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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: adventure, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. #820 – Greatest Guru in All the World by Jojo Wood

Today is Take Your Child to the Library Day! Get out those library cards at get thy self and children (don’t have any, borrow one or more from a mom needing a break), and get to the library. Check out the new books, the old books, storyhour, and everything else your local library offers. Today’s …

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2. Thursday Review: SECRET CODERS by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Summary: I've been meaning to review this one for an embarrassingly long time. I had looked forward to reading it ever since first hearing about it—we are huge fans of our own (relatively) local Gene Yang here at FW and have not only interviewed... Read the rest of this post

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3. Books for Boys - Magnificent Matt is underway!

Cover sketch  
Pencil dust is beginning to pile up with the sketch work for picture book Magnificent Matt....
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You may find that what really makes Matt magnificent is not his cape, goggles or his lightening speed ......  

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4. The Defiant, by M. Quint | Book Review

The Defiant will appeal to middle grade and young adult readers interested in adventure, mystery, and eerie situations.

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5. Where my feet go?

wheremyfeetgofrontcoverA joyous celebration of a child’s imaginative, intrepid and open-hearted take on the world, Where My Feet Go by Birgitta Sif (@birgittasif) follows one young panda recounting what they’ve been up to that day.

From exploring outside and playing in the sandpit to using their parent as a climbing frame before bedtime, we read and hear that Panda has had a very happy day getting up to all sorts of adventures, traversing jungles and even meeting with dinosaurs. Yet the illustrations show a slightly different story, one apparently much more like a normal day that anybody might experience, involving puddles, sticks and feeding the birds. This funny mismatch between words and images is bound to create conversations and spark listeners’ own re-imaginings of the world around them.

Whimsical, upbeat and wide-eyed, Panda (who could be either a boy or a girl, for the gender is never mentioned, opening out this heartwarming story so really anyone can identify with Panda) reminds me a little of Charlie’s Lola. Sif’s subdued palette and the natural story arc heading for bedtime make this a calm, relaxing and uplifting read about a child’s ability to think big and embrace adventure, reminding us adults to open our eyes to the joy and delights we might otherwise overlook in the everyday world around us.

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Inspired by Panda’s adventurous feet we decided we’d try making plaster of paris casts of our footprints. I made a batch of playdough which, when cooled, the kids stepped into:

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(If you’ve never made homemade playdough before it’s super easy. For this activity we used 4 cups of flour, 2 cups of salt, 8 tablespoons of Cream of Tarter, 4 tablespoons of oil and 4 cups of boiling water, mixed all together over a low heat on the hob, until the ingredients combined and came away from the edge of the pan without sticking to our fingers when we touched it.)

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In an old icecream tub we mixed up some plaster of paris as per the instructions on the packet and then poured the thick gloop into the impressions left by the kids’ feet in the playdough.

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After a couple of hours the “feet” were dry enough to be taken out of their moulds. The playdough is perfectly fine to re-use to make more casts – we reused ours 4 times and it was still good for more play.

We left or “feet” to dry out completely for a couple of days before painting and decorating them.

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Now (perhaps slightly channelling Hans Solo given all the Star Wars stuff that is in the air at the moment), J’s feet are of on an adventure of their own…

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Whilst making our footprints we listened to:

  • Dirty Feet by Bobs & Lolo
  • Foot Stomping by The Flares
  • 500 miles by The Proclaimers – it’s all about walking! My very favourite cover of this classic is the crazy accordion fuelled version by Billy McIntyre and his All Star Ceilidh Band (you can hear a sample here)

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Where My Feet Go include:

  • Personalizing a pair of wellies. Nail varnish (!) and acrylic paint both work pretty well on welly rubber/plastic. Here’s an example on the Royal Horticultural Society’s blog.
  • Updating your dressing-up box with a few new (old) pairs of shoes. There’s nothing like experiencing what it’s like to be someone else when you literally put your feet into their shoes. Charity shops, jumble sales, old relatives, older siblings/cousins are all good sources of shoes for dressing up in.
  • Making a paper plate frog inspired by Little Panda’s green friend. Danielle’s Place has several different ideas you could try.
  • Reading Where my Wellies Take Me by Michael Morpurgo, Clare Morpurgo and Olivia Lomenech Gill.

