Friday, August 29, 2014

Flashback Friday: 26 Fairmount Avenue

Tomie dePaola has long been a favorite children's picture book author of mine. His Streganona series is hilarious and sweet. We've read dozens of his books from his Bible stories to his Native American legends. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I never even knew about his 26 Fairmount series until several months ago when I stumbled upon the first one at our local used bookstore.

26 Fairmount Avenue is the first book in dePaola's autobiographical early chapter book readers series. The story begins with the hurricane that hit his hometown of Meriden, CT in 1938 and continues through his kindergarten year until his family finally moves into their long awaited new house at 26 Fairmount Avenue. Each chapter contains a nearly independent story of an event that happened in dePaola's life during that period from spending time with his great grandmother, Nana Upstairs, to watching Disney's Snow White on the big screen and is woven with updates to the house that dePaola's family was building during that time. These events are relayed with dePaola's knack for beautiful storytelling. His ability to tell historical events through the lens of a young child brims with charm. My 7-year-old and I couldn't put the story down, and he's already asking for other books in the series to read on his own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Ellie, beginning middle school with a best friend who has just found a passion in volleyball, is dismayed over the changes happening in her life when a surly, grouchy teenager steps into her life. This teenager happens to be her grandfather, a scientist made young again as the result of an anti-aging experiment. Forced to attend school with Ellie, Melvin, her grandfather, has a contentious relationship with Ellie's mother, despite their reversed roles. Worse, he's been kicked out of his own scientific laboratory as a trespassing teenager! As Ellie tries to help her grandfather retrieve his scientific formula, she learns about famous scientists, her mother's rebellion in choosing the arts over science, and even her own proclivity toward scientific thinking.

This is the first book I've read by Jennifer L. Holm. The cover art is eye-catching and cute in this fun and engaging middle grade read. The story is charming while departing astute observations on family dynamics. Ellie's divorce parents not only parent without dysfunction, but they are actually friendly toward each other. And Ellie discovers that despite her grandfather's and mother's oil-and-water relationship, she actually identifies with her grandfather's scientific obsession. The Fourteenth Goldfish is a humorous, enjoyable, speedy read, not laden with heavy vocabulary, and filled with realistic, identifiable characters. I hope we'll see more middle grade books coming from Jennifer L. Holm!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Mercy Watson arrived in our family via my now 8th grade daughter. She was in 1st grade when she discovered the humorous porcine wonder at a book fair. There were only 3 Mercy Watson tales back then, but she devoured them with gusto. Needless to say, Mercy Watson entered my youngest son's life much earlier; one of the benefits of being the youngest sibling. He's heard Mercy Watson stories via audiobook or older siblings reading to him since he was a toddler. 

When I first showed him the ARC copy of Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, he didn't immediately make the connection. Once I informed him of the Mercy Watson connection, he gobbled up Leroy Ninker in one evening growing giddy at the sight of his beloved Mercy who makes a guest appearance.

As spin-offs go, the Deckawoo Drive characters have great promise. Under DiCamillo's skilled pen, Leroy Ninker develops a full-fledged personality, a maybe a bit of a mid-life crisis. Leroy Ninker decides that there must be more to life than working at the Bijou Drive-In Theater. He concludes that he is destined for greatness as a cowboy, and along with his hat, lasso, and boots, he works to acquire a horse, the inimitable, and highly sensitive, Maybelline. As always, DiCamillo uses fantastic vocabulary. (In what other early reader chapter book might you find both splendiferous and cogitate within pages of one another.) And Chris Van Dusen's sharp, humorous, and ever expressive illustrations are the perfect compliment to DiCamillo's storytelling.

Yippie-i-oh! We have a winner from Deckawoo Drive! Leroy Ninker Saddles Up hits bookstores tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flashback Friday: Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

The first time I stumbled upon Richard Scarry was way back in my babysitting days about 25 years ago. I remember that whichever small child I was watching at the time was completely mesmerized by all the bits of action, intricate details, and many, many captions attached to the various objects. I remember thinking, even at age 13ish, what a brilliant concept for a young children's book. Tiny vehicles, animals that drive, labels on everything...a perfect reading companion for nearly any toddler or preschooler.

Fast forward 20 years to my youngest child's toddlerhood, a child whose first word was car, who played with Matchbox cars religiously from less than one year old. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go arrived for his second birthday and remained close at hand for years. I can't even tell you how many times I read that long, long book at bedtime. (It takes serious time to read ALL. those. labels.) Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go is still a favorite that makes a frequent appearance. And I can definitely foresee it being one of those beloved books that remains on his teenage bookshelf and eventually is carried off to his adulthood to be saved for his own children someday.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Mr. Tiger is tired of his prim and proper position in the city and begins showing a few of his stripes. First by walking on all fours, soon progressing to shedding his clothes and...ROARing. *shudder* The upstanding members of his community suggest that perhaps he would be more comfortable acting wildly out in the wilderness. Mr. Tiger obliges, and although he finds the wilderness a freeing place to be wild, he soon finds that he misses his friends back in the city. He is welcomed back to town, in clothes, of course, and to his delight, he finds that some changes have occurred in his absence.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. The anthem of of children everywhere. Where do they go to unleash the wild bottled inside them? Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is an entertaining look at our desire to be recognized for who we are inside. I'm quite a fan of the dapper animals depicted in the beginning of the book, and an even bigger fan of their language, a perfectly appropriate level for children, yet indicative of the level of snootiness rampant in Mr. Tiger's city. Indeed. Unacceptable! Peter Brown's illustrations are a perfect compliment for the story. This dichromatic, rather simple style of artwork has taken off recently in children's picture books, and the results are very engaging. Mr. Tiger is no exception; from the rooftops to the buttoned up characters to the wilderness, the results are bold, bright, and humorous.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Young Knights of the Round Table

Young Knights of the Round Table:  The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello  

About the Book

Title: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom | Author: Cheryl Carpinello | Year published: April 17, 2013 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Number of pages: 120 | Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions.
At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales,11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man's life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.  


