Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Smek for President by Adam Rex

WoW is a weekly meme at Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we are eagerly anticipating.

Smek for President by Adam Rex. 272 p. Disney-Hyperion, February 10, 2015. 9781484709511.

Publisher synopsis: In this much anticipated sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday, Tip and J.Lo are back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure. And this time (and last time, and maybe next time), they want to make things right with the Boov.
After Tip and J.Lo banished the Gorg from Earth in a scheme involving the cloning of many, many cats, the pair is notorious-but not for their heroics. Instead, human Dan Landry has taken credit for conquering the Gorg, and the Boov blame J.Lo for ruining their colonization of the planet. Determined to clear his name, J.Lo and Tip pack into Slushious, a Chevy that J.Lo has engineered into a fairly operational spaceship, and head to New Boovworld, the aliens' new home on one of Saturn's moons.
But their welcome isn't quite as warm as Tip and J.Lo would have liked. J.Lo is dubbed Public Enemy Number One, and Captain Smek knows that capturing the alien is the only way he'll stand a chance in the Boovs' first-ever presidential election.
With the help of a friendly flying billboard named Bill, a journey through various garbage chutes, a bit of time travel, and a slew of hilarious Boovish accents, Tip and J.Lo must fight to set the record straight-and return home in once piece.
Oh man, I adored The True Meaning of Smekday! I read it with my ears. Bahni Turpin did a spectacular job bringing this hysterical story to life. Don't take my word for it, the audiobook won the 2011 Odyssey Award. I see that the audiobook is releasing at the same time, but no narrator is listed. Hm-m, I wonder who's narrating? Must suss this out.

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cover Coincidence

Cover Coincidence is the occasional post inspired by the question, "Where have I seen this before?"

In this case, I am currently a few pages from finishing this spectacular ghost story:

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. 324 p. Candelwick Press, August, 2014. 

Just this morning, I spotted this in the Class of 2K14 newsletter:

Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither. 352 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, September 16, 2014. 

Admittedly, not a perfect match but it makes me wonder if silhouettes will become the next trend in covers.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Taking Stock - August

Total posts: 14
Total books this month: 25
Total books this year: 232

Audio: 7/47
Debut: 0/6
Picture books: 6/ 56

The Good: Um,m. I got nothing. Favorited seven? 

The Bad: Both my reading rate and posting took a nosedive. 

The Books:
208. (39) Swim, Duck, Swim! by Susan Lurie (8/5)
209. (40) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (8/6)*
210. (41) The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson (8/7)
211. (42) Allegiant by Veronica Roth (8/9)
212. (43) Perry's Killer Playlist by Joe Schreiber (8/9)*
213. (44) The Magic School Bus Presents: The Human Body by Johanna Cole (8/10)
214. (45) The Magic School Bus Presents: Our Solar System by Johanna Cole (8/10)
215. (46) The Magic School Bus Presents: Wild Weather by Johanna Cole (8/11)
216. (47) The Magic School Bus Presents: Planet Earth by Johanna Cole (8/11)
217. (48) All Different Now: Juneteenth, the first day of freedom by Angela Johnson (8/11)
218. (49) Invasion by Walter Dean Myers (8/14)
219. (50) Tito Puente: Mambo King/ Rey del Mambo by Monica Brown (8/14)
220. (51) Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (8/15)
221. (52) Abuelo by Arthur Dorros (8/15)
222. (53) Scarecrows' Wedding by Julia Donaldson (8/15)
223. (54) Secrets of the Sky Caves: danger and discovery on Nepal's Mustang Cliffs by Sandra K. Athans (8/16)
224. (55) Loot: how to steal a fortune by Jude Watson (8/17)*
225. (56) Cress (Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer (8/18)*
226. (57) Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale (8/18)
227. Strike! the farm workers' fight for their rights by Larry Dane Brimner (8/19)*
228. Swim the Fly by Don Calame (8/22)*
229. Polar Animals (Scholastic Discover More series) by Susan Hayes and Tory Gordon-Harris (8/23)
230. Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (8/24)
231. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (8/28)* (Reviewing for SLJ)
232. Beat the Band by Don Calame (8/31)*

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got.


