Blog Tour! Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper by “Gusto” Dave Jackson & Janet “The Kid” Fogg

23 Jan

misfortune-annie-and-the-locomotive-reaper-1mf-annie-hi-resMisfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper
Co-Written by “Gusto” Dave Jackson & Janet “The Kid” Fogg
154 Pages – ages 8+
Published by FA LLC on October 22, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train — and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! — the government believes she’s the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.

Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.

Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.

When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced — and deadly — than even top scientists could have imagined.”

What I Thought- This was a nice story that added a slight steampunk view on the Wild West, with a man who has a suit that lets him fly, and Annie slinging guns and lassoing hooligans. It works in a good way The setting is well-described and makes it feel true. The details in the story makes the entire setting picture come into focus. The characters are well fleshed out, and realistic. The dialogue is spot on for the time period (just about 15 years after the American Civil War), and makes you feel like you are actually there with Annie. The book has a lot of action and kids will like reading about Annie beating up bad guys and going on adventures. It’s a nice story, and I would like to read the second book.

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Q&A with Janet Fogg & Dave Jackson, Courtesy of the Publisher

Your protagonist was inspired by spitfire Annie Oakley, but what’s the full story behind your exciting middle grade adventure Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper?

Dave: To properly tell Misfortune Annie’s origin, we must first go back to the spark from a great machine. I make no bones about my awe of George Lucas and the Indiana Jones series. It’s widely known by most Lucas fans that the rugged archaeologist first showed up in spirit in old matinee serials until George tweaked him a little for a new generation of movie lovers. Indy’s trusty whip came from Zorro cliffhangers. So, hoping to scare up just anything that could give Indy a run for his money, I poked around in the same cinema of yesteryear and dug the cowboy genre. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry—they were huge! So like Indy, my new star had to have a catchy name and signature duds. He was going to have a 10-gallon hat and Levi jacket.
I never got to name him though because fate threw in a wildcard that made me so grateful and stoked, I could never go back to the dude. On Christmas vacation one year, nearly sleeping behind the wheel through flat old Kansas, I passed a sign that boasted, “Annie Oakley Museum.” Jolted awake, I had my new hero. It would be a young lady known by a slick nickname.
Janet: We were chatting about his concept for Annie and what he wanted to accomplish with the book/series, and asked if I’d join him on that journey. Annie appealed to me for many reasons. First, because she was a young cowgirl struggling to excel in the man’s world of the wild, Wild West. I really liked that. Second, because I thought we could weave subtle “lessons- learned” into the books, so that young readers, especially teen girls, would have a role model with strength, courage, determination, and strong morals.

What made you decide to co-write as a team on this series – and how is it collaborating on a book?

Dave: We didn’t collaborate. Like spoiled rich kids we fought, I tell ya. Nah, actually, the writer’s journey is very lonely and I highly recommend brewing with another author, especially someone as tenacious, gracious, and creative as Janet.
Janet: Or as funny, talented, and kind as Dave. (Can you say mutual admiration society? It’s been a blast!)

Can you tell us more about the “Fun Facts” readers will find at the very back of the book?

Janet: We decided to incorporate some historic facts in each book, and the “Fun Facts” helps define certain facts versus fiction. One example is the waist overalls made by Levi Strauss that Annie wears. These were the original blue jeans, and in our Fun Facts a reader will learn that when they were first created by German-born businessman Levi Strauss and Latvian-born tailor Jacob Davis, blue jeans were actually called “waist overalls.” The duo received a patent for them on May 20, 1873, with a product that had one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, and brace buttons. When a young reader reads this Fun Fact, we hope it inspires them to pause and consider the origins of other everyday items. Perhaps there are many young inventors out there, in need of inspiration and a nudge!

What is your favorite part of being an author / or the process of writing?

Dave: Hands down, it’s when I daydream of people reading our stories. After which, my imagination blossoms more to fans tossing me the keys to their Ferrari—and not to park it for them—then they offer to buy me and Janet fried chicken dinners.
Janet: What Dave said. Plus, bending my imagination 90 degrees to somewhere. Inspiring a reader. Preserving history.

