Monday, November 25, 2013

Classic Pick: Aesop's Fables


Aesop's Fables
retold by Ann McGovern
Illustrated by A.J. McClaskey
Scholastic Inc.
2013
80 pages

Over 60 of Aesop's stories retold by Ann McGovern will explain the fables for a new generation of readers. Stories include the old stand-bys like "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." Lesser known fables are included, too: "The Farmer and the Stork," "The Two Travelers and An Axe," and "The Playful Donkey."

Illustrations by A.J. McClaskey depict each tale and add visual interest for reluctant readers. The slimness of this little treasure is bound to appeal to the reluctant club. Even the most reluctant of readers will not be intimidated by the short fables and the "lesson" each fable teaches.

This version of Aesop's Fables is a no-brainer for any literature class. The stories are concise and complete. Learners will come away from the book with a good understanding of fables and the famous and not so famous stories.

Recommended for all learners grade 3-up. Easy to read and understand. Non-intimidating for reluctant readers.

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, November 21, 2013

Dork Diaries: OMG! All About Me Diary!


Dork Diaries: OMG! All About Me Diary!
by Rachel Renee Russell
Aladdin
2013
265 pages

Tweens and fans of the series will love filling in the pages of their very own diary. Funny and unstoppable Nikki Maxwell leads readers to write with prompts like, "Have you ever told someone a personal secret and the THEY told someone else? What was the secret and WHO told it?" and "OMG! You're working at a KISSING BOOTH to raise money for CHARITY? Name the first six people in line for kisses!"

Readers also get Nikki's comments on a variety of topics including: boys, of course, school, friends, food, fun, music and more. Russell's illustrations are spot on and bring Nikki to life. Each day of the year gets its own entry, so readers become writers! There are blanks for Year 1 and Year 2, so readers/writers can keep their diary and work in it for two years. Nikki says, " Maybe one day your diary will become a really popular book series! How cool would that be?"

Highly, highly recommended for any fan of the series. This is a great Christmas or birthday gift that will keep girls writing all year long. Grade 4-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)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Picture Book Pick: Trouper

Trouper
by Meg Kearney
Illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Scholastic Press
2013
32 pages

For the inspiring book trailer


From Kirkus: "Sure to tug at the heartstrings, this is a lovely and satisfying book."

Christian Science Monitor names Trouper one of the season's best picture books.



Inspiring, uplifting, courageous, and heroic, Trouper is the ONE dog story for everyone. Trouper is based on a real life dog adopted by author Meg Kearney. Kearney, an adopted child herself, felt a familiar kinship when she saw photos of Trouper. She fell in love with his face and his inspiring spirit. He hadn't been adopted yet, and Kearney just knew that he hadn't "...because he was waiting for me."

Trouper travels with a pack of dogs and lives a free life, until the day they are captured by the dog catcher and taken to a shelter. He watches as all his friends are adopted and feels sad because no one is ever at the shelter to adopt him--until one day a friend comes along and takes Trouper home. The child saw Trouper's inner spirit and looked past his stump.

Be sure and watch the inspiring book trailer about the real Trouper. If you are thinking about getting a pet, please choose to visit a shelter and give a great dog a home. I have always rescued shelter dogs and each shelter dog has become a crucial member of our family.

Kids are sure to love this book and this dog with a big heart and even a bigger spirit.

Illustrations by Caldecott award winning artist E.B. Lewis evoke empathy for Trouper and his story. Lewis used Kearney's dog as a model for his artwork, and he truly captures Trouper's joyful spirit.

Highly, highly recommended ages 4-up and any dog lover.

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)


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Horror Pick: Doctor Sleep (The Shining, book 2)


Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King
Scribner
2013
528 pages

Spooky, scary and creepily grotesque doesn't begin to describe the terror of Doctor Sleep. Somewhere out there on America's highways and byways, you might see a convoy of Winnebagos driven by baby boomers and elderly retirees. You may not think anything of it, unless you've entered the terrifying world of Doctor Sleep.

Dan Torrence (the child in The Shining) is now all grown up. Having survived the nightmare that was the Overlook, Dan has spent years lying to himself and relying on the bottle for solace. He finally turns to AA for help, and the shining is quiet for a little while. He is still in touch with the Overlook's cook Dick Hallorann who has helped him understand the shining and his powers since childhood. When Dan is summoned by a young girl named Abra, he turns to Dick again for help.

Abra has the shining, too, and it's strong. That's what attracts Rose and her group of life-sucking vampires who feed off the shining from children. The True Knot travels from campground to campground feeding off the shining of tragedies. When 9/11 happened, they fed well off the steam of the dying. Since then, their canisters of saved "steam" is dwindling, and Rose is getting nervous. What will happen to her band of paranormal gypsies if there is no more steam? She will lose her power and die. Rose can't let that happen. She feels a strong presence somewhere on the east coast and sends her scouts out to search for this young beacon of hope.

