Picure Book Saturday: Arlo Needs Glasses

Arlo Needs GlassesEvery child who wears glasses will know just how Arlo feels, and will feel better because of it. And every parent will want that child to know that glasses are cool and fun and enable us to do the things we want to do. Take Arlo: He's a shaggy, free-spirited dog who loves to play catch, until one day he can't. He can't see the ball anymore. He needs glasses!

In this inventive, interactive picture book created by Barney Saltzberg, the bespectacled author of Beautiful Oops!, who charms young readers and their parents with a perfect light touch and joyful spirit, kids get to do just what Arlo does to solve his problem. They read an eye chart, look through a fold-out phoropter (that big machine optometrists use), and try on different pairs of glasses; movie star glasses! superhero glasses! mad scientist glasses! And they interact with Arlo as he rediscovers how to be the best ball-catcher in the neighborhood and picks up a new favorite pastime along the way; reading! One out of five school-age children needs glasses. Arlo will show them just how lucky they are.





Arlo Needs Glasses has to be one of the cutest picture books I have ever seen. I'm not just saying that because the fuzzy dog is wearing some pretty rad glasses, or because my 5 year-old son came home from VPK talking about this book and insisting that I get a copy right away. (Ok, that does have something to do with it.) But honestly, I just think it's darling.

I wear glasses. My dad wears glasses. So does my husband and just about everyone in his family. My kids will probably wear them too. I still remember my first pair of glasses and how awful they were. I refused to wear them. I preferred to fail science than to wear those tortoise shell coke bottles. It is such a horrible feeling for kids. Arlo Needs Glasses handles the life changing event of getting glasses in a fun way, which makes the young readers realize that wearing glasses isn't so bad. (Did I also mention that this book promotes reading as a fun past time too? Bonus!)

This is a very fun read for younger kids. As I read it to my son (and he read it to me and my mom), we had fun playing with all the interactive pages. (Our favorite was trying different style glasses on Arlo and reading all the funny dog related book titles.) Next time you are at the library, check this one out! It won't disappoint.


Review: Arise (Tara Hudson)

The Deets:

Audience: YA
Pages: 404
Publisher: June 5th 2012 by HarperTeen
ISBN: 9780007437283
Genre: ghost stories, mystery, paranormal romance
Source: library book



Arise (Hereafter, #2)

New Orleans
Saint Louis
Number One Cemetery
A night there can change a life . . . or a death.

Increasingly worried that dark spirits will carry out their threats and hurt the people she cares for most, Amelia is ready to try anything to protect them. And for his own very different reasons, Joshua has come to this cemetery at midnight to join her in a powerful ritual.

Both know that once Amelia steps inside the Voodoo circle and the beautiful girl from the Conjure Cafe begins the cere-mony, everything will change.




Arise is the second book in the Hereafter series by Tara Hudson. The first book, Hereafter, was amazing. I loved it. The story of a living boy falling in love with a ghost was so fresh (at the time) that I found myself completely caught up by their romance.

I found myself still caught up in the story of Amelia and Josh in Arise, but this time it was for different reasons. The setting of Arise moves from the some state that begins with an O (see how much that setting did not impress me) to New Orleans. New Orleans is the perfect setting for a ghost story, don't you think? While I don't think Tara Hudson did a fantastic job of making the city feel real, it still worked for the book. She focused on the tourist sites that were pretty easy to describe (Café du Monde, Jackson Square, etc.) instead of making the culture of the city come alive through the characters and their interactions. (Minor drawback) If you have read the Beautiful Creatures books, you'll know what I'm talking about when I say creating setting through character interactions. (Even though I find those books way too long for the story, the settings are top notch.)

Adding to the new setting, the new characters also made the story more interesting. We now have more ghosts and Seers. I was a little disappointed by how flat the new characters were. I never felt like I learned anything substantial about them-- or made a connection to them. I did, however, enjoy Gaby's brief role. I'm pretty sure she will reappear in Elegy, so I'm looking forward to that. I'm also pretty certain that some of the newer characters will reappear in Elegy and help tie up the loose ends I felt were rushed in Arise.

