Monday, June 29, 2015

A Whodunit for Kids

Who doesn't love a good mystery?  A whodunit where our main character has to use his/her wits and skills to discover the perpetrator of a crime!  Well this week I have just such a book, so go on and pull out your notebook and magnifying glass because really, who ever solved a crime without a magnifying glass?

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Title: Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

Author: Marcia Wells

Target: Grades 4-6

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
Edmund has a photographic memory, and when he and his father witness a crime, he is able to draw a perfect likeness of the perpetrator.  The police are quite intrigued with his ability and end up offering him a job drawing the people he observes where an art heist may take place.  While they tell him nothing about the potential crime to keep him safe, he starts to figure out what is going on and suddenly realizes the cops may be searching in the wrong place.  But they won’t believe the hunch of a kid, will they?

Why I love this book: 
There were a lot of things to like about this story!  First off I love a good mystery, and this one wasn’t so convoluted that I couldn’t understand the premise or the solution.  Second, the mystery is solved with chess!  I have a sone who loves the game, so I know he will enjoy how perpetrator’s crime was laid out.

Of course, it is always fun to see main characters who aren’t  always white males, and the fact that we have a black main character is delightful.  His race is really irrelevant to the mystery, so how lovely that the author gave us some variety. 

The book also incorporates the drawing done by Eddie, and as I always say, I love fiction with some illustrations sprinkled in.  I don’t understand why they all have to disappear simply because a reader has moved on from picture books!

Who this book is for: 
Good for kids who like mystery books like Loot, or the Stuart Gibbs novels.

Final thoughts: 
I really enjoyed this one, although I think the tutorial in the back on how to draw faces will still be lost on this artistically challenged mom.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Vegetables In Underwear

What could be better than vegetables in underwear?  Well maybe a great glass of red wine and some smelly cheese, but I digress!  I mean what could be better than vegetables in underwear in a kid's book?  Well darn if I know!  So luckily for us they both play center stage in this new picture book.

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Title: Vegetable In Underwear

Author: Jared Chapman

Target: Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about: 
Broccoli leads us on an underwear tutorial.  We learn about clean and dirty underwear, old and new underwear and serious and funny underwear.  We wear it all seven days of the week, Monday through Sunday and we must remember to put our clothes on top, Of course babies wear diapers, but the rest of us enjoy our undies, briefs, or shall we say drawers!

Why I love this book: 
First off an eggplant in his skivvies is just funny no matter how you slice it!  What a silly way to teach kids opposites, and the days of the week to boot.  Also showing the babies in their diapers, will encourage any kid to move up to big kid underwear!

I love the endpaper in the book.  At the beginning we see all the veggies in their clothes and at the back of the book we see them all in their perfect undies, although our babies are still smarting a little from having to wear diapers.  

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who love to giggles and who have fun learning.

Final thoughts: 
This book may even get kids to like their vegetables.  Just tell kids to picture those veggies in their underwear and they will seem less intimidating!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Vegetables in Underwear  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good Young Adult Fiction

While it is not as often that I delve into the Young Adult category of kid's literature, this book just peaked my interest.  I always love books with alternating view points, and this one did not disappoint.  While it is filled with heavier subject matter, it never gets bogged down and it even has it's laugh out loud moments.  This is one I am very happy to have picked up.

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Title: We are All Made of Molecules

Author: Susin Nielsen

Target: Grade 7 and up

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Told in alternating voices, thirteen year old Stewart is academically gifted but socially awkward and fourteen year old Ashley is the popular girl with a mean streak.  Their worlds are thrust together when Stewart’s father and Ashley’s mother move into together and they become defacto sister and brother.  Stewart is still dealing with the aftermath of his mother’s death and Ashley is trying to get her head around the fact that her father has announced that he is a gay man.  While Stewart is giving this brother/sister relationship the old college try, Ashley is anything but pleased about what this means to her social standing.

Why I love this book: 
While this book does deal with the larger subjects of bullying, social pressure and death, it does so with both seriousness and humor.  There were several places when I laughed out loud during this story. 

Stewart is an incredibly engaging character because he always seems to find his optimism despite the problems in front of him.  Ashley’s downfall is her less than stellar academic ability which leaves her just vulnerable enough that the reader can find some humor and humanity in her.

I also loved the alternating voices because it gives the reader so much insight into the story.  However, Stewart is by far the more interesting character so the story is a bit lopsided, despite the fact that Ashley is a good foil for him.

Who this book is for: 
This book does have scenes where drinking is involved and a boy tries to take inappropriate pictures of Ashley.  Therefore, it is not appropriate for elementary school but is a good reminder for older children about the pressure to drink and the negative consequences that can come from that behavior.

Final thoughts: 
Love the title!  When you can’t find anything else in common, hey we are all made from the same stuff.

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

Monday, June 22, 2015

Realistic Fiction for Boys

I hate to get too serious in the summer, but while this book does have some bigger issues to contend with, it is also just a wonderful story about a boy.  When I saw the premise, I was a little hesitant about reading it, but I am so glad I put my fears aside, because it was so well done.

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Title: Lost in the Sun

Author: Lisa Graff

Target: Grades 5 and up

Series: There is a companion book Umbrella Summer but they are each stand alone stories

What this book is about: 
Trent is looking forward to a fresh start in Middle School.  Last year he was playing hockey and a puck he hit struck a boy with an undiagnosed heart condition and killed him.  While it was an accident, Trent still feels he deserves to be punished  He makes life around him miserable because everyone hates him, don’t they?  Well he certainly isn’t liking himself too much.  But then he meets a girl with a terrible scar on her face and suddenly seeing her sad seems worse than feeling bad all the time.

