Showing posts from October, 2013

Halloween Picture Books

TRICK OR TREAT ON MONSTER STREET written by Danny Schnitzlein illustrated by Matt Faulkner Peachtree, 2013 ISBN: 978-1-56145-465-5 Picture Book Grades 1-3 Reviewed from copy sent by publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Told in rhyme, a young boy tells all about how he overcame his fear of monsters and got back at his brother for their mean tricks.  He explains how one Halloween everything changed when he ended up on Monster street after losing his brothers while trick or treating.  He discovers to his surprise that monsters are afraid of humans and bunnies and puppies, but they like to dress up as human children.  At first he is terrified that he will be discovered, but slowly he relaxes and even makes some friends.  The end is rather poeticly just as his brothers get their comeuppance.

Strengths: Plenty of gross humor and wacky monsters makes the book quite enjoyable. The creative way the boy overcomes his fears by facing them is well done and…

CYBILS REVIEW: Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz

PRISONER B-3087 by Alan Gratz Scholastic Press, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-545-45901-3 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Grades 5 and up Reviewed from copy borrowed from public library. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Survive. At any cost.

10 concentration camps.

10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly.

It's something no one could imagine surviving.

But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face.

As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner -- his arm tattooed with the words PRISONER B-3087.

He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later.

Can Yanek make it throug…

CYBILS REVIEW: Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman

WILL SPARROW'S ROAD by Karen Cushman Clarion Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-547-73962-5 Middle Grade Historical Fiction Grades 4-8
Reviewed from copy borrowed from public library. All opinions expressed are solely my own.


In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that  he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman's new comic masterpiece.


Will Sparrow flees from the inn where he lives a…

CYBILS REVIEW: Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

DESTINY, REWRITTEN by Kathryn Fitzmaurice Katherine Tegan Books, 2013 ISBN: 978-0-06-162501-5 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 3-6 Reviewed from copy borrowed from public library. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis has been told for her entire life that her destiny is to become a poet, just like her famous namesake, Emily Dickinson. But Emily doesn't even really like poetry, and she has a secret career ambition that she suspects her English-professor mother will frown on. Then, just after discovering that it contains an important family secret, she loses the special volume of Emily Dickinson's poetry that was given to her at birth. As Emily and her friends search for the lost book in used bookstores and thrift shops all across town, Emily's understanding of destiny begins to unravel and then rewrite itself in a marvelous new way.

In her third novel, Kathryn Fitzmaurice again weaves a richly textured story about unexpected c…

CLEAN TEEN PUBLISHING: Heartkeeper/Heartbound by B.T. Lyons

HEARTKEEPER by B.T. Lyons Clean Teen Publishing, 2013 ISBN: 9780989470155 Middle Grade Fantasy Grades 3-6 Review copy provided by publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

“People of the Field, of the Cave, of the Forest, and of the Mountain, and all the places and habitats in between, our race is able to gather here tonight because in time past we found that we were not the warden of the Earth, but the Earth was our warden, our sustainer, our parent...”

Mankind has survived the near-collapse of life as they knew it, now living in harmony with the world around them. Adain, a young Tenderfoot of this
Future Earth, is about to take part in his Heart Chase – the search for a companion animal spirit that will act as his companion and conscience for the rest of his life. Success in the Heart Chase and surviving the subsequent Trials over the year ensures his place amongst the People as an adult, but failure means his certain death...

...and his…

CYBILS Review: The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech

THE BOY ON THE PORCH by Sharon Creech Harpercollins, 2013
ISBN13: 9780061892356
Middle Grade ? Grades ? Reviewed from copy borrowed from library. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
From Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech comes a singular story that reminds us of the surprising connections that bloom when unconditional love and generosity prevail. For when a young couple finds a boy asleep on their porch, their lives take an unexpectedly joyous turn.

When John and Marta found the boy on the porch, they were curious, naturally, as to why he was there-and they didn't expect him to stay, not at first, but he did stay, day after day, until it seemed as if he belonged, running and smiling and laughing his silent laugh, tapping and patting on every surface as he made his music, and painting-with water, with paint, with mud-those swirly swirls and swings and trees.

One day a young couple wakes to find a boy asleep on their porch. Unable to speak, the boy cannot explain his hist…

CYBILS Review: A Summer of Sundays by Lindsay Eland

A SUMMER OF SUNDAYS by Lindsay Eland Egmont, 2013 ISBN: 9781606840306 Middle Grade Contemporary Grades 3-6 Reviewed from copy borrowed from library. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

When you're the third of six kids, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Sunday Fowler is determined that this summer she'll find the one thing that makes her stand out from her siblings. 

And when she discovers a silver box in the basement of the library her parents are renovating, she might just have found something to gain her the attention she so craves. Inside is a series of letters addressed to "The Librarian" and a manuscript. But who wrote them? With the help of annoying neighbor-turned-new-friend Jude, Sunday is determined to track down the author. And when she unveils this novel to the world, she'll be famous!

But uncovering this manuscript means stirring up secrets that some people in the town hoped to keep buried. And Sunday must decide if some things …

BLOG TOUR: Slayers: Friends and Traitors by C.J. Hill

SLAYERS: FRIENDS AND TRAITORS Slayers #2 by C.J. Hill Feiwel and Friends, 2013 ISBN: 9781250024619 YA Fantasy Grades 7 and up Reviewed from ARC received from publisher in return for honest review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In C.J. Hill's action-packed sequel to Slayers, the group of teens known as Slayers have been betrayed—but they won’t give up without a fight.

Tori’s got a problem. She thought she’d have one more summer to train as a dragon Slayer, but time has run out. When Tori hears the horrifying sound of dragon eggs hatching, she knows the Slayers are in trouble. In less than a year, the dragons will be fully grown and completely lethal. The Slayers are well-prepared, but their group is still not complete, and Tori is determined to track down Ryker—the mysterious missing Slayer.

What Tori doesn’t bargain for, however, is the surprising truth about her powers. She isn’t just a Slayer, she’s part Dragon Lord, too. How can Tori fight to save her friends …

CYBILS Review: Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz


BLOG TOUR/GIVEAWAY: The Last Enchanter by Laurisa White Reyes

Welcome to the official blog tour for  THE LAST ENCHANTER, 
Book II of The Celestine Chronicles,  a fun-filled fantasy adventure series for middle grade readers!  
In Book I, THE ROCK OF IVANORE, enchanter's apprentice Marcus Frye and five other boys set out on a dangerous journey to locate the Rock of Ivanore and bring it back to their village.
In THE LAST ENCHANTER, months have passed since they succeeded in their quest. One of the boys, Kelvin, is living as royalty in Dokur, and Marcus is studying magic with Zyll. When Lord Fredric is murdered and Kelvin becomes king, the Enchanter Zyll and Marcus head for Dokur in hopes of protecting Kelvin from meeting the same fate, though it quickly becomes apparent that none of them are safe, and Marcus has had disturbing visions of Zyll's death. With the help of his old friends Clovis and Bryn, joined by new friend Lael, a feisty girl in search of her mother, Marcus uncovers …