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • Learning about fish who evolved feet with One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell
  • The Birthday Cake Mystery by Thé Tjong-Khing and how we painted our patio with our feet
  • Books to encourage family adventures outdoors
  • feetextensions

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    2 Comments on Where my feet go?, last added: 1/28/2016
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    6. THE GOLDEN YARN By Cornelia Funke // More Of A "Like" Than A "LOVE"

    Review by Elisa THE GOLDEN YARN By Cornelia Funke Series: MirrorWorld #3 Hardcover: 464 pages Publisher: Breathing Books (December 1, 2015) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon  Jacob Reckless continues to travel the portal in his father's abandoned study. His name has continued to be famous on the other side of the mirror, as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. His family and

    0 Comments on THE GOLDEN YARN By Cornelia Funke // More Of A "Like" Than A "LOVE" as of 1/25/2016 1:22:00 AM
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    7. INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD By Jamie Kain // Really Quick Read With Some Great Characters..

    Review by Krista... INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD By Jamie Kain Hardcover: 224 pages Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (December 8, 2015) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon  He prepared their family for every natural disaster known to man—except for the one that struck.When Nicole Reed’s father forces her family to move to a remote area of the Sierra Foothills, one without any modern

    0 Comments on INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD By Jamie Kain // Really Quick Read With Some Great Characters.. as of 1/24/2016 2:15:00 AM
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    8. Andrew S. Chilton, Author of The Goblin’s Puzzle | Selfie and a Shelfie

    Brimming with dragons, goblins, and logic puzzles, this middle-grade fantasy adventure is perfect for readers who enjoyed The Princess Bride or Rump.

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    9. The Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon

    Robyn is a tinkerer.  She loves building things with her dad, but since her dad's job has taken up most of his time lately, Robyn is on her own.  One night after Robyn sneaks out as usual to head to the junkyard to find a voltage adapter for a project, things seem a bit off.  Usually dodging the guards and scaling the fence are fun endeavors, but this night the guards are more soldier-esque than usual.  And this time when she made it over the fence, there was a dog.

    Luckily Robyn is a prepared girl, and has a pocket full of bacon to keep the dog at bay. True, the bacon was orignally for Robyn's friend Barclay who calls the junkyard his home, but Robyn is thankful she packed it.

    It turns out that changes are afoot in a much more far ranging way than just upped security in the junkyard.  This night comes to be called the Night of Shadows, and what it is is a coup.  The standing government and all of the members of parliament are rounded up and/or killed. Robyn's father works for the government.

    When she races home, she finds a horrifying sight.  Her empty house is in shambles and her parents are gone.  All that is left is a puddle of blood in the kitchen. Robyn is a wanted girl.

    Now Robyn is forced to try to remember all of the warnings her father gave her that she only half listened to.  The ones that started with "If anything ever happens to me and your mother...".  Upon hearing strangers back in her house she takes the few items from her safe and takes off into the forest.

    What comes next is an adventure that will keep readers up well into the night.  Solitary Robyn must learn that sometimes it's okay (and necessary) to trust others. Her group of friends must learn to live by their wits and manage to help others who may not be so resourceful along the way.

    Magoon has reimagined the world of Robin Hood in an alternate time period and has woven in technology and the idea of the big brother very well.  Readers do not need to be familiar with the original tale to have a rip roaring time, but the ones who are familiar will likely be pleased with the reimagining of many of the main characters.  Magoon has also woven in moon lore as an aspect of the world building that brings an air of fantasy to the whole story.

    I cannot wait for the next installment of this exciting story!

    0 Comments on The Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon as of 1/17/2016 12:01:00 PM
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    10. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

    beekleThere’s a land far away where imaginary friends come into being and wait to be imagined by a real child. But what if a real child never imagines you? Might you remain stuck, forever in limbo?

    The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (@dsantat) follows one imaginary friend as he decided to take action into his own hands venturing bravely forth to seek a real friend to play with (and to name him). The real world is a strange place, with muted colours and tired people failing to see joy or find fun around them. But then our still un-named imaginary friend recognises a flash of colour in the rush-hour crowd – an old imaginary friend from the land of their birth, and follows the creature. Will this lead him to a real friend? And just how do you make friends when you’ve not had a friend before and don’t know where to start?