One thing I hope I do not find in Arise is Amelia being so annoying and wishy washy. I started skipping parts of Arise-- whole paragraphs at the time-- because I got sick of reading her thoughts. They never changed and they were tiresome. I'm not sure how many times she has to mention her dilemma and rehash it. It was very Bella via New Moon.

While Arise wasn't as great as Hereafter, it was a necessary book in the series. It helps set the stage for the final book, Elegy. If you skip this one, you probably won't understand the role some of the newer characters have in the final book.


ARC Giveaway: The Real Boy OR FreakBoy

Summer is a time for reading. Whether you're catching up on books that you've been meaning to read, or looking for something new, now is the time to get started.

Below, are two books soon to be released up for grabs. The publishers were nice enough to give me copies at a recent reading conference I attended, so I thought I would pass them along to you. (My TBR shelf is just way too big to keep these.)


Here is what's up for grabs. If you're interested, fill out the Rafflecopter form below each book.

The Real BoyFrom Anne Ursu, author of one of the most widely acclaimed and beloved middle grade novels in recent memory, comes a new fantasy adventure of magic, fear, and friendship.
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.

Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs, has written another unforgettable story of transformation and belonging-a spellbinding tale of the way in which the power we all wield, great and small, lies in the choices we make.




a Rafflecopter giveaway


Second book choice.  





From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

In razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.






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Kindle Fire Giveaway


Kindle Summer

This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".
Kindle Fire HD 7" Giveaway
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)
  Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)
 

Sponsoring Bloggers & Authors

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  Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway by signing up HERE. Ends 8/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: SYLO (D.J. MacHale)

The Deets:
Audience: YA, older MG
Pages: 407
Publisher: July 2nd 2013 by Razorbill
ISBN: 9781595146656
Genre: sci-fi, mystery
Source: ARC from author/publisher





SYLODoes Tucker Pierce have what it takes to be a hero when the U.S. military quarantines his island?

Fourteen-year-old Tucker Pierce prefers to fly under the radar. He’s used to navigating around summer tourists in his hometown on idyllic Pemberwick Island, Maine. He’s content to sit on the sidelines as a backup player on the high school football team. And though his best friend Quinn tells him to “go for it,” he’s too chicken to ask Tori Sleeper on a date. There’s always tomorrow, he figures. Then Pemberwick Island is invaded by a mysterious branch of the U.S. military called SYLO. And sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option for Tucker, because tomorrow may never come.

It’s up to Tucker, Quinn, and Tori to uncover the truth about the singing aircraft that appears only at night—and the stranger named Feit who’s pushing a red crystal he calls the Ruby that brings unique powers to all who take it. Tucker and his friends must rescue not just Pemberwick Island, but the fate of the world—and all before tomorrow is too late. 




Things that make you go hmm...

That's pretty much SYLO in a nutshell. This is going to be very hard to explain without giving away everything.

Here is what I can tell you right now: This is not a dystopian. Yet. I spoke with the author while getting a copy of SYLO signed at a convention a few months ago and he shared with me some interesting tidbits about the series. So far, SYLO is a mystery that sets the stage for the remaining books in the trilogy. It is not a dystopian, which was a bit disappointing since the book synopsis made it seem that way. However, MacHale did say that the second book (Storm) will definitely have a dystopian feel to it.

While I found this an easy read that kept me turning the pages, I found a few things that annoyed me along the way with our narrator, Tucker. Tucker is very wishy washy. He has ideas that he will share, but he quickly tosses them aside if someone offers a counterargument or alternate plan. That does not make a strong leader, and Tucker is part leader in his motley crew of renegade teenagers. I was also not thrilled with some of the people picked up along the way. While Olivia grew on me, Kent did not. I do not like Kent. He seems volatile and I do not understand how he is going to fit in Tucker's crew. Maybe that will become clear in the next book...

The plot is pretty straight forward and predictable. Do not expect any shock and awe here-- at least until the final chapters. I will admit I had a feeling where things were headed, but then I was thrown for a major loop when a HUGE discovery was made. Again, this solidifies that the remainder of the series is going to take on a dystopian feel. It's pretty imminent. 

