Tag Archives: books

Rise of the Jumbies Review

MG-Baptiste-RiseoftheJumbiesRise of the Jumbies (The Jumbies #2) by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers, 2017. 978-1616206659

Synopsis: Even though Corrine has tried to get on with her life after banishing Severine, her neighbors are still distrustful of her because she is half Jumbie. So when Corrine is blamed when the village’s children begin to go missing, she decides to seek the help of the mysterious Mama D’Leau, who sends Corrine and her friends on a journey across the ocean that will change them forever.

Why I picked it up: I heard an interview with the author on NPR and my husband thought it was a perfect pick for my blog.

Why I finished it: Corrine doesn’t feel as strong and as brave as she was when the reader first meets her in The Jumbies because her world has been shaken, so it seems appropriate that the book begins with an earthquake. Corrine just wants people to trust her again, but the prejudices against Jumbies run deep in their village. Mama d’Leau seems to be Corrine’s chance at redemption, but the old Jumbie is crafty and seemingly unscrupulous: she offers to help Corrine and her friends if they will retrieve a stone that was lost to her. What the children see on their trek across the ocean is almost as eye opening as the realization that Corrine is half Jumbie. Baptiste’s broaching of the subject of slavery is a tough topic – something that was spoken about in the NPR interview – and it isn’t easy to present it to middle readers. Plus, it’s not exactly a topic that gets brought up in every day conversation. Yet, the way the story is constructed, Baptiste is able to show us the horrors of the slave trade without making things so ugly that it overshadows the rest of the plot, which is still full of the same magic and mythos as its predecessor. It’s a fantastic adventure that leaves room for even more Jumbies stories.

Other related materials: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste; Akata Witch by Nnedi Okafor; Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okafor; The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrations by Jon Klassen; Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley; Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder; Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk; Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai; The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie; Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani; Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan; The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews

The Jumbies Review

jumbies_1The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers, 2015. 978-1616204143

Synopsis: Corrine La Mer isn’t afraid of anything – until the day she meets Severine. Severine is charismatic and beautiful, but she’s also part of an ancient race that occupied the island from before men came: the Jumbies. When Severine reveals that she plans to rid the island of all humans, Corrine and her friends must find a way to stop the Jumbie before she drastically changes everything they know.

Why I picked it up: I heard an interview with the author on NPR about her second book Rise of the Jumbies and my husband thought it and Jumbies were a perfect pick for my blog.

Why I finished it: Jumbies is a magical, supernatural tale that draws on the mythology of the Caribbean and features an array of creatures that are guaranteed to make one want to sleep with the lights on. Corrine, despite having heard some of the stories, doesn’t truly believe the Jumbies could be real until she meets Severine and she begins to work her way into Corrine’s life. She may not be afraid, but her ability to sense danger tells her that something is wrong. Her courage is truly tested as the story continues, giving the reader the sense that despite adversity, it is possible to overcome even the most difficult obstacles. We identify with Corrine, Dru, Malik, and Bouki because there are times when we are also afraid and unsure of ourselves; but it is our reliance on our friends that will get us through even the most dire of circumstances. Baptiste is a gifted story teller, transporting us to a tropical island whose culture is infused with magic and mysticism. The reader can almost feel the sea breezes and feel the sand between their toes. It’s a fast read that is bound to be liked by even those of us who aren’t overly fond of ghost stories.

Other related materials: Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste; The Nest by Kenneth Oppel, illustrations by Jon Klassen; Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley; Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder; Beyond The Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk; Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai; Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai; The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay Currie; Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani; Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan; The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews

Turtles All The Way Down Review

turtles_all_the_way_downTurtles All The Way Down by John Green

Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-0525555360

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis. Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts. from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: It was a selection for one of my book clubs and I figured it was time I got around to finally reading Green to see what made him so popular.

Why I finished it: I fully expected an emotional punch from Green, being familiar with the premises of most of the rest of his body of work. I did get the emotional punch I was expecting, but the book didn’t hit me the way I thought it would. Aza suffers from extreme anxiety and depression issues and the thoughts that worm their way into her brain make it often impossible for her to seem like she is anything but self-absorbed and maybe a little out of it – something, I am sure, thousands of readers experience every day. What gets me about Aza is her mental illness and that’s really the beauty of the book. Green, who also suffers from mental health issues, reaches past Aza’s issues on the surface and really confronts what it can be like to live with a mental health disorder. He doesn’t stigmatize the issues, nor does he go at it from a purely clinical angle like most of the rest of popular media. The readers gets the feeling that he is writing from the perspective of someone who has been there, someone who has reached into the deepest, darkest places in our brain, past all of the hangups and insecurities, and helped us find a light at what seems to be a gradually shrinking tunnel. Turtles truly captures what it is like to be stuck in your own head, with no real language or emotions with which to describe how we are thinking or feeling. I’m so happy that Green wrote a book like this because I think it will better help us understand how those with mental disorders are suffering and gives us insight about how we can best show our love an support. For more cool John Green Stuff, check out his website – the vlog is pretty awesome.

