Sunday, October 27, 2013

2014 Newbery Contenders Continued

Well I'm back to some Newbery predictions - that shiny books sticker that defines the most distinguished book for young people during a given year.  It's always so hard to know what this years group of select librarians will reward, but today I am profiling a few titles that have some potential.  I try to pick the ones that I think kids will respond to, although being popular is definitely not part of the criteria for the award.  Here's hoping the winner this year will be both compelling to judges and children.

I thought I would start off with Counting by 7s, a book that I think that is akin to Wonder.  By that I mean that it will resonate with kids and parents, but I don't know if it will win despite the love surrounding it.   Doll Bones is fitting for the Halloween season as it deals with a ghost in our midst.  We learned from The Graveyard Book that scarier fiction can take home the big prize.  Zebra Forest was perhaps my favorite of the group, but it is also the story that left me the least comfortable at times.  That is probably why it has stuck with me the longest but it also may be why it will give the judges some pause.

Don't forget to like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for all the best Newbery contenders.  Even if they don't turn out to be winners, there is no disputing their quality, although I always like to get few right!

To see my other contenders this year, click on the following link: 2014 Newbery Contenders

Title:       Counting by 7s

Author:   Holly Goldberg Sloan

Target:    Grades 5-8

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Willow is a genius, there is no doubting that.  Her hobbies lean towards the scientific realm such as plant grafting and medical analysis, however this has meant that she never quite fits in with her peers.  Her parents love and support her unconditionally.  However, it is after their untimely death in a car accident that Willow’s world is turned upside down.  With no close relatives, it is small connection with an acquatance that leads her to a temporary home behind a nail salon and eventually a series of misfits that help Willow overcome her grief and start to feel apart of a community again.

Why I love this book:
First off the character of Willow just blew me away.  She is scientific, matter of fact, and absolutely caring to those who touch her life.  Her frankness, intelligence and yes, humor, make this book a wonderful read.  I frankly couldn’t put it down because I was so invested in what would happen to Willow.

She is also surrounded by a cast of characters that is absolutely intriguing.  Dell Sloan, her incompetent and uninspired guidance counselor, Patty Huguyen who owns the nail salon and takes charge where others wouldn’t, Patty’s children who find comfort with Willow in very different ways, all add to the richness of the story.  But they are never cliche nor do they ever get too sappy and predictable.

The last area I want to touch on is the variety of ethnicities in the book.  I loved that Willow identified herself as a person of color while Willow’s parents were white.  Patty is black and Asian and her children are also Mexican.  It is nice to see a book which mixes everything up.

Who this book is for:
This is a tough one for me.  Darn if that Willow doesn’t just suck you in, so I would say encourage all kids to give this one a try.  While the idea of the book may not be a quick sell, the first few chapters will have them hooked.

Final thoughts:
I laughed, I cried, I got something out of this story.  Cliche but oh so true.

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: Counting by 7s  A portion of each purchase goes back to this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       Doll Bones

Author:   Holly Black

Target:    Grades 4-7

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Zach and his two friends Poppy and Alice have been playing a game of pretend with pirates and villains for years.  Despite getting older, this game remains something they privately enjoy.  When Zach’s father throws away all his action figures he used for the game, Zach feels betrayed and hurt.  He tells the others that he can no longer play and in an attempt to get him back, Poppy takes out one of the dolls locked in her mother’s cupboard that they had anointed the queen of their pretend realm.  However, the doll starts appearing to Poppy in dreams and wants to be taken home.  This begins a quest with three kids and a doll across state borders, sailing down river and hiking along highways.   Will the quest be worth it and do they really believe that the doll is the ghost of a dead girl?

Why I love this book:
This book is a combination of sentimental and creepy.  Black strings us along so that we don’t know if the doll is possessed or if she is simply a ploy being used by Poppy to keep her friends together.  At the heart of the book is the idea that as we grow up we move on to new activities and new friends.  Can we really keep ahold of some of the magic from childhood?

