When the prospect of a Middle Grade post-apocalyptic book was presented to me, I was over the moon. I'm a huge fan of MG fiction, but it seems like thWhen the prospect of a Middle Grade post-apocalyptic book was presented to me, I was over the moon. I'm a huge fan of MG fiction, but it seems like there's not a lot of it out there that stems into areas like this. Maybe it's because post-apocalyptic worlds aren't exactly happy places, but that just made me more excited to see how Peggy Eddleman would handle this in her debut novel.
What first struck me as odd was the fact that the science aspect of this book really doesn't make a lot of sense. I'm all for suspending disbelief to enjoy a book. If people can fly, and you explain to me why that's true, I'll happily follow along. In this case, Sky Jumpers tried its best to make sense of a world where very few people remain, and invention is the only thing that matters besides survival. I was tossed into a world where only primitive technology remains, and people put a heavy-handed emphasis on invention. If you don't invent, or you can't invent, you're an outcast. Or, you're our main character. Somehow she seems to be the only one who falls into this category.
That being said, I could have let most of that go, except that the questions that I had kept compounding. Characters in MG novels do all manner of amazing things. They set off on epic quests, save villages, and most of the time all by themselves. Nonetheless, my mind simply wouldn't wrap itself around the fact that Hope was in this role. Setting off into a blizzard with your very injured best friend and his five year old sister just doesn't make sense. Add in the fact that "Bomb's Breath", the very thing that kills people who try to enter the valley and is their only protection from outside, can be walked through by simply holding your breath? I'm so very confused.
Truthfully, this was a quick enough read. Hope and her friends were well written, and I could actually see the twelve year old persona in their thoughts and actions. That's where my enjoyment of this story hit a wall though. There was too much that just didn't mesh. I think if this were a Fantasy story, something where we're encouraged to let go of anything true (like scientific fact), I would have liked this more. ...more
The Northern Frights Charles Nukid is back, and this time he's in an even bigger mess than before. For someone who is such a stickler for the rules, pThe Northern Frights Charles Nukid is back, and this time he's in an even bigger mess than before. For someone who is such a stickler for the rules, poor Charles sure does seem to find himself in some pretty crazy situations! In The Northern Frights our favorite students from Scary School are sent off as exchange students to Scream Academy. They've heard that it's even scarier than their own alma mater! Is that even possible? Oh yes, yes it is.
I was so excited to meet the new characters in this book. Scream Academy is a huge melting pot of monsters and eager readers will get to meet everything from a yeti to a headless horseman teacher! I won't deny that Lattie, the newest Scary School student, was my favorite addition. A girl with ninja stealth, a heart of gold, and a millipede for a pet? How can you go wrong? I couldn't get enough of her and I really hope to see her back in the next book!
The message in The Northern Frights was also one that really spoke to me. I've learned that each one of Derek's books sneaks a life lesson or two. They're there, but cleverly disguised with wit and magic. In this particular book, Charles Nukid and his friends learn that it isn't what's on the outside that counts. You can be brave without being a monster, kind even if you look scary to others who might not know you, and good at something even if you have to do it a bit differently. I loved it.
The absolute only reason I rated this installment a bit lower than the previous two is because it is a little more serious, and a bit slower moving overall. I, for one, had a great time following the students as they survived near death experiences and muddled over ancient prophecies. However there weren't as many giggle worthy moments, and I know as a younger reader I'd definitely miss that. Rest assured, I still loved this book! I'm simply letting you know it's a bit different than the first two.
So, pardon me while I start a slow clap because I am totally blown away by the Scary School series as a whole! Book three, and I'm still totally enamored with every aspect of this adventure. If you haven't started reading yet, what are you waiting for?...more
Last year I raved over the first book in the Scary School series. It took me back to my days as a young reader, visiting Wayside School and giggling uLast year I raved over the first book in the Scary School series. It took me back to my days as a young reader, visiting Wayside School and giggling up a storm at the zany antics of the characters. Needless to say, Monsters on the March had a lot to live up to! I was looking forward to more adventures with my favorite students, and definitely looking forward to a wacky read. Luckily this second installment far surpassed what I was hoping for. I couldn't get enough!
Derek the Ghost, our lovable ghost writer, quickly draws the reader right back into day to day life at the scariest school on Earth. If you haven't had a chance to read the first book, never fear! Derek introduces us to the cast of characters once again so, even if you're starting here, you won't be lost. This time the kids face a new adversary, the Monster King. Scary on the outside, but surprisingly pleasant smelling, the Monster King is all about manners. Step out of line? You might be a monster snack. So you can imagine his disbelief when Charles Nukid dares to save his daughter from her pirate fiance! The battle for Scary School is on.
It is so easy to become immersed in this book, no matter what your age. There are ample nods to many things that only an older reader would get. I couldn't help but giggle as I met Jason, a young boy who always wore a hockey mask to school. I was equally delighted when I found out that Steven Kingsley was the best writer in school! This is a book that you'll absolutely want to read along with your kids. Or, you know, read by yourself on the bus. (I highly recommend this, as people will look at you oddly when you crack up laughing!)
