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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Honey by Sarah Weeks

HoneyMelody Bishop lives in a peaceful Indiana town. All she has ever known is that town and her father (a teacher). Maybe her father's influence is why 10-year-old Melody loves words and has a special way with words. She can't figure out some of the changes in her father such as being distracted and burning food and often singing the same song - You Are My Sunshine. Melody asks her best friend, Nick Woo, to help solve a mystery. She wants to know whom her father is calling "honey" on the phone.

I will only give you one clue about this book: there is a dog in this feel-good book and it is also ten years old. If this book was written by Sarah Weeks, I should have guessed that there would be a dog in the story. The multiple perspective and multiple generations really make this a wonderful book. The father and daughter characters are so respectful and happy. The ending is so happy, but that's not all. The back of the book has a creative list of 101 colors of nail polish named by Melody. Nail polish, anyone? Yes, nail polish. How awesome is that?  When you are done reading the book, you will appreciate and figure out how Melody acquired her name. Keep a song in our heart and a book in your hand!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lucky Strike by Bobbie Pyron

Lucky StrikeHave you ever felt like an outsider?  Have you ever been picked on at school?  That's just what happens to Nate Harlow and his best friend Genesis "Gen" Beam.  Nate always has bad luck.    Nothing ever seems to go his way.  Gen is super smart albeit socially awkward and doesn't think there is any such thing as luck.  She care about the facts and logic - oh and the sea turtles that return to Paradise Beach, Florida every year.

Nate is celebrating his eleventh birthday with Gen at the Goofy Golf mini-golf course, when suddenly he is struck by a bolt of lightning and survives.  Low and behold, his luck may have changed because he seems to have the Midas touch.  Now he can hit home runs in baseball, dead boat motors start when he touches them and he wins a new truck for his grandfather. Nate gains popularity for the first time and suddenly he starts to turn on Gen, leaving her behind while he hangs out with the popular kids (yup, the ones who originally called him names).  This abandonment forces Gen to reach out for a new friend, another outsider by the name of Chum.  However, Nate discovers that popularity is something that he may not be cut out for or needs.  What will he decide to do?

Lucky Strike has several messages.  1.  Good friends stick with you through thick and thin.  This was supposed to be Gem's and Nate's mantra.  2.  Fancy new things aren't always better than what you have.  I like the changes the characters went through.  Each one grew in some sense, even a minor character who originally bullies the friends.  This is a definite read.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Frank Eistein and the Electro-Finger by Jon Scieszka

Frank Einstein and the Electro-FingerI promised that the next book in the Frank Einstein series would be be coming. Roselle Library has it here now. Grandpa Al's electric bill is skyrocketing. His smart grandson wants to invent a wireless electric generator. T. Edison and Mr. Chimp go around wrecking all the other power sources. T. Edison and Mr. Chimp want a monopoly for their own power plant.

So much is included in this book. Even the ASL's manual alphabet is included because the chimp communicates in sign language. The jokes are silly but that's appropriate because they are coming from the lovable robots, Klink and Klank. Brian Bigg's cartoon illustrations match the text perfectly,  leaving the readers with a lasting impression. You really can't tell how much science is included (even a perfected pea shooter). Many surprises:  police chief is a member of the poetry club, smart ideas Frank Einstein and the robots create... Jon Scieszka promises that the next Frank Einstein will be published in August, 2015 - Frank Einstein and the Brain Turbo!


Monday, July 13, 2015

The Magician's Fire by Simon Nicholson

The Magician's FireMeet young Harry who lives in New York City in the 1880's.  He's a magician in the making (Harry Houdini).  When we first meet Harry he is chained to train tracts staring down an oncoming train. At the last split second, he escapes the chains and jumps to safety.  Crazy, right?  Well, yes and no.  It was a dangerous stunt (yes) but it was also very well thought out by Harry and his two friends, Arthur and Billie.  The trio is a close bunch, kind of like the Three Musketeers.  Billie is a girl who has come from New Orleans who is very streetwise.  Arthur hails from England, has a rich father who doesn't pay attention to him but Arthur is great at research.  Harry is from Bulgaria and as you can tell from above, is an aspiring magician.  One day, the trio goes to see Harry's good friend, Herbie perform (he's a magician).  However, Herbie disappears behind a cloud of purple smoke after the show and no one knows what happened to him.  It just so happens a mysterious man attended the show who has an incredibly sinister mustache and creepy snake and sword pin.  Could he have kidnapped Harry?  It's up to Harry and his friends to try to find out what happened to Herbie.