    Santat’s tale about our desire to find friendship, the difficulties we can encounter along the way, and the joy and joint adventuring it can bring is full of charm and hope. It’s gentle, optimistic and beautiful. It also happens to be award-winning, and not just any old award: Almost exactly a year ago, The Adventures of Beekle won the most prestigious picture book award in the US – the Randolph Caldecott Medal.

    BEEKLE_10_1000

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    UK publishers, Andersen Press, are now bringing this gorgeous book to the UK market. Yes, it’s true that those of us with UK/Eire addresses can get hold of just about any US book thanks to online ordering, but many brilliant US-published children’s books never make it main stream here (i.e into schools, into public libraries, into highstreet bookshops) because they aren’t published by “local” publishers and are therefore not straightforward for organisations to order (or even to find out about). I find this especially frustrating with graphic novels and children’s non-fiction, genres in which I think the US is a world leader.

    Why do some books make it across the Atlantic when others don’t? To my eye there is a decidedly American flavour to the illustrations in The Adventures of Beekle, something to do with the slightly soft focus, polished animation feel to the imagery. Differences in illustration fashion clearly aren’t necessarily a problem. And yet if we look at which Caldecott winners have made it to the UK, we see that it’s surprisingly few; of the past 20 winners, I think only 5 have been picked up by UK publishing houses.

    As it happens, the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner us being announced TODAY (January 11). Will it be a book that makes it across to the UK?

    [I do encourage you to follow the announcements of all the ALA Youth Media Awards, of which the Caldecott is just one. If you’re on Twitter, you might use #ALAyma to find out about the winners. You can also watch the announcements as they are streamed live http://ala.unikron.com/2016/]

    Either which way, The Adventures of Beekle is a delightful, heart-warming story about friendship, courage and reaching out. I’m really pleased that thanks to its UK publishers it will now find its way into many more homes, schools and libraries on this side of the pond.

    ***************

    Especially taken by the illustration below of a tree full of leaves / stars, we were inspired to set up a piece of guerilla public art in the name of Beekle and everyone who could do with a bit of good cheer:

    Pages from Beekle UK INTERIOR anglo1000px

    Using air-drying clay, some cookie cutters and letter stamps we created a whole host of starry leaves to hang in a tree by our favourite playground. We stamped each tree with a friendly, encouraging message, hoping to raise a smile amongst those who come across the starry leaves.

    beekle1

    Once dry…

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    …we threaded them with string…

    beekle0

    …visited our favourite playground…

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    …and hung up our good wishes to all.

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    We’re hoping visitors to the playground will find the stars and take one they like home, spreading Beekle good wishes around the local community!

    beekle6

    Whilst making starry leaves we listened to:

  • Imaginary Friend by The Mighty Buzzniks
  • My Imaginary Friend by ScribbleMonster & His Pals
  • My Imaginary Friend by The Sunflowers

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading The Adventures of Beekle include:

  • Making your own Beekle out of marshmallows. This Picturebook Life shows you how. Found via this pinterest board dedicated to the book.
  • Reading Imaginary Fred by Eoin Colfer and Oliver Jeffers, and Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson, both of which are lovely picture books about friends who others can’t see.
  • Designing a playground (you could use images from this Pinterest board to inspire you and your kids) or making a Chinese dragon (there’s a stunning one in The Adventures of Beekle and I imagine recreating something similar using precut coloured paper circles as scales. Alternatively you could make concertina dragons like we did here.)

  • If you liked this post you might like this related post:

  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend and making our own dictionary of imaginary words
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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    2 Comments on The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, last added: 1/11/2016
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    11. How to Find Gold

    howtofindgoldI wanted a brilliant book to start the new year with and I’ve unearthed real treasure with How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwarz (@vivschwarz), out later this week in the UK.

    Anna is a girl with an inspirational can-do attitude. She decides she wants to find gold with her friend (a crocodile) and refuses to be put off or to give up, simply because the task might be risky or hard to achieve.

    Issues which might seem like problems to some are acknowledged by young Anna, but they never put her off her stride. Instead, her positive take on life, her ability to see opportunities rather than obstacles and the power of her imagination enable her and Crocodile to have tremendous fun looking for (and indeed finding) gold, even if (or partly because?) it is dangerous and difficult.

