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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks

I made this list from several sources I have read. Tweaked it for my library. I created a Piktochart  here

Top 20 Reasons Reading Rocks!
  1. You can experience things you would never do
  2. You can read in any weather
  3. You can experience the past
  4. You can dream about the future
  5. It’s the cheapest way to travel anywhere
  6. It doesn’t require batteries
  7. You may become  smarter than a 5th Grader
  8. Reading increases brain power—it’s heavy lifting for the brain
  9. You can learn how things work
  10. Reading is a great escape
  11. Reading stimulates creativity
  12. The mind…a terrible thing to waste
  13. You never know what you might find out from a book
  14. You will never outgrow reading
  15. Reading helps you become a better writer
  16. You will find new heroes in reading and some old friends!
  17. Reading is inspiring
  18. Reading satisfies curiosity
  19. Reading expands your mind
  20. The book is ALWAYS way better than the movie!
                         Reading----the ultimate superpower!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Action Pick: Boy X

Boy X
by Dan Smith
Chicken House
288 pages
ISBN: 9781338065640

Available February 28, 2017

Kdnapped, drugged, and transported to a remote location, Ash wakes up in a bed surrounded by stark white walls. He remembers bits and pieces of being kidnapped along with his mother, and he begins searching this hospital (prison?) for her. The place is deserted and Ash cannot find any clues about where he is until he sees the view from the front doors. It looks like he is stuck in the middle of a jungle somewhere. Ash exits the doors, goes into the forest and sees a girl about his age. She tells him he is on Isla Negra, Black Island, and that her father works inside the BioSphere (the building he woke up in). Ash and Isobel go inside to search for her father and Ash's mother.

 Gunshots ring out, a helicopter crashes, the building is sealed, and their  parents are locked inside of a lab.  There they were exposed to Kronos, a poison that will kill them in 24 hours unless they get the antidote. Ash feels strange and disoriented. He has a heightened sense of smell and hearing. Ash is changing, and he's not the only one.

Ash is determined to save his mother's life but he'll need the help of Isobel to cross the island, find the thieves, steal the poison back along with the antidote, and stay alive long enough to deliver it to BioSphere and save his mother and Isobel's father.

What is BioSphere and why is Ash's mother involved? What happened to Ash when he was unconscious? And who wants to change him?

Fast pacing and non-stop action make this a must read for reluctant readers. Each chapter shows a clock showing hours and minutes left that the kids have to get the poison and cure. Readers will feel on edge as Ash races to save the world and his mother.

Highly recommended for action and adventure junkies. Anyone who loves a medical mystery/government cover up story will love Boy X.

Grades 4-8.

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

Friday, December 9, 2016

Non-Fiction Pick: Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
176 pages
ISBN: 978054431959

Fascinating and extensively researched, Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White pays homage to one of America's most beloved children's writers.  Young readers will be amused and captivated by White's childhood notebooks and sketches. Showing artistic and literary promise from a young age, White's journals and papers narrate his life.

Bookish and shy, White was no good at sports although he did enjoy summers in Maine, canoeing and swimming. When WWI broke out, White did not weigh enough to serve in the military. He always loved Maine and returned there after college. After living and working in New York, he sought the solace of Maine and bought a farm that would end up being the model for Charlotte's Web.
It was unheard of in those days for a serious writer to jump from adult fiction to writing children's books, but White wrote Stuart Little which came under fire from critics and librarians. The adults did not know what children did. Young readers loved the fact that a mouse was born to a human family. Children could imagine!

Charlotte's Web is probably the most loved children's book of all time. Writer Eudora Welty praised it saying, "...as a piece of work it is just about perfect." Kate diCamilio says of White's style, "The thing about White that comforts and fascinates me (and challenges me) is how he manages to make his words matter more. It is as if he is able to make one word do the work of ten."

The book is marketed for middle readers it is enjoyable for anyone who loves words, writing, books, reading and magic. E.B. White made generations believe in magic decades before there was a young boy named Harry Potter, and we are all better for it. He believed, "Children are demanding. They are the most attentive, curious, eager, observant, sensitive, quick and generally congenial readers on earth....." Because of this, he never wrote down to them. He inspired them and was inspired by them.

HIGHLY, highly recommended for every reader from eight to eighty and beyond. This is one of the best biographies I have read.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Middle Grades Pick: Brightwood

by Tania Unsworth
Algonquin Young Readers
260 pages
ISBN: 9781616203306

Compelling and mesmerizing, Brightwood is a dazzling middle grades read sure to captivate!

Eleven year old Daisy is still waiting for her mother to return to Brightwood. It has been five, or was it, six hours ago that she left? Daisy knows her mother would never go away and not return. Daisy hunkers down in their moldering mansion and awakens to find her mother still missing. It is just the two of them, and Daisy has never left the grounds of Brightwood, not once. Her mother has made it painfully clear that there is nothing out there in the world beyond the gates for Daisy. What can she do now?