The idea of playing with action figures or dolls which is presented in this book could go one of two ways with kids.  Either they will find it too juvenile and turn away from the book, or they will appreciate that the characters still like to get caught up in fantasy scenarios and recognize themselves in some way.  I hope it is the later because this book was very well done.

Who this book is for:
There is a creepy element, so kids have to be fans of that.  Kids have to enjoy more of a psychological thriller. 

Final thoughts:
I still have a hard time, after looking at the cover and the title, wrapping myself around the fact that the story is told from a boy’s perspective.  I don’t think a lot of twelve year old boys will want to carry around a book with “doll” in the title.  I actually wish they had made the cover creepier so that boys would be more drawn to the story.

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

Title:       Zebra Forest

Author:   Adina Rishe Gewirtz

Target:    Grades 5-8

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Annie and her brother Rew live with their grandmother.  Their grandmother is plagued with periods of depression and Annie learns to take care of herself at a very young age.  However, one summer day their family is taken hostage by a man who has escaped from the local prison.  In an unusual twist of fate, it turns out to be the father she and Rew thought was dead.  Can this family ever get over the lies and can they handle the truth of their situation?

Why I love this book:
I have to admit that I was a little hesitant about this book.  It can be dark and a little scary at times, especially at the beginning.  But the writing is so good, that I was completely caught up in the book.  Gewirtz weaves the story of Treasure Island in seamlessly with the narrative as this story of pirates has become a lifeline and an inspiration for the children, but it also strangely mirrors their own lives.  It really made me want to pick up Treasure Island again.

While the beginning is dark, it does end in a positive way and I felt a whole lot better about recommending the book after I was done.  I am afraid I have already scared quite a few of you away, but the story is powerful and the writing is crafted but never feels contrived.

Who this book is for:
This book will probably not appeal to kids who only gravitate to action or humorous books, but for kids who are willing to invest more in a story, this is a wonderful book.

Final thoughts:
This is a debut novel and I was impressed.

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

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rotten Pumpkins for Picture Book Friday

Ok, so you are looking for a scary book for Halloween!  Half the fun of the holiday is the fright factor.  Should you select a book with zombies, the paranormal, or things that go bump in the night?  Those don't hold a candle to the book I am profiling today because as we all know, truth is often times scarier than fiction!

Don't forget to like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for the best rotten books you will ever find!

Title:       Rotten Pumpkin

Author:   David M. Schwartz

Target:    Kindergarten - Grade 6

What this book is about:
Do you ever wonder what happens to a Jack O Latern when Halloween is over ... well wonder no longer.  This book takes us through the decomposition process ripe with slugs, mold, fungi and earthworms.  No slimy, disgusting detail is spared in the telling of this tale.  And of course, the perfect scary stories leave us with some hope at the end and this story is no exception as our forgotten seed sprouts again.

Why I love this book:
My daughter just kept going through the pictures in this book, even though (or should I say because) they grossed her out.  But while the gory details may bring kids to this book, the benefit is that they will learn something about decomposition along the way.  Did you know that a fly vomits on pumpkin flesh so he can lap the nutrients up?  Did you know about the sow bug who eats the pumpkin mold and poops it out to live on on other pumpkins?  You can't make this stuff up.

The photos by Dwight Kuhn are wonderful in their icky details and leave nothing to the imagination.  I also quite liked the experiments that were offered up at the end of the book to keep the learning going.

Who this book is for:
Kids who are curious will enjoy this book.

Final thoughts:
Maybe we won't carve this year, the images are still too fresh!

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zombie Books for Kids Are All the Rage

Zombies are making a comeback in kids literature.  Sure they have been around in YA books for a while now, an offshoot of the vampire books, but even the younger set can now get a taste for the undead.  While they can border on gross and are a little bit creepy, authors have found a way to use humor to take the fright factor out and leave us with some well timed chuckles.

