Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sports Books for Kids Who Are Fans

I posted a great book this week on a soccer team that bucks the athletic trend at their school, and focuses on enjoying the sport and losing with humor.  My sports loving son adored it.

It made me realize that their are some wonderful books out there that deal with sports, but not actually playing the game.  They look at the traditions behind the sport, the statistics that drive the game or the mysteries and superstitions that affect players.

My son may not be the greatest athlete, so a book on team dynamics and perseverance are not quite up his alley, but a book that looks at the strategy used to win and appreciate a game are something he can't get enough of.

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Two Hot Dogs With Everything by Paul Haven 

If you have a child who is interested in baseball superstitions, and they believe that what they do and say on the couch at home watching the game will affect the outcome, then this is the book for you.  This book is for kids who love mysteries and baseball and perhaps are fans of the Cubs, because in this book the Sluggers are trying to break a curse that keeps them from winning it all.

Fantasy League by Mike Lupica 

This book really appealed to me and my son because it deals with a kid who is obsessed with his fantasy football league and picking players who others have undervalued.  My son is currently in the midst of fantasy football season so the timing couldn't have been better.  When the pros start to take his advice seriously, well things get interesting.  Great for kids obsessed with their fantasy teams or just football in general.

The Rookie Bookie by L. Jon Wertheim & Tobias J. Moskowitz 

Mitch may not play football, but he understands the game.  In an attempt to gain popularity at his sports obsessed school, he starts a betting ring, which lands him in hot water.  However, it also gives him a chance to use his knowledge of the game to help his own school team, which feels a whole lot more rewarding.

Strike Three, You're Dead by Josh Berk 

Lenny loves baseball, he just isn't particularly good at it.  However, he is an ardent Phillies fan and never misses a game.  When he wins the chance to help announce a Phillies game at the stadium, he is beside himself, that is until the pitcher keels over dead on the mound.  They say heart attack, but Lenny isn't so sure and he and his friends start investigating.

Losers Take All by David Klass

When seniors are required to play a sport at this sports obsessed school, Jack and his friends are not too pleased.  Their talents lie elsewhere and their high school doesn't seem to support their other interests.  So, they decide to start a C soccer team, enjoy each practice and lose with humor.  Their attitude catches on, much to the distaste of the school administration, but are they really ready for all the attention?

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Joy of Losing

Ok, so today I have a good one.  Sometimes I read a book and I just can't wait to post it and today is one of those days.  John Klassen has become a favorite author of mine. You know when I am willing to buy the latest book instead of waiting for the library to get it in, that it must be good.  I don't have much room in my house for new offerings, so an author has to be incredibly appealing for me to take a gamble and add it to the hundreds of volumes that line my bookshelves.

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Title: Losers Take All

Author: David Klass

Target: Grades 6 and up

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Jack goes to a high school that is fixated on sports.  The football team reigns supreme and Jack actually comes from a long line of illustrious high school players.  He, however, has never been particularly interested in sports.  When the new principal mandates that all seniors must play a sport to graduate, Jack and some friends create the C soccer team where they can loose with humor, but the school administration isn’t laughing.  Somehow, this looser team becomes the toast of the school and Jack isn’t sure they can handle all the attention.

Why I love this book: 
I adored the author’s last book Grandmaster, and this one did not disappoint.  It is full of humor and laugh out loud moments, but it also takes a serious look at the culture of sports in high school.  I liked that Jack comes from a family of athletes, and he is not against sports.  He and his father help provide a balance to the atmosphere, with other characters on the extremes.  

The secondary characters in the story were strong, and what could have simply been a funny book about sports became much more substantial with conflicts at home and clashes with the administration.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who both love sports and kids who see themselves on the outside of this culture.  There is something for everyone.

Final thoughts: 
Can’t wait for the next offering by this author, nor can my son!

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Eight Books to Read After Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Ok, it is time to tackle what your kids should read after Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Big Nate.  I know that many of your children reread these books an unmeasurable number of times and you worry that they aren't getting exposed to anything new.  Don't worry! They see themselves as readers, and that is a very good thing.  They won't be reading these in high school .... I promise!

Today I have a list of books that resemble the Jeff Kinney masterpieces and will get your kids thinking that maybe, just maybe there are other books out there that they should try.  Worth a look, don't you think?