    Together the friends search high and low, sailing the seven seas and facing terrible monsters before finding a chest full of treasure in a sunken wreck. But having found the treasure do they keep it? What is more valuable to them? Piles of gold to have and to hold or the wonderful experiences they’ve shared by together being brave, hopeful and believing in themselves?

    goldinterior1

    In some regards, this outstanding picture book echoes Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and Caroline Binch, both conveying an inspiring message that anything is possible if you allow yourself to really go after your dreams. Both also happen to feature black girls, though in neither instance is this what the books are about. Their messages are much more universal – about having fun, about self-belief, about letting your imagination take flight to fruition.

    goldinterior3

    Schwarz’s tale is full of humour, both in her words and imagery. The looks of determination and delight on Anna’s face, the unassuming dead-pan delivery of her decisions, her friend’s (mostly) calm absorption of Anna’s apparent impetuosity – all will make you smile.

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    Schwarz also uses colour brilliantly to intensify the adventure these two undertake. Monochrome real life is contrasted with a richly vibrant hunt for treasure.

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    Courageous, joyous and imaginative, Anna is a hero to enliven us all. This funny manifesto for adventuring with friends, for embracing challenges, for not giving up on looking for gold, whatever form it takes for you is outstanding. I can’t think of a better way to start my reading year, or yours.

    Of course we were chomping at the bit for our own treasure hunt having read How to Find Gold but first we had to ensure there were plenty of gold coins to find in amongst the hoard of jewels.

    We took inspiration from our box of coins from around the world, choosing those with designs on them which we especially liked.

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    We then placed these coins under gold confectionery wrappers (thin golden tin foil) in order to transfer their designs to the foil.

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    We also designed our own coins, using golden embossing paper and kebab sticks.

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    Next up we melted lots of chocolate and dropped dollops onto the foil (flipped over, so the gold side was face down).

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    An hour or two in the fridge later and we had our first glimpse at how our hoard of golden dubloons was coming along…

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    All that was left was to wrap the edges of the foil around the hardened chocolate to complete our chocolate coins and amass our amazing pile of gold:

    goldcoins

    Making our own treasure was definitely as much fun as finding it!

    Whilst making money we listened to:

  • Treasure Chest by The Dreamtree Shakers
  • Don’t bring me gold by Funky Mama
  • And a favourite of mine – Treasures by Seasick Steve

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading How to Find Gold include:

  • Creating your own treasure maps. CBeebies has a video tutorial that’s a good starting point if you’ve never used an old teabag before, and for some starter ideas about what to put on your map, this collection of treasure maps on Pinterest might spark your imagination.
  • Making chests to store your treasure in. Free Kids Crafts shows you how to turn an old shoe box into a pirate’s treasure chest, but there are lots more ideas (including edible ones!) on this pinterest board.
  • Bringing your own crocodile friend to life. Krokotak shows you how to make very handsome paper alligator, which I think it is perfectly all right to reconsider as a crocodile :-)
  • Being brave enough to try doing something difficult or risky. This is a tricky one of course. But the kids and I have talked about what we could try that is a bit tricky, a bit dangerous but which might be quite an adventure and we’ve agreed that this weekend we’re going to try jumping off the high diving boards at the swimming pool for the first time!

  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • The Story of Money written by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura plus how we used coins to learn some geography
  • Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen plus how we dug for treasure in our own back garden
  • The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle plus how I created a treasure hunt for my kids which helped them learn to read a map of our local neighbourhood
  • moretreasurehuntideas

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    3 Comments on How to Find Gold, last added: 1/4/2016
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    12. A Christmas message!

    Here’s a great way to share your Christmas message!

    Click on the link below to find out how.

    Solve the puzzle to read the Christmas message!

    All the best for Christmas and 2016, everyone! (The message you can solve is not this one!)

