Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! With the close of 2012, I wanted to take a moment and say Thank you to everyone who's supported, visited, and stopped by Mundie Kids through out this past year. I truly appreciate all your support. This has definitely been a crazy, busy year, and with the new year I'm looking forward to be a little more dedicated to Mundie Kids this new year, than I was able to this last year. I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year! Here's to an amazing 2013!

*image found on google

2012 Mundie Kids Favorites: Picture Books / Middle Grade Books

Happy Holidays! I hope you have had a great holiday season so far. With the close of another year, comes another favorites list, and 2012 proved to be an awesome year for books. I'm extremely excited to see all the releases that 2013 has in store. There were a lot of fabulous children book releases this year that I had the chance to read, and sadly quite a few I didn't have the time to yet read. With the end of another year comes my list of my top 10 favorite books I featured this year on Mundie Kids.

Here are my top 10 favorite MG books from 2012:

  1. Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
  2. The Unwanteds: Island of Silence by Lisa McMann
  3. The False Prince by Jennifer A Nielsen
  4. The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
  5. The Heroes Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
  6. Underwild Wood by Colin Meloy
  7. Winterling by Sarah Prineas
  8. The Book of Wonders  by Jasmine Richards
  9. The Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
  10. The End of Infinity by Matt Myklusch
  11. Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner
  12. Beyonders: Seeds of Rebellion by Brandon Mull
Here are my top ten favorite picture books from 2012:

What were some of your favorite children's and MG books to read this year?

Book Review: A Bad Kitty Christmas

Written and Illustrated by: Nick Bruel
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Series: Bad Kitty
Ages: 4 and up
Source: Purchased
Buy: Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | amazon

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it!

Synopsis: "Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city, not a creature was stirring...Except for BAD KITTY."

A greedy Bad Kitty didn't get all the presents she wanted for Christmas, but after she goes on a Christmas caper across town and through multiple alphabets, she makes a new friend, finds an old friend, and learns the true meaning of Christmas. Or not. Nick Bruel's first picture book about Bad Kitty since the uproarious Poor Puppy in 2007 is full of rhyming mayhem... and Christmas cheer.

My youngest daughter adores all of the Bad Kitty chapter books and when I saw that this picture book was out just in time for Christmas, I just had to add it to her stocking.

I was prepared for the usual Bad Kitty mayhem and mischief, but I wasn't prepared for the level of melancholy. Trust me, it's beautifully presented. Because the holidays are not all about the gifts, wrapping and pretty lights on trees, they're about friends and family. Nick gets that point across to the littlest readers as well as the adults who may be reading or in my case having the book read to them.

This story will now be a holiday favorite. Thanks Nick for allowing me to discuss with my daughter what's really important around holiday time. And yes, there's a gorgeous ending. Pick it up at your favorite bookstore. I see that some e-tailers have it on sale now.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!! I hope y'all have had a lovely Christmas/Holiday season so far. I wanted to take a moment to say HI and apologize for my month long absence here on Mundie Kids. December was a crazy busy month with all that was going on, and then the flu invading for it's two week long visit, nothing got done. I had a slew of reviews to post on here and news updates, and sadly none of it happened, and for that I am truly sorry. Life does happen, and real life is my priority, which means that some times blogging has to take a back seat.

With a new year comes new goals and one of my goals is to be much more active on Mundie Kids. I've got reviews and blog tours already lined up and I'm excited to kick off the new year on here. Before I welcome in the new year I'll be sharing some of my all time favorite MG and children's picture books from 2012. That post will be up on the 31st, and I can't wait to share with you guys. Thank you to all of you who have still stopped by the blog and supported me during my month long absence. I truly appreciate it. I look forward talking books with you guys next year! Have a Happy Holiday Season!

*image found on google

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Allie Finkel's Rules for Girls (book 3) Best Friends and Drama Queens

Publisher: Scholastic
Released Date: February 1, 2010
Age: 8 and up
Source: Purchased

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars -- We loved it!

