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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen

This Side of WildThis book has only five chapters. Each chapter tells about his relationships with animals. For example, a tiny dog that he rescued has a early-warning radar and has different barks for each type of animal that comes near. Paulsen affectionately calls it the "Corkinator". Wait until you read about two coyotes, a rabbit and a horse - all in one place! Paulsen truly believes that animals are smarter than humans. You can actually sense his respect and knowledge of nature. Vivid memories of these animals stay in his heart and mind. A few humorous off-color moments and deeply philosophical questions really make this a thought-provoking book for Sixth graders and older. You might want to go back and read the subtitle again after you are finished reading the book. I finally figured out what it meant.

Paulsen has a lot of cred. His military service and his unique upbringing give him a special perspective. He has lived with nature. He has written over one hundred books.  This one compelled me to stop, think and reflect. He does it with humor and without exaggerating.
He even know Latin - "Interrogatum"
He even admits what he doesn't know - "pee-wadden"

Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale

Big Bad Detective Agency?I have been a fan of Bruce Hale ever since I read his Chet Gecko, Private Eye series.  I just love his humor.  He has a new series now geared toward second to third grade readers that I think you just need to check out.  It features the Big Bad Wolf and Ferkel, the fourth brother of the famous Three Little Pigs (I just love these new twists on the old fairy tale classics!)  The homes of the Three Little Pigs have been trashed (trashed mind you, not destroyed).  So of course, who is the first suspect on the list?  Yep, the Big Bad Wolf.  He claims he is innocent and want to now be called Wolfgang.  The police captain (who is not so bright and good for a few laughs), tells Wolfgang if he can find out who trashed the houses before the end of the day, he will not have to be sent to the dungeon to live out his life and eat porridge (Wolfgang despises porridge; he's a meat eater after all).  Ferkel doesn't believe Wolfgang did it either and joins in the search to find the culprit who did.  Along the way they interview several other Fairy Tale characters such as Jack, Cinderella and Goldilocks  (to name a few fairy tale celebrities).  Will Ferkel and Wolfgang be able to clear Wolfgang of the crime in time?

Fortunately for us, this is the first in the stories.  I am so excited that there will be more adventures of Ferkel and Wolfgang.  If you like mysteries (which I do), love fractured fairy tales (yep), and love to laugh (which I do), this is definitely a new series you should check out!

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Boy's Best Friend by Kate Banks and Rupert Sheldrake

Boy's Best Friend"Moving is fun.  Change can be positive."  This is the mantra Lester Shoe is trying to make himself believe after he and his parents move from Denver to Cape Cod.  Lester is missing Denver because he just doesn't seem to fit in here.  The only good thing he has is his dog, Bill Gates.

Then there is George.  He is a big animal lover and he has a dog too, named Bart.  Kyra, George's best friend, moved to North Carolina and George is having a hard time adjusting without her. Science is one of George's passions (besides Bart).  He notices that Bart always seems to know when he is coming home because he is always waiting for him on the front steps.  He decides to do the same experiment that Rupert Sheldrake, a famous biologist has done.  George emails with Sheldrake throughout the book, leading to more scientific questions. 

Lester meets George but they don't become immediate friends.  Lester decides to join in on George's dog experiment and through those interactions, a friendship slowly starts to develop.

The part about Lester's moving experience and starting over trying to find new friends is very real-to-life.  The emails between George and Sheldrake raise some good questions about science experiments and data.  Rupert Sheldrake is an actual scientist as well as the co-author of the book, so the scientific data is accurate.   To add more to the science aspect of this book, the authors put the boy's data collection from the experiment at the end of the book.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Harriet the Invincible by Ursala Vernon

New Series

Harriet the Invincible?Do you remember Dragonbreath?
Well, the same author is doing this series, Hamster Princess. The first one is Harriet the Invincible. When a wicked fairy does not get invited to the christening of the princess, the fairy casts a spell on Harriet where she is doomed to a deep sleep when she turns twelve. Instead of a spinning wheel, the curse involves a hamster wheel. Her parents inform her of the curse when she is ten. She figures out that no harm can come to her until then. She actually feels invincible: jumping off towers, cliff-diving, jousting...

Her creativity, smartness and sense of humor guide her. Her love of fractions and checkers are obvious. Her creativity is exemplified by the faithful quail that she rides. Wait until you see how she figures out what to put on the quail to help her climb.

Harriet Hamsterbone - not your stereotypical princess!

Thursday, January 07, 2016

The Copper Gauntlet (Book 2 Magisterium) by Holly Black

The Copper Gauntlet     During summer break from Magisterium, Call's closest friend is Havoc, a Chaos-ridden wolf. While his Dad secretly thinks that he is secretly evil, Call suspects his Dad is trying to get rid of him and the wolf. Call escapes with his wolf to return to Magisterium, where everything only gets more complicated.
     Call, Tamara, and Aaron leave Magisterium to look for Call's Dad who has been accused of stealing, Alkahest a copper gauntlet, used to separate Magicians from their magic.  So they begin to search for Call's Dad and the gauntlet, chased by foes unimaginable and dangerous getting nearer to an even more dangerous truth.

If you have not read the first book in this series Iron Trial, I suggest you read it right away...catch up because you will want to read the third as soon as it comes off the press!

Monday, January 04, 2016

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins? by Liz Kessler

Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?If you could have any power you wanted, what would it be?  Super hearing, x-ray vision, flying, being invisible?  One of these superpowers is given to Jessica Jenkins shortly after her 13th birthday.  Her best friend Izzy is the one who discovers her power when she witnesses Jessica's arm disappearing in class.  Izzy and Jessica are determined to find out how she got the power to become invisible.  Their search leads them to Nancy, the woman who helped deliver Jessica.  Somehow she and a doctor were working on a special serum that when combined with various crystals, give different superpowers.  Jessica finds out that herself and two other classmates were somehow  accidentally exposed to the serum when they were born.  Now they all have unique superpowers which they will use together to try to stop the serum from getting into the wrong hands.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the book, but the cover intrigued me.  I am happy to say I did enjoy the story.  The plot made sense and the scientific explanation behind why the serum worked on children and the stones, totally made sense.  Jessica and Izzy were a great team, working together to try to solve the mystery of how Jessica could turn invisible.  The other children introduced in the story were likeable as well.  It left me wondering if there will be a sequel!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Old Wolf by Avi

Old WolfWhat a difference between "kills" on a computer and death in the wild. Casey is turning thirteen and he learns a lot from computer games. He is a pro at Bowhunter. He also learns a lot from humans and nature. He gets a bow for his birthday. I can believe that he couldn't wait for his father to come home from work to try the bow. The elder leader of a wolf pack is Nashoba. Yes, he has to prove himself. It is the end of winter and all the wolves need to eat. They are depending on him. A raven tells Nashoba where the elk can currently be found.. The elk are in a forest near Casey's home. I am not going to say if Casey hurts or helps the wolf. I will say that the wolf and I remember the advice of the raven.

Wise creatures live by asking questions

Many times elders do know better

Avi gives a steadily rising suspense.
Brian Floca gives pencil illustrations including the wolf with piercing eyes.

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