Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Arc Review: Moo by Sharon Creech

Moo by Sharon Creech. 278 p. Joanna Cotler Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, August, 2016. 9780062415240. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher) 

Reena and her brother Luke are city kids through and through. When their journalist parents both lose their jobs and are unable to find new ones, they pack up and head to Maine and the great unknown. Reena and Luke are pretty on board with the move. She anticipates beaches, blueberries and lobster. What she gets is work. She and her brother are volunteered by their parents to help an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Falala, with chores. This includes tending her cow, Zora. Zora is one nasty cow and Mrs. Falala is a bit crotchety herself. Both of them scare poor Luke leaving Reena to deal with Zora. Luckily for Reena, Beat and Zep, who work the cows on a neighboring farm, are willing to mentor Reena. As Reena's confidence grows and Zora becomes more tractable, Reena begins to appreciate both Mrs. Falala and Zora. This is a lovely story about family, friendship and farming.

This poetry/ prose hybrid is classic Creech - sweet, tender, amusing, and udderly readable. For fans of Love That Dog, this book will feel like a warm homecoming or putting on a favorite pair of slippers. New readers are in for a treat. Sharon Creech's books are so accessible thanks to her spare narrative style, her keen eye for small moments and her gentle affection for both her readers and her characters. 

Waiting on Wednesday: Lights, Cameras, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Lights, Cameras, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Tales from the Locker #1. 208 p. Random House Children's Books, July 4, 2017. 9780399554391.

Publisher synopsis: It’s a new kind of book for Babymouse! Fans of Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and James Patterson’s Middle School books, this is going to be epic. . . .
For Babymouse, middle school is like a monster movie. You can never be sure who’s a friend and who’s an enemy, and the halls are filled with mean-girl zombies. Instead of brains, the zombies hunger for stuff—the perfect wedge sandals or the right shade of sparkly lip gloss—and they expect everyone to be just like them.
But Babymouse doesn’t want to fit in—she wants to stand out! So she joins the film club to write and direct a sweeping cinematic epic. Will making the film of her dreams turn into a nightmare?

I learned of this last weekend on FB. I just adore the Babymouse series and have many of them in my middle school library. I am absolutely thrilled that Babymouse is going to middle school! It looks as though the books will be more illustrated novel than graphic novel but that's fine. Anything by either or both Holms is an automatic purchase for me.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Memes: Moo by Sharon Creech

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

Moo by Sharon Creech. 278 p. Joanna Cotler Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, August, 2016. 9780062415240.
Publisher synopsis: Fans of Newbery Medal winner Sharon Creech’s Love That Dog and Hate That Cat will love her newest tween novel, Moo. This uplifting tale reminds us that if we’re open to new experiences, life is full of surprises. Following one family’s momentous move from the city to rural Maine, an unexpected bond develops between twelve-year-old Reena and one very ornery cow.

When Reena, her little brother, Luke, and their parents first move to Maine, Reena doesn’t know what to expect. She’s ready for beaches, blueberries, and all the lobster she can eat. Instead, her parents “volunteer” Reena and Luke to work for an eccentric neighbor named Mrs. Falala, who has a pig named Paulie, a cat named China, a snake named Edna—and that stubborn cow, Zora.

This heartwarming story, told in a blend of poetry and prose, reveals the bonds that emerge when we let others into our lives.

First Line: The truth is, she was ornery and stubborn, wouldn't listen to a n y b o d y, and selfish beyond selfish, and filthy, caked with mud and dust, and moody: you'd better watch it or she'd knock you flat.

Page 55/56: 
Zep held his own head high
admiring the heifers
as I stood there
wanting to say something
wanting to keep him there
a little longer
this gangly Zep boy
but no words came out of my mouth

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Review: Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Footloose by Kenny Loggins. Illustrated by Tim Bowers. With bonus CD performed by Kenny Loggins. 28 p. Moon Dance Press/ Quarto Publishing Group, October, 2016. 9781633221185. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

As earworms go, very little beats Footloose, the 1984 hit co-written by Kenny Loggins and featured in the movie of the same name. While I love the song, I never fully mastered the lyrics. But as soon as I hear those opening notes to that long introduction, my mood immediately lifts and I find a spring in my step. Well, Loggins is a grandfather now, as he shares in his author's note. He took Footloose and reworked to create a dance party for his young granddaughter. 

The result is this exuberant picture book illustrated by Tim Bowers. Zookeeper Jack's about to close the zoo for the night. He and the animals have plans to party. Two little tykes slip back in unbeknownst to everyone and witness the festivities, which include a DJ elephant, dancin' monkeys, giraffes, and kangaroos. Even a line of rhinos get on the dance floor. 

The font color, size and even position on the pages make the words bounce and pop. Bowers' ebullient, textured art exudes joy and humor. The decorated end-pages add to the story as well. This is a read-aloud that begs to be sung and danced to. Make room for your listeners to bust out some moves. It is probably a good idea to take a listen to the bonus CD first. It definitely helps you ease through some of the trickier transitions. The hefty weight of this is sure to stand up to repeated requests for rereads. Visit Quarto Books to view a trailer and a pdf with suggested activities. 

