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A place for boys to find terrific books and tell other boys about great reading.
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1. We're Honored to Be a Best Blog

Look here, guys! We've been honored by Middle Shelf Magazine, an online magazine about middle grade books, with a Best of the Blogs Award for 2014!!!!

 The Iron Guy is actually speechless. I'm very touched, so all I can says is "Thank you," to Middle Shelf Magazine. And to all you boys who've read this blog and written in those terrific reviews. And to all you grownups who've supported us over the years. And especially to Charlotte Mecklenburg Library for letting me tell you about terrific books these seven years and providing all those books to all you readers.

Thanks again and check out the Middle Shelf site here and look at pages 52-53--and be sure to check out the other blogs as well.

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2. Proof Positive of the Creativity of GUYS!

Greetings, guys and fans of language and creativity everywhere. A lot of people say that boys don't like to read; this blog is dedicated to proving them wrong. A lot of people also say that boys have no love of language, no creativity and no ability to express themselves in words. Well, I don't believe that either. Give a boy a blank space and some letters and, in a very short time, he will come up with something truly unique.
And now I have proof--no, I have more than proof--of what I say. I have photographic evidence

We recently got one of those boards for the library that you can put magnetic letters on. Of course, most
of the time the little kids use those boards but last Saturday four middle-grade boys came to the library to hear the great Thomas Tillman do an African drumming program.
BTW, if he ever comes to a library near you, go see him! He's terrific! Anyway, after the program, someone told me that one of the four boys (who is not in the picture) had written something with the letters on the magnetic board and I should see it. I couldn't wait--I knew that this fellow had used all his creativity to write something original, something amazing, something so distinct that only a guy would think of it. And here it is:
See there? Something only a GUY would say!

And they say boys don't know how to use the English language!

Well done, guys!

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3. Unstoppable: Breakaway and The Copernicus Files: The Forbidden Stone

Greetings, fellow reader guys! We've survived the month of the Mushy Holiday; in fact, a lot of us survived something far worse--the SNOWPOCALYPSE of 2014!! Yes, my brave and hearty guys, the snow came and covered huge portions of the country this month.  Especially in Charlotte. Yes, the snow came in thick and heavy but did it stop the MANLY MEN in Charlotte? Never! You see a picture of us manfuly going out to get our bread and milk.  And did the snow stop the Iron Guy from getting to the library?  HA!! I just hitched up my trusty dogs and mushed on in.

Well, I'm just being goofy, of course. The schools and libraries were closed for almost a week. It made for a minivacation and it was fun, sledding and making snow ice cream. And I got some reading done. Some it related to my 2014 resolution but these books caught my attention and I just had to tell you about them first.

Unstoppable: Breakaway by Jeff Hirsch

Everything stops when a new 39 Clues book comes out. This third series is proving to be every bit as fun and exciting as the other two. Dan and Amy are still leading the charge to find the components to make the antidote for the Cahill serum. Why? Because J. Rutherford Pierce, owner of a giant media conglomerate, has discovered the serum and is on a fast track to world conquest. They, along with Jake and Atticus Rosenbloom, travel to Tunisia for the second ingredient, only to find it exists only in a place that--well, many people thought never existed! Meanwhile, Nellie Gomez infiltrates the Trillon laboratories to see what connection it has to Pierce's plans. What she discovers shocks and scares her--and it will do the same for you!
And Pony, their resident computer hacking genius, finally meets the ultimate computer hacker--who is working for Pierce! Along the way, the Cahills meet Pierce's serum-enhanced goons and are called criminals by major newspapers. Plus the responsibility of leading the Cahills drives Amy off the emotional deep end, causing her to take hugely dangerous mission to the Arctic alone. Guess who she meets there--that's right, more of Pierce's henchmen! Can she possibly survive? Can any of the Cahills? Could anyone? You've got to read this one to find out!

The Copernicus Files: The Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbot

Now I didn't know about this one and was intrigued. It's all about guardians of a 400-year-old secret that could change the world, an evil organization that will stop at nothing to find it and some kids who unexpectedly find themselves caught up in all this and must solve puzzling riddles to find pieces of the old secret.

Wait a minute--does this sound familiar?

All 39 Clues fans would immediately shout, "YES!" Some would even think it'd be a rip-off series but I knew better. How'd I know?  Because of the author, the wonderful Tony Abbot. He's written a lot of terrific books for guys of all ages, such as The Secrets of Droon, Kringle and The Postcard. So I figured this one would be good and I was right! Mr. Abbot spins a tale that really hooked me and I spent all day with it until I reached the very end!
Wade Kaplan's dad is an astronomer, giving Wade a love for the stars. His uncle Henry even gave him an old star chart, beautiful and mysterious. But then a cryptic email from Uncle Henry puzzles him and before he and his father can figure it out, they learn that Uncle Henry has been murdered! They go to Berlin for the funeral but learn there was more to Henry than they guessed. And then they find out that their home back in the US has been broken into! Pieces of puzzles start coming together and soon they are on the run from the shadowy organization that wants the pieces of the secret and routinely wipes out people who get in their way. Wade and his family and friends have to outwit and outrun the bad guys in creepy old tombs, dense jungles and tropical caves. But what could simple and ordinary kids and grownups do against ruthless worldwide killers?
As I said, this one hooked me and it'll hook you! It's got everything that we love about The 39 Clues--action, narrow escapes, truly bad villains, exotic locations and characters we come to know and cheer for. Don't waste any time, guys! Go and check it out NOW!! You'll be really glad--and then you'll be holding your breath for the next one.

And if you've read either or both of these books, write in and tell us!

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4. Books That Guys LOVE (2014 Edition)

February greetings to all the reader guys out there. The Iron Guy recently noticed that February has a lot of holidays for such a short month. There's Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year (which actually started on January 31 but is celebrated for two weeks), and President's Day.

Then there's-----that holiday!!

Yes, that holiday--February 14. The one devoted to--to--pink hearts and romance and looooovvee. All the things that make MANLY MEN shudder. 



Well, all this talk about romance brings to mind a post I wrote last year and one I wrote in 2011 and even one from 2009. These all talked about books and things GUYS love. What do guys LOVE? 
Large Pizzas
Movies where lots of things blow up
Really close football/basketball games
Ice-cold drinks on hot days

And what books do guys LOVE?

Of course, we have Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, etc. Based on what other guys have said over the years, here are:

Dan Gutman books, especially the My Weird School series

Gordon Korman books, especially the Island trilogy

Science Fair by Dave Barry

Three of my favorites are:

The Alvin Ho books (Funny for younger and older reader guys as well as grownups):

The Brixton Bothers series (great comedy and mystery):

And Treasure Island (for older reader guys but still the best pirate story ever):

There are lots and lots more but this is a good start. How about YOU? What books do you LOVE? Leave
a comment in the space under this post and I'll post them. 