What does a typical work day of writing look like for you?

Dave: There is no typical. My days are maxed with tutoring my son in algebra, playing music gigs, performing stand up, an auditing occupation, planning a convention, exercise, my lovely girlfriend, and having a good time. I truly write due to my love for it because there’s no time otherwise. Because of odd predicaments, I’ve borrowed other folks’ computers and even typewriters to get something on the page. I’ve scrawled on napkins.
Janet: I’ve never been a good sleeper, so I sneak out of bed when the Great Horned Owls are still conversing. First, I check email. (Who doesn’t?) While I used to work on manuscript drafts during those wee hours, now I work on my 359th FG posts or answer questions about the Fighter Group. After breakfast I write new words. Then I’ll edit (I can edit all day, but my brain begins to protest after writing three or four or pages of new words). That’s another reason I love collaborating on stories!

Have you ever had a mentor, or someone who sparked your passion for writing?

Dave: Yoda, but Janet wound up being better.
Janet: After I stop blushing, I’m going to work on growing long pointy ears. Really though – reading, reading and more reading.

Annie is such a trailblazer and great role model for young readers. What do you hope fans of the book will take away from the story?

Janet: That girls rock!
Dave: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper is the really good book you’ve been looking for. Also – I do want everyone to know that I learned to crack a whip just because of the Indiana Jones movies (which influenced Misfortune Annie’s creation).

What do you feel makes your book unique from other middle grade fiction out there?

Dave: The characters are peculiar, funny, and cool.
Janet: Especially Annie.
Dave: Yes, you won’t be able to wait for Book Two.

Ah! So speaking of book two, what’s next for Misfortune Annie?

Throughout the series, we will see more problems that Annie doesn’t get credit for because she’s a girl in a ‘tough guy’ world.

A long cast of colorful crooks (think James Bond’s bullies) is waiting to take on the fastest draw in the west. Book Two leads Annie to New Orleans and face-to-face with a wicked Voodoo priest. In another episode, the Dragon Warrior shall render her six shooters useless. A sinister magician will perform the ultimate trick on her and the Secret Service. Beware pirates! Look out for creatures in the woods, Annie! Not to mention cameos by historical figures like Wyatt Earp, Baby Doe Tabor, and Teddy Roosevelt—perfect walk-ons to spark curiosity about US History.

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Janet Fogg

Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.

Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group. She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.

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The authors sure know how to Kid around with Gusto!

Dave Jackson

Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.

A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.

In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty.

Author Links below:

Perfect Picture Book Friday! I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino

22 Jan

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it’s a really profound story.

storyI Am A Story
By Dan Yaccarino
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on Sept. 6 2016

Theme/Topic- The history of storytelling? It’s a bit hard to narrow down.

Genre- Fiction? Nonfiction?

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I am a story. I was told along a campfire, then painted on cave walls.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Internationally acclaimed author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino presents a powerful picture book that celebrates storytelling—from the past to the present and beyond.

From cave drawings to the invention of the printing press to our digital age, discover how a story has been told in many different ways from the past to today. It’s always been around, making us happy, sad, excited, or scared and bringing people together. With simple text and delightful illustrations, Dan Yaccarino reminds us of the power of story.”

What I Thought- I really like how this book recaps the history of storytelling in a simplified manner, taking you all the way from oral storytelling, through writing, printing, electronically, and then back to oral storytelling in a nice circular ending. The book has minimal text, making it a nice read-aloud for younger kids. Mr. Yaccarino’s illustrations are both detailed and simple, and kids will like looking at them. I mean, just take a look for your self!:

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Isn’t that great? I like how there is a detail that is shared with all of the pictures as they go throughout the timeline. This book is a nice transition into a topic on writing stories, or printing books as well. I really like how Mr. Yaccarino has found a way of writing a great book that takes your breath away as you read it and look at the illustrations.

Activities and Resources- Storyarts.org has a great list of activities for school kids that involve speaking/storytelling HERE.

