from the book blurb:
Written by F. C. Shaw
Future House Publishing 3/16/2015*
214 pages Age 8—12
“Teachers in disguise. Secret libraries, hollow books . . . All these and more await eleven-year-old Rollie Wilson at the mysterious Academy of Fine Sleuths. When Rollie and his best friend, Cecily, are invited to attend a school where children learn the art of detection just like the great Sherlock Holmes, they discover a strange burglary has been committed and a mystery is a foot. Determined to investigate, Rollie discovers that appearances can be deceiving, the truth can be hurtful, and friends sometimes turn into foes. Does Rollie have what it takers to follow in Holmes footsteps? Can he use his skills to solve the mystery and save the school from an unknown villain?”
Rollie Wilson is the middle child of five and the only non-twin. That makes it difficult for Rollie to gain his family’s attention; even Great Auntie Ei, who shows Rollie both attention and affection, finds herself preoccupied with Herr Zilch , a mastermind thief who continues to allude Scotland Yard. But when an invitation arrives for Rollie, the entire family is interested.
“Rollie E. Wilson:
“It is our pleasure to inform you of your eligibility for the Sherlock Holmes Academy of Fine Sleuths. We believe you possess the qualities we seek in fine students . . . bring only the following item [to orientation]: your favorite book.”
Rollie’s best friend, Cecily, also receives an invitation, and both are admitted, each taking their favorite Sherlock Holmes book, which is placed into a strange library by staff. To get their book back, students must figure out how the library shelves work. No student has ever figured the out the secret or retrieved their book. Rollie intends to be the first, but is interrupted. Someone has broken into the library, for what no one knows—or is saying. Deciphering all the secrets (library, teachers,and other characters), will put Rollie and his family into grave danger.
Sherlock Academy will not only entertain readers, it might just encourage kids to learn about codes—explained well in the story—or to simply pick up a Sherlock Holmes story for the first time. The characters are will developed. Rollie and his best buddy Cecily solve most every question by asking themselves five basic questions about the problem or situation at hand: Who? What? Why?, When? and How?
Rollie and Cecily have been neighborhood detectives for quite sometime, often using binoculars to spy on Mr. Crenshaw, Rollie’s next-door neighbor. Crenshaw enjoys this sleuthing, often waving back or inviting the two junior sleuths in for tea and sending Auntie Ei chocolates (which she loves). Careful observation will glean that Crenshaw’s activities are the first of many clues that somethings are not always what they seem to be.
My only negative, to me, was how easy it is to figure out where Auntie Ei’s nemesis, Herr Zilch, is hiding between criminal acts, though his plans took me by surprised. There are several characters with secrets, including the eighty-year-old aunt, which are not evident until the end. The author does a great job of teasing the reader and then sending them in a new direction, once again confusing things. Rollie, being good detective—with his Watson (Cecily)—figures out most mysteries, but has a final surprise that leads him, and readers, to book 2.
This is year one for Rollie and Cecily at Sherlock Academy. What will Shaw put them in the middle of during year two is something I cannot wait to discover. Sherlock Academy is a wonderful mystery even younger kids can enjoy. There are a few detective terms that might send them to a dictionary (always a good thing), but over all. Sherlock Academy, with its well-written story, will keep readers turning the pages and entertaining them until the very mysterious end. Herr Zilch should return as Rollie’s nemesis, as will the teachers, plus probably one new goofball to replace the one that leaves. If you like mysteries, if you like Sherlock Holmes, if you like relatively fast reads with well-kept secrets and a nice flow, well, then Sherlock Academy is the new series for you. Enjoy!
SHERLOCK ACADEMY. Text copyright © 2015 by F. C. Shaw. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Future House Publishing, Orem, UT.
*First published on July 31, 2009
Purchase Sherlock Academy at Amazon—Book Depository.
Learn more Sherlock Academy HERE.
Meet the author, F. C. Shaw, at her website: www.sherlockacademy.com
Find other middle grade novels at the Future House Publishing website: www.futurehousepublishing.com
X. . . . . . . F
Full Disclosure: Sherlock Academy, by F. C. Shaw, and received from Future House Publishing, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed belong to Kid Lit Reviews and no one else’s. This is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16CRF, Part 255: Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
It’s summer vacation time for BT and his mom. They are going to visit BT’s grandmother, Abuela in Spanish, at her farm in Peru and this time Jack, BT’s guinea pig, gets to go with them.Add a Comment
I love sharing poems with kids that create a sense of motion and play through the way they twist words, create movement and bounce to their own rhythm. Newbery winning author Kwame Alexander called basketball "poetry in motion", and today I'd like to flip that metaphor around to celebrate two collections that celebrate sports with poetry in motion.
