Friday, September 13, 2019

Hide and Seek ~ Splish and Splash!

If you’re looking for some fun books featuring animals, these might fit the bill.
themes: animals, colors, adaptations

If You Played Hide-And-Seek with a Chameleon 
by Bill Wise; illus. by Rebecca Evans
32 pages; ages 8 - 12
Dawn Publications, 2019

If you played games with animals, would you win or lose?

Come to the Animal Fair and play games with twelve different animals – from basketball to twister. There’s the pie-eating contest with a hippo. Of course you’d lose that because a hippo has the biggest mouth of all the land animals. And of course, if you play hide-and-seek with a chameleon, you’d lose! Because … chameleons!

What I like about this book: Each game is matched with an animal whose natural traits would give it a great advantage. Shoot hoops with a giraffe? Race against a cheetah? A paragraph of animal facts accompanies each game, explaining why you have no chance against your animal competitor. Except the snail; you might have a chance against a snail.

I like the bright and fun illustrations that invite you to imagine yourself as part of the games. And I really like the back matter – four pages of fun facts, a challenge to look closer, and great STEM activities.

Splish, Splash, Foxes Dash! Canadian Wildlife in Colour 
by Geraldo Valério
24 pages; ages 2 - 5
Owlkids, 2018

Red, yellow, blue, here they come… Canadian animals in colour!

Brown features a duck, dabbling under the water. Green caterpillars munch green leaves. Pink prawns pirouette.

What I like about this book: The language is fun: dabble, pirouette, perch and peck. The colors are bright, and the illustrations are created using paper collage. Text on the page is simple and direct. But don’t fear; there is Back Matter! That’s where you’ll find out more facts about the animals featured in the book.

Beyond the Books:

 Go on an animal color-safari. If you can get to a zoo, great! If not, walk through a pet store. Look at the colors and patterns of the animals.

Make collage art to show one of your favorite animals doing something it would normally do. Use up old magazines, newspapers, and gift wrap to create your art. You can check out some of Geraldo Valério’s art at his website – just click on a book.

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

My Name is Wakawakaloch!

My Name Is Wakawakaloch! 
by Chana Stiefel; illus. by Mary Sullivan
32 pages; ages 4 - 7
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019

theme: names, friends, problem-solving

Wakawakaloch was in a volcanic mood. Everyone was bungling her name.

Schools in our neck of the woods are just getting started this week, and teachers are faced with learning new names.  So I thought this might be a fun book for the new year!

In this book, the kids at school mangle Wakawakaloch's name. They call her Walawala or Wammabammaslamma. But those aren’t her names, and Wakawakaloch gets so mad that she wants to change her name to something easy to pronounce. Besides, she can’t ever find a T-shirt with her name printed on it. Gloop would be a good name, right?

What I like about this book: I love the language: the image of Wakawakaloch being volcanic. I like the mis-names that kids give her. And I like when Wakawakaloch sees images of her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother’s acts of bravery, and understands how powerful her family's name is. Not only that - she comes up with a way she can help other kids with unusual names. It involves T-shirts.

I also like the end papers with illustrations of children and how to pronounce their names. No Wakawakaloch, but there is a Chana (like the author) and, according to the handy-dandy guide, the way to pronounce her name is Kh-ah-nah. Make sure you begin with a throat-clearing “ch” ant the beginning!

Beyond the Books:

Check out this brief interview with Chana, and watch the book trailer.

Names are important. Where does your name come from? You might discover an exciting family tale when you ask about your name.

Write down the way you say your name. And when you meet new friends, ask how to say their names. You don’t want to bungle it up!

Today (or as soon as it starts up again) 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 my friends at Blue Slip Media.

Friday, August 2, 2019

A Break to Indulge in Summer Reading



Sally’s Bookshelf is taking a break from book reviews to indulge in summer reading. While Sally's gone ...


  • Check out your library's summer reading program. 
  • Grab some books for the next road trip.  
  • Build a fort (and read in it).
  • Read a good bug book - and then go find some bugs.
  • Write haiku in sidewalk chalk.
  • Learn to identify trees - then tie a hammock between a couple of them and read.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Operation Frog Effect

Operation Frog Effect
by Sarah Scheerger
320 pages; ages 8-12
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019

Some books have a prologue. This book starts its story on the jacket cover with a letter to the reader from some kids:

Hi--
It's us, Ms. Graham's class. We didn't mean to mess things up. But we did. We took things too far, and now Ms. Graham is in trouble--for something we did. We made a mistake. The question is, can we fix it? Ms. Graham taught us that we get to choose the kind of people we want to be and that a single act can create ripples. So get ready, world--we're about to make some ripples.
Sincerely,
Kayley, Kai, Henry, Aviva, Cecilia, Blake, Sharon, Emily (and Kermit, class frog)

The thing is – everyone makes mistakes. This book explores what happens when your mistakes hurt someone else. It begins with a rescued frog who becomes a resident in Ms. Graham’s fifth grade classroom. And is told through the perspectives of eight students through the pages of their journals:

  • Blake ~ who would rather draw than write words (and makes excellent frog noises)
  • Emily ~ who is feeling hopeful about her first day of school, but heartbroken when she thinks her two best buddies are leaving her out
  • Kayley ~ who seems to have her nose in a snit most of the time
  • Sharon ~ who writes in verse
  • Henry ~ who sees the world through the eyes of a film director (or screenwriter)
  • Kai ~ who writes his journal entries to the frog
  • Cecelia ~ who misses her abuelita tremendously and writes letters to her, including “words to practice” that are translated to Spanish; besos y abrazos!
  • Aviva ~ BFF of Kayley but wants to include Emily but then what will Kayley think?

It’s fifth grade and for some kids, the academic pressure is on - which leads to stealing (or borrowing) ideas for the egg drop challenge. There are lunch table exclusions (and inclusions), making new friends (and worrying whether that means you have to leave old friends behind), and desk-top letter boxes. There are group projects that sometimes go sideways – which is how the gang of eight end up in hot water.

