Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Book Giveaway: Thorn Abbey

I have FIVE copies of this great new YA thriller up for grabs! Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Thorn Abbey will have teen readers excited! Read my full review here

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state and email address. Deadline for posts is May 14 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen on that date randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified on May 14. Please check your email on that date. You will have 24 hours to respond to my email to claim your book prize. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Simon & Schuster and Anthony. Thanks, Anthony!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Monday, April 29, 2013

Origami Yoda/Fortune Wookiee Giveaway

I have 10 Fortune Wookiee standees (they stand about 4 feet in height)  up for grabs! In honor of May 4--May the Fourth be with you! and May the Folds be With You! For your chance to win your very own Fortune Wookiee standee, simply post a comment to the blog and include your first name, city, state (U.S. and Canada addresses only), and email address. 

Deadline for posts is May 8. Winners will be chosen at random by Randomizer. Winners will be notified by email on May 8 in the afternoon. Please check your email that day. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Standees will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet and Laura. Thanks, Laura!

May the Fourth Be With You! Pamela

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

YA Pick: Golden

Golden
by Jessi Kirby
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2013
288 pages

Available May 14, 2013

Beautiful, burning, dazzling, and golden, Jessi Kirby's latest YA novel will touch readers' hearts.

Super smart Parker Frost has never taken chances. She's set to graduate as valedictorian and on her way to Stanford if she wins the Cruz-Farnetti Scholarship. Best friend Kat is Parker's polar opposite; Kat takes chances and lives for the moment. She doesn't want Parker to leave town, but she knows her friend needs to excel.

When Parker is asked to mail out a box of ten year old journals to students who graduated a decade ago, she makes a shocking discovery. One of the journals belongs to Julianna Farnetti, a girl who was in a tragic car accident with her boyfriend Shane Cruz. Their bodies were never found, but the town mourned their deaths. Now, Parker holds the key to a mystery. Should she give the journal back to Mr. Kinney? Why didn't the police ever find the journal? Should she take it to the police? Or, should Parker take a chance, just this once? Parker decides to read Julianna's journal and then she promises herself that once she's read it, she will return it to Julianna by dropping it in her last known resting place, Summit Lake.

Parker realizes there's a decade old mystery in her small town, and she's bound and determined to find the answers, even if it means exposing the painful  past.

Soon Parker enlists the help of Kat and Trevor, the boy she's been crushing on for years. They go in search of a mysterious artist, hoping to mend a lost love. Wouldn't it be great if they could solve the mystery and reunite kindred spirits?

Golden is as addictive as Nicholas Sparks and Sarah Dessen. Readers who loved Moonglass will be addicted to Golden. Beautiful cover art will lure readers in, and Kirby's masterful storytelling will captivate until the very last word.

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. No profanity. No sex. Some kisses.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Friday, April 19, 2013

Gothic Redux: Thorn Abbey

Thorn Abbey
by Nancy Ohlin
Simon Pulse
2013
304 pages

Available May 2013

Read an excerpt here


A recent trend in YA lit is to base a novel set in the present but inspired by a classic novel. Ten is inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Frankenstein's Daughters is based on Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, and The Madman's Daughter is based on The Island of Dr. Moreau. Thorn Abbey is the newest novel to follow this trend.

Tragic, twisted, and downright terrific, Thorn Abbey has elements of its inspiration,  Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. There is the tragic death of a beautiful young girl--named Becca, Tess, a new arrival to the school, a Gothic setting--a creepy, old but revered ivy-covered private school, Max--a brooding young man, a mystery, a ghost or maybe two ghosts, Devon, Tess's roommate who has serious issues, and minor characters who thwart Tess's romance with Max, and  finally there's a lonely cliff overlooking the surf.