This book is perfect for reluctant readers and, in my opinion, easily transcends both age group and gender. No matter whose hands you put this book into, they're bound to love it. The illustrations are wonderful, the writing is perfection, and the plot twists are sure to delight. I'm a fan, tried and true! Add this book to your reading list and join me in the fun!...more
The Trickster's Totem: Relics of Mysticus (Volume 2) The Trickster's Totem is the second book in H.B. Bolton's "Relics of Mysticus" series and, I'll aThe Trickster's Totem: Relics of Mysticus (Volume 2) The Trickster's Totem is the second book in H.B. Bolton's "Relics of Mysticus" series and, I'll admit, I was a little worried about not starting from the beginning. However I can assure readers out there that this book stands alone just fine. It might take you a few pages to catch up, but soon you'll be adventuring right along with Evan and Claire.
I have to say that I've always been a huge fan of Middle Grade protagonists. Evan and Claire are no exception to this rule. Strong, witty, and very resourceful, I had a lot of fun following along with them in their journey. I will be honest and say that I wasn't a huge fan of Evan at first. He has a bit of a big brother complex! However the more I read, the more I saw the link between these two siblings and how strong it was. Plus I've been assured by other readers that the Evan in the first book was nothing like he is here. Perhaps he's just going through growing pains? Makes sense to me.
In terms of story, I definitely enjoyed the concept of totems and spirit animals that H.B. Bolton brings to life. The Trickster's Totem has a lot of elements from myths and legends I've heard before, but with its own twist. The story does move a little slowly at times. However I really think that this was because Bolton is trying help readers, like myself, who are starting at this second book catch up a bit. Once the book picked up, and the journey began, I was much more involved.
I'm curious to go back and read the first book now, both because I want to see where the story begins, and I want to see how our characters grow. Evan and Claire have a lot of potential, and I know that young readers will adore the witty banter that goes on between these siblings. Truth is, I liked it too. I'll definitely be continuing along with this series....more
Code Busters Club, The, Case 1 What a fun read! Do you love solving puzzles? Are you a fan of mystery? If so, this is the perfect series for you! TheCode Busters Club, The, Case 1 What a fun read! Do you love solving puzzles? Are you a fan of mystery? If so, this is the perfect series for you! The Secret of the Skeleton was a blast to read from beginning to end, and I'm not even the target audience.
Mr. Skelton, the "Skeleton Man" has a secret to hide, and the Code Busters club are going to uncover it.Cody, Quinn, Luke and M.E. bonded over the love of puzzles and codes. For Cody, whose whole life was turned upside down when her parents split up, the Code Busters Club is her favorite place in the world. Complete with a secret hideout, this is a club I'd love to be a part as well!
I definitely see young readers falling in love with these characters. From the fashionista, to the extreme sports lover, there is a personality for every reader to latch onto. These kids are fun, smart, and really brave too.The absolute best part, and I'm sure you will agree, was the codes and puzzles to solve! From semaphores, to Morse code, each chapter brings something new to the table. Are you a little lost? Never fear! The keys and answers are in the back waiting for you. I guarantee you'll be having so much fun solving them you won't want to look though. I had too much pride, I admit it!
Every chapter title is in sign language. By the time I reached the end I started to recognize a lot of the signals for letters. How cool is that?As you can see, this is a read that I really loved! The mystery here was fabulously laid out, with clues all along the way. Even as an older reader I found myself wanting to find out what happens next. I'm happy to state that there are more books in the series and, truth be told, I'll be there to read them! I can't wait to open up book two and dive in!...more
Where do I begin? I feel as though anything I write about Breadcrumbs won't do it justice. That all the feelings that are wrapped up inside of me areWhere do I begin? I feel as though anything I write about Breadcrumbs won't do it justice. That all the feelings that are wrapped up inside of me are entirely too large to fit into a review. Still, a review is the only way I know how to show my appreciation for this magical book, and so I'll do my best. I'll tell you now, if I could give this book a million star rating? I would. The entire time I was lost in Anne Ursu's brilliant story, I felt like I might be a bit enchanted myself. That feeling still hasn't gone away.
The writing is exquisite. Ursu weaves her words into a world filled with crystalline white snow. A world filled with boring school days, vivid imaginations, rocky friendships and a web of magic that pulses underneath it all. I knew that this was a retelling of "The Snow Queen" from the synopsis. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This isn't just a retelling. Instead it is a gorgeous mesh of two parallel worlds. One is a world in which a little girl is looking for where she belongs. For how she is supposed to fit. Then there is another world where steeling yourself against the ice, where forging forward despite the odds, is the only way to survive. This story is many things, but most of all it's a story about growing up and trying to hang onto that piece of yourself that growing up threatens to take away.
I cannot express enough how much I loved Hazel as a character. I've worked with kids for many years, and I know that it's tough to write a middle grade character who is as vibrant and layered as they are. Hazel is so very close to perfection in that respect. I believed I was in the mind of a fifth grader. I believed that Hazel was a real person with real thoughts and feelings. It's true that she is wise beyond her years, but I think I saw a little bit of myself in her. Reading and imagination go hand in hand. They take you magical places, and help you see the world in a new light. For Hazel, they show her that sometimes words are plastic flowers. That sometimes parents are just as lost as you are. Most of all, that sometimes the only thing you can do is push forward. Especially when your best friend needs you.
If I don't stop here, I'll gush for ages. I really will. I loved everything about this book. I smiled, and I cried. I drank this down like a person who hasn't had anything to drink in years. There was something missing inside me, something that called me to read this book. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, this is the type of book that I want to read to my someday children. I would love to wrap myself up in its pages and live there forever. This book is pure magic, and it settles right into its rightful spot on my favorite books of all time....more