Synopsis: Allie Finkle is excited when a new girl, who comes all the way from Canada, joins her class at Pine Heights Elementary. Now Allie won't be the new girl anymore!
But her excitement turns to dismay when the new girl, Cheyenne, starts telling everyone in the fourth grade what to do! Soon Cheyenne has everyone, including Allie's best friends, Caroline, Sophie, and Erica, believing that if they don't do what she says, they'll be what Cheyenne accuses them of being - babies!
But Allie isn't sure she's ready to be all grown-up yet. Not if it means chasing boys at recess, not playing her favorite games anymore, and especially...not being herself!

I love when my favorite authors write a series that my middle grader can read. Normally, I try to review the first book in the series but MundieTween got so far ahead of me that she demanded, begged, pleaded asked politely if I could drive to the library in a cold, winter rain storm to pick up book four in the series. Because the series gets better and better with each volume, she and I decided to review the one she just finished, book three -- Best Friends and Drama Queens.

According to MundieTween, Allie is very relatable to all fourth and some third grade girls (please note the distinction is my daughter's) because she's just like any girl -- she has friends, a pet and faces the issue of bullying (in the second book). The dynamic between Cheyenne and Allie and her best friends is a very real one. I see it with my daughter's group of friends. While they are still little girls, they're beginning to feel the pressure of not playing some of their favorite childhood games and feeling the pressure to play more girl-boy games. Like the Kissing Game. I loved Cheyenne's character and how she kept pointing out that Allie and her friends were "immature" as if that was a bad thing. MundieTween felt Cheyenne acted bossy and she hated her. She used the words "despicable and mean" which made me laugh. A reader should feel that way about an antagonist, after all.

The story led us to a wonderful discussion on what is age appropriate and what isn't. And how you really shouldn't be in such a rush to grow up after all.  Not in fourth grade. There would be plenty of time for Kissing Games and going out with boys. Plenty of time.

An aside: I absolutely love when my daughter asks me to go to the author's or publisher's website and we discover a site dedicated to the series. We here at Mundie Kids know that Scholastic rocks, but boy did they go all out with the Allie Finkel site.

Thank you, thank you Meg Cabot for writing a series that leads to important discussions between parents and tweens. I know that in our busy lives it's hard to find the time to sit and talk, but books like Allie Finkel will open up those much needed, timely discussions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday/Book Review: Big Nate In A Class By Himself Special Edition

Welcome this week's edition of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! You can find out more this weekly meme by visiting debut MG author, Shannon Messenger's website.

Released on: October 30th, 2012
Source: book to review from publisher
Ages: 8 & up
4 Stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Nate knows he's meant for big things. REALLY big things.

But life doesn't always go your way just because you're awesome.

Trouble always seems to find him, but Nate keeps his cool no matter what.

He knows he's great. A fortune cookie told him so.

For fans of the hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid series: Here comes BIG NATE, accidental mischief maker and definitely NOT the teacher's pet - quoted from Goodreads

Nate is destined for big things, and one of those things will be when he can "surpass all others". At least that's what his fortune cookie says, and we all know how often those are right. In Nate's case, it is right, but it's what Nate surpasses others on is one of the comical moments in this book. Nate is a kid who just can't seem to catch a break, and he's definitely in a class all by himself. I felt bad for him at times, and other times I couldn't help but laugh with him. No matter what he does, or doesn't do, something always happens and he finds himself blamed for it. No matter what happens during his day, Nate can at least meet his obstacles with humor, and a bit of sarcasm.

This is the first Big Nate I've read and now I can see why it's a huge hit. This along with The Diary of a Wimpy Kid are both series that we couldn't seem to keep in stock with the latest Scholastic book fair I helped co-run. I kinda of wish I had books like this when I was a kid, as they would have made me realize I wasn't the only one feeling the way they do. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Review: Cordially Uninvited by Jennifer Roy

By: Jennifer Roy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Ages: 8 and up
Source: Purchased
Buy: IndieBound | amazon | Barnes and Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars -- We loved it!

Synopsis: It’s The Princess Diaries meets Mean Girls when eleven-year-old Claire is invited to the royal wedding of the century!

Claire Gross, age eleven, might live in sleepy upstate New York, but she’s about to be a junior bridesmaid in the wedding of the century! Claire’s cousin Belle is engaged to the Prince of England, and Claire and her mom are heading to London for the royal ceremony.

