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Results 1 - 25 of 161
1. The Badger Knight - a review

Erskine, Kathryn. 2014. The Badger Knight. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)


After the great plague, Adrian's father is overly protective. Having lost his wife and daughter, he is determined to protect his12-year-old son, Adrian.  Small and weak, Adrian has what we now call asthma and albinism. In the rural England of the 1300s, however, his condition is more often considered an unlucky and unholy affliction - rendering him only slightly more popular than Thomas the leper. Though he is quick of mind, skillful with a bow, and able to scribe, he is nonetheless treated as useless and dim-witted.

When the Middle March is threatened by war with the Scots, Adrian sees a chance to prove his mettle,

"Soon I hear the blacksmith's voice in my head: Nock! Mark! Draw! Loose! I spread some dirt under my eyes to counteract the bright sun, close my left eye, ready  my bow, and take aim at a single leaf fifty feet away.  On my second shot I split the leaf in two.  As I practice more, I can hit a leaf on my first try, even when it sways in the breeze.  I lose all sense of time and feel like I'm in another world.
Until I hear someone approach through the woods, and I grab my arrows, stowing them quickly with my bow inside the tree trunk.  For years I haven't been discovered and I don't intend for anyone to find me out now.  When the time is right, I will shock them all.  So I stand and look up at the branches to divert attention away from the trunk and to show that I'm simply addlepated Adrian looking at birds."

The Badger Knight is a historical fiction adventure that touches upon many common themes (bullying, friendship, gender bias, coming of age, survival, the nature of good and evil) as Adrian goes off to war and becomes a man - not by might, but by right.

 "... I'm reminded of Nigel and his search for the truth.  I think of what I always believed to be truths — Scots are pagans, thieves are bad, knights are noble, girls are weak, war is glorious — and how these "truths" aren't real at all.  They're things I was taught or everyone believes, just as all people who look like me are supposedly angels or, more often, devils.  I didn't believe Nigel when he said that scribing was power, that seeking the truth and sharing it is mightier than being a soldier.
     Now I see what he means."

The Knight Badger is rich in historical details - from the minor particulars of everyday life and the societal hierarchy of medieval England to the gruesome manner of medieval warfare. Erskine offers an unvarnished look into the lives of serfs, tradesmen, religious leaders, free lances, city street urchins, and robber barons. The author's thoughts on the nature of war are on display throughout, but readers are encouraged to come to their own conclusions and examine their own biases.

A solid adventure story that should appeal to boys and girls.  There is room for a sequel.

On shelves 8/26/14.   Target audience: ages 8-12, Gr 3-7
352 pages

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2. The Time of the Fireflies - a review

I was actually searching for a fantasy book, but stumbled upon a good old-fashioned ghost story instead.

Little, Kimberly Griffiths. 2014. The Time of the Fireflies.  New York: Scholastic.

Larissa Renaud doesn't live in a regular house. As she tells it,

"My parents moved us into the Bayou Bridge Antique Store—a fact I do not brag about. It's embarrassing to admit I share the same space as musty, mothball-smelly furniture, dusty books, and teacups that dead people once drank from."
Sometimes she wishes they had never come back here from Baton Rouge, but her family has a long history in the bayou town, much of it is tragic.

When Larissa receives  a mysterious call on a broken antique phone, she's got a real mystery on her hands.
"Trust the fireflies," 
the ghostly girl tells her, setting Larissa on  a strange and eerie path of discovery. Can Larissa right the wrongs of the past to save her family's future?

Though it highlights rural poverty, bullying, and new sibling issues, The Time of the Fireflies is at heart, a ghost story with a remarkably likable and resourceful protagonist.

To avoid giving away too much, I'll merely mention that readers may see some similarities to Rebecca Stead's Newbery Medal-winning, When You Reach Me. The spunky Larissa and author Kimberly Griffiths Little will draw you into the rich world of the Louisiana bayou until you too, are carried away by the fireflies.

A link to The Time of the Fireflies trailer is here.  I'm not posting the trailer here because, honestly, I think the book is better than its trailer.

(My copy of the book was provided by the publisher as an Advance Reader Copy.)

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3. Sisters - a review

Telgemeier, Raina. 2014. Sisters. New York: Scholastic.

(Advance Reader Copy)

Sisters is the companion graphic novel to the award-winning Smile. In Sisters, Raina, her mother, younger sister Amara, and little brother Will are on a road trip to Colorado.  Past experiences and grievances, both large and small are unwelcome baggage on this family road trip. Raina and Amara feud for much of the trip, until one event brings the family together.

Prior events are relayed as flashbacks and appear on yellow-tinted pages.

I have sisters and I have daughters. I can attest to the fact that Raina Telgemeier tells it like it is. It's not the good times that make a family strong, but rather, how it deals with the bad times... and if everything turns out well, the bad times make the best stories.


Publishers Weekly has a 7-page preview of Sisters on their blog.



On a shelf near you, August 26, 2014.

I received my copy of Sisters at Book Expo America. Raina was kind enough to pose for a photo as she signed it. One lucky reader from my book club will be taking it home to preview on Wednesday!

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4. Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine - an audiobook review


Angus, David. 2013. Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine. Read by Benjamin Soames. Naxos Audiobooks.

