Monday, September 30, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Only Thing Worse Than Witches by Lauren Magaziner, cover

Happy Monday!! I am so excited to finally have life settling down, and I'm finally getting back into my grove. This has been a crazy year, and I'll be posting all about it later. Today, I've got something exciting to show you guys. Author Lauren Magaziner's upcoming MG book (which is being released in 2014 from Penguin), The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, had it's cover revealed last week on MG author, Clarie Legrand's site. I wanted to share it here in case you missed it. It's too cute not to share.

Check out this cover! 

This cover is FABULOUS!!! I love the bright colors, the kids on the front, and the back drop. Check out the entire cover, front and back:

I can not wait to read this book! It's being released next year from Penguin. But, in the mean time, head over to the lovely author, Clarie Legrand's site and to check out the giveaway she has going with the official cover reveal! HURRY, as the giveaway ends this week! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Lost Kindgoms by Matthew J. Kirby, Want To Read Wednesday

If you're like me, you either have a pile, or a bookcase (or two bookcases) full of books that have already been out that are waiting to be read. Or maybe you've been so crazy busy with life this year that you've not had a chance to keep up with all the releases that have either happened or will be happening. Since both of these ring true to me, I decided to change things up a bit, and instead of doing my Waiting on Wednesday feature, I'm going to be doing a Want to Read Wednesday. This way I can feature a title that either I've been waiting to read, that's been sitting on my shelves begging me to pick or one that's an upcoming release.

Today's first Want to Read Wednesday: The Lost Kingdom by Matthew J. Kirby

 By: Matthew J Kirby
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: 8/27/13
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

A remarkable adventure by award-winning author Matthew J. Kirby brings a fantastical American West filled with secrets and spies and terrifying creatures to vivid life.

In this extraordinary adventure story, Billy Bartram, his father, and a secret society of philosophers and scientists venture into the American wilderness in search of the lost people of the Welsh Prince Madoc, seeking aid in the coming war against the French. Traveling in a flying airship, the members of the expedition find their lives frequently endangered in the untamed American West by terrifying creatures, a party of French soldiers hot on their trail, and the constant threat of traitors and spies. Billy will face hazards greater than he can ever imagine as, together with his father, he gets caught up in the fight for the biggest prize of all: America.

THE LOST KINGDOM is an epic journey filled with marvelous exploits, courage and intrigue, and a bold reimagining of a mythical America. Matthew J. Kirby brings his signature storytelling prowess and superb craft to this astonishing story of fathers and sons, the beginnings of a nation, and wonder-filled adventure.

I'm sold on "a fantastical American West", comment. Plus, check out that cover. I want to learn more about the flying ship. I'm looking forward to picking this one up!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Read The 1st Two Chapters of Exile by Shannon Messenger Via Simon & Schuster

We're two weeks away from the release of Shannon Messenger's sophomore MG book, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: EXILE (I am so excited!), I can't wait! Neither could Simon & Schuster, as today they posted the first 2 chapters of EXILE on their site! Go HERE to read it!! If you haven't already, go pick up book one in this series! You can read my glowing review for it here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Roald Dahl Day!

Happy Roald Dahl Day! Roald Dahl's books have been inspiring young readers for generations. I still remember the first time I read the BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and others. His books were some of the memorable books from my childhood. I love that his books are still inspiring young readers. Stop by this site here to find out more about his books.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Moment of Silence

Today we're taking a moment of silence to honor those who lost there lives in the terrible tragedies that struck our nation on 9/11/01, and to think about those who survived that day, and to those who lost loved ones that day. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Junket Is Nice by Dorothy Kunhardt, Book Review

By: Dorothy Kunhardt
Published by: New York Review Children's Collection
Released on: (1st in 1933), released on 6/25/13
Source: book from publisher to review
4 Owls: We Enjoyed It
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads


Junket is a delicious custard and a lovely dessert.

But why is the old man with a red beard and red slippers eating such an enormous bowl of junket, and what could he possibly be thinking about while he feasts?