Getting whisked away on a trans-Atlantic jet and thrown into a whirlwind of wedding activities would be a dream for any other girl, but Claire isn’t sure this is a match made in heaven. To make matters worse, another junior bridesmaid seems determined to sabotage the event! Can Claire put aside her own misgivings to save the day? What if there’s no such thing as happily ever after?

From award-winning author Jennifer Roy, this is a hilarious, heartfelt story about a girl who discovers that fairy tales may not exist, but sometimes there’s still a little magic to be found in real life.

My daughter and I both love royal weddings and yes, we enjoyed every minute of the pageantry as William and Kate walked down the aisle. So imagine our delight when we found this book. It gave us a glimpse into the tension and family/friend politics surrounding such an event.

My daughter, MundieTween, thought it was cool how a normal girl became the cousin of a princess and how she almost interrupted the wedding of the century. As a reader she didn't want to stop reading because she needed to know how it was going to end -- could it be disastrous? Do happily ever afters even exist? We both believed Claire feelings about happily ever afters because she'd never met her father. This detail set up the story beautifully and Jennifer wrote it in a funny, sweet way that left both of us laughing at the end.

I encourage parents and tweens, who want a story about a royal wedding and what it means to be family, to pick up this story. Both MundieTween and I are looking forward to more of Jennifer's middle grade books.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

By: Laura Ingalls Wilder
Published by: Harper Collins Childrens
Date Published: First published in 1932
Ages: 8 and up
Source: Purchased
Purchase: Barnes and Noble | IndieBound | amazon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars -- we both loved it!

Synopsis: Wolves and panthers and bears roam the deep Wisconsin woods in the late 1870's. In those same woods, Laura lives with Pa and Ma, and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunts and traps. Ma makes her own cheese and butter. All night long, the wind howls lonesomely, but Pa plays the fiddle and sings, keeping the family safe and cozy.

You know when you're pregnant and you start buying books that you hope your child will love as much as you did? But because they're not even born you put them away on a shelf and years go by, the baby grows and one day she comes home all excited to read that very book? It just happened to me. I loved the Little House series when I was growing up. And when my MundieTween came home clutching Little House in the Big Woods, I was beyond excited. So we're going to do our very first joint review.

MMSophie: What was your favorite part of the story?
MTween: Probably when Pa plays "Pop Goes the Weasel" on Laura's birthday and Laura and Mary were watching for the "pop".
MMSophie: What made you love that moment?
MTween:  The girls asked him to do it again and again because they couldn't see when exactly he did it. 

We both decided we loved the family dynamic. MundieTween concluded that they were a "nice and sweet family" who stuck together no matter what happened. We discussed how hard and tiring life was for them in the big woods. I'd forgotten the part about the pig. I mean, you just couldn't get attached to animals that had to become food. MundieTween cringed a little when Laura described blowing up a pig's bladder and playing with it like it was a balloon. Ah, how times have changed.

The book is available in many formats including audio-book  We chose to both read and listen to it and I have to admit that the descriptions of family life during those times served to remind us of how thankful we are to have a roof over our heads and the cozy hum of our heater keeping us warm as temperatures drop.

Fourth graders start to learn about pioneers/settlers/emigrants and this is the perfect story which will accompany their social studies lessons. There are wonderful lesson plans and discussion ideas found here. It's also a great story to read this time of year because it gives us a lot to be thankful during our busy holiday times.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scholastic Book Fairs & New Books On My Shelves

I've been a little MIA lately on my blog, but that's for a could reason. I've had the privilege to once again co-host my kids's school's Scholastic Book Fair. What a fabulous, week long event. I don't know what it is about Scholastic book orders and book fairs that makes me feel like I turn into a little kid all over again. Remember those Scholastic book orders you brought home as a kid? I LOVED them. I swear I still get excited when my kids bring theirs home. That excitement is magnified with the Scholastic Book Fair. This year there were quite a number of books there that I had already read, which made it all the more fun to talk to parents, teachers and kids about. 

Aside from getting books in the hands of kids, one of the things I love about Scholastic Book Fairs is their giving back. This year they charity was All of Books. For every dollar that a student brought in, their teacher not only received that exact dollar amount to use to "purchase" books for their classrooms, but Scholastic matched that exact amount to be used to purchase books for kids in need of books. You don't need to have a student present at the school to purchase books. Many, if not all, Scholastic book fairs are open to the public. After all, who can resist a good deal on books? Not only that, in the process of buying books you're also helping out that particular school, and the school's library. You can't go wrong. 

