Saturday, November 30, 2013

Taking Stock - November

Total posts: 21
Total books read this month: 57
Total books read this year: 402 (still behind on my Goodreads Challenge for 2013)

Audio Books: 2/ 63
Debut Author: 3/ 26
Mount TBR Challenge: 0/ 17
Picture Books: 33/ 102

The Good: November was Picture Book Month and I was able to read 33 to celebrate. Posted a few more reviews than usual. My reading was up in general.

The Bad: No movement on the TBR Challenge for the last few months. Only 2 audiobooks.

The List:

346. Space Taxi by Wendy Mass & Michael Brawer (11/1)
347. Flora & Ulysses: an illuminated adventure by Kate DiCamillo
348. A Funny Little Bird by Jennifer Yerkes (11/2)
349. A Long Way Away by Frank Viva (11/2)
350. Stick by Andy Pritchett (11/2)
351. Downpour by Emily Martin (11/2)
352. Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack (11/2)
353. I am Cat by Jackie Morris (11/2)
354. Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett (11/2)
355. Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen (11/2)
356. A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel (11/2)
357. Merry Christmas Splat by Rob Scotton (11/2)
358. An Otis Christmas by Loren Long (11/2)
359. Digby Differs by Miriam Koch (11/2)
360. For the Good of Mankind? by Vicki O. Wittenstein (11/4)
361. Fourth Down and Inches by Carla Killough McClafferty (11/5)
362. I Heart Band by Michelle Shusterman (11/9) (SLJ review)
363. Jinx of the Loser (Loser List #3) by H.N. Kowitt (11/10)
364. Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Berg (11/11)
365. The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett by Tom Angleberger (11/12)
366. The Race for the Chinese Zodiac by Gabrielle Wang (11/12)
367. Journey by Aaron Becker (11/12)
368. Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes (11/13)
369. Anubis Speaks by Vicky Alvear Shector (11/14)
370. Bigger Than a Breadbox by Laurel Snyder (11/14)
371. Jack Strong Takes a Stand by Tommy Greenwald (11/14)
372. Bobo the Sailor Man! by Eileen Rosenthal (11/15)
373. The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney (11/15)
374. This is the Rope: a story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson (11/15)
375. Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka (11/15)
376. Hello, My Name is Ruby by Philip C. Stead (11/15)
377. Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green by Christine Pakkula (11/16)
378. The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes (11/16)
379. Bomb: the race to build and steal the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin (audio reread) (11/16)
380. Eight Dolphins of Katrina by Janet Wyman Coleman (11/16)
381. The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Sefours (11/17)
382. Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda (11/17)
383. The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth (11/18)
384. The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan (11/19)
385. Numbed by David Lubar (11/20)
386. Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller (11/21)
387. Discover More: Weather by Penelope Arlon (11/21)
388. Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb (11/21)
389. Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (11/23)
390. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (11/24)
391. Moonday by Adam Rex (11/24)
392. Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue by Naoko Stoop (11/24)
393. The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi (11/24)
394. Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills (11/24)
395. When Lions Roar by Robie Harris (11/24)
396. New Kid by Tim Green (11/27) (SLJ review)
397. Lifetime: the amazing numbers in animal lives by Lola M. Schaefer (11/28)
398. How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (11/28)
399. Once Upon a Northern Light by Jean E. Pendziwol (11/28)
400. Prodigy by Marie Lu (11/29)*
401. Take Me to Your Loser (11/29)
402. Hard Luck (Wimpy Kid #8) (11/30)

What's New? Stacking the Shelves

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

Gifted: One of my sisters is a high school librarian. She went to AASL in Hartford earlier this month, and she brought me home this:

Odin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr. Blackwell Pages #2. 352 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 13, 2014. 9780316204989.

Publisher synopsis: Seven kids, Thor's hammer, and a whole lot of Valkyries are the only things standing against the end of the world. 

When thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse got Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world.  No problem, right?

But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer, and stop the apocalypse-a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and larger-than-life monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.

Do you have a deja-vu feeling? I just so happened to feature the title this past Wednesday in a WoW post. Woot! Thanks Barb!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Old School?

Last week, I trekked to a library in my cooperative that happened to have House of Hades available on audio. While I love ILL, when I have the time, I don't mind visiting other libraries to obtain the books I want. It gives me a chance to browse other collections, check out the layout, displays and ambiance. These three books happened to be displayed next to each other and my first thought was, "How old school are these?"


