Jet Lee Dragon Warrior By Pamela K. Witte Illustrated by Laurie Tisdale 130 pages – ages 8+ Published by Pam Witte on January 17, 2015 Synopsis- What I Thought- This is a fun book! It is based on some ninja/samurai concepts, but set in New York City. I didn’t expect almost everyone that Jet knew to be a Dragon Warrior. That was cool. Jet is a clumsy, small, and weak tween who you can’t help but like and root for. Everyone loves to see an underdog win, right? The story is fast paced and flows well. Ms. Witte is a gifted story teller. At 130 pages it is a quick read, but the story feels complete. There are some neat manga-like illustrations through-out the book. I like how Jet, as a character, messes up simple things (like (not) catching an important vial), building up the fact that he’s clumsy – I like a hero who is more realistic. Ms. Witte has written a great book and is another example of a self-published book done right! I give “Jet Lee Dragon Warrior” 5 out of 5 bookworms!
Have I got a Creative Kid for you! Matt Nadel is a 16-year-old baseball historian who has written his own book about baseball!
Matt Nadel, age 16, is MLB.com’s youngest baseball history Pro Blogger. He was appointed a Pro Blogger in 2012 by MLB’s official historian, John Thorn. Matt blogs mainly about baseball history and his favorite era is the 40s and 50s. His favorite team today is the Yankees. Matt started blogging about baseball history back in April 2012, because he was finding that many of his friends knew very little about it, and he thought that a blog would be a fun way to teach kids and even some adults about it. He knows a lot about baseball history including every World Series winner (going back to 1903) by heart.
Matt’s has written almost 350 posts, in addition to a book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction To Baseball History. He has appeared in TV and in many newspapers. He hopes to one day be a baseball historian, journalist and broadcaster.
Matt has agreed to an interview with me about him, his book, and baseball. Enjoy!
Erik: There is a TON of baseball information you put forward in this book. As a book reviewer I am impressed at how clearly and well-presented it all is. Do you keep all this stuff in your head or do you have to reference your own book in remembering some of these stats?
Matt: I do know a lot of what’s in my book, but I do reference it from time to time if I’m not too sure about a specific moment, player, or team.
Erik: Makes sense – the book is a great reference! What do you feel your biggest accomplishment is – outside and unrelated to baseball?
Matt: My biggest accomplishment outside of baseball is assisting at the special needs karate class at the karate studio I used to go to for lessons, Hwang Martial Arts in Springfield, New Jersey. It really warms my heart to see those kids punch a bag or do a form. It’s really inspirational.
Erik: That is rewarding! I help teach a younger kids class at my Dojo too. I enjoy it very much. It is awesome that you are donating your profits from the book to The Jackie Robinson Foundation, the ALS Association, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Foundation, and the Turn 2 Foundation. What was your motivation for writing the book?
Matt: I had been doing the blog for about a year when the idea for the book came to me. Basically, I wanted to put every single thing that is important to baseball’s history into one little children’s book. I wanted the book to teach kids about baseball history and I think it accomplishes this.
Erik: It is a great book for kids to learn about and appreciate the great players in baseball history. I am a Philly guy and the Phillies are my hometown team. In my opinion, there is nothing better than to go to an afternoon game. I’ve found that when I can’t physically be at the ballpark, I prefer to listen to the game over the internet/radio rather than watch on TV. Maybe it’s because of the announcers (Scott Franzke, Larry Anderson and Jim Jackson) and how they describe the action. Who do you think are some the best play-by-play broadcasters?
Matt: Right now in the MLB, Eric Nadel (no relation) for the Rangers and Greg Brown for the Pirates are probably at the top of my list. Of course, I have to include the legends, like Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Red Barber, and Harry Caray.
Erik: Lets not forget Harry Kalas. ;) Do you play organized baseball?
Matt: I play for my school’s varsity team, the Golda Och Academy Roadrunners. Last year, I was placed in the outfield due to injuries, so I’ll probably be in the outfield again this year.
Erik: I am a baseball fan and I learned a lot from your book. The text is written very well and even someone who is only a casual fan will appreciate the history in it. Name the most surprising thing you learned from doing the research for your book.