It is a shame that this compendium of influential people in the history of medicine is not available in print or e-book format.  It would be a great reference for students doing research or biography reports.  Don't let the audio book format deter you, however.  As I wrote in my review for AudioFile Magazine (linked below), Benjamin Soames conveys a fascination for his topic that is infectious! (pun intended)

Some of the people featured in Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine include:
Hippocrates, Galen, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, Edward Jenner, Crick and Watson.  You may not know their names, but their discoveries have benefitted you.  I'm not sure of the best audience for this book, but I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Read my review of  Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine for AudioFile Magazine here.

Listen to an audio sample of Great Men and Women in the History of Medicine here.

Read all of today's nonfiction reviews at the Nonfiction Monday blog!

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5. Pure Grit - a review

Today is a perfect day to highlight Mary Cronk Farrell's latest book which chronicles the actions of Army and Navy nurses serving in the Phillipines during WWII.  Although amazingly, none of the nurses perished during their harrowing years on the forward battle lines and in prison camps, their service to their country and the fighting men was nothing short of heroic.

Farrell, Mary Cronk. 2014. Pure Grit: How American WWII Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific. New York: Abrams.

Pure Grit is a narrative nonfiction account, told with compelling human details. Photographs, quotes, correspondence, newspaper accounts, maps and military records were combined to create a gripping story that breathes new life into a little-known story that is fading from our collective memory.  Farrell was very fortunate to have interviewed the last surviving nurse of the seventy-nine who were taken as POWs by the Japanese.

Containing a Foreward, Introduction, Glossary, List of Nurses, Select Timeline, Endnotes, Bibliography, Web Sites for More Information, Acknowledgments, Image Credits and an exhaustive Index, Pure Grit could easily be considered a scholarly treatise on the topic — but Farrell has chosen to present her topic in a manner that simply cannot be ignored: a gripping story with personal and human details that will appeal to anyone over age 12 with even a passing interest in history.  Highly recommended.




Links of interest:

As you enjoy today's kick-off to the summer season, perhaps celebrating with friends or family or enjoying a well-deserved day off from work, consider participating in the National Moment of Remembrance.

From the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs:
...in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579 ...
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

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6. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune - a review


Watson, Jude. 2014. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)

After my book club meets tomorrow, my Loot will be long gone. Here's a quick preview before it's snatched up.

It begins with a foreboding prophecy regarding stolen semiprecious moonstones:

You will be caught tonight and made to pay.
Death by water, before the moon is set.
Before the passage of thirteen years, the two birthed together will die together.

Two of the prophecies have already come true. Two thieves are dead.

Now, 12-year-old March, son of a thief, must figure out the mystery with no other assets than a getaway bag, some cryptic clues, and remembered advice from his deceased father,

Never trust a guy who says, "Trust me."
Never give your real name to a cop.
Never let someone steal your getaway car.
If you think nothing can go wrong, you'd better think again.

March, his twin sister, and fellow foster home escapees, Izzy and Darius, will match wits with jewel thieves, fences, cops, and millionaires in a desperate search for answers and the mysterious moonstones. This is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller with plenty of plot twists and intrigue—a globe-trotting trek with its roots in the underbelly of New York City.


Due on a shelf near you June 24, 2014.
For grades 3-7
272 pages

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7. Captain Underpants- the Eleventh Epic Novel!

Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000. New York: Scholastic.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Captain Underpants fans can rejoice.  The "Eleventh Epic Novel" is coming this summer with everything kids expect - time travel, fiendish villains, a plot with more twists than a bag of pretzels, and of course - Flip-O-Rama, "the world-famous cheesy animation."

In Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, readers will be brought up to speed on past adventures, as George and Harold re-live (and change) a previous adventure involving the Turbo Toilet 2000.  Super Diaper Baby will make a cameo appearance in a comic by George and Harold, and readers will be introduced to Yesterday George and Yesterday Harold.  There's even a 3-panel Flip-O-Rama.

It's ridiculous, preposterous, and downright silly - kids will love it.


 

On shelves August 26, 2014.

What's next? Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-a-Lot.

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8. Lowriders in Space - a review

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign points out many reasons why it's important to have diversity in books. One of the reasons is that people like/want/need to see themselves reflected in the books that they read. Another is that people like/want/need to see the world through the eyes of people other than themselves. Whatever your reason for seeking diversity in books, I hope you find it in Lowriders in Space.


Camper, Cathy. 2014. Lowriders in Space. New York: Chronicle.
Illustrated by Raul the Third.
(Advance Reader Copy)

Quirky and unique, Lowriders in Space is a graphic, sci-fi novel that extols the virtues of working hard, working together for a common goal, and striving for success despite the odds of achieving it. It's also funny and stylish, and peppered with Mexican-American slang as it shines a rare spotlight on "lowrider" culture.

The cast of characters includes an impala, an octopus, and a mosquito:


  • "Lupe Impala was the finest mechanic south of Vacaville.  She could rescue a dropped gasket, notch a belt, or electrocharge a sparkplug, swish a swashplate or wrangle a manifold with a twist of her wrench a flick of her wrist."
  • El Chavo "Flapjack Octopus wielded the wettest washcloth North of the Salton Sea. When he polished a car, he spun over the paint job like an eight-pointed ninja star flying through the night."
  • "Elirio was the best detail artist around. People were a little afraid of Elirio Malaria."