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    13. TURNING PAGES: SILVER ON THE ROAD by LAURA ANNE GILMAN

    Another Western with a youthful protagonist, Laura Anne Gilman's novel is the first in a sweeping new series. I read it -- passed it along to Tech Boy who also read it and said, "Wow, it just... worked." What's harder to say is... why. And we aren't... Read the rest of this post

    0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: SILVER ON THE ROAD by LAURA ANNE GILMAN as of 12/22/2015 9:45:00 PM
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    14. TURNING PAGES: A WAKE OF VULTURES by LILA BOWEN

    To begin with, this isn't a YA novel. It's a crossover adult novel, recommended for older YA readers due to some violence and disturbing interactions and attitudes. Lila Bowen is a pseudonym for Delilah Dawson, a familiar YA author. If you like... Read the rest of this post

    0 Comments on TURNING PAGES: A WAKE OF VULTURES by LILA BOWEN as of 12/18/2015 8:03:00 AM
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    15. Review: MS. MARVEL VOL. 2: GENERATION WHY

    Summary: Some time ago I reviewed the first collected volume of the new (and surprisingly awesome) Ms. Marvel comic, starring the rebooted main character Kamala Khan: an ordinary American teenage girl from Jersey City who just happens to be a... Read the rest of this post

    0 Comments on Review: MS. MARVEL VOL. 2: GENERATION WHY as of 12/11/2015 2:43:00 PM
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    16. Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple

    Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye  by Samantha Seiple Scholastic Press. 2015 ISBN: 9780545708975 I was sent a copy of this book from the publisher. Grades 6-12 This review reflects my opinion and not that of the Cybils YA Nonfiction Committee Over the centuries, immigrants have enriched our (American) culture and Allan Pinkerton was no exception.

    0 Comments on Lincoln's Spymaster: Allan Pinkerton, America's First Private Eye by Samantha Seiple as of 11/28/2015 7:43:00 AM
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    17. The Blackthorn Key - an audiobook review

    The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
    Read by Ray Panthacki
    Simon & Schuster Audio, 2015
    7.25 hrs
    Grades 5-9


    Christopher Rowe, is a lucky lad.  Plucked from the orphanage for his intellectual potential, Christopher is apprenticed to the kindly apothecary, Master Benedict Blackthorn. Despite his lowly upbringing, relayed by narrator Ray Panthacki's hint of a Cockney accent, Christopher receives training in Latin, astronomy, ciphers, potions, and other tools of the apothecary's trade. In the midst of a suspicious atmosphere following great political upheaval, a mysterious cult of murderers arises. Christopher will need all his skills and more to decode a series of clues to a dangerous plot that threatens to upset the balance of world power. Panthacki clearly defines each of The Blackthorn Key's large cast of characters, creating distinctive voices that reflect their standing in British society.  Christopher's best friend is Tom, an apprentice baker.  Like Harry Potter and Ron, they are a memorable pair, and their dialogue sounds honest and warm.   Whether in terror, danger, or mere horseplay, the listener feels the emotion in and between the characters.  The only thing that slows the pace of adventure in this gripping mystery is the occasional reading of lengthy ciphers. Print readers may well try their hand at decoding them, but for listeners, they're primarily a drag on the action. The setting is as rich as the plot in this mid-17th century adventure brought to life by veteran actor Ray Panthacki.

     


    My review copy was provided by AudioFile MagazineMy review of The Blackthorn Key for AudioFile Magazine (along with an audio excerpt) appears here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/107274/]

    0 Comments on The Blackthorn Key - an audiobook review as of 11/18/2015 8:08:00 AM
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    18. New book trailer for Emily and the Enchanted Wood!

    Check out the book trailer for this fantasy adventure for children!

    When in the enchanted wood, Emily finds she has a surprising connection with her little dog and all of the other animals.  When she discovers she needs to help rid the wood of marauding goblins, she must work with the animals to bring peace back to the woodland realm.

    Front cover

     

    View on YouTube

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    19. TURNING PAGES: THE TOYMAKER'S APPRENTICE, by SHERRI L. SMITH

    Full disclosure: I consider the author a friend of mine, though we've never yet managed to meet in person. (Darn it.) I read this book out of affection, but am raving about it, because I found it to be flat out astounding.One of the weird things... Read the rest of this post

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    20. Thursday Review: THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows

    Summary: When we meet Wilhelmina, she's a top player in a gang of orphans called the Ospreys, former nobles all, who were displaced when their country of Aecor was overrun by the neighboring Indigo Kingdom. Now they live on the fringes of the Indigo... Read the rest of this post

