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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017! The Trail of the Dead by Joseph Bruchac #ReadYourWorld

27 Jan

I am super happy to be part of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Celebration! Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

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Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa,Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson,  Hena Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg RansomSandra RichardsElsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Here are some resources you can use to help celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

trailTrail of the Dead
Joseph Bruchac
400 pages – ages 13+
Published by Tu Books on October 1, 2015

Synopsis from Publisher- In the sequel to the award-winning Killer of Enemies, Apache teen Lozen and her family are looking for a place of refuge from the despotic Ones who once held them captive and forced Lozen to hunt genetically engineered monsters. Lozen and her allies travel in search of a valley where she and her family once found refuge. But life is never easy in this post-apocalyptic world. When they finally reach the valley, they discover an unpleasant surprise awaiting them and a merciless hunter following close behind. Hally, their enigmatic Bigfoot friend, points them to another destination a possible refuge. But can Lozen trust Hally? Relying on her wits and the growing powers that warn her when enemies are near, Lozen fights internal sickness to lead her band of refugees to freedom and safety. Alongside family, new friends, and Hussein, the handsome young man whose life she saved, Lozen forges a path through a barren land where new recombinant monsters lurk and the secrets of this new world will reveal themselves to her . . . whether she wants them to or not.”

I want to thank Lee & Low Books for supplying this book for me to read and review!

What I Thought- This was a really interesting story, taking place in a post-apocalyptic world set in the far future. It is the second book of a trilogy with the first being Killer of Enemies. You do not have to read the first book to be caught up to speed for the second. In Trail of the Dead, I like that it shows that the lines between man and myth are being blurred, after man’s fall from technology. Honestly, that aspect of the plot reminds me of Terry Brooks’ excellent “The Sword of Shannara” series, where man had a great war using their technology, thousands of years pass, and the world has evolved and mostly forgotten the past and been reunited with magic. But this series is wonderfully different – the series takes place right after that horrible ending of life as we knew it. It was interesting seeing how it warns against certain things nowadays. One thing I found interesting was that the overlord-type people from before the book had started putting technology into themselves, rather than risk creating computers that might decide to kill all of humankind. Really neat points. The story itself is rather good, with a slow start, but with the plot picking up remarkably fast. There are characters you root for, characters you sympathize with, and characters you absolutely despise – all necessary for keeping the reader riveted. The book’s multicultural aspect is a subtle part in the story at first and develops with the story. It includes references to several cultures (one of the characters is hinted at as being Muslim, for example, although Lozen is not quite sure because religion was banned years before her birth). Lozen and her family are predominately of Chiricahua descent (a Native American people) among others, and the book reflects that, showing tastes of their customs/culture and legends (of course, because religion was banned, it is slightly fragmented, but it is still very neat), and the book even uses a few words, easy to understand in the context of the story. There was some mild language used and complexity to the plot, so I recommend the book to a 13+ audience. I didn’t care for the formatting in the first chapter with regards to the thought dialogue. In Chapter One, punctuation/formatting isn’t used to show Lozen thinking to herself, although this does change to standard formatting as the book goes on. It was okay, but personally I think it makes reading a bit clumsy. I think that Bruchac has done a good job of explaining book one while not slowing the story down (you get a bigger picture as the book unfolds). The book is well-written, and a good action story that also brings in a mix of cultures. I would definitely recommend this book.

I found a nice website with legends of Native Americans, some of them from the Chiricahua tribe, like the one that Lozen is from. You can see them at Manataka.org HERE.

To join the MCBD link up, go HERE!

Review! Children and the Tundra by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey

27 Nov

tundraChildren and the Tundra
Series: The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance #5
Written by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey
Designed by Lauren LoPrete
64 pages – ages 13+
Published by McSweeney’s on April 12, 2016

Synopsis- Have you ever wanted to know about the coldest regions on Earth – the hearts of children? Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with all of the cute and cuddly animals – who want out of the tundra life? Then, unfortunately, this is the book for you. It would have been really nice if it were two books. You see, due to horribly-prioritized budget cuts in the publishing house, these two very different topics-children and the tundra-are placed within the same covers. Even worse, people don’t treat it like the science book it is *cough cough*most definitely not*cough cough*.