They're best friends. They work together. They can count on each other.  But can they build a lowrider to win the Universal Car Competition?  They can when they accidentally use rocket parts and get a truly cosmic makeover!

Besides its truly unique and fun characters, I like that Lowriders in Space features adults. The general rule is that books for kids will be about kids. That's fine as a general rule, but a quality children's book about adults is a breath of fresh air.  When I was a very young kid, my favorite things to read were Archie and Veronica comic books and Nancy Drew mysteries.  They had cars and boyfriends and nary a parent in sight (unless you count Nancy's father, who was more like an early version of an ATM than a parent).

Humor?  Lowriders has that, too. My favorite panels?

El Chavo (the octopus) sitting in his new bucket seat (a bucket!). "¡Que suave!"
Elario rescuing the group from a black hole with ... Wite Out!

What else do I like about Lowriders in Space?  The subtitle is "Book 1." I sure had fun reviewing this one. I look forward to seeing more of this unconventional trio.

Back matter includes a dictionary of the Mexican-American slang and scientific terms used throughout the book (it is a sci-fi novel, after all).

Note: 
My advance copy was in black and white, with only a small sampling in color. See full color pages on the book's FB page. [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Low-Riders-in-Space/487615068027769?sk=photos_stream] 

Though I'm a Jersey Girl now, I lived for many years in Southern California. If you've never been stopped at a red light next to one of these bouncing babies, you're really missing something!  Want to see some lowrider action?  Check out this YouTube video, "60 Seconds of Low Riders."

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9. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth - a review

Bruce Coville has done wonderful adaptations of several Shakespearean plays for a young audience, while staying faithful to the mood and dialogue wherever possible.  Now, however, there's a new, edgier, funny Shakespeare in town.  You may have seen many adaptations for the works of Shakespeare, but you've never seen them done like this. 

I present The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue. I was laughing out loud on the very first page!

Lendler, Ian. 2014. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth. New York: First Second.
(Advance Reader Copy)

A hilarious, graphic novel version of "Macbeth" as performed and attended by the denizens of The Stratford Zoo after the keeper has left for the evening. 

Join them in their seats (avoid the skunk!), grab a snack of rotting carrion from the vendors, and enjoy the play!  Panels featuring frequent audience commentary are done in darkened tones to denote the dim lighting of audience seating.  The play's action onstage is presented in bold color.

Intermission occurs when the zookeeper makes an unexpected late-night sweep of the zoo's grounds.

If you're a humor or comic book fan, Lendler and illustrator, Zack Giallongo, present this Shakespeare classic "as you like it" - brief, humorous, and to the point. Teachers and parents, this is a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for the young people in your life.  

(Alternatively, read it yourself and then head out to see some Shakespeare in the park this summer! I'll be seeing Shakespeare by the Sea.)

Due on shelves in September. This is the first in a series.  Look for "Romeo and Juliet" next.

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10. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace - a booktalk

Marino, Nan. 2013. Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace. New York: Roaring Brook.
(Advance Review Copy provide by NetGalley)

Due on shelves April 16, 2013

Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace 
(a booktalk)


Cecilia has no rhythm, and not too many friends; but she has something special - a story. A story of a song that connects her to New Jersey's wild Pine Barrens as firmly as the roots of its Pygmy Pines and Atlantic Cedars. Everyone in Wares Grove knows the story of the song played by the forest on the night of Cecilia's birth. Only the story of the Pineland's most famous inhabitant, the Jersey Devil, is known more widely.

But two unexpected things occur as Cecilia's 12th birthday approaches. Cecilia's mother begins to doubt the song, and a young boy, a boy who has perhaps lost a song of his own, has arrived in the middle of the night under suspicious circumstances - and he's hiding out at Piney Pete's Pancake Palace.

A song, a secret, and the legendary tale of the Jersey Devil are entwined in this imaginative story of discovery set on the fringes of New Jersey's Pine Barrens, a natural wonder.

Find out who's Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace.

##



Note:
Lest you think that the Pine Barrens is a made-up place, or that New Jersey is nothing more than exits off the Turnpike or Parkway, be assured that the Pine Barrens are in fact, one of the world's most interesting places. The Pinelands cover 1.1 million acres, or 22 percent of New Jersey's land area. (from the official NJ tourism site - see below)

Learn more about the Pine Barrens and other locations in Nan Marino's new book at these sites:



If I didn't have a sore throat, this one would have been a podcast.  Look for a podcast or video booktalk for Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace soon.

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11. The Night Gardener - a review

A short review today.  I rushed to finish, as I knew the kids in my book club would surely want to get their hands on it last week.  I was right.

Auxier, Jonathan. 2014. The Night Gardener. New York: Amulet.

Set in England aground the 1840s, The Night Gardener features an Irish gal with the gift of  blarney, her10-year-old brother with a lame leg and stout heart, a mysterious storyteller, and a strange family inhabiting a creepy mansion on an island in the middle of the sourwoods.