Mensaforkids.org has tips on storytelling (good for kids and adults!) HERE!

Check out the trailer!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Creative Kid Thursday! Tanner Walling

19 Jan

Hi everyone! Today on Creative Kid Thursday, I am spotlighting kid author Tanner Walling, author of Fury of the Storm.

Tanner was nice enough to write a guest post, so I’m going to stop talking/typing and hand the mic/blog-space over to Tanner. Take it away, Tanner!

Hey everyone! My name is Tanner Walling and I am a teen author and science writer. Erik asked me to do a guest post about myself, my books, and what I want to do in the future and I gladly accepted. So, here’s the post!

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Here’s a little about myself. Outside of writing, publishing, and that kind of stuff, I maintain my science website, Science All Around, where I create articles and videos explaining science in an easy-to- understand way, since most science websites don’t do that. I’ve been writing for Science All Around for over three years. I also row for my school’s crew team, am a member of my school’s Model UN team, and enjoy traveling with my family.

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Now, to the meat of the post: BOOKS! I write action adventure novels for middle-school (ages 10-14) and young adult readers. The general theme in my books is action adventure that often has a survival element to it. Think Roland Smith and Gary Paulsen with a bit of James Dashner thrown in the mix. My books are also very-action packed, which my readers seem to really enjoy. The current series I’m writing is my Fury of the Storm series, which is a disaster survival series featuring Isaac Tohver, a fourteen year old who, in each book, fights to survive the largest disasters nature can throw at him. Here’s the description of the first book in the series, Fury of the Storm:

A Category 6 hurricane of massive proportions.
One private jet carrying two teens and their pilot.
They weather the plane crash.
But now they must survive.

After Isaac’s plane is torn to shreds in a grisly crash that he’ll never forget, he’s faced with the disastrous realization that his plane has crashed over a mile from the shore and the only link from them to the mainland is a string of small islands so small the waves threaten to spill over and drown them beneath their dark crests.

Faced with either death or attempting to make it to the mainland, they set off on a grueling journey to make it to the mainland and be rescued in the largest and most furious hurricane the world has ever seen.

Fury of the Storm was the first book I ever wrote. I started it back when I was eleven, but really didn’t write it until I was twelve. Then, it went through editing and was published about a year later, in February 2016. The second book, tentatively titled Foreshock, is being edited, the third book is currently being written, and the fourth book is in the planning stages. For the future outside of writing, I plan to go into a science or technology field for a career.

If you have questions about writing, publishing, or anything like that, I’d be glad to answer them. You can find me online through the links below. Thanks to all of you for reading! I especially want to thank Erik for offering me the guest post!

Thank you Tanner for stopping by and writing this post!

Check out Tanner’s links below!

Website: http://tannerwalling.weebly.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tanner-Walling/e/B0136W8STI
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tannerwauthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tannerwauthor/

Review! Super Gear by Jennifer Swanson

16 Jan

supergearSuper Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up
By Jennifer Swanson
80 pages – ages 8+
Published by Charlesbridge on June 7, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- How are the sports played by Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Michelle Wie, and Usain Bolt related? Nanotechnology!

Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more. It is changing the face of sports as we know it.

What I Thought- You don’t have to be a sprots fan to enjoy this cool book. It is neat how  Swanson combines a topic most kids like (sports) with a topic most know little about (nanotechnology). Swanson explains the details about what makes nanotechnology work in an easy-to-understand way. She also includes science principles explained, such as drag and turbulence, as well as things such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. There is a great index and resource list at the end of the book as well. There are good illustrations throughout the book – they include real pictures of sports and athletes, and also artists’ interpretations of the theoretical molecular structures. All of this is easy to understand. Kids will also like doing the experiments in the book that help explain concepts. The book is organized into easy grouping with the chapters. Ms. Swanson does a good job of relating the two subjects. I recommend this book to science buffs and sports buffs and everyone in between!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Underground Toy Society by Jessica D. Adams

11 Jan

undergroundThe Underground Toy Society
By Jessica D. Adams
24 pages – ages 4+
Published by CreateSpace on June 8, 2015

Synopsis from the Publisher- What happens to toys when children don’t play with them? Where do toys go when their children grow up? What happens when there are too many toys in one house? Find out when Samantha goes on an exciting underground adventure as she tries to find her best friend after they were separated.

