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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 2,154
26. Guest Book Review: In the Shadow of the Volcano by Wendy Leighton-Porter

shadow

Publisher: Mauve Square Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2013)
ASIN: B00CDUXKUC
Rating: Five stars
Age group: 9+

The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-Volcano-Shadows-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00CDUXKUC

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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27. Guest Book Review: More Than This by Patrick Ness

more

Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (July 22, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763676209
ISBN-13: 978-0763676209
Genre: Dystopian
Suggested reading Age: Grade 9+

Three stars

Seventeen-year-old Seth drowns; in fact his action is deliberate. He wants to escape the horror of his existence. Racked with guilt over the fate of his younger brother, an event he feels is his entire fault, he doesn’t have much to live for. Then he wakes up, back in his old home in England, and things start becoming very weird indeed. He is wrapped in silvery bandages, and his old street is deserted. The whole place is uninhabited and overgrown. He seems to be the only person left alive in the world. He must now forage and scrounge for clothing, food and water. He wonders if this is hell. His dreams don’t help because his previous life comes back to him in huge, unwelcome chunks of memory. Then he meets two other people, with their own unique and strange tales to tell.

Despite the fantastic beginning, with a description that pulled me right into the ocean with Seth, I struggled to finish this book. Parts of it were incredibly exciting and then would grind to a halt with unnecessary introspective and philosophical meanderings on the part of the main character, meanderings which became boring and one had the urge to say, “Oh, just get on with it!” The plus side: an utterly riveting and plausible story premise that comes much later on (just when you are wondering what on earth this is all about and is he dead or not, and if everyone else is dead, then where are the bodies?); really wonderful descriptions that have the reader in the grip of the moment; action and tension to add to the positively bleak and hopeless situation; events that come out of nowhere that have a cinematographic and surreal feel to them; the depth of emotion Seth feels for the loss of his younger brother and his friends. In fact, Seth’s guilt is so palpable that one is consumed with curiosity to learn the truth. The two characters that join him are so different, so lost as well, and so eager to hide the circumstances of their lives/deaths. One feels the pain of the characters as they reveal the humiliating and tragic burdens they each carry.

What I did not enjoy: the flashbacks were sometimes jarring and intrusive, until I accepted them as part of the story-telling process; the fact that this world, while it began as an interesting construct, did not have enough to sustain the story and/or the last three inhabitants. I found the ending abrupt and it short-changes the reader in a way. There were many loose ends in the unfolding of this tale that I feel the author might have tried to answer. The characters were confused and, as a result, the reader becomes confused. It is as if the author didn’t bother to work things out to the last detail, which is possibly not the case, but feels that way. The reference to same sex love/relationships was dealt with sensitively and delicately, in an almost tender way. However, this might surprise readers who are not prepared for it, especially if the reader is younger than the protagonist’s age of 17. Ultimately, the characters’ thoughts on what constitutes life and death, and the option of living in a constructed world, avoiding the reality of a life too sad/tragic/hopeless to contemplate should give readers food for thought. However, I have no doubt that the intended audience of older teens and YA readers will love this book.

http://www.amazon.com/More-Than-This-Patrick-Ness/dp/0763676209/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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28. Book Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

title: Brown 9780399252518Girl Dreaming

author: Jacqueline Woodson

Date: Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin; August 2014

Main Character: Jacqueline Woodson

MIddle Grade Fiction

There are rules to children’s books you know, and Jacqueline Woodson just broke one.

Brown Girl Dreaming is the author’s poetic telling of her childhood and retrospective visits to childhood are supposed to be adult books. Somewhere along when Jackie learned to embrace words and the power they contain, she became entitled to a Poetic License that let this book be produced as a children’s book. Thank goodness!

For me, a Black woman of the same generation who grew up in Ohio with a mother from Mississippi, I quite often found myself pausing and connecting to the story while I daydreamed about my own life. But, this book wasn’t written for me. Will teens relate? Will they find themselves in the spaces Woodson creates when she talks about teeth, not being as smart as, about grandpa’s love and forever friends? I think that they will not only find themselves in these nuances, but they’ll also see how they fit into the larger stories of their family, community and history itself.

In creating a fictional autobiography, Woodson leaves huge spaces that all readers can dive into and find their own meaning. Woodson looks back as adult, but tells the story through the eyes of a child. Her family is her haven whether they’re in New York or South Carolina and even when it looks like things might be going wrong, Jacqueline’s family is perfect in the young girl’s eyes. This girl has a dream to fulfill and we’re going to find out where she gets her strength!

Young Jacqueline is disenchanted with the inaccuracies of memory and the confusion between storytelling and lying.

Keep making up stories, my uncle says.

You’re lying my mother says.

 

Maybe the truth is somewhere between

all that I’m told

and memory.

So, Jacqueline decides to give us her own truths in this story of self empowerment.

I’m so glad Woodson broke the rule!

I reviewed an ARC and am looking forward to adding a final copy to my collection as it will also contain photos.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline Woodson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She now writes full-time and has recently received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her other awards include a Newbery Honor, two Coretta Scott King awards, two National Book Award finalists, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. source


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: african american, Jacqueline Woodson, review

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29. The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

For Fin, it’s just like any other day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.
 
When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold and snow is falling. There’s no internet, no phone, no TV, no power and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learnt in school could have prepared him for this.
 
With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother, Max, must find a way to survive in a nuclear winter … all on their own. 
 
When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?


I love apocalyptic stories set in familiar locations, and the fact that The Sky So Heavy is set in Australia really added to the realism for me, though it explored something entirely foreign (thankfully). Though I'm not familiar with the Blue Mountains, they make for an amazingly atmospheric setting, a great sense of isolation and fear. Though it's an apocalyptic novel it lacks melodrama, and it explores the motivations and emotions of the central characters beautifully. It's about ordinary kids facing an extraordinary situation, a terrifyingly believable one. (I find fictional stories about nuclear war a lot scarier than fictional stories about zombie apocalypses, largely because zombies don't exist in our reality. I mean, I hope.)

Though the novel opens with a flash-forward to a particularly thrilling point in the story, it's not a novel of non-stop thrills - I think the strengths of the novel lie in the way characters are developed as the story progresses, as they are shaped by their circumstances. After the flash-forward, the story returns back in time to prior to the (shall we say event?) event occurring, these opening scenes a little clumsy in that way every apocalyptic story is - Everything was perfect... until! Dialogue is flippant and the impending threat of nuclear war is quickly set up - once everything is established, it's an enthralling read. Some decisions by certain characters (very difficult to avoid major spoilery spoilers here) are difficult to believe, but that probably reflects the reality of extreme situations - people behave in irrational ways. Fin has an authentic and endearing voice, a kid just trying to look after his brother. I think this novel will appeal to teenagers of any gender.

