Friday, August 31, 2018

Taking Stock - August, 2018

Total Books: 53/ 249
Total Posts: 40!
Total Reviews: 19!

Debut: 1/ 10
Audio: 12/ 57
Picture Books: 21/ 83

The Good: Got a lot of reading AND reviewing done this month!

The Bad: Nothing! It was a productive month. I read most of the picture book biographies that I am adding to my sixth grade unit. I have about eight more to read before the kids come back to school on Thursday. 

The List: August

197. A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig (8/1)
198. Lost Soul, Be at Peace by Maggie Thrash (8/2)
199. Everland by Wendy Spinale (8/2)*
200. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash (8/3)
201. The Swap by Megan Shull (8/4)
202. Pride: the story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders (8/4)
203. The Icarus Show by Sallie Christie (8/5)
204. Thank You, Omu! By Oge Mora (8/6)
205. Shaking Things Up: 14 young women who changed the world by Susan Hood (8/7)
206. The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue (8/8)
207. It’s Show and Tell Dexter! By Lindsay Ward (8/10)
208. Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider (8/11)
209. Who Eats Orange? By Dianne White (8/12)
210. Irving Berlin: the immigrant boy who made America sing by Nancy Churnin (8/12)
211. Write on Irving Berlin by Leslie Kimmelman (8/12)
212. Tool School by Joan Holub (8/13)
213. Old MacDonald Had a Farm by Gris Grimly (8/13)
214. Jack and the Beanstalk and the French Fries by Mark Teague (8/13)
215. Back to School with Bigfoot by Samantha Berger and Martha Brockenbrough (8/13)
216. Monster’s New Undies by Samantha Berger (8/13)
217. Mary McScary by R.L. Stine (8/13)
219. The Speaker by Traci Chee (8/15)*
220. Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig (8/16)(SLJ review)
221. We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (8/16)*
222. Dead Fathers Club by Matt Haig (8/18)
223. Alabama Spitfire: the story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird by Bethany Hegedus (8/18)
224. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (8/19)
225. Grandma Gatewood Hikes the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Thermes (8/20)
226. The 5 O’Clock Band by Troy Andrews (8/20)*
227. Small Things by Mel Tregonning (8/20)
228. Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier (8/21)**
230. Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson (8/22)(audio reread)
231. Come August, Come Freedom by Gigi Amateau (8/23)
232. A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (8/25)
233. The Bad Guys in Alien vs Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey (8/25)
234. Just Being Jackie by Margaret Cardillo (8/26)
235. Illegal by Eoin Colfer (8/26)*
236. Monster Mayhem by Christopher Eliopoulos (8/27)
237. Reading in the Dark: using film as a tool in the English classroom by John Golden (8/28)
238. Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey (8/28)
239. Sisters & Champions by Howard Bryant (8/28)
240. The Rough Patch by Brian Lies (8/29)**
241. Drawn Together by Minh Le (8/29)
242. Walt’s Imagination: the life of Walt Disney by Doreen Rappaport (8/29)
243. Mr. Wolf’s Class by Aron Nels Steinke (8/29)
244. Eavesdropping on Elephants by Patricia Newman (8/30)*
245. Evil Emperor Penguin Strikes Back! By Laura Ellen Anderson (8/30)
246. Game Changers: the story of Venus and Serena Williams (8/30)
247. Between the Lines: how Ernie Barnes went from the football field to the art gallery by Sandra Neil Wallace (8/30)
248. Eraser by Anna Kang (8/31)*
249. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (8/31)* (Audio reread)

Picture Book Blog Tour and Review: Eraser by Anna Kang

Eraser by Anna Kang. Illustrated by Christopher Weyant. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, September 1, 2018. 9781503902589. (Review of finished copy courtesy of Blue Slip Media.)

Happy book birthday tomorrow to Eraser by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant. Prepare to fall in love with school supplies as the duo who brought us You are (Not) Small; That's (Not) Mine and I am (Not) Scared return to induce giggles and groans and, perhaps reassure young perfectionists that making mistakes is not a disaster. 

