Review! Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

9 Aug

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
By Rita Williams-Garcia
176 pages – ages 8+
Published by Amistad on May 9, 2017

Synopsis From Publisher- “Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.

Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.”

What I Thought- This was a book that makes you stop and think. The plot is simple, but there is a lot of things to ponder about family, discovering the world, yourself, and legacies. I like that the book teaches kids a little bit about basic blues music and the history and culture of blues. Williams-Garcia breathed life into her characters in a way that the reader really connects with them. She describes the gritty trail Clayton travels with such details I could envision each step. I personally appreciated this story as it touched many chords within me. This was a book I enjoyed reading, and I believe others will too!

I give this book five out of five bookworms.

Review! The Summer of Bad Ideas by Kiera Stewart

4 Aug

The Summer of Bad Ideas
By Kiera Stewart
304 pages – ages 9+
Published by HarperCollins on May 2, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “In this funny, big-hearted friendship story, perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Linda Urban, twelve-year-old Edie and her impossibly cool cousin, Rae, set out to complete a mysterious list of “Good Ideas for Summertime” that their eccentric late grandmother wrote back when she was their age.

But good ideas? Most of them seem like bad ideas. Reckless. Foolish. Ridiculous. Still, by accomplishing everything on the list, rule-abiding Edie feels certain that she can become the effortlessly brave adventurer she dreams of being, just like her daring cousin and bold grandmother. For this one summer at least, bad ideas are the best shot she has at becoming who she wants to be.

Bad Idea Number One: It’s time for a new set of rules.

What I Thought- I think this was a neat realistic fiction story. There are so many believable details, it was fun to read about the characters and town life. I like the development of Edie as she becomes a little more adventurous, like her grandmother, as the story goes on. The story was well-written and speaks to a young middle grade audience well. At times I found the story a bit inspiring in the way Edie seeks to become a bit more outgoing. The plot is simple, predictable at times, yet satisfying. This book is a nice bridge for kids going from smaller novels to larger reads. The story flows well and gives the reader enough to remain engaged from start to finish. The characters are realistic, and I could see a lot of them acting like some of my friends. Overall, it was a fun book.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.

Review! The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson

28 Jul

The World’s Greatest Detective
By Caroline Carlson
373 pages – ages 9+
Published by on HarperCollins on May 16, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “Detectives’ Row is full of talented investigators, but Toby Montrose isn’t one of them. He’s only an assistant at his uncle’s detective agency, and he’s not sure he’s even very good at that. Toby’s friend Ivy is the best sleuth around—or at least she thinks so. They both see their chance to prove themselves when the famed Hugh Abernathy announces a contest to choose the World’s Greatest Detective. But when what was supposed to be a game turns into a real-life murder mystery, can Toby and Ivy crack the case?”

What I Thought- This was a really great novel! It’s written by the author of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series (which I love), and this book is just as great! The world that Carlson creates is reminiscent of the great era of mystery writers, keeping in that older time when automobiles were still new. It is surely a period for interesting detectives, as there is little to no “easy way out” to find the answer (ie, hacking into security cameras, DNA testing, etc.). Carlson creates characters that keep you wanting to read more. They are perfectly imperfect enough that you want to follow them and find out how they get out of troublesome situations. I liked that the story eases kids to the murder mystery genre in a totally acceptable read. I also love that she shows flaws in her main characters – the two kids are both good and bad detectives – making the kids feel alright if their guesses are wrong. Carlson’s writing strengths shine in this book. She can write with a wackiness a subtle type of humor that brightens tense situations. I really hope there is a second book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

26 Jul

Lucky Broken Girl
By Ruth Behar
256 pages – ages 9+
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books on April 11, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.”

