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1. #718 – Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bildner & John Parra

cover
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Written by Phil Bildner
Illustrated by John Parra
Chronicle Books      8/04/2015
978-1-4521-2578-7
44 pages     Age 3—5

“In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along—The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm bigger than anyone had seen before. Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspirational story of a humble man, and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” [inside jacket]

Review
Marvelous Cornelius, the person, embodies the best of us. Day-to-day he performed his job—one many would consider unglamorous—with dignity, enthusiasm, and a spirit of giving to those he served. People responded positively to this larger-than-life man. Kids enjoyed his spirited antics. When disaster struck in the name of Hurricane Katrina, this French Quarter-New Orléans resident went to work cleaning up his city with the same joyousness as before, only this time, the residents responded not only with enjoyment to see their local “hero,” but pitched in following his lead. Together—including many volunteers from outside of New Orléans—Marvelous Cornelius led his neighbors in cleaning up their beloved city. Just as he did on his daily job, Marvelous Cornelius helped keep New Orléans clean, for he was a garbage man by trade; garbage man extraordinaire.

s2With the use of many writing techniques—alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration—author Bildner keeps the story lively. Children will enjoy Cornelius Washington’s story of how an ordinary citizen can help keep their city or town upbeat, their neighbors friendly and joyous, and their streets clean, making for a wonderful place to live.

Marvelous Cornelius_Int 2At times, the illustrations  portray Marvelous Cornelius as a literal giant emphasizing his larger-than-life persona. He becomes more realistic when portrayed with the residents he served. I would have liked to have seen a more multicultural representation of the residents of New Orléans, though artist Parra may have decided to show a true representation of the resident’s Cornelius Washington actually served. Of note: the illustrations do show a multicultural people once the city is swept clean of the “gumbo of mush and mud.”

s1The art is a delight with its rustic feel and animations of Cornelius “Tango-ing up Toulouse” and “Samba-ing down St. Peter.” I loved the changing text size and font when Marvelous Cornelius sang out his familiar calls:

“WOO! WOO! WOOOOO! WOO! WOO! WOOOOO!”
“RAT-A-TAT-TAT RAT-A-TAT-TAT
“HOOTIE HOO! HOOTIE HOOOOO! SHOWTIME!”

Marvelous Cornelius_Int 3

At story’s end, the author writes more about New Orléans, its people, and Hurricane Katrina (which brought major devastation to this coastal city). Bildner also delves into his writing style, saying his use of alliteration, repetition, and exaggeration helped him write Cornelius Washington’s story as a folktale, similar to that of John Henry. Together with artist Parra, Bildner has succeeded in writing a story every child should read and will most definitely enjoy. Teachers can find many lessons in Mr. Washington’s story of an average person who rose to heroic heights simply by doing his best every day.

MARVELOUS CORNELIUS: HURRICANE KATRINA AND THE SPIRIT OF NEW ORLEANS. Text copyright © 2015 by Phil Bildner. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by John Parra. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunes BooksChronicle Books.

Learn more about Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans HERE.
Find a Common Core-Aligned Teacher’s Guide HERE.


Read more about Katrina’s Children HERE.
Watch the full length video Katrina’s Children free HERE.

Meet the author, Phil Bildner, at his website:  http://philbildner.com/
Meet the illustrator, John Parra, at his website:  http://www.johnparraart.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

 

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

Full Disclosure: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, by Phil Bildner & John Parra, and received from Chronicle Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: alliteration, Chronicle Books, community spirit, Cornelius Washington, exageration, folklores, Hurricane Katrina, John Parra, joy, Katrina's Children, Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans, Phil Bildner, repetition, writing technique

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2. #717 – If An Elephant Went to School by Ellen Fischer & Laura Wood

After a brief, thankfully, lupus flare-up, I am pleased to bring you a wonderful picture book from the talented team of Ellen Fischer and Laura Wood. I think you will smile and enjoy a laugh with this wonderful follow-up to If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant 

Cover-Elephant_700
If an Elephant Went to School

Written by Ellen Fischer
Illustrated by Laura Wood
Mighty Media Kids 8/11/2015
978-1-938063-61-9
32 pages Age 3—7

“Would an elephant learn the ABCs if she went to school? No way! She would learn how to use her trunk as a nose, a straw, a hand, and a hose! Through a series of questions and answers, readers learn about animals and their unique behaviors. And in the end, you might find yourself asking what you would learn.” [press release]

Elephant Spread final_2

Review
If an Elephant Went to School utilizes ten different animals to showcase what each would not learn in school, and then what it might learn based on that animal’s abilities, needs, and nature. The back cover asks:

“If a platypus went to school, would she learn to play the violin? NOT LIKELY! But what would she learn?”

“A platypus can’t play a violin,” young readers are bound to say. But what would a platypus learn in school?

“A platypus would learn to dive to find her food. NO SNORKEL NECESSARY.”

Kids will love learning what these animals—elephant, owl, zebra, frog, eel, bee, skunk, caterpillar, and platypus—would learn in school, while laughing at what it would not—could not—learn. Each “not learn” is something that a child will learn in school. For preschoolers, If an Elephant Went to School is a wonderful introduction into what they will encounter when kindergarten and first grade roll around. Older children will enjoy learning about these animals and poking fun at their own education.

Elephant Spread final_1

If an Elephant Went to School is a wonderful read a-loud book that encourages listener participation. With its winsome illustrations, If an Elephant Went to School is a funny, delightful read that children will want to go through on their own after a first reading. I think this charming follow up to If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, will have kids wanting to read—or listen to—If an Elephant Went to School several times. Reading this enjoyable, educational, and entirely humorous picture book should not press on any parent’s nerve while reading multiple times. If an Elephant Went to School—a truly fun giggle-book—should be a wild bullseye for booksellers.

I have not had the privilege of reading If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant (book 1 in the series), though I would love to do so. I am also hoping that this picture book series from Mighty Media Kids (formerly Scarletta Kids), will continue with its fun pokes at the wild kingdom, while teaching youngster about wildlife. For me, If an Elephant Went to School earns an A+!

Wait, you say I only listed 9 animals, not 10?! You are correct. The tenth animal is YOU!

IF AN ELEPHANT WENT TO SCHOOL. Text copyright © 2015 by Ellen Fischer. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Laura Wood. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Mighty Media Kids, an imprint of Mighty Media Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Purchase If an Elephant Went to School at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunes BooksMighty Media Kids.

Learn more about If an Elephant Went to School HERE.
Teacher’s Guide can be found HERE.  (forthcoming)

Read my friend Eric’s excellent review of If An Elephant Went to School  HERE.

If you live near Greensboro, NC, plan to meet Ellen Fischer at the If An Elephant Went to School 08/15 Release Party.
Information can be found HERE.

Meet the author, Ellen Fischer, at linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ellen-fischer/66/640/779
Meet the illustrator, Laura Wood, at her website:  http://laurawoodillustration.com/
Find more interesting picture books at the Mighty Media Kids website:  http://mightymediapress.com/

Mighty Media Kids is an imprint of Mighty Media Press.

If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant: Learn more HERE.  Purchase HERE.  View Illustration Samples HERE.