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Planet Tad by Tim Carvell (Author), Doug Holgate (Illustrator)

Kids will love getting to know Tad, a seventh grader who writes a blog about his daily happenings.  The author is a writer for the Daily Show which makes this book so intelligently funny that everyday mishaps will leave kids in stitches.  I have never given this to a child who hasn't wanted more.

My Life as a Book (The My Life series) by Janet Tashjian (Author), Jake Tashjian (Illustrator)

This series written by a mother/son duo has really grown on me.  Jake is a reluctant reader and he uses illustrations to help him remember challenging vocabulary words.  Jake can be a difficult kid, but he is kind and funny and kids will really be able to relate to his antics.  Large type and illustrations throughout the margins make this a hit with Wimpy Kid readers.

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading (Charlie Joe Jackson Series) by Tommy Greenwald

This series is one of my favorites and is written by the father of three boys, so he gets it!  Charlie Joe has a goal of getting through the school year without reading a book, but don't worry, the moral of the story is of course that simply reading the books would have been easier and more enjoyable in the end.  Kids have to read the book to see how Charlie Joe meets his goal, an irony not lost on parents!

Stick Dog by Tom Watson 

This book is for the younger set, and features a lovable dog who helps lead his pack of hilarious strays that include Mutt, Poo Poo, Karen and Stripes.  They are on the search for the perfect hamburger and their methods occasionally get a little out of hand!

The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey

This new series has a lot to love.  First off I really appreciate that the story has both a strong girl and boy character.  The format of the book includes text messages and photographs so it is a wonderful story for kids who are intimidated by more traditional text.  It is also laugh out loud funny, which goes a long way!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger 

Since this series has completed it's run I wanted to make sure to include it.  Sometimes when there are no new books to promote, a series stops being top of mind, and this one is too good to be forgotten.  Sixth grade isn't easy, so when a Yoda finger puppet starts dispensing invaluable advice to kids, some want to find out if they are truly magically wise premonitions or just a classmate talking in a funny voice.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis 

I had to include this book because it is so reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbs, with a 1500 pound polar bear that is imaginary, or is it?  Timmy Failure is the bumbling fool who misses every clue in this book centered around a detective agency, which will delight older kids.  The humor is a little more sophisticated than Diary of a Wimpy and the story a bit more poignant.

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka by Jon Scieszka 

This book is the only one were I almost peed in my pants.  Instead of carefully crafted tales of fiction, this book is based on the author's actual childhood and includes hilarious anecdotes and pictures of growing up  There are times when real life is funny and more touching than anything someone could make up and this book is it.  Give it to your child or read it as a family and laugh your tushy off together!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Books to Read After Percy Jackson

With the holidays upon us, I thought I would put together more book lists to help with the dreaded shopping!  Today I am focusing on a topic which has come up endlessly of late.  I can't begin to count the number of parents who ask me what their kids should read after Percy Jackson!

I have some great ideas for you that include some wonderful stories.  Try them out and see which ones stick.  I do have to warn you that books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter really are one of a kind. While I can give you books that will tap into the adventure components and sense of fantasy, they will never be the phenomenon of these new classics.  But I do promise that your kids will find a new series to love!

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The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1 (Ranger's Apprentice) by John A. Flanagan

This is a fantasy series where our hero Will becomes an apprentice to the Rangers, a secret group that is working to protect the kingdom.  There is plenty of action and the training to join this secret society will fascinate kids.  With thirteen books in the series, this one will keep your kids occupied for a long time!

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (Author), Hugh D'Andrade (Illustrator)

This book is a little less traditional in the action adventure genre, but brings in many of the stories and fairytales with which kids are familiar.  However, this is not the sanitized version of these stories they may have read, but the actual dark and foreboding tales that Grimm intended.  The wonderful part of these books are the humor injected by a very sarcastic and acerbic narrator that will have children laughing from the very start.  You will never look at Hansel and Gretel in quite the same way again.

Gregor The Overlander (Underland Chronicles, Book 1) by Suzanne Collins 

This is the first series written by the Hunger Games author and follows Gregor into an underground world filled with humans and animals who are fighting for power.  Gregor has a key role to play in this conflict and befriends cockroaches and rats.  Sure to be hit with those less squeamish about rodents!