What I Thought- This was a cute story. The illustrations were done by the author’s daughters, and are a nice example of genuine “kid art.” The book is a good happy story that small kids will like listening to as a read-aloud and early readers can manage. There were one or two spots in the story that I felt could have been expanded on, but I think the book is spot on for Adams’ target audience. The story is one kids can relate to and will enjoy reading about Samantha’s adventure. The cover serves its purpose, and gives a good teaser into the book although I would have liked to seen more of the kid art. The story is a good one for introducing kids to early chapter books as it has more words and smaller pictures than a standard picture book. The story has no chapters making it an easy transitional piece from picture books to early readers.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

8 Jan

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a super sweet story about trying your best and overcoming your fears with a little help from your friends.

madelineMadeline Finn and the Library Dog
By Lisa Papp
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Peachtree Publishers on October 1, 2016

Theme/Topic-Reading/Trying Your Best

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I do NOT like to read!

Synopsis from Publisher: “Madeline Finn DOES NOT like to read.
Not books.
Not magazines.
Not even the menu on the ice cream truck.
But Madeline Finn DOES want a gold star from her teacher.
Stars are for good readers.
Stars are for understanding words.
And saying them out loud.
Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out.
As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. Just like the sticker says.

What I Thought- I really like how this book doesn’t attribute Madeline’s reading troubles to anything, such as dyslexia, so it can relate to any kid, whether they have dyslexia or just trouble reading. Ms. Papp has written a good story about how if you keep trying at something, and take your time, you can ultimately succeed at your goal. It’s also nice that the story teaches this all without making it obvious that you are learning. That’s skill. Ms. Papp’s soft watercolors make the story feel intimate and cheery.madeline2  The book is perfect to read with children, as it is a problem they may empathize with. Madeline Finn will remind you of that one spunky person in your life who is insistent that it is their way or the highway. She wants to read, but is certain she cannot. She realizes that with gentle, quiet support (dogs don’t judge you for making mistakes) she can keep going, and ultimately succeed.madeline3 It’s a nice story with a positive ending, and an even happier twist. Kids will like this story that encourages them to keep trying and work it out.

Activities and Resources- I found a great article that has tips to encourage reading from Readingrockets.org HERE!

There is a good article on teaching perseverance with young kids at Momentsaday.com HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days In Orbit by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

6 Jan

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a good anti-bullying story.

planetkindergarten100Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days In Orbit
Written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Illustrated by Shane Prigmore
36 pages – ages 5+

Published by Chronicle Books on October 4, 2016

Theme/Topic- Teamwork/Helping others

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening:

Star Log: Day 100
Base camp is lively. I greet my crewmates and admire their work.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Star Log: Day 100. Base camp is lively. I greet my crewmates and admire their work. We have mastered many skills on our journey, but today brings a new milestone. There have been: 100 roll calls. 100 songs. 100 pledges. 100 challenging days full of exploration and triumph! Little ones will be over the moon as they celebrate school’s 100th Day with this clever, dynamically illustrated book, and eager to suit up for another daring adventure exploring and conquering Planet Kindergarten.”

What I Thought- This is a neat sequel to Planet Kindergarten (see my review HERE). I like how the way the kids are drawn creates mild confusion for the kids about whether they are human or alien.  One of the reasons I like this book is that while the text makes it seem like it is very much in outer space, but then the illustrations show plastic building bricks, a dodge ball, and other such Earthly things. The illustrations are fun to look at and have tons of details that add to the story.

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It is a really nice combination that kids will like a lot. Ms. Ganz-Schmitt is onto a really good idea, as this series teaches about friendship and other great ideas for kids. This one teaches about teamwork, and helping others.

Activities and Resources- Care.com has a great list of activities for toddlers-elementary school kids that build teamwork HERE! This list is good for teachers or parties.