    0 Comments on Thursday Review: THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows as of 10/16/2015 2:01:00 AM
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    21. Fuzzy Mud - a review

    Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar, winner of the Newbery Medal and National Book Award for Holes.  Narrated by Kathleen McInerny with a full cast and an author's note read by Sachar himself. (Listening Library, 2015)
    4 hours
    Target audience: Grades 5 and up

    I reviewed Fuzzy Mud for AudioFile Magazine, and loved it. As I should have expected from Louis Sachar, there is much more to it than I first expected.  It's a sci-fi, adventure thriller,that focuses on the very broad concept of ecology as well as the more intimate problem of bullying. A link to my review for AudioFile Magazine is here. [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/104469/]

    I highly recommend it.

    0 Comments on Fuzzy Mud - a review as of 10/19/2015 8:19:00 AM
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    22. Review: Shadows of Sherwood

    Shadows of Sherwood (Robyn Hoodlum)by Kekla Magoon. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. 2015. Review copy from publisher.

    Media of Shadows of Sherwood
    The Plot: A Robin Hood retelling, with Robyn Loxley as a twelve year old girl who seeks her imprisoned parents and allies herself with the have-nots of her world.

    The Good: I love retellings, I love seeing what is kept, what is changed, how it's updated.

    Confession: this is one of those books that while I'd heard a bunch of buzz, I'd avoided most reviews, wanting to read it fresh. The cover told me that the retelling was also updating the setting, putting Robyn in a modern world.

    Well, I was wrong. And right. Yes, it's a modern world but it's not our modern world. The technology seems about fifty years in the future; the city is Nott City, and the discussion of the city and its surroundings, while matching the Robin Hood tales, doesn't match our own geography. So it's not just a retelling; it's a fantasy, in that it's not our world. But it's so close to our world, that even non-fantasy readers will enjoy it. And the names of places and people will make those familiar with Robin Hood smile: Loxley Manor, the Castle District, people named Tucker and Scarlet and Merryan.

    Robyn is amazing. Awesome. Courageous, stubborn, smart -- and a bit spoiled. She's the child of privilege who likes to sneak out at night. It's the sneaking out that saves her, when her politically involved parents are taken as part of a coup. Suddenly, she's without anything or anyone and is forced beyond the borders of her comfortable life. For example: Robyn isn't even familiar with money or trading, because chips and credit have always covered her needs. But as she meets others -- a young girl living on her own, a boy who is hiding something -- she adjusts. Forced to be an enemy of those in charge, she quickly sides with the others who are enemies of those in power: the poor, those without connections, those living hand to mouth.

    Robyn is biracial; her parents, and their backgrounds, are part of the story and even mystery Robyn is trying to uncover. Mystery may be the wrong word; but while her parents now have powerful connections and jobs, allowing for Robyn's very upper class upbringing, Shadows of Sherwood quickly sketches in the background of their lives and world. And their background is what targeted them during the current coup, and their lives before Robyn's birth is part of what she needs to learn more about to figure out her own present and future. Robyn's hair is braided, and it turns out it's a distinctive style taught to her by her father. It's unique; and when she is alone, seeing another with the same style of braid is one of those clues. While this is not our world, it's a world where skin color and money matter, just in different ways. So while there is the adventure of survival, and helping others, there is also the mystery of the past and the future and finding her parents.

    This is the start of a series, and so it's Robyn's origin story. Who she was. How she becomes Robyn Hoodlum, robbing from the rich to give to the poor. With that told; and with the start of her "merry band" coming together, I look forward to what Robyn and her crew will do next.

    Because Robyn is terrific. Because the world building is so full. Because it's an inventive retelling that is also true to the source. Because I want more. Shadows of Sherwood is a Favorite Book of 2015.

    Meanwhile, while waiting for more Robyn, over at Nerdy Book Club the author, Kekla Magoon, shares a bit about writing this book.










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    © Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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    23. Set Sail with MG author Rita Monette’s newest Nikki Landry release…

    Batten down the hatches! The pirates are coming!  

    The Curse at Pirate’s Cove, the second installment in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series, is due to be released next month, on November 17. 

    It was previously scheduled for October 17, but was postponed due to unforeseen problems. 

    But Nikki and her friends know exactly what the problem was…it was those pesky pirates…and the curse. Yes, they’ve been at it again. 