The story starts on the title page, so don't move too quickly past it. Actually, stop and take a really close look at the title on the cover. Genius!

Eraser sure is busy making sure everyone else look good. Pencil is a bit of a glory hog. She sits at the cool table with all the writing utensils, paint brushes and highlighters. Eraser grumps to her friends Sharpener and Ruler that it isn't fair that they get credit for being creative. Eraser is even a bit jealous of Tape and Glue for their ability to bring everyone together. She wants more. 

When lunch is over and everyone is called together to work on a new project, she tries to join the creative meeting but is turned away. Undaunted, she comes up with an idea and works through the night on it only to have it unintentionally ruined! No matter what she tries to do, Pencil and her crew laugh at her. So Eraser decides to leave. She packs her belongings into a mint container and exits in the most hilarious way possible. She ends up in the waste basket where she finds appreciation and realizes that, "Mistakes make us great!"

Back at creativity central, things are not going well.

What a great back-to-school read aloud! Grab this book and a kid or a class and get ready to have some fun. Kang's puns and Weyant's signature expressive and energetic art are sure to please. Young readers will delight in finding all the humorous little details and may relate to some of the "class" dynamics going on. 

According to the press release, this story was inspired by an essay their daughter wrote while in third grade. "The assignment was to write from the perspective of someone" and their daughter wrote about an eraser who wanted to create. Kate granted permission for her parents to use her idea and four years later, we have Eraser!

As usual, a visit to Anna Kang's website will yield a link to an activity kit, so be sure to stop there. And take a look at the adorable book trailer!

Fact Friday and Review: Eavesdropping on Elephants by Patricia Newman

Eavesdropping on Elephants: how listening helps conservation by Patricia Newman. 56 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, August 1, 2018. 9781541515710. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Science writer supreme, Patricia Newman's latest book brings to life the work of Katy Payne, who started Cornell University Elephant Listening Project back in 1984. After working for fifteen years studying whale sounds, she turned her attention to deciphering elephant sounds. "Katy wondered if African elephants also used infrasound. Biologists who study them had always marveled that elephant families separated by miles seem to stay in touch with one another." (p. 11) After studying Asian elephants in the Washington Park Zoo, Katy and her team spent five years recording savanna elephants in Zimbabwe. Eventually, she teamed up with an elephant researcher named Andrea Turkalo to explore these questions; "Could acoustic eavesdropping uncover more about forest elephants' habits? Could it help protect them? And could the combination of sound and behavior help scientists decode what elephants are saying to one another?" (P. 14)

With her usual narrative flair, Newman's accessible prose sifts years of complicated research into manageable bites of information accompanied by at least one full-color, well-captioned photos on every page. As usual, the publisher's design team found cool colors and design elements to tie the pages together. In this case, backgrounds in green tones and sound waves pulsing from one page to the next. There are maps to orient the reader and text boxes with charts to explain concepts. There are also elephant-shaped QR codes that readers can scan to watch videos and listen to sound clips! For those without a QR code app, there is a url for access. This extra content adds punch.

Newman always encourages young readers to be proactive in her books by providing tips for environmental stewardship. Backmatter includes a spotlight on Taegen Yardley, who as a middle school student, was inspired by the documentary, Battle for the Elephants, to advocate for elephant conservation and protection against poachers. There are two pages of source notes; a glossary and two pages of books and websites recommended for further reading, making this a great source for student research. 

Eavesdropping on Elephants is a spectacular STEM addition to any school, classroom or public library. It does double duty, as most of Newman's books do, to not only advocate for conservation efforts but highlights real scientists and their work in the field. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: Dog Man Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey. 256 p. Graphix/ Scholastic Inc., August 28, 2018. 9780545935173. (Review of purchased copy.)

Well, regular readers of my humble blog can skip my Saturday, "What's New? Stacking the Shelves" post. I picked this up at a little indie on the island called The Bookworm, set Saturday's post up and ended up diving right in instead of reading from my bag of beach reading.

No offense to this amazing pile of books. I have actually read about 10 off the pile already and will read each and every one over the next week (or two) with the attention they deserve. Come on, Dog Man! How could I resist bumping it to the top?