Brighthorizons.com has a nice post about teaching your kids to help others by showing them an example HERE! This post is better suited towards parents.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Series Review! The Atlantis Saga by TA Barron

4 Jan

I am so jazzed about this awesome series! Check out my review below!

atlantisrising1Atlantis Rising
Series: Atlantis Saga #1
By TA Barron
384 pages – ages 9+
Published by Philomel Books on September 26, 2013

Synopsis from Publisher- In a magical land called Ellegandia, a young boy named Promi scrapes by, stealing pies, cakes and sweets to survive. But little does he know that his country is a pawn in an ages-old war between good and evil, battled both in the spirit realm and in the human world. Harboring secrets of his own, Promi teams up with a courageous girl named Atlanta and the two vow to save their land—and each other—no matter the cost. But their vow has greater repercussions than they ever could imagine—in fact, it may just bring about the creation of Atlantis, an island cut off from the rest of the world, where magic reigns supreme.

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atlantis2Atlantis In Peril
Series: Atlantis Saga #2
By TA Barron
272 pages – ages 9+
Published by Philomel Books on May 5, 2015

Synopsis from Publisher- In Atlantis Rising, Promi and Atlanta saved their homeland by transforming it into the magical island of Atlantis. They had hoped that would keep it out of the clutches of the evil spirit warlord Narkazan. But Narkazan has returned, more determined than ever to conquer the spirit realm and Atlantis as well. Will the destiny of the mystical isle lie in the boat of Greek sailors who wash up on shore? The powers of the ethereal oceanglass? Or will the growing bond between Promi and Atlanta cause the strongest magic?

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9780399168055_AtlantisLost_HC_CvLib.inddAtlantis Lost
Series: Atlantis Saga #3
By TA Barron
224 pages – ages 9+
Published by Philomel Books on November 8, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- The veil between the Spirit Realm and the mortal world has fallen, and the evil lord Narkazan is primed to claim the magical Starstone for himself once and for all. But when tragedy befalls Promi’s newly reunited family, he knows that he can’t let Narkazan ruin everything his parents held dear. With his friends beside him, Promi battles Narkazan in the Spirit Realm, to ensure that the Starstone remains safe from Narkazan’s mortal followers. But how far will Promi have to go to keep the world and the people he loves safe?

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What I Thought About the Series- Wow. Mr. Barron is a fabulous writer – I couldn’t put any of these books down. I read all of these in two days. They were that good. The worst part of the series was that you got incredibly attached to all of the characters…but you knew what was going to happen in the last book (Guess what? Atlantis sinks!). And that made it hard to read on…but you couldn’t stop. I tried and I failed. Mr. Barron has a writing style that gets the reader involved, and keeps you on your toes. Mr. Barron has done a marvelous job of taking mythology, magic, and realism and tossing them all together in a big melting pot. He created a culture where every type of person and animal lived. He created a religion for that culture, with spirits for them to pray to. He created a government for that culture. Only to destroy it all in the end.

Promi is a character you can empathize with, seeing as he is a sort of honor-bound/Robin Hood-like thief. He only steals from those that deserve it, and in the book, there are quite a few people that deserve it. After all, the religious government is almost completely corrupt. They make for a good villain, where everyone reading despises them. Atlanta is a great supporting character who is the moral backbone for Promi, as he goes from a selfish thief only looking out for himself to a truly caring hero. It is a marvelous transformation.

The series is written in a satisfying way. I found it heartbreaking, however, what was happening to Atlantis in Book 2, with foreigners industrializing it, and also polluting it. Those scenes were written to engage your emotions, and are most likely a stance against the wickedness of humans ruining our planet. If so, then we need it. Atlantis was on the way of having its magic ruined forever. Why let Earth’s natural magic be put to waste?

To sum it all up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series. Mr. Barron has made a fan out of me, and I will continue to look for more of Mr. Barron’s work, particularly his Merlin series.

