Monday, March 19, 2012

Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port Angus

Dalen & Gole: Scandal in Port Angus
by Mike Deas
juvenile graphic novel
123 pages
Victoria, BC : Orca Book Publishers, c2011

Dalen & Gole are a couple of youngsters from the planet Budap. When they unexpectedly lose the Annual Junior-Jet Racer Competition Dalen is happy for the kid that did win whereas Gole is suspicious of him and his Jet Racer. As they explore the winner's garage they discover a tunnel that leads them straight to Port Angus, USA, Earth. Finding themselves in a strange new world the friends are again divided in their reaction. Dalen is all about getting back to Budap while Gole is determined to find out what is going on between the two planets. They befriend a young girl, and frighten many more Earthlings. They are chased by big brutes with guns and end up disguising themselves in some pretty silly costumes. There is action, humor, and a few life lessons in this short, easy-to-read graphic novel. The illustrations are fun and colorful with very easy-to-follow panels. Will Dalen and Gole make it back to Budap? What are the gray slippery things that Budap wants and Port Angus has? Third-graders on up should enjoy this exciting new tale that is hopefully the beginning of a new series. Check out their website for new weekly comics and other fun stuff. WWW.DALENANDGOLE.COM

Gooney Bird on the Map

 Gooney Bird on the Map
by Lois Lowry
ill. by Middy Thomas
125 pages
intermediate chapter book
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011

The one-and-only Gooney Bird Greene is back with another idea! Gooney Bird is quite the individual. She is in second-grade and doesn't care what anyone else thinks about her wardrobe, her ideas or anything! She shows kids that it is okay to wear mismatched socks, to talk to the principal and to beat whatever you want for lunch. Her class is studying US geography right before February vacation time. There are three students in the class going to relatively exotic destinations and they can't help but brag to the class over and over and over again. Gooney Bird thinks up a plan to involve the whole class, in fact the whole school in a geography lesson they will not soon forget. She works her magic to tone down the boasters and make those staying at home feel good, all at the same time. She even teachers her class about observing "a moment of silence" to honor sad things. The Gooney Bird Greene series is a fun series for those just starting into chapter books. Lois Lowry is a wonderfully diverse author that reaches out to all age groups. My only complaint is that the teacher seems to allow free-spirited Gooney Bird a little too much control and influence in her classroom. This is a bit too unrealistic in most classroom settings.

The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder

The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder
Goofballs #1
by Tony Abbott
ill. by Colleen Madden
101 pages
intermediate mystery
New York : Egmont USA, 2012

Tony Abbott of Secrets of Droon fame has launched a new series for the intermediate chapter book crowd.  At a slightly easier reading level than his previous series this is the perfect book for those just starting into chapter books.
Jeff is the original Goofball. At the same young age he earned that nickname he also solved his first case as a private eye. A few years later he met Brian and instantly knew he was a fellow Goofball. The two later joined forces with Mara and Kelly. The foursome has since solved many mysteries in their hometown. Their newest case begins with a bizarre phone call from Randall Crandall who lives in the wealthiest part of town. When they arrive at his mansion (which is bigger than the White House) they quickly discover that Randall Crandall is not what they expected. His missing Thunder is even more unexpected. But never fear, The Goofballs will use their local library and their brains to uncover the culprits!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Who Was Jim Henson?

Who Was Jim Henson?
by Joan Holub
ill. Nancy Harrison
juvenile biography
106 pages
New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2010

Jim Henson was always a creative boy, inspired by his grandmother, Dear. When he was a young boy televisions began appearing in people's homes. From the moment his family acquired one, Jim knew he wanted to work in TV. He got his start on a puppet show. We all know where it went from there. Jim Henson is famous for his Muppets. His Muppets helped make Sesame Street the raging success it still is today. He even went on to make movies and many other TV shows, though none were ever as successful as The Muppets and Sesame Street. He was a n even-tempered man who loved his children. In fact he always felt like a kid at heart himself. It is a joy to learn about the life of a man that has brought so much entertainment into the lives of people of all-ages all over the world. If you read this book you will learn what the original Kermit the Frog was made out of. You will also learn a great deal about various kinds of puppets and how they work. It might surprise you how many puppeteering innovations were created or inspired by Jim Henson and his Muppets.
This short biography is perfect for younger elementary students or older students struggling to read. The chapters are short with reader-friendly text and numerous black and white illustrations that add character to the story. There are many more biographies in this fun series so even if you or your child aren't interested in Jim Henson, there is sure to be one that will grab your interest.

