Tuesday, July 22, 2014

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Comics Squad Recess


ABOUT THE BOOK

A bust-your-gut-laughing graphic-novel anthology with original contributions from the most beloved names in the genre! * Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm * Jarrett J. Krosoczka * Dav Pilkey * Dan Santat * Raina Telgemeier * Dave Roman * Ursula Vernon * Eric Wight * Gene Yang *
 
Wowza! Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing till milk comes out of your nose?! Look no further—do we have the book for you! All your favorite comic creators are right here in this handy-dandy hilarious book! This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—RECESS! With popular characters from Babymouse and Lunch Lady and brand-new soon-to-be favorite characters from superstars including Dav Pilkey! Raina Telgemeier! Gene Yang! and many more!Comics Squad also features Pizza Monsters! Secret ninja clubs! Aliens! Talking desserts! Dinozilla! Death-defying escapes! Bad guys! Good guys! Medium guys! Superheroes! Bullies! Mean girls! Epic battles! True love! Outlandish schemes! Evil plans! Fun! Jokes! Terrible puns! And other surprises that will tickle your funny bone! WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS. No assembly required. (Pizzatron 2000 not included.)


REVIEW

A delightful compilation of short comic stories by some of the biggest names in children's graphic novels today, Recess is a must have for kids who enjoy the genre. When I heard about this book and the people involved with it, it seemed like such a natural idea.  I mean recess is a topic that all kids love and these authors/illustrators do such a great job with their works. I was eager to see the end result.  I was not disappointed in the least.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of the stories and children undoubtedly will as well. Here's a bit more information about each of the stories in the book:

  • Gene Yang: Daryl wants to join the recess Super-Secret Ninja Club, but can he develop the skills over the winter holidays that will allow him to be accepted?
  • Dav Pilkey: Can the Dogman save books and reading from the nefarious plots of Petey the cat who desires to make the world stupid by destroying reading?
  • Jarrett Krosoczka: Can Betty survive Pizza Day with Lunch Lady home sick? Perhaps with the help of the Pizzatron 2000 or maybe not.
  • Ursula Vernon: Scratch the squirrel reluctantly follows his friend Squeak to what Squeak claims is a magic acorn.  After being wrong over 300 times, Squeak can't possibly be right, can he?
  • Jennifer Holm & Matthew Holm: Can Babymouse find a way to follow the rules and make it out to recess before the week is over?
  • Eric Wight: Can Jiminy Sprinkles (a cupcake) make friends at his new school? Especially with the green vegetables who go out of their way to be mean to everyone else? Maybe with a new kind of recess game.
  • Dan Santat: Eddie has forgotten a school assignment and wants to find someone's homework to copy. Will Sophie be willing, even after he puked on her during the class play? 
  • Dave Roman & Raina Telgemeier: Sonja and Josh are eager for a kickball rematch but the rain forces them to stay inside with the rainy day monitor, who just may prove to more than a 'boring' babysitter.
A fun collection that kids are sure to love.  I look forward to future collections.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BLOG TOUR SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: The Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan


ABOUT THE BOOK

In The Fog of Forgetting, the beginning of a new adventure-fantasy trilogy, five children wash up on the shores of an foreign land, unwitting agents of destiny in a realm struggling to withstand a force that could change their world -- and ours -- forever.

Move over, Narnia. The journey to Ayda has begun. 

Sneaking out for a quick boat ride on a summer day, five children find themselves engulfed in a curtain of dense, powerful fog that transports them from the rocky Maine coast to the mysterious island of Ayda. Rescued by Seaborne, a machete-toting wayfarer of few words, the children suddenly find themselves at the center of a centuries-old battle between Dankar, the ruler of Exor, and three siblings that rule the other realms of Ayda. At stake are the four stones of power and the elusive Fifth Stone that binds them all.

When 9-year-old Frankie is kidnapped by Dankar, her older sister Evelyn and the three Thompson brothers must learn to harness the powers of the daylights, ancient forces of earth, fire, water, and air, to navigate their way through the realms of Ayda, rescue her, and find a way home.

