Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 Franklin's Day with Dad

Franklin is a perennial favorite in my library, so I know we'll be adding this title to our collection. Franklin hears about his friend Fox's "Day with Dad" and decides that he wants to have a special day with his own father. He plans bumpy buggies, kite flying, and fishing. When the two of them keep being asked to help friends and family with tasks, Franklin is sure the Day with Dad will never happen. As usual in a Franklin story, he learns an important lesson (and still fits in some fun with his dad).

I know that one of the reasons for Franklin's success is the TV show that many kids have seen. But the vibrant colors used in the illustrations help capture the attention of younger readers in the same way the animated show does. It's nice to see a story where fathers are taking the time to share activities with their children, whether it's fishing or helping a neighbor repair a leaky roof. Positive role models and family relationships are an important thing for young readers to see.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published April 1, 2014.


Winter Reading 2014 The Mermaid and the Shoe

King Neptune has 50 daughters with beautiful names like Clio, Thetis, and Calypso - and then there's Minnow. They each have a skill that is amazing: Clio has gardening, Thetis can train fish, Calypso has singing - and then there's Minnow. She can't do any of the things her sisters do and we see a funny image of jellyfish plugging their ears when Minnow sings. Just like sisters on dry land, mermaid sisters can be thoughtless and mean. Calypso tells Minnow that she is useless. But then Minnow discovers a strange thing and goes on a journey to find out where it came from and what it is (we all can see that it's a shoe). On this journey she finds answers to some of the questions she has always asked and she also discovers her own special skill. When she returns home everyone is impressed by the tale of her journey, except Calypso, of course.

The illustrations of the mermaids with their hair waving in the ocean currents and their pale skin create a classic fairy tale feeling. The scenes with the jellyfish plugging their ears and the octopus shrugging are comical in contrast. Together they make a light-hearted world for Minnow to discover herself in, despite grumpy sisters. This is a great book for fans of Ariel who are looking for more mermaid stories to enjoy and should also be popular with fans of princess stories. I can also see parents and teachers using it to encourage those who have not yet found what they are good at and need some encouragement. The author has provided a trailer which shows some of the artwork from the book.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published April 1, 2014.


Winter Reading 2014 Lost in Babylon (Seven Wonders #2)

The kids from the Karai Institute are back again in another incredible adventure. At the end of the first book (The Colossus Rises), Marco was missing along with the first Loculus that the team had found. Readers have been told that the island of Atlantis sank because the seven Loculi which contained all the energy sources for the island were stolen away by Prince Massarym and that his brother Prince Karai tried to stop him. Descendants of Atlantis have an unusual gene that gives them amazing abilities, but also kills them before their 14th birthday. The KI was formed to find the Loculi and a cure for the descendants. A rival group, the Massa, are trying to stop them and find the artifacts for themselves.

This time the KI finally pick up the signal from Marco's tracer and follow it to the Euphrates River. Marco tells Aly, Cass, and Jack he has found an entrance to Babylon and he believes another Loculus is hidden there. Is it true? Is there another magical artifact from the lost kingdom of Atlantis hidden on the other side of the strange portal? Will they be able to find it before the Massa find them? How can the Hanging Gardens of Babylon contain the next Loculus when the gardens have been gone for centuries?

If you enjoy exotic world locations, learning about the history of ancient places like the pyramids, and adventure similar to that found in The 39 Clues, then you will jump right into this series. We have both books in the library and will add the others when they are published. The trailer explains the idea behind the series.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 The Thirteenth Mystery (Hocus Pocus Hotel #3)

This is a fun read for mystery lovers and those interested in magic and magicians. The Abracadabra Hotel, also known as the Hocus Pocus Hotel, was designed and built by magicians. One of them, Brack (short for Abracadabra), owns the hotel and lives in a home on the hotel's roof. When Brack goes missing, his young friends - Charlie Hitchcock, Tyler Yu, and Annie Solo, must search the hotel for clues to solve the mystery. Mixed into the plot are visiting magicians David Dragonstone and Theopolis, a new employee at the hotel named Cozette, forgotten statues, and secrets hidden in the hotel's blueprints.

The story is fast-paced and the full-page illustrations spaced throughout the book help bring it to life. The glamour of stage magicians and the intrigue of the missing hotel owner keep everything interesting. Readers of shorter mysteries like Cam Jansen or Jigsaw Jones will not be intimidated by the longer books in this series because the story goes by so quickly. There is a trailer available for the book.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published March 1, 2014.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 The Return of Zita the Spacegirl (Zita the Spacegirl, #3)

We have Zita's other adventures in our school library, so I was pleased that there was a new book out. This time around Zita will need the help of all her friends, old and new, to defeat the villain who wants to rule Earth. Some of the friends we see again are Piper, Madrigal, Strong Strong, and One. Zita is a great character. Even though she is a hero, she is still very human. She is impulsive, doesn't always think things through, and is still young enough to believe she can save everyone. But she is also brave, determined, loyal, and wants to do the right thing. The aliens and robots she interacts with have a variety of shapes, sizes, and personalities - and the good-hearted ones always love Zita.

