Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater

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Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures
by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater
192 pages
Personal Copy
Scholastic Press
April 2015

Book Jacket Summary
From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.

Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

My Thoughts
This is magical realism at it's best. Everything is the same except one minor thing and in this book it is that mythical creatures are part of everyday life. Pip has the ability to speak to these animals but no one really believes her. Her parents think it's a phase that she she will grow out of and others just think she is lying. This gets Pip in trouble and ultimately shipped to her aunt's house for the summer. However, this is actually to her advantage because her aunt is a vet for mythical animals.
Pip now gets to help out and learns more about each animal; adding this information to her field guide. There is a nervous unicorn, a grumpy griffin, and an infestation of fuzzles. The fuzzles are everywhere and running around town setting fires when they are scared. It is up to Pip and her new friend Tomas to figure out why the fuzzles are coming in to town before they are distroyed.
 I really like Pip and her bravery when dealing with the different animals. Tomas is cute with his strange allergies that throw Pip for a loop. Pip has to deal with a nervous unicorn that is afraid of it's own shadow which Pip deals with in equal amounts of patience and frustration. She is learning how to deal with her abilities and how to convience everyone that she really can talk to these animals.
With names like Stievater and Pearce behind this book it should be a big hit beyond the middle grade readers it is intended for. I preordered my copy and recieved a signed nameplate and an original illustration. It is a cute book and a wonderful start to a new series.

Book Pairings
 Beast Keeper (Beasts of Olympus, #1) by Lucy Coats 
Whatever After Series by Sarah Mlynowski


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins

by Renee Collins
They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time.
Cassandra is a headstrong teenager craving drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and new stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger named Lawrence shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—in jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history—or risk losing Lawrence forever.
 Expected publication: November 3rd 2015 by Sourcebooks Fire

Renee CollinsRenee Collins grew up on a beach in Hawaii. Sadly, she never met anyone from the past on those shores, but she did go on to get a degree in History, which is almost the same.  


Monday, June 15, 2015

Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take by Jessie Haas

15798652 Bramble and Maggie: Give and Take
by Jessie Haas
illustrated by Alison Friend
56 pages
Early Reader
Library Copy 
April 23rd 2013 by Candlewick Press 
Book Jacket Summary
Maggie and her mischievous horse, Bramble, are back for another spirited romp through the ins and outs of friendship.

Maggie loves introducing her new horse, Bramble, to the neighborhood, the beach, and the backyard. Bramble has fun too, once she is cajoled into participating by a well-timed carrot or two. But when Maggie has to go to school, Bramble is bored and lonely and gets into some trouble with Mr. Dingle next door. A misbehaving hen and a midnight visitor finally help to turn Bramble into a good neighbor. This charming and funny early reader flows at just the right pace for kids who are learning that others don’t always do exactly what you want, but that friends find a way to give and take.

My Thoughts
Horses were my favorite animal growing up and I always read horse themed books. I guess my eye is still drawn to them because I found this on the library shelf and thought I would give it a go. It is a very cute easy reader about a girl, her horse, and a hen. It it also about the stubbornness of horses, which I know from personal experience. There is a cute exchange about Bramble blowing out her stomach to keep the girth from being tightened. This a thing that most horses do and it was nice to see it in a kids book. There is an actual plot with Bramble being bored while Maggie is away at school and their neighbor giving Bramble his hen for company. This was an easy read, it is an easy reader after all but still enough there if an adult reads it out loud. This will keep a horse loving child entertained but it is also funny enough for a child not totally interested in them. A good mix of humor and animals hi jinx make this a rather good find.

Book Pairings
Bramble and Maggie
Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season


Monday, June 1, 2015

Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson

Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story 
by Deborah Hopkinson
illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia 
Picture Book
Feb. 2013

Book Jacket Summary
Mikey’s dad has left home to fight overseas during World War I, and Mikey wants to do something BIG to help. When his teacher suggests that the class participate in a knitting bee in Central Park to knit clothing for the troops, Mikey and his friends roll their eyes—knitting is for girls! But when the girls turn it into a competition, the boys just have to meet the challenge.

Based on a real “Knit-In” event at Central Park in 1918, Knit Your Bit shows readers that making a lasting contribution is as easy as trying something new! 

My Thoughts
A nice bit of history about World War I and knitting. I have tons of friends who love to knit and crochet but I have never had the coordination or patience to learn properly. This book makes me want to try again. 
It is a cute book that follows the life of Mickey whose father is off to fight in World War I. His mother and sister start to knitting hats and socks to keep their father warm in the upcoming winter months overseas. Mickey thinks it is all "girl stuff" until he is dared by a classmate. He ends up at a knitting bee and giving his one perfect sock to an amputee solider.
It was nice to see a boy learn to knit in a picture book, even if he did put up a fuss. He practiced and practiced to knit his father a pair of socks. The author notes talk about all the different groups that knitted for the cause. Including a group called the Rocky Mountain Knitters Boys of Colorado who were called upon to be as patriotic as the girls. The inside cover also has pictures of the different groups knitting!
I would recommend for an older elementary age, especially when they start to think in gender stereotypes. This might make some boys think differently about knitting and give it a shot.