Matt: Some of the stuff on extra innings jumped out at me, like the minor league game that featured future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr., but probably the most surprising thing a learned was the backstories of all the greats and how they progressed through their careers. Pure statistics don’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t talk about the lives of the legends before they entered the game and to me, that stuff is so intriguing.
Erik: Thanks for taking time to answer my questions Matt!
Now I’d like to tell you a bit about Matt’s book.
By Matt Nadel
112 pages – ages 10+
Published by Summer Game Books on March 23, 2015
Goodreads Summary –
Matt Nadel is a 15-year-old baseball historian whose blog and media appearances are fast-propelling him to national prominence. Matt has written a thorough and accessible book on the biggest stars, greatest games, and most amazing feats in baseball history. Richly illustrated, the text includes bios of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and many others; descriptions of classic ballparks like Fenway and Wrigley and great franchises like Brooklyn and the Yankees; a section on the Negro Leagues and other professional leagues; and the expert lowdown on stolen bases, perfect games, triple crowns, and even the baseball uniforms!
Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers is the go-to resource for anyone looking to learn everything important about the history of America’s greatest game, and learn it in a fast, fun way. Filled with incredible, classic photos from the official Baseball Hall of Fame Archives, it is a primer for baseball beginners, a resource for developing fans, and a treat for long-time devotees who will love having so much essential baseball knowledge in one convenient place.
What I thought – This was a well-written resource for anyone interested in baseball or history in general. It is organized and flows well which is quite a feat considering the amount of information packed into the book. The text is easy to follow and is referenced well. The reader can tell there was a lot of careful research done for the book. I liked how Matt not only included baseball stats but also glimpses into the lives and personalities of the players. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone will be writing a book about Matt in a few years!
Want to learn more?
Check out Matt’s book on Summer Game Books website – click HERE.
Follow Matt –
Synopsis- Steven Lee had no idea what he was getting into when he stumbled upon a huge underground warehouse-thingy where some strange ceremony is taking place. He somehow gets involved in a hidden battle to stop a power-hungry man who is now one of the most powerful men on Earth. The powers of the Zodiac animals were released into the world to find their “perfect host”, and the Tiger has settled in Steven’s body. Several of the receivers of the power are agents of the evil man – a man who holds the most powerful power – the Dragon. Steven needs to think fast, harness his new powers and stop the madman’s plot.
What I Thought- HOLY GUACAMOLE! This was a great book! I am a HUGE fan of Stan Lee so I was all over this book when it came out. I am happy to say, this book did not disappoint! Mr. Lee and Mr. Moore have crafted a riveting story packed with comic book action, fighting, mystery and super powers. There is just the right amount of realism in the book to keep the reader thinking this really could be happening. Mr. Tong’s red, black, and white illustrations pop-up throughout the book. They look cool, and get the story into your head more. They give the story even more depth. The characters are well-developed, and were fun to read about and get to know. There are three planned books in the series. The ending of this book is quite a cliff hanger, but there is enough wrapped up in the story that the reader is not disappointed. A lot of kids and adults will read this just because Stan Lee wrote a middle grade book. For a kid-comic book fan like me, it was just what I would have wanted.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?!?
You can read about the creators of the series HERE.
Check out the website HERE.
Disney has a teacher’s guide to go with the book. Click HERE to get it.
With Spring and Easter right around the corner, I have a line up of books that should be on your TBR list!
Synopsis- Declan the monster was taking a hike through the woods, being polite by saying hello to everything he meets. And then, he sees… BUNNIES!!! Like any self-respecting monster, he gets a… tad excited. Just a tad. But you know what? Those bunnies run away! Poor Declan. He just wants to be with the BUNNIES!!!
What I Thought- Well, in my book, any book (hee hee) with 3 exclamation points in the title and a group of multi-coloured bunnies and a cute, fluffy monster on the cover is already a winner! Mr. Atteberry has written a great picture book. I saw that Mr. Atteberry has illustrated many picture books but this is his first author/illustrated book. There are cute illustrations, and a fun storyline. The text is very sparse and the story is told mostly through the illustrations. I kept thinking of Declan as a over-sized toddler running after the bunnies. I really enjoyed this story. I have one last thought on this book – BUNNIES!!!