There was something about them that made me think of the early days of children's publishing when the palette was distinctly limited. I grabbed all three. Here's a round-up of reviews.

Once upon a Northern Night by Jean E. Pendziwol. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. unpgd. Groundwood Books, July, 2013. 9781554981380. (Borrowed from the public library.)

In a perfect pairing of picture and text, Once upon a Northern Night is a terrific bedtime story for a cold winter's night, especially if snow is in the forecast. The repetition of the title in the first line of each new verse is lulling and the imagery is vivid. The mostly black and white paintings, depicting a variety of nocturnal animals in the snowy landscape caused me to wish for a blanket and is certain to cause a young listener to snuggle a little closer. Little pops of color, such as the last of the apples on a tree, the yellow eyes of an owl, and orange fox tail, draw the eye, though I could've done without the blush on the prancing rabbits, personally. Still, a lovely addition to any library. 

Lifetime: the amazing numbers in animal lives by Lola M. Schaefer. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. 40 p. Chronicle Books LLC. September, 2014. 9781452107141. (Borrowed from public library.)

There's a bit more color in this intriguing and unique concept book than the cover implies, but the feel is definitely retro as each double-page spread depicts the behavior or event that is significant in each of the eleven animals depicted. "In one lifetime, this spider will spin 1 papery egg sac." Will young readers stop to count the 200 spots on a giraffe or the 550 eggs an alligator will lay over a lifetime? Not sure, but they are definitely countable.

Pages containing expanded information about each animal, including the scientific names and average life spans extend the age range for this cross-curricular picture book. Is this a science book or a math book or a book that shows that science and math are everywhere? A page explaining what an average is follows and the volume concludes with an author's note proclaiming her love of math and ending with two word problems.

How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens. 32 p. Henry Holt & Company Books for Young Readers, October, 2013. 9780805098341. (Borrowed from the public library.)

For some reason, this one made me think of the Lyle Crocodile books by Bernard Waber.

I couldn't find my own copy of the book and when I retrieved this cover image online, I wondered why I thought the two were similar. Perhaps it's the incongruity of the animals as pets?

All lion wants is a hat when he strolls into town on a hot day. Unfortunately, the townsfolk aren't welcoming. They chase him and he finds refuge in a play house belonging to a girl named Iris, who wasn't afraid of lions. She sneaks him into the house because, "moms and dads can be funny about having a lion in the house," and tends to the lion. Finding the perfect hiding place proves difficult since the lion is just, "too big, too fluffy, and too heavy."

Of course, after a bit, the jig is up and poor lion is on the run again. He finds a hiding place in the middle of town where no one, not even Iris notices him. When he notices and apprehends a pair of burglars stealing the mayor's candlesticks, the townsfolk are amazed and Iris gets to say, "I told you so." Lion gets a parade and the mayor tells him that he can have anything he wants. Can you guess what lion would like?

There's a lot more color in this one compared to the other two. Perhaps the retro feel I'm getting is from the sketch-like lines or the cartoonish, yet expressive face of the lion. Whatever, this is a delightful story to share one-on-one or as a read aloud for the pre-school and lower elementary grades. 

So, is the art trending backwards or are these three just an interesting coincidence?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Odin's Ravens by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr

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

Blackwell Pages #2. 352 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, May 13, 2014. 9780316204989.

Publisher synopsis: Seven kids, Thor's hammer, and a whole lot of Valkyries are the only things standing against the end of the world.
When thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse god Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world. No problem, right?
But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer, and stop the apocalypse--a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and larger-than-life monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.

I can't believe it was just this past February that I read the arc of Loki's Wolves, book one in this exciting new series. I never did blog a review, but I did booktalk it at my school and the book circulates briskly.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Eight Dolphins of Katrina: a true tale of survival

by Janet Wyman Coleman. Illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. unpgd. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, August, 2013. 9780547719238. (Borrowed from public library.)

In the wake that was the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, this is the story of the improbable rescue of eight dolphins who were born in captivity but swept out into the Gulf of Mexico when a 40-foot wave destroyed their tank. The gorgeous photograph of two playful dolphins on the cover may cause one to expect a photo-essay. Indeed, I looked twice to see if this was a Scientist in the Field entry. Instead, watery paintings illustrate the story of storm preparations, disaster and recovery efforts. It's a short and gentle story for younger readers.

