Friday, December 11, 2020

Back to the Wild Wood with Oddmire Book 2

 

The Oddmire, book two: The Unready Queen
by William Ritter 
320 pages; ages 8-12
Algonquin Young Readers (Workman), 2020

Things are finally getting back to normal for the human and goblin brothers Cole and Tinn. After their previous adventure in the Wild Wood they are back home and going to school (mo-o-om! we can walk to school by ourselves!). Working through lessons. Discovering girls. And, for Tinn, trying to learn how to control his goblin magic. Fortunately, he’s got a goblin mentor who teaches him howling and the stuff of goblin culture he missed by living amongst humans. Learning magic might be like learning how to swim… or at least learning to listen to the universe and accept what it provides when you need it.

Relations between the fay folk and humans is already stretched, but when a new guy arrives in town and begins hiring roustabouts for his drilling rig, things blow up. When the humans cut down the Grandmother Tree, a giant destroys the drilling rig.

It takes little effort for a sour old man to convince the townspeople that the Wild Wood’s magic is evil. And it looks as though the pixies and other magic folk have been doing more than the usual mischief. Are they trying to start a war with the humans? Or is someone going to great lengths to make it seem that way?

Cole, Tinn, the Wild Wood witch’s daughter Fable, and Evie (whose very presence causes Tinn to stutter) are drawn into the conflict even after promises made. For Cole and Tinn: promises to stay out of the Wild Wood. For Fable: promises to stay within the Wild Wood. At the end of it all the question remains: is it possible for people of two vastly different cultures to live together in respect and tolerance and understanding?

This is the story of:
reluctant heroes
a young queen who does not want to be a queen
a changeling trying to find himself 
a brother feeling left out
an artist who wants to see the magic
But mostly the strong bonds of friendship and family.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

I'm taking a winter break ~ so have a Joyous Solstice and a Merry New Year!
See you in January.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes


Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes (Book 4) 
by Trudi Trueit 
216 pages; ages 8 - 12 
Under the Stars (National Geographic), 2020

In this most recent addition to the Explorer Academy series, we travel across scorching sand and through steamy jungles across Africa. Cruz Coronado and his friends are on their fourth mission (we met them previously here and here). Now the Explorer Academy students have been called upon to help deliver medication that can treat and prevent a virus from spreading through the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

In the process, they discover that protecting the world’s threatened species can be a dangerous business.

Before they even begin the mission, Cruz is in trouble. While on an archaeological trip in Turkey, he decided to explore a cave by himself (breaking rule #1) and without telling the group leader (there goes rule #2). Now he’s at the bottom of a well, possibly pushed by an enemy trying to steal his journal. In Indiana Jones style, he manages to escape his predicament and get back to the group only to be tossed into yet another misadventure.

What I like about this book: In addition to mountain gorillas, the students get involved in creating a conservation plan for pangolins. There is a novel disease, requiring quarantine (this book hit the shelves days after our state began closing things and asking people to isolate). There are high-tech gadgets, nanobots, codes, puzzles, and tons of conservation science.

And no, I will not spoil the adventure. Suffice it to say this page-turner is laced with enough STEM stuff to (maybe) qualify for science class credit. Or at the very least inspire a few homeschooling kids to head out on a few explores of their own.

What’s really cool? There is a Field Journal for kids who want to be more involved in the Explorer Academy. Just sign in – there’s a Recruit Intake Form at the beginning – and pack your bags because the pages in this book take you on missions. You’ll explore your favorite spots, boldly plot future world travels, decipher a code, design a drone, and record your innermost thoughts and feelings along the way.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by Media Masters Publicity.


Friday, November 27, 2020

How to Build a Kitten Caboodle (maybe)

 

Clara Humble and the Kitten Caboodle 
by Anna Humphrey; illus. by Lisa Cinar 
232 pages; ages 8-12
Owlkids, 2020 (paperback; originally published 2018)

Clara and Bradley are best friends. They liked the same things (creamsicles and comic books) and went on adventures together. “But things took a turn for the worse when we began building the Kitten Caboodle…” she reflects.

To be honest, things had been changing. Bradley took up a new hobby (treasure hunting) and developed a friendship with another guy from treasure hunter camp. Still, Clara expected him to be just as excited as she was about their new project. She had discovered a lovely, and very pregnant, stray cat. In addition to food and water, the cat and her kittens needed shelter.

There was only one problem. Okay, there were a bunch of problems. But here’s the big one: the cat and kittens had taken up digs beneath a bench in the overgrown churchyard. And Clara wanted to build them a Kitten Caboodle – she had heard her dad talk about kitten caboodles. And she borrowed (without permission) tools and boards from her dad. And a construction company is getting ready to demolish the church to build new apartments.

Can Clara and Bradley keep the cats secret? Will Clara’s internet cat video raise enough money to save the day? Who does the mama cat belong to? And what the heck is a kitten caboodle anyway?


Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Collie Called Sky

 Jasmine Green Rescues: A Collie Called Sky 
by Helen Peters; illus. by Ellie Snowdon 
160 pages; ages 7-9
Walker Books US,  2020

By now you know I have a soft spot for dog stories. Even better if they are rescues. 

Jasmine Green’s mother is a veterinarian and her father is a farmer. So when she finds an animal in need, not only does she know what to do but she also has room to care for it. One day Jasmine discovers a tiny pup hiding under a hedge on her family’s farm. The pup is dirty and hasn’t had anything to eat or drink in a long time. He is so weak he can barely lift his head.