That’s a good question! And one that the old man poses to the crowds and crowds of people that gather to watch him. In fact, almost everyone in the whole world wants to know the answer to this riddle.

And only one little boy has the answer.

This ingenious book of inspired nonsense was the very first from Dorothy Kunhardt, whose Pat the Bunny has delighted generations of young children

I don't know about you guys, but I love reading old school children's books, as much as I love reading new releases. Today's review is for a classic by Dorothy Kunhardt, author of the ever popular children's picture book, Pat The Bunny. Junket Is Nice is not a picture book I was familiar with until I was asked if I wanted to read it/review it.  Of course I said yes.

Junket Is Nice is about an old man with a red beard, who wears red shoes and is sitting at a table eating junket out of his big red bowl. When all the people in the world gather around the man who's eating junket, they start to guess what he's thinking about while he's eating it. Hint, it's not a walrus with an apple on his back. Out of all the people in the world to guess, only the little boy on the tricycle got it right.

If you love a classic book with an old school feel to it, pick up Junket is Nice. This is a book my kids thought was silly, and I enjoyed reading with them. Aside from the silliness of the story, it's an easy to read one, and contains site word that even kindergarten age kids can read.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bluffton: My Summers With Buster by Matt Phelan, Book Review

By: Matt Phelan
Published by: Candlewick Press
Released on: July 23red, 2013
Source: arc from publisher at BEA '13
4 Owlets: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Matt Phelan, graphic novelist extraordinaire, presents a rollicking tribute to vaudeville, small-town dreams, and Buster Keaton as a boy. 

In the summer of 1908, in Muskegon, Michigan, a visiting troupe of vaudeville performers is about the most exciting thing since baseball. They’re summering in nearby Bluffton, so Henry has a few months to ogle the elephant and the zebra, the tightrope walkers and — lo and behold — a slapstick actor his own age named Buster Keaton. The show folk say Buster is indestructible; his father throws him around as part of the act and the audience roars, while Buster never cracks a smile. Henry longs to learn to take a fall like Buster, "the human mop," but Buster just wants to play ball with Henry and his friends. With signature nostalgia, Scott O’Dell Award–winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan visualizes a bygone era with lustrous color, dynamic lines, and flawless dramatic pacing.

I received this arc when I was at BEA this past May, and I admit, I'm not a huge fan of graphic novels/books, but I enjoyed this one. The cover is what prompted me to pick it up in the first place. I wanted to know what the story was behind the boy who was standing on the elephant's back on the docks. What I got was a bit of surprise. Matt Phelan tells the story of a young boy in the early 1900's in Muskegon, Michigan. 

The historical theme and the illustrations in this book are what grabbed my attention. Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it aside until I was done. This book has a very distinct voice, and I wanted to know more about it. The friendship and dual points of views of both Henry and Buster Keaton made reading about this era entertaining. Not that I needed entertainment to keep reading. I've always been drawn to the turn of the century era, and once the vaudevillians were introduced to the story, I was hooked. I honestly had no idea what they were, and their role in the story fascinated me.

What did surprise me is at first I thought this was a story about Henry, the town resident that Buster befriends, but I quickly realized this story is about Buster, though Henry has a big role in the time Buster spends in Muskegon. Buster and Henry are quite a pair, and the two have a lot to learn about each other. Henry is fascinated with Buster's life. While Henry is stuck going to school and working in his father's store, Buster gets to travel around with the vaudevillians, and perform shows. Buster has grown up on stage. Since he was a toddler he's done acrobatic stunts to his now comedic show he does with this parents, leaving him no time for school. Buster on the other seems to want something more. He doesn't seem to share the excitement over his own life that Henry does.  