What I Thought- This book is my kind of book! It is a satirical view on science books meant for children. The humor is VERY dry and you have to like that kind to really appreciate this book. I did show it to some friends and they didn’t get it/find it that funny, so I guess it depends on how you find your funny bone.  The book is completely factually inaccurate, all while saying anyone who says different is making things up. It includes a list of the main kinds of tundra, which include the same picture of a tundra with different picture styles and captions. It includes the history of the early sightings of children and how they were discovered by a French monk who liked writing in English. Then there is the girl who was too boring to write about…

boring

This is only the beginning folks, so hold onto your hats and dive into the Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance!

Dr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey has 31 degrees from 32 institutions of higher learning – “most of them in countries better than yours.”. She an expert on everything and really distrusts the children species. Her husband Benny Haggis-On-Whey is basically completely useless and only adds to the humor with his incompetence.

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Authors Benny and Doris

The  book is a clean read for all ages, but really young kids won’t “get” it. I would say it is a great read for 13+ who has a broader sense of humor.

I give this book five out of five bookworms with a caution that not everyone will appreciate the humor.fivebooks

#LockwoodandCo Halloween Giveaway! LOCKWOOD & CO by Jonathan Stroud

27 Oct

Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy is a favorite of mine so I was thrilled when Disney Hyperion sent me all four books in his Lockwood & Co series and is allowing me to give away a prize pack of all four books PLUS a cool pumpkin carving kit to get everyone in the Halloween mood! 

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About the series:

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

Jonathan Stroud, author of the internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books, continues his hit series of supernatural thrillers about three teen members of a Psychic Detection Agency who are battling an epidemic of ghosts in London. The fourth book in the series, The Creeping Shadows, released September 13th.

WHO IS THIS JONATHAN STROUD???

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Jonathan Stroud (www.jonathanstroud.com) is the author of three previous books in the Lockwood & Co. series as well as the New York Times best-selling Bartimaeus books, and the stand-alone titles Heroes of the Valley, The Leap, The Last Siege, and Buried Fire. He lives in England with his wife and three children.

Want to learn more?

Creep on over to LockwoodandCo.com.

Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram.

What I Thought:

I am by no means a fan of scary horror books. I really have a distaste for monster books (with a few exceptions). I would not classify these books in these groups. These books are creepy paranormal meets Sherlock Holmes. I like creepy. Stroud’s writing and story-telling abilities shine through in each book. Want to see what I mean? Click HERE to read an excerpt from the newest book – CREEPING SHADOW.

I love the dystopian setting in the books. It is a clash of modern London with a hint of Holmes and a big ghost problem. Stroud pulls the reader into this world with ease and before you know it, you are completely submersed in the plot.  The characters are memorable with a favorite being Lucy, who tells the story from her point of view. Each book in the series, including Creeping Shadow, can be read individually, but I urge you not to cheat yourself out of the series.

AND HERE IS YOUR CHANCE TO WIN THE ENTIRE SET!!!

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Prize: One (1) winner will receive a prize pack containing the following:

  • print copy of the Lockwood & Co. series (4 books)

  • a pumpkin-carving kit to get into the Halloween spirit!

  • Contest ends: October 31, 11:59 pm, 2016

    Open: United States

    How to enter: Please enter by commenting below for a random draw. Winner will be announced on November 1, 2016.

**Disclosure – Free products provided by Disney Consumer Products. All views are my own.

Halloween Picks!

24 Oct

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With Halloween sneaking up on us, I thought I’d tell you about some great Halloween books I’ve come across.

 

whoswhoWho’s Who in the Woods?

Written by Eryl Norris

Illustrated by Andy Mansfield

18 pages – ages 1-5
Published by Little Bee Books on October 6, 2015

Synopsis from Publisher- “Find out which pair of eyes belong to which woodland animal in this engaging novelty book with pop-ups on every page!