So lets give the undead some love.  This week two of the books I am profiling, Case File 13 and My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish have knee slapping funny action. They are guarenteed to provide guffaws.

My last book, Dead City is great for middle grade kids and has plenty of action and humor, but stays far away from the slapstick comedy.  I love that the heroine is a girl, so even the females can kick a little zombie tushie!  I was very impressed with the start of this series, so it is one to watch.

Don't forget to like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for all the books that will help your kids prepare for the zombie apocalypse.  Now wouldn't you hate to face that one unprepared?

Title:       Case File 13: Zombie Kid

Author:    J. Scott Savage

Target:     Grades 4-7

Series:      Yes

What this book is about:
Three friends have an unusually strong obsession with monsters and the supernatural.  When one of the boys, Nick, finds out his recently deceased great aunt was a Zombie Queen, he can’t wait to investigate.  However, in doing so, he comes across an amulet that turns him into a Zombie.  Will he and his friends be able to lift the curse or is he doomed to loose body parts at an alarmingly increasing rate?

Why I love this book:
Just a great start to a new series.  It has all the fear and creepiness of zombies, tempered with laugh out loud humor and non stop action.  Now if you told me that Zombies and funny could work well in a kids book, I might have called you a liar.  However, I stand corrected.

If your kids are interested in folklore at all, the tidbits of history sprinkled throughout the book are a lot of fun.  The book has twists and turns that will keep kids guessing and one of my favorite parts was the commentary at the top of every chapter.  Each chapter starts you off with sayings like “Can you really have too many cemetery chapters in a scary story?” or “The chapter in which we discover what the heck is going on.”

Who this book is for:
Great book for kids who like the suspense of a creepy story, but with plenty of humor so that it is never scary.

Final thoughts:
Zombies have never been so fun!

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: Case File 13: Zombie Kid  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish

Author:   Mo O’Hara

Target:    Grades 2-5

Series:     Yes

What this book is a about:
Tom’s brother brings home a goldfish one day for a science experiment, and that experiment that involves putting toxic green gunk in the water.  The gunk is deadly and Tom attempts to save the fish with a zap of his battery and ends up bringing him back from the dead.  The only problem is that now he has created a zombie goldfish, and this fish is out for revenge on Tom’s brother.

Why I love this book:
Ok, nothing particularly highbrow here, but good old fashioned zombie fun!  The story is definitely silly and not scary so no zombie fright worries.  The hijinks that ensue in this narrative are all goofy and I did catch myself giggling several times, especially at the five most embarrassing things that can happen to a kid in elementary school.  I think I am guilty of inflicting #1 on my middle son - may he one day forgive me.

 The illustrations by Marek Jagucki are also quite charming and certainly add to the story.  The cover alone caught the attention of my son the moment I put it down.  This is a book that will get picked up.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like zombie fish and kids who like to laugh.  This book could go down to second grade with a proficient reader.  The pages are not overwhelming and there are illustration scattered through out.

Final thoughts:
Whatever you do, don’t look this fish in the eye .... I’m warning you!

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       Dead City

Author:   James Ponti

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
Molly is a struggling tween.  She is not the best at making friends and her workload is tough at MIST - the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology.  But her life changes when she is recruited into the Omegas, and elite force that keeps the peace with the zombie, I mean undead, community.  Yes, you got that right, there are zombies living among us in Manhattan and while some fit right in, others aren’t so nice.  When a group of zombies decides to plot to take over the city, well, Molly has to kick it up a notch, and that is where the trouble begins.

Why I love this book:
Ok, I read hundreds of books a year.  I read about animals that talk, fights to the death, fairies among us, and if I had a nickel for every heroine with a special power, I would be a rich woman.  However, despite all this reading, this is only middle adventure series I have read about zombies!  Awesome!

This story was so much fun.  I will warn you that it does have a bit of an ick factor, I mean the undead can loose a limb and keep on fighting, but the story is fast paced, engaging and exciting so the falling limbs simply added color to the story.  