ArmadilloCover_web_1060

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

Full Disclosure: If an Elephant Went to School, by Ellen Fischer & Laura Wood, and received from Mighty Media Kids, (an imprint of Mighty Media Press), is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Series Tagged: animal behaviors, Ellen Fischer, If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, If an Elephant Went to School, Laura Wood, Mighty Media Kids, New for Summer 2015, school

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3. #714 – Yak and Gnu by Juliette MacIver & Cat Chapman

yak and gnu cover
Yak and Gnu

Written by Juliette MacIver
Illustrated by Cat Chapman
Candlewick Press      6/09/2015
978-0-7636-7561-5
32 pages       Age 4—8

“Yak and Gnu are friends dear and true. Yak has a kayak, Gnu a canoe. Down the river they go, singing:

“No one else
But you and me
Can float a boat
Or sail the sea.”

But wait! What’s that? A goat in a boat, a calf on a raft, and a whole flotilla of gorillas! Now their song is all wrong. With so many other friends afloat, can Yak and Gnu still sing their sea song for two?” [inside jacket]

Review
Best friends Yak and Gnu love to sail the seas. Yak rows a black kayak, while Gnu rows a blue canoe. Together, they row and sing their favorite song. But then, much to Yak and Gnu’s surprise, a goat in a boat yells hello. Yak and Gnu are no longer the only two who sail the seas. The happy-go-lucky pair of friends—best of friends—recover nicely, rationalizing that with the goat in a boat, Yak in his kayak, and Gnu in her canoe, there are only three who can sail the seas. They adjust their song:

“Yippee-ai, Yak!
Who-hoo, Gnu!
There’s nobody else
Like me and you.
(Well, only goat.)”

But then, there on a raft is a laughing calf and in that sail boat is a snail. What is going on? Yak and Gnu find more and more animals who can sail the seas, be it in a sailboat, a raft, an outrigger, cruiser, kayak, or canoe. Each new discovery causes Yak and Gnu to reevaluate and adjust their song. Finally, with the seas afloat with dozens and dozens of sea-worthy animals and their vessels, Yak and Gnu must come to terms with the fact that they are not the only ones who can sail the seas. But what about their wonderful song? What happens to that? You must read Yak and Gnu to find out.

9780763675615.int.1

Yak and Gnu is hilarious. Young children will love all the animals and the way each sails the seas. Along with Yak and Gnu, children can count the number of animals, helping Yak and Gnu adjust their song. The repetitive song will also help young children as they begin to read and phonetically sound out words. Soon, kids will be singing the song, without the book. More likely, kids will be asking for Yak and Gnu at bedtime, story-time, and most every-time it is time to read. The illustrations are beautifully rendered in watercolor and ink. The rhyming text has that sing-song quality that makes reading a picture book a joy. Yak and Gnu was authored by Juliette MacIver who loves to make young children laugh. Her previous book is entitled, The Frog Who Lost His Underpants (also illustrated by Cat Chapman). That title makes me want to read the book. Yak and Gnu is no different. This hilarious tale celebrates the simple friendships of childhood and the joy of laughter.
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YAK AND GNU. Text copyright © 2015 by Juliette MacIver. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Cat Chapman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, Australia.

Purchase Yak and Gnu at AmazonBook DepositoryWalker BooksCandlewick Press.

Learn more about Yak and Gnu HERE.
Classroom Ideas can be found HERE.

Meet the author, Juliette MacIver, at her website:  http://www.juliettemaciverauthor.com/
Meet the illustrator, Cat Chapman, at her website:  http://catchapman.tumblr.com/
Find more picture books at the Candlewick Press website:  http://www.candlewick.com/

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

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


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: animals, Candlewick Press, Cat Chapman, counting, friendships, hilarious, joyful, Juliette MacIver, rhyming story, singing, Walker Books-Australia, Yak and Gnu

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4. #713 – Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

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

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

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

9780763662295.int.1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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5. #711 – What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig! by Emma J. Virján

coverWhat This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig

Written & Illustrated by Emma J. Virján
HarperCollins Children’s Books
05/12/2015
978-0-06-232724-6
32 pages      Age 1—3

“What this story needs is a pig in a wig on a boat with some friends having fun in the sun–So come on board! Join Pig on an exciting boat ride where she discovers that life is a lot more fun with more friends.”[back cover]

Review
NOTE: This review is a tad unusual. It mixes my traditional review format with interview questions asked of the pig in a wig.
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig will instantly remind you of dear ole Dr. Seuss. The author employs fast-paced writing combined with simple, but effective, rhymes young children will love to hear and repeat. The narrator sends Pig, wearing a stunning pink wig—what is with that wig—sailing the moat in a boat. Why would a pig wear a wig? Well, I asked Pig and she said (rather emphatically),

“Wigs are fun and I’m a pig that loves to have fun!”

If you venture to Pig’s website—and I do suggest you do—you will find Pig is not simply a pink wig gal.

im5

Back to the story: One by one, the narrator adds a menagerie of interesting, kid-friendly animals to the boat in the moat. A frog, a dog, and a goat on a log join Pig in her wig. But there are more. A rat, wearing a cool hat, sits on a trunk—belonging to an elephant—with a skunk, who is with a mouse in a house. I was beginning to wonder what other animal could possibly be added to the small boat in the moat, when Pig yelled at the narrator. I asked Pig why she stopped all of the narrator’s fun. I thought it was very exciting having rhyming animals set sail. Pig had a different point of view:

“It was getting crowded, too crowded — a frog, a dog, a goat on a log,
a rat in a hat on a trunk, with a skunk, in a house, with a mouse AND
a panda in a blouse? It was more than my little, pink boat could handle.”

Pig is right, the small boat is crowded. So, beginning with the Panda—she performs a cannonball—the narrator reverses course, sending the animals out of the boat and into the moat. Once they leave, the narrator changes the story:

“What this story needs
is a pig in a wig,
on a boat,
in a moat,
having fun,
in the sun,
on her own . . .”

Now, all alone in her boat, Pig is sailing the moat. I think Pig is lonely and realizes she enjoyed her new animal friends. So the pig in a pink wig called for her new friends to return. Taking charge of the narration, Pig decides what the story needs . . .

im 1

Pig in a Wig, is a fun story young children will love to hear. The rhyming is simple, yet smart and witty. Kids will be reciting Pig in a Wig and, hopefully, figuring out their own rhyming group of friends. The illustrations are clean and engaging. Many pages hold surprises, such as a pig snout rug, Frog doing a hand-stand, and Dog and Goat holding hands. Dr. Seuss would love Pig in a Wig, which happens to be the same size as an iconic Dr. Seuss book. The simple story will charm young children during story time at school or a library. What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is so much fun to read I hope to see Pig in new stories.

I asked one last question, wondering, with all those charismatic animals on board, who is Pig’s favorite passenger. She said,

“Well . . . none were my favorite at the beginning, as they were all getting
in my way of having fun in the sun! At the end though, ALL of them were
my favorite, with Goat on his log being my extra, extra favorite.”

WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG. Text and illustrations copyright (C) 2015 by . Reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig at AmazonBook DepositoryApple iBooksHarperCollins Children’s Books.

