Posted in Book Review

The secrets of ninja school

By Deb Pilutti

When I met Deb this summer, she mentioned this book would be coming out. We found it at the library and had to borrow it. This is the story of a girl ninja and her trying to find out her secret skill. She goes to a ninja school and tries to learns ninja skills. But Ruby is not naturally skillful. She gets frustrated and home sick. She thinks about home and the things that would help her feel better. She realizes the other ninjas are home sick and does something very nice for them. She also finds her special skill.

This is a story about hidden skills and appreciating less flashy skill. We all want to be fastest, smartest, bestest but maybe we have other skills that even more important. Skills like friendship, being thoughtful, being kind and doing good deeds.

I recommend this to kids who want to find their special skill or don’t think they are special. Maybe it would help them find their special skill- we all have one.

Posted in Book Review

Goldie Blox and the best pet ever

By Stacy McAnulty

I have had Goldie Blox for a couple years now and was excited to hear there are books now. Mom found this one for me at the store! I can’t wait to find the others.

In this story Goldie Blox is competing in a pet pageant with dog. She builds a cat too but I won’t tell you what happens to it. In the pageant, she needs to have her dog, Nacho, and he competes in three areas: obstacle course, command and talent. You wouldn’t be surprised to find out a dog named Nacho isn’t a natural at any of those. Well he is a natural at talent by getting Goldie her tools.

This is a fun book and it is like book candy. I think kids who like Goldie Blox will like this book. It is fun to see Goldie come to life – very very fun.

I would recommend it to second graders and first graders and people who like building.

Posted in Book Review

The City on the Other aside

By Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson

This is a graphic novel from First Second (thanks for the review copy!). It is a story about a girl named Isabel who goes to visit her dad in the country. There she meets some magical spirits called the Seelies and Unseelies who are at war. She is asked to deliver a necklace message to a Seelie General. With two new friends, she goes on an adventure to deliver the message and learns some cool lessons about herself.

This is a story about a girl who becomes a strong female but isn’t at the beginning. The illustrations are so great. This is a visual treat of a book. Instead of book candy, consider this illustration candy.

I think kids my age who like graphic novels will like this also adults.

Posted in Book Review

An atlas of imaginary places

By Mia Cassany and Ana de Lima

This is a picture book but for all ages. It is about imaginary places in the world like a bubblegum volcano or upside down mountain. The imaginary places are funny, colorful and some of the places I would like to visit. Some of them no thanks. I really want to visit the ice arena because there are penguins there.

I really liked the illustrations. There are so many details in them. It is kind of like a Where’s Waldo as you try to find all the details. I liked the creativeness of the places a lot. It could inspire a kid to think outside the box and make up their own imaginary place.

I recommend this to people that have a big imagination and people that need to think outside the box.

Thank you to Media Masters Publicity for sharing this with me.

Posted in Awesome Kids, Book Review, guest kid reviewer

Crafty Cat and the Great Butterfly Battle

By Charise Mericle Harper

Review by Ada

This book is a story about a girl named Birdie, who transforms into Crafty Cat, which is her crafty alter ego.  She does this whenever she needs to make something, or to help someone fix something.  Birdie makes her Crafty Cat suit out of different craft items whenever Crafty Cat is needed.  She has a friend named Cloudy who is a cloud.

Birdie wants to be a butterfly because her class is having a bug play about lots of different bugs.  She has to prove that she can be as fast as a butterfly, faster than the other kid who wants to be a butterfly.

You’d like this book if you like cats or crafts.  My favorite thing Crafty Cat can make is bookmarks.  If you want to make some too, there’s a craft section at the end of the book!  There is also a pattern to make butterfly hair clips, and I am happy this is in the book.  I give this book five stars. I can’t wait to get more books to read about Crafty Cat!

(Review copy provided by First Second)

Posted in Book Review, Graphic Novels

Be Prepared

By Vera Brosgol

This graphic novel is pretty thick so plan some time to read it. I managed to read it in one morning thanks to an ice storm no school day.