Positive: a memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin. 288 p. HarperCollins Publisher, August, 2014. 9780062342515.

Publisher synopsis: Paige Rawl was an ordinary girl.
Cheerleader, soccer player, honor roll student. One of the good kids at her middle school.
Then, on an unremarkable day, Paige disclosed the one thing that made her "different": her HIV-positive status.
It didn't matter that she was born with the disease or that her illness posed no danger to her classmates.
Within hours, the bullying began.
They called her PAIDS. Left cruel notes on her locker. Talked in whispers about her and mocked her openly.
She turned to school administrators for help. Instead of assisting her, they ignored her urgent pleas . . . and told her to stop the drama.
She had never felt more alone.
One night, desperate for escape, Paige found herself in front of the medicine cabinet, staring at a bottle of sleeping pills.
That could have been the end of her story. Instead, it was only the beginning.
Finding comfort in steadfast friends and a community of other kids touched by HIV, Paige discovered the strength inside of her, and she embarked on a mission to change things for the bullied kids who would follow in her footsteps.
In this astonishing memoir, Paige immerses the reader in her experience and tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal: a story of one girl overcoming relentless bullying by choosing to be Positive.

I can't recall where I read about this one but I'm always looking to beef up my YA memoir collection to  support an eighth grade memoir unit. I am also intensely interested in AIDS stories as I was an ER nurse in the early 80s when AIDS was a frightening mystery illness. I also worked as an outpatient transfusion nurse in NYC and many of my patients suffered from AIDS. Highly interested in reading this one.

Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter D. Seruta. Candlewick Press, August, 2014.

Publisher synopsis: Secret lives, scandalous turns, and some very funny surprises — these essays by leading kids’ lit bloggers take us behind the scenes of many much-loved children’s books.
Told in lively and affectionate prose, this treasure trove of information for a student, librarian, parent, or anyone wondering about the post–Harry Potter children’s book biz brings contemporary illumination to the warm-and-fuzzy bunny world we think we know.
What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I played catch-up this summer with the Lunar Chronicles and read both Scarlet and Cress with my ears. I read Cinder with my ears as well, but unfortunately never got around to reviewing it. I thought it was a clever twist on the Cinderella motif and a very impressive debut novel. Here's a double review of Scarlet and Cress.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles #2. Unabridged audiobook on 9 compact discs. 11 hours. Read by Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio, February, 2014. 9781427229649. (Purchased.)

No sequel sag here. While Cinder is imprisoned, facing deportation to Lunar where a death sentence awaits her, readers are introduced to Scarlet Benoit, the granddaughter of a farmer in France. Scarlet is  frantic because her grandmother went missing two weeks earlier, leaving her ID chip behind. Authorities assume that she left on her own but Scarlet knows better. She warily enlists the aid of Wolf, a street fighter of sorts, to help her find Grandmere. Big mistake. No spoilers here despite the fact that the book has been out for awhile. Let's just call this romance a bit star-crossed.

Meanwhile, Cinder gets some help escaping but ends up teaming up with her cellmate, Captain Carswell Thorne, a sort of Han Solo-type, swashbuckling hero in his own mind kind of guy.

The double narrative takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride of an adventure. Thank goodness I read this after Cress was published as the only wait I endured was waiting for the one library that owned the audiobook of Cress to ILL it to my library.

Cress by Marissa Meyer. The Lunar Chronicles #3. Unabridged audiobook on one self-contained Playaway. 16 hours. Read by Rebecca Soler. 9781427236373. (Borrowed from public library.)