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5. An Old Friend, A New Friend

Greetings, all you rocking, rolling and reading guys. You have certainly rocked in the new year! Today we have not one but TWO reviews from a couple of very cool reader guys. The first is from our old friend Michael, who's been sending first-class reviews for--oh, what, SEVEN years now? Let's hear about what he's read lately:

The Infinity Ring, book 6
Behind Enemy Lines
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
      Dak, Sera, and Riq must defeat the Nazis in World War II by pulling off the biggest spy mission of all time. But the complications come when Dak and Sera are forced to briefly return to the present day, and when they go back to 1943, they bring an uninvited guest... Tilda, leader of the SQ. How can they possibly hope to defeat Tilda and Hitler at the same time? Everything hangs by a thread in this suspenseful 11th adventure of the time traveling trio! Now, for those of you who read my Cave of Wonders review, you may remember how I was going on about how good I wanted Behind Enemy Lines to be, since the time period has a lot of modern resources, and since it claimed to be a spy novel. I'm glad to say that this book does not disappoint! Despite the lack of action, I was still intrigued by the secret plans, the labyrinth of complications, and the real-history facts. The characters' reactions were fantastic, and the balance between the spy mission and the time travel problems was perfect. Even though some of the other books of this series had more action, I still believe that this is the best-written book of the series so far. Definitely worth reading! The series will end with the next book, The Iron Empire, by James Dashner, the author who wrote the first book of this series. I hope it's a satisfying finale. Stay tuned for the next review!

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, ukeist, mandolinist

 Thanks, Michael, and well done! I was afraid The Infinity Ring series would be a 39 Clues rip-off but this sounds really good. Have any of you guys out there read it?

And now I'm pleased to announce that we have a new reader guy in our ranks. His name is Brady and he comes to see me at the Myers Park library. Let's see what Brady has read:

I just read a book from Dan Gutman called The Get Rich Quick Club. I like it because of the character Gina. She makes summer fun in a small boring town, by convincing a group of kids they can all become millionaires before summers end. I would rate this book 4 and a half stars out of 5 stars. If you like fiction this is a book for you.

Thanks, Brady! I love fiction, so I might have to get this one. In fact, I was going to read it but someone claimed it before I had the chance. One of my Iron Guy Resolutions is to read some Dan Gutman books this year. And remember, Grady, the first time any guy sends in a review, he gets to come here and get a free book out of our ultra-cool prize box!

Any other guys out there itching to get a free book? Send us your reviews!

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6. Iron Guy's 2014 Resolutions

Happy 2014!! Yes, I know it's halfway through January, but it's been since December since I've talked with you and I want to wish you a happy new one to all of you. Now, during January, grownups like to make resolutions--you know, promises to yourself to do things better in the new year. The Iron Guy is no exception and here are my resolutions:

Read more books for younger reader guys. I've realized that I haven't read many books for our younger guys, so I plan to take care of that.

Read more nonfiction. There are a LOT of really good nonfiction books on the library shelves and it's a shame not to let you know about them.

Read some Dan Gutman books. A lot of reader guys are absolutely crazy for Dan Gutman, especially his My Weird School series. I've read a few of his books, really liked one and have been so-so on the others. I want to try again and see what all the excitement is about.

Read the Origami Yoda books. All three were at the library recently and I checked them all out. A lot of guys like these books.

And one more--read the Boy-Girl Battle series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I read the first one--the Boys Start the War--and really enjoyed it, so I want to read the rest of them.

All right, it looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Can I do it? HA! Of course! It may take the rest of the year, but how could anyone doubt the toughness and determination of the IRON GUY?

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7. Presidents as Tough Guys

This is the time of year when bloggers post their Favorites of 2013 lists or Best Books for the Holidays lists but the Iron Guy, never afraid to do things differently, is going to do something, well, different. I'm going to recommend a couple of biographies. These would make great reading over the break. As well as doing some fun reading like Unstoppable: No Where to Run, it's good sometimes to read about real-life people and learn from the great lives they led. Two of the best biographies I've read in a long time are To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport and Lincoln: A Photobiography by the great Russell Freedman. (BTW, this blog post also appears in the Nonfiction Monday blog)

The first one is brand new; in fact, I got it just a couple of days ago. It's a terrific story of a remarkable man.
Theodore Roosevelt was, in some ways, one of the toughest guys ever in the White House. He herded cattle for three years in the Dakotas, led the Rough Riders in the charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War and galloped around Washington DC every morning on horseback. but he didn't start out that way. Teddy was a sickly child--he "coughed, sneezed, wheezed, had raging fevers, and hardly ate. His asthma was so bad that he had to sleep sitting up in bed or in a big chair." But he didn't let that stop him. He lifted weights, climbed mountains and exercised enough to build his body into health. He also read "books about the soldiers at Valley Forge and frontiersmen Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone" saying, "I felt a great admiration for men who were fearless. I had a great desire to be like them." As a politician and president, he fearlessly took on corrupt police departments, city governments and business monopolies. Not only that, he explored the western wilderness, fell in love with and preserved much of the great outdoor USA as National Parks. TR lived an epic life and this is an epic book. The story is interesting and the illustrations are great. And it's a Good Quick Read. I finished it in about a half hour, but it has stayed with me. What a guy! What a story! What a book! And it's a fun read too--just wait until you read about the giant tortoise escapin in his college dorm room!

The other book is older (it came out in 1987) but it's still good. In fact, it's one of the most remarkable books I've read this year. Lincoln: A Photobiography is another epic story about an epic life. Abraham Lincoln was the essential American success story; the poor uneducated boy who became President. He was born in the middle of nowhere to parents "who couldn't read or write at all." but decided to educate himself out of poverty. He borrowed books whenever he could and read all the time. He would even "carry a book out to the field with him, so he could read at the end of each plow furrow while the horse was getting its breath." Eventually he learned law and went into politics. Not only was he physically tough ("his hard physical had given him a tough, lean boy with muscular arms like steel cables") but he was morally and mentally tough, taking on things that would have crushed many other men. He kept the country going during the Civil War when most everyone wanted to give up, fought tirelessly to end slavery, endured criticism for years (being called once "the original gorilla") and all this time having to fight against sever depression. But, in the end, he triumphed. He won the war, ended slavery and became the most respected man of his time. Until his tragic end. I need to say it again--What a guy! What a story! And what a book!! Russell Friedman is a powerful writer and really brings this tremendous story to life. I've read a lot about Abraham Lincoln but still found myself turning page after page to keep reading this incredible story. And it won the Newbery award for best kids' book of the year in 1988. Rightly so.

And do you what these two great men had in common? Other facing up to great challenges? Other than leaving their worlds better places? Other than bringing themselves up out of bad childhood situations?





That's right, guys. One of the ways they brought themselves out bad circumstances was reading books. Roosevelt inspired himself with books about soldiers and frontiersmen. Lincoln read books and educated himself into a better life. READING CHANGES LIVES. Remember that. That's why I run this blog. Get books into your hands, boys, and who knows what you could accomplish.

