Friday, May 27, 2016

So Your Child Wants to Be a Samurai?

I will round out Samurai Week with a picture book and a fact book on the Samurai.  For kids who want to learn more about what it takes to be an elite Japanese warrior I have a book that details everything from the training to the armor to the living conditions.  There is even an interview at the end to determine if you would get the job.

For the younger kids I have a book that looks at what qualities a samurai must posses to own the perfect sword.  This sword was forged with attention to every detail.  Only the most worthy will have a chance at the magnificent weapon.

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To purchase any of the books simply click on the image.  This will take you to Amazon where a portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Do You Want to Be a Samurai Warrior? by Fiona MacDonald


This book is a wonderful guide to the discover the diverse skills you will need to become a samurai warrior in ancient Japan.  Plenty of illustrations and a handy interview guide at the end of the book make this a fun read and an informative way to see if your child has what it takes.



The Perfect Sword by Scott Goto 


In this book, Micho is an apprentice to a master wordsmith.  When they create the most magnificent sword, they know it cannot go to just any Samurai.  They interview several before they find one with the right amount of humility, a strong work ethic and the ability to care for others.  Rich illustrations and the inclusion of additional information about sword making make this a rewarding read.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Bamboo Sword for Samurai Week

Samurai Week continues with a book by a wonderful author of historical fiction, Margi Preus.  If kids haven't read her first book on the opening of Japan, Heart of a Samurai, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

She has graced us with a companion book and while it can be read as a stand alone, I would recommend that kids start with Heart of a Samurai, which will real them into a unique situation of a boy who is saved by Westerners, the brutes he has been taught to hate and fear.  I always think it is brilliant when an author can craft a compelling story and get kids interested in a historically significant event.  In this case they will be fascinated by the opening of Japan to the West.

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Title: The Bamboo Sword

Author: Margi Preus

Target:Grades 5 and up

Series: This is a companion book to Heart of a Samurai

What this book is about: 
Yoshi is is a lowly Japanese servant in the mid 1800’s, who dreams of being a samurai, when the American steam ships enter Edo Bay.  Japan has been closed off to the West for 200 years and the Japanese think the Westerners are barbarians.  Through a series of misfortunes related to the Americans, Yoshi is being hunted by an actual samurai. He takes on a variety of difficult jobs to get away from the samurai and ends up going into hiding with a cabin boy from one of the American ships.   While a partnership with the American can certainly seems hazardous, perhaps they can help each other navigate these new waters.

Why I love this book: 
When historical fiction is done well, kids get a great story and they learn about events that shaped a country.  I like to think of it as a win/win!   In this book there are sword fights, spies, and chases through the landscape, everything you need for a great adventure book.  And kids get to learn about the opening of Japan to the Western world, a monumental event.

I am targeting the book a bit older because there is also a lot of talk of politics and diplomacy, which may easily get lost on a younger reader. 

Who this book is for: 
Kids who love history or a great action adventure story will enjoy this one.  Kids do not have to have read Heart of a Samurai to enjoy this book but will probably get more out of it if they have.

Final thoughts: 
I liked that photos and illustrations are dispersed through the text.  There aren’t a plethora of them, but they were nice to see since the background of the story is based on actual events.

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

Monday, May 23, 2016

It's Samurai Week for Kids

It is Samurai Week on the blog!  Now what kid doesn't want to journey back in time and learn about the elite Japanese warriors who were honorable, brave and disciplined?  Weapons are wielded, battles are fought and heads roll!  Good stuff.

Today's book is a biography is about a Japanese warrior from the 12th century.  His tale is a saga that reads like an exciting piece of fiction.  It encompasses violence, courage, strategy and selflessness that will suck the reader into this compelling narrative.

Don't forget to follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss a single story that gets the kids engaged in history.

Title: Samurai Rising

Author: Pamela S. Turner

Target: Grades 6 and up

Series: No

What this book is about: 
This book tells the true story of Yoshitsune, an 12th century samurai in Japan.  He is exiled as a child, and runs away as a teenager.  He becomes the most famous fighter of all time as he leads his soldiers into bloody battles to restore his family name and return them to power.  He is immortalized when his family eventually betrays him!