Learn more about What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig HERE.
There are Coloring Sheet HERE
An Activity Guide HERE
And a Teacher’s Guide HERE

Pig in a Wig’s website:  http://emmavirjan.com/pig-in-a-wig/
Meet the author/illustrator, Emma J. Virján, at her website: http://www.emmavirjan.com
Find more engaging picture books a the HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

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

Review section word count = 453     

Full Disclosure: What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma J. Virján, and received from HarperCollins Children’s Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: beginning readers, Dr. Seuss, Emma J. Virján, HarperCollins Children’s Books, phonetics, Pig in a Wig, repetition, rhyming picture book, swimming in a moat, What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig!

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6. #710 – The Korean War: an Interactive Modern History Adventure

cover

The Korean War: An Interactive Modern History Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

38th parralel korea

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

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

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

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

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

Korean War3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review section word count = 699


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

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

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

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

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

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

Worlds Wackiest Houses”

“Worlds Wackiest Houses”

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

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

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

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

Purchase National Geographic Kids Almanac 2016 at AmazonBook DepositoryNational Geographic.

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

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

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

Review section word count = 496

nat geo kids almanac 2016


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

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8. #707 – Oddfrey Joins the Team by Dave Whamond

oddfrey joins team cover HERE

Oddrey Joins the Team
Written & Illustrated by Dave Whamond
Owlkids Books 8/15/2014
978-1-77147-061-2
32 pages Age 4—8

“When Oddfrey decides to join her school’s soccer team, she brings a new and unexpected approach to teamwork! On the day of the big game against the Quagville Crushers, nothing is going right—until Oddfrey comes up with a slightly unusual idea. Never afraid to be herself, Oddfrey devises a plan that gives her teammates the strength to be themselves, too. When they all use their individual talents to work together as a team, the results are extremely satisfying—and highly exuberant!” [book jacket]

Review
Oddfrey Joins the Team is the third Oddfrey book (Oddfrey, Oddfrey and the New Kid). According to the publisher, Oddfrey “marches to the beat of her own drum.” With a daisy sprouting from the top of her head, Oddfrey certainly looks odd. I like Oddfrey for a few reasons. First, she likes sports, although her idea of “sports” is sometimes odd. Oddfrey prefers to combine different sport to make a new game. For example, she kicks a basketball into the hoop, rather than shooting it, and bounces a football off her personal sized trampoline, rather than throw the ball to her helmeted dog. Oddfrey’s dog—spotted with big, beautiful, and excited eyes—sticks by her side, always ready to join in her fun. Which brings me to the second and third reasons I like Oddfrey: she does her own thing and she has a pooch for a pal.

04-05_OddreyJoinsTheTeam

I also like Oddfrey because she thinks outside of the soccer sidelines. I only know the basics of soccer: run back and forth after a ball and kick the ball into opponent’s net, which happens less often than one would think. Maybelline—new kid from book 2—asks Oddfrey to join the school’s soccer team—the Picadilla Bees. Maybelline is the star of the team, mainly because she hogs the ball, leaving the other kids to run back and forth. Oddfrey approaches soccer as she does other sports: in her own way. The players are confused and the coach is dismayed, as Oddfrey combines soccer with ballet. Between sending her shoe flying on an attempted kick, balancing on top of the ball, and cart wheeling down the field, Oddfrey does score a goal—GOOOAL!!!—by butt-bumping the ball into the net. Yes, Oddfrey is her own little gal.

12-13_OddreyJoinsTheTeam

The next game is the BIG GAME against the Quagville Crushers. The Bees practice hard. Milton karate-chops the ball down the field (Maybelline: “Just kick it!”). Earl head-bumps the ball (Maybelline: “Use your head, Earl!”). Maybelline gives everyone advice—where is the coach?—even to her friend Oddfrey. Following rules is not in Oddfrey’s skill-set. Poor Maybelline-the-Star, she cannot get it together in the BIG GAME. The Bees are falling fast to the Crushers. Oddfrey puts on her thinking cap and realizes the team name “Bees” must mean something—and it does. Oddfrey uses this to get her team buzzing. What is “Plan Bee,” you ask. Well, you know I can’t say, but read Oddfrey’s new story, Oddfrey Joins the Team, to find out. You’ll do a lot of laughing as you find the answer and read—and see—the exciting conclusion.

22-23_OddreyJoinsTheTeam

The illustrations are action-packed, with details running from spread-to-spread. But you don’t need to like soccer to enjoy Oddfrey Joins the Team. Oddfrey’s pals are interesting in their own right, and the story has less to do with soccer and more to do with ingenuity, friendship, teamwork, and . . . well, if I said the last feature, you might figure out the ending. Both girls and boys will enjoy Oddfrey and her stories. Older kids will also find much to love and enjoy about Oddfrey. Humor runs in both the illustrations and the text, making Oddfrey Joins the Team fast-paced, deliciously funny, and a great story hour book. Oddfrey’s individuality, imagination, and ingenuity are great traits for a character, real or human. Having read Oddfrey Joins the Team a few times, I am ready to skip to the library, Oddfrey-style, and read the first two books in Oddfrey’s, I mean Mr. Whamond’s quirky series.

ODDFREY JOINS THE TEAM. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Dave Whamond. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Berkeley, CA, and Toronto, ON.

Purchase Oddfrey Joins the Team at AmazonBook DepositoryOwlkids Books.

Common Core Guidelines HERE
Learn more about Oddfrey Joins the Team HERE.
Meet the author, Dave Whamond, at his twitter:  https://twitter.com/davewhamond
Find more picture books at the Owlkids Books website:  http://www.owlkidsbooks.com

ALSO BY DAVE WHAMOND

Oddrey_cover_large

Oddfrey —-A 2012 Texas 2×2 Selection

Oddfrey and the New Kid

Oddfrey and the New Kid

My Think-a-ma-Jink ----Won the Blue Spruce Award

My Think-a-ma-Jink —-Won the Blue Spruce Award

Reality Check----Syndicated Cartoon Strip

Reality Check—-Syndicated Cartoon Strip

      

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

Review section word count = 594

oddfrey joins the team


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: children’s team sports, courage to be yourself, Dave Whamond, friendship, imagination, individuality, ingenuity, My Think-a-ma-Jink, Oddfrey, Oddfrey and the New Kid, Oddfrey Joins the Team, Owlkids Books, Reality Check, soccer, teamwork

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9. #706 – Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates

am cover
Beach House
Written by Deanna Caswell
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
Chronicle Books       5/12/2015
978-1-4521-2408-7
32 pages      Age 4—8

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“A long, long drive.
It’s been a year
of dreaming, waiting.
Summer’s here.
“In a funny and moving celebration of family, vacations, and the joy of the sea, Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates capture the essence of summer—sand castles, tide pools, starry evenings—and the love that warms every moment.” [book jacket]

Review
Well, if you are not fond of overcrowded pools or swimming deep within them to find fantasy and fish of questionable species (review of Pool here), then maybe traveling to the ocean, staying in a summer home, and breathing in the salt air is more to your liking. If so, then Beach House is the perfect picture book to kick off your summer.