Good SportsPrelutsky celebrates sports from baseball to soccer to gymnastics, gleefully swinging and catapulting through motion and emotions that will resonate with kids. They'll love his playful rhymes, and they will connect with the way these short untitled poems can get to the heart of how they feel.
by Jack Prelutsky
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Knopf / Random House, 2007
Your local library
"I'm at the foul line, and I betShare these short poems with kids and ask what they notice -- do they like the rhythm and rhyming of the first two lines, or maybe the use of the "s" sounds (alliteration) in the last line, emphasizing the sound of SWISH of the basketball. Rashka's illustrations are loose and impressionistic, especially appealing to 3rd through 5th graders because they don't feel too young. I love how he incorporates diverse kids throughout--the player making the shot above has long wavy red hair, maybe a girl or maybe a boy.
The ball will go right through the net.
I'm certain I will sink this shot,
For I've been practicing a lot.
I concentrate, then let it go...
I know it's good--I know, I know.
It makes an arc, I make a wish,
Then hear the soft, sweet sound of SWISH!"
A Stick is an Excellent ThingKids will love the way these short poems celebrate all types of playing outside, whether it's balancing on the curb, running through a sprinkler, making stone soup with friends. Use these poems to make kids smile and also use them to show how poetry can create a freeze frame, its own small moment. Here's one that my students will definitely relate to:
Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play
by Marilyn Singer
illustrations by LeUyen Pham
Clarion / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012
Your local library
EdgesPham's illustrations are full of bouncing, running, smiling kids, in both city and suburban scenes. Kids are playing in large and small groups--I love how she shows how much kids like to play together. Her kids are modern and multicultural, and full of smiles on every page. My older students will relate to Singer's poems, but the illustrations make this collection best suited for younger kids.
I like to walk the edges--
the curbs, the rims, the little ledges.
I am careful not to tilt,
to stumble, lump or wilt.
I pay attention to my feet
so that every step is neat.
I am dancing in the air
but I never leave the street.
James Patterson's middle school novels are a huge hit at Emerson--kids find them funny, relatable, and engaging. Patterson has long been committed to inspiring kids to read -- I'm a big fan of his Read, Kiddo, Read website and the way he uses his notoriety and success to champion all sorts of reading for kids.
"Here's a simple but powerful truth that many parents and schools don't act on: the more kids read, the better readers they become. The best way to get kids reading more is to give them books they'll gobble up... Freedom of choice is a key to getting them motivated and excited."Patterson has just announced a tremendous opportunity he's offering to schools across the US: he's pledged $1.5 million to give to school libraries through a partnership with Scholastic. Please share this news with your school librarians, principals and teachers!
We Can Get Our Kids Reading
by James Patterson
Public School SuperheroPublisher summary: Kenny Wright is a kid with a secret identity. In his mind, he's Stainlezz Steel, super-powered defender of the weak. In reality, he's a chess club devotee known as a "Grandma's Boy," a label that makes him an easy target for bullies. Kenny wants to bring a little more Steel to the real world, but the question is: can he recognize his own true strength before peer pressure forces him to make the worst choice of his life?
by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts
illustrations by Cory Thomas
Little, Brown, 2015
read chapters 1-5 online
Your local library
Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
Written by Dale Kutzera
Illustrated by Joemel Requeza
Salmon Bay Books 10/6/2014
285 pages Age 8 to 12
“Andy McBean is struggling to survive Middle School in the soggy hills of the Pacific Northwest. He’s messy, fearful of bullies, and hates the rain. And spending much of the last year in the hospital battling leukemia hasn’t helped. Then one night a meteor storm devastates the county, cutting off power and communications. One giant boulder skids to a halt right on Andy’s front lawn. The glowing meteor draws the attention of neighbors, the media, the army, and even the new girl from Andy’s art class. He is thrilled at the notoriety, but everything changes when the meteor cracks opens and a towering machine steps out. Separated from his family, Andy must fend for himself and rescue his friends. Join Andy on this thrilling adventure as he meets an alien, learns what they want on planet earth, and devises a bold plan to stop them.”
Andy wakes one morning to find an alien pod on his front lawn. Mom’s roses are ruined. The aliens are here to collect—using a Vaporizer—all the water found on Earth, including that of humans, who are more than 60% water. These creatures travel the universe harvesting water from planets without significant life. The “Big Heads,” who bark the orders, make a decision: humans are not significant. Large tripod machines crush homes and businesses with grabbers capable of sweeping up people and holding them in a cage, until it is time to vaporize them for their watery bodies.