Well, thanks for letting onto my soapbox. If you want to read about how reading changes lives, click on the "Being Teddy Roosevelt" tab under this post under this post and see my review of that terrific book. If you'd like to read about another book by Russell Freedman (about Valley Forge!), click on the "Russell Freedman" tab. Same thing if you want to learn about more biographies.

 I hope all of you have a great holiday season.
 And be sure to write in to us!

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8. Unstoppable--More 39 Clues Excitement!

The votes are all in from the Battle Bunny vs Barbarian Battle Bear poll and guess what--we had a tie!! So neither of them won! Would that mean they'd be locked in everlasting battle? I was afraid that would happen but then the quick-thinking Iron Guy did what he does best--he got out the right book. Battle Bunny got into it so much that he forgot his plans for world domination.

And what book was it? You guessed it-- Unstoppable: Nowhere to Run by Jude Watson. It's the first book in the newest 39 Clues series. And it's good!

Amy and Dan Cahill are back but now they're facing their greatest challenge yet. A big media mogul named J. Rutherford Pierce has sent his minions to photo Dan and Amy and smear their names in his tabloids. And muscular goons are following them--and nearly killing them! J. Rutherford Pierce looks unnaturally healthy. He put together a huge media empire in 6 months, when he had failed at all his businesses before. How did he get to be so crafty and smart? And why his goons super strong? Why don't they get tired? Is it possible that Pierce found the formula to the Cahill serum? If so, he truly is unstoppable! That's bad news for the rest of the world. Are Dan, Amy and friends even able to stop the unstoppable. For the world's sake, they'll have to! Otherwise--well, it's too terrible to think of what will happen!

This book has all the things we guys love about The 39 Clues--fast-paced action, narrow escapes, ultra-bad villains, old secrets hidden in cryptic codes and exotic locations. All our friends are back too; Jake and Atticus, Ian Kabra, Jonah Wizard and Hamilton Holt, as well as new ones like Pony, the ultimate computer geek. And new villains too, like J. Rutherford Pierce and Waldo, who is really April, the ultimate computer hacker. Plus, as always, there's a coded message. Can you crack it, guys? (hint--Greek alphabet)
I really enjoyed this one and hope the rest of the books in this series will be as good. I was, frankly, disappointed in the last book of the Cahills vs Vespers series--too many loose ends and no real background to Vespers One's identity and no explanation of how the Doomdsay device worked--but the first book in that series was really good. I was disappointed when that series, that started out so well, ended the way it did. I hope this one stays as good as this first book. But if they are--well, we have a really fun ride ahead!

I know this book has been out for a while but, if you haven't read it, it would be great to have over the holiday break. If you haven't read The 39 Clues, start with The Maze of Bones and read the whole series. The 39 Clues website too. it's a lot of fun! What a great way to spend all those days between now and the day after New Year.

And are there any 39 Clues fans out there? Any Agents? If so, what branch are you? I don't mind saying that I'm a Tomas. Just the right branch for the IRON GUY!!

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9. Battle Bunny Invades the Library!!

I was in the library, minding my own business and reading one of my favorites

when I heard a voice say, "Today is my special day and I will take over the world!" I looked behind me and saw

Battle Bunny!!

"I'm the Iron Guy and I'll stop you!" I said as I prepared to defend my library.

But, with his special powers on his special day, even the Iron Guy wasn't tough enough.

I thought the library was doomed until I heard another voice say, "Unhand my friend!" We looked up and saw

Birthdayarbarian Battle Bear!!

The two enemies squared off--but who will win?

Will Battle Bunny take over the library and the world?? Or will Barbarian Battle Bear stop his evil plans?

 Only YOU can decide!! 

Vote on the poll on the left-hand side of the page. I'll leave it up through December 15. On December 16, I'll let you know whether Battle Bunny or Barbarian Battle Bear wins. So vote, guys--the fate of the library and the world is in your hands!!

UPDATE--OK, the battle between the two titans is still raging, so I'll extend the deadline. The poll will now stay open through December 19. VOTE!!! And may the best battle animal win!

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10. You're Never Too Old for Battle Bunny!

Even though the holiday season is upon us and Thanksgiving is past, I'm still thankful for great writers like Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett who consistently give guys hilarious books. Mr. Scieszka has, of course, made us laugh and thrill with the Time Warp Trio series and also The Stinky Cheese Man. Mac Barnett has earned his Guy Reading stars with the Brixton Brothers mysteries as well as Count the Monkeys. This time they've combined their tremendous talents (along with marvelous illustrator Matthew Myers) and given us Battle Bunny, one of the most fun and original things I've read in a long time.

Here's what you need to know before you start--this book has not been messed up!!! Some one did not come into the library and go crazy with a Sharpie! The idea is that this book was originally one of the sugary-sweet, cutesy-wootsy picture books about a sweet little bunny on his birthday--the kind of book that's OK to get when you're four years old. However, some good-intentioned grandmother gave it to a boy named Alex, who is obviously too old for it. Yet the grandmother apparently still thinks he's four! Alex, who is a good boy I'm sure, probably received it graciously but quickly got tired of it, went to his room, crossed out parts and wrote his own story in there. And what a story it is--just the kind any GUY would like!! The cute little bunny is now Battle Bunny and starts off through the woods (chopping through the woods instead of hopping through them), mentally enslaving the other woodland animals in his evil plan to take over the world. No one can stop him!! The president is desperate and calls the one person who may be tough enough to end the evil scheme-and that person is ALEX! But can he fight off all the other woodland animals?? Will battle Bunny actually dominate the world??

YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THIS, GUYS! It's funny!! Don't worry that it's in the picture book section; you'll be really glad once you find it. Go and check out Battle Bunny--before he comes and chops through your woods!

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11. This Turkey Is Thankful for Great Guys and Gals!

Yes, guys, this blog has a lot of great and good people who've supported us over the years but I'd like to highlight three in particular. The first is Michael, who has been telling about terrific books for--well, it's been a very long time!! He's been sending first-rate reviews for so long that I've lost count of the years. He always finds the coolest books and gives us the straight scoop about what he's read, not being afraid to say if a book's good or not. Thanks, Michael!!!

The second is Sammer. You may have seen his recent interview with author T. A. Barron. That was truly a great achievement! He has also told us about good reads for a long time and we really appreciate it.

The third is the wonderful Ms. Yingling.  She's a middle school librarian who runs the Ms. Yingling Reads bog and has written back and forth to us for many, many years, supported guy reading with a weekly Guy Friday section on her blog and even let me interview her earlier this year. Many, many thanks!!

