Thursday, August 17, 2017

Middle Grade Pick: Rules for Thieves

Rules for Thieves
by Alexandra Ott
Aladdin
2017
320 pages
ISBN: 9781481472746

Alli Rosco escapes the orphanage by climbing the wall and escapes into the town square. She is excited to be free and alive, but quickly realizes she has no plan. What will she do now? Where will she go? How will she eat? Alli is smart and resourceful and knows she will have to steal to survive.

Alli runs into trouble in the market and is "wounded"  but lucky for her, she meets Beck. Alli has been infected with a poison curse and needs money for the cure before it kills her. Beck tells her that the only way she is sure to survive is to travel with him to the Thieve's Guild, an underground network that protects its own and whose members work to steal the kingdom's greatest treasures.

Beck is unsure whether Alli will be accepted but she goes along with him. They venture deep into the mountains and the cold where the Guild has their secret hideaway.

Alli and Beck are tasked with a dangerous mission--one that is nearly impossible. Alli is getting worse. They are racing the clock and the authorities.

Rules for Thieves is a delightful romp. Alexandra Ott sets up a believable world from the first pages. Alli is everything readers want from a heroine.

Highly recommended grade 5 and up. This book is likely on the Scholastic Book Fair.

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


Monday, August 14, 2017

Pamela's Picks for Book Club Titles: Middle School to Adult

Every year, librarians and teachers ask about books for book clubs. I have made this list from the last two years of book club reads at our school:

Suggested Books for Book Clubs:
These are books are members have read over the two years. 
Grade 6: 
Barnhill, Kelly. The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Algonquin Young Readers
Bell, CeCe. El Deafo. Harry N. Abrams, 2014. 978-14197121732014. 
Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. Scholastic Paperbacks, 2004. 978-0439678131
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods. Yearling, 2004. 978-0312674854
Grisham, John. Skipping Christmas, Dell, 2010. 978-0440422969
Sunny Side Up, Holm, Jennifer L. GRAPHIX, 2015.
978-0545741668
Horowitz, Anthony. Skeleton Key, Puffin Books, 2006. Skeleton Key, 978-0142406144
Palacio, R.J. Wonder, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014. 978-0375869020
Pennypacker, Sara. Pax.  Balzer + Bray, 2016. 978-0062377012
Grade 7:
Bodeen, S.A. The Compound. Square Fish. 2009. 978-0312578602
Carter, Ally. Heist Society. Disney-Hyperian. 2011. 978-1423116615
       Deuker, Carl . Gym Candy. HMH Books for Young Readers. 2008. 978-0547076317
       Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tor Teen. 2010. 978-0765323118
Falkner, Brian. Brain Jack. Ember, 2011. 978-0375843679
      Hirsch, Jeff. The Darkest Path. Scholastic Press. 2013. 978-0545630627
      Morris, Paula.  Ruined. Point, 2010. 978-0545042147
      Sloan, Goldberg Holly. Counting by 7s. Puffin, 2014. 978-0142422861
Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver. Scholastic, Inc. 2014. 978-0545682787
Volk, Lauren. Wolf Hollow. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-1101994825
Grade 8:
       Charbonneau, Joelle. The Testing. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-0544336230
Dashner, James. Maze Runner. Delacourte Press, 2010. 978-0385737951
Fukuda, Andrew. The Hunt. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012. 978-1250005298
Henry, April. Girl, Stolen. Square Fish, 2012. 978-0312674755
Lu, Marie. Legend. Speak, 2013. 978-0142422076
      Michaels, Rune. Genesis Alpha. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011. 978-1416965008Henry,
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Scholastic Paperbacks, 2000. 978-0439064873
Stand, Jeff. A Bad Day for Voodoo. Sourcebooks Fire, 2012. 978-1402266805
High School:
Arnold, David. Mosquitoland. Speak, 2016. 978-0147513656
Knudsen, Michelle. Evil Librarian. Candlewick, 2016. 978-0763676407
Kraus, Daniel. The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch . Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 978-1481411400
Ohanesian, Iline. Orhan's Inheritance. Algonquin Books, 2016. 978-1616205300
Smith, Andrew. 100 Sideways Miles. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. 978-1442444966
Smith, Andrew. Grasshoppper Jungle, Speak, 2015. : 978-0142425008
Smith, Andrew. Winger, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014. 978-1442444935
Smith, Andrew. Standoff. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers , 2016. 978-1481418300
Weingarten, Lynn. Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls. Simon Pulse, 2016. 978-1481418584


Adult Titles:
Bick, Ilse. Ashes. EgmontUSA, 2012. 978-1606843857
Goolrick, Robert. A Reliable Wife. Algonquin, 2010. 978-156512977
Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex. Picador, 2002. 978-03124277331
Eugenides, Jeffrey. The Virgin Suicides. Picador, 2009. 978-0312428815
Hadon, Mark. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Vintage Contemporaries, 2004.
978-1400032716
Roorbach, Bill. Life Among Giants. Algonquin, 2013.
978-1616203245
Rindell, Suzanne. The Typist. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2014.
978-0425268421
Sedaris, David. Naked.  Back Bay Books, 1998. 978-0316777735
Shapiro, B.A., The Art Forger. Algonquin, 2013.
978-1616203160
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. The Shadow of the Wind. Penguin, 2005.
978-0143034902

Zevin, Gabrielle. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey. Algonquin, 2014. 978-1616204518

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Middle Grades Pick: Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls

Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls
Book 1
by Beth McMullen
Aladdin
2017
292 pages
ISBN: 9781481490207


Fast paced and fun, Beth McMullen has a sure hit on her hands. Middle grades and all grades will enjoy the antics and fun when Abigail Hunter is shipped off to a private boarding school for girls. Abigail thinks, "oh, yawn," but finds out that not only is her school anything but boring, it is a super exclusive school for training teen spies.