In this book, Vera goes to summer camp. It is a summer camp for Russian kids. Her tent mates don’t really like her because they have been friends forever. She is the new kid at camp. At first she is miserable. Camp is not what she thought. The book is about how she managed to enjoy camp and also how hard being a young girl is.

I think this book might be for older kids and adults to remind them how hard it is at this age. I enjoyed it but did feel like I was missing something. My mom and I talked about the book – she got a lot more from it than I did.

I think this book would be good for kids who feel left out or who had miserable camp experiences. I will put this one aside and reread it in a couple years.

Posted in Meet the authors

Meet the author: Diane Magras

caption: Credit: Michael Magras
Credit: Michael Magras

Author website/social media: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads

1. When you were my age, did you like to read?

My favorite kinds of books were adventures, especially books taking place in a world I didn’t know. I loved books that made me think, but I wanted them to be fast-paced stories with a lot of color and imagination. I have very fond memories of reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

2. What was your favorite story?

My absolute favorite was Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. I’d always loved reading, but when I came across that book, my whole experience as a reader—and a writer—changed. Susan Cooper created a world of vivid characters in a setting that felt like a place I might had visited and slipped in a strong dose of British lore and magic. It was a different kind of magic than I’d read in other books, a deadly magic rooted in something very old. The Dark is Rising depicted dread and warmth in ways I’d never read before. It showed me how powerful a fantasy could be, and inspired me to start writing.

3. How do you get your ideas? 

I read a lot of historical books, and I write down little things that I find interesting. A scrap of a detail might become an idea for a book. When I visit castles, I always think about how people must have lived back when the buildings were fortresses and residences, and ideas come to me then too. The idea for The Mad Wolf’s Daughter came to me as I was plotting the backstory of a minor character in another novel I was thinking of writing—a novel I decided to put aside because Drest’s story was much more interesting. I’m always thinking of ideas, so the challenge for me is more to pick only one rather than to come up with one!

4. Your book “Mad Wolf’s Daughter” has a historical setting. How did you research it?

Primarily through historical texts and websites. There’s a wealth of material out there and a thriving community of medievalists and other historians who are generous in sharing their studies. I also visited Scotland to wander around historical sites and get a feel for what living in—or invading—a castle might have been like.

Art by Antonio Javier Caparo
Art by Antonio Javier Caparo

5. What author do you really like right now?

I love Jason Reynolds’s books. His writing is staggeringly powerful, and beautiful, and so important for everyone to read. He’s telling the stories of kids whose hopes, conflicts, and needs are not often depicted in books for children, and thus creating a crucial mirror for many. For other kids, looking into these worlds will help them better understand the greater world they live in. Oh, and his writing itself is exciting, precise, and utterly rich. My two favorites of his books right now are Ghost and Long Way Down.

6. Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest?

I’m really excited about a book called Meet Yasmin! that’s going to be published this summer. It written by Saadia Faruqi and illustrated by Hatem Aly, and it’s about a Pakistani American second-grader named Yasmin Ahmad who uses her huge imagination to solve various problems in a series of adventures. She has a lot of confidence, and is an utterly charming, fun character. This is an early chapter book that will inspire kids to think creatively.

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read—a lot. Read what you love most, but read books beyond your favorite genres because you never know when you’ll learn (or love) something from a book you didn’t expect to even like. Along with reading, think about what you read: What do you like most? What did this author teach you—in terms of life lessons, but also in terms of technique, of writing a scene?

Keep reading, but also write, and write every day, if you can. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas, so a notebook can help. Carry one with you everywhere and scribble down your thoughts when they come to you. These thoughts can be as small as an unusual color you notice, a describe that comes to mind when you see something like a flock of birds, or an observation you have: how other people are speaking or interacting. Dip into this notebook whenever you’re stuck on an idea and see if something from it inspires you.

And have fun! Writing should be fun most of all.

8. As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I love getting notes from my readers. It’s humbling, flattering, and fulfilling to hear when someone feels moved by my book, or connects with my characters, or just feels inspired.

Thanks so much for the interview!