What I Thought- Reading this book was an emotional experience. Behar tackles the subjects of immigration, racism and the frustration of being isolated due to an accident in a compelling story. I loved the concept of this book and the fact the main character  was an immigrant. I really enjoy stories that inject flavors of other cultures in the text. We do get glimpses of Irish, Mexican, Cuban and Indian characters, all whom help Ruthie navigate her struggles in the story. Although there are moments of hope and redemption, I found the story was rather gloomy. The constant pessimism from Ruthie wore me down. I found myself not really understanding what Ruthie was thinking and who she is but rather reacting to her actions in the story. I really think this book could be amazing with a bit more understanding of the character’s feelings. Still, I think kids in situations similar to Ruthie’s – hospitalized kids or those isolated because of cultural differences, will connect with the story. The book would best be described as a fictionalized memoir, because Behar explains that the story is based on her real life experience, but that she changed some of the facts to things she wished had happened. All of that was explained in her Author’s Note at the end of the book. When I realized that it was based on the author’s own trauma, I appreciated the story even more, as it added realism to the story for me. I wish the note was at the beginning of the story, I think I would have connected to it even more.  Having said this, I wouldn’t hesitate to try another book from Behar. I recommend this book to fans of recovery stories that contain a great life lesson within the pages!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.

Where has Erik Been?

24 Jul

Dear readers,

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit absent from the blogosphere (or maybe you haven’t in which case I need to do a better job 😉 ), I felt I need to explain what’s been going on.

I was on vacation at the beginning of July and upon getting back and then catching up with my work, our family suffered a very tragic accident. My aunt and three of her daughters were on a cross-country road trip from Pennsylvania to California. An adventure of a life time.

Beth, Lizzy, Savanna and Sequoia in California.

Sadly, in California, they had a terrible accident. The driver of their SUV fell asleep. The car ran down an embankment, hit a pole and overturned. My aunt and one of my cousins did not make it.

My cousin Savanna and Aunt Beth

My other two cousins were seriously injured. My uncle and his eldest daughter flew out to California to be with the girls.

Uncle Aleko, Lizzy, Sequoia and Cousin Tessa at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka CA

After some negotiating, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia sent 2 ambulance jets out to California to bring the girls back. They did this free of charge through Wings of Grace.  Our family is eternally grateful to them.

The girls are back on the East Coast now and can be with our family. We finally got to go visit with them yesterday. The girls (Lizzy, 14 and Sequoia, 17) are incredible strong. I could believe they can manage a smile after what they’ve been through. Their bodies are broken, but are in superior medical care at CHOP. Their spirits remain unbroken even in the face of the loss of their mother and sister. 

 

Lizzy has Urinary Retention, a
Pelvic Fracture,
Pelvic Hematoma,
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage,
Compression Fracture,
Pulmonary Contusion,
Right Foot Fracture

Sequoia has a Pelvic Fracture, Lumbar Spine Fracture, Pneumothorax, Right Cervical Spine Fracture, Bilateral Pulmonary Contusion, Closed Right Tarsal, Navicular Fracture, Internal Carotid Artery Dissection, Elbow Fracture, C6 Nerve Root Injury

Our entire family is in mourning but staying strong for Lizzy and Sequoia.

I am sorry for bringing all of this sad news on a Monday. I just wanted to let everyone know what was going on so you don’t think I gave up on my blog. I just haven’t had my heart into it – or even opening emails. After seeing the girls yesterday, I feel a new sense of strength and resolve.

If you would like to help, please send positive thoughts and prayers for the girls (they feel it!) and/or my cousin, Monique has set up a Go Fund Me account to help with the girl’s medical needs – click HERE to go to it

They have additional surgeries to go through and a long recovery period – and that’s just the physical part.

My blog will return to its normal schedule and I will be working at catching up. Thank you all for taking the time to read my posts! I appreciate all of you!

Muffy Turns One: The Mini Tour – COVER REVEAL!