When Abigail tries sneaking out one night, she overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to hear. Mrs. Smith has to make sure Abigail won't repeat what she's heard or figure it out. Later, she is accepted into the spy school and learns her mother is their favorite spy. She's shocked. She had no idea her boring mother could be an international spy! And now she's missing. Even the adult spies don't have a clue where to look for Abigail's mother (Teflon).

It is up to Abigail to follow the clues and find her mother. Abigail's mother's trail is hard to follow. The adults think she used her  skills to cover her tracks. But why? Why would her mother vanish and leave Abigail at the school? And who is after her?

A rollicking read in what is sure to be a bestselling series for girls grade 4-up. The writing and story are more exciting than the typical Babysitter's Club fare or fairy tale mash-ups. Readers are likely to read the entire series as it publishes.

Highly recommended grade 4-up. A must read! A must have for all MG libraries!

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

McLeod Thompson YA Contemporary

Hi, Everyone! Welcome to my YA books blog where I review the best in YA with some tech thrown in!

Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in Pitch Wars. You'll want to visit the #pimpmybio Blog Hop.

Pitch Wars is an online forum/contest where writers (hopefuls) connect with others and enter their completed manuscripts in an attempt to be chosen as one of the lucky few who will go on to the mentor and agents rounds. You can read about the rules here. This year, I have decided to step up and be noticed. #pimpmybio tells you about how to do one of these posts. Here is my bio:

My BFF Beaudacious


I'm McLeod Thompson.This beautiful American bulldog is Beaudacious.

 Sabotaging Reality is my YA manuscript that mixes reality television, teen snark, mean girls, a pop princess, a boy from Montana,  a genius tech best friend, the Teen Choice Awards, Hollywood, a secret millionaire, a buried family secret, a Caribbean island, a three week competition, a category 5 hurricane and sabotage.  It is a cross between "Survivor" and 'Big Brother.'





I am having AHA moments every day in this writing competition. Other times I have, "OMG" moments. Then I have work to do. 

The critique partners have been a huge help with pointing out strengths and weaknesses. I would suggest every writer have several critique partners. One just is not enough. My manuscript has been a work in progress for over a year (hey, I work full time and review/blog) and my forever CP has been my BFF who is writing her own novel. We have read every word of our work, but we have still missed things until Pitch Wars. Pitch Wars has brought out the best voice of our characters.

If you are thinking of writing a novel or have been, I suggest you head over to #pitchwars to see all the fun/tears. Wish me luck, friends. This is no easy task. It is a toil. It is enlightening. It is draining. It is worth it.



Weird facts about me: 

1. I won a jalapeno eating contest while pregnant by devouring 21 whole raw jalapenos. The baby is now 22 years old and hates spicy food.

2. I collect bizarre kitchen tools like pizza shears
and pie birds.

3. Growing up with gear heads disguised as human brothers, I was forced into racing motorcycles and drag cars. I have a lifelong love of anything on two wheels and sometimes four.

4. I was a lifeguard--still love the beach, hate the ocean.

5. I am a secret kitchen ninja and have won large online recipe contests.
The recipe for the grilled cheese sandwich is yummy and full of awesome delishousness that your doctor warns you about.


6. I rescue dogs. I currently have eight rescues: 3 boxers, 1 American bulldog and the rest are a gaggle of yippy little creatures. Dog names: Beaudacious, Bongo, Berkeley, Bronco, Bon Jovi, Bandit--I see a trend developing here you may be thinking--Smeagle and Ozzy, oops! Broke the trend. Actually many of them had other names when we rescued them, but I renamed them their forever names. Don't listen when people tell you that you can't rename a pet. Yes, you can! 

6. Pitch Wars has made me bake more than I ever have. For inspiration, I bake a cobbler or cookies or whatever. My husband is happy about that!


I LOVE:

Reality tv, of course. I'm a sucker for all the Real Housewives shows. I don't care. I think they are hysterical!
I love rock, Pearl Jam, Metallica, and Billy Idol.
Country: Toby Keith, Hank Williams, Jr., Keith Urban, George Strait
YA novelist: Libba Bray and Andrew Smith 
Films (not movies): To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, The Goonies
Comedy move: It still makes me laugh, so when I need laughter, I see "Dumb and Dumber"--comic genius.
Adult novels of all time: Life Among Giants, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey, The Shadow of the Wind, A Man Called Ove 
Best Rock Song of ALL TIME: "Sympathy for the Devil"--the Rolling Stones

Good luck to everyone. You are all amazing and helpful, and I'm so glad I have decided to enter. Who knows. My next BFF might just be one of you! That's all the warning you'll get.





Thursday, June 29, 2017

Middle Grades Pick: Quicksand Pond

Quicksand Pond
by Janet Taylor Lisle
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
2017
240 pages
ISBN: 9781481472227


Quicksand Pond is the story of two strangers, young girls who meet on a pond in New England one summer. Jessie's family (minus her mother) travels to Rhode Island for the summer renting a decrepit cottage on the shore of Quicksand Pond and steps away from the Atlantic shores. Older sister Julia is not thrilled to be carted off to the backwoods where wi-fi is a joke. She soon discovers the beach and the local kids. Jessie finds a raft at the pond's edge and like a true adventurer, she pushes off on it to the middle of the pond. Without a pole or paddle, the raft is nearly worthless. Jessie uses reeds to pull herself back to shore hours later.

Local kid Terri Carr makes her presence known from the start. She tells Jessie about old stories that have become legends in the town. A husband and wife murdered in the big house on the pond years ago, the crime never solved. People drowning. Another house burned to the ground. Folks around there know who is responsible but Terri is not saying. Terri has her own baggage--her father has a mean temper and a quick hand.