The Sky So Heavy is accessible and thought-provoking and relevant, an enjoyable read. Well worth a look if you're after another frighteningly realistic apocalyptic novel to read after you've finished the Tomorrow When the War Began series.

The Sky So Heavy on the publisher's website

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30. Interview With Award Winning Author Joanne Rocklin.

I first “met” Joanne Rocklin when she graciously read my manuscript for WHEELS OF CHANGE and provided a lovely blurb. As soon as I read one of her stories, I was hooked.  I couldn’t get enough of her heart-warming and delightful books. Her titles, THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT ZOOK, and ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET, capture the joys and sorrows of childhood with wonderful, unique characters and prose that wedges itself into your heart and takes hold. Her new book – FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY – (FLF) debuts this month, so I thought it would be great to feature her on this blog. First, here’s a description of FLF:

A story about a special girl, an inspiring book, and a brilliant (though unintentionally funny) flea.

From the publisher: This gem of a novel takes place in Pittsburgh in 1952. Franny Katzenback, while recovering from polio, reads and falls in love with the brand-new book Charlotte’s Web. Bored and lonely and yearning for a Charlotte of her own, Franny starts up a correspondence with an eloquent flea named Fleabrain who lives on her dog’s tail. While Franny struggles with physical therapy and feeling left out of her formerly active neighborhood life, Fleabrain is there to take her on adventures based on his extensive reading. It’s a touching, funny story set in the recent past, told with Rocklin’s signature wit and thoughtfulness.
Release Date: August, 2014
Amulet Books/Abrams ISBN 978-1-4197-1068-1    fleabrain cover

 
FIVE THINGS LEARNED WHILE WRITING MY MIDDLE GRADE NOVEL FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY
My novel takes place in the 1950’s in Pittsburgh, during the worst polio epidemics of that era. Franny, my main character contracts the disease and can no longer walk. During her hospital stay she is introduced to the recently published Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and falls in love with the book, and, especially, the spider, Charlotte. She longs for a Charlotte of her own. Her wish is granted in the form of the brilliant Fleabrain, her dog’s flea.

1.
Much of what I learned while writing FLEABRAIN LOVES FRANNY were writing concepts I had to learn yet again, concepts that are integral to my own personal writing process. I usually begin with a phrase which arrives out of the blue. The phrase feels promising but doesn’t reveal much about the book I’m going to write. The phrase for this book was “you can stop seeking messages in spider webs.” This was Fleabrain’s first message to Franny, although I didn’t know it yet. I had to remember to just go with the phrase and wildly thrash about while I figure out what it means. I had to learn yet again, that for me, the rough draft is messy and chaotic but eventually leads to the story.

2.
Fleabrain provided Franny a necessary escape while she healed, as well as exciting adventures, affection, companionship and joy. He also taught her when it was time to face the real world. Fleabrain taught me, yet again, that humor will always be present in my books, no matter the seriousness of the subject matter, and that’s a good thing.

3.
Research is an ongoing process. I began reading about this particular era and began to get ideas about my character and her dilemma. I realized I had to set it in Pittsburgh because that’s where Dr. Jonas Salk did his important research on the polio vaccine, and I wanted to include a scientist in the story. But I was already deep into my story when I realized I would have to visit Pittsburgh and interview Pittsburghers who remembered that time. My research kept giving me ideas for scenes and themes for subsequent drafts.

4.
A surprising thing I learned while researching and writing this book was that many, many people knew very little about the polio epidemics. Some had never heard of an iron lung, or any of the treatment methods and medical advances associated with polio. Many were surprised to learn about the isolation and prejudice experienced by those stricken, and that most of the young people were required to attend special schools for “crippled” children. In addition, I myself learned that polio survivors were at the very forefront of the disability movement, agitating for many of the things we take for granted today (curb cuts, handicapped-accessible public places, etc.).

5.
And so, I learned yet again that the theme of my story will only become clear to me during the writing of the book itself, not before, and sometimes at the very end of the process. One of the important things that Franny learned is that it is not she who needs to be repaired by learning to walk again, but society itself, in accepting her.New picture book:

Joanne’s picture book:  I SAY SHEHECHYANU  will be out in January, 2015

Visit Joanne at: http://www.joannerocklin.com

 


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31. Fangirl

Why did I wait so long to read this?  It is awesome.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell    

Fangirl    More later.  I have to finish this book.

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32. Call for Submissions: Raleigh Review

We believe that great literature inspires empathy by allowing us to see the world through the eyes of our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe. Our mission is to foster the creation and availability of accessible yet provocative contemporary literature.

We are looking for poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction that is emotionally and intellectually complex without being unnecessarily “difficult.”

Find our submission guidelines at our website.

Please submit by October 31, 2014 for our Spring 2015 issue. We look forward to reading your work!

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33. Replica by Jack Heath

'Whose body is that on the table?' I ask. 
She stares at me, as though the answer is obvious. 'It's yours,' she says. Before I have time to scream, she types a command on the keyboard. My consciousness whirls away like storm water down a drain. 

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her. 

Who is she? And what does she want? 

Chloe is running out of time to discover the truth. But she's in even more danger than she realizes, and nothing is as it seems . . .

An awesome possible-near-future sci-fi novel with a fantastic premise and lots of killer twists. It's very, very difficult to talk about Replica without accidentally revealing any of these twists (and I hate to be a plot spoiler, I do) but I will say things that are pretty clear from the outset: it's a novel about a replica of a teenage girl, created via 3D printer with silicone skin and a consciousness downloaded as open-source software - technological details that ground Replica in our reality. Replica raises lots of interesting questions about the nature of consciousness and what makes us human. I love thinking about the possibility that I am a robot, or in the Matrix, or that we're all aliens (I use the excuse that I'm imaginative and a writer but I'm actually just a bit odd) so I found this premise immensely engaging. It's set in Canberra but nothing feels overtly Australian about it. Without being horrifically spoiler-ish, I love that for once there's a non-hetero romance in a YA sci-fi/thriller novel - I want to see more of this!