Why I love this book: 
A boy with divorced parents - check.  A death - check.  A self destructive main character - check.  As my son would say, all the makings of an award winning book.  But I was absolutely surprised by how much I loved this story.  Even as we watch Trent self sabotage himself, I couldn’t help really liking him.  His mother and brothers are also so well done that I loved them too.  The prank war between the brothers certainly lightened the mood at times and had me laughing out loud.  It also showed a real bond of friendship between them.

Fallon was an interesting friend for Trent and I was happy that there was no hint of romance, which would certainly have turned off many boy readers.  Their “movie club” which included just about every baseball film worth seeing should inspire some new film views in your household.

Who this book is for: 
Boys interested in realistic fiction will enjoy this one.  Trent is an athlete which will help sell this book to some boys, but with his love of the Dodgers no Giants fan in this house could admit to reading it.  

Final thoughts: 
This story is so well done.  I just wish the ending has been a little messier and not so neatly wrapped up.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Lost in the Sun  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Glamorous Book for Kids

While we may have turned into a dog household, this family can still appreciate the merits of a good cat story.  In Glamourpuss, we are treated to the best in cat fancy with a under appreciated feline friend and the ultimate truce in a dog and cat partnership.

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Title: Glamourpuss

Author: Sarah Weeks

Target: Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about: 
Glamourpuss is (surprise, surprise) a glamorous cat.  She is owned by the wealthily and indulgent Mr. and Mrs. Highhorsen.  When relatives come to visit with a (gasp) dog, Glamourpuss is suddenly not the center of attention.  The canine Bluebell wears fancy clothes and does tricks, to Glamourpuss’ utter disgust.   But it turns out Bluebell just wants to be like our pampered cat, and a true friendship finally emerges.

Why I love this book: 
First off the illustrations by David Small are marvelous.  My absolute favorite are of the costumed Bluebell who is just hanging on for dear life trying to keep everyone entertained.  We only ever get to see the faces of the animals, making this a feline focused story.

Sarah Weeks is a lovely author and her chapter books are absolutely charming.  Thankfully her picture book exudes charm as well.  My daughter and I loved it when Glamourpuss shortens Me-Ow to must Me and Bluebell follows suit, turning Bow-Wow into just Wow.  

Who this book is for: 
While this book is pink and glamorous it is also downright funny.  So if your child does not like to laugh, move on.  This book is not for you.

Final thoughts: 
Everyone needs a little Glamour in the life darling!

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Wicked Summer Read for Kids

Sometimes it is nice to read about a castle with a wicked witch, minions and an evil sorceress and not have it scare the socks off you.  In fact, this story will having you laughing and rooting for the wicked witch. Because sometimes it takes someone a little wicked to defeat someone truly evil.

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Title: Castle Hangnail

Author: Ursula Vernon

Target: Grades 4-6

Series: Not at this time

What this book is about: 
Molly shows up at Castle Hangnail when it is in dire need of a new caretaker.  The fact that she is twelve and doesn’t really seem like a Wicked Witch are conveniently overlooked by the minions who work there.  While she may not be particularly evil or demanding, she can do some wicked magic (but only to people who really deserve it!)  As she charms the minions and the townspeople, she is also hiding a secret which could spell the end of her time at the Castle.

Why I love this book: 
Vernon is the wildly successful author of the Dragonbreath series which I just adore.  Her books are clever and funny and this one did not disappoint.  Immediately you are rooting for Molly but you know something is going to go wrong, you just have to keep reading to find out what and when.  

Her supporting cast of characters are perfect.  As minions they have been adequately tortured and abused at the hands of past masters, but this is a new era and they quickly see the benefits and joys of the benevolent Molly.  Whether it is the minator who cooks the meals and has a particular issue with the letter Q or Pins, a rag doll like creature who can sew masterpieces out of old drapes or Major Domo who is not a natural hunchback, they grow to love Molly like family.

Who this book is for: 
Vernon readily states that she wrote this book as a tribute to Eva Ibbotson, so if your child has enjoyed The Secret of Platform 13 or Which Witch? this book will be a slam dunk.  Any kids who enjoy a fun story with humor and bad guys who get their comeuppance will certainly like this one.

Final thoughts: 
This book was quite fun and funnier than I expected.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Castle Hangnail  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wonderful Summer Read for Kids

I know the burning question that has been haunting you without abatement .... Just where do evil overlords get their minions?  You know, those trusting servants who do their master's bidding with no hesitation to the immediate harm that might come their way.  Well, as it turns out there is a school for that!  Thankfully the book I am profiling this week lets you in on the inner working of The School for Minions.

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Title: Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions

Author: Sheila Grau

Target: Grades 4-7

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:
We know there are schools for witches and wizards, but just where do Evil Overlords get their minions?  Dr. Cristchlor’s School for Minions of course!  Runt Higgins was abandoned at the school as a baby, and he is waiting for his werewolf instincts to kick in.  He is tired of always being in the dorm for humans and would like to be with some of the more ferocious creatures.  But he is with friends, which turns out to be helpful when someone begins sabotaging the school.  Could his beloved home be in jeopardy and what can an almost werewolf do to save the school?

Why I love this book: 
This book was a whole lot of fun.  Runt is so appealing and his cast of friends, an almost gargoyle, a tree nymph, a smaller than average ogre-man and the 25th version of Frankenstein were great companions.  

The mystery was not obvious, which is nice, so kids will have to work to find the saboteur.  If I have one complaint it is that the setup took a little too much time, but the payoff and action at the end were well worth the initial investment of time.  I hope that with the next book the pacing will be better early on.  

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who like books such as Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library or The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom.

Final thoughts: 
I really enjoyed the illustrations.  I don’t understand why more chapter books don’t incorporate them.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions: Book 1  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.