An old woman lives in the huge mansion still. She was a girl when the family was murdered--they were her parents and she witnessed the crime. Now she's an old lady subject to flights of fancy. According to her nurse, the old lady never makes sense. But....what if Miss Cutting isn't just babbling? What if she carries the clues to solve the old cases?

Quicksand Pond has all the elements that make a strong middle grade read--an old unsolved mystery, a couple of drownings, a town rife with rumors, family money and family secrets, a rural setting far enough away from city life, a father who has failed, a family in ruins, two very different girls who meet and become friends, and an unknown villain who wants to keep the past buried forever.

A quick and enjoyable read!

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up.

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

YA Pick: A Short History of the Girl Next Door

This book makes me
A Short History of the Girl Next Door
by Jared Reck
Knopf Books for Young Readers
2017
272 pages
ISBN: 9781524716073

Move over, Sarah Dessen and John Green. Make way for Jared Reck. A Short History of the Girl Next Door is the most promising book of 2017.  Reck has captured unique characters who will resonate with readers. Teen voices are pitch perfect, spot on, memorable and lovable.

Matt (Matty) Wainwright grows up with Tabby who seems more like a sister than a neighbor. Tabby's mother walks away from the family leaving Tabby with a working father who can barely deal with himself. Matt's family steps in and raises Tabby as the daughter they never had. Tabby and Matt share every day together for years until high school. Tabby begins to drift away and into the arms of a senior basketball star.

In high school, Matt realizes he  has "feelings" for Tabby. She has always been there--his partner in crime--the kid he could always count on. A girl, yes, but most of all a friend. Suddenly,  he sees how the light shines off her hair, how the way she moves is like no other girl, how she walks into the room and the atmosphere changes. She is the Halloween Nerds for Matty--"...so good, so amazing, they're not even part of the rankings...You're the Nerds, Tabby," Matt tells her. This line, like the ubiquitous, "You had me at hello," from movie "Jerry Maguire" will be quoted forever. It is the most perfect line of YA prose--capturing both the promise of something indescribably sweet and the youthful innocence of first love.

Besides falling for Tabby, Matt has a fierce love of basketball and his drive to make the varsity team is intense. Teammate and best friend Trip is the perfect sidekick for Matt--bright, hilarious and under it all, deeply caring. All the characters in this YA are so well developed that it is hard to close this book--and readers won't want to!

Make no mistake, this is not a simple love story. It is not a sports story. It transcends both those labels and all others. It is that ONE book you will FEEL long after you finish the last page. A Short History of the Girl Next Door will cause laughter and tears. I wept buckets as I kept turning the pages. Bring your BOX of tissue; you will need the entire box. This YA debut is my early pick for TAYSHAS.

Brilliant cover design and a title that is the best in YA debuts. The marketing department gets kudos for this one!

I see this one as the next big Hollywood teen film! Jared Reck, quit your day job and please write faster! I cannot say it loud enough--this is a MUST READ.

Highly, highly recommended! Put this on your order form NOW. Publishing drop date is September 26, 2017--make sure you reserve your copy!

Grade 9-up. Some language that is "normal" for high school students.

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


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Bad Guy

Bad Guy
by Hannah Barnaby
Illustrated by Mike Yamada
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481460101


Devious, dastardly and devilish, Bad Guy is a delight! A young boy has great adventures being a bad guy. He is a pirate and treasure hunter, he captures superheroes, he goes to space and swallows astronauts and on Friday, he even eats his sister's brain! Bad Guys always get in trouble, and when Mom lays down the law, even a Bad Guy can turn Good.

Mom takes the children to the library where the Bad Guy gets books with all kinds of ideas and he begins to plot his Bad Guy strategy. But sometimes even Bad Guys are outsmarted! Readers will love the unexpected and fun plot twist. This is a book that both young boys and girls will cheer for!

Smart illustrations with inside jokes are sure to please adult readers. The book Alice is reading is titled Eat, Prey, Love (wink)! This author and illustrator team is a winning one!

Highly, highly recommended ages 1-up. Great fun and sure to be Audrey-approved! (Audrey is my 2 year old niece who KNOWS what she likes!)

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

Friday, June 9, 2017

Best New Titles 2017- Pamela's Picks

I presented these new YA, early readers, middle grade and adult titles at the LEND conference 2017. These are AWESOME and some early medal winners picked (by me)!

Best New Titles 2017 Pamela's Picks 

LEGO Wall Presentation- LEND Conference Presentation

Here's my journey to create our GIANT, EPIC LEGO wall in the library

LEGO Wall Presentation 

MaKe Some Noise In the Library LEND Presentation

If you're not making noise, moving and shaking things up, your program is stagnant! Here are some great ideas to get you started or to enhance what you already have:

Check out this Power Point presentation from LEND 2017 for area and Texas and New Mexico libraries;


Make Some Noise 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fairy Tale Reimagined: Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales

Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales
by Kiersten White
Scholastic Press
2017
240 pages
ISBN: 9780545940603

Publication date: Available July 25, 2017

Who doesn't love a catty narrator who knows everything and drops hints for the readers along the way? Kiersten White takes mid-grade readers on a romp through some of our best loved fairy tales twisting the stories so that they are darker, gloomier, and scarier and much, much more fun.

Rapunzel with her locks of hair "locked" in a tower awaits her prince. The bumbling prince manages to scale the side of the castle tower and meets a glowering Rapunzel who points out the obvious--there is a door! On the other side of the tower if  the prince had simply walked around it, he would not have  needed to climb her hair!

Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk and other tales are twisted into comedy gold by White. The wood represents everything magical, scary, strange, weird, and possible. The narrator teases the readers, "No? You....want to go into the deepest, darkest woods? But nothing good ever happens there! Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you."  The Huntsman in the Snow White story is as dopey, loopy, and stupid as a comic clown could be.  The queen writes her instructions in a note and gives it to her Huntsman with the hope that he will somehow carry out her wishes to kill the "creature" in the bag (Snow White). The Huntsman nods and smiles and never tells the queen that he can't read. Comedy ensues.

Laugh out loud funny, Bean Stalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales is my early pick for the Texas Bluebonnet List and likely to be in the running for the Newbery. Biting satire, diabolic dialog, hilarious hi-jinks, and cunning characters make this book a true charmer. This is a Scholastic Book and bound to be on fall book fair. It will probably be the bestseller of the year!

The cover design is appealing and a trick for your eyes. What do you see? Look carefully. There is more than one way to "see" this cover. The cover alone will sell this book. Simply brilliant marketing!

Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up. Strong readers grade 4 will also enjoy  this book but may not understand some of the puns or  digs. Pick this one up and be delighted!

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


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bedtime Story Pick: The Too-Scary Story

The Too-Scary Story
by Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545732420

Available June 27, 2017

Bethanie Murguia ( Zoe's Room, Zoe's Jungle) continues to wow the preschool and young readers world! Her clever stories depict  sibling rivalry and family love that adults will remember from their younger years. Little ones will giggle at  the active banter between the younger brother and the older sister.

Grace wants a scary story; Walter wants a story, but not a too-scary story. Papa gamely begins his story, " One night, two brave explorers and their dog were walking through the forest. It was very, very dark." Walter decides dark is too scary, so Papa lightens it up. Each time Papa begins to tell a creepy story, Grace is enamored while Walter is terrified. Poor Papa has to balance the scary elements (dark, forest, shadow) with not too-scary elements (fireflies, bunnies). In the end, the children are snug in their beds and they each got their kind of story.

Illustrations capture the spookiness of the forest, the presence of the animals in the night,  the fear in the children's eyes, and the intelligence and curiosity of their dog who is their constant companion. It is a book like this one that will make city dwelling kids beg for a dog!

Highly, highly recommended for preschool and young readers. This one is sure to be Audrey approved! (My little niece)

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




Tuesday, May 30, 2017

YA Pick Things I Should Have Known

Things I Should Have Known *
by Claire LaZabnik
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2017
311 pages
ISBN: 9780544829695


What a breath of fresh air! Things I Should Have Known is that rare YA novel that stands out among all the dystopian novels, magical realism (?) novels, urban fiction, vampire/zombie/werewolf/witch paranormal novels, and sweet romantic tales. This novel has not only heart but SOUL, strength and brains!

From the outside looking in, Chloe Mitchell has it all. She's blond, pretty, popular, smart and dating the most handsome jock in school. Girls want to be her, boys want to date her. Chloe's sister Ivy is twenty and is on the autism spectrum. The girls' mother is remarried to Ron, a guy Chloe tries to "tolerate." Chloe's mother tries hard at pleasing everyone which quite simply pleases no one.

When Ivy begins to show an interest in finding a boyfriend of her own, Chloe thinks it is a fine idea and even gives Ivy a makeover. Chloe drives Ivy to her date with Ethan, a boy in her class. Ethan's brother David drove him to the date. Chloe sees DAVID and realizes that she is stuck making small talk with him while her sister and Ethan have their date. Chloe knows David from high school and hates him. He is rude and mean to her. He belittles her for dating James. David' s dry wit and sarcasm will win readers over early on.

Stuck together over several dates, Chloe begins to realize how adorable David truly is. He is sensitive, sweet, smart and a great brother to Ethan. Chloe starts to see all of her boyfriend James's shortcomings.

Things I Should Have Known is a sweet book about friendship, romance and sisters. Chloe, David, Ethan and Ivy are characters that readers will fall in love with. LaZebnik handles the subject of autism with grace, wit, and intelligence. It will open readers' eyes and hearts (I hope) to kids and adults like Ivy and Ethan. Cover art is mind blowing! The play on the title words is nothing short of brilliant. Kudos to the marketing design team.

If you read one YA novel this summer, Things I Should Have Known should be that novel!

Highly, highly recommended grade 9-up. Some mature content (heavy petting, innuendo) and mild profanity by today's standards.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
*I hope I have not offended anyone by using the term autism or autism spectrum. This is an honest and helpful review that I hope shows my love of this book. No offense was intended.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Review: Unearthly Things

Unearthly Things
by Michelle Gagnon

Read what I think of Unearthly Things! 

see my School Library Journal published review here 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Egg

Egg
by Kevin Henkes
Illustrations by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780062408723

This seamless, striking and sensory picture book by master Kevin Henkes is sure to please young readers. This is one  book that MUST be read ALOUD.

There are four eggs: One pink, one blue, one yellow and one green. The first three hatch and little birds enter the world and fly away. The birds come back to visit the green egg. They examine it, wander around it, listen to it, peck at it and surprise! It's an alligator that emerges the green egg. The birds are excited and rejoice at their new friend, but he cannot fly with them. They realize that they will have to stay earthbound for him. They climb up on his back and go for a ride.

What seems simple in a children's book is the hardest thing to pull off. How do you make a lasting impression with so few words? It is something Henkes should be lauded for.

The perfect book for teaching about eggs and the fact that not only birds lay them! This is one book that I know will be Audrey-approved! (Audrey is my 20 month old niece) To be Audrey approved is strong praise indeed!

Highly, highly recommended for every young reader and all collections. A MUST HAVE.

