, you already care about Aldo and Jack, but the author makes no assumptions and brings new readers into the fan club.
Jackpot is the tenth book in Aldo’s series. I like that each of these books introduces new words that begin with that book’s letter. Jackpot, then, has words beginning with the letter “J.” Examples include jabbering, jack squat, jicama, and several French words like Joie de vivre and jugo de naranja. There is a glossary in the back, which defines each “J” word. In the text, the highlighted words are marked with an asterisk (*).
The Aldo Zelnick series is similar to The Wimpy Kid except that Jackpot, and every book thus far, have better defined illustrations. I like the “J” words in Jackpot. The glossary defines each of these words. I also like reading the comic Bacon Boy by Aldo Zelnick. How often do you get two books in one and both books are terrific? Aldo and Bacon Boy have a lot in common. I think Bacon Boy is Aldo and a safe, funny way for Aldo to document his childhood. Kids will laugh their hinnies off, no external exercise needed.
JACKPOT: AN ALDO ZELNICK COMIC NOVEL (#10). Text copyright © 2014 by by Karla Oceanak. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Kendra Spanjer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bailiwick Press, Fort Collins, CO.
Learn more about Jackpot HERE.
Also by Karla Oceanak & Kendra Spanjer
Read Hotdogger Review HERE.
Read Ignoramus Review HERE.
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Written by K. A. Holt
Chronicle Books 10/01/2014
Age 8 to 12 176 pages
“Kevin has a bad attitude. He’s the one who laughs when you trip and fall. In fact, he may have been the one who tripped you in the first place. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way—and he’s even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on?”
“First day of school.
A parade float of himself.
Kevin, the class bully, is in seventh grade. He loves picking on certain kids. His teacher, Mrs. Smithson, does not like him, but does like to send Kevin to the principal’s office. She also turns a very blind eye when Kevin is no longer the bully, but the bullied. At home, Kevin is the accident baby with four “P” brothers: Patrick, Paul, Petey, and Philip. Mom and dad are both busy physicians with little time for home or Kevin.
Kevin keeps a notebook of his days at school, writing them in verse. Petey, in charge of driving Kevin to school, is a bully himself. When he notices Kevin’s notebook, Petey makes terrible fun of Kevin and then chucks the notebook out the car window. Kevin searches but cannot find it. Robin, who fits perfectly between the boy’s bathroom sink pipes, finds the notebook. It becomes blackmail. Robin wants to be the Poetry Bandit. Robin is a little jerk.
Mrs. Little, the librarian, knows it is Kevin tearing out pages from classics, circling and adding a letter or two, creating a unique poem, and then posting it at school for all to see. Mrs. Little soon takes to Kevin. She encourages Kevin to stop defacing school property and use paper other than pages from children’s classics for his unique poetry. As long as Robin has Kevin’s private notebook, sharing it at random, Kevin is nervous. There are a few bombs in the notebook that Kevin does not want exploding at school.
Written in verse, Rhyme Schemer is a fast read. It is also an extremely enjoyable read that kept me laughing, sometimes loudly. Kevin is not a bad kid. His home life looks ideal to others, but reality is another matter. His parents are rarely home and brother Petey—who hates Kevin—is especially mean whenever possible. Bullies beget bullies. Kevin enjoys picking on his classmates. He meets with the principal much too often.
Kevin is not the classic bully who is mean and full of hate that spews out at other kids. Kevin is frustrated and trying to get his parent’s attention. His home life is mostly unfair and soon school will become unfair. The teacher ignores Robin’s attacks at Kevin, whether it is passing mean notes during class or ignoring a physical confrontation—where Kevin does not retaliate. She really does not like Kevin and then favors Robin, mainly because his father holds an important position.
I really like Kevin. He is a character you can easily favor, wanting him to catch a break. He’s a likable kid. Kevin pays a big price for defending Kelly, but he gains a friend, his first. I understand Kevin. He is the baby in a large family, but instead of being spoiled, he is picked on, sometimes harshly for no real reason. In a house full of people, Kevin is alone. What must it be like to have four brothers, all wanted, and with planned-out names beginning with a “P” (I wish I knew why), but he is the accident with a name beginning with the wrong letter. This alone must make him feel alienated from his family. Kevin deals with school unfairness and home by becoming a feeling-less, like stone.
Kids will like Rhyme Schemer. They will like Kevin. Kids will see a bully from a new perspective. The text is funny in so many places, and even sad in a few. Ms. Holt’s writing style is enjoyable and kid like. Kevin is the narrator, but I wonder if he is also the author and Ms. Holt his conduit. Kevin wrote several Odes to his principal’s tie. Some are in the story and some are at the end of the book. Don’t pass these by.