Tess and Max seem to be falling in love even though Devon, Tess's roommate, does everything she can to sabatage them. When Tess shows up at a formal dance wearing the same dress that Becca wore  last year, Max comes unglued. Devon gave Tess the dress and told her to wear it. Poor, unknowing Tess. She loved the dress and didn't know that the conniving Devon gave her the dead girl's dress (the heroine of Rebecca showed up at a formal party in dead Rebecca's dress).

Tess doesn't know what's going on but Devon is acting strangely. Devon talks to herself and disappears overnight. Tess is worried--is her roommate psychotic? Strange warnings begin to appear in the dorm. Tess starts snooping around. She finds tons of prescription drugs. Maybe Devon is overmedicated. Is she being treated by a psychiatrist? Tess opens a memory box that Devon keeps. In it, she finds Becca's diary. The secrets in the diary shed a whole new light on Becca's squeaky clean image.

I have only one problem with this book. Why is it that so many YA authors still stereotype and vilify librarians? Devon refers to the head librarian as "Hale the Whale" --"for obvious reasons." Why does the head librarian of Thorn Abbey have to be overweight and out of shape?  Nancy Ohlin, I call "foul!"

Recommended grade 9-up. Thorn Abbey is a little bit Gossip Girls, a little bit Mean Girls and a lot Rebecca. Devon is tawdry and downright trampy. Profanity, underage drinking and drug use. Goodness, how do those private school kids have time to study?!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Non-Fiction Pick: The Drunken Botanist: the Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks
by Amy Stewart
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2013
400 pages with index and recipes

Brilliant, brainy, and filled to the brim with fun-filled facts, this is one non-fiction book that is a delight to read!

Having read, reviewed, loved and blogged about Amy Stewart's two earlier books Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities and Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army & Other Diabolical Insects, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the newest little gem by Stewart. I'm glad I did!

Stewart shares the backstory to her interest in plants and which plants in particular are used to make spirits. She was at a convention in Portland, Oregon, and talking to another garden writer from Tucson. They searched  the local market for ingredients to make a delicious cocktail from a bottle of gin. As they perused the shelves, the thought came to her! There wasn't one bottle of spirits that didn't begin as a plant. Stewart was fascinated with the possibility of researching the world of drinking and spirits. She cautions the reader that, "The history of drinking is riddled with legends, distortions, half-truths, and outright lies." What could be more fun that digging through a history rife with stories, fables, and myths?

The book is divided into three sections. The first deals with fermentation and distillation and includes plants from agave--from which mezcal and tequila are made--to wheat--from which whiskey and bourbon are made. Section two details herbs, flowers, nuts and seeds and part three includes mixes and garnishes that finish off a drink.

Did you know that common spices found in gin are juniper berry, fennel, ginger, bay leaf and lavender? Or that pink peppercorns are used to flavor such drinks as bitters, beer, and gin? Did you know that the banana tree is actually not a tree at all? It's a huge perennial herb. Since it has no woody tissue, it's not botanically speaking a tree. Did you know that 90% of bourbon produced yearly comes from the state of Kentucky? These little known facts and hundreds more make The Drunken Botanist a real treasure trove to read and digest (pun intended).

Highly, highly recommended for anyone with an interest in plants, botany, and/or spirits. This book is a nice gift for wannabe bartenders, mixologists, brewers and wine growers. Stewart warns would-be at home distillers that plants can be toxic and that they can kill. Some plants have "deadly lookalikes," so beware before you try to distill your own vodka or gin.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guy Pick: Openly Straight

Openly Straight
by Bill Konigsberg
Arthur A. Levine Books
2013
336 pages

Available June 1, 2013

Clever, funny, and poignant, Openly Straight will touch readers and make them think.

Rafe is an openly gay high school student, the only child of "insane" parents. His parents are quirky; his mother does naked yoga and Rafe says he's pretty careful to pull down the blinds, "...unless I want to see a show that no son should ever see"--his father loves to sing and dance and put on a good show. Rafe barely tolerates it, but he realizes that other people think his dad is funny and a great sport.