Why I love this book:
  • Ok, when the tag line on the back of the book says “Very few people in this story die of natural causes.”  I was hooked!
  • I love nonfiction books that create a compelling story for kids, and this one does just that.  You will think you are reading a book of fiction but do not be fooled.  This book is insanely well researched, despite the almost 900 years that have passed since the events occurred.  
  • Kids will get a look at the life and training of a samurai and at the world of ancient Japan. Being a samurai wasn’t always the noble calling that we think of and I believe children will be surprised at how undignified the fighting could be. 
  • While they play a small role in the story, I did like how the author addressed the place of women in ancient Japan and was pleasantly surprised by their strength and opportunities.
Who this book is for:  
This book is wonderful for kids who love stories on the art of war or books about battles.  It reads like a piece of fiction, so even kids who are less interested in nonfiction books will be surprised by how they are drawn into this story.  


Final thoughts: 
Be warned, there are some bloody deaths and a lot of severed heads, the makings of a can’t put down biography … now how often do you hear that?

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




Friday, May 20, 2016

Stuart Gibbs Delivers Exciting Books for Kids

It's Friday, the day when I pull a book out the archives to share with you.  Today I am taking a look at one of my favorite authors, Stuart Gibbs.

So why do I love this guy's work so much?  Well, you can't get out of the first chapter of any of his books without an edge your seat chase and a bad guy who just manages to get away.  The action starts from page one, so even the most reluctant reader is hooked from the get go!  The humor and fun just keep going, making these can't put down reads.

Today I thought I would focus on his Space series because he recently introduced a new installment, Spaced Out.  However, his Spy School series and Fun Jungle books are equally as compelling.  When I gave Spaced Out to my son, he went to his room and didn't come out until diner, for which we had to coax him.  Can't give a book series more praise than that.


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Title:       Space Case

Author:  Stuart Gibbs

Target:   Grades 4-8

Series:    Yes

What this book is about: 
The year is 2040 and America has created a colony on the moon.  Sadly for Dashiell, a twelve year old kid, living on the moon is not as exciting as some might think.  But then the base physician is found dead outside of the air lock.  While most people think he went crazy, Dash isn’t so sure.  Suddenly Dash is busy trying to find out the truth, but not everyone wants him digging too deep.

Why I love this book: 
Gibbs is one of those authors that delivers every time.  First off he hooks readers with his just on the verge of gross it's cool antics, which in this case involve the workings of a space toilet.  He then hits you with a mystery where the kid is the only one to see the truth.  Finally, he empowers his main character to solve the mystery with lots of action, adventure and a great side kick.  It is a predictable formula but he does it so well that he grabs me every time.

While his other like type mysteries are set it an animal park, this one on the moon is quite enlightening.  It was fun to learn a little about what it might be like to colonize the moon and I think it does paint a realistic picture of what that would entail.  Of course Dash is engaging and likable and you are rooting for him from the start.

Who this book is for: 
This is a great book for kids who like mysteries and action books  If you kids liked Loot or any of Chris Rylander’s books, this one will be a slam dunk.

Final thoughts: 
Gibbs delivers again with a book that is out of this world!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Space Case (Moon Base Alpha)  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Travel Books for Kids

So many of you will be traveling this summer and I wanted to share a set of books that I loved to give my older kids when we traveled!  My kids adored them and I found out the publisher recently released a new set of pop-up books aimed at the younger set so that even the littlest traveler can get in on the action!

I have used the books on New York, London and Paris with my kids and Lonely Planet kindly  provided me with copies of both the pop-up books and the books my family has used for these three cities.


So guess what .... I get to give them away to you!  

Yes, from the comfort of your own home, you can enter to win a set of these fabulous books.  To enter, simply comment in the section below (don't forget to leave your email address) and let me know what city you are interested in ... New York, London or Paris.  I will draw names out of hat on May 30 and let you know if you have won!  How great is that?



Title: Not For Parent (Insert City) Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

By: Lonely Planet

Target: Grades 3 and up

What these books are about: 
These books are a little bit history, a little bit trivia, a little bit landmarks and a whole lot of fun.  With pictures throughout and information blurbs to dispense fun facts these can make even the most reluctant traveler excited about seeing a new city!  They are not guidebooks but a plethora of interesting tidbits that kids will love to share with their siblings and parents.  It is way more fun to be in the know.

Why I love these books:

- I have used these books with my own kids for our trips.  Generally my kids have been lukewarm about reading them before we leave because they don't have a context for the information.  But when we get to our destination and start seeing the places mentioned in the book they can't devour them fast enough.  They love spouting out the trivia they have learned, their new found knowledge of funny facts and their mastery of city history.