Dan and Abra are connected, and she reaches out to Dan though messages on a chalkboard and later, she is able to connect telepathically. Sometimes Abra feels someone else besides Dan is in her head and she is afraid. Dan teachers her how to set traps and scare to intruder off, but Rose is powerful. Abra has a vision of a young boy she calls "baseball boy," and she knows he is somehow the key to destroying the True Knot.

As the True Knot moves closer to Abra, Dan and Dick hatch a plan to save her and unravel the True Knot (yes, pun intended) and destroy them. It will take all three of them...and then some...to face the demons and win. Like The Stand, Doctor Sleep is the ultimate good versus evil battle.

Doctor Sleep is King at his masterful best; no one can build suspenseful excitement and fearful anticipation like King. He even takes a playful jab at fellow horror genre writer Dean Koontz--just for grins.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves a great story and every Stephen King fan grade 9 and up. Language, mature situations, violence, alcoholism, sobriety issues.

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, November 12, 2013

Action Adventure Pick: The Sultan's Tigers


The Sultan's Tigers
by Josh Lacey
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
2013
298 pages

Fast-paced, high octane, perilous action will thrill teen readers who love an action adventure story with a gritty young hero. The plot rollicks on at a breakneck pace. VOYA says, "Non-stop action...This is a fine choice to add to a 'Guys Read' list."

Tom Trelawney's family tree is not impressive, in fact, he states, "...I come from a long line of liars, cheats, crooks, bandits, thieves, and smugglers." From the opening line, this book draws you in, hook, line and sinker. When Tom is held captive and threatened, he decides to find the secret hidden somewhere in his grandfather's house. He remembers a visit when his grandfather showed him a hiding place. Sure enough, Tom finds a secret cache of letters.

He realizes that one of his ancestors hid a great treasure in India and left clues how to find it. Tom enlists the help of his slightly unbalanced Uncle Harvey and off they jet to India. They are looking for the last of the "Sultan's tigers," a statue encrusted with jewels that will make them both rich. That's the trouble with treasure, the more it's worth, the more people are willing to kill for it.

The Sultan's Tigers is a great book for reluctant readers. It will keep them entertained and reading, wondering what will happen next. When they're up against a vicious mercenary who will stop at nothing and an ego-maniac billionaire who plans to horde all the tigers, Tom comes up with a plan to steal the tiger and help others.

Don't worry though. Tom doesn't become a "goody two shoes," soon he's sneaking out of the house and looking for trouble.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a fast-paced adventure with globe-trotting appeal. For grade 7-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)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Book Giveaway: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8)


I have FIVE FREE copies of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid up for grabs!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (Book 8)
by Jeff Kinney
Abrams
2013
217 pages

You KNOW you'll want to win a copy of Greg Heffley's latest (mis) adventures! Hard Luck is laugh-out-loud funny as Greg tries to find a new BFF and navigate the eccentricities of his weird extended family.

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Be sure to include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is Wednesday, November 20 at 12:00 noon MST. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified by me on November 20. Please check your email on that date in the afternoon. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Amulet Books. Good luck and start posting. What are you waiting for? Pamela

Non-Fiction Pick: The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth

The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest--and Most Surprising--Animals on Earth
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2013
208 pages with glossary
 
 
 
 


Colorful illustrations pair with informative text to entertain and enlighten readers about animals of all kinds from the mosquito to the colossal squid. The table of contents is helpful--dividing the book into 8 sections including a section for More Information which maps out the author's process from idea to finished book. It is fascinating to see how Steve Jenkins illustrated this book using cut or torn paper collages.

The Animal Book is not just a collection of animals; it is a beautiful example of an artist capturing wildlife in his artwork. Readers will learn the definition of an animal, about different animal species, animal behavior and family life, predators, animals' defenses, animals' poisons, the theory of evolution, animal life spans and much, much more.

Did you know that for the first year of its life, a baby giant anteater stays close to his mother--in fact, he rides on his mother's back. Did you know that anteaters have only one offspring at a time? Did you know that the lifespan of an elephant is 70 years but a housefly only lives 15-30 days? Did you know that the dog is one of the most deadly predators to humans? Worldwide, more than 50,000 people die from rabies each year. Who knew man's best friend could be so dangerous?

The Animal Book is a fine addition to any non-fiction collection. It is sure to be widely read and wildly (yes, pun intended) loved.

Highly, highly recommended grade 1 and up. The text is easy enough for middle grades, but the information and art can be enjoyed in upper grades.

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, November 6, 2013

Early Reader Pick: How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad

How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad?
by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague
The Blue Sky Press
2013
40  pages

Remarkable, inspired  illustrations by Mark Teague will keep young readers entertained. No child will be able to resist Teague's dinosaurs and their bad behavior. Jane Yolen once again crafts an amazing story this time to help kids deal with anger. Even though kids and adults get angry, they can learn to count to ten and calm down.