And to all the 110 followers of this blog, to all the great Charlotte Mecklenburg Library staff who support this blog, my friends Bill in Columbia, SC and Fred in Lynchburg, VA, the people at Eastover Elementary School who work with the Read to Achieve club and to all the authors who give us these terrific books I say-----


Have a good Thanksgiving, everyone.

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12. This Turkey is Thankful For...

It's that time of year when the Iron Guy stops to think about all the many things to thankful for. There are indeed many reasons to give thanks this 2013:

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, like the pilgrims of old, has survived a long hard season. Like the pilgrims, we often wondered if we would make it over the last three years but, thanks to some very wise leadership, we've come through it and are in much better shape. The economy in Charlotte has stabilized and the library is on much better ground. We have hired more people and expanded our hours. We are still not up to our old levels of funding and staffing, of course, and I am still so busy that I don't much time for blogging but things are a LOT better than they were three years ago. And we've got a truly cool new logo.

 The Carolina Panthers are now 7--3!!! Woo-hoo!!!!! Who would have ever believed it, especially after their pitiful beginning back in September?

The Iron Guy shows his Panthers Pride

 And there are so many good new books that I can hardly tell where to start. Well, how about one that's right for the season? It's What Was the First Thanksgiving by Joan Holub. This is one of the Who Was... or What Was...? series of books. The Who Was...are biographies and the What Was... are histories. This is the first one I've read and it was good. Have you ever really read the story of the first Thanksgiving? It's adventure--storms at sea, starving in the cold, Native Americans appearing out of nowhere and the settlers not knowing if they will attack or be friendly. And you'll learn about interesting people--Squanto, Massasoit, William Bradford and Sarah Hale. And you'll learn more things--what did the ships look like? What did they really have for that first meal? (did you it lasted three days??)And it's a Good Quick Read. I read the whole thing in less than an hour and enjoyed it. You will too. If you need info for a report, want to learn something for yourself or just want a good  read, this book is for you.

OK, I hope to post about some more good books this week. But if I do or don't, have a GREAT THANKSGIVING!

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13. Sammer Meets T. A. Barron!

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->Hey, everyone, exciting news! Our old and good friend Sammer got to spend a whole afternoon on October 14 with a favorite author, T. A. Barron, the man who wrote the Merlin series. In fact, as you'll see, Sammer got to meet Mr. Barron because our boy writes for this blog! Good things can happen when you contribute regularly to us! Anyway, Mr. Barron made an appearance that evening at Park Road Books here in Charlotte. Sammer was there and so was I.  Mr. Barron was very interesting, talking about writing his books, following dreams and how minature dragons can be powerful. I'll say more about that later, but first let's hear from Sammer. Not only did he spend the afternoon with Mr. Barron, but he also did an interview! Let's hear it, Sammer:

I got to meet T.A. Barron because we are friends with people who work at Park Road Books. They know I like his books.  So when they knew he was coming, they called me.  They offered to let me spend the day with him and to interview him because I write for the library blog Boys Rule! Boys Read!
I was very excited.  I also got an advance copy of his newest book Atlantis Rising.  It is very good and I have read it and reviewed it on the blog.
We first went and ate lunch at Sir Edmond Halley’s.  While we ate, I interviewed him. 
My experience with T.A Barron was amazing. He had very good details in his regular speech. It was almost like he was writing a story right then and there.  T.A Barron was taller than I expected. In his picture he is wearing a jacket so it makes him seem short. But when you meet him, he is about five times bigger than you would expect.
We also talked about parts of his books that I liked. He asked me if I knew that a character in one book was Merlin in disguise.  And he also said he knew for five years a secret about a character before he could put it in his book.
Here’s my interview.

Sam:  What made you want to write about Merlin and Atlantis?
TABarron:  Both Merlin and Atlantis are among the most cherished characters and stories out of myth. Both have many centuries of song, story, and legend—every form of storytelling—but both have a gap.
Merlin, whom we know from the Celtic tradition, when his story was written down from the oral tradition in the 5th or 6thcentury AD by a monk, and from the Welsh story known as  the Mabinogion, has had his story told and Yet almost every time he appears in this rich and luminous and beautiful tapestry of myth, he is an old person. The hole in that tapestry was his youth.
It was my job as a writer to fill in this hole, to attach it to the other stories, but to be original at the same time.  Merlin, who is so wise in all the legends and myth, gains his wisdom from experiencing human frailties and greatness not on just one side.  He has both dark and light inside, which is why he can be such as great mentor.
Tamwyn’s greatest wisdom involves embracing both sides. He has to be compassionate and tolerant, both of which are important for wisdom,
Atlantis is the same principle; we have heard about Atlantis for more than 2,000 years, since the ancient Greek philosopher Plato wrote about its destruction. But how did the place become so magical? What was its creation story?
Plato’s story is a parable about how a very successful society fell into its own destructiveness. It is a morality tale. So now that name Atlantis is a symbol for any lost paradise.
I worked for 17 years on Merlin’s story. And when I finished, I wondered what myth would capture my attention and call to me. What appeared was the Atlantis story, which also had a gap that became my task as a writer to fill.  It’s been fun. In The Ancient One, I got to draw on a lot of Native American lore.

Sam:  What inspires you as a writer?
TABarron:  Nothing inspires me more than talking with bright, intelligent young people. I have five at home, my five children.  But being out in nature also inspires me. It was no accident that I was drawn to Merlin. He’s a Druid.
The Hero’s journey also never fails to lift my spirits.   A hero is a person who has to dig deep to save not just themselves but the world.  They have to have courage, perseverance, hope, faith, and honor. But it has to be earned.  And the journey is all about that.
Good fiction must be true. It must be authentic. That needing to be true is especially true in fantasy. Not that the events actually happen, but that there is enough detail  to feel authentic, so that the reader is willing to allow the book and characters to be a part of their lives.
In the first few pages of the first Merlin book, when he as a young boy washes up on the beach, I had to make sure that all five senses were present on the first page so the reader would believe. 

Sam: When did you decide to be an author, and why?
TABarron:  I first had that dream when I was 7 or 8 and was sitting under the apple tree on my parents’ ranch. I wanted to write. By age 9 I had started my own magazine, called “The Idiot’s Odyssey.”  It was all about exposes of secret truths. I wrote one on what went on the teacher’s lounge—and got in a heap of trouble for doing so, because what I made up was too close to the truth!
I never really believed I could do it [be a writer], but I knew it would be the happiest life for me.  My big influence was my mom, who read aloud at home to us all the time.
After college, I went to England to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.  I travelled widely, in Asia and Africa, dong all sorts of odd jobs. I was a roof thatcher and a luggage carrier at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. And during that time I wrote my first novel.  When I got back to Oxford, I sent out my manuscript to 32 different publishers, expecting that one of them would publish my novel, and then I could move to a mountain cabin and write.
In one month I got 32 rejections. Some were pretty brutal. My dream was shot. So I moved to New York City and worked for a company that invested in environmental issues. But I got up early every morning and wrote. I sat in the back of meetings and wrote.
I liked my job, but I didn’t love it. So one night I had a long talk with my wife, who was very supportive.  And the next day, I went into work and gave a big speech called an annual report, because I was the president of the company at that time. And when I finished, I said, “And by the way, I quit. I am moving back to Colorado to write books.”
That was 23 years and 25 books ago.
If you have a dream, it is essential that you follow that dream.