G.A. Morgan is a powerful new voice in the young adult adventure-fantasy genre, telling a story full of myth and mystery, action and peril. In Ayda, she has created a land rich with history and steeped in lore, one that exists not just in imagination but unnervingly, realistically, parallel to ours.


THE FOG OF FORGETTING will appeal to a wide audience from middle grade to YA readers who love action, adventure, and intrigue. And although you’ll forget time while reading this novel, the story reminds us that family is one thing that can never be forgotten.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

G. A. Morgan spent all of her childhood summers on an island in Maine, where she discovered that many secrets lie deep in the fog. She was formerly the managing editor of Chronicle Books before moving to Portland, Maine, where she has written for a variety of editorial and commercial clients, including LL Bean, Thos. Moser, Hay House Publishers, and Bon Appetit and Maine magazines. She has written several illustrated nonfiction works under her full name, Genevieve Morgan, and is the author of a recent non-fiction book for teens called Undecided: A Guide to Navigating Life after High School (Zest Books/2014). She is currently working on Chantarelle, Book 2 of The Five Stones Trilogy, which will be available Summer 2015.


Add The Fog of Forgetting on Goodreads.


BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY



"Collect all four stones and seek the fifth."

1 Metria Stone

US Only

To enter visit this page. (Sorry, I can't copy the HTML on my page for some reason).

To enter giveaways for the other three stones visit the following blogs:

Books & Cleverness
The Scenic Life
On Starships and Dragonwings


Monday, July 14, 2014

MMGM: My Explosive Diary by Emily Gale


ABOUT THE BOOK

Meet Eliza Boom; assistant inventor, junior spy, and full-on fantastic; as she tells all in this first book of a chapter book series packed with jokes, doodles, and dear-diary secrets!

Eliza Boom is having a blast. Her father is an inventor who makes gadgets for spies, and Eliza is his unofficial assistant; very unofficial.

Eliza knows if she can just build that one indispensable thing that every secret agent needs, she can be a full-fledged spy herself, but somehow her inventions keep going wrong. Still, with her best friend (well, dog), Einstein, she's not going to give up.

When Eliza's father loses a top-secret roll of film, Eliza realizes that she might have accidentally given it to class bully Zoe Wakefield, the Queen of Mean. Eliza's got to retrieve the film, which Zoe is using as a hair bow, before enemy spies get to it. Luckily she's got Einstein as well as her own brand-new assistant (and friend), Amy, to help her.

Can these three would-be 007s get the film, stop the spies, and get revenge on the class bully? There's only one way to find out; and that's to read Eliza's diary!

REVIEW

I can't say that I really loved this book, but I can see young middle graders enjoying the silliness, especially if they aren't quite ready for Dork Diaries or Ellie McDoodle.  The numerous illustrations are vital to the story making this a graphic novel in my book. And graphic novels are really popular these days.

I did like some things about the book, the fact that Eliza is an inventor, for example.  We need more books with girls doing science and math related activities.  Eliza's persistence in inventing even when most of her inventions don't work right is admirable if a bit destructive.  The bully is quite irritating which she's supposed to be while Amy, Eliza's new friend provides a nice touch.

The whole spy aspect is absurd but I don't see it bothering the target audience, especially since the story is about a real little girl saving the day, not with superpowers but with her brains and courage.  A fun, light read perfect for younger readers and reluctant readers.

NONFICTION MONDAY: A World of Her Own by Michael Elsohn Ross


ABOUT THE BOOK

An inspiration for any young person who loves the outdoors, wildlife, or science, A World of Her Own tells the stories of 24 brave women from different cultures, epochs, and economic backgrounds who have shared similar missions: to meet the physical and mental challenges of exploring the natural world, to protect the environment and native cultures, and to leave a mark in the name of discovery. Among the many bold women profiled are Rosaly Lopes, who worked for NASA and discovered 71 volcanoes on one of Jupiter’s moons; Helen Thayer, the first woman to walk and ski the Magnetic North Pole accompanied by only her dog; Kay Cottee, the first woman to successfully sail nonstop around the world completely unassisted; and Anna Smith Peck, who set the record for the highest climb in the Western Hemisphere at the age of 58. These and other engaging profiles, based on both historical research and firsthand interviews, stress how childhood passions and interests, perseverance, and courage led these women to overcome challenges and break barriers to achieve great success in their adventurous pursuits and careers. A bibliography and annotated list of exploration resources and organizations make this an invaluable resource for young explorers, parents, and teachers alike.