Andy gets away and rescues Charlie from her ruined home and then his best friend Hector. They avoid the large, bulky “Thugs,” who bully the worker aliens until they obey the Big Heads’ commands, and the crushing arms of the grabbers. Andy befriends a worker alien by the name of Been’Tok. Been’Tok, Andy, Hector, Charlie, and Andy’s dad plan to shut down the vaporizer, free the hostages, and send the aliens back to where they came from. But can an eight-year-old boy, recently recovered from bouts of leukemia treatment, save his world?
Inspired by War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds actually brings the aliens to Earth. The action is fast. Andy and his friends are easy to like and fun to watch as they travel by foot. The story is believable, though Andy has several lucky escapes from the aliens (great fun!). Been’Tok is a cute, three-eyed monster with a heart and soul. He loves collecting the odd artifacts he finds while vaporizing various planets for the water his planet desperately needs. He disagrees with his commander, believing humans are significant, especially after Andy saves his life.
The cuteness of Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds reminded me of E. T., even though the two are different types of stories. Until the end, it is not clear whether Been’Tok wants to return home. He enjoys the company of Andy and his friends. The communication barriers make for some delightful scenes as Been’Tok tries to learn Andy’s language. World leaders and military might around the world meeting Been’Tok is funny. Unfortunately, there are several typos throughout the book, but I could actually ignore them—a first—thanks to the intense story that held my interest (though that does not excuse the sloppy editing). Black and white illustrations enhance the story.
Middle grade kids, especially boys, will love the world Kutzera created. The three-tiered aliens can be humorous and dangerous at the same time. Readers will find several surprises along the way and a happy conclusion. Andy is a terrific character from his loyalty to his best friend Hector, his desire to impress Charlie—the new girl at school—and his valiant attempts to move past his illness, despite his parents’ fears and coddling. Will Andy McBean have future adventures?* If he does, I hope Been’Tok finds a way to join him.
ANDY MCBEAN AND THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Text copyright © 2014 by Dale Kutzera. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Joemel Requeza. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Salmon Bay Books, Seattle, WA.
*Series: The Amazing Adventures of Andy McBean
. . . . . . . #2: Andy McBean 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea released 12/29/2014
Purchase Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds at Amazon—B&N—Smashwords.
Learn more about Andy McBean and the War of the Worlds HERE.
Meet the author, Dale Kutzera at his website: http://dalekutzera.com/
Meet the illustrator, Joemel Requeza, at his website:
Find Salmon Bay Books here:
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School…
Written by Davide Cali
Illustrations by Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books 3/3/2015
40 pages Age 8 to 12
“EXCUSES, EXCUSES! Or are they? First, some giant ants steal breakfast. Then there are the evil ninjas, massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest? From “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .” author/illustrator team Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud comes a fast-paced, action-packed, laugh-out-loud story about finding your way to school despite the odds—and unbelievable oddness!”
In the same style as I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . (HERE), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . contains hilarious excuses why this young boy is late for school. Will the teacher believe these excuses any more than she believed why he did not do his homework? Will you believe?
Would you believe the boy missed breakfast because giant ants stole it from him? Would you believe a huge—and I mean HUGE—ape mistook the school bus for a banana? Would you believe the boy meet a girl wearing a red coat and needing help finding her grandmother’s house in the woods? No?
The illustrations are great. The title page shows the first book lying on the floor, open as if the boy had been reading it the night before. The clock shows he is late, as does the look on his dog’s face. There are so many little details on each page it could take you a long time to finish this quick read. If you have read Farewell Floppy (reviewed soon) The Bear’s Song (HERE), or Bear’s Sea Escape (HERE), you will instantly recognize Chaud’s distinctive style.
The excuses may be wild but the young boy actually makes it to school on time . . . then realizes he forgot his backpack (with his homework inside). I love this reference to I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., which brings the two books full circle. I hope that does not mean this is the end of the line for the young boy, his imagination—or is it real—and the teacher who patiently listens to the young boy’s story.
