Showing posts with label Middle Grade books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle Grade books. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

     Number the Stars is a middle grade Newberry Medal winner. It is based on real-life experiences of a ten-year-old girl in 1943, Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, Denmark.
     Annemarie Johansen learns that having courage is not about having a lack of fear, it is doing the right thing in spite of fear. She learns about family secrets, and what it means to trust and be trusted. She learns about patriotism, loyalty, about the realities of war, the integrity of her countrymen, and the Danish Resistance.
     The Johansen family quickly mobilize when their Jewish friends are threatened with 'relocation'.
     This little story is very suspenseful without being graphic. I wonder if I could be as brave and quick-thinking as that family. It's the kind of book that made me hope that all humanity will someday learn to do the right thing.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review of The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

What if your favorite characters came to life? Billy’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious
Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life! But that’s impossible . . . isn’t it? Look for brand-new BONUS material in the paperback, including a GALLERY of literary characters, a discussion guide, a behind-the-scenes look at Chris’s process, and more!

The Island of Dr. Libris
by Chris Grabenstein

This book describes the way reading should be--fun and adventurous. Certain authors have the ability to bring their stories to life. Certain readers see word images play across their
minds like a movie screen.
This was a fun book to read, though I would've liked to know
more about Dr. Libris, the mad scientist.
And just when you think the story has ended you get another surprise.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Review of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it's the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only
copy of his mysterious new game.
Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold's new game―before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I sympathized with the main character but I also thought she was a little too self-centered. She's so focused on herself that she doesn't know what it means to be a good friend. I suppose that's typical for girls this age.
The whole idea behind this book is fun and unique, bound to get kids excited about reading.
Included with the book is a website that explains the idea and how your family can participate. It's like geo-caching, only with books. It's an adventure, a treasure hunt and lots of intriguing fun.
My grandkids always get bored after the first week of summer. Little do they know what Grandma has planned.
I hope to keep it going all summer long.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Recommendations from Grandson 3.3

This post contains affiliate links

Grandson 3.1

3.1 got these books for his birthday and loved them.
If your kids love adventure and inventive gadgets they'll love these books.
See what you think:

Secret Agent Jack Stalwart
The Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur
by Elizabeth Singer Hunt

In The Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur, Jack zooms to the city that never sleeps to try to solve the mystery of the missing Allosaurus toe. Starting at the Natural History Museum, Jack's detection takes him to a competitive grade-schooler determined to win the science fair with his experiment crossing his own dog with the DNA from the bone of a dangerous, carnivorous dinosaur. Soon the gargantuan creature is terrorizing New Yorkers and Jack must stop him before he devours the animals in the Central Park zoo!
The Search for the Sunken Treasure

In one of his most daring exploits, Jack goes down under -- literally -- to investigate the disappearance of a diver off the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Using everything in his backpack arsenal from anti-puke pills to a morphing suit, an egg-shaped submarine to Disappearing Milk, he exposes a deadly nest of pirates raiding a shipwreck site. Jack has to thwart their schemes, evade their attempts on his life, and escape the primordial hunger of three deadly species: a Komodo dragon, a set of sharks, and the most poisonous predators in the reef, the Irukandji jellyfish. Can he save the treasure and the diver, not to mention himself? Canny and resourceful,
Jack will delight readers and impress their parents. 
3.3 said this one is loaded with cool gadgets.

The Mystery of the Mona Lisa

In The Mystery of the Mona Lisa, Jack is sent to the Louvre Museum in Paris to track down the theft of the world's most beloved painting. He must match wits with a seemingly invisible mastermind in order to stop Leonardo's masterpiece from slipping into the criminal underground forever. Can Jack's Hypo-Disk overpower a glove that shoots laser beams from its fingertips? Jack's adventures in the city of light demonstrate once again that when it comes to outsmarting the baddies, Jack is the go-to agent with endless tricks up his sleeve. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review of Children's Book of Magic: 30 Magic Tricks for Young Wizards by Konrad Modzelewski

This post contains an affiliate link 
Abracadabra, Hocus Pocus... With this book you'll not limit yourself to these magic words, but you'll actually do magic! You'll be able to break the law of gravity, make objects disappear or even read people's minds...