The second part of the book discusses instances where dolphins saved human life. An "exclusive" scrap book of the 
dolphins before and after their rescue concludes the volume.

It was nice to see how the trainers cared for and about the dolphins who, having been raised in captivity, had no survival skills for life in the wild. It was incredible that the dolphins found each other and stayed together in the Gulf. Just as incredible was their willingness to learn new tricks in order to assist in their rescue.

The illustrations fit the stories nicely. The photographs in the scrapbook were well-chosen. This real-life rescue story will appeal to animal lovers.

Non-fiction Monday is hosted this week by Jean Little Library.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Numbed by David Lubar

143 p. Lerner Publishing Group, October, 2013.  9781467705943. (Borrowed from the public library)

Logan and Benedict are back. Logan is charged with keeping Benedict in line during a visit to a math museum. Benedict is immediately bored. wanders away from the class and discovers a door marked, "Closed to the Public." Of course, he enters, so Logan must as well. They encounter a friendly enough researcher named Dr. Thagoras, who is working on a robot that he introduces as Cypher. Cypher loves numbers and since Benedict does not, the two get into a bit of a tiff, which seems to short circuit the robot. While Dr. T is out of the room, Benedict decides to really let Cypher know what he thinks about math, so Cypher zaps the two boys. All the math they both have learned is gone. And there's a big math test in a few days!

Wordster Lubar proves he's equally adept at playing with numbers as he is playing with words. I really enjoyed Punished (2007) and chose to read it aloud to my middle grade classes then. I didn't blog about it because I hadn't started blogging yet. It was fun to revisit with Logan and Benedict though, as a math-phobe, I got a little numbed trying to follow the math in the book. Still, I'm passing this one on to the fifth grade math teachers as a read aloud suggestion. Why should LA teachers have all the fun/ responsibility of reading aloud? 

Give this one to students who want a short, funny read or students who love numbers. The book stands alone but be sure to check out Punished if you don't already know it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Tortoise and the Hare by Jerry Pinkney

unpgd. Little, Brown and Company, October, 2013. 978031618567. (Purchased.)

Really, after five starred reviews from all the major professional review journals, what can I add that would be new, helpful or instructive? Nothing. Except my admiration for the artist whose creative output shows no sign of diminishing. And the world is a better place for it. Knock, knock, knock. Caldecott Committee? I do hope this is on the pile to be seriously discussed come January.

Mr. Pinkney returns to Aesop for inspiration and he sets the famous race in the American southwest. As he explains in the author note, The Tortoise and the Hare was a favorite of his growing up, especially as a dyslexic child, who had extra obstacles to overcome. He also explains his reason for setting the race in the southwest. Please do not skip reading the note when you read the book. And, please reread this nearly wordless wonder more than once. 

The mixed media, graphite watercolor, colored pencil, gouache and pastel illustrations beg to be read slowly. Pore over each page and pick out details you missed in earlier readings. Notice the slow unfolding of the moral of the fable on the pages featuring the tortoise. Notice the repetition and signatory red of the new word. Curl up with a beloved little one to share this. Share it with emerging readers. Share it with ESL students of any age. Share it in middle school LA and or art class. Share it. It's a keeper.

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.

For review:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. 225 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, May, 2014. 9780375989940.

Publisher synopsis: A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Fantastic blurbs by the likes of John Green, Lauren Myracle, Robin Wasserman and Scott Westerfeld.

New Kid by Tim Green. 307 p. HarperCollins Publishers, March, 2014. 9780062208729.