This is hilarious and kids of all ages will appreciate the young boy trying in vain to get to school on time. Along the way, look out for the Little Red Riding Hood, the Pied Piper, falling—rather grabbed by mole people—into a sewer hole ala Alice in Wonderland, the Gingerbread House, Bigfoot, and Yeti. Of course, there is a fabulous twist and a most humorous ending befitting the young boy’s trouble getting to school. If you liked I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . ., you will love A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . .Together, the two books make a great double-tale of middle grade woe.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL . . . Text copyright © 2015 by Davide Cali. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Benjamin Chaud. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
(CHeck this out!) BEHIND THE SCENES: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL…
Learn more about A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . HERE.
Meet the author, Davide Cali, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Davide-Cali/164285603678359?
Meet the illustrator, Benjamin Chaud, at his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.chaud.1
Find great books at the Chronicle Books website: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
Series: Wearable Books
Written by Donald Lemke
Illustrated by Bob Lentz
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
12 pages Size: 8” x 8” Age 1 to 6
“Fun interactive board book that children and adults can wear like masks, allowing for make-believe games and hilarious snapshot moments! With catchy rhymes, colorful illustrations, and interactive dialogue, everyone will enjoy this laugh-pout-load read-along.” [catalog]
New for 2015, Book-O-Beards allows young children to become a lumberjack—TIMBER!—a pirate—ARRRG!—a cowboy—YEEHAW!—a sailor—ANCHORS AWEIGH!—a police officer—You’re under ARREST!—or Santa—HO, HO, HO! The Book-O-Beards helps young children role-play different personas as they try these full-spread, fully bushy beards. Read the rhyming text, and then try one on..
“This orange beard
is softer than fur. I
In a deep voice
shout out, ‘TIMBER!’”
While the Book-O-Beards will appeal more to young boys, girls can certainly use this imaginative interactive board book. Made of heavy cardboard, the Book-O-Beards will stand-up to many hours of play. Young children love to play make-believe. The Wearable Books series lets kids try on teeth, hats, masks, and beards, all the while producing giggles. The love of reading can begin with one spark from these unusual dual-fun books.
BOOK-O-BEARDS (A WEARABLE BOOK). Text copyright © 2015 by Donald Lemke. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Bob Lentz. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, an imprint of Capstone, North Manakato, MN.
Purchase Book-O-Beards at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Capstone.
Learn more about Book-O-Beards HERE.
Meet the author, Donald Lemke, at his bio box: http://www.capstonepub.com/library/authors/lemke-donald/
Meet the illustrator, Bob Lentz, at his website:
Find more interactive fun at the Capstone website: http://www.capstonepub.com/
Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone Imprint.
Also available in the Wearable Books series.
When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses
Written by Rebecca L. Johnson
Millbrook Press 9/1/2015
Nonfiction Picture Book
48 pages Age 9 to 14
“In nature, good defenses can mean the difference between surviving a predator’s attack and becoming its lunch. Some animals rely on sharp teeth and claws or camouflage. But that’s only the beginning. Meet creatures with some of the strangest defenses known to science. How strange? Hagfish that can instantaneously produce oodles of gooey, slippery slime; frogs that poke their own toe bones through their skin to create claws; young birds that shoot streams of stinking poop; and more.” [book jacket]
“On Earth the challenge of survival is a real and serious business. In the wild, every living thing is constantly at risk of being eaten by something else.”
Life is a bed of strange abilities as explored in When Lunch Fights Back. These animals—and one plant—have incredible defense mechanisms. You will wonder what other odd defense mechanisms other animals might possess. I do. It also made me wonder why humans have limited natural defense abilities. Hitting, screaming, and kicking are all fine defenses, but wouldn’t it be fantastic to have some of these abilities.
1. Cover your predator with thick, slimy, goo. (Atlantic Hagfish)
2. Extend your fingers so the bones protrude through the skin like sharp claws. (African Hairy Frog)
3. Bulge out your eyes and shoot a deadly stream of blood into a predator’s mouth. (Texas Horned Lizard)
Stuff of science fiction? Nope. When Lunch Fights Back contains animals with these abilities and much more. This nonfiction picture book for older kids is a fascinating read. There is enough “yuck” to entertain kids and the author supplies the science behind those incredible abilities, making this a great adjunct text for science teachers. Author notes, a glossary, index, bibliography, and extra resources are included.
Johnson writes in a manner that should be accessible to most middle grade aged kids. She introduces researchers and scientist in the “Science Behind the Story” sections. There is so much to learn and see it just might develop a child’s interest in the natural word. If the title does not peak a child’s interest, the images will. The color photographs highlight the noxious defenses and info-boxes give additional information about each animal (scientific name, location, habitat, and size).
