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May 27, 2013 / Lorna

Meet Zita the Spacegirl

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The Story

In Zita the Spacegirl, Zita was just playing around when she presses the button on a mysterious box that fell from the sky. Before she knows it, her best friend Joseph is abducted by a mysterious object that pours from the earth. She bravely decides to follow on the hopes she can save him but she finds herself on a planet very different from home. Robots and other odd creatures make things challenging for a bit until Zita finds her wits and strength to navigate it all to save her friend. She is quickly thrust into the role of super hero. Throw in a con man who seems to want to help Zita, plus lots of action and adventure with some great new friends, and you have one exciting story. Zita is one tough kid! Her adventures continue in The Legend of Zita the Spacegirl, where she deals with her new-found fame as space hero.

The Trailer for Zita the Space Girl:

Why I like this book:

  • It’s a fast-paced graphic novel.
  • Hatke’s art is great. The alien world he creates is pretty spectacular.
  • It’s full of lots of action and excitement.
  • I love some of the side characters almost as much as I love Zita.
  • Yes, there is a girl on the cover, but boys you will be impressed by Zita.

Extras!

Check out the trailer for the second book, The Legend of Zita the Spacegirl

See some more art from the book here at the publisher’s website. It’s pretty cool.

What Next?

Other books you might like–

   

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April 24, 2013 / Lorna

The Cloak Society by Jeramey Kraatz

“You don’t just fall into supervilliany. It’s not like theater or baseball or the after-school club you join because all your friends are members. Supervilliany is a way of life. It’s something that you must want with every fiber of your being.”

-Alex, junior member of the Cloak Society

The Story

The Cloak Society is a powerful group of villians who were defeated ten years ago by the Rangers of Justice and forced into hiding. They have been quietly regrouping at an underground bunker just waiting for the perfect chance to make a comeback and destroy the Rangers once and for all. Alex, is a junior member of the Cloak Society, and he is training under the direction of Cloak leaders, which include his own parents. He desperately wants to follow in his parents’ footsteps in his road to villain-hood and works hard to develop his own strength of telekinetic powers. The Cloak Society is his whole world. His perspective is challenged, however, when on his first major mission for the Cloak Society, he actually ends up saving the life of a junior member of the Rangers of Justice. Everything he thought was right is turned upside down as he secretly becomes friends with this Ranger, a girl named Kirbie. Seeing life on the “other” side challenges his thinking like nothing else before.

The Trailer

Watch the trailer for The Cloak Society

Why I like this book:

  • It’s fast paced and has some amazing action and fighting sequences that might remind you of books like The Percy Jackson series.
  • It really makes you think — Can Alex change? Should he change?
  • I love that you get to see things through the eyes of a “bad guy.” It always interesting to get a different perspective on what is right and wrong.
  • It’s the first in a series, so the fun will continue when, The Villians Rising (Cloak Society #2) comes out this fall!

Extras!

Watch the interview with Jeramey Kraatz, who is also an animator, as he talks about his love of comics and how the book came to be.

The Cloak Society website has some fun extras:

  • Take the “Are You a Supervillian?” quiz
  • Read the first three chapters of the book.
  • Download some activities including a door hanger and a word search.

What Next?

Other books you might like–

 

March 19, 2013 / Lorna

The League of Princes Series by Christopher Healy

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (2012)

By Christopher Healy

Let’s give a huge shout out to Walden Pond Press for providing me with some book copies! We have two copies of Book 1 and two copies of Book 2! 

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom — The Story

You may think you know those stories about Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel and all those handsome charming princes who saved them. Well, you don’t know the half of it! Some of those stories you have heard aren’t quite right and they really don’t give you insight to the true personalities of those dashing, charming princes. Truth is, they actually have names. They have fears. And they have quirky odd habits and hobbies. They also have opinions about the princesses that just might surprise you. Meet Princes Frederic, Liam, Gustav, and Duncan. This laughable, loveable bunch meet each other and form an alliance to save themselves, their kingdoms, and yes, even a princess along the way. Granted, it may not be the safest, most efficient, or organized way, but they’ll get there. Lots of adventure, encounters with a surprising bad guy, and laugh-out-loud exchanges with each other.

Check out the Book Trailer:

You can also listen to an audio excerpt here. Narrator, Bronson Pinchot, reads the first chapter aloud.

You might like this if . . .

  • You enjoy some sarcastic humor like one finds in Lemony Snicket books or the Templeton Twins.
  • You like the idea of “fractured fairy tales” where an author twists a familiar story, like those of these famous princesses, and gives another point of view.
  • You like the Shrek movies . . . the humor hear reminds me A LOT of those movies.
  • You like books that make you laugh out loud, or want to run and find someone you can share a line of the book with.

Okay, now what?

Be sure to check out book #2! 

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle (April 2013)

The fun continues! This time the Princes work to keep a valuable object out of enemy hands. More craziness. More fighting.

What’s an ARC?

These special copies of the second book are ARCs, or advanced reader copies, which means they are special copies sent out to people to read before the book is officially published. You might notice funny things like typos in the text, slightly sloppy art, or even missing art. All of those things are fixed for the final copies that go on sale at the end of April. Enjoy getting a sneak peek at this books before the rest of the world does!

Other books you might want to check out:

Funny books —

Fairy Tales, Retold

February 25, 2013 / Lorna

Non-fiction Mysteries: Amelia Lost and How They Croaked

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart

Written by Candace Fleming

Published 2011 by Schwartz and Wade

What’s it about?

