Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, Nathan Bransford

age 9-12

    Jacob and his friends trade a corn dog for a space ship.  Once aboard the luxurious ship, they begin zooming out of the solar system in a hurry.  In a panic, Jacob and his friends cause an asteroid to collide with a planet- which collides with another planet- which collides with a few stars causing the Cosmic Space Kapow.  You would think that would be enough for one book, but it is just the beginning for the three friends.  They are stopped by cops, hijacked by a royal pirate, banished to a planet of dust, try to steal a huge diamond, and so much more.  If you enjoy a fast paced adventure- this book is for you.

The Secret Zoo, Ryan Chick

Grade 4-6, first book in a series of 3

Noah's sister disappears mysteriously.  His parents are worried sick...and so is he.  One night as Noah thinks about what could have happened to his sister, a bird visits him in his room.  Noah can't believe his first clue came from a bird!  His adventures are about to take an even weirder turn.  Noah and his friends begin to search for Megan in the zoo next to their house. Noah, Ella, and Ritchie discover an entirely different side to the city zoo.  Read to find out if they rescue Megan....if you dare! 

I did enjoy this story.  The Scouts (Noah, Ella, Ritchie, and missing Megan) are great characters.  I particularly loved Ella- she kicks butt!  The setting of a secret zoo is perfect for so many strange and wonderful adventures.  

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Horton Halfpott, by Tom Angleberger


Grades 4-7

    Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda, writes a clever and twisting story about a young kitchen servant way back in the days of old.  Horton Halfpott is an honest kitchen boy who works hard, doesn't steal or break the rules, and is trying to earn enough money to save his father.  That is until he meets a certain young lady, way out of his reach.  Horton suddenly is motivated to break the rules to see her again.  Meanwhile, Horton's friends from the stable are trying to solve crimes of theft around the castle.  Someone that lives there is also breaking the rules, but for a more fiendish reason.  Find out what Horton, his young lady, his friends, the thief, and Horton's father. 

     I loved the drawings in this book.  They help add to the humor that Angleberger writes with and move the story along.  The characters have many funny details that really help you visualize them.  I think it would be an enjoyable book for any tween. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sidekicks, by Jack D. Ferraiolo

Ages 12 and up (7th grade and up for content)

   Most super heroes have a trusty side kick.  Batman had Robin, Green Hornet had Kato, and Phantom Justice has Bright Boy.  Bright Boy, Scott Hutchinson, is a normal high school student...he just has a few secrets.  Instead of worrying about teenage dramas or playing sports, Scott scours the city at night for unrelenting evil.  Yet, his world is about to get very complicated.  He has an embarrassing moment when he saves a beautiful woman from falling to her death.  As the world around him is laughing at him, Scott no longer feels comfortable as Bright Boy or himself.  His relationship with Phantom Justice is also not what he thinks.  As he navigates high school, feelings of insecurity, and good vs. evil, Scott finds out who he is and what he wants.  
     Ferraiolo writes an exciting, funny twist on the super hero tales we fondly know.  I am NOT a fan of the embarrassing incident with Scott's costume.  I think it wasn't necessary because the book is already funny.  With this exposure, I can't recommend this book to 4th-6th graders. 

Jeff Corwin, The Wild Wild Southwest

The Wild, Wild Southwest!

     Jeff Corwin is know all over the world for his love of animals.  He has been working for Animal Planet working to conserve wildlife on the earth.  His show, The Jeff Corwin Experience is very popular with kids and adults both! 

    His Jeff Corwin Junior Explorer Series for young adults is an excellent first chapter book- GREAT for 3rd-4th grade!  Lucy, Benjamin, and Gabe take a trip to New Mexico to visit Gila National Park and other great National Parks.  They learn about animals and plants that are native to New Mexico.  I loved that you enjoy the story of these characters exploring the world around them- and also learn about animals and plants that I didn't know about. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz

  I LOVE this book!  It has quickly become my favorite of the summer (and that's saying something since I've read about 30 books so far...).  Adam Gidwitz has weaved a marvelous tale that you end up devouring!  Using the Grimm tales, he takes Hansel and Gretel on an amazing journey filled with beheadings, oracle crows, a faithful servant, the devil, and even a dragon.  I love how the narrator keeps warning you to stop- which if you are anything like me, makes me want to read on all the more!  Please read this book and change the way you remember fairy tales forever! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Junonia, by Kevin Henkes

  age 9-13

      Kevin Henkes writes a beautifully written tale.  Alice and her family visit Florida every year.  She has a mission to find a Junonia shell, a rare find.  Each year she looks forward to playing in the sand and surf with her "big extended family".  This year Aunt Kate brings her boyfriend and a young girl named Mallory.  Alice finds herself entertaining a sullen six year old.  Alice feels displaced and uncomfortable on her familiar trip. 
     Kevin Henkes does an excellent job of writing from Alice's perspective.  You sense her conflicting thoughts and anger.  He spins a tale that you can really relate to. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens

Lexile level- 720, age 8-12

John Stephens is a talented story teller.  He has woven a compelling story about three children who find themselves on a surprising, terrifying, exhilarating journey. Right from the beginning, this story catches you off guard.  Late on Christmas Eve, Kate, Michael, and Emma's parents reluctantly give them away to an old man who hides them in an orphanage.  The children go from one orphanage to another.  After angering their latest headmaster, they find themselves traveling to a remote city where people are strange and their new home stranger.  The new orphange only has three children in it- them. Their new headmaster, Dr. Pym has many secrets. 

I really enjoyed this story.  John Stephens really developed strong characters.  I found that I was rooting for the children throughout the book.  I would warn that the plot is SUPER twisty.  So, if you are a younger reader, you may want to keep notes (or draw pictures) to keep the events in order. 

This is the first book in a jump on now!