Mostly, fifth grade is about learning who you are – and the kids in Ms. Graham’s class get an A for effort. This book came out near the beginning of the year, but makes a perfect summer read.

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. Reviewed a copy from my library system

Friday, July 19, 2019

Taking Cover

Taking Cover, One Girl’s Story Of Growing Up During The Iranian Revolution
By Nioucha Homayoonfar
160 pages, ages 12 &  up
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2019

“I knew I was in trouble when the white jeep made a U-turn. Driven by the Zeinab Sisters (or the Black Crows, as I called them), it raced toward me and screeched to a stop.”

This book opens like an action movie: a young girl is snatched off the street, pushed into the back of a car, and taken to an apartment building that’s under construction. There she’s locked in a room.

For what? Showing the tiniest bit of skin. A sliver of her wrist. A crime, in the eyes of the “Moral Police” and the religious leaders who, after the revolution, control Iran. Post-revolution, the country has become a place where women and girls have lost the rights to work, attend school, have an opinion.

Though it sounds like a dystopian novel, this is a true story of one girl’s life – Nioucha – and what happened to her country after the fall of the Shah.

But Nioucha didn’t always live in Iran. She spent her early life in Pittsburgh, PA until she was five years old. That was when her father wanted to move back to his home country, back to relatives and a vibrant civilization that he missed.

Things were fine, at first. But when Nioucha was eight years old the Shah went into exile and the country moved in a different direction. Where she was once free to run and play and go to school, now her world is circumscribed by rules. Her loss of rights begins simply: she must wear a scarf. Girls must attend a separate school from boys. There is mandated religion class. She can’t be seen in public with a boy who is not related.

This is a book about how easy it is to lose your freedom. Lose your voice. So Nioucha uses her words and stories to give voice to those who are still taking cover. And maybe to warn us about just how easily we could lose the rights we take for granted.

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, July 12, 2019

A Possibility of Whales

A Possibility of Whales
by Karen Rivers 
288 pages; ages 8 - 12
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019 (paperback)

On her fourth day at the new place, Natalia Rose Baleine Gallagher walked down the long, lumpy trail to the beach that lay at the bottom of the slope.

We learn a lot about Natalie, or Nat (as she’s called):

  • Nat is 12 years old
  • she’s moved a lot – dad’s job
  • the Baleine in her name is silent – a secret between her and her mom
  • her dad is famous – he’s an actor
  • Nat loves possibilities – and there are many

Life as the daughter of a famous actor is challenging, and Nat wants just to be Nat. Not XAN Gallagher’s daughter. She also wants to know what kind of mom abandons her baby? “Even in nature, when animals were faced with actual danger, mother animals stuck by their babies,” she once told a friend. The friend who she left behind. The friend who, we learn, did One Terrible Thing.

Nat has found other friends. Harry, who she meets in the girl’s bathroom at her new school in Canada. Harry who is a boy on the inside regardless of the fact their birth certificate says they are a girl. Harry, who plans to write a book to help other kids feel OK in their own skin.

There is Bird, a woman she knows only on the phone. A secret friend, and maybe her mom…

What I like about this book: I like the chapter titles. For example: “The things you find when you aren’t looking.” I like the postcards that Nat writes to Solly – or at least attempts to write. I like that Nat collects words from a diversity of languages to help her understand how she feels about things, and how to describe things. And I like the adventure to Baja with Harry’s family, where Nat discovers that she is definitely not ready to grow up.

Because of her middle name, Nat loves whales. I think she’d be a whale if she could. She loves to watch them, listen to their calls.

Want to learn more about baleen whales? Check out this NOAA website.

You can listen to a recording of a humpback whale here.

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, July 5, 2019

Celebrate Independence Day & Weekend





Drop by for a book next week. 
But this weekend head out to celebrate the Fourth of July!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Pack your duffle for "Camp Average"

Camp Average 
by Craig Battle
240 pages; ages 8 - 12
Owlkids, 2019

I spent many memorable weeks at summer camp – hiking, doing arts and crafts, canoeing, and learning archery – and later as a camp counselor. Author Craig Battle has spent his share of weeks coaching rambunctious boys at a sports camp. Years later he began wondering, what if a camp director pushed kids to become more competitive?

The first chapter sets the tone for this fun summer romp. We see yellow buses bumping their way over a potholed dirt road into camp [I’m pretty sure all roads into camps are required to have a minimum number of potholes]. From inside the buses comes a loud chant: “We’re number two!” as the buses roll to a stop at Camp Avalon – or Camp Average, as the kids call it. There’s a mess hall, the baseball diamond, the lake, and counselors wearing bright orange camp T-shirts. There are pranks, the annual telling of the camp legend, and camp food.

As the kids settle in to their cabins, readers settle in for some fun summer reading.  Except all is not well at Camp Average! Because in the morning, when Mack and his buddies head to the main field, they discover it has been transformed. As Craig writes, “…it looked less like their old camp and more like something straight out of the NFL Scouting Combine, the event where college football players showcase their skills for professional coaches.”

And Mack and his friends do not like this one bit. They were looking forward to a summer of fun on the waterfront, and friendly ball games against the other camps. Now they are pushed to show athletic aptitude. The guys decide they need to nip this competitiveness in the bud – but how?

Over the summer the kids deal with interpersonal challenges as well as challenges on the field. I don’t want to give away the fun, but let’s just say that it’s harder to intentionally lose games than you’d think. This is definitely one book you’ll want to pack in your duffel for summer reading!

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 ARC provided by the publisher.



Friday, June 21, 2019

Shelter dogs and midnight mischief

It’s Summer Solstice... a night of mischief and fun. Also the shortest night of the year. So why not spend part of it reading some fun picture books!

themes: family, friends, imagination

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog
by Lisa Papp
32 pages,  ages 4 - 8
Peachtree publishers, 2019

I ask Mom every single day.
In the morning.
In the evening.
Even when we’re out…

Madeline Finn wants a dog – and finally Mom says yes! Now Madeline has to feed her new puppy, take him on walks, and make sure he has a safe home. Later, when she visits the animal shelter she notices that all the animals seem a little sad. What can she do to make them feel loved? “Mom,” she asks, “does anyone read to the shelter dogs?”