I also really enjoyed Molly’s team of zombie fighters.  They are nerdy and cool all at the same time as they work to solve mysteries and discover ancient secrets.  I do wish that Ponti had provided a little more of the history of how new zombies are created, but perhaps that is being saved for the next book.

Who this book is for:
Any kid who likes action and does not have a sensitive stomach.

Final thoughts:
I hate it when a book ends on a cliffhanger.  When a story is well written I think you can leave an opening for more and still provide a satisfying ending.  Shame on you James Ponti for not trusting your readers more because this story left us hanging big time.

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

Friday, October 18, 2013

Click, Clack Boo for Picture Book Friday

It's Friday, which means more great Halloween Picture Books!  This week I decided to go with the new offering by Doreen Cronin, the author of the celebrated Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.  She has really built out her franchise of books and while her first book remains the best, this one is a solid offering in the holiday arena.

Don't forget to follow One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for tricky tales that will always delight!

Title:       Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat

Author:    Doreen Cronin

Target:     Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about:
As it turns out, Farmer Brown is not a fan of Halloween.  It's dark out and the noises scare him.  But when a note gets affixed to his door and he hears a quackle in the crisp night air, he just has to investigate.  Turns out the animals are having a Halloween party and there just may be a prize in it for him.

Why I love this book:
This is a cute story.  There are two parts that I think kids will really respond to.  First, the list of prizes will be a hit.  I mean, come on, who doesn't want to win the prize for the most candy eaten?  I have three contestants right under my own roof.  The other part is the quackle in the night air.  Up until then the noises have been more eerie and nerve tingling, but a quackle lightens the mood and provides comic relief!  I like that it catches kids off guard.

Who this book is for:
Most kids will enjoy this story.  It is creepy enough for Halloween fun, but not scary.  The text is concise and the repeating rhythm of words make the story flow nicely.

Final thoughts:
Wouldn't be surprised to find out an Xmas book was in the works!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Graphic Novels Your Kids Won't Put Down

It's time for new graphic novels!  This week I have some fun ones.  First off, the Nathan Hale series has a new addition which is just as good as the last two.  This guy doesn't miss a step.

Of course, Jeffrey Brown, author of the very cute Darth Vader and Son book has expanded his repetoire and ventured into the graphic novel/diary arena with Jedi Academy.  Nice to know that all that Star War's trivia your child has amassed will come in handy when they get caught up in this new series.

And in keeping with an intergalactic theme, there is a new graphic novel where Earthlings are the most feared creatures in the universe.  Ha!  I know my kids think I'm scary, but now apparently the universe knows it too!

I am aware that some parents worry about giving their kids graphic novels, but I am a firm believer that the only way your child will get better at reading is actually reading.  Kids enjoy these books and in the case of Nathan Hale, they present historical material that a child might consider boring, in a way that captures their attention and draws them into a significant moment in time.  Graphic novels are part of a "diet" of books that your kids should be consuming.  Believe it or not, as they gain confidence their appetitite for more challenging fare will increase, although we all still need a little comic relief from time to time!

Don't forget to "like" One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for more comics, I mean graphic novels, that will keep your child with a book in their hands.

Title:       Donner Dinner Party

Author:   Nathan Hale

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
As the name would imply, and I absolutely love the name, this is about the Donner Party.  The Donner Party was a group of families, traveling by wagon from Illinois, who set out in 1846 looking for new opportunities in California.  They decided to take an untested shortcut through Utah and Nevada, which left them trapped in the snow of the Sierra Nevada during the winter.  Lack of food and sickness caused many of them to parish, and the remaining pioneers had to eat the remains of their fallen family members to survive.