After a long drive—“Are we there yet?—the family arrives at the beach house for their summer vacation. The sea beckons, but the car needs unloaded, and the suitcases unpacked.

“Doors fly open.
End of the road.

“To the beach!”
“Not yet—unload.”

Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Amy June Bates. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

So many bags, so much stuff. Amazing one family needs this much for a vacation from daily life. Fun waits as the clothes are hung and shoes arranged. The youngest son and his faithful pal look hopefully out the window at the beach and the water. Then the magic words that get everyone moving. Suits are on, and dad is loaded down with every imaginable beach toy and towels. The family hits the beach. The two kids gleefully run into the water with the puppy right behind them. The toddler plays in the sand, making castles and other sand-filled joys. After a full day of sun, sand, and water, the family cuddles up to a roaring fire for dinner and then the comfort of baths and soft beds. Tomorrow will be another day on the beach. The text, written in rhyme, easily flows off the tongue, fluently rhyming for readers and listeners alike.

bates - dad loaded down

I love the illustrations which overflow with intimate detail. The younger boy, pulling his wagon full of sand toys, has the glimpses of a diaper popping out of the top of his swim trunks. He is obviously a toddler. Another favorite scene has the two older kids—a boy and a girl—in the water playing. Dad is tossing the girl up and into the water. The boy has his hands cupped around his mouth, yelling at mom, who is on the beach with the toddler. I can hear him saying, “Hey, Mom! Mom! Look at me!”

The watercolor and pencil illustrations exude summer on a soft, white, sandy beach that keeps the ocean where it belongs, allowing just a wave or two onto its shore. I am reminded of summer vacations with my family. Five of us crammed into a small cottage, swimming all day, eating ice cream bars on the stoop, and watching my older sister wash the paper plates—a joke I was too young to understand, or even remember without photographic evidence. Beach House brings out memories, or maybe, it will give you pause—a small suggestion—to plan that family getaway.

running into water full spread large

BEACH HOUSE. Text copyright © 2015 by Deanna Caswell. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Amy June Bates. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Beach House at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesChronicle Books.

Learn more about Beach House HERE.
Meet the author, Deanna Caswell, at her website:  http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/
Meet the illustrator, Amy June Bates, at her website:  http://amyjunebates.blogspot.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 453

beach house


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Amy June Bates, Beach House, Chronicle Books, Deanna Caswell, family time, ocean cottages, relationships, sand castles, summer vacations, swimming

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10. #705 – Pool by JiHyeon Lee

cover

Pool

By JiHyeon Lee
Chronicle Books      5/01/2015
978-1-4521-4294-4
56 pages      Age 3—5

“What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! JiHyeon Lee’s masterful story of a chance encounter takes readers on a journey that reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.” [book jacket]

Review
Pool arrives just in time for summer. Pool wordlessly tells the story of one young boy going to a public pool to find it is crowded. Actually, barely an inch exists between swimmers. He sits on the side of the pool, probably contemplating what to do. Then he dives in and goes below the legs of all those swimmers. Down into the depths of the pool, the young boy meets all sorts of curious water-living creatures. Crazy big-eyed fish, long L-shaped fish, and even a fish resembling a toucan exist down below those swimmers.

Most importantly, the young boy meets another swimmer his own age. The two explore all the life below the other swimmers. Schools of bluefish swarm the young boy, who looks uncertain. The brave outlook of the young girl must give him confidence, as they fearlessly swim among fish with many sharp teeth and come eye-to-eye with a huge whale. As the two swim up for air, the fish follow causing a riotous exit from the water by the other swimmers.

Pool_wallpaper_hires

I love Pool. Pool exemplifies the power of the imagination and the pull of kindred spirits into friendship. Pool shows the boy’s problem-solving skills as he decides to go below the swimming feet where there would be room to actually swim. Those above him crowd the water too tightly to even move, let alone swim. Below the surface, this resourceful boy meets another young swimmer and the two find ways to enjoy the water and themselves. Are those fish real? It’s anyone’s guess whether those crazy-looking fish are real or the figment of the young swimmers’ imaginations. Last out of the pool is an inner tube wearing young swimmer, who looks back upon the now quiet and still water. If you saw what this youngster saw, you just might believe.

Pool is perfect for any summer day, rain or shine. Lee used oil pastels and colored pencils to create the beautifully crafted spreads. As the young boy swims below the crowded surface, his trunks turn from a dull grey to a dark blue. The further he descends, the brighter the spreads. I think the message is that one must go beyond the ordinary, innertube crowd to see the wonders of the world and, when finding friendship, enjoy the time together in those wonders you share. Staying on the surface, with the crowd, is safe but often lonely. Pool is Lee’s first picture book. I hope she continues to publish. Her work is collector worthy.

Next time you go swimming, try going down to the depths of your imagination. You just might meet your kindred spirit.

Pool_Interior1.jpg

POOL. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by JiHyeon Lee. Copright © 2015 by Chronicle Books. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Pool at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about Pool HERE.
Collect Wallpapers no.1 and no.2
Meet the artist, JiHyeon Lee at her pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/kooshles/ji-hyeon-lee-south-korean-illustrator/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

Originally published in South Korea in 2013 by Iyagikot Publishing.

top book of 2015 general
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 353

Pool

 


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: Chronicle Books, collector-worthy picture books, imaginative, JiHyeon Lee, Korean born children’s authors and illustrators, Pool, splendid, summer, swimming

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11. #704 – Crazy by Linda Vigen Phillips

Today’s review is a bit different from the usual fare here on Kid Lit Reviews. I received a young adult book last year, which I do not review, because I firmly believe YA does not mix well with picture books and middle grade fare. I set it aside. Last night, needing a break from reading kid’s books and packing boxes, I picked up that book, simply titled Crazy. Crazy is Linda Vigen Phillips debut into children’s lit. Written in verse, the story is a fast read. The story shines a light on mental illness and, though set in the 1960s, is every bit as relevant today as it was then. Crazy moved me and I hope it moves you.

crazy coverCrazy

Written by Linda Vigen Phillips
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers     10/06/2014
978-0-8028-5437-7
314 pages         Age 12+
A Junior Library Guild Selection for 2014

“Laura is a typical fifteen-year-old growing up in the 1960s, navigating her way through classes, friendships, and even a new romance. But she’s carrying around a secret: her mother is suffering from a mental illness. No one in Laura’s family will talk about her mother’s past hospitalizations or increasingly erratic behavior, and Laura is confused and frightened. Laura finds some solace in art, but when her mother, also an artist, suffers a breakdown, Laura fears that she will follow in her mother’s footsteps. Left without a refuge, can she find the courage to face what scares her most?” [book cover]

Review
15-year-old Laura’s mother suffers from bipolar disorder and the family suffers right along with her, as most often happens. The author took parts of her own life, apparently having a mother who also suffered from mental illness. In the sixties, where the story takes place, mental illness carried much stigma so families kept this very secret. A lot of effort went into hiding the ailment from others. Kids never brought friends home to play or for sleepovers. If the family member was admitted to a psychiatric hospital, the family’s secret keeping went into high alert.