What I like about the book: This is a sweet story about how one small person can make a difference in the world – at least in the doggy world. I also like how that one act has a ripple effect, engaging even more people. I like that the story is grounded in compassion. And I love the warm and soft feeling that Lisa Papp’s illustrations generate.

In the Middle of the Night: Poems From A Wide-Awake House
by Laura Purdie Salas; illus. by Angela Matteson
32 pages; ages 4-8
WordSong, 2019

Sun and moon have traded places – 
Time for games! Time for races!

Did you know that when you fall fast asleep the things in your house wake up and play? I’ve always suspected this, and now Laurie Purdie Salas has collected the data – er, I mean she’s written a slew of poems imagining the shenanigans that go on while you sleep. Stuffed animals flip and skate, scraps of paper fold into planes and dive into the air… even the lunchbox is on a midnight mission.

What I like about this book: Pure imagination! Fun poems that will have you looking at the objects in your home in a new way – and may even have you documenting where and how you left them before nodding off for the night. I am sure my coffee cup goes on adventures as it is never where I thought I left it!

Beyond the Books:

Read to a dog – or two. Find out if your local shelter has a reading program, and how else you can help out. Here’s how one Shelter Buddies reading program works.

What do the things in your house do at night? Find out – and then share your discoveries by writing a poem or short story, or drawing a picture to show what goes on when the lights go out.

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

Badger's Perfect Garden

Badger’s Perfect Garden
by Marsha Diane Arnold; illus. by Ramona Kaulitzki
32 pages; ages 4-8
Sleeping Bear Press, 2019

theme: gardening, nature, friendship

One spring morning, Red Squirrel found Badger surrounded by dozens of jars.
The jars were filled with seeds. The seeds looked hopeful, just like Badger.

Badger wants to plant a perfect garden. That means getting the soil perfectly smooth. And planting perfectly straight rows. All of this takes a lot of time, but finally Badger’s garden is planted. All he needs is rain…. but then a HUGE storm washes away the seeds.

All is lost. Or is it?

What I like about this book: I love the idea that Badger is planting seeds that he has collected from local plants. And that his friends help him plant the garden. (As a gardener, I have yet to plant perfectly straight rows or get my soil perfectly smooth.)  Having your garden washed away by a severe storm is becoming a more likely event these days, but I was a bit astonished that Badger didn’t head back out and replant.

That doesn’t matter, though, because what happens is even more fun. As most of us know (when we stop to think about it) seeds will grow wherever they find themselves. But what I really liked was that "the seeds looked hopeful!"

Beyond the book

Plant a garden. One year a skunk dug up a section of our yard (searching for beetle larvae). My kids turned the now grassless area into a flower garden. Here are some resources for gardening with kids: How to Plant a Garden, and Gardening Basics (with lots of info).

Seek flowers that are native to your region. Check with your local county extension, or find a list of native plants at National Wildlife Federation and Xerces Society

Go on a flower walk to learn more about what’s growing in your neighborhood. Here’s a list for a scavenger hunt.

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 publisher.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast

Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast
By Sophie Gilmore
32 pages; ages 5-8
Owlkids Books, 2019

theme: kindness, animals, imagination

There once lived a child the crocodiles called Little Doctor.

Little Doctor treats the creatures with care, bandaging and splinting and washing off scrapes and cuts. Then one day Big Mean shows up. Big Mean is every bit as big as her name implies, and when Little Doctor tries to take her temperature, Big Mean resists. But Little Doctor persists… and accidentally lands inside Big Mean’s big, toothy mouth – where she discovers something important. I don’t want to spoil this wonderful and sweet story, so please, please find a copy and read it for yourself. You’ll definitely want to read this story again and again.

What I like love about this book: The story seems so simple, and yet is a mile deep. It is about persistence, compassion, and respect. It also alludes to our human impact on the creatures who share this planet with us. I like that this story is inspired by a real-life crocodile doctor in the author’s family. And I really like the illustrations. They show us a lot about Little Doctor's life, from the way she dresses to the cool skeleton hanging from the ceiling of her room. They invite you to spend time on the page, poring over every detail.



Beyond the book:

Learn more about crocodiles here and here

Make a crocodile – you'll find a collection of many croc-crafts for kids here.

Plastic pollution is killing marine wildlife – even crocodiles. Learn more here. And here’s a list of ways you can reduce your use of plastic.

My colleague, Maria Marshall reviewed this book a couple months ago – you can find her thoughtful comments here.

Head over to Archimedes Notebook for some crocodilian nonfiction.

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure


Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure
by Alex T. Smith
208 pages; ages 8-12
Peachtree, 2019

Mr. Penguin is a dapper gent, what with his hat and bow tie and satchel. He has just started a new business: Professional Adventurer. But it wasn’t going according to plan and he’s down to his last fish finger sandwich.

“It was supposed to have been nonstop Adventures—people ringing up with mysteries for him to solve, missing diamonds to find, jungles to run through under a shower of poison-tipped darts….” Instead, his phone stayed silent. And if he didn’t get an Adventuring job soon, there would be no more crabsticks!

Fortunately, the phone rings! Mr. Penguin’s services are required to find a Lost Treasure somewhere in the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. Accompanied by his sidekick, a karate-kicking spider named Colin, Mr. Penguin heads off on a crazy Indiana Jones-style quest.

What I like about this book:

The wacky characters, from Edith the pigeon lady to Mrs. Bones and her brother Montague.

The clues, including a carved saber-toothed ostrich tusk.

An X that literally marks the spot!