Book Pairings
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett
Mr. Nick's Knitting by Margaret Wild
Knitting Nell by Julie Jersild Roth


Friday, May 29, 2015

Queen of the Diamond by Emily Arnold McCully

Queen of the Diamond:
The Lizzie Murphy Story
by Emily Arnold McCully 
32 pages
Picture Book
February 2015

Book Jacket Summary
Lizzie Murphy was good at baseball. In fact, she was better than most of the boys. But she was born in 1900, and back then baseball was not a game for girls. Lizzie practiced with her brother anyway, and then she talked her way onto the local boys’ team, first as a batboy, then as a player. Everyone was impressed by her hard catches and fast pitches. By the time she turned fifteen, she was playing for two different amateur boys’ teams. When she turned eighteen, Lizzie did something else that women weren’t supposed to do: she signed up with a professional baseball team, determined to earn her living playing the game.

My Thoughts
I always feel like I come away with something when I read a nonfiction picture book. It seems that adults forget about them as they grow up but I find them fascinating because you can learn about obscure history facts that you never knew about. Just like Lizzie Murphy and her baseball playing days on both major league all-star teams. It is a snapshot into the past that children can see and learn.
Lizzie Murphy loved baseball and wanted to play all her life. She got that chance and stood up to those who thought that she could not earn a living playing a "man's game." Equal pay and all. She seems like such an hard working individual and in the Author Notes you learn that she made her own baseball cards and sold them to the fans between innings.
The drawings look old fashioned,  more like what you would have seen drawn in Lizzie's time period. It is a good picture book and I enjoyed hearing Lizzie's story. One I would never have heard if I did not pick up this picture book. Don't be afraid to poke around int he nonfiction picture book section in your library or bookstore. You never know what story you may find. 

Book Pairings
Mama Played Baseball by David A. Adler
Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen by Marissa Moss
Just Like Josh Gibson by Angela Johnson

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer
This One Summer
written by Mariko Tamaki
illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Library ILL
First Second  
May 2014

Book Jacket Summary
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It's their getaway, their refuge. Rosie's friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose's mom and dad won't stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It's a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it's a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age—a story of renewal and revelation.

My Thoughts
This book has been a subject of controversy on many of the librarian listservs I have been reading because it was a Caldecott Honor book. It was also a Printz Nominee and that should tell you something about the subject manner. It is a bit odd to think of a book that deals with teen pregnancy, depression, suicide attempts, and slut shaming would end up in the Caldecott Honor list but the drawing are amazing and makes one feel.
I have seen many reviews that make a big deal about the main character Rose being unlikeable but I also remember being unlikable at that age. I wanted to be cool and try to understand how the world worked by reading more adult books or magazines. I also thought my parents were awful in that sulky teenage way. This is Rose all over. Characters don't always have to be likable to have a story to tell. I do agree that the story doesn't seem to go anywhere but in a way it doesn't have to. There is almost a nostalgia glasses on this one and it seems that it is meant more for an adult audience. There were parts were I felt that things dragged but it is a very slow moving story where observation is the key.
I would probably recommend this one to 8th grade and above. It is a good story about growing up and learning that our heroes or crushes are not always infallible.     

Book Pairings
Tomboy by Liz Prince
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Blankets by Craig  Thompson 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Reads

May 26: Ten Books I Plan To Have In My Beach Bag This Summer or Ten Books I Think Make Great Beach Reads

1. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen gets an automatic place in my Beach Bag whenever she has a new book come out!

2. Ink and Ashes by Valynne Maetani
Gotta have a good mystery by the pool!

3.I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
A mystery with clues in a web comic! Count me in!

4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Speaking of web comics, here is the perfect on for my bag!

5. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
Online gaming and avatars are just the thing for summer reads!

6.None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio
Expand your mind this Summer with a book about a girl finding out she is intersex.

7. The Girl of Midnight by Melissa Grey
A race of people who live under the streets of New York? Awesome!

8. Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George.
Like Sarah Dessen, Jessica Day George is a must read. I have to read every book when they come out!

9. Rebel Mechanics by Shana Swendson
A alternative history and a girl who becomes a spy? Must read!

10. A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
I was begging for an ARC at TLA but was unable to get one. Guess I will have to pick it up for a Summer read!

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