Thursday, September 20, 2018

#tbt: Redwall by Brian Jacques


Redwall by Brian Jacques. Illustrated by Troy Howell. 351 p. Philomel Books, June, 1987. 9780399214240. (Own)

#tbt features Redwall by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes). Jacques wrote Redwall for the special friends he had been reading to at a school for the blind. He didn't like the books and wrote his own. Redwall is the first book in the Redwall series and was published in 1986. He wrote twenty two more until his death in 2011, with the last book being published posthumously.

Redwall is an abbey where animals live in peace. Young Matthias dreams of adventure. That comes in the form of Cluny the Scourge, a huge rat with a poisonous tail. He dreams of making Redwall Abbey his own. All the characters are animals and they all have their own curious dialect, making the reading a bit difficult. Hang in there. The books are satisfying reading, especially if you enjoy animal fantasy.

My family owns the tenth anniversary edition. I love the cover of this one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Deceiver's Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen


The Deceiver's Heart by Jennifer A. Nielsen. The Traitor's Game series #2. 384 p. Scholastic Inc., February 26, 2019. 9781338045413. 

Publisher synopsis: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller The Traitor's Game, Kestra Dallisor has finally gained possession of the Olden Blade. With the dagger in her control, she attempts to destroy the tyrannical Lord Endrick. But when Kestra fails, the king strips her of her memory, and leaves her weak and uncertain, bound to obey him. Heartbroken, Simon is desperate to return Kestra to the rebel she was, but refuses to use magic to heal her. With untrusting Coracks and Halderians threatening to capture and kill her, and war looming on the horizon, Kestra and Simon will have to learn to trust each other again if they have any hope of surviving. But can a heart once broken ever be healed?

I posted a review of The Traitor's Heart yesterday. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen


The Traitor's Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Traitor's Game series #1. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. 11 hours. Read by Jesse Vilinski and Michael Curran-Dorsano. Scholastic Audio, February, 2018. (Review from downloadable audio borrowed from public library.) 

Teen Tuesday features a new series by Jennifer Nielsen. Fans of The False Prince will enjoy The Traitor's Game. Sixteen-year-old Kestra has been summoned home to Highwyn by her father. She has been away for three years and wonders what her stern father wants. Her party is attacked by a band of Coracks, who hold Kestra's maid and beloved guard and mentor hostage. The ransom? They want her to find and recover the Olden Blade, a weapon with magical properties fabled to be the only weapon that can kill the immortal and evil Lord Endrick. 

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Kestra and Simon, one of her captors, who is a former servant with a grudge. This court intrigue fantasy is pretty violent and betrayal and plot twists abound leaving readers to anticipate the next installment. While no new ground is broken here, the quick pace and suspense will have appeal for readers who like their fantasy fast and furious. 

The world-building was a bit vague. The narrators were both new to me. Jesse Vilinsky's clipped, no-nonsense, almost monotone delivery had initial appeal, but soon wore thin. Curran-Dorsano's delivery had more emotion. I am definitely on board for the sequel; but will probably opt to read with my eyes. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Middle Grade Monday: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshini Chokshi


Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshini Chokshi. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. Read by Soneela Nankani. 10 hours, 23 minutes. Listening Library, March, 2018. (Review of book borrowed from local e-library.)

Middle Grade Monday features Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. This is the beginning of the Pandava series and is the author's middle grade debut. Twelve-year-old Aru lives with her archaeologist mom in an apartment in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art. All of her classmates are wealthy and go on expensive vacation so Aru has taken to lying about her life to fit in. When three classmates come to her apartment to catch her in a lie, they dare her to touch the Lamp of Bharata, a lamp that her mother warned her to NEVER touch. Uh-oh!

With her friends and mother frozen in time and the Sleeper released, it is up to Aru to find the reincarnations of the Pandava princes and travel through the kindgom of death to save civilization. Fans of Rick Riordan, Sarwat Chadda and Sayantani DasGupta will enjoy this fast-paced adventure. I read this one with my ears and enjoyed new-to-me narrator, Soneela Nankani's performance. She had a nice range of voices for the characters and paced the reading well. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Fact Friday: Between the Lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace


Between the Lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. unpgd. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster, January, 2018. 9781481443876. (Review of purchased finished copy.)

Happy Friday TMS Readers! Our second week is in the books. I'm seeing some of you in the library asking for books. I've heard about the amazing book tastings in your LA classes. Keep it up!