- These books give kids a lightheated perspective on the things they are seeing.  Places and events are so much more fun when the whole family has a better understanding of what they are observing, and these books provide kids with a fun way to the understand the place and the times.  After all, it takes a lot of time, money and effort to visit a new place so why not make it as fun and educational as possible, and by educational I mean learning about weird food, rats and snapping alligators.

Who these books are for: 
Great for all kids when traveling

Final thoughts:
Lonely Planet is also introducing a new series called City Trails for this age group.  I haven't seen them yet but imagine they will also be filled with fun facts for young travelers.

To purchase these books if you didn't win them (see above):
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Not For Parents.  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.



Title: Pop-Up (Insert City)

By: Loney Planet

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What these books are about: 
These books are meant to introduce just a few landmarks and limited trivia to the younger set.  The pop-ups are very stylish and kids will have a kick finding the real places when they travel.

Why I love these books:

- These were not around when my kids were younger, but they are a lovely way to introduce a younger child to what they will see and get them excited when they find the landmark.

- These books end with a topographical map of the city with the landmarks in the book highlighted.  A nice way to orient kids and give them a general sense of where things are.



Who these books are for: 
Any young traveler!

Final thoughts: 
Wish I had had them when my kids were young!

To purchase these books if you didn't win them (see above):
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Pop-Up.  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, May 16, 2016

BookExpo America BEA

I thought it might be fun to share my experiences this year at BookExpo America with all of you.  I had debated going for the last several years and this year I just pulled the plug and decided to experience this event for myself.  For those of you unfamiliar with BEA, it is the place where publishers converge and share all their new and exciting titles from adult to children to educational books.  The event is for those "in the industry" so it is filled with book sellers, librarians and bloggers, basically anyone who buys and promotes books!

Wednesday

I began my adventure on Wednesday with a blogging conference that inspired me to think about how I can continue to provide interesting content, get over the blogger burnout and continue to provide you with a fresh and honest voice in an overcrowded world of books!

I also got a chance to talk with publishers and discuss the best way for bloggers to work with them.  Sadly I think many bloggers look for a lot of free books from publishers, so way too much of the discussion was devoted to getting books as opposed to working together when a blogger loves a book, a real lost opportunity I think.

BEA opened it's doors on Wednesday afternoon, and I don't quite think I was quite ready for what was to come.   A friend described it as Disneyland for book lovers and that is an apt description.  As I walked from booth to booth publishers were simply handing me books that they were excited about and wanted to promote.  The free books and tote bags were flying as I literally had to say no more!

That first day I knew several advanced reader copies of books I was interested in were being given out, so I scouted out those books.  Little did I know that Shannon Hale and I would don squirrel ears as she and her husband kindly signed and advance copy of her new middle grade novel appropriately titled Squirrel Girl.  Wish I had a picture of that one, but I was so shocked by the whole event it didn't occur to me to pull out my phone.  Scholastic kindly gave me an advanced copy of Dog Man, the new series by Dav Pilkey out in August and several more publishers kindly passed along books I was interested in reading.

Even though I was extremely judicious about the books I took I still ended up with a pile!

Thursday

On Thursday the fun really began.  This is when the author events seemed to reach their peak.  I started with a baguette themed book signing with Mo Willems and his new picture book Nannette's Baguettes.  They gave us such an early edition to review that it isn't even bound yet!   I remembered to get pictures but I absolutely hate getting my picture taken so you will just have to imagine.

Adam Gitwitz, author of A Tale Dark and Grimm was a delight and offered an early copy of his new book The Inquisitor's Tale which features farting dragons in medieval France.  I hope I love it as much as A Tale Dark and Grimm!

Jennifer Holmes was lovely as we talked about our California connection and she shared her new book Full of Beans, a companion novel to her Newbery Honor book Turtle in Paradise

Raina Telgemeier offered up her new graphic novel Ghosts, out in September.  She was probably one of the most reserved authors I met but her talent speaks for itself.

I even met up with the publishers of Choose Your Own Adventure who are reprinting the classics and adding new titles to the series.  How fun is that?


I received the new series from the author of the Mysterious Benedict Society as well as the new Miss Piggle Wiggle book and got another encounter with Shannon Hale who made dorky faces with me before she handed over a copy of the new Princess in Black out in November.

Between meeting Kwame Alexander and having him do an impromptu rap about his new picture book and chatting with Erin Colfer and Dan Santat who were funny and charming I was considering it a pretty full day.