I must be on a magic kick because this is the second book I've chosen in a matter of a few weeks where the main character was practicing to become a magician.  The book was entertaining with a lot of action.  There were bits of magic scattered throughout the book but it was mainly a mystery story.  I loved spunky Billie (she's my kind of gal!).  Arthur and Billy are people I would want to have as friends.  Harry was definitely talented but he wouldn't be the kind of friend I would like to have.  The story line was pretty good, although I'd say it was loosely based on Houdini's life.  There is a "stay tuned" ending for the next book in the series, The Demon Curse.  I think it's a definite next read.


Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Will in ScarletWill in Scarlet  What is that suppose to mean? Could it mean that Will is using his mother's maiden name (Scarlet) instead of his father's surname, the lord of Shackley Manor? Could it mean that Will is blushing during his quick, forced transition from boyhood to manhood? Could it mean the rage for revenge to Sir Guy for taking over the Shackley Manor?

In 1192, Will meets up with the Merry Men and Robin Hood because he is forced to flee to Sherwood Forest. He has to find out the hard way that villainy is not easily recognized. His skill in using a sword helps protects himself and others. If you think that there are only boys and men in this books, you might want to reconsider your guess. This is the real deal - an action-packed historical fiction.

* Rebecca Caudill 2016 Award Nominee *


Friday, July 03, 2015

DORKO the Magnificent by Andrea Beaty

Dorko the MagnificentRobbie Darko is a magician.  At least he is trying to become one.  Despite all the time he spends practicing magic, something always goes wrong when it comes time to perform.  Robbie has a brother he calls "Ape Boy" because he is always biting and climbing on things - and he is 6!  The Darko parents are working hard to make ends meet, so they don't get to spend the amount of time they'd like to as a family.  Dad is always traveling for work and mom is always on the phone with work.  Enter Grandma Melyvn.  You'd think she'd be all warm and fuzzy, right?  She insults people and calls everyone Trixie.  She's as mean as they come, or is she?  Grandma Melyvn takes over Robbie's room and he tries to avoid being home so that he doesn't have to deal with her crankiness.  However, he founds out that Grandma Melyvn used to be famous magician herself until her partner did something that made her a bitter woman.  An unlucky relationship forms between the two of them and Grandma Melyvn helps Robbie perform at the school's talent show.

I truly didn't think I was going to like this book.  I saw it on the shelf and kept putting off reading it.  But I can now see why it was nominated for the 2016 Bluestem award.  I'll admit that I was hooked after chapter 1.  The book is written in first person narrative, with Robbie telling his story.  You totally get his personality and he comes alive right away.  With him being into magic in 5th grade, it's almost predestined that he is a dork (hence the title Dorko the Magnificent).  The book is hilarious throughout most of the book, but I will warn you that there is a twist at the end of the book.  The book has several good messages and an ending you won't forget.

*************************    2016 Bluestem Nominee ************************


Monday, June 15, 2015

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

ChompThe star of Expedition Survival, Derek Badger, comes to Florida to film his reality TV show. Derek is so phony.That is not even his real name. Even his fake Australian accent doesn't fool Mickey and Wahoo Cray. The show comes to their house to use their "pet" animals for filming. Mickey had been seriously hit on the head by a dead iguana. The iguana fell out of a tree after a severe frost. Mickey's health has been affected so he can use any money that they get from the show. His son, Wahoo, is a great asset to him and the father-and-son team share some great adventures.

Carl Hiaasen includes just the right amount of characters in this book. Some of their behaviors are so funny and unbelievable. You will appreciate Mickey's and Wahoo's respect for nature and for their fellow mankind. I really like how Mickey and Wahoo stay strong even in crisis mode. I really don't know which one of Carl Hiaasen's book I like the most,  but this one is right up there because of the characters.  Chomp is a great title for this book. Don't miss Scat, Flush, Hoot - all eco-fiction - all set in Florida - all one syllable titles.
Hey, Mr Hiaasen, what's the deal with all the one syllable titles?

*2016 Rebecca Caudill Nominee*


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