Cress, a Lunar shell and gifted hacker has been orbiting Earth in a satellite, ordered by Sybil Mira to first spy on Kai and other government officials and, most recently, to find the Rampion, Thorne's stolen spaceship. Cress, who has a bit of a crush on Thorne has not only found it, she's using her skills to keep the ship cloaked. She has a bit of a rescue fantasy going involving Thorne. Wolf is training Cinder to hone her mind controlling skills and Kai is reluctantly planning a wedding. When Cinder and Cress finally make contact, Cress can't believe her good luck. Unfortunately, Sybel decides to make a surprise visit and thwarts Cress' plans for escape. Cress and Thorne end up plummeting to Earth in the satellite; Scarlet becomes a prisoner of Sybil; and Cinder and Wolf reunite with Dr. Erland in Africa. 

Oh my, what an epic story! I just love the pacing, the humor, the action and the romance. Everything fits together so well, so seamlessly. And the sci-fi spin on the fairy tale motifs is just thrilling. The Rampion, Thorne's blindness, Wolf and Scarlet, Cinder and Kai. Oh, this series just tickles me. 

For some reason, I thought this was a trilogy. When I realized that the end of the story was near and no resolution seemed to be imminent, I realized that there would be another installment. Winter is due out November of 2015! Yikes! However, there will be a prequel, called Fairest, that is due to drop in January. It is Levana's story.

I must say that I find Rebecca Soler's performance in all three audiobooks absolutely amazing. Perfectly paced, amazing accents, I have enjoyed all three recordings. I actually thought that the narrator had changed because she inhabits the characters so well. I highly recommend this series in both the print and audio versions. My students just love the series - both boys and girls. 

Friday Memes - The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Book Beginnings is hosted bRose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 303 p.? (bound manuscript) Dial, January 8, 2015. 9780803740815.

Publisher synopsis: An exceptionally moving story of triumph against all odds set during World War 2, from the acclaimed author of Jefferson’s Sons and for fans of Number the Stars.
Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.
So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?
This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.

First Line: "Ada! Get back from that window! Mam's voice, shouting.

Page 56: "I found my crutches and got to my feet. I picked up the broken pieces of plate, and the food scattered across the floor. I wiped up the water I'd spilled when I knocked over my glass. I could hear Jamie screaming upstairs. Miss Smith was either bathing him or slaughtering him; either was fine with me."

I have already read this actually, but since I'm reviewing it for School Library Journal, I won't be posting a review here. I will say that I was immediately drawn in by Ada's voice and her story and that The War That Saved My Life is a favorite. Dilemma - 2014 favorite or 2015 favorite?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Polar Animals by Susan Hayes and Tory Gordon-Harris

Polar Animals by Susan Hayes and Tory Gordon-Harris. Scholastic Discover More series. 80 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2014. 9780545667777. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

I love this series. It is consistently pleasing and informative. I think this one is my favorite so far. Polar Animals contains a spectacular collection of arresting, full-color photographs and is jam-packed with fun and interesting tidbits such as the fact that a walrus' skin is white while it is swimming in the sea. When on land, the blood flows to the skin, turning its color. It would've been kinda cool to see a photograph of that though. 

Some of the factoids made me wish for more, such as the fact that the wandering albatross travels 9,300 miles to bring food back to their young. I mean, what does the poor nestling do in the meantime? I suppose that it takes quite a while to travel those 9,300 miles. Enough time to starve to death? But there's really no room for full-stories in this series, which provides overviews of topics. Hopefully, young readers will do further research when questions like this pop up. I, for one, have jotted it down to find out later. And really, isn't that the fun of research?

Then again, the page about a polar bear cub's first year seemed to be a bit of a filler. Specifically, #2, entitled, leaving the den - mama bear digs her way out of the snow den in the spring and her cubs follow her. Well, of course. The caption ends with, "They have never been outside before." Well, duh! Surely there were more educative bits that could've been written here? Like, what are the dangers to the cubs during this time, or, what about the father polar bear, or, do they eat what the mama bear kills right away or does she chew the food up and regurgitate it for a while?

Still, that's just one page out of 80, so I do quibble. Our fifth graders do a unit on the Polar regions and this one will fit right in. While it won't provide everything they will need for report writing, it's an enticing introduction to the subject. Reluctant or struggling readers will be engaged. Browsers and fact-hounds will gobble it whole and ask for more. Keep 'em coming Scholastic.