Separated from their parents and forced to flee Ireland due to famine, Molly & Kip have no choice but to accept employment with the Windsor Family, the only inhabitants of the only home in the sourwoods,

At the far end of the lawn stood Windsor mansion.  The house had obviously been left vacant for some years, and in that time it seemed to have become one with the landscape. Weeds swallowed the base. Ivy choked the walls and windows. The roof was sagging and covered in black moss.
But strangest of all was the tree.
The tree was enormous and looked very, very old. Most trees cast an air of quiet dignity over their surrounding. This one did not. Most trees invite you to climb up into their canopy.  This one did not. Most trees make you want to carve your initials into the trunk. This one did not. To stand in the shadow of this tree would send a chill through your whole body. 
Even Molly's indomitable spirit and knack for storytelling cannot shield Kip and the young Windsor children from the horrors that lurk within the shadow of the giant tree.

Historical fiction and horror intertwine in this absolutely gripping story. With similarities to Claire LeGrand's The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, The Night Gardener is the stuff of nightmares.

Coming to a bookshelf near you in May, 2014!


Notes:

My Advance Reader Copy was thrust upon me by none other than the wonderfully funny, Tom Angleberger (of Origami Yoda fame), who insisted that I read it.  Thanks, Tom!

Also by Jonathan Auxier, Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which I reviewed in 2011.

The book's cover was drawn by Patrick Arrasmith and designed by the talented Chad Beckerman, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a while back.

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12. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot - in color!

Pilkey, Dav. 2014. Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot. New York: Scholastic. Illustrations by Dan Santat.

While at ALA Midwinter, I picked up an Advance Reader Copy of Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot. I know what you're thinking - that's not a new book, that was published ages ago!  Yes, but it's back again, and this time in full color, with glossy pages and new "mini-comics" inside.

All of the Ricky Ricotta books will be reissued with new illustrations, and two brand new books are planned for January and March of 2015.  A big campaign is in the works ... stay tuned.

Read an excerpt and see the new illustrations on Scholastic's new Ricky Ricotta web page.

Coming to a bookshelf near you on April 29, 2014.

BTW, my Advance Reader Copy went home with a very happy young boy, one of my best readers. He was looking for my library's "checked-out" copy of the original Ricky Ricotta's Giant Robot. Imagine the smile on his face when I gave him a new, as yet unpublished, full-color copy! (Luckily, I had read it at lunchtime.)

The original Ricky Ricotta artist, Martin Ontiveros deserves credit for helping to create a series that captured the imagination of a nearly a generation of children.  Dan Santat will refresh the series for the next generation.  Long live Dav Pilkey!






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13. Art Detective: Spot the Difference! a review

Remember when the Summer Reading theme was "Be Creative?" If you have an artistic inclination, those were the days - with painting, sculpture, and other creative arts in the forefront!  With the continued focus on the CCSS, and the upcoming science-driven theme of "Fizz, Boom, Read!", art runs the risk of being lost in the shuffle.  Thankfully, there is an effort to combine them - turning STEM into STEAM - adding Art to the traditional Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Here, however, is a book that's all art - specifically, painting.  Enjoy!

Kutschbach, Doris. 2014. Art Detective: Spot the Difference! New York: Prestel.

With the help of a cartoon dog named Charlie, readers explore famous paintings in an attempt to convict an art forger.

Hello! My name is Carl, but my friends call me Charlie the Sleuth.  I'm a detective who solves art crimes, and right now I'm working on a very difficult case.  It's about a shady artist and his forgeries - paintings he offers for sale that aren't really what they appear to be.   ...   Do you think you could help?  

... and with that, the reader (now an art detective) begins a page-by-page quest to spot the differences between famous paintings and forgeries.  Some are humorous.  In "The Sunday Stroll" by Carl Spitzweg, the portly father in the forgery sports a Pinocchio nose and a baseball cap.  Others are more subtle - the color of a parasol, insects in the tall grass.  In all, nineteen paintings (and their accompanying "forgeries") are presented, including VanGogh, Gaugin, Rousseau, and Cézanne. Each has 15-25 differences.

What makes this book so wonderful is that it invites a deep exploration of each painting.  Is greater realism produced by the blemish on a Cézanne melon?  Does the addition of a bird in Passarro's "Place du Théâtre" detract from the hustle and bustle of Parisian citizens? These are not questions that kids will answer, but subconsciously, they may begin to see them. The reader cannot simply flip through the pages.  If he does, the forger will not be found. By noting each mistake, he is compelled also to notice the aesthetic produced by the artist's choices.

The final pages offer thumbnails of each painting with the differences marked by X's.  A note is included about each painting, it's painter, and noting its current location.

Enjoy the search!


Note:
This book is marked with the seal of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), indicating that its paper was derived from "responsible sources."  This is the first time I've seen this logo.  I hope to see it more often!

Don't miss today's Nonfiction Monday postings, and be sure to catch up on all of the great posts on 
Kidlit Celebrates Women's History Month

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14. I Even Funnier - an audiobook review


Below is my review of I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story, as it appeared in the March, 2014, edition of School Library Journal. I loved it!


PATTERSON, James & Chris Grabenstein. I Even Funnier: A Middle School Story. (I Funny Series, Bk. 2). 3 CDs. 4 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. $18. ISBN 9781478925156.

