This was a cute and clever quick little read. I'd place this somewhere between A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I certainly liked) and The Name o...moreThis was a cute and clever quick little read. I'd place this somewhere between A Series of Unfortunate Events (which I certainly liked) and The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (which I distinctly did not). It's not surprising then that this book fell somewhere in between as far as my enjoying it. One thing that this book has going for it, above and beyond its story is the actual look of the book. Everything in the book is printed in a blue tone, almost giving the book the feeling of blueprints, which is apropos given the Twins' father is an inventor of some renown and the Twins like to pride themselves of coming up with ideas of their own.
When their father is accused of stealing an idea that is used in his latest invention, the Twins find themselves in some very precarious predicaments (hence the Unfortunate Events vibe) and then they go on an adventure to try to prove their father's innocence (where Pseudonymous Bosch vibe comes from). Needless to say, precarious predicaments that the Twins find themselves in are wildly unbelievable and the adventures are fun, but for me at least, the book just lacked a certain something. Of course, there's also the fact that I'm not the target age for this particular book, but I do think my younger self would have loved this book. The adult me can appreciate the work that is put into the overall packaging though, since the book is quite nicely presented. Let your younger ones have a go at this, as I think it will appeal to them immensely.(less)
Mo LoBeau, 11 years old and rising sixth grader, is smart, sassy, spunky, and ready to take on the world. After washing into Tupelo Landing, NC, 11 ye...moreMo LoBeau, 11 years old and rising sixth grader, is smart, sassy, spunky, and ready to take on the world. After washing into Tupelo Landing, NC, 11 years ago during a hurricane and raised by the Colonel and the eccentric Miss Lana and helping to run their café, Mo didn't think her summer was going to be any different than any other, spending time with her best friend Dale and continuing to search for her Upstream Mother. That was before the murder. And the kidnapping. And the bank robbery. And Detective Starr. And Dale becoming the prime suspect in the murder. And another hurricane.
This is a laugh-out-loud funny books in some parts. Mo and Dale's friendship is hysterical, and their banter back and forth is some of the funniest bits in the book. Mo's no-nonsense sensibility is great.I really liked Turnage's message that sometimes family doesn't have to come from blood; the people around you and who care about you and take care of you can be just as strong a family as your biological one, sometimes more so. That may have been the best bit of the book for me, the care, understanding, and love that the Colonel and Miss Lana have for Mo.
I've heard that Sheila Turnage is working on a sequel to Three Times Lucky, and I'll be sure to be picking that up when it comes out to read more of Mo's adventures.
Neil Gaiman's latest, Fortunately, the Milk, is a goofy little tale of a father, a bottle of milk, some pirates, aliens, dinosaurs, vampires, and volc...moreNeil Gaiman's latest, Fortunately, the Milk, is a goofy little tale of a father, a bottle of milk, some pirates, aliens, dinosaurs, vampires, and volcano gods, all steeped together in the space-time continuum.
One morning, a brother and sister find themselves with no milk for their breakfast cereal, and their father, when realizing this means he also has no milk for his tea, decides to stop to the corner store for a bottle. When the father finally returns after making the children wait and wait, the story he has to tell of his adventures in keeping the bottle of milk safe for them is quite sensational, starting off with being abducted by aliens. What follows from there is an imaginative romp through space and time that is nothing but fun. There's nothing challenging here, and the story certainly doesn't take itself seriously. Skottie Young's stylized sketches throughout really highlight the story and add to the goofiness. He has a style that's uniquely all his own, and that style meshes with this story perfectly.
This would be a great book for a dad to read with his kids, but adults without children (like me) can enjoy it just as much. Recommended!(less)
Spirit Animals is the next series in Scholastic's multi-author, multi-platform, multimedia book series for middle graders, along with The 39 Clues a...moreSpirit Animals is the next series in Scholastic's multi-author, multi-platform, multimedia book series for middle graders, along with The 39 Clues and The Infinity Ring. I haven't had any experience with the other two series, so I don't know how this one holds up to those two, but when I saw this book available at ALA earlier this year, I thought I'd give it a chance.
I was actually pleasantly surprised by Brandon Mull's world building. He doesn't waste much time before we are thrown directly into the story and are given history to the character's world and mythology right away. In the world of Erdas, when a child turns 11, they are given Nectar to see if they can call a spirit animal to them. Not every child calls a spirit animal, and it is never known which animal they will call. The spirit animals become a companion to the child and they learn to work together, the child gaining some more than natural ability that is attributed to what their spirit animal is. When the animal is dormant, it becomes a tattoo on the person that it is bound to.
Four children from around the world (very deliberately multi-cultural, and very PC with 2 boys and 2 girls) each are given Nectar and they then each call one of the Four Fallen great animals of legend. It has been prophesied by a member of the Greencloaks (those in charge of protecting the Nectar and Erdas) that these four children were going to call on the great animals because their world is endangered as the Devourer, a great evil from the past, has also returned.
What follows from here is a fast paced adventure where the children must take on their first challenge and learn to work together with both themselves and their spirit animals. I really think this series will be a hit with both boys and girls, as Mull does a great job of portraying the kids in the book realistically, showing that kids can be smart and strong, but at that age, they still have insecurities to get over, and that it's OK to have those insecurities because their still young. I think the fantasy elements will go over well with kids, as they are portrayed as grand in scope, but not overwhelming, so I think a younger audience will really go for this.
I'll be picking up the next book to see how the continuing authors carry on with the groundwork that Mull has set. The next book in the series, which if the cover is anything to go on deals with the wolf spirit animals, is written by Maggie Steifvater, who is no stranger to wolf-based fiction with her Shiver Trilogy for young adults. That book will be released in January, 2014.
You can pick up a copy of Spirit Animals, Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull from Scholastic on September 10, 2013, at your favorite bookstore!(less)