There is enough to eat--more than enough. Daisy's mother buys in bulk--everything in bulk. In fact, it is hard to maneuver in the mansion. Even the once grand ballroom is stuffed with boxes and old furniture. Daisy has to clear paths to walk. Keeping her company is her pet rat Tar (aptly named Tar because it is rat backwards) who not only talks but  has a wicked sense of humor. After the first day, Daisy meets a specter of a black and white girl named Frank. Frank has been around the world on expeditions with Daisy's own kooky grandfather. As Daisy begins to panic, Frank is the voice of reason who calms Daisy and talks her through problems.

A stranger shows up and acts like he is right  at home. Daisy is afraid of the newcomer and talks it over with Frank who warns her that the stranger seems to be taking over Brightwood. Daisy looks for clues not only to where her mother could have gone, but also who this newcomer could be and what could he want. When she realizes that the stranger is her mother's cousin--the estranged black sheep of  the family--Daisy goes into defense mode. his words are chilling:  "Nobody  knows you exist."  What are the odds a sheltered eleven year old, a pet rat and a made-up friend defeating a maniacal killer?

Brightwood is everything a story should be! The setting is a creepy, near abandoned mansion located far from help. There is a  missing mother, a scared eleven year old girl who has to rely on herself to save her own life and that of her mother, a family secret, generations of mental illness, strange ancestors, strange family portraits, and rooms full of boxes that hold the clues that will save Daisy and Brightwood.

Cover art is beautiful and evokes a sense of gloominess: the mansion in the background, trees and grass overgrown, the massive iron gate holding Daisy inside the grounds, a girl at the window looking out hoping to see her mother. 

Highly, highly recommended for all middle grades and anyone who gets lost in a great story. I LOVED Daisy! If you know readers 8-up, give them Brightwood. They will love it.

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Top Titles 2016: YA and Middle Grades

Pamela's Picks 2016 (Prezi)

It has been a great year for YA and middle grades, too! With so many books to choose from, I've developed my list of favorites this year. Click the link for a Prezi 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

YA Pick: Spontaneous

by Aaron Starmer
Dutton Books
355 pages
ISBN: 9780525429746

Laugh out loud hilarious, Spontaneous will leave readers snorting with laughter.  Then they realize that they are laughing at a teenager  who just blew up. While that is not cause for laughter in a normal world, Starmer frames teens blowing up in such a comic way they it is instantly (spontaneously) hilarious. This kind of black comedy is rare in YA and done only by a few writers like Andrew Smith and Libba Bray.

When teens begin blowing up, Mara Carlyle  is present each time a classmate meets a  terrible demise. She has the record, in fact, of most teen blow-ups witnessed.  As time wears on, Mara treats it like combing her hair in the morning--just a part of life. Mara is glib, witty and chatty as the narrator and takes the reader on an entertaining journey through her senior year. While insensitive and blatant, Mara uses it as a coping mechanism against the blood and gore around her. Instead of breakups and make-ups, it's blow ups and clean ups. When it becomes obvious that kids from the senior class are blowing up and it's not some random thing that cannot be explained, the government gets involved and surrounds the city. The kids are now prisoners and then lab rats. What is causing the senior class of Covington High to blow up?  Is it something they ingested? Something they took in an illegal drug? Did they pick up a parasite? Is it a medical condition?

The agent covering the case is FBI agent Carla Rosetti who Mara secretly admires, even striving to be her best buddy. The agent lets her know that the government may indeed be involved. She gives Mara and her  bff Tess burner phones to contact her if they find out anything about the case.

Spontaneous is enjoyable and entertaining although some may find the ending disappointing as the cause of the blowups is never addressed. Readers will have to write their own ending to this novel.

Recommended for laughs! High school grades 9-up. Profanity, lots of sex, bad behavior, alcohol, drugs, partying like it's 1999--hey, they are all blowing up, you know.

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Mystery Pick: Running Girl

Running Girl
(Garvie Smith Mysteries, Book 1)
by Simon Mason
David Fickling Books
432 pages
ISBN: 9781338036428

Garvie Smith is a genius. He is smarter than any student at Marsh Academy but also is failing all his classes. His teachers and school bore him. It is not until his ex-girlfriend Chloe  is murdered that Garvie is interested in leaving his room.

The police are investigating, but Garvie knows they need help. Working alone, Garvie will leave no stone unturned in Chloe's murder. Inspector Singh is no slouch at police work. He is methodical and precise. He advises Garvie to leave the investigating up to the police, but Garvie does not listen.

Everywhere Garvie goes, Singh is right behind him. This is infuriating to the policeman. He orders Garvie off the case, but the teen is not hearing it at all. The dynamic between the adult detective and teen genius is competitive in nature  but each admires the other.

Garvie begins to investigate some nefarious characters and finds himself in dangerous surroundings. With his keen eye and his Sherlock Holmes' deductive reasoning he is able to know who the true killer is before the police can move in.

American readers will find Running Girl charming with its British place names and some slang words. America seems to have a love affair with all things British: One Direction, Adele, Lord, and way before them: the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and the British Invasion.

Recommended for high school readers grade 9-up. This is a solid detective/police thriller and mystery story with a memorable character: Garvie Smith.

Profanity, drug use, sex, mature themes.

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