Stacking posts usually contain the publisher synopsis, which I copy and paste; but Dog Man #5 had nothing. Didn't need no publisher synopsis! Hey! It's Dog Man. Dog Man = automatic purchase of multiple copies for me and most libraries. Since I was spending my own money instead of my school's, I just bought one.

A new Dog Man needs no reviews either. Nothing I write will add to or detract from sales. I write out of sheer love and gratitude for Dav Pilkey's genius. I thank Dav Pilkey for giving dormant readers a place to thrive. I thank him for making all readers laugh and not take things too seriously. As a teacher, I thank him for the reminder that those "difficult" kids need affection, attention and respect. 

So, Dog Man, Cat Kid and 80-HD are happily cohabiting, inventing, eating and playing at superheroes when Kitty Protective Services comes calling and removes Cat Kid from the home. Cat Kid is not fooled though. Petey has broken out of prison yet again, disguised himself and is determined to prove to Cat Kid that he's a real bad guy. He reveals a trauma from his childhood (the Lord of the Flies reference) that has defined who he is today; but Cat Kid still insists that there is good in Petey and peppers him with "knock-knock jokes."

The story zigs and zags all over the place. Energetic colorful panels zig and zag as well. Flip-o-ramas add interest and will stress the pages of well-worn library copies. A coda assures readers that the next Dog Man adventure is in the works, Dog Man Brawl of the Wild. As usual, Pilkey shares tips on how to draw his characters in ridiculously easy steps. Notes inform readers of literature that inspired parts of this book. The final pages are a kind of graphic PSA about the benefits of reading, reading aloud to your kid and a wonderful program where children read aloud to animals. 

The series remains fresh and funny and surely a must-purchase addition to any library.

#tbt: Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Old Yeller by Fred Gipson. 176 p. HarperCollins Publishers, July, 1956. 97800660115456. (Own)

#tbt features a tear jerker. Old Yeller was written by Fred Gipson and published in 1956. It was awarded a Newbery Honor in 1957. It was also adapted by Walt Disney in 1957. Old Yeller is the story of a young boy named Travis, who is the "man of the house" while his dad is working on a cattle drive in the late 1800s. When a scruffy stray wanders onto the ranch and won't leave, Travis names the dog Yeller, partly because of his yellow fur and partly because the dog sounded like he was yelling when he barked. Travis didn't like the dog much but grew to admire his courage after Yeller saved his younger brother from a bear and his mother from a wolf. I am unable to read this story without sobbing. Gipson wrote two companion novels, Savage Sam and Little Arliss.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Picture Book Review: The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies. unpgd. Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, August, 2018. 9780062671271. (Review from finished copy borrowed from public library while I wait for my own to come.)

As I stood waiting for my purchases to be totalled at Blue Bunny Books in early August, I spied this book with a little note sticking out saying that Brian Lies was signing the following week. 

I felt momentary regret at not being able to attend, but took solace in reading the book while I waited. I asked Margie, the bookseller if I could buy it (despite the "display only" message;-). Alas, it was still a week before the publication date and she could not. I went home and put it on my school book order. #nevertoooldforpicturebooks.

Well. I borrowed it from the public library while waiting for my order to be approved, processed and sent. I could not wait to read it again. I'll Love You Forever by Hans Wilhelm (Crown, 1985) and Badger's Parting Gifts by Susan Varley (Lothrop, Lee & Shephard, 1984) are my two favorite picture books dealing with loss. This makes my third. 

It is perfect. The text is spare, powerful and moving. The acrylic, oil and colored pencil illustrations are absorbing. The reader rollicks and frolics along with Evan and his dog in a series of joyful spot art. Then, the unthinkable happens. Lies' use of white space here is extraordinary. 

Evan is in a dark place. He's sad and angry, allowing readers to own similar feelings. He destroys his garden and it becomes dark and scary and prickly and uncomfortable. Once he allows a pumpkin vine to establish itself, Evan slowly starts to care again. He nurtures it and when it ripens into a truly magnificent specimen, Evan is ready to return to the world again, so he enters the pumpkin into the fair. Realistically, he does not win, but he reconnects with friends and enjoys himself. The prize money comes with a bonus, which Evan doesn't feel ready for; but he relents. And I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding.