Synopsis- A little girl and her nana start/continue a garden, and the book chronicles how they farm and tend to the garden, while animals and bugs do what they naturally do.
What I Thought- This is a really sweet book that explains how nature helps make a garden, with teamwork. You work above ground, they can work below ground. The illustrations are eye-pleasing, and creative. They whimsically show everything happening in the garden. The story line shows bonding between the girl and her nana, and tells you a little about how bugs and animals help a garden (even skunks help!). I really like this picture book!
Synopsis- Maurice is a bear cub, who is excited to experience his first spring! Sadly, he has to take a [long] nap. But, Maurice is so excited, he can’t wait! So, when his mother goes to sleep, Maurice slips out of the cave, and searches for spring! And, then, when a white flake of spring appears, Maurice is over-joyed. He ends up bringing a huge ball of the white flakes home in his scarf, to show his mother. He takes his nap first, though.
What I Thought- Well, with the fact that it is April and that we just got 4 more inches of snow, I want to find spring too! This book is cute. Maurice is impatient, so he sneaks out and discovers “Spring”. What kid wouldn’t do that? His personality really shines through, and I like his scarf ;) . The story is cute but what really grabs you is the illustrations. They are just cool. They are all collages. The random lines of letters are a nice touch too.
Synopsis- All Hallows Eve is back in an all-new adventure! It’s Easter-time, and Eve is helping at an Easter egg hunt for orphans. Then some greasers (you know, from the 1950’s? After all, Eve lives around then!) wearing bunny-ears and toting pistols come and try to rob the orphanage. Eve goes to stop them (they’re ruining the orphans’ Easter!), and suddenly finds herself as a bunny – and powerless! What can she do?
What I Thought- I am a huge fan of Eve and her adventures. The Eve novela books are written in comic style, but are a written story with some illustrations. Eve’s adventures are clean reads for kids and they always have a great message with out being “preachy.”Mr. Eveleigh has written a great 13th book in this series. His comic images are peppered throughout the book, and add some humor to the story. The book itself combines humor and mystery into a great story – add some Eve superhero powers and you get a book any kids will like! I like how Mr. Eveleigh keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times. I can’t wait for book #14!
By Sharon Skretting
316 pages – ages 8+
Published by Sharon Skretting on September 20, 2014
Synopsis- From the Publisher: “After his father’s ship is found abandoned at sea, Christopher makes and unexpected discovery on board—The Ultimate Treasure Chest! Inside is a message that beckons him to set sail after the treasure and his parents. When a savage pirate and a corrupt businessman join forces to steal the treasure for themselves, the gang gets caught up in pirate chases, time travel, and an underground network of spies. Will Christopher find the Jewel and his parents or will all be lost forever?”
What I Thought- This was a fun time-travel book. I specially liked that the characters were not from modern times but from the 18th century and they travel forward to our time. The characters are kid sailors and they transport to modern day Peru. Ms. Skretting has written an authentic sounding 1700’s story, and then she put them in a modern-day situation, and it was just as believable. The characters are well-developed and you feel a connection to them. Christopher is a great kid and an enjoyable MC. The story is solid, but the story does not keep the same exciting pace after the first couple challenges the characters face. Still, the story is good and a great choice for kids. The book had educational parts. You learn about the environment and Peru throughout the story, as the characters are challenged to learn about them to get to the next stage.
Before I get to my review, I get to announce that Mr. Laj won the James Patterson Prize Pack o’ Books I am giving away on my blog!!! CONGRATULATIONS! I will be emailing you to see where you’d like the books sent.
So the FABULOUS James Patterson series- I Funny, Treasure Hunters and House of Robots have a SUPER FANTABULOUS co-author CHRIS GRABENSTEIN! Felicia and I just interviewed Mr. Grabentein on the Write Chat – Click HERE to see the vlog! AND Mr. Grabenstein just happens to be the author of the book I am reviewing today! (I feel like I am playing the Kevin Bacon game) .