Rafe plays soccer and gets along with all his classmates, but he wants to be just Rafe, not Rafe, the gay guy. His answer to his problem---transfer to an all boys' school in New England and reinvent himself. He decides not to tell anyone he's gay and see if the guys will accept "just Rafe."

Rafe leaves behind his best friend Claire Olivia--a girl he's bonded with over their parents' NMI--"Naming While Intoxicated." Both Rafe and Claire Olivia swear that their parents must have been drunk when choosing their names. Claire Olivia feels deserted and tells Rafe that he's changed.

Boys at the private school accept Rafe as straight and straight Rafe is soon befriending jocks and playing football on the lawn. When Rafe attends his new creative writing class, Mr. Scarborough wants the class to be introspective and write about themselves, but how can Rafe write about himself when he's covering so much up?

Openly Straight will make readers laugh out loud and experience empathy for Rafe who is just trying to fit in.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Language, gender identity.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Young Readers Pick: When a Dad Says "I Love You"

When a Dad Says "I Love You"
by Douglas Wood
Illustated by Jennifer A. Bell
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2013
32 pages

Available April 16, 2013

Charming, inspiring, and sweet, this beautiful homage to fathers and their little ones is sure to become a well-loved bedtime, or anytime, story. Animal fathers are depicted with their sons and daughters; giraffes, koala bears, mice, turtles, brown bears, lions, elephants, frogs and several other animals are thoughtfully illustrated showing their love as fathers.

Fathers show their love in many ways and not just by voicing it aloud, "in the plain old ordinary way." Dads show their love by making pancakes for breakfast, or calling you by a silly yet loving nickname. They show their love by singing your favorite song, over and over and over and over....Dads show their love by sharing their knowledge and their past, by helping  you with  your homework, by taking you stargazing, and by picking you up and carrying you to your bed, and by saying, "I love you/ In the plain old ordinary way."

This little treasure shows a real love story of a father's love and care for his child. The father animal in each illustration is smiling and looks concerned and caring. The child animal is happy and smiling. Young readers will love this book and likely ask their dads to read it again and again and again!

When a Dad Says "I Love You"  would make a great Father's Day gift for a new father or a soon-to-be father.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers age 3-up and any father.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)




Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Giveaway: Cloneward Bound

Cloneward Bound (The Clone Chronicles, book 2)
M.E. Castle
Egmont
2013

I have FIVE copies of this funny new book up for grabs! Fisher Bas has to find his clone out in Hollywood before the government or the evil mad scientist does. When his class takes a field trip to a Hollywood sound stage, Fisher jumps at the chance to find Two. Book 2 in this delighfully funny series is sure to be a hit with middle grades.

For a chance to win, simply post a comment on the blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. Deadline for posts is Monday, April 29 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will receive an email from me on the afternoon of April 29.Please check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to contact me with their mailing addresses. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Katie. Thanks, Katie!

Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Series Pick: Clockwork Princess

Clockwork Princess
(The Infernal Devices, book 3)
by Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
2013
568 pages

Hauntingly beautiful,  fiercely passionate, steampunk inspired, Clockwork Princess delivers a knockout punch of non-stop action, troubled romance and intriguing mystery. Questions are finally answered: What are Mortmain's evil plans for Tessa? Can the Shadowhunters save Jem's life? Why does Magnus agree to help Will, a Shadowhunter? Who will Tessa choose--smoldering hot Will or good natured Jem? What will happen to Charlotte and the Institute if the Consul poisons the Clave against her? What secrets will be uncovered in Tessa's past? Can the automaton army be defeated by a handful of Shadowhunters?

New alliances and interesting romances develop and old friendships are tested. Gabriel  Lightwood arrives at the Institute in a state of panic asking for the Shadowhunters' help. His father has turned into a demon worm and is attacking servants and family. A battle ensues at Lightwood House and his father is defeated. Both Gabriel and Gideon are welcomed to the Shadowhunters' Institute. Jem's disease progresses and the drug that keeps him alive is nowhere to be found. Will enlists Magnus's help to find more of the healing (and addictive)  powder.