Still, would it not be terrific if humans could spew putrid contents at a predator, much like a fulmar? Or, and this is a tad gross, turn our other check and “shoot streams of foul-smelling feces” at an attacker, much like a hoopoe chick can do? If you had the ability to slime an attacker, like the hagfish (aka “snot eel”), I doubt anyone would mess with you.
When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses is an amazing look into some crazy species. Kids will love this book and teachers can use that interest to bring out the zoologist, biologist, or naturalist in her (or his) students. While a tad gross, and most definitely with a yuck value of 9, kids will enjoy When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses. This kid did!
WHEN LUNCH FIGHTS BACK: WICKEDLY CLEVER ANIMA DEFENSES. Text copyright © 2015 by Rebecca L. Johnson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
Purchase When Lunch Fights Back at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Lerner Books.
Learn more about When Lunch Fights Back HERE.
Meet the author, Rebecca L Johnson, at her website: http://www.rebeccajohnsonbooks.com/
Find more MG Nonfiction at the Lerner Publishing Group website: https://www.lernerbooks.com/
Lug, Dawn of the Ice Age
. . . . .(How One Small Boy Saved Our Big, Dumb Species)
Written by David Zeltser
Illustrations by Jan Gerardi
Egmont USA 2014
190 pages Age 8 to 12
“In Lug’s Stone Age clan, a caveboy becomes a caveman by catching a jungle llama and riding it against the rival Boar Rider clan in the Big Game. The thing is, Lug has a forbidden, secret art cave and would rather paint than smash skulls. Because Lug is different, his clan’s Big Man is out to get him, he’s got a pair of bullies on his case—oh, and the Ice Age is coming. When Lug is banished from the clan for failing to catch jungle llama, he’s forced to team up with Stony, a silent Neanderthal with a very expressive unibrow, and Echo (a Boar Rider girl!). In a world experiencing some serious global cooling, these misfits must protect their feuding clans from the impending freeze and a particularly unpleasant pride of migrating saber-toothed tigers.” [book jacket]
About the Story
The clan has broken into two factions, the Macrauchenia Riders and the Boar Riders. Each clan believes the other are uncivilized—without laws, few table manners, and possibly cannibals—yet each clan is living exactly like the other clan lives. The two only get together for the Big Game, called Headstone, where, using stones, they bash in opponents’ heads. To become cavemen, caveboys must catch an animal to ride in the Big Game.
Lug, a smaller caveboy, is the outsider, the one the bullies and their cohorts pick on. He has no interest in Headstone. Lug simply wants to draw, something not understood by others. He fails to catch a llama and is banished to the woods, along with Stone, who also failed. The hot and humid weather is getting colder, something Lug notices but others brush off. The Ice Age is on its way and no one will listen, except Crazy Crag—banished years ago—and Hamela (aka Echo), a Boar Rider girl. To make matters worse, a pride of hungry saber-toothed tigers is migrating south and heading for the clans—and a meal of cave-people-steak. The cave kids try to save their people with the help of Woolly, a baby woolly mammoth, lost from its family, who can communicate with Echo. Living alone in the woods, Crazy Crag has figured out a few things. Can Lug learn Crazy Crag’s secret in time to save the clans people, or will they become extinct?
LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age has all the elements of a book: fast-paced action, suspense, and good characters the reader can relate to and enjoy. Written for middle grade kids, younger advanced readers will also enjoy LUG’s charm. I like the cover and the illustrations, which are black-and-white cave-like drawings, slanted enough to often be funny. The story itself has kid-funny action and characters. Reading it will make you laugh and sometimes groan at the word play, (Headstone; Smilus, the ruthless head saber-tooth tiger; Bonehead, the Big Man’s son).
I love the curly-haired Echo, who is an activist and a vegetarian, possibly the world’s first. I also loved the coming of the Ice Age’s parallel to today’s climate crisis. LUG might make kids more aware of their own climate changing. Lug agrees, writing in a pre-story note,
“. . . You see, the world began to get colder—much colder. And my clan initially reacted by doing this:
“That’s right, a whole lot of NOTHING . . . I hope this story will inspire you to pay attention to the big changes happening to your world. If you are extinct, sorry.”
There are no prehistoric dinosaurs, but the animals you will find have interesting qualities, including finding a way to talk to humans. More than anything, I like LUG because it is a good story. If cave kids could read, they would have enjoyed LUG.
Lug returns for more prehistoric climate-change adventures this Fall (2015) in LUG: Blast from the North (working title). LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age is David Zeltser’s debut children’s series. (20% of proceeds go to organizations that help children and families in need.)