Some books require an endless list of things you should buy before enjoying its content. To perform the tricks from our ebook you will need just a few everyday items such as coins or a pencil!

Children's Book of Magic will take your child into a fascinating world of magic and illusion. The secrets are revealed by a young, yet famous illusionist Konrad Modzelewski. The book is a fantastic source of both entertainment and education, which will help your child:
  • improve their memory
  • boost their creativity
  • develop their manual, acting and interpersonal skills
  • introduce them to basic physics concepts

    The book contains 30 beautifully illustrated cartoons as well as the trick explained, along with the tips and additional information on how to perform it. The tricks are of different difficulty levels, therefore they are recommended both for small children aged 4 and older ones up to 9. It's a great opportunity for valuable family moments: younger kids can learn the tricks with the help of parents or siblings, and older ones can show off the tricks they mastered to family members or friends!

Age Level: 4-9

What I liked about this book:
  • The illustrations are vintage/steampunk, I'm a huge fan. The entire book is illustrated. The tricks are drawn out with the written explanation, but it's fun just to look at the pictures.
  • The whole book is very well organized. Tricks range from easy to medium to difficult. Everything you need is listed right there.
  • The tricks can be done with ordinary, household objects.
  • With a little practice your child can be mastering the easier tricks right away.
  • This book made me feel like I was part of a big secret club. If you read this book, don't give away the magician's secrets!
  • It's a great how-to book for any budding magician.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Book Favs of Grandson 1.2

This post contains an affiliate link.

Grandson 1.2
The Ranger's Apprentice Series
by John A. Flanagan
They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .
1.2 likes this series because they go on missions and do fun things.
From the reviews on Amazon (all 4.5-5 stars) this looks like a
great adventure series to engage grades 4-8.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Recommendations from Granddaughter 3.2

3.2's Favorite Books

The Lunch Lady Series
9 book set of graphic novels
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Serving justice . . . and lunch!Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!

Serving justice . . . and lunch!Lunch Lady can sniff out something rotten like no one else—and there’s definitely something rotten going on in the library. The usually friendly librarians have become cold and secretive. Even Dee can’t seem to crack a smile out of them. What darkness may lurk in the hearts of librarians? Lunch Lady is on the case! And Hector, Terrence, and Dee are along for a wild ride!
She liked the second book in the series because it was full of fun, inventive gadgets.
Dee, Terrence, and Hector are very excited about Author Visit Day. Lewis Scribson is the author of the famous Flippy Bunny books, and Hector is a huge fan!
And it gets Dee and Terrence out of math class.

But something is a little off about this special guest. And Coach Birkby, the gym teacher, mysteriously disappears the day of his visit.

What evil designs does this world-famous writer have on his agenda? Lunch Lady’s going to get to the bottom of it, even if she has to kick some bunny butt!
Spoiler Alert:
In book 3 stinky socks save hypnotized teachers.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
by Tony DiTerlizzi

After finding a mysterious, handmade field guide in the attic of the ramshackle old mansion they’ve just moved into, Jared; his twin brother, Simon; and their older sister, Mallory, discover that there’s a magical and maybe dangerous world existing parallel to our own—the world of faerie.

The Grace children want to share their story, but the faeries will do everything possible to stop them...

3.2 also likes The Spiderwick Series because they are funny, weird and scary.
Her favorites are books 2, 4, and 5.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Book Recommendations from Granddaughter 1.3

Granddaughter 1.3

Granddaughter 1.3 loves to play the piano. She loves to sing. She likes most sports. She really loves to read. Here is her list of favorites:

She has recently finished this book. No surprises there. Who doesn't love the Harry Potter series?

1.3 said she liked this book because she really liked the main character, Seth. She said the book has funny parts and some danger.

And the Ever After High Collection by Shannon Hale.
This series will keep her busy for a while.