I like how Alex Smith uses color to help tell the story. Most pages include illustrations in black, white, and orange – great penguin colors. But as the adventurers descend into the darkness of the basement, the pages are gray with white text.

I like that there are lessons to learn. If a large knobby tree trunk floats by at exactly the same time you need to cross a river, you might want to check for teeth!

And I like that there is always a way to save the day, though it will invariably require a personal sacrifice. So carry extra candy bars – or fish finger sandwiches, as the case may be.

Beyond the Book: Have some fun with these Mr. Penguin activity sheets!

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, May 24, 2019

The Becket List

The Becket List: A Blackberry Farm Story 
by Adele Griffin; illustrated by LeUyen Pham
208 pages; ages 7 - 11
Algonquin Young Readers, 2019

Rebecca Branch is a city kid, born and bred. From subways to sidewalks, she knows how to navigate her habitat. But now that third grade has ended, her family is moving to the country to live with Grandma at Blueberry Farm. Family includes mom and dad, who are veterinarians, older sister, Caroline, who is on the cusp of teendom, and Rebecca’s twin brother, Nicholas, who is his own person.

Rebecca is looking forward to being a country kid. She wants to get a “country dog” even though Mr. Fancypants has been a faithful canine companion. And she decides to change her name to Becket because, she points out to her family, “Rebecca doesn’t fit me…”  Still, she does bring some of her old life with her, like an entire moving box filled with penguins. The stuffed kind, not the live, fishy, flippery kind.

One of the things Becket does is start a list about How To Be a Country Kid. The other thing she does is shout out “beautiful alerts” to remind people to enjoy the natural beauty around them.

Becket wants to be of use, so she adopts farm chores: feeding Grandma’s donkey, mule, and 97 chickens – including the mean Lady Godiva. There’s summer camp, a lemonade business, and tractor-driving lessons. But mostly, there’s a story about family and friendships and growing up.

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, May 17, 2019

Birds! Birds! Birds!

themes: birds, family, don't give up

Why Should I Walk? I Can Fly!
by Ann Ingalls; illus. by Rebecca Evans
32 pages; ages 3-8
Dawn Publications, 2019

Why should I walk? I can fly.
I've made up my mind to try.

A little bird. A big sky. And mama's nudging him out of the nest. This is a mistake - he's sure - why can't he fly like ... chickadees, for example. And not being able to fly puts him in danger!

What I like about this book: It's told in first person, from the baby Robin's point of view. Who knew first flight could be so scary? For sure, kids will identify with his timidity in embracing something so drastically different.

If the text doesn't get you soaring, the illustrations will. They are bursting with humor and do a wonderful job revealing the Robin's emotions. Maybe it was fated that Rebecca Evans create the art for this book - when she was a first grader she rescued two injured baby sparrows and helped them learn to fly.

I also like that there's back matter: a "fact or fiction?" page, some thoughts about teaching baby birds to fly, and STEM activities.

Ruby's Birds
by Mya Thompson; illus. by Claudia Davila
36 pages; ages 3-7
Cornell Lab Publishing Group, 2019

School's out. Mom and Dad are at work.

Ruby's home with grandma and Alex, the parrot. She's bored. But downstairs neighbor, Eva, asks if she wants to go to the park. They walk past the one with slides ... all the way to Central Park. To the woods, where Eva looks up and listens. Turns out that Eva's on a mission to find a Golden-winged warbler, and enlists Ruby's help.

What I like about this book: The birds that illustrator Claudia Davila sneaked onto each page - you have to search for them! I like that Ruby learns how to identify the warbler and shares her knowledge.

Of course, there is back matter! That's where you'll find more information about birds in the city. There's a handy list of birds that are in the book - birds you are likely to find in your town or city. And there's "Ruby's Tips for taking a nature walk"!

Beyond the Books:

Draw a Bird. It could be a robin (here's one way to draw a robin) or a pigeon (here's how to draw a pigeon like Mo Willems). Or you can download coloring pages from Why Should I Walk? to use as inspiration.

Learn more about the birds living in your town or city. Need info? Check out Celebrate Urban Birds and Feathered Friends for activities and identification.

Learn to identify birds by their songs and calls. Here's a "tweet cheat sheet" for Eastern Birds, and here's one for Western Birds - by amazing cartoonist, naturalist, and science writer Rosemary Mosco.

Take a close look at a feather. If you find feathers on the ground, spend some time looking at them. Draw their shape and color them. Try to figure out who lost a feather. The best way to examine a feather is to get a chicken feather or other feather from a craft store so you can spend time looking at it with a magnifying lens. Here's a feather activity guide. (note: it is illegal to collect and keep feathers you find on the ground. You can draw them and, if you have a hand lens with you, take a closer look at them.)

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

How to Care for your T-Rex

How to Care for Your T-Rex
Ken Baker; illustrations by Dave Coverly
36 Pages, Ages 4-8
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 2019

themes: pets, love, humor

When you take good care of your T-Rex, your T-Rex will take good care of you.

Like any other pet, a T-Rex requires the right sort of care and feeding. Exercise is an important part of their daily routine, because they sure do eat a lot – 300 pound of meat a day! From rise-and-shine to brushing teeth and goodnight stories, this book gives handy tips on caring for your reptilian companion.

What I like about this book: I love the cartoony art – it is so fun. And I love the speech balloons that add dialog without all that bothersome “he said, she said.” But most of all, I like the situations that T-Rex and his boy find themselves in. Like trying to teach T-Rex a few simple tricks that any dog worth its salt knows. Sit. Shake. Roll over. And other stuff you should teach it, like manners. And some things you simply can’t teach it, like how to rescue a cat from a tree.

But you know what I really like? I’ll wait while you take a guess…
I really like that it has Back Matter: a bunch of T-Rex facts that will delight any kid and surprise parents who haven’t kept up on dinosaur research.

Beyond the Book:

Can you run as fast as a T-Rex? Figure out how fast you can run. Then convert it into miles per hour. A T-Rex can run 12 miles per hour. Can you keep up?