2013 EVVY Finalist and EVVY Merit Award for Juvenile/Young Adult from Colorado Independent Publishers Assoc.
2013 Ariana Cover Finalist
2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children's Literary Classics and the CLC's 2012 Seal of Approval.
2012 Finalist E-Book Children from USA 2012 Best Book Awards


Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iBookstore

Smashwords * MuseItUp Publishing


Free Educational Supplement

Visit the Wise Owl Factory for a FREE study guide. Click on the image below.
Young Knights Teaching Supplement - Wise Owl Factory  

The Buzz About the Book

"Young Knights of the Round Table is a short, fast-paced adventure set in Arthurian times which features great character development, an intriguing and engaging plot, and a surprise ending (in more ways than one!). I would highly recommend this book to tween and teen boys and girls who love mysteries or stories set in the time of King Arthur." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
"I so enjoyed the factual information about weapons, clothing, daily life, and places, cleverly interspersed in the text and dialogue to inform without overwhelming young readers. The author has a gift for delving into the depths of each young hero’s psyche. The way each one of the trio faces their fears, learns to believe in themselves, and finds their true meaning and path in life is moving. This is a superb coming-of-age story, set in a time of chivalry and pageantry, and harking back to an age when a hero was truly a hero. Five stars! " ~ Fiona Ingram, Author
"There is much to rave about this book, and I don’t want to give anything away because it’s a quick paced, thrilling, new classic about the knights. Witches, white stags, and a Wild Man make the plot exciting, along with cheering along the young knights. There are quite a few surprises at the end that really make the book a great read. We highly recommend this book for any young reader; sure, boys might convinced by the action and title, but I’m positive all young readers will enjoy the mystery and chivalry of Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom! " ~ Tales of a Bookworm
"I absolutely loved this book... [T]his book has just enough Arthurian legend to tie it to and draw from that period of history while being jam-packed with fantastic new characters and fresh plot twists. I am rarely surprised by things in books, but this book really surprised me with a few events I totally did not see coming! I highly recommend this book for young readers! It would be an excellent tie-in to a unit study about King Arthur." ~ Mommynificent
"This is a fast-paced story that children and adults will both enjoy! It's well-written and exciting as we read about the fears each boy faces and how they are able to triumph. It's a great story about loyalty, friendship and overcoming obstacles. Because of the length, it doesn't drag or slow down at all, so it's fun to read and hard to put down. And the ending is full of surprises! I highly recommend reading this book! " ~ Mel's Shelves

About the Author: Cheryl Carpinello

Cheryl Carpinello, Author
 I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more andto reach reluctant readers with my Arthurian Tales and soon a series of stories from ancient lands and legends that will take readers on adventurous quests throughout history.

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Book Buzzer * Amazon Author Page



* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift CardPrize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: September 9, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cheryl Carpinello and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Kill the Mockingbird

If there was ever a novel written for the spark of a 12 year old who remains inside me, it might be I Kill the Mockingbird. A book written about a classic with references to many other books in nearly every chapter, love. I Kill the Mockingbird details the rather ordinary lives of 3 young teens. The each love classic literature; a love not shared by many in their English class especially when the summer reading list is delivered. In homage to a former (deceased) English teacher who planned to only assign To Kill a Mockingbird for summer reading, they search for ways to bring the spotlight back to this beloved American classic, including reshelving copies of the book in their local bookstores and libraries and starting a website titled Once social media begins chattering about I Kill the Mockingbird, their scheming moves like wildfire beyond the borders of their state and through various parts of the country. Ultimately, these young teens must decide how to handle the firestorm they've created and keep To Kill a Mockingbird from disappearing from bookstores altogether.

I Kill the Mockingbird perfectly blends humor and thoughtfulness bringing alive young teens in a novel that's not quite middle grade and not quite YA, a nice bridge actually for 7th-9th graders who might have moved beyond standard MG but not be quite ready for the heady topics often present in YA novels. The two quotes I'm posting below are perfect examples of the witty, intelligent writing that make IKM a page-turning, fun read:

"We will speak for the books." 
"Like the Lorax?" 
"The Lorax speaks for the trees," I remind her. 
"Books are made out of paper. Paper is made out of trees." 
"What about e-books?" 
"We can speak for them too." 
"Audiobooks speak for themselves." She grins. "Get it?" 

"Where did you hide your Mockingbirds?" he asks. 
"Ornithology," she replies. 
"You hid TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with the bird books?" I ask. 
Elena shrugs. "I was being ironic."