Posted in Fiction, Humor, Middle Grade, Middle School, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

The Principal’s Underwear is Missing!

The Principal’s Underwear is Missing, by Holly Kowitt, (May 2017, Macmillan), $16.99, ISBN: 9781250091321

Recommended for ages 8-12

Ordinary sixth grader Becca Birnbaum accidentally power slams a volleyball right into eighth grade It Girl Sloan “Selfie: St. Clair, setting off a chain of events that end up with the principal’s new, very large bra missing – and with the girls being the last ones to have it in their possession

The Principal’s Underwear is Missing (originally titled The Principal’s Bra is Missing) is one of those middle school tragi-comedy of errors that middle graders love. Ordinary Girl ends up with the In Crowd, but for how long, and is everyone happy with the arrangement?

I wasn’t in love with the two main characters. Becca is the run of the mill Nerd Girl who doesn’t stand out preferring to blend in with her small group of fellow nerd friends. Sloan, called “Selfie”, thanks to her habit of shooting selfies at all the lavish parties and locales she attends, is self-absorbed to the point of mania. When Becca, desperate to make up for the volleyball accident that left Selfie in a cast, tries to retrieve a confiscated shopping bag from the principal’s office, she grabs the wrong bag and sets the story in motion. From there, Becca takes the responsibility for the whole incident, while Selfie just meanders through the novel, alternately shooting selfies and crying about being in trouble while letting Becca do all the work. Becca never makes Selfie take responsibility for her own actions, preferring to drag Selfie along on their adventure.

Look, I’m reading this as a 40-something year old Mom who worries about my kids standing up for themselves. Are middle graders going to get a kick out of this book? Yes. It’s funny, it’s got underwear humor, and a kinda-sorta unlikely friendship between two school social classes. It’s a quick read, and perfect for a beach bag take-along. But if you’re book-talking this one, talk about Selfie, taking personal responsibility, and stereotyping in middle grade books. Please.

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The Tale of the Mighty Brobarians!

Brobarians, by Lindsay Ward, (March 2017, Two Lions/Amazon Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-15039-6167-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

“Two barbarians, once at peace – Uh-Oh! – were now at odds.” Otto and Iggy are brothers and barbarians, but when Iggy stages a takeover of the land, Otto fights back and the two go to war. Told as an epic tale, Brobarians is the adorably fun story of two brothers and their disagreement, resolved only when a higher power interferes.

This book is adorable. The endpaper maps that depict Otto’s (he’s the bigger brother, so I assume he created them) layout of his and Iggy’s territory, the illuminated manuscript-like exposition that leads into the tale and the epic storytelling style are wonderful. If you’re a fan of sword and sorcery movies like I am, then you’ll hear the Conan the Barbarian-like narration in your head and squeal with joy.

The art – cut paper, pencil, and crayon on chipboard – escalates, dipping into the brobarians’ imaginations to render them as fierce (but still really cute) brothers on wild steeds. The fonts are exaggerated, colorful, providing readers with a wholly fun storytime experience. You can’t read this in a monotone, you just can’t. I read it to my little guy and immediately slipped into epic narrator mode, with mock gravity and urgency at different points of the story. I was rewarded with belly laughs, which are wonderfully contagious.

You need this book for the kids you love. Heck, you need this book for yourself. Let’s try and see my kid get this off my bookshelf, where it lives next to my Red Sonja comics!

About the Author
Lindsay Ward would never have written this book if she hadn’t stayed up late one night watching Conan the Barbarian. She finds the idea of baby barbarians to be very funny . . . and hopes you do too. Lindsay’s recent books include Rosco vs. the Baby and The Importance of Being 3. Most days you can find her writing and sketching at home in Ohio with her family. Learn more about her at www.lindsaymward.com or on Twitter: @lindsaymward. She’s got Brobarians activities coming soon, too – keep an eye on the website!

Praise for BROBARIANS:

“Highly cinematic, both in imagery and narrative soundtrack…Good and campy and a fine opportunity for vocabulary building.”—Kirkus Reviews

“As readalouds go, it’s pretty epic.” – Publishers Weekly

 

Giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive a copy of BROBARIANS courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway here!

Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Vampires on the Run in Maine? Quinnie Boyd’s on the case!

vampires-on-the-runVampires on the Run: A Quinnie Boyd Mystery, by C.M. Surrisi, (March 2017, Carolrhoda Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9781512411508

Recommended for readers 8-12

The second outing for teen sleuth Quinnie Boyd, Vampires on the Run returns readers to the fictional town of Maiden Rock, Maine. This time, Quinnie meets her friend’s aunt and uncle, Ceil and Edgar, who are celebrated writers of a vampire series. They dress in all black, don’t venture out in the sunlight, and are very, very pale. When weirdness starts happening around Maiden Rock, Quinnie’s mental wheels start turning and she recruits Dominic, a new kid in town, to help her get to the bottom of the mystery.