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



YA Review: No Good Deed

No Good Deed
by Goldy Moldavsky
Scholastic
2017
352 pages
ISBN: 9780545867511

Available May 30, 2017

No Good Deed is set up around a promising premise. Young activists are chosen by billionaire entrepreneur/do good-er Robert Drill (who is a caricature of Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates) to  attend a teen summer camp/activism competition. Gregor Maravilla is excited to get an invitation to attend  his idol's camp. He dreams of winning the internship to work alongside Robert Drill, his long time hero.

Sarcasm and zingers abound but most of the characters never come to life. No Good Deed satirises  activism's flaws and the p.c. fishbowl that we live in.  Gregor keeps getting called "white" and insists he is half-Mexican although no one believes him. Half the humor comes from Gregor trying to direct his inner thoughts to be p.c. He has to keep apologizing to himself for even his own thought process.

Every camper is competing for his/her own cause--the more far-fetched, the funnier. At least that's how the book is supposed to read. The kids are so checked out and into themselves that they don't bother knowing anyone else's real name. They refer to each other by their specific cause. There's I Like Paint, Feed the Children, Men's Rights, Seat Belt Safety, and Diabetes.

Gregor is not excited that teen movie star Ashley Woodhouse is at the camp. Her campaign is Eat Dirt which she insists is a real thing. Eating dirt would save the planet according to Ashley and end world-wide hunger. Gregor keeps trying to avoid Ashley, yet everywhere he turns, she pops up.

Moldavsky's debut Kill the Boy Band is a tough act to follow. Goldy Moldavsky is still funny, but her humor is contagious when her protagonists are female and flawed. In No Good Deed, Gregor never engages as the central force of this novel.

Grade 9 and up. Some humor and funny moments, but this one falls short.

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

Friday, May 12, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Big and Little Are Best Friends

Big and Little Are Best Friends
by Michael Garland
Illustrations by the author
Orchard Books
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545870979

Big and Little Are Best Friends is a sweet story about friends who like different things yet still get along and love each other. Polar opposites attract in this tale of friendship. Rhyming lines like, "Little's books are scary./Big's books are sweet./ Big likes to nibble./Little likes to eat" with captivating illustrations make this an entertaining and MUST read aloud.

In fact, Big and Little are so opposite, they sometimes do fight, "..But they always make up,/ And it's always all right." The classic pairing of a mouse and an elephant is perfect for Big and Little. Although it's been done before, it has never been done with this exhurberance!

Young readers will see that friends can get mad, but that they do forgive and stay friends.

This one is a sure winner. Michael Garland's illustrations are full of soul! Big comes alive in the pages with his lifelike eyes and facial expressions. He is a joy to behold! Who knew a picture book elephant could be so real? Kids are certain to respond to him.

Highly, highly recommended for young readers and to teach values of friendship, acceptance, and forgiveness.

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

YA Book Giveaway: Here Lies Daniel Tate WIN Your Copy Before You Can Buy It!

WIN This NOW 
I have FIVE FREE copies of this new YA thriller! For your chance to win, post a comment to the blog. Include your first name, city, state and email contact. DEADLINE for posting is Thursday, May 24 at NOON MST. I will contact winners by email on May 23 in the afternoon. Please check your email that day. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Good luck and start posting! 

Here Lies Daniel Tate
by Cristin Terrill
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
400 pages
ISBN: 978148148076

On sale date: June 6, 2017

Here Lies Daniel Tate is an amazing whodunit for the YA crowd. A nameless narrator bad boy from Canada takes over the identity of a missing boy from California who disappeared from his upscale neighborhood years ago.

This is a solid book ripe for movie adaptation. Clever cover art and the word "lies" in another print color emphasize that "lies" can be used in two ways. The marketing team gets kudos! 

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature content. Profanity.

Early Reader Pick: Bently & egg

Bently & egg
by William Joyce
Illustrations by the author
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Reissue edition)
original copyright 1992 (Harper Collins)
2017
(The World of William Joyce series)
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481489492


Bently & egg is a story that should, no, MUST be shared with every young reader. It is that good!

A singing frog is asked by his best friend Kack Kack to egg sit so she can go to visit her sister who just had her own ducklings. Bently is not thrilled to watch an egg but agrees. He thinks the egg is silly and is so bored watching it until he paints it making it a piece of art. A boy comes to the garden and snatches the egg away thinking that the Easter Bunny must have left it. Bently is beside himself! He must get that egg back. It is his best friend's child and he promised to guard the egg with his life.

Bently is afraid of the house, but enters anyway in order to save the egg. Through a series of mishaps, Bently ends up outside atop a woman's Easter bonnet with his egg intact. He and the egg sneak away disguised as appetizers.

When Bentley returns to the  pond he sleeps and wakes up to a baby boy duckling. Kack Kack has returned and thanks Bently for his heroism in protecting her baby. It seems a gnat, a goldfish, a butterfly, a stuffed elephant, and a rabbit told Kack Kack of Bently's fierce courage and devotion. Bently closes the book with a song.

Beautiful illustrations capture Bently and his antics. Mother duck radiates from the pages. It is no wonder that this book has stood the test of time. This one is a true keeper.

Highly, highly recommended for all young readers. Recommended as an Easter story or an anytime story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

YA Pick: Here Lies Daniel Tate

Here Lies Daniel Tate
by Cristin Terrill
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
400 pages
ISBN: 978148148076

On sale date: June 6, 2017

Here Lies Daniel Tate is an amazing whodunit for the YA crowd. A nameless narrator bad boy from Canada takes over the identity of a missing boy who disappeared from his upscale neighborhood years ago.