Publisher synopsis: In this baseball novel from New York Times bestselling author Tim Green, it's hard to be the new kid, both on and off the field. Perfect for fans of Mike Lupica or Dan Gutman's Baseball Card Adventure series.
Tommy's the new kid in town—who now goes by the name Brock—and he's having a hard time fitting in. Thanks to a prank gone wrong, he may be able to settle in on the baseball team. But can he prove himself before he becomes a new kid . . . again? New York Times bestselling author and former NFL defensive end Tim Green delivers another baseball tale with sports action and emotional heart that will keep kids on the edge of their seats.
I recently shared on FB that I've been undergoing cancer treatment since July. I had mixed feelings about doing so and have only alluded to it here. After I did, I received many private and public messages of support, which really did a lot to lift my spirits. Author friend, Jordan Sonnenblick, went a step further and sent me a care package of these books, donated and signed by some his author friends. I am so humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. My treatments take hours. I'm always waiting for my doctor before the treatment. (Bloodwork and he has lots of patients) I've been able to read at least a book on those days. Thank you Jordan. And thank you to David Lubar, April Henry, Cynthia Lord, Pete Hautman, Melissa Walker, Donna Gephart, and C.J. Hill. I'm looking forward to reading all of these.

  That's it for me. What's new with you? Happy reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

What's on My Hold Shelf?

Travis Jonker hosts an occasional meme where he asks us to share the titles on our hold shelf. I'm always interested to see what's hot in other school and public libraries. I didn't get my picture taken in time to participate but here it is anyway:

Allegiant, the final book of Veronica Roth's dystopian trilogy that began with Divergent, is in demand, as is the next installment of Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus. Rounding out the new releases that are hot is The Screaming Staircase, the first in a series called, Lockwood & Co. by Jonathan Stroud.

Older titles that continue to be popular are Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie and the Middle School series by James Patterson.

Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

unpgd. Candlewick Press, December 10, 2013. 978-0-7636-6130-4. (Review copy courtesy of publisher)

My first thought upon viewing the luscious cover of this debut picture book by artist/ sculptor Rosy Lamb, was of Tadpole's Promise, Jeanne Willis' 2008 sly masterpiece about star-crossed, inter-species love.
Bear with me now. Yes, the cover colors are similar and we've got the main characters gazing longingly at each other, but, clearly, the styles are quite different. But that's what popped into my head. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

My next thought, after viewing the first few pages, was that this would be a rather typical story of friendship or love. You see, Paul's in a bit of a bowl-shaped rut. He spends his hours swimming in circles and the only variation on the routine seems to be the direction in which he is swimming. 

The oil paintings are spare and creamy with simple lines and smudges that imply movement. The colors are calming. There's really not much going on in Paul's world. Then Bernadette drops in and she immediately rocks it. This upheaval is reflected in the colors of the fish bowl as well as its size. Two fish are sharing the same small bowl, but it now it suddenly seems bigger and brighter. 

As Bernadette observes Paul's circular swimming, she asks, "Haven't you ever noticed that there's a whole world out there?" She points out a pair of bananas on a blue plate and asks what Paul thinks that yellow thing is. Paul mumbles non-commitally and Bernadette asserts that it is a boat. But she's not done. A vase of flowers is a forest, an alarm clock is a cactus and so on. Bernadette puts new meaning into the phrase, "Often wrong, but never in doubt." Even as she confidently corrects Paul when he identifies fried eggs. "Are you crazy?" says Bernadette..."That is the sun and the moon!"

That's it. Paul is smitten. "And you, Bernadette, are my star." A match made in heaven. I am smitten as well. This is a 2013 favorite. It's a book that makes me wish I had some younglings to read aloud to just to observe the expression on their faces as they get the jokes. It's a book that I'm buying for my own personal library. It's a book I'm buying as gifts for my teacher friends who teach lower elementary students.

PS: Be sure and take a look at the final painting on the back cover. I'm thinking that the art teacher at my school might have fun with this one too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight titles we are eagerly anticipating.

432 p. HarperCollins Publishers, April 1, 2014. 9780062280671.

Publisher synopsis:  I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?

Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.

I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

First of all, I love the cover. Secondly, it's a debut. Can't wait for this one.

What are you waiting on?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Non-Fiction Monday: Anubis Speaks! A guide to the Afterlfe by the Egyptian God of the Dead

by Vicky Alvear Shecter. Illustrated by Antoine Revoy. Secrets of the Ancient Gods series. 116 p. Boyds Mills Press, October, 2013. 9781590789957. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

With much warning and caution about the possibility of being frightened and grossed out, first by the publisher, then by Anubis himself, the jackel-headed, snarky god of the dead guides us into the duat to begin our tour of the Underworld. Oops, Egyptian afterworld. He relates a brief overview of Egyptian history and the importance of the Nile river to Egyptian survival. Then, it's on to Ra's creation myth and the now indelible image of human-creation via Ra's giant loogies.