Here are some of the goodies I purchased this week from the Book Fair:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The 3rd Wheel
  • Pet Fairies to the Rescue!
  • Belle the Birthday Fairy
  • I Am Sacagawea
  • Who Was Steve Jobs?
  • I Am Albert Einstein
  • Who Was Walt Disney?
  • The Civil War: An Interactive History Adventure
  • Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  • Ghost Buddy: Mind If I Read Your Mind?
  • Wolves of the Beyond: Spirit Wolf
  • Dear America: Christmas After All
I also purchased a few others, but since they're Christmas gifts I'm not going to list them on here. To those who do support reading, and purchase from the Scholastic Book Fairs, thank you!! You make all the time and effort we put into putting together and running the book fairs so worth it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: Here Where The Sunbeams Are Green by Helen Phillips

Published by: Delacorte Press
To Be Released on: November 13th, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4 Stars: I Enjoyed It
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Mad's dad is the Bird Guy. He'll go anywhere to study birds. So when he's offered a bird-tracking job in Central America, his bags are packed and he's jungle bound.

But going bird tracking in the jungle and disappearing completely are very different things, and when the Very Strange and Incredibly Creepy Letter arrives, Mad can't shake the terrible feeling that her father is in trouble.

Roo, Mad's younger sister, is convinced that the letter is a coded message. And their mom is worried, because the letter doesn't sound like Dad at all. But Mad is sure it's a sign of something sinister.

The only way to get to the bottom of it is to go to Lava Bird Volcano and find their dad themselves. Though they never could have imagined what they're about to discover.

From new talent Helen Phillips, Here Where the Sunbeams Are Green is the story of what can happen when two sisters make some unusual friends, trust in each other, and bravely face a jungle of trouble all to bring their family back together. -quoted from Goodreads

Middle grade readers will enjoy this exciting mystery, adventure book. Traveling to the heart of a Central American rain forest, sisters Mad and Roo, along with their mom and traveling companion, are on a mission to find out what's happened to Mad & Roo's father, who was offered a job to track and find rare birds. This lush jungle offers more than beauty, and the sisters find themselves face to face with villains, a mystery, and form an amazing bond during the process. 

I love it when authors can write a book for kids that's full of adventure, danger and excitement by incorporating bites of realism with that of magic and a lot of imagination. This is a book I think young readers will really enjoy as they get to know more about Mad and Roo, and feel like they're right along side them on their mission to solve the mystery behind their father's absence and what's really going on within the canopies of this rain forest. I adored the relationship the two sisters have and form during this trip. While Mad is the more serious, insightful one, Roo is a little bit less uptight and a bit more fun. She brought the humor to all the right parts of the book. Together these two are fabulous. It's hard not to love them for who they are. 

I thought this was a great read. I think it's one MG readers are going to enjoy. There are things they'll be able to relate to, other things they'll enjoy discovering, and over all it's a fun story to read about. I also liked the age appropriate crush that is woven into this story, the mystery, and the moments of danger and adventure this story has. It's one I'd recommend picking up.

Thank you to the publisher, I've got one copy of the book to giveaway. To enter, please fill out the form below.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Dark Lord: The Early Years by Dirk Lloyd (Jamie Thomson)

Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: October 2nd, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
4 stars: I Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

The Dark Lord is confounded when he awakens in the middle of a small town on a planet he's never seen before. What is this strange place, why do they keep calling him Dirk Lloyd, and why is he powerless against these earthlings who insist on finding his parents? Could it be that Dirk Lloyd is really a human incarnation of the Dark Lord who, after a cataclysmic final battle with his arch nemesis, was hurled into the Pit of Uttermost Despair, aka Earth? Or is he just a lost and confused boy? The Dark Lord mustregain his rightful place in the universe before his powers of domination and destruction are lost forever, and help comes from a most unlikely source . . . a human friend. 

