Archive | September, 2011

Today is Stan Berenstain’s Birthday (September 29, 1923 – November 26, 2005)

29 Sep

Jan and Stan Berenstain

September 29th  is Stan Berenstain’s birthday. The series he wrote with his wife (Jan Berenstain), The Berenstain Bears is one of my favorite for when I was younger…OK I still pick up our copy of  “The Bike Lesson” every now and again -it’s just funny!

I read A LOT of Berenstain Bears books when I was really little. They were always nice stories and all the characters were nice and kind. I like how the books always showed troubles like between brother and sister or with friends but there was always a happy ending, which are great messages for little kids. The pictures were always bright and fun to look at.

Now there is a Berenstain Bears website where you can do all sorts of activities like games, coloring pages and see videos. You can go there by clicking HERE .

What was your favorite Berenstain Bear book?

Children’s Book Authors are the Nicest People on Earth (and maybe other planets too)!

27 Sep

As you know, I’m just a kid. I’m not an official reporter or anything. I just blog about what I love and that is BOOKS and READING! I’m really glad that the authors I have met so far have been very happy, no, REALLY happy to talk to a kid about their books and writing. Thank you to all the authors that have taken time to answer my questions. All you authors are creating awesome worlds for kids to learn about and great stories to get lost in. It’s really cool that you will make school visits, respond to emails and make bookstore visits to talk to us kids.

FOR INSTANCE – I just got back from a double book signing at Children’s Book World (a GREAT independent bookstore in Haverford, PA -click HERE to go to their site). There were two super children’s book authors there! Authors Brandon Mull and  Matt Myklusch were there talking about the books they wrote, their ideas and what they were like when they were our age.

Brandon Mull wrote the “Fablehaven” series and was promoting his newest series “Beyonders”. The first book in the Beyonders series came out this year and it is called “A World Without Heroes”. Mr. Mull talked about how he came up with ideas for the story (like how he made the characters go through a hippopotamus’ mouth to get into Lyrian, the world in the Beyonders). In Beyonders Mr. Mull made up his own myths and mythical creatures whereas in Fablehaven he used myths that already existed like centaurs. I read some very positive reviews of “A World Without Heroes” -Beyonders Book 1 and I can’t wait to get reading it! Mr. Mull also said he has the other two books of the Beyonders trilogy already written but we have to wait until March 2012 for the second book (Seeds of Rebellion) and I’m not sure how long for the third… not fair!! You can learn  more about Mr. Mull and his books at his website by clicking HERE.

Matt Myklusch was promoting the second book in the Jack Blank Adventures, “The Secret War” AND if you haven’t read my reviews of his two books…why not?… Just kidding. But if you are interested click HERE for my review of The Accidental Hero (book 1) and click HERE for my review of The Secret War. PLUS Mr. Myklusch sent me this totally cool artwork to give away on my blog and the contest is going on now! Click HERE to read how to enter. Mr. Myklusch talked about what kind of comic books he liked to read when he was my age (basically ALL of them :) ) Mr. Myklusch draws pictures of the characters he makes up and you can see some of them on his website by clicking HERE. He told us kids that he wanted to draw superheros for Marvel comics as a job but he found out that he couldn’t just send in his drawings, that there had to be a story first. Well he had the Jack Blank story going on in his head and so he started writing it.

Mr. Mull and Mr. Myklusch answered a bunch of questions from all the kids at the event. They took their time to talk to each of us when we went through the line to get our books signed. They even put up with me going back a couple of times to ask them more questions (THANKS!). It’s nice to know that these authors of books that kids love are really nice guys!

I Convinced My Parents To Take Me To The National Book Festival

26 Sep

I don’t know about you, but I convinced my parents to take me and my sister to the National Book Festival on Sunday (September 26th). THANKS MOM AND DAD!!  The festival was on the 25th and 26th this year in Washington DC on the National Mall right between the Capital Building and the Washington Monument. There was a ton of things to do for kids and adults. For adults, there were lectures and book signings from authors, poetry readings and lectures about the Library of Congress. Because I’m a kid I’ll let you know about the things there were to do for children. We spent the entire day at the festival (OK we did sneak in a trip to the Air and Space Smithsonian…it’s too cool to miss).

Story time with Miss International Ciji Dodds

Mr. Chris Draft gets us kids ready to move!

