Monday, June 29, 2015

Baseball Is. . . by Louise Borden, illustrated by Raul Colon

Baseball is a complex sport riddled with rich history, monumental players, and loyal fans. But baseball is more than just a game. Baseball creates memories for it's fans with sitting in the bleachers, listening to commentators, cheering for a team, eating peanuts and hotdogs, singing familiar songs, and watching the American flag wave over the field. Baseball is an integral part of our culture that all are welcome to experience.

Borden's succinct, poetic words and Colon's colored pencil illustrations capture the purity of the all-American sport. Borden highlights baseball's memorable past, engaging present, and promising future in catchy prose, mimicking the pace of the game itself. Any fan--old or young, pro or rookie, boy or girl--will have their appetite for baseball quenched as they read Baseball Is....         

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein

Macbeth has seen the soothsaying sisters and they have foretold that Macbeth and his wife, Grelach, will have many sons. However, when Grelach bears a crippled girl, Macbeth wants to leave the newborn to the wolves. However, Grelach's lady-in-waiting, Rhuven, takes the baby to her soothsaying sisters Helwain and Geillis. They call the girl Albia and raise her as their own. But Albia's bloodstained heritage eventually comes out when Macbeth becomes king.

Klein creates another intriguing Shakespearean-based tale with Lady Macbeth's Daughter. This story is told from Albia's perspective as she witnesses the downfall of her power-hungry parents, hoping their madness will not trickle down to her. Besides adding a new character, Klein also gives more background as to why Macbeth wanted to become king. Beautifully written and incredibly imaginative, any fan of Shakespeare would enjoy Klein's spin on this classic play. A note to parents: because of the gruesome content of the play, this book is more appropriate for ages 13 and up.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose may have taken advantage of Al Capone to secretly get what his family needed, but Capone is smart enough to see a chance to help himself. Soon after Moose's sister, Natalie, starts attending her special needs school, Moose finds a note from Capone in his shoes. The note says that it is Moose's turn to do Capone a favor. Moose does not know what Capone wants, but he does know that Al Capone is still very powerful behind bars. For his own safety, Moose must decide if he should tell his parents the truth about Capone's part in helping Natalie or keep his secret and complete Capone's illegal errand. 

Choldenko's second book in her Alcatraz series is just as good as or even better than Al Capone Does My Shirts. Now that readers know who Moose is and how he thinks, they can delve deeper into his mind. How does he feel about Natalie's special needs? How far is he willing to go to protect his family and friends? How does he really feel about Piper? Following an undeviating plot, Choldenko adds more suspense, thrills, humor, and emotion to Moose's extraordinary story. The final book in the series is Al Capone Does My Homework.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Life on Alcatraz Island is just as confining for the guards and their families as it is for the prisoners. Take, for instance, the guard's son Moose Flanagan. He loves baseball, but his games are limited by the island's size, the prison walls, and the inexperienced players. His friendships are reduced to other Alcatraz kids, including the warden's troublesome daughter, Piper. His family life is stretched thin by a touch-and-go father, an Autistic, older sister, and a struggling mother. But a risky connection to the inmate, Al Capone, might either save his family or banish them from the island.

Al Capone Does My Shirts takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride: the dips of depression, the jamming of jealously, the loops of love, and the twists of trouble. Moose's story is heart-wrenching, but hopeful as he discusses how Alcatraz shapes his life. Through Moose's narrative, Choldenko reveals what life was like before Autism was recognized and treated. Al Capone Does My Shirts is deserving of its Newbery Honor because of the soul Choldenko knits into her words. A thought-provoking read appropriate for ages 12 and up. The next book in the series is Al Capone Shines My Shoes.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Encyclopedia of the End: Mysterious Death in Fact, Fancy, Folklore, and More by Deborah Noyes

Death is something that all creatures on the earth have in common. But as a society we all fear what lies ahead after death because it is an unknown territory. Noyes's Encyclopedia of The End helps to enlighten readers about the history and fantasy involved in the subject of death.

Noyes writing is refreshing, well-informed, and witty. She addresses common myths and facts dealing with death in a way that is comfortable and informational. Her subjects are arranged in an alphabetic order starting with "amulet" and ending with "wreaths." Her research encompasses all parts of the world and the different religious beliefs on this subject. This book would be a great addition to any home, school, or public library.