Thanks, Sammer, for sharing! And you did a very good job with that interview. We are very proud of you!
And, as I said, Mr. Barron, was very interesting and extremely friendly and autographed a program for us:
"To the boys of Charlotte--Boys Rule, Boys Read!" Ain't it the truth! Thanks, Mr. Barron and thanks again, Sammer. Keep in touch, both of you!
PS--if you want to see Sammer's review of Atlantis Rising, click here.

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14. Michael--Missing Two Infinity Rings?

Once again, our old friend Michael has sent us reviews of truly cool-sounding books. He's never afraid to tell us what he really thinks (like a real MANLY MAN), so let's get the scoop from him:

The Missing, book 6
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
      Jonah, Katherine, and Chip have been kidnapped by a missing kid from history! That's a little different. The kid has also kidnapped his would-be sister from history. Who are they? Alexei and Anastasia Romanov, from the year 1918. Their father, the former tsar, and their whole family have been kept under house arrest, and little do they know that they're going to be executed that night. The Elucidator that Alexei kidnapped them with was from Gary and Hosge, who got him working for them on a basis of lies. They've dumbed down thus Elicidator, so they're all stuck in 1918! So the team decides to rescue the entire Romanov family, not because it alters history, but because they believe that this is the way time is supposed to go; that even original time is wrong. Things really pick up when Gary and Hodge themselves return! Don't miss this epic story, much better than Caught. And the last book, Revealed, is set to come out... some time. 

The Infinity Ring, book 4
Curse of the Ancients
by Matt de la Peña
      Dak, Sera, and Riq have gone to the Maya Indian culture in the seventh century. I can't say much about the plot as just one thing could ruin the book. But it is better than the last one, as the travelers go to the same place twice, but a thousand years apart, and the two periods intertwine. Also, Sera remembers what she saw when she warped to the Cataclysm, and she and Riq deal with conflicting emotions that determine what kind of person they are. Also, this book has some pretty good action. It's a step in the right direction for this 39 Clues copycat series. Book 5, Cave of Wonders, comes soon.

The Infinity Ring, book 5
Cave of Wonders
by Matthew J. Kirby
      The fifth book, but ninth installment in the Infinity Ring series. This time, the three travelers are faced with the destruction of Baghdad in 1258. Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, has taken many cities and hasn't lost a battle yet. And now he's coming for Baghdad! What's the big deal? There's a huge library in Baghdad in 1258. It's called the House of Wisdom, and in it is Aristotle's writings about the Prime Break, the Break that will make or break all of history. But according to history, Hulagu burned the library! Sera, Dak, and Riq must save the book before it's too late! Personally, I think the series is stepping up a notch in this book. The author did a great job of adding suspense with wild animals and chases, and he also added some originality to the series (finally!) with the probability that the trio will have to return to the present at some point. Although they didn't in this book, I hope they will in a future book and not in an online episode. Plus, the more Dak's parents and Riq's possible non-existence are mentioned, the more this series separates itself from The 39 Clues. And even know the book had no guns in it, it was still very exciting. Finally, a book in this series has my recommendation, and I actually enjoyed this one. I just really wish they would stop doing the online thing. Ain't nobody got time for that! Anyway, book 6, Behind Enemy Lines, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, is coming soon. And in conclusion, I want to say that I have high expectations for this book, because it is a World War II spy novel! Plus, as the series has improved a little with each book, I hope and expect this one to be the best one yet!
Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, ukeist, mandolinist 

Thanks, Michael! You've been good about sticking with both these series even when they didn't start off well. I thought the Missing books would be just another time-travel series and the second book sure looked that way. And I thought Infinity Ring would be a 39 Clues knock-off. But you're telling us that they're getting better as the go along and I'm glad. Take  a look at these, guys, and see if he's right! Keep up the good work, Michael. Can't wait to hear from you again!

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15. Barbarians + Swords + Evil Wizards + Hot Wings = FANGBONE!

Graphic novels are great entertainment for guys! Let's establish that fact right away--and you probably know it already. Lots of guys have told about their favorites--Bone, Mad and Chad, Amulet and more. Today I'd like to tell you about a new series that I'm absolutely crazy about--FANGBONE!, THIRD GRADE BARBARIAN by Michael Rex. These graphic novels are hilarious, action-packed, and some of the most entertaining reading you could ever hold in your reader guy hands.

In the land of Skullbania, a group of barbarian warriors hold possession of the big toe of Venemous Drool, the evil wizard. Drool's army is approaching and someone must take the big toe to a magician who will send him to another land. The only one who cannot join in the battle is Fangbone, too young to fight. The magician sends Fangbone to the other land, tells him to protect the big toe at all costs, to blend in and not attract attention to himself so that Drool's minions will not find him. "May the spirit of Bigbelly Blackspit go with you," he says.
Fangbone lands near a school and follows a boy named Bill into Class 3-G, a class where everyone "learns at their own speed." Fangbone tries to blend in but it's hard to blend in when you wear a helmet with horns and a sword to class. Drool's monsters find Fangbone, however, and attack. Can Fangbone survive attacks by Dirt Devils, giant bat monsters and pop quizzes?

In the second book, Fangbone and the Egg of Misery, the warrior clans try to send a feast to Fangbone ("Stewed maggots! Twice-cooked gizzards!Fried Snake Eyes!") but Drool's minions switch the food for a giant egg. Fangbone thinks it will hatch a "Titan Razor Dragon" that could surely defeat the evil monsters of Drool. But something else will hatch instead--something deadly! Can Fangbone, Bill and friends ever hope to survive--and finish their presentation at the science pageant?

In the third book, Fangbone and the Birthday Party of Dread, Drool sends his most powerful monster yet after Fangbone. It's the Crusha and only one warrior, Bigbelly Blackspit, has ever escaped. How can a third-grader, even a barbarian, hope to get away? Even more than that, can they pass the Invention Convention at school?

These books are great!! They have attacks by Turtle-Gators, stories of old barbarian mythology (like why the sun is a flaming eyeball), bullies with fire truck underwear, the Ooky Dooky Dance and an evil bouncy castle. Plus, they're a testament to the power of courage and friendship. Have I got your curiosity up now? Then go and check them out!

These books get the Iron Guy Seal of Approval as Three Terrific Books!

Get to your local library and demand Fangbone, Third-Grade Barbarian--but leave your sword and evil big toe at home.

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16. Sammer and Michael Tell Us About More Terrific Books!

