Friday, August 26, 2016

Little Cat's Luck

Little Cat's Luck
by Marion Dane Bauer; illus. by Jennifer A. Bell
224 pages; ages 8-12
S&S Books for Young Readers, 2016

Patches is an indoor cat, but when a golden leaf flutters and flitters and catches her attention, Patches must follow. She pushes her way through a window screen and out into the big, wide world. Not only is she curious about the leaf, but she is on a mission. Patches us looking for a special place.
She doesn't know what it will look like, but she'll know it when she sees it.

This story is told in verse, using visual placement of words to "show" the story. For example, when a leaf disappears
         peak   a
     the           red
Over                  roof

And then there's this, the beginning of chapter 7:
The problem with searching
for a special place
without knowing
where such a place might be --
or even what
it might look like
should you find it --
is that the search
can take a great deal
of time... 

Readers discover why Patches need a special place all of a sudden - and how she tamed the meanest dog in town - in this sweet, fun-to-read book.

We'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading.  Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Space Boy and the Space Pirate

Space Boy and the Space Pirate
by Dian Curtis Regan; illus by Robert Neubecker
40 pages; ages 5-10
Boyds Mills, 2016

Last year we met Space Boy when he blasted off to rescue a cat. Now he's off on another adventure - to rescue his cousin, Sasha, who's been kidnapped by a space pirate.

"Wake up!" he yells to his trusty crew, and they blast off, headed to Planet Zorg. Where they find the evil space pirate who is forcing Sasha to ... play dolls? Space Boy tries to negotiate a hostage release but the pirate steals his space ship, leaving him stranded. Will he ever get back to earth? Will he be able to rescue his cousin? Will he be late for dinner?

This adventure story, accompanied by comic book-style artwork, celebrates the power of pretend play. You may want to have some extra boxes hanging around in case your young space cadet decides to build a ship of her own.

Check out the space-related activities here. Review copy provided by publisher.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Nadia ~ The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still

 This is a perfect book for the season, especially if you have a gymnastics-crazy kid who cartwheels down the hall.

Nadia ~ The girl who couldn't sit still
by Karlin Gray; illus. by Christine Davenier
40 pages; ages 6-9
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Nadia Comaneci loved soccer, swimming, and climbing trees in the forests beyond her village of Onesti, Romania. "She didn't just climb the trees," writes Karlin Gray, "she swung from branch to branch until her family would call her home."

To find an outlet for all that energy, Nadia's mom signed her up for gymnastics classes. It would be great to just say ..."and the rest is history..." but that would ignore the years of hard work and learning that Nadia put into developing her skills on the bars and beam. It would ignore the falls and failures.

When she fell, Nadia picked herself up and brushed herself off and practiced some more until she perfected each move. Until she got first place in national competitions. Until she reached the Olympics in Montreal (1976). She whipped around the bars, balanced, flipped, and won the highest score ever - a perfect 10.

At the end of the competitions, Nadia took home five medals (three gold). Back home she did just what you'd expect a girl who couldn't sit still to do: keep on practicing.

On Monday  we're joining the roundup over at the Nonfiction Monday blog where you'll find even more book reviews Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, August 5, 2016

23 Minutes

23 Minutes
by Vivian Vande Velde
176 pages; ages 12 - 16
Boyds Mills, 2016

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret power: she can travel back in time to relive events she wants to change. There are only a couple caveats: she can only travel back in time 23 minutes, and whenever she changes things it never ends well. Plus people think she's crazy.

So when she steps into a bank to get out of the rain - and finds herself in the middle of a robbery gone wrong - Zoe tries to help. By going back in time.

There are two things that I really like about this book: the consistency of this magical power; and that small changes have unexpected results. While Zoe has this talent/superpower, she's not sure what all the rules are. So when someone dies in the bank robbery, she thinks that maybe she can go back in time to save a life. On round two, she calls the police - only this time it ends up worse.

She tries again. And again. And each time some little thing results in a horrible ending. And then there's that third caveat: she has a limited number of attempts to try to get things right.

What I like about Zoe is her grit. She could give up - this is too much for a 15-year-old kid. Especially one as messed up as she is. She might be unlucky, but she's no coward.

Review copy provided by publisher.