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Showing posts from February, 2013

Thanks to My Readers for Sharing Pictures of YOUR Readers! And thanks to TOON for all the amazing books!!!

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, by Stephan Pastis, 294 pp, RL 4

Let's just get this 1,500 lb polar bear in the room out of the way right now: Yes. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis does join a long line of notebook-novel-knock-offs that have filled the shelves since the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney debuted in 2007. Yes: I do not really like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series for a number of reasons and am skeptical of all books that come in its wake. That said, there is one thing that I will be eternally grateful to Jeff Kinney for - making illustrations an acceptable, desirable quality in middle-grade novels - notebook style or otherwise. I am all for the merging of graphic novels and middle grade novels and there are actually a few Notebooks Novels I really love, including Amy Ignatow's Popularity Papers series and Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series. The existence of either of which does not seem entirely possible without the huge success of Kinney's books coming before. If nothing else, the immen…

Drift House: The First Voyage by Dale Peck, 437 pp, RL 4

** I wrote this review in 2009 and was thinking about this book again recently. Drift House is imaginative and thoughtful and poignant in ways that so many works of fantasy aren't these days so I wanted to introduce or remind you of it. Also, there is a FANTASTIC list of similar books (and links to me reviews) at the end of the review. The criteria being, each series (or stand-alone) features siblings (or, in a couple of cases, best friends) who travel to an unseen world, just like the Oakenfelds do inDrift House.**


As far as I know, Dale Peck's Drift House: The Frist Voyage, published in 2005, is the first book of fiction for children that takes the terrorist acts of 9/11 as a jumping off point from which to tell its story. While this makes for a fascinating start, it serves more as the event that leads the children to their adventure rather than having anything to do with the adventure itself, which I think is ultimately a good thing. For, despite the time specific occur…

The Alchemyst : The Secret of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by MIchael Scott, 369 pp, RL MIDDLE SCHOOL

The Alchemyst : The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott was published in 2007, the same year as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Last year, the sixth and final book in this series was published. So, if, like me, you are late to this party, the good news is that you don't have to wait a year for each book in the series to be written. And, the first five books are in paperback with book Six, The Enchantress, coming out in paperback in May of 2013. I purchased this book when it came out almost six years ago and my daughter read and enjoyed it. It's long been on my list of books to read, especially since, as a bookseller, I noticed a large number of adult flocking to this series and raving about it. While this series has much in common with Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series - mythological figures and creatures, fast paced action and battles - the heroes of Scott's series, twins Josh and Sophie Newman are fifteen, almost sixteen and these books a…

The Apothecary written by Maile Meloy with illustrations by Ian Schoenherr, 353 pp, RL MIDDLE GRADE

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy has so many intriguing things to recommend it. First off, the name "Meloy" caught my attention right away, having just finished reading and reviewing Colin Meloy's Wildwood when The Apothecary came out last October. Maile, author of a well received short story collection and two novels for adults, had her first book for kids published in the same year that her brother, Colin, frontman and songwriter for the popular band The Decembrists, had his first book published. How often does that happen? Also, a quick perusing of the jacket flap for The Apothecary revealed a scenario that is unique to middle grade novels - a teen who has to flee Hollywood for London with her screenwriter parents when they are blacklisted in the 1950s. Add to that a character who is training himself for a career as a spy and his father, the apothecary of the title, who is, when not running a chemist's shop, secretly practicing alchemy, and you have magical-historica…

The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, adapted and illustrated by Inga Moore, 181 pp, RL 4

Part One: In Which I Reminisce AboutWhat The Wind in the Willows Means to Me (Scroll down for my review of Inga Moore's adaptation of this classic) (Scroll to the very bottom for a peek at Return to the Willows by Jacqueline Kelly, author of 
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate!)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, published in 1908. I have wanted to review this book since I started this blog in 2008. It was a huge part of my childhood - one of my most magical reading adventures. In the absence of so much of the wonderful fantasy on the shelves today, when I was a kid some thirty years ago, traveling to the pastoral English countryside and spending time with the utterly domestic mole and the audacious toad was a trip to another world every bit as much a fantastic adventure as the journey I made to Hogwarts some twenty years later as an adult. I grew up with the Ernest H. Shepard edition of The Wind in the Willows published in 1933 and turned to it, no doubt, because of my childhoo…