Review! The Great Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg

30 Aug

shelbyThe Great Shelby Holmes

By Elizabeth Eulberg

256 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 6, 2016

Synopsis from publisher- “Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen-always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.

When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.”

What I Thought- First off, I just want to say that I appreciate that the book parallels the Sherlock Holmes stories, while not mirroring them. It is more of a referencing, with obvious ones being the name of Shelby’s dog, Sir Arthur, after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes books, along with John Watson, and him wanting an alias name of Sherlock Holmes. But there are more subtle ones, such as the apartment building the two share is 221 Baker Street – the building the original Holmes and Watson shared. But then it is its own story. There is a good amount of intrigue, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Shelby is an interesting character, and you are always trying to figure her out. I really enjoyed this first book, and want to read another!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

27 Aug

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 unique story on perspective.

They All Saw a CatThey All Saw a Cat
By Brendan Wensel
44 pages – ages 5+

Published by Chronicle Books on August 30, 2016

Theme/Topic- Perspective

Genre- Realistic Fiction? Nonfiction?

Opening and Synopsis- Opening:The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws…'”

Synopsis from publisher: “In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?

What I Thought- This is a really neat book. I like that when the others look at the cat, not only does it look different, but the illustrations reflect what is seen is an amazing way. Check out some interior pages –

image004 image005 image003

 

That was pretty cool! The story is a great way to teach kids about perspective and the way things are seen by different people. A great lesson of what you see is not what someone else may see! This is  Wenzel’s debut as both an author and illustrator, and it is great start. I am anxiously awaiting his next creation!

Activities and Resources- There is a great lesson plan about perspectives at Readwritethink.org HERE!

Teachingwithamountainview.com has a fabulous post on teaching point of view HERE!

Check out the book’s trailer –

Chronicle Books has an activity pack that goes with the book that you can download. Click HERE to get it!
To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Review! Thornghost by Tone Almhjell

25 Aug

thornghostThornghost

By Tone Almhjell

368 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on August 16, 2016

Synopsis- Niklas Summerhill has had nightmares for as long as he can remember. His mother died when he was younger, and he vividly remembers her last word – “Thornghost”. He has no idea what it means. But that is pushed out of his mind when livestock are being slashed by a mysterious beast, who ends up being from the depths of Niklas’ imagination. Pair that with a lynx that can speak and a world full of children’s imagination, and you get a fantastic adventure!

What I Thought- This book was both dark and fun at the same time – a weird combo, I know, but it actually works out pretty well. There is a lot of introspection going on, as Niklas thinks about all that he thinks he knew. Almhjell’s writing style is subtle, but marvelous. As the book goes on, Secret, the lynx, is slowly becoming more and more like the upright animals in the dream world. But, instead of saying that,  Almhjell shows us that by never addressing the fact that it was happening – sure, she wrote that it would probably happen, but showed us by having the lynx do more and more things that the upright animals would do. It was really neat. Niklas really grows as a character as well, from the kid who is afraid and tries to hide it by acting brave and pulling pranks, into a thoughtful boy with actual courage. It was a nice touch. This book is more on the serious side, but it is really good.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Jet Black and the Ninja Wind by Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani

25 Aug

jetblackJet Black and the Ninja Wind

Co-written by Leza Lowitz and Shogo Oketani

320 pages – ages 12+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on July 26, 2016

Synopsis- Jet Black has always been different. She doesn’t go to parties, she doesn’t wear designer clothes, and she most definitely does not have a normal pastime. You see, Jet Black is training to be a ninja – don’t laugh. You’ll never see your demise coming. Just like she didn’t expect her mother to die. Or how, when she gets to her grandfather’s house in Japan, he ends up dead as well. Now Jet must go and stop the single man who will go to any length that her mother spent her entire life hiding from. And only one will walk away…

What I Thought- Bottom line – I really liked the book.  I wasn’t quite sure I would review it when the publisher sent it to me. I think what threw me off was the cover (I really dislike it – it needs more ninja – to me it looks like a teenage vampire romance – I know, I know don’t judge a book based on it’s cover…). One day I picked it up and started paging through it and what I found was a really good action story with good characters. I found myself wrapped up in it enough to finish the story and I enjoyed it. I like how the book gave insights into another culture (actually two – Japanese and Ninja) while the story was evolving. While the story keeps the reader involved, I thought it could be tightened up a bit especially at the end. Never-the-less, the book is definitely worth picking up. The story about Jet Black and the personal struggles which she faces coming to terms with this responsibility of being a ninja really sold the book for me. Despite the cover.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! Real or Fake? by Emily Krieger