Yes, the title gives it away a bit, but this isn’t just any old Amelia Earhart biography book. Many of you may know a little something about Amelia, especially about her accomplishments as one of the great American pilots and as a pioneer for women. You might also know that her plane mysteriously disappeared as she was attempting to fly solo around the world. Candace Fleming creates a super interesting way to learn about her life. In alternating chapters she tells Amelia’s life story along side the story of the rescue operation that occurred after it was discovered her plane was missing. You’ll read about the panic of Navy ship officers as they realized they lost communication with Earhart’s plane. You’ll read about ordinary citizens with powerful radios who believe they heard Amelia’s voice on the radio after she went missing. All of the excitement of the search is broken up with chapters about Amelia’s life from childhood to adulthood when she became famous.

Why you might like it:

  • Amelia is a super interesting character. She wasn’t a perfect person, but she sure had a passion for what she did.
  • Her story is an exciting one. She did some pretty brave stuff.
  • I loved the format of alternating the biography chapters with the rescue operation chapters. It makes the whole book exciting, even if you know how the rescue mission turns out.
  • It is full of great photographs and copies of primary source documents like newspaper articles and flight documents.

Listen to Candace Fleming talk about historical figures in her nonfiction books:

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How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Written by Georgia Bragg and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley

Published 2011 by Walker and Company

What’s it about?

We all know it happens. Everybody does it. Yes, everyone dies. This book talks about the deaths of some really famous people, many of whom died before advances in medicine, like life saving drugs. Sometimes the deaths were violent. Sometimes they were just plain gross. Here are the stories of nineteen famous people, and if your stomach can handle it, they are yours to read, learn from, and probably even utter a few replies of, “Ewww! That’s gross!”

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Be Warned!: The introduction page in “How They Croaked”

Why you might like it:

  • The author does a great job of making these historical figures interesting. She’ll explain stuff you might not know about in a funny way. I promise, this history book is not one of those boring ones you sometimes hear people complaining about!
  • The illustrations are great and often pretty funny, too.
  • There’s fun extra stuff to look over like quirky facts about some of the diseases or people, or even what King Henry the VIII and his royal court ate on an average day (a LOT!).

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Now What? Here are some other nonfiction books you might like! 

(Click on the image to learn more about each title)

    

January 29, 2013 / Lorna

Pickle by Kim Baker

Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School

By Kim Baker with illustrations by Tim Probert

published September 2012

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Here I am with the author, Kim Baker, who I had the chance to meet this weekend while at a conference in Seattle. She lives here and is as nice as can be. I know she’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, so be sure to tell me what you think!

The Story

Meet Ben, Frank, Oliver, Bean and Sienna. They are five middle school kids and unlikely friends who join forces to form a secret club devoted to pulling outrageous pranks at and around school. Can they do it? Will they get caught? Needless to say Fountain Point Middle School had better watch out. Check it out for yourself:

Read an excerpt here.

You might like it if . . .

  • You like funny books with kids who are being silly or trying to get laughs.
  • You, yourself, like to pull a prank or two on people but agree that the best pranks are the ones where nobody gets hurt.
  • You like the idea of a secret club, just for kids.
  • It’s a great sampling of “Don’t try this at home” stuff, but it’s always fun to think about these things happening!

Okay, now what?

Some read-alike books . . . 

   

Want more?

You MUST go see the special website mentioned in the first chapter of the book, www.picklesforever.com, and follow the special directions in that chapter to get to the secret part of the website just for pranksters.

Go check out the interview that my book friend and teacher librarian, Mr. Schu did with Kim Baker. She is from Seattle!!

November 27, 2012 / Lorna

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea

By Ellis Weiner with illustrations by Jeremy Holmes

This humor-filled book has adventure, kidnapping, two bright 12-year old twins, two adult twin bad guys, a whole lot of crazy inventions, and a very sarcastic narrator. Check it out for yourself:

Why I like it:

  • It’s a funny and quick paced read!
  • It has fun illustrations.

You might like it if . . .

  • You don’t mind sarcasm, uh, I mean a lot of sarcasm
  • Or an interrupting narrator, who’s sometimes really annoying
  • You liked Lemony Snicket books

Okay, now what?

You might also like these books . . . 

 

Want more?

Click the link to read an interview that my book friend and teacher, Mr. Sharp did with The Narrator. It’s pretty funny.

October 25, 2012 / Lorna

Capture the Flag

Capture the Flag

By Kate Messner

The story, as shared by the author:

You can even read two chapters from the book right here! How cool is that?

Why I like it:

  • It is super exciting! Almost every chapter ends in a cliff hanger that has you itching to read the next chapter.
  • The characters, Anna, Jose, and Henry are kids, but they’re smart and resourceful when dealing with some pretty bad guys.
  • I love the setting of Washington, DC, The Smithsonian, and the innards of the airport.
  • It’s a series! The next book, Hide and Seek, which will have the same characters, is set to come out in 2013.

You might like it if . . .

  • You like mystery books, including Nancy Drew, Sammy Keyes, or John Grisham’s Thedore Boone: Kid Detective series
  • If you like thrilling books with great chase scenes

Okay, now what?

You might also like these books . . . 

 Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner, 2012. This is an exciting and suspenseful book set in the near future (around 2050) when climate change has resulted in increasingly violent storms. Jaden and several of her friends get swept up in some storm research that just doesn’t seem to be adding up. Great twists in this one, plus lots of super interesting technology and science information!

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The Apothecary by Maile Meloy, 2011. A super exciting spy novel with kids in the starring role. A wee hint of magic is also thrown in, but I wouldn’t call it a fantasy. Packed with bad guys, chases, and lots of unknowns. Set in 1950s London.

Extra! Extra! Want more?

Kate Messner’s writing organizers as seen on the author’s website

Authors really do use writing planners and organizers! Check out these notes, timelines, and story maps that Kate used while writing Capture the Flag. She even explains what each paper is here.