Gr 3–7—Wheelchair-bound Jamie Grimm is working on new material for his upcoming entry in the regional finals of the Planet's Funniest Kid Comic Contest. Patterson and Grabenstein pay homage to the timeless comedy of Abbott and Costello, Groucho Marx, and other greats, while introducing new jokes that speak directly to the middle school experience. Though it will date the series more quickly, references to trendy Vegas casinos and comedians such as Ray Romano, Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Wright, and Chris Rock give the book an air of hip relevancy. Can Jamie find humor in his bullying cousin, Uncle Frankie's medical emergency, and confusing relationships with Gilda Gold and "Cool Girl?" Yes, he can. And if you're wondering if a heavily illustrated comedic novel can make it as an audiobook, that's a yes, too. Young Frankie Seratch is perfectly cast as the narrator of this heartfelt and very funny look at middle school and family relationships. Seratch ensures that the humor comes across as intended, without a hint of mockery or maliciousness. A PDF companion file of the book's illustrations is included on disc three.


##

Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.



Note: I did not read or listen to the first book in the series, and had no trouble getting up to speed with the characters and story.

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15. The Mad Potter - a review

Greenberg, Jan and Sandra Jordan. 2013. The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius. New York: Roaring Brook.

This book, recognized as a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, one of 2013's most distinguished informational books, is a photo-filled biography of George E. Ohr, a master of art pottery. A colorful character and far cry from the reticent or taciturn artist stereotype, Ohr was a self-proclaimed,
 "rankey krankey solid individualist," the "Greatest Art Potter on Earth," and "born free and patriotic, blowing my own bugle."

George E. Ohr pottery workshopSadly, his bravado did not serve him well in his lifetime, as one fan wrote,

"Mr. Ohr is by no means a crank, but is a naturally bright, even brilliant man, who has been led into the belief that the way for him to attain publicity is through the channel of preposterous advertising, and the signs which he placed round Biloxi do him more harm than good."
Still, he was confident in his own mastery of his craft, and future generations came to recognize that he was indeed brilliant.  The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art was built in his honor, and houses a permanent exhibition of his work.

The Mad Potter is a narrative chronology and includes a history of the museum, instructions on how to create a clay pot, extensive Notes, Bibliography and Picture Credits, and my favorite - "How to Look at a Pot," a useful interpretation of the language and method used in describing and evaluating pottery.

A fascinating glimpse into an artist's life, the art of pottery, and the nature and mindset of the art-collecting world.

Note:
Want to see the works of George Ohr?  There is a Pinterest board titled, "George Ohr & His Biloxi Pottery," dedicated to displaying photos of George Ohr and his creations.  Be sure to take a gander.


Today is Nonfiction Monday, and also the final day of our KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month celebration.  Please be sure to catch up on all of the wonderful posts!

http://kidlitwhm.blogspot.com

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16. Lulu's Mysterious Mission - a booktalk

I'm still working my way through all the books I picked up at the ALA Midwinter Meeting.  Lulu's Mysterious Mission is the third installment in this illustrated, chapter book series.  I don't know why I never got around to reading the first two, but I'm making it up with a booktalk and a book trailer.  Enjoy!

Viorst, Judith. 2014. Lulu's Mysterious Mission. New York: Atheneum.
(Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher - artwork not final)



Lulu's Mysterious Mission - a booktalk

Lulu's parents are going away on vacation, and they're doing the heretofore unthinkable, they're going without Lulu! When she meets her babysitter, the militant, Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky, and eats her first bean-and-beet omelet (a "taste" of things to come), Lulu begins to hatch some desperate plans.

Eeny meeny miney mo,
That babysitter’s got to go.
Sooner, not later,
Fast, not slow.
That babysitter's got to go.

Funny with frequent asides by the author, Lulu's Mysterious Mission will appeal to humor fans, ages 6-10. Oh, and, yes, there may be a mysterious mission.

On a bookshelf near you, beginning April, 2014.

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17. Molly Danger - comics in audiobook?

Recently, I reviewed an audiobook version of a comic book.  It sounded crazy to me, but it works!  Below is my review as it appeared in the April/May 2014, issue of AudioFile Magazine.

MOLLY DANGER

Jamal Igle

Read by Olivia DuFord, Robin Miles, Lance Roger Axt, and a Full Cast

Crunch! Kaboom! Pow! A superhero action comic in audiobook format? Yes! With sound effects including crashing cars, screaming citizens, beeping computers, and whirring helicopter rotors, AudioComics brings this new series to life with a full cast of narrators. Likable Molly Danger is a super strong, immortal 10-year-old alien who is never far from action. Orphaned when her parents' ship crashed to the earth, she was recruited by the Danger Action Response Team (D.A.R.T.) to fight the evil Supermechs, who threaten Earth. Quiet music accompanies Molly's sad and lonely backstory scenes, while techno pop and suspenseful music highlight battle and chase sequences. Multiple narrators and excellent special effects make it easy to follow this fast-moving audio comic. L.T. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine

Children • 1 hr. • Audio Program • © 2013

Copyright © 2014 AudioFile MagazineReprinted with permission.