Other related materials: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; Paper Towns by John Green; Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan; An Abundance of Katherines by John Green; Looking for Alaska by John Green; The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephn Chbosky; Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow; Every Last Word by tamara Ireland Stone; A List of Cages by Robin Roe; Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

thanksgiving-snoopy-wallpaper

Happy Thanksgiving 2017!

Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful for all of the things we have in our lives: a home, a family, friends, and of course food. Food is an equalizer in many ways – no matter what our background, we can unite around a table full of delicious things to eat. Plus, food can tell us stories about different families, cultures, and experiences from around the world.

This year, I’ve compiled a list of books about food and cookbooks so that you can expand your food horizons. Maybe you only feel comfortable tweaking a familiar family favorite, or maybe you’ll branch out and try something completely different! Plus, cooking with family and friends can be a great activity to do together as the months get colder.

However you are spending your holiday, may it be a safe and happy one!

Straight Talk: The Truth About Food by Stephanie Paris; 978-1433348570

The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active, & Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids by Edward Miller; 978-0823421398

Good Enough To Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition written and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell; 978-0064451741

Science Experiments You Can Eat: Revised Edition by Vicki Cobb; 978-0064460026

Edible Science: Experiments You can Eat by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen and Carol Tennant; 978-1426321115

The Science Chef: 100 Fun Food Experiments and Recipes for Kids by Joan D’Amico and Karen E. Drummond; 978-0471310457

Cooking Class: 57 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Make (and Eat!) by Deanna F. Cook; 978-1612124001

American Girl Cooking: Recipes for Delicious Snacks, Meals, and More; 978-1681881010

The Pokemon Cookbook: Easy & Fun Recipes by Maki Kudo; 978-1421589893

The Star Wars Cook Book: Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis; 978-0811821841

The Star Wars Cook Book: BB-Ate: Awaken to the Force of Breakfast and Brunch by Lara Starr; 978-1452162980

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl, Felicity Dahl, and Josie Fison; Illustrated by Quentin Blake; 978-0140378207

The Wizard’s Cookbook: Magical Recipes Inspired by Harry Potter, Merlin, The Wizard of Oz, and More by Aurelia Beaupommier; 978-1510729247

Let’s Cook French, A Family Cookbook: Cuisinons Francais, Un livre pour toute la famille by Claudine Pepin with illustrations by Jacques Pepin; 978-1631591471

Let’s Cook Italian: A Family Cookbook by Anna Prandoni; 978-1631590634

Let’s Cook Spanish: A Family Cookbook by Gabriela Llamas; 978-1631590993

Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook by Yvette Garfield with foreward by Aaron Sanchez; 9780979210723

Handstand Kids Chinese Cookbook by Yvette Garfield with foreward by Ming Tsai; 9780979210747

The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio; 978-0761463139

The 2nd International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio, illustrated by Jack McConnell; 978-1503946484

MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks; 978-0451499127

The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook by The Culinary Institute of America; 978-0470928660

Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake! By Deanna F. Cook; 978-1612128559

American Girl Baking: Recipes for Cookies, Cupcakes, and More; 978-1681880228

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Lists

Solution Squad Review

solution_squad_coverSolution Squad by Jim McClain, art by Rose McClain, Serena Guerra, Christopher Jones, Joshua Buchanan, Shelby Edmunds, Jessica Lynn, Robby Bevard, and Paul E. Schultz

Solution Squad LLC, 2017. 978-0998942506

Synopsis: Follow the adventures of teen superheroes Equality, La Calculadora, Abscissa, Ordinate, Absolutia, and Radical as they use their math-based powers to solve everyday problems and even some extraordinary ones!

Why I picked it up: I heard McClain speak at a library conference this last summer and was intrigued by the notion of a comic being used to teach mathematics.

Why I finished it: As someone who found mathematics confusing and complicated in school (you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to plug numbers into a formula…), this book made me wish that my own teachers had been able to come up with some of the same creative concepts that McClain has conceived in Solution Squad. Using characters names and powers to reinforce basic principles, the reader is taken on a fun-filled mathematical journey that features some of everyone’s ‘favorite’ problems; for example, the two trains traveling at different speeds where one will eventually catch up to the other. McClain’s teaching expertise really shines in this book and in the lesson plans he has that will help other teachers be able to use his material in their own classrooms. I know I would have been a lot more incentivized by the comic angle when I was learning Algebra! And if you still aren’t that into math at the end of the book, that’s okay too. There’s still a lot of crazy adventures that will keep you guessing and maybe even playing along to solve the problems with our young heroes. It’s a great way to trick your brain into learning something new!