The ending is of the open variety, clearly set up for a potential sequel with a lot of things left unresolved. I am not a fan of endings that spell it all out for the reader and tie up all loose ends - I like to both write and read endings where it's up to the reader what happens next. That said, as much as I love open-ended stories and concise novels, there are things I would've loved to have seen explored further and in more depth - it's a very plot-driven novel and while characters are authentic and believable (Narrator Chloe is realistic and likeable and complex), there's a necessary economical use of detail at times to maintain pace. Between the nefarious organisation and the conspiracies and the robotic clones it was difficult to get to know Chloe's family and friends as well as I'd like (as a reader of primarily character-driven novels) so I'm really looking forward to a sequel.

Replica has an amazing concept and a terrifically intriguing opening scene, and it's stacked with thrills/twists/action that means it's probably inadvisable to start reading it at ten p.m. if you'd like to be asleep at a reasonable time. If you like sci-fi, action, mystery, thrillers or some combination thereof, it's definitely worth a look. Robotic replicas, you guys. How could you not want to read this?

Replica on the publisher's website.

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34. Interview With YA Author Yvonne Ventresca.

Today’s post comes from my writer friend Yvonne Ventresca whose debut YA novel PANDEMIC, hit bookstores in May.

BOOKLIST has this to say about Pandemic: 

Ventresca gives Lilianna a compulsive need to prep for disaster (a coping skill after her assault) and a father who works for a journal called Infectious Diseases. This ups the believability factor and helps the reader focus on the action and characters. As is to be expected in an apocalyptic novel, there is no shortage of tension or death and a few gruesomely dead bodies, but teen disaster fans will likely appreciate that the high schoolers are portrayed as good, helpful people, but certainly not perfect. This fast read will appeal to fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It  (2006), even though the type of apocalypse is different.”
After reading this engaging and suspenseful novel, I can certainly agree that it is, indeed, hard to put down.  Ventresca did a wonderful job of making me feel like I was part of the “going’s -on” and even checked my own pantry to see what kind of provisions I had on hand.  Here’s Yvonne:

Five Historical Facts I Learned While Researching a Contemporary Pandemic
By Yvonne Ventresca

My debut young adult novel, Pandemic, is a contemporary story about a teenager struggling to survive a deadly flu pandemic. Although it is set in present-day New Jersey (what would it be like if a pandemic hit suburbia tomorrow?), I spent a lot of time researching the Spanish Flu of 1918 while writing the book. Parts of my fictional disease are based on the historical influenza, and I was interested in finding out as much about it as possible.     ventresca pic 1

Here are five things I learned while researching Pandemic:

1.  The influenza pandemic of 1918 is commonly called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. In March of that year, known cases occurred among soldiers in Kansas. But in June, Spain informed the world of a new disease in Madrid, and the Spanish Flu was belatedly named as it spread worldwide.

2.  The Spanish flu had a different mortality pattern than previous flu outbreaks, with the highest death rates occurring in adults between the ages of twenty and fifty. The reasons for that pattern are still not entirely understood, but according to the US website Flu.gov, the 1918 virus “evolved directly from a bird flu into a human flu.”

3.  In a time before technology, colored ribbons were placed on doorways to indicate a death in the household. The color of the ribbon indicated the age range of the dead. White, for example, was used for children.       Pandemic cover

4.  In 1918, sanitation measures included wearing face masks, blow-torching water fountains, hosing down streets, and locking public phone booths. Despite these measures, the Spanish flu killed more Americans than all of World War I.

5.  Katherine Anne Porter’s short novel, Pale Horse, Pale Rider is set during the 1918 Influenza. It’s a work of fiction (published in 1939), but was no doubt influenced by Porter’s memories of the pandemic and her own illness. The tragic story provides a sense of the war, the disease, and the desperation of that time.

For resources about preparing for an emergency, visit yvonneventresca.com/resources.html.

For more information about the Spanish flu, refer to:

Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections by Madeline Drexler http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7444179-emerging-epidemics
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29036.The_Great_Influenza
Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History by Lynette Iezzoni http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625882.Influenza_1918
“Pandemic Flu History” http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/index.html

Before becoming a children’s writer, Yvonne Ventresca wrote computer programs and taught others how to use technology. Now she happily spends her days writing stories instead of code and sharing technology tips with other writers. Yvonne’s the author of the young adult novel Pandemic, which was published in May from Sky Pony Press. She blogs for teen writers every Tuesday and for writers of all ages each Friday at http://www.yvonneventresca.com/blog.html.       Yvonne Ventresca Author Photo

To connect with Yvonne:
Website: http://www.yvonneventresca.com
Facebook Author http://www.facebook.com/yvonneventrescaauthor
Twitter twitter.com/YvonneVentresca
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/317481.Yvonne_Ventresca
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/yvonneventresca


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35. The Running Dream book review

Hey everybody! It's Louisa again. This book I am reviewing The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, one of my favorite books of all time.

If I was stuck on a desert island and could only bring one book, it would be The Running Dream, by Wendelin Van Draanen. This book is one of those books you could read a billion times, and never get tired of. Jessica Carlisle is sixteen years old and loves to run. She's a record breaking member of her high school's track team. On the way home from a meet the team bus is involved in a horrific accident. The collision kills one girl, and causes Jessica to lose a leg. Jessica's world is turned upside down. Running is her life! She doesn't know what to do without her leg. Some days, Jessica wonders if the girl who died didn't get the better end of the deal. No pain, no recovery, just peace and quiet. Finally, Jessica plucks up the courage to go back to school. She befriends Rosa, a girl with cerebral palsy who helps Jessica with math, and inspires her to look towards a future full of hope and new beginnings. Jessica has always been very determined, and so she naturally begins to wonder if it would be possible not only to learn to walk, but learn to run, too.With the help and support of her family and friends, she makes progress with her leg, and learns a lot about herself along the way.

