Showing posts from February, 2017

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Watersong/Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants/Grand Canyon

WATERSONG by Tim McCanna, illustrated by Richard Smythe Simon & Schuster, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4814-6881-7 Source: publisher for review Ages 4-8 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In glorious onomatopoeia, Tim McCanna takes the reader on a dazzling journey as a fox seeks shelter from a rainstorm.


As the rain begins, a little fox seeks shelter. But then it builds and builds into to a torrential storm.

Wash! Wham!
Lash! Whirl!
Bash! Swirl!
Hiss! Slap! Slam!

Both a visual feast and a joy to read aloud, this stunning picture book showcases the power and beauty of nature.


Wow!  What a beautiful book!  Not only does the text work well for a read-a-loud during story time, but the theme of the water cycle fits into the state curriculum.  But my favorite part of the book is the gorgeous illustrations.  It was a brilliant move on the part of the illustrator to put a fox into the mix as we follow the storm and its aftermath.  I am eager to use thi…

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: The Blazing Bridge by Carter Roy

THE BLAZING BRIDGE The Blood Guard #3 by Carter Roy two lions, 2017 ISBN: 978-1477827178 Source: Blue Slip Media Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Ronan Truelove’s best friend, scrappy smart aleck Greta Sustermann, has no idea that she is one of the thirty-six Pure souls crucial to the safety of the world. But Ronan’s evil father has figured it out—and he’s leading the Bend Sinister straight to Greta. If they capture her, she’ll suffer a fate far worse than mere death. But to get to Greta, they’re going to have to go through Ronan first.

Standing with Ronan are plucky hacker Sammy; witty, unkillable Jack Dawkins; and a sharp-tongued woman named Diz, who drives a dangerously souped-up taxi. One breathless close call after another leads to an ugly showdown: Ronan alone against his father, with the fate of Greta, his friends, and the entire world hanging in the balance. Will Ronan be able to rise up and prove once and for all that he has what it takes to join the…

PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: My Beautiful Birds/Under the Umbrella/The Wolves Return

MY BEAUTIFUL BIRDS by Suzanne Del Rizzo Pajama Press, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-77278-010-9 Source: publisher for review Ages 4-8 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Sami, a young Syrian boy, is forced to flee his town when war arrives.  As he and his family settle in to the refugee camp, Sami can't help longing for the pigeons he left behind, his 'beautiful birds'.  He can't bring himself to get involved in school or even playing games with the other children, until he discovers that beauty can be found in even the most discouraging circumstances. 

I think my favorite thing about this book though are the gorgeous illustrations. Using Plasticine, polymer clay, and other mixed media Del Rizzo has created illustrations that really pop out at you.  The story itself really touched my heart, especially with everything going on right now.  I mean, here we have a young boy who has lost his home, his pets, pretty much his whole world, and he grieves the loss, but when new birds f…

GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES: Secret Hero Society by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen

STUDY HALL OF JUSTICE Secret Hero Society #1 by Derek Fridolfs, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen Scholastic, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-545-82501-6 Ages 9-12 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Being the new kid at school is tough, especially when your school is called Ducard Academy and your name is Bruce Wayne. There's a gang of jokers roaming the halls, a muscle-headed kid named Bane wants to beat you up, and your guidance counselor Hugo Strange seems really, well, strange.

This inventive novel follows young Bruce Wayne and his friends Clark (Superman) and Diana (Wonder Woman) as they start a Junior Detective Agency to investigate their teachers and find out what's going on behind closed doors at Ducard Academy, all before recess.

This all-new story presents a twist on the idea of junior sleuths, using comics, journal entries, and doodles to reimagine Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as three students in the same school. They'll try their best…

CYBILS FINALIST: Goblin's Puzzle: Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton

GOBLIN'S PUZZLE Being the Adventures of a Boy with No Name and Two Girls Called Alice by Andrew S. Chilton Alfred A Knopf, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-553-52070-5 Middle grade speculative (fantasy) Ages 9-12 Source: purchased All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Brimming with dragons, goblins, and logic puzzles, this middle-grade fantasy adventure is perfect for readers who enjoyed The Princess Bride or Rump.