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18. The QwikPick Papers: Poop Fountain - a review

Angleberger, Tom. 2014. The QwikPick Papers: Poop Fountain! New York: Abrams.

(Advance Reader Copy supplied by publisher)

A bi-racial, Jehovah's Witness girl; a poor boy from the trailer park; a nerdy Jewish boyall victims of school bullying.

Sounds like a perfect trio of protagonists for a serious book of realistic fiction, doesn't it? But it's notnot really. These are the founding members of Tom Angleberger's hilarious new creation, the QwikPick Adventure Society, which makes its debut in a new series, The QwikPick Papers.

So, what do this Jehovah's Witness, Jew, and very poor kid have in common? At first, only that each has nothing to do on Christmas Day.  Marilla and Dave don't celebrate Christmas and don't enjoy spending time at home.  Lyle's parents have to work at the QwikPick convenience store all day. But don't feel sorry for them.  It's the perfect day for a secret mission to visit the Poop Fountain, an antiquated aeration device at the town's waste water treatment plant.

Written as an illustrated "report" by the QwikPick Adventure Society, this novel of only 135 pages, Poop Fountain! is stomach-churning disgusting at times, and hilariously funny at others.  That's why kids will love it, but it's not why you should.

You should love it because Angleberger has proved again (as in the Origami Yoda series) that he can tackle sensitive subjects with charm and  a good deal of humor.

     Everybody else was talking about the Super Bowl coming up that weekend, but we all agreed that it was stupid and football was stupid and the Redskins' mascot was stupid.
     Unfortunately, Jeremy heard me saying something and hollered down the table, "Hey, if we wanted any of your crap, I'd beat it out of you."
     "Shove it, Jeremy," said Dave, which was the nicest thing anyone had ever said in my honor.
     When it was time to go, Marilla said, "Hey, if you want, I'll save this seat for you tomorrow."
     That was when, without them even knowing it, Marilla and Dave became my best friends.

Other reasons for you to love Poop Fountain!, "shout-outs" to
  • The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
  • Fred Astaire
  • The Princess Bride (the movie)
  • the BBC
Coming to a bookshelf near you in May, 2014.  Can't wait 'til May?  It's on NetGalley now.

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19. Free Comic Book Day

Today is Free Comic Book Day!


What are you waiting for?

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20. The Giant - a review

Mary-Todd, Jonathan. 2014. The Giant. Minneapolis: Lerner.
(Advance Reader Copy)


The Giant is the latest in the Bareknuckle series featuring young  fighters in New York City, circa 1870.  Luc is the giant - a hulking, kind, illiterate young man who easily wins all of his bareknuckle fights.  The money he earns at the local fight club provides only shabby room and board with any small profit going to Mr. Chilton, the man who brought him from Canada to New York.  Life, however, is better than it was in Quebec; and Luc is not unhappy until a stranger with boxing kangaroos joins up with Mr. Chilton.  Thoughtful and kind, Luc is uncomfortable seeing the kangaroo, Genghis, forced to fight amidst the drunken crowds at the seedy Woodrat Club.

     One day in Quebec, when Luc was chopping wood, a few of the others dragged a man into camp.  The man had been hunting for furs when snow began to fall, covering some of the traps he'd set.  Soon the man stepped into one of them.  The older men brought him indoors before he could bleed out, but it took five of them together to pry the trap loose.
     Genghis's fight the night before worked like a trap on Luc.  Each thought of it was painful, but he could not shake the memory.  He had felt the drain throughout the morning, and he felt it in his room.
Unaccustomed to making decisions on his own, Luc's conscience finally compels him to act independently.

Bareknuckle is a "hi-lo" series, aimed at older, struggling or reluctant readers. There is an art to writing prose that appeals to young adults but needs only a minimal mastery of reading and vocabulary. Jonathan Mary-Todd capably handles the "hi-lo" genre.  Readers will be rewarded with a compelling story of self-determination and a taste of New York history.

For teachers:
  • Pages: 104
  • Reading Level: 4
  • Interest Level: 6-12
  • Ages: 11-18
  • ATOS Quiz #: 163032
  • ATOS AR Points: 2.00
  • ATOS: 4.90
  • Lexile Level: 760
On a related topic, check out this article, "Why Aren't Teens Reading Like They Used To?" 
Hi-lo books can be an option for the teen who doesn't read because he cannot read. As librarians and teachers, we should always have them on hand.

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21. SYNC YA starts today!

As I do every year, here is my reminder about an absolutely wonderful free program!  If you haven't taken advantage of SYNC in the past, do it this year.  The selections (below) are outstanding, and many of them are books that appear on high school required summer reading lists.  This week's free books: WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)


 (from the SYNC website)
What is SYNC?

What?SYNC is a program that gives away two complete audiobook downloads–a current Young Adult title paired thematically with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title–each week to listeners ages 13+ while SYNC is in session each summer.
Titles are delivered through the OverDrive Media Console.  You can prepare for the program by downloading the software to your desktop and whichever device you anticipate listening on.
SYNC is dedicated to introducing the listening experience to the young adult audience and demonstrates that Required Reading can be completed by listening.
SYNC gives away 2 FREE audiobook downloads every week each summer. In 2014, 26 titles will be given away over 13 weeks starting May 15th.
Why?SYNC audiobook titles are given away in thematic pairs. Young Adult focused titles are partnered with classics, required reading titles and other thematically appropriate Young Adult tiles to encourage literacy and listening in young people across the country.
Who?SYNC is sponsored by AudioFile Magazine and titles are delivered through OverDrive Media Console.