Readers will delight in this wickedly humorous tale as the Dark Lord-theIncarnation of Evil, The World Burner-finds that even he might have a good side. -quoted from Goodreads

I feel like my review needs to start off with an evil laugh. After all this is a review for Dark Lloyd, or as he's known in our world Dirk Lloyd. Known as The Dark Lord, Dirk Lloyd is now a human, in our world and has no powers. Once the powerful ruler of a dark world, Dirk some how fell into our world and without his ring, and his power, he's unable to get back into his world. Forced to live life as a human, Dirk goes through various tests, and his given a foster home to stay in, since no one knows where he's from, and no one believes he's the Dark Lord he keeps claiming to be. 

Written in a way that's both comical, and for the most part engaging for kids to read, Dirk is forced to go to school, discovers a few new friends, deals with a few bullies, and finds ways around doing things without his old powers. Dirk's story is told through a fun narrative, his journal entries, and some of his illustrations. Though I found some of his wordage to be repetitive, I think Dirk and his story are one young readers are really going to enjoy. It's funny, it has situations they can relate to, mentions of sports, a good vs evil plot, video game talk, and friendship. Above all it has a character that's both an evil genius, funny, and some one who learns a lot about friendship. Not to mention we get glimpses into the world The Dark Lord once ruled. 

With a cast of unforgettable characters both in our world and from The Dark Lord's world, Dark Lord is a book I think a lot of readers will devour. It has a little bit of a Vordak feel to it (another great MG book), and a little bit of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Though this a book that is entirely it's own. It's a fun, adventurous, engaging read, and one I think even reluctant readers will enjoy. That ending will leave readers wishing the next installment in Dirk's story was already out. I'd definitely add this book to your list for MG readers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Throw Back to An Old Halloween Read

This isn't really a waiting on Wednesday, considering this book as been around for YEARS! Did you ever get excited about the take home Scholastic fair book orders as a kid? I LOVED them! I always begged my mom to please let me get a book with each order than came home. One of those book happened to be in a fall order, which was this particular book. I don't know what it was about this book, but I really, really wanted to read it. Luckily my Mom said yes, and it arrived just in time for Halloween. I read it as soon as I got it and LOVED it! As the other books in this series were released I also snatch them up and read them as quickly as I could. I'll most likely date myself when I say this, but I remember reading this book in like 4th grade, or maybe it was 5th. Either way, this is a book I read a long time ago and loved.

With Halloween being around the corner, I've been on the hunt for some books with a little bit of a Halloween theme to read. What's more fitting than having a story about a vampire bunny? Not only that, my son is getting to the age were he can easily sit down and read a book like this. While I get all excited to introduce him to some of the latest releases, I also love sharing with him books I loved when I was his age. This is one I'm looking to snatch up for him.

What was one of your favorite books to read as a kid. Or if you aren't as old as me, what's one of your favorite Halloween reads?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween Middle Grade Costume Tour & Giveaway

Step into some creepy stories this Halloween and become your favorite middle grade character…from the ghoulish undead to mischievous pirates, the costumes are endless. 

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

More Grimm tales await in the harrowing, hilarious companion to a beloved new classic

Take caution ahead--
Oversize plant life, eerie amphibious royalty, and fear-inducing creatures abound.

Lest you enter with dread.
Follow Jack and Jill as they enter startling new landscapes that may (or may not) be scary, bloody, terrifying, and altogether true.

Step lively, dear reader . . .
Happily ever after isn't cutting it anymore.

In this companion novel to Adam Gidwitz's widely acclaimed, award-winning debut, A Tale Dark & Grimm, Jack and Jill explore a new set of tales from the Brothers Grimm and others, including Jack and the Beanstalk and The Frog Prince.

The Costume:

Dress like...Jack and Jill!

Halloween is definitely the “Grimm-est” day of the year, so dressing up like Jack and Jill from In a Glass Grimmly is a costume idea that’ll help you make it through the trickiest of treats. This is a great costume for a brother and sister!

For Jill:

1.   Wear a cute, girly dress - think blue checkered or something similar

2.   Put your hair in pigtails! For an extra fun touch, braid flexible wires into your braids so you can twist and turn them and make them stand up on their own!

3.   Carry a bucket. Draw on some fake bloody scratches and scrapes to represent your fall down the hill.

For Jack:

1.   Wear green shorts and a white shirt with tousled hair.

2.   Carry a bucket.

3.   For that extra “Grimm” effect, bandage your head and color some of the bandages red so it’s very clear that you “fell down and broke your crown.”