Starters by Lissa Price

by Lissa Price
teen dystopian
335 pages
March 13th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

At first, Callie didn't think much about the war being fought in the Pacific Ocean, it was just too far away from her southern California home. Then they started launching contaminated warheads towards land. Luckily a vaccine was developed to protect people from the deadly spores. Unluckily, there was only time to vaccinate the weakest most vulnerable groups of people before the Spores hit. The children and the elderly were saved. No one in the middle survived. Grandparents had to claim the children or the children had to turn to a life on the streets where they had to fight to survive and they had no rights or privileges. This all happened a few years before our story begins. Sixteen-year-old Callie is doing everything she can to protect and provide for her younger brother Tyler. He is only seven-years-old and ill with a rare lung disease. Callie thinks she has the perfect solution when she hears about Prime Destinations, otherwise known as the body bank. She just has to let them implant a small chip in her head and then wealthy Enders (old people) can rent her body for a few days. She just has to do this three times and she will have enough money to get a house and bribe the right people to keep Tyler and herself safe. But of course, most things that seem that easy are just too good to be true! Oh Callie, why didn't you read the fine print?
An exciting book that will keep you turning-pages late into the night. I am not a fan of the cover though, I felt it didn't really fit the story.
I received an advance copy free of charge from the publishers via Goodreads.

Pearl Verses the World

Pearl Verses the World
by Sally Murphy
ill. Heather Potter
intermediate novel in verse
73 pages
Published August 23rd 2011 by Candlewick Press

Young Pearl is trying to cope with many things at one time. At school she is lonely and friendless, "a group of one". Her teacher is constantly demanding poetry that rhymes, but how can Pearl do that when there is no rhyme or reason in her life. At home she is lonely and sad. Her beloved grandmother who has always been part of her life is ill and doesn't even know Pearl anymore. Her mom is busy caring for Granny or losing herself in a book leaving no time to help Pearl. Then one day she is summoned to the principal's office - what has she done? As things culminate Pearl realizes she isn't as friendless as she once was. She also begins to come to terms with the loss of Granny, realizing that although she isn't there physically, her memories surround Pearl and she will never forget the wise woman who helped raise her. Sally Murphy does a beautiful job of expressing emotions in this short free-verse novel. As I read, I wanted to reach out and hug Pearl and let her know she wasn't alone! This is a perfect book to help elementary school kids cope with the illness and death of a grandparent. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon 
by Audrey Penn
ill. by Barbara L. Gibson
unpaged board book

Chester Raccoon and his friends play a colorful game of I Spy as they explore their forest. Each page is told in rhyme showing the colors they find.   The adorable illustrations are full of personality making it fun for the child who is learning their colors as well as the adult reading it to them. Short and sweet, the perfect book for board book format. At the end the reader is invited to play along with Chester "day or night", "beginning with WHITE". A delightful finish to a book that almost makes me wish my son was young enough again to share it with.

Digital galley received free of charge courtesy of Tangledwood Press via NetGalley. 

Birthday Suit by Olive Senior

Birthday Suit
by Olive Senior
ill. Eugenie Fernandes
unpaged picture book

No doubt about it, young Johnny's favorite outfit is his birthday suit. Especially when he is playing in the water. His mom finally decides that he has reached an age where he really should keep his clothes on. She devises many methods to make him do so with very little success.
                              "Johnny's jellyfish squirming
                                slippery worming
                                jump-about jostling
                                writhing and tossing"
always will set him free. Will he ever grow up and learn that there is a time and a place for his birthday suit and a time and a place for clothing?
The lively illustrations are a perfect match for the tale that will hit home for many parents. Children too will be entertained by Little Johnny's antics.

Digital galley received free of charge courtesy of Annick Press via NetGalley.