Thursday, December 30, 2010

Midway Monkey Madness by Sarah Hines Stephens

In this installment of a new series, DC Super Pets, Beppo is a Super-Monkey from the same planet as Superman.  He is at a carnvial enjoying a Ferris wheel ride when he hears screams from below and spots the evil ape Gorilla Grodd freeing the wild animals from their cages.  Beppo flies into action to get the animals back in their cages to protect all the people at the carnival.  His friends the Wonder Twins and their monkey help in the fight.  Reluctant readers will be drawn to the story with it's colorful illustrations, chapter headings and occassional font colors.  Beppo's expressions capture his feelings throughout the book.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Netgalley.  Midway Monkey Madness will be published by Capstone on January 1,
2011 in hardcover and paperback.

Kylie Jean : Hoop Queen by Marci Peschke

In Hoop Queen, Kylie Jean joins a basketball team and struggles with learning to dribble and shoot free throws.  Her grandfather, the coach of the team is patient and encouraging.  Kylie Jean is determined to win a free throw contest and the title  Little Dribbler Queen.   In order to win she needs to not only have a lot of free throws go in the basket but she also needs to get donation pledeges.  She goes after pledges and practices shot after shot.

As stated in my review of Kylie Jean : Drama Queen  (for review click here) Kylie Jean is a welcome addition to easy chapter books for girls.  Once again the pictures add a cute dimension to the story.  Kylie Jean is a likeable character as are her friends and family.  Recommended for fans of Junie. B., Judy  Moody, and girls looking for a sports story.  These two titles in addition to more are being published January 1, 2011 by Capstone.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Netgalley.  Available in hardcover and paperback.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Kylie Jean : Drama Queen by Marci Peschke

In "Drama Queen," Kylie Jean introduces us to her family, her dog Ugly Brother and friends and tells us she wants to be a beauty queen.  When she learns that her class is going to be putting on the play Alice in Wonderland, Kylie Jean is determined to be the Queen of Hearts so she can wear a crown.  However, the mean new girl, Paula, also wants the same part.  Kylie Jean is a very funny girl and you can't help but like her.  The writing is so inviting and the illustrations add just enough pizazz and sparkle to help move the story along.  Kylie Jean's relationships with her family, bus driver and friends are realistic but her relationship with Ugly Brother is priceless. When Kylie Jean dons a wig to rehearse her part in Alice in Wonderland, Ugly Brother is scared of her.  When she asks him a question and he barks twice, that means "yes."  The author infuses the story with lots of theatre terminology including stagehand, understudy, and break-a-leg and readers will learn about putting a play on as well as enjoy a lovely story.

Kylie Jean is a new series and will become poplular among young girls right away.  Three other titles are being published simultaneously and all four will be in hardcover and paperback.  I read "Drama Queen" as an ebook arc courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher Capstone and it will be available January 4, 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Happened on Fox Street by Tricia Springstubb

What Happened on Fox Street
Living on Fox Street reminds me of living in an apartment building growing up in New York City.  Everyone knows everyone else and watches out for them too.
There are 10 houses on Fox Street and Mo, her sister the "wild child" Dottie and her dad live in one.  Mo is responsible for watching Dottie most of the time while dad is working.  Mo's best friend Mercedes spends summers across the street with her grandma, Da although with Da's diabetes and Mercedes' new stepdad this could be the last summer.

Much happens this summer on Fox Street.  Mo is always searching for signs of a fox in the ravine behind the house.  The old lady across the street starts paying attention to the girls and dad receives an offer to sell his house.  Halfway through the book I thought of "Because of Winn-Dixie," one of my favorite books.  "What Happened on Fox Street" has many similarities, widowed dad, wonderful neighbors, a rainstorm and a lot of love.  It is an emotional roller coaster ride inside a child's mind but an exhilarating one and a wonderful one.  Though Mo and Dottie fight a lot, though the dad seems drowning in missing his wife, while Fox Street seems to be heading in a different direction in the future Tricia Springstubb works magic in making us root for Mo and her family and friends and trust in her that there will be happy (endings) beginnings for all.  A great piece of contemporary literature.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES.  Katna in GRACELING.  Katarina (Kat) in THE HEIST SOCIETY.  Claudia in INCARCERON.  And now, Cassia joins the ranks of strong, intelligent and brave young women.

Cassia lives in a dystopian society. Couples are "matched," told how many children they will have, where they will work, what they eat, and when they die.  In a very rare situation Cassia is matched with a childhood friend, Xander and all seems perfect until she begins to develop feelings for another boy she has grown up with, Ky.  Cassia and Ky slowly fall in love and together they share Ky's family story, poetry, and writing (Ky teaches Cassia as writing has been replaced with computerized scribes.)  The story moves slow as the relationship blossoms and pieces of a puzzle begin to be laid out and as you near the end of the book you know it will have to continue in a sequel.  While I do wish it was a stand alone book, I will wait a year for CROSSED, the sequel and look forward to reuniting with Xander, Ky and Cassia.

MATCHED has been compared to THE GIVER and is recommended for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy.  I concur.  I recommend it for tweens and teens (no underage drinking or promiscuity.)
While some books don't always live up to the hype, MATCHED is one that did.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ruby Valentine Saves the Day by Laurie Friedman

Publisher's description : "It's Valentine's Day and Ruby won't let anything spoil the celebration! In this follow-up to the popular Love, Ruby Valentine, Ruby's favorite day of the year rolls around again, and she and Lovebird work feverishly to plan the perfect party for everyone in Heartland. But when Valentine's Day arrives, an unexpected snowstorm threatens to ruin all of Ruby's plans. Will Ruby find a way to save the day, or will everyone in Heartland have to wait until next year to celebrate?"

With charming colorful pictures and a great read aloud rhythm this book is destined to become a favorite Valentine's Day read. I can just hear the kids in my library cracking up as Ruby and Lovebird head down the hill losing their goodies along the way. A lot of times Valentine's books are too pink and mushy for boys but this one will please them too! Read as an ebook arc courtesy of netgalley. Published by Lerner Publisher Group.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Not Santa by Jonathan Allen

This is one of those Christmas books I like to read aloud annually in my school library. Recently I read it to a class of 2nd and 3rd graders and they absolutely adored it. The story is fun to read, the illustrations wonderful and the faces of the kids listening priceless. Recommended for babes through 3rd grade."I'm Not Santa!"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

"Ninth Ward" is a hauntingly beautiful book. Lanesha is a 12 year-old girl raised by the mid-wife who helped birth her as her mom died shortly after she was born. The first part of the book describes the love and affection between Mama Ya-Ya and and lets us know that between Mama Ya-Ya's educating Lanesha and school Lanesha is a very smart girl. Lanesha sees ghosts (including her mother) and Mama Ya-Ya sees and feels things gives the book a sort of mystical quality. The rest of the book deals with getting prepared for Hurricane Katrina and how Lanesha manages to survive the horrific storm.

If I was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina I would have liked to be with Lanesha. She draws on everything she has learned from math to physics to cooking. Her love for Mama Ya-Ya and her feelings for her friend TaShon and their dog Spot would make anyone want to be on her team. The images of the New Orleans destruction are vivid and heart wrenching but still this book is a wonderful book for youngsters. Lanesha is a strong female character and I for one would love to hear more of her story.
Recommended for strong 3rd grade readers and above.