Tuesday, July 25, 2017

EARLY CHAPTER BOOK REVIEWS: Bobs and Tweets Perfecto Pet Show/Trouble at School for Marvin & James


Get ready for one perfecto school pet show with the Bobs and Tweets!

Dean Bob and Lou Tweet can't wait to perform in the first-ever Bonefish Street Elementary School Pet Show. They've practiced their performances over and over again, and together with their pets, they're ready to shine!

But it looks like their families, the Tweets, who are neat, and the Bobs, who are slobs, aren't going to make getting to the show easy. What will happen when the Tweets and Bobs have a showdown before the show? And what if all that fighting makes Dean Bob too nervous for his performance? Find out in another wacky family saga full of pets, school antics, and two very silly families!

This second book in the Bobs and Tweets series is filled with full-color, illustrations and high-interest rhymes that's just right for reluctant readers. It's Dr. Seuss meets Captain Underpants wrapped into one zany school adventure! So go ahead, read and laugh with the Bobs and Tweets!


Lou Tweet and Dean Bob are friends, despite coming from families who are so different. Lou is the youngest of the seven Tweets and the only one who likes to be messy and impulsive.  Dean Bob is the youngest of the seven Bobs and the only one who is neat and shy.  Despite their differences, Lou and Dean are friends who walk to school together each day.  But when their teacher announces the upcoming Pet Talent Show both kids are worried.  Lou is worried the rest of the Tweets will come and sit in the first row too early.  Dean is worried his family will make a mess and be too loud.  And on top of that Dean has a serious case of stage fright.  And indeed the day of the show, disaster strikes, and Dean and Lou need to find a way to solve the problem before the show turns into another Tweets vs. Bobs free-for-all.  This series is quite funny with it's bright, colorful illustrations.  But their is some depth here revolving around friendship and learning to get along despite major differences.  The rhyming text makes for some interesting reading as well.


In this Masterpiece Adventure, the first in a companion series for younger readers from bestselling author Elise Broach, James is going on vacation for a week. His best friend, Marvin the beetle, has to stay at home. Without James to keep him company, Marvin has to play with his annoying cousin, Elaine. Marvin and Elaine quickly find themselves getting into all sorts of trouble—even getting trapped inside a pencil sharpener! Marvin misses James and starts to worry about their friendship. Will James still be Marvin's friend when he gets home or will James have found a new best friend?


Trouble at School for Marvin and James is the third book in one of my favorite early chapter book series. In this adventure, James is heading to school and invites his friend, Marvin the beetle to come with him. Impulsively, Marvin agrees to go, wanting to see the art teacher James has been telling him about.  And at first, Marvin has a delightful time as he helps James draw in art class and rides the globe in social studies. Lunch scares Marvin a little though with the noise and all the kids that he's afraid will notice him.  When disaster strikes and he ends up in the trash, Marvin is afraid that he will never see James again.  But with the help of a new friend, maybe he can find a way to make his way back to James.  The illustrations break up the text beautifully, making the book seem shorter than it is.  James and Marvin are great, likable characters that it's easy to relate too.  The theme of mistakes sometimes leading to new learning experiences doesn't overshadow the overarching theme of friendship.  This is a great series for young readers who are ready for more difficult text but still love plentiful illustrations mixed in.

Friday, July 14, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Gabby Duran series by Elise Allen & Daryle Conners


Subject: A.L.I.E.N Associate Number 4118-25125A, A.K.A: Gabby Duran, Sitter to the Unsittables

Case File: The First Unsittable

Summary: Gabby Duran, babysitter extraordinaire and modern day Mary Poppins was on her way home from sitting for a famous action's star's rambunctious triplets when she was approached by a mysterious woman (Associate 4118-23432B) with her first mission. A babysitting job with a more lucrative rate than she'd ever received. What child could possibly be so difficult to handle? Gabby was soon trusted with the truth--aliens are living among humans on Earth. They are protected by the top-secret organization, the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors (hereby known as A.L.I.E.N). Even extraterrestrials need a sitter now and then. No one was up for the task except Gabby.

After accepting the top-secret position, Gabby is paired up with her first charge, a little alien girl named Wutt from the planet Flarknartia,who turns out to be much more than meets the eye. The timing for associate 4118-25125A is less than ideal. It's a school day on Planet Earth and Gabby's audition for the solo part in the band is tonight. Can Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, First Sitter to the Unsittables, keep her otherworldly charge safe in the unpredictable halls of middle-school and keep A.L.I.E.N hidden?


Case File: The Second Unsittable

Summary: Here at A.L.I.E.N. we believe in strengthening the bonds between humans and intergalactics so that one day all beings can live together on Earth in harmony. That day has not come. But our Associates are working hard to achieve this goal, including Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, Sitter to the Unsittables.