Fall greetings, reader guys. The cool-weather, falling leaves,watching-football season officially arrived around
4:00 pm last Sunday--and the Carolina Panthers actually won a game!

 The Iron Guy thinks it's a great time to grab a chair, a good book and find a place to read either inside (to stay out of the cold) or outside (to enjoy the glorious fall weather). A couple of our old friends think so too. Both Michael and Sammer sent good reviews of some cool-sounding books. We haven't heard from Sammer for a long time, so let's hear him first:

This is my book review on Atlantis Rising. Atlantis Rising was a great book. There are two main characters in this book. Their names are Promi and Atlanta. It starts with Promi, a thief who has great skills with a knife. The leader of the town is a man named Grukarr who has bad intentions. Promi, not knowing anything about Grukarr’s evil plan, wanted to humiliate him in front of a big crowd. He plans on throwing his knife to cut off his belt buckle. He succeeds and becomes Grukarr’s enemy. Atlanta is a girl from the forest outside the city Elligandia where Promi lives. Atlanta is teaching a group of people how to talk to the trees when Grukarr comes through and tells her group to get out of the way so he can pass through. Now Atlanta can do some magic. As the group she was teaching runs away she stays and makes one of the tree branches move and smack Grukarr’s forehead. She then also becomes the enemy of Grukarr. Neither Prani or Atlanta know it yet but Grukarr’s plan involves both of them.This is an action-packed, dramatic adventure with spirits, immortals, faeries, Water gods, and even highly poisonous snails. If you are a fantasy lover like myself, this is a book for you.

Thanks, Sammer! I enjoy a good fantasy book, especially when a tree branch whacks the bad guy in the head! Now let's hear from Michael:

N. E. R. D. S., book 5

Attack of the BULLIES

by Michael Buckley
      It's the series finale o N. E. R. D. S.! Ms. Holiday is now Ms. Information, a new deranged supervillain who has the abilities to copy everything the NERDS have done. She gets together a team of kids in juvenile detention, and puts the US president's daughter in charge of them! She gives them upgrades, and calls them the Brotherhood of Underestimated Liars, Lowlife, and Endangerment to Society: BULLIES. Meanwhile, Heathcliff struggles to regain the team's trust, because he can't remember what happened with the villain virus. Just as the NERDS start gaining on the BULLIES, Ms. Information pulls out a new surprise on them: a time machine! Find out Ms. Holiday's backstory, plus, will Agent Brand return? It's an intriguing, action-packed adventure through time and emotions that will leave you wondering what happens next on every page! ...well, except the last one, of course. As an interesting sidenote, the book shows Ruby Peet's family, what happens if someone receives a double upgrade, and it has not only lots of old game and TV show references, but it has a cameo of Buckley himself! Definitely not a book to miss! 

Michael Lanier

Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, ukeist, mandolinist 

Thanks to you too, Michael! The N.E.R. D.S. books are really popular with guys and with good reason. I was a little worried because you said N.E.R.D.S. 4 wasn't that good, so I'm glad to see that series get back in shape.
Check these out, guys, and remember, they weren't recommended by some boring old grownup but by a reader guy like YOU! That means these books are:

Or as the boys at last year's Read to Achieve club at Eastover School said:



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17. Sea of Monsters--Is the Movie Better If You Have/Have Not Read the Book?

Greetings, all you fellow reader guys! A couple of weeks ago, the Iron Guy went to Charlotte's annual Yiasou Greek festival. It was a great time, as it always is, and this year I fulfilled a long-term dream and wore my Camp Half-Blood t-shirt there. (It's a long story but I got this t-shirt from Rick Riordan himself!) While I was there, I used a time travel device known only to the Iron Guy and signed up with the ancient Greek army to become the 301st Spartan to go and fight the Persians at Thermopylae. Here you see me with my fellow Spartans:

Yes, indeed, I fit right in, don't I? Notice the soldier to my right--he seems to be in awe of the Iron Guy, who is ready to fight the entire Persian army dressed, not in armor, but simply a t-shirt!!

Enough silliness. The Greek festival and the Camp Half-Blood shirt reminded me of a post I read at This Kid Reviews Books, a great blog run by a reader guy just like you. He wrote a post about the Percy Jackson movies and asked, " Book or Movie--Which One Is Better?" In it, he wrote:

“The book was SO much better than the movie” is a statement I hear a lot. It got me wondering, is the book always better? To me, the answer is an obvious yes, but I’m a book person.
For example, I LOVED the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books (Jeff Kinney), but I hated the movie. I think that Gregory’s self-centered character is much better as cartoon in a book than in the movie. In the movie Rowley wasn’t nearly as goofy as he should have been.
 They also took one of my all-time favorite books, The Lightning Thief from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (Rick Riordan), and made it into an okay movie. I mean, they took out Clarisse, one of my favorite characters, and they even took out Ares, the god of war (how do you take out the god of war from a story about Greek mythology with fighting in it?!?). The fight between Percy and Ares has got to be my all-time favorite fight scenes from any book and it wasn’t in the movie. 
Of course, the movie wasn’t horrible. It was pretty good and, I think, for someone who hadn’t read the book, it was probably great. There is lots of action, great special effects, and cool monsters.

He also ran a poll  that asked whether the books were better than the movies. Some said that the books were always better and others took the line that movies are primarily visual experiences and so it's not fair to compare them.

So that got me wondering. I have not seen The Sea of Monsters movie and so I don't know. Is the book or the movie better? Or would the movie have been more fun if you had not read the book first? That's what I thought of The Lightning Thief movie--it was so different from the book that I was disappointed. But then I thought that the movie would have seemed really good to someone who had not read the book.

Soooo--I want YOU to tell ME if you liked the Sea of Monsters movie better than the book. Or if you liked the book better than the movie. Or would the movie have seemed really good if you hadn't read the book first.

And to make it interesting, I'll give you some incentive. The first three guys who write and tell  why or why not the book or movie was better--or if the movie would have better if you had/hadn't read the book first--will get a choice of one these three books.
That's right--you could choose The Indian in the Cupboard, Stone Fox, or Hatchet. All of them are really good guy books. BUT I don't want you to write something like, "Oh, yeah, the book was better." I want you to tell me WHY. Convince me! Make me believe the book or movie was better! OK--you got it? Then go ahead and hit that "Comment" button under this post and give me your reasons. Then I'll publish your comments on this blog. Then you can either come to the Myers Park library and claim your prize or, if you live too far away (even outside of Charlotte), then put your address and contact info with your comments and I'll get your prize to you. Don't worry--your address WON'T get published. No one will see it but me.
So send me your comments, guys! I and all the other reader guys out there are waiting to hear from you.
If you have any more questions on how to send your comments, see the instructions on the left-hand side of the page or call me at 70416-5800.

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18. News from Michael!

