Max’s Wild Night By Meg Welch Dendler 146 pages – Ages 7+ Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on February 23, 2015 Synopsis- Max liked his owners. They were always good to him. But one day, Max’s daily routine got mixed up. His play-times were cut short, and his owners were busy. When he was in the yard, he caught a scent-trail. So, as any sensible dog would do, he followed it. But soon, the trail led into unfamiliar territory. Max was lost. So began Max’s wild night. What I Thought- This was a fun book. It involves characters from Ms. Dendler’s other books, but it doesn’t mention the cat-aliens at all (see my reviews of Book 1, Book 2, and Book 3 in the Cat in the Mirror series). It was just a story about a dog running through the Ozark Mountains on an adventure. It was cool getting into a dog’s perspective. It was realistic, and reminded me of my dog, Clyde. I felt like I was there with Max and his new-found friends. Ms. Dendler knows how to draw you into a story. Max was a nice character, and you feel kind of sorry for him and you can’t wait for him to succeed. The black-and-white illustrations throughout the book are done really nice. They have a cool sketched feeling about them. I think younger kids will love this series! I give this five out of five bookworms!
By Paul R. Hewlett
112 pages – Ages 8+
Published by Shoe Shine Publishing, Inc. on June 4, 2015
Synopsis- Lionel Snodgrass was excited to be going to camp for the first time. His father went to the camp once, and Lionel wants to be more like him. All was going well, until he finds that one of his roommates is Tad, the biggest bully in the school. Now Lionel is just going to try to avoid Tad. How will he have a good camp now?
What I Thought- This was a nice book. I really like the series. [See my review of Book 1 HERE!] Lionel is a good kid, and you feel sorry for him as he carries on being a nice kid as people keep being horrible to him. It’s great how Lionel is trying to follow his missing father’s footsteps. I like the illustrations throughout the book. They are nice and funny. Mr. Hewlett’s writing style really goes with the book and is great for his audience. You get the feeling of a non-perfect kid trying his best to be a good person. I think kids will enjoy this series.
By Jody Feldman
432 pages (Hardcover) – Ages 8+
Published by Greenwillow Books on April 21, 2015
Synopsis- Zane loves football. When he grows up, he wants to be a professional player. All is going well, until he gets his second concussion. Now he’s not allowed to play football for a year. At first, Zane was devastated, but when, through taking a test , he gets chosen to take place in the preliminary contest for the legendary annual Gollywhopper Games (a big, Olympic-style game for kids filled with puzzles and riddles, funded by a rich international game-seller), he isn’t sure what to believe. The prize for winning? $1,000,000. Does Zane have what it takes to win?
What I Thought- You know a book is good when you start reading it, and find out halfway through the book that it is third in the series, and yet it didn’t matter really what order you read it in. Sure, some small spoilers are said, but it doesn’t ruin the series. Each book (I think) has a different cast, as it is a different year in the Gollywhopper Games, which is cool. It’s also cool how the winners of the games can come back to help with some of the challenges. It was a great book. I like the variety of people that got into the games. There are athletes, geniuses, jerks, etc. in the games. The challenges sound fun to do, and would be awesome if they existed in real life.
By Tim Hall
480 pages (Hardcover) – Ages 13+
Published by David Fickling Books on May 26, 2015
Synopsis- From GoodReads: “A world of gods and monsters. An elemental power, rising. This is Robin Hood, reborn, as he has never been seen before…
Robin Loxley is seven years old when his parents disappear without trace. Years later the great love of his life, Marian, is also taken from him. Driven by these mysteries, and this anguish, Robin follows a darkening path into the ancient heart of Sherwood Forest. What he encounters there will leave him transformed, and will alter forever the legend of Robin Hood.”
What I Thought- This was a chilling book. It’s a take on the Robin Hood legends, but with more of a malicious tint. The book is definitely for young-adult readers, but I would say that it’s for 13 year-olds and older. There is a hint of horror, but not enough to be considered a horror novel. I like how it is a medieval setting, with no magic (there are potions and poisons, and Robin, who became blind, has a sixth sense that allows him to “see”), but there are gods, and a forest that is somewhat “living”, controlling how long you are in it. It has an intriguing cross between supernatural and legend. The story is good and solid, although sometimes Robin seemed a little too angry. There is some fighting, and murder, but nothing gory or graphic (although Robin at one point, wasn’t in control of his mind, and killed in cold blood.). All in all, it was a solid story and an interesting take on the Robin Hood legend.
By Gordon Korman
336 pages (Hardcover) – Ages 9+
Published by Balzer + Bray; First Edition on February 3, 2015
Synopsis- Eli Frieden liked his life at Serenity, New Mexico, a nice little town in the middle of nowhere. It was reported as the #1 Best Town To Live In in the world. But it isn’t until Eli’s best friend Randy suddenly leaves town with no explanation, only leaving a cryptic note, that Eli starts to suspect things. He soon finds out, with the help of other classmates, that Serenity isn’t a charted town. Everything in it is fake. Everything they’ve been told is a lie. Even who they are.
As a science experiment over nurture-versus-nature, they took DNA from the world’s captured criminal masterminds, and cloned them. They would then raise the children in an environment devoid of evil to see if they would be nice, respectful citizens, instead of evil geniuses. Did I mention that the idea of cloning was made illegal internationally?