Granddaughter 1.3 also still enjoys The Berenstain Bears books. Here favorites are The Bike LessonGo On Vacation, The Big Honey Hunt and The Bears' Picnic.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Review of The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters by Frank L. Cole

There I stood, hiding next to the vending machines, disguised as a potted plant. I brushed the plastic leaves from my face and stared down the hallway toward the front double doors. Snow Cone always said one day this ridiculous costume would come in handy. Fifteen minutes had passed since the last student left for the buses, but I wasn't about to take any chances. Not with my life hanging in the balance. Leaning forward, I peered around the corner just as the sound of footsteps echoed down the hallway. Was this it? Could this be him? Was I about to be pulverized by Hambone while wearing an emergency disguise I had just pulled from my locker? Hashbrown Winters and his treehouse club of buddies are well known around Pordunce Elementary, especially after Hashbrown's seminar last year on how to give the best show and tell performances... er, presentations. But when Hashbrown accidentally crosses Hambone Oxcart, the death dealer of Pordunce, he'll need more than just the support of his friends to survive Hambone's wrath. Join Hashbrown, Snow Cone, Whiz, and the rest of the gang in Frank Cole's hilarious debut novel of the trials and tragedies of fifth grade life. The Adventures of Hashbrown Winters will keep kids and parents alike laughing out loud, groaning in sympathy, and turning pages until well past bedtime.

What did I think?

Over-the-top hilarious. This book is full of fun and danger with crazy, playground social structure and riotous antics. The characters are larger than life and totally unique. They each come with their own fitting nickname. After all, "if you don't have a nickname you're nobody." Even the elementary school has a silly name--"Pordunce".

This is a fun-for-all-ages kind of book. I can hardly wait to see what my grandkids think of this book.

for outrageous fun.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review of The Secret Cipher by Whitaker Ringwald

Jax Malone and her cousin Ethan Hoche didn't expect the bizarre birthday present that their estranged great aunt sent Jax to contain a dangerous magical urn. An urn belonging to Pandora's daughter that has the power to suck hope out of the world.

Now they must race to Boston to find and destroy the two remaining urns . . . urns that could rid humanity of both faith and love.

Unfortunately for Jax and Ethan, the existence of the urns is no longer hidden and there are powerful enemies who want to use them to control the world. Their only chance of finding the urns first is decoding a mysterious ancient Greek cipher . . .

The Secret Cipher is the sequel to The Secret Box, a rollicking adventure full of family rivalry, magic, questing, and laugh-out-loud humor.

I wasn't sure this second book was going to be as good as the first, but it delighted me. It was as much fun to read as book 1, with some new characters and added twists that I did not see coming.

It just goes to show that things are never exactly as they seem. The cipher was very unexpected, very unique.

The only problem is waiting for book 3 to come out. The Secret Cipher came out earlier this year so we may be waiting . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Amy Reviews Cheechako by Jonathon Thomas Stratman

by Jonathon Thomas Stratman

Genre:  MG/YA Realistic Fiction
Content: Some  intense scenes
Publisher:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release date: March 2012
Number of Pages:  144

Book Summary/Teaser:
Will Rollins, a greenhorn--cheechako--(chee-chock-oh) is miserable in his new Alaska life. In addition to the bully after him, he can't seem to make any friends in school and doesn't know a thing about dogsleds, riverboats, hunting, or surviving at 40 degrees below zero. When Will darts out alone onto rampaging river ice to rescue a stranded dog, his bravery wins him a valuable, trained sled dog, Blackie, and a new human friend as well, an Alaskan Indian boy named Elias. It's Elias who challenges and inspires the cheechako to become a rugged outdoorsman and a real Alaskan. Will starts out by feeding, harnessing and then driving a sled dog team. He learns to throw a hatchet-and hit what he aims at! He learns to snowshoe and stay alive in the cold, to challenge his fears and to push on when everything he wants to do is quit. Best of all, he learns to be a good friend. But when a fierce, Siberian blizzard rampages across central Alaska, stranding Will's family, nearly burying their log cabin in wind-blown snow,it will be up to Will and Blackie to try to make it out alive. With Elias injured and Will's family in danger of freezing, can a cheechako save them? Can he save himself?