Vampires on the Run is loaded with fun whodunit clues to keep readers guessing. You don’t need to read the first Quinnie Boyd book, The Maypop Kidnapping, to enjoy this newest book; there’s enough exposition to fill readers in. I liked Quinnie, her supportive yet firm parents, her friends, and the inhabitants of Maiden Rock. CM Surrisi spends a lot of time setting up the reader: so much that you kind of know the twist is coming, but it’s a good one.

Vampires on the Run is a fun, cozy mystery for middle graders with a strong cast of likable characters. Mystery readers and fiction fans will enjoy it.

 

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It’s Everyday Advocacy Challenge time again!

everyday-advocacy

It’s Everyday Advocacy time again! I joined the ALSC’s Winter Challenge, because one of my professional goals this year is to increase my advocacy efforts. This first week’s challenge is to craft another elevator speech – a quick response to “what do you do?” that gets the point across and hopefully, generates some interest that could lead to some help, be it with donations of books, materials, or funding. This time, though, the elevator speech is aimed more at the folks involved in the decision process: an alderman, mayor, local government staff members – you get the drift.

I decided to address the 30 million word gap in my speech. That’s the difference in the number of words that children from lower-income families are exposed to, versus children from high-income families. This isn’t over the stretch of a lifetime, either. This isn’t even before Kindergarten. This is by AGE 3. Thirty million words. This is why reading to your kids, singing with your kids, TALKING to your kids, is crucial. Don’t know what to sing? Hell, I started singing ’80s ballads to my eldest when I ran blank on lullabies and nursery rhymes. Sing anything. Talk lovingly. Play. It matters.

So here’s my little elevator speech: “Hi there! I’m Rosemary, and I’m one of the children’s librarians at Queens Library. My colleagues and I are working toward closing that 30 million word gap by providing a chance for babies, toddlers, and their caregivers to sing, talk, play, and listen to stories together. Want to visit one of my storytimes?”

I’m hoping that the mention of a 30 million word gap will get whoever I’m speaking with to want to hear more. If I’ve only got 10 seconds, I want that in the other person’s head, so they can look it up, learn, and act.

Go read to your kids! Read to the neighbor’s kids! Just read!

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Operation 451

451

We live in interesting times, to paraphrase the Chinese curse. We’re in an age of fake news, an adversarial relationship between elected officials and the media, and attacks on our right to free speech. Sarah Houghton, whose Librarian in Black blog I’ve followed for several years now, and Andy Woodworth, of the Agnostic, Maybe blog, have joined forces to bring us Operation 451 (a nice reference to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451). Operation 451 directly opposes intolerance and ignorance and is here to remind librarians of our values, our Bill of Rights, the Five Laws of Library Science, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This year, I’m adding my voice to the dialogue. I’m taking part in 451 and promise to keep working at advocacy for the right to read, increasing information access for my patrons – and helping them learn the difference between valid and “fake” information sources, and working to keep my library a safe space for everyone. Period.

This will always be a book review/reader’s advisory blog, because that’s what I created this site for. I hope to make it more of an active library site, too; I hope to talk about more of my programs, conferences I attend, and my advocacy. Please stick around for the voyage.

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#ThankfulThursday: Showing Appreciation

What are you thankful for this week? Last week, it was Thanksgiving, and I was certainly thankful to be surrounded by my family, in a warm home. I’m grateful for a career I love – a second career, at that – and for the love of my friends and the families that come through my library doors.

Between now and the end of the year, I’m going to have a weekly #ThankfulThursday post inspired by author Marianne Richmond’s Simple Ways to Grow Gratitude. This week, I’m appreciating out loud. I have so much to be thankful for: my own little corner of the Internet here, where I get to meet new authors and books, and talk about them; I’m grateful that reading time is still cuddle time for my little one, and I’m thankful that my older kids will still sit down and watch TV and movies with me, engaging in our own amusing commentary. I’m thankful for hot coffee, comfy couches, and easy-to-understand knitting patterns.

There are so many things to be thankful for. How about you? Spread the word, let me know what you’re thankful for! Read on for more Simple Ways to Grow Gratitude, and enter a Rafflecopter contest to win your own bundle of Marianne Richmond’s books.

thankful