Check out the trailer for the book here.

What do you think a baby T-Rex looked like? Draw a picture. Then check out this video from the American Museum of Natural History.
 
We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review ARC provided by the publisher.

Friday, May 3, 2019

How to Walk an Ant

How to Walk an Ant
by Cindy Derby
40 Pages; ages 4-8
Roaring Brook Press, 2019

theme: imagination, bugs

My name is Amariyah, and I am an Expert Walker.

As in, she walks things. But not dogs. Not goldfish either. Amariyah walks ants – and she’s going to share her top tips so you, too, could walk ants for fun and profit!

What I like love about this book: I appreciate the matter-of-fact approach Amariyah uses. Step one, find an ant. Step two, politely introduce yourself. I see that this is where I have gone all wrong. Not once in my entire life have I properly (and with best manners) introduced myself to an ant.

I like the footnotes – yes, you most certainly can have footnotes in a picture book!

I like that Amariyah carefully explains how to secure a leash so as to not harm the ant. Not around the antennae, but between the thorax and the head. Not sure where that is? No problem – Appendix 2 illustrates ant anatomy. Yes, you most certainly can include appendices in a picture book!

I love that Amariyah calculates estimated ant travel times and touches on the potential problems of entanglement when walking multiple ants. It’s like herding cats, only with more legs.

But what I really love is that Amariyah encounters another insect walker, and after a tragic accident (resulting in bug burials) they start a joint venture. And yes! there is Back Matter.

Beyond the Book:

Go on an Ant Walk - with no strings attached. Just find some ants and follow them. You might want to draw a picture of what your ants look like (what color they are, how many legs, whether they have big heads with scary jaws). Definitely make a map to show where your ant goes. 
 
How many kinds of Ants live in your neighborhood? Here's an ant chart to help you out.

Make up a song for walking ants (or any other animal)... 

More ant activities here!

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review ARC provided by the publisher.


Friday, April 26, 2019

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Reading this book is better than nibbling the ends off a Cadbury Royal Dark chocolate bar. And if you haven't read it yet - I know, how can you miss reading a Newbery medal winner! - then now's your chance. It's being released next Tuesday, April 30, in paperback. So fill up your mug with hot tea, grab a chocolate bar, and give yourself permission to go on a mini-vacation so you can enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted reading.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
By Kelly Barnhill
400 pages; ages 10 – 14
Algonquin Young Readers, 2016 (2019 paperback)

Here's the scoop (from the back cover):
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest to keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is really kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon. Xan rescues the children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest.

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. As Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches, her magic begins to emerge with unpredictable consequences, just when it’s time for Xan to go collect another child. Meanwhile, a young man is determined to free his people by killing the witch. And a volcano, dormant for centuries, rumbles within the earth… 

Of course, the story is so much more complex than one can blurb on a book jacket. Or back cover. And, say my writerly friends and colleagues, the story seems so much darker for adults than for children. It could be that we older folk have forgotten the portals to the world of magic, have forgotten the secret handshake and password. 

What I like love about this book:

As an emerging fiction writer who can't nail my character to a sheet of lined notebook paper, I fell in love with Kelly Barnhill's cast of characters:
  • A Grand Elder who is nothing more than a bully and a thug, scheming ways to consolidate and keep political power
  • A reluctant Elder-in-Training who prefers carpentry to politics
  • A witch who is short and squat and "a bit bulbous about the belly" - not only does she resemble people I know, but there's that fun bit of alliteration
  • A swamp monster with attitude - who else would have the chutzpah to roll his eyes at a witch?
  • A tiny dragon who believes it is Simply Enormous
  • An abandoned baby, enmagicked by accident
I love the way folk tales of the bog-people are woven through the book. And the origin story: In the beginning there was only Bog.

I love that the book is filled with more than magic; there are ethical questions that make you pause and ponder.

And I love the way each chapter has a title. Some could have come from my own experience, like this one: "In Which a Map is Rather Useless".

Beyond the Book: Check out Barnhill's essay, in which she finds things she did not expect! 

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, April 19, 2019

Get Geeked Out!

Geeked Out, a Lame New World
by Obert Skye
224 Pages, Ages 9-12
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 2018

I love a new series - especially when it contains the end of the world, the breakdown of society, and STEM connections. Plus zombies. And, as Obert Skye demonstrates, there is no better place to find all of these things than in a middle school. 

The Otto Waddle Jr. High Government Outpost, to be exact. Society may be in danger, but middle school must go on! At least that's Tip's perspective. 

Like middle schools everywhere, Otto Waddle is blessed with the usual cliques and clubs - though perhaps a bit more extreme than we're used to. There's Jocks, Sox, Goths, Loners, Freaks, Pens, and a few more. Then there's the Geeks. Tim's group of friends who are thinkers, not fighters: Owen, Xen, and Mindy. All members of the AV club who are tired of being picked on. So they plot a prank. It involves a pinata and lots of grease from the lunchroom. I won't go into the gross details; suffice it to say the prank goes horribly wrong.

Punishment is dealt. Vengeance sought. And somewhere along the line the friends decide to take a stand. They form a secret group, the League of Average Mediocre Entities (LAME). Because, seriously, who couldn't use a few heroes. What they lack in superpowers they make up for with science! All they lack are capes.

What I like about this book - besides the geek elements - is the laugh-out-loud humor and comic-style illustrations. This is the perfect book for car reading whilst driving to soccer/karate/orthodontic appointment...  You can read an excerpt of the book here. But I guarantee you're gonna want to read more.

And guess what! Volume two is coming out at the end of this month. Titled Bigger, Badder, Nerdier, it is guaranteed to be... ah. It's right there in the title! Because Otto Waddle Junior High School is worse than ever. Now that Tip and his LAME buddies finally come into their superpowers mediocre powers they have new bad guys to deal with.

You'll find an excerpt of the new book here.