Another thing that surprised me with this story was found in the author's note at the end of the book. That Buster Keaton is in fact a real person, and this story is one that gives us a glimpse of how this tough cookie of a kid went on to become a star in movies. I loved getting the historical part of Buster's life both from the story, and from Matt's notes. The historical elements of this story made this a fun, intriguing read. Though there are not many words, the few there are complimented the illustrations perfectly. Matt did a fabulous job at telling the story of two young boys who both want something more than life in the quite time of Muskegon, MI has to offer them.  Aside from the historical facts, at the heart of this story are two young boys who over a couple of summers get more than they bargained for as they learn about some of life's lessons, following your dreams, responsibility and friendship. Despite my reading an arc and having the images in black and white, I can not wait to take a look at the published copy of this book. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review / Blog Tour: Sleeping Beauty's Daughters by Diane Zehaler

By: Diane Zahler
Published by: Harper Collins Children
Released on: August 27th, 2013
Source: book from the author to review
5 Stars: I Loved It!
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

The classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty is transformed into a dazzling new story of two sisters fighting a powerful curse by Diane Zahler, the acclaimed author of The Thirteenth Princess. Briskly paced and full of lush descriptions, readers who enjoy the work of Shannon Hale and Gail Carson Levine will be swept away by this spellbinding novel.

The daughters of Sleeping Beauty, Princesses Aurora and Luna, have grown up in a cliff-top palace by the sea, where they are carefully protected by their parents. No one visits, the girls cannot stray beyond the castle walls, and all sharp objects are forbidden here.

But accidents will happen—particularly when an old curse still has power. Soon, in spite of all precautions, Aurora is struggling not to slip into an enchanted sleep.

Frantic, the princesses accept the help of a young fisherman named Symon and embark on a daring ocean voyage to find their aunt—a fairy who may be able to break the spell. From fearsome beasts to raging storms, many dangers befall them, yet they must not give up . . . for if Aurora sleeps, she will not wake for one hundred years.

I simply adore Diane's fairytale retellings. What Diane does in Sleeping Beauty's Daughters is brilliant. I love how she's able to take a beloved fairytale and not only give is spin, but include some mythology into her story. This makes for a read that fans both young and older alike can enjoy. Instead of this story centering on Sleeping Beauty herself, we get to see that the sleeping curse started long before Princess Aurora was ever born. This curse dates back to when her mother, the now Queen, was a baby. 

I loved that while the story spans over time that includes both Aurora and her Queen mother, it focuses on the two sisters that Beauty has, Aurora and Luna. I enjoyed getting to read about the two sisters. Aurora is every bit the kind of Princess I picture in a fairytale. Her younger sister, the feisty, fearless Luna is the kind of Princess I totally love, because she doesn't care about what's she's suppose to. Instead she wants adventure to do what she feels she's destined to do, and that is not to marry a Prince. It's the bond these two sisters have that totally won me over.

True to each of Diane's previous fairytale retellings, this book is packed full of adventure and fun. When the curse threatens to take hold of Aurora, it's Luna who steps in to help save her. It's her feistiness that will be vital in her quest to keep her sister from falling under the dreaded curse. The adventure starts when these two daring Princesses set off together on the quest to put an end to the curse, and track down the one person who can remove it. Finding her won't be easy and time is against them.

From the dangers on the high sea, to dangerous land creatures, and figuring out how to out smart an ancient fairy who created the curse, these two Princesses prove that they can do anything. I loved that it's during this part of the story we get to see some of the mythology that Diane incorporated into Aurora's story, come to life, and the twist it plays in the storyline. Thankfully these two Princess have a little help along their way. They definitely discover more than they bargained for in this journey. If  traveling wasn't hard enough, Luna has to make sure her sister doesn't fall asleep. If she does, the curse will be in place for 100 years! 

This fairytale takes what I loved about the original telling, turns it upside down, creating a story that I absolutely loved and wanted much more from.  Diane's middle grade books have become some of my favorites. I love what she's been able to do with her fairytale retellings. Not only is her storytelling exciting, she's given me books I can read with my daughter, and for me that's priceless. Diane's books are ones I highly recommend picking up. These are great for older elementary school readers, and middle grade readers. 

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~