Other related materials: Everything You Need to Ace Math in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide by Altair Peterson, illustrations by Chris Pearce; Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook: The Complete Middle School Study Guide illustrated by Chris Pearce; The Everything Kids’ Puzzle Book: Mazes, Word Games, Puzzles, and More! Hours of Fun! by Jennifer A. Ericsson and Beth L Blair; The Everything Kids’ Science Experiment Book: Boil Ice, Float Water, Measure Gravity – Challenge The World Around You! by Tom Robinson; Klutz LEGO Chain Reactions Craft Kit by Pat Murphy; The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle and Other Surprising Stories About Inventions by Don L. Wulffson; Smithsonian Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner; Hidden Figures: Young Reader Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Reader’s Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Meeler, illustrations by Anna Hymas; Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women by Catherine Thimmesh, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews

Night of the Frankenfrogs Review

creeps_1Night of the Frankenfrogs (The Creeps #1) by Chris Schweizer

Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 978-1419717666

Synopsis: In Pumpkins County, weird things happen every day, but nobody ever makes a fuss. Nobody, that is, except the Creeps: Carol, a big-city girl new to Pumpkins County, who finds kindred spirits in Mitchell (monster expert), Jarvis (military brat with logistics know-how), and Rosario (girly girl on the outside, muscle underneath). The Creeps are on the case to figure out the spooky mysteries and still get to class on time. Last week it was a pudding monster. This week, it’s killer frogs—reanimated from the team’s biology class dissection experiment. Who’s behind the Frankenfrog attacks? The Creeps will track down the answers! from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: It’s the time of year for some creepy/scary stories!

Why I finished it: Schweizer has a gift for creating memorable and realistic characters that seem to jump off the pages and his first book in The Creeps series is no exception. Set in a town where the strange, kooky, and spooky go largely unnoticed, four brave sleuths are out to save their town from the odd creatures that would seek to overtake it. It was amusing to me that Carol, Mitchell, Jarvis, and Rosario seem to operate with a sense of disbelief that the citizens of Pumpkins County would let such creatures as a Pudding Monster go unchecked. But what our gang lacks in support from their peers they more than make up for in their uncanny ability to connect all of the proverbial dots. The art is bright and fun to compliment the prose, and the use of pseudo day-glo colors makes the book wacky, humorous, and a quick read that will get you in the Halloween spirit!

Other related materials: The Trolls Will Feast (The Creeps #2) by Chris Schweizer; Curse of the Attack-O-Lanterns (The Creeps #3) by Chris Schweizer; The Crogan Adventures series by Chris Schweizer; The Notebook of Doom series by Troy Cummings; Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks; Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi; Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier; Harry Moon books by Mark Andrew Poe; Honey Moon books by Sofi Benitez; The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; A Tale Dark & Grimm by Andrew Gidwitz; In A Glass Grimmly by Andrew Gidwitz; The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews

Donner Dinner Party Review

NHHT_3Donner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #3) by Nathan Hale

Amulet Books, 2013. 978-1419708565

Synopsis: The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It’s also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party’s predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey. from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: I’d been seeing this series on the shelves for a while, but I splurged on my own copy while I was at the comic shop.

Why I finished it: Westward Expansion was an exciting time in American history in which the country grew into what we now know as the contiguous United States. Stories of pioneers daring to leave the comfort of the East Coast and the Midwestern towns to journey into the unknown were always fascinating to me, especially considering how spoiled we are in the 21st century: we don’t have to boil water before we drink it, we don’t have to use a chamber pot to go to the bathroom, laundry can be done in a washing machine, we can go to a grocery store or a clothing store to buy food and things to wear, and advancements in modern medicine have made it possible to treat cuts and scrapes without the risk of losing a limb. The story of the Donner Party is arguably one of the more famous stories of a family moving West because of the tragedy and gore that surrounds it. As a student, I was grossed out by even the bare bones of details my teacher would give the class about the hardships that the Donner Party had to endure when they found themselves stranded in the mountains during the harsh winter months. Hale has done a fantastic job of expanding on the story we were given in history class, but keeps it tame enough for younger readers (because it’s so much MORE intense than our teachers ever gave it credit). He’s kept in a good chunk of the gorey bits – the story wouldn’t be much without it – but he also gives a voice to each of the members of the party so that we become more invested in their story of survivalism. Hale has also invested a great deal of detail in his art, carefully creating for us a snapshot of a wagon train and the daily life of the party as they came West. While it’s not the most definitive book on the Donner Party, it’s a fantastic read that is sure to become a great springboard into more research about the brave men and women who helped settle the American West.

Other related materials: Patty Reed’s Doll: The Story of the Donner Party by Rachel K Laurgaard, illustrations by Elizabeth Sykes Michaels; Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy by Nathan Hale; Big Bad Ironclad! (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #2) by Nathan Hale; Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood: A World War I Tale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #4) by Nathan Hale; The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale About Harriet Tubman (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #5) by Nathan Hale; Alamo All-Stars (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #6) by Nathan Hale; Raid of No Return: A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #7) by Nathan Hale; One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale; Guys Read: True Stories edited by Jon Scieszka; Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale; Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Leave a comment

Filed under reviews