Charlotte continues to fight the Consul who insists that she is "just a woman" and as such, too frail to handle such a powerful position as head of the Shadowhunters. Henry is working on a new invention--a portal that the Shadowhunters can use to magically transport themselves anywhere in the world. Charlotte pores over Lightwood's papers and journals hoping to discover some clue as to Mortmain's whereabouts.

When Tessa is kidnapped, the plot races along  at a feverish pace...Will leaves Jem's deathbed in order to save Tessa. Charlotte begs the Consul to allow the Shadowhunters to go after Tessa and Will. The Consul refuses to let the Shadowhunters travel to Wales, but Charlotte ignores his orders and using the portal, the Shadowhunters, along with Magnus and the Silent Brothers,  prepare for a battle with Mortmain's automatons--the Infernal Devices.

Will finds Tessa and they both  mourn Jem's passing. Their true feelings are finally spoken aloud and their passion ignites. Clare is a master storyteller--she lets the reader see just a few kisses, then "fade to black." Magnus discovers the couple the next morning in a compromising situation  and warns them that the other Shadowhunters are on the way.

The Shadowhunters battle Mortmain's automaton army and Tessa finds her inner power and the secret to her strength.

The ending is poignant and promising.--true love can never be broken and endures no matter what happens.
I was sorry when the story ended but thrilled to have the experience of living in Cassandra Clare's world. The Infernal Devices is as satisfying a series as any reader could hope for. The relationship between Charlotte and her husband Henry develops into real love, and Charlotte realizes how much she loves him when he is injured.  Clockwork Princess is an exciting and brilliantly conceived ending to a remarkable YA series! Will is the steamiest, sexiest male protagonist in YA lit to date--Edward who? (wink, Twilight, remember)?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up but with caution. In the scene where Will and Tessa "hook up," Will's shirt comes off, kissing, fade to black, and the next morning Tessa wakes with her head on Will's shoulder. Magnus warns them to get dressed quickly.  Teens probably see steamier scenes on network television. If you have the third and fourth  book in the Twilight trilogy,  this novel is right for you.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Young Readers Pick: The Highway Rat

The Highway Rat
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrations by Axel Sheffler
Arthur A. Levine Books
2013
32 pages

"The Highwayman" (1906) --a rhyming and rhythmic narrative poem of love and revenge   inspired this rhyming children's story The Highway Rat for the much younger set. A mean but comic rat rides his horse through the countryside terrifying country creatures.

"His teeth were sharp and yellow/his manners were rough and rude/and the Highway Rat went riding/riding--riding/Riding along the highway/and stealing the travelers' food." He steals  clover from the rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, a leaf from some ants, flies from a spider, milk from the cat, hay from a horse and the creatures get thinner and thinner. They are terrified of the evil thief until....

Finally, the Highway Rat encounters a clever duck. The duck tricks the Highway Rat into a wild goose chase. She promises that her sister--who lives in a faraway cave--has goodies galore. The Rat is tricked into believing the sister is answering the duck when the duck yells into the cave. She yells, "Do you have cakes and chocolates?" and the rat hears the sister answering (it's really the echo), "Chocolates! Chocolates! Chocolates..." The silly rat enters the cave and the resourceful duck escapes on the rat's horse. The duck shares the bounty from the saddlebags with all the country creatures while  the rat wanders blindly through the cave until he ends up on the other side of the mountain. He gives up his life of crime to work in a bakery--at least he'll get to eat sweet treats there!

The rhyming story will capture young readers. The rat who starts out a bit menacing is comic later. The duck is the true hero of the story and kids will like the clever trick she pulls. Illustrations of all the animals are spot on for young readers. The two page spread of the animals celebrating captures their joy as they dance and eat goodies  from the saddlebags. The menacing rat at the beginning is a meek mouse as he sweeps the floors in the cake shop at the end.