20 Jul
Today I get to kick off blog tour celebrating the one year birthday of a great story about a little dog and her great adventure. Since I am the first stop on this mini tour, I get to reveal the cover!
Muffy and the Dog Catcher (The Muffy Series Book 1)
Written and illustrated by Devra Robitaille
 66 pages – ages 7+
Published by The Hologram Library, July 20, 2016
 

Synopsis (from the publisher) – Muffy is a happy and curious Goldendoodle puppy who lives on a farm. One day she chases a silly grasshopper and gets lost. She finds herself alone and hungry, on the point of collapse, but luck is on her side and she is adopted by a wonderful family, the Gabriels, who have a very orderly and devoted pack of dogs. Muffy becomes part of her new family, and is accepted by Radar and Oliver and the gang, but she still pines for her sister, Riff, and misses the farm. One of her new friends, Wise Dog, introduces her to a very unusual Dog Catcher who has a special talent.

Muffy’s courageous journey is full of laughter and adventure as she tries to unite her two families.

 
 The cover is in the same style as the other illustrations in the book. The whimsical illustration style adds depth to the story. I found Robitalle’s story-telling to be thoughtful and entertaining. The story is so much more than a lost puppy story. There are shades of lessons on the struggles of growing up, what family truly is and also diversity. It is a rich and well crafted book that packs a lot in the 65 pages of text! 
Want to learn more?

Muffy turns one!…the mini-tour

Be sure to check out all the stops!

Cover reveal for Muffy’s new artwork

July 20th 2017

This Kid Reviews Books

Character Interview with Pete, the Dog Catcher

July 21st 2017

​Something to Chew On

Interview with Devra Robitaille

​July 27th 2017

Reading With Your Kids

Visit the Hologram Library Website by clicking HERE!

Check out the book’s trailer –

 

Review! 100 Things to Be When You Grow Up by Lisa M. Gerry

10 Jul

100 Things to Be When You Grow Up
By Lisa M. Gerry
256pages – ages 7+
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on March 14, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “Who says adults can’t have fun? This book explores 100 of the coolest, wackiest, and most amazing jobs and careers out there, from astronaut to zookeeper, ice cream taster to game maker. ”

What I Thought- I really like the format of this book. It is a list, with one career per spread – except for when they include a longer interview with an expert in a field. That’s another thing I liked; the interviews with people who actually do the job – it’s a nice touch. The jobs are ones you may or may not have heard of, with things like a fire fighter to an adventure guide. Ms. Gerry presents the information in a fun way, and I love that she also includes tips for any career, made to get kids thinking about the future. I like the variety of jobs included, and that they included some odd ones that aren’t that hard to get. This was a nice nonfiction book to get kids thinking about their future, and I really hope that kids give it a look and find something to tickle their inspirations!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Blog Tour! Beach Party Surf Monkey by Chris Grabenstein

26 Jun


Beach Party Surf Monkey
Series: Welcome to Wonderland #2
Written by Chris Grabenstein
Illustrated by Brooke Allen
320 pages – ages 8+
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on May 23, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- “There’s always something wacky happening when you live at a motel, and P. T. Wilkie has grown up at the world’s wackiest one yet! When word gets out that the hottest teen idols in Hollywood will be filming their next movie-BEACH PARTY SURF MONKEY-right in St. Pete’s Beach, P.T. and Gloria know that 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 the movie AND the Wonderland are both all washed up!”

What I Thought- I didn’t know what to expect with this. I love Mr. Grabenstein’s books, but I hate starting a book in the middle of a series – I am reading the second book before the first. Grabenstein brings the reader up to speed that in the best way I’ve ever seen! P.T. is known for his wild stories, so he is introduced by telling a tall tale about the previous book, giving major plot points, but not ruining the entire climax. Genius! From there, I just kept liking the book more and more. I  am getting my hands on the first book asap!  The story did take a little bit to reveal the plot, but I was so immersed in the details and Grabenstein’s masterful story-telling, I didn’t even notice! Once the plot is revealed, the reader is totally hooked into the story! The characters don’t want their hotel to falter (and a bit of fame would be nice!), so they are trying to have the movie at their motel. But then everything goes wrong. It’s awesome. Grabenstein has a cool way of writing scenes that are completely wacky, yet still believable – it’s wonderful reading the book! One of the things I liked were the black-and-white illustrations, some with word bubbles like a comic. They added a lot of humor to the story. Brooke Allen has a great way of combining cartoon with realism. I loved this book, and want to see more from this series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

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.