Young readers will learn the names of each type of dinosaur, too. Yolen's fun rhymes come to life with entertaining and colorful art by Teague. "When Papa says, 'No!' does he (dinosaur) grumble and pout?/When Mama says, 'No!" does he throw toys about?" Not a good dinosaur who has control over his temper. A good dinosaur calms down and says, "I'm sorry."

This quick read is bound to become a bedtime (or anytime) favorite. How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad? is a must have for every child's favorite book shelf.

Highly, highly recommended ages 2-up and anyone who loves dinosaurs.

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)



Wimpy Kid Pick: The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck (book 8)
by Jeff Kinney
Amulet
2013
217 pages

Official Wimpy Kid page

Endearing, innovative and downright laugh out loud funny, the latest book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a riot! Jeff Kinney keeps getting it right, and Greg Heffley is entertaining and unflappable as the ultimate Wimpy Kid.

Greg is going through a rough time. Best friend Rowley has a new girlfriend and has changed completely. He no longer sits at the "boys' table" but with girlfriend Abigail. Greg feels at loose ends and can't decide what group to join. He realizes he's grasping at straws when he even considers weird kid Fregley as his new BFF. Greg is down on his luck but willing to try anything.

When he finds an old Magic 8 ball under his brother's bed, Greg begins to depend on the 8 ball to make decisions for him. He decides the 8 ball is really good at decision making and even tries to use it to finish his math homework. That's when Greg realizes the 8 ball is limited on giving answers to all questions.

There's so much to love about this book! There's family drama when the extended family comes for a visit for Easter. Greg's mom's cousin Gerald creeps Greg out when he declares, "I used to change your diapers." The ick factor alone would creep out any kid. More family drama is centered around Meemaw's missing wedding ring. Everyone is looking for the missing ring, and soon accusations fly.

One laugh out loud moment comes when Greg refuses to taste  his mother's potato salad. He won't try it because she makes it in the bowl she gives to  them when they have the flu. His mother tells them, "If you have to throw up, do it in here." No potato salad, thanks anyway!

Greg will go to any lengths to pass his classes so he doesn't have to attend summer school. The way he hears it, they turn off the air conditioning in the summer and they don't even use real teachers. Last summer, Greg heard that the janitor was a teacher.

This little gem of a book is sure to appeal to any reluctant reader and to readers of all ages. I found it charming. Readers will laugh out loud at Greg's antics and woes. Thank goodness for Jeff Kinney who speaks to  the wimpy kid in all of us.

Highly, highly recommended for all ages!

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, November 5, 2013

Mystery Pick: Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
by Talia Vance
Egmont
2013
296 pages

Charming, captivating, and cute, Spies and Prejudice will thrill teen and tween readers who like a  light romance mixed with a mystery for good measure.

Working as an undercover spy, Berry's job is to gather "dirt" on cheating husbands and insurance frauds. She stakes out her "marks," and shoots photos as evidence in divorce hearings or for insurance companies. While working on her latest case, Berry meets drop dead gorgeous Adonis-like Tanner Halston. Berry doesn't have time for a boyfriend, and even if she did, it wouldn't be Mr. Universe.


Berry spots her friend's father in the parking lot and notices he has a letter about her  mother. What would Mr. Moss be doing with a letter about Berry's mom? Her mother has been dead for eight years--her death ruled an accident. Now, Berry wants answers. And she's a girl trained in covert operations.

With the help of Drew, a quiet, brooding friend she met at the library, Berry sneaks into Mr. Moss's home office. The deeper Berry digs, the more confused she gets.

Tanner works to get Berry to give him a chance, and their funny banter is utterly charming. Every time Berry gets a dig in, Tanner makes points. Berry finds herself liking Tanner more and more even though she won't admit it...even to herself.

Berry will do anything to find out how her mother died. She will sacrifice friendships and make a deal with the devil. In over her head, it's hard for her to tell who is a friend and who is an enemy.

Readers will want more, and the ending certainly leaves the door open for a continued series. Talia Vance has written a winning novel that is sure to entertain.  Clever cover art is designed to draw in teen readers--who doesn't love a spy in a trench coat?

Highly, highly recommended grade 7-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)




Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Giveaway: Spies and Prejudice

Spies and Prejudice
by Talia Vance
Egmont
2013
296 pages

I have FIVE copies  up for grabs!

Thoroughly charming,  Spies and Prejudice is a must read for fans of romance and fun banter. Berry (Strawberry, I know...right?) Fields is a super-sleuth who works undercover for her father. When she's not tailing a cheating husband or trying to get photos of insurance cheats, she really has no life. She's not into hair, make-up, fashion or dating. In fact, she literally has no interest in flirting at all. That is, until new guy Tanner shows up. The harder Tanner tries to endear himself, the more of a fight Berry puts up. You're going to LOVE this book!

For your chance to win, simply post a comment to the blog. Include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is noon MST on December 2, 2013. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified just after 12:00 MST on Dec. 2. Please check your email at that time. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York courtesy of Egmont and Michelle.

Don't miss this one! Start posting and good luck! Pamela