Monday, March 30, 2015

Great Graphic Novel for Girls

Really strong graphic novels are always something that brings a smile to my face.  I am a huge fan of the genre and when they are executed well they can rival some of the best novels out there.  The quality continue to get better and better and today I have a lovely debut graphic novel author who has nailed it on her first offering out of the gate.

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Title: Roller Girl

Author: Victoria Jamieson

Target: Grade 5-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Twelve year old Astrid and her friend Nicole are trying to decide what to do over the summer before they start middle school.  Nicole loves ballet, but Astrid is dreaming of becoming a roller derby champion.  When Nicole choses ballet camp with Astrid’s arch enemy over roller derby camp, their friendship is seriously threatened.  Perhaps it is time for these two friends to move on and follow their own passions.

Why I love this book: 
I am always looking for strong graphic novels to recommend after kids have read Smile and Sisters.  This book perfectly fits the bill.  The graphics are clean and realistic, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier.  The story is an honest look at friendship, hurt feelings and following the path that is right for you.

I enjoyed Astrid.  I liked that Roller Derby camp was hard and that she wanted to quit - welcome to the real world.  I liked that she didn’t always get the positions she wanted, despite working hard and that she had to deal with jealousy when her friend got a spot she was coveting.  These show kids that even in stories, characters can have happy endings by adjusting their expectations instead of expecting everything to go their way.  A lovely message that rings true.

Who this book is for: 
Great book for kids who enjoyed Smile and Sisters.

Final thoughts: 
I love that Astrid is a fierce strong girl to be reckoned with.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Roller Girl  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Best New Easter Book

Well Easter is right around the corner, and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't share my favorite holiday book with you.  Usually I revert back to an old classic, because let's face it, they have been around forever for a reason.  Who doesn't have a soft spot for The Golden Egg Book or Home for a Bunny, two Golden Book classics?

But their is a new guy in town - Easter Cat.  He gets the most serious of kids to giggle and even parents will appreciate his despair at finding out just how much work it takes to deliver eggs to kids on Easter morning.  Make room on your shelves for a new Easter classic!

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Title: Here Comes the Easter Cat

Author: Deborah Underwood

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
Cat is feeling a little put out.  I mean, what holiday has a cat for a mascot?  So cat decides he will be the Easter Cat and bring sweet treats to kids (after the narrator kindly suggests that hairballs might not be that well received.)  However, when he discovers that delivering all those treats is hard work, and that he can’t take seven naps a day, he decides that being a helper to the Easter Bunny, might be a better route to take.  But that hasn’t dissuaded him for coveting another famous job.  No I won’t tell … you have to read the book to find out.

Why I love this book: 
It is rare to find clever holiday books that aren’t sentimental, cutesy or sappy.  Thankfully this book is none of those and just plain intelligent fun.  The play between the narrator and the illustrations (because cats can’t talk after all) is brilliantly done.  Cat’s wordless expressions and visuals are spot on as the narrator interprets cat’s intent with just the right amount of hilarity and surprise.

Of course I love books with humor and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Cat is eager to please and is easily put out, which makes for fun turns as the job becomes quite different than he expected.  

Who this book is for: 
Why kids who like to laugh of course.

Final thoughts:
Too much feline fun!  A must have for the Easter book basket.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Here Comes the Easter Cat  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Potential Award Winner

Today I am going to tease you a little bit.  The book I am profiling is not available until August, but I got an early copy from NetGalley and boy is it good.

The author, Rebecca Stead, is already a Newbery winner for When You Reach Me, and I wouldn't be surprised if this book is a contender for a shiny sticker next year.  I enjoyed it far more than her previous books.  Something about this one just spoke to me and the weaving of friendships and love interests was masterful.  We are filled with loving relationships of all types in our lives and examining their connections is incredibly powerful.