REVIEW

A fascinating account of the lives of 24 women who worked hard to achieve their dreams despite the challenges they faced.  Basically this is a collection of 24 short biographies.  The amount of text makes these most appropriate for advanced high school readers who like stories about real people.  It's thanks to women like these that a lot of opportunities have opened up for women in many different fields.  These stories focus on women as explorers and adventurers.  To be honest, I would have a hard time doing what these ladies did, but I can admire them for their dedication and determination. This book would be great for reports as well as general interest.  More photographs and fewer editorial mistakes would have been nice but I still really enjoyed reading about the remarkable accomplishments of these ladies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Birds


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ABOUT THE BOOK

A great way to help children understand the diversity of the natural world, World of Birds combines the delightful and spot-on illustrations of Kim Kurki with the expertise of the National Wildlife Federation.

REVIEW

A beautifully illustrated guide to birds that is perfect for budding ornithologists. While the book contains illustrations rather than photographs, the illustrations are detailed enough to help identify the different types of birds. The book is organized by habitat; fields, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts.  I liked this organization because if a reader knows what to look for in a particular location.  The author/illustration focuses on some of the most common birds and bird types.  She covers the major points of interest about each bird including: coloring and size (including male and female differences), habitats found in, feeding and nesting habits as well as unusual or especially interesting facts.  For example, cardinals are known to sing at any time of year not just in the spring like most birds. Similarities and differences between related species are also explored.  The book is beautifully designed and highly appealing.  I did find a couple of minor errors but nothing major.  A book well worth buying for the young bird-lover.


ABOUT THE BOOK

A delightful exploration of the incredibly variety of nests birds build for their babies, illustrated by a Caldecott Honoree.

Mama built a little nest
inside a sturdy trunk.
She used her beak to tap-tap-tap
the perfect place to bunk.


There are so many different kinds of birds; and those birds build so many different kinds of nests to keep their babies cozy. With playful, bouncy rhyme, Jennifer Ward explores nests large and small, silky and cottony, muddy and twiggy; and all the birds that call them home!

REVIEW

A beautifully written and illustrated book that is well suited to reading out loud.  Not only is the book quite informative about birds and the different types of nests they build but the poetry flows in a pleasing way. Each page explores a different type of bird and a different type of nest with a short poem and a brief explanation of the type of nest. The information is intriguing, I had no idea there were so many different types of nests.  I think my favorite was the hummingbird nest that is tiny, but built with spider webbing so the nest will stretch as the nestlings grow.  Jenkin's illustrations are amazing as they always are, the details in the nests and birds made for great enjoyment on my part.  A winner all the way around.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Above the treetops of Puerto Rico flies a flock of parrots as green as their island home. . . . These are Puerto Rican parrots. They lived on this island for millions of years, and then they nearly vanished from the earth forever. 

Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future. Woven into the parrots’ story is a brief history of Puerto Rico itself, from before the first human settlers to the present day. 

With striking collage illustrations, a unique format, and engaging storytelling, PARROTS OVER PUERTO RICO invites readers to witness the amazing recovery efforts that have enabled Puerto Rican parrots to fly over their island once again.