Fact Friday features Between the Lines: How Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Wallace and illustrated by the incomparable Bryan Collier. Ernie Barnes grew up poor in the segregated south in the 1940s and 50s. As a boy, he drew on anything he could get his hands on, including mud. He thrived in his art classes and wanted to be an artist. He visited an art museum on a field trip and asked the docent if there was any art made by people of color and was told, "Your people don't express themselves that way." When he hit high school, his size impressed the football coach, who asked Ernie to join the team. Ernie had no interest in sports but the coach was undeterred and visited Ernie's mother. Ernie was on the team. And he was good. Good enough to earn a college scholarship to study art. He was good in college football too. Good enough to be drafted by a professional football team - the Colts. He played but he also drew and painted. The title, Between the Lines has several meanings, don't you think? 

Bryan Collier's collage art is just gorgeous. With watercolor and deep, rich colors, Collier develops a strong visual sense of who Barnes was. He also incorporated Barnes' art style. Backmatter includes notes from both the author and the illustrator as well as photos of Ernie Barnes and his art. 

This well-told picture book biography is a must for most collections. I am so happy to be adding it to my sixth grade picture book biography unit.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blog Tour and Arc Review: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage


The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage. 360 p. A Mo & Dale Mystery #4. Kathy Dawson Books/ Penguin Young Readers, September 11, 2018. 9780803739628. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

If ever there was a series I never wanted to end, it is this one. Mo and Dale reside in my heart next to Moose Flanagan, Heidi It and only one or two other characters. A visit to Tupelo Landing makes all right in this crazy world. Indeed, the town is very nearly a character! It is a place kind of frozen in time. A place where everyone knows everyone. If one were to sneeze at one end of town, another would say, "Bless you!" on the other end. A place where kids ride their bikes and leave them unlocked in driveways and against fences. 

The Law of Finders Keepers can stand alone. But if you have not read the three earlier books in the Mo & Dale Mystery series, you are missing out. 

Sixth graders Mo LoBeau and her partners, Dale and Harm are the Desperado Detectives. Mo continues to search for her "Upstream Mother" and writes letters to her faithfully. The Desperado's newest case arrives when snow and a treasure hunter named Gabriel Archer blow into town. It seems that Tupelo Landing and the dastardly pirate, Blackbeard have history. It may just be that Blackbeard buried his lost treasure in Tupelo Landing. Everyone's going treasure hunt crazy and it's bringing out the worst in some residents. Crimes are being committed. Mo is also dealing with some new clues in her search for "Upstream Mother" on top of it all.

Turnage's storytelling is masterful as she juggles her large, eccentric and colorful cast of characters. I feel like I could amble into Miss Lana's cafe, grab a seat at the counter and recognize everyone who walks in the door! The rich dialogue is at turns amusing and dramatic as clues and suspense mount. I just adore the friendship between Mo and Dale and Harm. Dale just cracks me up and I admire how Mo and Harm gently help him. I am curious about the adults they will grow up to be. 

So readers, sadly, it is over. We bid goodbye to Tupelo Landing with a tear or two and many laughs. The Law of Finders Keepers is a perfect conclusion to an absolutely must-read series. 

#tbt: Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña


Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña. 288 p. Random House Children's Books, September, 2005. 9780385902588. (Own)

#tbt features Ball Don't Lie by Matt de la Peña. This was de la Peña's debut and was published in 2005. Ball Don't Lie is a gritty, intense story that takes place over twenty-four hours. Sticky is a seventeen-year-old basketball phenom; but he has had a tough life since being removed from his prostitute mother's home ten years earlier. He has moved from foster home to foster home, none being much better than the situation he was removed from. His real home, the only place he feels safe and comfortable is at the Lincoln Park basketball court where he can ball and trash talk the other players. Basketball is his thing and perhaps his ticket out. Can he manage his OCD and the demons from his past to earn himself a basketball scholarship? If you are a teen who loves basketball, you should not miss this book. Don't love basketball? Give it a try if you like intense, emotional reads.

Matt de la Peña went on to write three more YA novels set in urban settings, Mexican White Boy, We were Here, and I will Save You. He then wrote a book in the Infinity Ring series, a survival trilogy and a number of picture books, one of which, The Last Stop on Market Street, won the Newbery Medal!