Come one everybody! Cut loose!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Double Audiobook Review: Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Unabridged audiobook on 12 compact discs. 13.5 hours. Read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Listening Library, 2015. 978110890776. (Review from finished copy borrowed from the public library)

An Ember in the Ashes was one of the most hyped debuts of 2015. It was on my tbr from before its publication but I wasn't able to get to it until I found it on audio. Wowzers, am I sorry it took so long! Epic storytelling, intriguing characters and vivid world building along with spectacular performances by new-to-me narrators, Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. 

The action starts with a bang as Laia and her brother, Darin attempt to escape a Mask raid of the home they share with their Scholar grandparents, Nan and Pop. Laia suspects her brother is working with the Empire thanks to the smell of metal and the sketches of weapons in his sketchbook. But the Masks arrive to arrest Darin for treason. So, is he working for the Resistance? Laia's parents and much older sister died working for the resistance. She is not smart and brave like them. At Daren's insistence, she flees; but has no idea where to find refuge. The Marshals and the Masks have an iron-fisted hold on the mostly oppressed population of the Empire. In desperation, she searches the catacombs for the Resistance.

Chapters alternate between the first-person narrations of Laia and Elias. Elias is about to graduate from his Mask training. He is Blackcliff Academy's most brilliant and gifted student; but he hates what he is being trained to do and is plotting escape. But no one deserts the Academy. Deserters are always caught and always tortured, usually to death.

The emperor protects himself with elite guards but there is a power struggle going on among the elite in addition to attempts at sedition by the Resistance. Elias finds himself entangled in a three-way competition to become the new emperor. He crosses paths with Laia and their fates become entwined.

Why do fantasy books always seem to be narrated by British narrators? Hardingham and West's performances were pitch-perfect. It turns out Hardingham is not new to me. She narrated another favorite audiobook of mine, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Hardingham's musical voice conveys Laia's fear well. West's growly snarl is my newest voice crush. (I mentioned this in a FB post and someone posted his picture to my timeline - he's not hard on the eyes either!)

A Torch against the Night by Sabaa Tahir. Unabridged audiobook on 13 compact discs. 15 hours. Read by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West, and Katharine McEwan. Listening Library 2016. (Review from purchased finished copy)

The only good thing about being late to the party around a smash hit it that there is less time to wait to read the sequel. I did need to buy my copy though because none of the libraries in my library cooperative had acquired the audiobook yet. 

A third narrator was added to A Torch against the Night. Helene's POV alternates with Laia's and Elias' POV and it's quite effective. Not wanting to unintentionally spoil either book one or two, I will say that A Torch against the Night was such a satisfying sequel. It hits the ground running and the suspense remains high for most of the book. I did not skip a day of reading with my ears and had to double up for the final discs. My heart was in my throat for most of the books. There were so many twists and turns and I loved the addition of the Bloodshrike's point of view. There were tears when a favorite character dies and shrieks at a fairly big and surprising reveal.  The violence quotient remains high. There was lots of brutality. I cannot wait for the next book and hear that two more are planned. 

The performances were first-rate. I highly recommend this series.

Waiting on Wednesday: Posted by John David Anderson

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles we can't wait to release.

Posted by John David Anderson. Walden Pond Press/ HarperCollins Publishers, May 2, 2017. 9780062338204.

I learned of this by following a link from FB last weekend and am so-o excited. Click here to read the summary. I hope there will be arcs at Midwinter. It's the first on my list of requests for the conference. I so loved Ms. Bixby's Last Day.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got this week.

For review:

Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan. 296 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin, January 31, 2017. 9780399186219.

Publisher synopsis: In this heartwarming and funny middle-grade novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background—and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!
Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery and of the role models who forever change us.


Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbit. Unabridged audiobook on 1 MP3 CD. 7 hours, 54 minutes. Read by Will Ropp. Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, October, 2016. 9781522656104.

Publisher synopsis: Slip behind the Iron Curtain into a world of smoke, secrets, and lies in this stunning novel where someone is always listening and nothing is as it seems.

Noah Keller has a pretty normal life, until one wild afternoon when his parents pick him up from school and head straight for the airport, telling him on the ride that his name isn’t really Noah and he didn’t really just turn eleven in March. And he can’t even ask them why—not because of his Astonishing Stutter, but because asking questions is against the newly instated rules. (Rule Number Two: Don’t talk about serious things indoors, because Rule Number One: They will always be listening). As Noah—now “Jonah Brown”—and his parents head behind the Iron Curtain into East Berlin, the rules and secrets begin to pile up so quickly that he can hardly keep track of the questions bubbling up inside him: Who, exactly, is listening—and why? When did his mother become fluent in so many languages? And what really happened to the parents of his only friend, Cloud-Claudia, the lonely girl who lives downstairs? In an intricately plotted novel full of espionage and intrigue, friendship and family, Anne Nesbet cracks history wide open and gets right to the heart of what it feels like to be an outsider in a world that’s impossible to understand.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?