Upon successfully completing her first mission, we have assigned Gabby a more . . . puzzling charge. The relationship between trolls and humans has always been rife with tension, and the troll family Gabby is assigned to is especially prickly. But Gabby is not fazed. Our footage shows Associate 4118-25125A playing, laughing, and snacking with Trymmy, the little troll boy, who seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

Our liaison, Edwina, informed Gabby that trolls love nothing more than a riddle-and stealing items from unsuspecting humans to add to their trove-but Gabby's certain that all this young troll wants is to have fun. However, it might not be as simple as she thinks. After all, there's a reason this particular alien offspring has been labeled "Unsittable."


CASE FILE: The Third (and fourth and fifth and sixth . . . ) Unsittable

SUMMARY: Gabby Duran, Associate 4118-25125A, Sitter to the Unsittables, has proven herself an integral member of A.L.I.E.N.--the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors. She has amassed an impressive roster of alien clients, and is a trusted babysitter among humans and intergalactics alike. We here at A.L.I.E.N. are proud to call her one of our greatest success stories, and believe she is ready to take on more responsibility.

Which is why Gabby has now been entrusted with the care of one of our most volatile charges. His name is One and he's a member of the Tridecalleon species. While One and his parents present the appearance of a normal, human family, they have some intriguing qualities that make caring for their young a unique challenge. And while, under normal circumstances, inviting outsiders to aid an agent with an Unsittable job would be strictly forbidden, we have decided to forgive Gabby calling in her friends Satchel and Zee in this case. After all, a babysitter only has so many hands. (Unless, of course, he or she is a Flarknartian.)

Making this highly unstable situation an even greater challenge? Gabby has also been assigned to protect a very dangerous object--one that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could cause the destruction of Earth itself. It remains to be seen whether Gabby and her friends are able to handle the demands of eleven . . . wait, twelve . . . no, thirteen babies, while ensuring the safety of the world at the same time. All we can do is wait, and hope, and trust. And ready our escape pods.


There are a number of series about babysitting, the best known of which is probably The Baby Sitters Club, which I myself loved when I was younger.  But none of those series are quite like this one.  Gabby Duran is a fabulous babysitter, so much so that her clients range from ordinary middle class individuals all the way up to the President of the United States.  Everything she could possibly need she carries in her purple knapsack. Living with her caterer mother and number genius sister, Gabby's life is good, except for her annoying neighbor, Madison.  But things change dramatically when Gabby is recruited by A.L.I.E.N. to be a babysitter for alien parents disguised as regular humans.  At first this seems like just another set of jobs, until Gabby realizes that not only are her alien charges are far more work than her regular human charges, but she's put herself into the middle of a war with an organization called G.E.T.O.U.T. who wants to weed out all aliens and destroy them.

Each of the three books in the series focuses on one particular babysitting job with the accompanying difficulties.  Each charge has to be kept happy and healthy while still disguised from human discovery, while avoiding G.E.T.O.U.T. agents, one of whom may be dating her mother.  In addition, Gabby's ongoing feud with Madison in both orchestra and in the neighborhood creates an additional need for secrecy.  Each book has plenty of humor, excitement, and great babysitting suggestions (as applicable of course).  The colorful design of the books makes them that much more appealing to middle grade readers.  And of course in the third book, Gabby is given responsibility for an object that could bring worldwide disaster if it ends up in the wrong hands.  These books are delightfully exciting, amusing, and unpredictable, as long as you are more than willing to suspend disbelief a bit. ;)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS: Comics Squad Lunch!/Comics Squad Detention by various


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 characters are right here in one book, including the Peanuts gang, Babymouse, and Lunch Lady. This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—LUNCH!

Lunchtime can be fun, wild, yummy, or complete chaos! And in this second collection of comics, it is definitely hilarious.


You will never look at school lunch again after reading this short stories.  Whether it's an allergic reaction involving hallucinating classmates as food, or a World War II story about potatoes as weapons, Krosoczka and the Holms working with other talented graphic novelists have created another winning collection for young readers.  My personal favorites were Lunch Lady as a girl facing off with a bully (hurrah for a bully story where the adults aren't missing in action!) and Snoopy in charge of the cafeteria (laughed my head off). There really is something here for everyone.  Anyone who has experienced school lunch should get a kick out of these wildly unrealistic but thoroughly entertaining stories.  There is even one story written as a choose your own adventure type (you have to follow the arrows) with multiple endings.  A great addition to most graphic novel collections, but only if you want to hear children laughing.


A comics collection from some of the biggest stars in graphic novels, including Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, and Victoria Jamieson!

Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing till you get sent to the principal?!

Don t punish yourself! Read the next Comics Squad! Leave your troubles behind with this collection of quick and funny stories about many kids biggest fear detention! Sure, detention can be scary or frustrating or just plain boring, but who knew it could also be an adventure? With a disrespectful Greek god, antimatter ooze, bioengineered rats, and a school full of stampeding bulls, it is definitely full of fun!

It s a bust-your-gut-laughing comics anthology with original contributions from the most beloved and bestselling names in graphic novels!"