First, it was just great to be there! I saw all sorts of people from all over the world, gathered together for one thing…BOOKS! Isn’t it cool how people can come together to enjoy the same thing? The festival didn’t open until 1pm on Sunday but there was a pre-event called “Let’s Read, Let’s Move!” hosted by former NFL player Chris Draft. Mr. Draft started the Chris Draft Family Foundation in 2006 because he wanted to promote the idea that families should have healthier life styles. Mr. Draft just published his first children’s book in 2010 titled “Do You Want To Play Catch?” Mr. Draft seemed like the perfect person to host this event! First there was a story time where all the kids gathered around and had a story read to them by a representative from the festival and by Miss International, Ciji Dodds. After we kids heard a good story, Mr. Draft got us up and MOVING (I actually broke a sweat). He had us run shuttles, sprints and other relay type races. The work out made me ready to go take on the rest of the festival! One thing I did like that Mr. Draft said was that the NFL players spend more time in the classroom reading and studying then actually playing. He said it is important that we kids balance both things.

Our next stop was The Magic School Bus! It was cool that they actually had a bus you could walk through. Inside the bus there was a bunch of educational displays on things like volcanos, bugs, the human body and planets. When you came out of the bus all the kids got a Magic School Bus book and guess who was there to sign them?!? Ms. Frizzle! OK, I know it was a lady dressed up to look like Ms. Fizzle, but it was still fun and my little sister thought it was REALLY Ms. Frizzle. Ms. Frizzle had on one of her strange dresses. This one had planets all over them.

We headed over to the PBS kids tent where you could see Clifford, Sid the Science Kid, Martha from Martha Speaks, a Honker from Sesame Street and Princess Presto from Super Why. I had my picture taken with the Honker, my sister chose Princess Presto. Inside the tent was all sorts of games and activities having to do with reading, words and letters and science.

The “Lets Read America”  pavilion had a lot to do in it for kids. First we saw a giant penguin from Penguin Publishing and of course we had to get a picture with it :) Wells Fargo had a nice story time area with cushions for kids to sit around a model of a stagecoach while the story tellers read. We stayed to hear 2 stories here. The first was a coloring book story about a dog named Jack. Jack was a guard dog for gold shipments that traveled from the mining camps to the Wells Fargo banks. The second story was titled “Stagecoach Sal” by Deborah Hopkinson. The story is based on a real-life person, the only woman to ever carry the US mail on a stagecoach. The man that was telling the story was dressed up like a person from that time period. The book had sing-along parts to it. The man telling the story was an AWESOME story-teller and singer (my Dad said he really enjoyed the story too). All the kids in the audience got a copy of the “Jack” coloring book AND the “Stagecoach Sal” book! There were arts and crafts in the tent and people from the RIF reading program. We got a kit to make up your own story book. What was really cool was that we saw THE Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Hadley Billington. How cool was it that he was walking around with the rest of us? Dr. Billington is the 13th Librarian at the Library of Congress since it opened in 1800. He has been THE Librarian since 1987. That’s him in the red tie in the picture :o

There were other tents that had a family storytelling and music. One area had a reading nook with bean bag chairs rockers and other comfortable places to sit and read. There were all sorts of book available in the area so you could take a rest and read a bit. We headed over to the Library of Congress tent and I talked to one of the librarians there. She told me that the Book Festival has been going on since 2000 so this is the 11th year for it. She was nice and showed me the Library of Congress website and told me I could look up how many people came to the festival on the site when they posted the information. I also talked to another librarian and she said she’s been volunteering at the event for the past 5 years and she really likes doing it. Here’s a fact for you! I’m kind of my class librarian. It is my job to make sure the books are neat and put away in my classroom at school :)

There was also a HUGE tent where you could buy books. There was every book you could imagine there (and it was very crowded so we didn’t spend much time in it).

Author Eric Wight (Frankie Pickle books)

My last stop was to get my Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace (my favorite Frankie Pickle book) book signed by Eric Wight. Mr. Wight was SUPER nice and kind and it seemed like he had a good sense of humor! He drew a couple pictures in the book where he signed it. He also signed my National Book Festival poster and drew a Frankie Pickle on it.  I wanted to stay and get my poster signed by Michael Buckley (N.E.R.D.S. author), but **sob** he wasn’t going to start signing books for another hour and a half and we had a LONG drive home. Well, at least I had a lot of time in the car to write this.

So to summarize, WE HAD A GREAT DAY and I hope my parents bring me next year!

National Book Festival This Weekend!

24 Sep

What are you doing this weekend?

The National Book Festival in Washington DC takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Library of Congress. There are all sorts of events for adults and kids and great opportunity to meet authors and get a book or two or three signed!

