‘Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies’ by David Lubar: Creepy stories you’ll love


Rating: 5 stars

David Lubar, in his inimitable style, has created “Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales,” yet another book of short stories featuring stories that include the creepy, the scary, and the thoughtful. All are imbued with the trademark Lubar humor. All can be enjoyed by kids and adults of almost all ages.

Kids and their parents and teachers all know the allure of a well-written short story. It’s quick, it’s great for a nighttime story, and it’s perfect when teaching a 45-minute class. Lubar has written many “Weenie” books. and his latest has short stories that will generate classroom (and dinner-time) conversations.

Many have a twist at the end. Some just leave you thinking. And some have no ending…leaving an opportunity for students to write their own endings.

Lubar also offers teachers a website with a listing of the Weenie stories containing a topical and literary index. For example the links under “ambiguity (of language)” lead readers to three short stories which in turn each have a link to its synopsis and discussion/activities/other useful information.

Lubar is also the author of a set of short stories for older readers, “Extremities,” and an “Accidental Monster” series of books including “The Wavering Werewolf.”

Why 5-stars for this book? Because it fills a real need in the intermediate school classroom — short stories that can be used for a variety of topics and purposes. Kids really enjoy the stories. Adults do, too.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Tor, for review purposes.

‘Will in Scarlet’ by Matthew Cody: Kids will love this Robin Hood story


Rating: 5 stars

“Will in Scarlett” by Matthew Cody is an exciting, well-written story about Robin Hood, the Merry Men and a boy who helped it all get started. Having very much enjoyed “Powerless” and “Super,” Cody’s prior two middle grade novels, I was slightly skeptical about his foray into historical fiction. I was wrong.

Cody nailed it. “Will in Scarlett” is a book about Will Shackley, aged 13, and heir to Shackley House. King John and his nefarious henchmen come to Shackley House when Will’s father is still abroad with King Richard.

Will goes from a mischievous young boy to a responsible, thoughtful and brave young man in the course of the story. He learns about the world outside his previously sheltered existence — and what he sees changes him. He decides he can’t stand by and watch serfs barely subsist knowing that they will never pay off their debt. They acknowledge that their children will also live as serfs and die as serfs.

There is adventure from the first page, and the book will be devoured quickly. But along with the fighting and the characters, young readers will be watching as a boy matures and gains a conscience. It’s a wonderful adventure on all levels and one that is worthy of reading.

This story lends itself to reading aloud with a fourth or fifth grade class. The students will enjoy the action, and the teacher will enjoy the many teachable lessons that emerge.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers for review purposes.

‘Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears’ by Jill Robinson is a story about hope


Rating: 5 stars

“Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears” written by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen is a work of art. The story is touching and the illustrations lovely. This is a wonderful picture book for older readers.

The story is about Chinese Moon Bears and about one bear in particular. Moon Bears are medium sized Asian bears who are captured and kept in small cages where their bile is extracted. They are kept in cramped cages for decades while the farmer sells the bile for use in traditional Asian medicine.

jill robinsonJill Robinson, the author, first visited a Chinese bear farm in 1993 and was appalled at the conditions of the bears. She founded Animals Asia and has rescued hundred of bears who now live a life of freedom at her sanctuary.

“Jasper’s Story” is about the sanctuary, and it’s about Jasper, who was rescued from a bile farm. He arrived bone thin, and his teeth were worn down from years of chewing at the bars of his small cage. Because he was unable to move in his tiny cage, his muscles were weak and wasting away.

After surgery to fix Jasper’s many injuries, he awoke in a place where he could stand up and walk for the first time in many years. While Jasper’s body healed, he began to trust his caretakers. When the bears first arrive at the sanctuary, they are frightened and wary of humans who had done nothing but bring pain and captivity to them their whole lives. For the first time, humans are showing kindness to Jasper, but it takes a while to forget the pain and misery of the past.

The book tells the story of Jasper’s rehabilitation. After he was able to walk and go to the outside enclosure, they began to hide food to encourage him to walk and dig and use his muscles in a similar way as in the wild.


They also tried to stimulate Jasper’s mind. They played games to stimulate his curiosity. Jasper became more and more playful. In time, he became happy and strong. In fact, he has become the bear who welcomes new arrivals to the sanctuary.

This beautiful picture book is perfect for readers in second grade and up. It’s a magnificent tool for teaching children compassion for animals, and how one person can make a huge difference. If the students learn that each and every one of us can, and should, help any animals we see in danger or in pain, then it’s a lesson well learned.

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover picture book provided by the publisher, Sleeping Bear Press, for review purposes.