Friday, January 28, 2022

Hello, and thank you for dropping by. "Sally" is currently on break while Sue works on some book projects.

Meanwhile, feel free to explore Sally's Bookshelf. There are more than 500 book reviews stuffed, stacked, and crammed into the bookshelf. You can search for a title or author in the search box to the right.

Click on the Archimedes Notebook button to find my STEAM blog. That's where I post hands-on STEAM activities, book reviews, interviews with authors, and thoughts about writing. And "follow" my Facebook page to get updates on book reviews and STEAM stuff.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Returning to the Embassy of the Dead

Embassy of the Dead: Hangman’s Crossing 
by Will Mabbitt; illus. by Taryn Knight 
240 pages; ages 8-12
Walker Books US, 2021

Jake, fresh off his adventure in book #1 of Embassy of the Dead, is trying to get back to his normal life. But, since he can see ghosts (not to mention has one hanging out in his house) he has been appointed as an “official Undoer”, someone who helps ghosts pass on. So Jake ignores the summons to the Embassy.

Until he can’t. There is a state-of-emergency and the Ambassador needs to swear in the newest Undoers so that the elder, elite Undoers can head off on a mission to save the dead-world. At the ceremony, each new Undoer is sworn in, receives an official ID card, a special box, and a name. “Wormling” is NOT the name Jake would have chosen.

After the ceremony Cora, former hockey player and now Jake’s ghostly assistant, wanders into a room. Jake sees a line of photos of a missing ghost – a test pilot from the 1920s. She was investigating a gang involved in the illegal trade of artifacts stolen from the afterworld, but no one has seen her for weeks.

Jake’s first assignment is to locate a career criminal haunting a snookers club in London. Jake’s ghost-handler is so recently dead that it’s his first case, too. What could possibly go wrong?

What I like about this book: 
  • This is the perfect book for today’s political climate. It is about followers of a corrupt leader, growing in power and working to overturn the rules of the Afterworld.
  • There is a Plague demon
  • A wardrobe turns out to be a portal to another world
  • There’s an out-of-body experience
  • And lots of Old Magic

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, January 14, 2022

Read All About It!

 The Daily Bark: The Puppy Problem 
by Laura James; illus. by Charlie Alder
128 pages; ages 7-10
 Bloomsbury Children's Books ~ releases January, 2022)

Gizmo was a city dog – until he wasn’t. For some inexplicable reason, Granny packed up the car, loaded up Gizmo, and drove away from the only home he’d ever known. Now he’s far from his familiar world of groundskeepers and manicured landscapes. There are flowers. And bees. And mud!

And the dogs out here in the country are …. Ginormous! Well, at least they look that way to Gizmo, who is a tiny little sausage dog. A sausage dog, NOT a sausage! he has to remind his new friend Jilly, an Irish wolfhound. At least the puppies are Gizmo’s size, more or less. They are cute, energetic, and friendly.

They are also being put up for adoption to people who might live far, far away. And Jilly has no idea what to do to prevent this from happening. Luckily, Gizmo has a nose for a story, and he knows this one will sell. So he does what any newshound would do: start a newspaper. Soon the New Dog in Town finds himself editor-in-chief.


Will Granny discover muddy paw prints on her keyboard? 
Will she miss that ream of printer paper? 
Will the puppies be saved?
And why does Jilly insist that Gizmo read the news out loud? 

As a journalist, I totally enjoyed this first book of a new series. I can’t wait to read what adventures lie ahead, and what new stories the Daily Bark will paw-print. I wonder whether they’ll do doggie-bag reviews of local eating establishments… 

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, January 7, 2022

Is it Winter Yet?

 A Sled for Gabo 
by Emma Otheguy; illus. by Ana Ramírez González 
40 pages; ages 4-8
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2021  

theme: friendship, winter

The day it snowed Gabo followed the whistling sound of an old steam radiator into the kitchen.

All the other kids are outside sledding. But Gabo doesn’t have a sled. He doesn’t have warm boots or wool socks or a winter hat, either. But Mami is a problem-solver. With many pairs of socks and plastic bags tied over his sneakers, Gabo is ready to go play in the snow. But first, he wants to find a sled.

What I like about this book: I like how Gabo goes to neighbors to see if they have a sled he can borrow. They don’t have a sled, but offer him other things. Eventually he does get something that will slide down the hill, and in the process makes a new friend.  I also like that the opening spreads show Mami and Papi cooking something on the stove: a can in a pot of water. And at the end, Papi cranks open the can and Gabo and his new friend grab spoons and dive into the Dulce de Leche. 

I also like the illustrations. Ana Ramírez González captures the expression of Gabo’s thrill and joy of riding down a hill perfectly! 

Beyond the Books:

People use all kinds of things to slide down a hill, from plastic saucers to lunch trays. What sorts of things could you use to slide down a hill if you don’t have a sled? Try some of them out and see how they work.

Make some Dulce de Leche (cooked sweet milk). You can do it in a can like Gabo’s Mami. Here’s how.

No boots? Try this. The trick to keeping your feet warm when all you’ve got is sneakers to wear on a snowy day is to insulate. Grandma used to grab bread bags to put over our socks. Here’s how to do it: Get two pair of knee socks (or socks that go up your calf a little bit). Put one sock on your foot. Put your foot inside a bread bag. Now pull the second sock over the bread-bagged foot. Put your foot in your sneaker and lace it up. Now do the same for your other foot. Go. Play in the snow. 

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy is from my local library system.