    Here’s a description of the book and what’s going on with Nikki in book two:

    “When one man’s treasure is another one’s curse.”

    Nikki Landry is turning eleven years old, and is looking forward to riding her bike to school. That is until it falls apart. Papa can’t afford a new one. Is she doomed to ride the smelly old school bus from now on? 

    Hearing of an old pirate ship, and a legend about long-ago pirates burying treasure on a nearby swamp island, Nikki sees a way out. But when she makes a birthday wish for the pirate’s gold, things go terribly wrong. Did her wish trigger an ancient curse?

    Join Nikki and her friends as they find themselves sailing away aboard a haunted schooner with ghostly pirates into the Gulf of Mexico … and into the year eighteen fourteen. 

    How will they ever find their way back home? 

    Here’s an excerpt from the book: 

    “How do you know it’s a pirate ship?”
    “It has to be, Nikki. Listen.” He turned toward me. “I was out at Uncle Luke’s this past weekend, and he told me all about it.”
    “I ain’t believing there’s no pirate ship out in those swamps.” I lifted my chin.
    “Just hear me out, Tomboy.” He sounded impatient. “There’s a legend that goes along with it, see.” He leaned toward me and lowered his voice. “There might even be a curse.”
    “A legend?” He had my attention. I prided myself in being a super legend buster ever since I solved the one about Ghost Dog Island last year. I even got my picture in the newspaper. “Well, tell me about it.”
    “I’m trying to.” He waved his hands in the air.
    We propped ourselves against a couple of large limbs and got out our lunch bags.
    “Uncle Luke says he first heard about it back when he was a kid. He says a friend of his grandfather, by the name of Beco, was out trapping on Fog Island with his buddy Clamare. They came across this here hole in the ground with a half-buried wooden chest, see. It had a big old lock on it. There was a couple of coins in the dirt, so Clamare picked them up and slipped them in his pocket. Beco decided he’d go back for some tools and shovels to dig the rest of it out, and told Clamare to stay there and watch the chest. On his way out to the edge of the island, he saw this ragged old ship. Thinking it was kind of odd looking for being in the swamps and all, he got a little closer. It had a broken mast and raggedy sails.” He poked me with his elbow. “When was the last time you ever saw a fishing boat with sails?”
    I shook my head. “Never.” I unwrapped a peanut butter and jam sandwich and took a bite. “What’d he do?”
    “Well, he started to board it, see?” Spikes dug into his own lunch bag. “But then he heard some talking coming out of the boat. He stopped right then and there, ’cause he didn’t know who might be on that old wreck out in the middle of nowhere, and there weren’t no other boats around. This one had a big old hole in the hull, so it couldn’t have sailed there on its own. At least anytime in recent history.”
    “Then what?” I licked some of the jam off my fingers.
    “Then someone stuck his head up over the bow, see. He had on one of them three pointed hats that pirates always wore. Old Beco yelled a big hello, and the man took out a pistol and shot over his head. Well, Beco took off right then and there. That night, he went down to T-Noon’s bar and got drunk, and told some other fellows about it. The next day, they all went back out to the island with shovels and brought guns just in case that crazy guy in the boat was still there.”
    “Was he?” I asked.
    “Nope. The ship was gone, and so was Clamare.”
    “What about the treasure?”
    “They never could find it. Not even the hole it was in.”

    About the author:

    Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. 

    Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father, who made his living in those bayous.


    She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that inhabit the Cumberland Plateau.

    0 Comments on Set Sail with MG author Rita Monette’s newest Nikki Landry release… as of 10/26/2015 3:41:00 AM
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    24. It’s a Dog’s Life – Picture Book Reviews

    If you’re anything like me you’ll love a good dog story, especially those feel-good ones of friendship, courage and love. Typically known as our best mates, the canine variety so often teach us about loyalty, responsibility and maintaining a zest for life, and these three picture books certainly contain these elements in their own gorgeous […]

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    25. Hello World!

    Hello World cover250pxA delightfully encouraging and warmly reassuring tale to foster adventurous spirits and feed curiosity about what lies beyond your front door, Paul Beavis’ Hello World! is a perfect picture book to put the wind beneath the wings of all those learning to explore their world around them.