Definitely a quick read, but very fun and engaging.  After making the move from Boston to Alaska Will faces a lot of new challenges.  It's fun and scary and exciting.  He learns and changes a lot from the boy he is at the beginning of the story.  He learns confidence and how to be a friend.  He never gives up, even when it looks like the end.  I think this would be a great book for teenagers to read.  I have learned one thing for sure from this book -  I NEVER want to live in Alaska!
Rating: *****

You can find it on Amazon:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Review of The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald

Book Blurb:
On her 12th birthday Jax (short for Jacqueline) Malone receives a surprise gift from her great aunt Juniper: a mysterious locked box that will only open in one location. If Jax's mom hadn't freaked out and tried to return it, Jax wouldn't have paid much attention. She would've assumed it was just another boring present to add to the most boring, unmagical birthday ever.

Instead, Jax decides she must open the box--whatever it takes. So she recruits her reluctant cousin, Ethan and together they trick Ethan's obnoxious, older brother, Tyler into helping them find the site where the box will open.

But, what starts as a fun adventure quickly turns crazy, even dangerous, when Jax, Ethan, and Tyler discover themselves at the center of a mysterious family legacy--and learn that the box was not intended as a gift, but as a call for help. . .

I spotted the second book in this series at my local library--the cover grabbed me. I've been on the lookout for a good Middle Grade adventure and I knew this was the series I wanted to read. I couldn't possibly start with book 2. I must read from the beginning, so I searched for book 1 and luckily it was checked in. I knew if I liked it, I'd have to read every book in the series.

So, Book 1--The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald
Middle Grade mystery adventure
297 pages from Katherine Tegen Books

This was a super fun book to read. It has good, solid characters that I could relate to as a grandma, memories of how sneaky my kids were and memories of myself growing up.

The mystery and suspense slowly builds to a fast, relentless pace, but not so fast that I couldn't keep up. There is a twist at the end that I hope to learn more about in book 2.

This is a fun adventure that I think my 8-12 year old grandkids would enjoy reading. **** 1/2 stars

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

2014 Children's Choice Book Awards Grades 5-6

2014 Children's Choice Book Awards Grades 5-6
where kids, parents, and teachers
vote on their favorite books.
Battling Boy
by Paul Pope

Battling Boy is a graphic novel. It's the latest thing, you know, very popular with boys.
It is definitely not my cup of tea, but I can see 11-year-old boys getting into this. It's action packed and full of monsters.

Myths Busted
by Emily Krieger

I have a couple of grandsons who really enjoy this kind of book. It is interesting and I learned a few new things as well. The illustrations are kind of a whacked photo collage type pics.
Definitely a fun book!

Prince Puggly of Spud and the Kingdom of Spiff
by Robert Paul Weston

I have to say this author is some kind of Brilliant! The entire story rhymes like a really long Dr. Seuss-type book. The author manipulates the words in such a way that everything rhymes but makes sense and doesn't feel contrived. Besides having an extensive vocabulary himself, he must have one really nice Thesaurus.

Initially, I thought this would be a lot of nonsense and I planned on skimming through it. As I read I discovered some well developed characters, and a plot. I had to find out what happened to them. There is a moral to this clever story and a twist at the end.

The printed font is crazy. The words become their own pictures, like the word CLIMB would actually go up the page one letter at a time. The beginning of each chapter sports a fanciful illustration using the first letter in the chapter.

I think kids of all ages would enjoy reading this or having it read to them, but parents will be the ones who truly appreciate its cleverness.

Hokey Pokey
by Jerry Spinelli

Book Blurb:
Hokey Pokey is a place where the kids reign and grownups are nowhere to be found. Days are spent running, leaping, playing, chasing, shrieking, hopscotching, etc.

Life in Hokey Pokey is the only one Jack has ever known. He cruises the dreamlands of Hokey Pokey on Scramjet, his beloved bike.

Until his bike is borrowed...

Definitely a fantasy, but not my cup of tea. I read the first four chapters and just couldn't get into it. However, I can imagine children would love reading about a place like Hokey Pokey.

by Jeffrey Salane

First off, this is a very well written book, one of the best that I've read in a long time. I wasn't sure about reading a book that glorifies the criminal way of life and even teaches some tactics along the way...but, let's just say, "don't judge a book by its cover".

The story builds line upon line. The mystery and suspense make gradual climbs to small crescendos maintaining the suspense from one predicament to the next. There are plenty of surprise twists.

