Showing posts from September, 2013

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci

ODD DUCK by Cecil Castellucci, illustrated by Sara Varon First Second, 2013 ISBN: 9781596435575 Graphic Novel Grades 2-5 Reviewed from library copy.

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there's nothing so odd about that. Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can't overlook his odd habits. It's a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him. But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer. Sara Varon (Robot Dreams) teams up with Cecil Castellucci (Grandma's Gloves) for a gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming examination of the perils and pleasures of friendship.
I was a little bit surprised at how much I enjoyed this book.  I thought the illustrations were darling with lots of humorous details.  The characters were oddly endearing with their …

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull

WILD BORN Spirit Animals #1 by Brandon Mull Scholastic, 2013 ISBN: 9780545522434 Review copy provided by publisher. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed for ever. Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers ...and on you.


Brandon Mull resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and three children. He spent t…

WILD & WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Safari Journal by Hudson Talbott

Safari Journal: The Adventures in Africa of Carey Monroe by Hudson Talbott Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003 ISBN: 978-0-544-11346-6 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 3-6

Twelve-year-old Carey Monroe has no idea what he's in for when his wacky aunt Elaine drags him along on an African safari. Soon after arriving in Kenya, Carey meets a Maasai man and his son, who open Carey's eyes to the ways of their people and the beauty of the African landscape and wildlife. Their adventures turn suspenseful when they encounter an international poaching ring that trades illegally in rhino horns and elephant tusks.

Explore the world of the Maasai people at Carey's side by reading his journal, filled with his vivid accounts, photographs, and illustrations. Hudson Talbott has created an exciting, informative safari story that will fascinate readers of all ages.

An author's note provides cultural context for Carey's adventures.


I really enjoyed this book. It's fairly sh…

CYBILS Judges announced and I'm one of them! Squee!

The Cybils judges were announced today and I am delighted to announce that I have the privilege of being one of them.  I am a judge for Round 1 of the Middle Grade Fiction.  Here are the others for Middle Grade Fiction:

2013 Middle Grade Fiction Judges
First Round Mark Buxton Jennifer Donovan
@5M4B Heidi Grange
@GeoLibrarian Deb Marshall
@debamarshall Jennifer Rumberger
@j_rumberger Julie Williams
@JulieWilliams89 Karen Yingling
@msyingling Second Round Alex Baugh
@randomlyreading Kathy Burnette
@thebrainlair Melissa Gaynor
@sweetonbooks Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
@MGMafioso Kyle Kimmal
@theboyreader Check here for the …

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Curse of the Broomstaff by Tyler Whitesides

CURSE OF THE BROOMSTAFF Janitors #3 by Tyler Whitesides Shadow Mountain, 2013
ISBN13: 9781609076054
Middle Grade Fantasy Grades 3-6 ARC provided by publisher in return for honest review.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.
A secret society of Janitors with wizard-like powers continue their battle, and now, the stakes are even higher.

The Bureau of Educational Maintenance is after Alan Zumbro and this time they mean business—deadly business. Spencer, Daisy, and their little team of rebels must find the source of all magical Glop and destroy it before it can destroy the world as we know it. No small task with the BEM and their monster toxites at their heels. It’s a wild and dangerous ride as they follow the trail of clues all the way to the hiding place of the mysterious aurans: guardians of a secret landfill. What they discover there will change the way Spencer sees himself, not to mention the fate of the rebels.

Tyler Whitesides worked as a janitor at an e…

MMGM/BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: Zero Tolerance by Claudia Mills

ZERO TOLERANCE by Claudia Mills Farra Straus Giroux, 2013 978-0-374-33312-6 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 4-8 Review copy received from publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Seventh-grader Sierra Shepard has always been the perfect student, so when she sees that she accidentally brought her mother's lunch bag to school, including a paring knife, she immediately turns in the knife at the school office. Much to her surprise, her beloved principal places her in in-school suspension and sets a hearing for her expulsion, citing the school's ironclad no weapons policy. While there, Sierra spends time with Luke, a boy who's known as a troublemaker, and discovers that he's not the person she assumed he would be--and that the lines between good and bad aren't as clear as she once thought. Claudia Mills brings another compelling school story to life with Zero Tolerance.
Claudia Mills is the author of How Oliv…