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, April 12, 2019

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic
by Amanda Rawson Hill
192 pages; ages 8-12
Boyds Mills Press, 2018

There's something about that moment right before the first star appears in the sky.

You know - that quiet time, when the whole world seems to be holding its breath and waiting. It's an almost magical time, except that Kate doesn't believe in magic. She does have some big wishes, though. Dad is gone and Kate misses him. Her guitar is collecting dust because she won't sing without him.

Then Grammy comes to live with them. She needs a bit of watching, because she's gone wandering. That's one big change in her life. Then her karate friend and neighbor, Parker, will be joining her class at school. He's been homeschooling till now. And one more big change: best friend Sofia is in a community theater production and seems to have found a new BFF!

When Grammy tells her the three rules of everyday magic, Kate can't resist believing. At least a little bit. So she tries to follow Grammy's rules (believe, give, trust) to bring her dad back to her. Things don't go as expected, because if the did we wouldn't have a story, right?

But will Grammy's magic and the karate wisdom from her Sensei help bring her dad back or heal the hole left by her best friend?

What I like about this book: the writing is so honest. Kate isn't perfect. She lies. She gets angry. She's just a kid. And while I don't really believe in magic, I really really want to believe that Grammy's simple rules of everyday magic can work for all of us. Because we could all use a bit more giving and trust in our lives, right?

I also like the language. Take this bit: "It smells like cows. Like grass and rain and mud all pressed together in a heap." I may not live where Kate lives, but I can identify with that fresh mowed-grass-before-the-rain smell.

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, April 5, 2019

Sweet Dreams, Sarah


Sweet Dreams, Sarah
by Vivian Kirkfield; illus by Chris Ewald
32 pages; ages 7-11
Creston Books, 2019

themes: nonfiction, women in history, inventor

Before the Civil War, Sarah obeyed her owner. 
Hurry up. 
     Eyes down. 
          Don’t speak.

But Sarah dreamed of a different life: a family and work she loved. When the war ended, she moved north with “hope in her heart, and dreams swirling in her head.” She married and helped run the family furniture store. And dreamed of creating something new: a bed that folded up when it wasn’t being used.

What I like about this book: I like how Vivian Kirkfield shows us Sarah’s perseverance:  when things don’t work the way she wants them to, she tweaks her design and rebuilds. She applies for a patent. Gets rejected. Tries again. What a great example of the drive and commitment it takes to create something new.

I like that Sarah builds more than a bed that folds into a desk. She builds a life of freedom, where she can realize her dreams.


I like the back matter: an author’s note about Sarah Goode and what a patent is. There’s also a timeline so we can put her life and invention into broader historical context. And… ta-da! There’s a timeline of black women patent holders from Sarah Goode (1883) to Janet Bashen (2006, web-based software program).


Beyond the book:

Meet some other black women inventors - click here.

Invent something! Have you ever thought, "gee, someone should make a _____________?" Inventors are the ones who say, “this would be better if....” Here's a video from Kid President about his inventions.

Can kids be inventors? You bet. Here's 10 inventions dreamed up by kids.

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Garbage Island

Garbage Island
written & illustrated by Fred Koehler
288 pages; ages 8-12
Boyds Mills Press, 2018

I was captivated by this book from page one, when we're introduced to Archibald Shrew. He's pedaling through the waves on his newly-invented sea cycle - "a pair of plastic bottles, poked through with Popsicle sticks and tongue depressors like paddle wheels" with rubber band belts, a framework of plastic tubing, and propelled by a coiled spring.

Next best thing to having a shrew as a main character is having an inventive shrew. Until those inventions go bolly-wonkers and cause all kinds of trouble.

Fred Koehler's debut middle grade novel is the first in a new series. Take one garbage patch, add an assortment of animals that normally don't live together, and force them to coexist in a community. Toss in an enemy, a kidnapping, a spider invasion, and mix well with politics and you've got a recipe for a fun, adventuresome read.

This book makes you want to raid the recycling bin to invent your own machines. Hopefully it will shine a light on a serious problem: the Pacific garbage patches. And while there aren't any shrew communities living on those patches - at least none that we know of - you might want to learn more about plastic in the ocean and its impact on wildlife. This post from the Smithsonian Institution is a good place to start.


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, March 22, 2019

Nests

Nests 
by Pepe Marquez; illus. by Natalia Colombo
40 pages; ages 4-9
Starberry Books / Kane Press, 2019

In nature, there are many creatures.

Some live on land, some in the water, and some are birds. Those birds come in a great variety of sizes and shapes - and so do their nests.

This book combines spare, honest statements about birds and their nests with imaginative and bold artwork to put a fun spin on the concept of "home".

What I like about this book:
The illustrations! Natalia Colombo is an illustrator and graphic designer who lives in Buenos Aires. Her usual media include colored and black pencils, acrylics, pen, ink, and markers on different types of paper and in digital format. For this book, she says, "the illustrations are made with acrylics, and with a reduced color palette: orange, red, turquoise, blue and white. The characters are very simple, with large brush strokes and undefined contours and in contrast to the backgrounds. Then I worked on the computer to give more contrast."



It's those undefined contours that I love. They give the feel of featheriness to her birds. The hint of grassy tufts to her nests.

I love the wry juxtaposition of vibrant graphics with statements of fact. And the way Colombo interprets statements such as, "Some birds build their nests in very high spots." Her take: a nest built on the head of a giraffe! What fun!

Beyond the book:

1. Where do birds in your neighborhood build their nests? Try to find their nests and draw a picture of what their nest looks like. Here are some interesting nests.

2. Become a Nest-Watcher! Here's how.

3. Make your own nest out of tissue paper and glue. Here's how. Perfect for Easter eggs (or chocolate!)

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fake News

There is so much talk about "fake news" in the media that it's time to take a closer look. Michael Miller does in this new book.