LUG: DAWN OF THE ICE AGE (HOW ONE SMALL BOY SAVED OUR BIG DUMB SPECIES). Text copyright © 2014 by David Zeltser. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jan Gerardi. Published in 2014 by Egmont USA, New York, NY.
Purchase LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age at Amazon—iTunes—Book Depository—Egmont USA.
Learn more about LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age HERE.
Meet the author, David Zeltser, at his website: http://www.davidzeltser.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jan Gerardi, short bio: http://bit.ly/19Z1Vh3
Find more Middle Grade Books at the Egmont USA website: http://egmontusa.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Alien Dude! #2: Mr. Evil Potato Man and the Food Fight!
Written by E. K. Smith
Illustrated by Peter Grosshauser
Zip Line Publishing 9/27/2014
64 pages Age 7—9
“When the villain Mr. Evil Potato Man puts a spell on the school food, students start turning into food and a huge food fight erupts. Alien Dude morphs into a peeler and peels, then fries the giant potato. Once the fries are eaten, the spell is broken.” [publisher summary]
Alien Dude is an early reader for reluctant readers. Aimed at boys (and girls who enjoy alien superheroes), Alien Dude is an enjoyable story about a little alien-student. As Alien Dude sits, quietly working on his lessons, the lunch bell rings. He flies off to the cafeteria, but a quiet lunch will not last long. As kids eat, they start turning into items of food. Pizza, hot dogs, ice cream, and a hamburger with all the works begin popping up at lunch tables. Veggies, too. What in the name of popcorn is going on?
Alien Dude realizes the EVIL Mr. Evil Potato Man has caused the chaos. Alien Dude jumps onto his table and yells,
“Don’t eat the school food! He put a spell on the food.”
Then Mr. Evil Potato Man—the villain—yells . . .
Can you guess what he yells?
The grey-scale illustrations show kids morphing into food. I would have preferred color interior illustrations. Grosshauser’s ability shines on the covers; a marvelous sight sure to catch passing eyes. The cover also masks the simplicity of the story inside. Young boys—and girls—will not be ashamed to read Alien Dude. a story geared toward reading ability, not the reader’s age. The three chapters are composed of one or two sentences per page, with large illustrated characters. Smith repeats words and simple sentence structures to build reluctant readers’ ability and love of reading.
Alien Dude has special powers, as all superheroes should possess. He can fly, fr course, but the little alien can also morph into any working object of his choice. To defeat Mr. Evil Potato Man, Alien Dude morphs into a potato peeler, following up with a slicer, and finally a fryer. Still, the spell . . . Alien Dude disposed of the villain, but the kids, they’re still cafeteria food.
Young children will enjoy the cafeteria humor and the unusual ending. However, I wonder why Alien Dude flies off rather than finish his school day. Maybe this Alien Dude’s reward for cooking the villain’s goose, so to speak. Alien Dude is a series. Book 1: Alien Dude! and the Attack of Wormzilla!! is also available. I enjoyed Alien Dude and think young children will also like the school age alien. He could be sitting next to them right now.
ALIEN DUDE!: MR. EVIL POTATO MAN AND THE FOOD FIGHT! Text copyright © 2014 by E. K. Smith. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Peter Grosshauser. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Zip Line Publishing, Charlotte, NC.
Purchase Alien Dude! at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Zip Line Publishing.
Learn more about Alien Dude! HERE.
Meet the author, E. K. Smith, at her linkedin: http://linkd.in/1CvjTyw
Meet the illustrator, Peter Grosshauser, at his short bio: http://bit.ly/1FdmW5y
Find more reluctant readers at the Zip Line Publishing website: http://zipintoreading.com/
Stella by Starlight, by esteemed storyteller Sharon M. Draper, is a poignant novel that beautifully captures the depth and complexities within individuals, a community, and society in 1932, an era when segregation and poverty is at the forefront.Add a Comment
February is African American History Month. Sharing these books with young readers comes with the responsibility to discuss ... progress towards equality.Add a Comment
These books, guides, and cards offer interesting trivia and facts, engaging formats, and lively illustrations; a perfect combination to pique interest for hours of casual reading, followed by days of reciting trivia, and hopefully, years of knowledge about these important people in American history.Add a Comment
Kat Spears debut novel is, quite simply, a delight. It has all the ingredients for an engaging and witty read, laced with honesty and insight that’s refreshingly real.Add a Comment
Cory Putman Oakes is a children’s book author from Austin, Texas. Her middle grade debut, DINOSAUR BOY, hits shelves in February, 2015 with its sequel, DINOSAUR BOY SAVES MARS, to follow in February, 2016.Add a Comment
Lisa Doan | The Children’s Book Review | March 6, 2015 When I began writing The Berenson Schemes, a middle grade series in which responsible Jack Berenson is repeatedly lost in the wilderness of foreign countries by his globe-trotting parents, I gave some careful thought to creating the settings. The books take place in the Caribbean, Kenya and […]Add a Comment
Art activity books can serve as a wonderful meditative tool to help reduce stress, refocus and recharge the brain, and spark inspiration.Add a Comment
Bigfoot is Missing!
