Don’t miss these 7 children’s picture books about dogs and cats and a turtle and how much we love our pets

There’s nothing that goes together better than a child and a dog, unless it’s a child and a cat or some other kind of pet. In this collection of wonderful picture books, the authors show the special bond that children have with animals. Full disclosure: I’m a teacher, and I believe every child should have a pet. I must also disclose that I rescue dogs and cats (and occasionally rats and rabbits and birds) and always help my students try to convince their parents that they should have a dog or cat. Read on and maybe you’ll be convinced, too.

Continue reading

‘The Last Dragon’ by James Riley is the second book in “The Revenge of Magic” middle grade series

dragon

“The Last Dragon” by James Riley begins shortly after the end of the first book in the series “The Revenge of Magic.” In the first book, Fort Fitzgerald watches helplessly as his father is grabbed by a monster and dragged underground during an attack when they were visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Sure that his father is dead, Fort is determined to get revenge on the creatures who killed him.

Continue reading

‘The Tyrant’s Tomb’ by Rick Riordan is the 4th book in ‘The Trials of Apollo’ series

tyrants tomb.jpg

In “The Tyrant’s Tomb,” master of middle grade fantasy Rick Riordan continues “The Trials of Apollo” series, the story of Apollo, brought low to earth by his father for a transgression, and made into a very human figure.

As Lester Papadopoulos, acne-ridden and with a waist that is far less than Apollo’s trim figure, Apollo must deal with injury, lack of magic, and insolence. Not to mention mortality. He has come far since the first book in the series on his journey to save the world from a triad of evil Roman emperors, but there’s still a long, dangerous road to travel on this quest.

Continue reading

‘Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation’ by Stuart Gibbs is a middle grade book that has ageless appeal

charlie thorne.jpg

Be forewarned. Once you pick up “Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation” by bestselling author Stuart Gibbs, you won’t be able to put it down until the last page is over, and you’re reading the acknowledgements.  Really.

You’ll be hooked from the very first page, which is the Prologue in which Albert Einstein is dying, leaving behind not only his theory of relativity, but something called Pandora, an equation which could change the world.

Continue reading

‘All the Flowers in Paris’ by Sarah Jio is a beautiful but heartbreaking combination of historical and current fiction taking readers to Paris now and during WWII

flowers in paris.jpg

Paris, ostensibly the most beautiful city in the world, has a checkered past. During the German occupation in WWII, many Parisians collaborated with the Nazis. “All the Flowers in Paris” by Sarah Jio is about a French family with Jewish ancestry that is “outed” by a neighbor, and about a woman in modern Paris who loses her memory and must find out who she is and why she was basically a recluse before the accident that caused her memory loss. What she finds hidden in her lovely apartment gives her a mystery to solve, and by solving that mystery, Caroline not only finds closure for the long-ago Parisian family, but also for herself.

Continue reading

Picture books about children and their pets . . . with a twist

Children and adults love picture books that are about animals. In this collection of recently released picture books, readers will love reading about pets, but even more, they will love that these books are not about a traditional pets. Each one is quirky and each one will entertain children read after read.
spencers new pet“Spencer’s New Pet” by Jessie Sima is a fabulous story, and the illustrations tell the whole story. It’s a book without words, and kids love being the ones to tell the story. Even the endpapers are lovely as they countdown the start of the story as if it’s a silent film, because in a way, a story with no words is like a silent film. The reader/watcher has to supply the text. The illustrations are mostly in black and white, with many shades of gray and spots of red — a color that becomes important. The story is even divided into parts like a silent film. The first character we see is the balloon dog, “the pet.” Then we see the boy, who we know from the title is Spencer, leaving a circus tent and walking his new pet on a leash. He is entranced with his new pet and plays with it constantly and sleeps with it at night. But he quickly realizes that life is filled with dangerous sharp objects that could be deadly. Kids (and adults) adore the huge twist at the end that no one saw coming. One reading will not be enough. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Continue reading

6 picture books with messages for children

Picture books are not just entertainment; often, they are a way to show young readers how the world works, and how we all must behave to make the world around us a better, more compassionate, happier place. Here are six picture books that do just that, and readers of a wide range of ages will enjoy them. These are books that should be available in every library and school. They have important messages to share. Continue reading

‘Sauerkraut’ by Kelly Jones is a ghostly middle grade story about making connections and helping family

sauerkraut.jpg

In “Sauerkraut,” author Kelly Jones continues to show her expertise in writing clever and touching stories that include a bit of ghostly action. In this story, Hans Dieter Schenk, also known as HD. His dad was Hans Peter Schenk, his grandfather Hans Gerhard Schenk, and before him Hans Franz Schenk. Until HD, all the Hans’ looked pretty much the same with pale skin, hair and blue eyes. But HD is different. While his skin is lighter than his mothers, his dark locs (dreadlocks) are longer than hers. And people sometimes confuse his father with his best friend Eli’s father “Just because they’re both white. It’s … awkward.”

Continue reading

‘Thirteen’ by Steve Cavenagh is a most unusual procedural/thriller

13

Steve Cavenagh’s “Thirteen” is a unique take on the popular genre we generally label the “police procedural.” But here, that label is not an exact fit. For one thing, it’s not the police who do the investigation. It’s a lawyer, the fascinating Eddie Flynn. Eddie is an ex-con artist who has become a terrific criminal defense attorney. As such, he not only helps people rather than cheating them, he also gets to use those old conman skills when the appropriate occasion arises.

Continue reading

‘Awesome Dog 5000’ by Justin Dean is a rocketing good middle grade scifi adventure with comic illustrations according to this student review

awesome dog

“Awesome Dog 5000,” by Justin Dean with its rocket-launcher paws and a mega-atomic cannon will send you soaring to new heights. As soon as readers open the book and start reading, the cliffhangers get you hooked and  it is hard to resist reading until the last page. This geeky, action, and humor-packed book is sure to please readers unless, of course, they get scared by the “book warnings” the author provides warning readers about what is to come. They usually occur before you get to the geeky/action/humor parts. So, if you think you can resist all of the imagination Dean puts into this book, why don’t you read the first ten pages and see if this clever, action-filled book doesn’t hook you immediately!

In this story, Marty had to move from his old town. Now he is stuck in this new place, where he has no friends,  and more importantly, he possibly could be called the dreaded “d” word–dork. Marty and his mom are living in a house where they think a toothbrush inventor lived. Marty is nervous about school, so he makes a simple list of things NOT to do, to make sure he doesn’t make a fool of himself:
Continue reading

‘Color Me In’ and ‘Slay’ are two young adult novels that help readers understand what it’s like being the only “other” in a room

 

“Slay” by Brittney Morris and “Color Me In” by Natasha Díaz are two books that deal with young women, each of whom is the only person of color, or one of a few people of color, in a school. The situations are different, but both stories are gripping and difficult to put down. They are both movingly written, and should be in every middle school and high school library. Both should be required reading. And what a discussion would ensue.

Continue reading