Archive for March, 2011

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton

Shark vs. TrainTwo toys enter, one toy leaves!

Who is better, Shark or Train?

Well, that depends: what are they trying to do? Are they trying to run on a railroad track? Swim in the sea? Do something entirely different?

Shark and Train (and their human animators) will win you over entirely. The few deadpan words are perfectly chosen, and the illustrations are laugh-out-loud droll. I can’t wait to see more by this author and illustrator, and I hope they’re paired up for future fun.

Posted by: Sarah

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Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Close to FamousSometimes you really just need a good cupcake.

Foster McFee is not in a good place. She and her mama have had to flee Memphis because of her mother’s abusive boyfriend, and they’ve ended up in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Foster deals with the upheaval in the way she deals with everything–she bakes. Cupcakes, muffins, brownies, anything. Foster loves to bake and cook, and her idol is Sonny Kroll, a Food Network chef and former marine; Sonny’s show is what keeps Foster going when everything around her is chaotic and painful. When Sonny is in a motorcycle accident and, nearly at the same time, Foster’s mother’s ex-boyfriend reappears in their life, Foster has to draw on internal strength–and the support of her new friends and neighbors–to come out on top.

As always, Joan Bauer has written a book that is heart-warming without being schmaltzy, featuring characters that are quirky without being unrealistic, in situations both original and completely down-to-earth. It’s both good and bad that she rarely writes sequels–her books are always perfectly satisfying the way they are, but any reader would love to spend more time with her characters. In this case, though, they might also end up wanting some cupcakes.

Posted by: Sarah

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Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Interrupting ChickenThis is a very funny and clever story of a little red chicken who wants her papa to read her a bedtime story. The problem is that every time he does, she interrupts him by finishing the story herself – saving the characters from danger and ending the story early! She just can’t help herself, and each time she promises Papa that she will be good and just listen to the story, but then she does it again. Finally in the end he runs out of stories and asks the little red chicken to read him a story, which she does and before she can finish the story, he interrupts her with Zzzzzzzz! What a perfect ending to a wonderful story!

Posted by: Mary

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Cupcake by Charise Mericle Harper

CupcakeI must be hungry when I select my books to review, because this month I selected another about food. The book, Cupcake, is about a plain vanilla cupcake that is happy in his cupcake family until he realizes they all have something special about them. There is Pink Princess Cupcake, Chocolaty Chocolate Cupcake and another with fancy polka frosting. Cupcake meets a plain green candle that understands his pain. All his sibling candles have something special about them as well. To help out, Candle thinks up different toppings to add to Cupcake – including spaghetti and a pickle (which would be my husband’s favorite). None of them are quite right. Eventually the two become a pair, although candle is still a little dim.

Posted by: Liz

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Powerless by Matthew Cody

PowerlessI loved this book. I thought that I would not enjoy it much. It is about children with super powers and I just didn’t think that I would like it. Then there is the cover. I hated the cover. I hope it doesn’t discourage older children because this book is really good.

The story is about children who have super powers. They all live in a small town in Pennsylvania, Noble’s Green, the Safest Town on Earth. Some of them can fly, one has amazing strength, one can become invisible. They follow rules that have been passed down to them from previous super powered children. They remain anonymous but sometimes they use their secret powers to save people. But there is something terrible that haunts them all. Each child loses their super powers on their thirteenth birthday. Not only do they lose their powers but they also lose their memory of ever having been different from anyone else. They inevitably drift away from the friends they made when they were part of the band of supers. Each child dreads this day for themselves and for their friends.

Daniel Corrigan moves to Noble’s Green so that his family can be near his grandmother who has cancer. Daniel becomes suspicious about one of the supers and eventually becomes an accepted friend into the super powers group of children. Daniel is a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and decides to work with his neighbor to see if he can solve the mystery of how the children lose their powers on their thirteenth birthday.

What really powers this book is the group of children, their personalities and problems and how they relate to one another. It is a lot about being friends and dealing with problems. In addition It also has a scary villain and an interesting mystery. So my recommendation is read the book – many different kids will like it!

Posted by: Fran

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Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! by Matthew McElligott

Benjamin Franklinstein LivesEveryone knows the story about Ben Franklin, the key and the lightning bolt. But, do you know the one where Ben Franklin, dead for hundreds of years, is buried in a Philadelphia brownstone’s basement and is re-animated—more or less successfully–by yet another lightning bolt? That’s exactly what happens in Benjamin Franklinstein Lives!

When budding scientist, Victor Godwin, discovers a long hidden laboratory in his basement he gets sucked into a wild adventure that will leave kids laughing and maybe learning a something they didn’t expect.

Beginning with the goofy cover art of Franklin as a zombie, the story mixes fantasy, fact, mystery and mayhem as Victor and Ben race through Philadelphia trying to discover the whereabouts of the Modern Order of Prometheans. Wait a sec, the Modern Order of what?
If you can spare an hour or two to have some real –and a little unreal–fun read Ben Franklinstein Lives! to find out.

Oh, BTW, did I mention the volcano?

Posted by: Eileen

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100 Cupboards by N.D.Wilson

100 CupboardsHenry York arrives in Henry, Kansas to stay with his Aunt Dotty, Uncle Frank and his three cousins, Penelope, Anastasia, and of course, Henrietta, in his family owned farm. Henry’s boarding school upbringing and sheltered life haven’t made him all that brave. In fact, he just stopped wearing a helmet in gym class recently, but Kansas is bringing out the adventurous side in him. He even plays a pick up game of baseball for the first time. Henry isn’t even afraid of being in the tiny, attic bedroom in the old farmhouse by himself. That is until the day he wakes up with plaster in his hair. He starts to pick at the plaster on the wall and discovers that behind the plaster on the walls is a tiny door. As has he picks further, he finds not one tiny door but 99 tiny doors. Soon Henry discovers the cupboards have been there for years and that his grandfather and many other Yorks have been involved with the cupboards and the secrets they hold.

Each door leads to another world. Some of the worlds are lovely, sunny places with charming magic but others are terrifying, dark lands that just glimpses through the small door horrifies Henry. But the draw is too great, and Henry can’t resist finding his way into these other worlds, and that is when the adventure truly begins. Henry discovers worlds filled with magical creatures, peoples and animals and, of course, danger. Henry opens a portal between his world and these magical worlds that compromises safety on both sides and begins an amazing series of books that is sure to delight all fantasy readers.

Posted by: Kelly

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