What I learned as a writer:
The action varies in intensity but it is always there.
Character description is given one trait at a time over a few chapters.
Reveals are given gradually and they are logical with what we already know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review of Calvin Sparks and the Crossing to Cambria by Rusty Anderson

I absolutely love the cover of this book. It's charming and alluring at the same time. Magic practically spills from the open door as it invites you in.

Calvin Sparks and the Crossing to Cambria by Rusty Anderson
Genre: Fantasy, Action-Adventure, YA
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Content: Clean

“I told you,” said Perry. “I told you we’d find it.” Calvin smiled and shook his head at Perry.
“You were right, Calvin,” Anna said, standing in awe. “You were absolutely right.”

For years, Calvin's grandfather has told him stories about a cabin deep in the woods that holds an amazing secret. Then one day Calvin and his two best friends find the cabin. Inside they discover more than just the world's coolest clubhouse. This is The Crossing—a magical portal that takes them to another world.

Soon all three are in Cambria, a fantastic world filled with bizarre people, wonderful food, real magic, and even dragons! There Calvin learns that his family has a secret history and he’s swept up in the same dangerous mission that got his father killed thirteen years ago.

Can Calvin, Anna, and Perry stand up to the evil sorcerer Galigore and his grotesque minions? Or is Calvin doomed to follow in his father’s footsteps? This epic adventure story is perfect for kids and parents alike. Full of action, adventure, mystery, and magic, it’s an entertaining read that will keep you guessing.

My thoughts?
Magical and full of adventure, I found it difficult to put down. It has it all, good and evil, dragons, folklore. I got into the main characters easily; they could be my neighbor's kids. Their friendship seemed very organic. Sometimes though, I questioned their dialogue. Some of their vocabulary seemed like it didn't belong to thirteen-year-old kids.

The author did a great job of world building. I explored the woods right along with the kids.

This was a very good book, but it could be a great book. It has great potential and at least three books in the series. I can easily see this becoming a movie.

However, I was a little disappointed in the editing, but I may have been given an ARC. I found the number of repetitive phrases throughout the story very distracting. The other stuff can be overlooked for the sake of a really good tale.

Nevertheless, I know my grandkids will love reading this book.


About the author:
Rusty discovered his passion for writing at an early age. When he was in the fourth grade he was given an assignment to write, illustrate, and bind a book. He liked it so much, he wrote three––most of which were pretty awful. One of those books, however, received accolades at a district writing competition.
Originally from California, Rusty is no stranger to apple boxes and packaging tape. He attended three different middle schools and two different high schools between California and Utah. He lived in Guatemala, learned to speak Spanish, and eventually made his way back to Utah, where he graduated from the University of Utah. Rusty’s first job out of college was the editor of a monthly Utah newspaper. For the past thirteen years he has been working in graphic design and marketing.
On the weekends, Rusty stays up late playing games and watching movies with his family. He and his wife, Jayne, reside in the beautiful mountains in Heber Valley with their six children.
For more information about me, check out my website:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Amy reviews Mom made Us Write This

Mom Made Us Write This in the Summer by Ali Maier

Genre:   Fiction
Content: Clean
Publisher:  Erie Island Media; 1st edition
Release date:  October 2013
Number of Pages: 208

Book Summary:
A sister and brother, forced to write in the summer, and share ONE journal? Ugh.

This is exactly what happens to 10-year-old twins Maggie and Max Pruitt. When Mom comes up with a plan for them to keep a summer journal, Maggie and Max can’t believe it. Worse yet, they have to share!

Through their writing, Maggie and Max find out they have very different (and hilarious) views about growing up, family and life - a conclusion they only discovered because, as Max and Maggie say, “Mom Made Us Write This.”
Mom Made Us Write This In The Summer is a journal-style book that inspires kids to read and write, and captures the essence of sibling relationships. Anyone with a brother or sister will identify with the fun and struggles that Max and Maggie experience this summer! From a trip to the zoo to the annual check-up at the docs – read all about the life adventures of Maggie & Max.

Mom Made Us Write This In The Summer is recommended for 2nd – 6th grade students.