This is a picture book for any age. Anyone who has experienced loss will see himself or herself in Evan. Share widely and listen when your young readers share their own thoughts about The Rough Patch or their own rough patch. What an incredible gift this is. Buy it and share it. 

Waiting on Wednesday: The Golden Tower (Magisterium #5) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Golden Tower (Magisterium #5) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. 256 p. Scholastic Inc., September 11, 2018. 9780545522403.

Publisher synopsis: There really isn't any. But there doesn't need to be. It's book five! Anyone who has kept with the series is on board and panting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Teen Tuesday and review: Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin. Illustrated by Giovanni Rigano. Lettering byChris Dickey. 138 p. Sourcebooks/ Jabberwock, August, 2018. 9781492662143. (Review from purchased finished copy.)

Readers meet twelve-year-old Ebo shivering and wet, huddled in an overcrowded raft in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean. The group are hoping they are on course to land in Italy and argue whether the moon should be to their left or their right. They are running out of fuel and hope as they realize they will soon be adrift when that happens. Chapter two flashes back nineteen months to Ebo in his village as he realizes that his brother has left to immigrate to Europe. His sister left months earlier. Now Ebo will be left alone with an alcoholic uncle. 

The action switches from "now" to "then" in alternating chapters, with the palette for "now" done in blue hues and "then" done in browns and greens. Ebo is determined and resilient. He finds a way to travel to the city without stealing from his uncle. Against all odds, he reunites with his brother and the two work hard and live in a storm drain to save money to buy passage to Europe. This involves a trek across the desert without enough water as well as being cheated by their smugglers.

The harsh realities of the boys' life is offset by the love and devotion they have for each other and Ebo's eternal optimism. But this is a heartbreaking and intense read. It is also important for young people, especially those in first-world countries, to read and understand that the refugee crisis is real and that refugees are people, not statistics or faceless monsters. 

The art is often quite moving and many panels arrest the eye and cause the reader to linger or return. 

There are quite a number of fans of Alan Gratz's Refugee at my school. I am sure they will be interested in reading Illegal as soon as school starts again. Illegal is a must-read, must-purchase, must-share book.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and arc review: Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier

Sweep: the story of a girl and her monster by Jonathan Auxier. 368 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, September 25, 2018. 9781419731402. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Oh! My, my, my, my, my! How much do I adore this book? I love it so much, I was ready to turn back to page one and begin again as soon as I finished it. I love it so much I plan to reread it with my ears as soon as the audio is released. Note to self: do not make this my car audiobook. Tears and driving do not mix. Neither do tears and reading mix. It is very hard to read through tears and the occasional sob.

Yes, reader, there will be tears, many tears. As a matter of fact, I thought that I would read this in one sitting, but could not because it hurt too much. I had to set the book aside a few times. But that does not mean it is not utterly engrossing. Just emotionally intense. 

Nan Sparrow is a chimney sweep and a good one at that. She learned from the best, her mentor and father figure, the Sweep; but he has been gone from her life for so long. She holds out hope that he will return, but no one else does. She carries very few possessions, one being a small piece of charcoal that the Sweep gave her. The other being his hat. She is now indentured to Mister Wilkie Crudd, one of the most vile and aptly named antagonists in children's literature.

Nan is admired by the boys in Crudds' crew but she holds herself apart, unwilling to invest in caring. She is rather unsuccessfully trying not to care about Newt, the newest, smallest and youngest sweep. She is the best sweep around, much to lead boy, Roger's chagrin. When she gets stuck in a chimney, she is horrified to learn that Roger is going to use "the Devil's nudge" to loosen Nan. This would've surely resulted in Nan's death except that the small piece of charcoal blazes to life and saves her.