I just hate that the best part of the book was at the end. I really wanted to find out more, but now I will have to wait. I am not a patient person. This is a fast read that I feel would be suitable for reluctant or struggling readers. It is a low level read, so anyone could read this without any trouble. If I were still in a classroom, I would get a copy of SYLO to put on my bookshelves. The boys would love it.

Minute Review: Foiled (Jane Yolen)

The Deets:
Audience: YA
Pages: 160
Publisher:  April 13th 2010 by First Second
ISBN: 9781596432796
Genre: graphic novel
Source: Library copy


Foiled (Foiled, #1)
Aliera Carstairs just doesn't fit in.

She's invisible at high school.

She's too visible at the fencing gym.

Aliera's starting to wonder...where does she belong?









I am a HUGE fan of Jane Yolen books. The variety behind the different types of stories she writes always amazes me. When I came across this book while browsing for graphic novels with my son, I snatched it up for myself. This was Jane Yolen so it had to be good.

Wrong.

I am so disappointed with this one. The idea is good enough, but there is just something off. Aliera makes a strong protagonist. She's a fierce fencer, a mediocre student, and a loner. That's a solid combination for an interesting character. Unfortunately, when a new student arrives, she starts acting different. She's cracking jokes just to get a laugh out of her new hottie lab partner, she's skipping out on her family for a date, and doing other things that would get classified as "silly".

Obviously there is something important about this new hottie on the scene. There are hints about a budding relationship, but nothing solid. That drove me nuts. It came across as more wishy-washy and poorly planned instead of mysterious.

Then the ending kind of rushes by and you are left going, "Ooookay." Foiled appears to be a series, or at least a second book is available. Maybe Foiled Again will have more action that lends itself to a well-developed plot. Foiled seemed more the setting and introduction to the story arc instead of a solid plot structure in and of itself.

I try to read graphic novels because some kids will read these over daunting chapter books, but this is one I will skip recommending for now. It just didn't dazzle me the way I expected it to.

Review: Selkie Girl (Laurie Brooks)

The Deets:
Audience: MG
Pages: 262
Publisher: October 14th 2008 by Knopf Books for Young Readers            
ISBN: 9780375851704
Genre: mermaids
Source: library book



Selkie GirlELIN JEAN HAS always known she was different from the others on their remote island home. She is a gentle soul, and can’t stand the annual tradition of killing seal babies to thin the population. Even Tam McCodron, the gypsy boy to whom she is strangely drawn, seems to belong more than she does.

It’s just a matter of time until Elin Jean discovers the secret of her past: her mother, Margaret, is a selkie, held captive by her smitten father, who has kept Margaret’s precious seal pelt hostage for 16 years. Soon Elin Jean faces a choice about whether to free her mother from her island prison. And, as the child of this unusual union, she must make another decision. Part land, part sea, she must explore both worlds and dig deep inside herself to figure out where she belongs, and where her future lies.

Cute. I hate to say this one didn't leave a huge lasting impression on me, but I did enjoy reading it.

The writing style was probably my favorite part. The author used great imagery throughout the book. I could imagine the salty taste of the ocean spray as I read about Elin Jean's adventures. It was very realistic. The author also did a fantastic job of developing the setting. Selkies are part of the Scottish folklore, so it is only natural that this tale takes place somewhere near there. Although it doesn't come outright say where, you get the impression that you are on some tiny island near Scotland. The dialect is very distinct, so get your context clues strategies ready.

As far as the story goes, it's a fast read with straight forward action. Elin Jean has a few tough decisions to make, which lead to an interesting outcome. I can't say too much about it without giving away the story. What I can say, though, is that this is a coming of age story at its heart. It is all about Elin Jean finding herself and her place in the world. That theme makes it easy to relate to for middle grade readers-- whether they are part selkie themselves or not.


For more mermaid fun, check out the Splash into Summer 2013 event. Click the image below!
 
Splash into Summer

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