Wednesday, July 31, 2013


GINGERSNAP by Patricia Reilly Giff. Wendy Lamb Books, 2013.

Gingersnap wonders
About her past and future.
Is it in Brooklyn?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


MERMAIDS IN THE BACKYARD by Catherine Hapka with illustrations by Patricia Castelao. Random House, 2013.

Lindy's new house has a
Surprise: mermaids in the back.
Can she assist them?

Monday, July 29, 2013

What could go wrong?

NOTHING CAN POSSIBLY GO WRONG by Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks. First Second, 2013.

The robotics club and the cheerleaders go to war over which will be funded. The cheerleaders decide to force Charlie, the captain of the basketball team to run for Student Council president while his neighbor Nate elects to run himself. Nate if the president of the robotics team. Each group is certain that their candidate will win and the funding will be theirs. What happens when the best laid plans go awry? This GN explores cliques, misconceptions groups have about those outside. It also shows what can happen when teamwork replaces rivalry (kind of).

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Boy on the Porch

THE BOY ON THE PORCH by Sharon Creech. Harper, September 2013.

John and Marta return home one evening to find a boy on their porch. He is not someone they have seen before, and he does not speak. The only clue is a note found that reads, "Plees taik kair of Jacob." The boy has a name but no story to tell even if he did speak. Soon, though, with John and Marta's care, Jacob finds much to do on the farm. He has an affinity for animals and a powerful talent for painting as well. Creech has the ability to draw readers in, to make them care about the characters, young, old, animal and human. She is also a teller of tales that are infused with love of family no matter how unconventional that family might be.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Read it , you must!

STAR WARDS: JEDI ACADEMY y Jeffrey Brown. Scholastic, September 2013.

Roan Novachez wants to attend PilotAcademy like his father and his brother before him. When he receives word that he is instead to attend the Jedi Academy, he is disappointed. However, as classes with Yoda and RW-22 and T-P30, and other fairly familiar beings (wookies, siths, etc.) continue, Roan discovers that he might just have what it takes to use the force and become a Jedi. Lots of humor, GN format, familiar territory (well, for this reader at least) combine to make this a series kids will clamor for.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tony Baloney

TONY BALONEY by Pam Munoz Ryan with illustrations by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic 2013.

From picture book to chapter book, fans of Tony Baloney can follow the exploits of the macaroni penguin as he approaches his first day of school. Bossy older sisters and clingy younger ones are a thing of the past, and Tony anticipates he will be the hit of the classroom. However, things do not go quite as planned. Can Tony find his own niche at school?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


THE 14 FIBS OF GREGORY K. by Greg Pincus. Scholastic, October 2013.

Gregory is not the math genius his father and older brother are. THAT is must one of the problems he is facing. He is not doing well in math; his best friend Kelly is moving, and he is fairly certain his mother and father will not let him go to Author Camp. As a matter of fact, there is talk of a meth camp for the summer. How would he survive that? Enter Gregory's math teacher, someone who sees the talent Gregory possesses even if it is not mathematical. Perhaps Mr. Davis might have some way for Gregory to pass math and get to go to Author Camp, too? Pincus blends humor (and some of it is mathematical), math (especially Fibonacci numbers), the power of words, and cooking and poetry in a novel sure to appeal to a wide range of readers. Ladder this with THE CANNING SEASON, A TANGLE OF KNOTS, and more. Oh, and use it in English class as well as Math class, too.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

return of The Beaver(s)



by Maxwell Eaton III. Knopf 2013.

The Beaver Brothers are back with two new adventures. In BIRDS VS. BUNNIES, the brothers try to forge a peace between the two warring groups after they discover who is behind the feud. In MUD-SLINING MOLES, Ace and Bub wonder where trees and houses and more are disappearing to on their quiet island. Lots of humor in these two GNs for younger reader. Fans of BabyMouse and Lunch Lady will enjoy Ace and Bub as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


WINGER by Andrew Smith. Simon and Schuster, 2013.

Ryan Dean is 14, sort of scrawny, and a better than average winger (rugby). He lives in Opportunity Hall, the boarding school dorm for kids who have had some "trouble" adjusting to life and to the rules. His best friend, Annie, is someone he would prefer be more than a friend. And his roommate is a bit of a bully. Smith tells readers just enough of Ryan Dean's past as he propels them further into the very comic and sometime tragic present that is Ryan Dean's life. Honest (lots of talk of bodily functions), irreverent (Ryan Dean and his pals know how to manipulate adults fairly well), charming (the budding romance); this is a book that makes you lower your guard and then packs a walloping punch. WINGER is a book that will haunt long after the reading ends.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Magic is afoot

THE WATER CASTLE by Megan Frazer Blakemore. Bloomsbury, 2013.

After Ephraim's father suffers a stroke, the family moves into an old house that has been part of his mother's family for generations. Ephraim is, at first, lonely. It is difficult to make friends in school where the other kids have known one another for years. Eventually, though, Ephraim makes two new friends, friends who will help him search for something that might just bring his father back to normal. Blakemore weaves the very real story of a boy grappling with changes in his family with the almost mythic story of ancestors who might have stumbled upon a magical elixir. Science and history met a bit of magic in this compelling read.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

True Blue

THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP by Kathi Appelt. Atheneum, 2013.