REVIEW

It's not hard to see why this book has won several awards.  Not only are the illustrations beautifully done, but the text is very readable and informative.  Cut-paper collage is a form of illustration that amazes me.  The incredible detail and color that Roth uses in this book is awe-inspiring.  A great example of what picture book nonfiction should be.  The story is also one that needs to be told as it demonstrates the effect that people have on their environment for both good and ill.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

National Geographic Kids Chapters


ABOUT THE BOOK

Based on the hit feature in National Geographic Kids magazine, we bring you Lucky Leopards, true and inspiring stories of daring animal rescues that will engage and enchant readers of all ages. Packed with full-color photography, and written in fun and lively prose that empowers readers to keep turning pages, these heart-warming stories will leave kids hungry for more of the animal "awwww" factor.

National Geographic Kids Chapters picks up where the best-selling National Geographic Readers series leaves off. This new series offers young animal lovers, who are ready for short chapters with lively, true stories just right to carry in a backpack, share with friends, and read under the covers at night.

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit www.natgeoed.org/commoncore for more information.


ABOUT THE BOOK

National Geographic Kids Chapters picks up where the best-selling National Geographic Readers series leaves off. This new series offers young animal lovers who are ready for short chapters lively, full-color true stories just right to carry in a backpack, share with friends, and read under the covers at night. Based on the hit feature in National Geographic Kids magazine, we bring you Animal Adventures! Featuring three amazing stories of explorer Brian Skerry and his incredible encounters with animals, written in fun and lively prose that empowers readers to devour page after page.

REVIEW

Some children love to read but only want to read nonfiction.  A lot of the nonfiction books in my school library are picture book length and while they are great, especially for reluctant readers, they don't always meet the needs of developing readers.  So this nonfiction chapter book series is a great addition and one I plan to add to my library.  Many children have a natural interest in animals and this series addresses that interest.  I also really like the appealing design, gorgeous photographs, and the introduction to people who actively help or work with animals.

Lucky Leopards focuses on efforts to rescue injured or lost animals.There are three stories contained in the book, one about two clouded leopard cubs taken from their mother by someone looking to make money from them, one about a stranded turtle, and one about a loon tangled in fishing line. The stories are interesting and informative with sidebars that explain more about the animals and their current environmental status.  I appreciate how they show the difference that can be made in the lives of these animals.  The book is colorful with a child-friendly design.  The book includes an index, additional resources, and difficult word pronunciations.

The Whale Who Won Hearts presents the adventures of an underwater photographer.  Despite being written for children, I found the stories fascinating and really interesting.  Each story highlights the benefits and challenges that are a part of being a wildlife photographer, especially an underwater one.  I appreciated the descriptions of the different animals and what it was like to be around them.  The stories included are about harp seals and their babies as well as the challenges of taking photos in ice cold water; trying to locate and take pictures of a wild leatherback turtle; the befriending of a beluga whale, and the adventure of swimming on a untouched-by-human-hands coral reef.

Monday, June 30, 2014

MMGM: Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills


ABOUT THE BOOK

Kelsey Kline is the best reader in the third grade--well, maybe tied for best with know-it-all Simon Ellis. When the principal Mr. Boone announces  a school-wide reading contest, complete with a pizza party for the winning class and a special certificate for the top readers in each grade, she knows she's just the person to lead Mrs. Molina's third graders to victory. But how can they win when her classmate Cody Harmon doesn't want to read anything, and even Kelsey's best friends Annika and Izzy don't live up to her expectations? And could Simon possibly be reading all of those books that he claims he is, or is he lying to steal Kelsey's rightful spot at the top?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claudia Mills is the acclaimed author of fifty early-chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, and Zero Tolerance. Claudia was a professor of philosophy for over twenty years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received many teaching awards, before leaving the university to write full time. She has two sons. To learn more, visit her website at claudiamillsauthor.com.

REVIEW

A cute read about a young girl who loves to read and wants to win a reading contest. Kelsey reminds me a lot of myself at her age, spending most of her free time reading.  But she also had two good friends, Annika and Izzy.  But neither of Kelsey's friends love reading the way she does.  In fact they have other interests, Annika loves math and Izzy loves running.  Kelsey is determined to win the reading contest by helping her classmates read more and by determining if her main rival Simon is cheating or not.