Now this may sound crazy in itself, but people outside the family secret did treat kids and adults with a mentally ill family member differently—poorly, often as if the craziness could rub off the family and onto them. Many people did not consider mental illness a medical disorder. Instead, mental illness was a problem of attitude, disposition, and a weakness of the will. Thus, mentally ill people could cure themselves by changing their attitude and their disposition by just acting normal. “If they would just do this or do that, they would be fine in no time,” was the basic attitude of most people.

The mother was a brilliant artist when younger, but gave it up. Laura encourages her mother to paint again, thinking it might help her mother regain her sense of self and thus act more normal. Instead, her mother has a “nervous breakdown.” Now Laura blames herself because she encouraged her mother to paint and, in her mind, the act of painting again caused her mother to collapse. Being a gifted artist in her own right, Laura is terrified that she will tumble into the same black hole her mother has. At one point, Laura even believes she is on her way, and in great fear and despair, refuses to paint, despite a contest deadline looming near.

NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

“If you’ve ever been there
when a lightbulb gets real bright
just before it blows out,
then you know what it was like
around here when things got extremely crazy,
right before they shipped Mama off
to the nut house.

“It’s all my fault
for suggesting
she take up painting again.
That’s what she was doing
that day I came home
to such a mess.
She was trying to paint on canvas,
not ceramics,
and maybe,
well, maybe she just forgot
how to do it
and it frustrated her real bad.
I could see she was beside herself
with frustration.

“I never should have suggested it.

“Maybe that’s why she put her hand
on the hot stove last night
and didn’t even smell
the burning flesh.
Now on top of her craziness
she has a bandaged hand.”

The problem in the sixties, as it was in the fifties, and every decade past, was a lack of information. Even today, though much enlightened, some still attach a stigma to mental illness. Books like Crazy help change these views by looking to the next generation. Laura, having been kept in the dark by her family (Laura is not old enough to understand), knows little about her mother’s illness. She understands mom is crazy, as she lives with the craziness each day. Laura watches her mother sit in a chair all day, staring at nothing in particular and worrying about everything (JFK’s assassination occurs), then watches her mother in crazed action, with energy that overflows and keeps her moving for days.

Laura gives up her own artistic talent to maintain her sanity, but it does not work. Laura feels herself falling deeper into a hole she cannot comprehend. Despite asking what is specifically going on with her mother, no one will explain. Not understanding, Laura’s mind works herself into her own despair. Overloaded with a sick mother, keeping secrets, and normal teen angst Laura works herself into believing she is beginning the slow descent into craziness. Her father has closed himself off, in his own attempts to deal with an ill wife he dearly loves, so Laura does not get the support she needs from him. Her older sister is busy with her own family, having married young. Laura’s friends are in the dark, though would most likely be a great support system for her, if she was not so afraid to tell them.

Crazy does a great job describing mental illness fifty years ago and an even better job of describing a kid who must live with a mentally ill parent. The writing is easy to read and a fast read, since most of the verse deals with Laura and her thoughts, rather than visual descriptions. It works. I think an advanced middle grader could read Crazy and enjoy the story along with a new understanding of mental illness. Crazy was difficult to put down, even for an hour. I read the 314 pages in one evening. The story is that compelling and that interesting. I needed to know how Laura was going to deal with her mother’s illness. Would she ever return to painting? Could she ever tell her friends? Would Laura really descend into darkness, herself, as she imagines is happening? Will anyone ever speak truthfully and answer Laura’s questions? I just had to know.

Laura tries to protect herself from a mother she does not understand and friends who might abandon her if they knew her secret. I enjoyed this emotionally stirring story. Crazy drew me into the story immediately with the powerful writing. The author does a great job leading the reader down the path she wants them to walk. Laura is a credible character and one in which many kids will see themselves. Laura will have your empathy, but it will take time to understand the other characters’ motives. The story rolls out perfectly. I know this because I have a brother with bipolar disorder. In a group setting, Crazy can easily lead to a great discussion. I recommend Crazy for advanced readers age 12 and up, including adults.

You can purchase Crazy at AmazonEerdmans Books.

Discussion Guide is HERE.
Learn more about Crazy HERE.
Meet the author, Linda Vigen Phillips, at her website:  http://www.lindavigenphillips.com/
Find more picture books at the Eerdmans Books for YR website:  http://www.eerdmans.com/YoungReaders/

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers is an imprint of Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co.

CRAZY. Text copyright © 2014 by Linda Vigen Phillips. Copyright © 2014 by publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Grand Rapids, MI.

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

Review section word count = 864

crazy


Filed under: 5stars, Book Excerpt, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: 1960s JFK assassination, bipolar disorder, Crazy, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, emotional, high school angst, Linda Vigen Phillips, mental illness, powerful

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12. #701 – The Trapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (spread 1)

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

TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR (spread 3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review section word count = 413

trapper twins go to war 2015 bk 1 little brown company

 


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

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13. #700 – Jars of Hope by Jennifer Ray & Meg Owenson – CBW Winners

9781623704254
Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Save 2,500 Children During the Holocaust

Written by Jennifer Roy
Illustrated by Meg Owenson
Capstone Press          8/01/2015
978-1-62370-425-4
32 pages         Age 9—12

“Amid the horrors of World War II, Polish social worker Irena Sendler worked in the Warsaw Ghetto for Jews. When the Nazis began shipping Jews out of the ghetto in cattle cars, Irena started smuggling out babies and children to give them a chance to live. She hid babies in places like laundry piles, a carpenter’s toolbox, or a potato sack, and she helped older children escape through underground sewer tunnels. After the children were out of the ghetto, Irena found safe places for them with foster families or in convents. Irena kept records of the children she helped smuggle away and when she feared her work might be discovered, she buried her lists in jars, hoping to someday reunite the children with their parents.” [publisher]

Review
Irena Sendler is one of the unsung heroes of World War II. She is not in history books and few know about her work. Jars of Hope begins with Irena as a young child, hearing words from her father that would stay with her forever. She asked her father,

“Are some people really better than others?”

Irena’s father replied,

“There are two kinds of people in this world, good and bad.
It doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor, what religion or race.
What matters is if they are good or bad.”

In World War II, the Jews were not the bad guys and Irena decided to help those that were suffering the most . . . children. With the help of some trusted friends, the group smuggled 2500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. One good example was Antoni, who was allowed to drive his truck in an out of the ghetto. Together, he and Irena smuggled babies out in the back of the truck. Many cried. Antoni had a unique solution: Shepsi. Shepsi, Antoni’s talented sidekick, rode along in the front seat of the truck. With one touch of his paw by Antoni, Shepsi began barking, drowning out the baby’s cries. Eventually Irena joined Zegota, a secret group of Polish adults who helped the Jews with aid and rescue. Zegota helped Irena place children in foster homes and convents, but that association also got her arrested.

9781623704254_spd

The illustrations are emotional and stark, a reflection of the time, and yet beautiful. The images immerse readers into the 1940s and the realities of Irena’s work. I especially like the image of children climbing out of the sewer with only a flashlight shining down upon them as a guide. The young girl hoisting herself up onto the ground struck home, making the era come alive for me. The author includes an Afterword adding more about Irena’s life, a glossary, and an Author’s Note explaining why she wrote Jars of Hope.
What Irena Sendler went through to save so many others is beyond heroic. She put her life in danger every day, but thought nothing of it because others needed her help. Such a selfless spirit is rare. Irena dangerously kept a list of the children she rescued, believing every child deserves to know their real name—many received new, Catholic names upon rescue—and she wanted to reunite as many families as possible. The lists went into jars, and buried for safety.