Click on the poster to go to the event website.

Now, excuse me while I try to convince my parents to take me ;)

Is it just me?

23 Sep

 

Is it just me? Or is anyone else out there really excited about “The Son of Neptune” coming out October 4th – just 11 days???!!! I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT!! IT LOOKS SO AWESOME!! I saw this post on Mr. Riordan’s blog. HE HAS THE BOOK!! Click HERE to read the whole post at Mr. Riordan’s blog. Plus there is a whole week celebration called Olympian Week where Mr. Riordan will make appearances and there’s lots of cool stuff to do. You can see the schedule of events of Olympian Week click HERE. There are events like dressing up as your favorite character from the series. Who’s your favorite character?

2 Book Reviews! Floors and Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

21 Sep

For those of you who missed the write-up about Patrick Carman visiting my local book store, you can find it by clicking HERE!

Floors
By Patrick Carman
272 Pages / Ages 9+
Published in September 2011 by Scholastic Press

The Whippet Hotel is an unusual place to stay and Leo (the maintenance man’s son) finds it’s a REALLY unusual place to live. Every floor of the hotel is something different. There are secret rooms, secret floors and a lot of unusual guests (including ducks). The whole place is a maze! Mr. Whippet (the owner) and Leo become friends and Leo loves living in and exploring the strange hotel.

The Whippet Hotel

When Mr. Whippet unexpectedly disappears, even stranger things happen at the hotel and the building starts to fall apart.  Leo finds clues around the hotel. Clues that someone is leaving him in boxes. Clues that can help Leo save the Whippet Hotel if he can solve them.

I thought this story was AWESOME from the beginning to the end. The Whippet Hotel is just cool (my favorite room is the pinball room) and Mr. Carman’s story really gave me a good idea of what it would be like to live there. I really got into the story. The book is exciting because of the mystery in the story and also some of the rooms (like the train room) were very cool to read about. Leo is good main character. He is very likeable. My favorite character though was Merganzer Whippet the owner of the hotel. You learn a lot about him even when his character is missing! The book would be great for young advanced readers because there’s no real scary parts and no violence. This has to be one of the best stories I have read this year!

I give Floors 5 out of 5 book worms!

Skeleton Creek (Book 1)
By Patrick Carman
Ages 12+ (9+ if you don’t get nightmares!) / 144 Pages
Published in 2009 by Scholastic Press

Ryan and Sarah are best friends. They live in a boring town that used to be a busy gold-mining town. The only thing interesting about the place is it’s name, Skeleton Creek. Really the town became Skeleton Creek not too long ago (in 1959), it used to be called Linkford. Sarah and Ryan decide to do some investigating to find out why the town had it’s name changed. What they found was a mystery. Weird things started to happen in Skeleton Creek and the friend’s investigation leads them to a haunted, abandoned gold mining dredge. When they decide to investigate the dredge (at night), Ryan falls and breaks his leg. Ryan and Sarah’s parents tell them they can’t be friends any longer and forbid them to talk but Ryan and Sarah send secret notes back and forth and continue to uncover the mystery of the dredge and Skeleton Creek. Ryan continues to do research online at home and keeps a journal of his findings while Sarah records her findings by video. What they find is that there is something on the dredge that someone doesn’t want them to find and they can’t trust anyone in the town of Skeleton Creek.

I really like how the book is part video (Sarah’s video records) and part written (Ryan’s Journal -there are pass codes in the book that unlock the videos online). The fact that you have to go to a website to watch the video to get parts of the story is a cool idea for putting some technology into reading. I also like how you are getting the story from 2 different kids. I like Ryan’s character a lot. He is a good detective. I am not really fond of super scary books. This book is VERY creepy but not overly scary plus the mystery of Skeleton Creek and the investigating that Ryan and Sarah do really makes a great story. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger kids who get scared easily (especially a couple of the videos –my Mom even got scared at them). The book ends in a cliff hanger but don’t worry there are four book in total in the series and they are all out ready to be read (and watched)!

When I started reading this book I didn’t know what a dredge was and I was thinking it was some ground digging machine kind of like a giant tractor with some mean digging blades and I didn’t think a haunted tractor was to scary…but then I looked up what a gold dredge machine was online and found that the dredges are HUGE like the size of 2 houses!

Then make it abandoned and at night and WOW that’s scary!

 

I give Skeleton Creek four out of five book worms!

To learn more about Mr. Carman and his books, click HERE!

