Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Reads: Savvy and Scumble

So, I forgot to post last week.  Oops.  To make up for it, I'm giving you a twofer today.  I loved both of these books--so did my oldest boy--and we both are waiting for the promised third installment.  And the movie.  (Fingers crossed that both actually happen.)

by Ingrid Law

For: Ages 8-12

Genre: Fantasy

Published: 2008

Description: Thirteen is when a Beaumont’s savvy hits—and with one brother who causes hurricanes and another who creates electricity, Mibs Beaumont is eager to see what she gets. But just before the big day, Poppa is in a terrible accident. And now all Mibs wants is a savvy that will save him. In fact, Mibs is so sure she’ll get a powerful savvy that she sneaks a ride to the hospital on a rickety bus with her sibling and the preacher’s kids in tow. After this extraordinary adventure—full of talking tattoos and a kidnapping—not a soul on board will ever be the same.

Why I Liked It: You know, I love fantasies, but most of them are seeped in European history.  But this was a true stars and stripes fantasy. It's wild and wacky but heartfelt...and completely American.  Ingrid does a great job with subtle humor, too, so this book is one part adventure, one part fantasy, one part humorous, but with meat on it.  It deserved the Newbery Honor it received, in my opinion.

by Ingrid Law

For: Ages 8-12

Genre: Fantasy

Published: 2010

Description: It's nine years after Savvy, and Mibs' cousin Ledge is on the verge of turning thirteen. More than anything, he wants the power to run like the wind. But when his birthday comes, he discovers that his savvy is actually making things fall apart. It starts out with small things, but then it gets worse. To top it all off, someone outside the family has witnessed his destruction. Now, in addition to trying to figure out how to control - or scumble - his savvy, he's got to worry about how to protect the family secrets. Over the course of one amazing summer, Ledge learns a lot about himself and his family, makes a new - and very unlikely - friend, and learns to appreciate his newfound skills.

Why I Liked it: This was just as good as the first (maybe better).  I enjoyed seeing glimpses of the characters from the first book, but I adored the new characters who take center stage.  Again, this was  wild and entertaining but had substance as well.  I found the savvies particularly clever, but I mostly enjoyed that the troubles Ledge finds himself in with his own savvy are, destructive.  Perfect for the boy readers out there.

Do you know of any other fantasies like these?  I've been searching, but to no avail.  If you know of some, please share in the comments below.

And Happy Friday Reading!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Friday Reads: A Curse Dark As Gold

Okay, so it's actually Monday.  Let's just call this my Friday Reads: Monday Edition.

In my defense, I have been offline pulling together and practicing my presentation tomorrow at the Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers Workshop tomorrow.  I just realized I completely forgot to post my Friday Reads suggestion on Friday.  Oh, well, better late than never, right?

On another note, I have had the privilege of getting to know Elizabeth a little on a message board I frequent.  It was there that I first heard about this book.

 A Curse Dark as Gold
by Elizabeth C. Bunce

For: Ages 12-18

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale retelling

Published: 2008

Description: Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family's woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father's death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother's ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she's always called home.

Why I liked it: This book has romance, suspense, and some spookiness, too.  And I loved seeing deeper into the characters lives behind the already familiar story.  As usual, I was drawn to the characters, but more than anything I do love that it ended on a more uplifting note than the original fairy tale.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Reads: Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians

Now, I really do love librarians. I even wanted to be one when I grew up. So I doubt there are many evil librarians in the world. So, librarians, no offense.

Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians
by Brandon Sanderson

For: Ages 8-12

Genre: Humorous fantasy/science fiction, Humorous Action/Adventure

Published: 2007

Description: A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.
Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the world. The sand will give the Librarians the edge they need to achieve world domination. Alcatraz must stop them! infiltrating the local library, armed with nothing but eyeglasses and a talent for klutziness.

Why I liked it: This book was pure fun from the first page clear to the last.  And the premise was one of the most clever I have ever come across.  I read this aloud to my middle-grade aged boys, and they loved it as much as I did.  Word of caution: it's probably best not to read this as a bedtime story like I did.  Nobody slept much when I did.  We were too busy laughing.  Also of note: this is the first in a whole series of books.  You should read them all, imo.

Do you know of any other humorous fantasy or science fiction novels?  If you do, please share them with me in the comments below.

Happy Weekend Reading!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

See the Pretty Butterflies!

Kimberley Griffiths Little and I met through that other blog I started two years ago (exactly 2 years ago, in fact.  You should head over there and enter to win the NOOK Simple Touch and $25 B&N gift card we're giving away in celebration.  But I digress...).  Kimberley and I are now good friends, so I couldn't resist the urge to celebrate the cover reveal of her newest book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME.

Isn't it pretty?  I love this cover. And I can't wait to get a copy of the book for my home library.  I also love this because I am also working on a book with butterflies in it.  Great minds think alike and all that.

But, unfortunately, I'll have to wait until 2013 to get a copy.  If you, however, are a book blogger, you could be one of three lucky people to snag an ARC.  All you need to do is head on over to Kimberley's blog and enter her amazing 9-book giveaway.  For the rest of us, she's offering three copies of her amazing THE HEALING SPELL (I love this book) and three copies of her amazing CIRCLE OF SECRETS (ditto).

Here's the link.

Now go!  Hurry up, because she's choosing winners next week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Reads: Robot Zot!

I've been a Jon Scieszka fan since my kids and I discovered The Stinky Cheese Man about a decade ago. In fact, pick up any of his books and you won't be disappointed.

Robot Zot!
by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon

For: 3 and up

Genre: Humorous picture book

Published: 2009

Description:  From the minds of Scieszka and Shannon comes a tale of a quixotic robot determined to conquer the earth. The only problem is that the earth he lands on is a suburban kitchen and he is three inches tall. Robot Zot, the fearless and unstoppable warrior, leaves a trail of destruction as he encounters blenders, toasters, and televisions. But when he discovers the princess...a pink cell phone...his mission takes a new course. Robot Zot must learn how to be a hero - in the name of true love.

Why I liked it: As usual, Jon Scieszka manages to entertain readers with this quirky but hilarious book.  I love Jon Scieszka's humor and his unique perspective.  And this book is full of both.  The pink cell phone...*chuckles at the absurdity of it all*.  

Do you know of some humorous pictures books that I can share with my kids?  Please let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!