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Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Review – The Call of Distant Drums by William Pisani

26 Jan

Tomorrow is the second annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I am a MCCBD reviewer! WOO!

#WeNeedDiverseBooks

MCCBD was created “to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature.”  Make sure to read to the end of my review to see how you can participate!

multicultural-book-mcbookday-white-21-300x234

I got to review and AMAZING book for MCCBD! I am very happy to tell you about it.

Ththecalle Call of Distant Drums

By William Pisani

212 pages – ages 8-12+

Published by JoNa Books Publishing Company on September 1, 2005

Synopsis- From the back of the book: “The fierce Blackfoot — Blood. Never defeated in battle by the white man. But how much longer could they continue to roam free in the ancestral lands they had long held sacred.”

What I Liked- This is not a book of action. This is a book of reflection and thoughts. Sure, there is still action, but what makes this book wonderful is that it inspires pondering within you. The main character is an elderly Native American who had become adopted into the Blackfoot tribe when his people were marched to a reservation but he had escaped. Now that his life is almost done, and because his family has passed on, he has decided to migrate back to his homelands, like the spawning salmon. The story reflects his traveling and facing spirits in his way. Along the way, the man thinks back upon his life. I found the book overall just incredible. Mr. Pisani’s writing style draws you into the mind of the main character. The story  is compelling and is very believable and seems to be very well researched. Mr. Pisani captures the feel of the Native American nations and their beliefs. He shares their heart-break over the loss of their tribal lands. The story is very moving. I think that kids 8+ would like the book, but to really appreciate the story, I’d recommend it to kids 12 and older.

This is an example of a book where I wish my rating scale went higher.fivebooks

Here are some ways you can help us celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day: 

  • Visit The Multicultural Children’s Book Day website and view the book lists, reading resources and other useful multicultural information.
  • Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board for more reading ideas.
  • Have children bring in their favorite multicultural book to school on this day and share it with the class.
  • Watch for the #ReadYourWorld hashtag on social media and share. They are hosting a Twitter party! Join them on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages.
  • Visit the Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents on their website.
  • Visit MCCBD sponsors. You can find them HERE
  • Connect with them on their new Facebook and Twitter  pages.

MCCBD SPONSORS:

Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop

Gold SponsorsSatya House,  MulticulturalKids.com,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof

Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing

Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,   Chronicle Books,   Muslim Writers Publishing,   East West Discovery Press

Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is hosting a book giveaway on their website that anyone can enter! The winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice!

Visit the Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board!

You can subscribe to a newsletter about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, too!

Don’t forget to check out the Multicultural Children’s Book Day blog (click HERE to go THERE)!

MAKE SURE TO JOIN THE TWITTER PARTY ! Join the party and win book packages! Join us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm EST. Use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages! This Twitter Party is hosted by Co-Founders Mia Wenjen (@Pragmaticmom) and Valarie Budayr (@JumpIntoaBook1). You can review the Twitter Party Prizes on the MCCBD blog here.

Review! Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

24 Jan

stellaStella By Starlight

By Sharon M. Draper

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on January 6, 2015

Synopsis- The year is 1932. Stella and her family are African-Americans living in a segregated southern town. Stella loves her family, her community and her schools, but isn’t comfortable with being second class because of her skin color. When the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is spotted doing a ritual near Stella’s house, Stellla’s community does everything they can to stay under the KKK’s radar. But when a conversation in church results in bringing up the fact that there is a chance for African American’s to vote, some of the men in Stella’s community go to sign up. And that’s when the KKK starts acting up. Stella decides to take a stand.

What I Liked- This is a marvelous historical fiction novel set in the segregated south. The description of the time and place brought vivid pictures to my mind. Ms. Draper really transports you into the story, and you can feel the strength of Stella’s community. It just makes you want to smile. Stella is a great main character whom you care greatly about and really understand her feelings. Stella is loosely based on Ms. Draper’s grandmother.  I like the addition of Stella’s journal writings in the book, with misspelled words slashed through, and when she was typing, some simple mistakes on the typewriter, etc. It is an incredible authentic touch to the story, and it brought out Stella’s character even more. The story has great historical information about segregation and the civil rights movement. Ms. Draper has packaged an incredible history lesson in a captivating story.