Hope you enjoyed it, and be sure to check out this book because it's amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                                       -Louisa

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36. Guest Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snickett

darkBook Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Author), Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
Age Range: 3 – 6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0316187488
ISBN-13: 978-0316187480
Product Dimensions: 11 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches

Rating: Five stars

The dark is a very interesting thing. There’s a lot of it when the light is off, as young Laszlo finds out when his night light bulb fails. Then the dark comes into his room. Prior to this event, the dark lived quite happily in (unsurprisingly) dark places such as the basement, drawers that no one ever opened, and occasionally behind the shower curtains. At night the dark had a huge expanse to roam outside the creaky old house where they both lived. Laszlo and the dark respected each other’s space. The dark knew Laszlo and Laszlo knew the dark—in fact they even greeted each other. Well, the dark didn’t actually answer back. It never spoke until one fateful night when the bulb in Laszlo’s night light fails. The dark calls to Laszlo. Then Laszlo gets out of bed and answers the dark, which leads him all the way down to the basement…

This deceptively simple illustrated story is especially relevant for kids who are afraid of the dark. Who can say they didn’t fear something that lived under the bed, behind the door (no, that was never an old dressing gown!), or at the bottom of the stairs? This book depicts the dark and the fears of a little boy who has to learn that everything has its designated place and purpose. Without the dark there is no light. Without the night there is no day. Without the dark we would never see the moon and the stars. Without all the things in Laszlo’s house, providing hiding places for the dark, there would be no dark. And the dark is a necessary part of life. The size of the book, 11×7.1 inches is actually the perfect size for little hands to grasp. In addition, the dark looks very big (there’s a lot of it, as I said) while Laszlo looks very small, creating a huge contrast between them. The story has mystery, shivers, scary bits, and leads the young reader all the way down to the basement, where the dark turns out to be very helpful indeed. I’d recommend this for all young readers and their parents (who might still be afraid of the dark). It is a charming tale by the inimitable Lemony Snickett, beautifully illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Bccb-Ribbon-Picture-Awards/dp/0316187488 

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.


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37. For The Chick Lit Newbie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. Here is my TOP TEN TUESDAY:

Top 10 Books I’d Give to Readers Who Have Never Read Chick-Lit!

 

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Watermelon by Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes can do no wrong. In my opinion all of her books are absolutely delightful and worth a read. But if you are looking for a starting off point, Watermelon was her first and it introduces readers to the Walsh family. This is a book I could certainly re-read (always a good sign)!

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For Better, for Worse by Carole Matthews

Once upon a time Kelly Ripa started a book club. It was short lived but it was so much fun to watch her have authors sit at a round table and discuss their work. She only picked “Chick Lit” titles and the conversations were so fun. I wish they did more of this type of programming on television today. Carole Matthews was one of Kelly’s first picks and ever since then I have always picked up her latest book. She is quite prolific and so much fun to read.

Confessions of a shopaholic

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Oh my god. I love these books. The movie doesn’t do them justice. And word has it that there is a NEW Shopaholic book scheduled for the fall. I. Can’t. Wait!

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Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

I’m not sure how Jennifer Weiner would feel being put in the “chick lit” label. She has been very outspoken about women not receiving the same respect as their male counterparts and I really hope this doesn’t bother her. But honestly, I can’t make a favorite chick lit list and NOT include Jennifer Weiner. I will say that her writing is deep and authentic and her characters are flawed and wonderful. Chick lit, women’s fiction, literary fiction, fiction. Who cares how you label it as long as you read it and enjoy!

Bridget-Jones

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Obviously this title goes without saying. What would a chick lit list be without our beloved Bridget? Fielding recently revisited Bridget in MAD ABOUT THE BOY. She did not disappoint. Many people were shocked by the current situation for Bridget, but the story rang true and I think Fielding did a fantastic job.

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See Jane Date by Melissa Senate

Harlequin had a book subscription service years ago (sort of like a book-of-the-month club) called Red Dress Ink. You could get a new chick lit title delivered to your door each month. It was so wonderful and every title was fantastic. I believe See Jane Date was the inaugural title so it holds a warm place in my heart.

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Jemima J by Jane Green

I love Jane Green. I love everything she writes. She’s brilliant and funny and smart. I just finished her latest, Tempting Fate, and she has yet to disappoint. Jemima J was her first and it has such a lovable heroine and a great story.

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The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank

This one topped bestseller lists across the country when it was released in 1998. Again, I think this was one of the earlier titles in the chick lit genre and really helped kickstart the public’s interest in the lives of single, spunky women.

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Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Emily Giffin’s books are delightful. They are fun to read and light and yet they always ask difficult questions. She puts her characters in compromising positions and you can’t turn the pages fast enough to find out how they are going to fix whatever mess they have gotten themselves into.

The_Devil_Wears_Prada_coverThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

An inside look at the magazine world (specifically, VOGUE) by a woman who was there. Last summer the sequel, REVENGE WEARS PRADA, was released.

1 Comments on For The Chick Lit Newbie, last added: 8/6/2014
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38. Storytelling Workshop


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How do you teach storytelling in one and a half hours?  It's a trick question because you can't teach storytelling in one and a half hours.

All I can hope to do tomorrow is introduce a group of kids to story structure (the very basics) and the fun of using your whole self to tell a story. 

The workshop will be at the Upper Macungie Community Center - all the heck the way over in Breinigsville, PA and it happens at 10 am.

If you are in that neck of the woods, stop by.

BTW, I am reading two books right now, How We Learn by Benedict Carey.  Whoa!  This book is an eye opener into the workings of memory and into the workings of Learning Scientists.  Non-fiction always takes me longer to digest.

Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuberger is about teaching storytelling to children.  A lot of the activities in this book are about creating stories, rather than telling stories that you have heard or read.  Still, the crafts are open-ended enough to appeal to a wide age range of children.  And the games are great for sharing tales and getting creative juices flowing.

I have downloaded a couple of e-galleys that I am excited to get into soon.  I still have some ARCs from BEA to which I should give my attention. 

Any suggestions on how I can share these ARCs?  Let me know. 

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39. Walking Eagle: The Little Comanche Boy by Ana Eulate

A delightfuleagle story of nature and harmony is found in Walking Eagle: The Little Comanche Boy by Ana Eulate.

Walking Eagle is a mute Comanche boy who has been born clubfooted. With his feet turned in toward each other, his legs make the shape of a heart. He journeys to share his message of nature and harmony with all the tribes.

This is a beautiful book whose flowing text is matched with stunning artwork. Eulate has created a moving story of harmony filled with the power of love and kindness. Explore the magic of storytelling in Walking Eagle: The Little Comanche Boy.

Age Range: 6 and up
Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Cuento de Luz (April 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8415784368
ISBN-13: 978-8415784364

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


0 Comments on Walking Eagle: The Little Comanche Boy by Ana Eulate as of 8/4/2014 12:50:00 AM
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40. Call for Submissions: Muzzle Magazine

Muzzle Magazine publishes poetry, visual art, interviews, book reviews, and performance reviews. We are currently open to submissions in all categories. Please use our online submissions form.