Purchase In a Glass Grimmly here!

Blog Tour Schedule
Thank you to Penguin Kids, I've got a set of each of the books being featured on the Halloween Middle Grade tour to giveaway! 

To enter, please fill out the form below:

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review: Zephyr Takes Flight by Steve Light

Published by: Candlewick
Released on: October 9th, 2012
Ages: 5 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
4 stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Soar along on a clever girl’s flight of fancy in a whimsical ode to free spirits, inventiveness, and flying pigs.

Zephyr is a girl who loves airplanes. She draws pictures of them, makes them out of paper, builds them out of junk, and hopes one day to fly one of her own. But when Gramma, Daddy, and Mom are too busy to play airplane with her, Zephyr’s excess enthusiasm gets her sent to her room — where she discovers a secret door that leads to the most wondrous place she’s ever seen! Lovers of flying machines and gadgets, along with adventurers of all kinds, will be buoyed by this lighthearted tale of a little girl who finds her wings -quoted from Goodreads

This is such a great story about imagination, adventure and fun. Zephyr is one of those enjoyable characters who often spends time pretending she's flying an airplane, or is drawing airplanes or building them out of something. I loved how she uses her imagination to play, and entertain herself. To help bring Zephyr's unforgettable adventure to life are some fabulous illustrations. Aside from the story, the illustrations really engaged my kids with the story, and we found ourself looking back over the illustrations when they were done. This is a fabulous picture book to have for kids of all ages. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Libby of High Hopes by Elise Primavera

Welcome this week's edition of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! You can find out more this weekly meme by visiting debut MG author, Shannon Messenger's website.

Published by: Simon & Schuster Kids
Released on: June 12th, 2012
Ages: 8 & Up
Source: book to review from publisher
4.5 Stars: I Really Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Libby Thump Riding Princess is a middle grade illustrated novel about a young girl who wants riding lessons more than anything else in the world. With passion and her love for horses nothing can stop Libby. She tries to live up to her potential and in so doing changes the lives of everyone around her. - quoted from Goodreads

This is the kind of story I would have devoured as a young reader. It's a great realistic fiction story with an engaging plot line for readers in 3rd grade and up. It's a heartwarming story with a message, and I love books like this for kids. Young Libby LOVES horses. She draws horses, and wants nothing more than to be able to ride them. Through a series of unfortunately events it's Libby's sister who gets to have the ridding lessons while Libby has to look on. 

The not riding problem isn't the only issue Libby is learning to deal with. Her parent's don't listen to her, her old best friend is always trying to one up her, and Libby is caught between the enjoying her childhood, and hitting that stage where childhood starts to take a back seat to the starting to grow up phase. The thing I loved about Libby is how resilient this young girl is. Despite how hard it is to watch her sister ride, and having to deal with a best friend who doesn't treat you like a best friend any more, Libby does all she can to just deal with what's she facing, but learning to find ways to live up to her potential. 

I liked that Libby never gives up, though I understand her feelings of frustration through out this short, fast paced read. She's a fun character to get to know, and one I enjoyed reading about. I also liked that she learns that she doesn't always have to win and be the best at everything, as long as she tries to do her best that's all that matters. Libby's hard work and dedication to finding a way to do something she really wants to do pays off big in the end for her. Being a mom, I was really frustrated with Libby's Mom in this story. I didn't like how out of touch she seemed to be with daughter, as that translated to Libby and myself that she didn't care for her. I think their relationship is one that will have daughters and moms talking if they read this book out loud together. It definitely makes for good conversation about the importance of taking the time to listen to your kids, like really listen to what they're saying and not just having them do things you think they should or feel like they'll like it despite their desperate protests. 

Elise does a fabulous job at capturing the feelings and emotions of what it's like to be a ten year old who's caught between being a child and wanting to be grown up. She has Libby face realistic friendship issues and has her learn to find ways to still achieve the dreams she's always wanted. This is a book young girls would really enjoy, and those who love horses. I'd definitely recommend picking this one up!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon

Published by: SourceBooks
Released on: April 2012
Ages: 8 & up
3 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: Horrid Henry

Henry is up to his usual mischief. 