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Title: Goodbye Stranger


Author: Rebecca Stead

Target: Grades 6 and up

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Told from alternating perspectives, this book follows the 7th grade friendship of Bridge, Tab and Emily.  They are managing their friendship as boys enter the picture and their own interest levels are are distinctly different.  Can they like a boy and not be ready to “like” a boy.  Can they manage social media when everything they do can come back to haunt them. We also follow their friend Sherm as he figures out his relationship with his grandfather who just left his grandmother after a lifetime together and we follow an unnamed narrator as she tries to understand how her childhood friendships are unravelling.  She is struggling to create loving relationships when she doesn’t always do the right thing.  Somehow these three stories come together to create a book with love at the center.

Why I love this book: 
I have always enjoyed Rebecca Stead, but this book was my favorite so far.  As I was trying to summarize the book, I was amazed at how much she developed her themes and characters while the story felt effortless.  It really is an example of quiet simplicity with richly developed ideas about friendship and love.  

One of the issues the book deals with is texting questionable photos.  As Emily tries to figure out her relationship with a boy Patrick in a seventh grade world, it felt all too real.  Meanwhile, Bridge can’t imagine not spending time with Sherm, but doesn’t really feel ready to have a boyfriend, and Tab is completely under the spell of her new teacher who preaches to the girls that they are not objects.  I could see so much of girls this age in these characters.  

I could also relate to the unnamed character as she clings to friendships of the past that lead her to make unkind choices in the present.  These teens just want to be liked and how they manage that within their own levels of confidence was a timely reminder to me.

Who this book is for: 
I would put this book squarely in middle school, even if you have an advanced reader.  The issues are appropriate for sixth grade and up and are deftly handled, but for younger kids, they just aren’t emotionally there yet.  The book will also lean more towards girls.  We do get Sherm’s perspective, but I don’t think that is enough to bring the story home for most boys.

Final thoughts: 
In Rebecca Stead’s last three books, it feels as thought the story leads to a surprise reveal at the end.  Because of this structure, I found myself at times trying to guess the end instead of just enjoying the beauty of the book.  Most kids will not notice this, but for me, I would have liked to see a little bit different structure to the story.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Goodbye Stranger  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Cooking Up a Great Book for Kids

I picked this book up for my daughter's birthday.  She has always enjoyed cooking and it seemed like a promising start to a new series.  To my delight, she started the book the next day and finished it in record time. Turns out it is a lovely story about cooking, culture and friendship and we are both looking forward to the next installment!

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Title: The Saturday Cooking Club: Kitchen Chaos

Authors: Deborah Levine & JillEllyn Riley

Target: Grades 4-7

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Best friends Liza and Frankie have to do a project for school on immigration.  They decide to look at how different foods came to America.  When a new girl is invited into their group, she throws off the flow of these two friends.  As they wrestle with this change, and the cooking class they are taking with their mothers, all sorts of family dynamics emerge! 

Why I love this book: 
First off I really enjoyed the plethora of cultures in this story.  Frankie comes from a large Italian family, Liza from African American heritage and Lillian’s parents are from China.  They all find that food ties their cultures together.

This is also a wonderful book if you have a foodie in your midst.  The girls enjoy cooking and are exposed to a variety of different dishes and their origins. It is also a lovely look at mothers and daughters and the strains and benefits of these relationships.  It isn’t always smooth sailing, but it is nice to have your mom in your corner! 

I appreciated how the authors tackled the issue of a third friend because I think this is something that girls grapple with and it was nice to see that it isn’t always easy, but it can be done!

Who this book is for: 
Girls who like to cook will enjoy this story as well as girls who enjoyed the Mother-Daughter Book Club Series.

Final thoughts: 
I am looking forward to next book these authors are cooking up!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Kitchen Chaos (The Saturday Cooking Club)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Picture Book for Dog Lovers

Ok, I cannot tell a lie.  While the picture book I am profiling today is quite good, I might ... just might have been influenced by the fact that there is an adorable dog at the center of this story.  Now I usually do not succumb to the cuteness of our canine friends, but I just got a new puppy, so my doggy hormones are all in a tizzy and I see cute pups everywhere.

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You can scroll down to the bottom to see a photo of my latest family member.  We are besot!

Title:Extraordinary Jane

Author:Hannah E. Harrison

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
Jane is lovely little dog who comes from an extraordinary circus family.  Her mother is graceful on the back of a horse, her father can lift an elephant in the ring and her daring brothers relish being fired out of cannons.  Jane tries to find a talent, with sometimes disastrous results.  However, she is really good at being herself and being a loyal and devoted pet turns out to be the best thing of all. 