    Monster is bored and Mr. and Mrs. Mo, his elderly carers, are busy. Undismayed, Monster decides to go off exploring by himself and packs his rucksack with equipment worthy of an adventurer wishing to prepare himself for any eventuality.

    Torch? Check.
    Fishing rod? Check.
    Globe? Check.
    Trumpet? Check.

    Hello-world-2

    And then Monster is off, enthusiastically crossing over fields, then a wide river, into exotic canyons, leaving a peculiar trail behind him (the reader can decide for themselves whether this is a deliberately Hansel-and-Gretel-like act or simply accidental) as items fall from his bulging bag.

    Just when Monster’s energy and faith in the wisdom of his plan begin to flag, Mrs. Mo ‘miraculously’ appears with sandwiches at the ready. Once re-fueled, Monster draws his friend onwards for a final push up to the top of a nearby hill, whereupon the extra effort is richly rewarded with a breathtaking view showing a welcoming world filled with warmth and and wide-open opportunities.

    Hello World_internal pages_Page_041000px

    This terrific tale sends subtle but solid encouragement to its readers and listeners – to have the confidence to follow their dreams, safe in the knowledge that loved ones will always be there when they need them.

    Beavis’ illustrations are a tour de force, using perspective and palette to cleverly reinforce the written story; colour intensifies and the reader’s viewpoint zooms ever closer in until the moment of greatest tension in the story. This visual magnification and turning up of the heat adds another layer of drama to the play unfolding as the pages are turned.

    Hello World_internal pages_Page_141000px

    Beautifully paced, Hello World! is also funny, touching and just the sort of story to put a spring in your step the next time you venture out to see what the new day holds for you, whether you are 4 or 94.

    Inspired to get out there and feel the elements on our skin and see what unexpected surprises we could stumble upon, the girls and I decide to go on our own adventure. To help us prepare, I asked Paul Beavis for his advice. Here’s the wisdom he shared with us:

    beavistips

    Paul’s publisher, Julia Marshall of Gecko Press, also gave us some sage advice about packing a rucksack for an adventure, but to find out what she said, you’ll have to visit Playing by the book’s facebook page.

    With Paul and Julia’s advice in mind, we packed our bags and headed out for our adventure. The girls were in charge and we spent a day going in whichever direction they chose. It was definitely a “go with the flow” type of day (for me), and the girls were so excited to be completely in charge of where we went and what we looked at. Definitely a bit different to lots of other sorts of family outings!

    Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Hello World!, here’s what we packed, and some of the colours and textures we saw:

    adventuring1

    adventuring2

    adventuring3

    adventuring4

    adventuring5

    Whilst out and about we didn’t listen to any music, but if you’re after some kid-friendly adventuring music you might enjoy:

  • Hello World by Vanessa Trien
  • Adventure Quest by The Jelly Dots
  • Adventure is a Wonderful Thing – from the Winnie the Pooh animated film

  • Other activities which might work well alongside reading Hello World! include:

  • Holding storytime in your attic / loft. Monster goes up into his attic and sees a world of possibilities in amongst all the old junk that’s stored up there. Why not take a blanket and a torch for a very atmospheric sharing of stories!
  • Painting with rollers. Mr. and Mrs. Mo are too busy to join Monster because they are painting their house. Why not paint on a giant scale like them, using wallpaper lining paper and big rollers. Lay the paper out to cover the patio or entire kitchen table and experience painting on a vast scale. I know my girls would love the very physical nature of this. If you live somewhere hot another alternative is to let the kids paint the house walls outside, but just with a bucket of water and a big paintbrush.
  • Making trail mix. This snack is great for taking on adventures, can easily be tailored for personal preferences, and is something even very young kids can mix up for themselves. Here’s a whole Pinterest board dedicated to trail mixes!
  • If you liked this post, you might enjoy seeing what’s in my handbag, reading about an earlier adventure with Monster and lots of sticky liquids, or discovering two non-fiction books designed to encourage families to get outside exploring.

    otherreading

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    Find out more about Paul and his work at www.facebook.com/mrsmosmonster and www.paulbeavis.com, or find him on Twitter @PDBeavis. In particular you might find Paul’s Facebook post about explaining his thought process for one spread in Hello World! interesting.

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