Why I love this book:
Nathan Hale does it again.  If you are unfamiliar with his other books, he is taking on famous events in American history and using a graphic novel format to make history come alive for kids.  In his other books, One Dead Spy and Big Bad Ironclad, he recounts the  story of the actual spy Nathan Hale in the Revolutionary War,  as well as the clash of the ironclads in the Civil War.

Hale’s use of humor, his ability to create unique and engaging characters and his clever graphics engage the reader making these retellings of famous events just wonderful.  While the Donner party could be a relatively gruesome tale, in Hale’s hands he treats it with understanding and tact (and just the right amount of humor.)

Who this book is for:
This book is great for kids who like history, but, I think it is also wonderful for kids who haven’t shown an interest in this area.  He makes history fun and memorable and for kids who just don’t get why this subject is so great, they may have a new appreciation for history after Nathan Hale’s books.

Final thoughts:
I can’t say enough good stuff about this series.  Especially for boys, it is a must read.

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       Star Wars: Jedi Academy

Author:   Jeffrey Brown

Target:    Grades 3-6

Series:     This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:
Roan has wanted to go to Pilot academy since as long as he can remember.  His dad is a pilot and his brother is training to be a pilot.  When his application is rejected and it is recommended that he go the Agricultural Academy, Roan is less than thrilled.  However he receives a last minute reprieve when Yoda (yes, that Yoda) requests that he become a Jedi.  Since he is the oldest “new” kid at Jedi Academy,  where most students begin when they are toddlers, he is a little behind.  But as he finds friends and his place, the Jedi Academy begins to feel more and more like home.

Why I love this book:
This is a fun book that uses a kid’s love of Star Wars to get them into a story that deals with failure, determination and friendship.   While this book certainly has funny moments (I caught my 6th grader laughing out loud several times) it is not a comic romp.  The book actually has more substance and given the author’s other two books, Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, I have to say I was surprised.  It did take a little while to adjust given my expectations.

Who this book is for:
Kids who love Star Wars will enjoy the clever references in the story.  I must admit that I probably missed quite a few as I am far from an aficionado!  I also think kids who like the format of Diary of Wimpy Kid will like this book.  The comic/notebook style of presenting the story will appeal to them.

Final thoughts:
You won’t have to “force” your kids to read this one.  My sad, pathetic attempt at Star War’s humor!

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: Star Wars: Jedi Academy  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Title:       Earthling

Author:   Mark Fearing

Target:    Grade 3-6

Series:     No

What this book is about:
When Bud moves to a new town and gets on the wrong school bus, his life is changed forever.  Turns out this bus goes to outer space, or more specifically the Cosmos Academy, where Earthlings are the most feared creatures in the universe.  But thanks to a new friend Gort, who helps him blend in, he manages to hide his true identify.  The only problem will be finding his way back home.

Why I love this book:
This book is just a lot of fun.  The full color graphics make it visually appealing and the pictures successfully move the story along, without being confusing.

There is an amazing amount included in this story.  This story has adventure, friendship, action and humor, as well as the invention of a new sport, Zero Ball.  Kids will immediately get caught up  in Bud’s situation, as he is a very relatable character.

Who this book is for:
Fun book for kids who like graphic novels.  Kids who liked Zita the Spacegirl will probably really enjoy this story.

Final thoughts:
A well done graphic novel which will really capture a child’s attention

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Monstore for Picture Book Friday

With Halloween on the way, I thought I would start the parade of monster/witch/spooky picture books. My husband hasn't retrieved my stash of Halloween books from the attic yet, so you will have to wait on our family favorites, but I thought I would share one this week that was just released.  This book is all fun, no fright!

Don't forget to like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for some frightfully wonderful selections of books.  You don't want to miss a week!

Title:       The Monstore

Author:   Tara Lazar

Target:    Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about:
Zach discovers the Monstore in the back of Frakensweet’s Candy Shoppe.  They sell monsters for every kind of need a kid could want: eating your mom’s no so appealing casserole, glowing in the dark for late night reading and getting rid of pesky sisters!  It is the last kinds that Zach is interested in.  However, once Zach gets his monster home, it turns out the monster would rather play with Zach’s sister Gracie than get rid of her.  Not to be deterred, Zach gets another monster, but the same thing happens.  Before he knows it, his house is full of monsters and his sister is bugging him more than ever.  What to do?