Author Patrick Carman Visits My Local Bookstore!

20 Sep

I had a great evening yesterday at the Harleysville Bookstore. Mr. Patrick Carman was not only signing his newest books, but he also talked about being a writer and writing books! He answered lots of questions, not only from kids, but adults, too! I get pretty nervous when I talk to the authors of books I read (especially authors of books I REALLY like) but Mr. Carman was VERY nice and he seemed to really want to talk to us kids! First Mr. Carman told us about writing books and suggested that a lot of times authors write about things that happen to them in real life or memories they have from when they were younger. Mr. Carman’s latest book, Floors, is an example of how he took things he remembered from growing up and books that he read and turned them into a story of his own! He then took questions from the audience and there were some great questions from the crowd! Some of the questions (Q) and answers (A) are listed below. Just a note -Mr. Carman’s answers aren’t exact quotes (I couldn’t write that fast!) but they are pretty close.
Q: I’ve read Black Circle from the 39 clues, Skeleton Creek and now Floors. Do you have a favorite book you wrote?
A: It’s always the book I’m writing now. Once I finish a book I never really look at it again because I know the story. It is the next book that is my favorite.
Mr. Carman took a lot of time
to talk to each kid in line.
Q: How did you get the idea for Floors?
A: I got it from one of my favorite books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and from seeing unusual hotels I remembered as a child. We would stay in some weird hotels and I would sneak around them and I always thought there were hidden rooms in the hotels.
Q: Your book Floors has a lot of ducks in it. What is with all the ducks?
A: I remember seeing the Parade of the Ducks at the Piedmont Hotel. They actually have ducks that live on the roof of the hotel. Plus I think Ducks have great comedic timing (OK my Mom had to explain what comedic timing was, now I get it HA HA) and “duck” and “quack” are really funny words that I can use in the story if I use ducks. Most books have dogs or cats in them. Why not ducks?
Q: Did you draw the Whippet Hotel on the back of the book?
A: I had the idea of what the hotel looked like in my head.  I am not a very good artist but I gave the illustrator the best drawing I could do.
Then Mr. Carman did something really cool! He took out his laptop and showed us his original artwork for the Whippet Hotel and then showed how it was transformed into

Mr. Carman shows us his original drawing of the Whippet Hotel in Floors

the drawing for the book by the illustrator. He also showed us his original drawings for the awesome world in Atherton and  the land of Five Stone Pillars from the Land of Elyon! It was neat to see how authors and illustrators work together.
Q: What is your favorite type of genre of book and what were your favorite books growing up?
A: Mysteries. I always write mysteries, and I love to read mysteries. I loved all the Dr. Seuss books growing up. I liked Where The Wild Things Are when I was a kid, but I don’t think it has the same effect on me as an adult so he (meaning Maurice Sendak, author) really tapped into what kids like but maybe adults don’t. My most favorite book is Frankenstein.

Mr. Carman signed a lot of books!

Q: How long does it take to write a book?
A: It depends on what book it is. For me, it takes about 6 months –  1 year for the 1st book in a series and it could take less time for the other books in the series.
Then I asked Mr. Carman about how he mixes reading with video in books like The Skeleton Creek Series and his new Series 3:15. If you don’t know what I mean, both these series are books, but in the books there are codes to go online to see videos that carry the story on. Then you go back to reading. I’ve seen books with online games (like The 39 Clues, which is cool) but not where they combine reading with videos like this. Mr. Carman said he developed the idea because he wanted to get kids who don’t usually like to read into reading and he thought combining video and written words would help. I think the Skeleton Creek series is great (read my review of it tomorrow :) and I am not a kid who avoids reading, but I can see how all kids would stay interested in the story! Mr. Carman’s new series 3:15 (stands for 1. Listen 2. Read 3. Watch for 15 minutes) is a bunch of creepy short-stories where you have to go online to WATCH the end of the story. I picked up 2 signed copies at the book signing. 1 for me and 1 to GIVE AWAY IN OCTOBER! What a cool Halloween give away! Watch for it :o !

To learn more about Mr. Carman and his books please visit his website by clicking HERE!

THANKS MR. CARMAN!!!

Tomorrow I will post a double review! Mr. Carman’s new book Floors AND Skeleton Creek!

ARRR! Tis Be a Bonny Book Review For International Talk Like a Pirate Day -Today!