Deadlines:
Issue Deadline
Non-Themed Fall 2014 August 15, 2014 (extension)


Mental Health Issue November 1, 2014
(Guest Edited by Rachel McKibbens)

Only previously unpublished work will be considered for publication. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let us know immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere. Please include a 50-100 word bio in the "Cover Letter / Biography" field of the online submissions form.

For questions about submissions, please email:

muzzlemagazineATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

(Note: Submissions sent via email will no longer be considered as of 1/16/2011; submissions must be sent via our online submissions form).

Poetry Submissions: Please send 3-5 poems at a time. Include all poems in one DOC or PDF file.

Additionally, please make sure your name does not appear anywhere in the document or submission title; our editors like to view submissions blindly.

Upon acceptance of poetry submissions, poets will be invited to send audio recordings of their work.

Visual Art Submissions: All art submissions must be attached as JPEG files. Please send no more than 5 pieces in one submission. In the file name for each piece, please include the title of the piece (ex: Alight.jpeg).

Interviews: Interviews should be less than 2000 words. Each interview must be attached as a PDF or DOC file.

Reviews: Reviews should be less than 1500 words. Book Reviews should be of poetry books published within the past 2 years. Performance Reviews should be of poetry performances that occurred within the past 6 months. Each review must be attached as a PDF or DOC file.
Want a Muzzle Editor to Review Your Poetry Book? If you would like Muzzle to consider reviewing your book, please send a hard copy to:

Muzzle Magazine
ICO Stevie Edwards
312 N. Geneva Street, #5
Ithaca, NY 14850

PDF's for pre-release books may also be sent via email to:

muzzlemagazineATgmailDOTcom (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

Please note that sending your manuscript does not guarantee it will be reviewed.     

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41. Excited about Monstrous: Hire Power from Greg Wright & Ken Lamug

Over the last month, I’ve been working with Greg Wright on a new comic book project called “Monstrous”.

It’s got steam powered robots & monsters that span the imagination. In this pilot, we meet a little girl who has to team up with a monster for hire to avenge her father’s death. What I love about MONSTROUS, is that it has the “IT” factor that I believe will be enjoyed by young and old. It has fun moments, scary moments and head turning moments.

Sometimes I wish could just read the entire series already instead of having to create it. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working on it (trust me – it’s a blast)… it’s the fact that I have to wait on my slow butt to finish it. Ha!

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42. Guest Reviewer: The Laura Line

I recently posted an interview with Crystal Allen (who happens to blog at The BrownBooksShelf) and I felt bad that I hadn’t read The Laura Line and couldn’t review it. So, I reached out to Olugbemisola Amusashonubi-Perkovich (who also blogs at The BrownBookShelf) and she helped me find a most skilled young lady to write a review. Thanks Gbemi and Ms. ARP!  I’d say we all need to rush out and buy this book!

51O8GYjCtrL._AA160_Title: The Laura Line

author: Crystal Allen

Date: Balzer + Bray; 2013

main character: Laura Dyson

guest review: ARP

 

Laura Dyson is a fashionista, she plays baseball, and is good at it too, and she has a crush on the school’s baseball star! However,arpphoto she believes she also has a super embarrassing family history, which she is worried will drive him away. So, she keeps it a secret, and sticks with her best buddy Sage, her only friend at school (besides her teacher, of course.) Just like any other middle schooler, she has a big bully, who apparently thinks that she can’t go a day without a candy. NOT POSSIBLE! She always has a couple of Almond Joys in her pocket, even if they are a little squished, and she tries to keep her special “CHUNKY HUNKY” (a.k.a, her crush, Troy Bailey,) in sight at all times. Unfortunately for Laura, he won’t even give her a second glance.
But then, Laura and her class have to write an assignment, and Laura is pushed on all sides to learn about her long family line of strong, black women. And by doing this, she discovers they might not be so embarrassing after all….
After a few sticky situations like accidentally damaging something important to her family, and more Almond Joys, this funny story comes to an end, and we say goodbye to the wonderful, amazing, baseball player, fashionista Laura Dyson.
This book helped me understand how important it is to stay true to your culture and heritage, and most of all your family. I also liked the way that Ms. Allen showed that appearance isn’t everything.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but if you like realistic fiction, this book is especially for you!

Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: ARP, Crystal Allen, Geust Reviewer

0 Comments on Guest Reviewer: The Laura Line as of 7/28/2014 10:38:00 AM
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43. The Book Brief: The Very Best New Release Books in August

Each month we bring you the best new release books in our Book Brief
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Fiction Books

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Life or Death by Michael Robotham

Audie Palmer has spent the last ten years in prison for an armed robbery that netted 7 million dollars. Money that has never been recovered. Everybody wants to know where the money is; other prisoners, guards and various law enforcement. Audie has survived beatings, stabbings and other assaults and is finally due to be released from prison tomorrow. Except he has just escaped. And so begins an epic thriller. Jon

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The Heist by Daniel Silva

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is in Venice repairing an altarpiece by Veronese when he receives an urgent summons from the Italian police. The eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood has stumbled upon a chilling murder scene in Lake Como, and is being held as a suspect. To save his friend, Gabriel must track down the real killers and then perform one simple task: find the most famous missing painting in the world.

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Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre

A remarkable piece of fiction following proudly in the footsteps of the The Yellow Birds. Wars never truly end for everyone involved and this is the territory Michael Pitre explores in his impressive debut novel. On the eve on the Arab Spring in Tunisia three men are grappling with their futures now that their war has supposedly finished. Each is scarred and tainted by what they have witnessed and the decisions they have made. They are changed men returning to a changing world not sure if they achieved what they were fighting for. And if they possibly did whether it was worth the price. Jon

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The Sun Is God by Adrian McKinty

This is a seemingly dramatic departure from Adrian McKinty’s usual books but he pulls it off marvelously. Based on a true story McKinty heads to the South Pacific circa 1906 to tell a tale of mad Germans, sun worship and possible murder. There is a real 19th century flare to McKinty’s writing and characters in this novel and he has had obvious fun writing it. This may not appeal to all the Adrian McKinty fans but I think it is going to win him a few new ones. Jon

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The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Huraki Murakami

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends at school. By chance all of their names contained a colour. The two boys were called Akamatsu, meaning ‘red pine’, and Oumi, ‘blue sea’, while the girls’ names were Shirane, ‘white root’, and Kurono, ‘black field’. Tazaki was the only last name with no colour in it. One day Tsukuru Tazaki’s friends announced that they didn’t want to see him, or talk to him, ever again. Since that day Tsukuru has been floating through life, unable to form intimate connections with anyone. But then he meets Sara, who tells him that the time has come to find out what happened all those years ago.