I did take the time to get out of the convention hall and take in the Chicago Art Institute.   Wow, I am so glad I did not let exhaustion get the better of me.  It was absolutely inspiring and gave me the mojo to make it to Friday.

Again, I was extremely picky about the books I wanted, but ended up with an unexpected wealth of riches.

Friday

I started Friday at an author breakfast moderated by Jamie Lee Curtis.  The picture makes it seems like it was a huge event since she is on a screen, but the truth is I got the times mixed up and arrived 15 minutes late.  I had to sit in the back and it was hard to get a picture of the whole panel without people's breakfast plates in the way, so that was the best I could do.

The breakfast was very inspiring as Jamie shared her new book about discovering what you are made of, Dav Pilkey reminded parents to love their kids and let them read what makes them happy to make them better readers (a message I wholeheartedly agree with), Sabaa Tahir talked about facing her fears and Gene Luen Yang encouraged everyone to read outside their walls of comfort.  Nice to know these intelligent and thoughtful folks are the ones creating the works your children can't put down!

The rest of the day was a blur of meetings on the trends in Middle Grade fiction and a review of the some of the best new books.  Stay tuned, I will let you know if they reach the promise of their promoted greatness.

Of course I had to take a minute to talk with Jennifer Nielsen, who told me the character in her new book is the female version of Sage from The False Prince.  Now that's exciting.  I also got some copies of the new Tom Angleberger books, so we shall see if they live up to the promise of Orgami Yoda!

I ended the day with more books and a trip to Fedex to get all these books home!

I can't wait to let you know what's coming and if it will inspire your children.  It all looks good on the outside, but you never know until you get into the meat of the story if it lives up to the hype.  I am so excited to get into these books and share the ones that will keep your kids up nights.

Will I go next year?

I don't know.  I am not a fan of publishers directing my book selections, it always makes me wary.

I also felt overwhelmed by the amount of people and the number of events.

While I met some amazing folks, the sea of faces was a lot to deal with.

I like free books, who doesn't?  But I felt the give away became more important than the quality and the match with the recipient.

On the flip side, I got to meet some amazing authors and putting a face and personality to a name was a delight.

I also met some wonderful publishers who understood how to successfully work with bloggers to give you the reader better knowledge and access to great titles.

The librarians, teachers and bloggers I met were so delightful and fun it made the lines and events a chance to connect and learn so many new things. So, no decisions yet.

I will leave it a question mark!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Quirky Book for Kids

Today I am going a little funky with my book choice.  This one is eccentric and won't appeal to every kid, but it you get the right kid, this one will be a hit.  If you think it may be close, give it a try.  It has fun written all over it, and by fun I mean mystery and mayhem, not the actual work "fun".

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you won't miss a book that is almost shaped like a square, but not quite.  Why they didn't go for the full square is beyond me!

Title: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye

Author: Tania Del Rio

Target: Grades 4 and up

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Warren is, you guessed it, the 13th in a line of Warrens who have owned the Warren Hotel.  His parents died young and tragically so Warren’s uncle has been the hotel’s custodian until Warren turns eighteen.  Warren continues to live at the hotel and perform every task needed to run the day to day operations because his Uncle is seriously lazy and has let the hotel go into disrepair.  When his Uncle’s new wife arrives things take an interesting turn.  She is tearing the hotel apart looking for the All-Seeing Eye, a magical device that she thinks will help her regain her powers because it turns out she is a …. are you ready for it?  A witch!  Now things are getting interesting.

Why I love this book:
  • I love books that are illustrated for older kids.  I don’t understand why we have to take out all the pictures just because we get older.  The illustrations in this book are stylized and quite striking done in black, white and red.  They add a charm and victorian feel to the narrative.  Loved them!
  • The mystery in this book was quite a lot of fun.  There is an eclectic and interesting set of characters to move the story along as we get closer to finding the All-Seeing Eye.
  • In an odd way it reminded me of the movie The Grand Budapest Hotel.  There is a conscientious bellboy, a resplendent hotel which has fallen upon hard times and a mystery to be solved.  Fun stuff.
Who this book is for: 
This one is a little harder for me.  This would be a great book to read aloud because it has a lot for kids and adults.  It is a bit reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events, so kids who liked that series may very well find this book a good fit.  Also fans of Coraline, who like a bit of the of the macabre will enjoy this one.

Final thoughts: 
I quite enjoyed the fact that this book’s dimensions were 8” by 9”.  It a nice change of pace to have a book that is formatted a little differently and added to it’s charm.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye.  A portion of each purchase will go to this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.