Readers who enjoy action stories set in space with aliens, ships, robots, and gadgets will zip through The Return of Zita the Spacegirl at light speed. Fans of Zita's earlier books will especially enjoy the history of how Zita's character was developed. The back matter also includes sketches and a timeline of events related to the book's creation. Check out the trailer to find out more.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book will be published May 13, 2014.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 Rose and the Lost Princess

Rose, the orphaned ward and apprentice of magician Aloysius Fountain, is deep in trouble again. This time she has been assigned as a companion/bodyguard for the darling of the kingdom, Princess Jane. There has already been one magical attempt to kidnap the princess from the palace and the king wants Rose to help protect his daughter from further harm. The whole realm is under attack from some form of ice magic that is causing a bitterly cold winter, there are envoys from the emperor of Talish visiting the court, and Rose's fellow servants all look at her suspiciously now that they know she can do magic. Can things get any more complicated?

I enjoy the practical way Rose looks at life. It seems simple to her - she was taken from the orphanage to serve as a maid in Mr. Fountain's household and she was glad to be employed and able to earn wages and support herself. When her magical abilities were discovered, she looked on them as another set of skills she could use to earn a living. She doesn't have the spoiled outlook of wealthy children born into privilege or a family with a history of magic and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Sensible, hard-working heroines are admirable and likable. I look forward to future adventures with Rose.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. It will be published April 1, 2014.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 Tesla's Attic (The Accelerati Trilogy Book One)

When Nick and his family move into Great Aunt Greta's house in Colorado Springs, he claims the attic as his new bedroom. To clear out all the odd junk, he holds a garage sale that is surprisingly successful. Only after all the items are gone does he begin to realize they were not just old household appliances, but actually inventions left by the great Tesla. Thrown into the mix are the cute cheerleader Caitlin (whom Nick saves from being run over), her boyfriend Theo, classmates Mitch and Vince, the quirky Petula (who think Nick should be attracted to her), and Nick's father and brother. Odd things keep happening - his brother's baseball mitt attracts meteorites; a secret society threatens Nick and then gets his dad a job at NORAD; everything in his bedroom keeps sliding toward the center of the if it wasn't hard enough being the new kid in middle school.

Nick and the other characters are by turns funny, exasperating, and clever - much like real eighth graders. I look forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series. This should appeal to readers of fantasy/sci-fi or mystery, especially if they enjoy crazy gadgets and spooky secret societies. The publisher has made a trailer to introduce the book.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through Netgalley. It will be published February 11, 2014.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 A Bed for Fred

This is a rhyming story of a young basset hound who discovers that his bed is gone and tries to find it. He asks various animals to help with the search, but no bed is found. At the end of the day, Dad shows him his new, bigger bed. Young readers may notice that Fred's red bed is much too small and guess what is going on when Dad and the bed are both missing. It would be a good story to use with kids who are moving into a "big boy" or "big girl" bed in their own homes.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book was published December 21, 2013.


Winter Reading 2014 Defy (Defy #1)

Antion is a beautiful kingdom ruled by a tyrant. Alex and Marcel are two of the elite guards for the crown prince, Damian. The story follows Alex's journey through meetings with rebels, attacks by jaguars, fights with sorcerers, and being captured by the army of Blevon (the neighboring kingdom with which Antion is at war). Each day brings new dangers and reveals more secrets. Everyone has secrets to protect - Alex and Marcel, their fellow guard Rylan, the prince, the king's adviser, even the rebel sent to assassinate the prince. As Alex follows the prince's orders, buried truths come to light and relationships shift. Who really murdered the queen and the prince's brother? Which army was the dark sorcerer a part of who killed Alex and Marcel's parents? Readers will be trying to unravel all the conspiracies along with Alex.

For those who like swords and sorcery fantasy with lots of intrigue, this is the beginning of an exciting series. This is not a children's book, but is definitely for older readers due to some of the atrocities committed by the evil king. Readers who like strong characters such as the contestants in the Hunger Games will find Alex another worthy protagonist.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book was published January 7, 2014.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Winter Reading 2013 Water Can Be...

The words and watercolor illustrations of this poetic description of water are a wonderful combination. The pictures work so seamlessly with the text, bringing each phrase to life whether it is "kid drencher" or "tadpole hatcher." The seasons of the year progress through the book with scenes like a rainy spring day, summer fun in a sprinkler, a drinking fountain at school, and frost on a window pane. Each vignette displays a role of water in our lives and the world around us. The "More About water" section in the back explains each role more fully, even going into details about the water cycle and the insulating properties of snow. There is also a glossary and list of books for further reading.

Readers who enjoy poems or rhyming stories will like this book. It would be perfect in a school setting to use with a poetry or descriptive writing unit, to introduce a science unit on water, or an art unit on watercolors.