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The Golden Age by Joan London

Frank, a young boy is learning to walk again after contracting polio. His family have just arrived in Perth, survivors of Nazi -occupied Hungary.  The family struggle with settling in Australia while mourning who and what they have lost in Budapest. Polio is another cross for them to bear. An amazing novel of people looking for connection and finding it eventually and in unexpected ways.  I loved the way Joan London evoked a time gone by but made it so relevant to today. The writing takes your breath away. Chris

The Final Silence by Stuart Neville

Just when Jack Lennon thinks things couldn’t get any worse an ex-girlfriend contacts him. She has just inherited a house from her uncle and has found a journal detailing murders going back two decades. It appears there are links to her father, a prominent Belfast politician so she has turned to Jack for help, who can’t even help himself at this point. Stuart Neville doesn’t take his foot off the pedal once in this gripping thriller and once again demonstrates why he is the crime writer everybody is and should be talking about at the moment. Jon

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

Pirriwee Public’s annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead. Liane Moriarty’s new novel is funny and heartbreaking, challenging and compassionate. The No. 1 New York Times bestselling author turns her unique gaze on parenting and playground politics, showing us what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

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Non-Fiction Books

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The Climb by Geraldine Doogue

Every parent of a teenage boy knows there are certain conversations they must have with their son. But too often they put them off – or don’t have them at all – because they simply don’t know where to start. Internationally recognised in the field of raising and educating boys, Dr Tim Hawkes provides practical, accessible and invaluable about how to get these discussions started.

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Hey, True Blue by John Williamson

The long-awaited life story of John Williamson: an Australian icon, a much-loved veteran of the music industry and man of the land. Williamson takes us through his life, from growing up on the land in the Mallee and Moree in a family of five boys, to being the voice of Australia.

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Favourites by Gary Mehigan

This book is the result of Gary’s ongoing food obsession: a collection of his most favourite recipes garnered from thirty years in the industry. It includes treasured treats from his childhood in England, diverse dishes inspired by MasterChef Australia, as well as the comforting family meals he cooks for his wife and daughter at home.

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Hell-Bent by Douglas Newton

Most histories of Australia’s Great War rush their readers into the trenches. This history is very different. For the first time, it examines events closely, even hour-by-hour, in both Britain and Australia during the last days of peace in July–August 1914.

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He Who Must Be Obeid by Kate McClymont & Linton Besser

This is the story of how Eddie Obeid controlled (and then brought down) the NSW Labor party. It seems if there has been something on the nose in NSW, Eddie Obeid probably had at least a finger in it. Uncovering new stories daily, this will be up-to-the-minute and mind-boggling. Written by two of the country’s most prominent, respected and award-winning journalists, this story will make your hair curl.

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The Fights of My Life by Greg Combet

Greg Combet has been central to some of the biggest public struggles of our time on the waterfront, the collapse of an airline, compensation for asbestos victims, the campaign against unfair workplace laws and then climate change. His latest target is the labour movement, arguing that the Labor Party and the trade unions must democratise to engage the next generation of activists to fight the good fight: to achieve a more fair and just Australia.

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Childrens’ Picture Books

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The Skunk With No Funk by Rebecca Young

Woody is not what his family expected. He is a skunk with NO funk. A failure. A flop. An odourless plop. Poor Woody! What is he going to do? A funny read that the whole family will love! Jan & Danica

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Lucky by David Mackintosh

Mum announces that there will be a surprise at dinner tonight, but what could it be? Two brothers spend the whole day at school in anticipation, creating more and more elaborate guesses, until they’re convinced it is the best surprise of all time! A book about what family really means and how lucky we are to have each other. Danica & Jan

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Books for First Readers

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Wild Moose Chase by Siobhan Rowden

Twins Burt and Camilla are in competition with each other about everything. So they jump at the chance when they hear about the ultimate competition that will guarantee just one person eternal glory. The Queen wants moose cheese. Moose cheese is scrumptiously delicious, worth an absolute fortune and  near-impossible to make. It’ll require a dangerous world-wide adventure to collect the ingredients for the Queen – but nothing will stop the twins.

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Ciao EJ! by Susannah McFarlane

Strange things are happening in some of Italy’s most famous cities. What is evil agency SHADOW up to? Team Leader Agent EJ12 and the SHINE STARS split up to find the clues. But will EJ12 be able to piece them all together in time to stop SHADOW?

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Books for Young Readers

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Plenty by Amanda Braxton-Smith

Maddy’s home has always been in Jermyn Street, ALWAYS.  Now her Mum and Dad are doing the unthinkable – making her move from the city to a place called Plenty. Nobody understands how she feels, how can she survive without everything and everyone she knows. Then she meets the mysterious classmate, Grace Wek, the girl from the refugee camp. Maybe Grace will understand! Jan

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Emperor Pickletine Rides The Bus by Tom Angleberger

Make sure you don’t miss the last of the Origami series! The gang is off to Washington DC for a school trip, but horror of horrors, Principal Rabbski decrees the field trip an “origami-free zone.” Dwight secretly folds a Yoda from a Fruit Roll-Up, but will Fruitigami Yoda be up to scratch?! Ian

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Books for Young Adults

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Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier

Surry Hills in 1932 was not a pretty place to be, and no one knew this better than Kelpie and Dymphna. These two very unlikely friends share a most extraordinary day hiding from the coppers, rival mob bosses, and the danger that awaits them around every street corner. Will they both make it out alive? Have a read and find out. Danica

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

A beautiful family. A private island. Summer after summer spent …  It is not long before the cracks start to appear, and nothing is what it seems. This book will keep you guessing until the very end! Jan & Danica

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44. Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 16

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I currenty send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book and young adult), two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently, and an announcement about a post that I did at The Nerdy Book Club about the 8th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference (which I am co-organizing). Not included in the newsletter, I shared announcements about the KidLitCon Call for Proposals and Registration Form

Reading Update: In the last three weeks I read four middle grade books, two young adult titles, and one adult book. I read:

  • Sharon M. Draper: Out of My Mind. Atheneum Books. Middle Grade/Middle School. Completed July 5, 2014, on Kindle. Review to come.
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic. Middle Grade. Completed July 8, 2014, on MP3 (library copy). This is my first time listening to the Harry Potter books, and I am quite enjoyig the experience.
  • J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic. Middle Grade. Completed July 12, on MP3 (library copy).
  • Betsy Byars: The Pinballs. Apple. Middle Grade. Completed July 14, 2014, on MP3. This was a re-read of a childhood favorite, and I was delighted to find that The Pinballs completely held up. 
  • Michele Weber Hurwitz: The Summer I Saved the World ... in 65 Days. Wendy Lamb Books. Middle School. Completed July 2, 2014. Review to come. 
  • Naomi Paul: Code Name Komiko. Scarlet Voyage. Young Adult. Completed July 13, 2014, on Kindle. I'm not planning to review this one. I finished it, but it didn't quite work for me overall. 
  • Anthony Doerr: All the Light We Cannot See. Scribner. Adult Fiction. Completed July 3, 2014, on MP3. I enjoyed this novel, though it's a bit slower-paced than my usual reading diet of mysteries and children's books. It's about the lives of two teens (a radio-obsessed German boy and a blind French girl) leading up to events during World War II. 