There's an awful lot of information packed into this slim volume as the reader travels through the twelve hours of Ra's nightly journey, filled, as promised with lots of gore and blood. A guide to the gods and demons, a glossary and extensive list of sources conclude the volume. The cover art is attention-grabbing but the interior black and white spreads are uneven, a few are a bit muddy, but most are serviceable, if a tad flat.

Of course, this begs pairing with Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles. Kids who are curious about Egyptian mythology will find much to enjoy in Anubis Speaks!

I really enjoyed the author's biography of Cleopatra as well as her YA fiction, Cleopatra's Moon. Her knowledge of Egypt seems well-researched and encyclopedic, but more importantly, she can tell a darn good story. I am looking forward to the next installment in this series, Hades  Speaks. 

Author blog entry about the book.

Other blog reviews:

Non-fiction Monday is hosted by NC Teacher Stuff today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

84 p. Wordsong/ Boyds Mills Press, September, 2013. 9781590789858. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher)

Gabby is a daydreamer, like her father. She never knows what will send her tripping into her daydream world, but she finds refuge in it when her parents' fighting escalates. When they divorce and she and her mom move and she starts a new school, she finds she is happier there than where she should be:

To these kids,/ I'm not Gabby yet./ I'm just Shy Girl/ Who lives/ Inside Her Head.

Living with just her mother now seems to intensify the scrutiny, especially as Gabby realizes that being so much like her father probably displeases her mother.

Favorite Words

Mine: Pretend.
Mom's: Practical.
All we have in common
is the letter P.

Gabby likes her new teacher but is embarrassed about being called out about her daydreaming. So she puts them away and does her best to be in this world. Only it gets her down and after a while Mr. Spicer notices and asks to have his daydreamer back. He promises that if she try to focus during lessons, he will build some daydreaming time into class each day. It is this gift as well as the discovery of a like-minded potential friend that lifts Gabby's spirits.

Four weeks have passed/ and my notebook is thick/ with daydreams./ Funny how much better/ I'm doing in school./

Words with Wings is spare and lovely and filled with moving and poignant moments. It would make a perfect read-aloud in that it is rather brief but very powerful, apt to spark some interesting class discussion and/ or reflection, and could be used as inspiration for a writing unit.

Highly recommended. This is another 2013 favorite.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jack Strong Takes a Stand by Tommy Greenwald

226 p. Roaring Brook Press, September, 2013. 9781596438361. (Purchased) 

Middle schooler Jack Strong is one busy fellow. He works hard to get decent grades, but that's not enough for his dad or his college resume. So his after-school and weekend hours are filled with activities that are meant to "round" Jack out and make him more interesting until he finds his "thing." He likes cello and baseball enough but can do without Chinese school, swimming and karate. After a week in which he's unable to attend a party, get free ice cream with the most popular girl in school and grab pizza with his team after hitting the game-winning RBI, Jack decides to go on strike. He sits down on the couch and refuses to get up, except to eat and go to the bathroom, until his parents allow him to drop the activities he doesn't enjoy. His grandmother is supportive, his dad refuses to negotiate and his mom is stuck in the middle. After a piece about his strike hits the high school newspaper, a local t.v. host picks it up and events begin to spiral out of control.

While this very well could've been an "issue" book, in Tommy Greenwald's able hands, it's thoughtfully humorous. And, after three wonderful books featuring my favorite non-reader, it's nice to see Greenwald explore other characters and themes. So spread your author-wings Tommy Greenwald, we librarians need more of your books to make our young patrons happy!

Jack Strong is just about as far away from Charlie Joe Jackson as the north pole is from the south pole. Jack enjoys school, he attends all of the activities his father arranges rather agreeably until he gets tired and wants some time to chill out and do nothing once in a while. Indeed, during his time on the couch, he quickly learns that even video games can become boring. But he and his father share a stubborn streak and the two become entrenched.

Greenwald maintains a light touch with all this drama and there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. His characters sound like middle school students. Plentiful spot art enliven the action. Jack's dilemma will resonate with over-scheduled readers and reluctant readers alike. 

Jack Strong Takes a Stand is a must-purchase for school and public libraries and is a 2013 favorite of mine.