Friday, March 6, 2015

Little Red's Riding 'Hood by Peter Stein

Little Red's Riding 'Hood by Peter Stein. Illustrated by Chris Gall. 32 p. Orchard Books/ Scholastic Inc., February, 2015. 9780545609692. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

This isn't the first time that Red Riding Hood has been fractured; nor is it the first time that Red is a boy. Come to think of it, the automotive angle has been done before as well. In Neal Shusterman's second entry in his Dark Fusion series, Red was a sixteen-year-old boy who cruised his neighborhood is a red mustang and grandma has been kidnapped by a gang of werewolves. That is most decidedly YA fare.

Little Red's Riding 'Hood is much lighter - filled with automotive humor both visually and in the text. Not all the humor is successful but most is clever and fun. The characters are motor vehicles. Little Red is a zippy scooter. The wolf is a menacing monster truck and Granny is a pink golf cart. It's a zany retelling which remains fairly faithful to the "original." The illustrations are peppy. The palette is bright. Readers will enjoy looking for the visual jokes such as "Skid's Brake Repair."

This would be a fun addition to a fractured fairy tale unit.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

When Viral Internet Memes Turn Into Books

I had a Barnes and Noble date with my husband this past Sunday morning, after my yoga class. These dates usually involve trying to get the comfy chairs in the cafe. He browses the mystery section and I browse the Children's and YA sections. We then grab coffee and snacks and browse through our selections to make a pile that we'll purchase. I love these dates.

I am way behind in my picture book reading and found plenty to dig into. Two of the books, coincidentally also happened to be viral internet memes before being turned into picture books. Here's a mini review of both of them. 

These aren't the first viral memes to be brought to print. Grumpy Cat hit the shelves in July of 2013. There might be more. Let me know in the comments. Oh! Wait, there IS more, Dog Shaming from the fall of 2013 and a series of web comics was made into a book called, My Dog. The Paradox from May of 2014.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes on: things about me by Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp. (Marcel the Shell series #1) 42 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, November, 2011. 9781595144553.

I don't know why this one happened to be featured in the display. I assumed it was new but now I see it has been around since 2011. I really enjoyed the stop-motion film on YouTube of this cute little guy so I sort of "read" the book with his voice. I did find the font, while beautiful a bit difficult to read and know that many younger readers would struggle to read it. The humor translated fairly well from the film. The illustrations were watery and lovely. 

Nap Time with Theo & Beau by Jessica Shyba. 40 p. Feiwel & Friends, February, 2015.  9781250059062.

I can't think of anything more beautiful than a sleeping baby. Or a sleeping puppy. Put the two of them together and my heart just melts.  I saw a link to a Huff Post article about the author's blog and the photos a while ago. The tow-headed toddler is ridiculously adorable and has the most amazing eyelashes I have ever seen. These supposedly candid photographs feature the best friends napping in a variety of positions. They look professionally photographed. I want Beau's stylist. His clothes are very cool. Sweet commentary accompany each photo. Best yet, Theo was adopted and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will support shelters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Cleopatra in Space: the thief and the sword by Mike Malhack

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipated. 

Cleopatra in Space: the thief and the sword by Mike Malhack. Book 2. 192 p. Scholastic Inc., April 28, 2015. 9780545528450.

Publisher synopsis: Cleopatra's space adventure in the REALLY far future continues!
When a mysterious thief steals the ancient sword Cleo recovered in CLEOPATRA IN SPACE, BOOK ONE: TARGET PRACTICE, Cleo is determined to get it back, but her teachers at Yasiro Academy forbid her from risking her life. Stuck at school, Cleo is having a hard time adjusting to her newfound popularity and responsibility. And when she learns more about the prophecy that names her the savior of the galaxy and the time tablets that could decide her fate, she must go on a dangerous journey to find them before they can fall into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Faves from Last 2 - 3 Years

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by Broke and Bookish. This week's theme is: "Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years (you can extend it to 5 if you need to)."

YA: Alphabetically by title:

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry. Many scenes from this provocative book are seared into my memory.

Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I read this with my ears and found the performance especially riveting.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer. This Cinderella tale with a sci/ fi twist is so interesting! There's suspense. There's the potential for romance. There's great world-building.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Totally confusing until suddenly, it's not. Then, gut-wrenching.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (trilogy) by Laini Taylor. This is one trilogy where the heroine didn't lose her kick-ass quality in book 2. Days of Blood and Starlight shook me up in the best possible way. The third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters was a phenomenal ending.

I Pledge Allegiance (Vietnam series) by Chris Lynch. I recently finished the fifth and final (?) book in this series. I needed to read every single one. Four friends take a pledge that if one gets drafted to fight in Vietnam, they all go. And they did, each into a different branch of the service. Each got a book told from his own POV. In the fifth book, all four weigh in. 

Legend Book 1 in the Legend series by Marie Lu. Another trilogy where there's no second book slump and the kick-ass heroine stays kick-ass. Also has the perfect ending.

Lockwood & Co: the screaming staircase by Jonathan Stroud. I did something very rare. I reread this rip-roaring yarn twice - once with my eyes and again with my ears. Book two, The Whispering Skull is out and I can't wait to read it!

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner. This was another rare reread for me. This alternate history universe was terrifyingly real. 

Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy. This supernatural tale about a skeleton detective and his human sidekick is hysterically funny and quite suspenseful. I believe that I've read five of them with my ears. I recently learned that many more installments have been published. Must check into that soon.

As I was perusing my reading lists from the last few years, I jotted down middle grade titles as well. I had intended to split the list 50/ 50 as I usually do. Unfortunately, I came up with more than ten for each level. So, I'm begging forgiveness instead of asking for permission and making a list of 10 middle grade favorites as well.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle and its sequel, Five, Six, Seven, Nate! I absolutely adore Nate and Tim Federle for writing these books about pursuing one's dream and being one's self no matter what.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I fell in love with Willow Chance on page 1 in this intensely moving story of loss and belonging.

Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger. Such an adorable story in many different kinds of verse. Perfect for the LA teachers doing a poetry unit because, not only is the verse engaging, there's a section at the end explaining the rules of each variety of poem! But wait! There's more! A sequel, Gone Camping, is in the works and set to publish in 2017!

Hero's Guide to Saving the Kingdom (...Storming the Castle & ...Being an Outlaw) by Christopher Healy. These fractured fairy tales are such a hoot!  Not only are they laugh-out-loud funny, they are smartly written. They are quite popular at my school among both boys and girls.

One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. My heart belongs to Ivan. I was so pleased when it won the Newbery Award! Such a memorable voice.

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia. This sequel to One Crazy Summer picks right up when the girls return to Brooklyn. There are big changes awaiting them. The final book in the trilogy, Gone Crazy in Alabama is due April 21.

Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer. This lovely debut nestled deep in my heart and is perfect for my girls who love weepies.

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington. Another (children's) debut, another wonderful weepie. I recommended this to one of the seventh grade LA teachers. She loved it so much, she returned it with a present - my very own plant that she named Plant. (It's a Christmas cactus and it's still alive though I haven't gotten it to bloom yet.)

Texting the Underworld by Ellen Booream. Oh my, how I loved and laughed my way through this book! Every kid I have gotten to read it returns it with a big smile. 

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. Of course, it's sequel, Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is as charming and hilarious. I hear there's a third book, due in October called, The Odds of Getting Even. Can't wait for that one. I'll be featuring it in a WoW post on April 22.

Thanks for hanging in there! Leave a link to your top ten in the comments. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

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 this week.

A happy dance was had in the main office when I returned from winter break to find this in my mailbox:

Character, Driven by David Lubar. 311p. Tor Teen/ A Tom Doherty Associates Book, March, 2016. 9780765316332.