Highly, highly recommended ages 2-up. This book could by paired in any  classroom where "The Highwayman" is read and used when teaching rhyme and rhythm to any grade level.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

High School Pick: The Girl in the Park

The Girl in the Park
by Mariah Fredericks
Schwartz & Wade Books
2012
224 pages


Riveting and taut, this YA thriller races on at a breakneck pace as clues are uncovered and suspects questioned. Rain hears about it the next day...her ex-best friend Wendy is missing. Wendy's mother calls Rain's house to ask if Rain knows anything about Wendy's whereabouts. Rain insists she doesn't know anything. She doesn't say anything about Wendy's latest obsession with Nico--a boy who was also at the party and on Wendy's hit list.

Rain really doesn't know anything about Wendy any more. They were friends a year ago but drifted apart. Wendy had become the girl that all the popular girls hate--the party girl who drinks too much and gets too friendly with the boys. Some of the popular clique whisper that maybe Wendy got what was coming to her, but Rain feels terrible. She feels guilty...maybe she should have been a better friend...maybe Wendy would still be alive.

After Wendy's body is discovered in Central Park, Rain thinks back to  the night of the party. What clues is she missing? She visits Wendy's Facebook page and goes through old pages and old messages. The police come to the school and are introduced and some students are questioned. The police show up at Rain's doorstep and question her, too.  Later, Rain begins to suspect Nico. As she searches for clues implicating Nico, a reporter tells Rain that there is a piece of evidence that the police aren't telling the public. A small letter "E" was found near Wendy's body. The "E's" are given out to four outstanding students each year. Whoever killed Wendy was a recipient of an E.

Rain goes to the library and begins looking at old yearbooks. Nico was never awarded an E, but his girlfriend Sasha was. Could Sasha have given Nico her pin? Rain tells the police she suspects Nico.

As Rain searches through clues from Wendy's Facebook page, a new suspect emerges--a suspect that no one, including Rain, ever suspected. Someone Rain trusted. Someone Rain admired. Rain decides to solve the case herself and is astonished at what she uncovers.

Rain has always felt broken and unworthy. Born with a cleft palate, Rain's speech has been affected. Kids make fun of the way she talks, so Rain rarely opens her mouth. Only Wendy gave her a chance; only Wendy was her friend and didn't make fun of her. In the end, quiet, timid, unassuming Rain finally finds her voice and speaks up for Wendy, and readers will be happy to see that the underdog triumphs.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Partying, underage drinking, sex, extramarital affair, improper teacher/student relationship.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spy Pick: Spy Camp

Spy Camp
by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2013
336 pages

Cleverly comedic, Spy Camp is a laugh-out-loud boisterous romp!

Ben Ripley, aka Smokescreen,  is thrilled that his first year of spy school is almost over. He's looking forward to hanging with his buddy Mike, but SPYDER, an enemy espionage organization, has other plans for Ben. Someone leaves a cryptic message in Ben's dorm--that SPYDER is coming for Ben. He doesn't know where to turn, but he does know that Erica, the best spy in school, will have his back.

The principal calls Ben to the office to inform him that he will have to attend spy camp during the summer. Spy camp? What about Ben's plans to chill for a few months? This ruins his plans for the summer, but spy camp looks promising...at least at first. Maybe Ben will be safe from SPYDER at camp.

Ben's spy school classmates attend spy camp along with some exchange students from England. The camp looks normal with cabins and a mess hall, but instead of swimming and canoeing, training consists of physical training including tedious runs and weapons training includes bow and arrow and tomahawks. SPYDER has infiltrated the camp and threatens Ben--he must agree to work for them, or else! Ben shares this information with Erica and camp-mates Chip, Zoe, and Warren. Erica's famous spy father Alexander Hale "drops" in to save the day. Pun intended--Hale parachutes into the camp wearing a tuxedo and dripping with 007 worthy attitude. Erica and Ben both  know that her father is a blatant failure and a phony. Alexander Hale is a bumbling idiot who takes credit for saving every operation he's ever been involved in, even when the credit is due to someone else. Because of his unsoiled reputation as a world class spy, Hale receives hero status and the kids at camp regard him as a Bond-like legend.