When Daniel Tate went missing, his wealthy family is distraught and searches for him. Sadly, he is not found. Years pass. A boy in Canada is taken in by authorities. He is Daniel Tate. What has happened to Daniel all those years he was missing? The Tate family is thrilled and rush the teen home. With their wealth, he clears international borders easily.

Daniel is quiet and a bit strange to everyone. The family gives hims space. He has been through an ordeal. It's understandable that he is shy and reserved. Maybe his captors tortured him. Or worse.

But someone knows the truth. That is because someone killed the real  Daniel Tate. This new boy, whoever he is, is in danger. This family has secrets. Secrets that if exposed will change everyone's lives. Someone is the killer, but everyone seems to want the new boy to really  BE Daniel. Daniel needs to find out who he can trust and fast!

This is a solid book ripe for movie adaptation. Clever cover art and the word "lies" in another print color emphasize that "lies" can be used in two ways. The marketing team gets kudos! 

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature content. Profanity.

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


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Everything Star Wars--May the 4th Be With You!

 Yoda
                                                    Everything Star Wars Is HERE 

                                                       May the 4th Be With You!

                                                                ABC News Story 

                                            Learn the Code with Star Wars! Code.org

                                                                  @StarWarsDay

                                                                @StarWarsinClass

Grab your light saber and join us for the fun! Join in on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Picture Perfect Pick: Back To School With Bigfoot

Back To School With Bigfoot
by Samantha Berger and Martha Brockenbrough
Illustrated by Dave Presser
Arthur A. Levine Books
40 pages (page count from Amazon)
ISBN: 9780545859738

Available June 27, 2017

. Back to school is tough for anyone, but can you imagine if you were Bigfoot?

Quirky illustrations will win readers over including a favorite on the first spread depicting a young student coming unglued over a pile of texts including the titles: Learning Is Hard, Hard Math, Impossible Math, Vague Geography, and Grammar Ain't Easy.

Bigfoot is worried about school. Shopping for clothes and shoes is impossible for someone his size. He decides school is overrated and he'll just stay home, but he will miss his teacher, Miss Sierra Nevada! And his friends. He thinks about all the fun he will miss with his friends and even dreams of becoming the Valebigtorian of the class! Bigfoot happily agrees to go back to school where he can meet his friends and have fun.

Bigfoot is an affable character smiling on each page. He is lovable and winsome and every reader will want to meet him.

This little charmer would be a great read for a child who is afraid of going to school for the first time or to a new school.

Highly recommended for young readers.

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

Monday, May 1, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Pig the Pug


Pig the Winner
by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic Press
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9781338136388

Available June 27, 2017

Pig is a pugnacious pug! He has to be the first in everything, the best at everything, the winner of everything! He will even cheat if he has to. Trevor shares the household with this bellicose blob of dog. Dachshund Trevor takes the back seat and plays fair. He even lets Pig win just to keep the household happy.

When Pig doesn't win, he cries so much that everyone gives in to him. A mishap while overeating and acting like a ....well....pig....makes Pig value Trevor's friendship and affection. Pig is a changed pug!

Young readers may recognize some of Pig's behaviors and cheer Trevor on. Illustrations are sure to make readers smile, Pig is likely to become one of childhood's greatest characters. He is a cheat and a blowhard, but he's a lovable cheating blowhard.

Highly, highly recommended. This Pig has heart!

Young readers.

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



Friday, April 28, 2017

Beach Pick or How To Move On With Your Life Pick: Ramona Blue

Ramona Blue
by Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray
2017
400 pages (page count taken from arc)
ISBN: 9780062418357

Ramona Blue is author  Julie Murphy's most memorable character yet. A strong female on the brink of discovery, Ramona is learning about life and love and how both can change and that change is okay.

Ramona Blue longs to escape her seedy beach town of Eulogy, Mississippi--Eulogy--even sounds desolate right?  Ramona's world is made up of her pregnant sister Hattie, her inept  father, her idiot mother and no where to go or to be except at one of her jobs. Ramona is the only one who seems to "get" that the family  is struggling for their existence. Since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home, they have been living in a FEMA trailer that is little better than sleeping outside.

Ramona is a larger than life figure--standing at over 6' tall, she has to duck and navigate her "home" and showering in the tiny shower is laughable. Ramona, far from a shrinking violet, sports electric blue hair...always. After saying good bye to her summer romance Grace, Ramona realizes that for her, it was more than just a summer fling. She is worried that Grace will go back to her "real" life and forget all about their summer together.

When old friend Freddie arrives back in town, Ramona is happy to spend time with him. It is easy being around Freddie and their friendship seems just right.

Ramona is on the edge of something great--her life is before her, her past behind her. This coming of age story will strike a chord in readers. It is real life. Fiction just says it better! Thank you, Julie Murphy, for making terrible things beautiful.

This book is for anyone who is at the crossroads whatever they may be. Ramona Blue will choose and it will be alright.

Heartfelt and deep, Ramona Blue will pull readers in, and Julie Murphy has another winner on her hands!

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature subject matter.

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


Monday, April 17, 2017

Hot Tech Tools

Here's a short list of some tools that you can use in the classroom and beyond

TASL Talks

Hot Tech Tools for Classroom and Beyond - Some for testing, some for studying, some just for fun!

List by Pamela Thompson, LMS, Col. John O. Ensor Middle School, El Paso USD;@PThompson_EMS ; http://booksbypamelathompson.blogspot.com/

I originally presented this list at a Tech Conference for a neighboring school district. TASL asked me for a contribution, so here you are!