Why I love this book: 
First off the illustrations are fabulous!  You can feel Jane’s trepidation as she stands at the height of the trapeze.  You can sense the other animals displeasure when she rolls a balancing ball through their rehearsal and you can delight as the ringmaster realizes what a gem of a pet he has in Jane.  No words needed, the expressions on these darling animals say it all!

However there are words in this book and the message is lovely.  Being yourself is the greatest pleasure.  In an environment where we all want our kids to be the best, fastest and smartest it is nice to share this lesson. Of course the fact that Jane is the cutest dog you have ever seen helps things along!

Who this book is for: 
Any pet lover will thoroughly enjoy this story and illustrations.

Final thoughts: 
This book is just adorable.  Dare you not to smile while reading … double dog dare you!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Extraordinary Jane  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Kid's Book With Plenty of Action

I love a book with a good competition ... the race is on ... who will come out of top?  If your tween is a  fan of the Amazing Race, then this book will be right up their alley.  A little conniving, some crazy challenges and a contest that takes place around the globe are all the hallmarks of this new story.

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Title:Inherit Midnight

Author:Kate Myers

Target:Grades 5 and up

Series:No

What this book is about: 
Avery has always been the black sheep of the family.  Her mother is dead, her father is absent and so her domineering grandmother steps in to raise her.  But she is a VanDemere, and being from such a prominent family means high expectations are placed on her.  When her grandmother falls ill, the older woman devises a competition where her offspring will compete to win control of the company and the family assets.  Avery has never fit in, but suddenly she realizes that winning could mean a freedom she has never known.  The game is on, the competition is fierce, but she is ready to compete.

Why I love this book: 
This was a fun premise.  I am a big fan of books with games or competitions, it really adds to an action packed narrative, and this one didn’t disappoint.   While the outcome was fairly predictable, the puzzles were unique and I was caught up in seeing how everyone would approach the latest riddle. Think Amazing Race family style.

I liked Avery because she is of course scarred and emotionally fragile but she has guts and resilience.  I could have done with out the cheesy romance, but it is very innocent and for kids who like a cute boy and a fun crush, this story line will fit the bill.

Who this book is for: 
Fans of Aly Carter’s Heist Society books will enjoy this one, as well as girls who like Kiera Cass’ The Selection.

Final thoughts: 
I can’t say this book is award winning fiction, but I can say that is well written and it is an exciting ride.  I was completely caught up in the competition and yes I do watch Amazing Race.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Inherit Midnight  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - What's Next?

Parents are always on the hunt for books that resemble Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  There are quite a few good contenders in this genre and today I am introducing you to Otis Dooda.  I liked him, but of course any kid that will take on the local Lego genius has got to be a contender in my book.

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Title: Otis Dooda:Downright Dangerous

Author: Ellen Potter

Target: Grades 2-5

Series:Yes

What this book is about: 
In this second book in the series, Otis is about to start at a new school.  He continues to get to know the residents of his apartment building, Tidwell Towers, manage his brother Gunther and put up with the dogs his mother insists on “training.”  In this story he will be involved with alien baby eggs, he will battle the greatest Lego genius that ever lived and  he will manage a rice pudding explosion - not very successfully. 

Why I love this book: 
I like Otis, which helps this book along considerably.  He has an absolutely silly group of friends, and by silly I mean quirky character who happily inhabit the extreme.  Potty humor is abundant, but it was done well so I have no complaints.

There is not a lot of story here, but simply following the antics of Otis and his group proves to be quite entertaining.

Who this book is for: 
With plenty of illustrations and large type, this will appeal to kids who like the Wimpy Kid Series.  It is also ideal for reluctant readers, although I imagine even voracious readers will enjoy the antics of Otis.  I have not read the first book, and that was not a problem so the books are not dependent on one another.

Final thoughts: 
It isn’t often I read a series that also has a soundtrack.  You can hear for yourself here!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Otis Dooda: Downright Dangerous (Otis Dooda Series)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.