THE BOY is a nameless slave on a mission to uncover his true destiny.
THE GOBLIN holds all the answers, but he’s too tricky to be trusted.
PLAIN ALICE is a bookish peasant girl carried off by a confused dragon.
And PRINCESS ALICE is the lucky girl who wasn’t kidnapped.

All four are tangled up in a sinister plot to take over the kingdom, and together they must face kind monsters, a cruel magician, and dozens of deathly boring palace bureaucrats. They’re a ragtag bunch, but with strength, courage, and plenty of deductive reasoning, they just might outwit the villains and crack…

CYBILS FINALIST: The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman

THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE by Delia Sherman Candlewick Press, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-7636-8805-9 Middle grade speculative/fantasy Ages 9-12 Source: purchased  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

In a hilarious tale reminiscent of T. H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone.

When twelve-year-old Nick runs away from his uncle’s in the middle of a blizzard, he stumbles onto a very opinionated bookstore. He also meets its guardian, the self-proclaimed Evil Wizard Smallbone, who calls Nick his apprentice and won’t let him leave, but won’t teach him magic, either. It’s a good thing the bookstore takes Nick’s magical education in hand, because Smallbone’s nemesis—the Evil Wizard Fidelou—and his pack of shape-shifting bikers are howling at the borders. Smallbone might call himself evil, but compared to Fidelou, he’s practically a puppy. And he can’t handle Fidelou alone. Wildly funny and cozily heartfelt…

CYBILS FINALIST: When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace lin

WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER by Grace Lin Little, Brown and Company, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-316-12592-5 Source: purchased Ages 9-12 Middle grade historical fantasy All opinions expressed are solely my own.

This breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy is inspired by Chinese folklore, and is a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Pinmei's gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.
Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save…

CYBILS FINALIST: The Voyage to Magical North by Claire Fayers

THE VOYAGE TO MAGICAL NORTH by Claire Fayers Henry Holt and Company, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-62779-420-6 Middle grade speculative (Fantasy) Ages 9-12 Source: publisher for Cybils All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.

When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by s…

CYBILS FINALIST: The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore

THE MEMORY THIEF by Bryce Moore Adaptive Books, 2016 ISBN: 978-1-945293-03-0 Middle Grade Speculative (Fantasy) Source: publisher for Cybils Ages 9-12 All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Twin brother and sister Benji and Kelly wander off at the local county fair after witnessing their parents argue. When Benji runs into a group of bullies, he escapes into a tent called The Memory Emporium, where he meets a strange old man inside named Louis. The old man shows him a magically vivid memory of a fighter pilot, in the hopes of getting Benji to pay to see other memories Louis has collected from people over the years.

Benji quickly realizes the ability to take memories could help his parents stop fighting with each other, and he asks Louis to teach him how to become a memory thief. But Louis isn't the only person with the ability to show and manipulate memories. There's also the mysterious Genevieve, a Memory Thief with much more nefarious motives.

Benji learns how to m…

BLOG TOUR w/ GIVEAWAY: Spy on History--Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti & Tony Cliff

MARY BOWSER AND THE CIVIL WAR SPY RING Spy on History by Enigma Alberti & Tony Cliff Workman Publishing, 2016 ISBN: 978-0-7611-8739-4 Middle grade nonfiction Ages 8-12 Source: publisher for review All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring introduces an exciting interactive series for middle grade readers—Spy on History, where the reader gets to experience history in a whole new way.

Meet Mary Bowser, an African American spy who was able to infiltrate the Confederate leadership at the highest level. Enigma Alberti dramatizes Mary Bowser’s suspenseful story—how she pretended to be illiterate, how she masterfully evaded detection, how she used her photographic memory to “copy” critical documents.

Using spycraft materials included in a sealed envelope inside the book, a canny reader will be able to discover and unravel clues embedded in the text and illustrations, and solve the book’s ultimate mystery: Where did Mary hide her secret diary?