Greetings, fellow reader guys, and I hope you're enjoying these last few days of summer. Some of you may be back in school and some of you may be cramming in as much fun as you can before the school doors open. Our old and faithful friend Michael has been doing what all reader guys love and that is READING! He's here to tell us about something he read and liked this summer. Take it away, Michael:

Island of Thieves
by Josh Lacey
      When his parents go on vacation, Tom Trelawney is left last minute with his uncle, Harvey. But when Tom gets mixed up with Harvey's search for treasure in Peru, and his trouble with super-criminal Otto Gonzalez, things get a little more hectic than Tom expected. This book was narrated in the first person, which I usually don't like, but it worked out pretty well for this book. The book isn't written like a movie, it's written like what would happen if this was a real event. Although searching for treasure and having an uncatchable criminal trying to kill you isn't exactly realistic, the choices the characters made are more realistic than dramatic, making the book more realistic and relatable than one written like a movie. Some of the events may seem stupid, but it's just realistic. Wouldn't you make stupid choices if you were running from a murderer and didn't have time to think? This book is also action-packed, so no need to worry about it being boring. It's very much worth reading, and it's highly enjoyable.

Michael Lanier
Pianist, guitarist, banjoist, autoharpist, jaw harpist, ukeist, mandolinist 

Thanks, Michael! You've always told us about good stuff. So how about it, guys--have any of YOU read this? Did you like it? Have you read anything else that we should know about? THEN TELL US ABOUT IT! We want to know! All the instructions are on the left-hand side of the page. HOP TO IT, men, before summer's over!

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19. Hot Reading Fun in the Summertime

How's summer going, reader dudes?? This is a great time of year. A chance to relax and have fun. Here you see the Iron Guy chilling at a favorite spot.

Of course, he must still work out to maintain his MANLY physique.

Summer is also a great time for really fun reads. Here are some that the Iron Guy has enjoyed in the past. I'm going to avoid the obvious picks, like Percy Jackson, Harry Potter or The 39 Clues and focus on some that aren't as well known but still tremendously fun reads. (Some of these may be hard to find because they've been out for a while but the Charlotte Mecklenburg library has copies)

N.E. R. D. S. by Michael Buckley--Secret agents, flying school buses, world-destroying villains, laughs and action--what more could you want? I must confess that I've read only the first one but other guys have read and recommended them.

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell--Could you eat 15 worms? "Yeecchh!!" you say. Would you do it for $50.00? That's the idea behind this terrific book. It's been making guys laugh for almost 40 years and will make YOU laugh too.

The Island trilogy by Gordon Korman--a great survival story with thrills, thrills, thrills. Several troubled kids go on a boat for an extended rehab trip but end up stranded on a deserted island. This island isn't on any map--and for good reason! A really terrific read!

The Adventurrous Deed of Deadwood Jones by Helen Hemphill--Yeehaa! Adventure in the Old West! Two brothers skeedaddle to Texas after the Civil War when some racists threaten them. They join a cattle drive and look for their father. Great fun but serious and sad parts, so you get get a little substance with your fun. Don't let that scare you off, though--still very fun and very highly recommended.

The Bone Graphic novels by Jeff Smith--What can I say about this epic graphic novel fantasy series that hundreds of others haven't already said? Probably the best fantasy series ever put into graphic form. Go get it NOW!!

The Tiger's Apprentice trilogy by Laurence Yep--Based on Chinese mythology, this fantasy trilogy starts in San Francisco but takes you through far-flung magical lands and into dangers with wild creatures. A great read!

The Hank the Cowdog audiobooks--Going on a car trip this summer? Then take along these very funny audiobooks. John R. Erickson wrote and narrated these and guys really enjoy them. I've seen kids beg for these in carpools!

Sluggers/Barnstormers series by Phil Bildner and Loren Long--Finally, one of my all-time
favorite series. These books are perfect summer reads. An old-time baseball travels around the country in 1898 to raise for an uncle who's not only ill but in trouble with a very bad guy. And a lot of mysterious things happen around a magical baseball. Start one and you'll be hooked! (PS--the first few books came out under the Barnstormers name and the rest under Sluggers)

OK, guys, enjoy your summer! Keep reading and, if you want to find out what the Iron Guy and other people have said about these books, click on the tabs under this post. And if you want to add your $.02, send us a review! All the instructions are on the left-hand side of this page.

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20. Ice Drift and Alvin Ho 5 or Why It's Not Necessary to Mention Fungus, Snot and Earwax All the Time

Hey, reader guys everywhere! Summer is here at long last. School has been out for a couple of weeks now, swimming pools and theme parks are open and fun reigns supreme! And reading is king over the summer, Yeah, I know school is out and you may not think about reading but the Iron Guy believes that reading is fun and I intend to share some fun reading with you over the summer. And here are a couple of good reads to start off:

Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor

Here's a survival story along the lines of Island of the Blue Dolphins, except that it doesn't take place off the California Coast but in the frozen Arctic Sea. In the 1860's, two Inuit boys and their dog are hunting for seal when an iceberg hits their ice floe and sends it drifting into the Greenland Strait. They have no kayak and swimming to shore is impossible--even if they were close enough, the freezing water would kill them almost instantly. And it's October. They're about to go into the coldest and darkest part of the year when it can get to 40 below. And there are bears. And even if they survive the winter, what will happen in the spring when their ice floe thaws and breaks up? This is a good and suspenseful story, just the sort of thing for a guy to enjoy. You'll really wonder if survival is possible. This is one you're going to enjoy. Besides, it's good to read about the frozen Arctic when it gets so hot during the summer!

 Alvin Ho: Allergic to Babies, Burglars and Other Bumps in the Night by Lenore Look

This is another terrific book in the Alvin Ho series. These books are funny, funny, funny and each one should come with a You-Will-Laugh-Out-Loud guarantee. All of them feature second-grader Alvin Ho, who is scared of everything. Lighting storms. Getting stuck in trees. Speaking up in class. Dead authors who give tours of their houses. He evesn carries a Personal Disaster Kit which contains like like Band-Aids, a whistle (in case you're so scared you lose your voice) and Garlic for "fending off vampires and teachers." In this one, Alvin's mom is expecting a baby. She shows him the ultrasound pictures but he says it looks like an alien. Then he notices that his tummy is getting big too. Oh, no--that must mean HE'S pregnant!! He doesn't want to have a baby! Not only THAT, there's also a burglar in the area. Now Alvin's got something ELSE to be scared of! Wait--he's home alone after he fell asleep in the closet and his mom had to go to the hospital. Who's that coming up the stairs?? Could it be the BURGLAR??!! Alvin's brother rigged up a trap for burglars--WILL IT WORK??? Oh, man, you've got to read this one!! You will laugh out loud when a TV reporter shows up at Alvin's school and a classmate says Alvin's pregnant! Or when the other boys in class learn that they're pregnant! Or when Alvin solves the baby-crying problem. Or when he eats six ice cream cones and a lick in a minute and a half. So get this and have some good summer fun.