J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt (Children’s Poet Laureates, past and present)
Illustrated by MinaLima (Miraphora Mina & Eduardo Lima)
Chronicle Books 4/1/2015
40 pages Ages 7+
“What beast stalks the dim northern forests?
What horror tunnels under the sands of the desert?
What monster lies in wait beneath murky lake water?
“Bigfoot, the Mongolian Death Worm, the Loch Ness Monster—these and many more creatures lurk within these pages. Are they animals yet discovered? Are they figments of imagination? Only eerie whispers and sinister rumors give us hints at the truth.
“Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis (2011-2013) and Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt (2013-2015) team up to offer a tour of the creatures of shadowy myth and fearsome legend—the enticing, the humorous, and the strange.”
“CRYPTOZOOLOGY is the study of hidden animals, or those whose real existence has not yet been proven.”
Have you ever wondered about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, or any other cryptid? If so, then this interesting picture book is for you, regardless of age. Is this nonfiction or fiction? That will depend on whether you believe any of these extremely unusual creatures are real, or from the imagination.
I do love the layout of the book. Reading feels like a world tour of the odd. You must look everywhere to find the poems: missing posters, park signs, classified ads, and on plastic bottles stuck in the mud of a swamp. Immediately, you will realize an ingenious poet—uh, two ingenious poets—wrote Bigfoot is Missing .
Kids will enjoy this book, especially if they like the weird and unusual. The illustrations are colorful renderings of the cryptid’s home, be it park, ocean, or roaming the United States. Despite the subject matter, not a single scary page or poem exists in this kid-friendly picture book. Bigfoot is Missing is a great choice for April Poetry Month. For those unsure what to believe, the authors included a short descriptive history of each creature. Chronicle Books offers a teacher’s guide, in line with several common core areas.*
BIGFOOT IS MISSING. Text copyright © 2015 by J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt. Illustrations copyright (2015) by MinaLima. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Purchase Bigfoot is Missing at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Chronicle Books.
Learn more about Bigfoot is Missing HERE. (check it out!)
Meet the former Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, at his website: http://www.jpatricklewis.com/
Meet the current Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt, at his website: http://www.poetry4kids.com/
Meet the illustrators, MinaLima, at their website: http://www.minalima.com/
Find more picture books that are wonderful at the Chronicle Books website: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
*“Correlates to Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards: Comprehension and Collaboration, 2-5.2; Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas, 2-5.4, 2-5.5; Reading Standards for Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, 2-5.7” (from Chronicle Books Poetry Picture Books teacher’s guide)
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
A funny, one-word-at-a-time story, about cavemen, dinosaurs, and the alphabet.Add a Comment
My sweet little boys somehow grew into teenagers, so we have to take a trip back in time to talk about the five books that are special to my family ... Read the rest of this postAdd a Comment
Seven Wonders: Book 3: The Tomb of Shadows, by Peter Lerangis will appeal to tweens and teens who like lots of action and danger in their stories and who are curious about ancient history.Add a Comment
We’re the Center of the Universe!: Science’s Biggest Mistakes About Astronomy and Physics
Series: Science Gets It Wrong
Written by Christine Zuchora-Walske
Lerner Publishing Group 9/1/2014
32 pages Age 9 to 12
“The universe circles around Earth.
Creatures live on the Sun.
You can tell the future by looking at the Stars.
At one time, science supported wild notions like these! But later studies proved these ideas were nonsense. Discover science’s biggest mistakes and oddest assumptions about physics and astronomy, and see how scientific thought changes over time.”
Why is Pluto no longer a planet? What makes waves ebb and flow as they do? How did the universe begin? We’re the Center of the Universe will answer these questions and many more in this truly fascinating read. Even non-science buffs will find We’re the Center of the Universe interesting.