Incidentally, I did not finish The Silkworm (A Cormoran Strike novel) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Kindle. I had enjoyed the first book in this series, and continued to appreciate the relationship between Strike and his secretary, Robin. However, there were some aspects of the book that were just too dark for me. I put it aside about 1/3 of the way through, not wishing to subject myself to more. Other people report more appreciation for the book. 

I'm currently reading Rose by Holly Webb on Kindle, and Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater in print. I'm listening to Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, while I await the third Harry Potter book (on request from my library). 

As always, you can see the list of books that we've been reading to Baby Bookworm here. We're closing in on 1000 books read so far this year, though this is a lower bound. I'm not good about listing books that we read on vacation, nor about listing books that anyone else reads to her besides my husband and me.

One thing that I've particularly noticed about reading with my daughter lately is that she notices things in the pictures that I wouldn't necessarily notice myself. For example, she always points out the "L" knitted into "Little Louis'" sweater in Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen. She is not good enough yet at observation to recognize the bear and other animals from Klassen's I Want My Hat Back making a cameo in Extra Yarn. But I'm working on her. 

I also love, love, love when a book makes her peal with laughter. The most recent standout in this arena was A Promise Is A Promise, by Florence Parry Heide & Tony Auth. This is the book that taught my daughter the word "Nincompoop", a new favorite. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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45. It’s a Gift! by Gabriela Keselman

giftTeaching the concepts of generosity and kindness just got easier with It’s a Gift! by Gabriela Keselman. The animals around Little Duck’s pool of water are all in a tizzy: Beaver hasn’t put on his hat, so the sun is burning his head; Squirrel has lost her nuts and has nothing to eat; Bear’s water jug tipped over and he has nothing to drink; and Mouse doesn’t have a pencil and can’t write down his poem. In a selfless act of friendship, Duck shares what he has with his friends, and they repay the favor when it’s time.

This is a lovely story that teaches children to think of others. Duck shares what he has even when it means his enjoyment is impacted. It’s an interesting concept that he shares to the point where he is left with absolutely nothing. I didn’t get why Duck couldn’t just share some of what he had or let the friend borrow something instead of giving it up entirely.

It’s still a nice story with a sweet message that is made even more meaningful by the delightful illustrations by Nora Hilb.

Rating: :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 3 and up
Grade Level: Preschool and up
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: Cuento de Luz (May 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8415784929
ISBN-13: 978-8415784920

 

I received a copy of this book from the publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


0 Comments on It’s a Gift! by Gabriela Keselman as of 7/17/2014 12:05:00 AM
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46. Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon

You said we could write anything we wanted. The first thing that came into our minds. Blue fish, red fish, green fish...

Clementine Darcy is floundering. She wants to be the kind of fish who swims to the swish of her own fins - upstream, not simply carried along by the current.

But she is finding the swirling waters of school and home difficult to navigate: her friendship group is splintering, her brother Fergus won't leave his room, her sister's life is not as perfect as Clem thought...and then there's the New Boy, who is dapper and intriguing, but hiding secrets of his own. Clem is desperate for everyone - including herself - to be happy, but she discovers that her idea of helping doesn't always work as well as she imagined.

Can Clem be the girl she wants to be? Will she learn to accept that there are things she can fix and things she cannot? Will she find a way to know the difference?

Writing Clementine is such a beautifully endearing story. I loved the use of Tasmania as a setting, as I have in Kate Gordon's other novels. Clementine has many of the aspects I love about contemporary Australian YA, including a very genuine voice and the multi-faceted issues of growing up being handled deftly, including Clementine dealing with her brother's mental illness, relationships with her long-time friends shifting, and romantic interests as well as super unpleasant advances. Clementine's friends Cleo and Chelsea-Grace I found to be unpleasantly realistic (I dug my fingernails into my palms a little bit, thinking I know these girls) but they, too, were shown to have depth - growing up and figuring it out, same as Clementine (it is so much easier to resort to 'the protagonist is righteous! these girls are just mean, two-dimensional bimbos!' None of that cliche business here).

I tend towards being an impatient reader these days, wishing for every author to be more concise (so many books to read! So little time!), and Clementine was short but still powerful. I loved that Clementine was a bigger girl without it being a thing - she is happy within herself. I loved that the truly creepy and gross Sam from Grade 10 wasn't allowed to get away with his awful behaviour. I loved the steampunk society, and that the love interest was so not traditional YA - he's odd and old-fashioned and adorable. Clementine is fourteen and tends towards naivete, and things are wrapped up very neatly and positively - if you like your endings happy with your protagonist's wishes being fulfilled, this is the book for you (is that a spoiler? I think you can tell it's an ultimately happy book from that pretty cover). It is realistic but mostly steers away from darkness (her brother's mental illness, for instance, is not dealt with in depth - it's an outsider's view). An easy read, in the form of a letter, with a very charming narrative voice.

Heart-warming and humorous, with a very sweet romance at the centre, Writing Clementine is a lovely read and one that I think preteens and younger teenage girls will love.

Writing Clementine on the publisher's website
Kate Gordon's website

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47. The Torchlighters Biography Series: Corrie ten Boom by Kaylena Radcliff

corrie

From the Christian History Institute comes a biography from their Heroes of the Faith line. Corrie ten Boom and her family are watchmakers in Holland. When World War II erupts, Hitler’s army takes over their country and begins rounding up their Jewish neighbors. Read the story of how one family stood strong in faith against a great evil.