Kelsey presents as a likable, cute girl with a strong competitive streak.  She works hard to read books that qualify for the contest but don't really challenge her.  She recruits her friends to help her determine if Simon really is reading all the books he says he is and they come up with a plan to find out. The story feels realistic with a teacher that's very focused on her job and a jolly principal who has volunteered to shave his beard if the school meets its reading goal. 

The book mentions a lot of really great books that would be great for children to check out and the emphasis on the delights of reading is a great theme.

This series is likely to appeal to readers who like Judy Moody, Clementine, and Ivy & Bean. Personally, I found it a bit irritating that Kelsey assumed Simon was cheating because he was beating her in the contest. Also, the principal's bouncing into the classroom during prime teaching time also bugged me, probably since I'm a teacher myself and teachers need every minute they can get without interruption. However, it's very possible that there are principals out there like that.  Neither of these things are likely to bother a child reader.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Annika Riz loves math more than anything. She's trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. She's determined to beat fellow math whiz Simon Ellis in a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets. But Annika's best friends Kelsey and Izzy think math is boring. All they care about is the upcoming school carnival: their principal is going to be dunked in a dunking tank and their class is going to have a booth selling home-baked cookies. But then disaster foils the friends' cookie-baking plans. Can math save the day?

REVIEW

The Franklin School Friends series focuses on the friendships between three girls, Kelsey, Annika, and Izzy. The first book focuses on Kelsey and her love of reading, the second book, which I'm reviewing here focuses on Annika and her love of math, and the third book, will be about Izzy and her love of running.

Annika loves math and doesn't understand why others have such a hard time with it.  When her teacher tells her about a sudoku contest she eagerly starts preparing to face the other third graders in the area.  Simon, a boy in her class who is seemingly good at everything, is her special nemesis.  In addition, Annika's class is getting reading to host a cookie booth at the upcoming PTA fundraising carnival.  But despite their best efforts, the cookies don't turn out quite right and they end up trying lemonade instead.  Can Annika's math skills help her class? Can her love of math shine through in the contest?

Another cute book by Mills that highlights the value of math and the fact that kids can be friends even with different interests.  I especially liked how Annika's math skills saved the day. A fun read for children who like  realistic stories with determined main characters.

Check out the downloadable curriculum guide for the Franklin School Friends here!

NONFICTION MONDAY: More Civil Rights Books


ABOUT THE BOOK

This book tells a group of intertwining stories that culminate in the historic 1947 collision of the Superman Radio Show and the Ku Klux Klan. It is the story of the two Cleveland teenagers who invented Superman as a defender of the little guy and the New York wheeler-dealers who made him a major media force. It is the story Ku Klux Klan's development from a club to a huge money-making machine powered by the powers of fear and hate and of the folklorist who--along with many other activists-- took on the Klan by wielding the power of words. Above all, it tells the story of Superman himself--a modern mythical hero and an embodiment of the cultural reality of his times--from the Great Depression to the present.

REVIEW

I found this a very readable, fascinating account of the creation of Superman and how this fictional superhero was used to fight the Ku Klux Klan.  I've heard the story of Superman's creation before but not in as complete a fashion as is explained here.  It's an interesting story about two Jewish teenagers growing up during the Great Depression who desperately wanted to join the comics industry.  But neither could ever imagine their creation becoming the phenomenon it did.  Unfortunately for them, they turned the copyright over to DC Comics (normal procedure at the time) and as a result didn't receive the benefits they should have. But Superman has throughout his history provided not only entertainment but the idea that good can defeat evil, even the real thing.

The Ku Klux Klan may not have started out as an organization of evil but it certainly became one.  What I didn't know was that it petered out after their extreme acts of violence got out of control.  Reading about the deliberate reincarnation of the organization was a bit sickening, but ironically it seems that the people responsible for its recreation were more interested in money than ideology. Unfortunately, many of those who joined the organization did fully buy into the hate and fear that the organization encouraged and often acted on it, violently.