It’s funny, that in sheltering people from the truth, when the wall breaks down, they turn into what you hoped they wouldn’t.*
What I Thought- This is an interesting book. It’s very original. The concept is cool, but kind of creepy, too. I mean, kids being cloned from modern criminal masterminds to discover the answer to nurture vs. nature, is kind of awesome, but also disturbing. It really made me think about the whole story. Cloning is not something to be tampered with. The creepiness of the plot really sets the stage for the whole story. I couldn’t put this book down or get it out of my head. Mr. Korman has written a well-done story with great characters and a marvelous execution of a plan. Really looking forward to a second book!
By Jarrett J. Krosoczka
256 pages (Hardcover) – Ages 7+
Published by Walden Pond Press on May 5, 2015
Synopsis- Platypus Detective Rick Zengo doesn’t know what to think of the new addition to the detective squad. Or that she’s now partnered with HIS partner! But when Frank Pandini JR, candidate for mayor of Kalamazoo City, almost gets hit by a flying squirrel, Zengo gets assigned to be a second eye for Pandini. But something nutty is going on in Kalamazoo City, and it looks like the Platypus Police Squad will need all hands on deck to crack this case!
What I Thought- Mr. Krosoczka has written another fun kids’ book, starring our favorite crime-stopping platypi. It’s awesome how he writes what could be an intense, middle-grade/young-adult story into a graphic-novel-like early chapterbook/middle-grade for kids. The book is completely appropriate for younger readers. Boomerangs are the weapon of choice for the police force, and a night club is known for its root beer floats. The characters’ personalities are spot-on, and they create a sense of normality for the reader to connect with (if you can call an animal-driven city “normal”). I like Mr. Krosoczka’s black-and-white illustrations. They make the story that much more fun to read! I really like this book series!
Written by Seamus Pilger
Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
112 pages – ages 6+
Published by HarperCollins on April 21, 2015
Synopsis- Darren Stonkadopolis’ packed lunch was missing. And he arrived late to the lunchroom, which meant that he had to eat the infamous lunch five-bean burrito. That was bad enough. But then the gas was passed. Now Darren, and some other classmates who had to eat the burritos, have super-fart powers. They must learn to harness the power in their guts to save the town from an ancient cursed Golden Scratcher!
What I Thought- This was a funny book. I mean, seriously? It’s a book about kids with special farting super-powers! What’s not to love?! Darren is a great main character. He has problems of his own, but he overlooks them for the sake of his hilariously-named town (Buttzville!!!). The story actually makes sense (or would that be “scents”? ;) ), in a weird way. Plus, some of the names are hilarious! – Harry Buttz, Tina Heiney, Nurse Rancid, etc. I don’t really understand why the janitor becomes their “scent-sei” (teaching them how to harness their powers), but that may be just me. Mr. Pilger has written a book that younger readers will love to read (especially if they’ve been struck with a bad case of gas)! This is a really great book that will get reluctant readers reading!
Written by Penny Klostermann
Illustrated by Ben Mantle
40 pages – ages 3+
Will be published by Random House Books for Young Readers on August 4, 2015
Synopsis- In a land, far far away, dragons do exist. And one kingdom has a horrible old dragon living in it. A HUNGRY horrible old dragon. And as a knight and his faithful steed go to face the dragon, they find out he’s not so polite either.
What I Thought- This is a great parody of the traditional “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”. Ms. Klostermann has written a funny, well-rhymed story that makes sense. Kids learn a little about medieval life and they will enjoy a good story while learning. I like all of the little details in the illustrations, especially near the dragon’s den (signs: as the dragon is swooping down- “Beware Dragon” and a dragon crossing sign. -> after the knight is swallowed- “Too Late!”). The rhyme in the book is spot on and I found myself singing the “There Was an Old Lady” tune in my head but with the dragon lyrics. :) This is a great debut picture book. It would make an amazing bedtime story for kids!
I give this five out of five bookworms!
Written by Ellen Fischer
Illustrated by Laura Wood
32 pages (Hardcover) – ages 5+
Published by Mighty Media Kids on August 11, 2015
Synopsis- If an elephant went to school, what would she learn? Why, she most certainly wouldn’t learn the ABC’s! She’d learn how to use her trunk as a multi-tool! What about an owl? What would he learn? And a zebra? What about him? And, most importantly, what would YOU learn, if you went to school?
What I Thought- This is a really cute picture book! I like that it teaches kids about what animals would learn to live a nice life for them. It’s funny how it shows the animal in question first in a school environment with other animals doing “normal” things, and then in their natural habitat. I also like how the reader learns synonyms for “no way” throughout the book. Ms. Wood’s illustrations are funny, and you seem to catch the enthusiasm that her drawings embody. They go great with Ms. Fischer’s writing style, which is of a nice, “imagine that!” kind of attitude. I love the scenarios the animals find themselves in, and the very last pages are totally awesome!
By Rob Biddulph
40 pages (Hardcover) – ages 4+
Published by HarperCollins on January 20, 2015
Synopsis- Penguin Blue has got a new kite, and he’s excited to try it out. There’s just one problem – the wind is too strong! Not only does Blue get blown away, but also his well-meaning friends! What can a penguin do?
What I Thought- This was a cute picture book. I really like how there is an unrealistic touch to it, that can be humorously explained. The illustrations are really well-done, and add a lot of humor to the story. They are simple, but have just the right amount of detail in them. The story is told in a nice, playful rhyme. I think that this would make a great bedtime book, as well as a great sunny day book, rainy day book, and after-after-school-snack book, to name a few! I highly recommend this book!