I give this series five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

3 Jan

wardensdaughterThe Warden’s Daughter
By Jerry Spinelli
352 pages – ages 9+
Will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 3rd, 2017

Synopsis- Cammie O’Reilly is in prison. But not serving a crime. You see, her father is the warden of the jail, and she lives in an apartment above it. It’s a good life, though. The one thing that she really doesn’t have is a mother. Yeah, her dad is a good father, but he just doesn’t have that motherly vibe. So that’s why Cammie decides to make Eloda, one of the trustees (prisoners with privileges) in charge of housekeeping, her mother. Cammie sets about trying to win her over. Except that Eloda wants nothing to do with her. After all, inmates should keep their distance from the warden’s daughter. But Cammie can be very persistent. It’s going to be an interesting summer.

What I Thought This was a really neat historical fiction novel. It’s set in 1959, with an introduction and epilogue set in 2017 from Cammie’s point-of-view. Mr. Spinelli has a way of writing that makes it seem like a close friend telling a story, with a whole lot of little details that remind you of life in its fullest. Things like getting how people would act in a situation to a point where the reader thinks, even sometimes reluctantly, “Yeah, I’d do that.” I think it’s really cool that in Mr. Spinelli’s Acknowledgements he points out that he actually knows a lady who was an actual warden’s daughter, and that gave Mr. Spinelli the idea to write this book. Cammie is a great character that you really route for as she is figuring out her problems and coming to terms with her mom’s death. The characters and relationships between them are fully developed.The reader really gets to know them. I especially liked the unusual prison setting and the twist that a warden’s daughter was seeking something she needed on an emotional level from an inmate. It’s a great hook for the story. Mr. Spinelli breathed life into both Cammie and Eloda and made the readers care for them. This is a really beautiful coming-of-age story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

14 Year Old Erik This Kid Reviews Books Will No Longer Be Reviewing Books

24 Dec

Yes, you read that right. 14-year old Erik will no longer be reviewing books.

Why?

Because today I am fifteen!

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What better way to celebrate than with a review of a REALLY great book I recently picked up at the Lititz Kid Lit Festival in Lititz PA. If you’ve never been, you should check it out (it’s held every fall) – click HERE for details.

The festival is organized by a great family owned bookstore – Aaron’s books – visit their website HERE

I interviewed the author of AbrakaPOW, Isaiah Campbell for Scholastic News at the festival. We talked about the challenges of writing books for middle grade readers.

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To read that interview, click HERE to go to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps site.

Now on to the review!

abrakapowAbrakaPOW
Written by Isaiah Campbell
Illustrated by Dave Perillo
400 pages – ages 8+
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 8, 2016

Synopsis- It’s WWII and Max’s father is in charge of a Prisoner-Of-War camp in Texas that is harboring several Nazis. Max doesn’t like living there, having just moved from Brooklyn and dealing with culture shock, but when her father asks her if she wants to put on a magic show for the prisoners, she is thrilled. Until the prisoners escape during her show. That kind of puts a damper on excitement. The escaped Nazis plan on making it across the border into Mexico and catching a ride back to Germany, and Max and her friends are the only ones able to stop them. Will they get the prisoners back before they get away for good?

What I Thought- I really like this historical fiction novel – taking an actual event that happened near the end of World War II, and reasoning that the only way it possibly could have happened was with the help of magic. They say truth is stranger than fiction and knowing that there were actually Nazi prisoners of war in Texas during WWII is a part of history I knew nothing about! It is a rather neat story – even though the real-life facts are almost unbelievable – and the characters are portrayed in convincing ways. Because of the time period, there is some prejudice (slight sexism at time, where the boys in the group of friends would insist on doing something, with the girls groaning about the boys acting like that; along with some racial prejudice, such as a Japanese boy being teased for how he speaks, along with the fact that Max and her family are Jewish). These details speak to the truth of what was going on at the time but in a kid-friendly way. There are illustrated diagrams of how to do magic tricks at the end of some of the chapters, mostly of magic tricks mentioned in the book. I really enjoyed reading the book, and I couldn’t put it down!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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