Never having had detention I was quite curious about how it would be depicted in these short comic format stories.  And of course all the stories are quite absurd, but thoroughly engaging and entertaining and bound to be enjoyed by many young readers.  From a student expecting detention but being made a kindergarten helper to a Lunch Lady story to a girl trying to get detention so her crush will notice her, the stories here vary widely but are all amusing.  From some of the best graphic artists currently doing children's books the reader should be able to find something he/she likes.  My favorites were the story of the girl trying to get in trouble, made difficult by a rather clueless principal, and the Holm's Squish who is thoroughly depressed by having detention.

Monday, July 10, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Beach Party Surf Monkey by Chris Grabenstein


From Chris Grabenstein, the bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and coauthor with James Patterson of I Funny, House of Robots, and Treasure Hunters, comes the second hilarious, fun-in-the-sun adventure in his new illustrated series about all the wacky things that happen when you live in a motel!

There's always something wacky happening when you live in a motel, and P.T. (named after P. T. Barnum, of course) has grown up at the world's wackiest! When word gets out that the hottest teen idols in Hollywood (plus current YouTube sensation Kevin the Monkey!) will be filming their next movie--Beach Party Surf Monkey--right in St. Pete's Beach, Florida, P.T. and his friend Gloria know that the Wonderland would be the perfect location. Now they just have to convince the producers!

But when things start to go wrong (crazed fans? missing stars?), it will take all of Gloria's business genius and P.T.'s wild stories to save the movie before both it and the Wonderland are all washed up!

BONUS: Includes fun extras like P.T. and Gloria's Famous Fact-or-Fiction Quiz: Movie Edition.


CHRIS GRABENSTEIN is the author of the New York Times bestselling The Island of Dr. Libris, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics, and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which was nominated for over 30 state awards lists!

Follower him on Twitter at @CGrabenstein, and visit him online at chrisgrabenstein.com.


Grabenstein presents readers with a very, wacky, but quite entertaining second book in the Welcome to WonderLand series.  In the first book, P.T. the son of the motel's manager and grandson of the motel's owner, seeks desperately to find a way to pay back a large loan in order to save the only home he has ever known.  With the help of his unusual grandfather and Gloria, a current resident of the motel who has brilliant business sense, P.T. sets out to earn as much money as he can over Spring break.  Through a rather unusual (read impossible) set of circumstances, P.T. and his allies succeed in saving the motel.

Now in book two, P.T. is once again tasked with saving the motel, this time from their ambitious neighbor who wants to expand his hotel onto the land where the WonderLand Motel stands.  Once again, P.T. turns to his showman sense and his friend, Gloria's business sense to save the day.  This time they bring in a movie to film at the WonderLand, hoping that this will bring the fame necessary to keep the motel booked.  But of course, the path of showbiz doesn't run smooth, misbehaving actors, a missing monkey, and a neighbor willing to sabotage P.T. best efforts.  But P.T. and Gloria aren't willing to give up just yet, but maybe they've bitten off more than they can chew.

This is the sort of book that (especially for adults) requires a serious suspension of disbelief.  But if you can manage to do that, you are in for a fun, creative ride.  P.T.'s ability to tell stories is certainly matched by Grabenstein's.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

INTERACTIVE BOOK REVIEWS: In the Jungle by Paul Boston/Under the Sea by Paul Boston


Choose your mode of transport and set off on an adventure that will take you all the way across a fantasy world. Can you navigate huge roundabouts with sleeping sea dragons, or cross bridges guarded by gorillas? Negotiate pesky road obstructions by solving the math problems correctly. Pick up hidden objects, collect bonus points, and use your mapping skills to zoom backward and forward through the book. Incredibly busy and colorful artwork will delight young children, and once they reach their objective, readers can absorb themselves in all sorts of bonus math activities.


This book provides so much more than just search and find fun.  Each picture is part of a bigger map and is given coordinates (e.x. D,1).  There are also opportunities to practice counting, critical thinking, recognizing shapes, and telling time.  This is a kind of book that can be enjoyed time and time again with young readers completing different activities each time.  In addition, there is a lot here to talk about as parent/reader to child.  This interactive book is both educational and enjoyable. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and appealing.


Choose your mode of transport and set off on an adventure that will take you all the way across a fantasy world. Can you navigate huge roundabouts with sleeping sea dragons, or cross bridges guarded by gorillas? Negotiate pesky road obstructions by solving the math problems correctly. Pick up hidden objects, collect bonus points, and use your mapping skills to zoom backward and forward through the book. Incredibly busy and colorful artwork will delight young children, and once they reach their objective, readers can absorb themselves in all sorts of bonus math activities.


Under the Sea is not the usual search and find book.  In addition to giving young readers objects to search for, the book also encourages readers to answer math, map, and problem solving questions along the way.  There is even an element of 'choose your own adventure' to the book as well. On each page, the reader gets to choose which paths to take to accomplish the objectives mentioned for that page, that includes deciding which exit to take.  Different exits send the reader to different pages, so the book doesn't necessarily have to be read in order except at the beginning and the end.  This book can be read and enjoyed many different ways making it a book to return to again and again.

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