Fake News: Separating Truth from Fiction
by Michael Miller
112 pages; ages 12-18
Twenty-First Century Books (Lerner), 2019

Fake news is real and it matters, writes Michael Miller. The term “fake news” has been applied to stories that pose as news but are untrue and deliberately designed to mislead. But in recent years some people – especially those in power – are using the label “fake news” to cast doubt on legitimate news stories. Especially when those stories are critical of their policies.

But fake news isn’t always political. There are false medical as well as stories aimed at businesses. Maybe you heard that you could cure diabetes by eating carrots, that an X-box console killed a teen, or that a particular brand of bottled water contained “clear parasites” that no one could see.

Fake news isn’t new; it’s been around since the time of the Romans, when a senator read a false document accusing a military general of being a traitor. And, of course, fake news was a “vital part of spreading anti-Semitism in Germany before and during World War II,” writes Miller.

Why should teens care about fake news? Because a democratic society depends on educated voters, and relies on a free press to hold elected leaders accountable to the public. A free press is so important to democracy that the founding fathers gave it specific constitutional protection: the First Amendment.

Miller devotes an entire chapter to how real news works: how journalists do their jobs, how they document facts, and how they correct mistakes. He reveals the “many faces” of fake news, from tabloids to faked online news sites, propaganda, and satire. Yes – satirical, funny stories in the Onion are not “real news”.

He talks about how fake news is created for profit and for political ideology, and how social media comes into play. Miller dives into why people believe in fake news, bias confirmation, and even how political affiliation affects who is more susceptible to believing fake news. And he addresses the question: when fake news results in violence, can we ban it?

In the last two chapters, Miller describes how you can tell fake news from real news, and what you can do to fight fake news. The most important take-aways: get your news from reputable sources (he lists least-biased sources); read before you share; and when a news story is breaking, wait for information to be gathered rather than jumping on the first bandwagon that goes by. And though Miller urges kids to “debunk misinformation with facts”, there’s research that indicates biased people are fact-resistant.

As all good journalists do, Miller provides source notes and a bibliography. He also includes lists of books, websites and other media for further study. If I gave stars, this book would get a handful! Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Cogheart

Cogheart
by Peter Bunzl
368 pages; ages 12 & up
Jolly Fish Press, 2019 (US edition)

Action! Adventure! Danger and Daring! What a great kick-off for the new series of Cogheart Adventures .

Thirteen-year-old Lily Harman is stuck at Miss Octavia Scrimshaw’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies. She would rather be anywhere else, especially if it involved adventures and piracy, like the stories she reads in her penny dreadfuls – the Victorian equivalent of comic books. Instead, she’s condemned to classes on deportment and posture and the Art of Making Polite Conversation (in French, no less).

Then her father, a famous inventor, disappears on what should have been a routine zeppelin flight. Suddenly Lily’s life is turned upside down. Her father’s housekeeper Madame Verdegris, becomes her legal guardian and brings her back home. Lily is happy to be away from the pretentious school. She is happy to be reunited with Mrs. Rust, a mechanical servant who cooked so many of Lily’s meals.

But something strange is going on. Madame Verdegris is selling some of her father’s mechanicals off for salvage, and strange men metal-eyed men lurk in the shadows.  Then there’s the clockmaker’s son, Robert, who has rescued Lily’s mechanical pet fox, Malkin. Why were metal-eyed men chasing – and shooting – at her fox?

I love the wild adventure that takes Lily and Robert across the rooftops of town. I love the mechanicals – and how each has its own winder. They are as precise as clockwork. I love Mrs. Rust’s wonderful lexicon of alliterative idioms. “Cogs and chronometers!” she exclaims. “Smokestacks and sprockets!”

And I love how the secret of the Cogheart is revealed. I’d say more, but there are metal-eyed men lurking in the shadows, so I must be off. I look forward to more exciting adventures in this series.

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. And drop by one of his earlier posts where he reviews Cogheart. Review from Advanced Reader Copy provided by Blue Slip media.

Friday, March 1, 2019

How to Dress Like a Girl - or a Princess

Apparently, when I was very young I insisted on wearing dresses – the frillier the better. I’m told that I wanted to be a princess. What I remember, though, is playing cowboys and spies, and wanting to be a fashion designer (this will be a surprise to all my friends who know my taste in clothes). So here are two books that celebrate the complexities of growing up girl.

theme: girls, growing up, friendship

Dress Like a Girl
by Patricia Toht; illus. by Lorian Tu-Dean
32 pages; ages 4-8
HarperCollins, 2019

What does it mean to dress like a girl?

There are, apparently, rules one should follow to look your best. Perhaps you have heard someone say you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day or never wear socks with sandals. Thank goodness Patricia Toht reveals secrets in how to heed rules “in your own way”. With great fun, she shows a diversity of ways that girls can interpret fashion advice.

On how to wear white, for example, think beyond the linen pantsuit to: a lab coat, angel wings, or perhaps a space suit! As to that “little black dress” – imagine it as a gown and you could be conducting a symphony. Or, adding a lace collar, be sitting on the Supreme Court.

What I like about this book: It’s fun! It encourages kids to think about fashion as an art, and as a way to self-expression. As Patricia notes, “Can’t find what you like? Then design something new!”

The Absolutely, Positively No Princesses Book 
by Ian Lendler; illus by Deborah Zemke 
36 pages; ages 4-9
Creston Books (Lerner), 2018

Greetings dear reader! My name is Lilliana Arianna de Darlingsweet-Amazingface!

But we can call her LaDeeDa for short. She is princess pink and speaks in fancy font. But Lita, who sports plain overalls and an attitude, insists that there is no room in the book for princesses. LaDeeDa offers to help Lita. She suggests a fancy dress, or bedazzling with glitter. Lita would rather work on a ranch, and tries very hard to push LaDeeDa off the page. Boundaries are crossed. Words are said. Feelings are hurt.