Parents, kids, and teachers will love this book. Parents will welcome the emphasis on strong family relationships. Teachers will appreciate the classroom extension opportunities. Kids will enjoy the laughs, lessons and the “me too!” connection.

“Positive, creative and fun for classrooms and families!”
-Mrs. Jane Jagielo, 4th Grade Teacher

My opinion:

I had fun reading this book, I think kids would REALLY enjoy this one.  It is journal entries written by ten year old twins, they have fun sharing their opinions and teasing each other.  It is cute and clever the way it was done.  I did have a hard time believing that it could be written by ten year olds though.  I have a nine year old and an eleven year old and it just doesn't fit.  Their sense of humors are too mature, and their ability to express themselves with clear, coherent, and entertaining ideas is also too developed.  I really did enjoy it, and I think the idea of it is very fun.  My only complaint was that it didn't seem realistic.  But maybe that's why it would be best for kids! 
Rating: ****

 Mom Made Us Write This In The Summer is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Ali Maier

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kim's review of Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold by Iain Reading
Book 1 in Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series
316 Pages

Publisher: Iain Reading
genre: middle grade/YA

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain ReadingThis first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. There are currently 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series.

What I thought of this book:
Kitty hawk is a great read. I enjoyed the suspense and intrigue almost as much as the great amount of historical information.

I learned quite a lot from this book, from the sections about the whales to the sections about the Yukon gold rush.  I thought it very neat that the author was able to find so much mystery and suspense from an historical event.

Kitty is smart and inventive as well as tough and light on her feet. Her bravery shows throughout the story from her capture to her daring flights that save the day.

I would be very interested in reading more from this author.

I give this book four stars ****

Want to read more?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kim reviews The Delilah Dusticle Adventures Book 1 and 2 by A. J. York

The Delilah Dusticle Adventures
by A. J. York

Book 1 – Delilah Dusticle
66 Pages (Including preview of Book 2, 45 pages of actual story)

Book 2 – Delilah Dusticle’s Transylvanian Adventure
124 Pages (Including preview of Book 3, 116 pages of actual story

Genre: Youth Fiction
Publisher: A.J. York
Release Date: 2013

Available on and
Book 3 – Delilah Dusticle and the Cursed Tempest - Coming Soon!

These books were quite charming.  I found them entertaining, but they also taught some very important lessons for young people.  These books were meant for a much younger audience but I found them to be a good read as an adult as well. 

The first book starts off with Delilah working for a family at a large estate. She is secretly in love with the son and heir to the estate.  Delilah is the chief dust-eradicator; she has a very special gift for this, and can eliminate any and all dust from even the toughest places.  After going on a trip abroad, the man she is in love with, returns with a fiancĂ©. Delilah is crushed and her self-image is too.  She is asked to leave her position, as she is leaving dust everywhere she goes instead of removing it, due to her melancholy.  Delilah is left to find another place to live and work.  The only place she can find work is tending a cemetery and its gardens. 
One day when she is sitting at a pond near the cemetery, a woman comes to visit with her young son. She finds a friend in her, who appreciates her for who she is and treats her kindly, thus renewing her own self- worth and her powers.  The friendship results in a promising new business and partnership that saves more than just Delilah and her powers. 

The lesson being that a healthy self-image can affect more than we know, and kindness toward others can make a world of difference.  We do not know what others are truly going through in their lives, but if we are simply kind to those around us, we can make a big difference.
In the second book Delilah and her business of traveling maids are invited to Transylvania to aid a certain Count Dracula in readying his castle for his annual Halloween Ball.  This job is somewhat different than others, in that the castle is already spotless, and Delilah is put to the job of adding dust and cobwebs to the castle instead of removing them.