It’s nighttime in the woods and there are eyes peeping out from the darkness—but who do they belong to? Pop-ups on each page reveal different woodland animals, including an owl, a bear, a wolf, and more.”

What I Thought- This is a cute pop-up book. i like it that the pages are very sturdy.  I don’t like it when pop-up books get caught up or bent easily. The book is illustrated in white and shades of gray with big yellow eyes for kids to figure out who they belong to.

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The illustrations have just a little bit of spookiness about them – just right for young kids. The story has the reader trying to figure out who a “terrible creature” in the woods is. After examining all sorts of glowing eyes in the woods, the creature turns out to be a little mouse. This will make a great read aloud for Halloween night!

turkeyTurkey Trick or Treat Hardcover

by Wendi Silvano

Illustrated by Lee Harper

40 pages -ages 3 – 7
Published by by Two Lions on August 11, 2015

Synopsis from publisher- “Everyone loves Halloween candy—even Turkey. But how can he and his barnyard friends get any when the farmers give it out only to children? With a costume, of course! As his pals look on, Turkey comes up with one clever costume after the next. Each trick gets better and better…but will Turkey and his friends end up with any treats? This hilarious companion to Turkey Trouble and Turkey Claus is filled to the brim with holiday fun.”

What I Thought- This is a funny story that kids of all ages will like. Silvano’s story has Turkey wanting to get some Halloween candy but can’t fool the farmer into giving him any (candy is only for kids not farm animals!). The story shows great teamwork as the farm animals help turkey come up with solutions. After each failed attempt – the farm animals show perseverance and don’t give up. In the end, their solution is ingenious (won’t give it away 😉 )! Harper’s illustrations add an incredible amount of detail and humor to Silvano’s fun story.
hideousHideous History: Trials and Trickery Hardcover
by Sandra Lawrence

Series: Hideous History
64 pages – ages 10+
Published by Little Bee Books on July 5, 2016

Synopsis from publisher- “All the grim, gruesome and gory bits of history they never teach you in school!

From the betrayal and murder of Julius Caesar by Marcus Brutus to the gunpowder plot to overthrow the English government of Guy Fawkes to the outlandish trials of witches, this book is packed with men, women, and historical events that involve unfair trials and unspeakable treachery. Others included are: La Malinche, the Spanish Inquisition, the trial and execution of Charles I, the betrayal of Jesse James by Robert Ford, and trial and execution methods, among others. Kids will love the scrapbook style and all the illustrations and charts!”

What I Thought- This was an interesting book. Warning that it is a little gory. It describes deaths, beheadings, and other grisly things – not in extreme details but enough to get the idea.  The pages are laid out in a neat way, with text boxes, illustrations, and pictures. It makes it visually appealing to the reader. Kids get to learn a bit of history too.

hideous2It is a really neat nonfiction read, and kids will like reading about the things they don’t really hear about in school. It is an interesting book that will appeal to reluctant readers too!

missperigineMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

382 pages – ages 14+
Published by Quirk Books on June 4, 2013

Synopsis from publisher- “A mysterious island.

 An abandoned orphanage.

 A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.”

What I Thought- Okay – so I haven’t read this book yet but it is sitting next in line on my to be read list after seeing the movie. I am one who never sees a movie first, but my mom wanted to go see this (she read the book) and took me along. Mom said the movie does the book justice (she had a few minor complaints). Well, I loved the movie and am expecting the book to be even better. I think this creepy paranormal story will be great for teens this time of year!

Review! Shadow of the Wolf by Tim Hall

23 Jul

wolfShadow of the Wolf

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.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! The Flying Burgowski by Gretchen K. Wing

20 May

flyingThe Flying Burgowski

By Gretchen K. Wing

254 pages – ages 12+

Published by Gretchen K Wing on February 25, 2014

Synopsis- 14-year-old Jocelyn Burgowski knew her life was terrible. She actually preferred her flying dreams to her real-life – getting lost in her thoughts about flying. On her next birthday, amazingly, she CAN fly! She just leaps into the air and all of a sudden, her life was perfect! Her jerk of a brother was leaving to live with their alcoholic Mom (on the main land) for the summer, she got his job, and now she really could fly! Perfect… not so much. She finds out that she’ll be going to stay with her Mom too. In the very crowded city! This means little open spaces and no room to fly and right next to all the problems she thought she was leaving behind.