Review Found on The Children's Book and Play Review:

Monday, June 8, 2015

Murder at Midnight by Avi

Fabrizio has lived his life as a beggar on the streets of Pergamontio, Italy. But an amazing encounter changes Fabrizio's life forever as he is offered a chance to be a servant for Mangus the Magician. Soon after Fabrizio takes on his new life, news spreads throughout the court that someone is plotting to overthrow King Claudio. Unfortunately all the rumors point to Mangus as the main suspect. To save his master and his own life, Fabrizio must find and collect clues to solve the mystery and uncover the real traitor.

An original mix of medieval magic and detective novel, Murder at Midnight is a suspenseful, page-turner for any fan of mystery or fantasy fiction. Even though Fabrizio had a hard life on the streets, his street-smarts can be the means of his and Mangus's salvation. A prequel to Avi's 1999 Midnight Magic, this story explains what brought Mangus and Fabrizio together and how Mangus stopped practicing magic. Besides it being a great read, Murder at Midnight showcases what life was like during the introduction of the printing press. Murder at Midnight can be a satisfactory read-alone or, with Midnight Magic, an engaging, short series for young readers.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Genghis Khan by Demi

As the son of tribal leaders, Temujin grew up hunting, riding, and training to fight. When Temujin was nine-years-old, his father was unexpectedly poisoned leaving Temujin to become the leader of a large Mongol tribe. Proving himself through acts of courage, wisdom, and harsh loyalty, Temujin fought his way to become the commander of the world's most powerful army. His army ended up conquering much of Europe and China. Few people knew him as Temujin because he was known throughout the world as Genghis Khan.

This new edition of Demi's biographical picture book (previously published as Chingis Khan in 1991) is a dazzling interpretation of Asiatic art. In the style of woodblock prints and brushed color familiar to Asian culture, the pictures benefit from an extra element of metallic overlay which gives the images an authentic gold-leaf embellished feel. Demi's Asian interpretation goes so far as to include traditional red ink signature stamps, marking her work and adding legitimacy to the images. Genghis Khan is an excellent simplified historical text with stunning images. A great resource for ages 8 and up.

Full Review Found on The Children's Book and Play Review:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Mousehunter by Alex Milway

Emiline is not particularly happy being the mousekeeper to Isiah Lovelock, the most famous mouse collector in Midena. But when the pirate, Mousebeard, threatens Isiah's mouse collecting overseas, Emiline volunteers to join Captain Devlin Drewshank's crew to catch the feared pirate. But the mission is turned upside down when Drewshank and Emiline discover that Isiah is the real pirate.

The Mousehunter is the d├ębut novel for Milway in which he is both the author and illustrator. Milway adds illustrated entries from The Mousehunter's Almanac (a book written by Isiah Lovelock) at chapter beginnings to showcase the varieties of mice in this world--similar to Cressida Cowell's How To Train Your Dragon series. The Mousehunter is the beginning book of Milway's trilogy, with The Curse of Mousebeard and Mousebeard's Revenge following. Readers from elementary to high school will enjoy this rambunctious and rousing middle-grade read.

Full Review Found on The Children's Book and Play Review:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tutankhamun by Demi

Tutankhaten is born to Pharaoh Akhenaten and his minor queen, Kiya. Nine years later, Akhenaten dies leaving his son the throne. Because Tutankhaten is too young to rule, two men, Ay and Horemheb, rule in his stead. Both men try to influence the young pharaoh towards their differing religious beliefs. Horemheb sways Tutankhaten enough to have him change his name to Tutankhamun to honor the sun god, Amun: a god Akhenaten banished all his subjects from worshipping.

Tutankhamun is more than a biographical picture book describing the young pharaoh's short life. Demi takes readers back several generations to describe how royal power and religious beliefs affected Tutankhamun's reign. To illustrate Tutankhamun's life, Demi's models her images after the silhouettes, lines, patterns, and colors found in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, jewelry, and sculptures. But Demi takes the Egyptian theme even further by applying mediums commonly used within that geographical location. A beautiful resource to introduce young readers to the world of ancient Egypt.