Four new stories in which Horrid Henry terrorizes his classmates at a school sleepover in the museum; plays with Perfect Peter and tricks him into handing over all his money; gets out of writing his own story for Miss Battle-Axe by adapting one of Peter's; and meets the Nudie Foodie, a celebrity chef, who comes to the school to improve school dinners. No more burgers! No more chips! - quoted from Goodreads

An entertaining read that will leave readers laughing out loud, Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampires will definitely be a hit for fans of this series. With Francesca's easy to read text, some laugh out loud moments, and the book's smallish size make this a fast paced read even the most reluctant reader will enjoy. This book's 4 short stories will entertain just about anyone with a second grade reading level and higher. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

Released on: October 2nd, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4.5 stars: I Enjoyed It!

One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.

When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.

She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.

To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests--or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.

From "New York Times" best-selling author Lauren Oliver comes a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty, the meaning of love, and the enduring power of hope -quoted from Goodreads

I really enjoy Lauren Oliver's YA books, but I've completely fallen in love with her MG books as well. There's something magical about Lauren's  MG writing. Places come alive, characters become real, and the adventure feels like it's really happening. Lauren's talent for story telling and her gift for writing adds that element of excitement to each of her stories she's written so far, that cater to this younger audience, and it was no different for this book. I don't know if it's the fantasy element she adds in, the adventure, the magic, or the endless possibilities that lie within this book or the combination of each of these make her MG book perfectly for precisely that age group, and not to mention perfect for reading it out loud together with your kiddos.

The Spindlers is the story of a brave young girl, an older sister, who's on the mission to save her young brother's soul that's been stollen from the Spindlers. These spider like creatures live deep below the ground where the two character's house was built. They're not the only unforgettable creatures young readers will enjoy meeting along the way. On the verge of not being a child any more, and still embracing her childhood mannerisms, young Liza is constantly told by her mother to stop with her story telling. Luckily Liza does cling to what she knows is true, even if her parent's think she's telling stories and too old to be using her childish imagination. If Liza was to give up hope, no one would venture below ground to a totally different world, and come face to face with some pretty unusual characters/creatures and figure out a way to out smart the Spindlers in order to save the soul of her younger brother Patrick. 

This is a one fabulous, unforgettable adventure I'd recommend picking up for home, school and classroom settings. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: Invisible Inkling, Dangerous Pumpkins by Emily Jenkins

By: Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by: Harry Bliss
Released on: July 24th, 2012
Ages: 8 & up
Source: book from publisher to review

It's Halloween. Fourth grader Hank Wolowitz "hates" Halloween. Every year his older sister, Nadia, scares him half to death.

This year might be different, though. After all, Hank's the only kid in Brooklyn--probably the only kid in North America--with an invisible bandapat living in his laundry basket. And Invisible Inkling "loves" Halloween. Pumpkins are his favorite food.

But Hank has serious trouble stopping Inkling from devouring every jack-o'-lantern in their neighborhood. And that's not his only problem: Will he figure out a cool costume? Will he survive the small army of ballerinas roaming the hallways of his building? Will Hank ever get revenge on Nadia?

Inkling has long since stopped listening to Hank's worries.

Inkling is taking action- quoted from Goodreads

This  a fun Halloween read following the misadventures of 4th grader of Henry Wolowitz, and his pumpkin eating invisible Inkling. Unfortunately for Henry, his invisible pet has discovered how delicious pumpkins are, and this not only spells trouble for Henry, it gets him into a situation or two that only his Inkling can get him out of. I think this a Halloween read readers in second grade and up will enjoy. They'll laugh along with the different situations Henry finds himself in, how he gets out of them, and how he's coping with having an invisible pet that constantly gets him in trouble. If only Henry would just speak up and tell the truth.....but who would believe a kid when he says his invisible inkling did it? Certainly not his own mother, his Sister or even some of his friends. 

 Emily's writing not only makes this book an easy one to read, but her writing is such that readers will be able to relate to Henry on a few different levels in regards to how he feels, how he's treated, what it's like having an older sister you don't always get a long with and dealing with people saying the not so nicest things about you all the time. Henry his a lovable character and I think he's one readers will enjoy reading about. The illustrations through out the book make it that much more enjoyable! This is a good read and would make a great addition to add to any classroom, personal library and school library with the fast approaching Halloween right around the corner. 

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 ~