Jinx by Sage Blackwood 

I fell in love with this series from the first book.  Jinx is so likable and of course who can't root for the poor misunderstood orphan who seems like a burden but turns out to have more talent and personality than anyone could have imagined.  As an apprentice to a wizard,  Jinx is discovering his own power and is having trouble divining the intentions of the others around him.  Are they good or bad?  Kids will be completely caught up in this well crafted adventure.

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull 

Can you imagine a candy store where the confections give you superpowers?  Sounds fabulous, but the payment for these treats are chores that may have evil results.  What is a kid to do?  This trilogy has kids facing some ethical choices and standing together against the bad guys.  There is also plenty of candy and video games making this a winning series.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Of course no list would be complete without the latest book by Rick Riordan.  This time he is tackling the Norse Gods and this Norwegian couldn't be more excited.  It is quite time that Thor, Odin, Loki, Frey and yes, Freya, got their day.  This book has all the humor and excitement of Percy Jackson and is sure to be a hit with any fan.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Gift Books for Kids

Now many of you will be getting your kids books for the holidays.  Yipee!  If there is a sequel to their favorite series or there is a new release they have been coveting, it is a wonderful gift.

But sometimes you just want to give a gift book and you may not be sure what the recipient enjoys.  This is when it is time to bring out the impressive kid gift books.  These books are larger in size, stunning in illustrations and look quite substantial when sitting under the tree.  A nice way to bridge the gap between a cool present and, let's face it, a book which rarely gets the "ooh" "ah" factor it deserves!

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Guinness World Records 2016

This is the one book that will be manhandled over and over again.  Between the outrageous and sometimes weird photos, the litany of records and the ability to pour over it for hours your kids cannot help but be drawn to this one.

Guinness World Records 2016 Gamer's Edition

Of course no collection would be complete without the Gamer's Edition.  This one has a whole section on Minecraft for the obsessed, and gives kids records in their own game playing to aspire to.   Just like the original but with video games ... how can the holidays get any better?

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Anna Bond

This version of the classic story has just been released for the 150 year anniversary and the illustrations by Anna Bond are gorgeous and whimsical.  I dare any child not to fall in love with this new version.

The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A with 50 fact-filled maps! by Gabrielle Balkan and Sol Linero 

For any child obsessed with maps or geography, this book is a colorful and delightful gift that shares plenty of facts and trivia to keep a kid occupied for hours.  I love having these books around as questions come up about places where our family resides or where we plan on going on vacation and we can quickly pull out these guides.  We reference these on a regular basis and this one is easy to navigate and incredibly appealing.  If you are giving this to someone who lives far away, why not bookmark your own town?

Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec (Illustrator)

This fun French import recently arrived stateside.  Kids will initially be drawn to the horizontal story but the fun is guessing which character "forgot their swimsuit?" or other fun and giggle inducing questions.  They must search for clues in the stance and expression of the characters which will hone their keen eye for detail.  C'est bien, n'est pas?

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan (Author), John Rocco  (Illustrator)

Of course no list would be complete without the latest book of Greek Heroes as narrated by Percy Jackson.  If you are looking for a book that is big. heavy, impressive and funny this is your ticket.  For any fan of the Greek Myths, this will be a can't put down read and the illustrations by John Rocco are breathtaking. 

The Puffin in Bloom Collection

This collection features Anne of Green GablesHeidiLittle Women, and A Little Princess and uses the same illustrator, Anna Bond, as the Alice in Wonderland edition above.  I am a bit obsessed with these reproductions by Riffle Paper Co, but they are so impressive that any girl in your life will pour over the beautiful and alluring cover designs and be enchanted.

Star Wars The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight by Tony DiTerlizzi  (Author), Ralph McQuarrie (Illustrator)

I haven't forgotten that this is the year for Star Wars.  This picture book is for the young in age, but the gorgeous illustrations by Ralph McQuarrie, the original concept artist who worked with George Lucas, makes it for the young at heart as well.  The artwork selected really shines in this book and any parent wanting to share the beginnings of the Star War's Saga with their kids will enjoy it just as much as their children.  Important when you are rereading a picture book for the umpteenth time!

Asterix and The Missing Scroll (At Home with) by Jean-Yves Ferri (Author), Didier Conrad (Illustrator)

Ok, having gone to a French school, I had to include the new Asterix.  If you are shopping for kids who love comics, good guffaws and history, Asterix is just the thing.  A new writing and illustrating team has taken over the brand and this is the second of their new releases.  Get some new readers invested in this Gallic duo!