SUMMER 2014 SYNC TITLE LINEUPMay 15 – May 21 WARP: THE RELUCTANT ASSASSIN by Eoin Colfer, Narrated by Maxwell Caulfield (Listening Library)
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells, Narrated by Derek Jacobi (Listening Library)
May 22 – May 28CRUEL BEAUTY by Rosamund Hodge, Narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden (Harper Audio)
OEDIPUS THE KING by Sophocles, Performed by Michael Sheen and a full cast (Naxos AudioBooks)
May 29 – June 4CONFESSIONS OF A MURDER SUSPECT by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, Narrated by Emma Galvin (Hachette Audio)
THE MURDER AT THE VICARAGE by Agatha Christie, Narrated by Richard E. Grant (Harper Audio)
June 5 – June 11ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill, Narrated by Meredith Mitchell (Tantor Audio)
JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, Performed by Richard Dreyfuss, JoBeth Williams, Stacy Keach, Kelsey Grammer, and a full cast (L.A. Theatre Works)
June 12 – June 18CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein, Narrated by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda Audio)
THE HIDING PLACE by Corrie Ten Boom, John Sherrill, Elizabeth Sherrill, Narrated by Bernadette Dunne (christianaudio)
June 19 – June 25I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU by Ally Carter, Narrated by Renée Raudman (Brilliance Audio)
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L.M. Montgomery, Narrated by Colleen Winton (Post Hypnotic Press)
June 26 – July 2FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK by Matthew Quick, Narrated by Noah Galvin (Hachette Audio)
OCTOBER MOURNING: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, Narrated by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl, Kate Rudd, Christina Traister (Brilliance Audio)
July 3 – July 9TORN FROM TROY by Patrick Bowman, Narrated by Gerard Doyle (Post Hypnotic Press)
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Narrated by Jim Dale (Brilliance Audio)
July 10 – July 16CLAUDETTE COLVIN: Twice Toward Justice by Philip Hoose, Narrated by Channie Waites (Brilliance Audio)
WHILE THE WORLD WATCHED by Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George, Narrated by Felicia Bullock (Oasis Audio)
July 17 – July 23THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren (Recorded Books)
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES II by Arthur Conan Doyle, Narrated by David Timson (Naxos AudioBooks)
July 24 – July 30HEADSTRONG by Patrick Link, Performed by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine and Scott Wolf (L.A. Theatre Works)
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis Stevenson, Narrated by Scott Brick (Tantor Audio)
July 31 – August 6DIVIDED WE FALL by Trent Reedy, Narrated by Andrew Eiden (Scholastic Audio)
THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane, Narrated by Frank Muller (Recorded Books)
August 7 – August 13LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS by Ben Lesser, Narrated by Jonathan Silverman and Ben Lesser (Remembrance Publishing)
THE SHAWL by Cynthia Ozick, Narrated by Yelena Shmulenson (HighBridge Audio)



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22. The Mark of Athena - this and that

Riordan, Rick. 2012. The Heroes of Olympus: The Mark of Athena. New York: Disney Hyperion.

Usually, I listen to Rick Riordan's books, but I read this one instead.  I think I prefer this series in print.


US trailer

UK trailer

The Mark of Athena, in which:

Percy and Annabeth are finally reunited
We don't see nearly enough of Ella (I love that harpy!)
Seven demigods set forth on a quest
Leo is odd man out
The end is a real cliffhanger


Here's the plot, according to Ella,

Wisdom’s daughter walks alone
The Mark of Athena burns through Rome,
Twin snuff out the angel’s breath,
Who holds the key to endless death.
Giant’s bane stands cold and pale,
Won through pain from a woven jail.

Some odds and ends:

Next up: The House of Hades, due out in October 2013.

1 Comments on The Mark of Athena - this and that, last added: 1/18/2013
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23. Hard Gold - an audiobook review

My review of Hard Gold as it appeared in the January 2013, issue of School Library Journal.

Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859 (I Witness Series). By Avi. 4 CDs. 4:00 hrs. AudioGo. 2012. ISBN 978-1-935430-84-1. $49.95.

Gr 5-8--Early Whitcomb's family is in danger of losing their farm. They're behind in their payments, and a local banker is working with the railroad company to force them into selling. Early's young uncle, Jesse, thinks he has the answer. Handbills from the West indicate that gold has been found in Pike's Peak, Nebraska Territory, and it's there for the taking. Early's parents and older brother discount the reports, but Jesse and Early have the itch. Jesse soon sneaks off (under a cloud of suspicion due to a coincidentally timed bank robbery) to strike gold and save the farm. Early's family forbids him to follow, but when word arrives that Jesse has found gold and is in danger, he strikes out alone, joining a wagon train as a hired hand for a barber, his ailing wife, and feisty daughter. The grueling journey, a budding romance, and the possible ill intentions of fellow travelers add suspense and intrigue as Early learns how desperation and circumstances can change the course of one's life. The historical focus of Avi's novel (Hyperion, 2008) is broad. The endless wagon trains are likened to advancing lines of tiny white ants, but individual hardships are presented with considerably less detail. Dialogue and behaviors ring true, and the narration by Alston Brown is clear and pleasing. The diary style is well-suited for audio format. Similar to the "My Name Is America" series, Hard Gold brings history alive, particularly for boys.