Now today is not only the day I review Chris Grabenstein’s new book, it is the day it is released! HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!!! WOO! Mr. Lemoncello’s Library fans will NOT be disappointed in Chris Grabenstein’s latest fantastic story!
By Chris Grabenstein
256 pages – ages 9+
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on March 24, 2015
Synopsis- Billy Gillfoyle’s parents may be getting separated. This may explain why his mom is spending the summer at a rented lake house owned by one of her colleagues, Dr. Xiang Libris, and Billy is to spend the summer with her while she works on a very important paper for work. The house is on the shore of a lake overlooking an island in the middle of the lake – Dr. Libris’ Island. Dr. Libris owns it all. The lake house has no TV or video game system, and shortly after coming, Billy accidentally breaks his iPhone (and simultaneously made a friend and some enemies). Desperate for entertainment, Billy decides to turn to the library room, which has a bookcase full of amazing books, with one drawback – the bookcase is locked. After an intensive search, Billy finds the key, and when he opens the books and reads them, he seems to hear the swords clashing, the voices yelling, the feet trampling. And it all seems to come from Dr. Libris’ island in the middle of the lake…
What I Thought- This was an amazing book. It really creates a world one would love to join. Characters coming to life by reading – in my mind, that is PARADISE! The story is cool and very suspenseful. I like how everything ties together in the end. Mr. Grabenstein has written a fun action-adventure book that, I bet, almost every reader will hope were true! Billy still likes his parents and believes that they will stay together. Billy, thinks they have the perfect marriage and they seem like a nice family. His mom is more serious, but still fun, in a way, while his dad is more laid back and thrill-seeking. It was good that his parents didn’t hate each other, and that they seemed to have a nice relationship with each other. All that added to the depth of the story. I REALLY loved this book! The characters in the book feel so realistic that you believe that this could happen. It was cool that Dr. Libris himself was kind of a background character in the story – kind of remaining mysterious.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?!? You can read sample chapters and get an educator’s guide to go with the book at Chris Grabentein’s website – CLICK HERE!
Review! Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist By Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long22 Mar
By Jacqueline Houtman, Walter Naegle, and Michael G. Long
166 pages – ages 10+
Published by QuakerPress of FGC on November 13, 2014
Summary – (from GoodReads) “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers” -Bayard Rustin Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist is a new biography for ages 10 and up. . . To many, the civil rights movement brings to mind protests, marches, boycotts, and freedom rides. They often think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. They seldom think of Bayard Rustin. Raised by his Quaker grandmother to believe in the value of every human being, Bayard made trouble wherever he saw injustice. As a teenager, he was arrested for sitting in the whites only section of a theater. More arrests followed, for protesting against segregation, discrimination, and war. His belief in nonviolent action as a means for social change gave him a guiding vision for the civil rights movement, which he used to mentor the young Martin Luther King, Jr. When A. Philip Randolph needed the best organizer on the planet, he turned to Bayard Rustin to bring 250,000 people to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Illustrated with over sixty photos, this book is the product of a unique collaboration between three authors: Bayard’s partner of ten years, a professor of religious studies, and a children’s book author. Though he is largely ignored in history books, Bayard’s ideas and actions will inspire today’s young (and not-so-young) readers to be angelic troublemakers.
What I Thought – There is obviously a great need for this book because Bayard Rustin is a name I have never heard. I’ve studied the Civil Rights movement in school and it is sad I have never heard of Mr. Rustin. I was interested that Mr. Rustin grew up as a Quaker (his grandmother was a Quaker and she raised him). He grew up near where I used to live. His upbringing gave Mr. Rustin a desire to bring change through peaceful means or passive resistance. I also found it very interesting that Mr. Rustin was himself discriminated against by some of the very people he was trying to help during the Civil Rights movement, because of him being gay. The book is not just a good resource on Mr. Rustin, but also a good resource for information on the Civil Rights movement, segregation and pacifism. There is a ton of references in the back for further reading or to see where the information in the book comes from. There are little fact boxes spread through the book that gives details on some of the subjects touched upon in the book. Photographs of historical and events in Mr. Rustin’s life are sprinkled in the book. They add a level of interest to the story. The one issue I had with the book is that it reads more like a text book than a book kids will pick up to read. Having said that, I think the book would be an excellent resource for teachers when they are covering the Civil Rights movement in their class.
