Friday, May 29, 2009

The Unnameables


The Unnameables
by Ellen Booraem
316 pages
age 10+
Medford Runyuin has a name that doesn't mean anything, at least not anything "useful". He washed up on Island's beach as an infant and was taken in by Boyce Carver. He is trained to follow in his foster father's footsteps as a carver. Medford has a secret that he can't tell anyone. His secret is Unnameable and could get him banished if anyone were to find out. As if coping with his secret isn't enough, a stranger shows up on his doorstep causing even more chaos. The residents of Island have a lot to think about in resolving these issues.
I was intrigued by the idea of this story. Island was started by a group of people who separated themselves from mainstream society during the 1700's (I think, no clear dates were ever given). They believe that everything should be "useful" and have a clear "purpose". People and things should be named for their purpose. Anything that is Unnameable is dangerous and wrong. I felt that there were some inconsistencies in the story as far as using "useful" things and names. I found the Goatman rather annoying, yet I understood the purpose of the character. I loved the idea of this book more than I loved the actual book. I am glad I read it and would recommend it to others who are interested in fictional futures and dystopian societies.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Penguin and the Cupcake


Penguin and the Cupcake
by Ashley Spires
unpaged picture book
Penguin is sick and tired of eating fish all the time. What he really wants is CUPCAKES!!!! He sets off on a journey to find the desired treat. Penguin does not end up where he thought he would, but it's okay because he meets some new friends. Eventually he decides to return home to his regular meals of fish. This is a silly story that might have entertained more if it weren't for the interjections that show up on lined notebook paper. These comments don't seem to fit the story and interrupt the flow. The cute characters were inspired by the author/illustrators own line of felt finger puppets. Maybe she hopes to sell more of her creations to the people who read this book, but I am not buying.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dinotrux


Dinotrux
by Chris Gall
unpaged
Picture Book
Dinosaurs and trucks, an irresistible combination for most young boys. The story of how Dinotrux once ruled the world is cute and the cave peoples reactions are pretty funny. The illustrations are my favorite part. Each two-page spread portrays creatively named dinotrux such as Dumploducus and Dozeratops wreaking havoc on the Prehistoric world. Eventually most of the Dinotrux meet a tragic end and the world is completely changed.

The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail


The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail
by Lynn E. Hazen
ill. Doug Cushman
64 pages
Intermediate Chapter Book
New York, N.Y. : Henry Holt and Company, 2009.

Seymour Snail is excited that his friends are coming to visit. He quickly hides all of his paintings and sculptures because he is too shy about anyone seeing them. His plan backfires and his friends encourage him to be an artist. Seymour embarks on a job hunt that is quite humorous, eventually finding the perfect job for his abilities. This is a quick read with cute black and white illustrations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chicken Butt


Chicken Butt
by Erica S. Perl
ill. Henry Cole
unpaged picture book
Don't deny it, every one of you at one point in your elementary school years said, "Guess what?". Then after your victim said, "What?", you gleefully responded, "CHICKEN BUTT!" That is exactly what one young boy does to his older brother in the first few pages of this book. The rest of the book is variations upon the same phrase. The illustrations are fun. Overall I wasn't too impressed with this books. Kids will love it because it will give them the excuse to say "CHICKEN BUTT!!!!" over and over and over.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Birthday Pet


The Birthday Pet
by Ellen Javernick
Ill. Kevin O'Malley
unpaged picture book
It's Danny's birthday and his parents said he could get a pet. After much consideration he decides on a turtle. His family doesn't think much of his choice and try to persuade him to change his mind. The story is cute and rhyming, though some of the rhymes are a little forced. The illustrations are adorable and full of character.

The Last Invisible Boy


The Last Invisible Boy
by Evan Kuhlman
ill. J. P. Coovert
233 pages
age 10+
Finn Garrett is becoming invisible, his hair is turning white and his skin is extremely pale. It all started on The Terrible Day That Changed Everything. As you read Finn's journals and see his drawings you get a feel for what is going on in his head as he copes with his father's sudden death. Thankfully he has a strong support group of other family members and a wonderful best friend.
I liked parts of this book. I felt his grief was realistically portrayed. However, I did get a bit annoyed with him telling the meaning of every single name mentioned in the book. It just got old after awhile. It was bothersome enough that I would have quit reading the book for that reason alone. The only reason I stuck with it is I wanted to find out how his father died. Overall, I wouldn't say I loved this book, but I didn't hate it either.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Magic Pickle and the Garden of Evil

Magic Pickle and the Garden of Evil
by Scott Morse
136 pages
Age 7-12
New York : Graphix, 2009.

Jo Jo and Magic Pickle are back playing checkers, fighting crime and ridding the world of THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL PRODUCE!!!!!! Jo Jo's class is growing a garden, a nice normal vegetable garden. At least that is what it is supposed to be. But when you combine mystery seeds from the school's compost pile and Jo Jo's Grow Forth and Conquer formula the results are anything but normal. Magic Pickle flies to the rescue and battles the Phantom Carrot as well as the Romaine Gladiator. Scott Morse has kept the humor going in this third installment of the series. His illustrations are fun and add great action to the storyline. A fun combination of chapter book and comic book that will surely engage some reluctant reader's interest. While the book will most likely appeal more to boys, the main character is a girl so should draw some female fans as well.

Uncle John's Strange & Scary Freaky Facts about Peculiar People Bathroom Reader * for Kids Only!