She awakens in an attic burned but alive to find a child-sized soot creature watching over her. She names him Charlie. She is content to lie low, allowing everyone to presume she is dead. She knows that Crudd will search high and low for her when a body fails to be recovered from the ashes of the chimney fire. For now, she and Charlie are safe in the attic of an abandoned home. Eventually, she learns that Charlie is probably a golem and golems exist only for one purpose. When that purpose is served, the golem is no more. How much time do Nan and Charlie have? Will Crudd find her? How is it that society does nothing about the abuse of child laborers in Victorian England? 

The writing is perfectly gorgeous. The Victorian England setting is vivid and the characters are memorable. While the prose is sophisticated and nuanced, the story is accessible for readers who just want an adventure. Author Jonathan Auxier's storytelling is impressive. I loved Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Sophie Quire and The Night Gardener. He has outdone himself here. 

Sweep is a first-purchase. Talk it up, share it widely and hope that the Newbery committee and all the other year-end "best books" committees are reading it. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

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:

The Law of Finder's Keepers by Sheila Turnage. A Mo & Dale Mystery. 358 p. Kathy Dawson Books/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September, September 11, 2018. 9780803739628.

Publisher synopsis: The heart-warming conclusion to the beloved Mo & Dale Mysteries by Newbery Honor author Sheila Turnage featuring the most shocking case yet!

Pirate fever sweeps through the town after an opportunistic treasure hunter shows up looking to lay claim to Blackbeard’s lost gold buried somewhere in Tupelo Landing. When the (probably) world-famous Desperado Detectives–Mo and Dale and Harm–are hired by Mayor Little’s mother to find the pirate loot for her, and the high-stakes race for riches is on!  

But that’s not the only treasure hunt in town. Mo LoBeau unearths shocking new clues that may lead to her long-lost Upstream Mother–in the riskiest, scariest, and possibly richest case of her life.  
Will Mo find her Upstream Mother? Can the Desperados sidestep Blackbeard’s curse and outsmart a professional treasure hunter? Will Dale faint under the pressure of Valentine’s Day?   

Could the stakes be any higher? Yes. With twin treasures hanging in the balance, Mo, Dale, and Harm realize one of them may have to leave Tupelo Landing. For good.

I just adore Mo and Dale. Can't wait to read but a bit sad that this is the final book in the series.

Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September 4, 2018. 9781536201697.

Publisher synopsis: Attractive and informative, this celebration of magnificent birds around the world will set hearts soaring — a perfect gift for avid bird-watchers and art lovers alike.

From the bird of paradise that performs an extravagant courtship dance in the rain forest to the bar-tailed godwit that flies thousands of miles across the ocean without stopping, readers can learn about incredible birds from all over the world with this strikingly illustrated gift book. In stylish linocut prints, Narisa Togo captures the beauty of both rare and familiar winged creatures from every part of the globe, presenting Japanese cranes, kakapos from New Zealand, and Andean flamingoes among the fourteen graceful birds on display.

Cats Vs. Robots #1: This is War by Margaret Stohl and Lewis Peterson. 307 p. Katherine Tegen Books/ HarperCollins Publishers, September 4, 2017. 9780062665706.

Publisher synopsis: #1 New York Times bestselling author Margaret Stohl and Lewis Peterson’s hilarious middle grade debut has it all: robot overlords, secret feline agents, and earthling humans who are in for a real catastrophe.

With examples of why coding is fun and other STEM applications cleverly woven into this fun and thoughtful story about looking beyond binary terms, this is the perfect novel for fans of House of Robots andThe Tapper Twins.    

The Robot Federation and the Feline Empire have been at war for eons. And now that fight is coming to a tiny primitive planetoid…Earth. The mission for both cats and robots: retrieve the Singularity Chip. With it, cats can live past their nine lives, and robots are granted eternal battery life.

Meanwhile, twin siblings Max and Min Wengrod are as different as can be. Min always gets good grades, and she loves to read and build robots. Max hates school, and prefers to play games and spend time online with friends.

When Max rescues two kittens and is determined to keep them, Min is horrified that these furballs could ruin her chances at the Battle of the Bots competition. But with hidden forces at play in their own house, and the larger war between cats and robots  fast approaching, will the twins be able to put aside their differences before they get caught in the crossfire?  