When it's decided to move Ben from the camp, his friends go along for the bus ride. Alex Hale accompanies the kids. SPYDER targets their escape and if not for Erica's grandfather, Ben would be a prisoner. Cyrus Hale saves the day and comes out of retirement for his granddaughter. SPYDER has secret plans which involve Cyrus, and the no one else has any idea that SPYDER is merely using Ben as a pawn.

Ben is funny and self-deprecating. He makes fun of the CIA, spy school and the government. Ben says, "It might seem surprising that the principal of the CIA's academy for future intelligent agents wasn't intelligent himself--but then, the CIA and the academy are run by the government." Of his spy school experience, Ben says, "While my first few weeks at spy school had been difficult--I'd nearly been assassinated, kidnapped and blown up--things had got much better after people had stopped trying to kill me." At camp, Ben finds out that the armory is a bit different than the one at his school. Instead of modern day guns, campers train with tomahawks and bows and arrows. Ben asks, "So we can defend ourselves if we ever time travel back to the 1700s?"


Smart and fast-paced, Spy Camp does not disappoint. Readers do not have to read Spy School first, but do yourself a favor, pick up both books; you'll be glad you did! Author Stuart Gibbs has another winner on his hands. Ben makes spying look like great fun, and even in dire situations, Ben has the presence of mind to solve problems without overthinking them. When trying to stop the assasination of the world's leaders and the launching of a deadly missle, Ben simply pulls the power  plug!



Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up. Recommeded for anyone who likes spies and humor.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Middle Grades Pick: The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook




by Joanne Rocklin



Amulet



2013



229 pages with discussion questions





New in paperback; Available April 2, 2013





Published in 2012 and awarded SCBWI's Golded Kite Award for Fiction and the Parent's Choice Book Award--GOLD, and now in paperback with a redesigned cover.





Tender, touching, and poignant, yet also funny, quirky, clever, and captivating, The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is a hugely entertaining read for middle grades.





Storyteller (whopper teller) Oona is intelligent, compassionate, brave and creative. She shares her late father's gift for storytelling and embellishment. Oona takes great care of younger brother Fred. Fred is five and like all young children, asks a lot of questions which Oona happily supplies the answers or "Oona-isms." When their pet Zook goes to the vet, Oona tells Fred not to worry because all cats have nine lives. Zook is really sick; his kidneys are failing, but Oona refuses to believe the worst. She knows that cats really don't have nine lives, but maybe if she keeps telling Fred that they do, it will come true.







Oona misses her father but keeps his spirit alive through her carefully thought-out stories rife with great storytelling words--words like, "...faraway, woe, befall, whence and by and by." Her stories take place in magical kingdoms and involve talking animal that can save kingdoms. Fred believes all of Oona's stories and she revels in sharing them with him. Readers will love Oona. Her voice is unique and original, intelligent and intuitive, and she tells awesome stories!







I was prepared not to love this book. No cat lover myself--I have ten rescue dogs at home--I was not so sure I would heart a book about a cat. This book has forever changed my mind. It's not about the pet that matters; it's all about the love a child feels for that pet, and Oona loves her Zook. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook will make readers laugh and cry. It is a heartfelt story of love and loss, pain and remembrance.







Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up and for anyone who has ever loved a precious pet.



Published in 2012 and awarded SCBWI's Golded Kite Award for Fiction and the Parent's Choice Book Award--GOLD, and now in paperback with a redesigned cover.






Tender, touching, and poignant, yet also funny, quirky, clever, and captivating, The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook is a hugely entertaining read for middle grades.