Recommended for ages 8 – 12, this biography shares the life of Corrie ten Boom, her sister, Betsie, and their father who hid Jewish people from the Nazi army during World War II. They would end up arrested, some going to concentration camps, and Corrie struggled to hold onto her faith in such darkness. Her amazing story is shared in this biography that is accompanied by historical photographs, illustrations that match the artwork from the associated DVD, interesting facts about the Netherlands, a timeline and a glossary of terms.

My daughter and I watched the DVD together. In spots, I had some difficulty understanding what the characters were saying, but overall the sound quality is good. Some of the images–though animated–might be disturbing for the youngest viewers; like the scene of the Nazis banging on doors with the butts of their guns and yanking people out onto the streets. Betsie is beaten with a club by a German guard in the camp and an ill-mannered nurse informs Corrie when she comes to see her sister that she is “in there with the other dead bodies.” Female prisoners are seen being carted off in trucks to the gas chambers; but while Corrie looks upon the gas chambers, it is not made apparent to young viewers what is going on there. So there is definitely historical accuracy worked into this production.

This is a moving story that will remind readers/viewers of the power of forgiveness and how leaning on faith can bring you through adversity. I am glad to add this book and DVD to our home library. It would also make a fabulous addition to a church library.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)dvd

The Torchlighters Biography Series: Corrie ten Boom
Author: Kaylena Radcliff
Paperback: 85 pages
Publisher: Christian History Institute (May 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1563648733
ISBN-13: 978-1563648731
List price: $9.99

DVD

Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Color, NTSC
Language: English
Region: All Regions
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Vision Video
DVD Release Date: October 25, 2013
Run Time: 34 minutes

I received a copy of this book and DVD from the Christian History Institute. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

This post first appeared at the Christian Children’s Authors blog.


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48. review: Naughts and Crosses

+-+35697920_140Title: Naughts and Crosses

author: Malorie Blackman

date: 2001; Simon and Schuster

main character: Callum McGregor

 

 

Crosses and naughts. Blacks and whites.

Crosses and noughts is the British name for tic tac toe. Malorie Blackman uses the title to describe an alternative universe where Blacks are superior to Whites with Jim Crow type racism playing out in a contemporary setting. Callum is among a small group of naughts selected to attend a prestigious all Cross school. Sephy, a Cross, is Callum’s close friend and also attends this school.

At the same time, there’s espionage and tom foolery as the Cross dominated government works to maintain power. Things come to a head, people are killed and Callum becomes something we could not have predicted at the beginning of the book. He and Sephy begin as such naïve innocents so lacking in motivation that they do little to draw readers into the story. They somehow seem too old and too involved with the world to not understand how race is played out.

Blackman predicates her world on the racism that currently exists but in her world the privilege is reversed. Simple enough job of world building there! As mentioned, I didn’t care for the characters enough to invest in the story. The back and forth ‘lets be friends/lets not be friends’ was fickle and annoying. Labeled as a thriller, suspense was slow to boil. I was surprised that there were so many ‘Britishims’ in the book that left this American often wondering about the meaning. I wonder about the editing that changed the spelling in the title but left so much British in the books.

Naughts and Crosses is an award winning 5 books series that is extremely popular around the world. Malorie Blackman has written over 50 children’s and young adult books and currently serves as the United Kingdom’s Children’s Laureate 2013-15. Her most recent books is Noble Conflict (Doubleday).

Needless to say, I want to read more works by Ms. Blackman. While this book didn’t work well for me, there may be others that will.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: British, Mallory Blackmon, speculative fiction

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49. #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

It’s no surprise I’m a huge Patrick Ness fan. In the past I’ve written about how inspiring his work is as well as the time when I was actually able to meet him in person. I’ve also reviewed quite a few of his books:

The Knife of Never Letting Go
The Ask and the Answer
Monsters of Men
A Monster Calls

I’ve also interviewed the narrator for the audiobooks, Nick Podehl, whom is a personal favorite of mine. The way that Nick narrates The Knife of Never Letting Go will turn any non-audiobook fan into a audiobook listener for life. He’s brilliant!

Chaos Walking paperback

So when the publisher, Candlewick Press, reached out to me to offer a giveaway featuring the newly designed paperback covers for The Chaos Walking series I couldn’t resist. Not only do I love the redesign, but it also reminds me a bit of the UK edition that I love. Also, they’ve added additional content to each book! Each paperback includes a short story that was only previously available in eBook format. Candlewick has really done an excellent job with this new edition and I’m thrilled to have a full set to giveaway to one There’s A Book reader!

Giveaway!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Candlewick Press I have ONE FULL SET of this new edition of The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness which also includes a bonus short story within each book! Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US and Canadian residents only.

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Find the new paperback edition of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 0763676187 / 9780763676186

Thank you so much to the publisher, Candlewick Press, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, Google+ and on Facebook!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

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Original article: #NoiseforNess Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness Giveaway

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50. The Astrologer's Daughter by Rebecca Lim

Avicenna Crowe’s mother, Joanne, is an astrologer with uncanny predictive powers and a history of being stalked. Now she is missing.

The police are called, but they’re not asking the right questions. Like why Joanne lied about her past, and what she saw in her stars that made her so afraid.

But Avicenna has inherited her mother’s gift. Finding an unlikely ally in the brooding Simon Thorn, she begins to piece together the mystery. And when she uncovers a link between Joanne’s disappearance and a cold-case murder, Avicenna is led deep into the city’s dark and seedy underbelly, unaware how far she is placing her own life in danger.

I've spent five minutes looking at synonyms for 'surreal' but none of them quite fit this novel - 'whimsical' is too flippant and 'absurd' doesn't sound complimentary and 'dreamlike' belies the sinister aspects. The Astrologer's Daughter leans towards the incredible and the extraordinary without ever stepping right over into paranormal. There are parts of it that feel not-quite-realistic. The astrology is detailed and authentic (or at least authentic-sounding - I wouldn't be able to tell). Joanna, for a character that never actually appears, is utterly fascinating. There is a surreal aspect to this novel but it is still very much cemented in our reality: the city of Melbourne is a beautifully evoked setting, drawn with much affection.

It is not quite like any other YA novel I have read, a fabulous mash-up of genres. The plot is beautifully constructed but not at the expense of character development. There is resolution but there also isn't resolution. I thought it was leading towards something but then it ended in another way entirely - it ends in very thrilling fashion, all the same. I think if you are looking for a novel that is refreshingly different - complex and curious and a bit not-of-this-world - this is maybe the novel for you. I really enjoyed it.

The Astrologer's Daughter on the publisher's website.

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