Seeing these two stories come full circle when the Superman radio show decided to have Superman face an organization that clearly represented the KKK.  This book represents the impact that even a fictional character can have on the history of a nation.  The power of propaganda for good or evil can easily be seen in this story, a story that happens to be true. A great example of the kind of history book that children will want to pick up and read.  There is however a lot of text here, more photos and extras would have been nice.  But the story is compelling enough to make up for that, but reluctant readers will be put off by the amount of text.  A great read though for more advanced readers.



The True Story of the Spy Network That Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement
by Rick Bowers
National Geographic Children's Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0595-5
MG/YA Nonfiction (History)
Grades 7 and up
Source: purchased
All opinions expressed are solely my own.


ABOUT THE BOOK

 The Spies of Mississippi is a compelling story of how state spies tried to block voting rights for African Americans during the Civil Rights era. This book sheds new light on one of the most momentous periods in American history.

Author Rick Bowers has combed through primary-source materials and interviewed surviving activists named in once-secret files, as well as the writings and oral histories of Mississippi civil rights leaders. Readers get first-hand accounts of how neighbors spied on neighbors, teachers spied on students, ministers spied on church-goers, and spies even spied on spies.

The Spies of Mississippi will inspire readers with the stories of the brave citizens who overcame the forces of white supremacy to usher in a new era of hope and freedom—an age that has recently culminated in the election of Barack Obama.

REVIEW

Fear and hate, two of the most dangerous weapons on the planet.  And boy did the segregationists use them to manipulate the public. Segregationists in Mississippi were so determined to undermine the civil rights movement and the legal decisions that were increasingly turning against them that they set up the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission to combat it.  They recruited spies to check on civil rights workers and anyone they considered a threat.  Generally they tried to use more subtle methods to stop the movement, things such as manipulating jobs, white supremacist organizations, etc.  All to undermine and stop integration.

Bowers shares the stories of men who worked for both sides, those who worked against integration and those who worked for it.  Some of these stories were encouraging and some of them were sad.  It just bothered me what these men were willing to do to preserve their way of life, no matter how distorted.  A powerful example of how much some people hate change and yet how impossible to avoid.   

This is an important book about the dangers of too much power in the hands of a few and how easily it can be misused.  It's also an important book about the courage of individuals in making a difference despite the sacrifices that are sometimes required.


ABOUT THE BOOK

February 21, 1965. Controversial civil rights leader Malcolm X is gunned down during a speech in Manhattan. Few were shocked by the news of Malcolm X's death. Since 1952 the former member of the Nation of Islam had supported the Nation's philosophy of violence as the method to achieve justice for blacks in the United States. But in March 1964, after a major shift in his philosophy, Malcolm changed his message. He no longer agreed with the Nation of Islam and feuded with its leaders. The 39-year-old was shot in public at point-blank range. The news devastated Malcolm's followers. But other people reacted to his death with relief. Three men were found guilty of the murder. But rumors of conspiracy and cover-up still swirl. In this chronicle of an assassination, find out the answers to these questions and learn more about the impact of Malcolm X's life, and his death, on civil rights in the United States.

REVIEW

I've long had mixed feelings about Malcolm X. On the one hand, the man had a great passion for his cause and he expressed himself powerfully.  But on the other hand, his long expressed ideas about hate for whites and the use of violence to achieve black rights I don't agree with at all.  Yet I learned some really interesting things reading this book.  The information about Malcolm's background caused me to empathize with tragedies of his life. His father's death when he was six, watching his home burn at age four, having his mother committed to an asylum when he was 13 and of course the constant bigotry he faced because he was black.  It wasn't hard to see what lead Malcolm to hate whites and why the Nation of Islam appealed so much to him while he was in prison.

The irony in all this is that after spending so many years working for and promoting Nation of Islam, his own ideas and passion led him away from it.  A pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia changed some of Malcolm's extremist views and pointed him toward greater cooperation with the mainstream civil rights movement.  This infuriated Malcolm's former allies with the Nation of Islam.  He himself expected to be targeted and he was right.  The book explains what is known about the circumstances surrounding the assassination including the questions that remain.  While many suspected the Nation of Islam of being behind it, it was never proven.