PICTURE BOOK BLOG TOUR: The Not Even Once Club by Wendy Watson Nelson

THE NOT EVEN ONCE CLUB written by Wendy Watson Nelson, illustrated by Brandon Dorman Deseret Book, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-60907-337-4 Picture Book Grades K-2 Review copy provided by publisher in return for an honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

The Not Even Once Club is an adorable and appealing way to engage children in a story that will help them choose for themselves to keep the commandments and to never break them. Not even once. Children will meet Tyler, an energetic boy who is excited to make new friends in his Primary class. They have invited Tyler to join their special club, but first he has to pass the test and keep the club promise. With illustrations from bestselling illustrator Brandon Dorman, The Not Even Once Club is a fun and engaging way for parents to help teach their children the importance of keeping the commandments. Included in the back of the book are additional teaching helps for parents and leaders. Click here to download your free "Not E…

AUDIO BOOK BLOG TOUR: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by

ZOE & ZAK AND THE GHOST LEOPARD by Lars Guignard, narrated by Bailey S. Carlson Audible edition, 2013 Fantastic Press 7 hours and 20 minutes Review copy provided by publisher in return for honest review.


Move over Percy Jackson. Find out what everybody is talking about!

If you loved Harry Potter, if you couldn't get enough of Percy Jackson, if you're wondering what to read after The Mark of Athena -- from bestselling author Lars Guignard comes the kids' magic fantasy adventure... GHOST LEOPARD.

Zoe and Zak are lost in exotic India, where gods and magic still exist. Before they can find their way home, they just have to do one little thing...

...Save a mythical creature from an ancient evil that wants to rule the world.

When Zoe Guire goes along on her mom's business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. An elephant god speaks to her from the bottom of a swimming pool... She and her classmate Zak get locked in a trunk and shipped off to a stra…

FANTASTIC FRIDAY: Janitors 2: Secrets of New Forest Academy by Tyler Whitesides

SECRETS OF NEW FOREST ACADEMY Janitors #2 by Tyler Whitesides Shadow Mountain, 2012 ISBN: 978-1-60907-546-0 Middle Grade Fantasy Grades 3-6 Review copy provided by publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Spencer stood up, anxiously scanning the library for movement. Instinctively, his hand reached into his backpack to grip a small Ziploc bag of magical vacuum dust. Spencer turned a slow circle, eyes flicking from bookshelf to bookshelf. The students were showing all the signs—so where were the Toxites? Now more than ever, Spencer, Daisy, and even Dez must fight to save schools everywhere. Toxites, the small creatures that love to feed on the brain waves of students, are just the beginning of their troubles. The Bureau of Educational Maintenance (BEM) is after Spencer, and the Rebels hope to sneak him to safety within the walls of an elite private school. But danger follows Spencer and his friends, testing their loyalty and trust as well as t…

PICTURE BOOK REVIEW: Peck, Peck, Peck by Lucy Cousins

PECK, PECK, PECK by Lucy Cousins Candlewick Press, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-7636-6621-7 Picture Book Grades Prek-1 Review copy purchased. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Comical and original, this vivacious picture book from the creator of Maisy features a lovable new character — and a novelty element that’s a hole lot of fun.

Today my daddy said to me,
"It’s time you learned to peck a tree."

Little woodpecker has just learned to peck. Yippee! He’s having so much fun that he peck-peck-pecks right through a door and has a go at everything on the other side, from the hat to the mat, the racket to the jacket, the teddy bear to a book called Jane Eyre. Children will be drawn to the young bird’s exuberance at learning a new skill — and ready to snuggle along at day’s end for a night of sweet dreams.


Anyone who works or lives with young children will appreciate the humor of this book. When young children first learn to do something they do it over and over and over again…