This one gets the Iron Guy Seal of Approval as One Terrific Book!
And if you'd like to find out about more Alvin Ho or survival books, click on the "Alvin Ho" or "survival stories" tab under this post.

Enjoy summer and keep reading!

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21. Basketball!

The Iron Guy loves sports, especially when it takes an epic turn like the 2013 NBA playoffs. I have no idea

who'll win tonight but you just gotta love the thrill of the game! Basketball is a high-speed, high-intensity game that is just right for GUYS. So, in the spirit of the roundball, here are basketball books that are just right for GUYS!

Fundamental Basketball by Jim and Mike Klinzing and
  Basketball Step-by-Step by Brian Burns and Mark Dunning

These are good, basic books about how to play the game. Fundamental Basketball covers everything from the history of the game to how to shoot jump shots to the size of the backboard! Basketball Step-By-Step also covers the basics of scoring, equipment, players and court and the different team positions. But, more importantly, it shows how the techniques of offensive and defensive play by giving multiple photographs that demonstrate each move step by step.Both would be useful for the novice player or the veteran looking to sharpen his (or her) skills. Really recommended.

Derrick Rose by Michael Sandler

Here's a story about one of the good guys of basketball. Nothing could keep Derrick away from the roundball as a boy, playing even after sundown when there were no lights or after breaking his arm climbing a tree. He went to the University of Memphis and helped the Tigers reach the 208 NCAA championship game. That was also the year the Chicago Bulls drafted him as the # 1 pick. But even with all his success, he remained humble and did good things, like helping kids in his old  poverty-stricken Chicago neighborhood or donate money for earthquake victims in Haiti. (he once pledged to donate $1000 for each point he scored in a game and raised $32,000!) This is a good, quick and inspirational read and a good book for anyone who loves sports or stories of the good guys. (The only problem is that it came out in 2012 and doesn't mention the last year he's been out with his injury--but don't let that stop you. It's still a good read)

The Basket Counts by Matt Christopher

Matt Christopher wrote a lot of books about sports and every one I've read has been good. This one is about a middle school basketball team. Mel Jessen is new to the school. He's also one of the few African-American kids in the school. One of the other kids won't pass to him even when he's in the open. This team has a good chance to win the season--will this other guy get over it for the good of the team? And will the coach intervene or just ignore the situation? This is another good quick read. Matt Christopher makes every game exciting, especially the season's final game. And this book was written way back in the day when prejudice was more common. It's hard to believe now that it was such a problem--or is it still a problem? Have any of you reader guys encountered it? Or do you see it on your teams?

OK, guys (and Heat and Spurs), play hard and let me know what you think about these books!

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22. Finish Line

Must be brief today--busy day ahead. I'll recap what I said last night. I completed two books, Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor and The Basket Counts by Matt Christopher plus some some inspirational grownup reading (like Centuries of Meditations by Thomas Traherne, a wonderful book from a man iN the 1600's) for a total of seven and a half hours and about 380 pages. Not very impressive, you say? Well, not really--especially when you compare my effort to Ms. Yingling, who did 30 HOURS!! My MANLY hat is off to you! But I had many other things to do this weekend, so I read when I could. So remember, guys, give things your best shot, even when things get in the way, and you'll be a MANLY MAN like the IRON GUY!!

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23. Sunday NIght Book Challenge Checkin

Hey, hello, and how-de-do, everyone in blogland. This is one tired Iron Guy, checking in briefly with my progress on the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I wish I could say I was worn our from reading but I'm actually tired out from the family obligations I mentioned in the last post. REAL MEN carry out their duties but they also get REAL TIRED! Anyway, I struggled on MANFULLY between my duties and actually read two books (plus some random grownup stuff that I didn't finish) in about seven and a half hours. One was Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor. Don't have the energy to give it a full review but it was good. A survival story about two Inuit boys adrift on an ice floe in the middle of the Arctic winter. The second was The Basket Counts by the terrific Matt Christopher. I don't think he's written a bad book. It's short, good and recommended for any boy who likes sports. And, guys, if you're what the grownups call a reluctant reader--a guy who doesn't like reading--then this could be the book for you. I read it in one sitting and it kept my interest the whole time. Besides, the Iron Guy doesn't believe there are guys who don't like reading--only guys who haven't found the right stuff yet!! Look for reviews of these books another time.
And thanks to all of you who've sent comments. I'll try to send some back.

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24. The 48 Hour Book Challenge--Just the Thing for the Iron Guy!

Hey, all fellow reading fans! Today marks the beginning of that annual test of the Iron Guy's endurance, determination, and ability to hold a book. Yes it's the 48 Hour Book Challenge, that yearly contest to see how many hours one person can read in a weekend. I've done this in the past and it tested my powers of strength and will to the max but I rose to the challenge and triumphed in true MANLY MAN fashion! In other years, the Iron Guy used the Book Challenge as an opportunity to raise money for the library but it didn't work out this year. Which is good because I have a lot of family obligations this weekend and, as we all know, REAL MEN take care of their family obligations! So, instead of finding long stretches of reading, I'll grab an hour here and a couple of hours there and see how many I can fit in. I could have just blown the whole Book Challenge off, saying I was too busy, but that's not the MANLY MAN way!

So why am I am taking up so much time writing? Time to get that book and start! Here are a few of the books I'd like to read this weekend:

Ice Drift by Theodore Taylor

The Basket Counts by Matt Christopher

The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos--recommended by Ms. Yingling

Too busy to read? Too busy to be an inspiration for all the thousands of boys who enjoy reading and look eagerly to the Iron Guy as a shining example?
Bring it on!!!

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25. The Boys From the Read to Achieve Club Collect Their Rewards!

Greetings, fellow reader guys!You may remember that the boys from the Read to Achieve club at Eastover Elementary School in Charlotte sent it a bunch of great book reviews. (See that post here) You may also remember that all boys can come to the Myers Park library and pick out a free book from our ultra-cool prize box after they send in their first reviews. Well, the awesome guys from the club came here last week to do just that. Here are a bunch of photos, showing off these great guys and their great prizes.

First, we have Jakobe C. He chose a book called Alien Detection.

Hotboy (also known as Giovanni) chose a Fantastic Four comic.

Nathaniel #F16 got this great book called How Football Works--see my review review here.

Zaire picked a t-shirt from our Novello reading festival.

Izaiah got a t-shirt featuring a terrific book called The Adventurous Deeds of Deadwood Jones--see my review here.

Chicken Master (aka Jalen) chose a Hiruku graphic novel.

Coco Bird (aka Freddy) found the book Future Wings--

--while Shark Boy (aka Shawn) got a yo-yo--

--and so did Jackson (aka Jestevie)!

Well done, men! Keep those reviews coming in, especially over the summer. And fell free to comment on this post or any others. You all are proof that--

Boys Rule--BOYS READ!!

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