We’re the Center of the Universe packs a wild punch. Kids can learn about some of the greatest thinkers and scientists throughout history, and how their thoughts and postulates—once considered true—are now terribly off base. The physical sciences change with time. New information and tools improve research. New scientists bring new ideas. We’re the Center of the Universe will have kids laughing—and thinking—about the beliefs people once held, but as the author states,
“. . . in the future, people might think our scientific ideas are pretty goofy too!”
I loved the book and found it difficult to put down. Well-written and well-researched, kids will be drawn into to this primer on the misconceptions regarding our world and universe, specifically in the areas of physics and astronomy. The illustrations and photographs are fantastic and teachers can quickly incorporate We’re the Center of the Universe into the Common Core requirements.
Ms. Christine Zuchora-Walske knows how to write non-fiction for children. We’re the Center of the Universe is not a dry textbook, but rather a great adjunct text, a quick reference, and a fun read. In the resources section, she thoughtfully summarizes each book and website so readers can quickly find more information about whatever sparked their interest.
From ancient times to modern times, science continues to change and, sometimes, old ideas and thoughts are simply funny or just odd. Kids will find much to laugh about and learn inside the covers of We’re the Center of the Universe.
WE’RE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! : SCIENCE’S BIGGEST MISTAKES ABOUT ASTRONOMY AND PHYSICS (SCIENCE GETS IT WRONG). Text copyright © 2014 by Christine Zuchora-Walske. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, MN.
Learn more about We’re the Center of the Universe! HERE.
Purchase We’re the Center of the Universe! at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Lerner Publishing Group.
Meet the author, Christine Zuchora-Walske at her Lerner bio: https://www.lernerbooks.com/contacts/987/Christine-Zuchora-Walske
View Christine Zuchora-Walske’s linkedin page: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/christine-zuchora-walske/5/998/847
Find more from the Science Gets it Wrong series at the Lerner Publishing website: https://www.lernerbooks.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
Written and illustrated by Caroline Merola
Owlkids Books 9/15/2014
40 pages Age 4 to 8
“Little Wolf wants to do things his way. And that includes starting HIS story from the back of the book. But Little Wolf’s topsy-turvy day gets a unexpected twist when someone else decides to join in on the fun.
Play along as Little Wolf turns the picture book on its head!”
Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.
Oh, wait! I forgot to tell you a very important thing—The Story Starts Here has the ending at the beginning and the beginning at the end. So flip the book around and upside down, and then open the back “front” cover. Ready?
Little Wolf is one stubborn little guy.
“Because I said so.”
He wants things his way, including with you; you are reading his book upside down and backwards. Little Wolf eats dessert first, puts his pants on his head, and plays piano with his toes. Little Wolf declares today is backward day to his unwilling and objecting parents.
“No, you will not begin with dessert.”
“No, you will not play piano with your toes!”
Sent to his room to think about his contrary behavior, Little Wolf sneaks outside (with his pants still fashionably atop his head). Outside, all the creatures are quickly running away from something. Little Wolf turns around and finds he is face-to-face with a monster. The Story Starts Here had me laughing from the get go at Little Wolf and his backward antics. Little Wolf playing the piano and wearing his trousers’ on his head is hilarious, but not as much as the twist. The monster is feeling a bit topsy-turvy itself. “It” explains this to Little Wolf, who seems to understand . . . until the monster tells Little Wolf to flip the book back over.
Oh, wait! I forgot again. Keep the book open and flip back over so the beginning is the beginning and the end is the end. Now we can finish the story.
Despite the funny goings on the story could be better. Little Wolf is the same stubborn wolf as he was at page . . . the beginning of the story. He does not even think the twist is funny. (Spoilt sport, he is!) I really like The Story Starts Here and the concept of an upside day. Feeling a little off is a good time to mix things up. Good thing dad understands his son.
I love “Dad Books.” The Story Starts Here will entertain fathers and sons, making a great reading experience for both. Little Wolf is generic and so can be any child; dad can be any father. Kids will love the craziness of flipping and reading backward, then suddenly flipping back. It is one more way to engage and interest them in reading. Kids will also love the surprise ending (a new fashion, which had me laughing, is born). If the book does not make you dizzy—it will not—you and your child will enjoy a funny story and a great lead into a discussion on how sometimes a story—or the world—has more than one view.
THE STORY STARTS HERE! Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Caroline Merola. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkely, CA.
Purchase The Story Starts Here at Amazon—B&N—Book Depository—Owlkids Books
Learn more about The Story Starts Here HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Caroline Merola, at her website: http://www.carolinemerola.com/
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website: https://store.owlkids.com