I give “Stella By Starlight” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Camp Bad Guy Episode 1: The Worst Kids in the World by Ellis Weiner

22 Jan

campbadCamp Bad Guy Episode 1: The Worst Kids in the World

By Ellis Weiner

131 pages – ages 11+

Published by Frederator Books, LLC  on October 13, 2014

Synopsis: Jim Goode is a… Good kid. So why are his parents forcing him to come to Camp Bad Guy? It’s a summer camp that trains kids to be the world’s next dictators, supervillains, and just plain psychos! They’re encouraged to steal, cheat, trick, etc. And Jim is honest! After arriving at camp, Jim starts wondering if he really knows his parents after all. How will a good kid survive at Camp Bad Guy?

What I Liked: This book was awesome! It creates a new world that you will love and hate at the same time! I like how the descendants of the villains come from villains that are “real” (one of the counselors is James Bond’s best enemy’s grandson), while others are just made up for the book, like The Chuckler (the camp director), but are very creative. The story is hilarious and just a blast to read. The humor can be a bit edgy – like there is a class titled –  “How to Make Sure a Person is Drowning” and “Junior Life-Taking” (a play on life saving) – but – hey, it’s Camp BAD Guy! It’s the same kind of snarky humor in Mr. Weiner’s Templeton Twins.  There are a few minor cuss words (mostly “D***”). This stuff isn’t that bad, but I know some parents won’t like that for younger kids. Mr. Weiner’s story-telling abilities shine through in the book. I really liked the main character, Jim.

I give Camp Bad Guy five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

REVIEW! Tombquest: Book of The Dead by Michael Northrop

19 Jan

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS ONE!

tomb

Tombquest: Book of The Dead

By Michael Northrop

197 pages (ARC)- ages 9+

Published by Scholastic on January 27, 2015

Synopsis: You know that life isn’t good when you’re 12 and you’re gonna die. The doctors don’t know what disease you have and they can’t help you. That’s Alex Sennefer’s life. That is, until his archaeologist/museum curator mom (think Indiana Jones – she works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art) finds the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and uses it to bring Alex back from the dead (he had been dead for 10 seconds). Great, right?  Well now a bunch of strange stuff is going on – museum mummies changing positions, strange weather patterns – and an ancient cult rising. The Death Walkers threaten everything in the world and Alex (and his best friend, Ren (who is a girl)) have to stop them.

What I Liked: This is a great start to a new series. There are 5 books planned for the series with the last one being published in March or April of 2016. Unlike Scholastic’s other multiplatform series, Tombquest will be written by just Mr. Northrop (the other series have different authors writing different books). Multiplatform means there is an online game to go with the books. I think that’s cool and a way to bring kids into reading when they may not be so interested in reading. Mr. Northrop really built up a great story. Alex is a great character, and Ren really reminds me of one of my classmates. The beginning of the book is a bit tense because Alex is always sick, but it builds up for the adventure that is going to happen. The book is non-stop action-packed. The dialogue was hilarious and very realistic. Plus, the online game (see it HERE) for it is really cool!

screenshotThe game is easy to use and appropriate for kids. It requires a Scholastic account (free to sign up for). I think it would have been better to have an example of the game on the main page so kids and parents could read what it is about before signing into it, but that’s only a minor point. The graphics are very cool. You can build your own tomb and raid others’. It is a nice compliment to the book.

I like how there are lots of little touches in the book – like the chapters are numbered with Egyptian numbers and there is an Egyptian alphabet in the back of the book.  Mr. Northrop wrote a great adventure with a satisfying ending but left a ton of questions  and plenty to write about in the next book. I am looking forward to the next adventure!

I give “Book of The Dead” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Want to know more? Check out Mr. Northrop’s website HERE or Scholastic’s website HERE.