Disclaimer: I love Kathi and her books. I am over the moon on her latest novel which features raccoons who scout from the front seat of an abandoned Desoto, a huge snake which guards Sugar Man, sort of a cousin to Sasquatch, some feral pigs who are impatient parents, and sugar pies. Oh, yeah, and the alligator wrestling Jaeger and no-good Sonny Boy. How do these seemingly disparate elements fit together? That is the magic of Kathi Appelt's storytelling, her wordsmithing, and her love for the swampland that is the setting for this story. I have written a much lengthier review for the Nerdy Book Club, so I will end this short blog entry with this: read this aloud to your kids come start of school. They, too, will love the humor and long for some sugar pie.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Notebook of Doom

THE NOTEBOOK OF DOOM: DAY OF THE NIGHT CRAWLERS by Troy Cummings. Scholastic, September 2013.

After a hard rain, pink slimy night crawlers cover the sidewalks. Is this an invasion? A signal of some doom to come? Alexander must try to figure out what the nigh crawlers might portend using the monster-filled notebook, SSMP, but he does not even know what the initials SSMP stand for. How can he save his town and his school (formerly a hospital)with such little information? Great series for young readers: monsters and mystery makes for a winning combination.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Charm and Strange

CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn, St. Martins Griffin, 2013.

Andrew Winston Winters has a wolf inside him. That is the only way to explain the sudden bursts of violence that overtakes him, the only way he has of dealing with his past. In chapters that alternate between Drew's childhood and his adolescence, Kuehn slowly reveals the story of drew, the young and vulnerable boy and Win, the teen left to his own devices at boarding school where an horrific murder has taken place. Was it a wild animal who committed this crime? Or is the villain much closer than that? Drew/Win each wrestle with the darkness inside.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mira In the Present Tense

MIRA IN THE PRESENT TENSE by Sita Brahmachari. Whitman, September 2013.

For the most part, Mira can tolerate her noisy and chaotic family life. Especially when it comes to being with Nana Josie, her artistic grandmother. Like Josie, Mira has a talent for art. She is about to discover she also has a talent for writing. Her school has offered a before class visiting author program and Mira is one of the 4 students who signed up for the class. writing helps Mira find her voice both literally and figuratively. This is especially crucial as Mira's beloved Nana Josie enters a hospice to deal with the final time she has before cancer claims her. Brahmachari has penned an emotionally realistic book, never sinking into the maudlin or self-indulgent or even too self-reflective. Mira is a 12 year old with tween thoughts and feelings. As she deals with loss, she is also gaining a new friend, a boy friend, and confidence in her own abilities.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

going graphic

BATTLING BOY by Paul Pope. First Second, October 2013.

Children are at risk constantly in a neighborhood where monsters roam the streets just looking for a tasty child to eat. Only Haggard West seems able to defeat these beings. But now Haggard is dead. Who will rise to take his place? Perhaps Haggard's daughter can fill her father's rather large shoes? or maybe, just maybe, help will come from another world. Action, adventure, mythology, gizmos, corruption and more makes this a GN that will suck readers in and not let them go until the end (or is it the end?).

ROBOT FRENZY: STONE RABBIT by Erik Craddock. Random House, 2013. It seemed like a good idea to create some teddy bear robots to help make the float. But Rabbit is not happy with the bears. While no one is looking, he messes with their programming. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong. Will the crazed new robots destroy it all?

SILVERSIX by Al Lieberman and Darren Rawlings. Scholastic/Graphia, 2013.

Six orphans, all hiding one thing left to them by their parents. Could there be a connection? Phoebe and her robot sidekick lead the Silversix on a mission to discover what their parents were searching for when they were killed in a mysterious shuttle explosion. Dytpic future, environmental disaster, and runaway orphans are a perfect combination for this action adventure GN.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Step into Reading

DIG, SCOOP, KA-BOOM by Joan Holub with illustrations by David Gordon. Random House, 2013.

Machines clear the land
Making room for new buildings
With the sandbox crew.

OLLIE AND MOON, ALOHA! by Diane Kredensor. Random House, 2013.

Ollie, Moon, best friends
Each daring the other to
Do a daring stunt.

ROBOT, GO BOT! by Dana Meachen Rau with illustrations by Wook Jin Jung. Random House, 2013.

Bot has to do chores
He could use a break from them
But who can he get?

Monday, July 15, 2013

NF wrap up

BRUSH OF THE GODS by Lenore Look and Meilo So. Schwartz and Wade, 2013.

Wu Daozi lived
In China long ago and
Was renowned for art.

THE MYSTERY OF DARWIN'S FROG by Martha Crump. Boyds Mills Press, 2013.

Frog full of tadpoles
And a father frog no less?
Filled with surprises.

REPTILES by Penelope Arlon. Scholastic, 2013.

Learn about reptiles
Deadly, cold-blooded creatures
Picture, facts, and fun.

WEATHER by Penelope Arlon. Scholastic, 2013.