Storyteller (whopper teller) Oona is intelligent, compassionate, brave and creative. She shares her late father's gift for storytelling and embellishment. Oona takes great care of younger brother Fred. Fred is five and like all young children, asks a lot of questions which Oona happily supplies the answers or "Oona-isms." When their pet Zook goes to the vet, Oona tells Fred not to worry because all cats have nine lives. Zook is really sick; his kidneys are failing, but Oona refuses to believe the worst. She knows that cats really don't have nine lives, but maybe if she keeps telling Fred that they do, it will come true.







Oona misses her father but keeps his spirit alive through her carefully thought-out stories rife with great storytelling words--words like, "...faraway, woe, befall, whence and by and by." Her stories take place in magical kingdoms and involve talking animal that can save kingdoms. Fred believes all of Oona's stories and she revels in sharing them with him. Readers will love Oona. Her voice is unique and original, intelligent and intuitive, and she tells awesome stories!







I was prepared not to love this book. No cat lover myself--I have ten rescue dogs at home--I was not so sure I would heart a book about a cat. This book has forever changed my mind. It's not about the pet that matters; it's all about the love a child feels for that pet, and Oona loves her Zook. The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook will make readers laugh and cry. It is a heartfelt story of love and loss, pain and remembrance.







Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up and for anyone who has ever loved a precious pet.

I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)



Poetry Pick: The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses

The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses
by Lisa Wheeler
Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
2013
40 pages

From the vibrant cover art to the warning label and verse, "If you're the type who oohs and aahs/ at furry faces, precious paws/ the words ahead may be alarming/ Animals aren't always charming," The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses delivers charming poetry and spot-on illustrations. The publisher's website recommends ages 4-8, but anyone who loves poetry and likes to laugh will love this cute poetry book.

An intelligent young girl asks her science loving parents for a pet. They give her a task: she must research all animals and using science, figure out what animal will make the best pet. Only then, will her  parents consider allowing a pet to join the household. So, notebook in hand, the young scientist visits a farm, the zoo, the woods, and finally her own home for a home study.

The girl writes down all her findings to present to her parents. A poem about each animal tells about her journey. My favorite is the shortest poem about the hippopatamus: "Chances of getting a hippo/ zippo."

The girl concludes by saying that all animals need care and attention but since she's forgetful, a pet may not be for her. Then she realizes that there are tiny animals everywhere that need no care, but they are hard to find with the naked eye. She asks her parents for a microscope!

The girl visits the pet store and looks at a parrot. She says, "He's memorized some sonnets/ and some long Shakespearian verses/ But when I try to talk to him/ that fowl mouth only curses!" The poetry is clever and crisp with puns (fowl, foul) and makes use of poetic devises including simile, personification and onomatopoeia.

Highly, highly recommended for all ages. Fans of Shel  Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky will like this fun poetry book.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Book Giveaway: Can You See What I See? Out of This World

I have FIVE free copies up for grabs of this wonderful and magical new book by Walter Wick. Readers of all ages will love the storyline and the beautiful set decoration and photography by Wick. Fans of the I Spy books and the previous Can You See What I See? books are sure to want their own FREE copy of this book.

To enter: Simply post a comment on the blog and be sure to include your first name, city, state and email. I need your email to contact you in case your name is picked. Deadline for posts is April 16 at noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer. Winners will be notified via email by me on April 16 after 12:00 p.m. Be sure and check your email on that date. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. If a winner fails to respond within 24 hours, the next comment wins by default (sorry, but even blogs and publishers have deadlines). Books will ship to winners (U.S. addresses only) from New York courtesy of Scholastic (Cartwheel Books).