Jars of Hope, and other books like it, should be in classrooms. Irena Sendler, her selfless aid of so many Jewish children is worth remembering. She is a hero, but much more than that, if there were just an appropriate word. Jars of Hope is a beautiful, dangerous story of hope at a time when all hope seemed lost, and of courage, in a time and place where courage barely survived. Jars of Hope is a must read for older children and adults. Jars of Hope also belongs in every school library.

JARS OF HOPE. Text copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Roy. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Meg Owenson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Press, North Mankato, MN.

Pre-order Jars of Hope at AmazonBook Depository— Capstone Press.

Learn more about Jars of Hope HERE.
Meet the author, Jennifer Roy, at her website:  http://jenniferroy.com/
Meet the illustrator, Meg Owenson, at her website:  https://meganowenson.wordpress.com/
Find more picture books at the Capstone Press website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Press is an imprint of Capstone.

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

Review section word count = 502

jars of hope

DON’T LEAVE JUST YET!
We have WINNERS!!

Children’s Book Week Winners

Monday – The Luck Uglies (Book #1) by Paul Durham & Pétur Antonsson
Winner:  Robin Newman

Tuesday – Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay
Winner:  Lauren Tolbert Miller

Wednesday – Dress Me! by Sarah Frances Hardy
Winner:  Susanna Leonard Hill

Thursday – Fork-Tongue Charmers (Luck Uglies #2) by Paul Durham
Winner:  Erik Weibel

Friday – FRED by Kaila Eunhye
Winners:  C. L. Murphy & Mike Allegra

Congratulations to all the winners!


Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Picture Book Tagged: Capstone, Capstone Press, courage, heroes, Jars of Hope, Jennifer Ray, Jewish children, Meg Owenson, selflessness, Warsaw Ghetto, World War II, Zegota

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14. #699 – Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer & Holly Clifton-Brown

cover
Stella Brings the Family

Written by Miriam B. Schiffer
Illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
Chronicle Books      3/05/2015
32 pages     Age 4—8

“Stella’s class is having a Mother’s Day cerebration but what’s a girl with two daddies to do? It’s not that she doesn’t have someone who helps her with her homework or tucks her in at night. Stella has her Papa and Daddy who take care of her and a whole gaggle of other loved ones who make her feel special and supported every day. She just doesn’t have a mom to invite to the party. Fortunately, Stella finds a unique solution to her party problem in the sweet story about love, acceptance, and the true meaning of family.” [book jacket]
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Review
Stella’s teacher at Elmwood Elementary School announces a celebration for Mother’s Day and each student can invite a “special guest.” Jonathan, Leon, and Carmen are inviting their mothers. Howie even has two mothers to invite! Stella does not have a mother. Her classmates wonder—without a mother—who reads to her at night, helps her with homework, and kisses her when she gets hurt. Stella has many people who do those things. She has her Papa and Daddy, Nonna, Aunt Gloria, Uncle Bruno, and Cousin Lucy. Jonathan suggests inviting them all, but Stella is not sure. On party day, Howie is there with his two mothers and Jonathan is with his grandmother (mom is away in the army). The party is a big hit and everyone has a great time.

kids table

Stella Brings the Family delves into what a family consists of today. No longer simply mom and dad plus kids, today’s configurations of families can be anything that consists of people loving and caring for each other. That can be mom and dad plus kids, or a mom and child, a grandmother and grandchild, even two dads and a daughter, like Stella’s family. Stella Brings the Family is not a book about homosexuality. It does not try to explain why Stella has two dads or anything about the two dads, except that they love Stella.

invite daddy papa stella

What Stella Brings the Family is, is a celebration of family and a celebration of acceptance. None of the kids—or special guests—care about the kind of family each child is a member of, but rather that each child has someone who reads to them at night, helps them with homework, and kisses them when they get hurt. Kids will recognize themselves and their friends in Stella Brings the Family. Debut author Schiffer keeps the story’s focus on Stella, who stands out thanks to her curly red hair.

sp5

The watercolor illustrations beautifully render the multicultural and multigenerational family members. The kids’ invitations, with their drawings of family members, are terrific. The invites look like how someone Stella’s age (6—8) would write, though just a little better than most that age might draw. Clifton-Brown elicits the emotional story clearly through Stella’s expressions. At day’s end, the worn out teacher rests her head on her desk. Stella tells her things will not be as hectic for Father’s Day . . . she will just bring two dads, not the entire family. While not a huge twist or a big laugh, the ending is sweet, just like the story.

STELLA BRINGS THE FAMILY. Text copyright © 2015 by Miriam B. Schiffer. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Holly Clifton-Brown. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase Stella Brings the Family at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

Learn more about Stella Brings the Family HERE.
Meet the author, Miriam B. Schiffer, at her Young Children column:  http://bit.ly/ReadingChair
Meet the illustrator, Holly Clifton-Brown, at her website:  http://www.hollycliftonbrown.co.uk/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 384

stella brings the family


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: 2 dads, 2 moms, Chronicle Books, family composition, Holly Clifton-Brown, Miriam B. Schiffer, multicultural, multigenerational, Stella Brings the Family

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15. #698 – Jack and the Wild Life by Lisa Doan & Ivica Stevanovic

cover_Jack_and_the_Wildlife-330

#02 Jack and the Wild Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase Jack and the Wild Life at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesDarby Creek.

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

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

The Berenson Schemes

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#1 – Jack the Castaway

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

#2 – Jack and the Wild Life

JACK AT THE HELM 3

#3 – Jack at the Helm

 

 

 

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

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

Review section word count = 518

jack and the wild life 2


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

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16. #697 – Kid Presidents: True tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler & Doogie Horner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A fat little boy, always reading.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barack Obama

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

“Well, what has Lyndon done today?”

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

YOU as President!

YOU as President!

*real name is Robert Schnakenberg

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

Purchase Kid Presidents at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesQuirk Books.

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

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

Review section word count = 625

kid presidents


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

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17. #696 – I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

coverI Wish You More

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books  3/01/2015
978-1-4521-2699-9
40 pages Age 3+
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“Some books are about a single wish.
Some books are about three wishes.
This book is about endless wishes.

“Amy Krouse and Tom Lichtenheld have been called the “Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers of children’s books” and here they have combined their extraordinary talent to create a compendium of wishes—wishes for curiosity and wonder, friendship and strength, for joyous days and quiet moments.

What will you wish for?”  [book jacket]

Review
I Wish You More is the perfect book for a (grand)parent to give their (grand)child for any occasion or no occasion at all. I Wish You More is also the perfect book to give the child heading off to college, summer camp, or any other get-away.

I wish you more can than knot.

I wish you more can than knot.

Beginning with two children racing with the wind, a kite flying high above, the text reads:  “I wish you more ups than downs.” Each spread continues with a wish and an image expressing that wish. Children will understand most of the test and each of the images. Lichtenheld has created a multicultural set of children, which make the spreads that more adorable—if this is possible.