24 Aug

realorfakeReal or Fake?: Far-Out Fibs, Fishy Facts, and Phony Photos to Test for the Truth

Written by Emily Krieger

Illustrated by Tom Nick Cocotos

208 pages – ages 7+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on May 10, 2016

Synopsis from publisher- “Can you tell the truth from a tall tale? Spot a phony photo a mile away? Figure out a fib in five seconds flat? Put your amateur detective skills to work in this fun and wacky book. See if the truth triumphs as you encounter suspicious stories, fishy facts, lying lists, and more. You’ll also learn about history’s greatest hoaxes, secrets behind a good fake, internet urban legends, plus bonus information that will leave you second-guessing everything you’ve ever read. Complete with awesome photos and hilarious collage art, this is one book that you have to read to believe…or not!”

What I Thought- This is an interesting book, encouraging attention to detail and common sense. The book is fun, and kids will like reading about the hoaxes. The book challenges you to use your judgment, and figure out whether it really happened or not. There are several things in it that I didn’t expect, and I enjoyed the challenge immensely. The illustrations are neat, with a collage-y, cut-magazine look. I think that this is a neat nonfiction book that will challenge kids to re-think what they see..

National Geographic Kids has a “Real or Fake” video series kids can view. Click HERE to go to it.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! The Shattered Lens by Brandon Sanderson

22 Aug

shatteredlensThe Shattered Lens

Series: Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians (#2, #3)

Written by Brandon Sanderson

Illustrations by Hayley Lazo

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by Starscape on July 19, 2016

Synopsis- Alcatraz Smedry is back! Well, actually, he’s still been where he was, and you’ve just picked up the fourth book. Anyways, the country of Mokia is under siege by the Evil Librarians, and Nalhalla cannot send help because there is not a legal technicality enabling them to. Until Alcatraz and his family (plus Bastille!) decide to change that, that is. The Knights of Crystallia, the guardians of the royalty, are excellent warriors, and are supposed to protect the royalty. So, Alcatraz decides to do something stupid – he decides to visit a capital under siege. But will it be enough to change the outcome of the war?

What I Thought- This was an awesome book! It is a well-written for kids, and is clean. The book has a lot of humor that pokes fun on how books are written. Sanderson’s writing style is captivating.  I love the narration of  “Mr. Smedry” (the book is a “memoir” of Alcatraz), breaking the fourth wall with witty humor, and a way of making fun of everybody while not being 100% insulting. His snarkiness is just amazing. The story keeps the reader laughing through the entire book. The book is just as good as the others, if not better. You really see Alcatraz turn into a better leader, and learning responsibility (to a certain degree, after all, he is a 13-year-old boy and a Smedry!). There are illustrations throughout the book that add another dimension to the story, making the book even more funny. The book is a great read, and I cannot wait to read book five!

I give this five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Go to Sleep, Monster! by Kevin Cornell

19 Aug

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 fun, unique bedtime story.

gotosleepGo to Sleep, Monster!
By Kevin Cornell
32 pages – ages 5+

Published by Balzer + Bray on April 12, 2016

Theme/Topic- Facing your fears/Bedtime

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “‘George,’ said Anna, ‘turn off the light!'”

Synopsis from publisher: “Getting George to sleep is a nightmare. But getting a monster to sleep? That’s an adventure.

This is the first book written and illustrated by the bestselling artist of the Terrible Two series, Kevin Cornell.”

What I Thought- This is a fun bedtime story. The kids go down the line of scary monsters, and try to figure out what is scaring them. It encourages facing fears, and helping others. The book is funny, and kids will love having it read to them. Mr. Cornell’s illustrations go perfectly with the story, and really add another dimension to the book. I think that kids will enjoy poring over the illustrations, looking for extra details.

gotosleep1

The lighting effects in the illustrations are very cool. I even like the font used.

Activities and Resources- If you need help calming your kids down before bedtime, Parenting.com and Modernparentsmessykids.com both have great activities HERE and HERE.

Parents.com has a nice article about how to deal with fears in little kids HERE.

Read a sample of this book at the publisher’s website HERE.

Learn more about the art and concept art behind this book at Mr. Cornell’s website HERE.