WATCH OUT – A NINJA HAS INVADED MY BLOG!!!
Mr. Kent runs a blog called –
by Robert Kent
Illustrated by Adam Smith
Series The And Then Story
354 pages – ages 8+
Published by CreateSpace on September 18, 2014
Summary (from GoodReads) – “Fifth grader Ellicott Skullworth has always felt out of place at public school and now he’s tested into the Archimedes Program at Latimer University. While in Latimer City, he’ll be living with his world famous and insane(ly) brilliant cousin, Banneker Bones, the eleven-year-old inventor of robots. The only problem: Banneker doesn’t want to share his room. And he’s got an army of robots to make Ellicott miserable until he goes home.
When the boys are ambushed by robot bees as big as cars, Ellicott’s only friend is carried off and held for ransom. To rescue him, Ellicott has no choice but to partner with his maniacal cousin. Ellicott doesn’t know what’s worse: facing a hive of giant robot bees or spending more time with Banneker Bones.
BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES features original illustrations by Adam Smith. It’s a humorous, science fiction adventure for readers of all ages written in the spirit of a comic book.”
What I Thought – This is a really cool book. Mr. Kent has written a unique story where the government’s fear is that robots will be taking over everyone’s jobs. And Banneker’s family are the ones making the robots. I like the fact that Banneker Bones isn’t the main character, and that he’s a jerk. It provided a lot of humor in the story. Ellicott is a great kid that you really feel for. It’s not his fault that his cousin wrongly hates him – like I said Banneker is a jerk! The robots described in the book are really amazing. They are state-of-the-art technology, and the world still hates them! There is a ton of character development in the book. Reggie and Ellicott (sort of) bond, while Banneker just gets grumpier, but in a way you kind of like him. The black and white illustrations really do the story justice (there are a few scattered throughout the book). They picture the characters and setting just like what is described in the book, giving the story another dimension. The story is at a great reading level for MG readers. This new s is a really fun book to read!
WAIT! HERE’S SOME AWESOME NEWS!
Want to know more? Click on over to MIDDLE GRADE NINJA (click HERE) and read excerpts from Mr. Kent’s books. You can also read more about Mr. Kent and his writings.
Before I get to today’s review, I get to announce that Anne S. won the signed copy of Chris Rylander’s newest book – COUNTDOWN ZERO!!! YAAAAAY! :) Click HERE to read my review of this great read! Thank you to all who entered. I will be emailing the winner to get the address you’d like your book sent to!
Now on to today’s review!
by Michael Gibney
Series: The Brotherhood and the Shield
300 pages – ages 9+
Published by Tantrum Books on February 24, 2015
Synopsis- From GoodReads: “Three brothers born to a powerful fallen king were abandoned at birth and cast out as orphans. By order of the false king, three of the most lethal assassins have been sent to kill the children before they come of age and plot to avenge their father’s throne. No one knows where the children are, and the children have no knowledge of one another. But that all changes when Benjamin, Tommy, and Sebastian join together to face adversity, an unspeakable evil, and the temptations of magical powers. This is the first installment of an exciting children’s fantasy series about the power of family.“
What I Thought- Wow – what a great opening book for a new series. This was a fun book that really keeps you reading. There is plenty of action to keep the reader interested and a great plot and terrific writing to get you into the story. Tommy, Benjamin, and Sebastian are great characters that you really cheer on. The setting of the “new world” (the magical world they get taken to right after they meet each other) is fantastically described and makes you wish that you were there! Mr. Gibney’s writing is solid – he gives you enough background to have you understand the characters and plot without dragging the story down with too many details. I like how everything falls into place as the story goes on. The characters make you smile and feel that the Brotherhood is in good hands. The writing and dialogue is realistic. Mr. Gibney is a great author who I can’t wait to read more from.
The website for the new series – The Brotherhood and the Shield – is worth checking out. There is information about the first book and the series. You can also hear actor Chris R Wright read excerpts from book 1. Click HERE to go to the site.