I Wish You More is simply a wonderful, joyous, high-spirited, positive celebration of what a wish can do for those who receive them, and for those who give them. There really is not much more to say about this beautiful picture book. Read I Wish You More to a young child and they can learn the benefits of kindness and well wishes toward other humans. And, I believe, you can help your little one with their self-esteem.  I Wish You More would have been in my office and read to every child.

I wish you more stories than stars.

I wish you more stories than stars.

Each spread is one wish—one special wish with an equally special illustration. Narrated by the voice of a parent, I Wish You More  concludes by stating it contains all these wishes, “. . . because you are everything I could wish for . . . and more.”

**Chronicle Books is making two posters from the book available for anyone who would like them. This may be for a limited time, I do not know, so go HERE and get your set of two. They are perfect for any child’s room. There is also an activity kit for teachers HERE.

I WISH YOU MORE. Text copyright © 2015 by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Tom Lichtenheld. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Purchase I Wish You More at AmazonBook DepositoryChronicle Books.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! (#4)
Learn more about I Wish You More HERE.

Meet the author, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, at her website:  http://www.whoisamy.com/
Meet the illustrator, Tom Lichtenheld, at his website:  http://www.tomlichtenheld.com/
Find more picture books at the Chronicle Books website:  http://www.chroniclebooks.com/
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Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Review section word count = 222

i wish you more


Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, NonFiction, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2015 Tagged: 978-1-4521-2699-9, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, books for parents to give children, Chronicle Books, creative, empowering, I Wish You More, illuminating, reflective, self esteem, Tom Lichtenheld, wishes

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18. #695 – Waggers by Stacy Nyikos & Tamara Anegόn

stacy-nyikos-waggers-book-cover.
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Waggers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

campout

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

Purchase Waggers at AmazonBook DepositorySky Pony Press.

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

Sky Pony Press is an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Desi -  the Muse

Desi – the Muse

Desi as Waggers

Desi as Waggers

 

 

A Pretty Good Likeness?

 

 

Review Section: word count = 378

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

waggers


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

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19. #687 – The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman & Deborah Zemke

Quick note: Not surprisingly, the motherboard died one last time, just days after arriving home from its last death. I am at the library and running out of time. Please excuse the unfinished post. I will get all images and links up as son as I can. I hope you enjoy the review, such as it is. ~Sue
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The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
Creston Books          2015
978-1-939547-17-0
40 pages            Age 7—9
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“When food goes missing on Ed’s farm, Detectives Wilcox and Griswold do what it takes to track down the thieves. In this case, Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake has disappeared. Has it been stolen? Or eaten? Or both? Who dunnit?” [publisher]

Review
Oh, my, a carrot cake has gone missing and Miss Rabbit, besides being crumbed by cake from head to toe (she did bake the now missing carrot cake), is hopping mad. Good thing the MFI’s are on the case, with Captain Griswold and Detective Wilcox as lead investigators. These two small Missing Food Investigator mice may have experience, but the layered Case of the Missing Carrot Cake just might be unsolvable.

I know detectives do not want to be viewed as cute, but cute is an apt word. From their gruff-looking MFI badge pictures, to their droll 1950’s cop-speech—think Friday of Dragnet—Griswold and Wilcox are all business, but adorable. The two made me laugh each time they spoke. Kids may not know who Sargent Friday was, but if a parent were to channel Sargent Friday while reading Detective Wilcox’s story, their children will at least get part of the joke.

“It was 10:00 Monday morning. The captain and I were working the day shift when we got our first call . . . Every day food goes missing from the farm. Sometimes it’s lost. Sometimes it’s stolen. Sometimes it just runs away.”

The first four chapters introduce the usual suspects: Fowler, the Owl (Alibi. He was picking up his dinner in the field); Porcini, the Pig (a convicted corn robber, he was with Miss Rabbit—she refused a refreshing hot cup of slop); Hot Dog, a dog (evidence is found! Hot Dog is, according to Wilcox, “in as pickle”); and . . . uh, oh. Where did suspect number four hide? I know there is a fourth, but, unlike Detective Wilcox, I am no missing food investigator.

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake will delight readers. Kids will love the goofy characters, the illustrations, and the oft-used humor. Adults will also laugh, and sometimes groan, but always appreciate the humor and Wilcox’s Dragnet performance.

“Just give us the facts and nothing but the facts . . . “

The illustrations enhance the story on every page. The short chapters, just right for readers learning to read on their own, and illustrations that make each page come alive, kids will begin viewing reading as entertainment, rather than something one only does in school. Each of the seven characters is well-developed with distinctive personalities. I love Hot Dog, who towers over the detectives, yet gives them all due respect. Twists do occur, so do not get cozy with your solution to this case.

Will the MFI solve The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake? Will the residents of Ed’s Farm ever be safe from bakery thieves? To find out, check out Newman’s debut chapter book. I hope there are more cases to solve. The MFI detectives can delight readers again and again . . . they just need missing food to find.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CARROT CAKE. Text copyright © 2015 by Robin Newman. Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Deborah Zemke. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Creston Books,

Purchase The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake at Amazon—Book Depository—iTunes—Creston Books.

Learn more about The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake HERE.
Meet the author, Robin Newman, at her website:
Meet the illustrator, Deborah Zemke, at her website:
Find more chapter books at publisher, Creston Books, website: http://www.crestonbooks.com

Review Section: word count = 473

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Chapter Book, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Reluctant Readers Tagged: beginning to read on your own, book for boys, Creston Books, Deborah Zemke, Dragnet, mystery, Robin Newman, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, whimsical, witty

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20. #688 – The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham & Pétur Antonsson

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The Luck Uglies

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

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

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

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

PT2 7 MAP BASED ON AUTHORS CONCEPT WALL

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

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

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

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

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

Rye O'Chanter

Rye O’Chanter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Pétur Antonsson.

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase The Luck Uglies at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesHarperCollins C. B.

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

Cybils Interview with author Paul Durham click HERE.

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

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

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

*The Guardian Herd Series by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

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

BOOK #2

The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers

The Luck Uglies #2: Fork-Tongue Charmers

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

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. 

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

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21. #690 – Fork-Tongue Charmers (Luck Uglies #2) by Paul Durham

CBW-email-childrens_2015

 

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Fork-Tongue Charmers

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

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

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The Luck Uglies

 

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

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

valant harper 3

Constable Valant

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

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

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

Rye Crossing Barnacle-Covered Rocks

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

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

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

Silvermas Mud Sleigh

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

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

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

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

Review word count = 661

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews.

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

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22. #691 – FRED by Kaila Eunhye Seo and TWO–2–GIVEAWAYS!

CBW-email-childrens_2015

 

Welcome to TGIF

Thank Goodness It’s FRED!
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FRED

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

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

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

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

PPP - Fredstreet

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

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

looking in on school

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

“Excuse me?”

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

PPP- Fredpark

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

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

Purchase FRED at AmazonBook DepositoryPeter Pauper Press.

Learn more about FRED HERE.

TEACHERS:  Common Core Teaching Guide for FRED.