Thunderstorms and more
Tornados and hurricanes
Threaten life on earth.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Piling up

Since the to be blogged pile is getting almost as high as the to be read pile, I am going to post a slew of quick reviews over the next couple of days.

THE BIG WET BALLOON by Liniers. Toon Books, 2013.

Matilda, Clemmie,
Lots of rain and a balloon
What mischief they make.

CRANKENSTEIN by Samantha Berger. Little Brown, 2013.

Crankenstein is not
Really a Frankenstein
He is drawn that way.

CUTE AND CUTER by Michael Townsend. Knopf, 2013.

How cute can he be
When an interloper comes
Who might be cuter?

THE BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO RUNNING AWAY FROM HOME by Larue Huget with illustrations by Red Nose Studio. Schwartz and Wade, 2013.

Do you need some tips
To assist you as you leave?
Here's the help you need.

ZOE'S ROOM: NO SISTERS ALLOWED by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. Scholastic, 2013.

Zoe has to share
And is not happy at all.
Little sisters? Blech!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

To the rescue!

UNICORN THINKS HE'S PRETTY GREAT by Bob Shea. Disney/Hyperion, 2013.

Unicorn show-off!
But goat's got some tricks to show
Can they become friends?

SUPER HAIR-O AND THE BARBER OF DOOM by John Rocco. Disney/Hyperion, 2013.

Super hair-o kids
Mourn their shorn locks but find out
They are still super!

Friday, July 12, 2013

I See I Learn

SCRUBBA DUB, CARLOS by Stuart J. Murphy. Charlesbridge, 2013

FREDA SAYS PLEASE by Stuart J. Murphy. Charlesbridge, 2013

Manners and hygiene
Learning to do what is right.
All in these two books.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big, bigger, biggest

A BIG GUY TOOK MY BALL by Mo Willems. Hyperion, 2013.

Elephant, Piggie
And a WHALE. What could go wrong?
Ever played Whale Ball?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lost and Found

THE LOST (AND FOUND) BALLOON by Celeste Jenkins with illustrations by Maria Bogarde. Aladdin, 2013.

Balloon with message
Travels far and wide only
To land right next door.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Out of this world

COUSIN IRV FROM MARS by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Cousin Irv's from Mars
And he is annoying.
Teddy loves him still.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Monstore

THE MONSTORE by Tara Lazar with illustrations by James Burks. Aladdin, 2013.

In the market for
A monster? Search no further
Than the new monstore.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


BATS: BIGGEST! LITTLEST! by Sandra markle. Boyds Mills Press, 2013.

Bats can be big, small
Any size at all. See bats
In action and rest.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

rhinestone cat

TEH CAT IN THE RHINESTONE SUIT by John Carter Cash with illustrations by Scott Nash. Little Simon Inpsirations, 2013.

Cat heads out to seek
His revenge on a snake thief
But finds he needs help.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Letters of Protest

THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, 2013.

It seems the crayons have a little problem with their owner, Duncan. Beige feels unloved; red is overworked. Pink is definitely underappreciated, too. One by one, all the crayons express their feelings. Here is a concept book featuring epistolary format. Looking for rigor? Look no further.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

light and dark

NIGHT LIGHT by Nicholas Blechman. Orchard, 2013.

Die cuts provide beams of light on dark backgrounds. As readers turn from page to page, the number of die cuts increase in number from 1 to 10. This is a great child in lap book to help teach numbers concepts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

hard truths

THE TRUE TALE OF THE MONSTER BILLY DEAN TELT BY HISSELF by David Almond. Candlewick Press, January 2014.

From the opening sentence: "This tail is told by 1 that died at birth by 1 that came into the world in days of endless war & at the moment of disaster." to the last shattering chapter, this novel will capture readers and hold them hostage. Meet Billy Dean, a young boy who has lived in isolation never venturing beyond the confines of his house. His mother is the only constant in his life. Billy's father, a vaguely sinister figure, visits sporadically. From him, Billy begins to learn how to read and write somewhat. The crude writing, Billy's naïve yet worldly voice, and the mysteries at the center of this novel combine to create a singular effect (Poe would be envious) of horror committed on the innocent. Here is a story that must be experienced, swallowed in small bites, chewed thoroughly, and then read again from the beginning.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Funke is Fearless

FEARLESS by Cornelia Funke. Books on Tape/Listening Library, 2013. Read by Elliot Hill.

This new entry in the Mirrorworld series begins with Jacob Reckless facing certain death from the Red Fairy. He has only a short amount of time and just a glimmer of hope to find a cure or he will die. And so, he travels back into the world behind the Mirror to tell Fox goodbye. But if Jacob can find an elusive object perhaps all will be well. Trouble is, a Goyl is also seeking the same treasure. Funke sets her roots firmly in the fairy tale traditions with archetypes and motifs but they never take a front seat to the non-stop action and adventure.

Monday, July 1, 2013


THE THREE LITTLE PIGS AND THE SOMEHAT BAD WOLF by Mark Teague. Orchard/Scholastic, 2013.

Wolf is not so bad
Is he? Huffing and puffing
Then he faints away.