Storm by Sam Usher. unpgd. Templar Books/ Candlewick Press, August, 2018. 9781536202823. 

Publisher synopsis: A storm is brewing and the wind is picking up, so a boy and his grandfather decide it's the perfect weather for kite flying. There’s just one problem: they have to find the kite! Their search brings up many wonderful memories of previous adventures together, and when they finally make it outside, their adventure really takes off!

I did so love Rain and Snow and can't wait to read the next adventure of a boy and his granddad.

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein. unpgd. Candlewick Press, September 11, 2018. 9780763688424.

Publisher synopsis: Surprise! The little red chicken is back — and as endearingly silly as ever — in David Ezra Stein’s follow-up to the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.

I adored Interrupting Chicken and am so glad she's back!

Purchased: Nothing!

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Fact Friday: Made for Each Other: why dogs and people are perfect partners by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Made for Each Other: why dogs and people are perfect partners by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent. 61 p. Crown Books for Young Readers/ Random House Children's Books, January, 2018. 9781101931042. (Review of purchased copy)

This book amps up the "aw" factor with copious full-color photos of a variety of dogs and the humans who love, care and work with them on the front cover, the back cover and at least one on every single page. There are words too, but the photos really command attention. 

The author explains the history of how dogs may have been domesticated; the differences between wolves and dogs; and how dogs learn simply and accessibly. There's a section devoted to explaining a dog's devotion and apparent intelligence and a section explaining how they share our lives. The pages are attractively designed with colorful edging and fonts as well as the many photos, most of which are well-captioned. 

Backmatter includes suggested books, websites and videos as well as source notes for each chapter, additional sources, photo credits and an index.

This won't sit on the shelf, especially if it is displayed prominently. It should be useful for tween research whether for school or for trying to convince parents that it's time to add a furry family member. 

Friday Memes: The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage

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

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.

First Line: The Desperado Detective Agency's biggest case ever crept up on tiny Tupelo Landing in the dead of winter, and kicked off on the rarest of days. Unlike most of our borderline famous cases, it started with two things found.

Page 56: "Pieces of eight what?" Dale asked, grabbing a stick and raking a spiderweb away.
    "Silver coins they broke into eight bits, for change. That's why old people say a quarter's worth two bits. Get it? Two-eighths equals a quarter."
     "Pirate fractions," Dale muttered. "That's just wrong."

I just love these books! The voice, the characters, the humor and the setting are all just so memorable and endearing. I am participating in a blog tour the week this releases. So look for my review then.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

#tbt: The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris

The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris. 224 p. The Squire's Tales #1. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April, 1998. 9780395869598. (own)

I am a fan of retellings, especially King Arthur retellings. #tbt features The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris. This is book one in the aptly named, The Squire's Tales series. Fourteen-year-old Terrence lives in the woods with a hermit who can see the future but is unable to tell Terrence anything about his past. It is rumored that Terrence was born of fairy folk. Gawain, King Arthur's nephew comes upon Terrence and, needing a squire, offers to take Terrence along on his adventures. Morris tells the story of Gawain, a minor character from Arthurian legend from Terrence's point of view, so while much of the story may be familiar, there are twists as well as plenty of action and humor. The Squire's Tale was originally published in 1998 and Morris wrote nine more books in the series ending in 2010 with The Legend of the King.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: The Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta

The Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta. Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series #2. 384 p. Scholastic Inc. 9781338185737. February 26, 2019. 9781338185737.

Publisher synopsis: Saving the multiverse is no game.

When the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it's been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiran decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger. Everyone is running scared or imprisoned following the enactment of sudden and unfair rules of law. 

However, things are a lot less clear than the last time she was in the Kingdom Beyond. Kiran must once again solve riddles and battle her evil Serpent King father -- all while figuring out who her true friends are, and what it really means to be a hero.

I was lucky enough to attend a party for the author's debut last fall! The Serpent's Secret is a rollicking ride. Read my review of the arc here. I hope I'm on the arc list for this one!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Teen Tuesday and Audiobook Review: The Speaker by Traci Chee

The Speaker by Traci Chee. Sea of Ink and Gold #2. Unabridged audiobook on 11 compact discs. 14 hours, 12 minutes. Read by Kim Mai Guest. Listening Library, November, 2017. 9780525495277. (Review from audio borrowed from the public library. Own the hardcover.)