19 Sep

 

Avast me hearties! September  19th is International Talk Like  A Pirate Day. Arrr! Shiver me timbers! I’ve been saving this reviews for just this day! Pirate Penguins? SURE but who ever heard of a scallywag chicken being a Ninja? Arrr. Me matey Ray Friesen did! That Scurvy Dog Friesen wrote and illustrated tis book! I did an interview with this gentleman o’ fortune about the importance of comic books in getting kids to read. Click HERE to read it or I’ll keelhaul you!

Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken -The Troublems with Frienemies.

Ray Friesen -Author and Illustrator
Published in 2011 by Top Shelf Productions
96 pages -Ages 9+

Pirate Penguin Vs. Ninja Chicken is a collection of silly comics. Tis book be about two frenemies (sometimes friends and sometimes enemies) fighting over hilarious things like smoothies. You’ll be thinkin’ the illustrations are colorful and as nice to look at as a squadron of lilly-livered scallywags being sent to meet Davy Jones ARRR! Follow Pirate Penguin and Ninja Chicken on their swashbucklin’ adventures. There are also some cool activities in the back of the book.

To learn more about Ray Friesen and his books visit his website by clicking HERE or I’ll make you walk the plank. ARRR!

I think I’ll add this book to the booty in my treasure chest!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK WITH A PIRATE IN IT?

Book Review: The Secret War (A Jack Blank Adventure) and an AWESOME contest to win original artwork!

16 Sep

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED!! I AM POSTING THE WINNER LATER TODAY (OCTOBER 8TH)! GOOD LUCK!!

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS GIVE-AWAY!

Matt Myklusch, author of the Jack Blank Adventures series (The Accidental Hero and The Secret War SEE my REVIEW of this book below!) has generously given me a SIGNED,  ORIGINAL drawing he did, based on his awesome books, to give away to a lucky reader! Check it out!

Jack vs Revile (7.5"x11")

HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?

All you have to do to enter the contest is comment in the comment section of this post and have an address I can send your prize to! I will draw the winner from all the comments. If you are under 18, make sure you ask your parents if it is OK to enter. Remember to include a working email address so I can email you if you win. Only one entry per email address. The contest opens NOW and will close on October 7th. I will pick the lucky winner on the 8th and email them to get the address to send their prize to. GOOD LUCK!

Now for my review!

The Secret War (Jack Blank Adventure)

By Matt Myklusch

544 Pages – Ages 9+

Published August 2011 by Aladdin

Just a short time ago, Jack didn’t know who he was or where he belonged or why he could do things other kids couldn’t. That was before Jack realized he was actually from The Imagine Nation. The Imagine Nation is the place where superheroes live and are trained. Jack has now made his home here and is now an official superhero in training. He is learning how to use his power -he can control machines -even talk to them! Everyone in the Imagine Nation thinks Jack is the biggest celebrity there ever was because he defeated the evil warrior, Revile. Well… almost everyone. There are some in the Imagine Nation that are working hard to find out Jack’s secrets, secrets that may destroy him.

Jack uncovers a plot for a second Rüstov invasion (Rüstovs are aliens that can take over humans and machines and want to control the whole world). He realizes he has to tell his friends about his connection to Revile and hope that they still trust him and help him stop the invasion. If that wasn’t enough trouble, one of the Imagine Nation’s Secreteers (the Secreteers are agents in charge of keeping all of the Imagine Nation’s secrets) got infected with the Rüstov virus and is giving away all of the secrets of The Imagine Nation, including Jack’s! Can Jack and his friends stop the invasion and save The Imagine Nation? 

The Secret War starts off a year later from where The Accidental Hero left off. I did a guest review of The Accidental Hero on Michelle Isenhoff’s blog, Bookworm Blather, and you can read it HERE. I really liked The Accidental Hero and The Secret War was EVEN BETTER! The Imagine Nation is an amazing place and Mr. Myklusch’s description of it really gives you an idea of what it looks like and what it’s like to live in it. There is a lot that goes on in the plot of the book but it’s easy to follow and the story really keeps you interested. There were cool new characters introduced in this book like Lorem Ipsum and Trea and of course favorite characters from the first book coming back like Skerren and Stendeval. This action-packed book is just fun to read! I can’t wait for the third book!

To learn more about Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation visit the Jack Blank website by clicking HERE.

I give The Secret War five out of five book worms!

You can now LIKE me on Facebook!

15 Sep

You can now follow my blog on Facebook click HERE to like me :) (or the button on the right side bar).

The content of the Facebook page (like my blog) is monitored for appropriate content (a message from my parents ;) ).

THANKS FOR READING!!

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