Review! Galaxy’s Most Wanted by John Kloepfer

15 Jan

galaxysGalaxy’s Most Wanted

By John Kloepfer

Illustrated by Nick Edwards

224 pages – ages 9+

Published by HarperCollins on July 22, 2014

Synopsis- Kevin Brewer and his science camp friends (Tara, Warner, and TJ) are at the best STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Camp in America. Basically it’s a science summer camp for nerds. Alexander Russ has won the Invention Convention (a competition) four years in a row, and Kevin isn’t going to give up yet! It doesn’t help that Alexander is a snobby rich kid. So, to beat him, Kevin and the other Extraordinary Terrestials (Kevin’s team) must do the impossible! Getting their idea from a comic book, they decide to make a Galactascope – a device that can communicate with aliens! To their surprise – no one really expected it – an actual alien, named Mim, responds, and appears through the sky! But what if Mim isn’t all that he seems?

What I Liked- I LOVED THIS BOOK! The world that Mr. Kloepfer creates is pretty much my heaven – nerd science camp – with aliens! And just plain cool stuff! The plot is really good! I like how there is a great plot twist in it that was somewhat unexpected (when it happens, it feels like there is no foreshadowing, but after thinking back, I realized that there was). The characters were believable, and very realistic. Kevin is a normal geeky nerd. So are his friends. It is really cool how they all have a specialty. Looking forward to reading book 2!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Terror of The Southlands by Caroline Carlson

30 Dec

veryhonThe Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: The Terror of The Southlands (Book 2)

By Caroline Carlson

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by HarperCollins on September 9, 2014

Synopsis- [From the Jacket Flap] Hilary Westfield is a pirate. In fact, she’s the Terror of the Southlands! She’s daring, brave, fearless, and… in a rut. Maybe she hasn’t found any treasure lately. And maybe she isn’t fighting off as many scallywags as she’d like. But does that mean she and her loyal crew (including a magical gargoyle) deserve to be kicked out of the ranks of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates?

But when the Enchantress of the North goes missing (presumed kidnapped), and the Queen’s Inspectors are doing a terrible job, it seems like the Enchantress has only one chance of rescue – the Terror of the Southlands and her crew! But what if rescuing a friend isn’t considered a very piratey thing to do?

What I Liked- This is the second book in the “The Nearly Honorable League of Pirates” series. I enjoyed the first book, “Magic Marks the Spot”, very much. For all who like a moderate fantasy with the lure of daring pirates and and snarky High Society (rich people) families, this series is for you! Hilary is a daring girl who is crossing boundaries by being one of the first female pirates ever (and she’s good at it too!). Hilary is a good role model for young girls (except those in High Society, of course). She thinks cleverly and quickly. I especially like her companion, Gargoyle. He was always a source of humor to me. The action on this book never stops, and you can’t put the book down! I read this in 2 sittings (as in, I had to go to bed sometime… But then I finished it in the morning. :) )! Ms. Carlson is a marvelous author, and, after meting her, I determined she is a very nice lady. The book is very fun to read as well. There are letters, pages from newspapers, etc. (all fictional) from the characters (and their associates) between almost every chapter (if not all). Those were a great touch!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt

23 Dec

rhymeschemerRhyme Schemer

By K.A. Holt

176 pages (hardcover) – ages 10+

Published by Chronicle Books on October 14, 2014

Synopsis- Kevin Jamison is a bully. And the entire school knows it. But when Kevin’s jerk of a brother, Petey, chucks Kevin’s poetry notebook (the whole book before that point) through the car window, a kid that Kevin had been bullying, Robin, finds the notebook. Now Robin is using it to blackmail Kevin and Kevin has to do everything Robin says. Now Robin begins to bully Kevin and Kevin is powerless. What’s even worse, is that the teacher is turning  a blind eye to the situation! What can Kevin do?