Copyright © 2013 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

##
 

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24. The Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers - a review


Pilkey, Dav. 2013. Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers. New York: Scholastic.

Maybe you're not a fan of Captain Underpants, the superhero alter ego of mean, Jerome Horwitz Elementary School Principal, Mr. Krupp.  Maybe you're not a fan of the frequent misspellings of Mr. Krupp's troublesome 4th graders, George and Harold.  However, it's hard not to be a fan of one of the most wildly popular series for young and reluctant readers.  This goofy, irreverent series continues to gain new fans and flies off the shelf with as much regularity and enthusiasm as the flying Captain Underpants himself. "Tra la la!"

This latest adventure finds George and Harold travelling through time with pets Crackers and Sulu, to correct the events of an earlier time-travelling venture that had disastrous consequences for the future.  Pitted against Tippy Tinkletrousers, Tiny Tippy Tinkletrousers, and Slightly Younger Tiny Tippy Tinkletrousers and their Freezy-Beam 4000, George and Harold will have to use their wits if they are to save Captain Underpants and return to the future.  Six great Flip-O-Ramas are included (they make a fun art activity), as well as a 24-page wordless comic featuring Ook and Gluk.

Although the series is suggested for ages 7 and up, I find that much older kids will read Captain Underpants, too - and not just reluctant readers.  I know high-level readers that enjoy Dav Pilkey's Three Stooges brand of humor and art as well.  I'm not much for bathroom or pratfall humor, but Chapter 2, "Let's Get Serious, Folks," had me laughing out loud.   Explaining why we miserable, regretful and grumpy grownups discourage all kinds of fun, the narrator offers readers this bit of advice,

     Keeping this in mind, you might not want to smile or laugh while reading this book.  And when you get to the Flip-O-Rama parts, I suggest you flip with a bored, disinterested look on your face or some adult will probably take this book away from you and make you read Sarah, Plain and Tall instead.
     Don't say I didn't warn you.
When I checked today, Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers was ranked #213 on Amazon.com.  Not #213 in children's books, #213 in all books. Not too shabby.  And the reviews?  All 5 stars.



If you think kids are the only ones who follow the adventures of Captain Underpants, guess again. Captain Underpants was even featured on NPR's Morning Edition.  Read or listen to "Hold On To Your Tighty Whities, Captain Underpants is Back!" here.

DreamWorks Animation has the film rights to the Captain Underpants series, but no timeline for production has been announced yet.

Oh yes, and he's got an app, too. Preview the Adventures of Captain Underpants app here.

Update: Forgot to add that Advance Reader Copies were provided at my request by Scholastic and NetGalley.

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25. Bad Girls - a good review

Illustration copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Guay
Yolen, Jane and Heidi E. Y. Stemple. 2013. Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Just in time for Women's History Month, the mother-daughter duo of Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple has released a fun compendium of "bad" women in history.  From  Delilah, the stealthy hairstylist of the Bible (circa 110BC), to gangsters' gal, Virginia Hill (1916-1966), Yolen and Stemple highlight history's most rebellious, racy, raucous, reprehensible, and sometimes resourceful women.

The choice of subjects, twenty-six in all, isn't the only thing that makes Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, and other Female Villains a unique addition to the collection of books on women in history. Illustrations are provided by Rebecca Guay. In addition to a comic portrait of each notorious woman,

"Cleopatra"
Illustration copyright © 2013
 by Rebecca Guay
included after each chapter is a graphic novel-style panel featuring Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple.  Each panel is set in a new location (these ladies took their "research" to the ends of the earth - shopping, eating and sightseeing, in Egypt, London, Massachusetts, wherever this gallery of rogues led them!), where Yolen and Stemple debate history's treatment of each woman.  Clever and humorous, these panels remind readers that societal and personal circumstances often dictate behaviors.  With the exception of the truly bad, Elizabeth Báthory, Yolen makes a case for each woman.  No, they may not have all been innocent, but given their particular circumstances, some of these women may have been given a bad historical rap. Stemple provides the counterpoint - bad is bad, regardless of circumstance.  Readers will be left to decide for themselves, but regardless of conclusion, they will understand that the role of women throughout history has not been an easy one.

Despite the subject matter, Yolen and Stemple maintain a light-hearted tone in and Bad Girls, as evidenced by the chapter titles:  "Lizzie Borden (1860-1927): One Whacky Woman," "Anne Boleyn (1500-1536): She Lost Her Head for Love."

Resources are included, offering interested older readers a jump start on where to find further information. There is more than just fun to be had with Bad Girls; download these resources from the publisher's site:
Be sure to read the conversation between Heidi and Jane that appeared on KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month! 


It's Nonfiction Monday.  Today's roundup host is Supratentorial.

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