Why I love this book:
This book is all fun and the monsters are the delightfully entertaining kind, not the scary kind.  The illustrations are bold and bright and just add to the pleasure of this story.  

I also personally liked that Gracie was full of silly enjoyment.  While she loves surrounding herself with monsters, what really scares her in the end is a bright shiny tiara.  I like books that don’t stereotype girls.

Who this book is for:
Anyone who ever had a pesky little sister will truly enjoy this story.  Also kids who just like a fun read.

Final thoughts:
Don’t think a monster can solve all your problems!

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

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Engaging Book Series for Kids

This week I am looking at engaging series for kids.  These may not be on your radar, but they are clever, suspenseful and at times, quite funny.  In the case of Spy Camp, this is the second book in the series, for Bad Unicorn it is just the beginning of a new adventure and Atherton is complete, so your children can get some satisfaction!

Studies continue to show that kids who read for pleasure do better in all subjects, even math.  So get your kids hooked on a great book.  As their reading prowess grows, so will their comprehension in all subjects, across the board!  I hope this weeks books tickle their funny bone, and get them invested in some wonderful characters.

Don't forget to follow One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for a plethora of terrific series to get your kids excited about reading.  But I have to say, a carnivorous unicorn is not a character you should expect every week! I just want to manage expectations.

Title:       Spy Camp

Author:   Stuart Gibbs

Target:    Grade 4-8

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
This is a companion book to Gibbs' first book, Spy School.  In this installment, Ben Ripley has completed his first year at spy school and is off to summer camp for more training.  Ben remains sure he doesn’t belong at this select institution, but he continues to show how his basic smarts help the team at every turn.  He is being hunted by the villain organization SPYDER because they want to recruit him, and if he doesn’t join, the alternative is ... well death.  His guardian angel, a fellow student Erica, remains the super spy, figuring out all the things the adults should have.  Her father, the decorated but incompetent CIA operative, continues to bumble his way through saving Ben, while almost getting Ben killed at every turn!

Why I love this book:
This story is just so fun!  I loved the second installment just as much as the first.  Erica’s father is this wonderful parody of James Bond and Ben is so refreshing by showing that common sense rules the day.  

I think that books were the kids are more competent than the adults are empowering for kids.  Kids always know things would be better if they ran the operation, and this book just proves it.  This story has heart and humor (with a lot of action thrown in) which turns out to be a winning combination.

Who this book is for:
I think most kids will enjoy this story.  There is a lot of action, plenty of laughs and a nice cast of supporting characters.  While you don’t need to have read the first book, I think kids will enjoy the second installment more if they have read Spy School.

Final thoughts:
I just love it when the second book doesn’t disappoint.  Stuart Gibbs delivers again.  And I still think the covers on his books are absolutely terrific!

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

Title:       Bad Unicorn

Author:   Platte Clark

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     This is the first book in a planned trilogy

What this book is about:
This won’t be easy, but here goes .....  Imagine a universe in conjunction with ours where unicorns are real.  However, these unicorns are not the stuff of rainbows and pink clouds, they are in fact rather violent, with a specific taste for humans.  And by taste I do not mean they like to engage in meaningful dialogue with us, I mean actual yummy we are good to eat taste.  

It turns out that on earth, one of the dorkiest kids in school, Max is actually the descendant of a great wizard.  He posses a book which many creatures would like to own.  When Princess Unicorn is given the opportunity to locate Max and the book, more trouble ensues than anyone could have predicted.

Why I love this book:
This book was so clever and funny that it just blew me away.  There are several worlds and it goes between the future and present on a regular basis, but once kids get the gist of the story, it is not hard to follow.  