What I found so sad was that if greater precautions had been taken, it might have been postponed or not occurred at all.  A well put-together book about a controversial figure from history who left his mark on the world.  The book is beautifully designed with quotes, photographs, a glossary, index, and brief biographies of some of the major players.

Check out other great nonfiction reads at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GRAPHIC NOVELS: Delilah Dirk, Lunch Lady, & Nathan Hale (Isn't he dead already?)

I've been on a graphic novel kick lately, here is the first of several posts to come specifically on graphic novels.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lovable ne'er-do-well Delilah Dirk has travelled to Japan, Indonesia, France, and even the New World. Using the skills she's picked up on the way, Delilah's adventures continue as she plots to rob a rich and corrupt Sultan in Constantinople. With the aid of her flying boat and her newfound friend, Selim, she evades the Sultan's guards, leaves angry pirates in the dust, and fights her way through the countryside. For Delilah, one adventure leads to the next in this thrilling and funny installment in her exciting life.

A little bit Tintin, a little bit Indiana Jones, Delilah Dirk is a great pick for any reader looking for a smart and foolhardy heroine...and globetrotting adventures.

REVIEW

Delilah Dirk finds trouble wherever she goes, often deliberately seeking it out.  Selim's life as a palace guard in Constantinople changes forever after he meets Delilah.  Forced to flee in order to save his neck, Selim finds himself blasting from one adventure to another without a chance to catch his breath.  Once he finally has a chance to stop and think, he wonders what he really wants out of life.

With lots of action mixed with a good dose of humor, Delilah Dirk was a very enjoyable read.  This is sure to be a popular graphic novel in many middle schools and high schools.  I found myself delighted with this book.  The only problem I had with it was that Delilah's outfit has a hole in the front that shows more of her chest than I'm comfortable with.  Why do so many graphic novels/comic books do this to women? Make them seem more of an object than a person?  However, Delilah's character and fighting prowess mostly make up for that, but that is the reason I can't recommend it for a younger age. There is nothing else inappropriate in the book though except a lot of fighting.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lunch Lady and Betty have been unceremoniously cut from the school budget, and the timing couldn't be worse—the villains from all nine of her previous adventures are worming their way back into Thompson Brook with a masterfully devious plan. Will the Breakfast Bunch still be able to count on Lunch Lady's superhero gadgets and abilities to save the school, or are they on their own? Don't miss Lunch Lady's swashbuckling finale!

REVIEW

I'm sorry to say that this is the last in the fabulous Lunch Lady series.  But it sends the series out with a bang as Lunch Lady faces off with all of her previous adversaries.  This time it's going to take more than Betty and her awesome inventions to save the day.  I loved the fact that the kids help save the day as well as the role that the librarians play in the book (I love their powers even if they tend to use them for evil).  This is a delightful superhero series for younger readers who aren't ready for the more graphic and violent comic book type graphic novels. Highly recommended.


ABOUT THE BOOK

World War I set the tone for the 20th century and introduced a new type of warfare: global, mechanical, and brutal. Nathan Hale has gathered some of the most fascinating true-life tales from the war and given them his inimitable Hazardous Tales twist. Easy to understand, funny, informative, and lively, this series is the best way to be introduced to some of the most well-known battles (and little-known secrets) of the infamous war.

REVIEW

I've become a real fan of this series which addresses history topics in a very entertaining, appealing way. I especially appreciated the way that Hale represented each country with a different animal.  This helped keep the different armies and their actions separate.  Tackling the whole of World War I was rather ambitious, but the author/illustrator does a good job at hitting the highlights without getting bogged down.  The representation of war as a monster that grows in size and ferocity as the war gets worse and worse I thought was quite appropriate as it shows that war is not a good thing and the destruction that goes with it can't really be controlled by anyone.  The inclusion of Nathan Hale telling the story to the hangman and the British soldier adds some humor to a very humorless topic.  Well done, but since it does address war there are some fighting scenes, but the graphic nature of war is kept to a minimum.

 
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