Monday, April 10, 2017

TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU: National Poem in Your Pocket Day - April 27, 2017

This is a nice article and mention of our upcoming event for National Poem in Your Pocket Day:

TASL Talks: Legislative and Advocacy for YOU: National Poem in Your Pocket Day - April 27, 2017: by Pamela Thompson, LMS,  Col. John O. Ensor Middle School, Socorro ISD (El Paso) ;  @PThompson_EMS  ;  http://booksbypamelathompson.blogsp...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

YA Pick: Blood Family

Blood Family
by Anne Fine
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
291 pages
ISBN: 9781481477734


Blood Family is the gripping tale of a boy who had no chance. Edward's mother is a ghost of a woman who has lost her humanity. Beaten and abused for years, she has lost her will to survive let alone raise a seven year old child. If not for a nosy neighbor, Edward would probably be dead.

Rescued from the home along with his mother, Edward is taken to "safety." The conditions of his childhood home are documented by social workers and police officers. There is nothing to eat and deplorable conditions. Edward has never set foot from the house, never been outside, never talked to anyone before. Everything he knows he has learned from thirty year old VCR tapes of episodes of "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."

Edward is grateful to be saved but worried about his mother. She will never be capable of taking care of herself again. Edward is shuttled off to foster homes and never fits in. He realizes his mother's abusive "boyfriend" is really his "blood" father and terrified  that if they share the same DNA, maybe Edward will be evil also. He does not want to become a beast.

After a series of relationships, homes, demons, drugs and failures, he realizes he will be okay.

The chapters are told in first person by a series of narrators: the neighbor who calls the police, the police who respond, social workers, foster parents, teachers and Eddie himself. Readers will get the big picture and not just Eddie's possibly skewed view of things. The book was first released by Doubleday in Great Britain. Blood Family is a tough book about a deplorable subject. It is not a "feel good" book.

Recommended for realistic fiction collections and high schools.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grammar Pick: Word Play

Word Play
by Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrations by Jared Chapman 
Arthur A. Levine Books
2017
40 pages
ISBN: 9782545934282

On sale date: July 25, 2017

Word Play is a lively and colorful picture book that takes place on the playground where all the types of words come out to play. Verb comes out to "do," Noun comes out to "be," Adjective comes out to "describe." This picture book will come in handy in all English and  reading classrooms and will benefit all learners of grammar--which is a concept so dismally missing from curriculum that students don't have any idea what a noun or verb is let alone an adjective or adverb. An interjection? Never heard of it! 

As a former high school English teacher I can attest to the fact that high school students did not know what a sentence fragment was at the beginning of the year. They had to be "reminded" that a noun and a verb must be present to make a sentence. 

Adam Lehrhaupt makes learning grammar fun and accessible. Colorful illustrations will delight younger learners.  Jared Chapman captures characters' personalities and facial expressions in each two page spread. 

Highly recommended for all English language collections and grammar classrooms. Oh, the possibilities of teaching with this book! 

Grade 3-up and all grades English.




Friday, March 31, 2017

March School Library Journal YA Xpress Reviews: Chemistry

My review of Chemistry appears  here on the School Library Journal YA Xpress reviews.
Chemistry is the 8th review from the top.

I enjoyed this lighthearted romp which is comic clever, romantic  and a satire of zombie and vampire books that have come before.
Chemistry (Stella Blunt, Book 1)
C.L. Lynch
One Tree Hill Press
2016 
372 pages 
ISBN: 9780995307001


Monday, March 20, 2017

Picture Book Pick: Tidy

Tidy
By Emily Gravett
Illustration by the author
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481480192

Charming and intelligent, Tidy is a keeper. Pete the badger likes everything tidy. He is the Felix Unger of the forrest. He does not like dust, leaves, twigs, detritus.  He goes on a cleaning frenzy tidying his ecosystem. Illustrations of Pete's concrete jungle show readers how a forrest can be killed. What Pete  discovers is that messy in a forrest is a beneficial thing. Nature needs "messes" to keep the balance of the system. Pete learns a valuable lesson and makes friends with his forrest neighbors.

Winsome animal illustrations capture each animal's  personality. Pete himself is precious, even when he wields a vacuum cleaner on the folio page. The strong message of keeping wild spaces wild will capture a new audience inspired to save nature.


Highly, highly recommend ages preschool to all grades. The message is inspiring. Emily Gravett amazes.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Non-Fiction Pick: Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel

Beastly Brains: Exploring How Animals Think, Talk and Feel
by Nancy F. Castaldo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2017
152 pages
ISBN: 9780544633353

Beastly Brains  is a must-have for young scientists, animal behaviorists, and animal lovers. Scientists have  hought crows were smart for a long time, but this book proves other species can think, learn and remember. Dolphins have a language of their own and use "signature whistles" their entire lives. They recognize each other by the whistle even if it's been years since they have seen one another.

Did you know that your dog can feel jealousy? Of course you did! Well, science is now backing you up. Apes and monkeys are studied often. Scientists have learned that apes like to gamble and they show emotion if they lose. many animals use tools including monkeys, dolphins and crows.

Beastly Brains is a must buy for animal behavior sections.

Recommended grade 6-up.

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



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spy Series Pick: Spy Ski School


Spy Ski School 
by Stuart Gibbs
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2016
368 pages
ISBN: 9781481445627

Spy Ski School is the fourth in this fun series and it's the BEST! Ben Ripley is up to it again. More fun, more gadzooks, more catching evil criminals, more silliness, more hijinks, more tomfoolery,  and more shenanigans within the CIA. Ben, Erica, Zoe  and other spy students from the academy are sent to a ski resort in Colorado to "blend in" and make friends with their target's daughter, Jessica Shang.  The CIA needs to know what the fabled  Chinese gangster is up to and stop him before his evil doings. Jessica and father Leo arrive in a parade of expensive SUVs surrounded by huge bodyguards. Ben is worried how he will ever make contact with all the goons around, but team member and BFF Erica always has a plan. 

It wasn't Ben's fault that once he caught sight of Jessica, it colored his perspective. Erica's reaction to Ben's crush is a cross between angry girlfriend and pouting little girl. The closer Ben gets to Jessica puts Erica on edge. Could it be because Leo Shang wants Ben dead or maybe because Erica truly likes Ben herself? 

Spy Ski School is a laugh out loud novel for middle grades and up. Some scenes are sheer slapstick-- reminiscent of early television's "The Three Stooges" or Charlie Chaplin's skits. Somehow falling down on ice skates and causing a people pile is really funny and trying to walk like a human while wearing ski boots is equally as charming. There really isn't any way to be "cool" on the ski slopes. Ben doesn't have to act like he's undercover; he is a natural, lovable oaf that any bad guy would never expect  he was really  a seasoned spy. 

The electricity between Ben and Erica is heating up to a fever pitch, and working side by side risking their lives on a daily basis heightens their senses. The banter between the two teens is often hysterical and always entertaining. Stuart Gibbs is a master of story telling! Spy Ski School has it all! There is more action, more romance, more friendship, more planning, more plotting, more deception,  and more spying in this book. These bad guys are using real bullets and they are out for blood. 

If you haven't read the Spy School series, you need to get with the program. These are some of my favorite books to recommend at my middle school.

Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up. Buy this series for every reluctant reader, boy or girl They will LOVE it! 

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


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Graphic Pick: Fish Girl

Fish Girl
by Donna Jo Napoli
Illustratons by David Wiesner
Clarion Books
2017
192 pages
ISBN: 9780547483931


Ethereal illustrations by David Wiesner capture the beauty of Fish Girl and her aquarium home. Colorful sea creatures are realistic and beautiful. A friendly orange octopus is the epitome of a true friend. Fish Girl is a captive in an aquarium. Caught as a baby "mer-son," Fish Girl owes her life and sustanence to Neptune, the sea god. Neptune is the only parent figure Fish Girl has ever known, and he claims he saved her from death, giving her a home at the aquarium. The only thing he asks is that she "perform"--allowing visitors to glimpse a sighting of her. She is not allowed to fully  appear to anyone and cannot interact with the human guests. Neptune warns her that if people really believe that she's a mermaid, someone will come and take her away to study and cut open. This is enough to frighten her into subservience.

One day, this all changes when a curious twelve year old named Livia bonds with her. Fish Girl cannot speak and has no legs to walk, but she dreams of being human. What would it be like to have legs and walk on dry land and wear real clothes and  attend a yoga class? Livia continues to sneak visits with Fish Girl whom she names Mira (short for Miracle) and wonders where Fish Girl came from and just who Neptune really is. After one of her visits, Mira questions her keeper's intentions as well. She searches Neptune's office and finds overdue bills and a photo of Neptune fishing on a boat.Mira realizes her "father" is not the god of the sea but a common fisherman and he's been lying to her about everything.

Mira  decides she wants out and enlists the help of Octopus in her foray. Her friend will do anything for her and does.

Fish Girl is the strange but wonderful story of a mermaid and a human who become friends and later sisters. It is full of friendship, hope, possibilities and love.

Magnificent art will win over even "boy" readers who thinks that Fish Girl is a "girl" story. One reviewer on Amazon reported that her son said, "while he said this was a "girl story" (a huge insult for a 4th grade boy), he eventually succumbed to mom's pleas and read it and called it, "pretty good, but still would have been better with boys" ... Which is basically a rave review for him..." That being said, if boys are led to this book, they will likely enjoy the story and the fantastic graphic content. 


Highly, highly recommended for fans of graphic novels and middle school readers. 

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Memorial Pick: Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder
by Kate Messner
Illustrations by Greg Ruth
Scholastic Press
2017
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545470124

Available April 25, 2017
Just in time for Memorial Day!

Rolling Thunder tells the story of a brave soldier, a grandfather now, who along with his grandson, visits the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, to honor his friends who were lost in battle. What a message! Illustrations bring America's heartland to readers.Author Kate Messner uses rhyming couplets and creates a tone of quiet, sadness and memories of those lost.

One  illustration depicts a young boy shaking the hand of a vet--it is poignant and full of grace. Other illustrations of the Rolling Thunder ride and the parade of bikes on the front cover are inspiring. One illustration shows the bikes coming head-on at the reader off of the page, This powerful image will have readers feeling the rumble of Rolling Thunder. The Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam wall of names are beautifully illustrated by Greg Ruth. Almost every two page spread shows an American flag proudly on display.

Rolling Thunder arrives just in time for Memorial Day. Finally!  A new picture book that librarians and teachers can use to teach children the importance of the day, of the soldiers who came before, of patriotism, and of being American and of being free!

This is one important little book. In tough times, our children need inspiration. They need to be taught and shown what is right and wrong. Rolling Thunder arrives just in time.

Highly, highly recommended for every classroom and collection. As a librarian, I always got requests for books that helped teach kids the significance of holidays. If you need inspiration for Memorial Day, look no more!

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


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book and Swag Giveaway: Dog Man Unleashed



I have FIVE FREE copies of Dog Man Unleashed to giveaway to lucky winners! Winners will also get a Dog Man poster and Dog Man tattoos! This is epic, people!

All you have to do for your chance to win is write a comment to this blog. Please include your first name, city, state and email. I need your email contact in case you win. It will not be used for anything else. Comments await publication, so it may take a day or two if you post on the weekend, but your comment will be published in the order it was received. 

Deadline for posting a comment is noon MST Feb. 27. Winners will be chosen randomly by Randomizer and notified on Feb. 27. Please check your email on that date in the afternoon. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books, posters and tattoos will ship from New York . 

Now, good luck and start posting. Hooray for Dog Man!