Of course, Jasmine takes him home. With help from her mom and other vets she nurses the puppy back to health. This includes more than providing food and pats; Jasmine has to figure out to help the collie regain strength in his legs so he can stand. 
Meanwhile, the vet clinic is trying to locate the pet’s owner. Jasmine can only keep the dog if, after the allotted time, no one steps forward to claim him. 

What I like about this book: I love Jasmine’s compassion for animals, and her relationship with her family. She has a goal for her life: create an animal rescue sanctuary. I also like how she solves problems. There is, of course (this being a story of a collie) the obligatory rescue scene. And there are lots of ethical conundrums: should an owner who mistreats an animal be allowed to reclaim the dog? 

This book is part of a series, as Jasmine has also rescued a pig and duck. Look for another book this spring – Jasmine Green Rescues: A Goat Called Willow.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, November 13, 2020

AstroNuts Blast Off Again!

 

AstroNuts Mission Two: The Water Planet 
by Jon Scieszka; illus. by Steven Weinberg
228 pages; ages 8-12
Chronicle Books, 2020

Wildfires, floods, more hurricanes than we can name in a summer … in the midst of Climate Chaos wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a solution? Maybe a superhero to help us out?

Fortunately, the four super-powered animal astronauts who launched into space last year – and got captured on the Plant Planet – are belted in and ready for blast-off. Well, at least three of them have fastened their seatbelts.

Again, Earth narrates: “Time is wasting. And my climate is getting worse … And a lot of your human activities are messing with my water, which, as you know, is 71% of my surface.” 

So with ice melting, sea levels rising, coral reefs dying, and plastic pollution blemishing the oceans, the four brave and accident-prone heroes set off to seek a water planet. Something with enough land for terrestrial species. Something not too hot, not too cold, just right. A goldilocks planet.

Upon their arrival at a water planet they are heartily welcomed by a committee of clams. They are wined and dined and toured around (the best parts of) the planet. The clam committee (why, is that Senator Clam McConnell I see?) insist that their planet is perfect in every way. So why are they terribly eager to trade planets? Why are they plotting to cut off AlphaWolf’s paw? And why won’t they let the Astronuts conduct their scientific study of the planet?

And now, a word from our sponsor - Earth.

What I like about this book: I love the nuggets of science tucked into the nooks and crannies and sometimes splashed across entire spreads. I love the glitch computer and NNASA reports. And I really love that the clams have one leg, and represent historical figures: Susan B. Clamthony sports a delightful full-length boot and remains as activist as ever.

As with the first book, there’s a couple pages at the back that describe how the collage illustrations were created. And there’s a challenge for readers to create their own collage artwork, along with a link to an Astronut website where you can download some helpful printouts.


Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, November 6, 2020

On Wings of Words

 

On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson
by Jennifer Berne; illus. by Becca Stadtlander
52 pages; ages 5-8
Chronicle Books, 2020

theme: biography, poetry, nature

 Soft moonlit snow draped the Dickinson house in white.

Emily Dickinson explored her world with her eyes and her ears and her thoughts. Bees, butterflies, birds … she found words for everything she discovered. And she wrote it down in poetry. She found words for the dark and scary things, too. She called her poems letters to the world. Some people thought Emily was weird, but she didn’t care – she just kept on scribbling poetry.

What I like about this book: I love the snippets of Emily’s poems lettered on the pages. And how, says author Jennifer Berne, in her poetry you can “hear Emily’s voice echoing through the years” and speaking to all of us who, with pen in hand, look deeply and write about what we discover.

Beyond the Books:

Read some more Emily Dickinson poems here and here.

Go on a poetry hike. When you see something you want to write about, take a few minutes to jot down some words. Emily Dickinson wrote about insects she saw, and birds tugging worms from the ground. Use all your senses - what you see, smell, feel (touch), hear – to write about your nature discovery.

Try writing different kinds of poems. Here’s one place to start.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, October 30, 2020

A Really Rotten Halloween Story


Rotten Pumpkin 
by David Schwartz; photos by Dwight Kuhn
32 pages; ages 3-5
Creston Books, 2013

theme: Halloween, nature, STEM

Here I stand, bright with light, proud and round. 

This is a tale of the demise of a Halloween pumpkin. Jack, the pumpkin, is the first of 15 voices to tell the tale. He begins with his glory days, as a bright Jack-o-lantern. But once that flame is spent, he’s tossed unceremoniously back to the garden.

From there, various animals – and fungi – take over the tale. A mouse, squirrel, and slugs tell how they nibble, gnaw, and scrape the pumpkin shell. Insects and mold continue their cheerful tale of how they do in the rotting pumpkin.

But not everything rots away. A single seed survives and, covered with soil enriched by the rotted goo, sprouts. 

What I like about this book: The photos that document Jack’s decomposition are amazing to look at. Dwight Kuhn helps readers see beauty where others might just see a moldy mess. And David’s use of the different voices to tell the story allows us to think about nature in a different way. There’s also Back Matter! A glossary and three investigations that a curious nature lover might want to do with their past-prime Jack-o-lantern.

Beyond the Books:

If you forgot a seed or two when scooping out the gloppity gloop from the middle of your pumpkin, now’s a good time to rescue them. Rinse them off, let them dry, and then put them in an envelope. If you know what variety of pumpkin you have, write that on the envelope. Otherwise “pumpkin 2020” will do. Next spring, plant them and see what comes up.

Write a letter to – or from – your pumpkin about it’s very short life. Feel free to pull in some local animals to tell their side of the story.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.