The illustrator and author both have websites. The author also has a FaceBook page, a blog, and a video where she shares some of the ways her family uses water.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book will be published on April 1, 2014.


Winter Reading 2014 The Little Moose Who Couldn't Go to Sleep

I first discovered the wonderful stories of Maynard Moose in May 2013. I was shopping in the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, TN and came across <i>Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs</i> and >The Bully Goat Grimm</i>. When I saw a new Mother Moose tale by Maynard listed on NetGalley, I just had to try it out.

The story that Maynard tells his cousin, Little Moose, is a zany bedtime tale full of sheep, deep thoughts, tea, and legumes. The little moose in Maynard's story can't sleep because every time she goes to bed, "an idea would come into the brain part - Boing! Boing! - and bunk around there all night long." Adult readers will certainly be able to sympathize with having a brain that will not stop thinking long enough to drift off to sleep. And younger readers will appreciate the little moose's disgust with having to eat big bowls of legumes and going to bed an hour early.

The foreword warns readers (or those who listen along with the CD) that Modern Moose is a very different language than the English that humans use.Never fear, there is a glossary provided to help with the more unusual Moose terms.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys humor, bedtime stories, or good story-telling. Willy Claflin (in the photo below with Maynard), is the human who has written down Maynard's stories for him. There is also a FaceBook page for Maynard.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. The book was published January 6, 2014.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 The Sasquatch Escape: The Imaginary Veterinarian #1

My friend Lauren gave me this book for Christmas, after another friend recommended it to her. This is the first in the Imaginary Veterinarian series and sets things up nicely for other stories to follow. Ben Silverstein has been sent to spend the summer with his grandfather in the small town of Buttonville. The town is slowly dwindling away because the button factory (which supplied most of the jobs), has closed and families are moving into the city for employment opportunities. Ben's grandfather and the other senior citizens seem to make up the majority of the remaining residents. After planning to spend the summer hanging out with his friends and swimming in his pool, Ben is very disappointed to be in Buttonville and have the prospect of spending his days at the Senior Center with the retirees. But things improve when he sees what looks like a dragon flying toward the abandoned factory. Then he meets Pearl Petal, a girl whose family runs the local Dollar Store. Although his grandfather warns him that Pearl is a troublemaker, Ben and Pearl become friends and get involved in the mysterious Worm Hospital that Dr. Woo has opened in the factory. Dr. Woo and her assistant, Mr. Tabby, are new to Buttonville and seem to be involved in more than caring for worms. Ben sees Mr. Tabby at the grocery store with a recipe for making artificial dragon's milk. Since he and Pearl have both seen the dragon flying over town, they can't help their curiosity.

This is fun fantasy for readers who enjoy stories about magical creatures or magical beings who appear in the "normal" world. I'm sure Ben and Pearl will have a summer full of fantastic encounters. At the back of the book are ideas for writing, drawing, and even a recipe for pudding. (After all, Pudding Day is a big event at the Senior Center.) For more information,  check out the author's website. Book 2 is already out and the third book in the series is due this month. There is also a trailer provided by illustrator Dan Santat.

The Sasquatch Escape

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Winter Reading 2014 Spiked

Emma is horrified when her mother makes a deal with her math teacher and volunteers her to help with the volleyball team. Then the coach gets her to agree to be on the team rather than running his errands and cleaning the locker room. Unfortunately, her friend Hailey decides that Emma is a traitor to their friendship and begins to torment her. The team captain is not much better, because she resents that Emma joined the team reluctantly. Things get worse and worse as bullying at school and online makes Emma miserable. Will she find some real friends that will stand up for her? Will everyone see the bullies for what they really are? And will Emma rediscover her love of sports? This story has sports, friendships, and other complications all set in a school environment. It's great for readers who enjoy sports stories or school stories.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. Watch the trailer for more information.

Winter Reading 2014 The Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand

Dorrie and Marcus were only trying to catch their friend's runaway mongoose when they entered the staff room of the Passaic Public Library, they had no idea they would encounter a gateway to another place and time. But when they fall through the opening into Petrarch's Library, they stumble upon a very carefully kept secret. The Library is connected to libraries all over the world and in various time periods. The Lybrarians protect knowledge and the people who are persecuted for trying to share knowledge and ideas. Their enemies, the Foundation, want to control all knowledge and use it for their advantage. So when Dorrie and Marcus fall through an unknown gateway, some immediately suspect they are spies or enemy agents of some sort. Will they ever convince anyone of their innocence? Will they ever make it back home? And if there is a Foundation agent in the Library, who is it?
Any book with the title The Ninja Librarians would have to grab my attention, but this one had more than a funny name. There were Star wars jokes, intrigue, sword fights, the ability to read things out of books (like in Inkheart), and friendships new and old. This is a great book for library and book lovers, readers who enjoy a good adventure, and those looking for something out of the ordinary.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.