From the back cover: With only one year left of high school, seventeen-year-old Cliff Sparks is desperate to "com of age"-a.k.a., lose his virginity. But he's never had much luck with girls. So when he falls for Jillian, a new classmate, at first sight, all he can do is worship her from afar. At the same time, Cliff has to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, since he's pretty sure his unemployed father plans to kick him out of the house the minute he turns eighteen. Time is running out. Cliff is at the edge on the verge, dangling-and holding on for dear life.

I enjoy David Lubar's work. I think Dunk was the first of his books I read. He writes novels and short story collections for middle grade and young adult audiences. He even has a Branches series for elementary readers. Humor and word-play are important elements in most of his work. 

I took a quick peek and had to force myself to close the book and put it in my tote since, 1. I was at work and had, you know, actual work to do and 2. I have three books that have to be read and reviewed before I sink my teeth into this one.

Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett. 306 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc. March 31, 2015. 9780545299909.

Publisher synopsis: 
Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be . . . or who might have stolen them.

Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they've been matched with two new sleuths -- Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words . . . and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it's not just Mrs. Sharpe who's acting suspiciously -- there's a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up.

With pieces and players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery from the amazing Blue Balliett.

Geronimo Stilton: the hunt for the curious cheese by Geronimo Stilton. 224 p. Scholastic Inc., March 31, 2015. 9780545791519. 

Publisher synopsis: It's a curious case for Geronimo in this special edition adventure!
Rancid ricotta! Something strange was happening in New Mouse City. Rodents were suddenly getting sick with stomachaches, hiccups, and weird green warts -- and it seemed to be related to cheese! We mice eat a lot of cheese, so this was serious. My detective friend, Hercule Poirat, asked me to help him investigate. Could we solve this mystery and save our city?
BONUS! After the story, read an extra Mini Mystery adventure and jokes galore!

Such a Little Mouse by Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 32 p. Orchard Books/ Scholastic Inc., March 31, 9780545649292.

Publisher synopsis: Explore the world of such a little mouse--from the bestselling author of LITTLE BLUE TRUCK!
"And way down deep in the hole lives a mouse.
Such a little mouse,
with his smart gray coat,
with his ears pink as petals,
with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose."
With Alice Schertle's sweet descriptive language and touching illustrations from Stephanie Yue, a little mouse interacts with the world around him. Every season of the year, "such a little mouse" pops out of his hole and goes out to explore the wider world.

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link in the comments. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday - Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale)

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books whose release we are eagerly anticipating.

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale) by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series. Amulet Books/ Abrams, April 21, 2015. 9781419715365. 

Publisher synopsis: Araminta Ross was born a slave in Delaware in the early 19th century. Slavery meant that her family could be ripped apart at any time, and that she could be put to work in dangerous places and for abusive people. But north of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery was illegal. If she could run away and make it north without being caught or killed, she’d be free. Facing enormous danger, Araminta made it, and once free, she changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Tubman spent the rest of her life helping slaves run away like she did, every time taking her life in her hands. Nathan Hale tells her incredible true-life story with the humor and sensitivity he’s shown in every one of the Hazardous Tales—perfect for reluctant readers and classroom discussions.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

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 this week.

For review:

Tom Gates: Excellent Excuses (and other good stuff) by L.Pichon. 351 p. Candlewick Press, May 16, 2015. 9780763674748.

Publisher synopsisMiddle-school comedian, homework dodger, rock-star wannabe, master doodler—Tom Gates is back with two more episodes full of visual humor and kid appeal.
No school for two whole weeks! Now Tom has plenty of time for the good stuff, like finding new ways (so many!) to annoy his big sister, Delia. Or watching TV and eating caramel candy. Or most important, band practice for DOGZOMBIES in his best friend Derek’s garage (while not encouraging Derek’s ’60s-music-crazed dad). All that stands between this band and rock greatness is, well, a song (besides "Delia’s a Weirdo"). And finding a drummer. And landing a gig. Will Tom let a killer toothache and pesky overdue homework get in his way?
That's what's new with me. I can't believe I didn't buy any books this week. What's new with you?