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

AAARROOO!!! Its the The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Blog Tour and Giveaway!

18 Aug

Full Moon of the Were-Hyena banner
Welcome! Today, I am taking a part in the blog tour for Bruce Hale’s “Curse of the Were Hyena!”

TCURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA hi reshe Curse of the Were-Hyena

Written by Bruce Hale

224 pages – ages 8+

Published by Disney-Hperion on July 5, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Two likable fourth graders–Carlos and Benny–are a little freaked out since their favorite teacher, Mr. Chu, has started acting strangely, like sniffing people’s homework, laughing hysterically, and chasing chickens. When they decide to find out what’s happening to him, they get caught up in some moonlight madness. And that’s just the beginning . . . .”

 

When I got the information for the blog tour, I was asked if I wanted anything”special” from Mr. Hale. Well, I couldn’t resist asking for his best photo of himself as a were-hyena and a description of his night as a were-hyena. Thinking Mr. Hale would politely pass on my request, I was surprised to  get this back –

BruceHale_werewolfSnapshot-1 (2)

Who knew? Bruce Hale was a were-wolf in his earlier days! The picture was accompanied with a great story about his night as a were-hyena wolf.

Born to howl

By Bruce Hale

   I’ve always had a thing for werewolves. Maybe it’s innate in me. Or maybe it dates back to when, at nine years old, my buddies and I were watching The Wolf-man on TV, and my dad burst into the room wearing monster hands and my mom’s fur hat, howling away.

You don’t forget something like that.

Whatever the cause, this werewolf love has led me to watch lots of spooky movies and to write monster stories like my newest, THE CURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA. And once, it led me to get wolfy myself.

Back when I was living in Hawaii, a friend passed me a free ticket to the Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s costume ball fundraiser. As this was right before Halloween, my favorite time of year, I immediately agreed to go.

For days, I agonized over a costume. A professional children’s theater could generate some pretty cool outfits for the other attendees. What could I wear to keep up with them?

And then it hit me. Time to go full wolf-man.

With the help of a friend, I rounded up some fake hair and spirit gum, and shredded some old clothes. I put on some spooky makeup, and she painstakingly applied the hair to my clean-shaven face.

It looked great. With a wild howl, I hopped onto a borrowed motorbike and set out for the party. It wasn’t a long ride through that October night, but it was a memorable one.

I got so many double-takes from other drivers that I couldn’t help cracking up. What, they’d never seen a werewolf biker before?

Soon I reached the party, which was held in an old-timey mansion that could’ve doubled as a haunted house. I didn’t know anybody, which normally would’ve been a cause of concern.

But not this time.

I played the werewolf role to the hilt—howling, dancing like a wild man, and savaging the trays of appetizers. I even tried to sniff the people I met, not all of whom cared for this.

In short, I had a terrific time.

Other partiers tried to guess who I was under all that makeup and hair, but since they’d never met me before, all their guesses were wrong. I preserved my werewolf identity, never revealing my real name.

And when at last I mounted my motorbike and rode off under a gibbous moon, I rode with a smile. Many sons don’t want to end up just like their fathers, but when you’ve got a dad who’s a wolf-man, it’s just too much fun to resist.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!!

The Full Moon of the Were-Hyena Howling Good Giveaway!

Ten winners will receive a copy of Bruce Hale’s The Curse of the Were-Hyena. Four Grand Prize winners will receive The Curse of the Were-Hyena plus an advance reading copy of the second book in the series, Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies! And as a bonus, Grand Prize winners will also get a signed photo of Bruce Hale disguised as a were-wolf! Click here to enter.
Photo Credit Jose Carpizo

Photo Credit Jose Carpizo

Author Bio: Edgar-nominated author Bruce Hale is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 35 seriously funny books for children, including the popular School for S.P.I.E.S. and Chet Gecko Mysteries series; as well as picture books such as Clark the Shark, Snoring Beauty, and Big Bad Baby. An actor and a Fulbright Scholar in Storytelling, Bruce is in demand as a speaker, having presented at conferences, universities, and schools around the world. Bruce’s book The Malted Falcon was an Edgar Award Finalist and Murder, My Tweet won the Little D Award for Humor Writing. He lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife and dog.

Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook!
BUT WAIT! EVEN MORE!
What is a post about a book without me telling you what I thought about it?CURSE OF THE WERE-HYENA hi res

What I Thought- I really am not into monster stories but I really liked Hale’s writing in his School for S.P.I.E.S. series and figured I’d give it a try. I am happy I did. Although the story is about a fictional monster, Hale made his characters realistic. The characters in the book are fourth-graders and the dialogue is spot on. The illustrations throughout the book are a good addition and are great for the story’s intended audience. While I do not normally read monster books, this one is less on the horror, and has a decent amount of humor tossed in it. It is good for kids who want a scary story that isn’t too scary. There are still stakes (as in plot stakes, not vampire stakes), but the book is completely appropriate for an 8-year-old+ audience.  This is a great start to a new series!

Visit Mr. Hale’s website to get the discussion guide and activities!

Review! 101 Things to Do Outside

17 Aug

101outside101 Things to Do Outside

by Susan Hayes

Illustrated by  Shahid Mahmood

Editors Fay Evans, Lydia Halliday

144 pages – ages 8-12

Published by  Walter Foster Jr, (Division of Quatro) on March 1, 2016 (Published by Weldon Owen in  Great Britain 2015)

Synopsis from Publisher- “From animal tracking and survival skills to using a compass and growing vegetables, 101 Things to Do Outside is the perfect guide for young explorers and aspiring adventurers longing for a taste of the great outdoors. Right outside your front door, there’s a world bursting with adventures just waiting to be explored. This pocket-sized book is overflowing with things to try, do, learn, and remember (plus it has a handy checklist!). Includes helpful step-by-step illustrations and plenty of activities and lessons. Actvities include: Outdoor games such as beach basketball and giant chess; Outdoor art projects such as build a hammock and making bark rubbings; Outdoor nature activities such as bug hunting and fossil hunting; Outdoor gardening activities such as planting a boot garden and creating an herb window box; Outdoor exploring activities such as cooking on a campfire and sending message with a flashlight. The fourth installment of the 101 Things series encourages children to step away from the computer screen and experience nature firsthand from their very own backyards.”

What I Thought- This is a decent guide to doing things outside. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand. I really liked the format of the book – it’s spiral bound like a notebook. Each page has a description of an activity along with illustrations to help and a list of materials.  There is also a little check box at the bottom of each activity so you can mark that you’ve done it – nice feature.

101outside1

The pages are colored and have an “outdoorsy” feel about them.  The instructions also point out good times to ask an adult for help. There are games, crafts and some science based activities. Most of the activities are probably good for third graders and younger, with a few things for older kids. I took the book camping with us last week and read it. It gave us some ideas of things to do! I can see parents handing the book to kids who say “I’m bored” or using it as a way to get their kids outside more.  Overall a fun book that is a great boredom buster!

For a full preview of the book, visit the publisher’s website by clicking HERE.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Review! Miist by Kamilla Reid

16 Aug

miistMiist

Series: The Bone Grit Historeum (#1)

By Kamilla Reid

313 pages – ages 9+

Published by Kamilla Reid on October 3, 2015

Synopsis- In a fantasy world where humans aren’t the only intelligent life forms, there lived a girl named Root. Root wasn’t an ordinary girl – every human in the land has a Pyre, or a magical talent, and Root’s was one of the most infamous; the “Bone Grit”, or cursed Pyre, which enables the user to find objects considered lost forever. When the Guardian of the Land (a corrupted “governor”) issues a Marrow Bind, a mandatory call for service intended for kids of Bone Grit blood and Root is called, she realizes that all is not what it seems, especially when kids without wealth (AKA her) mysteriously “disappear” afterwards. It doesn’t help that the Guardian wants a magical vessel called the Miist of Kalliope found. The Miist can heal anything, was thought to be lost in an infamous battle, and is also an extremely dangerous object in the wrong hands…

What I Thought- This was a pretty good book! Ms. Reid’s writing style has a way of drawing you in and making you sympathize with the characters. The book is a little on the darker side, but it is a really well-written book. There are scary monsters, but the book is not graphic or anything like that. The characters are realistic, and the fantasy world makes sense. I really enjoyed reading about the adventures the characters go through. Root is a tough character who has a lot going on in her life, but still manages to pull ahead. I like how Ms. Reid wrote the book, the style being both serious and light-hearted. The plot keeps you interested, and the setting is dark, but the characters are like beacons of light in the world. The book is a great example of a well-executed self-published book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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