What I like about this book: despite my loathing of pink, this is a fun book to read. I love that the story is told through dialog, and that each character has her own font. And color. I like that this dialog begins before the first page, when LaDeeDa says Lita’s font has no flair. I smiled when LaDeeDa finds herself stepping in cow poo. At which time she pointedly says, “You don’t like glitter, but you have allowed a cow to poop in your book.” But what I really like is when LaDeeDa says that a real princess can do anything she sets her mind to. And I realized, it’s not princesses I don’t like, but the way they’ve been portrayed in our books and movies. But I still don’t like pink.

Beyond the Books
Make a paper doll model and design your own fashion line. This is way faster than sewing clothes for a doll. Here, one blogger tells how. Here’s another downloadable template for a doll. Now create some clothes. Hint #1 – if you don’t have tracing paper, tape your doll to a window and you can see its outline through a sheet of paper. Hint #2 – remember to include tabs for clothes.

Create your very own Superhero cape from an old (large) T-shirt. Here's how (video)

Check out this interview with Patricia Toht where she talks about the inspiration for her book, Dress Like a Girl.

What sort of things can a princess do if she puts her mind to it? Queen Elizabeth served in WWII as a truck mechanic. Check out this historic footage.

We're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies & ARCs provided by publishers.

Friday, February 22, 2019

It's NOT Hansel and Gretel BLOG TOUR

Today I'm hopping aboard the Blog Tour for Josh Funk's brand new fairy tale mash-up, It's NOT Hansel and Gretel. And I'm excited to share this book.

But first, a brief station-break to remind fellow writers about ReFoReMo - Reading for Research Month. Next month we'll be reading and researching mentor texts, and "picking the brains" of established authors. Authors like Josh Funk... So if you'd like to join in on the fun, head over to ReFoReMo and sign up. And now, back to our regularly scheduled BLOG TOUR!

I grew up with Fairy Tales. Thick volumes from the local library: Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Green Book of Fairy Tales, and on and on. So when authors write mash-ups and fractured fairy tales, I'm always game to read on!

It's NOT Hansel and Gretel
by Josh Funk; illus. by Edwardian Taylor
40 pages; ages 4-8
Two Lions, 2019

themes: fairy tales, imagination

Once upon a time, Hansel and Gretel lived with their mama and papa on the outskirts of the woods.

So far, so good. This is how fairy tales - wait! Is that Jack, from "Jack and the Beanstalk"? What's he doing in this story? And what's with the narrator? Instead of sticking to telling the story, the narrator is warning the kids; telling them "that's not how the story goes!"

Who's in charge of this story, anyway? The characters.... who come up with crazy idea. When it's cold outside, Gretel thinks hanging out in an oven sounds like a great way to warm up. And when she's forced to do chores, Gretel rebels. She even scolds the narrator for calling the story Hansel and Gretel. Why not Gretel and Hansel?

What I like about this book: It's zany. If something could happen, it probably will. Why not have a unicorn in the story? I like how the text shows narration, and dialog is easily found in speech balloons. I also like how Hansel and Gretel modify the witch's recipes by substituting other things for "children" in the recipe.

If you like candy, the end papers will definitely appeal to your sweet tooth.

Beyond the Book:

Create your own fractured fairy tale, or mash-up. Start with a fairy tale character you like, toss in some characters from other tales, add a few tangents and side trails, and shake it up real good. Remember to let the characters talk to each other!

Think about the roles girl and boy characters have in fairy tales. What if they were reversed? What if a girl knight rescued a boy locked in a tower? Try switching roles in some of the fairy tales you read and see what sort of story you end up with.

Try your hand at making candy. You don'y have to live in a gingerbread house to make candy. But you might want to make some treats to share with a friend. Here are some kid-friendly recipes.

Want to know more about author Josh Funk? Here's his website. Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It's a weekly event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by Blue Slip Media.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Lost in the Antarctic

A couple months ago I read Tod Olson's book, Lost in Outer Space, a story about Apollo 13. It was so fun to read that I knew I had to grab a copy of one of his new titles in the Lost series. It being one of those winters where the polar vortex comes whistling down with below-zero temperatures, this one seemed the perfect choice!

Lost in the Antarctic: the doomed voyage of the Endurance
by Tod Olson
224 pages; ages 8-12
Scholastic, 2019

Weddell Sea, Antarctica. 
October 26, 1915
The ship didn't stand a chance, and Frank Hurley knew it. He'd been in the engine room with the carpenter, trying desperately to keep the water out.

The ship is the Endurance, trapped in a sea of ice 1,000 miles wide. She is being squeezed to death by the ice. With no time to spare, the crew rescues crates of food and pike tents and sleeping bags on the ice. For fourteen months the crew and scientists of this expedition to the Antarctic had made this ship their home. Now, in zero-degree weather, they would leave it and head off onto the ice. And, if they are lucky, to safety.

Lost is the tale of Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition. His goal: to cross the Antarctic continent by dogsled - a trek of 1800 miles. But to get to the continent they first had to navigate the Weddell Sea. And they were stuck in the ice.

Like other books in this series, it is a page-turning read. Gleaning stories from journals and letters, Tod Olson gives readers an inside look at an expedition that went sideways. There are maps, photos, packing lists, and enough ice and frigid weather to make you head to the kitchen for a mug of cocoa. He puts it in historical context: England was on the cusp of entering World War I as the Endurance set sail. While young men fought and died in trenches, Shackleton's men fought the elements and, sometimes, each other to survive.

There are moments of shared fun: a soccer game beneath the midnight sun; a race to determine once-and-for-all the fastest sled dog. There are moments of sheer terror: watching the ship sink with their stores of food; a wild slide down a glacier. There is no way you can read this book and not come away with a greater appreciation for central heating and a neighborhood grocery store.

Back matter provides perspective on Antarctica in this age of climate change, a list of sources, and end notes documenting dialog and events. If you're interested in learning more about the Endurance, check out the Weddell Sea Expedition. An international crew of scientists are exploring the Weddell Sea off Antarctica, using underwater robots, drones and other state-of-the-art technology. You can read their expedition blog here. But you may want to put on some gloves and a hat first!

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 Blue Slip Media.