Teen Tuesday features The Speaker by Traci Chee. Astute TMS Readers may recall that I featured The Storyteller a couple of weeks back on a Waiting-on-Wednesday post. I was reminded that I had not read The Speaker when I realized that the conclusion to the trilogy was on the horizon and borrowed the audiobook from the public library. No second book slump here! 

Archer and Sefia are on the run. Archer is tormented by nightmares of his time as prisoner of the impressors, where he was forced to kill or be killed. Sefia is trying to plan their next move. They stumble upon a gang of impressors and decide to fight them and free the boys that are being held. The boys pledge their loyalty to Archer who vows to hunt down each impressor crew and free their captives. As Archer's fame as leader of the freed fighters grows, Sefia worries that Archer might be the warrior the Guard is looking for. 

Plenty of threads are tied together here as the reader learns more about other colorful characters like, Captain Reed and Jules, and Tannen (spelling?) and even Sefia's parents' stories. But just as those connections are made, new threads emerge to follow, new mysteries and new betrayals. There are also new characters introduced and some deaths to mourn. Yes, there were tears. Sefia's world is dark and brutal. There is a lot of violence and one wonders how either Sefia or Archer will emerge unscathed.

Readers who love rich fantasy will have no trouble immersing themselves into The Reader. I do not recommend that you start with The Speaker, the story, saga really, is too involved to truly appreciate without having read the first book.

Kim Mai Guest is becoming a favorite narrator of mine. She has a nice range of voices and pacing. She can also ramp up the excitement and not sacrifice the clarity of her reading. That said, I think I will be reading The Storyteller with my eyes. As I mentioned in my review of The Reader, there is a story within a story that is sometimes not obvious when listening. Also, there's a map! Maps are helpful.Then there's the issue of the spelling of character names. Finally, there were plenty of times that I was so surprised that, were I reading with my eyes, I would've flipped the pages back to reread. Now, you might argue that I can rewind the audio and, sometimes I do, but it's not quite the same. 

Even though I love to read arcs and new releases, sometimes it's nice to be a bit behind in my reading. The reveals in The Speaker have me panting for the next book. Now, I don't have to wait too long!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Review: Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. 224 p. Feiwel & Friends, May, 2018. 9781250304148. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher)

Can you imagine waiting five years for a friend to return? A friend that didn't even say goodbye? Waiting in a closet? In a chicken suit? Middle Grade Monday features Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. Both authors have lots of fans at TMS and they teamed up together to write Bob, which was illustrated by Nicholas Gannon. 

It has been five years since Livy has visited her grandmother in Australia. She lives in Massachusetts and is returning to Australia for another visit. Bob is delighted to see her, but is quickly dismayed because she doesn't remember him! He has been waiting five long years for her to help him find his way back to his home! 

This is a short, sweetly touching story of being lost and then found. The characters are endearing. The mystery intrigues. It is perfectly paced. The soft, sepia toned illustrations are just lovely. TMS' copy is signed by Rebecca Stead!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

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:

Little Man, Little Man: a story of childhood by James Baldwin. Illustrated by Yoran Cazac. 120 p. Duke University Press, August 27, 2018. 9781478000044. 

Publisher synopsis: Four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Baldwin’s only children’s book, Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood.

Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan "TJ" Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by two Baldwin scholars. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

I had no idea that James Baldwin wrote a children's book. I also have no idea how I received a copy to review, but I am very grateful and interested in reading this!

Eraser by Anna Kang. Illustrated by Christopher Weyant. unpgd. Two Lions/ Amazon Publishing, September 1, 2018. 9781593902589.

Publisher synopsis: Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.

Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.

I am a huge fan of Kang and Weyant and this book came with the cutest little eraser!

Purchased: Nothing! Yet. I am filling a basket on Amazon though because I got a lot of gift certificates from students. 

That's what's new with me. What's new with you? Leave a link to your haul in the comments and I will stop by.