Showing posts from May, 2010

The Pyramid of Souls: Book 2 of the Magickeepers, by Erica Kirov, 163pp RL 4

With The Pyramid of Souls, Book 2 in theMagickeepersseries, Erica Kirov continues the story of Nick Rostov that she started in The Eternal Hourglass. Nick had been living alone with his dad, the house magician at the rundown Pendragon Hotel in Las Vegas. Until the family of his deceased mother came for him. Once a pizza eating, school hating skate boarder, Nick is now a crystal ball gazing, sword fighting, school hating magician living with his mother's family in the amazing Winter Palace Hotel in Las Vegas where they are the magicians in residence for the most famous magic show in America. The only catch is, the magic they perform is real, not an illusion. Nick is happy to find he has a cousin, Isabella, who's magical talents allow her to speak with animals. However, he is much less excited about the Russian food he is forced to eat three meals a day, the Russian clothes he must wear and the lessons he must take to learn to read and write Cyrillic and speak Russian.
In B…

Magickeepers: The Eternal Hourglass by Erica Kirov, 231 pp, RL 4

Although the story of a protagonist who discovers he/she has a special gift, a long lost family and/or that an evil force is out to destroy her/him upon turning a certain age (thirteen, usually) has been told many times, with Magickeepers, Erica Kirov manages to conjure up an adventure that brings together some unlikely people and places as well as historical figures to make the familiar feel brand new. Top it off with Eric Fortune's excellent cover art and you know you have something special in your hands.
The opening pages of Magickeepers finds Nick Rostov at the end of the school year with a report card full of bad grades, his thirteenth birthday right around the corner and dreams of a lazy summer filled with skateboarding, gaming and junk food. Nick lives in the Pendragon Hotel in Las Vegas where his dad is the (worse than third-rate) house magician. Nick's mom died when he was a baby and his Russian grandfather, her father, remains a part of his life, although often at…

OH NO! Written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Dan Santat

OH NO! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) is the latest picture book fromMac Barnett, with amazing art work by the incomprable Dan Santat. As with all of Mac Barnett's books (thus far...) there is a story behind the story. With his first picture book, written fresh out of college, Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, Barnett, who really knows his kid's books, was interested in taking the "theme of Nice Kid Gets a Giant Pet [which] has a venerable history" and taking a look at the consequences that come with owning an enormous pet, which is rarely done in this particular genre. As he said in his interview at7 Impossible Things last year, "I thought, surely there’s a different story to be told here. And so came Billy’s ordeal, a nonstop parade of inconveniences and awkward social situations. This whale doesn’t talk. It doesn’t have a name. It’s not even mobile. This is not a fun pet. Even the ending, which leaves Billy feeling better, is not …

The Tin Forest and The Dragon Machine by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson

Written by Helen Ward and illustrated by Wayne AndersonThe Tin Forest and The Dragon Machineare by far two of my favorite picture books and both are available in PAPERBACK! The stories are magical and fairy tale like in tone, as are the illustrations. Both books create worlds you can get lost in.  And, the stories are short enough and the artwork so engaging that even the littlest listeners will sit still to hear either of these books read out loud.

The Tin Forest tells the story of a man who lived in a, "wide, windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten, that was filled with all the things that no one wanted." Surrounded by cast-offs, the little man tries to clear away the garbage every day, "sifting and sorting, burning and burying." Every night the man dreams of a lush world full of plants and animals, but every day he awakens to the same dull grey world. One day, he decides to build the world that he dreams of out of the refuse that surrounds him an…

Iron Giant: A Story Told in Five Nights by Ted Hughes, illustrated by Andrew Davidson 78 pp RL 2

Published in 1968 and made into an animated movie in 1999, The Iron Giant, with illustrations by Andrew Davis, is one of the many books for children written by Ted Hughes, who was British Poet Laureate and husband of poet Sylvia Plath. Sadly, the companion to this book, The Iron Woman, is no longer in print.

A modern parable, The Iron Giant is the tale of how Hogarth, a farmer's son, befriends the giant and ultimately saves his life. Nobody knows how the giant was made or where he came from and he is seemingly terrorizing the countryside. When the farmers' attempt to bury the giant as a way of stopping him fails, Hogarth suggests feeding him scrap metal. When the giant emerges months later, causing an earthquake for Spring picnickers, Hogarth has another idea. Begrudgingly, the farmers and his father agree to it, insisting they will call in the army if it doesn't go as planned.
Hogarth leaves the Iron Giant happily well-fed in a junkyard where he can chew "on a g…

Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel by Paul Guinan & Anina Bennet, 166 pp, RL 5

Boilerplate : History's Mechanical Marvel is a wonder of a book! I have to confess to being predisposed to robots in general and, with a houseful of historians, there was no way I could miss this book. The biography of "the world's first robot soldier" designed in 1893 as a prototype by Professor Archibald Campion for the self-proclaimed purpose of "preventing the deaths of men in the conflicts of nations, " Boilerplate follows the robot from his introduction into society to his final days. And, every steps of the way, the historical events that he takes part in are accurately and lovingly detailed (according to the historians in my house.)

As Sean G David, author of History Repeats: Lessons from a Gilded Age, notes in the forward to Boilerplate, "I first discovered Boilerplate while researching an article about Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. I kept running across tantalizin…







The Clock without a Face: A Gus Twintig Mystery by Scott Teplin, Mac Barnett & Eli Horowitz plus faces by Adam Rex and numbers by Anna Sheffield

The Clock Without a Face, as a picture book alone, is AMAZING! I have spent hours poring over it just looking at the pictures. Which is what you are supposed to do with a picture book, right? Right. Unless it is a book from the wildly creative, innovative, envelope pushing (at least in the world of kid's books...) mind of Mac Barnettand the talented people he has a knack for teaming up with. Barnett is the author of the Brixton Brothers Series, the first of which, The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity just came out in paperback and the superb picture books Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem, Guess Again!, and the soon to be released Oh No!. Mac's first three books are illustrated by the always amazing Adam Rex, who provides illustrations of the people (but not the places) in The Clock Without a Face. Oh No! is illustrated by another heavy hitter in the world of picture books and beyond, Dan Santat.

But, as stated above, Mac is not alone in this venture. Eli Hor…

Little Panda by Renata Liwska

Little Panda is the first ever picture book written and illustrated by the magnificent by Renata Liwska. Liwska is the illustrator of The Quiet Book, a brilliant must-buy. Little Panda is a story within a story, reminiscent of Jon J Muth's wonderful picture book, Zen Shorts, both for her use of panda bears and stories that teach. Little Panda begins in a playful way with a seemingly outlandish tale:
Just the other day, grandfather Panda was talking to his grandson. I'm going to tell you a story of a little panda and a tiger that flew,' he said."But that's silly. Tigers can't fly," interrupted the grandchild."How do you know if you haven't heard the story yet?" asked Grandfather.

The story of Bao Bao and his mother Lin Lin is what follows. Bao Bao spends his time climbing trees, playing chase and falling down, always under the guidance of Lin Lin. However, “Playing was not just for fun. It was also the way Lin Lin taught Bao Bao important …