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

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

Review Section: word count = 663

Huntington Press Best Picture Books 2015

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

FRED  FTC   correct box

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

For a Chance to WIN Click the Rafflecopter Link Below

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Fred by Kaila Eunhye Seo

An EARLY COPY of

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby,

All the Lost Things by Kelly Canby

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Elephantastic by Michael Engler

THE ZOO IS CLOSED TODAY!

The Zoo Is Closed Today! by Evelyn Beilenson

SIMPSON'S SHEEP WON'T GO TO SLEEP!

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

HANK FINDS AN EGG

Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley

HANK HAS A DREAM

Hank Has a Dream by Rebecca Dudley

CELIA

Celia by Cristelle Vallat

Not the Quitting Kind

Not the Quitting Kind by Sarra J. Roth

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Digby Differs by Miriam Koch!

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

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23. #692 – Building the Golden Gate Bridge: an Interactive Engineering Adventure by Blake Hoena

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Building the Golden Gate Bridge: An Interactive Engineering Adventure

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

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

Building the Golden Gate Bridge

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

Building the Golden Gate Bridge2

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

Building the Golden Gate Bridge3

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

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

© bernard-gagnon-own-work-gfdl

© bernard-gagnon-own-work-gfdl

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

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

Purchase Building the Golden Gate Bridge at AmazonBook DepositoryCapstonePub.

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

YOU CHOOSE BOOKS: ENGINEERING MARVELS

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

Building the Empire State Building by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Great Wall of China by Allison Lassieur

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

Building the Transcontinental Railroad by Steven Otfinoski

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review Section: word count = 614

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

building the golden gate bridge you choose book series 2015


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

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24. #693 – When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . a Veterinarian by WIGU Publishing

cover.
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When I Grow Up I Want To Be…a Veterinarian!: Sofia’s Dream Comes True!

Series: When I Grow Up
Written and illustrated by WIGU Publishing
WIGU Publishing        12/08/2014
978-1-93997314-6
56 pages            Age 7—12
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“Sofia wants to care for all the animals in the world. But Mom does not think Sofia is ready for the responsibility of even one pet. Ready or not, when a hungry and sick-looking cat appears at the family’s back doorstep, Sofia takes action. When Sofia is found feeding the cat, Mom gives in and agrees that a trip to the vet will tell them if the cat is healthy and not someone’s lost pet. As the veterinarian introduces Sofia and readers to the important and wide-ranging work of animal doctors, Sofia learns how she might help all kinds of animals, including a little stray cat!” [back cover]

Review
Like every kid, at some time in his or her life, Sofia desperately wants a pet. Mom sternly responds, “No,” after every plea. I suspect many kids will relate to this situation. Dad tells Sofia gets her love of animals from Mom, which made mom’s stern and resolute rejections surprising to me,

WIGU_VET_FINAL_page32_image8

“. . . the answer was always ‘No. And I mean it, Sofia!’ . . . and she meant it.”

Mom’s reluctance must be due to something she went through as she has some definite opinions about caring for pets. While looking outside at the soaking wet cat, mom says:

WIGU_VET_FINAL_page32_image14

“People should be more responsible about animals.”
“There are too many unwanted animals running around.”

Veterinarian does not delve into the reasons behind the above statements; instead letting Sofia remark that she cannot believe any pet could be unwanted. I agree with Mom and Sofia. Bringing a pet into the family is a big decision, and includes much more than housing and feeding. But Veterinarian is about the career, not the social issues. Continuing with the story, mom finally tells Sofia her reasons for saying no: she does not think the family is ready for a pet. But then it rained.

“It rained cats and dogs.”

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That night it really did rain cats . . . one little, hungry, “sorry-looking,” water-soaked cat. To Sofia’s amazement, her mother was also upset and concerned about the cat. With dad taking the lead, mom agrees to take the cat—now called Samantha—to Dr. Helen, a veterinarian.

Dr. Helen looks for a microchip, listens to Samantha’s heart, weighs her, and then tells Sofia, there are an estimated 10 million different kinds of animal species on Earth . . . that we know of. Much of our planet is unexplored—mostly underwater—and there are animals we have not seen, and some we never will. I did not know this, which is why I love the WIGU series—I learn something with each edition.

WIGU_VET_FINAL_page32_image490

Dr. Helen gives a short history of cats and dogs. Cats first became household “pets” 3,000 years ago in Egypt, where they were worship (cats kept rodents out of the grain and hunted dangerous snakes, including cobras). Dogs, as pets, began roughly 33,000 years ago. Dogs were valued for their companionship and keen senses—hearing, sight, smell—that helped protect humans. Dr. Helen told Sofia cats are the most popular pet (2:1 dogs), yet veterinarians treat more dogs than they do cats. No explanations are given.

combo

As with the other When I Grow Up editions, Veterinarian is loaded with useful information kids will enjoy reading, can use as a reference, or when exploring possible careers. Teachers can use this series as adjunct texts. In Veterinarian, Dr. Helen describes many areas of specialization and the road to becoming a veterinarian. The illustrations are a combination of actual photographs and digital images. On the cover, I adore Samantha’s contented look on her face as Sofia hugs her.

contented cat samantha

In the end, Sofia decides she wants to become a veterinarian. The family decides to keep Samantha, even with the funny, unexpected twist. Veterinarian’s tone is positive and it highlights the best about being a vet. This is my favorite edition thus far. Wigu Publishing is planning to explore more careers for the When I Grow Up series and is working on Spanish versions. Every school should have this series, keeping room for new editions. The When I Grow Up series might go on forever.

WIGU_VET_FINAL_page32_image24

WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A . . . VETERINARIAN. Text copyright © 2014 by Wigu Publishing. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Wigu Publishing. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Wigu Publishing, Sun Valley, ID.

lg span vet

Purchase WIGU I Want to be a . . . Veterinarian at AmazonBook DepositoryWIGU Publishing.

Learn more about WIGU I Want to be a . . . Veterinarian HERE.
Meet the author/illustrator, Wigu Publishing, at their website:  http://bit.ly/WIGUTeam
Find more picture books at the Wigu Publishing website:  http://whenigrowupbooks.com/

.Spanish Edition
[Amazon]
sS

When I Grow Up . . . Books

army

span army

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in the U. S. Army [review here]

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teacher.

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a Teacher [review here]

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firfighter..

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a Firefighter  [review here]

 

.navy

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in the U. S. Navy  [review here]

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nurse.

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a Nurse  [reviewed soon]

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Review Section: word count = 543

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

WIGU- VET


Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: adopting pets, animals, care of animals, cats, dogs, relationships, When I Grow Up I Want to be . . . a Veterinarian, WIGU, Wigu Publishing, wildlife vets

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25. # 694 – Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco by Julie Anne Grasso

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

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

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

sick teacher

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

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

you did it wrong again

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

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

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

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

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

Also by Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Mystery Of Enderby Manor

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Frankie Dupont And The Science Fair Sabotage

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Escape From The Forbidden Planet

Return To Cardamom

Return To Cardamom

Stellarcadia

Stellarcadia

 

 

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Review Section: word count = 491

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

frnkie dupont 2 lemon festival fiasco


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

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