 The Count is an energetic and extremely cheerful person, who likes bright colors and wants his castle to be spotless.  Each year, during tours of the castle, the Count is burdened by having to dress with a cape and make his castle appear run-down and filthy.  When asked why he does this, he informs Delilah that this is what people expect, due to the unfortunate behavior of his ancestor Vlad.  Although it is quite costly, and he would prefer a glamourous ball instead of the gloomy ones he puts on, he feels it makes others happy to maintain this charade.
While working for the Count, he and Delilah have some very enlightening conversations about the dust-eradicating powers that Delilah is gifted with.  Delilah finds out that she is a Brownie, or a Dust Fairy; blessed with the gift of controlling dust.  This is how Delilah is able to decorate the castle as the Count has requested.  Delilah is very shocked to learn all of this information and her head is filled with the idea that she certainly is quite special.  When the guests arrive, the Count informs Delilah that she may want to try to keep her gifts under wraps, as she may be in danger if any of his guests discover what she is.  The Count turns out to be right, and Delilah is kidnapped by one of the guests, a woman consumed with making people believe that she is well liked and famous.  Delilah’s friends now must figure out a way to get her back safely and unharmed.  They come together and make quite a miraculous rescue.  It turns out that the kidnapper has spent all of her money on making herself appear to be adored and famous, and she wanted Delilah to use her powers and make them appear to be her own, which would really make her special. 

This never ending need to make herself seem more important has left the kidnapper friendless and people actually find her to be quite boring since the only thing she ever talks about is herself and how wonderful and beautiful she is. In the end when all is solved the Count comes to the realization that he doesn’t care what people expect, and from now on he will be throwing parties that really shows who he is, instead of what other people think or expect him to be.
 The lesson of the story is to embrace your unique gifts instead of conforming to what others want you to do or to be like.  Your life is your own, and you will only be happiest when you are true to yourself.

I can’t wait for the next book in this series.  I would place these books at the same level as Amelia Bedelia. I used to love those books as a kid, and Delilah Dusticle would have been right there along with that series if it had been around at that time. I think these are extremely entertaining stories with plenty of adventure as well as a bit of silliness and fantasy.  The lessons these stories teach just make them all the better.  I would definitely recommend these books to any of my friends who are looking for something wonderful for their children to read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wendy reviews 39 Clues Series


39 Clues Series by Rick Riordan and various authors

Title: Maze of Bones
Series: 39 Clues
Genre: Children’s Chapter books (age 8-12)
Content:  grades 3-12
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release date: September  2008

Book Blurb:

The first book in this groundbreaking multimedia series sends readers around the world on the hunt for the 39 Clues. Written by #1 NYT bestseller Rick Riordan, and backed by $100,000 in prizes!

Minutes before she died Grace Cahill changed her will, leaving her decendants an impossible decision: "You have a choice - one million dollars or a clue."

Grace is the last matriarch of the Cahills, the world's most powerful family. Everyone from Napoleon to Houdini is related to the Cahills, yet the source of the family power is lost. 39 Clues hidden around the world will reveal the family's secret, but no one has been able to assemble them. Now the clues race is on, and young Amy and Dan must decide what's important: hunting clues or uncovering what REALLY happened to their parents.

What I liked:

I read the entire series (11 books) with my son, I enjoyed being able to talk to him about it.   The main characters are a brother and sister, appealing to both genders.  The kids travel around the world figuring out clues to the ultimate treasure hunt.  Besides being a fun mystery I learned interesting things about the places they traveled and interesting facts about important people throughout history like Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, and Shakespeare.  I highly recommend reading it with your kids either aloud or book club style.   (note: the books are written by different authors, if you are looking for them in the library they will be in the “series” section)

Where to purchase: http:   //

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mary Ann Reviews Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Janitors by Tyler Whitesides

Book 1 in the Janitors series
Genre: Middle Grade
Content: mild language, moderate violence throughout. The end seems a little rough for a middle grade, but nothing worse than Harry Potter which my grade-school grand kids have read.
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Pages: paperback edition is 288 pages

Book blurb: Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography? Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. Twelve-year-old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides. You'll never look at a mop the same way again.

What I liked about this book: The Action is non-stop from the beginning and builds to a crescendo. It's a wild ride. I totally get why kids love to read this. It is imaginative and crazy fun.

Spencer and Daisy both learn some valuable lessons. I think the part I like best is the reading guide at the end. The author asks thought-provoking questions designed to get the kids to think about what they would've done, how would they have handled the situation, and were Spencer's choices good ones or not-so-good ones?

My Rating: ****

Where to buy: