Thursday, October 31, 2019

Non-Fiction Dinosaur Pick: Everything Awesome about Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!

Everything Awesome About Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Beasts!
by Mike Lowery
Orchard Books
128 pages

Mike Lowery's colorful take on everything cool and/or weird about dinosaurs and paleontologists is the most fun reluctant readers and dinosaur fans could wish for! Brimming with interesting facts about dinosaurs and their times, readers will learn about fossils, dinosaur's closest relatives, the rise of of dino and the theories of what happened to them. Lowery includes dinosaur  jokes and How To Draw pages to entertain kids long after they've studied all the facts.

Factoids are illustrated with whimsy and text is easy to read. Visual learners will understand complex eras and plate tectonics through story (comic) bubbles in the illustrations. Full of jokes, puns, and trivia, Lowery has created a awesome learning experience.

This is a MUST HAVE for every elementary collection and middle school readers will love it. If you have a child in your life with dinosaur love, purchase this one for Christmas.

Highly, highly recommended grades 2 and up.

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

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Picture Book PIck: Fly!

by Mark Teague
Beachlane Books
40 pages
ISBN: 97815344451

fly! is a story done with illustrations and  no words. Illustration bubbles above the mommy bird and baby (teen) bird tell the entire story. Teague captures animal behavior well and develops character for both birds via personality through their actions and "dialog" between them.

Baby bird doesn't want to leave the nest where his mother feeds and protects him. Mother tells him he's getting bigger and birds are birds. Birds fly. Soon they will migrate to Florida (Welcome to Florida sign), and he needs to learn to fly. Baby bird imagines flying on a hang glider or using superhero powers complete with cape to fly, or maybe he can take a train or skateboard to Florida. Mother tells him in order to get food and stay safe from predators like cats and owls, he must learn to fly. That does it! The image of an evil owl sends baby bird into the air.

A sweet animal story and a mother's love for her child make fly! a special book. Young readers will have a blast creating dialog for each two-page spread. Early learners and creative writers could use the picture book to develop their own stories.

Highly recommended for all young readers and creative writers.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

MIddle Grade Pick: The Line Tender

The Line Tender
Kate Allen
384 pages
ISBN: 9780735231603

See  my review in VOYA Magazine 

Lucy Everhart is only seven years old when her marine biologist mom dies. Her fisherman father becomes grief-ridden and silent, so Lucy turns to the neighbors and best friend Fred who shares her love of the sea and adventure. Now twelve, Lucy and Fred visit the beach and local fishermen every day. The discovery of a great white shark at their beach sets Lucy on the path to find out more about her mother's study of local sharks. Fred is happy to  help. Twelve going on thirteen is a strange age, and Lucy begins to feel a little differently toward Fred. After their first (and only) kiss, Fred drowns! Lucy has lost two people central in her young life, and turns to her mother's research notes to help her cope. 

Beautiful illustrations of shark species open each chapter. Cover art is eye-catching with a multitude of shark swimming by a young girl holding a notebook. The story begins as a friendship story: tender and naive. After Fred's death, the story shifts as Lucy searches for answers in her mother's research. She gets help from an unlikely old fisherman. When Lucy finds her sharks, she is able to process the loss of her mother and best friend. Page count may scare off reluctant readers. Suited for well-funded upper middle grade collections. 

Recommended for thoughtful readers and animal lovers. The Line Tender would make a great whole class read for a pre-AP English class grade seven or eight. 

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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Middle Grade Pick: The Dark Lord Clementine

The Dark Lord Clementine
by Sarah Jean Horwitz
Algonquin Young Readers
329 pages
ISBN: 9781616208943

Middle grade readers: get ready to be delighted, enthralled and enrapt in the immersive world of master storyteller Sarah Jean Horwitz!

Clementine Morcerous is the only child and sole heir to Castle Brack. When her father falls ill to a cunning spell cast by the Whittle Witch (the Witch of the Wood), it's up to Clementine to figure out how to help him and keep their castle and lands running. Father's magic is running out, the scarecrows aren't working in the land, the castle witch runs away with their grocery money, and everything is turning topsy turvy. Things are getting worse on an hourly basis, and unless Clementine moves fast, they could lose everything.

Clementine must find the Whittle Witch and figure out how to undo her magic, fix her father, get the magic back into the castle on pretend to be just as dark and menacing as the Dark Lord himself without ever letting any of the town's people know the Dark Lord is ailing. Everyone knows what happens if the Dark Lord appears weak: the people will wreak havoc and take over the castle. Clementine can't let that happen.

She turns to a magical book: the Witchionary! which has "...cataloged and chronicled" details of the Dark Lord's most dreaded enemies: witches. With her sidekicks a talking sheep, a young boy from town and help from a stranger, Clementine searches to find her place in the world and answers to her father's predicament.

Captivating and mesmerizing, full of wit and snark, and whimsical beings including witches who are indentured servants and a satyr who trades goods for spells, the Lady of the Lake (from Arthurian legend) who is indeed beautiful. But as beautiful as she is, she is an equally horrible singer with a bad memory, and worse yet she keeps mixing her metaphors which is laugh out loud funny.  She's so ditsy,  she'll throw swords at anyone who passes her whether it be a knight or not (hence the swords all over the book cover).

The Dark Lord Clementine will be up for Book of the Year and awarded many state awards.  You heard it here first! It is a rare middle grade find and a soaring triumph that kids will be delighted to read. Clementine is one tough female with equal parts intelligence, humor, and bravery. No matter how dire her predicament, she summons the strength to move forward and do what is right.

Highly, highly recommended as a MUST READ. If you have middle grade kids or know some, buy this book now! A must for all middle grade collections.

Grade 4 and up.