The writing is incredibly clever and there is one point in the story where it felt like the hunger games meets robo unicorn.  It had me both on the edge of my seat because of the suspense, and laughing at the tongue and cheek humor interspersed at exactly the right moments.

Also the characters are wonderfully written.  Max and his best buddy Dirk are priceless and add in their no nonsense friend Sarah who is versed in the art of war, and you have a crazy combination that just works.  

Who this book is for:
This book is for kids who like fantasy, edge of your seat action, and the absolute absurd.

Final thoughts:
A book where the nemesis is a carnivorous unicorn - you don’t read one of those every day.  I have also included the trailer for the book which is quite fun:

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

Title:       Atherton: The House of Power

Author:   Patrick Carman

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
Atherton is a world created in three layers, whose inhabitants are never allowed to interact.  The top layer, Highlands is were the power and water reside, the middle layer,  Tabletop is were the laborers work on the crops and tend to the animals, and the bottom layer,  Flatlands is a mysterious wasteland.  Our main character Edgar was told by a father he barely remembers, that something is hidden for him in the rocks between the Highlands and the Tabletop.  After years of climbing he finally finds the book meant for him, but he must venture to the forbidden Highlands because the citizens who reside there are the only ones who can read.  The book predicts amazing things about their world, and these things begin to come to pass as the story unfolds.

Why I love this book:
It took me about 40 pages to get into this book and then I was hooked.  Carman doles out information on a need to know basis, and he does not feel we need to know everything at once.  My curiosity was so peaked about what in the book meant for Edgar, and then I needed to know what was on the last page of the book, and then I had to know what the Flatlands were about .... well lets just say he kept toying with me, but the story was so well done that I enjoyed the ride.

The only thing that bothered me was that this is not a stand alone book, the ending sets you right up for the next one.  I like more satisfaction at the end of my novels.  But if you want to get kids hooked on a series, this works.

Who this book is for:
This is the perfect book for kids who liked City of Embers or The Maze Runner.  The idea of a world which is created, and the inhabitants have no idea what their past was, or why they are there is very intriguing.  It is great for kids who like sci-fi or distopian literature.  

Final thoughts:
Darn if I don’t have to read the next book now!

To purchase this book from Amazon, click on the following link: The House of Power (Atherton, Book 1): House of Power No. 1  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Thought I would share another Caldecott contender this week.  This book, in my opinion, is  a visual stunner, but I am a fan of more minimalist illustrations.  I can just see a Caldecott member flipping through this one and being enchanted by the story in pictures.  But I don't have a crystal ball, so as always I am guessing along with everyone else!  Now the fact that I am incredibly astute in my own mind, sadly plays no part in the decision.

Happy reading this week and don't forget to like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for books that take a walk on the wild side!

Oh, and if you want to check out my other contenders click on Building Our House or Matchbox Diary.  Both are beautiful books that have a shot at the shiny sticker.

Title:       Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Author:   Peter Brown

Target:    Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about:
Mr. Tiger is living a prim and proper life in the city.  While he fits in with all the other residents, he really isn’t very happy.  One day he decides to let nature take over and go a little wild.  He starts walking on all fours (gasp!) and wearing no clothes (egads!)  He goes to the wilderness where he fits in better, but none of his friends are there and he misses his home.  However, upon returning, he finds that even his friends have started to explore their wild side and they all feel better about just being themselves.

Why I love this book:
First off the illustrations are gorgeous.  Peter Brown has a distinct style and it is superbly fitted to this story.  You know the illustrations are good when the wordless pages say even more than the pages with text.

I like the message in the story.  Hey, we all feel constrained by our environment sometimes, and it is about finding the balance of when to be our wild selves and when to be a little more prim and proper based on our surroundings.  What teacher or parent doesn’t appreciate giving kids that lesson?

Who this book is for:
Fun book for all kids.

Final thoughts:
The illustrations really set this book apart.

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