Sunday, July 14, 2013

You Don't Want to Miss These Summer Books for Kids

I do notice every year that I have a summer slowdown in July and August.  Perhaps it is because everyone is soaking up the sun on some exotic beach somewhere.  Perhaps it is because the parents who read my blog are so prepared that they got their kid's books back in June and head out fully engaged to meet their kid's summer reading needs.  Well whatever the reason, you just don't visit me as often.

I try not to take it personally ... but I start to wonder.  Are my witty remarks just not cutting it, are my book choices too serious for the summer months, does my breath smell? Strike that last one, I have superb oral hygiene.

Well whatever the reason, I am still here bringing you the best books I can find to get your kids excited about reading.  Any guilt?  A little teensy bit?  No, the fact you care about books gets you off the hook.

So this week I am doing a potpourri of books.  I try to expertly theme my weeks and give you three choices.  But I find that at the end of a period I have stragglers ... great stories that just didn't fit into any category but that I think your kids will love.  This week I am giving them their chance to shine.  Now just think, if you hadn't read me during the summer, you would have missed these.  Laud that over your friends who haven't stopped by!

Title:       Athlete vs. Mathlete

Author:   W. C. Mack

Target:    Grades 4-6

Series:     This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:
Twins Owen and Russell have their roles.  Owen is the jock who loves basketball.  Russett is the mathlete who does well in school and competes in Master of the Mind tournaments.  When the new basketball coach insists that Russell, who has a huge height advantage, try out for the team, both brothers think it is an exercise in futility.  However, it turns out that Russell’s ability to shoot means he will be a star player.  Can the brothers adjust to these new roles?

Why I love this book:
First off the story is told in the alternating voices of Owen and Russell.  I always love books that do this, because I think it really benefits kids to see both sides of an issue and helps them to develop empathy.  At times Owen is really struggling and his jealousy and anger felt very real.  I also appreciated Russell’s struggle with managing his many activities.

The books kind of let me down when it dealt with Russell and his Masters of the Mind team, but I think that only adults will really notice that flaw in the writing.  Kids should be very engaged in the basketball story and the conflict between the brothers.

Who this book is for:
Great for kids with siblings and a nice basketball story for kids who like sports books.

Final thoughts:
The title and cover for this book are just great!  I love it when they get it right.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Athlete vs. Mathlete (Athlete Vs Mathlete (Quality))  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       Poison

Author:   Bridget Zinn

Target:    Grades 4-7

Series:     No

What this book is about:

Kira is a sixteen year old potions master.  When she realizes that her kingdom is in trouble, she believes the only course of action is to kill the princess, a childhood friend.  When her poison dart misses the princess (and she never misses!) she must go on the run, but not so she can leave the kingdom, so she can try again to save it.  Along the way she acquires a pig and a human companion Fred, neither of whom she likes at first.  However, as they grow on her, she realizes she needs them both to complete her mission.

Why I love this books:
Besides a few editing issues, I found this book a fun ride.  The action is non stop and the twists and turns keep coming.  The cover, at first glance, makes this book look a little more serious than it actually is.  However, when you see the cute little pig popping out from the bottom corner, you realize that there will be some whimsy and humor involved.

While the action in the book was good, the story always felt lighthearted to me.  I think this was by design.  Fred, Kira’s companion, provided some humorous banter and I liked that Kira was a smart, kick your tushy kind of girl.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like action but nothing overly dark.  Also, if you like an enchanted pig, this is your book.

Final thoughts:
The author passed away before her novel was published.  It is truly a shame she couldn’t see how well her debut novel has been received. 

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Poison  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       The Unfortunate Son

Author:   Constance Leeds

Target:    Grades 5-8

Series:     No

What this book is about:

Set in the 1400s, Luc is born with only one ear, and his father is so cruel to him that he becomes an apprentice to a fisherman in the village.  The fisherman’s home is filled with love and friendship and just as he begins to feel this is were he is meant to be .... he is stolen by pirates and sold into slavery in Norther Africa.  Will he ever make back home and realize his true identity and purpose?

Why I love this book:
This book is surprisingly well written.  It was one of those can’t put it down types of books, but when I finished it and thought about the story, I realized that there really was very little action.  This would have concerned me, but my eleven year old, action loving son, read it first and told me how great it was.  So, in this case the suspense of the story and the strong writing are more than enough to make it a great read.

I also very much enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel and the look at Islamic culture and education at the end of the dark ages.  It really was quite enlightening.

Who this book is for:
There are simpler themes surrounding responsibility and loyalty and larger themes around education and the self worth that kids must be older to really understand.

Final thoughts:
The Unfortunate Son has an unfortunate cover, and proves to be the book’s one failing.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon :The Unfortunate Son  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

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