Blog Tour! TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE! By Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie A. Thompson

24 Jun


TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE!
By Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie A. Thompson
Illustrated by Lisa K. Weber
176 pages – ages 7+
Will be Published by Walden Pond Press on June 27, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?
Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts!”

What I Thought- This was a really cool book! I enjoyed trying to see which stories were false, and am proud to say that I got a few! It’s a really neat idea for kids, because they learn real facts too – as they try to discern what is false! There are also little activities (ie, observing nature, asking questions, etc.) for kids, as well as mini-challenges. The authors work well together, and you can tell they had fun with this project. Weber brightens the story with her fun cartoon illustrations throughout the stories. I really like what was done here with this book, and I hope to see more in this series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Ammi-Joan Paquette has traveled to twenty-four countries, has the ability to wake herself up at a given time without an alarm clock, and once climbed Mt. Everest. (Not all of these are true!) Joan is the author of the novels Rules for Ghosting, Paradox, and Nowhere Girl, as well as the picture books Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, Ghost in the House, The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Mermaids, and The Tiptoes Guide to Tracking Fairies. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she balances her own writing and her day job as a literary agent. You can visit her online at www.ajpaquette.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson has ridden a pig, gotten stuck in an elevator overnight, and jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. (One of these facts is not true; can you guess which?) She is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, My Dog Is the Best, and Emmanuel’s Dream, a picture book biography about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, which was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award and was named an ALA Notable Book, a CCBC Choice, and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, among dozens of other accolades. She lives outside Seattle with her family. You can visit her online at www.lauriethompson.com.

5-Jun

Librarian’s Quest

7-Jun

Flowering Minds

11-Jun

Pragmatic Mom

Geo Librarian

13-Jun

Smack Dab in the Middle

14-Jun

Bluestocking Thinking

15-Jun

Novel Novice

Library Lions Roar

16-Jun

Archimedes Notebook

18-Jun

Nerdy Book Club

19-Jun

Cracking the Cover

20-Jun

Writers Rumpus

The Hiding Spot

21-Jun

Maria’s Melange

23-Jun

Unleashing Readers

24-Jun

This Kid Reviews Books

Blog Tour! The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

23 Jun


The Door in the Alley
Series: The Explorers
Written by Adrienne Kress
Illustrated by Matthew C. Rockefeller
320 pages – ages 9+
Published by Delacorte Press on April 25, 2017

Synopsis- Sebastian was a brilliant kid, going to a school for math and science. He always planned everything out, and disliked change and trying new things. Then he met a pig in a teeny hat. And everything changed. Now he’s helping a girl find her presumed dead (but apparently still living) grandfather. That’s not so bad, except that two creepy thugs are trying to find him too. Things are starting to look interesting…

What I Thought- This book is pretty funny – the narration is very tongue-in-cheek, with humorous chapter names, and the story is full of wacky events that are somehow believable.  Sebastian and Evie are two very different characters, but they both make the book complete. Sebastian wants to stay out of trouble, but he also wants to do what’s right. Evie doesn’t want to be alone in this world, and will do anything to be get her family back. This is a really great combo! Kress’ writing style is very light-hearted, having written a book where having a character ride a llama across a zoo and having a tree grow in the middle of a building seem like completely natural things. Kress uses all the creative room in her plot line, and keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. There are neat black-and-white illustrations from Rockefeller throughout the book that really bring all of the aspects together. Kids will love to read this book! Kress has written a wonderful beginning to a new series, and I cannot wait to read the next book! I also think I will definitely check out some of the other books by Kress, considering how much I enjoyed this one.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Adrienne Kress is a writer and an actress born and raised in Toronto. She is the daughter of two high school English teachers and credits them with her love of both writing and performing. She also has a cat named Atticus, who unfortunately despises teeny hats. Look for her online at AdrienneKress.com, and follow her on Twitter at @AdrienneKress.

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