What I Thought- This was a really good book! Jocelyn is a great main character whom you really feel for! Her life is extremely miserable and depressing, you just want to cheer her on especially when she realizes she can fly. The characters in the book cuss, but Jocelyn, because she is “writing” the book, translates/censors some of them. The family has some troubles – the mom is mentioned to have at some point been a druggie and alcoholic, but is (mostly) clean now. Despite these depressing points, the book has a positive feel, a happy ending and the story never seems to drag. Ms. Wing’s writing style is realistic, and feels like a written journal. She makes you feel like there is no hope left for Jocelyn, and then suddenly adds rays of hope. Bonus points for a cool cover! I hope that there is a second book, but this could be a stand alone novel.

I give this 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Review! The Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee

22 Apr

kidneyThe Kidney Hypothetical (or how to ruin your life in seven days)
By Lisa Yee
272 pages – ages 12+
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on March 31, 2015

Synopsis- From GoodReads: “Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it’s on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally, everything his parents could have wanted. Everything they wanted for Higgs’s older brother Jeffrey, in fact.

But something’s not right. And when Higgs’s girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he’d give her a kidney…the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life…

What I Thought- I dislike teen romance stories. BUT bonus points to the author for having the main character break up with his girlfriend in Chapter Two. 🙂 At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book but I found the story written well and there was enough of a story line to keep me interested. The book is young YA level (reading and content). It is a short read but the story moves along at a good pace and it feels complete when you are done. The characters were well-rounded but parts of the plot seemed a bit unrealistic- Higgs gives up going to Harvard?!? The story overall keeps the reader’s attention and there are some thoughtful moments between Higgs  and Monarch (a girl Higgs befriends after he broke up with his girlfriend). There wasn’t the WOW factor for me in the story to say run to the bookstore to buy it, but it is definitely worth a read.

I give this book 3 out of 5 bookworms.threebooks

Review! X: A Novel by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz

12 Feb

xX: A Novel

By Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz (the daughter of Malcolm X)

384 pages – ages 15+
Published by Candlewick on January 6, 2015

Synopsis- Malcolm Little was 6 when his father “fell” onto the tracks and died. He was 12 when he was separated from his mother and siblings, and forced to live in a foster home. His family who always told him he could be anything he wants is gone. At 15, he left for Boston to find a new life, and he does. He gets going with the neighborhood kids, and becomes known as Red. He starts in on “reefer”. Then he catches a train to Harlem, and becomes known as Detroit Red (he was from Michigan). Now Malcolm is learning how to run the “numbers” as a hustler. He was doing pretty good, but soon enough, everything spins out of control.

What I Though- Wow. Just wow. This was an amazing fictionalized novel. I really didn’t know about Malcolm X before reading this book. This book covers his life from early childhood up to his early 20s. The writing is compelling. It really captures the feeling of the time period. I like how it shows the way the Malcolm saw things and how he handled them. While the book is definitely a young adult (cussing, and Malcolm drinks and does drugs (smokes marijuana), etc.), it is still a very well-done story, and is appropriate for a mature 13-14 year old, or just 15+ for reading level. I like the parts where it shows how Malcolm Little “turned into” Malcolm X. It was a very inspiring story about a person overcoming adversity. It was pretty cool that Ms. Shabazz is Malcolm X’s daughter, and she got information about the book by asking her father’s relatives and friends from the time “before the X”. Realizing the book is a work of fiction, it made me want to find out more about Mr. X and his life so I read some books suggested by my history and English teachers. While I found many of his adult teachings and views are controversial, I think any book like this one, that gets a kid to read more about the subject is great. The overall story in this book is one of a young man trying and failing over and over, but still pulling himself together in the end. Ms. Shabazz captures the story of a young Malcolm X in a riveting story. Bonus points for the cover art too!

I give “X: A Novel” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

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