Good luck and start posting! Tell me what you think about this fab new book! What will your students/kids think? Pamela

Picture Puzzles Pick: Can You See What I See

Can You See What I See? Out Of This World
by Walter Wick
Design and photography by the author
Cartwheel Books
2013
40  pages

What happens when a time traveling space alien lands in a castle's courtyard? Photographer and author Walter Wick imagines the two worlds colliding in his latest offering of Can You See What I See? Out Of This World. Truly imaginative, colorfully playful, and beautifully captured,  this picture puzzle book will delight readers of all ages. The publisher's website recommends grade K-3, but children (and adults) of all ages will have hours of fun solving  each puzzle.

Each two page spread captures the kingdom and its beautiful princess. The princess wakes in her magnificent boudoir, slips past a sleeping palace guard and goes to an upstairs room to read her fortune. The princess sees a robot man staring back at her. The kingdom welcomes the visitor from the future and entertains him at a banquet. The toys in the playroom are quiet and everyone turns in for the night.

Walter Wick continues to charm with his unique craft. His highly imagined photo sets are sure  winners. Any fan of Wick's I Spy books or his earlier offerings of Can You See What I See books will love the latest.

Highly, highly recommended all ages. This book can also be used to teach aspects of art and photography: lighting, shading, set design, object placement, symmetry, and arrangement. Parents and grandparents, this is a great gift idea for birthdays or any other special occasion for children who love seek and finds.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)



Monday, April 1, 2013

Ghostly Pick: Doll Bones

Doll Bones
by Holly Black
Margaret K. McElderry Books
2013
256 (page count quoted on publisher's arc)

Available May 7, 2013 (date from publisher's arc)

Creepy, spooky, and downright strange, Doll Bones will delight tween fans of ghost stories and things that go bump in the night. Author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series Jeff Kinney says, "Nobody does spooky like Holly Black. Doll Bones is a book that will make you sleep with the lights on" (quote from publisher's flyer included with the shipment of the arc).



Best friends Zach, Poppy and Alice have played their game with dolls for years. Zach plays with a pirate doll he calls William the Blade, captain of the ship Neptune's Pearl. Alice's G.I. Jane doll is Lady Jaye, a thief who sneaks passage on the Pearl and Poppy's dolls are evil mermaids intent on destroying the ship and its crew. There is one doll strictly off limits; the kids refer to her only as The Great Queen and she lives in the china cabinet inside Poppy's house. Poppy's mother says she is old and made of fine bone china and worth a fortune. The kids make up a story for her; she is The Great Queen who rules over all the kingdoms.

When Poppy begins having nightmares and is haunted by a blond girl dressed in a nightgown who wants Poppy to bury her, Poppy enlists her friends' help. The Great Queen is made not just of china  but of bones! The child in the dream tells Poppy that the doll in the china cabinet is actually her.

The friends hatch a plan to ride the bus to Liverpool, Ohio, where the doll was manufactured. There,  the vision told Poppy, bury her (the doll) in the cemetary under a willow tree.

The kids' adventure is like one of their play stories. There are leering, crazy strangers and villians, a few helpful fairy godmothers (a donut shop owner and a waitress), and a not-so-nice librarian.

One problem and it probably only bothers librarians: the librarian in the book  is depicted as blinking "...owlishly behind her bright-green glasses" * and she comes off as gruff and not kid-friendly--not exactly the type of librarian depiction that this librarian/blogger likes to see in kid-lit. In fact, the librarian threatens to call the police and warns the kids that they better not have vandalized the place. The illustration of the librarian by Eliza Wheeler depicts a prim and very properly dressed middle aged woman. Again, not the face of librarians today. This is a librarian from yesteryear. C'mon, Holly Black, I know you've met librarians across the country, and you know librarians today are way cool.

Could Poppy be going crazy? Is she really dreaming about a ghost of a real girl who was murdered? Could the doll really be made of the girl's bones? Who was the little girl and who killed her? Could a doll be evil and haunting Poppy? When Zach has a creepy dream of his own, he becomes a believer. The kids decide to find the willow tree and solve the mystery.

Highly recommended for fans of ghost stories grade 5-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

*Quoted material from the arc