Uncle John's Strange & Scary Freaky Facts about Peculiar People: Bathroom Reader for Kids Only
by The Bathroom Readers' Institute
Ashland, Or. : Bathroom Readers Press, c2006.
144 pages

Who doesn't love bizarre trivia and ghost stories? This is a fun collection of stories that will either make you laugh out loud or feel nauseous, or possibly both. Uncle John will tell you how to make a real mummy, too bad the first ingredient is a dead body, makes it a little hard to try at home. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhen-uakitanatahu is the world's longest place name. You will have to read the book to find out where the city is located and what it means. Or you could google it, hopefully I spelled it right for you even though Spell-checker doesn't seem to think so. These are just a few of the amazing things you can read about in this fun bathroom reader. There are many other titles in this series that are equally fascinating.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Various Picture Books

Hannah Duck
by Anji Yamamura
unpaged picture book

Hannah Duck feels safe and secure at home with her two friends Gigi and KameKame. Every Sunday she strikes out on her own to walk to the park. But outside is a scary place. Will her friends be able to help Hannah Duck overcome her fears. A cute little story with adorable, bold illustrations by the author.

This Little Bunny Can Bake
by Janet Stein
unpaged picture book

Bunny is one of several animals attending Chef George's world-famous School of Dessertology. Chef George starts with the basics, "This is a pot. This is a spoon". Eventually the class is given free reign of the kitchen to create a dessert. The illustrations are black and white with Bunny being pink. As the red text is read pay close attention to what is happening all around Bunny. This wasn't my favorite story, but the illustrations were clever and humorous. Oh yeah, there are several tempting looking recipes inside the front and back covers.

Hurry Up, and Slow Down
by Layn Marlow
unpaged picture book

Hare loves to live life in the fast lane. He is always telling Tortoise to "hurry hurry hurry". Tortoise likes to take his time with everything, to savor every moment and be cautious. As Hare heads to bed one night Tortoise is anticipating a peaceful evening sipping a cup of tea. Then Hare proposes an idea that Tortoise is happy to hurry up and do, read a bedtime story. Sweet illustrations of two adorable characters sharing the joy of a good book.


Baby Baby blah blah blah!
by Jonathan Shipton
illustrated by Francesca Chessa
unpaged picture book
Emily isn't too sure about her parents news that they are going to have a baby. As her mother's tummy gets bigger and bigger, Emily has more and more questions. She finally confronts her parents with a couple of lists about what life is going to be like after baby comes. She just knows it's going to be "baby this and baby that and baby goo goo and baby blah blah blah". Her parents value her concern and discuss with her how their life changed when she was born, for the better. Slightly messy, child-like illustrations might appeal to younger children. The story was my favorite part of this book, especially the ending.

Watching Jimmy

Watching Jimmy
by Nancy Hartry
152 pages
Juvenile Fiction (age 9-12)
Toronto : Tundra Books, 2009

Uncle Ted says Jimmy fell out of the swing and landed on his head. Jimmy can't communicate enough to tell anyone the truth. Carolyn is too scared to tell anyone what she saw. The best Carolyn can do is to help Jimmy and his mom in anyway she can. Opportunity arises for her to sing in a church choir, but she is reluctant because practices are on Ted-day also known as Thursday. Uncle Ted comes visiting Jimmy and his mom and Carolyn feels she needs to be there to protect Jimmy. This short little story about a Toronto family trying to get back on their feet after World War II is touching yet not overly complex.

Monday, May 11, 2009

City of Bones

City of Bones
The Mortal Instruments: Book One
by Cassandra Clare
485 pages
Young Adult
New York : M.K. McElderry Books, c2007.

Clary and Simon are your typical New York teenagers enjoying a night out at a club when their life begins to go awry. Clary is a witness to the murder of a demon by some strange tattoo-covered teenagers. Apparently humans weren't supposed to see any of them. As if that isn't bad enough, Clary's mother disappears and some really nasty demons attack Clary. The Shadowhunters are curious why demons would take such an interest in ordinary humans. But who is Clary? Who is her mother? Are they "ordinary humans"? An action-packed book that will probably find fans among the Twilight groupies. Not only are there demons and demon-hunters, but also vampires and werewolves and fairies, oh my! I must say I expected this novel to be a little edgier and darker than it was. I think I was under that impression based on the cover photo and the Holly Black quote on the front. I however, did not find it "dark and sexy". Maybe I would have had the characters been more than 16-years-old. I can't say that I absolutely loved this book, but I enjoyed it enough to want to read the rest of the series.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Skinned

Skinned
by Robin Wasserman
361 pages
Young Adult
New York : Simon Pulse, 2008.

Lia Kahn: wealthy, beautiful, popular, perfect. Until the car accident that nearly claimed her life. Her parents made the decision to have her downloaded into a new body. Now she is immortal, but is she human? Forced back into her previous life, Lia attempts to be normal despite those around her making it difficult. Did her family make the "right" decision? Many questions about humanity and faith are asked and pondered in this first book in an interesting new trilogy. As I read this novel, it reminded me of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series, both of which I recommend. However, I must give a warning for this book - some mature situations and dialogue as well as frequent profanity.

Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully

Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully
Written by Julianne Moore
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
unpaged Picture Book
New York : Bloomsbury, 2009.

Actress Julianne Moore's second semi-autobiographical picture book is just as adorable as the first. Freckleface Strawberry has to go to "Early Bird" at school when her parents have to be at work early. This all fine and dandy as long as the weather is fine and they get to play outside. However, when it is raining the Early Birds have to play Dodgeball in the gym. This could be fun if Windy Pants Patrick wasn't there. Wind Pants Patrick is big and fast and he throws the ball HARD!!!! Read the book to find out how this adorable little redhead deals with the Dodgeball Bully! Oh yeah, and the illustrations are wonderful!