Tuesday, January 29, 2019

EARLY READER REVIEWS: Kick it Mo! and Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair


ABOUT THE BOOK

The soccer season is starting, and Mo has been working hard on his kicking skills so he can help his team, the Billy Goats, score a goal. But when he gets on the field on game day, it seems like all he gets to do is run back and forth. Will Mo ever get the chance to show his team what he can do?

REVIEW

David Adler's Mo is at it again, except this time, he's playing soccer.  As in previous volumes, he struggles to develop the skills needed to play well.  His kicks tend to send the ball flying through the air, instead of along the ground.  During his team's game, he gets the chance to score a goal.  Will he kick the ball correctly or will it be another miss?  Mo is such a lovable character, with his love for sports and his willingness to do his best, even if his best is far from perfect.  This series is perfect for young readers who play sports themselves and struggle to accept their own mistakes.  It's also a fun series for young readers period.  


ABOUT THE BOOK

Fergus and Zeke love being the class pets in Miss Maxwell's classroom, and they do everything the students do -- listening at storytime, painting masterpieces during art class, and keeping their own special journals. But when it's time for the school science fair, the mice aren't sure just how to get involved. Lucy wants to time them as they run through a maze, but they want to do an experiment, not be an experiment. Then Zeke comes up with a great idea: since Lucy is training animals for her experiment, maybe he and Fergus can do the same thing! Unfortunately, the only animals available are the students themselves. Can Fergus and Zeke turn the tables and train Lucy in time for the science fair?

REVIEW

Fergus and Zeke enjoy being classroom pets.  They like being able to learn right along with the children.  But when the science fair comes along, they want to participate, but aren't sure how they can.  All the other children's projects don't really work for them.  Until Lucy decides to train the mice to run a maze.  Fergus and Zeke decide that the best way for them to participate is to train Lucy.  But children don't seem to be very easy to train, and there isn't much time left.  Can they get Lucy trained before the science fair?  I enjoyed reading about Fergus and Zeke's efforts to come up with a science fair project, most of which go awry.  It's also entertaining to read about Lucy's bafflement when the mice stop doing what she 'trained' them to do.  These clever mice are bound to make young readers smile with their antics.  And there's some fun science in the book to boot. 

Friday, January 25, 2019

MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN'S BOOK DAY!

 
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2019 (1/25/19) is in its 6th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

Medallion Level Sponsors Honorary: Children’s Book Council, The Junior Library Guild, TheConsciousKid.org. Super Platinum: Make A Way Media GOLD: Bharat Babies, Candlewick Press, Chickasaw Press, Juan Guerra and The Little Doctor / El doctorcito, KidLitTV, Lerner Publishing Group, Plum Street Press, SILVER: Capstone Publishing, Carole P. Roman, Author Charlotte Riggle, Huda Essa, The Pack-n-Go Girls, BRONZE: Charlesbridge Publishing, Judy Dodge Cummings, Author Gwen Jackson, Kitaab World, Language Lizard – Bilingual & Multicultural Resources in 50+ Languages, Lee & Low Books, Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul, Redfin, Author Gayle H. Swift, T.A. Debonis-Monkey King’s Daughter, TimTimTom Books, Lin Thomas, Sleeping Bear Press/Dow Phumiruk, Vivian Kirkfield,

MCBD 2019 is honored to have the following Author Sponsors on board

Honorary: Julie Flett, Mehrdokht Amini, Author Janet Balletta, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Josh Funk, Chitra Soundar, One Globe Kids – Friendship Stories, Sociosights Press and Almost a Minyan, Karen Leggett, Author Eugenia Chu, CultureGroove Books, Phelicia Lang and Me On The Page, L.L. Walters, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Hayley Barrett, Sonia Panigrah, Author Carolyn Wilhelm, Alva Sachs and Dancing Dreidels, Author Susan Bernardo, Milind Makwana and A Day in the Life of a Hindu Kid, Tara Williams, Veronica Appleton, Author Crystal Bowe, Dr. Claudia May, Author/Illustrator Aram Kim, Author Sandra L. Richards, Erin Dealey, Author Sanya Whittaker Gragg, Author Elsa Takaoka, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo, Anita Badhwar, Author Sylvia Liu, Feyi Fay Adventures, Author Ann Morris, Author Jacqueline Jules, CeCe & Roxy Books, Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace, LEUYEN PHAM, Padma Venkatraman, Patricia Newman and Lightswitch Learning, Shoumi Sen, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Traci Sorell, Shereen Rahming, Blythe Stanfel, Christina Matula, Julie Rubini, Paula Chase, Erin Twamley, Afsaneh Moradian, Claudia Schwam, Lori DeMonia, Terri Birnbaum/ RealGirls Revolution, Soulful Sydney, Queen Girls Publications, LLC

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE. Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts A Crafty Arab, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Biracial Bookworms, Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Descendant of Poseidon Reads, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joy Sun Bear/ Shearin Lee, Jump Into a Book, Imagination Soup, Jenny Ward’s Class, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Raising Race Conscious Children, Shoumi Sen, Spanish Playground

MY REVIEWS


ABOUT THE BOOK

Hidden on every phone is a magical app that only children can see. With this app, children around the world can request the help of a magical helper whenever they’re in need. It doesn’t matter what the problem is - bullying, making friends, monsters… anything. Just one click of a button and poof! Feyi Fay is there.

There’s a mysterious woman wearing red heels in Tom’s living room. They call her Madam Koi Koi. She doesn’t like it when kids don’t stay asleep at night so she lurks around waiting for them to break the rule. And if she finds even one eye open, it won’t be fun.

Tom is frightened so he calls Feyi Fay for help. Using her wit and her magic cowry bead, Feyi must help Tom face his fears so he can sleep peacefully at night once again. Will she be successful or will Tom’s bedtime be forever ruined by the thought of Madam Koi Koi? 

REVIEW

This fairly simple and short book follows the adventure of a young kuzooly who lives in the clouds among her people.  An app on her cell phone calls her when her help is needed.  In this story she visits a six-year-old boy who is afraid he's about to have ice cream and all fun torn away from him by Madam Koi Koi.  With Feyi's help he faces his fears.  The book has lots of cute illustrations and is basic enough for young chapter book readers.  For older readers, however, the book is likely to be a bit disappointing in it's lack of depth and character development.  


ABOUT THE BOOK

In front of her followers, Daphne is a hilarious, on-the-rise vlog star. But at school Daphne is the ever-skeptical Annabelle Louis, seventh-grade super geek and perennial new kid. To cope with her mom's upcoming military assignment in Afghanistan and her start at a brand new middle school, Annabelle's parents send her to a therapist. Dr. Varma insists Annabelle try stepping out of her comfort zone, hoping it will give her the confidence to make friends, which she'll definitely need once Mom is gone. Luckily there is one part of the assignment Annabelle DOES enjoy--her vlog, Daphne Doesn't, in which she appears undercover and gives hilarious takes on activities she thinks are a waste of time. She is great at entertaining her online fans, yet her classmates don't know she exists. Can Annabelle keep up the double life forever? 
REVIEW
For young middle grade readers who enjoy stories of friendship, modern technology, and school this makes for a fun read.  The multicultural elements don't play a huge role, except Annabelle's experiences as an army brat where she learned multiple languages and was home schooled.  Her background makes the idea of returning to public school terrifying for her.  And things don't go well.  At the suggestion of her therapist, Annabelle turns to her passion for movie making to find her way through her challenges at school.  But she doesn't expect her vlog to go viral and force her to lie to the people around her.  Annabelle has to decide just how long she can maintain her anonymity and still be herself.  The book addressed contemporary themes nicely and is beautifully put together.  A great choice for 5th-6th grade readers who are fascinated by internet fame.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Make A Way Media!

MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/25/19 at 9:00pm.E.S.T. TONS of prizes and book bundles will be given away during the party. GO HERE for more details.  

FREE RESOURCES From MCBD Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: https://wp.me/P5tVud-1H Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians, and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.



Friday, January 18, 2019

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot by Joseph Bruchac


ABOUT THE BOOK

All Elliot wants is a nice, normal day at school. All Uchenna wants is an adventure. Guess whose wish comes true?

Professor Fauna whisks the kids--and Jersey, of course--off to the Muckleshoot territory in Washington, where film crews have suddenly descended en masse to expose Bigfoot to the world, and the Schmoke logging company is bringing in some awfully large machinery.

Can the Unicorn Rescue Society escape the blades of the Schmokes' chain saws? Outsmart a cable news team? And are those big, hairy creatures running through the forest really Bigfoot?


REVIEW

This third book in the Unicorn Rescue Society series is hilarious.  At least I found it so.  I'm not sure if I found it so funny because I was tired when reading it or if the book is just funny.  In any case, I enjoyed the silliness found within.  And yet it isn't all silliness, it's clear the authors tried to be thoughtful in regards to the portrayal of the Muckleshoot native people.  How well they did, I couldn't say because I wasn't familiar with this group before picking up this book.  But the Muckleshoot are portrayed as a people in charge of their own land who care for the land and the creatures that live on it.  Elliot's ongoing fear of just about anything results in some rather amusing episodes, as does Professor Fauna's incompetence and the inclusion of Jersey, Elliot and Uchenna's Jersey Devil pet.  This makes for an enjoyable read for younger middle grade readers who want something less intense than a lot of existing fantasy novels, but just as interesting. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

SERIES THURSDAY: Freddia Ramos Hears it All and Bear Country


ABOUT THE BOOK

Freddie Ramos loves his new Zapato Power—super hearing! He can listen in on conversations and find hero jobs. But soon Freddie realizes the temptation to eavesdrop on everyone is too great. Can Freddie find a way to use his super hearing without snooping?
 
REVIEW
 
Jacqueline Jules has created a delightful series for early chapter book readers who have a love for superheroes.  Freddie Ramos has several devices that give him superpowers (his shoes, a watch, etc.).  He tries to use his superpowers for good, such as when he helps a lost little boy at the beginning of the story, but like most humans, he's tempted to use them at other less appropriate times.  When he notices that Mr. Vaslov and his nephew have a secret, he uses his power to overhear a conversation.  After making some mistakes, Freddie realizes that he needs to be more careful about how he uses his capabilities.  A fun read with lots of superpowers, but also a solid theme of being responsible and owning up to mistakes, this book makes for an enjoyable read for young readers.  
 
 
ABOUT THE BOOK
 
It’s fall in the backyard, and though the weather is cooling down, the crime solving business is still hot. When the Chicken Squad’s neighbor Anna McClanahanahan comes looking for her missing hamster one morning, it’s an easy case to solve (Ziggy always takes a stroll from 6:30 to 7:15 a.m.). The Chicken Squad is now ready to settle in for a relaxing day of knitting—that is, until Ziggy points out that Barbara, the Chicken Squad’s caretaker—the one who FEEDS THEM!!—is missing! And not only that, but there have been sightings of a headless bear in the neighborhood! Will the Chicken Squad be able to save their beloved Barbara and get some breakfast? Or will this case be too much to bear?
 
REVIEW
 
The Chicken Squad is on the case.  But after solving the case of the missing hamster (in about a minute), the hamster reveals to them that there is another case waiting to be solved.  The chickens caretaker, Barbara, appears to have disappeared.  And a headless bear sighting in the neighborhood has them all shook up.  Using their unusual powers of reasoning and observation, the chicks set out to find their caretaker, and their breakfast.  But as is normal with this crew, things don't exactly go according to plan.  Cronin has written another entertaining book that young readers who like humor, mysteries, and animals are bound to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

CYBILS SENIOR HIGH NONFICTION: We are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson


ABOUT THE BOOK

Carol Anderson's White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience.

When America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, the systemic response is a consistent racist backlash that rolls back those wins. We Are Not Yet Equal examines five of these moments: The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with Jim Crow laws; the promise of new opportunities in the North during the Great Migration was limited when blacks were physically blocked from moving away from the South; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to laws that disenfranchised millions of African American voters and a War on Drugs that disproportionately targeted blacks; and the election of President Obama led to an outburst of violence including the death of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the election of Donald Trump.

This YA adaptation will be written in an approachable narrative style that provides teen readers with additional context to these historic moments, photographs and archival images, and additional back matter and resources for teens.


REVIEW

 We Are not yet Equal was a fascinating and informative read.  Anderson does an amazing job supporting her theme of racial inequality.  Her point is that every time progress has been made in addressing racial inequality, especially in regards to blacks, there has been a massive backlash by the white population (white rage she calls it).  And after reading the book, I have to say that she's convinced me of the truthfulness of that statement.  This YA adaption focuses on five major events that seemed to indicate that progress was winning the day, only to have the backlash lead to major regression.  Anderson focuses on the following events: Reconstruction/Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, the backlash to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the War on Drugs, and the election of President Obama.  I was aware of some of the circumstances and events mentioned in the book, but some of them were new to me.  It's clear to me after reading this book that the United States hasn't made nearly as much progress to racial equality as we like to think we have.  Anderson makes it clear that there is still much to be done to achieve social and racial justice.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

MIDDLE GRADE NONFICTION: Jack Montgomery: World War II Gallantry at Anzio by Michael P. Spradlin


ABOUT THE BOOK
 
Jack C. Montgomery was a Cherokee from Oklahoma, and a first lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division Thunderbirds. On February 22, 1944, near Padiglione, Italy, Montgomery's rifle platoon was under fire by three echelons of enemy forces when he single-handedly attacked all three positions, neutralizing the German machine-gunners and taking numerous prisoners in the process. Montgomery's actions demoralized the enemy and saved the lives of many American soldiers.

The Medal of Honor series profiles the courage and accomplishments of recipients of the highest and most prestigious personal military decoration, awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary acts of valor.


REVIEW

This short nonfiction chapter book tells the story of Jack C. Montgomery, a recipient of the Medal of Honor for gallantry in action during World War II.  The book provides enough background for young readers to understand the context of Montgomery's actions without getting bogged down in too many details.  I could have done with a bit more information about Montgomery himself, the background details are pretty basic, but for young readers it shouldn't be an issue.  The focus of the book is on building up to the details of the events that lead to Montgomery's being awarded the Medal of Honor.  And that part of the book is the best part, unsurprisingly.  I was stunned to read of the remarkable actions that Montgomery took to protect those under his command.  It's amazing he came out of it alive.  Young readers who are into stories of the military and war are sure to appreciate this one.  While it would have been nice to have more photographs of Montgomery, the few that are included are a nice addition.  The other photographs help provide context for the circumstances that Montgomery found himself in.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

SERIES THURSDAY: Wedgie & Gizmo books 2 & 3


ABOUT THE BOOK

Wedgie LOVES the new micro-pig next door. And she LOVES him! They both like to go for walks and roll in smelly things. They are going to be in the school pet parade together. They are best friends.

But Gizmo knows the truth. The pig is Wedgie’s new sidekick. Super Wedgie and the Toof have teamed up to stop Gizmo from taking over the world.

But they will not win! Gizmo is an evil genius. He is smarter than most comic book villains. And more powerful than even Darth Vader! He ordered a flying machine online and he will use it to set free all the guinea pigs at the pet parade.

Then they will crush both dog and pig and make all humans feel their wrath. Muh-ha-ha!!

REVIEW

Gizmo, the cavy, called a guinea pig by humans, is still plotting to take over the world.  But first he must recruit other cavies to his cause.  He creates a flyer designed to do that very thing.  He also orders a drone to assist in his plans.  Meanwhile, Wedgie is meeting the new neighbor, Emily and her pet pig.  At first the two seem to get along, and then Pinkie (called the Toof by young Jackson) seems to be getting all the petting and attention and Wedgie resents it.  Turns out that Wedgie's young mistress, Jasmine and Emily are determined to win a trophy from the upcoming pet show, but Pinkie is succeeding in her training and Wedgie is failing.  Everyone's plans, human and animal, come to a head at the pet show.  Selfors has once again written an amusing tale of animal ambition and behavior.  Fisinger's illustrations provide a lot of the humor, providing the perfect complement to Selfor's funny story.  Bound to be popular with young readers with it's easy to read text and hilarious illustrations.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Wedgie and Gizmo’s humans are taking their first family vacation—to a campground by a lake! And their pets are too destructive to stay home alone. Wedgie the corgi is super-excited. He can’t wait to chase squirrels and poop in the woods!

But Gizmo, the evil genius guinea pig, has no time for games. He must convince the forest critters to join his Evil Horde and help him take over the world—one tent at a time.


Muh-hah-hah!

REVIEW

Wedgie and Gizmo travel to a pet hotel with their family, but when things don't work out there they end up going camping instead.  Gizmo plots to take over the world, or at least recruit some minions and steal Wedgie's (Thorgi) cape in the hopes to reining in Wedgie's 'power'.  Wedgie is obsessed with 'protecting' his family from the tiny 'squirrels' (chipmunks).  But things take a turn for the dramatic when Gizmo has to fend off a visitor and gets lost and Wedgie has to decide between protecting his families' socks and the delicious sausage the chipmunks have to offer.  Once again Selfors has created a hilarious tale of pets and family and different points of view.  The combination of art and text works smoothly to create a book great for reluctant readers but enjoyable for others as well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS: dear sister by Alison McGhee/The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell


ABOUT THE BOOK

What do you do when you have an incredibly annoying little sister? Write her letters telling her so, of course!

Whininess, annoyingness, afraid of the darkness, refusal to eat lima beans, and pulling brother's hair. This is the criteria on which little sisters are graded. Inspired by the notes Alison McGhee's own kids would write each other, this heavily illustrated collection of letters and messages from an older brother to his little sister reveal the special love--or, at the very least, tolerance--siblings have for each other.

REVIEW

Anyone who has grown up with a sibling should be able to relate to this book.  This quick read is presented as a collection of notes written by an older brother to his little sister over an eight year period of time.  The letters are funny and combined with the illustrations make for an entertaining read.  The brother starts off unsure that he likes his little sister (as is obvious from the notes he writes and the pictures he draws--to his parents' great displeasure).  But over time, he grows to tolerate and then have affection for his little sister.  While the book provides a quick and entertaining read, it's also easy to relate to the angst and frustration both the brother and sister experience.  Bound to be enjoyed by many young readers.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be--imagine that!

REVIEW

This graphic novel follows the exploits of a neighborhood full of imaginative kids.  Each brief chapter focuses on one or two of the individual kids and the character he/she imagines him/herself to be.  There is plenty of interaction between the different children, both positive and negative.  They have disagreements just like any group of children might.  In addition, each of the children has other things they struggle with: single parents, frustrated parents, bullies, gender bias, etc.  But the focus of the book is on the imaginative play of the children and they way they use cardboard boxes to build their characters and kingdoms.  The artwork is bright and cheerful and appealing.  I for one am delighted to see a book that celebrates that wonderful things called imaginative play, especially in a world that has become so much about technology. Middle grade readers are bound to enjoy this one, especially those who enjoy such play themselves.

CYBILS JUNIOR HIGH NONFICTION: Eleanor Roosevelt Fighter for Justice and Facing Frederick


ABOUT THE BOOK

Eleanor Roosevelt, Fighter for Justice shows young readers how the former First Lady evolved from a poor little rich girl to a protector and advocate for those without a voice. Though now seen as a cultural icon, she was a woman deeply insecure about her looks and her role in the world. But by recognizing her fears and constantly striving to overcome her prejudices, she used her proximity to presidents and her own power to aid in the fight for Civil Rights and other important causes. This biography gives readers a fresh perspective on her extraordinary life. It includes a timeline, biography, index, and many historic photographs.

REVIEW

This well-written biography focuses on the work that Eleanor Roosevelt did in helping fight social injustice.  Eleanor's life starting with her birth and continuing up through her death is covered.  But the focus is on her evolving feelings and work related to civil rights, women's rights, and other social justice causes.  Her family life is described including references to her complicated relationship with her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and her troubled relations with her children.  I found it fascinating to read about how her opinions about things changed over time and how it influenced her actions.  The way she stepped forward to help in causes she believed in at a time when women weren't supposed to be so active and involved is admirable.  But Cooper doesn't hesitate to point out weaknesses in Eleanor's beliefs and actions both related to her family and her public actions.  A thought-provoking look at a woman who despite her weaknesses stepped up and made a difference at a time when many Americans were suffering.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) is best known for the telling of his own emancipation. But there is much more to Douglass’s story than his time spent enslaved and his famous autobiography. Facing Frederick captures the whole complicated, and at times perplexing, person that he was. Statesman, suffragist, writer, and newspaperman, this book focuses on Douglass the man rather than the historical icon.

REVIEW

This beautifully designed book tells the story of an historical icon in a way that makes him come to life.  Quoting from Douglass's own works as well as newspapers and letters and other documents, Bolden tells Douglass story in a way that young adult readers will find engaging and informative.  The numerous photographs of Douglass as well as images of newspapers and letters help bring the story to life.  The book focuses on Douglass's public life although his family life is included.  I found it fascinating to read about aspects of Douglass's life that I wasn't familiar with as well as stories I had heard before.  An important and well done biography of a man who left his mark on the world in many important ways.

Monday, January 7, 2019

MIDDLE GRADE BOOK REVIEW: The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

The Language of Spells

• Hardcover: 256 pages • Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 26, 2018)

 Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is a unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. Sometimes it chooses those who might not look so likely. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free. As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the question everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them? At once richly magical and tragically historical, The Language of Spells is a novel full of adventure about remembering old stories, forging new ones, and the transformative power of friendship.

Purchase Links

Chronicle Books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Garret Weyr

?Writer
?Tea drinker
??Cat lover with 2 old dogs
?Vegan
?->?New Yorker in LA
?Dork.

Find out more about Garret at her website, and connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

REVIEW

This quiet story of friendship and sacrifice revolves around the relationship between Grisha, a dragon, and Maggie, a young girl growing up in Vienna, Austria.  Grisha was born during a time when dragons were seen by most people as allies and used in battle.  He grew up in a forest in Germany with other creatures like himself, magical and otherwise.  An encounter with a sorcerer leaves him stuck as a teapot.  Many years later through the efforts of a friend who recognized him as living inside the teapot, he is released.  He heads to Vienna to join a group of dragons seemingly called there.  He doesn't recognize it as a trap and many of the dragons disappear thanks to the same sorcerer that Grisha encountered earlier.  Over time he pushes the memories away because they are too painful.  Things change though after he meets and befriends Maggie, a young girl living with her father in a hotel.  Once a week Grisha meets with some of the other dragons in the hotel bar to socialize and there he meets Maggie.  As Maggie asks Grisha about his past and their relationship deepens, Grisha starts to remember.  When he tells Maggie about the missing dragons, Maggie is determined to rescue them.  But in order to find them, they need to face the DEE, the enchanted organization the sorcerer left behind to manage the dragons.  And saving the dragons may require a sacrifice that Maggie and Grisha aren't willing to make.

Weyr has written a thoughtful, quiet sort of fantasy which is likely to appeal to a small group of young readers.  Since many young readers prefer action-packed plots, they may not stick with the book long enough to finish it, but those who do will find it worthwhile.  The story has depth to it with themes of friendship and sacrifice, fitting in with a changing world or being left behind, being invisible because others can't be bothered to look beyond their own world.  The black and white illustrations are a nice touch but don't particularly jump out at you.  A nice read but one that many middle grade readers aren't likely to read despite the dragons.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

SERIES THURSDAY: Super Sons: The Polarshield Project by Ridley Pearson


COMING IN APRIL 2019!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The polar ice caps have nearly melted away, causing devastation to coastal cities. Erratic, deadly weather forces everyone inland, tearing families apart. Earth is facing its greatest crisis--and Superman and Batman are nowhere to be found.

Jon Kent and Damian "Ian" Wayne are opposite in every way except one--they are the sons of the World's Greatest Heroes! To uncover a global conspiracy, this unlikely dynamic duo will need to learn to trust each other and work together to save the Earth. But who is the mysterious Candace, and what secrets does she hold that could be the key to everything?

REVIEW

 Jonathan Kent wants to be like his father, Clark Kent, aka Superman, and he is, more than anyone other than his parents, knows.  Ian Wayne is already a lot like his father, except with too much arrogance and a lack of experience.  But their world is in serious trouble with flooding and other devastating events occurring more and more frequently.  In an effort to help, Superman leaves Earth on a mission to Mars, and Bruce Wayne heads for Asia.  This leaves the two boys to their own devices, especially when Jonathan's mother is struck down by a mysterious malady.  The two combine forces with two girls, Tilly and Candace (who appears to have powers of her own), to track down the source of the malady, and stop it's spread.  This graphic novel is full of excitement and adventure as these budding heroes seek to save the world.  Like many graphic novels the focus is on plot and not on character development, but middle grade readers aren't likely to care overly much.  The art works well for the graphic novel format and the coloring is nice.  The book does end on a major cliffhanger, but there is a bit of an ending.  Young readers will most likely be eagerly awaiting the sequel as am I.  This is the sort of book that is intended solely for entertainment though so don't go into it expecting a whole lot of depth.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

CYBILS SENIOR HIGH NONFICTION: The Grand Escape by Neal Bascomb


ABOUT THE BOOK

At the height of World War I, as Allied and German forces battled in the trenches and in the air, any captured soldiers and pilots were sent to a web of German prisons. The most dangerous POWs, the ones most talented at escape, were sent to the camp of Holzminden--better known as "Hellminden." Protected by every barrier imaginable, its rules enforced with cruel precision, the prison was the pride of a ruthless commandant named Karl Niemeyer.

This is the story of a group of ingenious and defiant Allied pilots and soldiers who dared to escape from Holzminden, right under Niemeyer's nose. Leading a team that tunneled underneath the prison and far beyond its walls, these breakout artists forged documents, smuggled in supplies, and bribed guards. Twice the tunnel was almost exposed, and the whole plan foiled. But in the end, a group of ten POWs escaped and made it out of enemy territory in the biggest breakout of WWI, which inspired their countrymen in the darkest hours of the war.

REVIEW

Neal Bascomb tell the compelling tale of a group of prisoners of war who during World War I plotted and executed an almost unbelievable escape from a German prison camp.  The daring individuals who came together to set this escape into motion are briefly described along with their backgrounds.  But the focus of the book is on the circumstances that led up to the escape, the escape itself, and the aftermath.  The conditions of the camp, the actions of the camp commandant and the tremendous determination the prisoners exhibited are all a part of the story.  What makes the book so compelling though is the way the author tells it.  The book reads like a thriller, with near misses, plenty of setbacks, and failures detailed along the way.  The inclusion of photographs of the tunnel, the camp, and the people involved make the story feel all the more real.  The maps and diagrams help the reader visualize the setting and circumstances involved in the story.  A fabulously told story that proves the adage: truth is stranger than fiction.
 
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