“[Clearing throat noise here.]
O, Principal’s tie
You make me want to puke
Because you are the color of
Squishy, moldy fruit”
Reluctant readers will also find Rhyme Schemer easy to read. At the end, I was not ready to stop reading. I wanted more. There are no unanswered questions, no threads laying in wait for a resolution; I simply want to read more of Kevin’s poetry. Rhyme Schemer is one of those rare books that stay with you, long after the last page flips over. I hope to read Kevin’s eighth grade notebook.
RHYME SCHEMER. Text copyright © 214 by K. A. Holt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Read a excerpt of Rhyme Schemer HERE (no cost)
Buy Rhyme Schemer at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Chronicle Books—your favorite bookstore.
Learn more about Rhyme Schemer HERE
Meet the author, K. A. Holt, at her website: http://kaholt.com/books/
Find more middle grade books at the Chronicle Books website: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Also by K. A. Holt
Coming Fall 2015 – House Arrest – Chronicle Books
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
I really like the author information on the back inside book jacket.
“K. A. Holt is a writer
a bad (but fearless) cook.
She has written three
books for kids.
She shelved books
in the library
during grade school.
Ms. Holt claims
she never had a detention.
Believe what you want.”
by William Bee
Peachtree Publishing 9/01/2014
Age 3 to 8 32 pages
“Stanley is working at his garage today. From filling up Hattie’s red sports car with gas to changing the tire on Shamus and Little Woo’s blue car, it sure is a busy day. As his friends each come in with their car problems, Stanley knows just what to do to get them back on the road.”
“This is Stanley’s Garage. Who will drive in today?”
Stanley the hamster owns a garage and a green tow truck. He spends the day helping his friends. Hattie needs gas in her car, and, like the days of old, Stanley pumps the gas for her. I love her red sports car. Shamu’s car has a flat tire. While Shamu and Little Woo’s car has a flat tire, Charlie’s car is overheated, and Myrtle, in her purple car, needs towed back to Stanley’s garage. All day Stanley fixes auto problems. It’s a lot of work for one day. Stanley, smudged in black oil spots, walks home. He takes a bath, eats his supper, and heads to bed ready for tomorrow. What job will Stanley take on tomorrow? Will he be a chef at his own diner, or maybe the farmer that grows the food?
Young boys will love the Stanley’s Garage. Stanley does a variety of jobs, all to help his friends. Young boys, and some girls, will enjoy Stanley in his new business. In his garage, Stanley works alone, unlike as a builder with Charlie. The illustrations are basic with large, easy to recognize shapes, separated by solid black lines, which help deepen the colors and drawing one’s attention. The colors are basic primary and secondary colors. Kids should be able to recognize each color, and he basic shapes that compose the items in Stanley’s world, if asked.
I love this clean presentation. The white background helps keep the eyes focused on the illustrations. I like watching Stanley helping his friends and I really wish, like Stanley, garages with gas pumps still pumped the gas for customers. What else has changed that kids might recognize? The text is simple with a few complex words related to automobiles. These words are: radiator, overheating, jacks, tow (no, not toe), and oily. Boys and girls will have a new vocabulary to use when playing with their toy cars.
Young children will enjoy learning about the jobs Stanley takes on in this series. Along with building a house and running a garage, Stanley will be a chef in his own cafe, and grow food as a farmer. What other jobs Stanley might take on in the future is anyone’s guess. After reading Stanley’s Garage, young children will wonder why mom and dad pump their own gas. Stanley’s Garage can help prepare for kindergarten, as they learn the colors, shapes, and new words in each story.
The Stanley books are also a great choice for story-time. The illustrations, thanks to those black lines, are easy to see from a short distance. Stanley has more adventures on the way. Young children will eagerly await each new addition. Next, Stanley runs a cafe and then becomes a farmer.
STANLEY’S GARAGE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by William Bee. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishing.
Review is HERE
Learn more about Stanley and his series HERE
Check out William Bee’s fantastic blog: http://williambee.blogspot.com/
Also by William Bee
Migloo’s Day – March 24, 2015
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Peachtree Publishing Book Blog Tour
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Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Reluctant Readers, Series Tagged: automobiles, children's book reviews, jobs, Peachtree Publishers, picture books, Stanley the Builder, Stanley the Farmer, Stanley's Cafe, Stanley's Garage, William Bee
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