What I Liked- Even though Kevin isn’t a good kid, you still end up falling in love with his character. His plight, while well-deserved, is still unjust. It is sad that Kevin’s teacher does nothing at all. Ms. Holt has written a wonderful novel-in-verse that tugs at your heart-strings. Kevin goes through a huge character change from start to end. I like the touch of the “ripped-page poetry” that Kevin does being present in this book. They were pretty funny and creative. Mrs. Little, the school librarian, is a cool character and is the librarian that every school should have. (well, any librarian is good. But she’s a good role model.) :) The point-of-view of the story is unique – from the bully’s view, and how he gets bullied. It kept me interested.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Frostborn by Lou Anders

15 Dec

thronesandbonesFrostborn

By Lou Anders

Series Throne and Bones

336 pages – ages 8+

Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on August 5, 2014

Summary- Karn Korlundsson hates the farming life and the fact that he is to become hauld (head leader) of the traveling farm village he lives him. He wants to see the world. Thianna is half-giant, half-human. She is content to stay in her frost giant village, and she strives to be excepted. It is hard being half the height of every giant around her, you know! When dangers arise for the the two of them, they happen to meet up and band together. Thus begins the journey of a life-time for the small boy and the giant girl. They are chased by draugs (evil undead people) and evil female warriors riding winged reptiles. Will these two misfits survive?

What I Liked- As a fan of Norse mythology, I am a huge fan of this book, and its Nordic-like setting and lore. The frost-giants are just plain cool. Literally. I like the fact that there is a tough (7′) female protagonist, along with a short boy who can’t even swing a sword. They were great opposites in characters. The Nordic legends are a wonderful touch, and I can’t help but want more. Mr. Anders has written a fine book. His style is a spot-on epic fantasy for middle-graders, with tons of humor, friendship, and adventure. I can’t wait for the next book, especially after that dang-blasted awesome cliffhanger that makes me both happy and angry! (happy that there will be another book, angry (or maybe sad) that I will have to wait)

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Gifts from the Enemy by Trudy Ludwig

11 Dec

giftsfromGifts from the Enemy

By Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Craig Orback

32 pages – ages 8+

Published by White Cloud Press on June 17, 2014

Opening – “There are those who say that what I’ve lived through never happened. But I’m here to tell you that it did. My name is Alter Wiener and I am an ordinary person with an extraordinary past.

Synopsis- from the inside jacket – “In this true and moving story, Alter Wiener, a teen survivor of five Nazi prison camps during WW II, transports young readers back in time when an unexpected person demonstrated moral courage in repeated acts of kindness toward him.

What I Liked- This was a very well-written, important book. It deals with a very harsh topic in an amazing way. The story is enough for younger  kids to understand the horror of the Holocost and the suggested activities, glossary, discussion questions and information included in the back of the book is a great addition for older kids.  The fact that a female German helps Alter is very dangerous, and the fact that she didn’t have to do it and risked her life doing it, makes Alter (and the reader) all the more grateful for the act. This story is written from Alter Weiner’s point of view as a holocaust survivor and is incredibly moving. The illustrations are stunning. The story is kind of sweet, in a very sad way. It shows how terrible people can be, and yet how wonderful too.

I give this wonderful book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Patricia Tilton reviewed and nominated this book as a perfect picture book. Check her review out HERE

Want to learn more? Check out Ms. Ludwig’s website HERE.

Review! Wanderville: On Track For Treasure (Book 2) by Wendy McClure

1 Dec

wander2Wanderville: On Track For Treasure
By Wendy McClure
Series: Wanderville – Book 2
224 pages – ages  8+
Published by Razorbill on October 16, 2014

Synopsis- Set in the early 1900’s, Wanderville is a traveling “town” that was created by orphans in the first Wanderville book. The town is set up so that, wherever they are, it can come with them (see my review HERE), they are kind of like gypsies. The town now has 10 new residents but they all must leave immediately. The evil sheriff had found them and he is determined to round the kids up and send them to the work farms they escaped from. They hop a train, and find a home with a reverend and his wife. But the kids soon find out it may all be too good to be true.

What I Liked- Ms. McClure has written another great historical fiction story! The characters in the book are very real. They act and talk like kids – kids who are on the run and who are trying to find a home. The story is really interesting. I was very intrigued because there really were orphan trains and I found the 1900’s setting very fun to read about. The interesting plot twist is *DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT A SPOILER* The reverend and his wife do good, but they aren’t necessarily good. *OKAY YOU CAN READ AGAIN* The plot kept me reading and lost in the story. The length and language in the book makes it great for kids 8+ but older kids will enjoy the story a lot too. I love the covers in this series. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

I give “On Track For Treasure” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

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